Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Does US Have Role in Anti-ISIS Fight?
|Nikolai BOBKIN | 13.10.2015 | 00:00|
Europe is facing uncontrolled flows of refugees, terrorist threat and public discontent. People begin to ask questions. Russia is taking independent actions in Syria. Perhaps, it could offer better solutions to these problems than Washington.
If leading European Union members gave priority to the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) instead of ousting Assad, they would be closer to Russia than to the US. Anyway, unlike before, there is no unity on the issue in their ranks. The voices calling for throwing support behind Russia are getting louder. For instance, Marine Le Pen, the head of French National Front party, has endorsed Russia. She said Russia is doing what the West had to do a few years ago.
On October 8, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter criticized the Russia’s military operation in Syria. «We've seen increasingly unprofessional behavior from Russian forces. They violated Turkish airspace... They shot cruise missiles from the Caspian sea without warning,» Carter said after NATO defense talks in Brussels. The Secretary noted that the missiles came within a few miles of hitting a US drone over Syrian airspace.
First, no way can one agree with the Secretary’s remarks about Russian pilots’ unprofessional behavior. Obviously, Russian forces don’t have to report to the United States, their air strikes in Syria are conducted upon the request of the country’s legitimate government. Syria’s Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad offered his own assessment of Russia’s actions. He said Russia has already achieved more success striking terrorist groups than the US-led bombing campaign has for over a year.
Syria's ambassador to Russia, Riad Haddad, said«According to our data, about 40 percent (was destroyed). In addition, a lot of terrorists have been killed. Now, they are retreating toward the Turkish border.» According to him, the Russian strikes are very accurate and effective. Russian warplanes closely coordinate their actions with the Syrian army units fighting on the ground. Syrian military provide Russian aircraft with targeting data. Russian pilots really fight; they don’t pretend to be engaged in combat activities like the crews of US Air Force have to do.
On October 8, a US fighter two strikes in Al-Houl aiming at a gas station. By and large, US aircrafts were doing this kind of thing during the entire week before the incident. As Russian Defense Minister Sergey reported to the President, during the same period of time Russian aviation delivered 112 strikes against the Islamic State. The US-led coalition has never achieved such success. That’swhat Secretary Ashton Carter does not mention. At the same time, from the start of the operation on August 8, the US spends an average of over $9 million a day to fight the IS.
According to Pentagon estimates, the Islamic State death toll is 6 thousand, while 20 thousand recruiters joined the group’s ranks during the same period. As of mid-2015, over 30 terrorist groups in the world had pledged their allegiance to the Islamic State or announced their support for it. These are the results of the US fight against the IS.
No matter that, Ashton Carter dares to talk about Russia pursuing a “flawed strategy” and warns that the United States will not cooperate with Moscow. Russia does not need it, it has never asked for cooperation. Especially in view that the United States lacks strategy in the fight against the Islamic State.
It’s worth noting that the US has recently intensified its activities in Iraq. In Syria the US aviation attacks the enemy one-two times a day. For comparison, in Iraq it delivers dozens of strikes daily. At that, it has had absolutely no influence on the Islamic State activities in that country. Simply Washington has understood that Baghdad is very close to requesting military assistance from Moscow.
On October 7, Hakim al-Zamili, the chairman of Iraqi parliament’s defense committee said, «We are seeking to see Russia having a bigger role in Iraq... Yes, definitely a bigger role than the Americans». Before that, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar Al-Abadi said he saw no problem with Russia striking the Islamic State in Iraq if its activities are coordinated with the Iraqi government. Pro-US politicians in Baghdad cannot do anything about it. They act as if President Obama were their relative, the Prime Minister noted. Valentina Matviyenko, the Chairman of the Russian Federation Council, said the upper chamber of Russian parliament will consider the expediency of the Russian Aerospace Forces participation in the operation against the Islamic State in case a corresponding request in made. In this case, the White House will have to either cooperate with Moscow, or finally withdraw from Iraq.
The US Defense Secretary can bluff to impress his NATO counterparts. But NATO cannot turn a blind eye on the fact that an anti-terrorist coalition is emerging in the Middle East that includes Russia, Iran, Iraq and Syria. In the West they call this alliance anti-US. They may call it as they wish, but Washington continues to be unfriendly towards all the participants of the anti-jihadist group which includes Moscow.
Iranian supreme spiritual leader ayatollah Khamenei banned direct talks with the United States. At the same time, Iran fully complies with its obligations towards Russia in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria. The air route Russia-Iran-Iraq, Russian missile strikes from the Caspian Sea across the territories of these countries, the exchange of operational intelligence information – all these things has already taken place.
As the events unfold, the moment may come soon when the United States will have no role to play in the fight against the Islamic State.
|Tags: ISIS Middle East Syria US|
Russian FM calls on 'interested' parties to join anti-terror information center
|News | 13.10.2015 | 11:19|
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has called on all interested parties to join the intelligence-sharing center recently formed in the Iraqi capital Baghdad to fight against terrorist groups.
"We welcome all the interested countries to attend the information center we set up with Iraq, Syria, and Iran in Baghdad,” Lavrov said at a Monday press conference in the Russian capital Moscow.
He also expressed Moscow’s readiness to review proposals for establishing new coordination centers in the region for anti-terror fight.
“We are still considering setting up similar coordination centers in other places in this region. As well as the countries mentioned above, countries in the Middle East and North Africa would also attend these centers," Lavrov said.
The main function of the Baghdad information center, which was formed in late September, is to collect, process, and analyze data on terrorist organizations operating in the Middle East, particularly the Daesh Takfiri group.
According to Russian media reports, the leadership of the joint center will be determined on a rotating basis among the four countries, starting with Iraq.
Russia’s anti-terror fight
Russia launched its first airstrikes against Takfiri terrorists in Syria on September 30, hours after the upper house of the Russian parliament gave President Vladimir Putin the mandate to use the air force in the Arab country.
According to the Russian military, all targets of the air raids are chosen based on intelligence gathered by the four participants in the information center.
Daesh terror group, with members from several Western countries, has been active in Iraq and Syria for over a year, committing heinous acts of terror and atrocities against people of different religious and ethnic communities, including Shias, Sunnis, Kurds, and Christians.
U.S. airdrops ammunition to Syria rebels
|News | 13.10.2015 | 11:10|
U.S. forces airdropped small arms ammunition and other supplies to Syrian Arab rebels, barely two weeks after Russia raised the stakes in the long-running civil war by intervening on the side of President Bashar al-Assad.
One military official said the drop, by Air Force C-17 cargo planes in northern Syria on Sunday, was part of a revamped U.S. strategy announced last week to help rebels in Syria battling Islamic State militants.
Last week, Washington shelved a program to train and equip "moderate" rebels opposed to Assad who would join the fight against Islamic State.
The only group on the ground to have success against Islamic State while cooperating with the U.S.-led coalition is a Kurdish militia, the YPG, which has carved out an autonomous zone in northern Syria and advanced deep into Islamic State's stronghold Raqqa province.
On Monday, the YPG announced a new alliance with small groups of Arab fighters, which could help deflect criticism that it fights only on behalf of Kurds. Washington has indicated it could direct funding and weapons to Arab commanders on the ground who cooperate with the YPG.
Amnesty International, in a new report, accused the YPG of committing war crimes by driving out thousands of non-Kurdish civilians and demolishing their homes in Kurdish-controlled areas. A YPG spokesman called it "a false allegation."
The U.S. military confirmed dropping supplies to opposition fighters vetted by the United States but would say no more about the groups that received the supplies or the type of equipment in the airdrop.
Syrian Arab rebels said they had been told by Washington that new weapons were on their way to help them launch a joint offensive with their Kurdish allies on the city of Raqqa, the de facto Islamic State capital.
The Russian intervention in the four-year Syrian war has caught U.S. President Barack Obama's administration off guard. Washington has been trying to defeat Islamic State while still calling for Assad's downfall.
NSA more Interested in Spying on Olympics than Islamic State
|Wayne MADSEN *| 12.10.2015 | 00:02|
Judging by its successes on the battlefield before Russian military intervention in Syria, the Islamic State never appeared to have been stymied by the U.S. National Security Agency’s (NSA) massive global electronic snooping capabilities. Either NSA has been withholding from key U.S. policy makers, critical intelligence on the Islamic State’s weapons supply and financial support network, recruitment efforts, and top leadership, which would be unlikely, or NSA signals intelligence on the jihadist state has been ignored by other U.S. government departments.
In the face of the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. Special Operations Command working with such pro-Islamic State countries as Saudi Arabia and Qatar, where allegedly “moderate” Syrian rebels like the Liwa Suqour al-Jabal group have been trained by the CIA in secret camps with Wahhabist clerics providing the radical indoctrination, it appears that any NSA intelligence reports that paint the Islamic State’s actual military, financial, and religious supporters in Riyadh and Doha in a critical hue never see the light of day among the senior echelons of power in Washington.
Even the U.S. Treasury Department has only recently expressed an interest in how the Islamic State has managed so many brand new Toyota vehicles, especially Land Cruisers and Hiluxes. Toyota claims that the Treasury Department’s inquiry is part of wider probe by the United States of terrorist supply chains and capital flow. However, the announcement of the “probe” of the vehicle supply network maintained by the self-proclaimed Islamic Caliphate came only after Russia began to wage an effective military campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in Syria. If an Iraqi government’s request is approved by Russia, Russian military action against ISIL will also commence in Iraq.
With the extensive surveillance net that NSA has over Japan, it is doubtful that the White House was unaware of the fact that ISIL has obtained most of its new Toyota vehicles courtesy of the Shinzo Abe government, which sees ISIL as a long term strategic but covert partner against Japan’s arch-enemy, China. The fact that so many Muslim Uighurs have found safe haven in ISIL-occupied Syria and intend to return to western China to fight for the expansion of the Islamic State’s caliphate there, is music to the ears of many Japanese militarists who want to settle old scores with China. Abe’s covert operations slush fund, siphoned off illegally from the Japanese Postal Savings Bank, assuredly was identified by NSA’s signals intelligence intercepts of senior Japanese government officials and all the key Japanese ministries, including the Gaimusho (foreign ministry).
NSA also points its massive eavesdropping ear on Japanese companies like Toyota in an effort to give U.S. automobile manufacturers a competitive leg up in U.S.-Japanese trade negotiations.
Intercepts of Japanese government and corporate communications are centralized at the major NSA listening station at Misawa, Japan, a site the NSA has code named LADYLOVE. There would be relatively little about Toyota’s international sales that would be unknown to the NSA. NSA’s International Security Issues (ISI) branch’s Western Europe and Strategic Partnerships Division specifically concentrates its signals collection and analysis efforts on the trade activities of Japan and Western European and Latin American countries. A classified NSA Signals Intelligence Division memorandum stated that NSA maintained “sustained collection” against Japan. Economic intelligence from Japan is prioritized by NSA as “Level III” or “significant” intelligence. Level II is considered “critical,” and it includes information on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction.
Given the U.S. government’s and CIA’s support for ISIL guerrillas in Syria and Iraq, especially the Chechen, Uighur, and Khorasan (Central Asia) brigades, it is unlikely that either the CIA or the Obama White House would have treated intercepts of Toyota business deals with ISIL front companies in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or Qatar as critical or even significant “actionable” intelligence.
NSA, from disclosed classified documents, appears to have placed a higher priority on intercepting the communications of Hezbollah and Hamas, both sworn enemies of ISIL, than on ISIL. There are a number of veteran U.S. intelligence professionals who ascribe this to a highly classified order from Director of National Intelligence James Clapper and CIA director John O. Brennan, that U.S. intelligence should direct its resources against Shi’a and other groups that pose a threat to ISIL and its radical jihadist allies in order to placate the wishes of Turkey, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia, all of which host U.S. intelligence and military bases.
Rather than aim its massive snooping apparatus at the governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar and their financial support operations that benefit ISIL through cash payments, Wahhabist indoctrination of recruits, and the supply of weapons, vehicles, and supplies, NSA, according to leaked documents, believes it is more important to not only spy on the Olympic teams of Syria, Iran, Iraq, as well as Saudi Arabia, but also on the Olympic teams of Russia, China, Egypt, Indonesia, and Mexico.
Intelligence professionals have wondered aloud what possible national security benefits could come from NSA’s tapping of the cell phones of Russian wrestlers, Chinese archers, or Mexican cyclists. NSA has conducted sweeping electronic surveillance of the Olympics, starting in 1984 at the Summer Games in Los Angeles, and extending through the 1996 Summer Games in Atlanta, the 2000 Summer Games in Sydney, the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, and the 2004 Summer Games in Athens. The surveillance of the Athens games was code named APRIL FLOWERS and involved the placing of electronic taps within Greece’s landline and cellular telecommunications networks.
Although NSA and its close signals intelligence partners in Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand pride themselves on their ability to track hotel reservations, airline reservations, credit card purchases, inter-bank financial transactions, ATM withdrawals, on-line purchases, computer keystrokes, mass transit movements, they either have not or will not collect intelligence on the international support network for ISIL that involves Saudi-funded madrassa religious schools and clerics, Middle East arms smugglers, historical artifact “fencing” of stolen antiquities from Syria and Iraq, sale of petroleum from ISIL-held oil fields in Syria and Iraq, and passage of recruits through gateway cities like Istanbul, Dubai, Doha, Bangkok, and Karachi.
NSA’s own classified files demonstrate clearly that rather than target Al Qaeda/ISIL funding sources, the U.S. signals intelligence focus has been on non-threats to the United States, including Venezuela, Cuba, Colombia, and Mexico. This lack of prioritization of U.S. intelligence assets can only be laid at the doorstep of Barack Obama’s National Security Council and the major intelligence agency directors. One of them, the former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. General Michael Flynn, disclosed that it was a conscious decision by the Obama intelligence team to prop up the most radical jihadists in Syria in order to oust Bashar al Assad from power. It was obviously a decision with which General Flynn disagreed strongly, since it is felt that Obama fired him from his job under heavy pressure from Brennan at the CIA.
As long as pro-Saudis like Brennan, a former CIA station chief in Riyadh, and Clapper are calling the shots within the U.S. intelligence community, the Islamic State and its cohorts will always have a friendly interlocutor in Washington. NSA surveillance systems will continue to be trained on Olympic athletes instead of bloodthirsty jihadists rampaging throughout the Middle East and beyond.
|Tags: CIA NSA Middle East US Clapper|
* Wayne MADSEN
Investigative journalist, author and syndicated columnist. Has some twenty years experience in security issues. As a U.S. Naval Officer, he managed one of the first computer security programs for the U.S. Navy. He has been a frequent political and national security commentator on Fox News and has also appeared on ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and MS-NBC. He has been invited to testify as a witness before the US House of Representatives, the UN Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, and an terrorism investigation panel of the French government. A member of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) and the National Press Club. Lives in Washington, D.C.