The George Bush aims at Bashar Al-AssadTags: World, US Navy, Syria-U.S. relations, protests in Syria, Syria, Syrian opposition ,Commentary, Politics
Nov 24, 2011 15:49 Moscow Time
The latest multipurpose nuclear aircraft-carrier The George Bush of the US Navy has been redeployed from the Persian Gulf to the Syrian shores. The ship is capable of carrying up to 70 aircraft, including 48 attack jets. The aircraft-carrier is escorted by a group of vessels which contains a destroyer.
In this connection, experts are giving both a pessimistic and comparatively moderate prospect of developments near the Syrian sea border. Maxim Minayev from the Russian analytical Centre of Political Situations says:
“This is preparation for a military operation against Syria. These activities are reminiscent of a similar initiative when a group of NATO vessels were concentrated near Libya. Washington wants to collect a maximum dividend from the series of revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. With this aim in mind, Washington is likely to start a military intervention even without UN sanctions. Now we are witnessing the first stage of NATO naval contingents drawing up near the Syrian shorelines.”
Oleg Kulakov, an expert in Oriental studies from the Armed Forces University, is not inclined to feel too emotional about the situation.
“The reinforcement of the US aircraft-carrier fleet in the Mediterranean is more likely to be a threat. They are building up muscle in the region and this is undoubtedly an element of strong political intimidation. Military pressure is likely to be augmented by possible diplomatic demarche. However, all this does not mean direct military intervention.”
Meanwhile, whipping up tension around Syria is taking place along different lines as well. The day before The George Bush was redeployed near the Syrian coastline, the Al-Arabiya Saudi TV channel circulated a piece of news from the Russians Are Coming!set. It reported that three Russian Navy ships entered Syrian territorial waters. The TV channel referred to a source close to Syrian top authorities.
This news published by a Saudi newspaper was carried on by the Haaretz Israeli news source and a number of other regional media. The Russian Defence Ministry did not confirm this information in a conversation with The Voice of Russia.
However, there is a Russian naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus, so it is small wonder that Russian Navy ships could be seen there. That port is the only Russian military base abroad at present. The agreement on keeping Soviet facilities there was signed by the Syrian government 40 years ago. At present there are only 50 Russian Black Sea Fleet sailors there. They have three piers, a floating repair shop, a peripherals warehouse and some utility rooms.
During last year’s campaign against Somali pirates the Russian aircraft-carrier The Admiral Kuznetsov called at the base in Tartus. The crew of The Neustrashimy destroyer spent several days at the base before their return from the Gulf of Aden to the home port of Baltiysk. There is a plan to upgrade the base in Tartus, so that it could receive heavy ships after 2012.Target Iran: Washington’s Countdown to Warby Tom Burghardt l Antifascist Calling…The Iranian people know what it means to earn the enmity of the global godfather.
As William Blum documented in Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, 1953’s CIA-organized coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh, guilty of the “crime” of nationalizing the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, may have “saved” Iran from a nonexistent “Red Menace,” but it left that oil-rich nation in proverbial “safe hands”–those of the brutal dictatorship of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi.
Similarly today, a nonexistent “nuclear threat” is the pretext being used by Washington to install a “friendly” regime in Tehran and undercut geopolitical rivals China and Russia in the process, thereby “securing” the country’s vast petrochemical wealth for American multinationals.
As the U.S. and Israel ramp-up covert operations against Iran, the Pentagon “has laid out its most explicit cyberwarfare policy to date, stating that if directed by the president, it will launch ‘offensive cyber operations’ in response to hostile acts,” according to The Washington Post.
Citing “a long-overdue report to Congress released late Monday,” we’re informed that “hostile acts may include ‘significant cyber attacks directed against the U.S. economy, government or military’,” unnamed Defense Department officials stated.
However, Air Force General Robert Kehler, the commander of U.S. Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) told Reuters, “I do not believe that we need new explicit authorities to conduct offensive operations of any kind.”
The Pentagon report, which is still not publicly available, asserts: “We reserve the right to use all necessary means–diplomatic, informational, military and economic–to defend our nation, our allies, our partners and our interests.”
Washington’s “interests,” which first and foremost include “securing its hegemony over the energy-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia” as the World Socialist Web Site observed, may lead the crisis-ridden U.S. Empire “to take another irresponsible gamble to shore up its interests in the Middle East … as a means of diverting attention from the social devastation produced by its austerity agenda.”
Recent media reports suggest however, that offensive cyber operations are only part of Washington’s multipronged strategy to soften-up the Islamic Republic’s defenses as a prelude to “regime change.”
For the better part of six decades, terrorist proxies have done America’s dirty work. Hardly relics of the Cold War past, U.S. and allied secret state agencies are using such forces to carry out attacks inside Iran today.
Asia Times Online reported that “deadly explosions at a military base about 60 kilometers southwest of Tehran, coinciding with the suspicious death of the son of a former commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, have triggered speculation in Iran on whether or not these are connected to recent United States threats to resort to extrajudicial executions of IRGC leaders.”
And Time Magazine, a frequent outlet for sanctioned leaks from the Pentagon, reported that the blast at the Iranian missile base west of Tehran, which killed upwards of 40 people according to the latest estimates, including Major General Hassan Moqqadam, a senior leader of Iran’s missile program, was described as the work “of Israel’s external intelligence service, Mossad.”
An unnamed “Western intelligence source” told reporter Karl Vick: “‘Don’t believe the Iranians that it was an accident,’ adding that other sabotage is being planned to impede the Iranian ability to develop and deliver a nuclear weapon. ‘There are more bullets in the magazine,’ the official says.”
While Iranian officials insist that the huge blast was an “accident,” multiple accounts in the corporate press and among independent analysts provide strong evidence for the claim that Israel and their terrorist cat’s paw, the bizarre political cult, Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) were responsible for the attack.
Richard Silverstein, a left-wing analyst who writes for the Tikun Olam web site, said that the blast was a sign that “the face of the Israeli terror machine may have reared its ugly head in the world.”
Citing “an Israeli source with extensive senior political and military experience,” Silverstein’s correspondent provided “an exclusive report that it was the work of the Mossad in collaboration with the MEK.”
Hardly a stranger to controversial reporting, Silverstein published excerpts of secret FBI transcripts leaked to him by the heroic whistleblower Shamai Leibowitz. Those wiretapped conversations of Israeli diplomats caught spying on the U.S., “described an Israeli diplomatic campaign in this country to create a hostile environment for relations with Iran.”
In a Truthout piece, Silverstein wrote that Leibowitz, a former IDF soldier who refused to serve in the Occupied Territories, “explained that he was convinced from his work on these recordings that the Israel foreign ministry and its officials in this country were responsible for a perception management campaign directed against Iran. He worried that such an effort might end with either Israel or the US attacking Iran and that this would be a disaster for both countries.”
Unfortunately, while Leibowitz sits in a U.S. prison his warnings are all but ignored.
According to Silverstein’s latest account, “it is widely known within intelligence circles that the Israelis use the MEK for varied acts of espionage and terror ranging from fraudulent Iranian memos alleging work on nuclear trigger devices to assassinations of nuclear scientists and bombings of sensitive military installations.”
Silverstein noted that “a similar act of sabotage happened a little more than a year ago at another IRG missile base which killed nearly 20.”
Terrorist attacks targeting defense installations coupled with the murder of Iranian scientist, five “targeted killings” have occurred since 2010, aren’t the only aggressive actions underway.
On Friday, The Washington Post reported that “a series of mysterious incidents involving explosions at natural gas transport facilities, oil refineries and military bases … have caused dozens of deaths and damage to key infrastructure in the past two years.”
According to the Post, “suspicions have been raised in Iran by what industry experts say is a fivefold increase in explosions at refineries and gas pipelines since 2010.”
With Iran’s oil industry under a strict sanctions regime by the West, maintenance of this critical industrial sector has undoubtedly suffered neglect due to the lack of spare parts.
However, “suspicions that covert action might already be underway were raised when four key gas pipelines exploded simultaneously in different locations in Qom Province in April,” the Post disclosed.
“Lawmaker Parviz Sorouri told the semiofficial Mehr News Agency that the blasts were the work of ‘terrorists’ and were ‘organized by the enemies of the Islamic Republic’,” hardly an exaggerated charge given present tensions.
Whether or not these attacks were the handiwork of Mossad, their MEK proxies or even CIA paramilitary officers and Pentagon Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) commandos, as Seymour Hersh revealed more than three years ago in The New Yorker, it is clear that Washington and Tel Aviv are “preparing the battlespace” on multiple fronts.
‘Collapse the Iranian Economy’
Along with covert operations and terrorist attacks inside the Islamic Republic, on the political front, a bipartisan consensus has clearly emerged in Washington in favor of strangling the Iranian economy.
Indeed, congressional grifters are threatening to crater Iran’s Central Bank, an unvarnished act of war. IPS reported that neocon Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL), “a key pro-Israel senator,” has offered legislation “that would effectively ban international financial companies that do business with the Central Bank of Iran (CBI) from participating in the U.S. economy.”
“Dubbed the ‘nuclear option’ by its critics,” Jim Lobe reported that “the measure, which was introduced Thursday in the form of an amendment to the 2012 defence authorisation bill, is designed to ‘collapse the Iranian economy’… by making it virtually impossible for Tehran to sell its oil.”
However, “independent experts,” Lobe wrote, “including some officials in the administration of President Barack Obama, say the impact of such legislation, if it became law, could spark a major spike in global oil prices that would push Washington’s allies in Europe even deeper into recession and destroy the dwindling chances for economic recovery here.”
That amendment was introduced as tensions were brought to a boil over allegations by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in its latest report that Iran may be seeking to develop nuclear weapons.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano claims the Agency has “identified outstanding issues related to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear programme and actions required of Iran to resolve these.”
“Since 2002,” Amano averred, “the Agency has become increasingly concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile, about which the Agency has regularly received new information.”
However, despite the fact that the “Agency continues to verify the non-diversion of declared nuclear material at the nuclear facilities,” to whit, that such materials have not been covertly channeled towards military programs, Amano, reprising former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s famous gaff that “the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence,” the IAEA “is unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran, and therefore to conclude that all nuclear material in Iran is in peaceful activities.”
Far from being an independent “nuclear watchdog,” the IAEA under Amano’s stewardship has been transformed into highly-politicized and pliable organization eager to do Washington’s bidding.
As a 2009 State Department cable released by WikiLeaks revealed, U.S. Ambassador Glyn Davies cheerily reported: “Yukiya Amano thanked the U.S. for having supported his candidacy and took pains to emphasize his support for U.S. strategic objectives for the Agency. Amano reminded Ambassador on several occasions that he would need to make concessions to the G-77, which correctly required him to be fair-minded and independent, but that he was solidly in the U.S. court on every key strategic decision, from high-level personnel appointments to the handling of Iran’s alleged nuclear weapons program.” (emphasis added)
Although the new report “offered little that was not already known by experts about Iran’s nuclear programme” IPS averred, “it cited what it alleged was new evidence that ‘Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear device’ since 2003–the date when most analysts believe it abandoned a centralised effort to build a nuclear bomb’.”
But as the United States, with the connivance of corporate media, bury the conclusions of not one, but two National Intelligence Estimates issued by the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, it is clear to any objective observer that “nonproliferation” is a cover for aggressive geopolitical machinations by Washington.
Both estimates, roundly denounced by U.S. neoconservatives and media commentators when they were published, insisted that “in fall of 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program,” a finding intelligence analysts judged with “high confidence.”
In contrast, the highly-politicized IAEA report is a provocative document whose timing neatly corresponds with the imposition of a new round of economic sanctions meant to crater the Iranian economy. Never mind that even according to the IAEA’s own biased reporting, they could find no evidence that Iran had diverted nuclear materials from civilian programs (power generation, medical isotopes) to alleged military initiatives.
Indeed, with sinister allusions that hint darkly at “undeclared nuclear materials,” the agency fails to provide a single scrap of evidence that diverted stockpiles even exist.
Another key allegation made by the Agency that Iran had constructed an “explosives chamber to test components of a nuclear weapon and carry out a simulated nuclear explosion,” was denounced by former IAEA inspector Robert Kelley as “highly misleading,” according to an IPS report filed by investigative journalist Gareth Porter.
With “information provided by Member States,” presumably Israel and the United States, the IAEA said it “had ‘confirmed’ that a ‘large cylindrical object’ housed at the same complex had been ‘designed to contain the detonation of up to 70 kilograms of high explosives’. That amount of explosives, it said, would be ‘appropriate’ for testing a detonation system to trigger a nuclear weapon.”
“Kelley rejected the IAEA claim that the alleged cylindrical chamber was new evidence of an Iranian weapons programme,” Porter wrote. “We’ve been led by the nose to believe that this container is important, when in fact it’s not important at all,” the former nuclear inspector said.
But as Mark Twain famously wrote, “A lie can travel half way around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” This is certainly proving to be the case with the IAEA under Yukiya Amano.
Another player “solidly in the U.S. court” is David Albright, the director of the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), a Washington, D.C. “think tank” funded by the elitist Carnegie, Ford and Rockefeller Foundations.
In an earlier piece for IPS, Porter demolished Albright’s “sensational claim previously reported by news media all over the world that a former Soviet nuclear weapons scientist had helped Iran construct a detonation system that could be used for a nuclear weapon.”
“But it turns out that the foreign expert, who is not named in the IAEA report but was identified in news reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko, is not a nuclear weapons scientist but one of the top specialists in the world in the production of nanodiamonds by explosives,” Porter wrote.
“In fact,” Porter averred, “Danilenko, a Ukrainian, has worked solely on nanodiamonds from the beginning of his research career and is considered one of the pioneers in the development of nanodiamond technology, as published scientific papers confirm.”
“It now appears that the IAEA and David Albright … who was the source of the news reports about Danilenko, never bothered to check the accuracy of the original claim by an unnamed ‘Member State’ on which the IAEA based its assertion about his nuclear weapons background.”
It is no small irony, that Albright, corporate media’s go-to guy on all things nuclear, penned an alarmist screed in 2002 entitled, “Is the Activity at Al Qaim Related to Nuclear Efforts?”, an article which lent “scientific” credence to false claims made by the Bush White House against Iraq.
As investigative journalist Robert Parry pointed out on the Consortium News web site, “Albright’s nuclear warning about Iraq coincided with the start of the Bush administration’s propaganda campaign to rally Congress and the American people to war with talk about ‘the smoking gun in the form of a mushroom cloud’.”
“Yet,” Parry noted, “when the Washington Post cited Albright on Monday, as the key source of a front-page article about Iran’s supposed progress toward reaching ‘nuclear capability,’ all the history of Albright’s role in the Iraq fiasco disappeared.”
History be damned. Congressional warmongers and corporate media who cite these fraudulent claims, are “spurred by Israel’s whisper campaign to create a sense of urgency on Capitol Hill where the Israel lobby, acting mainly through the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, exerts its greatest influence,” as IPS noted, and punish Iran for the “crime” of opening its nuclear facilities to international inspection!
That “whisper campaign” has now bloomed into a full court press for war by “liberal” Democrats and “conservative” Republicans alike, even as public approval of Congress’s work by the American people tracks only slightly higher than the popularity enjoyed by child molesters or serial killers.
As tensions are dialed up, the United States is spearheading a relentless drive to throttle Iran’s economy. The New York Times reported that “major Western powers took significant steps on Monday to cut Iran off from the international financial system, announcing coordinated sanctions aimed at its central bank and commercial banks.”
A strict sanctions regime was also imposed on Iran’s “petrochemical and oil industries, adding to existing measures that seek to weaken the Iranian government by depriving it of its ability to refine gasoline or invest in its petroleum industry,” theTimes reported.
In a move which signals that even-more stringent sanctions are on the horizon, the U.S. Treasury Department “named the Central Bank of Iran and the entire Iranian banking system as a ‘primary money laundering concern’.”
That’s rather rich coming from an administration which slapped Wachovia Bank on the wrist after that corrupt financial institution, now owned by Wells Fargo Bank, pleaded guilty to laundering as much as $378 billion for Mexico’s notorious drug cartels as Bloomberg Markets Magazine reported last year!
Going a step further, France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy called on the major imperialist powers “to freeze the assets of the central bank and suspend purchases of Iranian oil.”
The Guardian reported that Britain “went the furthest by, for the first time, cutting an entire country’s banking system off from London’s financial sector.”
Playing catch-up with war-hungry Democrats and Republicans, President Obama stated that the “new sanctions target for the first time Iran’s petrochemical sector, prohibiting the provision of goods, services and technology to this sector and authorizing penalties against any person or entity that engages in such activity.”
“They expand energy sanctions, making it more difficult for Iran to operate, maintain, and modernize its oil and gas sector,” Obama said.
“As long as Iran continues down this dangerous path, the United States will continue to find ways, both in concert with our partners and through our own actions, to isolate and increase the pressure upon the Iranian regime.”
Last summer, Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA), a strong backer of punishing sanctions, echoed Richard Nixon’s vow to “make the economy scream” prior to the CIA’s overthrow of Chile’s democratically-elected socialist president, Salvador Allende, and wrote in The Hill that “critics … argued that these measures will hurt the Iranian people. Quite frankly, we need to do just that.”
With a new round of crippling economic sanctions on tap from the West, “liberal” Democrat Sherman might just get his wish.
Targeting Civilian Infrastructure
While the Obama administration claims that their aggressive stance towards Iran is meant to promote “peace” and “help” the Iranian people achieve a “democratic transformation,” ubiquitous facts on the ground betray a far different, and uglier, reality.
Anonymous U.S. “intelligence officials” told The Daily Beast “that any Israeli attack on hardened nuclear sites in Iran would go far beyond airstrikes from F-15 and F-16 fighter planes and likely include electronic warfare against Iran’s electric grid, Internet, cellphone network, and emergency frequencies for firemen and police officers.”
According to Newsweek national security correspondent Eli Lake, “Israel has developed a weapon capable of mimicking a maintenance cellphone signal that commands a cell network to ‘sleep,’ effectively stopping transmissions, officials confirmed. The Israelis also have jammers capable of creating interference within Iran’s emergency frequencies for first responders.”
But Israel isn’t the only nation capable of launching high-tech attacks or, borrowing the Pentagon’s euphemistic language, conduct “Information Operations” (IO).
The U.S. Air Force Cyberspace & Information Operations Study Center (CIOSC) describe IO as “The integrated employment of the core capabilities of electronic warfare, computer network operations, psychological operations, military deception and operations security, in concert with specified supporting and related capabilities, to influence, disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial human and automated decision making while protecting our own.”
In this light, The Daily Beast disclosed that “Israel also likely would exploit a vulnerability that U.S. officials detected two years ago in Iran’s big-city electric grids, which are not ‘air-gapped’–meaning they are connected to the Internet and therefore vulnerable to a Stuxnet-style cyberattack–officials say.”
The anonymous officials cited by Lake informed us that “a highly secretive research lab attached to the U.S. joint staff and combatant commands, known as the Joint Warfare Analysis Center (JWAC), discovered the weakness in Iran’s electrical grid in 2009,” the same period when Stuxnet was launched, and that Israeli and Pentagon cyberwarriors “have the capability to bring a denial-of-service attack to nodes of Iran’s command and control system that rely on the Internet.”
But as Ralph Langer, the industrial controls systems expert who first identified the Stuxnet virus warned in an interview with The Christian Science Monitor, the deployment of military-grade malicious code is a “game changer” that has “opened Pandora’s box.”
Among a host of troubling questions posed by Stuxnet, Langer said: “It raises, for one, the question of how to apply cyberwar as a political decision. Is the US really willing to take down the power grid of another nation when that might mainly affect civilians?”
But as we have seen, most recently during the punishing air campaign that helped “liberate” Libya–from their petrochemical resources–the U.S. and their partners are capable of doing that and more.
Future targeting of Iran’s civilian infrastructure may in fact have been one of the tasks of the recently-discovered Duqu Trojan, which Israeli and U.S. “boutique arms dealers” are suspected of designing for their respective governments.
And whom, pray tell, has the means, motives and expertise to design weaponized computer code?
As BusinessWeek disclosed in July, when one of America’s cyber merchants of death, Endgame Systems, pitch their products they “bring up maps of airports, parliament buildings, and corporate offices. The executives then create a list of the computers running inside the facilities, including what software the computers run, and a menu of attacks that could work against those particular systems.”
According to BusinessWeek, “Endgame weaponry comes customized by region–the Middle East, Russia, Latin America, and China–with manuals, testing software, and ‘demo instructions’.”
“A government or other entity,” journalists Michael Riley and Ashlee Vance revealed, “could launch sophisticated attacks against just about any adversary anywhere in the world for a grand total of $6 million. Ease of use is a premium. It’s cyber warfare in a box.”
Kaspersky Lab analyst Ryan Naraine, writing on the Duqu FAQ blog averred that Duqu’s “main purpose is to act as a backdoor into the system and facilitate the theft of private information. This is the main difference when compared to Stuxnet, which was created to conduct industrial sabotage.”
In other words, unlike Stuxnet, Duqu is an espionage tool which can smooth the way for future attacks such as those described by The Daily Beast.
As The Washington Post disclosed last May, while the military “needs presidential authorization to penetrate a foreign computer network and leave a cyber-virus that can be activated later,” it does not need such authorization “to penetrate foreign networks for a variety of other activities.”
According to the Post, these activities include “studying the cyber-capabilities of adversaries or examining how power plants or other networks operate,” and can “leave beacons to mark spots for later targeting by viruses.”
Or more likely given escalating tensions, Iranian air defenses and that nation’s power and electronic communications grid which include “emergency frequencies for firemen and police officers” who would respond to devastating air and missile attacks.
Countdown to War
We can conclude that Israel, NATO and the United States are doing far more than placing “all options on the table” with respect to the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Along with ratcheting-up bellicose rhetoric, moves to collapse the economy, an assassination and sabotage campaign targeting Iranian scientists and military installations, cyberwarriors are infecting computer networks with viruses and “beacons” that will be used to attack air defense systems and civilian infrastructure.
After all, as Dave Aitel, the founder of the computer security firm Immunity told BusinessWeek, “nothing says you’ve lost like a starving city.”
As Global Research analyst Michel Chossudovsky warned last year, now confirmed by CIA and Pentagon leaks to corporate media: “It is highly unlikely that the bombings, if they were to be implemented, would be circumscribed to Iran’s nuclear facilities as claimed by US-NATO official statements. What is more probable is an all out air attack on both military and civilian infrastructure, transport systems, factories, public buildings.”
With the global economy in deep crisis as a result of capitalism’s economic meltdown, and as the first, but certainly not the last political actions by the working class threaten the financial elite’s stranglehold on power, the ruling class may very well gamble that a war with Iran is a risk worth taking.
As Chossudovsky warned in a subsequent Global Research report, “there are indications that Washington might envisage the option of an initial (US backed) attack by Israel rather than an outright US-led military operation directed against Iran.”
“The Israeli attack–although led in close liaison with the Pentagon and NATO–would be presented to public opinion as a unilateral decision by Tel Aviv. It would then be used by Washington to justify, in the eyes of world opinion,” Chossudovsky wrote, “a military intervention of the US and NATO with a view to ‘defending Israel’, rather than attacking Iran. Under existing military cooperation agreements, both the US and NATO would be ‘obligated’ to ‘defend Israel’ against Iran and Syria.”
This prescient analysis has been borne out by events. As regional tensions escalate, the USS George H.W. Bush, “the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, has reportedly parked off the Syrian coast,” The Daily Caller reported.
Earlier this week, the financial news service Zero Hedge disclosed that “the Arab League (with European and US support) are preparing to institute a no fly zone over Syria.”
“But probably the most damning evidence that the ‘western world’ is about to do the unthinkable and invade Syria,” analyst Tyler Durden wrote, “and in the process force Iran to retaliate, is the weekly naval update from Stratfor.”
According to Zero Hedge, “CVN 77 George H.W. Bush has left its traditional theater of operations just off the Straits of Hormuz, a critical choke point, where it traditionally accompanies the Stennis, and has parked… right next to Syria.”
In an earlier report, citing Kuwait’s Al Rai daily, Zero Hedge warned that “Arab jet fighters, and possibly Turkish warplanes, backed by American logistic support will implement a no fly zone in Syria’s skies, after the Arab League will issue a decision, under its Charter, calling for the protection of Syrian civilians.”
The BBC reports that the Arab League “has warned Syria it has one day to sign a deal allowing the deployment of observers or it will face economic sanctions.”
“Meanwhile,” BBC averred, “France has suggested that some sort of humanitarian protection zones,” à la Libya, “be created inside Syria.”
American moves towards Syria are fraught with dangerous implications for international peace and stability. As analyst Pepe Escobar disclosed in Asia Times Online the Arab League, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Saudi Arabia and repressive Gulf emirates, dances to Washington’s tune.
“Syria is Iran’s undisputed key ally in the Arab world–while Russia, alongside China, are the key geopolitical allies. China, for the moment, is making it clear that any solution for Syria must be negotiated,” Escobar wrote.
“Russia’s one and only naval base in the Mediterranean is at the Syrian port of Tartus. Not by accident,” Escobar notes, “Russia has installed its S-300 air defense system–one of the best all-altitude surface-to-air missile systems in the world, comparable to the American Patriot–in Tartus. The update to the even more sophisticated S-400 system is imminent.”
“From Moscow’s–as well as Tehran’s–perspective, regime change in Damascus is a no-no. It will mean virtual expulsion of the Russian and Iranian navies from the Mediterranean.”
“In other words,” Zero Hedge warned, “if indeed Europe and the Western world is dead set upon an aerial campaign above Syria, then all eyes turn to the East, and specifically Russia and China, which have made it very clear they will not tolerate any intervention. And naturally the biggest unknown of all is Iran, which has said than any invasion of Syria will be dealt with swiftly and severely.”
Despite, or possibly because no credible evidence exists that Iran is building a nuclear bomb as a hedge against “regime change,” belligerent rhetoric and regional military moves targeting Syria and Iran simultaneously are danger signs that imperialism’s manufactured “nuclear crisis” is a cynical pretext for war.
Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, he is a Contributing Editor with Cyrano’s Journal Today. His articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily, Pacific Free Press, Uncommon Thought Journal, and the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military “Civil Disturbance” Planning, distributed by AK Press and has contributed to the new book from Global Research,The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century.
Obama & Hillary preparing for war with Syria.
- By Kyle Rogers, Charleston Political Buzz Examiner
There is no “brutal crackdown on anti-government protesters” in Syria as our left-wing media cries over and over. These are not “anti-government protesters.” These are violent, murderous, hard-line Sunni Muslims seeking to install a theocratic government. At the center of the uprising is the radical Muslim Brotherhood. They are being backed by the United States, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey. Many are heavily armed. They have even used rocket propelled grenades in attacks. Many are attacking religious minorities.
The Credo of the Islamic Brotherhood is “God is our objective; the Quran is our constitution, the Prophet is our leader; Jihad is our way; and death for the sake of God is the highest of our aspirations.” The group believes in imposing Shari-ah law and opposes rights for women. This is the same group Obama and Hillary supported in Egypt. Of course Obama and Hillary backed even worse groups in Libya.
Obama appears to be postponing a possible strike on Iran to attack Syria first. Obama just moved a US aircraft carrier, George H.W. Bush, away from Iran and parked it in front of Syria. The aircraft carrier had been parked in the Straits of Hormuz. It had been standing ready for a possible strike against Iran. The US is engaged in so many undeclared wars that we are essentially out of carriers.Advertisement
The United States is taking actions against Syria that mimics what happened immediately before Obama launched an undeclared war against Libya. Obama and Hillary are lobbying the UN for a Syrian “no fly zone.” Even though there is no evidence that the Syrian government has even used any military aircraft against rebel militants.
A UN no-fly zone was immediately used as an excuse to go to war against Libya. Everyone knows that any UN resolution passed against Syria will be used as an excuse for war. Obama did not even consult with congress, much less get a declaration of war, before attacking Libya. It is doubtful he will bother to consult with congress on Syria either.
The US ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, left the country a month ago. He was actively encouraging militants to rebel against the Syrian government. Hillary recently made a public statement hinting that the US is funding the militants. She assured reporters that the militants were “well funded.” Lebanon is accusing the CIA of actively sponsoring and promoting unrest in Syria.
Obama and Hillary are supporting the same radical Sunni militants in Syria, like the Muslim Brotherhood, that they did in Egypt and Libya. Hillary Clinton and the left-wing media would like you to believe that the anti-government forces are peace-loving democracy advocates. They are actually heavily armed thugs who seek a Saudi style theocratic dictatorship.
Syria is currently controlled by the Syrian Ba’ath party. This is a secular Arab nationalist party. It is supported by Syria’s Christian and Shi’a minorities who call the Obama/Hillary back “activists” a “Sunni Lynch Mob.” These same “activists” have been murdering Christians in the streets of Egypt since Obama & Hillary helped them gain power in that country.
Multitudes of weapons are being smuggled into Syria to arm the Muslim Brotherhood. The Syria government is accusing Saudi Arabia, and Israel of sending weapons into the country. However, many of the weapons may simply be coming from black market opportunists.
Saudi Arabia supports the rebels in Syria, because Saudi Arabia is a hard-line Theocratic dictatorship itself. In fact, it is probably one of the most repressive dictatorships in the world. Woman are treated like slaves and forced to cover all but their face. Recently the Saudi government even ordered a crackdown on makeup.
Despite being a repressive dictatorship, Saudi Arabia is the US governments second most favorite regional power after Israel. It really shows what a total fraud people like Obama, Hillary, and Republican neo-cons really are.
Israel appears to be cheering for the militants in Syria as well. They seem to believe that a new regime in Syria will be good for Israel. Currently Syria sponsors the Lebanese Shi’a militia Hezbollah. They are also allies with Iran. Saudi Arabia is bitter enemies with Iran. It is illegal to support Hezbollah in Saudi Arabia, because they are Shi’a.
However, if Israeli thinks the Muslim Brotherhood will make a better neighbor, they are extremely short sighted. Egypt is already reversing the peace process with Israel since Obama and Hillary started backing the Muslim Brotherhood there.
In the past year Israel has shattered their relationship with the Turks. A 550 year Turkish-Jewish friendship, that began with the fall of Constantinople, appears to be over. Israel arrogance is to blame. Turkey was Israel’s second most important ally after the United States. They were Israel’s only regional military ally and Israel’s only regional Muslim ally. Turkey was also important because the Arabs are all still secretly afraid of the Turks. Turkey probably has a much better army than any Arab nation as well.
Israeli ruined that relationship with their attack on a Turkish ship delivering aid to the West Bank. Rather than try to make amends, Israel stands by their decision to attack the ship and refuses to offer an apology. Israel’s “floatilla attack” will probably go down in history as the stupidist thing they ever did.
If Obama pulls the trigger on Syria, it will not be contained in Syria. It is already outside of Syria. Turkey is harboring 15,000 Sunni militants who call themselves the Syrian Free Army. Some of them are AWOL Syrian military. They have already claimed responsibility for the killing of nine Syrian soldiers. Hezbollah, the Shi’a militia, has mobilized in Lebanon along the border to stop arms smuggling. Syria and Iran both have armed Hezbollah. They would likely greenlight the use of heavy firepower by Hezbollah against Israel in the event of an attack on Syria or Iran.
In fact, Turkey is even warning of a regional Sunni vs. Shia war that could be triggered by an attack on Syria. A conflict that could easily severe Iraq into three separate nations. Turkey says it may have to invade Syria itself to “create a buffer.”
Meanwhile Russia has declared that the US has gone to far in the Middle East and vowed to continue shipping weapons to Syria.
We could very well see a large scale regional war involving Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Saudi Arabia. If Palestine is granted statehood while all this is going on, it could be even worse.
The resulting worldwide economic problems would be devastating. The pentagon recently published a report that Iran could make good on it’s promise to shut down the Straits of Hormuz. The Pentagon believes it would take thirty days to make the Straits safe for commercial traffic again. This means a full one third of the oil supply for the entire world would not make it to the market place. The resulting surge in gas prices would cripple economies all over the world. The United States would be blamed for causing this nightmare.
By the way, Obama and Hillary are also calling for regime change in Bahrain. However, any claim that they are bringing democracy will be bogus. They are letting the opprosive dictatorship in Saudi Arabia help pick the new regime.
Continue reading on Examiner.com Obama & Hillary preparing for war with Syria. – Charleston Political Buzz | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/political-buzz-in-charleston-sc/obama-hillary-preparing-for-war-with-syria#ixzz1ep0QmEZd
Sabre-rattling could end in showdown
November 26, 2011 – 3:00AMAdvertisement
For many years now, tourists to Iran have been advised to carry a Mastercard. Operated from Britain’s Barclays Bank, this has been the acceptable face of Western capitalism, rather than the likes of Visa or Amex, based in the ”Great Satan” aka the United States of America.
One or two hotels have accepted the Mastercard, and visitors running out of cash could go to a cavernous bank down the road from the British embassy in Tehran and, after some paperwork and a wait, could emerge with wads of rials drawn on their card.
That resort is now gone, after Britain announced this week it was ”ceasing all contact” between its financial system and that of Iran. The US and Canada have joined in, while France’s Nicolas Sarkozy has proposed that the European Union ”and other willing countries” freeze the assets of Iran’s central bank and halt purchases of Iran’s oil.
This is serious stuff, and Iran’s central bankers are already screaming even before Sarkozy’s proposal is taken up, along with the Russians who have provided Iran with the civilian backup for a nuclear weapons program and the anti-aircraft missiles to defend it.
One reason for tighter sanctions was the International Atomic Energy Agency’s unprecedented report on November 8, citing ”credible” evidence of Iranian development of a nuclear bomb, principally computer simulations of explosive triggers of nuclear reactions and construction of a containment vessel for tests of such triggers.
The other was the drumbeat of reports from Israel that its Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, were closely studying plans for a pre-emptive strike on Iran’s uranium enrichment and bomb fabrication plants before an imminent shift to deep underground locations removed this option. Barak says there is less than a year to act.
This is the most pressing issue of war and peace facing world leaders right now. They must make their decisions on hazy information, on a background of mistrust around some of the main players.
One uncertainty is that the International Atomic Energy Agency report doesn’t go as far as saying Iran is definitely building a bomb. It is certainly working on the capability to produce one. But no-one knows whether it has gone to the point of producing enough highly-enriched uranium, begun shaping it into a bomb core, has perfected the trigger, or miniaturised the bomb to fit onto one of its North Korean-designed missiles.
It remains, formally if non-compliant with its terms, a signatory member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It may move as North Korea did in 2003, to withdraw. Or it may elect to remain poised in nuclear ambiguity, some steps just short of full capability.
Mistrust hovers around Netanyahu. Both Sarkozy and Barack Obama don’t trust him, as a conversation picked up by a live mike at the recent G20 summit shows. ”I cannot stand him. He’s a liar,” Sarkozy said. The US president responded: ”You’re fed up with him? I have to deal with him every day.”
The background is exasperation at Netanyahu’s dodging of serious dealings with the Palestinians while pushing ahead with Jewish settlements around Jerusalem designed to create a changed ground reality before any agreements. As well there is his government’s deliberate snubs to Turkey, a key regional friend. Is Bibi ramping up the Iran threat to escape the heat?
In the Herald on Thursday, David Landau, a former editor of the liberal Israeli newspaper Haaretz, urged the outside world to look beyond this mistrust and take their words seriously. Yet we’ve also had the recently retired head of the Mossad intelligence agency, Meir Dagan, declaring a military strike on Iran was ”far from being Israel’s preferred option”, that ”there are currently tools and methods that are much more effective”, and that Iran’s nuclear program was still at least four years from a weapons capability, and that Israel could not withstand the regional war that might be unleashed by an Israel strike.
Israel has made pre-emptive strikes at nuclear facilities in hostile neighbours before, against Iraq in 1981 and on Syria in 2007. The calculus of a strike against Iran is much more complex. Could it take out the threat, and for how long? What would be the retaliation against the US troops still in Iraq, or US interests around the Gulf? How much damage could Iran unleash through its Hamas and Hezbollah proxies on Israel itself? How would it play in the Arab street?
But above all, we should be wary of being panicked into thinking the options are narrower than they are.
Israel’s vitiated regional setting is as much a result of its own actions as from the Arab Spring. It could improve its standing by more sincere dealings with the Palestinians. The Assad regime in Syria – the critical link between Iran and Hezbollah in the Shi’ite crescent – is facing civil war, with Turkey helping the anti-government elements. What replaces it may be populist, perhaps Islamist, but why not wait to see what change means for regional security? And as Dagan has pointed out, Iran’s own situation is the ”most problematic” it’s been since the shah was overthrown in 1979.
The option not many Israelis discuss openly is nuclear deterrence. Israel is widely thought to have about 200 warheads ready for use, delivered by aircraft or land and submarine-based missiles. But it keeps its nuclear status ambiguous, saying it will not be the first to ”introduce” nuclear weapons to its region.
This takes us into even more eery calculus. Is the theological Iranian regime too ”mad” to be deterred by nuclear weapons? Would it ever unleash weapons that would not just hit Jews in Israel, but Arab Israelis and Palestinians too? At what point should Israel unveil its weapons? What mutual deterrence is there between two nuclear-ambiguous states?
Still, this might be the Israeli’s master card, while they and everyone else wait for the democratic and demographic forces to do their inevitable work in Iran.