Saturday, September 22, 2012

THE DAILY STAR :: Business :: Lebanon :: Experts estimate $40 bln gas reserves off Lebanese coast

THE DAILY STAR :: Business :: Lebanon :: Experts estimate $40 bln gas reserves off Lebanese coast


BEIRUT: An international firm has estimated the volume of gas in Lebanon’s south-west corner to be close to 25 trillion cubic feet, valued by experts to be worth over $40 billion.
“In the 3,000 square kilometers we are covering in the south-west corner of Lebanon, near the borders of Cyprus and Israel, an initial assessment [indicates] there may be 25 trillion cubic feet of gas,” David Rowlands, chief executive of Britain-based Geo Ltd. Spectrum Company CEO, told The Daily Star Friday.
The Lebanese government contracted Spectrum to conduct a 3-D seismic survey off the Lebanese coast.
The results so far have been more than encouraging as major U.S., European and Asian companies have expressed a keen interest in drilling gas off the Lebanese coast.
Many Lebanese, who have lost faith in their government’s ability to solve the economic crisis and cut the size of the huge public debt, believe the gas reserves may represent the last hope for rescuing the country’s economy....

bth: so large gas reserves off the coast of Israel and Lebanon. 

THE DAILY STAR :: srael war on Iran 'will eventually happen': Guards chief

THE DAILY STAR :: News :: Middle East :: Israel war on Iran 'will eventually happen': Guards chief


TEHRAN: An Israeli war on Iran "will eventually happen" but the Jewish state will be destroyed as a result, the head of Iran's elite Revolutionary Guards said Saturday, according to reports.
"War will happen but it is not certain where and when," General Mohammad Ali Jafari said, according to the ISNA and Fars news agencies.
"The shameful and cancerous tumor that is Israel is seeking war against us, but it is not known when that war will happen. They now consider war as the only way to confront us, but they are so stupid that their (U.S.) masters should stop them," he said, speaking during an armed forces exhibition in Tehran.
"If they begin (aggression), it will spell their destruction and will be the end of the story," he said.
"This (war) will eventually happen as the (Islamic) revolution is moving rapidly towards its goals, and they cannot tolerate this. And finally, they will impose a war situation."
...Jafari said that, "even if they (the Israelis) act rationally, this incident will happen."
He added: "Everyone knows that they cannot confront the power of the Islamic republic ... But there is no guarantee of rationality, and it is possible that they will go crazy" and attack.
...Fars quoted Jafari as saying that "we are putting all of our efforts into boosting our (military) capability so that, if an aggression occurs, we can defend ourselves and those who need our help."
....Iran has held several war games this year, including one pointedly showing its abilities to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Gulf to oil tanker traffic should it be attacked.
In an annual military parade on Friday, it also displayed several of its missiles, including ballistic weapons capable of striking Israel.
....In a September 16 news conference, Jafari said Iran's "declared policy" was to close the Strait of Hormuz if the country came under attack.
He also said that retaliation would target U.S. military bases in Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates because any Israeli attack could not be carried out "without U.S. permission."

Excerpt - Japan's Decision for War in 1941: Some Enduring Lessons

Excerpt - Japan's Decision for War in 1941: Some Enduring Lessons

... 1. Fear and honor, "rational" or not, can motivate as much as interest.
   2. There is no substitute for knowledge of a potential adversary's history and culture.
   3. Deterrence lies in the mind of the deterree, not the deterrer.
   4. Strategy must always inform and guide operations.
   5. Economic sanctioning can be tantamount to an act of war.
   6. The presumption of moral or spiritual superiority can fatally discount the consequences of an enemy's material superiority.
   7. "Inevitable" war easily becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy....

-bth: well worth a read in full.

326 Turkish officers convicted of plotting coup | The Times of Israel

326 Turkish officers convicted of plotting coup | The Times of Israel


ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — A Turkish court on Friday convicted 326 military officers, including the former air force and navy chiefs, of plotting to overthrow the nation’s Islamic-based government in 2003, in a case that has helped curtail the military’s hold on politics.
A panel of three judges at the court on Istanbul’s outskirts initially sentenced former air force chief Ibrahim Firtina, former navy chief Ozden Ornek and former army commander Cetin Dogan to life imprisonment but later reduced the sentence to a 20-year jail term because the plot had been unsuccessful, state-run TRT television reported. The three were accused of masterminding the plot.
The court also convicted 323 other active or retired officers, including a former general elected to Parliament a year ago— of involvement in the conspiracy, sentencing some to as much as 18 years in prison. Thirty-six were acquitted, while the case against three other defendants was postponed.
The officers were all expected to appeal the verdicts....

Curbs on Iran female students take effect - Middle East - Al Jazeera English

Curbs on Iran female students take effect - Middle East - Al Jazeera English


Human rights groups have urged Iran to lift restrictions on women attending university and enrolling in certain academic fields.

Thirty-six universities across Iran have banned women from 77 different majors, including accounting, counselling, and engineering, for the school year that begins on Saturday, Iran's Mehr news agency reported in August.

There was no official reason given for the move, but Iranian officials have expressed alarm in recent months about the country's declining birth and marriage rates, seen as partially caused by women's rising educational attainment in the last two decades.

In a statement released on Saturday, Human Rights Watch, the New York-based watchdog, urged the Iranian government to immediately reverse the more restrictive policies, and said they were a violation of the international right to education for everyone without discrimination.... Last week the minister of science, research and technology, Kamran Daneshjou, was quoted as aying authorities in the Islamic republic "welcome the establishment of one-gender universities, schools for only men or women." He said that was the direction "our religion envisions for us." Daneshjou dismissed Western criticism of Iran's steps, saying: "The angrier Western media gets, the more we realise we are moving in the right direction." In August, Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian Nobel Peace laureate, argued in a letter to the UN that the closure of certain academic fields to women was part of a push by the Iranian government to stifle "women's presence in the public arena".

Friday, September 21, 2012

IPS – Taliban Outflank U.S. War Strategy with Insider Attacks | Inter Press Service

IPS – Taliban Outflank U.S. War Strategy with Insider Attacks | Inter Press Service

.... 
The decision by ISAF to pull back from joint operations with smaller Afghan units is regarded by Afghan officials and observers as a major boost to the Taliban and a potentially serious blow to the already shaky ANA and police.
Retired ANA Gen Atiqullah Amarkhail acknowledged in an interview with IPS that insider attacks “have destroyed the NATO trust in the Afghan security forces”. The halt in joint operations with Afghan security forces will “really embolden and raise the morale of the Taliban”, he said. “The Taliban consider that they have achieved the goal they have been working for and are proud that they made coalition forces stop helping Afghan security forces.”
Amarkhail said he doesn’t believe the ANA will be able to conduct operations without the help of NATO forces, because of poor coordination among Afghan security forces and its lack of modern weapons.
If the foreign forces do not support and leave the Afghan Army in the present condition, things will get worse,” said Amarkhail. He expressed the fear that the result could be that different elements within the ANA will “turn their guns on each other”.
Dawoud Ahmadi, spokesman for Helmand Province Governor Mohammad Gulab Mangal, also expressed the fear that the ANA in the province will not be able to operate effectively against the Taliban if ISAF halts joint operations with the ANA at lower unit levels.
The spokesman told IPS, “We have problems in Helmand province, especially in the North. If NATO doesn’t help in conducting operations at lower level, the Afghan security forces will face problems, because they are not yet ready to launch operations on their own in that part of the province.”

Soldier's letter spurs IED hearing | TBO.com

Soldier's letter spurs IED hearing | TBO.com

 
The letter from Army Staff Sgt. Matt Sitton talked about how the men he commanded were forced to walk through a "mine field'' of improvised explosive devices every day for no apparent reason.
In the June letter he emailed to U.S. Rep. C.W. "Bill'' Young, Sitton wrote that he tried to bring his concerns to his chain of command but was told to "stop complaining." He was reaching out to the Florida Republican, he wrote, as a last resort to help his men.
Sitton, 26, of Largo, and another soldier were killed on Aug. 2 by an IED in the same Afghanistan field that Sitton talked about in his letter.
On Thursday, Young read the letter into the record at a hearing he called to question the actions of the Defense Department agency charged with protecting troops from IEDs.
The chairman of the influential House Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee, Young said Sitton's letter helped him change his mind on Afghanistan. Young, the senior Republican House member, is now calling for a withdrawal of troops ahead of President Barack Obama's stated 2014 deadline....

-bth: Rep. Young is a critical person in Congress to lose the support of.

BBC News - Mexico Coahuila inmates fled 'via front door, not tunnel'

BBC News - Mexico Coahuila inmates fled 'via front door, not tunnel'


The 131 Mexican inmates who fled jail this week escaped through the front door, not a tunnel as was previously reported, local officials say.
The officials in Coahuila state, near the US border, said guards and a drug cartel had helped the inmates.
The prison's director and other officials in the city of Piedras Negras have now been detained.
Monday's jailbreak prompted a massive manhunt. Three of the inmates have now been recaptured.
'Escape of the century' "The statements from those we've captured confirm that they left through the door," Coahuila's Public Security Secretary Jorge Luis Moran said.
The tunnel under the prison facility in Piedras Negras Journalists have been shown the tunnel under the prison facility
"There was total complicity, collusion and betrayal from the officers charged with preventing them from escaping," he added....

-bth: Note you read this article not from a US newspaper or news source but from the BBC which does a better job of covering Mexico's troubles than the LA Times or Dallas Morning News.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

New Pentagon inspector general report praises reforms at Arlington National Cemetery - The Washington Post

New Pentagon inspector general report praises reforms at Arlington National Cemetery - The Washington Post

 McLEAN, Va. — New leaders at Arlington National Cemetery have transformed the burial ground into a top-notch institution after officials uncovered mismanagement and misidentified graves two years ago, according to a Pentagon inspector general report released Thursday.
The inspector general concludes that Arlington and another cemetery run by the Army, the Soldiers’ and Airmen’s Home National Cemetery in Washington, “have transformed ... into premiere institutions of excellence capable of setting the standards for federal cemeteries across the nation.”...

bth: good.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Over 1000 Taliban militants attack Afghan police in Kunar - Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan Online Newspaper

Over 1000 Taliban militants attack Afghan police in Kunar - Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan Online Newspaper

 Heavy clashes erupted between Afghan police forces and Taliban militant in Kamdish district of eastern Nuristan province early Wednesday morning.
The clashes started around 4:30 am local time after several armed Taliban militants attacked Afghan police forces in this province.
Provincial security chief Ghulamullah Nuristani confirming the report said a prominent Taliban leader Hayatullah was killed along with eight other Taliban militants during the clashes.
Mr. Nuristani further added the clashes took place in government controlled areas after more than 1000 Taliban militants attacked Afghan police forces, and the fighting is still continuing in the area....

bth: considering that we have total air dominance it is amazing that they could amass 1000 men at one location.

Engine Woes Could Ground China's Stealth Armada | Danger Room | Wired.com

Engine Woes Could Ground China's Stealth Armada | Danger Room | Wired.com

...  Last year Erickson estimated it would be another five to 10 years before China’s inefficient aerospace firms could “consistently mass-produce top-notch turbofan engines” like the F119.
So no matter how much the PLA tests its J-20 and J-21 stealth prototypes — and no matter how many copies of the new jets Shenyang and Chengdu’s factories churn out over roughly the next decade — these impressive-looking warplanes could be hobbled by inadequate engines.
Bottom line: for now, America has less to fear from China’s planned stealth fighter armada than appearances suggest.

-bth: China isn't yet up to building good fighter jet engines.

Crocker: Taliban Infiltration Worse Than Estimated | Military.com

Crocker: Taliban Infiltration Worse Than Estimated | Military.com


Taliban infiltration of the Afghan army and police is much worse than the U.S. military and NATO have admitted and was the main factor in the surprise move to limit contacts with Afghan security forces to curb insider attacks, former ranking  U.S. officials in Afghanistan said.
"I would put the percentage rather higher" than the 25% figure for enemy infiltrators and sympathizers  that U.S. commanders have estimated, said Ryan Crocker, who stepped down as U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan in July....

bth: so 25% is an underestimation!

70% jailed Afghan women are accused of home-escape - Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan Online Newspaper

70% jailed Afghan women are accused of home-escape - Khaama Press (KP) | Afghan Online Newspaper

 Chief of the parliamentarian commission for human rights, civil society and women’s affairs Fawzia Koufi expressed concerns regarding the Afghan women detainees where majority of them have been arrested for escaping their homes.

Fawzia Koufi said more than 70% of the Afghan women have been jailed for escaping their homes despite this is not crime in Afghan law.

She said, “This is a major issue and women are jailed over adultery after escaping from their home. If the government does not have a specific law in this regard then it should be referred to us in order to modify a regulation in a bid to clarify the rules and prevent misunderstanding and misuse by Afghan attorney and police regarding the Afghan women.”

Afghan justice minister along with the Afghan women’s affairs minister and deputy administration of the Afghan interior ministry also attended the session to discuss the ways on how to prevent jailing Afghan women who are fleeing from their houses....

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Report: Median Income Worse Now Than It Was During Great Recession « CBS DC

Report: Median Income Worse Now Than It Was During Great Recession « CBS DC
...According to Pew, the Census Bureau showed that the median income for American households in 2009 – the official end of the Great Recession – was $52,195 (in 2011 dollars), while the median income dipped to $50,054 last year, falling 4.1 percent over two years.

“The decrease in household income from 2009 to 2011 almost exactly equaled the decrease in income in the two years of the recession,” the Pew report stated. “During the Great Recession, the median U.S. household income (in 2011 dollars) dropped from $54,489 in 2007 to $52,195 in 2009, a loss of 4.2 percent. By this yardstick, the recovery from the Great Recession is bypassing the nation’s households.”

The Pew report added that the recovery is the “most negative for household income during any post-recession period in the past four decades,” which means that the median household income has not risen above a previous peak over the past 12 years.

The poverty rate rose from 12.5 percent in 2007 to 15 percent last year as the median household wealth fell by 39 percent over a three-year span, from $131,016 in 2007 to $79,431 in 2010....

John D. Hart would be 29 today

Afghanistan: When the Moon Sets, Watch Out

Afghanistan: When the Moon Sets, Watch Out

... A key realization: the enemy uses cheap night vision gear in the form of cameras that have night functions.  When our IR lasers, our IR strobes, our IR illumination or our IR spotlights are radiating, they can easily be seen using cheap digital cameras.  I recently told this to some Norwegian soldiers, who were as surprised as our soldiers to learn it.  I learned this from the enemy, not from our guys.  The Taliban even use smart phone cameras to watch for invisible lasers.  The enemy in Afghanistan has been caught using cameras for night vision.  It is just a stroke of common sense: I have been doing it for eight years since I noticed an IR laser one night in Iraq.

A Norwegian trooper explained that one dark night in Afghanistan, they got ambushed with accurate but distant machinegun fire.  When they turned off their IR strobes, the fire ended.  When they turned the IR strobes back on, the fires resumed.  When they turned them off for good, it was over.

Many of our people believe that the enemy does not use night vision.  There was a time when this was true, but the war has matured and this is now false.  If your firefly is strobing on your helmet, or if you are carrying a cracked IR chemlight, do not be surprised if you take accurate fire during a black night.  When JTACs mark targets with IR lasers, or when aircraft such as Predators lase for Hellfire shots or for target ID, they look like purple or green sunbeams through night vision optics and they are crazy bright.  You cannot miss them.

To maximize chances of success for an assault such as that at Bastion last Friday, the Taliban know that it is best to start early, on a moonless night, just after red illum has begun.  Other Afghans engaged in normal masking movements can provide POL camouflage.  The enemy knows that only “Terry Taliban” is skulking around after midnight, so they start early when possible....

50,000 vehicles, 100,000 metal containers: US troops pack up gear to ship out of Afghanistan - The Washington Post

50,000 vehicles, 100,000 metal containers: US troops pack up gear to ship out of Afghanistan - The Washington Post

... Between now and the end of 2014, when most U.S. troops will have left, the Americans will move an estimated 50,000 vehicles, including tens of thousands of Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles like the one Randle drove into the equipment yard. They’ll also ship an estimated 100,000 metal containers — each about 20 feet long. End-to-end, the containers would stretch nearly 400 miles (600 kilometers).

Shipping has picked up in recent months, as base closure teams have spread out across Afghanistan to help soldiers sort, pack and load up their gear. As of the beginning of September, 208 U.S. and NATO coalition bases have been closed, 310 have been transferred to the Afghan government and 323 remain open, according to the coalition....

Post-2014: Taliban cadre warns of civil war in Afghanistan – The Express Tribune

Post-2014: Taliban cadre warns of civil war in Afghanistan – The Express Tribune

... 
According to sources, Mutasim recently visited an Arab country to meet a group of Taliban leaders who are willing to join the reconciliation process. He is also said to have offered to play a role in the Saudi peace initiative.

Mutasim called for a broad-based intra-Afghan dialogue, urging all stakeholders to cease hostilities. So far, the Taliban have rejected the possibility of any dialogue with the Karzai government.

“Alien enemy has taken advantage of the internal rift of Afghans and the time has come for the latter to learn a lesson from the bitter experiences of the past and reach an understanding,” Mutasim said in a statement emailed to The Express Tribune. He said Afghans should now accept, accommodate and forgive each other, and work for national unity.

It is the first time a senior Taliban leader has called for a ceasefire and an intra-Afghan dialogue.
Mutasim said US-led Nato troops are pulling out and if the Afghans could not reach any agreement before 2014, they would be pushed into another civil war. Afghanistan had slid into a deadly civil war following the withdrawal of the then Soviet forces in the late 1980s.

“The post-Soviet civil war had ravaged Afghanistan, and the destruction had paved the way for foreign aggression,” he said referring to the US-led invasion in 2001.

“So all Afghans, if they are Jihadi groups, political groups and alliances must set aside differences and pursue the politics of unity and understanding and resolve differences through negotiation,” he said.

Before Mutasim, former prime minister and chief of Hizb-e-Islami, Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, had also warned of a possible civil war in Afghanistan in an interview The Express Tribune this year.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 18th, 2012.

bth: worth reading in full. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Iran, North Korea sign technology agreement - Yahoo! News

Iran, North Korea sign technology agreement - Yahoo! News


TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran and North Korea signed a scientific and technological cooperation agreement Saturday, bringing the two nations deeply at odds with the U.S. closer together.
Iranian state TV did not provide further details on the document but said it will include setting up joint scientific and technological laboratories, exchange of scientific teams between the two countries and transfer of technology in the fields of information technology, energy, environment, agriculture and food.
Any technical accord between Pyongyang and Tehran is likely to raise suspicions in the West. The U.S. has repeatedly accused North Korea of providing Iran with advanced missiles capable of targeting Western European capitals.
Last year, Iran denied a U.N. panel report saying that North Korea and Iran appear to have been regularly exchanging ballistic missiles, components and technology in violation of U.N. sanctions....

-bth: one of the most nagging questions about Iran's nuclear program is why they are working with N. Korea whose only meaningful export is ballistic and nuclear weapons.

Asia Times Online :: All-out Middle East war

Asia Times Online :: All-out Middle East war

...  If a contrarian thought might be permitted, consider the possibility that all-out regional war is the optimal outcome for American interests. An Israeli strike on Iran that achieved even limited success - a two-year delay in Iran's nuclear weapons development - would arrest America's precipitous decline as a superpower.

Absent an Israeli strike, America faces:


  • A nuclear-armed Iran;

  • Iraq's continued drift towards alliance with Iran;

  • An overtly hostile regime in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood government will lean on jihadist elements to divert attention from the country's economic collapse;

  • An Egyptian war with Libya for oil and with Sudan for water;

  • A radical Sunni regime controlling most of Syria, facing off an Iran-allied Alawistan ensconced in the coastal mountains;

  • A de facto or de jure Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the Kingdom of Jordan;

  • A campaign of subversion against the Saudi monarchy by Iran through Shi'ites in Eastern Province and by the Muslim Brotherhood internally;

  • A weakened and perhaps imploding Turkey struggling with its Kurdish population and the emergence of Syrian Kurds as a wild card;

  • A Taliban-dominated Afghanistan; and

  • Radicalized Islamic regimes in Libya and Tunisia.

    Saudi Arabia is the biggest loser in the emerging Middle East configuration, and Russia is the biggest winner. Europe and Japan have concluded that America has abandoned its long-standing commitment to the security of energy supplies in the Persian Gulf by throwing the Saudi monarchy under the bus, and have quietly shifted their energy planning towards Russia. Little of this line of thinking will appear in the news media, but the reorientation towards Moscow is underway nonetheless.

  • ...

    -bth: idle speculation by Asian Times about the broader consequences of an Israeli-Iranian war

    Japan brandname firms shut China plants after protest violence - Yahoo! News

    Japan brandname firms shut China plants after protest violence - Yahoo! News


    SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - Some major Japanese brandname firms announced factory shutdowns in China on Monday and urged expatriates to stay indoors ahead of what could be more angry protests over a territorial dispute between Asia's two biggest economies.
    China's worst outbreak of anti-Japan sentiment in decades led to weekend demonstrations and violent attacks on well-known Japanese businesses such as car makers Toyota and Honda, forcing frightened Japanese into hiding and prompting Chinese state media to warn that trade relations could now be in jeopardy....

    Syria: Christians take up arms for first time - Telegraph

    Syria: Christians take up arms for first time - Telegraph


    The Christian community has tried to avoid taking sides in the civil war. In Aleppo, it recruited vigilantes from the Boy Scout movement to protect churches, but as the war moved into the city and spread across its suburbs they have begun to accept weapons from the Syrian army and joined forces with Armenian groups to repel opposition guerrillas.
    "Everybody is fighting everybody," said George, an Armenian Christian from the city. "The Armenians are fighting because they believe the FSA are sent by their Turkish oppressors to attack them, the Christians want to defend their neighbourhoods, Shabiha regime militia are there to kill and rape, the army is fighting the FSA, and the [Kurdish militant group] PKK have their own militia too."
    For the past six weeks up to 150 Christian and Armenian fighters have been fighting to prevent Free Syrian Army rebels from entering Christian heartland areas of Aleppo....

    Sunday, September 16, 2012

    NYTimes on military gay marriage and military benefits

    A Military Success Story - NYTimes.com


    ....The report’s authors did not seek to address the burdens imposed on married gay service members and their families by the Defense of Marriage Act, the cruel and unconstitutional 1996 law that denies same-sex couples who are legally married under state law the same federal benefits that are afforded to heterosexual couples.

    But those burdens are undeniably real: same-sex spouses are denied important military benefits, like discounted housing, surviving spouse benefits, treatment in military medical facilities, and medical and dental insurance. All of this disrespects the service and the sacrifice of gay and lesbian troops, as well as the core military values of equality.

    Beyond its obvious unfairness, the act’s affront to equal protection harms national security interests. When the Supreme Court returns from its summer recess, it will decide whether to add to its docket cases questioning the constitutionality of the law. The justices should hear those cases, and then issue an authoritative ruling striking it down. 

    -bth: hopefully the US Supreme Court will strike down the discrimination on benefits.

    Iran Boosts Bounty to Kill Salman Rushdie

    Iran Boosts Bounty to Kill Salman Rushdie

     An Iranian foundation has reportedly increased a bounty for the death of Salman Rushdie, saying that if the British writer had previously been killed for blasphemy, the offensive film film against Islam currently enraging Muslims would never have been made.

    Iranian media quoted Hassan Sane'i, a cleric heading the 15 of Khordad Foundation, as saying in a statement that he was "adding another USD 500,000 to the reward for killing Rushdie."....
     

    LOCAL - There are 50 senior agents in Turkey, ex-spy says

    LOCAL - There are 50 senior agents in Turkey, ex-spy says

     There are nearly 50 high-ranking intelligence agents on Turkey's Syria border, including agents from the United States, France, Germany, Britain and "perhaps Greece," former CIA agent Philip Giraldi told Tolga Tanış of daily Hürriyet in an interview.

    The former agent said there would be numerous spies working under the high-ranking spies and "many" informants working under them.

    Giraldi said he thought there were 15-20 high-ranking CIA agents in Turkey working on the Syrian conflict alone.

    "They would be paramilitary agents," Giraldi said. "They would be based at the consulate in Adana or the İncirlik Air Base, but could operate in the field as well," Giraldi said, adding that the agents would not cross into Syria but would direct intelligence operations from within Turkey in collaboration with Turkey's National Intelligence Agency (MİT).

    "The CIA probably has only 10 agents who are fluent in Arabic and maybe five who can speak Turkish fluently. For this reason, they need to rely on MİT agents when dealing with Syrian rebels," Giraldi said.

    The CIA lacks personnel who are fluent in Middle Eastern languages because their tours of duty only last two or three years before they are transferred elsewhere. "The agents do no have enough time to specialize in that language or culture,” he said, but added that the Russians were much better trained language-wise. "A Russian agent receives language courses for two years before arriving in Turkey, and once here, they can stay on duty for up to 10 years." ...


    Fars News Agency :: Syrian Troops Kill Top Rebel Commander in Aleppo

    Fars News Agency :: Syrian Troops Kill Top Rebel Commander in Aleppo

    TEHRAN (FNA)- Secretary and spokesman of the so-called Free Syrian Army's Military Council Ammar Al Wawi was reportedly killed in clashes in Aleppo in Northwestern Syria, local media reports announced on Saturday.



    The Syrian Dam Press website quoted informed sources as saying that Al Awawi, a defected colonel, was killed during the Syrian army operations in the city.

    The Syrian troops have been purging Aleppo of armed rebels and terrorists.

    Yesterday, the Syrian army also killed a number of Turkish officers in Aleppo, specially in Al-Mayadeen neighborhood, who aided armed groups in terrorist operations. ...


    bth: this is an Iranian government news source so it should be questioned.  It seems to offset an article written that Iran had Qods forces in Syrian and Lebanon as advisers.

    JihadistTerror Attack on Egypt's Sinai Security HQ - Middle East - News - Israel National News

    JihadistTerror Attack on Egypt's Sinai Security HQ - Middle East - News - Israel National News


    Three Egyptian security officers were wounded Sunday morning in a surprise attack by jihadists on Egyptian government headquarters in northern Sinai. The terrorists shelled the security base with a barrage of heavy artillery, firing mortar shells, rocket-propelled grenades and machine guns.

    The attack apparently came in response to an assault in the wee hours of the morning by Egyptian army regulars on a terrorist base in Sheikh Zuweid, a village in northern Sinai. According to a report published in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm a-Sabi, dozens of armored vehicles and attack helicopters were involved in the government's overnight assault on the terrorist base.

    The Egyptian government has become determined to wrestle with the issue of terrorist bases flourishing in the region, and terrorism emanating from the Sinai Peninsula.

    Although no group claimed responsibility for the attack, an Al Qaeda-linked terror organization calling itself Jund al Shari'a which had announced its formation on August 1 has carried out similar other operations, and has threatened to attack U.S. and Egyptian forces if certain demands are not met.

    It was the Jund al Shari'a that allegedly was responsible for a recent attack on Egyptian security personnel that left 16 Egyptian soldiers dead, stole two Egyptian armored personnel carriers, and infiltrated more than half a mile into Israeli territory before the operatives were located and eliminated by the IDF.

    Egypt's attack on the jihadist terror base came in response to an attack Friday night by 60-70 terrorists on an international peacekeeping force at a base in the Gora region in the Sinai Peninsula, some 40 kilometers south of el-Arish and close to the borders of Israel and Gaza....

    -bth: events in Sinai are being eclipsed by other attacks in the ME.

    US Persian Gulf War Games Planned

    US Persian Gulf War Games PlannedThe US Navy is leading its largest-ever war games in the Persian Gulf, with warships from 25 countries being deployed in the region.
    Tehran, in return, is preparing for its biggest air defense war game in the history of Islamic Republic next month.
    The US, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE have deployed the largest number of warships for the 12-day training mission.
    The exact number of aircraft carriers, battleships and submarines taking part is unclear. Three American aircraft carriers out of the four currently in commission are reportedly gathering in the Persian Gulf for the training. USS Enterprise, USS John C. Stennis, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower have reportedly arrived.
    The aircraft carriers are supported by at least a dozen warships: Ballistic missile cruisers, destroyers, frigates and assault ships carrying thousand of US Marines and spec ops ships.
    Britain dispatched six vessels to the Persian Gulf war games: the HMS Diamond, a brand-new £1 billion worth destroyer, four minesweepers and a logistics vessel.
    The joint fleet is expected to simulate destroying Iranian fighter jets, battleships and coastal military defenses like missile batteries.

    -bth: a concentration of aircraft carriers is significant.

    Why is the Arab world so easily offended? - The Washington Post

    Why is the Arab world so easily offended? - The Washington Post

    ...  The ambivalence toward modernity that torments Muslims is unlikely to abate. The temptations of the West have alienated a younger generation from its elders. Men and women insist that they revere the faith as they seek to break out of its restrictions. Freedom of speech, granting license and protection to the irreverent, is cherished, protected and canonical in the Western tradition. Now Muslims who quarrel with offensive art are using their newfound freedoms to lash out against it.

    These cultural contradictions do not lend themselves to the touch of outsiders....

    Cultural freedom is never absolute, of course, and the Western tradition itself, from the Athenians to the present, struggles mightily with the line between freedom and order. In the Muslim world, that struggle is more fierce and lasting, and it will show itself in far more than burnt flags and overrun embassies.

    Teen charged with trying to blow up Chicago bar | Fox News

    Teen charged with trying to blow up Chicago bar | Fox News


    Undercover FBI agents arrested an 18-year-old American man who tried to detonate what he believed was a car bomb outside a downtown Chicago bar, federal prosecutors said Saturday.
    Adel Daoud, a U.S. citizen from the Chicago suburb of Hillside, was arrested Friday night in an undercover operation in which agents pretending to be terrorists provided him with a phony car bomb....

    bth: this matches a similar situation a couple of years ago in downtown Dallas.

    6 Harrier jets lost in Afghan base attack - UPI.com

    6 Harrier jets lost in Afghan base attack - UPI.com

     KABUL, Afghanistan, Sept. 16 (UPI) -- Afghan insurgents destroyed six Harrier ground attack jets and damaged two in an assault on a base in Helmand province, coalition officials said Saturday.

    The destruction of the $25 million vertical-short takeoff aircraft occurred during a Friday night attack at Camp Bastion that also left two U.S. Marines dead and eight other coalition military personnel and one civilian wounded, the Department of Defense said in a release.

    International Security Assistance Force officials said insurgents organized into three teams and armed with automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenade launchers and suicide vests penetrated the base's perimeter fence.

    Besides taking out the AV-8B Harrier jets, the insurgents destroyed three refueling stations were destroyed.

    Fourteen militants were killed. A 15th fighter was wounded and taken into custody.

    bth: Six Harriers at $25 MM is $150 MM not counting loss of lives or other equipment.

    Pakistan slams US ‘pick and choose’ policy in Afghanistan – The Express Tribune

    Pakistan slams US ‘pick and choose’ policy in Afghanistan – The Express Tribune

    ... The official said discussions between Obama’s point-man for the region and Pakistani authorities will revolve around making the Afghan reconciliation process result-oriented.  “We are more than willing to facilitate peace efforts, but the US has to come clean on some of the issues.”
    He added the US administration was sending mixed signals. “On the one hand, they (Americans) want to negotiate [with insurgents], but at the same time are blacklisting certain Afghan groups,” he said referring to the recent US move to declare the Haqqani network a terrorist outfit.
    However, Islamabad is wary of further accusations linking the country’s establishment to militants and is said to have voiced no reservations regarding the decision.
    “That’s why we tried to distance ourselves … had we suggested anything to the US, it would have been said that we are trying to protect certain groups.”
    The official stressed the reconciliation process would only succeed if all stakeholders – be it the Haqqanis, Hikmatyars or Mullah Omar – are part of the peace process.
    Pakistani authorities believe US is trying to strike a delicate balance between its domestic compulsions and the ground realities in Afghanistan. While the Haqqanis might be dubbed as terrorists, some American interlocutors have not ruled out the possibility of engaging the group in negotiations.
    Grossman is due to meet President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Raja Ashraf today.
    Published in The Express Tribune, September 15th, 2012. bth: a third possibility is the partition of Afghanistan.