Growing tensions in the Caucasus as the West tries to apply the "Libyan Model" to Syria and Iran - April, 2012

Reptilians in various Western capitols are trying very hard to apply the "Libyan model" to Syria and Iran. Under the guise of bringing "freedom & democracy" to Syria and Iran, they are trying to turn these embattled nations into the world's newest failed states. In fact, if they could, they would seek the application of the same model to any nation that is not willingly submitting to their rule. As you read horrific accounts of a chaotic post-Qaddafi Libya and see what they are currently trying to do in Syria, simply realize that Western officials are currently seeding Armenia's political landscape for similar types of unrest as well. As usual, senior level official in the West are counting on Armenia's Western-led "rights" activists, "independent" journalists and "opozitsia" type politicians to carry out their dirty work under the guise of promoting "freedom & democracy" in Armenia.

Fighting "corruption" and fighting for "democracy" in Armenia are dangerous diversions that are currently diverting our people's attention from more urgent geopolitical matters. Armenia's most pressing problems today are geopolitical and geographic.
Yet, t
he political West would much rather have Armenia's politically illiterate and problematic peasantry to continue hopelessly chasing their tails in pursuit of the ever elusive fantasy known as "democracy"... and in doing so weaken the foundations of the Armenian state so that they can impose their geopolitical formulations upon the region. Fooling our politically illiterate sheeple into rising up and fighting against "corruption" in Armenia is a strategic part and parcel of the West's "Great Game" in the region. That is what they are placing their bests on. International levers

This does not mean that sociopolitical problems do not exist in Armenia. All nations on God's earth have pressing issues, some more than others. We must recognize that despite our best efforts, a tiny, landlocked, embattled, poor and a remote Caucasus nation coming out of a thousand years of Turkic/Islamic/Bolshevik occupation, Armenia is bound to have severe growing up pains.

Having effectively co-opted international levers during the past several decades, the political West is making the pursuit of sociopolitical matters in a country like Armenia very dangerous. Since they control virtually every single international organization in existence; since they control the world's leading news organizations; since they control much of the world's economy and finance; since they have effectively weaponized the notions of freedom and democracy; since they have imposed their language (and thus their mindset/culture) upon much of the world, they today have overwhelming amount of power over humanity.

In fact, the level of power they have over mankind due to the levers they control today is unprecedented in human history. At no time in history had a single political entity wielded so much power and influence.

Therefore, by making responsible Armenians exceedingly cautious about forcefully seeking genuine change in the fledgling country, fearing that such efforts can be hijacked by Western interests and turned against the republic, the change we want for Armenia is coming about very slowly. Thus, in the big picture, Armenia is in stagnation precisely due to Western politics. The only way the political climate in the Caucasus region will simmer down and begin its long road to recovery is through Pax Russica! And in order for Pax Russica to finally come into effect in the Caucasus, the West and its regional Turkic, Georgian and Islamist lackeys have to be defeated. I also predict that as soon as problems with Georgia are solved, Yerevan will be joining the Eurasian Union. Knowing that the Eurasian Union is still unrealistic for Armenia due to the situation in Georgia, Yerevan is playing it safe with Washington by publicly announcing that is not not interested in a membership.

Failed states are easier to control

Senior officials in Washington in conjunction with the Western alliance's propaganda organs have been actively propagating military intervention against Syria and Iran. Zionist leaders and Jewish-American pundits, supported by legions of their Shabaz goy in America, have been fervently beating the war drums. Some examples of their blatant warmongering are posted at the bottom of this commentary. Make no mistake about it, there is a massive and well-coordinated information war being carried-out against Damascus and Tehran. Despite Tehran's and Damascus' surprising resilience and the steadfast support they have been receiving from Russia and China, their enemies are out for blood and they are not showing signs of backing down. This situation is a clear indicator that the multi-national ( American/European/Jewish/Turkic/Sunni) agenda against Damascus and Tehran are indeed very serious and that they are in this for the long-term. Since Iran is a much tougher opponent, they are going after Syria first. 

Similar to what occurred in Libya, having smelt blood, Western predators have begun to go after Damascus. The West and its regional allies realize that Syria is one of the strategic gates that can potentially lead to Iran. Military planners in the West know that Damascus' fall will ultimately weaken and isolate Tehran. Similar to what they did in Iraq and Libya, their aim is now to simply topple the Assad regime and turn Syria into a failed state, thereby taking them out of the game. They are attempting to bring Western style democracy to Syria and Iran because they realize that failed states are much easier to deal with than independent ones that don't want to cooperate.

A weaponized news media
Virtually all of their political rhetoric, all of their news reports, all of their press conferences and all of their newspaper Op-Ed pieces are more-or-less calling for a military strike against Syria. At the front line of this vicious propaganda assault against Damascus are Western journalists and various subversive groups operating under the guise of "human rights". We are thus seeing in Syria various propaganda organs of the Western alliance meticulously attempting to hook the Western public onto yet another destructive war. Again, I want to reiterate that the news press in the United States has longed ceased reporting actual news; they are now busy creating news. In my opinion, it would be fully justified if Western journalists are categorized as combatants. Please watch the following by RT reports:
Mainscream Media: Iran hysteria stirring up in US:

'Media - West proxy to fuel Syria conflict':
Explosive Words: US media first to bomb Iran:

CIA & Western media's total fiasco in Syria:
As pointed out in a previous blog commentary, in addition to the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance's larger-than-life presence in the historically embattled Middle East, France, Turkey and several pivotal Arab Gulf monarchies are also gradually making their presence felt by taking advantage of the new geopolitical fluidity of the region. Thus, we are seeing in Syria a strange but not new convergence of Western-Zionist, neo-Ottoman and Sunni-Islamic interests. Geopolitics makes strange bedfellows. The following RT reports addresses the growing influence of Turks and Arab monarchies:
CrossTalk: Turkish Hegemon?
US-backed Sunnis push Arab Spring to rule Muslim world:
It must also be reiterated that the so-called "Al-Qaeda" is again seen fighting alongside Western forces. After bloody operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Russia, Serbia, Libya and Iran, Al-Qaeda can now add Syria to its impressive resume. No surprises here. What may be surprising, however, is that the mysterious terror group in question has essentially served as the military wing of Western/Israeli, Pakistani and Saudi Arabian intelligence agencies. Almost everything the terror group known as "Al-Qaeda" has done during the past twenty-five years or so has more-or-less served Western interests - including the 9/11 attacks in the United States. Once the sheeple of the world begins to understands this simple yet troubling fact, everything else will make much more sense for them. RT has been one of the few news organizations that has covered this topic:
Al-Qaeda agents worm into Syrian rebel army:

US backs Al-Qaeda to mutually destroy Syria:
Free Syrian Arms: US gives guns to Al-Qaeda protege:
The situation at hand in the Middle East has long ceased to be a war of rhetoric between Syrians, Arab monarchies, Iranians, Turks, Israelis, Westerners and Russians. Regional powers are now actively vying for political advantage. The situation has developed into a serious military affair. It is being reported that various regional players currently have assets in the field of operation. It is also being reported that various major powers currently have covert military teams operating within Syria. A group of French special forces personnel were reportedly captured in the Syrian city of Homs several weeks ago and more recently a unit of anti-terror personnel from Russia was reported to be operating inside Syria. Needles to say, if this very explosive situation gets drawn-out much longer, it has the potential of seriously getting out of control. The region's unrest has gotten uncomfortably close to the Caucasus, and Baku and Tbilisi are increasingly becoming causes of concern.

There may be opportunities for Yerevan

The escalating unrest and critical situations in regions adjacent to Russia's vulnerable underbelly is elevating the importance of the already very important geostrategic significance of the Caucasus for Moscow. As Western-instigated wars and political unrests encroach on Russian interests in the region, Moscow is beginning to take on a more aggressive political posture. Libya was the pawn Moscow reluctantly gave up in its desperate effort to protect its bishops, Syria and Iran. Realizing now that its presence in the strategic region are directly threatened by the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance and friends, Moscow has finally decided to do away with diplomatic niceties and draw a clear line in the sand.

For its part, not only has Moscow blocked all efforts by the West and its allies to intervene in Syria, it has also in recent months conducted several significant military exercises and it is planning additional ones in the near future. This muscle flexing is obviously meant to be a show of force. Moscow is signaling to the West that it has had enough of their hooliganism at its doorstep. In the coming months and years, we can expect Moscow to further strengthen its strategic forces and to continue bolstering its military presence throughout the Caucasus region. Strategically situated and straddling the regions of unrest, needless to say, Armenia will be a major theater of Russian operations. The following link is to a Russian television report about heightened military training Russian forces are currently undergoing in Armenia:
The good news for Yerevan is that Ankara's ambitious policies vis-à-vis Syria is placing it in a direct collision course with Moscow. Ankara's risky gamble in the Middle East may ultimately prove beneficial for Yerevan. The more Ankara pursues its neo-Ottoman wet-dreams in the region, the more will Moscow be inclined to turn it into a nightmare. The more Ankara tries to undermine Ar5menia, the more will Moscow be inclined to conspire against Turkish influence in the region. Moreover, Israel's continuing covert military operations against Iran from Azerbaijani territory is creating renewed tensions between Baku and Tehran. And Baku's belligerent stance regarding Nagorno Karabakh and the Russian radar station at Gabala is creating heightened tensions between it and Moscow. It must also be said that Tbilisi's fate is beginning to hang in the air. Saakashvili's despotic Western-Turkish-Israeli led and funded government is now isolated and probably close to a collapse. If the West or its allies militarily intervene in Syria or attack Iran, Moscow may want to make a drastic move on Georgia as a response. In fact, a recent news release out of Moscow actually suggested such a thing. Therefore, the first victim of the war against Iran or Syria may in fact be Georgia. A very interesting interview with Levan Pirveli, a Georgian opposition figure, appears at the bottom of this page.

I reiterate, these developments can prove very beneficial for Armenia.
Are Armenian officials up to the task of recognizing and exploiting beneficial situations as they evolve?

Moscow-Yerevan-Tehran Axis?

Although Russia and Armenia are in a close alliance that is considered strategic in nature, the same cannot be said of the relationship that currently exists between Moscow and Tehran or Yerevan and Tehran. However, as tensions escalate in the region, Moscow, Yerevan and Tehran may eventually feel the need to form a trilateral alliance. If such an alliance forms, it will have been done out of necessity.
It must be pointed out that Kremlin officials are reluctantly supporting the regime in Tehran. It is no secret that Tehran has hegemonic intentions in the region. Iran has had political designs in the Caucasus and Central Asia, both seen by Moscow as its zones of influence. Unbeknownst to many, the government in Iran was involved in aiding Islamic movements that plagued the Caucasus and Central Asia throughout the 1990s. In an ideal world, Moscow would rather Iran not become a nuclear power. But sadly we don't live in an ideal world. We live in a world that is being turned into a battlefield. Therefore, Moscow feels forced to protect Tehran due to some serious long-term geostrategic considerations.

Simply put, although it distrusts it, Moscow nevertheless sees Tehran as a natural buffer against Western, Turkish and Arabic expansionism. Realizing that a much greater threat looms not too far away, Moscow may eventually be forced to seek a deeper alliance with Tehran.
If that happens, Armenia will naturally be drawn into this alliance. The following is an interesting 2009 commentary about this topic by Brazil's Pepe Escobar -

Iran/Russia - a deadly embrace (Part 1):

Iran/Russia - a deadly embrace (Part 2):
The current geopolitical climate of the region will most probably endure for the next five-to-ten years. If Assad survives, and it is increasingly looking as if he will, we can expect Damascus to tighten its ties with Russia, thereby further polarizing the region. In such a scenario, an increased Russian military presence in Syria may seem very likely. And if Syria does remain intact, the campaign against Iran may begin to loose steam; that is if Tel Aviv does not in desperation decide to carry-out a unilateral strike. Nevertheless, the Western alliance has a lot to lose if Assad's regime in Damascus remains intact. Due to the fluidity of the current situation in the region, however, there is no effective way of telling for sure what will happen in the coming months or years, and there is no way of knowing what is being planned in places such as Washington, London, Tel Aviv, Paris, Ankara, Tehran and Moscow. There are simply too many variables at play and the situation at hand is very unpredictable.

Russia playing an increasingly visible role

As already pointed out, there may still be opportunities in all this for Yerevan. But whether or not Armenians have the political maturity or the strategic foresight to recognize and take advantage of such opportunities is altogether another question. Nonetheless, t
he Middle East is now a volatile powder-keg on the verge of exploding. Stuck in close proximity of this explosive mess, responsible military officials in Yerevan are rightfully sticking as close to Moscow as possible. As it has been for hundreds of years, after Armenians themselves, Russia is the only guarantor of Armenia's existence in the south Caucasus.

As the situation in the Middle East continues to escalate, Moscow and Yerevan are beginning to implement a series of measures to ensure they are safeguarded from any possible fallout. But the potential of a major war breaking out in the region is not the only worry in Yerevan and Moscow today. The threat that Armenia and Russia faces today is two-fold. As pointed out in earlier commentaries, through its many human assets and organizational levers, Washington has been carefully seeding the political landscape in Armenia and Russia for unrest. Having failed miserably in trying to foment unrest in Russia before, during and after President Putin's reelection, they may begin placing more emphasis on Armenia in the coming months.

Faced with the possibility of a major regional war and internal unrest, officials in Yerevan and Moscow need to have the courage and foresight to either shutdown or closely monitor the actions of various Western funded NGOs, independent journalists, rights campaigners and political activists within Armenia and Russia.
Any Armenian in Armenia that currently is or has ever been connected to Western organizations need to be placed under surveillance by counter-terrorism units. Moscow has made a lot of headway in this regard in recent years; I now want to see Moscow assist Yerevan in doing the same in Armenia.

Armenia is vulnerable to Western meddling

Due to very low living standards, incompetent officials, high underemployment and a politically illiterate citizenry, Armenia is particularly a very vulnerable nation on the brink of a major political disaster. Armenia's political illiterates and Western mercenaries parading as independent journalists, rights activists and opposition politicians simply cannot be given the "democratic" freedom to undermine the Armenian statehood by their pursuits of a Grimm fairytale popularly known as around the world as "democracy". In other words, Yerevan cannot risk becoming the next victim of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance and it's Turkic and Islamic friends. Armenia cannot risk becoming a failed state as a result of playing with the devil. Therefore, if official Yerevan has to take the initiative by breaking a few heads to ensure the safety of the embattled Armenian state and preserve its strategically crucial alliance with Moscow, then so be it.

In the turbulent times that lay ahead, the interior ministry in Armenia needs to keep a very close eye on Armenia's Western funded activists and Yerevan needs to keep
as close to Moscow as possible.

Cold War II

Despite the reptilian talk we hear in Washington about a so-called "reset" in Western relations with Moscow, what we currently have in reality is the continuation of the Cold War between Moscow and the West. We are seeing tensions between Moscow and the West rise over important matters such as missile defense, NATO expansion, Western meddling in Russian domestic affairs, energy exploration in the Arctic, espionage, color revolutions, Georgia, Syria, Iran... In short, there has clearly been a bipolarization of relations between Moscow and the West is recent years. I call this new bout of competitive rivalry between East and West - Cold War II - and I essentially blame the West for bringing the world to this point.

Having said that, however, I see the Russian Federation today acting more in the spirit of its Czarist ancestry rather than its Soviet legacy. Similar to how the Russian Empire played an organic role in global affairs throughout much of the 18th and 19th centuries, the Russian Federation today has evolved into becoming a major geopolitical factor on the global stage. Moscow is gradually becoming a pivotal factor in global affairs and this has not come a moment too soon.

To reiterate: If Syria and Iran have not been invaded and/or broken apart from within, it is in large part due to the Russian factor in the politics of the region. The Russian Federation is proving to be the last front against American imperialism, NATO expansionism, Globalism, Islamic fanaticism, Zionism and Pan-Turkism. Without a strong Russian presence in the Caucasus, the region in question will turn into the playground of Western energy exploiters, Turks and Islamists practically overnight. Therefore, despite what Armenia's Qaj Nazar's think, no Russia in the Caucasus means no Armenia in the Caucasus.

The following are some relevant video reports and news articles that have caught my attention in recent weeks. Please make time and familiarize yourselves with what is currently going on in that region of the world.

April, 2012

'Israel leads needy Obama into Iran strike':

Back Homs: Rebels flee, French troops captured by army:

US Total War: 'Martial law at home, hawks over Iran':
CIA & Western media's total fiasco in Syria:

Pat Buchanan: 300 nukes in Israel yet Iran a threat?

CrossTalk: Iranoia:

Firestorm Forecast: 'Syria can set region ablaze':

Russia Is Ready to Use Military Power to Defend Iran and Syria:
Dozens dead as rebel bomb wave rips Syria's second city:

Empire: Targeting Iran:

CrossTalk: Syrian Series:
War Addicts: Iran next on US attack list:

'Gaddafi 2.0?' Split & struggle flares up Libya again:
Lapdogs of War: Neo-conmen feed conflict hunger on Capitol Hill:
To bomb or not to bomb? US schizo over Iran attack:


Putin Blasts US, Outlines Firm Stand on Foreign Policy

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin charged Monday that the United States pursues its interests to the detriment of world security and served notice Russia would continue to oppose this if he returns to the Kremlin. At the same time, however, Putin stated that close and trusting relations between Moscow and Washington were of signal importance for the world in turbulent times and made clear Russia wanted such ties if based on mutual respect.

In an lengthy article published in the daily Moskovskiye Novosti a week ahead of presidential elections he is widely expected to win, Putin outlined a broad vision of how he sees Russia’s place in the world and how he would aim to fortify it. Putin took direct aim at US plans to place elements of a missile defense system in Europe near Russia’s borders and expressed exasperation at what he described as Washington’s stubborn refusal to take Moscow’s worries into account on it.

“I would not mention this topic if these games were not taking place right on Russia’s borders, if they had not undermined our security, if they did not work against stability in the world,” Putin wrote. “Our arguments are well known and I will not rehash them again. But unfortunately, they are not accepted by our Western partners.”

Russia has long said that the US missile plans pose a direct threat to Russia’s nuclear deterrent. The United States denies this and asserts the planned system is designed to thwart missiles launched by “rogue” states. The US-led NATO alliance, Putin said, had expanded to take in new members close to Russia, had overreached its authority in regulating international affairs and was establishing “facts on the ground” before the post-Cold War relationship between the bloc and Moscow could be worked out.

Putin said he agreed with those who argue that upholding human rights is the top obligation of sovereign states and said crimes against humanity should be punished by international courts. Arguing however that the need to protect human rights justified outside military intervention in sovereign states without UN approval resulted in deaths, violation of those same human rights and unpredictable consequences, Putin wrote. “Then we’re not talking about a noble cause but about elementary demagoguery,” he said.

The 59-year-old Russian leader expressed particular aversion to what he described as a concept of security among NATO members and particularly the United States which “fundamentally differs from ours.” ““The Americans are obsessed with the idea of ensuring their absolute invulnerability – a thing, I would point out, that is utopian and achievable neither from a technological nor a geopolitical standpoint. “And herein lies the problem. Absolute invulnerability for one means absolute vulnerability for all the others. It is impossible to agree with this perspective.”

Addressing the unrest in the Arab world, Putin said Russia would not permit a “Libyan scenario” to take place in Syria, where he said Moscow wanted to see an immediate halt in violence and a national dialogue to resolve the crisis. He defended the decision by Russia and China to veto a resolution earlier this month pushed by Washington and its European and Arab allies that Moscow said would have opened the door to foreign military intervention in Syria.

Russia in particular faced blistering criticism that “bordered on hysterical” from Western countries for its decision, Putin said, adding that Moscow strongly hoped the United States and others would not resort to force in Syria without UN approval. Referring more widely to the Arab Spring, Putin said that efforts backed by the United States and the West to bring about “democracy with the help of violent methods” were unpredictable and often led to precisely the opposite result.

“Certain forces, including religious extremists, are emerging who are trying to change the direction of development of these countries and the secular nature of their governments,” he said.

Putin noted the importance that social networks and mobile devices had played in uprisings in several Arab states last year and said “soft power” had been used by states to advance their foreign policy goals there without resorting to force. At the same time, he warned, “soft power” and new communication methods were used to provoke extremism, separatism, nationalism, to manipulate public opinion and “interfere directly in the internal affairs of sovereign states.”

As he has in the past, Putin criticized non-governmental organizations that he said operated in one country but were paid for by another with the tacit aim of pushing the latter’s foreign policy objectives. On Iran, Putin said Russia was “alarmed” by reports of possible preparations for a military strike to cripple Tehran’s nuclear activities, warning that if such a thing happened “it would have truly catastrophic consequences” on a massive scale.

He said the world should recognize Iran’s right to develop a civilian nuclear program, including enrichment of uranium, for energy production under close supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency. In addition to his direct criticism of US behavior on the world stage, Putin said some policymakers within the United States – notably in the US Congress – were unable to abandon Cold War-era stereotypes and phobias about Russia.

Despite some progress in bilateral Russian-American relations, outdated perceptions in the United States about Russia – along with what he called US “political engineering” in regions close to Russia – still had a negative impact on bilateral relations, he said. Putin recalled however that in a 2007 meeting with former US president George W. Bush he had proposed a solution to resolve differences over missile defense which he said would have dramatically improved bilateral ties.

Putin said Russia’s proposals then on missile defense, which would have paved the way to a “qualitatively new, close and alliance-like model for cooperation in many other sensitive areas” were still on the table. “In relations with the US, we would be ready to go really far and to reach a substantial breakthrough provided the Americans conduct themselves according to principles of equal and mutually-respectful partnership,” Putin said.

The Russian leader acknowledged that his country had had little success in establishing a more positive image for itself in the world and insisted that while he would defend his country’s interests Russia did not want to be isolated. “We are ready to get to work on mutually-profitable cooperation, toward open dialogue with all of our foreign partners. We are working to understand and take account of the interests of our partners. We ask them to respect ours.”


Russia afraid Israel will push U.S. into war with Iran, Vladimir Putin ally says
Russia fears Israel will push the United States into a military conflict with Iran which could retaliate by blocking oil shipments from the Gulf, a confidant of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said. “There is a likelihood of military escalation of the conflict, towards which Israel is pushing the Americans,” Nikolai Patrushev, who heads the Kremlin’s Security Council, told Interfax news agency.

Patrushev, a former head of the main successor to the Soviet-era KGB, said Tehran could respond by blocking the Strait of Hormuz between Oman and Iran, through which 35 percent of the world’s seaborne traded oil passes. “It cannot be ruled out that the Iranians will be able to carry out their threat to shut exports of Saudi oil through the Strait of Hormuz if faced with military actions against them,” Patrushev said in an interview published on Thursday.

Tension over Iranian uranium enrichment, which has moved to a mountain bunker better protected from possible air strikes, has raised fears for world oil supplies and even of war. Iran says its nuclear program is peaceful while Western powers believe it has military aims. Israel, which sees an Iranian atom bomb as a threat to its existence, is willing to attack Iranian nuclear sites with or without U.S. backing.

However, Patrushev said there was still no proof that Iran was on the brink of creating nuclear weapons. “Talk about Iran creating an atomic bomb by next week we have heard for many years,” he said, adding that the United States was trying to topple the Iran’s leadership using “all available means” to make the country into “a loyal partner”.

Russia, the world’s biggest energy producer, opposes further UN Security Council sanctions over Tehran’s nuclear program and has sharply criticized U.S. and European Union sanctions. The United States has said it would use force if Iran carried out its threat to block the strait and moved a new aircraft carrier strike group to the Arabian Sea this week.


The "Libyan Model" Won't Save Syria

Congressional Republicans are pressuring the White House this week to intervene in Syria. They are basing their case, bizarrely enough, on the president's war in Libya. "I think the Libyan model could serve us well," Sen. Lindsay Graham said this week. "We need to help the rebels militarily, economically, and let Assad know that he is an international outlaw and be held accountable.... We should consider a 'no drive, no fly' zone, too, pretty quickly."

For interventionists in Congress to claim that the Libyan intervention "served us well" is absurd in the extreme--unless the "us" excludes entirely the Libyan people. Libya wasn't a model--it was a thoroughly illegal, totally dysfunctional catastrophe. The fact that anyone can still tout Libya as a success without it being as politically-damaging and obviously ludicrous as claiming Iraq as a success is a testament to the complete disengagement of the American people and U.S. media. Consider these facts:
What is now known is that while the death toll in Libya when Nato intervened was perhaps around 1,000-2,000 (judging by UN estimates), eight months later it is probably more than ten times that figure. Estimates of the numbers of dead over the last eight months – as Nato leaders vetoed ceasefires and negotiations – range from 10,000 up to 50,000. The National Transitional Council puts the losses at 30,000 dead and 50,000 wounded.
But of course, much worse atrocities would have been committed had we not intervened, right? President Obama told Congress he was compelled to intervene (with what is now apparently his own personal army) because "we knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of Charlotte – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world." It seems clear from the context, as Foreign Policy's Stephen Walt noted at the time, that:
the president seems to have been convinced that Qaddafi was about to unleash genuine mass killings of perhaps as many as 100,000 people, in a city of roughly 650,000 (remember his pointed reference to Benghazi being nearly the size of Charlotte?).
But as Walt pointed out separately:
Although everyone recognizes that Qaddafi is a brutal ruler, his forces did not conduct deliberate, large-scale massacres in any of the cities he has recaptured, and his violent threats to wreak vengeance on Benghazi were directed at those who continued to resist his rule, not at innocent bystanders.
Without any precedents or statements from Qaddafi indicating a massacre was likely, why was President Obama so convinced a horrendous atrocity would be committed? Over a year later, the president has still offered no explanation or intelligence to support his position. We now know it's likely Qaddafi even lacked the military capability to commit such a slaughter.

But the lie that was Libya is even more clear when you look at how the mission actually operated. From day one, NATO forces ignored the UN mandate and began bombing Libyan forces on the ground. More egregiously still, NATO strikes targeted Qaddafi, his family (including his grandchildren), and generic government sites. The "no-fly zone" to protect civilians was simply a useful cover for regime change.

As the war dragged on, the U.S. more fully demonstrated just how much more they cared about regime change than protecting civilians. NATO began to redefine "military" targets--striking Qaddafi-loyal rescuers who came to help after NATO strikes, killing 47 civilians in Sirte (similar to drone strikes on Pakistani rescuers). In July, NATO bombed Libya State TV killing three journalists. Later that month, strikes against other government officials killed 15 civilians. Finally, in October, U.S. drone strikes hit Qaddafi's convoy as he attempted to escape the city of Sirte. Rebel forces then captured him, sodomized him repeatedly with a knife, executed him, and then danced around his corpse lifting his head repeatedly for camera shots, wildly shooting weapons into the air.

Qaddafi's gruesome execution was certainly a war crime--not that Hillary Clinton saw it that way. "We came. We saw. He died," she joked to CBS News. Nevertheless, the lynching should have given the West some insight into the character of the opposition forces we had just spent the previous year supporting. Amnesty International, for example, has described how early the opposition war crimes began: "In the immediate aftermath of taking control in eastern Libya, angry groups of supporters of the '17 February Revolution' shot, hanged and otherwise killed through lynching dozens of captured soldiers and suspected foreign 'mercenaries' – and did so with total impunity."

Furthermore, the Independent Civil Society Mission to Libya described how rebel forces were creating ghost towns by driving out Qaddafi supporters as a form of punishment. Human Rights Watch reported on mass graves in Qaddafi's final stronghold of Sirte where Qaddafi supporters were executed with their hands tied behind their backs. As many as 500 people may have been murdered in this way. That war crimes were committed once Sirte was taken is no surprise given the level of destruction both NATO and Libyan forces inflicted on the city. The two month siege completely decimated the city, as seen in the picture above. The city was then subsequently looted.

Indiscriminate bombing throughout Libyan cities has displaced thousands of people in a massive humanitarian crisis that has been ignored by the West. Amnesty International reports:
While neighbouring countries, most notably Tunisia and Egypt, have received hundreds of thousands of third-country nationals fleeing Libya, member states of the European Union (EU) continued to enforce their border control policies and failed to guarantee safety for those escaping conflict. Since March, more than 1,500 fleeing men, women and children have perished at sea trying to cross the Mediterranean to Europe.
Amnesty International has also reported on the makeshift prisons that were erected in "schools, football clubs, and apartments" that house thousands of alleged Qaddafi supporters and racial minorities erroneously believed to be Qaddafi mercenaries. These prisons are run by local councils and torture and beating are common. They write:
In one detention centre, Amnesty International delegates found a wooden stick and rope, and a rubber hose, of the kind that could have been used to beat detainees, including on the soles of their feet, a torture method known as falaqa. In another, they heard the sound of whipping and screams. Detainees are held without legal orders and, with rare exceptions, without any involvement of the General Prosecution, as the justice system remains paralysed.
It has gotten so bad in post-Qaddafi Libya that Doctors Without Borders has stopped work in Libyan prisons in Misrata because prisoners "tortured and denied urgent medical care." Organization officials added that detainees were being tortured and treated, just so they could be tortured again. At least two inmates were tortured to death in this manner.

All the unlawful detention, torture, killings, mass graves, ghost towns, indiscriminate bombing, and other atrocities would have been one thing, but the fact that these events were enthusiastically backed indirectly by NATO and the CIA has exposed the U.S. humanitarian agenda as a complete fraud. Worse, even as the UN is reporting that the human rights violations are ongoing, the U.S. continues to back the new government blindly.

What the "Libyan model" shows is that not only are NATO governments not capable of intervening militarily to protect civilians, but that even if they were, they'd have no desire to.

Update: In May, eleven Libyan religious leaders were killed by U.S. missile strikes that hit a nearby "command and control" bunker (because the underground headquarters was a threat to "the Libyan civilian population.") Libyan Islamic leaders held a press conference after the attacks in which they "urged Muslims across the world to kill '1,000 people for each dead imam' across the world, namely in 'France, Italy, Denmark, Britain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.'" Interventions like these not only turn badly for the populations they affect--they ultimately turn badly for the intervening nation as well.

Update 2: Oil rich eastern Libya declared themselves "semi-autonomous" yesterday after years of neglect from the Tripoli government. The move could likely start a second civil war as National Transitional Council head Mustafa Abdel Jalil has rejected the move saying, "We are ready to deter them, even with force."


Syria escalation puts Russia's security interests in danger: Analyst

Efforts by the Western powers and Persian Gulf Arab states to undermine and finally topple the Syrian regime pose a serious threat to the security interests of Russia, an analyst says. Press TV has interviewed Michael Malouf, former Pentagon official from Washington about Russia's increased warnings in terms of its geo-political and geo-strategic concerns surrounding the US/Israeli-led threat to Syria and Iran. What follows is an approximate transcript of the interview.

Press TV: You're a military man, what do you make of Russia's warning the West not to arm the opposition saying that armed groups will never be able to defeat the Syrian army even if it's 'armed to the teeth', which may cause slaughter for years?

Malouf: Foreign Minister Lavrov made that point saying that Russia would not vote in favor of the UN Security Council resolution and he's right. The resolution only addressed the Syrian government, it did not address the opposition or the arming of the opposition. Unfortunately, what's now occurring in Syria and even the threat to Iran by the Israelis is having a very serious effect on the Russians in terms of their own vital interests in the Middle East. So they see the crisis in Syria as a much larger problem regionally also for their own vital security interests. Their point is well taken that as long as you have outsiders aiding and abetting the opposition and arming them… When the opposition first started out they didn't have very much in terms of arms; now they have very exotic weapons. Where did they get those weapons? They had to come from the outside. You had Saudi Arabia arming and providing that kind of assistance; also to the Sunnis in the provinces in Iraq. The western-most provinces in Iraq now are being used as a springboard for the opposition to go in and wreak havoc on the government. The government of Syria has a right to defend itself; has a right to maintain law and order. And as long as you have opposition members shooting at them, the crisis is going to continue; the shooting is going to go on unabated and I think this actually plays into the hands of the insidious US plan to try to upset the regime. And the reason for that is that it is all aimed at trying to overthrow al-Assad and to divorce the Syrian government from any influence and relationship with Iran.

Press TV: So back to the question when Russia says that even if you are armed to the teeth in terms of the opposition that you're never going to be able to defeat the Syrian army - What does that mean? Does it mean that this is Russia's way of saying if you're going to play this game of arming the opposition, they're going to continue trying to defend their home and you are going to lose? So, what is this - a confrontation between Russia indirectly through Syria with the US and its allies?

Malouf: It's turning into that, ultimately. Not only the crisis in Syria, but in the larger geo-political and geo-strategic stand point this is also going to be the problem with respect to the potential threats that you're hearing from not only the US, but from Israel in wanting to bomb Iran. It's making Moscow increasingly uneasy in terms of the instability in the region. Syria is just one aspect of the larger problem that Moscow is now seeing in terms of its own vital interests. For example, they are now moving more and more troops and modernizing their base in Armenia in anticipation of the whole crisis in the Middle East from Syria to Iran exploding. And of course Russia has some major military assets in Syria itself that will probably come into play if the opposition continues the way it is right now in continuing to bombard unabated.

Press TV: What do you make of Kofi Annan - Do you think he is objective in this case in point? He has said on a few occasions yesterday that any transition should be a Syrian-led process, which should not involve outside intervention and violation of its territory. He's got to be aware of what's going on on the ground - He can't come out and say exactly in terms of his address to the UN… so, given that, do you think that he is aware of this and that he is impartial?

Malouf: I think Kofi Annan is trying his level best through diplomacy in as far as he can go, but I think he is very aware of the realities on the ground and I think he's under no assumption that what any diplomatic approach is going to prevail as long as you have the opposition being armed from the outside. He should be pointing fingers at those elements outside who are continuing to provide arms and support to the opposition. The Syrian government has every right to protect itself. As long as it's being shot at, it's going to shoot back - it's just that simple.


Putin Warns of Growing ‘Cult of Violence’

Vladimir V. Putin, the prime minister of Russia, warned on Wednesday of a growing “cult of violence” around the world and expressed concern that upheavals in the Middle East could spread to his own country. In an apparent reference to Western governments, Mr. Putin said he was alarmed by what he deemed to be interference in the affairs of sovereign nations, especially Libya and Syria. “We, of course, condemn all violence, no matter its source,” Mr. Putin said in a meeting with religious leaders in Moscow. “But do not conduct yourself like a bull in a china shop. People need to be allowed to decide their fates independently.”

Unlike some Western leaders, Mr. Putin has viewed the events unfolding across the Middle East warily. His concerns have intensified in recent months because of the emergence of a sizeable protest movement in Russia opposed to his return to the presidency, which he is seeking in the election next month. Mr. Putin has blamed the United States, and in particular Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, for instigating the protests against him. In his remarks on Wednesday, Mr. Putin referred to the continued disorder in Libya and warned of the “horrible consequences of interference.”

“In the last decade, unfortunately, a cult of violence has come to the fore in international affairs, and this cannot but cause worry,” he said. “We cannot allow anything like this to come to our country.”

Syria is also on Mr. Putin’s mind. His country faces mounting international pressure to end its support of Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and back an Arab League plan to halt the increasingly deadly conflict there. Moscow drew strong condemnation from Western and Arab governments for joining China in vetoing a United Nations Security Council resolution last weekend.

In the aftermath of the veto, Russia has been trying to broker a peace process of some kind between Mr. Assad’s government and opposition forces. The foreign minister, Sergei V. Lavrov, met with Mr. Assad in Damascus on Tuesday, and announced on Wednesday that Syria’s vice-president would seek to open talks with opposition forces in the country; he called on Western and Arab leaders to support Russia’s efforts.

“We consider this willingness to be an important factor to be taken into consideration, and hope that all who have some kind of influence over the opposition will urge them to begin such dialogue,” Mr. Lavrov said.

Russia’s president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, discussed the Syrian crisis with Turkey’s prime minister on Wednesday, saying Moscow supported continuing talks to end the conflict, including within the Security Council, as long as no country interfered with Syria’s sovereignty. According to a Kremlin statement, Mr. Medvedev said the latest draft of the Arab League-backed resolution “would not have allowed for an unbiased evaluation of the situation in Syria or have guaranteed that calls for an end to shooting and bloodshed were addressed to both sides in the conflict.”

“The resolution would not have enabled the search for a peaceful resolution to this crisis,” the Kremlin statement said. Few believe that Russia has enough clout with either Mr. Assad or the Syrian opposition to broker a deal that could halt the violence. But for Mr. Putin, that may not be as important as standing up to the West. “There is a sense that today the Western bloc, together with our Arab colleagues, have decided to play the role of empire of evil once ascribed to the Soviet Union by Ronald Regan,” said Yevgeny Y. Satanovsky, president of the Institute for Middle East and Israel Studies. “Someone must try to stop them.”


Why Russia Supports Assad

Two senior Russian officials, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Mikhail Fradkov, the director of Foreign Intelligence, have just been to Damascus. Their mission was not to nudge Bashar al-Assad from power and offer him exile in Russia. Rather, the talk was about dialogue with the opposition, offering a referendum on a new constitution, and the Arab League resuming its “stabilizing” mission. Russia, for its part, would stand firm alongside China at the U.N. Security Council, preventing a formal condemnation of the Syrian regime, any outside military intervention, or any sanctions against it.

Coming so late in the game, the attempt at reconciliation is bound to fail. Syria’s civil war has de facto begun, and it will not end soon. America, Europe, Turkey and the Gulf states have already given Assad a thumbs down. But the Russian mediation might have had a chance if Lavrov and Fradkov had come to Damascus last summer, or even last fall, and kept coming in an exercise of shuttle diplomacy. Given Russia’s role as Syria’s traditional backer and arms supplier, Moscow might have been more successful as a peacemaker than Ankara. Today, Lavrov and Fradkov’s mission looks more like a face-saving gesture.

Russia’s stance on Syria is often explained in terms of Syria’s importance to Moscow. It is true that Syria is positioned in the strategic heart of the Middle East, and that Moscow’s links to the Assad family go back four decades. None of this, however, should be exaggerated. Syria is not an ally; Tartus is a naval resupply facility rather than a naval base; and the total value of Russia’s arms trade with Syria during the previous decade amounted to around $1.5 billion, which makes Damascus Moscow’s eventh-largest client.

To understand Moscow’s attitude to Syria, and the sources of its disagreement with the West and a number of Arab states, one has to take a broader view. Last year, Russia abstained in the Security Council on the Libya no-flight zone vote, thus allowing the resolution to pass. Soon what was billed as protection of innocent civilians from a massacre in Benghazi turned into NATO’s offshore war against the Libyan government, which finally resulted in the overthrow of the Qaddafi regime and the killing of the dictator along with many of his supporters and probably a number of civilians. That NATO’s military actions went way beyond the terms of the U.N. resolution did not seem to bother Western governments.

The Russian government is openly conservative; it abhors revolutions. This, however, is more than a self-serving ideological stance. When the Kremlin — or Fradkov’s office — looks at the Arab Awakening, they see democratization leading directly to Islamicization. If the West’s historical analogy is Europe’s 1848 or 1989, theirs is Russia’s 1917. They cite recent election results in Tunisia and especially Egypt. They point out that post-Qaddafi Libya is chaotic, with a lot of the former regime’s weaponry finding its way into unsavory hands. In their view, Syria’s uprising could have even worse consequences in terms of sectarian violence and the potential to affect the country’s neighbors, particularly Lebanon and Israel.

Revolutions are bad enough, in the Kremlin’s view, but attempts to interfere in other countries’ civil wars can only make things worse. The Russians appreciate that the United States and other Western powers would only intervene militarily if they could sustain zero losses themselves, as in Libya. Syria, however, is a more difficult case. Arming the Free Syria Army and providing it with intelligence will not be enough to prevail over Assad’s forces. A prospect of a wider war with Arab and Turkish participation looms on the horizon.

Such a war could only make sense if it were the first act of a more serious drama. Russians suspect that the real reason for the West’s pressure on Damascus is to rob Tehran of its only ally in the region. Behind the activity of the Gulf States, particularly Qatar, in the Syrian issue Moscow sees the rising regional influence of Saudi Arabia, Iran’s bitter rival in the region. Turkey’s “neo-Ottoman” ambitions are also playing a role. What the Russians are most worried about, however, is that Israel may strike at Iran, dragging in the United States and thus precipitating a major war with Iran sometime this year.

Russian policy makers may have a point or two when they discuss other people’s policies. They need, however, to step back and look at their own. Delivering arms into a country going through civil war is damaging, both politically and morally. Confronting both America and Europe, even if Western policies are misguided, is clearly at odds with Russia’s wider interests. Telling Qatar to shut up is not merely undiplomatic, but unwise. And openly quarreling with Turkey and Saudi Arabia has to be avoided. To this, some would say that, having lost $4 billion in Libyan arms and other contracts and facing the prospect of losing an equal amount in potential Syrian trade, Moscow has no other choice but to take a hard
line. It will be a pity if, at the end of the day, this argument prevails.

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, is the author, most recently, of “Post-Imperium: A Eurasian Story.”


For Syria, Reliant on Russia for Weapons and Food, Old Bonds Run Deep

As the violence in Syria worsened in recent days, amateur video showed the forces of President Bashar al-Assad rolling through the besieged city of Homs in vintage Soviet battle tanks. Other photographs, including satellite images released by the State Department, showed deployments of Soviet-designed truck-mounted rocket launchers and two models of a self-propelled howitzer whose sweet-scented names in Russian, Gvozdika and Akatsiya (Carnation and Acacia), are no reflection of their fearsome firepower.

Seemingly undeterred by an international outcry, Moscow has worked frantically in recent weeks to preserve its relationship with the increasingly isolated government of Mr. Assad, even as the Syrian leader turns his guns on his own citizens, and the death toll mounts. Not only has it continued to arm Syria, but its veto with China of a United Nations Security Council resolution calling on Mr. Assad to resign provided the political cover for a more severe crackdown on rebel forces.

Russia has praised Mr. Assad’s call for a constitutional referendum, a step that the United States and other governments have dismissed as meaningless. On Thursday, Russia was one of just a dozen countries, among them China, Iran and North Korea, to vote against a General Assembly resolution urging Mr. Assad to step down. And many analysts say that without Russia’s backing, including a steady supply of weapons, food, medical supplies and other aid, the Assad government will crumble within a matter of months if not sooner.

It has done all this in the face of stinging international criticism, and so far it has shown no signs of backing down. While Moscow has a number of reasons to guard its relations with Damascus, the most concrete, many analysts say, is the longstanding arms sales to Syria. The chief spokesman for Rosoboronexport, the state-owned weapons trading company, said last week that absent any new directive from the Kremlin, business with the Assad government would continue as before.

“We understand the situation has become aggravated in Syria,” the spokesman, Vyacheslav N. Davidenko, said in an interview. “But since there are no international decisions, and there are no sanctions from the U.N. Security Council, and there are no other decisions, our cooperation with Syria — the military-technical cooperation — remains quite active and dynamic.”

Regional political events have played a part. The Arab Spring and the American-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have dissipated Russia’s once-powerful influence in the region, transforming the relationship into one of critical importance to Prime Minister Vladimir V. Putin, who is running for president and wants to expand Russia’s role as a global powerbroker.

“Syria is kind of it in the Middle East at this point for Russia,” said Dmitry Gorenburg, a Russia expert with the Center for Naval Analyses, a federally financed research group based in Virginia. “That can go a long way toward explaining why Russia stuck with Assad for the last year.”

The Kremlin is also eager to send a stern message to the West about its distaste for interference in any country’s internal affairs — a point it reiterated in voting against the General Assembly resolution last week. Russia’s United Nations ambassador, Vitaly I. Churkin, said the resolution “reflects the alarming trend to try to isolate the Syrian leadership, to refuse any contacts with it, to impose a formula for political settlement from outside.”

Instead, Russian officials have called for both the Assad government and the opposition in Syria to agree to a cease-fire. And the Russian Foreign Ministry has praised the plans for a constitutional referendum. “Moscow sees this step as evidence that the Syrian leadership, despite the complicated security situation, is implementing the promises made to the people of realizing deep political and socioeconomic transformations,” the ministry said in a statement.

But if the talk from Russia is heavy on respecting Syria’s autonomy, and avoiding the chaos that has engulfed Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Egypt, arms exports have long anchored the relationship between Moscow and Damascus, including sales over the years of MIG fighter jets, attack helicopters and high-tech air defense systems. While the ouster and death of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in Libya and the imposition of sanctions on Iran have sharply curtailed other formerly lucrative arms markets for Russia, Syria has increased its weapons purchases, including a deal late last year for Yak-130 light attack planes worth more than $550 million.

From 2007 to 2010, the value of Russian arms deals with Syria more than doubled — to $4.7 billion from $2.1 billion — compared with 2003 to 2006, according to an annual report by Richard F. Grimmett, a veteran international security specialist at the Congressional Research Service in Washington. During the same period, the value of Russia’s weapons deals with Iran fell to $300 million from $2.1 billion.

In a sign of the intensifying diplomatic pressure on the Kremlin, Russian officials have visited Syria and called for a truce. And the deputy defense secretary, Anatoly Antonov, recently insisted that no Russian weapons were being used against the opposition forces in Syria — but he offered no basis for the assertion. Russian officials have forcefully pushed back against any suggestion of an arms embargo against Syria, which they say would handcuff Mr. Assad’s government while allowing the opposition to continue acquiring weapons.

While Mr. Davidenko, the spokesman for Russia’s weapons company, acknowledged the longstanding ties between Moscow and Damascus, he said that some analysts were exaggerating the importance of Syria as an arms customer, noting that India, now the world’s overall largest importer of weapons, had also become Russia’s biggest customer these days. Still, Mr. Davidenko conceded that Russia had lost billions of dollars
in potential arms business as a result of sanctions against Iran and the change of power in Libya. In Libya alone, he said, the new government has suspended about $4 billion in previously agreed-upon contracts.

The Libya experience weighed heavily in Russia’s Security Council veto. Mr. Putin, for one, was furious at the NATO-led airstrikes against Colonel Qaddafi after Russia and China agreed not to veto a resolution creating a no-fly zone over the nation. Russian officials said that they were also led to believe that existing arms agreements would be honored by the new Libyan government, but that so far that has not been the case. “All of that made them very dubious that anything the U.N. Security Council passes that makes mention of Assad stepping down could be used as carte blanche for folks interested in regime change,” Mr. Gorenburg, of the Center for Naval Analyses, said.

Russian domestic politics are also a concern, especially with the presidential election just two weeks away. More than two million Russians work for military-related businesses, and they represent a slice of the electorate that officials never want to malign. On Thursday, the government announced plans to spend about $100 billion through 2020 to modernize its military-industrial complex. Russia’s ties to Syria are old and deep. A Russian naval station at Tartus, in northern Syria, is its only military installation outside of former Soviet territories.

There are numerous other economic and cultural bonds, including the presence of Russian companies working in oil and natural gas in Syria, as well as a proposal for the state-owned nuclear energy company, Rosatom, to build a power plant there. Other Russian companies have interests in agriculture, irrigation and
telecommunications in Syria. Syria, however, has a checkered history when it comes to paying for its weapons. Mr. Assad arrived in Moscow for his first state visit in 2005, with his country owing Russia about $13.5 billion. Mr. Putin welcomed him warmly at a ceremony in St. George Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace. Their wives met for tea.

At the time, the two leaders signed a “joint declaration on friendship and cooperation,” and Russia agreed to write off nearly 75 percent of Syria’s unpaid bills. Many Syrian arms purchases are financed by loans, said Ruslan Aliev, an arms-trade specialist at the Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, a Moscow research group. “They are old customers, but theyare very poor,” Mr. Aliev said of the Syrians. “They don’t have enough money — not like Saudi Arabia or United Arab Emirates.


Russia: West Arming Syrian Rebels

In comments today to Russian media, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov has accused unnamed Western states of secretly sending arms and advising the Syrian rebel factions, warning the move was fueling a crisis. Ryabkov also condemned NATO and the Arab League for attempting to use the UN Security Council to facilitate a regime change in Syria, saying the council was “not a tool for intervention in internal affairs” and threatening “drastic measures” if the policy continues.

Though there is as of yet no solid proof of any nation arming any rebel factions, the Turkish government has openly backed the Free Syrian Army (FSA), and is providing media access to its leadership through the Turkish Foreign Ministry. The FSA is made up of defectors from the Syrian military, led by Col. Riad al-Assad. Many of the defectors have made their way out of Syria with weapons taken from barracks, so it is unclear if they even need arms.

Still, while we can’t prove that arms are flowing yet, officials have given us reason to believe such aid may be forthcoming. Rep. Steve Chabot (R – OH), the head of the House subcommittee on the Middle East, is openly calling for armament of the rebels.


‘Foreign military presence in Syria raises ghost of Libya’

Russian lawmakers declared their unanimous support for Moscow's official position on Syria, which one Duma member says may have been infiltrated by foreign military. Chairman of the State Duma International Affairs Committee Alexei Pushkov spoke out following reports that a “foreign special task force” has been dispatched to Syria in an effort to provide assistance to the political opposition. "According to the latest reports that are now being verified, a foreign special task force has been deployed in Syria,” Pushkov told reporters on Friday. “If these reports are proved to be true, the scenario will be absolutely the same as it was in Libya.”

According to Pushkov, "they [the alleged foreign task force on the ground in Syria] are supporting the opposition and supplying them with arms; they propose an unbalanced resolution that places rigid conditions on Syria's ruling regime, while giving in to the demands of the opposition." Meanwhile, the four factions of the State Duma unanimously declared their support for Russia’s official position in Syria.The statement, proposed by the International Affairs Committee, says the State Duma "deems it extremely important for the UN, specifically the Security Council, not to side with any party in the conflict.""The State Duma deputies support Russia’s official position…to facilitate the settlement of the conflict inside Syria," the statement reads. “Such an unbalanced approach…would undermine the chances for an equitable and constructive dialogue."

The statement went on to criticize the “ultimatums issued to only one side of the conflict,” while, at the same time, calling for “regime change” as a mandatory precondition for settling the unrest. The Russian deputies say they condemn military intervention in the affairs of foreign countries and the imposition of solutions from outside. "Russia will not support a single document that implies or allows such intervention without the UN Security Council's direct approval," the lawmakers said.Pushkov warned against using unsubstantiated “humanitarian reasons” for justifying military intervention in foreign countries, and turning the United Nations and the Security Council “into an ally for one side of a civil conflict."

These activities are advanced by the help of western media, Pushkov believes, which promote a particular set of 'facts' that are usually impossible to prove. He called for a bigger presence of Russian media in the international arena in order to create greater transparency in news coverage."This is a serious matter for our information policy," the deputy said. Russia has expressed alarm over the increasing tendency of foreign powers – notably NATO countries – to resolve internal conflicts in foreign countries through military force. The latest such intervention happened in Libya, which recently experienced a full-blown civil war.

Following the passage of a UN resolution on Libya that called for the protection of innocent civilians, NATO countries launched a massive aerial offensive that inflicted heavy casualties. Russia and other countries say NATO “overstepped its mandate” by apparently taking the side of the militant opposition. The NATO mission attracted further condemnation when video footage showed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi being taken alive by the National Liberation Army in Sirte, moments before being summarily executed by his captors.


Russia says 15,000 foreign "terrorists" in Syria

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is battling al Qaeda-backed "terrorists" including at least 15,000 foreign fighters who will seize towns across Syria if government troops withdraw, a Russian diplomat said on Thursday. Russia is a staunch defender of Syria despite international condemnation of the crackdown by Assad's forces and evidence of human rights abuses against unarmed civilians.

Addressing a one-day humanitarian forum on Syria at the United Nations in Geneva, Russia's deputy ambassador Mikhail Lebedev said rebels had recently committed large-scale attacks against Syrian infrastructure, including schools and hospitals. "Rebel groups attack, kill, torture and intimidate the civilian population. The flow of all kind of terrorists from some neighboring countries is always increasing," Lebedev told the forum.

Asked by Reuters how many foreign fighters were believed to be in Syria, he said: "How many got in through illegal routes? The border there is not demarcated, not delimited, so nobody knows. But at least 15,000." On Thursday, Kofi Annan, the U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria, said he would urge Assad and his foes to stop fighting and seek a political solution, drawing angry rebukes from dissidents.

Russia wants a ceasefire by all parties and an inclusive political dialogue. Lebedev told the U.N. meeting criticism of Assad was overdone. "We urge our partners not to yield to temptation to exaggerate things but to expedite a balanced and professional approach to delivering help to all segments of the Syrian population with no exception," he said. "Most of the militants are indeed directly or closely affiliated with al Qaeda."


Lebedev told Reuters the information about al Qaeda links in Syria was an "unambiguous fact" but declined to say if Russia would provide the U.N. with evidence to back its allegation Syrian rebels were committing torture. "All I know is that all the way through (the wars in the Russian region of) Chechnya nobody believed us when we said the Islamic underground, including terrorist organizations, was developing its operations on our soil," he said.

"It's just that five years later there's a recognition that we did everything right." Lebedev said attempts to force Assad to rein in his troops unilaterally would be counterproductive. "If we demand that the Syrian government withdraw its forces from the cities without addressing the same call to the opposition we should be ready (to see) that the relevant towns will immediately be occupied by the violent armed groups," he said.


Syria Receives 72 Yakhont Missiles From Russia

Russia has supplied two Bastion coastal missile systems to Syria, concluding a controversial $300 million arms deal inked with the Syrian government four years ago. Russian sources claim the new missile system will “enable Syria to protect its entire coast from a possible seaborne attack”, the delivery of these medium range shore-based anti-ship missile system is taking place as the Syrian regime is extremely unstable. If the Asad regime falls, these weapons could be transferred to his allies – Iranian backed Hezbollah, or fall into the hands of extremist islamic factions fighting the regime. The Bastion battery comprises 18 mobile launchers each carrying two 3M55E Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles capable of striking surface targets on land and at sea at a range of 300 km, with their devastating 200 kg warhead. With these parameters, such missiles could put at risk elements of the Six Fleet patrolling the eastern Mediterranean, as well as Israel navy vessels and Israeli offshore rigs.

Ivashov: Syria Experiencing Wide Scale Campaign Targeting Its Independent Policy and Support for Resistance

Vice President of the Academy on Geopolitical Affairs Gen. Leonid Ivashov said on Saturday that what is currently taking place in Syria is a wide scale campaign carried out by Israel's Mossad and western countries – particularly the United States and France – in an attempt to fragment Syria due to its independent policy, support for resistance against Israel and establishing strong relations with Iran.

In an interview with SANA's correspondent in Moscow, Ivashov said that the west is also targeting Syria because of its position in the Arab world and its unique style of development that can serve as a role model of Arab people, noting that the international financial circles that organized the campaign against Syria don't want the Syrian model to succeed and continue its independent policy.

He pointed out that the third stage of the U.S. plan to destabilize Syria is taking place, and that this stage consists of carrying out sabotage and assassinations, causing bloodshed, and taking the situation from a political track to a combat track. Ivashov explained that the second stage consisted of inciting armed confrontations with the army and law-enforcement forces, while the first stage involved amassing funds and weapons, carrying out a strong media misdirection campaign, and organizing armed terrorist groups.

In this context, Ivashov criticized the intense media and psychological war waged by some mass media establishments and satellite channels against Syria to cause chaos, fear and panic. He also lauded the Syrian media which is confronting the media weapons and uncovering its lies and misdirection to the public opinion. Ivashov voiced confidence that Syria will emerge from this crisis stronger and more resilient due to the initiatives of President Bashar al-Assad, and that Syria will succeed in foiling the acts of terrorist and sabotage planned by the Mossad and western intelligence agencies.

He also condemned the acts of sabotage that targeted a passenger train between Aleppo and Damascus and an oil pipeline in Homs. On a relevant note, Ivashov pointed out that the U.S. organized a training course in a neighboring country for Syrian opposition, providing them with instructions and directions to carry out acts of terrorism and sabotage in Syria and exploit the just demands of some Syrians, adding that the Syrian leadership began finding solutions to these demands by issuing a number of legislations and reform laws.

Resisting Pressure and Foreign Interference the Only Way Out for Syria

In an article published recently in Serbia's Novi Standard newspaper, Ivashov said that resisting pressures and foreign interference is the only way for Syria to emerge from its current situation. Ivashov said that Syria works with a stable foreign and internal policy, and that President Bashar al-Assad's political strategy is based on tackling the issue of defense and security on the bases of national, social and political unity of Syrian society, creating an independent policy that doesn't appeal to the United States and its bid for controlling the world.

He pointed out that the U.S. uses all methods to fight the countries it labels as enemies, including revolutionary technology and military force, along with international organization, in addition to using the resources of countries under U.S. and NATO influence to form clandestine units of extremists and mercenaries to fight countries that attempt to follow and independent and free policies.

Ivashov said that mass media opposed to Syria try to pass criminal acts as protests, and that the arrests of gang members are repression of political rights and liberties, with the U.S. truing to push through with a Security Council resolution to impose a blockade on Syria. However, after the experience in Libya, Russia and China thwarted these attempts.

He added that U.S. President Barack Obama and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are in a delicate situation, as they must go into elections after suffering one defeat after the other; first in Libya and now in Syria. Ivashov concluded by saying that Syrians must either resist western pressure or end up like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.


US Will Lose Influence over Mideast – Syrian Mufti

The United States will soon lose its influence over the Middle East, Russia and China will replace this nation, Top Syrian Mufti Ahmed Badr al-Din Hassoun said on Saturday. “Americans think only about themselves, about their economy and hegemony, not about human’s interests…I believe, Americans will soon lose this region [Mideast], China and Russia will win it,” the mufti told RIA Novosti.

“The United States wants to cover the region with an umbrella. Wants to crash our country and the region, intern it and turn it into an investment area. But we will not surrender,” Hasun said. He emphasized that Syrian religious leaders support the dialogue between the regime and opposition and back reforms.

As the death toll from the 12-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s authoritarian rule has skyrocketed in the past two months, surpassing 5,400 according to UN estimates, the United States and its Western allies have increased pressure on Russia to drop its support for the Assad regime.

In February, Russia and China, both permanent UN Security Council members, vetoed a UN draft resolution condemning the Syrian regime and calling on Assad to step down. Protesting against what they call Western attempts in interfere in Syria’s domestic affairs, Moscow and Beijing have insisting that both the regime and armed opposition groups fighting against the government are to blame for the bloodshed.

While local human rights groups point to soaring numbers of civilian deaths as a result of Syrian army operations against protesters, the country’s authorities say more than 2,000 security and military officers have been killed by members of “armed terrorist gangs” which they say are directed from abroad.


Armenia Ready to Provide Site for Russian Radar

If Russia fails to agree with Azerbaijan lease of the Gabala missile defense radar, Armenia is ready to provide a site on its territory for construction of the radar, Kommersant daily reported on Wednesday, quoting Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan. “There may even be advantages, because Aremenia is a mountainous country. Coverage can be broader,” Sargsyan said.

Russia has been in talks with Azerbaijan to extend the lease of the Soviet-era radar, which it has operated in line with a 2002 deal. The current agreement is due to expire on December 24. The Russian daily Kommersant newspaper reported in late February that Azerbaijan had demanded Russia pay $300 million instead of the previously agreed $7 million for the lease, which Russia is seeking to extend until 2025.

Sources in the Russian Defense Ministry were quoted as saying the price demanded by Baku was “unreasonably high.” The deputy director of the Institute of Political and Military Analysis, Alexander Khramchikhin, has said the end of the Gabala radar lease will do no “real damage” to Russia’s defense capabilities because another radar, constructed in the southern Russian town of Armavir, would cover the area of the Gabala radar.

The Voronezh-class radar in Armavir in the Black Sea area is currently operating in test mode and is a serious breakthrough when compared to the previous generation Dnepr and Daryal class radars, which the Gabala radar belongs to.


Russian radar in Armenia to block an US/Israeli strike on Iran from the north
Moscow has stepped into the vacuum created by US President Barack Obama’s decision to stay out of any potentially incendiary Middle East involvement while campaigning for a second term. After blocking the way to direct Western and Arab military intervention in Syria through the Mediterranean, Russia sent its Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov last week on a round trip to the capitals of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan – an expedition designed to secure Iran against a potential US/Israeli attack via its northern and eastern neighbors, debkafile’s military sources report.

On his return to Moscow, April 6, the Russian army let it be known that highly-advanced mobile S-400 surface-to-air missiles had been moved into Kaliningrad, the Baltic enclave bordered by Poland and Lithuania, its response to US plans for an anti-Iran missile shield system in Europe and the Middle East. In Yerevan, the Russian minister finalized a deal for the establishment of an advanced Russian radar station in the Armenian mountains to counter the US radar set up at the Turkish Kurecik air base, our sources disclose.
Weeping crocodile tears, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Saturday that the April 10 date for a Syrian truce “was not an excuse for continued killing” by the Syrian regime, ignoring the fact that “the continued killing” could have been avoided were it not for the strategy pursued by Kofi Annan, the special envoy he shares with the Arab League, with Moscow’s back-stage wire-pulling.

Just as the Turkish station (notwithstanding Ankara’s denials) will trade data on incoming Iranian missiles with the US station in the Israeli Negev, the Russian station in Armenia will share input with Tehran. Moscow remains deeply preoccupied in Syria, successfully fending off Western and Arab pressure against its ruler Bashar Assad. debkafile’s sources hear that Assad will not meet the April 10 deadline for moving his heavy armor and battalions out of Syrian cities. Monday, April 8, he sent his foreign minister Walid Moallem to Moscow for instructions for getting him off the hook of failing to comply with his commitment to the UN envoy Kofi Annan’s peace plan, starting with a truce.

Lavrov, rather than US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton is evidently regarded these days as the senior Middle East power broker. In a thumbs-down on Russia’s deepening footstep in the region, the London-based Saudi Sharq al Awsat captioned a Sunday op-ed item, “Nor do we want a ‘Sheikh’ Lavrov.” For the first time since the Cold War ended, the management of a major world crisis has passed into the hands of the Kremlin in Moscow and the UN Secretariat in New York.

This is because President Barak Obama is advised by his campaign strategists that the way to the American voter’s heart in November is through burnishing his image as a “balanced and responsible” multinational diplomat, in contrast with his Republican rivals’ hawkish support of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear program. In the case of Syria, the White House finds itself on the same side as the UN and the Kremlin.

They all share the common goal of obstructing Western and Arab military intervention in Syria at all costs.

Hundreds of Syrian protesters are still paying the price in blood - although its dimensions of the butchery are frequently exaggerate by the opposition. After brutalizing his population for thirteen months, Bashar Assad is more or less on top of the revolt in Syria’s main cities, excepting the Idlib province and one or two pockets in and around Homs. He used the extra days afforded him by Kofi Annan’s deadline for the ruthless purge of the last remnants of resistance in small towns and villages, cetain that Moscow, the UN secretary - and Washington, by default - would do nothing to stop him.

Should current circumstances shoot off in unforeseen directions – for instance, a Syrian government poison chemical or biological weapon attack causing hundreds of dead, over and above the 9,000 confirmed by UN figures – Obama might be forced to resort to limited military action, pulling in the Turkish army. This has not yet happened. That the Russians are not letting the grass grow under their feet, turning Middle East bushfires to their advantage and closing one American Middle East option after another, appears to be a minor consideration in Washington up until November.



Three hypotheses explaining a dramatic enlargement of the Russian military group in Dagestan. Between 15,000 and 25,000 servicemen of the Defense Ministry and Internal Troops with heavy fighting vehicles were dispatched from Chechnya to Dagestan. The authorities call it planned rotation one day and establishment of the Interior Ministry's Tactical Force in Dagestan the following.

Eyewitness reports mentioned over 300 vehicles including armored personnel carriers, Ural ferries, and armored command vehicles on the way to Dagestan. T-90 tanks and multiple rocket launcher systems were already moved to Dagestan from Chechnya. According to official explanations, "some forces of the Provisional Task Force will be moved from Chechnya to Dagestan and transformed into the Interior Ministry's Tactical Force." Dagestani Security Council Secretary Magomed Baachilov, however, called it "planned rotation".

Both explanations are lame, of course. Official explanation is invalidated by the simple fact that no Tactical Force ever needs so many heavy armored vehicles and Grad launchers. Baachilov's is plain rubbish on account of the scope of the so called rotation. The impression is that a major operation against the extremist underground is planned in Dagestan. Or else the federal center knows something that warrants deployment of an equivalent of two divisions... in addition to the 136th Brigade quartered in Buinaksk, Marines in Kaspiisk, and countless OMON units.

There is, however, a third hypothesis as well. "As matters stand, there are between 55,000 and 57,000 servicemen quartered in the republic... discounting local law enforcement agencies... It is rumored here that come summer Azerbaijan will make another go at Nagorno-Karabakh and try to reabsorb the runaway region. All this military might concentrated in Dagestan is meant as a warning to Baku, a message that Russia will stand by Armenia," said a source in Dagestani security structures.

Source: Argumenty Nedeli, No 11, March 22, 2012, p. 2

Russia, Armenia Oppose Military Action against Iran

Russia and Armenia spoke out on Monday against possible Western military action against Iran, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warning of “very serious” consequences for regional security during a visit here. Speaking after talks with his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandian, Lavrov said attempts to end the West’s nuclear standoff with Tehran by force would destabilize not only the Middle East but also the South Caucasus.

“It is hard to predict consequences [of military action] but they would obviously be very serious and negative,” he told a joint news conference. “It would affect the security of not only Armenia but also Azerbaijan given the fact that there are three times as many ethnic Azerbaijanis in Iran as in Azerbaijan.”

“It’s hard to predict how the Iranian Azerbaijanis would react to the use of military force against their country,” Lavrov said. “But if, God forbid, that happens, then there will undoubtedly be large inflows of refugees and a large part of those refugees will end up in Russia given the existence of a large Azerbaijani diaspora there.”

Moscow has strongly opposed use of force by the United States, other Western nations and Israel ever since Iran embarked on a controversial nuclear program. Lavrov reaffirmed the Russian position that it would run counter to international law. Nalbandian indicated that Armenia is also against air strikes and other military operations against Iranian nuclear facilities. “Iran is Armenia’s neighbor and we are interested in solutions to problems concerning Iran achieved through dialogue and negotiations, rather than use of force,” he said.

The Iran standoff as well as the situation in Syria were apparently on the agenda of the two ministers’ talks which Nalbandian said testify to a “high level of political dialogue” between Moscow and Yerevan. A statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry said they discussed “ongoing developments in the Middle East” and agreed on “the need to solve problems through dialogue.” According to the statement, Lavrov and Nalbandian also had a “detailed discussion” on international efforts to end the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict. Nalbandian was quoted as praising Russia for its active involvement in the negotiating process.

Speaking at the news conference, Lavrov said that both Armenia and Azerbaijan are his country’s “strategic partners” and that Moscow will carry on with its Karabagh mediation. He also defended the work of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chaired by Russia, the United States and France. Lavrov met with Prime Minister Tigran Sargisian later in the day. An Armenian government statement said the meeting focused on economic issues. “Russia is our strategic partner and we must expand and strengthen bilateral relations,” Sargisian told the Russian minister.


CIA to Boost Ties with Turkey

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, General David Petraeus paid an unannounced two-day visit to Ankara to discuss deepening instability in Syria, the joint fight against terrorism and closer cooperation on pressing regional issues “in coming months.” David Petraeus, the CIA chief, held meetings with top Turkish officials both yesterday and on March 12, the Hürriyet Daily News learned. Petraeus met with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan Tuesday and his Turkish counterpart, Hakan Fidan, head of the National Intelligence Organization (MIT), the previous day.

An official from the U.S. Embassy said that Turkish and Amerian officials discussed “more fruitful cooperation on the region’s most pressing issues in the coming months.” Turkish officials said Erdogan and Petraeus exchanged views on the Syrian crisis and anti-terror fight. The officials further discussed an intelligence-sharing mechanism launched in 2007.

Petraeus’ visit coincided with that of Kofi Annan, the United Nations and Arab League’s special envoy to Syria. Though both officials stayed in the same hotel in Ankara, there was no confirmation of a potential meeting between the two. Annan, who is trying to push the Syrian leadership to end its measures against anti-government rebels, is the latest international figure to have met Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.


Turkey's Neo-Ottoman Foreign Policy

How does Turkey’s ruling Islamist party react when it gets a report it doesn't like from the United Nations? By yanking diplomats, threatening military conflict with a neighbor, and menacingly eyeing that neighbor's new yield of natural resources. If the General Assembly ever does something really provocative and votes on a resolution recognizing the Armenian genocide or the right of Kurdish self-determination, you can bet that Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will make the prison guard in "Midnight Express" look like Florence Nightingale.

Reacting to the leaked UN Palmer Report on the 2010 flotilla fiasco, which found that Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip is legal and that the passengers aboard the "Mavi Marmara" were cruising for a bruising, Erdogan’s government has taken to issuing thuggish pronunciamentos. At issue is the fact that Israel refused to apologize to Turkey for killing nine Turkish nationals in the Mediterranean. Israel reckons that to do so would be an insult to the commandos who abseiled onto the "Mavi Marmara" only to be bludgeoned, stabbed, and shot.

Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) has tried to have it both ways on the flotilla. It banned its own members from participating in order to distance itself from what was obviously a blockade-running provocation. Yet ranking AKP members are on the board of IHH, the Turkish "charity" that organized the event.

Anatolian Chest-Poundings

And Erdogan's refusal to let the 2011 flotilla start out from Istanbul -- at the urging of Washington -- complicates the government's claims of having no control over a supposedly independent NGO. Needless to say, bilateral relations with Israel have gone from lousy to dire. “The eastern Mediterranean will no longer be a place where Israeli naval forces can freely exercise their bullying practices against civilian vessels,” one Turkish official said, promising a military escort for all future “aid” ships to Gaza -- assuming, that is, that these ships can outfox the savvy Israeli lawyers who made the sequel set-sail a busted flush.

From the sound of it, Turkey now wants to become the chief maritime bully. Part and parcel with its “more aggressive strategy” in the eastern Mediterranean is its attempt to stop Israel from mining its huge natural gas and oil fields, recent discoveries which some experts predict will make the Jewish state one of the largest -- and wealthiest -- energy exporters in the world. The threat by a NATO member to skirmish on the high seas with a major U.S. ally follows other Anatolian chest-poundings.

Earlier in the week, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose foreign policy vision used to be known as “no problems with the neighbors,” announced that Ankara would be expelling all Israeli Embassy officials above the rank of second secretary. Erdogan wants to visit Gaza in the coming days to increase “international attention” on Israel’s siege of the strip. This from the man who previously said that he doesn’t think Hamas is a terrorist group. Erdogan's visit is sure to impress upon Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas which party the AKP would like see ruling the Palestinian state the UN is about to recognize.

A Dirty Little Secret

Finally, Erdogan vowed to suspend all military relations and defense industry trade between Turkey and Israel. Years ago, this might have been significant. Yet here’s a dirty little secret: Greece, which diplomatically facilitated the second flotilla’s deep-sixing, is fast replacing Turkey as Israel’s favorite regional military partner.

Not only is flight distance between Israel and Greece the same as that between Israel and Iran, but the Hellenes have got S-300 antiaircraft missiles that the mullahs have been itching to buy from Russia in order to deter an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear weapons program. Joint Israeli-Greek military exercises are therefore seen as very valuable at the moment. The Israelis and Palestinians have had their share of Turkish strong-arming, but so have the Syrians.

Indeed, the reason that a Syrian National Council was hastily announced on Al-Jazeera late last month, following weeks of oppositionist wrangling and backbiting at a conference in Istanbul, is that a faction of Syrian youth activists had grown tired of seeing the AKP trying to make their revolution a Muslim Brotherhood-led affair. (What better way to minimize the Islamists than to propose a secular French sociologist chairman of a Syrian National Council, as a group of youth activists did last month?)

Erdogan did happy business with Bashar al-Assad while he could, but he now wants to make sure that any post-Assad state consists of loyal Sunni ideologues. That'd be one way to undercut Iran’s influence in the Middle East, and never mind that the people bleeding and dying in Syria are mostly apolitical kids who don’t trust neo-Ottoman power brokers any more than they do former regime apologists.

Turkish intelligence and the Muslim Brotherhood are also trying to co-opt the Syrian Free Army of rebel soldiers, according to Syrian sources. "They are the only ones connected to them," one opposition activist told me recently. "I'd rather the Syrian Free Army connect to the CIA. Tell your NATO friends that I extend them an open invitation to Syria."

Michael Weiss is the communications director of The Henry Jackson Society, a foreign policy think tank based in London. The views expressed in this commentary are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL


Baku Hub For Israelis Spying on Iran

An Israeli intelligence agent has reportedly admitted that Azerbaijan, Iran’s northwestern neighbor, is “teaming with” Mossad agents who are trying to collect intelligence on the Islamic Republic. “This (Azerbaijan) is ground zero for intelligence work," The Times of London quoted an Azerbaijan-based Israeli intelligence agent named “Shimon” as saying on Saturday. "Our presence here is quiet, but substantial. We have increased our presence in the past year, and it gets us very close to Iran. This is a wonderfully porous country,” JPost quoted Shimon as saying.

Secret documents released by WikiLeaks last April revealed that Israel had been using the former Soviet republic's soil over the past four years to spy on Iran. The document in the US Embassy in Baku, sent to Washington in January 2009, refers to a visit by the Azeri president's advisor for security and defense issues, Vahid Aliyev, to Israel. According to the WikiLeaks cable, the trip was aimed at signing a contract with Tel Aviv which allowed Israel to use Azerbaijan's soil for its spying activities against Iran. The US diplomatic cable further discloses an arms deal between the two sides.

According to the leaked cables, Azerbaijani authorities banned all anti-Israeli protest gatherings anywhere near Tel Aviv's Embassy in Baku during the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip at the turn of 2009. Prior to the leak, there were reports about the operations of Israeli spying cells on the Iranian-Azeri border under the cover of farming activities. Separatist groups and members of the terrorist Mujahedin-e Khalq Organization are also freely operating within Azerbaijan's borders.


Iran Summons Azerbaijan Envoy Over 'Mossad Activity'

Iran's state-run news agency said the country's foreign ministry has summoned Azerbaijan's ambassador to protest alleged Israeli intelligence activity in the oil-rich Caucasian state.The Sunday report by IRNA says that the ministry handed a protest note to Azeri envoy Javanshir Akhundov and demanded that his government prevent Mossad from using its territory to launch operations against Iran. The report said "terrorists" linked to the killings of Iranian nuclear scientists escaped to Israel through Azerbaijan.

"Following the movements of the terrorists involved in (the) assassination of Iranian scientists in Azerbaijan and the facilities provided to them to go to Tel Aviv in collaboration with Mossad spy networks, Azeri Ambassador to Iran Javanshir Akhundov was summoned to the Foreign Ministry to hear the protest of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the Azeri government," Tehran said in a statement.

According to the report, the Foreign Ministry's director general for the Commonwealth of Independent States and Caucasus delivered a letter of protest calling on the Azeri government to halt anti-Iran operations of "Mossad spy networks" in Azeri territory. Iran has frequently accused Israel of having a hand in the assassination of scientists such as Mostafa Ahmadi Roshan, killed by a bomb in January. Iran's protest came on the heels of a London Times interview with a man claiming to be an Azerbaijan-based agent of Mossad who confirmed the Israeli intelligence agency has a base in the Caucasian country.

The man, identified in the article as "Shimon," told the British paper that there were dozens of Israeli Mossad agents working out of the base. "(Baku) is ground zero for intelligence work," he said. "Our presence here is quiet, but substantial. We have increased our presence in the past year, and it gets us very close to Iran. This is a wonderfully porous country." Arastun Orujlu, a former Azeri counter-intelligence officer and director of the Baku East-West Research Center compared the area to "Norway during WWI or Casablanca during WW2 — it is at the centre of the espionage world."

Orujlu believes that there are "only a few Mossad agents working there… but they operate in a more effective way," than the Iranian intelligence agents, who he said number in the thousands. "The Iranians act in the open, they want everyone to know that they are here. The Israelis are more subtle, like the Americans. But in the end everyone knows they are here too."


Azerbaijan Makes Massive Israeli Weapons Purchase - But Not Because of Iran

Azerbaijan has agreed to buy $1.6 billion in weapons from Israel, a massive deal that is likely Azerbaijan's largest single arms purchase ever. The deal will include drones, anti-aircraft and missile defense systems, Israeli officials have told news agencies. The deal would be almost equal to Azerbaijan's stated 2012 defense budget of $1.7 billion (though will certainly be spread out over many years). The timing of the deal is misleading: regardless of the ongoing ratcheting up of tension between Israel and Iran, and increasing attention to Israel's intelligence activities in Azerbaijan, these weapons are destined to be used not against Iran, but against Armenia, which controls the breakaway Azerbaijani territory of Nagorno Karabakh. Though it's tempting to think otherwise. The AP reports:
Israeli defense officials Sunday confirmed $1.6 billion in deals to sell drones as well as anti-aircraft and missile-defense systems to Azerbaijan, bringing sophisticated Israeli technology to the doorstep of archenemy Iran. The sales by state-run Israel Aerospace Industries come at a delicate time. Israel has been laboring hard to form diplomatic alliances in a region that seems to be growing increasingly hostile to the Jewish state. Its most pressing concern is Iran's nuclear program, and Israeli leaders have hinted broadly they would be prepared to attack Iranian nuclear facilities if they see no other way to keep Iran from building bombs... As Iran's nuclear showdown with the West deepens, the Islamic Republic sees the Azeri frontier as a weak point, even though both countries are mostly Shiite Muslim.
Are Azerbaijan and Israel sharing intelligence about Iran? Certainly. Is Azerbaijan going to use Israeli weapons against Iran? No chance. Azerbaijan has nothing to gain by attacking Iran, or even by cooperating with an Israeli attack except in the most discreet possible way. As much as Azerbaijan has been building up its military, it's nowhere close to being able to deal with the Iranian military, and would be essentially helpless in the face of an Iranian retaliation. Azerbaijan's government doesn't trust Iran, but it's fear isn't of Iran's nuclear program, but of Iran's meddling in Azerbaijan's internal affairs. So it has little interest in stirring up the hornet's nest that would result from an attack on Iran's nuclear facilities.

Israel is a valuable arms partner for Azerbaijan not because of anything related to Iran. Rather, Azerbaijan has a lot of money, and Israel has top-quality defense manufacturers. And Baku is restricted in what it can buy from the U.S. because of opposition by pro-Armenia members of Congress, plus the U.S.'s general desire not to inflame the situation in Karabakh. And it's limited in what it can buy from Russia because of Russia's alliance with Armenia (occasional missile defense sales notwithstanding). Israel has no such concerns. An excellent Wikileaked U.S. diplomatic cable lays out the strong, but mostly quiet, alliance between Tel Aviv and Baku, including in the defense sphere:
Through its close relations with Israel, Azerbaijan gets a level of access to the quality weapon systems it needs to develop its army that it can not obtain from the U.S. and Europe due to various legal limitations, nor from its ex-Soviet suppliers, Belarus and Ukraine. Where other Western nations are reluctant to sell ground combat systems to the Azerbaijanis for fear of encouraging Azerbaijan to resort to war to regain NK and the occupied territories, Israel is free to make substantial arms sales and benefits greatly from deals with its well-heeled client. In September 2008 ) again in a little-publicized affair ) the GOAJ signed an extensive agreement with the Israeli Defense Ministry providing for three Israeli companies to provide mortars, ammunition, rocket artillery and radio equipment. The company "Soltam" got the contract to provide mortars and ammunition, "Tadiran Communications" will provide radio gear, and Israeli Military Industries will provide the rockets. IMI sells a range of rocket artillery and accessories ranging from upgrade kits for Soviet vintage BM-21 &Grad8 122mm systems, guidance packages for 122mm-300mm rockets and launch vehicles for up to 300mm rockets. It was not clear what exactly the Azerbaijanis bought, as the deal was simply described as being worth "hundreds of millions of dollars." Azerbaijan already operates IMI's 122mm "Lynx" multiple-launch rocket system, which it mounts on a KAMAZ 63502 heavy truck.
Israel and Azerbaijan also have been cooperating extensively on drones -- like the one that was shot down or crashed in Nagorno Karabakh in September. But this would be a big jump from previous levels of weapons sales. And it's Armenia, not Iran, that should be afraid.


Russia Warns Israel Not to Attack Iran

Russia warned Israel on Wednesday that attacking Iran would be a disastrous and played down the failure of a U.N. nuclear agency mission to Tehran, saying there is still a chance for new talks over the Iranian atomic program. Russia warned Israel on Wednesday that attacking Iran would be a disastrous and played down the failure of a U.N. nuclear agency mission to Tehran, saying there is still a chance for new talks over the Iranian atomic program. "Of course any possible military scenario against Iran will be catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations," Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told a news conference.

It was one of Russia's starkest warnings against resorting to force, an option Israel and the United States have not ruled out if they conclude that diplomacy and increasing sanctions will not stop Iran from developing a nuclear bomb. "I hope Israel understands all these consequences ... and they should also consider the consequences of such action for themselves," Gatilov said. "I hope a realistic approach will prevail, along with a sensible assessment."

Russia, China as well as many allies of the United States are concerned that any military action against Iran could engulf the Middle East in wider war, which would send oil prices rocketing at a time of global economic troubles. Iran has threatened to retaliate for any attack, or even if it feels endangered, by closing the Strait of Hormuz, the conduit for Gulf oil exports crucial to the global economy, and hitting Israel and U.S. interests in the Middle East.

Tehran has refused to stop sensitive nuclear work such as uranium enrichment despite four rounds of U.N. sanctions and a slew of additional measures imposed by the United States and the European Union, which fear Tehran is seeking nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic says its efforts to produce nuclear fuel are solely for electricity generation.


The failure of two days of talks between Iran and senior International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials, who were refused access to a military site where they believe Iran tested explosives of use in nuclear weapons, dimmed the chances of Western powers agreeing to renew broader negotiations with Iran. A warning from Iran's clerical supreme leader on Wednesday, hours after the Tehran talks concluded, that no obstacle would derail Iran's nuclear course added to tensions.

Gatilov suggested that Iran should be more cooperative but there is more room for diplomacy. He said Iran's discussions with Russia, China, the United States, Britain, France and Germany, frozen for a year, could still be revived. "Iran and IAEA should boost their dialogue in order to rule out the ... possibility of the existence of military dimensions in the Iranian nuclear program. We hope that this dialogue will be continued," he said. "I think we still have opportunity to continue diplomatic efforts, to renew the six-nation talks."

Russia, which built Iran's first nuclear power plant, has often stressed the need for talks and that too much coercive pressure on Iran is counterproductive, a stance that has prompted concerns Moscow has helped Tehran play for time. Last week, Russia said global powers must be serious about proposing solutions Iran might accept, warning that Tehran's desire for compromise was waning as it moved closer to being technically capable of building atomic weapons.


Russia Tries to Undermine Javakheti

Soon, the Baku-Tbilisi-Kars railway will be complete. The line passes through the Javakheti region of Georgia before entering Turkey. This is the same area where Moscow is trying to undermine the sovereignty and people of Georgia, hoping to inspire the ethnic Armenia population to declare yet another "independent state" on Georgian territory.

According to a Russian newspaper, the ethnic Armenian population in the region wants to separate from Georgia and declare its independence. The paper names Georgia’s efforts to join NATO as the major reason for their complaint, as when Georgia is granted membership it will "automatically" become a major Turkish ally, which is supposedly unacceptable to the Armenian population in Javakheti. This is the opinion of Agas Aramyan, the leader of an organization called Javakhk Diaspora in Russia, but not necessarily that of the people living in the region itself.

So far, such provocative statements had been ignored by the Georgian leadership. But on Monday, Deputy Foreign Minister Nino Kalandadze deigned to comment, saying that ethnic conflicts in Georgia are in the interests of the Russian Federation. She also mentioned that Armenia successfully cooperates with NATO. But the idea of separatism is still promoted by certain forces supported by the Kremlin, which is actively trying to implement this project.

Officially, Yerevan is taking a wise policy. The government there has not made any anti-Georgian statements; on the contrary, it is trying to develop good neighbourly relations between the two states. This position is shared by the Georgian side as well, as these countries are fated to be neighbours forever – thus it is in our mutual interest to preserve good relations.


Russian Black Sea Fleet and the Air Force Su-27 fighters will be stationed in Abkhazia

According to Itar-Tassy, Russia and the Republic of Abkhazia are in the a national consultation to establish military bases, and soon to sign a formal agreement. The Republic of Abkhazia report quoted presidential spokesman Kulisidi Yang’s words, “Last year, Abkhazia and Russia signed a” friendship, cooperation and mutual assistance agreement ‘, according to this agreement, the two being set up two military bases in Abkhazia to conduct consultations, according to the current situation of the talks in the next few months will be reached in the Abkhazia region of Bohm Bor Gudauta Chomsky and the establishment of the Russian Air Force base in the establishment of the Russian naval base in Ochamchira agreement currently being conducted on a number of technical issues final consultation. “Kulisidi Yang said, the main naval base Ochamchira Russian Black Sea Fleet deployment forces, the Air Force base area than Gudauta naval base early in use. According to Russian sources, Russia hopes to deploy in Abkhazia, including the Su-27 fighters, Su-25 bombers and military transport aircraft, including 20 aircraft.

Itar-Tassy reported that during the Soviet era, Soviet Air Force fighters, bombers and transport aircraft have deployed in the Bohm Bor Sharansky airport. According to the agreement signed between the two countries in 2008, will be built up in Abkhazia and 3,700 in the Russian Air Force bases. Bohm Bor Chomsky airport is the Black Sea coastal areas important military objectives is the largest military airfield outside the Caucasus. Russian Air Force deployed in the cluster do not need here costs too much, because there have the necessary ground support facilities. Bohm Bor Chomsky airport runway length of aircraft movements is 4 km, has to accept all types of fighters and military transport aircraft capacity. According to reports, the Russian military bases in Abkhazia, Georgia has aroused anxiety.


Military Buildup: Russia’s Top Secret Bases

Over 400 modern ground- and sea-based ICBMs, 8 ballistic missile submarines, about 20 general purpose attack submarines, over 50 surface ships and some 100 military-purpose spacecraft, over 600 modern aircraft, including fifth-generation fighters, more than a thousand helicopters, 28 regimental sets of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems, 38 division sets of Vityaz air defense systems, 10 brigade sets of Iskander-M tactical missile systems, more than 2,300 modern tanks, some 2,000 self-propelled artillery systems and guns, and more than 17,000 military vehicles. These are the figures of the massive rearmament program announced by Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin in an article published on February 20 by state-owned newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

The article, titled “Being Strong is a Guarantee of Russia’s National Security,” shows Putin’s determination to preserve Russia’s deterrence power facing US plains aimed at achieving nuclear primacy. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the gap between Russia’s declining arsenal and US constantly improving systems is actually increasing to the point of making the age of MAD nearing an end. Nevertheless, Russian nuclear deterrent is still formidable, as Moscow can count on more than 2,000 operational strategic warheads deployed along the entire territory of the federation and the seas plowed by the submarines of the Russian Navy. But what is more, in case of nuclear crisis Russia can still rely on several top secret bases inherited by the Soviet Union, and not only.

Russia’s national command and control system is dispersed among different hardened underground locations. According to US sources, two of the main secret bases are located in the Ural Mountains, where conventionally European Russia ends and greater Siberia begins. The first one is the Yamantau Mountain complex. Located near the closed town of Mezhgorye, in the Republic of Bashkortostan, this site is not far from Russia’s main nuclear weapons lab facility, Chelyabinsk-70. Military analysts suspect that Yamantau’s huge 400-square-mile underground complex houses nuclear warhead and missile storage sites, launch control and several full-blown nuclear weapons factories designed to continue production after a hypothetical nuclear war begins.

The second secret base in the Urals is an underground command and control center located at the Kosvinsky Mountain, about 850 miles east of Moscow. The site hosts the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces alternate command post, a deep underground command post for the general staff built to compensate for the vulnerability of older command posts in the Moscow region. The facility, finished in early 1996, was designed to resist US earth-penetrating warheads and is the Russian version of the American Cheyenne Mountain Complex.

Besides Yamantau Mountain and the Kosvinsky Mountain underground complex, Russia can still count on the Sherapovo bunker site, south of Moscow. Initially built in the 1950s, it was the primary command center for the Soviet leadership. The Kremlin is connected to Sherapovo and other bunkers by a secret subway line. According to a 1988 Pentagon report, once at Sherapovo, the Soviet leaders could have conduct a nuclear war by sending orders and receiving reports through a highly redundant communications system. Russia’s general staff has a similar facility some 20 kilometers away from Sherapovo, known as Chekhov. Both sites can accommodate an estimated 30,000 people each one.

Although Russia has tried to keep secrecy about its underground bases, information about these sites have circulated anyway. According to a CIA report, “the command post at Kosvinsky appears to provide the Russians with the means to retaliate against a nuclear attack.” The construction of the facility has actually helped Moscow to counterbalance the decline of its nuclear forces following the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In this sense, the existence itself of top secret bases within the territory of the Russian Federation is the best means of deterrence against any first strike intention, and thereby a warranty to world peace.


Iran Can't Be Allowed Nuclear 'Capability'

"When some say that our red line is a 'nuclear weapon,' it suggests that anything short of a working bomb is acceptable. This is exactly the wrong message to send."

The Iranian nuclear program continues to advance, despite unprecedented economic and diplomatic pressure by the United States and its international partners. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Iranian production of enriched uranium has sharply expanded in recent months, while agency inspectors have been prevented from accessing sites and scientists. Key components of Iran's nuclear program are being dispersed and moved underground.

Some have suggested that if economic and diplomatic efforts fail, we should accept a nuclear-armed Iran and seek to contain it, much as we did with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Others argue that Iran's illicit nuclear activities are primarily a problem for Israel and are not as much of a threat to the U.S. Both assertions are profoundly wrong. The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is a threat to the entire world, including particularly the U.S., and its destabilizing consequences are not containable.

To begin with, Iran's nuclear ambitions are a mortal threat to the global nonproliferation regime. If Iran succeeds in acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability, neighboring Arab states will seek their own atomic arsenals. The Middle East will become a nuclear tinderbox, and the odds of nuclear material falling into the hands of rogue terrorists will dramatically increase.

Iran itself is already the No. 1 state sponsor of terrorism in the world. If it acquires a nuclear-weapons capability, its proxies—groups such as Lebanese Hezbollah and Shiite militias in Iraq that have the blood of hundreds of Americans on their hands—will become significantly more dangerous, because they could strike at us and our allies while being protected from retaliation by Tehran's nuclear umbrella.

Iranian security at the Bushehr nuclear power plant in Iran in 2010. A nuclear-armed Iran would also threaten the global economy by holding Middle Eastern oil supplies hostage. Recently, Iran's leaders threatened to close the Strait of Hormuz. If Iran tried to do so now, the U.S. and our allies, including those in the region, would have an overwhelming military advantage. But what if Tehran had nuclear missiles?

There is still an opportunity for the world to convince Iran's leaders to abandon their illicit nuclear activities peacefully. But in order to achieve such a diplomatic settlement, several steps are urgently needed. First, it is imperative that the U.S. and its partners accelerate and expand economic pressure on Tehran. The only thing Iran's leaders value more than their nuclear ambitions is the survival of their regime. Consequently, sanctions must threaten the very existence of that regime in order to have a chance of stopping its illicit nuclear activities.

As importantly, however, we must put to rest any suspicion that in the end the United States will acquiesce to Iran's acquisition of a nuclear-weapons capability and adopt a strategy of containment. For this reason, we introduced a bipartisan resolution last month that explicitly rules out a strategy of containment for Iran and reaffirms that the U.S. has a vital national interest in preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability.

Our resolution is designed to firmly and unequivocally state that a policy of containing a nuclear-armed Iran is unacceptable. It does not dictate the administration's use of sanctions, nor does it authorize the use of force—our two primary methods of ensuring Iran's nuclear weapons program is stopped. But by sending an unambiguous message to the Iranians that we are prepared to do whatever necessary to stop them from acquiring a nuclear-weapons capability, we stand the best chance of avoiding a military conflict.

Some have asked why our resolution sets the goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a "nuclear weapons capability," rather than "nuclear weapons." The reason is that all of the destabilizing consequences of a nuclear-armed Iran will ensue as soon as Iranians have the components necessary for a weapon—and by then, it will be too late to stop them. When some say that our red line is a "nuclear weapon," it suggests that anything short of a working bomb is acceptable. This is exactly the wrong message to send.

That is why the comprehensive sanctions legislation passed by Congress in 2010 and signed into law by President Obama identified the U.S. goal as preventing a "nuclear-weapons capability." This is precisely the goal around which all of us—Democrats, Republicans and independents, Congress and the president, America and our allies—can and must now unite. Our bipartisan resolution is an expression of that necessary unity.

Mr. Casey, a Democrat, is a senator from Pennsylvania. Mr. Graham, a Republican, is a senator from South Carolina. Mr. Lieberman, an independent, is a senator from Connecticut.


No-Fly Déjà Vu

The United States has a strategic interest in the future of a Syria without Bashar Assad.

Senator John McCain is calling for a no-fly zone to protect desperate Arab civilians from being murdered by their own government. But the Obama Administration is reluctant to intervene militarily, and the Pentagon is especially outspoken in its opposition. "It's a big operation in a big country," the Secretary of Defense tells Congress. "Let's call a spade a spade: A no-fly zone begins with an attack . . . to destroy the air defenses."

That was the debate over intervention in Libya a year ago. Today Moammar Gadhafi has fallen after a U.S.-led air campaign in which no American lives were lost, and for which President Obama rightly takes political credit. Yet the Administration is still offering identical arguments against establishing a no-fly zone to protect the brutalized people of Syria and turn the tide against Bashar Assad's merciless onslaught.
Testifying Wednesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey warned that Syrian air defenses are more robust and densely concentrated than Libya's were under Gadhafi or Serbia's under Slobodan Milosevic, meaning that the U.S. ability to enforce a no-fly zone over the longer term "would be challenging." He also warned that Syria has chemical and biological weapons that could go missing.

Another concern—this one about the feasibility of arming the Syrian opposition—is that the weapons might fall into the wrong hands. "It is not clear what constitutes the Syrian armed opposition—there has been no single unifying military alternative that can be recognized, appointed or contacted," Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said at the same hearing.

These are real concerns, even if the Pentagon brass does have a tendency to paint its adversaries as 10-feet tall before demolishing them in a fortnight. In 1982, the Israeli air force shot down more than 80 Syrian MiGs in aerial combat without sustaining a single loss. Syria may not be Libya, but it's not exactly the Soviet Union, either.

Less serious, however, are the Administration's stated reasons for standing pat as Syria bleeds. Claiming we don't know enough about the opposition—or that they are insufficiently well-organized, or that they are in cahoots with al Qaeda—is exactly what we heard last year about the courageous forces in Benghazi and other Libyan cities who resisted Gadhafi and now thank us for coming to their rescue.

Then there is this Administration's obsession about needing a U.N. Security Council mandate to intervene. Since veto-wielding Russia and China have made it clear they are not about to abandon their clients in Damascus, waiting for the Council's blessings amounts to an Assad family license to kill.

The likelihood now is that the Assad regime will only become more brutal as it seeks to finish off its opponents. That, in turn, might be enough to shame the Administration into intervening without U.N. approval, just as the Clinton Administration did to stop ethnic cleansing in Kosovo in 1999. The alternatives are either to cross fingers and hope the Syrian opposition manages to regroup and defeat the regime after being crushed in the city of Homs—or simply to allow Bashar Assad to carry on.

So far, the Administration has gambled that Mr. Assad is somehow destined to fall. Yet he has already held on longer than predicted, largely because he can draw on the fears (and resources) of his kinsmen in the Allawite minority who believe they may lose their privileged positions, and maybe also their heads, under a future Sunni-led government. No wonder that the Russians continue to ply the regime with weapons and supplies: Moscow thinks the regime is going to win.

The question for the Administration is whether that's an acceptable outcome for the U.S. It shouldn't be. Even more than the largely humanitarian intervention in Libya, the U.S. has a strategic interest in Syria's future. "Iran only stands to lose further as Assad is weakened further," Mr. Panetta noted in his testimony Wednesday. He's right, but he might also consider that the opposite is true: Tehran will be the ultimate winner if Mr. Assad can hold on.

Which brings us back to the question of putting U.S. military assets at risk to enforce a no-fly zone. Contrary to President Obama's recent suggestions, nobody on either side of the Syria debate takes a cavalier view of the risks of war. Even limited military actions are serious business.

Then again, the Administration also should not take lightly the risk that Assad will soon finish off his opponents, putting the hopes of a free (or freer) Syria out of reach for another generation. Nor should anyone forget that the struggle in Syria will help determine the future of Iranian influence throughout the Middle East. Policy makers in Jerusalem and Riyadh understand that an Administration ambivalent about confronting the vulnerable and grotesque Assad regime will have no stomach for dealing with an emboldened Iran.


Georgia dragged into the new Ottoman Empire: An Interview Levan Pirveli

Ukrainian edition published an interview with Georgia's opposition Levan Pirveli - former member of the Georgian parliament, received political asylum in Austria. In Russia, many liberal journalists are simply fascinated by the Georgian reforms. There is such a positive picture of the country, where the victorious corruption, developing small businesses thrive freedom ...

Let's just look at the numbers. The external debt and exports. If the external debt of less than 100% of exports, this stable economy, and if more than 150% - it is extremely unstable. $ 10.5 billion - the external debt of Georgia, and exports - $ 1.5 billion. This is a seven hundred percent. Here's economy and reform.

The number of prisoners compared to 2004 increased by 500%. Georgia ranks second in the world after the United States in the number of inmates per capita (and first in Europe). The number of acquittals in Georgia - 0.084. And in Austria - 27.5, and the average across Europe - 20%. Here you have freedom and democracy.

From such a "democratic development" of Georgia, where unemployment exceeds 50%, with a population of 4.5 million people, has left 1, 5 million. Which, incidentally, in the ground and contain their relatives remaining in Georgia. A Russian journalists who come to the Republic at the invitation of people from the team Saakashvili, show well-developed propaganda show.

In October, Georgia will hold parliamentary elections. Getting ready for them, the opposition tries to unite again. Does it have a chance at it?

Need to ask two simple questions - who combines the opposition? And the second question - who conducts these elections? Americans hold elections, and they are united opposition. 2012 will not be very comfortable for the U.S. - there will be presidential elections, and they will not have a real opportunity to pay great attention to Georgia. So is hard cleansing of the Georgian political arena. For there was not a political player, uncontrollable U.S. is not directly controlled from there.

This sweep began a year ago, when Okruashvili and Burjanadze, have been used in the events of May 26. It was a successful operation to discredit the radical opposition, which was attended by Saakashvili security services. Which of the opposition leaders played a scheduled game, and who was just used, I leave without comment. After that, when the leaders of the radical opposition discredited participation in the failed so-called "Popular uprising" was the turn of the second stage of the operation. It was necessary to fill the vacuum his players to distract people from the protest.

We had hoped to instill in the people - when everything is already lost faith in the fact that you can win Saakashvili, suddenly appears Bidzina Ivanishvili. This is a purely American project. And the fact that Saakashvili calls it pro, can only be explained by the fact that he considers himself an American favorite, and just can not admit that someone else is their puppet.

There is no fundamental difference Ivanishvili of Saakashvili?

Ivanishvili himself admits that he gave money to Saakashvili's revolution in 2003. And now says that several years salary paid by the Georgian officials - while in Georgia, everyone thought that this grant from the Soros Foundation. Total Ivanishvili for several years, donated $ 150 million a year - and for salaries and for charity. And the money is distributed Saakashvili - and officials, and the construction of sports facilities, which he himself had opened, and even to help Buba Kikabidze and other elite intellectuals.

This contribution has actually been paid by Ivanishvili to maintain its fixed assets in the United States. It is clear that he did so "upon request" of the American authorities. And now it's time for Ivanishvili emerge from the shadows into the scene. He now serves as bait for the opposition. States that topple Saakashvili, but peaceful, constitutional, via elections. He categorically rejects any street protests. And when asked - but what if you lose? - He replies that in this case, no street protest will not be. Further - he buys the elite opposition to that before the end of 2012 no one went out. In fact, he pays them money so they do not go outside. This is his goal.

That is, the opposition can not win the parliamentary elections?

In an ideal option for the opposition, and with an honest count, it scores 40%, and Saakashvili - 60%. After that Ivanishvili declares that it is necessary to prepare well for the presidential elections in 2013 - and then win Saakashvili. Thus, the invented version, which allows for two more years to deceive the people. Performed a combination of having two years to tie all the forces of the Georgian opposition, in fact, eliminate it. The main objective Ivanishvili - omission of the opposition.

And how Ivanishvili able to collect all the opposition forces under him? One is money you do not?

Ivanishvili said that whoever is not with him, the enemy. That there are only two poles, he and Saakashvili, and that no third force is impossible. And who in this part of his coalition of "Georgia Dream"? The Republican Party, "Our Georgia - Free Democrats" Irakli Alasania, and conservatives. In 2004 they were Saakashvili, and Davitashvili was generally the first number in the list of Saakashvili's United National Movement.

That is, all those people who have been placed by the Americans in 2004, is now shared by two parties - one to Saakashvili, the other to Ivanishvili. And the next parliamentary list 2012 will be identical to the list of National Movement of Saakashvili in 2004.

The main task - to clean up all the opposition camp, to dissolve all of the two poles, to play a counter-opposition. To no one left at all, based on national values, the strategic vision for the future of Georgia, including the relationship with Russia. On the other hand, it is a good reference point to understand - some of those who have gone from Saakashvili, and who is not committed to Ivanishvili, are politicians, which is no longer rely Americans.

Who is left out of these two poles?

From the well-known politicians are Burjanadze. And in this case, her advantage. But now it is actually pushed to the sidelines. She was formerly the American team, but, apparently, had lost confidence due to frequent visits to Moscow and the May 26 event, where she unwittingly helped to discredit the real protest movement.

What gives Americans such polarization?

First, the illusion of a democratic election, and secondly, the political field cleanup and removal from the political process of all whom they did not believe her. They are absolutely pro-American political elite. And more important for them to win - in anticipation of complex events in the region to obtain a political team that focuses only on the United States, as well as breathing in the back of Saakashvili. Thus, Saakashvili, and so fulfilling all the wishes of the U.S., it becomes more manageable.

And most importantly - in the event of military confrontation in the region, both teams will be on the American positions. Ivanishvili already stated that he supported Georgia's participation in all NATO operations in Afghanistan, NATO says no alternative. Signal Americans give very clear - in Georgia, you might be opposition Saakashvili, but can not be a member of the opposition the United States.

Could occur in these conditions is a real third force?

Because Ivanishvili not able to fully carry out its mandated functions, and credibility are gradually falling, the opportunity for the emergence of a third force. Who is going exactly as it is not clear, but this force will be the one who will have the resources. Realizing that such power may suddenly appear, the government decided to secure itself to occupy this niche. Now authorities are trying to emulate a third force, creating an allegedly pro-Russian group in a party of Christian Democrats. A party that was once artificially created from the presenters and held in the parliament. Moreover, it has been established with the approval of the American ambassador.

Currently scheduled Union of Christian Democrats and the youth movement of the Union of Georgians in Russia, headed by Khubutia Saakashvili absolutely controlled structure. Allegedly, the two organizations traditionalist, Christian, and therefore they should be together. To the people thought it was a coalition focused on national interests - and in fact this snag. If the situation will get worse, then this "third force" will begin to unwind to the fullest.

From the Ivanishvili no attempts to improve relations with Russia?

Were on his side timid attempts to say something about the need for dialogue with Russia, that must be negotiated, but it quickly broke off. In addition, he has a personal interest - he wants to preserve the remains of their capital in Russia. Now he promises to sell his property in Russia - and it is estimated at $ 1.5 billion, a quarter of his fortune - and send the money to the polls. The entire political market of Georgia is estimated at $ 50 million, so it looks like he's just going by this sauce to evacuate the rest of their capital in Russia to the West.

Of course, there are some figures in the Russian government to help Ivanishvili - those who represent her pro-American liberal part.
Generally, in Georgia there is a direct military propaganda. A year ago it was still possible to speak about the need for dialogue with Russia, but now it is tantamount to betrayal of the motherland. And to the naked eye can already see that Saakashvili is preparing for war.

In which war, to strike on Iran?

No one doubts that the attack on Iran would be. The question is when and in what form, who will take part. What happened recently in the world - Tunisia, Egypt, the war in Libya, preparing to strike on Syria is an attack on Iran - is a logical target. Why is this done? Already well-looked through Turkey's role in these processes. The U.S. is no longer the situation in the eastern hemisphere, as in the past 20 years. Impact and ideological crisis (America's image has plummeted in recent years), and the economic crisis. U.S. direct rule in the eastern hemisphere is no longer possible, and the Americans go to the construction of a new world.

The U.S. currently has three problems - the rise of China, the increase of nationalist sentiment and the failure of multiculturalism in the European Union (and, consequently, less accountability EU USA), and the strengthening of Russia.

Russian model in 2012 - is already an independent state, which will carry out a completely independent foreign policy that is seen as planned establishment of the Eurasian Economic Union. In today's world it is very difficult to play off a future as a Eurasian Union with the European Union and with China. Future enhancement of three of these political and economic structures that would not be at odds with each other, is disastrous for the Americans.

Therefore, the U.S., it seems, begin to create yet another global player, which will be a counterweight to all three centers. This is the creation of a neo-Ottoman Empire. And attacks on other Muslim countries - Egypt, Libya and Syria - have only one purpose: to severely weaken this country and to drive them to the new neo-Ottoman alliance, where the leading role will be in Turkey as a strategic military partner of the United States. The structure of this American design to enter and Central Asia.

Appears and the two islands, which are not included in this alliance - Israel and Armenia. Jewish and Armenian lobbies in the U.S. will serve as a guarantee of their safety, and these countries will be a lever of influence on the union. Given the fact that in the new Ottoman Empire would be located more than half the world's oil and gas resources, the potential of such an alliance is very impressive. This project will certainly be involved, and Georgia - the only Christian country, linking the Muslim and Turkic-speaking countries. So Georgia's role is already defined.

How soon do you think Iran will start the campaign?

Everyone knows that the operation against Iran will not be limited to a local war, as happened in Iraq, and will affect everyone. Israel urges a strike, but some of the U.S. establishment wants to delay this moment.

In the U.S., many are interested in how to exit as the winner of Iran at the time of the presidential elections in autumn 2012. And if you start a conflict now, after three or four months all will become clear that the consequences of catastrophic, and about any victory, and not a speech. The illusion will shatter and you will see that this is not the Iranian conflict, that war is spreading.

But Israel is in a hurry because he's afraid to lose time. Today there was a favorable international environment for him - against Iran set up and the U.S., and EU countries. It is possible that Israel in fact, fears that Iran will produce nuclear weapons, which he still does. March 5 meeting with Netanyahu, Obama, and, apparently, a strike on Iran would be moved closer to the end of the year.

It should be noted also that the March 6 Saakashvili paid a state visit to Baku. He had a desire to negotiate a political-military cooperation with Azerbaijan and Baku to use the political platform for anti-Russian statements. But it is emphatically not allowed to do so. The only thing he left - an agreement on cooperation of statistical services. As is evident, from the adventurous Baku denies plans lined up by Saakashvili and his hosts.

Both the visit had been planned taking into account what will happen on March 4 in Russia. As you can see the Russian elections, showing the stability of the country, slowed down reckless plans. But the fact that the conflict is approaching, and is seen by the actions of other countries in the region. Realizing that the war is becoming more likely, they take certain steps to ensure their safety.

What makes this situation, Georgia?

Saakashvili's recent visit to Washington, found that Obama has demonstrated its support for Georgia, thus beating the Republican accusations that he supports "democratic regimes" established during the last administration. It was announced as a free-trade and arms transfers. It is, in particular, and on the supply of Patriot systems in Georgia. For whose defense is this done? For Georgia? Or for the upcoming war with Iran?

The fact that Iran is very uncomfortable - in terms of possible U.S. attacks. In the Persian Gulf are building up forces, but Iran has good coastal defense, a good navy is not as weak as it used to air defense. Although they did not receive the C-300 from Russia, but they have their own systems 300 C. Therefore, a convenient platform for ground operations, the Americans need to look around Iran.

Iraq has become a zone of instability for the U.S., and can not be used for the operation against Iran, especially given the Iraqi Shiite majority. The same is true of Pakistan and Afghanistan, where all will soon have to leave urgently. Turkey is clearly not risk becoming a base for U.S. operations.

It remains to Transcaucasia. For Armenia, Iran, along with Georgia, is the main exit to the outside world. Why do Armenians isolated from Iran if it will lead to the actual isolation of Armenia? Not to mention the fact that Armenia - an ally of Russia, part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and is located in Gyumri, the Russian military base.

Azerbaijan is playing a serious game with Israel - only Israeli arms supplies to the planned $ 1.6 billion. But on the whole, Azerbaijan has now become a field of struggle between the Israeli and Iranian intelligence. And the day he participated in anti-Iranian operations are very risky, especially given that Iran's Azeri community is huge. If Azerbaijan decides to become a base for U.S. operations, it can be deadly for him.

It remains to Georgia. That she can become a major partner, the northern base for the United States. Therefore, the transfer of the Georgian Army Patriot systems can work to cover and protect U.S. bases that can be located in Georgia.

Where these databases can be located? After all, they need to deploy a sufficiently long training ..

Let's look at what is now being repaired in Georgia. First of all, the infrastructure, which will be useful for troop transport - roads, bridges, airfields. There is an urgent repair and construction of airports. And all airports in Georgia belong to the Turks - that is, the runways have NATO membership. There is a separate program for the construction of American hospitals. They built a fairly large amount, but such a number of hospitals with 20 beds for Georgia completely unprofitable. Even so in the little Georgia can deliver any patient for one hour to the hospital. But this is explained in the event that it will be military hospitals ...

Georgia is a future field of battle. Today, all countries calculate the possible actions of competitors.