Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

Salisbury CW Attack / Syria / Iran / Russia Ad Hoc Update (193)


Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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This is shaping up to be another week of crash and burns for the Russian propaganda machine. First, Russia crashes and burns in the OPCW, and then in the Interpol vote. Colonel General Korobov departs this world “after a long and serious illness,” whether the stated cause is true or not, a very common assumption appears to be that got help. The complaint to the Hague over the treatment of Russian PMC mercenaries, AKA“tourists / vacationers / volunteers” in the Russophone world, or “rebels / separatists / independence fighters” in Western mass media speak, is producing a lot of traffic, and drawing attention to increasing PMC proxy force effort. More on Russia’s campaign to destroy OneWeb. Davydov argues the Vozhd now believes Russia’s propaganda over fact, Eidman on Russia’s use of its church to support a retro ideology and culture (this is the new age flavor of the Batu Khan ideology). Updates on nuke doctrine and V-MF meltdown.

Updates on Iran, Syria, Turkey, Saudis, and related topics. More installments in  Jamestown’s Russia in the Middle East series.


Russian military intelligence GRU chief dies after ‘serious illness’ – MoD — RT World News

Colonel General Igor Korobov, who led the Russian Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU), died due to health problems, the MoD confirmed. He is the second GRU chief to pass away in two years.

The head of Russia’s GRU spy agency is reported dead ‘after a long and serious illness’ — Meduza

Igor Korobov, the head of Russia’s Military Intelligence Directorate (GRU), died “after a long and serious illness,” a Defense Ministry spokesperson told the news agency RIA Novosti early on November 22. Korobov was 62 years old. He served in the Soviet and Russian armed forces since 1973, joining the USSR’s military intelligence in 1985 and becoming Russia’s GRU director in 2016. According to a report by Sergey Kanev published at Dossier Center in October, Korobov reportedly started feeling unwell after a severe reprimand from President Putin in mid-September, following the exposure of an apparently bungled GRU operation to assassinate Sergey Skripal in Salisbury, England. For months, investigative reporters have pieced together evidence exposing the agency’s illegal mission in March 2018. At the time, Kanev’s sources speculated that Korobov might be fired before the end of the year and replaced by GRU General Sergey Gizunov, a St. Petersburg native who is supposedly known as “Putin’s eyes and ears inside Russia’s military intelligence.”

GRU Chief Dies After ‘Serious And Long Illness’

The chief of Russia’s GRU military intelligence agency, Igor Korobov, has died after “a serious and long illness,” Russian media reported on November 21, quoting the Defense Ministry.

Russia GRU military intelligence chief Igor Korobov dies in Moscow today – CBS News

U.S. had blacklisted Igor Korobov, whose agency is accused of hacking U.S. elections, orchestrating a U.K. nerve agent attack and Olympic doping

Head of Russian spy agency accused of British poison attack dies | Reuters

The head of Russia’s military intelligence agency that the West has blamed for a string of brazen attacks died on Wednesday after “a serious and long illness”, the Russian defense ministry said on Thursday, hailing him as a “true son of Russia.”

Igor Korobov, head of Russian spy agency accused over Salisbury attack, dies aged 63 after ‘serious illness’

The head of Russian military intelligence, which is accused of orchestrating the Salisbury Novichok attack, has died.

Novichok spymaster DEAD: Russian GRU chief blamed for Salisbury attack and downing MH17 dies from ‘serious illness’ weeks after he collapsed following a dressing down from Putin for ‘incompetence’ | Daily Mail Online

General Colonel Igor Korobov had suffered a ‘serious and long illness’ and died on Wednesday, the Russian Defence Ministry told the state-backed Tass news agency.

TASS: Russian Politics & Diplomacy – Russia’s 70 requests on Skripal poisoning case left unanswered

London’s behavior runs counter to «all norms of civilized relations», the Russian Embassy said

‘Skripal, Hague!’ Browder full of ideas about why Russia suspects him of ordering Magnitsky’s death — RT World News

UK businessman Bill Browder, who Russian prosecutors say may have ordered a hit on his employee Sergei Magnitsky, has offered some explanations for why he is being accused.

Putin Mulls Russia Retaliation If U.S. Quits INF Treaty

Russian President Vladimir Putin has met with his top military officials to discuss a response to U.S. threats to pull out of a key nuclear arms treaty because of alleged violations by Moscow.

Russia Targets Kremlin Critic Browder With ‘Kafkaesque’ Poison Probe

Russian authorities have leveled new accusations at British-based financier Bill Browder, saying the vocal Kremlin critic is now suspected of involvement in the death of his associate Sergei Magnit…

Bill Browder Says Russia Accusing Him of Poisoning Lawyer Who Was Tortured in Prison Is Part of Putin’s ‘Vendetta’

The charges are the latest in the ongoing battle between American Bill Browder, who was once Russia’s largest foreign investor, and the Russian government.

UAWire – Russian politician: Mercenaries of private military companies may destabilize situation in Russia

The head of the committee of the All-Russian Officers’ Assembly, Yevgeny Shabayev, in an interview with the radio station Echo of Moscow, stated that returning from abroad Russian mercenaries, who have taken part in hostilities in different countries, cause a threat to the stability of the situation in Russia. “One of the most important problems in the army today is the creation of certain forces that were unknown until this time, which in fact, replace the Russian Federation security forces activities. These are private military companies or, as we call them, private military armies that are still operating outside the Russian Federation. However, we cannot exclude the possibility that they will act here because they are returning to the territory of the Russian Federation without undergoing rehabilitation. Their further actions, in view of certain conditions, can lead to the destabilization of the situation in the Russian Federation itself, “said Shabayev. According to him, the participants of PMCs, after the return to the Russian Federation, do not receive any rehabilitation assistance. “Due to the fact that the operational cost of private military companies is nearing zero, their number is growing. The market is developing, and the number of this kind of returnees is increasing. We can no longer control the situation, “said Shabayev. Earlier reports stated that fighters of the Russian private military companies appealed to the International Criminal Court in The Hague in order to organize an investigation into the PMCs management and owners’ actions. Later, the press secretary of the Russian Federation President, Dmitry Peskov, announced that this appeal is not the Kremlin’s but Russia’s Ministry of Defense problem.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Kremlin Rapidly Losing Control of ‘Private Military Company’ Story

Paul Goble Staunton, November 20 – Personnel of Russian private military companies, which are illegal according to Russian law, have appealed to the International Criminal Court in the Hague to launch an investigation into the organizers of the Russian PMCs and to seek regular protection for the PMC employees. Yevgeny Shabayev, a senior leader of the All-Russian Officers Assembly said that the appeal had been approved by 357 delegates from 52 of the federal subjects of the Russian Federation who represented 18 all-Russian and inter-regional veterans groups (svpressa.ru/war21/article/216559/). The appeal specified that Russian mercenaries “are taking part in conflicts in the Donbass, Syria, Libya, the Central African Republic, Gabon, North and South Sudan, Yemen and other countries of Asia and Africa” and that they have taken losses in these conflicts “numbering in the hundreds.” Shabayev pointed out that in July, the PMC employees had appealed to the Presidential Administration calling on the Kremlin to legalize their status so that they could gain the protections of others who are fighting for Russia. The Kremlin turned that over to the defense ministry which refused to budge, labelling the PMCs “anti-constitutional.” As a result, PMC employees who are fighting in Syria and elsewhere, he says, are at least formally engaging in illegal actions, even though they are doing what the government has contracted them to do. Today, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov stayed with that position, saying that “in Russia, there are no PMCs de jure” and that as a result, he would not comment on their appeal to the Haag but could say that “the issue is not on the agenda” of the Kremlin now (vedomosti.ru/politics/news/2018/11/20/786929-zhalobi-boitsov-chvk-v-gaagu). The PMC appeal and the Kremlin’s stonewalling is only going to increase attention to this issue and to Putin’s close involvement with it, especially now that his good friend Yevgeny Prigozhin, known as “the chef,” is on an African tour of the countries where his PMCs are involved (thebell.io/fikser-kremlya-10-stran-afriki-v-kotoryh-zametili-povara-putina/).

Putin `Chef’ Yevgeny Prigozhin Is Now Meddling in Africa – Bloomberg

The man indicted in the U.S. for interfering in the 2016 election is spreading Russia’s reach across the continent.

Paul Goble | Russian Nationalist Group, Acting as a Private Military Company, Worries Kremlin – Jamestown

Private military companies (PMC), which the Kremlin has used with success in Ukraine, Syria, the Central African Republic and elsewhere, nonetheless constitute a potentially serious problem domestically for Russia. If they pursue their own goals, they can challenge the government’s monopoly on the legitimate use of force and even threaten its control of key sectors. That is one of the reasons why the Russian Federation has not legalized them. But their rise, especially in the gray area of semi-legality, is now frightening the powers that be in the Kremlin who have turned to the Federal Security Service (FSB) in an effort to establish tighter control over one of these groups. In the last few weeks, the FSB, working together with the police, arrested several members of the E.N.O.T. Corp., a Russian nationalist organization that, over the last year, has succeeded in “transforming itself into a private military company. This is according to an investigation carried out by three journalists at the Russian website Daily Storm (Daily Storm, November 9). That this transformation occurred is no surprise given the Russian government’s willingness to make use of E.N.O.T.-trained cadre in Donbas and Syria. And the fact that the authorities are now afraid of the hybrid organization they have created is also hardly a shock. Naturally, therefore, the FSB made sure to conduct this operation as quietly as possible, given what some would make of it were it better known. On November 7, media in Ryazan (Rzyazan Oblast, 120 miles southeast of Moscow) reported that several people had been detained but did not give any details as to who they were or what specifically they were arrested for (Ya62.ru, November 7). The next day, the VKontakte social network page of the E.N.O.T. organization reported that those arrested were part of its private military company. The following day, it added that all those detained had been released and that the organization would seek to defend their honor in court (Vk.com, Noember 8).

A Tangled Web: Organized Crime and Oligarchy in Putin’s Russia

Mark Galeotti, The Vory: Russia’s Super Mafia. (Yale University Press, 2018). The vory, the professional elite of Russian organized crime, have roots that

Russia’s Security Agency Pulls Ambitious Satellite Internet Venture Back To Earth

With billions in investment, U.S.-based OneWeb has counted on using Russian-built rockets, and Russia’s launch facilities, to bring Internet service to remote corners of the world. Roskosmos has co…

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin Views World as His TV Portrays It – and Himself as Russia’s Savior Not Its Problem, Davydov Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 19 – Most commentaries on Vladimir Putin are based on the assumption that he views Russia and his role in it in much the same way as his critics, with Russia beset by many problems and himself one of them, Ivan Davydov says; but that is almost certainly incorrect. Instead, he views Russia as doing well and himself as the country’s savior. Unless that is understood, the New Times commentator continues, it is impossible to understand why he acts as he does or why he fails to act in response to challenges that others see but he by all indications does not. And to understand him, one must recognize that he is “the model viewer” of Russian television (newtimes.ru/articles/detail/172792). That is, Davydov continues, the Kremlin leader accepts as true what television presents; and television presents as true what he wants to believe in the case, a vicious circle that he is part of rather than, as all too many assume, something he puts out for others but in fact understands as false because he stands above and outside of. The main “theses” of Moscow television are well-known, the commentator says. “The motherland is surrounded by enemies and at their service are internal enemies, ‘the so-called opposition.’ The enemies are evil, they want to destroy Russia because for them Russia” is an irritant since it “preserves the healthy values which the West has long ago lost.” Further, its theses include the notions that “Around Russia is hell and chaos: in Europe, immigrants, gays and other liberals” dominate the scene,” for example. But “on the other hand, Russia under the wise leadership of Vladimir Putin is flourishing … and for citizens here, it is a paradise or almost a paradise and with each day it is becoming a happier place to live.” Many would like to believe that “the tsar” understands that this isn’t the case even if he wants his people to believe it. But there is no evidence for that conclusion, and there is a great deal of evidence that the reverse is true, that the president believes and acts upon exactly what his television puts out. Moreover, Davydov continues, “the president conducts himself not simply as a conscientious consumer of the propaganda pudding. Everything is even sadder: he looks like the old woman who, having heard a bit of bad news, transforms it into a long story about the approaching and inevitable end of the world.” He has done this again and again, taking snatches from Russian television ranging from reports that someone fighting against Russia in Ukraine spoke English and that the poisoners of the Skripals were private persons and expanding them into narratives that the English were fighting in Ukraine and that Moscow had nothing to do with the latter. That pattern forces one to “the obvious conclusion” that Putin either believes exactly what his television says or doesn’t bother to consider what he says in expanding upon it. “It is still unknown which of these possibilities is sadder for the country.” But of course, there is an important difference between the old woman spreading expanded rumors and the president of the Russian Federation. “The old woman is a view and only that. But the president is not simply a participant: he is a creator of that reality about which the television tells him and her.” And for such a man, it is difficult not to believe in one’s own mission and that he is chosen by God but of course not by the people, if the media “tells you about your greatness day and night.” It is perhaps no surprise that his head is turned, especially because “Putin in this scheme is the supreme priest of the abstract state” Vladislav Inozemtsev talks about. But such an identity between what television says and what Putin believes has another consequence as well, Davydov continues. It explains why Putin constantly seeks to deceive the leaders of other countries. For him, “this is simply a means to show simple people, even those highly placed,” that he is of “a different kind and calling” who can act differently than others. Consequently, the commentator says, “if we ask what Putin hopes for, the answer is the following: Putin places his hope in god. In the god which chose him for the defense of the abstract state. Strictly speaking, this state is his god. And that is really frightening” if one reflects upon it for a moment. If Putin were someone who was merely duplicitous, it would be possible to negotiate with and perhaps even reach agreement. But with someone who has become “the supreme priest of his own sectarian cult,” Davydov says, there is no such opportunity. “You are either bow down before his divinity or you are his enemy.” And he has in this situation, “the OMON, the army and the nuclear button.” Davydov might have pointed out that other leaders of major countries sometimes fall into the same trap even if they have a greater range of information to choose from in principle. They may choose to listen only to those media outlets that echo back what they believe and thus amplify their own views about themselves. And they too may create a kind of cult with their listeners, one in which the leader as he himself believes is special, beyond the usual kind of assessment and criticism, and to be worshipped not because of real successes but because of his willingness to rely on this distorted mirror of reality and even to lie, thus showing himself to be of a different order than others.

Window on Eurasia — New Series: Putin has an Ideology and It is Squarely within the Russian Tradition, Eidman Says

Paul Goble Staunton, November 19 – Many people believe that Vladimir Putin and his system do not have an ideology and point to the “schizophrenic” combination of opposites the Kremlin promotes as evidence for their conclusion, Igor Eidman says. But in fact, “there is nothing new in this” as far as the Russian ideological tradition is concerned. Putin appears to lack an ideology only because he appears to be inconsistent when he promoted both “a cult of Nicholas II and the glorification of Stalin,” for example. But the Russian sociologist who does commentaries of Deutsche Welle says that has been typical of a certain strain of Russian nationalist thought (kasparov.ru/material.php?id=5BF24ABC5E6AC). The White Emigration, for example, came up with a number of ideological trends “which attempted to combine sympathy for bolshevism and national conservativism, sometimes in the form of monarchism and clericalism. Among these were the National Bolsheviks, the Eurasians, and especially the Young Russians.” Despite differences, they shared in common, as does Putin’s ideology, “imperialism, anti-Westernism, anti-liberalism, hurrah patriotism, authoritarianism, and faith in a special path for Russia. For them it was not that important what the empire was called. What mattered is that it lives, develops and successful opposes ‘the eternal Western enemy.’” In the interwar period, these ideological trends were much affected by fascist ideas. Indeed, Eidman says, “one may call them para-fascist.” Putinism, which continues this very same tradition, has become a form of neo-fascism. “The Eurasians (especially the left wing of that trend) and the Young Russians were active sympathizes of Stalinism. It is no accident that some of them became Cheka agents, for example, the husband of Tsetayeva, S. Efron). Their ideas have continued up to our time and influence the views of the Russian elite.” According to the Russian commentator, “Eurasianism in the versions of L. Gumilyev and A. Dugin are popular among Russian siloviki. The church milieu became the preserver of the inheritance of the Young Russians. Their leader Kazem-Bek returned to the USSR at the end of the 1950s, worked in the foreign relations department of the church and was an editor of the Journal of the Moscow Patriarchate.” Indeed, at an earlier stage of his career, the current patriarch, Kirill said that “one must not only remember Kazem-Bek: one must study him.” A totalitarian ideology, Eidman continues, can be an important support “for systemic corruption. That was very much the case, for example, in corrupt fascist Italy. The corrupt higher ups need a state ideology in order to hold the population in obedience to itself” – and this is why Putin pushes this ideology ever more frequently in the media, schools and the military.

Russian MiG-31 fighter jets stuck in civilian airport – Defence Blog

Up for five days, a four Russian MiG-31 supersonic interceptor aircraft cannot fly away from the civilian airport in Usinsk, Komi. According to Lenta.ru, the airmen of interceptor aircraft are waiting for refueling to continue its mission and return to home base. “The aircraft will leave the airport after the necessary maintenance. It is worth noting that for the first time our airport received this type of aircraft, ”a source at the city’s airport explained. On November 15, due to weather conditions, four MiG-31 fighter jets of Russian Aerospace Forces was forced to make an emergency landing in Usinsk, before reaching Vorkuta. Now the crew of interceptor aircraft contacted the regional airline Komiaviatrans with a request for maintenance. The MiG-31 is a supersonic interceptor aircraft developed by the Mikoyan design bureau as a replacement for the earlier MiG-25 “Foxbat”; the MiG-31 is based on and shares design elements with the MiG-25. About 500 MiG-31s were produced until the early 1990s, of which 349 were the basic version. The MiG-31 can climb at a rate of 208m a second and has the capacity to fly at 3,000km/h. The ferry and combat ranges of the aircraft are 3,300km and 720km respectively. The maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is 46,200kg. The cruise range and wing loading capacities are 1,620m and 665kg/m² respectively, while the maximum g-load is 5g.

Russian Lawmakers Recommend Nuclear Doctrine Review

A committee of the Russian parliament’s upper house has recommended to the Kremlin to review the nation’s rules for the use of nuclear weapons, local news agencies report.

UAWire – Russia promises to retarget missiles if US base is established in Poland

The Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, Vladimir Kozhin stated that Russia promises a response if the US establishes a military base in Poland, RIA Novosti reports. “Establishing such a base in close proximity to our borders will, without a doubt, pose a direct and clear threat [to Russia]. Russia will be forced to respond to this,” said Kozhin. Frants Klintsevich, a member of the Federation Council Committee on Defense and Security, also stated that Russia is ready to retarget its defense weapons if an American base is created in Poland. Polish President Andrzej Duda during a visit to Washington at the end of September, proposed to deploy a permanent U.S. military base in Poland. In his opinion, this is the only guarantee of his country’s security against Russian aggression.

UAWire – Experts predict inevitable collapse of Russian Navy

Extreme measures will be required to deal with the critical problems faced by the Russian above-water shipbuilding industry, 3rd rank captain Maxim Klimov wrote on the website VPK.name. He claims that the “short-range ships are worn, outdated, and have effectively lost combat significance,” and that the “long-range ships are outdated, worn, expensive to run, and remain only a few units”. By the start of the 2020s, Klimov believes that this will lead to an inevitable navy “collapse”. The expert is also critical of the new projects and the upgrading of the above-water vessels. In order to deal with the mentioned problems, Klimov believes that the Navy and the defense industry “are in critical need of massive series of effective ships – both for short and long range”. In September, 1st rank captain Konstantin Sivkov said that the US Navy’s dominance in the ocean zone is indisputable. In March, the specialist noted that the American fleet has 12 times as many aircraft carriers as Russia’s, 6.5 times as many cruisers, five times as many destroyers and four times as many multipurpose nuclear submarines. In December 2017, the expert pointed out the inadequate number of “full-fledged combat capable ships in the far sea and ocean zones” in the Russian fleet’s possession.

Russian Firm Linked To Alleged U.S. Election Meddling Sues Facebook

A Russian-owned company linked to allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election has sued Facebook, after the social-media company barred it from its network.

Kremlin anger as West thwarts Interpol bid by ‘ex‑KGB man’ | News | The Times

Russia has lashed out angrily at western “interference” after Moscow’s candidate suffered a surprise defeat in his bid to become the next head of Interpol.Alexander Prokopchuk, a 57-year-old Russian interior ministry official and alleged former KGB agent, had been expected to win despite concerns th

The Kremlin Falsely Accuses US Senators of ‘Intervention’ in INTERPOL Vote

Members of the U.S. Congress belong to one of the three branches of the American government. Their opinions are a normal part of the democratic process, and do not constitute interference — and ce…

Interpol presidency bid: Putin critics rejoice at Russia’s defeat – CNN

Opponents of Russian President Vladimir Putin gave a collective cheer Wednesday, after Kim Jong Yang of the Republic of Korea was elected the new president of the international police agency Interpol at a meeting in Dubai.

Interpol Elects Its Next President From South Korea In A Blow To Russia | TIME – YouTube

TIME Published on Nov 21, 2018 South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang was elected as Interpol’s president on Wednesday, edging out a longtime veteran of Russia’s security services who was strongly opposed by the U.S., Britain and other European nations.

South Korean named Interpol president in blow to Russia – Los Angeles Times

South Korea’s Kim Jong Yang’s election was seen as a victory for the White House and its European partners, who had lobbied up until the final hours before the vote against Alexander Prokopchuk’s attempts to be named the next president of the policing organization.

Putin uses Interpol to hunt down enemies like me. Will the West stand by and do nothing?

The world is at last paying attention to Russia’s abuse of the global police agency

Interpol Elects South Korean As President, Passing Over Russian Candidate

Interpol has elected a South Korean as its president, defeating a Russian candidate who was strongly opposed by the United States, Britain, and other European states.

Interpol, Under Pressure From West, Rejects Russian Who Sought to Lead It – The New York Times

The international policing organization chose a South Korean as its next president after Western diplomats lobbied against Aleksandr V. Prokopchuk, a Russian candidate.

If Vladimir Putin’s crony takes over Interpol, we might as well put Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi in charge of the UN

On Wednesday, Interpol members will vote to elect one of two candidates: Kim Jong Yang a respected police officer from South Korea, or Alexander Prokopchuk, a Putin crony. This shouldn’t be a contest for any upstanding law enforcement organization. But considering active Russian lobbying of various means, it is highly possible that Interpol will select Prokopchuk.

Interpol: Russian Leadership Would Be a Disaster – Bloomberg

The international law-enforcement organization is dangerously close to losing its legitimacy.

Interpol Might Get A Russian President, But His Clout Seen As Limited

The potential election of a Russian official to Interpol’s presidency has outraged Kremlin critics, who liken it to letting the fox guard the henhouse. But Aleksandr Prokopchuk’s influence on the g…

Moscow Criticizes West Over Vote By Chemical Arms Watchdog

Russia is claiming that the West is seeking to turn an international convention on chemical weapons into a tool to pursue its own agenda.

Russian challenge to chemical weapons watchdog rejected

The global chemical weapons watchdog’s initiative to apportion blame for poison gas and nerve agent attacks survived two institutional challenges from Russia on Tuesday and is set to become operational next year.

UAWire – Russia offers Israel and US deal to get Iran out of Syria

At a closed session of the Knesset’s foreign affairs and defense committee, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Moscow had offered the US and Israel a deal: Iran will withdraw its armed divisions from Syria in exchange for an easing of sanction pressure on Russia,reported Channel Ten of Israeli TV, citing members of the Knesset. According to MPs who attended the committee session, Netanyahu said that Russia had proposed a plan to have Iranian forces withdraw from Syria in exchange for a relaxation of sanctions on Iran not only from Israel, but also from the US. Channel Ten notes that this proposal indicates a change in Russia’s position: earlier Moscow said that the presence of Iranian forces in Syria is legitimate. “For the first time, the regime in Moscow proposed a total withdrawal of Iranians from Syria, connecting the Syrian campaign to the tension between Washington and Tehran surrounding the nuclear deal,” the Israeli TV channel stated. The sources point out that it is still unclear whether the offer was made during Netanyahu’s conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Paris. Netanyahu reportedly called the discussion “fruitful and positive”. However, Putin reportedly told Netanyahu that Russia is not capable of independently handling the withdrawal of Iranian troops from Syria, and will need other countries to collaborate. Netanyahu also said that US Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey met with Kremlin representatives on November 8 in Vienna, and that Netanyahu himself had met with Jeffrey several days earlier in Jerusalem. The Israeli Air Force has repeatedly attacked Iranian facilities in Syria. During one such Israeli operation, a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft was shot down in friendly fire from the Syrian anti-air defense systems. Moscow blamed Israel for the incident, whereas the Israeli military claims it happened because the Syrian operators fired “haphazardly”.

U.S. Targets Iranian-Russian Network With Sanctions Over Oil Shipments To Syria

The U.S. Treasury Department has targeted six individuals and three entities that it says are part of an Iranian-Russian network providing millions of barrels of oil to the government of Syrian Pre…

Trump administration hawks putting US on course for war with Iran, report warns

Donald Trump has surrounded himself with hardliners in his administration who have openly called for bombing Iran and carrying out regime change, says a new report, which also warns of the possibility of a military confrontation being engineered through provocative action. Senior members of the US administration, which has pulled out of the nuclear deal with Tehran unilaterally, have vocalised its desire to destroy the agreement and cripple the Iranian economy in the process, the document prepared by the National Iranian American Council (NIAC) points out. The report holds, however, that there is a chance of averting a violent scenario following the American midterm elections, which have given the Democrats control of the House of Representatives. There are Republicans as well as Democrats who are wary of the hawkish approach of some of Mr Trump’s advisers, and a bipartisan approach may pave the way for the deal to be saved and even for Washington to rejoin it in the future. NIAC, an independent organisation which studies issues involving the US and Iran, reminds readers that the UK, France, Germany, Russia and China, the other signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) have all said repeatedly that Tehran is living by its obligations, as have the United Nations. The Trump administration’s stance, it has pointed out, has caused a serious rift with western allies who are now taking legal and commercial measures to protect international companies from US sanctions.

Iran Burns Trump With ‘Rake’ Jab: ‘Perhaps We’re Also Responsible For California Fires’ | HuffPost Australia

The country’s foreign minister skewered Trump for his “shameful” statement supporting Saudi Arabia.

US military to build observation outposts in northern Syria to reduce tensions with Turkey – ABC News

The new mission will not require additional American troops in Syria, Defense Secretary James Mattis said.

ISIS horror, mass graves in Syria, Iraq revealed – Washington Times

The brutal legacy of the Islamic State is only now coming into clearer focus as rebuilding efforts across Iraq and Syria uncover hundreds of mass graves and fully pull back the curtain on four years of unspeakable atrocities.

Two Decades After 9/11, Militants Have Only Multiplied – The New York Times

As many as 230,000 Salafi jihadist fighters are operating in nearly 70 countries, a study finds, underscoring terrorist groups’ resilience and American policy failures.

UAWire – Ukraine presents report at NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Kremlin’s ties to Taliban and ISIS

The Ukrainian delegation to the NATO Parliamentary Assembly (PA) presented a report on the Kremlin’s ties to Islamist terrorist groups. The authors of the report devoted special attention to the support provided by Russia to the Islamic State, the Taliban in Afghanistan, and Hezbollah in Lebanon, reported Iryna Friz, MP from the Petro Poroshenco Bloc and head of the Ukrainian delegation. “The Taliban is the topic of a separate Parliamentary Assembly report which will be brought up for discussion this session,” the politician wrote on her Facebook page on Sunday, November 18. The report cites evidence that Russia is providing the Taliban with weapons, and that Russian intelligence agents recruit radical Islamists in Russia and send them to fight for ISIS, organizing their transport to Syria. The MP notes that the core of ISIS’s leadership is comprised of former members of the Ba’ath Party, which ruled in Iraq during the Saddam Hussein regime, as well as former officers of the Iraqi army who received training from the Soviet Union KGB. “In the report there are many interesting facts, evidence and proof of such collaboration… As early as the 1980s, when Yuri Andropov was head of the KGB, they introduced the idea of using Islamic terrorism against the countries of western civilization,” Friz added, noting that this report is the sixth report presented by the Ukrainian delegation to the NATO PA.

Russia in the Middle East – Jamestown

There is an outpouring of reporting on Russian activities in Syria, and to a lesser degree other countries in the Middle East and North Africa. But until now, there has been no single effort to analyze the totality of Russian objectives as well as its instruments of power, tactics and strategy in the greater Middle East or their implications for US foreign policy. This project rectifies that gap by providing the basis and material for a multi-dimensional analysis of Russian strategy and tactics in the Middle East, bringing into sharp relief the depth and scope of Moscow’s strategy. The project will convene three workshops of published experts to address the hole in Western and, more specifically, US understanding of Russia’s goals as well as the pathways to the Kremlin’s success. The purpose of the workshops will be to bring to bear the best expert assessments on clarifying the full range of Russian objectives and the strategies involved in realizing them throughout the Middle East from various perspectives. Moreover, this project will explore Russia’s future political, economic and energy plans in the Middle East out to 2025, in addition to the implications for the United States. Finally, the project leaders intend to hold a Congressional Briefing on this strategically important subject, followed by a monograph of the analytical findings and implications collected throughout the entire scope of the effort.

Putin, Erdogan Mark Key Phase In TurkStream Pipeline

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan have marked the completion of the offshore phase of a gas pipeline underneath the Black Sea, the latest sign of growing c…

Some Saudi royals turn against crown prince, Reuters sources say

The House of Saud is made up of hundreds of princes. Unlike typical European monarchies, there is no automatic succession from father to eldest son.

‘Traitor! You will be brought to account’ — Turkey leaks quotes from tape of Khashoggi death | News | The Times

Turkey has begun leaking quotes from the audio tapes of the killing of Jamal Khashoggi inside the Saudi consulate in Istanbul.Haberturk, a Turkish news website, published the first quotes from the recordings this morning, although it has not released the audio itself.The website said the tapes revea

Saudi Arabia ‘tortured female activists’, charities say – BBC News

Human rights groups say the state electrocuted, flogged and sexually harassed detained activists.

Arrested Saudi activists tortured, sexually harassed: Amnesty | News | Al Jazeera

Rights group says activists arrested by Saudi Arabia this year faced sexual harassment and torture.

Trump’s manic statement letting Saudi Arabia off the hook for Khashoggi reveals a dark US secret | Business Insider

“America First!

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard eviscerates Trump as ‘Saudi Arabia’s bitch’

The Hawaii Democratic congresswoman made the remarks in a brief and blistering tweet Wednesday afternoon.

Treasury Right to Sanction Saudis in Response to Khashoggi Killing

The November 15 announcement by the US Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the designation of seventeen Saudis for their role in the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi should be commended. While the Trump administration has been delayed in responding to the murder, with the president slowly forming a “very strong opinion,” the sanctions demonstrate that the administration has not stood idly by. Given the need for continued cooperation with the Saudi government on counterterrorism, oil production, and a host of other sensitive issues, the Global Magnitsky (or GloMag in sanctions parlance) sanctions authority was a strategic tool to use as part of a response to the Khashoggi murder. Treasury’s use of the GloMag sanctions authority exemplifies precisely what that authority was created for—it is a targeted action intended to punish specific targets without broader negative implications. In the eleven months since it was established, the GloMag sanctions authority has been used to designate 101 individuals and entities involved in human rights abuse or corruption. While the malign activity of these targets was sufficiently abhorrent to warrant targeted sanctions, in many cases the United States continues to maintain diplomatic, economic, security, or other relationships with the host nations where these targets are located. The targeted nature of the GloMag sanctions authority renders it dynamic enough to impact the individuals and entities involved in human rights abuse and corruption without disproportionately impacting foreign governments, allies, or their domestic populations.

Trump signals US won’t punish Saudi crown pricne over Khashoggi killing – CNNPolitics

President Donald Trump signaled Tuesday that he will not take strong action against Saudi Arabia or its Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for the death and dismemberment of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

Trump says US stands with Saudi Arabia despite Khashoggi killing

In a lengthy statement, punctuated with eight exclamation points, Trump said that while “we may never know all of the facts surrounding” Khashoggi’s death, “our relationship is with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”

Denmark suspends Saudi weapon export approvals over Khashoggi, Yemen concerns | Reuters

Denmark has suspended future approvals of weapons and military equipment exports to Saudi Arabia in response to the killing of a dissident Saudi journalist and the kingdom’s role in the conflict in Yemen, the Danish Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

85,000 children have starved to death during the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen, says new report – The Washington Post

“Parents are having to witness their children wasting away, unable to do anything about it,” said the Save the Children report.

What’s standing in the way of an Arab NATO?

The so-called Arab NATO, a U.S.-led initiative, has the potential to address threats to the Gulf and the Middle East. So what is delaying the creation of such an alliance?

UAE fully complying with U.S. sanctions on Iran: official | Reuters

The United Arab Emirates is fully complying with sanctions imposed this month by the United States on Iran even though it will mean a further drop in trade with Tehran, a UAE economy ministry official told Reuters on Monday.

Briton Matthew Hedges jailed for life on UAE spy charge – BBC News

Matthew Hedges is found guilty of spying but his family say the verdict is based on a false confession.

Australian PM accuses Muslim leaders of denying threat | Fox News

Australia’s prime minister accused senior Muslim community leaders on Wednesday of “continuing down a path of denial” after they refused an invitation to a meeting to discuss the threat posed by Islamic extremists.

Australian PM’s ‘dangerous ideology’ remark irks Muslim leaders | News | Al Jazeera

In an open letter, the Muslim community says they are being held ‘collectively culpable’ for individual criminal acts.

 

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