Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Mossad Has Long Given Marching Orders to AIPAC

by Grant Smith

AIPAC’s Washington policy conference next month is drawing intense scrutiny and unprecedented resistance.AIPAC has worked quietly for years to tripwire the United States into war with Iran. Soon it will “ask”Congress and the president to define “nuclear weapons capability”as the threshold for war, essentially demanding an immediate attack. Because Iran presents no military threat to the United States, many Americans wonder exactly where such costly and potentially disastrous policies are formulated. Recently declassified FBI files reveal how Israeli government officials first orchestrated public relations and policies through the U.S. lobby. Counter-espionage investigations of proto-AIPAC’s first coordinating meetings with the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the head of Mossad provide a timely and useful framework for understanding how AIPAC continues to localize and market Israeli government policies in America.

Although AIPAC claims it rose “from a small pro-Israel public affairs boutique in the 1950s,” its true origin can be traced to Oct. 16, 1948. This is the date AIPAC’s founder Isaiah L. Kenen and four others established the Israel Office of Information under Israel’s U.N. mission. It was later moved under the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The IOI opened offices in New York City, Washington, and Los Angeles, which became testbeds for working out how Israeli government leaders would promote lobbying initiatives through public relations harnessing the power and financial support of American organizations and supporters. Although the FBI nervously noted IOI founder Kenen had become a member of the Communist Party in 1937 while working as a newspaperman at the Plain Dealer in Cleveland, he was never the subject of a criminal investigation. Only because Kenen interacted with so many U.S. and foreign nationals who were targets of espionage, foreign counter-intelligence, and domestic security investigations (such as super-lobbyist Abraham Feinberg, Israeli diplomats, and assorted Mossad officers) did Kenen’s movements appear as cross-references in hundreds of pages of recently declassified FBI documents [.pdf].

Isaiah Kenen became a savvy PR operative working as the director of public relations for the Israeli United Nations delegation after he left the Plain Dealer. It is because of Kenen’s public relations acumen and contacts the IOI could insert Israeli propaganda directly into establishment U.S. media. One IOI Public Relations Board meeting held in the Israeli Consulate General in New York on May 9, 1949, pushed U.S. media initiatives aimed at boosting Israel’s economy. The IOI wanted to “place a series of pieces in from eight to twelve top magazines” including Reader’s Digestand Cosmopolitan by “making funds available for important propaganda programs.” New York IOI focused on “U.N., Organizations (Jewish), and the press emanating from New York” while the IOI Washington office covered “other embassies, Congress, Washington Press, and the National Press Club.”

It was during a July 18, 1949, meeting that Israeli Counsel Reuven Dafni informed Isaiah Kenen and others that Foreign Minister Moshe Sharett in coordination with Mossad founder Reuven Shiloah and Israeli ambassador to the United States Eliahu Elath had recently conducted a strategy session about public relations and “thrashed out” everything except for the question of funding. Kenen reported that his New York IOI was ready to go. The FBI description reveals that it was already functioning somewhat like a Mossad intelligence outpost. IOI New York was responsible for receiving information cables from Israel. “One member of the staff spent much of the day decoding and stenciling” the cables. IOI offices established secure communications crisscrossing the U.S. Dafni “reported that his [Kenen’s] office and the Washington IOI worked out a code so that classified messages could be translated.”

It is during 1949 that Kenen drafted a confidential strategy report about how the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs could implement Israeli policy initiatives and PR most effectively in the United States. The “Kenen Report” described how the New York IOI processed Israeli government information into news releases. IOI N.Y. “disseminates documents” into the U.S. news stream for the “general public,” noted the FBI. In September 1949, Kenen initiated“the distribution of a weekly news service … sent to Anglo-Jewish newspapers, Jewish organizations, and individuals.” The FBI noted Kenen’s strategy of having the Israel lobby media apparatus pay for favorable coverage. “The report further states that frequent conferences were held with representatives of the Jewish agencies and the American Zionist Councilto discuss public relations policies and techniques. It states how 104 National Jewish Agencies in New York receive releases and constantly ask for news editorial advice, feature material, and photographs and had cooperated in helping produce some of the more important publications by buying and distributing large quantities.” Kenen described core IOI functions, while foreshadowing his impending move to Washington. “He collects intelligence, meeting press attaches of other embassies, publicity men of national political parties, Congress and government officials….Washington is a city of personal contact. The Washington office is a goodwill and intelligence outpost for the government. It is not an office of information in the sense of production and distribution.”

Like the AIPAC of today, IOI was highly attentive to Israeli military objectives. In January1950 the IOI strategized how to effectively quash U.S. arms sales to Arab states. IOI Press Relations Board coordinator Moshe Keren “had discussed with Jewish organizations the serious situation arising out of Egypt receiving arms; that the balance of power in the Middle East was completely changed by this move and it would be advisable to contact the major papers.” Kenen agreed with the Foreign Ministry/Mossad strategy but differed on tactics. Kenen highlighted the advantages of a more indirect approach, suggesting that action instead be initiated at the U.N. Security Council or that an explosive news story be leaked that could overturn U.S. arms-sale policy in a way not traceable back to IOI. Kenen thought it might be dangerous to directly fight U.S. Cold War objectives of buying friends in the Middle East through arms sales. According to Kenen, it “would be difficult to get support from the papers since the question of armaments was part of the East-West complications.” The FBI report frankly categorized Kenen’s exchange as an example of “efforts being made by the Israelis to change the policies of the United States State Department.” A crackdown ensued.

The 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act required that Kenen and all other IOI operatives disclose their funding from the Israeli government and major propaganda programs. FARA also mandated that individual communications such as news releases, pamphlets, and even editorials be clearly identified as originating from the Israeli government or their designated foreign agents. The IOI wanted to fly underneath this radar. Beginning in 1948 the Justice Department continually cited IOI for incomplete reports and failing to even disclose the existence of a large IOI operation in California. The FBI forwarded to the Justice Department multiple examples of stealth IOI propaganda pieces that failed to display mandatory foreign-agent declaration stamps. Under pressure, Kenen decided it was time to go off the FARA grid and move to Washington.

Kenen formally negotiated his departure from the Israel Office of Information in 1951 as a bid to begin lobbying entirely through Israeli-financed U.S. citizen-based organizations. The major impetus was to more effectively push aid legislation, according to his autobiography. “Israelis began looking for a lobbyist to promote the necessary legislation … would I leave the Israeli delegation for six months to lobby on Capitol Hill? There were other questions. Should I continue my registration as an agent of the Israel government? Was it appropriate for an embassy to lobby? Embassies talked to the State Department, and American voters talked to their congressmen.”Kenen asked the Justice Department FARA office to de-list him as a foreign agent when he registered as a domestic lobbyist in February 1951.

Kenen ignored a subsequent Justice Department order that he continue registering as an Israeli foreign agent. Throughout the 1950s the Israeli-government-funded Jewish Agency in Jerusalem secretly paid Kenen by financing his newsletter, the Near East Report, which the FBI Washington Field Office characterized as “a violently anti-Arabic, pro-Israel, pro-Zionist publication”of an “obvious propaganda nature” [.pdf]. Under Kenen’s leadership, AIPAC established its own Washington, D.C., New York, and California offices, taking over so many Israeli Foreign Ministry functions that the IOIs became redundant and were eventually shut down. Kenen and Israeli lobbying organizations adopted a tactic of “reconstituting” themselves through new corporate shells in order to continue operations whenever they were threatened by public revelations of money laundering, espionage investigations, and Justice Department orders to register as foreign agents.

AIPAC continues to use many of the indirect public relations tacticspioneered by Kenen, albeit much less skillfully. A 2004 attempt to funnel purloined U.S. classified intelligence to The Washington Post in order to portray Iran as engaged in “total war” against the United States backfired, leading to Espionage Act indictments against AIPAC employees and an embarrassing defamation suit currently in the D.C. Court of Appeals. A former AIPAC public relations director’s stealth attempt to have vocal think-tank critics of the Israel lobby fired also fizzled due to broad exposure of the plot on the Internet. Today the constant reverberations of AIPAC’s drumbeat for war emanating from mainstream broadcast and print media increasingly hit an obstacle course of debunkingand outright ridicule on the Internet. The Freedom of Information Act continues to put a steady stream of documents into the public record revealing how — just as in its formative IOI phase — AIPAC continues to function more as an arm of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairsand Mossad than a legitimate charity.

Though they tried, U.S. counter-intelligence and law enforcement officials failed to counteract or properly regulate AIPAC’s stealth foreign agency during the Cold War. Today the lobby’s pursuit of Israeli interests threatens to plunge the entire Middle East into war and burn the delicate tendrils of global economic recovery. Evidence of the Israeli government directing AIPAC today is self-evident as Shimon Peres and Benjamin Netanyahu crank AIPAC’s handles to winch themselves uninvited into U.S. election-year politics. It only remains to be seen whether sufficient numbers of concerned Americans will angrily rise from the sidelines to confront AIPAC before its foreign principals maneuver America into a disastrous war for Israel.

Comments Off on The Mossad Has Long Given Marching Orders to AIPAC

Filed under News

U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb

New York Times

Recent assessments by American spy agencies are broadly consistent with a 2007 intelligence finding that concluded that Iran had abandoned its nuclear weaponsprogram years earlier, according to current and former American officials. The officials said that assessment was largely reaffirmed in a 2010 National Intelligence Estimate, and that it remains the consensus view of America’s 16 intelligence agencies.

At the center of the debate is the murky question of the ultimate ambitions of the leaders in Tehran. There is no dispute among American, Israeli and European intelligence officials that Iran has been enriching nuclear fuel and developing some necessary infrastructure to become a nuclear power. But the Central Intelligence Agency and other intelligence agencies believe that Iran has yet to decide whether to resume a parallel program to design a nuclear warhead — a program they believe was essentially halted in 2003 and which would be necessary for Iran to build a nuclear bomb. Iranian officials maintain that their nuclear program is for civilian purposes.

In Senate testimony on Jan. 31, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, stated explicitly that American officials believe that Iran is preserving its options for a nuclear weapon, but said there was no evidence that it had made a decision on making a concerted push to build a weapon. David H. Petraeus, the C.I.A. director, concurred with that view at the same hearing. Other senior United States officials, including Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have made similar statements in recent television appearances.

“They are certainly moving on that path, but we don’t believe they have actually made the decision to go ahead with a nuclear weapon,” Mr. Clapper told theSenate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Critics of the American assessment in Jerusalem and some European capitals point out that Iran has made great strides in the most difficult step toward building a nuclear weapon, enriching uranium. That has also been the conclusion of a series of reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s inspectors, who on Friday presented new evidence that the Iranians have begun enriching uranium in an underground facility.

Once Iran takes further steps to actually enrich weapons grade fuel — a feat that the United States does not believe Iran has yet accomplished — the critics believe that it would be relatively easy for Iran to engineer a warhead and then have a bomb in short order. They also criticize the C.I.A. for being overly cautious in its assessments of Iran, suggesting that it is perhaps overcompensating for its faulty intelligence assessments in 2002 about Iraq’s purported weapons programs, which turned out not to exist. In addition, Israeli officials have challenged the very premise of the 2007 intelligence assessment, saying they do not believe that Iran ever fully halted its work on a weapons program.

Yet some intelligence officials and outside analysts believe there is another possible explanation for Iran’s enrichment activity, besides a headlong race to build a bomb as quickly as possible. They say that Iran could be seeking to enhance its influence in the region by creating what some analysts call “strategic ambiguity.” Rather than building a bomb now, Iran may want to increase its power by sowing doubt among other nations about its nuclear ambitions. Some point to the examples of Pakistan and India, both of which had clandestine nuclear weapons programs for decades before they actually decided to build bombs and test their weapons in 1998.

“I think the Iranians want the capability, but not a stockpile,” said Kenneth C. Brill, a former United States ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency who also served as director of the intelligence community’s National Counterproliferation Center from 2005 until 2009. Added a former intelligence official: “The Indians were a screwdriver turn away from having a bomb for many years. The Iranians are not that close.”

To be sure, American analysts acknowledge that understanding the intentions of Iran’s leadership is extremely difficult, and that their assessments are based on limited information. David A. Kay, who was head of the C.I.A.’s team that searched for Iraq’s weapons programs after the United States invasion, was cautious about the quality of the intelligence underlying the current American assessment.

“They don’t have evidence that Iran has made a decision to build a bomb, and that reflects a real gap in the intelligence,” Mr. Kay said. “It’s true the evidence hasn’t changed very much” since 2007, he added. “But that reflects a lack of access and a lack of intelligence as much as anything.”

Divining the intentions of closed societies is one of the most difficult tasks for American intelligence analysts, and the C.I.A. for decades has had little success penetrating regimes like Iran and North Korea to learn how their leaders make decisions.

Amid the ugly aftermath of the botched Iraq intelligence assessments, American spy agencies in 2006 put new analytical procedures in place to avoid repeating the failures. Analysts now have access to raw information about the sources behind intelligence reports, to help better determine the credibility of the sources and prevent another episode like the one in which the C.I.A. based much of its conclusions about Iraq’s purported biological weapons on an Iraqi exile who turned out to be lying.

Analysts are also required to include in their reports more information about the chain of logic that has led them to their conclusions, and differing judgments are featured prominently in classified reports, rather than buried in footnotes.

When an unclassified summary of the 2007 intelligence estimate on Iran’s nuclear program was made public, stating that it had abandoned work on a bomb, itstunned the Bush administration and the world. It represented a sharp reversal from the intelligence community’s 2005 estimate, and drew criticism of the C.I.A. from European and Israeli officials, as well as conservative pundits. They argued that it was part of a larger effort by the C.I.A. to prevent American military action against Iran.

The report was so controversial that many outside analysts expected that the intelligence community would be forced to revise and repudiate the estimate after new evidence emerged about Iran’s program, notably from the United Nations’ inspectors. Yet analysts now say that while there has been mounting evidence of Iranian work on enrichment facilities, there has been far less clear evidence of a weapons program.

Still, Iran’s enrichment activities have raised suspicions, even among skeptics.

“What has been driving the discussion has been the enrichment activity,” said one former intelligence official. “That’s made everybody nervous. So the Iranians continue to contribute to the suspicions about what they are trying to do.”

Iran’s efforts to hide its nuclear facilities and to deceive the West about its activities have also intensified doubts. But some American analysts warn that such behavior is not necessarily proof of a weapons program. They say that one mistake the C.I.A. made before the war in Iraq was to assume that because Saddam Hussein resisted weapons inspections — acting as if he were hiding something — it meant that he had a weapons program.

As Mr. Kay explained, “The amount of evidence that you were willing to go with in 2002 is not the same evidence you are willing to accept today.”

Comments Off on U.S. Agencies See No Move by Iran to Build a Bomb

Filed under News

Plot to Kill Putin Is Uncovered, Russian TV Reports

New York Times

MOSCOW — Russian television reported early on Monday that the Ukrainian and Russian intelligence services had in recent weeks acted jointly to thwart an assassination attempt on the Russian prime minister, Vladimir V. Putin.

The announcement came less than a week before the Russian presidential election on Sunday. Mr. Putin, the dominant figure in Russian politics, is seeking a return to the presidency, which he held for two terms before becoming prime minister in 2008 and which he is widely expected to win.

A report by the state-controlled broadcaster Channel One said that a band of would-be assassins were arrested in the Ukrainian city of Odessa. Authorities were alerted to the group by an explosion inside an apartment, and discovered that several of its inhabitants had been dispatched to the city by the Chechen terrorist leader Doku Umarov, Channel One reported. One man died in the blast, but two survived.

There was confusion about the date of the arrests in the case. Channel One said the suspects were arrested on Jan. 4, but a statement released by the Ukrainian security services this month, which made no mention of an assassination plot against Mr. Putin, said the arrests were made on Feb. 4.

One survivor, Ilya Pyanzin, told authorities that there was a plan to attack strategic sites in Moscow and then to stage an attack on Mr. Putin, according to the report.

Mr. Putin’s spokesman, Dmitri S. Peskov, said on Monday that an assassination attempt had been in the works, as did a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s security service. A spokesman for Russia’s Federal Security Service would not comment.

Critics questioned the timing of the revelations, just six days before the presidential election but apparently two months after authorities learned of the plot.

“This is a sign that the real leaders of Mr. Putin’s political structure, the people from the Federal Security Service, are trying to mobilize public opinion according to the logic that we are surrounded by enemies and that we have one decisive, effective and intelligent national leader that they want to destroy,” Dmitri Oreshkin, a political analyst, said on Echo Moskvy radio station.

“The timely disclosure of this conspiracy against this leader is a serious addition to the electoral rating of the potential president,” he said.

Channel One released what it said were preliminary details about the plot, including filmed depositions from two of the suspects.

“The final goal was to go to Moscow and attempt to carry out an attack on Prime Minister Putin,” Adam Osmayev, identified as one of the two surviving suspects, said in a police interview on Channel One. “There are combat mines, which are called armor-piercing mines. So it wouldn’t necessarily be a suicide bomber. The man who died, for instance, was ready to be a suicide bomber.”

Mr. Osmayev, who was reported to have lived in London for years, said that the group had studied the routes taken by Mr. Putin’s drivers in Moscow, and that it was actively preparing to stage an attack before Sunday’s elections. He called Election Day “the deadline” for the operation.

Channel One reported that Mr. Osmayev had revealed details of the plan and another plot that was foiled by Russia’s domestic intelligence agency, in 2007, in hopes of receiving leniency from prosecutors.

An official of the agency, who spoke to Channel One on condition of anonymity, said that investigators searching computer files found in the Odessa apartment had discovered video of several top officials’ routes through Moscow, among them Mr. Putin’s. The files noted the positioning of security guards, and the number of back-up vehicles. The official said detonators and plastic explosives had been brought to Moscow earlier.

“It would have been a decent explosion — enough to overturn a truck,” he said.

This month, Russia’s current president, Dmitri A. Medvedev, warned of possible terrorist threats coming from Russia’s volatile North Caucasus region before the election.

“The most important political event of the year is the election for president of the Russian Federation,” Mr. Medvedev said at a meeting with the heads of Russia’s domestic intelligence service. “It is obvious that there could be different reactions to this event, and it is not out of the question that in the period of the campaign the criminal underground in the North Caucasus could become active.”

Also this month, Mr. Umarov, who has claimed responsibility for numerous terrorist attacks including on subway stations and an airport in Moscow, called on his followers to refrain from attacks on civilians in light of a recent protest movement against Mr. Putin.

“The recent events show that the people of Russia do not support Putin,” Mr. Umarov said in a video on the Internet. “Thus, I order all groups carrying out special operations on the territory of Russia not to subject peaceful citizens to suffering.”

Channel One said it would release more details about the assassination plot later on Monday.

Comments Off on Plot to Kill Putin Is Uncovered, Russian TV Reports

Filed under News

Putin: An attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities will cause ‘catastrophic’ outcome

In article published in Russian newspapers ahead of a presidential vote next week, Russia’s Prime Minister says will oppose any UN resolutions on Syria that could be interpreted as a signal for military interference.


A military strike of Iran’s nuclear facilities would being about “catastrophic” consequences, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin wrote in a widely circulated article on Monday, published ahead of an upcoming presidential vote.

Putin’s comments weren’t the first time Russian officials expressed opposition to the possibility of military action in Iran, with Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov saying last week that “any possible military scenario against Iran will be catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations.”

“Therefore I hope Israel understands all these consequences … and they should also consider the consequences of such action for themselves,” Gatilov said at a news conference.

In an article published on Monday, the Russian PM said that his country was “worried about the growing threat of a strike on Iran,” adding: “If it happens, the consequences will be truly catastrophic. Their real scale is impossible to imagine.”

He said that the international community must acknowledge Iran’s right to conduct uranium enrichment in exchange for placing the program under close supervision by the UN nuclear watchdog.

Iran has insisted that its controversial uranium enrichment program is aimed at producing energy and medical isotopes, but the West believes it’s a cover for developing nuclear weapons.

“The West has gotten carried away trying to ‘punish’ some nations,” Putin said. “It reaches out for sanctions or even a military club at the drop of a hat.”

He said the Western emphasis on using force could encourage more countries to seek nuclear weapons in a bid to protect themselves: “If I have a nuclear bomb in my pocket, they wouldn’t touch me because it would cost them. And those lacking a bomb should wait a ‘humanitarian’ intervention.”

Referring to Russia’s longstanding rejection of UN action on the Syrian crisis, Putin said the West had backed the Arab Spring to advance its interests in the region, and that instead of promoting democracy the revolts had given rise to religious extremism.

The lengthy article, Putin defended the Russia-China decision earlier this month to veto a United Nations resolution condemning Syrian President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on protests, saying that Moscow wouldn’t allow a replay of what happened in Libya, where NATO airstrikes helped Libya’s rebels oust Muammar Gadhafi’s regime.

“Learning from that bitter experience, we are against any UN Security Council resolutions that could be interpreted as a signal for military interference in domestic processes in Syria,” Putin said in the article published in Moscow News.

He said that any attempt to launch military action without UN approval would undermine the world body’s role and hurt global security.

“I strongly hope that the United States and other nations will learn from the sad experience and won’t try to resort to a forceful scenario in Syria,” Putin said. “I can’t understand that bellicose itch.”

Activists estimate that close to 7,500 people have been killed in the 11 months since the Assad regime’s brutal crackdown on dissent began.

Putin said both the government and opposition forces must pull out of populated areas to end bloodshed, adding that the Western refusal to demand that from Assad’s opponents was “cynical.”

Syria is Russia’s last remaining ally in the Middle East. Moscow has maintained close ties with Damascus since the Cold War, when Syria was led by the current leader’s father, Hafez Assad.

Putin said that Russian companies have lost ground in the countries engulfed by the Arab Spring uprisings and are being replaced by firms from the nations that backed the regime change.

“That raises the thought that the tragic events to some extent had been driven not by concern about human rights, but a desire by some to redistribute markets,” he said. “We mustn’t watch that with an Olympian calm.”

Putin also accused the U.S. of using non-governmental organizations as an instrument of “soft power” aimed at destabilizing regimes.

“It’s necessary to draw a clear distinction between the freedom of speech, normal political activities on the one hand, and illegal instruments of soft power on the other,” he said, adding that U.S. attempts to interfere in Russian elections have strained ties.

The statement follows Putin’s earlier claims that the U.S. was behind the protests against his rule.

In Monday’s article, Putin again criticized the U.S.-led plans for a NATO missile defense system in Europe, saying it’s aimed against Russian nuclear forces.

“The Americans are obsessed with the idea of ensuring absolute invulnerability for themselves, which is utopian and unfeasible from both technological and geopolitical points of view,” he said. “An absolute invulnerability for one means an absolute vulnerability for all the others. It’s impossible to accept such a prospect.”

Comments Off on Putin: An attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities will cause ‘catastrophic’ outcome

Filed under News

‘US to announce aerial blockade on Syria’

US readies for possibility of intervention without UN resolution, Asharq Al-Awsat reports, citing US military official; plan to include humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees on Turkey’s border


The Pentagon is readying for the possibility of intervention in Syria, aiming to halt Syrian President Bashsar Assad’s violent crackdown on protesters, the newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday, citing a US military offical.

According to the official, the intervention scenario calls for the establishment of a buffer zone on the Turkish border, in order to receive Syrian refugees. The Red Cross would then provide the civilians humanitarian aid, before NATO crews would arrive from Turkey and join the efforts.

The measure would pave the way for the US to declare an aerial blockade on Syria.

The intercession is to be modeled after NATO’s efforts in Kosovo, which brought an end to the Serbian control of the region. NATO’s plan of action included prolonged aerial shelling.

The US’ diplomatic efforts have yet to yield an effective international resolution that would stop the bloodshed. More than 100 protesters have died over the weekend alone, human rights activists said.

Russia, China to join aid efforts?

According to Asharq Al-Awsat, the Pentagon does not anticipate a change of heart on the part of China or Russia, who have opposed foreign intervention or sanctions against Syria. But the US expects the two nations to join the humanitarian aid efforts, support a ceasefire between the Syrian regime and rebels and send special UN envoys to investigate the developments in the country.

The next step in the reported US Department of Defense plan would be to appoint a team of UN observers to monitor the humanitarian aid, and enter Syria. They would need aerial protection, which would eventually lead to an aerial blockade.

The military official said in the interview that the plan is a cautious one, and takes into account the Syrian air force’s advanced capabilities.

In his most forceful words to date on the Syrian crisis, US President Barack Obama said Friday the US and its allies would use “every tool available” to end the bloodshed by Assad’s government.

“It is time to stop the killing of Syrian citizens by their own government,” Obama said in Washington, adding that it “absolutely imperative for the international community to rally and send a clear message to President Assad that it is time for a transition. It is time for that regime to move on.”

As government troops relentlessly shelled rebel-held neighborhoods in the besieged city of Homs, thousands of people in dozens of towns staged anti-regime protests under the slogan: “We will revolt for your sake, Baba Amr,” referring to the Homs neighborhood that has become the center of the Syrian revolt.

Opposition groups reported that 103 people were killed on Friday by the regime’s forces.

Comments Off on ‘US to announce aerial blockade on Syria’

Filed under News

Iran defense minister: Attack will lead to Israel’s collapse

Statement by Gen. Ahmad Vahidi is one of strongest from Iran on how it would respond to an Israeli strike on its nuclear facilities.


Iran’s defense minister says an Israeli attack will lead to Israel’s collapse.

The comments by Gen. Ahmad Vahidi are one of the strongest statements from Iran that it will punish Israel should it attack Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Vahidi’s remarks were posted on the state-run Press TV’s website Saturday.

Israel has recently increased its rhetoric warning of the need to halt Iran’s nuclear development.

The U.S. and some of its allies accuse Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons, a charge Iran denies.

Israel views Iran as an existential threat.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that the U.S. is increasing both its sea- and land-based defense assets in the Strait of Hormuz region, in an effort to counter any Iranian effort to close the strategic waterway in the Persian Gulf.

According to the report, the U.S. military has informed Congress of plans to preposition new mine-detection and clearing equipment and expand surveillance capabilities in the area of the Strait of Hormuz.

U.S. defense officials were also quoted as saying that the military wants to modify weapons systems on ships so they can used against Iranian fast-attack boats and shore-launched cruise missiles.

Iran has said it could close the Strait of Hormuz, through which a fifth of the world’s crude oil passes, to shipping in response to Western sanctions over its nuclear program. The United States has vowed to keep the waterway open.

Comments Off on Iran defense minister: Attack will lead to Israel’s collapse

Filed under News


The New Moon-Moonth of Hrethmonath starts 24/2/12

This usually starts in March, but we are in a Thrilitha-Thornrilitha Year.


Comments Off on Hrethmonath

Filed under The Anglo-Saxon Calendar

Russia: Israeli strike on Iran would be ‘catastrophic’

Deputy Russian FM warns Israel against striking Iranian nuclear sites, saying Israel must understand consequences of such an action.


Russian warned Israel not to attack Iran over its nuclear program, saying on Wednesday that military action would have catastrophic consequences.

“Of course any possible military scenario against Iran will be catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.

“Therefore I hope Israel understands all these consequences … and they should also consider the consequences of such action for themselves,” Gatilov said at a news conference..

A top UN nuclear official said on Wednesday his team could “could not find a way forward” in attempts to persuade Iran to talk about suspected secret work on atomic arms.

Herman Nackaerts of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the talks in Tehran were inconclusive, although his mission approached the talks “in a constructive spirit.”

Nackaerts spoke to reporters at Vienna airport shortly after returning from the Iranian capital.

An IAEA statement published overnight already acknowledged the talks had failed.   Iran denies it has experimented with nuclear arms programs but has refused to cooperate with an IAEA probe on the issue for nearly four years.

Comments Off on Russia: Israeli strike on Iran would be ‘catastrophic’

Filed under Uncategorized

Lieberman: U.S., Russian warnings against Iran strike will not affect Israel’s decision

Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, says in TV interview that Israeli decision is ‘not their business’; says security of Israel’s citizens is ‘Israeli government’s responsibility.’


Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview on Wednesday that Israel will not bow to U.S. and Russian pressure in deciding whether to attack Iran.

Speaking on Channel 2 news, Avigdor Lieberman rebuffed suggestions that American and Russian warnings against striking Iran would affect Israeli decision making, saying the decision “is not their business.”

He said “the security of the citizens of Israel, the future of the state of Israel, this is the Israeli government’s responsibility.”

Russia warned Israel not to attack Iran over its nuclear program on Wednesday, saying that military action would have catastrophic consequences.

“Of course any possible military scenario against Iran will be catastrophic for the region and for the whole system of international relations,” Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said.

“Therefore I hope Israel understands all these consequences … and they should also consider the consequences of such action for themselves,” Gatilov said at a news conference.

This week, the U.S.military chief said an Israeli attack would be “not  prudent.”

Meanwhile, a top UN nuclear official said on Wednesday his team could “could not find a way forward” in attempts to persuade Iran to talk about suspected secret work on atomic arms.

Herman Nackaerts of the International Atomic Energy Agency says the talks in Tehran were inconclusive, although his mission approached the talks “in a constructive spirit.”

Nackaerts spoke to reporters at Vienna airport shortly after returning from the Iranian capital.

An IAEA statement published overnight already acknowledged the talks had failed.   Iran denies it has experimented with nuclear arms programs but has refused to cooperate with an IAEA probe on the issue for nearly four years.

Comments Off on Lieberman: U.S., Russian warnings against Iran strike will not affect Israel’s decision

Filed under News

Israelis seem resigned to a strike on Iran

TEL AVIV — A recent installment of the popular Israeli satirical television show “A Wonderful Country” captured the public mood here regarding a possible strike on Iran and its consequences: a mix of resignation and gallows humor.

In one scene, a house-hunting couple is shown a Tel Aviv apartment facing a drab housing project as a real estate agent proclaims that the place will have a view of the sea. “In June, that whole row of buildings won’t be here anymore,” she cheerfully informs the prospective buyers, gazing out a window.

“Are they making a park here?” asks the woman viewing the apartment with her husband. “No,” the agent chirps, “there’s the business with Iran this summer.”

As if noting a change of seasons, many Israelis are talking about a possible war come summer, or later this year, with an air of inevitability born of years of festering conflict that has periodically flared into full-blown hostilities. The prospect of devastating counterstrikes and mass casualties seems to be taken in stride, seen as a lesser evil than facing a nuclear-armed Iran.“It’s like people are saying, ‘A typhoon is coming,’ ” Avi Funes, a 57-year-old accountant, said over lunch at the Azrieli Center, a towering glass-and-steel mall and office complex next to the military headquarters and the Defense Ministry — a potential target area for retaliatory missile strikes.

“People aren’t taking to the streets to protest against an attack,” Funes added. “There’s a kind of complacency. What can the ordinary citizen do? It’s not up to him.”

The wisdom of a strike on Iran has been debated here for months, with current and former security officials as well as political figures arguing about whether such a move would achieve its aims or, instead, provoke costly retaliation and possibly a broader conflict without stopping Iran’s nuclear effort. On Tuesday, Iran warned of preemptive action against its foes if it felt its national interests were threatened.

Polls conducted in recent months have shown ordinary Israelis divided over the advisability of an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

But now that Israeli leaders are openly suggesting that a military strike on Iran might be necessary to stop what they describe as its drive to obtain atomic weapons, Israelis are contemplating the possible result: a rain of missiles fired at population centers by Iran and the militant groups allied with it, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

A familiar fear

Many Israelis have been through it before.

During the 1991 Persian Gulf War, Iraq fired about 40 Scud missiles at Israel, including some that hit the Tel Aviv area. Thousands of rockets fired by Hezbollah struck northern Israel during the nation’s 2006 war against the guerrilla group, and hundreds more were fired by Hamas and other groups during Israel’s three-week offensive in late 2008 and 2009 against the Islamist movement. In those conflicts, Israelis took cover in bomb shelters and safe rooms, so civilian casualties were limited. Fewer than 50 Israeli civilians died in all three conflicts combined.

But there are concerns that retaliatory missile attacks by Iran could be of an altogether different magnitude, wreaking far more death and destruction and possibly triggering broader hostilities.

Seeking to allay public concerns and rebut doomsday scenarios, Defense Minister Ehud Barak has in recent months played down the possible impact of missile strikes on Israeli cities and towns. “There won’t be 100,000 dead, not 10,000 dead nor 1,000 dead. Israel will not be destroyed,” he said in a radio interview in November. “It’s not pleasant on the home front . . . [but] if everyone just goes into their houses, there won’t be 500 dead, either.”

That was cold comfort for Gideon Levy, a columnist in the liberal Haaretz newspaper. In a recent article, he railed against what he described as the apparent public indifference to suggestions by Barak and others that hundreds, if not thousands, of Israelis could die in missile barrages triggered by an attack on Iran.
“The impression is that the majority of Israelis are not afraid,” he wrote. “The decision is left to a handful of decision-makers whom the public, as usual, trusts obediently and blindly.”Levy urged Israelis to speak up against a military strike by telling their leaders “now, loudly: We are a-f-r-ai-d.”

‘Business as usual’

But among visitors to the designer shops and cafes at the Azrieli complex this week, there seemed to be only faint trepidation.

“It’s business as usual, although there are concerns,” said Zehava Shem-Tov, a 50-year-old secretary on a lunch break. “There is a sense that something unpleasant awaits us, but it’s kind of repressed.”

Amos Tzion, 53, who sets up farming projects abroad, said that “there’s concern, but also the need” to take action. “We live in an area that’s always been threatening, we’ve grown accustomed to that, and there’s an existential fear that Iran will have the bomb, and something has to be done about it,” he said.

Some people said they were skeptical that stepped-up international sanctions on Iran would stop its nuclear program.

With Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s “extremist views, it doesn’t look like it, and it’s more likely that there will be no choice but military action,” said Funes, the accountant. “What’s the alternative? If he develops an atomic bomb, it will be a constant threat, and their missiles will be even more dangerous. No one would dare bomb a country that has nuclear weapons.” Israel has its own undeclared nuclear arsenal.

Ayelet Lifschitz, a 24-year-old student from the northern city of Haifa, said she had spent the 2006 war against Hezbollah in a bomb shelter as rockets crashed into her city, an experience she views as “a lifelong trauma.”

She said she opposed Israel going it alone against Iran without international support, particularly from Washington. But she added that she was confident that the country would survive any counterstrike. “This is a strong society,” she said. “We can cope with it, if that’s what it takes to deal with the problem.”

In the meantime, she said, “there is a constant awareness” of the possibility of armed conflict in the coming months, to the point where her friends joke that they may have to juggle appointments and personal plans to accommodate the war.

That approach was reflected recently in a Facebook page started by Kobi Zvili, a Tel Aviv artist. The page, which has attracted hundreds of supporters, pleads with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to hold off any military action before the singer Madonna takes the stage in a suburb of the city on May 29 on the first stop of her planned world tour.

“Bibi, No!” the page title says, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “No war with Iran until after Madonna’s performance.”

Comments Off on Israelis seem resigned to a strike on Iran

Filed under News