• A New Fight Over Syria War Strategy - Antiwar.com Original by — Antiwar.com


    The long internal political struggle within the Obama administration over policy toward Syria has intensified following a proposal by President Barack Obama to cooperate with Russia in an air campaign against Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise.

    The proposal, in response to an overture from Russia in May, would coordinate airstrikes against al-Nusra Front – the most powerful force in the war against Bashar al-Assad’s regime – in return for Russian agreement to constrain the Syrian regime from bombing non-jihadist forces willing to comply with the ceasefire.

    If fully implemented, such a joint U.S.-Russian military campaign against Nusra could help hasten an end to the war by weakening the jihadist group cited by the Syrian regime as a major reason it has refused to make sufficient political concessions. In theory, such cooperation could strengthen both the regime and the so-called “moderate” rebels at the expense of the jihadists.

    But Obama’s proposal is under attack by powerful elements of the national security bureaucracy. Even though the opponents have been unable to stop the proposal, they continue to press their case and it is not clear how committed the proponents are in pressuring their Syrian clients to comply with an agreement.

    Last week, opponents of the proposal within the Obama administration leaked its existence to Washington Post columnist Josh #Rogin, whose sympathies clearly lie with the U.S. advocates of direct US war against the Assad regime.

    Rogin’s story confirms that one major source of opposition to the proposal is Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and his staff. The article suggests, moreover, that the Pentagon opposition has less to do with Syria than with the Pentagon’s interest in preventing any softening of the new U.S.-Russia Cold War.

    #Syrie #OTAN #Russie #Etats-Unis

  • Un échantillon des #énormités des #msm dans leurs compte-rendus des #guerres au #moyen-orient,

    #Gareth_Porter :

    – à supposer que l’#Iran mène au #Yemen une « guerre par procuration » contre l’#Arabie_Saoudite à travers les #Houthis, comment peut-on décemment qualifier de même l’intervention on ne peut plus directe de l’Arabie saoudite dans ce pays ?

    – Comment un article dont le sujet est précisément les guerres par procuration, peut-il décemment faire le silence sur celles menées en #Syrie par la #Turquie, le #Qatar et l’Arabie saoudite, notamment à travers des groupes aussi peu recommandables que #al-Nusra/#al-Qaïda #ISIS ?

    • Entre autres choses, le passage sur la Syrie :

      The crimes committed by the Syrian regime in the war are unconscionable, but the policies of external countries pursuing a proxy war to overthrow the existing regime have created a far more ominous threat to the entire region. Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has detailed the process by which Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar competed with one another to create proxy forces with which to overthrow the Assad regime. 

      Such an unbridled competition in the creation of armies for regime change was by its very essence a reckless and cynical use of power that carried the obvious risk of even worse chaos and violence of the war in Syria. But they have made the costs of proxy war far greater by targeting the most aggressive armed groups they could find as their clients, and their weapons soon “made their way to the terrorist groups,” wrote Ignatius, to which the Turks and Qataris “turned a blind eye”. 

      Once it became clear that Sunni states were creating a proxy war in Syria that could tip the balance against the Syrian regime, Iran and Hezbollah intervened in support of the regime.

      But what the conventional view of the Syrian proxy war leaves out is the linkage between Syria in Iran’s deterrence strategy. Iran is militarily weak in relation with Israel and US military power in the Middle East, and has been the target of US and Israeli military threats going back to the 1990s.

      Iran’s deterrent to such attacks has depended on the threat of retaliatory rocket attacks against Israel by Hezbollah from Southern Lebanon - destroying the ability of Hezbollah to retaliate for an attack was the single biggest reason for Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah.

      The Assad regime was part of the Iranian deterrent as well. Not only did Syria have a force of several hundred missiles that Israel would have to take into account but also, Syrian territory is the shortest route for Iranian resupply of Hezbollah.

  • Behind the smoke: #Gareth_Porter and the Iranian nuclear story

    Participants take their seats to attend the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors’ meeting at the International Center in Vienna on June 2, 2014. (Photo: AFP - Samuel Kubani) Participants take their seats to attend the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors’ meeting at the International Center in Vienna on June 2, 2014. (Photo: AFP - Samuel Kubani)

    Iran’s nuclear program has been a subject of obsession for Western governments and media agencies for decades, as far back as the final years of Western-backed Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi’s reign. But over the course of the last decade, the subject has reached new hysterical heights, propelled by mainstream media coverage mired with (...)

    #Culture_&_Society #Articles #cyberwarfare #EU #IFI #Iranian_nuclear_program #Israel #negotiations #US

  • Was the Iranian threat fabricated by #Israel and the U.S.?
    By Shemuel Meir

    A #narrative is a story that we tell ourselves, and not necessarily what happened in reality. For example, the “Iranian threat” narrative, which has become the common wisdom in Israeli public discourse. A new book by #Gareth_Porter, an American historian and researcher specializing in U.S. national security, shows how the actual state of the Iranian nuclear program does not match the Iranian threat narrative.

    The book’s title, “Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Nuclear Scare” (Just World Books), already tells us that it is going against the current. Porter appears to be the only researcher who has read with an unprejudiced eye all the reports of the International Atomic Energy Agency from the past decade. He also had access to American intelligence reports on the Iranian issue from recent decades. In addition, Porter interviewed generations of American officials and analyzed the testimony of senior officials before Congress.

    The result is a highly detailed and well-documented book for all interested in understanding how we arrived at the Iranian nuclear crisis, and the “attack scenarios,” and invented facts and intelligence reports whose purpose was to support the preconceptions. At the same time, the book is invaluable for those wishing to understand what is being discussed in the intensive nuclear talks that have been taking place Iran and the superpowers (or, more accurately, Iran and the U.S.) since the signing of last November’s interim agreement, which surprised many Israelis.

    According to Porter, it was a hidden political #agenda of U.S. decision makers (from long before Israel entered the picture) that gave rise to the Iranian nuclear crisis. This is one of the book’s main subjects, and the starting point for a discussion with which we in Israel are unfamiliar.

    The story begins with U.S. support for the Iraqis during the 1980s Iraq-#Iran war. The critical point comes with the collapse of the Soviet empire. According to Porter, that event and the end of the Cold War pulled out the rug from under the CIA’s raison d’être. The solution the Americans found to continue providing the organization with a tremendous budget was the invention of a new threat – the merging of weapons of mass destruction (an ambiguous term in itself) and terror. Iran, which rose to the top of the list, provided the threat that “saved” the #CIA.

    The empowering of the CIA’s organizational interests was reinforced by the gallant neoconservatives, led by ideologues Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and John Bolton, who had in the meantime reached senior positions in the government. They launched a campaign to delegitimize the Islamic Republic with the aim of toppling the regime (using the sanitized term “regime change”).

    Running through Porter’s book is the well-substantiated claim that U.S. and Israeli policies on Iran derived from their political and organizational interests, and not necessarily from careful factual analysis of the Iranian nuclear program, which was subject to IAEA monitoring, or of the intentions of the Iranian leadership.

    According to Porter, no systematic analysis was made of the goals of the Iranian nuclear program, and neither U.S. nor Israeli policy makers devoted any thought to why all of Iran’s official declarations on the subject were in line with the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Furthermore, in U.S. discussions until 2007, and in Israel until today, hovering overhead is the nuclear “axiom” that Iran is dashing toward a bomb via the route of uranium-enrichment centrifuges. Porter and the IAEA found no proof of the dash to the bomb.

    Following is Haaretz’s interview with Porter, conducted via email.


    #Etats-Unis #AIEA #nucleaire

  • The NSA’s Secret Role in the U.S. Assassination Program

    According to a former drone operator for the military’s Joint Special Operations Command (#JSOC) who also worked with the #NSA, the agency often identifies targets based on controversial #metadata analysis and cell-phone tracking technologies. Rather than confirming a target’s identity with operatives or informants on the ground, the #CIA or the U.S. military then orders a strike based on the activity and location of the #mobile phone a person is believed to be using.

    The #drone operator, who agreed to discuss the top-secret programs on the condition of anonymity, was a member of JSOC’s High Value Targeting task force, which is charged with identifying, capturing or killing terrorist suspects in Yemen, Somalia, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

    His account is bolstered by top-secret NSA documents previously provided by whistleblower Edward #Snowden. It is also supported by a former drone sensor operator with the U.S. Air Force, Brandon Bryant, who has become an outspoken critic of the lethal operations in which he was directly involved in #Iraq, #Afghanistan and #Yemen.


    One problem, he explains, is that targets are increasingly aware of the NSA’s reliance on geolocating, and have moved to thwart the tactic. Some have as many as 16 different #SIM_cards associated with their identity within the High Value Target system. Others, unaware that their mobile phone is being targeted, lend their phone, with the SIM card in it, to friends, children, spouses and family members.

    Some top Taliban leaders, knowing of the NSA’s targeting method, have purposely and randomly distributed SIM cards among their units in order to elude their trackers. “They would do things like go to meetings, take all their SIM cards out, put them in a bag, mix them up, and everybody gets a different SIM card when they leave,” the former drone operator says. “That’s how they confuse us.”

    As a result, even when the agency correctly identifies and targets a SIM card belonging to a terror suspect, the phone may actually be carried by someone else, who is then killed in a strike. According to the former drone operator, the geolocation cells at the NSA that run the tracking program – known as Geo Cell –sometimes facilitate strikes without knowing whether the individual in possession of a tracked cell phone or SIM card is in fact the intended target of the strike.

    “Once the bomb lands or a night raid happens, you know that phone is there,” he says. “But we don’t know who’s behind it, who’s holding it. It’s of course assumed that the phone belongs to a human being who is nefarious and considered an ‘unlawful enemy combatant.’ This is where it gets very shady.”


    What’s more, he adds, the NSA often locates drone targets by analyzing the activity of a SIM card, rather than the actual content of the calls. Based on his experience, he has come to believe that the drone program amounts to little more than death by unreliable metadata.

    “People get hung up that there’s a targeted list of people,” he says. “It’s really like we’re targeting a cell phone. We’re not going after people – we’re going after their phones , in the hopes that the person on the other end of that missile is the bad guy.”


    • En 2011 #Gareth_Porter avait déjà dit l’essentiel

      Although the raids have undoubtedly killed a large number of Taliban commanders and fighters, it is now clear that they also killed and incarcerated thousands of #innocent civilians. The failure to discriminate between combatants and civilians flows directly from a targeting methodology that is incapable of such discrimination.


      ... McChrystal’s operation relied on far more mundane technologies than Woodward’s sensational language suggested. In a new book, “Task Force Black,” by Mark Urban, the diplomatic editor at BBC’s “Newsnight,” reveals that McChrystal’s command gathered intelligence on al-Qaeda and Mahdi Army personnel from three well-known technologies: 24-hour surveillance by drone aircraft, monitoring of mobile phone traffic and pinpointing the physical location of the phones from their signals.


      Targeting Phone Numbers, Not People


  • How Intelligence Was Twisted to Support an Attack on Syria

    Par #Gareth_Porter

    ... the unclassified summary of the intelligence assessment made public August 30, 2013, utilizes misleading language evocative of the infamous Iraq estimate’s deceptive phrasing. The summary cites signals, geospatial and human source intelligence that purportedly show that the Syrian government prepared, carried out and “confirmed” a chemical weapons attack on August 21. And it claims visual evidence “consistent with” a nerve gas attack. 

    But a careful examination of those claims reveals a series of convolutedly worded characterizations of the intelligence that don’t really mean what they appear to say at first glance. 

    The document displays multiple indications that the integrity of the assessment process was seriously compromised by using language that distorted the intelligence in ways that would justify an attack on Syria.

  • IPS – Indictment of Iran for ’94 Terror Bombing Relied on MEK | Inter Press Service

    Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman based his 2006 warrant for the arrest of top Iranian officials in the bombing of a Jewish community centre in Buenos Aires in 1994 on the claims of representatives of the armed Iranian opposition Mujahedin E Khalq (MEK), the full text of the document reveals.

    The central piece of evidence cited in Nisman’s original 900-page arrest warrant against seven senior Iranian leaders is an alleged Aug. 14, 1993 meeting of top Iranian leaders, including both Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and then president Hashemi Rafsanjani, at which Nisman claims the official decision was made to go ahead with the planning of the bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA).

    But the document, recently available in English for the first time, shows that his only sources for the claim were representatives of the MEK or People’s Mujahideen of Iran. The MEK has an unsavoury history of terrorist bombings against civilian targets in Iran, as well as of serving as an Iraq-based mercenary army for Saddam Hussein’s forces during the Iran-Iraq War.

    #Gareth_porter #iran #MEK