Wednesday, December 11, 2013

War watch December 11 - 13 , 2013 - Syria government continues military advances as US ends aid to North Syria..... Iran talks likely to trump sanctions push in Congress - for now...........Afghanistan - Karzai calling US bluffs and threats on the push for his signature on the Bilateral Security Agreement

Syria .....

December 13th.....

Syria’s War: The Next Phase

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Tony Cartalucci
December 13, 2013
The alleged fleeing of General Selim Idriss of the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), was more symbolic than anything else.
Image: U.S. Marine Helicopter (Wikimedia Commons).
Whether or not he really fled, and whether he is in Turkey or Qatar is of little consequence. The so-called “moderates” he commanded were nothing more than a smokescreen, a cheap veneer applied to the hardcore Wahabist extremists of Al Qaeda’s Al Nusra franchise and similar fronts that have formed the core of foreign-backed militancy turned against the Syrian people from the very beginning of the conflict.
It was as early as 2007 when it was revealed that the US, Israel, and Saudi Arabia were planning on building up extremists within and around Syria for the purpose of eventually overthrowing the government. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh warned about this in his extensive report titled, ”The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” which prophetically stated (emphasis added):
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
While the initial conflict was disingenuously portrayed as the spontaneous militarization of unarmed protesters fighting against a “brutal regime,” in reality Al Nusra was already inside the country and operating on a national scale.  The US State Department itself would reveal this in its December 2012 “Terrorist Designations of the al-Nusrah Front as an Alias for al-Qa’ida in Iraq,” which stated:
Since November 2011, al-Nusrah Front has claimed nearly 600 attacks – ranging from more than 40 suicide attacks to small arms and improvised explosive device operations – in major city centers including Damascus, Aleppo, Hamah, Dara, Homs, Idlib, and Dayr al-Zawr. During these attacks numerous innocent Syrians have been killed.
And while the West has attempted to portray these extremist groups as entities entirely separate from the “moderates” they have claimed to be openly training, funding, arming, and equipping to the tune of billions of dollars, there is no other logical explanation for Al Nusra’s ability to rise above these Western-backed “moderates,” unless of course they never existed and the West was, as was planned in 2007, simply arming Al Qaeda all along.
In Hersh’s 2007 report, it was noted that the West could not directly arm or fund the militant groups and that the US and Israel would have to funnel weapons and cash through nations like Saudi Arabia and Lebanon instead. Since 2011 when these plans went fully operational, Qatar and Turkey have also entered the fray. When questions are raised about Al Nusra’s rising prominence in the conflict, the West has been increasingly unsuccessful in convincing the world of its own plausible deniability.
As the Syrian government began early this year to decisively turn the tide against the West’s proxy invasion, and after several abortive attempts to directly intervene militarily, the West appears to have resigned the myth of “moderates” and as of this week, symbolically ended its so-called “non-lethal aid” to terrorists operating in Syria. In fact, the myth of “moderates” was perpetuated solely to justify intervening directly on their behalf. With direct intervention taken off the table, it appears a new phase in the war has begun.

Indeed, the West has claimed it has stopped the flow of aid to its “moderate” proxies, however, in practice, billions of dollars of equipment, weapons, and other forms of support will continue to flow so long as there are forces of any kind fighting inside of Syria against the government and its people.
Geopolitical maneuvering reveals the framework for this next phase.
During the West’s disingenuous nuclear negotiations with Iran, a feigned rift was opened between the US and Saudi Arabia. In Reuters’ report titled, “Saudi Arabia warns of shift away from U.S. over Syria, Iran,” it stated:
Upset at President Barack Obama’s policies on Iran and Syria, members of Saudi Arabia’s ruling family are threatening a rift with the United States that could take the alliance between Washington and the kingdom to its lowest point in years.
Of course, Saudi Arabia owes its entire existence to the United States – from its oil infrastructure, its military, and even its brutal internal security forces – any real rift between the US and the Saudis would be a gust of wind upon a shaky house of cards.
In reality, the rift is nothing more than political cover for the West as Saudi Arabia plans a more open and aggressive proxy campaign against Syria. As it directly arms and builds up legions of Al Qaeda, this rift will afford the United States who will in fact still be assisting Saudi Arabia in its proxy war, a degree of plausible deniability.
No one is expecting a tank invasion of Saudi Arabia anytime soon, but the kingdom just put in a huge order for U.S.-made anti-tank missiles that has Saudi-watchers scratching their heads and wondering whether the deal is related to Riyadh’s support for the Syrian rebels.
The proposed weapons deal, which the Pentagon notified Congress of in early December, would provide Riyadh with more than 15,000 Raytheon anti-tank missiles at a cost of over $1 billion.
Foreign Policy would go on to explain how the scheme would work, with the US replacing Saudi Arabia’s current arsenal while Saudi Arabia unloaded its older weapons onto terrorist armies invading Syria. FP reports:
But while the latest American anti-tank weapons might not be showing up in Aleppo anytime soon, that doesn’t mean the deal is totally disconnected from Saudi efforts to arm the Syrian rebels. What may be happening, analysts say, is that the Saudis are sending their stockpiles of anti-tank weapons bought from elsewhere to Syria and are purchasing U.S. missiles to replenish their own stockpiles. “I would speculate that with an order of this size, the Saudis were flushing their current stocks in the direction of the opposition and replacing them with new munitions,” said Charles Freeman, a former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
Saudis’ Terror Legions Not Enough to Win War – West Has Another Plan
Of course, with Syria’s army already decisively on the offensive, restoring order to large swaths of Syrian territory and with the West’s terrorist proxies in many cases surrounded and cut off completely by Syrian forces, simply increasing arms shipments will not make much of a difference – it will only prolong the inevitable and leave a lower intensity terror campaign like that seen currently in Iraq.
With the West dumping the “moderate” narrative and acknowledging that Al Qaeda is all that is left fighting in Syria, it is preparing to leverage that terror threat and the possibility of its ally Saudi Arabia enhancing that threat as leverage with the Russians to cut ties and support for the Syrian government and bring the conflict to an end favorable to the West which started it in the first place.
This was revealed in Foreign Policy’s article, “Obama Advisor: ‘Extremism’ Could Be Key to Ending Syrian Civil War,” which stated (emphasis added):
For the past two and a half years, as the civil war in Syria has descended into brutal bloodletting and spilled over its borders, Obama administration officials have consistently decried the growing presence of Islamist extremists in the conflict. But on Wednesday, Deputy National Security Advisor Antony Blinken turned that logic on its head: The growing role of extremist groups may actually be a good thing for bringing the conflict to a close, he said. 
Speaking at Transformational Trends, a conference co-hosted by Foreign Policy and the Policy Planning Staff of the U.S. State Department, Blinken said that the radicalization of the conflict may create a shared interest among world powers to bring the war to an end. The growing prominence of radical groups has “begun to concentrate the minds of critical actors outside of Syria” and may strip the Bashar al-Assad regime of the key international backing that has so far helped to keep him in power.
If anything, however, such a move should be perceived by the world as the West conceding defeat and the resignation of its “global order” that once constituted hegemonic superiority. Syria’s allies should take this new designation of the conflict in Syria as a “terror threat” as an opportunity to expand open support for the Syrian government to carry out sweeping anti-terror operations. Russia, China, Iran, and all other nations of good will should go to the UN seeking binding resolutions to help the Syrian government fight what is admitted now even by the West as a “war on terror.”
The arrogance of the West may have just dealt the final blow to their global power and influence through this last attempt to leverage their own terror-front to end the conflict in their favor. Syria and its allies should take this opportunity to both expose the West and its regional axis of terror, and stop the war in Syria not with conditions favorable for the West and their regional ambitions, but with conditions favorable for the Syrian people.

US Open to Backing Syria’s Islamist Rebels

Wants Salafist Bloc to Disavow al-Qaeda

by Jason Ditz, December 13, 2013
In early October, the CIA admitted that the underlying goal of US policy is Syria is tokeep the civil war going at all costs, and that all aid to the moderate rebels were designed to try to keep them in the fight, but unable to win it.
They appear to have dramatically overestimated the moderate rebels’ capabilities, however, and now the group is virtually irrelevant in the grand scheme of thing, as the rebels are dominated by Islamist factions.
But the goal must go on, apparently, and the White House now says its open to the idea ofthrowing its support behind the Islamic Front, a Salafist group that was involved in mass kidnappings and executions earlier this week on the outskirts of Damascus.
All the US is asking is that they disavow al-Qaeda, who was also involved in those executions. It wouldn’t do for the US to be backing al-Qaeda, you see, but backing their ideological brethren so long as they’re at least nominally separate, that’s evidently fair game.
Britain raised the possibility last week as well, and was reportedly holding face-to-face meetings with Islamist leaders on the prospect of them aligning themselves with Western backers.

US Asks Syria’s Islamic Front to Return Seized Equipment

'We Want Our Stuff Back'

by Jason Ditz, December 13, 2013
The loss of several Free Syrian Army (FSA) warehouses full of US equipment to the Islamic Front was a big part of the decision by the US to halt direct aid to Syrian rebels.
The FSA has tried to downplay that, insisting the Islamic Front is just “guarding” the warehouses for their now virtually irrelevant fighters. The US undercut that claim today, however, by asking the Islamic Front to return the equipment to the US.
US officials insist they don’t have any specific problems with the Islamic Front, and were open to backing them if they endorsed the Geneva II peace conference and disassociated themselves from al-Qaeda. At the same time, officials say, “we want our stuff back.”
The odds of the Islamic Front agreeing to hand back multiple warehouses of US equipment are virtually nil, however, and that officials even asked is something of a surprise, since it brings yet more attention to just how badly the US “aid for rebels” program has gone.

Al-Qaeda Kidnaps At Least 120 Kurdish Civilians in Aleppo

After Ousting al-Qaeda From Kurdistan, Kurds Elsewhere a Target

by Jason Ditz, December 13, 2013
Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) continues its campaign against the Kurdish minority in Syria’s Aleppo Province today, kidnapping at least 120 Kurdish civilians from Ihras, near the Azaz border town.
The civilians were marched out of the town by AQI, and their whereabouts are now unknown. These 120 are in addition to the51 Kurds kidnapped by AQI late last week.
Those civilians were all taken from Aleppo Province as well, showing that while Kurdish militias have successfully ousted AQI from Syrian Kurdistan, Kurds outside of their autonomous region are becoming a growing target.
UN officials have reported that abductions in general are on the rise in Syria, with not just Kurds but secular rebels and journalists becoming popular targets in recent weeks.

December 12th.....

Routed by Islamists, Pro-US Rebel Commander Flees Syria

Gen. Idris Fled to Turkey and Now Qatar

by Jason Ditz, December 11, 2013
The Obama Administration’s chosen face for the Syrian rebellion, Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Gen. Salim Idris, is out of the country and likely out of the picture today after being forced to flee in the face of growing Islamist tensions.
Idris reportedly fled to Turkey and later Qatar, with US officials saying his office has since been taken over by the Islamic Front, one of the rival rebel umbrella groups.
The Islamic Front is also said to have seized the remaining FSA warehouses, full of US military aid, across northern Syria, and this drove the Obama Administration to announce last night that it is freezing all direct aid into the country.
The FSA has long been losing ground in the north to al-Qaeda and other Islamist blocs, but the ousted of Gen. Idris suggests their waning influence may be all but gone. If true, that’s a major blow to the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), since the FSA was the only fighting force even nominally allied with them.

Turkey Closes Syria Border Amid Islamist Gains

Syrian Rebels Say Move Is 'Temporary'

by Jason Ditz, December 11, 2013
The Turkish Commerce Ministry has announced that it is closing all border crossings into neighboring Syria for an indeterminate period of time, citing clashes between rebel factions in the area.
That’s putting it mildly, as the top pro-US commander of the rebels, Gen. Salim Idris, has been forced to flee Syria outright, first to Turkey and then Qatar. All FSA warehouses have since been sacked by Islamist fighters, and his office is now the office of the Islamic Front.
It’s far from the rebellion Turkey had in mind when it started endorsing the uprising against its former ally Bashar Assad. Assuming a quick victory by the military defectors and some sort of junta, Turkey instead has two Syrias on its southern border: a Kurdish one and an al-Qaeda dominated one. Neither is expected to be friendly to Turkey in the near term.
The Syrian National Coalition, the civilian body behind the FSA, downplayed the move as “temporary,” expressing hope Turkey would reopen the border soon. That seems unlikely, however, as the rebels are skewing more and more Islamist with each passing day.

( Just don't be shocked when these are used against US and Israeli targets ..... ) 

Will Saudis Send U.S. Anti-tank Weapons to Salafist Mercenaries in Syria?

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Saudis increasingly frustrated with U.S. effort to unseat Syria’s Bashir al-Assad
Kurt Nimmo
December 12, 2013
BGM-71 tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile weapons system. Photo: U.S. Navy
BGM-71 tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missile weapons system. Photo: U.S. Navy
Does Saudi Arabia face an awesome enemy in its mostly unpopulated desert kingdom? After all, it recently ordered nearly a billion dollars worth of tube-launched, optically-tracked wire-guided 2A/2B radio-frequency (RF) Missiles and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support, according to a DoD SCA news release.
More specifically:
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has requested a possible sale of 9,650 BGM-71 2A Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked Wire-Guided (TOW) Radio-Frequency (RF) missiles, 4,145 BGM-71 2B Tube-Launched, Optically-Tracked Wire-Guided Aero RF missiles, 91 TOW-2A Fly-to-Buy missiles, 49 TOW-2B Fly-to-Buy missiles, containers, spare and repair parts, support equipment, tools and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, U.S. Government and contractor engineering, logistics, and technical support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $900 million.
The proposed sale will contribute to the foreign policy and national security of the United States by helping to improve the security of a critical partner who has been, and continues to be, an important force for political stability in the Middle East.
The proposed sale will support the Ministry of the National Guard’s defense and counter-terrorism missions. The sale will also improve Saudi Arabia’s capability to meet and defeat current and future threats from enemy armored vehicles. Saudi Arabia will use the enhanced capability as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland defense. Saudi Arabia, which already has TOW missiles in its inventory, will have no difficulty absorbing these additional missiles.
The proposed sale of this equipment and support will not alter the basic military balance in the region.
It depends, however, how you define “region.” If Syria is part of the region, as in the Middle East, the sale will in fact upset the “basic military balance.”
Neocons react reflexively when Arabs are on the receiving end of big fat arms deals.
“It’s a very large number of missiles, including the most advanced version of the TOWs [tube-launched, optically tracked, wire-guided missiles],” said Jeffrey White, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and a former intelligence analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency. “The problem is: What’s the threat?”
The Washington Institute for Near East Policy is common ground for Israeli-centric Democrats and more over the top neocons.
Instead of ragtag Yemeni rebels or the unlikely prospect of Iraq attacking as it did prior to the first U.S. invasion (recall Dhahran Billet), there is scant need for such a massive ordnance purchase… until you consider Syria.
David Kenner, for FP:
But one Saudi ally could desperately use anti-tank weapons — the Syrian rebels. In the past, Riyadh has been happy to oblige: It previously purchased anti-tank weapons from Croatia and funneled them to anti-Assad fighters, and it is now training and arming Syrian rebels in Jordan. Charles Lister, a London-based terrorism and insurgency analyst, said that rebels have also received as many as 100 Chinese HJ-8 anti-tank missiles from across the border with Jordan — and indeed, many videos show Syrian rebels using this weapon against Bashar al-Assad’s tanks.
Mr. Kenner left out something, though. The sophisticated weapons will not go to the washed-up secular Free Syria Army. Crazed Salafists, the sort of guys who are fond of chopping off the heads of infidels and kidnapping journalists, will be on the receiving end.
Over the last couple of months, the Saudis – said to be frustrated with U.S. inaction, the failure of the Syrian chemical weapons ruse, and fig leaf overtures toward Iran – are “forging a new alliance of Islamist rebels in Syria under a pro-Saudi warlord to supersede the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army,” according to the UPI.
Middle East analyst Michael Weiss, writing in the Beirut Web portal Now Lebanon, observed Riyadh has “taken substantive measures to circumvent Washington altogether on Syria by activating a cadre of new clients in the form of a hard-line Salafist rebels who are now united under the umbrella of the army of Islam. …
“The Saudis have enlisted ’50 brigades’ and some thousands of fighters under a new structure headed by Zahren Alloush, head of Liwa al-Islam, the new group’s most powerful Salafist brigade.”
You may recall, back in September, Liwa al-Islam, rebranded Jaysh al-Islam, joined with a dozen other Islamist groups, including disaffected elements of the Free Syria Army, and issued a communiqué denouncing the U.S. strategy in the effort to depose Bashir al-Assad. Rejecting the National Coalition and the planned exile government of Ahmed Touma, the statement called for all military and civilian forces to be unified and subservient to the “Islamic framework” based on “the rule of sharia and making it the sole source of legislation,” according Aron Lund, writing for Syria Comment.
In short, the weapons will end up in the hands of al-Qaeda or, more specifically, groups that share al-Qaeda’s ideology and terror tactics.
Saudi Arabia, however, faces a catch-22. It is prohibited from transferring weaponry provided by the United States to third parties. “The Saudis can’t send U.S. anti-tank missiles directly to the rebels — Washington has strict laws against that,” Kenner notes. “Recipients of U.S. arms are not allowed to transfer weapons to a third party without the explicit approval of the U.S. government, which in the case of Saudi Arabia has not been granted. Given Washington’s heightened concern over radical Islamist forces seizing control over the conflict — which resulted in the suspension of nonlethal aid to Syrian rebels on Dec. 12 — that approval will almost certainly never be given.”
It is known that the U.S. and the Persian Gulf monarchies covertly, or not so covertly, support al-Qaeda in Syria. Former al-Qaeda member Sheikh Nabil Naiim said as much in June. Earlier, in October, 2012, none other than the New York Times admitted that most of the arms shipped to the rebels go “to hard-line Islamic jihadists, and not the more secular opposition groups that the West wants to bolster, according to American officials and Middle Eastern diplomats,” the newspaper reported.
Saudi Arabia may not ultimately send anti-tank weapons to al-Qaeda and other radical Salafist groups in Syria, but they will undoubtedly continue to support fanatical Islamists in a variety of ways – and with unacknowledged support of the United States.
Then again, considering the deteriorating relationship between Saudi Arabia and the United States, particularly since peace overtures with Iran, a transfer may ultimately occur.
The Salafist groups “are the ones who know how to fight,” Halil Karaveli, Senior Fellow with the Turkey Initiative at the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, told The Voice of Russia in late 2012. “They have the fighting experience from Afghanistan and other places and they have been pouring in to Syria from Afghanistan, Yemen and Caucasus. This has become a gathering for Jihadists. Of course there is a big prize for them to win if they would be able to establish a base of the new al-Qaeda within the Arabs and the Muslim Middle East – that would be a huge victory and their biggest victory so far for al-Qaeda.”
It is common knowledge, or should be, that the United States, with help from Pakistani intelligence and Saudi Arabia, funded and trained the Afghan Mujahideen, later to become al-Qaeda and the Taliban. More than likely, this pattern will continue to replicate itself until the end game is achieved – the Arab and Muslim Middle East, including and especially Persian Iran, is a smoldering and balkanized wasteland forever divided by reoccurring and reinvented sectarian and religious conflict.

December 11th......

NATO’s War on Syria Just Got Dirtier

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Tony Cartalucci
Land Destroyer
December 11, 2013

Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh, who had warned as early as 2007 of US-Israeli-Saudi plans to use Al Qaeda as proxies to overthrow the Syrian government, has published another groundbreaking report titled, “Whose Sarin?” In it, Hersh states (emphasis added):

Image: NATO (Wikimedia Commons).
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
The lengthy report goes on in detail, covering the manner in which Western leaders intentionally manipulated or even outright fabricated intelligence to justify military intervention in Syria – eerily similar to the lies told to justify the invasion and occupation of Iraq, and the escalation of the war in Vietnam after the Gulf of Tonkin incident.
The report also reveals that Al Nusra, Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, was identified by US intelligence agencies long ago for possessing chemical weapons. These are the same terrorists Hersh warned about in his 2007 article titled, “The Redirection: Is the Administration’s new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” which prophetically stated (emphasis added):
“To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”
Hersh has now warned the public of both a conspiracy by the West to use terrorists to overthrow the sovereign government of Syria (which has unfolded exactly as was predicted years ago), as well as their use of chemical weapons. He has also exposed the systematic manner in which the West has lied aboutthe August 21, 2013 gas attack in Damascus.
As Hersh summed up his latest report, he asked a fundamental question those still insisting the Syrian government was behind the attack have failed to answer:
The administration’s distortion of the facts surrounding the sarin attack raises an unavoidable question: do we have the whole story of Obama’s willingness to walk away from his ‘red line’ threat to bomb Syria? He had claimed to have an iron-clad case but suddenly agreed to take the issue to Congress, and later to accept Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical weapons. It appears possible that at some point he was directly confronted with contradictory information: evidence strong enough to persuade him to cancel his attack plan, and take the criticism sure to come from Republicans.
The West abandoned its plans for military intervention in Syria because the world rejected its narrative, and despite assurances that the West had air tight intelligence, after many months still, the lid is tightly closed. It is clear that the West desired military intervention in the worst way, and had it possessed real intelligence linking the attacks to the Syrian government, it surely would have revealed it. As Hersh points out, they never had such evidence to begin with and depended entirely on their ability to sell yet another pack of lies to the public.
Armchair “Experts” to the Rescue 

But even with the West’s capitulation in Syria, and months passing without a shred of credible evidence produced, hacks among Western media continue to perpetuate the original narrative. Among these are of course corporate-financier funded think-tanks and propaganda fronts like the Brookings Institution, Foreign Policy Magazine, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies (FDD), and establishment papers like the Guardian. In the middle of it all is couch-potato self-proclaimed weapons expert, Eliot Higgins, a representation of the West’s propaganda 2.0 campaign.
UK-based Higgins lost his job and now spends his days combing social media sites for “evidence” he then analyzes and reports on. The Western media, with its propagandists expelled from Syria and many of its “sources” in Syria exposed in humiliating attempts to fabricate and manipulate evidence, quickly picked Higgins up and elevated his armchair blogging to “expert analysis.” Since then, Higgins has joined the already discredited “Syrian Observatory for Human Rights” another UK-based individual, as the basis upon which the West’s Syrian narrative spins.
The Guardian’s Brian Whitaker, who has maintained a particularly suspicious proximity to Higgins and his work, recently published a startling condemnation of venerated Pulitizer Prize-winning journalist, Seymour Hersh. In a hit piece titled, “Investigating chemical weapons in Syria – Seymour Hersh and Brown Moses go head to head,” “Brown Moses” referring to Eliot Higgins’ alias, Whitaker claims:
In the blue corner, Seymour Hersh, one of America’s most famous and highly paid investigative reporters. In the red corner,
Eliot Higgins, who sits at home in an English provincial town trawling the internet and tweets and blogs about his findings under the screen name Brown Moses.
On Sunday, in a 5,000-word article for the London Review of Books, Hersh suggested Syrian rebels, rather than the regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attacks near Damascus on August 21.
On Monday, Higgins responded on the Foreign Policy website, demolishing the core of Hersh’s argument in a mere 1,700 words.
While seeking to re-ignite the “whodunnit” debate about chemical weapons, Hersh’s article unwittingly revealed a lot about the changing nature of investigative journalism. Hersh is old-school. He operates in a world of hush-hush contacts – often-anonymous well-placed sources passing snippets of information around which he constructs an article that challenges received wisdom.
The Hersh style of journalism certainly has a place, but in the age of the internet it’s a diminishing one – as the web-based work of Higgins and others continually shows.
Whitaker is desperately attempting to keep the wheels on the establishment’s new propaganda 2.0 vehicle – manipulating social media, much the way Hersh describes intelligence being manipulated, to create any outcome necessary to bolster a predetermined narrative.
What he doesn’t address is the fact that Higgins’ work almost entirely depends on videos posted online by people he does not know, who may be misrepresenting who they are, what they are posting, and their motivations for doing so – such is the nature of anonymity on the web and why this evidence alone is useless outside of a larger geopolitical context.
Both Whitaker and Higgins, who maintain that the Syrian government was behind the attacks, fail to address another glaring reality. A false flag attack is designed to look like the work of one’s enemy. In other words, terrorists in Syria would use equipment, uniforms, weapons, and tactics that would pin the crime on the Syrian government. All Higgins has proved, thus far, is that the superficial details of the operation made for a convincing false flag attack.
Claims the Militants Can’t Produce or Properly Handle Chemical Weapons are False
Whitaker hails Higgins’ Foreign Policy piece arrogantly titled, “Sy Hersh’s Chemical Misfire,” but in reality, all Higgins does is point out specifics of the attack, some of which are confirmed, some of which are implied – all of which could either have been the work of the government or militants. The question Higgins fails to answer is what motivation would the government have had to carry out the attacks with the UN based just miles away and with government forces already decisively winning the war with conventional weapons? The only possible scenario that would lead to the Syrian government losing this conflict now would be foreign military intervention – and the best way to make that happen would be by using chemical weapons.
Toward the end of Higgin’s piece, he, like his friends at the Guardian, attempt to claim Al Nusra, contrary to Hersh’s report, are most likely not capable of producing sarin. He states (emphasis added):
I asked chemical weapons specialist Dan Kaszeta for his opinion on that. He compared the possibility of Jabhat al-Nusra using chemical weapons to another terrorist attack involving sarin: the 1996 gassing of the Tokyo subway by the Aum Shinrikyo cult.
“The 1994 to 1996 Japanese experience tells us that even a very large and sophisticated effort comprising many millions of dollars, a dedicated large facility, and a lot of skilled labor results only in liters of sarin, not tons,” Kaszeta said. “Even if the Aug. 21 attack is limited to the eight Volcano rockets that we seem to be talking about, we’re looking at an industrial effort two orders of magnitude larger than the Aum Shinrikyo effort. This is a nontrivial and very costly undertaking, and I highly doubt whether any of the possible nonstate actors involved here have the factory to have produced it. Where is this factory? Where is the waste stream? Where are the dozens of skilled people — not just one al Qaeda member — needed to produce this amount of material?”
Of course, to call Al Nusra a nonstate actor is not entirely truthful. Al Nusra and other extremist networks inside of Syria have had the US, Saudi Arabia, and Israel’s backing since at least as early as 2007. Since 2011, Qatar and Turkey have also played immense roles in supporting Al Nusra – with NATO-member Turkey providing them sanctuary and even logistical support. Higgins and his “expert” ask where the factories, waste streams, and skilled people are – the answer is most likely somewhere within one of the many axis nations supporting Al Nusra. They certainly have the capacity to both manufacturer the gas and transport it into Syria – or conversely – provide Al Nusra with the supplies and personal to do it inside of Syria.
Higgins and his “expert’s” attempt to make Al Nusra sound like cave dwelling simpletons running on a shoestring budget, when even the US State Department admitted by 2012 that the terrorist organization was operating at a national level, carrying out hundreds of attacks across the country. In an attempt to cover up the growing influence the Western-backing of Al Qaeda was creating within Syria, tales of vast “Twitter donations” were spun to explain how Al Nusra was expanding faster than so-called moderates who were receiving billions of dollars in equipment, training, vehicles, and weapons by the West and its regional allies. In reality, that torrent of cash and supplies was going intentionally into the hands of Al Nusra and other extremist groups.
Clearly, if anyone in Syria, beside the government, was going to produce and deploy chemical weapons, it would be Al Nusra.
Higgins, Whitaker, and other journalists have also maintained the West’s official narrative that not only are they sure the government did it because the “evidence” suggests so and because the militants do not possess chemical weapons, but also because the militants fighting the government don’t possess the training to carry out the attacks. Higgins has done a masterful job proving that all the militants would need is a flatbed truck and a metal tube to launch the ordinance implicated in the attacks. As far as training in handling chemical weapons, CNN itself revealed the United States had long since taken care of that.
CNN’s December 2012 report titled, “Sources: U.S. helping underwrite Syrian rebel training on securing chemical weapons,” stated that:
The United States and some European allies are using defense contractors to train Syrian rebels on how to secure chemical weapons stockpiles in Syria, a senior U.S. official and several senior diplomats told CNN Sunday.
The training, which is taking place in Jordan and Turkey, involves how to monitor and secure stockpiles and handle weapons sites and materials, according to the sources. Some of the contractors are on the ground in Syria working with the rebels to monitor some of the sites, according to one of the officials.
Syrian Electronic Army E-Mails Exposes A Deceitful, Depraved Western Media
While perhaps Higgins and company missed that CNN report, it is now revealed that at least Higgins, and several other journalists were told by an American contractor on the ground inside of Syria, that militants had gained access to chemical weapons and more importantly, were planning to use them in a false flag attack – this months before the August 21 attack in Damascus.
The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has released e-mails this week between American contractor Matthew Van Dyke and members of the Western media, including Higgins. The e-mails indicated that militants had chemical weapons and were planning to use them in an attack to frame the Syrian government – serving as impetus for wider foreign intervention. SEA’s emails have been confirmed by Higgins himself in a series of self-incriminating tweets where he goes, point-by-point, attempting to provide explanations for the damning revelations.
Image: It’s true – but… The back-peddling Eliot Higgins aka Brown Moses may just be presiding over his early retirement as an establishment propagandist – thanks not to some Western NGO dealing in transparency, but the Syrian Electronic Army, listed by the FBI as “terrorists.” 
The e-mails reveal multiple correspondences regarding chemical weapons falling into the hands of terrorists aimed at using them in a false flag operation, Higgins’ and Van Dyke’s mutual “benefactor” located in Virginia, “near DC” (Langley, Virginia?), and job offers for Higgins from NGOs and a defense contractor involving “open source intelligence,” the new buzzword used by Higgins and Whitaker in regards to the new form of propaganda they both participate in.
Being a Propagandist is Lucrative
The e-mails illustrate prior knowledge of chemical weapons falling into the hands of terrorists who fully planned on using them in a false flag operation. Higgins and others had this information, and now, have Seymour Hersh’s report as well, yet they still pose the argument that the militants had neither the ability nor the means to carry out the attacks. In fact, it appears that the Western media and underlings like Higgins went out of their way specifically to discredit the notion from even being considered. In other words, a concerted cover-up.
The e-mails above, and others in the large cache also reveal the possible motivation for these lies. So-called journalists and researchers peddling the West’s narrative appear to have a wide range of lucrative offers presented to them, as well as funding for them to continue doing the work they are already involved in. This of course is only the case so long as their narratives mesh with the institutions, corporations, and individuals cutting the checks.
Why would Higgins even mention the possibility of a false flag attack, when all that would do is alienate him from the establishment he is so eagerly trying to be a part of? His recent piece in Foreign Policy and the Guardian’s ceaseless promotion of his work are favors that demand reciprocation – in the form of toeing the line and selling a narrative Higgins and others know is deceitful.
That Higgins, the Guardian, and Foreign Policy are prepared to throw veteran journalist Seymour Hersh under the bus to protect their interests, gives us a look into the depths of depravity within which this “new” media Whitaker celebrates, operate.
Worst of all for the West, is that the transparency and accountability they claim to uphold, had to be kept in check by the SEA – an organization wanted by the FBI as “terrorists.” We would be led to believe by the likes of Whitaker, Higgins, and Van Dyke that the Syrian government and their supporters are the villains, but in their own words and actions we see the truth.

US Halts Aid Into Northern Syria, Citing Islamist Gains

Al-Qaeda's Warehouse Seizure Underscores Insecurity of Supply Line

by Jason Ditz, December 10, 2013
US officials have confirmed they are suspending all direct aid to Syrian rebels in the nation’s north, including both weapons and non-lethal aid, citing the growing Islamist control over the area.
The move to suspend the shipments has been expected for some time, after a late November shipment to a Free Syrian Army (FSA) warehouse ended with al-Qaeda seizing the entire shipment, the warehouse, and several members of the FSA.
The warehouse was a key stop on the supply line through Turkey into Syria’s northwest, and with al-Qaeda taking more and more border towns, sending goods through them virtually guarantees the Islamists will take some or all of it.
Officials say it is “too early to say” if the halt will be permanent, and that it won’t impact humanitarian aid, which is delivered by international NGOs.


Iran Quits Talks Over Latest US Sanctions

Says Sanctions Violate the Spirit of the P5+1 Deal

by Jason Ditz, December 13, 2013
Last month’s key P5+1 deal with Iran was the crowning achievement of years of diplomacy, and the Obama Administration has made much of trying to protect the deal, warning Congress against passing any new sanctions because that would violate the terms of the agreement.
But it is the administration itself that has put the deal in serious jeopardy, having imposed a series of new sanctions against Iran’s trading partners yesterday. Iran’s negotiating team is now leaving the Vienna talks and returning to Tehran, leaving open the question of whether or not the talks will resume.
Iran’s chief negotiator, Deputy FM Abbas Araqchi, explained the decision to quit the current talks was made because the US move violated “the spirit” of the P5+1 deal, which included an explicit pledge to impose no new sanctions against Iran for six months. The Iranian government is now said to be evaluating the situation and whether they can continue the talks at all.
The Obama Administration had argued the new sanctions “technically” didn’t violate the deal because they didn’t hit Iran directly, but rather a bunch of Iran’s trading partners for doing business with Iran. The administration also says the timing of the move was “coincidental.”
Yet it’s hard to see how it could be, and after repeatedly warning Congress against moves that could threaten the talks they appear to have gone out of their way to test the limits of the agreement.
EU officials say they believe the talks will resume at some point, but the damage may be done either way, and even if Iran does agree to return to the talks it will likely be with a much more skeptical eye toward the exact terms of any deal, since the US has shown itself more than willing bend their interpretation.

US, Israeli Officials Bicker Over ‘Value’ of Iran Sanctions Relief

Treasury Dept Official Claims Sanctions Aren't Eased

by Jason Ditz, December 11, 2013
After weeks of bickering over the hypothetical dollar value to attach to the P5+1 deal with Iran, US and Israeli officials are still at odds, with Israel claiming they have secret admissions from the Obama Administration that their previous estimate of $7 billion was too low, and it’s more like $20 billion.
That’s a big difference, if you’re talking about actual money. But you’re not in this case, as the “relief” amounts to between $3 and $4 billion of seized money being returned to Iran, and everything else in that dollar figure is the result of assigning seemingly arbitrary figures to “concessions.”
Those so-called concessions, including allowing Iran to engage in global trade using gold (they’re still not allowed to access banks) and to buy replacement parts for civilian aircraft aren’t really gifts, but each had multi-billion dollar pricetags slapped on them for rhetoric’s sake.
At the same time Treasury Undersecretary David Cohen has his own dollar figure: zero. He’s saying that the P5+1 has tricked Iran, that none of the putative sanctions relief will amount to anything, and that the whole country will be dramatically worse off in six months.

Senate Iran Sanctions Vote in January At the Earliest

Bill Could Be Introduced This Week

by Jason Ditz, December 11, 2013
Senate hawks Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) are expected to introduce a new round of sanctions against Iran, aimed at derailing ongoing negotiations, as soon as this week.
Introduction doesn’t mean voting, however, and with the Senate wrapping things up for the year, the bill isn’t going to get consideration for a voteuntil January, at the earliest.
The Obama Administration has urged them to wait through the six month interim deal with Iran, with Iran similarly warning any sanctions passed before then would violate the pact and essentially ruin the negotiations.
Though the exact text of the bill still isn’t public, it is said to not attempt to impose any sanctions through the six months period, and Sen. Lindsay Graham (R – SC) says he believes it will be able to get a “veto-proof” majority.

Senate Hawks Push Iran Sanctions, But Delay Likely

Banking Committee Chair Says Sanctions Must Wait

by Jason Ditz, December 10, 2013
Senate hawks are pretty much done writing up their latest round of Iran sanctions, with Sens. Robert Menendez (D – NJ) and Mark Kirk (R – IL) saying they are ready for a vote in a matter of days.
But with the Senate wrapping up the last procedural votes of the year, it’s a vote that may not happen. The plan now is to deal with nominations this week, and then rush through the $607 billion military spending bill, without amendments.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R – KY) accusedMajority Leader Harry Reid (D – NV) of scheduling specifically to avoid an Iran sanctions vote, and said the Senate should skip nominations this week to push the sanctions, aimed at killing diplomacy with Iran, immediately.
Senate Banking Committee chair Tim Johnson (D – SD) says that there won’t be any sanctions votes coming out of his committee for now, and that he plans to wait through the interim six month deal, as requested by the administration.

As Sanctions Ease, Iran Sees Oil Exports Jump

Iran Envoy to Make First London Visit as Icy Relations Thaw


Karzai Slams US Threats, Demands End to Strikes on Civilians

US Envoy Admits 'Nowhere Near' Deciding to Leave

by Jason Ditz, December 10, 2013
Discussing the US ultimatum to sign the Bilateral Security Agreement by the end of the month, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he will only do so if the US agrees to end all air strikes against civilian targets, as well as raids on the homes of Afghans. He also slammed the US for making threats over his lack of signature.
Recent drone strikes with considerable civilian death tolls have brought Karzai’s demands for limits on the occupation forces beyond 2014 into deeper focus, as the US continues to reiterate its demands for an immediate signature without any further limits.
US Special Envoy James Dobbins insists that the lack of Karzai’s signature is “raising anxiety,” and hurting the Afghani currency. That doesn’t seem to be true, as the Afghani is trading more or less flat since July.
Speaking of things that weren’t true, Dobbins conceded that the ultimatum, under which the US would supposedly withdraw if Karzai didn’t sign by the end of December, isn’t even being seriously considered now, and that the US is “nowhere near” any decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, with or without Karzai’s permission.