The menace of Globalism and Democracy - July, 2013

Due to important developments that are continuing to take place throughout the Middle East I decided to remain on the topic of Syria for a while more. But in doing so I would like to take this opportunity to revisit some topics I consider important to understand in this day in age.

Various news outlets recently reported that Moscow has evacuated its military personnel from Syria and replaced them with "civilians". If these reports prove accurate, Moscow seems to be pulling its people out of harms way and in doing so lessening the risks of Russia being accidentally drawn directly into the raging war by an incident that causes the lose of Russian lives. This move by Moscow may be an ominous sign that Kremlin officials are expecting an escalation in the conflict. Moscow may be moving around its chess pieces as a precautionary measure, perhaps in preparation for a wider regional war. Interestingly, Russian officials seem to have struck a deal with the government of Cyprus to use the Mediterranean island nation's naval facilities. 

Moscow's recent moves should be seen as tactical ones. Moscow is not abandoning Syria. Russian arms shipments to Damascus are continuing and the Russian naval contingent stationed in the eastern Mediterranean is maintaining its presence near the Syrian shore. However, not abandoning Syria should not be translated as Moscow is preparing to fight for the territorial integrity Syria. 

Although Moscow remains fully engaged in this high stakes game in Syria and although the preservation of Bashar Assad's government remains vitally important for Russian officials, I still don't see the Russian Federation going to war for Syria. In my opinion, Moscow will help Syria politically, with arms provisions and with military intelligence, but it will expect Syrians, Shiite Lebanese, Shiite Iraqis and Iranians to do the actual fighting and dying for Syria. And that is exactly what seems to be happening today: Western and Israeli backed Sunni interests on one side, Russian and Iranian backed Shiites on the other will be facing off in Syria for the finale. 

Tehran, Damascus and the Hezbollah seem ready for the challenges that awaits them. We now know that Lebanon's Hezbollah is playing a very significant combat role in Syria. There are reports that Iraqi Shiites are also operating in Syria. Iran is said to have significantly increased its military presence in Syria in recent weeks. And Assad's government has begun the initial stages of the long awaited military campaign to liberate the terrorist occupied city of Aleppo. 

In short, the region's Shiite and Alawite populations have come to the full realization that the Battle for Damascus has taken on existential parameters for them. This epic fight for survival is essentially why they all seem to have drawn their red line around Bashar Assad's government. And with active support from Tehran and Hezbollah, Bashar Assad's government has been able to score significant successes in recent weeks. The Western backed, foreign Islamic mercenaries are in retreat throughout Syria. This reversal of fortunes for the terrorists is more-or-less the reason why Western powers have grown increasingly desperate. Having thus lost all hope in a terrorist victory in Syria, they have begun mobilizing conventional forces within Turkey and Jordan. 

If Western powers decide that the risks in Syria are worth taking, these forces may begin their two-pronged invasion of Syria sometime this summer. 

This does not mean, however, that Western or Israeli troops will be directly involved in the military operation. None of the major powers involved in the Syrian mess will look to get their hands dirty because the potential for the conflict to turn into a world war remains very high. They are currently training Syria's Sunni rebels and Islamic mercenaries from around the world in the arts of conventional warfare. It will be these forces that will be sent into Syria to turn the tide of the war. They will be provided logistical support, medical facilities, ammunition, advanced antitank and anti-aircraft weapons, military intelligence and when needed perhaps special forces support. Their military strategy will be to effectively split Assad's forces into two by creating two major fronts. It is not yet clear if Western powers will risk sending combat aircraft into Syrian airspace and it is not yet clear if Moscow will have the time to supply and train Syrian forces in the use of the advanced S-300 missile system. Therefore, there are some variables. Nevertheless, Syria's fate is hinging upon two primary factors: How far will the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance and friends will go to destroy it and how far will Moscow and Tehran go to protect it. More on the military and geopolitical aspects of the conflict in Syria can be read in my previous two blog commentaries -
A real life, high stakes chess game has taken shape in the Levant. Syria has suddenly and unwittingly become the battlefield where forces subservient to Western and Israeli interests and forces loyal to Iran (backed by Moscow) are facing off in an epic battle. These are pivotal times in the Middle East. And as we have been seeing in recent weeks, it's not only Syria, the entire region, including the region's two major players, Turkey and Egypt, is in an upheaval. 

Just recently, the Egyptians proved yet again that the thing called democracy may be one of the worst forms of government ever devised by man. Egyptians have in fact proven my thesis that democracy is the best way to create a failed state. It's important to note here that in Egypt Washington has leverage over both the sides of the political fence. I would also like to take this opportunity to remind you again that the political system in the Western world is not a democracy per se, it is a tightly controlled, elitist system where only a handful of select political parties participate in the political process every few years. The electorate in the Western world have very limited say in the political process. Western/European countries that come closest to practicing a democratic form of government may be Switzerland and Iceland. Nonetheless, it looks as if the next few months will be crucial in determining what the future of Syria and of the greater region will look like.

Their fear of Iran 

The last article at the bottom of this page is a geopolitical essay resurrected from the pre-911 world. The April, 2001 commentary concerning Russian-Iranian relations was featured in the website of the now infamous The Heritage Foundation: Leadership For America, one of the premier Neoconservative think tanks in the United States. The article is a set-by-step, geopolitical blueprint for the Bush administration. This work comes to us from a period in time when the terms "Neocon" and "War on Terror" were still unknown to the general public. However, es the article clearly reveals, even before it all began in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the grand agenda of the special interest groups working deep within power centers of Washington was there for all to see. Their main fear for the Middle East is the growth of Iranian influence.  Their main fear for Eurasia is the resurgence of Russia as a superpower.

Please see the following blog commentaries for further insights on the West's problems with Russia - 
And please see the following blog commentary for further insight on the West's problems with Iran - 
Official Tehran plays a big role in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Their fear therefore is that if left unchecked Iran will disturb what is termed as the "balance of power" in the region. This so-called balance of power is where Western powers, the Zionist state and several US-backed Arab monarchies enjoy total supremacy and complete impunity. As a result, many in positions of power in the Western world, Israel and Saudi Arabia have been quite vociferous in calling for a preemptive war against Iran. They fear that they will no longer have the impunity to do as they will once Iran becomes a nuclear power and begins projecting its interests throughout the region. A recent Wall Street Journal commentary had this to say about the topic - 
"The risks of a jihadist victory in Damascus are real, at least in the short-term, but they are containable by Turkey and Israel. The far greater risk to Middle East stability and U.S. interests is a victorious arc of Iranian terror from the Gulf to the Mediterranean backed by nuclear weapons."
Wall Street Journal - May 6, 2013
And the following quote made by a high ranking Israeli minister comes from the Times of Israel -
“Israel’s main strategic threat is Iran. Not Syria, not Hamas. Therefore, strategically, Israel should examine things from the perspective of what harms Iran and what serves Israel’s agenda in confronting it. If Bashar remains in power, that would be a huge achievement for Iran. A weakened Assad [remaining in power] would be completely dependent on Iran. In my opinion that’s the worst thing that can happen to Israel... “Bashar Assad must not remain in power. Period. What will happen later? God only knows. The alternative, whereby [Assad falls and] Jihadists flock to Syria, is not good. We have no good options in Syria. But Assad remaining along with the Iranians is worse. His ouster would exert immense pressure on Iran.”
Sima Shine, Times of Israel - June 23, 2013 
The above quotes, one by the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal and the other by a high level Israel official, explains things quite well: Assad's government has to be defeated no matter what. What's painfully obvious here is that jihadists in Syria are really not much of a concern for Western or Israeli officials. As I have been telling my readers for a very long time now, jihadists have never been a serious problem for them. A few dead Americans or some damaged property in Western nations from time-to-time is a very small price to pay for exploiting an effective yet destructive tool such as Islamic extremism.  

For further insight on the topic of Islamic terrorism and the political West, please see the following blog commentary - 
Tsarnaev brothers, secret services and Islamic terrorism:
The growth of Iranian power and influence in the Middle East in recent decades has been keeping officials in Washington, London, Tel Aviv, Brussels, Ankara, Riyadh and Doha awake at nights. This is because, as mentioned above, Tehran threatens to disturb what the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance terms "the balance of power" in the region. In other words, they are afraid of a real balance of power emerging because in such a political environment, they will not feel invincible and will no longer be able to act with impunity. In particular, Iran's rise as a regional power is seen as an existential threat for Israel. For the Zionist state to survive in the Middle East it has to enjoy total supremacy over its neighbors. 

Moreover, Tehran's rise as an independent regional power also threatens the free flow of the region's Western controlled energy production and distribution. Being that Iran is one of the world's largest producers of energy (natural gas in particular, which the developed economies of Europe, Turkey and Israel desperately need), Tehran's rise as a major regional power is seen as a serious strategic, long-term threat. But as alluded to above, Iran is not their only problem here because there is also the Russian Federation. Russia's resurgence as a Eurasian superpower has essentially monopolized the production and distribution of Central Asia's much coveted energy resources.

Central Asia and the Persian Gulf are increasingly coming under Russian and Iranian influence, and I should also add that China is beginning to project its power in the Far East. This is cause for serious consternation in the Western world. And this is why they want to see a greatly diminished Iranian and Russian and Chinese role in global affairs. 

In short, Tehran and Moscow are redefining global energy politics and are currently on the verge of changing the geopolitical landscape Eurasia. What I just outlined above is more-or-less the basis of all the volatility we have been witnessing in the region. Their fear of Iranian and Russian power in the Middle East lurks behind the international aggression we currently see taking place against Syria - because the road to Tehran starts in Damascus. True to their predatory spirit: Since Iran is a much tougher opponent to take on directly, they are going after Syria first. Before they are able to take on a large and powerful nation like Iran, they must first stamp-out Iranian support in the region. Bashar Assad's regime and Tehran are strategic partners, and arming and training Lebanon's Hezbollah has been a strategic joint venture of theirs. Therefore, the international predators see Syria and the Hezbollah as natural preys. 

Wesley Clark's troubling revelation 

The best way to ensure stability and prosperity in your land is to cause instability and despair in your competitors' lands. Ancient Rome knew this formula very well. Rome intentionally fought most of its wars in enemy territory. Keeping certain areas of the world in constant turmoil is how the Western world maintains its hegemony. With the exception of Nazi Germany's bombing of London during the Second World War, all of the wars instigated by Anglo-Americans during the past century have taken place in faraway lands. Until Western nations are made to suffer death and destruction on the scale of what they have been inflicting upon others for decades, they will continue instigating wars around the world. Until their cities, estates, their mansions, their wealth and their families are not threatened, they will continue instigating wars around the world.

Now, I'd like to revisit what former general Wesley Clark revealed during a 2007 speech in California -
General Wesley Clark tells of how Middle East destabilization was planned as far back as 1991:
"We are going to attack and destroy the governments in seven countries in five years. We are going to start with Iraq and then we are going to move to Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran... We learned that we can use our militaries in the region, in the Middle East, and the Soviets wont stop us... and we've got about five to ten years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes - Syria, Iran, Iraq - before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us"

Wesley Clark

October 3, 2007
In his speech former general Wesley Clark was raising concerns over what high ranking officials in the Pentagon were planning during the Bush administration - of course without mentioning that similar plans had existed during the Clinton administration, when he served as a high ranking military official and was responsible for the US-led, NATO aggression against Serbia. He spoke those words of criticism as part of a well organized campaign to discredit the embattled Bush administration at the time. The intent of the political campaign in question was to replace the failed Bush administration with one that looked less menacing and less incompetent. Enter the "yes we can", "peace president" Barak Obama.

Barak Obama was the liberal face that was chosen by America's political/financial elite to represent the American empire.

In other words, imperial wars were now to be pursued under the guise of a "liberal", "multiracial" and "peace loving" president. In other words, at a time when tens-of-millions of Americans had begun expressing their opposition to the empire's costly wars around the world, Barak Obama's ascension to power was meant to be a PR stunt, a way to usurp the fledgling anti-war movement in the US and placate the frightened sheeple around the world. After all, even before he assumed his full responsibility as a spokesman for a rabid empire, President Obama was awarded a "peace medal".

As we shall see later in this commentary, there can never be any major differences between the two political clubs representing the empire - and it's by design. 

Interestingly, the same Wesley Clark that was complaining about the Bush administration's aggressive policies was only recently himself warmongering in an Op-Ed piece he authored for the New York Times. His article titled "To Get a Truce, Be Ready to Escalate" can be read on this page. Therefore, I do not want to come across as to be giving any credit to a war criminal like Wesley Clark. Regardless of his lofty rhetoric, he is an unabashed and outspoken servant of the empire. Nevertheless, regardless of the political agenda he was serving, regardless of his self-serving political spin, his revelations about the Pentagon's plan to invade seven Middle Eastern countries in five years revealed to the global audience the American empire's true character and Washington's true agenda. 

For  Western policymakers, silly notions such as freedom, democracy and human rights - or even gay rights - are in fact the last things on their minds.

This is what Western powers are ultimately up to: With the Soviet Union no longer around to keep them in check, they have been taking the window-of-opportunity the past twenty years has provided them to remake the world to their liking - before the next superpower comes along to challenge them, as Wesley Clark stated. Their task is to destroy strategically placed nations that refuse to obey. With Iraq and Libya effectively turned into failed states, the only Middle Eastern entities that refuse to obey are Iran, Syria and Lebanon's Hezbollah. Thus, taking into considering that the Russian Federation and China are fast emerging as global powers, in a certain sense, the political West is in a race against time to reign in Tehran and Damascus.

The past twenty years have shown us that the primary battlegrounds where the West has been attempting to mark its territory are the strategically important regions of the Middle East, Central Asia and the western Pacific rim. These territories are the world's most vital geostrategic focal-points today. Whoever controls these regions will control global commerce and whoever controls global commerce will control global finance. Whoever controls these regions controls the production and/or distribution of energy and whoever controls the flow of energy will be able to gain the dependence of major, energy hungry powers like Europe, China and India. And if energy reserves are dwindling, as the recently proposed theory of peak oil suggests, then all the more the urgency.

With the Soviet Union gone and with the Russian Federation and China still in no position to effectively challenge them, they have been taking the opportunity to secure their global hegemony in the twenty-first century. As prophesied, Iraq, Libya and Syria have finally been turned into blood-soaked war zones. And if Syria is made to suffer Libya's or Iraq's fate, it will soon be Iran's turn. 

Although the Battle for Damascus is far from over, it must be said that the West won big in Libya. But in winning big what the West lost in return was whatever little legitimacy and "moral authority" it was holding on to in the post-Soviet years. And that, in final count, will prove very-very costly for them. With growing numbers of people around the world awakening to the dangers of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance, the once mighty political West, already in a decline, will be on the defensive in the coming decades. 

Remaking the Middle East

The sinister plan to remake the Middle East is actually much older than Wesley Clark's narrative. The following is Oded Yinon Strategy for Israel in the 1980s” as summarized by anti-Zionist political activist, Israel Shahak -
"The plan operates on two essential premises. To survive, Israel must 1) become an imperial regional power, and 2) must effect the division of the whole area into small states by the dissolution of all existing Arab states. Small here will depend on the ethnic or sectarian composition of each state. Consequently, the Zionist hope is that sectarian-based states become Israel’s satellites and, ironically, its source of moral legitimation."
Plans to break the Middle East into smaller, more manageable states is decades old. They were basically emboldened when one of their strategic obstacles, the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. And the more recent calls to smash Syria into smaller pieces could be heard even before the foreign backed Islamic uprising began in Syria two years ago. The following chilling words from a David Hirst was first published in 2010 -
"The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional, localized governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world... The dissolution of Syria, and later Iraq, into districts of ethnic and religious minorities following the example of Lebanon is Israel's main long-rage objective on the Eastern Front. The present military wreaking of these states is the short-range objective. Syria will disintegrate into several states along the lines of its ethnic and sectarian structure... As a result there will be a Shiite Alawi state, the district of Aleppo will be a Sunni state, and the district of Damascus another state which will be hostile to the northern one. The Druze-even those in Golan - should form a state in Huaran and in northern Jordan... The oil rich but very divided and internally strife-ridden Iraq is certainly a candidate to fit Israel's goal... Every kind of inter-Arab confrontation... will hasten the achievement of the supreme goal, namely breaking up Iraq into elements like Syria and Lebanon. There will be there states or more around the three major cities, Basra, Baghdad and Mosul, while Shiite areas in the south will separate from the Sunni north, which is mostly Kurdish...The entire Arabian Peninsula is a natural candidate for (dissolution)... Israel's policy in war or peace should be to bring about the elimination of Jordan..."

Beware of small states, David Hirst, p. 125-126
As the reader can see, their intent has always been to divide and conquer. It is painfully clear that there have been serious, long-term designs on the much troubled region. The architect of this plan are the political/financial elite behind the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance. Therefore, it does not matter what political party the sitting president in the White House belongs to. Regardless of who is allowed, or appointed to be elected president of the United States, the agenda of the American empire is paramount. Whoever finds him or herself in the White House will be tasked to sell this imperial agenda to the public.

No difference between Democrat and Republican

To better understand Washington it is crucially important to recognize that there are no real differences between Democrats and Republicans. We the sheeple should by now know that US presidents have little if any say in policy making. The aggression against Libya and Syria is ample proof that US presidents, regardless of their party affiliations, or race for that matter, do not even influence political policy. Please see the following blog commentary for more insight on the political system of the US -
Two Ring Circus Called the American Presidential Elections:
US presidents are allowed to be elected, and are sometimes more-or-less appointed as in the case of Barak Obama, to represent those that actually do make political and economic policy in the US. The privilege of making national policy in the American empire is reserved for following entities: Military industrial complex, Council on Foreign Relations, mega corporations, Federal Reserve, Wall Street bankers and the Jewish lobby. The American empire's "elected" politicians are nothing but servants of the aforementioned elite.

The US is no longer being run like a republic. Today, the US is a global empire being administered by large corporations, powerful industries, special interests and influential organizations. The American empire has become everything that the founding fathers of the US warned about. Once Americans understand this, once the rest of the world understands this, they will begin understanding why Washington acts like it does and why the US is in a decline. 

As it has been since the dawn of human civilization, the primary intent of any government entity is to project power and secure wealth. Despite what they want us to believe, democratic principles and human rights are not the guiding principals of American officials. Similar to what religion was in earlier times and similar to what Marxism was more recently, "Democracy" is being exploited as a powerful sociopolitical tool. Western officials have cleverly used the notion of Democracy to manipulate and exploit the ignorant masses of the world. 

Despite their horrendously bloody track-record around the world, Western propagandists to this day reminisce about the "horrors" of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. What the Soviets did in Afghanistan was child's play compared to Washington's brutality and corruption in places like Vietnam, Iraq, Serbia, Libya, Venezuela, Guatemala, Cuba, Iran, Syria and of course Afghanistan. The Soviet Union may have been primitive in many respects, but the political West is evil in many ways. It's high time to wake-up and see the political West for what it is. Being stupid during the Cold War was somehow excusable because there seemed to be something more ominous on the other side of the iron curtain. Being stupid today, in this age of information is totally inexcusable!

American "exceptionalism" or imperial hubris?

In recent decades Washington has arrogantly bestowed upon itself a divine calling of sorts. This self-ascribed calling has been described by various prominent Americans as "American exceptionalism". In other words, according to this self-serving mythology conjured-up by American imperialists, the US should be allowed to rule the world simply because it is... special! This exceptional hubris of a specially violent empire may explain why Washington has felt almost an divine obligation to make and/or break nations in recent years. The following comment by Max Boot (a Russian-born Jew who at one time worked for the Christian Science Monitor and the Wall Street Journal and is currently a Senior Fellow at the infamous CFR) explicitly explains, albeit in whitewashed, palatable terms, why the arrogant empire is engaged in wars around the world -
"The US military presence abroad has underwritten the expansion of liberty and freedom and free markets over the course of the last 60 years. It is our Army, our Navy, our Air Force, our Marine Corps which defend liberty around the world and prevent conflicts from breaking out. Their most important role is not even to fight wars; it’s to deter adversaries and prevent aggression from occurring. They have kept the peace, in large part, in places like Europe and Asia which have known nothing but war in the past, and they have allowed for the peaceful expansion of those regions, all of which has been very much to America’s benefit. The defense budget is actually very cheap by comparison with what we get for it. We’re spend now well under 5% of our Gross Domestic Product, roughly half of what we were spending during much of the Cold War. And for that, we basically underwrite global security which allows us to be the most prosperous nation in the world and benefit from this international trade of which we are much a major part."
Max Boot
In other words, the bloodletting around the world is all about money (of course American money); it's all about maintaining a certain lifestyle (naturally the American lifestyle); and it's about keeping levers of global power in one hand (obviously the Anglo-American-Zionist hand).  I'd be the first to admit that I myself have enjoyed the fruits of the empire. However, unlike the zombified masses of Americans who's relatively high standard of living blinds them to the real world they live in, I also recognize that the American empire became the prosperous and advanced global power that it is today as a direct result of genocide, slavery, exploitation, global wars for plunder and the protection its flanking oceans provided it for centuries. North America's geographic isolation during the US's formative years, its vast territory and abundance of wealth found within its boundaries allowed significant numbers of people fleeing from wars around the world to come to the US and live the so-called "America Dream".

This American Dream that so many millions of Americans enjoy today, however, has caused nightmares for hundreds-of-millions of people around the world. Ironically, more often than not, those that were
flocking to the United States in recent decades were people from countries that were devastated by Washington's machinations.
As the empire's political/financial elite pursued their global aspirations in recent decades, numerous nations around the world were broken-up and turned into failed-states and tens-of-millions of lives were ruined.

Nevertheless, as long as the average flag waving Joe in America has a day job, a six-pack of beer at nights, a multitude of sports games to watch on weekends, and one or two big boy's toys to play with... the nightmares of others, including that of millions of Americans barely making a living, will not matter much. Yes, we can in America watch three thousand mind-numbing channels on our large, flat-screen television sets. Yes, we can in America go to any one of the innumerable malls in the country to purchase relatively affordable high-quality goods made by overseas slave labor. Yes, we can in America have the access to top-quality produce picked by peasants from anywhere on earth... I may enjoy these material conveniences just as much as anyone else but my humanity, my humility, my ideological convictions and my intellectual integrity will never allow me to either turn a blind eye or excuse or justify Washington's evil actions around the world. Besides which, as the says goes, the chickens are now coming home to roost. Despite what the special interests owned pundits in the empire want you to believe, the US today is in decline and the American Dream enjoyed by tens-of-millions of Americans is fast turning into an American nightmare. 

Instead of plunging the world into a crisis just so that the empire's zombified masses can feel complacent and the empire's elite can continue maintaining their power and opulent lifestyles, I would much rather Americans tightened their belts and did without all their material pleasures and helped promote living in a world where God, country and family were respected once again.

Moreover, those who imply that the world will somehow descend into a "dark age" without Washington at its head are
pathological narcissists suffering from delusional fantasies of wealth, power and omnipotence. The absurd fantasy that the world will fall apart without America at the top is a self-serving lie that was first put forth by senior British policymakers during the mid-twentieth century when Britain's very existence was hinging on its close relationship with Washington. It is no secret that for the past century Britain has been surviving merely due to its closeness to Washington. Britain's (as well as Israel's) existence today can be described as parasitic in nature.
he only thing that would fall apart if America lost its preponderance in the world is the Anglo-American-Zionist global establishment. And if that qualifies as a dark age, than I pray for the darkest of times.

Ever since the British quietly handed the regins of their empire to the United States during the first half of the twentieth century, the following has more-or-less been the geostrategic motto of the Anglo-American-Zionist policymakers: Keep America in, Russia out and Germany down.

When one gives this formula some serious thought everything that has taken place in the political world during the last century or so will begin making better sense. Nevertheless, unlike Zionist parasites like Max Boot and British officials, I am not blinded by material wealth or a narrow worldview to realize that Washington has become a genuine source of evil around the world in recent decades. Moreover, being a student of history I also realize that sooner-or-later large empires fall, and the larger they are the harder they fall. And due to the peculiar dangers of Globalism, this particular empire's eventual fall may cause the demise of many nations around the world. But it has to fall for the greater good. In fact, the American empire's destruction may be the only way to save the republic of the United States of America.

Exploiting the underfed, underemployed and undereducated

When we put all the global unrest taking place in the world today under a microscope, we will find Washington and friends pulling the strings of most of them. With a full array of powerful levers at their disposal the political West manages the world's control board. The sheeple around the world may be rebelling and protesting for very legitimate reasons, but their sheppards are in one way or another carrying out orders of the Anglo-American-Zionist alliance -
Revolution Engineering: US know-how and 'colourful' technology:
CIA on Facebook&Twitter: Wayne Madsen on info warfare:

NGOs, an extension of US foreign policy:
Assange: Facebook, Google, Yahoo spying tools for US intelligence:
CFR Meeting: Zbigniew Brzezinski Speech (2010): 
Due to various twentieth century geopolitical factors, not the least of which was the rise and fall of National Socialism and Communism, Western powers have been the political, cultural and economic trendsetters in the world. When cultural or economic invasion does not work in securing their hegemony in strategic areas of the world, they resort to inciting political unrest or war.

Keeping certain strategic (i.e. targeted) areas of the world in constant turmoil is one of the ways with which the Western world maintains its edge over the global community. Systematically bringing war to targeted lands overseas is one of the ways they ensure stability and political prosperity at home. After all, when nations not allied or subservient to Western powers try to get up on their feet and they get knocked down every time they try, they will not pose a threat. Their preventative agenda is to use levers of control to keep competitors down.

This preventative, geostrategic agenda of the Western alliance is commencing in full force throughout much of the Middle East, Central Asia, Western Pacific rim, parts of Central and South America and parts of Africa. 

This twenty-first century project to remake certain parts of the world was mostly planned during the 1990s when the Anglo-American-Zionist global order suddenly and quite unexpectedly became 'the' global hyperpower (i.e. at a time when nations such as Russia and China were no where to be seen). And this grandiose plan to for once and for all subdue the world was fully commenced in late 2001 - in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terror attacks against the United States. They either had a hand in what happened on 9/11 or they allowed it to happen. The evidence clearly points to elements within the US government aving a hand in the terror operation. Here is what a former CIA asset charged recently on RT -
Bush and Cheney Knew About 9/11 Months Before It Happened Says Whistleblower Charged Under Patriot Act:
We are truly living in very troubling times. How humanity will come out of this period is anyone's guess. Never before had the global population been this large. Never before had food and energy production been this strained. Never before had so many regions of the world been simultaneously this explosive - militarily, politically and economically. Never before had a single political force held this much global power and influence. The following are comments by Zbigniew Brzezinski, one of the masterminds of the Western alliance -
The Global Political Awakening
For the first time in human history almost all of humanity is politically activated, politically conscious and politically interactive... The resulting global political activism is generating a surge in the quest for personal dignity, cultural respect and economic opportunity in a world painfully scarred by memories of centuries-long alien colonial or imperial domination... The worldwide yearning for human dignity is the central challenge inherent in the phenomenon of global political awakening... That awakening is socially massive and politically radicalizing... The nearly universal access to radio, television and increasingly the Internet is creating a community of shared perceptions and envy that can be galvanized and channeled by demagogic political or religious passions. These energies transcend sovereign borders and pose a challenge both to existing states as well as to the existing global hierarchy, on top of which America still perches... The youth of the Third World are particularly restless and resentful. The demographic revolution they embody is thus a political time-bomb, as well...
Their potential revolutionary spearhead is likely to emerge from among the scores of millions of students concentrated in the often intellectually dubious "tertiary level" educational institutions of developing countries. Depending on the definition of the tertiary educational level, there are currently worldwide between 80 and 130 million "college" students. Typically originating from the socially insecure lower middle class and inflamed by a sense of social outrage, these millions of students are revolutionaries-in-waiting, already semi-mobilized in large congregations, connected by the Internet and pre-positioned for a replay on a larger scale of what transpired years earlier in Mexico City or in Tiananmen Square. Their physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred...
[The] major world powers, new and old, also face a novel reality: while the lethality of their military might is greater than ever, their capacity to impose control over the politically awakened masses of the world is at a historic low. To put it bluntly: in earlier times, it was easier to control one million people than to physically kill one million people; today, it is infinitely easier to kill one million people than to control one million people.
Zbigniew Brzezinski - Former U.S. National Security Advisor; Member of Council on Foreign Relations; Co-Founder of the Trilateral Commission Member, Board of Trustees; Center for Strategic and International Studies  
There you have it: Right from the source. But is anybody listening? A better question would be, does anybody care or understand? Looking at the masses of undereducated, underfed and underemployed around the world, Brzezinski said -  
"[the sheeple's] physical energy and emotional frustration is just waiting to be triggered by a cause, or a faith, or a hatred". 
This brings to mind Rohm Emanuel's well known adage: Never let a crisis go to waste. In other words, using your global levers, always be ready to either incite unrest when need be or simply exploit unrest that may spontaneously arise. This formula naturally applies to political unrest as well as economic unrest. And remember all this when watching unrest - political and/or economic - in places such as Syria, Iran, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Russia and Venezuela. It's also interesting to note here that Western officials like Brzezinski look at their "activists" around the world as coming from "often intellectually dubious tertiary level educational institutions of developing countries". In other words, the army of Armenian "rights advocates", "political activists" and "independent journalists" that are enthusiastically serving Western powers for truth justice and the American way (as well as of course a few dollars via grants), are in reality looked at by their Western masters as nothing more than cannon-fodder... or primitive natives.

During the second half of the twentieth century the Soviet Union was an easy thing to hate and fear. Moscow's threatening posture at the time as well as the prospects of communism coming to a nation nearby helped conceal the true face of the political West. Since the Soviet collapse, however, the humanitarian mask worn by Western powers has come off. The global community is now realizing that Western world are responsible for unspeakable crimes around the world -

The modern version of Bolshevism, the Globalism that is being imposed upon humanity by the Anglo-American Zionist world today is the single most dangerous thing the global community faces.

The global menace

Very similar to what the Vatican had done for centuries with Catholicism, the Western alliance today is using a new form of global religion known as "Democracy" and "Globalism" to either make or break nations around the world. Similar to Christian emperors of the past, Democratic emperors of today are deciding who lives and who dies. As in medieval times, false notions are being spread within human society in order to better manage it... or to simply better exploit it. Which brings me to the now oft asked question: How has the political West become so powerful?

Around the time when the Soviet Union was collapsing in the late 1980s, a high level military official from Washington asked soldiers who were present at a talk he was giving: What is the most powerful weapon in our inventory? One soldier raised his hand and enthusiastically answered: Aircraft carriers! The official said, no... Another soldier raised his hand and confidently answered: Nuclear bombs! The official said, no...  Another soldier thought he had finally found the answer and jumped in to yell: Ballistic missile submarines!!! The general said, no... Another soldier, looking clearly perplexed, raised his hand and answered: The most powerful weapon we have is the... the American soldier? The official once more said no...

When the soldiers had given up the officials went on to answer the question he has posed. The most powerful weapons in our arsenal he said are the following: Hollywood, MTV, Jeans, McDonalds, CNN, US Dollar and the English language. He went on to add: With these we can invade every single nation on earth and the natives will never know they were being invaded. Adding: If they want to speak our language, sing our songs, dance to our music, watch our films, live in our lands, get their information from our sources, learn in our universities and trade with our currency - how can they ever be able to recognize us as their enemy? How can they ever resist us effectively?

In the big picture, we the sheeple are at fault. Like the high level military official from Washington told his troops: If we want to learn their language (i.e. English); if we want to sing their songs; if we want to dance to their music; if we want to watch their films; if we want to dress like them; if we want to eat like them; if we want to trade with their currency; if we seek to get our information from their news sources; if we dream of living in their lands; if we dream of attending their universities; if we dream of working for their institutions; if we enthusiastically want to emulate their political system... then how can we ever think of them as the enemy, and how can we stop their invasion of our lands?!

When cultural invasion does not work, they resort to  financial or economic invasion. When  financial or economic invasion does not work, they resort to military invasion. We have seen this play-out again-and-again for over one hundred years now. Although their financial and military power is immense, their most powerful hold over humanity is essentially a psychological and cultural one.

Our willing submission to anything and everything Western today (Anglo-American in particular) is exactly how they are easily succeeding in invading and subverting targeted nations around the world. For instance, when a Western official visits a developing nation and the natives there fall allover themselves to impress the visiting official, the Western operation in that nation is already mostly a success. 

When Clinton, the Whore of Babylon recently visited Yerevan, she did not need to speak a single word in Armenian, she did not feel the need to ask her friends in Baku to stop killing Armenian soldiers on the border, she did not feel the need to pay her respects at the genocide memorial, she did not feel the need to do or say anything positive or constructive about Armenia... She simply handed out medals to her many active mercenaries in the country. Despite her unholiness's overt and often blatant anti-Armenianism, Armenians bent-over-backwards to kiss her ass.  When we have sheeple around the world willingly and enthusiastically paying to learn English, watching American movies and obtaining Western products, their political agenda is already mostly a success. When we have sheeple around the world willingly and enthusiastically paying to exhibit Western brand names on their clothing or wear clothing emblazoned with US or British flags, their political agenda is already mostly a success. When we have sheeple around the world treating the Western world as a universal standard to which everything has to be compared to, their political agenda is already mostly a success. 

This type of willing/conscious subservience to the Western world by the global sheeple is essentially how and why the political West is so powerful today. And this is why the political West has become a serious global menace. The West has carefully crafted for itself unprecedented control over humanity as a result of the two world wars in the first half of the 20th century and as a result of the rise and fall of the Soviet Union. For the past seventy years, Western officials have been busy creating levers to monopolize the global economy; impose their financial system; impose their trade currency; impose their laws; and control what the global community sees, reads and hears. The unexpected dissolution of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s served to propel Western power and influence to heights never before seen in human history. Consequently, for the past twenty years the Western world has enjoyed an unprecedented financial, economic, cultural and psychological hold over humanity.

With the imposition of their English-language driven new religion known as Globalism (the tenants of which are Anglo-American-Jew worship, democracy, free trade, interracialism, atheism, multiculturalism, feminism, homosexuality, ultra-liberalism) the civilized world, traditional western/European/Christian civilization in particular, is being systematically broken-down and degraded. The imposition of Globalism upon humanity is destroying the traditional family unit; destroying patriotism; destroying ethnic/national/racial identity, destroying apostolic Christianity; and eroding the very foundations of the traditional nation-state.

Let's remember that without God (i.e without religion and moral guidance); without country (i.e. without nationalism and ethnic/racial identity); and without family (i.e. without having an extended genetic support structure to which one belongs to) - man is nothing but a instinct driven animal easily manipulated by those controlling the levers. Similar to how Catholicism was used in the centuries past, Globalism is the modern tool with which the political West conditions and manages the global sheeple and attempts to lead them towards enslavement. A "global citizen", a very Bolshevik-like title today's world's so-called "progressive" sheeple take pride in being, is nothing but a thoroughly enslaved animal at the mercy of the Globalist (i.e. Western) elite.

Humanity will only cure itself of Globalism when evil vermin from Washington, London and Tel Aviv  are barred from entering civilized nations around the world. Humanity will only cure itself when the global commodity exchange is taken away from Anglo-American-Jewish control. Humanity will only begin curing itself when financial levers are taken away from Western control. Humanity will only begin curing itself when the sheeple of this world strives to learn languages other than English. Humanity will only cure itself when American "pop culture" finally gets recognized for what it actually is: primitive, animalistic, subversive and dangerous to the health and well being of human society. But as long as we continue looking up to the political West and adoringly import their cultural elements, we will continue remaining at their mercy. Therefore, as I said, it is precisely our political ignorance and our personal preferences that has turned the political West into the monster that it is today.

Using large numbers of political, financial, cultural and sociological levers that have been under Western control in recent times, false notions about history, governance and ethics are being meticulously spread worldwide. And a great number of the world's brainwashed, hypnotized and zombified masses, including many right within our very own society, are being lured into becoming unsuspecting tools for their imperial wishes. Of course their subversive activities take place under the banners of "democracy", "fighting corruption" and "human rights". It is under these banners that nations have been killed, enslaved or mutilated in recent years. It is under these banners that non-aligned nations around the world have been targeted with sanctions (i.e financial blackmail), political unrest (revolutions) and regime change (invasions). In short, the gradual and sometimes forceful imposition of self-serving Western fairytales is fast turning large areas of the world into a volatile powder keg.

Fighting Western Globalism won't be easy for it permeates every aspect of our lives. But it has a vulnerability. The Western world's survival is dependent on the US dollar's role as the global reserve currency and its control over the commodities exchange. Once these two parameters of global control are somehow taken away from the West it will collapse.

Democracy is not a panacea

"Democracy" or "freedom" has never had much to do with America's rise to power and prosperity. The US was an experiment that worked well primarily because of the following factors: Aggressive, libertarian minded, well organized and very resourceful European settlers (mostly Germanic peoples) found a land that was massive, naturally wealthy, protected by oceans and free for the taking. These settlers then managed to reach economic prosperity through genocide, slavery, exploitation and wars for plunder and influence.

The US was founded by a very intelligent group of people as an elite-based and Masonic system. The US continues to be an elite-based political/financial system. However, the American citizenry has been better managed in recent decades through the provision of bare-essentials (jobs, government assistance), entertainment (television, cinema, sports) and mind control methods in the form of information control (controlled news press and school curriculum). In the Western world, the practice of democracy is tightly controlled by its deeply entrenched elite. The democratic processes in places like the United States or United Kingdom, for instance, won't be allowed to get outside their clearly defined parameters.

Nevertheless, Democracy is not a panacea. Before the leadership of any developing country is capable of allowing their citizenry to participate in nation's political processes in any degree, political system in the country first needs to develop well established national institutions and give birth to political parties that are subservient to them. In their transitional phases, developing nations like Armenia desperately need top heavy governments with powerful, nationalistic leaders. 

Once again, Armenia's most pressing problems are geopolitical in nature. Most of Armenia's most urgent, most pressing problems stem from its geographic location and the prevailing political climate in the south Caucasus. Until this is fixed Armenia will continue suffering from severe political and economic stresses.   The pursuit of Democracy in an underdeveloped land without democratic traditions or without the proper national institutions can be very dangerous. Western officials use the pursuit of Democracy in targeted nations as a method of control, a way of putting pressure on non-aligned governments and as a diversionary tactic (i.e. red herring meant to mislead people). By having our Democracy Now(!) idiots pursue outlandish Western fairytales, they have us in effect chasing our tails. A little dose of Democracy can be beneficial for a society, too much it, however, will have an adverse effect.

Once more: Democracy, as per Western demands is one of the worst, most destructive forms of government devised by man. Capitalism, as practiced by the Anglo-American-Zionist world is the worst form of economy in existence. The US Dollar is nothing but a virtual reality kept alive by American wars around the world. Tying a nation's fate to the Anglo-American-Zionist global order is suicidal in the long term.

Why we (Armenians in particular) need the Russian Bear

Russia today has proven to be the last front in the world against Anglo-American imperialism, Zionism, Globalism, Islamic expansionism and pan-Turkism. Russia's presence today as an independent superpower projecting its national interests upon the global stage is ensuring the survival of western civilization, apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state.
Syria has vividly shown us the great importance of Russian Bear on the global arena.  

Recent developments in the Middle East should again be reminding us Armenians of the cruel and unforgiving nature of the region in which Armenia is unfortunately located. We should be reminded that the obsessive pursuit of "democracy" in Armenia as per Western demands is a dangerous red-herring for there are much more important tasks that our underdeveloped and inexperienced nation needs to take on before it can afford to play around with such nonsense.

I reiterate: While Armenia's military is its tactical advantage on the battlefield, Armenia's alliance with the Russian Federation must be utilized as its strategic advantage on the global chessboard. 

Armenian lobbyists, politicians, businessmen and military leaders must therefore be a constant presence within the walls of the Kremlin. Recent years have clearly shown us that Yerevan's alliance with the Russian Bear is Armenia's number one security guarantee. Without a strong Russian presence in Armenia there won't be an Armenia in the south Caucasus. Recent years should also have shown us that Western institutions are a grave threat for underdeveloped and vulnerable nations such as Armenia. While Western officials keep our Democracy Now(!) idiots preoccupied with things like gay rights, civil society and free elections, keeping Armenia politically isolated and economically stagnant is their ultimate aim. Therefore, it would be wise to look past the lofty rhetoric of Washingtonian whores such as Raffi Hovannisian and assess their actions in Armenia within the following geostrategic context -
The ultimate goal of high level Western officials continues to be either the strangling of Armenia (through their NATO blockade) or its severing from Russia (through their political activists in Armenia). Thus, it could be said that the West's ultimate intention is to either destroy Armenia or place it under the mercy of their Turkic and Islamic allies. After all, the primary reason why they are in the south Caucasus to begin with is to push Russia out of the region so that Western economic/energy interests can exploit Central Asian gas and oil without Moscow's meddling. The West realizes that without Russia in the Caucasus, the very strategic region in question will be their playground. However, we Armenians need to be sober enough to realize that without a Russian presence in Armenia, there won't be an Armenian presence in the south Caucasus.

Although we have countless idiots in Armenia and in the Diaspora that think we are living in an enlightened age where the "rule of international law" and "human rights" are respected, the fact is that Western powers, as well as the entire world, is still very much governed by the old adage of - might makes right. Let's never forget that "international law" is made by the powerful to control the weak. Therefore, in this dog-eat-dog world, we Armenians need to be very grateful that we have a very powerful regional ally like the Russian Federation. We must be very grateful that a superpower is sincerely interested in Armenia's survival as a nation-state in a very hostile and unforgiving environment. This is what I mean -

"Armenia is more important to [Russia] than Israel is to the Americans"

These powerful words are not mine, they are said to be the words of Alexsei Arbatov, a high level Russian official. The comment was taken from a book called - "Power Games in the Caucasus: Azerbaijan's Foreign and Energy Policy towards the West, Russia and the Middle East". The following is the full quote - 
Regardless of what weapons Russians sell to whom, what Alexsei Arbatov outlined above is more-or-less the prevailing political culture in Moscow. We Armenians need to be farsighted enough, smart enough to begin exploiting this. This is the kind of lobbying we Armenians should all be pursuing as obsessively as we pursue Armenian Genocide recognition in the US. We need to be cultivating deeper Russian-Armenian relations. We need to be laying the foundations of a permanent Armenian presence within the highest offices of the Kremlin - because while Armenia's military may be its tactical advantage when it comes to protecting Armenia from its enemies, we must make Armenia's presence within the walls of the Kremlin its strategic advantage. We should not be giving any of Washington's whores a political platform to spew their dangerous agendas. We should not allow modern slave-masters such as the IMF or the USAID any foothold inside Armenia. And we should not be fooling ourselves into thinking that the EU is a panacea for Armenia or that it is coming to the Caucasus.

Arbatov's statements also gives some official credibility to my claims that we Armenians can be in Russia what Jews are in America. Therefore, instead of sitting back and admiring Jews, how about we start acting like them?

At the end of the day, what it all boils down to is this: Any Armenian today that disseminated Russophobia or wants to see Armenian ties to Russia curtailed is ultimately a traitor to the Armenian state (regardless of his or her motivation).
What's more, Russia is immeasurably more important to Armenia's survival in the south Caucasus than the Armenian Diaspora; and lobbying in Moscow for Armenian interests is incalculably more important than pursuing Armenian Genocide recognition in the Western world. While these words may be hard pills for many Armenians to swallow, digesting these hard realizations will no doubt help the Armenian state in the long run.

After our nationalist nutjobs, Captain Americas, Cold War relics and Russophobes are done talking their bullshit, the fact remains that a Russian presence in the south Caucasus has been the fundamental historic reason why we have an Armenia today to begin with. What I'm trying to say is this: Had Ivan not come down to the south Caucasus some two hundred years ago, our Russophobes would still be herding goats or making donkey saddles in the mountains of eastern Turkey or Iran. 

Allow me to put this in an another way to help the reader better understand: Imagine the south Caucasus as a political/economic table where Turks, Azeris, Persians, Georgians, Islamists, Armenians, Western energy interests and Russians sit. Now imagine this table effectively without its Russian occupant. In another words, imagine the region without a powerful Russia. Now imagine what clout or leverage our tiny, impoverished, remote, landlocked, inexperienced, embattled and blockaded homeland will have at that table. Make sense? This is in essence what our Captain Americas and nationalist idiots are seeking today. Again: No Russia in the Caucasus means no Armenia in the Caucasus.

We can never lose sight of the fact that Russia is the alpha and the omega of Caucasian politics. We Armenians need to learn to navigate the very turbulent waters of the Caucasus accepting this geopolitical reality. For the foreseeable future (i.e. for as long as the region retains its powerful Turkic and Islamic presence), Armenia will remain under Russia's protective umbrella. For better and sometimes for worst, Armenia is wed to Russia. Recognizing this, embracing this and exploiting this geopolitical reality will help us Armenians go a very long way in the twenty-first century. We need to put aside our self-serving interests, political ignorance and emotional handicaps and for once recognize that Russia is a historic opportunity we Armenians need to collectively wake-up to and take advantage of.

July, 2013


Debka: Russia evacuates Tartus, also military, diplomatic personnel from Syria. High war alert in Israel

Shortly after the DEBKA aired a special video on the Syrian war’s widening circle, Moscow announced Wednesday June 26, that the evacuation which had begun Friday of all military and diplomatic personnel from Syria was now complete, including the Russian naval base at Tartus.

“Russia decided to withdraw its personnel because of the risks from the conflict in Syria, as well as the fear of an incident involving the Russian military that could have larger consequences,” said a defense ministry official in Moscow. He stressed that a 16-ship naval task force in the eastern Mediterranean remains on post and arms shipments, including anti-air weapons, would continue to the Syrian government in keeping with former contracts.

In another sign of an impending escalation in Syria, the Israeli Golan brigade staged Wednesday an unannounced war maneuver on the Golan, attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and top army chiefs. In London, Prime Minister David Cameron called the government’s National Security Council into session in Downing Street on Syria. Opposition leader Ed Milliband was invited to attend the meeting, a custom observed only when issues of the highest security importance are discussed.

Earlier Wednesday, debkafile carried the following report in its special video presentation under the heading: Putin and Obama cross swords on Syrian. What Next?

The sullen confrontation between Presidents Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama at the G8 Summit in Northern Ireland last week condemned Syria to five months of escalating, unresolved vicious warfare – that is until the two leaders meet again in September. For now, tempers are heating up between Washington and Moscow on Syria and other things too, notably the elusive American fugitive Edward Snowden. US and Israeli intelligence watchers see the Syrian crisis entering seven ominous phases:

1. A five-month bloodbath centering on the battle for Aleppo, a city of 2.2 million inhabitants. The Syrian army plus allies and the fully-mobilized opposition will hurl all their manpower and weapons into winning the city. Military experts don’t expect the rebels to hold out against Assad’s forces beyond late August.

2.  Neither side has enough manpower or game-changing weaponry for winning the war outright. That is, unless Presidents Obama or Putin steps in to retilt the balance.

3. The US and Russia are poised for more military intervention in the conflict up until a point just short of a military clash on Syrian soil – or elsewhere in the Middle East. US intelligence analysts have judged Putin ready to go all the way on Syria against the US - no holds barred. The Russian president is meanwhile deliberately goading Washington and raising temperatures by playing hide-and-seek over the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, charged with espionage for stealing and leaking classified intelligence. At home, he is considered variously as a traitor and a brave whistleblower. For several hours Snowden vanished between Hong Kong and Moscow – until the Russian president admitted he was holed up in the transit area of Moscow airport and would not be extradited by Russia to the United States.

4.  Iran, Hizballah and Iraq will likewise ratchet up their battlefield presence.

5. A violent encounter is building up between Middle East Shiites flocking to Syria to save the Assad regime alongside Russia, and the US-backed Sunni-dominated rebel forces. It could scuttle the secret US-Iranian negotiating track on its nuclear program, which was buoyed up by the election of the pragmatic Hassan Rouhani as President of Iran.

6.  The Geneva-2 Conference for a political solution for the Syrian crisis is dead in the water. Moscow and the US are divided by unbridgeable issues of principle, such whether Bashar Assad should stay or go and Iranian representation. 

7.  So long as the diplomatic remains stuck in the mud, the prospects of a regional war spreading out of the Syrian conflict are rising. Iran, Israel, Jordan and Lebanon may be dragged in at any moment – if they have not already, like Lebanon. A small mistake by one of the Syrian warring parties in Syria could, for example, touch off Israeli retaliation and a wholesale spillover of violence.


Christian Science Monitor: Now that Russian ships can stop in Cyprus, having personnel in Syria isn't worth the risk

In a surprise move, Russia has pulled all its military and nondiplomatic civilian personnel out of Syria. That includes a complete evacuation of the naval supply station in the Mediterranean port of Tartus, which is often discussed as one of Russia's key reasons for its long and stubborn support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

"We have neither servicemen nor civilians in Syria anymore. Or Russian military instructors assigned to units of the Syrian regular Army, for that matter," a Russian defense ministry spokesperson is quoted as telling the Moscow business daily Vedomosti yesterday. 

The Tartus naval supply station, Russia's only military base outside the former USSR, has been effectively closed, Russian deputy foreign minister and special Middle East envoy Mikhail Bogdanov confirmed in an interview with a Turkish newspaper. He insisted that the base, which housed about 70 fulltime military technicians to service visiting Russian warships, was of no strategic importance to Russia. 

"It's just a technical facility for maintaining ships sailing in the Mediterranean," he said. 

That answer seems a trifle inadequate. The obvious question is: Why abandon Tartus now, given that the Russian naval presence in the Mediterranean has never been so large? Earlier this month Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Russia will maintain a permanent naval flotilla in the region for the first time since the collapse of the USSR more than 20 years ago. "This is a strategically important region and we have tasks to carry out there to provide for the national security of the Russian Federation," he said. 

The Russian Navy has been holding almost nonstop maneuvers in the eastern Mediterranean for more than a year, and currently has a 16-warship task force in the area. "The first and likeliest reason for the closure is that Russia doesn't want to risk the lives of 70 military personnel stationed at Tartus," says Vladimir Sotnikov, expert with the official Institute of Oriental Studies in Moscow. 

"Now that the battlefield initiative in Syria's civil war is in the hands of the Assad regime, Russia might fear some [rebel] provocations against our people. Another possible reason may be to help promote the Geneva-2 talks. We have information that Russia, the United Nations and the US have agreed to a format for the talks. So, perhaps Russia wants to dispel impression that its position is based on some desire to hold on to this station," Mr. Sotnikov says. 

"In any case, Russian ships have the opportunity to go to Cyprus for supplies and maintenance, and it's safer for them to do so right now," he adds. 

Russia has also been steadily evacuating the estimated 30,000 Russian citizens living in Syria since early this year, and yesterday the Ministry of Emergency Services reported that it had extracted another 130 Russians from Latakia in northwest Syria and flown them back to Russia.  Other Russian analysts agree that, whatever the reasons for Russia's personnel pullout, it probably doesn't signal any change of the hard, pro-Assad position that Mr. Putin most recently reiterated at last week's G8 summit in Northern Ireland. 

"Russia's position hasn't changed. In fact it's getting tougher," says Sergei Strokan, a foreign affairs columnist with the pro-business Moscow daily Kommersant. 

"The reasons behind this evacuation probably come down to security. That base's importance has been greatly overrated in Western reporting. It just isn't that big a deal. So, I guess the thinking is, why risk some major incident that the rebels might stage by attacking Russians at this sensitive moment when all the hopes are pinned on a new Geneva peace conference?"


RT: Russian Defense Ministry refutes reports of Syria evacuation

Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a press release that civilian contractors continue to work at the Tartus navy base and blasted media reports about total evacuation as “extremely incorrect.”

The Russian Defense Ministry really has no military servicemen at the navy base in the Syrian port of Tartus, because the base is being serviced only by Russian civilian personnel” reads the statement distributed by the ministry’s press service on Thursday.

The personnel are working according to the everyday schedule. We cannot talk about any evacuation from Tartus in this case. Tartus remains the official base and repair facility for Russian ships in the Mediterranean Sea and it continues to execute its tasks in line with its purpose,” the statement reads.

The press service stressed that earlier media statements about personnel withdrawal from Tartus were presented “extremely incorrectly from the real situation’s point of view.”

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also refuted the evacuation reports at a press conference on Friday. “The evacuation of this base is out of question as well as the evacuation of its personnel,” the minister said. Lavrov also blasted the reports that Russia had closed its embassy in Damascus as a provocation claiming that the embassy was working in an everyday mode, despite complicated conditions.

The report about the total evacuation of Russian personnel, both military and civilian from the Syrian port of Tartus was distributed by the Russian business daily Vedomosti with reference to an unnamed source in the Defense Ministry. Vedomosti’s source commented on an earlier statement made by Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov, who told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that, “Presently, the Russian Defense Ministry has not a single person stationed in Syria.”

Russia currently has a 16-ship flotilla in the Mediterranean Sea, but none of them has called at the port of Tartus in recent months and there were no reports of such plans. The ships were deployed to the region to fight terrorism and piracy.

The Russian Emergencies Ministry is also continuing the evacuation of civilians from Syria – its planes are taking out citizens of Russia and other ex-Soviet states, such as Ukraine. One hundred and twenty-eight people, mostly women and children, arrived in Moscow by a special flight on Tuesday night, the ministry reported. The total number of people evacuated by the Emergencies Ministry from Syria since the beginning of the year is about 600. 


Russia and Iran To Hold Naval Drill in Caspian Sea

Russia and Iran's navies plan to hold a joint exercise in the Caspian Sea the Russian-based RIA Novosti reported on Friday, citing a Russian military commander. Nikolai Yakubovsky, deputy commander of Russia’s Caspian Flotilla, said the two countries intended to hold a joint naval exercise in the second half of 2013.

He made the announcement during meetings with Iranian commanders who were visiting the port of Astrakhan on the Caspian Sea. Iranian media reported that “Iran has dispatched two indigenously-built missile-launching warships to Astrakhan,” likely referring to Sina Class missile boats or one possibly one of Iran’s two Moudge class frigates, which is reportedly stationed in the Caspian Sea.

The Sina Class missile boats are replicas of the La Combattante IIa fast attack ships that Iran has been operating under the name Kaman Class since before the revolution. Two of the Kaman Class ships were sunk during the 1980s; one by Iraq and one by the United States. The Sina Class ships are reportedly equipped with Chinese-802 anti-ship missiles and employ fire control radar.

Earlier in the week, the Iranian Navy’s deputy commander for operations, Admiral Siavash Jareh, said of the port call: “Given that the Caspian Sea is known as a sea of peace and tranquility, conveying the message of peace and friendship to countries bordering this sea, particularly the country of Russia, and displaying the naval might of the Navy and increasing the knowledge and experience of its young members are other purposes of the dispatch of the fleet of warships to Russia.”

The current port call follows two previous ones Russian warships made to the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas along the Persian Gulf. The first one took place in December of last year and reportedly included the Marshal Shaposhnikov, a Russian Udaloy-class destroyer. Then, in April, three Russian ships from the Pacific Fleet docked in Bandar Abbas Port while en route to the Mediterranean Sea. This second flotilla reportedly consisted of Russia’s Admiral Panteleyev destroyer and two transport ships. Iran and Russia also held a joint naval drill in the Caspian Sea back in 2009.

However, Iran and Russia have often been at odds over the Caspian Sea in the past. Indeed, a year ago the Russian government took steps to block Iranian companies from buying a 25 percent stake in the Astrakhan Port the Iranian warships docked at last week. They did so by using UN Security Council sanctions enacted against Iran to impede progress on its nuclear program, which the West believes is aimed at a nuclear weapon, a charge Iranian officials deny.

“We know that these companies, through a certain chain, are under the direct control of the government or structures close to the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran,” a Russian official said at the time, adding “Ports are strategic assets.”

The port calls and forthcoming exercise highlight the closer alignment between Russia and Iran that has largely come about as a result of the situation in Syria.

The Financial Times reported last week that Iran, Russia, and China are propping up the Bashar al-Assad regime through a number of measures, including allowing al-Assad to conduct all his business using their three currencies. One of the Syrian leader’s deputy prime ministers told the newspaper that in order to help the regime evade international sanctions, the three countries are also supplying US$500 million a month in oil and extending credit lines to Damascus.


Wesley Clark: To Get a Truce, Be Ready to Escalate

Following the Obama administration’s conclusion last week that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces have used chemical weapons, the talk in Washington is all about military assistance to Syria’s rebels. That aid is necessary, but observers have overlooked a crucial point: the American decision to give rebels lethal aid, though it might eventually contribute to the overthrow of Mr. Assad, opens an opportunity for concerted diplomacy to end the bloodshed.

President Obama’s decision to supply small arms and ammunition to the rebels is a step, possibly just the first, toward direct American intervention. It raises risks for all parties, and especially for Mr. Assad, who knows that he cannot prevail, even with Russian and Iranian military aid, if the United States becomes fully engaged. We used a similar strategy against the Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic in Kosovo in 1999, where I commanded American forces, and showed that NATO had the resolve to escalate. With a brutal dictator like Mr. Assad, only the knowledge that he cannot prevail will force him to negotiate an exit.

Mr. Obama has sought a diplomatic solution for some time, but has been reluctant to take steps that might lead to military intervention. Rightly so. No one wants more death and disruption in the Middle East, nor another open-ended military commitment — and certainly not the Pentagon. Despite the humanitarian tragedy in Syria, most of the conditions that have allowed previous interventions to succeed are absent. Legal authorization from the United Nations is unlikely, given opposition from Russia and China. Syria’s rebels are fragmented politically and militarily; some are religious extremists with professed ties to Al Qaeda.

What would follow Mr. Assad’s departure is unclear, which is why he has managed to retain support from Shiites and other minorities, besides his own Alawite sect, who fear the consequences of a Sunni-led takeover. Iranian agents, along with their allies from Hezbollah, are involved, as are the Russians, who have a naval port at Tartus.

But inaction is not an option. The bloodletting — more than 90,000 are estimated to have died so far — has deepened the region’s longstanding Shiite-Sunni struggle. It has become a proxy war, with Sunni Arab states backed by the West, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, challenging Iran’s reach to the Mediterranean via a proxy, Hezbollah, and Syria.

The risk of going beyond lethal aid to establishing a no-fly zone to keep Mr. Assad’s planes grounded or safe zones to protect refugees — options under consideration in Washington — is that we would find it hard to pull back if our side began losing. Given the rebels’ major recent setbacks, can we rule out using air power or sending in ground troops?

Yet the sum total of risks — higher oil prices, a widening war — also provide Syria (and its patrons, Iran and Russia) a motive to negotiate. If Mr. Obama can convince Iran that he is serious, and is ready to back up his new promise of aid with additional forces, Iran and Russia will know the risks: Mr. Assad could lose his regime, and most likely his life. Higher oil prices would cost China, which has blocked anti-Syrian initiatives at the United Nations, dearly.

In 1999 in Kosovo, the West used force as leverage for diplomacy. There, a limited NATO air campaign began after diplomatic talks failed to halt Serbian ethnic cleansing. The bombing lasted 72 days, and plans for a ground invasion of Serbia were under way when Mr. Milosevic finally bowed to the inevitable.

Of course, the Middle East is not the Balkans, the Russian government is more confident now than it was then, and Americans are tired after a decade of war. But there are similarities: The Kosovars, too, bickered among themselves, and some were said to be terrorists. The Russians backed Serbia — and at one point suggested that their naval fleet in the Black Sea would intervene. Like Mr. Assad, Mr. Milosevic was rational and calculating — he, too, wanted to survive.

Mr. Assad knows that Mr. Obama can be surprisingly resolute, as in his approval of drone strikes and the military operation to kill Osama bin Laden. While the United States begins to supply the rebels, there is a crucial opening for talks. Russia or China could recalculate and help lead Syria to a real peace process, as Viktor S. Chernomyrdin, a former Russian prime minister, did in Kosovo in 1999. Iran could emerge from a truce with Hezbollah’s power in Lebanon (and its strong links to Iran) intact.

The formula for diplomacy is clear: a cease-fire agreement; a United Nations presence; departure of foreign fighters; disarmament of Syrian fighters; international supervision of Syria’s military; a peaceful exit for Mr. Assad, his family and key supporters; a transitional government; and plans for a new Syria.

The conflict, and the diplomacy needed to end it, are likely to play out simultaneously. All parties will be recalculating their options and risks, so any assurance Mr. Obama gives Americans that he will limit our engagement would reduce the chances of success. This is a nerve-racking time, but the consequences of inaction are too high. Working together, America, Russia and China can halt Syria’s agony and the slide toward wider conflict. Mr. Obama’s decision might be the catalyst to get that done.


Pentagon Shoots Down Kerry’s Syria Airstrike Plan

Twenty years ago, in a debate over the war in Bosnia, Madeleine Albright, then the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, issued a challenge to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Colin Powell. Albright wanted the U.S. to confront an aggressive Serbia; Powell and the Pentagon were hesitant. Albright grew frustrated: “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” Albright asked. Powell later said that he thought Albright was going to give him an aneurysm.

Flash-forward to this past Wednesday. At a principals meeting in the White House situation room, Secretary of State John Kerry began arguing, vociferously, for immediate U.S. airstrikes against airfields under the control of Bashar al-Assad’s Syrian regime -- specifically, those fields it has used to launch chemical weapons raids against rebel forces.

It was at this point that the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the usually mild-mannered Army General Martin Dempsey, spoke up, loudly. According to several sources, Dempsey threw a series of brushback pitches at Kerry, demanding to know just exactly what the post-strike plan would be and pointing out that the State Department didn’t fully grasp the complexity of such an operation.

Dempsey informed Kerry that the Air Force could not simply drop a few bombs, or fire a few missiles, at targets inside Syria: To be safe, the U.S. would have to neutralize Syria’s integrated air-defense system, an operation that would require 700 or more sorties. At a time when the U.S. military is exhausted, and when sequestration is ripping into the Pentagon budget, Dempsey is said to have argued that a demand by the State Department for precipitous military action in a murky civil war wasn’t welcome.

Military Wariness

Officials with knowledge of the meeting say that Kerry gave as good as he got, and that the discussion didn’t reach aneurysm-producing levels. But it was, in diplomatic parlance, a full and frank vetting of the profound differences between State and Defense on Syria. Dempsey was adamant: Without much of an entrance strategy, without anything resembling an exit strategy, and without even a clear-eyed understanding of the consequences of an American airstrike, the Pentagon would be extremely reluctant to get behind Kerry’s plan.

As we know now, the Pentagon’s position is in sync with President Barack Obama’s. The outcome of the meeting last week was to formalize a decision made weeks ago to supply the more moderate elements of the Syrian opposition with small arms and ammunition. The assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies that Assad had used chemical weapons against small pockets of rebels -- confirming those made several months earlier by the intelligence agencies of U.S. friends in Europe and the Middle East -- forced the administration to make a gesture of support for the opposition.

Members of the White House national security team, who tend to be more hawkish than Obama or Dempsey (though not as quite as militant as Kerry), had been arguing that, in the words of Tony Blinken, the deputy national security adviser, “superpowers don’t bluff.” Once Obama had drawn a red line around chemical weapons, the White House had no choice but to take some sort of action.

Blinken was clever to use the word “bluff” in his arguments to the president, implicitly linking his posture on Syria to his position on Iran’s nuclear program. Last year, in an interview with me on the subject of Iran, Obama said, “As president of the United States, I don’t bluff.” On Iran, he has lived up to his words, but he was in danger -- and remains in danger -- of being seen as a bluffer on Syria.

No Bluffing

What is so odd about Dempsey’s adamant opposition to Kerry’s aggressive proposals is that it hasn’t previously been made public. Obama told Charlie Rose this week that he is worried about sliding down the slippery slope toward greater intervention in Syria. Having Dempsey openly in his corner would be useful to him, but the administration hasn’t made hay over the Pentagon’s opposition to airstrikes. (When I asked the Pentagon for official comment, Dempsey’s spokesman would only say that he would not “discuss classified internal deliberations,” though he went on to say that the National Security Council principals “routinely debate a wide range of options to include how the military can and should support a comprehensive, regional approach to this conflict.”)

One senior administration official explained it this way: The White House doesn’t want Dempsey to make an enthusiastic case on “Meet the Press” against intervention, just in case Obama one day decides to follow Kerry’s advice and get more deeply involved. At that point, Dempsey's arguments against greater involvement could come back to haunt the administration.

The decision to provide small arms to the Syrian opposition has made no one happy -- not the rebels, who understand that these quite-possibly ineffective weapons will take many months to reach them; not Kerry, who, while arguing that these shipments may become a “force multiplier” in the conflict, thinks that only a show of American air power will convince Assad and his Hezbollah allies that the U.S. is making a serious attempt to level a playing field that has been tilting their way for some time; and not the Pentagon, which thinks that Obama, despite saying that he is wary of the slippery slope, might be pushed down that slope anyway, by interventionists on his team or by events on the ground.

It is possible, even for those of us who have been inclined toward intervention, to have a great deal of sympathy for Dempsey’s position. There are those in the Pentagon who think that the State Department has romanticized the Syrian opposition. What diplomats see as a civil war featuring bands of poorly armed moderates struggling to free themselves from the grip of an evil dictator, the generals see as a religious war between Hezbollah and al-Qaeda. Why would the U.S. risk taking sides in a battle between two loathed terror organizations? Memories of Iraq, too, are fresh in the minds of Dempsey and his colleagues.

On the other hand, a Kerry partisan told me, U.S. intervention in Syria would not necessarily have to look like U.S. intervention in Iraq. When I mentioned the Albright-Powell exchange of 20 years ago, he pointed out something obvious: President Bill Clinton eventually decided to use air power in the Balkans. And it brought the Serbian government to its knees.


Saudi Arabia, France agree Qusayr scenario can’t be repeated in Aleppo


France and Saudi Arabia agreed during a meeting in Paris that the Hezbollah-backed Syrian troops, which defeated the rebels in the strategic town of Qusayr, should not be allowed to repeat the same scenario in province of Aleppo, Al Arabiya correspondent reported Tuesday. The two countries expressed their stance after Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, and the kingdom’s intelligence head, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, met with French officials.

While both countries established the need for international measures to help stave off a repeat of the Qusayr battle, France said an international consensus is required before any military operation can take place. After their talks, France noted that the Syrian conflict reached a “turning point” after the Syrian regime declared victory against opposition fighters in Qusayr. France’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Philippe Lalliot said weakening the rebels will make it more difficult to bring them to the negotiating table with representatives from Assad’s government, according to Reuters.

Russia and the United States plan to hold the ‘Geneva 2’ conference, which could take place from June 15-16. It will bring Syrian regime and opposition officials together for dialogue.

“With the fall of Qusayr, we are seeing a dramatic development,” Reuters reported him as saying. “It’s even more worrying given that Aleppo is being announced as the next target of the regime and its allies … We are at a turning point in the Syrian war.”

Opposition media on Tuesday reported clashes between the Free Syrian Army and Syrian regime troops backed by Hezbollah in Aleppo. Fighters from Hezbollah — supported by Iran — publicly led a 17-day assault on Qusayr. Soon after the fall of Qusayr, George Sabra acting head of the opposition main group, Syrian National Council, sounded the alarm over what he described as the “Iranian invasion” on Syria. Sabra urged the Arab League and West to act and get rid Syria of the “invaders.” The Syrian regime has received backing from Hezbollah as well as Iran.

“There are consequences to be drawn from what happened in Qusayr and what’s happening in Aleppo. The first consequence is to strengthen the ties with the coalition, and the question we’re asked is whether to go one step further and deliver weapons,” Lalliot said. The lifting of a European Union embargo on arms deliveries to Syria, and rapid changes on the battlefield, meant that “talks and thinking” were now needed on the issue, he added.“We cannot leave the opposition in the situation in which it finds itself.”

Having an international consensus to agree on a military solution has long been hard with some observers calling it almost “impossible.” Both China and Russia have vetoed off UN Security Council resolutions deemed as against the Syrian government. While President Vladimir Putin signaled some change on Tuesday regarding Russia stance on Syria, he also expressed suspicion of Western countries trying to promote democracy in the region.

Putin said that Assad could have avoided the conflict in Syria by implementing reforms demanded by his people. “The country was ripe for serious changes, and the leadership should’ve felt that in time and started making changes. Then what’s happening wouldn’t have happened,” Putin told English-language state TV Russia Today.

However, he also blamed “certain people from outside” – in reference to the Western countries –who “think that if you shape the whole region under the same style, which some people like and some call democracy, then there will be peace and order. That isn’t so at all.”

Russia was not acting as an advocate for Assad, he added. Moscow has constantly criticized the West for showing support to the opposition and fears it will start aiding the Syrian rebels with lethal weapons. On Monday, a US official told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the White House is considering arming the Syrian rebels and a decision will materialize this week.

Russian political expert: Vladimir Putin prevented Damascus's seizure planned for Dec 2012

President of Russia Vladimir Putin held Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan from a military operation against Syria, Russian political expert, Professor Igor Panarin told ArmInfo. He said that the latest anti-governmental manifestations in Istanbul and other big Turkish cities were organized by external forces that were displeased with Erdogan's refusal to war against Bashar Assad.

"Actually, Damacus's seizure was planned for December 2012 with Erdogan to have had the key role in it. However, negotiations were held between Putin and Erdogan at the given period of time and I think Turkey certainly changed its stance after those negotiations. I'd like to see the reasonability reigning in the Turkish elite in order the latter refrains from participating in the anti-Syrian plots," the politician said.

Panarin shares the view that one of the targets for the Turkish mercenaries warring on the side of the Syrian terrorists, the so-called armed opposition, is the Armenian community, the successors of the Armenians that survived the Armenian Genocide in Ottoman Turkey in early 20th century. "I think it is a delicate global game. The Islamic extremists are killing first of all the Christian population, both the Catholics, who number nearly 2 million people in Syria, and Armenians," he said.


Iran to ‘deploy 4,000-strong force’ to Syria as US military set to stay in Jordan

Iran will deploy 4,000 Revolutionary Guards to Syria to bolster Damascus against a mostly Sunni-led insurgency, media reported. Meanwhile, US F-16s and Patriots will stay in Jordan – speculatively, to help establish a no-fly zone to aid Syrian rebels. The deployment of the first several-thousand strong military contingent was reported by The Independent on Sunday who quoted Iranian sources tied to the state’s security apparatus. The sources said the move signals Iran’s intention to drastically step up its efforts to preserve the government of President Bashar Assad.

The Islamic Republic’s heightened military commitment could reportedly extend to the opening up of a new “Syrian” front on the Golan Heights against Israel. Golan Heights have recently become a source of new instability with increasing cross-border fire and Austria withdrawing its peacekeepers from the buffer area after a checking point became the spot of military dispute between and Assad's and opposition's forces. This stirred concern in the UN with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warning the fragile state of no-war between Tel-Aviv and Damascus is at risk.

“The ongoing military activities in the [Golan] area of separation continue to have the potential to escalate tensions between Israel and the Syrian Arab Republic and to jeopardize the cease-fire between the two countries,” Ban Ki-moon said in a June 13 statement.

Journalists have frequently asked Assad whether he plans to open a resistance front at Golans. The option discussion was brought back to the table after every air strike on the Syrian territory pinned on Israel. Tel-Aviv always stopped short of confirming the strikes but hinted that it would do “whatever it takes” to stop arms supplies to Lebanon’s Hezbollah even if convoys are found going through Syria. The strikes resonated across the world – and back in February Saeed Jalili, head of Iran’s National Security Council, warned Israel would “regret” them.
…vs. US troops in Jordan

Reports of Iran’s decision to get directly involved in the Syrian conflict come just days after Israel’s ally, the US, chose to reverse its policy of not providing lethal aid to rebel fighters. The argument the Obama Administration used was that Damascus had crossed a red line by deploying chemical weapons against opposition forces on four separate occasions. Washington’s policy shift has quickly materialized on multiple fronts, some of them also in the press.

On Saturday, the Pentagon announced a detachment of F-16s and US Patriot anti-aircraft missile systems dispatched to Jordan for the ongoing joint Eager Lion military exercise will remain in the country once the training drills conclude. The same day, The Washington Post reported that clandestine bases in Jordan and Turkey would serve as conduits for arms being delivered to the rebel fighters.

US military support will thus far be limited to light arms and other munitions, although Washington’s shifting calculus has potentially given a green light to regional Sunni allies to provide anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons to the Assad opposition.
Just one day before the Pentagon announced its intention to leave Patriot missiles and F-16s in Jordan, senior Western diplomats in Turkey announced Washington was mulling the establishment of a no-fly zone, “possibly near the Jordanian border." Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned that any attempt to impose such a zone would be in clear violation of international law.

Syria vortex: Saudi Arabia, Al-Nusra, Hezbollah

The US, Israel and Iran are not the only actors to have “activated” recently. On Sunday, the German daily Der Spiegel, citing the German foreign intelligence service, said Saudi Arabia is looking to provide European-made Mistral-class MANPADS – man-portable air-defense systems – to the Syrian opposition. Notably, on Tuesday, Saudi Arabia condemned the role of another party to the conflict – Hezbollah – announcing that measures would be taken against those loyal to the group who lived in Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.

Hezbollah, the Shia Islamist militant group based out of Lebanon, played an integral part in the recapture of the strategic city of Qusayr last week. Damascus announced its intentions to use the Qusayr victory as a stepping stone to retaking large swaths of the northern city of Aleppo and surrounding provinces. Some 2,000 of Hezbollah’s 65,000 strong force has reportedly been operating in the city since early June. Shortly after these reports emerged, the New York Times rolled out an article saying Israel accelerated  planning for a “shock and awe” campaign to wipe out Hezbollah forces out of Syria.

Despite Saudi Arabia’s condemnation of Hezbollah’s “blatant interference” in the Syrian conflict, a report issued by Intelligence Online in January said that Saudi Arabia was directly responsible for the radical al-Nusra Front’s very existence and operational superiority within the country.  
"The Saudi General Intelligence, controlled by Prince Bandar bin Sultan bin Abdulaziz, exploited its broad calls with Takfiri [atoning] movements in Iraq to help establish al-Nusra Front, a low-profile Takfiri movement," the report stated. "Thanks to funding from the General Intelligence Department and support from the Saudi Intelligence in Lebanon, al-Nusra was able to swiftly arm its forces, and make the Syrian regime suffer painful blows through its expertise in Iraqi bombings," it continued.
The Al-Nusra Front, with its alleged Saudi connections, is incidentally the Syrian branch of the Islamic State of Iraq, which aims to establish a caliphate in the Sunni dominated regions of Iraq. This brings a strong sectarian smell to the two-year conflict and lifts far above local “anti-government” sentiments. The increased effectiveness of pro-Assad forces has been met with frustration by prominent Sunni clerics. Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi, a prominent Egyptian theologian, called on Sunnis in the region to join the battle against Damascus, asking: “How could 100m Shia [worldwide] defeat 1.7bn [Sunni]?

With the United States, its Sunni allies in the region and Israel all preparing to step up involvement in the Syrian conflict, Iran’s commitment to defend the Assad government is likely just as motivated by self-preservation as Shiite solidarity.


Iran begins 'massive' deployment of long-range missile launchers

As the Islamic Republic of Iran prepares for presidential elections next month it is fielding a "massive" number of new long-range missile launchers, Iranian media reported on Sunday. Defense Minister Gen. Ahmad Vahidi was quoted as saying the new weapon systems give Iranian forces the ability to "crush the enemy" with the simultaneous launching of long-range surface-to-surface missiles, according to Fars, the semi-official Iranian news agency.

The report did not specify the type of missile that would be fired, or provide details on the number of launchers allegedly deployed. Iran’s military does possess surface-to-surface missiles that are capable of traveling over 2,000 kilometers (1,200 miles), able to reach of targets inside Israel and US bases in the region. Vahidi did not specify who was the "enemy," and emphasized that Iran would never start a war.

Although Tehran occasionally announces military achievements that cannot be independently verified – like the claim it developed a state-of-the-art stealth drone capable of evading enemy radar – they come in the face of relentless external pressure. Only last year, as the United Nations slapped Tehran with another round of harsh sanctions, Iran threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, through which 18 million barrels of oil flows every day – roughly 35 percent of the world’s total. Any disruption of this supply route would have a huge impact on oil prices, and by extension the global economy.

The stand-off resulted in a tense military parade as the US sent three full US carrier groups, each accompanied by dozens of support vessels and carrying more aircraft than the entire Iranian air force, to participate in the Hormuz exercises. Tehran watched with apprehension as the fleet came and went.

Earlier this month, another US-led naval drill began in the Persian Gulf in a second such display of maritime strength in less than a year. The exercises involved 35 ships, 18 unmanned submarines and unmanned aircraft. At the same time, Washington has been engaged in constructing a European missile defense system that it says will protect Europe from a “rogue state” missile attack.

In September, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exhorted the UN General Assembly to draw "a clear red line" to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. The hawkish government of Likud leader Netanyahu has said in the past that “all of the options are on the table” – a thinly disguised remark suggesting military action – in order to halt Iran’s nuclear research. These fears are shared by the US and EU who have imposed severe sanctions targeting Iran’s oil sectors against the Persian country, and by many other nations across the globe.

Tehran has rejected the allegations, arguing that it is developing its nuclear capabilities for purely civilian purposes, and demanding that the world acknowledge its right to peaceful nuclear research.


AP: US War Games Send Signal to Assad

Under the watchful eye of stern-faced American advisers, hundreds of U.S.-trained Jordanian commandos fanned across this dusty desert plain, holding war games that could eventually form the basis of an assault in Syria. With the recent deployment of Patriot missiles near the Syrian border, and the mock Syrian accents of those playing the enemy, the message was clear: There is fear of spillover from the Syrian war in this U.S.-allied kingdom, and the potential for a Jordanian role in securing Syria's chemical weapons stockpiles should Bashar Assad's regime lose control.

Dubbed Eager Lion, the 12-day exercise involves combined land, air and sea maneuvers across the country. It brings together 8,000 personnel from 19 Arab and European nations to train on border security, irregular warfare, terrorism and counterinsurgency. Marine Corps Lt. Col. Duke Shienle said Syria "is a concern that all our regional partners share." The Syrian crisis is "causing all military in the region to increase intensity," he said as he supervised masked commandos in black uniforms from Jordan and two other Syria neighbors — Iraq and Lebanon — in a mock exercise to free a hijacked aircraft on an airstrip in the eastern Jordanian desert.

Nearby, U.S. military strategists taught Jordanian riot police to quickly contain a mock protest by angry mobs in a crowded refugee camp. The trainers refused to name the camp, but the trainees said it was "Zaatari," a reference to a refugee settlement straddling the border with Syria that shelters around 185,000 displaced Syrians. "We want freedom! We want a free Syria!" the trainees shouted, speaking the Syrian dialect as they depicted Syrian refugees. Others looked on from under dusty tents pitched on a strip of desert outside a Jordanian army compound. The location of this exercise and others could not be disclosed in line with Jordanian army regulations.

Elsewhere, in the south, hundreds of masked Jordanian commandos in black uniforms used machine-guns, rocket propellers and tanks to overwhelm an enemy target as Jordanian helicopters and fighter jets — all part of previous American donations — buzzed the skies overhead. "We want to tell anyone with malicious intentions toward Jordan that we can hit back where it hurts most painfully," said one Jordanian commando, speaking under scorching sun in the arid mountain region. He could not be named under army regulations and declined to say if the enemy he was fighting was Assad's army.

Other training focused on humanitarian relief and crisis management and involves 7,000 civilians from non-governmental organizations engaged in providing assistance to Syrian refugees, said Tawfiq Hennawi of the International Committee of the Red Cross, one of the participating NGOs. Jordan hosts more than half a million Syrians who fled Assad's military onslaught and that number is expected to rise to 1.2 million by the end of the year. "These exercises bolster our defense capabilities," said Jordanian army Maj. Gen. Awni Edwan, adding that the Eager Lion exercises, which end Thursday, are routine, having being held twice before at the same time.
"We don't intend to attack anybody," he said.

Jordan has been leery that Assad may eventually use his chemical weapons against his neighbors, or if his regime starts to collapse, his stockpile may fall into the hands of al-Qaida or other militants who are trying to rise to power in Syria. There has been mounting speculation that should Assad's regime begin to lose control, Jordan will dispatch its highly-skilled, U.S.-trained and equipped commandos to secure Assad's chemical weapons and create a safe haven for Syrian refugees along the 230-mile (375-kilometer) border with Jordan, according to a Western diplomat who monitors Syria from his base in Jordan.

The purpose is to prevent a further influx of Syrian refugees into Jordan out of fear that Shiite militants from the Lebanese Hezbollah group or other Iranian agents may slip across the border to destabilize this key U.S. ally, said the diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity because identifying him might jeopardize his intelligence-gathering on Syria. Jordan's predominantly Sunni Muslim population is traditionally a fiery critic of the growing influence of Iran and its rival Shiite sect.

Regional media reports this week suggesting that Hezbollah activists are deploying near the Jordanian border to help Assad regain control of southern Daraa province— which has been a lifeline for arms shipments to rebels seeking to topple him — sent jitters across Jordan. Officials said that security was immediately beefed up, with more Jordanian soldiers deployed along the border with Syria.

In recent weeks, Assad's forces have appeared to be regaining control over areas seized by rebels, particularly the strategic town of Qusair. Jordan also fears that Assad's sleeper cells, including Hezbollah, may already be in the country and would act if instructed by Iran or Syria, where an uprising that started in 2011 has descended into all-out civil war. Eager Lion coincides with Washington deploying one or two Patriot batteries along the border with Syria and agreeing to keep a squadron of 12 to 24 F-16 fighter jets after the exercises — a move Syria's regime and its Russian patron have expressed concern over.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted by Russia's Interfax news agency as saying that the deployment of the air-defense systems in Jordan in order to set up a no-fly zone over Syria would be a violation of international law. The United States has said it has no plans for military intervention in Syria, although President Barack Obama has left the door open for any possibility.

"With this exercise being the biggest fire power show ever in Jordan, coupled with the deployment of Patriot air defense systems and U.S. fighter jets, it is clear that the ground is being set for military intervention in Syria," said Col. Khalil Rawahneh, a Jordanian military strategist who participated in at least 16 U.S. and British-sponsored maneuvers until he retired four years ago.


PressTV: US Marines deployed along Jordan border with Syria

US Marines have reportedly been deployed along Jordan border with Syria as the Syrian Army continues to inflict heavy losses on foreign-backed militants. Over 1,000 US troops, who had arrived in the Jordanian port of Aqaba via Israel earlier in the week, have headed toward the kingdom's border area with Syria under heavy Jordanian military escort, Israeli sources reported on Friday.

The troops are reported to be members of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Force. Washington and Amman have imposed a news blackout on the deployment of US troops on Jordanian soil. US sources have confirmed that the presence of the Marines in Jordan has nothing to do with military drills set to be held between American and Jordanian troops later this month.
In April, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Washington is sending 200 troops to Jordan to help contain the violence in Syria, increasing speculation that US is setting the stage for intervention in the Arab country. At the time, Russia criticized the deployment of US troops to Jordan over the Syrian crisis, describing the move as an unconstructive step that threatens to expand the conflict. Jordan’s opposition party, the Islamic Action Front, also denounced the presence of American troops in the kingdom and asked the government to review its decision to authorize the deployment of foreign troops on Jordan’s soil.

Foreign Policy: Here's a map of the 23 places the U.S. will bomb if there's a Syria no-fly-zone

Forget the small arms. If the White House really wants to alter the course of the Syrian civil war, it may well need to impose a no-fly zone. The good news is it probably won't be too hard to pull off, given the battered state of Assad's air defenses. The bad news is it could drag the U.S. into a wider war. Bashar al-Assad's air force that has conducted between 115 and 141 air strikes a month from January through April of this year, largely with old Czechoslovakian-made L-39 Delfin trainer jets and helicopters such as the Soviet-designed Mi-8, Mi-17 and Mi-24.

The weapons may be old, but many analysts believe that they've made a crucial difference as pro-regime troops have seized the momentum in Syria's civil war. Some in the U.S. government are pushing for a total no-fly-zone similar to the one imposed on Libya in 2011 in order to take out that air force. (The map above shows the location of Assad's main air bases - the prime targets of any American campaign to limit Assad's power to strike from the sky.Let us know if we're missing any.)

On Friday, Anthony Cordesman of the influential Center for Strategic and International Studies said that anything less than (a pretty darn expensive) no-fly zone that totally grounds Assad's air force would be a "half-pregnant" solution similar to "supplying too few arms of too few lethality," as the U.S. and other nations have been said to be doing secretly for months without giving the rebels enough of an advantage to overthrow Assad.

A full-on no-fly-zone would involve the U.S. and any other nations launching a high end assault with everything from B-2 stealth bombers to submarine and ship-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles aimed at destroying Assad's radars, missile sites and air defense control networks. It'd be similar to what was done at the start of Operation Odyssey Dawn, only bigger due to the fact that Syria has a much better air defense network than Libya did. Once these door-kickers have taken out the most dangerous elements of Syria's air defenses, other strike fighters such as U.S. Air Force F-15E Strike Eagles, F-16 Vipers -- some of which are already in neighboring Jordan --, and U.S. Navy and Marine Corps F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and F/A-18 Hornets would then be relatively free to hunt down and destroy Assad's aircraft on the ground or in the air.

As Cordesman points out, all of these jets would need to be flown off at least one aircraft carrier. The attack would also involve aircraft based in nearby Turkey, perhaps in  Jordan, as well as in other Middle East nations that host American warplanes. The strike jets would have to be supported by aerial refueling tankers, AWACS and possibly JSTARS radar planes, EA-18G Growler and EA-6B Prowler radar jamming jets, reconnaissance drones and other intelligence-gathering jets. A huge undertaking that would cost a ton and take a long time to achieve full effect. Remember, the U.S. and NATO patrolled the Libyan skies from March 2011 through October 2011, when Muammar al-Qaddafi.

However, as Christopher Harmer of the Institute for the Study of war points out, Assad's high-end air defenses are stationary - making them easy targets for rebel ground attack and have likely been seriously degraded by months of fighting.

"The fixed site portion of the Syrian [air defenses] - the heavy radar, heavy [surface to air missiles], etc., belong to the Syrian Air Force, and in my opinion, have suffered significantly in the fighting," said Harmer. "They can't get out of the way of the rebels; more problematic, these old Soviet legacy systems are maintenance and training intensive.  My guess is the Syrian Air Force has lost significant capability on its heavy, fixed site IADS due to a lack of maintenance, repair, and training."

He also points out that even Syria's most modern air defense weapons - mobile, Russian-made SA-17s and SA-22s -- don't have the reach to shoot down U.S. planes, which fire off long-range missiles like the Joint Stand-off Weapon. Nor can the defenses hope to stop American ships launching Tomahawk cruise missiles.

Furthermore, America's radar jamming EA-18Gs and EA-6Bs "can overwhelm the relatively low power radar of the SA-17 and SA-22; any fixed site (heavy power output) radar that starts to illuminate, we'll just put an (AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile) into it. Game over for them," said Harmer. SA-17 and SA-22 are capable weapon systems, but our ability to defeat those weapons systems is far greater than the Syrians ability to interdict our air power."

There is one air defense system that could make life much more difficult for U.S. pilots, the Russian-made S-300 surface to air missiles. But the S-300 is not yet in country, despite the fact that Assad has ordered them from Russia. Those orders just got a lot more urgent, now that the U.S. is getting more directly involved in the Syrian civil war.


Israeli Minister: If only to deal a blow to the ayatollahs, Assad must go

Iran would need a year and a half to complete the creation of a nuclear bomb if it decided to do so today, an Israeli security official tasked with the Iranian threat told The Times of Israel. Sima Shine, who heads the Iran desk at Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs, told The Times of Israel on the sidelines of the Israeli Presidential Conference that it would take Iran “a few months” to produce enough fissile material for a single nuclear bomb and around a year and a half to produce the bomb itself.

“If the Iranian leader decided today that he wants to build a bomb, and he will probably want more than one bomb … it will take him a few months to enrich uranium to weapon’s grade level. Then it would take a little while to create the bomb itself. The common presumption today is that [the entire process] will take him around a year and a half, assuming not too many things go wrong along the way.”

Shine’s comments seemed to contradict a statement by Amos Yadlin, the former head of Israel’s Military Intelligence, who said in April that by summer Iran will have crossed the nuclear “red line” set by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his UN speech last September. Netanyahu warned that Iran must not be allowed to produce enough 20%-enriched uranium for a single bomb, or some 240 kg. (529 lbs).

Shine is no newcomer to the Iranian portfolio. As former head of the Mossad’s research department and deputy director of Israel’s National Security Council, she spent years monitoring Iran’s nuclear proliferation efforts, which she analyzes with great detail.

On June 10, Shine’s boss, Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, told foreign reporters that Iran was between “weeks and two months” away from enriching enough uranium at the level of 20% — easily convertible to weapon’s grade levels of over 90% — for a nuclear bomb. But Shine said the exact timetable is of little consequence to Israel.

“It doesn’t matter, we don’t build our security strategy on months or weeks. If they [the Iranians] decide they’re going for nuclear weapons, they are very close. Even a year or a year and a half is not a long time.”

Iran is so far wary of crossing Netanyahu’s red line, and has diverted some of its 20%-enriched uranium into fuel rods for a small civilian reactor in Tehran, Shine said. But at the same time, Iran is adding centrifuges for uranium enrichment and is working on a parallel plutonium-based nuclear track through its reactor in Arak.

“They are slowly but surely establishing a wide and diverse [nuclear] program, without actually crossing the red line.”

How will the election of Hasan Rowhani as Iran’s new president affect the country’s nuclear program? “God knows,” Shine said, but she expressed fear that countries like Russia and China will take advantage of Iran’s ostensible new moderation to demand the removal of American and European sanctions. A new set of sanctions are set to be imposed this July.

A Russian announcement last week that Iran was willing to halt its uranium enrichment to 20% in return for the lifting of sanctions was a first, ominous, indication of that trend, she said. With such large enrichment capabilities at Iran’s disposal, halting enrichment could hardly be considered an Iranian concession, since it could replenish its 20%-enriched uranium in a matter of weeks.

“Here we expect the P5+1 (the permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany, engaged in nuclear negotiations with Iran) to remain steadfast in their basic position that ‘you [Iran] will receive no easing of the sanctions unless you comply with our demands’.”

‘Assad must go’

When Israel debates whether the fall of Syrian President Bashar Assad is “good or bad for the Jews,” it should consider the devastating impact his ouster would have on Israel’s sole strategic foe, Iran, Shine said.

“In my personal opinion, the ‘devil we know’ is worse than the devil we don’t,” said Shine, adding that the Israeli security establishment is gradually becoming more convinced that Assad remaining in power would be far worse than his ouster, although that position has not yet been adopted as official Israeli policy.

Israeli officials have largely been cautious when speaking out on the Syrian civil war, raging since March 2011. In April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu instructed his cabinet ministers to keep silent on Syria following a radio interview by deputy foreign minister Ze’ev Elkin, in which he seemed to be calling for international military action in Syria.

“Israel’s main strategic threat is Iran. Not Syria, not Hamas. Therefore, strategically, Israel should examine things from the perspective of what harms Iran and what serves Israel’s agenda in confronting it. If Bashar remains in power, that would be a huge achievement for Iran. A weakened Assad [remaining in power] would be completely dependent on Iran. In my opinion that’s the worst thing that can happen to Israel.”

Those sentiments echo the outlook sounded by former defense minister Ehud Barak, who in an interview with CNN in May 2012 said that Assad’s fall would deal a severe blow to his allies Iran and Hezbollah. But one year and some 90,000 casualties later, Shine is less equivocal in the words she chooses.

“Bashar Assad must not remain in power. Period. What will happen later? God only knows.”

“The alternative, whereby [Assad falls and] Jihadists flock to Syria, is not good. We have no good options in Syria. But Assad remaining along with the Iranians is worse. His ouster would exert immense pressure on Iran.”

Shine said she hoped the Syrian rebels were being assisted, though was cautious in admitting Israel was indeed providing any such aid. “I hope Israel is doing more than I know of,” she said. In an event, Israel would not publicly admit assisting the rebels for fear of harming their domestic posture.
“That would be bad for the rebels themselves. They do not want to be perceived as being supported by Israel, which — as the occupier of the Golan Heights — is the enemy.”

Did the Israeli security establishment fail in predicting the Syrian uprising? Shine rebuffs that criticism. Israeli intelligence gathering, she noted, always focused on government officials in Syria — who themselves never anticipated the revolution — not on the common Syrian citizen. “If Assad himself didn’t know [the revolution was imminent], how are we expected to have known?”

“Even if we had remarkable sources in the Syrian public, who ever attributed any importance to the Syrian public? Everyone thought they were a group of people scared of the regime. Who ever thought they would take to the streets and kill each other?”

Asked whether with its back to the wall following Assad’s ouster Lebanese terror organization Hezbollah could attack Israel, Shine answered in the negative.

“I don’t think so. Why would Hezbollah take on Israel alone?”

TIME World: Israel and U.S. Coordinating How to Target Assad’s Arsena

52 days after an Israeli general publicly declared that Syria has used chemical weapons against rebels, the Obama administration reached the same conclusion, and used the finding to justify announcing it would send small arms to the side of the victims. “I will not say ‘We told you so,’ only, okay, the proof is there, so there’s no more question about it,” says Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, taking with a smile the easy part of the equation now laid before Israel. As for the hard part: “Now, what should be done? It’s not for Israel to say, because the international involvement in this should not include Israel. Israel follows very closely developments there. It’s very concerned about activity on its borders. But we’re not aspiring to be involved in any action about what’s happening in Syria.”

In fact, of course, Israel is closely involved already, and in more ways than they are acknowledged publicly. Israeli military officials tell TIME that American intelligence had the same information that Brig. Gen. Itai Brun cited in his April 23 presentation to a public conference – video footage showing victims foaming at the mouth, and other indicators that made it clear that sarin had been used on the battlefield more than once. “We are sharing,” one Israeli intelligence official said at the time. “We have our cards on the table with the Americans for a long time. They’ve had all this information.”

Though the speech embarrassed President Obama, who had repeatedly called use of chemical weapons “a game changer” in his Syria policy, it was officially inadvertent. No one in Israel’s political echelon knew of Brun’s remarks in advance, and officials from both countries spent several days publicly repairing the impression that Israel was trying to force Obama to intervene. At an operational level, cooperation between the two countries has been exceptionally close — and growing closer as Washington publicly ramps up its military involvement in the Syrian conflict.

“Things are happening behind the scenes,” says one Israeli official. “Things are really happening.” Earlier this month, the Pentagon announced it was sending F-16s and Patriot missile batteries to Jordan, ostensibly for an exercise (“Eager Lion”), but which would remain in the Hashemite Kingdom afterward. “It’s a clear, purposeful, presence of a strike force near the border of Syria,” the Israeli official noted. “I think it’s a message, a clear message.” The message is also meant to be legible to Iran, which is arming Syria and the Lebanese militia Hizballah by air, as well as testing the resolve of Western powers who threaten to strike its nuclear program. “It’s only a short leap to the Gulf,” the official said.

Patriot batteries went into Turkey last year, under the banner of NATO. And the chief of Mossad, Israel’s overseas intelligence agency, traveled to Ankara this week to meet with Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization, known by its Turkish initials MIT. As opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad organize themselves to assist the rebels opposing him, Israel feels obliged to lay low. Though closely aligned with Washington, and maintaining diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, countries like Jordan and Turkey have majority Muslim populations who would not welcome overt military cooperation with Israel. “If this is to hold water, this cannot involve Israel,” the Israeli official said.

Behind the scenes, however, Israeli and U.S. military officials are coordinating how to target and destroy Assad’s arsenal of unconventional weapons under assorted scenarios, Israeli military and intelligence officials tell TIME. One scenario would be the sudden removal of Assad from the scene, be it by flight, death or if he simply disappears. That would prompt the allies to launch operations on the estimated 18 depots and other sites where WMDs are stored, the officials said. Search and destroy operations would also be launched if the weapons appeared to be about to fall into the hands of the rebels, which include Islamist extremists aligned with al-Qaeda.

The Israeli officials emphasized that it had not been decided whether both Israeli and U.S. forces would act, or who would do what. But the U.S. plans called for deploying forces on the ground as well as waves of airstrikes, to assure that the chemical and biological components are neutralized, according to the Israeli officials.

Israel already has struck by air inside Syria three times this year, targeting advanced weapons systems such as anti-aircraft batteries and highly accurate Russian-made missiles that officials said were being transferred to Hizballah, something Israeli officials repeatedly had warned would prompt discreet, surgical action intended only to safeguard its military advantage over the Lebanese militia, which is sponsored by Iran and supported by Syria (where Hizballah recently sent troops to help Assad).

“The main arms of concern to us are the arms that are already in Syria — these are anti-aircraft weapons, these are chemical weapons and other very, very dangerous weapons that could be game changers,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the BBC in April, in remarks the Israeli foreign ministry said remained operative in the wake of Obama’s decision to arm the rebels. “They will change the conditions, the balance of power in the Middle East. They could present a terrorist threat on a worldwide scale. It is definitely our interest to defend ourselves, but we also think it is in the interest of other countries.”

 Putin: Russia Arming Legitimate Gov’t in Syria, West Arming Organ-Eaters

Russian President Vladimir Putin slammed the Western countries for arming foreign-backed militants fighting the Syrian government, warning that such move contradicts basic human values since the armed groups are committing war crimes and crimes against humanity.

During a joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron on Sunday, Putin said: "You will not deny that one does not really need to support the people who not only kill their enemies, but open up their bodies, eat their intestines in front of the public and cameras. Are these the people you want to support? Is it them who you want to supply with weapons? Then this probably has little relation to humanitarian values that have been preached in Europe for hundreds of years."

Putin was referring to video footage surfaced on the Internet last month of a militant eating what appeared to be the heart of a dead Syrian soldier. In an interview with Time magazine on May 14, the cannibal militant, known by his nom de guerre Abu Sakkar, confirmed that the video is real and that he did indeed take a bite of the soldier’s lung. Human Rights Watch said it was a war crime. Putin said that Russia by contrast was arming the legitimate government of Syria. "We are not breaching any rules and norms and we call on all our partners to act in the same fashion," he said.

Speaking after a difficult meeting with Putin in Northern Ireland, Cameron claimed both men were in agreement on the need to end the human catastrophe of the Syrian crisis. But there was little to suggest the two men made progress on how to convene a fresh Syrian peace conference in Geneva, let alone who should attend, or its agenda.

"There are very big differences between the analysis we have of what happened in Syria and who is to blame but where there is common ground is that we both see a humanitarian catastrophe," Cameron said. "What I take from our conversation today is that we can overcome these differences if we recognize that we share some fundamental aims: to end the conflict, to stop Syria breaking apart, to let the Syrian people decide who governs them and to take the fight to the extremists and defeat them," he said. 


Russia Outmaneuvers Obama Over Syria

President Obama's belated acknowledgment that Syria's regime has used chemical weapons effectively forced his decision on Thursday to arm the opposition. Whether Mr. Obama's U-turn alters the conflict's course is a different question. One thing seems certain: Russia's support for Bashar al-Assad remains unwavering. It should make for an interesting G-8 meeting on Monday and Tuesday in Northern Ireland.

Since Syria's civil war began, Mr. Obama has insisted, contrary to fact, that the U.S. and Russia have a common interest in resolving the crisis and stabilizing the Middle East. Secretary of State John Kerry's recent efforts to secure Russian co-sponsorship of a peace conference, at which Washington will push for Assad's ouster, reflect Mr. Obama's illusion.

The objective evidence consistently demonstrates that Russia has no interest whatever in eliminating its only remaining Arab ally. Moscow's military and financial assistance to Damascus continues undiminished, along with its hold on the Cold War-era Tartus naval base, strategically positioned on Syria's Mediterranean coast—but now facing only a phantom U.S. Sixth Fleet. Despite the hoopla surrounding the announcement of the proposed peace talks, their starting date, attendees, agenda and prospects all remain uncertain.

Most dramatically, Russia last month reaffirmed its commitment to deliver sophisticated S-300 air-defense missile systems to Assad. Although Israeli leaders have played down the sale's significance, this combination of advanced radars and missiles, which can defeat any non-stealthy aircraft (and Israel does not now have stealth planes), could change the strategic balance in Syria as well as in Lebanon and Iran—to Israel's detriment and ours.

Altering that broader strategic balance is precisely what Russia intends, exploiting President Obama's McGovernite "come home, America" policies, repeated in May when he again declared the war on terror almost over. Mr. Obama's continuing lack of interest in global threats to the U.S. is another manifestation of his inattention to defending the tenuous global stability on which the world's economy—and America's—critically rests.

Three years ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pleaded with Vladimir Putin not to sell S-300 systems to Iran. Mr. Netanyahu feared that Iran's nuclear program, sheltered behind the S-300 air defenses, would be impervious to Israeli strikes. Although the U.S. could penetrate and destroy S-300s in Iran, Israel does not believe (and didn't in 2010) that Mr. Obama is serious when he says "all options are on the table" concerning Washington's possible military steps.

Perhaps responding to still-unknown Israeli commitments, Mr. Putin agreed not to send S-300 missiles to Iran, publicly citing Security Council Resolution 1929—the last substantive United Nations sanction against Tehran that Russia and China have permitted. This is more than a little ironic, since Russia had previously contended that Resolution 1929's arms sanctions did not bar sales of antiaircraft missiles, an assessment entirely shared by the Obama administration.

Because Russia's public interpretation of Resolution 1929 is clearly incorrect, the interpretation could easily be reversed, or simply ignored, should Russia so choose. Since 2010, Israel has reportedly trained against S-300s previously sold to Cyprus, but this is hardly equivalent to confronting them in combat situations wielded by skilled operators. Despite Israel's recent bluster regarding S-300s, Mr. Netanyahu reprised his pilgrimage to Moscow on May 14, this time hoping to block the Syrian sale. Mr. Putin refused.

President Obama and Russia's President Vladimir Putin in Los Cabos, Mexico, in 2012. Much, therefore, depends on how effectively Moscow trains Assad's military, or, even more chillingly, whether Russian crews will operate S-300s in Syria, which would definitely raise the stakes for NATO or Israeli attacks on the missile or radar emplacements.

There is enormous political symbolism in the S-300 deal, which is bolstered by Russian sales of antiship missiles and MiG fighters, and naval deployments to the Eastern Mediterranean. Russia's support to prevent Assad's fall is already having a considerable impact on the conflict, whatever steps Mr. Obama may now hesitatingly undertake.

The spillover prospect of using S-300s to protect Hezbollah's weapons in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley is significant both for Israel and for Hezbollah's ever-larger role in Syria's hostilities. Iran's mullahs also benefit, especially if S-300s bound for Syria find their way into Iranian hands. The ever-closer Tehran-Moscow relationship underlines the essentially negligible prospects for negotiating Iran out of its nuclear-weapons program.

While Mr. Obama sleepwalks, Mr. Putin is ardently pursuing Russia's Middle East objectives. He has always been clear about his larger goals.

In 2005, Mr. Putin told the Russian Federation Assembly that "the collapse of the Soviet Union was a major geopolitical disaster of the [last] century," which he clearly hoped to remedy. Mr. Putin's neo-imperialistic goals now extend globally. In Soviet days, Americans joked that Sergei Lavrov, now Russian foreign minister, was a closet royalist, but he longs less for a Romanov restoration than for a return to the czars' hegemonic achievements.

While the evidence about Russia's strategic objectives may not be conclusive, the direction is ominous. And as long as America operates on the assumption that the U.S. has common interests with Russia in Syria, Lebanon, Iran or the Middle East generally, we will see Moscow's influence rise and ours decline. Even in today's Washington, that's a scandal.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).


Russian military stages biggest war games since Soviet times

160,000 servicemen, 1000 tanks, 130 planes and 70 ships are taking part in Russia’s biggest military drill since Soviet times. The war games will continue in the country’s Far East until July 20. The maneuvers are the latest in series of surprise military checks which performed by Russia, in an effort to reveal and oust flaws in the country’s defense program.   

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu received an order to test the battle readiness of the Eastern command, which unites military forces in the Far East and Trans-Baikal. The request was received from President Vladimir Putin at 01:00 local time (21:00 GMT) on Saturday, July 13.

Following the order, 160,000 servicemen were put on high alert and began advancing toward the training sites. According to the Defense Ministry, around 1,000 tanks and armored vehicles, 130 planes and helicopters, and 70 ships are taking part in the war games. Military commanders in the Far East and Trans-Baikal learned of the drill’s details only after it had begun, receiving a secret parcel from Defense Minister Shoygu.

“The main purpose of the activities is to check the readiness of the military units to perform assigned tasks and evaluate of the level of personnel’s training and technical preparation as well as the level of equipment of units with arms and military equipment,” the defense ministry said in statement.  

The statement noted that the drill would require some units to travel more than 3,000 kilometers from their usual deployment sites. Seven hundred flat wagons and 50 railway cars were assigned to perform the transfer. The ground forces have been given two days to reach their destination. They have been tasked with pitching field camps, masking their positions, and organizing defense strategies upon arrival.

The transfer is being secured by military air power. Sukhoi Su-27 fighters took off from their bases in Ussuriysk and Komsomolsk-on-Amur in order to protect ferry crossings to Sakhalin Island and escort Pacific Fleet ships. The pilots are also practicing search and destroy methods of water-based targets.   

The Russian Navy, along with its fleet, is participating in drills in the Sea of Okhotsk. The Navy owns the guided-missile cruiser ‘Varyag,’ large anti-submarine ships ‘Marshal Shaposhnikov’ and ‘Admiral Vinogradov,’ assault ships ‘Oslyabya’ and "Nikolay Vilkov,’ and fleet destroyer ‘Bystry,’ and a number of other vessels – all of which are taking part in the war games.

The fleet, accompanied by Tupolev Tu-124 and Ilyushin Il-38 anti-boat planes, has already successfully executed the task of search and detection of simulated enemies’ submarines. President Putin also asked the defense minister to train “rescue at sea and rescue of vehicles, including submarines" during the maneuvers. Surprise checks within the Russian military began after Shoygu took up the position of defense minister in November 2012.

Similar unannounced drills have already been performed in the southern, west and central military districts, with President Putin calling them “extremely useful and effective in terms of identifying problems and their subsequent removal.”


China, Russia Joint Naval Drills Largest Ever

China and Russia kicked off their largest-ever joint naval drills on Friday in the Sea of Japan, a further sign of the broad-based progress in ties between the former Communist rivals. Eighteen surface ships, one submarine, three airplanes, five ship-launched helicopters and two commando units were taking part in the "Joint Sea-2013" exercise that runs through July 12. The drills will cover anti-submarine warfare, close maneuvering and the simulated take-over of an enemy ship.

The drills are considerably bigger than anything China's navy has previously held with a foreign partner. China's increasingly formidable navy is contributing four destroyers, two latest-generation guided missile frigates and a support ship, all of which sailed Monday from the port of Qingdao, where China's Northern Fleet is based, to the rallying point in Peter the Great Bay near Vladivostok.

"This is our strongest lineup ever in a joint naval drill," Rear Admiral Yang Junfei, commander of the Chinese contingent, was quoted as saying by state media.

China has long been a key customer for Russian military hardware, but only in the last decade have the two countries' militaries begun training jointly. The naval drills are to be followed by another round of anti-terrorism joint drills in Russia's Ural Mountain region of Chelyabinsk from July 27 to Aug. 15. China's armed forces are eagerly pursuing stronger links with most regional militaries with the notable exception of Japan, with which China is embroiled in a strongly emotional spat over control of an uninhabited East China Sea island group north of Taiwan.

China began deploying ships to the anti-piracy flotilla off the coast of Somalia in 2008 and in recent years its navy has joined in a series of joint drills in the Pacific and Indian oceans. Chinese land units also have taken part in border security and anti-terrorism exercises organized by the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Cooperation with the U.S. Navy, the predominant maritime force in the region, has been more limited, although China will take part next year in the U.S.-organized multinational Rim of the Pacific exercises, the world's largest maritime drills.


A New Anti-American Axis?

The flight of the leaker Edward J. Snowden from Hong Kong to Moscow last month would not have been possible without the cooperation of Russia and China. The two countries’ behavior in the Snowden affair demonstrates their growing assertiveness and their willingness to take action at America’s expense.

Beyond their protection of Mr. Snowden, Chinese-Russian policies toward Syria have paralyzed the United Nations Security Council for two years, preventing joint international action. Chinese hacking of American companies and Russia’s cyberattacks against its neighbors have also caused concern in Washington. While Moscow and Beijing have generally supported international efforts to end Iran’s nuclear weapons program, they clearly were not prepared to go as far as Washington was, and any coordinated shift in their approach could instantly gut America’s policy on the issue and endanger its security and energy interests. To punctuate the new potential for cooperation, China is now carrying out its largest ever joint naval exercises — with Russia.

Russia and China appear to have decided that, to better advance their own interests, they need to knock Washington down a peg or two. Neither probably wants to kick off a new cold war, let alone hot conflicts, and their actions in the case of Mr. Snowden show it. China allowed him into Hong Kong, but gently nudged his departure, while Russia, after some provocative rhetoric, seems to have now softened its tone.

Still, both countries are seeking greater diplomatic clout that they apparently reckon they can acquire only by constraining the United States. And in world affairs, there’s no better way to flex one’s muscles than to visibly diminish the strongest power.

This new approach appears based in part on a sense of their growing strength relative to America and their increasing emphasis on differences over issues like Syria. Both Moscow and Beijing oppose the principle of international action to interfere in a country’s sovereign affairs, much less overthrow a government, as happened in Libya in 2011. After all, that principle could always backfire on them.

They also don’t like watching the West take action against leaders friendly to them, like President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. As this sense of common interests becomes entrenched, increasing Russian-Chinese cooperation could pose grave risks for America and the world. Their conduct suggests that they see less cost in challenging the United States and fewer rewards for acting as a partner. These calculations stem from two dangerous perceptions.

First, they see American decline and decadence. In their view, the United States is on the wrong side of history, holding on to ties with Europe and parts of Asia, while losing economic leverage and moral authority in the rest of the world. American disengagement from Iraq and Afghanistan without victory contributes to a related impression that America’s unquestioned military superiority isn’t worth much in terms of achieving policy objectives on the ground.

Second, many Russian and Chinese elites consider American foreign policy objectives fundamentally hostile to their vital interests. Neither group views American democracy promotion as reflecting any genuine commitment to freedom; instead, both perceive it as a selective crusade to undermine governments that are hostile to the United States or too powerful for its comfort.

Meanwhile, Russian and Chinese leaders make clear that Washington’s support for their neighbors in practically every dispute involving Beijing or Moscow is less a matter of respect for international law than a form of dual containment that seeks to curtail the regional and global influence of these two major powers. American backing for Georgia and the former Soviet republics of Central Asia bothers Russia. Likewise, China views American support for Vietnam and the Philippines in their maritime disputes with Beijing as a menace.

No wonder Xi Jinping of China made his first international trip as China’s president to Moscow, where he told his counterpart, Vladimir V. Putin, that Beijing and Moscow should “resolutely support each other in efforts to protect national sovereignty, security and development interests” and promised to “closely coordinate” on regional and international issues. Mr. Putin reciprocated by saying that “the strategic partnership between us is of great importance on both a bilateral and global scale.” While the two leaders’ words may have generated more of an impression of collusion than was necessary, it’s safe to assume they knew exactly the message they were sending.

Policy makers in Washington must carefully assess the growing chumminess between China and Russia and what it means for America. To ignore it would be foolish.

Yes, China and Russia continue to be divided by a history of mutual distrust as well as by conflicting economic interests and Chinese territorial ambitions. China’s concerns about North Korea exceed Russia’s, and Moscow’s stake in Syria is greater than Beijing’s. And in Central Asia, the two nations are outright competitors. Moreover, China is a rising superpower and Russia is fighting to stay in the big leagues, which gives them different perspectives on world affairs.

That said, both countries share a strong interest in maintaining partnerships with the United States and the European Union, their main trading partners and the custodians of the international financial system, in which each has a major stake. These are powerful reasons for staying on good working terms with Washington, but the United States should not assume that they will halt the new anti-American tack in Beijing and Moscow. That would be a dangerous misreading of history.

Before World War I, many assumed that mutual economic entanglement and the huge costs of war would prevent conflict among key European powers. On the eve of World War II, Communist Russia and Nazi Germany seemed the unlikeliest of allies, until the two-year-long nonaggression treaty known as the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact left Europe in ruins and many millions dead.

President Obama should see China and Russia as neither enemies nor friends, but as significant powers with their own interests, as the Snowden affair showed. Initially, Mr. Obama railed publicly and ineffectually at both, urging them to extradite Mr. Snowden. Only when he softened his public stance and hardened his private line did Beijing and Moscow begin to see the advantages of avoiding further confrontation.

Washington needs to understand that most security threats around the world — from Syria to Iran to North Korea — can’t be managed safely and successfully without Russia’s and China’s cooperation. With respect to Syria, this approach would mean appreciating Moscow’s historical connection to the country’s Alawite leaders as well as Russia’s concern over the fate of Syria’s Christians, especially Orthodox Christians. In dealing with Beijing, it would mean strongly protecting American trade interests while understanding that Chinese leaders face real obstacles in tackling their own domestic economic problems.

To gain the respect of Russia and China, the White House must first demonstrate that American leadership is essential to solving key world problems, including those vital to China and Russia. America can’t be seen as passive.

Relations with Russia and China deserve to be given priority, but the United States mustn’t be afraid to stand firm in some cases or, in others, to partner with these two authoritarian but ultimately pragmatic powers. To do otherwise would be a folly of historic proportions.

Leslie H. Gelb, a former columnist, editor and correspondent for The New York Times, is president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations. Dimitri K. Simes is president of the Center for the National Interest and publisher of its magazine, The National Interest.


Pax Americana Hubris: America cannot afford Syria

War is not always a "moral" question.   Nor is it a choice based on the simplistic dichotomy of isolationism versus interventionism.   But this is the prism through which the American public is now being conditioned to view the Syrian Civil War. The drumbeat of "proxy" war in Syria, which usually gives way to full-scale invasion (Iraq), has begun.  The American people are now bombarded with emotional pleas.  John McCain is already criticizing the Obama Administration for not doing "enough" to help Syria.

"After all," we are told, "With great power comes great responsibility."

Those who disagree that war in Syria is our responsibility, and contend that war should require a threat to national security, or at least be waged against an enemy that poses a credible threat to vital national interests, are often derided by the same people who used to protest our involvement in Iraq.   But apart from the argument over whether or not it is right or justifiable for America to go to war, particularly this war, there is still the simple question, "Can we afford it?" The issue of whether or not our nation can afford to project global power is almost completely ignored.  At this critical juncture in world history, the question of adequate resources to support US military intervention must be given proper attention. 

President Obama has gutted the Navy, the Air Force, and Marine Corps, eliminating America's ability to fight two wars in two separate theaters simultaneously.  Defense insiders place the ability to fight two full-scale wars above many other strategic considerations. Obama has also announced his intention to cut the US nuclear arsenal down to 300 warheads - with or without Congress.  These cuts will prove catastrophic for the national security of the United States, if generals are believed. 

American readiness to face the asymmetric threats posed by Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, et al. has diminished considerably. An Air Force that is today 50 percent smaller than it was in 1990 committed over forty percent of its strength in the Bosnia campaign -- more than was committed in the first Gulf War, to sustain what was arguably a small-scale contingency.  The USAF mission capable rates have declined from 80 percent in 1991, to 74 percent today, and to as low as 40 percent readiness for our B-1B bombers-a critical component of America's "nuclear triad."

But the strain is not confined to the Air Force.  The Army has paid a price for American overseas excursions.  Over 70 percent of combat units report degraded readiness from "peace operations."

Let's review recent history: Iraq was never really a "win" for the U.S.  Though America routed Saddam's forces in the early part of its invasion, against impossible odds (4-1), boots on the ground were insufficient to completely eliminate the enemy and prevent insurgency.  Saddam's Fedayeen and Special Republican Guard donned civilian attire and used civilians as tactical weapons - bogging the U.S. down for 10 full years. If America cannot even eliminate the enemy in a cakewalk scenario like Iraq, how would it fare in facing other more potent adversaries, e.g. Iran? 

And yet, the numbers of soldiers, bombs, tanks and planes America possesses become increasingly irrelevant when the financial dimensions of war and power projection are taken into account.

Fact:  America has more debt than any nation in history.  America owes its GDP, and then some, to foreign creditors.  No empire that claims any title to global superpower status has sustained debts greater than roughly half its GDP (WWI and WWII being wartime exceptions.)

America owes the world in excess of $100 Trillion in unfunded fiscal liabilities.  This number is four times world GDP, and can never be repaid, even in several lifetimes. American creditors are responding accordingly, openly de-linking from the U.S. Dollar and shifting assets into safer investments - fleeing the American empire of debt-creation for safer shores - making currency collapse or instability a distinct possibility. The problem with such a move is clear to economists:  the global financial system depends on American debt as a lubricant.  America props up the world's numerous export-dependent economies by purchasing the majority share of manufactured goods and services. 

In return, at least since the end of Word War II, nations benefiting from American largesse have reciprocated by investing their surplus dollars in U.S. Treasury bonds and other dollar-denominated paper.  This preserved global financial stability and became a zero sum game -  in effect, a house of cards with seemingly no limit. Except that China, Russia, and Saudi Arabia now own the table on which the house of cards that is Western Civilization sits. 

The old system has ceased to be viable, since America is now creating more dollars than creditors can absorb, and is arguably abusing the mechanism traditionally utilized to maintain high trade volume and suppress the global price of goods, to monetize massive debts owed to the American taxpayer in the form of outrageous promises.  These promises include, but are not limited to, "free" healthcare, "free" food, and money for not working. When China is demanding public infrastructure, roads, buildings, as collateral on American loans, invading still more countries sends the wrong financial message.

The real conversation that Americans should be having at this point in history during any prelude to war should not be whether intervention is good or bad or neutral;  the conversation Americans need to be having is whether or not intervention is even financially or militarily possible. The question is no longer "who, what, where" but "how?"

The critical question Americans should be asking President Obama is why when we can no longer afford to keep the White House open to the public (only to the IRS Executive Director for his casual visitations), we can miraculously finance a proxy war with Syria? 

Nobody benefits in the event America collapses from imperial overstretch. The first thing a flight attendant says when explaining the function of an air mask is for adults to put theirs on first, before assisting children. We should pause for reflection before we continue to pursue intervention as official policy. 


Syrian Leader Is Jubilant At Morsi’s Fall

The jubilation among opponents of Egypt’s deposed Muslim Brotherhood president in Cairo was matched Thursday in the halls of power in Syria’s capital, Damascus, where President Bashar al-Assad declared that the Egyptian events signified the fall of “political Islam” and a vindication of his government’s fight against the two-year Syrian uprising.

Even as the Egyptian Army was busy rounding up the Brotherhood’s entire leadership, Syrian state news media were quick to seize on an inescapable fact: the most prominent of the leaders brought to power by the Arab popular revolts that inspired the Syrian uprising had suffered an ignominious downfall, yet Mr. Assad, after meeting his own opponents with uncompromising force, was still standing.

Mr. Assad, in an interview with the pro-government newspaper Al Thawra, said the fall of Egypt’s president, Mohamed Morsi, proved that Islamist groups like the Brotherhood were unfit to rule, and drew pointed comparisons to the movement against him in Syria, in which Islamists play a prominent role.

“Whoever brings religion to use for political or factional interests will fall anywhere in the world,” Mr. Assad said, in a declaration that might not sit well with Syria’s crucial allies: the theocratic government in Iran and the Shiite Muslim militant group Hezbollah in Lebanon.

He said he was confident that only foreign military intervention could topple him. “The countries that conspire against Syria have used up all their tools,” he said, adding, “They have nothing left except direct intervention,” which he called unlikely. It was a politically dismaying day for Mr. Assad’s Syrian opponents, as Mr. Morsi has been an increasingly vocal supporter of the Syrian uprising.

Mr. Assad and his allies have long argued that his rule is far preferable to Islamists’ taking power, and that most of the Arab revolts were conspiracies bound to wreak havoc on citizens’ lives. The mass protests against Mr. Morsi and the army’s ouster of him allowed Mr. Assad to claim that many Egyptians — whose largely peaceful rebellion against the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak helped to inspire the Syrian revolt — agreed with him. “You cannot deceive everyone all the time,” he said, “particularly the Egyptian people who have a civilization dating back thousands of years and clear pan-Arab nationalist thought.”

The dynamics in Egypt, though, are more complicated. While many demonstrators were secular liberals opposed to Islamist rule, many others were themselves Islamists angry that Mr. Morsi had not gone farther in pushing a religious agenda.

Syria’s state news agency, SANA, citing “an official source,” said that Mr. Morsi’s ouster proved “the incapacity of the forces of political Islam to manage the state.” The agency added, “Egypt has always been an example to follow throughout its great history, as we believe that it is important that other nations would follow this transformation to foil these futile attempts which are sins against Islam, nation, history and mankind.”

The symbolism was awkward for the Syrian opposition, as some of its most prominent Arab backers, including Saudi Arabia and even Qatar, seen as generally backing the Brotherhood, congratulated the interim president installed by the Egyptian Army.

A day earlier, anti-Assad activists had mocked Syria’s information minister, Omran al-Zoubi, for urging Mr. Morsi to realize that “the overwhelming majority of the Egyptian people want him to go,” a statement they called absurd coming from a government that has used airstrikes and artillery to quell a persistent uprising.

The Syrian National Coalition, the main exile opposition group, was meeting in Istanbul on Thursday, trying to agree on a coherent leadership and convince Western backers that it could be trusted with heavier weapons. One of the opposition’s challenges has been internal wrangling between the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and its allies with other factions who have accused them of monopolizing power.

The Muslim Brotherhood fought a bloody insurgency against Mr. Assad’s father, Hafez al-Assad, in the 1980s, culminating in a government crackdown that leveled much of the city of Hama and killed tens of thousands. That history is one reason that Mr. Assad has been able to hold on to a significant popular base.


The Neocon Plan to Attack Seven Countries in Five Years

Clark’s revelation is nothing new, although it reminds us that the attack on Libya fits into a larger context and there are horrific conflicts to come if the globalists have their way. Following the election of Obama and a reshuffling of the same old deck in Congress in 2008, it was believed the bad old days of neocon wars were finally behind us. Obama said he would close down the wars and bring home the troops. Instead, he intensified the effort to spread chaos, mayhem and mass murder in the Middle East and South Asia, thus underscoring the fact there is absolutely no difference between Democrats and Republicans when it comes to creative destruction (it is telling that the neocon Michael Leeden has used the term – creative destruction is a Marxist concept).

Clark has talked about the neocon plan on several occasions. He said the following during a speech at the University of Alabama in October of 2006, recounting a conversation with a general at the Pentagon:
I said, “Are we still going to invade Iraq?” “Yes, Sir,” he said, “but it’s worse than that.” I said, “How do you mean?” He held up this piece of paper. He said, “I just got this memo today or yesterday from the office of the Secretary of Defense upstairs. It’s a… five-year plan. We’re going to take down seven countries in five years. We’re going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan, we’re going to come back and get Iran in five years. I said, “Is that classified, that paper?” He said, “Yes Sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me, because I want to be able to talk about it.”
The neocons, of course, are merely one of a number of establishment factions, all of them reading from the same script. Obama’s attack on Libya and the impending attack on Syria under the ruse popularly known as the “Arab Spring” (pushed by elite NGOs and the CIA) is interchangeable with the Bush regime’s call to action against the Axis of Evil. The only difference between Democrat Obama and the (supposedly) Republican neocons (who have roots in Trotskyism) is that the neocons are decidedly Israeli-centric in their geopolitical stance.

The global elite do not care about Israel or any other nation-state, but are not above using the neocons – who are highly organized and motivated (despite propaganda depicting them as inept) – in their quest to destroy Arab and Muslim nationalism that directly threatens their drive for hegemonic rule (in particular, Sharia law with its restrictions on banking poses a threat to the banksters).

Syria is the next target followed by the big Kahuna, Iran. For the globalists, who are determined to wreck all nation-states and eradicate national sovereignty and borders, the fact this effort will precipitate the destruction of the “world’s policeman,” the United States, is an extra added bonus. Multiple wars in multiple and far-stretched “theaters” will ultimately bankrupt the United States, as Ron Paul and a handful of others have warned. Obama has made if perfectly clear that the U.S. will not leave Iraq and Afghanistan and plans to continue attacking Pakistan and failed states in Africa where the CIA cut-out al-Qaeda has appeared on cue. Wesley Clark’s warning is prescient, but nearly a decade too late. Clark is, at best, disingenuous because he himself a war criminal for the role he played in the slaughter of civilians in Yugoslavia.


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.


NATO plans campaign in Syria, tightens noose around Iran - Rogozin

NATO is planning a military campaign against Syria to help overthrow the regime of President Bashar al-Assad with a long-reaching goal of preparing a beachhead for an attack on Iran, Russia's envoy to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said. The UN Security Council condemned on Wednesday ongoing violence in Syria and urged the country's authorities to stop using force against peaceful protesters, while saying the current situation in the country has not yet called for NATO interference.

"[This statement] means that the planning [of the military campaign] is well underway. It could be a logical conclusion of those military and propaganda operations, which have been carried out by certain Western countries against North Africa," Rogozin said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper published on Friday. The Russian diplomat pointed out at the fact that the alliance is aiming to interfere only with the regimes "whose views do not coincide with those of the West."

Rogozin agreed with the opinion expressed by some experts that Syria and later Yemen could be NATO's last steps on the way to launch an attack on Iran. "The noose around Iran is tightening. Military planning against Iran is underway. And we are certainly concerned about an escalation of a large-scale war in this huge region," Rogozin said. Having learned the Libyan lesson, Russia "will continue to oppose a forcible resolution of the situation in Syria," he said, adding that the consequences of a large-scale conflict in North Africa would be devastating for the whole world.


Are We On the Brink of World War III?

Several commentators have pointed to the similarities between the pre-World War I era and our own. While every historical analogy is, by definition, inexact, they are right to raise the alarm.

In 1914, Europe was divided into two camps: the Entente, consisting of Britain, France, and Russia, and the Central Powers, predominantly Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire (Italy was formally a member, but went neutral when the war started, eventually joining the Entente). While this division had its roots in the long history of inter-imperialist rivalry over the acquisition of colonies in Africa and the Far East – with the “haves” being Britain and France, and the “have nots” being Germany and Austria – by the turn of the century the conflict began to re-focus on the European theater, where the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in Southeastern Europe – the Balkans – put the rival camps on a collision course.

Intent on penetrating the region and promoting its pan-Slavic agenda, Russia was fanning the flames of Serbian nationalism in the region, and the Kingdom of Serbia was the logical launching pad for this campaign. Serbia was a cauldron of ultra-nationalist sentiment, where – at the instigation of Russian agents – secret societies sprang up militantly agitating for a “Greater Serbia.” A pseudo-mystical ultra-nationalist narrative was elaborated for popular consumption, based on the idea of restoring the old “Greater Serbia” of the pre-Ottoman era, a supposedly glorious chapter in the history of the race that ended with the defeat of Prince Lazar on the famous Field of Blackbirds: Lazar died heroically, fighting off Turkish Janissaries. The great problem of the Serbian nationalists, however, was – and is – their expansive concept of what “Greater Serbia” consists of: every spot on which a Serbian Orthodox church or monastery ever existed is, today, considered Serbian territory by these radicals, and back in 1914 they were far more numerous – and powerful – than they are at the present moment. Indeed, as Ralph Raico points out:

“The immediate origins of the 1914 war lie in the twisted politics of the Kingdom of Serbia.[1] In June, 1903, Serbian army officers murdered their king and queen in the palace and threw their bodies out a window, at the same time massacring various royal relations, cabinet ministers, and members of the palace guards. It was an act that horrified and disgusted many in the civilized world. The military clique replaced the pro-Austrian Obrenovic dynasty with the anti-Austrian Karageorgevics. The new government pursued a pro-Russian, Pan-Slavist policy, and a network of secret societies sprang up, closely linked to the government, whose goal was the ‘liberation’ of the Serb subjects of Austria (and Turkey), and perhaps the other South Slavs as well.”

The foreign policy of the Serbian government, with ultra-nationalist Prime Minister Nicolas Pasic at its head, “aimed at the creation of a Greater Serbia,” writes Raico, “necessarily at the expense of Austria-Hungary.” The Russians, the British, and the French all backed the Serbs’ expansionist claims, and, with Russian help, a series of Balkan wars saw the doubling in size of the Serbian kingdom as the decibel level of Serbian revanchist agitation picked up. It was in this volatile context that a Bosnian Serb fanatic, one Gavrilo Princip, shot and killed Archduke Francis Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo. Princip and his collaborators were members of the “Black Hand,” an extreme nationalist group headed up by the chief of Serbian intelligence.

The Austrian annexation of Bosnia had added fuel to the fire, and set off a series of assassination attempts on Austrian officials by the “Black Hand.” When the Archduke visited Sarajevo, Austrian troops were massing on the Bosnian-Serbian border, backing up an Austrian demand that the Serbs renounce all claims to the territory. The Serbs complied, but the actions of Princip and his co-conspirators set off an explosion that ended with the destruction of European civilization.

What turned a regional conflict over narrowly defined issues of chiefly local interest into a global conflagration was the system of alliances and resulting intrigues that plagued world politics. I won’t go into the longstanding controversy over who bears the chief burden of “war guilt”: suffice to say here that the structural logic of the two rival alliances had an escalating effect, one that dragged the rest of Europe – and us – into the vortex of destruction. From the trenches of the Great War sprang the worst monsters of the twentieth century: fascism, national socialism, and Bolshevism. The death toll was in the millions.

In its broad outlines, we face a similar situation today. The Balkans of the new millennium is undoubtedly the Middle East, and here it is that, once again, a country imbued with a religiously-inspired vision of a “Greater” version of itself is pushing an expansionist policy, having roughly doubled its size since its inception as an independent nation. Inspired by an ideological vision that seeks to recreate a glorious past kingdom, and driven by the religious fanaticism of a militant ultra-nationalist movement, the state of Israel is the Serbia of our time – the epicenter and catalyst of the coming conflict.

Of course, the specifics are quite different: yet the broad outlines of the Balkan scenario fit the Middle East to a tee. We have the modern day Entente – the “haves,” i.e. the Western powers of the US, Britain, and France, versus the “have nots,” those being Russia, Iran, and Syria. Standing warily on the sidelines is China, a formerly “have not” nation on its way to becoming a superpower, which is increasingly tilting toward the latter. And of course the Western allies have their Middle Eastern protectorates, or what’s left of them, in Jordan, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states.

Under normal conditions, the narrowly defined issues of whether the Ba’athists should continue to rule Syria, or the status of the occupied territories of Palestine, would be of chiefly local interest. Under the conditions of inter-imperialist rivalry, however, every local ethnic-religious-territorial dispute has the potential to become an issue of global import. That’s what gave Gavrilo Princip the opportunity to fire the first shot of the Great War and achieve a malign immortality. It’s not hard to imagine a similarly explosive incident somewhere in the Middle East signaling the first volleys of World War III. The region is so crowded with tripwires that it’s only a matter of time before Uncle Sam stumbles over one and is driven by the structural logic of its alliances into a war with Iran: indeed, the first shots of that war have already been fired, in Syria, where the World War I analogy seamlessly segues into a parallel with World War II.

The end of the cold war did not lead to a “unipolar world,” as Charles Krauthammer and his fellow neocons celebrated it in the early 1990s. Instead of the “benevolent global hegemony” envisioned by Bill Kristol and Robert Kagan in their nineties foreign policy manifesto, we are back to the pre-WWI era of old-fashioned inter-imperialist rivalry. Instead of the “end of history,” we stand at the beginning of a new era of nationalism, religious fanaticism, and ideologically-driven violence. Combined with the structural incentives for conflict inherent in our system of alliances and the built-in dangers of a policy of “collective security,” this is a recipe for another world war.

In reading various accounts of the origins of World War I, I am struck by the leitmotif of unintended consequences that runs throughout that tragic story: it is a narrative of events that took on a life of their own, and created such a momentum for war that all the combatants were dragged along the road to destruction in spite of themselves.

As the Russians send missiles to Syria, and the US (and its Gulf allies) support and arm the Islamist rebels, the involvement of Iran is bound to drag in the United States sooner or later. Meanwhile, our modern day Serbians, the Israelis, are busy swallowing up ever-greater portions of the occupied territories of Palestine, and conducting bombing raids on Syrian territory. In short, the Middle East is a tinderbox, even more explosive than the Balkans of 1914 – and 2014 may mark the beginning of yet another hundred-year cycle of global conflict.


Countering Russian-Iranian Military Cooperation

Heritage, 2001

Iranian President Mohammed Khatami's recent visit to Russia resulted in expanded strategic cooperation between the two states, particularly in the areas of weapons and nuclear and ballistic missile technology. Iran already is the third largest importer of Russian arms after China and India.1 A new de facto alliance between Russia and Iran that increases Tehran's military capabilities will make this sponsor of terrorism more of a threat to vital U.S. interests in the Persian Gulf as well as to the security of America's allies in the Middle East. Moreover, by gaining nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other advanced weapons systems, Iran could one day threaten the United States directly.

Nevertheless, Moscow has ignored Washington's repeated protests over the proliferation of its advanced weaponry and technology to Iran, particularly technology that could be used in producing weapons of mass destruction (WMD). For these reasons, Khatami's visit to Moscow on March 12-15 and the agreement by Iranian officials to buy state-of-the-art Russian surface-to-air missile defense systems have greatly increased concerns in Washington over this close relationship. On March 19, Secretary of State Colin Powell issued a warning to both Russia and Iran that the United States would closely watch their military cooperation and would take unspecified action if their activities threatened to destabilize the Middle East.2

Rhetoric alone will not be enough to deter cooperation between Iran and Russia. The Bush Administration will need to employ an array of military, diplomatic, and economic measures to slow Iran's strategic buildup of weapons, deal with its radical Islamic regime, and prevent further deterioration of U.S. relations with Russia. The Administration should proceed cautiously but deliberately to:
* Maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf to deter and defend against Iranian aggression or terrorism;

* Ensure that no U.S. enterprises or government credits contribute to Iran's buildup of missiles or development of weapons of mass destruction;

* Prevent American investors from subsidizing Russian projects that generate revenue for the Iranian government that could be used to purchase advanced military technology;

* Task the interagency WMD working group at the National Security Council with designing a strategy for sanctioning Russia and Iran because of their proliferation activities;

* Support the rescheduling of Russia's $150 billion debt to the Paris Club only in exchange for Moscow's active cooperation in cutting the flow of advanced military technology to Iran and other states;

* Accelerate the development of sea-based missile defense systems to be deployed in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf;

* Strengthen U.S. military ties to the Gulf Cooperation Council, which includes Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, and encourage the council's members to form a more effective military alliance; and

* Assist the Iranian people in their quest to achieve genuine democracy.

Concerns over Russia's increasing military ties with Iran, especially in the area of weapons proliferation, have grown since 1994 when senior Iranian officials first took steps to establish relations with Russian bureaucrats in charge of nuclear and missile programs in the post-Soviet military-industrial complex. Up to $25 million changed hands to facilitate Tehran's access to Russian advanced technology.3

After intensive consultations, Vice President Al Gore and Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin on June 30, 1995, signed a confidential agreement that was supposed to limit Moscow's sales of arms to Iran. Russia agreed to supply only weapons specified under the 1989 Soviet-Iranian military agreements and promised not to deliver advanced conventional or "destabilizing" weapons to Iran. Finally, Russia agreed not to sell any weapons to Iran beyond December 31, 1999.4

With sales exceeding $4 billion between 1992 and 2000, however, Iran is now the third largest customer for Russian weapons. Among the systems Russia supplied to Iran in the 1990s are three Kilo-class attack submarines, which could be used to disrupt shipping in the Gulf; eight MiG-29 fighter bombers; 10 Su-24 fighter bombers; and hundreds of tanks and armored personnel carriers.5

In addition, the Russian Ministry of Nuclear Industry and affiliated firms may have transferred uranium enrichment technology to Iran while building a civilian nuclear reactor slated for completion in 2003 in the Gulf port of Bushehr.6 This technology is necessary in the development of nuclear bombs. Moscow has facilitated the sale of technology to Iran that is used in the manufacture of the Soviet-era SS-4 intermediate range ballistic missiles (IRBMs) and has helped Iran to develop its Shahab-3 IRBM, which has a range of 1,200 kilometers and is capable of hitting targets throughout the Middle East, including Saudi Arabia and Israel.7

Cooperation between Moscow and Tehran increased after the election of President Vladimir Putin last spring and Moscow's November 2000 renunciation of the 1995 Gore-Chernomyrdin Agreement.8 Anticipating lucrative arms sales, a large number of Russian hard-line politicians and generals have endorsed Russia's rapprochement with the Islamic Republic.9 For its part, Tehran sees Russia as a valuable source of military technology that Western states have declined to provide since Iran's 1979 revolution.10

A Boost from Official State Visits

Khatami's state visit to Moscow reciprocated the visit of Russian Defense Minister Marshal Igor Sergeev to Tehran in December 2000. Sergeev's visit, in addition to being a major breakthrough in the military relationship between the two governments, was the first visit by a Russian defense minister to the Islamic Republic since Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini seized power in 1979.

During his visit to Iran, the former commander of the Russian Strategic Rocket Forces toured Iranian aerospace, electronics, and missile facilities and consulted with top Iranian leaders on strategic cooperation in the Middle East and Central Asia.11 Sergeev and his Iranian counterpart discussed a 10-year arms and military technology program worth over $3 billion that would include training for Iranian military officers and engineers at Russian military academies. The representatives agreed that their governments would consult each other on "military doctrines, common challenges and threats," effectively bringing the status of their bilateral ties to that of an informal alliance.12 Sergeev bluntly rejected U.S. concerns about the relationship, telling the Iranian media upon his arrival in that state that "Russia...intends to pursue its own ends."13

During President Khatami's visit to Russia last month, Putin reiterated that stance, stating that Russia has the right to defend itself.14 Iranian officials toured a Russian missile factory and agreed to buy Osa and TOR-M1 surface-to-air missiles, which have missile defense capabilities. Khatami also toured a nuclear reactor plant in St. Petersburg and signaled that his country would buy another reactor from Russia. Since Iran already controls some of the world's largest natural gas reserves, the need for two nuclear reactors--at a cost of $1.8 billion--is questionable at best. The reactors could provide cover for a clandestine nuclear weapons program, which could make use of Iranian scientists who currently are studying nuclear physics and ballistic rocketry in Russia and the more than 500 Russian experts currently working in Iran on supposedly peaceful applications of nuclear science.


Moscow has two strategic goals in pursuing a military relationship with Iran: keeping its own military-industrial complex solvent and building a coalition in Eurasia to counterbalance U.S. military superiority. Russia has found in Iran a large, oil-rich customer for its military-industrial complex, which supports over 2 million jobs. Russian leaders hoped the export revenues would allow them to save the research and development capabilities and technology base they inherited from the Soviet Union that could be used to develop new major weapons systems for the Russian armed forces and foreign customers. To achieve economies of scale, however, Russia needs access to large arms markets, such as China, India, and Iran.

The state-owned arms exporter, Rosoboronexport, is pursuing such former Soviet clients in the Middle East as Algeria, Libya, and Syria and is developing markets for arms in Latin America and East Asia, from Malaysia to Vietnam. Senior Russian officials reportedly have taken bribes from foreign customers anxious to gain access to Russia's sensitive technologies.15 Moreover, direct payments from foreign customers are often put in offshore bank accounts, from which some funds find their way into private pockets.

More worrisome for U.S. policy planners is the geopolitical dimension of Russian-Iranian rapprochement. In early 1997, then-Foreign Minister Evgeny Primakov and his Iranian counterpart, Ali Akbar Velayati, issued a joint statement calling the U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf "totally unacceptable." Primakov sought to build a Eurasian counterbalance to the Euro-Atlantic alliance, which would be based on a coalition that included Russia, China, India, and Iran.16 Such efforts make it likely that the United States and its allies will be the target of Russian-Iranian military cooperation in the future.

The Russian Federation and the Islamic Republic cooperate over a broad range of policy issues, with military ties being an important aspect of relations between the two countries. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Iran has refrained from actively promoting its brand of Islamic radicalism in the former Soviet republics. Despite fashioning itself as defender of all Muslims, Tehran did little when the Russian military slaughtered tens of thousands of Muslim civilians in the first Chechen war (1994-1996), and it put forth only weak protestations against Moscow's excessive use of force in the second Chechen war (1999-2001). Moscow and Tehran also have cooperated against Afghanistan's radical Taliban regime by supporting the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance opposition coalition; support Armenia rather than the pro-Turkish, pro-Western Azerbaijan; and oppose a "western" route for exporting oil from the Caspian Sea basin through Georgia to Turkey.

Some Russian officials, however, recognize that cooperation with Iran has its limits. As arms control expert Alexei Arbatov, Deputy Chairman of the Duma Defense Committee, has warned, technology transfers to Iran may backfire. Within 10 to 15 years, he predicts, Russian technology could be used by radical Islamic terrorists or in Iranian, Algerian, Saudi, Egyptian, and Libyan missiles and other weapons aimed at Russia.17


Iran's military buildup poses direct threats to U.S. interests in the Middle East.18 Iran has long aspired to play a dominant role in the Middle East and the Islamic world. Under the late Shah as well as the current radical Islamic leadership, Iran has sought to build its military capabilities and its ability to defend itself against Iraq. However, its aspirations go beyond legitimate self-defense. Islamic militants in Iran make little effort to hide the fact that they want to destroy the United States and its ally, Israel.

For example, senior Iranian officials, including the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamanei, repeatedly have denied Israel's right to exist. In a 1998 parade in Tehran, a Shahab-3 missile carrier prominently displayed an inscription that read, "Israel should be wiped off the map."19 By opposing Arab-Israeli peace negotiations and maintaining a militant anti-Israeli posture, Tehran hopes to build support for its leadership role in the Arab and Muslim world. Iran also backs the Hezballah (Party of God) terrorist organization that is based in Lebanon.

A more aggressive, nuclear Iran would cause further political instability that could lead to high oil prices, which would benefit both Russia and Iran as oil exporters. Moreover, a nuclear- and missile-armed Iran could well present a serious challenge to America's allies and major oil exporters in the Gulf. Iran could use its missile capabilities to blackmail the West, deter the United States and its allies from deploying forces to defend oil shipping routes, or deny the U.S. Navy access to the Gulf itself.

According to Admiral Thomas R. Wilson, Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Tehran is "not unlikely" to re-export the sensitive Russian technology for weapons of mass destruction it obtains to militant Muslim regimes or terrorist groups in other countries, from Algeria to Sudan.20 If America's efforts to limit the proliferation of weapons and weapons technologies from China, Russia, and other countries to Iran fail, the United States will have little recourse but to impose sanctions on the violators and take other measures to punish countries that proliferate weapons of mass destruction.


The Bush Administration faces many challenges in dealing with the issue of strategic military cooperation between Russia and Iran. It inherited an ineffective policy from the Clinton Administration, which attempted to reason with Russia to limit arms proliferation to Iran. Although the United States spent $5 billion to secure Russia's nuclear arsenal, Moscow still sold its sensitive nuclear and ballistic technology to China, Iran, and other states of concern. In addition, American companies paid Russia $2 billion for commercial satellite launches authorized by the Clinton White House as compensation for Moscow's agreement to give up its arms trade with Tehran.21 Finally, President Clinton waived congressionally mandated sanctions against the suppliers of weapons and military technology to countries that support terrorism.

Congress attempted to limit the damage from these ill-advised Clinton Administration policies by imposing sanctions on companies that do business in Iran. In 1998, Congress overwhelmingly passed the Iran Missile Proliferation Sanctions Act (H.R. 2709) sponsored by Representative Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), chairman of the House International Relations Committee.22 The act mandated that the President report to Congress when there is credible information that a foreign entity has transferred any technology that is governed by the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). All licensed exports, sales of defense items, and U.S. government financial assistance to that entity would then be terminated. However, President Clinton vetoed that legislation in June 1998. Instead, he issued Executive Order 12938 to assign penalties to companies that provide assistance to nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs.23

Nevertheless, Congress insisted on stronger steps and passed the Iran Nonproliferation Act (P.L. 106-178), which was signed into law on March 14, 2000. This law authorizes, rather than mandates, the President to impose sanctions on Russian entities that assist Iran's missile or weapons of mass destruction programs. These sanctions include a ban on U.S. government procurement from or contracts with the entity, a ban on U.S. assistance to the entity, a ban on U.S. sales to the entity of any defense articles or services, and a denial of U.S. licenses for exports to the entity of items that can have military applications.

The Clinton Administration's counter-proliferation policy was too little, too late. It has neither limited the willingness of states or companies to sell advanced technology to Iran nor stopped the flow of forbidden items and technicians. Until the regime in Tehran abandons its anti-American stance or the Iranian people replace it with a democratic government, tensions between Iran and the United States and its allies are likely to remain high.

To staunch the transfer of Russian weapons and missile technology to Iran, the United States should develop a counter-proliferation policy that is deliberate, vigilant, and aggressive. Specifically, it should:

* Maintain a strong U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf to deter and defend against military threats from Iran. Since the 1979 Islamic revolution, Iran has targeted Arab monarchies in the Persian Gulf with terrorism and subversion. It has sought to intimidate smaller neighbors with periodic naval exercises and has seized three islands claimed by the United Arab Emirates. To deter Iran from aggression and protect the free flow of oil exports, the United States must maintain a robust naval presence in the Gulf. As long as the United States stands by its allies, the chances of attack from Iran are low. A vigilant and robust naval presence in the Gulf would deter Iranian aggression, reassure nervous Arab states that the United States is committed to peace in the region, and help contain Iraq. The United States currently has deployed forces in Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, and it has pre-positioned military equipment in Qatar. The United States should deploy as few ground troops as necessary in the region to avoid a political backlash that Iran, Iraq, or local anti-Western movements could exploit. U.S. naval forces should limit their time in port and restrict refueling and resupply operations to only the most secure facilities to reduce their vulnerability to terrorist attack.

* Ensure that U.S. enterprises and government credits do not contribute in any way to Iran's buildup of missiles or weapons of mass destruction programs. The United States should expand sanctions against Russian companies and institutions that help Iran build missiles or that transfer weapons technology. They should be forced to choose between trading with America or aiding Iran. Under the Anti-Terrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-132), the President can withhold U.S. aid to any country that provides assistance to a government that the State Department deems a terrorist state. Iran has been on the U.S. terrorism list since 1984, and the State Department lists it as the most active state sponsor of international terrorism in its April 2000 Patterns of Global Terrorism report.24 Finally, the Administration should suspend all Export-Import Bank and Overseas Private Investment Corporation insurance and credits to U.S. companies that do business with Russian entities that are linked to Iran's military build-up activities.

* Prevent U.S. investors from subsidizing Russian projects that could generate revenue for Iran, which Tehran could use to obtain advanced military technology. Russian companies investing in Iran should not be allowed to raise capital in U.S. financial markets. The Securities and Exchange Commission should deny U.S. investors access to Russian companies that do business in Iran. Such investment, particularly in Iran's energy sector, would generate revenue for Tehran that could be used to buy military technology and weapons systems from foreign suppliers. U.S. sanctions under the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act (P.L. 104-172) penalize companies that invest over $20 million in Iran's oil industry. However, these measures should be amended and expanded when the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act comes up for renewal later this year. For example, the waiver provisions should be toughened by excluding a presidential waiver for any company from a country that sells arms or nuclear equipment to Iran. Russian government-controlled companies, such as the natural gas monopoly Gazprom, should not be allowed to raise funds from U.S. investors for energy schemes in Iran, since they could fund its military buildup and ultimately could be used to threaten U.S. interests in the region.

* Task the interagency WMD working group at the National Security Council with designing a strategy for sanctioning Russia and Iran because of their proliferation activities. In the past, Congress has taken the lead in mandating sanctions against proliferators of WMD and related technologies. These sanctions, however, were narrowly focused on U.S. assistance or trade in goods and services, and have proven ineffective in stopping proliferation. A new approach by the Administration is necessary. The intelligence community should be tasked with a comprehensive assessment of the ongoing technology transfer and weapons programs, and with providing recommendations identifying "choking points" that are vulnerable to sanctions.

The current WMD working group at the NSC should be tasked with developing a sanctions strategy that targets Russian and Iranian officials, businesses, and individuals involved in the proliferation of WMD technologies, materiel, or know-how, as well as their sources of financing. This strategy could include restrictions on access to U.S. capital markets, scrutiny of international investment and banking activities by violators, and stricter visa controls for the individuals involved. The working group should include representatives from the Department of State; the Department of Defense; the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN) and U.S. Customs Service within the Department of the Treasury; and (to control the visa regime for officials and business executives) the Immigration and Naturalization Service within the Department of Justice.

* Support the rescheduling of Russia's $150 billion debt to the Paris Club only in exchange for its active cooperation in cutting the flow of advanced military technology to Iran. The Administration should make clear that it opposes further rescheduling of Russian debt to the Paris Club as long as Moscow continues to export dangerous military technology to Iran. If Russia were to cooperate in stopping the flow of weapons technology to Iran, Washington should support debt rescheduling with full disclosure of past transactions. Disclosure of other proliferation activities, such as Russia's sales of advanced nuclear and ballistic missile technology to China and rogue states like Iraq, should also be included in any deal on debt rescheduling.

* Accelerate the deployment of sea-based missile defense systems on U.S. ships in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf. Washington should cooperate with Israel and Turkey in the Mediterranean region and the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to deploy a sea-based anti-ballistic missile system, the upgraded Navy Theater Wide (NTW) program, on U.S. ships. Once deployed, such a system would blunt the emerging threat of Iranian missile attack and bolster the ability of America's allies in the region to withstand Tehran's attempts at intimidation.

* Strengthen U.S. military ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council to help it become a more effective military alliance. Washington should assist the members of the Gulf Cooperation Council--Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates--in transforming their loose collective security arrangement into an effective military alliance. It can do so by expanding joint military exercises and defense planning; assuring the continuous stockpiling of military supplies in the region; helping the GCC members to integrate their command, control, and communications networks; and assisting them in coordinating their military training programs. The Gulf states should speed up execution of the Cooperative Defense Initiative to enhance interoperability. They also should improve control of airspace over the Gulf by accelerating work on an integrated civilian-military air traffic control system. Bolstering the GCC would lessen Iran's ability to intimidate its weaker neighbors and would enhance efforts to contain both Iran and Iraq.

* Assist the Iranian people in their quest to achieve genuine democracy. Despite the reform efforts of President Khatami, the current regime under Ayatollah Ali Khamanei remains a harsh dictatorship of radical Islamic ideologues. The Bush Administration should work with U.S. allies and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to expose the regime's human rights violations. It should support the creation of an international network of NGOs concerned with the plight of Iranian students, businessmen, national and ethnic minorities, and women, the main supporters of reform who voted for President Khatami in 1997 and for reformers during the 2000 parliamentary elections. Washington should help Iranians gain access to uncensored information by expanding the broadcasting range and frequencies of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America. This strategy, implemented under President Ronald Reagan in Soviet-dominated Eastern Europe, proved highly successful. Applied to Iran, it could lead to the ascendancy of democratic forms of government and leadership.


Russian assistance to Iran in developing ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction increasingly threatens U.S. interests, U.S. forces, and U.S. allies in the Middle East. Should Iran develop a nuclear arsenal, it could use it to deny the United States access to strategically important Persian Gulf shipping lanes and to interfere with the export of oil, wreaking havoc in global energy markets. In the longer term, it could use its missiles to threaten U.S. territory directly. The Administration must develop a comprehensive strategy that relies on pro-active diplomacy, creative economic countermeasures, and innovative military responses to address this growing threat from Iran.