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Sat, 18 Jan 2020
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Puppet Masters


Iranian FM Zarif urges Delhi to defy US sanctions & resume buying Iranian oil

Neka oil terminal
© Reuters / Morteza Nikoubazl
A general view of the Neka oil terminal near Tehran, Iran.
Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has called on India to shirk Washington's "maximum pressure" sanctions campaign and continue sourcing its energy from the Islamic Republic, arguing it's in the country's best interest.

While on a four-day visit to India, Zarif insisted Iran could best meet New Delhi's oil needs, assuring that his country would keep politics out of its business dealings and remain a reliable partner.

"For India's economic growth you need more and more energy and energy security, which has been an area of concern," Zarif said at a meeting of the Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) on Thursday. "I can assure you that you can't find an energy partner which is more stable, more reliable than Iran."
We never involved politics in our energy relations. And if we did, we don't have political problems with India. We are the secured source of energy for India.


'Need to strike like US': India's new Chief of Defense Staff on war on terror

General Bipin Rawat has called for a crackdown on terrorism and said the war on terror is going to continue.
India Bipin Rawat
CDS Gen Bipin Rawat has called for a crackdown on terror.
Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat has said the war on terror is nowhere near an end and in order to put an end to it, the roots of terrorism need to be understood.

Speaking at an event in Delhi on Thursday, General Bipin Rawat said, "The war on terror is not ending, it is something which is going to continue, we will have to live with it, until we understand and get to the roots of terrorism."

Comment: Mean while, General Rawat had stirred bornest's nest for suggesting de-radicalization camps for the radicalized youth. Muslim and leftist Opposition leaders accused him of stepping into politics.


'Mendacity & lies': After 19 years US admits to itself that it never could have won war in Afghanistan

US Army in Afghanistan
John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector for Afghanistan Reconstruction, testified before Congress this week that America's Afghan War was plagued by "mendacity and lies." But all honesty in the world couldn't have won it for the US.Lessons learned?

The recent publication by the Washington Post of more than 2,000 pages of "Lessons Learned" interviews, conducted by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), provided much-needed insight into the reality of that country's war in Afghanistan, which is entering its nineteenth year.

The documents paint an unflattering picture of America at war, with the combined military and civilian leadership lacking a viable strategy for victory, leaving successive waves of American service men and women to deploy, fight, and return home, having achieved nothing. The publication of these documents prompted Sopko's congressional testimony, which furthered an already damning indictment of perfidy and corruption.

Comment: See also:

Arrow Up

Senate passes North American trade deal, now on Trump's desk

© Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
The Senate passed a new North American trade deal Thursday, sending one of President Donald Trump's top priorities to his desk for ratification.

The GOP-held chamber approved the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement in an overwhelming 89-10 vote. After Trump signs the three-nation pact, it needs only Canada's approval to take effect.

The Senate rushed to pass the agreement before the expected start of the president's impeachment trial next week. The House delivered articles of impeachment to the upper chamber on Wednesday, and the Senate could take weeks to decide whether to convict Trump and remove him from office.

USMCA will head to the president more than 14 months after the North American nations agreed to the deal. The Trump administration worked with Democrats to resolve concerns about enforcement of labor and environmental standardschanges that led most but not all of the party's lawmakers to support the agreement.

Arrow Down

US Supreme court rejects seizure of $1.7B in Iranian assets

© File photo
US Supreme Court, Washington, D.C.
A US court's ruling to seize Iranian assets worth about $1.7 billion outside the United States has been thrown out for now.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit had ruled that the families of US troops killed in 1983 bombing of the US Marine Corp barracks in Lebanon get access to Iranian funds in Luxembourg.

But the US Supreme Court on Monday rejected the ruling and sent the case back to the lower court so that it could issue a new decision based on a law signed by President Donald Trump which allows families to access Iranian assets.

In 2016, the US Supreme Court allowed the families to claim "compensation" from Iran's assets, but the Central Bank of Iran contented that the funds were held in Luxembourg and thus could not be seized.

Last March, a Luxembourg court refused to reinforce a US ruling that would have helped families of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks claim Iranian assets held by a clearing house in the tiny European country. The court ruled that there were no grounds in international law to uphold in Luxembourg a 2012 US court decision to strip Iran of sovereign immunity.


US, Iraqi military resume joint operations, ignore parliament's call to expel US troops

© US Army
The Pentagon
The United States military has resumed operations with coalition forces in Iraq, despite the nation's parliament voting to expel American soldiers from the region just 10 days ago, a senior U.S. defense official told Fox News.

Tensions flared between Iraq and the U.S. after President Trump ordered a deadly drone strike against Iranian Gen. Qassam Soleiman earlier this month, while he was at Baghdad International Airport. Iraq claimed its sovereignty had been violated and took swift action in calling for all U.S. armed forces to leave the country,

Two American military officials spoke to The New York Times on condition of anonymity and confirmed that joint operations had been restarted, in an effort to stifle any momentum gained by the Islamic state during the recent upheaval.

It has yet to be confirmed if the Iraqi government was privy to the U.S. decision to resume operations or if it was done unilaterally.


Roscosmos engineers to develop a jamming mechanism to blind foreign spy satellites over Russia

Russian array
© Global Look Press/Haef/CHROMORANGE
Engineers at the Russian Space Agency Roscosmos have developed a plan to block foreign orbital spy satellites from operating in the skies above Russian territory, in what could mark a new era of counterintelligence.

The engineers at the Russian Space Systems Corporation, a subsidiary of Roscosmos, propose establishing a database of all known foreign orbital spy satellites to best configure an array of ground-based jamming devices.

Once this database is compiled, the agency could then decide the best location and composition for a proposed array of ground-based radio-electronic stations which suppress and prevent data transmission from optical, infrared and radar satellites.

This method reportedly only works when spy satellites are above foreign territory, and not within line-of-sight of their respective home nations. The non-invasive jamming would effectively render foreign spy satellites useless when flying above Russian territory.

Star of David

Wikileaks Stratfor email: Israel behind blast that killed 36 IRGC troops at Iranian missile base in 2011

Comment: This interests us today because it's the same location from which missiles were fired at Ukraine Airlines Flight 752 last week - Shahid Moddares missile base, near the village of Bidkaneh, west of Tehran.

Then too, the Iranians insisted the incident was 'an accident'...

IRGC base Bidganeh Iran
© AP
In this image taken from amateur video, smokes rises from an explosion at a Revolutionary Guard ammunition depot outside Bidganeh village, west of Tehran, last November
Israeli agents were responsible for a devastating blast last November that damaged an important Iranian military facility, according to an email written by the head of a leading private American intelligence company that was revealed Wednesday on Wikileaks.

Claiming to have spoken to multiple "good" Israeli sources, the CEO and founder of Texas-based intelligence company Stratfor, George Friedman, told his colleagues that he believes Israeli operatives were behind the explosion at a base of Revolutionary Guards on November 12. The blast killed more than 15 soldiers, among them at least one general.

Comment: In subsequent days, that death toll more than doubled to 36. And among the dead was General Hasan Moghaddam, described by the IRGC as "a key figure in Iran's missile programme."

General Hasan Moghaddam

"Everything I'm hearing from Israel is that they did it," Friedman wrote in an e-mail on November 15. While it isn't clear whether the explosion, which took place about 40 kilometers from Tehran, was caused by a special military operation or submarine-launched cruise missile, his Israeli contacts claim they were responsible for it, Friedman wrote.

Comment: WhatEVER it takes...

Was Iranian Missile Operator Tricked Into Shooting Down The Ukrainian Airlines Plane Over Tehran?


Russia's Big Gamble in Libya

putin erdogan turkstream
First, the background. When the United States abandoned the Iran agreement, that left Turkey's oil imports adrift due to newly imposed US Treasury sanctions on Iranian oil exports. By December 2018, Turkey was forced to look elsewhere for its oil imports, with Libya being the most logical choice by price and proximity, despite the violence there. Misrata rebels allied with Libya Dawn in charge of Libya's largest free trade port, arranged oil exports from Zawiya and Sirte to Italy* and Turkey, at favorable prices.

Recall that Tripolitania (west) and Cyrenaica (east) are at war, and Cyrenaica has its own oil production and storage terminals in the east while most proceeds (for both belligerents) in the Libyan conflict are settled by Libya's National Oil Company (NOC). But little of that mattered to Turkey's oil import market and Turkey signed an energy corridor agreement with Libya. Then in April of 2019, the Libyan National Army's offensive versus Tripolitania's Government of National Accord (GNA) began, resulting in the fall of Sirte early this year.

Turkey's foray into Libyan oil ran into trouble by June of 2018. Turkey objected to LNA rogue oil deals free of NOC oversight, where the NOC's mandate was to enforce the UN arms embargo by disbursing funds only for civilian government use. Then the LNA's April offensive resulted in air strikes on Misrata and the west, impacting Turkey's oil imports. The fall of Sirte and LNA strikes on NOC offices and the Zawiya oil terminal late in 2019 dealt serious blows to Turkeys' oil ambitions in Libya.


Democratic Party divide: Anti-war progressive candidates face off against mainstream war-hawks

Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders
A clear divide in the Democratic Party presidential debate last night was between mainstream candidates who see American troops performing a vital role in the Middle East and the two progressive candidates who don't. The talking point for the mainstream candidates was fighting "terrorism." Amy Klobuchar went so far as to call Iran a "terrorist regime."

Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren did not use that word, while offering eloquent statements about the failures of U.S. foreign policy.

All the leading candidates said they would restore the Iran deal that Trump has sought to destroy. But they differed over withdrawing troops from the region.

Comment: CNN, Warren's sexism jibe against Sanders backfires as #CNNisTrash trends on Twitter