Posts

The Two Ukraine’s

“Obama is just not up to the task—a geopolitical lightweight who was easily outmaneuvered in Syria and Iran.”

Cover - The Colder WarThat’s Marin Katusa, writing in his new book, “The Colder War: How the Global Energy Trade Slipped from America’s Grasp”. Katusa is no fan of President Obama, but one might wonder who is these days other than the 48% of Americans who think he’s doing a great job. Calling them stupid as the now famed Jonathan Gruber of ObamaCare fame has done is not far from the mark.

Katusa is a successful fund manager with a specialty of investing in the energy sector and helping to create energy companies. Along the way he has been to many nations around the world to see firsthand how their governments impact the energy companies working domestically and beyond. This is particularly true of Russia’s Vladimir Putin who took the collapsed Soviet Union and brought Russia back to life as the Russian Federation. At the core of the revival were and are his energy strategies.

That is what is at work these days in the Ukraine, divided between those who want it to join the European Union and NATO, and those who want to ally with Russia. Katusa reminds us that “At one time, Ukraine was Russia. Kievan Rus, the first East Slavic state, was established by the Varangians in the ninth century.”

“At the end of the eighteenth century, Ukraine was partitioned, with a small slice going to Austria/Hungary and the rest to the Russian Empire. The second decade of the twentieth century was as chaotic for Ukraine as it was for the rest of Europe. Civil War raged from 1917 to 1921, with a host of factions vying for control of the government of the newly proclaimed Ukrainian Republic. Their sovereign state proved to be short-lived.”

“By 1922, the Ukrainian army was overpowered and the nation became the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic.” World War Two was a horror for Ukraine. One out of every six Ukrainians died during the war, many of whom sided with Nazi Germany against Russia. It was recaptured in 1944 by the USSR.

Why is it important to Putin and Russia in 2014?

He wants to ensure that Ukraine, via pipelines, accommodates Russia’s natural gas production to buyers in Europe. “Half of Russia’s gas exports to the European Union (which cover 25 percent of the EU’s consumption) pass through Ukraine.”

Putin also needs to ensure that the Russian Navy has a secure port at Sebastopol on the Crimean Peninsula for to access to the Black Sea. Moreover, having Ukraine in its sphere of influence provides what the former USSR satellite nations did, a buffer that keeps NATO at a distance. Russia annexed Crimea shortly after Ukraine had political problems in March 2014.

Finally, Putin wants Moscow to be seen as the protector of all Russian people, including the eight million, 18% of Ukraine’s population, who live in the eastern part of the nation.

“For 15 million Ukrainians, about one-third of the population, Russian is the first language,” notes Katusa, “They are concentrated in the eastern parts of the country, and in some areas, including Crimea, they are a majority.”

In a very real sense, the Ukraine is actually two nations, a western leaning one and an eastern leaning one. When “an independent Ukraine emerged in 1991 after the collapse of the Soviet Union” it was, as Katusa notes, a country that was plagued by corruption and political intrigue from day one. For Russia, pre-and-post collapse, it has always been a real pain, often stealing gas from the pipelines passing through it or defaulting on payment for its use.

I will pass on the politics of Ukraine that got us all to this point, but suffice to say that Putin’s efforts to bring at least the eastern portion under Russian influence or control has not gone down well with European nations, virtually all of whom are highly dependent on the gas and oil they purchase from Russia. The U.S. has put sanctions on Russia and Canada’s Prime Minister, Stephen Harper, bluntly told Putin to get out of the Ukraine at the recent G-20 conference in Australia.

The fear is that, if Putin is successful in breaking away the eastern half of Ukraine, he would not only want the other half but set his eyes on former Soviet Union satellite nations in Eastern Europe.

Speaking in Australia after the G-20 conference, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel warned that Putin was practicing a foreign policy reminiscent of the Cold War. “This isn’t just about Ukraine” she said in a question-and-answer session. “This is about Moldova, this is about Georgia, and if this continues then one will have to ask about Serbia and one will have to ask about the countries of the Western Balkans.”

“What happens next in Ukraine,” writes Katusa, “is anyone’s guess. But it’s not likely to be pretty.” Putin has said he will not intervene militarily, but adds that he would act to protect the Russian population in its eastern half if he thought they were being threatened.

I personally believe Putin is far too canny to engage in an active overt military takeover of Ukraine. He is more likely to fund and arm the eastern half to a point where they can declare themselves a separate nation. It is doubtful that either the EU or NATO would intervene. Russia has already demonstrated that it would turn off the gas if they did. That would essentially shut down Europe.

A new, Colder War is developing says Katusa. “Its weapons would be oil wells, gas fields, uranium mines, energy processing plants, pipelines, and ports. Again, Europe would be the primary zone of engagement even though the United States would be the primary opponent.”

Now consider this. Prior to and during the past six years of the Obama administration, the environmental movement in the U.S. has thrown up all manner of obstacles to the development of any of the U.S. reserves of coal, oil, and natural gas. The refusal to approve a Canadian oil pipeline to our Gulf coast is just one dramatic example, the failure to be able to tap the huge energy reserves in Alaska is another, and the slowness of issuing permits to seek oil on federal lands and offshore is another.

For two decades the U.S. has tied its own hands despite being the Saudi Arabia of coal and having more oil than any other nation. The size of our natural gas reserves is huge. And we need to be building more nuclear facilities to generate electricity. Instead, the EPA is forcing coal-fired plants out of business. Our electrical grid is in need of repair and expansion. Et cetera!

Putin must look at Obama and the U.S. and wonder just how stupid we are.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Putin manhandles Obama in Moscow’s propaganda art gallery

The artistic value of new Russian propaganda is way below its glorious Soviet predecessor, but the paranoid, attack-dog mentality remains the same.

According to Gazeta.ru, last Friday, at the “Flakon” art factory in Moscow, a pro-Putin group of nationalist youth called “Young Guard” together with the “patriotic artists and well-known graphic designers” organized an exhibition of over 100 political cartoons glorifying the policies of President Vladimir Putin and demonizing his opponents. The politically “correct” organizers must have been too dead-serious about their sycophancy to notice the grotesque irony of the event’s title, “Without Filters.”

Forget the filters. The exhibited artists had to be wearing blindfolds not to notice the dangerous cusp to which the current Russia’s regime has taken the country by whipping the nationalistic fervor, xenophobia, and paranoia. They have portrayed Putin as a hero, a winner, and savior of the nation at a time when Russia’s ruble is crumbling, the country’s international standing has hit a new low, and the falling oil prices threaten to knock out Russia’s oil-oriented economy, which Putin had a chance to diversify, but didn’t.

Instead, the Russian president is shown as a winner who knocks out a bloodied man resembling Vitali Klitschko – a heavyweight boxing world champion from Ukraine, who became a politician leading his own country towards independence.

Another drawing pictures Putin on top of a tank, addressing two peasant girls to ask if they had seen any fascists around. The girls have the faces of Barack Obama and Ukraine’s president Petro Poroshenko, whom the artist apparently considers to be “fascists” and who had disguised themselves out of fear of being caught.

The event organizer, “Young Guard,” is to Vladimir Putin’s puppet political party “United Russia” what the Soviet Young Communist League was to the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Not coincidentally, it is named after a glorified, if mostly fictional, underground militia group who fought the Nazis on the occupied territories during WWII. Decades after the Nazis had been defeated, the Soviet and now Russian government have continued to steep generations of young people in the same Stalinist war-time mythology – keeping alive the memory, the hatred, and the eagerness to throw themselves under the tanks and die defending the Motherland against the fascists.

When your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Similarly, just about every opponent of the regime has become a fascist. Putin only needs to point a finger. Today, his finger is pointing at Ukraine – and thus the fascists and the Nazis are now all those Ukrainians, from politicians to common citizens, who want to join the West and are defending their country against Russia’s aggression.

Putin’s finger is further pointing to the United States and other Western countries that oppose Putin’s corrupt regime and his militaristic policies. Hence the self-righteous anti-American, anti-Western, and “anti-fascist” hysteria that is sweeping today’s Russia, causing many, including famous actors and writers, to come out with shrill anti-Western rhetoric. Some of them go as far as travel to the “historic Russian territories” controlled by the puppet pro-Russian “separatists” and shoot some Ukrainians.

Once again, they are so dead-serious about their “anti-fascist” delusion that they fail to notice it’s their own rhetoric and their own actions that quite accurately resemble the rhetoric and the actions of the German Nazis on the brink of WWII, complete with militant nationalism, cult of the strong leader, resurrection of Aryan mythology, and popular support for Hitler’s annexation of “historic German territories” in France, Poland, and Czechoslovakia.

The “patriotic” exhibition in question is a fair reflection of such a mindset – from glorification of blood and violence to fascistic symbolism and dehumanization of the opponent to conspiracy theories and the supremacy of Russia “uber alles.”

Quite a few pictures ridicule Barack Obama, who is being spanked, pulled by the ear, and even has a barrel of a gun stuck in his bloodied face by Vladimir Putin. In one such poster, Putin and Obama are watering a tree. On Putin’s side the tree is green, while on the U.S. President’s side it’s dead, with human skulls showing through the roots. Without defending Obama’s policies, it would be fair to say that in this metaphor Putin’s side of the tree would really be on fire.

There is a picture where Putin hands out a saw and a log to the leaders of Germany and Ukraine, as a way of saying that their countries may have to heat their homes with firewood this winter because Putin has the power to turn off the supply of Russia’s gas. The writing on the saw says, “From Russia with love,” but it might as well be “Who’s your daddy?”

One image depicts Putin as the owner of the Crimea, inviting world leaders to have a pleasant visit. Another one shows world leaders holding signs saying, “Forgive us, Putin,” with only the leaders of the U.S., Germany, and Poland talking about sanctions.

At least in two cartoons Putin is pulling Obama’s ear. In another, Putin is holding up a cell phone for a selfie, with a defeated Obama behind him. An objective observer might conclude that the Russian leader is just as vain as Obama, but in the eyes of the artist that’s obviously a merit. There is a cartoon showing a bare-chested Putin riding a bear with an owl on his shoulder, next to Obama who is riding a donkey, with the American eagle sitting on his head.

There is also a collection of macho images of Vladimir Putin on a wall behind Barack Obama, who is sitting with crossed fingers, hoping those images had been Photoshopped. Of course, the whole world knows that those are real photos – they had been carefully staged by professional art directors in a project that cost the Russian taxpayers a lot more money than mere computer graphics.

There are many other comparisons between Putin and Obama – mostly derivative, crude collages that blatantly steal brownie points from American Photoshoppers. Truth be told, in the past this author himself has made quite a few scathing images of Obama, including the unflattering comparisons of our president with Vladimir Putin. However, the fact that Americans are freely ridiculing their own president somehow escapes the “patriotic” Russian artists who promote Putin while depicting his critics as fascists and demons.

Whatever your views of the sitting American president, make no mistake: Barack Obama is not a factor here. This phenomenon would be happening regardless of who the U.S. president is. If it were Ted Cruz, they’d be making pictures of Putin spanking Ted Cruz. And instead of cleverly helping Republicans to ridicule Obama, the Kremlin’s propaganda would be just as cleverly helping the Democrats to ridicule Cruz. In 2016, Obama’s face will be simply replaced with that of whoever the next U.S. president will be, Republican or Democrat. And that would be the face reflected in Putin’s cool sunglasses in the poster where the Russian president is sticking a pistol barrel into the bloodied mouth of the American president.

In the not-so-distant Soviet past, graphic artists had neither freedom of expression, nor commercial outlets for their creativity. The only game in town left for those who had talent was to work for the state and to create visual propaganda that glorified the Party and its leaders, while demonizing the enemies. A few gifted artists went that route, producing unforgettable classics of the genre and brilliantly executing otherwise rotten concepts.

Things are different now. Even with the corrupt and oligarchic version of capitalism that exists in today’s Russia, gifted artists have a variety of commercial venues and a much greater freedom of expression – a situation in which they don’t have to sell out to the powers that be. You won’t see their names in this gallery. As a matter of fact, this collection represents the scrapings from the bottom of Russia’s artistic barrel.

And yet, in spite of its lack of artistic or intellectual insight, this “patriotic” exhibition it is a fair representation of the depraved state of mind of millions of zombified Putin’s supporters. The straw men they are fighting may be imaginary, but the paranoid worldview of Russia’s regime and the crowds behind it is a grim reality to be reckoned with.

See more complete slide shows on Russian websites here and here. These are only some samples:

Back from the Dead: The Return of the Evil Empire

Below is a book cover I designed last month for Cliff Kincaid’s Back from the Dead: The Return of the Evil Empire written by him and three other authors. The book is now on Amazon.
Stalin_Poster_300.jpg
I modeled it on an iconic Stalin-era poster, changing Stalin to Putin and adding a peeling tri-color flag of the new Russia. The bad Soviet paint that had been hastily brushed over the old flag in the 1990s is now falling off in big clumps, revealing the solid red USSR flag with the hammer and sickle.

Putin is wearing a WWII-era St. Georgi ribbon on his chest, as do his murderous agents in the east of Ukraine today, falsely comparing their supremacist warfare on the independent Ukraine to WWII.

Since the old Evil Empire has now returned from its shallow grave, it is only appropriate that Putin would tower over a crowd of “undead” brainless followers. I had been tempted to sprinkle this gathering of zombies with the faces of modern Russian politicians and public figures, but they wouldn’t be recognizable in America anyway. The only face I couldn’t resist adding was that of Alexander Dugin (the bearded ghoul on the right), whose monstrous theories of Nazi-like national-chauvinism are fueling Russia’s modern supremacist movement, which Putin is so cleverly exploiting.

I got a complimentary copy of the book in today’s mail; it looks great and I can’t wait to read it. Here’s a synopsis from America’s Survival website.

A new book — Back from the Dead: The Return of the Evil Empire – exposes how America’s political leaders and intelligence agencies were caught off-guard as Vladimir Putin brought back the USSR, invaded Ukraine, and now threatens the world with a conflict that Putin’s apologists say could go nuclear.

The back cover and spine back from the dead

The back cover and spine. For a larger view click on the image.

The fall of the Berlin Wall misled many into thinking the Soviet KGB was dead. But infiltration of the West continued through “cultural Marxism,” and penetration by enemy agents, while the KGB, now called the FSB, looted Russia, consolidated its power, and rebuilt the Russian military, including its nuclear forces. America’s survival hangs in the balance.

Cliff Kincaid, founder and president of America’s Survival, Inc. (ASI), is a journalist and media analyst based in the Washington, D.C. area for almost 40 years and contributes one of the chapters in the new book. Other chapters are written by former KGB officer Konstantin Preobrazhensky and anti-communist analysts J.R. Nyquist and Toby Westerman. ASI has published the book, available on the website usasurvival.org and through Amazon.com

“Having fled from the Putin regime, Preobrazhensky understands modern-day Russia,” Kincaid said. “Analysts Nyquist and Westerman were writing about the return of Soviet military power under Putin at a time when Obama and Hillary were arranging a Russian policy ‘reset’ and Congress passed trade benefits for Russia.”

In reaction to assertions by some American conservatives such as Patrick J. Buchanan that Vladimir Putin is a Christian leader, Kincaid said that “We expose these claims as Russian disinformation, perhaps the greatest deception of all time.” The book describes in detail how Putin is using the Russian Orthodox Church as an ideological front in his war on the world, and how the Roman Catholic Church has failed to confront this evil. The book also examines how the KGB/FSB secretly manipulates Islamic and Palestinian terrorist groups and even the Iranian regime.

I have already made two book covers for Mr. Kincaid in the past, see them here.

back from the dead book cover

For a larger view click on the book cover.

Relearning The Cold War’s Harsh Lessons

Some very interesting realignments are taking place in the world, often between nations one would think have little in common. The threat of fanatical Islam in the form of the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda related groups has produced unexpected outcomes.

Russia, China and Iran are supporting Syria which is under attack from Islamist forces while the Saudis are eager to see the regime overthrown, apparently for the same reason. The United States is likely to use its military assets to demonstrate it is no paper tiger, having largely been in retreat in the Middle East since Obama took office.

At age 75 I lived much of my life during the Cold War from 1946 until 1989, some 43 years which culminated two years later in 1991 with the collapse of the former Soviet Union. Throughout that era it was, in the words of Ronald Reagan, the “evil empire.” Presidents from Harry Truman to George H.W. Bush had to base their decisions on what the Soviets and their satellite states were doing. At times it turned hot as in Korea and Vietnam.

It was the U.S. development of the atomic bomb and later the hydrogen bomb that dictated what occurred because neither nation wanted to engage in a nuclear war. Having stolen our nuclear secrets, the Soviets were able to develop their own and, later, Red China had the bomb as well. Other nations, too, would acquire their own. What emerged was the fear of “mutually assured destruction.”

This fear worked, but now the world is facing the prospect of an Islamic nation, Iran, having nuclear weapons (as does Pakistan) and, at that point, all bets are off. Islam embraces death as martyrdom and the gateway to paradise. In Iran, its leaders believe that massive human death and destruction is necessary to secure the return of the Twelfth Imam, a mythical figure, but one that is real to them.

In an excellent history, “The Cold War”, by John Lewis Gaddis, published originally in 2005, the reader is taken on a journey back to that era, but a goodly portion of the present U.S. population has little or no recall of it. Anyone age 24 or younger has no experience with the Cold War and likely no knowledge of it. The Korean War was fought in the 1950s and the Vietnam War in the 1970s.

The single lesson of the Cold War was that Communism could only exist if the governments that embraced it were led by despots and the full power of the state was used to maintain it. In the case of Russia and China, literally hundreds of millions died as a result. The closest example of Communism is Cuba, just ninety miles off the shore of Florida.

Other nations such as Venezuela and Nicaragua are essentially Communist, but the good news is that, during the course of the Cold War and in the wake of the demise of the Soviet Union, many new democracies have emerged. What occurred was the “globalization of democratization.” Gaddis notes that “By one count, the number of democracies quintupled during the last half of the 20th century, something that would never have been expected at the end of the first half.”

What Americans are witnessing, however, is the effort of the Obama administration to “transform” America into a close approximation of a Communist nation as more and more of its structure has come under the control of the federal government. It has been a long process that began at the beginning of the last century, ushered in with the Bolshevik revolution in Russia in 1917 and manifested here with a vastly expanded federal government and the creation of various “entitlement” programs that comprise some 60% of our annual budget.

Americans have become accustomed to a government that has extensive control over many sectors of its economy and other aspects of our lives. The educational system has been transformed into a form of politically correct indoctrination and one that consistently fails to teach the most fundamental skills, least of all the ability to think independently. The emphasis has gone from self-reliance to self-esteem.

These days, one in five households in America is on food stamps. Despite four years of failure to reverse the impact of the 2008 financial crisis, the nation remains mired in the longest non-recovery in its history since the Great Depression.

At the end of World War Two in 1945, in response to the Soviet Union’s takeover of Eastern Europe and the need to put Western Europe on a firm economic footing, the United States had to remain on a virtual wartime footing. Our troops would remain in Europe where the Marshall Plan was implemented to aid the recovery of our allies as well as West Germany. This was followed by the creation of NATO to provide military support against a possible Soviet invasion.

The U.S. had to lead the effort to force the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel. Later it would attempt to do the same thing to maintain South Vietnam. The former was a stalemate that exists to this day and the latter was a defeat.

During this period, the Soviet Union remained the focus of U.S. attention. The CIA was created by Truman to monitor and respond to Soviet efforts to extend its influence such as the Communist takeover of Cuba in 1959. The expansionist efforts led to a fearful confrontation in 1962 when the U.S. demanded the removal of nuclear missiles that the Russians had placed in Cuba. The Russians backed down.

All during this time, from Stalin to Khrushchev, the real story of the Soviet Union was the continuing failure of Communism. Gaddis noted that “By 1971, the Soviet Union’s economy and those of its East European satellites were stagnating. By 1981, living standards inside the U.S.S.R. had deteriorated to such an extent that life expectancy was declining—an unprecedented phenomenon in an advance industrialized society. By the end of 1991, the Soviet Union itself, a model for Communism everywhere else, had ceased to exist.”

After the death of Stalin in 1953, the Soviet Union would be led by a succession of aging dictators until events required that a far younger leader, Mikhial Gorbachev, was installed in 1985, but it was too late and he came on the scene when powerful leaders, Ronald Reagan, Margaret Thatcher, and Pope John-Paul were positioned to resist.

Today, we have a President who told his Russian counterpart that he would have more “flexibility” after his reelection and, having imposed the takeover of the nation’s healthcare system, the expansion of federal power over the economy, and the vast expansion of its surveillance system, every American is learning what it was like to live under Communist domination.

Historically, the Cold War is over, but if the chill relationship between Putin’s Russia and Obama’s America is any indication, it still endures.

It doesn’t look to end anytime soon and the destruction of the U.S. dollar and our economy, a communist goal for decades, is well underway.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Arrest of 25 Ukrainian Nationalists by Russian Security Forces is Evidence of an “Asymmetric Operation”

LONDON, April 5, 2014 /PRNewswire/ — The tensions between Russia and Ukraine have dramatically increased as Russian security forces intercepted and detained 25 Ukrainian nationalists suspected of plotting sabotage acts and a major bombing campaign on the Russian mainland.

Professor Chris Bellamy

Professor Chris Bellamy

Professor Chris Bellamy, the leading military expert on Russia and the former Soviet Union monitoring these events, said: “Ultra-nationalists including the radical movement “Right Sector” within Ukraine may have seized on an opportunity to attempt to de-stabilise the region in the wake of the Crimea referendum. Such actions could increase tensions that already exist between NATO and its Allies with Russia if support for these factions continues and there are more sabotage and terrorist attempts made against Russia in the Rostov, Volgograd, Tver, Oryol and Belgorod regions.”

According to Russian news media reports, the Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has already charged the leader of “Right Sector” Dmitry Yarosh in absentia of criminal offences including plans to carry out terrorist and extremist activities on the Russian mainland. There are also reports that Yarosh had contacted the Chechen-based terrorist group leader Doku Umarov to help equip anti-Russian factions in the Ukraine with arms and ammunition.

“I would be surprised if such provocation would force the Russian Government to escalate the already tense situation that exists in the region. Russia has long faced terrorist threats, until now primarily connected with the Chechen issue, but these latest developments are worrying.

“Given the asymmetry of conventional military power between Ukraine and Russia it’s not at all surprising that factions in Ukraine might seek to undertake some sort of asymmetric – terrorist – operation.

“These events indicate there needs to be an urgent international peace conference in order for all sides to feel that their territorial integrity and security are recognised under international law. And steps to reduce the tension between Russia and Ukraine need to be taken in the short term to the satisfaction of all parties, rather than the escalation of tensions that fall directly into the hands of extremists,” observes Prof Bellamy.

Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) immediately distanced itself from the terrorist incursion into Russia, but according to Prof Bellamy the move had classic hallmarks of a covert operation.

“It serves Ukraine’s interests to claim it faces imminent attack from Russia and that it may have to fight a guerrilla war. This latest episode is worrying as it demonstrates how extremist elements could influence military decisions taken by the Ukrainian Armed Forces with dubious chances of achieving their aims and objectives,” says Prof Bellamy.

SOURCE: The office of Ardafrevesh Kolah FCIPR

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo was taken by Spetsnaz Alpha and is of Alpha Group – an elite, stand-alone sub-unit of Russia’s special forces and is a dedicated counter-terrorism task-force of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB). This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Obama’s War on America is His Top Priority

We all know that the “sanctions” Obama has placed on a few of Putin’s pals thus far and those Obama wants the European Union to impose will have no effect whatever on Putin’s decision to annex the Crimea from Ukraine.

One of Obama’s solutions to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty includes giving it a billion dollars because Russia has raised the price of the natural gas it sells to the Ukraine. This means Putin just made a billion while reacquiring Crimea.

One way to bring Russia to its knees would be for Obama–if he could–to impose the same things he is doing in America on the Russian Federation:

  • Require Russia to adopt Obamacare.
  • Ban the mining and use of coal in Russia.
  • Do not allow any drilling on Russian publicly-held land.
  • Redefine the Russian work week to 30 hours.
  • Raise the Russian minimum wage.
  • Mandate overtime pay for Russian government workers.
  • Demand that Russia pay welfare benefits to its illegal immigrants.
  • Require Russia to enact the same regulations as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Increase the Russian national debt by $6 trillion dollars.
  • Require Russia to reduce all elements of its military force and capabilities by reductions to its military budget.

These policies since 2009 have weakened the United States and, if applied to Russia, they would have the same effect. It’s bad enough what Obama has done and is doing to the U.S., but neither we nor the rest of the world would be better off with a weak Russia. Its economy is too tied into the world’s.

Putin insists that it was the West led by the U.S. that resulted in the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 after seventy years of communist rule, but it was Communism that brought it to its knees. The other element was a decline in the prices of oil and natural gas–still the primary source of income for the Russian Federation—that undermined its economy.

While a panoply of experts keeps talking about the prospect of Russia aggression toward its former satellite nations in Eastern Europe, the simple fact is that Putin’s reacquisition of the Crimea just added to Russia’s financial pressures. He can barely afford Crimea. All the hand-wringing about its annexation ignores the fact that it was part of Russia for hundreds of years.

Ruchir Sharma, the head of emerging markets at Morgan Stanley Investment Management, recently spelled out Russia’s economic woes in a Wall Street Journal commentary titled “Putin’s Potemkin Economy.”

“Mr. Putin’s real power base, the economy, is crumbling,” says Sharma. “Russia’s economic growth rate has plummeted from the 7% average annual pace of the last decade to 1.3% last year,” adding that “the Central Bank of the Russian Federation has been fighting to prevent a ruble collapse since the Crimean crisis began.”

Does that sound like a Russia that wants to invade its neighbors at this time?

“The result,” says Sharma, “is that the Russian state has few new sources of income outside of oil and gas, at a time when it is taking on more dependents” in Crimea. As for the rest of the Ukraine population, it’s only the younger generation that did not grow up under the oppression of the former Soviet Russia that thinks giving up its sovereignty is a good idea. Ukrainians with a memory of the pre-1991 days know better.

Europe, much of which depends on Russian gas, will be in no hurry to punish Russia beyond a few relatively meaningless sanctions. It’s all a charade.

It’s true that Europe went to war twice for far less reason than the Crimean annexation, but its present leaders have no wish to repeat that error for all the talk about international law.

What is being debated now is whether Putin will, for whatever reason, invade Ukraine. Only Putin knows that and the decision would be a bad one for him and everyone else.

As we strive to survive Obama’s war on the U.S. economy and the current havoc resulting from Obamacare, it is doubtful that even Obama has any inclination to see Russia collapse and could not reverse the Crimean situation even if he cared about it.

He doesn’t seem to care about what he’s doing to the rest of us so it’s the war at home which we have to survive.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Russia controls Crimea, Ukraine plans joint exercises with US & UK. Anyone listening?

Masked by the media frenzy and focus on the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, Russian President Vladimir Putin is increasing his military incursion into Crimea, while Ukraine struggles to defend its sovereign nation. Faced by the Russian threat, Ukraine’s security chief announced it would hold joint military exercises with the United States and Britain.

As reported by the Associated Press, “Ukraine’s government said Wednesday it has begun drawing up plans to pull its troops from Crimea, where Russia is steadily taking formal control as its armed forces seize military installations across the disputed peninsula.” The most recent action involves masked Russian-speaking troops who seized control over Ukraine’s naval headquarters in the city of Sevastopol.

The several hundred militiamen who captured the base in Sevastopol met no resistance. The Russian-speaking troops, who arrived on the base after the storming, wore helmets, flak jackets and uniforms with no identifying insignia — a clear Geneva Convention violation. By afternoon, they were in full control of the naval headquarters.

Ukraine’s defense minister and deputy prime minister had planned to travel to Crimea on Wednesday in bid to avert an escalation in hostilities. But Sergei Aksyonov, the prime minister in Crimea, warned after the announcement of their departure that they would be turned back. And so it seems Crimea is indeed no longer a part of Ukraine — it is Russian — while the world stands by and watches. And as this video by The UK Guardian shows, for Pro-Russian separatists, Crimea is only the beginning.

Russian news agencies on Wednesday cited Constitutional Court chairman Valery Zorkin as saying the treaty signed by Putin has been ruled valid, thus formally clearing another hurdle for Moscow to annex Crimea.

In a warning to Moscow, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden declared the United States will respond to any aggression against its NATO allies, which include neighbors to Russia. “Russia cannot escape the fact that the world is changing and rejecting outright their behavior,” Biden said, after meeting in Vilnius with the presidents of Lithuania and Latvia. Ukraine’s secretary of the National Security and Defense Council, said today that his country will hold maneuvers with the countries that signed the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, but he didn’t give any specifics.

The 1994 Budapest Memorandum was signed by the U.S., Britain and Russia to guarantee Ukraine’s territorial integrity when it surrendered its share of Soviet nuclear arsenals to Russia — how’s that working so far? Seems the only country holding maneuvers is indeed Russia — and not guaranteeing Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.

As well, it seems Russia is now massing forces for “military maneuvers” near the Estonian border — any ethnic Russians there? The proverbial clock is ticking and twelve F-16s are not going to send a message. I think I know a great mission for the A-10 Warthogs. Oops, I forgot, Defense Secretary Hagel wants to retire that fleet — supposedly it’s outdated and its original mission is no longer valid. Think again, Mr. Hagel.

RELATED STORY: Washington Post: Goodbye, Russia; hello again, Cold War-era Group of Seven

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com. The featured image is of a Ukrainian 9K22 Tunguska SAM during the Independence Day parade in Kiev, Ukraine in 2008.  The photo was taken by Michael and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

Soviet Socialism in the 21st Century – World War III: The Deadly Boomerang of Stalinism

I write about Stalin, because I am a child of Stalinism. I saw and heard Stalin many times. As a young girl, I was mesmerized, like the vast majority of Russian people, listening to him. At the time I did not know the meaning of the word “propaganda.” Growing up, I have learned this word and I am surprised to hear propaganda here, in America. The recent attempt to present Communism (socialism) in America as “our bright future,” is appalling. Watching this difficult political time in America, I found some resemblances with Soviet Socialism here. Unfortunately, both the Democrats and Republicans are not competent on the subject: hence the nature of our country is openly and fundamentally transforming.

It is for this reason I published an earlier article, presenting Josef Stalin and his ideology—Stalinism, a developed system of Soviet Socialism. His domestic policies destroyed Russian agriculture and industry; however they could not be implemented and enforced without the involvement of Stalin’s security apparatus, including secret police. Seeing a rare situation on the globe and America’s vulnerability today, I purposely used the image of a deadly boomerang in the article, because Stalin also waged a war against Western civilization. I gave this war a new title—WW III.

Glenn Beck continually warns his listeners that WW III is coming. His efforts to prepare Americans for the war should be praised. Yet, with all my respect to Glenn and his activities to prevent the tragedy, in this particular topic, he is wrong. WW III began decades ago and never ended. To confirm my statement, let me give you some background and a document, which shows the details and significance of the war already upon us.

red cocaine book coverStalin’s idea of a world government under the Kremlin’s auspices has been a major agenda of the Communist Party for all further leaders. The ideology translated into expansion, invasion, and occupation: the East European Warsaw Pact testified to that.

In 1955, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev gave the idea to the members of the Communist Party—drugs and narcotics trafficking should be viewed as a strategic operation that would directly weaken the enemy. “Accordingly, he ordered a joint military-civilian, Soviet-Czechoslovak study to examine the total effect of drug… on Western society; its effects on labor productivity, education, the military (the ultimate target at that time), and its use in support of the Soviet Bloc intelligence operations.” Red Cocaine, The Drugging of America, by Joseph D, Douglass, Jr. Clarion House, 1990.

The effects of drugs were analyzed by scientists from the Soviet Academy of Sciences and the conclusions were that the drug trafficking would be extremely effective and the most vulnerable countries would be the United States, Canada, France, and West Germany. This study was approved in 1955 by the Soviet Defense Council. It was the first formal Soviet decision to launch narcotics trafficking against the bourgeoisie and especially against the American capitalists:

“Soviet strategy for revolutionary war is a global strategy… narcotics strategy is a sub-component of this global strategy. …First was the increased training of leaders for the revolutionary movements—the civilian, military, and intelligence cadres. The founding of Patrice Lumumba University in Moscow is an example of one of the early actions taken to modernize the Soviet revolutionary leadership training. The second step was the actual training of terrorists. Training for international terrorism actually began as ‘fighters for liberation’…The third step was international drug and narcotics trafficking. Drugs were incorporated into the revolutionary war strategy as a political and intelligence weapon to use against the bourgeois society and as a mechanism for recruiting agents of influence around the world.”

Read the rest of the quotation:

“The fourth step was to infiltrate organized crime and, further, to establish Soviet Bloc sponsored and controlled organized crime syndicates throughout the world. The fifth step was to plan and prepare for sabotage throughout the whole world. The network for this activity was to be in place by 1972. …The decision on organized crime… was to be a global operation targeted against… the United States, along with France, Great Britain, Germany, and Italy… The main reason for infiltrating organized crime was… information on political corruption, money and business, international relations, drug trafficking, and counter-intelligence—was to be found in organized crime. …A secondary reason was to use organized crime as a covert mechanism for distributing drugs.”

Baltic Winds pimpko book coverAs a matter of fact, I have already mentioned the Soviet operation on drug trafficking in my first book: Baltic Winds: Testimony of A Soviet Attorney, Xlibris, 2002.

At that time I discussed the Soviet and Cuban intelligences and their activities in cahoots with drug cartels drugging America. Red Cocaine described in detail the concealed operations of the Cuban DGI and the Soviet KGB, using a powerful drug syndicate in Colombia and Panama against America. I wrote the book in 1992 and for the first time I also gave the notion of Soviet Fascism in the 1990s. Certainly Red Cocaine helped me to arrive at that conclusion. Now at the time of global terrorism, I have a duty to give the reader a detailed explanation of all the terms I used in my first two books and all the avenues the Soviets organized to drug America. Red Cocaine provides me with needed information and data.

In the Soviet operation of drugging America, besides Cubans, the central role was given to Czechoslovakia as well. The first plan was put into action in 1956; it instructed Czechoslovak strategic intelligence to infiltrate seventeen different organized crime groups including the Mafia in France, Italy, Austria, Latin America, and Germany. I have already mentioned that 20 percent of the Italian police were members of the communist party and the Italian Communist Party used them heavily in the infiltration operation. “These members helped the Soviet Bloc intelligence agents infiltrate the Mafia. War criminals, e.g. Germans were also coerced into assisting the Soviet Bloc agents in this endeavor, especially throughout Latin America.” What is Happening to America? The Hidden Truth of Global Destruction, Xlibris, 2012

You will grasp the current situation by reading both books, especially Red Cocaine, which warns us about upcoming narcotics warfare with striking details and documentation. Its summary is equally impressive:

“Narcotics, terrorism, and organized crime were coordinated and used together in a complementary fashion. Narcotics were used to destroy the society. Terrorism was used to destabilize the country and prepare the revolutionary situation. Organized crime was used to control the elite.  All three were long-range strategic operations, and all three were incorporated into Soviet Bloc planning by 1956.”

Look at our world now fifty years later and you will find incredible “achievements” of the Soviet fatal design. Red Cocaine was a harbinger of our future and we missed it.

While I am writing these words, Russia positions itself to invade Ukraine—the world is stunned and confused, I am not.

Moreover, I can predict again—Russia will never leave the Crimean Peninsula—Crimea is a strategic military post on the Black Sea and has pipeline under it. That is why the Ukrainian flag was taken down and replaced with the Russian flag (a typical Soviet behavior). I see Russian soldiers without insignia occupying Crimea. Life and current events in Ukraine confirm my definition and the use of the term – WWIII. The situation is more that dramatic in the entire globe—the aggressor must be stopped by economic sanctions. Mr. Romney was right—Russia is our geopolitical foe NO.1. Arguing that statement in 2012, Obama has exposed himself as a person out of touch with reality.

The consequences of that we are reaping today—we and our economy are the hostages of WW III.

In the preceding articles, discussing Stalinism, I called some leaders charlatans, mobsters, or thugs. If you want a real confirmation of my words, just study the biography and the behavior of the Ukrainian President Victor Yunukovich, who ran to Russia. I can offer another suggestion, please find out about the leaders and the conditions in which people are living in Abkhazia and Assetia, annexed the Georgia territory by Russia in 2008. Do you remember a young KGB’s diplomat of the Soviet Embassy, Vitally Churkin 25 years ago? He is the current Russian Ambassador in UN. All of what we are watching today is Soviet Socialism in the 21st Century–To move ahead, Russia will try to provoke a civil war in Ukraine, while blaming the West.

To be continued www.simonapipko1.com

Ukraine: Does President Obama have a third bite at the “Apple of Freedom”?

A second bite at the apple is defined as, “A second chance at an argument or negotiation previously lost.” President may have a third bite at the apple of freedom if he decides to support the people of the Ukraine in their efforts to achieve liberty. He has failed twice to make a strong argument against tyrannical regimes during his administration. As people died Obama remained silent.

The first failure was in 2009 during the Green Revolution in Iran.

The Los Angeles Times reported, “At a White House news conference in June 2009, Obama was asked whether he had a message for ‘people who are on the streets protesting, who believe their votes were stolen and who are being attacked violently?’… We will continue to pursue a tough, direct dialogue between our two countries, and we’ll see where it takes us.  But even as we do so, I think it would be wrong for me to be silent about what we’ve seen on the television over the last few days.  And what I would say to those people who put so much hope and energy and optimism into the political process, I would say to them that the world is watching and inspired by their participation, regardless of what the ultimate outcome of the election was.  And they should know that the world is watching.”

Iranian officials and the Russian media have accused the Western media for unfair coverage and have contended that the protests were planned by the CIA.

President materially did nothing and the Green Revolution was put down violently by the Iranian regime. The winners: Russia and Iran. Loser: United States.

The second failure was in 2013 during the mass demonstrations against and overthrow of the Morsi regime in Egypt.

President Obama stated on July 3rd, 2013, “The United States is monitoring the very fluid situation in Egypt, and we believe that ultimately the future of Egypt can only be determined by the Egyptian people. Nevertheless, we are deeply concerned by the decision of the Egyptian Armed Forces to remove President Morsy and suspend the Egyptian constitution. I now call on the Egyptian military to move quickly and responsibly to return full authority back to a democratically elected civilian government as soon as possible through an inclusive and transparent process, and to avoid any arbitrary arrests of President Morsy and his supporters. Given today’s developments, I have also directed the relevant departments and agencies to review the implications under U.S. law for our assistance to the Government of Egypt.”

President Obama materially did nothing and the people of Egypt prevailed. The winners: Egypt and Russia. Loser: United States.

Today President Obama is faced with yet another revolution but this time in the heart of Eastern Europe – Ukraine.

CBS News reports:

Following deadly clashes between protesters and police on the streets of Ukraine’s capital, President Obama said Wednesday [February 19th] that the United States “condemns in the strongest terms the violence that’s taking place.”

“We have been deeply engaged with our European partners as well as the Ukrainian government and the opposition to try to ensure that that violence ends,” Mr. Obama said, shortly after arriving in Toluca, Mexico for an economic summit.

 The U.S., he said, holds the Ukrainian government primarily responsible for dealing with peaceful protestors in an appropriate way. Hours later, a statement on Ukraine’s presidential website said that President Viktor Yanukovych met with opposition leaders and that the two sides called for a truce, the Associated Press reports. However, the statement gave no details of what the truce would entail or how it would be implemented.Mr. Obama said that over the next several days, “we’re going to be watching closely, and we expect the Ukrainian government to show restraint, to not resort to violence in dealing with peaceful protestors.”

Sound familiar? Will President Obama miss, once again, the opportunity to take a bite out of the apple of freedom? Or will he, once again, make statements without taking material actions?

RELATED COLUMNS:

Why American Foreign Policy is Headed for Disaster

Protesters Seize Presidential Palace…

Yanukovych cries ‘coup,’ will not resign…

Parliament Votes To Dismiss…

RELATED VIDEO:

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is courtesy of Mstyslav Chernov and is of the state coat of arms of Ukraine, Tryzub, against the background of Dynamiska street barricades on fire. Euromaidan Protests. Events of Jan 19, 2014. The use of this image implies that Mstyslav Chernov in anyway endorses the author or the use of the work in this column. This photo is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

The Cyber Attacks are coming, the Cyber Attacks are coming!

If you Google the words “cyber attacks” you will get 164 million results. So where is our government on defending you and me against this growing peril? According to experts like John Jorgenson, CEO and founding partner of  the Sylint Group, our government is woefully behind the times in capability and capacity to deal with the threat of cyber attacks let alone the cyber warfare being conducted on a global scale by nation states such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

Today the cry across America is the cyber attacks are coming, the cyber attacks are coming! But no one is taking action. No one that is except those few who, like Jorgenson, truly understand the catastrophic nature of the threat.

The most recent cyber attack was against our federal court system. Politico’s Tony Romm reports, “Unidentified hackers took aim at the federal court system Friday [January 24, 2014], blocking access to its public website while preventing lawyers and litigants from filing legal documents online. The incident affected uscourts.gov the federal court’s public hub, as well as most if not all federal court sites — not to mention the federal court system’s electronic filing system and its access page, PACER, a spokesman for the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts said Friday.” The site remained down when this column was posted.

john jorgenson

John Jorgensen, CEO and a founding partner of the Sylint Group.

Jorgenson notes, “Since President Obama created a White House ‘cyber czar‘ position in 2009 there have been six appointed and then leave the position. The reason is a lack of support and funding for the program.”

In an email Jorgenson states, “The Cyber Czar count is difficult to do because of the people who temporarily held the post and the ‘Cyber Czar’ post being identified with the Obama Administration and DHS both. It is not easy to find the names of those who resigned. The press makes it out that there has been only one Cyber Czar under Obama, Schmidt. You have to really search to find the others.” The players since President Obama first took office are:

  • Rod Beckstrom – Resigned/Replaced, White House
  • Melissa Hathaway – Resigned. Hathaway was said to have been temporary, White House. But was she temporary because she resigned so quickly after making negative comments about the administration?
  • Howard Schmidt – Retired (Stated at RSA, 2010 or 2011, that there is no Cyber Warfare), White House.
  • Unknown – There was talk of a woman who took Schmidt’s place but soon resigned and Schmidt stayed on, White House.
  • Mark Weatherford – DHS / resigned.
  • Bruce McConnell – DHS / Temporary.
  • Michael Daniel – Current, White House.

“At issue is that a post as important as this, has had enormous turnover and turmoil, and we are only five years into the administration ‘leadership’. Nothing of substance to protect commercial industry, the countries infrastructure, or the citizen has come out of the White House. From the attacks being made on the United States on the Cyber Battlefield our advisories are taking Cyber Warfare seriously while we can’t find a credible Field Marshall let alone decide what needs to be done,” notes Jorgenson.

John Kelly from HowStuffWorks.com wrote, “In 2009, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates declared that the U.S. ‘is under cyber-attack virtually all the time, every day’ [source: Farrell]. He wasn’t joking. That year, computer spies gained access to files about the Pentagon’s $300 billion Joint Strike Fighter project, intruders breached the Air Force’s air-traffic-control system, Chinese hackers penetrated computers at Google, and Russian cyber-thieves stole tens of millions of dollars from Citibank.”

On June 23, 2009, the Secretary of Defense directed the Commander of U.S. Strategic Command to establish a sub-unified command, United States Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM). Full Operational Capability (FOC) was achieved Oct. 31, 2010. The command is located at Fort Meade, Maryland.

NextGov.com reports, “In the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act passed by House lawmakers last week, Congress required the Defense Department appoint a high level Principal Cyber Advisor with a broad oversight portfolio that includes offensive and defensive cyber missions, resources, personnel, acquisition and technology. A Senate vote on the bill is expected this week. The new cyber advisor will have ‘overall supervision’ of all Defense cyber operations and will oversee a team that will integrate the cyber expertise of the four services, combatant commands and Defense agencies.”

Jorgenson believes that “major government systems have been compromised, including the US electrical grid.” Jorgenson stated that other systems such as health care, hospitals and our food supply systems are targets of cyber attacks. These attacks are dangerous because according to Jorgenson, “they place malware on corporate and government computer systems with the intent of controlling manufacturing, distribution and information system processes.”

The danger is real, clear and present. However, it appears the federal government and Congress is less concerned with the threat as it is with making political points over the dysfunctional HeathCare.gov website. Which by the way has been compromised!

The Syrian Constellation before the Geneva 2 Peace Talks

Pinhas Inbari  published this timely Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA) brief on the issues and dramatis personae at the opening round of the Geneva II talks in Montreux, Switzerland that began today.

We consider insightful Inbari’s analysis of the roiling seemingly intractable, inconclusive  civil war in Syria now in its 35 month. Israel is concerned about what may arise from these fractious discussions given the presence of both Assad regime and Syrian opposition, including  potentially intrusive  Al Qaeda-affiliates operating in the demilitarized zone on the Golan plateau. Further, as Inbari points out in this brief, should , mirabile dictu, should  an agreement  be reached and a new government installed in Damascus  are the be renewal of demands for return of the Golan, annexed by Israel in December 1981.

There have also been reports of both Israeli Arab Muslim extremists and Palestinians from Gaza  joining those al Qaeda opposition militias in Syria.  The Syrian Kurds have abiding concerns regarding attainment of possible hard fought  regional autonomy that has apparently vanquished Al Qaeda militia threatening their Rojava heartland in Syria’s North East.

This post should assist you in identifying the contending parties, including the Islamic regime in Tehran and its proxy Hezbollah, whose presence at the meeting was considered unhelpful. vigorous objections raised by the Syrian opposition, the US, UK and others forced  UN Secretary Ban Ki-Moon  to abruptly ‘disinvite’ the Iranian delegation from attending this session.  Nevertheless, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov, who lauded the UN Secretary General’s invitation extended to Iran, may be both the assad regime;s and its  Shiite hegemon’s diplomatic proxy auditing the proceedings for the Islamic Regime.

The Syrian Constellation before the Geneva 2 Peace Talks

by
Pinhas Inbari
Vol. 14, No. 2    22 January 2014

* This report is based on telephone conversations with members of the Syrian opposition.

  • The Geneva 2 peace conference was convened after an agreement between the United States and Russia that the main danger posed by the situation in Syria is that of al-Qaeda, and that the course of events should be steered in order to obviate this danger.
  • The Syrian opposition sees a danger that the two powers will prefer to leave Assad in place since, if the choice is between him and al-Qaeda, then Assad is the better option.
  • The powers’ need to convene the Geneva 2 conference stemmed primarily from the failure of the Free Syrian Army under General Idris to defeat Assad’s army and bring about regime change.
  • Ironically, the success of the al-Qaeda groups against the Syrian army and the Free Syrian Army helped Russia convince the United States that, at least for the time being, Assad should be left standing. The result is that Assad’s loyalists will be in attendance at the conference.
  • If the Syrian opposition has trouble accepting the presence of Assad loyalists at the peace conference, it cannot accept an Iranian presence at all. They say their real opponent on the Syrian battlefield is the Iranian army, and they view Iran as an invading country that is also deploying Hizbullah against them.
  • Israel must pay attention to two possible outcomes: A Middle Eastern inter-bloc agreement may at some stage include the Palestinian issue. Another possible scenario may involve renewed pressure on Israel to give up the Golan Heights in order to “strengthen” the new Syrian government.

A U.S.-Russian Agreement

Geneva 2, the international peace conference on the future of Syria, began on January 22, 2014, in Montreux, Switzerland. Sources in the Syrian opposition say the conference has come about because of agreement between the United States and Russia that the main danger posed by the situation in Syria is that of al-Qaeda, and that the course of events should be steered in order to obviate this danger.

This inter-bloc agreement has put most of the Syrian opposition under great pressure. They see a danger that the two powers will meanwhile prefer to leave Assad in place since, if the choice is between him and al-Qaeda, then Assad is the better option.

The problem is that the opposition is very fragmented and the two powers can force it to accept their dictates. On the issue of Geneva 2, there indeed is such a dictate. Whereas, at first, the Syrian opposition refused to participate in the conference with Assad loyalists, after heavy pressure that included American threats to cease assistance to them, much of the Syrian opposition acceded to the two powers’ demand that they attend.

Who’s Who in the Syrian Opposition

What elements make up the Syrian opposition, what do they seek, and who stands behind them?

First, the Geneva conference will not represent the fighters on the battlefield; neither the different al-Qaeda groups nor the Free Syrian Army will be in attendance. Al-Qaeda will not be there because the talks are aimed at counteracting it, and in any case al-Qaeda does not ordinarily take part in gatherings of this kind. As for the Free Syrian Army and its commander Salim Idris, they still are not prepared to sit in the same room with Assad’s loyalists, though there are reports of enormous pressure on Idris to attend.

Basically, however, the talks will be attended by parties that are not active on the Syrian battlefield. Who are they?

One large body, known as the National Coalition of Syrian and Regional Forces (also called the Syrian National Coalition), will be representing the opposition that is based outside of Syria. It is headed by Ahmed al-Jarba, a scion of the leading families of the large Shammar Bedouin tribe, which migrates among Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia, and is considered pro-Saudi. Saudi Arabia indeed supports this organization.

Another group within the “coalition” is the representative body of the Syrian opposition before the “coalition” was formed. Called the Syrian National Council (SNC), it includes the Muslim Brotherhood and pan-Arab nationalists and is supported by Turkey and Qatar. Although it is formally within the “coalition” framework, the competition between Qatar and Saudi Arabia influences its relations with the coalition. All this was evident when decisions had to be made on whether to attend Geneva 2. After al-Jarba announced that he would go, his rivals in the SNC declared that they would not. The reasons for al-Jarba’s decision are not clear. Whereas one would have expected that, given the Saudis’ anger at Washington, the pro-Saudi faction would try to impede the conference, the opposite is what happened. Sources in the Syrian opposition said the Saudis did not want to bring tensions with the United States out in the open, and perhaps also did not want to be associated with al-Qaeda; instead the talks could always be undermined from within.

Russia, too, has its favored groups, and there is no surprise in the fact that they agreed to attend. These groups are old leftist factions that were part of the Syrian Ba’ath party. Syrian opposition sources point to the “Internal Opposition Group” headed by Kadri Jamil and Ali Haidar, two veteran Ba’athists who abandoned Assad. Alongside them is another group of veteran Arab nationalists headed by Haitham Mana’a and Hassan Abd al-Azim, called the “Coordinated Administration,” an array of coordinating committees for the rebels in the field. This group maintains its independence and does not receive aid from any party; it opposes Assad and will not attend Geneva 2.

The powers’ need to convene the Geneva 2 conference stemmed primarily from the failure of the Free Syrian Army under General Idris to defeat Assad’s army and bring about regime change. Instead, the different al-Qaeda organizations have now prevailed in the local arena, and not long ago they handed Idris a defeat near Aleppo, taking over his main arms depot. The Free Syrian Army is also supported by Turkey and Qatar.

Al-Qaeda Forces in Syria

Who are the al-Qaeda forces operating in Syria? There are about forty groups with numerous names, but two are playing the main role on the ground. One is the Al-Nusra group led by Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani; the other is “Daash” – the Islamic State of Iraq and Ash-Sham (the Levant), also called ISIS. Al-Nusra is made up of Syrian and Jordanian mujahideen, while the Syria and Iraq group has an Iraqi leadership.

Ironically, the success of the Salafi groups has worked in Assad’s favor. He claimed from the start that he was not dealing with a rebellion but with “terror,” and the al-Qaeda groups’ successes against the Syrian army and the Free Syrian Army helped Russia convince the United States that, at least for the time being, Assad should be left standing. The result is that Assad’s loyalists will be in attendance at the conference.

The opposition groups claim, however, that at least the ISIS organization is actually in league with Assad. They say the al-Qaeda fighters in this group were originally Syrian intelligence agents who were infiltrated into Iraq to operate against U.S. forces there, and after the revolt in Syria erupted, Assad’s intelligence service implanted them among the rebels as a way of proving that the revolt is nothing more than terror. These al-Qaeda groups have also acted against the Free Syrian Army and diverted it from the anti-Assad struggle.

The Kurds of Syria

The Kurds of Syria are a special case. They, too, are fragmented into many groups; among the leading ones is the Democratic Union Party (PYD). A radical-left organization that is a twin sister of the Turkish PKK, it is close to Assad’s Ba’ath regime and loyal to it. The Syrian army was able to withdraw from Kurdish areas and concentrate its forces against the rebels because the PYD managed Kurdish affairs on Syria’s behalf. There are now reports that under the PYD’s “administrative autonomy,” pictures of Assad have again appeared in the streets.

The PYD is opposed by the Yakiti party, which is close to Kurdnas – a large coalition of Kurdish parties that triggered the Kurdish revolt against Assad in the previous century. In contrast to the PYD’s radical leftism, Yakiti and Kurdnas are pro-Western parties that advocate a federal regime in Syria. The space between the PYD, at one end, and Yakiti and Kurdnas, at the other, is filled by numerous other parties. These, however, were concocted by Syrian intelligence as a means of fragmenting the Kurds. One “real” group that is not an invention of Syrian intelligence is the Azadi party.

All the Kurdish parties are demanding autonomy within the framework of the Syrian state. The difference between them and the Sunni parties (the Muslim Brotherhood, former Ba’athists, Arab nationalists) is that, whereas the Kurdish groups call for a decentralized regime of autonomous districts for the ethnic communities and minorities, most of the Sunnis favor retaining the centralized regime in Damascus.

Whereas the Kurds demanded to come to Geneva 2 as a separate delegation, the United States insisted that they attend as part of the “coalition.” The Kurds refused and will not be at Geneva. They see the U.S. refusal to recognize their separate delegation as stemming from its support for a centralized Syrian regime even after Assad’s departure.

If the Syrian opposition has trouble accepting the presence of Assad loyalists at the peace conference, it cannot accept an Iranian presence at all. They say their real opponent on the Syrian battlefield is the Iranian army, and they view Iran as an invading country that is also deploying Hizbullah against them. Saudi Arabia, too, can barely tolerate the Assad loyalists and rejects any Iranian role at the conference altogether.

The Question of Assad’s Future

Regarding Assad’s future, while the first Geneva peace conference in June 2012 came up with a plan for a temporary government and elections for a new president, Assad insisted on his right to run in these elections. Geneva 2, as well, will likely propose a temporary government and elections while offering Assad an honorable departure from political life in return for his physical survival. Whether such elections can be held, however, is in doubt since forces on the ground will reject any such plan.

Meanwhile, there are initial signs of a deal taking shape outside the framework of the conference, in which Iran, Russia, and the United States would agree on a new president while forcing Assad to acquiesce. But such an initiative – if it takes shape at all – will have to wait until Assad hands over all his chemical weapons.

Israel must pay attention to two matters. First, a Middle Eastern inter-bloc agreement may at some stage include the Palestinian issue; Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas will fly to Moscow to clarify this option with the Russians. Israel must prepare for a scenario where a new central government is established in Damascus and the powers begin to pressure Israel to give up the Golan Heights in order to “strengthen” the new Syrian government.

About Pinhas Inbari

Pinhas Inbari is a veteran Arab affairs correspondent who formerly reported for Israel Radio and Al Hamishmar newspaper, and currently serves as an analyst for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

VIDEO: The global threat of a Red (Marxist) on Green (Islamist) alliance

Tom Trento, National Security Expert, Director of The United West.

Tom Trento, National Security Expert, Director of The United West.

Tom Trento, Florida talk show host, author and internationally known speaker on national security issues, spoke at the Villages TEA Party on September 17th. The topic was the global threat facing the United States, our allies and Israel. Trento covered topics including Syria, Iran, the 9/11 remembrance and the threat to Western civilization posed by a new/old alliance. This Red (Marxist) and Green (Islamist) alliance has strengthened recently with the reemergence of the role of Russia in the Middle East.

Trento takes questions from the TEA Party members and put into perspective what is happening in this and previous administrations. Please watch Trento’s presentation (video courtesy of The United West):

ABOUT THE UNITED WEST:

The United West is dedicated to defending and advancing Western Civilization against the kinetic and cultural onslaught of Shariah Islam, so that America remains a land of freedom, justice and opportunity grounded in the principles of our Constitutional Republic.The United West has taken up this challenge because the ever increasing forces of darkness, whether political, social, or philosophical seek to destroy, subvert or subjugate all that Americans hold to be right and true.The United West will succeed in this mission by educating, training and activating Americans to stand on proven principles, guide public opinion and amend public policy so that leadership is selected on November 6, 2012 which affirm the canons of jurisprudence.

Specifically, TUW educates and activates freedom minded people, wherever they may live, to effectively develop strategies and tactics which propagate the exceptionalism of Western Civilization over against the totalitarian choke-hold of shariah Islam. Immediately, our objectives include the mobilization of Americans and Europeans to stand firmly for the defense and protection of the State of Israel.

The United West combines top-shelf academics with a military-grade activism to distinguish itself from every counter-jihad organization. There is no other nongovernmental organization like it, in the world. Visit TheUnitedWest.org to learn more.

Gay journalists plan to disrupt 2014 Olympics

Mass Resistance reports:

Homosexual activists in the U.S. are working with media groups, “out LGBT athletes,” and both the US and Canadian Olympic hockey teams in a secret plan to smuggle rainbow flags, homosexual propaganda, etc. into Russia. Their intent is to disrupt the 2014 Winter Olympics with homosexual symbolism, according to a presenter at the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Convention in Boston on August 24. The planned disruption is a retaliation by the homosexual movement to Russia’s recent ban on the public promotion of homosexuality.

They are also talking about “utilizing diplomatic channels” to help smuggle the homosexual flags and other materials into Russia.

Patrick Burke, co-founder of the You Can Play Project, a campaign to “end homophobia in sports,” also referred to plans for athletes to wave rainbow flags on awards podiums and at the closing ceremonies. Burke told the group that “we can’t talk about that publicly” but “there’s a lot going on behind the scenes.”.

MassResistance was present and recorded the presentation.

The Park Plaza Hotel in downtown Boston, during the conference.

Russia’s ban on public promotion of homosexuality

The 2014 Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia on February 7-23, 2014. This past June, as MassResistance reported, Russia’s parliament overwhelmingly passed a bill which bans the promotion of “non-traditional sexual relations” to minors, and which also includes bans on “gay pride” rallies or other public promotion of “homosexual propaganda.”

The Russian government has made it clear that the ban also covers participants and attendees of the 2014 Olympics. According to Burke, Russian authorities have decided to preemptively confiscate rainbow flags and pins at airports.

Remarks made at “Out on the Playing Field” session at conference

The National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) is a powerful national organization of homosexual journalists from major television news, newspapers, radio, and more. Their annual conference was held August 22-25, 2013 at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel.

Burke spoke at a conference session titled, “Game Changer: Out on the Playing Field and In the Press Box,” Its description: “Hear from sportswriters and athletes who can tell you what homophobia they still see in sports and where there are areas of real improvement.” Burke apparently thought he was talking to an all-“gay” audience, and was surprisingly candid about what he’s been doing to help organize the disruption at the upcoming Olympics.

Patrick Burke prepares to address his session at the NLGJA conference. Photo courtesy of Mass Resistance.

“Rainbow flag on the podium” and more

Here is what Patrick Burke said in his presentation about the plan to infiltrate the Olympic Games and embarrass the Russian government:

We’re going to have three weeks of sustained media presence there. We are going to have out LGBT athletes there. We are going to have very vocal and visible allies there.

We’ve spoken with the Canadian and U.S. hockey teams. We’re going to be doing work with both of those teams.

The frustrating part right now is we can’t talk about that publicly because if you talk about it publicly, the Russians don’t let you in the country. So when everyone keeps asking us “What are you going to do when you get there? What are you going to do when you get there?” and we keep having to say “We can’t tell you.”

The Russians have said they’ll confiscate rainbow flags if you try and bring them in your regular luggage. They’ve said they’ll confiscate pins. We are talking about utilizing diplomatic channels to get things into the country.

There’s a lot going on behind the scenes that will frustrate people because it won’t be made public until you see an athlete on a medal stand or at closing ceremonies . . .

There’s two types of backlash that we’re concerned about.

One is government. Where a journalist or athlete whoever it might be, is arrested or is, you know, fined, is deported. Not that anyone wants to stay in Russia if the Olympics are over. That’s certainly the type of backlash that we’re concerned about.

The second is non-governmental groups. We looked into securing a pride house in Sochi. One of my very good friends basically runs the Continental Hockey League and he knows every Russian billionaire out there. We said what would it take to get a pride house? He said he’d ‘need security.’ Well yeah, get some security guards. He said ‘no, someone would shoot it up.’ He said ‘you would need ex-KGB to secure it. You guys can’t afford that.’ Well probably not. So there’s concern on my end about non-governmental groups taking matters into their own hands.

I think the athletes are going to be safe. I think if you see an athlete or a journalist do something, unless it’s excessively provocative — and I use that term from the Russian point of view; I wouldn’t consider anything excessive — you’re going to see athletes deported. I don’t think you’re going to see fines. I don’t think you’re going to see arrests. I think you’re going to see, someone waves a rainbow flag on the podium; you go right from the podium to an airplane. You get sent home.

AUDIO: LISTEN to the above comments HERE.

(NOTE: Open recording and video taping of the conference and its sessions were allowed. Some sessions were recorded and/or videoed by several people.)

A diplomatic embarrassment to Americans?

The Russian government’s efforts to protect children and society has attracted support from pro-family organizations around the world, and also from countries such as Nigeria and Uganda who are also dealing with these issues.

If this effort is successful, it will be an embarrassment not only to the Russian government — which is working hard to have a clean, wholesome atmosphere for its Olympic games — but certainly to many Americans, given that American corporations, American athletes, and possibly even our government would be  also involved in the Olympics.

The pro-homosexual Obama Administration has already complained loudly about Russia’s new law. And President Obama himself, while visiting Russia this past week, in a purposeful affront to the Russian government met with Russian homosexual activists in St. Petersburg, along with his national security advisor and the US Ambassador to Russia. So it would not be surprising Obama had the US diplomatic corps involved with this, too.

The international fallout from this, given the wide range of those involved, could be considerable.