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EU launches new ‘single resource’ website to counter ‘Russian propaganda’

RT | September 12, 2017

An EU agency, specifically tasked with fighting what the West terms ‘Russia propaganda,’ has launched its new website to provide Europeans with “a single resource” to “enlighten” them about alleged “pro-Kremlin propaganda.”

The site was launched in English, German and Russian. It’s part of the ongoing “EU vs disinformation” campaign waged by the EU’s East Stratcom Task Force.

“Today we launch our new website http://www.euvsdisinfo.eu, providing you with a single resource on addressing the challenge of pro-Kremlin disinformation,” a statement on the website says.

“This website is part of a campaign to better forecast, address and respond to pro-Kremlin disinformation,” it says further.

The webpage features a “searchable database of disinformation cases” and “interactive statistics” on the number of alleged disinformation cases, as well as on countries that are most frequently mentioned in what is perceived as “pro-Kremlin propaganda.”

Even though a disclaimer on the page says the Disinformation Review “focuses on key messages carried in the international information space, which have been identified as providing a partial, distorted or false view or interpretation and/or spreading key pro-Kremlin messaging,” it seems to be focusing solely on the latter.

The group also runs pages on Facebook and Twitter that are also aimed at revealing “manipulation and disinformation in pro-Kremlin media.” Its Facebook page called “EU vs Disinformation” was created in June 2016 while its “EU Mythbusters” Twitter page has been active since November 2015.

Both social media pages use a slogan that bears a striking resemblance to RT’s “Question More” catchphrase. “Don’t be deceived. Question even more,” it reads.

The East Stratcom Task Force was formed as part of the European External Action Service (EEAS) in early 2015 to tackle what the EU perceives as Russian propaganda. The EU said the group was tasked with countering disinformation about the Union and its policies in the “Russian language space.”

The EU’s “eastern European partners” – the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine – were designated as their target audience.

In early 2017, the group received extra personnel and additional funding. The move came ahead of national elections in several European countries, including France, the Netherlands and Germany.

In November 2016, the European Parliament also adopted a non-legislative resolution which called for the EU to “respond to information warfare by Russia” and listed RT and the Sputnik news agency as one of the most dangerous “tools of hostile propaganda.”

Written by a Polish member of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) group, Anna Fotyga, the report alleged that Moscow aims to “distort the truth, provoke doubt, divide the EU and its North American partners, paralyze the decision-making process, discredit the EU institutions and incite fear and uncertainty among EU citizens.”

The document went even further, placing Russian media organizations alongside terrorist groups such as Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL).

President Vladimir Putin said at the time that the EU Parliament’s resolution demonstrates “political degradation” in regard to the “idea of democracy” in the West.

The move was also criticized by the Russian envoy to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, who said the EU tries to “erase the perception of Russia as an indispensable part of the European civilization from the public conscience” and to “create a wall of alienation and mistrust between our peoples.”

September 12, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

‘Russia set to fund railway line between Iran, Azerbaijan’

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Press TV – July 3, 2016

Russia is reportedly poised to finance a railway line connecting Iran with its northern neighbor Azerbaijan.

According to Tasnim news agency, head of the press service of Azerbaijan Railways OJSC Nadir Azmammadov, has said that Russian Railways OJSC has discussed the terms of its participation in the financing of the Rasht-Astara (Iran)-Astara (Azerbaijan) railway with the related parties in the Azeri capital, Baku.

The report said representatives of the railways of Azerbaijan, Iran and Russia attended the talks in which the Azeri side informed the partners about the projects and tasks ahead.

Baku believes the international transport corridor will improve Azerbaijan’s transit potential as well as its ties with the other two countries.

Participants in the talks reportedly signed a final protocol.

The trilateral railway project is aimed at connecting Northern Europe with Southeast Asia.

The railway line will initially transport five million tonnes of cargo when it is launched in the near future.

Last November, Iran and Russia signed an agreement worth 1.2 billion euros to electrify a train line, linking north-central Iran to the northeastern border with Turkmenistan.

The agreement signed between Russian Railways and the Islamic Republic of Iran Railways (RAI) envisages constructing power stations and overhead power lines along the Garmsar-Sari-Gorgan-Inche Burun route in Iran.

“The implementation of the contract will improve the capacity of passenger trains and raise transit to 8 million tonnes,” said RAI Managing Director Mohsen Poursaeed-Aqaei who signed the document.

The train line, among the first in Iran with a history of 80 years, extends to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan and links the Central Asia to the Persian Gulf and beyond.

The project was also set to be financed by the Russian government and would be implemented in 36 months, which includes manufacturing all electric locomotives inside Iran, electrifying 495 kilometers of railway and building 32 stations and 95 tunnels.

July 3, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

Azerbaijan to perform military drills with Turkey, Georgia

Press TV – May 15, 2016

The Republic of Azerbaijan has declared joint military drills with Turkey and Georgia, a move which is likely to increase tensions with neighboring Armenia prior to talks with Yerevan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh.

“To increase the combat capabilities and combat readiness of the Azerbaijan, Turkey and Georgia, we deemed it worthwhile to carry out joint military exercises,” Azerbaijan’s Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov said on Sunday, without specifying when the exercises would be carried out.

At least 46 people have been killed since April 1, when fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Karabakh.

On Friday, Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry said an Azeri soldier had been killed by Armenian fire on Thursday.

On the Armenian side, a serviceman died of wounds on Saturday after reportedly being targeted by an Azeri sniper near southwestern Armenian border.

On April 3, Baku announced a “unilateral” ceasefire as a gesture of goodwill, warning, however, that it would strike back if its forces came under attack. Bouts of fighting were reported soon afterward.

The landlocked Karabakh region, which is located in the Azerbaijan Republic but is populated by Armenians, has been under the control of local ethnic Armenian militia and Armenian troops since a three-year war, which claimed over 30,000 lives, ended between the two republics in 1994 through mediation by Russia.

The presidents of the Republic of Azerbaijan and Armenia, as well as diplomats from Russia, the US and France, are to meet in the Austrian capital of Vienna on Monday to discuss the situation in the volatile Nagorno-Karabakh.

May 15, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

What’s Israel’s Role in the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict?

Sputnik – April 17, 2016

With the decades-long Azeri-Armenian conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region burning out of control for four intense, blood-soaked days at the beginning of this month, questions have emerged over the secretive role played by Israel in the conflict.

Late last week, commenting on the recent escalation of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, former Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman blamed Armenia for provoking four days of clashes which left over a hundred dead and dozens wounded.

Azerbaijan, Lieberman said, had “no reasons for escalating the conflict,” despite extensive reports confirming that Azerbaijan was the party that launched offensive operations to regain control of territory in the Armenia-backed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

For its part, the Azeri Defense Ministry called the operation, which resulted in the taking of several strategic heights and settlements, a successful ‘counteroffensive’ launched in response to Armenian shelling.

Lieberman’s words would be echoed by retired Israel Defense Forces general Ephraim Sneh, who emphasized in a Friday op-ed for Al-Monitor that Azerbaijan is Israel’s “strategic ally,” and that at the moment, Baku “needs all the diplomatic help [Israel] can muster.”

Sneh slammed Tel Aviv for “staying silent” in Baku’s hour of need, explaining that Azerbaijan is one of Israel’s only friends in the Islamic world, and adding that Israel needs Azerbaijan to ensure its energy security, with Baku providing the Jewish State with some 40% of its oil.

Russia’s mediation of the conflict, Sneh suggested, has been disastrous for Baku, with the “status quo” that emerged in 1994 following the six-year war which began in the late 1980s “convenient for everyone, except for Azerbaijan.”

Blaming Armenia for violations of the ceasefire (and absolving the Azeris of their own violations), Sneh candidly admitted that Baku started the latest bloodshed, and suggested that Azerbaijan’s challenging of the status quo may actually work in its favor.

Saying that the current Moscow-brokered ceasefire, is “tenuous at best and not expected to last long,” the general says that he is hopeful that “now that Azerbaijan has proved its military superiority, there is a chance for real diplomatic negotiations that could lead to an agreement between the two countries,” i.e. for the ethnically Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic to give its territory. In this sense, Sneh says, the Azeris could take a lesson from Tel Aviv and negotiate according to a formula of “land for peace,” which Israel used in the late 1970s in negotiations with Egypt to return the Sinai Peninsula.

This time, Sneh argues, the Azeris should do the same, but in reverse, promising Armenia peace in exchange for Nagorno-Karabakh. “Armenia’s weak economy could stand to benefit from such an agreement.” Moreover, “improved economic relations with Turkey are just one important economic benefit that Armenia can be assured of as soon as it withdraws from the occupied Azeri territories.””Meanwhile, Azerbaijan needs much more robust diplomatic support than it is receiving today.” Unfortunately, Sneh complains, Baku hasn’t been getting it from Israel.

But just how silent has Tel Aviv actually been?

To begin with, hints of the extensive military cooperation between the two countries emerged in the first days of the conflict, indicating that Israeli ‘suicide drones’ were being used by Azeri forces in the course of their offensive. The Harop unmanned aerial vehicle, which acts as a ‘kamikaze’ capable of destroying targets by ramming into them, is produced by Israeli Aerospace Industries (IAI).

According to French intelligence newsletter Intelligence Online, in addition to drones, Israel also provides Baku with advanced radar systems, control and command posts, and other intelligence-collection equipment, and has even entered a bid to provide Baku with a $150 million observation satellite.

Israel has refused to confirm or deny its sale of drones, or other weaponry, to Azerbaijan. However, Meretz party chairwoman Zehava Galon came out publicly warning that Israel intends to send more drones to Baku. In a letter addressed to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Galon urged that the Israeli government should stop weapons deliveries to the Azeris until it could be assured that Baku would halt the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.

At the same time, Israeli security and intelligence specialist Yossi Melman says that Israel has a massive, but highly secretive, defense footprint in Azerbaijan.

In his analysis for The Jerusalem Post, Melman explained that Israel and Azerbaijan enjoy annual trade which is “$5 billion larger than between Israel and France.” Moreover, he said, “most of the content remains confidential, and consists of Azeri oil sold to Israel and Israeli weapons and intelligence technologies purchased by Azerbaijan.”

From modest beginnings in the early 1990s, Azerbaijan has grown to become “the second-biggest market in Asia, after India, for Israeli weapons,” with Israeli defense companies enjoying literally billions of dollars in sales in the Caucasian state. At the same time, Melman indicates, “the best promoters of the military sales and ties are Israeli ministers and officials who visit the Caucasian nation.”

“This week,” the analyst recalls, “The Washington Post enabled the world to have a peeping window into the secret relations [between the two countries] when it published a photo of an Israeli-made ‘suicidal drone’ exploding itself on a bus leading Armenian combatants to the front lines. Seven people were killed, and the Armenian government protested to Israel.”

“A few days after the incident, military journalists visited Israeli Aerospace Industries facilities and were briefed on the various products, from drones to satellites, which the company has to offer. An IAI spokeswoman was asked if the company was behind the Washington Post revelation. She refused to answer but openly smiled when one reporter commented that such a photo is good for business and promotes sales of products that can be labeled ‘battle proven’.”

In addition to military ties, Melman notes that the two countries also have strong intelligence ties, with Mossad given permission to set up a large station in Azerbaijan, taking advantage of the region’s geography to run operations throughout the North Caucasus.

Both Russian and Iranian officials have previously accused Azerbaijan of allowing Mossad to use their territory for espionage activities, the latter indicating that the Israeli missions included everything from “recruiting and planting agents,” to “communication interception and aerial reconnaissance,” Melman explained. Moreover, he added, “more than a year ago Iran claimed to have shot down an Israeli-made drone,” claims which Israeli officials have refused to comment on.

Pointing to the secretive nature of political, defense and intelligence cooperation between the two countries, the analyst noted that “it was [Azeri President Ilham] Alieyev himself who was quoted in a WikiLeaks cable sent from the US Embassy in Baku [saying] that ‘bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Israel are like an iceberg. Nine-tenths are below the surface.'”

Ultimately, Melmen notes, “seemingly, Israel and Azerbaijan are an odd couple, not meant to be with each other,” with the Caucasian nation not really serving as a model of Western democracy, being run by the same family since 1991, and facing issues including corruption and the suppression of free media. “On the other hand, Israel is not too selective in choosing friends when it comes to weapons sales and national interests. A quick look at the map,” showing that Azerbaijan borders Iran, Israel’s sworn enemy, “can explain Israeli priorities.”

Read more:

Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis Could Get Messy If New Arms Suppliers Emerge

Turkey Claims Azerbaijan ‘Patient’ Over Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Armenia Rejects Israeli Proposal on Arms Purchase – Defense Minister

April 18, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

Azerbaijan’s President Thanks Russia for Deescalating Karabakh Conflict

Sputnik – 08.04.2016

BAKU – Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev thanked Russia on Friday for its efforts in deescalating the conflict in the de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic during a meeting with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

“Your visit comes amid the deterioration of the situation in the zone of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Unfortunately, for many years we haven’t been able to find a solution there, periodically we are faced with armed provocations of the Armenian side. Another attempt was made in the beginning of this month,” Aliyev said.

“As a result of the efforts a truce has been restored, although it is not always observed, but in general over the last few days, we’ve seen deescalation, and we believe that this is a positive sign,” Alyiev said.

Medvedev said he hopes for long-lasting peace in Karabakh.

“I hope that the peace established at this moment will be long-lasting and the parties will continue discussions on the settlement at the negotiating table,” Medvedev said.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Nagorno-Karabakh and the Passover Feast: Hollywood’s Glorification of the Arms Trade

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David Packouz (L) and Efraim Diveroli
By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | April 7, 2016

From Ukraine to North Africa to the Middle East, and most recently in the Caucasus with the outbreak of hostilities between Azerbaijan and Armenia, death and destruction are on the prowl in multiple wars, while at the same time international laws governing armed conflict are rapidly being cast onto the rubbish heap.

Many of these wars have been instigated by powers outside the countries in which they are being fought, and the tide of violence threatening to engulf the world now is unprecedented in history. You would think that at such a time, Hollywood would have better taste than to make a movie glorifying the arms trade.

But of course, you would be wrong.

Scheduled for release in August, “War Dogs” is based on the real life story of Efraim Diveroli and David Packouz, two twenty-something Jews who got involved in the arms trade and ended up bidding on Pentagon contracts, in the process scoring deals to supply weapons, ammo, and other military equipment to forces the US was arming in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Their story was told in a 2011 Rolling Stone article which detailed their passion for money-making, recreational drug use, and their predilection for shady business dealings. “Packouz and Diveroli met at Beth Israel Congregation, the largest Orthodox synagogue in Miami Beach,” the story informs us, and then goes on to describe how they landed some lucrative contracts, including one worth $300 million, all while operating a small company known as AEY, a shell company Diveroli’s father had set up. All of this was in the years 2005-2007.

For decades, weapons had been stockpiled in warehouses throughout the Balkans and Eastern Europe for the threat of war against the West, but now arms dealers were selling them off to the highest bidder. The Pentagon needed access to this new aftermarket to arm the militias it was creating in Iraq and Afghanistan. The trouble was, it couldn’t go into such a murky underworld on its own. It needed proxies to do its dirty work — companies like AEY. The result was a new era of lawlessness…

One evening, Diveroli picked Packouz up in his Mercedes, and the two headed to a party at a local rabbi’s house, lured by the promise of free booze and pretty girls. Diveroli was excited about a deal he had just completed, a $15 million contract to sell old Russian-manufactured rifles to the Pentagon to supply the Iraqi army. He regaled Packouz with the tale of how he had won the contract, how much money he was making and how much more there was to be made….

Diveroli, by the way, is the nephew of celebrity rabbi Shmuley Boteach, a staunch supporter of Israel and author of several books, including one entitled “Kosher Sex”–a book in which he “breaks down sexual taboos” while  pioneering “a revolutionary approach to sex, marriage, and personal relationships, drawing on traditional Jewish wisdom.” Boteach has also run inflammatory ads in the New York Times defending Israel, and in 2012 was bankrolled by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson in an unsuccessful campaign for Congress.

So in other words, while Boteach was doing the TV talk show circuit advising Americans how to improve their sex lives, his nephew Diveroli was finding his niche in the “murkey underworld” of arms trafficking.

Above all, Diveroli cared about the bottom line. “Efraim was a Republican because they started more wars,” Packouz says. “When the United States invaded Iraq, he was thrilled. He said to me, ‘Do I think George Bush did the right thing for the country by invading Iraq? No. But am I happy about it? Absofuckinglutely.’ He hoped we would invade more countries because it was good for business.”

The big $300 million deal they landed found them purchasing stocks of Chinese-made ammunition in the Balkans and transporting them to Afghanistan, but a US embargo against Chinese weapons meant the whole thing had to be carried out clandestinely. The ammo was repackaged in cardboard boxes with no Chinese lettering. But some of the ammo was quite old, a number of the crates were infested with termites, and the two ended up being indicted for fraud and pleading guilty. And now we have a forthcoming Hollywood movie about their endogamic escapades.

It’s tempting to dismiss “War Dogs” as just another piece of Hollywood trash, but of course it comes as millions are coping with the destruction of homes and lives in the bogus war on terror and as whole nations are being torn apart. In Syria, the US has aligned itself with so-called “moderate” rebels, equipping them with vast stocks of weapons, many of which have ended up in the hands of ISIS, while in Yemen, we have assisted Saudi Arabia in an air campaign which, as of January 2016, had resulted in 2,795 killed and 5,324 wounded.  At least 62 civilians were killed by coalition airstrikes in December alone, reports the UN, which was more than twice the number killed in the previous month. Many others have been left homeless.

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A girl drinks from a leaking street pipe in Yemen, where millions now have no access to drinking water

But this hasn’t stopped the US from continuing to fuel the fire, so to speak. According to Defense News, the State Department has facilitated $33 billion worth of weapons sales to its Arab Gulf allies since May of 2015. The weapons–including anti-armor missiles, attack helicopters, and ballistic missile defense capabilities–have been sold to the six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC. These would of course be some of the same countries that have been supplying arms to ISIS while also carrying out war crimes in Yemen.

“In addition, the U.S. government and industry also delivered 4,500 precision-guided munitions to the GCC countries in 2015, including 1,500 taken directly from U.S. military stocks — a significant action given our military’s own needs,” said David McKeeby, a spokesman with the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs.

How much of this ordnance may have ended up in the hands of not-so-moderate terrorists is unclear, but in December of 2015, Amnesty International published a report entitled “Taking Stock: The Arming of the Islamic State,” which found that the terrorist army “now deploys a substantial arsenal of arms and ammunition, designed or manufactured in more than 25 countries.”

A lot of this was looted or captured from poorly secured Iraqi military stocks, says the report, but illicit weapons transactions also seem to have played a considerable role in building up the ISIS arsenal–and some of the “chain of custody” evidence cited in the report, including a cache of weapons transferred from Croatia to the Free Syrian Army, sounds almost eerily similar to the sort of shady weapons trafficking operation run by Packouz and Diveroli.

Of course there is the old adage about art imitating life, and, on some level the fact that Hollywood would make a film about two Jews and then go on to entitle it “War Dogs” is perhaps not surprising. This, keep in mind, coming at a time when evidence of Israel’s support for terrorists in Syria is as clear as the hand in front of your face. And of course who could forget the lovable Victoria Nuland and her famous “f**k-the-EU” comment, mouthed off at a time when her State Department was busy engineering a coup in Ukraine?

In fact, efforts by Zionist Jews to create instability and instigate wars are getting to be about as common as fireflies on a summer night. They’re not always easy to spot, but you know they’re out there because they occasionally involuntarily light up, as when someone like Nuland gets caught in a taped phone conversation.

And now it looks like certain fireflies have moved into the Caucasus where they seem to be taking advantage of a long-simmering dispute between Azerbaijan and Armenia over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. On April 2, intense fighting broke out followed by a series of charges, counter-charges, claims and counterclaims, made by both sides. According to the Armenians, it started with an offensive launched by Azerbaijani troops using tanks and artillery. Azerbaijan, on the other hand, insists it was responding to large-caliber weapons fire from inside the ethnic Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh area. So who is telling the truth? Or are both sides lying?

Hard to say for sure, but a couple of knowns are worth mentioning: A) Armenia is closely allied with Russia, and, B) Azerbaijan, too, has ties, including trade ties, with Russia, but it also is closely aligned with Turkey and maintains extensive trade relations with Israel. And the trade with Israel has been especially heavy in the area of military procurement.

Israeli drones, anti-aircraft and missile defense systems have been supplied to Azerbaijan in the wake of a $1.6 billion agreement struck between the two countries in 2012. Israeli companies are also active in the Azerbaijani telecommunications, agriculture, water supply medical technology, and energy sectors. That makes for a lot of sayanim on the ground inside a relatively small country.

Perhaps no surprise, then, that Armenian forces shot down an Israeli drone on April 2–the very day hostilities broke out.

The ThunderB drone is known for its light weight, 62 pounds, and its long flying time–25.5 hours–on a single tank of fuel. It is made by an Israeli company known as BlueBird, which reportedly may be about to be purchased by Elbit Systems.

And then on Tuesday came news of yet another Israeli drone spotted over Nagorno-Karabakh–this one believed to be a Harop drone, made by Israeli Aerospace Industries. The Harop is also known as a “suicide drone” in that rather than firing a missile at a target it simply becomes the missile itself, ramming the target and destroying it.

According to Gordon Duff, senior editor at Veterans Today, the key to understanding the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict is to recognize “that Azerbaijan is a client state of Israel and the CIA.” He adds that Azerbaijan has as well become “the regional operating center for Google Idea Groups,”  which he refers to as the “shadow CIA.”

Google Ideas was formed in 2010. At that time Google CEO Eric Schmidt tapped the State Department’s Jared Cohen to direct the new venture, dubbed as a “think/do tank.” In late 2015, Google was reorganized under a parent company called Alphabet, Inc., and in February of this year Google Ideas was rebranded as “Jigsaw”–although it is still run by Cohen and still affiliated with Google.

Cohen, by the way, is also an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and during his years with the State Department (2006-2010) he worked closely with Condoleezza Rice and Hillary Clinton, and became a strategic advisor in US policy toward Iran. Jigsaw’s mission is to “use technology to tackle the toughest geopolitical challenges, from countering violent extremism to thwarting online censorship to mitigating the threats associated with digital attacks,” says Schmidt.

Sounds nice, but a purview of Jigsaw’s website–fittingly kind of creepy and dark-looking–suggests that virtually all of the “activists” it has provided support to seem to be from countries with governments the US seeks to overthrow. And indeed, in 2012 Wikileaks released a cache of emails concerning Cohen’s activities in the Middle East, including one, apparently written by Cohen himself, in which he discusses efforts to stir up trouble in Iran:

I wanted to follow-up and get a sense of your latest thinking on the proposed March trip to UAE, Azerbaijan, and Turkey. The purpose of this trip is to exclusively engage the Iranian community to better understand the challenges faced by Iranians as part of one of our Google Ideas groups on repressive societies. Here is what we are thinking: Drive to Azerbaijan/Iranian border and engage the Iranian communities closer to the border (this is important because we need the Azeri Iranian perspective).

So here, it seems, we have Cohen basically setting up shop on the Iran-Azerbaijan border. It should be noted that both Azerbaijan and Armenia border Iran, while Azerbaijan also shares a border with Russia. A conflict breaking out in this region could easily spill over into Russia or Iran–both of which have called for the two warring parties to adhere to a 1994 ceasefire agreement.

But of course, such a spillover would advance certain geopolitical interests. For one thing, it would pose a dilemma for Russia at a time when it is engaged in Syria. Sergei Zheleznyak, vice speaker of the Russian state Duma, has voiced the view that a “third force” is behind developments in Nagorno-Karabakh. According to the Russian News Agency Tass :

“It is clear that the force that continues to fan the flames of war in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Caucasus dissatisfied with the peacekeeping and counter-terror success of Russia and our allies in Syria is interested in the speedy exacerbation of the protracted conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region,” the parliamentarian wrote on his Facebook page on Saturday.

According to Zheleznyak, “neither Azerbaijan nor Armenia essentially need this exacerbation now.” He noted that “there is every likelihood that this provocation has been organized by a third force,” adding that “information on its presence is beginning to leak out.” In view of this, he drew attention to the fact that “at night in the mountains it is enough to have a few trained armed persons who know the opposing sides’ balance of forces to provoke them to open reciprocal ‘reprisal’ fire.”

Most people probably assumed Zheleznyak, in talking about a “third force,” was referring to Turkey–and certainly Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet in Syria factors into the equation. But another element that perhaps figures even more prominently is the “clash of civilizations” that hardcore Zionists have long salivated over the thought of.

We might theorize that ISIS was created with a two-fold objective: one was to break apart Syria and bring about the overthrow of Bashar Assad, while the other was to jockey into existence a clash of civilizations between Christians and Muslims. In both of these objectives it has failed. Assad is still standing, and while the rise of ISIS certainly inflamed anti-Muslim sentiments in the West, it has not resulted in the all-out war between Christianity and Islam that would have played so well into the hands of the Jewish state.

But where the ISIS plan failed, the conflict in the Caucasus could well succeed. Armenia is predominantly a Christian state, while Azerbaijan is mostly Muslim. A war between these two could galvanize public opinion in the region along religious lines. Regional political alignments and the history of the Armenian genocide are also to be considered. Turkey, though sharing a border with Armenia, has openly sided with Azerbaijan. Russia, on the other hand, has remained officially neutral. However, an RT report filed April 5 shows journalist Murad Gazdiev reporting from inside Armenian Karabakh trenches.

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Armenian Genocide–young girls crucified on crosses

So where is Israel in all of this? Officially it doesn’t seem to be saying much about it, but in May of 2015, the Jewish Daily Forward published an article entitled, “Why Israel’s Alliance with Azerbaijan is so Shortsighted.” The writer, Christopher Atamian, takes the Jewish state to task over its refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide as well as for its lucrative arms contract with Azerbaijan, a country he refers to as an “authoritarian regime that is fueling regional conflict.”

“This is the same country that attempted to wipe out the entire Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh in 1991 before losing a bloody war against the Armenians,” he adds.

What he leaves unspoken, of course, is that Israel’s refusal to recognize the Armenian genocide is tantamount to holocaust denial. More than 1.5 million Armenians were massacred from the years 1915 to 1922, and the Jewish state’s silence on the matter became a particularly hot-button issue last year on the genocide’s 100th anniversary.

Zheleznyak, the Duma vice speaker, seems for his own part to be offering sage advice to both parties in the current conflict, noting that Russia’s president as well as its government agencies “urge Armenia and Azerbaijan to cease fire and not to allow to draw them into someone else’s insidious game, as long as it is still possible.”

“As long as it’s still possible” is of course the key question. The more people die, the further recede the possibilities of the regional players not getting trapped or caught up in the “insidious game”–and the greater  grow the chances of the conflict’s becoming the parabolic curve that ignites World War III.

Should that come to pass, maybe Diveroli and Packouz will vie for ringside seats–although it doesn’t appear they’ll especially want to sit next to each other. According to the article in Rolling Stone, the two had a major falling out.

“Listen, dude, if you f**k me, I’m going to f**k you,” one of them warned during an argument over money.

“Whatever,” replied the other.

One wonders why they didn’t name the movie “War Pigs” rather than “War Dogs.” Perhaps it wouldn’t have been kosher enough.

In the past year in Israel we’ve seen an arson attack on a Palestinian home which left a mother, father and their 18-month-old baby dead; we have seen a video of Jewish settlers dancing and celebrating the attack by stabbing a photo of the baby; we have observed continued expropriation of Palestinian land in the West Bank, including one of the biggest land grabs in recent years–579 acres near the Dead Sea; and more recently we have seen a second video showing an Israeli soldier executing a wounded Palestinian with a gunshot to the head.

The execution video showed Israeli soldier Elior Azaria pump a bullet into the head of 21-year-old Abdul Fattah Sharif, as he lay on the ground wounded and barely moving. The murder took place on Purim, the Jewish holiday which celebrates the massacre of thousands of Gentiles, as told of in the Book of Esther. The next holiday on the Jewish calendar is Passover, coming up on April 22-23. The significance of Passover is laid out in twelfth chapter of Exodus:

On that same night I will pass through Egypt and strike down every firstborn–both men and animals–and I will bring judgement on all the gods of Egypt. I am the Lord. The blood will be a sign for you on the houses where you are; and when I see the blood I will pass over you. No destructive plague will touch you when I strike Egypt.

This is a day you are to commemorate; for the generations to come you shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord–a lasting ordinance… And when your children ask you, ‘What does this ceremony mean to you?’ then tell them, ‘It is the Passover sacrifice to the Lord, who passed over the houses of the Israelites in Egypt and spared our homes when he struck down the Egyptians.’

It seems that both Purim and Passover are in essence celebrations of the deaths of non-Jews. Suppose Gentiles observed holidays each year in which we celebrated Jewish deaths? What do you suppose would be said of it?

Whatever one’s views of Judaism may be (there are some admirable sentiments expressed in the Old Testament as well as some repellent ones), Zionism has morphed from the simple idea of a homeland for a specific group of people into a supremacist ideology that has had appalling consequences–not only for its victims but also even for its adherents, dehumanizing them to a degree never thought imaginable.

Zionism is the great Passover feast that has become a celebration of war.

April 8, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Film Review, Mainstream Media, Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Escalated: In Pursuit of Hidden Agenda

By Pyotr ISKENDEROV – Strategic Culture Foundation – 06.04.2016

The sudden aggravation of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh is fraught with serious consequences. The warring sides, as well as the OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe) Minsk Group, have to realize that the situation may get out of hand and entail irreversible consequences against the will of the belligerents.

Armenian First Deputy Defense Minister David Tonoyan said in a statement made at the Sunday (April 3) briefing with foreign defense attaches that Armenia is ready for any scenario as the events unfold, «including direct military assistance to the security of the Nagorno-Karabakh republic».

The statement indicates that things will never be the same as before, especially after Turkey, Pakistan and some other countries have voiced their support for Azerbaijan. Once made public, the statements cannot be taken back. The development of events suggests that some forces pursue a hidden agenda in an effort to unfreeze the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and make the escalation irreversible.

In recent years, the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh worsened from time to time, but it never escalated to large-scale operations involving aviation and heavy equipment. Moreover, decisions to start combat actions can not be taken in absence of state leaders. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s President Serzh Sargsyan were in Washington when the situation escalated overnight on April 2.

The outside factors probably play a much bigger role than it may seem at first glance.

Evidently, some countries, like Russia, for instance, have no interest in the escalation of the conflict in the Caucasus. Moscow plays the leading role in the crisis management efforts. It has always strived for developing mutually beneficial ties with both Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The aggravation of the conflict creates a problem for the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). Unlike Azerbaijan, Armenia is a member of the CSTO, which is to defend it if attacked. But the organization has no obligations to defend the self-proclaimed Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Article 4 of the Treaty states «If an aggression is committed against one of the States Parties by any state or a group of states, it will be considered as an aggression against all the States Parties to this Treaty. In case an act of aggression is committed against any of the States Parties, all the other States Parties will render it necessary assistance, including military one, as well as provide support with the means at their disposal through an exercise of the right to collective defense in accordance with Article 51 of the UN Charter».

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is not covered by the Treaty, but the broad interpretation of its text may lead to misunderstanding inside the CSTO between Russia and Armenia on the one hand, and Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan on the other hand.

Obviously, the bloodshed does not meet the interests of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Nevertheless, outside forces have entered a «window of opportunity» to incite Baku.

Now who gains as a result of Azerbaijan’s involvement in the conflict? There are at least three parties to benefit.

Turkey tops the list. Having suffered a defeat in Syria and in face of growing impact of the Kurdish factor, Erdogan could go as far as sparking the Caucasian hotbed to entangle Russia. His plans may envision provoking a confrontation between the Russian Federation and NATO. If so, he could have given certain assurances and guarantees to Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev during his visit to Turkey on March 15.

Director of US National Intelligence James Clapper warned about possible escalation of the conflict in February.

The information was confirmed by the fact that the air forces of Azerbaijan and Turkey held March 7-25 joint military exercises TurAz Shahini-2016 in the Turkish province of Konya as part of the TurAz Qartali program of military cooperation. The exercises were held in accordance with the annual plan of joint training events that kicked off last September.

The United States, or, to be more precise, the circles in Washington interested in keeping up tensions in the relationship with Moscow, is the second party, which has a stake in the conflict’s flare up. The goal is to weaken the Collective Security Treaty Organization and create snugs on the way of post-Soviet space integration. Sparking a conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh is the best way to do it.

The third party interested in the conflict is the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, especially Qatar. This country has close ties with Turkey. It challenges Saudi Arabia as the leader of the organization. Besides, there are heightened tensions between the Gulf Cooperation Council members and Iran. Iranian Azerbaijanis account for 15-16% of the country’s population. Tehran has had good relations with Erevan ever since early 1990s. Like Russia, it has no interest in inciting the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Qatar and Turkey enjoy special relationship. They are known for tacit support of Muslim Brotherhood. It would be logical to surmise that both countries coordinate policies on the Nagorno-Karabakh dispute.

Azerbaijan and the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh said on April 5 they were halting hostilities after four days of intense fighting.

The world community pins great hopes on the ability of the OSCE to prevent the worst from happening .

April 7, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Armenian-Azeri Tensions Just Got Alarming: Here’s Why It’s Happening (I)

By Andrew KORYBKO | Oriental Review | April 4, 2016

The unprecedented upsurge in violence along the Line of Contact between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Nagorno-Karabakh has raised universal concern that a larger conflict might be brewing, with some analysts seeing it as an outgrowth of Turkey’s destabilizing anti-Russian policies over the past couple of months.

As attractive as it may be to believe such that Azerbaijan is behaving as a total puppet of the West, such an explanation is only a superficial description of what is happening and importantly neglects to factor in Baku’s recent foreign policy pivot over the past year. It’s not to necessarily suggest that Russia’s CSTO ally Armenia is to blame for the latest ceasefire violations, but rather to raise the point that this unfolding series of militantly destabilizing events is actually a lot more complex than initially meets the eye, although the general conclusion that the US is reaping an intrinsic strategic benefit from all of this is clearly indisputable.

Instead of beginning the research from a century ago and rehashing the dueling historic interpretations that both sides have over Nagorno-Karabakh, the article at hand begins at the present day and proceeds from the existing on-the-ground state of affairs after the 1994 ceasefire, whereby the disputed territory has de-facto been administered as its own unrecognized state with strong Armenian support in all sectors. There’s no attempt to advocate one side or denigrate the other, but rather to objectively understand the situation as it is and forecast its unfolding developments.

In keeping with the task at hand, it’s essential that the point of analytical departure be an overview of Armenia and Azerbaijan’s latest geopolitical moves in the year preceding the latest clashes. Afterwards, it’s required that an analysis be given about the limits to Russia’s CSTO commitment to Armenia, which thus helps to put Russia’s active diplomatic moves into the appropriate perspective. Following that, Part II of the article raises awareness about the US’ Reverse Brzezinski stratagem of peripheral quagmire-like destabilization along the post-Soviet rim and how the recent outbreak of violence is likely part and parcel of this calculated plan. Finally, the two-part series concludes with the suggested appeal that Armenia and Azerbaijan replace the stale OSCE Minsk Group conflict resolution format with a fresh analogue via their newly shared dialogue partner status under the SCO.

Not What One Would Expect

Over the past year or so, Armenia and Azerbaijan’s geopolitical trajectories haven’t exactly been moving along the course that casual commentators would expect that they would. Before beginning this section, it’s necessary to preface it with a disclaimer that the author is not referring to the average Armenian or Azeri citizen in the following analysis, but rather is using their respective countries’ names interchangeably with their given governments, so “Armenia” in this instance refers to the Yerevan political establishment while “Azerbaijan” relates to its Baku counterpart. This advisory note is needed in order to proactively prevent the reader from misunderstanding the author’s words and analyses, since the topic is full of highly emotionally charged elements and generally evokes a strong reaction among many, especially those of either of the two ethnicities.

Armenia:

The general trend is that the prevailing geopolitical stereotypes about Armenia and Azerbaijan are not as accurate as one would immediately think, and that neither country adheres to them to the degree that one would initially expect. It’s true that Armenia is a staunch and loyal Russian CSTO ally which maintains a presence of 5,000 troops, a handful of jets and helicopters, a forthcoming air defense shield, and possibly soon even Iskander missiles there, but it’s been progressively diversifying its foreign policy tangent by taking strong strides in attempting to reach an Association Agreement with the EU despite its formal Eurasian Union membership.

This has yet to be clinched, but the resolute intent that Yerevan clearly demonstrated in May 2015 raises uncomfortable questions about the extent to which its decision-making elite may have been co-opted by Western influences. The author was so concerned about this eventuality that he published a very controversial analysis that month explaining the various ploys by which the West has sought to woo Armenia over to its side, including the shedding of crocodile tears for its genocide victims during their centenary remembrance commemoration.

As is the established pattern which was most clearly proven by Ukraine, the more intensely that a geostrategically positioned country flirts with the West, the more susceptible that it is to a forthcoming Color Revolution attempt, so it’s unsurprising in hindsight that the “Electric Yerevan” destabilization was commenced just one month after the Armenian President was publicly hobnobbing with so many of his Western “partners”. That anti-government push was a proto-manifestation of what the author later described in an unrelated work as “Color Revolution 1.5” technologies which seek to use “civil society” and “anti-corruption” elements as experimental triggers for testing the catalyzation of large-scale regime change movements. The geopolitical end goal in all of this, as the author wrote in his “Electric Yerevan” piece cited above, was to get Armenian nationalists such as Nikol Pashinyan into power so that they can provoke a continuation war in Nagorno-Karabakh that might conceivably end up dragging in Russia. They thankfully didn’t succeed in this, and the sitting Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan has repeatedly underscored that Armenia does not want to see a conflict escalation in the disputed territory.

Strangely, despite the regime change attempt that the West tried to engineer against Armenia, Sargsyan still declared in early 2016 that “Armenia’s cooperation and development of relations with the EU remain a priority for Armenia’s foreign policy” and “expressed gratitude to the EU for their assistance in carrying out reforms in Armenia.” Also, the EU’s External Action Service reports that the two sides formally relaunched their negotiation process with one another on 7 December with the aim of reaching a “new agreement (that) will replace the current EU-Armenia Partnership and Cooperation agreement.”

An EU analyst remarked in March of this year that he obviously doesn’t believe that it will be identical to the Association Agreement that the EU had offered to Armenia prior to its Eurasian Union ascension, but that of course doesn’t mean that it couldn’t share many similarities with its predecessor and create geopolitical complications for Yerevan’s economic alliance with Moscow. It must be emphasized at this point that while the Armenian state is still closely linked to Russia on the military-political level and formally part of the Eurasian Union, it is provocatively taking strong economic steps in the direction of the EU and the general Western community, disturbingly raising the prospect that its schizophrenic policies might one day engender a crisis of loyalty where Yerevan is forced to choose between Moscow and Brussels much as Kiev was artificially made to do so as well (and possibly with similar pro-Western urban terrorist consequences for the “wrong choice”).

Azerbaijan:

On the other hand, while Armenia was bucking the conventional stereotype by moving closer to the West, Azerbaijan was also doing something similar by realigning itself closer to Russia. Baku’s relations with Washington, Brussels, Ankara, and even Tel Aviv (which it supplies 40% of its energy to via the BTC pipeline) are well documented, as is its geostrategic function as a non-Russian energy source for the EU (particularly in the context of the Southern Corridor project), so there’s no use regurgitating well-known and established facts inside of this analysis. Rather, what’s especially interesting to pay attention to is how dramatically the ties between Azerbaijan and the West have declined over the past year. Even more fascinating is that all of it was so unnecessary and had barely anything to do with Baku’s own initiative.

What happened was that Brussels started a soft power campaign against Baku by alleging that the latter had been violating “human rights” and “democratic” principles, which resulted in Azerbaijan boldly announcing in September 2015 that it was cancelling the planned visit of a European Commission delegation and considering whether it “should review [its] ties with the European Union, where anti-Azeri and anti-Islam tendencies are strong.” For a country that is stereotypically seen as being under the Western thumb, that’s the complete opposite of a subservient move and one that exudes defiance to the West. Earlier that year in February 2015, Quartz online magazine even exaggeratedly fear mongered that “Azerbaijan is transforming into a mini-Russia” because of its strengthening domestic security capabilities in dealing with asymmetrical threats.

While Azerbaijan’s resistance certainly has its pragmatic limits owing to the country’s entrenched strategic and energy infrastructural relationship with the West over the past couple of decades, it’s telling that it would so publicly rebuke the West in the fashion that it did and suggests that the problems between Azerbaijan and the West are deeper than just a simple spat. Part of the reason for the West’s extreme dislike of the Azerbaijani government has been its recent pragmatic and phased emulation of Russia’s NGO security legislation which aims to curb the effectiveness of intelligence-controlled proxy organizations in fomenting Color Revolutions. Having lost its influence over the country via the post-modern “grassroots-‘bottom-up’” approach, it’s very plausible that the US and its allies decided to find a way to instigate Nagorno-Karabakh clashes as a means of regaining their sway over their wayward Caspian ‘ally’.

Amidst this recent falling out between Azerbaijan and the West and even in the years preceding it, Moscow has been able to more confidently position itself as a reliable, trustworthy, and non-discriminatory partner which would never interfere with Baku’s domestic processes or base its bilateral relations with the country on whatever its counterpart chooses to do at home. Other than the unmistakable security influence that Russia has had on Azerbaijan’s NGO legislation, the two sides have also increased their military-technical cooperation through a surge of agreements that totaled $4 billion by 2013. By 2015, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute reported that Azerbaijan’s total arms spending for the five-year period of 2011-2014 had increased by 249%, with 85% of its supplies coming from Russia.

In parallel to that, it also asserted that Russia’s weapons exports to Europe for 2011-2015 increased by 264%, “mainly due to deliveries to Azerbaijan”. It’s plain to see that Russia isn’t treating Azerbaijan as though it were an unredeemable Western puppet state, but is instead applying a shrewd and calculated military balancing strategy between it and Armenia. While unconfirmed by official sources, the head of the Political Researches Department of the Yerevan-based Caucasian Institute Sergey Minasian claimed in 2009 that Russia was supplying its Gyumri base in Armenia via air transit permission from Azerbaijan after Georgia banned such overflights through its territory after the 2008 war. If this is true, then it would suggest that Russian-Azeri strategic relations are at their most trusted level in post-independence history and that Baku has full faith that Moscow will not do anything to upset the military balance in the Southern Caucasus, which of course includes the paranoid fear that some Azeri observers have expressed about Russia conspiring with Armenia to wage another war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Strategic Calculations and CSTO Limits

Russia And Armenia:

Everything that was written above likely comes as a complete shock to the casual observer of international affairs because it flies in the face of presumed “logic”, but this just goes to show that the prevailing geopolitical stereotypes about Armenia and Azerbaijan are inaccurate and do not fully reflect the present state of affairs. The common denominator between the two rival states is their evolving relationship with Russia, which as was just described, appears to be progressively moving in opposite directions. Again, the author does not intend to give the impression that this reflects popular sentiment in either country or its expatriate and diaspora communities, especially Armenia and its affiliated ethnic nationals, since the general attitude inside the country (despite the highly publicized “Electric Yerevan” failed Color Revolution attempt) and for the most part by its compatriots outside of it could safely be described as favorable to Russia. This makes Yerevan’s pro-Western advances all the more puzzling, but that only means that the answer to this paradox lies more in the vision (and possible monetary incentives) of the country’s leadership than the will of its people. Still, the situation is not critical and has yet to approach the point where the pragmatic and trusted state of bilateral relations is endangered.

Russia And Azerbaijan:

That being said, to many conventional observers, Russia’s close military cooperation with Azerbaijan might seem just as peculiar as Armenia’s intimation of a forthcoming pro-Western economic pivot, but that too can be explained by a strategic calculation, albeit one of a much more pragmatic and understandable nature. Russia has aspired to play the role of a pivotal balancing force between Armenia and Azerbaijan, and truth be told and much to the dismay of many Armenians, it did approve of UNSC Resolutions affirming Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity along its internationally recognized borders, specifically the most recent 62/243 one from 2008 which “Reaffirms continued respect and support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders” and “Demands the immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of all Armenian forces from all the occupied territories of the Republic of Azerbaijan”.

Nagorno-Karabakh map

Nagorno-Karabakh map

Geopolitical Consistency:

What’s happening isn’t that Russia is “betraying Armenia” like some overactive nationalist pundits like to allege, but that it’s maintaining what has been its consistent position since the conflict began and is abiding by its stated international guiding principle in supporting territorial integrity. Key to this understanding is that the conception of territorial integrity is a guiding, but not an irreversible, tenet of Russian foreign policy, and the 2008 Russian peace-enforcement operation in Georgia that led to the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and the 2014 reunification with Crimea prove that extenuating circumstances can result in a change of long-standing policy on a case-by-case basis. This can be interpreted as meaning that Moscow at this stage (operative qualifier) does not support the independence of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, but to be fair, neither does Yerevan, although the Armenian state just recently repeated its previously stated position that it could recognize the Armenian-populated region as a separate country if the present hostilities with Azerbaijan increase. Therefore, the main condition that could push Armenia to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state and possibly even pressure Russia to follow suit would be the prolonged escalation of conflict around the Line of Contact.

The Unification Conundrum:

As much as some participants and international observers might think of such a move as being historically just and long overdue, Russia would likely have a much more cautious approach to any unilateral moves that Armenia makes about recognizing the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh. To repeat what was earlier emphasized about Russia’s political approach to this conflict, this would not amount to a “betrayal” of Armenia but instead would be a pragmatic and sober assessment of the global geostrategic environment and the likely fact that such a move could instantly suck Russia into the war. As it stands, Russia has a mutual defense commitment to Armenia which makes it responsible for protecting its ally from any aggression against it, however this only corresponds to the territory that Russia internationally recognizes as Armenia’s own, thereby excluding any Armenian forces and passport holders in Nagorno-Karabakh.

If Armenia recognizes Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state, it would likely initiate a rapidly progressing process whereby the two Armenian-populated entities vote for unification, which would then place Russia in the very uncomfortable position of having to consider whether it will recognize such a unilateral move by its ally and thereby extend its mutual defense umbrella over what would by then be newly incorporated and Russian-recognized Armenian territory. On the one hand, Moscow wouldn’t want to be perceived as “betraying” its centuries-long Armenian ally and thenceforth engendering its unshakable hate for the foreseeable future, but on the other, it might have certain reservations about getting directly involved in the military conflict as a warfighting participant and forever losing the positive New Cold War inroads that it has made with Baku.

Russian-Azeri relations, if pragmatically managed along the same constructive trajectory that they’ve already been proceeding along, could lead to Moscow gaining a strategic foothold over an important Turkish, EU, and Israeli energy supplier and thus giving Russia the premier possibility of indirectly exerting its influence towards them vis-à-vis its ties with Baku. In any case, the Russian Foreign Ministry would prefer not to be placed on the spot and in such a zero-sum position where it is forced to choose between honoring its Armenian ally’s unilateral unification with Nagorno-Karabakh and abandoning its potential outpost of transregional strategic influence in Azerbaijan, or pursuing its gambit to acquire grand transregional influence via Azerbaijan at the perceived expense of its long-standing South Caucasus ally and risk losing its ultra-strategic military presence in the country.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Question is thus a quandary of epic and far-reaching geostrategic proportions for Russia, which is doing everything that it can to neutrally negotiate between the two sides in offsetting this utterly destabilizing scenario and preventing it from being forced to choose a disastrous zero-sum commitment in what will be argued in Part II to likely be an externally third-party/US-constructed military-political dilemma. Furthermore, both Armenia and Azerbaijan want to retain Russian support and neither wants to risk losing it, which also explains why Azerbaijan has yet to unleash its full military potential against the Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and why Armenia hasn’t unilaterally recognized Nagorno-Karabakh or made an effort to politically unite with it. Conclusively, it can be surmised that the only actor which wants to force this false choice of “either-or” onto Russia is the US, which always benefits whenever destabilization strikes Moscow’s periphery and its Eurasian adversary is forced into a pressing geopolitical dilemma.

To be continued…

Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently working for the Sputnik agency.

April 4, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

US-led military drill begins in western Ukraine

Press TV – September 15, 2014

A US-led military maneuver has begun in western Ukraine, amid continued fighting between government troops and pro-Russian forces in the country’s east.

The military drill, dubbed “Rapid Trident 14,” started early Monday near Ukraine’s border with Poland and involves 1,300 troops from over a dozen countries.

According to the US army, the troops come from 12 NATO members, including Germany, the UK, Poland, Norway and Canada, as well as non-members Azerbaijan, Georgia and Moldova.

The eleven-day drills will take place near the western city of Yavoriv and will not involve the live firing of weapons.

The US Defense Ministry said the exercise will increase interoperability among Ukraine and the participating nations.

Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Heletey earlier announced that NATO member states have begun supplying weapons to the country’s forces despite a truce between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russians.

Meanwhile, heavy fighting between government troops and pro-Russian forces continues around the eastern city of Donetsk. According to Donetsk city hall officials, six civilians were killed on Sunday in heavy shelling around the city and its airport.

Kiev accused pro-Russians of threatening the truce by intensifying attacks against government positions. This is while, on September 13, the pro-Russia forces defending a checkpoint near the village of Olenivka, south of Donetsk accused the Ukrainian army of violating the truce.

The ceasefire agreement was reached between Kiev and the pro-Russians on September 5, after Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko hammered out a compromise deal aimed at ending the heavy fighting.

September 15, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The American Aggression Enablement Act and the US’ Eurasian Thrust (II)

By Andrew KORYBKO | Oriental Review | August 1, 2014

Part I

Part II: Destabilization by Design

The second thrust of the US’ aggression in Eurasia is the purposeful destabilization of Russia’s interests in the Near Abroad. Specifically, the AAEA’s provisions would lead to an endangered security situation for Belarus, mayhem in Moldova, and an aggravation of the Nagorno-Karabakh situation between Azerbaijan and Armenia. All of these work against Russian interests and place Moscow on the strategic defensive.

Bunkering in Belarus:

One of the US’ designs is to bunker Belarus in and surround it with offensive NATO military capabilities. American aggression against Belarus is old news, going back most sensationally to the mid-2000s when Condoleeza Rice declared the country to be the “last dictatorship in Europe”, thereby putting its head on the chopping block for regime change. Although unsuccessful in overthrowing the government via a Color Revolution, Washington still pumps millions of dollars into the country to support “democracy” (likely in the same vein and with the same intended result as it did in Ukraine with its $5 billion investment). If the AAEA’s goal of placing permanent NATO bases in Poland and the Baltics comes to fruition, as well as the goal of Shadow NATO integration of Ukraine, Belarus could very well find itself almost surrounded by hostile forces pressuring it to accede to their demands. Making the situation even more high-risk, Belarus and Russia have a mutual security agreement via the CSTO, meaning that any act of force against Belarus will be treated as an act against Russia itself. This remarkably raises the stakes of NATO’s power play and increases the chance of direct conflict with Russia.

Moldovan Meltdown:

Transnistria (colored green) and Gagauzia (red) are seeking peaceful divorce with Moldova since 1991.

Flying largely under the radar of most analysts, Moldova is prime for a full-scale meltdown as it is rushed into Western institutions. First and foremost, the country already signed the EU Association Agreement in late June and, for the first time in its history, will be sending a representative to the upcoming NATO summit in September. Although nominal neutrality is a hallmark of the country’s constitution, this does not mean that it cannot enter Shadow NATO via major non-NATO ally designation or potentially enact a ‘referendum’ to change this statute.

What is critical here is that there are two ticking time bombs in Moldova that will likely go off as Western ‘integration’ proceeds at record speed; Transnistria and the lesser-known Gagauzia. The former is the renowned frozen conflict from the 1990s where Russia still has over a thousand troops stationed. It voted to join the Russian Federation in 2006 but to no avail. In May, Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin was harassed by Moldovan security after he visited Transnistria to collect signatures in favor of reunification with Russia. His plane was forced to land in Chisinau after Ukrainian and Moldovan authorities restricted their airspace to him, creating a diplomatic incident which would be unthinkable to do to a Western politician, let alone of such stature. Moreover, the territory is currently experiencing a blockade by both Moldova and Ukraine. Transnistria does not accept the authority of Chisinau and sees no attraction to the EU, instead preferring the Russian-led Eurasian Union. These radically divergent paths, coupled with NATO’s ambitions and Russia’s existing military position, place Moldova on the brink of destabilization.

Not only that, but Gagauzia is also a simmering issue waiting to boil over. Ari Rusila conducted research on this relatively unknown entity back in April and found that, just like Transnistria, it too is moving closer to Russia. Just as fast as Moldova is moving westward, Gagauzia appears to be moving eastward, and it is asserting its self-determination with every step of the way. He writes that it held a February 2014 referendum to join the Customs Union and that it also voted to place independence on the table if Moldova loses or surrenders its sovereignty. These two options could be taken to mean joining the EU or merging with Romania, and if Gagauzia officially moves away from the centralized Moldovan state, it could lead to military reprisals by Chisinau. All that it takes to set off the two Transnistrian and Gagauzian time bombs is to shove Moldova into the EU and NATO, both of which are already being fast-tracked by the West.

Asphyxiating Armenia:

Lost in the mix of the more headline-grabbing aspects of the AAEA, the legislation also mandates that the US increase its military cooperation with Azerbaijan and provide the same amount of security assistance to it, in league with NATO, as it would to the major non-NATO allies and Balkan states. This is an exceptionally important detail that mustn’t be overlooked by any observer. Armenia, Azerbaijan’s bitter rival, made the fateful decision to turn its back on the EU and move towards the Eurasian Union, much to the ire of Brussels. Hillary Clinton, speaking on behalf of the State Department in late-2012, made known her country’s intention to “figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent” Eurasian integration, signaling that Armenia, after having made its decision to move in this direction, will now be targeted just like Ukraine was.

2222_wm&91;1&93;_waAzerbaijan and Armenia are locked in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which, although frozen, threatens to heat up at any moment. By throwing its hat squarely behind Azerbaijan, the US is showing that it is not a neutral party to the conflict and cannot be trusted within the OSCE Minsk Group. The move for a more clearly defined and open US-Azeri military alliance has been a long time in coming, however. The US has been using Azerbaijan as a geostrategic energy outpost between Russia and Iran since the 1990s, and the creation of the BTC pipeline only increased its significance in the eyes of Western decision makers. Baku is also close friends with Israel, supplying about 40% of its oil, and it has been rumored to host Israeli drone bases for use against Iran. The Jerusalem Post also reports that Israel sells “hundreds of millions of dollars worth of arms” to the country, further cementing their military-strategic relationship.

Armenia, on the other hand, has a mutual security guarantee with Russia through the CSTO, just like Belarus does. It is a traditional Russia ally and even hosts the 102nd military base outside the capital of Yerevan. Armenia has been blockaded by both Turkey and Azerbaijan since the early 1990s, and the vast majority of its foreign trade must move through Georgia before going to Russia or to other countries via port. With Georgia trying to join the EU, the scenario could arise where costly tariffs are enacted against outside (Armenian) goods entering the Union, even if they are only transiting through, further strangling the already weakened Armenian economy and promoting social unrest. To put things into perspective, Azerbaijan’s defense budget is larger than the entire state budget of Armenia, and Azeri President Aliyev has a track record of threatening military force to retake Nagorno Karabkah.

In sum, any renewed outbreak of war between Azerbaijan (now close to becoming a US military ally) and Armenia (protected under Russia’s defense umbrella) would be a de-facto US-Russian proxy war that could quickly draw in both powers. What’s more, Azerbaijan closely cooperates with Turkey, with whom it has close ethnic, cultural, and linguistic ties, and Ankara’s involvement in any future conflict could quickly draw in the entire NATO alliance. By cozying up so closely with Azerbaijan and working to asphyxiate Armenia, the US is pushing itself closer to a direct conflict with Russia.

Concluding Thoughts

It has been definitively established that the US’ so-called ‘Russian Aggression Prevention Act’ is nothing more than Orwellian Doublespeak for an American Aggression Enablement Act. Aside from the more well-known aspects of the proposal, the lesser-known ones are just as significant in throwing America and its NATO clique closer to war with Russia. By rabidly expanding NATO at all costs via indirect means, the US is plainly showing that it does not care whatsoever for Russia’s security concerns. In fact, it wants to push the envelope and expand NATO in as many simultaneous directions as it can. The swallowing of the Balkans, the staging ground of Russia’s strategic South Stream project, and the movement to incorporate Sweden and Finland into NATO are Washington’s way of imposing full dominance over the continent’s last nominally neutral areas, a move which will surely lead to a determined Russian push back, especially as regards the defense of Serbia and NATO expansion into Finland.

Furthermore, the AAEA aims to threaten Russian interests in Belarus, Moldova, and Armenia, three countries where Moscow has deployed troops and two of which are mutual security partners. This is a calculated attempt at weakening Russia’s position in the Near Abroad and continuing to place it on the strategic defense. All together, everything within the American Aggression Enablement Act clearly shows that the US has strapped up its boots and is eager to go on the offensive against Russia. The ‘Reset’ was nothing more than an underhanded way to buy the necessary time to organize this campaign against all of Russia’s interests on its western flank, and it appears to be in full swing. If it passes into law, the bill will be seen in hindsight as the one action which single-handedly ushered in the ‘New Cold War’ and could quite possibly revert Europe back to the powder keg that it once was 100 years ago.

August 2, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on The American Aggression Enablement Act and the US’ Eurasian Thrust (II)

The American Aggression Enablement Act and the US’ Eurasian Thrust (I)

By Andrew KORYBKO | Oriental Review | August 1, 2014

Congressional Hawks have been peddling the idea of a “Russian Aggression Prevention Act” since the beginning of May, but it has only been during the recent media-inspired hysteria that it began to gain traction. If passed into law, it would amount to a sweeping NATO offensive across all of Russia’s former soviet western periphery and would be the first official act of the ‘New Cold War’. Much has been written about the overall thematic consequences for US-Russian relations by Paul Craig Roberts and Patrick Buchanan illustrating how the US plans to use the legislation to subvert the Russian government from within via its support for ‘NGOs’ (and the prioritized ‘refugee’ status for journalists, ‘dissidents’, and various activists that is included in the document). What has not been explored, however, are some of the finer, yet no less important, aspects of the Act’s implementation. Whether it be NATO expansion into the Balkans or the destabilization of the Caucasus, bill S. 2277 more accurately could be described as the American Aggression Enablement Act (AAEA), as it represents a surge of US offensive military capability against Russian interests in its western flank.

Part I: The NATO Tumor Grows

The AAEA represents the cancerous growth of NATO throughout all of its targeted territories. Some of its most important details are that the EU and NATO are working hand-in-hand, NATO aims to swallow the Balkans, and the Missile Defense Shield (MDS) is to proceed at full speed ahead, with all of the resultant consequences thereof.

Good Cop, Bad Cop:

Although not explicitly stated in the AAEA itself, if one steps back and examines the overall context of the document, it is obvious that the EU and NATO have been working in lockstep to advance each other’s goals. In fact, an overall pattern can be ascertained:

(1) The EU makes some form of outreach to the targeted state(s) (e.g. The Eastern Partnership)

(2) Economic links between the EU and the target are nominally institutionalized (e.g. an EU Association Agreement)

(3) Shadow NATO (via major non-NATO ally status) moves in to defend the economic integration process

The EU presents the friendly, ‘humanitarian’ face to disarm the targeted state’s population while Shadow NATO inconspicuously attempts to absorb the country. This is the tried-and-tested technique of ‘good cop, bad cop’.

The Balkans or Bust:

The US is aggressively promoting its Armed Forces and NATO’s expansion into the Balkans as part of the AAEA. It stipulates that Obama must increase military cooperation with Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, Macedonia, and Serbia, besides Azerbaijan and prescribed major non-NATO allies Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova. Although it is unlikely that Serbia will be integrated into the fold (it is a strong Russian ally and vividly remembers the bloody bombings of 1999), the move still represents a major expansion of US military influence in Europe. One must keep in mind that the formerly forgotten-about Balkans are now at the forefront of this ‘New Cold War’, with the US and some European actors trying to sabotage Russia’s South Stream gas project which, ironically, certain EU members had agreed to in the first place. Bosnia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and Macedonia are all entities abutting Serbia, which is planned to be one of the hubs of South Stream, so their inclusion into the enhanced NATO security framework suggested by the AAEA can be seen as surrounding Serbia prior to destabilizing it once more. In the context of bitter energy geopolitics, the US’ seemingly unexpected push into the Balkans makes absolute sense.

Missile Defense and NATO’s Northern Expansion:

Included in the AAEA is the directive to accelerate the rollout of the Missile Defense Shield (MDS). This was already envisioned to have land, sea, and space components per the phased adaptive approach framework. What makes the AAEA different, however, is that it wants to ‘poke Russia in the eyes’ and go forward with something that Moscow has already stated would certainly be a red line. Russia holds this stance because it believes that a MDS would neutralize its nuclear second-strike capability, thereby giving the US a monopoly on carrying out a nuclear first strike and shattering the mutual assured destruction concept that kept the peace between the two nuclear titans for decades.

Russia’s response thus far has been to deploy Iskander missiles to the Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad. One of the dual purposes of the US’ MDS is to goad Russia into taking more such defensive actions that could then be propagandized as ‘offensive’, thereby exaggerating ‘the Russian threat’ and contributing to fear mongering among the Swedish and Finnish citizenry. The end result is to push these countries deeper into the NATO apparatus. Finland has already said that it could hold a referendum on joining as early as April 2015 after the next round of parliamentary elections, with its Defense Minister already actively lobbying for this to happen. Sweden, on the other hand, already engages in such close cooperation with NATO that it’s already a shadow member in its own right, and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt is one of the most prominent Russophobic policy makers on the continent. Because of a joint agreement on military security, Finland can only join NATO together with Sweden, meaning that if any move is made, it would likely be a ‘double whammy’ to get the two states in at once. It goes without saying that if Russia would not allow NATO to be deployed in Georgia or Ukraine, it most definitely would not allow it to be deployed along the Russo-Finnish border, further increasing the chances of yet another crisis in NATO-Russian relations sometime down the line.

To be continued… Part II

August 2, 2014 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Rotella Reported Another Dubious Iranian Bomb Plot

By Gareth Porter | LobeLog | August 20, 2013

Introduction by Jim Lobe

While the terrible events in Egypt have delayed my plans to reply to ProPublica’s response to my critique of Sebastian Rotella’s report on the alleged build-up of Iran’s terrorist infrastructure in the Americas, Gareth Porter has written the following essay on a 2009 article by Rotella for the Los Angeles Times about an alleged bomb plot to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Baku, Azerbaijan, in 2008. It offers a very good illustration of some of the problems raised in my original critique of Rotella’s most recent work, notably the virtually exclusive reliance on sources that are clearly hostile to Iran with an interest in depicting it in the most negative light possible. But you be the judge.

It happened in Baku, transforming the capital of Azerbaijan into a battleground in a global shadow war.

Police intercepted a fleeing car and captured two suspected Hezbollah militants from Lebanon. The car contained explosives, binoculars, cameras, pistols with silencers and reconnaissance photos. Raiding alleged safe houses, police foiled what authorities say was a plot to blow up the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan, a former Soviet republic that borders Iran.

Thus begins the only detailed English-language press account of an alleged Iranian terror plot in Azerbaijan in 2008: a May 2009 article, written with a Paris dateline, by Sebastian Rotella for the Los Angeles Times.

But despite the sense of immediacy conveyed by his lede, Rotella’s sources for his account were not Azerbaijanis. Rather, the sources Rotella quoted on the details of the alleged plot, the investigation and apprehension of the suspects consisted of an unnamed “Israeli security official”, and Matthew Levitt, a senior fellow at the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) and the author of a constant stream of articles, op-eds, and Congressional testimony reflecting the Israeli government’s interest in promoting the perception of a growing Iranian terrorist threat around the world.[1]

It was Levitt who described the alleged plot in Baku to Rotella as having been “in the advanced stages” when it was supposedly broken up by Azerbaijani security forces, an assertion echoed by the anonymous Israeli security official cited in the article:

 ”[Iran] had reached the stage where they had a network in place to do an operation,” said an Israeli security official, who requested anonymity for safety reasons. “We are seeing it all over the world. They are working very hard at it.”

So readers of the LA Times received a version of the plot that was filtered primarily, if not exclusively, through an Israeli lens.[2] Relying on Israeli officials and a close ally at a pro-Israel US think tank for a story on an alleged Iranian bomb plot against an Israeli Embassy is bound to produce a predictable story line where the accuracy can hardly be assumed at face value. Indeed, in this case, there were and remain many reasons for skepticism.

Yet, three years later, in a July 2012 article for ProPublica, he referred to the plot as though it was established fact.

Had Rotella sought an independent source in Azerbaijan, he would have learned, for example, that such alleged plots had been a virtual perennial in Baku for years. That is what a leading scholar of Azerbaijan’s external relations, Anar Valiyev, told me in an interview last November. “It’s always the same plot year after year,” said Valiyev, Dean of the School of International Affairs of the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy in Baku.

In fact, security officials in Azerbaijan had claimed the existence of a similar plot in October 2007 and January 2012 and only two months later, authorities arrested Azerbaijani suspects in two different allegedly Iranian-initiated plots to carry out terrorist actions against Western embassies, the Israeli Embassy and/or Jewish targets. In early 2013, prison sentences were announced in yet another alleged terrorist plot to attack the Eurovision song contest in Baku in 2012. Valiyev told me that those detained by Azerbaijani security officials are always charged with wanting to kill Israeli or US officials and subsequently tried for plots to overthrow the government, which carries the maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

In a 2007 article in Jamestown Foundation’s Terrorism Focus, Valiyev observed that plots, assassination and coup-attempts were “thwarted” with regularity in Azerbaijan. “Periodically the government finds a scapegoat,” he wrote, to justify attacks on domestic critics, including “Wahabbis”, followers of Kurdish-Sunni scholar Said Nursi and/or Shiite radicals. Valiyev suggested that security officials might be “trying to show that radical Islamists could come to power… should the incumbent government lose the election.”

The Azerbaijani government and its security forces are not known for their devotion to the rule of law. The current president, Ilham Aliyev, is the son of Azerbaijan’s first president, Heydar Aliyev, who, in turn, was the head of the Soviet KGB before Azerbaijan’s independence. According to Jim Lobe, who visited Baku last year, dissidents regard the first Aliyev’s tenure as relatively liberal compared that of his son. A 2009 State Department cable described Ilham Aliyev as a “mafia-like” figure, likening him to a combination of Michael and Sonny Corleone in the “The Godfather”.

Valiyev observed that virtually nothing about the alleged plot made sense, beginning with the targets. According to Rotella’s story, the alleged Hezbollah operatives and their Azerbaijani confederates had planned to set off three or four car bombs at the Israeli Embassy simultaneously, using explosives they “intended to accumulate” in addition to the “hundreds of pounds of explosives” they had allegedly already acquired from “Iranian spies.”

But the Israeli Embassy is located in the seven-story Hyatt Tower office complex along with other foreign embassies, and no automobiles are allowed to park in close proximity to the complex, according to Valiyev. So the alleged plotters would have needed a prodigious amount of explosives to accomplish such a plan.

For example, the bomb that destroyed the eight-story US Air Force barracks at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996 was estimated at 23,000 pounds of explosives detonated less than 100 feet away from the building. Valiyev told me that it is “practically impossible to find such components in Azerbaijan” because “Even a few kilograms of explosives would be tracked down by the ministry of national security.”

In his article, Rotella also referred — though only in passing — to the prosecutor’s charge that the alleged conspirators were planning to attack a Russian radar installation at Gabala (sometimes spelled Qabala) in northern Azerbaijan. But that part of the plot was also highly suspect, according to Valiyev. No reason was ever given for such a target, and it would have made no sense for either Hezbollah’s or Iran’s interests.

Built in 1984, the Gabala radar station was leased to the Russians until 2012, and 900 troops from the Russian Space Forces were stationed there. An attack on the station by Hezbollah or its supposed proxies in Azerbaijan would have represented a major provocation against Russia by Iran and Hezbollah, and was therefore hard to believe, as Valiyev pointed out in a July 2009 report for the Jamestown Foundation. Valiyev said it was far more plausible that the alleged plotters were simply carrying out surveillance on the station which, according to some reports, was being considered for possible integration into a regional US missile defense system.

Rotella failed to mention yet another aspect of the prosecution’s case that should arouse additional skepticism. The indictment included the charge that the leader of the alleged terrorist cell plotting these attacks was working simultaneously for Hezbollah and al-Qaeda. Even though it has been long been discredited, the idea of an Iran-al-Qaeda collaboration on terrorism has been a favorite Israeli theme for some time and one that continues to be propagated by Levitt.

Rotella’s account of how the suspects were apprehended also appears implausible. In May 2008, when the bombings were supposedly still weeks away, according to his story, the suspects realized they were under surveillance and tried to flee.

But instead of hiding or destroying incriminating evidence of their terrorist plot — such as the reconnaissance photos, the explosives, the cameras and the pistols with silencers — as might be expected under those circumstances, the two suspects allegedly packed all that equipment in their car and fled toward the border with Iran, whereupon they were intercepted, according to the official line reported by Rotella.

Somehow, despite the surveillance, according to anonymous “anti-terrorist officials” cited by Rotella, “a number of Lebanese, Iranian and Azerbaijani suspects escaped by car into Iran.” Only those with the incriminating evidence — including, most implausibly, hundreds of pounds of explosives — in their car were caught, according to the account given to Rotella.

Even Rotella’s description of the two Lebanese suspects, Ali Karaki and Ali Najem Aladine, as a veteran Hezbollah external operations officer and an explosives expert, respectively, should not be taken at face value, according to Valiyev. It is more likely, he said, that the two were simply spies working for Iranian intelligence.

Even the US Embassy report on the trial of the suspects suggested it also had doubts about the alleged plot. “In early October after a closed trial,” the reporting cable said, “an Azerbaijani court sentenced a group of alleged terrorists arrested the previous Spring and supposedly connected to Lebanese Hezbollah plot to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Baku AND the Qabala radar station in northern Azerbaijan” (emphasis in the original). It added, “In a public statement the state prosecutor repeated earlier claims that the entire plot was an operation of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.”

Yet another striking anomaly about the alleged plot was the fact that nothing was published about it for an entire year. No explanation for the silence was ever made public. This silence is all the more significant because during 2009 and 2010, the Israeli government either publicly alleged or leaked stories of Iranian or Hezbollah plots in Turkey and Jordan about which the host country authorities either did not comment on or offered a different explanation. But despite the extremely close relationship between Azebaijani and Israeli intelligence services (confirmed by this US Embassy cable), neither the Israeli media nor foreign journalists were tipped off to the plot until the Israelis leaked the story to Rotella a year later.[3]

The complete absence of any leak by the Israelis for an entire year about an alleged Iranian plot to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Baku casts some circumstantial doubt on whether such a plot had indeed been uncovered in 2008, as claimed in the article.

Despite the multiple anomalies surrounding this story — the complete lack of any publicly available corroborating evidence; the well-established penchant for the Aliyev government for using such alleged plots to justify rounding up domestic critics; the US Embassy’s apparent skepticism, his failure to consult independent sources; and the 2009 publication by the Jamestown Foundation of Valiyev’s own critique of the “official” version of the case — Rotella has shown no interest in clarifying what actually happened. In fact, as noted above, he referred to the plot again in a July 2012 article for ProPublica as if there was not the slightest doubt with regard to its actual occurrence, identifying it, as he did in the original article, as an attempted retaliation for the assassination of a senior Hezbollah operative three months before:

Conflict with Israel intensified in February 2008 after a car bomb in the heart of Damascus killed Imad Mughniyah, a notorious Hezbollah military leader and ally of Iranian intelligence. Iranian Hezbollah publicly accused Israel and vowed revenge.

Within weeks, a plot was under way against the Israeli Embassy in Azerbaijan. Police broke up the cell in May 2008. The suspects included Azeri accomplices, a senior Hezbollah field operative and a Hezbollah explosives expert. Police also arrested two Iranian spies, but they were released within weeks because of pressure from Tehran, Western anti-terror officials say.[4] The other suspects were convicted.

As narrowly sourced as it was, Rotella’s original 2009 story thus helped make a dubious tale of a bomb plot in Baku part of the media narrative. More recently, he continued that pattern by promoting the unsubstantiated charge by Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman and various pro-Israel groups and right-wing members of Congress, such as Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, that Iran poses a growing terrorist threat to the US in the Americas. While Jim has helped deconstruct that story line, I have recently marshaled evidence showing that Nisman’s charges about alleged Iranian involvement in the 1994 AMIA bombing and the 2007 JFK airport plot were tendentious and highly questionable.

[1] In one illustration of Rotella’s and Levitt’s long-time symbiosis, Levitt cited Rotella’s account of the alleged Baku plot as his main source about the incident in a 2013 article on alleged Hezbollah terrorism published by West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center (CTC).

[2] Rotella referred twice to “anti-terrorism officials” as sources for describing the surveillance of the alleged perpetrators that preceded their arrest and past work for Hezbollah. Of course, the phrase “anti-terrorism officials” does not exclude the possibility that they, too, were Israeli.)

[3] The first time the alleged plot’s details appeared in the Anglophone Israeli press was when Haaretz published a several hundred-word piece based virtually exclusively on Rotella’s account with the added detail, citing “Israeli sources,” that the “plotters also planned to kidnap the Israeli ambassador in Baku…”

[4] This account, incidentally, was the first to report the arrest in the case of “two Iranian spies”, another anomaly that may be explained by a flurry of media reports in 2010 that it was the two Lebanese who were released as part of a larger prisoner exchange that also included an Azerbaijani nuclear scientist arrested as a spy by Iran.

August 22, 2013 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Comments Off on How Rotella Reported Another Dubious Iranian Bomb Plot