Next Cold War Roundup 1/8/16
_ Thank goodness someone reads email news dumps slipped in on holidays. In this case it was the excellent investigative journalist, Brad Hoff. The New Year’s Eve release of Hillary Clinton emails now show that she was “getting personally briefed on the battlefield crimes” of the “rebels” supported by the US, and these allies were systematically executing black Libyans perceived as being loyal to Gaddafi, and sub-Saharan Africans in Libya, all of whom were labeled as “foreign mercenaries” and “subjected to torture, executions, and their towns ‘liberated’ by ethnic cleansing.”
_ The emails also show that there were boots on the ground in Libya during the overthrow of Gaddafi while NATO was vigorously portraying the battle as being fought only by Libyan rebels. ” British, French, and Egyptian special operations units were training Libyan militants along the Egyptian-Libyan border, as well as in Benghazi suburbs.”
_ As Brad Hoff and Scott Horton mention in this 5 Jan. radio interview (podcast is here), some of these things were reported, in real time, but the US media, for the most part, ignored it. Some things now confirmed were brushed off as conspiracy theory or in other ways that are typical in cover ups. The black Libyans and Sub-saharan migrant workers in Libya numbered in the millions (at least one million, maybe more). How many of them were massacred?
_ RT reported on the subject pretty extensively in real time and afterward but it was largely ignored in the countries who were trying to paint a different picture of the Libyan revolution. For example: “Libyan rebels cage black Africans in zoo, force feed them flags (SHOCK VIDEO)“, “Refugee camp massacre: Libyan militia launch racist raid“.
_As for Libyan gold, many have wondered what happened to Libya’s gold for years now. Maybe nothing happened to it. But there were rumors at the time about gold being moved out of the country. There were some France24 and other reports of Gadaffi spending 20% of his gold while he was under seige, just before his death and there were statements, post-coup, from Libya’s central banker saying the gold is safe. But after that, the subject seems to disappear and none of the mainstream media talks about the gold as a motivation for overthrowing Gaddafi. The only serious discussions I’ve found are from alternative, independent media (For example, ZeroHedge reported during the war in August, 2011 “The Battle for Libya Is Almost Over… As Is The Battle for its 144 Tons of Gold“). Black Agenda Report and others, at the time of the regime change, did claim that NATO’s motivation was related to Gaddafi’s work on a pan-African economic union and currency. But no intrepid journalists from western media organizations and no vaunted investigative journalist organizations chose to look into that. Maybe now that the Clinton emails have revealed one of the main motivations for the overthrow of Gaddafi, more people will investigate the story of Libya’s gold.
_ The “Aberdeen Voice”, an independent news/analysis web site in Scotland has an excellent series of articles by Jonathan Russell, but apparently nobody in the western news media saw them or followed his lead. Sputnik was on the case since September, 2011: “The mystery of Gaddafi’s gold“. But the New York Times, et al, remained incurious even though stories about gold and treasure have fascinated people for centuries.
_ Two books recommended by Brad Hoff on these subjects: “Slouching toward Sirte” and “Arab Spring, Libyan Winter“. I highly recommend reading Brad Hoff at The Levant Report. Brad is freelance writer specializing in the Middle East where he lived for a period of time (including Syria) and he’s a Marine veteran who served in a headquarters unit stateside in the Iraq war. Here is his bio from Levant Report:
BRAD HOFF is Managing Editor of Levant Report. He is a former Marine and has taught ancient and modern history at various schools across Texas – both at the college and high school levels. Brad has lived and traveled extensively throughout the Middle East, spending most of his time in Syria prior to the 2011 uprising.
_ In more recent Libya news: DailyMail reports 6000 US and European troops led by 1000 British SAS special forces going to Libya to take oil fields back from ISIS and help Libyan commanders control the oil. “ISIS has taken advantage of the lawlessness since the 2011 ouster of Colonel Gaddafi to make large gains along the coastline, setting up its power base in the former dictator’s hometown of Sirte.”
_ New report on the AFRICOM campaign plan: “Africom is looking to contain ISIL in Libya and degrade it, said officials, who estimate there are roughly 3,500 ISIL terrorists in Libya.” Looks like some not-a-war kinetic military action in the future.
Infosec fails so hard. Ukraine's power plant was hacked & shutdown because someone had macros enabled in Excel https://t.co/PA7cDQC9EI
— the grugq (@thegrugq) January 7, 2016
Chairman of JCS in Turkey
_ Chairman of Joint Chiefs traveled to Turkey on Weds. In Ankara, he met with his counterpart Gen. Hulusi Akar, chief of the military general staff. “He also met with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu.” “The Turks have deployed an additional 25,000 soldiers along the most critical parts of the border with Syria … adding that they believe they have cut into smuggling of weapons and contraband and cut the number of foreign fighters entering and leaving Syria.” “They have some [Syrian Sunni Arab] groups identified that they would like to have us help train and equip… they felt there were some groups that would be helpful in conducting operations in Syria along the border… to come into Turkey to do training so they can then be connective tissue, if you will, to larger elements in Syria.”
Dunford said he wants “to move at the speed of heat here.”
“As soon as I have the information necessary to frame this for decision we’re going to move ahead,” the chairman said, noting that President Barack Obama has made it clear to him that he wants ideas and that he wants to move quickly. [Emphasis added]
_ “Iran and India have announced that they intend to settle all oustanding crude oil payments in rupees, as part of a joint strategy to dump the dollar and trade instead in national currencies.”
_ From The Guardian, February, 2003: “In October 2000 Iraq insisted on dumping the US dollar – ‘the currency of the enemy‘ – for the more multilateral euro.”
_ Somebody leaked a doc to the AP:
An internal timeline prepared for U.S. officials dealing with the Syria crisis sets an unspecified date in March 2017 for Assad to “relinquish” his position as president and for his “inner circle” to depart. That would be more than five years after Obama first called for Assad to leave.
_ The timeline made it appear as if the Obama administration was still pushing for the old plan of installing a transitional government and then requiring Assad and his entire “inner circle” to leave that transitional government in power until the new elections, to be held months later. The AP story caused a stir and then on the same day, the State Dept. spokesman basically refuted the whole thing. So it’s not clear if some rogue administration war hawk leaked this or if the White House itself leaked it and then deliberately denied this was their plan. AP added this to their story (h/t to Moon of Alabama):
Spokesman John Kirby described the document as a “staff-level think piece” that is “preliminary and pre-decisional” and not “an official position.” He also said it is “not an accurate projection of plans by the international community to effect a political transition in Syria.”
_ US claims the coalition killed 2500 ISIS fighters in the past month.
#BREAKING About 2,500 IS fighters killed in Iraq and Syria last month: US official
— Agence France-Presse (@AFP) January 6, 2016
_ Russia is reportedly “providing air support for YPG Kurds fighting IS north of Aleppo” as they fight to control the last pieces of territory along the Turkish border. Typically it is reported that the US coalition provides air support for the SDF – Syrian Democratic Forces (YPG +Arab militias) fighting ISIS, and the Russians provide air support for their R4+1 coalition (Syrian army and local allied forces, Iran’s Republican Guard, Iraqi militias + Hezbollah) fighting opposition rebels and ISIS. This is possibly a new development or a new way the alliances could work together.
_ “With impressive scholarship programs, the German government seeks to establish firm ties to the future elite of post-war Syria… This assures Germany a wide range of channels for influence in Damascus over the next few decades. Berlin is also making efforts to sift out students from among the refugees arriving in Germany to be included in its efforts to gain influence. This would crystallize into Germany’s becoming the Syrian elite’s top European point of reference.”
Saudi Arabia and Iran
_ Iranians are reporting that the Saudis bombed their embassy in Yemen.
_ The contrast is interesting.
— Ahmed Al Omran (@ahmed) January 6, 2016
_ Iran’s president Rouhani: “Saudi Arabia is trying to cover up its defeats and domestic problems by creating tension in the region”
_ Peshmerga are digging a massive trench to prevent ISIS suicide attacks but they possibly also will become the Kurdistan border if/when they break away from Iraq.
_ About a year ago, urban warfare training started — Germans training Kurdish fighters. They also taught them how to dig zig-zag trenches.
“We are just doing urban fighting training here,” a German colonel by the name of Jurgen says. “It’s great for training, and there are plenty of houses without glass, so fewer things can get broken.”
In addition to the Germans, there are American, British, Canadian, Dutch and Italian advisers in Iraqi Kurdistan. They teach everything from platoon movements to heavy weapons.
_ Iraq’s president Abadi sent his foreign minister Jaafari to Tehran to offer to mediate between Iran and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi embassy in Baghdad (inside the Green Zone) that had been closed since 1990 just reopened last month. There were protests in Baghdad Wednesday against the Saudis by Iraqi Shia, reportedly led by ” three most powerful Iranian-backed militias — Badr Organisation, Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah” and promises for bigger demonstrations to come.
Did the North Koreans test a Hydrogen Bomb?
_ “We do know something caused a 5.1 magnitude seismic event near the site … It was most likely a nuclear weapon … a test… But whether North Korea exploded a hydrogen bomb is uncertain.”
Russian Rocket Engines
_ Congress quietly lifted the ban on Russian rocket engines after “United Launch Alliance (ULA), a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin that has long been the primary contractor for launching Defense Department payloads into space, relies on the Russian-made RD-180. ULA recently declined to bid on a launch contract due to its limited supply of rocket engines.” John McCain was furious, saying “Instead of setting those engines aside for national security launches, ULA rushed to assign them to non-national security launches that are unrestricted in their use of Russian engines.” McCain also accused ULA of manufacturing a crisis and making “troubling and specious claims.”
_ The Pentagon wanted Congress to lift those sanctions on Russian rocket engines because their sole contractor (ULA) needed them. ULA will probably use a new American-made engine from Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin company, but it won’t be ready for at least four years. SpaceX can now bid on military satellite launches too but without Russian rocket engines, ULA cannot launch right now, which would leave the Pentagon with only one contractor again (SpaceX). Meanwhile, the US insisted that Russia sanctions be renewed again last month both for the US and EU (many of whose countries strongly want them lifted). With the sanctions eased, ULA placed an order for 20 more Russian rocket engines in December for its Atlas V “launch vehicle” (in addition to the 29 that are still on order).
Anti-Russia Propaganda in Official U.S. Media
_ “A new partnership is turning Radio Free Europe into an anti-Russia propaganda machine.” James Carden describes the origins of RFE/RL and the Inpreter in this article in The Nation: “Uncle Sam Got a Shiny New Propaganda Bullhorn for Christmas“. It’s hard to believe that Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, the American foreign propaganda organ, is partnering with such a biased organization as the Interpreter online magazine. The Interpreter was originally started and funded by Russian oligarch Mikhail Khordorkovsky and to give you an idea of the quality and bias, its editor-in-chief is Michael Weiss. So Weiss will be, to some extent, the face that the US will be projecting to the world as representative of the American point of view. It’s is both scary and embarrassing because of the reckless and also clownish and sometimes wholly inaccurate nature of the Weiss led propaganda. There is now a substantial amount of evidence to substantiate that claim. A simple Google search for Michael Weiss articles or a look at the Interpreter web site will satisfy the curious. (I choose not to link it here.)