Archive | August 21st, 2012

Gaza may be set for a dramatic revival

NOVANEWS

The Economist

A building boom

You can see Tel Aviv from the top floor

FIVE years after Israel and Egypt closed their gates, the Palestinian strip of land they encircle is rising from the ashes of war and siege. “We’re building cities,” says a delighted UN engineer, putting the finishing touches to “Saudi City”, a public housing estate replete with garages, tiled bathrooms and dishwashers that cost its Saudi sponsors $120m. Built on land where Israel first settled Jews after its 1967 conquest and then removed them in 2005, it is set to open its doors to 11,000 residents in the next few months. Under the baton of the Palestinian Islamist movement, Hamas, thousands more homes, hundreds of schools and half a dozen hospitals are sprouting. Circumventing Israeli and Egyptian restrictions above ground, Gaza’s tunnel complex under the border with Egypt is also facilitating a private construction boom, consisting of around 550 tower blocks.

In the face of Western and regional opposition, Hamas’s plans for making its desert bloom with parks, playgrounds and mosques involve some hiccups. Egypt temporarily closed its borders with Gaza after allegations that militants who killed 16 of its soldiers on August 5th had passed through the tunnels. Israel and Hamas’s Palestinian rivals in the West Bank egged it on. “800 millionaires and 1,600 near-millionaires control the tunnels at the expense of both Egyptian and Palestinian national interests,” fumed the Western-backed Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.

Early hopes that Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Morsi, might put the Hamas genie back in its bottle have subsided. Under his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, donors meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh in March 2009 committed $5 billion to repair damage from Israel’s Gaza war in 2006 and promised to end the siege, but tied the money to Mr Abbas resuming control. But Hamas’s parent organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, has triumphed over Mr Mubarak’s henchmen in Egypt’s elections, and the new president, Mr Morsi, has eased travel restrictions on Palestinians, and met Hamas and its Gaza leaders for the first time.

Tired of waiting for the bickering Palestinians to agree and doubtful that Mr Abbas’s Palestinian Authority (PA) can resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Gulf states are diverting funding to Gaza. The largest single donor, the Saudi-led Islamic Development Bank, is spending $247m, and expects to double that sum by 2014. The UN’s reconstruction programme, much of it Gulf-funded, is bringing $200m into Gaza. Turkey is investing large sums too, including $40m for a teaching hospital for Hamas’s Islamic University which has obligingly added Turkish to its curriculum. Even Israel has lent a helping hand, letting 20,000 tonnes of gravel cross without the usual verification checks that it says are designed to stop Hamas from building military bunkers.

The impact on Gaza is tangible. For the first time in years, Gazans are taking Egyptian package holidays. Hani al-Asi, one of Gaza’s largest furniture manufacturers, says his workforce has grown by 50% over pre-siege levels. So many hospitals are under construction, says Jawdat al-Khudari, who has built two of them, that within five years Gaza will attract visitors for medical treatment. Qatari support could help to pay for three new motorways running the length of the strip—40km (25 miles). The Hamas dream of “Dubai on the Med” now looks a touch less fanciful. “We are not going to live in a prison,” says Mahmoud Zahar, a veteran Hamas power broker.

But while growth rates have been extraordinarily high and unemployment has dropped to its lowest in a decade, Hamas is not altogether free of the siege. Mr Morsi has yet to assent to Hamas’s offer to formalise trade ties and establish a commercial zone on its border in return for closing the tunnels. Power cuts from Gaza’s diesel-powered generator last half the day, slowing the pace of construction. The new wing of Gaza’s main hospital looks impressive, but it will open without air-conditioning because of electrical outages.

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Netanyahu’s Secret War Plan: Leaked Document Outlines Israel’s “Shock and Awe” Plan to Attack Iran

NOVANEWS
By Richard Silverstein
 

Global Research

Tikun Olam-

In the past few days, I received an Israeli briefing document outlining Israel’s war plans against Iran. The document was passed to me by a high-level Israeli source who received it from an IDF officer.  My source, in fact, wrote to me that normally he would not leak this sort of document, but:

“These are not normal times. I’m afraid Bibi and Barak are dead serious.”

The reason they leaked it is to expose the arguments and plans advanced by the Bibi-Barak two-headed warrior. Neither the IDF leaker, my source, nor virtually any senior military or intelligence officer wants this war. While whoever wrote this briefing paper had use of IDF and intelligence data, I don’t believe the IDF wrote it. It feels more likely it came from the shop of national security advisor Yaakov Amidror, a former general, settler true-believer and Bibi confidant.  It could also have been produced by Defense Minister Barak, another pro-war booster.

I’ve translated the document from Hebrew with the help of Dena Shunra.

Before laying out the document, I wanted to place it in context. If you’ve been reading this blog you’ll know that after Bibi’s IDF service he became the marketing director for a furniture company. Recent revelations have suggested that he may have also served in some capacity either formally or informally in the Mossad during that period.

This document is a more sophisticated version of selling bedroom sets and three-piece sectionals. The only difference is that this marketing effort could lead to the death of thousands.

This is Bibi’s sales pitch for war. Its purpose is to be used in meetings with members of the Shminiya , the eight-member security cabinet which currently finds a 4-3 majority opposed to an Iran strike. Bibi uses this sales pitch to persuade the recalcitrant ministers of the cool, clean, refreshing taste of war. My source informs me that it has also been shared in confidence with selected journalists who are in the trusted inner media circle (who, oh who, might they be?).

This is Shock and Awe, Israel-style. It is Bibi’s effort to persuade high-level Israeli officials that Israel can prosecute a pure technology war that involves relatively few human beings (Israeli, that is) who may be put in harm’s way, and will certainly cost few lives of IDF personnel.

Bibi’s sleight of hand here involves no mention whatsoever of an Iranian counter-attack against Israel. The presumption must be that the bells and whistles of all those marvelous new weapons systems will decapitate Iran’s war-making ability and render it paralyzed. The likelihood of this actually happening is nearly nil.

There will be those who will dispute the authenticity of this document. I’m convinced it is what my source claims, based on his prior track record and the level of specificity offered in the document. It references cities by name and the facilities they contain. It names new weapons systems including one Israel supposedly hasn’t even shared with the U.S.

No, it’s real. Or I should say that while it’s real, it is the product of the Israeli dream factory which manufactures threats and then creates fabulist military strategies to address them. The dream factory always breaks the hearts of the families of those whose members fall victim to it. It never produces the result it promises, nor will it do so here.

Remember Bush-era Shock and Awe? Remember those promises of precision-guided cruise missiles raining death upon Saddam Hussein’s Iraq? Remember Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” ceremony on the deck of the USS Lincoln, only six or seven years premature? Remember the promises of decisive victory? Remember 4,000 U.S. dead, not to mention hundreds of thousands of Iraqis?

Now, think of what an Israeli war against Iran could turn into. Think about how this sanitized version of 21st century war could turn into a protracted, bloody conflict closer to the nine-year Iran-Iraq War:

The Israeli attack will open with a coordinated strike, including an unprecedented cyber-attack which will totally paralyze the Iranian regime and its ability to know what is happening within its borders.  The internet, telephones, radio and television, communications satellites, and fiber optic cables leading to and from critical installations—including underground missile bases at Khorramabad and Isfahan—will be taken out of action.  The electrical grid throughout Iran will be paralyzed and transformer stations will absorb severe damage from carbon fiber munitions which are finer than a human hair, causing electrical short circuits whose repair requires their complete removal.  This would be a Sisyphean task in light of cluster munitions which would be dropped, some time-delayed and some remote-activated through the use of a satellite signal.

A barrage of tens of ballistic missiles would be launched from Israel toward Iran.  300km ballistic missiles would be launched from Israeli submarines in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf.  The missiles would not be armed with unconventional warheads [WMD], but rather with high-explosive ordnance equipped with reinforced tips designed specially to penetrate hardened targets.

The missiles will strike their targets—some exploding above ground like those striking the nuclear reactor at Arak–which is intended to produce plutonium and tritium—and the nearby heavy water production facility; the nuclear fuel production facilities at Isfahan and facilities for enriching uranium-hexaflouride.  Others would explode under-ground, as at the Fordo facility.

A barrage of hundreds of cruise missiles will pound command and control systems, research and development facilities, and the residences of senior personnel in the nuclear and missile development apparatus.  Intelligence gathered over years will be utilized to completely decapitate Iran’s professional and command ranks in these fields.

After the first wave of attacks, which will be timed to the second, the “Blue and White” radar satellite, whose systems enable us to perform an evaluation of the level of damage done to the various targets, will pass over Iran.  Only after rapidly decrypting the satellite’s data, will the information be transferred directly to war planes making their way covertly toward Iran.  These IAF planes will be armed with electronic warfare gear previously unknown to the wider public, not even revealed to our U.S. ally.  This equipment will render Israeli aircraft invisible.  Those Israeli war planes which participate in the attack will damage a short-list of targets which require further assault.

Among the targets approved for attack—Shihab 3 and Sejil ballistic missile silos, storage tanks for chemical components of rocket fuel, industrial facilities for producing missile control systems, centrifuge production plants and more.

While the level of specificity in this document is, in some senses, impressive, in one critical aspect it is deficient.  Muhammad Sahimi points out that the current chief of the Revolutionary Guards, when he assumed his position in 2007, deliberately addressed the issue of over-centralization of command and control by dividing the nation into 31 districts.  Each of these has its own independent command and control facilities and mechanisms.  So Israel wouldn’t be able to knock out a single facility and paralyze the IRG.  They’d need to knock out 31 separate sets of facilities–a much harder task.

There seems also to be an assumption that Iran’s leaders and nuclear specialists live nice domestic lives and that Israeli intelligence knows where they all live and can easily target them.  In truth, the most senior Iranian military and scientific figures live clandestine lives and it’s hard for me to believe even the Mossad knows where they are and how to target them.

So it appears that Netanyahu believes he’s fighting Saddam circa 2003.  During that war, the Iraqi Revolutionary Guards were centralized and knocking out one C&C center could decapitate the entire military apparatus.  But Iran has learned from Saddam’s mistakes.  It isn’t fighting the last war as Bibi appears to be.  It is preparing for the next one.  While Israel may have new tricks up its sleeve that no one in the world has yet seen, if it doesn’t understand the nature of the enemy, its defenses, its structure, etc. then it can’t win.

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Zio-Nazi official admits ‘extensive connections’ with Syrian NATO puppets

NOVANEWS

By Maidhc Ó Cathail

The Passionate Attachment

A Press TV report provides further evidence of what readers of The Passionate Attachment have known for some time — Israel has been quietly but unequivocally supporting regime change in Damascus:

Deputy Minister for the Development of the Negev and the Galilee Ayoob Kara’s bureau chief has met with Syrian insurgents in Bulgaria as Tel Aviv’s official envoy.

Mendi Safadi held the meeting during his recent visit to Bulgaria.

Israel’s ambassador to Sofia said he was not aware of the schedule for the meeting, and was left out of the talks.

Safadi, however, insisted that his trip to Bulgaria was at the request of an unnamed body within the Israeli regime.

He claimed to have extensive connections with Syrian insurgents, hinting that he had organized meetings between Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and anti-Damascus figures.

Sadafi said there are things that he could not tell the media.

The meeting comes on the heels of remarks made by Israeli spy chief Dan Meridor, who had voiced Tel Aviv’s support for a regime change in Syria.

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The Yinon Thesis Vindicated: Neocons, IsraHell, and the Fragmentation of Syria

NOVANEWS

America’s unrequited love for IsraHell

By Stephen J. Sniegoski

The Passionate Attachment

It is widely realized now that the fall of President Bashar Assad’s regime would leave Syria riven by bitter ethnic, religious, and ideological conflict that could splinter the country into smaller enclaves. Already there has been a demographic shift in this direction, as both Sunnis and Alawites flee the most dangerous parts of the county, seeking refuge within their own particular communities. Furthermore, it is widely believed in Syria that, as the entire country becomes too difficult to secure, the Assad regime will retreat to an Alawite redoubt in the northern coastal region as a fallback position.

Syrian Kurds, about ten percent of the country’s population, are also interested in gaining autonomy or joining with a larger Kurdistan. The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Party (PYD)—linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has engaged in a separatist insurgency in Turkey’s Kurdish southeast region for nearly three decades—has gained control of key areas in northeast Syria. While Turkey has supported the Syrian opposition, it is terrified of a Kurdish autonomous zone in Syria, believing that it could provide a safe haven for staging attacks into Turkey. Moreover, Kurdish autonomy would encourage separatist sentiment within the Turkish Kurdish minority. Turkey has threatened to invade the border areas of Syria to counter such a development and Turkish armed forces with armor have been sent to Turkey’s border with the Syrian Kurdish region. A Turkish invasion would add further complexities to the fracturing of Syria.

What has not been readily discussed in reference to this break-up of Syria is that the Israeli and global Zionist Right has long sought the fragmentation of Israel’s enemies so as to weaken them and thus enhance Israel’s primacy in the Middle East. While elements of this geostrategic view can be traced back to even before the creation of the modern state of Israel, the concept of destabilizing and fragmenting enemies seems to have been first articulated as an overall Israeli strategy by Oded Yinon in his 1982 piece, “A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties.” Yinon had been attached to the Israeli Foreign Ministry and his article undoubtedly reflected high-level thinking in the Israeli military and intelligence establishment in the years of Likudnik Menachem Begin’s leadership. Israel Shahak’s translation of Yinon’s article was titled “The Zionist Plan for the Middle East.”

 

In this article, Yinon called for Israel to use military means to bring about the dissolution of Israel’s neighboring states and their fragmentation into a mosaic of homogenous ethnic and sectarian groupings. Yinon believed that it would not be difficult to achieve this result because nearly all the Arab states were afflicted with internal ethnic and religious divisions, and held together only by force. In essence, the end result would be a Middle East of powerless mini-statelets unable to confront Israeli power. Lebanon, then facing divisive chaos, was Yinon’s model for the entire Middle East. Yinon wrote: “Lebanon’s total dissolution into five provinces serves as a precedent for the entire Arab world including Egypt, Syria, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula and is already following that track. The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target.”

Eminent Middle East historian, Bernard Lewis, who is a Zionist of a rightist hue and one of the foremost intellectual gurus for the neoconservatives, echoed Yinon with an article in the September 1992 issue of “Foreign Affairs” titled “Rethinking the Middle East.” In it, he wrote of a development he called “Lebanonization,” stating “[A] possibility, which could even be precipitated by [Islamic] fundamentalism, is what has of late been fashionable to call ‘Lebanonization.’ Most of the states of the Middle East—Egypt is an obvious exception—are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common identity. . . . The state then disintegrates—as happened in Lebanon—into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions, and parties.” Since Lewis— credited with coining the phrase “clash of civilizations”—has been a major advocate of a belligerent stance for the West against the Islamic states, it would appear that he realized that such fragmentation would be the result of his belligerent policy.

In 1996, the neoconservatives presented to incoming Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu their study “A Clean Break” (produced under the auspices of an Israeli think tank, the Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies), which described how Israel could enhance its regional security by toppling enemy regimes. Although this work did not explicitly focus on the fragmentation of states, such was implied in regard to Syria when it stated that “Israel can shape its strategic environment, in cooperation with Turkey and Jordan, by weakening, containing, and even rolling back Syria. This effort can focus on removing Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq — an important Israeli strategic objective in its own right — as a means of foiling Syria’s regional ambitions.” It added that “Damascus fears that the ‘natural axis’ with Israel on one side, central Iraq and Turkey on the other, and Jordan, in the center would squeeze and detach Syria from the Saudi Peninsula. For Syria, this could be the prelude to a redrawing of the map of the Middle East which would threaten Syria’s territorial integrity.”

David Wurmser authored a much longer follow-up document to “A Clean Break” for the same Israeli think tank, entitled “Coping with Crumbling States: A Western and Israeli Balance of Power Strategy for the Levant.” In this work, Wurmser emphasized the fragile nature of the Middle Eastern Baathist dictatorships in Iraq and Syria in line with Lewis’s thesis, and how the West and Israel should act in such an environment.

In contrast to some of the Western democracies as well as Arab states, Israel did not publicly call for Assad’s removal until a few months ago. This, however, does not mean that the Netanyahu government did not support this outcome. This tardiness has a number of likely reasons, one of which being the fear that an Islamist government would replace Assad that would be even more hostile to Israel and more prone than he to launch reckless attacks. Moreover, instability in a country on Israel’s border is of tremendous concern to its security establishment. It is feared that in such a chaotic condition, Assad’s massive chemical weapons arsenal and advanced surface-to-air missile systems could end up in the hands of terrorist groups like the Lebanese Hezbollah, which would not be hesitant to use them against Israel.

Unlike the armchair destabilization strategists and the neocons, the actual Israeli leaders, including hardline Likudniks such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have to be concerned about facing the immediate negative political consequences of their decisions even if they believe that the long-term benefits would accrue to the country. This invariably leads to the exercise of caution in regard to dramatic change. Thus, the concern about the immediate security risks cited above likely had a significant effect on their decision-making.

Furthermore, it could have been counterproductive for Israel to express support for the Syrian opposition in its early stages. For Assad has repeatedly maintained that the opposition is orchestrated by foreign powers, using this argument to justify his brutal crackdown. Since Israel is hated by virtually all elements in the Middle East, its open support of the opposition could have turned many Syrians, and much of the overall Arab world, against the uprising. While Israel did not openly support the armed resistance, there have been claims from reliable sources that Israeli intelligence has been providing some degree of covert support along with other Western intelligence agencies, including that of the United States.

Since May of this year, however, the Israeli government has become open in its support for the overthrow of the Assad regime. In June, Netanyahu condemned the ongoing massacre of Syrian civilians by Assad, blaming the violence on an “Axis of Evil,” consisting of Iran, Syria and Hezbollah. “Iran and Hezbollah are an inseparable part of the Syrian atrocities and the world needs to act against them,” he proclaimed. This inclusion of Iran and Hezbollah illustrates Israel’s goal of using the Syrian humanitarian issue to advance its own national interest.

If the Assad regime were to fall, Israel would certainly be more secure with a splintered congeries of small statelets than a unified Syria under an anti-Israel Islamist regime. Consequently, staunch neoconservative Harold Rhode presents the fragmentation scenario in a positive light in his article, “Will Syria Remain a Unified State?” (July 10, 2012). In contrast to what has been the conventional Western narrative of the uprising against the Assad regime, which presents a heroic Sunni resistance being brutally terrorized by government forces and pro-government Alawite militias, Rhode writes with sympathy for the pro-government non-Sunni Syrian minorities: “In short, what stands behind most of the violence in Syria is the rise of Arab Sunni fundamentalism in its various forms – whether Salafi, Wahhabi, or Muslim Brotherhood. All of those threaten the very existence of the Alawites, the Kurds, and other members of the non-Sunni ethnic and religious groups.

“It is therefore much easier to understand why the ruling Alawites feel they are fighting a life and death battle with the Sunnis, and why they believe they must spare no effort to survive. It also explains why most of Syria’s other minorities – such as the Druze, Ismailis, and Christians – still largely support the Assad regime.”

For a short aside, the neoconservative background of Harold Rhode is of considerable relevance, providing further evidence for the much denied neocon support for the fragmentation of Israel’s enemies. (The mainstream view is that the neocons are naïve idealists whose plans to transform dictatorships into model democracies invariably go awry.) Rhode, a longtime Pentagon official who was a specialist on the Middle East, was closely associated with neocon stalwarts Michael Ledeen, Paul Wolfowitz, and Richard Perle.

He was also a protégé of Bernard Lewis, with Lewis dedicating his 2003 book, “The Crisis of Islam,” to him. Rhode served as a Middle East specialist for Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy during the administration of George W. Bush, where he was closely involved with the Office of Special Plans, which provided spurious propaganda to promote support for the war on Iraq. Rhode was a participant in the Larry Franklin affair, which involved dealings with Israeli agents, though Rhode was not charged with any crime. Alan Weisman, the author of the biography of Richard Perle, refers to Rhode as an “ardent Zionist” (“Prince of Darkness: Richard Perle,” p.146), more pro-Israel than Perle, which takes some doing since the latter has been accused of handing classified material to the Israelis. Rhode is currently a fellow with the ultra-Zionist Gatestone Institute, for which he wrote the above article.

Obviously the very removal of the Assad regime would be a blow against Israel’s major enemy, Iran, since Syria is Iran’s major ally. Significantly, Assad’s Syria has provided a conduit for arms and assistance from Iran to Hezbollah and, to a lesser extent, Hamas, to use against Israel. If Israel and Iran had gone to war, these arms would have posed a significant threat to the Israeli populace. Moreover, a defanged Hezbollah would not be able to oppose Israeli military incursions into south Lebanon or even Syria.

A fragmented Syria removes the possible negative ramifications of Assad’s removal since it would mean that even if the Islamists should replace Assad in Damascus they would only have a rump Syrian state to control, leaving them too weak to do much damage to Israel and forcing them to focus their attention on the hostile statelets bordering them. Moreover, Israel is purportedly contemplating military action to prevent Assad’s chemical weapons from falling into the hands of anti-Israel terrorists. With such a divided country there is no powerful army capable of standing up to an Israeli military incursion.

The benefits accruing to Israel from the downfall of the Assad regime and the concomitant sectarian fragmentation and conflict in Syria go beyond the Levant to include the entire Middle East region. For sectarian violence in Syria is likely to cause an intensification of the warfare between Sunnis and Shiites throughout the entire Middle East region. Iran might retaliate against Saudi Arabia’s and Qatar’s support for the Syrian opposition by fanning the flames of Shiite Muslim revolution in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s oil-rich and majority Shiite Eastern Province. Both areas have witnessed intermittent periods of violent protest and brutal government suppression since the Arab Spring of 2011. And Iraq remains a tinderbox ready to explode into ethno-sectarian war among the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds, with violence already on an uptick since the formal departure of American troops in December 2011.

In assessing the current regional situation, American-born Barry Rubin, professor at the Interdisciplinary Center (Herzliya, Israel) and director of its Global Research in International Affairs Center, writes in the Jerusalem Post (“The Region: Israel is in good shape,” July 15, 2012) : “The more I think about Israel’s security situation at this moment, the better it looks.” He goes on to state: “By reentering a period of instability and continuing conflict within each country, the Arabic-speaking world is committing a self-induced setback. Internal battles will disrupt Arab armies and economies, reducing their ability to fight against Israel. Indeed, nothing could be more likely to handicap development than Islamist policies.”

It should be noted that the “period of instability and continuing conflict” in the Middle East region has been the result of regime change and is in line with the thinking of Oded Yinon who, along with the other aforementioned geostrategic thinkers, pointed out that the major countries of the Middle East were inherently fissiparous and only held together by authoritarian regimes.

America’s removal of Saddam in a war spearheaded by the pro-Israel neoconservatives served to intensify Sunni-Shiite regional hostility and, in a sense, got the destabilization ball rolling. Iran is targeted now, and Israel and its neocon supporters seek to make use of dissatisfied internal elements, political and ethnic—the radical MEK, democratic secularists, monarchists, Kurds, Arabs, Baluchis, and Azeris— to bring down the Islamic regime.

And while Saudi Arabia is currently serving Israeli interests by opposing Iran, should the Islamic Republic of Iran fall, Israel and their supporters would likely turn to Saudi Arabia’s dismemberment, seeking the severance of the predominantly Shiite, oil-rich Eastern Province, with some neocons already having made such a suggestion—e.g., Max Singer, Richard Perle, and David Frum (schemes which have been put on ice while Israel and its supporters have focused on Iran). If everything went according to plan, the end result would be a Middle East composed of disunited states, or mini-states, involved in intractable, internecine conflict, which would make it impossible for them to confront Israeli power and to provide any challenge to Israel’s control of Palestine. The essence of Yinon’s geostrategic vision of Israeli preeminence would be achieved.

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CIA considers IsraHell one of its biggest spy threats

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By Maidhc Ó Cathail

The Passionate Attachment

In “Best of friends? CIA considers Israel one of its biggest spy threats,” Russia Today reports:

While US politicians boast strong ties with Israel, CIA officials suggest Israel is one of its biggest counter-intelligence threats. With spyware that rivals that of American agencies, it is extremely difficult to detect the extent of its spying.

In a CIA ranking of the world’s intelligence agencies and their willingness to help the US fight the War on Terror, Israel fell below Libya.

Speaking to the Associated Press on condition of anonymity, current and former US intelligence officials blame Israel for incidents that indicate attempts to acquire secret information.

One CIA station chief noticed that the communication equipment that he used to contact CIA headquarters from Israel had been tampered with, even though it was in a locked box. Another CIA officer based in Israel had his home broken into. While nothing was stolen, the officer noticed his food had been rearranged.

In addition to home intrusions and equipment tampering, CIA officials also suspect that a leak by Israel led to the capture and presumed death of an important US agent inside Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The US suspects that Israel’s foreign intelligence service, Mossad, and its FBI equivalent, the Shin Bet, have been trying to steal American counter-intelligence secrets. In the CIA’s Near East Division, which oversees spying across the Middle East, Israel is considered the main counter-intelligence threat. This suggests that counter-intelligence secrets are thus safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel.

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IsraHell is the only real winner of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’

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America’s unrequited love for Israel

By Maidhc Ó Cathail

The Passionate Attachment

Award-winning Iranian journalist Kourosh Ziabari recently interviewed me about the ongoing destabilization of the Middle East and North Africa commonly referred to as the Arab Spring.

KZ: In a recent article in the Washington Post, Charles Krauthammer wrote that the SCAF hastily dissolved the Egyptian parliament because the majority of members of parliament elected in the post-Mubarak elections were Islamists. Does Mohammad Morsi’s acceptance of the military council’s decision denote that he might be inclined toward the West? The U.S. Secretary of State Clinton has just paid a visit to Egypt and met with President Morsi. Are these signs indicative of the fact that Morsi has a pro-Western attitude and may betray the Egyptian Revolution?

MÓC: First of all, I don’t believe that there was a genuine revolution in Egypt in the first place. Like the “colour revolutions” in Serbia, Georgia, Ukraine and elsewhere, the so-called “Arab Spring” was orchestrated by the regime change specialists at the National Endowment for Democracy, Freedom House, the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict and the wider network of groups engaged in what is euphemistically called “democracy promotion.” While the mainstream media cannot openly admit this, they have given some strong hints. For example, a New York Times report in April 2011, aptly entitled “U.S. Groups Helped Nurture Arab Uprisings,” acknowledged that “as American officials and others look back at the uprisings of the Arab Spring, they are seeing that the United States’ democracy-building campaigns played a bigger role in fomenting protests than was previously known, with key leaders of the movements having been trained by the Americans in campaigning, organizing through new media tools and monitoring elections.” Unless we are to believe that these “democracy-building campaigns” were not intended to undermine authoritarian regimes like Mubarak’s, then there’s no “revolution” for the American-educated Morsi to betray. Interestingly, it appears that it was Krauthammer, a Guardian of Zion awardee, who was the first to use the term “Arab Spring.” In the same 2005 piece, he presciently wrote, “The democracy project is, of course, just beginning.”

KZ: What will be, in your view, the attitude of the new government in Egypt toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Prior to the elections, the Israelis were extremely worried that an Islamist president might revoke the Camp David Accords. However, Morsi hasn’t decided to do so. Will the new government in Egypt support the Palestinian resistance front?

MÓC: One has to distinguish between what Israeli officials say publicly and what they think privately. If Tel Aviv was genuinely worried about an Islamist government revoking the Camp David Accords, then why has its American lobby been so supportive of a democratic transition to civilian rule in Cairo, knowing full well that this would increase the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood?

A recent article featured on the website of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA) gives a clearer insight into Israeli strategic thinking. Entitled “Is Israel the Winner of the Arab Spring?” the piece concludes that “the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ has, paradoxically, made Israel stronger as Israel’s enemies have turned on each other.” As the JINSA fellow astutely observes, “The Egyptian body politic may indeed be more hostile to the Jewish State, but its capabilities for acting on that hostility have markedly declined.”

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Rep. Joe Walsh Claims Muslims in America are “Trying to Kill Americans Every Week”

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opposingviews.com

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), last Wednesday, told a town hall that Muslims in America are “trying to kill Americans every week,” reports WBBM-TV (video below).

Rep. Walsh said: “One thing I’m sure of is that there are people in this country, there is a radical strain of Islam in this country, it’s not just over there, trying to kill Americans every week. It is a real threat, and it is a threat that is much more at home now than it was after 9/11.”

“It’s here. It’s in Elk Grove. It’s in Addison. It’s in Elgin. It’s here. This is one thing I want my government to do is protecting us against this threat, because let’s be honest, folks, it is a threat.”

Ahmet Rehab of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said that Rep. Walsh’s comments are “consistent with the rise of the radical right, and the insistence by some in the Republican Party that Americans should be suspicious and fearful of fellow Americans. It’s just ridiculous. It’s preying on a vulnerable minority for political points.”

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Preparing the public for war–Securing Syria chemical weapons may take ‘tens of thousands of troops’

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Reuters

The United States and its allies are discussing a worst-case scenario that could require tens of thousands of ground troops to go into Syria to secure chemical and biological weapons sites following the fall of President Bashar al-Assad’s government, according to U.S. and diplomatic officials.

These secret discussions assume that all of Assad’s security forces disintegrate, leaving chemical and biological weapons sites in Syria vulnerable to pillaging. The scenario also assumes these sites could not be secured or destroyed solely through aerial bombings, given health and environmental risks.

A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity to explain the sensitive discussions, said the United States still had no plans to put boots on the ground in Syria. President Barack Obama’s administration has, in fact, so far refused to provide lethal support to the rebels fighting to oust Assad’s regime and the Pentagon has played down the possibility of implementing a no-fly zone anytime soon.

“There is not a imminent plan to deploy ground forces. This is, in fact, a worst-case scenario,” the official said, adding U.S. forces would likely play a role in such a mission.

Two diplomatic sources, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said as many as 50,000 or 60,000 ground forces may be needed if officials’ worst fears are realized, plus additional support forces.

Even a force of 60,000 troops, however, would not be large enough for peacekeeping and would only be the amount required to secure the weapons sites – despite some of the appearances of a Iraq-style occupation force, the diplomatic sources cautioned.

It is unclear at this stage how such a military mission would be organized and which nations might participate. But some European allies have indicated they are unlikely to join, the sources said.

The White House declined comment on specific contingency plans. Spokesman Tommy Vietor said that while the U.S. government believes the chemical weapons are under the Syrian government’s control, “Given the escalation of violence in Syria, and the regime’s increasing attacks on the Syrian people, we remain very concerned about these weapons.

“In addition to monitoring their stockpiles, we are actively consulting with Syria’s neighbors – and our friends in the international community – to underscore our common concern about the security of these weapons, and the Syrian government’s obligation to secure them,” Vietor said.

The Pentagon declined to comment.

POTENTIALLY DOZENS OF SITES

While there is no complete accounting of Syria’s unconventional weapons, it is widely believed to have stockpiles of nerve agents such as VX, sarin and tabun.

The U.S. official said there were potentially dozens of chemical and biological weapons sites scattered around the country.

Securing them could not be left to an aerial bombing, which could lead to the dispersion of those agents, the official said.

“There could be second-order effects that could be extremely problematic,” the official said of aerial bombing.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last month that it was important that Syrian security forces be held together when Assad is forced from power, citing, in particular, their ability to secure chemical weapons sites.

“They do a pretty good job of securing those sites,” Panetta said in an interview with CNN in July. “If they suddenly walked away from that, it would be a disaster to have those chemical weapons fall into the wrong hands, hands of Hezbollah or other extremists in that area.”

The United States, Israel and Western powers have been discussing the nightmarish possibility that some of Assad’s chemical weapons could make their way to militant groups – al-Qaeda style Sunni Jihadi insurgents or pro-Iranian Shi’ite Lebanese fighters from Hezbollah.

Some Western intelligence sources suggested that Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, both close allies of Syria, might try to get hold of the chemical weapons in the case of a total collapse of government authority.

Syria began to acquire the ability to develop and produce chemical weapons agents in 1973, including mustard gas and sarin, and possibly also VX nerve agent.

Precise quantities and configurations of chemical weapons in the Syrian stockpile are not known. However, the CIA has estimated that Syria possesses several hundred liters of chemical weapons and produces hundreds of tonnes of agents annually.

The Global Security website, which collects published intelligence reports and other data, says there are several suspected chemical weapons facilities in Syria.

Analysts have also identified the town of Cerin, on the coast, as a possible production site for biological weapons.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Preparing the public for war–Securing Syria chemical weapons may take ‘tens of thousands of troops’

NY state senator poses with weapon on Syria border

NOVANEWS

A photo released on August 15, 2012 shows NY State Sen. David Storobin (L) and his chief of staff, Paul Gullo, (R) with Israeli Gen. Shmulik Olansky (C) on the Syrian border.

A photo released on August 15, 2012 shows NY State Sen. David Storobin (L) and his chief of staff, Paul Gullo, (R) with Israeli Gen. Shmulik Olansky (C) on the Syrian border.
A New York state senator has taken up arms while posing for a picture in an Israeli army uniform on the Syrian border during an official trip to Israel.

A New York state senator has been photographed with a weapon in his hands and posing for a picture in an Israeli army uniform on the Syrian border during an official trip to Israel.

A photo posted online on August 15 showed State Sen. David Storobin in an Israeli army uniform and with a rifle in his hands side-by-side with Israeli officers.

Storobin, who is running for reelection as a Republican, is seen standing next to Gen. Shculik Olansky, who is in charge of Israel’s Golan Heights Armor Division.

Storobin’s chief of staff, Paul Gullo, also appears in the image released by Storobin’s campaign.

The provocative move is the latest show of US support for armed gangs attempting to topple the Syrian government.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since March 2011. Damascus says outlaws, saboteurs, and armed terrorists are the driving factor behind the unrest and deadly violence while the opposition accuses the security forces of being behind the killings.

The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the armed militants are foreign nationals, mostly from Egypt, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, and Afghanistan.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on NY state senator poses with weapon on Syria border

Attack on Iran will bring destruction of Israel – Ahmadinejad

NOVANEWS
Iran's President Mahmud Ahmadinejad  (AFP Photo / Vanderlei Almeida)

Iran’s President Mahmud Ahmadinejad (AFP Photo / Vanderlei Almeida)

Tehran and Iran-backed Lebanese group Hezbollah warn of cataclysmic retaliation against an Israeli attack, threatening to make the country “a living hell.” The statements come amidst reports of that Israel is preparing a unilateral strike on Iran.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said his party had already fixed targets in Israel and would be able to hit them with a small number of rockets if Tel Aviv decides to attack first.

If we are forced to use them to protect our people and our country, we will not hesitate to do so… and that will turn the lives of hundreds of thousands of Zionists into a living hell,” Nasrallah warned in a speech on Quds Day, an annual event to show solidarity with Palestinians under occupation using the Arabic name for Jerusalem.

Nasrallah also predicted that an Israeli strike on Iran would bring an “enormous response” from the Islamic Republic, giving it “the opportunity it has been dreaming of” since 1979.

Israeli military leaders have been signaling that they may attack the Lebanese group’s militant factions in the near future if rocket strikes against Israeli targets continue.

If we get to another war, Israel will hit Hezbollah decisively, quickly, as fast as we can in order to stop the fire from Lebanon,” Brig. General Herzi Halevi, the commander of the Israeli Defense Forces’ northern division, said last month, also warning that South Lebanese towns used by Hezbollah as launching pads would be “destroyed.

The leader’s diatribe against Israel was not dissimilar to a speech given by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Friday.

The Zionist regime and the Zionists are a cancerous tumor,” he declared in remarks at Tehran University. “The nations of the region will soon finish off the usurper Zionists in the Palestinian land.

He went on to say that a “new” Middle East, free of US and “Zionist” influence, would then be formed.

State television showed huge crowds gathering for rallies in Tehran and other major cities to mark Quds Day, which was established in 1979 by the late founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.

The latest tirades come amidst growing speculation that Israel is planning to carry out a unilateral strike against Iran, who it suspects is trying to produce nuclear weapons. While the US shares similar fears, Washington has strayed from its usual adherence to Israeli policy, instead insisting on pressuring Tehran with sanctions, calling military force an absolute last resort.

Iran has maintained that its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes only, an assertion shared by most international experts. Nevertheless, Tehran says Israel would regret going forward with a military strike against it.

If they make a mistake, our nation’s reaction will lead to the end of the Zionist regime,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ramin Mehmanparast was quoted by the ISNA news agency as saying. He also noted that Israel knows it does not have the ability to successfully attack Iran.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the anti-Israel statements made by Ahmadinejad.

“The Secretary-General is dismayed by the remarks threatening Israel’s existence attributed over the last two days to the Supreme Leader and the President of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The Secretary-General condemns these offensive and inflammatory statements,” the UN said.

“The Secretary-General believes that all leaders in the region should use their voices at this time to lower, rather than to escalate, tensions. In accordance with the United Nations Charter, all members must refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.”

In the meantime, many Israelis have been signing petitions urging their leaders and military not to strike Iran.

Tel Aviv has been giving all the signs that a pre-emptive attack against Iranian nuclear sites may be immanent. Emergency text messaging systems have been tested in some cities, and gas mask sales have been on the rise. Defense Minister Ehud Barak recently discussed the possible fallout from strike on Iran with Israel’s new Ambassador to China, Matan Vilnai.

While Iran and Israel have never gone to war with each other, Israel tried to rid Lebanon of Hezbollah unsuccessfully with a military assault in 2006 that drew an international outcry over allegations of war crimes. Israel and Lebanon have been in a state of war ever since, and Israeli officials accuse Hezbollah of carrying out the last month’s deadly bus bombing in Bulgaria that killed five Israeli tourists and a local bus driver.

Posted in IranComments Off on Attack on Iran will bring destruction of Israel – Ahmadinejad

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