Iran Releases Both Brit Tankers, Then Releases Video of Iranian Special Forces Boarding Stena Impero

MARINETRAFFIC.COM shows Stena Impero tanker currently underway, doing “13.9kn”, heading towards Saudi Arabia just as fast as it can go.

Position Received:  UTC
Vessel’s Time Zone: UTC +4
Area: AG – Persian Gulf
Latitude / Longitude: 26.76833° / 56.28255°
Status: Underway Using Engine
Speed/Course: 13.9kn / 308°
AIS Source: 5019 EIGHTH PETROLEUM

The other vessel, which Iran allegedly seized, the “Mesdar”, a.k.a., DAMMAM ANCH, is safeanchored offshore at Dammam, Saudi Arabia.

[Immediately preceding these two incidents, news reports from the Middle East claimed that the Panamanian-flagged tanker “RIAH” was allegedly stopped by Iranian forces…the latest MARINETRAFFIC.COM snapshot shows it moving at “2kn” off the coast of Iran, with no future course listed on site.]

Panama cites ‘deliberate violations’ as it disowns UAE-based tanker seized by Iran

Panama cites ‘deliberate violations’ as it disowns UAE-based tanker seized by Iran

Panama’s Maritime Authority on Saturday announced that it initiated the process of withdrawing its flag from the Emirati-based tanker Riah, which vanished south of Iran’s Larak Island.

In a statement cited by Reuters, the authority said that its own investigation into the tanker’s disappearance had found that it “deliberately violated international regulations” by failing to report an unusual situation, presumably its seizure by the Iranian Navy. The authority also condemned the use of Panama-registered vessels for “illicit activities” without ascribing any such specific activity to the Riah.

The tanker went missing from radar screens shortly before midnight last Saturday, when its tracking signal abruptly blinked out. On Tuesday, the Iranian news agency ISNA reported, citing the Iranian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that the Iranian forces came to a foreign tanker’s rescue after it sent a distress signal. While the name of the tanker was not revealed at the time, the vessel was presumed to be the Riah.

ALSO ON RT.COMTehran: Oil tanker broke down in Persian Gulf, towed by Iran forces for repairsHowever, two days later, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps released footage showing the seizure of the ship with ‘Riah’ and “PANAMA” written on its hull, while accusing the vessel of smuggling fuel.

‘Smuggling fuel’: Iran state TV shows VIDEO of seized tanker days after UAE-based vessel vanishes

Semi-official news agency Fars reported at the time that the Iranian Navy had towed the tanker to the shore upon receiving a distress signal and discovered a haul of petroleum products, allegedly smuggled from Iran, after boarding the ship.

Despite airing the footage, Tehran has never acknowledged that the seized vessel was the Emirati-based Riah.

Other murky circumstances in the story have still not been clarified. While it has been widely reported that the Riah made frequent trips between different emirates of the UAE, that country has distanced itself from the ship.

“The tanker in question is neither UAE owned nor operated,” a UAE official told Emirates News Agency earlier this week.

There is also uncertainty over whether the ship asked for help, with the same official saying it “did not emit a distress call.”

At the moment, it’s still unclear who owns and operates the tanker. The Equasis maritime database shows the Riah’s last known owner as UAE-registered RIAH Shipping & Trading Inc., which appears to be based in Singapore.

Kurd/ ISIS Symbiosis – The Impending Destruction of Turkey

[SEE:  Imperial Plan To Use Civil War As Gas and Oil Valve–PART II]

Kurd/ ISIS Symbiosis – The Impending Destruction of Turkey.

What about this relationship between ISIS and the Kurds? (not brand Yazidi specific)

It’s seems to be a real working relationship. I have remarked on that symbiosis, more then once here at the blog. And elsewhere too! 

FWIW: I believe the Kurdish Pashmerga and ISIS to be joined at the hip to the American/Israeli evil twins.

It seems much more likely that there is cooperation and coordination between the Kurds and ISIS. It’s a thought that has been in the back of my mind for sometime now. When one takes a look at the land grabbed by ISIS and the desired Kurdistan one can’t help but see something taking shape. Something like a new nation.

Back in August 2014- ISIS took Mosul and then the Kurds took it back, including that all important dam!

The Kurds also kicked ISIS to the curb in Sinjar. Allegedly.

I wrote about the whole Sinjar situation at the time it occurred —The Yazidi genocide narrative strains credulity- No fly zone by stealth

 I’m going to be straight up- The Yazidi narrative? I don’t find it credible. I find it convenient. But, not credible. 
*Why on earth would the Yazidi’s who are Kurds, however that is defined, head up to some mountain top on the border of Syria, when Kurdish territory is heavily guarded and virtually untouched?

And prior to that post- “Refugee camps” in Kurdish/Iraq- Kurds request No-fly Buffer Zone & Armed US Assist

“The camp will be ready in one week’s time and will be operated by Iraqi Turkmens, state-run Anadolu Agency reported. Turkey had earlier set up another camp for Iraqi Turkmen in Sinjar.”

Sinjar where “ISIS” chased Kurds into a mountain.

It was the whole Yazidi saga that really solidified in my mind the collusion between the two largely SUNNI Muslim groups (we will get to that!) ISIS and the Kurds. I actually hold the opinion that the covert NATO army, that is labelled ISIS,  has Kurds within it’s ranks.
Thinking of the entire Sinjar narrative. On the Iraq side of the mountain you have Kurds and ISIS going in and on the Syrian side you have lots of Kurdish fighters and ISIS, coming out?

“To the east of Kobani, just across the Syrian border with Iraq, is the town of Sinjar. “
Writes Scott Ritter for Huffington Post. That can’t be a coincidence.

The desired state of Kurdistan-

http://kurdishguid.files.wordpress.com/2011/09/kurdistan-map.jpg?w=1200
Kurdistan and the borders as they exist today

We can see that ISIS is allegedly holding desired Kurdish territory. As it has on more then one occasion. Mosul. Sinjar. Kobane.  But the Kurds always emerge victorious. How can ISIS be portrayed as so threatening when the Kurds can beat them so handily?  By the way Kobane/Kobani is looking  about to be taken by the Kurds. As the Kurds make new gains, supposedly. As if there was any doubt this territory was going to be end up being held by the Kurds. Syria’s Kurds advance in the heart of Kobane/i

Israel, Kurds and that special relationship….

Notice how the Kurds rely on the Israeli creation myth to justify  their own nation?
Though historically…. same as Israel. Their claim to the land is questionable.

America Must Recognize Kurdistan
Just as they recognized Israel?

“Thus, just as Israel was re-established as a Jewish state in 1948, the Kurds have yearned for self-rule”

Israel was re-established? I had no idea there ever was a nation of Israel prior to it’s creation in 1948.
I thought Israel was a man, originally named Jacob? How is it Israel was “re-established”

“Perhaps a parallel history explains the longstanding friendship between Kurds and Jews, for the Kurdish experience (citing Sèvres) recapitulates Israel”s (citing Balfour)”

Related: September 24/2014 The Kurds: Israel’s not so improbable ally

It’s interesting, that nation destruction/re-creation precedent that was set when Israel was created. The fact that the two groups bolster one anothers narrative is obviously self serving for both groups and their interests. Both groups can choose to bolster the other, but that circular reasoning/begging the question doesn’t make Kurdish or Israeli claims true, correct or factual. It just makes them their claims.
So a parallel history? Perhaps? But of what type?

Who are the Kurds?

“Kurds are now largely Sunni Muslims” (From CNNKurd)
Say, what? “Kurds are now largely Sunni Muslims”

(Which means they can very easily live amongst their Sunni Muslim brethren in any nation)
Kurds are now largely Sunni Muslims?  So is ISIS. Wow!!!
Synchronicity?

How about another sync? 
We know Israel is very chummy with many a Sunni Muslim-  We know Israel is chummy with NATO mercs, who are Sunni Muslim. We know that Israel is chummy with the Kurds who are mostly Sunni Muslim.  Six of one/half a dozen of the other?

Last week there was an article in WSJ One of many in the WSJ, but this one really caught my attention.

Headline: Kurds Fight Islamic State to Claim a Piece of Syria  

Sub-heading: A Kurdish paramilitary group will help the U.S. expel Islamic militants in exchange for a stretch of northern Syria to build its vision of utopia

All the way to the Mediterranean

That Kurdish paramilitary group is the YPG /PKK group. I am going to call them the PKK from here on in.The PKK have been mentioned here on more then one ocassion-
Pretty sure the last time was in this post?
Written before the no fly zone expanded from Iraq to Syria- you know the no fly by stealth zone? Boots on the ground pour into Syria- PKK appeals to Kurds to fight with ISIS 

Oh, does anyone find it odd that the US can just give another nations territory away?   
Anyone think that strange? Of course Israel sees this as perfectly acceptable because they were given land inhabited by other people. Northern Syria is not just occupied by Sunni Muslim Kurds. There are others resident in those areas. Do they want to live in this Utopia? Is anyone considering them?
The answer to that would seem to be NO, particularly when one thinks of Palestine.
That all said, it seems this is going to be an easy land grab for the sunni muslim brand kurds. Because it is a repeating pattern. Mosul, Sinjar and Kobane/i. And all that US/Israeli/NATO assistance.

So let’s read that WSJ article

RAS AL-AIN, Syria—A billboard of a 19-year-old Kurdish fighter brandishing a machine gun covers part of a bullet-marked building that once housed Syrian government offices. The building is abandoned and its officials long gone.

Hussein Kocher, the 40-year-old local commander of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG, in his makeshift command center in Ras al-Ain, Syria. His group wants to assist the U.S. in battling Islamic State in exchange for recognition of their control of towns and village in largely Kurdish areas of northern Syria.

Control of this town now belongs to a Kurdish paramilitary force that boasts of having more than 30,000 fighters ready to help the U.S. and its allies drive Islamic State and other militants from a broad stretch of northern Syria. The force belongs to the same Kurdish group defending embattled Kobani with the assistance of U.S. airstrikes.

This is the PKK and it’s 30,000 fighters. Ras al Ain seems to be the district that either houses Kobani or is near by? Seems to be some contradictory information around, just for clarification

One of the many political complications facing the U.S. in the arrangement is that these Kurdish fighters—an offshoot of agroup designated by the U.S. and Turkey as a terror organization—want to keep control of the territory they have seized to create their own vision of a utopian society.

So the Kurd brand of Sunni Muslim seized territory and is protected but the ISIS brand of Sunni Muslim seizes territory and must be thwarted?? Am I the only one who sees this as perception management or hiding in plain sight?

“We are ready to cooperate with anyone who respects the will of our people and accepts us as we are,” said Hussein Kocher, a 40-year-old local commander of the People’s Protection Units, or YPG. The Syrian Kurd has spent nearly half his life fighting for Kurdish independence, mostly against Turkey”

The YPG/PKK have committed acts of terrorism on many occasion in Turkey. Hence the designation.
In reality the PKK appears to have always functioned as a stay behind army. 
A NATO Stay Behind army.  Always at the ready to keep Turkey in check.

 PKK as Stay Behind Army Checklist

1-Keeping Turkish leadership in check- Yup

2-Involved in bombings etc., to terrorize the population and leadership into compliance- Yup

The PKK continued to demonstrate its nationwide reach with typical tactics and techniques that included ambushes of military patrols in the countryside, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) along known military or police routes and bombings of both security and civilian targets in urban areas.

It seems terrorism does have it’s rewards. At least for the PKK. So, what does that suggest to us about the backers of the PKK?

3- The leader of the PKK stinks to high heaven of a CIA/NATO asset. The man at the forefront of the PKK stay behind has always been Ocalan- He has been ensconced safely in the embrace of the Turkish deep state and the CIA- Imprisoned but influential still.

WSJ-

The PKK leader Abdullah Ocalan was captured by the Central Intelligence Agency and Turkish security forces in 1999. He remains in prison but his influence over followers, including YPG fighters, is unbroken.

The slogan of YPG fighters translates to “there’s no life without the leader,” referring to Mr. Ocalan. A large poster of him hangs at the command center here, next to a photo of Kurdish fighters at a military parade”

So influential that he actually threatened Turkish leaders regarding Kobane/i

Link and quote – Ocalan- “Should this massacre attempt succeed (in Kobane), it will both bring an end to the ongoing process of resolution and lay the foundations for a new coup that will last long,” 


How is it that Ocalan can threaten an overthrow of the Turkish government while being held allegedly like a criminal, and get away with it? Clearly he is protected as he visits with influential Kurdish politicians from his ‘prison cell” So, connected to ‘all the right people’? YUP!
Like I said PKK/YPG = Left behind army or Gladio if you please?

“YPG/PKK commanders and senior political leaders affiliated with the group said they were eager to join the U.S.-led coalition against Islamic State in return for recognition and support from Washington and its allies for the Kurdish-dominated self-rule administrations they have established in northern Syria. The ruling groups have already set up courts, passed laws and tapped oil revenues in the region, which is also populated by Syrian Arabs and Christians.

Mr. Kocher and other YPG/PKK commanders said in interviews during a recent visit that U.S. operatives inside Syria are exchanging intelligence and helping coordinate airstrikes against Islamic State—in northeast Syria near the Iraq border, as well as in nearby towns and villages by the Syria-Turkey border”

US operatives inside Syria- Exchanging intelligence and coordinating airstrikes-
Since we KNOW that the US is not sharing intelligence or coordinating airstrikes with the elected Syrian government, we can be dam sure that the US is colluding with a designated terror group.

“A senior State Department official praised the Kurdish forceand said Wednesday it was in the best interests of the U.S. to expand its joint effort with the YPG against Islamic State. The official said cooperation wouldn’t, however, be tied to political recognition of the self-rule areas now run by the YPG and its political affiliates. “We hope that everyone in Syria works together on a national unified project,” he said”

That’s just another  lie! We know that a ‘unified project’ means a weak, destabilized Syria. Same as a ‘unified Iraq’ means a destroyed Iraq

“Forging closer ties with the YPG and its affiliates would spare the U.S. and its coalition partners from deploying troops against Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL. But the arrangement brings challenges and risk”

Did I not mention this exact scenario to you some months ago? Yes, I did! Have you forgotten? Did you miss it? August 28/14( linked above also) The US forging ties with a designated terror group aka left behind NATO army will spare the US and it’s coalition partners from deploying troops

Kurdistan being created right under our noses 

“After similar battles, the YPG and its political affiliates this year declared three self-rule administrations, or cantons as they call them, in northern Syria: Afreen, in the northwest, near the city of Aleppo; Kobani; and Jazeera in the northeast, which encompasses Ras al-Ain and the city of Qamishli. Their goal is to connect all three.

To unify Kurdistan

Recall that latest attack on Khorasan? Where did it take place? Were you paying attention?
See where Afrin is? Right at the border with Turkey. That is roughly where the US struck

US strikes Khorosan in Syria near the town of Samarda. Samarda appears to be very near Afrin, going in a southern direction Is the US softening targets in advance of a PKK onslaught?

Sarmada. Location, Location, Location? In fact look at the airstrikes along the Northern border of Syria?

The fight against ISIS looks very much like assistance for a terror groups land grab.
Kosovo?  The KLA?  Hashim Thaci? Ringing any bells? Noting any similarities?

Not everyone is impressed

Some residents worry about YPG control. “Their goal is to hold the ground at any cost and by any means,” said Asem Hasan, a 39-year-old schoolteacher from Qamishli.

Well, lets face it- the YPG/PKK is at it’s heart a terrorist organization created as a destabilizing force/Stay Behind style.  So they are not going to be nice fellows.

Interestingly the Kurds have been meeting with US officials in Berlin and Baghdad. 

Yes, you read correctly- BERLIN and BAGHDAD

 “Mr. Omar said he and other YPG officials carried that message to U.S. diplomats during meetings in Berlin this summer and in Baghdad in September.

Mr. Omar said he pressed U.S. officials during these meetings to support the Kurds’ self-rule administrations, which employ executive, legislative and judiciary councils that include seats for Arabs, local minorities and women.

“We basically told them ‘We are ready to work with you if you want to root out ISIS in Syria and you must coordinate with someone on the ground,’ ” Mr. Omar said.

U.S. officials declined to comment on the meetings in Baghdad and Berlin. The State Department confirmed an Oct. 12 meeting between the special envoy to Syria, Daniel Rubinstein, and Saleh Muslim, leader of the main political party affiliated with the YPG.

Meetings in September and October- That tells us all that there has been planning or conspiring!!

And of course, there is oil 

YPG military bases dot the oil fields around Rumailan, about 60 miles east of Qamishli, where about 40,000 barrels a day are produced—the group’s chief source of revenue. Some of the output goes to traders affiliated with the Syrian regime, said Suleiman Khalaf, who holds a post equivalent to that of oil minister in the local administration.

https://i2.wp.com/si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/BN-FN085_1112yp_P_20141112132534.jpg
Oil Wells in Northern Syria controlled by the Kurdish paramilitary

 Oil wells dot a stretch of northern Syria under the control of a Kurdish paramilitary force that says it is ready to help the U.S. and its allies defeat Islamic State and other Islamic militants in exchange for U.S. support of a plan to keep control of towns and villages. Sam Dagher/The Wall Street Journal

Ah yes, oil. Kurdistan will be oil rich and very strategically located

Stay tuned for more. Next up! The impending destruction destabilization of Turkey

Two Ships or Just One Seized by Iran?

Two Ships or Just One Seized by Iran?

 

We’re 2 ships seized or is Britain playing fast and loose with the truth?

The British owner of a second tanker reportedly seized by Iranian authorities in the Gulf on Friday said the ship had been temporarily boarded by armed personnel but was now free to leave.

“Communication has been re-established with the vessel and (the captain) confirmed that the armed guards have left and the vessel is free to continue the voyage. All crew are safe and well,” Norbulk Shipping UK said in a statement about the ship, the Mesdar.

The company said the Liberian-registered vessel was boarded by armed personnel at around 1630 GMT.

The British-operated, Liberian-flagged oil tanker Mesdar

It did not give any more details about the personnel but said the ship began heading north towards Iran.

The company said that by 2000 GMT the armed personnel had left and the ship was free to continue on its voyage. According to the website Marine Traffic, the ship was on its way from China to Saudi Arabia.

So the ship was free to continue on it’s way after 3-1/2 hours or 210 minutes

The British government earlier accused Iranian authorities of seizing two vessels in the Gulf, including a UK-registered one, but did not name them.
“I’m extremely concerned by the seizure of two vessels by Iranian authorities in the Strait of Hormuz,” Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said

Were there two ships detained or was  it really just one and a whole lot of exaggeration from Jeremy Hunt ? Then further  spun by the media?

Britain claims two ships seized: Iran says one.

 Britain says Iran seizes two oil tankers in Gulf, Iran says captured one

“Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency said the second vessel, the British-operated Mesdar, had not been seized.  (As reported in opening news article) It said the ship had been allowed to continue its course after being given a warning over safety and environmental issues.

The Stena Impero and Mesdar changed direction sharply within 40 minutes of each other shortly after entering the Gulf through the Strait of Hormuz, taking up a course towards Iran, Refinitiv tracking data showed.

The data later showed Mesdar changing direction again, heading westward back into the Gulf.

MARITIME RULES

Iran’s Guards, an elite force under the command of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said they seized the Stena Impero at the request of Iranian authorities for “not following international maritime regulations,” state television reported.
Northern Marine Management, which is owned by Stena AB, confirmed the Stena Impero was heading towards Iran.”

Why was the Stena Impero heading towards Iran? I’m getting a real provocation vibe from this news…

“Norbulk, the manager of the tanker Mesdar, said the vessel had been boarded by armed personnel but was later allowed to continue its voyage. It said the crew were safe and well.”

 Reads to me like one ship, acting provocatively, may have been seized. 

“Refinitiv data showed the Stena Impero vessel is owned by Stena Bulk and indicated its destination had been the Saudi port of Jubail on the Gulf. The tracking map showed it veering off course about 1517 GMT and heading toward Iran.

The Mesdar made its shift toward Iran at about 1600 GMT.

“We received reports that the British Stena Impero oil tanker was causing incidents and, therefore, we asked the military to direct it to Bandar Abbas port for the necessary probes,” Allahmorad Afifipour, head of Hormozgan’s maritime authority, told Tasnim news agency”

Qatar Expands US Gift Base (Al Udeid Air Base), While Saudis Receive New Patriot Battery +500 Troops

[SEE: Trump Sending 500 Man “Tripwire” Force To Saudi Prince Sultan Air Base]

Trump further stressed that his country will not pay anything, noting that Qatari investments in the US are considered the largest

Qatar to fully pay for expansion of Al Udeid Air Base, Emir buys protection with money

CAIRO – 13 July 2019: United States President Donald Trump has expressed his gratitude for the expansion of the centerpiece of U.S.-Qatar ties, namely Al Udeid Air Base.

During a speech that Trump delivered amid a dinner banquet organized on the occasion of an official visit conducted by the Emir of the tiny emirate, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, he said Qatar will pay for the expansion of the air base.

Trump further stressed that his country will not pay anything, noting that Qatari investments in the US are considered the largest.

Al Udeid is home to scores of aircraft, including fighters, bombers, tankers and reconnaissance planes.

The boycott of Qatar by Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Bahrain took place for its policies of supporting terrorism and meddling in its neighbors’ internal affairs.

Trump Sending 500 Man “Tripwire” Force To Saudi Prince Sultan Air Base

[Because of this deployment, Iran cannot strike Prince Sultan Base without risking killing a lot of Americans.  In this case, Trump proves that Saudi money is more important to him than the American soldiers he so often praises.]

[SEE:U.S. Military in Saudi Arabia Digs Into the Sand ]–NOV. 9, 1996

[SEE: America signals withdrawal of troops from Saudi Arabia–30 Apr 2003 ]

US to deploy 500 troops to Saudi Arabia amid Iran tensions: report

The troops will be sent to the Prince Sultan Air Base in the country, which is in a desert east of Riyadh, CNN reported, citing two unnamed officials familiar with the plans.

The deployment plan comes as the US continues to respond to the downing of a US drone by Iran in the region. After the drone was shot down, Trump pulled back on a military strike of the country when he found out more than 100 people would be killed in a planned operation.

The US also announced it would deploy 1,000 troops in the region after an attack on two oil tankers in the Gulf of Oman that the US blames on Iran.

“The recent Iranian attacks validate the reliable, credible intelligence we have received on hostile behavior by Iranian forces and their proxy groups that threaten United States personnel and interests across the region,” Acting Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said in a statement on June 17.

The plan also strengthens the Trump administration’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, even as congressional lawmakers have sought to punish the country, in part, for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Khashoggi, a US national, was killed and dismembered in the Saudi embassy in Turkey, allegedly by agents of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.

 

Ex-Saudi intelligence official attacks Qatar, threatens coup

Prince Bandar Bin Sultan [File photo]

Former Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency, Prince Bandar Bin Sultan, launched a fierce attack on Qatar, ruling out that things would return to normal with Doha unless it complies with Saudi demands.

The former Saudi ambassador to Washington warned Doha not to be deceived by the US presence on its territories.

Bin Sultan added in an interview with Independent Arabia that “the largest military base in the Middle East was Wheelus Air Base in Libya. When the revolution and coup broke out in Libya, one of the officers who carried out the revolution went to the US military base. The Americans then warned him of getting close to the base, so he told them that he came to inform them that that they carried out a coup against the Libyan king. The Americans responded saying that ‘this is a Libyan internal affair. The most essential thing is that no one gets close to the military base’.”

READ: What’s left of the Qatar siege?

Bin Sultan commented on that saying that “Doha is greatly deceived that the US air base is there to protect Qatar, while they do not know that it is there to serve Washington’s interests.”

He continued: “They can learn the lesson from what happened in Libya when Wheelus Air Base was the largest military base in the world, yet it did not protect the king from the coup.”

The Saudi official continued his threats by saying: “There is no guarantee for Qataris if they link this guarantee to the US base.”

Western reports previously revealed Saudi-UAE plans to carry out a military coup and overthrow the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani against the backdrop of the Gulf crisis that broke out on 5 June 2017.

Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Egypt continue to cut ties with Qatar, for the second year in a row, accusing it of “supporting terrorism”, a charge Doha has repeatedly denied.

Religious Appeal To Fight the Immorality of the Military Industrial Complex

The spread of militarism does not just involve creating the specific apparatus of war

 

David James

 

As the Western allies flirt with starting World War III in Syria, it is worth examining some of the financial and business dynamics behind the United States’ ‘military industrial complex.’

War may not be good business, but it is certainly big business. And in contrast to Russia and China, the war industry in the US is heavily privatized, including the use of mercenaries.

First, some statistical context. America’s military spending, which will rise to US$716 billion in 2019, is almost half the total of the world’s military spending.

It is bigger than the next 15 biggest countries’ combined outlays, four times China’s level and ten times Russia’s. And that is just military spending.

As Alexander Nekrosov commented, the CIA’s budget is $US44 billion a year, which is about two thirds of Russia’s military budget. America is a warrior nation like no other: it has been at war 222 out of its 239 years.

Then there are the bases. Depending on how you count them, America has between 800 and 1000 military bases, giving it leverage, if not control, over 191 nations.

Russia has only a handful, mainly across Central Asia, although it has been establishing new ones in Syria. China has almost none. The US bases are presented as being part of America’s investment in defence, but it looks much more like offence.

Then there are the munitions output and the body count — what we might call the business operations. In the past 16 years, the US has invaded, occupied and dropped 200,000 bombs and missiles on seven countries.

If the overall impact is considered, and not just the immediate casualties from the combat (an epidemiological approach) the death toll is estimated to be more than two million (and maybe as high as five million).

Then there is the co-opting of public and political life. Military providers depend almost totally on sales to their governments, with of course America being the biggest buyer.

This represents an extremely lucrative market, but to make sure that it will buy it is necessary to persuade politicians and the media that there is a constant threat that must be met with ever higher spending.

This does not prove too difficult. Even basic logic is easily taken out. Thus we see the recent bombing of Syria justified as teaching Assad a lesson that goes something like this: ‘Because Assad appears to have killed Syrians, we have to punish him by killing more Syrians.’ Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts would thoroughly approve.

The spread of militarism does not just involve creating the specific apparatus of war. There is a huge parallel industry in false-fact creation and spin. This goes back decades, but a recent example was the revelation that in 2016 the Pentagon paid PR company Bell Pottinger to deliver propaganda during the Iraq war.

That is only one instance of many. Some of the people involved with the infamous Cambridge Analytica seem to have been involved in various types of psyops. The Pentagon lists control of information as one of its core operational activities, which encompasses heavy influence over the media (along with intelligence agencies) and influence over Hollywood.

It is true that there are bigger industries. Military expenditure, plus spending on veterans, only accounts for about a quarter of the total US federal budget. Defence equates with about 3.5 per cent of the nation’s GDP, smaller than finance and health.

But as a business, the military is distinct, and it has unusual effects. Economically, military investment is dead money. Unlike other industry sectors, there is no domestic multiplier effect, it does not stimulate further economic activity. Either the weaponry is used to destroy the economies of other countries, or it lies idle.

Because the business imperative is to fight wars, thus creating demand for its products and ‘services,’ it has an incentive to corrupt the rest of the polity. It is necessary to sustain a sense of urgency about resorting to violence, which has in recent times meant destroying moral conscience.

Thus we see the absurdity of action against the Assad government, because they have allegedly killed children, by a Western military that has specialised in killing children. Madeleine Albright’s infamous comment that killing 500,000 Iraqi children was ‘worth it’ said it all. The word hypocrisy hardly seems to cover it.

Such ethical failure is a measure of the military’s commercial effectiveness. The ultimate aim of the industry is to convince us that ‘we’ are the good guys and ‘they’ (the targets) are the bad guys. That way, no matter how illegal or unjustified the attack, it is always right.

To that extent, the military industry now represents the greatest threat to Western morality — a morality that is rendered meaningless if it is not also applied to our own actions.

David James is the managing editor of businessadvantagepng.com. He has a PhD in English Literature and is author of the musical comedy The Bard Bites Back, which is about Shakespeare’s ghost.

Rattling American Cages in the Propaganda War

It appears I have rattled some cages.

I recently appeared on RT to talk about how the United States weaponizes the dollar and wields it like a billy club to advance U.S. foreign policy objectives. I specifically mentioned how the U.S. can use the dollar-denominated SWIFT payment system as a tool and the threat that this kind of economic warfare poses to the U.S. domestic economy.

A couple of days after the interview, I got a somewhat contentious email from Voice of America asking for my comment because they are “fact-checking” the web story RT published based on my interview. VoA is a U.S. government-funded and operated media outlet.

The fact-checking arm of VoA (polygraph.info), asked if RT quoted me accurately. (They did.) The Polygraph reporter then stated, “We suspected there might be some inaccuracy because any expert on SWIFT would surely know that while the US has sought to influence it, it is primarily a European and European-based institution, which would of course limit the US’ ability  to ‘use’ it as a weapon as the article states.”

SWIFT  stands for the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication. The system enables financial institutions to send and receive information about financial transactions in a secure, standardized environment. Since the dollar serves as the world reserve currency, SWIFT facilitates the international dollar system.

SWIFT and dollar dominance give the U.S. a great deal of leverage over other countries.

I didn’t respond to the Polygraph request because it’s clear that I am going to be cast in a bad light and my statements questioned. And I can tell you before they publish their article at least one fact they will present. They will tell you, “A U.S Treasury Department official confirmed to Polygraph.info that the U.S. does not control who SWIFT removes from its system.”

I know VoA will say this because it already has. I pulled that line from a 2017 VoA fact-check on a story relating to SWIFT locking a Russian bank out of the payment system.

It is undeniable that SWIFT has been used to support U.S. economic sanctions. A March 2019 article by Reuters reported on plans by Russian banks to “retain at least short-term access to the global financial system in the event that they are hit by fresh U.S. sanctions.”

“The two biggest threats to the banking sector in Russia are being cut off from the SWIFT banking messaging system and losing access to foreign currency, which they usually get from U.S. banks via correspondent accounts.”

Bloomberg article in November 2018 reported on SWIFT blocking access to Iranian banks and the fear that the same policy could be used against other countries. Bloomberg cites SWIFT officials indicating that the U.S. government put pressure on the payment system.

“The U.S. has ramped up sanctions targeting Iran’s energy and banking sectors as part of the Trump administration’s ‘maximum pressure’ campaign against the Islamic Republic. Swift has said its move is in the interest of keeping the global financial system stable after senior U.S. officials said that it could be penalized if it authorizes payments between sanctioned entities.” [Emphasis added]

Eurasia Review elaborated on the story, quoting U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin who told reporters that SWIFT is no different than any other financial institution.

“We have advised SWIFT that it must disconnect any Iranian financial institutions that we designate as soon as technologically feasible to avoid sanctions exposure.”

So, despite what VoA and the Treasury Department claim, the U.S. government clearly pressures SWIFT to serve as a foreign policy tool. It may be technically accurate to say the U.S. government does not “control” SWIFT. But the U.S. clearly applies political pressure on the institution and that pressure yields results. There is enough worry about this in other countries, including Russia and China, that there are verifiable and concerted efforts to find alternative outside of the dollar-denominated system.

The Treasury Department’s statement to VoA about its control over SWIFT feels a little like claims of Federal Reserve “independence” we get from government officials and central bankers pretending the Fed operates outside and above any kind of political pressure or influence. We all know that’s utter bullshit.

What about this assertion that SWIFT is primarily a European and European-based institution and that shields it from any kind of U.S. influence?

It is true that the Belgium-based organization operates under EU law. But as the Eurasia Review article points out, SWIFT’s board includes executives from U.S. banks subject to U.S. laws, “allowing the administration to act against banks and regulators across the globe.”

“Washington’s pressure has pushed Brussels to look at creating a SWIFT alternative. In August, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called on the European Union to set up an independent equivalent of the system.”

If the EU maintained significant control over the SWIFT system, why did it feel the need to create a payment alternative to SWIFT in order to bypass U.S. sanctions on Iran? Why didn’t the EU assert its influence on this “European-based” institution and insist that it allow transactions with Iran to continue unhindered?

The new payment system called INSTEX (Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) will allow France, Britain and Germany, along with other EU nations, to continue trade with Iran outside of the dollar-based SWIFT payment system. When EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced the plan, she said the new payment channel would allow companies to preserve oil and other business deals with Iran despite U.S. sanctions.

The creation of an EU alternative to SWIFT gives you a pretty strong indication about who holds the biggest sway over SWIFT.

RT receives funding from the Russian government and there’s no question it has an editorial bias slanted toward Russian interests. But every major media organization has its bias. If you don’t think U.S. corporate media like Fox News, CNN and the New York Times have an agenda heavily influenced by U.S. “interests,” you live in a fantasyland.

The fact the VoA feels the need to “fact-check” the RT article based on my interview indicates that I have stumbled over a narrative the U.S. government doesn’t want getting into the mainstream. That doesn’t make the narrative untrue.

The fact is the U.S. uses the dollar as a foreign policy weapon. End of story.

Not only that, debt monetization by the Federal Reserve makes American interventionist wars possible. U.S. wars since 2001 have cost each American taxpayer $23,000. if they had actually had to write a $1352.94 check to the Pentagon every year for the last 17 years, the foreign wars would have ended long ago. Thanks to the Fed, they don’t have to.

This economics of war and intervention undermine the U.S. economy and makes it vulnerable. The U.S. government has already run up more than $22 trillion in debt and counting. There is a limit to the amount of debt it can take on, and the central bank’s ability to effectively print money. At some point, the economic house of cards will collapse.

You may think the intervention and aggressive U.S. foreign policy is necessary. Regardless, you need to count the cost. But the government doesn’t even want you to know a cost exists.