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01 November 2014

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FND

Here is a more objective independent analysis of the Ghouta attack that still questions the US intelligence analysis.

http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/01/15/214656_new-analysis-of-rocket-used-in.html?rh=1

confusedponderer

re Ghouta - what convinced me was the implausibility of Assad's guilt:

* The weapons used were crudely manufactured, improvised. The Syrians had a whole arsenal of professional gas weapons. Why should they hammer together something, that would fly a barly two miles, with considerable inaccuracy - and risk hitting their own, and risk getting hit when moving the things in close, undetected?

* The Syrians used CW without alerting or protecting their troops?

* More to the point: Why should they risk having the thing blow up in their face, when they could just use standrd Sarin shells of their D30 or their better guns, use their standard ballistic tables, stay a way ten kilometers, and deliver the stuff safely, reliably and accurately with the delivery systems they know and master - reducing the risk of accidents and errors considerably?

* Timing - there were inspectors at the time in Syria. If deniability was the idea, and prompted the Syrian Army to build a deniable delivery system and cook deniable kitchen Sarin, it was about the dumbest possible timing.

Why use your secret Sarin rocket at a time when there is someone in country who would predictably be tasked with verifying what you just did - even though you undertook pains to be able to deny by using a non standard ordnance and non-standard agent? Seriously?

For Syria I only see disincentives or assumptions of Syrian idiocy.

For Islamists as the culprit I get a much different picture:

* I hinted towards that at the beginning my post: Islamists do have a record of making improvised chemical weapons. The aforementioned chlorine bombings were just such weapons. It's simple technically to take some chlorine from the next water purification plant and rig it to a large bomb. More importantly, it shows that Islamists in Anbar had no scruples whatsoever of using CW. Why should they stop there and not go for something more effective?

* It's not that difficult to make kitchen Sarin (how to do it is known for well over 50 years, the stuff was discovered in the 1930s). The Aum sect nutters were able to do that. For binary Sarin you just need to manufacture one substance, Isopropyl alcohole you can just buy. A competent Chemist probably can do that with relative safety. Islamists are said to have taken control of at least one suitable chemical facility in Iraq. Means: Terrorists do have that capability.

* US reports of Islamists showing interest in chemical weapons.

* Hamas is practicing proof for how easy it is for a group even under siege to manufacture simple artillery rockets in simple workshops from simple materials. The rockets used fit that bill. Means: Terrorists do have the capability and the know how.

* Throw in the reports of Nusra people and Sarin in connection with Turkey.

* Beyond that, the motive would be of course to push Obama to act on his declared red line. The presence of inspectors provided an opportunity.

I.e. for Islamists I find means, motive and opportunity. I only assume intent.

Cumulatively that lets me seriously doubt the guilt of the Assad government and lets me consider Islamists as the culprtit as a more plausible alternative.

David Habakkuk

Piotr, Poland

Both your pieces of evidence were discussed in the initial threads on SST on the MH-17 shootdown.

(See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2014/07/passenger-jet-shot-down-over-ukraine-by-walrus.html ; http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2014/07/mh-17-ghouta-redux.html .)

To develop what I wrote then. We knew that the insurgents had shot down an Antonov transport not long before. Accordingly, different explanations of Strelkov's initial euphoria are possible. It could be that he had indeed had a report from an insurgent unit which had shot down a plane, had filmed it descending, and was convinced that it was an Antonov.

But then, he could also have had a report from an insurgent group who had simply seen a plane fall from the sky, filmed it, and took for granted that it must have been another Antonov, and that some insurgent unit must have scored another spectacular success.

As presented by you, and indeed everybody else, the comments by Strelkov are compatible with both interpretations, as is their prompt suppression.

So they prove absolutely nothing about who was responsible for the shooting down of Flight MH17.

As will be apparent from those exchanges of comments, at the time I was disposed to think that the Antonov must have been shot down at a height which made it likely that the insurgents did indeed possess a Buk system. The question of what can be inferred from the earlier incident is however, regretfully, one that has not been explored.

As I also noted in those exchanges, the Ukrainian authorities were adamant that no Buk of theirs had fallen into the hands of the insurgents. It followed that if they were telling the truth either the Buk had to have been obtained from the Russians, or the insurgents were in the clear.

Given that a Buk is a large and distinctive system, one would expect that if it had indeed come from Russia, some clear visual evidence would have been provided by someone by now – either from satellite imagery or from properly analysed social media.

However, not only has such evidence been conspicuous by its absence, we now have the BND insisting that the missile was fired by the insurgents, but that it had indeed been captured from the Ukrainians – with the Ukrainians themselves still denying this.

I would suggest that the available evidence is still quite patently inadequate to justify any definitive judgement.

As to the second Strelkov interview, that is also susceptible of different interpretations. You write: 'Could Strelkov say this knowing speratists were innocent?' Yes, quite patently, he could have produced this kind of garbage, if he knew the separatists were guilty, if he knew they were innocent, or if he didn't actually know one way or the other.

Again, while the documentary 'MH17 – the Untold Story' that RT put up on 22 October contains fascinating material, and raises all kinds of questions, it cannot be taken to have proven the Russian case that the Kiev authorities were responsible.

(For the documentary, see http://rt.com/shows/documentary/197540-mh-17-crash-ukraine/ .)

As Robert Parry noted commenting on the BND report, if indeed MH17 was shot down by a Buk, and it came from a Ukrainian military base, the system could have been controlled either by a rebel unit, or anti-rebel extremists. It would be possible that, as not uncommonly happens, the actual truth about what happened to MH17 is something nobody involved wants to see exposed.

(For Parry's comments, see http://consortiumnews.com/2014/10/20/germans-clear-russia-in-mh-17-case/ .)

pmr9

There's a detailed trail of geolocated photos and stories linking a truck allegedly stolen from a private security company in Donetsk carrying a BUK missile launcher from Donetsk (where there was a Ukrainian army BUK base north of the airport) to the probable launch site near Torez (http://acloserlookonsyria.shoutwiki.com/wiki/Talk:Crash_of_Malaysia_Airlines_flight_MH17/BUK_Tracking). It's odd that the Ukrainian authorities persist in denying that the separatists could have used a captured Ukrainian army BUK launcher when that's what this trail of (possibly planted) evidence points to. A possible explanation may be that admitting that a BUK launcher had been captured would expose the Ukrainian government to legal liability for continuing to declare the war zone as safe for high-altitude civil air traffic.

lally

Obama's threat to attack Assad for the false-flag of chemical attacks (which used the same Sarin recipe employed on March 19 in *Khan al Assal by "rebels") did not play well at all with the American people. There was a huge swell of "hell no, we won't go" that battered Congressional members in their offices and at town hall meetings back in their districts. Huge overwhelming majorities of callers and/or attendees were so decisive about a thumbs down on another war that there was no way the members could have approved it and keep their scalps/jobs.

The meme that Congress "humiliated Obama" and most other accounts of the "failure" to go to war with Syria rarely mention the fact that it was We The People who put the collective kibosh on the stupid notion.

Understandable I suppose if one considers that it was an out-and-out rout of the regimechangers and their media accomplices.

I recall a great sense of gratification at the time and speculated that the collusion of govt and media that pushed us into Iraq was such an egregious betrayal that cross-the-board outrage fueled the vociferously negative response. It was a tsunami of citizen resistance that left no ambiguity about just who halted the idiocy in it's smelly rat tracks.

But, the same bobbleheads who are still as yet pushing for the toppling of Assad refuse to acknowledge that simple truth and instead put forth the meme that it is all about Obama's "weakness" when au contraire, it's all about the strength of particularly American values that truly believes that our government should be straight with us and that it's our media's job to track and expose the liars who regard the spilling of our blood and the looting of our treasure with such cynical contempt.

We are perhaps, naive among the nations that way. It's my impression that populations of the vast majority of the world's nation states fully expect to be lied to by their "leadership" and associated media by default.

Telling that the true state of affairs that nipped the blooming of the Arab Spring v. Levant in bud is never mentioned by our elites. So curiously intent are they in denying the power of the people in a country that reveres her democratic principles.

WE won that round yet are denied the victory by those afraid to acknowledge it. We won't be fooled again.


* (Israeli intelligence fingered the "revos" as responsible for the Sarin attack that killed mainly Syrian troops in Khan al Assal. Recall that the UN inspectors recently arrived in Damascus were slated to investigate that incident when suddenly diverted by Assad's decision to massacre a thousand or so civilians while they were gearing up to carry out their duties. The foolishness of such a scenario was attributed to the worse-than-Hitler evil lust for blood that consumed a deranged Assad)

Chicoreajackson

Piotr,
Thanks for bringing up that up. The media headlines this as pointing the blame on the rebels, but as often is the case, the opposite is true. Let me explain:

According this admission by the Germans, the BUK was from Ukranian stock. The Ukranian BUKs are old versions. There is some information that the rebels did indeed capture a single launch vehicle as a trophy. Without the command post and targeting radar vehicle IFF is not possible. Since commercial traffic over Donetsk and Lugansk was common at the time, the rebels would of been incredibly reckless to fire blindly at large high flying aircraft. Also the rebels have been doing just fine using MANPADS to neuter the UAF and we are to believe that the first time they used this trophy, they must of been drunk!

Moreover, a single BUK launch vehicle can only shoot in pursuit mode. If successful it would hit a Boeing 777 from an direction somewhere behind the engines. This is not consistent with the evidence of heavy damage in the cockpit area of MH17 evidently from a frontal direction.

There's nothing substantial to pin it on the rebels, only accusations and other flimsy "evidence". More and more evidence is mounting on agaisnt the Ukranians. The whole BUK thing may just be misdirection. Nobody saw a trail or plume for BUK that day. Plenty of locals saw MH17 in the sky, before and after it crashed. Many saw a military plane shadowing, as reported by the BBC(which they quickly yanked from their site).

Piotr, Poland

In MH17 case we are all walking blind in the probabilities area, not the certainties. Even German BND has no strict evidences, their biggest advantage is they probably have access to all satellite images and films about MH17 crash, existed in Western world. But it’s impossible to know from satellite image, who “pressed the button”. All their knowledge beyond images came from so called “personal sources of information”.
It’s absolutely clear I have not exact and strict evidences too –only guessings and supposings, presumptive evidences is maximum I could get if I’m lucky enough.
It’s also absolutely clear, I can’t verify BND’s material quality, credibility of their sources etc. I took it as they gave it to the press, believing (for good or bad) they did due diligence. Knowing German industry’s constant big pressure on German govt. for easing or even abolishing sanctions against Russia, I supposed BND is not politically interested in falsifying the results of investigation for Ukrainian benefit. Conversely, Germans could have big economical interest in showing MH17 was Ukrainian provocation, then cut off from all this mess and begin business as usual with Russia, especially when Germany is now on the verge of recession. I don’t think BND investigation was under strong American pressure too, so the most probable to me is BND really believes in result, they’ve got.
How solid is the base of their belief is beyond my capabilities of verifying.

I’m not special attached to the Strelkov.info twitt. As I told it, this could be produced by anybody skilled enough, Strelkov.info site could be hacked for a moment during special intelligence operation etc. This twitt is worth something only together with other cases. Alone it’s worth nothing.

What is the most important to me is the Strelkov’s interview to Rusvesna.
Probably no one of you, writing here, lived inside Soviet Empire for years. I did. I lived long enough (25 years) to know how Soviet propaganda machine works I experienced working of this machine many times. In 70s I was to young to be fully conscious, but not in 80s. First I saw consciously this kind of stupid propaganda when Italian investigators caught so called “Bulgarian trace” after the Pope John Paul II attempt by Ali Agca. Our press had so stupid explanations for it, so almost everybody laughed on it. And after 30 years it’s clear Bulgarian intelligence was involved in this operation (they were prepared to help Agca to escape from St Peter’s square, but Agca was cought). And it’s clear now too, Bulgarians were at least inspired by their Soviet friends, if not commanded directly from Moscow.
Second time I’ve read this kind of nonsense propaganda when communist polish SB (Security Service) abducted and killed catholic priest J. Popiełuszko.

And this repeated again and again up to 1989.

So call me a Pavlov dog, but reading this interview I saw all the Soviet stupid propaganda tricks I remember so well. And using this kind of nonsense to domestic propaganda purposes tells me one thing: separatists (not Putin himself, I never claimed Putin is guilty of MH17!!!) have no clean conscience about MH17. How much dirty is their conscience is another issue, impossible to determine on the base of Rusvesna interview only.

Both we agree, Strelkov is Russian special forces professional, I suppose. It doesn’t matter was he really GRU colonel, as Ukrainians claim, or FSB sergeant only as Russians say. He is trained SF professional. A day after MH17 crash was long enough to coordinate essence of this interview with Moscow. Knowing Russian army style of contacts with media it’s impossible to me he didn’t coordinate it before the interview. I don’t think any other country’s soldier could do it other way –this is how army works: coordinate difficult matter with your commander is army’s ABC. Strelkov wasn’t panicked low level civilian official, stood first time in his life in the heat of the big moment and talked nonsense . He is experienced soldier, probably long term “military advisor” . Some say he was sent to Bosnia in 90s, it was not a place for frighten amateurs. He strictly, with the cold blood, executed commands from somebody above him, saying to interviewer about “bloodless bodies”.
This interview is absolutely not an accident. It was consciously intended, probably as an element of preparation to show to Russian public MH17 disaster as fallen US or UKR special forces operation to discredit separatists or Russia. Why those, who commanded Strelkov decided not to continue this thread anymore and focusing on the Ukrainian jet missile issue remains their own secret.

I disagree with you Strelkov could produce this “garbage” knowing for sure separatists are innocent. It could be counterproductive.
The simple truth has the big power, when you defend yourself against false accusation, and using this total nonsense could only complicate the matter of effective defense in the future (credibility!).
But in other cases I can agree with you – Strelkov and his commanders could know nothing about real innocence of separatists during this interview too.
I don’t treat this interview as the strict evidence, it’s maybe presumptive one to me, and I don’t know any serious judge, who could call separatists guilty based on this interview only, but it’s strong enough to seriously ask how dirty are separatist’s hands and their conscience.
And proving their hands are absolutely clean is difficult job remembering this interview.

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