Archive for July, 2014

IRAN OPPOSITION COMPARES ITS STRUGGLE TO THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION

July 31, 2014

FoxNews on July 4, 2014, published an article by Eric Shawn reporting that the leader of the Iranian opposition likens its goal to overthrow the regime in Tehran to the war for American independence from Britain…Excerpts below:

“I am confident that the Iranian resistance, which seeks the proven values of advanced societies, will reach its goal of a free, prosperous, democratic, just and non-nuclear Iran,” declared Maryam Rajavi, the head of the National Council of Resistance of Iran, in an exclusive Fox News interview.

“The experience is out there, including in the history of the United States, such as George Washington and the people of America who decided to stand up to colonialism to gain independence”, she says

“These are all historical experiences and I am, therefore, confident. My experience and that of the Iranian people tell us that when a people, a nation, decides to fight and pay the price for the rights it deserves, such as democracy, freedom and equality, when it decides to fight for these and pay the price, for values which shine in history of all human societies and in the progress of human society, it will certainly achieve it.”

Rajavi, based outside of Paris, is the leader of the largest Iranian resistance group that opposes the current Tehran regime. She is calling for regime change, free, democratic elections, and a non-nuclear Iran. The group held a massive hours-long rally in the beginning of July, in which a variety of speakers, including many prominent former U.S. government officials, also called for a democratic Iran and tougher restrictions on Tehran in advance of the looming July 20 nuclear agreement deadline.

It was Rajavi’s group that first exposed the extent of Tehran’s clandestine nuclear program back in 2002.

The Iranian government has branded the Council as a” terrorist group,” a “cult,” and has claimed that its allegations regarding its nuclear program have been fabricated.

In her Fox News interview, Rajavi rejected the Iranian government’s criticism of her group, calling it “ludicrous.”

“My call to the Iranian people has always been not to surrender to the religious dictatorship,” she declares.

“We have an expression in Farsi that says, ‘a viper never gives birth to a dove.’ No moderate will emerge from the mullahs and the clerical dictatorship. The Iranian resistance has said this repeatedly over the past 25 years, and it has been proven correct every time.”

Eric Shawn is a New York-based anchor and senior correspondent for FOX News Channel (FNC).

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INTELLIGENCE EXPERT: PUTIN USING SOVIET TACTICS TO CONFUSE US

July 30, 2014

FoxNews on July 29, 2014, reported that Jack Devine, the president of the Arkin Group, a risk consulting group said the Russian President Vladimir Putin does a “good job” confusing the West, as evidenced most recently by the leader’s denial that his country is firing rockets into Ukraine,… Excerpts below:

Fox News National Security Analyst KT McFarland spoke to Jack Devine about U.S. strategy against Russia…

He says so far Putin’s regional strategy is working in Russia’s favor.

“Plausible denial does not mean credible denial, so he’s doing all the things that could have been anticipated. He is using agents of influence, using psychological warfare, and he is providing military support and denying it,” Devine told FoxNews.com.

Devine sees Putin’s playbook similar to how the Soviet Union dealt with crises. “If you look back in the ’50s, ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s, it was pretty much the same approach.”

“I’m advocating not only do we use diplomacy, we use covert action, we make sure we are using agents of influence and that we provide the support,” said Devine. “I agree no troops on the ground, but he [Putin] is really playing a hardball kind of game and we should match that.”

There are concerns that supporting Ukraine’s military is a risk, with possible Russian informants embedded with the Ukrainians. Devine dismissed this.

“The best way to know what is going on and [to] deal with things is to get in there and do it covertly.”

While the U.S. is hoping to garner European support to pressure Russia, Devine says, “by and large we are going to have to carry the burden of covert action as we always have.”

He warns that the possibility of further sanctions won’t change Putin’s position.

“I think he is sticking to his game plan — he doesn’t want to take the whole Ukraine; he knows that is not within his grasp because otherwise you’re going to have an insurgency of a different type.”

ISRAEL INTENSIFIES GAZA ATTACKS AFTER NETANYAHU WARNING

July 29, 2014

BBC News on July 29, 2014, reported that Gaza has seen one of its heaviest nights of bombardment in three weeks, after Israel’s prime minister warned of a long conflict ahead. Excerpts below:

Gaza’s only power plant was damaged as Israel carried out 60 air strikes, also targeting sites associated with Hamas, the group which controls Gaza.

At least 60 Palestinians were killed, according to local health officials.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would continue to act until it had achieved its aims.

In a televised address, he stressed the need to destroy tunnels dug under the Gaza-Israel border, to prevent militants infiltrating Israel.

Palestinian officials say 1,115 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed in the fighting since 8 July while Israel has lost 53 soldiers and three civilians – two Israelis and a Thai worker.

Israeli forces struck by air, sea and land, lighting up the night sky with flare bursts and leaving long plumes of smoke trailing over Gaza City in the morning.

Shells hit a fuel tank supplying the strip’s only power station and forced it to shut down, putting already restricted supplies to the city and other areas in jeopardy.

Fifty-five houses were destroyed in the bombing, with people buried under rubble in at least three of them, Palestinian security sources told the BBC.

The unoccupied house of former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was destroyed.

Nine other buildings were targeted, and three mosques and four factories were also destroyed.

As well as Hamas TV and radio stations, government buildings, including the finance ministry and a compound belonging to the interior ministry, were attacked.

Gaza’s port was also destroyed, Palestinian security sources told the BBC, and two schools and a kindergarten were on fire after being hit.

The military wing of Hamas said it had fired 14 rockets during the night.

Five Israeli soldiers were killed on July 28 when militants infiltrated the border, while a mortar bomb killed four earlier and a tenth died in a clash in southern Gaza, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said.

In his address on the night of July 28, Mr Netanyahu said Gaza had to be demilitarised in order to protect Israel

TELEGRAPH, LONDON: HAMAS TURNS TO NORTH KOREA ON TUNNEL BUILDING

July 28, 2014

NewsMax on July 27, 2014, reported that terrorists in Palestine are hammering out a new arms deal with communist North Korea to obtain the missiles and communication equipment the militants need to keep up their offensive against Israel, a British newspaper reports, and Hamas has already made an initial cash down payment to set the deal. Excerpts below:

In addition, reports The Telegraph, Israeli military commanders believe North Korean experts gave Hamas advice on building tunnels in Gaza that have allowed fighters to move their weapons undetected.

Military experts believe North Korea has had a series of invasion tunnels for years to allow it to secretly invade South Korea, reports The New York Times.

Searchers have found only four tunnels, all between 1974 and 1990 and located near the border. No more have been found, even with the South Korean military conducting thousands of drilling exercises.

Nonetheless, Israeli commanders believe Hamas has used North Korea’s expertise to improve their own tunnel network from Gaza, reports The Telegraph.

An unnamed Western security source told The Telegraph that the pending deal is being brokered by a Lebanese-based trading company with close ties to the Palestinian militants.

“Hamas is looking for ways to replenish its stocks of missiles because of the large numbers it has fired at Israel in recent weeks,” the security official told The Telegraph. “North Korea is an obvious place to seek supplies because Pyongyang already has close ties with a number of militant Islamist groups in the Middle East.”

Hamas, like other Islamist terror groups, long ago forged close links with North Korea, which supports groups opposed to Western involvement in the Middle East. Their cooperation was confirmed back in 2009, when 35 tons of arms heading to Hamas was seized in Bangkok after a cargo plane made an emergency landing, reported The Guardian after the shipment was stopped.

Also in 2009, the United Arab Emirates seized a ship believed to be carrying North Korean weapons to Iran, in what was believed to be first case of disguised cargo confiscated under tightened U.N. sanctions against the Asian country, CNN reported at the time.

According to Israeli military intelligence, Hamas is believed to have about 10,000 rockets and mortars that include long-range rockets that can reach Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, and Haifa.

Hamas’ basic weapon is the Iranian Qassam rocket, which has a range of less than 10 miles. However, it had longer-ranging Katyushas that can be fired up to 30 miles away.

However, there are also M-75 and Syrian M0302 missiles, giving Hamas firing power of up to 100 miles and packing a stronger impact.

If North Korea is helping Hamas build tunnels, that doesn’t only bring a tactical advantage for the militants, but can also play into psychological fears, said Gerard DeGroot, a professor of history at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, in an opinion piece for The Washington Post on Friday.

“If a target is disciplined and well fortified, like Israel, attackers have difficulty traversing the battlefield to engage it,” wrote DeGroot. “By providing concealment up to the moment of engagement, tunnels are a labor-intensive but cheap alternative.”

But tunnels depend on secrecy and security, and if their exits are discovered, they could result in a massacre for the troops in them, DeGroot said.

“An enemy that is underground and invisible carries a multiplier effect that corrodes morale — the threat is not so much what a few tunnel soldiers could do but rather that they might emerge anywhere, at any time,” said DeGroot. “Thus, the tunnel is the perfect conduit for the delivery of terror.

UKRAINE LAUNCHES OFFENSIVE TO RETAKE DONETSK

July 27, 2014

FoxNews on July 26, 2014, published an AP report on Ukrainian officials saying their forces advanced to the outskirts of a key town north of Donetsk on July 26 in hopes of retaking the stronghold held for months by pro-Russia rebels. Excerpts below:

The move comes as Ukrainian forces appear to have gained some momentum recently by retaking control of territory from the rebels. But Russia also appears to becoming more involved in the fighting, with the U.S. and Ukraine accusing Moscow of moving heavily artillery across the border to the rebels.

Ukrainian national security spokesman Andriy Lysenko said Ukrainian forces were outside Horlikva, just north of the regional center of Donetsk.

“The direct route is open for the forces of the anti-terrorist operation to the capital of the Donbass region — the city of Donetsk,” Lysenko said.

Donetsk, a city of about 1 million people, is a major center of the separatist uprising that has battled Ukrainian government forces for five months.

About 35 miles to the east, the site where Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down was still eerily empty except for the parents of one of the 298 people killed in the July 17 accident. Nine days after the accident, a full-fledged investigation still hasn’t started due to the security risks posed by the nearby fighting.

But Jerzy Dyczynski and Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski, parents of 25-year-old Fatima, crossed territory held by pro-Russian rebels to reach the wreckage-strewn fields outside the village of Hrabove to visit the place of their daughter’s death.

U.S. and Ukrainian officials say the plane was shot down by a missile from rebel territory, most likely by mistake.

Two more cargo planes also flew 38 more coffins carrying victims to a forensic center in the Netherlands for identification and investigation.

The planes took off Saturday from Kharkiv, a government-controlled city where the bodies have been brought from the crash site in territory held by pro-Russian separatists fighting the Ukrainian government.

Officials said the flights took the last of the 227 coffins containing victims that have been brought to Kharkiv by refrigerated train.

The disaster sparked hopes in the West that Russia would scale back its involvement in the uprising in Ukraine’s east, but nine days later the opposite seems to be the case.

Russia launched artillery attacks from its soil into Ukraine on July 25, while the United States said it has seen powerful rocket systems moving closer to the Ukraine border.

EU SANCTIONS HIT RUSSIAN INTELLIGENCE OFFICIALS, REBEL LEADERS

July 26, 2014

Radio Free Europe on July 25, 2014, reported that the European Union has added to its sanctions list 15 individuals and 18 entities over their role in the Ukraine crisis. Excerpts below:

Among the individuals subjected to travel bans and asset freezes are Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) director Mikhail Fradkov, Federal Security Service (FSB) director Aleksandr Bortnikov as well as Pavel Gubarev, self-described leader of the so-called Republic of Donetsk.

Sergei Beseda, who is responsible for FSB’s intelligence operations and international activity, is included as well.

Kadyrov has expressed support for the annexation of Crimea and has said that he was ready to send 74,000 volunteers to eastern Ukraine.

The governor of Russia’s Krasnodar region, Aleksandr Tkachyov has, like Kadyrov, been added for his support for the current Crimean authorities.

Three more members of Russia’s Security Council are on the list — Nikolai Patrushev, Rashid Nurgaliev and Boris Gryzlov — as well as Mikhail Degtyarev from the State Duma.

Six separatists from eastern Ukraine have also been blacklisted.

Pavel Gubarev, one of the so-called leaders of the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk is on the list as is his wife Ekaterina Gubareva.

They are joined by the defense minister and the first vice prime minister of the self-styled republic, Fedor Berezin and Vladimir Antyufeyev — former “minister of state security” in Moldova’s separatist Transdniester region.

Also on the list are the self-described president of the so-called Republic of Novorossiya, Valery Kaurov and Serhy Zdriliuk — a senior aide of the paramilitary leader Igor Strelkov, who has already been blacklisted by the EU.

The 18 entities consist of nine companies and nine institutions set up by pro-Russian separatists who have proclaimed independence in eastern Ukraine.

Among the institutions slapped with sanctions are the self-proclaimed separatist entities of Luhansk and Donetsk in eastern Ukraine as well as Novorossiya.

Six military separatist groups fighting in eastern Ukraine will also have their assets frozen: the Luhansk guard, the Army of the Southeast, the Donbass People’s militia, the Vostok battalion, Sobol and the International Union of Public Associations ”Great Don Army.”

The nine economic entities on the list are companies from Crimea whose ownership was transferred contrary to Ukrainian law after the region’s annexation by Russia, including the Kerch ferry enterprise and the Kerch commercial seaport, the Sevastopol commercial seaport, the “Nizhnyaya Oreanda” resort, the Azov distillery plant, the Novy Svet sparkling wine factory, the Magarach national institute of wine, agricultural company Massandra and Universal Avia.

The EU list of sanctions now has 87 individuals and 20 entities in Ukraine and Russia. EU ambassadors might decide to expand the numbers further when they meet in Brussels on 28 July.

EU members have shown hesitance to impose penalties impacting Russian gas, which Europe relies on heavily for energy.

EU Council President Herman van Rompuy said in an official letter sent to EU heads of state that the gas exclusion is based on “the need to preserve EU energy security,” according to two sources who read from the letter.

US: RUSSIA FIRING ARTILLERY AT UKRAINE MILITARY TARGETS

July 25, 2014

FoxNews on July 24, 2014, reported that US officials said that Russia is firing artillery from its own territory into Ukraine to hit Ukrainian military sites, pointing to escalating Russian involvement in the deadly conflict. Excerpts below:

“This clearly is a military escalation,” Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said, adding there is no question that Russian military — as opposed to Russia-backed separatists — are firing the shots.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf first made the accusation during a press briefing on July 24. She also claimed Moscow is boosting its military shipments to pro-Russian separatists.

“We have new evidence that the Russians intend to deliver heavier and more powerful multiple rocket launchers to separatist forces in Ukraine and have evidence that Russia is firing artillery from within Russian to attack Ukrainian military positions,” Harf told reporters.

The Pentagon…confirmed her account, and said Russia has been firing artillery for several days now.

The U.S. repeatedly has accused Russia of stoking the Ukraine rebellion and has said it believes separatists shot down the Malaysian plane, killing nearly 300 people, with a Russian provided surface-to-air missile.

Harf said on July 23 the ultimate responsibility for the downing of the plane rests with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Russian government.

Former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden told Megyn Kelly on “The Kelly File” on July 24 that in light of recent developments, “it’s not just about Ukraine now, it’s about what Europe is going to look like for the next era.”

ISRAEL INTENSIFIES GAZA GROUND ASSAULT

July 22, 2014

Washington Times on July 20, 2014, reported that Israeli forces escalated their ground operations in Gaza City… Excerpts below:

The Israeli military reported that 13 soldiers were killed early Sunday, and Palestinian authorities reported that at least 65 Palestinians were killed as air and tank fire pummeled the city for hours. More than 420 Palestinians, as well as at least 20 Israelis, have been killed since fighting began July 8.

July 20 marked the third day of a stepped-up ground offensive from Israel after it has tried to dismantle Hamas rocket launchers and ground tunnels into Israel with airstrikes for the past 10 days.

Much of the fighting took place in Gaza City’s Shijaiyah neighborhood, which Israeli officials have blamed for some 8 percent of the roughly 1,700 rockets fired at Israel since the latest round of fighting began.

Palestinian authorities reported that some 35,000 people were forced to flee from the latest round of fighting, with dozens of homes destroyed.

President Obama spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on July 20 by phone about the ongoing conflict — their second call in the last three days, the White House said.

Mr. Obama reiterated the United States’ condemnation of attacks by Hamas, reaffirmed Israel’s right to defend itself…

Mr. Netanyahu blamed Hamas for all the civilian casualties on both sides and has said the strikes are only targeting Hamas militants.

“They want to pile up as many civilian dead as they can. It’s gruesome,” Mr. Netanyahu said on CNN. “They use telegenically dead Palestinians for their cause. [Their aim is] the more dead, the better.”

Mr. Netanyahu said if the hostilities end and parties agree to a sustainable cease-fire, a discussion can begin on the demilitarization of Gaza.

“Gaza, under all the previous agreements, should have been demilitarized,” he said. “Instead of being demilitarized, it became basically an Iranian-financed and -equipped fortress of terror, with thousands and thousands of rockets and other weapons being smuggled and developed in it. That has to stop. Those tunnels have to be shut down.”

The military wing of Hamas…claimed it captured an Israeli soldier during fighting early on July 20, a claim that was not immediately confirmed by the Israeli military.

But Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, says Israel has the right to do everything in its power to protect its interests, and that there have been comparatively fewer Israeli casualties because of its state-of-the-art Iron Dome defense system.

“But if left up to Hamas, thousands of Israelis would be dead,” Mr. Graham said on “Meet the Press.” “I hope the international community will not find a moral equivalence here. To the Israeli government: Do whatever is necessary to protect your people. Stay as long as you need

SVERIGE BEHÖVER ETT PSYKOLOGISKT FÖRSVAR

July 21, 2014

Svenska Dagbladet, Stockholm, publicerade den 17 juli 2014 en artikel av Jakob Ljungman, vid tankesmedjan Frivärld (författare till rapporten ”Rysslands informationskrig i Litauen”) om bristen av psykologiskt försvar i Sverige. Den senaste tidens händelser i Ukraina har visat att rysk propaganda kan påverka opinionen både lokalt och internationellt. Samtidigt är flera andra forna Sovjetrepubliker under angrepp i form av massiva ryska informationskampanjer. Sverige måste ta hotet på allvar och återupprätta sin psykologiska försvarsförmåga, skrev Ljungman. Utdrag nedan:

När Styrelsen för psykologiskt försvar (SPF) lades ner 2008 övertogs myndighetens uppgifter av den nyinrättade Myndigheten för samhällskydd och beredskap (MSB). Sedan dess har arbetet i praktiken lagts ned. MSB medger själva att man överhuvudtaget inte ägnar sig åt något arbete i syfte att försvara Sverige från utrikes påverkanförsök och regeringen nämner inte heller begreppet ”psykologiskt försvar” i sitt regleringsbrev. Det är en direkt farlig policy i dagens värld.

Ryssland röner stora framgångar med sin psykologiska krigsföring.

Det världen fick se [på Krim] var en minutiöst orkestrerad och planerad militär operation på flera nivåer. Allt från specialstyrkor till massmedier användes för att den ukrainska befolkningen skulle förlora viljan att bjuda motstånd samtidigt som omvärlden lämnade den ensam.

Det var först i efterhand det stod klart hur vilseledda medierna varit. Det rapporterades om utbredda fascistiska element under Euromaidan – vilket motbevisades i presidentvalet när partiet Svoboda fick 1,16 procent. På samma sätt fick vi höra att befolkningen på Krim ville tillhöra Ryssland, när många vallokaler i själva verket var stängda och Krimtartarerna bojkottade valet.

Det är hög tid att öppna ögonen för Rysslands informationskrigsföring. Även i länder där man inte har samma konfliktsituation används information och subversiva metoder i samma syfte som i Ukraina.

Litauen är ett av dessa länder. Under 2013 skedde det flera incidenter där den ryska staten var involverad. Ofta handlar det om situationer med svart propaganda, där man sprider information utan att ange avsändare. Ett exempel var läckandet av ett privat telefonsamtal mellan två litauiska diplomater. Under samtalet delade diplomaterna med sig av personliga åsikter om relationen mellan Armenien och Azerbajdzjan samt premiärminister Algirdas Butkevicius besök i S:t Petersburg. I efterhand avslöjades det att de ryska underrättelsetjänsterna låg bakom läckan.

Under Litauens ordförandeskap i EU under hösten ökade mängden mediala angrepp markant. Främst var det riktat mot Litauens internationella samarbeten som EU och Nato samt det Östliga partnerskapet.

Informationskrigsföring är ett hot om den kombineras med annan militär förmåga. Det är alarmerande att samtidigt som den militära aktiviteten i Östersjöområdet ökar – i september 2013 genomfördes Zapad 13, en av de mest omfattande övningarna sedan kalla kriget – så rapporterar Säpo om ökad rysk underättelseverksamhet i Sverige.

I detta är dock Ryssland inte ensamt. Svenska Dagbladet rapporterar (16/7) att Kina intensifierar sina försök att infiltrera svenska staten och näringslivet. Den stora nyheten denna gång är dataintrånget på två datorer vid UD i mitten av 00-talet. Kina och Ryssland är två länder som på några få år skapat cyberarméer i syfte att kontrollera informationssfären.

Det är inte fred i vår tid. Sverige står idag inför många utmaningar, båda ensamt och tillsammans med våra grannländer. En prioriterad fråga för Sveriges regering, oberoende färg, bör vara att återupprätta det psykologiska försvaret.

Försvarsminister Karin Enström brukar säga att alliansregeringen är den första regering som inte har lagt ned några förband. Det stämmer inte om man tar försvaret mot fientlig information och propaganda, det psykologiska försvaret, på allvar.

GAZA CONFLICT: ISRAEL EXPANDS GROUND OFFENSIVE

July 20, 2014

BBC News on July 20, 2014, reported that the Israeli military said the ground offensive had been expanded to destroy a Hamas tunnel network. Excerpts below:

Israel says it has expanded its ground operation against Hamas, with residents in Gaza reporting the heaviest shelling since the conflict began 13 days ago.

In a statement, Israel’s military said “additional forces” had joined “the effort to combat terror” in Gaza.

Four Palestinians died, including two children and the son of a senior Hamas official, in new air strikes on July 20.

Five Israeli soldiers and two Israeli civilians have died since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu launched the military offensive on 8 July.

Israel says the ground operation is necessary to target a Hamas tunnel network, which it says it could not do only from the air.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman, said the ground offensive was being expanded “to restore security and stability to Israel’s residents and citizens”.

An air strike in the suburb of Shejaiya targeted the house of Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya, killing four people including his son and daughter-in-law, Palestinian doctors said.

Diplomatic efforts to secure a ceasefire involving, among others, Egypt, Qatar, France and the UN, have failed to make any progress.

Hamas rejected an Egypt-brokered ceasefire last week, saying any deal with Israel must include an end to a blockade of Gaza.