Farewell Ukrainian Independency And Democracy

March 4, 2014

Nur eine Partnerschaft mit der EU und Russland kann der Ukraine Stabilität geben.” (Manfred Schünemann)

Ukrainian defence News logoThe situation in Ukraine is chaotic and tense and even on the verge of military confrontation. Kiev is seems to be under rule of former opposition groups while the Strasserian protestors are still waiting if new government is acting with their expectations; Crimea is in Russian control, eastern provincies don’t accept rule from Kiev and ethnic minorities feel thread of neo-nazi groups which occupied the initiative of Maidan; ignored average citizens know the totally corrupted political system but not how to fix it.

From my perspective the future of Ukraine looks grim, it still lacks rule of law, genuine political parties, a meritocratic civil service and movement to change situation. Due de facto bankrupty of state economic and social decisions would be taken abroad, conflict between political elite and people the foreign aid will be shared among politicians and oligarchs and due regional confrontation, thread against minority rights and geopolitical spheres of influence the outcome will probably be dissolution of the country.

From popular protest to Strasserite coup

There are many who do not know they are fascists but will find it out when the time comes.”
(Ernest Hemingway, For Whom the Bell Tolls )

Strasserism by Wikipedia

Strasserism (German: Strasserismus or Straßerismus) refers to the strand of Nazism that called for, and the neo-Nazism that currently calls for, a more radical, mass-action and worker-based form of National Socialism, hostile to Jews from an anti-capitalist basis, to achieve a national rebirth.

The protests and uprising started when one part of western Ukrainians feel that their dream or great opportunity to integrate with West had slipped away. Soon came anger against economic mismanagement of rotten politicians and finally more radical and violent elements – fanatic Greco-Roman priests, hooligans, nationalists, Russophobes, neo-Nazis and anti-semitists – took the initiative. The “shock troops” were recruited from the ranks of Dynamo Kiev football fans. The middle class, especially in the traditionally nationalist, Ukrainian-speaking West, easily supported EUtopioan dream. This Ukrainian opposition was facilitated by covert action, informal diplomacy and massive funding from U.S. institution aiming to achieve what has just happened.What happened to the Ukraine on February 22, 2014 is essentially a criminal coup committed by the radical armed anarchists and Ukrainian Nazis who have been enjoying a comprehensive financial, military, diplomatic and even religious support and instigation from the Western power groups for the last two decades. Many of the Ukraine’s cities are now falling into the chaos of looting, unprovoked violence, lynch law and political repressionn.

protests vs insurgents

Besides neutral Ukrainian army and Russian troops in Crimea the only organized and armed force is the ultra-nationalist Right Sector. One of the group’s leaders, Aleksandr Muzychko, has pledged to fight against “Jews and Russians until I die.” Asserting the Right Sector’s authority over the situation, Muzychko declared that now that the democratically elected government has been overthrown, “there will be order and discipline” or “Right Sector squads will shoot the bastards on the spot.” The Right Sector is organized, well armed and focused. As the Ukrainian personnel of the private military contractors were used in provocative clandestine actions to meet Western political goals in the Middle East, there is also unconfirmed rumor that many of them were sent to Kiev to make the job they are paid for – to target both policemen and protesters on “Euromaidan” from the roofs of surrounding buildings.

The most urgent task for new rulers was to State Language Policy Act, which granted “regional language” status to all languages of minority groups that make up more than 10 per cent of the population in a given area. The decision mainly affects not only communities of Russian-speakers but others too; for example Bulgarians and Hungarians are very worried. This was totally wrong signal as well extra reason for confrontation.

Coup a la Gene Sharp’s instructions

(1) seize a central square and organise a mass peaceful sit-in,

(2) speak endlessly of danger of violent dispersal,

(3) if the authorities do nothing, provoke bloodshed,

(4) yell bloody murder,

(5) the authority is horrified and stupefied and

(6) removed and

(7) new powers take over.

The West apparently likes Yatsenyukof the Fatherland Party. He speaks English quite well and is ready to repeat all the phrases that are pleasing to Western ears. The notorious telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt suggests that the Batkivshchyna leader was Washington‘s selelection and indeed now his acting PM in Kiev. Vitali Klitschko, the boxer, is a very attractive figure: he’s got a doctorate and he’s a world-class boxing champion. Plus, he’s against corruption, he’s moderate, and he wouldn’t want to cut off Russia. But heUkraine parties‘s got no experience in government. The oligarchs there are also not going to be too keen on somebody who’s going to battle corruption too valiantly. Anyway I think that Klitschko have a good change in Presidential elections. 

As the apparent pro-European/Western uprising was succesful it tells only one part about average Ukrainians attitudes related to EU or NATO. As on 2004, 40% of Ukrainians were against joining NATO and 30% were in favour, the rest were uncertain. According to the FOM-Ukraine pollster, in April 2009, 57% of Ukrainians were against joining the alliance, while 21% were in favor. A November 2009 poll by Ukrainian Project System relieved 40.1% of Ukrainians polled said the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) with Russia was the best global security group for Ukraine to be apart of, more than 36% of the respondents of the poll said that Ukraine should remain neutral and only 12.5% supported Ukraine’s accession to NATO.

Support in Ukraine for NATO membership since 2002 (Source: Wikipedia)

Polls

For

Against

2002 Razumkov Centre

32%

32.2%

2004 University of Sussex

30%

40%

April 2009

21%

57%

November 2009 Ukrainian Project System

12.5%

December 2009 Democratic Initiative Foundation

21%

60%

January 2011 RATINGFOM-Ukraine

24%

70%

February 2012 RATING

20%

70%

July 2012 RATING

17%

70%

December 2012 Democratic Initiatives Foundation & Razumkov Center

15%

60%

Ukrainian attitudes towards Russia (Source: Wikipedia)

Opinion Oct 2008 Jun 2009 Sept 2009 Nov 2009 Sep 2011 Jan 2012 Apr 2013
Good

88%

91%

93%

96%

80%

86%

70%

Negative

9%

13%

9%

12%

Ukraine’s dissolution after military confrontation

Leaders of mainly Russian-speaking regions of eastern Ukraine have challenged the legitimacy of the national (Kiev) parliament and have taken control of their territories. These regions – Kharkiv, Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Lugansk and Crimea – have a population of 14.4 million. Most are important industrial centers. The nightmare scenario, however, is the disintegration of the country.

Ukraine territory

The situation has now gone from chaos to the verge of military confrontation. The pro-Russia region of Crimea is seething, and the new central government that took over in Kiev after Mr. Yanukovych fled is barely functioning. The fact that the Crimean peninsula – the main flashpoint in Ukraine’s crisis – is a pro-Russia part of Ukraine, separated from the rest of the country geographically, historically and politically and it also hosts Russia’s Black Sea Fleet. Personally I do not believe that situation in Ukraine will escalate to war. The globalcontext of military confrontation in Ukraine is related to strategic interests of Russia, U.S. foreign policy and NATO’s expansion since the end of the Cold War. In my opinion this part of problem is easiest to solve when both sides define and agree each other’s red lines.
Russian flags in Ukraine
The citizens in Ukraine do not have shared concept of Ukrainian identity; one explanation can be that the Ukrainian state – with borders today – was assembled, not by Ukrainians themselves but by outsiders. The eastern and southern provinces of Ukraine are Russian areas that were added to Ukraine in the 1950s by the Soviet leadership in order to water down the influence of the nazi elements in the western Ukraine that had fought for Adolf Hitler against the Soviet Union during WW2.

Ukraine means ‘borderlandand that it exactly is in geo-strategy. Some form of annexation of Russian-speaking areas – and not only Crimea – may have the Kremlin’s backing. The tension between the regions is real, and heavy pro-EU pressure could split the country which on the other hand might blanguage id in Ukrainee not so bad outcome. The outcome might be then a federation or confederation and anyway more power in regions than today. I hope that whatever way Ukrainians choose they can make it in future without interference from abroad.

Economic independence went already
After all the emotional revolutionary clamor dies down, the revolutionary regime will be subject to the tender mercies of European bankers and the IMF, as it pleads for desperately needed loans in the tens of billions of dollars. Ukraine’s new rulers have said loans worth $37 billion went missing from state accounts during Yanukovich’s three years in power. Ukraine hoped to begin receiving international aid soon and was determined to fulfil conditions needed for IMF support. A previous deal collapsed after Kiev failed to implement IMF demands for lower gas subsidies, which would have hurt Ukrainians by pushing up energy prices sharply. The United States promised to add economic aid to anticipated IMF and EU packages for the Ukraine. The country has asked for $35bn. EU officials put its short-term needs at $4bn.

As before possible rescue package by the IMF would carry harsh conditions similar the ones imposed on Greece or worse. This is also a powerful factor for workers in the eastern part to oppose the turn to the EU. Although they hate the oligarchs and do not love the ousted President or his party, they fear that any alternative would be worse for them. There would have to be savage cuts in public spending, increased taxation and a reduction in subsidies. The IMF is demanding a substantial increase in energy prices of the order of 40 percent. Ukraine owes $73 billion in foreign debt, and $12 billion of that comes this year. It’s the IMF’s job to dispense unpleasant medicine, and so far neither Brussels nor Washington have offered much to sweeten the pill.

In December 2013, President Putin promised Yanukovich a $15 billion bailout, but Russia has put the deal on hold after releasing an initial instalment, saying it wants more clarity about the new government and its policies. Because of its history, geographical location, and both natural and constructed economic ties, there is no way Ukraine will ever be a prosperous, healthy, or united country unless it has a non-antagonistic relationship with Russia. A federation with governors elected locally and not appointed by a winner-take-all president or prime minister would be essential. Real autonomy for Crimea will also be required. Russia has strong cultural, historical and economic ties with eastern Ukraine, and some factories there have contracts with the Russian military. One possiblity is that Ukraine could become a federation giving more power to its regions – a move, that might enable eastern regions to join a trading bloc led by Russia. The key principle in my opinion is that Ukraine must not be forced to choose between east and west, and that its future peace and prosperity depends on balanced and respectful economic and other relationships with EU and Russia.

Ukraine’s future will be determined by the extent to which the IMF, the United States, or the European Union can sweeten its aid package. However, because of the eurozone crisis in Europe and the debt crisis in the United States, financial pledges face a high hurdle. Objectively, the optimal scenario for Ukrainian economy would be to continue the old policies of geopolitical “neutrality”, without decisive integration into Western or Eastern structures. Any “choice” will be a severe blow to Ukrainian exports.

 “Ukraine’s capital has fallen with pro-Western street coup.”

“Ukraine’s capital has fallen with pro-Western street coup.”

Oligarchs have benefited from the corruption and political chaos in Ukraine over the past two decades. A tiny handful of wealthy robber barons enjoy obscene wealth from the property they have stolen from the people through so-called privatisation. About half a dozen oligarchs in Ukraine have concentrated fabulous wealth since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The oligarchy continues to loot the people, especially through its hold over the banks that charge exorbitant rates of interest (25-30%). While the oligarchs fight over the division of the plunder, small businesses are being ruined. Between 2010 and 2012 the number of businesses shrank by 600,000, according to the state statistics committee of Ukraine. There is a split within the oligarchy as the heavy industry bosses in the eastern part of Ukraine, with only Russia to sell their products to, protested that the price for European integration was too high while the steel industry bosses, with export markets in the EU and Asia, maintained their silence.

The Ukrainian economy suffers from a fatal combination of all the worst features of the old bureaucratic state and all the worst features of gangster capitalism. According to the World Bank, Ukraine is among the top 10 recipients of remittances from abroad, with transactions reaching $9.3bn in 2013. It estimates the total number of Ukrainians working abroad at close to five million. In 2012 they sent home $7.5bn (4% of Ukraine’s GDP) through bank transfers. It easy to understand that the EU’s offer of a trade deal was popular in the western Ukraine because it promised to ease the conditions for immigration.

USA vs UkraineThe EU is hardly likely to send large amounts of money to Ukraine‘s totally corrupted system so they look to the USA to help them out under the disguise of the IMF. The idea that Moscow would be prepared to continue to underwrite the debts of a government in Kiev that is openly hostile to Russia is unrealistic dream. Instead any rapprochement with the EU could be met by high tariffs against Ukrainian exports to Russia. They could also call in their outstanding debts. That would be enough to send the Ukrainian economy – already in a very bad state – into free fall with dire consequences. Anyway what would be left of the idea of Ukrainian national sovereignty when all important economic and social decisions would be taken by European and American bankers?

Ukraine’s democracy as an illusion

Of the people that protested, few had read the Association Agreement. Most thought that immediately after it was signed they would be able to travel to Europe without a visa and that there would be an end to corruption in Ukraine and life would be like it is in Europe. That wasn’t going to be the case.” (Vera Kovalenko, Kiev)

Krim 2014The obstacle clouding over the future of Ukraine‘s democracy is the rotten political elite and some dozen oligarchs behind system .The real fundamental conflict in Ukraine is between ordinary citizens and political elite. So there are some cold realities ahead for Ukraine’s revolutionaries. It is normal faith of Strasserism that sc revolutions will soon be hijacked; the recent examples can be found from outcome of “Arab Spring”. The bottom line now is that there is not a one political party in Kiev which represents other interests than those of their leaders – the masses will be bystander like always.

How to progress from uprising to revolution? The main weakness of the uprising in Ukraine has been the absence of an independent movement of the working class. According Marxist/Trotskyistperspective Where is Ukraine going? by Alan Woods – the only real alternative to the rule of the oligarchs is a democratic Socialist Ukraine, in which the land, the banks and the industries would be in the hands of the working class and the wealth of the country would be used for the benefit of all. Such a programme could cut across all differences between East and West, uniting all the working people against the wealthy parasites and political elite. The first step would be the confiscation of all the wealth and property. The loot should be returned to the people of Ukraine from who it was robbed. It should be used to finance the reconstruction of Ukraine on the basis of a democratically planned socialist economy.

The second step is the repudiation of all the debts contracted by the oligarchy and its political puppets. The Ukrainian people were never consulted about the shady deals of their rulers and cannot accept any responsibility for them. They must not permit the foreign robbers to suck any more of their blood! The wealth created by the Ukrainian workers must remain in Ukraine and be used for the benefit of the people who created it. Once the working class has thrown the parasites off its back and taken control of the means of production, the sky would be the limit. Unfortunately I estimate that this kind of progress is at least as big utopia than Ukraine’s EU membership although better one.

Ideal solutions unfortunately mission impossible

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 have widely lost their legitimacy. There is real change for progress by creating new power-structures at grassroots. The task would be the gradual building of grassroots networks and institutions that reflect the will of the people, in all different ways and complexity. Unfortunately I’m afraid that this kind of challenge is too big any time soon in Ukraine.

On the opposite there is also change that counter-move by centralized establishment will win with help of EU, US and Russia. An easy task is to gain political stability by making deal between foreign powers, oligarchs and national political elite. However, if agreements are again conducted by the same power elites – establishment – 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 could be, that 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 “Ukrainian Spring” and real democracy could be flowering.

My conclusions

In my opinion the only practical peaceful way to save Ukraine’s Potemkinin villages as independent united state is that the political elites from moderate opposition parties now ruling in Kiev and Party of regions plus other parties from ousted government as well oligarchs behind them join their forces to slam The Right Sector and similar groups down. An ideal pragmatic outcome would be a broad settlement involving Ukraine’s new leadership (after May elections), Russia and the EU, arranged under the auspices of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe. This does not solve the real fundamental conflict in Ukraine is between ordinary citizens and political elite. One possible way of preserving territorial integrity would be decentralization — giving more autonomy to the different regions of Ukraine. Although federalization is seen in Kiev and western Ukraine as a step toward ultimate partition, it could in fact help hold Ukraine together.


More about Ukraine e.g. in

Ukraine’s Would-be Coup As New Example About US Gangsterism
Ukraine: End of Orange Revolution, start of Stabilisation
Ukraine – choosing a new Way
Stop to Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Nato dreams can start the policy of detente again

Appendix:

The Uniate Church –

One of the the ultranationalist elements in the Western Ukraine

The Uniate Church, a minority religious Greek-Catholic community of the Eastern rite, created by the Holy See in XVI century in a desperate attempt to weaken close ties of Rzeczpospolita’s Orthodox with Moscow. Their tactic was to aggressively occupy Orthodox cathedrals on the canonic territory of the Moscow Patriarchate. The last thing the Uniate clergy used to preach in the occupied churches for all these years was the Christian call for repentance and peace. Instead they propagated a new crusade against the Orthodox and directly instigated and justified race-motivated prosecutions and even killings, acting exactly like radical jihadist preachers of the militant pseudo-Islamic sects.

Suffice to watch a “Sunday sermon” by Mykhailo Arsenych, the clergyman from a local Uniate church in Ivano-Frankovsk region, Ukraine saying: “Today we are really ready for a revolution.The only effective methods of combat are assassination and terror! We want to be sure that no Chinese, Negro, Jew or Muscovite will try to come and grab our land tomorrow!”

Appendix 2:

On the other side a number of Ukrainian regions have announced referendums on the issue of secession from Ukraine.  One possible outcome:

Ukraine vs Crimea map

Appendix 3:

Russian forces on Ukraine border

A senior security chief in Kiev said Moscow could launch a full-scale  invasion and Russian troops would be in the Ukrainian capital within ‘two or three hours’ of the order to advance.  An option this too!


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


Syrian Rebels Admit Chemical Attack In Damascus???

August 31, 2013

I just collide with an amazing article Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh. There Free Syrian Army Rebel has come out and admitted that the rebels were responsible for the chemical attack in Syria blamed upon Syrian government forces. If this information isn’t bad enough, the rebels also admit that the weapons were supplied to them by US ally Saudi Arabia. I have not yet could confirm different sources and facts so I can not say if this information is true or false. However if it is a true story it puts the case upside down compared to mainstream media info and actions taken based to earlier picture.

After quote there is also a video showing rebels launching chemical ammunition probably on July 2013.

EXCLUSIVE: Syrians In Ghouta Claim Saudi-Supplied Rebels Behind Chemical Attack by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Ababneh

Ghouta, Syria — As the machinery for a U.S.-led military intervention in Syria gathers pace following last week’s chemical weapons attack, the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit.

Interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta, a suburb of the Syrian capital, where the humanitarian agency Doctors Without Borders said at least 355 people had died last week from what it believed to be a neurotoxic agent, appear to indicate as much.

The U.S., Britain, and France as well as the Arab League have accused the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for carrying out the chemical weapons attack, which mainly targeted civilians. U.S. warships are stationed in the Mediterranean Sea to launch military strikes against Syria in punishment for carrying out a massive chemical weapons attack. The U.S. and others are not interested in examining any contrary evidence, with U.S Secretary of State John Kerry sayingMonday that Assad’s guilt was “a judgment … already clear to the world.”

However, from numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families, a different picture emerges. Many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the dealing gas attack.

My son came to me two weeks ago asking what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to carry,” said Abu Abdel-Moneim, the father of a rebel fighting to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghouta.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and 12 other rebels were killed inside of a tunnel used to store weapons provided by a Saudi militant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was leading a fighting battalion. The father described the weapons as having a “tube-like structure” while others were like a “huge gas bottle.”

Ghouta townspeople said the rebels were using mosques and private houses to sleep while storing their weapons in tunnels.

Abdel-Moneim said his son and the others died during the chemical weapons attack. That same day, the militant group Jabhat al-Nusra, which is linked to al-Qaida, announced that it would similarly attack civilians in the Assad regime’s heartland of Latakia on Syria’s western coast, in purported retaliation.

They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” complained a female fighter named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chemical weapons. We never imagined they were chemical weapons.”

When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle and use them,” she warned. She, like other Syrians, do not want to use their full names for fear of retribution.

A well-known rebel leader in Ghouta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jabhat al-Nusra militants do not cooperate with other rebels, except with fighting on the ground. They do not share secret information. They merely used some ordinary rebels to carry and operate this material,” he said.

We were very curious about these arms. And unfortunately, some of the fighters handled the weapons improperly and set off the explosions,” ‘J’ said.

Doctors who treated the chemical weapons attack victims cautioned interviewers to be careful about asking questions regarding who, exactly, was responsible for the deadly assault.

The humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders added that health workers aiding 3,600 patients also reported experiencing similar symptoms, including frothing at the mouth, respiratory distress, convulsions and blurry vision. The group has not been able to independently verify the information.

More than a dozen rebels interviewed reported that their salaries came from the Saudi government.

Saudi involvement

In a recent article for Business Insider, reporter Geoffrey Ingersoll highlighted Saudi Prince Bandar’s role in the two-and-a-half year Syrian civil war. Many observers believe Bandar, with his close ties to Washington, has been at the very heart of the push for war by the U.S. against Assad.

Ingersoll referred to an article in the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph about secret Russian-Saudi talksalleging that Bandar offered Russian President Vladimir Putin cheap oil in exchange for dumping Assad.

Prince Bandar pledged to safeguard Russia’s naval base in Syria if the Assad regime is toppled, but he also hinted at Chechen terrorist attacks on Russia’s Winter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” Ingersoll wrote.

I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us,” Bandar allegedly told the Russians.

Along with Saudi officials, the U.S. allegedly gave the Saudi intelligence chief the thumbs up to conduct these talks with Russia, which comes as no surprise,” Ingersoll wrote.

Bandar is American-educated, both military and collegiate, served as a highly influential Saudi Ambassador to the U.S., and the CIA totally loves this guy,” he added.

According to U.K.’s Independent newspaper, it was Prince Bandar’s intelligence agency that first brought allegations of the use of sarin gas by the regime to the attention of Western allies in February.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that the CIA realized Saudi Arabia was “serious” about toppling Assad when the Saudi king named Prince Bandar to lead the effort.

They believed that Prince Bandar, a veteran of the diplomatic intrigues of Washington and the Arab world, could deliver what the CIA couldn’t: planeloads of money and arms, and, as one U.S. diplomat put it, wasta, Arabic for under-the-table clout,” it said.

Bandar has been advancing Saudi Arabia’s top foreign policy goal, WSJ reported, of defeating Assad and his Iranian and Hezbollah allies.

To that aim, Bandar worked Washington to back a program to arm and train rebels out of a planned military base in Jordan.

The newspaper reports that he met with the “uneasy Jordanians about such a base”:

His meetings in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah sometimes ran to eight hours in a single sitting. “The king would joke: ‘Oh, Bandar’s coming again? Let’s clear two days for the meeting,’ ” said a person familiar with the meetings.Jordan’s financial dependence on Saudi Arabia may have given the Saudis strong leverage. An operations center in Jordan started going online in the summer of 2012, including an airstrip and warehouses for arms. Saudi-procured AK-47s and ammunition arrived, WSJ reported, citing Arab officials.

Although Saudi Arabia has officially maintained that it supported more moderate rebels, the newspaper reported that “funds and arms were being funneled to radicals on the side, simply to counter the influence of rival Islamists backed by Qatar.”

But rebels interviewed said Prince Bandar is referred to as “al-Habib” or ‘the lover’ by al-Qaida militants fighting in Syria.

Peter Oborne, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Thursday, has issued a word of caution about Washington’s rush to punish the Assad regime with so-called ‘limited’ strikes not meant to overthrow the Syrian leader but diminish his capacity to use chemical weapons:

Consider this: the only beneficiaries from the atrocity were the rebels, previously losing the war, who now have Britain and America ready to intervene on their side. While there seems to be little doubt that chemical weapons were used, there is doubt about who deployed them.

It is important to remember that Assad has been accused of using poison gas against civilians before. But on that occasion, Carla del Ponte, a U.N. commissioner on Syria, concluded that the rebels, not Assad, were probably responsible.Some information in this article could not be independently verified. Mint Press News will continue to provide further information and updates .

Dale Gavlak is a Middle East correspondent for Mint Press News and the Associated Press. Gavlak has been stationed in Amman, Jordan for the Associated Press for over two decades. An expert in Middle Eastern Affairs, Gavlak currently covers the Levant region of the Middle East for AP, National Public Radio and Mint Press News, writing on topics including politics, social issues and economic trends. Dale holds a M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Chicago. Contact Dale at dgavlak@mintpressnews.com

Yahya Ababneh is a Jordanian freelance journalist and is currently working on a master’s degree in journalism,  He has covered events in Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Libya. His stories have appeared on Amman Net, Saraya News, Gerasa News and elsewhere.

Source: Article printed from Infowars: http://www.infowars.com

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Read more:

Syria: From War To Dissolution With Help Of Media

 

Appendix

Syrian Girl Clears The Air on Chemical Attack in Syria:


Confrontation Between Transnistria and Moldova Deepening

June 28, 2013

Regional map MoldovaThe escalation of tensions between Moldova and the break-away Transnistria region is causing concern in the EU and neighbouring Romania. Growing dispute between parties started by unilateral actions by both parties during this Spring. First Moldova established migration control of citizens in six checkpoints, second Transnistria started to mark border in in the sc Security Zone or line of demarcation after the Transnistrian war (1992).

Transnistria – also known as Transdnistria aka Pridnestrovie aka Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica (PMR) – is a new and emerging country in South Eastern Europe, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine. Moldova is one of the frontlines of “battlefield” of interest spheres between EU and Russia, between U.S. and Russia and between future energy political deals. It is also a test for international law, conflict management and territorial sovereignty.

From Moldovan point of view Transnistria’s actions would expand the separatist region to include eight Moldovan villages. There is heightened fears in region of a military confrontation with Moldova, but in my opinion this can be avoided.

Current confrontation

The present round of changes started already on March 2013 in particular, the Republic of Moldova unilaterally decided to establish migration control of citizens in the six checkpoints: Gyrbovets (Novye Aneny), Khadzhimus (Kaushany), Dubossary, Kriulyany, Rezina, Seneteuka (Floreshty) without proper coordination at the bilateral or multilateral international level and within the framework of the Joint Control Commission. (Source PMR FA) The decision imposes limitations on the citizens of Russia, living in Transnistria (about 150 thousand people) and forming one-fourth of Transnistria’s population. The Moldovan authorities said they did it in order to establish order on the future eastern border of the European Union, which Moldova plans to join.

Tensions increased during the night of April 26-27 in the Security Zone of the Republic of Moldova. The Security Zone was set up at the end of the Transnistrian war (March-July 1992). The Transnistrian authorities unilaterally installed two checkpoints between the village of Varniţa (a commune that remains controlled by the Moldovan government) and the city of Bender (controlled by the separatist authorities of Transnistria). This led to clashes between Moldovan civilians, who tried to remove the checkpoints, and the Transnistrian militia, who intervened to stop them. The conflict was brought to an end a few hours later, by the Unified Control Commission, a joint mechanism established to monitor, among other things, the Security Zone. Transnistria claimed that the new checkpoints were aimed at combatting smuggling. (Source: Globalvoice )

Moldovan army is prepared to defend itself if a violent conflict is to escalates. However, a scenario similar to the one in 1992 is unlikely, said Vitalie Marinuta, Moldovan Defense Minister. The Moldovan Defense Minister believes that the separatists do not have the guts to generate a violent conflict because they are currently not fully supported by Russia.“Transnistrian army’s potential cannot break out a new military conflict, especially to continue this action alone,” the Minister pointed out. “On the other hand, Russia does not have an interest at the moment to support such a conflict because loses at international level would be greater than any gains.”According to the Moldovan official, the mobilization of resources of Transnistria, as well as the support of this regime by the population of the region is not as strong as it was back in 1992. Moreover, Russia has weaker military assets which “are incapable to carry on a prospect military attack.”The Moldovan Government admits that after the adoption of the so-called law on state border of Transnistria, issued by Transnistrian’s president Shevchuk, Moldova is losing their struggle in the Eastern districts. From Moldova’s perspective, according to the bill, the separatist region will cover some towns and villages which are currently under the legitimate authorities of Moldova. ((Source: Moldova.org (USA based NGO))

Political turbulence on both sides

Moldova itself has been marked by political turbulence in recent years. In Chișinău, there is a big fight, for money and power.The constant power struggle left Moldova without a president for nearly two years, then without a prime minister, and then also without a speaker of the Parliament. Earlier this year there was the collapse of Moldova’s pro-European governing coalition.

In 2011 presidential elections President Igor Smirnov, who had been in power since Transnistria declared independence in 1990, was replaced by opposition MP and former speaker of the Supreme Council Yevgeny Shevchuk. Earlier President Shevchuk, made a startling proposal to move the region’s legislature, the Supreme Council, from Tiraspol to the territory’s second-largest city, Bender. The choice of Bender was clearly symbolic: the city is the site of one of the bloodiest battles in the 1990s war that ended with Transnistria declaring independence from the Republic of Moldova. The proposed move would also take the significant step of carrying Transdniester’s political center of gravity across the Dniester River, which geographically separates the bulk of the breakaway region from Moldova proper. Bender is one of the few regions on the Dniester’s western bank that is under Transdniester’s de facto jurisdiction. Bender also lies within the security zone established after the war, a narrow strip that includes Transdniestrian and Moldovan exclave territories on both banks of the river. The terms of the 1992 cease-fire agreement prohibit either party from taking actions that would deliberately aggravate tensions between the two sides. In this light, the Bender proposal has been interpreted by some as the kind of land grab that has been seen in other territorial conflicts in the former Soviet Union and the post-war Balkans. Supreme Council lawmakers rejected the proposal on May 23, voting to pass a resolution stating that the Transdniestrian parliament should remain in the territory’s de facto capital, Tiraspol.

Graphics credit: RFE/RL

One should however emphasize that the power changes in Transnistria give positive boost to peace process: the official negotiation process re-started after six years interruption in November 2011 in Vilnius, Lithuania, to be followed by a meeting on February 2012 in Dublin, Ireland and on April 2012. Finally the Document of principles and procedures and agenda of negotiations were agreed in Vienna, whereas on July 2012 this Document was signed. It included such issues as freedom of movement of passengers and cargo, traffic of trains, education issues,etc. Now the progress seems to go backwards.

From war towards independence

Moldova was part of Romania before the Soviet Union annexed it in World War II. Before the First World War it was part of Tsarist Russia. A landlocked country lying between Romania and Ukraine, most people speak Romanian, although the country’s constitution calls the language Moldovan. Moldova became independent in 1991. Moldovans share a linguistic and historical heritage with Romania. Although widely seen as part of Moldova, historically, Transnistria and Moldova were always separate. Throughout 2500 years of history, the Dniester River forming the current border has been a traditional border between Slav lands (Scythia, 450 B.C.) to the East and Romanian lands (Dacia) to the West.

In 1992 Moldova and Transdnistria fought a brief, bitter war which the separatists won, with the assistance of a contingent of locally-based Russian troops left over from the Soviet Red Army. Cease fire left Russian troops in place as peacekeepers and Transdnistria has since then acted de facto as independent – although not recognized – state. Transnistria region broke away in Soviet times because it feared Moldova would unite with Romania. Most of Moldova was once part of its western neighbour.

Most of Moldova was once part of Romania and now there are growing social forces in Moldova seeking reunification with its western neighbour for nationalist reasons and as an easy path to EU membership. Already between 10% and 20% of Moldovans have Romanian, and by extension EU, passports. The fear of Romanian expansionism frightens Transnistria away from reconciliation, while the “Kosovo precedent” gives its arguments for independence more weight. In 2009 Romanian President Traian Basescu told the Romanian parliament that he would fast-track Moldovans for Romanian citizenship following riots in the Moldova (Source DW) . Fast-tracking citizenship to some 1m people next door in Moldova, in effect giving EU citizenship to a quarter of the population of Europe’s poorest state.

Transnistrian population – about 555,000 people (2009). 90% of the population of Transnistria are citizens of the unrecognized Transnistria. Transnistrians have double or triple citizenship, including:

a) Citizens of Moldova – around 300,000 people (including double citizens of Russia (around 170,000, or EU states (around 80%) Romania, Bulgaria, Czech Republic)

b) Citizens of Russia – around 150,000 people (including around 15,000 – double the citizens of Belarus, Israel, Turkey); without quantity of dual citizenship Russia and Moldova (around 20,000)

c) Citizens of Ukraine – around 100,000 people. There are around 20,000-30,000 people with dual citizenship (Moldova and Ukraine, or Russia and Ukraine), or triple citizenship (Moldova, Russia and Ukraine). They are considered in the quantity of citizens of Ukraine and finally

d) persons without citizenship – around 20,000-30,000 people.

In my opinion even without international recognizion Transnistria meets the requirements for sovereign statehood under international law, as it has a defined territory, a population, effective elected authority, and the capability to enter into international relations. It is currently seeking international recognition of its de facto independence and statehood.

Frozen talks

Ten years of negotiations are better than one day of war.” ( Sergey Gubarev, Russian diplomat on Transdnistrian Moldovan conflict )

Conflict was frozen nearly ten years, then started first serious try to find sustainable solution. Internationally most used format has been sc 5 +2 process (Moldova and Transdniester as sides in negotiations, with Russia, Ukraine and the OSCE acting as intermediaries and the EU and the US as observers). Also 2+1 format (Moldova and PMR as parties, Russia mediator) has been used. In February 2011 the so-called “5 + 2 Talks” were started again in Vienna. More about negotiation history in my article Transnistrian number game .

Related to current escalation of tensions Moldova’s Parliament on June 22nd 2013 has called on international partners (the U.S., the European Union, Russia, Ukraine and the Organization for Security and Cooperation )negotiating a settlement with a breakaway republic to stop separatists from seizing territory in eastern Moldova to “resolve the situation in Trans-Dniester through political and peaceful means, respecting democratic…principles.” (Source: Montreal Gazette )

The European Union reacted to the so-called legal act on state border issued by the Transnistrian leadership. High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton issued a statement on June 21 saying that she supports the statement made on June 17 by the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Leonid Kozhara, calling on sides to abstain from unilateral actions which impede the negotiation process. “I urge the two sides of the Transnistrian conflict to work in a constructive spirit, within the framework of the ‘5+2’ negotiating process, towards a peaceful settlement,” Catherine Ashton said. “I reaffirm the EU’s commitment to supporting the settlement process, in the interest and for the benefit of the populations on the ground, through dialogue with all the parties concerned and through an extensive programme of confidence-building measures open to both sides.” The Romanian Foreign Minister, Titus Corlatean, appealed to the two sides to refrain from unilateral action. “I urge my colleagues in Chisinau (Moldova) to be politically intelligent people and not to get back to provocations,” Corlatean said. (Source e.g: Moldova.org )

When Ukraine took on the rotating chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) this year, it pledged to make progress on Moldova-Transnistria conflict. However during negotiations on May 2013 in Odessa the hopes of a breakthrough appeared increasingly distant. The so-called 5+2 group was barely able to agree on an agenda for the talks, let alone negotiate a any settlement to this 21-year-old frozen conflict.

Kozak plans as solution

Moldova and Transnistria have been close for solution by widely agreed sc “Kozak plan” which still is valid for further examination.

In the Spring 2003 Dimitry Kozakin – a special envoy of Russian President Putin – started to broke deal between local stakeholders and finaally proposed on the creation of an assymmetric federal Moldovan state, with Moldova holding a majority and Transnistria being a minority part of the federation. Known as “the Kozak plan”, it did not coincide with the Transnistrian position, which sought equal status between Transnistria and Moldova, but gave Transnistria veto powers over future constitutional changes; this encouraged Transnistria to sign it. However when the plan was ready and preliminary agreed to sign on November 2003 the Western powers put some pressure towards Moldova leading to President Voronin’s rejection to sign.

August 2008 was the turning point in negotiation process. Conflict in Georgia was in background when Russian President Medvedev first held talks with Moldova’s President Voronin and later with Transdnistria’s leader Smirnov. 5+2 format was replaced with 1+2 format including Moscow as mediator, Chisinau and Tiraspol as the parties of conflict. The basic elements of new deal are probably similar like in Kozak plan I. The price of reunion will be high to Moldova because probably federation form with strong minority or veto rules would neutralize Moldova’s foreign policy related integration towards EU and Nato. Higher price for Moldova could be even stronger sovereignty of Transnistria with thread that also other autonomous territory of Moldova – namely Gagauz region – would follow the steps of Transdnistria; it is expected that the demands of transforming Gagauzia region from autonomy to republic will increase.

(Note: The Moldovan parliament granted autonomous status to the Turkic-language speaking Gagauz region in the southwest of the republic in late 1994. Earlier the proclamation of the Gagauz Union Republic took place on 19 August 1990 and Moldovan military forces entered to Gagauzia right after that. Now Gagauz has powers over its own political, economic and cultural affairs.)


There is an opinion, that the Transnistrian conflict will be resolved if Moldova joins the Eurasian Economic Union (EurAsES or EAEC)where Moldova now has an observer status: “The Transnistrian conflict is soluble. When we all come into the EurAsES, all questions will be resolved”. However this option seems to be unrealistic. A new approach (joint initiative of Russia and Germany, Meseburg, 2010) by the EU and Russia to resolve the conflict could be the setting up of a joint Political and Security Committee (EU-R-PSC) at minister level.. Transnistria thereby became a test case for future cooperation with Russia.


Anti-Muslim Film Camouflaged Terrorist Campaign

September 20, 2012

Article (shorter version) first published as Anti-Muslim Film Camouflaged Terrorist Campaign on Technorati.

Muslim-protests, targeting symbols of US influence ranging from embassies and schools to fast food chains, have been spreading around the world after the showing of an anti-Muslim film – “Innocence of Muslims” – on Youtube. In my opinion, this substandard film portraying the Prophet Muhammad in a negative light, might however be just an excuse and cover up not only for riots and angry protests across the Muslim world, but also for a more serious terrorist campaign. This campaign might well put recent U.S. Foreign policy in question, as well the re-election of President Obama.

I have been watching this film on Youtube. The film – “Innocence of Muslims”, dubbed version – depicts Muhammad variously as a cartoon-ish lecher, fool and thug. I am not any kind of expert with movies, but for me this film was amateurish, silly, low-budget ($ 5 million – LOL), and a miserably acted unpleasant piece of trash without any meaningful content.

Anyway, Mr Nakoula (a Copt Christian, born in Egypt) from Los Angeles – if he is behind this art work – is more known as a small criminal than from being part of the movie industry. That said, understanding Muhammed’s status within Islam even this kind of rubbish really can offend many Muslims.

The al Qaeda flag has been raised in Benghazi, Tunis, Sinai, and Syria

From Morocco to Indonesia — and even in Sydney, Australia — the Muslim masses continued their rioting over the weekend. U.S. embassies in Egypt, Tunisia and Yemen were once again under attack.

Al-Qaida’s most active branch in the Middle East has called for more attacks on U.S. embassies to “set the fires blazing,” seeking to co-opt outrage over the film, as waves of protests have swept 20 countries during this last week.

The most serious violence took place in Libya, where U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens was killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate compound in the eastern city of Benghazi, the birthplace of the revolution that last year overthrew Moammar Gadhafi. The exact circumstances of the ambassador’s death remain unclear. On Tuesday night a group of extremists attacked the U.. consulate building, setting it on fire, and killing U.S. diplomatic officer with three of his staff.

Earlier in June there was an attack on the UK ambassador to Libya, Dominic Asquith. Two British bodyguards were injured after a rocket was fired at Asquith’s convoy in Benghazi, hitting his security escort. There have been similar attacks in Benghazi on the Red Cross and the UN.

U.S. Mission in Tirana has issued some travel warnings for Albania like around Muslim world. However dismissing rumours to the contrary, Albania’s League of Imams said they had no plans to stage any public protests against the notorious film that has caused such unrest in the Islamic world.

Protests against the film intensified in Tunisia and Sudan, and spread in Lebanon, with three Tunisians, three Sudanese and one Lebanese killed as clashes between demonstrators and police ensued on Friday (14th Sept.2012). Protesters briefly stormed the U.S. Embassy compound in Tunisia’s capital, tearing down the American flag and raising a flag with the Muslim profession of faith on it as part of the protests. Protesters also set fire to and looted an American school adjacent to the embassy compound and prevented firefighters from approaching it.

Amid the recent wave of riots dozens of Salafist Islamist gunmen stormed a Multinational Force and Observers (MFO) base in Al-Jora in the Sinai Peninsula, leaving four officers wounded in an exchange of gunfire, as well as causing heavy damage to the base. The attackers tore down the international peacekeeping force’s flags from the guard posts, raising black flags that symbolize the militant Islamic groups operating in Sinai. During the incident, the protesters managed to easily overtake the MFO security detail, jump over the barbed wire fence, enter the base and wreak havoc once inside, where they seized control of radio equipment and ammunition depots.



Despite all mentioned above one must notice that this is in no way a “mass movement” of reaction. It is in fact very small and is actually being hyped up by the world media to look far bigger than it really is.

Film Camouflaged Terrorist Campaig

Related to Benghazi Debkafile’s counter-terror sources report that far from being a spontaneous raid by angry Islamists, it was a professionally executed terrorist operation by a professional Al Qaeda assassination team, whose 20 members acted under the orders of their leader Ayman al Zawahri after special training. They were all Libyans, freed last year from prisons where they were serving sentences for terrorism passed during the late Muammar Qaddafi’s rule.  In a video tape released a few hours before the attack, Zawahri called on the faithful to take revenge on the United States for liquidating one of the organization’s top operatives, Libyan-born Abu Yahya al-Libi in June by a US drone in northwestern Pakistan.

The protest in Benghazi exposed the alarming presence of al-Qaeda elements in Libya. When the “Arab Spring” erupted in Libya last year, Muammar Gaddafi warned that al-Qaeda would take Libya over if he is overthrown. US intelligence agencies were also aware of the presence of al-Qaeda elements in Libya and knew of their training in Afghanistan. The timing of the attack, a day after the anniversary of the September 11 terror attacks, was not coincidental.

U.S. Response

President Obama does not want to entangle his country in any foreign conflicts. It seems he would prefer to have the U.S. stay in the background. Quite descriptive, if not surprising, was that one of the first responses to the Benghazi events by the White House was to attack the Romney campaign and his remarks rather than to first and foremost condemn and address the murders of American citizens.

Rose Corona hits the nail in the head in her column in Forbes. A Quote:

This is not the first time the Obama administrations or the media’s response has been to focus on the distraction rather than the real issue. I liken it to the argument that they prefer to focus on a particular style of dishwasher for the kitchen or color of wallpaper in living room while all the time ignoring that fact that the house is on fire. The dishwasher and wallpaper does not matter if the house burns to the ground.

Obama gambled with the Middle East during his first term. He not only promised successful dialogue with Iran and, of course, to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he also assured us that he would be able to reconcile cultures.

On the other hand the Islamic view could be that Stevens previously was Obama’s representative to America’s puppet Libyan National Transition Council. It helped Washington and NATO partners ravage the country mercilessly. They’re responsible for killing tens of thousands of civilians, causing widespread destruction, leaving countless numbers homeless, displaced, and impoverished, as well as ending cherished social programs Gaddafi instituted.

Despite reports about a planned attack the White House and its minions continue to try to use this anti-Muhammed YouTube video as the “reason” for what is happening. This was not a terror attack carried out by a few people; it was initiated by thousands who wanted to convey the message that they do not want the Americans around. This is how they are trying to get rid of the Americans, who helped them rise to power.

Just as former President Jimmy Carter’s single term ended with the abduction of American diplomats in Tehran, Obama is now facing the collapse of his policy of support for the Islamic groups. He also has to deal with questions surrounding the fiasco in Benghazi.


Some of my articles related to Arab Street:

Israeli Vs Palestine Refugees – In, Out and No Return ,
US Giving a “Yellow Light” to an Israeli Strike
Days of Rage on the Arab street
Support for Iranian Opposition
Egypt at crossroads – theocrazy, democracy or something between
PaliLeaks, land swaps and desperate search of peace
Cyber war has became a tool between political and military options
Is Yemen the next target for the War on Terror?
Saudi-Israeli cooperation for attacking Iran
Fragments of the Middle East peace efforts
The Three-State Option could solve Gaza Conflict


Civil Crisis Management: Filling the Gaps Between the Aims and on the Ground Effectiveness of a Mission

August 1, 2012

Outside interventions to inner conflicts are part of daily news stream today. Where, when and how to intervene are the core of discussions. However from my point of view more weight should put to day after planning. In Balkans there is still frozen conflicts; Iraq, Afghanistan and many conflicts in Africa are most recent or still ongoing theatres, Syria and many more are coming soon on the table.

Recent trend in international politics seems to be different separatist movements around the globe. Kosovo’s unilateral proclamation of independence from Serbia February 2008 played a key role in these developments, which already has been seen in Bolivia, South Ossetia and Abkhazia and probably many more waiting to spark. This trend has big potential to expand, because it is estimated that there is about five thousand ethnic groups on globe. The situation puts pressure to develop the effectiveness of future – if not even existing – civil crisis management operations.

Transformation ongoing

International crisis management has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. Its expansion in terms of tasks and timelines and the increasing number of actors involved have made effective coordination of activities an urgent priority. As a result the idea of a Comprehensive Approach has been adopted by many states and international organizations. However, recent efforts to implement it have shown mixed results. There is need to shift focus from tactical level – dashing from skirmish to skirmish trying to control a crisis – to strategic level with a more comprehensive and systemic approach to resolving the mess.

If traditional peacekeeping focused on containment and reduction of military escalation, contemporary crisis management aims at a social, reach a comprehensive conflict resolution. This increasing set of tasks coincides with expanding time-lines of crisis management. In conceptual and practical terms crisis management spans today from the initial phase of conflict prevention, the actual crisis management encompassing humanitarian intervention, peace building and peacekeeping to post-conflict management.

Definition of the Problem

Whilst there is no commonly accepted definition for ‘Comprehensive Approach’, there is broad agreement that it implies pursuing an approach aimed at integrating the political, security, development, rule of law, human rights and humanitarian dimensions of international missions. It can be linked to different degrees of coherence for inter-agency relationships, namely Coherence, Cooperation, Collaboration & Coordination and Coexistence, where various actors may operate in a more or less comprehensive fashion, depending on their motivations, identities and organizational independence (Source:Comprehensive Approach-Challenges and opportunities in complex crisismanagement. Karsten Friis & Pia Jarmyr(eds); NUPI, 2008.).

It can be linked also to the Whole-of-Government Approach where there is an emphasis on objectives shared across organisational boundaries, as opposed to working solely within a ministry. WGA has been developed particularly in the context of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee and its Fragile States Group (Source: Whole of Government Approaches to Fragile States, DAC Guidelines and referenceseries, ADAC referencedocument, OECD, 2006.)

From my point of view I would rule out some military strategies from the context of this kind of crisis management problem. For example COIN strategey implemented in Afghanistan by U.S. is clear application of military strategy. It has some civil crisis management components which however act more like decoration and not as an essential element.

Strategic aim

The approach of needed study could be described as “bottom up” perspective, where the problem is defined from the point of view of field level experiences. It is important to note, that civil crisis management issue is not – or shouldn’t be – an extension of military peace-forcing operation; it is an integral part of international development aid programs in overall and in particular with peace-building activities.

Earlier some donors gave money to build school in some Kosovo village. School was ready, nice photograph for donors’ media was taken, report confirmed that building was made ok, also tendering procedures were made with some standards, audit did not find anything special. So perfect project to satisfy donor? No one pointed attention to a small detail that there was no pupils for the brand new school. Similar examples are bridges, roads and swimming pools middle of no where, housing for returns (empty because people are not returning or going away immediately).(Source: Donors & field: Will Kosovo rise with 2 bn bucks?)

Perfect report does not mean that something positive development has happened on the field. The lesson learned from “bottom up” –approach could be the shift of focus from the issues made in right way to right issues, where vision, objective, strategy, implementation, feed back and especially commitment of beneficiary groups and project management have more important role in evaluation of operations than before.

The main components

For developing a more effective approach to issue of civilian crisis management different aspects – such as organizational questions, reporting practice, or evaluation process – can be more or less highlighted. It is possible also to have focus on improvement of situation analysis, developing field experience feedback during missions or applying “project cycle management” practice in operation/mission planning procedure.

One possible component could be applying Logical Framework Approach through the process. LogFrame is used in most EU projects, but individual donors have their preferences. LogFrame describes objectives, action lines, how individual projects are implementing the objective and how the success can be measured. There is also some flexibility according feed back during implementation. Special need at individual project and local level is also use there Participatory Planning methods so that all stakeholders can commit to actions. Applying these two practices can make new approach more vigorous.

Resources and method

Comprehensive Approach is quite modern trend in international studies of peacekeeping operations or civil crisis management. Few seminar reports and researches are however available and they can help while connecting this study to wider theoretical context. Different mission reports can describe the viewpoint which the top officials are giving to the top policy makers. The most valuable source is field reports such as OSCE municipal profiles and analyses, CIMIC reports etc. because they are describing situation on the ground. The best source and research method would be participatory observation and interviews of fieldworkers.

As a follow-up it is possible to link and compare the study with other core concepts and instruments at strategic-political level in different countries or organizations, such as

  • UN: Capstonedoctrine (2008), Integrated missions (2006)
  • EU: CMCO (2003), Crisis Management Procedures CMP (2003), Crisis Management Concept (individual mission)
  • Nato: Comprehensive Approach Actionplan (2008), Effects Based Approach to Operations – EBAO (2006)
  • Germany: White Paper on German Security Policy and the Future of the Bundeswehr (2006), Action Plan “Civilian Crisis Prevention, Conflict Resolution, and Peace Consolidation” (2004)
  • Britain: Conflict Prevention Pool – CPP (2004/8), Comprehensive Approach (2004)

(More about this context in CSS Analyses,Vol.3 • No.42 • October 2008, Center for Security Studies (CSS), ETH Zurich)

It is also possible to link study to concepts and instruments at mission level or to development of a comprehensive crisis management is a cyclical activity.

Bottom line

Today there is a lot of information and feedback from different crisis management missions around the world; there is also experiece which methods are working on the ground and especially which are not. In my opinion there is urgent need to develop civilian crisis management by studying lessons learned to find best – and worst – practices from different missions. In Balkans there is still frozen conflicts; Iraq, Afghanistan and many conflicts in Africa are most recent or still ongoing theatres, Syria and many more are coming soon on the table. LogFrame approach by using participatory planning methods could show way towards quality peace.

Ω           Ω           Ω

More e.g. in my related articles:

Interventions in general: R2P vs Facades of Interventions, Multifaceted Intervention Practices , Is Peace more than absence of the War? , Could EU lead the 3rd Way out from Confrontation? , Quality Peace? and Peacemaking – How about solving Conflicts too?

About U.S. strategy in Afghanistan: Will COIN work in Afghanistan? andAfghanistan – to be or not?

U.S. practising intervention first in the Bosnian War 1992-95 and selecting terrorist/OC-groups to U.S. allies (More e.g. Srebrenica again – Hoax or Massacre? and Krajina – Victory with Ethnic Cleansing and the outcome Bosnia on the road to the EU, sorry to Dissolution )

Racak fabrication and “humanitarian intervention” aka since WWII first ever full scale bombing operation in center of Europe 1999 ( High pressure to fabricate Racak reports and 10th anniversary of Nato’s attack on Serbia)

Other related articles: Libya Intervention is creating problems instead of solving them and Some framework to Syrian crisis


End Game Approaches on Nuclear Iran

January 11, 2012

From the start of 2012 the spotlight on Iran and for good reason. Today the entire region is now on tenterhooks for the next move, with US, Iranian and Gulf armies on the highest war alert. Earlier the main scenario was that Israel would make an preventive limited air strike to Iran’s nuclear facilities, now it seems that U.S is going to war with Iran.

The decision point for applying a military option, before too late, is getting nearer. Ehud Barak, Israel’s minister of defense, implied that this critical point would be reached in less than a year, in a recent CNN interview. U.S has changed radically its earlier position, now both the U.S. and Israel say also officially that they have not ruled out military action against Iran. This in case if diplomacy fails to resolve a dispute over the nuclear program, which Tehran says is peaceful but the West believes is a cover for trying to build atomic bombs. The use of military option is now well on the way.

Latest developments

Thousands of US troops began descending on Israel this week as part of the US-IDF deployment in readiness for a military engagement with Iran and its possible escalation into a regional conflict. The 9,000 US servicemen gathering in Israel in the coming weeks are mostly airmen, missile interceptor teams, marines, seamen, technicians and intelligence officers. Officially this maneuver is part in sc Austere Challenge 12, the biggest joint US-Israeli war game ever held. The joint US-Israeli drill will test multiple Israeli and US air defense systems against incoming missiles and rockets, according to the official communique; they will also practice intercepting missiles and rockets coming in from Syria, Hizbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In fact the joint force will now be in place ready for a decision to attack Iran’s nuclear installations or any war emergency. Washington and Jerusalem are doing their utmost to present a perfectly synchronized military front against Iran: American officers are stationed at IDF command centers and Israeli officers posted at the US European Command-EUCOM.

British Defense Minister Phillip Hammond, on a visit to Washington, affirmed unofficially that Britain stands ready to strike Iran if the Strait of Hormuz is closed. Officially this was not said as the Obama administration tries keep a low profile on plans for attacking Iran.

Tehran is staging military’s maneuvers every few days to assuring the Iranian people that its leaders are fully prepared to defend the country against an American or Israeli strike on its national nuclear program. By this strategy, Iran’s ground, sea and air forces are maintained constantly at top war readiness to thwart any surprise attack. The next Iranian naval exercise at the Strait of Hormuz to take place in February, although its 10-day drill in the same arena only ended Monday, 2. Jan. 2012. Iranian marine commandos were preparing to sow mines in the strategic Strait of Hormuz. Other – last week tested – possibility was using Shahab-3 ballistic missiles which have a range of 1,600 kilometers and other missiles, such as the Nasr1 cruise marine missile, are capable of reaching Hormuz from central Iran. Tehran has also redistributed the Shahab missiles to secret sites ready to launch retaliatory strikes.

Iran itself has reported that the new Fordow nuclear enrichment plant will be operational in the near future to refine uranium to a fissile purity of 20% – far more than the 3.5% level usually required to power nuclear energy plants. 20 % uranium can be turned more easily into fissile warhead material. Based to information of the International Atomic Energy Agency inspection 348 machines are operating at Fordow. Operations at the bunker-like Fordow facility south of Tehran are small in comparison to Iran’s main enrichment site in Natanz in central Iran, where nearly 8,000 centrifuges are operating. The centrifuges at the underground labs are considered more efficient than others and are shielded from aerial surveillance and protected against airstrikes by up to 300 feet (90 meters) of mountain rock. Iran has also announced that it had succeeded in producing and testing its own uranium fuel rods for use in its nuclear power plants. If true, this claim would constitute a significant advance in Iran’s efforts to attain the capability of powering its nuclear reactors without international assistance.

Military option on the table

The starting point with today’s tensions could be the interview in a CBS Tuesday, Dec. 20 where US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta said following: “Despite the efforts to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program, they have reached a point where they can assemble a bomb in a year or potentially less”. This is a radical change in US administration policy. “That’s a red line for us and that’s a red line, obviously, for the Israelis,” Panetta noted. Instead of warning Israel against striking Iran, he said: “If we have to do it we will deal with it.”A nuclear weapon in Iran is unacceptable”.

From Tehran’s standpoint, the American military departure from Iraq has removed a formidable obstacle in Israel’s path to an attack on its nuclear installations: the shield of the US Air Force’s control of Iraqi skies.

Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint US Chiefs of Staff, issued a warning: “Iran is playing a dangerous game that could ensnare the Middle East, the Middle East and others into conflict and a renewed arms race.Don’t push it.” He was described as quietly leading the ongoing military planning for an attack against Iran’s nuclear weapons if the president gives the order to do so. Gen. Dempsey went on to say: “My biggest worry is they (Iran) will miscalculate our resolve. One factor is also Israel which destroyed Iraq’s nuclear plant in Osirak on 1981 without warning US beforehand. ”There is no guarantee that Israel will give the United States warning if it decides to attack Iran,” Dempsey said. “We are trying to establish some confidence on the part of the Israelis that we recognize their concerns and are collaborating with them on addressing them.”

Covert activities

Covert activities against Iran have included the use of computer worms to attack Iran’s nuclear installations, including the Stuxnet virus that in 2010 was thought to have destroyed more than a thousand of Iran’s uranium-enriching centrifuges by causing them to spin out of control. Several Iranian nuclear scientists have been assassinated, and in November explosions ripped through the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ ballistic missile base near Tehran. Seventeen people were killed, including one of the IRGC’s top officers in the missile development program.

The covert activity is designed to slow Iran’s nuclear progress but they are not stopping Iran’s enrichment activity permanently. Iran is thought to have many more nuclear scientists and missile designers than Western intelligence services could ever eliminate.

In October, the Obama administration accused Iran of plotting to assassinate the Saudi ambassador to Washington, an alleged plot that some Iran analysts see as an Iranian effort to hit back. The storming of Britain’s Embassy in Tehran in late November and a December explosion outside Britain’s Embassy in Bahrain may be other signals of Iran’s intention to respond to covert fire.

The Strike

According to reports in Haaretz and Ynetnews 29.12.11, Israel and the United States have recently been discussing ‘red lines’ which would necessitate a military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities. US administration is keen to avoid Israel surprising the US by taking unexpected military action against Iran in the coming year. Scenarios, in which Washington might find a military strike against Iranian nuclear facilities necessary, include e.g. if Iran were to expel IAEA observers, if it were to enrich uranium to weapons grade, and if it were to install advanced centrifuges in its newly constructed underground uranium enrichment facility in Qom or Iran making progress on new secret enrichment facilities.

Illustration by IISS

The U.S. Air Force has unveiled the Massive Ordnance Penetrator – dubbed the Big Blu – and speculation is already mounting that it may be used in airstrikes on Iran (as well on North Korea if needed). B-2 Stealth Bombers will use the six metre long GPS guided rocket, fitted with 2.5 tons of explosives, to smash open underground bunkers and tunnels suspected of containing weapons of mass destruction.

To be a successful military strike, Iran must be deterred and prevented from rebuilding its programme. Is this possible is the question and will define the scope of attack.

Counter acts?

In response to mounting Western pressure over its nuclear ambitions, Iran started a naval drill in the Gulf last week , responded with belligerent rhetoric, spooking oil markets by warning that it could shut the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions were imposed on its oil exports, the country’s main revenue source. However if Hormuz will be closed by mines, the U.S using mine countermeasures can reopen Hormuz within 24-48 hours.

The Strait of Hormuz is one of the world’s most important waterways. Some 40% of all seaborne oil passes through this narrow passageway, which is equivalent to about 20% of total oil traded worldwide. This amounts to 16.5 to 17 million barrels per day (other significant choke-points for the transit of oil include the Suez Canal – 4.5 million barrels per day and the Strait of Malacca – 15 million barrels per day).

Israel has no influence over internal events in Syria or Lebanon. Its interest is in a quiet northern border. For as long as Hezbollah is able to maintain its independent military infrastructure in Lebanon, the threat of an attack on Israel remains. Hezbollah has extensively rearmed after the losses it incurred in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. It is now estimated to have an arsenal of 40,000 rockets, including precision guided missiles that can reach all parts of Israel. It has also deliberately deployed its weapons in villages to make them harder for Israel to target in any future conflict due civilian/collateral damages which would damage Israel’s image even more if possible.

On 7 July, Israel Defense Forces revealed, in unprecedented detail, previously classified information about Hezbollah’s deployment in south Lebanon. The information released focused on El Khiam, a Shia town in south east Lebanon a few miles from the border with Israel. El Khiam was the scene of fighting during the 2006 war; the surrounding area was used by Hezbollah to launch Katyusha rockets at Israel. The IDF material included maps and a 3D simulated video of the village, showing that weaponry and rockets were being stored close to schools, hospitals and residential buildings.

A military strike can have serious strategic consequences too. Iran will surely respond violently, both directly and through proxies such as Hezbollah. Iran has long-range missile systems including the Shahab-3, which could reach Israel and U.S. bases in the Middle East. The conflict could escalate into a regional war. Iran may take aggressive action in the straits of Hormuz, leading to a spike in oil prices, even though disrupting the flow of oil would be self-defeating.

Preparations for counter strike

The Magic Wand by Rafael

Israeli defense technology developer Rafael last week unveiled its medium-range missile interceptor, the Magic Wand, designed to shoot incoming missiles and rockets out of the sky with its own guided projectile. The Magic Wand is seen as a possible defense against Lebanon-based terrorist group Hezbollah’s stockpile of medium-range missiles. Magic Wand’s first operational test is expected to take place this Spring. Israel has – after Magic Wand – three different kinds of interceptors to provide a shield against a multitude of missile threats. Iron Dome to shoot down short-range rockets such as the Qassams fired by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, older Arrow 2 anti-ballistic missile provides defenses against larger ballistic missiles, such as Scuds or Iran’s long-range Shahab missiles. Testing full operational capacity of newer Arrow 3 interceptor is ongoing. ( More about Israeli missile defence in article Will Iron Dome balance the Hamas Terror? . )

Risks?

War games are a puzzle not only with tactical alternatives, timing, more or less accurate intelligence and means available but also with known and un-known risks. One event on 4th Dec 2011 brought one new piece to this puzzle.

US stealth drone RQ-170

On Dec 8th 2011 Iran exhibited the top-secret US stealth drone RQ-170 Sentinel captured on Sunday, Dec. 4. Its almost perfect condition confirmed Tehran’s claim that the UAV was downed by a cyber attack, meaning it was not shot down but brought in undamaged by an electronic warfare ambush. This is a major debacle for the stealth technology the US uses in its warplanes and the drone technology developed by the US and Israel. The state of the lost UAV refutes the US military contention that the Sentinel’s systems malfunctioned. If this had happened, it would have crashed and either been wrecked or damaged. The condition of the RQ-170 intact obliges the US and Israel to make major changes in plans for a potential strike against Iran’s nuclear program.

There is also some other risks than Iran’s counter strike such as

  • Air strike would not eliminate the knowledge about how to build a nuclear weapon that Iran already has.
  • Bombing would pass those nuclear sites that foreign intelligence services do not know about.
  • Attack could create unneeded tensions between US and China and Russia, who are needed to successfully resolve this issue via non-military means
  • Israel might have best available missile defense.  However the capacity can not absorb 40.000 missiles by Hizbollah in short period of time and some % will cause serious damage.

The newest Iranian nuclear facilities are nearly 100 meter deep in hard rock. The consequence is that to destroy this plant the most effective bunker busters are needed maybe even a nuclear bomb some 1 megaton size. Using so heavy methods can have their effect also outside Iran’s borders e.g in form of radioactive dust.

Position of Iran

Israel is unique in that it perceives a nuclear Iran as a potentially existential threat. The Iranian leadership has continuously threatened to “wipe Israel off the map” and with nuclear weapons they could also implement this aim. Given their collective memory of the Holocaust and the hostile surrounding in which they have had to defend themselves, Israelis take this threat especially seriously. A nuclear Iran would change radically regional or even geopolitical balance. It would increase the danger of miscalculation towards a nuclear crisis. Iran could take bolder position threatening Israel and moderate Arab regimes, undermining any Israeli-Arab peace process and manipulating the energy markets.

Dore Gold hits the core of the problem in his column published in IsraelHayom by asking Is Iran rational? One of the most difficult questions that the West needs to answer in the year ahead is whether Iranian behavior will be influenced mostly by rational considerations or by ideological beliefs. Some analysts say that the possession of nuclear weapons might encourage moderation in the Iranian regime ( Reuven Pedatzur in Haaretz on Dec. 20, 2011). The leading commentator on international affairs in the U.S., Fareed Zakaria, also believes that a nuclear Iran would act rationally and could be deterred. He notes that the Revolutionary Guard has become the center of power in Iranian decision-making taking, displacing the religious leadership.

Western intelligence has assessed that if Iran wanted to develop atomic bombs, it has the scientific, technical and industrial capacity eventually to do so. There might be not yet a consensus in Tehran that they actually want build a bomb, it is seen more like an open option for the future. So far the aim of in fact covert war has been to give Iran’s leaders a reason not to go nuclear weapons. However Iran might see this current policy opposite way, it could give Iran a reason to weaponise. So far the aim of in fact covert war has been to give Iran’s leaders a reason not to go nuclear weapons. However Iran might see this current policy opposite way, it could give Iran a reason to weaponise.

The registration of candidates for the Majles elections slated for March 2, 2012 ended last weekend. Meanwhile, power struggles are still being waged between the two major bodies affiliated with the conservative bloc: the United Conservative Front, affiliated with President Ahmadinejad’s political opponents, and the Stability Front of the Islamic Revolution (Jebhe-ye Paydari), which consists of activists considered to be the president’s allies. The Khabar Online website reported this week that from among more than 1,000 candidates who registered for the elections in Tehran Province, only about 60 are well-known political personalities; and that 46% of the candidates are affiliated with the United Conservative Front, 21% with the Stability Front, and 7% with the reformist camp.

Will there be anything else than negative and more negative outcomes?

An alternative way to military option from my point of view – which might be too optimistic – is to boost of diplomacy and sanctions. After years of measures that had little impact, the new sanctions are the first that could have a serious effect on Iran’s oil trade, which is 60 percent of its economy. Sanctions signed into law by U.S. President Barack Obama on New Year’s Eve would cut financial institutions that work with Iran’s central bank off from the U.S. financial system, blocking the main path for Iran to receive payments for its crude.

Following the announcement by the European Union that its member states will cease imports of Iranian crude oil, Japan said yesterday that it would also consider cutbacks in its purchases of Iranian oil. Also China has cut its purchases of Iranian oil by half this month, and is set to extend its cuts into February. The EU, China and Japan account for about half of the totality of Iranian exports of 2.6 billion barrels of oil per day. These new sanctions will have some economic effect in Iran but other sanctions might be needed.

Diplomacy must be done with various interests in mind. Iran has recently signaled that it is willing to restart talks with UN lead international community based 5+1 composition (=UNSC+Germany). The hope is that Iran will come around and allow IAEA inspectors to resume inspections. However, there always exists the possibility that Iran may use IAEA inspections as a way to buy time at sites unknown to the IAEA. If sanctions and diplomacy fail and proof of a nuclear weapons program is established, should the military option be seriously considered.

If all non-military pressures fail there are clearly no “good” options available. In my opinion it is hard to believe either side wants a war to start because all sides are aware about risks. Today’s preparations for strike might be aimed to be means of pressure to get non-military solution. However, when emotions are high, domestic political interests differ in different key player states and massive destruction weaponery is on the theatre the situation can escalate anytime.


Captured Pseudo-State Kosovo

January 12, 2011

We Bombed The Wrong Side” (General Lewis Mackenzie)


In my previous articles I have portrayed Kosovo with quite dark colours. I have summarized Kosovo

as Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

This description can naturally be seen as individual biased view without any connection to reality. However the process which began before Xmas may lead similar outcome in western mainstream media too. Investigations conducted by the Swiss diplomat, Dick Marty on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have revealed the true picture of Kosovo’s prime minister Hashim Thaci. In his report to the PACE’s Commission, Thaci is presented as the leader of a criminal gang engaged in the smuggling of weapons, the distribution of illegal drugs throughout Europe and the selling of human organs for unlawful transplantation. The Swiss senator conducted a two-year inquiry into organised crime in Kosovo after the Council of Europe mandated him to investigate claims of organ harvesting by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) after the war with Serbia ended in 1999.

Western intelligence agencies warned that Hashim Thaci ran an organised crime network in the late 1990s, they knew the KLA were criminals running the drug, slave, and weapons rackets throughout Europe, they knew the KLA was supported by Osama bin Laden (with whom Thaci met personally in Tirana in 1998 to plan the jihad in Kosovo. Despite this Western political leaders backed his Kosovo Liberation Army and its members were transformed as “freedom fighters”.

The case related to organ trafficking is now in Pristina court, according Swiss sources PM Thaçi has been prohibited from entering Switzerland “for a certain period of time”, investigations are called for allegations that sums originating from organ trafficking in Kosovo and Albania had been deposited in Swiss bank accounts. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has reportedly decided not to receive an award given by the Kosovo Embassy and members of the Kosovo diaspora, for her contribution to the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. The award ceremony was planned to be held on 21. December, 2010 for her contribution to the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. (Source: Euractiv )

Organ trafficking case

In April 2008 Madam Carla Del Ponte, the former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), published a book La caccia – Io e i criminali di guerra. In the book, almost ten years after the end of the war in Kosovo, there appeared revelations of trafficking in human organs taken from Serb prisoners, reportedly carried out by leading commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Now the report, Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo” , for Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), prepared by Swiss prosecutor-turned-politician Dick Marty, expands on allegations made by Mrs. Del Ponte.

The PACE report claims that civilians – Serbian and non-KLA-supporting Kosovan Albanians detained by the KLA in the 1999 hostilities – were shot in northern Albania and their kidneys extracted and sold on the black market. It names Hashim Thaçi, the former leader of the KLA and Kosovo’s prime minister, as the boss of a “mafia-like” group engaged in criminal activity – including heroin trading – since before the 1999 war.

A Council of Europe report into organ trafficking in Kosovo linked the Medicus case to a wider criminal network in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which began trading in organs in 1999. A faction within the rebel guerilla army loyal to Thaci has been accused of overseeing a racket involving Serb captives. A “handful” were said, in the report, to have been shot in the head, then had their kidneys extracted. It is believed the kidneys were flown to Istanbul in ischemia bags. Thaci has strongly denied the claims. I also touched on a matter in my article New Cannibalism in Europe too? a couple of years ago.

In November 2008 police raided the property of Medicus clinic in a deprived suburb near the Kosovan capital Pristina. Patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel had received organ transplants at the clinic. Victims were promised up to $20,000, while recipients were required to pay between €80,000 and €100,000 euros. But despite promises of payment the donors had left empty-handed; up to 30 victims lost their kidneys in the clinic in just eight months in 2008. The key player of is Dr. Yusuf Ercin Sonmez from Medicus clinic has been a key player in the unscrupulous organ market for more than 10 years.

A Washington-based intelligence source said the kidneys were sold to Dr. Sonmez, a 53-year-old medic. It was then that the Turkish doctor was said to have struck up a relationship with Kosovan Albanians, who, investigators believe, are implicated in the Medicus clinic case which unfolded in the confirmation hearing case on December in Pristina district court. (Source: The Guardian: The doctor at the heart of Kosovo’s organ scandal )

However the present case is limited to Medicus clinic and its links to a wider network of Albanian organised criminals and events a decade ago will hopefully take place in wider trial. EU’s EULEX-operation in Kosovo will from its side examine allegations that the country’s prime minister is the head of a “mafia-like” criminal network linked to organ trafficking. if there is sufficient evidence against Thaçi or the other senior government figures implicated in the report, they could face prosecution even though most crimes are alleged to have taken place in Albanian territory. (Source e.g: The Guardian: The doctor at the heart of Kosovo’s organ scandal )

Whitewashing Organized Crime

War crimes related to organ scandal are only minor by-plot in context of organized crime in Kosovo during last decade. KLA’s transformation from OC-/terrorist group to freedom fighters was an amazing media victory which guaranteed the occupation and later capturing of Kosovo.

Neil Clark in his column Kosovo and the myth of liberal intervention – in the Guardian describes very well this hoax:

It was the KLA’s campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials, Serbian and Kosovan civilians in 1998, which led to an escalation of the conflict with the government in Belgrade, with atrocities committed on both sides. The report is a damning indictment not only of the KLA but also of western policy. And it also gives lie to the fiction that Nato’s war with Yugoslavia was, in Tony Blair’s words, “a battle between good and evil; between civilisation and barbarity; between democracy and dictatorship”.

On 1999 the Western media was full of stories of mass graves and brutal rapes. U.S. officials claimed that from 100,000 up to 500,000 Albanians had been massacred. In 78 days the Pentagon dropped 35,000 cluster bombs, used thousands of rounds of radioactive depleted-uranium rounds, along with bunker busters and cruise missiles. Expecting to find bodies everywhere, forensic teams from 17 NATO countries organized by the Hague Tribunal on War Crimes searched occupied Kosovo all summer of 1999 but found a total of only 2,108 bodies, of all nationalities. Some had been killed by NATO bombing and some in the war between the UCK and the Serbian police and military.

Number game as cause of Nato’s attack on Serbia 

According the Kosovo “Book of the Dead”, the equivalent of the Bosnia “Book of the Dead” by London based Bosnian Institute which finally counted the slain, has since the Kosovo war been able to establish a total about 10,000 dead or “permanently missing” (i.e. dead), of which just under 5000 are Albanians, and the rest Serbian, other minorities, or ethnicity not known. So as Albanians made up around 50% off the dead despite making up 85% of the population, they suffered proportionately much less in terms of deaths than any other group.

(Bosnian Institute: Establishing the number of victims in the Yugoslav wars of succession)

I would draw following time axis about some core events with this campaign:

  • As side result U.S. created Bondsteel, one of the biggest U.S. military base in center of Europe – completely outside European/international jurisdiction – to serve also as secret torture/detention/investigation center of CIA.

In the bottom line – so far at least temporary – U.S. State Department and their British lapdogs were responsible for orchestrating or facilitating events mentioned above. For background information I recommend a video “General Lewis Mackenzie: We Bombed The Wrong Side”, anyway the headline of video is not so far from my point of view.

OC-connection well known

Thaçi and other members of his inner circle, Marty avers, were “commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports,” published by the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND “as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’.” Trading on American protection to consolidate political power, thus maintaining control over key narcotics smuggling corridors, the special rapporteur writes that “having succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets,” Thaçi’s Drenica Group have “exploit[ed] their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities.” Indeed, multiple reports prepared by the U.S. DEA, FBI, the BND, Italy’s SISMI, Britain’s MI6 and the Greek EYP intelligence service have stated that Drenica Group members “are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime.”

Mafia Clans/KFOR sectors -map made by Laura Canali

Mafia Clans/KFOR sectors -map made by Laura Canali

Reliable and highly informed sources at the Institute for European Policy based in Germany, in a 2007 report commissioned for the German Armed Forces, indicated that the three leading Kosovo politicians, Ramush Haradinaj, Hashim Thaci and Xhavit Haliti, are “persons protected by the international community although they are deeply involved in all of these affairs.”Already in 2000, according to Interpol Kosovo criminals, illicit profits of 2 billion euros were laundered through more than 200 banks. The current data show much higher earnings, and this without considering the investments in the building sector, the purchase of shares and other activities. In relation to the drugs issue, according to the Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, in an interview in 2009, the Albanian mafia in Kosovo chiefs “dream” about turning the province into “a European Colombia.”

In order to achieve this, they wish to genetically engineer a type of coca plant that would grow in Kosovo’s climate. In this way, the Albanian mafia would have a monopoly over the cocaine trade. They need 20 years to achieve this,” he said, and added that “then, Kosovo will without a doubt become the new Colombia.”

More about link between organized crime and Kosovo political leaders one can find e.g. from Albanian Terrorism and Oraganized Crime in Kosovo and Metohija (K&M) , which also can be found from my document library. Related background information can be found also from “leaked” German Intelligence reports BND report 2005 and BND-IEP report Kosovo 2007 which can be found from my document library under Kosovo headline.

Note: An extract from Correspondence between BND and Wikileaks 

As of up today you still provide the option of downloading a classified report of the BND under the following address:

http://www.wikileaks.com/wiki/BND_Kosovo_intelligence-report,_22_Feb_2005.

We kindly ask you again to remove the file immediately and all other files or reports related to the BND as well. Otherwise we will press for immediate criminal prosecution.

AR: As links are whole time cracked I have saved report to my computer and downloaded it to document library of my blog for public use.

International community unwilling to rock of the boat

“Two years ago a joke was being circulated on the Runet that a heroin producer has recognized its distributor’s independence. It was about Afghanistan, which was to the first to recognize the independence of the Serbian province of Kosovo which had illegally separated from Yugoslavia.” (GRTV)

International community has worked over ten years with capacity building of Kosovo administration; EU launched few years ago its huge EULEX operation for rule and law in protectorate. Still it was needed outside institutions to bring both individual case – organ trafficking/war crime – and a system error – OC/political link – to public knowledge. Why so?

An other report gives one answer. Extract from recent the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Rapporteur Jean-Charles Gardetto’s report entitled The protection of witnesses as a cornerstone for justice and reconciliation in the Balkans (The document should be adopted by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on coming January 26.)

Moreover, when a witness does come forward, there is a real threat of retaliation. This may not necessarily put them in direct danger, losing their job for example, but there are also examples of key witnesses being murdered. The trial of Ramush Haradinaj, the former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, well illustrates this. Mr. Haradinaj was indicted by the ICTY for crimes committed during the war in Kosovo but was subsequently acquitted. In its judgment, the Tribunal highlighted the difficulties that it had had in obtaining evidence from the 100 prosecution witnesses. Thirty-four of them were granted protection measures and 18 had to be issued with summonses. A number of witnesses who were going to give evidence at the trial were murdered. These included Sadik and Vesel Muriqi, both of whom had been placed under a protection program by the ICTY.

The five countries – U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Italy – had access to information, resources and a long history of work with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), former U.S. diplomat and UN Regional Representative in northern Kosovo Gerard Gallucci told Belgrade’s Politika newspaper in an interview. “Regardless of the claims about organ trafficking, everyone knows about the involvement of some of the top Kosovo leaders in transnational crime and corruption. International officials ignored these problems so as not to provoke the ethnic Albanians and prevent them from creating even bigger problems,” Gallucci stated, according to the newspaper.

Conclusion/Possible reflections?

“I am very proud of my past and the past of my people who, along with NATO, arrived at the goal” (Hashim Thaci, Crime Minister of Kosovo)

New talks between Belgrade and Pristina are planned to start soon for resolving frozen Kosovo conflict. Serbs and Albanians have been in negotiations and talks half a dozen times over the past two decades – from the tentative efforts of the 1990s to the doomed talks in Rambouillet, France, in 1999 and the later “status” talks between 2005 (Ahtisaari’s pseudo-talks) and 2007 (“Troika” led talks). None of these has led to tangible results and left outsiders imposing an outcome, be it NATO intervention or proposing the Ahtisaari plan.

Few month ago it looked like now it would be possible to have real talks first time between local relevant authorities; the events on December have put this optimism in question. The PACE report gives new (for western powers, mainstream media and public) view to justification of the Nato’s attack on Serbia, it products evidence and argumentation for suspected joint venture of organized crime and political elite in Kosovo before “humanitarian intervention, after that and now: the report casts a shadow to western political leadership as their own intelligence services had all relevant information at their disposal.

In my earlier article Will Negotiation Slot for Kosovo be used? I remarked, that

EU in my opinion should start to distance itself from U.S. cowboy policy. Now many Europeans realize they were hoodwinked into recognizing Kosovo’s independence on the pretence it would resolve problems and bring peace – it didn’t happen; a new approach is needed.”

I would like to point out that now after PACE report the West can not any more escape reality, facts can not be ignored any longer. The report could be start for reassessment of Kosovo status and operations/presence of international community there.


Captured Pseudo-State Kosovo

January 12, 2011

We Bombed The Wrong Side” (General Lewis Mackenzie)


In my previous articles I have portrayed Kosovo with quite dark colours. I have summarized Kosovo

as Serbian province, occupied and now international protectorate administrated by UN Kosovo mission; as quasi-independent pseudo-state has good change to become next “failed” or “captured” state; today’s Kosovo is already safe-heaven for war criminals, drug traffickers, international money laundry and radical Wahhabists – unfortunately all are also allies of western powers”.

This description can naturally be seen as individual biased view without any connection to reality. However the process which began before Xmas may lead similar outcome in western mainstream media too. Investigations conducted by the Swiss diplomat, Dick Marty on behalf of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) have revealed the true picture of Kosovo’s prime minister Hashim Thaci. In his report to the PACE’s Commission, Thaci is presented as the leader of a criminal gang engaged in the smuggling of weapons, the distribution of illegal drugs throughout Europe and the selling of human organs for unlawful transplantation. The Swiss senator conducted a two-year inquiry into organised crime in Kosovo after the Council of Europe mandated him to investigate claims of organ harvesting by the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) after the war with Serbia ended in 1999.

Western intelligence agencies warned that Hashim Thaci ran an organised crime network in the late 1990s, they knew the KLA were criminals running the drug, slave, and weapons rackets throughout Europe, they knew the KLA was supported by Osama bin Laden (with whom Thaci met personally in Tirana in 1998 to plan the jihad in Kosovo. Despite this Western political leaders backed his Kosovo Liberation Army and its members were transformed as “freedom fighters”.

The case related to organ trafficking is now in Pristina court, according Swiss sources PM Thaçi has been prohibited from entering Switzerland “for a certain period of time”, investigations are called for allegations that sums originating from organ trafficking in Kosovo and Albania had been deposited in Swiss bank accounts. Swiss Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has reportedly decided not to receive an award given by the Kosovo Embassy and members of the Kosovo diaspora, for her contribution to the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. The award ceremony was planned to be held on 21. December, 2010 for her contribution to the recognition of Kosovo’s independence. (Source: Euractiv )

Organ trafficking case

In April 2008 Madam Carla Del Ponte, the former Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), published a book La caccia – Io e i criminali di guerra. In the book, almost ten years after the end of the war in Kosovo, there appeared revelations of trafficking in human organs taken from Serb prisoners, reportedly carried out by leading commanders of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). Now the report, Inhuman treatment of people and illicit trafficking in human organs in Kosovo” , for Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), prepared by Swiss prosecutor-turned-politician Dick Marty, expands on allegations made by Mrs. Del Ponte.

The PACE report claims that civilians – Serbian and non-KLA-supporting Kosovan Albanians detained by the KLA in the 1999 hostilities – were shot in northern Albania and their kidneys extracted and sold on the black market. It names Hashim Thaçi, the former leader of the KLA and Kosovo’s prime minister, as the boss of a “mafia-like” group engaged in criminal activity – including heroin trading – since before the 1999 war.

A Council of Europe report into organ trafficking in Kosovo linked the Medicus case to a wider criminal network in the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), which began trading in organs in 1999. A faction within the rebel guerilla army loyal to Thaci has been accused of overseeing a racket involving Serb captives. A “handful” were said, in the report, to have been shot in the head, then had their kidneys extracted. It is believed the kidneys were flown to Istanbul in ischemia bags. Thaci has strongly denied the claims. I also touched on a matter in my article New Cannibalism in Europe too? a couple of years ago.

In November 2008 police raided the property of Medicus clinic in a deprived suburb near the Kosovan capital Pristina. Patients from Canada, Germany, Poland and Israel had received organ transplants at the clinic. Victims were promised up to $20,000, while recipients were required to pay between €80,000 and €100,000 euros. But despite promises of payment the donors had left empty-handed; up to 30 victims lost their kidneys in the clinic in just eight months in 2008. The key player of is Dr. Yusuf Ercin Sonmez from Medicus clinic has been a key player in the unscrupulous organ market for more than 10 years.

A Washington-based intelligence source said the kidneys were sold to Dr. Sonmez, a 53-year-old medic. It was then that the Turkish doctor was said to have struck up a relationship with Kosovan Albanians, who, investigators believe, are implicated in the Medicus clinic case which unfolded in the confirmation hearing case on December in Pristina district court. (Source: The Guardian:The doctor at the heart of Kosovo’s organ scandal )

However the present case is limited to Medicus clinic and its links to a wider network of Albanian organised criminals and events a decade ago will hopefully take place in wider trial. EU’s EULEX-operation in Kosovo will from its side examine allegations that the country’s prime minister is the head of a “mafia-like” criminal network linked to organ trafficking. if there is sufficient evidence against Thaçi or the other senior government figures implicated in the report, they could face prosecution even though most crimes are alleged to have taken place in Albanian territory. (Source e.g: The Guardian: The doctor at the heart of Kosovo’s organ scandal )

Whitewashing Organized Crime

War crimes related to organ scandal are only minor by-plot in context of organized crime in Kosovo during last decade. KLA’s transformation from OC-/terrorist group to freedom fighters was an amazing media victory which guaranteed the occupation and later capturing of Kosovo.

Neil Clark in his column Kosovo and the myth of liberal intervention – in the Guardian describes very well this hoax:

It was the KLA’s campaign of violence against Yugoslav state officials, Serbian and Kosovan civilians in 1998, which led to an escalation of the conflict with the government in Belgrade, with atrocities committed on both sides. The report is a damning indictment not only of the KLA but also of western policy. And it also gives lie to the fiction that Nato’s war with Yugoslavia was, in Tony Blair’s words, “a battle between good and evil; between civilisation and barbarity; between democracy and dictatorship”.

On 1999 the Western media was full of stories of mass graves and brutal rapes. U.S. officials claimed that from 100,000 up to 500,000 Albanians had been massacred. In 78 days the Pentagon dropped 35,000 cluster bombs, used thousands of rounds of radioactive depleted-uranium rounds, along with bunker busters and cruise missiles. Expecting to find bodies everywhere, forensic teams from 17 NATO countries organized by the Hague Tribunal on War Crimes searched occupied Kosovo all summer of 1999 but found a total of only 2,108 bodies, of all nationalities. Some had been killed by NATO bombing and some in the war between the UCK and the Serbian police and military.

Number game as cause of Nato’s attack on SerbiaAccording the Kosovo “Book of the Dead”, the equivalent of the Bosnia “Book of the Dead” by London based Bosnian Institute which finally counted the slain, has since the Kosovo war been able to establish a total about 10,000 dead or “permanently missing” (i.e. dead), of which just under 5000 are Albanians, and the rest Serbian, other minorities, or ethnicity not known. So as Albanians made up around 50% off the dead despite making up 85% of the population, they suffered proportionately much less in terms of deaths than any other group.

(Bosnian Institute: Establishing the number of victims in the Yugoslav wars of succession)

I would draw following time axis about some core events with this campaign:

  • As side result U.S. created Bondsteel, one of the biggest U.S. military base in center of Europe – completely outside European/international jurisdiction – to serve also as secret torture/detention/investigation center of CIA.

In the bottom line – so far at least temporary – U.S. State Department and their British lapdogs were responsible for orchestrating or facilitating events mentioned above. For background information I recommend a video “General Lewis Mackenzie: We Bombed The Wrong Side”, anyway the headline of video is not so far from my point of view.

OC-connection well known

Thaçi and other members of his inner circle, Marty avers, were “commonly identified, and cited in secret intelligence reports,” published by the German secret state agency, the Bundesnachrichtendienst or BND “as the most dangerous of the KLA’s ‘criminal bosses’.” Trading on American protection to consolidate political power, thus maintaining control over key narcotics smuggling corridors, the special rapporteur writes that “having succeeded in eliminating, or intimidating into silence, the majority of the potential and actual witnesses against them (both enemies and erstwhile allies), using violence, threats, blackmail, and protection rackets,” Thaçi’s Drenica Group have “exploit[ed] their position in order to accrue personal wealth totally out of proportion with their declared activities.” Indeed, multiple reports prepared by the U.S. DEA, FBI, the BND, Italy’s SISMI, Britain’s MI6 and the Greek EYP intelligence service have stated that Drenica Group members “are consistently named as ‘key players’ in intelligence reports on Kosovo’s mafia-like structures of organised crime.”

Mafia Clans/KFOR sectors -map made by Laura Canali

Mafia Clans/KFOR sectors -map made by Laura Canali

Reliable and highly informed sources at the Institute for European Policy based in Germany, in a 2007 report commissioned for the German Armed Forces, indicated that the three leading Kosovo politicians, Ramush Haradinaj, Hashim Thaci and Xhavit Haliti, are “persons protected by the international community although they are deeply involved in all of these affairs.”Already in 2000, according to Interpol Kosovo criminals, illicit profits of 2 billion euros were laundered through more than 200 banks. The current data show much higher earnings, and this without considering the investments in the building sector, the purchase of shares and other activities. In relation to the drugs issue, according to the Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, in an interview in 2009, the Albanian mafia in Kosovo chiefs “dream” about turning the province into “a European Colombia.”

In order to achieve this, they wish to genetically engineer a type of coca plant that would grow in Kosovo’s climate. In this way, the Albanian mafia would have a monopoly over the cocaine trade. They need 20 years to achieve this,” he said, and added that “then, Kosovo will without a doubt become the new Colombia.”

More about link between organized crime and Kosovo political leaders one can find e.g. from Albanian Terrorism and Oraganized Crime in Kosovo and Metohija (K&M) , which also can be found from my document library. Related background information can be found also from “leaked” German Intelligence reports BND report 2005 and BND-IEP report Kosovo 2007 which can be found from my document library under Kosovo headline.

Note: An extract from Correspondence between BND and WikileaksAs of up today you still provide the option of downloading a classified report of the BND under the following address:

http://www.wikileaks.com/wiki/BND_Kosovo_intelligence-report,_22_Feb_2005.

We kindly ask you again to remove the file immediately and all other files or reports related to the BND as well. Otherwise we will press for immediate criminal prosecution.

AR: As links are whole time cracked I have saved reportto my computer and downloaded it to document library of my blog for public use.

International community unwilling to rock of the boat

“Two years ago a joke was being circulated on the Runet that a heroin producer has recognized its distributor’s independence. It was about Afghanistan, which was to the first to recognize the independence of the Serbian province of Kosovo which had illegally separated from Yugoslavia.” (GRTV)

International community has worked over ten years with capacity building of Kosovo administration; EU launched few years ago its huge EULEX operation for rule and law in protectorate. Still it was needed outside institutions to bring both individual case – organ trafficking/war crime – and a system error – OC/political link – to public knowledge. Why so?

An other report gives one answer. Extract from recent the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) Rapporteur Jean-Charles Gardetto’s report entitled The protection of witnesses as a cornerstone for justice and reconciliation in the Balkans (The document should be adopted by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) on coming January 26.)

Moreover, when a witness does come forward, there is a real threat of retaliation. This may not necessarily put them in direct danger, losing their job for example, but there are also examples of key witnesses being murdered. The trial of Ramush Haradinaj, the former leader of the Kosovo Liberation Army, well illustrates this. Mr. Haradinaj was indicted by the ICTY for crimes committed during the war in Kosovo but was subsequently acquitted. In its judgment, the Tribunal highlighted the difficulties that it had had in obtaining evidence from the 100 prosecution witnesses. Thirty-four of them were granted protection measures and 18 had to be issued with summonses. A number of witnesses who were going to give evidence at the trial were murdered. These included Sadik and Vesel Muriqi, both of whom had been placed under a protection program by the ICTY.

The five countries – U.S., Britain, Germany, France and Italy – had access to information, resources and a long history of work with the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), former U.S. diplomat and UN Regional Representative in northern Kosovo Gerard Gallucci told Belgrade’s Politika newspaper in an interview. “Regardless of the claims about organ trafficking, everyone knows about the involvement of some of the top Kosovo leaders in transnational crime and corruption. International officials ignored these problems so as not to provoke the ethnic Albanians and prevent them from creating even bigger problems,” Gallucci stated, according to the newspaper.

Conclusion/Possible reflections?

“I am very proud of my past and the past of my people who, along with NATO, arrived at the goal” (Hashim Thaci, Crime Minister of Kosovo)

New talks between Belgrade and Pristina are planned to start soon for resolving frozen Kosovo conflict. Serbs and Albanians have been in negotiations and talks half a dozen times over the past two decades – from the tentative efforts of the 1990s to the doomed talks in Rambouillet, France, in 1999 and the later “status” talks between 2005 (Ahtisaari’s pseudo-talks) and 2007 (“Troika” led talks). None of these has led to tangible results and left outsiders imposing an outcome, be it NATO intervention or proposing the Ahtisaari plan.

Few month ago it looked like now it would be possible to have real talks first time between local relevant authorities; the events on December have put this optimism in question. The PACE report gives new (for western powers, mainstream media and public) view to justification of the Nato’s attack on Serbia, it products evidence and argumentation for suspected joint venture of organized crime and political elite in Kosovo before “humanitarian intervention, after that and now: the report casts a shadow to western political leadership as their own intelligence services had all relevant information at their disposal.

In my earlier article Will Negotiation Slot for Kosovo be used? I remarked, that

EU in my opinion should start to distance itself from U.S. cowboy policy. Now many Europeans realize they were hoodwinked into recognizing Kosovo’s independence on the pretence it would resolve problems and bring peace – it didn’t happen; a new approach is needed.”

I would like to point out that now after PACE report the West can not any more escape reality, facts can not be ignored any longer. The report could be start for reassessment of Kosovo status and operations/presence of international community there.


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