Saturday, September 07, 2013

Majority of Turks against Syria intervention: Survey - Hurriyet Daily News

LOCAL - Majority of Turks against Syria intervention: Survey

A majority of Turks disapprove of any potential military intervention in Syria, much like their European and American counterparts, a survey has revealed.

In Turkey, 72 percent of respondents to the Transatlantic Trends 2013 survey, which was conducted by the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), said their country should stay out of Syria, up 15 percentage points from last year, while only 21 percent – down 11 percentage points – favored intervention.

The respondents were told that there had recently been discussion about intervening in Syria, where the government has been using military force to suppress an opposition movement. They were then asked whether their government should stay out completely or intervene.....

Andrew Bacevich on Taking Action in Syria | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

Andrew Bacevich on Taking Action in Syria | Moyers & Company | BillMoyers.com

Please take 30 minutes out of your day and watch this interview.  I am in agreement with my friend Dr. Bacevich on this matter of grave importance.

Syria and the Israeli Way of War - National Interest.org

Syria and the Israeli Way of War | The National Interest Blog

.... As always with the Netanyahu government, the issue of Iran looms large. Netanyahu and his colleagues evidently have calculated, probably accurately, that a U.S. attack on Syria would serve their objectives of keeping the Iran issue boiling (and thus serving their further purposes of distracting international attention from issues directly involving Israel and precluding Iran ever becoming, in competition with Israel, a partner of the United States), diminishing the chance for a negotiated agreement on the Iranian nuclear program, and increasing the chance of a future U.S. military attack on Iran. In addition to wanting a U.S. attack on Syria that would provide ammunition to Iranian hardliners resisting agreement-facilitating concessions to the West, the Israeli government does not want a Congressional outcome on Syria that would make it harder to push through in the future an authorization to use military force against Iran. After all, if Congress were to say no to military action when a regime not only possesses a banned and abhorred weapon but has actually used it to lethal effect, how could it be expected to say yes with a different regime that has never owned or used the feared weapon, has not made any decision to build it, and where the only rationale for an attack would be that this regime has a program that maybe, someday, might help it to build such a weapon if it ever were to take the decision it has not taken?

There is a another dimension about Israel and Iran that is based on Netanyahu's already well-established image of someone itching to pull Israel's own military trigger and attack Iran. This image has been supplemented by much commentary in Israel in recent days to the effect that Obama's supposed wavering on Syria—by throwing the issue to Congress—demonstrates how on a matter as important as Iran, Israel must rely on no one other than itself. All this gives rise to the argument, which is likely to sway some members of Congress, that if the United States does not reassure Netanyahu by taking a firm line about using military force and smiting Syria, the Israeli prime minister is apt to start a new war with Iran.

So Netanyahu's incessant saber-rattling on Iran is increasing the chance of the United States going to war against Syria, which in turn would increase his ability to sell a future U.S. war against Iran. That game works well for Netanyahu. It is an awful game for the United States

-bth: an article worth reading in full.

Syria and North Korea: A Real Axis of Evil - National Interest.org

Commentary: Syria and North Korea: A Real Axis of Evil | The National Interest

...Veteran journalist and North Korea watcher Claudia Rosett in a recent article in Forbes again quoted the Chosun Ilbo in noting that "an unnamed diplomatic source" had stated that not only had North Korea transferred to Syria the technology for producing chemical warheads, but that North Korea has been continuously providing Syrian chemical weapons facilities with “after-sales services.” This June 17, a Chosun Ilbo report further noted that “in November 2009, a cargo ship bound for Syria was caught at Piraeus Port in Greece carrying North Korean chemical weapons-related materials, including about 20,000 pieces of protective clothing for atomic, biological and chemical warfare.” The article also quoted “another diplomatic source” as claiming “that it is 'most likely' that chemical weapons used by Syrian government troops were produced with North Korean technology.” During the current international crisis arising from the use of chemical weapons in Syria, it would seem that determination of the point of origin of those weapons would be of utmost importance.

North Korea is known to have one of the world's largest chemical-weapons stockpiles, with weapons ready to be loaded into mortars to rain down on short notice on Seoul, one of the world's great metropolises. A U.S. Department of Defense report released earlier this year, titled Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea 2012, states "North Korea probably has had a longstanding Chemical Weapons (CW) program with the capability to produce nerve, blister, blood, and choking agents and likely possesses a CW stockpile. North Korea probably could employ CW agents by modifying a variety of conventional munitions, including artillery and ballistic missiles. In addition, North Korean forces are prepared to operate in a contaminated environment; they train regularly in chemical defense operations. North Korea is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention."...

-bth: the link between N. Korea and Syria needs to be examined in greater detail.  Indeed the link between Iran-N. Korea and Syria should be evaluated.

AIPAC's Position on the Authorization of Force in Syria

News Hub : AIPAC's Position on the Authorization of Force in Syria

...AIPAC will be lobbying in favor of Congress authorizing the President to use military force in Syria. We need your help to persuade members of the Senate and House to join Speaker Boehner, House Majority Leader Cantor, House Democratic Leader Pelosi, House Democratic Whip Hoyer, and many others in both chambers, in support of this bipartisan resolution.

We believe that Congress’ failure to grant the President this authority would  be interpreted as a sign of American weakness, and cast doubt about whether America will act to carry out its commitments in the Middle East – including the President’s and Congress’ pledge to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons....

AIPAC's Position on the Authorization of Force in Syria

News Hub : AIPAC's Position on the Authorization of Force in Syria

...AIPAC will be lobbying in favor of Congress authorizing the President to use military force in Syria. We need your help to persuade members of the Senate and House to join Speaker Boehner, House Majority Leader Cantor, House Democratic Leader Pelosi, House Democratic Whip Hoyer, and many others in both chambers, in support of this bipartisan resolution.

We believe that Congress’ failure to grant the President this authority would  be interpreted as a sign of American weakness, and cast doubt about whether America will act to carry out its commitments in the Middle East – including the President’s and Congress’ pledge to stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons....

“The attack on Syria will be larger than expected” - JPost

Israel News - “The attack on Syria will be larger than expected” - JerusalemOnline

...A limited and precise attack? Not according to ABC network reporting last night (Friday) that Obama’s plan of attack in Syria could be “significantly larger than what everyone expects”.

 From the report, which leans on a source from one of national security agencies in the US, it appears that a 48 hour American aerial attack could cause more damage than that caused by the rebels over the past two years.  

“The aerial attack, which will last at least two days, is expected to include long range missiles and bombs fired from B-2 and B-52 planes that will fly from the US” the report said. Also in the report, the US army could carry out “a relentless Tomahawk missile attack from the destroyers in the Mediterranean, which carry around 200 missiles”....

Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria - NYT

Israel Backs Limited Strike Against Syria - NYTimes.com

....For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win — we’ll settle for a tie,” said Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death: that’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”

The synergy between the Israeli and American positions, while not explicitly articulated by the leaders of either country, could be a critical source of support as Mr. Obama seeks Congressional approval for surgical strikes in Syria. Some Republicans have pushed him to intervene more assertively to tip the balance in the Syrian conflict, while other politicians from both parties are loath to involve the United States in another Middle Eastern conflict on any terms.

But Israel’s national security concerns have broad, bipartisan support in Washington, and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the influential pro-Israel lobby in Washington, weighed in Tuesday in support of Mr. Obama’s approach. The group’s statement said nothing, however, about the preferred outcome of the civil war, instead saying that America must “send a forceful message” to Iran and Hezbollah and “take a firm stand that the world’s most dangerous regimes cannot obtain and use the most dangerous weapons.”...

-bth: an article worth reading in full to understand the nuance of the Israeli position on Syria.

Friday, September 06, 2013

These False Flags Were Used To Start A War - Zerohedge

These False Flags Were Used To Start A War | Zero Hedge

Just in case one's history textbook had a few extra pages ripped out, this may be a good time to recall just how far one's government is willing to go to start a war under false pretenses.

Below is a partial list of some of the documented "false flag" events that were intended and/or served to start a war in recent and not so recent history.

 

Franco-Prussian War

Otto von Bismarck waved a "red flag" in front of the "gallic bull" by re-editing a telegram from the Prussian King so that it appeared as though the King had insulted a French ambassador during a time of extremely tense French-German international relations. The telegram is known as the Ems Dispatch. It helped encourage the states to go to war.

 

Russo-Swedish War

In 1788, a head tailor of the Royal Swedish Opera received an order to sew a number of Russian military uniforms that later were used in an exchange of gunfire at Puumala, a Swedish outpost on the Russo-Swedish border, on June 27, 1788. The staged attack, which caused an outrage in Stockholm, was to convince the Riksdag of the Estates and to provide the Swedish king Gustav III with an excuse to declare a "defensive" war on Russia. This was important since the king did not have constitutional right to start offensive war without agreement of the estates who had already made clear that their acceptance would not be forthcoming.

 

Spanish–American War, i.e, the Sinking of the USS Maine

The sinking of the USS Maine on 15 February 1898 in Havana harbor was initially thought to be caused by an external mine exploded under the ship. This belief roused anti-Spanish sentiment in the United States and helped catalyze the Spanish–American War later that same year. In 1911 an extensive study was made of the wreck, and again an external mine was believed to be the cause. In 1976 a team of naval explosive experts re?examined the earlier evidence and concluded that the likeliest cause of the sinking was an internal explosion caused by spontaneous combustion of fuel coal stored in a bunker next to a magazine holding more than 5 short tons (4.5 t) of powder charges for the guns. Despite this analysis, some observers believe that the explosion was caused by a U.S. agent for the purpose of angering the U.S. populace and initiating the war which followed. Cuban politician and former director of the national library Eliades Acosta claims that "powerful economic interests" in the United States were probably responsible not only for the sinking of the Maine but for the assassination of three 19th-century U.S. presidents, beginning with Abraham Lincoln.

The Mukden incident in September 1931 involved Japanese officers fabricating a pretext for annexing Manchuria by blowing up a section of railway. In fact the explosion was so weak that the line was unaffected. Six years later in 1937 they falsely claimed the kidnapping of one of their soldiers in the Marco Polo Bridge Incident as an excuse to invade China proper.

 

Reichstag fire

The Reichstag fire was an arson attack on the Reichstag building in Berlin on 27 February 1933. The fire started in the Session Chamber, and, by the time the police and firemen arrived, the main Chamber of Deputies was engulfed in flames. Police searched the building and found Marinus van der Lubbe, a young, Dutch council communist and unemployed bricklayer who had recently arrived in Germany, ostensibly to carry out political activities.

The fire was used as evidence by the Nazis that the Communists were beginning a plot against the German government. Van der Lubbe and four Communist leaders were subsequently arrested. Adolf Hitler, who was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany four weeks before, on 30 January, urged President Paul von Hindenburg to pass an emergency decree to counter the "ruthless confrontation of the Communist Party of Germany". With civil liberties suspended, the government instituted mass arrests of Communists, including all of the Communist parliamentary delegates. With their bitter rival Communists gone and their seats empty, the National Socialist German Workers Party went from being a plurality party to the majority; subsequent elections confirmed this position and thus allowed Hitler to consolidate his power.

Historians disagree as to whether Van der Lubbe acted alone, as he said, to protest the condition of the German working class, or whether the arson was planned and ordered by the Nazis, then dominant in the government themselves, as a false flag operation. The responsibility for the Reichstag fire remains an ongoing topic of debate and research.

 

The Gleiwitz Incident

The Gleiwitz incident in 1939 involved Reinhard Heydrich fabricating evidence of a Polish attack against Germany to mobilize German public opinion for war, to establish casus belli, and to justify the war with Poland. Alfred Naujocks was a key organiser of the operation under orders from Heydrich. It led to the deaths of innocent Nazi concentration camp victims who were dressed as German soldiers and then shot by the Gestapo to make it seem that they had been shot by Polish soldiers. This, along with other false flag operations in Operation Himmler, would be used to mobilize support from the German population for the start of World War II in Europe.

 

Winter War

In 1939 the Red Army shelled Mainila, a Russian town near the Finnish border. Soviet authorities blamed Finland for the attack and used the incident as a pretext to start the Winter War four days later.

 

Kassa attack

The Kassa attack in 1941 involved the city of Kassa, today Košice (Slovakia), which was then part of Hungary, being bombed by three unidentified planes of apparently Soviet origin. This attack became the pretext for the government of Hungary to declare war on the Soviet Union.

 

Operation Ajax

The replacement of Iran's Anglo-Persian Oil Company with five American oil companies and the 1953 Iranian coup d'état was the consequence of the U.S. and British-orchestrated false flag operation, Operation Ajax. Operation Ajax used political intrigue, propaganda, and agreements with Qashqai tribal leaders to depose the democratically elected leader of Iran, Mohammed Mosaddeq. Information regarding the CIA-sponsored coup d'etat has been largely declassified and is available in the CIA archives.

 

Operation Northwoods

The planned, but never executed, 1962 Operation Northwoods plot by the U.S. Department of Defense for a war with Cuba involved scenarios such as fabricating the hijacking or shooting down of passenger and military planes, sinking a U.S. ship in the vicinity of Cuba, burning crops, sinking a boat filled with Cuban refugees, attacks by alleged Cuban infiltrators inside the United States, and harassment of U.S. aircraft and shipping and the destruction of aerial drones by aircraft disguised as Cuban MiGs. These actions would be blamed on Cuba, and would be a pretext for an invasion of Cuba and the overthrow of Fidel Castro's communist government. It was authored by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, but then rejected by President John F. Kennedy. The surprise discovery of the documents relating to Operation Northwoods was a result of the comprehensive search for records related to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy by the Assassination Records Review Board in the mid-1990s. Information about Operation Northwoods was later publicized by James Bamford.

 

Gulf of Tonkin incident

The Gulf of Tonkin incident (or the USS Maddox incident) is the name given to two separate confrontations involving North Vietnam and the United States in the waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. The first event occurred on August 2, 1964, between the destroyer USS Maddox and three North Vietnamese Navy torpedo boats of the 135th Torpedo Squadron. The second was originally claimed by the U.S. National Security Agency to have occurred on August 4, 1964, as another sea battle, but instead may have involved "Tonkin Ghosts" (false radar images) and not actual NVN torpedo boat attacks.

The outcome of these two incidents was the passage by Congress of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, which granted President Lyndon B. Johnson the authority to assist any Southeast Asian country whose government was considered to be jeopardized by "communist aggression." The resolution served as Johnson's legal justification for deploying U.S. conventional forces and the commencement of open warfare against North Vietnam.

In 2005, an internal National Security Agency historical study was declassified; it concluded that the Maddox had engaged the North Vietnamese Navy on August 2, but that there were no North Vietnamese Naval vessels present during the incident of August 4. The Gulf of Tonkin incident has long been accused of being a false flag operation, but this judgment remains in dispute.

US orders diplomats out of Lebanon

US orders diplomats out of Lebanon - News Nation Washington - Boston.com

WASHINGTON (AP) — The State Department on Friday ordered nonessential U.S. diplomats to leave Lebanon due to security concerns as the Obama administration and Congress debate military strikes on neighboring Syria.

In a new travel warning for Lebanon, the department said it had instructed nonessential staffers to leave Beirut and urged private American citizens to depart Lebanon.

The step had been under consideration since last week when President Barack Obama said he was contemplating military action against the Syrian government for its alleged chemical weapons attack last month that the administration said killed more than 1,400 people near Damascus.

‘‘The potential in Lebanon for a spontaneous upsurge in violence remains,’’ the department said....

-bth: So we are preparing to kick a hornets nest that launches Iranian and Hezbollah terrorist retaliation.  People have forgotten what it was like in the 80s with Marine barracks bombings, French bombings and US embassy bombings.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Security official shot dead in the Black Sea resort of Sochi - the site of next year's Winter Olympics

Security official shot dead in the Black Sea resort of Sochi - the site of next year's Winter Olympics - Europe - World - The Independent

A security official was killed by unidentified gunmen in Russia’s Ingushetia republic today, the latest violence in a region plagued by an Islamist insurgency and near the site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

President Vladimir Putin has launched a huge security operation in regions surrounding the Black Sea resort of Sochi to stop any insurgent attacks on next year’s Winter Olympics, but the North Caucasus region suffers almost daily violence.

Ahmed Kotiyev, head of the regional security council which advises on security and defence matters, and his driver were shot dead by gunmen who sprayed their car with bullets on a highway 19 miles north of the major city of Nazran.

The shooting follows a botched assassination attempt against Mr Kotiyev in June when assailants fired a grenade launcher on his house...

-bth: this is getting very serious.  The US should be helping the Russians to avoid a terrorist incident at the Olympics.  I fear that the Syrian situation will tarnish relations that otherwise would serve a common interest as occurred with the Boston Marathon incident.  It is in the common interest to prevent terrorist incidents against innocent civilians whether at the Boston Marathon or the Russian Olympics.

Kerry: Arab countries offered to pay for invasion - WaPo

The House’s Syria hearing: Live updates

Secretary of State John Kerry said at Wednesday’s hearing that Arab counties have offered to pay for the entirety of unseating President Bashar al-Assad if the United States took the lead militarily.

“With respect to Arab countries offering to bear costs and to assess, the answer is profoundly yes,” Kerry said. “They have. That offer is on the table.”

Asked by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) about how much those countries would contribute, Kerry said they have offered to pay for all of a full invasion.

“In fact, some of them have said that if the United States is prepared to go do the whole thing the way we’ve done it previously in other places, they’ll carry that cost,” Kerry said. “That’s how dedicated they are at this. That’s not in the cards, and nobody’s talking about it, but they’re talking in serious ways about getting this done....

-bth: great. we are for hire I guess.

Who Made the Sarin Used in Syria? - Scientific America

Who Made the Sarin Used in Syria?: Scientific American

... The two versions do differ in some ways. Military grade sarin, for instance, would not contain chemical byproducts likely to be present in sarin made through other recipes. And traces of the impurities in home-brewed sarin would be detectable in soil. But different recipes for the home-brewed version will yield different byproducts, and investigators may have no way of knowing which ones to seek. Even if the byproducts were known, detectives would need to know the normal levels of those compounds in the soil to determine whether the amounts are elevated.

Likewise, examining tissues from victims would provide little help. Sarin kills by interfering with the action of a nervous system chemical in a way that ends up overstimulating muscles and paralyzing those around the lungs, impeding breathing. Physicians can detect signs of sarin in the tissues and in urine.  Indeed, Secretary Kerry told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today, "We have now learned that the hair and blood samples from first responders in east Damascus has tested positive for signatures of sarin." But investigators cannot discern the telltale impurities of the home-made nerve agent.

It is for such reasons that some experts say examining pieces of the rockets that the sarin arrived in is likely to be more telling, says Michael Kuhlman, chief scientist for national security at Battelle Memorial Institute, a nonprofit research group in Columbus, Ohio.  Fragments of the weapons will be on site in the same places where inspectors will be digging up soil samples for evidence of sarin, he says. The materials composing the rockets could differ depending on who made them, thereby pointing a finger at who deployed them....

Sochi International Airport adopts Broadway 3D facial recognition in advance of Winter Olympics

Sochi International Airport adopts Broadway 3D facial recognition in advance of Winter Olympics - Avionics Intelligence

PALO ALTO, Calif., 3 Sept. 2013. Elektronika LLC has developed and implemented an integrated security system for Sochi International Airport of Sochi, Russia, which will host the upcoming Winter Olympics 2014.

Elektronika officials selected the Broadway 3D Face Recognition System from Artec Group in Palo Alto, Calif., as part of this latest generation of airport security systems.


PALO ALTO, Calif., 3 Sept. 2013. Elektronika LLC has developed and implemented an integrated security system for Sochi International Airport of Sochi, Russia, which will host the upcoming Winter Olympics 2014.

Elektronika officials selected the Broadway 3D Face Recognition System from Artec Group in Palo Alto, Calif., as part of this latest generation of airport security systems.

The Broadway 3D Face Recognition System, installed for airport workers access control, uses the geometry of a human face, considered one of the most precise biometrics and nearly impossible to fool or fake.

Engineers selected Broadway 3D by Artec Group for installation in the Sochi airport for its safety and fast performance. The system eliminates access of an unregistered person or unauthorized employee. In less than a second, the system captures surface information. After analyzing roughly 40 thousand points on a user’s face, it builds a mathematical model and compares it to the database. It is capable of identifying a person from his walk, from identical twins, and despitehats or sunglasses. Moreover, the system offers a high throughput which can prove crucial during rush hours. Registration takes up to two seconds; throughput is roughly 60 people per minute.

The Broadway 3D Face Recognition System, installed for airport workers access control, uses the geometry of a human face, considered one of the most precise biometrics and nearly impossible to fool or fake.

Engineers selected Broadway 3D by Artec Group for installation in the Sochi airport for its safety and fast performance. The system eliminates access of an unregistered person or unauthorized employee. In less than a second, the system captures surface information. After analyzing roughly 40 thousand points on a user’s face, it builds a mathematical model and compares it to the database. It is capable of identifying a person from his walk, from identical twins, and despitehats or sunglasses. Moreover, the system offers a high throughput which can prove crucial during rush hours. Registration takes up to two seconds; throughput is roughly 60 people per minute....

-bth: this is very impressive technology.

U.S. documents detail al-Qaeda’s efforts to fight back against drones - NYT

U.S. documents detail al-Qaeda’s efforts to fight back against drones - The Washington Post

... U.S. spy agencies have concluded that al-Qaeda faces “substantial” challenges in devising an effective way to attack drones, according to the top-secret report disclosed by Snowden. Still, U.S. officials and aviation experts acknowledge that unmanned aircraft have a weak spot: the satellite links and remote controls that enable pilots to fly them from thousands of miles away.

In July 2010, a U.S. spy agency intercepted electronic communications indicating that senior al-Qaeda leaders had distributed a “strategy guide” to operatives around the world advising them how “to anticipate and defeat” unmanned aircraft. The Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) reported that al-Qaeda was sponsoring simultaneous research projects to develop jammers to interfere with GPS signals and infrared tags that drone operators rely on to pinpoint missile targets.

Other projects in the works included the development of observation balloons and small radio-controlled aircraft, or hobby planes, which insurgents apparently saw as having potential for monitoring the flight patterns of U.S. drones, according to the report...

-bth: this is an interesting article worth reading in full for those interested in such things.  One obvious point worth mentoning is that state-on-state warfare such as the Iran take down of the US spy drone 2 years ago are indeed possible.  Further one can expect that simple drones will not be effective against a country like Syria that will have access to Iranian and Russian technologies that impact drone operations.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin - Independent

Special report: We all thought Libya had moved on – it has, but into lawlessness and ruin - Africa - World - The Independent

...In an escalating crisis little regarded hitherto outside the oil markets, output of Libya’s prized high-quality crude oil has plunged from 1.4 million barrels a day earlier this year to just 160,000 barrels a day now. Despite threats to use military force to retake the oil ports, the government in Tripoli has been unable to move effectively against striking guards and mutinous military units that are linked to secessionist forces in the east of the country.

Libyans are increasingly at the mercy of militias which act outside the law. Popular protests against militiamen have been met with gunfire; 31 demonstrators were shot dead and many others wounded as they protested outside the barracks of “the Libyan Shield Brigade” in the eastern capital Benghazi in June.

Though the Nato intervention against Gaddafi was justified as a humanitarian response to the threat that Gaddafi’s tanks would slaughter dissidents in Benghazi, the international community has ignored the escalating violence. The foreign media, which once filled the hotels of Benghazi and Tripoli, have likewise paid little attention to the near collapse of the central government.

The strikers in the eastern region Cyrenaica, which contains most of Libya’s oil, are part of a broader movement seeking more autonomy and blaming the government for spending oil revenues in the west of the country. Foreigners have mostly fled Benghazi since the American ambassador, Chris Stevens, was murdered in the US consulate by jihadi militiamen last September. Violence has worsened since then with Libya’s military prosecutor Colonel Yussef Ali al-Asseifar, in charge of investigating assassinations of politicians, soldiers and journalists, himself assassinated by a bomb in his car on 29 August....

-bth: Libya is coming apart at the seams.

Is It Too Late to Determine Which Chemical Weapons Were Used in Syria? - Scientific America

Is It Too Late to Determine Which Chemical Weapons Were Used in Syria?: Scientific American

...What kind of testing is done to find out what chemicals were used in the attack? Is it all done on-site?

The team that goes in can either do on-site testing or they can take it to one of 20 facilities outside the country that are certified to conduct off-site testing. One of the benefits of off-site testing is that the devices there are usually more advanced. Usually they do a combination of both. So in this case you take a sample and split it into eight [parts], which are then sealed to prevent contamination. Two of the eight [parts] are analyzed on-site. One goes to the inspector state party, and one is sent to be analyzed off-site. Each sample is weighed and reweighed before and after shipment to ensure no tampering takes place.

The samples then go through gas chromatography–mass spectrometry (GC–MS) analysis, which breaks down the sample into its various chemicals. Then they identify them by comparing what they have with a database of more than 2,000 chemicals. [Editor’s note: A GCMS instrument comprises two parts. The gas chromatography (GC) component separates the chemical mixture into pure chemicals based on the ease with which they evaporate; the mass spectrometer (MS) identifies and quantifies the chemicals based on their structures.]

Is there an expiration date for detection of these chemicals?

If it was sarin, they have 29 weeks to detect the degradation components. There have been rumors that it’s too late to detect or that sarin evaporates. What happens is it goes into the soil. If there were bursts of sarin in the area say, nearby a crater, the bottom of that crater would be a great place to find sarin remnants. With such a large number of people killed in this attack, there is evidence that large amounts of the chemical—if it was sarin—was used. I expect it lingered in certain areas....

-bth: 29 week window.

Ignore US ire, import Iran oil to save $8.5bn, Veerappa Moily suggests

Ignore US ire, import Iran oil to save $8.5bn, Veerappa Moily suggests - The Times of India

...The Iran gambit is central to Moily's attempt to reduce India's oil bill by $20 billion but will need a reversal of India's recent attempts to reduce business with the regime in Tehran.

But the need to control an expanding deficit — fueled by a weak rupee — is becoming urgent, and India may have to repair ties with Iran that have hit an air pocket over the Iranian security forces detaining an Indian ship transporting Iraqi crude. India will need to display some creative diplomacy to tip toe around international sanctions and US sensibilities.

On August 12, even Chidambaram had spoken of importing more crude from Iran as part of his drive to contain current account deficit within the $70 billion target for this financial year. He had, however, made it clear that the operations had be undertaken without breaching UN sanctions.

Although several Asian countries, including India and China, have been provided flexibility, the government has reduced its dependence on Iran. In 2012-13, India imported about 7.2% of its oil from Iran, compared to 10.5% in the previous year.

India imports over 70% of its oil requirement, which is one of the key drivers of India's import bill. In the absence of a rise in exports, the trade and current account deficits have widened, adding to the pressure on the rupee.

But unlike imports from other countries, India can make the payments to Iran through a rupee account, which was created as part of the settlement mechanism to deal with the UN sanctions.

Moily's plan is in response to the PM's call to the ministry seeking a $25 billion cut in the oil import bill to narrow the current account deficit. He has suggested several measures to reduce the oil import bill by $19-20 billion this fiscal.
-bth: devalued currencies are having the unintended consequence of supporting Iran.

Monday, September 02, 2013

NBC poll: Nearly 80 percent want congressional approval on Syria

NBC poll: Nearly 80 percent want congressional approval on Syria - First Read

Nearly 80 percent of Americans believe President Barack Obama should receive congressional approval before using force in Syria, but the nation is divided over the scope of any potential strike, a new NBC News poll shows.
Fifty percent of Americans believe the U.S. should not intervene in the wake of suspected chemical weapons attacks by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to the poll. But the public is more supportive of military action when it's limited to launching cruise missiles from U.S. naval ships — 50 percent favor that kind of intervention, while 44 percent oppose it....
There is a strength in the union even of very sorry men. 
 Homer

Israel fears being left alone to counter Iran nuclear programme - Financial times

Israel fears being left alone to counter Iran nuclear programme - FT.com

... The US has said it would not accept a nuclear Iran, but Israel thinks this is too fuzzy. Mr Netanyahu, speaking at the UN last September, said that Iran must be stopped before it had amassed enough 20 per cent-enriched uranium for a single bomb. Israel says Iran has not reached this but is taking broader actions such as building centrifuges that would make it easier to cross the nuclear threshold quickly.

“Red lines don’t lead to war; red lines prevent war,” Mr Netanyahu said in his UN speech, in which he brandished a cartoon of a sputtering bomb. “I believe that faced with a clear red line, Iran will back down.”

Israelis are this week more doubtful on that point, with many saying that US prevarication on Syria has weakened the red line’s deterrence. Some worry it is now more likely that Iran will cross it and if forced to act, Israel may need to go it alone.

“Will the US back its own red lines and do something about Iran?” asked Yoel Guzansky, a researcher for the Institute for National Security Studies. “The answer after Obama’s speech is no – we are alone. That’s a very basic feeling – this is what people here think.”

-bth: for the Israelis the issue is not Syria, it is the US and more particularly Iran.  Most likely Israel will use this opportunity to embarrass the President and the Congress into some engagement in Syria while it holds its own cards close to the vest and with a weary eye on Iran.

Syria turmoil risks accelerating capital outflows from Turkey - gulf times

Syria turmoil risks accelerating capital outflows from Turke..

A US-led strike against Syria risks widening Turkey’s current-account deficit and boosting capital outflows already being spurred by speculation that the Federal Reserve will cut asset buying.

The lira has fallen to record lows and benchmark two-year bond yields climbed above 10% for the first time since January 2012 last week following the biggest surge among emerging markets in the last three months.

Concern the conflict in Syria will intensify damped demand for riskier emerging-market assets, helping send currencies lower from South Korea’s won to the Indian rupee and Brazil’s real and driving oil to a two-year high. Turkey, which borders Syria and has supported rebels against President Bashar al-Assad, has said it could be part of a Western attack against the country over its alleged use of chemical weapons. Foreign investors sold $1.68bn of Turkish bonds since May, according to central bank data.

“Syrian turmoil is coming at a very bad time for Turkey,” Mohammed Kazmi, an emerging-markets strategist at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc in London, wrote in e-mailed comments last week. “Military action on Syria will affect Turkey’s economy through several channels, including consumer and business confidence, while elevated oil prices will negatively impact inflation and the current-account deficit.”

Turkey has been struggling to reduce its current-account gap, which widened to $35.9bn in the six months through June from $30bn in the same period a year earlier. The country may exceed its 2013 current-account gap projection of $60.7bn, Economy Minister Zafer Caglayan said on August 27....

“The intervention, however lengthy, will likely put significant short-term pressure on oil and energy prices, which will further boost the current-account deficit,” Timothy Ash, an emerging-markets strategist at Standard Bank in London, said in e-mailed comments last week....

-bth: besides oil exporters, I don't see who financially benefits from a war in Syria.

War and Virtue

Poster_US_DestroyThisMadBrute

US interests under threat if Syria attacked: Iran - Daily Star

US interests under threat if Syria attacked: Iran | News , Middle East | THE DAILY STAR

 

DAMASCUS: A senior Iranian official warned in Damascus on Sunday that US interests in the region would be at risk if Washington launched a military strike against his country's ally Syria.

Iranian officials have issued stern warnings against US-led military action targeting Syria and the latest came from the chairman of the foreign policy committee of Iran's parliament.

"I hope that the United States will not undertake any precipitated and irrational action, due to the sensitive situation in the region," Allaeddine Boroujerdi told reporters.

-bth: this statement from Iran makes clear that a broader regional conflict would likely emerge.

"The Americans cannot threaten the countries of the region and expect that their own interests will not be threatened," he said, a day after talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

US President Barack Obama accuses Assad's regime of unleashing poisonous gas on Syrian citizens last month, killing hundreds in Damascus suburbs.

But Obama on Saturday said he will seek congressional approval before launching a punitive strike on the Syrian regime.

"If the United States carry out a foolish act, our response will be decisive," said Boroujerdi, in remarks translated from Farsi into Arabic by an interpreter.

On Saturday, the head of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guards warned that a US strike would trigger "reactions beyond" Syria and bolster extremism.

And Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has said a strike on Syria would be a "disaster" for the region.

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Syrian state-run daily calls Obama move a retreat - AP

My Way News - Syrian state-run daily calls Obama move a retreat

DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) - A Syrian state-run newspaper on Sunday called President Barack Obama's decision to seek congressional approval before taking military action against Syria "the start of the historic American retreat."

The gloating tone in the front-page article in the Al-Thawra daily followed Obama's unexpected announcement on Saturday that he would ask Congress to support a strike punishing the President Bashar Assad's regime for the alleged use of chemical weapons. The decision marked a stark turnabout for the White House, which had appeared on the verge of ordering U.S. forces to launch a missile attack against Syria.

"Whether the Congress lights the red or green light for an aggression, and whether the prospects of war have been enhanced or faded, President Obama has announced yesterday, by prevaricating or hinting, the start of the historic American retreat," Al-Thawra said.

The paper, which as a government outlet reflects regime thinking, also claimed that Obama's reluctance to take military action stems from his "sense of implicit defeat and the disappearance of his allies." The daily said the American leader worries about limited intervention turning into "an open war has pushed him to seek Congress' consent."

Syria's minister for reconciliation issues, Ali Haidar, echoed that line....

 

Casualty Estimates in East Damascus August 21, 2013

SAMS Video Report: Chemical Attack in Damascus - 21 August 2013

A statement from Jobar's Medical Point regarding the chemil attack


Russia Restructures Cyprus Debt; Cyprus Prohibits US Strikes On Syria - Zerohedge

Russia Restructures Cyprus Debt; Cyprus Prohibits US Strikes On Syria | Zero Hedge

Yesterday afternoon, Russia agreed to restructure Cyprus' EUR 2.5 billion loan terms to a much more affordable 2.5% semi-annual coupon through 2016 and a principal re-payment over the following four years. While probably still out of reach for the desparate economy, it was a positive step. Of course, this 'offer' by Russia has its quid pro quo. This morning, Foreign Minister Ioannis Kasoulides has stated that Cyprus territory will not be used to launch military strikes against Syria, as "Cyprus wants to live up to its responsibility as a shelter if needed for nationals of friendly countries who evacuate from Middle East". It would appear Obama's influence is fading everywhere...

 

Cyprus is located ~183 nautical miles west of Syria and is the EU member nearest to Syria....

-bth: Putin continues to out maneuver.