Puppet Masters

Eye 1

Unraveling the mysterious origins and benefactors of Boko Haram

Notice the weapons, equipment and uniforms, Boko Haram is obviously well-funded.
The most entertaining mysteries are the ones with compelling protagonists, enigmatic and often surreptitious antagonists, and surprising or shocking conclusions. Indeed, without these essential elements, one is unlikely to read the story at all. However, when it comes to politics and geopolitics, somehow our mass media storytellers - the scores of journalists, military and counter-terrorism 'experts,' and establishment mouthpieces - fail to even point us in the right direction. Not only do they not follow the threads of the story, they prefer to pretend they simply aren't there.

And so it is with the great 'mystery' of Boko Haram, a group that in just a few years has become one of the most recognizable terrorist entities in the world. Having carried out heinous massacres of men, women, and children, abducted thousands of innocents, and destroyed whole towns, Boko Haram now symbolizes just that perfect blend of barbarism, religious and ideological fundamentalism, and non-white skin, which come together to cast them, in the eyes of westerners especially, as the manifestation of evil - the devil incarnate that can only be destroyed by the forces of righteousness. You know, the 'good guys.'

But what happens when there are no 'good guys' to be found? What happens when you follow the story only to find the most cynical of intentions from every player involved? Such is the case with this Boko Haram story, and indeed the regional politics and geopolitics of West Africa as a whole.

In trying to unravel the labyrinthine web of political, economic, and strategic threads connecting a number of significant actors, it becomes clear that no analysis of Boko Haram is worth reading unless it approaches the issue from three distinctly different, yet intimately connected, angles.

First, there is Nigeria's domestic politics, and the issue of Boko Haram and the perception of the government and opposition's responsibility for the chaos it has wreaked. With elections scheduled to take place in February, Boko Haram and national security have, quite understandably, become dominant issues in the public mind. The mutual finger-pointing and accusations provide an important backdrop for understanding how Boko Haram fits both into the public discourse, and into the strategies of political networks behind the scenes in Nigeria, and the region more broadly.
Light Saber

Putin's unexpected victory: Europe furious that Greece is now a Russian sanctions veto

© Unknown
The Syriza Party of Alexis Tsipras: Challenging the EU's status quo in more ways than one.
Two days ago, Zero Hedge first, and shortly thereafter everyone else, pointed out something stunning: the biggest surprise to emerge so far out of the new anti-Troika/austerity Greek government was not so much its intention to proceed with the first test of "Odious Debt" - this was largely known in advance - but its dramatic pivot away from Germany and Europe, and toward Russia.

As we noted before, not only has Greece already blocked all ongoing privatization processes, a clear snub of Merkel and the Troika which demands the piecemeal blue light special sale of Greece to western buyers as part of the "bailout", but is also looking at plans to reinstate public sector employees and announce increased pensions for those on low incomes: further clear breaches of the Troika's austerity terms.

But the most important message that Tsipras is sending to Europe is that (after meeting the Russian ambassador first upon his election) Greece is now effectively a veto power when it comes to future Russian sanctions!

This was first hinted when the Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias, who arrives in Brussels today to discuss possible additional sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine, said a few days ago that the Greek government disagreed with an EU statement in which President Donald Tusk raised the prospect of "further restrictive measures" on Russia. As Bloomberg observed before, in recent months, Kotzias wrote on Twitter that sanctions against Russia weren't in Greece's interests. He said in a blog that a new foreign policy for Greece should be focused on stopping the ongoing transformation of the EU "into an idiosyncratic empire, under the rule of Germany."

Comment: Though Greece is still largely under the sway of its own Oligarchs and EU-aligned political parties, it will be interesting to see how far Tsipras and the Syriza party can go in throwing off the yoke of austerity policy and the Western imperative to destabilize Russia. It seems that following these two approaches go hand in hand if any country has a strong enough will towards national sovereignty.

See: Greece's Syriza party breaks from EU propaganda line against Russia

Eye 1

Justice? Hundreds of UK child sex offenders spared jail, let off with cautions

© Reuters / Finbarr O'Reilly
Hundreds of sex offenders are being given lenient punishments by British judges despite committing "abhorrent" crimes against children.

According to official figures from the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), hundreds of sex offenders have been let off with cautions, despite the law saying they should face jail sentences of up to 14 years.

According to the MoJ, there were 7,057 cautions handed to sex offenders in the UK since 2009.

The figures come as authorities investigate allegations of historic child abuse during the 1970s and 1980s, including a suspected elite pedophile ring consisting of serving British politicians.

Philip Davies, the Tory MP who disclosed the figures, said sex offenders were not "feeling the full force of the law" adding, "It is completely unacceptable to give cautions for sexual activity with children under the age of 13."

"There are no mitigating factors and no excuses. They should go before a judge," he said.

West seeking to destroy Russia to avert its own destruction


Comment: Update: The following article has been put on the internet as being by Zakharchenko, the leader of the Donetsk Peoples Republic. This is not the case as The Saker found out. It was penned by Eduard Birov.

If one is to speak without geopolitical complexities and nuances, the situation is extremely simple. This is a battle for the continent, for the international system, for one's own taiga. They are desperately attacking us and are trying to take us down quickly. They use all means at their disposal, except for direct military intervention on Russia's territory. They are destroying Russians outside their borders, are raising foreign legions in order to invade the country. The West undertook to destroy us for the simple reason it is trying to avert its own destruction. The main factors are the destruction of the economy and of the political authorities of Russia.

The main factor that might allow them to accomplish this is the decay within Russia, a split within the Russian government, the spreading of hatred among the people. That's the reason for the constant provocations and the divide-and-conquer policies: inter-ethnic animosities, hatred toward the state, toward big capital (specifically the pro-Russian), toward the Orthodox Church, toward its own people and everything around it. All of that is being done to get Russia to destroy itself from within. But that's precisely what is not happening. Everything is breaking apart against the unity of the government which has the support of its people which feels as if it was in a besieged fortress together with its leader. Even capitalists like Usmanov, Vekselberg, and others, who chose the West, moved their assets from offshore accounts back to Russia. Even Shuvalov swore his loyalty to Putin in Davos. To say nothing of ordinary mortals. No matter how much is said about "Putin the billionaire" and the government for sale, in spite of all the problems and the worsening financial situation, the solidarity with the national leader is not only not growing weaker, but is getting stronger. What is more, the people want him to act more firmly and not compromise with the West, no matter what the cost.

Comment: Donetsk is lucky to have a leader like Zakharchenko, who seems to have a good grasp of the big picture, popular support, military ability, and a conscience. The same can't be said for certain other 'leaders' involved in this senseless, murderous conflict. Readers can watch one of Zakharchenko's latest sitreps below:

Better Earth

South Front Ukraine updates: Ukraine 'troops' enter Russia! Russian Popeye behind Mariupol shelling!

south front
The latest South Front news updates from Ukraine:
  • Debaltsevo pocket closing around Ukrainian troops,
  • NATO condemns escalation of the crisis in Ukraine (blame Russia for Kiev's shelling of civilians!),
  • Ukrainian troops enter Russia (fleeing conscription)
  • Mariupol shelling 'confession'
Black Magic

This is why Ukraine's government is losing the war

On January 27th, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense headlined "Militants Continue to Suffer Losses," and reported that four helicopters, and other weapons of the "militants," were destroyed in battle, but no evidence was given to support the assertion.

Just two days prior, the (also pro-Government) Kiev Post had, in fact, bannered "Ukraine Hides Devastating Losses as Russia-Backed Fighters Surge Forward," and reported "Ukraine's worst-kept secret - that the Ukrainian army is drastically understating its casualties." After detailing, there, what seems to be outrageous unconcern by the Government, for the welfare of troops it's sending into battle (even by jamming battlefield-injured soldiers into regular civilian hospitals, which aren't equipped to handle their injuries), this report ends with a doctor saying, "It's bad everywhere. Yes, the soldiers are still standing at their positions ready to fight. But we don't see any help coming for them."

The Ukrainian news agency RIAN headlined on January 26th, "Mobilization in Dnipropetrovsk Almost Drowned," and reported, "In Dnipropetrovsk region [which is run by the U.S. White House's friend, the Ukrainian-Swiss-Israeli billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky, whose longstanding personal mercenary army has, alone, more than 5,000 fighters], thousands of men are hiding from the draft. Enforcement officers recognize that accomplishing their task will be very difficult." More than 2,000 people there who were drafted "did not show up, they evaporated."

Comment: Apparently one of Poroshenko's advisors, Yury Biryukov, posted details on his Facebook page showing how disastrous the latest, fourth mobilization of troops for the Ukrainian army is going: heads of rural councils are refusing to accept summons and warning their residents, conscripts are not turning up or are fleeing Ukraine, or are refusing service on religious grounds. No one wants this war except for the Nazi element in Ukraine and the U.S./NATO puppet masters pulling the strings. Ukrainian troops are being lied to, sent into battle under false pretexts, and then being killed or captured as cannon fodder. Even a dyed-in-the-wool patriot would find that slightly offensive. Is the Ukrainian military command really that stupid? Or just desperate?


Russian banks cancel US contracts after demands to reveal taxpayer information

russian bank
© Sputnik/Ruslan Krivobok
Russian banks have been forced to cancel contracts with their US clients due to the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), law that requires foreign banks to provide information on US citizens' banking activities, a senior Russian official said Wednesday.

The FATCA, which became law in 2010, requires foreign banks to report information on some US clients. If a bank does not comply, it may be subject to a fine. Moscow and Washington were negotiating a FATCA deal acceptable for both sides until March 2014, when the United States suspended the talks over the Ukraine crisis.

"We could not put our national security under risk in this case, this is why a rule was adopted, under which every credit services organization may cancel the contracts with its clients, the US residents, and avoid FATCA regulations this way," Deputy Director of Russia's Federal Financial Monitoring Service Pavel Livadny told journalists.

Comment: The U.S.'s FATCA, ostensibly designed to make more money, seems only to have had the effect of turning the rest of the world against Americans, and making it harder for law-abiding U.S. citizens living abroad to do so. There's a word for this kind of behavior:
  1. Always and inevitably each of us underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.
  2. The probability that a given person is stupid is independent of any other characteristic possessed by that person.
  3. A person is stupid if they cause damage to another person or group of people without experiencing personal gain, or even worse causing damage to themselves in the process.
  4. Non-stupid people always underestimate the harmful potential of stupid people; they constantly forget that at any time anywhere, and in any circumstance, dealing with or associating themselves with stupid individuals invariably constitutes a costly error.
  5. A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person there is.
(from Carlo Maria Cipolla's "Basic Laws of Human Stupidity")

See also: FATCA what? How to fight the war on tax evasion, one American at a time


Right-wing party leader: No more Muslim immigrants to Germany!

© Reuters / Hannibal
A German right-wing politician said in an interview his country should halt immigration for Muslims and others who "are completely foreign to our cultural tradition." He says this is necessary to stop the creation of "parallel societies in Germany."

"We should no longer support immigration by people who are totally foreign to our cultural tradition, in fact we ought to block it," Alexander Gauland, a senior official with the Alternative for Germany (AFD) party, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper.

"There are cultural traditions that have a very hard time integrating here ... those cultural traditions are at home in the Middle East," Gauland, 73, said.

Comment: Just a little bit of history repeating?


Possible shake up between Putin and Medvedev?

Putin regards Medvedev as "too soft with Barack Obama and the European leaders," writes Panorama's Moscow correspondent Cristina Giuliano.

She quotes, among others, Russian political scientists Alena Ledeneva of University College London: "Medvedev might even resign, maybe not immediately, but as soon as the economic situation will stabilize a little".

Medvedev originally fell out of favor with the Siloviki - Kremlin's strong men, whom The Saker refers to as "Eurasian sovereignists" - during the 2011 Libya crisis, when Western intervention led to the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi.

Comment: Russia's Central Bank should be more important for Putin to reconfigure away from the IMF. A better prime minister though would certainly help Putin and Russia.

Eye 1

Former Australian prime minister warns that U.S. is "a dangerous ally"

Malcolm Fraser, former primer minister of Australia
In his new book titled Dangerous Allies, Malcolm Fraser, the former prime minister of Australia worries that Canberra's dependence on the United States will eventually bring the nation into a direct conflict with China. His words echo those of Georgetown University professor Amitai Etzioni in and article he wrote for the Diplomat on Jan. 20.

Australia has always been strategically dependent on other great powers since gaining independence in 1901. It relied on the United Kingdom until World War II and then transferred that dependence to the United States afterwards. The relationship grew stronger with the signing of the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty in 1951. Fraser said that the treaty does not require the US to defend Australia, only needing to "consult" it in case of an attack.

In Fraser's book, he describes how Australia's blind faith in the UK before World War II left the country unprepared for war. He then goes on to say that currently many feel more vulnerable because of the country's dependence on the United States. What Fraser and many Australian leaders fears most is that the United States will get Australia involved in a conflict not of its own making. "Australia effectively ceded to America the ability to decide when Australia goes to war," said Fraser.

Fraser labelled the United States a "dangerous ally" as Australia has become progressively more enmeshed in American strategic and military affairs since the end of Cold War.

Comment: Fraser is right. The U.S. will use Australia in whatever way it can in order further increase its hegemonic world domination, and it does not care if it brings blowback to Australia, from China or anywhere else. To the elites in power in the U.S., the ends always justify the means.