“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Another Fine US Ally, Turkey, Fraternal Partner in NATO, Supporting ISIS in Trade and Smuggling Terrorists Into Europe

ISIS ‘Department of Artifacts’ document exposes antique loot trade via Turkey (RT EXCLUSIVE)

A new trove of documents, obtained by an RT Documentary crew who recently uncovered details of illicit ISIS oil business with Turkey, sheds light on jihadists’ lucrative trade of looted antiquities along their well-established oil and weapons transit routes. 

There is no official accounting that would illustrate the true scale of looting being undertaken in Syria, a land once rich with cultural treasures. However, there is no doubt that since radical Islamists established a foothold in the region under raging civil war, pieces of the world’s global heritage have ended up in the hands of terrorists.

Along with oil smuggling, a lucrative trade in antiquities has become ISIS’s source of income to support its devastating operations, many of which leveled unique historic sites such as Palmyra. Artifacts, some worth thousands of dollars apiece, have been turning up in antique markets from eastern Europe to the US.

Following the exposure of the details of the ISIS oil business, RT has exclusively obtained additional evidence that sheds light on the jihadists’ black market of plundered treasures and its transit routes via Turkey. 

According to a document that the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) turned over to an RT Documentary crew, the so-called Ministry of Natural Resources established by ISIS to hold grip of the oil operations has a separate “Department of Artifacts.”

“One of the new documents is a note that has the same letterhead of ISIS’s Ministry of Natural Resources as the oil bills of sale, which we discussed last time,” a reporter, whose name and face have been obscured for security reasons, explained. The letterhead, similar to those found on oil invoices that Kurdish soldiers seized from what used to be the homes of IS fighters, is visible in the upper-right corner of the newly obtained document.

The note, apparently addressed to checkpoint sentries, asks “brothers at the border”to allow a Turkish antiquity seller into Syria for the purposes of mutual profit. It reads:

“To the brother responsible for the border, Please assist the passage of brother Hussein Hania Sarira through your post along with the man from Turkey – the artifacts trader, for the purpose of working with us in the department of artifacts in the Ministry of Natural Resources. May Allah bless you, Loving brother Abu Uafa At-Tunisi.”

While filming in the town of Shaddadi, located in the Syrian province Hasakah, RT reporters came across archaeological pieces, fragments of various ceramic pots. Abandoned in a tunnel, which ISIS fighters fled through, they were discovered by the Kurdish YPG troops after they liberated Shaddadi from jihadists in the February 2016.

No one knows where those objects originally came from, but Kurdish fighters also found an old map in French, which could date as far back as colonial times. It indicates the excavation grounds. 

Besides providing revealing insight into ISIS money-making, the note supports the previous suppositions that ISIS is selling artifacts via the same trade route, which, according to what RT’s crew was told, it used to bring across weapons and supplies, right under Ankara’s nose.

The fact of Turkey’s lax control and inaction has been recalled by a young fighter in an operational video that RT also obtained from the YPG. He was filmed after being captured by Kurdish troops at the border town of Tel Abyad, which was formerly a trade corridor between Turkey and ISIS.

“They sent me to serve in Tel Abyad on the Turkish border. Sometimes we even crossed the Turkish border and served there. We saw the Turkish army passing by, but there was never any kind of conflict between us,” militant Abu Ayub al-Ansari said.

‘Kurdish advance cut ISIS communication lines with Turkish security services’

The captured terrorist admitted that losing Tel Abyad had dealt a severe blow to Islamic State activities and its trade routes, as well as direct commutation lines with representatives of Turkish security services.

“When the Kurdish militia took over Tel Abyad, the connection was lost and foreign fighters could not get in,” the Islamist fighter testified. “The communication with the Turkish security services was broken, we could only communicate via civilians or spies.”

The terror group was also hit financially, suffering a serious blow to one of its major businesses – the oil smuggling.

“The goods that came from Turkey have also disappeared because the Kurdish YPG fighters have blocked the road through Tel Abyad. Also, the tankers can't drive through the area. That has put the organization in a complicated financial situation,” the apprehended militant told the YPG fighters.

‘We, Daesh, financially depend on oil’

The jihadi files showed that IS has kept very professional records of their oil business, including the name of the driver, the vehicle type driven, and the weight of the truck, both full and empty, as well as the agreed upon price and invoice number.

As local residents who had been forced to work in the IS oil industry told RT earlier, “the extracted oil was delivered to an oil refinery, where it was converted into gasoline, gas and other petroleum products. Then the refined product was sold.”

“Then intermediaries from Raqqa and Allepo arrived to pick up the oil and often mentioned Turkey,” they said.

The operational video of the Kurdish-captured Islamic State militant revealed more details of oil-related work inside ISIS, including the salaries terrorists were paid.

“We, Daesh, know that we financially depend on oil. Earlier it was said we only sold to civilian buyers, but there's no way they could buy so much. Our wages are from $50 to $100, depending on whether you are married or not. I am married and have a baby, so I was paid $135. When the oil supply across Tel Abyad was cut-off, the problems started,” he said.

Since RT made its revelations last week, a stream of questions poured on Turkey with experts and high-profile politicians demanding from Ankara explanations to the “very convincing” report that exposed its alleged links to terrorists.

War Criminal and Cackling Neocon Darling, Hillary Clinton, Should be Arrested, Tried and be in a US Supermax


But let’s give credit where credit is due, listen to Clinton’s review on the US creation of Islamic Terrorism under Republican Ronald Reagan:

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Seriously, I think Trump wants a graceful out

Former Trump super-PAC director: Donald doesn’t even want to be president

March 28, 2016

The top strategist for Donald Trump’s short-lived super-PAC says the Republican frontrunner does not want to become president — and that he had launched his “protest” bid for the GOP nomination simply to prove a point: that he could come close.

“Almost a year ago,” Stephanie Cegielski writes in an lengthy letter to Trump supporters published by the website, “I sat in Trump Tower being told that the goal was to get The Donald to poll in double digits and come in second in delegate count. That was it.”

Cegielski, former communications director for the Make America Great Again super-PAC, says the expectations for the real estate mogul’s campaign were incredibly low.

“The Trump camp would have been satisfied to see him polling at 12 percent and taking second place to a candidate who might hold 50 percent,” Cegielski writes. “His candidacy was a protest candidacy. It pains me to say, but he is the presidential equivalent of Sanjaya on ‘American Idol.’ President Trump would be President Sanjaya in terms of legitimacy and authority. I am now taking full responsibility for helping create this monster — and reaching out directly to those voters who, like me, wanted Trump to be the real deal.”

Hope Hicks, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, dismissed Cegielski’s assertions:
This person was never employed by the Trump campaign. Evidently she worked for a Super PAC which Mr. Trump disavowed and requested the closure of via the FEC. She knows nothing about Mr. Trump or the campaign and her disingenuous and factually inaccurate statements in no way resemble any shred of truth. This is yet another desperate person looking for their fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, Mr. Trump is running for President because he is the only one who will Make America Great Again. 
Cegielski, who began working for the Trump-connected PAC last summer, said she was inspired by Trump’s performance during the first Republican debate in Cleveland, where he sparred with Fox News host Megyn Kelly.
Stephanie Cegielski says the Republican frontrunner had no real interest in becoming president. (Photo: XOJane)

“The exchange with Megyn Kelly was like manna from heaven for a communications director,” she writes. “She appeared like yet another reporter trying to kick out the guest who wasn’t invited to the party. At the time, I felt excited for the change to the debate he could bring. I began realizing the man really resonates with the masses and would bring people to the process who had never participated before. That was inspiring to me.”
But the inspiration was short-lived.

“It wasn’t long before every day I awoke to a buzzing phone and a shaking head because Trump had said something politically incorrect the night before,” Cegielski writes.
Trump speaks at a campaign rally in Arizona in March. (Photo: Matt York/AP)
Inside the campaign, staffers had a slogan for dealing with the brash billionaire’s belligerent interviews: “Let Trump Be Trump.”

Yet, to Cegielski’s amazement, Trump’s steady rise in the polls continued.
“I don’t think even Trump thought he would get this far,” she continues. “And I don’t even know that he wanted to, which is perhaps the scariest prospect of all. He certainly was never prepared or equipped to go all the way to the White House, but his ego has now taken over the driver’s seat, and nothing else matters.”

Cegielski says she was particularly dismayed by Trump’s blustery response to the recent terror attacks in Brussels and Pakistan.

Another radical Islamic attack, this time in Pakistan, targeting Christian women & children. At least 67 dead,400 injured. I alone can solve“A devastating terrorist attack in Pakistan targeting Christians occurred on Easter Sunday,” she writes, “and Trump’s response was to tweet.”

Take a moment to appreciate the ridiculous, cartoonish, almost childish arrogance of saying that he alone can solve. Does Trump think that he is making a cameo on Wrestlemania (yes, one of his actual credits)? This is not how foreign policy works. For anyone. Ever. Superhero powers where “I alone can solve” problems are not real. They do not exist for Batman, for Superman, for Wrestlemania and definitely not for Donald Trump.

“He doesn’t want the White House,” Cegielski writes. “He just wants to be able to say that he could have run the White House.”

After the super-PAC was disbanded in October — a decision consistent in keeping with Trump’s “outsider” persona — Cegielski remained a supporter of his campaign. But she slowly realized Trump the candidate was really Trump the reality-show character.

“I wanted Trump to be real, too. He is not,” she writes. “I began to hear and evaluate him more critically and skeptically as a member of the voting public rather than a communications person charged with protecting his positions.”
“I no longer felt that he was the leader the country was looking for, and I found myself longing — aching, really — for policy substance that went beyond building a wall and making Mexico pay for it,” Cegielski continues. “What were once bold — although controversial — statements now seemed to be attempts to please the crowds, not direction to lead this country to a better place.”

Just as troubling for Trump’s former adviser was his arrogant unaccountability:
When there was a tweet that contained an error, he would blame it on an intern; when there was a photo containing a World War II Nazi Germany background, he would blame it on an intern; when he answered questions in an overtly controversial fashion, he would claim he did not properly hear the question. He refused to take responsibility for his actions while frequently demanding apologies from others.

Cegielski is now urging Trump’s supporters not to elevate him to the world’s most powerful position: U.S. commander in chief.
“Don’t let our country pay that price,” she writes.

The Strange Case of a Nazi Who Became a Hitman for Israeli intelligence after the Second World War

Hitler’s commando Lt-Col Otto Skorzeny 'worked as an assassin for Israeli intelligence' - Telegraph

5:25PM BST 29 Mar 2016 TELEGRAPH

A notorious former SS officer known as “Hitler’s commando” reportedly worked as an assassin for Israeli intelligence. 

Lt-Col Otto Skorzeny, once described by British and American intelligence as “the most dangerous man in Europe”, was secretly recruited by Mossad after the Second World War, according to Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper.

In 1962 he assassinated a former Nazi rocket scientist, the newspaper claimed. Heinz Krug, who worked under Wernher von Braun on the programme to develop the V2 rockets that were used to devastating effect against London in the final stages of the war, disappeared without trace from Munich. He was working on a missile programme for the Egyptian government at the time. 

It has long been suspected he was targeted by Israel, nervous of its then-enemy Egypt’s intentions. 

Ha’aretz claims he was murdered by Skorzeny on Mossad’s orders. 
Fearing for his life after several other scientists on the programme received threatening letters and calls from Israel, Krug hired the former SS officer as a bodyguard. 

But he was unaware the man he had hired to protect him was a double agent working for the Israelis. 
Lt-Col Otto SkorzenyLt-Col Otto Skorzeny  Photo: Walter Frentz

Skorzeny and Krug drove into the woods north of Munich with two bodyguards to talk undisturbed. 

But once they arrived Skorzeny shot the scientist dead and he and his accomplices destroyed his body with acid, leaving no trace. 

Skorzeny, personally decorated by Hitler with the highest rank of the Iron Cross, was a highly unlikely Mossad recruit. 

He was most famous as part of the Nazi commando team that rescued the deposed Italian leader Benito Mussolini from captivity in 1942. 
But he was also involved in the operation to seize control of Hungary in 1944 when the Nazi puppet regime of Miklos Horthy was on the verge of suing for peace with Russia. 
Lt-Col Otto SkorzenyLt-Col Otto Skorzeny  Photo: Express/Getty

That operation resulted in tens of thousands of Hungarian Jews who had survived until then being sent to their deaths in the concentration camps. 

At the end of the war Skorzeny was captured by US forces but dramatically escaped with the help of three former SS officers disguised in American uniforms. 
Skorzeny claimed in his memoirs the US authorities had let him escape.

He fled to Spain where he was allowed to settle under the fascist Franco regime. 
According to Ha’aretz, Mossad tracked him down but instead of assassinating him, the intelligence service decided to recruit him. 

“I met and ran Skorzeny,” Rafael Eitan, the former Mossad officer who successfully abducted Adolf Eichmann and brought for him for trial in Israel, told Ha’aretz. 

He refused to give any further details, but according to the newspaper Skorzeny told Mossad he was not interested in money. 

Instead demanded his name be taken off the list of war criminals kept by Simon Wiesenthal, the Austrian Nazi hunter. 

Even Mossad was unable to persuade Wiesenthal to delete Skorzeny’s name. So the intelligence service forged a letter from Wiesenthal “confirming” that his name had been removed. 

Skorzeny lived the rest of his life in Spain, dying of cancer in 1975. 
At his funeral former SS colleagues openly gave the Hitler salute and sang Nazi songs, unaware the man they were mourning was also an Israeli agent.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Putin’s Russia has become a major player in the Middle East

The West Is Oblivious to Russia’s Geopolitical Game in Syria

Two things about Russia under President Vladimir Putin: First, never bet too heavily on what the former KGB strongman will do next; second, things are not always what they first appear to be.
Only two weeks ago, I remarked that Russia would not withdraw from Syria till a political settlement regarding Syria’s future was achieved to Putin’s satisfaction, regardless of what his ally, beleaguered Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, might wish. While I stand by what I said, I was surprised at Mr. Putin’s sudden announced withdrawal a couple of days afterward.
Checking my sources reveals more than initially meets the eye: My analysis suggests Russia’s sudden move amounts to more of a drawdown than a withdrawal because, despite news bulletins to the contrary, Putin yet maintains a certain military presence in Syria. Intelligence imagery indicates the Russian Sukhoi Su-24M bomber aircraft group is still largely in place.
Reason: Russia wants to ensure that the political outcome, whatever form or shape it may be, at least supports some of its long-term objectives. Equally important, an analysis of the imagery shows Russia is not only still expanding infrastructure and facilities around its Latakia naval base but also has deployed additional assets in the past several days.
Yes, Mr. Putin caught us all by surprise with his announced Syrian drawdown. Little wonder: Syria-led coalition forces had some momentum behind them; they were on a roll, gaining ground sometimes even without a fight. But make no mistake: This partial withdrawal does not mean that things are settled militarily. The city of Aleppo remains partially encircled by jihad forces who in turn are encircled by coalition forces headed by the Syrian regime. The objective: cut the jihadists’ supply lines.
The question now becomes: What does Russia’s drawdown mean for Syria, the Middle East and geopolitics in general? Some points to consider:
First, the unexpected reduction in forces hardly suggests Russia’s involvement in Syria is done. To the contrary, Russian aircraft remain. These are not part of the drawdown. Their mission is to attack insurgents not included in the most recent ceasefire, principally Jabhat al-Nusra (another name for al-Qaida) and the Islamic State. To quote a Russian military journalist: “The fleet remains; antiaircraft systems remain; the tanks remain; all the marines remain; the helicopters remain; some of the aircraft will remain. Only some of the aircraft and their service personnel are being taken out. And they can come back, of course, in the space of three or four hours.”
Second, it’s conceivable to view the drawdown as an excuse for maintenance of Russian aircraft after an intensive period of sorties. It’s also plausible this marks a shift in tempo aimed at metastasizing politics: pausing in what one might see as Russia’s spiraling down unknown, unfamiliar and possibly perilous paths — something this column has regularly highlighted.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is just now wrapping up a Moscow meeting with President Putin, an affair with far fewer tensions than recent years have seen between the Obama administration and Russian leaders. In fact, before discussions on expanding access to humanitarian aid and maintaining the Syrian ceasefire even began, Putin uncharacteristically kidded Kerry about his carrying his own luggage.
One assumption is that Mr. Putin’s drawdown, coinciding with the start of Geneva talks between representatives of the Syrian regime and rebels, was not aimed at the Geneva talks but instead was intended to push the Obama administration into genuine cooperation with Russia. Recall that President Putin stated from the outset his intervention in Syria had limited objectives — to “create conditions for a political compromise.” Perhaps he is now moving toward that goal.
Another salient point that continues to intrigue analysts: Russia’s drawdown will put pressure to act on both parties (Syrian regime and opposition groups) at the Geneva talks. The kicker: The burden is also on the United States to stop its own allies — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar — from providing funding to and arming their proxies or even marching defiantly toward Damascus.
While the United States might be able to convince Saudi Arabia and Qatar, it will find Turkey a significant challenge given that its president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, needs the Syrian conflict to drag on longer in order to keep his hold on power. You do not have to look far to see how Turkey is using the issue of Syrian immigrants to blackmail Europe to secure money and gain European Union membership. Shame on Turkey, a Muslim country that calls itself a secular and democratic state.
If history is any indication, this would not be the first time Mr. Putin has used a military drawdown to resolve a deadlocked political scene such as the one in Syria. It’s something we saw in the lead-up to the Minsk accords concerning Ukraine. Make no mistake: Russia’s political elites, including Mr. Putin, do not at this time seek a direct confrontation with NATO or the West over either Ukraine or Syria.
Where from here? Against all odds, Iran, Russia and the United States want to see a strong Syria emerge at the end. After all, Syria does have an identity. It’s a proud and ancient nation. And some sort of long-sought resolution could not come at a more critical time when fundamental borders and governments throughout the Middle East are eroding, giving way to more violence, floods of refugees and the uncontrollable emergence of sectarian tension along religious lines.
Whatever the outcome, Russia’s latest move — and the rush by the United States to react to this drawdown — is not just about Syria but rather the future of the global order or what these days passes for it.
Follow David Oualaalou on Twitter:




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Monday, March 28, 2016

In the end, it was the Syrian army - and its Hezbolah chums from Lebanon, and the Iranians, and the Russians - who drove the Isis murderers out of Palmyra

Syrian, Russian, Iranian, Hezbollah Massive Offensive Forced ISIS To Flee From Palmyra:

Why is David Cameron so silent on the recapture of Palmyra from the clutches of Isis?

The biggest military defeat that isis has suffered in more than two years. The recapture of Palmyra, the Roman city of the Empress Zenobia. And we are silent. Yes, folks, the bad guys won, didn't they? Otherwise, we would all be celebrating, wouldn’t we?

Less than a week after the lost souls of the 'Islamic Caliphate' destroyed the lives of more than 30 innocent human beings in Brussels, we should - should we not? - have been clapping our hands at the most crushing military reverse in the history of Isis. But no. As the black masters of execution fled Palmyra this weekend, Messers Obama and Cameron were as silent as the grave to which Isis have dispatched so many of their victims. He who lowered our national flag in honour of the head-chopping king of Arabia (I’m talking about Dave, of course) said not a word.

As my long-dead colleague on the Sunday Express, John Gordon, used to say, makes you sit up a bit, doesn't it? Here are the Syrian army, backed, of course, by Vladimir Putin’s Russkies, chucking the clowns of Isis out of town, and we daren't utter a single word to say well done.

When Palmyra fell last year, we predicted the fall of Bashar al-Assad. We ignored, were silent on, the Syrian army's big question: why, if the Americans hated Isis so much, didn't they bomb the suicide convoys that broke through the Syrian army's front lines? Why didn’t they attack Isis?

“If the Americans wanted to destroy Isis, why didn't they bomb them when they saw them?” a Syrian army general asked me, after his soldiers' defeat  His son had been killed defending Homs. His men had been captured and head-chopped in the Roman ruins. The Syrian official in charge of the Roman ruins (of which we cared so much, remember?) was himself beheaded. Isis even put his spectacles back on top of his decapitated head, for fun. And we were silent then.

Putin noticed this, and talked about it, and accurately predicted the retaking of Palmyra. His aircraft attacked Isis - as US planes did not - in advance of the Syrian army's conquest. I could not help but smile when I read that the US command claimed two air strikes against Isis around Palmyra in the days leading up to its recapture by the regime. That really did tell you all you needed to know about the American "war on terror". They wanted to destroy Isis, but not that much.

So in the end, it was the Syrian army and its Hizballah chums from Lebanon and the Iranians and the Russians who drove the Isis murderers out of Palmyra, and who may - heavens preserve us from such a success - even storm the Isis Syrian 'capital' of Raqqa. I have written many times that the Syrian army will decide the future of Syria. If they grab back Raqqa - and Deir el-Zour, where the Nusrah front destroyed the church of the Armenian genocide and threw the bones of the long-dead 1915 Christian victims into the streets - I promise you we will be silent again.

Aren't we supposed to be destroying Isis? Forget it. That's Putin's job. And Assad's. Pray for peace, folks. That's what it's about, isn't it? And Geneva. Where is that, exactly?

Kurds vs ISIS Heavy clashes in the east of Syria - Russia Syria War

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Friday 2 October 2015: A statement released earlier on Friday by the US-led coalition fighting Isis expressed deep concern about attacks by the Russian air force on Hama, Homs and Idlib. “These military actions constitute a further escalation and will only fuel more extremism and radicalisation,” said the statement by France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the US and Britain. “We call on the Russian federation to immediately cease its attacks on the Syrian opposition and civilians and to focus its efforts on fighting Isil.”

Syrian govt retakes Palmyra from ISIS – army command

Syrian government forces have retaken the city of Palmyra from Islamic State, a military source told RT.
"Our troops have established full control of the town and are chasing the remainder of the retreating gangs of Islamic State terrorists," the Syrian army's command said in a statement, as quoted by TASS.
An army source also told AFP that the army is in control of both the ancient site of Palmyra and the residential neighborhoods. 

A commander of the Desert Falcons unit of the Syrian army told RT that the "military operation to retake Palmyra lasted three days," adding that the "main difficulty was that there were a lot of mines along the roads."

"Today the Syrian Arab Army is clearing the mines," he said.
Noting the importance of Palmyra, journalist Neil Clark told RT that having control of the city is "incredibly important."
“...It's on the main highway, sort of equidistant between Damascus and Deir Ezzor...the Syrian army has [now] got a major boost in clearing IS out of a whole path of Syria, where [IS militants still are]," he said.
IS fighters have reportedly retreated from Palmyra – located 215 kilometers (133.5 miles) from the Syrian capital Damascus – to the towns of Sukhnah, Raqqa, and Deir Ezzor.

In a statement read on Syrian television, the military command said the recapture of Palmyra marks the beginning of the collapse of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). It said the success proves that the Syrian government and its allies are the only forces capable of defeating terrorism in the country.

The command went on to say that the army and its allies will continue their campaign against IS, Al-Nusra Front, and “other terrorist groups.” The Syrian government has described all armed factions fighting President Bashar Assad as terrorist groups. 

It was previously reported that Syrian Army forces had advanced into the city on Saturday, with support from Russian airstrikes.

Television footage showed explosions taking place inside Palmyra, with smoke rising from buildings. Tanks and armored vehicles fired from the outskirts of the city.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that Russian warplanes carried out 158 airstrikes, hitting terrorist targets in and around the city. More than 100 extremists were killed in the bombardment, and several pieces of heavy equipment destroyed.

“Russian Aerospace Forces have carried out 40 sorties in the Palmyra region,” a statement published on the Defense Ministry’s official website read, adding that “as a result...four tanks, three artillery pieces, four ammunition depots and five vehicles were destroyed.”
The recapture of Palmyra marks the biggest reversal for IS since Russia's intervention into Syria. 

The Desert Falcons commander thanked Russia for the victory, noting that Moscow "helped our country and our army against Daesh (ISIS) and its supporters."

Clark noted that the success came less than six months after the Russian intervention in Syria, calling Moscow's action a "game changer." 

Former US ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul tweeted “thank you” in Russian following a report of the Syrian government's successful recapture of Palmyra. 

The ancient city, seized by IS in May 2015, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to dozens of remarkable monuments of antiquity, and a number of historical sites that have been destroyed by IS jihadists since they captured the city, among which were the 2,000-year-old Temple of Bel and the Arch of Triumph.

On Saturday, the Syrian government’s head of antiquities, Mamoun Abdelkarim, said the authorities would try to restore the historic sites.
"We will rebuild them with the stones that remain, and with the remaining columns," Abdelkarim told Reuters, adding that his team would "bring life back to Palmyra."

International lawyer and author of 'Syria's Endangered Heritage,' Franklin Lamb, told RT that he is optimistic that Palmyra's historic sites can be largely restored.

“I predict that between 90 and 95 percent of all the damage that IS has done to Palmyra can be restored” with technology, he said.
“Sure, there's going to be piles of rubble and you can't restore every stone the way it was...but you can restore it and that's the primary I'm very optimistic that restoration can be made.”

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Bernie Birdman

Massive Corruption in US Mercenary Navy - The Punishment Absurdly Light

US Navy captain jailed over massive bribery scandal in Pacific

Saturday 26 March 2016 
Captain Daniel Dusek gave the defence contractor ship and submarine schedules dozens of times in return for hotel rooms and prostitutes.

A Navy captain who oversaw operations in the US Pacific Fleet has been sentenced to nearly four years in prison for providing classified information to a Malaysian defence contractor in exchange for luxury hotel stays and the services of prostitutes. 

Captain Daniel Dusek, 49, is the highest-ranking officer to be charged in one of the military’s worst bribery scandals.

A US judge also ordered Dusek to pay a $70,000 fine and $30,000 in restitution to the Navy for giving ship and submarine schedules to help contractor Leonard Glenn Francis.

Francis pleaded guilty in the case in 2015, admitting that his Singapore-based port services company, Glenn Defence Marine Asia (GDMA) plied Dusek and others with meals, alcohol, luxury hotel stays and other gifts to ensure US Navy ships stopped at ports where GDMA operated.

GDMA over-billed the maritime branch by more than $34m, according to court documents.

“It’s truly unimaginable to the court that someone in your position with the United States Navy would sell out based on what was provided to you – hotel rooms, entertainment and the services of prostitutes,” US district judge Janis L Sammartino told Dusek, adding that he “potentially jeopardised national security.” 

Dusek told the federal court in San Diego that he will never forgive himself for his actions, which spanned a seven-month period starting in July 2010. His lawyer pointed out that Dusek turned himself in. 

“I will hold this guilt in my heart for the rest of my life,” he told the judge before being sentenced. 

Francis, known as “Fat Leonard” in military circles, has acknowledged bribing navy officials with more than $500,000 in cash and a staggering amount of luxury goods worth millions, including prostitution services, spa treatments, top-shelf alcohol, ornamental swords and handmade ship models. 

Ten people have been charged in the case, including five navy officials, and nine defendants have pleaded guilty. 

GDMA has provided fuel, food and other services to navy ships in Asia for two decades. 

Prosecutor Mark Pletcher said Dusek used his position to influence admirals to re-route ships to ports either owned by Francis or with lax oversight so fake tariffs and other fees could be imposed without being detected. 

Dusek gave GDMA ship and submarine schedules dozens of times, and he deleted his email account to avoid detection, Pletcher said. 

“He was the golden goose to GDMA,” Pletcher said. 

After Dusek got a US aircraft carrier re-routed to a Malaysian port owned by Francis in 2010, the defence contractor said in an email that the captain “is a golden asset to drive the big decks (aircraft carriers) into our fat revenue GDMA ports,” according to the plea agreement. 

GDMA paid for a hotel for Dusek and his family at the Marriott Waikiki in Hawaii in July 2010. A few weeks later the company got him a hotel room at the Shangri-La in Makati, Philippines, and provided him with the services of a prostitute, according to the plea agreement. 

Soon after, Dusek used his influence to steer the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln and its associated strike group to Port Klang, Malaysia, a port owned by Francis.

The port visit in October 2010 cost the United States about $1.6m, according to court documents.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Israel is turning a blind eye to Al-Nusra, and Turkey wants radical Islamists to prevail in the Middle East: Shocking insights from King Abdullah of Jordan

Israel Key Link in Exporting ISIS Oil:

‘SAS are in Libya; Erdogan wants radical Islam’: Jordanian king’s secret US briefing leaked

A flag bearing the emblem of the Special Air Services (SAS). © Cathal McNaughton
The UK has covertly deployed special forces in Libya, Israel is turning a blind eye to Al-Nusra, and Turkey wants radical Islamists to prevail in the Middle East, are the shocking insights King Abdullah of Jordan confidentially shared with US lawmakers.

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The leader of the Middle Eastern state, who has been in power since 1999, gave this frank regional assessment to congressional leaders, including John McCain and Paul Ryan, in a closed-door meeting during his visit to the US back in January. Minutes from the briefing have now been obtained by the Guardian via an unsanctioned leak.

In the most substantive revelation, the royal said that Jordanian special forces operating in Libya had been embedded with a more sizeable British SAS contingent to help them overcome cultural barriers, including understanding “Jordanian slang [which] is similar to Libyan slang.”
WU.S. President Barack Obama meets with King Abdullah of Jordan in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington February 24, 2016. © Kevin Lamarque
The UK Foreign Office does not comment on the whereabouts of the elite SAS and other special forces as a matter of policy.

The security intelligence agency Stratfor had already alleged the UK’s involvement earlier this month, saying that SAS units had been “escorting MI6 teams to meet with Libyan officials about supplying weapons and training to the Syrian army and to militias against the Islamic State. The British air force bases Sentinel aircraft in Cyprus for surveillance missions around [ISIS-controlled Libyan city of] Sirte as well.”

However, David Cameron has refused to provide any information on this even to closed parliamentary committees, saying earlier this week that the SAS is already“subject to international law as everyone else is in our country but I do not propose to change the arrangements under which these incredibly brave men work.”

Officially, Britain will station 1,000 troops to help train locals in Libya and aid its teetering government in the near future, but so far none have supposedly been sent to the country, which has been in the grip of an ethnic and sectarian war since the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

The Prime Minister’s office has refused to answer press calls concerning the latest leaks, The Guardian says.

Other statements made by the 54-year-old King Abdullah are more gossipy, but indicative of deep rifts between the US and Saudi-headed coalitions tasked with eliminating Islamic State and restoring the rule of law to the region.

Abdullah said that Turkish President Tayyip Recep Erdogan “believes in a radical Islamic solution to the problems in the region.” He went on to say that “that terrorists are going to Europe is part of Turkish policy, and Turkey keeps getting a slap on the hand, but they get off the hook.”

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The revelation comes just after the announcement of a deal that Turkey struck with the EU earlier this month to aid it in solving its refugee problem in exchange for billions of euros.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. © Umit Bektas
Israel is accused of “looking the other way” when it comes to Al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra, which controls large swathes of land in Syria including territory on the Israeli border, because the group is “an opposition to Hezbollah,” the Iranian-funded Lebanese militia fighting for President Bashar Assad in the Syrian conflict. There have previously been accusations in the media claiming that Israel was even giving medical treatment to al-Nusra fighters before sending them back out on the battlefield, and that a direct communication link had been established between the Israeli army and the terrorist group. The IDF has always denied these allegations, however.

King Abdullah’s biggest warning came regarding al-Shabaab, an east African jihadist group with a lower profile than ISIS, Boko Haram and others, but which has begun to “feed into Libya.”
An Islamist fighter from Al-Shabaab Mujaahidin. © Feisal Omar
“Jordan is looking at al-Shabaab because no one was really looking at the issue, and we cannot separate this issue, and the need to look at all the hotspots in the map. We have a rapid deployment force that will stand with the British and Kenya and is ready to go over the border into Somalia,” he told congressmen.

The Jordanian embassies in the US and UK have refused to verify the claims, while one congressman has admitted to the Guardian that the briefing did happen, but would not authenticate its talking points.

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