The Barak Obama Deception - April, 2011

As of this writing, Barack Hussain Obama, the "peace" president, has three active wars, several proxy wars and several more wars on the drawing board. The Obama administration is also complaining that Iran is helping Syrian authorities clampdown on their protesters - while the White House has been helping the governments of Egypt (yes, they are still killing their demonstrators), Yemen and Bahrain crackdown on their people in the bloodiest of manners. But since you were not bombarded with such stories and/or images on America's mainstream news press on a 24/7 basis, it did not happen.

The point I'm trying to make is simply this: Barack Obama is the palatable character the empire's political/financial elite chose to represent them in their business-as-usual global campaign. As they repress brown people from north Africa to Central Asia, Obama was meant to be the brown face in the White House. From the very beginning, Obama was the PR stunt of the American empire's ruling elite. From the very beginning, Obama was the tool they used to disarm the country's growing anti-Bush/anti-war movement.

The commentary below was disseminated by me almost exactly two years ago; soon after Barak Hussain Obama was appointed President of the United States. I wrote the commentary more-or-less in response to the Armenian sheeple's renewed hope at the time that this president was somehow "different" and that he finally stood for "change". The Armenian-American hope at the time was that the White House would finally recognize the Armenian Genocide now that the "black knight" was in office, and now that Ankara and Washington have had problems. Needless to say, they were disappointed yet again.

We have now come to the realization that the only thing "different" about this president was his skin color. Yet, instead of learning a real lesson in realpolitik as a result of the Obama letdown, our community pundits are still asking us to "confront" him and "demand" that he live up to his promise. Since when has serious political policy (especially in a corrupt place like Washington) been made by the electorate? As a matter of fact, since when have American presidents made policy?! The American electorate have never had a voice in making serious political policy. For the past hundred years or so, American presidents have simply been the spokesmen, salesmen and marketing agents for those that rule the nation behind-the-scenes.

Are we Armenians this ignorant of politics?

Some are naively asking: Didn't Obama keep his word and pull troops out of Iraq? The answer is: Yes he did, and there was very sound geopolitical reasoning behind it. The Iraq war was totally mismanaged by Bush's team of Neocon criminals from the very beginning. Let's recall that the American public was told American troops would be greeted by flowers and kisses, not by bullets and bombs. After a series of political and military disasters, Iraq became a serious impediment to the empire's long-term regional agenda. Consequently, they had to somehow disengage from Iraq so that the overall agenda, control of regional energy assets and the plan to destroy Iran could be salvaged.

Here is something none of you would hear on CNN or BBC or FOX. In my opinion, American combat troops were withdrawn from Iraq for the sole purpose of repositioning them for a possible future military assault on Iran. Having secured Iraq (by more-or-less destroying it), American combat troops stationed in Iraq would have become vulnerable to Iranian/Shiite attacks once hostilities against Iran commenced. So, get them out of harms way.
The Sunni Arab world is currently being reorganized at the tip of a sharp bayonet. All the region's loose-ends, vulnerable nations such as Libya, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria and Palestine are carefully being worked on in preparation for the major attack on Iran.
Nevertheless, individuals that understand politics understand that there is no such thing as a "free" or "fair" elections, especially in the United States. Simply put: An empire this wealthy, this complex, this vast and this powerful cannot be trusted to the whims of a people this ignorant, this diverse and this complacent. The destructive notion of Western "democracy" - the nonsensical concept that the masses can effectively rule themselves - is being imposed on underdeveloped nations very similar to how Western Christianity was imposed on backward natives in times past. The end game, as always, is exploitation, subjugation or destruction. Anyway, April 24 is here again and we again have silly Armenians getting excited. What a waste of precious time and effort our lobbying efforts have been in the United States. The following is a little reminder from the past.

April, 2011


The Barak Hussein Obama Deception

Americans better wake up and come to the realization that when it comes to fundamental political matters there are no differences between Republicans and Democrats. For a long time, the US has been a nation of one political party (the party of the financial elite) represented by two factions - Democrat and Republican. In essence, the political/financial elite in this great empire decides what shirt the people will wear and the people are cordially giving the democratic privilege of picking the color - no pun intended.

I despised the Bush administration as well as the prospect of having someone like John McCain for president just as much as anyone else, but all the mindless Obama worship in America today is making me utterly sick. Knowing how this global empire operates, I know that Obama will prove to be just as bad if not worst than the Bush administration. Nevertheless, despite Obama, America's downward economic spiral will continue; America's lose of individual freedoms will continue; America's military entanglements worldwide will continue...

The fact of the matter is, American presidents do not make national policy, they are simply chosen to represent those who do. When it comes to foreign affairs, decisions are made by the US State Department, the Pentagon, semi-political entities and think tanks such as the Council on Foreign Relations and several special interest groups such as the oil lobby and the Zionist lobby. When it comes to making domestic policy in the United States, Wall Street and international banksters call all the major shots.

What the sheeple of this world need to realize is that Obama was not elected by the people, he was instead chosen by the nation's political/financial elite. As a matter of fact, he was chosen by them five years ago (during the 2004 Democrat convention) as one that could potentially replace the failed and discredited representatives of Neoconservatism in Washington. It now seems obvious that the globalist agenda of the American empire needed a fresh new face to move it forward, a face that could again appeal to the disillusioned masses and disarm the growing zeal of the left. And Barack Obama is that new face. 

By putting Obama on the political podium, they also managed to put a brown face behind the military machine that will be raping and pillaging brown people all across the Middle East and Central Asia. Damn good PR stunt, in my humble opinion. 

President Obama had barely moved into the White House when he began surrounding himself with Banksters, Globalists, Clintonites, Neocons, Zionists, Turkophiles and Russophobes. And we have naive Armenians today betting that Obama would recognize the Armenian Genocide?!?!?! As previously mentioned, Obama's election victory was essentially a coup d’état for the financial/political elite in Washington. Obama in the White House is giving the nation's real bosses the effective means to silence the growing left and win-over the domestic opposition. The Obama presidency will essentially be the continuation of the American empire's global agenda by other, more effective means. And due to the sheeple's blind Obama worship, it may ultimately prove more disastrous.

Please look at the various links posted below and watch the videos recently released by popular talk show host Alex Jones and veteran political activist Lyndon LaRouche. Regardless of what one may think of Mr. Jones' or Mr. LaRouche's unabashedly libertarian political rhetoric, their assessments of the political climate in this nation today is quite accurate.

May, 2009


Fall of the republic (144 min):
The Great Change of 2009 - Nov. 11, 2009:
Obama's Council on Foreign Relations Crew:
Ralph Nader: Obama will be like Bush:
Noam Chomsky: Does Obama recycle George W. Bush’s plans?:
US saying one thing, doing another:
The men behind Barack Obama part 1:
The men behind Barack Obama part 2:
Foreign Policy Debate - Relations with Russia:
Alex Jones speaks out on Obama's team:
Obama endorses American imperialism - anti-war activist:
Obama's Chief of Staff a son of terrorist?:
Gerald Celente: What's next for America? Revolution!:
Obama = Wall Street? Celente on corruption and gambling in finance:

What’s Wrong with Michael Rubin? - April, 2011

If we don't somehow stop pro-Washington activists and operatives in the Armenian community from doing what they do (many of whom don't even realize they are doing Washington's dirty work), Armenia will eventually suffer the same fate that befell Serbia, Iraq, Syria, Libya and Iran. The Armenian government needs to closely monitor every single individual and organization that has any kind of connection with the political West, especially Washington. The media blitz campaign, the US government sanctioned psyop to sow anti-Armenia sentiments and societal despair within the English speaking Armenian community is continuing in full force. This is a long-term campaign and it will be a multi-pronged approach.

The following is a link to my blog page devoted to the psyop campaign in question:

With Armenians still politically asleep... with various sociopolitical issues plaguing Armenia as a result of the global economic crisis and the region's geopolitical circumstances... with significant numbers of Armenian political and social activists getting recruited by Washington... the masterminds of war and exploitation are currently preparing their future battlefield in Armenia.
The following articles recently appeared on the web. The first one is written by a Neocon vermin named Michael Rubin and the second one is written by a prominent American-Armenian named Nubar Dorian (who incidentally may be suffering from either hallucinations or senility). This Nubar Dorian character (who unsurprisingly is affiliated with the Armenian Assembly of America) is not a unique case, there are many deeply ignorant and self-hating Armenians like him in the US. Most American-Armenian today, regardless of age, education level, financial status and/or mental heath, exhibit Nubar's unique form of psychological disorder. Although I wouldn't say it was entirely unexpected, the American-Armenian community is fast becoming an obstacle to the forward progression of the Armenian state. Nevertheless, Nubar's silly nonsense about Armenia does not warrant a response, for it would be an utter waste of time. However, Micheal Rubin's Armenophobia does deserve a second look. Immediately following my commentary, I have posted an appropriate response to Rubin's anti-Armenian rant. The piece in question is written by a colleague of mine who's identity shall remain anonymous and it is aptly titled - "What's Wrong With Michael Rubin?"

For the sake of perspective and context, I have also reposted Garin Hovannisian's article from last September 21 at the bottom of this page. This is the article in which Garin shamelessly chose Armenian Independence day to publicly attack Armenia in a shameless self-serving effort to pander to his family's handlers in Washington.

April, 2011


What’s Wrong with Michael Rubin?

After reading a recent article by Michael Rubin, who’s from the neo-con think tank, American Enterprise Institute, I felt it was only proper to dissect his ill-thought-out analysis on a point by point basis. To begin with, Rubin claims that the Armenian Genocide is still debated by historians. No, it isn’t. The preeminent genocide studying organization, I’m of course referring to the International Association of Genocide Scholars, has described the massacres of over 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman Turks as a genocide on two separate occasions, in 1997 and once again in 2007. The only ‘historians’ who deny the genocide are those on a Turkish payroll. Someone should point out to Rubin that the Holocaust is also debated but no one pays attention to the revisionists in this case. Next, Rubin claims that the demands of the American-Armenian community to have the U.S. officially recognize the Armenian Genocide are “doing a disservice to U.S. national security.” Yet, he fails to mention how a non binding Congressional resolution will hurt American national security interests. Turkey has made threats to other nations that have recognized the Genocide, most notably France, yet time and again, the threats proved to be little more than a short term diplomatic spat, with no lasting impact on military or commercial ties. Furthermore, if the U.S. really is the champion of human rights and democracy, then recognizing genocides and calling a spade a spade will go a long way in proving America’s stated commitment to human rights and democracy promotion. This in turn would be another useful tool in American soft-power, and thus a boost to U.S. national security, not a hindrance. Otherwise, the U.S. should drop any pretensions to being a champion of human rights.

Following the above, Rubin makes the absurd claim that Armenia has been “largely antagonistic” toward the U.S. He cites two points to support this. First, he compares Armenia’s voting record in the U.N. to that of the U.S. and Israel, and then brings in Armenia’s ties with Iran. Let me start off by saying that U.S.-Armenia relations are quite cordial. The Armenian government has been a reliable partner in the U.S. led War on Terror, allowing American military planes to fly over Armenian airspace, as well as sending a small contingent of Armenian soldiers to Iraq and Afghanistan. Since Rubin brought up the U.N., he should look at the voting record of Turkey and the U.S., they are not in unison either. In fact, last May, Turkey, along with Brazil, drafted a proposal with Iran concerning its alleged nuclear weapons program, which went against perceived American interests and was thus voted down by the U.S. and its European allies. As for Armenia’s relations with Iran, Rubin fails to cite the main reason behind this, energy, and the ongoing illegal blockade of Armenia by Turkey. Because of the blockade imposed by Ankara, Armenia relies on its sole nuclear power plant in Metsamor for 40% of its energy needs and the rest from imported Russian gas that is piped in through volatile Georgia. Armenia needed to diversify its energy sources and providers, and it found a willing partner in Iran, which has large quantities of oil and gas.

Staying on the topic of Iran, Rubin claims that Armenia has supplied Iran with weapons before, using as his source a leaked diplomatic cable from the early 2000s. While it is difficult to verify the accuracy of this claim, recent reports have alleged that American military trainers have been helping to train the snipers of the Azeri army, who are positioned only a few hundred meters from the Armenian position. The Azeris continue to ignore the 1994 ceasefire that brought an end to the war over Nagorno-Karabakh, and have killed a number of Armenian soldiers and even innocent villagers over the last few years. Should the Armenian government now consider the U.S. as a hostile nation? If we follow Rubin’s logic, yes.

Finally, Rubin suggests that the Armenian lobby and American-Armenians in general, should attempt to convince the Armenian government and natives of Armenia to pursue a military, economic, security, and diplomatic partnership with the U.S. He claims he is using a ‘realists’ approach to the situation but it would seem he skipped the class on realism and particularly the section on geopolitics. Though one can write a great deal on this topic, for my purposes it will suffice it to say that while Armenia should continue to have cordial relations with Washington, and be open to furthering economic and military relations, it should not abandon its strategic ties with Moscow or close economic relations with Tehran. Iran provides Armenia with energy security, while Russia guarantees that Armenian sovereignty will not be violated by Turkey. This is interesting to note because contrary to Rubin’s claim that there is something wrong with Armenia, the truth is that there’s something wrong with Turkey. As long as it denies the genocide of Armenians, as long as it provides direct military assistance to Azerbaijan, and as long as it maintains the illegal blockade of Armenia, it will remain an existential threat to the Armenian state and people. So next time Mr. Rubin decides to write an article on Armenia, he should first research properly, before putting pen to paper. Otherwise, he is just another hack with a two bit agenda to push.



What’s Wrong with Armenia?

Re-investigation: Armenian Special Investigative Service launches fresh probe on 03/08

By Michael Rubin

Every year, efforts by the Armenian Diaspora in the United States to win formal Congressional and Presidential recognition of the Armenian Genocide culminate on April 24, the date Armenians mark as their Genocide Remembrance Day. It’s a hot-button issue which historians still debate. Genocide scholars and Armenian historians declare that deliberate genocide occurred, while many Turkish historians and Ottoman specialists question argue that Ottoman officials did not conduct premeditated genocide, but rather that between 600,000 and 1.5 million Armenians died in the fog of war. Regardless, the deaths of so many are a tragedy, and one that should not be forgotten. Still, questions and aspersions of denial and negation will only be settled when both the Turks and Armenians open their archives to everyone without regard to nationality or ethnicity.

I do not deny the sensitivity of the genocide issue, but Armenian American organizations are doing both themselves and U.S. national security a disservice by making the genocide issue the community’s marquee issue. History must be respected, but the future is as important as the past—if not more so. To the present day, Turkey and Armenia remain adversaries. Traditionally, the American alliance with Turkey has driven a wedge between Washington and Yerevan. Sadly, Armenia remains largely antagonistic to the United States. In 2009, Armenia voted with the United States on important issues at the United Nations less than half the time; In contrast, Israel voted with the United States 100% of the time.

Armenia has also embraced Iran to the detriment of U.S. interests and security. Armenia has even reportedly supplied Iran with weapons, which the Islamic Republic used to kill Americans.

It is long past time for Armenian organizations in the United States and the congressmen who partner with them to demand change in Armenian behavior. By ignoring Armenia’s orientation, the Armenian American community squanders an unprecedented opportunity to build a true partnership. Turkey has transformed from an ally into an adversary. From a strictly realist perspective, never before have the constellations oriented in such a favorable way to make the United States receptive to Armenia, should Armenia seize the opportunity.

Yet the Armenian community in the United States appears asleep at the switch. It need not drop its interest in the genocide resolution, but it might nevertheless prioritize strengthening the diplomatic and strategic partnership between Washington and Yerevan. That partnership, however, will not develop if the Armenian Diaspora cannot convince its cousins in the Armenian homeland that a successful Armenian state could be a military, security, economic, and diplomatic partner to the United States—not a proxy for Iran or a puppet to Russia. Perhaps it’s time for the good Congressmen and Congresswomen from California and New Jersey to push back the next time Armenian lobbyists come knocking on their doors.


Wrong Path in Armenia

Rally Do-Over: Officially denied, ANC again leads rally in Liberty Square

By Nubar Dorian

All Armenians in the diaspora are quite familiar with the sadness, grief, suffering, exile and relocation of those who escaped the Genocide. Here in the US, drawing from lessons and experiences from our past, we developed a value system, making us obedient to law and order, love of education, rewards of hard work and blessings of freedom. As a consequence, we have been extremely proud citizens of America. Next to the Holy Bible, the greatest treasure we possess is the document that proclaims us American citizens.

We also forgot our homeland of Armenia and by all accounts and means, have always helped her. Long before Turkish occupation and the Genocide, the Soviet regime and the great earthquake of 1988, every Diasporan Armenian gave support, love, talent, time and treasure to the precious homeland. When Armenia declared independence some 20 years ago, it was a most thankful moment of prayer, pride and joy for us all. With foremost and firmest promise, we determined to help the homeland in every way possible to ensure her security, health and progress.

The people of Armenia, in turn, were deeply appreciative of our help. They demonstrated honest appreciation, deep love and heartfelt admiration for all that we did and still do, to improve their lot. Diasporan Armenians who visited the homeland experienced greatest warmth, deep love and fellowship and never forgot this most unique experience.

Since the election of Serge Sargisian as president of Armenia, unprecedented and somewhat questionable practices were sought by him and his cabinet to further solidify relations with Diasporan Armenians. The government started to shower some leaders, philanthropists and wealthy Armenians in the diaspora with royal banquets, citations, honors and medals. His government even created a new position of Commissioner For Armenia-Diaspora Relations, who traveled across the Armenian world, extolling us to love Armenia more, give more, care more and promise never to forget the homeland. Not satisfied with all these and to further offer gloss and flattery to diaspora, the president of Armenia is offering dual citizenship to certain Diasporan Armenians of his choosing. The who and why is still obscure and highly questionable. The very idea of dual citizenship is divisive, misguided and totally absurd. This idea, or practice, should be buried in the deepest pit in Armenian soil and never see daylight again.

Unfortunately, this is not all. Lo and behold, the president of Armenia is considering restructuring the constitution of Armenia to include a number of Diasporan Armenians as members of parliament. This misbegotten and misguided concept seems not only unprecedented, but ridiculous. Is it to satisfy the ego of some Diasporan Armenians, who receive this honor? There must be a thousand-and-one questions regarding this scheme and before any more time is spent on it, it should join the same pit and never see sunrise or sunset again. President Serge Sargisian and his governing body are rushing from the ridiculous to the sublime and spending precious time to seduce Diasporan Armenians.

It is tragic, disturbing and sad to read or hear of demonstrations, protests, hunger strikes, discord and chaos in Armenia. Are we to assume that our beloved homeland is becoming like a kite whose line has been cut off? Truth, stark naked truth, demands that good government work for the governed and abandon all schemes, pretense and misrule.

As sure as I am that God’s sun breaks into a hundred million sapphires over Armenian Lakes, and that any Diasporan Armenian visiting Armenia feels he or she has stepped on the earth of God’s Eden of Genesis, that sure I am that all Diasporan Armenians — some eight million of us — will love more, do more, sacrifice more for homeland Armenia, if the president of Armenia and his governing body make more effort, put more passion, zeal and dedication and eliminate disunity, discord and especially, all dramatics.

(Nubar Dorian is former co-chair of the Armenian Assembly in Washington DC.)


Who will decide Armenia's destiny -- patriots or tyrants?

By Garin Hovannisian

Across an ocean and a continent, on a sliver of land tucked between two seas, a little republic today enters its 20th year of independence. I know a man there, an American by birth – except that 20 years ago, he quit his law firm in Los Angeles, decided he had no further business in the United States, and went to search for his destiny in Armenia. It was a romantic time. One by one, the 15 Soviet satellites were breaking from the Kremlin’s orbit, and exiled sons were returning to their homelands to share in the creation of new republics.

As for my father, Raffi K. Hovannisian, once the football star of the Pali High Dolphins, he left a promising legal career and moved with wife and children to Yerevan, the capital of Soviet Armenia. After independence was officially declared on Sept. 21, 1991, my father was handed a fax machine and a first month’s paycheck of 600 rubles – $143. He was told he was the republic’s first minister of foreign affairs.

Post-Soviet seeds of democracy

All across the Soviet plains, the seeds of democracy were being sown into soil tyrannized for generations, but no one doubted that they would grow. My father certainly didn’t. Within a year, he had established diplomatic relations with every major democracy in the world. At United Nations headquarters in New York, he had raised the red, blue, and orange Armenian flag.

That was nearly 20 years ago. Everything was possible then. But the shadow of history soon closed in on the Armenians. The capital went dark. Faucets dried up. Grain shipments stopped coming in. And suddenly, as if for the first time, the Armenians realized where they were. To the west: a history of horror with Turkey, the memory of an unrequited genocide in 1915. To the east: the anticipation of war with Azerbaijan, occupant of the ancient American enclave of Artsakh, or Mountainous Karabagh.

It is a dangerous thing, when survival becomes the sole ambition of a people. But that is what happened to the Armenians in the years after independence. They lost their hope, their cause, their conviction. They were not as generous as they used to be. And the old Soviet symptoms reappeared.

Corruption and failure

On the streets of Yerevan, a generation of child beggars emerged. Policemen waved batons for two-dollar bribes. Teachers worked for bribes, too. The presidents came to control every judge, prosecutor, and public defendant who wanted to keep his job. Fair trials and free elections became failed promises. Incumbents almost always “won” – while losers almost never went home without first leading a mob of a hundred thousand citizens through the capital. In 1999, during a session of parliament, all the president’s key adversaries were assassinated.

My father long ago resigned from the Yerevan government, but he, at least, never gave up the dream. Instead, in 2001, he gave up his American passport once and for all. The following year, he founded Heritage, a national-liberal party, which now represents the opposition in the Yerevan parliament. To this day, my father is admired by his people. In a recent poll, Gallup pegged his popularity at 82 percent – but not for the obvious reasons.

“Achke kusht e,” the people say of him, “His eye is full.” In other words: the man has seen the world, and he’s not in politics for the money. In Armenia, that is enough. Today the Yerevan government is linked to a group of powerful businessmen called “oligarchs,” who invest in and control the political game. One of them has the monopoly on gas, another the monopoly on sugar and flour. All of them have nicknames, armies of bodyguards, and fleets of luxury cars escorting them ostentatiously through the city.

Power-hungry tycoons

The rulers are multimillionaires, the lot of them, though they have incurred great debts to the original power tycoons surrounding the Kremlin in Moscow, to whom they have been selling the country’s gold mines and electricity plants. And they are ready to sell much more than that.

Last month, Armenia hosted a summit of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a post-Soviet alliance including Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan – republics unclaimed by the West, republics that are now following an ancient gravity to its source in mother Russia. During the August meeting, Russia secured a 24-year extension of its lease on a key military base in Armenia. Actually, lease isn’t the word. The base is funded and sustained entirely by the Armenian state.

Now you see why today, in Yerevan, there is not much independence or democracy left to celebrate. And by now my father, too, must see what his romanticism has long prevented him from seeing: Armenia is not free, not independent, not united. The Soviet soil has spit out the seeds of democracy.

Hope foreshadows freedom

Of course my father still keeps the faith, and there is some evidence to support it. For the first time in Armenia, a civil society is taking shape to bridge a government and a people, so far disenfranchised from each other. Denied television airwaves, opposition media are now transmitting their protest through the Internet. And that little party in parliament, though it has not realized a revolution, can at least symbolize – and foreshadow – a free and independent Armenia.

And so we hope, and we even know, that the tree of liberty will grow from Armenian soil one day. But not today, not until, in the words of another founding father, “it is refreshed by the blood of patriots and tyrants” – both of which, I’m afraid, Armenia has plenty.


Russia abandons $1B Western aid to weapons program - April, 2011

Moscow just closed down yet another one of its 1990s era CIA front offices. Good riddance! Western offices operating in Russia and Armenia need to be closely examined and if need be - shut down! Under the guise of promoting democracy and human rights, government linked Western organizations have been conducting espionage and subversion throughout the Russian Federation and its allies for the past two decades. Kremlin officials need to put a stop to this; and sooner the better. In other news: Russian forces just killed another "Al-Qaeda" operative in the Caucasus. For the politically literate, the killing is more evidence that the Islamic terror group in question is covertly led by the Western alliance via the intelligence agencies of its client states in Arabia and Pakistan. When was the last time "Al-Qaeda" did anything that was actually beneficial to Islam? From Russia to Serbia, from India to Libya, Al-Qaeda has essentially been the Islamic terror wing of the Western alliance.



Russia abandons $1B Western aid to weapons program

Russia is pulling out of a program that poured $1 billion from the U.S. government and other foreign donors into the research labs that built the Soviet Union's vast arsenal of weapons of mass destruction. Officials with the International Science and Technology Center are negotiating to close the Moscow headquarters of the organization, which was formed in 1994, three years after the Soviet Union collapsed. The center gave tens of thousands of experts in nuclear, chemical and biological warfare the chance to engage in civilian research and work with colleagues from the U.S. and other nations that once stood on the other side of the Iron Curtain.

The program helped pay the salaries of Russian weapons scientists who otherwise might have sold their services to rogue regimes or terrorists after the Cold War, but it long outlived the crisis that inspired its creation. Russia came to regard the intergovernmental program as obsolete as the country's economy surged over the past decade.

Russia's U.S. ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, who negotiated the establishment of the center, told The Associated Press that his country no longer needs it. "The mission has been accomplished," he said. "It is a little bit outdated." U.S. congressional investigators concluded that U.S. taxpayer money helped Russia's weapons institutes stay in business by recruiting younger scientists and retaining key personnel who might otherwise have moved to the West -- a finding at odds with the program's goal of reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

Foreign aid programs helped keep Russia afloat as it lurched from crisis to crisis in the 1990s. But the Kremlin has been phasing these programs out in recent years, saying in effect it no longer needs to be treated as a charity case. In August, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's office issued a brief statement announcing Russia's withdrawal from the program in six months. The center's director, Adriaan van der Meer, said he is negotiating the terms of the closure and hopes to win an agreement for "an orderly wind down" over the next several years of 355 Russian projects worth about $155 million.

Van der Meer said the center will continue working in Ukraine, Georgia, Belarus and several Central Asian states, where it runs about $95 million worth of projects. Over the past 17 years, the center has tracked space debris, developed fusion power, searched for vaccines against deadly diseases like Ebola and much more. When the program began after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian economy was in shambles and the government struggled to pay salaries in secret cities where armies of technicians, engineers and scientists designed and built weapons.

"It really provided a lifeline in the 1990s for people who were underpaid or underemployed and might otherwise have gotten desperate enough to sell their services elsewhere," said Matthew Bunn of Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

Today Russia pumps more oil than Saudi Arabia, holds almost $500 billion in currency reserves and by one measure has the world's seventh-largest economy. Increasingly, the Russian government has regarded foreign aid as an embarrassing reminder of its past dependence on aid. But some arms control experts said Russia's decision may also have been motivated by security concerns.

Retired U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, executive director for research at the Belfer Center, said that both Russia's Federal Security Service and the FBI have long worried that Russian and U.S. weapons scientists working together on peaceful projects might inadvertently spill state secrets. "That's the risk for everybody, but they consider it a higher risk than we do," Ryan said.

The U.S. contributes about one-third of the money for the center's projects, van der Meer said, while the European Union pays for another third, and Canada, Norway, Japan and South Korea the rest. Arms control advocates such as Ryan say the program still plays a vital role by supplementing salaries at underfunded weapons institutes and fostering ties between Russian and Western scientists.

A 2007 Government Accountability Office study of U.S. Energy Department collaborative research programs in Russia found that senior officials at many former Soviet labs believed there was no longer any need for Western financial support. Lab officials in Russia and Ukraine told the GAO, Congress' investigative arm, that foreign grants had helped them recruit and retain key personnel, preventing them from emigrating to the United States or other advanced industrial nations. These officials told the GAO that there was "little danger of scientists migrating to countries of concern," according to the 2007 study.

The center was prohibited from funding weapons work: The point was to introduce weapons scientists to civilian research. Congress objected when it discovered in 2008 that some of the institutes receiving U.S. aid were also working with Iran's nuclear program, specifically the recently completed nuclear power plant at Bushehr. The U.S. has long contended that Iranian officials use the Bushehr civilian power project as cover for pursuing a nuclear weapons program. Iran has always denied it is seeking to build atomic weapons.

Relations between the U.S. and Russia have roller-coastered since the center opened in 1994, reaching a high point after the September 2001 terrorist attacks and a post-Cold War low in the aftermath of the August 2008 war between Georgia and Russia. Under the Obama administration's reset of ties with Russia, Moscow has agreed to let the U.S. ship military supplies to Afghanistan through its territory, supported tough new U.N. sanctions against Iran and signed the New START treaty reducing the ceiling on both countries' nuclear arsenals.

Despite these improvements, U.S. intelligence officials say Russia remains wary of U.S. intentions. "Russian military programs are driven largely by Moscow's perception that the United States and NATO are Russia's principal strategic challenges and greatest potential threat," James Clapper, director of national intelligence, told Congress in March.

Russia has recently launched a $700 billion drive to modernize its nuclear and conventional military forces by 2020.

Henry Sokolski, who once served as the Pentagon's deputy for nonproliferation policy and is now director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center, a Washington-based nonprofit, said the International Science and Technology Center leaves a mixed legacy. "Whatever good it might have done to deflect weapons activities, it probably undid by supporting these institutes, which are weapons institutes," he said. Ryan said that even if Western aid has helped Russia's military institutes, they represent little threat to the U.S. compared with the weapons programs of countries like Iran and North Korea.

"We have disagreements (with Russia), but we're not on the verge of war," he said. "If you look at the results of the product of the Russian military-industrial complex right now, I don't think we ought to be concerned."

Van der Meer credited the Moscow center with creating almost from scratch a civilian research community in Russia, where in Soviet times 85 percent of scientists worked in military labs. Tens of thousands of them worked in "closed cities" that didn't appear on any maps. Van der Meer and several U.S. officials said they hoped the center's programs could continue in some form in Russia. "It would be very silly to destroy the investment of over $1 billion over the years," van der Meer said.


Russia kills 'Saudi Al-Qaeda leader' in Chechnya

Russia on Friday announced the killing of Al-Qaeda's top militant in the Caucasus in an operation analysts said marked one of the biggest successes by security forces in the region in years. Security officials identified the Saudi-born militant -- known by the nom-de-guerre of Moganned -- as a "religious authority" and top field commander responsible for the most recent bombings on Russian soil. "Almost all acts of terror using suicide bombers in the last years were prepared with his involvement," a spokesman for the National Anti-Terror Committee said in a televised statement.

The rebel-linked website confirmed that the militant was killed on Thursday in a clash with security forces in Chechnya that also claimed the lives of at least two other militants. "The rats have started coming out of the woodwork," the war-torn republic's Kremlin-appointed leader Ramzan Kadyrov told news agencies after the death was confirmed. "Each one of them will be either arrested or destroyed." Russian officials said Moganned had been operating in the Northern Caucasus since 1999 and by 2005 had emerged as the main "coordinator" for handling money that was coming in from abroad to support the militant underground.

He had also served under the notorious fellow Arab-born militant Khattab until his death in a clash with security forces in 2002. This "marks a tremendous success in the fight against the terrorist underground," Alexander Cherkasov of the Memorial rights group told Moscow Echo radio. "He has been the head of the Chechen Arab (militants) since 2006." Moganned's death marks a particularly important victory for the regional authorities of Chechnya because the rebel had made it his mission to oust Kadyrov from power. "He has caused many difficulties for Ramzan Kadyrov," Cherkasov said.

Russia has frequently pointed to the role played by foreign forces such as Al-Qaeda in its 15-year-old North Caucasus insurgency. President Dmitry Medvedev has warned that the rise of Islamists in the North Africa and Middle East revolts could impact Russian security and further accused neighbouring Georgia of providing a safe haven for the guerrillas. The first North Caucasus conflict began at the end of 1994 in Chechnya when local fighters -- almost all them former members of the Soviet armed forces -- stood up against Moscow rule.

That war ended in 1996 with Chechnya enjoying de-facto sovereignty but still suffering through endemic poverty that produced a rife climate for the rise of organised crime. The second campaign began in October 1999 and included two rebel camps -- one composed of Chechen and the other of Arab militants. Some of the Arab fighters stayed in the region and expanded their operations once Russia reclaimed control of Chechnya to the neighbouring republics of Ingushetia and Dagestan.

The insurgency has recently had rival leaders who included Moganned in Chechnya and the feared warlord Doku Umarov -- the self-proclaim Emir of the Caucasus Emirate who is often identified as Russia's top enemy. Russian security officials said a growing rivalry between them was prompting each to stage ever-more brutal attacks aimed at winning respect among the guerrillas and securing control of the overall insurgency.

The past year has seen Moscow rocked by a bombing at the country's busiest airport that killed 37 in January 2011 and a twin suicide attack that claimed 40 lives during morning rush hour on the metro in March 2010. But both of those strikes were claimed by Umarov. The National Anti-Terror Committee committee said Moganned was planning in the coming weeks to ship a large group of rebels through the mountain gorges that separate Chechnya from Georgia.



Ex-Mujahedeen Help Lead Libyan Rebels

Abdel Hakim al-Hasady, an influential Islamic preacher and high-school teacher who spent five years at a training camp in eastern Afghanistan, oversees the recruitment, training and deployment of about 300 rebel fighters from Darna. Mr. Hasady's field commander on the front lines is Salah al-Barrani, a former fighter from the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, which was formed in the 1990s by Libyan mujahedeen returning home after helping to drive the Soviets from Afghanistan and dedicated to ousting Mr. Gadhafi from power.

Sufyan Ben Qumu, a Libyan army veteran who worked for Osama bin Laden's holding company in Sudan and later for an al Qaeda-linked charity in Afghanistan, is training many of the city's rebel recruits. Both Messrs. Hasady and Ben Qumu were picked up by Pakistani authorities after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 and were turned over to the U.S. Mr. Hasady was released to Libyan custody two months later. Mr. Ben Qumu spent six years at Guantanamo Bay before he was turned over to Libyan custody in 2007.

They were both released from Libyan prisons in 2008 as part of a reconciliation with Islamists in Libya. Islamist leaders and their contingent of followers represent a relatively small minority within the rebel cause. They have served the rebels' secular leadership with little friction. Their discipline and fighting experience is badly needed by the rebels' ragtag army. Among his followers, Mr. Hasady has the reputation of a trained warrior who stood fearlessly at the front ranks of young protesters during the first days of the uprising.

And his discourse has become dramatically more pro-American, now that he stands in alliance with the West in a battle against Col. Gadhafi. "Our view is starting to change of the U.S.," said Mr. Hasady. "If we hated the Americans 100%, today it is less than 50%. They have started to redeem themselves for their past mistakes by helping us to preserve the blood of our children." Mr. Hasady also offered a reconsideration of his past approach. "No Islamist revolution has ever succeeded. Only when the whole population was included did we succeed, and that means a more inclusive ideology."

Messrs. Ben Qumu and Barrani were on the front lines and couldn't be reached for comment. Some rebel leaders are wary of their roles. "Many of us were concerned about these people's backgrounds," said Ashour Abu Rashed, one of Darna's representatives on the rebel's provisional government body, the Transitional National Council. "Al-Hasady told me he only wants to remove Gadhafi and will serve under the authority of the local governing councils, and so far he has been true to his word."

After the uprising began in Libya, Mr. Hasady told several journalists that he had joined the fight against the Americans during his time in Afghanistan. He now says he was misquoted and that he only settled in Afghanistan because Islamists of his ilk were unwelcome everywhere else. For the U.S., the situation recalls the problems that followed America's ill-fated alliance with the Afghan Mujahedeen fighting the Soviets in the 1980s. Many went on to al Qaeda and other violent radical Islamist groups.

Adm. James Stavridis, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's supreme allied commander in Europe, pointed to this concern when he told a Senate committee on Tuesday that U.S. intelligence has picked up "flickers" of al Qaeda among rebel groups in Libya. He also said they were a minor element among the rebels. Col. Gadhafi has gone out of his way to paint the popular uprising against his rule as an al Qaeda plot. He has singled out Mr. Hasady and the city of Darna as the capital of an alleged Islamist emirate, a baseless claim.

Local enmity for the Libyan leader runs deep. The first uprising against Col. Gadhafi's rule took place in Darna in 1970, less than a year after he seized power. The city proudly boasts that the first political prisoner killed by the Gadhafi regime was a Darna native.


Al Qaeda present among Libyan rebels

But there wasn't much to report, not yet at least. "At this point I do not have details sufficient to say there is a significant presence of al Qaeda or any other terrorist presence," he added. By the end of the day, the "flickers" comment had gone viral, coming as it did as the first official admission of the presence of al Qaeda elements among the rebels in Libya, which had been a subject of much speculation lately. "There is no question that al Qaeda's Libyan franchise, Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, is a part of the opposition," Bruce Riedel, former CIA officer and a leading expert on terrorism, told HT. It has always been Gaddafi's biggest enemy and its stronghold is Benghazi. "What is unclear is how much of the opposition is al Qaeda/Libyan Islamic Fighting Group - 2% or 80%," Riedel added.

Administration officials are tending towards a lower percentage, as did Stavridis at the hearing. Citing intelligence reports he said the rebels leaders are "responsible men and women struggling against Gaddafi". Questions have been raised about the rebels and their leaders - members of the Interim Transitional National Council, which is based in Benghazi -most of whom are former members of Gaddafi's administration or military. "It is obvious now that this issue is run by al Qaeda," Gaddafi said in a phoned-in broadcast to his people on February 24.

The US agrees. And is worried as it has said arming the rebels is among the many options under consideration. Though a decision has not been taken, the possibility has been repeatedly confirmed as an "option on the table". But the US government is now facing a different kind of heat - and purely on account of suspected al Qaeda links of the rebels: couldn't it have done a some more research before getting into bed with them? "We're still getting to know those who are leading the Transitional National Council," said secretary of state Hillary Clinton in London. "And that will be a process that continues."


International Terrorism Does Not Exist

General Leonid Ivashov (left) with journalist Christopher Bollyn from American Free Press

General Leonid Ivashov was the Chief of Staff of the Russian armed forces when the September 11, 2001, attacks took place. This military man, who lived the events from the inside, offers an analysis which is very different to that of his American colleagues. As he did during the Axis for Peace 2005 conference, he now explains that international terrorism does not exist and that the September 11 attacks were the result of a set-up. What we are seeing is a manipulation by the big powers; this terrorism would not exist without them. He affirms that, instead of faking a "world war on terror", the best way to reduce that kind of attacks is through respect for international law and peaceful cooperation among countries and their citizens.

As the current international situation shows, terrorism emerges where contradiction aggravate, where there is a change of social relations or a change of regime, where there is political, economic or social instability, where there is moral decadence, where cynicism and nihilism triumph, where vice is legalized and where crime spreads. It is globalization what creates the conditions for the emergence of these extremely dangerous phenomena. It is in this context that the new world geo-strategic map is being designed, that the resources of the planet are being re-distributed, that borders are disappearing, that international law is being torn into pieces, that cultural identities are being erased, that spiritual life becomes impoverished...

The analysis of the essence of the globalization process, the military and political doctrines of the United States and other countries, shows that terrorism contributes to a world dominance and the submissiveness of states to a global oligarchy. This means that terrorism is not something independent of world politics but simply an instrument, a means to install a unipolar world with a sole world headquarters, a pretext to erase national borders and to establish the rule of a new world elite. It is precisely this elite that constitutes the key element of world terrorism, its ideologist and its "godfather". The main target of the world elite is the historical, cultural, traditional and natural reality; the existing system of relations among states; the world national and state order of human civilization and national identity.

Today's international terrorism is a phenomenon that combines the use of terror by state and non-state political structures as a means to attain their political objectives through people's intimidation, psychological and social destabilization, the elimination of resistance from power organizations and the creation of appropriate conditions for the manipulation of the countries' policies and the behavior of people. Terrorism is the weapon used in a new type of war. At the same time, international terrorism, in complicity with the media, becomes the manager of global processes. It is precisely the symbiosis between media and terror, which allows modifying international politics and the exiting reality. In this context, if we analyze what happened on September 11, 2001, in the United States, we can arrive at the following conclusions:

1. The organizers of those attacks were the political and business circles interested in destabilizing the world order and who had the means necessary to finance the operation. The political conception of this action matured there where tensions emerged in the administration of financial and other types of resources. We have to look for the reasons of the attacks in the coincidence of interests of the big capital at global and transnational levels, in the circles that were not satisfied with the rhythm of the globalization process or its direction. Unlike traditional wars, whose conception is determined by generals and politicians, the oligarchs and politicians submitted to the former were the ones who did it this time.

2. Only secret services and their current chiefs x or those retired but still having influence inside the state organizations x have the ability to plan, organize and conduct an operation of such magnitude. Generally, secret services create, finance and control extremist organizations. Without the support of secret services, these organizations cannot exist x let alone carry out operations of such magnitude inside countries so well protected. Planning and carrying out an operation on this scale is extremely complex.

3. Osama bin Laden and "Al Qaeda" cannot be the organizers nor the performers of the September 11 attacks. They do not have the necessary organization, resources or leaders. Thus, a team of professionals had to be created and the Arab kamikazes are just extras to mask the operation. The September 11 operation modified the course of events in the world in the direction chosen by transnational mafias and international oligarchs; that is, those who hope to control the planet's natural resources, the world information network and the financial flows. This operation also favored the US economic and political elite that also seeks world dominance. General Leonid Ivashov with journalist Christopher Bollyn from American Free Press

The use of the term "international terrorism" has the following goals:

Hiding the real objectives of the forces deployed all over the world in the struggle for dominance and control;

Turning the people's demands to a struggle of undefined goals against an invisible enemy;

Destroying basic international norms and changing concepts such as: aggression, state terror, dictatorship or movement of national liberation;

Depriving peoples of their legitimate right to fight against aggressions and to reject the work of foreign intelligence services;

Establishing the principle of renunciation to national interests, transforming objectives in the military field by giving priority to the war on terror, violating the logic of military alliances to the detriment of a joint defense and to favor the anti-terrorist coalition;

Solving economic problems through a tough military rule using the war on terror as a pretext. In order to fight in an efficient way against international terrorism it is necessary to take the following steps:

To confirm before the UN General Assembly the principles of the UN Charter and international law as principles that all states are obliged to respect;

To create a geo-strategic organization (perhaps inspired in the Cooperation Organization of Shanghai comprised of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan) with a set of values different to that of the Atlantists;

to design a strategy of development of states, a system of international security, another financial and economic model (which would mean that the world would again rest on two pillars);

To associate (under the United Nations) the scientific elites in the design and promotion of the philosophical concepts of the Human Being of the 21st Century. To organize the interaction of all religious denominations in the world, on behalf of the stability of humanity's development, security and mutual support.

General Leonid Ivashov

General Leonid Ivashov is the vice-president of the Academy on geopolitical affairs. He was the chief of the department for General affairs in the Soviet Union's ministry of Defense, secretary of the Council of defense ministers of the Community of independant states (CIS), chief of the Military cooperation department at the Russian federation's Ministry of defense and Joint chief of staff of the Russian armies.


US Launches Cyber Spy Operation Against The World - April, 2011

After geopolitics, the power of state-sponsored propaganda and psychological warfare operations (psy-ops) is perhaps the least appreciated and least understood topic in political affairs. Even less understood is the government's exploitation of cyber technology in recent years.

When people look at their computer screens they do not normally see a powerful tool for warfare. That, I'm afraid, is not the case when it comes to governments. With growing numbers of people getting "on-line" around the world in recent years, cyber technology is providing those in powers with historic new opportunities. What we have been experiencing in the Middle East lately is the sophisticated fusion of armed intervention, propaganda (psy-ops) and cyber technology into one effective/lethal political tool.

With tens of millions of undereducated and underemployed and increasingly restless youth coming of age throughout the world, strategic planners of the Western alliance are exploiting/harnessing this historic opportunity. Cyber-based psy-ops and military might is being used to attain geopolitical goals - namely that of the remaking of the Middle East. The Anglo-American-Zionist alliance in conjunction with Turks and client states in the Arabian peninsula are currently working on the region's loose ends in preparation for their future attack on Iran. This is a long-term agenda and it will not simply end with Iran. They have bigger obstacles on the horizon such as Russia and China that they will have to eventually negotiate as well. But all in due time.

Keep the following information in mind next time you hear talk about "Twitter" or "Facebook" in the context of revolutions taking place in the Middle East. These "online revolutions" are not as "spontaneous" or as "grassroots" as they are being portrayed by the controlled news media simply because they are being managed and coordinated by special units of Western intelligence services. As much as they would have liked to have kept it a secret, information is now beginning to leak out about Washington's covert involvement in some of the bloody revolutions currently plaguing the Middle East (there also seems to be one or two counter revolts instigated by Iran as well).

When truly confidential information is "leaked", it is primarily done for political purposes and it is usually done by opposing intelligence services, and sometimes by disgruntled employees. Regardless of who released such information and why, what's clear here is that Washington is playing a major role in the unrest that the Middle East is currently suffering. Therefore, as suspected (I didn't need to see to this information to know that it's occurring), the long tentacles of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance has been exploiting wide-spread public despair and the popularity of modern technology to do its dirty work overseas. The following are some reports on the topic by Russia's RT:
CIA on Facebook & Twitter: Wayne Madsen on info warfare:

NGOs, an extension of US foreign policy:

Assange: Facebook, Google, Yahoo spying tools for US intelligence:
When it comes to the manipulation of people's minds and the dissemination of self-serving propaganda, Washington has a great number of very powerful and highly sophisticated tools at its disposal. These tools are conventional (e.g. a large army of activists, social programs, mainstream news media, NGOs, school curriculum and Hollywood) and unconventional (e.g. cyberspace technology, psychological warfare operations and internet activists).

According to released information, the US government is apparently using Information Technology to spread pro-United States propaganda essentially within nations where Washington is currently raping and pillaging the natives. In other words, they are putting on an "America is your friend" happy face as they molest vulnerable nations around the world. And when the governments of nations being targeted by the West resort to curbing internet usage in their countries as a countermeasure, they are quickly accused of being dictatorial and/or tyrannical. Thus, it's a no win situation for those targeted.

We must also take into consideration that what is known about what the US government does (even against its own citizens in the US) is merely the tip of the iceberg. If the US government can use the internet to covertly spread "America is your friend" propaganda throughout the world, don't you think it can also use the same medium to instigating violence in targeted nations such as Russia, Libya, Armenia, Iran, Syria, China, Serbia, Venezuela, Lebanon, [fill-in-the-blank]?

Of course it can, and it does!
And there is plenty of evidence at hand. All one needs to do is open their eyes. I have posted a number of relevant articles below this commentary.

As a matter of fact, the cyber-based psy-ops against Libya and Syria have been frighteningly well organized and quite public in its implementation. As if overnight, dozens of US-based Libyan and Syrian blogs and virtual organizations have mushroomed and they are all calling for regime change and revolution.
Although they are giving the Middle East all the priority currently, there are naturally other targets as well.

Not a week goes by these days without a nasty report about Russia appearing in the controlled press. Virtually every single mainstream American news article or opinion piece about the Russian Federation is either negative or down right hostile. Even the Western world's blogosphere today is saturated by Russia-haters. Specially after the 2008 war in Georgia, Western Russophobia has been very intense and very organized. This is not merely a result of ignorance or chance, this is government sanctioned. The long-term strategic goal of this agenda is to condition and/or manage the emotions of the general public against a targeted nation. When a major nation that is viewed as a competitor is vilified and belittled in the minds of the masses, it becomes much easier to carry out dirty works against it.

Closer to home, there is a whole range of Western-based blogs and organizations that primarily concern themselves with disseminating anti-Armenia propaganda.

The following "online revolution" for instance was attempted in Armenia during last February when the West was maintaining hope that Levon Petrosian would be able to stir trouble again. This particular program was being managed by Onnik Krikorian, a British-Armenian agent posing as an "independent journalist" and a "human-rights" activist. [During the 1960s, special operatives often posed as backpackers and aid workers. These days, they like to pose as journalists and social activists] A brief look at the following two websites is all that is needed to fully understand who Onnik Krikorian is working for and for what purpose:

Washington's large army of cyberspace activists (human and electronic) are saturating different Armenian blogs, news websites and chat-rooms (discussion forums) with Washingtonian inspired political rhetoric and poisonous commentaries concerning the Armenian republic. It's obvious that Armenia has recently become one of the main targets of Washington's sophisticated psyop campaign. Monitor any one of the several major English-language Armenian news websites and blogs and read the posted commentaries at the bottom of the featured news articles. The spirit of many of the commentaries in question range from the absurd to the surreal. The following blog entry is related to this topic. When visiting the sources from which the articles came, please pay attention to some of the commentaries posted at the bottom of the pages:
Washington's Media Blitz Against Armenia - February, 2011:
But much to the dismay of all the Raffi Hovannisians, Richard Giragosians, Paruyr Hayrikians, Onnik Krikorians and Vartan Oskanians, officials in Washington are finding Armenians to be a bit more difficult to manipulate and coax than the Third World natives they have been so accustomed to dealing with all these years. Armenians may be politically illiterate, but many are still capable of seeing right through bullshit. Having Moscow constantly watching our back hasn't hurt either. In tandem with Armenia's interior ministry, the Russian FSB is most probably busying itself placing various countermeasures in Armenia currently. Naturally, Russian intelligence has had very deep roots in Armenia. This may ultimately save Armenia from a Western instigated bloody revolution.

Incidentally, Washington isn't the only political entity involved in this high-tech game of manipulation. Israel's intelligence services also carries out sophisticated operations aimed at conditioning the political sentiments of non-Jews. During the 2006 war in south Lebanon, the following curious piece of leaked information was being disseminated throughout the internet:

Israel's Government has thrown its weight behind efforts by supporters to counter what it believes to be negative bias and a tide of pro-Arab propaganda. The Foreign Ministry has ordered trainee diplomats to track websites and chatrooms so that networks of US and European groups with hundreds of thousands of Jewish activists can place supportive messages. In the past week nearly 5,000 members of the World Union of Jewish Students (WUJS) have downloaded special “megaphone†software that alerts them to anti-Israeli chatrooms or internet polls to enable them to post contrary viewpoints. A student team in Jerusalem combs the web in a host of different languages to flag the sites so that those who have signed up can influence an opinion survey or the course of a debate.

Next time you find yourself on an online discussion forum and the topic of conversation is not to the Mossad's liking, expect some friendly Jew to show up and start claiming that Armenians and Jews brothers and that the real enemy of the world is Islam or Iranians or Hezbollah or Palestinians, etc. During the 2006, when the world community was basically cheering the heroic actions of Lebanon's Hezbollah, I personally observed this happen on several different occasions.

Nevertheless, what's obvious here is that Washington and friends are pulling the strings of the rebellions and revolutions we are currently seeing take place all across the Arab world. This, in a sense, reveals just how deeply compromised that region of the world has become. With the exception of Libya, Iran, Syria, segments of Lebanon and formerly Iraq, rest of the region's dictatorships/kingdoms (particularly Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Jordan) are client states of the Western alliance.

Thus, looking at the playing field as it currently exists, it is quite easy to see what nations will be violated and what nations will be supported - regardless of silly little things like democracy and freedom.

The sheeple in that region of the world may be rebelling, protesting or demonstrating for legitimate reasons, their shepherds, however, are carrying out the orders of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance. In fact, as many of us already know,
wars that are raging in the Middle East and Central Asia today were planned by Western military planners many years ago. The following Democracy Now video clip of a 2007 interview by the soft-spoken war-criminal Wesley Clark is a very troubling public revelation:
The Plan - according to U.S. General Wesley Clark:
The geopolitical agenda of the Western alliance is commencing in full force throughout the Middle East, Central Asia and parts of Africa. This 21th century project to remake certain parts of the world was planned during the 1990s, when the Anglo-American-Zionist global order became a hyperpower at a time when Russia and China were no where to be seen. And the grandiose plan in question was fully commenced in late 2001 - in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks against the United States by still unknown assailants.

The following is a video clip of a speech neoconservative war criminal
(and one of the masterminds of the wars we have raging today) Paul Wolfowitz gave to West Point graduates shortly before the events of September 11, 2001. In hindsight, the tone of his "get ready to be surprised" speech is very curious:
What's clear is that we are truly living in very troubling times. This is one of the pivotal points in human history. How humanity will come out of this period is anyone's guess. Never before had the world's population been this large. Never before had food and energy production been this strained. Never before had so many regions of the world been simultaneously this explosive. Never before had a single political force held this much global power and this much sway over the global community. In my opinion, only the rise of Russia and China and the political awakening of humanity can save the world from the next dark age.

The words you will hear and read with the following posts are that of
Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the main masterminds of the Western alliance. The first link is to a 2010 speech he gave in Montreal during a Council on Foreign Relations meeting. The text at the bottom of the video link are excepts from "The global political awakening", an article by Brzezinski that appeared in the New York Times in 2008. Please pay close attention to Brzezinski's choice of words:
CFR Meeting: Zbigniew Brzezinski Speech (2010):

The global political awakening

For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive... The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination... The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening... That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing... The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches... The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well...

Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious "tertiary level" educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million "college" students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred...

[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.

Zbigniew Brzezinski

Former U.S. National Security Advisor

Member of Council on Foreign Relations

Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission

Member, Board of Trustees, Center for Strategic and International Studies

Well folks, there you have it. Right from the source. But is anybody listening? Looking at the masses of undereducated, underfed and underemployed, Brzezinski said - "[the sheeple's] physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred". Isn't this exactly what's going on overseas today? It's also interesting to note that these Western officials look at their native activists as coming from "often intellectually dubious tertiary level educational institutions of developing countries".

The army of "human rights" advocates, "political activists" and "independent journalists" operating in Armenia today are enthusiastically serving Satan in the name of - truth, justice, and the American way... as well as a few dollars and round trip tickets to Armenia. And the funny part is that in reality these peasants are looked upon by their Western masters as nothing more than cannon-fodder.

We Armenians simply must not allow these demons to comfortably settle in Armenia like they have done elsewhere. We must not show Armenia's many Western operatives and activists any tolerance. As a matter of fact, all those in Armenia that maintain ties with the Western alliance, in any capacity, regardless of who they may be, should be placed under state surveillance. Those that actively promote Western agendas need to be expelled from the nation.

Armenia does not have the resources, the strength, the expertise or the experience to effectively counter the machinations of the West.
The only cure against the corrosive/destructive power of the political West in Armenia is better and closer relations with the East. Some foolishly think Armenia would be able to ward-off Western designs against Armenia simply by providing Armenians with a higher standards of living. These people utterly fail to realize that despite our best efforts, due to Armenia's less-than ideal geographic location and geopolitical circumstances in the Caucasus, attaining any form of a higher standard of living for the population in Armenia will prove elusive for many years.

Libya had perhaps the highest standard of living in the entire Arab world, did that stop its mutilation by the Western alliance? At the end of the day, Russia and to some degree the Islamic Republic of Iran and China are Armenia's last hope for survival in what may yet become the bloodiest century we have had.

During the seconds half of the 20th century, the Soviet Union was an easy thing to hate and fear. Moscow's threatening posture at the time as well as the prospects of communism coming to a nation nearby helped conceal the true face of the political West. Since the Soviet collapse, the mask has come off. Being stupid during the Cold War was one thing... being stupid now, in this information age and after what we have seen and experienced during the past twenty years is totally inexcusable.

April, 2011


Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media

The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda. A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an "online persona management service" that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

The project has been likened by web experts to China's attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives. The discovery that the US military is developing false online personalities – known to users of social media as "sock puppets" – could also encourage other governments, private companies and non-government organisations to do the same.

The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations "without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries". Centcom spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said: "The technology supports classified blogging activities on foreign-language websites to enable Centcom to counter violent extremist and enemy propaganda outside the US."

He said none of the interventions would be in English, as it would be unlawful to "address US audiences" with such technology, and any English-language use of social media by Centcom was always clearly attributed. The languages in which the interventions are conducted include Arabic, Farsi, Urdu and Pashto. Centcom said it was not targeting any US-based web sites, in English or any other language, and specifically said it was not targeting Facebook or Twitter.

Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command. Centcom's contract requires for each controller the provision of one "virtual private server" located in the United States and others appearing to be outside the US to give the impression the fake personas are real people located in different parts of the world.

It also calls for "traffic mixing", blending the persona controllers' internet usage with the usage of people outside Centcom in a manner that must offer "excellent cover and powerful deniability". The multiple persona contract is thought to have been awarded as part of a programme called Operation Earnest Voice (OEV), which was first developed in Iraq as a psychological warfare weapon against the online presence of al-Qaida supporters and others ranged against coalition forces. Since then, OEV is reported to have expanded into a $200m programme and is thought to have been used against jihadists across Pakistan, Afghanistan and the Middle East.

OEV is seen by senior US commanders as a vital counter-terrorism and counter-radicalisation programme. In evidence to the US Senate's armed services committee last year, General David Petraeus, then commander of Centcom, described the operation as an effort to "counter extremist ideology and propaganda and to ensure that credible voices in the region are heard". He said the US military's objective was to be "first with the truth". This month Petraeus's successor, General James Mattis, told the same committee that OEV "supports all activities associated with degrading the enemy narrative, including web engagement and web-based product distribution capabilities".

Centcom confirmed that the $2.76m contract was awarded to Ntrepid, a newly formed corporation registered in Los Angeles. It would not disclose whether the multiple persona project is already in operation or discuss any related contracts. Nobody was available for comment at Ntrepid. In his evidence to the Senate committee, Gen Mattis said: "OEV seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of suicide bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda." He added that Centcom was working with "our coalition partners" to develop new techniques and tactics the US could use "to counter the adversary in the cyber domain".

According to a report by the inspector general of the US defence department in Iraq, OEV was managed by the multinational forces rather than Centcom. Asked whether any UK military personnel had been involved in OEV, Britain's Ministry of Defence said it could find "no evidence". The MoD refused to say whether it had been involved in the development of persona management programmes, saying: "We don't comment on cyber capability."

OEV was discussed last year at a gathering of electronic warfare specialists in Washington DC, where a senior Centcom officer told delegates that its purpose was to "communicate critical messages and to counter the propaganda of our adversaries". Persona management by the US military would face legal challenges if it were turned against citizens of the US, where a number of people engaged in sock puppetry have faced prosecution. Last year a New York lawyer who impersonated a scholar was sentenced to jail after being convicted of "criminal impersonation" and identity theft.

It is unclear whether a persona management programme would contravene UK law. Legal experts say it could fall foul of the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act 1981, which states that "a person is guilty of forgery if he makes a false instrument, with the intention that he or another shall use it to induce somebody to accept it as genuine, and by reason of so accepting it to do or not to do some act to his own or any other person's prejudice". However, this would apply only if a website or social network could be shown to have suffered "prejudice" as a result.

• This article was amended on 18 March 2011 to remove references to Facebook and Twitter and add a comment from Centcom, received after publication, that it is not targeting those sites.


US launches cyber spy operation

In order to undertake the massive operation in cyberspace, the US Central Command (CENTCOM) has purchased software designed to create and control false online personas from California-based company Ntrepid, The Huffington Post reported on Thursday. The software would allow each user to be in command of 10 personas. Each persona is "replete with background, history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographically consistent.”

The users controlling the false personas would be hidden in a variety of ways, including randomizing the IP addresses they accessed the software with, traffic mixing or blending web traffic with that outside of CENTCOM. The US cyber espionage operation will enable false online personas, also known as sock puppets, to seem like real people when they monitor online discussion blogs, message boards and more. The online persona project is thought to be completely under the sway of Operation Earnest Voice, which watches over CENTCOM's Information Operations.

According to CENTCOM commander James N. Mattis, the project "seeks to disrupt recruitment and training of bombers; deny safe havens for our adversaries; and counter extremist ideology and propaganda." Meanwhile, the spyware would not be used in America, or by American owned companies or major social network services such as Facebook and Twitter, the CENTCOM said. "We do not target US audiences, and we do not conduct these activities on sites owned by US companies," CENTCOM spokesman Commander Bill Speaks said.


Related news:

Julian Assange: Facebook Is 'Appalling Spy Machine'

In an interview with Russia Today (RT), Julian Assange called Facebook the "most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented." He told RT's Laura Emmett,

Here we have the world's most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations, their communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to U.S. intelligence.

It's not new ground for the Wikileaks founder. In March, Assange told Cambridge University students that the Internet is "the greatest spying machine the world has ever seen." During the Russia Today interview, Assange explained that Facebook, Google and Yahoo all provide automated interfaces for the U.S. intelligence (starts around 2:00 in the video below). "When they add their friends to Facebook," Assange said, "they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies." Unlike The Onion's prescient fake news piece that poked fun at Facebook's success as a CIA program earlier this year, Assange says that these Web sites aren't being run by the government. Instead, the intelligence community is able to "bring to bear legal and political pressure to them."


Rebels Hijack Gadhafi's Phone Network


A Group of Expatriate Executives and Engineers Furtively Restore Telecommunications for the Libyan Opposition

A team led by a Libyan-American telecom executive has helped rebels hijack Col. Moammar Gadhafi's cellphone network and re-establish their own communications. The new network, first plotted on an airplane napkin and assembled with the help of oil-rich Arab nations, is giving more than two million Libyans their first connections to each other and the outside world after Col. Gadhafi cut off their telephone and Internet service about a month ago. That March cutoff had rebels waving flags to communicate on the battlefield. The new cellphone network, opened on April 2, has become the opposition's main tool for communicating from the front lines in the east and up the chain of command to rebel brass hundreds of miles away.

While cellphones haven't given rebel fighters the military strength to decisively drive Col. Gadhafi from power, the network has enabled rebel leaders to more easily make the calls needed to rally international backing, source weapons and strategize with their envoys abroad. To make that possible, engineeers hived off part of the Libyana cellphone network—owned and operated by the Tripoli-based Libyan General Telecommunications Authority, which is run by Col. Gadhafi's eldest son—and rewired it to run independently of the regime's control. Government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim, asked about the rebel cellphone network, said he hadn't heard of it.

Ousama Abushagur, a 31-year-old Libyan telecom executive raised in Huntsville, Ala., masterminded the operation from his home in Abu Dhabi. Mr. Abushagur and two childhood friends working as corporate managers in Dubai and Doha started fund-raising on Feb. 17 to support the political protests that were emerging in Libya. By Feb. 23, when fighting had erupted, his team delivered the first of multiple humanitarian aid convoys to eastern Libya. But while in Libya, they found their cellphones and Thuraya satellite phones jammed or out of commission, making planning and logistics challenging. Security was also an issue. Col. Gadhafi had built his telecommunications infrastructure to fan out from Tripoli—routing all calls through the capital and giving him and his intelligence agents full control over phones and Internet.

On March 6, during a flight back to the United Arab Emirates after organizing a naval convoy to the embattled city of Misrata, Mr. Abushagur says he drew up a diagram on the back of a napkin for a plan to infiltrate Libyana, pirate the signal and carve out a network free of Tripoli's control. What followed was a race against time to solve the technical, engineering and legal challenges before the nascent rebel-led governing authority was crushed under the weight of Col. Gadhafi's better-equipped forces. After a week of victories in which the rebels swept westward from Benghazi toward Col. Gadhafi's hometown of Sirte, the rebel advance stalled and reversed on March 17, when the United Nations approved a no-fly zone and government forces kicked off a fierce counterattack.

In a sign of deepening ties between Arab governments and the Benghazi-based administration, the U.A.E. and Qatar provided diplomatic support and helped buy the several million dollars of telecommunications equipment needed in Benghazi, according to members of the Libyan transitional authority and people familiar with the situation. Meanwhile, rebel military commanders were using flags to signal with their troops, a throw-back that proved disastrous to their attempts at holding their front lines. "We went to fight with flags: Yellow meant retreat, green meant advance," said Gen. Ahmed al-Ghatrani, a rebel commander in Benghazi. "Gadhafi forced us back to the stone age."

Renewed signal jamming also meant that rebel leaders and residents in Benghazi had little warning of the government forces' offensive across east Libya and the March 19 attempted invasion of Benghazi, which sparked panicked civilian evacuations of the city. Mr. Abushagur watched the government advances with alarm. His secret cellphone operation had also run into steep problems. The Chinese company Huawei Technologies Ltd., one of the original contractors for Libyana's cellular network backbone, refused to sell equipment for the rebel project, causing Mr. Abushagur and his engineer buddies to scramble to find a hybrid technical solution to match other companies' hardware with the existing Libyan network. Huawei declined to comment on its customers or work in Libya. The Libyan expats in the project asked that their corporate affiliations be kept confidential so that their political activities don't interfere with their work responsibilities.

Without Huawei, the backing from the Persian Gulf nations became essential—otherwise it is unlikely that international telecom vendors would have sold the sophisticated machinery to an unrecognized rebel government or individual businessmen, according to people familiar with the situation. "The Emirates government and [its telecommunications company] Etisalat helped us by providing the equipment we needed to operate Libyana at full capacity," said Faisal al-Safi, a Benghazi official who oversees transportation and communications issues. U.A.E. and Qatari officials didn't respond to requests for comment. Emirates Telecommunications Corp., known as Etisalat, declined to comment.

By March 21, most of the main pieces of equipment had arrived in the U.A.E. and Mr. Abushagur was ready to ship them to Benghazi with three Libyan telecom engineers, four Western engineers and a team of bodyguards. But Col. Gadhafi's forces were still threatening to overrun the rebel capital and trying to bomb its airport. Mr. Abushagur diverted the team and their equipment to an Egyptian air base on the Libyan border. Customs bureaucracy cost them a week, though Egypt's eventual approval was another show of Arab support for rebels. Egypt's governing military council couldn't be reached for comment. Once in Libya, the team paired with Libyana engineers and executives based in Benghazi. Together, they fused the new equipment into the existing cellphone network, creating an independent data and routing system free from Tripoli's command.

The team also captured the Tripoli-based database of phone numbers, giving them information necessary to patch existing Libyana customers and phone numbers into their new system—which they dubbed "Free Libyana." The last piece of the puzzle was securing a satellite feed through which the Free Libyana calls could be routed—a solution provided by Etisalat, according to Benghazi officials.

On April 2, Mr. Abushagur placed a test call on the system to his wife back in Abu Dhabi. "She's the one who told me to go for it in the first place," he said. International calling from Libya is still limited to the few individuals and officials in eastern Libya who most need it. Incoming calls have to be paid for by prepaid calling cards, except for Jordan, Egypt and Qatar. Domestic calling works throughout eastern Libya up until the Ajdabiya, the last rebel-held town in the east. An added bonus of the new network: It is free for domestic calls, at least until Free Libyana gets a billing system up and running.


Syria's Twitter spambots

As demonstrations rage on Arab streets, a different battle is happening on Twitter. In Morocco, Syria, Bahrain and Iran, pro-revolution users of the site have found themselves locked in a battle of the hashtags as Twitter accounts with a pro-government message are quickly created to counter the prevailing narrative. Deemed a revolutionary tool in many of the region's uprisings, Twitter has been used to great acclaim for disseminating news and images, often from the ground. In Egypt, where Twitter users number in the tens of thousands, tweets using the hashtag #Jan25 from Tahrir Square helped paint a picture through weeks of demonstrations. Elsewhere across the region and beyond, observers and even journalists turn to Twitter to get a handle on what's happening in the streets.

Though often a tool for good, Twitter can be used by anyone for virtually any purpose. Journalist Nick Kristof incurred the wrath of the Twitter masses after covering stories of protesters in Bahrain being attacked by police forces. During Morocco's 20 February protests, pro-monarchy tweets targeted anyone using the #Feb20 hashtag. And back in 2009, reports abounded of Twitter being used to throw off supporters of Iran's green movement.

The latest news comes from Syria, where Twitter use remains low despite – until recently – a ban on certain other social networks, including Facebook. Nevertheless, Syria's dedicated Twitter users have taken to the microblogging site to post news, images and photos of the demonstrations taking place across the country. Using the hashtags #Syria, #Daraa and #Mar15, they've managed to bring attention to a movement – and ensuing crackdowns from security forces – that hasn't seen much global media attention.

Twitter users have to contend with competing interests as protests continue elsewhere in the region, but also with a cabal of pro-regime accounts, set up recently for the sole purpose of flooding the #Syria hashtag and overwhelming the pro-revolution narrative. As the Syrian blogger Anas Qtiesh writes, "These accounts were believed to be manned by Syrian mokhabarat (intelligence) agents with poor command of both written Arabic and English, and an endless arsenal of bite and insults." These accounts, run by individuals, harassed users but had little effect on the hashtag search. Another set of accounts, however, managed to inundate the #Syria tag. Using a Bahraini company, EGHNA, bots are sending messages – sometimes several a minute – using various Syria-related search terms. Under the heading "Success stories", the EGNHA website says:

"LovelySyria is using EGHNA Media Server to promote interesting photography about Syria using their Twitter accounts. EGHNA Media Server helped LovelySyria get attention to the beauty of Syria, and build a community of people who love the country and admire its beauty. Some of their network members started translating photo descriptions and rebroadcasting them to give the Syrian beauty more exposure. LovelySyria is using their own installation of EGHNA Ad Center to generate the Twitter messages, their current schedule is two messages every five minutes."

Other accounts, such as @SyriaBeauty, @DNNUpdates and @SyLeague, perform similar functions. Their messages are sometimes political, sometimes not, but all were created recently and all serve the purpose of diverting attention from the Syrian protests. While often annoying to users, accounts set up to tweet links across a hashtag are not in violation of Twitter's terms of use. Twitter's help centre suggests blocking users to prevent seeing their content. But without third-party software, blocking doesn't remove a user from a search.

Nevertheless, although Twitter shies away from moderating content and removing users, the search functionality favours users with a complete username, profile and photograph, and users who automate their tweets can be removed from search.

After numerous complaints, that's exactly what has happened to the #Syria bots. Though they can still be viewed by their followers and those who input the URL directly, Syrian hashtag searches – vital to many hoping to gain firsthand news from the country – are no longer flooded with links to photographs and football stats. Syrians still face numerous obstacles online – from the fear of security forces infiltrating their accounts, to the red lines placed on free speech – but this one small victory means that, in the battle for narrative at least, they've won.


U.S. denies support for Syrian opposition tantamount to regime change

Syrian nationals living in Jordan shout slogans against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during a demonstration in front of the Syrian embassy in Amman on April 17, 2011 as Syria was hit by new anti-regime protests.

The State Department denies it is seeking to undermine the regime of Syrian President Bahsar al-Assad, despite the revelation in diplomatic cables unveiled by WikiLeaks that it is financing groups seeking to overthrow him. The cables, first reported by the Washington Post, reveal the State Department disbursed at least $6 million for anti-government programs inside Syria, with the money going to a group of Syrian exiles, living in London, called the Movement for Justice and Development. It has also supported the reformist satellite channel Barada TV.

Malik al-Abdeh, Barada TV's editor in chief, called the channel "a platform for Syrians to air their grievances about their government, to promote democratic awareness, empower civil society, highlight human rights abuses and break the regime's stranglehold on media and give Syrians a voice." Although Abdeh is on the board of the Movement for Justice and Development and his brother is the director, he insists there is no connection between Barada TV and the group.

He said the network has "multiple sources of funding," including a California-based non-governmental organization and members of the Syrian expatriate community. A source working with Barada TV told CNN the channel is closely affiliated with the Damascus Declaration, a very broad coalition of activists that includes Christians, Druze, Kurds, Shiia, Sunni and women. The source described the channel's programming as "secular, liberal and progressive," dealing with issues such as corruption, economic hardship and concerns of youth including unemployment, education tuition and social media. Although it promotes democracy and reform in Syria, the channel has not called for al-Assad's regime to step down.

The source said that the U.S. government currently is providing technical support to the group, including providing bandwidth and access to satellites in order to broadcast. Iranians have started blocking the network at the behest of the Syrians, the source said. Abdeh denied the U.S. government is providing such support and said the channel broadcasts on a commercial satellite. Acting State Department spokesman Mark Toner declined to discuss specific activities Washington was undertaking with the Syrian opposition but said they were "no different" than similar democracy and governance programs the United States was undertaking in democratic countries around the world.

"We're not working to undermine that government," Toner said. "What we are trying to do in Syria, through our civil society support, is to build the kind of democratic institutions, frankly, that we're trying to do in countries around the globe. What's different, I think, in this situation is that the Syrian government perceives this kind of assistance as a threat to its control over the Syrian people."

According to the diplomatic cables, the assistance began in 2005 under President George W. Bush and continued under the Obama administration, although it is unclear to what extent U.S. funding is still being given to Syrian opposition figures. The Obama administration has sought to engage the al-Assad regime and appointed an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years. Although the administration has condemned the brutality of Syrian security forces on protestors, Washington has not called for al-Assad to step down from power. According to the WikiLeaks cables published by the Washington Post, the U.S. embassy in 2009 voiced concern that President Barack Obama's efforts to engage al-Assad would be in jeopardy as a result of the U.S. activities with opposition groups.

Syrian officials "would undoubtedly view any U.S. funds going to illegal political groups as tantamount to supporting regime change," read a diplomatic cable from April 2009. "A reassessment of current U.S.-sponsored programming that supports anti-[government] factions, both inside and outside Syria, may prove productive," the cable said, adding the U.S. needed to "bring our U.S.-sponsored civil society and human rights programming into line a less confrontational bilateral relationship."


Syria Detains Egyptian-American Blogger

An image of Muhammed Radwan, an Egyptian-American who was detained in Syria on Friday, on Syrian television on Saturday.<br />“/><span class=

In an apparent attempt to bolster the Syrian government’s claim that this week’s protests were the result of a foreign plot, Syrian state television has broadcast what it called a “confession” by an Egyptian-American who was detained in Damascus on Friday. The official Syrian state news agency reported that Muhammed Radwan, an Egyptian-America engineer who has worked in Syria for about a year, “said that he visited Israel in secret and confessed to receiving money from abroad in exchange for sending photos and videos about Syria.” The report also claimed that “a Spanish-speaking person from Columbia” had contacted Mr. Radwan “because he lived in Syria and carries a camera-equipped mobile phone” and offered to pay him 100 Egyptian pounds (about $16) in return for photographs and video.

One of Mr. Radwan’s cousins in Egypt, Nora Shalaby, told The Lede by e-mail on Saturday that the Syrian report is “all lies. He has never been to Israel, and he does not speak Spanish.” Ms. Shalaby added that Mr. Radwan, who was educated in the United States and took part in protests in Cairo last month, posted an update on his @battutta Twitter feed from his phone on Friday suggesting that he was observing a protest at the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus. As The Lede reported on Friday, another American, Tik Root, a college student from Vermont studying Arabic in Damascus, was arrested by the Syrian government during a previous protest on March 18 in the Umayyad Mosque. The State Department told The Associated Press on Saturday that it was looking into the reported arrests. In recent weeks, Mr. Radwan had posted a small number of updates on Twitter about the growing unrest in Syria.


Exiles Shaping World’s Image of Syria Revolt

On the bloodiest day of Syria’s uprising, Rami Nakhle’s fingers drifted over the keyboard in a room silent but for the news bulletins of Al Jazeera, yet filled with the commotion on his computer screen. As the events unfolded Friday, user names flashed and faded. Twitter flickered with agitprop and trash talk. And Facebook glided past Gmail and Skype as Mr. Nakhle joined a coterie of exiled Syrians fomenting, reporting and, most remarkably, shaping the greatest challenge to four decades of the Assad family’s rule in Syria. “Can you hear it?” Mr. Nakhle cried, showing a video of chants for the government’s fall. “This is Syria, man! Unbelievable.”

Unlike the revolts in Egypt, Tunisia and even Libya, which were televised to the world, Syria’s revolt is distinguished by the power of a self-styled vanguard abroad to ferry out images and news that are anarchic and illuminating, if incomplete. For weeks now, the small number of activists, spanning the Middle East, Europe and the United States, have coordinated across almost every time zone and managed to smuggle hundreds of satellite and mobile phones, modems, laptops and cameras into Syria. There, compatriots elude surveillance with e-mailed software and upload videos on dial-up connections. Their work has ensured what was once impossible.

In 1982, Syria’s government managed to hide, for a time, its massacre of at least 10,000 people in Hama in a brutal crackdown of an Islamist revolt. But Saturday, the world could witness, in almost real time, the chants of anger and cries for the fallen as security forces fired on the funerals for Friday’s dead. The activists have staggered the government of President Bashar al-Assad, forcing it to face the reality that it has almost entirely ceded the narrative of the revolt to its opponents at home and abroad. “The government’s paranoid style has become obvious,” said Joshua Landis, a professor of Middle East studies at the University of Oklahoma. “These activists have completely flipped the balance of power on the regime, and that’s all due to social media.”

Still, though few question the breadth of the uprising, there are differences on its depth in towns and cities. Cyberactivists outside of Syria fashion slogans of unity for a revolt that the government insists is inspired by militant Islamists. The voices of protesters smuggled abroad have drowned out the sentiments of the president’s supporters, who include the prosperous elite and frightened minorities of Christians and heterodox Muslim sects.

Mr. Nakhle, 28, finds himself in an unlikely locale to wage that contest. Imbued with youthful idealism, he left his hometown in 2006 for Damascus, where he discovered the Internet. “A completely new world for me,” he called it, and he soon broadened his activism with Internet campaigns to free political prisoners and, more dramatically, end Syria’s equivalent of martial law. He came up with a pseudonym, Malath Aumran — an inside joke based on family nicknames — and came up with a portrait for Twitter and Facebook that was a composite photograph of 32 men.

By last December, the secret police were pursuing him. “That’s all they need — suspicions,” he said. In a harrowing journey the next month, smugglers on motorcycles carried him to the border, where he narrowly escaped the police and spent the night in a rocky valley before making his way to a working-class neighborhood here. Frills are few; in a sparse apartment, cigarettes, tea, Nescafé, sugar and a drink from boiled leaves of yerba maté crowd his coffee table. “I’m a cyberactivist,” he said. “As long as I have the Internet, that’s it.”

Gaunt and with bloodshot blue-green eyes, Mr. Nakhle navigated a cascade of information Friday — a frenetic conversation on Skype with 15 people in Syria, a snippet of video from Tartus, a phone call from a friend in Damascus, and queries from journalists for contacts in remote towns. Someone he believed to be a secret police officer flashed him a taunting message: “There is news that a member of your family has been taken by security services.” Mr. Nakhle changed the sim card on his phone and called home, without taking his eyes off his computer screen. The news proved false. A message came in via Skype that a protest was dispersed in Aleppo. “I won’t publish this one,” he said knowingly.

Mr. Nakhle is part of a network that literally spans the globe, whose members include a Syrian-American woman in Chicago who said she grew tired of simply watching Al Jazeera and Ausama Monajed, a Damascus-born activist in London who drives with his Internet-enabled laptop open in the passenger seat, running speech-to-text software. Mr. Monajed estimates that 18 to 20 people are engaged in helping coordinate and cover the protests full time, though he boasts that he can find someone in his broader community to translate English to French at 4 a.m. He has a contact in every Syrian province, who in turn have their networks of 10 people. “And the regime can’t do anything about it,” he said.

Several say they relied on Syrian businessmen — abroad or in Syria — to finance one of their most impressive feats. After witnessing the Egyptian government’s success in shutting down the Internet and mobile phone networks in January, they made a concerted attempt to circumvent a similar move by delivering satellite phones and modems across Syria. Ammar Abdulhamid, an activist in Maryland, estimated that they delivered 100 satellite phones, along with hundreds of cameras and laptops.

The impromptu network has been allowed to guide events against a government that hews to the Soviet-era notion of Information Ministries and communiqués. A Facebook page called Syria Revolution, administered from abroad, has become the pulpit for the revolt — its statements de facto policy of the uprising. Mr. Nakhle said he had urged people to use slogans that are free of the sectarian or religious bent popular with Islamic activists. “We have to worry about these people,” he admitted.

The unprecedented power of the long-distance activists to shape the message troubled Camille Otrakji, a Damascus-born political blogger who lives in Montreal. Where others see coordination, he sees manipulation, arguing that the activists’ mastery of image belies a revolt more sectarian than national, and deaf to the fears of minorities. “I call it deception,” said Mr. Otrakji, a somewhat lonely voice in the Internet tumult. “It’s like putting something on the wrapping of a product which has nothing to do with what’s inside. This is all being manipulated.”

Katherine Zoepf contributed reporting from New York, and an employee of The New York Times from Damascus, Syria.


Cyber activist: Syria still needs regime change

A presidential decree on Thursday ending emergency rule will "change nothing" in Syria, prominent cyber activist Malath Omran said, insisting the people want the fall of the regime. "Lifting emergency rule will change nothing because the security services are not bound by any law," Omran told AFP in a telephone interview from Beirut. "The Syrian people has no faith whatsoever in the regime," said Omran, who under the Internet identity of Rami Nakhleh has been a key player behind the unprecedented protests which have shaken Syria since March 15.

Omran, 28, fled to Lebanon a few months ago, after learning that orders for his arrest had been issued by the Syrian security services which had questioned him on several occasions over his Internet activities. "From the first day people took to the streets with one goal in mind, the fall of the regime... but because there were few protesters at first they were afraid of announcing it openly," he told AFP. "But as the numbers grew the fear factor was broken and the fall of the regime became the slogan and the demand" of demonstrators, according to the activist. His comments came just hours after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad signed decrees ending nearly five decades of emergency law, abolishing state security courts and allowing citizens to hold peaceful demonstrations.

The moves are aimed at placating more than a month of unprecedented protests across Syria. Amnesty International says about 220 people have been killed in a crackdown on the protests, which first broke out in the capital on March 15. But for Omran, 28, who has more than 2,800 friends on the social network Facebook and more than 3,000 followers on Twitter, Assad's decrees and the unveiling of a new government tasked with promoting reforms are "useless." "How will the new government be of any use, when we all know that governments in Syria only implement the orders of the intelligence services?" he asked.

Omran, who studied political sciences at Damascus University, said the intelligence services had linked him to his cyber identity of Rami Nakhleh after he was interviewed by phone on an Arab television. "They discovered that I (Omran) am Rami Nakhleh and they threatened to arrest my sister (in Syria) if I don't pull out of the revolution," the activist said. Two prominent human rights activists said earlier in Damascus that Assad's decrees were good steps forward but did not go far enough.


Iranian blogger: 'Hell' and 'hopelessness' in his country


Recent protests in Iran have failed to gain traction -- despite growing demonstrations in neighboring countries and Iran's own 2009 massive protest movement. What's the status of the Iranian opposition movement, what challenges does it face and could a regime change ever happen peacefully? A blogger from Iran weighs in. Peyman Bagheri is a blogger whose articles against the Iranian government have prompted him to flee his native land for fear of being arrested and imprisoned. He recently spoke via phone from Europe with CNN's Asieh Namdar.

Are you surprised the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt failed to galvanize Iranian activists to take to the streets on levels similar to what we saw in 2009? What's the status of the opposition movement in Iran?

The bitter reality is Iranians are more worried about the economy, jobs and putting food on the table for their families. The economy is in shambles. It's difficult for Iranians to think about protesting and putting their lives at risk, when they are just trying to survive. Many are barely making it. Simply put, the events seen around the world are taking a back burner to real issues at home. The opposition movement is alive but underground. People are afraid of violence, of getting thrown in jail. Activists are spreading their messages through social networks. Lately, they've started writing anti-government slogans on the walls. So to answer your question, the opposition movement is there, just not visible to your eyes.

What's the biggest problem with Iran's opposition movement?

The biggest problem is that there is no clear leader who can unite and please everyone. Even among activists, there's no consensus on how to move forward. No unity, no organization. But the movement has been successful in some ways. The regime has weakened, and facing political, social and economic crisis. I think it's just a matter of time that this regime will collapse.

Ahmadinejad: The West to blame for regional unrest

When do you think that could happen?

Nobody knows for sure. Right now it's going downhill. Internally, there's a lot of division and infighting among high-ranking leaders. The system is starting to fall apart from within. In my opinion, when it happens, regime change in Iran will not happen peacefully. In most cases, autocratic regimes and dictators can't share power with anyone. They are paranoid, and paranoia leads to more repression.

Why did you flee from Iran this year?

I've written more than 50 articles against the government in the past two years. Somebody didn't like my blogs. I was threatened on the phone. The person who called said he'd report me to the government if I continued my writing. I don't know who it was. My home was under surveillance, I felt I was a target. I said to myself, "It's time to go."

Tell us about the open letter you wrote on one of your blogs to Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

It was one of the most visited blog posts I've ever written. I questioned the legitimacy of his leadership, and the human rights abuses. I asked him "what kind of leader are you?" I wrote about how, while he might be able to rule with terror and fear, that won't last forever because he doesn't have people's hearts on his side.

Do you know any bloggers who are in jail now?

I know of two. [One] was sentenced to 15 years in jail in 2009. [Another] vanished a month ago; no one has heard of him. He's probably in jail. Bloggers, if caught, normally get up to 20 years. Between 60 and 70 bloggers are currently in jail awaiting trials.

Iranian media covered events in Egypt with praise -- but no mention of the protests in Syria why?

Iran and Syria are powerful allies. Iran will not condemn the crackdown, and in this case even acknowledge them. The two countries have deep roots, are very close. You won't find news about Syria on state-run TV, since it's all filtered. Egypt had very close ties with the U.S. so no surprise for Iran to call government critics and protesters there "heroes."

U.S. accuses Iran of helping quell Syrian protests

What needs to happen for us to see a peaceful change towards secular democracy in Iran?

In my opinion, change in Iran can't happen peacefully. Dictators fight till the end. The only peaceful option is reform within the system. But real reform could mean the beginning of the end for this regime. This is why the government can't accept any kind of genuine reform. It would open the door to bigger things, maybe another revolt.

Do you want to return to Iran someday?

Yes, but not now. They'll arrest and throw me in jail. The regime is threatened by bloggers like me, who're spreading the message through words and blogs. They are afraid of their intellectual influence on people. They see us as a huge threat. ... As long as this government is in power, I will not see my homeland. I should add four of my blogs are completely shutdown --- I can't access any of them. For the government, this is absolute proof of my guilt.

In one sentence, can you give us a glimpse of life in Iran for the younger generation?

I can describe it in two words: "hell" and "hopelessness."


The First Twitter Revolution?

Friday evening, Tunisian President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali boarded a jet for Malta, leaving his prime minister to face streets filled with protesters demanding a change of government in the North African country. The protests began weeks earlier in the central city of Sidi Bouzid, sparked by the suicide of Mohamed Bouazizi, an unemployed university graduate whose informal vegetable stall was shuttered by the police. His despair exemplified the frustration that many Tunisians felt with their contracting economy, high levels of unemployment and inequality, censored media and Internet, and widespread corruption. Protests spread from city to city, with trade unions, lawyers, and countless unemployed Tunisian youth demanding a change to an economic system that appeared to benefit a small number of families close to power and leave ordinary citizens behind.

As the protests intensified, Ben Ali offered concessions to his people: 23 years into his reign, he agreed to step down in 2014. He ordered the security police to stop using live ammunition on protesters after nearly 70 had been killed, cut the price of basic foodstuffs, and promised to allow a freer media and end Internet censorship. This morning, as pressures increased, he offered new elections within six months. But all that failed to placate the crowds, who finally got what they wanted later in the day: a Tunisia sans Ben Ali.

While the future of Tunisia's governance is extremely uncertain at present, it seems we've witnessed the rarest of phenomena, a popular revolt toppling an Arab dictator. Audiences in the Arab world have been glued to Al Jazeera, which has covered the protests closely. Many states in the region suffer from the same problems -- unemployment, slow growth, corrupt government, aging dictators -- that brought Tunisians into the streets. Protesters have taken to the streets in Algeria and Jordan, demanding jobs and affordable food. Whether these protests erupt into the revolution Tunisia is experiencing is impossible to know. What's clear is that the actions taken by Tunisians are reverberating around the region.

Outside the Middle East and the Francophone media sphere, the events in Tunisia have gotten little attention, certainly not the breathless, 24-hour coverage devoted to 2009's Iranian election protests. When the protests began in Sidi Bouzid, much of the English-speaking world was focused on the Christmas and New Year's holidays. As protests in Tunis heated up, U.S. eyeballs were focused on the tragic shooting in Tucson, Arizona. Had the Tunisian protests hit during a slow news month, it's still unlikely they would have been followed as closely as events in Iran, which is larger, of greater international security concern, and has a large, media-savvy diaspora who helped promote the 2009 protests to an international audience.

Iran's diaspora was especially effective at promoting the Green Movement to an online audience that followed tweets, Facebook posts, and web videos avidly, hungry for news from the front lines of the struggle. Tens of thousands of Twitter users turned their profile pictures green in solidarity with the activists, and hundreds set up proxy servers to help Iranians evade Internet filters. For users of social media, the protests in Iran were an inescapable, global story. Tunisia, by contrast, hasn't seen nearly the attention or support from the online community.

The irony is that social media likely played a significant role in the events that have unfolded in the past month in Tunisia, and that the revolution appears far more likely to lead to lasting political change. Ben Ali's government tightly controlled all forms of media, on and offline. Reporters were prevented from traveling to cover protests in Sidi Bouzid, and the reports from official media characterized events as either vandalism or terrorism. Tunisians got an alternative picture from Facebook, which remained uncensored through the protests, and they communicated events to the rest of the world by posting videos to YouTube and Dailymotion. As unrest spread from Sidi Bouzid to Sfax, from Hammamet and ultimately to Tunis, Tunisians documented events on Facebook. As others followed their updates, it's likely that news of demonstrations in other parts of the country disseminated online helped others conclude that it was time to take to the streets. And the videos and accounts published to social media sites offered an ongoing picture of the protests to those around the world savvy enough to be paying attention.

One way to understand the significance of social media in Tunisia is to examine the government's attempts to control and silence it. Tunisia has aggressively censored the Internet since 2005, blocking not just explicitly political sites, but social media sites like video-sharing service Dailymotion. Video-sharing sites were a special target of government censors because Tunisian activists are extremely tech-savvy and had released provocative videos online, including one that documented the first lady's frequent shopping trips to Europe using the presidential jet.

Not content just to filter content, last summer Tunisian authorities began "phishing" attacks on activists' Gmail and Facebook accounts. By injecting malicious computer code into the login page of those services through the government-controlled Internet service provider, Ben Ali's monitors were able to obtain passwords to these accounts, locking out the activists and harvesting email lists of presumed activists. When the riots intensified last week, the government began arresting prominent Internet activists, including my Global Voices colleague Slim Amamou, who had broken the story of the government's password phishing. (Amamou was released, apparently unharmed, Thursday night.)

But if the web was such a threat to the government's authority, why did the regime not block Facebook or shut down the Internet entirely? It's critical to understand that Ben Ali was, first and foremost, a pragmatist. As late as Friday morning, he was looking for a solution that would allow him to remain in power, offering concessions in the hope of placating protesters. Internet censorship was already one of the grievances protesters had aired -- when Ben Ali offered concessions to protesters Thursday, loosening the reins was one of the promises that were warmly, if skeptically received.

Pundits will likely start celebrating a "Twitter revolution" in Tunisia, even if they missed watching it unfold; the Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan already revived the dreaded phrase Thursday. Others are seeking connections between unfolding events and a WikiLeaks cable that showed U.S. diplomats' frustration with Ben Ali, and with denial-of-service attacks by online activist group Anonymous, which has been targeting entities that have tried to stop the dissemination of WikiLeaks cables, like the Tunisian government. But any attempt to credit a massive political shift to a single factor -- technological, economic, or otherwise -- is simply untrue. Tunisians took to the streets due to decades of frustration, not in reaction to a WikiLeaks cable, a denial-of-service attack, or a Facebook update.

But as we learn more about the events of the past few weeks, we'll discover that online media did play a role in helping Tunisians learn about the actions their fellow citizens were taking and in making the decision to mobilize. How powerful and significant this influence was will be something that academics will study and argue over for years to come. Scholars aren't the only ones who want to know whether social media played a role in the end of Ben Ali's reign -- it's likely to be a hot topic of conversation in Amman, Algiers, and Cairo, as other autocratic leaders wonder whether the bubbling cauldron of unemployment, street protests, and digital media could burn them next.


Egypt's Facebook Revolution: Wael Ghonim Thanks The Social Network

Egypt Facebook Revolution

Shortly after Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down from power on Friday, activist Wael Ghonim spoke with CNN's Wolf Blitzer and credited Facebook with the success of the Egyptian people's uprising. Ghonim, a marketing manager for Google, played a key role in organizing the January 25 protest by reaching out to Egyptian youths on Facebook. Shortly after that first protest, Ghonim was arrested in Cairo and imprisoned for 12 days. Since his release, Ghonim has become a symbol for the Egyptian movement, although he has rejected this notion. "I'm not a hero. I was writing on a keyboard on the Internet and I wasn't exposing my life to danger," he said in an interview immediately after his release. "The heroes are the one who are in the street." On Friday, Ghonim told CNN that Facebook and the Internet were responsible for the uprising in Egypt. From the interview:

I want to meet Mark Zuckerberg one day and thank him [...] I'm talking on behalf of Egypt. [...] This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook. This revolution started [...] in June 2010 when hundreds of thousands of Egyptians started collaborating content. We would post a video on Facebook that would be shared by 60,000 people on their walls within a few hours. I've always said that if you want to liberate a society just give them the Internet. [...]

Listen to the rest of the interview (below), which is played over video of rejoicing in Tahrir Square. For the latest updates from Egypt, visit our live blog.

WATCH: [via All Facebook]


Gaddafi-Maddafi: Armenian Analyst Doesn’t Believe in Democracy in Arab Countries

No revolution will turn Egypt into Holland, said Caucasus Institute Director, analyst Alexander Iskandaryan, speaking to journalists in Yerevan today. “It’s unclear, after the ‘Gaddafis’ what type of ‘Maddafis’ will come, how domestic policy in these countries will be established, and how relations among them will be sorted. More or less, one thing is clear: there’s no smell of democracy, of course. Democracy is not established in such countries where there’s no liberal tradition, which can support the process,” he said.

According to Iskandaryan, the events taking place are not only a single phenomenon. “In different Arab countries, there are very different factors and these can’t be presented as a single phenomenon. A social revolt is taking place in Egypt which is due to the grain price increase, and Egypt is that country where 30% of the population has received subsidies for its bread supply.

“In Yemen, there are disagreements between the north and the south, which has always existed, and after unification, it became so that the political elite represents one part of Yemen while the other part feels offended.” As for events in Libya, Iskandaryan called them “inter-community [tribal] wars.”

These events unite only the “United Information Space, Al Jazeera,” he said. The Armenian media present the aforementioned events, according to the analyst, as something general: “Look here, people are fighting against the regime.” He also stressed the importance of what’s happened, since “that region is not far from Armenia and there are Armenians living there too.”