China Set To Play The Northern TAPI Card–The Card Unocal Discarded

According to Ahmed Rashid’s Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil & Fundamentalism in Central Asia (Yale UP, 2000). “by November 1996, Bridas claimed that it had an agreement signed by the Taliban and Dostum—trumping Unocal.”

 

Now China may play spoiler to TAPI

 

The US- and ADB-sponsored Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) gas pipeline project is as much about the political stability of Afghanistan as it is about energy security for the partner countries. Yet, it continues to evoke scepticism among analysts. Much of this scepticism hinged on finding financiers to underwrite a project which would transit the turbulent regions of Herat and Kandahar in Afghanistan as well as Balochistan (Quetta) and Multan in Pakistan. Now, another factor has emerged which has the potential to further jeopardise the beleaguered project. Recent reports of a rival pipeline project being negotiated between China, Turkmenistan and Afghanistan have emerged. This project proposes to carry Turkmen gas to China through northern Afghanistan and Tajikistan, raising concerns that it may render TAPI a non-starter, akin to the manner in which TAPI played spoiler to the Iran-Pakistan-India (IPI) pipeline project.

On June 6 and 8, 2012, on the sidelines of the SCO summit meeting in Beijing, Afghan President Hamid Karzai met with Chinese President Hu Jintao and China National Petroleum Corporation’s (CNPC) head Jiang Jiemin and discussed the proposal along with other issues. According to reports in the Chinese media, CNPC offered to conduct a technical and economic feasibility study for the proposed project on Afghan and Tajik territories. That the route for the proposed pipeline seeks to avoid the troubled Pashtun-dominated areas in Afghanistan—seen as one of the biggest hurdles for the TAPI project —would make it more attractive for the financiers.

While actual volumes of the proposed pipeline were not discussed or disclosed, it was agreed that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) would be signed when a CNPC delegation visits Kabul to discuss the proposal in greater detail, along with oil and gas exploration possibilities in Afghanistan’s Amu Darya basin, for which an agreement was signed between the Afghan Ministry of Mines and CNPC in December 2011. On returning to Kabul, President Karzai reportedly told Wahidullah Shahrani, the Minister of Mines, to prepare a framework agreement on cooperation with the CNPC and to set up a Chinese-Afghan joint working committee on these projects. CNPC and the Turkmen state firm, Turkmennebitgaz, also signed a framework agreement to increase ongoing gas deliveries to China to 65 billion cubic metres (bcm) from the current 30 bcm per annum by 2014. The gas would be sourced from Turkmenistan’s Bagtyyarlyk gas field and possibly from sections of the South Yolotan field. This would, presumably, be the source for the proposed pipeline project as well. Interestingly, the additional Turkmen gas supply to China is expected to commence in 2014, the year TAPI is expected to begin construction.

The timing of the proposal for the new Turkmen-Afghan-China pipeline is intriguing, setting off speculation about whether it was being conceived to stymie TAPI or is part of China’s strategy to guard against any extra-regional influence in Central Asia, including on the region’s energy resources, which, Beijing wants to garner for itself to offset its dependence on the Strait of Malacca. Given that China has already contracted to buy additional gas from Turkmenistan would suggest that the project is motivated by the former consideration. What is important, however, is that the proposed pipeline seeks to exclude both Pakistan and India, hailed as potential markets for Central Asian energy resources. This is not the first time that China has played spoiler in energy projects originating in a Central Asian state. For example, in 2009, when an EU-backed consortium was working on the Nabucco pipeline to reach Turkmen gas reserves from the west as an additional source, CNPC inaugurated the Turkmen-China gas pipeline, thereby jeopardising Nabucco’s viability.

With the possibility of a rival pipeline transiting Afghanistan, several factors will have to be taken into consideration.

First, will the new pipeline be in lieu of TAPI or in addition to TAPI? This would depend on (a) whether Turkmenistan has sufficient gas to supply both the projects as well as additional gas exports to China and (b) whether financiers would back the more hazardous TAPI project.

Second, does the agreement with China signify a reflection of President Karzai’s confidence—or in fact the lack of it—in TAPI, or is this a reflection of the slide in relations between Karzai and the US? Interestingly, at the time when India and Pakistan agreed on the GSPAs for TAPI with Turkmenistan, Afghanistan had only concluded a MoU for co-operation with Turkmenistan in the gas sector, as against a contract, which was deferred ostensibly because negotiations with Afghanistan were continuing on the price of deliveries.

Third, with the US now no longer in a position to support TAPI other than politically, and with President Obama set on withdrawing from Afghanistan in 2014, does Karzai now see TAPI as unviable, despite recent reports of the Taliban’s assurance that it would not sabotage the project?

The only thing that is certain is that President Karzai’s step-back on TAPI will have an impact on the project’s fate. Let us not forget that Afghanistan is central to TAPI, apart from ensuring that it would provide an alternative to Iranian gas. However, ironically, TAPI’s demise could revive IPI. Pakistan, which is facing a severe energy crunch and is therefore reluctant to succumb to US pressure to abandon the Iranian pipeline, is now talking to the Russians as potential financiers of the IPI—now truncated to IP—project. Recently, a minister-level Russian working group was reported to have participated in meetings in Pakistan, with discussions focusing on Russia’s willingness to finance IPI. The Russians have long indicated their interest in developing a gas market in South Asia, and the recent rapprochement between Moscow and Islamabad may well be the opportunity the former has been seeking to re-engage with the subcontinent politically. Moreover, it would upset the US strategy to circumvent any Russian involvement in Central Asian energy geopolitics.

At the same time, the Turkmen-China pipeline could jeopardise Russia’s plans to go ahead with its gas deal with China. With Turkmenistan offering lower-priced gas to China, it provides Beijing the leverage to negotiate better terms with Russia for future gas deliveries. The two countries have been in talks to import 68 billion cubic metres of gas annually for some time. Although an MoU was signed in June 2009, no agreement has followed suit, ostensibly because of differences over pricing. As a result, with the onset of more Turkmen/Central Asian gas flowing to China, Moscow may well lose its hold on the region’s gas.

For India, the China pipeline would end, or at least put on hold indefinitely, plans to import Central Asian gas. Given the large difference in the price of imported gas, whether piped or liquefied, and domestically produced gas, the pricing discrepancy would further add to the government’s gas import bill. With US shale gas now opening up an avenue for low-priced LNG imports, provided India is granted a waiver from US laws on gas imports to non-FTA partners, it would be a better option than complex transcontinental pipeline projects.

Shebonti Ray Dadwal is a IDSA Fellow specialising in energy-related issues

 

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The Armies of the Anti-Christ Drive Christians Out of Syria, Seize Their Homes

[Both Christians and moderate Muslims are the enemies and the victims of the armies of militant “Islamists” which we have recruited to overthrow the government of Syria and to replace it with another, Taliban-style government.  Isn’t it unbelievable that our “way of life” requires that our government become the world’s primary sponsor of state terrorism?  We tie the world in knots over our claims that Shiite “Iran sponsors terrorism,” yet it is Sunni terrorism that plagues the world today, killing mostly Muslims.  Most often, the Muslim victims are Shias, or anyone who is not Sunni.  It is much more than “coincidence” that Sunni terrorists kill the allies of our enemy, Iran; it is the plan.  American planners have finally wised-up to the insanity inherent in openly starting a war with tenacious Iran and opted for silent, covert war, instead.  Our Saudi and Qatari allies have helped us put together secret terrorist armies that are composed mostly of radicalized Sunnis, who have waiting for this moment most of their adult lives, yearning for the day when they would be free to slay the “enemies of God.”  Little did most of them realize, that their “Holy War” would be waged for the benefit of the “Great Satan.”   Their “Jihad” is the real foreign policy of the United States, NOT these “piss ant wars” that are fought in Afghanistan and elsewhere, merely as a diversion to the Real War (SEE:  The Real War –vs– The Illusions).  

(There are just so many ways to say it–We are doing very great Evil in the world everyday, but most of us are unaware that there is even anything wrong.  The brainwashers who have labored for so many years to dim America’s wits have been very successful in their work.  Perhaps hell has a quieter corner reserved for them as a result of their perfidy.) 

The American Bible Belt Christians have been the cornerstone of this policy of willful blindness in the face of arrogant evil.  Now that their Christian cousins in Syria and throughout the Middle East are starting to pay the price for their slothful spiritual laziness, perhaps a few of Jesus’ “little lambs” will open their eyes in time to see the circling wolves.  The Qusayr Christians mentioned in the article below could have used their help before now, but perhaps the “scales will fall from their eyes” in time to motivate them to help change the fate of the rest of Syria’s ancient Christian enclaves.

While no one was looking, Shaitan (Satan) rose to power and began his war against humanity.  Maybe we just didn’t notice because of all the cheering and fanfare.  More likely, we didn’t want to know.  We now have ringside seats to the end of human civilization, the most stupendous event in the history of mankind.  Who will wake-up in time to witness the event?] 

‘We’re Too Frightened to Talk’Christians Flee from Radical Rebels in Syria

By Ulrike Putz in Qa, Lebanon

AP

Thousands of Syrians are fleeing into neighboring Lebanon — not entirely due to fear of the Assad regime. The country’s minority Christian population is suffering under attacks waged by rebel troops. In the Beqaa Valley in eastern Lebanon, Christian families are finding temporary refuge, but they are still terrified.

Info

There had been many warnings that the Khouri* family wouldn’t talk. “They won’t say a word — they’re too scared,” predicted the mayor of Qa, a small market town in northeastern Lebanon where the Khouris are staying. “They won’t even open their door for journalists,” said another person, who had contacted the family on behalf of a non-governmental organization.

Somehow, though, the interview was arranged in the end. Reserved and halting, the women described what happened to their husbands, brothers and nephews back in their hometown of Qusayr in Syria. They were killed by Syrian rebel fighters, the women said — murdered because they were Christians, people who in the eyes of radical Islamist freedom fighters have no place in the new Syria.

In the past year and a half, since the beginning of the uprising against Syria’s authoritarian President Bashar Assad, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have fled their homes and sought safe haven abroad. Inside the country, the United Nations estimates that 1 million people have left their homes to escape violence and are now internally displaced. The majority are likely to have fled to escape the brutality of Assad’s troops. Indeed, as was the case at the start of the Syrian civil war, most of the violence is still being perpetrated by the army, the secret services and groups of thugs steered by the state.

With fighting ongoing, however, the rebels have also committed excesses. And some factions within the patchwork of disparate groups that together comprise the Free Syrian Army have radicalized at a very rapid clip in recent months. A few are even being influenced by foreign jihadists who have traveled to Syria to advise them. That, at least, is what witnesses on the ground are reporting in Qusayr, where fierce fighting has raged for months. Control of the town has passed back and forth between the two sides, at times falling into the hands of the regime and at others of the rebels. Currently, fighters with the Free Syrian Army have the upper hand, and they have also made the city of 40,000 residents a place where the country’s Christian minority no longer feels safe.

Campaigns against Christians

“There were always Christians in Qusayr — there were around 10,000 before the war,” says Leila, the matriarch of the Khouri clan. Currently, 11 members of the clan are sharing two rooms. They include the grandmother, grandfather, three daughters, one husband and five children. “Despite the fact that many of our husbands had jobs in the civil service, we still got along well with the rebels during the first months of the insurgency.” The rebels left the Christians alone. The Christians, meanwhile, were keen to preserve their neutrality in the escalating power struggle. But the situation began deteriorating last summer, Leila says, murmuring a bit more before going silent.

“We’re too frightened to talk,” her daughter Rim explained, before mustering the courage to continue. “Last summer Salafists came to Qusayr, foreigners. They stirred the local rebels against us,” she says. Soon, an outright campaign against the Christians in Qusayr took shape. “They sermonized on Fridays in the mosques that it was a sacred duty to drive us away,” she says. “We were constantly accused of working for the regime. And Christians had to pay bribes to the jihadists repeatedly in order to avoid getting killed.”

Grandmother Leila made the sign of the cross. “Anyone who believes in this cross suffers,” she says.

Foreign Jihadists in Combat in Qusayr

It is not possible to independently corroborate the Khouri’s version of events, but the basic information seems consistent with what is already known. On April 20, Abdel Ghani Jawhar involuntarily provided proof that foreign jihadists are engaged in combat in Qusayr. Jawhar, a Lebanese national and commander with the terrorist group Fatah al Islam, died that day in the Syrian city. An explosives expert, Jawhar had been in Qusayr to teach rebels how to build bombs and accidentally blew himself up while trying to assemble one. Until his death, Jawhar had been the most wanted man in Lebanon, where he is implicated in the deaths of 200 people. Lebanese authorities confirmed his death in Syria. The fact that the rebels had worked together with a man like Jawhar fomented fears after his death that the ranks of insurgents are increasingly becoming infiltrated by international terrorists.

The Khouris’ decision to flee Syria last year is partly attributable to the almost daily threats that they, as well as other Christians in town, began receiving. And yet it was also a product of the fact that fighting in the city had simply become unbearable. “The bombs were falling right in the middle of our neighborhood. We can’t say who was firing them — the rebels or the army,” a family member says. During a break in the firing on one bitterly cold winter day, the family finally left. “We arranged a car and drove to Lebanon. It’s only a 45-minute trip.”

Rim’s husband also fled with them. His fate was sealed when he drove back to Qusayr on Feb. 9. He had owned a mini-market in his hometown and he wanted to go back and get food to take back to his family in exile. His family only knows what happened to him because of the stories relatives and friends who remained in Qusayr have shared. “He was stopped at a rebel checkpoint near the state-run bakery,” says Rim. “The rebels knew he was a Christian. They took him and then threw his dead body in front of the door of his parent’s house four or five hours later.”

Grandmother Leila makes the sign of the cross again. It wasn’t only her son-in-law who got killed. Her brother and two nephews were also killed. “They shot one of my nephews, a pharmacist, in his apartment because he supported the regime,” she says.

Fear of Syrian Compatriots

Thirty-two Christian families have found shelter and asylum in Qa, which is located only 12 kilometers away from the Syrian border. Although the city is also Christian and looks out for those who have fled the rebels for this reason, the Khouris and their fellow victims nevertheless live in a state of constant fear. For one, they can hear the muffled hum of artillery being fired in nearby Syria. The sound travels well beyond the border and serves as a constant reminder of what is happening in their country. On the day of the interview, a column of smoke could be seen rising above the next mountain range. A day earlier, a shell hit a gas station on the Syrian side of the border and it had been smouldering ever since. Four weeks ago, the Khouris learned that their home in Qusayr had been completely destroyed after being struck by a rocket.

But the family’s greatest fear is that of their own Syrian compatriots. As a border town, Qa is a magnet for two types of refugees, says Mansour Saad. “On the one hand, you have the Christians who are fleeing from the rebels,” he says. “And then you have the refugee families of men who are fighting within the ranks of the FSA.” The two enemy groups sometimes clash in Lebanese exile. “There is a lot of tension between them,” says Saad. “We do our best to keep the two groups apart.”

Like many Lebanese and Syrian Christians, Saad is also a supporter of the Assad regime. As a religious minority in the Middle East, Christians don’t have much choice other than to align themselves with a strong leader who can protect them, Saad says. “The rebels haven’t managed to convince me they are fighting for more democracy,” the mayor says.

And while there may be a number of open questions about the Assad regime, like the fact that “there is certainly no freedom of expression in Syria,” he says the rebels aren’t one bit better. There may have been respectable aims at the start of the uprising, but the insurgency has since been hijacked by Islamists, the mayor argues. “And we know the types of Muslims who have emerged at the head of the rebellion: The ones who would like to lead the people back into the Stone Age.”

* The names in this story have been changed in order to protect the identity of the interview subjects.

Taliban Copying Pentagon/CIA “Hunting Party” Strategy, Eliminating the Competition

[Militants are adapting the same criminal tactics which we have been using for years in Afghanistan and everywhere else that is under the American gun–Hunting the leadership.  The Taliban’s hunting season on all Afghan leaders, was copied from the Pakistani Taliban, who have used the strategy so effectively in Pakistan’s Tribal Regions since 2004 and the group’s beginning with the purposeful release of TTP founder, Abdullah Mehsud, from Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo Bay.  His recruitment of cousin Baitullah Mehsud to his CIA-organized “hunting party” of terrorists, for the purpose of killing hundreds of tribal leaders around Wana, S. Waziristan, was just the start of a reign of terror which has continued, unabated, across the breadth of Pakistan, to this day.  Whenever the war crimes of George Bush and Barack Obama are finally exposed and laid end-to-end, they will stretch around the earth.]  

In Afghanistan, targeted attacks on leaders an ominous trend

The attacks on Afghan leaders come as the NATO force hands over more security duties to the Afghan police and army and begins its troop drawdown in earnest.

Attacks targeting Afghan leaders raise the specter of more killings as the NATO force draws down its troops.A man takes in the aftermath of a suicide bombing targeting the wedding festivities of the daughter of Afghan lawmaker Ahmad Khan Samangani. The parliament member was among the nearly 20 people killed in the July 14 attack in Samangan province. (JAWED KARGAR, EPA / July 14, 2012)
By Laura King 

KABUL, Afghanistan — Tamim Nuristani used to own a pizza chain in California. Now he’s a marked man in Afghanistan.

This month, insurgents ambushed the provincial governor’s convoy in northeastern Afghanistan, sparking a fierce battle that pinned down his entourage for the night. When the motorcade tried to move in the morning, the assailants struck again. Miraculously, all those in the convoy survived.

It was not the first attempt on Nuristani’s life; he did not expect it to be the last. Not long ago, security forces discovered and defused a remote-controlled explosive device apparently meant for him, and a defecting Talibanfighter told officials that he had been personally tasked with assassinating the Nuristan governor.

“Based on the intelligence reports we receive, myself, the police chief, the provincial head of intelligence and a lawmaker from Nuristan are high on the list of targets,” Nuristani said. “But I will do my best to keep serving my country.”

Taliban and other insurgent groups have long targeted Afghan government officials and community leaders. But this month has seen an extraordinary spate of assassinations and attempted assassinations of public figures, raising the specter of many more such killings as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization force here begins its troop drawdown in earnest.

Over a span of four days beginning July 13, a provincial women’s affairs chief in eastern Afghanistan was killed by a car bomb; the mayor of a western town was gunned down on the way home from evening prayers; a prominent member of parliament was slain in a suicide attack that also killed 18 others at festivities for his daughter’s wedding; a district police chief in Kandahar was killed in a drive-by shooting; a Cabinet minister and another provincial governor escaped uninjured when their motorcade was bombed; and a district chief in northern Kunduz province hopped out of his vehicle to shop — just before the car blew up.

The latest jolt came Sunday, when the governor of Chak district in Wardak province, Mohammad Ismail Wafa, was shot to death by assailants. His young son died with him. And the Muslim holy month of Ramadan proved no protection for a prominent imam in Oruzgan province: He was killed Monday by a bomb outside his mosque.

Authorities are uncertain whether the recent drumbeat of attacks represents a coordinated campaign by a single group or if the strikes were unrelated actions by disparate militant organizations — or even whether internal power struggles were at play.

Either way, the seeming open season on Afghan public servants represents an ominous trend as the NATO force hands over more security responsibilities to the Afghan police and army, while simultaneously trying to build public confidence in all levels of the Afghan government.

“What better way to undermine government power than by killing the Afghan leadership?” asked Brig. Roger Noble, an Australian serving as a senior military operations officer with NATO’s International Security Assistance Force. At a recent shura, or consultative session with tribal elders, he said, the most urgent request was for more support for vulnerable district officials.

Ramadan, which began Friday, could prove particularly perilous, because politicians and dignitaries are expected to mingle with crowds of constituents at the daily iftar, the evening meal that breaks the daytime fast observed by devout Muslims. And the Taliban has vowed no letup in violence during the time of fasting and prayer.

The latest series of killings and attacks was unusual in that it was largely concentrated inAfghanistan’snorth, a region that is mainly populated by ethnic minorities with a more pronounced grass-roots distaste for the Taliban than is seen in the predominantly Pashtun south and east, historically the war’s main battlegrounds.

Some non-Taliban insurgent groups such as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan and Pakistani-based organizations such as Lashkar-e-Taiba have made inroads in the north in recent years. And the security situation is complicated by internecine tensions among some former comrades in arms from the Northern Alliance, the U.S.-backed militia that helped drive the Taliban from power.

Some northern strongmen have reportedly been stockpiling weapons in advance of a potential power vacuum when Western combat troops depart, or in the event of a peace pact with the Taliban, which most of them strongly oppose.

The wedding hall blast in Samangan province that killed the father of the bride, well-connected lawmaker Ahmad Khan Samangani, swiftly gave rise to a rash of conspiracy theories about his rivalries with other northern power brokers.

But the Samangan police chief, Gen. Khalil Andarabi, blamed what he described as an Al Qaeda-linked faction assembled by the late Mullah Amir Gul, a onetime Taliban shadow governor in the province who also once served in the Afghan army.

The Taliban movement, made up of sometimes-quarreling factions and with fluid and shifting alliances with other militant organizations, has claimed responsibility for some of the recent attacks, including the one against Nuristani. But its leadership has disavowed responsibility for others, such as the July 13 car bombing that killed Hanifa Safi, a respected women’s rights advocate in Laghman province.

Although Taliban fighters have repeatedly targeted and threatened women’s activists, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid — disingenuously, perhaps — suggested that “personal enmity” might lie behind Safi’s murder. No arrests have yet been made in her death, which brought an outpouring of grief and anger from the community, including many conservative male tribal elders.

“The people who commit these despicable acts are enemies of peace and security,” said a Laghman provincial spokesman, Sarhadi Zewak. “They don’t care who they kill — men or women, tribal elders or government officials. Their targets are simply anyone who is working for the betterment of this country.”

laura.king@latimes.com

Special correspondents Hashmat Baktash and Aimal Yaqubi contributed to this report.

India Blackout Worsens–600 Million In Dark

[For all of you Americans reading this–that is nearly twice the population of the United States–WITHOUT POWER.]

India blackout worsens; 600M in dark

 
An off-duty flight attendant from KLM Royal Dutch Airlines browses a dark shop in Janpath Market, a popular tourist shopping area, during a power outage in New Delhi, July 31, 2012. (Getty)

(AP) NEW DELHI – India’s energy crisis spread over half the country Tuesday when both its eastern and northern electricity grids collapsed, leaving 600 million people without power in one of the world’s biggest-ever blackouts.

 

The power failure has raised serious concerns about India’s outdated infrastructure and the government’s inability to meet an insatiable appetite for energy as the country aspires to become a regional economic superpower.

The outage in the eastern grid came just a day after India’s northern power gridcollapsed for several hours. (Click on the player at left for a full report). Indian officials managed to restore power several hours later, but at 1:05 p.m. Tuesday the northern grid collapsed again, said Shailendre Dubey, an official at the Uttar Pradesh Power Corp. in India’s largest state. About the same time, the eastern grid failed as well, said S.K. Mohanty, a power official in the eastern state of Orissa. The two grids serve about half India’s population.

 

 

Traffic lights went out across New Delhi. The city’s Metro rail system, which serves about 1.8 million people a day, immediately shut down for the second day in a row. Police said they managed to evacuate Delhi’s busy Barakhamba Road station in under half an hour before closing the shutters.

 

S.K. Jain, 54, said he was on his way to file his income tax return when the Metro closed and now would almost certainly miss the deadline.

 

The new power failure affected people across 13 states — more than the entire population of the European Union. They raised concerns about India’s outdated infrastructure and its insatiable appetite for energy that the government has been unable to meet.

 

India’s demand for electricity has soared along with its economy in recent years, but utilities have been unable to meet the growing needs. India’s Central Electricity Authority reported power deficits of more than 8 percent in recent months.

 

The power deficit was worsened by a weak monsoon that lowered hydroelectric generation and kept temperatures higher, further increasing electricity usage as people seek to cool off.

 

But any connection to the grid remains a luxury for many. One-third of India’s households do not even have electricity to power a light bulb, according to last year’s census.

Syria defeats NATO’s swarming terrorists

Syria defeats NATO’s swarming terrorists

PressTV

Armed rebels clash with Syrian government forces in the center of Syria

Armed rebels clash with Syrian government forces in the center of Syria’s restive northern city of Aleppo. (File photo)

 

Last week, the NATO powers launched their long-awaited summer offensive against Syria. This was a multi-pronged effort designed not just to overthrow the government of President Assad, but also to totally disintegrate the existing structures of the Syrian state, dissolving the entire country into chaos, confusion, secession, attempted coups d’état, and a likely massacre of Assad backers, Alawites, Christians, Kurds, and other minority groups.

This assault peaked between July 18 and July 21. Almost a week later, all indications suggest that Assad, the Baath party, and the Syrian state have proven to be much stronger than the NATO planners had imagined, and that the imperialist attack has been defeated for the time being.
The easiest way for NATO to destroy independent Syria would be to obtain a UN Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone, a bombing campaign, and incursions by special forces, many of them sent by Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the other reactionary Gulf monarchies. But this path has been blocked by the courageous resistance of Russia and China. Another method would be to form a coalition of the willing outside of the United Nations and proceed to the attack, as was done in the cases of Serbia and Iraq. But, with Russian President Vladimir Putin reasserting Russia’s support for Syria, this method poses the risk of Russian and Chinese retaliation in ways which the Anglo-Americans might find extremely painful. Therefore, NATO created a multi-layered strategy to subvert and destroy the Syrian state using covert action below the threshold of bombing and invasion, although including out special forces and espionage.

The signal to activate the assembled capabilities was given by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on July 8, when she warned Damascus that little time remained to avoid a “catastrophic assault” capable of destroying the Syrian state. This is exactly what was attempted last week.

First, NATO attempted to isolate Syria by interrupting communications with its traditional ally, Iran. According to the Wall Street Journal of July 23, the United States in particular has exerted pressure on the government of Iraq to deny overflight permission for flights between Syria and Iran through Iraqi airspace. An official US diplomatic demarche delivered in Baghdad demanded that such flights be banned. At the same time, pressure was exerted on the government of Egypt to violate the international status of the Suez Canal by preventing the transit of Iranian ships allegedly headed for Syrian ports. But these efforts have yielded only mixed results, according to this account.
The main diplomatic thrust of the destabilization effort was yet another UN Security Council resolution opening the door to Chapter Seven economic sanctions and military attack on Syria. This transparent bid for a general war in the Middle East was duly vetoed by Russia and China, while Pakistan and South Africa abstained despite US pressure. United States Ambassador to the UN Susan E. Rice became hysterical, raving that the Russian Federation was “pitiful,” “dangerous,” and “deplorable” after she lost the vote. Hillary Clinton had previously branded Russia as “despicable” and “intolerable.” One imagines these charming ladies chewing the carpet as Hitler reportedly did during the run-up to the Munich conference of September 1938.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov correctly described the US diplomatic posture as “justifying terrorism.” According to Lavrov, the US stance amounted to, “We will continue to support terrorist attacks until the Security Council does what we want.” It would now be in order for Russia and China to propose a Security Council resolution condemning the United States and its allies for giving material support to terrorism.
The most dramatic single episode of the assault was an apparent explosion on Wednesday, July 18 in one of the main Syrian government buildings which killed Defense Minister Rajha (the top Christian in the government), crisis management director Turkmani, and Assef Shawkat, a military intelligence expert and brother-in-law of President Assad. Interior Minister Shaar was reported wounded, and national security director Ikhtiyar succumbed later to injuries. Western media were quick to gloat, attributing the explosion to a suicide bomber recruited from inside one of the key ministries, but this may reflect an attempt to launch a variation of Operation Splinter Factor among top officials. Other hypotheses include a rocket fired from a US drone. Thierry Meyssan has reported that the explosion was detonated from inside the US Embassy, which is nearby.

The goal of this attack was clearly the decapitation of the Syrian military and security forces, and of the Syrian state overall. But thanks to the fact that President Assad was not involved, Syria was able to maintain continuity of government and a functioning command structure, which quickly recovered from this staggering blow. Within hours, replacements for the slain officials had been nominated and announced to the public, and a reshuffling of top jobs continued for several days. If NATO had prepared a coup d’état to fill the void, there is no indication that it ever got off the ground.

So far, the NATO attack on Syria has depended mainly on Salvadoran-style death squads composed mainly of foreign fighters, including al-Qaeda and similar groups, some of which had originated as part of the US counterinsurgency effort in Iraq in 2005, during the tenure in Baghdad of US Ambassador John Negroponte. One of Negroponte’s disciples, Ambassador Robert Ford, was present in Damascus during the pre-2011 preparation of the current assault.
But, given the inability of the numerically weak death squads to capture and hold even a single town or village, to say nothing of a region of the country, it was decided to recruit and deploy an entirely new echelon of foreign fighters from all over North Africa and the Middle East. These were necessarily mercenaries, fanatics, convicts, and adventurers whose military training and weaponry would be inferior even to those of fighters deployed by NATO so far.

Their task was to implement a strategy of swarming. In military terms, swarming is the attempt to overwhelm an opponent by a rapid series of attacks from loosely coordinated autonomous groups. Quantity trumps quality. Many thousands of additional fighters were shipped in by NATO; Meyssan puts their numbers between 40,000 and 60,000, but this may be excessive. They crossed Syrian borders with Jordan, Turkey, Lebanon, and Iraqi Kurdistan. The fighters themselves came from Libya, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, and other countries. As they entered Syria from foreign territory, the fighters seized temporary control of several border crossings, a fact much-hyped by the Western press.

The premise of this irregular assault had been the wishful notion that resistance by the Syrian army would collapse. But the Fourth Armored division, the Republican Guard, and other key units held fast. This left the foreign fighters as sitting ducks in vulnerable positions they could not hope to defend. As of this writing, the foreign fighters have been largely mopped up in Damascus, and another large concentration in Aleppo appears to be surrounded and destined for annihilation. NATO’s pool of cannon fodder has thus been sharply depleted.

To spread the idea that Syrian resistance had collapsed and that further resistance against NATO was futile, Ben Rhodes of the Obama White House, the US ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Saudi Prince Bandar, and other officials had also prepared a campaign of psychological media warfare and video fakery. Syrian state television, al Adounia, and other pro-Syrian broadcasters were to be denied access to Nilesat and Arabsat, and their signals replaced by fake programming generated by the CIA, including with movie sets and Potemkin villages in the Gulf monarchies. But this plan had been revealed many weeks in advance, notably by Meyssan. Accordingly, loyal Syrian broadcasters prepared their audience with public service announcements about what was coming, and how to receive genuine programming.

Programming on Nilesat and Arabsat was in fact repeatedly interrupted, while the widely hated al Jazeera of Qatar and Saudi al Arabiya reported that Assad had fled. But few were fooled by the crude NATO substitutes, so shock and awe fell flat. A NATO plan to organize a panic run on the Syrian currency, contributing a further dimension of economic and logistical chaos, also fell short.
As it became clear that the anti-government forces trapped in Damascus were being decimated, King Abdullah of Jordan began harping on the danger that Syrian chemical weapons might be used or get out of control – an established meme of NATO propaganda. NATO was clearly still looking for a pretext to attack, but the eleven Russian warships assigned to Tartus and the eastern Mediterranean left that approach fraught with peril.
A danger is also emerging for the reactionary feudal monarchs who are NATO’s main allies in the Middle East. Partly as a result of NATO’s incessant pro-democracy rhetoric, the ferment of social protest is now widespread in Saudi Arabia, surely one of the countries most vulnerable to a mass upsurge. On July 22, an explosion occurred at the headquarters of the Saudi intelligence service in Riyadh, killing the deputy director. The target may also have been Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who had just been named intelligence boss, and who is deeply implicated in the Syrian events. Was this somebody’s payback? More importantly, might this attack become the trigger for a mass movement in Saudi Arabia powerful enough to threaten the feudal-reactionary dynasty and the power of the infamous Sudairi clan?
WGT/GHN

Born in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, 1946, Dr. Webster Griffin Tarpley is a philosopher of history who seeks to provide the programs and strategies needed to overcome the current world crisis. As an activist historian he first became widely known for his book George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography (1992), a masterpiece of research which is still a must read.

UN convoy attacked in Syria

[Master Ban says it is unacceptable that Syria is using all of the tools in its security tool box to eliminate the foreign terrorist armies which have infiltrated to bring down the government.—ANOTHER MORON leading us!  No wonder the world is so screwed-up when every known government official is either a blithering idiot, or a Machiavellian plotter.  A Hearty Cheers to President Assad!!  I hope he cleans the floors with America’s mercenaries.]

UN convoy attacked in Syria

File picture of a United Nations convoy in Damascus, Syria (AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA) 

 

UNITED NATIONS: A UN convoy carrying unarmed observers came under attack in Syria, but none were injured, UN chief Ban Ki-moon told reporters Monday.
The five-vehicle convoy which was carrying UN mission chief General Babacar Gaye came under small arms fire near the protest city of Homs, a UN peacekeeping spokeswoman said.
"Fortunately there were no injuries," Ban told reporters as he announced the attack on Sunday.
The convoy was at the village of Talbisa, traveling from the protest city of Homs when one vehicle was hit by three bullets and another by one bullet, a UN peacekeeping spokeswoman, Josephine Guerrero, told AFP.
"It was an convoy of five vehicles, which was carrying General Gaye, which came under small arms fire," she said.
UN officials said it was not known who had fired the shots.
Gaye told a press conference in Damascus that he had been on his first field visit since his arrival one week ago to take charge of the UN Supervision Mission in Syria (UNSMIS).
He did not mention the shooting incident but told reporters: "During my visit to Homs, I was personally able to witness heavy shelling, from artillery and mortars, ongoing in the neighborhoods of the city."
Ban made a new plea for President Bashar al-Assad to halt the "violent measures" of his forces in Homs and the city of Aleppo, which is the target of a major new assault.
"We are deeply concerned that they are using all sorts, all kinds of heavy equipment, including military airplanes and attack helicopters and heavy weaponry. This is an unacceptable situation," Ban said. "The situation is getting worse and worse."

Romney Waxes Whimsical Over Jewish Economic “Vitality” Compared To “Stark Difference” of Palestinians

[It is statements like the gaffe below, which so clearly illustrate just how “out of it” Romney really is.  His comparison of Palestinian vs Israeli incomes is obscene, despite the fact that his figures are way off the mark.  He doesn’t know or acknowledge the weight of the Israeli “Gestapo” boot on the Palestinian necks.  Beyond that, he is blind to the truth about the Jewish people and money–they are inseparable.  Wherever Jews reside, money naturally piles-up around them…go figure.  If the upcoming election has been decided in Romney’s favor then we will actually have somebody even dumber than Dubya with his finger now on the button.  Since there is nothing that can be done to take the power away from the deciders, then, how does it feel to know that we are not here to “change things for the better” after all, but to simply be witnesses when it all finally goes down the drain?] 

Sheldon Adelson

Romney comments at fundraiser outrage Palestinians

By KARIN LAUB, Associated Press

 

JERUSALEM (AP) — Mitt Romney told Jewish donors Monday that their culture is part of what has allowed them to be more economically successful than the Palestinians, outraging Palestinian leaders who suggested his comments were racist and out of touch with the realities of the Middle East. His campaign later said his remarks were mischaracterized.

“As you come here and you see the GDP per capita, for instance, in Israel which is about $21,000, and compare that with the GDP per capita just across the areas managed by the Palestinian Authority, which is more like $10,000 per capita, you notice such a dramatically stark difference in economic vitality,” the Republican presidential candidate told about 40 wealthy donors who ate breakfast at the luxurious King David Hotel.

Romney said some economic histories have theorized that “culture makes all the difference.”

“And as I come here and I look out over this city and consider the accomplishments of the people of this nation, I recognize the power of at least culture and a few other things,” Romney said, citing an innovative business climate, the Jewish history of thriving in difficult circumstances and the “hand of providence.” He said similar disparity exists between neighboring countries, like Mexico and the United States.

Palestinian reaction to Romney was swift and pointed.

“It is a racist statement and this man doesn’t realize that the Palestinian economy cannot reach its potential because there is an Israeli occupation,” said Saeb Erekat, a senior aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

“It seems to me this man lacks information, knowledge, vision and understanding of this region and its people,” Erekat added. “He also lacks knowledge about the Israelis themselves. I have not heard any Israeli official speak about cultural superiority.”

As criticism mounted while Romney traveled to Poland, campaign spokeswoman Andrea Saul said: “His comments were grossly mischaracterized.” The Republican’s campaign contends Romney’s comparison of countries that are close to each other and have wide income disparities — the U.S. and Mexico, Chile and Ecuador — shows his comments were broader than just the comparison between Israel and Palestine.

While speaking to U.S. audiences, Romney often highlights culture as a key to economic success and emphasizes the power of the American entrepreneurial spirit compared to the values of other countries. But his decision to highlight cultural differences in a region where such differences have helped fuel violence for generations raises new questions about the former businessman’s diplomacy skills.

As he has at home, Romney in Jerusalem cited a book titled, “Guns, Germs and Steel,” that suggests the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there.

“And you look at Israel and you say you have a hard time suggesting that all of the natural resources on the land could account for all the accomplishment of the people here,” Romney said, before citing another book, “The Wealth and Poverty of Nations,” by former Harvard professor David Landes.

This book, Romney said in Jerusalem, concludes that “if you could learn anything from the economic history of the world it’s this: Culture makes all the difference. Culture makes all the difference.”

The economic disparity between the Israelis and the Palestinians is actually much greater than Romney stated. Israel had a per capita gross domestic product of about $31,000 in 2011, while the West Bank and Gaza had a per capita GDP of just over $1,500, according to the World Bank.

Romney, seated next to billionaire casino owner Sheldon Adelson at the head of the table, told donors that he had read books and relied on his own business experience to understand why the difference in economic disparity between countries is so great.

His comparison of the two economies did not take into account the stifling effect the Israeli occupation has had on the Palestinian economy in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem — areas Israel captured in 1967 where the Palestinians hope to establish a state.

In the West Bank, Palestinians have only limited self-rule. Israel controls all border crossings in and out of the territory, and continues to restrict Palestinian trade and movement. Israel annexed east Jerusalem in 1967, but has invested much less heavily there than in Jewish west Jerusalem.

And although Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it continues to control access and has enforced a crippling border blockade since the Islamic militant Hamas seized the territory in 2007.

It’s true that Israel has logged tremendous achievements, said Abraham Diskin, a political science professor at the Inter-Disciplinary Center outside of Tel Aviv. But “you can understand this remark in several ways,” he added. “You can say it’s anti-Semitic. ‘Jews and money.'”

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund repeatedly have said that the Palestinian economy can only grow if Israel lifts those restrictions.

“It’s Israeli occupiers and Palestinians under occupation, and that’s why Palestinians cannot realize their potential,” Erekat said.

The breakfast with top donors — including Adelson, New York Jets owner Woody Johnson and hedge fund manager Paul Singer — concluded Romney’s visit to Israel, the second leg of a three-nation overseas tour designed to bolster his foreign policy credentials.

Standing on Israeli soil for the first time as the GOP’s presumptive presidential nominee, Romney on Sunday declared Jerusalem to be the capital of Israel and said the U.S. has promised never to “look away from our passion and commitment to Israel.”

The status of Jerusalem is a critical issue in peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

In Israel, Romney did not meet with Abbas or visit the West Bank. He met briefly with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

Romney’s campaign says the trip, which began in England last week, is aimed at improving the former Massachusetts governor’s foreign policy experience through a series of meetings with foreign leaders. The candidate has largely avoided direct criticism of U.S. President Barack Obama while on foreign soil.

The Jerusalem fundraiser, however, was a political event that raised more than $1 million for Romney’s campaign. It marks at least the second finance event during his tour. The first, in London, attracted about 250 people to a $2,500-per-person fundraiser.

Both presidential candidates have aggressively courted American donors living abroad, a practice that is legal and has been used for decades.

Romney’s declaration that Jerusalem is Israel’s capital was in keeping with claims made by Israeli governments for decades, even though the United States, like other nations, maintains its embassy in Tel Aviv.

His remarks on the subject during a speech drew a standing ovation from the audience, which included Adelson, the American businessman who has promised to donate more than $100 million to help defeat Obama.

Adelson was among a several donors who flew to Israel for a day of sightseeing with Romney in addition to private meetings with top Israeli officials.

Romney flew to the Middle East from Britain, where he caused a stir by questioning whether officials there were fully prepared for the Olympic Games. A stop in Poland will complete his trip.

Four years ago, Obama visited Israel as a presidential candidate, part of a five-nation trip meant to establish his own foreign policy credentials.

A goal of Romney’s overseas trip is to demonstrate his confidence on the world stage, but the stop in Israel also was designed to appeal to evangelical voters at home and cut into Obama’s support among Jewish voters and donors. A Gallup survey of Jewish voters released Friday showed Obama with a 68-25 edge over Romney.

Romney and other Republicans have said Obama is insufficiently supportive of Israel.

Associated Press writers Amy Teibel in Jerusalem and Steve Peoples in Washington contributed to this report.