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Thread: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

  1. #21
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Report: Hezbollah considering military coup, taking over Beirut

    Published: 11.22.11, 13:30 / Israel News


    Hezbollah's leadership is considering the possibility of taking control of Beirut thus carrying out a military coup in Lebanon should the current Syrian regime fall, the al-Arabia network reported.

    According to the report, Hezbollah officials have expressed concerns over the escalation of the situation in Syria, a situation that could cause the fall of Assad's regime. They noted that it was due to those concerns that the Hezbollah leadership was examining various scenarios including a military coup in Lebanon. (Roee Nahmias)


    Report: If Assad falls, Hezbollah will take Beirut

    By JPOST.COM STAFF
    11/22/2011 14:48

    Hezbollah may launch a military offensive to take over the Lebanese capital of Beirut if the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad buckles to ongoing protests, Dubai-based Al Arabiya reported Tuesday according to "sources close to Hezbollah."

    According to the source, despite an air of confidence in broadcasts from Hezbollah's Secretary-General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, officials behind closed doors have begun to worry about the potential fallout that may result following the collapse of the Syrian regime, especially given the alliance between Hezbollah, Syria and Iran.

    Israel has alleged that Iran smuggles weapons through Syria and to Hezbollah in Lebanon. In August, as protests raged across Syria, Turkish officials seized Iranian arms that were smuggled through Syria and reportedly en route to the militant Islamist group in Lebanon.


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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



  2. #22
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Report: Plan for Syrian airspace closure completed

    Published: 11.22.11, 10:50 / Israel News

    European sources in Washington have stated that the plan to close Syrian airspace has been completed. According to reports in Kuwait's Al-Rai newspaper, the plan will be carried out by Arab and maybe even Turkish fighter jets with US supplied logistical assistance.

    Reports claim that the purpose of the closure is to paralyze Syrian military movement and follow the Presidential Palace, military command and intelligence activities. "The Syrian military can be paralyzed in less than 24 hours," sources noted. (Roee Nahmias)

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



  3. #23
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Italy backs sanctions against Iran, Russia opposed

    By REUTERS AND REBECCA ANNA STOIL
    11/22/2011 12:42



    New Italian FM supports US sanctions on Tehran's financial systems with "full conviction"; Russia calls them "contradictory to international law"; Iran says sanctions futile.

    Talkbacks (47)

    Italy offered its full backing to the economic sanctions against Iran announced by the US government, new Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi said on Tuesday, adding to international pressure against Tehran's nuclear program.

    "Italy supports with full conviction the plan for economic sanctions announced by the US administration," a statement from the Foreign Ministry read. The statement followed a report from the International Atomic Energy Agency which presented evidence suggesting that Iran had worked on designing an atomic bomb.

    RELATED:
    Iran minister says sanctions a 'lose-lose game'
    'US, UK, to announce new sanctions on Iran'

    Russia's Foreign Ministry denounced the sanctions as "unacceptable and contradictory to international law," Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday.

    The United States, worried by Tehran's nuclear program, named Iran on Monday as an area of "primary money laundering concern" in a step designed to dissuade non-US banks from dealing with it.

    It also blacklisted 11 entities suspected of aiding its nuclear programs and expanded sanctions to target companies that aid its oil and petrochemical industries.

    Iran dismissed new sanctions as more a propaganda exercise than something that will hit the economy.

    "Such measures are condemned by our people and will have no impact and be in vain," Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told a news conference Tuesday.

    US President Barack Obama said Monday that the United States had identified "the entire Iranian banking sector - including the Central Bank of Iran - as a threat to governments or financial institutions that do business with Iranian banks."

    Obama said Washington would continue to look for ways to pressure Tehran over its nuclear program.

    "As long as Iran continues down this dangerous path, the United States will continue to find ways, both in concert with our partners and through our own actions to isolate and increase the pressure upon the Iranian regime," he said.

    US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner made an official announcement on Monday afternoon detailing the series of new sanctions against Tehran, focusing on Iran’s money-raising activities.

    Geithner declared the Central Bank of Iran to be a “primary money laundering concern,” a step short of official sanctions that would require the United States to cut off access to any foreign institution that does business with the bank. That more drastic step would have presented serious problems for US business if states such as China and Russia fail, as they are expected, to cut off ties with Tehran. The new category would simply warn off foreign governments and companies from dealing with Iranian institutions.

    Clinton phoned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu Monday evening to brief him on the sanctions the US decided to level against Iran.

    The United Kingdom started off the trans-Atlantic sanctions announcements earlier Monday when the British government announced their decision to terminate all dealings with the Central Bank of Iran, a decision that covers all Iranian banks, branches and subsidiaries.

    “This measure will protect the UK financial sector from being unknowingly used by Iranian banks for proliferation related transactions,” said George Osborne, Britain’s treasury chief.

    Iran’s nuclear activities “pose a significant risk to the national interests of the UK and countries across the region.”

    Since the November 8 publication of the IAEA’s report on Iran, the US has been pushing for international cooperation in policing Tehran’s nuclear production initiatives. Last week’s meeting of the nuclear watchdog organization’s board of governors yielded a statement calling on Iran to open itself to inspectors, but stopped short of major international steps against Tehran’s march toward nuclear armament.

    Iranian representatives were conspicuously absent from a two-day meeting in Vienna held to discuss nuclear non-proliferation in the Middle East. In the shadow of the recent report slamming Iran’s nuclear aspirations, the IAEA hosted representatives of a number of Middle Eastern states, including Israel, for a discussion on creating a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the area.

    There are already nuclearweapon- free zones in South America, Africa, the south Pacific and parts of Asia.

    In addition to the nuclear faceoff and the terror plot targeting the Saudi ambassador to Washington, it looked Monday that there was yet another factor in Washington’s growing tensions with Iran.

    The Washington Post revealed Monday that Iran was suspected of having provided former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi with hundreds of artillery shells filled with “highly toxic mustard agent.” These shells, discovered in recent sweeps of Libya by anti-Gaddafi forces, were beyond the purview of the minimal amounts of chemical agents that the US knew that Gaddafi held.

    The Washington Post article quoted a senior US official as saying that the US “was pretty sure” that the shells were custom- designed and produced in Iran for Libya.

    Washington is also concerned that more than a dozen undercover agents working for the CIA who were caught in both Iran and Lebanon will be or already have been executed, ABC News quoted US officials as saying on Monday.

    According to the report, the agents were paid informants, hired by the CIA to spy on Iran and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

    “Many risks lead to wins, but some result in occasional setbacks,” ABC quoted an official as saying. The arrests occurred over the past six months, he added.

    The officials gave credit to Iran and Hezbollah for uncovering the two espionage rings, but say sloppy CIA “tradecraft” was also partly to blame for the discovery of the networks.

    “We were lazy and the CIA is now flying blind against Hezbollah,” a former official was quoted as saying.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

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    ."
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



  4. #24
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Russian warships in Syrian waters

    22 November 2011, Vladimir Radyuhin



    The rift between Russia and the West over Syria and Iran has widened on Tuesday as Moscow sent warships to Syrian shores in a show of support for the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and slammed new United States sanctions against Iran as “unacceptable”.

    Three Russian warships have entered Syrian territorial waters, Russian wire services reported on Tuesday citing Syrian sources. The news came a day after Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the West and Arab monarchies of engaging in “political provocation” in Syria by rejecting dialogue between the opposition and authorities and welcoming armed attacks on government offices.

    The Russian warships were reported to be heading towards the Syrian port of Tartus, where Russia has a naval base. A source close to the Syrian President said the Russian ships would patrol Syrian waters “to prevent any military interference”. Media reports said the ships may try to intercept small vessels that are smuggling weapons for Syrian opposition from the Lebanon and Turkey.

    The Russian military refused either to confirm or deny the reports.
    “We are not commenting on this information,” said Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



  5. #25
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Russian warships off Syria, US carriers near Iran
    DEBKAfile Exclusive Report November 21, 2011, 6:20 PM (GMT+02:00) Tags: Russia US Canada Syrian uprising Iran nuclear

    US carriers Stennis and Bush



    Big power gunboat diplomacy is in full spate in the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf. Washington is underscoring its military option against Iran's nuclear program, while Russia is demonstrating its resolve to prevent NATO attacking Syria after Libya and defending Bashar Assad's regime. Monday, Nov. 21,
    Russia's foreign minister Sergey Lavrov accused Western nations of "political provocation" by urging the Syrian opposition to refuse to negotiate a settlement with Assad.
    Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, for his part, advised Assad: "You can only continue with tanks and guns to a certain point, the day will come when you will go."
    debkafile's military sources note that Russia and America adopted aggressive postures on Nov. 12, when two American carriers, the USS Bush and USS Stennis sailed through the Strait of Hormuz side by side and took up position opposite the Iranian coast.
    That was also the day when a mysterious explosion at the Revolutionary Guards base near Tehran wiped out the entire leadership of Iran's ballistic missile program.
    Five days later, on Nov. 17, the Syrian news agency reported three Russian naval vessels on the Mediterranean were heading toward Syria.
    Monday, Nov. 21, presidential sources in Damascus announced three warships had entered Syrian territorial waters outside Tartus port.
    Those sources stressed the Russian ships would not anchor in the Syrian port, indicating that their mission was not just to show the flag for the Assad regime but was on operational duty along its coasts to resist any foreign intervention in Syria unrest.
    Our military sources are watching to see whether the Russian flotilla targets the small craft transporting arms from Lebanon and Turkey to Syrian rebels fighting the regime. If so, Moscow would be able to present these strikes as actions against piracy which would fall under a UN Security Council resolution.
    While Moscow and Damascus kept the identity of the Russian warships dark, Arab sources said at least two of them are equipped for gathering intelligence and electronic warfare.
    As the Russian warships entered Syrian territorial waters, Canadian Defense Minister Peter McKay announced that in the light of the Syrian crisis, the Royal Canadian Navy would keep back in the Mediterranean until the end of 2012 certain vessels which took part in the Libyan campaign.
    debkafile's military sources report he was referring to two frigates:
    HMCS Vancouver will stay in the Mediterranean Sea until early next year," he said, taking part in "locating, tracking, reporting (and) boarding vessels of interest suspected of international terrorism." It would be relieved by HMCS Charlottetown until the end of 2012.
    Defense Minister Mckay explained: "…a lot of dictators are on notice that this type of behavior isn't going to be tolerated. How we go about it and what comes next is done on… an escalating scale before making any final decisions about intervention."
    The Canadian defense minister was the first prominent Western official to admit the possibility of Western military intervention in Syria.
    Three more events affecting the fate of the Assad regime, Tehran's closest ally, followed in quick succession Monday:
    British Foreign Secretary William Hague received a delegation of the opposition Syrian National Council in London. Shortly before the interview the SNC published its plan for the transition of power from the Assad regime in Damascus, calling also for "international protection for Syrian civilians."
    In Syria itself, three buses carrying Turkish pilgrims home from Mecca were accosted by a Syrian checkpoint at Cizre near Homs. The passengers were ordered to disembark for their papers to be inspected. The Syrian soldiers then started shooting at them, injuring a passenger and one of the drivers.
    This incident will not be treated lightly by the Erdogan government.
    Until now, despite vocal threats, Ankara has not intervened directly in the nine-month Syrian uprising aside from arming and training rebels.
    Also Monday, Jordan's King Abdullah II paid a surprise visit to Ramallah for talks with the Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas. One of the items on his agenda was an attempt to find out where the Palestinian leader stands vis-à-vis the Arab Revolt, especially on the conflict in Syria.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    The return of 'Mr No': Russia irks West on Syria

    Tuesday, 22 November 2011 14:01


    MOSCOW, Nov 22, 2011 (AFP) - Russia has defiantly refused to back the West's hard line on Syria not just because it retains interests there but also as Moscow wants to send a message it is still a great power, analysts said.
    Russia last month used its UN Security Council veto to shoot down a resolution condemning the lethal crackdown by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and has made clear it will not contemplate sanctions against Damascus.
    In recent days, Moscow told the West it had failed to condemn violations by the opposition in the unrest and became the first major power to liken the unrest in the country to a civil war.
    At a time when it is also opposing Western moves for new sanctions against Iran over its nuclear programme, Russia's stance is increasingly reminiscent of the hardball heyday of postwar Soviet diplomacy.
    The Soviet Union's long-serving foreign minister Andrei Gromyko, who held the post for 38 years from 1957 to 1985, then won the grudgingly respectful nickame of Mr Nyet (Mr No) from the West for his cussed intransigence.
    The spirit of Gromyko, who died in 1989, still haunts the Russian foreign ministry and his 100th birthday was celebrated with full ceremony in its Stalin-era skyscraper in 2009.
    “Russia inherited foreign policy and a foreign policy establishment from the USSR and in many ways continues the tradition of Stalin and Brezhnev times,” said Yevgeny Volk of the Yeltsin Foundation.
    He said that Russia as the successor state to the Soviet Union still feels a loyalty to former Soviet allies regarded with distaste elsewhere -- including Cuba, North Korea, Iran and Syria.
    Under strongman leader Vladimir Putin, modern Russia has always wanted to show it remains a “velikaya derzhava” -- a great power -- despite the humiliating loss of the Soviet Empire two decades ago.
    The tensions with the West over Syria and Iran also come at a time when the elite wants to flex its muscle ahead of parliamentary elections in December and presidential polls in March, when Putin is expected to return to the Kremlin.
    “Russia is not going to drop its allies, especially before an election at a time when nationalist sentiment is growing. It would be seen as surrender on the part of Russia,” said Volk.
    Moscow's stubborn stance contrasts with how in March it opened the way for the Western air campaign in Libya by declining to use its veto and instead abstaining on the vote to create a no-fly zone.
    That decision was championed by President Dmitry Medvedev, who made much of his strong personal relationship with his US counterpart Barack Obama but is now standing aside for the more prickly Putin.
    “The West wants Russia's support, but what will Moscow get in return?” said Viktor Kremenyuk, the deputy head of the United States-Canada Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences.
    “Russia received nothing for its support on Libya.”The Soviet Union built strong relations with Assad's father, the late Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, the kind of authoritarian but strongly secular Arab leader of whom the Soviet Union approved.
    As a result, Russia remains a leading arms supplier to Syria and also has an occasionally-used but potentially strategic naval base in the Syrian port of Tartus which admirals have vowed to expand in the next years.
    Kremenyuk said: “Syria has been loyal and this is appreciated. Moscow does not have so many allies in the world that they can just be easily cast aside.”Vyacheslav Drizkaln, deputy director of Russia's Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation, bluntly stated earlier this month that Moscow would honour all previous military contracts to Damascus.
    “Since there are no restrictions on arms supplies to Syria, Russia is performing all of its contractual obligations we have assumed before this country,” he said, quoted by the Interfax news agency.
    These are believed to include Yakhont anti-ship cruise missiles, a sale that has caused repeated alarm from Syria's foe Israel.
    “Russia has invested a lot in Syria and does not want to lose its position,” commented Volk. But he warned that if Russia defended Assad “too stubbornly” it risked completely losing all influence in the country if he was toppled.
    The ousting of the Libyan regime of Moamer Kadhafi by rebels that Russia never fully backed -- even as the regime's end become inevitable -- left it struggling to regain political influence and an economic foothold in the country.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    There is surprisingly little about the ships' movements in the news today.

    Nothing specific of course, and nothing at mentioning any tensions.....

    this is not boding well.
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  8. #28
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Soviet Era Ship Killers Slipped Into Syria

    November 22, 2011




    Despite the growing civil war in Syria, Russia is honoring an order, earlier this year, for an unspecified number of SSN-26 Yakhont anti-ship missiles.

    The order was finally confirmed eight months ago, after four years of haggling and efforts by Israel and the United States to block the sale.

    Apparently the missiles have already been paid for, and Syrian has assured Russia that the missiles can safely be delivered by ship.

    Russia is happy for any sale, but seems particularly anxious for this missile to get some combat experience. The Yakhont was under development throughout the 1990s, but was delayed by lack of funds.

    Now it's in production, and the Russians have been energetically seeking export sales. The Yakhont uses a liquid-fuel ramjet and travels 300 kilometers at speeds of over 2,000 kilometers an hour (using a high altitude cruise and a low-altitude approach; if it travels entirely at low altitude the range is cut to 120km).

    When the missile arrives in the area where the target is supposed to be, it turns on its radar and goes for the kill. Israel is the only one in the region the Yakhonts would be used against. However, because Iran is supplying (unofficially) the cash for the missiles, there is also the risk that some of the Yakhonts would end up in Iran for use against numerous targets in the Persian Gulf.

    The ground based Yakhont can use truck mounted or fixed launchers, with up to 36 missiles supported by a land based search radar and helicopter mounted radars (to locate targets over the horizon). Once a target has been identified and located, one or two missiles are programmed with that location and launched. The Yakhont is a 8.9 meter (27.6 foot) long, three ton missile with a 300 kg (660 pound) warhead.

    An improved version of the Yakhont, the PJ-10 BrahMos missile, was developed for India. The 9.4 meter (29 foot) long, 670mm diameter missile is an upgraded version of the Yakhont. Lacking money to finish development and begin production, the Russian manufacturer eventually made a deal with India to finish the job.

    India put up most of the $240 million needed to finally complete two decades of development, an effort which produced the long delayed Yakhont, and more capable BrahMos. The PJ-10 is being built in Russia and India, with the Russians assisting India in setting up manufacturing facilities for cruise missile components. Efforts are being made to export up to 2,000, but no one has placed an order yet. Russia and India are encouraged enough to invest in BrahMos 2, which will use a scramjet, instead of a ramjet, in the second stage. This would double speed, and make the missile much more difficult to defend against.



    The 3.2 ton BrahMos has a range of 300 kilometers and a 300 kg warhead.

    Perhaps the most striking characteristic is its high speed, literally faster (at up to a kilometer per second) than a rifle bullet. The high price of each missile, about $2.3 million, restricts the number of countries that can afford it. The weapon entered service with the Indian navy in 2005.

    The maximum speed of 3,000 kilometers an hour makes it harder to intercept, and means it takes five minutes or less to reach its target. The air launched version weighs 2.5 tons, the others, three tons or more.

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
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    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    EU reaches deal on new Iran sanctions

    Published: 11.22.11, 19:38 / Israel News

    European Union governments agreed in principle on Tuesday to extend sanctions against Iran by adding some 200 names to a target list of people and entities, diplomats said. The decision will be formally approved at a meeting of EU foreign ministers on Dec. 1, they said. Companies and organisations included will face EU asset freezes, and officials will be banned from travelling to the EU.

    In addition to extending the sanctions list, EU governments are also expected to discuss in the coming days proposals by France and Britain on targeting the Iranian central bank. France also wants to target the oil industry. (Reuters)

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    Nikita Khrushchev: "We will bury you"
    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
    We’ll so weaken your
    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    until you’ll
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    like overripe fruit into our hands."



  10. #30
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Companion Posts and Threads:



    Cyberwar explodes in Syria


    By Ivan Watson, CNN
    November 22, 2011 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)

    Istanbul (CNN) -- A familiar digital chime rang on the computer. Someone was calling via Skype from Syria.

    It was a law student and opposition activist from the city of Homs who uses the pseudonym Musaab al Hussaini to protect himself from arrest. He had fresh reports that security forces were shooting guns wildly in the neighborhood Baba Amrr.

    Hussaini was calling via Psiphon, an online encryption system he had just installed that morning. He said it protected him from detection by the Syrian security services, also known as mukhabarat.

    "Yeah, I feel safe now, because I use software to get an encryption connection to the Internet," Hussaini said. He said Psiphon also allowed him to circumvent government firewalls which block access to popular communications sites like Skype.

    "If you want to open Skype in Syria today, we cannot, because its blocked. And if it was opened, we would be afraid of everything ... of making a voice call. We are afraid to be recorded by the mukhabarat," he said.

    Psiphon is a surveillance-busting networking system designed by a Canadian company with funding from the U.S. State Department. The company's CEO told CNN the software had been "aggressively" introduced to Syria just three weeks ago. Since then, thousands of people had begun using it.

    "What we're doing is not much different to what the airwaves provided during the Cold War to provide those citizens living behind the Iron Curtain with an ability to get information which otherwise they were not getting from their state," said Rafal Rohozinski of SecDev, the company which developed Psiphon.


    Unrest continues in Syria



    Unrest continues in Syria

    "Whereas shortwave radio during the Cold War was very unidirectional ... with the Internet these technologies are by definition bidirectional, meaning that it gives an opportunity for citizens within these states to also communicate amongst themselves and with the outside world."

    For the past eight months, Syria has been locked in a bloody cycle of anti-regime protests and violent crackdown. The United Nations accuses government security forces of systematic torture, disappearances and the use of deadly force to crush dissent. More than 3,500 people have been killed since March. The UN's top human rights monitoring commission has repeatedly accused the Syrian regime of carrying out crimes against humanity.

    But this bloody test of wills is not only being fought in the streets. Activists, diplomats and IT specialists say there is also a high-stakes war of information being waged in cyberspace.

    Since media are strictly controlled by the Syrian government, and foreign journalists are by and large prohibited from entering the country, the Internet has played a vital role for Syrian opposition activists smuggling out images of atrocities carried out by security forces.

    "Regimes like that of (Syrian President) Bashar al-Assad know very well how access to information but also free expression and press freedom are a risk to him if he wants to continue to control all the power," said Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European Parliament who is an outspoken advocate for freedom of expression, particularly over the Internet.

    "We've seen an enormous crackdown on people, but also through the information systems and communications tools that they are using, and that's quite frightening," Schaake said.

    We condemn the use of our storage by the Syrian government to repress it own people.

    Some observers argue the Internet has become a battleground in an all-out Syrian cyberwar. One side in the conflict is even referred to as the Syrian electronic army.

    On November 14, the European Union slapped sanctions against 18 Syrian individuals closely associated with the alleged abuses of the Damascus regime. Among those singled out to have their assets frozen were George Chaoui, Amar Ismael and Mujahed Ismail. The EU described each as a "member of (the) Syrian electronic army. Involved in the violent crackdown and call for violence against the civilian population against Syria."

    "The Syrian electronic army is basically a group of hackers built around the Syrian computer club which at one time was under the patronage of Bashar al-Assad. Its IP addresses indicate that it is collocated in facilities which belong to the Syrian government," said Rohozinski of SecDev, who has worked closely with the University of Toronto's Citizen Lab program documenting the Syrian conflict in cyberspace.

    "They have been responsible for a number of high-level hacking attacks against a variety of targets including Syrian opposition movements," he added.

    The arsenal of IT weapons the Syrian government uses to control information apparently includes surveillance hardware and software developed by Western companies, as well as by American corporations that are barred by U.S. sanctions from selling such technology to Syria without first obtaining a license.

    This month, the California-based Internet security companies NetAPP and Blue Coat announced they would cooperate with U.S. authorities, after a series of investigative reports by Citizen Lab and the Bloomberg news website revealed their web-monitoring products were being used by the Syrian government.

    "We condemn the use of our storage by the Syrian government to repress it own people," NetApp wrote in a statement on its website.

    Blue Coat also confirmed the results of a Citizen Lab investigation which showed that some of its ProxySG appliances were operating from IP addresses in Syria.

    "We do not know who is using the appliances or exactly how they are being used," Blue Coat announced on its corporate website this month. "Blue Coat is mindful of the violence in Syria and is saddened by the human suffering and loss of human life that may be the results of actions by a repressive regime. We don't want our products to be used by the government of Syria or any other country embargoed by the United States."

    Meanwhile, the Italian company Area SpA, which works with law enforcement agencies to monitor telephone and Internet communications, and the German data encryption company Ultimaco have also issued statements announcing they were freezing their work in Syria.

    In a series of articles, Bloomberg revealed Area had been contracted to install an electronic surveillance system in Damascus using products from NetAPP and Ultimaco.

    In response, Area SpA's CEO, Andrea Formenti, was quoted in Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper this month announcing that his company had no employees in Syria and that the project had not made any progress in the last two months.

    "The interception system has never been activated and cannot be under current circumstances. There has been no repression carried out thanks to our equipment," Formenti told Corriere della Sera.

    "These technologies can be as effective as weapons," argued Schaake, the European Parliament member. She has called for a broad inquiry into the role that information and technology companies are playing in countries like Syria.

    "We cannot turn a blind eye to the serious human rights violations that happen with Western-made technologies," Schaake said.

    Schaake said activists have described being confronted during interrogations with Syrian security forces with detailed transcripts of their conversations, which are evidence of electronic eavesdropping.

    And a Western diplomat stationed in Ankara, the Turkish capital, said on the eve of a planned Internet video conference between Syrian exiles in Turkey and dissidents in Syria, many of the Syrian participants were raided by security forces.

    "The day before, the Syrian regime went in and killed ten of them and the whole thing fizzled out," said the diplomat, who has been in close contact with the Syrian opposition. "If we would have had Psiphon then, I think we could have avoided that."

    The Syrian government clearly has far greater technological resources than the opposition. But the Syrian cyberwar is not a one-sided conflict.

    Damascus accuses foreign governments, as well as international broadcasters like Al Jazeera, CNN and the BBC, of aiding and abetting "armed terrorist groups," the term the Syrian government often uses to describe the opposition movement.

    Syrian security forces recently announced they seized large numbers of police radio scanners and satellite phones, according to a report published by Syria's state news agency, SANA.

    Confiscated communication devices included "Thuraya satellite mobile phone sets which were used for satellite communication among the terrorists and those who work with them and between them and the misleading satellite TV channels," SANA wrote.

    SANA accused foreign governments of smuggling communication devices across borders and of strengthening cell phone signals to allow opposition members to roam on foreign phone networks as far as 50 kilometers into Syrian territory.

    Last summer, as thousands of Syrians fled across the border to Turkey to escape Syrian security forces, some Syrian opposition members used Turkish 3G data connections to share images of terrified families camping in the countryside and of Syrian security forces shooting at civilians.

    SANA also published photos of seized satellite technology it claimed was used by the Israeli and U.S. military.

    "The existence of these devices in Syria indicates the clear involvement of these countries ... to back the terrorists in Syria with advanced internet and communications systems," SANA wrote.

    While a growing number of Western and Arab governments have denounced the Syrian regime's pattern of human rights abuses and held meetings with Syrian dissidents, so far none has admitted to supplying communication devices directly to the opposition.

    However, the U.S. government has publicly declared it supports freedom of access to the Internet globally. Washington has also supported the development of encryption technologies for use in authoritarian countries, including Psiphon, which is now being used in Syria.

    Psiphon creator Rohozinski said he and his company had been in direct contact with Syrian opposition activists to deliver the networking system.

    Rohozinski said Psiphon establishes a private connection between a person's phone or computer "to a part of the Internet cloud that makes it very difficult for the authorities to know where that person is going through.

    Moreover, it usually both encrypts and obfuscates that connection."

    Rohozinski said Psiphon is distributed through the discrete delivery of a link.

    "It can be an SMS message, it can be an e-mail, it can be a link to a website that says 'go here to get a secure tool,'" Rohozinski said. "They go there, and either that tool opens when they click on the link, or they download a small application which will run natively on their device and provide that kind of service."

    In Homs, activist Musaab al Husaini told CNN he had just shared Psiphon with two of his friends. Previously, he said, opposition groups had used several other similar systems to avoid authorities, the most well-known network probably being TOR.

    Psiphon appeared faster and easier to use, Husaini said. Connectivity was essential, he added, because most of the activists were communicating across Syria and abroad via Facebook and Skype.

    Despite the advantages offered by online social networking, demonstrators continued to risk life and limb protesting in the streets.

    "My cousin has been arrested. There are more than five or six of my friends that have been killed," Hussaini said. But the risks were worth the sacrifice, he said.

    "We are fighting for freedom, for democracy, for dignity," Hussaini concluded. He said goodbye, and the encrypted Skype call from Syria ended with a digital burble.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Quote Originally Posted by michael2 View Post
    I can tell you this now, if there is war involving Syria and Obama's bunch takes over in Damascus, the new Regime will be Islamist and will drive out one of the last enclaves of Christians left in the Middle East, same as in Iraq and elsewhere after the interventions there...Much as the pressure increases on my Coptic friends in Egypt.

    But nobody, especially the American Evangelicals, give a shit about Christians in the Middle East, especially as they disagree with them theologically anyway...
    It's all part of the plan.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Michael....

    Forgive me. What the hell is a "crypto-Islamicists"?

    I've seen YOU use that phrase before. Whenever I see phrases like this which appear "undefined" anywhere else, at least not in my reading circles I have to wonder who is making shit up. Just like "neo-conservative" whatever that is.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    There are a few progressive provocateurs on the right for Islam, albeit no where as many from the left.

    Grover is from Massachusetts, his marriage to Kuwaiti Muslim Samah Alliyee may have something to do with his ideology toward Radical Islam.

    Consequences of being unequally yoked, IF he was a Christian.


    November 14, 2011
    Grover Norquist and the Iran Lobby

    By Clare M. Lopez and David Reaboi

    A report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) released this week shows that Iran has made considerable progress in its nuclear weapons program. This alarming move toward a deliverable nuclear capability also demonstrates the dangerous consequences of the efforts-from 2007 through at least 2010-by a group of Washington anti-Israel activists and lobbyists who went to bat for the Islamic Republic through an organization known as the Campaign for a New American Policy for Iran (CNAPI).

    This report is about the ways that Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) supported CNAPI activities, through support for a second organization, the American Conservative Defense Alliance (ACDA), a founder and leader of the CNAPI campaign. The policies for which CNAPI lobbied became the do-nothing Iranian policies of the Obama campaign in 2008 and of the Obama administration to the present day: no support for the Iranian Green movement and Iranian democracy activists, few or no economic sanctions, and no military option. And advocacy for unconditional negotiations, as Obama had advocated during the 2008 campaign.

    The report first describes all the connections among Norquist's ATR, and the lobbying groups ACDA and CNAPI -- and then why those connections created dangerous consequences for national security.

    Connections

    More than just a founding member, ACDA actually hosted the November 2007 formation meeting of about 30 largely left-wing and Islamist organizations (including the Council on American Islamic Relations - CAIR) to form CNAPI, as reported on June 10 2008 in the New York Sun and the Global Muslim Brotherhood Report.

    And where did they host it? According to the Sun, "at the headquarters of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington."

    But this support by Norquist's ATR for ACDA and CNAPI was immediately obfuscated in the New York Sun article by statements from leaders of both groups. The Sun wrote of ATR that "A spokesman for that group said it was not involved in the Iran issue," and of the ACDA that "The president of the American Conservative Defense Alliance, Michael Ostrolenk, said his group has office space in the building and borrowed the conference room for the session."

    ACDA did indeed have office space in the building. As the ACDA archived website shows, from 2008 through 2009 ACDA's address was in the identical office suite - Suite 200 at 1920 L St., Suite 200, Washington DC - as Americans for Tax Reform, as the ATR archived website from the same time shows.

    And when ATR moved to a new address (722 12th ST NW, Suite 400, Washington DC 20005), ACDA had office space in that building as well, yet again in the same office suite - Suite 400 - as ATR, as seen in this June 2010 archived ACDA webpage (722 12 St., NW, Suite 400, Washington DC 20005). Just scroll down to the bottom of the webpages to see the addresses.

    However, ACDA had been based at ATR's offices months earlier than the November 2007 CNAPI meeting reported by the New York Sun. We know this due to the recent public release of emails exposed as evidence from an ongoing 2009 libel lawsuit (595 F.Supp.2d 99 (2009), Trita PARSI and National Iranian American Council, Plaintiffs, v. Seid Hassan Daioleslam, Defendant). An email dated June 14, 2007 from Michael Ostrolenk, ACDA's Co-founder/Director, to Babak Talebi and Trita Parsi of the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) among others, invited them all to a meeting at "our office," using the ATR's Suite 200 address in his email signature.

    There is also evidence that ACDA hosted at least one other meeting on January 21, 2009, while they were still based in the ATR Suite 200 at the L Street address. As exposed in the "Meeting Minutes" from the Parsi v. Diaoleslam evidence, ACDA hosted a meeting for the full CNAPI group. The minutes state that this meeting included a group decision, among "legislative goals for the 111th Congress," to "End the democracy fund as we know it."

    From a financial perspective, ATR's hosting meetings and apparently providing office space ( in not one but two different offices) was a kind of "material support" -- a thing of value. But some people might find providing office space, as ATR did for ACDA, and hosting meetings, as ATR did for CNAPI, to be insignificant connections, because Norquist never publicly joined the CNAPI group. Not only did Norquist never come out publicly himself as a CNAPI signer, even NIAC director Trita Parsi noted in an April 24, 2008 email that Norquist had not publicly "signed on" to the CNAPI effort.

    But Parsi did emphasize that Norquist "offered his support," stating:
    An example of this outreach was demonstrated when Grover Norquist offered his support but did not sign‐on. He exemplifies not just a powerful voice in the Republican Party, but also an important figure that can provide transpartisan legitimacy to our efforts. I think it is critical that we do whatever can be done to get him to sign on, especially since his full involvement would give our efforts a tremendous credibility boost."
    Some may find it merely coincidental that Norquist was providing office space (twice) to ACDA at ATR, and also hosting CNAPI meetings at ATR, and also was identified in an email as a supporter by CNAPI leader and NIAC lobbyist Trita Parsi. Perhaps really to prove Norquist's involvement in ACDA's partnership with CNAPI, we would need to show that he held positions of authority within ACDA -- as an officer or director, for example. And Grover Norquist was never an officer or a director of ACDA.

    But his wife, Samah Norquist, was both.

    According to the now-archived ACDA websites, from 2008 - 2010, Samah Norquist was an ACDA Director and also an ACDA Officer, as Secretary on the Board of Directors. According to emails released as evidence from the Parsi v. Diaoleslam lawsuit, she was also cc'ed on CNAPI and Iran-related lobbying emails starting in 2007.

    Therefore, given this well-documented evidence, a reasonable conclusion suggests that Grover Norquist's ATR -- with his extensive political connections and influence -- had strong connections to ACDA and CNAPI, the Campaign for a New American Policy for Iran, through both his wife's formal position in the governance of ACDA, and through ATR's provision for over three years, from 2007 through 2010, of office and meeting space.

    Consequences

    So why does this matter?

    These strong connections matter because the ACDA and CNAPI did apparently influence representatives in the House and Senate to halt any limitations put on Iran. The emails and meeting minutes of the CNAPI group offer an unusually detailed look at the creation of a coalition that has worked, apparently with some success, to steer the White House away and Congress from confrontation with Iran and lift sanctions against the country. An archive of the CNAPI website shows that it opposed sanctions on Iran and advocated for unconditional talks with the Iranian regime.

    These actions have had serious consequences, as the recent IAEA report on Iran's nuclear capability makes clear.

    Norquist's position supporting ACDA and CNAPI (even if not publicly "signing on") puts the influential tax-pledge activist far outside the mainstream -- not just of American conservatives and Republicans, but of a bipartisan consensus on the threat Iran poses. As recently as September, pollsters Pat Caddell and John McLaughlan found that 63 percent of the bipartisan sample surveyed "identified Iran as the top U.S. threat."

    CNAPI partners were also far outside the mainstream. According to the June 12 2008 "partners" CNAPI webpage, in addition to ACDA they included George Soros'Open Society Policy Center, which paid the salary of a CNAPI staffer; the even more left-wing Institute for Policy Studies; the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), an unindicted co-conspirator in the Holy Land Hamas fundraising scheme; the anti-Israel group J Street; the virulently anti-American and anti-Israel Campaign Against Sanctions and Military Intervention in Iran (CASMII) and many others.

    The American Conservative Defense Alliance also counted among its friends in Congress, some of the most extreme left-wing voices that rally to defend Islamism at home and abroad, such as Reps. Keith Ellison of Minnesota and Barbara Lee of California.

    The CNAPI organizations at that January 21, 2009 meeting, hosted at Norquist's ATR headquarters, made it a priority to stop American funding for Iranian resistance groups by "end[ing] the 'Democracy Fund' as we know it." By working to undercut pro-Western Green movement and democracy advocates, the "Iran Lobby" -- including CNAPI -- defended an Iranian regime that promoted "Death to America" in government-sponsored rallies and called for "a world without America." In so doing, the Lobby advocated a dangerous expression of American foreign policy that denied Iran's enmity toward the US and its allies since the revolution that brought the Islamist clerical regime to power more than 30 years ago.

    Today, as a result of ACDA and CNAPI's incessant calls and Soros-funded lobbying for unconditional "engagement" with Iran, the "Iran Lobby" may have achieved their aim: limiting US policy options to acknowledge and counter what the majority of the American people rightly see as a clear and imminent threat from Iran to U.S. national security interests. Unfortunately for the United States and its allies, the inaction the "Iran Lobby" advocated is resulting in an Iran that, according to the IAEA, is closer than ever to threatening the world with nuclear weapons.

    As Washington's Iran policy is in shambles -- and the Obama administration seems more concerned with limiting Israeli self-defense than halting the Iranian nuclear program -- Americans should not forget the inside the Beltway pressure from the "Iran Lobby" advocates, including the support for their activities from Republican activist Grover Norquist.

    In light of Iran's increased belligerence towards Israel and the West, and the global understanding that the regime suppresses democratic revolution by shooting its critics in the streets, concerned citizens at both ends of the political spectrum should ask Grover Norquist why he has not repudiated his earlier support for ACDA and ACDA's partnerships.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    But I want definitions for words like "crypto-Islamist" and crap like that.

    The Left throws around the phrase "neo-conservative" as an INSULT, and Rove throws it around like some "known phrase" at Herman Cain (again, I interpert this as an INSULT to Cain's intelligence).

    When I questioned (and still DO) the use of that phrase over on Anomalies a few years ago I was excoriated by some left leaning shitwads presumably because I wasn't "smart enough to know what the hell I was talking about".

    In truth, I'd never heard the phrase before someone used it against me to begin with, and secondly, I'm not a "new" anything. I'm a Conservative, just like Ronald Reagan.... he wasn't a "neo" nothing. I met him personally, had several conversations with him, listened to his speeches in PERSON many times, and even announced him on stage at least once in my life. So, from that point of view, I think I can safetly say I had a pretty good understanding of where he stood on things, and I damned sure know where I stand.

    So - this is my problem with seeing such phrases as "crypto-Islamist" or "neo-conservative" - they mean nothing in real language.
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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Aircraft Carrier CVN-77 Parks Next Door To Syria Just As US Urges Americans To Leave Country "Immediately"

    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/23/2011 13:36 -0500


    Yesterday we reported that the Arab League (with European and US support) are preparing to institute a no fly zone over Syria. Today, we get an escalation which confirms we may be on the edge. Just out from CBS:

    "The U.S. Embassy in Damascus urged its citizens in Syria to depart "immediately," and Turkey's foreign ministry urged Turkish pilgrims to opt for flights to return home from Saudi Arabia to avoid traveling through Syria.
    " But probably the most damning evidence that the "western world" is about to do the unthinkable and invade Syria, and in the process force Iran to retaliate, is the weekly naval update from Stratfor, which always has some very interesting if always controversial view on geopolitics, where we find that for the first time in many months, CVN 77 George H.W. Bush has left its traditional theater of operations just off the Straits of Hormuz, a critical choke point, where it traditionally accompanies the Stennis, and has parked... right next to Syria. From Stratfor:



    And from CBS:

    "The U.S. Embassy continues to urge U.S. citizens in Syria to depart immediately while commercial transportation is available," said a statement issued to the American community in Syria Wednesday and posted on the Embassy's website. "The number of airlines serving Syria has decreased significantly since the summer, while many of those airlines remaining have reduced their number of flights."

    The warning followed an announcement in Washington this week that Ambassador Robert Ford would not return to Syria this month as planned, indicating concerns over his safety.

    The Obama administration quietly pulled Ford out of Syria last month, citing credible personal threats against him.

    The Turkish foreign ministry on Wednesday urged Turkish pilgrims to opt for flights to return home from Saudi Arabia and avoid traveling through Syria for security reasons.

    The warning came two days after Syrian soldiers opened fire on at least two buses carrying Turkish citizens, witnesses and officials said, apparent retaliation for Turkey's criticism of Assad. The Turks were returning from Saudi Arabia after performing the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
    Uh...Got Brent?

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    I posted similar in the Syria thread.
    Libertatem Prius!


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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Russia Retaliates Against US: Puts Radar Station On Combat Alert, Prepares To Take Out European Missile Defense Systems

    Submitted by Tyler Durden on 11/23/2011 22:50 -0500


    Earlier today, we presented the latest developments in the escalating possibility of an imminent air (and potentially land) campaign targeting Syria by the "western world", a move that would infuriate not only Iran, but also Russia and China, both of which have made it clear they would not sit idly by and let such an "aggression" stand. Now it is Russia's turn to retaliate.

    Cutting straight to the chase - in a nationally televized appearance by Russian president Dmitry Medvedev: in response to what the Russian believes is an active incursion and a potential act of eventual aggression on behalf of NATO countries in Eastern Europe (and hence the US), he he said the following (7 minutes in):

    "First, I am instructing the Defense Ministry to immediately put the missile attack early warning radar station in Kaliningrad on combat alert.

    Second, protective cover of Russia's strategic nuclear weapons, will be reinforced as a priority measure under the programme to develop out air and space defenses
    .

    Third, the new strategic ballistic missiles commissioned by the Strategic Missile Forces and the Navy will be equipped with advanced missile defense penetration systems and new highly-effective warheads
    .

    Fourth, I have instructed the Armed Forces to draw up measures for disabling missile defense system data and guidance systems if need be
    ...

    Fifth, if the above measures prove insufficient, the Russian Federation will deploy modern offensive weapon systems in the west and south of the country, ensuring our ability to take out any part of the US missile defense system, in Europe. One step in this process will be to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad Region.

    Other measures to counter the European missile defense system will be drawn up and implemented as necessary. Furthermore, if the situation continues to develop not in Russia's favor we reserve the right to discontinue further disarmament and arms control measures. Besides, given the intrinsic link between strategic offensive and defensive arms, conditions for our withdrawal from the New START Treaty could also arise." That said, he concludes that Russia is still open to dialog.

    However, if Obama merely intends to bomb any nation at will, we are very much concerned that everything Medvedev has just threatened will be enacted. And exponentially more so when Putin comes back in charge. One thing is certain - Russia is not North Korea, and taking this speech for more empty jawboning is probably not the wisest option.

    Full must watch address to the public: for English closed captioning hit the CC button.



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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Well, that video was certainly interesting. Sounds like Cold War 2 is officially back on.

    It also sounds like a lot of what he's saying they are going to do (i.e. deploy new weapons, deploy Iskanders in Kaliningrad, etc.) are nothing new. It is stuff that they have been doing all the while they are denying they are doing it. They have just decided to come out in the open with them now. The only thing I noted that falls outside of that is putting their EW sites on high alert.

    I would also add that he seemed remarkably calm when delivering that address. No excessive blinking or nervous movement.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War

    Russia draws red line around Syria

    Tony Badran



    Syria’s foreign minister, Walid Mouallem, did not deny that Russia may be sending warships to Syrian waters, though the Assad regime is using the story to underline its alliance with Moscow. (AFP photo)


    A curious news item has been circulating over the last week claiming that Russian warships have been sent to Syrian territorial waters. The Kremlin has so far refrained from either confirming or denying the story, leaving the door open for speculation. While the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad eagerly wishes to project the perception that it is under a Russian military umbrella, Moscow’s calculation is perhaps best understood in the broader context of its dispute with the US and NATO over what it views as an encroachment on its traditional zones of influence, well beyond Syria.

    The report of the Russian flotilla supposedly entering Syrian waters was intended to give the impression that Russia was flexing its military muscle on Syria’s behalf. As one Syrian official boasted on Tuesday, “Russia is our political shield.”

    The story first appeared last Friday in an obscure Lebanese rag belonging to the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. The report delivered the regime’s intended message, spinning the alleged Russian move as a stern message from Moscow that Syria was “a red line,” and that Russia would not “remain a spectator” should that line be crossed.

    Interestingly, however, the Russian media were tellingly unable to substantiate the claim, instead relaying the statement by Navy Press Secretary Igor Dygalo that the Defense Ministry “do[es] not comment on these reports.”

    There is little reason to suspect that the story originated from anywhere other than the Syrian regime. A Syrian news site eventually reported that “unnamed Syrian sources” had told the German Press Agency that Moscow “leaked the story of dispatching six warships to the Syrian coast as a form of tangible solidarity,” in response to the Arab League’s recent call to send observers to Syria, which the latter found unacceptable. At one level, therefore, the story was intended as a rebuff to the notion that the league’s resolution was the launching pad for an international intervention in Syria.

    Delivering this response to the Arab League was the main purpose behind Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Mouallem’s press conference on Sunday. When asked about the report, Mouallem did not confirm it, and referred only to the naval maintenance facility in the port of Tartous and the relevant 1980 treaty between Syria and the former Soviet Union governing its use.

    The reference to the Tartous facility was not accidental, and was meant to exploit a primary Russian interest in Syria at a time when tensions between Russia and the US and NATO continue to heat up.

    Moscow’s sensitivity when it comes to access to warm waters is well known. It is matched only by its chronic defensiveness against perceived encirclement by NATO and Western impingement on the spheres of influence of the former USSR.

    All these insecurities came to the fore in the midst of the Syrian crisis in June, when the US sent a Navy cruiser equipped with a ballistic missile defense system to take part in naval exercises with Ukraine in the Black Sea—home of Russia’s only warm-water naval base.

    Then, Turkey gradually began moving away from its previous non-aligned position and more in line with US interests vis-à-vis Syria and Iran, agreeing to host NATO’s early-warning radar system over Russian objections. Now that Ankara has effectively adopted Washington’s objective of regime change in Syria, Russia’s concerns have intensified.

    Turkey already controls the Bosphorus Strait—Russia’s passageway to the Mediterranean. If there was to be regime change in Syria, Russia calculates that Turkey’s sway there is likely to be significant, potentially making its access to the Tartous facility subject to the influence of a NATO member state. Naturally, the Syrian regime’s interest lies in amplifying these fears.

    Of course, Moscow will not go to war for Assad, and NATO is not shying away from intervention in Syria out of fear of Russian warships. However, for the Kremlin, Syria is another arena where it can voice its displeasure with the perception that the US and NATO can simply ignore Russia. In a sense, the process is comparable to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev’s threats yesterday to deploy “advanced offensive weapon systems” on the borders with Europe if missile defense talks with Washington result in failure.

    In similar fashion, Moscow is looking to negotiate over Syria’s future and wants to ensure that its interests are acknowledged and secured. Russia’s attempts to position itself as a sponsor of a dialogue between Assad and his opponents, and its meetings with the Syrian opposition groups, could be read as part of this negotiation effort.

    However, aside from its veto power at the Security Council, Russia’s hand is relatively weak. Even if the warships report were real, it’s unclear how much of an impact it would have on the dynamics on the ground. With a population determined to rid itself of the Assad family, such a move risks being meaningless, if not potentially counterproductive. Perhaps that is why Moscow declined to confirm the Syrians’ story.

    For Assad, however, desperate times call for desperate measures. Assad is eager to exaggerate his significance to Russia and to try and leverage its disputes with NATO in his war against the Syrian uprising. The information operation involving the Russian warships is part of this war, which Assad is losing.

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    Default Re: Prepare Now for the Coming Middle East War


    Russian navy nears Cyprus drilling zone


    Commentators say that Russia is determined to send the message that they have invested interests in the region and will secure them.



    The “Admiral Kuznetsov” class aircraft carrier is currently off the coast of Malta and heading for eastern Mediterranean from their base in the Barents Sea.

    Informed sources have said that the Russian navy and Israeli military will hold joint exercises next week close to Cyprus Exclusive Economic Zone.

    The exercises are slated to begin on the 28th November and last a week.

    Commentators say that Russia is determined to send the message that they have invested interests in the region and will secure them.

    It is understood that the aircraft carrier is carrying 24-fixed wing planes and a number of helicopters. It has also been reported in the press that the Russian navy may request to use port facilities at Limassol.

    The radio report also claimed that three Russian destroyers are currently anchored off the Syrian coast. Russia's naval supply and maintenance site near Syria's Mediterranean port of Tartus will be modernized to accommodate heavy warships after 2012, the Russian Navy chief said earlier this week.

    "Tartus will be developed as a naval base. The first stage of development and modernization will be completed in 2012," Adm. Vladimir Vysotsky said, adding it could then serve as a base for guided-missile cruisers and even aircraft carriers.

    The Soviet-era facility is operated under a 1971 agreement by Russian personnel.

    Russian relations with Cyprus are at their best in many years. Last month, the Russian Ambassador to Cyprus Vyacheslav Shumskiy said that Moscow fully supports the sovereign right of Cyprus to exploit its natural resources.

    “Our position is absolutely clear , and we were among the first countries to comment on that, and we totally support the sovereign right of the Cypriot people for exploitation of natural resources , this is totally in accordance with the international law and with the EU regulations, so there is no doubt about that”, he noted.

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