Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syrian CW Attack / Israel vs. Iran Ad Hoc Update (76)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russia is now grappling with its duplicitous  “allies”, Iran and Syria, and it is a sight to behold. Of course how long any alliance might persist between three regimes that brag about their duplicity and take pride in being deceitful is always an open question – the Molotov-Ribbentrop agreement is, of course, a case study, as is the falling out between Comrade Nikita and The Great Helmsman. Western and Arab media of course mostly unable to understand what is actually happening. Russia does more saber rattling with the Borei SSBN.

Vedomosti in Russia surveys the boom in conspiracy theory content in Russian media, an apt example of Tsipko’s  “Russian madness” – very insightful observations by Harding, and EU team. Chertok on Russia playing against our values.

In the UK, Yulia Skripal is interviewed by Reuters, so that is likely to go viral over the next day. One wonders what new conspiracy theory Muscovy will promote to counter this new unwelcome reality – a survivor of a Russian assassination attempt pouring her heart out to the media.

More on target comments by SECSTATE Pompeo, while the Iranian leadership indulges in tantrums of apoplexy and threats. Media report divisions in Tehran.

Hezbollah withdraws from south Syria – Middle East Monitor

Hezbollah forces withdrew from areas in the province of Daraa, south of Syria, heading to the regime-controlled area north of the province and towards the capital, Damascus. Sources confirmed to the Anadolu Agency that members of Lebanese Hezbollah militia withdrew from the city of Dara’a ‘ and the towns of Etman and Khirbet Ghazala near the international highway between the Syrian capital Damascus and Jordan. As many as three military convoys belonging to Iran-backed militias left the area over the past three days.

Iran Rejects Russian Demand To Withdraw Troops From Syria

After Russia said that foreign troops should leave Syria when the war ends, Tehran responded by saying no one can force Iran to do anything. Russian President Vladimir Putin said on May 17 after …

Withdrawal of Hezbollah, Iranian forces out of discussion: Syrian Deputy FM

The withdrawal of Iranian forces and units of the Lebanese movement Hezbollah from Syria is not on the discussion agenda, Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mikdad told Sputnik. “This topic is not even on the agenda of discussion, since it concerns the sovereignty of Syria. We cannot let anyone even raise this

Syrian official scoffs at U.S. demand to send Iranian forces home | CBC News

The withdrawal of Iranian forces is not up for discussion, the Syrian deputy foreign minister was quoted as saying on Wednesday, after Washington demanded they pull out of Syria’s conflict.

Syria says Iranian withdrawal not up for discussion – Middle East – Jerusalem Post

US Secretary of State Pompeo said Iran must withdraw all forces under its command in Syria.

The Latest: Syria’s Assad meets with Putin envoy | Fox News

The Latest on Syria developments (all times local): 8 p.m. Syrian state media says President Bashar Assad has met with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s special envoy to Syria, after Russia said Assad ally Iran should withdraw its forces from Syria.

Triumphant Putin playing both Iran and Israel  | Arab News

The last few weeks have not been kind to Tehran. First, US President Donald Trump carried out his campaign promise to take his country out of the international agreement to restrain Iran’s nuclear program, demanding that a new deal be negotiated. Then, a few days later, Iran’s political allies in Iraq suffered a major setback when a centrist, anti-sectarian and broad nationalist coalition that is primarily against Tehran’s meddling in Iraqi affairs took the lead in the legislative elections. And — to make things worse — as Iranian officials raced to contain the damage from these two events, Israel hyped up its pounding of Iranian military targets in Syria, with the Russians looking on.

UAWire – Kremlin calls British fight with dirty money from Russia ‘Russophobia’

NTV reports that Russian Presidential Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said at a press briefing that the Kremlin believes the UK Parliamentary Foreign …

TASS: Press Review – Press review: Iran clashes with Russia on Syria

Tensions between the guarantors of Syria’s ceasefire – Russia, Turkey and Iran – are mounting, Nezavisimaya Gazeta writes on Wednesday. Tehran has rejected the Russian leadership’s call for it to pull out foreign contingents from the Syrian Arab Republic stressing that its forces are there at the official invitation of Damascus. Experts link these statements to possible bargaining between Moscow and Washington on Syria. One of the US demands for Russia could be exerting pressure on Iran, the paper says.Anton Mardasov, an expert from the Russian International Affairs Council told the paper that Russia, Turkey and Iran used to have tensions, but due to their common goals they were defused. Now Syria has regained control of nearly its entire territory, which is not divided into de-escalation zones, and the major goal is to reach a compromise with foreign parties controlling the remaining areas. “It is not ruled out that Russian representatives are in talks with the Americans on decreasing their presence in Syria and tackling the problem of the Kurdish protectorate. This may occur but probably in exchange for diminishing the Iranian presence in Syria,” the expert said, noting that Russia may be also bargaining with the Persian Gulf states. More:

Trump’s troubled Syria policy is getting unexpected help from Putin | Business Insider

President Donald Trump may have a chance to pull the US out of Syria now that Russian President Vladimir Putin has called on Iran to move out its forces as well. Trump has long wanted to pull the US out of Syria, but likely couldn’t because he’d be forfeiting the country to the same Iranian influence he hopes to counter. Putin looks to have turned his back on Iran, and has asked them to leave Syria.

Forget Iran. Russia is the real threat to the US in the Middle East

The U.S. is losing it’s leading role as a Middle East power broker, and that’s a foreign policy disaster we must push back on, says Sean McFate.

Russia launches four ballistic missiles in biggest test since Cold War | Daily Mail Online

Russia’s Project 955 Borei-class strategic nuclear submarine Yuri Dolgoruky has successfully test fired four Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles from the White Sea.

Pompeo’s Speech Echoes What Gulf Monarchies Are Saying – Analyst – Sputnik International

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has pledged to impose the toughest sanctions in history on Iran, adding that they will apply until Iran changes its course. Marwa Osman, a political analyst and journalist, has offered her take on the speech in an interview with Sputnik.

Russia Is Back In Africa — and Making Some Very Odd Deals – Defense One

Since December, Moscow has struck major deals in the Central African Republic with both government and rebel leaders.

UAWire – Russia abandons new Borei-B nuclear submarine

Project 955B, centered around the strategic Borei-B nuclear-powered submarine, was not included in the Russian state armament program for 2018-20 …

Joel Harding | Russia’s Sociopathic Symptoms – To Inform is to Influence

Last evening I was reminded how Russia refuses to take responsibility for their actions by a trusted colleague. Having previously studied psychology, I recalled this was one of the classic symptoms of a sociopath. The symptoms of a sociopath paint a clear picture of someone who is a cold, self-centered, manipulative person with no conscience.…

Everyone Against Russia: Conspiracy Theories on the Rise In Russian Media | EU vs DISINFORMATION

There has been a significant increase in the appearance of conspiracy theories in Russia over the past seven years. A new study shows that references in Russian media to a select group of popular conspiracy theories are on average six to nine times more frequent now than they were in 2011. Disinformation is among the factors experts name as the reason for this increase. The top 10 conspiracy theories.

Why conspiracy theories are gaining popularity – ВЕДОМОСТИ

Journalist Vladimir Ruvinsky on how conspiracy theories have become a legitimate model for explaining to society everything that is incomprehensible and hostile

Who is Darth Putin? | EU vs DISINFORMATION

Disinformation can sometimes be fun – especially when the more awkward attempts to spread it are unmasked. We do our best to illustrate this point with a weekly fun story on the EUvsDisinfo website. But some go further than highlighting embarrassing moments. One genre that has gained particular popularity is that of the parody accounts, which communicate political satire on social media. Our favourite is “Darth Putin” on Twitter. The Darth Putin tweet used as illustration above has so far gained an impressive almost 2,500 retweets, and that success is well-deserved; in fact, Darth Putin manages in just one tweet to highlight a number of key points about the pro-Kremlin disinformation campaign, which we have tried to describe in a whole series of feature articles in the course of the past year:

Russophobia: How Russia Exploits Western Values For Its Propaganda – To Inform is to Influence

May 22, 2018 By Paula Chertok Hardly a day goes by without someone from the Kremlin accusing the West of anti-Russia “frenzy,” “hysteria” or “Russophobia.” Whether the subject is the poisoning of a spy in Salisbury, a chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria, hacking Ukraine’s electrical grid or interfering in the U.S. election …

EXCLUSIVE-Yulia Skripal: Attempted assassination turned my …


EXCLUSIVE-Yulia Skripal: Attempted assassination turned my world upside down.

* Yulia Skripal speaks to Reuters * Says lucky to have survived attempted assassination

* Says shocked that nerve agent was used to attack

* Yulia Skripal: I one day hope to return home

* Says: “my life has been turned upside down” (Adds link to text)

By Guy Faulconbridge LONDON, May 23 (Reuters) – Yulia Skripal survived an assassination attempt that UK authorities blame on Russia. But the daughter of one of Russia’s most famous spies says she wants to return to her country “in the longer term”, despite the poisoning. “The fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking,” Skripal told Reuters in an exclusive statement. “My life has been turned upside down.”

Mark Urban on Twitter: “Yulia Skripal has given an on camera statement to @Reuters “after 20 days in a coma, I woke to the news that we may have been poisoned. I still find it difficult to come to terms with… the fact that a nerve agent was used to do this is shocking”.”


Terry Moran on Twitter: “BREAKING: Yulia Skripal, the daughter of ex-spy Sergei Skripal, who were both poisoned with a nerve agent in England, says in her first interview she is lucky to be alive. And this: “In the longer term, I hope to return to Russia.””


Steve Herman on Twitter: “Yulia Skripal tells @Reuters that the recovery of her and her father after the nerve agent attack has been slow and extremely painful. She says she does not desire consular assistance from #Russia embassy.”


Park and shopping centre where Russian spy Sergei Skripal was found collapsed to reopen | Daily Mail Online

The park in Salisbury Wiltshire where Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia were discovered is to reopen after extensive cleaning. The shopping centre where the pair were found is also to reopen

Department of State on Twitter: “.@SecPompeo: #IRGC has cont. to pump thousands of fighters into Syria to prop up the murderous Assad regime…Iran perpetuates a conflict that has displaced more than 6 million Syrians inside the country and over 5 million to seek refuge outside its borders. #PompeoatHeritage…”


Senator Rubio Press on Twitter: “.@SecPompeo is right to urge civilized world, especially US allies, to maximize pressure on #Iran.Using flawed nuclear deal’s financial windfall, Iranian regime boosted terrorists & Assad’s dictatorship in Syria & is complicit in the worst humanitarian & refugee crisis since WWII…”


Pompeo: We expect Iran to behave the way normal nations behave – Israel National News

Secretary of State says the demands he made of Iran are not difficult to implement.

Pompeo says he merely asked Iran to ‘behave like a normal nation’ | The Times of Israel

US secretary of state rejects claims that his demands set this week are a ‘fantasy;’ is ‘confident’ sanctions can be coordinated with Europe

Mike Pompeo claims Iran carrying out ‘assassination operations’ in Europe | US news | The Guardian

The statement bewildered security experts and Iranian exiles, who say they are not aware of any evidence for the allegation

Pompeo’s ‘Plan B’ for Iran could put lead US into war

There are three key problems in Pompeo’s “Plan B” speech which, if not corrected, will gravely undermine Americans’ security.

Iran leader assails U.S., says can’t be trusted to keep agreements

By Bozorgmehr Sharafedin LONDON (Reuters) – Iran’s Supreme leader on Wednesday fired a fresh broadside at Washington’s rejection of a nuclear agreement with Tehran, saying its action showed the Islamic Republic could not deal with a country that did not keep its commitments. In his first public

Iran steps up broadsides against U.S., Syria signals Iran won’t leave | Reuters

Iran on Wednesday launched a fresh barrage of criticism at U.S. demands for sweeping change in its foreign policy and nuclear programme, and Tehran’s ally Damascus flatly dismissed a U.S. call for a withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria.

Iranian officials split over response to U.S. demands | Reuters

For all of Iran’s fierce verbal response to fresh U.S. threats of tougher sanctions, some senior officials in Tehran believe the door to diplomacy should stay open.

Who does Pompeo think he is kidding? – Tehran Times

Mike Pompeo, the new U.S. Secretary of State in the Trump administration, has this week made radical demands upon the sovereign and significant and thousands of year old state of Iran (or Persia, as you will) and its 90 or so million people that, in effect, can either make a sane and reasonable person do one of two things, or both: Be rolled with uncontrollable laughter and/or curled up into a ball of lachrymose despair. And I alone, as a U.S. citizen, am not alone in thinking so inside the U.S.

Pompeo’s speech unites Iranian media, politicians

Iranian media and officials roundly rejected and ridiculed demands made on Tehran by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a speech.

Iran seen to hang on to nuclear deal amid US sanctions, threats | News | Al Jazeera

Analysts say Tehran needs tangible guarantees from Europe to protect businesses from being hit by American sanctions.

Iran slams U.S. sanctions push, Syria rejects idea of Iranian withdrawal | Reuters

Iran on Wednesday kept up a drumbeat of opposition to U.S. demands for sweeping change in its foreign policy and nuclear program, and Tehran’s ally Damascus dismissed out of hand a U.S. call for a withdrawal of Iranian forces from Syria.

Doubts Emerge Over EU Attempts to Counter U.S.-Iran Sanctions Threat – Bloomberg

European Union efforts to circumvent U.S. sanctions on companies with business in Iran showed signs of unraveling as some member states questioned whether measures to counteract the penalties would do more harm than good.

Syrian official rejects US demand for Iranian withdrawal | Fox News

Syria has dismissed American calls for the withdrawal of Iranian troops and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah from the war-torn country.

Trump factor leaves Macron scrambling ahead of Russia trip | Reuters

Emmanuel Macron heads to St Petersburg on Thursday seeking to win concessions from Vladimir Putin, but with Europe-U.S. ties strained over Iran, the Russian leader may have little incentive to offer the French president a diplomatic success.

In the Middle East, Putin Talks, BS Walks

Moscow’s opportunistic approach to Middle East diplomacy won’t stop a cataclysmic war, and might make it more likely. Meanwhile the Americans look belligerent—and clueless.

Jennifer Rubin: Aim, bluff, lose: The art of not making deals – The Salt Lake Tribune

Trump, the spin goes, likes to operate in chaos. That’s a convenient excuse for someone who has no idea what he thinks or what to do.

UAWire – Tel Aviv accuses Syria of firing at Israeli warplanes

The commander of the Israeli Air Force, Amikam Norkin, said that Syrian anti-aircraft systems fired more than 100 missiles at Israeli warplanes, …