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22 September 2013

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Kyle Pearson

I have nothing to contribute to this discussion, about the rockets. As ever, i shall read it religiously.

But the allegations promoted by this Nun (to whom i link, below) are provocative, to say the least.

I am curious to hear how the intelligence professionals on this board evaluate this report. If y'all think it is valuable, then i am anxious to hear how y'all think it shall be discredited (beyond the RT source).

http://rt.com/op-edge/mother-chemical-attack-footage-fraud-509/

confusedponderer

"Will this give pause to the war enthusiasts in their drive to replace Assad's government? I doubt it. It will simply be said that Russia lies."

At best the media will turn this into a 'he said, she said - we're clueless' affair, and then sympathies will decide what people will choose to believe, and they will choose in accordance with their pre-existing biases - i.e. since the Russians are still very 'evil' and Putin 'is a thug' the US audience won't believe him.

Facts don't matter at all, perception does.

The narrative of the events in Syria as spun by the propagandists and the mainstream media is massaging this false perception into the American audience.

Don't expect any of the talking heads questioning any of that.

LeaNder

Pat in his usual to-the-fact-curtness--I did not follow this closely--probably made you aware of the social media emotional trigger.

Now on one hand this could be a tool of the "weak" on the other, it deserves reflection that the supposedly surprised weak were that well prepared.

David Habakkuk

Some weeks ago, 'walrus' referred to the reports back in January that hackers had penetrated the servers of the British private security firm Britam Defence, and discovered an e-mail from senior executives at the company which read as follows:

'Phil

'We’ve got a new offer. It’s about Syria again. Qataris propose an attractive deal and swear that the idea is approved by Washington.

'We’ll have to deliver a CW to Homs, a Soviet origin g-shell from Libya similar to those that Assad should have.

'They want us to deploy our Ukrainian personnel that should speak Russian and make a video record.

'Frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea but the sums proposed are enormous. Your opinion?

'Kind regards David'

(For a summary, see http://www.voltairenet.org/article177357.html )

Having done a few checks on the story, my suspicion is that it may well be a disinformation operation by the 'Syrian Electronic Army' -- rather than an accurate report by them of a planned disinformation operation.

On the other hand, the kind of scenario posited in the report -- Soviet or Russia munitions identical or similar to those supplied to Syria being obtained from other locations, and used in a 'false flag' operation -- may well correspond to what Syrian, Iranian and Russian intelligence services have thought was likely to be going on.

Moreover, if one does some quick checks on Britam, it comes to seem extremely likely that this is the kind of outfit those intelligence services would suspect. Accordingly, it would be eminently unsurprising if they or people linked to them had hacked into its servers.

My strong hunch, however, would be that, having failed to find a 'smoking gun', whoever was responsible for the hacking made one up.

Even if false, then, the story might be extremely interesting. It would suggest that for some considerable time, Syrian, Iranian and Russian intelligence services may have been anticipating the kind of 'false flag' operation which Fisk suggests the Russians are now claiming happened.

Fred

It gets better all the time. I wonder if we will have our 'observers' jointly or separately? If the US sends any they should be even more concerned about FSA red flag ops than the Syrians are:

http://news.yahoo.com/russia-ready-send-observers-syria-102542857.html

mac

Colonel,

There are so many important issues wrapped up in the Syrian war, among them, is Russia's standing vis-à-vis the West and, perhaps most significantly, their elevation to being the 'adult in the room/voice of reason' on questions of war and peace.

I did not think I would live to see the day where Moscow was more credible on a moral crisis than Washington. Did you? Did anyone?

Mac

Babak Makkinejad

From Previous thread:

US is in love with Israel and she will carry any burden for her.

This is not rational behavior as you would think.

Harper

A UN report issued last week confirms that Libya is the number one supplier of arms to the Syrian rebels. This is not "Russian propaganda" or anything but the findings of the UN investigators in charge of monitoring the arms sanctions on Libya. Earlier reports detailed shipments of weapons from Libya, via ship and later via Qatari airlifts to the Syrian rebels. The actual documentation from purportedly reputable international organizations tells a tale that the neocons cannot refute, except by attacking the UN. Congress is awaiting a vote on creating a select committee on Benghazi. Among the questions such a Congressional probe would seek to answer is: What was the mission of the 35 CIA officers operating out of the Benghazi annex? There are repeated allegations that the flow of Libyan arms to Syrian rebels, via Qatar and Turkey, which is well-documented in the UN sanctions committee investigations, came out of Benghazi with US sponsorship and clandestine support. Now Ben Caspit, a respected Israeli journalist has written in Al-Monitor that there are Israeli military intelligence experts who believe that the rebels, not the Syrian Army, did Goutha CW attacks. Worth reading, considering it is coming from Israeli intelligence sources.

mike

I am against US intervention militarily. The UN report claims there were two different rocket types used:

http://www.un.org/disarmament/content/slideshow/Secretary_General_Report_of_CW_Investigation.pdf

140mm with Cyrillic markings and 330mm with no markings at all mentioned. I understood that neither Russia nor the former Soviet Union made 330mm rockets although they did make the 140mm. There are some OSINT indications that Iran makes the 330mm. Although I am not in the business anymore and may be wrong about the 330mm not being Russian made. The Washington Post and also Inagist claims the 330mm is Iranian made.

In any case lets hope the bomb-bomb-bomb crowd doesn't do anything rash regardless of where the rockets came from.

ISL

Mac,

I did not foresee when I was growing up that the US would go to the darkside.

George Lucas was prescient in how the republic was lost.

"Palpatine was an efficient and effective leader who quickly brought to an end the corruption in the Senate; his power was greatly increased as a result of the Clone Wars, while the Senate willingly furnished more and more emergency powers to him. Eventually, the Senate lost most of its power and became little more than a formality that Palpatine had to go through to pass his laws.Yet the Senate did have a symbolic power at least; Chancellor Palpatine still hid behind the pomp and circumstance of appealing to the Senate, but his power existed in his control over thousands of Senators that he had brought into his own web of corruption."

from wookipedia

Snowden revealed the mechanism of control in a dirty political system. I fear George Lucas's prescience remains.

Ursa Maior

To be honest not in my wildest dreams. And especially now that the LMBT and human rights crowds are running amok, the russians can claim, and this time with credibility, that they are the Third Rome again. Protecting civilization from the barbarians.

johnf

I'm an amateur amongst professionals.

The opening of the UN this week and the Western public's reaction all the big moves planned for it seems to be the big prize at the moment. To be crude, its SCO vs The West.

As DH says above, The probable Britam scam can be seen as a holding operation by SCO in the Syrian propaganda war. This recent Fiske story on the origin of the rockets could be a first SCO "salvo", and I wouldn't be surprised if more came out during the week. The more The West's truthfulness is undermined, the more chance the Syrian and Iranian peace moves have of succeeding.

On The West's propaganda side, I know this is a a long shot, but who finances al-Shabab? I know they're Sunni jihadis but their actions underline in the West's public's mind their perception of all Muslims as being generally untrustworthy and extremely violent. The Israelis have, apparently, been central in the fitting in Nairobi. Against this theory would seem to be the very high percentage of Western jihadis in the operation - a factor which I think would probably mean the operation took a long time to plan.

Shoot me down in flames!

David Habakkuk

mac,

“I did not think I would live to see the day where Moscow was more credible on a moral crisis than Washington. Did you? Did anyone?”

It has come as no surprise to me at all.

Contemporary Russia is a society with all kinds of problems. A number of them, to put it mildly, compromise the country’s ‘moral standing’ – prominent among them weak rule of law, very widespread corruption, and extensive interpenetration of organised crime, ‘legitimate’ business, and politics.

However, since the Yeltsin-era ‘liberals’ (irony alert) and their crimogenic Harvard Fachidioten advisers were replaced by the former KGB operative Vladimir Putin, conditions for the vast majority of the inhabitants of the Russian Federation have got very markedly better.

Moreover, if one bothers to read what Putin writes, two things are amply apparent which are extremely relevant to the situation in Syria and indeed the whole Middle East. One is that Russian experience of revolutions – both those against Tsarism at the start of the twentieth century and that against communism at its end – inclines him to a traditionally conservative caution about radical change which seems almost entirely to have disappeared in the West.

Another is that Putin is acutely aware of how difficult it can be to maintain ‘civil peace’. Facile western rhetoric about ‘multiculturalism’ obscures the fact that it can be acutely difficult for different cultures and religions to coexist harmoniously.

A universalistic and covertly millenarian nationalism, which sees one’s country as paving the way to a utopian future for the rest of the world, remains available as an integrator of peoples of diverse origin in the United States. But precisely that fact helps make much American thinking about these problems largely irrelevant to the dilemmas faced by many less fortunate peoples.

In Russia, and indeed the whole post-Soviet space, the massive scars left by the attempt to build a common identity on the basis of a universalistic millenarian ideology greatly compound the problems of finding new identities which can encompass different ethnic and religious groups.

As Putin notes in his article on ‘The ethnicity issue’, contemporary Russia is a country where ‘the civil war has not yet ended in the minds of many and where the past is extremely politicized and "broken up" into ideological quotations (often interpreted by different people in exactly opposite ways)’.

How much prospect the kind of ‘subtle cultural therapy’ which Putin puts forward as the solution to these problems has of succeeding one can debate. Likewise, with Putin as with others, there is not uncommonly a major gap between idealistic words and Machiavellian – and sometimes acutely brutal – practice.

However, if one reads the articles Putin published in the Russian press prior to last year’s presidential election, it is clear that they express the thinking of someone who is seriously attempting to wrestle with problems in relation to which the attitudes of people in Washington and London are frequently simply frivolous.

(For the articles, see http://www.russkiymir.ru/russkiymir/en/publications/articles.jsp?pager.offset=120&pageIndex=11&pageSize=12 ; http://www.russkiymir.ru/russkiymir/en/publications/articles.jsp?pager.offset=108&pageIndex=10&pageSize=12) )

Babak Makkinejad

Russia has had longer experiences dealing with alien people than any other European state, excepting the defunct Ottoman Empire.

I think that more than 10% of the Russian population is Muslim; even Chechens speak flawless Russian. For them, multi-cultural-ism is not a luxury, it is an issue of state cohesion and survival.

Let us accept the fact that outside of Russia, there has been no persistent and long-term toleration for non-Europeans - not in Spain after the Re-Conquest, and not later when the largest non-European ethno-religious group in Europe was destroyed during World War II.

I wonder how long the Muslim communities in Europe are going to last; so far it has not been even 70 years.

The Communists and the Capitalists had one thing in common: a persistent belief in and commitment to the validity of the Enlightenment Prject to the exclusion of any Transcendental Belief in God.

The Communists were just more brutal.

JohnH

Great stuff! Can you provide links?

Anna-Marina

The Masters of the Universe:
http://www.projectcensored.org/exposing-financial-core-transnational-%E2%80%A8capitalist-class/

Tyler

Mr. Habakkuk,

What is your take on Putin and the defense of Christians in the MENA sphere nad how that influences his actions, seeing as how the West and the Vatican have abandoned those communities by and large?

Stephanie

Fisk is careful to place quotes around the word “evidence,” since the Russians haven’t yet supplied any. It would be helpful if the US and the Russians would present for examination the evidence they claim to have regarding Ghouta.

The UN report notes that whoever launched the attack chose a time that was most propitious for ensuring the gas would seep down to people already hiding underground from the Assad regime’s bombs. Very nasty work by someone.

CTuttle

Here's a brief link...

http://www.news24.com/World/News/UN-Libyan-weapons-being-smuggled-to-Syria-20130916

confusedponderer

http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/09/obama-syria-strike-israel-smoking-gun.html

" This week I met with an unofficial Israeli source with a background in IDF’s intelligence branch, though that was quite some time ago. The man is not connected to the updated intelligence milieu and does not receive information from official intelligence sources. He is a high-tech person with many achievements and great experience in that field. He developed methods for comparing and cross-checking information, methods that have mainly proven themselves when hundreds, thousands and tens of thousands of sources are involved. He wrote a document that rebuts one by one the claims and evidences by which the Assad regime is held responsible for the use of chemical weapons on Aug. 21 in Syria.

The formative concept is simple: There is evidence that there was a chemical attack on Syrian soldiers in Khan al-Assal in March. A Russian commission of inquiry dealt with this, and there are quite a few experts who think that this actually took place. Who can prove to us that the more recent and severe incident in August did not involve an attack by one of the extremist rebel groups on another rebel group? According to my source, most of the complaints and reports on the ground, from the mouths of the victims or their relatives, describe chemical gas characteristics that do not typify sarin, the gas used by the Syrian army. Sarin does not have the yellow color or odor as described in the complaints; in fact, sarin is odorless and tasteless. By contrast, these characteristics could fit the kind of nerve gas produced in an improvised facility and then used by groups affiliated with al-Qaeda activity in Syria. It is possible.

My source adds a long list of details, proofs and supporting evidence. He feels that the intelligence description of the measures taken by the Syrian army before the attack (such as donning gas masks), the orders heard on the two-way radio, the region from which the missiles were fired, etc. — all these do not prove anything. Western intelligence organizations collect thousands of new data from Syria every day. In this jumble of information, you can always find whatever you are looking for: this or that directive given, this or that shooting. This kind of evidence is circumstantial.

Since the Syrian army is also concerned that the rebels may have chemical weapons, it is logical that they would adopt countermeasures in certain situations. According to my source, the initial testimony about the use of gas arrived from the field only an hour and a half after the Syrian army’s shelling of the site. This makes no sense, he says; when such a thing happens, the first Twitter message appears almost immediately, or a quarter-half hour later at the latest. In our instance, it took more than an hour and a half, so that this fact definitely supports the “alternative theory” option.

I asked him, what is a possible alternative theory? He said, Let’s say that a rebel group like Jabhat al-Nusra (affiliated with al-Qaeda), or the ISIS organization (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also affiliated with Sunni extremists), wanted to hit the Free Syrian Army (FSA). They could have exploited the Syrian army bombardment to launch a gas bomb on the same neighborhood, under cover of Assad’s shelling.

And by the way, says the source, the neighborhood that was attacked is considered to “belong” to the FSA, the key opposition organization. In such a situation, he explains, the extremist rebels win on all counts: They strike their competitors and also galvanize America into military action against Assad, finally. This is a classic win-win situation, and from the huge amount of evidence that I accumulated, I can’t say that it is totally illogical.

In addition, adds my source, Assad would have to be totally detached from reality or be a Shiite suicide bomber to use such large quantities of chemical weapons and in such intensity, precisely when the rebels are weakening and he is gaining momentum. It seems to me — he says — like a classic “false flag” instance: when an operational tactic is executed by a certain party, but attributed to another party whether intentionally or accidentally. I suggest we wait patiently until the UN inspectors complete their report; perhaps it can illuminate the situation more precisely, so says my source."

Ursa Maior

Could not agree more. The only part worth mentioning of the sequels to Star Wars (EP I - III that is), was the gradual transformation of the Galactic Republic to the Empire, all that in the name security.

What is frightening that Lucas probably wrote it as a reaction to Dubya's actions, and OBH proved to be not significantly different. Especially under the banner of 'Change'.

confusedponderer

Try this:
http://ninjapundit.blogspot.de/2013/09/syrian-or-rebel-300mm-chemical-warhead.html

I find the idea implausible that the Syrian Army would develop a primitive thing like that for the purpose of delivering CW when they have conventional artillery, that already could do that without all the fuss just by loading different ammo.

They mention that Hamas built missiles like that. That is interesting because it could provide the missing link.

Hamas allegedly did train Syrian rebel fighters. That could explain how Syrian rebels could have acquired the know how for building such a rocket.

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/hamas-switches-sides-to-train-syrian-rebels/story-fnb64oi6-1226613538750

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2013/apr/5/hamas-cuts-ties-assad-and-sends-military-train-reb/

confusedponderer

mike,
"There are some OSINT indications that Iran makes the 330mm."

The 330mm rocket that Iran builds is named Fadjr-5.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fajr-5

Nothing on it looks like the remains of the munition used in the Syrian CW attack.

If one looks at this on the other hand ...
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Qassam_rocket

... and the images of the rocket in the video on the blog I linked to before ...

... it appears tht it is possible to build stuff like that ... say, the rebels took a 122 or so rocket they got sonewhere, say Libya, and flanged a new warheat to it to hold chemicals, and add a bursting charge and an airburst fuse ...

... not 'exaclty rocket science'. The CEP of that thing must be terrible, but 'good enough' for hitting a general area.

One can on the internet find rather easily basic schematics of how old US cold war CW were build like. Many things that were in the past military secrets are now common knowledge. It is somewhat disturbing what today can be build with available materials in a halfway decently equipped workshop.

Pakistan has a cottage industry that builds Kalashnikov copies from scrap metal - not awesome stuff, but good anough to start a ruckus. The Iraqi insurgents were better than that and built explosively formed penetrator mines to target US armoured vehicles. Hamas, under constant Israeli siege and surveilance builds DIY rocket atillery. Then there are IED and so on.

We live in interesting times.

Aum cooked Sarin in a private factory. They could do that because one of their members had studied chemistry. Aum also had biological wesapons program, led by a guy who studied biology. Turkey arrested Islamists with Sarin and precursors in Turkey, so they probably are giving CW a shot.

http://www.latimes.com/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-syrian-rebels-sarin-gas-20130913,0,4224285.story

confusedponderer

i.e. there is a strong circumstantial case that indeed the rebels did it.

Means, motive, opportunity and incentives - all there.

David Habakkuk

Tyler,

An interesting article on the role of religion in contemporary Soviet foreign policy was published in July by Dmitri Trenin, who heads the Carnegie Moscow Center. An excerpt:

‘Last Thursday in the Kremlin, Russia’s President Vladimir Putin hosted senior leaders of all 15 national Christian Orthodox Churches. The occasion was the 1,025th anniversary of the baptism of Rus. The Russian president hailed the adoption of Christianity as the civilizational choice of Russia, and called it the spiritual pillar of the Russian people.

‘That the Kremlin’s domestic policy has moved toward traditional values is a salient feature of Putin’s current presidency. Profession of universal values or common European norms and principles has stopped. In lieu of the Council of Europe, the Moscow Patriarchate is now the principal norm-setter. Other traditional religions: Islam, Judaism, and Buddhism are also welcome as partners of the State.

‘The state-supported comeback of traditional religious faith in Russia has a foreign policy dimension. Both Putin and Patriarch Kirill spoke about the plight of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, in particular in Syria. According to the head of the Russian Church, the very presence of Christianity in the Middle East, its historical birthplace, is in danger. Should “physical destruction” or “pushing out” of Christianity happen, it will be a “civilizational catastrophe.”’

‘Ever since the break-up of the Soviet Union, Moscow has been looking for a distinct international role. Now the Kremlin appears to have found it. It is based on conservative nationalism; support for traditional international law with its emphasis on national sovereignty and non-interference in internal affairs of states; and a strong preference for evolutionary path of development over revolutionary upheavals. Thus, Russia is strongly opposed to liberal interventionism; democracy promotion; and regime change instigated from abroad.’

(See http://carnegie.ru/eurasiaoutlook/?fa=52501 )

Concern for the fate of Christians in the Middle East, and implacable opposition to Saudi-sponsored Wahhabism, mesh naturally with the ways in which Putin has sought to define Russian national identity. However, I think it is great mistake to think of him as simply cynical. In a more recent piece, Trenin discussed the tug of war beginning over the Ukraine, in the wake of that country’s association agreement with the European Union.

Having argued that in terms of a ‘realpolitik’ reading of Russian interests it make more sense to abandon the attempt to persuade the Ukraine to join the Eurasian Union, Trenin suggested that Putin’s approach reflected own ‘emotional, even romantic attitude toward the “cradle of Russian civilization”, remarking that he ‘seems to genuinely believe in the transcendental Orthodox unity of Eastern Slavs and has vowed to restore it.’

(See http://carnegie.ru/eurasiaoutlook/?fa=53057 )

The missionaries who were responsible for the ‘baptism of Rus’ in Kiev in AD988 of course came from Byzantium. That Russian Christianity is Hellenic, rather than Roman, may also have a good deal of bearing on Putin’s attitudes to the fate of Christians in Syria and the Middle East. The ‘emotional, even romantic’ element in his make-up is also, in my view, far more important than most people in the West realise.

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