Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.
Russia recycles previous nonsense asserted on Salisbury. Kremlin continues to foster war hysteria inside Russia. More on the counter-sanctions bills. Two essays on the fragility of the PRC-RF relationship. Some very apt observations on Russia’s wants versus its actual needs.
UK media report Col. Skripal being debriefed by Police as they try to identify circumstances of the attack.
A great many essays, some very good, looking at Syria – Iran – Israel – Russia and the US. Notably Arab media focussing on how Russia threw Iran under the Israeli bus – as they do not like Iran’s influence in Syria.
Violent protests erupt again in Southern Iran.
Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia are being kept under armed guard in Britain and have refused help from Russia
Sergei Skripal is still a Russian citizen, Russia’s foreign ministry has said, as it accuses the UK government of misleading them.
The Russian Foreign Ministry is not satisfied with the statements by British officials about Sergei and Yulia Skripal allegedly refusing to speak to the Russian side
Russia has accused the UK of casting a veil over the case of poisoned spy Sergei Skripal, claiming he is being held against his will.
A majority of Russians say escalating tensions in Syria with the United States and other allies in the West could spark World War III.
A MAJORITY of Russians believe there is a genuine threat of the conflict in Syria spiralling into a full-scale global war, as tensions between the US and other allies escalate at a rapid rate.
More suppression of opponents and critics in Russia. Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press is under attack in Russia. This is a part of an overall attempt at tightly controlling anything affecting the influence of the Russian people. </end editorial> Kremlin opponents could face criminal prosecution under new Russian legislation proposing possible prison…
A Russian lawmaker has singled out a prominent opposition activist as a potential target for prosecution under legislation that would criminalize the promotion of foreign sanctions on Russia — and…
The lower chamber of the Russian parliament, the State Duma, has amended and approved in its second reading a bill that provides for countermeasures against the United States and other countries th…
Those who bow to foreign pressure could spend four years in jail.
Acting United States Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Sigal Mandelker said that Washington is ready to respond with new sanctions to a full range of “malign activity” by Moscow. The speaker did not name specific actions and possible measures, noting only that this concerns elements of a corrupt system, thanks to which the government elites and the oligarchs of the Russian Federation receive a “disproportionate profit.” “We’re sending a very clear message to Russian oligarchs and elites who profit from what we consider to be a corrupt system, that they are no longer going to be insulated from the consequences of their government’s destabilizing activities,” Bloomberg quotes her as saying.
Russian warships and submarines don’t only target ISIS and other Syrian insurgents, but also provide a cover against NATO’s southern flank in Europe.
Russia’s space sector continues its plummet into crisis. As a result of the sharp decline of the proportion of commercial launches on the world markets and the disruption of the Vostochny cosmodrome’s construction deadline, the attempt to create a replacement for the Progress cargo spaceship has ended in failure. A source in the rocket and space sector told RIA Novosti that the development of the TGK PG (cargo spaceship with increased payload capacity), which has been underway since 2016, has been frozen indefinitely. The project was run by RSC Energy. The new cargo spaceship was intended to use a Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket with increased payload capacity, capable of launching into orbit 900 kilograms more than its predecessors. In October 2017, the conceptual design was approved by the state corporation Roscosmos, but no further development has been done on it. “It turned out that the cost of the new ship would be three times more than the price of manufacturing a normal Progress cargo ship, and the likelihood of failure in the new ship is significantly higher than in the tested equipment. In this connection, the decision was made to stop work at the stage of preliminary design,” the source told RIA. RSC Energy’s report for the first quarter of 2018 says that although the schematic design for the ship was presented more than half a year ago, “no decisions to further develop this ship have been made yet”.
The economics of a major oil deal seemed to make sense. But when energy companies are arms of the state, economics aren’t the only factor.
Rosneft Vietnam BV, a unit of Russian state oil firm Rosneft, is concerned that its recent drilling in an area of the South China Sea that is claimed by China could upset Beijing, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Wednesday.
Paul Goble Staunton, May 16 – For the last decade or more, Vladimir Putin has sought to transform the world in which the United States is the preeminent power into a multi-polar one in which no one power is dominant all the time and therefore one in which Russia, reduced in power since Soviet times, has more opportunities for successful maneuver, Sergey Shelin says. The multi-polar world Putin has so long sought has now appeared at least in part, the Rosbalt commentator says; but it has “not brought happiness” to the Kremlin. “And in the longer term, it has not created new chances to increase the power” of the Russian Federation (rosbalt.ru/blogs/2018/05/15/1703229.html). “On the contrary,” he continues, “those moves which Vladimir Putin has practiced in international politics give a particular effect only as long as other players do not apply them. But now with the coming of multipolarity, many if not all conduct themselves as he has. It is good to be audacious when one is the only one being so. But when everyone is?” In the old world that Putin has overturned, “not only force but rules observed more or less by the majority, had significance. But in a multi-polar world, the situation is [different].” Now, the national leader who can organize a group to support him, however unexpected it may be, is in the driver’s seat. “But the ability of the Kremlin to create strong coalitions was never very great,” Shelin says. “The break with Ukraine led besides everything else to the weakening of ties with the main official allies – Kazakhstan and Belarus … And today even such a small satellite as Armenia can change its regime” without Moscow being able to risk coming down against it. Putin’s “dream has been achieved in large measure,” but it hasn’t brought many benefits.” Instead, Russia has had to unite with those whom the majority view as outcasts and to deal with those who earlier stood at a lower level as equals such as Ankara and Tehran. And Moscow has even had to put up with those it would prefer not to. But what is most surprising of all, the Rosbalt commentator says, is that Putin has not turned to war near and war or sought to show “’soft power’” as a way of promoting Russia’s interests. Instead, he has led the country into a new period of “self-isolation,” hardly the triumph he expected.
By Martin Brunt, crime correspondent. Detectives are trying to find out more about his regular trips to London and monthly meetings with his alleged former MI6 handler. Detectives are still questioning poisoned spy Sergei Skripal as he recovers in hospital, nearly 10 weeks after being attacked with a nerve agent, Sky News has learned. They are trying to piece together the Russian former double agent’s life in retirement in Britain, as more details emerged of his recent activities. They want to know more about his regular train journeys to London, his trips abroad, and his monthly meetings with his alleged former MI6 handler in a Salisbury restaurant. It was reported this week that the 66-year-old had been briefing intelligence agencies in the Czech Republic and Estonia on Russian spies and their methods, giving one lecture as recently as 2016.
PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC: Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, poisoned in Britain in March, met other European intelligence services to give information about Russian spies operating on their territories, a Czech intelligence source said Wednesday. Skripal, recruited by Britain’s MI6 in 1995, had “crucial information on how the Russian system works, how they work abroad,” a well-informed Czech intelligence source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.
Poisoned double agent Sergei Skripal briefs European intelligence services: Report – Russian double agent Sergei Skripal, poisoned in Britain in March, met other European intelligence services to give information about Russian spies operating on their territories, a Czech intelligence source said today.
Thinking about a rollback isn’t crazy, but it requires a sustained effort.
President Trump also told the Iranian regime and its enablers, including the United Nations and leaders of European countries thirsting to do business with Iran, to “go to hell” when he withdrew the United States from the disastrous nuclear deal negotiated by Barack Obama and his feckless Secretary of State John Kerry. The so-called “international community” was aghast. “I am deeply concerned…that the United States will be withdrawing from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and will begin reinstating US sanctions,” UN Secretary General Guterres declared. “Issues not directly related to the JCPOA should be addressed without prejudice to preserving the agreement and its accomplishments.”
A prominent Israeli columnist calls President Donald Trump the most pro-Israel president in U.S. history, bucking global critics by moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, abandoning the Iran nuclear deal, and backing Israeli military operations in Syria.
Not only is Syria’s civil war far from over, but the Assad regime’s victories over rebel forces have sparked a series of “wars after the war” that could undermine its recent gains—and create opportunities for the United States. President Bashar al-Assad has said about Syria’s bloody civil war that “things now are moving in the right direction” and that “the worst is behind us.” Senior officials from Russia, Iran, Hezbollah, and the UN and former U.S. diplomats have gone even further, proclaiming Assad the victor and urging rebel groups and the U.S. government to reconcile with this unpalatable “reality.” An analysis of regional conflict dynamics, however, reveals a more complicated picture, which indicates that Syria’s agony may be far from over, and that its military gains may be more tenuous than they appear.
The events in Syria have taken a new turning point after the Israeli-Iranian military combat in southern Syria, which is expected to draw a new map, considered the most prominent since the break out of the Syrian revolution, for the strikes that targeted dozens of sites in the south and near the capital Damascus have never been witnessed for 48 years; the Iranian reaction, similarly, is regarded as the largest of its kind, as it focused on deep positions within the occupied Golan. Threats and promises, by both Iranian and Israeli officials, varied with the expansion of the Iranian intervention in Syria, fleshing up the expectations that await the eruption of a confrontation between the two sides in Syria after the most violent attack, on the 10th of May, for Israel never stopped attacking in the past month; however, the former attacks were discreet and with a lesser degree of military acuteness.Regardless of the military strike’s seize and repercussions, it is the political context that is worth examining, for the meeting that brought together the Russian President Vladimir Putin and the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the corner stone for the Syrian-based Iranian fate in the upcoming phase, especially with the almost finalized process of “drawing the borders” between the Syrian regime and the opposition, which is the threshold to Syria’s next day.
If Russia detests Tehran s influence in Syria the Israeli strikes on Iranian targets are a welcome development for Moscow. Last week’s showdown between Iran and Israel in and over Syria is not expected to be the last. But, could such showdowns, if repeated, provoke an all-out war? Though the two countries have avoided any serious clashes in the past, Israel’s retaliatory attack on almost all major Iranian military targets inside Syria represents the biggest direct confrontation between the two countries in their history. So far both countries have indicated that neither wishes to engage in such a war, but the confrontation is going to occur on two fronts. First, the latest attack happened on a pretty large scale as the Israelis have targeted every Iranian site they could have identified inside Syria. These targets were clearly shown in red dots covering Syrian territories from north-west of the country to the south. None of the targets were Syrian but Iranian army installations and Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) units.
Israel attacked all of Iranian infrastructure in Syria. The aim was to neutralize Iranian military facilities in the South and South West of Syria. According to Tel Aviv the strikes were in retaliation to Iranian missile attacks on Golan Heights. After the bombing, Israel’s government spokesperson said that airstrikes have destroyed nearly all of Iranian infrastructure in Syria. If Israel can destroy all of Iranian facilities in Syria in a single day, then why is Tehran perceived as a massive threat? Iran expanded its influence in the Middle East after the withdrawal of United States from Iraq and consistent Saudi intelligence failures across the region. The power vacuum caused by the US withdrawal resulted in the rise of Islamic State of Iran and Levant (ISIL), a hardcore Sunni extremist organisation. It created an opportunity for Iran to support Shiite militias and largely Shiite dominated Iraqi army. Iranian Revolutionary Guards Commander (IRGC), General Soleimani was seen many times in Iraq supervising the operations launched against ISIL. The Arab spring and the expansion of ISIL to Syria contributed to Tehran’s intervention in Syria. The survival of Bashar al-Assad was vital for Iran as Syria is geographically a bridge between Iran and Iranian allied Hezbollah in Lebanon. Furthermore, Hezbollah also actively took part in Bashar al-Assad’s war against Sunni rebels as the fall of Assad could have resulted in the regional isolation of the group.
The destruction of Iraq in 2003 left the Middle East an unbalanced system. In a region previously marked by peer competition between Iraq and Iran, many Sunni Arab states have since relied on the United States to fill the void as a bulwark against Iranian influence. Although the United States has overwhelming military and economic capability to do so, it is not clear if it has the necessary resolve. On the contrary, Iran’s willingness to incur costs and sustain casualties, in Iraq and Syria especially, shows that it has the resolve to use its relatively meager material capabilities when compared to the United States and its allies. This imbalance of resolve reduces the competition between Iran and the United States to irregular forces and proxies. Within this realm, Iran is often more willing to expose its own soldiers to direct combat than the United States, which buys Iran greater influence and legitimacy with its proxies and regional partners. With Iranian influential and military power on the rise, a failure on the part of the United States to counter Iran will compel Sunni Arab states, in particular Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states, to balance on their own. At the very least, this balancing will include support to fundamentalist Sunni militants in Syria and unwieldy intervention like the air campaign in Yemen. At worst, the escalation inherent to this balancing behavior devolves to general war. Either way, an unbalanced Middle East allows extremist organizations to flourish, refugees to languish, and regional powers to focus on security competition rather than cooperative free trade. These outcomes are not in the best interest of the United States. Read the full report.
It should come as no surprise to most but Iran has made yet another threat to annihilate Israel, this time promising to destroy the Jewish state within 25 years. In a not-so-shocking statement, the head of Iran’s Army, Major-General Abdolrahim Mousavi, said during a ceremony in April in Tehran that his country’s military had its “hands on the trigger and missiles are ready and will be launched at any moment,” Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported. His comments came after Iranian Brigadier-General Hossein Salami threatened Israel’s “annihilation” and promised that his country would make Israel “fade away” in the next 25 years. Considering US President Donald Trump’s scrapping of the disastrously flawed Iranian nuclear deal following intense Israeli lobbying, such comments out of Iran might be considered fighting talk. Tehran is, after all, quite keen on rehabilitating itself into international markets, while pursuing its expansionist agenda in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.
Internal fears in Iran that it will pay a price for its aggression – Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall and Orly Ram. Iran’s response to Israel’s May 9, 2018, attack on Iranian Revolutionary Guard targets in Syria reflects growing confusion and dissent within its leadership. Syrian President Assad has been accused of passivity and not compensating for Iranian blood spilled on Syrian soil for the sake of propping up his regime. Russia has also come under fire, as its pact with Iran is a marriage of convenience and Putin seeks to maintain good relations with Israel. Iranian citizens tell Western media that they are “held captive” by the Iranian regime. Trump attempts to treat the problem – the regime itself — not the symptoms such as its aggressive policy, missile development, and human rights violations.
In Nakba Day remarks, Lebanese group’s deputy leader calls US embassy relocation to Jerusalem ‘worthless’
The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group said on Monday a missile salvo into Israeli’s Golan Heights last week marked a new phase in the Syrian war and showed Damascus and its allies would not let Israeli attacks in Syria go unanswered. Israel has said the attack from Syrian territory was carried out by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, which set up Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon in 1982. Iranian forces and Hezbollah have deployed to Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad. Israel said it had attacked nearly all of Iran’s military infrastructure in Syria in response to the attack, which marked the first time Iranian forces have fired at Israeli territory. It was the most extensive military exchange ever between the foes. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, in a televised speech, said 55 missiles were fired in the attack last Thursday — nearly three times more than the 20 missiles which Israel said were shot down or had not reached their targets in the attack.
The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah says a barrage of rockets from Syria against Israeli forces in the occupied Goal Heights last week opens up “a new phase” in the conflict, warning that Israel proper could be the next target
The leader of Lebanon’s powerful Hezbollah group, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, said on Monday a missile attack from Syria into the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights last week marked a new phase in the war.
The shadow war with Iran in Syria is politics by other means because the grand strategy is to evict Iran from Syria.
The West’s new activism on Syria is pushing Iran to adapt its approach, though its bottom line remains the same.
Trump’s appointment of such senior neocons as John Bolton and Mike Pompeo as well as his withdrawal from the JCPOA ensures the return of Iran’s hard-liners.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s attendance at Victory Day 2018 as President Putin’s guest of honor, the day-long meeting that they had, and then Israel’s bombing of Iranian positions in Syria later that same night forever changed how the Alt-Media Community views the Russian-Israeli relationship. Up until this Wednesday’s 2018 Victory Day event in Moscow, most of the Alt-Media Community was still brainwashed by the dogma that Russia is somehow “against” Israel despite years of evidence to the contrary, including multiple quotes from President Putin on this topic published on the Kremlin’s official website. That all changed earlier in the week when President Putin invited Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to attend the celebration as one of his two guests of honor, the other being Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic. It shouldn’t be a surprise that this happened because, after all, Russia and Israel are allies, like the author explained in September 2017.
Israeli military’s international spokesman says some Palestinians ‘that weren’t the target’ were hit, but fiercely defended the military’s response
Israel Hits Hamas Base but Gaza Protests Fade
French oil and gas company Total will not continue its obligations in connection with Phase 11 of the South Pars project and is currently working with U.S. and French authorities to explore the possibility of withdrawing from the project, the company’s statement says. In addition, Total confirms that leaving the project will not affect the target of 5% annual average production growth in the period from 2016 to 2022, Interfax reported. On May 8, U.S. President Donald Trump announced that Washington is withdrawing from the Iran nuclear deal that was reached in 2015 by six international powers (Russia, the United States, Britain, China, France, and Germany). As a result, the United States is restoring all of its sanctions against Iran, including secondary ones that have to do with other countries that do business with Iran, noted PRIME. “As a result, as mentioned earlier, Total will not be able to continue participating in the South Pars 11 project and will be forced to cease all activities on the project until November 4, unless it receives special permission from the U.S. authorities and the support of French and European authorities. This permission must include protection of the company against any secondary sanctions under U.S. law,” Total stated.
Germany does not see any simple opportunities to protect its businesses from the new sanctions which Washington may place on Iran in the next three months, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told Bild in an interview. “I don’t see a simple solution for protecting our companies from all risks related to sanctions in the US,” Maas observed. He added that the European Union, whose companies have made a large number of deals with Iran following the lifting of the sanction regime in 2016, intends to pressurize Tehran to negotiate with the US. “We want to force Iran to adhere to the conditions of the nuclear agreement. At the end of the day, Iran is prepared to talk,” he added. Washington is already starting to put pressure on European businesses to restrict Iranian contacts. Last week US Ambassador to Berlin Richard Grenell openly demanded that German companies end their presence in the Iranian market.
Author : Markus Becker, Matthias Gebauer, Der Spiegel. Instead of the conventional partner systems adopted within the alliance, Turkey wants to install a missile shield, developed by Russia. The supply of Russian anti-aircraft missile systems S-400 to Turkey is a real provocation for NATO. Instead of the conventional partner systems adopted within the alliance, Turkey wants to install a missile shield, developed by an increasingly aggressive rival, Russia. Within NATO, resistance is mounting. The Russian system is allegedly not only incompatible with NATO’s technical systems. The alliance fears that with the help of the S-400, Moscow will be able to find the strengths and weaknesses of the fifth-generation F-35 American fighter. Turkey intends to purchase more than a hundred F-35 fighters for its own air force. It is a billion-dollar deal. However, it is the S-400 system that is considered potentially the most dangerous enemy of the multifunctional fighter, which in the next few years should become the basis of the US Air Force and other countries. Accordingly, NATO is alarmed too. One NATO diplomat said that even if the deal with the S-400 is delayed, we must think about the reaction right now. Publicly voiced fears are still mild. The purchase of the S-400 planned by Turkey means “a lot of trouble,” US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said in Congress. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stressed at a meeting of the foreign ministers of NATO member countries that these were only statements about the purchase, but there was no actual treaty. nternal analysis is more specific. To put it simply, NATO servicemen are cautious about the deliveries of Russian S-400 air defense systems, since, in their opinion, the complexes can become a sort of “Moscow eye” in NATO territory. When using these systems, Turks will depend on Russian aid for several years, and the data obtained during this time can leak into Moscow. In addition, internal sources suggest that with the help of complex software S-400, Russia will be able to collect all the data on the F-35. Extensive C-400 radar readings can be very useful for studying the weaknesses of F-35 fighters. Air Force experts warn that in this way Russia will be able to study and evaluate the fighters flying through Turkey. Washington does not like the fact that Moscow will be able to closely study the US super-jets, developed for billions of dollars.
A protest in the southern Iranian city of Kazerun reportedly turned deadly Wednesday when Iranian regime security forces opened fire against a large protest against a plan to change the city into two sections.
The Wednesday night clashes between security forces and demonstrators protesting a plan to divide parts of the Kazeroon County in Fars Province, southern Iran, has left at least one dead and six wounded.
Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency is reporting that a violent protest in the southwest city of Kazerron has left at least one person dead and six others injured.
For weeks, residents of Kazeroon (also spelled Kazerun, Kazeroun) have been protesting against plans to change the city’s boundaries – a move they say is designed to benefit a member of parliament who comes from the area.
Six other protesters reportedly wounded in the latest demonstration over government decision to divide region’s administration
A violent protest in the city of Kazeroon in southwestern Iran has left at least one person dead and six others injured, Iran’s semiofficial Fars news agency reports.