Tuesday, April 30, 2013

An interesting theory about the recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula

Shevchenko
I just heard one of my favorite analysts, Maksim Shevchenko, offer a very interesting theory about the tensions on the Korean Peninsula.  Here is a summary of his theory:

There is no way the DPRK would have started that kind of confrontation with the USA without the blessing of the Chinese.  What happened in this case is that the Chinese told the North Koreans to "rock the boat" in Korea as a not so subtle hint to the USA: if you insist on triggering a crisis in Syria, we will trigger one in Korea.  According to Shevchenko, the USA immediately got the message and the Americans backed down.

Interesting theory.  But Shevchenko did not say what his sources were, neither did he offer any corroboration.  Finally, Shevchenko is a world-class specialist of the Caucasus, but not of China or Korean affairs.

Still, I thought I would mention this theory just as an interesting possibility.

The Saker

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Zionists are pitching in with their own version of events

According to the notorious (and mostly unreliable) DEBKAfile, the Tsarnaev brothers were double agents who betrayed the US:
The conclusion reached by debkafile’s counterterrorism and intelligence sources is that the brothers were double agents, hired by US and Saudi intelligence to penetrate the Wahhabi jihadist networks which, helped by Saudi financial institutions, had spread across the restive Russian Caucasian. Instead, the two former Chechens betrayed their mission and went secretly over to the radical Islamist networks.
 Make sure to read the rest of the article, its interesting.

In the meantime, in Russia, Evgenii Satanovskii, a notorious Jewish hyper-Zionist and activist, says that the version of the events presented by the US government and media is so incredibly stupid that it does not even deserve to be refuted.

Satanovskii on Russian TV
Again, I am not at all sure what this is all about, but it is rather bizarre to see those who usually compare 9/11 Truthers with "Holocaust deniers" suddenly join the chorus of those who say that the official narrative makes not sense.  Are the Zionists making the US pay for the new political course taken by the Obama Administration?

The Saker

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Two great articles by Robert Fisk reporting from Syria (both "MUST READs")

Robert Fisk
Finally some honest reporting from inside Syria!  Two articles by Robert Fisk which I highly recommend to everybody:

The Syrian Army Believes They Are Winning
Syria and Sarin Gas: US Claims Have a Very Familiar Ring

I have my points of strong disagreement with Robert Fisk, in particular about Hezbollah and the Hariri family, but at least I respect him for his courage (physical and intellectual) and his integrity.

I find the first article most interesting because it fully corroborates what Russian analysts have been saying: the Syrian Army has fully recovered, it is beating back the insurgency, and its morale is excellent.

This is very, very good news, but this also means that the US/NATO/al-Qaeda coalition has only one possible card to play: a direct military intervention (Bosnia anybody?).

The Saker

The Boston bombing as a symptom of the terminal decline of the US Empire

Do you remember how crowds on Boston cheered and celebrated their "victory" when, after a week-long manhunt, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was finally arrested? 


When I saw these videos I marveled at how stupid American crowds can get, but I decided not to post anything about it since, after all, stupidity is not something worth posting about, I think.

Still, I though, what a pathetic display of incompetence and ignorance, what a total over-reaction.  First, the entire city was put on lock down something which never happened elsewhere, not in Israel, not in Ulster, not in the Russian Caucasus, not in India, not in any other city affected by a rather minor wannabe terror event.  Yes, this was a *MINOR* attack, executed by completely incompetent amateurs.   And don't take my word for it, read the excellent analysis of Israeli Haaretz reporter Chemi Shalev in his article "The Boston bombers have already scored a tremendous victory for terror" in which he mentions the "amateurish" terror of the two Chechens.

Keep in mind that according to some estimates each day of the Boston lock down cost up to 1 billion dollars to the US economy.  Yes, that is 1'000'000'000 dollars.  This is what one billion dollar look like:
One Billion Dollar is stacked on 12 standard pallets, altogether 10 million 100 USD notes
And what did the cheering Bostonians get for that?

Here is the official version of how Dzokhar Tsarnaev was arrested:

First, the cops put an entire city block in total lock down and flooded it with cops and SWAT teams.  Then they went from house to house and checked every single house, every room, everything.  Then, eventually, they declared the area safe.  Then at 5AM some guy got out of his house to smoke a cigarette or something, and he saw some blood on his boat, he looked inside and found Dzokhar Tsarnaev lying in a pool of his own blood.  He called the cops, who came and arrested Tsarnaev (that is all from memory, correct me if I missed something).

Now, if that is true, why is nobody asking why the super-dooper Boston cops and SWAT teams, assisted by many K-9 units, did not find Tsarnaev the first time around?  Did *any* reporter or commentator wonder about this, or is this just me?

Maybe the BPD deserves some rotten tomatoes tossed at them in disgust, rather than the standing ovation they got?

But that is just a beginning.

Then we learn that the BPD arrested a Tamerlan Tsarnaev look-alike, stripped him naked, and packed him away, and then they released him but nobody knows where this Tsarnaev look-alike is now.  The BPD denies any connection.  Too bad that Tsarnaev's mother categorically states that this is her son (Russian TV news station Rossia 1 report). 

Mrs Tsarnaeva on Russian TV
Now, it really would be a bad thing if this turned out to be true, would it not?

But things get even better.

Now, it turns out that the Russians warned not only the FBI but even the CIA.  The Americans are now saying that this was too little.  But that is patently false.  If the Russians did not give enough evidence to the FBI/CIA to take action against the Tsarnaev brothers, they gave them plenty enough actionable intelligence to put them under tight surveillance.  Guess what?  It turns out that the FBI did put them under some kind of surveillance which included wiretapping (again, we know that through the mother) and an interview with the two brothers.  Well, even after that the FBI/CIA folks managed to miss not only the entire preparation of the bombing but it also took them many precious hours to pinpoint the two brothers as likely suspects (after parsing the various video recordings of the bombing).

That's not all folks, it gets even sexier than that!

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili has now declared to the Georgian TV channel Rustavi-2 that it was possible that Chechen terrorists had received terrorism training in Georgia during the Presidency of US-hyperally Mikheil Saakashvili.  The latter, of course, emphatically denies any such accusations.  Now, since we know who trains the Georgians (the very same FBI/CIA/etc), it is not hard to figure out that if the Tsarnaev brothers were linked to any "Georgian" (aka "US") Chechen terror network, any reports from the Russians to the FBI/CIA would only confirm what they already knew since they, themselves, were the folks running the Chechen networks.


So what is there to celebrate, my dear Bostonians?

That your cops and SWAT teams could not find their own butts in the dark?
That your security services are unable to keep an eye even on amateurish wannabe terrorists?
That your politicians are spending billions of dollars on nothing?
That your government pays, trains and support terrorist organizations abroad?
That your absurd and paranoid laws make it possible to consider a pressure-cooker as a "weapon of mass destruction"

American "weapon of mass destruction"

This would all be very funny if it was not all deeply symptomatic of a regime in complete moral and intellectual decline.  Under the Presidency of Barak "Yes we can" "Change we can believe in" Obama the USA has become even more incompetent and at the same type evil than under his (already pathetic) predecessors.

And its not only the White House, the Congress or the cheering boneheads in Boston.  How is that for a typically American over-reaction:
Williams-Sonoma Pulls Pressure Cookers Off Shelves in Massachusetts

Following the Boston Marathon bombing last Monday in which pressure cookers were used for the explosion, the cookware giant has decided to temporarily stop selling the items in their Massachusetts stores.

Williams-Sonoma, the specialty retailer of home furnishings and gourmet cookware with over 250 stores in the United States, has pulled pressure cookers from their shelves following the Boston Marathon bombing.

"It's a temporary thing out of respect," said Kent, who is the Store Manager of the Williams-Sonoma at the Natick Mall. He referred Patch to corporate for further questions. Williams-Sonoma also has a local branch at Legacy Place in Dedham.

Pressure cookers will still be available on the Williams-Sonoma website (...)
I have a great idea:  Why not outlaw pressure cookers altogether?!  After all, there is no 2nd Amendment protecting pressure cookers.  Or is there?  Since pressure cookers are now considered as weapons of mass destruction, maybe they ought to be protected under the 2nd Amendment?

Seriously,  all these otherwise point into the same direction: a (former? actual?) super-power which shows all the signs of the mental age of a 6 year old combined with the infinite arrogance of a pimply teenager.  Think of it - in terms of "government performance" the entire Boston bombing episode is just one long and never ending FUBAR/SNAFU kind of cluster****.  They did *everything* wrong and they did *nothing* right.  Worse, that abject failure at all levels did not take their imperial arrogance down at all, not even by one modest notch.  And its all the same, presidency after presidency.  If the previous moron brought us the "freedom fries" this one brings us the "pressure cooker" as WMD.  And nobody laughs, nobody protests, there are no riots, no demonstrations.  Nothing.  Nothing at all.  Why?  Because Americans got used to this, because that absolute rule by crass stupidity on all levels has now become "business as usual", it has become normal.

All I can think of saying to the cheering idiots in Boston is this:"if you like your present, you will love your future!"

The Saker

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Zionists and Gulf Monarchs Ponder Pushing Al Qaeda to Take on Hezbollah

By Franklin Lamb for Information Clearing House and Counterpunch 

“This is one damn fine idea, what took us so long to see a simple solution that was right in front of our eyes for Christ’s sake”, Senator John McCain of “Bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” and “no-fly zones for Syria” notoriety, reportedly demanded to know from Dennis Ross during a recent Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) brain storming session in Washington DC.

Ross, a founder of WINEP with Israeli government start up cash (presumably reimbursed unknowingly, one way or another by American taxpayers) and currently WINEPs “Counselor”, as in “consigliere” reportedly responded to the idea of facilitating Al Qeada to wage jihad against Hezbollah with the comment: “Shiites aren’t the only ones seeking death to demonstrate their ‘resistance’ to whatever. Plenty of other Muslims also want to die as we saw last week in Boston. Let ‘em all go at it and Israel can sweep out their s— when it’s over.”


One Congressional staffer attending the WINEP event emailed to Beirut: “Dennis spoke in jest—well I assumed he did- but who knows anymore? Things are getting ever crazier inside some of these pro-Israel ‘think tanks’ around here.”


Featured on the front page of its 4/25/13 edition, the Zionist compliant New York Times writes that the Assad regime is apparently recovering but, “it must be understood that for all of the justified worries about the (al Qaeda affiliated) rebels “Assad remains an ally of Iran and Hezbollah.”


The Times adopts the views of Islamophobe, Daniel Pipes, who recommends that the US try to keep the two sides in Syria fighting as long as possible until they destroy each other. Pipes, now serving as an advisor to John McClain, wrote in the Washington Times of 4/11/13 “ Evil forces pose less danger to us when they make war on each other. This keeps them focused locally, and it prevents either one from emerging victorious and thereby posing a greater danger. Western powers should guide enemies to a stalemate by helping whichever side is losing, so as to prolong their debilitating conflict.”


Both Jeffrey Feltman, U.N. Under-Secretary General for Political Affairs and Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the U.N, have at a minimum impliedly joined in the intriguing idea of sic’ing Jabhat al Nusra on the Party of God. This scheme, if launched, would be Feltman’s 14th attempt to topple Hezbollah and defeat the Lebanese National Resistance to the occupation of Palestine since he first arrived in Beirut from Tel Aviv in 2005 to become US Ambassador to Lebanon. This observer, among others in this region sense that given the aura still enveloping the American Embassy here, that Jeffrey never really left his Lebanese ambassadorial post and continues to occupy this position from his new UN office.


This week Feltman warned that the spillover of Syria’s war continues to be felt in Lebanon as Susan Rice, echoed him and condemned Hezbollah for “undermining the country’s “dissociation policy.” The latter being a bit obscure in meaning but connoting something like sitting around doing nothing while this country is being shelled by jihadists from among the 23 countries currently fighting in Syria. Feltman informed the media on 4/22/13 that “The Secretary-General is concerned by reports that Lebanese are fighting in Syria both on the side of the regime and on the side of the opposition, hopes that the new government will find ways to promote better compliance by all sides in Lebanon with the “disassociation policy.”


Given current divisions in Lebanon that will not happen anymore than Lebanon’s June 9th Parliamentary elections will be held on time.


For her part, Susan lectured the UN Security Council that “Hezbollah actively enables Assad to wage war on the Syrian people by providing money, weapons, and expertise to the regime in close coordination with Iran.” This position was expressed also through a statement by US. State Department spokesman, Patrick Ventrell, who said that Washington “has always been clear concerning Hezbollah’s shameful role and the support it is providing for the Syrian regime and the violence it is inducing in Syria.” Ventrell added: “We were clear from the start concerning the destructive role played by Iran as well as the Iranian role.”


Several Israeli agents in Congress are today promoting a Jabhat el Nusra-Hezbollah war even as the Obama administration terror-lists the jihadist group. Meanwhile, Senator Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.), McCain’s neocon Islamaphobe acolyte, goes a bit further and explains to Fox News, once Assad falls and Hezbollah is out of the picture “We can deal with these (jihadist) fellas.”


Recent history in Libya instructs otherwise. As Turkish commentator Cihan Celik recently noted: “A divorce with al-Nusra will not be easy in Syria.”


The past two years in Libya, that shadow of a country, reveals countless examples, three witnessed firsthand by this observer, during the long hot summer of 2011. What we saw was Gulf sponsors and funders offering young men, often unemployed, $ 100 per month, free cigarettes, and a Kalashnikov to do jihad. Plenty down and out lads still accept these offers in Libya, as they do in Syria. One reason why the militias proliferated so quickly in Libya and never melted away was the phenomenon of a wannabe jihadists deciding to be a leader and recruiting perhaps a brother or two, maybe a few cousins or tribe members, and presto, they have created a militia with power they never dreamed of. Their new life can offer many perceived benefits from running rough shod over the civilian populations and setting up myriad mini but potent criminal enterprises specializing in kidnappings, robberies, drugs, trafficking in women, and assassinations for cash. How many of these young men have turned in their weapons in Libya and returned to their former lives? Or will do so when instructed by the likes of McCain or Graham?


On 4/24/13 Jabhat Al-Nusra Front intensified its threats to officials here including the Lebanese president by releasing a challenge from its media office: “…we inform you – and you may think of that as a warning or an ultimatum – that you must take immediate measures to restrain Hezbollah, otherwise, the fire will reach Beirut. If you do not abide by this within 24 hours, we will consider that you are taking part in the massacres committed by the Hezbollah members and we will unfortunately have to burn everything in Beirut.” In addition they are calling for Jihad and the establishment of the “Resistance Factions for Jihad against the Regime in Syria” and also in Saida and Tripoli, Lebanon.


Israeli officials appear to be in agreement with the Ross/Pipes proposal to arrange for Al Qeada to launch a war against Hezbollah. The Director for External Affairs at “The Mosche Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, repeatedly claimed that the Shia are the real threat to Israel, not the Sunni and with the least threat coming from the Gulf monarchs. He offered the view recently that “Israel is now a partner of the Sunni Arab states.” Indeed, Israel hopes that Hezbollah will forget Israel when tasked with trying repel Al Nusra and other al Qaeda affiliate attacks.


According to various Israel officials who have issued statements on the subject, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan and several other members of the Arab League constitute an “alliance of anxiety for Israel” because they claim that “Sunni Arabs are not as competent as the Shia and Iran and as a result they express doubts that Israel can rely on the Sunni states in the same way that the Sunni states can reply on Israel.”


In a documentary about the Iraq war, an American soldier explains: “Actually, we don’t really have much of a problem with the Sunnis. It’s the Shias who we are afraid of. The problem has something to do with their leader who was killed centuries ago and these fellas are willing to lay their life down for the guy. Anyhow, that is that they told us in Special Ops class.”


Al Nusra fighters currently occupying parts the south west areas of Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in south Damascus, recently expressed eagerness to fight Hezbollah which they claim would give them credibility with Sunni Muslims and, oddly, in this observers view, “ credibility with western countries”, who supposedly are al Qaeda’s sworn enemies. It’s sometimes hard to know who precisely is whose enemy these days in Syria as the rebels continue using areas east and southwest of Damascus as rear bases and as gateways into the capital.


Despite boasts to the contrary from Jihadist types in Syria and Lebanon, it is not clear to this observer if Jihadist and al Qaeda-affiliated groups living among Hezbollah communities in Lebanon like Fatah al Islam, Jund al Sham or Osbat al Ansar which have been here for years would actually join the Zionist promoted anti-Hezbollah jihad.


But it is evident that some Lebanese Islamists and jihadists directly connected to al Qaeda do have the ability to target Hezbollah. Elements from each of these groups are startling to associate and identify with al Nusra inspired partly by the latter’s successful military operations of Jabhat al Nusra in Syria. Again, we saw the same thing in Libya. Enthusiastic, ambitious young men who want to improve their lot in life try to go with a winner. According to sources in the Ain al Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp, jihadist leaders such as Haytham and Mohammed al Saadi, Tawfic Taha, Oussama al Shehabi and Majed al Majed are recruiting followers and fighters in Lebanon and offer a ticket out the the squalid army surrounded, Syrian refugee inflated camp.


Homs-based media activist Mohammad Radwan Raad claims that “the embattled residents of the rebel-controlled Homs province town of Al-Qusayr welcome Saida, Lebanon based Sunni Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir’s call for Jihad in Syria.” Claims Raad, “Al-Qusayr residents welcome Assir’s call and hope the Lebanese people help kick out Hezbollah members in the area…We need anyone who can get rid of them.” This week Assir urged his followers to join Syrian rebels fighting troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah. Al-Qusayr has been under rebel control for more than a year and on the scene reports indicate that it is about to be returned to central government control.


In response, two Salafist Sunni Lebanese sheikhs urged their followers to go to Syria to fight a jihad (religious war) in defense of Qusayr’s Sunni residents. “There is a religious duty on every Muslim who is able to do so… to enter into Syria in order to defend its people, its mosques and religious shrines, especially in Qusayr and Homs,” Sheikh Ahmed al-Assir told his followers. For now, experts say, such calls on the part of Lebanon’s Salafists are largely bluster because the movement is far from able to wield either the arsenal or the fighting forces of Hezbollah.

Local analysts like Qassem Kassir argue that Jabhat al Nusra and friends are not organized enough to fight against Hezbollah in a conventional war, but they could cause great damage by organizing bomb attacks against the Party of God’s bases and militants. The latter would be enough initially for Ross and WINEP and their Zionist handlers. Creating chaos in Lebanon being one of their goals but more importantly weakening the National Lebanese Resistance led by Hezbollah and also challenging Syria and Iran.


In a recent speech, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah offered his party’s view about a promoted Sunni-Shia clash with Al-Nusra, AlQaida and all the groups which flocked to Syria, saying that what was wanted of them by those who sent them was to kill and get killed in Syria, in a massacre which will only serve the enemies of the Arabs and Muslims.


The coming months will reveal to us if the several pro-Zionist Arab regimes and Islamophobes including those at WINEP and other Israel first “think-tanks” are delusional in believing a “simple solution” in John McCain’s words, to those resisting the Zionist occupation of Palestine would be to assist Jabhat el Nusra type jihadists to make war against Hezbollah. And whether they could defeat Hezbollah or even whether Jabhat al Nusra and friends are capable of igniting yet another catastrophe in this region.


Franklin Lamb is doing research in Lebanon and Syria and can be reached c/o fplamb@gmail.com

The Fueling of Unrest in Syria, Israel’s Territorial Ambitions

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich  for Global Research

For some time now, the predominant narrative about Syria has been that the unrest has been fueled in order to weaken Iran. This prevalent account is common to neoconservatives and liberals alike. While The New York Times trumpeted Israeli-firsters Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham message that “rebel fighters deserved to be armed and that helping them take on the Syrian government would aid Washington’s effort to weaken Iran”, moderate and independent outlets such as Truthout, Counterpunch, and numerous others echoed this same objective – but whilst decrying the plan. Even Iran ’s state-run media shares this account.


This is sheer misdirection — deliberate or otherwise. Undisputed, Syria and Iran have been staunch allies since the Iranian Revolution in their joint cause to protect Palestinian rights and to stand up Israel and America, and any change in Syria would adversely affect Iran (as it would Russia). But this is a secondary consideration. The generally accepted narrative takes the focus away from the primary reason for the current assault on Syria – Israel .

Since the 1948 war, Syria and Israel have been in a state of war (with brief periods of unsuccessful negotiations). The conflict has been primarily over land and water (see a previous essay The Syria Imperative). Since the 1950’s, conflict over water (and land) has been at the root of hostilities between the two. In the 1950’s, Eisenhower commissioned Eric Johnston to generate a regional water allocation agreement. The failure of the Johnston plan exacerbated the conflict. The published diaries of Israeli Foreign Minister Sharett helps understand why the Johnston negotiations were unsuccessful. Sharett maintained: “[P]olitical decisions concerning the occupation of the rest of Eretz Israel were taken as early as 1954, although implemented in 1967.[i]”

The 1967 occupation of Syria Golan (Golan Heights) and the Upper Mount Hermon by Israel enabled Israel to seize the entire Upper Jordan River giving Israel the advantage of placing its riparian position to fully upstream. Consequently, not only was Syria denied access to Upper Jordan waters, but its territorial and national integrity were assaulted.

Some years later, Haaretz would reveal the existence of a study (Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies, Tel-Aviv university) under General Aaron Yariv, former intelligence services chief, which outlined a “zone of hydraulic security”, which called for placing water resources in Syria and Lebanon under full Israeli control[ii]. Disputes continued unabated and the status quo maintained until 1982 when the military prowess of both sides were tested.

A 1987 book by Col. Emmanuel Wald of the Israeli General Staff entitled “The Ruse of the Broken Vessels: The Twilight of Israeli Military Might (1967-1982) reveals the aims of the 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the month of pre-planning that had gone into it. Wald writes that Ariel Sharon’s master plan codenamed “Oranim” was to defeat the Syrian troops deployed in the Bekaa Valley all the way to the district of Baalbek in North of Lebanon. According to Wald, “during the fist days, it was quietly approved by the U.S. ”.

With this aim, on June 6, 1982, Israeli advanced into Lebanon. However, the Syrian army halted the Israeli army advance in the battle of Sultan Yakub and the battle of Ain Zahalta. Sharon ’s plan to conquer all of Lebanon and destroy Syria as a military power was thwarted. In reviewing the book and the battles, the famous scholar and activist, Israel Shahak, opined that “the principal purpose of the Israeli invasion of Lebanon was destruction of the Syrian Army”[iii].

Shahak posits that Israel needs to win its wars quickly or not at all. In spite of technological and nuclear superiority, another assault on Syria would not predictably bring an easy win to Israel and defenses could ‘drag out a war endlessly’. He further argues that during the entire history of Israel , Israeli Jews have shown themselves to be highly sensitive to their losses, and high losses make Israelis “susceptible to political arguments against modes of domination and oppression which they otherwise would accept”.

Shahak’s analysis shed a light on events which pursued the failure of “Oranim” as outlined in The Syria Imperative. Israel continues to pursue its grand strategy, using a different tactic given its awareness of, and its familiarity with the strengths of the Syrian army – an army which must be disrupted from within given Israel ’s 1982 failure to do so. And this is the primary reason for arming terrorists posing as “opposition”.

It is not without irony that Netanyahu has recently admitted that he does not rule out arming Syrian rebels, given Israel’s age-old tactic of arming minorities or rebels and cultivating dissent and chaos (such as the Anya Nya in Sudan , later the Sudanese People Liberation Army (SPLA), and the leader of the Sudanese rebels, John Garang armed by Israel from neighboring countries). This is a scenario being repeated in Syria .

Paradoxically, the [Persian] Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) who are today on a mission to secure Israel’s vision (with a nod from Washington) by arming rebels and undermining Syria, were all in favor of securing Syria in 2003 when they told Washington: “We think the threat to Syria should stop. We don’t think Syria wants a war or to escalate any situation. We reject any infringement of Syria ‘s security.”[iv] There is no end to their duplicity.

Amos Yadlin, the outgoing military intelligence chief warnedthe Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee in November 2010 that Israel ‘s next war would take longer and be fought on more fronts. Yaldin warned that Syria in particular, posed a greater military obstacle to Israel than at any time in the past three decades. It would appear that the Syria unrest has allayed his concerns. The Syrian forces which put up such a resistance in 1982, are now engaged fighting terrorists, while the world is being told that they are the violators. Perhaps Netanyahu’s plan will succeed where Sharon ’s Oranim failed.

Regardless, it is important to change the accepted narrative about Syrian uprisings. Given the decades lone demonization of Iran, it may be more palatable to associate the fueling of unrest in Syria point to a ‘weaker’ Iran, but let there be no mistake – Syria today is in turmoil in order to promote Israel’s grand strategy – even as the perpetrator – Israel, plays the victim and warns of chemical weapons use by Assad’s regime, demanding intervention. “Evil requires the sanction of the victim.” Ayn Rand.

Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich is a Public Diplomacy Scholar, independent researcher and writer with a focus on U.S. foreign policy and the role of lobby groups

 

Notes
 

[i] Livia Rokach, ” Israeli State Terrorism: An Analysis of the Sharett Diaries,” Journal of Palestine Studies 9, no. 3 (Spring, 1980), 3-28.
[ii] Zeev Shiff, “The Censored Report Revealed,” Ha’aretz, 8 October 1993
[iii] Sahak , Israel . Israel Considers War With Syria as It Ponders 1982 Invasion of Lebanon ,The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs (September 30, 1992).
[iv] Janardhan, N, Iraq: Gulf Council Urges U.S. to Stop Threats to Syria , Global Information Network [ New York ] 17 Apr 2003

Friday, April 26, 2013

Is there really no limit to how idiotic the anti-Assad propaganda can get?!

Over the past few days I tried really hard to ignore the propaganda about the use of chemical weapons by Syrian government forces?  Why?  Frankly, I am very busy these days, and that entire story is so self evidently ridiculous that I naively hoped that somehow at least the governments in the US and UK would not feel like they have to pretend like this is anything but the usual war propaganda.  I had hoped that maybe the NGOs which fabricated this story would be content to have the mainstream media pick it up and that maybe, just maybe, London and Washington would have the common sense to ignore it.  I know, I was naive.  Whether this was all setup by some Anglo secret service, or whether they were just happy to go with the story really makes no difference to me since I honestly believe that anybody with just a modicum of intelligence would realize how stupid this latest fairy tale is.  I was wrong.

Ok, the let's go down the basics here:

a) The US/NATO/al-Qaeda coalition has not had a single meaningful success so far.  In fact, its the opposite: the Syrian army which initially showed rather poor tactical skills has very skillfully adapted to this new environment and is doing a great job keeping the insurgents on the defensive in most of the country.  To put it simply - the regime has zero interest/motive/reason to use chemical munitions.

b) Since both the US and Israel have been making all sorts of threats about how absolutely and totally unacceptable any use of chemical weapons would be, the regime has all the interests/motives/reasons to make absolutely sure that under no circumstances could chemical munitions be involved.

c) The civil war in Syria is, to a large extend, a war for the hearts and minds of the Syrian people and thanks to the barbaric behavior of the insurgency in the zones they temporarily occupy, an increasing number of Syrians who never liked the regime are still siding with it as a lesser of two evils.  In this context, using chemical weapons would make no sense at all

The situation of the insurgency is diametrically opposed to the one of the Syrian regime.

a) Since the insurgency has not been able to win using conventional insurgency tactics, it has nothing to lose and everything to gain from using chemical munitions.

b) Since the insurgency has not been able to win using conventional insurgency tactics, it has nothing to lose and everything to gain to give the US and Israel the excuse to get involved in this war.

c) Since the insurgency has clearly lost the battle for the hearts and minds of the Syrian people - hence its very heavy reliance on foreign fighters - it does not need to worry about its popularity since the only way to win for it now is to rely on even more violence and terror.

And, besides that, I have also seen the articles out there about the fat that the chemicals used were not even from Syrian stockpiles, but that they were brought in from Turkey (Google it, I cannot do that now).  Oh, and one last point: most of the victims were pro-regime civilians, treated in government hospitals (again, a Google search will corroborate that).

The only thing which amazes me is that no "freedom fighter" has found a laptop with the detailed plans of Assad  (all in English, of course), on how he personally orders to use chemical weapons on innocent Syrian civilians and then on how we will then fire all his chemical weapons at Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East, to commit another genocide of 6 million Jews...  That would have been perfect.

But now that even that sorry Uncle Tom of Obama has begun making threats about this fiction being a "game changer" I want to categorically state that anybody who seriously believes this latest invention of the Anglo propaganda machine is a drooling idiot whose lack of even basic common sense is total.

The Saker

Monday, April 22, 2013

Caucasian Wahabi deny involvement in the Boston bombings

Ok, I am *not* saying that they are saying the truth or that I believe them (the very same folks denied that they were behind the Moscow airport bombings). I am just offering this "for your information".   In my opinion it is way too early to make a determination of what this bombing was all about since there are all too many inconsistencies and contradictory information presented to the general public.  I will therefore personally reserve judgement until things become at least somewhat clearer.

The Saker
-------
Statement of Command of Mujahideen of Caucasus Emirate Dagestan Province in relation to events in Boston

- "After the events in Boston, (US, information spread in the press saying that one of the Tsarnaev brothers spent 6 months in Dagestan in 2012. On this basis there are speculative assumptions that he may have been associated with the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate, in particular, with the Mujahideen of Dagestan. The Command of the Province of Dagestan in this regard indicates that the Caucasian Mujahideen are not fighting with the United States of America. We are at war with Russia, which is not only responsible for the occupation of the Caucasus, but also for the heinous crimes against Muslims. Also, remember that even in respect of an enemy state Russia, which is fighting the Caucasus Emirate, there is an order by the Emir Dokku Umarov, which prohibits strikes on civilian targets.  In this regard, the Command of the Mujahideen of the Province of Dagestan urges primarily American media to stop speculating and promote Russian propaganda. If the US government is really interested in establishing the true organizers of bombings in Boston, and are not complicit in Russian show, then they should focus on involvement in the events of Russian security services".

Command of the Mujahideen of the Caucasus Emirate Province of Dagestan

original text in Russian: http://vdagestan.com/zayavlenie-v-svyazi-s-sobytiyami-v-bostone-ssha.djihad
English translation: http://www.kavkazcenter.com/eng/content/2013/04/21/17679.shtml

Sunday, April 21, 2013

There is a price to pay for ignorance

There is a price to pay for ignorance such as, for example, having a foreign Ambassador issuing the following communique:

click on image for full size
Nope, this is not a joke.  You can find the original page here:

http://www.mzv.cz/washington/en/czech_u_s_relations/news/statement_of_the_ambassador_of_the_czech.html

But what a shame for a country which fancies itself as some kind of world policeman with a "special responsibility' or even the 'leader of the free world".

This reminds me of this one:


Saturday, April 20, 2013

Chechnya: Republic of Contrasts (very interesting RT Documentary)

Meet the modern Chechnia willed by Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov: 

Why the civilized world has a moral obligation to help Syria to defeat the US/NATO/al-Qaeda coalition

Yesterday, in the comments section of my post Assad and the Syrian Army are fighting for all of us, Uprooted Palestinian reminded me that he had predicted that what I had called the "US subversion model: Bosnia v.4, Kosovo v.3, Libya v.2 and now Syria v.1" would not work in Syria (FYI: the preceding sentence contains five links, not one long one).  He was right.  Something really different happened, and is still happening in Syria.  I think that it is time to look at this "Syrian difference" and try to make sense of it.  

However, before I go any further, I have to make a big caveat here.

When I research a topic I try to use as many sources as possible and combine them all into a coherent picture.  In the case of the war in Syria, I cannot do that for the very simple reason that I don't speak Arabic at all.  In fact, the Middle-East has never been my primary area of expertise and I "bumped" into it quite by chance about 20 years ago.  Now, two decades later, I think I know a little something about the region, but I still do not speak Arabic, hence I am cut off of all the best primary sources.  Because of that, I am forced to rely almost exclusively on one type of source: Russian experts.

To be sure, I try to pick very knowledgeable experts: fluent in Arabic, with many years of personal experience in the region, with little or not ideological agenda, preferably associated with well informed circles inside the Russian government (foreign affairs, intelligence, military) and, crucially, with personal and direct experience of the current war in Syria.  Consequently, my own thinking is therefore very much dependent on their views, and that is something I have to openly admit.

This being said, I would argue that Russian experts are a very good source, way better than most, though not necessarily all, Western analysts.  For one thing, Russian experts and journalists have traveled extensively in Syria, and most of them did that on *both* sides of the "front" (there is no real front in this war, I mean that figuratively).  This is systematically overlooked by Western reporters who typically report from Beirut, Amman or even Jerusalem, but Russian reporters actually report from *inside* Syria.

Now, it is rather obvious that a overwhelming majority of Russians are if not pro-Assad then most definitely anti-insurgency.  So yes, Russian experts and reporters usually do get a very warm and even affectionate welcome by government forces while the insurgents treat them with hostility and overt dislike.  That, of course, will only contribute to strengthening the already existing Russian bias in support of the regime.

Having made all these caveats, I still think that an analysis based on Russian views has some interest, if only as an alternative to the mostly Anglo point of view.

So what is this Syrian difference?

First, there are what I would call if not minor, then at least secondary differences.

For one thing, the Baathist regime is Syria is a highly centralized and strong one.  Gaddafi's "Jamahiriya" (or "state of the masses") was far more decentralized and "loose".  Second, Assad proved a far tougher opponent than Gaddafi.  While initially Assad appeared to be confused, which is not surprising considering his lack of experience, with time he did develop a very coherent strategy (no doubt with the help of Iran and Russia).  Thirdly, there was of course the double Russian and Chinese veto at the UNSC which has prevented a US/NATO invasion of Libya, at least so far.  And, finally, the opposition to Gaddafi was a far more complex and diverse one than the one to Assad which has turned into a de-facto al-Nusra "one man show", at least in terms of military muscle on the ground.

And yet, this is still not the full picture.  There is one factor which all the Russian experts are stressing over and over again: the truly remarkable performance of the Syrian military.

It is a fact that when the insurgency first hit the country, the Syrian military did not do good job at all.  By all (Russian) accounts, the Syrians were confused, poorly commanded, and completely inadequately trained to deal with the type of enemy they were facing.  For years the Syrian military had prepared to defend itself against an Israeli invasion, and suddenly it was ordered to put down a major insurgency while, at the same time, pretty please not kill too many civilians.  And just as the Russians had done so in the First Chechen war, the Syrians barely prevailed, and when they eventually did, their "victories" usually came at a great cost to themselves and to the civilian population.  Now, two years later, all the Russian experts agree that the Syrian army has turned into an amazingly effective counter-insurgency machine.

Not only have the Syrians radically changed their tactics, they have succeeded in doing so while equipped with mostly old, Soviet era, equipment.  Russian experts have often marveled at how skillfully the Syrian army has used old Soviet hardware which nowadays is not even kept in old military weapons dumps in Russia.  While some modern pieces of equipment were delivered to Syria (for example some Pantsir-S1 air-defense systems), the bulk of the Syrian armed forces are in dire need of modern gear, in particular at a time when the insurgency is receiving top of the line equipment from the US/NATO. 

It is true that the insurgency does not have an air force or many tanks, but it is getting more and more top of the line communications equipment, infantry weapons (such as night vision goggles), advanced anti-tank systems, etc.  If on a global scale the Syrian government forces have more firepower, on the infantry platoon level the Syrian government forces are often out-gunned, and by a good margin.

If it was just a matter of hardware, the Syrians would probably lose this war rather rapidly.  The difference is, however, in the training and fighting spirit.

Russian experts report that the Syrian military has turned into a highly disciplined fighting force and that their morale is strong because they view that as a war of national liberation against a foreign invader (which is, of course, exactly what this war is: a US/NATO/al-Qaeda war on the Syrian people).  According to Russian military experts, the typical resulting casualty ratio is at least 6:1 or better in favor of the government forces.  This is partly due to the superb Syrian officer corps and to the fact that there are very few well trained Syrian insurgents out there.  This is why foreign mecenaries and NATO special forces are so important - to compensate for a lack of well-trained Syrian officers in the insurgency. 

As I have written many times here, I don't like Baathism or Baathists one bit, and I have always disliked the Assad dynasty, I have come to conclude that this war is not one of some "opposition" against the "regime", but one of Syria against a foreign invasion.  It is my understanding that, at least according to the Russian reports, a good part of the Syrian population feels the same way: not exactly an immense love for Assad or his regime, but a total rejection of the foreign-controlled Jihadi insurgency.  Furthermore, ever since al-Nusra & Co. succeeded in temporarily controlling certain Syrian cities and suburbs, the public opinion has turned even more against them and, therefore, more pro-government.

After two years of never-ending propaganda the truth is finally coming out: the so-called "Syrian" insurgency is, at its core, a international coalition of Wahabi crazies backed by the USA and NATO.

I would add that just because this is also the official position of the Kremlin does not entail that the Russian journalists or experts have to make up facts to support that thesis.  If, by now, even some Western experts are becoming worried about the nature of the Syrian opposition, how much more so that should be the case for the people having to live through this war on the ground?

Then, look at the "defections indicator": sure, at the beginning there was some defections, from individual soldiers to generals.  This appears to have stopped by now.

Or this: the bulk of the Syrian military is not involved in the civil war at all.  In fact, Assad has not even declared a full mobilization.  Two years ago, the Russians explained this absence of mobilization by the fact that the country was in too much chaos and too split regionally to make such a mobilization possible.  Nowadays they say that Assad simply has no need for such a mobilization.

Of course, it is possible to dismiss all this as rosy Russian propaganda.  But I honestly don't think that this is the case.  Many of the Russian experts who are following the conflict in Syria have seen many wars, including Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Chechnia, civil wars in Africa and Latin America, and they know that wars are complex phenomena.   Most of them have served in the Soviet or Russian armed forces, and many have seen combat.  These guys know what they are talking about and they not easy to deceive, in particular about combat matters.  The remarkable thing is that all of these experts agree that the Syrian military has turned into a most effective military force which would easily prevail against the opposition if three key factors were not stacked against them:

1) Unlike the government which is facing a serious economic crisis because of the civil war, the insurgency has access to basically bottomless sources of money.  At an average cost of 500 bucks per mercenary per month, it costs the US, NATO or the Gulf States pennies to keep this war going


2) The insurgency also can count on an almost inexhaustible amount of "volunteers": Libya, Egypt, Tunisia and Algeria are all in the midst of a huge social and economic crisis and its is really easy to recruit over there.  Add the Wahabi Saudis, fighters from Western Europe, assorted Chechens, Pakistanis, etc. and you get the image: mercenaries are being brought in almost as the government forces kill them in combat.

3) Government forces are beginning to get critically low on all most most common forms of weapons and military gear.  Most of the equipment of the government forces is 20-30+ years old anyway, most of it has also exceeded its official shelf life, and two years of war have also required a lot of repairs and maintenance.  And even though the sale of weapons to Syria is fully legal (no UNSC ever imposed an arms embargo on Syria), very little military gear is actually brought.

The solution to the Syrian is rather obvious: Russia and China should supply China with enough money and military hardware to force NATO/USA/al-Qaeda to agree to a negotiated settlement.   This is the argument an increasing number of Russian experts are making, adding that "Assad is fighting for us, because every Jihadi he kills in Syria is one less Jihadi we will have to kill in Russia".  They mean that quite literally.

According to these experts any type of "victory" for the insurgency in Syria would mean that several thousands of combatants will find themselves unemployed overnight and that these insurgents will simply leave Syria to seek the next "holy war" to participate in in the name of their vision of Islam.  Add to this real Russian fears about the US leaving Afghanistan next year, and you have the ingredients of a "perfect Jihadi storm" hitting both Central Asia and the Caucasus at the same time.  It is this scenario which the Russians are now openly preparing for and which explains the high priority currently given to the military readiness of the Southern Strategic Command and the Black Sea Fleet. 

As I wrote yesterday, Assad and the Syrian Army are fighting for all of us, not just for Russians. Why?  Because even if some/many/most Jihadis will to go Afghanistan, Central Asia or the Caucasus, enough will find their way elsewhere, including countries such as Spain (which, according to the Wahabis, belongs to the Islamic Umma), France (where, according to the same Wahabis, Muslims are mistreated) or even the USA (which, as we have just seen this week, is also hated by the Wahabi forces it supports).  Bottom line: if the Wahabi crazies win in Syria, there will be enough of them to crate chaos and mayhem everywhere, from China to Indonesia, to Russia, to India, to Europe to the USA.  And if they rulers of the White House are dumb/deluded enough not to understand that, it is incumbent upon Russia and China to take the lead and do everything possible short of an overt military intervention to help Assad and the Syrian military prevail in this crucial conflict whose outcome will have global consequences.

The other positive side effect of arming and bankrolling the Syrian regime is to make an overt US/NATO intervention less likely.  As long as Western politicians remain convinced that the Syrian military is united and determined to resist at any cost they will be unlikely to launch a major attack.

The current three major risks for the Syrian regime are:

a) a comprehensive economic collapse
b) an overt US/NATO intervention in the war
c) a never ending war funded from abroad

All three of these threats can be addressed by a determined Russian/Chinese policy to keep Assad in power by arming and financing the Syrian state.  Such a policy would be costly in political and financial terms for both countries, but it would be far cheaper than facing a Wahabi insurgency in, say, Dagestan or Xinjiang.

I think that Assad and the Syrian military have shown that they have what it takes to defend their country against a triple US/NATO/al-Qaeda invasion and that regardless of the past mistakes and sins of the Assad dynasty, the civilized world has a moral obligation to stand up and help Syria in its fight for survival.  What the Syrian military has achieved is remarkable, but it would be unreasonable to expect it to finish this war on its own, not with the insurgency having access to an infinite supply of weapons, mercenaries and money.

If/when this war stops, then a political long term solution will have to be achieved by means of compromise and negotiations.  The possible departure of Assad could be one of the points discussed, if that is what a majority of the Syrian people will demand.  But until then both moral and pragmatic considerations clearly mandate that the Assad regime be given as much help as possible.  This is the policy an increasing number of Russian experts are advocating and I personally fully agree with them.

The Saker

Friday, April 19, 2013

Assad and the Syrian Army are fighting for all of us

So it turns out that the Boston bombers are two Chechen brothers who are "refugees" even though neither is from Chechnia proper (they are from Kyrgyzstan). But nevermind that, here is the interesting part: check out the Russian "Facebook equivalent"  (called "V Kontakte") page of the younger of the two brothers, Dzhohar (named after Dudaev I suppose...):



How do you like that combination: "World view: Islam; Personal priority: Career and money".

Which clearly tells us that this young man's "Islam" is a micron thin.  He calls himself Muslim, but that is only a label.  His *real* ethos is one of a typical post-modern teen, centered on worldly goods.

I bet you his older brother is the real crazy one, this was just a typical follower.

Yesterday I watched an interesting report by the "Vice" reporters entitled "Killer Kids" which shows how the Taliban use 6-12 year old kids to carry bombs to specific locations and how then they remotely blow them up.

Again and again and again and again, I can only repeat what has become my deeply held and sincere belief: there is no possible dialog or co-existence with these crazed thugs, nor does it make sense to shed crocodile tears on the "innocent civilians" supporting or even harboring them.  The *only* way to deal with these guys is to offer them the "Putin choice": "either stop and renounce your ways, or be prepared to be exterminated".

Please notice that I said "renounce your ways".  I have no problem at all with somebody wanting independence for his/her region, nor do I have a problem with any religious belief system (except Wahabism and Rabbinical Judaism).  But the kind of crazed thuggery and blind terror these Wahabi/Taliban/al-Qaeda/etc. types engage in cannot be dealt with in any other way.  

And yet even this bombing will do nothing to change the way the USA deals with this issue: they will make outraged speeches about these bad bad bad terrorists in Boston, and then give standing ovations to the very exact same terrorists when they blow up (not pressure cookers, but entire cars!) in downtown Damascus.

So you will forgive me if when I see the bombings in Boston, I think of the many bombings in Syria, and I sincerely wish the Syrian Army all the success possible in ridding the planet from all those who commit such acts.

In Russia many analysts have said: "Assad is fighting for us, because every Jihadi he kills in Syria is one less Jihadi we will have to kill in Russia".

I wish the folks in Boston (and the rest of the USA) also understood that simple truth.

The Saker

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The power struggle inside the Kremlin is gradually emerging into the open

"At the present time, the situation in Russia is characterized by some of the new features that distinguish it from the preceding period. One of them is the end of the "tandem era"


As I have already mentioned in a past article, there really is no "true" opposition in Russia.  Putin and Medvedev have very skillfully manipulated the various political forces to make sure that none of the parties represented in the Duma would ever actually have a chance to come to power.  They did that primarily by quietly promoting the emergence and continuous presence of political leaders whose positive image is dwarfed by their "negative image".  Take, for example, Zhirinovsky.  Yes, he usually gets something in the range of 10-15% of the people to vote for him.  But when asked "for which politicians would you never ever vote for, regardless of the circumstances?" roughly 70-75% Russian immediately reply "Zhirinovsky".  The fact is that the man is pretty much hated by all those who do not support him in the first place.

The figures for that old Communist dinosaur Ziuganov are only marginally better.  Again, the Kremlin, in this case both Medvedev and Putin, has very skillfully manipulated the system to make the "United Russia" the "only game in town", the rest is just a "democratic" fig-leaf aimed at giving the illusion of pluralism.

There are definite advantages to this setup.  For one thing, no US-paid for "color coded" revolution is likely to happen in such circumstances.  Second, everybody in Russia with money, power and ambition realizes that if you want to succeed you need to be with "United Russia" or risk facing the kind of problems which befell Khodorkovsky and his pro-Western allies.  Thirdly, this type of setup guarantees a certain degree of stability and continuity.  Simply put, if you do not have to worry about petty politics and elections, you can deal with the real business of running a country.  And yet, there are also very real risks in this kind of setup, in particular in the mid to long term.

First, a lot of people have already become disgusted with the inevitable arrogance of those who feel that their power in theirs forever and who can basically ignore the public opinion.  Second, by eliminating real diversity in the Duma this setup only pushes the discontent into the street, hardly a desirable outcome.

One clumsy and utterly hapless manifestation of this kind of "relocation" of the dissatisfied from the Duma into the street can be seen in the demonstrations which took place between the Parliamentary and Presidential elections last year.  Yes, the "white bands" (i.e. US-style "color coded") movement was a crazy mix of hardline leftists, hyper-conservatives, hyper-liberals, pro-US and rabidly nationalistic elements, but that is mainly true of the *political leaders and organizers* of these protests.  But this "tree" should not hide the "forest" of the many simply angry, frustrated and alienated Russians who took to the streets to express their deep dissatisfaction.  Yes, many more people were pro-Putin than anti-Putin, but that does not mean that there is not a large minority which is basically disgusted with the system in place.

Still, all these street demonstration never represented a real risk for the stability of Russia.  As I said, this was a chaotic, disorganized, largely discredited movement which had nothing to offer, and no chance to ever even get into the Kremlin.

There is a far more dangerous phenomenon taking place which could present a real danger not only for Putin's rule but even for the stability of Russia: dissenting movements *INSIDE* the Party in power.

As I have mentioned in the past, there are clear signs of real tensions between Putin and Medvedev.  One of the most knowledgeable Russian politicans, Evgenii Primakov, (ex- Russian Foreign Minister, ex- Prime Minister of Russia, ex- Speaker of the Soviet of the Union of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, and ex- chief of intelligence service. Primakov is an academician and a member of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences) basically admitted to that in the quote at the top of this page.  The "tandem" is over, now Putin and Medvedev are in semi-opposition to each other.

Following the sacking of Serdiukov, it is now the turn of the the Minister of Education of Russia, Livanov, to be threatened with dismissal (for using crude language in front of a not-disconnected microphone).  An increasing number of commentators are now speculating that Putin might use this opportunity to sack the entire government, including Medvedev.

There has even been a far more ominous development recently.  A number of rather influential members of the "United Russia" (government) party have published a "Manifesto of Russian Political Liberalism" and, even more amazingly, they managed to publish it on the official website of the "United Russia" party! (original text here, Google translation here).

Now, of course, this is Russia, not Luxembourg, so the authors had to put a lot of disclaimers and caveats about what exactly they meant when they spoke of "liberalism", a concept which is now totally discredited in Russia.  Here is a typical Russian joke which illustrates the typical Russian view of liberals:
A new teacher comes into the class:
- My name is Abram Davidovich, I'm a liberal. And now all stand up and introduce yourself like I did ...
- My name is Masha I liberal ...
- My name is Petia, I'm a liberal ...
- My Little Johnny, I'm a Stalinist.
- Little Johnny, why are you a Stalinist? !
- My mom is a Stalinist, my dad is a Stalinist, my friends are Stalinists and I too am a Stalinist.
- Little Johnny, and if your mother was a whore, your father - a drug addict, your friends - homos, what would you be then in that case? !
- Then I would be a liberal.
Notice that the new teacher has a typically Jewish name, which illustrates the Russian belief that Jews are the prime proponents of the kind of "liberalism" folks like Berezovsky or Khodorkovsky incarnated in the 1990s.

Still, beyond the caveats and disclaimers, there is now a semi-official faction of the "United Russia" party which openly advocates some form of liberalism even though this is in direct contradiction with Putin's declared political objective stated in his article "Building justice: A social policy for Russia" which began with the words "Russia is a welfare/social state. We have a much higher level of social guarantees than other countries with similar productivity and per capita income levels". In Russia the concepts of "liberal" and "social" are mutually exclusive, yet high ranking members of the party "United Russia" are suddenly publishing an article in defense of liberalism.

The three authors, which include Valerii Fadeev, editor-in-chief of the magazine "Expert", have signed their names and added the title "coordinator of the liberal platform".

In other words, the party "United Russia" now has an official "liberal platform" coordinated by three party bigshots.  If that sounds like a direct challenge to Putin and his views it's because this is exactly what this is.

To be fair, in this new struggle, it was the Putin camp which fired the first shots.  First, the "All-Russia People's Front", created by Putin in 2011 as a "broad popular front of like-minded political forces" which would stand "above party lines" and it is now gradually turning into a "Putin Party", especially since Putin himself as to resign from the leadership of  "United Russia" when he was reelected as President.  Then Serdiukov was sacked.  At this point, it was clear that Putin was getting rid of his too pro-Western competitors and what is taking place now is a struggle inside "United Russia" to resist Putin's policies.

Interestingly, the party "United Russia" is nowhere nearly as popular as Putin himself and, and this is even more important, there are far more Russians with a negative view of the party "United Russia" then there are with a negative view of Putin.  All this only strengthens the fears of the Medvedev camp that Putin might turn the "All-Russia People's Front" into a new party literally overnight, and that this party would have far more popular support than "United Russia" and its current leader Medvedev.

Until very recently, all was officially rosy and peaceful in the "tandem", and the supposed love-fest between Putin and Medvedev was still supposed to be in full swing.  Today, however, yet another direct shot was taken by Putin at the Medvedev government.

In a carefully staged leak, Putin was recorded "off camera" scolding the government for its poor performance and openly threatening to dismiss it.  Here is the video (sorry, in Russian only) of that so-called leak:

video

This is a translation of the key words spoken by Putin:
- How do we work? Quality of our work - negligible. Everything is done superficially.  If this is how we work we will get friggin nothing done.  But if we work more aggressively and professionally, then we will get things done.  So let's raise the quality of our work.  Orders need to be executed, if they are not then either I am not working effectively or you are all not doing your jobs and you all need to leave!  I draw your attention to the fact that at this moment in time I am leaning towards the second option.  You need to understand that and not have any illusions.
Not much of a love-fest left here, don't you think?

The 'leaked' video (as if anything at all can be leaked from a Russian government meeting!) showed up on the website of the Russian tabloid "Life News" which triggered a tepid protest from Putin's press secretary who declared it unethical to air a recoding made after Putin expressly requested that the cameras be switched off.

Right.  As if anybody is dupe.

Bottom line: the fight between Putin's "Eurasian sovereignists" and Medvedev's  "Atlantic integrationists" is heating up and becoming semi-official.

My personal sense is that Putin will probably end up sacking the entire government - including Medvedev - and form a new one lead by a very different figure.  A likely first priority of this new government will reverse the pro-capitalist course of the previous governments (which even included calls for a 2nd wave of privatizations!) and will embark upon a much more social/socialist type of economic policies (including the nationalizations of even more large "strategic" companies).  Polls show that a large majority of the Russian people do want to see big changes in the social sphere, including an improvement of the living standards of the lower-middle class, a group which so far has been excluded from the benefits generated for the higher social classes by the rapid growth of the Russian economy.

Needless to say, should any of that happen that will trigger an even bigger wave of Putin-bashing by the Western political elites and their corporate media. 

Speaking of the West, the entire Russian press was incredulously commenting on the outright imbecile attitude of the Western press during Putin's recent trip to Germany and Holland.  At a time when the EU was in a deep, structural, crisis, when the war in Syria was showing not signs of ending, when issues such as immigration, terrorism or the planet's ecology should be at the forefront of the  discussions between world leaders, the Western press only had one single topic which seemed to interest them: homosexuals and their so-called "right" to marriage.  That, and the chicks from Femen who somehow managed to elude the otherwise all-seeing eye of the German security services and showed their breasts to Putin at the Hanover exhibition.  To say that the Russian press was unimpressed would be an understatement.  Frankly, most commentators are openly wondering whether the West has not gone completely crazy.

As for the very few pro-US politicians left in Russia, they are terribly embarrassed to be associated in any way with the USA or the EU and they are forced to retreat into arguments such as "yes, this is disgusting, but our country also has bad problems" which, I am sure you will agree, is not much of a platform to stand on.

The internal power struggle inside the Kremlin is clearly reaching a new, more overt, phase and it will have to come to some sort of resolution rather soon as the current situation is unsustainable, in particular at a moment in time when the situation in Syria is threatening to turn into yet another regional war.  One could also say that now is the perfect time to get rid of unimaginative, tepid or otherwise confused political figures like Medvedev and his allies and to make sure that the Russian state is run by one team united by a common vision.

Russia needs a government less preoccupied by pleasing the West and more concerned with the desires and needs of the Russian people.

The Saker