Information operations · Information Warfare · Iran · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (111)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Russians playing more creatively in the Salisbury/Amesbury propaganda campaign.  Kirillova profiles Russia’s assassination targets. Pastukhov spells out the Vozhd’s mindset, while Illiaronov elaborates on regime characteristics vs. the West. Ikhlov maps equivalency to the European Fascist movements of the 1930s.

Update on Salisbury/Amesbury.

Iran threats continue, including threats to block of the Straits of Hormuz. Curiously a great many in the Western media blindly accept Tehran bluster as fact, they seem to care not about what the Soviets aptly labeled the “correlation of forces” in any Iran vs. US Coalition conflict (the drama is much more interesting than the actual facts). As much as the IRGC tries to model itself on the Waffen SS, fanaticism aside, they are simply not in that league. A feasible explanation for Tehran’s bluster is a replay of the Russian game – create foreign enemies, stimulate confrontation and war hysteria, or even start a war to distract the nation from the regime’s corruption, greed and blundering. Let’s assume the US does respond and annihilates Iran’s IRGC and military, and supporting industrial base and POL infrastructure,  with a few weeks of the well-executed air campaign. What is the regime left with then? Economic oblivion and a return to a medieval agrarian economy.

An excellent essay by the JP on the IDF’s kill against a Syrian Su-22 FITTER sortied against Israel in a high-speed dash from the T-4 airbase near Homs/Palmyra. Curiously T-4 was a MOB for the IRGC in Syria. The IRGC operates the very same Su-22 FITTER in Iran, begging the very real question of whether the kamikaze driving the jet was actually Syrian AF, or an IRGC “martyr”.

Novichok victim Sergei Skripal ‘breathes through a tube and can barely speak’ two months after he was released from hospital, niece claims

The ex-spook remains on a tracheotomy tube even after being discharged from hospital in Salisbury

Trump Reportedly Ready to Strike Iran Next Month as War of Words Escalates – Sputnik International

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Senior officials in Australian government believe that US President Donald Trump is possibly ready to strike Iran’s nuclear targets as early as next month, media reported on Friday.

Iranian Commander to Trump: You Will Start War, We Will End It – Sputnik International

Tensions between Iran and the United States have been mounting rapidly, with Washington trading threats with Tehran and vowing to impose oil trade blockade.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Who’s Most at Risk of Attack by Long Arm of Putin’s Siloviki? Kirillova Provides a Typology

Paul Goble Staunton, July 22 – One of the reasons Vladimir Putin and his regime are able to get away with so many of their crimes is that many in both Russia and the West tend to treat each one as unique rather than see the linkages that exist among them, be it subversion of other countries or even violence against opponents. That makes a typology US-based Russian journalist Kseniya Kirillova offers today on who in Russia or abroad is most at risk of being killed by the agents of the Kremlin, a typology that she admits is incomplete but one that nonetheless does provide the basis for a better understanding of Putin’s operational code ( The first category of people at high risk of being attacked by Putin’s agents are “turncoats,” people who have worked in the special services, the state bureaucracy, its propaganda arms, and thus someone assumed to have information that could be dangerous to the Kremlin, the Russian analyst says. If this desertion has attracted a great deal of attention, she continues, “the murderers will try in every possible way to show that their revenge can reach ‘the traitor’ even years later.” A second category of targets are journalists, bloggers or activists who have sharply criticized Russian foreign policy and “Vladimir Putin personally.” The level of risk within this group depends both on where an individual is located and just how categorical these commentaries are. Those who live in Russia are thus most at risk; those in Ukraine somewhat less; and those in Western countries, while still real targets, are less likely to be attacked except in extreme cases. These attacks, Kirillova says, may be delivered both by Russian siloviki in office and also by those who have been mobilized as adjuncts to them. In some cases, the latter is a greater threat. “The risk of beating is somewhat higher than that of murder, but that isn’t a reason for not taking the threat seriously.” A third category, the analyst says, includes those who work to expose “links of Russian or foreign politicians with the Russian mafia, compile evidence of the international crimes of Russia, expose offshore accounts” of Russian oligarchs and all such similar activities. “Even if you do not exert significant influence on public opinion, aren’t popular and aren’t too sharp in your formulations,” Kirillova suggests, “you also are in the zone of heightened risk which is directly proportional to the influence your work has on the objects of your investigations.” The existence of such threats, of course, “doesn’t mean that you should stop your efforts. More than that, their continuation may be at times the only morally correct choice. However such a choice must be conscious and if you live in a civilized country it is possible to inform the authorities about your situation.” And a fourth category of people at heightened risk, Kirillova argues, are those who focus on corruption at lower levels of the Russian system. On the one hand, those who do may in some cases help the Kremlin stage one of its unmaskings of corruption to win popular support. But on the other, regional and local officials may be able to orchestrate their own revenge. Indeed, such researchers may find themselves caught in struggles among Kremlin insiders and that may increase their risk of attack even more. Only one conclusion is possible, she says: “to be an opposition figure or simply an honest journalist in Russia is dangerous, and at times this danger may reach out to people even beyond the borders of the country.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin’s Vision and Goals Make Any Serious Agreement with Him Impossible, Pastukhov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 21 – Vladimir Putin has convinced himself that a third world war is inevitable and that to improve Russia’s chances he must do everything he can to weaken the West in general and the United States in particular, Vladimir Pastukhov says. As a result, no serious agreement with the Kremlin leader is possible. As was clear at the Helsinki summit, the London-based Russian historian says, Donald Trump has “underrated Putin’s ambitions, aggressiveness and dislike for America” and instead behaved like a realtor “who wanted to sell an apartment at any price to good buyer” ( But Putin is not “a good buyer.” He is a leader with a very different vision and strategy, Pastukhov says. “It consists in the fact that Putin does not need America: he does not seriously believe that it is possible to reach an agreement with America” because Russia doesn’t control the situation and that is the only basis he is prepared to accept for any agreement. Moreover, the historian continues, “I am not certain that he needs Trump either.” Certainly, at Helsinki, Putin behaved toward Trump in a way that can only be described as “trolling,” something that threatens Trump at home but introduces new and hitherto “unthinkable complexities into America’s domestic life.” That in turn means that Putin’s “strategic goal” is not to have “his own man in Washington” but rather to take steps directed at “the weakening of America.” Thus, Pastukhov says, “Putin perhaps consciously and perhaps unconsciously via this meeting in essence pushed Trump toward impeachment.” Before Helsinki, the London-based analyst says, he thought the chances of impeachment were “no more than 20 percent.” Now, they may be as high as 40 given that Americans are now talking about Trump’s behavior as treasonous, something that few were doing only two weeks ago. “Trump also understands this,” Pastukhov says; and it is for this reason that he wants to invite Putin for meeting in November” when “he will prepare himself as a genuine realtor for revenge. I therefore am not certain that Putin will or should go there because obviously that is what Trump wants.” Trump needs to take revenge before the midterm elections and upstaging Putin would be just the way to do that. In the absence of such a second summit, the president’s party could lose big in that voting and Trump could face a Congress far more ready to impeach him than is the current one. Putin has undergone “many stages of evolution” in his views about the world and how to deal with it.” Now, he has concluded that “a third world war is practically inevitable and that it is impossible to reach an agreement with the West.” Earlier, he didn’t believe in legal agreements. After 2014, “he didn’t believe in understandings” either. And as a result, the Kremlin leader “considers that Russia has one goal – to disorganize the West to the maximum degree possible” so that Russia can build up its strength. “By disorganizing America, he is weakening Trump and forcing him to constantly twist and turn,” thus preventing Washington from having any consistent and consolidated policy. Moreover, Putin understands better than almost anyone else the power of bluff. He knows that the USSR collapsed because Ronald Reagan talked about a Star Wars system he did not yet have in order to force the Soviet leaders to spend money they did not have so as to be able to counter it. “Today, it seems to me,” Pastukhov continues, “that the Kremlin has brilliantly after a quarter of a century adopted this same tactic,” using bluffs about “hyper-sonic wars and all the rest” against America. That is, he is creating a certain appearance of strength which in reality does not exist.” But that makes others nervous and ensures they commit errors. Putin’s strength, the historian says, is that he thinks in longer term ways than do his opponents and that he is “the heir of a great empire,” one that can be described as a “unique” one because of the enormous resources under its control and that will seek its revenge in a massive way. According to Pastukhov, “the West committed a colossal mistake in the 1990s and early 2000s when it gave the impression that this problem does not exist. It exists and how! And Putin is the heir of all this.” But in addition to that background, Putin has another source of strength that must be acknowledged. Unlike many others, he really is a leader “who has been able to group around himself an elite and transform it into a real pack.” As long as he has the resources and this support group, he will remain a dangerous player with whom no one will be able to reach a serious agreement except on his terms.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Regime Opposes and Violates All Seven Basic Principles of Western Civilization, Illarionov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 21 – Western civilization rests on what Andrey Illarionov calls “the magnificent seven” principles that its peoples have struggled for and institutionalized in modern times. Unfortunately, the Russian economist points out, the Putin regime not only stands in opposition to these principles but violates each and every one of them. He describes this unfortunate situation in present-day Russia in the following way ( · “Instead of the defense of human life, respect for human dignity and defense of individual freedoms,” the Putin regime is characterized by “harsh force, unceasing wars, selective murders of political opponents, and the mass murder of innocent civilians by the tens if not the hundreds of thousands both on the territory of Russia and beyond its borders.” · “Instead of legal equality,” the Putin regime has “created and strengthened hierarchical structures with a new nobility that aspires to be inherited along with the total irresponsibility of the bureaucratic powers that be before the citizens.” · “Instead of the supremacy of law,” the Putin regime has institutionalized “the supremacy of a government organized mafia.” · “Instead of a free democratic republic,” it is “a semi-totalitarian and repressive regime.” · “Instead of limited and divided state power,” the Putin system is based on “the concentration and monopolization of this in one set of hands, the KSSS (the Corporation of Employees of the Special Services).” · “Instead of joining a military-political union of free states or even cooperating with them,” the Putin system stands in “harsh opposition” to such an organization and seeks to organize other countries sharing its view to oppose those based on Western values. · And “instead of the defense of human rights,” the Putin system is characterized by “their mass violation in the form of harsh persecution of organizations and individuals who defends human rights in Russia and abroad.”

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Using Ideas from Fascist Anti-Comintern to Promote Comintern-Inspired Goals, Ikhlov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, July 23 – Driven by his desire to take revenge on the West for Moscow’s defeat in the Cold War, Vladimir Putin has adopted a strategy, one that has given him remarkable success: he is using many of the themes of the fascist Anti-Comintern Pact to pursue the foreign policy goals of the Communist International, Yevgeny Ikhlov says In Soviet times, the Moscow commentator writes on the Kasparov portal, Moscow condemned the West for “social inequality, racism, discrimination, militarism, and clericalism.” Now, it attacks the very same West for social programs helping minorities, its political correctness, and its lack of spirituality ( By so doing, the Putin regime has “firmly occupied that ideological niche which in the 1920s and 1930s the fascist and pro-Hitlerite trends occupied in Europe” and which the Communist International opposed. Then, Soviet propagandists “supported anti-war, left-wing and pacifist groups; now, [their successors] back racist and ultra-right conservatives.” The USSR argued that nationalism was being used by the imperialists to distract workers from the class struggle, Ikhlov says; but now, “for the Putin crypto-war against the West, support of nationalism and xenophobia is the most reliable instrument” be it in Greece, Macedonia, or “experiments like the simultaneous support of white and black radicals in the US.” But if the message has changed, he continues; the methods have not. They remain “’Comintern’” in almost all cases. Putin wants to restore “a ‘soft’ USSR” and expand Russian influence even more broadly and to that end wants to weaken Europe and the West in ways that resemble what the Soviets did. Putin wants Russia Today to promote these ideas just as Soviet agitprop did, and he seeks to create pro-Putin forces in the West not only by this ideological tool but also by corrupting political movements and political leaders, directly or indirectly, so that they will contribute to the achievement of his goals. Those are the tactics he has used in Brexit, with Donald Trump, and with European politicians; and it must be acknowledged that with this combination of new messages and old techniques, Putin has achieved successes that his Soviet predecessors could never even have dreamed of. As a result, today the West is faced “with the most serious challenge” to its domination in the post-war period. During the Cold War, the Communist Party of the US was a marginal group at least after 1948, but now Moscow is able to use the National Rifle Association and the Nixon Center for its purposes. “If it were not for the economic collapse” of Russia, Ikhlov continues, “Putin really could stand over the world by having shown that the KGB could deal with the organization of world expansion better than the CPSU Central Committee.” His combination Anti-Comintern messages with Comintern means can slow his country’s decline; but they can’t stop it.

Police Can’t State Whether There Is More Novichok In Wiltshire. | Kfm Radio

Detectives investigating the nerve agent attack in Wiltshire in the UK say they can’t guarantee there isn’t more Novichok out there. It’s after Charlie Rowley – who survived being poisoned – admitted he’s still unsure where he found it.

Boots CCTV footage was seized as it could help in Novichok murder investigation

Gas masked RAF soldiers swooped into Amesbury, Wiltshire and seized CCTV footage from a local Boots store. The footage could aide the investigation of murdered Dawn Sturgess, 44, who died after being exposed to Russian nerve agent Novichok.

Nerve agent victim describes ‘oily substance’ disguised as perfume that killed his girlfriend when he unwittingly gave it to her as a gift

Charlie Rowley, one of the victims in the latest nerve agent attack in England, said that the poison came from what he thought was an unused perfume bottle. This account squares with a theory that the couple were collateral damage from the assassination attempt on former Russian spy Sergei Skripal.

🇮🇷 🇺🇸 Iran defends blocking Strait of Hormuz as defensive strategy | Al Jazeera English – YouTube

Al Jazeera English Published on Jul 24, 2018 A senior Iranian national security official has told Al Jazeera the United States is the biggest threat to Iranian national security. While Iran does not want direct confrontation with the US, Naghavi Hosseini says blocking the Strait of Hormuz is a part of the Iranian government’s defensive strategy. Al Jazeera’s Zein Basravi reports from Tehran.

Can Iran Crash Oil Markets By Blockading The Strait Of Hormuz?

Iran is once again threatening to blockade the Strait of Hormuz, a strategic oil chokepoint which sees 30 percent of global seaborne oil trade.

Oil Rises After Saudi Tankers Attacked – WSJ

Crude prices rose after Saudi Arabia halted shipments through a Red Sea waterway, in the latest sign of tensions flaring in the Middle East disrupting oil flows.

Iranian attacks on US interests in the Gulf more likely than ever 

Tehran can further mobilize proxies in the region, instigate confrontations with U.S. vessels in the Gulf, and draw on its increasingly sophisticated arsenal of cyber capabilities in retaliation to Washington’s oil sanctions.

Iranian commander Soleimani to Trump: ‘If you begin the war, we will end it’

The outburst is viewed as a direct response to a tweet from the U.S. president.

Iran’s special forces chief warns Trump: ‘If you begin the war, we will end it’ – AOL News

A powerful commander of Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday Donald Trump should address any threats against Tehran directly to him.

Iran’s top general responds to Trump’s threat of war: “we are ready” – VICE News

“Trump’s language is still the ethics of nightclubs and gambling halls.”

Iran just threatened the US in very specific terms. Here’s how the US must respond

The Trump administration must now prepare for near-term Iranian terrorist attacks against the U.S. homeland, because the leader of Iran’s revolutionary guards, or IRGC, external action force gave a very aggressive speech on Thursday.

Iran warns US that it has forces ‘in places you cannot think’ | Financial Times

‘Come on! We are waiting for you’, says general as Tehran ramps up war of words

Iran news: We are ready for war, Iran threatens Trump | World | News |

IRAN’S special forces chief yesterday laid down the gauntlet to Donald Trump declaring “we are a nation of martyrdom and await you”.

Claims President Trump about to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities denied by Australian PM | World | News |

FEARS President Trump will order the bombing of Iran as early as next month with the help of British intelligence have sought to be quashed by Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, who says there is “no reason” to believe such an act will take place.

Commentary: How to avoid U.S.-Iran conflict – and perhaps save the nuclear deal | Reuters

While the world has been focusing on Donald Trump’s summits with NATO and Russia’s Vladimir Putin, tensions are escalating dangerously between Washington and Tehran. On Sunday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani cautioned his U.S. counterpart not to “play with the lion’s tail.” Using the harshest words of his presidency, Rouhani told a gathering of Iranian diplomats that “America should know peace with Iran is the mother of all peace, and war with Iran is the mother of all wars.” Trump responded by tweeting that Iran should “NEVER EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN.”

John Schindler on Twitter: “ICYMI ===> If you think Trump’s rage-tweets about war with Iran are no big deal, I have some bad news for you. If the Trump WH proceeds with its stated plan to destroy Iran’s economy….look out. Let’s stop Operation PERSIAN FREEDOM before it starts.”

Will Someone Please Tell Trump to Stop Tweeting War Threats to Iran? | Observer

What the Trump administration is doing now is more dangerous than anything Tehran has done in recent decades to destabilize the Middle East. Although the White House’s aggressive posture toward Iran has been prominent from its first day in office, the president has recently upped the ante, with results that may prove catastrophic.

The American Public Really Does Not Want To Go To War With Iran

Nearly half believe that President Trump would support such a war, a new poll finds.

OPINION: Trump Has Acted Foolishly On Iran. Let’s Hope He Avoids War : NPR

Right now, the best we can hope for is that the administration manages to muddle through and avoid a dangerous and unnecessary war, write former senior State Department officials.

How the Neocon Plan to Destabilize Iran Will Blow Back on the United States | The Nation

A destabilized Iran would make post-invasion Iraq look like Disney World by comparison.

It’s Not Just Trump: Israel Looks to Putin for Help as Iran Tries ‘to Take Over Syria’ | CBN News

President Trump is not the only leader to engage with Vladimir Putin in hopes of effecting change in some world hot spots… Israel is looking to Russia for help to protect the Jewish state from its hostile neighbors.

Israel downs Syrian fighter jet with Patriot missiles – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

The last time a Syrian jet was downed by Israel was in 2014.

UAWire – Assad announces long term Russian military presence in Syria

In an interview with the Russian media, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reported that the Russian military presence in Syria is long term and …

Hundreds Died in Syrian Custody, Government Acknowledges – The New York Times

Syrian families have suddenly learned that missing relatives have been registered as dead by the government. Rights groups call it an admission that they were killed in prison.

Death notices for Syrian prisoners piling up as Assad prevails in civil war – The Washington Post

The government has released hundreds of such notifications as it prevails in the conflict.

How U.S. Yemen Policy Empowers Iran

If Washington wants to counter Iranian influence in Yemen, it needs to end its support for the Saudi-led coalition and throw its weight behind peace talks.

Trump threatens Turkey sanctions over pastor Andrew Brunson – BBC News

The US threatens a Nato ally with sanctions if it fails to release American Andrew Brunson.

Pompeo blindsided by latest Trump tweets | Euronews

Trump’s threats against ally were a surprise to Secretary of State Pompeo, who’s been trying to free U.S. pastor detained in Turkey.