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31 July 2012


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Babak Makkinejad

The commentators on this site are the analogues of the dissidents of the old Soviet Block, in my opinion.

In regards to Chechens: they were stupid beyond belief in waging a separatist war against the Russian Federation.

And the idea that they could be independent was like several counties in Texas becoming independent of the United States - a sick joke.

Chechen speak Russian fluently, their area was sleepy but developed, and they could participate in national life of Russia - a country with 10% Muslim population.

My understanding was that the funds for Chechen war came from Saudi Arabia.


"The blast in Riyadh is no mere coincidence. It is a retaliatory response to the blast in the Syrian National Security Headquarters. The chances that the Syrians executed the operation while all their energies are being spent on fighting against the US-directed siege on their country are marginal, but still possible. This is speculation, but it is most likely that one of Syria’s friends and allies retaliated against the Saudis for their involvement in the attack on the Crisis Unit in Damascus. "




And who would that be? pl


Time will show which one of us is correct.
Examples of how bad both sides are, are numerous. How to get all this to stop, and how things turn out after it ends is what interests me.


My mind is not closed, neither is it completely open. I have not followed Syria as intently these last six months, so it is quite possible that my understanding of the situation has become totally out of whack. I will try to set off some time to read the latest articles on your site.

Articles on your site tend to allow me to broaden my perspective and understanding so I am grateful to you and other contributors here.

David Habakkuk

I am way out of my depth here. But a question that doess occur is whether Syrian intelligence -- or at least, Syrian intelligence acting by themselves -- could be expected to have the capability to carry out this kind of operation by themselves. (If indeed such an operation has been carried out.)

It would also seem quite likely that a significant number of very diverse people would not exactly be grief-stricken to see Bandar dead.



It will be proven or disproven sooner or later as Bandar appears in public or not. Very interesting if it's true however. I have been asking the question here on SST when would those that oppose the wahabbi export take the fight directly to the House of Saud?

BTW, your post on the LIBOR fraud was excellent. It should be noted that this is just one in a long list of alleged frauds in the financial sector. Another key point that has not got the attention it deserves is the role central banks have played not only in these frauds but in our current financial instability.



That was my initial and contining thought as well. unless the syrians or "someone" already had the assets in place to act I doubt that they could have put this together as a reprisal for Damascus. pl

Babak Makkinejad

The Iranian Government opposes Wahabis.

So do Shia in Iraq and Pakistan and Lebanon and Afghanistan.

So do very many Sunnis who do not wish to go back in time and live in tents.

As is, active opposition to Wahabis comes from Iran and her allies and certainly not the United States and the European Union.

WSJ reported on possible Libor manipulation years ago; it was squashed.


Sir, what you have a grip on is obvious. Your imaginary associations, deep bias, and errant brain synopsis amuse me. Otherwise, I would have been offended.


In the East Coast-West Coast Gulf Feud, one side may have decided to use their asset to score an equalizing goal.

When it was rumored that Qasem Suleimani was taken out, the East side had an event with two photos publish, one of the Leader and another of Suleimani in attendence. Maybe the West side is not as good at hardball as they thought.


Yes, Prince Bandar maybe the victim of a revenge killing, most likely facilitated by the Iranians.

This should really shake the Saudis. To admit it would be to admit Iranian power within their own borders, and that Syrian regime can strike back even on its way out. This is a bad sign, it increases the possibility of Assad using WMD when things get even worse for him.

Fabius Maximus


Pehaps an indirect Saudi reply: “Crown Prince Salman commends Kingdom’s judicious leadership“,  Saudi Gazette, 1 August 2012 – This says that Prince Bandar was at a party on Monday night. The article has a photo of some Princely guests, but it doesn’t include Bandar.


Fabius Maximus

A source of mine concurs, saying that it would be difficult even for an A-team firm to stage such an operation in four days. Unless they had a deep cover agent in GDI.

The reality is so far all we have is a story from some Syrian websites, applified and spread by two low-reliability websites (Debkafile and Voltaire Network). With zero evidence, other than the possible lack of Bandar sightings (if one disregards the Saudi Gazette) plus the non-response of Saudi government.

My post was one of a series about the spread of stories, and how to evaluate them. All the prior chapters discussed stories that proved false, some of which generated vast amounts of Internet "coverage" along the way. People took the number of articles as confirmation of the underlying story. Smoke doesn't always mean fire.

Medicine Man

The media is terrible for this. Indulging in loose talk and being imprecise about the meaning of what they say. They probably haven't given much thought about the exact differences between a rebellion and a civil war.


Chemical weapons are difficult to employ and in this context amount to a psychological deterrent towards outside intervention more than anything else. What happens if you fire a salvo of gas into a city and the wind shifts? What if it moves into an Alewite neighborhood? I guess you pray. What if it rolls back onto your lines? Well, then you've got your men in MOP gear but that means they're moving slowly. It's difficult to fight when you're wearing a fully body suit sealed against the smallest particulate. On a hot summer day, it's insufferable. Why fire a canister of nerve gas when you can use a high explosive shell? I don't see any ready advantages.



What is the difference? pl


"Another key point that has not got the attention it deserves is the role central banks have played not only in these frauds but in our current financial instability."

Crucial point, Zanzibar. I'm guessing you mean not only because of their many strategic errors but even more importantly the broader fiat currency structure they're such a critical part of.

Medicine Man


Thinking about it, I realize that there is a pretty fuzzy line between the two. My best crack at drawing a distinction? A civil war is more of a premeditated attempt by rival factions to usurp control of the state for themselves. A rebellion more of a spontaneous uprising due to harsh conditions or hatred of the ruler(s). Of course, either one can lead into the other, so I'll understand if you regard these distinctions without a difference.

I guess my main problem with the media conflating the two has less to do with accuracy and more with how the term rebellion is romanticized. Labeling the opposition groups in Syria as "rebels against a dictator" is less reporting and more crafting a narrative.

Medicine Man

Or maybe "rebellion" is general term for rising up against the government, while "civil war" is more specific about the nature and motives for that rebellion. The term "rebellion" seems to get conflated with "popular uprising" quite frequently though.

different clue

If there are know to be Chechen jihadis among the rebel forces, I would think that Russia would take that very seriously and maybe even personally. The Chechens (if there are any there) would be teaching the others everything they feel they learned from the Battle of Grozny and other urban battles. Meanwhile, Russian advisers would be teaching the Syrian Army everything the Russians feel they learned from a Russian standpoint in the Battle of Grozny and other battles. Perhaps some of that knowledge would help the Syrian Army win without "Groznifying" Aleppo at all or at least not very much?

Would the Russians want to help and encourage the Syrian Army to find and kill every last Chechen in and around Aleppo and then elsewhere in Syria? Or will the Russians not ethno-personalise their response to Chechen involvement the way I imagine they might?

David Habakkuk

Most certainly, smoke does not always mean fire. However, an obvious question arises as to whether, if indeed there was no fire at all, we would not have expected to see a rather more convincing denial by the Saudis than has so far been provided.

As to Bandar, there is some background which may usefully supplement the account given in the piece to which you link by Simon Henderson of WINEP. The biography which Henderson quotes, which is actually by William Simpson, not Sampson as he suggests, had an extraordinary section on Bandar’s involvement in the scandal surrounding the 1985 Saudi-British al Yamamah oil-for-weapons contract.

In all the investigations into this deal in the British media, it is been taken for granted that what was at issue was simply commercial corruption. But Simpson – apparently drawing on information from Bandar himself – unambiguously suggested that it was deliberately structured so as to fund covert operations.

I discussed some of the puzzles surrounding al Yamamah in a post on this site four years back.

(See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2008/05/habakkuk-on-bae.html )

mac n.


Assassinations, war clouds....I have been very clear on what my views on US/Iran relations are....but I sense we are entering a very dangerous period of time where those who want conflict may prevail over strategic interests, as all the faultlines appear to be synchronizing towards war...

The Guns of August or darkest before the dawn?

Fabius Maximus

Habakkuk - Thank you for the additional background information. I've noted the correct name of Bandar's biographer.

I agree that it's odd that we've neither seen Prince Bandar nor heard anything official from the Sauudi government. What could be the explanation for delaying mention of his death or falsity of the rumors?

David Habakkuk

Fabius Maximus,

I have been trying to think of possible explanations, although of course my ignorance of Saudi Arabia limits me.

The recycling of the original Yemeni news agency report on the Iranian PressTV site on 22 July said simply that Bandar’s deputy was killed in an explosion at the Saudi intelligence HQ in Riyadh, when he was entering the building. Subject to correction, the first clearly identifiable suggestion that Bandar had been killed comes in the 29 July Voltaire Net story. The Times of Israel story the following day references this, as well as unidentified Syrian websites – it is not clear whether these, if indeed they existed, would simply have been picking up the Voltaire Net story.

I do not see how one can absolutely rule out the possibility that, even if Bandar had not been injured at all, the Saudis would have seen reason not to deny the flurry of reports following the Voltaire Net story. It is also possible, of course, that he was injured, but not killed, and the Saudis did not want to say anything until his medical condition clarified.

A somewhat more likely possibility, however, seems to me that Bandar is actually dead, and that the circumstances in which he died are such that the Saudi authorities are going round in circles trying to work out what ‘spin’ to put on his death.

This might be the case if his death was the product of power struggles within Saudi Arabia. But it is certainly of interest – in a variety of ways – that the original Voltaire Net report features claims that Bandar used al Yamamah monies, on a large scale, in sponsoring jihadists. A Saudi prince who collaborates with infidels in exploiting Wahhabite fanatics both against other infidels and fellow Muslims deemed heretical is liable to acquire numerous enemies.

But such a figure may also acquire some dubiously reliable associates. For one thing, it seems to me an open question whether Saudi jihadists who had fought in Afghanistan and Chechnya would necessarily have ended believing that an alliance between Wahhabite clerics and notoriously corrupt – and allegedly, in Bandar’s case, inebriated – royals was the best possible form of government.

An article on the Voltaire Net site by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, entitled ‘The Syrian Intelligence War’ – and also other articles by the same author featured on the site, notably that on ‘The Sino-Russian Alliance’ – makes interesting reading. Like other contributors to Voltaire Net, Nazemroaya also appears on the Russian Strategic Culture Foundation site – although this latest article has not appeared there, yet at least.

Among other things, the Strategic Culture Foundation site provides an outlet for Russians who believe that Medevedev in particular, but also Putin, have been far too inclined to ‘appease’ the West, and in particular the United States. An interesting example – to be found on the Voltaire Net site -- is the bitter denunciation by General Leonid Ivashov of the failure to sell the S-300 missile to Iran.

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