With Russia’s S-300 in Syria, Israel Will Have to Think Twice About the Next Strike – By Ian Greenhalgh – VT

The new missile system provided by Russia is not a total barrier to airstrikes, but Israeli jets’ freedom of action will be significantly curbed

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Haaretz
With Russia’s S-300 in Syria, Israel Will Have to Think Twice About the Next Strike

The two latest developments in Moscow – the Defense Ministry’s report that placed full responsibility for last week’s downing of a Russian plane over Syria on Israel, and the announcement of the transfer of advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missile systems to the Assad regime – shouldn’t surprise anyone in Israel except maybe a few foolish supporters of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No matter how good his relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be, Netanyahu can’t make the problem disappear.

Russia suffered an embarrassing blow when Assad’s anti-aircraft fire shot down the plane, and it still has widespread interests to promote in Syria. It was quite clear that the affair would lead to a Russian condemnation of Israel and to demands of Israel. The bottom line still depends on Putin, who initially sufficed with a cautiously worded statement the day after the incident. For the time being it seems the result of the Russian steps will be a significant restriction of Israel’s freedom of action over Syria.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Monday that his country would supply Syria with S-300 ground-to-air missiles. Russia, he said, would also activate electronics preventing the activation of satellite tracking systems along Syria’s coast, making it harder for Israel to conduct airstrikes. And Russia will equip Syrian anti-aircraft units with Russian tracking and guidance systems to prevent mishaps in which Syria downs Russian aircraft.

The transfer of S-300 missiles to the Syrians, along with even more advanced systems (like the S-400) that the Russians are deploying near their bases in Syria’s northwest, don’t constitute a total barrier to Israeli attacks. According to foreign media, the Israel Air Force has trained for missions in which Israeli jets must contend with S-300 batteries – which the Russians sold to Cyprus and are now in Greece’s hands. It’s reasonable to assume that the air force can figure out how to reduce the risk when facing these systems.

In April, after an American attack and a number of Israeli attacks, Moscow announced that it would sell the S-300 systems to Syria, but it didn’t follow through. This time the Russians seem more determined to follow through, though it’s doubtful the weapons will be delivered in two weeks as promised by Shoigu, and it could take the Syrians a while to learn to operate the technology.

The test for Israeli-Russian relations is sure to come soon when a new intelligence warning pops up about an Iranian attempt to smuggle arms into Lebanon on a route near the Russian bases in northwestern Syria. Because Iran is determined to continue with its arms shipments to Hezbollah, and Israel has insisted on its right to attack such shipments, Jerusalem is bound to face a dilemma: Should it attack once again near the Russians and risk further exacerbating the crisis and even the downing of an Israeli plane?

Russia’s announcement of the decision to supply the S-300s and its report Sunday on the circumstances of the downing of the Ilyushin plane underscore one point. Moscow can’t accuse the main culprit responsible for the incident – its ally, the Assad regime. (It’s amazing to see that blame for the Syrian anti-aircraft forces doesn’t even appear in the Defense Ministry’s official statement.)

File photo: A Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft taxis across the tarmac at Central military airport in Rostov-on-Don, Russia December 14, 2010.

It was therefore clear from the beginning that the responsibility would be placed on Israel. It’s also interesting that all the blame is directed at the Israeli military, which the Russians accuse of being unprofessional or “criminally negligent, at the very least.” The Israeli political leadership isn’t mentioned except for one general claim about Israel’s alleged dangerous offensive policy in Syria.

The Russian inquiry seems dubious; some of its claims are odd. For instance, the Russians say Israel gave them a warning of only one minute (it’s surprising that Israel hasn’t stated the real time lag, which was much longer). According to experienced Israeli pilots, the claim that the Israeli jets hid behind the Russian intelligence-gathering plane is unreasonable and not in keeping with accepted operational practices.

The accusation that Israel deceived the Russians about the location of the planned attack also seems illogical. According to Russia, the IAF informed it about an attack in northern Syria, while the attack occurred in western Syria. Latakia is in northwest Syria, as a quick glance at a map reveals. And because the military coordination has been working successfully for three years now, during which hundreds of Israeli attacks have taken place, it’s hard to believe that the two sides haven’t yet cleared up some basic terminology.

The Russian announcement accuses Israel of ungratefulness in light of Moscow’s steps on behalf of Israeli interests such as keeping Iranian forces from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights. (The Russians say they’ve kept them 140 kilometers [87 miles] away, while actually it’s 85 to 100 kilometers, a buffer zone that doesn’t include Damascus, where Iranian soldiers remain.)

In recent years, Russia has been caught lying or spreading disinformation about its role in a number of incidents, the most recent being its involvement in the U.S. presidential elections, the poisoning of the former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain, and the invasion of Crimea and eastern Ukraine. So it’s hard to believe that anyone but Syria and Iran will adopt the Russian version of last week’s events.

But it’s unlikely that this will matter. Moscow has the last word on the plane affair. It seems Putin waited for an Israeli blunder to put Jerusalem in its place.

This isn’t the end of an era for Israel’s military operations in Syria, where it has conducted hundreds of attacks in the north over the past six years. But for now, it appears the situation on the northern front won’t return fully to the conditions before the Russian plane was shot down.

Israel has operated freely in northern Syria for years thanks to the combination of offensive actions and good diplomatic relations with the Russians. Mostly, Israel acted shrewdly, achieving many of its goals.

In this handout video grab released by the Russian Defense Ministry speaks to the media next to the screen showing the scheme of the incident during a briefing in Moscow, Russia, September 22, 2018.

But in recent months Israel has displayed excessive confidence in Syria. It’s unlikely that the Russians were happy with the Israeli military’s announcement this month that it had conducted more than 200 attacks in Syria since the beginning of last year. It seems Jerusalem hasn’t fully grasped the implications now that the Assad regime, with the help of the Russians, has regained control of most of the country, including the region bordering Israel.

Israel isn’t a superpower and isn’t invincible. It will have to take into account Russian considerations and maybe even adapt its offensive model. Senior defense officials say they ascribe great importance to the latest incident. Those who still claim that this is just a mild shudder on the wing must be so busy defending Netanyahu’s image that they’re no longer capable of analyzing reality objectively.

Russia, Central Africa Sign New Military Cooperation Agreement – By Alex Gorka – Strategic Cultural Foundation

Russia, Central Africa Sign New Military Cooperation Agreement
Alex GORKA | 22.08.2018 | WORLD / Africa

Russia and the Central African Republic (CAR) signed a military cooperation agreement on August 21. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and his CAR counterpart Marie-Noelle Koyara met on the sidelines of the Army 2018 defense expo outside of Moscow to finalize that agreement. According to the Russian defense chief, Central Africa “is a promising partner on the African continent.” The document covers arms shipments and personnel training. Central African officers will undergo training courses at Russian military academies and colleges. This year, Russia has already sent light arms, rocket launchers, and anti-aircraft guns for two battalions. It has 175 military and civilian instructors deployed in that country to train the personnel.

In mid-December, the United Nations granted Russia an exemption to the arms embargo on the CAR, paving the way for deliveries of weapons to that war-torn country that is still immersed in an internal conflict. The embargo is effective until Jan. 31, 2019.

The UN ranks the CAR as the least-developed country in the world despite its minerals reserves. Fourteen thousand UN peacekeepers are stationed within its borders, but the government, led by President Faustin-Archange Touadera, believes that that operation is ineffective. He has relied more on Russia’s help.

This agreement is part of that trend. Russia’s regional influence is increasing. The Democratic Republic of Congo has recently decided to revive its 1999 agreement on military cooperation with Russia. In April, Mozambique agreed to open its ports to Russian naval vessels. It was recently reported that Niger is interested in purchasing Russian helicopters and firearms, including grenade launchers. Russia and Guinea are working on a military agreement, which would include free access for Russian military ships to the country’s ports, training, and other security-related issues. Russia exports Mil Mi-8/17 and Mi-24/35 helicopters to Angola, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda.

The Russian Federation has military partnerships with Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Uganda, South Sudan, Mozambique, and Angola. In 2017, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir asked Russia to protect his country “from the aggressive acts of the United States.” All in all, Russia is responsible for 30% of all arms supplies to the region.

The military cooperation goes hand-in-hand with progress in other areas. In March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went on a five-day African tour to visit Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia. He signed trade agreements with Angola and Mozambique and also strengthened diplomatic ties with Zimbabwe’s new government.

Russian companies are exploring the Darwendale platinum deposit, one of the largest in the world. Russia’s Alrosa is present in Angola, a country rich in diamonds. Moscow and Luanda are engaged in talks over cooperation in hydrocarbon production. Last October, Russia signeda $20 billion agreement to construct two nuclear power plants in Nigeria.It recently established a special relationship with Rwanda toreconnect Russia with the East African community.

Benin, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia, among others, have all been recipients of Russian debt relief over the past decade. Russia is working with Zimbabwe’s and Guinea’s mining industries and also cooperates on nuclear power with Sudan.

Russia and the African Union (AU) are currently in the process of drafting a conceptual framework cooperation agreement. Moscow can offer its growingability to support peacekeeping operations and training for the African Union personnel, as well as the sharing of intelligence data about foreign terrorists with the African International data bank. The Russian Federation contributes to the UN peacekeeping operations in Western Sahara, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Sudan, and South Sudan.

Russiashowcased African business at the 2018 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. It is set to host a Russian-African Union forum in 2019. According to Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov, the forum will roll out a comprehensive, strategic road map for more economic cooperation and a wide range of investment possibilities, plus effective ways of addressing regional security issues and improving public diplomacy in Africa.

Russia’s relationship with the Southern African Development Community is also on the rise.

The states of the region are seeking to diversify their foreign relationships. Moscow is helping them to achieve this goal, as it enjoys a reputation as a reliable and pragmatic partner that is able to weigh in on regional matters both diplomatically and militarily. It maintains good relations with everyone in the region, making Russia the right choice when seeking a partner for a peacekeeping operation. Russia’s burgeoning influence in sub-Saharan Africa is a part of broader picture, as its clout has grown immensely in the Middle East and North Africa.

The reasons why confronting Israel is important – By Philip Giraldi The Unz Review – (SOTT)

NetanyahuCongress

© Unknown
Netanyahu and US Congress

The Jewish state is no friend.

I am often asked why I have this “thing” about Israel, with friends suggesting that I would be much more respected as a pundit if I were to instead concentrate on national security and political corruption. The problem with that formulation is that the so-called “special relationship” with Israel is itself the result of terrible national security and foreign policy choices that is sustained by pervasive political and media corruption, so any honest attempt to examine the one inevitably leads to the other. Most talking heads in the media avoid that dilemma by choosing to completely ignore the dark side of Israel.

Israel – not Russia – is the one foreign country that can interfere with impunity with the political processes in the United States yet it is immune from criticism. It is also the single most significant threat to genuine national security as it and its powerful domestic lobby have been major advocates for the continuation of America’s interventionist warfare state. The decision to go to war on false pretenses against Iraq, largely promoted by a cabal of prominent American Jews in the Pentagon and in the media, killed 4,424 Americans as well as hundreds of thousands Iraqis and will wind up costing the American taxpayer $7 trillion dollars when all the bills are paid. That same group of mostly Jewish neocons more-or-less is now agitating to go to war with Iran using a game plan for escalation prepared by Israel which will, if anything, prove even more catastrophic.

And I can go on from there. According to the FBI, Israel runs the most aggressive spying operations against the U.S. among ostensibly “friendly” nations, frequently stealing our military technology for resale by its own arms merchants. Its notable successes in espionage have included the most devastating spy in U.S. history Jonathan Pollard, while it has also penetrated American communications systems and illegally obtained both the fuel and the triggers for its own secret nuclear weapons arsenal.

Israel cares little for American sovereignty. It’s prime ministers Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu have both boasted how they control the United States. In 2001, Israel was running a massive secret spying operation directed against Arabs in the U.S. Many in the intelligence and law enforcement communities suspect that it had considerable prior intelligence regarding the 9/11 plot but did not share it with Washington. There was the spectacle of the “dancing Shlomos,” Israeli “movers” from a company in New Jersey who apparently had advanced knowledge of the terrorist attack and danced and celebrated as they watched the Twin Towers go down.

Comment: 9/11 is the Israeli leverage on America that keeps on giving. It shares secrets being kept from the US public about this horrific event.

Jewish power, both in terms of money and of access to people and mechanisms that really matter, is what allows Israel to act with impunity, making the United States both poorer and more insecure. A well-funded massive lobbying effort involving hundreds of groups and thousands of individuals in the U.S. has worked to the detriment of actual American interests, in part by creating a permanent annual gift of billions of dollars to Israel for no other reason but that it is Israel and can get anything it wants from a servile Congress and White House without any objection from a controlled media.

Israel has also obtained carte blanche political protection from the U.S. in fora like the United Nations, which is damaging to America’s reputation and its actual interests. This protection now extends to the basing of U.S. troops in Israel to serve as a tripwire, guaranteeing that Washington will become involved if Israel is ever attacked or even if Israel itself starts a war. The current U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley is little more than a shill for Israel while America’s Ambassador in Israel David Friedman is an open supporter of Israel’s illegal settlements, which the U.S. opposes, who spends much of his time defending Israeli war crimes.

And here on the home front Israel is doing damage that might be viewed as even more grave in Senator Ben Cardin’s attempt to destroy First Amendment rights by making any criticism of Israel illegal. The non-violent Israel Boycott movement (BDS) has already been sanctioned in many states, the result of intensive and successful lobbying by the Israeli government and its powerful friends.

So if there is a real enemy of the United States in terms of the actual damage being inflicted by a foreign power, it is Israel. In the recent Russiagate investigations it was revealed that it was Israel, not Russia, that sought favors from Michael Flynn and the incoming Trump Administration yet Special Counsel Robert Mueller has evidently not chosen to go down that road with his investigations, which should surprise no one.

Noam Chomsky, iconic progressive intellectual, has finally come around on the issue of Israel and what it means. He has always argued somewhat incoherently that Israeli misbehavior has been due to its role as a tool of American imperialism and capitalism. At age 89, he has finally figured out that it is actually all about what a parasitic Israel wants without any regard for its American host, observing on Democracy Now that

…take, say, the huge issue of interference in our pristine elections. Did the Russians interfere in our elections? An issue of overwhelming concern in the media. I mean, in most of the world, that’s almost a joke. First of all, if you’re interested in foreign interference in our elections, whatever the Russians may have done barely counts or weighs in the balance as compared with what another state does, openly, brazenly and with enormous support. Israeli intervention in U.S. elections vastly overwhelms anything the Russians may have done… I mean, even to the point where the prime minister of Israel, Netanyahu, goes directly to Congress, without even informing the president, and speaks to Congress, with overwhelming applause, to try to undermine the president’s policies – what happened with Obama and Netanyahu in 2015….

Politicians are terrified of crossing the Jewish lobby by saying anything negative about Israel, which means that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu always gets a pass from the American government, even when he starves civilians and bombs hospitals and schools. Netanyahu uses snipers to shoot dead scores of unarmed demonstrators and the snipers themselves joke about their kills without a peep from Washington, which styles itself the “leader of the free world.”

Just recently, Israel has declared itself a Jewish State with all that implies. To be sure, Israeli Christians and Muslims were already subject to a battery of laws and regulations that empowered Jews at their expense but now it is the guiding principle that Israel will be run for the benefit of Jews and Jews alone. And it still likes to call itself a “democracy.”

A recent television program illustrates just how far the subjugation of America’s elected leaders by Israel has gone. British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen is featured on a new show called Who is America? in which he uses disguises and aliases to engage politicians and other luminaries in unscripted interviews that reveal just how ignorant or mendacious they actually are. Several recent episodes remind one of a February 2013 Saturday Night Live skit on the impending confirmation of Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. A Senator asks Hagel. “It is vital to Israel’s security for you to go on national television and perform oral sex on a donkey… Would you do THAT for Israel?” A “yes” answer was, of course, expected from Hagel. The skit was never aired after objections from the usual suspects.

Baron Cohen, who confronted several GOP notables in the guise of Colonel Erran Morad, an Israeli security specialist, provided a number of clues that his interview was a sham but none of the victims were smart enough to pick up on them. Cohen, wearing an Israeli military uniform and calling himself a colonel, clearly displayed sergeant’s stripes. Hinting that he might actually be a Mossad agent, Cohen also sported a T-shirt on which the Hebrew text was printed backwards and he claimed that the Israeli spy agency’s motto was “if you want to win, show some skin.”

Cohen set up Dick Cheney by complimenting him on being the “the king of terrorist killers” before commenting that “my neighbor in Tel Aviv is in jail for murder, or, as we call it, enhanced tickling.” Morad went on to tell Cheney that he once waterboarded his wife to check for infidelity and then convinced the former Vice President to sign a “waterboarding kit” that “already had” the signatures of Benjamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon and Demi Lovato.

Another more spectacular sketch included a Georgia state senator Jason Spencer who was convinced to shout out the n-word as part of an alleged video being made to fight terrorism. After Cohen told Spencer that it was necessary to incite fear in homophobic jihadists, Spencer dropped his pants and underwear, before backing up with his exposed rear end while shouting “USA!” and “America!” Spencer also spoke with a phony Asian accent while simulating using a selfie-stick to secretly insert a camera phone inside a Muslim woman’s burqa.

In another series of encounters, Cohen as Morad managed to convince current and ex-Republican members of Congress – to include former Senate majority leader Trent Lott – to endorse a fictional Israeli program to arm grade school children for self-defense.

Cohen’s footage included a former Illinois congressman and talk radio host named Joe Walsh saying:

“The intensive three-week ‘Kinderguardian’ course introduces specially selected children from 12 to 4 years old to pistols, rifles, semiautomatics and a rudimentary knowledge of mortars. In less than a month – less than a month – a first-grader can become a first grenade-er.”

Both controversial Alabama judge Roy Moore and Walsh were fooled into meeting Cohen to attend a non-existent pro-Israel conference to accept an award for “significant contributions to the state of Israel.” Representative Dana Rohrabacher, meanwhile, also was interviewed and he commented that,

“Maybe having young people trained and understand how to defend themselves and their school might actually make us safer here.”

And Congressman Joe Wilson observed that

“A 3-year-old cannot defend itself from an assault rifle by throwing a ‘Hello Kitty’ pencil case at it.”

Cohen’s performance is instructive. A man shows up in Israeli uniform, claims to be a terrorism expert or even a Mossad agent, and he gains access to powerful Americans who are willing to do anything he says. How Cohen did it says a lot about the reflexive and completely uncritical support for Israel that many American politicians – particularly Republicans – now embrace.

This, in a nutshell, is the damage that Israel and its Lobby have done to the United States. Israel is always right for many policymakers and even palpably phony Jews like Colonel Morad are instantly perceived as smarter than the rest of us so we’d better do what they say. That kind of thinking has brought us Iraq, Libya, Syria and the possibility of something far worse with Iran.

Israel routinely interferes in American politics and corrupts our institutions without any cost to itself and that is why I write and speak frequently regarding the danger to our Republic that it poses. It is past time to change the essentially phony narrative. Israel is nothing but trouble. It has the right to defend itself and protect its interests but that should not involve the United States. One can only hope that eventually a majority of my fellow American citizens will also figure things out. It might take a while, but the ruthless way Israel openly operates with no concern for anyone but itself provides a measure of optimism that that day is surely coming.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org.

Comment: With Congress, the president and intel agencies in its pocket, who is going to confront Israel?

See Also:

Israeli air force pound Gaza, kill pregnant Palestinian woman and 18-month-old daughter, destroy city infrastructure – By Yumna Patel Mondoweiss (SOTT)

Israel pregnant mother toddler house

© Ashraf Amra
Palestinians inspect a house that was damaged in an Israeli airstrike on Dair al Balah in the center of Gaza Strip on August 9, 2018.

Three Palestinians were killed during pre dawn Israeli airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip Thursday. Among the dead were a woman, who was nine months pregnant, and her 18-month-old daughter.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza identified the pregnant woman as 23-year-old Inas Khamash, and her 18-month-old daughter as Bayan Khamash.

The two were killed when an Israeli airstrike hit their home in the Jaafari area of central Gaza. Khamash’s husband, Muhammad, was severely injured during the strike.

While some local media outlets were reporting that Muhammad succumbed to his wounds early Thursday afternoon, the Gaza Ministry of Health has maintained that he is still in critical condition and being treated in the ICU.

funeral toddler killed gaza

© Ashram Amra/ APA
Mourners carry the bodies of Palestinian Enas Khammash 23, and her 18-month-daughter Bayan, during their funeral in Deir Al-Balah in the central Gaza Strip on August 9, 2018.

The third slain Palestinian, reportedly a Hamas fighter, was killed in an airstrike in northern Gaza. He was identified as 30-year-old Ali al-Ghandour.

The health ministry added that around 12 Palestinians were injured, two critically, and were transferred to the hospital for treatment.

Israeli air forces pounded the Gaza Strip overnight, targeting over 100 sites in the besieged coastal enclave. The Israeli army said in a statement that forces struck 150 “terror targets.”

In a statement on Twitter, the army said the strikes were “conducted in response to the rockets launched from Gaza at Israel throughout the night,” adding that 180 rockets – at least 30 of which were intercepted by Israel’s “Iron Dome” defense system – were fired from the Gaza Strip.

air strike gaza 2018

© Dawoud Abo Alkas/ APA
A picture taken on August 8, 2018 shows a fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City.

Israeli media outlets reported that 11 Israelis were injured in the town of Sderot. One woman was reported to be in serious condition, while nine others were taken to the hospital. Thirteen other Israelis were reportedly treated for “shock.”

An Israeli army spokesperson told Mondoweiss that they could not confirm the number of Israelis reportedly injured.

The Israeli army said they held Hamas “fully responsible” for the escalation in violence, and that it was “determined to secure the safety of Israelis, is on high alert, & prepared for a variety of scenarios.”

“Hamas is responsible & bears the consequences for the ongoing events,” the army said on Twitter.

The army’s rhetoric has been echoed by Israeli politicians and government bodies over the course of Thursday, with the Foreign Ministry saying that Israel was “defending itself from from Hamas’ aggression.”

The US envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt released the following statement on Twitter: “Hamas regime again is launching rockets at Israeli communities. Another night of terror & families huddling in fear as Israel defends itself. This is the Hamas regime’s choice. Hamas is subjecting people to the terrifying conditions of war again.”

Neither Greenblatt, the foreign ministry, nor the army made any mention of the killing of Inas Khimash and her daughter Bayan.

The family’s neighbor told RT that he heard “a huge explosion” and then rushed onto the street. He saw “big huge smoke” coming from the Khammash’s house. When he entered the house, he said he saw the bodies. “We found the woman’s body shattered into pieces, her little daughter too,” he said, adding that the woman’s husband was injured in the leg, stomach, and head.
Hamas official Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement that it was Israel who was responsible for the violence, and that “in the event of continued aggression, shelling and killing of the Palestinian people in Gaza, the resistance will not be silent. It’s duty to respond and break the occupation.”

On Twitter, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri echoed similar sentiments, and called on the international community to “shoulder its responsibilities towards Israel’s aggression and siege.”

Thursday’s events are the latest in a series of severe flare ups over the past few months in Gaza, leading many local and international officials to speculate that another large-scale Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory could be imminent.

Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted an unnamed senior Israeli commander as saying that the military is “nearing launching an operation in the Gaza Strip” if the current situation persists.

The official told Haaretz that Hamas “will pay the price for its violations in the last four months,” seemingly referring to the ongoing Great March of Return protests that began on March 30th, over which time Israeli forces have killed at least 160 Palestinians and injured 17,000 more.

“Hamas must go back to the understandings after the [2014 Gaza war], and if it doesn’t, it will understand the hard way,” Haaretz quoted the officer as saying.

gaza water plant destroyed

© Mohamed Mosleh/Facebook
Retaliation: Gaza’s Water & Sanitation Plant of al-Mughraqa city in central Gaza. The plant was completely destroyed by several Israeli air strikes.

With fears of a new Israeli onslaught on the horizon, reports have emerged of the UN scrambling to negotiate a ceasefire.

UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov, said in a statement issued on early Thursday that he was “deeply alarmed by the recent escalation of violence.”

“For months I have been warning that the humanitarian, security and political crisis in Gaza risk a devastating conflict that nobody wants. The UN has engaged with Egypt and all concerned parties in an unprecedented effort to avoid such a development,” he said.

Mladenov added that “if the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people.”

The Gaza Strip is home to more than 2 million Palestinians, over 70% of which are refugees who were forcibly expelled from their homes in present-day Israel when the state was established in 1948.

A more than decade-long Israeli air, land, and sea blockade has crippled Gaza’s economy, which boasts one of the highest unemployment rates in the world at 44 percent, leaving an estimated 80 percent of the territory’s population dependent on humanitarian assistance.

Gaza has often been compared to an “open air prison,” and in 2015, the UN warned that the it could become “unlivable” by 2020 if nothing was done to improve the situation.

Yumna Patel is a multimedia freelance journalist based in Bethlehem, Palestine. You can find her on twitter @yumna_patel.

Comment:

AngloZionist attack options against Iran – By THE SAKER – [This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

 

[This analysis was written for the Unz Review]

In the past few days, the Internet has been flooded with a frankly silly rumor about the US soliciting Australia’s assistance in preparing an attack on Iran.  Needless to say, that report does not explain what capabilities Australia would possess which the USA would lack, but never-mind that.  Still, the report was picked up in too many places (see here, here and here ) to be ignored.  In one of these reports, Eric Margolis has described what such a US attack could look like.  It is worth quoting him in full:

Outline of a possible AngloZionist attack on Iran

The US and Israel will surely avoid a massive, costly land campaign again Iran, a vast, mountainous nation that was willing to suffer a million battle casualties in its eight-year war with Iraq that started in 1980. This gruesome war was instigated by the US, Britain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to overthrow Iran’s new popular Islamic government.

The Pentagon has planned a high-intensity air war against Iran that Israel and the Saudis might very well join. The plan calls for over 2,300 air strikes against Iranian strategic targets: airfields and naval bases, arms and petroleum, oil and lubricant depots, telecommunication nodes, radar, factories, military headquarters, ports, waterworks, airports, missile bases and units of the Revolutionary Guards.

Iran’s air defenses range from feeble to non-existent. Decades of US-led military and commercial embargos against Iran have left it as decrepit and enfeebled as was Iraq when the US invaded in 2003. The gun barrels of Iran’s 70’s vintage tanks are warped and can’t shoot straight, its old British and Soviet AA missiles are mostly unusable, and its ancient MiG and Chinese fighters ready for the museum, notably its antique US-built F-14 Tomcats, Chinese copies of obsolete MiG-21’s, and a handful of barely working F-4 Phantoms of Vietnam War vintage.

Air combat command is no better. Everything electronic that Iran has will be fried or blown up in the first hours of a US attack. Iran’s little navy will be sunk in the opening attacks. Its oil industry may be destroyed or partially preserved depending on US post-war plans for Iran.

The only way Tehran can riposte is by staging isolated commando attacks on US installations in the Mideast of no decisive value, and, of course, blocking the narrow Strait of Hormuz that carries two-thirds of Mideast oil exports. The US Navy, based nearby in Bahrain, has been practicing for decades to combat this threat.

There is a lot of interesting material in this description and I think that it is worth looking into it segment by segment.

First, I can only agree with Margolis that neither the USA nor Israel want a ground war against Iran: the country is too big, the Iranians too well prepared and the size of the force needed for such a campaign way beyond what the Empire can currently muster.

Second, Margolis is absolutely correct when he says that Iran does not have the means to stop a determined AngloZionist (missiles and aircraft) attack. Iran does have some modern air-defense capabilities, and the attackers will sustain a number of losses, but at this point, the size disparity is so huge that the AngloZionists will achieve air superiority fairly soon and that will give them an opportunity to bomb whatever they want to bomb (more about that later).

[Sidebar: assessing Iranian air defenses is not just a matter of counting missiles and launchers, however, and there is much more to this.  According to one Russian source Iran has 4 long range anti-aircraft missile S-300PMU-2 systems (with 48Н6Е2 Mach 6,6 interceptor missiles), 29 military anti-aircraft self-propelled missile complexes Tor-M1, some fairly advanced anti-aircraft missile complexes like the Bavar-373, a passive electronically scanned array radar (whose illumination and guidance system almost certainly includes modern Chinese electronics) and an impressive number of radar systems early warning radar of the Russian, Chinese and Iranian manufacture.   This category includes systems like the high-potential long-range radar detection and target designation Najm-802 radar (has 5120 receiving and transmitting modules, operates in the decimeter S-range and is designed to detect ballistic targets and small elements of high-precision weapons), the Russian meter radar “Nebo-SVU” advanced early warning and control system with a fixed-array radar, as well as a meter range early warning radar of the type “Ghadir” .  Most importantly, these radars are all integrated into the network-centric missile defense system of Iran. For example, the “Ghadir” radar is able to detect not only the tactical fighters of the USAF, the KSA and Israel, but also ballistic missiles immediately after launch (at a distance of about 1100 km). As a result, the presence of Iranian radio engineering units of multi-band radar detection facilities in the Western direction (the Persian Gulf) will allow the Iranians to prepare a flexible echeloned air defense to defend against high-intensity missile strikes.  And yet, no matter how much the Iranians have improved their air defenses, the sheer number of of missiles (including the new advanced AGM-158 JASSM (Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile) low observable standoff air-launched cruise missile delivered by B-1B bombers) means that the Iranian defenses will inevitably be overwhelmed by any massive attack.]

I therefore also agree with Margolis that the Iranian oil industry cannot be protected from a determined US/Israeli attack.  In fact, the entire Iranian infrastructure is vulnerable to attack.

Margolis’ final paragraph, however, makes it sound like Iran does not have credible retaliatory options and that I very much disagree with.

Example one: Iranian capabilities in the Strait of Hormuz

For one thing, the issue of the Strait of Hormuz is much more complicated than just “the US Navy has practiced for years to combat this threat“.  The reality is that Iran has a very wide range of options to make shipping through this strait practically impossible.  These options range from underwater mines, to fast craft attacks, to anti-shipping missiles, to coastal artillery strikes, etc.

[Sidebar: Therein also lies a big danger: the Israelis and or the US could very easily organize a false flag attack on any ship in the Strait of Hormuz, then accuse Iran, there would be the usual “highly likely” buzzword from all the AngloZionst intelligence agencies and, voilà, the Empire would have a pretext to attack Iran.]

In fact, the mere fact of issuing a threat to shipping through this narrow body of water might well deter insurances from providing coverage to any ships and that might stop the shipping all by itself.  Should that not be enough, Iran can always lay even a limited amount of mines, and that will be enough (please keep in mind that while the USN could try to engage in mineclearing operations, to do so right off the coast of Iran would expose USN minesweepers to an extreme danger of attack).

Margolis does mention this issue when he writes:

While Iran may be able to interdict some oil exports from the Arab states and cause maritime insurance rates to skyrocket, it’s unlikely to be able to block the bulk of oil exports unless it attacks the main oil terminals in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf with ground troops. During the Iran-Iraq war, neither side was able to fully interdict the other’s oil exports.

However, I believe that grossly under-estimates the Iranian capabilities in this context.  Let’s take one example, the Iranian submarine force.

The Iranian submarine force is a highly specialized one.  According to the 2018 Edition of the IISS’s Military Balance, the Iranians currently have 21 submarines deployed:

  • 3 Taregh-class diesel-electric submarine  (Russian Kilo-class Project-877EKM)
  • 1 Fateh-class coastal submarine
  • 16 Ghadir-class midget submarines
  • 1 Nahand-class midget submarine

When most people hear “diesel-electric,” they think of old diesel trucks, and are not impressed, especially when these are contrasted with putatively “advanced” nuclear attack submarines. This is, however, a very mistaken opinion because submarines can only to be assessed in the environment they are designed to operate in. Naval geography is typically roughly divided into three types: blue water (open ocean), green water (continental shelves) and brown water (coastal regions). Nuclear attack submarines are only superior in the blue water environment where autonomy, speed, diving depth, weapon storage capacity, advanced sonars, etc. are crucial. In comparison, while diesel-electric submarines are slower, need to resurface to recharge their batteries and are typically smaller and with fewer weapons onboard, they are also much better suited for green water operations. In shallow brown water, midget submarines reign, if only because nuclear attack submarines were never designed to operate in such an environment. Now take a quick look at the kind of environment the Strait of Hormuz constitutes:

 

Notice the interesting combination of very shallow and shallow depth typical of brown water and then the green water type of environment when going further into the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea.  With this in mind, let’s see what kind of submarine force Iran has acquired/developed:

For brown water operations (Persian Gulf and Strait of Hormuz) Iran has a relatively large and capable fleet of midget submarines. For green water operations (the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea), Iran has three formidable Taregh/Kilo-class submarines (which are even capable of limited blue water operations, though with much less autonomy, speed, armament or sonar than a nuclear attack submarine).  Just like “diesel-electric”, the term “midget” submarine makes it sound that we are talking about a toy or, at best, some primitive third world hack which, at best, could be used to smuggle drugs. In reality, however, the Iranian “midgets” can carry the same heavyweight torpedoes (533 mm) as the Kilos, only in smaller quantities. This also means that they can carry the same missiles and mines. In fact, I would argue that Iranian Ghadir-class “midget” submarines represent a much more formidable threat in the Persian Gulf than even the most advanced nuclear attack submarines could.

[Sidebar: the USA has stopped producing diesel-electric submarines many years ago because it believed that being a hegemonic power with a typical (aircraft carrier-centric) blue water navy it had no need for green or brown water capabilities. Other countries (such as Russia, Germany, Sweden and others) actively pursued a diesel-electric submarine program (including so-called “air-independent propulsion” – AIP – ones) because they correctly understood that these submarines are much cheaper while being also much better suited for coastal defensive operations.  Ditching diesel-electric submarines was yet another major mistake by US force planners; see this article on this topic.  The new Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer were supposed to partially palliate to this lack of green and brown capabilities, but both turned out to be a disaster]

The Russian Kilo-class submarines are some of the most silent yet heavily armed submarines ever built, and they could potentially represent a major threat to any US naval operations against Iran.  However, we can be pretty sure that the USN tracks them 24/7 and that the Kilos would become a prime target (whether in port or at sea) at the very beginning of any AngloZionist attack. But would the USN also be capable of keeping track of the much smaller (and numerous) Iranian midget submarines? Your guess is as good as mine, but I personally very much doubt that, if only because these relatively small subs are very easy to hide. Just take a look at this photo of a Ghadir-class submarine and imagine how easy it would be to hide them or, alternatively, create decoy looking just like the real thing. Yet this midget submarine’s torpedoes could sink any vessel in the Persian Gulf with a single torpedo.

While the US definitely has a lot of very capable reconnaissance and intelligence capabilities available to try to locate and then destroy these threats, we also know that the Iranians have had decades to prepare for this scenario and that they are truly masters at what is called maskirovka in Russian military terminology: a combination of camouflage, concealment, deception, and misdirection. In fact, the Iranians are the ones who trained Hezbollah in Lebanon in this art and we all know what happened to the Israelis when they confidently waltzed into southern Lebanon only to find out that for all their reconnaissance/intelligence capabilities they were unable to deal with even a relatively primitive (technologically speaking) Hezbollah missile capability. For all the patriotic flag-waving, the truth is that if the Iranians decide to block the Strait of Hormuz the only option left for the US will be to land a force on the Iranian shore and engage in a limited but still extremely dangerous offensive land-attack operation. At this point, whether this counter-attack is successful or not will be irrelevant, as there will be so much combat activity in this narrow bottleneck that nobody will even consider to bring ships through it.

I also believe that Margolis is wrong when he writes that all Iran could do would be to stage “isolated commando attacks on US installations in the Mideast of no decisive value“.  One very real Iranian option would be to strike US targets (of which there are plenty in the Middle-East) with various missiles.  Furthermore, Iran can also launch missiles at US allies (Israel or the KSA) and interests (Saudi oil fields).

Example two: Iranian missile capabilities

I would not trust everything the CSIS writes (they are a very biased source, to put it mildly), but on this page, they posted a pretty good summary of the current Iranian missile capability:

On the same page, CSIS also offers a more detailed list of current and developed Iranian missiles:

(You can also check on this Wikipedia page to compare with the CSIS info on Iranian missiles)

The big question is not whether Iran has capable missiles, but how many exactly are deployed.  Nobody really knows this because the Iranians are deliberately being very vague, and for obvious and very good reasons.  However, judging by the example of Hezbollah, we can be pretty sure that the Iranians also have these missiles in large enough numbers to represent a very credible deterrent capability.  I would even argue that such a missile force not only represents a capable deterrent capability, but also a very useful war-fighting one.  Can you imagine what would happen if US bases (especially airbases and naval facilities) in the region came under periodic Iranian missile attacks?  Judging by the Israeli experience during the First Gulf War or, for that matter, the recent Saudi experience with the Houthi missiles, we can be pretty sure that the US Patriots will be useless to defend against Iranian missiles.

Oh sure, just like the US did during the First Gulf War, and the Israelis did in 2006, the AngloZionists will start a massive hunt for Iranian missile sites, but judging by all the recent wars, these hunts will not be successful enough and the Iranians will be able to sustain missile strikes for quite a long time.   Just imagine what one missile strike, say, every 2-3 days on a US base in the region would do to operations or morale!

Reality check: the US is vulnerable throughout the entire Middle-East

Above I only listed two specific capabilities (subs and missiles), but the same type of analysis could be made with Iranian small speedboat swarms, electronic warfare capabilities or even cyber-warfare.  But the most formidable asset the Iranians have is a very sophisticated and educated population which has had decades to prepare for an attack by the “Great Satan” and which have clearly developed an array of asymmetrical options to defend themselves and their country against the (probably inevitable) AngloZionist attack.

You have probably seen at least one map showing US military installations in the Middle-East (if not, see here, here or here).  Truth be told, the fact that Iran is surrounded by US forces and bases presents a major threat to Iran.  But the opposite is also true. All these US military facilities are targets, often very vulnerable ones.  Furthermore, Iran can also use proxies/allies in the region to attack any of these targets.  I highly recommend that you download this factsheet and read it while thinking of the potential of each listed facility to become the target of an Iranian attack.

The usual answer which I often hear to these arguments is that if the Iranians actually dared to use missiles or strike at the US bases in the region, the retaliation by the USA would be absolutely terrible.  However, according to Eric Margolis, the initial and main goal of a US-Israeli attack on Iran would be to “totally destroy Iran’s infrastructure, communications and transport (including oil) crippling this important nation of 80 million and taking it back to the pre-revolutionary era“.  Now let me ask you this simple question: if Margolis is correct – and I personally believe that he is – then how would that outcome be different from the “absolutely terrible” retaliation supposedly planned by the USA in case of Iranian counterattack?  Put differently – if the Iranians realize that the AngloZionists want to lay waste to their country (say, like what the Israelis did to Lebanon in 2006), what further possible escalation would further deter them from counter-attacking with the means available to them?

To answer this question we need to look again at the real nature of the “Iranian problem” for the AngloZionists.

Real AngloZionist objectives for an attack on Iran

First and foremost, there is absolutely no evidence whatsoever that Iran has any kind of military nuclear program.  The fact that the Israelis have for years been screaming about this urbi et orbi does not make it true.  I would also add that common sense strongly suggests that the Iranians would have absolutely no logical reason to develop any kind of nuclear weapons.  I don’t have the time and space to argue this point again (I have done so many times in the past), so I will simply refer to the US National Intelligence Estimate’s conclusion that Iran had “halted its nuclear weapons program” and leave it at that.

[Sidebar: I don’t believe that the Iranians ever had a nuclear weapons program either, but that is irrelevant: even if they once had one, that would put them on par with many other countries which took some initial steps in the development of such a capability and then gave it up.  The only point is that it is the official US position that there is no current military nuclear program in Iran.]

The real problem of Iran is very simple.  Iran is the only country in the world which is:

  1. Islamic and leads the struggle against the Saudi/Daesh/ISIS/al-Qaeda/etc. ideology of takfirism and the terrorism they promote
  2. Openly anti-Zionist and anti-Imperialist and combines conservative religious values with progressive social policies
  3. Successful politically, economically and militarily and thereby threatens the monopoly of power of Israel in the region

Any one of those features by itself would already constitute a grievous case of crimethink from the point of view of the Empire and would fully deserve a reaction of absolute hatred, fear and a grim determination to eliminate the government and people which dare to support it.  No wonder that by combining all three Iran is so hated by the AngloZionists.

This entire canard about some Iranian nuclear a program is just a pretext for a hate campaign and a possible attack on Iran.  But in reality, the goals of the AngloZionists is not to disarm Iran, but exactly as Margolis says: to bomb this “disobedient” country and people “back to the pre-revolutionary era”.

Here is the key thing: the Iranians perfectly understand that. The obvious conclusion is this: if the purpose of an AngloZionist attack will be to bomb Iran back into the pre-revolutionary era, then why would the Iranians hold back and not offer the maximal resistance possible?

Because of the threat of a US nuclear retaliation?

US nuclear attack options – not much of an option in reality

Here again, we need to look at the context, not just assume that the use of nuclear weapons is some kind of magical panacea which immediately forces the enemy to give up the fight and to unconditionally surrender. This is far from being the truth.

First, nuclear weapons are only effective when used against a lucrative target.  Just murdering civilians like what the USA did in Japan does absolutely no good if your goal is to defeat your opponent’s armed forces.  If anything, nuking your opponents “value” targets will might only increase his determination to fight to the end.  I have no doubt that, just as during the first Gulf War, the USA has already made a typical list of targets it would want to strike in Iran: a mix of key government buildings and installations and a number of military units and facilities.  However, in most cases, those could also be destroyed by conventional (non-nuclear) weapons.  Furthermore, since the Iranians have had decades to prepare for this scenario (the USA has always had Iran in its sights since the 1979 Revolution), you can be quite sure that all the peacetime facilities have been duplicated for wartime situations. Thus while many high-visibility targets will be destroyed, their wartime counterparts will immediately take over.  One might think that nukes could be used to destroy deeply buried targets, and this is partially true, but some targets are buried too deep to be destroyed (even by a nuclear blast) while others are duplicated several times (say, for 1 peacetime military headquarters there would be 4, 5 or even 6 concealed and deeply buried ones).  To go after each one of them would require using even more nukes and that begs the question of the political costs of such a campaign of nuclear strikes.

In political terms, the day the USA uses a nuclear weapon against any enemy it will have committed a political suicide from which the Hegemony will never recover. While a majority of US Americans might consider that “might makes right” and “screw the UN”, for the rest of the world the first use of nuclear weapons (as opposed to a retaliatory counter-strike) is an unthinkable abomination and crime, especially for an illegal act of aggression (there is no way the UNSC will authorize a US attack on Iran). Even if the White House declares that it “had to” use nukes to “protect the world” against the “nuclear armed Ayatollah”, the vast majority of the planet will react with total outrage (especially after the Iraqi WMD canard!). Furthermore, any US nuclear strike will instantly turn the Iranians from villains into victims. Why would the US decide to pay such an exorbitant political price just to use nuclear weapons on targets which would not yield any substantial advantage for the US? Under normal circumstances, I would think that this kind of unprovoked use of nuclear weapons would be quite unthinkable and illogical. However, in the current political context in the USA, there is one possibility which really frightens me.

Trump as the “disposable President” for the Neocons?

The Neocons hate Trump, but they also own him.  The best example of this kind of “ownership” is the US decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem which was an incredibly stupid act, but one which the Israel Lobby demanded.  The same goes for the US reneging on the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action or, for that matter, the current stream of threats against Iran.  It appears that the Neocons have a basic strategy which goes like this: “we hate Trump and everything he represents, but we also control him; let’s use him to do all the crazy stuff no sane US President would ever do, and then let’s use the fallout of these crazy decisions and blame it all on Trump; this way we get all that we want and we get to destroy Trump in the process only to replace him with one of “our guys” when the time is right“.   Again, the real goal of an attack on Iran would be to bomb Iran back into a pre-revolutionary era and to punish the Iranian people for supporting the “wrong” regime thus daring to defy the AngloZionist Empire.  The Neocons could use Trump as a “disposable President” who could be blamed for the ensuing chaos and political disaster while accomplishing one of the most important political objectives of Israel: laying waste to Iran.  For the Neocons, this is a win-win situation: if things go well (however unlikely that is), they can take all the credit and still control Trump like a puppet, and if things don’t go well, Iran is in ruins, Trump is blamed for  a stupid and crazy war, and the Clinton gang will be poised to come back to power.

The biggest loser in such a scenario would, of course, be the people of Iran. But the US military will not fare well either. For one thing, a plan to just “lay waste” to Iran has no viable exit strategy, especially not a short-term one, while the US military has no stomach for long conflicts (Afghanistan and Iraq are bad enough). Furthermore, once the USA destroys most of what can be destroyed the initiative will be in the Iranians’ hands and time will be on their side. In 2006 the Israelis had to fold after 33 days only, how much time will the US need before having to declare victory and leave? If the war spreads to, say, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Syria, then will the US even have the option to just leave? What about the Israelis – what options will they have once missiles start hitting them (not only Iranian missiles but probably also Hezbollah missiles from Lebanon!)?

Former Mossad head Meir Dagan was fully correct when he stated that a military attack on Iran was “the stupidest thing I have ever heard”.  Alas, the Neocons have never been too bright, and stupid stuff is what they mostly do.  All we can hope for is that somebody in the USA will find a way to stop them and avert another immoral, bloody, useless and potentially very dangerous war.

The Saker

Syrian Army declares entire border with occupied Golan Heights liberated – By Ian Greenhalgh (VT)

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[Editor’s note: This is bad news for Israel and will be causing a good deal of pants shitting in the Zionist apartheid criminal state. Ian]

_________
Al-Masdar
Syrian Army declares entire border with occupied Golan Heights liberated

For the first time since 2014, Syria’s entire border with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights has been declared militant-free after both the rebel and Islamic State (ISIS) fighters conceded their last positions.

According to a military report from the Daraa Governorate, the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Armored Division was able to seize the Islamic State’s last border points this afternoon, following a fierce battle with the terrorist group’s Jaysh Khaled bin Walid faction.

Meanwhile, at the Shajarah front, the Syrian Arab Army’s Tiger Forces branch overpowered the remaining Islamic State terrorists at this key town, resulting in the capture of the latter’s last major stronghold in the Daraa Governorate.

With the border of the occupied Golan Heights cleared and Shajarah liberated, the Syrian Arab Army is on the verge of seizing the last 50 square kilometers of territory that is still under the occupation of the Jaysh Khaled bin Walid forces.

Once this last Islamic State pocket is cleared, the Syrian Arab Army will have full control of the Yarmouk Basin region and the entire Daraa Governorate for the first time since 2011.

Building a Russian Bogeyman: Washington Intentionally ‘Overcharged’ Relations with Moscow for Strategic Advantage – By Robert BRIDGE (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Building a Russian Bogeyman: Washington Intentionally ‘Overcharged’ Relations with Moscow for Strategic Advantage

Robert BRIDGE | 30.07.2018 | WORLD / Americas

Last week, we considered how the Bush and Obama administrations worked in tandem – wittingly or unwittingly, but I’m betting on the former – to move forward with the construction of a US missile defense system smack on Russia’s border following the attacks of 9/11 and Bush’s decision to scrap the ABM Treaty with Moscow.

That aggressive move will go down in the (non-American) history books as the primary reason for the return of Cold War-era atmosphere between Washington and Moscow. Currently, with the mainstream news cycle top-heavy with 24/7 ‘Russiagate’ baloney, many people have understandably forgotten that it was during the Obama administration when US-Russia relations really hit rock bottom. And it had nothing to do with Hillary Clinton’s home computer getting allegedly compromised by some Russia hackers.

The year is 2008; welcome to the international peace tour – although ‘farce tour’ would be much more accurate. Fatigued by 8 long years of Bush’s disastrous war on terror, with over 1 million dead, maimed or on the run, the world has just let out a collective sigh of relief as Barack Obama has been elected POTUS. Due to Obama’s velvety delivery, and the fact that he was not George W. Bush, he was able to provide the perfect smokescreen as far as Washington’s ulterior motives with regards to Russia were concerned; the devious double game America was playing required a snake-oil salesman of immeasurable skill and finesse.

Just months into his presidency, with ‘hope and change’ hanging in the air like so many helium balloons, Obama told a massive crowd in Prague that, “To reduce our warheads and stockpiles, we will negotiate a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with the Russians this year. President Medvedev and I began this process in London, and will seek a new agreement by the end of this year that is legally binding and sufficiently bold (Applause!).”

It would take another 8 years for the world – or at least the awakened part – to come to grips with the fact that America’s ‘first Black president’ was just another smooth-talking, Wall Street-bought operator in sheep clothing. In the last year of the Obama reign, it has been conservatively estimated that some 26,000 bombs of various size and power were duly dropped against enemies in various nations. In other words, nearly three bombs every hour, 24 hours a day.

But more to the point, US-Russia relations on Obama’s watch experienced their deepest deterioration since the days of the US-Soviet standoff. In fact, with the benefit of hindsight, we can say that the 44th US president picked up almost seamlessly where Bush left off, and then some. Initially, however, it looked as though relations with Russia would improve as Obama announced he would “shelve” the Bush plan for ground-based interceptors in Poland and a related radar site in the Czech Republic. Then, the very same day, he performed a perfect flip-flop into the geopolitical pool, saying he would deploy a sea-based variety – which is every bit as lethal as the land version, as then Secretary of Defense Robert Gates admitted – instead of a land-locked one.

Following that announcement, Obama appeared intent on lulling Moscow into a false sense of security that the system was somehow less dangerous than the Bush model, or that the Americans would eventually agree and cooperate with them in the system. In March 2009, a curious thing happened at the same time relations between the two global nuclear powers were hitting the wall. A meeting – more of a photo opportunity than any significant summit – took place between then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Geneva. To the delight of the phalanx of photographers present, Clinton, in a symbolic gesture of “resetting relations” with Russia, produced a yellow box with a red button and the Russian word “peregruzka” printed on it.

“You got it wrong,” Lavrov said to general laughter. “It should be “perezagruzka” [reset],” he corrected somewhat pedantically. “This says ‘peregruzka,’ which means ‘overcharged.’”

Clinton gave a very interesting response, especially in light of where we are today in terms of the bilateral breakdown: “We won’t let you do that to us, I promise. We mean it and we look forward to it.”

As events would prove, the US State Department’s ‘mistaken’ use of the Russian word for ‘overcharged’ instead of ‘reset’ was far closer to the truth. After all, can anybody remember a time in recent history, aside from perhaps the Cuban Missile Crisis, when US-Russia relations were more “overcharged” than now? In hindsight, the much-hyped ‘reset’ was an elaborate ploy by the Obama administration to buy as much time as possible to get a strategic head start on the Russians.

It deserves mentioning that the fate of the New START Treaty (signed into force on April 8, 2010), the nuclear missile reduction treaty signed between Obama and then-Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, hung in the balance on mutual cooperation between the nuclear powers. Nevertheless, it became clear the Obama sweet talk was just a lot of candy-coated nothing.

What is truly audacious about the Obama administration’s moves is that it somehow believed Moscow would radically reduce its ballistic missile launch capabilities, as prescribed in the New START treaty, at the very same time the United States was building a mighty sword along the entire length of its Western border.

The Obama administration clearly underestimated Moscow, or overestimated Obama’s charm powers.

By the year 2011, after several years of failed negotiations to bring Russia onboard the system, Moscow’s patience was clearly over. During the G-8 Summit in France, Medvedev expressed frustration with the lack of progress on the missile defense system with the US.

“When we ask for the name of the countries that the shield is aimed at, we get silence,” he said. “When we ask if the country has missiles (that could target Europe), the answer is ‘no.’”

“Now who has those types of missiles (that the missile defense system could counter)?”

“We do,” Medvedev explained. “So we can only think that this system is being aimed against us.”

In fact, judging by the tremendous strides Russia has made in the realm of military technologies over a very short period, it is apparent the Kremlin understood from the outset that the ‘reset’ was an elaborate fraud, designed to cover the administration’s push to Russian border.

As I wrote last week on these pages: “In March, Putin stunned the world, and certainly Washington’s hawks, by announcing in the annual Address to the Federal Assembly the introduction of advanced weapons systems – including those with hypersonic capabilities – designed to overcome any missile defense system in the world.

These major developments by Russia, which Putin emphasized was accomplished “without the benefit” of Soviet-era expertise, has fueled the narrative that “Putin’s Russia” is an aggressive nation with “imperial ambitions,” when in reality its goal was to form a bilateral pact with the United States and other Western states almost two decades ago post 9/11.

As far as ‘Russiagate’, the endless probe into the Trump administration for its alleged collusion with Russia in the 2016 election, not a shred of incriminating evidence has ever been provided that would prove such a thing occurred. And when Putin offered to cooperate with Washington in determining exactly what happened, the offer was rebuffed.

In light of such a scenario, it is my opinion that the Democrats, fully aware – despite what the skewed media polls erringly told them – that Hillary Clinton stood no chance of beating the Republican Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential contest, set about crafting the narrative of ‘Russian collusion’ in order to not only delegitimize Trump’s presidency, possibly depriving him of a second term in 2010, but to begin the process of severely curtailing the work of ‘alternative media,’ which are in fact greatly responsible for not only Trump’s victory at the polls, but for exposing the dirt on Clinton’s corrupt campaign.

These alternative media sites have been duly linked to Russia in one way or another as a means of silencing them. Thus, it is not only Russia that has been victimized by the lunacy of Russiagate; every single person who stands for the freedom of speech has suffered a major setback one way or another.

Part I of this story is available here.

Russia Marks Navy Day: Credible Deterrent to Keep Enemies at Bay -By Andrei AKULOV (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Russia Marks Navy Day: Credible Deterrent to Keep Enemies at Bay
Andrei AKULOV | 30.07.2018 | SECURITY / DEFENSE

On July 29, Russia marked its Navy Day. After many years of neglect, the service is going through the period of resurgence to become a second to none blue water force equipped with state-of-the-art weapons. It’s a lot more operational today than it has been in many years. In some areas the Navy demonstrates technological lead. Pretty much anywhere in the world, one can see the “Saint Andrew Flag”, the naval ensign of the Russian Federation, a radical change in comparison with what it was like just ten years ago.

In 2017, Russian ships made 46 port calls to drop anchor at 28 ports of 27 countries worldwide. The list includes five Western or West-friendly states: Greece, Portugal, Cyprus, Japan and South Korea, which account for 19% of the countries visited by Russian ships. Nine (33%) of the states on the list belong to the Asia-Pacific region, with other 13 (48%) situated in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia. The 81% vs.19% ratio illustrates Russia’s rebalancing from the West toward other countries and power poles. The Russian Navy also conducted six international exercises, demonstrating its global presence and power projection capability. The service has become strong enough to make the US re-establish the Second Fleet in the Atlantic.

A task force comprising three surface ships and three auxiliary vessels of the Baltic Fleet is on a voyage around the world. The route lies across the Atlantic, the Arctic, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Indian and Pacific Oceans. On May 16, President Vladimir Putin made a statement to say that Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean Sea will be permanent. The standing force will include warships with long-range land attack cruise missiles.

With new ships and weapons coming in, the Navy is quite capable of defending Russia’s maritime approaches and coasts, long-range precision strike missions with conventional and nuclear weapons, power projection and defense of the sea-based nuclear deterrent. It has recently acquired the capability to conduct long-range attacks with conventional weapons against fixed infrastructure targets.

Russia’s shipbuilders offer corvette-frigate size surface ships, such as the Admiral Grigorovich-class and the new Admiral Gorshkov-class, packing a really potent punch to make them formidable warriors. Oniks anti-ship missiles, Kalibr long-range cruise missiles capable to strike land targets at great distances, Pantsir-M point defense weapons, Poliment Redut air defense systems and Paket-NK anti-torpedo systems are contained in vertical launch systems (VLS). Normally the armament suite includes seventy-six-millimeter gun or a one-hundred-millimeter gun and close-in weapon systems (CIWS) to enhance the versatility of the ship. Multi-mission frigates have become the backbone of the Russian Navy. Vasily Bykov, the first project 22160 corvette, started sea trials in April to join service this year. The Drive (War Zone) the “concept is innovative enough that it should be studied by western navies as a source of inspiration for their own future multi-role combat vessels.” The source believes that the ship has “a pretty genius design” with its relatively small frame providing great strike power.

Project 636.3 “Varshavyanka” conventional submarines are cheap, quiet and deadly with their Kalibr missiles. The newest Yasen-class nuclear-powered multipurpose attack submarine is to be armed with land-attack cruise missilesanti-ship missilesanti-submarine missiles, including several variants of Kalibr-PL designed for a wide range of missions. A single Yasen-class can carry thirty-two nuclear-tipped Kalibr missiles to strike deep into the enemy’s territory.

The Russian industry is capable of producing some of the most sophisticated platforms in the world. There are 11 nuclear powered submarines laid down. The shipbuilders can build a conventional submarine in just 18 months. 

Ivan Gren-class (Project 11711E), the first amphibious assault ship designed and built in Russia’s modern history, was commissioned on June 20 to join the Northern Fleet.

On June 25, The Russian Navy commissioned Ivan Khurs, the second Project 18280 intelligence-gathering ship. The ships of the class are called after Russia’s naval intelligence chiefs. The vessel can conduct electronic warfare, radio, and electronic intelligence.

It was reported this month that the Bulava (RSM-56) intercontinental-range submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) had entered service with Russian Navy to become the backbone of the nuclear triad’s sea-based component until 2040. A salvo of four missiles launched in rapid succession within 20 seconds in late May confirmed the SLBM’s operational readiness. 

Modernized to M3M standard, the Air Force Tu-22 long-range bomber primarily designed for naval missions will take to the sky next month.

The Navy is testing the Poseidon (Status-6), a new unmanned underwater vehicle (a doomsday weapon) that can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables to engage various targets, including aircraft groups, coastal fortifications, and infrastructure.

According to Commander-in-Chief Admiral Vladimir Korolev, precision guided weapons and blue water ships are the priority for the future. The Navy also leads in superfast weapons. The Kalibr travelling over Mach 3 is a good example. A higher speed makes interception almost impossible and destruction is maximized by imparting more kinetic energy upon impact. Put on a wide range of ship and submarine classes, the weapon provides for a qualitative leap to drastically enhance the fire power of the Russian sea forces. The Kalibr allows the ships based in the Caspian and Black seas to cover the entire Caucasus and large parts of Central Asia and the Middle East – the areas where threats to Russia’s national security are most likely to emerge.

The 3M22 Zircon anti-ship missile going through final tests has a 500km strike. It will impact at a speed of Mach 6. As yet, the US Navy does not have a weapon to match it.

According to the State Armament Program for 2018-2027 adopted in late 2017, the naval component of the nuclear triad will consist of six Project 667 BRDM (Delta IV-class) and eight Project 955B (Borei-class) strategic ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), to be evenly divided between the Northern and Pacific Fleets. 12 submarines to be in service at given moment with two undergoing overhauls and modernization. The program envisages the construction of Super Gorshkov-class 8,000-ton frigate and six-seven Yasen-M nuclear attack submarines.

Russia’s 2017 Naval Doctrine set the goal of building a strong force to enable the country to achieve and hold the leading positions in the world until 2030. The Navy is on the way to accomplish this mission with balanced forces able to support the operations of strategic ballistic missile submarines and maintain a strong conventional component, carrying out a range of missions, including power projection, with its cutting-edge ships, naval aviationcoastal defense forces, and even ground effect vehicles. Russia has made a strong comeback as a sea power.

India, Russia to Ink Big Weapons Deal – By Andrei AKULOV – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

India, Russia to Ink Big Weapons Deal

Russia still retains a strong presence in the Indian arms market. Delhi has worked with Moscow to develop the BrahMos supersonic anti-ship and land-attack cruise missile. India also fields Russia’s S-300 air-defense system, and its INS Vikramaditya aircraft carrier is made in Russia and uses Russian aircraft.  The list of Russian weapons used by the Indian military is very long. The countries have an almost 60-year history of military cooperation, but in recent years New Delhi has been shifting to purchases of US-produced weapons. Moscow has lost a few tenders to the United States and France. Now it looks like the situation is going to change and Russia will get back on its feet after some breakthrough agreements.

India is finalizing negotiations with Russia to purchase 48 additional Mi-17-V5 utility helicopters.  According to Jane’s, the deal is likely to be signed in early October during Russian President Putin’s visit to Delhi. The proposed deal also includes an offset obligation that requires all vendors to invest 30% of the overall contractual value of all military purchases over $290 million into India’s defense budget.  The additional Mi-17-V5s are meant to supplement the 151 similar platforms that India has already acquired. All in all, more than 400 Russian-made rotary wing aircraft are operating in India. It’s not known as yet whether the Mi-17-V5s will be weaponized.

Each Indian Mi-17V-5 is equipped with a complex navigation and KNEI-8 avionics suite. According to the Indian Express, the multitude of indicators for various information systems has been replaced with four multifunction displays. The KNEI-8 also helps reduce pre-flight inspection time.

The thick-skinned Mi-17-V5 can operate in adverse weather, day or night, in any climate conditions, carrying out transport/assault missions simultaneously. Its heavy armor protection is an advantage.  In 2013, a Syrian Mi-17 was hit by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish fighter.  The chopper survived long enough to allow its pilots to bail out over friendly territory and thus avoid capture. 

With a maximum takeoff weight of 13,000 kg., it can carry up to 36 heavily armed troops or 4,000 kg. of cargo inside the cabin, with an additional 4,500-kg. payload attached on an external sling.  Two TV3-117BM or VK-2500 turbo-shaft engines with a maximum power of either 2,100 hp or 2,700 hp respectively provide for a greater service/hovering ceiling and improved performance at high altitudes in hot weather. The modern, powerful engines significantly expand the helicopter’s abilities to transport heavy and bulky loads, especially in the Indian highlands and mountains. The copter can be armed with Shturm-V anti-tank missiles, S-8 rockets, and several machine guns of various calibers for engaging personnel armored vehicles, ground sites, and other fixed and movable targets. Its maximum speed is 250 km/h and standard range is 580 km. That range can be extended to 1,065 km. when fitted with two auxiliary fuel tanks.  Its maximum altitude is 6,000 m.

The US paid Russia $1 billion to supply the Afghan security forces with the Mi-17s. The Afghan air force fliers preferred them to the American rotary-wing aircraft.  The last batch was delivered in 2014.

Before 2014, India had studied the possibility of buying 12 Italian AgustaWestland AW101 luxury helicopters for use by its VIPs, but the deal was scrapped amidst corruption scandals. As a result, those VIPs got Russian Mi-17-V5s.

In December, Delhi and Moscow agreed to produce 200 Russian light multipurpose Ka-226T helicopters in India. The deal includes maintenance, operation, the repair of the helicopters, and technical support.

It should be noted that the news about the Mi-17-V5 deal appeared only hours after the US Congress announced that both the House and Senate had agreed on the draft National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2019. That legislation allows waivers under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for India, Vietnam, and Indonesia (among other countries purchasing Russian military equipment) on the condition that they take steps to wean themselves off of those products. Turkey is not among those exempt from this “punishment.”

India is adamant in its desire to acquire Russia’s famous S-400 air defense system. This is an issue for the United States. India can pay billions for the weapons it needs, but buying the system has nothing to do with the NDAA provision to offer waivers to those who are trying to reduce and eventually end their purchases of Russian-made systems. Delhi never said it had any such intention.  India’s Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman believes that “CAATSA cannot impact the India-Russia defense cooperation.”  The last US-Indian meeting on July 6 in the “2+2” format (between the foreign and defense chiefs) was unilaterally canceled by the US. If CAATSA creates bumps in the road for the US-India relationship, Washington will lose a lucrative market and an important partner, while gaining nothing in return.  

Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Morocco are currently negotiating with Russia over the purchase of the S-400. Will they be also be sanctioned under CAATSA, thus making Iran quite happy? What about Algeria, which has bought half of all the Russian weapons sold in Africa and has a growing interest in more purchases? Will the US sanction the Philippines, its old ally, for buying grenade launchers from Rosoboronexport?

The NDAA 2019 bill does not include the United States in the list of countries to be granted waivers. This means the US itself must be sanctioned for violating CAATSA by continuing to buy Russian RD-180 and RD-181 rocket engines that the United Launch Alliance can’t do without in order to power the Atlas 5 rocket used for US government launches. This is a strong argument that could be used by those who come under US attack for buying weapons and technology from Russia. 

Must-Watch Russian Documentary, Banned in The West: ‘The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes’ – By CaptainWho/ BitChute (SOTT)

magnitsky act documentary

Who was Sergei Magnitsky, and why are we supposed to believe he was a hero?

The official story:

  • Bill Browder was an American businessman who ran a hedgefund in Russia.
  • Corrupt Russian cops, with the help of the Russian mafia, stole his business through a convoluted fraud scheme.
  • The lead cop grew rich from his stolen money.
  • Sergei Magnitsky was one of Browder’s lawyers.
  • Magnitsky reported the fraud to the Russian government.
  • Magnitsky was arrested and brutally treated in jail.
  • 7 riot cops beat Magnitsky to death while he was handcuffed.
  • The official cause of death listed ‘heart failure’.
  • Browder has since spent all his time and money lobbying Western governments to sanction Russian individuals in honor of Magnitsky, and scored a major breakthrough when US Congress passed the first round of anti-Russia sanctions via the Magnitsky Act in 2012.

Andrei Nekrasov, the Russian film-maker and director of this documentary (The Magnitsky Act – Behind the Scenes) set out as a believer in Browder’s story about the heroic Magnitsky and the evil Russian government. In the course of making a dramatic movie about it, however, Nekrasov and his crew realized that many details didn’t add up. And so their production evolved into an investigative documentary…

What they discovered instead:

  • Bill Browder used a simple ‘power of attorney’ to transfer his company to the Russian mafia.
  • Magnitsky was never a lawyer, but rather an accountant.
  • Magnitsky had worked for Browder since the 1990s.
  • Magnitsky met with the Russian mafia to transfer the ownership.
  • Browder used this period of unclear ownership to launder over $200 million.
  • The mafiosi in question then died mysteriously. Along with several other mafiosi.
  • The lead cop bought his house before property values went up.
  • The lead cop sold his house to fund a defamation lawsuit against Browder.
  • A woman who worked for Browder reported the crime.
  • Browder and HSBC called the report false.
  • Magnitsky went to jail and was asked to testify.
  • No record exists of Magnitsky reporting any crime.
  • Magnitsky had diabetes and died of neglect.
  • Magnitsky’s mother believes the prison was negligent, but did not intentionally kill her son.
  • Browder is using the Magnitsky story to avoid an Interpol warrant for tax fraud in Russia.
  • Browder’s sworn testimony in the US contradicted his company’s statements in Russia.
  • Browder’s sworn testimony relies on him not remembering details he wrote a best-selling book about.
  • Every official Western report concerning this case relies solely on Bill Browder and his sources.
Comment: Bill Browder is the man named by Vladimir Putin in his press conference with Donald Trump last week in Helsinki. Putin let it be known that $400,000 of the millions Browder’s Hermitage Capital defrauded from the Russian state went to Hillary Clinton’s campaign fund. So yes, ‘Russian funny money’ played a role in the 2016 US presidential election, but it’s not what you’ve been told by the media.

In addition to being the key witness that got ‘anti-Russia sanctions’ rolling in 2012 (i.e., BEFORE things went down in Ukraine and Russia ‘annexed’ Crimea), Browder also popped up in the Russiagate hearings to effectively testify against Don Trump Jr over that meeting involving a Russian lawyer at Trump Tower in mid-2016.

Browder’s shady business history in Russia and his newfound role as a ‘human rights campaigner’ are explored in the must-read book by Alex Krainer, Grand Deception: the Truth About Bill Browder, the Magnitsky Act, and Anti-Russia Sanctions, a book banned by Amazon and now available in hard copy from Red Pill Press.

Sott.net Radio interviewed author Alex Krainer late last year about his research into Bill Browder and his ‘friends in high places’…

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