Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Tehran invokes revolutionary fervor, Iran delivers major blow to the MI6-CIA-MOSSAD Cartel....

Tehran invokes revolutionary fervor, Iran delivers major blow to the MI6-CIA-MOSSAD Cartel....

The Zio dress rehearsal for Iran attack is in full swing. ....

By M K Bhadrakumar

On Monday, Iran's powerful Guardian Council endorsed the Majlis' resolution adopted the previous day to downgrade the country's ties with Britain. The speed with which the process gathered momentum conveys the message that it carries the stamp of a decision at the highest levels of the Iranian leadership.

That and the overwhelming mood of support for the move within the Majlis also indicate that the locus of power in Iran is shifting to a hard line.

The move includes expelling the British ambassador in Tehran and downgrading the representation to the level of charge d'affaires. By Tuesday afternoon, dozens of Iranian protesters forced their way into the British compound in Tehran, tearing down the Union Flag and throwing documents from windows. A signpost has been put up in Tehran that can be ignored only at some peril.

The protesters raised three main slogans: "Down with Britain", "Down with America", and "Down with Israel". They carried photographs of Iranian scientist Majid Shahriari and the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps commander Major-General Qassem Soleimani. Tuesday was also the first anniversary of Shahriari's murder, which was believed to have been carried out by Israel's Mossad with the support of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, MI6.

Asymmetrical response
But the tipping point must be London's steps toward removing the Mojahedin-e Khalq (MKO) from the list of terrorist organizations. The MKO has been responsible for some of the most devastating terrorist attacks in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Tehran holds the MKO responsible for more than 17,000 killings over the years. The most "celebrated" were of course those of Ayatollah Muhammad Behesti (who was next only to Imam Ruhollah Khomeini in the pantheon of the revolutionary leadership) in June 1980 and of the popularly elected Iranian president Muhammad Rajayi in August of the same year. The second terrorist strike came close to eliminating the entire revolutionary leadership under Khomeini.

It must be one of the quirks of modern history that Western intelligence has depended on the MKO, which practices an ideological mix of Marxism, nationalism and Islam, as the principal instrument to subvert the Islamic regime in Iran. Iranian security personnel and Lebanon's Hezbollah busted in a major counterintelligence operation in Beirut the entire network of the US Central Intelligence Agency in Lebanon and Iran.

The CIA was apparently using Lebanon as the "gateway" to penetrate Iran, given the relative freedom of movement between the two countries. Through May and June, Iranian security officials arrested more than three dozens Iranians who were working for the CIA. Their interrogation revealed that recent covert operations against Iran were the joint ventures of the CIA, Mossad and the MKO.

Thus the British move to rehabilitate the MKO (whose leadership is based in Brussels and is allowed to travel freely to the European capitals) has infuriated Tehran to no end. It seems to be the real reason behind the present crisis. Tehran is resorting to "asymmetrical" response by striking at the symbol of British power because it lacks the capacity to pay back to London in the same coin.

A deep chill is setting in with Iran's ties with Britain. The relationship has been a hugely troubled one historically, the high-water mark in recent history being the coup leading to the overthrow of the government of Mohammed Mossadeq in Iran in 1952, which is commonly attributed to the CIA but was actually the handiwork of MI6. And Iran remembers it. Iran knows better than most countries that Britain continues to be the "brain" behind America's policies - be it toward Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria or Myanmar.

Britain will almost certainly take its grouse over the Iranian snub to the European councils and will seek a "regional" consensus in the Western world to make diplomatic moves against Iran in unison. The predictable pattern will be that given the heightened feelings in London, such countries as Germany that have extensive involvement in Iran will fall in line. All the same, it becomes an occasion to take the temperature on European unity when chips are down over the Iran situation in the coming months.
This, in a manner of speaking, will also be the trial run for the Middle East. The lines are being drawn as the night of the long knives begins. Everyone understands it. And for the autocratic regimes in the Persian Gulf, there will be no corner to go and hide in. The hurried visit by King Abdullah of Jordan to Israel shows the panic over the gathering storm. Saudi Arabia's robust efforts to divide the region on Sunni-Shia sectarian lines haven't succeeded. The Arab street will find it difficult to accept the Western push against Iran. That is the thought worrying Abdullah most. What if this mass indignation erupts in Jordan?

The United States and Israel will no doubt work overtime in the European capitals to get the West to downgrade ties with Iran and if they succeed, they will beat the drums that Iran faces "international" isolation. But it may have no value other than propaganda. Clearly, Tehran has factored in the downstream diplomatic fracas that will follow by insulting Britain, and is nonetheless going ahead with its decision to downgrade ties.

So, what is on the Iranian mind? Some serious conclusions can be drawn. First, Tehran estimates that a US-British-Israeli axis is in any case gearing up for a confrontation. The strategic ambiguity - "all options are on the table" - no longer exists really, after the hardline policy speech by US National Security Adviser Tom Donilon at the Brookings Institution in Washington last week.

Evidently, Donilon spoke up for President Barack Obama, fully mindful of the criticality of an already supercharged Middle East situation:
We have enhanced our significant and enduring US force presence in the region. In addition, we have worked to develop a network of air and missile defenses, shared early warning, improved maritime security, closer counterterrorism cooperation, expanded the programs to build partner capacity, and increased efforts to harden and protect our partners' critical infrastructure.

The steps demonstrate unmistakably to Tehran that any attempt to dominate the region will be futile. And they show the United States is prepared for any contingency ... President Obama has said as recently as last week, we are not taking any options off the table in pursuit of our basic objectives.
Second, Tehran estimates that this confrontation may take place within Obama's first term as president - because it may well ensure the success of his bid for a second term. The manner in which the Obama administration jacked up the tensions with Iran almost in parallel with the commencement of his re-election bid hasn't escaped Tehran's attention. Third, emanating out of the above, Tehran has little choice left but to take to the high ground, as it is no longer a matter of Iran being flexible on the nuclear issue or not, of Iran being conciliatory toward Israel or not, or of Iran being "moderate" on the Palestine problem and the Arab-Israeli conflict or not.

It is pure power play and realpolitik. A similar situation arose in 1980 when Tehran couldn't care less anymore what the US and Britain thought of its revolution, and Tehran feels today once again that it is far better off without the British hanging about. The Iranian historical consciousness still regards Imperial Britain as a poisonous serpent that every now and then crept up from India to devour the succulent Persian fruit.

Collective memory
The animus against Britain comes out clearly in the statement issued by the student protesters who stormed the embassy: The embassy of the old fox should have been occupied much earlier. Every free-minded Iranian whose heart is beating for this land and has observed the crimes of the old colonialism against Iran and the Iranians should know that occupation of the embassy of the old fox serves the interests of Iran and our country's national interests.

The recent statements by Iranian military commanders have warned that Iran has known (and unknown) capabilities to retaliate if attacked. By warning explicitly, it hopes to inject some rational thinking into the US-British-Israeli discourses that are bordering on delusional estimations regarding Iran's policies and choices. But Tehran senses the futility of trying to influence the undergirding of the Obama administration's disposition anymore in the near term.

In the Iranian estimation, Obama is simply not interested in hearing Iran's narrative. His obsessive concern is his 2012 re-election bid, and his campaign interests lie in diverting the locus of the political discourse away from his failings in mending the US economy. A regime change in Syria and a move toward cracking down on the Hezbollah are just the kind of decisive leadership that he needs to project to get over the image that he "leads from the rear".

With an amazing degree of belligerence, Donilon continued in his speech at Brookings: The end of the [Bashar al-] Assad regime [in Syria] would constitute Iran's greatest setback in the region, a strategic blow that would further shift the balance of power in the region against Iran. Tehran would have lost its closest ally in the region. To be sure, the "revolutionary" mood in Tehran is developing against the regional backdrop. Tehran links Donilon's belligerence with the stationing of the nuclear aircraft carrier USS George H W Bush off Syria. The US 6th Fleet is also patrolling the eastern Mediterranean off Syria. The US and Turkey have asked their nationals to leave Syria.

Again, US Vice-President Joseph Biden has arrived on a surprise visit to Iraq, en route to Turkey on a mission to display US backing for Ankara's interventionist role in Syria. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu hinted for the first time on Tuesday that his country was ready for an intervention in Syria.

According to Britain's Daily Telegraph newspaper, a secret meeting was held in Istanbul last Friday between Turkish officials and representatives of the Libyan "opposition" to work out the logistics to bring Libyan fighters who were trained and equipped by the West to fight in Syria.

There are reports in the Russian media that the first contingent of 600 Libyan fighters may have already been transferred to Syria. The dilemma facing Turkey and its Western allies is that the Syrian armed forces have overwhelmingly remained loyal to the regime. Thus the fig leaf of Syrian "resistance" is unavailable, which in turn would expose the gamut of the outside intervention. The Libyan fighters are expected to make up for this operational deficiency.

In short, the writing is there on the wall that a Western intervention in Syria led by Turkey is shaping up. France has openly called for creating a European Union-backed humanitarian corridor that would allow Western intelligence and military advisers to move through Turkey into Syria and mastermind the regime change. Turkey was specially invited to the EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels on Tuesday.

All in all, Tehran is left in no doubt that the time has come to switch the Iranian nation into a revolutionary mode. The intrusion into the British Embassy invokes archetypal symbols of defiance and resistance, which are embedded in the Iran's revolutionary consciousness - especially when the collective memory about Britain is summoned. It is Iran's ultimate line of defense - as was the hostage crisis with the US in the months following the revolution when Iran came under siege.

Clearly, Obama, who has a panache for taking political gambles - and has so far won in a meteoric political career - is on a slippery path. Syria is a hard nut to crack; Hezbollah is waiting in the wings; so is Hamas. The odds are 50-50 that things may not happen the way Donilon tried to persuade us to anticipate, even if they may not be an exact replay of the outcome that horrified Jimmy Carter. On Tuesday afternoon, the US-Iran standoff moved to a flashpoint.....
Iran delivers major blow to the CIA....
By Mahan Abedin

Iran's claim last week to have arrested 12 spies working for the United States Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is potentially a major blow to American intelligence-gathering efforts in Iran and to American intelligence generally. The arrests come on the heels of the arrest of 30 alleged CIA spies in late May and are indicative of steadily improving counter-intelligence capabilities.

The recent success is reinforced by the unraveling of a CIA spy ring in Lebanon operating within the Hezbollah organization. These reports have been grudgingly confirmed by current and former US intelligence officials, which is suggestive of a major American intelligence defeat, if not a full-blown disaster.

Recent Hezbollah counter-intelligence successes against Israel and the US (in June, Hezbollah arrested two CIA spies operating inside the organization) are at least in part due to increased counter-intelligence assistance from Iran.

Asia Times Online sources in Tehran claim that Iran's Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) has been more willing in recent years to transfer sensitive counter-espionage know-how and techniques to both Hezbollah and the official Lebanese intelligence services.

Regarding the arrest of 12 alleged CIA spies by Iran, aside from the clear indication of escalating American intelligence operations, there are two outstanding observations. First, the CIA is operating a lower threshold of quality control in terms of agent recruitment and management. Second, there are signs that the MOIS is moving steadily in the direction of making Iran a forbidding space for hostile foreign intelligence services.

Information from a wide range of Iranian media - and corroborated by ATol sources in Tehran - is suggestive of a scatter-gun approach by the CIA inasmuch as the agency is targeting virtually any Iranian citizen it believes could potentially provide useful information on the CIA's target set.

While there were media reports that some government "managers" were amongst the suspected CIA spies arrested in May, this time around Iran's intelligence minister, Heydar Moslehi, told local journalists on Sunday that there were no government officials amongst the 12 suspected spies.

Speaking on the fringes of the government's weekly cabinet meeting, Moslehi gave strong indications that most, if not all, of the latest arrested suspected spies were either junior Iranian scientists or students who frequently travelled overseas as part of their studies or official scientific work.

Information gleaned from a wide range of Iranian media over the past six months - and confirmed by ATol sources in Tehran - appears to indicate that besides the high-value targets such as the nuclear program and the country's defense establishment, the CIA's target set includes Iran's banking and financial sector; logistics and transportation networks (particularly air transportation); town planning; the oil and gas sector; and the software industry, particularly private companies that design and operate specialist software for the Iranian government.

More specifically, the CIA appears to be focussed on how Iran is defeating international and unilateral US and European sanctions; how and to what extent Iran is using the international financial system to advance its critical projects as well as its ordinary day-to-day business; the vulnerabilities of Iran's transportation and logistics network; the level of preparedness by Iranian emergency and humanitarian relief organizations; and more generally the resilience of critical Iranian infrastructure in the face of a major disaster or a prolonged period of national stress, such as a military conflict.

To achieve its objectives, the CIA's National Clandestine Service (NCS) has set up a dedicated team of operatives and analysts who operate primarily from countries bordering Iran, but also further afield, particularly in countries with sizeable numbers of Iranian students, such as Malaysia.

This dedicated network is exceptionally well-trained, for example all the operatives and analysts possess a masterful command of the Persian language and display high levels of inter-cultural competence.

Early indications appear to suggest that the CIA started to develop this dedicated network in 2003 and that most of the elements were in place by the middle of 2008. This makes the MOIS' recent counter-intelligence success an even more remarkable achievement, in so far as Iranian counter-intelligence may have doomed the CIA's vast investment almost from the outset.

In the course of its investigations and specialized counter-espionage work, the MOIS claims to have identified 42 officers of the CIA's NCS operating in several countries and collected detailed information on the scope and nature of their activities.

The dedicated NCS team appears to be embedded within numerous official and unofficial American organizations, including US embassies, multinational corporations, medium-sized commercial organizations, recruitment consultancies, immigration and wider legal services, academic and quasi-academic institutions and reputable (ie longstanding) as well as newly set up thinktanks.

If accounts on online Iranian media are to be believed the focus on Iranian scientists and students may have been this dedicated team's downfall. It has been suggested that the 30-person network(s) unraveled earlier this year (and announced in late May) was initially brought to the attention of the MOIS by a patriotic Iranian student who had been approached by a quasi-academic institution (offering grants and scholarships as a means of entrapment) in Malaysia.

The MOIS subsequently investigated the Malaysia-based institution and was able to establish a clear CIA link, which in turn widened the scope of the investigation and eventually netted 30 suspected spies.

It has been reported that 75% of the suspected spies detained this year had higher education qualifications. At one level, this is suggestive of an innovative CIA approach to entrap and recruit gifted Iranian scientists and students with a view to collecting information on the target set in a short to medium time frame.

However, the relative dearth of government officials - or in fact anyone with access to classified or sensitive information - indicates a degree of CIA desperation and an acceptance by the agency that it has to make do with lower quality recruits and manage them to a shorter life span, in view of the agents' lack of ready access to classified materials and the expectation that the MOIS would catch up with them sooner rather than later.

It is also an indication that the most sensitive Iranian organizations (or at least the higher reaches of these organizations) including the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the wider defense establishment, are now either free of American spies or at least more secure than before in the face of determined American espionage efforts.

Furthermore, it can be argued that as the CIA widens and intensifies its agent recruitment efforts it runs the long-term risk of making it more and more difficult to operate inside Iran, in view of the MOIS' proven prowess at penetrating American intelligence networks and learning the key secrets at the heart of these conspiracies at a relatively early stage.

In summary, there appears to be a disparity between escalating CIA espionage and the MOIS' growing counter-espionage resilience, with the latter steadily gaining the upper hand.

But despite clear improvements in counter-espionage capabilities and protective security measures, Iran is still some way away from making it prohibitively costly for Western agencies to operate inside the country. Indeed, all the major West European, North American and Israeli intelligence services are either active inside Iran or work closely with some elements of the Iranian diaspora.

Nevertheless, there are clear signs that in the pure intelligence war (as opposed to sabotage) Iran is beginning to turn the tide.....

Rivals under the same heaven, but Zioconned US appeared childish and disrespectful of China....

Rivals under the same heaven, but Zioconned US appeared childish and disrespectful of China....

By Jian Junbo

LONDON - US policy toward China in past three decades could be summarized as seeking a balance between containment and engagement.

The diplomatic offensives launched by the administration of US President Barack Obama in past weeks are evidence that Washington is quickly tipping the balance in favor of containing China, frustrated by its failure to engage that country into US-led international order.

At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in Hawaii in mid-November, Obama demanded that China play by international rules, and be more responsible in the international community, since it had grown up. He said China should continue to revalue its currency against the US dollar, narrow the Sino-US

trade deficit and better protect intellectual-property rights. Even more aggressively, Obama has kicked off negotiations on forming a Trans-Pacific Partnership, a US-led free-trade zone in the Asia-Pacific area that would exclude China - the second-largest economy in the world.

Right after the APEC Summit, Obama visited Australia, a political and military ally of the US, where he declared that 2,500 American troops would be stationed in Darwin, capital of Australia's Northern Territory. This is widely viewed as a new deterrence to China's navy.

Then at the East Asia Summit in Bali, Indonesia, the US raised the South China Sea issue despite Beijing's objection. It is China's consistent position that territorial disputes in that sea must be dealt with through bilateral negotiations between the countries concerned, and no other countries or international organizations should get involved.

For Beijing, therefore, Washington's eagerness to get involved is not only an offense but also an act of strong support for some countries with territorial disputes with China, such as the Philippines and Vietnam, to hit a nerve in Beijing and complicate the situation in the region further.

Taking into consideration all of this and other actions by the US administration in East Asia in recent years after Obama proclaimed the ''return to Asia'' strategic shift, it's easy to see that a new containment policy toward China is in formation, although Obama and his top officials have publicly denied it.

Not long ago, Obama approved selling advanced weapons including F-16C/D jet fighters to Taiwan, an island considered by Beijing as a renegade province of China. Furthermore, under suspected US pressure, Naypyidaw stopped a planned hydroelectric dam project in cooperation with China in Myitsone, Myanmar, with the excuse of people's fears that the dam might damage the environment. The construction of this dam offended Myanmar's people, said President Thein Sein. However, this was not convincing for Beijing, because assessments on environmental effects had been carefully done before construction began. The suspension of the dam project is therefore widely considered as a gift of Naypyidaw to Washington in exchange for the US lifting sanctions on Myanmar. Washington is never happy to see close relations between China and Myanmar. It may not be a coincidence that after the dam project was shelved, Hillary Rodham Clinton paid a visit to Naypyidaw. This was the first visit by a US secretary of state to Myanmar in half a century.

Moreover, Clinton on July 20, during a visit to Chennai, ''kindly'' suggested that India should play a more active role to ''lead Asia'', which has also been commonly considered as Washington's hope for India to be a power to balance China's rise.

All this is not to mention that the US has many military bases in countries and regions neighboring China - South Korea, Japan, Guam, the Philippines, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan - and it has military cooperation with Mongolia, Indonesia, Malaysia and others.

All in all, it seems Washington is now seeking comprehensively to contain China with both hard and soft approaches after its adoption of the ''return to Asia'' strategy and its failure to frame China in the US-led international system despite the efforts of each US administration in the past three decades. When Obama visited China in 2009, he tried to sell the new idea of a Group of Two - a US-China convergence in geopolitical interests - but Premier Wen Jiabao straightforwardly told Obama that Beijing didn't like such an idea.

Originally, Obama hoped in this way to ''tame'' China - not by containment or engagement alone but with what some called a ''tender trap''. But he failed. After that, we can see Washington has been readjusting its policy toward China, and the readjustment should not be considered only as temporary ''election rhetoric'' by Obama to please the Republicans and common voters. Rather, this is a systemic and strategic readjustment of China policy, in coordination with Washington's ''return to Asia'' strategic shift.

By now, it seems Washington has nearly shown all of its cards about comprehensively containing China.

Militarily, it has striven to enhance its alliance with Japan and South Korea, consolidate its military bases in China's neighbors, and strengthen cooperation with countries that have territorial disputes with China in the South China Sea or elsewhere.

Politically, it has tried to incite some of China's neighbors to challenge Beijing or sow discord, has sold weapons to Taiwan, and actively intervened in China's domestic affairs in regard to such issues as Tibet, Xinjiang and human rights.

Economically, it has increased its pressure on China to revalue the renminbi and set up obstructions for China's exports to and investment in the US.

Faced with Washington's increasingly aggressive moves to contain China, Beijing has so far remained restrained and patient. In October when Washington declared new arms sales to Taiwan, Beijing reacted mildly. In the face of Obama's recent offensives, Beijing has also refrained from any strong reaction, which astonished some China watchers in the West.

For instance, at APEC, President Hu Jintao just asked Obama to respect China's legitimate core interest in the Asia-Pacific region, since China respected America's legitimate interests in this region, adding that China welcomed the US to play a constructive role there. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin, responding to a media question about the US stationing troops in Australia, just diplomatically said that the move ''may not be quite appropriate''.

Meanwhile, when being challenged by the Philippines and Vietnam with the suspected support and encouragement, directly or indirectly, by the US, Chinese leaders have also shown patience or even tolerance, without making any tit-for-tat moves.

Beijing's restraint and patience are partially due to domestic affairs, especially because the Chinese Communist Party is set to hold its 18th National Congress next year to reshuffle its top leadership. Preparing for the congress is the priority of priorities for the CCP. At such a crucial moment, Beijing doesn't want the power transition to be affected by external factors and affairs. Keeping a low profile and mild position toward external offenses is helpful in maintaining internal political stability. Anyway, a stable and peaceful power transition, which will have far-reaching influence on China's future, is more important than a temporary victory in an international arena.

Furthermore, China's self-restrained response to the United States' systemic containment is in line with Beijing's implementation of the national strategy - China's rise is peaceful regardless of some unfriendly and even hostile criticisms in the West. To rise peacefully and to strive for a harmonious world of course do not mean China must yield to the US and other Western countries, or just prove it's able to avoid the kinds of wars that inevitably happened in history during the rise of new powers such as Spain, Britain, Germany and the US.

This stems from China's traditional philosophy and its historic relations with foreign powers. As a semi-colonized country between the 1840s and 1940s, China understands that no country likes foreign interference and military threats, let alone invasion. In view of this, peaceful rise demonstrates not only the Chinese people's serious commitment to the world, but also their great respect for their ancestors who lived through that tragic period.

In addition, China does not have a culture or history of colonialism. True, in Chinese dynastic history, there were wars. But most of them were among the Han Chinese themselves or between the Han and ethnic minorities. At certain times, the Chinese imperial courts sent troops to invade lands in today's Vietnam and Korean Peninsula, which then were regarded as subordinate states in a China-centered international system. The Mongol Empire's invasion of Europe and Asia was an exception, but the Mongols at that time thought themselves superior to the Chinese and refused to accept Chinese culture.

Anyway, the Great Wall was built to keep away invaders from the northern deserts and grasslands, and Zheng He's great fleet was not to colonize the barbarians' lands and despoil their wealth.

In Chinese culture, the idea ''All under Heaven'' is different the Western idea - the "world". The former considers all under heaven as a whole and integrated, and each part can co-exist with others. The ''world'' means the division of ''us'' and ''them''. Within ''us'', ''we'' are integrated and a whole, yet outside ''us'', ''they'' are heresies, enemies who should even be killed if ''they'' don't accept "our" cultures and vales.

According to this view, China believes its rise can really be peaceful and benefit others, yet the US, as the sole superpower, and the rest of the West believe that China, with a different culture and political and societal system and unwillingness to accept Western values and systems, should be contained and ''taken down'', as former US ambassador to China Jon Huntsman said in a TV interview.

Thus when China declined to be integrated into the US-led international system and Western values, Obama began to lose patience, especially when China seemed to continue rising while the US was deeply trapped in its financial and economic crisis.

But Sino-US co-existence is not possible if Washington continually pursues an offensive containment policy toward China while Beijing has to remain restrained and patient and keep a low profile.

How to manage China's rise is a big challenge to Washington as well as Beijing. It is important that the US should not treat China like those rising powers in history, and Beijing should seek more flexible and functional ways to deal with Washington's challenges.

Clearly, China and the US need to cooperate with each other in international affairs, not only at the bilateral level, but also at regional and global levels. To dismiss China's commitment to peaceful rise as a joke is not a clever or mature attitude. So when the US administration rushed to contain China after failing to achieve its goal of taking it into its sphere, Obama and his colleagues in Washington only appeared childish and disrespectful. The best way is to sit down and understand the differences between the two civilizations, and then find their common points. Containment is the worst and stupidest way to deal with or manage China's rise.

Dr Jian Junbo, an assistant professor of the Institute of International Studies at Fudan University, Shanghai, China.

US-Myanmar:Engagement as nuclear pre-emption, nuclear proliferation alive and kicking....?

US-Myanmar:Engagement as nuclear pre-emption, nuclear proliferation alive and kicking....?

By Bertil Lintner

CHIANG MAI - On November 9, a Russian Antonov 124-100, the world's second largest operating cargo plane, landed at Mandalay international airport in central Myanmar. The plane was off-loaded at night, and the secret cargo was trucked away by a military convoy. It is unclear exactly what the plane carried, but well-placed Myanmar sources suspect the shipment included anti-aircraft missiles, parts for such missiles, or radars for the Myanmar military's Bureau of Air Defense.

Another possibility, sources familiar with the shipment suggest, was a delivery of Russian-made MI-24 helicopter gunships destined for military use against the Kachins and other ethnic rebel groups in Myanmar's restive border regions. Whatever the Russian plane carried, it was likely for military purposes and demonstrates that Myanmar continues to purchase sophisticated military equipment despite new President Thein Sein's recent charm offensive towards the United States and Europe.

As US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lands this week for a diplomatic visit to Myanmar, there is nothing to indicate that the country's military leadership has given up its clandestine program to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including missiles and nuclear research. The North Korean technicians who have assisted those clandestine efforts are still situated and working in the country, according to sources familiar with the situation.

After another North Korean ship destined for Myanmar - this one flying the Belize flag of convenience - was forced by the US navy to turn back in May this year, WMD-related materials are now being delivered over land through China, according to sources familiar with the situation. Significantly, all of these incidents have occurred since Thein Sein, a former general and prime minister under the old ruling junta, took office at the head of a nominally civilian government in March.

US concerns over Myanmar's WMD program - and especially its links to North Korea - are seen by some security analysts as the reason behind Washington's bid to improve relations with a regime that it has long sanctioned for gross human-rights violations. While issues of democracy and human rights will certainly be on Clinton's public agenda, so too privately will be the status of Myanmar's relations with North Korea, its acquisition of advanced missile technology and its military-linked nuclear energy programs.

The fact that Clinton chose to visit South Korea immediately before landing in Myanmar, where she was due on Wednesday, is a clear indication of the importance Washington places on the nuclear issue. It is believed that South Korea, a close US ally, is well-placed to edge out North Korea's military-to-military influence in Myanmar through the offer of lucrative trade, investment and other commercial incentives. While the US and European Union maintain strict economic sanctions against the regime, South Korea trades and invests freely with Myanmar.

Opposition to Myanmar's abusive ways is still strong in Washington, and any reduction in US sanctions would require congressional approval. It's not clear that approval will be forthcoming anytime soon. US Senator Richard Lugar disclosed on November 25 that the Myanmar government intended to develop a nuclear weapons capability with the help of North Korea and that the US Navy had intercepted several North Korean ships on their way to Myanmar suspected of carrying advanced military equipment and forced them back to North Korea. The statement represented perhaps the sharpest US government criticism yet of Myanmar's nuclear ambitions.

Myanmar's government is typically in denial. Zaw Htay, director of the office of President Thein Sein, countered the nuclear allegations in a November 17 commentary published in the Washington Post: "The new government decided after the incident at Japan's Fukushima site this spring not to pursue the nuclear path," he wrote, adding that all nuclear-related activities were purely for civilian research purposes.

Recalling North Korea's repeated denials of its nuclear program following the so-called 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework with the US, few independent observers are prepared to accept Myanmar's official denials at face value. Myanmar's missile program, which is bidding to produce a Scud-type missile based on North Korean designs, is still ongoing. The development of WMD, meanwhile, remains an important element of Myanmar's defense doctrine.

Defector revelations
In an exclusive interview with Asia Times Online, Myanmar's "nuclear whistleblower" and army defector Major Sai Thein Win said that he and his military comrades received their first instructions to engage in WMD research in 2001. Then minister of science and technology U Thaung and former junta deputy chief Gen Maung Aye gave speeches around that time at the National Defense College in Yangon - where Sai Thein Win was then enrolled - asserting that Myanmar needed "advanced weapons' technology" to protect the country. "They told us no one dared to meddle in the internal affairs of North Korea because it had developed nuclear weapons," Sai Thein Win said. "So we should do the same."

U Thaung said in one of his speeches at the National Defense College that because neighboring Thailand is allied with the US, the Americans could invade Myanmar at any time. He noted that during the nationwide uprising for democracy that swept Myanmar in 1988, a US naval fleet of five warships - including the aircraft carrier Coral Sea - entered Myanmar's territorial waters just six days before the army moved to reassert power in a bloody coup on September 18 that year.

Neutral observers have argued that the ships were likely deployed to monitor the situation and if necessary to evacuate US citizens. But the ships' presence spooked Myanmar's military leaders, stoking fears of a possible future US invasion.

In response, a new defense doctrine, one that prioritized WMD development and heavy weaponry procurements over an emphasis on the light infantry, was implemented by the country's military leadership. U Thaung subsequently went to China, India and Russia to see where Myanmar army technicians and engineers could receive training to manage the transition. As a graduate in defense industrial engineering from Myanmar's Defense Services Technological Academy, Sai Thein Win was among the first batch of 360 Myanmar army officers sent to Russia for training in May 2001.

After learning the Russian language, the first batch of Myanmar officers were divided into different groups, according to Sai Thein Win. One group was assigned to study solid propellant rocket engine design, another liquid rocket engine design, and the third Transporter Erector Launchers (TELs), which are used to move missiles. Other officers were sent to the Moscow Energy Institute, an avionics institute, and the Moscow State Technical Institute, which is also known as the Bauman Moscow State Technical University. Myanmar officers were allowed to study all topics except solid propellant rocket engine design because it involved obvious military-related research, according to Sai Thein Win.

According to its own website, Bauman MSTU accepts "more than 300 international students from 20 countries all over the world" and offers courses in "space engineering, heating engineering, biophysics, aerodynamics, radio physics, radio electronics, optics, laser technology, dynamics and strength of machines". Although it has been accused of educating Iran's missile technicians, Bauman MSTU has never been sanctioned by the US government. The technical university remains a well-respected academic institution where WMD-related research is carried out openly.

Sai Thein Win studied there for three years, returned briefly to Myanmar, and then was sent back to Russia for a second time in 2004. On his return to Myanmar in 2005, he joined a top secret unit at the Defense Services Science and Technology Research Center in Pyin Oo Lwin in the hills northeast of Mandalay. He was later assigned to Myaing, west of Mandalay, where he says nuclear-related research is currently conducted. He also visited other defense industries in Myanmar, including facilities where missile production is carried out.

Sai Thein Win says he finally came to the realization that the WMD program was wasteful and in many aspects hopeless due to a lack of proper equipment and nuclear expertise. He decided to leave Myanmar in February 2010 and has since been a major source on Myanmar's nuclear ambitions, including for a documentary produced by Democratic Voice of Burma, a Norway-based news organization run by Myanmar exiles.

In an October 18 public statement, Sai Thein Win said: "I have exposed the military projects of our government, not because they threaten the world, but because this is the main reason why our people are facing starvation. Half of the government's budget is being used for military projects."

Shotgun engagement
The fact that Myanmar, most likely with North Korean assistance, is studying weapons-related nuclear technologies and engaged in missile production has no doubt factored into Washington's decision to engage the military regime. North Korea's alleged involvement as technicians and specialists in Myanmar's programs has attracted the attention of regional and international security planners. Following the recent upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa, North Korea has lost - or is on the verge of losing - many of its traditional customers for missiles, missile technology and nuclear know-how.

Since joining the US-led "war on terror", Pakistan is no longer a close strategic partner to North Korea. The Libyan and Egyptian regimes, which in recent years have both acquired missile technology from North Korea, have been toppled in the so-called Arab Spring. Syria, one of North Korea's closest military partners in the Middle East, is in turmoil as popular protests threaten to overthrow that secretive regime.

Only Iran remains a faithful and secure customer for North Korea's military technology exports. Security analysts believe that North Korea is working hard to develop similar ties with Myanmar, which is closer to home than the Middle East and also rich in oil and gas revenues. The two sides are known to have done barter deals where Myanmar receives military-related equipment and North Korea accepts rice as payment.

Against this proliferation backdrop, Clinton is in Myanmar this week for talks some believe could lead to an easing and eventual removal of US sanctions. There is clearly a belief in Washington that a nuclear-minded Myanmar should be brought in from the cold and the timing is right as Thein Sein makes positive reform signals towards the West.

Recent reform signals have included engagement with pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, the easing of media censorship, and an official invitation to Myanmar exiles to return home. At the same time, Myanmar appears to be distancing itself from China, its closest regional ally. (See
China embrace too strong for Naypyidaw, Asia Times Online, November 23, '11).

Full US engagement, however, willl not come easily due to entrenched opposition in the US Congress. Ahead of Clinton's visit, influential lawmakers have sounded alarm bells about Myanmar's nuclear ambitions. "The sincerity with which a wide range of reforms has been promised by the Burmese [Myanmar] government must be judged by whether the words are followed by actions," said Senator Lugar in a November 25 statement. "An early goal of the tentative US re-engagement with Burma should be full disclosure of the extent and intent of the developing Burmese nuclear program."

Answers to some of those questions rest in Russia, where thousands of Myanmar officers have received training in various nuclear-related topics in recent years. Anton Khlopkov and Dmitry Konukhov, two specialists at the Moscow-based Center for Energy and Security Studies, wrote in a recent paper that, "the last group of Myanmar students is expected to complete their Master's program at the National Research Nuclear University MEPhI in Moscow by mid-2011."

An unknown number of Russia-trained Myanmar officers are now stationed and undertaking secretive nuclear research at places like DI-20 at Sidoktaya, in the Minbu township of Myanmar's Magway Region, according to sources familiar with the site. Meanwhile, Russian cargo planes presumably laden with military equipment continue to land at Myanmar's airports under the cover of night. Clinton and her Myanmar counterparts will have plenty to discuss this week beyond democracy and human rights.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zioconned US phased and adaptive [missile defense] system is directed against Russia....

Zioconned Russia's double speak does not fool anyone, it has joined with the Axis of Evil, MOSSAD-AMAN....CIA-DIA....

THE “Admiral Kuznetsov” class aircraft carrier is currently off the coast of Malta and heading for eastern Mediterranean from their base in the Barents Sea.....Informed sources; Russian navy and Israeli military will hold joint exercises close to Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.....


Russia is eying all that Oil and Gas in the Eastern Mediterranean, and couldn't care less about "politics" on the ground all around.....

Informed sources; Russian navy and Israeli military will hold joint exercises close to Cyprus-Lebanon Exclusive Economic Zone.....???

Zioconned US phased and adaptive [missile defense] system is directed against Russia....??? LOL

The launch of a new anti-missile radar station in the Russian Baltic Sea region of Kaliningrad should be treated by the West as the “first signal” of Russia’s readiness to counter “threats” posed by NATO’s missile defense plans, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said on Tuesday.

The radar, which is capable of monitoring missile launches from the North Atlantic, as well as the United States’ future European missile shield, was put into operation earlier during the day. A source in the Russian Defense Ministry earlier said that the radar will go on combat duty starting December 1.

Addressing the Russian Armed Forces commanders after the radar's inauguration ceremony, Medvedev said its launch was intended to demonstrate Russia’s “readiness for an adequate response to the threats posed by [NATO’s] European missile defense system to out strategic nuclear forces.”

“If our signal is not heard, as I said on November 23, we will continue deploying other defense means,” he said.

Medvedev said in his address to the nation on November 23 that he had ordered the launch of the radar as part of Russia’s reaction to the United States’ missile shield plans. Russia may also deploy Iskander tactical missiles in the Kaliningrad region in the near future, he said.

At the same time, the Kaliningrad radar, which is located at Russia’s western-most border, is “not directed against our Western partners” and “could be used for joint defense,” Medvedev said on Tuesday.

Russia is seeking written, legally binding guarantees that the missile shield will not be directed against it. However, Washington has refused to provide those guarantees to Moscow and said it will not alter its missile defense plans despite increasingly tough rhetoric from Moscow.

“We can no longer be satisfied with a common statement that the phased and adaptive [missile defense] system that is being created is not directed against Russia,” Medvedev said. “Those are empty words, which unfortunately do not guarantee the protection of our interests.”

He added, however, that “if other steps are made,” Moscow will “certainly” take them into consideration.

“But anyway, oral statements are not enough,” he said....

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian government have taken the right steps to protect themselves and begin to neutralize the potential threat of the US European Missile Defence Shield.

The United States has refused to sign a legally binding international document stating that the US European Missile Defence Shield will not be pointed at and used against the Russian military.

Therefore the only conclusion that the Kremlin can draw from this is that in the future there is a potential for the US European Missile Defence Shield to be used against Russian military forces.

Under what circumstances would the United States / NATO / Europe use the US European Missile Defence Shield against Russia?

The only reason that I am aware of that United States / NATO / Europe would use the US European Missile Defence Shield against Russia would be to secure the energy resources of oil and natural gas around the Caspian Basin area.

The Caspian Sea / Caspian Basin area now have the largest remaining sources of light crude oil and natural gas on the planet.

I live in North America and for the past 6 years I have been following the news reports and documentaries on the concern of Peak Oil for North America.

Worldwide Peak Oil is the maximum amount of oil that can be extracted from all known oil reservoirs.

Worldwide Peak Oil was reached in June 2006.

The United States will have sufficient oil and natural gas reserves until the year 2020.

By the year 2020 many of the oil reserves it depends on will begin to run dry.

This is also true of Europe.

The Mexican oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico are now in catastrophic decline. They will be exhausted by 2020. The decline has been measured at 33% to 36% per year over the past few years. Mexico exports its oil to the United States where it is processed at the Texas oil refineries.

The North Sea oil reserves that supply oil to Great Britain and Europe are also now in catastrophic decline. They will be exhausted by 2020. The decline has been measured at 33% per year over the past few years.

Saudi Arabia in 2011 adjusted the oil available their oil reserves downward by 300 billion barrels.

Saudi Arabia has been experiencing an 8% decline in available oil flow for several years now. The oil industry in Saudi Arabia has been drilling new oil wells as quickly as possible to replace those that are running dry. Depletion of Saudi Arabian oil fields is expected between 2030 and 2040.

The Canadian Tar Sands are an additional source of oil to the United States. Reports from oil industry experts estimate that Canada can supply the United States with sufficient oil and natural gas energy until 2020. At this time the easy to mine tar sands near the surface will become exhausted.

The danger to the Canadian ecological system is that it completely destroys the land, poisons the the air and water. Cancer rates in Alberta Canada are very high. It takes a lot of energy to process the Canadian Tar Sands and this will become uneconomical after 2020. If it takes more energy to extract a barrel of oil then the process is no longer viable.

The United States has other sources of oil from Nigeria, Venezuela and now Libya.

The reason for the most recent Libyan crisis was for the United States, Canada and Europe to get full control of Libya's light crude oil reservoirs.

The Libyan government had threatened to sell their oil only to China and this was unacceptable.

With several of the United States, Canadian and European oil supplies in danger of running low in 2020 another source of easy affordable oil was required. Libya was the solution. Libyan oil fields are now firmly in control of the western oil companies.

Syria and Iran are now the next targets of acquisition for light crude oil reserves.

The last resource on the planet for light crude oil reserves / affordable oil reserves are the Caspian Basin area. There may also be other parts of Russian that have large supplies of oil and natural gas that I am not aware of.

It is my understanding based on past United States government actions that they will use their military to secure the energy resources of other countries not willing to share exclusively with the United States, Canada, NATO and Europe.

This was the case for the attack, invasion and occupation of Iraq, Afghanistan and recently Libya.

This may be the future case for Syria and Iran.

The last energy target on the list is Russia and the Caspian Basin / Caspian Sea oil and natural gas reserves.

From past United States / Canada / NATO / Europe military actions the US European Missile Defence Shield is being put into place to disable military capability in Iran and Russia when the time is right.

The United States will not appear to start military actions, but it will retaliate if attacked.

Once the military targets have been eliminated then the oil and natural gas reservoirs can be secured for western and European consumption.

The years of 2020 to 2030 will be especially active militarily as the United States, Canada, NATO, Europe and China fight for control of the planets last remaining oil reservoirs.

The irony in all of this is that all known oil reserves will be sufficiently exhausted by 2030 as to disable our current modern oil based civilization.

Once the oil industry collapses this will lead to a collapse of the current world banking system, bankruptcies in many industries, mass unemployment, etc. The powers that be would like to keep the status quo for as long as possible. Human society is very resistant to change.

There are solutions to avoid a global meltdown between 2020 and 2030, but it will require a new way of thinking about how human civilizations can be run. My solution to avoid mass unemployment is the new financial concept of “Work Credits”. The concept of “Work Credits” allow countries to value their money supplies based on their country's most valuable natural resource, “their citizens” and their ability to do work that will benefit their community, city, state / province /republic, country.

Alternative energy solutions need to found and implemented instead of wasting valuable human lives, and resources fighting for what remaining oil reservoirs remain.

So it is in Russia's best interests to protect its fossil fuel energy reserves.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's plan to install radar missile sites to neutralize the US European Missile Defence Shield is both prudent and wise.

If the United States / Canada / NATO / Europe were not planning to use the US European Missile Defence Shield against Russian military targets then they would have signed an international agreement stating so.

This has not happened and so the Kremlin must assume that the US European Missile Defence Shield is a potential future threat to Russian military targets and it must neutralize that threat in defence of its country.

The United States would do no less if the threat was in North America....

Zioconned Russia's double speak does not fool anyone, it has joined with the Axis of Evil, MOSSAD-AMAN....CIA-DIA....

Informed sources; Russian navy and Israeli military will hold joint exercises close to Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.....

The exercises are slated to begin on the 28th November and last a week.....

Russian navy nears Cyprus, Lebanon drilling zones.....

THE “Admiral Kuznetsov” class aircraft carrier is currently off the coast of Malta and heading for eastern Mediterranean from their base in the Barents Sea.

Informed sources have said that the Russian navy and Israeli military will hold joint exercises next week close to Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.

The exercises are slated to begin on the 28th November and last a week.

Commentators say that Russia is determined to send the message that they have invested interests in the region and will secure them.

It is understood that the aircraft carrier is carrying 24-fixed wing planes and a number of helicopters. It has also been reported in the press that the Russian navy may request to use port facilities at Limassol.

The radio report also claimed that three Russian destroyers are currently anchored off the Syrian coast. Russia’s naval supply and maintenance site near Syria’s Mediterranean port of Tartus will be modernized to accommodate heavy warships after 2012, the Russian Navy chief said earlier this week.

“Tartus will be developed as a naval base. The first stage of development and modernization will be completed in 2012,” Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said, adding it could then serve as a base for guided-missile cruisers and even aircraft carriers.

The Soviet-era facility is operated under a 1971 agreement by Russian personnel.

Russian relations with Cyprus are at their best in many years. Last month, the Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Vyacheslav Shumskiy said that Moscow fully supports the sovereign right of Cyprus to exploit its natural resources.

“Our position is absolutely clear , and we were among the first countries to comment on that, and we totally support the sovereign right of the Cypriot people for exploitation of natural resources , this is totally in accordance with the international law and with the EU regulations, so there is no doubt about that”, he noted.

Invited to comment on Turkish threats against Cyprus, he said that Turkey’s position is not “very wise”......

THE “Admiral Kuznetsov” class aircraft carrier is currently off the coast of Malta and heading for eastern Mediterranean from their base in the Barents Sea.

Informed sources have said that the Russian navy and Israeli military will hold joint exercises next week close to Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.

The exercises are slated to begin on the 28th November and last a week.

Commentators say that Russia is determined to send the message that they have invested interests in the region and will secure them.

It is understood that the aircraft carrier is carrying 24-fixed wing planes and a number of helicopters. It has also been reported in the press that the Russian navy may request to use port facilities at Limassol....or HAIFA for that matter, home to the Russian-Israeli Global MAFIA.....

Now, with weak leadership in the United States, the bear has come out again to play.

But it still won't be so simple for the Russians to set up shop in Syria.
First, these days Russia's Black Sea Fleet, which would provide the ships for a Mediterranean squadron, is a pale shadow of what it was during the Cold War.

"We have almost no ships left in the Black Sea," commented Konstantin Makienko of Moscow's Center for Strategic and Technical Analysis. "All that Russia could maintain in Syria is a ship or two. That's only a symbolic presence."

Second, Moscow, even with the windfall of high oil prices in 2006-2008, has other military priorities in its much-reduced military budget, such as its nuclear deterrent, the revival of its missile forces and strategic aviation.

Third, while deploying a naval force in the eastern Mediterranean would provide some political leverage for President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, it would have little real military value.

The Russian flotilla would be heavily outgunned by U.S., NATO and Israeli forces and would be beyond the effective reach of Russian air cover, a suicidal proposition.
Yes, but they would maintain an effective air defense on Tartus and possibly Latakia giving the Syrians playing room they don't currently have. For example, to try to build another nuclear plant.
The Israeli media has speculated that a Russian presence in Syria would handcuff the Israeli militarily in any future conflict over the Golan Heights or Lebanon.

If the Russians do rebuild their base at Tartus, it would likely be protected by state-of-the-art S-300PMU-2 Favorit surface-to-air missile batteries manned by Russians.

These long-range systems, far superior to Syria's air-defense system, could provide cover for much of Syria and become a major obstacle for the Israeli air force.

The S-300s would certainly make recent Israeli air force operations, such as the provocative 2006 low-level buzzing of President Bashar Assad's palace in Latakia and the September 2007 airstrike on a nuclear facility near the Turkish border, far more risky.

According to various reports, Moscow has been selling Syria a wide range of weaponry, including highly effective SS-26 Iskander-E missiles and advanced anti-tank systems.

The Syrians, always hard up for cash, may well be prepared to provide Moscow with naval bases as partial payment for its arms purchases, past, present and future....
Russia is upgrading a naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus on the Mediterranean Sea. The base is ostensibly to be used to support Russian naval anti-piracy operations off Somalia, but the real reason is apparently to re-assert itself in the Middle East. Israel is not thrilled.
The source said the base, established during the Cold War but little used since, would support Russia's anti-piracy operations off Somalia.

However, Moscow will be able to use it, and possibly a separate facility at Latakia, Syria's other main port, to reassert its influence in the Mediterranean and the Arab world.

Moscow has also been seeking to establish naval bases in Libya, at the western end of the Mediterranean, and in Yemen on the Red Sea.

This is causing some consternation in the region. Israel in particular is showing signs of alarm at the prospect of Russian military and intelligence support for Syria, possibly including the deployment of advanced air-defense systems around Tartus and Latakia on its doorstep.

If the Russians complete the upgrade of the Tartus facility, Russia's only foothold in the Mediterranean, it would mark the first military presence Moscow has established outside the borders of the former Soviet Union since it collapsed in 1991....


Putin's Russia has a rather cozy relationship with Israel. Neither side really loves the other, but they both need each other for many different reasons. Also, and that is curious, while anti-Jewish feelings are definitely present in Russia, anti-US feelings are MUCH stronger and widespread, and a lot of Russians view Israel as a sort of "cousin" since there are a lot of Russian Jews (and even non-Jewish Russians) in Israel.

As for the Kuznetsov, it is doing what the USN calls a "showing the flag" mission. This is not about threatening anybody (most definitely not NATO or Israel), but about showing capabilities and presence. If you look at the Russian naval doctrine, the Kuznetsov is a means to extend a Russian air defense zone, mostly to protect Russian nuclear submarines. Militarily speaking, the Kuznetsov has absolutely no business being in the Mediterranean. These trips are also good training trips for the Russian crews and they are feel-good trips for the Russian media, but these are not military deployments or a form of power projection.

For all of us the memories of the Cold War as still present, of course, but I will never cease to mantrically repeat this absolutely fundamental and crucial truth

Russian national security policies - a tentative list

Following Russian President Medvedev recent TV address to the Russian nation about the US anti-missile system deployment in Europe and Russia's response to it a lot of commentators have said that a "new Cold War" was possibly returning to the European continent. While not quite wrong, this characterization is dangerously misleading as it leads to associations with the old Soviet Union. That is a highly deceptive choice of words as it misses the single most important conceptual cornerstone of any sound analysis of Russian policies:

==>>Russia is not the Soviet Union<<==
(repeat three times)

This seemingly self-evident truism is still fundamentally missed in most analyses of Russian national security policies, and there are good reasons for that. After all, Putin was a KGB intelligence officer, Russia is, in many but not all aspects, a 'successor state' to the old Soviet Union, there still is a strong minority of Russians who are nostalgic for the good old days (?) of the Soviet Union and some Soviet era symbols are still seen everywhere in Russia (red stars, even statues of Lenin). But most importantly, the Western propaganda machine is constantly trumpeting that Russia is a "Soviet Union version 2", that a "resurgent Russia" means a new USSR, that under a thin veneer of change "the Russians are up to their old tricks", etc. That is, of course, utter nonsense. One need not to be a Putin-supporter to realize that Russia is a qualitatively different entity from the old Soviet Union. I won't even bother defending that self-evident fact here (if somebody doubts this, please stop reading now).

Saying that Russia is not the "Soviet Union v2" however, begs the question of what Russia really is. What are the Russians really up to? What are the actual national security policies which the "Putin-Medvedev-Putin again" regime has been pursuing since 2000 and is likely to purse on the foreseeable future. I will try to offer a summary of what I believe the national security priorities of Russia currently are in the following list.

Current Russia national security polices aims to:
  1. show an absolutely determined willingness to fight if Russian vital interests are threatened (08.08.08 war against Georgia)
  2. de-couple the EU from the US as much as possible by political and economic means (see the huge gas contracts through the north and south pipelines towards Western Europe)
  3. growl and bare fangs, but not quite bite, when confronted with US imperial hubris and threats (Russian response to NATO anti-missile system in Europe)
  4. at the UN, insist on a full compliance with international law and UNSC resolutions (that, in itself, is a major annoyance for the USA who would love to have a legal cloak for all its imperial wars)
  5. develop new international structures and relations (think SCO and CSTO here) to counterbalance US controlled structures
  6. strengthen bilateral cooperation with independent partners (China, India, Latin America)
  7. protect the Russian economy from the slow-motion but inexorable crash of the Western capitalist economies, mainly by reducing Russia's dependence on the West (Putin and Medvedev have done an excellent job in making the Russian economy strong while protecting it from the worst effects of the economic crisis in the West)
  8. dramatically increase the Russian influence over the Central Asian region and its energy-rich resources (not by sending soldiers, but by participating in the economic development of this region)
  9. weaken the influence of US-controlled Wahhabi thuggish and criminal insurgencies by supporting the traditional forms of Islam not only in the Caucasus region, but throughout Russia, including Moscow and other big cities and by developing Russian central and regional anti-terrorist capabilities.
  10. use Russian economic and cultural power to slowly improve relations with the population of countries like the Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, or Latvia whose governments have recently (or are still) run by anti-Russian governments, while reaching out to promising political figures (like Nino Burjanadze)
  11. avoid openly confronting or antagonizing the US Empire, in particular when the latter is engaged in self-defeating policies (war in Afghanistan)
  12. develop military forces capable of:
  • suppressing any insurgency inside Russia
  • dealing with one or two simultaneous regional crises on the Russian borders
  • project enough power to protect threatened regional allies (Tajikistan? Armenia?)
  • execute complex joint operations with key allies (Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and, in a second phase, possibly China)
  • maintain a strategic nuclear capability sufficient to deter the US from any ideas of an attack on Russia
I would submit that this (admittedly non-official) strategy is fundamentally sound. First, in contrast to old Soviet-era policies, this Russian strategy is both doable and sustainable. Second, it is legitimate, in the sense that it is fully compatible with international law and accepted norms of civilized behavior. Third, this strategy does not threaten the legitimate interests of any other country or region. Fourth, these polices enjoy a broad consensus inside the Russian public opinion. Fifth, these policies make Russia an attractive partner for many countries who seek to remain free from US imperial control.

However, there are also some apparent down sides to these policies. The first and most obvious one is that Russia will not get involved in a direct confrontation with the West to defend any third party, be it the Kosovo Serbs, the Iranians or the Syrians. If NATO pushes hard, Russia will back down, unless its direct and vital interests are threatened. The 'best' Russia can do for those countries who are threatened by the US empire is, according to point #4 above, is insist on a compliance with international law and UNSC resolutions. Sadly, on at least two recent occasions (Iran, Libya), Russia failed to even do that. My best guess is that in both situations the leaders in the Kremlin were hoping for some quid pro quo from the USA, though I am quite unable to identify anything that the betrayal by Russia of Iran and Libya at the UNSC would have achieved for Russia (any guesses here?).

This leaves a couple of what I think of "exotic things" to explain. What were Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers doing in Venezuela? Why is the Russian Navy conducting anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia? What is the Russian aircraft carrier doing in the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria right now?

The reality is that none of these deployments have a serious military component. These are what the US Navy calls "showing the flag" missions, a demonstration of capabilities to potential allies and adversaries, and a way to show the Russian people that their tax money allows their country to play in the "big leagues". At no time did any of these deployment represent even a marginal threat to the USA or NATO countries (a pair of Russian attack submarines would be a far greater threat to the US Navy than the current deployment of the Kuznetsov).

Bottom line: the Russian policies will be low-key, unspectacular, gradual, aimed at the long-term, focused but un-confrontational and primarily local and regional. Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia does not believe that it is in a global zero-sum game against the USA. The leaders in the Kremlin are under no illusion about the fact that the USA is attempting to establish a world-wide empire and that it's leaders hate Russia with a passion and that western policies always aim at the eventual dismemberment and demise of Russia; they just don't believe that the Soviet way to oppose the USA was the correct one.

If there is one thing which the Russian nation has learned from the Mongol invasions is that retreating can be an extremely powerful defensive tactic and the Russians have become masters at this very refined and sophisticated art. Though this has never been mentioned officially, there is a good deal of evidence that the Kremlin has decided that letting the USA over-extend itself in all sorts of military adventures is the best way to weaken and eventually bring down the US empire.

You could say that the Russians are playing chess, while the Americans are playing monopoly.

This is, of course, a delicate, if not dangerous, balancing act. One could reasonably argue that the initial appearance of US 'success' in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in the war in Georgia, or that the appearance of 'success' in Libya might now result in an attack on Syria. In fact, the one common feature of US and Israel strategic thinking is the systematic conflation of short term/tactical successes with long term/strategic gains. So when the US/Israeli Empire enjoys a short term/tactical victory, it tends to interpret that as a meaningful sign of power which results into a typical "who is next?" kind if mindset.

Russia therefore has to carefully balance letting the US/Israeli Empire over-extend itself against letting the resulting short term imperial hubris threaten important or even vital Russian national interests (see #3 above).

The key question is this: are Syria or Iran vital, or even important, to Russian national interests?

I would argue that no, at least not in actuality. Of the two, Iran has the greatest potential, of course, but neither of the two countries has so far concluded that the other is a vital partner. This might be changing though. I hear that there are discussions at the SCO to try to find a way to make Iran a full member. Iran, however, is very different from Syria.

Iran is, IMHO, the most democratic state in the region, with a government and regime which is viable and which most people in the country support (I know, the Western propaganda says otherwise, but I don't see any reason to trust it). Iran is also a well-integrated regional power. Compare that with Syria, whose government and regime seem to be in quasi total disarray and who lacks any kind of regional clout (Turkey is so much more powerful and credible than Syria!).

I believe that a "Syrian Mubarak" would not be desirable from the Russian point of view, but I don't believe that it would be a disaster. In fact, I don't even believe that from the Iranian point of view a collapse of the Assad regime would be a disaster either. A problem - yes, a concern - for sure, but would that such a collapse of the Syrian regime be a disaster for Iran, would it fundamentally alter Iran's strategic posture? I don't think so.

Now, an "Iranian Mubarak" would be very bad news for Russia, I agree. Not a strategic disaster, of course, but a major problem.

Basically, Syria is rather small, if strategically located. Iran is bigger than Syria by a full order of magnitude, and Russia is bigger than Iran by another full order of magnitude (again, by "bigger" I don't mean size, I mean "comprehensive power"). Neither Syria nor Iran are in the Russian "near abroad" and neither of them as had much influence on it (although a US controlled Iran might become a major threat in Central Asia and in the Caucasus). I basically do not see any domino effect of Syria->Iran->Russia happening here.

I believe that Iran can deal with a collapse of the Syrian regime, rather easily in fact. Even Hezbollah can overcome such a development. Now, I have always seen Syria as a most unreliable ally of Iran and Hezbollah. In fact, Assad was in many ways very similar to Mubarak. Do I need to remind you of the most cozy relationship the Assad regime had with the CIA and the most infamous White House Murder INC, in the Levant since January 24th 2002.....? Finally, should the Assad regime collapse, how big is the threat of a truly pro-US & pro-Israeli regime coming to power?

The "stress" to this US/NATO and Russia-relationship is the Russian Parliamentary and Presidential elections. With Putin and Medvedev facing a tough re-election campaign, I now expect them to play the NATO 'boogeyman" scenario more often in order to stir up their base who are not sympathetic to the West....

a) has the Russian Mafia ever needed to have Russian sovereignty over any country or territory to infiltrate, influence or even control it? Just look at the Russian Mafia in Latvia, Cyprus, Miami or even Switzerland and the answer is obvious.

b) what would Russia, as a nation, gain from re-incorporating the Ukraine under its sovereignty? The Ukraine is economically wrecked, politically in turmoil, devoid of natural resources, full of angry unemployed and under-employed people. Russia is booming economically. The only thing which Russia needs form the Ukraine is Crimea and that it already has for all practical purposes. Russia does not even need to Ukies for gaz transit :-)

Central Europeans in general, and Ukrainians in particular, have a strong tendency to believe that somehow they and their countries have some kind of magical attraction on Russians, like some mysterious gravitational pull. This is not so. Most Russians look down on central Europeans as voluntary vassals of NATO without much of their own pride. Furthermore, Russians remember the Ukrainian slogan that "тому бідні, що не вільні" ("we are poor because we are not free"). Now they smile and reply "now that our are вільні don't come crying to us, the evil Moskals, that you are also бідні".

Frankly, Russians even look at Belarus with a great degree of distrust. Yes, sure, the two nations are really one, but that is also the case with central and East Ukraine (only the Western Ukrainians, the "Западенцы" are really different from the Russians). This is hardly a reason to reunite. The key factors in such decisions are ECONOMIC and the Kremlin is already getting a lot of flack for his economic assistance of Lukashenko.

I basically agree with these sentiments. Let Europe rot in its own mediocrity. The future of Russia is in Central Asia and the Far East. Sure, Russia will sell petrochemicals to Europe and try to have good political and cultural relations, but nobody that I know of wants to "live under the same roof" again. But not a single Russian kopeck should ever be spent again or, even more so, not a single drop of Russian blood should ever be shed in assisting the "near abroad" again. They are abroad? Good. Let them stay there. And if they need something - let them pay for it.
Warfare has undergone a dramatic change. These are not the times of Napoleon or Hitler. Russia does not need the Ukraine or Eastern Europe as a 'buffer zone' or to gain 'strategic depth'. The fact is that Europe is largely irrelevant militarily and that the only two real opponents here (the USA and Russia) can destroy each-other and most of their armed forces throughout their strategic depth. Guderian, Rommel, Zhukov, Rokossovsky and the rest of them can turn over in their graves and shed rivers of tears over this, but if even the Cold War is long gone, so much more is WWII. If attacked from Western Europe, Russian submarines can strike at ever single target in Europe even from their piers in the far East. Besides, European ground forces are way too small to even consider invading Russia, even unopposed!.
Since there is exactly zero chance of a land invasion of Russia from Europe, and since US aircraft and missiles also can strike anywhere in Russia even from their bases in the US Midwest, the entire rationale for controlling Central Europe is gone once and for all.

I don't think anybody is going to miss it :-)

Pakistan is going to give the Zioconned USA assassins, a “Persian” response.....

Pakistan is going to give the Zioconned USA assassins, a “Persian” response.....

The US would know from the Iranian experience that it has no answer for the sort of strategic defiance that an unfriendly nation resolute in its will to resist can put up against an ‘enemy’ it genuinely considers ‘satanic’.....

To get around Pak blockade, US eyes other supply routes....LOL

“the average cost of hauling a 20-foot container on NDN truck and rail routes between April and September was $12,367. The cost was about $6,700 per container on the Pakistan route.”...

The closing of Pakistani transit for NATO will cause the price of every container shipped to double, over the NDN. In the face of our collapsing economy, has the Pentagon shot itself in the foot, by allowing itself the satisfaction of a two-hour air assault upon a Pakistani check post, even a C-130 gunship was called in at one point? This was a helluva costly way to make a point....

The air strike by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) at the Pakistani military post at Salala in the Mohmand Agency on the Afghan-Pakistan border Friday night is destined to become a milestone in the chronicle of the Afghan war.

Within hours of the incident, Pakistan’s relations with the US began nose-diving and it continues to plunge. NATO breached the ”red line”.

What is absolutely stunning about the statement issued by Pakistan’s Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DDC), which met Saturday at Islamabad under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Yousuf Gilani is that it did not bother to call for an inquiry by the US or NATO into the air strike that resulted in the death of 28 Pakistani soldiers.

Exactly what happened in the fateful night of Friday – whether the NATO blundered into a mindless retaliatory (or pre-emptive) act or ventured into a calculated act of high provocation – will remain a mystery. Maybe it is no more important to know, since blood has been drawn and innocence lost, which now becomes the central point.

At any rate, the DDC simply proceeded on the basis that this was a calculated air strike – and by no means an accidental occurrence. Again, the DDC statement implies that in the Pakistan military’s estimation, the NATO attack emanated from a US decision. Pakistan lodged a strong protest at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels but that was more for purpose of ‘record’, while the “operative” part is directed at Washington.

The GHQ in Rawalpindi would have made the assessment within hours of the Salala incident that the US is directly culpable. The GHQ obviously advised the DDC accordingly and recommended the range of measures Pakistan should take by way of what Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani publicly called an “effective response.”

The DDC took the following decisions: a) to close NATO’s transit routes through Pakistani territory with immediate effect; b) to ask the US to vacate Shamsi airbase within 15 days; c) to “revisit and undertake a complete review” of all “programs, activities and cooperative arrangements” with US, NATO and the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), including in “diplomatic, political and intelligence” areas; d) to announce shortly a whole range of further measures apropos Pakistan’s future cooperation with US, NATO and ISAF.

No more doublespeak
The response stops short of declaring the termination of Pakistan’s participation in the US-led war in Afghanistan (which, incidentally, is the demand by Pakistani politician Imran Khan who is considered to be close to the Pakistani military circles). In essence, however, Pakistan is within inches of doing that.

The closure of the US-NATO transit routes through Pakistan territory may not immediately affect the coalition forces in Afghanistan, as it has built up reserve stocks that could last several weeks. But the depletion of the reserves would cause anxiety if the Pakistani embargo is prolonged, which cannot be ruled out.

Therefore, the Pakistani move is going to affect the NATO operations in Afghanistan, since around half the supplies for US-NATO troops still go via Pakistan. An alternative for the US and NATO will be to rely more on the transit routes of the Northern Distribution Network [NDN]. But the US and NATO’s dependence on the NDN always carried a political price tag – Russia’s cooperation.

Moscow is agitated about the US regional policies. The NATO intervention in Libya caused friction, which deepened the Russian angst over the US’s perceived lack of seriousness to regard it as equal partner and its cherry-picking or “selective partnership”.

Then, there are other specific issues that agitate Moscow: US’s push for “regime change” in Syria, the US and NATO appearance in the Black Sea region, continued deployment of US missile defense system, and the push for US military bases in Afghanistan. In addition, Moscow has already begun circling wagons over the US “New Silk Road” initiative and its thrust into Central Asia.

The future of the US-Russia reset remains uncertain. Washington barely disguises its visceral dislike of the prospect of Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin following the presidential election in March next year. Short of bravado, the US and NATO should not brag that they have the NDN option up their sleeve in lieu of the Pakistani transit routes. The Pakistani military knows this, too.

Equally, the closure of the Shamsi airbase can hurt the US drone operations. Pakistan has so far turned a blind eye to the drone attacks, even conniving with them. Shamsi, despite the US’s insistence that drone operations were conducted from bases in Afghanistan, surely had a significant role in terms of intelligence back-up and logistical support.

By demanding that the US vacate Shamsi, Pakistan is possibly shifting its stance on the drone attacks; its doublespeak may be ending. Pakistan is ”strengthening” its air defense on the Afghan-Pakistan border. Future US drone operations may have to be conducted factoring in the possibility that Pakistan might regard them as violations of its air space. The US is on slippery ground under international law and the United Nations Charter.

A Persian response
The big issue is how Pakistan proposes to continue with its cooperation with the US-NATO operations. Public opinion is leaning heavily toward dissociating with the US-led war. The government’s announcement on the course of relations with the US/NATO/ISAF can be expected as early as next week. The future of the war hangs by a thread.

Unlike during previous phases of US-Pakistan tensions Washington lacks a “Pakistan hand” to constructively engage Islamabad. The late Richard Holbrooke, former special AfPak envoy, has become distant memory and special representative Marc Grossman has not been able to step into his shoes.

Admiral Mike Mullen has retired as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is now a ‘burnt-out case’ embroiled in controversies with the Pakistani military. Central Intelligence Agency director David Petraeus isn’t terribly popular in Islamabad after his stint leading the US Central Command, while his predecessor as spy chief and now Defense Secretary Leon Panetta always remained a distant figure.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is a charming politician, but certainly not cut out for the role of networking with the Pakistani generals at the operational level. She could perhaps offer a healing touch once the bleeding wound is cleansed of dirt, stitched up and bandaged. And US President Barack Obama, of course, never cared to establish personal chemistry with a Pakistani leader, as he would with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Now, who could do that in Washington? The horrible truth is – no one. It is a shocking state of affairs for a superpower with over 100,000 troops deployed out there in the tangled mountains in Pakistan’s vicinity. There has been a colossal breakdown of diplomacy at the political, military and intelligence level.

Washington trusted former Pakistani ambassador Hussein Haqqani almost as its own special envoy to Islamabad, but he has been summarily replaced under strange circumstances – probably, for the very same reason. At the end of the day, an intriguing question keeps popping up: Can it be that Pakistan is simply not interested anymore in dialoguing with the Obama administration?

The heart of the matter is that the Pakistani citadel has pulled back the bridges leading to it from across the surrounding crocodile-infested moat. This hunkering down is going to be Obama’s key problem. Pakistan is boycotting the Bonn Conference II on December 2. This hunkering down should worry the US more than any Pakistani military response to the NATO strike.

The US would know from the Iranian experience that it has no answer for the sort of strategic defiance that an unfriendly nation resolute in its will to resist can put up against an ‘enemy’ it genuinely considers ‘satanic’.

The Pakistani military leadership is traditionally cautious and it is not going to give a military response to the US’s provocation. (Indeed, the Taliban are always there to keep bleeding the US and NATO troops.)

Washington may have seriously erred if the intention Friday night was to draw out the Pakistani military into a retaliatory mode and then to hit it with a sledgehammer and make it crawl on its knees pleading mercy. Things aren’t going to work that way. Pakistan is going to give a “Persian” response.

The regional situation works in Pakistan’s favor. The recent Istanbul conference (November 2) showed up Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran sharing a platform of opposition to the US bases in Afghanistan in the post-2014 period.

The Obama administration’s grandiose scheme to transform the 89-year period ahead as ‘America’s Pacific Century’ makes Pakistan a hugely important partner for China. At the very minimum, Russia has stakes in encouraging Pakistan’s strategic autonomy. So does Iran.

None of these major regional powers wants the deployment of the US missile defense system in the Hindu Kush and Pakistan is bent on exorcising the region of the military presence of the US and its allies. That is also the real meaning of Pakistan’s induction as a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, which is on the cards.

Ambassador M K Bhadrakumar

Pakistan’s army chief, General Ashfaq Kayani, has told his troops that any aggression should be responded to ‘with full force, regardless of the cost and consequences’.

[In the following report, taken from the Telegraph, the lead-in to the report makes a false claim, which is not substantiated anywhere in it. The British press often seems to take the position of trouble-maker, or pot-stirrer in Pakistan/US disagreements. This position has even been exposed in British military efforts in Afghanistan (SEE: What exactly were Mervyn Patterson and Michael Semple doing in Helmand? ). The Afghan story was about a covert effort to create a fake "Taliban," to turn into a counter-force and spy organ, to send into S. Waziristan.

Have connections within the originally British Pakistani officer corps given London the ability to manipulate events on the ground? This report, claiming both Pakistani and US confirmation (before the US completes its inquiry), is intended to escalate the situation. Why would the British Crown wish to see a conflict begin between the two "allies"? In order to finish my speculation on British trouble-making in Pakistan, I remind readers of the following incident involving known British institutional meddling--(SEE: Gen. Kayani's trip to speak before the British International Institute for Strategic Studies). The following excerpts from separate sources speak volumes about the IISS, and what it is all about. The question must be asked--

"Is Gen. Kayani a member of IISS?"]

almost shadow UN agency, seeking to affect global diplomatic and military policy. Its current membership boasts 3,000 elite individuals garnered from the worlds of government, business and academia in over 100 countries. The IISS additionally has 200 corporate and business members representing industries such as oil, investment banking, telecommunications, media outlets, aerospace, defense, energy, environment and numerous others, as well as 35 government ministries, 55 different research facilities and military personnel.

The IISS is the vehicle for MI6-Tavistock black propaganda, and wet jobs (an intelligence over name denoting an operation where bloodshed is required), adverse nuclear incidents and terrorism, which goes to the world’s press for dissemination, as well as to governments and military establishments.

Membership in the IISS includes representatives of 87 major wire services and press associations, as well as 138 senior editors and columnists….

The IISS is nothing more than a higher echelon opinion maker, as defined by Lippmann and Bernays. In the writing of books, and in newspapers, IISS was formed to be a coordinating centre for not only creating opinions, but to get those opinions and scenarios out much faster and to a far greater audience than could be reached by a book for example…. “