The ‘Bosnian Spring’ Between Chances

February 13, 2014

Bosnia-Herzegovina (BiH) is an artificial administrative creature made by foreign powers in Dayton agreement on 1995. It has two political semi-independent entities (federal units) – Serb dominated Republika Srpska (RS) and Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) inhabited mainly by Croats and Bosniacs. The 2014 unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina began in the northern town of Tuzla on 3 February 2014, but quickly spread to multiple cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, including Sarajevo, for social reasons with the aim of overthrowing the government. The riots are the most violent scenes the country has seen since the end of the Bosnian War. 

Bosnian flag with explanation

The three points of the triangle represent the nation’s three ethnic groups: Bosniaks, Croats, and Serbs. The triangle itself represents the geographic shape of the nation itself. The colors represent neutrality and peace, whereas the stars represent Europe.

Over the last several days Bosnia and Herzegovina saw widespread unrest as protesters clashed with police and burn government buildings, leaving scores injured and arrested, mainly in the ethnically mixed parts of Bosnia that are governed by the Muslim-Croat Federation (FBiH), while minor protests took place also in the Republika Srpska (RS) towns of Banja Luka and Bijeljina. 30 years ago Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympic Games, now however instead of the Olympic flame Bosnians cheered to the flames that engulfed government buildings.

Cumbersome system without national identity

Despite international community’s state building efforts in Bosnia the country is splitting parts, Since war foreign aid has exceed USD 90 bn for this artificial creature designed in Dayton agreement aiming multi-ethnic state with EU perspective. As a result Bosnia is now even more divided, with less national identity, 20 percent of population living under the poverty line, with a nightmare triple administration plus international supervising making the country one of the worst place in Europe to do business west of Ukraine (according WB ease of doing business index), even as it seeks to join the European Union. The EU has demanded that if Bosnia wishes to join to EU, it must create a stronger central government. Negotiations – led by EU and U.S over constitutional changes to strengthen the central government have been long and unsuccessful.

The 10 cantons of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina serve as the second-level units of local autonomy and federal units of the of FBiH while the other political entity of BiH, the Republika Srpska (RS), has a centralized government and is divided directly into 63 municipalities. In addition the ethnically diverse Brčko District is a division of its own under the direct jurisdiction of BiH. One peculiar aspect in BiH administration is discriminatory election process based to Dayton scribble. Bosnia’s constitution allows only the members of the Constituent Peoples – ethnic Serbs, Croats and Bosniaks (Muslims) – to stand for election to either the three-member Presidency or the House of Peoples. Non-constituent Peoples – defined in the Constitution as ‘Others’ like Jewish and Roma people – can only stand for election to the lower house, being denied their right to full participation in the political process.

The political crisis which has escalated in Bosnia and Herzegovina since 2006, degenerated after the 2010 elections into an all-out political war in which each and every party – or even party faction – fought each other in various combinations, making and breaking alliances on almost daily level. This situation blocked the country’s reform agenda and forced the EU to halt the accession process, suspend 47 million euro of pre-accession funds for 2013 and postpone preparations for a new pre-accession package that was supposed to provide hundreds of millions of euros in grants for the period 2014-2020. Political chaos was also directly reflected in the economic and social situation, with rampant unemployment rates and rising poverty levels.

Roots of protests

Can any country survive without some minimal mutual self-identification across its citizens as a whole? If the shared non-ethnic Bosnian identity is taking steps backwards does this not mean that this artificial western desk-drawer plan is doomed to fail? I am afraid so but maybe it is loss only for those top-level designers not for local population. (More e.g. in Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution )

Social divide in BosniaSome sights about anger among ordinary Bosnian citizens have been seen during last couple of years. The tragic massacre in Srebrenica on July 11th1995, has ever since been traditionally used by the Bosniac and Serb leaders as a valuable propaganda resource for promoting religious and national divisions between the Bosniac and Serb population. In 2012, the rulers and their foreign sponsors were in for another surprise from the masses – and on the day of their perfect end-of-history-type ceremony, of all places. This July 11th, at the Srebrenica massacre commemoration in the Potočari Memorial Centre, the victims’ families demanded that no politicians give speeches. When that was ignored, the masses reacted with loud whistles and curses directed at the leaders of Bosnian parties. The loudest whistle was reportedly received by none other than the American ambassador to Bosnia.

The Bosnian government is notorious for not taking decisions partly due competing interests of the entities. In 2013 some protests started after the constitutional court ruled that the current law on ID numbers is unconstitutional and the government was unable to propose a solution, resulting in newborns not being able to receive official documents like passports and are thus unable to travel even when for example in one case there was need to get urgent medical treatment abroad. Also similar case was the dispute in Bosnia about veterinary and sanitary inspections. As Bosnian politicians were unable to agree on who is to carry out the inspections, thousands of Bosnian farmers could not export their dairy products to Croatia once it came EU-member with more rigid controls.

The Bosnian Spring turned violent

Since the 1990s, all levels of government have shown utmost insensitivity to the social and economic destitution of citizens, youth, and particularly marginalised social categories. This kind of systemic institutional violence, political abuse of power, incompetence and neglect has planted seeds of anger and frustration. For nearly twenty years people of BiH have suffered under the administration of a vicious cabal of political oligarchs who have used ethno-nationalist rhetoric to obscure the plunder of BiH’s public coffers. (More eg from Al Jazeera Balkans, who maybe has the the best reporting on the events)

Bosnian demonstrations in 2014

Whatever the roots of protests are it seems clear that now people say out loud that they have had enough of poverty, indifferent authorities, rotten values in society, bad governance and outside masterminding. Dissatisfaction with the economic and political system in the country has pushed diverse groups to unite in protest.

The protests began in Tuzla, organised by the workers of former state companies, who protested against not only the closure of companies, but also corrupt privatisation processes. These groups voiced their grievances already January 2014, demanding resignations and broader changes within the economic and social system.

On February 4th 2014 protests gained momentum when other societal groups like citizen’s associations, youth, pensioners and war veterans came out on the streets with workers in Tuzla and later in Sarajevo, Mostar, Zenica and other cities too. The events were similar like earlier during “Arab Spring” as the demonstrations involved many different groups of people and were not centrally organised. While organizations differed their demands were similar: government resignations, reduction of salaries for high-ranking government officials, free and quality social services, etc.

Thousands of disgruntled workers, demobilized soldiers and unemployed youth poured onto the streets as angry protests were spreading from Tuzla to other parts of FBiH. In Tuzla the situation quickly ran out control after thousands of protesters surrounded the cantonal government building. Police started firing tear gas and flash-bang grenades but after a brief clash with demonstrators, police special forces retreated and a number of protesters entered the abandoned government building and started ransacking and burning it. So far heads or governments in four cantons have resigned. Large amounts of historical documents were lost when sections of the Archives of Bosnia and Herzegovina were set on fire.

Dissatisfaction with a political system that does not work for the people of the country is vast and growing. Eighteen years of evidence has demonstrated that the constitutional and electoral systems put into place to end the war have worked well for the political elites for and their elaborate systems of patronage. But the rest of the country – the overwhelming majority of citizens of all national persuasions – has been left out. Public opinion polls conducted in 2013 show a clear foundation for reform, and show that all citizens – Bosniaks, Croats, Serbs and the oft-neglected “others” – want constitutional reforms based on real issues and interests, which break the stranglehold of the parties that dominate political and economic life.

Class struggle instead of ethnic one

The roots of the present protests in Bosnia-Hercegovina are more based on social questions than ethnic intolerance like before. After bloodshed in the country in the 1990s there was some violence for example between Croats and Bosniacs. Beside this ethnic tension there has been now nearly two decades of privatisation, plunder and peripheral gangster capitalism, as well as the constant humiliation by the structures of the Western guidance – Office of the High Representative (OHR).

The younger generations took to the streets in the manner of protesters of “Arab Spring” a couple of years ago demanding some form of change in their living conditions and ousting the ruling elite. After Tuzla the feeling of empowerment spread throughout Bosnia like wildfire, mostly with the help of Facebook, Twitter and other social media, like in “Twitter or Color revolutions” seen earlier in Iran, Moldova etc. Although the movement originated in the workers’ protests in Tuzla, organised labour has so far not taken a lead nor any political party. Demonstrations started as spontaneous outbursts of popular anger without clear class or ethnic line.

After Tuzla people in more than 30 Bosnian cities protested demanding better living standards and government resignations. The widespread unrest saw protesters clash with police and burn government buildings, leaving scores injured and arrested. (More e.g in BalkanInsight )

Earlier dispute was between Serbs and Bosniaks as well between Bosniaks and Croats and ethnic divisions are deepening at time when Bosnia-Herzegovina is on the stage of transition from an international protectorate to one responsible for its own reform dynamics. The recent unrest is making new more severe division between the ruling elite and the rest of population. Instead of developing its “European perspective”, Bosnia-Herzegovina going backwards remaining an unwelcome, dysfunctional and divided country, with an aggrieved Bosniak (Muslim) plurality, a frustrated, increasingly defensive Serb entity, and an anxious, existentially threatened Croat population. (More about Dayton and situation in BiH e.g. in my article “Bosnia Collapsing)

The protests were primarily carried by Bosniaks, the Muslims and took place in the Federation and in areas with a Bosniak majority. With this overall observation one should note that the protests also took place in Brčko and Mostar, two cities that are multiethnic.Violence in Mostar against the city and cantonal administration and the HQs of the two dominant ethnonationalist parties SDA and HDZ is significant. There is no doubt that the institutions of the Croat-Bosnian FBiH are more dysfunctional than the Serbian RS with its cantons. In the RS, the government has been more successful in buying social peace and controlling the public space.

Demonstration from demonstrators perspective can be followed from their FB-site .

Bosnia uprising 2014 map

Avoiding the “Arab Spring” failure

After spontaneous uprising the masses managed to formulate at least in Tuzla common demands to express their fundamental interests as seen in Declaration of Workers and Citizens of the Tuzla Canton:

Declaration of Workers and Citizens of the Tuzla Canton

7 February 2014. Today in Tuzla a new future is being created! The [local] government has submitted its resignation, which means that the first demand of the protestors has been met and that the conditions for solving existing problems have been attained. Accumulated anger and rage are the causes of aggressive behaviour. The attitude of the authorities has created the conditions for anger and rage to escalate.Now, in this new situation, we wish to direct the anger and rage into the building of a productive and useful system of government. We call on all citizens to support the realization of the following goals:

1) Maintaining public order and peace in cooperation with citizens, the police and civil protection, in order to avoid any criminalization, politicization, and any manipulation of the protests.

2) The establishment of a technical government, composed of expert, non-political, uncompromised members. [They should be people] who have held no position at any level of government and would lead the Canton of Tuzla until the 2014 elections. This government should be required to submit weekly plans and reports about its work and to fulfil its proclaimed goals. The work of the government will be followed by all interested citizens.

3) Resolving, through an expedited procedure, all questions relating to the privatization of the following firms: Dita, Polihem, Poliolhem, Gumara, and Konjuh. The [government] should:

+ Recognize seniority and secure health insurance of the workers.
+ Process instances of economic crimes and all those involved in it.
+ Confiscate illegally obtained property.
+ Annul the privatization agreements [for these firms].
+ Prepare a revision of the privatization.
+ Return the factories to the workers and put everything under the control of the public government in order to protect the public interest, and to start production in those factories where it is possible.

4) Equalizing the pay of government representatives with the pay of workers in the public and private sector.

5) Eliminating additional payments to government representatives, in addition to their income, as a result of their participation in commissions, committees and other bodies, as well as other irrational and unjustified forms of compensation beyond those that all employees have a right to.

6) Eliminating salaries for ministers and eventually other state employees following the termination of their mandates.

This declaration is put forward by the workers and citizens of the Tuzla Canton, for the good of all of us.”

To save the achieved results of uprising and to keep the dynamic of the movement alive on grassroots there is some guidelines made by Tuzla activists:

Proclamation to the people of Tuzla from The Marxist organization Crveni:

The cantonal government of Tuzla has fallen, but a new one can be set up tomorrow! The prime minister resigned, but the tycoons remained! Some functions are lost, but bank accounts are still intact! The victory you just won can only be preserved through further victories!

In order to achieve this, it is of upmost importance and urgency to take the following steps:

1. Do not leave the streets! Do not go back to your homes, because in all likelihood you will find new formations of armed forces on the streets when you wake up tomorrow. Stay in touch with each other and do not let yourselves get arrested and isolated as individuals!

2. Enforce order and discipline on the streets yourselves. Violence is only useful if it is not mindless and when it is utilised for the defence of the people against government despotism. Don’t allow small-time thugs and police provocateurs to sabotage the protests by looting or by causing mayhem and fear. The city is yours – let it function under your supervision and for your own benefit.

3. Organize popular councils in your neighbourhoods, based on direct democracy and the imperative mandate of delegates. Establish a democracy that you deserve! The existing parliamentary structures have shown themselves as a cesspool of corruption and nepotism and as a springboard for the personal enrichment for the oligarchs and those politicians on their payroll. Your struggle has above all else shown that it is only the organized masses of working people who can establish order in the interest of the majority. So establish that order and do not let anyone impose someone else’s patronage over you again!

4. Demand the return of economic power into the hands of the people and democratic control over the economy! The oligarchs, who flatter themselves as “job creators” – although it was because of them that tens of thousands lost their jobs – have already shown what happens when you leave the economy in their hands. Demand the annulment of all privatizations of big industry and the financial sector, as well as the placing of factories, mines and banks under democratic control of the popular councils! Should the federal government refuse to comply, enforce these demands yourselves – you’ve already shown that you can!

5. Do not buy into the politicians’ ruses such as their “patriotic” slogans! Do not allow the social revolt to turn into an ethnic conflict! The political and economic elite now counts on a conflict between the protests within the two entities and between the cantons that have a Bosniak and Croatian majorities. Do not let yourselves be deceived! The question of the cantons and entities has to be settled as the result of a democratic decision of all citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Such a resolution is only possible after a people’s government, led by the masses of all Bosnian peoples, has been established.

Reactions

Surely, the recent events must have terrified the ruling elite, as well as the foreign occupation structures, neighbours too are shaken as similar problems are reality in Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia (FYROM) too. The current EU’s High Representative Valentin Inzko has even threatened to send EU-troops (EUFOR) to calm situation.Use of violence during the protests, the burning of buildings and finally of a part of the archives of Bosnia in the presidency building have led to media and politicians in and outside Bosnia label protestors as “hooligans”. This underestimates protestors as many citizens who went to the streets feel that they cannot change the government through elections and they have good arguments to think so. There was not looting and violence of the protests was directed at buildings of the government, in particular cantonal administrations, the state presidency and some political party offices.

Serbian government vice president Aleksandar Vucic held a meeting in Belgrade with Milorad Dodik, president of RS to discus the ongoing unrest in Bosnia and Herzegovina. “Serbia as a signatory country of the Dayton Agreement is interested in the stability of the region and is advocating resolving conflicts peacefully and in a democratic way,” Vucic said at a joint press conference held after the meeting. “There is no need to resolve problems by setting fire to public buildings and beating police officers,” Vucic added. According to the president of Repubika Srpska, Milorad Dodik, the aim of the protests is “also to destabilize Repubika Srpska and further involve the international community” in the country’s politics.

Croatian Prime Minister Zoran Milanovic visited Mostar, a town in Herzegovina, where Croats are in the majority, saying that he came to call for the peaceful resolution of the unrest. “I came here to calm the situation,” said Milanovic, adding that the protests are result of the incoherent policy of European Union, which doesn’t know what to do with Bosnia. Meanwhile most Bosnian Croats see Mostar as their “capital” and many of them have a vision about forming a third, Croat-dominated, entity in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Both Serbia and Croatia are signatories of 1995 Dayton Agreement which ended the 1990s war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The international response to the protests has been confused, displaying the gap between international actors and the reality on the ground. The EU, its officials and EU’s foreign ministers repeated the phrase that citizens should have the right to protest, but that they should remain peaceful.

Way forward

The country’s asymmetric entity structure has left one entity, Republika Srpska, with a unitary structure and a strong notion of statehood, while Bosniaks and Croats are forced together into the other entity, FBiH, an unwieldy improvisation governed by hundreds of ministers. As result the systemic gap between the two entities renders the country disintegrated and administratively dysfunctional. A radical way out from situation could be dissolution of the whole BiH, integrate RS with Serbia, FBiH’s Croat dominated cantons with Croatia while Bosniac dominated cantons could seek their national identity from the rest of Bosnia.

From my point of view the protests which indeed have succeed to change rulers at regional level I see, opposing EU’s centralized dreams, now possibilities to create a new “lighter” administrative system, based to cantons in FBiH and stronger local level administration in RS. So Bosnian Spring in best case may give a boost to more decentralized and administrative easier Bosnia, which also can be kept less corrupted and more democratic.

It is impossible to guess the outcome but from my perspective Bosnia is now between changes. People in many towns have demonstrated that together they can have influence at local level. Together without ethnic or religious tensions they can avoid failure like it happened with “Arab Spring”. What is clear is that the current political elites, at least in the Federation, have widely lost their legitimacy. It also for the first time politicians became afraid of citizens, some cantonal governments resigned and some reportedly even left the country. A wider impact might be that the ruling class in Zagreb and Belgrade, fearing what this might mean for Croatia and Serbia respectively, immediately took political action. The reactionaries will try to undermine the impact of recent events, but the wheels of history cannot be driven backwards. There is real change for progress by creating new power-structures at local level.

On the opposite there is also change that counter-move by centralized establishment will win with help of EU and US. Bosnia has struggled under the most cumbersome political system in Europe created by the American-brokered and EU-backed Dayton peace accords. Constitutional reforms are needed and apparent political stability should be replaced by a new long-term strategy. However, if they are again conducted by the same power elite than before, the results will again lack the democratic legitimacy and nothing will change. In my opinion a new kind of engagement by both the US and the European Union is needed to replace the failed policies and approaches in Bosnia. EU and US should take new approach with Bosnia, the protests should be welcomed, old power structures and elite ousted and real implementation and progress led by masses at local grassroots level facilitated. By this way I think that “Bosnian Spring” could be flowering.

Small fishes win one big one


Syria Updates: The New Islamic Front And Whodunnit III

December 20, 2013

As the Saudi backed plan to seduce US into military intervention against Syria failed due Russia’s successful initiative about destruction Syria’s chemical weapons some new developments e.g. in form of the new Islamic Front are ongoing as well investigative reporting brings more light to the question whodunnit in Damascus on Aug. 2013.

costs of war project Brown university

The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—along with certain Arab League countries, plus Turkey and Israel, have early December 2013 committed themselves to raising nearly $6 billion seed money for new Islamic Front (IF) in Syria. This coalition wants also USA to particapate onto a plan to oust the Syrian government by funding, arming, training and facilitating a front formed out of an alliance of seven “moderate” rebel factions. Beside of toppling the Assad regime the other benefit would be truncating Iran’s growing influence.

$6 billion might look big investment. However the ”marketing slogan” for US involvement is ”better six billon than six trillion”. The claim is well based to the definitive Brown University study (The Costs of War project), which examined costs of the US wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the total amount for all three topped six trillion dollars . This never before released figure includes costs of direct and indirect Congressional appropriations, lost equipment, US military and foreign contractors fraud, and the cost of caring for wounded American servicemen and their families (war costs to date 4 trillion + interest rates 2 trillion for 40 years). In this sense few billions US money for IF could be a good bargain.

In June 2011, the Costs of War project, a scholarly initiative of Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, produced the first comprehensive analysis of a decade of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. The Costs of War Project analyzes the implications of these wars in the United States and internationally in terms of human casualties, economic costs, and civil liberties.

In June 2011, the Costs of War project, a scholarly initiative of Brown University’s Watson Institute for International Studies, produced the first comprehensive analysis of a decade of wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan. The Costs of War Project analyzes the implications of these wars in the United States and internationally in terms of human casualties, economic costs, and civil liberties.

The new Islamic Front

Among the Islamist militia joining the new Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)-backed coalition are Aleppo’s biggest fighting force, Liwa al-Tawhid (Tawhid Brigade), the Salafist group Ahrar al-Sham, Suqour al-Sham, al-Haq Brigades, Ansar al-Sham and the Islamic Army, which is centered around Damascus. The Kurdish Islamic Front also reportedly joined the alliance. None of these groups have been designated foreign terrorist organizations by the US, and therefore, as an Israeli official argued in a meeting with AIPAC and Congress this week, nothing stands in the way of US funding and support for them. IF’s declared aim is to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government, whatever the human and material cost it may require, and replace it with an “Islamic state.”

Al-Qaeda CIA sponsored creatureThis combined force – IF – is estimated by the CIA to number at around 75,000 fightersthat will fight under one command. What is not included to this new front is other Muslim militia—Daash or al-Nusra or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for instance—that comprise the IF’s chief rivals.

According to sources in Aleppo and Damascus, the IF’s top leadership positions have been parceled out among five of the seven groups. Four days after the IF was announced, the organization released an official charter. The charter calls for an Islamic state and the implementation of sharia law, though it does not define exactly what this means. The IF is firmly against secularism, human legislation (i.e., it believes that laws come from God, not people), civil government, and a Kurdish breakaway state. The charter states that the group will secure minority rights in post-Assad Syria based on sharia, which could mean the dhimma (“protected peoples”) system, or de facto second-class citizenship for Christians and other minorities.

Rebel groups of the Islamic Front in Syria Figure credit: Institute for the Study of War Syria

Figure credit: Institute for the Study of War Syria

Some Washington officials and analysts are wondering if US participation would help unify notoriously hostile rebel ranks and curtail the growing power of al-Qaeda in Syria, or whether it is simply another Saudi project to create a hierarchical revolutionary army with the aim of fighting the Syrian regime essentially alongside al-Qaeda? (Source: Bibi and Bandar Badger Obama: Better Six Billion than Six Trillion!  by Franklin Lamb – TRANSCEND Media Service)

A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda. While the initial conflict was disingenuously portrayed as the spontaneous militarization of unarmed protesters fighting against a “brutal regime,” in reality Al Nusra was already inside the country and operating on a national scale. The US State Department itself would reveal this in its December 2012 Terrorist Designations of the al-Nusrah Front as an Alias for al-Qa’ida in Iraq, which stated:

Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.

The terror implemented by those groups who are not included to the new Islamic Front continues against civilians. Recently Al-Qaeda linked Islamists have kidnapped at least 120 Kurdish civilians from a village in Aleppo province near the border with Turkey, Observatory for Human Rights reported. The incident is the latest in the armed conflict between Syrian Kurds and Islamic factions. 51 Kurdish civilians from the towns of Manbij and Jarablus, northeast of Aleppo, have been kidnapped by Islamist fighters since the beginning of December.

The armed opposition has been opportunistic and bloody from the start, targeting security forces, on and off duty, and pro-government civilians since March 2011. While there were indeed Syrian army defectors who joined the “revolution” early on in the conflict in response to government clampdowns and/or their own genuine political sentiments, much of the armed rebellion has been funded, assisted and organized from outside Syria’s borders. It is known, that non-Syrians were entering the country right from the beginning. These people were provided with wages, weapons, intelligence and training, with the expectation that a hard thrust against al-Assad’s government would unseat him in short shrift, much like what had already happened in other Arab states.

This opposition has been funded and assembled by foreign foes of Syria for geopolitical gain. Their goal was to unseat a “dictator” so that they could then come in and establish their own foreign-backed “dictatorship” at the heart of the Resistance Axis. The reason this opposition has never been able to articulate a cohesive, inclusive, political platform for the Syrian people is because they are all backed by different, sometimes competing, interests, and because their goal is not a politically reformed Syria, but instead the establishment of their own power and economic bases.

The new UN report

“The United Nations Mission concludes that chemical weapons have been used in the ongoing conflict between the parties in the Syrian Arab Republic,” (Åke Sellstrom, chief UN investigator )

A new UN report states that in addition to the widely publicised chemical weapons attack on August 21 near Damascus, such weapons were probably used in four other locations in Syria between March and late August. The findings show that in at least 3 attacks, civilians as well as soldiers were targeted, which is a strong indication that the rebels were in possession of chemical weapons and that these chemical weapons were used against both Syrian government forces as well as civilians. For example assessment reletaed to CW attack against soldiers (government forces) and civilians in Khan Al Asal on 19 March 2013 (p.19 in UN report) was in response to a formal request by the Syrian government. In a letter (dated 19 March 2013), the Representative of Syria to the UN informed the Secretary-General and the President of the Security Council of its allegation that, at 0730 hours on 19 March, armed terrorist groups had fired a rocket from the Kfar De’il area towards Khan Al Asal in the Aleppo governorate.

What is written in the current report does not change but even confirms our conviction that fighters, not the Syrian government, are behind the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” Russian Permanent Envoy to the UN Vitaly Churkin said on Rossiya-24 news television channel.

But the revised UN analysis, attached to a new UN report on several other alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria, punched a new hole in the notion that the Republican Guard fired a Sarin-laden missile into Moadamiyah. The UN inspectors found no chemical weapons agents on the remnants of the crudely made missile that landed in Moadamiyah (or for that matter no Sarin anywhere else in the area). In the earlier UN report about the Aug. 21 incident, one of two UN labs had detected on a metal fragment what the lab thought was a chemical residue that can be left behind by degraded Sarin. But the new analysis withdraws that finding, an indication of how fragile the chemistry can be in getting false positives on derivative chemical residue. The two UN laboratories are now in agreement that there was neither Sarin nor possible derivatives of Sarin on the metal fragments from the Moadamiyah missile.

UN report Syria CWUN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon established the Sellstrom investigation after the Syrian government wrote to him accusing the rebels of carrying out the chemical weapons attack in Khan al-Assal. The United Nations has since received a total of 16 reports of possible chemical weapons use in Syria, mainly from the Syrian government, Britain, France and the United States. The experts looked closely at seven of those cases.

The new UN report suggests that Syrian rebels have developed a capability to produce at least crude chemical weapons and delivery systems, further adding to the possibility that the Aug. 21 attack east of Damascus could have resulted from a botched rebel launch of a makeshift missile aimed at government targets or as an accident. The investigation found likely use of chemical weapons in Khan al-Assal, near the northern city of Aleppo, in March; in Saraqeb, near the northern city of Idlib, in April; and in Jobar and Ashrafiat Sahnaya, near Damascus, in August. Rebels have seized all kinds of weapons from military depots across the country, according to the United Nations. Western powers say the rebels do not have access to chemical arms.

An annex to the UN report reproduced YouTube photographs of some recovered munitions, including a rocket that ‘indicatively matches’ the specifics of a 330mm calibre artillery rocket. The New York Times wrote that the existence of the rockets essentially proved that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack ‘because the weapons in question had not been previously documented or reported to be in possession of the insurgency’. Theodore Postol, a professor of technology and national security at MIT, reviewed the UN photos with a group of his colleagues and concluded that the large calibre rocket was an improvised munition that was very likely manufactured locally. The rocket in the photos, he added, fails to match the specifications of a similar but smaller rocket known to be in the Syrian arsenal. The New York Times, again relying on data in the UN report, also analysed the flight path of two of the spent rockets that were believed to have carried sarin, and concluded that the angle of descent ‘pointed directly’ to their being fired from a Syrian army base more than nine kilometres from the landing zone. However the range of the improvised rockets was ‘unlikely’ to be more than two kilometres.

Read the full (final) report here: United Nations Mission to Investigate Allegations of the Use of Chemical Weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic.

ISTEAMS report SyriaBesides UN report there still are questions and observations unanswered rised in ISTEAMS -report  (More in Syria Chemical Weapons Attack – Whodunnit II ).

Mother Agnes Mariam in her interview: One of the reasons that I would like to see the graves is because 1,466 deaths is a real “social tsunami” in the Syrian society where everybody knows everybody and everybody is related. In the case of East Ghouta, we did not even have one case show up. We did not know of one single person who is dead. You know, to have relatives claiming this – the brother, the friend – nobody did. We did not have the “echo” of the death of 1,466 people. We are asking for a neutral inquiry with the presence of witnesses from both sides, where they will open the pits, see the victims, they will take samples randomly – where they took it, how they took it, etc. Samples should be sent to 5 labs under the same conditions and precautions. Until then there is a question mark on everything.

Whodunnit III

[Note: The sub-headline refers my earlier articles Syria Chemical Weapons Attack – Whodunnit II  and Whodunnit in Syria ]

In a December article for the London Review of Books, investigative reporter Seymour Hersh confirmed that President Barack Obama misled the American people over the Aug. 21 (2013) Syrian chemical attack by cherry-picking evidence about the Syrian government’s presumed guilt and excluding suspicions about the rebels’ capability to produce their own Sarin gas. Hersh also reported that he discovered a deep schism within the U.S. intelligence community over how the case was sold to pin the blame on President Assad. Hersh wrote that he encountered “intense concern, and on occasion anger” when he interviewed American intelligence and military experts “over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence.” According to Hersh, “One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote.”

President Obama failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad. A quote from mentioned Hersh article:

[President Obama] cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.’ But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence… A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening.

Hersh describes also that in Syria there is also a secret sensor system inside Syria, designed to provide early warning of any change in status of the regime’s chemical weapons arsenal. The sensors are monitored by the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), the agency that controls all US intelligence satellites in orbit. NRO sensors have been implanted near all known chemical warfare sites in Syria. They are designed to provide constant monitoring of the movement of chemical warheads stored by the military. But far more important, in terms of early warning, is the sensors’ ability to alert US and Israeli intelligence when warheads are being loaded with sarin. A chemical warhead, once loaded with sarin, has a shelf life of a few days or less – the nerve agent begins eroding the rocket almost immediately. The sensors detected no movement in the months and days before 21 August. It is of course possible that sarin had been supplied to the Syrian army by other means, but the lack of warning meant that Washington was unable to monitor the events in Eastern Ghouta as they unfolded. The sensors had worked in the past, e.g. last December (2012) the sensor system picked up signs of what seemed to be sarin production at a chemical weapons depot. It was not immediately clear whether the Syrian army was simulating sarin production as part of an exercise or actually preparing an attack. At the time, Obama publicly warned Syria that using sarin was ‘totally unacceptable’; a similar message was also passed by diplomatic means. This time there was not the same warning.

Hersh article screenshot Obama lies Syria CW attackOn 30 August the White House invited a select group of Washington journalists, and handed them a document carefully labelled as a ‘government assessment’, which laid out what was essentially a political argument to bolster the administration’s case against the Assad government. The document stated, that US intelligence knew that Syria had begun ‘preparing chemical munitions’ three days before the attack. Later that day, John Kerry provided more details. He said that Syria’s ‘chemical weapons personnel were on the ground, in the area, making preparations’ by 18 August. ‘We know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons.’ The government assessment and Kerry’s comments made it seem as if the administration had been tracking the sarin attack as it happened. An unforseen reaction came in the form of complaints from the Free Syrian Army’s leadership and others about the lack of warning. ‘It’s unbelievable they did nothing to warn people or try to stop the regime before the crime,’…‘Intelligence report says US officials knew about nerve-gas attack in Syria three days before it killed over 1400 people – including more than 400 children.’ (Razan Zaitouneh/FSA)

Already by late May (2013) the CIA had briefed the Obama administration on al-Nusra and its work with sarin, and had sent alarming reports that another Sunni fundamentalist group active in Syria, al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), also understood the science of producing sarin. At the time, al-Nusra was operating in areas close to Damascus, including Eastern Ghouta. An intelligence document issued in mid-summer dealt extensively with Ziyaad Tariq Ahmed, a chemical weapons expert formerly of the Iraqi military, who was said to have moved into Syria and to be operating in Eastern Ghouta.

Independently of these assessments, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assuming that US troops might be ordered into Syria to seize the government’s stockpile of chemical agents, called for an all-source analysis of the potential threat… All Op Orders contain an intelligence threat component and technical analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, weapons people, and I & W [indications and warnings] people working on the problem … They concluded that the rebel forces were capable of attacking an American force with sarin because they were able to produce the lethal gas. The examination relied on signals and human intelligence, as well as the expressed intention and technical capability of the rebels.

(Source: Whose Sarin?by Seymour M. Hersh, London Review of Books Seymour M. Hersh is writing an alternative history of the war on terror. He has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker since 1993. His journalism and publishing awards include a Pulitzer Prize, five George Polk Awards, two National Magazine Awards, and more than a dozen other prizes for investigative reporting.)

Bottom line

It remains to seen if GCC will succeed in enticing US into their fundrising and if the new Islamic Front will be created as significant opposition force in Syria. I doubt as local warlords are uniting to share in Saudi largesse for which their enthusiasm is probably greater than their willingness to fight. The Saudis are probably making a mistake. The artificial unity of rebel groups with their hands out for Saudi money is not going to last. They will be discredited in the eyes of more fanatical jihadis as well as Syrians in general as pawns of Saudi and other intelligence services.

It might be possible that US did not implemented planned military intervention against Syria as its political leadership knew first that Syrian rebels had chemical weapons, second it knew that Al Assad regime maybe not used CW in Damascus August 2013 and third that Syrian opposition might on the end not be better alternative than Al Assad.

The UN resolution, which was adopted on 27 September by the Security Council, dealt indirectly with the notion that rebel forces such as al-Nusra would also be obliged to disarm: ‘no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer [chemical] weapons.’ The resolution also calls for the immediate notification of the Security Council in the event that any ‘non-state actors’ acquire chemical weapons.

After Syrian CW agreement came Iran nuke deal and both these against the will of the Saudis. It seems that US has been rapidly altering its regional approach shifting weight from Saudi Arabia towards Iran. Maybe US has came conclusion that it needs more Iran to stop the growth of terror groups, networks and activities of Salafi extremists, both in and out of the Middle East – with Iran stabilization of chaotic region might be possible.

Some of my previous articles about Syria:

Syria Chemical Weapons Attack – Whodunnit II
Demolition Of CW Stockpiles Is Only Contributory Factor In The Syria War
The Four-stage Plan For Syria – Can It Work
Whodunnit in Syria
Syrian Rebels Admit Chemical Attack InDamascus???
Syria: From War To Dissolution With Help Of Media

One scenario about the Middle East

P.S:

One example about rebel activities:  In the video below RT talks to eyewitnesses of the latest gruesome actions from those rebels, the slaughter and beheading of children, the oldest of which is said to be 20 years old by the female witness on camera. Heads chopped off and thrown all over the road, whole families executed.


Blue Peace: Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline Plan Signed

December 10, 2013

Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority signed trilateral Red Sea-Dead Sea pipeline plan on Dec. 9th 2013, at the headquarters of the World Bank. The ambitious and contested Dead Sea Signproject aims to replenish the rapidly shrinking Dead Sea by transferring in water from the Red Sea along a 110-mile (180 km long) pipeline. The pipeline will channel 100 million cubic meters of water per annum northward from the Red Sea and will cost an estimated $300-400 million. A BOT tender for the project will be published in 2014. The pipeline will take an estimated three years to complete. The inflow of water from the Red Sea will slow the drying up of the Dead Sea and its concomitant negative effects.

Israel’s energy and infrastructure minister, Silvan Shalom, said it was “a historic agreement that realises a dream of many years… [and] is of the highest diplomatic, economic, environmental and strategic importance.” He and the Palestinian and Jordanian water ministers, Shaddad Attili and Hazem al-Nasser, attended a signing ceremony in Washington.

Located in the Jordan rift valley bordering Jordan to the east, and Israel and Palestine to the west, the Dead Sea is served only by the Jordan River to the North. The water level in the Dead Sea dropped from 390 metres below sea level in the 1960s to 420 metres below sea level at present and will be 450 metres below sea level by 2040. The water surface area has shrunk by a third, from 950 square kilometres to 637 square kilometres.

Dead Sea 1972, 1989, 2011A combination of the mineral content of the water, low content of pollens, the reduced ultraviolet component of solar radiation and the higher atmospheric pressure at this depth have specific health effects which have borne a booming spa-tourism economy. This along with the dramatic scenery and tranquil waters is why it has long been a site of tourism and refuge; King David used it as such and it was one of the world’s first health resorts for Herod the Great.

Red Sea-Dead Sea Pipeline Plan

According the agreed plan of pumping water from the one sea to the other – a project known as the Red-Dead Conduit, or Two Seas Canal – will help to slow the dessication of the Dead Sea, which is famous for its high levels of salt and other minerals that allow bathers to float on its surface. “The inflow of water from the Red Sea will slow the drying up of the Dead Sea,” said the Israeli government. Approximately 200 million cubic meters of water will be drawn per annum. Around 80 million cubic meters will be desalinated at a facility to be built in Aqaba facility with Israel receiving 30-50 million cubic meters of water for the Arava region and Eilat, and with Jordan receiving 30 million cubic meters of water for use in the south. Israel will also sell Jordan another 50 million cubic meters of water from the Kinneret for use in the north. The other goals of this project are the generation of electricity by utilizing the difference in elevation between the Red Sea and the Dead Sea and the development of tourism infrastructures.

Red Sea - Dead Sea Pipeline. Images courtesy of ESA.

Red Sea – Dead Sea Pipeline. Images courtesy of ESA.

With no action, the sea level is expected to drop by another 150 meters until it will stabilize as a much smaller water body at a level of about 543 meters below sea level by the mid-22nd century,” the World Bank’s January 2013 report explained. Water loss in the Dead Sea has already resulted in dangerous sinkholes, mudslides and landslides in the area and threatens the habitat of many species native to the region.

While the plan is accepted by respective international authorities there is also critics inside Israeli regime. Regional environmental group Friends of the Earth Middle East and the Environmental Protection Ministry have slammed the plan as destructive to the very sea that it aims to save. The Environmental Protection Ministry likewise announced its rejection of the Red-Dead program, stressing that without more informed data and experimentation, such a plan cannot proceed. Citing experts from the Geological Survey of Israel, the ministry said that pumping more than 350 million cubic meters of seawater and brine to the Dead Sea could lead to an outbreak of bacteria and algal growth, causing disturbing odors in the region. Some environmentalists argue that the introduction of Red Sea water containing living organisms could have a catastrophic effect on the unique characteristics of the Dead Sea.

Red Sea-Dead Sea pipe project

Blue Peace

The Red-Sea-Dead-Sea pipeline in one of the key recommendations advocated in a report Blue Peace: Rethinking Middle East Water. As water resources in the Middle East should be considered as a potential source of socioeconomic development and peace, a group of independent Indian experts, the Strategic Foresight Group (SFG), was mandated by Switzerland and Sweden the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency to flank a process of reflection on this issue on 2009. A series of consultations and meetings took place in 2010, i.e., in Montreux (Switzerland), in Amman (Jordan), and in Sanliurfa (Turkey). The SFG then drew up the “Blue Peace” report based on these consultations, which in end effect brought together a good hundred of experts and leaders from the Middle East. On February 2011 the report was presented in Geneva.The report, prepared with support and input from almost 100 leaders and experts from Israel, the Palestine Territories, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Turkey, also stated that water crisis can be converted into an opportunity for regional peace.

Blue Peace recommendations

The Blue Peace essentially requires a comprehensive approach. This ”hydro-diplomacy” can be defined as “regional cooperation that creates dynamics of trans-boundary basin economic development through integrated water resources management.”It is necessary to act on several fronts at the same time, and yet it is possible to choose different entry points of intervention as per social and political dynamics. The report presents a roadmap for action beginning with efficient internal management, storage and distribution; the establishment of Cooperation Council for Water Resources for Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Turkey; and separately launching of a high level Confidence Building Initiative between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. This initiative’s key responsibility is to answer the specific challenges caused by the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. This initiative’s key responsibility is to answer the specific challenges caused by the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. As an example of successful cooperation, water management can also create the circumstances necessary for socioeconomic development and peace in these countries.

More about Blue Peace in “The Blue Peace – Rethinking Middle East Water: Complete report” Download (PDF, 3128 KB) :


Iran Nuke Deal Enables The Détente

November 25, 2013

Iran nuclear programmeThe world powers – U.S., France, Germany, Britain, China and Russia – reached an agreement with Iranian leaders early Sunday (24th Nov. 2013) in Geneva to curb Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for a gradual easing of economic sanctions. President Obama said the tentative pact will “cut off Iran’s most likely paths to a bomb…While today’s announcement is just a first step, it achieves a great deal,” Mr. Obama said. “For the first time in nearly a decade, we have halted the progress of the Iranian nuclear program, and key parts of the program will be rolled back.

Iran has committed to halting certain levels of enrichment, and neutralizing part of its stockpile. Iran cannot use its next-generation centrifuges—which are used for enriching uranium.” Mr. Obama said the U.S. and its partners will not proceed with new sanctions that would scuttle the deal. (Source e.g. The Washington Times ) In return for Iran agreeing to increased international inspections of its facilities, the U.S. and its partners will suspend sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran about $1.5 billion in revenue.

The subsequent economic crisis in Iran discredited the policies of former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, changed the thinking of the supreme leader and ultimately led to the electoral victory of President Hassan Rouhani. Previous international negotiators entered talks with Iran at a disadvantage because Iran had no need for negotiations. This has changed because Iran needs a negotiated deal as well, and it cannot get sanctions relief without international cooperation. This transformation in the negotiations dynamic made the deal now possible.

From other side Washington was hoping during the Arab Spring that at some point in Iran there would be an uprising that would overthrow the regime. The 2009 uprising, never really a threat to the regime, was seen as a rehearsal (see e.g IRAN – revolution postponed and Iran – no Revolution but potential for Change anyway). U.S was expecting Arab Spring to yield more liberal regimes. That didn’t happen. Egypt has not evolved, Syria has devolved into civil war, Bahrain has seen Saudi Arabia repress its uprising, and Libya has found itself on the brink of chaos. Not a single liberal democratic regime emerged. It became clear that there would be no uprising in Iran, and even if there were, the results would not likely benefit the United States.

Iran nuclear sites

Iran nuclear sites

Key Elements of Iran Nuke Deal

According US State Department fact sheet on Iran nuclear deal the key elements of Iran nuke deal are following:

Iran has committed to halt enrichment above 5%:

  • Halt all enrichment above 5% and dismantle the technical connections required to enrich above 5%.

Iran has committed to neutralize its stockpile of near-20% uranium:

  • Dilute below 5% or convert to a form not suitable for further enrichment its entire stockpile of near-20% enriched uranium before the end of the initial phase.

Iran has committed to halt progress on its enrichment capacity:

  • Not install additional centrifuges of any type.
  • Not install or use any next-generation centrifuges to enrich uranium.
  • Leave inoperable roughly half of installed centrifuges at Natanz and three-quarters of installed centrifuges at Fordow, so they cannot be used to enrich uranium.
  • Limit its centrifuge production to those needed to replace damaged machines, so Iran cannot use the six months to stockpile centrifuges.
  • Not construct additional enrichment facilities.

Iran has committed to halt progress on the growth of its 3.5% stockpile:

  • Not increase its stockpile of 3.5% low enriched uranium, so that the amount is not greater at the end of the six months than it is at the beginning, and any newly enriched 3.5% enriched uranium is converted into oxide.

Iran has committed to no further advances of its activities at Arak and to halt progress on its plutonium track. Iran has committed to:

  • Not commission the Arak reactor.
  • Not fuel the Arak reactor.
  • Halt the production of fuel for the Arak reactor.
  • No additional testing of fuel for the Arak reactor.
  • Not install any additional reactor components at Arak.
  • Not transfer fuel and heavy water to the reactor site.
  • Not construct a facility capable of reprocessing. Without reprocessing, Iran cannot separate plutonium from spent fuel.

Unprecedented transparency and intrusive monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program

Iran has committed to:

  • Provide daily access by IAEA inspectors at Natanz and Fordow. This daily access will permit inspectors to review surveillance camera footage to ensure comprehensive monitoring. This access will provide even greater transparency into enrichment at these sites and shorten detection time for any non-compliance.
  • Provide IAEA access to centrifuge assembly facilities.
  • Provide IAEA access to centrifuge rotor component production and storage facilities.
  • Provide IAEA access to uranium mines and mills.
  • Provide long-sought design information for the Arak reactor. This will provide critical insight into the reactor that has not previously been available.
  • Provide more frequent inspector access to the Arak reactor.
  • Provide certain key data and information called for in the Additional Protocol to Iran’s IAEA Safeguards Agreement and Modified Code 3.1.

Limited, Temporary, Reversible Relief

In return for these steps, the P5+1 is to provide limited, temporary, targeted, and reversible relief while maintaining the vast bulk of our sanctions, including the oil, finance, and banking sanctions architecture. If Iran fails to meet its commitments, we will revoke the relief. Specifically the P5+1 has committed to:

  • Not impose new nuclear-related sanctions for six months, if Iran abides by its commitments under this deal, to the extent permissible within their political systems.
  • Suspend certain sanctions on gold and precious metals, Iran’s auto sector, and Iran’s petrochemical exports, potentially providing Iran approximately $1.5 billion in revenue.
  • License safety-related repairs and inspections inside Iran for certain Iranian airlines.
  • Allow purchases of Iranian oil to remain at their currently significantly reduced levels — levels that are 60% less than two years ago. $4.2 billion from these sales will be allowed to be transferred in installments if, and as, Iran fulfills its commitments.
  • Allow $400 million in governmental tuition assistance to be transferred from restricted Iranian funds directly to recognized educational institutions in third countries to defray the tuition costs of Iranian students.

Putting Limited Relief in Perspective

In total, the approximately $7 billion in relief is a fraction of the costs that Iran will continue to incur during this first phase under the sanctions that will remain in place. The vast majority of Iran’s approximately $100 billion in foreign exchange holdings are inaccessible or restricted by sanctions.

In the next six months, Iran’s crude oil sales cannot increase. Oil sanctions alone will result in approximately $30 billion in lost revenues to Iran

The western powers have cut Iran’s oil sales from 2.5 million barrels per day (bpd) in early 2012 to 1 million bpd today, denying Iran the ability to sell almost 1.5 million bpd.

Secret talks paved the way

The negotiations started in Geneva on Nov. 2013 but as usual secret talks paved the way for the historic deal since March 2013. Some of the points comprising the interim agreement reached between Iran and the six powers were based on these secret talks between the U.S. and Tehran, integrated by the Americans into the official document. The existence of the secret channel between Iran and the United States was revealed publicly for the first time only on Sunday by the Associated Press and by blogger Laura Rozen on the Al-Monitor news website. The two reports appeared simultaneously, right after Iran and world powers signed an agreement in Geneva. The discussions were kept hidden even from America’s closest friends, including its negotiating partners and Israel, until two months ago, and that may explain how the nuclear accord appeared to come together so quickly after years of stalemate and fierce hostility between Iran and the West. However the Israeli government learned of the secret negotiations sometime near the beginning of the summer through intelligence it managed to obtain.

The talks were held in the Middle Eastern nation of Oman and elsewhere with only a tight circle of people in the know, the AP learned. Since March, Deputy Secretary of State William Burns and Jake Sullivan, Vice President Joe Biden’s top foreign policy adviser, have met at least five times with Iranian officials. The last four clandestine meetings, held since Iran’s reform-minded President Hasan Rouhani was inaugurated in August, produced much of the agreement later formally hammered out in negotiations in Geneva.

Meanwhile Le Figaro reported that the U.S. is already conducting secret bilateral talks with Iran on a number of topics.Among other things, the sides are discussing Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and accelerating trade relations between Tehran and Washington immediately after the signing of the interim agreement in Geneva, according to the French newspaper. A reliable source in the Gulf revealed these details to a senior correspondent for the newspaper, Georges Malbrunot who specializes in the Middle East. The source said that the contacts between U.S. and Iranians began on the day following the U.N. General Assembly in late September following a telephone conversation between President Obama and his Iranian counterpart Rouhani. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif stayed in the U.S. for an additional ten days following the U.N. General Assembly, along with 75 colleagues from President Rouhani’s entourage — businessmen, industrialists and representatives of the Iranian gas and oil sector, who met with representatives of American oil companies Chevron and Exxon. (Source e.g: Report: Secret US-Iran talks laid the groundwork for deal )

IAEA reports Iran nuclear activity slowed not reduced

Iran now self-sufficient in uranium ore

Iran now self-sufficient in uranium ore

The latest quarterly report on Iran’s nuclear activities was issued on 14th Nov. 2013 by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It noted a slowdown, but no reduction in Tehran’s nuclear activity.

The report was the IAEA’s first meaningful assessment since Iran’s President Rouhani took office. It comes as representatives from the P5+1 powers (US, UK, China, Russia, France and Germany) and Iranian officials prepare to meet again next week to further consider an interim agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme.

The IAEA report found that during the past three months, four advanced centrifuges had been added at the central Natanz plant, in comparison to 1,861 during the previous three-month period. The report concludes activity has been “more or less frozen” at the Arak heavy water plant, where it is feared plutonium is being developed which could speed up nuclear activity. However, Iran’s stockpile of 20 per-cent enriched uranium, considered just a short step away from weapons-grade material, has increased by five per cent to 196kg since August. Despite the slight increase, this is still below the 240kg mark specified last year by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as his “red line” which may precipitate action against Iran’s nuclear facilities. ( Source Bicom )

Israeli reactions

From Israel’s perspective, the accord is a strategic defeat for the West, since it legitimizes Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state. The Iranians, says Jerusalem, are giving up nothing, while getting sanctions relief. The Iranian commitment not to enrich uranium to 20 percent for the next six months is no Iranian concession since the Iranians have already been careful not to cross Netanyahu’s red line of 220 kilos of such uranium. The Iranian commitment not to operate the heavy water reactor in Arak for the next six months is similarly “a joke,” Israel says, since Iran anyway can’t do so. The reactor is still under construction, and will be so for at least another 12 months. Israel’s security cabinet took earlier the unusual step of releasing a public statement, which affirmed Israel’s support for a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear development, should Tehran comply with four measures: cease all nuclear enrichment, remove all stockpiles of enriched uranium, dismantle the Qom and Natanz facilities and stop work at the Arak heavy water reactor.

PM Netanyahu and Iran red lineIsrael’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told a forum of Jewish community leaders in Moscow before deal that Iran “must not have nuclear weapons. And I promise you that they will not have nuclear weapons.” He added, “The Iranians deny our past and repeat their commitment to wipe the State of Israel off the map,” citing comments made this week by Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who described Israel as a “rabid dog” and its leaders inhuman. US Secretary of State John Kerry called Khamenei’s comments “inflammatory and unnecessary.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed deep skepticism that Iran would abandon its nuclear ambitions. “What was achieved last night in Geneva is not a historic agreement; it is a historic mistake …Today the world has become a much more dangerous place because the most dangerous regime in the world has taken a significant step toward attaining the most dangerous weapon in the world.” (Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu)

Despite this irate response from the Prime Minister’s Office to the agreement signed in Geneva between Iran and six world powers, the deal might not be really a bad one even from an Israeli perspective. Geneva deal places serious restrictions on Iran and provides the West with valuable information on its nuclear program. Israeli President Shimon Peres gave a more measured response, saying time would tell whether the agreement was effective. Leftist Meretz Chairwoman Zahava Gal-On delivered the only positive Israeli response so far to the nuclear deal, saying her colleagues’ attack on the deal missed the fact that the agreement was intended to slow down Iran’s fast track to a nuclear bomb. After Iran nuke deal in Israel the Likud leadership anticipates a diplomatic and political crisis next spring. If Netanyahu wants to run again he will have to become even more extreme and speed toward Obama on a collision course. It might be that Geneva ended Netanyahu’s era. In a new reality, Israel might need new leadership.

Follow-ups

Saudi Arabia, Iran’s regional rival, at times opposed Islamist radicals (in Saudi Arabia) and supported them elsewhere (in Syria or Iraq). The American relationship with Saudi Arabia, resting heavily on oil, had changed. The United States had plenty of oil now and the Saudis’ complex strategies simply no longer matched American interests.

The Iran nuke deal is only – sure core one – part of story. The deal but especially the secret U.S.-Iran talks before the deal may have also big geopolitical affect. When the nuclear issue is out from agenda and the sanctions removed, then matters such as controlling Sunni extremists, investment in Iran and maintaining the regional balance of power would all be on the table.

Iran missilesOn the other side Gulf States fear not only Iran’s nuclear programme, but Iran being allowed to continue with its hegemonic ambitions, even being emboldened by the deal, and that they will be left alone to deal with it. Already regional states are reaching out to other international actors aside from the United States: Egypt talking with Russia about a major arms deal; Turkey considering China for a major air defence system; Saudi Arabia developing ties with France and Pakistan about their own nuclear weapon, Israel with France and Russia about cooperation in energy sector. This is a strong expression of deep disappointment with the US and its regional approach.

Challenges

  • Arak plutonium reactor: Arak need to be followed closely. Before the French intervention during the last round of talks, the Arak clause was problematic, proposing that Iran could not commission the facility but could continue construction in the next six months. One idea is that it will be converted into a light water reactor from a heavy water plant, this is something else.
  • The Iranian narrative, that they have the ‘right’ to enrichment, has become an issue of their national pride. As a result, any deal will probably allow a degree of enrichment, but round the clock inspections by the IAEA will be essential to manage this.
  • One key challenge is that the P5+1 powers should agree among themselves on a clearly defined endgame to the talks after an interim accord of six months.

The bottom line

(the P5+1 agreement) puts time on the clock.” (John Kerry)

Israel, the US and the major EU powers share the assessment that Iran’s programme is intended to give it the capacity to build nuclear weapons at its time of choosing. Now the Iran nuke deal concludes an interim accord as a prelude to a more comprehensive agreement. It would require Iran to freeze aspects of its nuclear programme for six months, in return for limited concessions on sanctions. Despite hard words one should remember that Iranian foreign policy has been extremely measured. Its one major war, which it fought against Iraq in the 1980s, was not initiated by Iran. Already some months ago Russia and U.S. managed to deal with Syria’s WMDs restoring trust to the great Middle East. Based on this history and the new deal with Iran I think that the détente has took a remarkable step forwards.

Iran nuclear sites

Iran nuclear sites

Some of my previous articles related to nuclear Iran:

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Instead Iran The Saudis Can Be The Next Nuclear Power

November 10, 2013

WMD logoWhile Iran nuke talks heat up in Geneva (Nov. 2013) and demolition of Syria’s CW stockpiles has already started one question related to WMD has kept out from headlines namely intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery to Saudi Arabia. While the world has worried about the nuclear program of Iran – and possible Israeli air-strike to stop it – a new nuclear power can be reality in few weeks.

Saudi authorities have invested heavily in Pakistan’s nuclear program and now it seems that Saudi Arabia is joining to the nuclear club sooner than Iran as according BBC Newsnight Riyadh has already bought nuclear weapons in Pakistan made on behalf of Saudi Arabia and are now sitting ready for delivery.

Saudi-Paki nuke cooperation

What’s interesting is that no major news network in the USA has featured this story since the BBC broke it 3 days ago. I watch NBC, BBC, and FOX news programming every weekday, and the BBC is the only network saying this, and only online – BBC America is NOT carrying this story on cable.” (A view in social media)

Pakistan presumably has reached a secret deal to provide Saudi Arabia with nuclear weapons if Iran, which the world powers suspect is working on a nuclear programme, develops a nuke bomb. Pakistan declared itself as a nuclear armed state in 1998 with its first test. It has never signed up non-proliferation agreements and has an expanding arsenal, with some estimates saying it has as many as 110 nuclear weapons with enough fissile material for more than 200.

Saudi-Paki cooperation mapIn general it is not widely known that Saudi Arabia has a nuclear weapons program. From an official and public standpoint, Saudi Arabia has been an opponent of nuclear weapons in the Middle East, having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Saudi Arabia has denied manufacturing the nuclear weapons under its peaceful civilian nuclear program, the country has allegedly allotted financial funds for its nuclear program, and as well received scientific assistance from various counties, including United States and Pakistan. (Read more e.g. in Wiki)

It is true that Saudi Arabia has not been producing nukes on their own soil; howeverSaudi authorities are a sole financier of Pakistan’s own integrated atomic bomb project since 1974. In March 2006, the German magazine Cicero reported that Saudi Arabia had since 2003 received assistance from Pakistan to acquire nuclear missiles and warheads. Satellite photos allegedly reveal an underground city and nuclear silos with Ghauri rockets in Al-Sulaiyil, south of the capital Riyadh. Pakistan has denied aiding Saudi Arabia in any nuclear ambitions. Western intelligence sources have told The Guardian that the Saudi monarchy has paid for up to 60% of the Pakistan’s atomic bomb projects and in return has the option to buy five to six nuclear warheads off the shelf.

Saudi desire for bomb

In 1987 it was reported that Saudi Arabia secretly purchased between 50 and 60 Chinese-made CSS-2 intermediate-range ballistic missiles equipped with a high explosive warhead, which have a range of 2,800 km with a payload of either 2,150 or 2,500 kg together with between 10 and 15 transport vehicle systems. These CSS-2 ballistic missiles are relatively useless as conventional weapons; they are too inaccurate, but if one load them up with a nuclear warhead it won’t really matter how accurate those things are.

CSS-2 ballistic missiles for Saudi Arabia

CSS-2 ballistic missiles

According Wikipedia long time Saudi support of the Iraqi nuclear weapons program during the Saddam Hussein regime was implemented with $5 billion on the condition that successful nuclear technology and possibly even nuclear weapons would be transferred to Saudi Arabia . In 2011, Prince Turki al-Faisal, who has served as the Saudi intelligence chief and as ambassador to the United States has suggested that the kingdom might consider producing nuclear weapons if it found itself between the atomic arsenals of Iran and Israel. In 2012, it was confirmed that Saudi Arabia would launch its own nuclear weapons program immediately if Iran successfully developed nuclear weapons. In such an eventuality, Saudi Arabia would start work on a new ballistic missile platform, purchase nuclear warheads from overseas and aim to source uranium to develop weapons-grade material.

And now in November 2013, a variety of sources told BBC Newsnight that Saudi Arabia had invested in Pakistani nuclear weapons projects and believes it could obtain nuclear bombs at will. Earlier in the year (2013), a senior NATO decision maker told Mark Urban, a senior diplomatic and defense editor, that he had seen intelligence reporting that nuclear weapons made in Pakistan on behalf of Saudi Arabia are now sitting ready for delivery. In October 2013, Amos Yadlin, a former head of Israeli military intelligence, told a conference in Sweden that if Iran got the bomb, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.”

Ready facilities

Saudi Arabia has a ballistic missile facility near the town of Al-Watah. For example defence publisher Jane’s revealed the existence of Saudi Arabia’s third and undisclosed intermediate-range ballistic missile site – a new CSS-2 missile base with its launch rails aimed at Israel and Iran about 200 km southwest of Riyadh.

Ballistic missile base in Saudi Arabia near the town of Al-Watah

Photo credit: IHS/DigitalGlobe

Conclusion

The key conclusion is that Saudi authorities have invested heavily in Pakistan’s nuclear program and at any time can get from Islamabad nuclear weapons. Even this is not widely reported it not surprise either. The Saudis have been sending the Americans many signals of their going ahead with their nuclear weapons plan. Since 2009, according to the BBC, when King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia warned visiting US special envoy to the Middle East Dennis Ross that once Iran crossed the threshold, “we will get nuclear weapons,”. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have longstanding ties and the Kingdom has financed a range of infrastructure projects, mosques and defence contracts. Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have longstanding ties and the Kingdom has financed a range of infrastructure projects, mosques and defence contracts.

The key point is that a new nuclear power can be reality in few weeks. Saudi Arabia has new ballistic missile facility, it has missiles and assumed deal with Pakistan to bring nuclear warheads to those missiles. It could also be possible that Saudis could import ready Pakistani Shaheen II missiles. An alternative might also be for Pakistan to offer Saudi Arabia protection under its “nuclear umbrella”.

Some of my previous articles related to nuclear Iran:

 The Shaheen II missile during a military parade in Islamabad.

Possible export to Saudi Arabia? The Shaheen II missile during a military parade in Islamabad. Photograph: Aziz Haidari/Reuters


Syria Chemical Weapons Attack – Whodunnit II

October 8, 2013

false flag operation posterIn my earlier article – Whodunnit in Syria I claimed that there’s little dispute that a chemical agent was used in an Aug. 21st attack outside of Damascus – and probably on a smaller scale before that – but there is a reasonable doubt if the Assad regime used sarin gas in this operation. Since then new aspects what happened are emerging and when there is some perspective about diplomatic solution it is also important to note for future developing that the roles of actors are changing in operation theatre. While these newest developments are shaping the future in Syria it is in my opinion still important to study Aug. 21st attack as it might help to plan further actions – and alliances.

The UN Report made on 13th Sep 2013 on the alleged use of chemical weapons in the Ghouta area of Damascus on Aug. 21st , 2013 has clarified many issues but left the key questions unanswered: who committed the attack and who are the victims?The UN report does not confirm anything other than chemical weapons were used. More interesting is an other report made by a Syria-based human rights group ISTEAMS. This later report has also been submitted to UN and it clarifies a bit the core question – Whodunnit?

Syrian rebels using CW

UN report

To launch a chemical weapons attack in Damascus on the very day that a United Nations chemical-weapons inspection team arrives in Damascususing an out-of-date missile in an ancient launchermust be a new definition of madness.” (George Galloway in British parliament on Syria late August)

The UN report tells that CW and sarin gas was used in Damascus 21. Aug. 2013 – and that’s it, practically none has claimed the opposite. The report does not tell who were implementing or ordering gas attack nor answering the basic question of “to whose benefit?”. However the critical analysis of UN report makes clear that the narrative “only the Syrian regime could have carried out the attacks” will not hold. I would like to highlight following points which cast a reasonable doubt against mentioned one-sided (US) approach. As source I have used mainly Land Destroyer Report by Tony Cartalucci.

1. Chemical weapons were delivered with munitions not used by rebels: these particularly larger diameter rockets (140mm and 330mm) have not been seen in the hands of terrorists operating within and along Syria’s borders, however rockets similar in construction and operation, but smaller, most certainly in the hands of the militants. According to UN chemical weapons inspectors, unguided 140 mm rockets were used in the attacks. The UN inspectors suggested that Soviet BM-14-17 (MLRS) rocket launchers were used. However, Syria long ago removed those systems from its arsenal, and the army does not use them. They were replaced by modern Soviet 122 mm “Grad” (MLRS BM-21) and Chinese 107 mm Type 63 light rocket launchers. Syria may have also used 220 mm Soviet-made Hurricane rocket launchers (MLRS 9P140). (Source: The New Eastern Outlook/NEO http://journal-neo.org/2013/09/20/rus-siriya-himicheskaya-ataka-ili-provokatsiya/ )

The Washington Post contends that somehow these larger rockets require “technology” the militants have no access to. This is categorically false. A rocket is launched from a simple tube, and the only additional technology terrorists may have required for the larger rockets would have been a truck to mount them on. For an armed front fielding stolen tanks, finding trucks to mount large metal tubes upon would seem a rather elementary task – especially to carry out a staged attack that would justify foreign intervention and salvage their faltering offensive. That the same rocket used in Damascus has now been seen launched from makeshift flatbeds and not olive green military rocket launchers, along with answering the basic question of “to whose benefit?” and considering that militants are confirmed to have US training in handling of chemical weapons – all at the very least tear down the narrative that “only the Syrian regime” could have carried out the attacks. So how did the obsolete MLRS BM-14-17 systems get there? Perhaps they came with the rockets supplied by external opposition supporters who had previously obtained those sorts of weapons from the Soviet Union. As an alternative explanation, one cannot exclude the possibility that the opposition captured the munitions from Syrian weapons depots that might have held them.


2. The sarin was fired from a regime-controlled area: The report concludes that the shells came from the northwest of the targeted neighborhood – from area which was and is controlled by Syrian regime forces and is awfully close to a Syrian military base. If the shells had been fired by Syrian rebels, they likely would have come from the rebel-held southeast. However the “limitations” the UN team itself put on the credibility of their findings. On page 18 of the report (22 of the .pdf), the UN states [emphasis added]:

The time necessary to conduct a detailed survey of both locations as well as take samples was very limited. The sites have been well travelled by other individuals both before and during the investigation. Fragments and other possible evidence have clearly been handled/moved prior to the arrival of the investigation team.”

It should also be noted that militants still controlled the area after the alleged attack and up to and including during the investigation by UN personnel. So possible tampering or planting of evidence would have been carried out by “opposition” members – and surely the Syrian government would not point rockets in directions that would implicate themselves.

false flag definition3. Chemical analysis suggests sarin likely came from controlled supply, butany staged attack would also need to utilize stabilized chemical weapons and personnel trained in their use. From stockpiles looted in Libya, to chemical arms covertly transferred from the US, UK, or Israel, through Saudi Arabia or Qatar, there is no short supply of possible sources. Regarding “rebels” lacking the necessary training to handle chemical weapons – US policy has seen to it that not only did they receive the necessary training, but Western defense contractors specializing in chemical warfare are reported to be on the ground with militants inside Syria. CNN reported in their 2012 article, that: ”The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.”

4. Cyrillic characters on the sides of the shells: Terrorists operating inside of Syria also possess rifles and even tanks of Russian origin – stolen or acquired through a large network of illicit arms constructed by NATO and its regional allies to perpetuate the conflict. (Source and more in Land Destroyer Report )A label found on a warhead. Mikhail Barabanov, an expert with the Russian Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies commented that this label matches those on missiles produced in 1967 in Novosibirsk (Russia). One might justifiably wonder why the Syrian Army would launch a 46-year-old missile when it holds abundant stockpiles of far more reliable modern weapons. It is also worth noting that the production of chemical weapons in Syria began in the 1990s, when chemical facilities were built near Damascus, in Homs, Hama, and Aleppo. Thus, those missiles, filled with chemical agents, should be dated accordingly or later. If the date of a missile’s production does not match the production date for its chemical agent, it stands to reason that the warhead was filled in an underground laboratory or was even homemade.(Source Voltairenet )

5. A closer look at the charts shows a massive discrepancy in lab results from east and west Ghouta. There is not a single environmental sample in Moadamiyah ( west Ghouta) that tested positive for Sarin. Yet it is in Moadamiyah where alleged victims of a CW attack tested highest for Sarin exposure. Sothere is stark discrepancy between human and environmental test results in Moadamiyah. Hamish de Bretton-Gordon, former commander of the British military’s chemical defense regiment and CEO at CW specialists, SecureBio Ltd notes:

“I think that it is strange that the environmental and human samples don’t match up. This could be because there have been lots of people trampling through the area and moving things. Unless the patients were brought in from other areas. There doesn’t seem another plausible explanation.”

All the patients were pre-selected by Ghouta doctors and opposition groups for presentation to the UN teams. Although the highest rate of Sarin-exposure was found in Moadamiyah “survivors,” the UN team found no traces of Sarin on the 140mm rocket identified as the source of the alleged CW attack – or in its immediate environment.

The discrepancies in the story of the Ghouta CW attacks are vast. Casualty figures range from a more modest 300+ to the more dramatic 1,400+ figures touted by western governments. The UN investigators were not able to confirm any of these numbers – they only saw 80 survivors and tested only 36 of these. They saw none of the dead – neither in graves nor in morgues. (Source: Questions Plague UN Report on Syria – “Saudi Intelligence Behind the Attacks…” by Sharmine Narwani and Radwan Mortada )

Obama's logic with Syria

Report from ISTEAMS

The US intelligence community selected or nominated 13 videos that the Obama Administration used in their case against the Syrian government. It was job of US intelligence to examine and authenticate these videos however it seems that they made sloppy or even worse purpose-orientated job. ISTEAMS – a Syria-based human rights group working in conjunction with the International Institute for Peace, Justice and Human Rights – got its motivation to study case further as follows:

From the moment when some families of abducted children contacted us to inform us that they recognized the children among those who are presented in the videos as victims of the Chemical Attacks of East Ghouta, we decided to examine the videos thoroughly.

ISTEAMS found some conflicts between videos and reality on the ground as well between videos and conclusions made from them. That analysis was later expanded on by a report from ISTEAMS, In this thorough report numerous discrepancies and inconsistencies in the footage are documented.

ISTEAMS report on Syria CW attackThe ISTEAMS report raises many troubling questions about the scenes in the Ghouta videos. Were the victims of the attack local children? If so, why were they there after these areas had been largely abandoned? Where are their parents? An answer to threse questions might be found from videos posted by the Mujahedeen Press Office to YouTube just six days before the attack confirming that the terrorists had kidnapped hundreds of women and children from the rural villages of Alawite stronghold Lattakia to use as bargaining chips in the conflict. Were these kidnap victims moved to Ghouta to be killed in the chemical weapons attack? Is this why so many children were there in these largely-vacated areas, and why so few parents appear on video mourning their children? If true, are evidence of the most disgraceful war crimes imaginable and the most cold-blooded manipulations of evidence to suit an agenda.

One of the core conclusion from the ISTEAMS report:

Contrary to the claims of the Free Syrian Army and the Western services, the only identified victims of the Ghouta massacre are those belonging to families that support the Syrian government. In the videos, the individuals that show outrage against the ‘crimes of Bashar el-Assad’ are in reality their killers.”

The report documents through eyewitness testimony and video evidence that the affected areas had been largely abandoned by local residents in the days prior to the attack. Yet in the footage of the aftermath, there are large numbers of child victims who are portrayed. There exists very little footage of parents with their children, and what little footage exists portrays some of the parents apparently “discovering” their children on multiple occasions in different locations. Other footage shows the same children arranged in different formations in geographically distant neighborhoods. The report concludes that the footage was carefully stage managed to create the greatest emotional impact on foreign audiences. These videos were then used by the Obama administration to convince the Senate of their case for military intervention.

Conclusion: What the study [ISTEAMS report] does is logically point out through its observations that there is empirical evidence that the sample of videos that the US Intelligence Community has analyzed and nominated as authentic footage has been stage-managed.

Some discrepancies and inconsistencies in the videos that the Obama Administration used in their case against the Syrian government:

  • The same couple appears as parents looking for their children in two different videos and each time they claim a different child as theirs among the corpses.
  • The same groups that have been involved with posting and disseminating the videos that the US Intelligence Community has selected have also tried to pass pictures of Egyptian civilians killed in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya Square as Syrian victims.
  • The body of a little boy in a red shirt that was filmed in Zamalka and then in filmed again among different bodies in Jobar and the inanimate bodies of at least nine of the children that filmed in Kafarbatna also oddly appear at makeshift morgue in Al-Majr a few hours later.
  • Syria cw fabrication
  • Also some of the same bodies were planted or recycled in different scenes and makeshift morgue that were supposed to be in different locations. The same bodies of the same children are spotted in different locations.

  • Why, in many instances, are the same individuals shown as both dead and alive?
  • The report also highlights the fact that there have been no public funerals or announcements about all the dead children. This is outside of both cultural and religious norms.
  • In the footage of one burial, only eight people are buried and three of them are not even covered in white shrouds, which is a compulsory ritual.
  • Where are remaining 1,458 corpses other than the eight whose burials have been documented?
  • A large amount (150 cases are known) of women and children were abducted on August 4, 2013 in Latakia by the anti-government forces, specifically by Jabhat Al-Nusra, as hostages to be used for negotiations and trade with the Syrian government for captured insurgents. ISTEAMS mentions that that Syrians from Latakia have come forward claiming that their relatives were on display in the footage that the US Intelligence Community has showcased to justify bombing Syria. The Latakia connection would explain a lot of the questions that arise about the bodies of the unaccompanied children.

The revelations implicate the entire intelligence apparatus of the United States and discredit it in the same tradition as the intelligence about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. There are serious flaws in the US Intelligence Community that equate to either a lack of professionalism or/and its outright subordination to Washington’s political agendas that involve false analyses. The US intelligence community has been put to shame by the dedication and determination of a lone Christian nun. Her – and ISTEAMS – modest study of the videos of the Syrian chemical attack shows they were productions involving staged bodies. ISTEAMS submitted this report to the United Nations and as it is now published so everybody else can study the report and make their own conclusions.

Source and more in The Chemical Attacks in East Ghouta Used to Justify a Military Intervention in SyriaBy Mother Agnes Mariam, September 16, 2013 and in ISTEAMS report .

Some other related random excerpts about the Syrian CW case:

  • An indictment from the Adana Public Prosecutor’s Office has declared that anti-Assad gangs are known to be producing chemical weapons inside of Turkey.Prosecution attorney presented the court with a 132-page document which contained prosecution attorney’s gathered evidence of the suspects’ links to terrorist groups in Syria including al-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic States on Iraq and Levant (Ahrar al-Sham).On May 28 Turkish security forces found a 2-kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of terrorists from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.
  • The recent findings on the chemical weapons attack of Aug. 21 on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, was “indeed a self-inflicted attack” by the Syrian opposition to provoke U.S. and military intervention in Syria. An Italian former journalist Domenico Quirico and a Belgian researcher Pierre Piccinin who were recently freed from their al-Nusra captives say they overheard their captors talking about their involvement in a deadly chemical attack “last month,” which would have been the Aug. 21, 2013 chemical weapons attack in Damascus.

  • The sarin nerve gas used in the Allepo attack, sources say, had been prepared by former Iraqi Military Industries Brig. Gen. Adnan al-Dulaimi. It then was supplied to Baath-affiliated foreign fighters of the Sunni and Saudi Arabian-backed al-Nusra Front in Aleppo, with Turkey’s cooperation, through the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province.

  • Currently a UN team of CW inspectors are in Syria and investigating three chemical weapons attacks alleged to have happened after the 21 August attack in Damascus that left hundreds dead and sparked a threat of US military action.The UN said its team, led by Ake Sellstrom, arrived in Syria for its second visit on 25 September and it is working on a “comprehensive report” that it expects to have finished by late October. The UN listed the alleged attacks, which all took place this year, as Khan al-Assal on 19 March; Sheikh Maqsoud on 13 April; Saraqeb on 29 April; Ghouta on 21 August; Bahhariya on 22 August; Jobar on 24 August and Ashrafieh Sahnaya on 25 August. Damascus pushed for the investigation of the three post-21 August incidents, accusing “militants” of using chemical gas against the army in Bahhariya, Jobar and Ashrafieh Sahnaya.
  • And a short background video about use of CW in Syria:

Consequences

September 25 is the date of dramatic turn of events in Syria. The consequences may affect the way the situation unfolds further on. The plans to stage a provocation and get the West involved in the conflict had failed, so the opposition threw away the democratic veil and showed its real face. Thirteen most combat capable groups severed ties with the National Syrian Coalition and the Free Syrian Army to form an Islamic alliance of their own. Jabhat-al-Nusra, an Al Qaeda affiliated group, is the core element of the new coalition. Liwa al-Tawhid, Liwa al-Islam and Suqur Al-Sham and a number of smaller groups joined the new alliance.

There is no other way to preserve any influence for secular opposition but to reach a reasonable compromise with Bashar Assad within the framework of Geneva peace process. More in my recent article Demolition Of CW Stockpiles Is Only Contributory Factor In The Syria War

media fabrication

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anti-US poster related to Syria

The main conclusion is that the type of sarin used in that [Aleppo, March 2013] incident was homemade. We also have evidence to assert that the type of sarin used on August 21 was the same, only of higher concentration.” Russian FM Sergey Lavrov


Demolition Of CW Stockpiles Is Only Contributory Factor In The Syria War

September 27, 2013

Syrian graffiti against foreign intervention

As the thread of military intervention by US air-strike now is fading and US-Russian agreement (The Four-stage Plan For Syria ) is going to implementation stage the situation on the ground however has good possibility to escalate. Instead of air-strike US is now more openly supplying weapons to Syrian opposition hoping so to reach her foggy aims. Latest developments show failure also with this strategy.

Demolition of CW stockpiles of Al-Assad regime or even neutralization of CW in a rebel’s possessionis only contributory factor in the Syria war.

Syrian opposition groups

The Rebels

According to the British newspaper The Telegraph the study showed that the number of insurgents fighting against the Syrian army is estimated at about 100 thousand gunmen distributed to about a thousand armed band, who came from 83 countries, including all Arab countries except Djibouti. Estimates by IHP Jane’s’ experts revealed that ten thousand of these gunmen fight to the side of Al-Qaeda affiliated groups, and 30,000 to 35,000 other insurgents are fighting within other hard-line armed groups.


“There are also at least a further 30,000 moderates belonging to groups that have an Islamic character, meaning only a small minority of the rebels are linked to secular or purely nationalist groups,” the daily noted. The stark assessment, accords with the view of Western diplomats estimate that less than one-third of the opposition forces are “palatable” to Britain, while American envoys put the figure even lower.
(Source: The Telegraph )

Foreign freedomfighters in Syria war

The roles of actors changing in operation theatre

Few days ago a statement was released in the name of a number of Syrian rebel factions announcing the severing of all ties with Brigadier General Salim Idris’s Free Syrian Army (FSA), the Supreme Military Council (SMC), the Syrian National Council (SNC), and its parent organization, the Supreme National Coalition (the other SNC).

The document is entitled “On the Coalition and the Provisional Government” and lists out four major points.

  • The first point calls for all military and civilian forces to unite under an Islamic framework is based on the sharia (Islamic Law), making it the sole source of legislation.
  • The second point is that only those members of the Syrian opposition who have “lived their concerns and shared in their sacrifices” are entitled to represent the people of Syria.
  • Thirdly, the signatories consider all coalitions formed outside of Syria as illegitimate and refuse to recognize the provisional government led by Ahmad Tumeh.
  • The final point is a call on all military and civilian opposition factions to unite their ranks, set aside their differences and “put the interests of the nation ahead of those of the individual group.”

Included among the eleven groups that have signed on to this Islamic Alliance are those moderate Islamists of the Muslim Brotherhood persuasion with the closest ties to the SNC, such as Liwa al-Tawhid or the Brigade of Unity, the Suqour al-Sham Brigades, and Liwa al-Islam; three groups that had formed a coalition back in September of last year called the Syrian Islamic Liberation Front (SILF). Also joining the alliance are such hardline Salafi Islamists  as Ahrar al-Sham and the Fajr Islamic Movement, who had formed a coalition of their own called the Syrian Islamic Front. The leading force in the alliance are the Salafi-Jihadist, Al-Qaeda branchAl-Nusra Frontwhich is considered the most extreme and the most militarily capable of opposition groups, comprised mainly of Syrians who fought in the Iraqi insurgency. (Source: SyriaReport) Conclusion: the Western-backed moderate/secular camp and the Islamist camp have now firmly ensconced themselves in the latter.

Fighters of Kurdish Popular Committees in Syria have killed at least 83 foreign terrorists affiliated to the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front in northern province of al-Raqqa. The clashes broke out in Tal Abyad village on Monday Sept. 23th 2013  when the al-Nusra terrorists were attempting to infiltrate into the area that is under control of the Kurdish fighters. Militants from Libya and Tunisia were among the dead, our correspondent says. (Source: Al-Alam )

The insignia of the Al-Nusra Front (whose full name is the Front for Assistance to the Residents of Greater Syria). It shows the map of Syria, the Islamic crescent and the silhouette of a jihad fighter

The insignia of the Al-Nusra Front shows the map of Syria, the Islamic crescent and the silhouette of a jihad fighter

The Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra)

The Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra) seeks to overthrow the Assad regime and set up an Islamic Caliphate ruled by religious Islamic law (the Shari’ah) in Greater Syriaincluding Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. During the Syrian civil war two branches of Al-Qaeda established themselves among the rebel organizations fighting to overthrow the regime of Bashar Assad. The most prominent is the Al-Nusra Front (Jabhat al-Nusra), directly subordinate to Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri. The other is The Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria, subordinate to Al-Qaeda in Iraq. In addition, other Salafist-jihadi military organizations not necessarily affiliated with Al-Qaeda operate in Syria. The two Al-Qaeda branches have an estimated 6,000-7,000 operatives, and in our assessment the number is growing.

Related to chemical weapons of the opposition side an indictment from the Adana Public Prosecutor’s Office has declared that anti-Assad gangs are known to be producing chemical weapons inside of Turkey.Prosecution attorney presented the court with a 132-page document which contained prosecution attorney’s gathered evidence of the suspects’ links to terrorist groups in Syria including al-Nusra Front and al-Qaeda-linked Islamic States on Iraq and Levant (Ahrar al-Sham).On May 28 Turkish security forces found a 2-kg cylinder with sarin gas after searching the homes of terrorists from the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front who were previously detained.

A thorough analysis about Al-Nusra Front can be found from here (Analysis: The Al-Nusra Front, 167 p also in my document library).

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Poster against US intervention on Syria


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