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Russia’s S-300 play in Syria is creating MASSIVE geopolitical waves

The Kremlin made the decision to supply Damascus with the potent S-300 air-defense system after a Syrian surface-to-air missile battery mistakenly shot down a Russian aircraft during an Israeli raid.

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Russia says it will supply Syria with a version of the S-300 air and missile-defense system, despite objections from Washington and Tel Aviv. The Kremlin made the decision to supply Damascus with the potent air-defense system after a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile battery mistakenly shot down a Russian Ilyushin Il-20M Coot-A intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) aircraft during an Israeli raid on Assad regime forces on September 17.

“A modern S-300 air defense missile system will be supplied to the Syrian Armed Forces within two weeks,” Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu said on September 24, as reported by the state-owned TASS news agency . “It is capable of intercepting air assault weapons at a distance of more than 250 kilometers and hit simultaneously several air targets.”

Russia’s Decision

The Kremlin has decided to supply the Syrian regime with the potent S-300 because Moscow blames Israel for the downing of its Il-20M despite the fact that it was a Syrian-operated weapon that brought the four-engine turboprop down. The Russians accuse Tel Aviv of using the lumbering ISR plane as cover during an air raid by four Israeli F-16 fighters on a Syrian regime target.

“I will underscore—at the request of the Israeli side, in 2013 we suspended the delivery of S-300 systems that were ready for the dispatch, while the Syrian military had undergone training,” Shoigu said. “Now the situation has changed, and we are not to blame.”

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Shoigu also noted that Moscow would send Syria advanced battle management and combat identifications systems so that Damascus’ forces will be able to ensure that they can properly identify Russian aircraft in the future. “The command posts of Syrian air defense forces and units will be equipped with automated control systems only supplied to the Russian armed forces,” Shoigu said. “This will facilitate centralized control over all forces and resources of the Syrian air defense, monitor the situation in the air, and ensure operative issuance of orders. Most importantly, we will guarantee the identification of all Russian aircrafts by the Syrian air defense systems.”

Indeed, while Russian president Vladimir Putin initially put the blame for the incident on the fog of war, more recently the Kremlin has said that it blames Israel for the loss of its aircraft. “The information presented by the Israeli military on the operation of their aircraft over Syrian territory differs from the conclusions of the Russian Defence Ministry,” the Kremlin said in a statement . “Russia proceeds from the premise that the actions of the Israeli Air Force were the main cause of the tragedy.”

The Kremlin said in a call to Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu that it believes that delivering these additional weapons systems to the Syrian regime is the only way to safeguard lives of Russian servicemen operating in Syria. “Vladimir Putin emphasized that Russia’s decisions to bolster the combat capabilities of Syrian air defenses are appropriate at this juncture and primarily intended to thwart any potential threat to the lives of the Russian military service members fulfilling the tasks of combating international terrorism,” the Kremlin said.

Irresponsible Hands

During his conversation with Putin, Netanyahu emphasized the Israeli view “that transferring advanced weapons systems into irresponsible hands will increase the dangers in the region, and added that Israel will continue to defend its security and its interests.”

Washington also waded into the issue, with National Security Advisor John Bolton calling the Russian decision to arm Syria with the S-300 a “major mistake” and a “significant escalation.” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he expects to take the matter up with Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov in New York on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly.

Syria to Blame

Israel also reiterated that Syria is to blame for the downing of the Russian Il-20M. “Since the tragic events in the skies over Syria I have spoken twice with President Putin. I expressed to him our deep regret over the loss of the crew of the Russian plane that was brought down by irresponsible Syrian anti-aircraft fire,” Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a tweet . “This morning I convened the Security Cabinet which received a full update on the recent events. The Security Cabinet ministers also share in the deep sorrow of the Russian families and the Russian people.”

However, while Tel Aviv expressed its regret over the loss of the lives of the Russian servicemen, Israel says that it has no option but to push back against Iranian encroachment. Thus, Israel will continue to cooperate with Moscow, but Tel Aviv will not back down from taking action against Iran. “We give full backing to the IDF [Israel Defense Force] in its actions to defend the state,” Netanyahu said . “We will continue to take action to prevent the establishment of an Iranian military presence in Syria and we will continue the security coordination between the IDF and the Russian military. . . . To this end, I agreed with President Putin that IDF and Russian military working teams would meet soon. We will do what is necessary to defend the security of Israel.”

Strategic Consequences

While the Russians have not said which version of the S-300 it will be giving to Syria, the weapons will like be the relatively modern S-300PMU-2 variant. However, given that it would take several months to train Syrian crews to operate the sophisticated S-300 system, it is a near certainty that Russian crews would initially operate the missiles.

“I think it’s unlikely that the Syrians will be ready to operate this without Russian advisers and support for the immediate future,” Center for Naval Analyses research scientist Michael Kofman told the National Interest . “There’s a degree of ambiguity there that introduces some uncertainty as to who is really operating the system.”

Indeed, given that there is no dispute that it was the Syrian military that downed the Russian Il-20M, it is possible that the Russians do not intend to ever allow Assad regime crews to operate the S-300. Given that fact that Shoigu stated that Moscow would equip Assad regime command posts with “automated control systems only supplied to the Russian armed forces” in order to “facilitate centralized control over all forces and resources of the Syrian air defense,” it is possible that the Kremlin is planning on de facto taking over the management of all Syrian air defenses. Certainly, that would ensure that poorly trained and motivated Syrian troops would not inadvertently attack friendly forces in a panic while under fire.

What’s more, the presence of Russian forces manning Syrian-owned air defenses would complicate Israeli attempts to strike at the Assad regime and Iranian forces operating inside Syria. Israel can ill afford to strike directly at Syrian targets during a raid if that would mean that Moscow’s forces were caught in the crossfire since the Kremlin will not likely let another such incident slide unpunished. As such, the presence of additional Russian forces would constrain Israel’s ability to act inside Syria.

Of course, if Russia does turn the S-300 batteries over to Syrian operators, then there is always the distinct possibility that Israel could attempt to eliminate those weapons. Indeed, Israel has the perfect weapon to do just that—its newly acquired fleet of Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. However, in the immediate future, while Syria’s S-300s are operated by Russian forces, Israel will likely be hampered in its ability to strike further targets in Syria.

Via The National Interest

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craig watson
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The F-35 is a piece of junk. Russian war planes are so far advanced over anything built by the USA that Israel is now powerless in the face of Russian armaments, as is the USA.

Tom Welsh
Guest
Tom Welsh

Yes, it would be quite interesting to see whether Washington would allow such an attempt. If the F-35s were all shot down it would not be a very good advertisement for future sales.

You can call me AL
Guest
You can call me AL

It might not be a good sales pitch, but it would be funny for most of the World.

Ian
Guest
Ian

If the F-35 was shot down, they could revert back to the age old excuse, pilot error.

Nexus789
Guest
Nexus789

Or a birdstrike

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

Have you seen the short article, over on RI? How easy it is for Russia to view the US stealth planes, flying over Syria.

Russian Su-35 Tracked a US F-22 Stealth Fighter Over Syria With Infra-Red Sensors… https://russia-insider.com/en/russian-su-35-tracked-us-f-22-stealth-fighter-over-syria-infra-red-sensors/ri24895

Mike
Guest
Mike

You are smoking so good shit! Even the Russians knows that F35 and 22 are superior to anything Russia has…

7.62x54R
Guest
7.62x54R

It will be great news when an SAA S-300 eliminates an invading Israeli F-16. Several being flamed at once would be even better.

Bob Valdez
Guest
Bob Valdez

I think it is YOU who are smoking something, probably ‘shit’, as you put it.

Normski
Member
Normski

Really?.

Nexus789
Guest
Nexus789

Typical deluded response from the US. The JSF has a single big and very hot engine. Will stick out like dogs nuts to IR sensors

Shahna
Guest
Shahna

MASSIVE? In capital letters?
Far as I c’n see “geopolitical response” has been pretty muted.
NO-ONE mentioned it at Trump’s special UNSC (the one he ducked away from after he told everyone how wonderful he was) – – even May didn’t take the opportunity to remind the world what dastardly bastards the Russian are.

So Bibi had a conniption – but when does he ever not?
Even Bolton forgot all his fire and brimstone and threats of outright murder.

Tom Welsh
Guest
Tom Welsh

“…during an Israeli raid on Assad regime forces on September 17”.

Correction: “…during an Israeli raid on Syrian territory, which destroyed Syrian premises and property”.

The word “regime” is inappropriate, since Mr Assad and his government have been democratically elected with large majorities, and are strongly supported by most Syrian citizens.

You can call me AL
Guest
You can call me AL

No mention that the Israelis had their “Identification, friend or foe (IFF)”; switched off – which makes this a war.

Tom Welsh
Guest
Tom Welsh

“Israel says that it has no option but to push back against Iranian encroachment”. On the contrary, Israel has absolutely no right whatsoever to attack anything inside the borders of Syria – or any other country. Who and what the Syrian government welcomes in its country is no business of Israel or anyone else. If Syria chooses to have Iranian soldiers and weapons inside Syria, Israel has no legal right to do anything to stop it. I believe that Israel has US soldiers, technical experts and weapons systems within its borders. Does this give Syria, Iran or any other nation… Read more »

Prometheus
Guest
Prometheus

Talking about encroachment! Who is best at that anyway? Just asked the Gazans and West Bank. Guess that includes Golan Heights too. These psychopaths need to be put to bed.

Gonzogal
Guest
Gonzogal

The US has more than some “US soldiers, technical experts and weapons systems” on Israeli soil….the US now has a full-blown military base within Israels borders! https://www.defensenews.com/breaking-news/2017/09/18/us-breaks-ground-for-new-permanent-base-in-israel/

Tom Welsh
Guest
Tom Welsh

“Certainly, that would ensure that poorly trained and motivated Syrian troops would not inadvertently attack friendly forces in a panic while under fire”.

You mean the way the “poorly trained and motivated” US Navy officers of USS Vincennes shot down the Iranian Airbus in 1988?

And they did not even have the excuse of being under fire.

You can call me AL
Guest
You can call me AL

The Syrians ordered the S-300 many years ago – 2012 / 2013 to be precise.

“”I will underscore – at the request of the Israeli side, in 2013 we suspended the delivery of S-300 systems that were ready for the dispatch, while the Syrian military had undergone training. Now the situation has changed, and we are not to blame,” the defense minister said.

More:
http://tass.com/defense/1022844

It would be a mistake to assume that they have not already been trained.

Richard Steven Hack
Guest
Richard Steven Hack

As usual, The National Interest plays down the ability of the S-300 systems to deal with the F-35 and other Israeli aircraft. The fact remains that these new systems will be operated by Syrians, not Russians. Shoigu directly stated that the Syrian crews were being trained before when the S-300 deal was previously on. While there may be some updated training going on, what does it matter? There will eventually be Syrian crews running these systems. The Russians are not going to tell the Syrians not to shoot down Israeli aircraft, as is implied by the article. They don’t do… Read more »

Walter Dublanica
Member

Mike& John you are second fiddles to Vlad & Sergei . V&S rule the middle east. M&J are ruled by Israel.

Sean
Guest
Sean

Stopped reading after “Syrian regime”. Why is the Duran publishing this anti Syrian/Russian propaganda? Are you trying to lose your remaining few readers?

Vince Dhimos
Guest

We saw this back in July 2917 when we posted (http://www.newsilkstrategies.com/news–analysis/look-whos-r-e-a-l-l-y-edging-out-the-dollar) “Those who are aware of this effort to settle trades in anything but dollars are mostly focusing on Russia and China as the lead actors in this movement. But despite their size and clout, these two are bit players, who would likely take decades to put a dent in the dollar’s clout. Not so the EU, which plays the lead role, doing the lion’s share of non-dollar international settlements and lending. This is precisely what Putin and Xi want, which is certainly why Putin said at the last Valdai… Read more »

Shaun Ramewe
Guest
Shaun Ramewe

A good day for democracy, peace and anti-terrorism. Boohoo Zio/Saudi/Western war criminals!!

TEP
Guest
TEP

It is nothing short of despicable that Majumdar repeatedly refers to Syrian government as Syrian “regime”, or it’s legal forces as “regime forces”. Consequently I will not read any further articles by this author. The Duran really has gone downhill with some of it’s choices of contributors.

Joe King
Guest
Joe King

Why is the Syrian government always called a regime? What about the American Regime?

Mike
Guest
Mike

Ask the 400,000 Syrian citizens that got killed by the regime! Oups, you cant, they are dead!

fred
Guest
fred

note to self don’t feed the troll

Zara Ali
Guest

“…that transferring advanced weapons systems into irresponsible hands will increase the dangers in the region, and added that Israel will continue to defend its security and its interests.”
Yet another example of how Zionism breeds a delusional and thoroughly dysfunctional psyche and how it kills the conscience. Each time these psychopaths pass a judgment on others it is strikingly similar to their own true image. Self-deception and self-righteousness reigns… hypocritical piety rules… leaves the common man with even the most basic common sense flabbergasted.

AM Hants
Member
AM Hants

Thanks John Tosh, for the Jimmy Dores link. Well worth viewing. The Professor, the voice of common sense.

Bombshell: Professor Stuns MSNBC Panel On Syria… https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=240&v=_O2TRzA2ezk

Victor
Guest
Victor

Of course the Russians will hand over operations of the S-300s to Syria (whom they have already trained). This is a necessity from the Russian perspective. Why? Because if Russia retains control, this means that if the Israelis attack syrian territory again, the decision to shoot them down will lie squarely with Russia, not the Assad government, which of course means that if Russia shoots them down, it is instantaneous war on a wider scale, whilst if Russia does not shoot them down, then they are betraying the Syrians by allowing the Israelis full access to Syrian targets. No, the… Read more »

ZirconMach20
Guest
ZirconMach20

Syrian crews HAVE ALREADY been trained to handle the S-300s since 2013, and the F-35 would be a fat juicy target for the S-300 considering the much older S-200 ALREADY shot down an Israeli F-35 earlier this year, but which the Israelis claimed was brought down by a bird. Majumdar is either ignorant or is a cheerleader for US junk weaponry.

fred
Guest
fred

i cant find it anymore bet there was a story about how F 22 pilots were complaining that they were painted by russian radar

JNDillard
Guest
JNDillard

It would be tragic to see one, two, or three of those new F-35’s shot down. That would pretty well put the end to the Israeli/US myth of military invincibility. With Russians operating the S-300’s, and as many as eight S-300’s to be supplied to Syria, according to Southfront.org, the bottom line is that Israel’s days of using fighter aircraft to attack Syria are over. They may still use drones and long-range cruise missiles, however.

Mish
Guest
Mish

“Poorly trained and motivated Syrian troops”? What is Majumdar smoking? At least they are better motivated than the Israel and US proxy faux jihadniks, apparently. In the quoted Russian MoD statement about the suspension of S-300 delivery, doesn’t it say that the Syrian crews had been trained already in 2013, before the delivery was suspended? And it’s far from a cinch that it was Syrian air defenses who shot that plane down. The flight trajectory suggests otherwise. The Il-20 was way far from the Israeli jets when it was shot down. The French fired one or several missiles. Where did… Read more »

stephan williams
Guest
stephan williams

What an embarrassing piece of pro-Israeli, pro US propaganda! Who does the author work for? Mossad or the CIA?

Karl
Guest
Karl

If Israel doesn’t invade Syria’s airspace and kill it’s people they will have nothing to worry about!

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Kiev ‘Patriarch’ prepares to seize Moscow properties in Ukraine

Although Constantinople besought the Kiev church to stop property seizures, they were ignored and used, or perhaps, complicit.

Seraphim Hanisch

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The attack on the Eastern Orthodox Church, brought about by the US State Department and its proxies in Constantinople and Ukraine, is continuing. On October 20, 2018, the illegitimate “Kyiv (Kiev) Patriarchate”, led by Filaret Denisenko who is calling himself “Patriarch Filaret”, had a synodal meeting in which it changed the commemoration title of the leader of the church to include the Kyiv Caves and Pochaev Lavras.

This is a problem because Metropolitan Onuphry of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which is canonically accepted and acts as a very autonomous church under the Moscow Patriarchate has these places under his pastoral care.

This move takes place only one week after Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople unilaterally (and illegally) lifted the excommunications, depositions (removal from priestly ranks as punishment) and anathemas against Filaret and Makary that were imposed on them by the hierarchy of the Moscow Patriarchate.

These two censures are very serious matters in the Orthodox Church. Excommunication means that the person or church so considered cannot receive Holy Communion or any of the other Mysteries (called Sacraments in the West) in a neighboring local Orthodox Church. Anathema is even more serious, for this happens when a cleric disregards his excommunication and deposition (removal from the priesthood), and acts as a priest or a bishop anyway.

Filaret Denisenko received all these censures in 1992, and Patriarch Bartholomew accepted this decision at the time, as stated in a letter he sent to Moscow shortly after the censures. However, three years later, Patriarch Bartholomew received a group of Ukrainian autocephalist bishops called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in the USA, who had been in communion with Filaret’s group. While this move may have been motivated by the factor of Bartholomew’s almost total isolation within Istanbul, Turkey, it is nonetheless non-canonical.

This year’s moves have far exceeded previous ones, though, and now the possibility for a real clash that could cost lives is raised. With Filaret’s “church” – really an agglomeration of Ukrainian ultranationalists and Neo-Nazis in the mix, plus millions of no doubt innocent Ukrainian faithful who are deluded about the problems of their church, challenging an existing arrangement regarding Ukraine and Russia’s two most holy sites, the results are not likely to be good at all.

Here is the report about today’s developments, reprinted in part from OrthoChristian.com:

Meeting today in Kiev, the Synod of the schismatic “Kiev Patriarchate” (KP) has officially changed the title of its primate, “Patriarch” Philaret, to include the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras under his jurisdiction.

The primate’s new official title, as given on the site of the KP, is “His Holiness and Beatitude (name), Archbishop and Metropolitan of Kiev—Mother of the cities of Rus’, and Galicia, Patriarch of All Rus’-Ukraine, Svyaschenno-Archimandrite of the Holy Dormition Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras.”

…Thus, the KP Synod is declaring that “Patriarch” Philaret has jurisdiction over the Kiev Caves and Pochaev Lavras, although they are canonically under the omophorion of His Beatitude Metropolitan Onuphry of Kiev and All Ukraine, the primate of the canonical Ukrainian Orthodox Church.

Philaret and his followers and nationalistic radicals have continually proclaimed that they will take the Lavras for themselves.

This claim to the ancient and venerable monasteries comes after the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate announced that it had removed the anathema placed upon Philaret by the Russian Orthodox Church and had restored him to his hierarchical office. Philaret was a metropolitan of the canonical Church, becoming patriarch in his schismatic organization.

Representatives of the Ecumenical Patriarchate have clarified that they consider Philaret to be the “former Metropolitan of Kiev,” but he and his organization continue to consider him an active patriarch, with jurisdiction in Ukraine.

Constantinople’s statement also appealed to all in Ukraine to “avoid appropriation of churches, monasteries, and other properties,” which the Synod of the KP ignored in today’s decision.

The KP primate’s abbreviated title will be, “His Holiness (name), Patriarch of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine,” and the acceptable form for relations with other Local Churches is “His Beatitude Archbishop (name), Metropolitan of Kiev and All Rus’-Ukraine.”

The Russian Orthodox Church broke eucharistic communion and all relations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate over this matter earlier this week. Of the fourteen local Orthodox Churches recognized the world over, twelve have expressed the viewpoint that Constantinople’s move was in violation of the canons of the Holy Orthodox Church. Only one local Church supported Constantinople wholeheartedly, and all jurisdictions except Constantinople have appealed for an interOrthodox Synod to address and solve the Ukrainian matter in a legitimate manner.

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Claims of Khashoggi death by fistfight expose Saudi brutality

The brutality of both state claims and unproven allegations in Khashoggi’s death raise serious questions about American alliances.

Seraphim Hanisch

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On October 2, 2018, Muslim Brotherhood member and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi entered the Saudi Arabian embassy in Turkey, never to be seen or heard from again.

This chilling report has been answered with some horrifying and grisly stories about what happened – that he was dismembered while still alive, that his body parts were dissolved completely in acid, leaving nothing left.

Now after two weeks, the Saudi official word on what happened came out: He died in an unexpected fistfight in the embassy.

Really. That is the Saudi’s explanation. A fistfight. In an embassy. With 18 people detained as suspects in the investigation.

And apparently the Saudi government expects the world to accept this explanation and just let it go.

This situation has just exposed the true nature of this “ally” of the United States. Even Rush Limbaugh, a staunch supporter of all conservative positions in America, has spoken from time to time about the amazing disconnect in American foreign policy with regards to Saudi Arabia. He continued that on his radio programs on both October 18th and 19th, 2018, as shown in this excerpted transcript, with emphasis added:

I’m simplifying this, folks, but generally that’s what happens. So, by the same token, you could say that this militant terrorist Islam that we’ve known since 9/11 and maybe 10, 15 years prior, that has been sponsored by Saudi Arabia, by the Saudi royal family. It’s why so many people have been upset with so many American presidents being buddy-buddy with the king, whoever he happens to be. The Saudis always fund former presidents’ libraries. I mean, the Saudis had a good thing going. They had relationships with every president, former president and so forth.

And while they were selling us oil, sometimes. Cooperative or uncooperative, depending on the time, with price. But during all of that, they were the primary thrust for Wahhabi Islam. Now, here comes MbS (Mohammed bin Salman, the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia), and he wants to just reform the hell out of the country, get rid of Wahhabism, bring in petrodollars competitors such as Hollywood and Silicon Valley and basically bring Saudi Arabia into the twenty-first century instead of the seventh. And there’s some people that don’t want that to happen.

And from the 19th:

Wahhabi Islam is where the really radical clerics and Imams are who are welcoming anybody they can into their mosques and just literally converting them into suicide bombers, terrorists, and what have you, under the auspices of Islam. And the Saudi royal family stood by and let it all happen. Whether they were instrumental in advocating it, don’t know, but Saudi-funded charities all over the world promoted Wahhabism.

And that’s when I went back to Mr. Buckley and said, “I don’t see how the Saudi royal family, the Saudi government can be separated from these 19 hijackers.”

Now in the rest of these transcripts, which are very interesting, Rush explains that Khashoggi was a Muslim Brotherhood member, and as such, stood opposed to MbS’ reform plans and actions. However the brutality of the alleged murder of Mr. Khashoggi, and the official “State version” account of his death are almost equally brutal. Death by fists? How is it that the United States considers such people allies?

President Trump is on record as saying that this explanation by the Saudi government is “credible.” However, this statement alone is out of context, so we bring you the entire statement:

This is not to be misunderstood as a Trump endorsement of belief. He points out that this is a first step, and that in his view it is a good one, but that is all.

Still, these events throw the real nature of the Saudi kingdom into sharp relief. They are the number one customer for US military equipment, now considered allies against Iran. In the complicated field of Middle East relations, the president’s caution is probably very wise for the moment. However, this is a nation which produced most of the 9/11 hijackers, which is said to be the last voice in what Islam is, and so promotes a very violent interpretation of an already violent faith.

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The news and information media got a great lesson in following something like “due process” with this matter, and while the President is doing that, this situation still invites some strong speculation. Allies that simultaneously seek an allied nation’s destruction do not seem like allies much at all. And embassies are usually held to be very safe places for people, not places where they meet their death in any way at all, let alone the cruel means alleged and later claimed.

This event may actually be very damaging to the Saudi Crown Prince’s effort to bring his nation out of Wahhabism and into some more kind interpretation of Islam, and indeed the West’s assessment of Khashoggi has taken to calling him a “teddy bear” when he is a Muslim Brotherhood member. Former US President Obama supported the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and these people were so violent, killing Christians and destroying homes and businesses, that the Muslim Brotherhood’s uprising was followed by a second uprising from the more reasonable people in Egypt (which Obama promptly dropped).

If reports are to be believed, Mohammed bin Salman wants to end Wahhabism. It would seem to logically make sense that his agencies were involved in what happened to Kashoggi, who is a known critic of bin Salman. But if it really is true that the Saudi royals were not involved, then whoever it was certainly succeeded in stopping bin Salman’s efforts to modernize his country, at least for now.

 

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The future of war: UAE hires U.S. mercenaries to assassinate political leaders (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 137.

Alex Christoforou

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An investigation by BuzzFeed News has revealed that Middle East Monarchy, United Arab Emirates, hired U.S. mercenaries to assassinate political leaders and religious clerical leaders in war torn Yemen.

The U.S. ex-military, elite soldiers were paid by to kill those designated as “terrorists” by the UAE.

The UAE worked with the U.S. based mercenary-for-hire Spear Operations Group, founded by Israeli-American Abraham Golan, who told BuzzFeed News…

“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen. I was running it.”

Spear Operations Group’s first target in Yemen was Anssaf Ali Mayo, the local leader of the Islamist political party Al-Islah, a party whose members include Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkul Karman.

Is this the future of war?

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and International Affairs and Security Analyst via Moscow, Mark Sleboda discuss the stunning Buzzfeed News article that exposes the dangerous and dark assassination strategy of the United Arab Emirates, hiring American ex-soldiers to target and kill political enemies.

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Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Authored by Aram Roston via BuzzFeed News…


The operation against Mayo — which was reported at the time but until now was not known to have been carried out by American mercenaries — marked a pivot point in the war in Yemen, a brutal conflict that has seen children starved, villages bombed, and epidemics of cholera roll through the civilian population. The bombing was the first salvo in a string of unsolved assassinations that killed more than two dozen of the group’s leaders.

The company that hired the soldiers and carried out the attack is Spear Operations Group, incorporated in Delaware and founded by Abraham Golan, a charismatic Hungarian Israeli security contractor who lives outside of Pittsburgh. He led the team’s strike against Mayo.

“There was a targeted assassination program in Yemen,” he told BuzzFeed News. “I was running it. We did it. It was sanctioned by the UAE within the coalition.”

The UAE and Saudi Arabia lead an alliance of nine countries in Yemen, fighting what is largely a proxy war against Iran. The US is helping the Saudi-UAE side by providing weapons, intelligence, and other support.

The press office of the UAE’s US Embassy, as well as its US public affairs company, Harbour Group, did not respond to multiple phone calls and emails.

The revelations that a Middle East monarchy hired Americans to carry out assassinations comes at a moment when the world is focused on the alleged murder of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi by Saudi Arabia, an autocratic regime that has close ties to both the US and the UAE. (The Saudi Embassy in the US did not respond to a request for comment. Riyadh has denied it killed Khashoggi, though news reports suggest it is considering blaming his death on a botched interrogation.)

Golan said that during his company’s months-long engagement in Yemen, his team was responsible for a number of the war’s high-profile assassinations, though he declined to specify which ones. He argued that the US needs an assassination program similar to the model he deployed. “I just want there to be a debate,” he said. “Maybe I’m a monster. Maybe I should be in jail. Maybe I’m a bad guy. But I’m right.”

Spear Operations Group’s private assassination mission marks the confluence of three developments transforming the way war is conducted worldwide:

  • Modern counterterrorism combat has shifted away from traditional military objectives — such as destroying airfields, gun emplacements, or barracks — to killing specific individuals, largely reshaping war into organized assassinations.
  • War has become increasingly privatized, with many nations outsourcing most military support services to private contractors, leaving frontline combat as virtually the only function that the US and many other militaries have not contracted out to for-profit ventures.
  • The long US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have relied heavily on elite special forces, producing tens of thousands of highly trained American commandos who can demand high private-sector salaries for defense contracting or outright mercenary work.

With Spear Operations Group’s mission in Yemen, these trends converged into a new and incendiary business: militarized contract killing, carried out by skilled American fighters.

Experts said it is almost inconceivable that the United States would not have known that the UAE — whose military the US has trained and armed at virtually every level — had hired an American company staffed by American veterans to conduct an assassination program in a war it closely monitors.

One of the mercenaries, according to three sources familiar with the operation, used to work with the CIA’s “ground branch,” the agency’s equivalent of the military’s special forces. Another was a special forces sergeant in the Maryland Army National Guard. And yet another, according to four people who knew him, was still in the Navy Reserve as a SEAL and had a top-secret clearance. He was a veteran of SEAL Team 6, or DEVGRU, the sources told BuzzFeed News. The New York Times once described that elite unit, famous for killing Osama bin Laden, as a “global manhunting machine with limited outside oversight.”

The CIA said it had no information about the mercenary assassination program, and the Navy’s Special Warfare Command declined to comment. A former CIA official who has worked in the UAE initially told BuzzFeed News there was no way that Americans would be allowed to participate in such a program. But after checking, he called back: “There were guys that were basically doing what you said.” He was astonished, he said, by what he learned: “What vetting procedures are there to make sure the guy you just smoked is really a bad guy?” The mercenaries, he said, were “almost like a murder squad.”

Whether Spear’s mercenary operation violates US law is surprisingly unclear. On the one hand, US law makes it illegal to “conspire to kill, kidnap, maim” someone in another country. Companies that provide military services to foreign nations are supposed to be regulated by the State Department, which says it has never granted any company the authority to supply combat troops or mercenaries to another country.

Yet, as BuzzFeed News has previously reported, the US doesn’t ban mercenaries. And with some exceptions, it is perfectly legal to serve in foreign militaries, whether one is motivated by idealism or money. With no legal consequences, Americans have served in the Israel Defense Forces, the French Foreign Legion, and even a militia fighting ISIS in Syria. Spear Operations Group, according to three sources, arranged for the UAE to give military rank to the Americans involved in the mission, which might provide them legal cover.

Despite operating in a legal and political gray zone, Golan heralds his brand of targeted assassinations as a precision counterterrorism strategy with fewer civilian casualties. But the Mayo operation shows that this new form of warfare carries many of the same old problems. The commandos’ plans went awry, and the intelligence proved flawed. And their strike was far from surgical: The explosive they attached to the door was designed to kill not one person but everyone in the office.

Aside from moral objections, for-profit targeted assassinations add new dilemmas to modern warfare. Private mercenaries operate outside the US military’s chain of command, so if they make mistakes or commit war crimes, there is no clear system for holding them accountable. If the mercenaries had killed a civilian in the street, who would have even investigated?

The Mayo mission exposes an even more central problem: the choice of targets. Golan insists that he killed only terrorists identified by the government of the UAE, an ally of the US. But who is a terrorist and who is a politician? What is a new form of warfare and what is just old-fashioned murder for hire? Who has the right to choose who lives and who dies — not only in the wars of a secretive monarchy like the UAE, but also those of a democracy such as the US?

BuzzFeed News has pieced together the inside story of the company’s attack on Al-Islah’s headquarters, revealing what mercenary warfare looks like now — and what it could become.

Full Story at BuzzFeed News…

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