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21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

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11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


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17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

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Comments in 2012 and 2011



The shaky grounds for state violence in the MidEast

This posting is primarily for those who follow what can be known by intelligence expertise, at which Israel claims to be a master. We cannot vouch for the truth of any of the claims but they are worth consideration:
1) WND: U.S. Military confirms rebels had sarin, the Turkish connection;
2) WND: Truth leaking out? Nerve gas points to rebels;
3) Craig Murray: The Troodos Conundrum, Britain’s spy station in Cyprus for MidEast surveillance;
4) AINA: Syrian Rebels Got Sarin Nerve Gas From Turkey – Report;
5) Times of Israel: US is ‘floundering’ over Syria, says ex-Mossad chief, Israel really wanted Assad overthrown;

Child victims of sarin attack, Damascus, released by US government

U.S. Military confirms rebels had sarin

Classified document shows deadly weapon found in home of arrested Islamists

By F. Michael Maloof, (American, right-wing*)
September 09, 2013

As part of the Obama administration’s repeated insistence – though without offering proof – that the recent sarin gas attack near Damascus was the work of the Assad regime, the administration has downplayed or denied the possibility that al-Qaida-linked Syrian rebels could produce deadly chemical weapons.

However, in a classified document just obtained by WND, the U.S. military confirms that sarin was confiscated earlier this year from members of the Jabhat al-Nusra Front, the most influential of the rebel Islamists fighting in Syria.

The document says sarin from al-Qaida in Iraq made its way into Turkey and that while some was seized, more could have been used in an attack last March on civilians and Syrian military soldiers in Aleppo.

The document, classified Secret/Noforn – “Not for foreign distribution” – came from the U.S. intelligence community’s National Ground Intelligence Center, or NGIC, and was made available to WND Tuesday.

It revealed that AQI had produced a “bench-scale” form of sarin in Iraq and then transferred it to Turkey.

A U.S. military source said there were a number of interrogations as well as some clan reports as part of what the document said were “50 general indicators to monitor progress and characterize the state of the ANF/AQI-associated Sarin chemical warfare agent developing effort.”

“This (document) depicts our assessment of the status of effort at its peak – primarily research and procurement activities – when disrupted in late May 2013 with the arrest of several key individuals in Iraq and Turkey,” the document said.

“Future reporting of indicators not previously observed would suggest that the effort continues to advance despite the arrests,” the NGIC document said.

The May 2013 seizure occurred when Turkish security forces discovered a two-kilogram cylinder with sarin gas while searching homes of Syrian militants from the al-Qaida-linked Jabhat al-Nusra Front following their initial detention.

The sarin gas was found in the homes of suspected Syrian Islamic radicals detained in the southern provinces of Adana and Mersia.

Some 12 suspected members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested. At the time, they were described by Turkish special anti-terror forces as the “most aggressive and successful arm” of the Syrian rebels.

In the seizure, Turkish anti-terror police also found a cache of weapons, documents and digital data.

At the time of the arrest, the Russians called for a thorough investigation of the detained Syrian militants found in possession of sarin gas.

This seizure followed a chemical weapons attack in March on the Khan al-Assal area of rural Aleppo, Syria. In that attack, some 26 people and Syrian government forces were killed by what was determined to be sarin gas, delivered by a rocket attack.

The Syrian government called for an investigation by the United Nations. Damascus claimed al-Qaida fighters were behind the attack, also alleging that Turkey was involved.

“The rocket came from a place controlled by the terrorists and which is located close to the Turkish territory,” according to a statement from Damascus. “One can assume that the weapon came from Turkey.”

The report of the U.S. intelligence community’s NGIC reinforces a preliminary U.N. investigation of the attack in Aleppo which said the evidence pointed to Syrian rebels.

It also appears to bolster allegations in a 100-page report on an investigation turned over to the U.N. by Russia. The report concluded the Syrian rebels – not the Syrian government – had used the nerve agent sarin in the March chemical weapons attack in Aleppo.

While the contents of the report have yet to be released, sources tell WND the documentation indicates that deadly sarin poison gas was manufactured in a Sunni-controlled region of Iraq and then transported to Turkey for use by the Syrian opposition, whose ranks have swelled with members of al-Qaida and affiliated groups.

The documentation that the U.N. received from the Russians indicated specifically that the sarin gas was supplied to Sunni foreign fighters by a Saddam-era general working under the outlawed Iraqi Baath party leader, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.

Al-Douri was a top aide to Saddam Hussein before he was deposed as Iraqi president.

The sarin nerve gas used in the Allepo attack, sources say, had been prepared by former Iraqi Military Industries Brig. Gen. Adnan al-Dulaimi. It then was supplied to Baath-affiliated foreign fighters of the Sunni and Saudi Arabian-backed al-Nusra Front in Aleppo, with Turkey’s cooperation, through the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province.

The source who brought out the documentation now in the hands of the U.N. is said to have been an aide to al-Douri.

Al-Dulaimi was a major player in Saddam’s chemical weapons production projects, the former aide said. Moreover, Al-Dulaimi has been working in the Sunni-controlled region of northwestern Iraq where the outlawed Baath party now is located and produces the sarin.

The NGIC depiction of the variety of sarin as “bench-scale” reinforces an analysis by terrorism expert Yossef Bodansky**, who said the recent findings on the chemical weapons attack of Aug. 21 on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, was “indeed a self-inflicted attack” by the Syrian opposition to provoke U.S. and military intervention in Syria.

Bodansky, a former director of the U.S. Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, said a preliminary analysis of the sarin showed that it was of a “kitchen” variety and not military grade.

He questioned that the sarin was of a military variety, which accumulates around victims’ hair and loose clothing.

Because these molecules become detached and released with any movement, Bodansky said, “they would have thus killed or injured the first responders who touched the victims’ bodies without protective clothes … and masks.”

Various videos of the incident clearly show first responders going from patient to patient without protective clothing administering first aid to the victims. There were no reports of casualties among the first responders.

“This strongly indicates that the agent in question was the slow acting ‘kitchen sarin,’” Bodansky said.

“Indeed, other descriptions of injuries treated by MSF (The French group Doctors Without Borders) – suffocation, foaming, vomiting and diarrhea – agree with the effects of diluted, late-action drops of liquefied Sarin,” he said.

The terrorism expert said that the jihadist movement has technologies which have been confirmed in captured jihadist labs in both Turkey and Iraq, as well as from the wealth of data recovered from al-Qaida in Afghanistan in 2001 and 2002.

He added that the projectiles shown by the opposition, which were tested by U.N. inspectors, are not standard weapons of the Syrian army.

Meanwhile, an Italian former journalist and a Belgian researcher who were recently freed from their al-Nusra captives say they overheard their captors talking about their involvement in a deadly chemical attack “last month,” which would have been the Aug. 21 chemical weapons attack.

The Italian, Domenico Quirico, and Belgian researcher Pierre Piccinin were released Monday after five months of captivity.

“The government of Bashar al-Assad did not use Sarin gas or other types of gas in the outskirts of Damascus,” Piccinin said.

While captive, Piccinin said the two had overheard a Skype conversation in English among three people.

“The conversation was based on real facts,” said Quirico, claiming one of the three people in the alleged conversation identified himself as a Free Syrian Army general.

He added that the militants said the rebels carried out the attack as a provocation to force the West to intervene militarily to oust the Assad regime.

Both men told a news conference they had no access to the outside world while they were held captive and knew nothing about the use of chemical weapons until they heard the discussion on Skype.

Now, a former analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency, Ray McGovern, similarly backs the claim that the Syrian rebels perpetrated the poison gas attack on Aug. 21

McGovern was one of a number of veteran intelligence professionals who recently signed a letter to Obama saying that Damascus wasn’t behind the Aug. 21 chemical attack.

RAF Troodos signals station in the background, see item 3

As WND recently reported, former U.S. intelligence analysts claim current intelligence analysts have told them Assad was not responsible for the Aug. 21 poison gas attack, saying there was a “growing body of evidence” that reveals the incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition.

The analysts, in an open letter to Obama, referred to a meeting a week before the Aug. 21 incident in which opposition military commanders ordered preparations for an “imminent escalation” due to a “war-changing development” that would be followed by the U.S.-led bombing of Syria. They said the growing body of evidence came mostly from sources affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters.

Those reports, they said, revealed that canisters containing chemical agents were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened.

“Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army and their foreign sponsors,” the analysts said.

The VIPS memo to Obama reinforces separate videos, which show foreign fighters associated with the Syrian opposition firing artillery canisters of poison gas. One video shows Nadee Baloosh, a member of an al-Qaida-affiliated group Rioyadh al-Abdeen, admitting to the use of chemical weapons.

In the video clip, al-Abdeen, who is in the Latakia area of Syria, said his forces used “chemicals which produce lethal and deadly gases that I possess.”

Other on-scene reports have raised doubts about the certainty of the U.S. “Government Assessment” blaming the Syrian government. For instance, an article by MintPress News — based on interviews with people in Damascus and Ghouta — presented evidence that “the U.S. and its allies may be targeting the wrong culprit. ”

“[F]rom numerous interviews with doctors, Ghouta residents, rebel fighters and their families … many believe that certain rebels received chemical weapons via the Saudi intelligence chief, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, and were responsible for carrying out the … gas attack.”

The article also cited comments by rebel-connected Ghouta residents indicating that the release of the poison gas may have resulted from a conventional artillery strike by government forces accidentally hitting a rebel storage site for chemical weapons or from careless rebel handling of the dangerous material.

One intelligence source following the Syrian conflict told me that some U.S. analysts believe that the Syrian rebels do possess chemical weapons, possibly obtained with the help of Saudi intelligence which has been providing much of the military equipment and money for the rebels, including some of the most radical Islamist elements.

Given these various accounts — and the Syrian government’s acceptance of Russian demands that it surrender its chemical weapons — the United States may want to make a similar demand of the rebels. At least, the Obama administration might clarify what its own intelligence files contain about rebel possession of chemical weapons.

Truth leaking out? Nerve gas points to rebels

Former U.S. analysts claim Obama getting duped on Syria

By F. Michael Maloof, WND
September 07, 2013

Former U.S. intelligence analysts claim current intelligence analysts have told them Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was not responsible for the Aug. 21 poison gas attack on the outskirts of Damascus, Syria, which killed 1,429 people, of whom more than 400 were children.

They claim the “growing body of evidence” reveals the incident was a pre-planned provocation by the Syrian opposition and its Saudi and Turkish supporters.

“The aim is reported to have been to create the kind of incident that would bring the United States into the war,” one former U.S. intelligence analysts said.

The analysts referred to a meeting a week before the Aug. 21 incident in which opposition military commanders ordered preparations for an “imminent escalation” due to a “war-changing development” that would be followed by the “U.S.-led bombing of Syria.”

In addition, the former U.S. analysts said that Israel welcomed limited U.S. military action but not so much that it would strengthen rebel groups, which are “increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis.”

In an open memorandum to U.S. President Barack Obama, who is contemplating a strike on Syria’s military in response to this incident, members of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, or VIPS, said that even British officials are aware that it wasn’t al-Assad who committed the atrocity.

The British Parliament recently voted not to engage British military forces, even though British Prime Minister David Cameron sought such an endorsement in support of the Obama administration.

Following the vote, Cameron said there would be no British participation in any military action against the Syrian government.

The veteran former U.S. intelligence analysts who remain in contact with current U.S. intelligence officials said they believe Obama wasn’t informed in order to preserve “plausible denial.”

Formed in January 2003, VIPS is a group of current and former U.S. intelligence community officials. Members include analysts from CIA, the State Department’s Intelligence Bureau, or INR, and the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Those signing the memorandum were Thomas Drake, former senior executive of the National Security Agency; Philip Giraldi, retired Central Intelligence Agency officer; Matthew Hoh, former Marine Corps captain with experience in Iraq and Afghanistan; Larry Johnson, retired CIA and State Department official; W. Patrick Lang, former senior executive and Defense Intelligence Officer; David MacMichael, who was on the National Intelligence Council; and Ray McGovern, former U.S. Army infantry intelligence office and CIA analyst.

Other signers of the memo were Elizabeth Murray, former deputy national intelligence officer; Todd Pierce, former U.S. Army judge advocate; Sam Provance, former sergeant, U.S. Army in Iraq; Coleen Rowley, former Division Council and FBI special agent; and Ann Write, retired U.S. Army colonel and foreign service officer.

The memorandum, with a subject line titled “Is Syria a Trap?” pointed out that the weight of the Obama’s evidence is reminiscent of intelligence used by then-Secretary of State Colin Powell in a Feb. 5, 2003, speech before the United Nations, in which he “peddled fraudulent intelligence” – according to the memo – to support the March 18, 2003, U.S. military attack on Iraq for its weapons of mass destruction.

“Then, also, we chose to give President (George W.) Bush the benefit of the doubt, thinking he was being misled – or, at the least, very poorly advised,” the analysts said.

“Our sources confirm that a chemical incident of some sort did cause fatalities and injuries on Aug. 21 in a suburb of Damascus,” the analysts said, suggesting that they maintain contact with current U.S. intelligence community analysts. “They insist, however, that the incident was not the result of an attack by the Syrian Army using military-grade chemical weapons from its arsenal.”

In an apparent direct attack on CIA Director John Brennan, the former high-ranking analysts said that he was “perpetrating a pre-Iraq-War-type fraud on members of Congress, the media, the public – and perhaps even you,” referring to Obama.

“We have observed John Brennan closely over recent years, and, sadly, we find what our former colleagues are now telling us easy to believe,” the memo said.

“Sadder still,” it said, “this goes in spades for those of us who have worked with him personally; we give him zero credence. And that goes, as well, for his titular boss, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who has admitted he gave ‘clearly erroneous’ sworn testimony to Congress denying NSA eavesdropping on Americans.”

In claiming that the Aug. 21 chemical weapons incident was a provocation of the Syrian opposition, the former U.S. analysts said that the growing body of evidence came mostly from sources affiliated with the Syrian opposition and its supporters.

They said that these reports revealed that canisters containing chemical agents were brought into a suburb of Damascus, where they were then opened.

“We are unaware of any reliable evidence that a Syrian military rocket capable of carrying a chemical agent was fired into the area,” the analysts said. “In fact, we are aware of no reliable physical evidence to support the claim that this was a result of a strike by a Syrian military unit with expertise in chemical weapons.

“In addition, we have learned that on August 13-14, 2013, Western-sponsored opposition forces in Turkey started advance preparations for a major, irregular military surge,” the analysts said.

“Initial meetings between senior opposition military commanders and Qatari, Turkish and U.S. intelligence officials took place at the converted Turkish military garrison in Antakya, Hatay Province, now used as the command center and headquarters of the Free Syrian Army and their foreign sponsors.”

The analysts claimed that senior opposition commanders who came from Istanbul pre-briefed the regional commanders on an “imminent escalation in the fighting due to ‘a war-changing development,’ which, in turn, would lead to a U.S.-led bombing of Syria.”

The analysts said that the opposition leaders then were ordered to prepare their forces to “exploit the U.S. bombing” and march into Damascus to remove the al-Assad government.

The Obama administration refuses to admit that the Syrian opposition possesses or has the capability of delivering chemical weapons.

The VIPS memo to Obama reinforces separate videos, which show foreign fighters associated with the Syrian opposition firing artillery canisters of poison gas. One video shows Nadeem Baloosh, a member of an al-Qaida-affiliated group Riyadh al-Abdeen, admitting to the use of chemical weapons.

In the video clip, al-Abdeen, who is in the Latakia area of Syria, said that his forces used “chemicals which produce lethal and deadly gases that I possess.” He added that they decided to use them against women and children.

As WND recently reported, a 100-page report on an investigation turned over to the U.N. by Russia concludes that the Syrian rebels – not the Syrian government – used the nerve agent Sarin in an attack in the Syrian city of Aleppo last March.

Sources familiar with the content of the documentation said that deadly Sarin gas was manufactured in a Sunni-controlled region of Iraq and then transported to Turkey for use by the Syrian opposition, whose ranks have swelled with members of al-Qaida-affiliated groups.

The documentation is said to have pointed specifically to a Saddam-era general working under the outlawed Iraqi Ba’ath party leader, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri.

Al-Douri was a top aide to Saddam Hussein before he was deposed as president.

The general, Adnan al-Dulaimi, then supplied the Sarin to Ba’ath-affiliated foreign fighters of the Sunni and Saudi Arabian-backed Jabhat al-Nusra Front in Aleppo, with Turkey’s cooperation through the Turkish town of Antakya in Hatay Province.

The analysts suggested that the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has every reason to get Washington involved in another war in the Middle East region.

“But with outspoken urging coming from Israel and those Americans who lobby for Israeli interests, this priority Israeli objective is becoming crystal clear,” the former intelligence analysts said.

They referred to a New York Times article that addressed Israeli motivation.

“For Jerusalem, the status quo, horrific as it may be from a humanitarian perspective, seems preferable to either a victory by Mr. Assad’s government and his Iranian backers or a strengthening of rebel groups, increasingly dominated by Sunni jihadis,” the Times article said.

“This is a playoff situation in which you need both teams to lose, but at least you don’t want one to win – we’ll settle for a tie,” the Times quoted Alon Pinkas, a former Israeli consul general in New York, as saying. “Let them both bleed, hemorrhage to death. That’s the strategic thinking here. As long as this lingers, there’s no real threat from Syria.”

The former U.S. analysts said that in looking this way, the Israelis believe that U.S. military intervention will insure that there is “no early resolution of the conflict in Syria. The longer Sunni and Shia are at each other’s throats in Syria and in the wider region, the safer Israel calculates that it is.”

F. Michael Maloof, senior staff writer for the WND/ G2Bulletin, is a former security policy analyst in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. He can be contacted at

The Troodos Conundrum

By Craig Murray,
August 31, 2013

The GCHQ listening post on Mount Troodos in Cyprus is arguably the most valued asset which the UK contributes to UK/US intelligence cooperation. The communications intercept agencies, GCHQ in the UK and NSA in the US, share all their intelligence reports (as do the CIA and MI6). Troodos is valued enormously by the NSA. It monitors all radio, satellite and microwave traffic across the Middle East, ranging from Egypt and Eastern Libya right through to the Caucasus. Even almost all landline telephone communication in this region is routed through microwave links at some stage, picked up on Troodos.

Troodos is highly effective – the jewel in the crown of British intelligence. Its capacity and efficiency, as well as its reach, is staggering. The US do not have their own comparable facility for the Middle East. I should state that I have actually been inside all of this facility and been fully briefed on its operations and capabilities, while I was head of the FCO Cyprus Section in the early 1990s. This is fact, not speculation.

It is therefore very strange, to say the least, that John Kerry claims to have access to communications intercepts of Syrian military and officials organising chemical weapons attacks, which intercepts were not available to the British Joint Intelligence Committee.

On one level the explanation is simple. The intercept evidence was provided to the USA by Mossad, according to my own well placed source in the Washington intelligence community. Intelligence provided by a third party is not automatically shared with the UK, and indeed Israel specifies it should not be.

But the inescapable question is this. Mossad have nothing comparable to the Troodos operation. The reported content of the conversations fits exactly with key tasking for Troodos, and would have tripped all the triggers. How can Troodos have missed this if Mossad got it? The only remote possibility is that all the conversations went on a purely landline route, on which Mossad have a physical wire tap, but that is very unlikely in a number of ways – not least nowadays the purely landline route.

Israel has repeatedly been involved in the Syrian civil war, carrying out a number of illegal bombings and missile strikes over many months. This absolutely illegal activity by Israel- which has killed a great many civilians, including children – has brought no condemnation at all from the West. Israel has now provided “intelligence” to the United States designed to allow the United States to join in with Israel’s bombing and missile campaign.

The answer to the Troodos Conundrum is simple. Troodos did not pick up the intercepts because they do not exist. Mossad fabricated them. John Kerry’s “evidence” is the shabbiest of tricks. More children may now be blown to pieces by massive American missile blasts. It is nothing to do with humanitarian intervention. It is, yet again, the USA acting at the behest of Israel.

Syrian Rebels Got Sarin Nerve Gas From Turkey – Report

By Olga Haldyz, AINA
September 20, 2013

A number of circumstantial evidence that the chemical weapons attack, considered to be the main reason for a military operation in Syria, was carried out by the Syrian opposition is growing. The US army is reported to have confirmed that nerve gas sarin is in al-Qaeda hands now. It was transported to al-Qaeda through the Turkish territory, and the amount seized during an operation in Adana is just a small part of chemical weapons stored. This information may put Erdoğan, who continues blaming Assad, in a difficult position.

Former Pentagon official Michael Maloof wrote in his column on the WND News website that he had obtained a report, confirming that al-Qaeda possesses chemical weapons and uses them. The data in the report contradict insistent statements made by US President Barack Obama that the Assad regime is responsible for the use of chemical weapons.

According to Maloof, the report was prepared by the US army intelligence and he got hold of it via channels in the National Intelligence Center.

The report says that al-Qaeda possesses sarin nerve gas, used for producing chemical weapons, and that it was delivered by the al-Qaeda-linked Salafist group. It was transported through the Turkish territory to the al-Nusra Front which is al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria.

Two kilograms of sarin nerve agent, found in Adana and Mersin in May this year during the raids on houses where al-Nusra Front terrorists were hiding, had also been sent by the Iraqi affiliate of al-Qaeda.

The US intelligence report says that al-Qaeda tried to produce chemical weapons despite the operation in Turkey. At the same time, a source in US military circles, underlined that “al-Qaeda’s activity in this direction was heavily defeated due to arrests and operations in Iraq and Turkey in May 2013”.

The report also says the al-Nusra Front may have used only part of sarin during the chemical attack against the civilian population and the Syrian army in Aleppo in March this year. Besides, Maloof reports that chemical weapons were used by rebel forces, not the government army.

Maloof, answering questions of RT, the Russian television network, said the report had been prepared in August. Maloof’s source claimed that al-Qaeda is getting financial assistance from a Saudi Arabia citizen bur refused to say his name.

Answering an RT correspondent’s question, why the US, in spite of all the evidence doesn’t go into war with its principal enemy, al-Qaeda, Maloof said the US didn’t want to get stuck in the Middle East crisis further more and that a military operation would influence greatly US foreign policy.

The report marks the following questions as the most important: why were 12 al-Nusra Front members, arrested in Adana, were released? How did al-Qaeda manage to deliver sarin to the Turkish territory, without being noticed? And how was it transported to Syria?

All these questions may put Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in quite a difficult position as at first he had accused Bashar al-Assad of the chemical weapons attack in Eastern Ghouta and then, as the number of evidence against the opposition was growing, slightly changed his statements saying that although Assad didn’t use chemical weapons, he still killed 100,000 people.

Shabtai Shavit, former head of Israel’s overseas intelligence service

US is ‘floundering’ over Syria, says ex-Mossad chief

Russia’s proposal makes Assad’s ouster less likely, to Israel’s detriment, says Shabtai Shavit; attacks like 9/11 won’t recur, thanks to Western vigilance

By Elhanan Miller, Times of Israel
September 12, 2013

Russia’s proposal to remove Syria’s chemical weapons has driven the prospect of Bashar Assad’s ouster further away, to Israel’s detriment, the former head of the Mossad told The Times of Israel in an exclusive interview.

Shabtai Shavit, who served at the helm of Israel’s overseas intelligence service from 1989 to 1996, accused the administration of President Barack Obama of “floundering” over Syria. He noted witheringly that the US had “balked” at firing “half a dozen Tomahawk missiles” at the Syrian regime in the wake of the August 21 alleged chemical weapons attack by Assad, that the US says killed 1,429 Syrians.

Replacing the Assad regime was a clear Israeli interest, he said, as it would significantly weaken Hezbollah, leaving Israel to confront Iran without its regional proxy.

Israel’s biggest gain in any action involving Syria would be to break the “axis of evil” between Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah, Shavit added in the rare interview Wednesday, on the sidelines of the World Summit on Counter Terrorism at Herzliya’s International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT) which he chairs.

‘On Iran, Israel stands alone’
Echoing comments by Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday and by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, Shavit said that Israel will likely have to face the Iranian threat on its own.

Economic sanctions could cause Iran to halt its nuclear program if the pressure is strong enough to “strangle” the Iranian economy, he said, but added that it is doubtful whether the international community will impose such harsh sanctions. The military alternative seems less likely than before in light of the Obama administration’s reluctance to act decisively on Syria.

“The US balks at launching half a dozen Tomahawk missiles at Syria,” he said. Such “floundering,” he added, has caused Washington “to lose prestige,” he said. “No one [in the world] wants to wage wars that don’t directly concern them. Will Europe go to war with Iran?”

“We [in Israel] will have to decide on our own strategy … since the world will not recognize the Iranian threat as a global threat, [viewing it] only as one directed at Israel. If we stand alone, we have to weigh the pros and cons.”

Could Israel conceivably allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons? Shavit did not rule out that possibility — but only in a different Iran. ”In a scenario where Iran changes from [a leadership] of Muslim fanatics to a civil society, we can decide that ‘OK, it’s not worth going to war over.’ Why? because a civil society decides differently than fanatical Muslim leaders whose duty in life is to annihilate you.”

The Russian deal: Good for Assad, bad for Israel
Russia’s proposal to strip Syria of its chemical weapons, gradually morphing into international policy, worried Shavit. The plan demonstrates President Vladimir Putin’s “mastery of realpolitik,” he said, giving Obama a much-coveted “ladder” to withdraw his threat of force against Syria.

“It seems to me that a deal is being hatched between Russia, the US and Bashar Assad … Syria announced that it is willing to destroy its chemical weapons or remove them from Syrian territory. The world can indeed arrange that without much effort.”

Shavit described such a scenario as a win-win situation for the three parties involved.

“The United States gets off the hook, Russia will have strengthened its standing in Syria, and Assad remains in power, albeit weakened. What happens next? That question remains open.”

Such an outcome, he stressed however, “is not good for Israel.”

Unlike the moralistic tone used by Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni in Wednesday’s call for international intervention in Syria, Shavit’s argumentation remains strictly practical.

“Israel’s biggest gain, a strategic gain, [would be if] the axis of evil between Iran, Syria and Hezbollah is broken. That would inevitably weaken Hezbollah and leave us alone to confront Iran. It would mean Iran minus a [military] division; since Hezbollah is effectively an Iranian division.”

‘A Kurdish secession in Syria would be good for Israel’
The prospect of an independent or autonomous Kurdish state splintering from the central government in Damascus — as in Iraq — would be good for Israel, Shavit opined, but quickly added that such a state will never come to be due to the objection of two regional powers, Iran and Turkey, which would actively oppose such a move.

“The reason this will not happen is not only that Syria will have to pay a territorial price for this [Kurdish] state, but that a Kurdish state will demand territories under the control of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Former Soviet Republics. The emergence of an independent Kurdish state would entail a price that the surrounding countries will not be willing to pay.”

It is for good reason that the Autonomous Kurdish Region in northern Iraq has not unilaterally declared statehood, he said. ”If the Kurds unilaterally declare independence, no one will come to their aid.”

‘An attack like 9/11 cannot repeat itself today
The United States and Europe are far more prepared to confront terrorism since the attacks against the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in September 2001, Shavit said.

“I do not believe that global terrorism can execute an operation on the scale of the 9/11 attacks,” he said. “Many things have changed in the United States, Europe, and the rest of the free world, both with regards to preventative and defensive measures and with regards to the development of offensive counter-terrorism doctrines.”

Following 9/11, Shavit founded Athena, a company which advises countries on issues of homeland security, intelligence gathering, and counter-terrorism. He maintains the position of CEO in the company.

If international terrorist groups were free to plan and execute attacks before 9/11, today they invest over 50 percent of their time worrying about their own survival, he claimed.

“The fact of the matter is that since 9/11 they haven’t repeated an attack of similar magnitude, and it’s not for lack of trying.”

Notes and links
*WND – World net daily
from Wikipedia
WorldNetDaily (WND) is an American web site that publishes news and associated content from the perspective of U.S. conservatives and the political right.It was founded in May 1997 by Joseph Farah with the stated intent of “exposing wrongdoing, corruption and abuse of power” and is headquartered in Washington, D.C.

** Yossef Bodansky (born in Israel) is an Israeli-American political scientist who served as Director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare of the US House of Representatives from 1988 to 2004.He is also Director of Research of the International Strategic Studies Association and has been a visiting scholar at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). In the 1980s, he served as a senior consultant for the Department of Defense and the Department of State.

The work of the Congressional Task Force (which had been established in 1981) involved staff producing what they described as “ground truth” by “repeated visits to the areas they were studying and [developing] face-to-face relationships with their sources” and actively participated in supporting them. From Wikipedia

AINA: Assyrian National News Agency
From Wikipedia

The Assyrian International News Agency is a privately funded, independent news agency which provides news and analysis on Assyrian and Assyrian-related issues. It was founded by Peter BetBasoo and Firas Jatou in 1995.
The web site is registered to an address in Chicago, Illinois, belonging to Nineveh Software Corporation.

German Report That Israel’s NSA Affirms Syria Government Responsibility for Chemical Attacks
Richard Silverstein, August 26th 2013: I am as skeptical as the next guy about reports like this for obvious reasons. But that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be taken seriously. The German weekly, Focus, is reporting  that a “former Mossad officer” tells them that IDF Unit 8200 (Israel’s NSA) has intercepted Syrian government communications that confirms Assad’s responsibility for the recent chemical gas attack on a Damascus suburb that left more than 1,000 civilians, including many children, dead.

On Focus‘ bona fides: a German Twitter follower responded to my question about its editorial affiliation that it is “right-wing, neo-liberal, and superficial.” Given that, I think we have to exercise caution in crediting the story as true.

Yediot has now reported and confirmed the story as well. It says that three senior Israeli military-intelligence officers are currently in Washington briefing their U.S. counterparts on the Unit 8200 intercepts. The paper also claims that the primary evidence the west is using on which to base its charges of Syria government responsibility is the IDF secret intercepts. This makes me nervous for several reasons: one, because IDF claims are notoriously unreliable. This brings to mind the Mossad’s notoriously biased “evidence” offered regularly to the IAEA to “prove” Iran’s intent to develop nuclear weapons. Two, it makes me wonder what Israel’s ulterior motives may be in weighing in like this.Click headline link to read more

UK intelligence assessment on Syria under analysis, BBC, Gordon Corera, 29th August.
Writing on Israel’s push for an attack on Syria, Max Blumenthal wrote that in April 2013, the head of the Israeli army’s Military Intelligence research and analysis division, Brig. Gen. Itai Brun, said in a lecture at the US’s Institute for National Security Studies. “To the best of our professional understanding, the [Syrian] regime has used lethal chemical weapons,” referring to March 19 attacks near Damascus and Aleppo. The White House then demanded that Kerry verify this with Israel and supply more conclusive evidence. “I don’t know yet what the facts are,” Kerry said after a phone call with Netanyahu, “I don’t think anybody knows what they are.”

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