Thursday, May 27, 2010

KSA Intelligence caught red handed supporting Al-CIAda in Iraq

KSA Intelligence caught red handed supporting Al-CIAda in Iraq with the full acquiescence of CIA goons....

The Strategic Ally Myth...

The Strategic Ally Myth... re Israhell

by Philip Giraldi, May 27, 2010

It is difficult to understand why anyone would take Mort Zuckerman seriously. He is a New York based but Canadian born Israel firster who made a fortune in real estate before buying The New York Daily News and the US News and World Report. He now fancies himself as a leading journalist and political commentator. Zuckerman is frequently spotted on the television talking head circuit where he dispenses analysis of international events that could have been crafted in Tel Aviv or Herzliya, where the Israeli intelligence service Mossad has its headquarters.

Zuckerman’s latest contribution to international harmony is a lengthy piece in the US News & World Report entitled “Israel Is a Key Ally and Deserves US Support.” It is a propaganda piece that promotes one of the most persistent fictions put out by the mainstream media, that the relationship with Israel somehow benefits the United States. To give the devil his due, it is not often that an article in a national publication includes an out-and-out lie in its first few words, but Zuckerman succeeds in doing just that. As he is a smart man who went to Harvard Law School before becoming a propagandist for Israel, he must know that words have meanings. But the significance of the word “ally” must have somehow eluded his grasp. Israel is not now and never has been an ally of the United States. As Zuckerman is a lawyer he should know that to be an ally requires an agreement in writing that spells out the conditions and reciprocity of the relationship. Israel has never been an ally of any country because it would force it to restrain its aggressive behavior, requiring consultation with its ally before attacking other nations. It is also unable to define its own borders, which have been expanding ever since it was founded in 1948. Without defined borders it is impossible to enter into an alliance because most alliances are established so that one country will come to the aid of another if it is attacked, which normally means having its territorial integrity violated. Since Israel intends to continue expanding its borders it cannot commit to an alliance with anyone and has, in fact, rebuffed several bids by Washington to enter into some kind of formal arrangement.

The article’s spin begins almost immediately thereafter in paragraph one, where the reader is informed that “the Israelis have agreed to [a Palestinian state] in principle.” Zuckerman conveniently overlooks that Tel Aviv has in fact obstructed every move toward creation of a Palestinian state because that would stop its continued colonization of the West Bank and Jerusalem. He then proceeds to lay it on really thick in the next two paragraphs, where one learns that the Palestinians need to “do what the Israelis have done for decades, which is to declare…that both sides have genuine claims to this land,” that the “Palestinian leadership has all along made an honorable peace impossible,” and that the Palestinians are not prepared to live with an Israeli state along their borders. The Palestinians also “beat the drums of hate” and only the Israelis guarantee freedom of religion in Jerusalem. Without wishing to be too contentious, it is safe to say that everything Zuckerman writes blaming the Palestinians can easily be disputed and should be challenged.

Zuckerman then launches into one of his major themes, that poor little Israel, always willing to take risks and do what is right in the cause of peace, has been betrayed by Washington. Zuckerman opines that Tel Aviv is right to hold on to the West Bank because if it gives it up Israel will not be “secure and defensible” against Arab terrorism. He also provides a hagiography of Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, who apparently is “serious about making peace” and has done lots of good things for the Palestinians that he is not given credit for (except by Zuckerman). Bibi is also reported to be “disturbingly” under-appreciated by the White House.

According to Zuckerman, Netanyahu and Israel are “not to blame for trouble in the Middle East,” and one also learns that “The Islamists are not enemies of America because of Israel. They are fighting America because they see the whole West…as antithetical to their own beliefs.” Yes, this is the new version of they hate us because of our freedom bumper sticker. Israeli bestiality toward the Arab population that it dominates, seen on television nightly all over the world except in the US, has nothing to do with it.

After making sure that everyone knows who is completely to blame for the Middle East imbroglio, Zuckerman arrives at the argument that he knows will crush all opposition. “Israel has been an ally that has paid dividends exceeding its cost.” Zuckerman asserts that seventy per cent of Washington’s military aid, now exceeding $3 billion per year, is used to buy equipment made in the USA, providing thousands of jobs and making sure that Lockheed and other struggling defense contractors don’t go bust. And the Israelis not only provide “access to the Red Sea,” they also permit US forces to stockpile equipment in Israel for contingencies. Furthermore, Israel has been “working jointly” and “cooperating” with the US to protect America’s troops all over the Middle East. And then there is all that good intelligence that Tel Aviv hands over to Washington on the many bad guys in the Near East region.

Israeli tunnel vision means that most of the actual intelligence that Tel Aviv collects is on organizations that resent being occupied or bombed by Israel, not groups that actually threaten the US, a point ignored by Zuckerman. And to those who argue that using billions of American taxpayers dollars to buy US military equipment for Israel is not necessarily money well spent in the middle of a financial crisis or that Washington’s unlimited support for Tel Aviv is precisely the reason why the United States is in trouble around the world, Zuckerman delivers a final, devastating retort. Israel has an unrivaled location on the Mediterranean. Per Zuckerman “One analyst has described Israel as a ’strategic aircraft carrier’…”

Well, Mort Zuckerman is certainly entitled to his own opinion and I suppose he can use the magazine he owns to spread Israeli hasbara, but the notion that Israel is some kind of strategic asset for the United States is nonsense, a complete fabrication. Most recently, Chas Freeman has pointed out that Israel is useless for the projection of American power. The US has numerous bases in Arab countries but is not allowed to use any military base in Israel. Washington’s own carrier groups and other forces in place all over the Middle East, including the Red Sea, have capabilities that far exceed those of the Israel Defense Forces. Israel has never been a strategic asset or any asset at all, always a liability. Even the stockpiles of US equipment in Israel are a typical bit of bonus support for Tel Aviv from Congress, placed there for the Israelis to use “in emergencies” while making it appear that they are for American forces. The supplies are, in fact, regularly looted by the Israelis, leaving largely unusable or picked over equipment for US forces if it should ever be needed.

Make no mistake, Tel Aviv is always carefully calculating how it can use Washington to further its own objectives with little regard for possible American interests. In 1967 the Israelis attacked the USS Liberty in international waters with the intention of sinking the ship and killing all the crew. During the first Gulf War Israel had to be defended by the United States. In the Cold War Israel spied aggressively on the US while cutting deals with both the Soviets and Chinese. The intelligence provided by Israel that Zuckerman praises is generally fabricated and completely self serving, intended to shape a narrative about the Middle East that makes the Israelis look good and virtually everyone else look bad – ask any intelligence officer who has seen the stuff. Israel as a key ally and security asset? A “strategic aircraft carrier”? Completely ridiculous....

An argument can and could be made and I do.... that the notion that an educated electorate in USA or anywhere else for that matter... would make the wisest decisions is now completely undone by the fact that seldom is truth, candor, or other than spin conveyed to the American people by its MSM or politicians.Why? Money has captured the so-called....truth!

The Puzzle over Egypt’s Future

Patrick Seale

All the indications suggest that Egypt is heading for a fateful decision. President Husni Mubarak, 82, has ruled by, for, and with CIA for close to three decades, ever since his predecessor Anwar al-Sadat was assassinated by a Muslim extremist in 1981. But his health is uncertain. He is recovering from recent surgery in Germany to remove his gall-bladder.

It strains credibility that he will stand for a sixth term at the presidential elections of September 2011. As a result, Egypt is in the grip of a national obsession with the problem of succession. Who will lead Egypt in the next phase of its history?

Earlier this month Mubarak was asked by a journalist whom he would like to succeed him. His cryptic answer -- which he repeated three times -- failed to quell the fever of speculation: “I prefer whomever God prefers.”

Nevertheless, the regime is showing indisputable signs of exhaustion. The state of emergency, in place for the whole of Mubarak’s presidency -- with its accompaniment of police violence, arbitrary arrest and detention without trial -- has just been extended for a further two years, adding to the profound discontent of all those who yearn for a curb on corruption, greater fairness in the distribution of Egypt’s resources, and some semblance of democratic rule.

Egypt’s problems are economic and social as much as, if not more than, political. It is struggling to cope with the vast, impoverished mass of its population. When Napoleon invaded in 1798, there were just three million Egyptians. This number had leaped to 19m when Nasser and his ‘Free Officers’ seized power in 1952; to 36m in 1976; 50m in 1986; and over 80m today, of which 99% live along the Nile on just 3.5% of the country’s total land area. For many Egyptians, the pressure to provide even minimally for their family has become intolerable.

Egypt’s working class is angry. Something like a tidal wave demanding change seems to be gaining momentum. Some observers would even go so far as to predict that Egypt is moving towards a situation of popular revolt -- not unlike the mass protests in Iran which followed the rigged re-election of President Mahmud Ahmadinejad last June.

But there are significant differences between the two countries. In Iran, the so-called Green protest movement was essentially powered by educated young people and by the professional middle classes, rebelling against the heavy hand of the mullahs and the repressive violence of the Revolutionary Guards. In Egypt, the revolutionary tide seems to be coming from the very bottom of the social pyramid.

Cairo and Tehran are the only capital cities in the Middle East where a protest movement able to bring millions onto the street could overwhelm the regime.

Mubarak’s supporters bank on the argument that he is the only barrier to revolutionary chaos. Bu the evidence suggests that the President’s alliance with the working class, which kept a lid on protest for many years, is now near to breaking point. In the last couple of years, the country has been rocked by waves of labour unrest. Cairo, a groaning, teeming city of 18 million people, has witnessed unprecedented worker agitation for a living wage.

The call today, first raised by textile workers in 2008, is for a minimum wage of 1,200 Egyptian pounds a month -- about $215. Very few workers earn even half this sum, and therefore face immense difficulty in feeding, clothing or housing their families.

According to the World Bank, 44 per cent of Egyptians are ‘extremely poor’, that is unable to meet minimal food needs; ‘poor’, unable to meet basic food needs; or ‘near-poor’, able to meet only some basic food needs. This situation is fuelling an increasingly overt rebellion against the neo-liberal, privatisation policies of Prime Minister Ahmad Nazif, which has sharpened social differences between the narrow mega-rich elite and the poverty-stricken masses.

If Mubarak decides not to stand again, who might succeed him? Barring a surprise candidate who has yet to emerge, they are four in number: the President’s son, Gamal Mubarak, 47, general secretary of the policy committee of the ruling National Democratic Party; Lt.Gen Omar Sulieman, 72, head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Services; Amr Moussa, 74, Secretary General of the Arab League; and Dr Muhammad ElBaradei, 68, former director of the International Atomic Energy Agency and Nobel Prize winner.

ElBaradei is a regime outsider whose return to Egypt, advocacy of democracy and possible candidature for the presidency have aroused a great deal of excitement among intellectuals. Rather like Barrack Obama during his election campaign in the U.S., ElBaradei has made use of social networking sites on the internet. His National Front for Change is said to have attracted 200,000 names.

Each of these candidates has weak points, and none has truly the makings of a national hero. Gamal Mubarak, a top policy-maker and powerful figure in Egyptian financial circles, is said to lack charisma, the common touch and, most important of all, army backing. Amr Moussa, once a highly popular foreign minister of Egypt, was sidelined by Mubarak a decade ago and has since had the thankless task of directing the ineffective Arab League. His attraction has inevitably suffered.

ElBaradei will not be able to stand unless President Mubarak amends the Constitution to allow a non-party independent candidate to compete -- which he shows no sign of doing. The army is the great unknown. It has been the real power in Egypt since the 1952 revolution. Many people believe the ultimate choice of Mubarak’s successor will be in its hands. General Sulieman could be a provisional president until the army finds a suitable civilian for the post.

An urgent task for any new leader would be to seek to reverse the sharp decline in Egypt’s regional influence -- which started with its separate peace with Israel of 1979, and its dependence on American subsidies. Mubarak has adopted an Egypt First policy, concentrating on developing tourism, on the security of Sinai, on avoiding any confrontation with Israel, while distancing his country from troublesome Arab concerns. Long gone are the days when Egypt could claim to be the leader of the Arab world.

Nothing could better illustrate Mubarak’s self-protective posture than his support for Israel’s cruel siege of Gaza which has earned Egypt the widespread opprobrium of the Arab public.

A new leadership in Cairo will need to reassert itself to meet new challenges. Regional leadership has passed to non-Arab powers, Iran and Turkey; Israel, ruled by far-right ideologues, is in a belligerent mood, which could plunge the region into war; and trouble is brewing on the Nile, where upstream states are demanding a bigger share of the precious water, Egypt’s lifeblood.

Iran: Obama's other oil spill

Iran: Obama's other oil spill
By Pepe Escobar

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was scheduled to meet Brazilian President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva this Thursday in Brasilia. As much as the Barack Obama administration has been moving mountains to undermine the Iranian nuclear fuel swap deal mediated by Brazil and Turkey, both leaders (and US allies) are far from dropping the ball.

They may have mountain ranges to climb, but their point has resonated across much of the world; were it not for the mediation of two emerging powers and honest brokers, Iran would have never accepted what was in fact a slightly modified United States proposal made in October 2009.

In terms of the agreement, Iran commits to ship the bulk of its low-enriched uranium (LEU) to Turkey for safekeeping until an
equivalent mass of high-enriched uranium is delivered to Iran, plus fuel rods to be used in a medical reactor, ostensibly from Russia and France.

With its eye on full spectrum dominance, control of Eurasia and regime change in Iran, the Obama administration had lost control of the Iranian nuclear dossier, and Brazil and Turkey filled the void by starting down the diplomatic track. The real "international community" has interpreted the sequel for what it is - Washington undermining the emergence of independent, non-US-centric global diplomacy, pre-emptively striking both Brazil and Turkey, these annoying "threats" to the major power platinum club.

Who wants confrontation?
Obama sent a letter to Lula in late April saying he would keep pressing for more United Nations Security Council sanctions unless Iran abandoned all its uranium enrichment (to which it has a right according to the nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT); the US has strenuously attempted to amend the NPT ex post facto). The letter - not leaked in full - confirms the Brazilian government version that the deal struck in Tehran followed Washington's requests.

This week, Lula sent another letter to Obama, stressing that Iran now accepted "in writing" what was once rejected, and that new Security Council sanctions would only undermine the possibility of an overall negotiated settlement. Lula suggests all players should bide their time before any vote on sanctions. Similar letters were sent to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

As much as Lula and Erdogan know that the US has the power to bomb their diplomatic efforts to ashes, they simply cannot back down. Danger lies ahead from Iran as well. After Iran officially notified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) this week of the nuclear fuel swap deal, Ali Larijani, the spokesman for the Iranian parliament, was crystal clear. Iran won't ratify the deal unless approved by all 15 members of the Security Council, and no further sanctions are enforced.

Last week, Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim said, "We put the ball in the goal area, but the goal will have to be scored by the permanent members of the council and the representatives of the IAEA."

The problem is Washington does not want to play ball. Nor does US corporate media. Confrontational headlines swirl - from "Turkey's Iran standoff role irks allies" (Associated Press) to "West plays down Iran gesture, sticks to sanctions drive" (Reuters). Not to mention a New York Times report criminalizing Lula for being a diplomat ("Iran Deal Seen as Spot on Brazilian Leader's Legacy").

The powerful Washington war lobby, with all its myriad ramifications, does not want any agreement with Tehran. Washed out neo-conservatives, allied with the powerful Israel Lobby, it wants to go back to George W Bush's time, with Iran as a card-carrying "axis of evil" member bound to be shocked and awed. Pentagon types overwhelmingly want at least hardcore sanctions. In the minority are the realists and the left wing of the Democratic Party - in favor of negotiations.

Meanwhile, Obama is drowned in his own administration's oil spill - as Secretary of State Hillary "dominatrix" Clinton (see Iran, Sun Tzu and the dominatrix) Asia Times Online, May 22, 2010) and Pentagon supremo Robert Gates have been unleashed to keep hammering the (false) tune of Iran as a major security challenge to the US.

Under the heat of the 24-hour news cycle, few people remember how Obama, in early 2009, wanted to engage in direct negotiations with Iran. The logic now is an all-out charge for sanctions as a way to appease the Benjamin Netanyahu government in Israel, (maybe) prevent it from conducting an unilateral bombing of Iranian nuclear facilities, and as a carrot for negotiations over Palestine. In a nutshell, this is what passes for the Obama administration policy regarding Iran.

The Russian roulette
Another source of widespread puzzlement is what Russia is actually up to with its support of the current draft sanctions resolution at the Security Council. Russian analyst Konstantin Makiyenko said last week that another round of sanctions would torpedo Iran-Russia military-technical cooperation, including the delivery to Iran of S-300 surface-to-air missiles. "The first contract for the delivery of Tor M-1 air-defense missile systems was signed in 2006, and for deliveries of the S-300, in 2007, but the contract has still not been executed. Russia is citing technical problems."

Without the S-300s it would be much harder for Iran to counteract a possible Israeli strike. Western diplomats insist Moscow has made private guarantees that it won't deliver the S-300s to Iran. What's likely is that it is keeping the delivery on hold as a pawn in a larger negotiation with both the US and Iran. Especially as the Obama administration is pulling out no stops to seduce the Russians. Last week, the US suspended a trade ban on four Russian weapons manufacturers - as Moscow had requested. On the other hand, Iran's first nuclear power station, the Russian-built plant at Bushehr, will finally have its first reactor online in August - Washington's alarm notwithstanding.

Arguably China and Russia - both avid proponents of a multipolar world - will not allow the Obama administration's hardcore tactics to win at the Security Council over the Brazil-Turkey diplomatic way. This compounds with the Obama administration antagonizing both Brazil and Turkey. Washington elites simply cannot stomach the fact that now Brazil is trying to position itself to compete with America as an honest broker in the Middle East. Arabs, Persians, Palestinians can smell an honest broker when they see one.

The big picture is even juicier. It involves the Amazon rainforest and the enormous oil reserves recently found in southeast Brazil - which, in the view of the Brazilian military - are magnets for US imperial designs. Brazil is investing heavily in the modernization of its industrial-military complex outside of Washington's sphere - buying from France and Russia, technology transfer included.

The Brazilian military is getting deeper into the Amazon as a way to counteract the new US military bases in Colombia. It's not far-fetched to imagine a long-term scenario of inevitable collision course between the US and Brazil centered on the immense natural wealth of the Amazon.

Meanwhile, the fact - noted by the developing world - is that Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama stabbed both Brazil's Lula and Turkey's Erdogan in the back by torpedoing the deal with Tehran and proclaiming a draft resolution for a fourth UN round of sanctions against Iran, after having both allies take an immense risk and put their prestige on the line for him.

All this is in exchange for a diluted-to-death sanctions package that will do absolutely nothing toward changing the Iranian regime's behavior (not to mention "regime change" itself). Who wins? Washed up neo-cons, the Israel Lobby and full spectrum dominance fanatics. Iran is now Obama's political twin to the Gulf oil spill, and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a pathological liar and a farce.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

The advent of the colossal inside job of 9/11...

Let's see the "diplomatic" and military spread sheet of USA's last ten years, following the biggest murder in the history of mankind with the advent of the colossal inside job of 9/11...

It’s official. There is no longer any serious “cost” for defying the United States in the global arena. Unable to win wars or deliver diplomatic coups – and struggling to maintain our economic equilibrium – Washington has lost the fundamental tools for global leadership. And no place does this impotence manifest more vividly than the modern Middle East....

Our pointless and protracted wars in Afghanistan and Iraq will be the last time we will launch a major battle in the region. That massive show of flexing brawn over brain burst a global perception bubble about our intentions, capabilities and reason.

This credibility was compromised further with our irrational support of Israel’s attacks on Lebanon and Gaza in 2006 and 2008/9 respectively. And by the double standards employed over Israel’s violations of international law and its illegal nuclear weapons stash – particularly when viewed against the backdrop of our startling rhetoric over Iran’s nuclear program.

But nothing highlights our irrelevance more than two recent developments:

1) The US’s inability today to convene even perfunctory peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians, let alone push through a negotiated solution – and this after 19 years of a “US-sponsored” peace process.....

2) The US’s inability to achieve a resolution with Iran over its nuclear program. The only breakthrough in this long-winded effort to tame Iran’s nuclear aspirations was struck by Turkey and Brazil last week.

In short, the US seems incapable of resolving even a traffic dispute in the Middle East.... It is Qatar that stepped in to broker a deal between the Lebanese factions in 2008, and is knee deep in negotiating a solution to the conflict in Darfur.....

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fifth Columns in the Gulf...just like CIA/MOSSAD?

The discovery in Kuwait earlier this month of an alleged spy cell working for Iran's Revolutionary Guards has sent tremors throughout the Gulf, raising fears of Iranian meddling in the region's domestic affairs to near hysteria. At the GCC summit in Riyadh following the incident, Gulf leaders quietly deferred to Kuwait to handle the incident. But in the Gulf and pan-Arab press, the Arabian Peninsula is widely portrayed as under siege by a network of Iranian subversives and local proxies, stretching from north Yemen to Dubai to Manama. Comparisons to Iran's revolutionary adventurism in the 1980s abound.

By Frederic Wehrey and Dalia Dassa Kaye

While the full extent of Iran's current clandestine influence remains murky, the "proxy narrative" is instructive more for what it reveals about Gulf insecurities—both domestic and regional—than any truths about Iran's capabilities or intentions. And perhaps more importantly, it shows that the Iranian threat to the Gulf—while certainly potent in terms of naval warfare and ballistic missiles—is ultimately ideological, symbolic, asymmetric, and not easily contained with conventional arms.

During our recent travel in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, we found that many of these fears are closely related to the impending U.S. pull-out from Iraq and the belief that the resulting vacuum will empower Iran to maneuver more freely in Gulf affairs. Even with U.S. forces still in Iraq, regional leaders have grown increasingly alarmed over Iran's influence and reach since the removal of Saddam Hussein in 2003, which regional actors perceive as upsetting the regional balance of power. Even though Iraq's ability to balance Iranian influence during the 15 years before the 2003 invasion was always doubtful, the demise of a once powerful Sunni-led Arab state and its replacement with a Shi'a dominated government with longstanding ties to Iran has had a dramatic psychological impact. What is particularly troubling to Arab leaders is that Iran's influence has not only increased in its near abroad (Iraq), but also is believed to stretch across the broader region to the "shores of the Mediterranean," as one former Egyptian diplomat told us. In conversations with Gulf leaders we found a good deal of resignation that Iraq had effectively "fallen" to Iran, leading some to focus instead on Yemen, Lebanon, and Gaza as more hopeful arenas to roll back Iranian influence.

The reality of Iranian power is actually far more limited than such perceptions suggest. For one thing, Iran's weak conventional military and political and economic unrest at home limit its ability to project influence. Iran's 2009 presidential election and subsequent domestic turmoil may have also provided an internal distraction from Tehran's regional agenda and tarnished Iran's rejectionist luster among Arab publics. Moreover, Iran faces pushback even from its staunchest allies in Iraq and certainly from its other state and non-state allies, which are pursuing local agendas not entirely aligned with Iranian interests.

Nonetheless, perceptions often drive policy in the Middle East, and Arab fears of Iran are compounded by the perceived erosion of U.S. power—a perception little changed by U.S. military successes in Iraq after the surge and al-Anbar Awakening. Added to this is the growing disappointment with the Obama administration's peace process diplomacy, which is viewed as critical in undermining Iranian influence. In the UAE and Saudi Arabia, there was widespread consternation about the lack of viable levers against Iran; officials opposed military action as destabilizing to the broader region, yet also criticized sanctions as ineffective. At the same time, they view U.S. engagement efforts with Iran suspiciously, fearing the United States will cut a deal with Tehran at the expense of Arab partners—but then are at a loss when pressed to suggest alternatives. One member of the Saudi royalty opined that it was simply a matter of waiting for generational change in Iran. "After all," he said, "it took us 50 years to defeat the Soviet Union." The result is that Gulf regimes are engaged in a careful balancing act that avoids antagonizing Iran even while accepting a steady supply of U.S. military assistance.

Given their paralysis on external policy, the Gulf states have turned inward, seeing the hidden hand of Iran behind a broad spectrum of local dissent, political opposition, and insurgency. Whether justified or not, the climate of fear has had a toxic effect on domestic politics, particularly with regard to the integration of local Shi'a and political reform more broadly. It has provided grist to hard-line voices, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, who oppose concessions to Shi'a identity and who have used the specter of Iranian influence to cast doubt on the nationalist bona fides of local Shi'a. In Bahrain, for example, Salafi parliamentarians recently attacked the main Shi'a bloc for clandestinely supporting the Huthis of Yemen and being agents of Iran. In Saudi Arabia, this atmosphere has put the Shi'a community on the defensive; forcing Shi'a leaders once again "prove" their loyalty to kingdom and fend off accusations about their divided loyalties.

The domestic and regional political reverberations from the Iraq War are likely to affect perceptions of Iran's ascendancy for years to come. While U.S. policymakers are understandably focused on the nuclear challenge, the regional alarm over Iran is often much more closely linked to Iran's political and ideological agenda. Missile defense and arms sales may be a critical element of preparing for a future with a nuclear-armed Iran, but the most effective way to contain Iranian influence may be on the political, not military, battlefield. Movement on Arab-Israeli peace, preventing failed states and encouraging better governance may prove more successful in diminishing both Iranian penetration and the ability of Arab regimes to exploit the specter of Iran for domestic, parochial purposes.

Frederic M. Wehrey is a senior policy analyst and Dalia Dassa Kaye is a senior political scientist at the RAND Corporation. They are co-authors of The Iraq Effect: The Middle East After the Iraq War.

What Will the Bilderbergers Decide on Iran?

Watching Israel Delegitimize the United States of America....

U.S. Cyber Command: Waging War In World’s Fifth Battlespace

Sat, May 22, 2010

On June 3-6, 2010 the luxurious Dolce Resort in Sitges, Spain will host the next annual meeting of the Bilderberg Group- an unofficial, invitation-only conference of around 130 guests, representing the backstage global elites – most influential figures in international politics, banking, business, the military and media – the sponsors, patrons and manipulators of dozens of presidents and prime-ministers worldwide. The sessions will be held behind closed doors, as ever.

Any capable analyst can easily predict what will be the main topic of the discussion. The outcome of the economic crisis, so smartly played by the ‘dedicated’ circle within Wall Street, is hardly achieving its goals. Despite further concentration of capital under control of few private groups like JP Morgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, the economies and monetary systems of the key international players beyond their reach – China and Russia – survived the strike and even got more impetus. All scenarios of crisis escalation hit Western societies first (Greece is just a most sounding example), leaving only ‘after strikes’ for Russians and Chinese who were originally meant as ‘primary targets’. The cost of sustaining the appearance of well-being on Wall Street turns to be too high for the elites. The events of May 6, 2010 when Dow Jones started its free 9% fall on the morning, and only unprecedented intervention from bankers saved the market from the collapse and corrected the index a bit by the evening, were quite revealing.

So what will be logic of the Bilderbergers? They can hardly invent anything new. In 1907 the first ‘financial panic’ eventually led to the establishment of the Federal Reserve, a private banking institution that monopolized the issue of the US Dollar (the legal basement for this act is beyond our consideration for now). By 1914 the Federal Reserve had already been effective ‘in order to respond such challenges in future’. In future there would be much more crises and two World Wars. Nevertheless, the World War I allowed America to overcome the consequences of that first ‘crisis’. Next ‘Great Depression’ ended up with the beginning of World War II. So for Bilderbergers the solution is ready. They need a war somewhere far away, in Eurasia. At the area where Chinese, Russian, Indian, Muslim interests cross. A war of a new type. There will be no tank battles, artillery exchanges and frontal infantry clashes. They are planning to inflame a vast area from Damascus to Kashmir and from Kyrgyzstan to Sudan (US CENTCOM responsibility zone) with a permanent burning conflict. The nation states are destined to disappear, to break up into quarreling mono-ethnic territories engaged in never-ending civil wars. These groups will never comprehend what they are actually fighting for. There will be cries for ‘democracy’, for ‘Caliphate’, for ‘human rights’, ‘self-determination’ and many other slogans that by the time will definitely lose its significance. Unfortunately there will be no feasible real power able to stabilize the continent. In case of Russian or Chinese interference you will hear hysterical yells about ‘imperial ambitions’ and ‘crude violation of minorities’ rights’ and so on. Endless, painful and devastating chaos in Eurasia and beyond will be managed by global conglomerates of media and intelligence communities while heavily-guarded TNCs will be devouring resources from the groaning bowels of the Heartland and repaying to local field commanders in arms and munitions for future battles.

What Will  the Bilderbergers Decide on Iran?

They have already succeeded in Iraq. Afghanistan will be turned into the same turmoil once NATO leaves the area. Kyrgyzstan is plunging into chaos on our eyes. Few more ‘terrorist’ blasts anywhere with clear Pakistani trace – and Pakistan will be in flames as well. There is only one serious obstacle to the creation of continuous belt of instability throughout Eurasia – Iran. So destabilizing Iran is the priority mission for the elites.

They have repeatedly tested Tehran internally. The scenario is the same all the time. The protests inspired from abroad and by a fifth column inside the Iranian society, gather thousands of naive at the streets. Then a victim is needed. Young. Beautiful. Killed brutally. Under the camera’s light. Here is a classic operation of the warmongers.

Neda Agha-Soltan became a symbol of Iranian rebellion. She was killed in Tehran on June 20, 2009 during street protests after the election in Iran.

More than 820 000 people watched this sorrowful video on Youtube up to date. No one doubts that an insidious Iranian policeman shot an innocent creature with a cold blood. Here is an example of reporting: “One member of Basij was hidden on top of the roof at a civilian house, at 7:05 p.m he shooted the girl straight right in her heart and succeeded as well. The bullet had blasted within the chest of Neda Agha Soltan, so she cannot tolerate it for more than two minutes and died.

But let’s ask ourselves: where is the proof? Where is the policeman who presumably killed her? Here is an abstract from the Wikipedia article: “…crowd pulled a man from his motorcycle while shouting: “We got him, we got him,” disarmed him, obtained his identity card and identified him as a member of the Basij militia (government paramilitary). The militiaman, identified as Abbas Kargar Javid, was shouting, “I didn’t want to kill her.” The protesters let him go (my emphasis – AF), but they kept the alleged killer’s identity card and took many photographs of him…

I’m sure that both statements are almost correct. Nada was shot from a roof. A Basij officer was captured by the crowd. The problem is that there is no connection between these two facts. Logically it cannot be the same man. Because professional sniper never leaves the area right in front of the eyes of astonished bystanders. If he is stupid enough to do so, normally he is lynched immediately by the enraged crowd. And I’m very skeptical about that ‘want to’…

The truth is that the trick with ‘police killer’ is a common practice for any revolutionary movement. The same happened during the first Russian revolution in 1905, when provocateurs targeted front liners to accuse authorities of deliberate fusillade of ‘peaceful demonstrators’. The same scenario was played in Bucharest, Romania in 1989, when Ceausescu regime was falling. Later the ‘martyrs for democracy’ died in Moscow in August 1991, when the Soviet Union had been living its last months… ‘The aim justifies the means’ – was a famous saying by classic revolutionary, Leon Trotsky. Contemporary revolutionaries follow his advice. If there is a cameraman with a non-trembling arm ready and a pretty target nearby, everything is up for the show. Whatever you can imagine to overthrow an ‘odious regime’.

Now back to Iran. The regime of Ahmadinejad is stable. Whatever Iranians think about ‘democratic rights’ and ‘freedoms’ they do support their leadership. They know that although it is not ideal, the grim alternative to regime is broadcasted every day from Baghdad and Kabul. The only option left for Bilderbergers is to launch warfare. So the ‘Iranian nuclear issue’ is being boosted.

Every sensible expert understands that Iran, whether nuclear or not, does not represent a minor threat to international security at least comparing to muscle-flexing Israel (not a party of NPT), possessing 200-400 nuclear warheads, to say nothing about the US. The recent political activities of Russia, China, Brazil and Turkey to make Iran conclude a uranium swap deal and imposing new mild sanctions focus on the only idea: not to leave a minor pretext for striking Iran. Because such a strike is about to be ordered. The Trilateral Commission, a junior varsity for the Bilderberg group, discussed the matter on its last session in Dublin, Ireland, on May 7-10, 2010 and apparently outlined a corresponding plan for senior’s consideration.

The planned war against Iran has yet another dimension. The Iranian revenge strike is guaranteed. American, Israel territory (including ships and embassies) will be targeted. That will be a great cause to blow off the USD 12.9 trillion bubble of the current US national debt. It can be done through inflation or through excusable full or partial US currency default. The fate of Euro and other currencies is lamentable as well. They will fall first and deeper than the green buck. Because ‘peaceful havens’ will not be allowed when Uncle Sam feels bad.

There should be a pretext for the war. At the same time there should be a combination diminishing possible Russian harsh reaction on the hypothetic assault on Iran. The first ‘probe’ was in July – August last year when the Russian cargo vessel MV Arctic Sea was captured by hijackers off the coast of Sweden and headed to Cape Verde where it was released by the Russian Navy special unit on August 17, 2009. Further press leaks and political actions suggested that it was an operation by Israeli intelligence to fabricate the pretext needed. The vessel was to be loaded by ‘Russian’ nuclear components and ‘intercepted’ at the entrance to Iranian territorial waters. This scenario would make highly ridiculous Russian demands to stop bombings and strikes on Iranian military and civilian objects. The secret visit of Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu to Moscow on September 7, 2009 confirms this version. His personal presence was necessary to arrange the ticklish question with the Russian government. Most probably he promised to suspend Israel’s military preparations against Iran in exchange for non-revealing of the information about Israel’s involvement in the case.

At the beginning of June the Bilderbergers will decide whether it is time to start a new season of political show around Iranian nuclear weapons, US Dollar and global natural resources. We hope they will be shrewd enough not to plunge into this suicidal affair. The times have changed. The world government is now a far more distant perspective than it seemed in 1990s. Beautiful in its diversity multi-polar world, a family of genuinely sovereign nations, did not comply with its mission yet.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

End Game in Afghanistan

End Game in Afghanistan -

F. B. A.

The players involved in the conflict in Afghanistan have all concluded that neither side can achieve a military victory and that it will end in some other way, probably through a negotiated solution. Since each of them has different goals, this end game is likely to be both confusing and complicated. What is likely to make it even more so is that within each of the parties involved there are factions and interests that have differing ideas on the desired end state and, therefore, the appropriate tactic to achieve it.

With so many players and sub-players, and so many competing agendas, it would be foolhardy to try and predict how this end game will play out (although it is possible to foresee the near-term moves and their probable fate, as well as some of the major forks likely to appear in the road ahead). The best approach is to look at the parties involved, their goals, and how they are likely to try and achieve them.

The mainstream viewpoint in the US administration, espoused by Secretary Gates and the military hierarchy, accepts the inevitability of a negotiated settlement but wants one that preserves a friendly government in Kabul that continues to lean on the US for support. If Taliban participation is unavoidable, it must be as limited as possible. They believe the insurgency has not yet been weakened enough to accept this kind of a settlement, and thus further military action is necessary. Hence the forthcoming Kandahar operation, as well as renewed pressure on Pakistan to complete the military takeover of its tribal areas. President Obama is going along with this policy for now but does not appear committed to it; he could abandon it if the approach does not work as successfully as its proponents promise.

Another school of thought in the administration (possibly including VP Biden) could be termed the minimalist position: it would agree to any kind of a negotiated settlement between the Afghan parties that would enable the US to get out of there expeditiously. They would like Hamid Karzai to pursue this option as soon as possible and get the best deal he can. There is also still a maximalist position in the US, advanced by those groups who believe the US should dominate the world with its military power, and who were the original backers of the Iraq and Afghan wars. This group advocates the continuation of the war until the Taliban are defeated and al-Qaeda is eradicated from the region. Its supporters in the administration maintain a low profile since this position is unlikely to ever become administration policy.

NATO and other European countries in Afghanistan appear to have had their fill of this ‘imperial’ adventure. In spite of all the brave talk from some of their leaders, most of them are now closet subscribers to the minimalist position.

In Afghanistan, President Karzai has no illusions about his standing with the US. He knows the current friendliness (even deference) being shown to him is only because the US could not get rid of him in (and after) the recent elections, and now has no other choice. Aware of the danger of being dumped at the first available opportunity, he realizes that his future survival in a position of power depends on arriving at an early settlement with the insurgency that would bring them into the government and thus end the war. The first step is the grand jirga he proposes to convene shortly, which he expects will open the way to negotiations with the leaders of the insurgency and an eventual ‘Afghan’ settlement of the conflict.

The other influential faction in the Afghan government consists of the warlords and leaders of the old Northern Alliance. They are well content with their present status (which gives them a free hand in their own areas as well as plenty of opportunity to add to their wealth) but realize it cannot continue. They are also aware that the US (and ISAF) will be departing sooner rather than later. Thus, even though there is no love lost between them and the insurgents, they are likely to back Karzai’s efforts to arrive at a settlement with them based on a sharing of power, in the hope of preserving much of what they currently have.

A dark horse on the government side is the leadership of the budding Afghan army. These generals, appointed to their positions by the current power brokers, could become independent players if no political settlement has been arrived at by the time there was a significant reduction of foreign troops in the country, and a corresponding increase in the role of their army. In the interim, they are likely to go along with whatever Karzai attempts.

The Afghan insurgency comprises three main factions: the Taliban, the Haqqani group, and the followers of Hikmatyar. Though these three groups have different interests and agendas, they are all Pashtun/Afghan/Islamist nationalists and all have a common primary goal: the removal of foreign troops (and, even, influence) from Afghanistan. With the Obama ‘surge’ of US troops into Afghanistan, it became clear to the insurgency that they could no longer hope to force foreign troops out of the country through military pressure. The chances of just waiting them out through a prolonged military stalemate are being rapidly reduced with the increasing influence of the US on Pakistan’s policies. In the conduct of their operations, the insurgents are heavily dependent on their bases in the tribal and border areas of Pakistan and the denial or impairment of their use would weaken them significantly. They are thus being forced to move towards a negotiated settlement.

The Hikmatyar faction is the weakest of the three, with the least outside support and the weakest links to the other groups in the insurgency. Fearful of being left out of any peace negotiations, it has already made formal proposals to the Karzai government for a settlement. The largest insurgent group, the Taliban, has held some indirect talks with representatives of Hamid Karzai and some intermediaries. However, when some elements in the group began to get serious about negotiations (without Pakistani permission), the Pakistan military (with perhaps the blessings of the US) put a swift end to them by arresting the Taliban military chief, Mullah Baradar. The point made is likely to inhibit any such future moves by the Taliban unless they had the blessings of Pakistan. The Haqqani faction is much more dependent on Pakistani goodwill, since its main force is based in the Pakistan tribal area. It has not made any move to negotiate so far, and is unlikely to do so until permitted by Pakistan.

Within Pakistan, there are two main players: the government and the military. The overriding aim of the Zardari government is to keep the United States happy so that US and international aid money keeps flowing in. This ongoing and large-scale infusion enables the government to remain in power (as well as materially increasing the personal wealth of the rulers and their henchmen). However, their ability to influence Pakistan’s policy and actions relating to Afghanistan is limited since this area is firmly controlled by the military, principally the army. Currently, though, the government has a little more clout because the army chief is to retire later this year, and the government will pick his successor (or, possibly, grant him an extension).

The Pakistan military is the decisive voice in determining the policies that affect the country’s security; thus, Afghan policy is their domain, as is the scale and scope of military operations in the tribal areas bordering Afghanistan. The military’s main concern is the threat they perceive from India, part of which is the danger of an Afghanistan that is under Indian influence, or hostile to Pakistan. This makes it imperative that the outcome of the present conflict should be a government in Kabul that is friendly, even dependent. Hamid Karzai is distrusted because of his past ties and present friendship with India. Conversely, the Taliban and the Haqqanis have old ties to Pakistan, and are greatly preferred as future rulers of Afghanistan. (Hikmatyar was the original favourite of the Pakistani establishment (and the USA) during the anti-Soviet jihad, but those links faded long ago). As an interim stage, the military would accept a coalition government between all these Afghan parties, but not one in which its candidates had only a token presence, which is the goal of the mainstream faction in the US administration.

An intricate game is being played out between the Pakistan military and the US administration. The latter needs the military to take effective action against the insurgency in order to weaken it significantly. The military is dependent on the US for financial and material aid to maintain and build its combat power, but, if it fully complies with US demands, it will jeopardise its strategic goals in Afghanistan. The rise of the Pakistani Taliban came as a godsend, and has enabled the military to put off serious operations against the Afghan insurgency while it dealt with its own rebels. This stage is ending, and the military is now reduced to promising that it will widen its operations “soon”. The US, for its part, has sought to make it easier for this to happen by agreeing that Pakistan’s interests should be considered in a negotiated Afghan settlement (as well as allowing the military to use some of the US aid to bolster its anti-India capability). Neither side is taking these mutual assurances at face value. US pressure (supported by the Pakistan government) will continue to build up on the military, while the latter will continue to try and avoid carrying out operations that would damage its own hand in the Afghan poker game.

So, how will this end game in Afghanistan play out?

It is possible to discern some of the likely moves in the near term. President Karzai will hold his grand jirga, and it will likely call upon him to initiate negotiations with the insurgency for a settlement. Since the Pakistan military will not want these to take place at this stage of the game (nor, for that matter, would the US), the insurgents will not respond. Except, perhaps, for Hikmatyar, but that would not make a material difference.

Gen McChrystal will segue into his Kandahar operation, but this is unlikely to prove any more effective than the Marjah one. That would leave Pakistan military operations against the insurgents as the only means of bringing about the conditions that would lead to the US mainstream’s preferred end state, so pressure on the military will ratchet up. They will try and put these off for as long as they possibly can, in the hope that developments in the US will push Obama into adopting the alternative minimalist solution (that is, any negotiated settlement that would allow the withdrawal of US troops as early as feasible). This kind of negotiation is one the military would find more to its liking and would, accordingly, encourage. It is an open question who would fold first: the Pakistan military or Obama’s backing of the mainstream US position.

Looming over these developments are other possible regional events that would reduce Afghanistan to a minor sideshow. Pakistan’s intractable organic problems could spin out of control, leading to serious instability and, possibly, a radical change in governance. And then there is the ‘all-bets-are off’ scenario that would follow an attack on Iran. Either would reduce to irrelevance all these games that the various players are currently playing on the Afghan board.

Russia's Red Herring

Russia should tackle negative socio-economic and demographic trends in the Far East and Siberia instead of reacting to China's continuing rise if it wants to head off the chances of conflict in the region,

By Simon Saradzhyan for ISN Security Watch

Next month will see the Russian armed forces stage an operational-strategic exercise dubbed "Vostok-2010" (East-2010), called “the main event of the combat training” in 2010 in a press release by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Thousands of soldiers from the army, including the CBRN Protection Forces, the navy, air force, airborne troops and other elements of the Russian armed forces will participate in the joint exercise of the Far Eastern and Siberian Military districts in mid-June.

East-2010 will also involve forces and assets from other military districts and all of Russia’s four fleets, including submarines. The country's long-range aviation and the Interior Ministry Affairs troops will also participate in the war game.

According to a 14 May 2010 report in Russia’s leading defense weekly, Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenie, East-2010 will exceed in scale even the Zapad (West) war games, during which Russian forces simulate a major conflict with NATO, including a nuclear strike. East-2010, which, according to this daily, is designed to test the new organizational structure of the armed forces, will feature landing of troops from air and sea, crossing of Siberian rivers and seizure of potential foe’s headquarters and rocket positions.

Top Russian commanders would not publicly identify either potential foes or the overall scenario for East-2010. One unnamed, but obvious foe to prepare for is Japan. The Russian leadership is also concerned about the unpredictability of the nuclear-armed North Korean regime.

However, there is one more potential foe in the east whose growing military might require counteraction strategy on the scale of East-2010: China.

Russian officials have in the past avoided explicitly referring to China as a potential foe, perhaps, in order not to anger the eastern neighbor and buy time to prepare for its further rise.

What's left unsaid

More recently, however, the Defense Ministry top brass have begun to edge closer toward acknowledging the obvious.

During a press conference presentation by Chief of the Russian General Staff Nikolai Makarov in July 2009 a reporter for the Defense Ministry’s newspaper Krasnaya Zvezda pointed out that one of the slides in the commander’s presentation “show that it is, after all, NATO and China that are the most dangerous of our geopolitical rivals.”

Two months later Chief of the Ground Forces Staff Lt General Sergei Skokov made what leading Russian military expert Alexander Khramchikhin described as an “epochal statement.” When describing what kind of warfare the national armed forces should prepare for Skokov said the following in September 2009: “If we talk about the east, then it could be a multi-million-strong army with traditional approaches to conducting combat operations: straightforward, with large concentrations of personnel and firepower along individual operational directions.

“For the first time since the early days of Gorbachev, a high-ranking national commander has de facto acknowledged officially that the PRC is our potential enemy,” Khramchikhin wrote of Skokov’s statement in his 16 October 2009 article in the Nezavisimoye Voyennoye Obozrenie.

A military conflict between China and Russia seems very unlikely in the short-to-medium term. As renowned expert on Asia former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew noted in an October 2009 interview with US broadcaster PBS: “China wants time to grow. If there is going to be any conflict, they’ll postpone it for 50 years.” And before thinking of any conflict with Russia, China will of course want to regain Taiwan and establish its dominance in Southeast Asia.

However, should such a conflict between Russia and China eventually break out, the former should not hope that the conventional component of its 1-million-strong armed forces will be able to stop the 2.8 million-strong People’s Liberation Army. As said above Russia has simulated a limited nuclear strike in a conventional conflict in the West during the Zapad exercises and one may deduce from that that Russian generals have also developed similar plans for conflicts in the East.

While a powerful deterrence tool, nuclear weapons cannot be viewed as a panacea. First of all, even selected limited use of nuclear weapons, which Russian generals hope will demonstrate resolve and de-escalate the conflict, can actually increase risk that the foe may also choose to retaliate with nuclear weapons rather than sue for peace. Even the selective first use of nuclear weapons by Russia may prompt China to respond by launching its intercontinental ballistic missiles out of concern that Russia’s nuclear strike may destroy most of its nuclear arsenal.

And the 2003 Urgent Tasks of the Development of the Russian Armed Forces report rightly notes: “When we speak about the nuclear deterrence factor, especially when this notion is applied to the deterrence of threats associated with the use of conventional forces by the enemy, we should also take into account that under contemporary conditions such deterrence can be effectively carried out only if highly equipped and combat ready general-purpose forces are available.”

As important, neither nuclear nor conventional weapons will be very effective in reducing such risk factors that increase the likelihood of conflict, such as the growing demographic and economic disparity between China and Russia, which is all more evident when one takes a look at the macroeconomic and social data of Russia’s Siberia and Far East.

Economic and demographic disparities

China already has a population of 1.32 billion and its GDP totaled $4,326 billion in 2008, the third highest in the world overall, according to the World Bank. Russia’s population totals some 141 million and its GDP totaled $1,601 billion in 2008, ranking ninth in the world, according to the same source.

As of the early 2000s Russia’s Far Eastern and Siberian districts had a total population of 27 million and their combined gross regional products totaled $110 billion per year, according to then-governor of Krasnoyarskii Krai Alexander Khoponin’s 2006 speech at the Baikal Economic Forum in 2006. In comparison, some 100 million people live in three Chinese provinces that abut the Russian Far East, according to a May 2010 article by Robert Kaplan in Foreign Affairs. The population density on the Chinese side of border is 62 times greater than on the Russian side, according to this renowned expert on China.

China is most likely to continue growing at rates unattainable for Russia while the latter can count only on migration to prevent further depopulation. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that in his 2008 speech Khloponin identified the fast growth of countries of the Asia-Pacific region, which includes China, as the main challenge for Russia.

Russia should use the next several decades to pursue military reform until it produces a conventional force capable of deterring military threats along Russia's perimeter and on par with China’s PLA, while also maintaining a robust nuclear deterrent. Russian authorities should also allocate resources and introduce incentives to reverse depopulation in the Far East and Siberia and facilitate the region’s socio-economic growth to prevent the further deepening of the non-military disparities that increase the likelihood of a crisis in relations with China that may ultimately escalate into an armed conflict

Monday, May 24, 2010

China plays lap-dog in sanctions ploy

China plays lap-dog in sanctions ploy
By Peter Lee

China's plan to survive and thrive amid the Barack Obama administration's Iran sanctions drive appears to be on track - albeit with more than a little public diplomatic cost and humiliation.

China's tactics have the potential to weaken sanctions at the national as well as the United Nations level. Therefore, Beijing may still earn the grudging gratitude of Iran - and even the United States, whose push to extend sanctions it has agreed to support.
When the sanctions drive was threatened by the fuel swap agreement between Iran, Turkey and Brazil (hereinafter the ITB swap) China gritted its teeth and, instead of supporting this dramatic and apparently genuine exercise in developing-world diplomacy, undercut it by acquiescing to Washington's rushed riposte: the announcement that a draft sanctions resolution
approved by the "Iran Six" would be circulated to the Security Council.

To observers who expected China to champion the rights and interests of nations outside the Western bloc, it was not a pretty picture. The resolution announcement incensed Brazil and Turkey, two natural allies in China's plans for a new, post-US world order.

Iran's reaction to China's actions has been muted, even though Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki was reportedly thunderstruck when a Reuters correspondent told him about the resolution announcement on May 19 in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Within China, indignant netizens employed salty language to excoriate China's capitulation to the United States - and its wordy, parsing efforts to justify the government's actions.

One aggrieved commenter wrote: "'So, you want to live like a whore and then have a ceremonial arch erected to commemorate your chastity! Don't think the Chinese people don't understand what's going on!''

As China's Foreign Ministry reached out to Turkey and Brazil to praise the fuel swap deal and repair China's standing in the developing world, two complementary editorials in China's influential Global Times - one in English for a Western audience and one in Chinese for everybody else. These laid out Beijing's case and labored to salvage China's public image as an independent and principled world power.

At the same time it was made clear that China was not going to attempt to exploit the ITB swap announcement in order to embarrass the United States and decouple from the sanctions drive.

In fact, the editorials laid out a position comforting to the United States: that more than the fuel swap agreement was needed if Iran wished to avoid sanctions.

The English-language editorial stated:
Should Iran really make up its mind to break the long impasse, more substantive steps are needed before the rest of the world can be more convinced.

Implementing the fuel-swap deal is certainly one option for Tehran to assure the world of the sole peaceful purpose of its nuclear program.

There are more feasible options available. Iran's claims of trustworthiness will be more persuasive if greater transparency is given to its nuclear program.

Tehran would be shortsighted and unwise if it merely manipulated the fuel-swap deal as a tactic to stave off more UN-led sanctions.

... it is the choices up to Iran that can make peace a reality in the region. [1]
The Chinese-language editorial, while criticizing US intransigence, stated:
Iran has not made sufficient efforts for foreigners to believe her.

In principle, the agreement announced two days before ... is a good thing. But it is not enough to remove the suspicion ... additional actions are necessary ... If Iran wants to break this deadlock, it has to take concrete actions and prove to the world that none of its activities have anything to do with nuclear weapons. [2]
The Western media profess to believe that Chinese support was extorted by threats to come down hard on China on the issues of currency valuation and the Cheonan, the South Korean warship which Seoul claims was sunk by a North Korean torpedo.

However, it appears that the situation leading up to the sanctions resolution announcement on May 18 was quite the opposite.

The Obama administration, desperate to keep the ITB swap deal from derailing the sanctions push, was forced to finalize its negotiations with Russia and China in conditions that can charitably be described as adverse.

Russia and China were in the position to make demands - and they did, as the New York Times reported:
Among the many compromises that the United States accepted to get China and Russia to back new sanctions against Iran was an agreement to limit any reference to the bank - or Iran's entire energy sector, for that matter - to the introductory paragraphs rather than the sanctions themselves, according to American officials and other diplomats, yielding a weaker resolution than the United States would have liked.

The standoff between Washington and Beijing over what economic measures to include in the final resolution consumed the last 10 days of the negotiations, diplomats said. [3]
Now, UN sanctions appear inevitable - thanks to China.

However, China would harbor no illusions that the UN draft resolution would be the last word on sanctions.

China's support of UN sanctions are best understood in the context of the real sanctions - national and EU sanctions to be imposed on Iran's allies and trading partners after the UN sanctions pass.

It has not escaped the notice of China nor Iran that the US media routinely state that negotiations with Russia and China have diluted the UN resolution to the point of meaninglessness, and only follow-on sanctions can achieve the desired results.

Since the UN sanctions are universally regarded as a necessary precondition to national sanctions, it would appear counterintuitive for China to surrender its leverage over UN sanctions by spurning the ITB swap - which provided adequate pretext for slow-walking the UN sanctions process - and, in the Global Times editorial, even placing additional, seemingly unmeetable demands on Iran beyond the swap as a condition for halting sanctions.

Beijing's cooperation, including an acknowledgement that the sanctions vote would occur within three weeks - even under favorable negotiating conditions when it could conceivably have demanded that the UN sanctions process wait on the outcome of the ITB swap - implies that Beijing and Washington achieved an understanding concerning US national sanctions as well.

Immediately following the announcement of the UN draft, Global Times printed a long, self-justifying background piece by "a knowledgeable party at China's UN Mission in New York".

At a time when one would think China would be at pains to describe the draft as something forced on it by the United States, the unnamed source goes out of his or her way to describe the weeks of intensive negotiations and 20 bilateral meetings between the US and Chinese representatives that culminated in the draft resolution which it endorsed, with the unequivocal statement: "we have no objections to the draft".

The source lays out the principles underlying China's agreement to the sanctions process, with the apparent intention that these painstakingly-negotiated conditions should be binding on the US as well as China.

These should be understood as a signal that China is asserting that the US must observe these principles not only for the drafting of the UN sanctions but in the execution of American national sanctions.

The key economic points, as described in the Global Times backgrounder:
China's important interests are maintained. China's important interests are ... in the matters of Iran's energy, trade, and financial sectors. China believes that normal economics and trade should not be punished because of the Iran question nor should those countries that maintain normal, legal economic relations with Iran be punished ... Through negotiations, this point was satisfied, doing a relatively good job of upholding China's ... important interests. [4]
These remarks - and the remarkably forthright support for the American sanctions position reflected in the Global Times editorials - can therefore be construed as Beijing's public affirmation of the deal China made with the Obama administration to keep national sanctions in check.

As noted above, at China's insistence, references to Iran's financial and energy sectors were banished to the beginning of the draft resolution, instead of being referenced in the articles outlining actual sanctions - thereby removing the potential justification that harsher US national sanctions were necessary in order to implement the UN security council resolution mandate.

For its part, the US engaged in spinning of its own to avoid the impression that it had given away the store during the rushed weekend negotiation.

On the issue of Russia's key military sale to Iran - the S300 anti-aircraft battery that is supposed to give Israel conniptions - the US told its sources that the sale would be banned. The Russians went public with a statement that they could sell it.

As for the concessions to China, US sources took pains to assert that the Iranian finance and energy sector was still fair game:
That is enough to pursue companies dealing with either the banks or the energy sector, American officials said. Whenever the negotiations stalled, Ambassador Susan E Rice, the American envoy, warned the Chinese that any measures passed by Congress in the absence of a United Nations resolution would likely have much greater consequences for Chinese banks and its trade relations with the United States, one United Nations diplomat said. [5]
However, a close parsing of this paragraph seems to indicate that China actually did get what it wanted: Beijing's interests will be targeted if - and only if - China doesn't back the UN sanctions resolution.

Once the Security Council resolution is out of the way, US national sanctions are coming, as a matter of domestic political necessity and, perhaps, the Obama administration's attempt to entice Israel into the faltering non-proliferation regime by isolating and incapacitating Iran.

Maximum US national sanctions go far beyond the UN - by design.

Pounding on Iran and supporting Israel are a matter of great importance in the US Congress.

A bipartisan Iran sanctions bill - HR 2194: Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act of 2009 - represents the latest iteration in the so far futile pursuit by congress of the sanctions holy grail - a shut down of every global loophole that lets Iran fund its energy development, export oil, and import gasoline.

The bill has been passed by overwhelming majorities in both houses in slightly different forms and is now in the hands of a conference committee that will produce the final bill for Obama's signature.

Whether or not the bill includes an explicit exemption for "cooperating countries" (aka China and Russia) as requested by the White House and absolutely detested by pro-Israel and anti-administration hardliners, Obama will have the final discretion in determining what sanctions to apply, and to whom.

And it appears that it will be very difficult for Obama to sanction China after Beijing's full-throated and politically costly support for UN sanctions.

That in turn may render moot the vaunted US sanctions against countries and companies involved in Iran's energy sector and supplying gasoline.

If US companies are sanctioned and China is not - and, under the draft UN sanctions resolution, presumably the maximum that China will accept, Beijing has no obligation to engage in energy and finance sector sanctions - Iran will suffer minimal disruption, China will accrue the maximum benefits, and American companies will be the losers.

If the United States threatens to unleash Stuart Levey, the US under secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, and Treasury hounds on Chinese banks doing business with Iran, the Obama administration can expect, if not open defiance, a rapidly increasing interest by Beijing in developing-world diplomatic initiatives to defuse the Iran crisis that undercuts the rickety sanctions edifice.

If, on the other hand, the Obama administration and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates are less interested in pursuing dead-end sanctions than they are in creating the geopolitical space to continue negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program, China's resistance may provide a welcome excuse for moderating the sanctions regime and preventing a slide into confrontation.

In any case, China, by coming - and staying - on board the sanctions bandwagon on its own terms, makes it much more likely that national as well as UN sanctions will be less stringent than Iran's most ferocious adversaries hope.

This background is perhaps the best explanation of why Iran's public criticism of China's participation in the UN sanctions resolution exercise has been virtually non-existent.

China on the inside of the sanctions regime is a much more effective bulwark against aggressive, disruptive sanctions than it could be standing alone with Iran against the US-led campaign.

Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons in 1975...

** Exclusive: Secret apartheid-era papers give first official evidence of Israeli nuclear weapons.....

The secret military agreement signed by Shimon Peres, now president of Israel, and P W Botha of South Africa. Photograph: Guardian

Secret South African documents reveal that Israel offered to sell nuclear warheads to the apartheid regime, providing the first official documentary evidence of the state's possession of nuclear weapons.

The "top secret" minutes of meetings between senior officials from the two countries in 1975 show that South Africa's defense minister, PW Botha, asked for the warheads and Shimon Peres, then Israel's defense minister and now its president, responded by offering them "in three sizes". The two men also signed a broad-ranging agreement governing military ties between the two countries that included a clause declaring that "the very existence of this agreement" was to remain secret.

The documents, uncovered by an American academic, Sasha Polakow-Suransky, in research for a book on the close relationship between the two countries, provide evidence that Israel has nuclear weapons despite its policy of "ambiguity" in neither confirming nor denying their existence.

The Israeli authorities tried to stop South Africa's post-apartheid government declassifying the documents at Polakow-Suransky's request and the revelations will be an embarrassment, particularly as this week's nuclear non-proliferation talks in New York focus on the Middle East.

They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.

A spokeswoman for Peres today said the report was baseless and there were "never any negotiations" between the two countries. She did not comment on the authenticity of the documents.

South African documents show that the apartheid-era military wanted the missiles as a deterrent and for potential strikes against neighboring states.

The documents show both sides met on 31 March 1975. Polakow-Suransky writes in his book published in the US this week, The Unspoken Alliance: Israel's secret alliance with apartheid South Africa. At the talks Israeli officials "formally offered to sell South Africa some of the nuclear-capable Jericho missiles in its arsenal".

Among those attending the meeting was the South African military chief of staff, Lieutenant General RF Armstrong. He immediately drew up a memo in which he laid out the benefits of South Africa obtaining the Jericho missiles but only if they were fitted with nuclear weapons.

The memo, marked "top secret" and dated the same day as the meeting with the Israelis, has previously been revealed but its context was not fully understood because it was not known to be directly linked to the Israeli offer on the same day and that it was the basis for a direct request to Israel. In it, Armstrong writes: "In considering the merits of a weapon system such as the one being offered, certain assumptions have been made: a) That the missiles will be armed with nuclear warheads manufactured in RSA (Republic of South Africa) or acquired elsewhere."

But South Africa was years from being able to build atomic weapons. A little more than two months later, on 4 June, Peres and Botha met in Zurich. By then the Jericho project had the codename Chalet.

The top secret minutes of the meeting record that: "Minister Botha expressed interest in a limited number of units of Chalet subject to the correct payload being available." The document then records: "Minister Peres said the correct payload was available in three sizes. Minister Botha expressed his appreciation and said that he would ask for advice." The "three sizes" are believed to refer to the conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

The use of a euphemism, the "correct payload", reflects Israeli sensitivity over the nuclear issue and would not have been used had it been referring to conventional weapons. It can also only have meant nuclear warheads as Armstrong's memorandum makes clear South Africa was interested in the Jericho missiles solely as a means of delivering nuclear weapons.

In addition, the only payload the South Africans would have needed to obtain from Israel was nuclear. The South Africans were capable of putting together other warheads.

Botha did not go ahead with the deal in part because of the cost. In addition, any deal would have to have had final approval by Israel's prime minister and it is uncertain it would have been forthcoming.

South Africa eventually built its own nuclear bombs, albeit possibly with Israeli assistance. But the collaboration on military technology only grew over the following years. South Africa also provided much of the yellow-cake uranium that Israel required to develop its weapons.

The documents confirm accounts by a former South African naval commander, Dieter Gerhardt – jailed in 1983 for spying for the Soviet Union. After his release with the collapse of apartheid, Gerhardt said there was an agreement between Israel and South Africa called Chalet which involved an offer by the Jewish state to arm eight Jericho missiles with "special warheads". Gerhardt said these were atomic bombs. But until now there has been no documentary evidence of the offer.

Some weeks before Peres made his offer of nuclear warheads to Botha, the two defense ministers signed a covert agreement governing the military alliance known as Secment. It was so secret that it included a denial of its own existence: "It is hereby expressly agreed that the very existence of this agreement... shall be secret and shall not be disclosed by either party".

The agreement also said that neither party could unilaterally renounce it.

The existence of Israel's nuclear weapons programme was revealed by Mordechai Vanunu to the Sunday Times in 1986. He provided photographs taken inside the Dimona nuclear site and gave detailed descriptions of the processes involved in producing part of the nuclear material but provided no written documentation.

Documents seized by Iranian students from the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution revealed the Shah expressed an interest to Israel in developing nuclear arms. But the South African documents offer confirmation Israel was in a position to arm Jericho missiles with nuclear warheads.

Israel pressured the present South African government not to declassify documents obtained by Polakow-Suransky. "The Israeli defense ministry tried to block my access to the Secment agreement on the grounds it was sensitive material, especially the signature and the date," he said. "The South Africans didn't seem to care; they blacked out a few lines and handed it over to me. The ANC government is not so worried about protecting the dirty laundry of the apartheid regime's old allies."

Militant Zionism and Apartheid South Africa; birds of a feather...

Interestingly, but not surprising, a Google search returns far more links to Peres' denial than to the actual story. Meanwhile, I found the personal letter from Peres to his SA counterpart to be quite rich in retrospective irony:

** Dear Dr. Rhoodie,

Allow me to thank you most sincerely for the great efforts you employed to ensure the success of the meetings which took place in Pretoria on the 13th an 14th of this month.

It is to a very large extent due to your perspicacity, foresight and political imagination that a vitally important cooperation between our two countries has been initiated. This cooperation is based not only on common interests and on the determination to resist equally our enemies, but also on the unshakeable foundations of our common hatred of injustice and our refusal to submit to it.

Just as I am aware of the significant personal role that you have played as from the preliminary stages of our talks, so I am convinced that the new links which you have helped to forge between our two countries will develop into a close identity of aspirations and interests which will turn out to be of long-standing benefit to both our countries.

I am looking forward very much to meeting you again during your next visit to Israel.

With warm personal regards,

Sincerely yours,
Shimon Peres

Look at how they use calls to attack/sabotage/create a price tag for daring to criticize Israel's behavior and actions.

And look at the next to last paragraph item 30. and how they label those who level criticisms against Israel as anti-Semitism

What this amounts to is a carefully crafted Israeli psyop designed to counter growing valid criticisms of its abhorrent behavior and actions towards any and all who dare to question it. Terms like bringing out the anti-Semitism race card when they can't effectively counter valid criticisms that have hard documentations backing such criticisms.