Archive | February 21st, 2016

Mark of the beast: Fascist Trump wants to reinstate torture

NOVANEWS

Fascist Trump wants to reinstate torture – will the rest of the candidates fall in line? Looks like it!

Image result for Trump CARTOON

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump wrote an Op-Ed in support of waterboarding and other enhanced interrogation techniques. It’s not the first time he’s spoken in favor of torture. While some fellow candidates agree with him, others do not.

Waterboarding was an “enhanced interrogation technique” employed in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But the practice was eventually banned by the George W. Bush administration ‒ after it simulated drowning for its prisoners for years ‒ because waterboarding was deemed to be torture.

Most Republican candidates believe in some version of enhanced interrogation technique, while both Democratic candidates disagree.

On Monday, USA Today published an Op-Ed written by Trump about the use of enhanced interrogation techniques, which include practices such as electric shocks, dogs, nudity, hypothermia, mock executions and more. All of those techniques are specifically banned by the US Army Field Manual.

“Though the effectiveness of many of these methods may be in dispute, nothing should be taken off the table when American lives are at stake,” Trump wrote. “The enemy is cutting off the heads of Christians and drowning them in cages, and yet we are too politically correct to respond in kind.”

Comment: So their effectiveness is in dispute, but everything should be ‘on the table’. We wonder what Trump has in mind… The Iron Maiden? The Rack? The Judas cradle?

Trump said that the Op-Ed was designed so that his position on torture was clear to American voters, but it is just one in a line of such declarations, including his comment on doing “a hell of a lot worse” than waterboarding during a February 6 debate.

“I would absolutely authorize something beyond waterboarding,” Trump told George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s ‘This Week’ the next day. “And believe me, it will be effective. If we need information, George, you have our enemy cutting heads off of Christians and plenty of others, by the hundreds, by the thousands.”

Despite his adamant stance against torture, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas not only called for the re-institution of waterboarding during the February 6 presidential debate, but actually justified the practice by saying it didn’t meet the definition of torture.

“Well, under the definition of torture, no, it’s not,” he said. “Under the law, torture is excruciating pain that is equivalent to losing organs and systems, so under the definition of torture, it is not. It is enhanced interrogation, it is vigorous interrogation, but it does not meet the generally recognized definition of torture.”

Comment: Cruz should subject himself to a little “vigorous interrogation” and see what he thinks then.

He did promise, however, that he would “not bring it back in any sort of widespread use.”

Under Cruz’s definition, the Intercept’s Alex Emmons noted, the treatment his father endured in a Cuban prison would not qualify as torture. The elder Cruz was imprisoned before the Cuban Revolution, where he was beaten, kicked and had his teeth bashed in, among other horrors, the Texas senator said in his 2015 book.

Former neurosurgeon Ben Carson believes that steps to ban torture amount to caving to the pressure of political correctness, and is a dangerous precedent when dealing with an enemy that doesn’t follow the Geneva Convention.

Comment: Are we seriously living in an age where morons like Carson can get away with stuff like this? The idea that torture is wrong is only ‘political correctness’?? No, one’s position on torture is an indication of whether they’re human or not. And you ain’t, Carson. How’s that for PC?

“I’m not one who is real big on telling the enemy what we’re going to do and what we’re not going to do,” Carson said on ‘This Week’ in November. “I don’t see where that accomplishes anything for us.”

Florida Senator Marco Rubio believes that terrorism cases do not require the same legal standards of traditional law enforcement.

“Well, when people talk about interrogating terrorists, they’re acting like this is some sort of law enforcement function,” he said during the New Hampshire debate. “Law enforcement is about gathering evidence to take someone to trial, and convict them. Anti-terrorism is about finding out information to prevent a future attack so the same tactics do not apply.”

Comment: What people need to understand about Rubio’s above statement is how easily the state will be able to label anyone terrorists – protesters, activists, whistleblowers, etc. Anyone can fit the label if the government puts its considerable powers to use. It’s not something that will just be used “out there”, but it will no doubt eventually become common practice at home against all kinds of people and eventually you.

He also believes that the Guantanamo Bay Detention Center should not only remain open indefinitely, but should receive new prisoners.

“If we capture terrorists, they’re going to Guantanamo, and we will find out everything they know,” Rubio said in a January GOP presidential debate.

Ohio Governor John Kasich was pressed about his position on torture by a New Hampshire resident after the February debate in that state. He spoke of the TV show ’24’, noting that “there could be a Jack Bauer moment [where] I gotta find out what the heck is going on.”

Comment: Annnnddd, TV propaganda proves its usefulness. Really, Kasich? Using a cheesy terror propaganda TV show to make your point? Don’t have anything better?

Yet Kasich also said that, since his 18-year stint on the House Armed Services Committee, he has been advised that torture often doesn’t work.

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has long sought to distance himself from many of his older brother’s presidential policies. When it comes to enhanced interrogation techniques, however, he has never quite been able to separate himself.

“I don’t want to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement,” Bush said in August 2015, when asked about repealing an executive order banning torture.

Comment: Will Bush also refuse to make a definitive, blanket kind of statement regarding rape and military targeting of civilians?

Yet in the February 6 debate, Bush was the only Republican candidate to speak out against the practice.

Comment: That really says something, doesn’t it?

Days later, on February 9, Senator John McCain (R-Arizona), who ran against now-President Barack Obama in 2008, condemned the torture rhetoric of the current crop of GOP hopefuls. The 79-year-old former Navy pilot was captured and tortured by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

“These statements must not go unanswered because they mislead the American people about the realities of interrogation, how to gather intelligence, what it takes to defend our security and at the most fundamental level, what we are fighting for as a nation and what kind of nation we are,” McCain said on the Senate floor.

The topic of torture has not been a factor in the Democratic race, in part because the two candidates stand firmly against the practice, and those stances have solidified over time.

When the Senate Intelligence Committee released its investigation on the CIA’s use of enhanced interrogation in December 2014, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) spoke out strongly against the practice.

“A great nation must be prepared to acknowledge its errors. This report details an ugly chapter in American history during which our leaders and the intelligence community dishonored our nation’s proud traditions,” he said in a statement. “Of course we must aggressively pursue international terrorists who would do us harm, but we must do so in a way that is consistent with the basic respect for human rights which makes us proud to be Americans.”

The self-described democratic socialist followed up that statement in June, when he voted in favor of a Senate amendment that sought to “reaffirm the prohibition on torture.”

In December 2014, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke out against waterboarding during a speech accepting an award from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights.

“America is at our best when our actions match our values,” she said, adding that she was “proud” to be a part of the Obama administration when the current president banned such tactics in a 2009 executive order.

Terrorist attacks “not only break hearts but should steel our resolve and underscore that our values are what set us apart from our adversaries,” Clinton said.

Comment: Oh, this is rich. This is the same Clinton who ‘values’ lynching foreign leaders, working with Islamic extremists to topple secular regimes, taking money from children, and generally being an odious witch.

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Nazi Willful Killing ‘VIDEO’

NOVANEWS

Nazi Willful Killing

This video shows examples of Jewish Nazi ongoing policy of executing Palestinians and how Nazi politicians instruct and encourage Nazi forces to shoot to kill any Palestinian suspect.

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Jaafari: So-Called MSF Hospital Installed without Syria Permission

NOVANEWS
Image result for medical aid charity MSF LOGO
Al-Manar 

Syria’s UN envoy Bashar Jaafari accused the medical aid charity MSF of being a front for French intelligence in Syria and dismissed allegations that Russian air strikes had destroyed one of its hospitals.

“The so-called hospital was installed without any prior consultation with the Syrian government by the so-called French network called MSF which is a branch of the French intelligence operating in Syria,” said Jaafari.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) said at least 11 people were killed after the hospital in Idlib province was destroyed on Monday morning, but it did not assign blame for the attack.

“They assume the full consequences of the act because they did not consult with the Syrian government,” Jaafari told reporters.

“They did not operate with the Syrian government permission.”

He repeated Syrian accusations that the US-led coalition had carried out the air strikes that hit the MSF-backed hospital.

The Syrian ambassador spoke following a UN Security Council meeting called by Russia to discuss Turkey’s military action against Kurdish fighters in northern Syria.

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Plagued by dishonesty – The ‘Israeli’ Media

NOVANEWS
By Miko Peled 

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As I write these words, Palestinian journalist Mohammad Alqiq is on the eighty-second day of his hunger strike, and may well be taking his last breaths, protesting his illegal and unjustifiable arrest by Israel. As this humanitarian drama is taking place, the Israeli media is obsessed with some infantile rivalry between Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and the Israeli President Rivlin, arguably, two of the stupidest men in the Middle East, and typically, the story of Alqiq barely gets mentioned. This of course is no surprise. The Israeli media is a combination of tabloid garbage and self-righteousness justifying Israeli crimes. In fact, trying to watch the news via the Israeli media is altogether a mind numbing experience, making Fox news seem like serious journalism.

With very few exceptions, the Israeli media reports as though their heads are so deep in the sand they can’t tell if it’s day or night. The racist segregation enforced by Israel is so effective that as an Israeli you can spend an entire lifetime living minutes away from Gaza and know nothing about Gaza other than what is offered by the Israel media. Unless it is commending the Israeli forces for their courage in fighting Hamas terrorists, or perhaps reporting about a funeral of a soldier who gave his or her life defending us from Hamas terrorists, there is rarely a word about the conditions in Gaza.

Lately, the Israeli press is obsessed with the fact the former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is going to jail. Olmert was tried and after many years convicted for corruption that took place during his term as mayor of Jerusalem and now, finally after appeals and delays he is in jail.

Olmert will serve his prison term in a special VIP section of a minimum security prison. Because he is a former PM and needs secret service protection, a special secure section was built for him in the prison. So the Israel media ponders whether he will be lonely, will the odors and sounds of prison bother him. They also remembered to point out that Israel already has a former president behind bars and had a former cabinet member.

The Olmert story demonstrates the dishonesty which plagues Israeli society and is typical of the Israeli media. Olmert was Prime Minister during the Israeli massacre in Gaza that began in December 2008. A massacre Israel named “Cast Lead.” Ehud Olmert is a war criminal. He was directly responsible for the murder of at least one thousand and five hundred men, women and children in Gaza. He is responsible for untold thousands who were injured and made homeless in Gaza. But he was only charged for stealing money and will serve a symbolic nineteen-month prison sentence and not the life sentence a war criminal of such proportions deserves. But in Israel murdering Palestinians is not a crime.

No one in the Israeli media asked how is it that this war criminal was not charged with murder but only a symbolic corruption charge. This is because other than Gideon Levi and Amira Hass who write for Ha’aretz daily, there are no dissenting voices in the Israeli media. Even Ha’aretz, a liberal establishment paper is read by very few people, many of whom live abroad. What one learns from the Israeli media is that Palestine does not exist, Gaza had disappeared long ago, and all there is to write and talk about is tabloid news. On occasion, when a Palestinian breaks out and attacks an Israeli they take a moment to report the incident and they might even follow up with an “in-depth” report. For example, there was a report recently on Israeli television’s channel 10 called “Children Terrorists” looking into the reasons behind the phenomenon or young Palestinian child-terrorists.

This report conveniently glides over the fact that there is no such thing as “child-terrorists,” at least no Palestinian ones. There is a phenomenon of Israeli soldiers, police and plain civilian vigilantes murdering young Palestinians and then claiming that they were “terrorists.” There is no reference in the report that Israel has declared a war on Palestinian children, arresting and abusing children on a regular basis, as a policy. There is however “in-depth analysis” as to the influences that radicalized them. The reporters went into Shuafat refugee camp near Jerusalem to see these children first hand. In one instance, as the camera shows young children in the street, the reporter says: “these children know the ones who infiltrated Jerusalem intending to commit acts of terror. In fact, thousands of these children have been arrested and interrogated by the security forces.”

The slight of hand in which the lies are perpetuated is indicative of the Israeli PR magic show. The reporter is admitting that these children are constantly harassed by the police, though he leaves out that this is done without their parents being present and without access to a lawyer. The actions of the security forces are, of course “justified” and “prove” that there is indeed such a thing as a “Child-terrorist.” The report goes on to talk about the danger in which brave soldiers and police officers find themselves due to the incitement against them on Palestinian websites and by Palestinian extremists. Though it does not explore the possibility that young Palestinians may be driven from time to time to attack armed soldiers and police officers because of the constant harassment, beating and killings of Palestinians by the army and the police. Admitting that this is the case would make it clear that it is not terrorism but legitimate resistance.

There is constant debate in Israel whether or not the security forces do enough to fight Palestinian resistance. Most people agree that the Israeli military is not killing enough Palestinians and that the politicians are too weak and therefore the Palestinians continue to kill Israelis. Some voices, from time to time tell a different story. Ha’aretz newspaper just came out with a story that it is because of the Israeli army’s policy of leniency that the current uprising is not worse. “Had the army killed more Palestinians” they tell us, “or reduced the number of Palestinians allowed to work in Israel far more Palestinians would likely be participating in violent clashes.” So, according to the Israeli media, the Israeli army is lenient and should be commended for it, Palestinians are permitted to enter Israel to work and therefore should be happy, and the “clashes” could be worse. And this just in, a famous Rabbi convicted of bribing a senior Israeli police officer, will be joining former Prime Minister Olmert in Prison.

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Debunking the “The Saudis did 9-11” nonsense!

NOVANEWS

Image result for 9/11 cartoon drawing

The official story of 9-11 is collapsing almost as fast as the Obamacare website. Most Americans are now well aware of the strange collapse of WTC Building 7, the video that captures the sound of the actual explosion that initiates the collapse of WTC7, the very strange behavior of the Secret Service as President Bush read about goats at Booker Elementary School. We have all seen the photographs that confirm the remains of demolition “cutter charges” in the remains of the towers. And we all know how the BBC reported that Building 7 collapsed 26 minutes before it actually happened. indicating a script was being followed (but alas, not carefully enough).

With the official story in free fall, Americans are wondering just who did this heinous deed. With the US Government itself the prime suspect, many are asking if the US Government had help from an outside nation, one with a long track record of world-changing dirty tricks.

There is a great deal of evidence that implicates the nation of Israel as a co-conspirator with the Bush administration. First, there was the massive Israeli spy ring uncovered in the United States just before 9-11, and how some of the “Dancing Israelis” arrested after being seen cheering and dancing as the World Trade Towers collapsed turned out to be Mossad spies! Then there was the strange case of Odigo, an Israeli-owned company whose New York offices received a warning about the attacks before the planes used in the attacks had even left the ground! All four of the hijacked planes departed from airport gates whose security was provided by the same Israeli security company. Israel has a long track record of playing dirty tricks against the United States and other countries, including the Lavon affair (framed on Egypt), Israel’s attack on the USS Liberty (initially framed on Egypt), and Israel’s smuggling a radio transmitter into Libya that was used to send fake messages that tricked President Reagan into bombing Libya.

As people start to seriously examine the plethora of evidence regarding Israel’s numerous perfidies it comes as no surprise that recently we have seen Israel’s “useful idiots” launch a propaganda campaign to claim that Saudi Arabia was behind the 9-11 attacks, based on a lawsuit brought against Saudi Arabia by the families of the victims, and a secret report that Representatives Stephen F. Lynch and Walter B. Jones are demanding be made public; a report that purportedly claims Saudi arabia was behind 9-11. But anyone can bring a lawsuit against anyone for anything. That does not mean the lawsuit allegations are true. Nonsense lawsuits are a reality of the modern US court system, as are lawsuits staged primarily as political and propaganda stunts, which is what this appears to be. Likewise, the report the Representatives wish to make public appears to be the US Government’s attempt to “get ahead of the ball” and craft a new lie to replace the one that has failed. At the very least these two pieces of propaganda are intended to deflect interest away from Israel. At worst, it is the start of the campaign to justify military invasion of that country, just as Saddam’s nuclear weapons were the excuse to invade Iraq, and the more recently (and thankfully failed) attempt to justify invasion of Syria by claiming Syria’s government was gassing their own people.

As I have mentioned before, the best way to tell if you are being lied to is to look for what should be there but isn’t. In the case of the claim that Saudi Arabia was behind 9-11, what should be there and isn’t is a motive for Saudi Arabia to do something like that.

George Bush had a motive to do 9-11. He needed that “new Pearl Harbor” to enrage Americans into the century of war called for by the Project For The New American Century. Israel certainly had a motive to do 9-11 and frame Muslims for it, to trick Americans into siding with Israel’s continued land grabs and wars against Israel’s enemies, with Israel’s agenda being (as it was with the Lavon affair, the USS Liberty, and the Libyan radio hoax) that Americans fight those wars for them!

Saudi Arabia does not have a history of dirty tricks, nor a demonstrated ability to carry out such deceptions. More to the point, Saudi Arabia has no motive to attack the United States. The Saudi princes have grown very rich indeed through the Petrodollar arrangement. Saudi Arabia buys many American products and weapons ($61 billion in 2011), and unlike Israel, the American taxpayer does not have to give them the money first with which to buy those weapons. Whereas Israel constantly takes money out of the US, the Saudis pour it in! Private Saudi investment in the US economy is over $400 billion. Saudi Arabia is a major creditor to the US Government. Exact figures are hard to find but Saudi Arabia has loaned the US Government hundreds of billions of dollars.

Saudi Arabia is not going to risk an attack on the US because all that wealth would vanish. The Saudi wealth inside the US would be frozen or seized, and the outstanding loans to the US would never be repaid. The “useful idiots” trying to save Israel by blaming 9-11 on Saudi Arabia have yet to come up with a motive for the Saudis to do something like 9-11 that risks losing all that cash.

Remember that Saudi Arabia was being framed for 9-11 right from the start. One of the accused hijackers, a Saudi Pilot named Saeed Al-Ghamdi, was still alive after 9-11 and sued the US Government for defaming him.

And finally, here is some common sense that totally undermines the attempt to frame Saudi Arabia for 9-11. If Saudi Arabia really wanted to hurt the United States, they don’t need to fly airplanes into skyscrapers to do it. All they have to do is ask for their money back, all at once. The resulting damage to the US financial system would make 9-11 look like a minor inconvenience in comparison.

And it would be perfectly legal for Saudi Arabia to ask for their money back.

Which is why we know that the claim that Saudi Arabia was behind 9-11 has no more basis in fact than the claim that Saddam had nuclear weapons or that Assad gassed his own people right in front of the UN chemical weapons inspectors.

As the media tries to blame Saudi Arabia for 9-11, it is worth recalling that the Bush administration initially claimed that Iraq was behind 9-11 to sell the 2003 invasion, then later admitted Iraq had actually been innocent. So there is a pattern of the US simply using 9-11 as a “one size fits all” excuse to invade yet another oil rich nation.

At the very least, even if you accept the new claim that Saudi Arabia was behind 9-11, then it means the US Government was lying when they claimed Afghanistan and then Iraq were behind it! So why would you trust them now?

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Kenya Wants Its Own Guantanamo

NOVANEWS
Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, center, and Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, at a memorial for Kenyan soldiers killed in Somalia, held at a military barracks in Eldoret, Kenya, Jan. 27, 2016.
BY OMAR MOHAMMEDQUARTZ

Critics say the plan will only alienate citizens with ties to Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab is based.

Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech on Tuesday (Feb. 16) that his government is thinking about building a prison that will hold those with “violent and extremist” tendencies to limit their ability to spread “poison” to other prisoners.

“We will establish a new prison to hold violent, extremist offenders,” Kenyatta, speaking at a graduation ceremony for new prison guards, said. “The truth of the matter is that we cannot allow them to spread their poison to vulnerable Kenyans.”

It was unclear who, specifically, Kenyatta was referring to. But the language he used in the speech suggests that he may have been talking about individuals with alleged ties to the Somali militant group Al-Shabaab.

Kenya has been targeted by the al Qaeda-affiliated organization ever since the country sent troops into Somalia in 2011 to help defeat the group and secure the country for the government. Several high profile attacks by the Shabaab, including at a high end mall in Nairobi and a university in the northeast of the country, have killed hundreds of people.

Last June, Kenyatta suggested that the situation is forcing Kenya to think of new ways to combat the threat.

“We must accept that we are faced with a new kind of enemy against whom the conventional methods of fighting crime will not work,” he said. “We have amongst us radicalized youths who appear innocent which makes us believe that they are doing God’s work while they are busy planning evil against other Kenyans in the name of religion.”

At the time Kenyatta indicated that his government was going to work with community and religious leaders to protect against such radicalization. But the decision to potentially build a special prison to detain individuals suspected of extremism could portend a new phase of Kenyatta’s administration’s anti-terrorism efforts. It follows another radical idea, yet to be fully realized, of building a wall along the Kenya-Somalia border the government says will keep out the militants.

Some analysts compare the proposed prison to the controversial US naval base in Cuba’s Guantanamo Bay where the US government has been holding prisoners suspected of terrorism. They say this approach will only work to exacerbate the already difficult relationship the government has with Kenyans of Somali ethnic origin, a community it cannot afford to alienate in its anti-terrorism efforts.

“There is a real risk that this prison for jihadists may only fuel anti-Kenyan government sentiments, especially if the majority of the prisoners in this jail are Somali Kenyans,” Ahmed Salim, a senior analyst at Teneo Intelligence, told Quartz. “Effective counterterrorism measures requires the support and buy-in from communities.”

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Start Preparing for the Collapse of the Wahhabi Kingdom

NOVANEWS

BY SARAH CHAYESALEX DE WAAL

Saudi Arabia is no state at all. It’s an unstable business so corrupt to resemble a criminal organization and the U.S. should get ready for the day after.

For half a century, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been the linchpin of U.S. Mideast policy. A guaranteed supply of oil has bought a guaranteed supply of security. Ignoring autocratic practices and the export of Wahhabi extremism, Washington stubbornly dubs its ally “moderate.” So tight is the trust thatU.S. special operators dip into Saudi petrodollars as a counterterrorism slush fund without a second thought. In a sea of chaos, goes the refrain, the kingdom is one state that’s stable.

But is it?

In fact, Saudi Arabia is no state at all. There are two ways to describe it: as a political enterprise with a clever but ultimately unsustainable business model, or so corrupt as to resemble in its functioning a vertically and horizontally integrated criminal organization. Either way, it can’t last. It’s past time U.S.decision-makers began planning for the collapse of the Saudi kingdom.

In recent conversations with military and other government personnel, we were startled at how startled they seemed at this prospect. Here’s the analysis they should be working through.

Understood one way, the Saudi king isCEO of a family business that converts oil into payoffs that buy political loyalty. They take two forms: cash handouts or commercial concessions for the increasingly numerous scions of the royal clan, and a modicum of public goods and employment opportunities for commoners. The coercive “stick” is supplied by brutal internal security services lavishly equipped with American equipment.

The U.S. has long counted on the ruling family having bottomless coffers of cash with which to rent loyalty. Even accounting today’s low oil prices, and as Saudi officials step up arms purchases and military adventures in Yemen and elsewhere, Riyadh is hardly running out of funds.

Still, expanded oil production in the face of such low prices—until the Feb. 16 announcement of a Saudi-Russian freeze at very high January levels—may reflect an urgent need for revenue as well as other strategic imperatives. Talk of a Saudi Aramco IPO similarly suggests a need for hard currency.

A political market, moreover, functions according to demand as well as supply. What if the price of loyalty rises?

It appears that is just what’s happening. King Salman had to spend lavishly to secure the allegiance of the notables who were pledged to the late King Abdullah. Here’s what played out in two other countries when this kind of inflation hit. In South Sudan, an insatiable elite not only diverted the newly minted country’s oil money to private pockets but also kept up their outsized demands when the money ran out, sparking a descent into chaos. The Somali government enjoys generous donor support, but is priced out of a very competitive political market by a host of other buyers—with ideological, security or criminal agendas of their own.

Such comparisons may be offensive to Saudi leaders, but they are telling. If the loyalty price index keeps rising, the monarchy could face political insolvency.

The Saudi ruling elite is operating something like a sophisticated criminal enterprise.

Looked at another way, the Saudi ruling elite is operating something like a sophisticated criminal enterprise, when populations everywhere are making insistent demands for government accountability. With its political and business elites interwoven in a monopolistic network, quantities of unaccountable cash leaving the country for private investments and lavish purchases abroad, and state functions bent to serve these objectives, Saudi Arabia might be compared to such kleptocracies as Viktor Yanukovich’s Ukraine.

Increasingly, Saudi citizens are seeing themselves as just that: citizens, not subjects. In countries as diverse as Nigeria, Ukraine, Brazil, Moldova, and Malaysia, people are contesting criminalized government and impunity for public officials—sometimes violently. In more than half a dozen countries in 2015, populations took to the streets to protest corruption. In three of them, heads of state are either threatened or have had to resign. Elsewhere, the same grievances have contributed to the expansion of jihadi movements or criminal organizations posing as Robin Hoods. Russia and China’s external adventurism can at least partially be explained as an effort to re-channel their publics‘ dissatisfaction with the quality of governance.

Related: Defense One‘s complete coverage of Saudi Arabia

For the moment, it is largely Saudi Arabia’s Shiite minority that is voicing political demands. But the highly educated Sunni majority, with unprecedented exposure to the outside world, is unlikely to stay satisfied forever with a few favors doled out by geriatric rulers impervious to their input. And then there are the “guest workers.” Saudi officials, like those in other Gulf states, seem to think they can exploit an infinite supply of indigents grateful to work at whatever conditions. But citizens are now heavily outnumbered in their own countries by laborers who may soon begin claiming rights.

For decades, Riyadh has eased pressure by exporting its dissenters—like Osama bin Laden—fomenting extremism across the Muslim world. But that strategy can backfire: bin Laden’s critique of Saudi corruption has been taken up by others and resonates among many Arabs. And King Salman (who is 80, by the way) does not display the dexterity of his half-brother Abdullah. He’s reached for some of the familiar items in the autocrats’ toolbox: executing dissidents, embarking on foreign wars, and whipping up sectarian rivalries to discredit Saudi Shiite demands and boost nationalist fervor. Each of these has grave risks.

There are a few ways things could go, as Salman’s brittle grip on power begins cracking.

One is a factional struggle within the royal family, with the price of allegiance bid up beyond anyone’s ability to pay in cash. Another is foreign war. With Saudi Arabia and Iran already confronting each other by proxy in Yemen and Syria, escalation is too easy. U.S. decision-makers should bear that danger in mind as they keep pressing for regional solutions to regional problems. A third scenario is insurrection—either a non-violent uprising or a jihadi insurgency—a result all too predictable given episodes throughout the region in recent years.

An energetic red team should shoot holes in the automatic-pilot thinking that has guided Washington policy to date.

The U.S. keeps getting caught flat-footed when purportedly solid countries came apart. At the very least, and immediately, rigorous planning exercises should be executed, in which different scenarios and different potential U.S.actions to reduce the codependence and mitigate the risks can be tested. Most likely, and most dangerous, outcomes should be identified, and an energetic red team should shoot holes in the automatic-pilot thinking that has guided Washington policy to date.

“Hope is not a policy” is a hackneyed phrase. But choosing not to consider alternatives amounts to the same thing.

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Look Out, Special Operators in Syria, the Internet Has Spotted You and That’s a Problem

NOVANEWS

A U.S. Marine special operator assists with security during a construction project for an Afghan Local Police (ALP) checkpoint in Helmand province, Afghanistan, March 30, 2013.

BY HARRY OPPENHEIMERAARON PICOZZICOUNCIL 

It’s not only the improvement of an airstrip in Northeast Syria that warrants attention, but how it was discovered.

An unparalleled, indiscriminate and growing wave of transparency is exposing the deployment of military assets—once found only through labored searches of technical publications—and high definition, near-real-time images of geographical locations worldwide, are obtainable through the click of a mouse. As tensions rise between the United States and potential state and non-state adversaries, the veil of secrecy that at one time could only be lifted by intelligence agencies is now accessible to virtually anyone via the worldwide web.

Many news outlets picked up on the recent expansion of an airstrip in Remeillan, Syria—a Kurdish-controlled area 365 miles from NATO Incirlik air base in Turkey. The strip, that was just 2,300 feet long by 82 feet wide on April 17, 2015, has been expanded to 4,330 feet by 190 feet wide, with an 82 feet by 92 feet apron, as of December 18, 2015.CNN placed a reporter on the ground to give an eyewitness account of the activities taking place near the strip—described as herdsmen with sheep, oil pumps, and mud brick houses. Yet, this leaves many unanswered questions.

Why does the expansion of an isolated airstrip warrant attention? It is not only the improvement of the airstrip, but also how it was discovered. The construction was observed by IHSJanes using commercial satellite imagery gathered, in this case, from Airbus Defence and Space, but which could be purchased from a number of sources for a few thousand dollars. What are the deeper implications of this runway? Without taking a trip to Syria or accessing classified sources, can a person answer this question using only open sources?

Considering the old dimensions of the airstrip, the most functional American fixed-wing cargo aircraft with the technical capability to land at the strip is the C-27J. With a required runway length of 2,400 feet, it fits close to the specifications. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) took control of these planes in 2014 after they failed to meet air force requirements. Otherwise, only helicopters or V-22s could operate out of the old strip, a fact that has been reported by news sources.

This data comes without the burden launching and managing satellites, or gathering primary intelligence.

With the expanded dimensions of the strip, the most versatile airplane that could be used in this space is the C-130—a multi-role, long-range tactical aircraft. An assault landing, a technique used when faced with a short landing strip or when taking enemy fire it is likely, requires only a 3,000- by 60-foot airstrip. The other aircraft capable of landing on this strip is the C-17—a cargo and transport aircraft larger than the C-130 that requires a 3,000- by 90-foot airstrip for an assault landing. Though landing either of these aircrafts was impossible on the old strip, it is well within the limits of the new field. A C-17 is more efficient at delivering cargo, but less flexible, and the air force prefers to use them for inter-theater transport.

As a baseline, the C-27J has a max payload of 25,000 pounds and can carry a Jackal, a versatile ground vehicle. So, what additional capabilities do the C-130 and C-17 provide that are worth the effort of expanding an airstrip in remote Syria?

There are several capabilities the United States might want to have with these new platforms. The C-130 can now be parked on the apron and used as a force-multiplier to provide rapid ground refueling for helicopters, fast attack vehicles (FAVs), or Ospreys. This C-130 could also be utilized for aeromedical evacuation, to bring in six FAVs, such as Flyers or Ranger Special Operations Vehicle, at a time, fly as part of a Unified Command Suite to coordinate efforts on the ground and provide a central link to fighters in the area, or drop off a High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) to provide a precision strike capability in northern Syria. If the military just wants to drop off supplies, a C-17 can deliver 73,000 pounds of equipment at a time with a 90-minute turnaround. Those pallets could carry in weapons, ammunition, light vehicles, drones, or other supplies.

Each set of capabilities is linked to a different mission. The higher payload capacity could provide increased material support for Kurdish Forces, faster refueling capabilities could better enable air operations to support allies on the ground, and FAVs could strengthen snatch and grab capabilities in the area.

A supporter of the self-declared Islamic State could use open-source information to perform this type of analysis full time.

Individuals can purchase commercial surveillance images of specific areas of concern. They are able to “roll back time,” looking at images from present to inception, to answer the questions of who, what, when, and where. The United States has repeated employed this strategy, both stateside and overseas, with satellites, blimps, and conventional airplanes. Following an improvised explosive device (IED) blast, or the murder of a law enforcement official,U.S. authorities such as the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) often utilize imagery to track the parties involved.

An interested party can do this analysis from the comfort of their office without access to classified information, contacts on the ground, or even any database subscriptions. This data comes without the burden launching and managing satellites, or gathering primary intelligence. While it’s nothing new that a Russian military intelligence unit could complete a comprehensive study of a Syrian airstrip, it is novel that a supporter of the self-declared Islamic State could use open-source information to perform this type of analysis full time. They could now purchase satellite images to track similar scenarios and to inform grand strategy and prioritize targets. A radical jihadist version of Elliott Higgins, the British citizen journalist who has exposed Russian actions in Ukraine and Syria using open-source intelligence, would be a prized asset for any extremist group.

Posted in SyriaComments Off on Look Out, Special Operators in Syria, the Internet Has Spotted You and That’s a Problem

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ceases $3 billion military aid to Lebanon

NOVANEWS
Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) demonstrate their skills at the forces simulation training village during their inauguration ceremony in the town of Aramoun south of the capital Beirut on October 8, 2015. (AFP Photo)<br />
Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) demonstrate their skills at the forces simulation training village during their inauguration ceremony in the town of Aramoun south of the capital Beirut on October 8, 2015. (AFP Photo)

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi has suspended a $3 billion package to the Lebanese army and the remainder of a $1 billion in aid to its internal security forces.

The decision, announced on Friday, comes following recent victories by the Syrian army, backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance fighters, against the Takfiri militants fighting to topple the Damascus government.

Riyadh proceeded to “a total evaluation of its relations with the Lebanese republic” in light of positions taken by Hezbollah, an unnamed official told the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Press Agency.

The Syrian forces, backed by the Hezbollah fighters and Russian warplanes, have recently made major advances against militants.

Syrian government forces have been fighting a foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. Some 470,000 people have been killed and 1.9 million injured, according to the Syrian Center for Policy Research.

The $3 billion package was provided to Lebanon to buy military equipment from France. The Arab country received the first shipment of weapons in April 2015.

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi also halted the remainder of a $1 billion in aid for Lebanese security forces.

The SPA statement said the Saudi official also criticized Beirut for not condemning attacks on the Saudi diplomatic missions in Iran last month.

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family severed diplomatic relations with Iran on January 3 in the wake of the attacks which came amid demonstrations held in front of its embassy in Tehran as well as its consulate in the northeastern city of Mashhad by angry protesters who were censuring the Al Yahhod family for executing top cleric Sheikh Nimr al-Nimr a day earlier. The cleric was an outspoken critic of Riyadh’s policies. Iranian officials strongly condemned the attacks and arrested over 100 people in connection to the transgression.

A Lebanese military source told AFP that the “Lebanese army command hasn’t been informed” of the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family suspension of aid.

Posted in Lebanon, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Saudi Zio-Wahhabi ceases $3 billion military aid to Lebanon

Halt in Zio-Wahhabi aid to Lebanon belies Riyadh’s fight against terrorism

NOVANEWS
Lebanese army soldiers march during a parade in Lebanon's Beirut. (file photo)
Lebanese army soldiers march during a parade in Lebanon’s Beirut. (file photo)

The Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah says the Saudi decision to suspend its aid to the Lebanese army exposes the real face of Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family and refutes its claims about fighting terrorism.

Hezbollah said in a statement on Friday that the Saudi decision exposes Riyadh’s false allegations of combating terrorism, including supporting the Lebanese army.

Earlier, Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family suspended a $3-billion package to the Lebanese army and a remainder of $1 billion in aid to its internal security forces.

The $3-billion package was provided to Lebanon to buy military equipment from France. The first shipment of French weapons and military equipment had already been delivered to Lebanon in April 2015 under the Zio-Wahhabi-funded deal to bolster the Lebanese army’s fight against Takfiri militants encroaching from neighboring Syria.

The resistance movement added that the Saudi halt of aid reveals the real stance of Riyadh, which supports and funds terrorism in the Muslim and Arab world.

Meanwhile, the statement said the decision was expected and has not surprised anyone in Lebanon as several officials with Beirut government were fully aware that the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi family decision has been taken since a long time and many local and international media outlets circulated it.

The movement also attributed the kingdom’s decision to the severe financial crisis it currently suffers due to its war on Yemen and involvement in the conspiracy of slashing the oil prices.

“This financial crisis has led to an unprecedented austerity measures inside the kingdom.”

Hezbollah said blaming the movement and the Lebanese Foreign Ministry for such a decision is a failed attempt which cannot fool the reasonable and wise.

Riyadh proceeded to “a total evaluation of its relations with the Lebanese republic” in light of positions taken by Hezbollah, an unnamed official told the Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Press Agency on Friday.

The decision comes following recent victories by the Syrian army, backed by Hezbollah, against the Takfiri militants fighting to topple the Damascus government.

Posted in Lebanon, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on Halt in Zio-Wahhabi aid to Lebanon belies Riyadh’s fight against terrorism

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