June 30, 2012
Romania: U.S. Escalates Missile Brinkmanship Against Russia
On June 29 U.S. European Command announced the signing of new accords with the government of Romania for the stationing of American interceptor missiles in the country, a senior Russian diplomat stated that further talks with the U.S. on cuts in conventional and nuclear arms will not occur until Washington changes its stance on the U.S.-NATO missile shield project in Europe, and a top Russian official pledged to develop the means of circumventing the interceptor system on earth and in space.
At a joint committee meeting in the Bucharest, Major General Mark Schissler, Director of Plans and Policy at Headquarters U.S. European Command, and the Romanian Defense Ministry’s State Secretary for Defense Policy and Planning Sebastian Hulaban signed two implementing arrangements and three amendments to existing implementing arrangements related to the construction and operation of an American interceptor missile facility at a former air base in Deveselu. The new implementing arrangements pertain to the use of land surrounding the base and the use of air space over it for Phase II of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, the first phase of which was announced to be operational at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization summit in Chicago in May.
Also present for the signing were Rear Admiral Randall Hendrickson, Deputy Director of the Missile Defense Agency, and Brigadier General Thomas Sharpy, Director of Plans, Programs and Analyses for U.S. Air Forces in Europe.
The new codicils follow the Ballistic Missile Defense Agreement between the two nations which was signed in September of last year and entered into force in December. That pact in turn succeeded Romania’s announcement in February 2010 that it would host U.S. missiles as part of the Barack Obama administration’s Phased Adaptive Approach system to deploy scores of interceptors on land and sea in Eastern Europe from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea along Russia’s western flank.
Construction on the Romanian site will begin next year and in 2014 24 Standard Missile-3 interceptors will be deployed to the country, to be followed by as many, of a more advanced model, in Poland three years later.
Earlier in June U.S. representatives participated in an industry day in Romania, announcing that ground would be broken for the missile facility within months and dangling the prospect of contracts before local businesses, although Missile Defense Agency facilities require an American prime contractor for the military components.
The American representatives said they expected two contracts to be approved, one for developing the facilities of the Missile Defense Agency and one for the U.S. Navy component that is included in the Deveselu site. The involvement of the Navy, which will gain an access control center and facilities for 250 personnel, could indicate that the U.S. and NATO will not limit themselves to the placing of land-based Standard Missile-3s but may add the deployment of the sea-based version on American guided missile cruisers and destroyers in the Black Sea.
Commenting on the above, the press officer at the American embassy in Romania, Kenneth Wetzel, said, “This project reaffirms Romania’s commitments to NATO and reflects the very strong relations between our two countries.”
The missile shield facility will initially be a bilateral U.S.-Romanian undertaking until it is transferred to NATO control. Bogdan Aurescu of the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Romanian companies have gained considerable experience in NATO and NATO-interoperable projects since joining the U.S.-led military bloc in 2004 that permits the country to be the first to host longer-range, higher-velocity interceptors in Europe. (Two years ago the Pentagon moved a Patriot Advanced Capability-3 battery and approximately 100 military personnel to Poland.)
The 2011 agreement on basing U.S. interceptor missiles in Romania begins with these words:
“Having in mind the United States–Romanian Strategic Partnership and the further development thereof, and recognizing that a very important pillar of the United States–Romanian relationship is the solidarity embodied in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, the United States and Romania recognize the importance of enhancing their individual and collective national security by working within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization…
“Reaffirming their strong will to work together towards contributing to, in accordance with the principle of the indivisibility of the security of NATO and with the principle of NATO solidarity, the NATO missile defense capability, as a key mission of the Alliance, with the aim of providing full coverage and protection for all NATO European populations, territory and forces, as well as to shaping NATO’s central role in missile defense in Europe…”
In 2005, the year after Romania joined NATO, the U.S. signed a comprehensive defense cooperation agreement with the country that provided the Pentagon its first military bases in a former Warsaw Pact country, including the Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base which had been used for the invasion of Iraq in 2003 and subsequent to that has been employed for the wars in that nation, Afghanistan and Libya.
On June 18 the above-cited Romanian official Aurescu met with Poland’s presidential adviser on security matters Stanislaw Koziej to share Romania’s experience in regard to hosting American Standard Missile-3 interceptors. The U.S. will deploy the new Standard Missile-3 Block 1B, to go into production this fall, to Romania in 2015 and the more advanced Block 11A to Poland in 2018.
The missile system will be controlled by NATO from the U.S. air base in Ramstein, Germany and connected with the Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance X-band missile radar put into operation in Turkey in January, which an Obama administration official last autumn described as “probably the biggest strategic decision between the United States and Turkey in the past 15 or 20 years.”
On June 29 Grigory Berdennikov, the Russian envoy to the International Atomic Energy Agency, stated that Russia will not continue talks with the U.S. on conventional and nuclear arms reductions until, as cited by Russian Information Agency Novosti, “Washington changes its stance on the global deployment of U.S. missile defenses.”
The news agency quoted Berdennikov as warning:
“[H]ow are we supposed to move forward if the United States refuses to curb its missile defenses?
“We are certainly hoping that they will change their stance on missile defense, because at this point there is no progress (in missile defense talks) whatsoever. We cannot do anything else while there is no clarity on missile defense issues.”
On the same day Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told a Russian radio station that Russia will develop a response to the U.S.-NATO missile interception system that will allow for it being confronted and overcome. He said, “Our task is to create a real guarantee of security for the Russian Federation by arming Russian forces with equipment capable of countering any attempts to offset the strategic balance.”
According to a Xinhua News Agency account of his statement, Russia will “create defensive systems capable of intercepting incoming missiles or upgrade its own first-strike nuclear forces so as to overcome any anti-missile umbrella.”
Rogozin added: “We, of course, will create a system of overcoming and suppressing any anti-missile defense. If somebody thinks it is possible to surround us with an anti-missile fence, we will break down everything, the entire wall, if someone would attempt to isolate us or make us kneel down.”
In anticipating the next step in U.S. and NATO missile interception plans – the inevitable expansion into space – the Russian official said that his nation will also “give an adequate response” to the threat of military attacks from that domain.
He explained Russia’s concerns regarding the militarization of space: “Obviously, long-term space stations will be created not only for civilian but, perhaps, for military purposes. Today it is impossible to draw the line between civilian and military space (programs).”
The deployment of interceptor missiles in Romania and Poland will mark the beginning and not the end of U.S. and NATO plans for an international – and beyond, to space – missile system for potential first-strike use against Russia and other nations, a system that can prove the greatest threat to humanity since the end of the Cold War.
June 29, 2012
Combined Maritime Forces: U.S.’s Global Naval Force in the Arabian Sea
The U.S. Navy blog site ran a feature on the U.S.-created and -led multinational Combined Maritime Forces operation throughout the Arabian Sea on June 28.
Established in February 2002 toward the beginning of the so-called global war on terror, it has in the interim expanded to include 35-40 ships engaged in what are identified as anti-piracy operations and the “promotion of security, stability and prosperity” in 2.5 million square miles of international waters from the Horn of Africa to the western coast of Pakistan and from the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden separating Somalia from Yemen: A zone taking in recent and current American and North Atlantic Treaty Organization theaters of war in Iraq, Afghanistan-Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen; indeed the central focus of Western military operations and geopolitical strategy over the past decade.
Two and a half years ago Washington claimed that its campaign and that of its NATO allies in Afghanistan had proven so successful that it had driven al-Qaeda elements out of South Asia, forcing them to – somehow, it was never explained how – flee across the entire width of the Arabian Sea to Somalia and Yemen, although overall developments related to the intractable, and unwinnable, war in Afghanistan in the interim hardly bear out the first half of that self-deluding assessment.
The over decade-long Combined Maritime Forces initiative is commanded by American Vice Admiral John Miller, who is simultaneously commander of U.S Naval Forces Central Command and the U.S. Fifth Fleet, all three based in Bahrain. Its deputy commander is Commodore Simon Ancona of the Royal Navy, who also serves as the United Kingdom Maritime Component commander in charge of Royal Navy and Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships in the Middle East. The U.S. Fifth Fleet has a Carrier Strike Group, Expeditionary Strike Group, at most times two nuclear-powered supercarriers and other ships and aircraft with 15,000 service members assigned to them.
Combined Maritime Forces consists of three combined task forces (CFTs) — CTF 150, CTF 151 and CTF 152 – which are identified as conducting maritime security, counter-piracy and Persian Gulf maritime security operations, respectively.
The Combined Maritime Forces website describes the geostrategic importance of its area of operation as encompassing “some of the world’s most important shipping lanes,” from the Red Sea to the Gulf of Oman and the Laccadive Sea; where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Arabian Sea and where the latter connects with the Persian Gulf and where it flows into the Bay of Bengal.
Combined Maritime Forces now includes naval forces from 26 nations, all but one, Thailand, NATO members states, partners and Troop Contributing Nations for the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
Member states: The U.S., Belgium, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Turkey.
Partners: Australia, Bahrain, Japan, Jordan, Kuwait, New Zealand, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates.
Troop Contributing Nations not yet in the second category: Malaysia and Singapore.
Combined Task Force 150 operates in the Gulf of Aden, Gulf of Oman, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and Indian Ocean and has been commanded at various times by the U.S., Britain, France, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia and Pakistan.
The strategic significance of CTF 150′s geographical scope is described by Combined Maritime Forces as follows:
“This area is a vital artery of world trade that includes the main shipping routes from the Far East to Europe and the US with over 23,000 shipping movements per year. Over one third of the world’s oil passes through the Area of Operation (AOR) each year. In addition the AOR contains three narrow waterways, know as ‘choke points’, where vessels are required to pass closely between two shorelines…”
Combined Task Force 151 is deployed to the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia, covering 1.1 million square miles. It has been commanded by the U.S., Denmark, Turkey, Pakistan and South Korea. CTF 151 coordinates all its activities with NATO and the European Union Naval Force Somalia, which are conducting Operation Ocean Shield and Operation Atalanta, respectively.
Combined Task Force 152 operates in what Combined Maritime Forces refers to as the Arabian Gulf; that is, what most of the world knows as the Persian Gulf. The use of the first description is a naked affront to Iran and is meant to be just that. CTF 152 operates in conjunction with the navies of the six Gulf Cooperation Council member states: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It has been commanded by the U.S., Britain, Italy, Australia, Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
The Combined Maritime Forces website offers this concise background information (and at least implicitly reveals why the CTF 152 is present where it is):
“Today the Gulf is one of the most strategic waterways in the world due to its importance in world oil transportation. It contains in the region of 700 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, representing over half of the world’s oil reserves, and over 2,000 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves (45% of the world total). Arabian Gulf countries maintain about one-third of the world’s productive oil capacity. The majority of the oil exported from the Arabian Gulf is transported by sea.”
The U.S. and its military allies in Canada, Europe, the Asia-Pacific region and the Persian Gulf have their warships and shipborne aircraft positioned in the most economically and geostrategically vital stretch of water in the world. To protect their own interests in the manner the world’s sole military superpower employs throughout most of the planet – maintaining the presence of overwhelming firepower – and whenever it suits them to threaten the fundamental interests of others.
June 28, 2012
U.S. Tests New Interceptor Missile For NATO System Deployment
On June 27 the U.S.’s Missile Defense Agency conducted its second test of the new-generation Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 1B interceptor since last month.
The missile is to replace the current Block 1A version used on American Aegis class cruisers and destroyers capable of being deployed around the world and to be stationed in a land-based configuration in Romania in 2015.
A yet more advanced model, the Block 11A, will be deployed in Poland three years later. As the heart of what Washington calls the European Phased Adaptive Approach, 24 missiles apiece will be based in Romania and Poland to complement as many as 83 U.S. warships already able or upgraded to carry Standard Missile-3 interceptors (at the moment there are 24, with 36 by 2014) which can be dispatched to the Mediterranean Sea, where an Aegis class warship is already on deployment, and in future the Baltic, Norwegian, Barents and Black Seas if the U.S. and NATO desire to place them in those locations.
NATO allies will provide other vessels equipped for missile radar purposes – perhaps dozens, perhaps scores; the missile radar site established in Turkey this January can be supplemented by others, likely in Caucasus and Baltic nations; and the Phased Adaptive Approach will be integrated with existing NATO programs like the Active Layered Theatre Ballistic Missile Defence and the Medium Extended Air Defense System to cover all of NATO’s European territory with an eventually impenetrable missile shield.
At its summit in Chicago in late May, NATO announced that the continent-wide missile interception system has achieved interim capacity.
A system that extensive is hardly required for the purposes the U.S. and NATO claim it is being created for – missile threats from Iran, North Korea and, according to NATO, even Syria – and instead possesses the potential of presenting a threat to Russia’s strategic assets.
The latest test of the SM-3 1B was off the coast of Hawaii where the USS Lake Erie fired the missile at what has been described as either a medium- or intermediate-range ballistic missile, destroying it in flight. In February 2008 the same guided missile cruiser launched an SM-3 130 miles over the Pacific Ocean to destroy a U.S. satellite, described as being disabled, in what some observers feared could mark the beginning of space warfare.
This week’s was the second successful launch of the SM-3 1B in a month and a half and the 21st successful test of an SM-3 in 28 attempts.
The preceding test, on May 9, was characterized by Wes Kremer, vice president of Raytheon’s Air and Missile Defense Systems, as being more “scripted” and the June 27 test as “more complex” because, he added, “We did do things on this mission that have not ever been previously done before with regards to the complexity of the target…” The latest test involved a separating target missile and the SM-3 Block 1B’s new enhanced two-color infrared seeker which distinguishes missiles from decoys.
The president of Raytheon Missile Systems, Dr. Taylor W. Lawrence, stated that subsequent test scenarios will be progressively more complex “as we demonstrate the full capability of the SM-3 Block IB against more advanced threats.” More complex than largely if not entirely fictitious Iranian and North Korean missile capabilities can serve as a pretext for.
After Wednesday’s launch, Missile Defense Agency spokesman Richard Lehner announced that production of the new SM-3 model will begin in the autumn.
Two days following the test, the head of Russia’s military, General Nikolai Makarov, stated that talks between his nation and the U.S. on the latter’s European interceptor missile system have gone nowhere, as Washington refuses to provide Russia with guarantees that the system will not be aimed against it. In Makarov’s words, “The work of experts continues, but no progress has been made.”
Early last month the above general, chief of the Russian general staff, in speaking of the U.S.-NATO missile system warned that “A decision to use destructive force pre-emptively will be taken if the situation worsens.”
Voice of Russia
June 28, 2012
Kosovo for the general
Igor Siletsky and Timur Blokhin
Wesley Clark always had good contacts with the Kosovo “government” and its “prime minister” – the former militant Hashim Thaci. There is even a street in Pristina named after Wesley Clark.
“It is clear that during their ‘cooperation’ that started in 1998, they concluded business agreements. Now it is absolutely clear that the bombings of Kosovo pursued both political and economic objectives: they were aimed not only at separating Kosovo from Serbia, but also at depriving Kosovo of its extensive natural resources…”
“Kosovo created a precedent. It was the first link in the strategy of the ‘humanitarian’ interventions of the NATO countries led by the USA…To be more exact, the possibility of interference in other regions of the world under this or that pretext became possible.”
Coal mining is very good but oil still has a good price. So everything continued, following the former format: Iraq, Somalia, and Libya.
Kosovo’s economy is overfilled with investments.
True, the majority of investors are Americans who bore a relation to the “democratization” of Yugoslavia that was carried out at the end of the 90s of the last century. Among them is the former commander of NATO forces in Kosovo retired general Wesley Clark, who is determined to invest more than 5.5 billion dollars in the former Yugoslav republic. Experts say that Washington’s strategy could be characterized by the following slogan: “Conquer and plunder”.
His closest supporters say that Wesley Clark is a great strategist. He wrote the book “Winning Modern Wars” that was published in 2001. In his fundamental survey the author mentions the Pentagon’s list of countries that can be regarded as candidates for a quick change of leadership. On that list are Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, and Somalia. Yugoslavia was not mentioned there because by that time the undesirable regime of Slobodan Milosevic had been overthrown with the help of precision and carpet bombings.
By the way, shortly after the Kosovo operation the tired general – Wesley Clark – retired and immediately got involved in the banking business. As it appears, he invested all his savings that he had accumulated as general, receiving from 150 to 200,000 dollars annually, in the banking business. Because of that he had to earn additional money, working as a military analyst on U.S. TV channels. However, he did not lose his contacts with Kosovo, where, following the previously mentioned democratization, entrepreneurship, especially, in the field of medicine, was on the rise. And now the Envidity Company that is in Clark’s ownership has filed a request for coal mining to the Kosovo authorities. Serbia, which does not recognize Kosovo’s independence, says that it is determined to demand protection for the natural resources belonging to it. Nobody wants to ask for Belgrade’s permission though as was the case many times before.
Wesley Clark always had good contacts with the Kosovo “government” and its “prime minister” – the former militant Hashim Thaci. There is even a street in Pristina named after Wesley Clark. By the way, a Russian political analyst and retired colonel-general Leonid Ivashov at the trial of Slobodan Milosevic mentioned the allied character of relations between the NATO troops and the militants of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA). As we can see, this cooperation has borne fruit, including both political and economic benefits, a Serbian journalist, Nikola Vrzic, says.
“It is clear that during their ‘cooperation’ that started in 1998, they concluded business agreements. Now it is absolutely clear that the bombings of Kosovo pursued both political and economic objectives: they were aimed not only at separating Kosovo from Serbia, but also at depriving Kosovo of its extensive natural resources. As it appears, coal is Kosovo’s main resource. Geologists say that there are other minerals there too. More prospecting for natural resources is needed there.”
Against the background of instability on the oil market, experts talk more and more often about good prospects for the development of synthetic fuel, including obtaining synthetic fuel from coal. Clark’s firm believes that it is possible to produce up to 100,000 barrels of the new source of energy daily.
The economic motives of NATO’s military games are actually not a secret. Of interest here is the fact that in the middle of the 1990s, at the very height of the fratricidal war in Yugoslavia, NATO countries’ citizens bought property in the Balkan republic. Buyers were making preparations for a new “post-Yugoslav” reality. And Kosovo was a good training ground, an expert with the Institute of Europe of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Pavel Kandel, said in an interview with the Voice of Russia.
“Kosovo created a precedent. It was the first link in the strategy of the ‘humanitarian’ interventions of the NATO countries led by the USA. Shortly before the Kosovo operation, at the urgent request of Washington, NATO adopted a new doctrine, which set a number of tasks beyond defence limits before the member-states of the formerly defensive bloc. To be more exact, the possibility of interference in other regions of the world under this or that pretext became possible.”
The strategy that was used earlier can be used again. Coal mining is very good but oil still has a good price. So everything continued, following the former format: Iraq, Somalia, and Libya. Something has gone wrong with Syria though. Damascus wants to develop democracy without humanitarian aid from the West. There are problems with Iran too. But economic strategists have enough patience: investor-generals are ready for investing at any time.
June 28, 2012
NATO Proxies Turkey and Saudi Arabia Move to War Footing on Eve of Syrian ‘Peace Summit’
By Finian Cunningham
The NATO-backed covert aggression against Syria could be reaching a tipping point for all-out war involving state forces. That should be no surprise. For the past 16 months, NATO and its regional proxies have been steadily increasing the violence and turmoil inside and outside Syria, while the Western corporate-controlled media maintain the ridiculous fiction that the bloody chaos is largely due to the government forces of President Bashar Al Assad cracking down on “peaceful protesters”.
Ironically, the crisis is culminating at the same time that the United Nations convenes an emergency summit on Syria in Geneva this weekend. The meeting, which is ostensibly aimed at “reviving the Kofi Annan peace plan”, will be attended by the five permanent members of the UN security council and other “invited” regional states. The irony is that leading NATO members, the US, Britain and France, as well as their Turkish and Arab allies who will also be attending the crisis conference, are the very parties that have deliberately created the precipice for all-out war in the Middle East.
As dignitaries fly into Geneva to “salvage peace in Syria”, there is a lockstep military build-up on the northern and southern flanks of Syria underway, with news that Turkey has dispatched battlefield tanks, missile batteries and heavy artillery to its Syrian border, while to the south Saudi Arabia has announced that its military forces have been put on a “state of high alert”.
Ankara’s military mobilization along its 800km land border with Syria came within hours of the declaration by Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan slating Syria as “a hostile state”. The immediate cause of the deterioration in relations between the neighbouring countries is the downing of a Turkish fighter jet last week in Syrian territorial waters. Syria claims it was acting in self-defence after the Phantom RF-4E warplane entered its airspace on Friday. Ankara has so far failed to give an explanation for why one of its warplanes was making such a provocative low-flying manoeuvre into Syrian airspace. But the Turkish government has announced that any move by Syrian armed forces towards its border will be viewed as another “hostile act” that it will respond to. How’s that for a provocative tether? Especially towards a country that is being attacked by armed groups crossing over its border with Turkey.
Meanwhile, on the same day that Turkey is militarizing along its border with Syria, Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah makes an unprecedented announcement putting his armed forces on high alert “due to the tense situation in the Middle East”. Using vague and contrived language, the Saudi ruler warned against “foreign or terrorist attacks” to justify the mobilization of the kingdom’s armed forces.
The military pincer movement against Syria tends to support the analysis that the downing of the Turkish fighter jet was a deliberate set-piece scenario designed to furnish a cause for war, or at least a stepping up of the international psy-ops campaign of intimidation against Syria.
It is notable that the circumstances surrounding the shooting down of the warplane have yet to be clarified. The Syrians seem to have firm grounds for acting in the way they did given the provocative conduct of the Turkish fighter jet. And there is an onus on the Ankara government to give some explanation for the unusual military manoeuvre, especially in the light of claims that the aircraft was on a reconnaissance mission on behalf of anti-Assad forces on the ground in Syria. Yet almost reflexively, before details have been established about the incident, Turkey has moved on to a war footing. Equally telling is that Saudi Arabia, a key ally of Ankara in opposition to Syria, has simultaneously moved also on to a war footing – without any substantive grounds for such a mobilization.
Some informed analysts have said that the Turkish-Saudi pincer on Syria is more aimed at intensifying the psy-ops pressure on Bashar Al Assad to cave in and relinquish power. Hisham Jaber, director of the Beirut-based Center for Middle East Studies, told Press TV that Ankara and Riyadh will balk at an all-out war with Syria because both are well aware that any such conflict will bring in Iran, Russia and China in support of their ally in Damascus.
Nonetheless, there is an ineluctable logic towards all-out war. Ever since the armed insurrection by foreign mercenaries was instigated in Syria’s southern town of Deraa in mid-March 2011, Turkey and Saudi Arabia have played key roles in fomenting the covert campaign of aggression to overthrow the Assad government – a campaign that is authored by leading NATO members, the US, Britain and France. The division of labour is such that Turkey has supplied land bases to organize the mercenaries from Libya, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Iraq; while Saudi Arabia provides the money – up to $100 million – to buy weapons and pay wages for the soldiers of fortune; and ultimately it is Washington, London and Paris that are calling the tactical shots in the NATO war plan on Syria.
As several other commentators have pointed out, this war plan is aimed at asserting Western capitalist hegemony in the oil-rich Middle East and Central Asia regions. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria are part of an overarching bid for “full-spectrum dominance” that will eventually target, overtly, Iran, Russia and China.
It is this crucial wider context of war-making by the waning capitalist powers that underscores the gravity of the military build-up inside and outside Syria. The dynamic for war has a compelling, nefarious logic – as the history of world wars testifies.
Which makes the Geneva “crisis conference” this weekend appear all the more ludicrous. In attendance are the US, Britain, France, Turkey and the Gulf Arab monarchical states of Kuwait and Qatar. All are professing to support a peaceful solution in Syria even though all the above are funnelling weapons, logistics and personnel to wage a brutal, terrorist assault on that country – an assault that has now led to the precipice of all-out regional war.
Also attending the UN conference are secretary general Ban Ki-moon and the UN/Arab League special envoy to Syria, Kofi Annan. The UN and the Arab League and these two figureheads in particular have shown themselves to be willing dupes to NATO’s war of aggression on Syria, and beyond, by indulging in the charade that the Western powers are “supporting peace” instead of denouncing them as “supporting war”. Significantly, the UN and Annan have not invited Iran to attend the conference as a result of US pressure. How provocative is that? Iran clearly has vital interests at stake given its proximity and geopolitical threats from the encroaching war on its Syrian ally.
The other ghost missing from the feast in Geneva this weekend is Saudi Arabia. The omission of Saudi Arabia should not be seen as some kind of consolation to Syrian and Iranian sensibilities, but rather as a way of shielding the House of Saud from embarrassment. Considering the incendiary role of Saudi Arabia in Syria, and possibly the region’s conflagration, the Saudi rulers should be summoned to a top seat at the “peace summit” – to face the most withering questions about their warmongering, criminal interference in a neighbouring state.
Then, using Nuremburg principles, prosecutors should proceed to arraign the rulers in Riyadh along with their accomplices in Washington, London, Paris and Ankara.
Finian Cunningham is Global Research’s Middle East and East Africa Correspondent
Voice of Russia
June 28, 2012
U.S. double standards crystal clear in Bahrain
[W]here are the calls from the U.S. and NATO for a “humanitarian intervention” or for regime change in Bahrain, a U.S. ally that hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet? Nowhere. However on May 9, 2012 Hillary Clinton met with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa and expressed that “much work remains to fully address ongoing human rights issues.” Where were statements like this in regard to Gadaffi or to Assad?
The entire Bahraini military, called the Bahraini Defense Force and numbering about 13,000, is equipped with U.S. hardware, everything from F-16s to Blackhawk helicopters, to Abrams tanks and even an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate. But the relationship does not end there, Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, giving them a base in Juffair, and has signed a cooperation agreement with the U.S. military.
Even in today’s world of instant messaging, the Internet, mobile and satellite communications and worldwide mass media, there are still places that exist where events take place unbeknownst to the rest of the planet. There exist countries that do not want the world to know what is going on within their borders or there exist countries that try to control the flow of information coming out of areas where their activities are not within the boundaries of what the civilized world would find as acceptable or appropriate.
Serbia and Kosovo are places where such a media blackout exists and those are places where I believe need more attention from the international community. Another is Bahrain.
Officially called the Kingdom of Bahrain, the country is a small island nation situated in the western part of the Persian Gulf and has a population of about 1,234,571 according to a 2010 census. The country ranks 42nd on the Human Development Index, it is also a member of the UN, the WTO, the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf.
Bahrain was caught up in what has become known as the Arab Spring on February 14th 2011 when protestors took to the streets demanding more political freedom and an improvement in the human rights situation in the country. Originally there was no threat to the monarchy nor were there calls for a regime change in the country. This all changed however on February 17th when police killed four protestors while attempting to clear the Pearl Roundabout in Manama, the central gathering place for most of the protests taking place in the country.
Since then the response and the crackdowns on peaceful and unarmed demonstrators by police and security forces has been described as brutal. Almost 3,000 people have been arrested and more than 70 have been killed, according to the acting president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Maryam Al-Khawaja, in an interview for the Voice of Russia ( http://english.ruvr.ru/2012_06_28/79576566/ ). There are also widespread reports of torture, beatings and the denial of medical assistance leading to death.
As with most of the Arab Spring countries there is an internal conflict between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. In Bahrain the majority of the population is comprised of Shiites although the Sunnis control most of the government sectors and politics. There are reports of widespread and institutionalized discrimination in employment, housing and other areas against the Shiites.
According to Ms. Al-Khawaja, there exists a media blackout in Bahrain. The most obvious and pervasive form being a system of filtering and blocking Internet sites that is implemented and executed by the Bahraini Information Affairs Authority (IAA) and which has a noticeable impact on the overall speed of Internet traffic for the country’s more than 250,000 Internet users. According to the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (BCHR) there are over 1,000 sites currently blocked in Bahrain including their own.
Bahrain has also seriously cracked down on bloggers and regularly arrests people for posting on Twitter and Facebook. Opposition groups views and opinions have no place in Bahraini media so they resort to the Internet. One such person, Nabeel Rajab, the president of the Bahrain Center for Human Rights (http://www.bahrainrights.org/en ), who I interviewed last September (http://english.ruvr.ru/2011/09/20/56438166.html) has been arrested twice and may have been tortured. During one arrest, according to the center, he was beaten and blindfolded and in his own words was threatened with rape and kicked when he refused to say he loved the prime minister.
The situation in the country is getting worse, with many experts saying that the situation may soon explode. According Ms. Al-Khawaja, part of the daily routine for many Bahraini citizens involves being tear gassed and trying to save their children from suffocating.
Human rights organizations all over the world have called for a halt to dozens of widespread abuses in the Kingdom. Some of the most notable being the following: Human Rights Watch has called on Bahrain’s High Court of Appeal to reject the use of confessions possibly obtained by torture. The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint program of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organization Against Torture (OMCT), wrote an open letter to the King of Bahrain to state its concerns about the arbitrary detention of Nabeel Rajad.
Amnesty International has issued many statements, in particular with regard to the persecution of medical personnel who were attempting to assist injured protestors. Human Rights First says the persecution of human rights workers is getting worse. The Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies stated in a report: “The human rights situation in Bahrain in 2011 witnessed unprecedented deterioration at almost all levels, especially in light of the repressive retaliatory action aimed at crushing the popular uprising which demanded far-reaching democratic reforms.” And the list goes on.
So where are the calls from the U.S. and NATO for a “humanitarian intervention” or for regime change in Bahrain, a U.S. ally that hosts the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet? Nowhere. However on May 9, 2012 Hillary Clinton met with Bahraini Crown Prince Salman Bin Hamad Al Khalifa and expressed that “much work remains to fully address ongoing human rights issues.” Where were statements like in regard to to Gadaffi or to Assad?
So with all of these reports, what does the U.S. do? They sell arms to the Bahraini government. In February of this year 18 representatives and 3 Senators, all of them from the Democratic Party, wrote a letter of protest to Clinton who in turn, did nothing.
There have been widespread reports that the security forces are using military-grade tear gas on protestors and gassing homes, killing civilians.
But that is just one of the lesser pieces of equipment and weaponry that the U.S. is selling Bahrain. The entire Bahraini military, called the Bahraini Defense Force and numbering about 13,000, is equipped with U.S. hardware, everything from F-16s to Blackhawk helicopters, to Abrams tanks and even an Oliver Hazard Perry class frigate. But the relationship does not end there, Bahrain hosts the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet, giving them a base in Juffair, and has signed a cooperation agreement with the U.S. military.
When speaking recently with regards to Syria, I think Russia’s plenipotentiary envoy for human rights affairs, Konstantin Dulgov, said it best: “Double standards in human rights are unacceptable and Russia and the majority of the international community reject that”.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter also recently stated something worth repeating with regard to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “The U.S. government’s policies are now clearly violating at least 10 of the declaration’s 30 articles, including the prohibition against ‘cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.’”
So there you go, another example of a double standard and complete hypocrisy from the only country in the world where its leader signs off on a daily kill list. Who shall we kill today?
June 28, 2012
3 in 4 Pakistanis now consider the US an “enemy”, resentment towards US grows
Approximately 3 in 4 Pakistanis now consider the US an enemy according to a new Pew research poll released on June 27th. The polls show increasing hostility towards the US and new lows in the already strained relationship between the two countries.
The Pew Research poll conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project has published stark numbers. The poll, entitled “Pakistani Public Opinion Ever More Critical of US”, says 74% of Pakistanis now view the US as an ‘enemy’ up from 69% last year, while support for President Barack Obama continues to be exceptionally low.
A majority of Pakistanis hold the view that Obama has been just as bad a president as George W. Bush was in his last year in office. Furthermore, approximately 4 in 10 Pakistanis believe that US military and financial aid is having a negative impact on their country; only 1 in 10 believes the impact has been positive.
Tensions have been extreme between the two countries due to unceasing US drone attacks inside Pakistani territory. Pakistan shut down a highly strategic NATO supply route through its territory into Afghanistan last November in response to a NATO air strike that killed 24 Pakistani troops on the Afghan border.
The US has argued that the air strikes are necessary to counter the insurgency movements in Afghanistan. However, resentment towards the tacit alliance with the US allowing the drone strikes has fueled a domestic insurgency in Pakistan, leading to broad outrage at the resulting loss of Pakistani life.
“Pakistan has lost somewhere between 5000 to 6000 soldiers and paramilitary soldiers, but more than that, we’ve lost more than 35,000 civilians, and these people died because of terrorist bombings,” Ahmed Quraishi, President of the Paknationalists forum, told RT in an interview.
However, Washington’s view differs, with many in the United States government seeing Pakistan as a willing recipient of US humanitarian aid and funding, but an uncooperative US partner in the region. In May, a US senate panel voted to cut aid to Pakistan if Islamabad did not re-open the NATO supply corridor in a frustrated attempt to resolve the months-long dispute.
“We’re not going to be giving money to an ally that won’t be an ally,” Senator Lindsey Graham, the panel’s top Republican, told reporters at the Senate vote.
However, there is division on how far Pakistani loyalty to US should extend, and the high cost that Pakistan is paying for allowing US aid.
“They want the Pakistanis to do the dirty work for us, and the Pakistanis have simply said ‘we supported you for 11 years, and we can’t do it anymore, you’re killing our stability.’ They have to stop the civil war in the country, they have to stop the war that’s going on in their own territory because of their helping the United States, so they have number of problems which I think amount to a mess, and they’re going to be left high and dry when we leave,” said SB Michael F. Scheuer, a former CIA intelligence officer.
“There is one mistake that we have committed we put all our eggs in the American basket,” Ahmed Quraishi continued. “And part of the deterioration of our strategic position of the past decade since 2001 is because of this fact, that we completely relied on the Americans…They’ve ditched us before as well, but we made this mistake, and we’re now trying to correct that mistake.”
June 27, 2012
NATO Expands Caucasus Presence As Broader War Looms
On the sidelines of the twentieth anniversary summit of the Organization of Black Sea Economic Cooperation in Istanbul, Turkey on June 26, Georgia’s President Mikheil Saakashvili met with his Turkish counterpart Abdullah Gul and, according to Trend News Agency of Azerbaijan, discussed “Issues of regional security and stability…”
The presidents also discussed regional – Transcaucasian and Trans-Caspian – energy and transportation projects engineered by the United States and several key NATO allies over the past twenty years.
President Gul also met with Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev to deliberate over, among other matters, the increasingly volatile situation on the borders of Azerbaijan and Armenia and Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, where over a dozen Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers have been killed in armed clashes this month.
The unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is supported by Armenia and although surrounded by Azerbaijan is near Armenia to its west and Iran to its south. The fact that deadly hostilities have of late not only occurred along Azerbaijan’s border with Nagorno-Karabakh but with Armenia directly is cause for particular concern.
Standing immediately behind Azerbaijan in any war to “reclaim” or “liberate” Nagorno-Karabakh, as Azeri officials from the president down constantly threaten, is its ethnic and linguistic cousin and main military ally Turkey. Having conducted ongoing armed incursions and air strikes inside Iraq against the Kurdistan Workers Party, branded a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and NATO, and actively preparing for the same against Syria (which is defending its own territory), there is no reason to believe that Ankara would sit on the sidelines if Azerbaijan attacked Nagorno-Karabakh and in so doing triggered a war with Armenia.
Armenia is, like Azerbaijan and Georgia, a NATO partner (all three are members of the Partnership for Peace program, have an Individual Partnership Action Plan and have deployed troops to Afghanistan under NATO command), but alone among the South Caucasus nations is also a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, Russia’s only security alliance in the former Soviet Union.
If a new and expanded conflict erupts between Armenia and Azerbaijan and Turkey backs the second and Russia the first, the threat of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia would be a possibility for the first time.
Three weeks ago Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited all three South Caucasus nations – Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia – and in the third country pledged American assistance in training the armed forces of the nation “to better monitor your coasts and your skies” and committed Washington to “helping Georgia give its officers the 21st century training they need for today’s changing missions.”
She also reiterated the U.S. and NATO contention that independent Abkhazia and South Ossetia (along with Nagorno-Karabakh and Transdniester the so-called frozen conflicts in former Soviet space) are part of Georgia and currently “occupied territories”; that is, occupied by Russia which has troops in both new nations.
In the aftermath of the five-day war between Georgia and Russia in August 2008 following Georgia’s armed assault on South Ossetia, Russian officials revealed that air and other bases in Georgian had been prepared for prospective attacks against Iran. Georgia’s military has been upgraded and transformed by the U.S. Marine Corps (and for a brief period before that by Green Beret U.S. Army special forces) over the past decade and 2,000 U.S.-trained Georgian troops served in Iraq and soon 1,700 will be in Afghanistan. The Pentagon has prepared the Georgian army for expeditionary operations in foreign theaters of war and, as President Saakashvili has repeatedly emphasized, made it a modernized, more battle-ready force for wars nearer home.
On June 25 Saakashvili asserted “we have real chances to become a NATO member” at the next summit of the military bloc, stating:
“The next summit will probably take place in 2014 and I think that Georgia will have a very good chance; I’ve never been so sure about it as I am now.”
After meeting with what NATO refers to as aspirant countries – Georgia, Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro – at the alliance summit last month, Hillary Clinton vowed that those states and perhaps others were candidates for full NATO membership, saying “I believe this summit should be the last summit that is not an enlargement summit.”
When Georgia joins NATO the latter will be in an immediate de facto state of conflict with Russia over Abkhazia and South Ossetia which, recall, in Clinton’s words are Russian-occupied parts of Georgia.
On June 22 NATO’s Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Transformation, Poland’s General Mieczyslaw Bieniek, visited Georgia for two days and according to the Georgian Ministry of Defence stated, “Georgia`s aspiration toward NATO has been once more confirmed at the Bucharest and Chicago summits and Georgia is making a lot of efforts on its way to NATO integration.”
Bieniek toured the host country’s National Defence Academy, lecturing students on the role of the U.S.-based Allied Command Transformation, and met with the defense attachés of NATO member states in Georgia.
Three days before 28 U.S. soldiers graduated from a course at the Sachkhere Mountain Training School, a NATO standard and NATO-supported institution. The graduation ceremony was attended by leading Georgian military officials and representatives of the NATO Liaison Office in Georgia. The latter was opened in October 2010 and its purpose is, as described by NATO, to “Provide advice and assistance to the Government of Georgia in support of civilian and military reform efforts required for NATO integration” and to “Conduct liaison with Georgian, NATO, Allied, and Partner Authorities to enhance cooperation and understanding in pursuit of the NATO/Georgia goal of Georgia becoming a full NATO member.”
According to a statement issued by the Georgian Defence Ministry last July, “Under PfP [Partnership for Peace] status the School will train military units of NATO and its partner countries’ armed forces.”
“In September the instructors of the Mountain Training School will conduct a mountain training basic summer course for military servicemen of NATO countries. The essential part of the course consists of practical exercises. Its aim is to provide soldiers with the basic mountain-technical skills and master them in operating under mountain circumstances. The exercise will be conducted in the English language…
“Under the schedule military servicemen from Poland, the Czech Republic, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia will undergo trainings in the Sachkhere Mountain Training School as well.”
NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow, a former National Security Council and Defense Department official and U.S. ambassador to NATO, is paying a two-day visit to Georgia on June 28-29, where he will meet with several major government officials, including the defense minister, interior minister and national security advisor as well as deliver a keynote speech at the Georgia Defence and Security Conference on June 29.
The South Caucasus, composed of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, borders Iran, Russia and Turkey and will not remain unaffected by military conflicts in the general region, nor will hostilities between states in the region not create the potential for far larger conflicts.
From Citizen of the World (1762)
All the great nations still nearly preserve their ancient limits; none have been able to subdue the other, and so terminate the dispute. France, in spite of the conquests of Edward the Third and Henry the Fifth, notwithstanding the efforts of Charles the Fifth and Philip the Second, still remains within its ancient limits. Spain, Germany, Great Britain, Poland, the states of the North, are nearly still the same. What effect then has the blood of so many thousands, the destruction of so many cities, produced? Nothing either great or considerable. The Christian princes have lost indeed much from the enemies of Christendom, but they have gained nothing from each other. Their princes, because they preferred ambition to justice, deserve the character of enemies to mankind; and their priests, neglecting morality for opinion, have mistaken the interests of society.
On whatever side we regard the history of Europe, we shall perceive it to be a tissue of crimes, follies, and misfortunes, of politics without design, and wars without consequence.
[C]ompacts for peace are drawn up with the utmost precision, and ratified with the greatest solemnity: to these each party promises a sincere and inviolable obedience, and all wear the appearance of open friendship and unreserved reconciliation. Yet, notwithstanding these treaties, the people of Europe are almost continually at war. There is nothing more easy than to break a treaty ratified in all the usual forms, and yet neither party be the aggressor. One side, for instance, breaks a trifling article by mistake; the opposite party, upon this, makes a small but premeditated reprisal; this brings on a return of greater from the other; both sides complain of injuries and infractions; war is declared; they beat; are beaten; some two or three hundred thousand men are killed; they grow tired; leave off just where they began; and so sit coolly down to make new treaties.
Stop NATO: Digest for June 20-27
U.S. Military Expansion In Africa Aimed At China
June 27, 2012
Audio: NATO And Syria, Not If But When?
June 26th, 2012
What’s Behind NATO Reaction To Downed Turkish Jet?
June 26, 2012
U.S. Expanding Bases To Contain China
June 26, 2012
NATO War Council To Target Syria
June 26, 2012
Pakistan and the Emerging Geo-Political Scenario
June 25, 2012
NATO: What’s In A Name?
June 25, 2012
Syria: A Precursor To War
June 25, 2012
Gulf Of Tonkin Redux?
June 23, 2012
Cold War Politics Redux
June 23, 2012
Open Letter on Saudi Arabia
June 22, 2012
NATO Expands Military Network To All Continents
June 22, 2012
Drug-Addled Burlesque Empire On Global Joyride
June 21, 2012
U.S. Remains In Gulf With Tens Of Thousands Of Troops
June 20, 2012
Syria Is West’s Way Station En Route To Iran And Russia
June 20, 2012
Interview: Why Does U.S. Provoke Russia?
June 20, 2012