Silver Lining

Food for thought

Tag Archives: weapons

“Israel’s” White Phosphorous Smokescreen?

gazanew_459761a

(Gaza, Palestine-file photo)

by Zarah Louis, source

On 26th April 2013, the BBC reported on its website that Israel was going to stop using white phosphorous in its shells and replace it with a gas.  This important declaration was largely ignored by the British media as the timing of Israel’s announcement came whilst they and the public were fixated on the conflicting reports concerning the authenticity of the ‘evidence’ that Syria had been using illegal weapons. The British newspaper, The Telegraph in fact presented this news as the introduction into an article reporting on the shooting down of a drone by Israel that had been flying over Lebanon.

Israel’s position on accusations that it had used white phosphorous in its shells has considerably shifted over the years, in a similar pattern of denials to that used by the USA. Israel initially denied that white phosphorous had been used at all, to eventually admitting that, yes they had used white phosphorous but only to create a smokescreen. Israel’s welcome April 2013 declaration that shells containing white phosphorous were going to be  ‘removed from active duty soon’ is not apparently due to its illegality or because of the terrible injuries it inflicts but because, ‘according to a senior officer, white phosphorous “does not look good, as we saw in Operation Cast Lead.”

The United Nations ‘Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects’ considers the usage of incendiary weapons to be illegal. Putting aside the irony of Israel being part of a coalition of nations concerned about Assad’s alleged use of illegal weapons, of the 115 state parties, 106 are signatories to the protocol. Israel, along with the Republic of Korea, Uganda and 6 other countries are not. Incendiary weapons do not however include:  ‘Munitions which may have incidental incendiary effects, such as illuminants, tracers, smoke or signaling systems’.

Whilst white phosphorous is an element that can be used in smoke shells and thus not covered by the above convention, it is used in incendiary devices, mortar and artillery shells which are.  White phosphorous burns fiercely and can inflict third degree burns and destroy bone. The Federation of American Scientist’s note that ‘White Phosphorous particles can burn combustible items upon contact until it has completed its reaction with oxygen, which can last up to 15 minutes depending on the munitions’.

Both the US administration, in the aftermath of their extensive usage of white phosphorous in Fallujah (operations nicknamed by their own soldiers as “shake and bake”) and Israel have tried to put their own spin as to how their own use of white phosphorous is acceptable. However, in a detailed 71 page report by Human Rights Watch, it was concluded that “Israel’s repeated firing of white phosphorus shells over densely populated areas of Gaza during its 2009 military campaign was indiscriminate and is evidence of war crimes.” But at least, Israel have broadcast to the world their intention to stop using it, however, that could prove to be yet another smokescreen.

On 9th July 2013, the High Court of Justice in Israel heard a petition filed byAdvocates Michael Sfard and Emily Schaeffer on behalf of 117 petitioners to demand that the Israeli military cease all use of white phosphorous in civilian areas. The Court dismissed the petition after the state attorney announced that it would not use white phosphorous in populated areas ‘ “for the time being,”  but with two “very narrow exceptions” that it would not make public for unspecified security reasons.’ In addition, it was claimed that there were no legal impediments to the continued use of white phosphorous.

Obviously one can only surmise at which ‘built up areas’ Israel believes that the continued use of white phosphorous is not only permissible in law but is an actual military necessity. It would not be disingenuous to suggest that Gaza is one of them, even though as The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories NGO  B’Tselem points out, “under international humanitarian law the use of white phosphorous in the present setting of the Gaza Strip is unlawful”.

B’Tselem’s contention that the use of white phosphorous is indeed illegal is inadvertently supported by a representative of Israel itself. In 2012, two shells were allegedly fired from Gaza landed in Southern Israel apparently without causing any injuries but were alleged to contain white phosphorous. As a consequence the chairman of Eshkol regional council in Israel, Haim Jelin wrote to the Secretary General of the United Nations, Ban Ki Moon.  “The Israel Defense Forces, charged with protecting the residents of the State of Israel, are criticized and judged due to their being the military of a U.N. member state. In contrast, Hamas, the ‘neighborhood bully,’ is not subject to international laws, and feels free to use illegal weaponry against an innocent civilian population — without being judged or criticized by any international body. I call upon you to put an end to this hypocrisy!” Quite!

The vocabulary of the ‘assurances’ given to the court by the state attorney on behalf of the military is worthy of some examination. Given the announcement in April that white phosphorous will be phased from use ‘soon’, promises that the Israeli military won’t use them ‘for the time being’ seems to be a strange turn of phrase.  Why ratify at court the possible future use of a weapon that should soon be obsolete?  Will these ‘very narrow ‘and secret exceptions also be exempt from the announcement made in April?

B’Tselem rightly identifies the very real concerns that “The current situation, whereby prohibition of use of the substance exists only as a pledge to the court, and is not backed by formal military orders, is unwelcome and leaves open a possibility of further use” vis à vis the Gaza Strip.  Yet a Court agreement, even one couched in vague terms with elements not known to the wider public, is binding, is it not? Certainly more so than a press release to the world’s media and perhaps as such this could help explain the obfuscation of the assurances given.

Unfortunately, it may yet transpire that the limited pledges quietly given to the Israeli court in July could carry far more weight than the apparently unambiguous promise given to the world by the Israeli military in April.

Advertisements

Britain pockets £12bn from arms exports to controversial regimes

Press TV

The British Foreign Office has approved more than £12 billion worth of current export licenses for arms and military gear to countries with a bad human rights record.

According to a cross-party group of MPs, 3,000 current export licences for arms and military equipment have been approved for 27 regimes on the Foreign Office’s list of human rights violators that include Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Israel.

“The government should apply significantly more cautious judgments when considering arms export licence applications for goods to authoritarian regimes‚ which might be used to facilitate internal repression‚ in contravention of the government’s stated policy”, said the former Conservative defence minister Sir John Stanley.

The agreement of almost 400 arms export licences for the Israeli regime and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, for equipment worth nearly £8billion, includes sections for body armour, parts for “all-wheel drive vehicles with ballistic protection”, assault rifles, pistols, military support vehicles, and small arms ammunition.

The existence of one licence to Israeli regime and the Occupied Palestinian Territories has not been made public until Wednesday. Worth £7.7bn, it relates to cryptographic equipment, which has dual defence and civilian use.

Over 400 current export licences to the Saudi regime include vehicles, components for military communications equipment, crowd-control ammunition, hand grenades, smoke/pyrotechnic ammunition and teargas.

“It would be hard not to conclude that the UK government’s arms sales practices are at odds with its stated policy not to send weapons to anywhere that poses a clear risk that they could be used for human rights violations,” Amnesty Intl.’s arms control expert Oliver Sprague said.

The scale and detail of the deals emerged after a forensic investigation by a committee of MPs, who also discovered that strategically controlled items have been sent to Belarus, Zimbabwe, China, Sri Lanka and Russia, – all of which feature prominently on the Foreign Office’s list of states with worrying civil rights records.

There are even three existing contracts for Syria, notwithstanding the fact that the UK is sending equipment to foreign-backed terrorists fighting the popular government of President Bashar al-Assad regime and is considering arming them. There are also 57 for Argentina, which is not on the list, but which remains in confrontation with Britain over the Falklands.

The countries for which the largest numbers of licences have been issued include China with 1,163 with individual licences worth £1.4 billion, Saudi Arabia with 417 licences and a value of £1.8 billion, and Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories with 381 licences and a value of £7.8 billion.

Labour MP Richard Burden, who chairs the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, said: “Many of the countries on the list are in the Middle East and North Africa. But what is most striking is that over half of the total is going to ‘Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories’. Look a little closer and you see that almost all of those exports are going to Israel, with only £5,539 going to the Occupied Territories. Look closer still and you see something utterly astonishing – 380 different licences have been granted for exports of arms and military equipment to Israel”.

The total cost of the exports remains unknown as some of them are approved with unlimited licenses.

Yemen seizes more Turkish-made arms

Press TV

Yemeni authorities have seized a boat attempting to smuggle Turkish-made weapons near the strait of Bab al-Mandab in the south.

According to Yemen’s official news agency Saba, authorities seized the weaponry on June 6.

Yemen’s Taizz region commander Ali Mussed Hussain told the news agency that the army had captured some 300 boxes of weapons. He also said that 15,000 Turkish-made colt pistol parts were among the weapons on the boat.

The Yemeni commander added that the army had also carried out a raid in the coastal village of al-Jadid, where two caches of arms and smuggled items were discovered.

Last month, Yemen’s Defense Ministry announced that the army had captured a boat carrying 20,000 Turkish-made guns in the coastal regions of the country.

Over the past months, at least four illegal shipments of Turkish-made weaponry have been seized by Yemeni authorities.

France to buy US-made Reaper drones for use in Mali: Report

(File photo)

Press TV

France has plans to purchase US-made unarmed Reaper surveillance drones in a bid to back up its military operations against fighters in the crisis-hit African country, Mali, a report says.

According to the report published by Air et Cosmos specialist magazine on Friday, France will buy two American medium-altitude Reaper drones following a deal reached between Paris and Washington.

The report added that the French Air Force, which has already deployed Israeli-made armed unmanned drones to the West African nation, intends to acquire more modern drones rapidly.

In February, a report published by the World Tribune indicated that the French military has used “Harfang” medium-altitude long endurance (MALE) drones manufactured by Israel in the war-torn country.

The Air et Cosmos report also stated that the French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who is currently on a visit to the US, is set to make an official announcement in this regard.

France launched its war on the resource-rich West African country in January under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda-linked extremists.

The French-led war on Mali has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in the northern areas of the country and has displaced thousands of people, who now live in deplorable conditions.

Amnesty International said on February 1 that serious human rights breaches including the killing of children were being conducted in Mali.

Some political analysts believe Mali’s abundant natural resources, including gold and uranium, are among the reasons behind the French war against the African country.

Coordinating with CIA, Qatari diwan, KSA control arms flow to Syria

Moqawama

Reuters reported Wednesday that Qatar, which has taken a lead in arming the Syrian opposition, is coordinating with the CIA.

Rebel fighters in Syria say that in recent months the system for distributing arms has become more centralized, with arms being delivered through opposition National Coalition’s General Command, led by Selim Idriss, a general who defected to the opposition and is a favorite of Washington.

Qatar mostly sends arms to rebels operating in the north of Syria, while Saudi Arabia, another rich Gulf Arab kingdom, sends weapons to fighters operating in the south, several rebel commanders said.

“The Qataris are now going through the Coalition for aid and humanitarian issues and for military issues they are going through the military command,” a commander in northern Syria interviewed from Beirut said.

He further stated: “Before the Coalition was formed they were going through liaison offices and other military and civil formations. That was at the beginning. Now it is different – it is all going through the Coalition and the military command.”

Today, Qatari shipments have resumed with controls exerted from the palace of Qatar’s emir, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani, in consultation with the US Central Intelligence Agency, said a senior Qatari security official.

“There’s an operations room in the Emir’s diwan (office complex), with representatives from every ministry sitting in that room, deciding how much money to allocate for Syria’s aid,” the Qatari official said.
“There’s a lot of consultation with the CIA, and they help Qatar with buying and moving the weapons into Syria, but just as consultants,” he said. The CIA declined to comment.

Rebel commanders contacted by Reuters said they submit their lists of needs to the General Command led by Idriss, which forwards the requests to Qatar or Saudi Arabia.

One Western source involved in the process said that sometimes weapons sent in by Qatar do in fact reach hardline groups.

Several rebel commanders said they believed wealthy Kuwaiti and Saudi individuals were also sending weapons and money to rebel fighters outside the National Coalition’s distribution channel.

“They usually ask for a video proving that an attack took place with the name of the brigade that did it. Sometimes they ask for a statement expressing gratitude,” said a rebel commander in Damascus.

He said the Saudis and Qataris also occasionally send weapons into each other’s territory, bypassing normal controls.

“Sometimes the Qataris manage to send stuff to the southern part and the Saudis to the northern side. When they do so, they send it to brigades that are not part of the military command.”

According to the Qatari official, weapons supplied included AK-47 rifles, rocket propelled grenades, hand grenades and ammunition. Qatar also provides instructions on battlefield techniques such as how to rig weapons on vehicles.

The weapons are purchased mainly from eastern Europe by arms brokers based in Britain and France, and are flown from Qatar to Ankara and then trucked to Syria, the Qatari source added.

Hugh Griffiths, a researcher on arms transfers at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, said 90 Qatari military air cargo flights were made to Turkey between 3 January 2012 and the end of April 2013.

He suggested the Qataris had made no particular effort to disguise the nature of the cargo.
The planes were Qatari air force aircraft flying from Al Udeid, a big air force base shared with the US military.

“This is quite unusual for arms deliveries intended for non-state actors in conflict zones, in the last 20 years or so the pattern has been to use private, commercial companies,” he said.

The Weapons Oligarchy

(Hiroshima-nuclear bomb aftermath)

Federal Taxes Reward 8-Figure Pentagon Fraud Spree

by JOHN LaFORGE, source

With the Pentagon having secured its annual 47 percent of the April 15 federal tax haul ($1,335 billion out of a total of $2,890 billion) it’s a good time to consider the mountains of money being wasted on useless weapons or just plain stolen.

Without a public uproar, U.S. could spend more than $600 billion on nuclear weapons over the next 10 years, according to Alicia Godsberg of Peace Action and others.[1]

President Obama has famously mouthed support for “a world without nuclear weapons,” and “a world where these weapons will never again threaten our children,”[2] but his nuclear weapons budget says bombs, bombs and more bombs.

For 2014, the President plans a nuclear weapons spending increase over the current level of $7.227 billion. Where’s the money to come from? Taking a page from the Reagan/Thatcher play book, Obama plans to get it from the nuclear non-proliferation budget. According to a report by Jeffery Smith and Douglas Birch in Foreign Policy April 9, the president has proposed a $460 million cut from the nuclear non-proliferation program — so it can boost nuclear weapons building programs by exactly $500 million.[3]

Since 2011, Obama has been pushing a plan to spend $85 billion over 10 years to rebuild thousands of H-bombs — bombs that should be retired and abolished. The president has also proposed pouring $125 billion over 10 years into a new fleet of nuclear-armed submarines, new nuclear bombers and new land-based ICBMs.[4]

One plan is to return 200 B61 gravity H-bombs from five U.S. bases in Europe, where they are unwanted, and to replace their warheads and tail fins. Today, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Belgium are debating whether they want the U.S. bombs ousted permanently, yet the Pentagon plans to return them to European fighter bases with new “life extension.” Europeans by the millions are demanding that the B61s be withdrawn forever.

The H-bomb program, known as the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA), estimated last year that the B61 make-work plan would cost $7 billion and produce its first replacement bomb in 2019. The Pentagon countered that it would cost $10.4 billion and take until 2022. Daryl Kimball and Tom Collina reported April 11 in Arms Control Now that 400 new B61-12s are planned, at roughly $25 million-per bomb.[5] Boeing Corp. hopes to make hundreds of millions working on the 50-kiloton devices,[6] each one capable of a Hiroshima massacre times four.

Joe Cirincione, of the Council on Foreign Relations and president of the Ploughshares Fund, charged April 21 that “lavishing” billions on the B61 “is criminal.”[7]

According to Edward Aguilar of Project for Nuclear Awareness, cancelling construction of the new submarines, reducing the current number of such subs, and retiring rather than replacing nuclear warheads and a couple hundred ICBMs would save $270 billion.

Billions for unneeded, unusable weapons

As every combat or terror casualty since 1950 proves, our nuclear weapons cannot protect us. So what is this spending for?

One answer was revealed on March 14, 1992, when the Associated Press reported on a study — by Admiral Bruce DeMars — that made clear that the purpose of new submarines was “to protect the vast industrial facilities and skilled workers needed to build them, not because the submarines themselves were needed.”[8] Today’s plans are precisely the same. With its 5,000 ready and reserve nuclear weapons, the US can pulverize every major city on earth with over 200 each.

The NNSA calls Obama’s new warhead production “modernization” or “refurbishment” or “life extension.” This is just euphemism, deception, deceit and disinformation used to help rob the taxpayers, and it has no purpose but to pamper billionaire industrialists and string out some cancer-causing careers.

Because fear moves taxpayers to send half their federal taxes to the Pentagon and to a militarized space program and Energy Department, the deceptions extend to the manufacture of threats too. Thus, North Korea’s nuclear nothing somehow endangers the Pentagon colossus. On April 3, the New York Times said North Korea might have “6 to 8” nuclear weapons. Four days earlier it noted two salient facts on its page one: North Korea’s missiles cannot reach the U.S.; and there is no evidence that its bombs can be made small enough to fit on a missile. Even the Wall St. Journal admitted that Pyongyang “isn’t thought to be capable of following through.”[9]

With $1 billion being spent on new “missile interceptors” in Alaska “to foil North Korea,” cynical fear mongering has reached absurd heights. Experts have reported for decades that money spent on missile defense is wasted. Even the cold-blooded Margaret Thatcher said, “I am a chemist. I know it won’t work.”[10]

Mr. Cirincione said Pentagon contracts for useless weapons are “clearly aimed at buying senators’ votes.”[11] Two years ago, the Government Accountability Office found a staggering $70 billion in Pentagon spending that was nothing but waste.[12] In the realm high crimes, it takes a lot of bribery, larceny, robbery, kickbacks and embezzlement to steal that much money and then to protect so much theft from the law.

The weapons oligarchy appears to be a racketeering-influenced and corrupt organization. Luckily, the RICO Act provides for heavy criminal penalties for such death-dealing corruption.

John LaForge works for Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, and edits its Quarterly.

Notes.

[1] “The Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget,” New York Times, editorial, Oct. 11, 2011; & Alicia Godsberg, letter, New York Times, Sept. 30, 2011
[2] Joe Cirincione, interviewed on Rachel Maddow, MSNBC, April 21, 2013, <http://ploughshares.org/>
[3] R. Jeffrey Smith & Douglas Birch, “Obama Proposes Shifting Funds from Nuclear Nonproliferation to Nuclear Weapons,” Foreign Policy.com, April 9, 2013,
[4] “The Bloated Nuclear Weapons Budget,” New York Times, editorial, Oct. 30, 2011
[6] Hans M. Kristensen, “B61-12: Contract Signed for Improving Precision of Nuclear Bomb,” Federation of American Scientists, Nov. 28, 2012; http://blogs.fas.org/security/2012/11/b61-12contract/
[7] Julian Borger, “Obama accused of U-turn as guided weapons plan emerges,” The Guardian, April 21, 2013http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/21/obama-accused-nuclear-guided-weapons-plan
[8] Associated Press, “Navy seeks to preserve submarine shipyards: In doing so it would buy some vessels it may not need,” Milwaukee Journal, March 14, 1992
[9] Wall St. Journal, March 29, 2013, p. A12

[10] “Margaret Thatcher, ‘Iron Lady’ Who Set Britain on New Course, Dies at 87,” New York Times, April 9, 2013, p. A11

[11] Ibid, n. 7

[12] Christopher Drew, “Audit of Pentagon Spending Finds $70 Billion in Waste,” New York Times, March 30, 2011

US arms deal gathers “Israel”, UAE, KSA in face of Iran

Moqawama

The New York Times US daily reported Friday that the US War Department is expected to finalize a $10 billion common arms deal with “Israel”, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates next week.

According to the daily, “the deal will provide missiles, warplanes and troop transports to help them counter any future threat from Iran.”

This comes as a weeklong visit to the region by US War Secretary Chuck Hagel will culminate a year of secret negotiations on a deal that Congressional officials said will be second only to the $29.5 billion sale of F-15 aircraft to Saudi Arabia announced in 2010.

“While one goal was to ensure that “Israel” continues to field the most capable armed forces in the region to deter Iran and counter a range of threats, it was equally important to improve the capabilities of two important Arab military partners,” the report said.

“Another challenge,” senior US administration officials said, “was coming up with a package that could help “Israel” deal with various security challenges – but devised so it would not be viewed as an American endorsement of accelerated planning by “Israel” to strike alone at nuclear Iranian facilities.”

In this context, one senior administration official claimed, “the goal was not just to boost “Israel’s” capabilities, but also to boost the capabilities of our Persian Gulf partners so they, too, would be able to address the Iranian threat – and also provide a greater network of coordinated assets around the region to handle a range of contingencies.”

To the US official, “other security risks, include the roiling war in Syria – a country with chemical weapons- and militant violence in the Sinai Peninsula.”

Under the agreement, all sides would be allowed to purchase advanced armaments from American contractors. In the case of “Israel”, there is also substantial American financial assistance, topping $3 billion in military aid this fiscal year.

“Israel” would buy new missiles designed to take out an adversary’s air radars, as well as advanced radars for its own warplanes, new refueling tanker planes and – in the first sale to any foreign military – the V-22 Osprey troop transport aircraft. The United Arab Emirates would buy 26 F-16 warplanes, a package that could reach $5 billion alone, along with precision missiles that could be launched from those jets at distant ground targets. Saudi Arabia would buy the same class of advanced missile.

The expectation is that the arms sale, which was outlined to Congress on Thursday, will encounter little opposition from lawmakers, especially from members representing the many districts where military contractors are concerned about the impact of cutbacks in the Pentagon’s own weapons budget.

But Congressional officials said members were seeking assurances that the package was in keeping with American policy to guarantee “Israel’s” “qualitative military edge”.

Under the terms of the deal, “Israel” would be allowed to buy the tilt-rotor V-22 Osprey, an aircraft that can take off and land like a helicopter but fly with the speeds and range of an airplane. “Israel” could use the Osprey for patrolling its borders, coastline and out to sea, and for moving troops to troubled areas.

A new generation of KC-135 refueling tanker planes would let “Israel’s” warplanes stay in the air longer, an ability essential for any long-range mission – like a strike by Iran. The tankers would also be useful for air patrols.

“Israel” also would receive anti-radiation missiles. New, advanced radars for “Israel’s” military jets also would be in the package.

US Administration officials declined to identify the new missile to be sold to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, except to say that it is an advanced class of precision “standoff munitions” – those designed to be launched from warplanes safely distant from ground targets.

The missile, one senior official claimed, is to “address the threat posed by Iran.”

US, Israeli missile experts report Iron Dome’s success rate as low as zero

Press TV

As American President Barack Obama hailed the ‘resounding success’ of Israel’s US-financed Iron Dome antimissile system on the first of his tour there, missile experts have newly unveiled that Iron Dome’s success rate during the regime’s November war on Gaza was as low as zero.

While Obama used his Wednesday’s tour of an Iron Dome installation, “celebrating a technological wonder built with the help of American dollars” and seeking to showcase US support of the Zionist regime, there was no mention about the “intensifying debate” on whether the promotion of the system’s success rate was “more illusory than real,” says a The New York Times article on Thursday.

Contrary to Israeli claims that Iron Dome’s success rate in destroying incoming Palestinian rockets during the regime’s massive military strikes against the blockaded Gaza strip was 90 percent, studies by weapons experts in the US and Israel suggest that the anti-missile system “destroyed no more than 40 percent” of the rockets “and perhaps far fewer,” the report emphasizes.

Many rockets, they argue, were “merely crippled or deflected” but not destroyed as claimed, allowing intact or dying rockets to fall on populated areas.

Following the wildly exaggerated claims by the Israeli regime about Iron Dome’s success rate, the US Congress also described the system as “very effective,” pledging an additional USD680 million for deployments through 2015.

According to the report, Richard Lloyd, a weapons expert who has written a critique of Iron Dome for engineers and weapons designers, and Theodore Postol, a physicist at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) who helped reveal major Patriot antimissile failures in 1991, analyzed new videos on the performance of the Israeli anti-missile system and found that Iron Dome “repeatedly failed to hit its targets head-on.”

“It’s very hard to see how it could be more than 5 or 10 percent,” the report quotes Dr. Postol as saying.

Moreover, the daily adds, Mordechai Shefer, an Israeli rocket scientist formerly with Rafael, Iron Dome’s maker, studied about two dozen videos and, in a study published last month, “concluded that the kill rate was zero.”

Meanwhile, the paper underlines that Iron Dome’s performance is the key to a potential Israeli decision whether to take military action against the Islamic Republic as it has repeatedly threatened, hinging on its estimate of possible retaliatory costs, “including damage inflicted by rockets fired from southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip,” not to mention Iran’s own long-range ballistic missiles.

Amid the growing anxiety over any Iranian retaliatory strikes on Israel in case of an American or an Israeli attack against the country, as often threatened by officials of both allies as a ploy aimed at pressuring Tehran into abandoning its right to use peaceful nuclear technology, “the Israeli public saw Iron dome’s (reported) early successes” against rocket fire from Gaza “as proof” that it can tolerate retaliatory strikes, the report adds, citing Israeli antimissile program’s founder, Uzi Rubin.

Following the Gaza cease-fire last year, the report notes, Lloyd began scrutinizing “hundreds of online videos of Iron Dome in action,” looking for “unambiguous signs of success: pairs of fireballs (at night) or smoke clouds (during the day) that formed as speeding fragments blew up a warhead.”

However, “he found very few,” the daily adds, citing Lloyd.

Lloyds method of video analysis won scientific backing during the 1991 US-led Persian Gulf war against Iraq, as the American military boasted that its Patriot interceptors, built to protect Israel against potential missile attacks by Iraqi dictator at the time Saddam Hussein, had succeeded 96 percent of the time.

MIT scientist, however, “analyzed broadcast videos and found only misses,” according to the Time’s report.

In Israel, meanwhile, Lloyd won support from Reuven Pedatzur, a military analyst and former fighter pilot “long skeptical of his country’s antimissile claims,” who found an Israeli police report saying that 109 rockets launched from Gaza – roughly twice the military’s figure – hit urban areas.

Pedatzur further discovered “evidence of wide destruction” inflicted by rockets fired by Palestinian Hamas militants.

A Finance Ministry report registered 3,165 claims of property damage, “including to cars and buildings in cities like Ashdod and Beersheba, both protected by Iron Dome battalions.”

France will soon repent for backing al-Qaeda terrorists in Syria

(Syria- File photo)

by Yusuf Fernandez, source

In late February, some international agencies reported that hundreds of foreign rebels were fleeing from the Idleb Province in Northwestern Syria through Turkey under the claim that they were planning to join al-Qaeda militants in Mali in order to fight against French troops deployed there.

The reason of this withdrawal is not clear. Some observers said that the real reason behind it was the Syrian army´s offensive against terrorist groups in the province and the disappointment of some militants who have seen that their fight is not popular in Syria, as their recruiters had made them believe before going to Syria.

The irony is that France, which invaded Mali some weeks ago to theorically fight against radical groups in that country, will have to end up fighting against the same groups that the French government has been openly funding. These militants have used French money and training in Syria in order to gain combat experience and they will implement this newly-acquired knowledge against French troops in Mali.

According to observers, France has become the most prominent Western backer of Syria´s armed opposition and is now directly funding terrorist groups around Aleppo and other parts of the Arab country as part of a new attempt to overthrow the Syrian government. Large sums of money have been delivered by French government proxies across the Turkish border to rebel commanders, diplomatic sources have confirmed. The money has been used to buy weapons inside Syria and to fund armed operations against government forces.

On March 14, French FM Laurent Fabius announced that France and the UK would ignore a EU ban on sending weapons to Syria in order to supply terrorist groups fighting there with more arms. The goal remains the same: to overthrow Bashar al Assad´s government. The French newspaper Le Figaro also reported in those days that French military advisers had recently met with rebel groups inside Syria, in an area between Lebanon and Damascus. It is worth pointing out that sending military personnel to a country without the permission of its government amounts to a military invasion.

Despite all this support, the political goal of France in Syria seems to be as far as ever. “Things are not moving. The solution that we had hoped for, and by that I mean the fall of Bashar and the arrival of the (opposition) coalition to power, has not happened”, acknowledged Fabius on January 24. In December 2012, he had claimed that the “end is nearing” for the Syrian president. A senior Lebanese official who visited the France towards the end of last year told the daily Al Safir that “France was surprised by the fact that Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, his regime and his army could resist”.

For its part, the Syrian government has condemned this French interference in its internal affairs. “France is acting like a hostile nation”, said National Reconciliation Minister Ali Haidar to AFP. “It is as if it wants to go back to the time of the occupation,” he added, referring to the French rule in Syria after World War I. Damascus has made it clear that France´s current policies will weaken or even eliminate its political, economic and cultural influence in Syria, maybe forever.

Moreover, France is now getting nervous about the possibility of reprisals from the al-Qaeda-linked groups, similar to those it is funding in Syria, for its intervention in Mali. On March 1, three suspected militants were arrested in southern France for allegedly planning an attack in the deays ahead, the Paris prosecutor said.

Change of foreign policy

The boomerang effect of supporting terrorism in Syria is just one of the disastrous consequences of the change of the French policy towards the Arab and Muslim world, which started when the pro-Israeli and pro-NATO Nicolas Sarkozy became President. Prior to that fact, France had gained a solid reputation due to its Gaullist foreign policy, one of whose pillars was the independence of the country with respect to the United States. In February 2003, French Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin, was universally applauded when he opposed Colin Powell´s pathetic attempts to justify the then-forthcoming invasion of Iraq with blatant lies about the non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.

The new French foreign policy, under influence of Zionist politicians such as Sarkozy himself, Bernard Kouchner or Laurent Fabius and Zionist activists as Bernard Henry-Levy, changed the equation. France began to promote pro-Israeli and neo-colonial policies in Africa and the Middle East, where France adopted an even more radical stance against Syria and Iran than any other Western country.

In Africa, Paris has increased its military presence in recent years. France´s intervention in Mali, with a contingent of 750 troops, has sought to bolster the Malian army against the al-Qaeda rebels, who have controlled the north of the country for about two years. However, the war in Mali is still beginning and, even worse, it is becoming another asymmetric and far-reaching war which could involve France for years, although Paris has repeatedly announced its willingness to evacuate its army from the African country as soon as possible.

Qatar, France´s ally, supported extremists in Mali

On the other hand, Qatar, which just happens to be a major ally of France in the Syrian question, has criticized Paris´s intervention in Mali arguing that the force would not solve the problem. French officials have openly accused Qatar of funding the Mali rebels.

The first accusations of Qatari involvement with Tuareg separatists and al-Qaeda-linked groups came in a June 2012 article in French weekly the Canard Enchainé. The publication quoted an unnamed source in French military intelligence saying: “The MNLA (secular Tuareg separatists), al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine and MUJAO [movement for unity and Jihad in West Africa] have all received cash from Doha.” “The French government knows perfectly well who is supporting these terrorists. Qatar, for example, continues to send so-called aid and food every day to the airports of Gao and Timbuktu.”
The speculation is that Qatar is keen to increase its influence in Mali in order to develop business ties with this nation, which is believed to have significant oil, gas and uranium resources. Moreover, its presence in Mali “greatly increase the Emirate´s influence in West Africa and the Sahel region”, regional geopolitical expert Mehdi Lazar, who specialises on Qatar, wrote in French weekly news magazine L’Express in December. Qatar would also be trying to destabilize Algeria, one of the Arab countries remaining free from its political influence.

France, for its part, is determined to help the pro-French military junta rule the entire nation and sees Qatari activities in Mali with dismay. The Canard Echainé wrote: “Earlier this year, several notes from the DGSE (the French Intelligence Service) alerted the Elysee Palace on international activities and, dare we say, the emirate of Qatar.”

On 22 January, French news site France24 published an article entitled “Is Qatar fuelling the crisis in north Mali?” which claimed that Doha had taken sides with the Mali insurgents. According to author Segolene Allemandou, Qatari rulers aim to spread extremism in Africa with the help of these rebels. The subtle message was clear: the emirate´s support for terrorism will damage its long-term image in Europe.

Destroying a pluralist Syria

In this context, everyone can understand that Saudi and Qatari support extremists who fight against a multifaith and multicultural Syria and against all the religious groups supporting interfaith cooperation and coexistence, such as mainstream Sunni Muslims, Shiites, Alawites and Christians. After all, in Saudi Arabia only the Wahabi current enjoys full religious freedom. The rest of the faiths are discriminated, persecuted or banned. But some people can find it difficult to understand why the West, including France, is allied with extremist Salafist groups persecuting Christians and destroying churches.

The anwer is that France and other Western governments are actually not interested in democracy or political and religious freedom but in pursuing their own political, strategic and economic interests at any cost. French aggressions in Africa have led to the death of thousands of innocent people and have ruined the lives of millions of others, not to mention its involvement in the Rwandan genocide in 1994. With its current policies towards Syria, Paris only tries to reimpose their neo-colonial yoke on that country. However, after many decades of independence and of enjoying their sovereignty, Syrian people are not willing to become slaves of European goverments or of corrupt, backward, terrorist-friendly and despotic regimes as the Saudi or the Qatari.

By funding and delivering weapons to terrorist groups, the French government, alongside with its allies, is not only violating the international law but it is also destroying the possibility of a peaceful solution to the Syrian conflict and leaving its resolution in the hands of the military. In this way, Syria´s friends should take good note of this fact and multiply their military aid to Syria in order to prevent their own interests from being damaged. The Syrian state is strong and its people is indomable, but there is no doubt that Syria will need all kind of support from free people in the world in order to resist this aggression.

“US to send arms in Afghanistan to Syrian militants”

Al Manar

The Pentagon had decided to send a major part of its light and semi-heavy weapons systems and military equipment to the Syrian militants, along with its pullout from Afghanistan, Fars news agency reported on Saturday.

A ranking member of the US marine troops deployed in Afghanistan told the agency on Saturday that “the Pentagon made the decision when former US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, was still in office.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity, he stated: “The decision to send our arms and weapons systems in Afghanistan to the rebel groups in Syria was originally made when the former US Secretary of Defense was in his final days of office.”

“Yet, the Pentagon has also received the approval of new (Defense) Secretary, Chuck Hagel, as well,” the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, added.

The US official further indicated that “one of these cargos consists of the light and semi-heavy military tools, equipment and weapons that the US army has gathered and piled up in Kandahar Base and plans to send them to the rebels in Syria in the form of several air and sea cargos,” clarifying that the operation will take place “through Turkey and Jordan.”

“These weapons and arms systems include anti-armor and missile systems, rocket-launchers and rockets and tens of armored Humvees,” the Iranian news agency further quoted the US official as saying, as he indicated that “senior war strategists in the Pentagon believe that they can change the scene of the war in Syria in the interest of the rebel groups with the help of these cargos.”

United Kingdom funds Al Qaeda Syria terrorists

by Tony Cartalucci, source

 Resorting to name-calling, the United Kingdom’s legitimacy slumped further still as it stubbornly maintained its support for terrorists attempting to overthrow the Syrian government, now unsuccessfully for over 2 years. Unlike in Libya where NATO was able to militarily intervene directly and overthrow the Libyan government before the public realized the so-called “rebels” were in fact the US State Department, United Nations, and the UK Home Office (page 5, .pdf)-listed Al Qaeda terrorist organization, the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG), the West’s assault on Syria has dragged on much longer.

So long in fact, that the entire world is now acutely aware of the so-called “rebels,” their overt affiliations and membership amongst Al Qaeda, the serial atrocities they’ve committed, and the draconian, barbaric sectarian (and quite “undemocratic”) rule they plan on imposing, already on display in northern Syria where extremist cleric, Moaz al-Khatib, designated by the West as the “opposition leader,” recently visited.

Al-Khatib is portrayed as a “moderate” by the Western media, which makes a point of repeating this every time al-Khatib’s name is mentioned. His profile, as provided by the BBC states:

Mr Khatib is not allied to any political party and is known as a moderate who has called for political pluralism and strongly opposes sectarian divisions among Syrians

“We demand freedom for every Sunni, Alawite, Ismaili (Shia), Christian, Druze, Assyrian … and rights for all parts of the harmonious Syrian people,” he said after being elected leader of the National Coalition.

Of course, his carefully crafted image and rhetoric is overshadowed by his actual deeds, which included his openly embracing Al Qaeda in December of 2012, demanding that the US delist Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise, al-Nusra, as a terrorist organization. Reuters quoted al-Khatib as saying:

“The decision to consider a party that is fighting the regime as a terrorist party needs to be reviewed. We might disagree with some parties and their ideas and their political and ideological vision. But we affirm that all the guns of the rebels are aimed at overthrowing the tyrannical criminal regime.”

Al-Khatib’s comments not only indicated his support for Al Qaeda, but revealed his “opposition” front’s collaboration with the terrorist organization, admittedly leading the fighting across Syria from Daraa in the south, to Idlib and Aleppo in the north, and all along Syria’s border with Iraq, where the very extremists the US fought for nearly 10 years are slinking over the border and now being portrayed as “freedom fighters” by the Western media. It should also be noted that al-Nusra is guilty of some of the most heinous atrocities of the Syrian conflict, including a recent, indiscriminate car bombing in Damascus which killed over 50 people, including school children.

More recently, Al-Khatib, even as he prepared to receive millions in aid from the West, including the US and UK, reiterated his support for Al Qaeda. The Washington Post’s article, “U.S. announces expanded battlefield aid to Syrian rebels, but not arms,” stated:

Coalition chairman Mouaz al-Khatib angrily appealed for a humanitarian corridor to the besieged city of Homs and said the rebels are tired of Western complaints aboutextremists in their ranks. He argued that the real enemy is the Assad regime but said too many outsiders are worried only about “the length of a beard of a fighter.”

“No terrorists in the world have such a savage nature as those in the regime,” Khatib said in Arabic.

The Syrian opposition leader’s finger-jabbing anger was in marked contrast to Kerry’s clipped and measured tone. Kerry looked at Khatib without expression as the Syrian spoke.

Al-Khatib’s history as a “cleric,” and his continuous, open, and adamant support for Al Qaeda, even in the wake of repeated atrocities, should be a prompt for the West to add him and his “opposition” organization to its list of foreign terrorist organizations. Anti-terrorist legislation in both the US and UK stipulate that any individual or organization providing material support for a listed terrorist organization is guilty of a criminal offense. Clearly not only does al-Khatib qualify, but so does US Secretary of State John Kerry and his British counterpart Foreign Secretary William Hague, as they hand Al Qaeda-coddling al-Khatib millions to carry on his open support of terrorism.

Syria’s President Assad Called “Delusional” for Reading West’s Own Documented Admissions

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad recently berated the West for its hypocritical support of terrorism in Syria, and likened the West’s attempt to portray itself as attempting to bring peace to Syria to an arsonist trying to put out a fire. While the UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague resorted to juvenile name-calling as he dismissed accusations that his government is sponsoring international terrorism, President Assad is simply reading articles dating back to 2007 where Western officials openly admitted their plan to use terrorist extremists to overthrow the Syrian government – not for promoting “democracy,” but specifically to undermine and overthrow Iran in turn.

Both Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh’s New Yorker 2007 article, “The Redirection,” and the Wall Street Journal’s 2007 article, “To Check Syria, U.S. Explores Bond With Muslim Brothers,” tell a narrative of a West actively arming and funding sectarian extremists with direct ties to Al Qaeda even then, to begin undermining and overthrowing both Syria and Iran. The conspiracy admitted to then, is now openly being executed to horrific effect in Syria and along its peripheries.

William Hague and John Kerry can deny, spin, and coverup the fact that they are funding and arming Al Qaeda either directly or through a series of increasingly obvious proxies, millions to overthrow the Syrian government, but Syrian President Assad is by no means “delusional” as Hague childishly accused, for pointing out this documented and increasingly transparent conspiracy. Hague, it would appear, would also have us believe the New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh and the staff at the Wall Street Journal are likewise “delusional.”

It is important that we identify the corporate-financier interests driving this increasingly unhinged, unraveling agenda – interests we most likely patronize on a daily basis, and both boycott andpermanently replace them to erode the unwarranted influence they have used to both plan and execute this assault on Syria’s people. Today it is Syria, surely tomorrow, if they succeed, it will be us.

Saudi Arabia supplies Syrian militants with Croatian arms: Report

(File photo)

Al Manar

Saudi Arabia has been supplying Syrian militants battling the Syrian regime with arms bought from Croatia, according to The New York Times.

Citing unnamed US and Western officials, the newspaper reported late Monday that the Saudi-financed “large purchase of infantry weapons” was part of an “undeclared surplus” of arms left over from the Balkan wars in the 1990s and that they began reaching anti-regime fighters via Jordan in December.

That was when many Yugoslav weapons started showing up in YouTube videos posted by rebels, it said.

Since then, The daily added, officials said “multiple planeloads” of weapons have left Croatia, with one quoted as saying the shipments included “thousands of rifles and hundreds of machine guns,” as well as an “unknown quantity of ammunition.”

A spokeswoman for the Croatian foreign ministry told The New York Times that, since the start of the Arab Spring, the Balkan country had not sold any weapons to either Saudi Arabia or the Syrian rebels.

Saudi and Jordanian officials meanwhile declined to comment, the newspaper added, indicating that “Washington’s role, if any at all, was unclear.”

However, it quoted one senior US official as describing the shipments as “a maturing of the opposition’s logistical pipeline.”

Iron dome missile went off-course

‘Iron Dome Missile Almost Caused Disaster for Israelis’

Al Manar

A Zionist Iron Dome missile that was specified for obstructing the Palestinian rockets, almost killed and injured a number of Zionist after it lost track and fell close to tens of cars with Zionists inside them.

Paltoday quoted Israeli sources as saying that this accident, which took place during the last days of war on Gaza, fell on Street number “4” near Eshdod, causing panic among the Israelis.

The sources also clarified that the missile deviated from its specified track towards street number “4” were tens of cars where on the road, but fell in an open area 30 meters away from the road, and its shrapnels dispersed widely.

The Gulf protection racket is corrupt and dangerous folly

by Peter Schrank

Sooner or later the Arab despots David Cameron is selling arms to will fall, and the states that backed them will pay the price

by Seumas Milne, The Guardian

On the nauseating political doublespeak scale, David Cameron’s claim to “support the Arab spring” on a trip to sell weapons to Gulf dictators this week hit a new low. No stern demands for free elections from the autocrats of Arabia – or calls for respect for human rights routinely dished out even to major powers like Russia and China.

As the kings and emirs crack down on democratic protest, the prime minister assured them of his “respect and friendship”. Different countries, he explained soothingly in Abu Dhabi, needed “different paths, different timetables” on the road to reform: countries that were western allies, spent billions on British arms and sat on some of the world’s largest oil reserves in particular, he might have added by way of explanation.

Cameron went to the Gulf as a salesman for BAE Systems – the private arms corporation that makes Typhoon jets – drumming up business from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and Oman, as well as smoothing ruffled feathers over British and European parliamentary criticism of their human rights records on behalf of BP and other companies.

No wonder the prime minister restricted media coverage of the jaunt. But, following hard on the heels of a similar trip by the French president, the western message to the monarchies was clear enough: Arab revolution or not, it’s business as usual with Gulf despots.

The spread of protest across the Arab world has given these visits added urgency. A year ago, in the wake of the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, it seemed the Gulf regimes and their western backers had headed off revolt by crushing it in Bahrain, buying it off in Saudi Arabia, and attempting to hijack it in Libya and then Syria – while successfully playing the anti-Shia sectarian card.

But popular unrest has now reached the shores of the Gulf. In Kuwait, tens of thousands of demonstrators, including Islamists, liberals and nationalists, have faced barrages of teargas and stun grenades as they protest against a rigged election law, while all gatherings of more than 20 have been banned.

After 18 months of violent suppression of the opposition in Bahrain, armed by Britain and America, the regime has outlawed all anti-government demonstrations. In western-embraced Saudi Arabia, protests have been brutally repressed, as thousands are held without charge or proper trial.

Meanwhile, scores have been jailed in the UAE for campaigning for democratic reform, and in Britain’s favourite Arab police state of Jordan, protests have mushroomed against a Kuwaiti-style electoral stitchup. London, Paris and Washington all express concern – but arm and back the autocrats.

Cameron insists they need weapons to defend themselves. When it comes to the small arms and equipment Britain and the US supply to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and other Gulf states, he must mean from their own people. But if he’s talking about fighter jets, they’re not really about defence at all.

This is effectively a mafia-style protection racket, in which Gulf regimes use oil wealth their families have commandeered to buy equipment from western firms they will never use. The companies pay huge kickbacks to the relevant princelings, while a revolving door of political corruption provides lucrative employment for former defence ministers, officials and generals with the arms corporations they secured contracts for in office.

Naturally, western leaders and Arab autocrats claim the Gulf states are threatened by Iran. In reality, that would only be a risk if the US or Israel attacked Iran – and in that case, it would be the US and its allies, not the regimes’ forces, that would be defending them. Hypocrisy doesn’t begin to describe this relationship, which has long embedded corruption in a web of political, commercial and intelli gence links at the heart of British public life.

But support for the Gulf dictatorships – colonial-era feudal confections built on heavily exploited foreign workforces – is central to western control of the Middle East and its energy resources. That’s why the US has major military bases in Kuwait, Qatar, the UAE, Oman and Bahrain.

The danger now is of escalating military buildup against Iran and intervention in the popular upheavals that have been unleashed across the region. Both the US and Britain have sent troops to Jordan in recent months to bolster the tottering regime and increase leverage in the Syrian civil war. Cameron held talks with emirates leaders this week about setting up a permanent British military airbase in the UAE.

The prime minister defended arms sales to dictators on the basis of 300,000 jobs in Britain’s “defence industries”. Those numbers are inflated and in any case heavily reliant on government subsidy. But there’s also no doubt that British manufacturing is over-dependent on the arms industry and some of that support could usefully be diverted to, say, renewable technologies.

But even if morality and corruption are dismissed as side issues, the likelihood is that, sooner or later, these autocrats will fall – as did the Shah’s regime in Iran, on which so many British and US arms contracts depended at the time. Without western support, they would have certainly been toppled already. As Rached Ghannouchi, the Tunisian leader whose democratic Islamist movement was swept to power in elections last year, predicted: “Next year it will be the turn of monarchies.” When that happens, the western world risks a new backlash from its leaders’ corrupt folly.

Disappointed of “Israeli” drones: Turkey returns failing ones

Moqawama

Turkey’s military plans to return three tactical UAVs to the Zionist entity due to the vehicles’ poor performance and not fulfilling the conditions.

The UAVs, called Aerostars, are built by Aeronautics, an “Israeli” company.

In this context, one procurement official informed “The Defense News” Magazine: “The contract is at a stage of cancellation. The UAVs will be returned.”

Turkish officials did not specify the performance problems with the UAVs.

It is worth mentioning that “Israel” became one of Turkey’s top arms suppliers in the mid-1990s.

However, after the well-publicized delivery of 10 Heron UAVs in 2010, and the raid on Marmara vessel that led to the death of nine Turks, Turkey reduced diplomatic ties with “Israel”. It also canceled several drills with “Israel’s” military.

The Turkish press misreported that the UAVs that were returned to “Israel” were Herons, which are medium-altitude, long-endurance (MALE) UAVs.

The UAVs are mainly used for reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence purposes, and in some cases as offensive weapons.

For its part, Aeronautics officials did not comment on the Aerostar issue.

An “Israeli” diplomat, Nizar Amir, said he had not heard about the Turkish position. “We have not been informed by Turkish authorities,” he said about the Aerostar problem.