Archive | May 30th, 2014

Syria conflict has cost 144 billion dollars: UN report

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Syrians walk amid debris in a residential block in the northern city of Aleppo.
Syrians walk amid debris in a residential block in the northern city of Aleppo.
Syria has suffered nearly 144 billion dollars in economic losses due to massive de-industrialization, business closure and capital flight, as well as looting and damage since civil war broke out in 2011, a new UN report said Wednesday.

The joint report by the Damascus-based Syrian Centre for Policy Research and the United Nations described the Syrian economy as “gutted,” its healthcare system “in ruins” and education facilities “teetering.”

“By the end of 2013, total economic loss since the start of the conflict was estimated at 143.8 billion dollars, which is equivalent to 276 per cent of the GDP of 2010 in constant prices.”

By the end of 2013, three out of four Syrians were living in poverty, with more than half of its 20 million people living in extreme poverty, the report said. Syria has fallen from the “medium” income cluster of nations to the “low human development” group, largely due to lost ground in education, health and income.

“The incidence of poverty in Syria has now reached catastrophic levels with the vast majority of Syrians now seeking to maintain a basic means of livelihood, which many are no longer able to meet,” the report said.

Once a country with a 67-billion-dollar annual economy, Syria “has become a country of poor people afflicted by a ruinous decent into poverty.”

Meanwhile, prices for basic commodities have skyrocketed. The cost of daily household staples such as yoghurt, cheese and eggs has risen by 360 per cent, while general food items and heating or cooking fuel were up by close to 300 per cent.

Some 2.67 million people, or half of the labor force of 5 million, have become unemployed.

The public debt has continued to grow in 2013, as Syria imported oil and basic commodities to alleviate shortages in the local markets and subsidize goods.

 

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Europol estimates 2000 European militants fighting in Syria

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Militants in Syria (file photo)
Militants in Syria (file photo)
There is no overall official figure available regarding EU citizens travelling to take part in the conflict in Syria, but estimates suggest that, by the end of 2013, they numbered between 1200 and 2000, Europol says.

Although depending on the developments in Syria, this number might possibly increase during 2014, the Hague-based European police body noted on Thursday.

Europol believes that the Turkish-Syrian border’s accessibility is one factor why more European volunteers travelled to Syria rather than to Afghanistan, Mali, Somalia or Yemen.

It seems likely that Syria will remain the destination of choice for prospective militants departing from EU Member States, as long as the civil war there continues, said the report.

“In the wake of the Syrian conflict, the threat to the EU is likely to increase exponentially. European militants, who travel to conflict zones, are assessed as posing an increased threat to all EU Member States on their return,” warned the report.

Between June and September 2013, nine individuals were detained in Ceuta (Spain), suspected of belonging to a network dedicated to sending volunteers to Syria, to fight alongside terrorist groups including al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), it noted.

The network appears to have had international links to Morocco, Belgium, Turkey and Syria, and to have successfully sent at least 12 young Spanish and Moroccan men to Syria, a number of whom died there in suicide attacks or combat, it said.

In addition, there were a number of arrests and convictions across Europe, including in Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the UK, in connection to travelling to Syria to participate in the conflict, it added.

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Iran’s FM raises alarm on Takfiri militancy in Mideast

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Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif
The Iranian foreign minister has again warned of the spread of radicalism, sectarianism and Takfiri militancy throughout the Middle East.

Mohammad Javad Zarif insisted in Thursday remarks that the common ground in the ongoing terrorist events in Syria and Iraq is extremism, and the entire world must be alarmed and take a stand against this threat.

The Iranian foreign minister made the comments on the sidelines of the 17th Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) foreign ministerial conference in the Algerian capital city of Algiers.

The top Iranian diplomat also voiced strong opposition to foreign interference in the domestic affairs of countries in the Middle East.

“Foreign intervention in regional countries must stop, and people must be offered the right to determine their own destiny,” he said.

“I am sure that Syrian people are determined to decide their own fate through unity,” Zarif stated, in reference to the upcoming presidential election in Syria.

“Political process in Syria constitutes the entrance of all parties that are interested in the country’s destiny, and I am certain that the ongoing process will eventually benefit the Syrian people,” he added.

Syria has announced that it will hold the presidential election on June 3. The Syrians living outside the country voted on May 28. The three presidential candidates in Syria include incumbent President Bashar al-Assad, Maher Abdel Hafiz Hajjar and Hassan Abdallah al-Nouri.

Syria has dismissed Western and opposition accusations that its presidential vote lacks credibility. Damascus says that it will hold a free and transparent election.

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20,000 Egyptian prisoners stage hunger strike

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Muslim Brotherhood supports in defendants cage in an Egyptian court in May 2014, holding a cardboard sign with the "rabaa" symbol as they received sentences ranging from death to long jail terms for their role in pro-Morsi protest rallies.
Muslim Brotherhood supports in defendants cage in an Egyptian court in May 2014, holding a cardboard sign with the “rabaa” symbol as they received sentences ranging from death to long jail terms for their role in pro-Morsi protest rallies.
Nearly 20,000 Egyptian prisoners have gone on a week-long hunger strike inside their jail cells to protest what they allege as inmate mistreatment, an Egyptian rights activist said.

“More than 20,000 prisoners started the hunger strike in more than 114 detention centers and prisons,” said Director of Egyptian Center for Human Rights Victims Haytham Abo Khalil, as cited in a Friday report by Anadolu Agency.

He added that the strike is aimed at protesting what he described as the “mistreatment” inside Egyptian prisons.

Abo Khalil said by staging the strike, the prisoners want to draw attention to their sufferings inside the Arab nation’s prisons.

A recent report by the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights (ECESR), a local NGO, documented over 21,000 alleged cases of individuals who had been subject to prosecution since the July 3 ouster of elected president Mohamed Morsi by the military under the leadership of former general and now president-elect Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi.

There have been reports of widespread and systematic mistreatment and torture being carried out in Egyptian detention facilities.

Egyptian authorities often deny claims of maltreatment inside prisons.

The military-backed government also denies the presence of any “political” prisoners in the nation’s jails, saying the thousands arrested since Morsi’s ouster face criminal charges.

Egyptian military-installed authorities have launched a harsh crackdown on supporters of Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood group, killing hundreds and rounding up thousands.

 

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Nazi Racist Jews distribute leaflets urging al-Aqsa demolition

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Al-Aqsa Mosque in Old City of al-Quds
Al-Aqsa Mosque in Old City of al-Quds
Leaflets calling for the demolition of Islam’s holy al-Aqsa Mosque have reportedly been disseminated in the Old City of al-Quds (Jerusalem) by a Zio-Nazi organization.

Palestinian residents of al-Quds reported that an extremist Nazi Jewish group distributed thousands of the leaflets on Thursday in areas around the holy compound, Ma’an news agency reported Friday.

According to the Palestinian witnesses, as they left their homes on Thursday morning they found thousands of the leaflets in Hebrew scattered in all roads and alleys including the alleys leading to al-Aqsa Mosque.

The leaflets were signed by a radical Zionist organization called “Going back to the (Temple) Mount”.

“In respect of the Jerusalem Day, let’s all ask the government of Israel to tear down all mosques on Temple Mount in order to be able to rebuild Beit Hamikdash (the Holy Temple) and renew sacrifice works,” the leaflet reads.

The development comes as various officials and legislators of the Israeli regime have also called for or suggested replacing the al-Aqsa Mosque with Jewish temples.

Many Palestinian and Muslim institutions have also warned of Israeli schemes to damage or destroy the al-Aqsa compound as part of their efforts to Judaize the entire al-Quds.

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I$raHell force apprehends Palestinian wearing suicide belt in West Bank

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Haaaretz

Border Police apprehend young Palestinian in Tapuah Junction wearing a jacket despite high temperatures; in separate incident, at least two shots fired at car near Adam settlement in the West Bank.

 By Gili Cohen and Yaniv Kubovich  

Israeli forces detained on Friday a young Palestinian man in the West Bank who was wearing a suicide belt. A bomb disposal unit which was sent to the scene confirmed that it contained standard explosive powder.

At about 10:30 A.M., a Border Police force stationed near Tapuah Junction, south of Nablus, noticed a Palestinian man approaching their location. Despite the high temperatures on Friday, the man was wearing a heavy coat. The force then ordered the Palestinian to halt and to remove his coat, at which point they noticed that some iron pipes were placed inside the jacket.

After the man was apprehended the Border Police said he admitted to wearing an explosive belt. The suspect, a resident of a refugee camp near Nablus in his 20s, was immediately arrested and sent to be interrogated. The man arrived at the junction from Hawara by taxi.

“We don’t have the whole picture yet,” an officer with the Samaria Regional Division said. “It’s not clear that the target was Tapuah Junction, he may have been waiting in the junction for someone to pick him up.”

The GOC Central Command’s working assumption is that the man is not associated with a terrorist organization, but was acting on his own.

Shortly after the incident it was unclear what the man’s intensions were. Border Police Chief Superintendent Shlomi Yosef said that the forces were examining whether he was on a suicide mission, but added that the awareness of the Border Police force on site and the soldiers’ professionalism “probably prevented a major disaster.”

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch spoke to the soldiers that arrested the Palestinian and told them he was proud of them and of their work, according to a statement posted on his Facebook page.

Later on Friday, two shots were fired at a vehicle near the Adam settlement in the West Bank. At least one of the shots hit the car, but no injuries were reported. Security forces were searching the area after the incident.

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Christians’ life in I$raHell not so wonderful

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Op-ed: Pope’s visit was an opportunity to highlight distress and discrimination suffered by Christian community in State of Israel.

Farid Jubran

Pope Francis’ historic visit to Israel this week, beyond its political and symbolic meaning, was highly important for the Christians living in the country. It was an opportunity to put their distress on the agenda.

The Christians’ situation in the Middle East is difficult. In Iraq, Syria and Egypt, churches are torched and Christians are slaughtered over their religion as a matter of routine. In some parts of Syria the Islamic Sharia laws have been applied, Christians are forbidden to conduct ritual ceremonies in public and special taxes have been imposed on them.

On the background of the religious persecution in many of the region’s countries, there is an impression that the Christians’ situation in Israel is good. In his latest AIPAC address, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu boasted that Israel was “the one country in the Middle East that protects Christians,” and Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor elaborated on the wonderful treatment of Christians in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Comparing between the situation of Christians in Israel and the situation of their brothers in the Middle East is populist and shameful. The “only democracy in the Middle East,” whose leaders say has “shared values” with the countries of the West, should compare the situation of its minorities to the situation of minorities in the countries it has shared values with, rather than to the situation of minorities in Middle Eastern countries.

There are some 140,000 Christians in Israel, 1.7% of the population. A minority of a minority, exposed to waves of hatred. How can anyone forget the image of Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari ripping the pages of the New Testament at the Knesset and throwing them into the garbage while uttering harsh words of incitement?

Jews in Israel fire gunshots inside churches and set fire to monasteries, spray-paint malicious graffiti and slash the tires of Christians’ cars. In the Old City of Jerusalem, religious Jews spit on monks, and in Christian cemeteries gravestones are shattered. Death threats are sent to bishops and heads of Christian communities.

Dozens of hate crimes – and the authorities stand idly by, apart from a few words of condemnation to do the minimum.

The state itself restricts the churches’ activity immensely by imposing a strict and discriminating regime of visas for Christian clerics. A priest who wishes to stay in Israel in order to serve in one of the Christian communities will be forced to undergo a humiliating via dolorosa on the part of the authorities until he receives the stay permit, if at all.

Many Christian clerics have been residing in Israel for several decades and are still restricted to a visa which does not grant them any social rights, despite their years-long service for the community in churches, schools, hospitals, senior citizens’ homes, etc.

The Christian schools that have existed in this country for centuries, in which generations of Christians, Muslims and Jews have been educated, are suffering from discrimination in the form of significantly low budgets compared to the state schools and a lack of Christian supervisors. In addition, their identity, nature and the autonomy they have always enjoyed are constantly undermined.

The Christian community itself is divided on the issue of its sons’ enlistment with the army, and the debate is inflaming the situation. The government, instead of acting as the “responsible adult” and encouraging a public discourse, has chosen to side with the enlistment supporters and set the law enforcement authorities on those who oppose it, while launching an intimidation campaign and attempting to undermine the ethnic and national identity of the Christians in Israel.

The pope’s visit, therefore, serves as a golden opportunity for decision makers in Israel. If all it comes down to is ceremonies, then it was an unnecessary visit. If, on the other hand, the visit serves as a catalyst for a discussion on the acute issues related to the Christians in Israel and on the way to handle them, it will be a blessing for everyone.

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Obama asked Riyadh royals to remove Zio-Wahhabi Bandar Bin Bush

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Bandar, who returned to Saudi Arabia in 2005 after serving as its ambassador to the US for 22 years, was often referred to in Washington as "Bandar Bush," due to his strong ties to both Bush presidents.
Bandar, who returned to Saudi Arabia in 2005 after serving as its ambassador to the US for 22 years, was often referred to in Washington as “Bandar Bush,” due to his strong ties to both Bush presidents.
Removal of Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a key figure in kingdom’s foreign relations, especially ties with the United States and the crisis in Syria, from his post raised questions as why it happened at such a critical time.

The official statement announcing the dismissal of the Saudi head of intelligence was typically laconic. Published in the name of Saudi King Abdullah, it said Prince Bandar was “released” from the post “as per his request” and replaced by General Youssef Al-Idrissi.

Israeli Haaretz daily writes in a report that on the face of it, the move could be mistaken for just another chair reshuffling, in line with others that the king has made over the past two years.

Prince Bandar’s health issues could also be taken as an explanation – the 65-year-old recently underwent treatment in the US and spent some time recuperating in Morocco.

But, the paper writes, Bandar did not resign voluntarily.

Reviewing recent disagreements between Saudi Arabia and US over Syria, Iran and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the report says, it was Obama who asked the king to dismiss Bandar, as a means of reducing the tension between the two nations.

Bandar, who returned to Saudi Arabia in 2005 after serving as its ambassador to the US for 22 years, was often referred to in Washington as “Bandar Bush,” due to his strong ties to both Bush presidents.

The business, national and personal bonds between the houses of Saud and Bush were deep and mutually beneficial – and they turned the billionaire ambassador into the face of Saudi Arabia in the US.

During his tenure, the Saudi embassy enjoyed the permanent protection of the American secret service and Bandar had free access to the Oval Office.

After 9/11, it was Bandar who succeeded, against the wishes of the FBI, in gaining special permission to fly Saudi students out of the US at a time when all air travel was at a standstill. Bandar’s wife, Princess Haifa, was once suspected of having contact with an Al Qaeda courier and a financier, but the investigation went nowhere.

Obama’s election did not freeze the relationship between the families, but the Saudis began to view the White House with suspicion. Despite the growth in trade between the two countries – Saudi Arabia has foreign currency reserves of some $650 billion and has invested deeply in US bonds – Obama’s Middle East policy raised concern.

That reached a peak with the January 25, 2011 revolution in Egypt. Obama’s unqualified support for the protest movement and his calls on then-president Hosni Mubarak to resign were seen in Saudi Arabia as treachery, both personal and ideological. A democratic revolution that had the potential of spreading into the Gulf states was the last thing the king wanted

Four days after the protests in Egypt began, Abdullah warned Obama against pressuring Mubarak to step down, arguing in favor of allowing him to oversee the democratization process before retiring. Abdullah also vowed that Saudi Arabia would provide aid to Egypt in place of the US, should America decide to halt its aid.

Saudi anger deepened when the Muslim Brotherhood won the first Egyptian election after the revolution with a large majority – and even more when Mohammed Morsi won the presidency.

The US administration’s praise of the democratic process in Egypt was insulting to Saudi ears.

While the dispute with Washington is useful for Bandar, the disagreements at home are creating a dark cloud above his head.

As head of intelligence, Bandar was also responsible for Saudi Arabia’s policy regarding Syria.

It was he who maneuvered the kingdom into a radical stance that required military intervention, both pan-Arab and international. He applied pressure on Jordan to get it to provide not only a basis for rebel training, but also a jumping-off point for an attack on Syrian government. Bandar sourced weapons in Ukraine and other countries and provided them lavishly to the rebel groups.

But, while doing so, he also encouraged Saudi extremists to embark on jihad against Assad, and nurtured some of the most radical groups in Syria, several of which had good relations with Al Qaeda. Nevertheless, Bandar was supported by the king, primarily because he promised the king that Assad’s defeat was near.

The concern of Muhammad bin Nayef was that the Saudis fighting in Syria would return to their birth-place and instill new life into the Saudi terror networks. He insisted that the kingdom no longer send volunteers to Syria and even issued an order to that effect.

That was the point at which he clashed head-on with Bandar – and won. In February, the king decided to transfer the “Syria file” from Bandar to Muhammad, who himself is a candidate to succeed the king.

At the same time, the king appointed Prince Muqrin, the youngest son of former King Abdulaziz al-Saud, as heir apparent to Crown Prince Salman Salman bin Abdulaziz.

Bandar succeeded Muqrin as intelligence chief in July 2012, a role change that itself was due to the failed management of Saudi policy in Syria.

Muqrin currently appears to be the leading successor and the dismissal of Bandar is intended to calm the political sniping in the king’s court. The next clash is expected to be between Prince Muhammad and Muqrin, and the question is whether the 90-year-old king has already drawn up a will naming his successor.

It will be the last time that a Saudi king names his successor. The next king will have to confer with, and win the agreement of, a 35-member committee, all of whom are members of the royal family.

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Obama: Military to remain backbone of US leadership

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US President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address to the 2014 graduating class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014.
US President Barack Obama delivers the commencement address to the 2014 graduating class at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, May 28, 2014.
As the United States prepares to remove its combat forces from Afghanistan after almost 13 years, President Barack Obama has said that the US military remains at the core of America’s ability to influence changes abroad.

And while the commander-in-chief added at the Military Academy at West Point’s graduating ceremony Wednesday that the Pentagon reserves the power to launch unilateral attacks when America’s interests are directly threatened, Obama urged Congress during his remarks to earmark billions to assist allied nations combating terrorism and other major threats in lieu of relying on American force in those instances, as was done in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Instead, Obama said, the US should lead by example within the international arena without creating any precedents that would pave the way for other nations to use established militaries or armed militias to further worsen tensions in the volatile regions where the US is observing from abroad.

The address — delivered to roughly 1,000 graduating students from the military school’s class of 2014 — was presented as a launching pad for the president to tout his plans concerning foreign policy as the White House finds itself on the sidelines of several international crises at the same time that America’s longest-war ever prepares to finally be put to rest, The Russia Today writes in a report.

“You are the first class to graduate since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan,” Obama said early on in his address Wednesday.

Nevertheless, the president added, removing combat forces from war-torn nations abroad is no excuse to ease back on the US military’s own abilities as tensions escalate elsewhere.

Now more than a decade after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Obama said, “the world is changing with accelerating speed” as “technology and globalization has put power once reserved for states in the hands of the individual, raising the capacity of terrorists to do harm.”

“It will be your generation’s task to respond to this new world,” Pres. Obama claimed. “The question we face – the question you will face – is not whether America will lead, but how we will lead, not just to secure our peace and prosperity, but also to extend peace and prosperity around the globe. “

To accomplish as much, he added, the US must reserve its ability to use military force, even unilaterally, “when our people are threatened; when our livelihood is at stake; or when the security of our allies is in danger.”

“On the other hand, when issues of global concern that do not pose a direct threat to the United States are at stake – when crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction – then the threshold for military action must be higher,” he alleged. “In such circumstances, we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. We must broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law and – if just, necessary, and effective – multilateral military action. “

With regards to what the US can accomplish without exercising its military might, the president called on Congress during Wednesday’s address to agree on a plan that would reserve billions of dollars in taxpayer money towards helping the so-called counterterrorism programs abroad.

“I am calling on Congress to support a new Counter-Terrorism Partnerships Fund of up to $5 billion, which will allow us to train, build capacity, and facilitate partner countries on the front lines,” he said at West Point. “These resources will give us flexibility to fulfill different missions, including training security forces in Yemen who have gone on the offensive against Al-Qaeda; supporting a multinational force to keep the peace in Somalia; working with European allies to train a functioning security force and border patrol in Libya; and facilitating French operations in Mali.”

Additionally, Obama also said he will work with Congress to ramp up support for militants up against the Syrian government, and will step up efforts in neighboring countries, including Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and Iraq, to provide American assistance.

Elsewhere during Wednesday’s address, the president reiterated points he made during a highly touted national security addresses presented nearly one year earlier at a Washington DC military school in which he called for a major change in the way the US conducts terrorism operations. One year to the week after Pres. Obama announced intended changes to the US drone program and the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, he again this week announced plans to reform both.

This administration will “be transparent about both the basis for our actions and the manner in which they are carried out – whether it is drone strikes, or training partners,” Obama said Wednesday morning. “But, when we cannot explain our efforts clearly and publicly, we face terrorist propaganda and international suspicion; we erode legitimacy with our partners and our people; and we reduce accountability in our own government.”

“Here’s my bottom line: America must always lead on the world stage,” he said elsewhere during his address. “If we don’t, no one else will. The military that you have joined is, and always will be, the backbone of that leadership.”

“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being. But what makes us exceptional is not our ability to flout international norms and the rule of law; it’s our willingness to affirm them through our actions,” he added. “That’s why I will continue to push to close [Guantanamo Bay] – because American values and legal traditions don’t permit the indefinite detention of people beyond our borders.”

Moments earlier, Obama referenced by name the armed drone missions that have put US unmanned vehicles in Somalia and Yemen, but did not mention by name other countries, including Pakistan, where the Central Intelligence Agency maintains a covert and controversial drone program yet to be acknowledged by the White House.

 

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Iranians hack US, I$raHell military, political institutions

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cyber warfare has become a 2-way street
cyber warfare has become a 2-way street
The world is becoming more exciting. Cyber warfare is heating up and many players are joining the fray. In the latest revelations, Iranian hackers have been hacking into American and Israeli military and political leaders’ accounts. That should be exciting.

Cyber warfare is not a one-way street, as many computer savvy buffs would admit. In the past, if the Americans and zionists enjoyed some advantage—remember the Stuxnet virus spread by American and Israeli saboteurs into Iran’s computer systems operating their nuclear plants—this has now been somewhat neutralized by others joining the fray.

An American cyber intelligence firm—iSight Partners—has just released a report claiming that Iranians have been hacking into the accounts of military and political leaders in the United States, Israel and other countries for three years.

Did it take iSight three years to figure this out? The cyber intelligence company released the report yesterday (May 28) claiming that Iranian hackers have been targeting senior US military and diplomatic personnel, congressional staff, Washington DC area journalists, US think tanks, defense contractors in the US and Israel, as well as others who are vocal supporters of the Zionist regime.

So who was targeted and what data did the Iranians mine? The American cyber intelligence company would not say but it admitted that the hackers were seeking credentials to access government and corporate networks, as well as to take down machines with software.

Interestingly, iSight did admit it could not tell what data had been mined but revealed that the operations were going on since 2011. Could they not have gone on for much longer, and that iSight was not aware of them?

The iSight report also said that hackers “are using more than a dozen fake personas on social networking sites,” including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, YouTube, and Blogger “to covertly obtain log-in credentials to the email systems of their victims.”

What does it expect; the Iranians to announce publicly using their own names that they are hacking into US military and political leaders’ accounts? Is it not a fact that American CIA operatives use all kinds of aliases to carry out espionage in other countries? Why should cyber intelligence be any different?

It was Dick Cheney, vice president under former US President George Bush, who outed Valerie Plame, wife of US ambassador Joseph Wilson, as a CIA agent. Her husband had exposed the fraudulent claim by the Americans that the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussain had purchased uranium yellow cake from Niger to make a nuclear bomb.

In information leaked from Cheney’s office but given out through Richard Armitage at the US State Department, journalist Robert Novak in his July 14, 2003 column in the Washington Post, exposed Plame as a CIA agent. That effectively ended her career.

CIA agents use other covers as well and operate as businessmen, academics, simple tourists, or even spouses of diplomats. Valerie Plame’s cover was brilliant: who could suspect an ambassador’s charming wife to be a CIA agent?

With iSight’s latest revelations, we enter the new era in espionage and cyber warfare. The world is becoming more interesting but more importantly, it is becoming a level playing field. That could not be bad for the world at large!

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