Arab St., Balkans, MENA, Middle-East

U.S. Recycles Its Old Balkan Practice With Syria

The Syrian rebellion began in earnest on March 11, 2011, when protests erupted. Since then, the Syrian civil conflict has become increasingly violent. About 70,000 people have died in the country’s civil war over the past two years. Millions of people have been displaced, both internally and abroad. For months regional and Western capitals have officially held back on arming the rebels, in part out of fear that the weapons would fall into the hands of terrorists.

Now however U.S. has begun to support arms delivery to Syrian opposition with recycling its old practice in Balkans. Multiple planeloads (some estimates are up to 160 cargo-planes, 3,500 tn) of weapons have left Croatia since December 2012, when many Yugoslav weapons, previously unseen in the Syrian civil war, began to appear in videos posted by rebels on YouTube. Saudi Arabia has financed a large purchase of infantry weapons from Croatia and quietly funneled them to anti-government fighters in Syria. American intelligence officers have helped the shipment with their earlier practice during Balkan wars. Earlier compared with the heavy weaponry employed by the Syrian regime, most of the equipment of Free Syrian Army (FSA) has been light so now the game is changing.

In Syria, a recoilless gun from the former Yugoslavia. Photo credit The NYT

Some foreign arms have been making their way to the Syrian opposition; the vast majority of guns were bought right from the regime – corrupt regime officials sold them. Another portion of their weapons was bought off the black market from Turkey or Jordan, which made them very expensive.

The opposition began as a secular struggle to overthrow the Assad regime. But many of the loosely linked brigades fighting the Assad regime have incorporated Islamist aims into their mission. These groups range from moderately Islamist outfits such as Liwaa al-Tawhid to more conservative groups such as Ahrar al-Sham, whose members have called for the countrywide implementation of Shariah, or Islamic law. There are also jihadist groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra (JAN), which operates as an extension of al Qaeda’s Iraqi franchise and has been declared a terrorist organization by the U.S. JAN boasts foreign connections and members with years of fighting experience, making them invaluable to the uprising.

The M79 Osa, an anti-tank weapon of Yugoslav origin, seized from Syria’s opposition.

Officially besides about $385 million in humanitarian aid has been disbursed by the U.S., there is an additional $115 million in nonlethal support for the fighters. On the other hand U.S. (unofficial) decision to send in more weapons is aimed at another fear in the West about the role of jihadist groups in the opposition. Such groups have been seen as better equipped than many nationalist fighters and potentially more influential. U.S. is covertly working to get those weapons into the right hands. Western officials agree that helping Syrian rebels defeat the brutal Assad regime is a worthwhile cause, but recent reports suggest some of that assistance has already benefited jihadist groups – e.g. JAN fighters have been using weapons originating in Croatia. (Sources: NYT , IBT , Debkafile)

Weapons from Croatia

A conservative estimate of the payload of these flights would be 3,500 tons of military equipment” (Hugh Griffiths, SIPRI, who monitors illicit arms transfers)

Persian Gulf states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been orchestrating weapons shipments into the conflict for months. Weapons from the former Yugoslavia were spotted in Syria this winter, after a series of military cargo flights from Zagreb to Amman. The arms are typically sent to Turkey and shipped into Syria via ground transport. The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports. Also from Jordan and Turkey, trucks take the weapons to the border with Syria.

The anti-Assad front is not like-minded: Riyadh – and Prince Bandar in particular – accuses the Qataris of conspiring to bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power in Damascus, including radical groups tied to Al Qaeda. Qatari Prime Minister and Secret Service Chief Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem has shot back with the charge that Saudi Arabia is maneuvering for control of the Syrian rebel movement.

The below video posted by the jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham, a collection of various smaller groups based in the north of Syria, mainly around Idlib, Aleppo, and Hama, and not part of the Free Syrian Army, demonstrates that the Yugoslavian weapons – supplied via Croatia – being provided to FSA have now begun to reach the hands of jihadists. These include RBG-6 40mm grenade launcher , the M79 Osa rocket launcher, M79 rocket pods, Yugoslav-made recoilless gun, as well as other assault rifles, grenade launchers, machine guns, mortars and shoulder-fired rockets for use against tanks and armored vehicles.

Youtube video

 One should add that Croatia’s Foreign Ministry and arms-export agency has denied that such shipments had occurred. Croatia, poised this year to join the European Union, now strictly adheres to international rules on arms transfers. However, export figures obtained by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) show that last December, Jordan suddenly began buying Croatian weapons.

MLRS in Syria too?

On March 2013 Syrian rebels in Aleppo have begun receiving their first heavy weapons – 220-mm MLRS rocket launchers – from a large-scale supply operation headed by Saudi intelligence chief Prince Bandar bin Sultan. According Debkafile in Serbia, Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo, his agents produced snapped up Russian-made MLRS (Smerch) and Hurricane 9K57 launchers capable of firing scores of 220-mm rockets to a distance of 70 kilometers.

I have some doubts how this Russian made MLRS has came from Croatia. First only one source (Debkafile) indicates so, second I don’t have any confirmation that this system was for sale in Balkans, third some youtube videos from Syria which I have seen about this MLRS are so unclear that the question could be about some similar type of MLRS.

Image shows a M60 recoilless gun (YU) being used to attack an army outpost,Hajez Barad, in Busr al-Harir, Daraa, on March 2nd.

The Saudi operation for shipping heavy rocket launchers from the Balkans to Aleppo is complicated. The rockets are fixed to vehicles weighing 43.7 tons each. The rockets themselves are 7.6 meters long and weigh 800 kilograms. To arrange the transfer of this heavy artillery to the rebels in Aleppo, Prince Bandar contacted Hakan Fidan, head of the MIT-Turkish National Intelligence Organization. They agreed to set up an overland route from the Balkans via Turkey and across the Syrian border to Aleppo, under the protection of the Turkish army.

It may be that Syrian rebels have now also the BM-30 Smerch (tornado), the most powerful multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) in the world. It was developed in the early 1980s and was accepted to service with the Soviet Army in 1987. It is also in service with Belarus and the Ukraine, and has been exported to Kuwait (27 systems) and Algeria (18 systems).India placed an order for an initial 38 systems. Deliveries began in May 2007.

The heavy MLRS rocket launcher in Syrian rebel hands

Former Yugoslavia had three types of MLRS: M 63 Plamen(32 /128),M 77 Ogan(32/128) and M 87 Orkan(12/262) which was produced in cooperation with Iraq and army of Iraq used this system. The M87 Orkan (hurricane) is a MLRS, jointly developed by Yugoslavia and Iraq. Most of development was made in Yugoslavia and some manufacturing took place in Iraq. It was first publicly revealed in 1988 during defense exhibition in Iraq, labeled as the Ababil-50. The Orkan MLRS project was finished in the early 1990s due to collapse of the Yugoslavia and it is estimated that only few system were built. The most modern – 2011 – MLRS in Balkans is LRSVM, which is a modular self-propelled multitube rocket launch system developed by Serbia-based Vazduhoplovno Tehnicki Institut (VTI). Also Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Defense Technologies (EDT) has developed, manufactured and delivered the first unit of the MLRS, which was designed and manufactured locally in UAE but in collaboration with a leading Serbian defence contractor. Perhaps some of these are now in operation theatre.

M87 Organ (YU)

Aleppo is the key to win

The Saudi operation for shipping heavy rocket launchers from the Balkans to Aleppo is complicated. The rockets are fixed to vehicles weighing 43.7 tons each. The rockets themselves are 7.6 meters long and weigh 800 kilograms. To arrange the transfer of this heavy artillery to the rebels in Aleppo, Prince Bandar contacted Hakan Fidan, head of the MIT-Turkish National Intelligence Organization. They agreed to set up an overland route from the Balkans via Turkey and across the Syrian border to Aleppo, under the protection of the Turkish army.

On the other hand Russia brings down its cargo planes loaded with weapons and replacement parts for the Syrian army at Nairab air base attached to Aleppo’s international air port, after the air facilities around Damascus were targeted by rebel fire. Recently Russian and Iranian arms lifts to Nairab were doubled, after rebels seized many Alawite villages in the Aleppo and Idlib regions of northern Syria.

The Saudis hope to expedite the rebel capture of the big Syrian Nairab air base attached to Aleppo’s international air port. The Saudi prince has personally taken the Nairab battle under his wing, convinced that it is the key to the conquest of Aleppo, once Syria’s national commercial and population center, after more than a year’s impasse in the battle for its control. The fall of this air base would also substantially reduce the big Iranian and Russian airlifts to Assad’s army. Moscow has since warned the rebels that if they attack incoming or outgoing Russian planes at Nairab, Russian special forces will come in to wipe out their strength around the base and take over its protection themselves.

U.S., Croatia and common history of clandestine operations

It is not surprising that U.S. is using Croatia for its clandestine operations. Radical Islam has enforced and widened their activities in Balkans last 15 years. During Bosnian war many foreign Islamists came to fight in mujahedeen brigade also many Al Quida figures – including Osama bin Laden – were supporting Bosnian Muslims 1990’s. US took the side with these “freedom fighters” in Bosnia and later in Kosovo. US involvement in the Balkans is not about helping any of the people in the region — Muslims, Croats, Serbs, or Albanians. The only interest of the Pentagon is in creating weak, dependent puppet regimes in order to dominate the entire region economically and politically.

In the 1980s Washington’s secret services had assisted Saddam Hussein in his war against Iran. Then, in 1990, the US fought him in the Gulf. n both Afghanistan and the Gulf, the Pentagon had incurred debts to Islamist groups and their Middle Eastern sponsors. By 93 these groups, many supported by Iran and Saudi Arabia, were anxious to help Bosnian Muslims fighting in the former Yugoslavia and called in their debts with the Americans. Bill Clinton and the Pentagon were keen to be seen as creditworthy and repaid in the form of an Iran-Contra style operation – in flagrant violation of the UN Security Council arms embargo against all combatants in the former Yugoslavia. One could add that Ayman al-Zawahiri, later the leader of al Qaeda, came to America to raise funds in Silicon Valley for Bosnian jihadists.in 1993, Mr. bin Laden had appointed Sheik Ayman Al-Zawahiri, to direct his operations in the Balkans.

The recent history of this issue in Balkans started in June 1993, when President Clinton received the head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence service, Prince Turki al Faisal – a close adviser to his uncle, the King. The Prince urged Clinton to take the lead in the military assistance to Bosnia. The American administration did not dare to do so: the fear of a rift within NATO was too great. However, the United States did consider the Saudi Arabian signal to be important, and therefore a new strategy was elaborated. Its architect was to be Richard Holbrooke, who started to look for a way to arm the Bosnian Muslims. In the summer of 1993, the Pentagon was said to have drawn up a plan for arms assistance to the Bosnian Muslim Army (ABiH), which included supplies of AK-47s and other small arms. This operation was to demand almost three hundred C-130 Hercules transport aircraft flights.The first consignment from Iran landed in Zagreb on 4 May 1994, with sixty tons of explosives and military equipment on board. The arms were transported in Croatian army trucks along the Adriatic coast to Bosnia. Because the supplies attracted too much attention at Pleso Airport in Zagreb, the flights subsequently went mainly to the Croatian island of Krk. Shortly after Iranian cargo aircraft had landed there, a number of Croatian helicopters arrived to continue transporting the load after dusk.

Besides weapons the arrival in the Balkans of the so-called Afghan Arabs, who are from various Middle Eastern states and linked to al-Qaeda, began in 1992 – mujahedeen fighters who travelled to Afghanistan to resist the Soviet occupation in the 1980s later migrated to Bosnia hoping to assist their Islamic brethren in a struggle against Serbian Croatian forces.

In the summer and autumn of 1994 plans were elaborated for training the ABiH. An US ‘mercenary outfit’ was to arrange this training. This was carried out by Military Professional Resources Incorporated (MPRI), a company based in Virginia that employed various retired American generals and intelligence officials. With the consent of the State Department, MPRI trained the Hrvatska Vojska (HV, the Croatian Army) and later also the ABiH. MPRI’s role arose from the signing of the agreement between the United States and Croatia on military collaboration. By engaging MPRI, Washington also reduced the danger of ‘direct’ involvement. The CIA settled on 14,000 tons between May 1994 and December 1996. According to the State Department from May 1994 to January 1996 Iran delivered a total of 5000 tons of arms and ammunition via the Croatian pipeline to Bosnia. (Source Bill Clinton’s Bastard Army by Ares Demertzis ,Feb. 2009 in New English Review)

Links between drug trafficking and the supply of arms to the KLA (Kosovo Liberation Army) were established also mid-90s. In West KLA was described as terrorist organization but when US selected them as their ally it transformed organization officially to “freedom” fighters. After bombing Serbia 1999 KLA leaders again changed their crime clans officially to political parties. This public image however can not hide the origins of money and power, old channels and connections are still in place in conservative tribe society.  (More e.g in Quadruple Helix – Capturing Kosovo )

The pattern of U.S. collaboration with Muslim fundamentalists against more secular enemies is not new.In both cases all sides committed atrocities, and American intervention in fact favored the side allied with al-Qaeda. Similarly the cause of intervention was fostered by blatant manipulation and falsification of the facts.

Assad is not the only war criminal

Reports of a chemical weapon attack in Syria’s Aleppo Province end of March 2013 provoked leaders and politicians, particularly in the West, to advocate more fiercely for the overthrow of the Assad regime, despite the vague details surrounding the attack. Current data seem to suggest, however, that it was not government forces behind the attack, but rebel forces.The attack, intelligence sources appear to agree, was launched by rebel fighters and not government forces. Since the victims were overwhelmingly the Syrian military, this was not a huge shock, but is important to reiterate. Likewise, the Assad forces called upon the United Nations to launch an investigation into the attack.

Last October, the rebel forces were responsible for four suicide bombings in Aleppo that killed approximately 40 civilians and wounded many more. Jebhat al-Nusra, a group linked to al-Qaeda, has taken credit for the bombings. Additionally, the rebels were also responsible for the massacre of over 90 people in Houla last year. Immediately following that event, the U.S., France, Great Britain, and Germany blamed Assad for the killings and expelled Syria’s ambassadors from their countries in protest. Later reports, however, pointed to evidence that the massacre was in fact carried out by anti-Assad rebel forces.

From the other side Iranian supplies are what keep Assad’s army functioning and his regime in Damascus and other Syrian towns able to survive the rebellion. Iraqi Al Qaeda is also preparing to push trucks loaded with Chlorine gas-CI trucks into Syria for the jihadists to use against Assad’s forces. U.S. has been unable to persuade Iraq cut short the Iranian airlift and land route through his country to Bashar Assad of weapons, fighters and cash.

From my point of view it remains to see if this newest U.S. clandestine recycling operation has better success that earlier in Balkans, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya … I doubt.

P.S.

Some sense of proportion should be applied with different conflicts:

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BalkanBlog, Middle-East

Days of Rage on the Arab street

After the first successful thrust every revolution differentiates into political and class currents. This is the moment of greatest danger. The moment when the future of the revolution is decided.” (John Rees)

After successful ousting in Tunisia and Egypt now on the rest of Arab streets in every Arab capital the masses have the idea that change is possible. Will the ouster of autocrats continue remains to seen. Along the Arab street there is a long history of tensions and frozen conflicts and events in Tunisia and Egypt may be a catalyst for rebellion. Still existing regimes and dictators are using old strategies to stay in power. These included promises of rulers to resign in future, using pro-government thugs against demonstrators, wage increases and tax cuts and other economic concessions to cut support from uprisings.


Dictators have been ousted so far in Tunisia and Egypt and today it seems that Libya, Yemen and Bahrain will follow any day;  ‘Sturm und Drang’ is advancing extensively on the Arab streets.  How deep the change will be on scale reformation-revolution and wide the fire will spread on the Arab street and outside of it remains to seen.


Egypt starts post-Mubarak era

In Egypt it now appears that the coup was possible due the tensions between Tantawi and the Mubarak family. Tantawi was frustrated with the prospect that Mubarak’s son Gamal. might ascend to the presidency. Gamal Mubarak, in turn, was believed to be hostile to Tantawi and wanted him to be removed. Huge crowds of Egyptians who demonstrated for 18 days against Hosni Mubarak’s rule saw Defense Minister Hussein Tantawi and his troops as their saviour. They appealed to the military to intervene in Egypt’s crisis, and the generals did.

Party is over? Over the weekend, Egyptians and others globally celebrated. Today they awakened to the cold reality of a new dawn. Mubarak has gone, but his state apparatus remains intact. In my opinion the outcome in Egypt will be a reform not revolution, that is, changes in personnel and policies, protection of human rights, but no challenge to the structure or the constitution. Egypt’s society is diverse enough to withstand a despotic theocracy and if in doubt so the army is the final guarantor. If the military regime retains power the geopolitical arrangements would remain in place.
According social media April 6 Youth movement continues demonstration to implement following demands:

  • Acquitting the current government.
  • Abolition of the Emergency law.
  • The Release of all Detainees.
  • The formation of a presidential council, including civilians, and fair judges.
  • Retribution of all the media figures that have contributed in killing our martyrs.
  • Acquiting the state security apparatus and restructuring of the Ministry of Interior as well as all of the NDP headquarters
  • Forming a new technocratic government .
  • Aquitting the government led by Ahmed Shafik, which includes the foul faces that have a history of corruption such as Mufid Shehab Aisha Abdel Hadi Faiza Abu Naga Sameh Fahmi Ali Meselhi Mahmoud Wagdy, to be dismissed and Mhakthm and the formation of a new technocratic government.

To make a complete break with the bourgeois regime and that means expropriating the wealth of the big capitalists – the Mubarak family, the some 1.000 family clique around them including leading army brass. Egypt’s senior generals are part of the ruling establishment and army is up to its helmets in big business: shopping centers, tourism, property, hotels, steel, telecom. A real revolution would require a Marxist revolutionary leadership by Egyptian workers and youth and there is no signs that such a party is possible to build in near future. There is a deep divide in the opposition and thus far do not appear to have been able to generate the type of mass movement that toppled the Shah of Iran’s regime in 1979.


Libya moving to civil war

The protests in Libya are the latest in a wave of dissent sweeping the Arab world in the wake of the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. After the worst unrest in Gaddafi’s four decades in power hundreds of people have been killed over the past three days in a fierce security crackdown mounted in response to anti-government protests that sought to emulate uprisings in neighbouring Egypt and Tunisia. ABC News reports that the protests were originally not organised but were sparked by youths turning out for Thursday’s “Day of Rage” against the Gaddafi regime. “We don’t have here unions and syndicates or political parties, just youth going out on the “Day of Rage” (February 17).

Gaddafi’s government has moved quickly to try to stop Libyans from joining the wave of uprisings in the Middle East. In an attempt to stave off protests the Libyan government had announced it would double the salaries of government workers. It also released a sizeable number of Islamic militants from prison. As soft power was not enough the regime used hard its security troops and also “thugs” were being given cash and new cars to take to the streets and attack anti-government protesters. Government used e.g. snipers from the Internal Security Forces in the eastern city of Beyida against unarmed demonstrators. In Benghazi police initially followed orders Saturday to act against the protesters, but later joined with them because they belong to the same tribe and saw foreign mercenaries taking part in the killings.

Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s son Seif al-Islam delivered a speech on national television. The content of the speech indicates the state believes it is facing a serious uprising and a potential civil war. He also has orchestrated the release of members of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, which is suspected of having links to al-Qaida, in the past as part of a reconciliation plan. Another of Gaddafi’s sons, Libyan National Security Adviser Motasem Gadhafi, is Seif al-Islam’s potential rival.

In some areas it also seems that the police and security forces are showing sympathy for the protesters and even army units have changed side. In Ajdabia the police seem to have sided with the protesters to fight government mercenaries and the government has reacted by shutting down electricity supplies and access to the internet has been blocked. Some towns were surrounded by the military but latest reports are claiming that many regions are already occupied by opposition. Some tribe leaders are taking side with opposition, the government has started to collapse and Gaddafi has probably escaped from Tripoli to his desert base.

Gaddafi has ordered the Libyan air force to fire on military installations in Libya, which reflects a split within the regime source, earlier air force fighters have opened fire on crowds of protesters and the navy has participated too operations against demonstrators.

Earlier possibility for an Egypt-style revolt was seen unlikely in Libya because the government could use oil revenues to smooth over most social problems. Probably the events escalated so fast that there was not enough time to use this mean.


The Middle East on the edge

Thousands of people are protesting in Yemen for a fifth consecutive day to demand political reforms and the ouster of the country’s US-allied president – Saleh – who has ruled the Arab world’s poorest country since 1978. Military ties between the US and Saleh’s administration have grown stronger in recent months, as the country struggles with the increasing militancy of a secessionist movement in the south, as well as unrest provoked by rising food prices, unemployment reaching 40 per cent – and demands for human rights to be recognized.The US is shortly to embark on a $75m project to train Yemen’s counterterrorism unit, US officials say. (Source: Uruknet)

“Down with the president’s thugs” (sign in demonstration)

Yemen used to be two separate countries: The southern half was the only Arab communist country – PDRY(People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen). There is unrest in the south because they haven’t fully integrated the two parts of the country. Government has still not resolved the issues of the rebellious so-called Houthi people on the Saudi border, where the Saudis have intervened militarily. Economically Yemen has no water, and the country faces an agricultural crisis for which there is no visible solution. A hugely disproportional amount of water that they do have is used for the cultivation of qat, a mild narcotic leaf. Yemen has no oil. It is now the place where al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has established itself, and it poses a serious terrorism issue. And similarly to other Arab despots who face overthrow, President Saleh had announced wage increases and tax cuts and other economic concessions. Like in Egypt pro-government thugs armed with daggers and batons fought anti-government protesters. The police fired warning shots into the air, but then withdrew from the streets allowing the thugs to attack the anti-government protesters.


In Bahrain, the problem is between the majority of people, who are Shiite, and the ruling government, who are Sunnis. The latest death raises the possibility of more rallies and challenges to the ruling Sunni monarchy in Bahrain. In the past week, Bahrain’s rulers have attempted to undermine calls for reform by promising nearly $2,700 for each family and pledging to loosen state controls on the media. A main Shiite opposition group, Al Wefaq, denounced the “bullying tactics and barbaric policies pursued by the security forces” against peaceful marchers staging the first major rallies in the Gulf since uprisings toppled long-ruling regimes in Tunisia and Egypt. Bahrain’s protesters, however, claim they do not seek to overthrow the ruling monarchy but want greater political freedoms and sweeping changes in how the country is run. The demands include transferring more decision-making powers to the parliament and breaking the monarchy’s grip on senior government posts. Bahrain’s majority Shiites — about 70% of the population — have long complained of systemic discrimination by the Sunni rulers.

Initially the protesters were calling on the Sunni monarchy to adopt more liberal policies and also grant more rights for the country’s majority Shiite population. But as the movement grew in strength after it started on Monday of last week the demands of the protesters have become bolder, calling for jobs, better housing conditions and freedom for all political prisoners. Source: Ynetnews )

Bahrain is of particular importance to the United States because it is the headquarters of the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet. If King Khalifa falls so U.S. outpost for Iran and strategic Hormuz channel will be in danger. Also other side of the border are Saudi Arabia’s oilfields on Persian Gulf – populated mostly with Shiites.

Bahrain was the first sign of post-Egypt unrest anywhere in the wealthy Gulf states, but also in Kuwait, opposition groups had called for an anti-government protest last week, but shifted the date to March 8 after the resignation of the country’s scandal-tainted interior minister.

The Islamic Action Front is the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan and it seems that it has now transformed political disillusionment into political capital. The Islamic Action Front is more liberal than Islamist parties in some other countries and so far it has backed the royal family. However supporters of this country’s largest opposition party held a rally to celebrate the new Egypt and the people power that swept away Mubarak. Jordanians took to the streets demanding constitutional reform and more say in decision-making. About 2,000 pro-democracy protesters under attack from pro-government activists armed with batons, pipes and stones. King Abdullah II dismissed his cabinet earlier this month after massive street protests against the government’s economic and political policies.

In Jordan dissatisfaction with regime was shown also indirectly. In a letter published this week by 36 Jordanian tribal leaders, who represent nearly 40% of the population and play an important role in the kingdom’s politics, the Queen Rania Al-Abdullah was criticized relentlessly. In the letter, Rania was accused of “corruption, stealing money from the Treasury and manipulating in order to promote her public image – against the Jordanian people’s will.”It was also mentioned that Jordan is suffering from “an authority crisis” and from a growing influence of “corrupt businessmen who surround the decision makers, affect political decisions and ignore national interests.” The tribal leaders called to “put these corrupt people who stole from the country on trial, regardless of their status.””Sooner or later Jordan will be a destination for a similar uprising like the ones in Tunisia and Egypt because of oppression of freedom and robbing from public funds,” said the letter. (Source: Ynetnews)

In Saudi Arabia spread over week ago a wild rumor that king, Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz, is dead, which triggered a spike in the price of oil; the government assured that he is alive and in “excellent shape”. A Saudi Arabian prince on Thursday said said that the protests and unrest in Arab countries may be dangerous for his country if King Abdullah does not step up the pace of reform. Prince Talal bin Abdul-Aziz, a half brother of the king, said it was not too late for the Saudi government to take steps to avoid protests. He also said the king is the only person who can bring about major changes. Talal has called for reform before, he holds no government posts and is considered something of an outsider within the royal family.

Perhaps fearing its own uprising, the Saudi Arabia’s government (unchanged since its 1932 founding) “react(ed) to the winds of change blowing throughout the Arab Middle East. For the first time, a political party has been established – and though it has not yet received official government approval,” it asked King Abdullah to allow it. Supported by lawyers, businessmen, and others, Saudi’s new Islamic Nation Party is a first. Saying it will work for political reform and human rights, it stressed that the “regime need not fear the democratic spirit overtaking the Arab world.”Saudis domestic intelligence service, the General Directorate for Investigations, arrested five party’s founders on the night of February 16, 2011, one week after they submitted their request for recognition of the Islamic Nation Party as a political party to the Royal Court and the Shura Council, an unelected council with some parliamentary functions.

Saudi Arabia does not allow political parties. Up to now and unless changed, King Abdullah appoints a Cabinet of Ministers every four years, including many royal family members. No elections are held. In 2006, a committee of Saudi princes was established to serve unspecified future selection functions after Crown Prince Sultan becomes king. A 150-member Consultative Council also exists, headed by a royal appointed chairman to serve four years. Demonstration along the Arab streets have alarmed the Saudis and the regime is investing huge amounts of money securing their southern border for that reason.

In Syria, too, although President Bashar Assad Tuesday put on a big show of unconcern by mingling unescorted among a crowd of affectionate admirers in Damascus, the situation is very tense. Early Wednesday, he placed Syrian security forces and the army on high alert in readiness for the Day of Anger called for Friday, Feb. 18, by opposition organizations, including the Muslim Brotherhood. After Syrian intelligence received word that it was planned to be the most serious attempt to date to shake the dynastic Assad regime, police and security strength in Syrian cities were beefed up. Heavy reinforcements were moved into the Kurdish areas of the north, where the most violent protests are anticipated. Assad has adopted the Iranian tactic of exerting maximum force to break up crowds as they form and giving security forces a free hand to open fire with live ammunition without having to ask for permission. (Source: Debkafile)

According the International Marxist Tendency even Iraq is now being affected as mass protest have erupted across the country, particularly in the Kurdish areas of the country where violent protests have broken out as the anger of the youth has reached boiling point. Ten people are reported to have been killed by police forces during protests in Sulaymaniya. Violent protests have taken place at various locations in Iraq, with anti-government protesters taking out rallies against corruption, poor basic services and high unemployment. In Basra, the country’s second largest city in the south, around a thousand people rallied today, demanding jobs and improved pensions.

Iraqi and Kurdish leaders have also attempted to head off the protests by slashing the salaries of ministers and MPs and diverting cash earmarked for the purchase of fighter jets to buy food for the needy. This highlights growing mass opposition to the atrocious social conditions created by the occupation regime set up by Washington after the US invasion in 2003. These include lack of electricity and clean water, mass joblessness, and surging increases in the price of food—as well as the dictatorial conduct of the new rulers placed in power by Washington.

In Palestine the turmoil started already earlier due the the Al Jazeera-Guardian Palestine Papers leak, the Palestinian Authority also made early mistake bywrongly siding with Egypt’s ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak, now the PA is employing desperate political maneuvers. According analyst Fadi Elsalameen nothing short of Abbas and Fayyad handing in their own resignations and accepting responsibility for their failures will satisfy the Palestinian streets. Abbas and Fayyad are of a past era. They are no longer representative of the future we young Palestinians seek for ourselves. Rather, we see them through the lens of withering and illegitimate Arab regimes that if not replaced democratically will be toppled through a popular revolution that I can assure them has already begun. (Source: Al Jazeera )

So far the military coup has stabilized or even improved Egypt’s relationship with Israel. Last week on 18th Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have waved through another 3,000 Egyptian troops into North Sinai, topping their number up to 4,000 and virtually scrapping the key demilitarization clause of the 1979 peace treaty. Senior Israeli military officers report that Israel posed no conditions for its permission then or now – not even demanding a timeline for their withdrawal so that Sinai might revert to the military-free buffer status which buttressed the peace for 32 years. Neither were limits placed on the Egyptian troops’ operations and movements. (Source: Debkafile)


Maghreb on the waitlist

In Morocco the government appears to be trying to calm fears over price hikes on basic goods ahead of a Facebook-arranged protests planned for next Sunday. It has doubled the money it sets aside for state subsidies to counter rising global commodity prices.The Moroccan monarchy is largely popular and entrenched in the socio-cultural foundations of the country., so much so that in Morocco we can actually talk about two layers of political authority that help set the monarchy as regime and political order above the political fray, and one that is capable of deflecting all criticism towards the state government led by the prime minister.

Communist League of Action as a Marxist revolutionary group in Morocco declared its position as follows:

  • active participation in the mobilization of the masses
  • its appreciation of the Democratic Confederation of Labour and other leftist organizations and parties (the Democratic Way, the United Socialist Party, the Moroccan Association of Human Rights, etc) who are participating to assure the success of this action
  • the objective conditions for revolutionary change are ripe, posing for the revolutionary left the responsibility to prepare for the leadership of these and other actions towards the completion of the historical tasks
  • their opposition to all forms of class cooperation with the capitalists and their dependent capitalistic stat

One, two, three, viva L’Algerie”

Algeria – a regional power, U.S. ally, and major energy producer — is vulnerable to revolution; however the number of protesters there, who went to the streets on February 12th was much smaller than in Tunisia and Egypt. In my opinion Algeria is surprisingly quiet reflected to its violent past. After massive riots caused the one-party state to collapse in 1988, Algeria failed to become a democracy, and the military took power in 1992. What followed was the decade-long Algerian civil war. Algerian civil society has only just begun to emerge from the trauma of that war, which left 200,000 people dead. To date, it remains the region’s most violent conflict between militants and the state.

In Tunisia, the revolution of the young urban elite has for the time being concealed the fact that the Islamists Renaissance party is likely to emerge from the fringes of illegal sub-activity to that of a leading political force. While this is unlikely to transform Tunisia into a stronghold of radical fundamentalism, the Islamic movement under the leadership of Rachid Ghannouchi is expected to fare well in democratic elections scheduled for this summer.

Radical Islamists gathered outside a synagogue in Tunis and chanted anti-Semitic slogans. Footage taken from the scene shows them chanting “Allahu Akbar” and “Khaybar, Khaybar. Oh Jews, Muhammad’s army will return”. They were referring to the Battle of Khaybar, which was fought in the year 629 between Muhammad and his followers against the Jews living in the oasis of Khaybar, located 150 kilometers (95 miles) from Medina in the modern-day Saudi Arabia (song came recently famous as it was popular song also in Gaza flotilla).

John Rees writes in his analysis The Tunisian Revolution in historical context as follows:

It is still possible in Tunisia that the ruling elite, having jettisoned only their hated figurehead, will attempt to crush the movement by force and restore the old regime virtually unmodified. It is also possible that there will be some transition to a weak form of bourgeois democracy where there is a change in the political structure of the country but no change to the underlying property relations. The fate of the Tunisian revolution is, so far, still hanging in the balance. Will it result in more far reaching political change? Will the momentum of the considerable working class opposition to the old dictator, including the General Strike, which was crucial in breaking his Presidency, carry the revolution forward to confront capitalist property revolutions? Will political currents emerge that represent this perspective? These questions are still to be answered.


Demography factor

One major cause behind the unrest on Arab streets is demographic expansion in all these countries. Although birth rates are falling, a third of the overall population is below 15 years old, and large numbers of young women either are or soon will be reaching reproductive age. The Ministry of Defense in the UK has projected that by 2030 the population of the Middle East will have increased by 132%, and that of sub-Saharan Africa by 81%, generating an unprecedented “youth bulge.” As unemployment among youth is high and there is no sign for improvement, the perspective for better future is rather dim.

Below I have collected some statistics reflecting demographic challenge:

Country Population % < 30

Jobless

youth

Ruler
Algeria

34,6

57

45,6

A. Boutflika, 11 years
Bahrain

1,2

+56

54.1

King Ali Khalifa
Jordania

6,4

64

27

King Hussein
Egypt

80,5

61

21,7

Military council 0 years
Libya

6,5

60

27,5

M. Gaddafi, 42 years
Morocco

31,6

56

21,9

King Muhammed VI, 11 y.
Saudi Arabia

25,7

61

16,3

King Abdullah, 6 years
Sudan

43,9

69

na

O. al-Bashir, 18 years
Syria

22,2

66

16,5

B. al-Assad, 11 years
Tunisia

10,6

50

27,3

Interim 1 month
Yemen

23,5

72

18,7

Ali Saleh, 32 years

Demography is creating other problems – than radicalism and unrest – which are limiting socio-economic solutions. The Water Sector Assessment Report on the Gulf countries expects that the availability of fresh water is likely to halve because of demographic pressures. A halving of available water supplies due to population growth over the next 20 years could all too easily intensify tensions and turn them into civil wars and international military hostilities.


Democracy now

According The Economist report the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) remains the most repressive region in the world—16 out of 20 countries in the region are categorized as authoritarian. There are only four exceptions: Israel is the only democracy in the region, albeit a flawed democracy; and there are three hybrid regimes (Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian Territories). The average score of countries in the region declined from an already very low 3.54 in 2008 to 3.43 in 2010, almost a point below the next lowest-scoring region, Sub-Saharan Africa.

The Economist Intelligence Unit’s index of democracy, on a 0 to 10 scale, is based on the ratings for 60 indicators grouped in five categories: electoral process and pluralism; civil liberties; the functioning of government; political participation; and political culture.


Meanwhile in Iran

In Iran demonstrations were initiated by Iranian opposition figures in ostensible solidarity with the popular protests in Egypt and elsewhere, but were plainly intended to revive the post-election protests of 2009. “How, after all, it will be wondered, can Ahmadinejad say ‘yes’ to the rights of the Arab peoples, but deny those same rights to his own people?”

Iran’s protests have sparked hope among observers of the region that the country might see a grassroots, Egypt-style uprising that would unseat the ruling theocracy. However the circumstances between Egypt and Iran differ. In the Islamic Republic there are security forces eager to do exactly what the Egyptian military were not willing to do – beat, and even shoot and kill citizens protesting on the streets. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards and fiercely loyalist Basij militia consider it a “sacred duty” to quell anti-government dissent. According Hagai M. Segal, a lecturer on Middle Eastern Affairs at New York University in London “Iran has welcomed events in Egypt, yet has suppressed its own democracy movement, and even while celebrating events in Egypt they have banned public demonstrations in its favor because it fears Iranian protesters back on the streets,” he said. “Mousavi, Karroubi and others wish to remind Iranians and the West of this double standard, and if possible, reignite their own ‘revolution’ in the process.” (Source: Jerusalem Post)


My conclusions

If the people don’t go home, the regime will have a problem” (Menashe Amir)

Nelson Mandela said many times that while in prison he saw too many postcolonial leaders come to power only to abuse their people and rob them of the promises of liberation. Revolutionary movements invariably split into factions. Their sole common objective is the ouster of the existing regime. As soon as this goal comes close to being achieved, elements of the opposition begin to position themselves for the second phase of the struggle and the coming competition for power.


I am afraid (but hopefully wrong) that it is unlikely demonstrations to result in a widespread fall of regimes in near future. There may be more change among dictators, some military coups and modest reforms. However the regimes and economical interest groups behind them may stay almost untouched and the outcome at best is only an updated illusion of democracy.


Epilogue

A fresh documentary film “People & Power– Egypt: Seeds of change by Al-Jazeera reveals the story behind the unprecedented political protests in Egypt. Over the course of a remarkable fortnight, People&Power has been filming exclusively behind the scenes with a core group of young activists. It also shows how they studied “lessons learned” from Otpor – a student movement in Serbia, which helped to oust Milosevic some ten years ago.


Watch film Here!

Some of my other Middle East articles:




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lähi-itä

Saudit ja Israel yhdessä valmistelemassa ilmahyökkäystä Iraniin

Iranin ydinohjelmaa koskevien neuvottelujen nyt alettua Genevessä rauhanomaisen ratkaisun aikaansaamiseksi tuo Wikileaks esiin myös aktiviteetit sotilaallisen vaihtoehdon toteuttamiseksi. Lukaisin juuri kiinnostavan uutisen Saudien ja Israelin tiedustelupalvelujen yhteistyöstä Iranin ydinohjelman tuhoamiseksi. Jo ainakin vuoden lähinnä Ammanissa pidettyjen palaverien tuloksena on mm sovittu Saudien ilmatilan käyöstä tulevassa Iranin laitosten pommituksissa ja saudit ovat jopa luvanneet hävittäjien polttoainetäydennystä varten tilapäiskentän autiomaahan.

Jo aiemmin mm Saudien Arab News on kehunut Mossadin päälikköä tämän aktiivisesta roolista Iranin ydineksperttien tappamisessa. Viimeinenhän tapahtui viime maanantaina kun kybersodan ekspertti Prof. Majid Shahriari murhattiin Teheranissa, hänhän veti vastatoimia Iranin ydinohjelmaa vastaan tehtyä ns. Stuxnet viruskampanjaa kohtaan. Kaikkiaan ainakin viisi Iranin ydineksperttiä on eliminoitu viimeisen kahden vuoden aikana. Tämä reaalipolitiikan maailma kuitenkin osoittaa taas että kulttuurien välinen yhteistyö on täysin mahdollista kun yhteisiä etuja on löydettävissä.
Panokset ilmaiskun suhteen ovat nyt aiempaa kovemmat: toisaalta Iran on uudistanut pidemmän kantaman ohjusarsenaaliaan, toisaalta se on kehittänyt uudemman version ilmaiskujen torjuntajärjestelmäksi – jopa ilman venäläisten S-300:aa. Samalla ydinohjelma on edennyt mm uraanin rikastuksessa siihen tasoon etteivät sanktiot enää pure aiempaan tapaan.
Edellä muutamia pääkohtia laajemmasta artikkelistani Saudi-Israeli cooperation for attacking Iranpääblogissani.

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BalkanBlog, Middle-East

Saudi-Israeli cooperation for attacking Iran

While negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program in Geneva are continuing some WikiLeaks documents are highlighting the other – military – option to solve the problem. According to these classified cables, Saudi Arabia had been pressing the US to attack Iran’s nuclear sites before it developed a weapon. Saudis are not alone with their aggressive position. According to the U.S. State Department documents, Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa. indicated to Gen. David Petraeus in 2009 that Iran’s nuclear program should be stopped, saying, “The danger of letting it go on is greater than the danger of stopping it.”


From my point of view much more interesting information is coming from DEBKAfile‘s intelligence sources that the secret Saudi-Israeli meetings on Iran have been taking place for more than a year and will also to continue after the changing of the guard at the Mossad. The meetings between Saudi General Intelligence Director Prince Muqrin bin Abdaziz and Meir Dagan, most of which were held in the Jordanian capital Amman, dealt extensively with clandestine cooperation between the two agencies and plans for attacking Iran. Arab and Western sources reported that they reached agreement in the course of the year for Israeli fighter-bombers to transit Saudi air space on their way to bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities. The Saudis were even willing to build a new landing strip in the desert with refuelling facilities for the use of the warplanes en route to their mission.

Busher

Targets

Few years ago a senior military intelligence official told the U.S. Embassy that the Government of Israel does not know where all of the targets are located and said that any attack would only delay, not end, the Iranian program. Also then the MFA’s (foreign ministry) office director for the Gulf states noted that potential target sites are well dispersed throughout the country, with several located in built-up civilian areas. In addition, the GOI is acutely aware of Iran’s ability to retaliate, both militarily and through attacks by its regional surrogates. PM claimed that Hizballah has 11,000 rockets (and possibly UAVs) capable of reaching Israel from launching sites in Lebanon. This old information may not be expired even today. (Wikileaks cable 05TELAVIV1593)

After Gaza flotilla case the northern route may not anymore be for use but as now found from WikiLaeks cables the southern route for air-strike may not anymore be hostile.


Human targets too

The Mossad is widely seen as responsible for a wave of covert actions including the sabotage of Iranian nuclear projects. Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. The scientist’s death deals a major blow to Iran’s herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defence exercise. Prof. Shahriari was the Iranian nuclear program’s top expert on computer codes and cyber war. Another Iranian nuclear scientist, Prof. Feredoun Abbassi-Davani, and his wife survived a second coordinated attack with serious injuries. This was the fifth attack in two years on Iranian nuclear scientists in Tehran.

A special unit for providing nuclear scientists, their homes and families with the same level of security as heads of the regime is being set up jointly by Iran’s Intelligence Ministry (MOIS), Revolutionary Guards and Al Qods Brigades. Top scientists are to be provided with armoured-plated vehicles able to withstand sticky bombs and RPG.


Iran’s defence

According the New York Times a diplomatic cable (from the WikiLeaks cache) from this past February confidently describing the sale of 19 missiles to Iran by North Korea that could give Tehran the ability to strike Western Europe and Russia. American officials appear to agree on is that at the very least North Korea sold a number of ballistic missile parts to Tehran in 2005. The sale set off alarms in Washington, because the parts were for BM-25 missiles, a weapon with powerful engines that — if deployed by Iran — could bolster Tehran’s ability to strike far beyond the Middle East (with a 2,000-mile range), State Department cables show.


The other cable (from Spring 2006/AR) discusses a meeting between the Connecticut Senator Lieberman and Meir Dagan, director of Mossad/Israel’s main spy agency. According to the cable, Mr. Dagan talked of Iran’s having a medium-range missile, the Shahab-3, that “can currently carry nuclear material, and reported that Iran is also trying to adapt the BM-25 missile, which already has a longer range, for this purpose.” (Source WikiLeaks/NYT). For Israel, the introduction of the BM-25 would have relatively modest impact on its strategic calculation, since Iran already has the ability to strike Israeli cities with ballistic missiles, but it would allow Iran to disperse its launchers over a much larger area in the eastern part of the country.

BM-25, unveiled in a North Korean military parade

However the core question related to Iran’s ability to defend herself against Israeli airstrike is the Russian-Iran deal of S-300 anti-aircraft missile system that scares every Western air force with range of 200 km. To wait if U.S.’s “Reset” strategy will work, Russia has put missile deal on hold. The S-300s changes Iran’s nuclear gambit as without them airstrike against Iran is still possible option, with S-300s the risk might be too high. Also Iran has designed and tested successfully an air defence system that has the same capability as the Russian-made S-300 missile system. Iran claims that they have developed the system by upgrading systems like S-200 and we tested it successfully.

Iran now self-sufficient in uranium ore

Iran has developed its defence not only against air strikes but against sanctions too. DEBKAfile‘s military and intelligence sources disclose that despite the six-day shut-down of the Natanz uranium enrichment plant from Nov. 16-22, due to an invasion by the Stuxnet malworm and the serious injury suffered by Prof. Fereydoun Abbasi, Director of Centrifuge Operations, the Iranian program has managed to come within touching distance of its goal: It is only 4.7 kilos short of the 28.2 kilos of 19.75 percent enriched uranium needed for going into weapons-grade production. The Iranians need no more than a few weeks, up to early February at the latest, to reach that goal. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, for his part, will have to face up to falling down completely on his solemn, oft-repeated vow to never allow the Islamic Republic acquire nuclear arms. When the uranium powder can be used for making homemade rods – both to fuel nuclear reactor cores and produce plutonium, the alternative to enriched uranium for weapons-grade fuel. Conclusion: Iran no longer depends on imported materials to move forward at speed toward an N-bomb on both self-sufficient tracks –unhindered by sanctions. (Source: DEBKAfile )

Regional view

King Abdullah describes a conversation he had with with Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on the issue of Iran’s “interference in Arab affairs.” Abdullah challenges Mottaki on Iranian meddling in Palestinian politics and support for Hamas. “These are Muslims,” he quotes Mottaki as responding. “No, Arabs,” countered Abdullah, before adding, “You as Persians have no business meddling in Arab matters.” quote the Saudi king’s assertion of Iranian aid to the Houthi rebels in Yemen. So the leaked cables provide added and deepened color to an already existing picture of regional cold war.(Source: Jerusalem Post/WikiLeaks)

Hamas government’s deputy foreign minister Dr. Ahmed Yousef is actively campaigning for the Gaza regime to form a strategic partnership with Iran on the same lines as the Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah alliance. He also invited Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Gaza. Close ties between Gaza and Tehran will bolster the Palestinian extremists’ military and intelligence ties with Damascus and Hizballah. This will in turn boost the bloc led by Iran and Syria and add to its leverage for derailing any fence-building moves between the feuding Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah and perpetuate the division between the two Palestinian entities – one in Gaza and the other on the West Bank. This stronger alliance may also threaten the stability of Jordan, where already Hamas-Damascus controls the local Muslim Brotherhood branch.

The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Rai Al-Aam reported on Wednesday that the Shi’ite organization has completed its preparations for a war against Israel, including the construction of an extensive network of tunnels throughout the whole of Lebanon. According to the report, Hezbollah has completed equipping its arsenal of missiles and weapons and finished building its defensive network against a possible Israeli attack. Likewise, Hamas has reportedly dug tunnels between Rafah and Gaza City of a similar nature to the Hezbollah tunnels. The network stretches from the length of the Lebanon’s coast to the country’s mountainous eastern region.

Egypt’s intelligence chief, Omar Suleiman, in a meeting with Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, is more explicit regarding Egyptian efforts to counter Iranian subversion. Suleiman noted that Iran is “very active” in Egypt and that it is granting $25 million per month to Hamas and reports Iranian efforts to recruit among Sinai Beduin.

The WikiLeaks cable, written on April 16, 2008, by Michele Sison, the U.S. embassy’s charge d’affaires in Beirut, was based on a meeting she had with Lebanese Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh. She wrote that Hamadeh, who had requested “a special meeting,” had opened it by declaring, “Iran Telecom is taking over the country!” Hamadeh said the importance of the move for Hizbullah was that it was “the final step in creating a nation state. Hizbullah now has an army and weapons; a television station; an education system; hospitals; social services; a financial system; and a telecommunications system.”Hamadeh accused the “Iranian Fund for the Reconstruction of Lebanon” of funding the network. This group, according to the cable, has been rebuilding roads and bridges since the 2006 Second Lebanon War and has previously been accused of installing telecommunication lines in parallel with new roads. (WikiLeaks )

Bottom line

It’s understandable that Iran has some doubts about U.S. intentions. U.S. has strengthened its forces near Iranian shores with three aircraft carriers, four nuclear submarines and marine assault units. Earlier the influential Senator Lindsey Graham (R. South Carolina), member of the Armed Services and Homeland Defense committees, said: “The US should consider sinking the Iranian navy, destroying its air force and delivering a decisive blow to the Revolutionary Guards.”As part of this strategy, two weeks ago, the White House requested the heads of NATO to draw up operational plans for attacking Iran’s nuclear and military facilities.

With Iran’s nuke there is now more at stake than ever before: Iran is more resistant against sanctions, it has more developed anti-aircraft missile system and its ability to attack/respond is higher. On the other side international community may be slightly more unit by demanding that Iran limits its nuclear programme for peaceful purposes only. Pre-emptive punitive nuclear attack against Iran is however still possible so let’s hope that negotiations in Geneva will give some positive alternative to military option.

Warometer

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