Archive | December 10th, 2013

Nazi Ya’alon: Iran building terror infrastructure to strike US

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Nazi Defense minister warns of danger posed by Iran’s terror cells in Central and South America, and of the regime’s global aspirations

Times of Israel

Iran has built an infrastructure of terror in Central and South America in order to, among other goals, target Israelis and Jews there and have a base from which to attack the US, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon said Monday.

Ya’alon, meeting with Guatemalan President Otto Fernando Perez Molina, himself a former director of military intelligence, warned that Iran, which operates the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah as a proxy, was using diplomatic cover to spread terror in the Western Hemisphere.

“The Iranians use diplomatic mail [pouches] in order to transport bombs and weapons, and we know that there are states in South America, like Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia, where the Iranian have terror bases, both in the embassies and among the local Shiite Muslim populations,” Ya’alon said.

“They built this infrastructure for the eventuality that they will have to act against Jews, Israelis or Israeli interests, but it is important to them as an infrastructure that enables them to act within the United States,” he added.

Ya’alon cited a the recent foiling of an Iranian plan to assassinate the Saudi ambassador in Washington, and said the country was using drug smuggling routes to sneak weapons into the US.

The comments came amid a US détente with Iran that led, in November, to an interim deal that paused but did not disable the country’s nuclear program. The US and Israel disagree both on the terms of a permanent agreement and the nature and significance of Iran’s recent warming to the West.

Meeting with Molina earlier in the day, Netanyahu called for the international community to clamp down on Iran’s military and nuclear capabilities, reiterating a demand made the night before in an address to the Saban Forum in Washington.

“Here’s what this means: no enrichment, no centrifuges, no heavy water reactor, no weapons program, no ballistic missiles and a change in Iran’s policies — no genocide against Israel, no terrorist support, no undermining of regimes in the Middle East,” he said, according to a statement from his office.

Molina told Netanyahu that his country shared concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.

“It is a tradition for Guatemala, we have always been in favor of nonproliferation of nuclear weapons, both in Latin America as well as in the rest of the world, and we hope that this concern that we can see today, which is a great threat to the State of Israel, will find a resolution as soon as possible,” he said, according to the statement.

Ya’alon, who has been in lockstep with Netanyahu on Iran, said that the global terror infrastructure is indicative of the regime’s aspirations. The regime, he said, is willing to go to great lengths in order to spread the Islamic revolution around the world. In the Middle East, he said, Iran supports whoever seeks to harm Israel or the West.

“Their goal is regional and global hegemony, today through terror and subversiveness. That’s why they want a nuclear bomb, both in order to protect the regime and as a nuclear security policy that will allow them to accelerate their diplomatic subversiveness,” he said. “This is a threat to the stability of the world, and therefore we insist that one way or another it’s impermissible for them to get the bomb.”

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Zionist woman with mental health problems leaps from 2nd-floor window with young son

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Times of Israel

An Israeli woman leaped from a second-floor window with her seven-year-old son in her arms on Sunday night, landing on the roof of a car.

The woman, 47, from Kfar Habad, and her son were hospitalized at Assaf Harofeh Medical Center, near Tel Aviv, with moderate injuries to their limbs from the 10-meter drop. According to Army Radio, the woman was known to suffer from mental health problems.

Channel 2 reported that the woman became alarmed when, shortly after midnight, her husband knocked on the front door of their apartment, demanding to be let in. The woman didn’t believe that it was really her husband outside and, panicking, tried to escape by jumping out the window, the report said.

Although police arrested the woman, they were not immediately able to question her due to her injuries. They intended to arraign her at the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court later on Monday.

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WAKE UP AMERICA: First Med EMS shuts down leaving hundreds unemployed two weeks before Christmas

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Employees told 13News Now there will be an informational meeting on Monday morning, but with the shutdown having already happened, they were unsure what the meeting would be about.  All of the employees at the meeting declined comment. When 13News Now called the business they gave the following statement:  “The company is no longer in business. At this time they are not giving any explanation for their sudden closure. No further comment.”  Bertie County officials declared a State of Emergency here Monday morning after learning its emergency medical provider has opted to abruptly end service to the county only two months in to a five-year agreement, Mitch Cooper with Bertie EMS told 13News Now. Cooper said the county officially learned the news at an emergency meeting of the Bertie Board of Commissioners and First Med will cease operations effective Wednesday. Statement from Bertie County PORTSMOUTH — A company which provides emergency and non-emergency medical transportation services, as well as contract emergency medical services to some localities, has apparently shut down without notice leaving hundreds of employees without a job just two weeks before Christmas – not to mention potentially disrupting medical transport services throughout the area. First Med EMS, with its corporate offices in Wilmington, N.C. informed employees on Friday and Saturday that they no longer had a job. 13News Now reached out to a company spokesperson, but have not received a reply. An online report says, “First Med operates from 65 offices, in 6 states, with over 650 vehicles, providing over 500,000 transports per year.” “I literally burst into tears, it was so unnerving and upsetting, especially two weeks before Christmas,” said Crystal Bagwell, a First Med employee who drove 2 hours to work in Hampton. In Hampton Roads, First Med EMS owns and operates Eastern Shore Ambulance Services and Mar Mac Ambulance Services. 13News Now has been contacted by dozens of these employees, who have told us how the local shutdown has affected them. “The director for the Hampton office called me. She let me know effectively immediately they would be closing their doors and that the company was filing for bankruptcy,” said Joshua Beavers, who worked part time at Mar Mac. News reports online indicate that First Med subsidiaries in other states shut down at the same time. The company says it provides 500,000 medical transports a year. Many of those are dialysis patients, who are now left looking for an alternative way to get to and from treatment. “I’m not ready to plan his funeral,” said Maggie Williams, who cares for her diabetic brother on the Eastern Shore.”But if he doesn’t get his [dialysis] treatment, that’s exactly what’s going to happen.” Besides medical transportation, First Med EMS also provides privatized contract emergency medical services in some localities, such as Bertie County. 13News Now contacted Mitch Cooper, Director of Emergency Management in Bertie County, who told us, “The EMS services provided by First Med in Bertie County are still in operation. I have been told operations will continue as normal. I have no other information at this time.” Gathering information about First Med EMS is difficult because their website and social media have been completely shut down since Saturday morning. We contacted all four local major health care providers to try and determine how they might be affected. Chesapeake Regional Medical Center said they were aware of the situation, but so far have not been affected as other transportation providers have been able to fill the gaps. Bon Secours replied, but had no information available. According to an email from Riverside:  “I understand that First Med EMS is no longer operating and they did provide patient transport for Riverside. Currently, we are using other vendors in the area and we also have our own patient transport.” According to Sentara spokesman Dale Gauding, Sentara has its own ambulance service, Medical Transport, LLC, which is the largest private ambulance service in the state.  Only our service and City of Richmond are certified by CAAS, the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services. Gauding said he believes there were about 30 extra runs for Medical Transport over the weekend and they increased their staff as soon as they heard. There are other ambulance agencies in the region as well, so, it’s doubtful there were any missed calls over the weekend, Gauding said. Former employees of First Med are already leaning on one another for help. A Facebook campaign was established on Saturday to help collect toys for the children of affected workers.

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Whose sarin?

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lrb.co.uk

Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.

In his nationally televised speech about Syria on 10 September, Obama laid the blame for the nerve gas attack on the rebel-held suburb of Eastern Ghouta firmly on Assad’s government, and made it clear he was prepared to back up his earlier public warnings that any use of chemical weapons would cross a ‘red line’: ‘Assad’s government gassed to death over a thousand people,’ he said. ‘We know the Assad regime was responsible … And that is why, after careful deliberation, I determined that it is in the national security interests of the United States to respond to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons through a targeted military strike.’ Obama was going to war to back up a public threat, but he was doing so without knowing for sure who did what in the early morning of 21 August.

He cited a list of what appeared to be hard-won evidence of Assad’s culpability: ‘In the days leading up to August 21st, we know that Assad’s chemical weapons personnel prepared for an attack near an area where they mix sarin gas. They distributed gas masks to their troops. Then they fired rockets from a regime-controlled area into 11 neighbourhoods that the regime has been trying to wipe clear of opposition forces.’ Obama’s certainty was echoed at the time by Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, who told the New York Times: ‘No one with whom I’ve spoken doubts the intelligence’ directly linking Assad and his regime to the sarin attacks.

But in recent interviews with intelligence and military officers and consultants past and present, I found intense concern, and on occasion anger, over what was repeatedly seen as the deliberate manipulation of intelligence. One high-level intelligence officer, in an email to a colleague, called the administration’s assurances of Assad’s responsibility a ‘ruse’. The attack ‘was not the result of the current regime’, he wrote. A former senior intelligence official told me that the Obama administration had altered the available information – in terms of its timing and sequence – to enable the president and his advisers to make intelligence retrieved days after the attack look as if it had been picked up and analysed in real time, as the attack was happening. The distortion, he said, reminded him of the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident, when the Johnson administration reversed the sequence of National Security Agency intercepts to justify one of the early bombings of North Vietnam. The same official said there was immense frustration inside the military and intelligence bureaucracy: ‘The guys are throwing their hands in the air and saying, “How can we help this guy” – Obama – “when he and his cronies in the White House make up the intelligence as they go along?”’

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The complaints focus on what Washington did not have: any advance warning from the assumed source of the attack. The military intelligence community has for years produced a highly classified early morning intelligence summary, known as the Morning Report, for the secretary of defence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; a copy also goes to the national security adviser and the director of national intelligence. The Morning Report includes no political or economic information, but provides a summary of important military events around the world, with all available intelligence about them. A senior intelligence consultant told me that some time after the attack he reviewed the reports for 20 August through 23 August. For two days – 20 and 21 August – there was no mention of Syria. On 22 August the lead item in the Morning Report dealt with Egypt; a subsequent item discussed an internal change in the command structure of one of the rebel groups in Syria. Nothing was noted about the use of nerve gas in Damascus that day. It was not until 23 August that the use of sarin became a dominant issue, although hundreds of photographs and videos of the massacre had gone viral within hours on YouTube, Facebook and other social media sites. At this point, the administration knew no more than the public.

Obama left Washington early on 21 August for a hectic two-day speaking tour in New York and Pennsylvania; according to the White House press office, he was briefed later that day on the attack, and the growing public and media furore. The lack of any immediate inside intelligence was made clear on 22 August, when Jen Psaki, a spokesperson for the State Department, told reporters: ‘We are unable to conclusively determine [chemical weapons] use. But we are focused every minute of every day since these events happened … on doing everything possible within our power to nail down the facts.’ The administration’s tone had hardened by 27 August, when Jay Carney, Obama’s press secretary, told reporters – without providing any specific information – that any suggestions that the Syrian government was not responsible ‘are as preposterous as suggestions that the attack itself didn’t occur’.

The absence of immediate alarm inside the American intelligence community demonstrates that there was no intelligence about Syrian intentions in the days before the attack. And there are at least two ways the US could have known about it in advance: both were touched on in one of the top secret American intelligence documents that have been made public in recent months by Edward Snowden, the former NSA contractor.

On 29 August, the Washington Post published excerpts from the annual budget for all national intelligence programmes, agency by agency, provided by Snowden. In consultation with the Obama administration, the newspaper chose to publish only a slim portion of the 178-page document, which has a classification higher than top secret, but it summarised and published a section dealing with problem areas. One problem area was the gap in coverage targeting Assad’s office. The document said that the NSA’s worldwide electronic eavesdropping facilities had been ‘able to monitor unencrypted communications among senior military officials at the outset of the civil war there’. But it was ‘a vulnerability that President Bashar al-Assad’s forces apparently later recognised’. In other words, the NSA no longer had access to the conversations of the top military leadership in Syria, which would have included crucial communications from Assad, such as orders for a nerve gas attack. (In its public statements since 21 August, the Obama administration has never claimed to have specific information connecting Assad himself to the attack.)

The Post report also provided the first indication of a secret sensor system inside Syria, designed to provide early warning of any change in status of the regime’s chemical weapons arsenal. The sensors are monitored by the National Reconnaissance Office, the agency that controls all US intelligence satellites in orbit. According to the Post summary, the NRO is also assigned ‘to extract data from sensors placed on the ground’ inside Syria. The former senior intelligence official, who had direct knowledge of the programme, told me that NRO sensors have been implanted near all known chemical warfare sites in Syria. They are designed to provide constant monitoring of the movement of chemical warheads stored by the military. But far more important, in terms of early warning, is the sensors’ ability to alert US and Israeli intelligence when warheads are being loaded with sarin. (As a neighbouring country, Israel has always been on the alert for changes in the Syrian chemical arsenal, and works closely with American intelligence on early warnings.) A chemical warhead, once loaded with sarin, has a shelf life of a few days or less – the nerve agent begins eroding the rocket almost immediately: it’s a use-it-or-lose-it mass killer. ‘The Syrian army doesn’t have three days to prepare for a chemical attack,’ the former senior intelligence official told me. ‘We created the sensor system for immediate reaction, like an air raid warning or a fire alarm. You can’t have a warning over three days because everyone involved would be dead. It is either right now or you’re history. You do not spend three days getting ready to fire nerve gas.’ The sensors detected no movement in the months and days before 21 August, the former official said. It is of course possible that sarin had been supplied to the Syrian army by other means, but the lack of warning meant that Washington was unable to monitor the events in Eastern Ghouta as they unfolded.

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The sensors had worked in the past, as the Syrian leadership knew all too well. Last December the sensor system picked up signs of what seemed to be sarin production at a chemical weapons depot. It was not immediately clear whether the Syrian army was simulating sarin production as part of an exercise (all militaries constantly carry out such exercises) or actually preparing an attack. At the time, Obama publicly warned Syria that using sarin was ‘totally unacceptable’; a similar message was also passed by diplomatic means. The event was later determined to be part of a series of exercises, according to the former senior intelligence official: ‘If what the sensors saw last December was so important that the president had to call and say, “Knock it off,” why didn’t the president issue the same warning three days before the gas attack in August?’

The NSA would of course monitor Assad’s office around the clock if it could, the former official said. Other communications – from various army units in combat throughout Syria – would be far less important, and not analysed in real time. ‘There are literally thousands of tactical radio frequencies used by field units in Syria for mundane routine communications,’ he said, ‘and it would take a huge number of NSA cryptological technicians to listen in – and the useful return would be zilch.’ But the ‘chatter’ is routinely stored on computers. Once the scale of events on 21 August was understood, the NSA mounted a comprehensive effort to search for any links to the attack, sorting through the full archive of stored communications. A keyword or two would be selected and a filter would be employed to find relevant conversations. ‘What happened here is that the NSA intelligence weenies started with an event – the use of sarin – and reached to find chatter that might relate,’ the former official said. ‘This does not lead to a high confidence assessment, unless you start with high confidence that Bashar Assad ordered it, and began looking for anything that supports that belief.’ The cherry-picking was similar to the process used to justify the Iraq war.

The White House needed nine days to assemble its case against the Syrian government. On 30 August it invited a select group of Washington journalists (at least one often critical reporter, Jonathan Landay, the national security correspondent for McClatchy Newspapers, was not invited), and handed them a document carefully labelled as a ‘government assessment’, rather than as an assessment by the intelligence community. The document laid out what was essentially a political argument to bolster the administration’s case against the Assad government. It was, however, more specific than Obama would be later, in his speech on 10 September: American intelligence, it stated, knew that Syria had begun ‘preparing chemical munitions’ three days before the attack. In an aggressive speech later that day, John Kerry provided more details. He said that Syria’s ‘chemical weapons personnel were on the ground, in the area, making preparations’ by 18 August. ‘We know that the Syrian regime elements were told to prepare for the attack by putting on gas masks and taking precautions associated with chemical weapons.’ The government assessment and Kerry’s comments made it seem as if the administration had been tracking the sarin attack as it happened. It is this version of events, untrue but unchallenged, that was widely reported at the time.

An unforseen reaction came in the form of complaints from the Free Syrian Army’s leadership and others about the lack of warning. ‘It’s unbelievable they did nothing to warn people or try to stop the regime before the crime,’ Razan Zaitouneh, an opposition member who lived in one of the towns struck by sarin, told Foreign Policy. The Daily Mail was more blunt: ‘Intelligence report says US officials knew about nerve-gas attack in Syria three days before it killed over 1400 people – including more than 400 children.’ (The number of deaths attributable to the attack varied widely, from at least 1429, as initially claimed by the Obama administration, to many fewer. A Syrian human rights group reported 502 deaths; Médicins sans Frontières put it at 355; and a French report listed 281 known fatalities. The strikingly precise US total was later reported by the Wall Street Journal to have been based not on an actual body count, but on an extrapolation by CIA analysts, who scanned more than a hundred YouTube videos from Eastern Ghouta into a computer system and looked for images of the dead. In other words, it was little more than a guess.)

Five days later, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence responded to the complaints. A statement to the Associated Press said that the intelligence behind the earlier administration assertions was not known at the time of the attack, but recovered only subsequently: ‘Let’s be clear, the United States did not watch, in real time, as this horrible attack took place. The intelligence community was able to gather and analyse information after the fact and determine that elements of the Assad regime had in fact taken steps to prepare prior to using chemical weapons.’ But since the American press corps had their story, the retraction received scant attention. On 31 August the Washington Post, relying on the government assessment, had vividly reported on its front page that American intelligence was able to record ‘each step’ of the Syrian army attack in real time, ‘from the extensive preparations to the launching of rockets to the after-action assessments by Syrian officials’. It did not publish the AP corrective, and the White House maintained control of the narrative.

So when Obama said on 10 September that his administration knew Assad’s chemical weapons personnel had prepared the attack in advance, he was basing the statement not on an intercept caught as it happened, but on communications analysed days after 21 August. The former senior intelligence official explained that the hunt for relevant chatter went back to the exercise detected the previous December, in which, as Obama later said to the public, the Syrian army mobilised chemical weapons personnel and distributed gas masks to its troops. The White House’s government assessment and Obama’s speech were not descriptions of the specific events leading up to the 21 August attack, but an account of the sequence the Syrian military would have followed for any chemical attack. ‘They put together a back story,’ the former official said, ‘and there are lots of different pieces and parts. The template they used was the template that goes back to December.’ It is possible, of course, that Obama was unaware that this account was obtained from an analysis of Syrian army protocol for conducting a gas attack, rather than from direct evidence. Either way he had come to a hasty judgment.

The press would follow suit. The UN report on 16 September confirming the use of sarin was careful to note that its investigators’ access to the attack sites, which came five days after the gassing, had been controlled by rebel forces. ‘As with other sites,’ the report warned, ‘the locations have been well travelled by other individuals prior to the arrival of the mission … During the time spent at these locations, individuals arrived carrying other suspected munitions indicating that such potential evidence is being moved and possibly manipulated.’ Still, the New York Times seized on the report, as did American and British officials, and claimed that it provided crucial evidence backing up the administration’s assertions. An annex to the UN report reproduced YouTube photographs of some recovered munitions, including a rocket that ‘indicatively matches’ the specifics of a 330mm calibre artillery rocket. The New York Times wrote that the existence of the rockets essentially proved that the Syrian government was responsible for the attack ‘because the weapons in question had not been previously documented or reported to be in possession of the insurgency’.

Theodore Postol, a professor of technology and national security at MIT, reviewed the UN photos with a group of his colleagues and concluded that the large calibre rocket was an improvised munition that was very likely manufactured locally. He told me that it was ‘something you could produce in a modestly capable machine shop’. The rocket in the photos, he added, fails to match the specifications of a similar but smaller rocket known to be in the Syrian arsenal. The New York Times, again relying on data in the UN report, also analysed the flight path of two of the spent rockets that were believed to have carried sarin, and concluded that the angle of descent ‘pointed directly’ to their being fired from a Syrian army base more than nine kilometres from the landing zone. Postol, who has served as the scientific adviser to the chief of naval operations in the Pentagon, said that the assertions in the Times and elsewhere ‘were not based on actual observations’. He concluded that the flight path analyses in particular were, as he put it in an email, ‘totally nuts’ because a thorough study demonstrated that the range of the improvised rockets was ‘unlikely’ to be more than two kilometres. Postol and a colleague, Richard M. Lloyd, published an analysis two weeks after 21 August in which they correctly assessed that the rockets involved carried a far greater payload of sarin than previously estimated. The Times reported on that analysis at length, describing Postol and Lloyd as ‘leading weapons experts’. The pair’s later study about the rockets’ flight paths and range, which contradicted previous Times reporting, was emailed to the newspaper last week; it has so far gone unreported.

The White House’s misrepresentation of what it knew about the attack, and when, was matched by its readiness to ignore intelligence that could undermine the narrative. That information concerned al-Nusra, the Islamist rebel group designated by the US and the UN as a terrorist organisation. Al-Nusra is known to have carried out scores of suicide bombings against Christians and other non-Sunni Muslim sects inside Syria, and to have attacked its nominal ally in the civil war, the secular Free Syrian Army (FSA). Its stated goal is to overthrow the Assad regime and establish sharia law. (On 25 September al-Nusra joined several other Islamist rebel groups in repudiating the FSA and another secular faction, the Syrian National Coalition.)

The flurry of American interest in al-Nusra and sarin stemmed from a series of small-scale chemical weapons attacks in March and April; at the time, the Syrian government and the rebels each insisted the other was responsible. The UN eventually concluded that four chemical attacks had been carried out, but did not assign responsibility. A White House official told the press in late April that the intelligence community had assessed ‘with varying degrees of confidence’ that the Syrian government was responsible for the attacks. Assad had crossed Obama’s ‘red line’. The April assessment made headlines, but some significant caveats were lost in translation. The unnamed official conducting the briefing acknowledged that intelligence community assessments ‘are not alone sufficient’. ‘We want,’ he said, ‘to investigate above and beyond those intelligence assessments to gather facts so that we can establish a credible and corroborated set of information that can then inform our decision-making.’ In other words, the White House had no direct evidence of Syrian army or government involvement, a fact that was only occasionally noted in the press coverage. Obama’s tough talk played well with the public and Congress, who view Assad as a ruthless murderer.

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Two months later, a White House statement announced a change in the assessment of Syrian culpability and declared that the intelligence community now had ‘high confidence’ that the Assad government was responsible for as many as 150 deaths from attacks with sarin. More headlines were generated and the press was told that Obama, in response to the new intelligence, had ordered an increase in non-lethal aid to the Syrian opposition. But once again there were significant caveats. The new intelligence included a report that Syrian officials had planned and executed the attacks. No specifics were provided, nor were those who provided the reports identified. The White House statement said that laboratory analysis had confirmed the use of sarin, but also that a positive finding of the nerve agent ‘does not tell us how or where the individuals were exposed or who was responsible for the dissemination’. The White House further declared: ‘We have no reliable corroborated reporting to indicate that the opposition in Syria has acquired or used chemical weapons.’ The statement contradicted evidence that at the time was streaming into US intelligence agencies.

Already by late May, the senior intelligence consultant told me, the CIA had briefed the Obama administration on al-Nusra and its work with sarin, and had sent alarming reports that another Sunni fundamentalist group active in Syria, al-Qaida in Iraq (AQI), also understood the science of producing sarin. At the time, al-Nusra was operating in areas close to Damascus, including Eastern Ghouta. An intelligence document issued in mid-summer dealt extensively with Ziyaad Tariq Ahmed, a chemical weapons expert formerly of the Iraqi military, who was said to have moved into Syria and to be operating in Eastern Ghouta. The consultant told me that Tariq had been identified ‘as an al-Nusra guy with a track record of making mustard gas in Iraq and someone who is implicated in making and using sarin’. He is regarded as a high-profile target by the American military.

On 20 June a four-page top secret cable summarising what had been learned about al-Nusra’s nerve gas capabilities was forwarded to David R. Shedd, deputy director of the Defense Intelligence Agency. ‘What Shedd was briefed on was extensive and comprehensive,’ the consultant said. ‘It was not a bunch of “we believes”.’ He told me that the cable made no assessment as to whether the rebels or the Syrian army had initiated the attacks in March and April, but it did confirm previous reports that al-Nusra had the ability to acquire and use sarin. A sample of the sarin that had been used was also recovered – with the help of an Israeli agent – but, according to the consultant, no further reporting about the sample showed up in cable traffic.

Independently of these assessments, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, assuming that US troops might be ordered into Syria to seize the government’s stockpile of chemical agents, called for an all-source analysis of the potential threat. ‘The Op Order provides the basis of execution of a military mission, if so ordered,’ the former senior intelligence official explained. ‘This includes the possible need to send American soldiers to a Syrian chemical site to defend it against rebel seizure. If the jihadist rebels were going to overrun the site, the assumption is that Assad would not fight us because we were protecting the chemical from the rebels. All Op Orders contain an intelligence threat component. We had technical analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency, the Defense Intelligence Agency, weapons people, and I & W [indications and warnings] people working on the problem … They concluded that the rebel forces were capable of attacking an American force with sarin because they were able to produce the lethal gas. The examination relied on signals and human intelligence, as well as the expressed intention and technical capability of the rebels.’

There is evidence that during the summer some members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff were troubled by the prospect of a ground invasion of Syria as well as by Obama’s professed desire to give rebel factions non-lethal support. In July, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs, provided a gloomy assessment, telling the Senate Armed Services Committee in public testimony that ‘thousands of special operations forces and other ground forces’ would be needed to seize Syria’s widely dispersed chemical warfare arsenal, along with ‘hundreds of aircraft, ships, submarines and other enablers’. Pentagon estimates put the number of troops at seventy thousand, in part because US forces would also have to guard the Syrian rocket fleet: accessing large volumes of the chemicals that create sarin without the means to deliver it would be of little value to a rebel force. In a letter to Senator Carl Levin, Dempsey cautioned that a decision to grab the Syrian arsenal could have unintended consequences: ‘We have learned from the past ten years, however, that it is not enough to simply alter the balance of military power without careful consideration of what is necessary in order to preserve a functioning state … Should the regime’s institutions collapse in the absence of a viable opposition, we could inadvertently empower extremists or unleash the very chemical weapons we seek to control.’

The CIA declined to comment for this article. Spokesmen for the DIA and Office of the Director of National Intelligence said they were not aware of the report to Shedd and, when provided with specific cable markings for the document, said they were unable to find it. Shawn Turner, head of public affairs for the ODNI, said that no American intelligence agency, including the DIA, ‘assesses that the al-Nusra Front has succeeded in developing a capacity to manufacture sarin’.

The administration’s public affairs officials are not as concerned about al-Nusra’s military potential as Shedd has been in his public statements. In late July, he gave an alarming account of al-Nusra’s strength at the annual Aspen Security Forum in Colorado. ‘I count no less than 1200 disparate groups in the opposition,’ Shedd said, according to a recording of his presentation. ‘And within the opposition, the al-Nusra Front is … most effective and is gaining in strength.’ This, he said, ‘is of serious concern to us. If left unchecked, I am very concerned that the most radical elements’ – he also cited al-Qaida in Iraq – ‘will take over.’ The civil war, he went on, ‘will only grow worse over time … Unfathomable violence is yet to come.’ Shedd made no mention of chemical weapons in his talk, but he was not allowed to: the reports his office received were highly classified.

A series of secret dispatches from Syria over the summer reported that members of the FSA were complaining to American intelligence operatives about repeated attacks on their forces by al-Nusra and al-Qaida fighters. The reports, according to the senior intelligence consultant who read them, provided evidence that the FSA is ‘more worried about the crazies than it is about Assad’. The FSA is largely composed of defectors from the Syrian army. The Obama administration, committed to the end of the Assad regime and continued support for the rebels, has sought in its public statements since the attack to downplay the influence of Salafist and Wahhabist factions. In early September, John Kerry dumbfounded a Congressional hearing with a sudden claim that al-Nusra and other Islamist groups were minority players in the Syrian opposition. He later withdrew the claim.

In both its public and private briefings after 21 August, the administration disregarded the available intelligence about al-Nusra’s potential access to sarin and continued to claim that the Assad government was in sole possession of chemical weapons. This was the message conveyed in the various secret briefings that members of Congress received in the days after the attack, when Obama was seeking support for his planned missile offensive against Syrian military installations. One legislator with more than two decades of experience in military affairs told me that he came away from one such briefing persuaded that ‘only the Assad government had sarin and the rebels did not.’ Similarly, following the release of the UN report on 16 September confirming that sarin was used on 21 August, Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, told a press conference: ‘It’s very important to note that only the [Assad] regime possesses sarin, and we have no evidence that the opposition possesses sarin.’

It is not known whether the highly classified reporting on al-Nusra was made available to Power’s office, but her comment was a reflection of the attitude that swept through the administration. ‘The immediate assumption was that Assad had done it,’ the former senior intelligence official told me. ‘The new director of the CIA, [John] Brennan, jumped to that conclusion … drives to the White House and says: “Look at what I’ve got!” It was all verbal; they just waved the bloody shirt. There was a lot of political pressure to bring Obama to the table to help the rebels, and there was wishful thinking that this [tying Assad to the sarin attack] would force Obama’s hand: “This is the Zimmermann telegram of the Syrian rebellion and now Obama can react.” Wishful thinking by the Samantha Power wing within the administration. Unfortunately, some members of the Joint Chiefs who were alerted that he was going to attack weren’t so sure it was a good thing.’

The proposed American missile attack on Syria never won public support and Obama turned quickly to the UN and the Russian proposal for dismantling the Syrian chemical warfare complex. Any possibility of military action was definitively averted on 26 September when the administration joined Russia in approving a draft UN resolution calling on the Assad government to get rid of its chemical arsenal. Obama’s retreat brought relief to many senior military officers. (One high-level special operations adviser told me that the ill-conceived American missile attack on Syrian military airfields and missile emplacements, as initially envisaged by the White House, would have been ‘like providing close air support for al-Nusra’.)

The administration’s distortion of the facts surrounding the sarin attack raises an unavoidable question: do we have the whole story of Obama’s willingness to walk away from his ‘red line’ threat to bomb Syria? He had claimed to have an iron-clad case but suddenly agreed to take the issue to Congress, and later to accept Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical weapons. It appears possible that at some point he was directly confronted with contradictory information: evidence strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan, and take the criticism sure to come from Republicans.

The UN resolution, which was adopted on 27 September by the Security Council, dealt indirectly with the notion that rebel forces such as al-Nusra would also be obliged to disarm: ‘no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain or transfer [chemical] weapons.’ The resolution also calls for the immediate notification of the Security Council in the event that any ‘non-state actors’ acquire chemical weapons. No group was cited by name. While the Syrian regime continues the process of eliminating its chemical arsenal, the irony is that, after Assad’s stockpile of precursor agents is destroyed, al-Nusra and its Islamist allies could end up as the only faction inside Syria with access to the ingredients that can create sarin, a strategic weapon that would be unlike any other in the war zone. There may be more to negotiate.

Posted in Saudi Arabia, SyriaComments Off on Whose sarin?

Exclusive: Iran’s Foreign Minister Says Sanctions Would Kill Nuclear Deal

NOVANEWS
Jadav Zarif during interview with time magazine at his office in Tehran.
Foreign Minister Zarif at his office in Tehran.

In a wide-ranging interview with TIME in Tehran on Dec. 7, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif spoke to writer and Iran expert Robin Wright about how the Geneva nuclear deal came together, how the government has to appeal to Iran’s own parliament not to undermine the interim pact, and how any new sanctions passed by the United  States Congress would kill the deal. The agreement, reached between Iran and six world powers in November, calls for a freeze on parts of Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for an easing of sanctions. It is meant to pave the way for a final settlement between Iran and the international community on Iran’s nuclear program. Iran says the program is for civilian purposes only; world powers fear that it has a military component. Speaking in the ornate Foreign Ministry building, Zarif also indicated that Iran might not be wedded to Syria’s President Bashar Assad, a long-time ally, and he said that Iran hoped for a “duly monitored” democratic election in Syria. Iran’s most high-profile cabinet official warned that the deepening sectarianism playing out in Syria does not recognize borders and has implications “on the streets of Europe and America.”

Q: What are biggest differences between Iran and the six major powers in making a permanent agreement? The biggest issues and obstacles?

There are a number of issues. One is the removal of all sanctions – both U.N. Security Council sanctions as well as national and multilateral sanctions outside the U.N. – and second is the issue of Iran having an enrichment program.

These are the two elements of the final deal that are going to be there. How we shape the final deal to include all these elements will be a matter for discussion. The two other members, Russia and China, may also have concerns but they are more confident about the peaceful nature of our nuclear program.

Q: But what are the obstacles then?

A: I don’t see any obstacles. I believe it’s rather straightforward. We can reach an agreement but there are some areas which are more difficult than others. One of those areas may be how we make sure that [Iran’s heavy water production plant at] Arak will remain peaceful. It is our intention that it will remain exclusively peaceful but how we give them the necessary assurances that it will remain peaceful that may be one of the more difficult areas.

Q: Why do you even need Arak?

A: Why do we even need Arak? Because we need to produce radio isotopes for medical purposes and even Arak alone is not enough for us. This was the technology that was available to us. Some people believe that we chose this technology because it provided other options. They’re badly mistaken.

You see you have to look at Iran’s nuclear program from the perspective of denial, the fact that Iran was denied access to technology. And we used or we tried to get access to whatever was available to us and this technology was available to us. Other technologies were not. And we made a lot investment both in terms of human capital as well as in terms of material resources and we have reached almost the end game of getting this research reactor into actual operation. So it’s too late in the game for somebody to come and tell us that we have concerns that cannot be addressed. We have to find solutions. We believe there are scientific solutions for this and we are open to discussing them but that will be one of the more difficult issues.

Q: Are you willing to accept a level of enrichment that is only for facilities that Iran has constructed?

A:.We are going to accept measures that would ensure that our program will remain exclusively peaceful but the rest will have to be decided in the negotiations in good faith. We have no intention of producing weapons or fissile material programs. We do not consider that to be in our interests or within our security doctrine.

Q: What are the prospects that Iran will be part of the Geneva talks on Syria?

A: If Iran is invited without preconditions Iran will be a part of the talks. I think people will decide to invite Iran if they are interested in having a helpful hand in finding a resolution to the Syrian tragedy and they will decide not to invite Iran to their own detriment. Iran believes that what is happening in Syria can have a huge impact on the future of our region and the future beyond the region. Because we believe that if the sectarian divide that some people are trying to fan in Syria becomes a major issue it will not recognize any boundaries. It will go beyond the boundaries of Syria. It will go beyond the boundaries of this region. You will find implications of this on the streets of Europe and America.

Q: Did you or any other Iranian diplomats discuss Iran’s position on Syria with American diplomats?

A: No, we didn’t except for a very, very brief sort of reference en passé in my first meeting with John Kerry.

Q: Do you think it’s possible that the many different sides of the Syrian conflict and the outside parties to that conflict can find common ground?

A: It’s up to the Syrians to decide; we can only help. We can only facilitate. And I think Iran will not be an impediment to a political settlement in Syria. We have every interest in helping the process in a peaceful direction. We are satisfied, totally satisfied, convinced that there is no military solution in Syria and that there is a need to find a political solution in Syria. If you want to prevent a void, the types of consequences that we are talking about, I mean if you want to avoid extremism in this region, if you want to prevent a Syria becoming a breeding ground for extremists who will use Syria basically as a staging ground to attack other countries – be it Lebanon, be it Iraq, be it Jordan,  Saudi Arabia, even Turkey – these countries are going to be susceptible to a wave of extremism that will find its origins in Syria and the continuation of this tragedy in Syria can only provide the best breeding ground for extremists who use this basically as a justification, as a recruiting climate in order to wage the same type of activity in other parts of this region.

Q: Is Iran going to stick at the side of Bashar Assad?

A: We will stick to the side of stability and resolution to Syria. But at the end of the day, we are not going to decide who will rule Syria. It should be the Syrian people to decide. We’re proposing that we should not give ourselves the role that the Syrian people should play.

Q: We’re hearing that you’re still facing tough opposition in the Gulf and that Saudi Arabia doesn’t even want to see you yet.

A: I was well received by every country in the Persian Gulf that I visited [on a recent trip]. I had extremely positive discussions both on regional issues, the fact that all of them welcomed the  Geneva agreement, the fact that all of them considered that as a positive development for security and cooperation in our region, the fact that everyone expected a new chapter in relations between Iran and countries on the southern shore of the Persian Gulf. And that was very encouraging for me.

As for Saudi Arabia, I indicated to them that I was prepared to go to Saudi Arabia. Meetings were arranged. But there was a problem with the meetings. We could not arrange all of the meetings that should have been arranged. We decided to go at a time that was more convenient. It doesn’t mean a political problem between Iran and Saudi Arabia. Now we have differences. In every family you have differences of views, even between brothers and sisters. And we all have our differences. There are issues on which we have different opinions, different approaches, different strategies, different tactics. It wasn’t that they were not prepared to see me.                 

Q: But you did mention the deepening sectarian gap in the region personified by the differences between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

A: We both have members of both sects among our population and it’s in our interest to avoid this, to have a cordial and brotherly relations between various Islamic sects. So for Iran and Saudi Arabia, it is important and very significant to reach a common understanding on how to avoid this and not to personify such a sectarian difference.

Q: What opposition are you facing at home to the Geneva deal? And what are you doing about it?

A: The most opposition here emanates from the lack of trust because we do not have a past on which we can build. It’s a psychological barrier to interaction that we need to overcome. The fundamental reason for opposition: they believe the West and particularly the United States are not sincere, are not interested about reaching an agreement. They believe that they will try to use the mechanism of negotiations in order to derail the process, in order to find new excuses. And some of the statements out of Washington give them every reason to be concerned. Now we know that Washington is catering to various constituencies and is trying to address these various constituencies. We read their statements in the light of their domestic constituency process. But not everybody in Iran does that. We believe that the U.S. government should stick to its words, should remain committed to what it stated in Geneva, both on the paper as well as in the discussions leading to the plan of action.

Q: After all these negotiations, do you see the prospect for working together with the United States on other subjects, including Afghanistan.

A: We have to wait and see whether the behavior that will be exhibited in the course of negotiations and implementation of our agreements on the nuclear issue creates the necessary confidence for us to move to other areas.

Q: Is there anything different now between Iran and the United States after the talks in Geneva after the process that’s been launched?

A: In terms of using these talks to foster confidence, I don’t think we have been very successful in that process. Because the talks have been followed by public statements that have not differed that significantly from statements that used to be made before the talks.  Basically in this day and age, you don’t have secret negotiations, everything is done is out in the open. You cannot pick and choose your audience. And that is one of the beauties of globalization and one of the hazards of globalization whichever way you want to say it. When Secretary Kerry talks to the U.S. Congress, the most conservative constituencies in Iran also hear him andinterpret his remarks. So it’s important for everyone to be careful what they say to their constituencies because others are listening and others are drawing their own conclusions.

Q: What happens if Congress imposes new sanctions, even if they don’t go into effect for six months?

A: The entire deal is dead. We do not like to negotiate under duress. And if Congress adopts sanctions, it shows lack of seriousness and lack of a desire to achieve a resolution on the part of the United States. I know the domestic complications and various issues inside the United States, but for me that is no justification. I have a parliament. My parliament can also adopt various legislation that can go into effect if negotiations fail. But if we start doing that, I don’t think that we will be getting anywhere. Now we have tried to ask our members of parliament to avoid that. We may not succeed. The U.S. government may not succeed. If we don’t try, then we can’t expect the other side to accept that we are serious about the process. 

Q: What can you tell us about the back channel that began last March?

A: I can tell you that we started discussing this issue on the sidelines of the P5+1 with various countries but with all the countries that were involved we have normal diplomatic relations. It may become more interesting when it involves the United States. That started a long time ago – probably three years ago. Our nuclear negotiator at that time, Dr. [Saeed] Jalili, met with [Undersecretary of State] Bill Burns on the sidelines of Geneva. And since then, there have been back and forth discussions between Iran and the U.S. inside and on the sidelines of P5+1. So that has taken place and I think with some positive outcome.

Q: Did it make possible, did it facilitate Geneva?

A: I think had it not been for bilateral discussions between Iran and various members of P5+1 we would not have had a positive outcome. Formal meetings of Iran plus six countries and [Senior E.U. foreign policy official] Cathy Ashton usually remain very formal. If you want to reach agreement you need to talk to all of these individually as well as collectively. So we did talk to all members of the P5+1 individually. But as it was not a big deal for us to talk to France or Russia or even the U.K. For the U.S., it was a different issue. And our discussions with the U.S. on the sidelines of P5+1 became a story in themselves.

Q: How alive is that channel now?

A:When my colleagues go to Vienna, probably they’ll have side discussions with the U.S. and that’s a very important channel. The U.S. is probably the most important player because it has the largest amount of sanctions against Iran, most of them or all of them illegal in our view. But nevertheless it has a lot of sanctions. It imposes a lot of sanctions on various countries that do business with Iran and that is why it has to do the most. In the resolution, it had a lot to do in the creation of the trouble so it has a lot to do in the resolution of the trouble. So that requires Iran and the U.S. to have a lot of discussions on the sides.

Q: Would you have had Geneva without that back channel with the United States?

A: Well, hypothetical questions: we would not have been able to reach an agreement without having discussed all various issues on the sidelines of P5+1 with various members, particularly the United States.

Posted in IranComments Off on Exclusive: Iran’s Foreign Minister Says Sanctions Would Kill Nuclear Deal

Obama: ‘Ideal’ Iran deal not possible, we have to be realistic

NOVANEWS
U.S. President Barack Obama  (Reuters / Mike Theiler)U.S. President Barack Obama (Reuters / Mike Theiler

US President Barack Obama defended the interim deal with Iran to curb its nuclear program saying the international community should be realistic, and sought to reassure Israel saying the future agreement would contain enough “safeguards”.

Speaking at the Brookings Institution Saban Forum in Washington on Saturday, Obama said that an agreement with Tehran was going to be better than the alternatives.

He also said a final deal was possible, which included enough verification safeguards, which would satisfy all foreign powers that Tehran could not build a nuclear bomb.

Obama indicated that a future deal could include a capability for Iran to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes, but that their nuclear program would be under sufficient international scrutiny to ensure that Tehran is kept from “breakout” capacity where it could race to build an atomic bomb.

“One can envision an ideal world in which Iran said, ‘We’ll destroy every element and facility and you name it, it’s all gone.’ I can envision a world which Congress passed every one of my bills that I put forward. I mean, there are a lot of things that I can envision that would be wonderful,” Obama said jokingly.

“But precisely because we don’t trust the nature of the Iranian regime, I think that we have to be more realistic and ask ourselves: what puts us in a strong position to assure ourselves that Iran’s not having a nuclear weapon … what is required to accomplish that and how does that compare to other options that we might take?” he added.

Obama continued that calls from Israel for a complete halt to enrichment on Iranian soil were not within reach but that any future deal brokered with Tehran would not permit underground fortified facilities or advanced centrifuges.

“If you asked me what is the likelihood that we’re able to arrive at the end state that I was just describing earlier, I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50/50,” Obama concluded. “But we have to try.”

US relations with Israel have been strained since the interim deal was reached last month between Iran and six world powers, the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

The agreement is designed to give the international community time to see if Tehran is serious about curbing its nuclear ambitions while providing some relief form the sanctions that have crippled the Iranian economy.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the deal reached in Geneva an “historic mistake” and believes that giving any sanctions relief is dangerous.

In response to Obama’s comments Netanyahu warned Sunday that the international community should be “beware” of Iran’s intentions and insisted that any final accord must secure that “termination of Iran’s military nuclear capability”.

“The Jury is still out, Iran is perilously close to crossing the nuclear threshold,” he said.

 

General view of the heavy water plant in Arak, 320 kms south of Tehran. (AFP Photo / Str) General view of the heavy water plant in Arak, 320 kms south of Tehran. (AFP Photo / Str)

Economic boost after partial lifting of sanctions

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani announced Sunday that the partial sanctions relief agreed in last month’s pact has already boosted the country’s economy. He said that investors were now gravitating towards the stock exchange.

“Economic activities have been shifted to the stock exchange from gold, hard currency and real estate,” he said.

The modest sanction relief agreed with the world’s powers last month will amount to just $7 billion, just 7% of Iran’s overseas cash, which remains frozen.

However, the deal is the first step towards economic normalcy and is already having a psychological effect, which could boost markets.

New uranium enrichment technology

A spokesman for Iran’s atomic energy agency, Behrouz Kamalvandi, said Saturday that Iran has provided the International Atomic energy Agency (IAEA) with details of a new generation of centrifuges to enrich uranium.

He said that after initial testing on the new generation of more sophisticated centrifuges had been completed they would be used to make fuel for Iran’s planned network of nuclear power plants.

He added that Iran will continue with the research and development needed to fuel the country’s nuclear reactors used for electricity production and in medical research and that this development was in accordance with the action plan signed by Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization (IAEO) the IAEA.

In a separate development, IAEA inspectors will begin a visit Sunday to a heavy water reactor at Arak, which could produce plutonium.

Posted in USA, IranComments Off on Obama: ‘Ideal’ Iran deal not possible, we have to be realistic

Surprise, surprise–In Ukraine protests, young Jews are marching with ultranationalists

NOVANEWS

wolf-in-sheeps-clothing-31

ed note–and in what other ‘nationalist’ groups can ‘young jews’ be found marching as well?

JTA

On the last evening in November, at least 31 protesters were taken into custody and dozens treated for injuries following a violent confrontation with Ukrainian police in Kiev’s Independence Square.

But that wasn’t enough to intimidate the crowds who have occupied the main square of the capital since November 21. Thousands showed up the following morning, including a young woman carrying a 10-liter pot of fresh borscht to help the crowd through another cold day on the square.

It was “like a carnival,” said Dmitri Gerasimov, 32, a Jewish klezmer musician who has taken part in the protests. “I didn’t feel any aggression in the crowd. It was like a public holiday.”

The ongoing protests — known widely as EuroMaidan, after the Ukrainian name for the square in which they have taken place — were sparked initially by anger over President Viktor Yanukovych’s refusal to sign an agreement that would have deepened ties between Ukraine and the European Union.

They have since blossomed into a full-blown movement seeking Yanukovych’s resignation, along with calls for an end to corruption and the “selective prosecution” that has landed opposition leaders in jail. The protesters also want a strengthened social safety net.

A number of young Jews are involved in the protests, which have drawn together a diverse coalition of liberal youth and opposition party leaders, including members of the ultranationalist Svoboda (Freedom) party, whose leader, Oleh Tyahnybok, has freely trafficked anti-Semitic stereotypes.

“If the nationalists are in favor of a regime change in the country, and I am also, then they won’t prevent me from going out into the Maidan with everyone and expressing my opinions,” Evgenia Talinovskaya told JTA. “The EuroMaidan movement is primarily identified with the educated youth. And Jewish youth in Ukraine primarily fall under that description.”

While it is difficult to know how much support there is for the protest movement among young Ukrainian Jews, the country’s orientation toward Europe has proven a divisive issue within its Jewish community. Older Jews tend to be more fearful of Ukrainian nationalists, whose resentment of Russian influence has led them to support a more pro-Europe orientation.

The community “is very split on the issue of the protests,” said Meylakh Sheykhet, Ukraine director for the Union of Councils for Jews in the Former Soviet Union. “Generally speaking, the young generation of Jews, just like other young Ukrainians, support this revolution. But the older generation of Ukrainian Jews, the ones who grew up and were educated in the Soviet system, they are not in support. They are very pro-Russian.”

Right-wing parties such as Svoboda, which garnered 10 percent of the national vote in 2012 parliamentary elections to become the fourth-largest party in Ukraine, bristle at Russia’s influence over their country. They have embraced EuroMaidan despite the right-wing tendency, evident elsewhere in Europe, to resist the encroachment of the European Union.

“Svoboda is an opposition party to the current regime, and they are supporting this trend because it goes against the current regime,” said Oxana Shevel, an associate professor of comparative politics at Tufts University.

Ukrainian Jewish leaders have been unnerved by Svoboda, which it considers a threat to community security. The party’s use of anti-Semitic rhetoric also has prompted concern from the European Parliament.

“We fear that this situation will get out of control,” Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski, head of the Jewish community organization in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, told JTA. “And when there is chaos, minorities will suffer, as our history tells us.”

Other Jewish community officials, including the chief Chabad rabbi of Ukraine, Moshe Azman, have likewise condemned the protests as dangerous for the Jewish community. But those concerns have not been enough to keep Jews from joining the protest movement.

After mass emigrations in the 1970s and 1990s, the Jewish community in Ukraine shows no signs of leaving. And for young Jews, investment in Ukraine’s future is a part of their identity.

“I love Ukraine very much,” Talinovskaya said. “My parents are here, my friends are here, and I have no plans on emigrating, which means my children will be born here.”

Other Jews active in EuroMaidan echoed her sentiments.

Ahava (Anuta) Teslenko, a 29-year-old model and television personality, told JTA she considers her role in the movement “a demand of the soul and the mind” borne of the “necessity for an independent Ukraine.” And Gerasimov said EuroMaidan is a protest against a “Russian future” for the country.

“Many Ukrainian Jews who considered themselves Jews first have left Ukraine already,” Sheykhet told JTA. “So those who stayed, and who now make up the majority of the Jewish presence in Ukraine, consider themselves Ukrainian first.”

Anna Furman, 22, said being Jewish is no obstacle to her passionate involvement in the fight for Ukraine’s future. Like other young protesters, she believes a pro-European orientation for Ukraine, and the reforms that will entail, will change her country for the better.

“It’s important to note that healthy and informed nationalism entails support for the religious and cultural heritage of the people,” Furman told JTA. “What’s important is that this is the country we live in, and we are its citizens here and now. We can’t close our eyes to what’s happening around us.”

“None of us think that joining the European association will magically make our lives perfect, like a fairy tale,” Talinovskaya said. “But we have to start somewhere.”

Posted in UkraineComments Off on Surprise, surprise–In Ukraine protests, young Jews are marching with ultranationalists

The Victory Hour Broadcast

NOVANEWS

The Victory Hour Broadcast Dec 8, 2013

TVH European Front

Max’s Excellent Adventure with The Empire’s DHS.

No, not two slackers time travelling in a 1979 cult classic, but a real life romp through the belly of The Beast.

Learn of DHS unit strength, morale, tactics, motivation and the sad state of its officer corps.

Men, we have them beat.

In the second half of the program, Egeria reports on how Italy’s Opera connoisseurs revolt against the degenerate influence of supremacist jewish ‘art direction’ on Italy’s purest and most sacred form of art.

 

 

 

Download Here

THANK YOU FOR ASSISTING WITH THE COSTS ASSOCIATED WITH PRODUCING THIS PROGRAM

Posted in InterviewComments Off on The Victory Hour Broadcast

The West considers Saudis Wahhabi terror-funding allowable

NOVANEWS
An outstanding Irish journalist says the West does nothing in the face of the Saudis funding the Sunni terrorist groups, since they don’t want to “offend a close ally” and the terrorists target Shia Muslims.

Patrick Cockburn, Middle East correspondent for the Independent, wrote yesterday in an article published on The Independent that the donors in Saudi Arabia have notoriously played a pivotal role in creating and maintaining Sunni jihadist groups over the past 30 years.

He added that the US and its allies have showed “astonishing restraint when it comes to pressuring Saudi Arabia and the Gulf monarchies to turn off the financial tap that keeps the jihadists in business.”

Referring to the no more veiled Saudis’ support for Sunni jihadists around the world, Cockburn raised the question, “Why did the US and its European allies treat Saudi Arabia with such restraint when the kingdom was so central to al-Qa’ida and other even more sectarian Sunni jihadist organisations?”

“An obvious explanation is that the US, Britain and others did not want to offend a close ally and that the Saudi royal family had judiciously used its money to buy its way into the international ruling class,” he explained.

The Irish journalist added that another “compelling reason” for the Western powers’ straggling in denouncing Saudi Arabia and the Sunni rulers of the Gulf for their spread of bigotry and religious hate is that al-Qaida “have always held two very different views about who is their main opponent.”

“For Osama bin Laden the chief enemy was the Americans, but for the great majority of Sunni jihadists, including the al-Qa’ida franchises in Iraq and Syria, the target is the Shia. It is the Shia who have been dying in their thousands in Iraq, Syria, Pakistan and even in countries where there are few of them to kill, such as Egypt.”

He raised the question, suppose a hundredth part of this merciless onslaught had been directed against Western targets rather than against Shia Muslims, would the Americans and the British be so accommodating to the Saudis, Kuwaitis and Emiratis?

 

Posted in USA, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on The West considers Saudis Wahhabi terror-funding allowable

Iran says it produced laser guided ballistic missiles with increased range

NOVANEWS

homer1

jpost.com

Iran has made a laser-guided ballistic missile with increased range, according to its defense minister.

“The fixed precision of our long-range missiles has increased to the extent that we can hit every point we wish,” Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan said on Sunday, according to Iran’s Tasnim News Agency.

He also said that the margin of error now is less than two meters for the missiles.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday that world powers have admitted failure in stopping Iran’s nuclear progress.

“Iran’s policy of constructive interaction with the world states has forced the world to see the realities of Iran’s capabilities,” Rouhani said according to Iran’s Fars News Agency.

“You see that those powers which were thinking of destroying Iran’s enrichment capability, have now admitted that they cannot stop Iran’s industrial progress and enrichment due to the indigenization of this industry and its expansion,” he said.

A Chinese official met with Rouhani on Sunday and said that Iran has a right to peaceful use of nuclear energy, according to Chinese news agency Xinhua.

Both countries expressed their wishes to expand bilateral ties.

Rouhani also assured Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi that Iran’s nuclear program was peaceful and that it desires to solve the issue through negotiations.

“We respect Iran’s right to use nuclear energy, including the right of uranium enrichment,” said Jiechi according to Tasnim.

Posted in IranComments Off on Iran says it produced laser guided ballistic missiles with increased range

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