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Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (125)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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More saber-rattling from Muscovy while the bottom continues to fall out of the national economy. Levada exposes further Sovietisation of the Russian populace. Shevchenko and Preobrazhensky on the dilemmas the Vozhd confronts.

No recent Salisbury reports.

The Tehran leadership continues its campaign of whining, while trying to saber-rattle – PM Netayahu was right when he said that market dynamics will sink the regime. State form a new task force to manage Iran policy.

Much on Turkey, especially what is now being described aptly as  “Erdoğan’s Turkey exposed as a Ponzi scheme”. Glick has a point – Erdoğan has invested much effort in poisoning relations with the West (and Israel). The sad and disturbing dimension to Erdoğan’s play is how much it resembles the NSDAP led “economic miracle” of the 1930s, all on borrowed money, when the money runs out, create conflict so the public ignores the real culprits. Turkey may suffer for decades as a result of Erdoğan’s self-interest driven politics, just as Germany did.

More on Syria.

Russia begins check of combat readiness of forces –

Russia has suddenly begun checking the combat readiness in the formations and military units of Central and Eastern Military Districts, Long-range Air Force and Military Transport Aviation under the order of the Russian President Vladimir Putin, as Sergey Shoygu, Russia’s Defence Minister, said, Interfax reports. “Today, at 5 am Moscow time, according to the decision of Commander-in-Chief of Russian Armed Forces on a regular basis the military administration bodies along with the formations and military units of Central and Eastern Military Districts, Long-range Air Force and Military Transport Aviation started the implementation of actions to bring the forces in a high level of military-combat readiness,” news agency quotes Shoygu.

Washington to respond to meddling with offensive cyber operations – Trump adviser | UNIAN

Donald Trump’s National Security Adviser John Bolton says the United States protects the country against election meddling, including with the use of defensive and offensive cyber tools available. The official noted that vulnerable systems both in the government and private sectors require protection.

‘The New Greatness’ — Young Terrorists Or Victims Of Setup?

Two teenage girls charged with plotting to overthrow the Russian government were transfered from detention to house arrest. An agent for the FSB security service was a key organizer in their group.

Jailed Russian Opposition Activist Continues Hunger Strike In Hospital

The jailed leader of Russia’s opposition Levy Front (Left Front) movement, Sergei Udaltsov, is continuing a hunger strike after being rushed to a hospital on August 19 after being diagnosed with de…

Hunger-Striking Russian Opposition Activist Hospitalized While Serving Jail Term

The jailed leader of Russia’s opposition Levy Front (Left Front) movement, Sergei Udaltsov, has been hospitalized, observers and his social media channels say.

The girls have gone free, but what about Dima? Russian extremism case suspect begs for help, as co-defendants are released on house arrest — Meduza

Anna Pavlikova and Maria Dubovik, the two teenage women locked up as members of the “Novoe Velichie” (New Greatness) extremist movement, went “free” on house arrest last week. Activists celebrated the news, but 30-year-old Dmitry Poletaev — another suspect in the case — has been in pretrial detention since March 16, and he’s just shared a letter with the OVD-Info human rights media project where he says he’s “desperate for any support, moral or financial,” to help him get out of jail. Poletaev sent the letter through his mother, who redacted some of the text.

Executives At Russia’s Energia Space Company Charged With Attempted Fraud

The deputy director and two other top executives of Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corporation have been arrested on suspicions of attempted fraud, investigators say.

Russian space executive, 2 others charged with fraud – ABC News

Get breaking national and world news, broadcast video coverage, and exclusive interviews. Find the top news online at ABC news.

Many Russians oblivious of Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968 – poll | UNIAN

Almost 50% of Russians are unaware of the invasion of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia, which put an end to Prague Spring reforms, that’s according to a research conducted by a non-government Levada Center on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact forces on August 21, 1968. Survey results indicate a return to a Brezhnev-spirit propaganda and “stereotypes of the Soviet period.” Almost 50% of Russians are unaware of the invasion of Soviet troops in Czechoslovakia, which put an end to Prague Spring reforms, that’s according to a research conducted by a non-government Levada Center on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Warsaw Pact forces on August 21, 1968. Excerpts from the study were published on Sunday, August 19, by the British newspaper The Guardian, reports. According to the Center’s director, sociologist Lev Gudkov, the outcome of the poll indicate a return to a Brezhnev-spirit propaganda and “stereotypes of the Soviet period.” More than a third of the respondents (36%) opined that the invasion had been justified, and the Soviet Union had definietely or highly probably been right when deploying troops to the former Czechoslovakia. Another 45% found it difficult to assess said events – compared to 2003, this figure grew by 11%.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Must Choose between Strategy of Nicholas II and Strategy of Stalin, Shevchenko Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 17 – Russia now is in a state of war with the West, and Vladimir Putin must choose between the strategy of Nicholas II or that of Joseph Stalin, between one that made concessions at home and abroad only to end in disaster and a second that tightened the screws at home and launched new attacks abroad, according to Maksim Shevchenko. The left of center commentator says that conflicts within the United States now “threaten the Russian Federation with serious problems,” not because of some deep-seated Russophobia but rather because the US no longer views Russia as an equal competitor but rather as a marginal country ( From the US perspective, he continues, “Yeltsin-Putin Russia is too weak” to oppose Washington for long; and the new sanctions now being introduced will “paralyze the Russian financial system,” and end the access of Russian firms to Western financial markets. And that leads to “the impoverishment of the people and the rule of criminal oligarchic-bureaucratic groups.” Not surprisingly, Putin’s ratings are falling because however much television claims the people support him, in reality the situation is very different. The people are angry and “today are practically beyond the control of the bureaucracy, the media and the parties.” Only the KPRF remains a real power, Shevchenko says, one that could serve as new base of support for Putin, “but a shift to an open union with the Stalinist KPRF would mean a break with Yeltsinism and the West. This is a difficult choice for Putin, but he now must make some difficult choices. He faces two options, Shevchenko says, and neither is entirely attractive. On the one hand, he could “fall to his knees and admit his defeat, which would be death for the entire Putin entourage. And they it is certain know this perfectly well.” But the pro-Western part of his ruling group and some of the oligarchs want exactly that. But on the other, Putin could decide on a very different course: He could “make a radical shift in domestic politics, minimizing the influence of American-connected liberal-Western democrats … conduct radical social reforms in the interests of the people … leave the WTO, introduce protectionist measures … and stimulate domestic production.” To do so, he would have to rely on “left of center and patriotic forces.” And the Kremlin leader would need to launch a far more aggressive attack abroad on the weak points of American influence in the Middle East and elsewhere and recover Russian interests and control in the former Soviet space. Doing this would be “impossible” if Putin were to continue “the anti-people social and financial policy within the country.” He needs to take these steps because “without the return of the real support of the people,” the kind one gets in a popular war and not in an unpopular peace, Russia won’t be able to recover and advance. Over the last century, Russia has had a leader who chose to play at democracy at home and make compromises abroad and another who did not do either but rather built power at home an abroad. What strategy will Putin choose? That of Nicholas II or that of Joseph Stalin? On this depends “the future of the country and of millions of its citizens.” Given that a new world war is “already going on,” Putin must choose soon and choose the right option, Shevchenko continues.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Three Conflicts Rumored to Be Going On at Top of Power Vertical, Preobrazhensky Says

Paul Goble Staunton, August 17 – Within the top leadership of the Russian powers that be, Ivan Preobrazhensky says, at least three distinct conflicts appear to have broken out in recent weeks. They appear to be intensifying, rumors suggest; but they have not reached the point at which any or all of them could come together and challenge Vladimir Putin. The first is between those who favor a more tolerant line toward demonstrators and those who believe that the force structures should stifle any protest no matter how apparently innocent and unthreatening it may appear to be, the Rosbalt commentator says. Their conflict was on view this week ( The authorities decided to allow the Mother’s March to go ahead without interference, but even as that happened, law enforcement officers approached organizers and warned against such demonstrations. “This is like schizophrenia on the part of the authorities where one hand doesn’t know what the other is doing.” Rumors are circulating, Preobrazhensky says, that this confusion “is the result of a conflict within ‘the power vertical’” between one group that doesn’t want to cause more problems by being repressive and another that believes that repression is the only thing that will work. The first includes not just “so-called ‘systemic liberals,’ but also siloviki who do not want those ‘lower down’ to finally forget about laws and work only, as they say in Russia,’ according to understandings.” The second in turn includes both those who favor repression as such and also those who have used repression to advance themselves and don’t want to lose that “lift.” A second conflict within the ruling elite concerns the issue of raising the pension age. Some want to back down in the face of public opposition lest they provoke more protests, while others like Vyacheslav Volodin appear to be doubling down, threatening to eliminate pensions altogether if Russians don’t go along with the original pension plan. And a third conflict involves fighting over increasingly scare resources, Preobrazhensky says, pointing to the suggestion that the government should tax the super profits of some raw materials suppliers with the latter going to the mat within the halls of government to oppose that threat to their wealth. How this or the other conflicts will play out remains to be seen, but with regard to a new attack on business, the end game is likely to involve the use of siloviki against opponents. And those who win as a result, Preobrazhensky says, will end up being in an even stronger position than they are today.

US Enters Its Next Phase in Its Strategy to Pressure Iran – Defense One

The State Department’s Iran Action Group will mostly focus on “nukes, terrorism, and the detention of American citizens.”

U.S. Secretary of State names Brian Hook special envoy for Iran | Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday named senior policy adviser Brian Hook as Washington’s special representative for Iran.

Pompeo launches Iran task force as US tries to shore up support for its pressure campaign – ABC News

Critics claim the change does little to boost the administration’s Iran policy.

Pompeo announces new US push to create “major changes” in Iran’s behavior – CNNPolitics

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced Thursday that the Trump administration is establishing an interagency task force aimed at cracking down on Iran.

White House Adviser Bolton, Netanyahu Discuss Iran ‘Aggression’

White House national-security adviser John Bolton says Iran’s weapons programs will be a main topic of conversation as he meets in Jerusalem with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Iran’s Economy Can’t be Shielded from U.S. Sanctions | The National Interest

Tehran has no real defense against U.S. sanctions.

World War 3 WARNING: Trump’s ‘risky’ Iran strategy could spark huge conflict, says expert | World | News |

US President Donald Trump’s approach to Iran is “fraught with risk” and could trigger a conflict in the region which could escalate rapidly, a US foreign policy expert has warned.

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the US of creating an “Action group”, which will have to carry out a coup d’état in the country –

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif accused the US of creating an “Action group”, which will have to carry out a coup d’état in the country. The head of the Iranian department wrote this on his official Twitter page. “65 years ago today, the US overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship & subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years. Now an “Action Group” dreams of doing the same through pressure, misinformation & demagoguery. Never again,” the minister said.

Iran says U.S. ‘action group’ will fail to overthrow Iranian state | Reuters

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif said on Sunday that a new Iran Action Group in the U.S. State Department aimed to overthrow the Islamic Republic, but would fail.

Iran Defense Chief Vows Continued Missile Efforts, New Fighter Jet

Iran’s defense minister says the country will continue to focus efforts on developing missile capabilities and will next week unveil a new fighter jet amid U.S. efforts to curb Tehran’s weapons p…

Iran announces new fighter jet | Daily Mail Online

Iran will unveil this week a new jet fighter and upgrade its missile defenses to meet threats from Israel and the US, Tasnim news agency said Sunday quoting…

In Iran, Official Spin Challenges Perceived Caspian Setback

Officials have sought to paint a rosy picture of a multilateral Caspian deal that some regard as heavy on Iranian concessions.

How Trump can avoid falling into Iran’s ‘yap trap’

President Trump recently offered to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without any preconditions to discuss issues of common concern. Supreme Leader Ali…

Iran tells EU to speed up efforts to save nuclear deal | Reuters

Iran said on Monday that Europe should accelerate its efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in May, as French oil group Total formally pulled out a major gas project.

Iranian foreign minister Zarif says US addicted to sanctions – CNN

The United States is addicted to applying sanctions on Iran, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Sunday in an exclusive interview from Tehran.

Sanctions and threats will not trigger regime change in Iran | Politics | Al Jazeera

Social and economic isolation of the Iranian people makes it even easier for hardliners to hold on to power.

The Iranian paradox made more complex by erratic US behavior | TheHill

The Trump offer for direct negotiations caught virtually everyone by surprise in Iran.

Iran says no OPEC member can take over its share of oil exports | Reuters

Iran told OPEC on Sunday no member country should be allowed to take over another member’s share of oil exports, expressing Tehran’s concern about Saudi Arabia’s offer to pump more oil in the face of U.S. sanctions on Iranian oil sales.

Iran looking for options on oil sales amid US sanctions: reports | TheHill

Iran is reportedly attempting to fight back against U.S. sanctions on its oil sales by trying to prevent Saudi Arabia from pumping more barrels.

Iranian spiritual leader sentenced for ‘insulting Islam’ | Reuters

An Iranian court has sentenced the founder of a spiritual movement to five years in jail, his lawyer told ILNA news agency on Saturday after he was accused of corrupting Muslims.

Caroline Glick: Andrew Brunson Case Proves U.S.-Turkey Alliance Has Been Over for Years | Breitbart

The best way to save Andrew Brunson is not to bow to Erdogan’s tactics but to make the cost of hurting him too great for Erdogan to bear.

It’s time for Turkey and Nato to go their separate ways – Newspaper – DAWN.COM

“IF the internal stress in the US goes on like this, the possibility of another 9/11 is not all that remote,” wrote columnist Abdurrahman Dilipak in Yeni Akit, a paper close to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his political party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP). Such threats and incitement may sound strange coming from a Nato member, but they have become the new normal in Turkey. In 2004, Metal Storm, a fictionalised account of war between Turkey and the United States, shot to the top of Turkey’s bestseller list. The Turkish newspaper Radikal wrote that “the Foreign Ministry and General Staff are reading it keenly” and “all cabinet members also have it”. After a US-based energy firm began drilling in Cyprus’s waters in Sept 2011, Turkish Minister Egemen Bagis warned, “This is what we have the navy for. We have trained our marines for this; we have equipped the navy for this. All options are on the table; anything can be done.”

The West Hoped for Democracy in Turkey. Erdogan Had Other Ideas. – The New York Times

Turkey’s descent into authoritarianism and crisis has destroyed whatever hope remained that the country’s president might serve as a force for moderation.

Shots fired at gate of U.S. Embassy in Ankara, Turkey – CBS News

U.S. Embassy in Ankara says no one wounded after unknown suspects in unidentified white vehicle flee the scene

Shots fired at U.S. embassy in Turkish capital, no casualties: police | Reuters

Several gunshots were fired from a vehicle at the U.S. embassy in the Turkish capital, Ankara, on Monday, hitting a window in a security cabin but causing no casualties, police and broadcaster CNN Turk reported.

Shots Fired At Gate of US Embassy in Turkey, But No One Hurt – Bloomberg

Turkish media reports say shots were fired at a security booth outside the U.S. Embassy in the capital, Ankara.

Turkey: Shots fired at US embassy in Ankara amid deepening row | USA News | Al Jazeera

No casualties reported after assailants fired shots at window in a security cabin in drive-by shooting, police say.

Turkish president Erdogan unbowed in showdown with Trump over pastor Brunson – The Washington Post

But a sustained crisis could harm Erdogan’s carefully cultivated legacy of delivering economic growth.

Trump rejects Turkey’s offer to release American pastor if US drops probe of Turkish bank: report | Fox News

The Trump administration rebuffed Turkey’s offer to release detained American pastor Andrew Brunson if the U.S. halts the investigation into Turkish bank Halkbank, the Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

WSJ: White House rejects Turkey’s offer tying pastor’s release to bank’s fine relief – CNNPolitics

The White House rejected Turkey’s offer to release an American pastor in exchange for forgiveness of billions of dollars in US fines on a Turkish bank, expressing that other matters would be considered only after Andrew Brunson is released, a senior administration official told The Wall Street Journal.

White House rejects Turkey’s offer on detained pastor: WSJ | TheHill

The White House rejected Turkey’s offer to release detained American pastor Andrew Brunson in exchange for the U.S.

U.S. Rebuffs Effort to Tether Bank Fine to Pastor’s Release – WSJ

The Trump administration rejected an effort by Turkey to tie the release of a U.S. pastor to relief for a Turkish bank facing billions of dollars in U.S. fines, telling Ankara other issues are off the table until the minister is freed.

Erdogan to Turkey: The West Is Waging ‘Economic War’ – The New York Times

Turkey’s president turns American actions against Turkey to his advantage, appealing to national pride and deflecting responsibility for the lira’s collapse.

Turkey’s Erdogan says to challenge ‘games’ on the economy | Reuters

A day after two major ratings agencies downgraded Turkey closer to junk status amid a currency crisis, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said he would challenge those playing “games” on the economy.

Turkish president blasts ‘economic coup’ amid heightened tensions with US | TheHill

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Saturday blasted what he called an “attempted economic coup” amid heightened tensions with the U.S.

Trump Signals Further Consequences for Turkey – WSJ

President Trump signaled that Turkey could face additional consequences for holding an American pastor amid an intensifying dispute between Ankara and Washington.

US-Turkey row: Pastor a ‘pawn in personal feud’ – BBC News

The diplomatic row over detained US pastor Andrew Brunson has split two Nato allies, Tara McKelvey writes.

Turkey court rejects American Pastor Andrew Brunson’s appeal after Donald Trump asks him to be “great patriot hostage” – CBS News

Turkish court rejects American Andrew Brunson’s appeal for release as U.S. and Turkey exchange new threats of sanctions

Turkish high court rejects appeal for US pastor Brunson’s release – CNNPolitics

One of Turkey’s high criminal courts has rejected US pastor Andrew Brunson’s request to be released from house arrest and permitted to travel abroad, according to Turkey’s state-run Anadolou news agency.

Turkey is reportedly prepared to release the imprisoned US pastor at the center of their economic crisis | Business Insider

Turkish diplomats are reportedly close to releasing an imprisoned American pastor who is at the center of a diplomatic crisis between Turkey and the US.

Is Turkey really looking for alternatives to the West? | Russia | Al Jazeera

Ankara is not interested in replacing its traditional partnerships, it wants to teach Washington a lesson.

Rundle: Recep Erdoğan’s Turkey exposed as a Ponzi scheme – Crikey

Those most likely to suffer from Turkey’s unfolding financial and economic crisis are the working class as always. Turkey is the latest miracle nation to come a cropper from the fact that rapid development – when conducted in wholly neoliberal terms – is always a Ponzi scheme.

Talking Turkey — just another phony boom gone bust |

Erdogan’s policies have facilitated the kind of economic speculation that only ends in tears in an emerging market

How Erdogan’s Push for Endless Growth Brought Turkey to the Brink – WSJ

The president set policy that let his nation gorge on foreign loans, granting his wish of a brawny economic expansion. Now it is paying the price. The economic turmoil shows how hard it is for countries to emulate China’s model of authoritarian capitalism.

Turkey Cut Deeper Into Junk as S&P Sees Recession Next Year – Bloomberg

Turkey’s credit rating was cut further into junk Friday by S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s Investors Service, which said the volatile lira and wide current-account deficit may undermine the Middle East’s largest economy.

Commentary: Trump’s botched Turkey policy | Reuters

The crisis between the United States and Turkey, a NATO ally and traditional bulwark of American policy in the Middle East, is serious. While the relationship between them has often been fraught, the two countries have generally managed to keep difficulties within acceptable limits. No longer.

Turkey rolls out first prototype of T625 multirole transport helicopter – Defence Blog

Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) has announced that a first prototype of the newest T625 multirole transport helicopter has been produced. According to the TAI statement, the first prototype of the new generation, twin-engine, 6-ton class helicopter came out from the production line during an official ceremony. The T625 is a new generation, twin-engine, 6-ton class helicopter developed in response to the growing market demand for higher mission flexibility in this class. T625 Multirole Helicopter is designed and optimized to meet and exceed the multi-mission requirements for hot & high geographical environments and for adverse weather conditions. The aircraft incorporates several new technology features to provide the highest levels of safety and operational benefits for operators. Within the scope of the contract signed between TAI-Turkish Aerospace Industries, Inc. and Undersecretariat for Defence Industries (SSM) in 2013, T625 Multirole Helicopter is being developed for both domestic and international markets. The prototype is expected to perform its first flight in late 2018. Also noting that serial production is expected to start after 2021.

Hopefully, Turkey isn’t the trigger to a global economic calamity | TheHill

it is all too likely that the Turkish lira crisis has been the trigger and not the underlying cause of the recent emerging market turbulence.

Turkish lira crisis poses additional risk to German economy: finance ministry | Reuters

Turkey’s currency crisis poses an additional risk to Germany’s economy on top of trade frictions with the United States and the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal, the German finance ministry said on Monday.

Trump’s fight with Turkey is helping Russia and Iran | Business Insider

LONDON – Late on Thursday night, the White House threatened further economic sanctions against Turkey if it fails to release detained American pastor Andrew Brunson.

There are three million Syrians trapped in Idlib. Where are they going to go?

We could be facing a new refugee crisis, and nobody is ready for it

Syria’s Last Rebel Stronghold Girds for Regime Assault – WSJ

Syria’s last opposition stronghold is bracing for a regime military offensive, after airstrikes and shelling killed dozens there in recent days and the United Nations warned of a possible humanitarian disaster.

Syrian civil war: Residents of rebel-held Idlib await Assad offensive

Fears are growing over the fate of civilians in Syria’s Idlib as President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian backers prepare an assault of the rebel enclave.

US supplied bomb that killed 40 children on Yemen school bus | World news | The Guardian

Eleven adults also died and 79 people were wounded from bomb that was made by Lockheed Martin and sold to Saudi Arabia

Laser Beam Attacks Bedevil U.S. Military Pilots in Mideast – WSJ

Hostile forces in the Middle East are targeting American pilots with laser pointers at a growing rate, imperiling aircrews and reflecting a problem more widespread and longstanding than the Pentagon has previously acknowledged.

Military pilots attacked with laser beams 350 times in last 7 months: report | TheHill

U.S. military pilots flying in the Middle East are facing laser pointer attacks at a rate higher than the Pentagon has previously acknowledged, according to a report.

Oil Prices Are Down. Nobody Told the Gas Pumps – Bloomberg

The high prices people are paying for gasoline will eventually squeeze demand for oil.