Headlines of interest, early January 2016…
Update on the movement of the BMZ Group oil tankers we have been tracking: with no data from its Automatic Identification System (AIS) for over a week (12/30/15 – 1/7/16), the Armada Fair has been meandering around the Adriatic Sea, after having docked in Ravenna (ATD: 2016-01-07 17:01). There was AIS data for about a half a day, before going dark near the coast of Venice (its last “ping” at 2016-01-08 04:06 UTC). It should be noted that one of the purposes of the AIS is to the avoidance of collisions, and hence the Armada Fair’s irregular AIS data could pose a hazard to other ships. The same goes for the Mecid Aslanov, somewhere in the Aegean or Mediterranean? Its last info received was on 2015-12-30 08:25 – VesselFinder.com however, apparently utilizing satellite AIS data on top of the terrestrial data, has Mecid Aslanov as having already docked at Port Sudan.
Observations (continued from our previous installment) on the recent Sy Hersh article (in the London Review of Books) Military to Military…
A senior adviser to the Kremlin on Middle East affairs told me that in late 2012, after suffering a series of battlefield setbacks and military defections, Assad had approached Israel via a contact in Moscow and offered to reopen the talks on the Golan Heights. The Israelis had rejected the offer. ‘They said, “Assad is finished,”’ the Russian official told me. ‘“He’s close to the end.”’ He said the Turks had told Moscow the same thing. By mid-2013, however, the Syrians believed the worst was behind them, and wanted assurances that the Americans and others were serious about their offers of help.
In the early stages of the talks, the adviser said, the Joint Chiefs tried to establish what Assad needed as a sign of their good intentions. The answer was sent through one of Assad’s friends: ‘Bring him the head of Prince Bandar.’ The Joint Chiefs did not oblige. Bandar bin Sultan had served Saudi Arabia for decades in intelligence and national security affairs, and spent more than twenty years as ambassador in Washington. In recent years, he has been known as an advocate for Assad’s removal from office by any means. Reportedly in poor health, he resigned last year as director of the Saudi National Security Council, but Saudi Arabia continues to be a major provider of funds to the Syrian opposition, estimated by US intelligence last year at $700 million.
Note that there were rumors of Bandar’s death in the summer of 2012, reportedly at the hand of Assad in retaliation for an assassination attempt against himself, as mentioned (citing a now dead link at Voltairenet) in our monthly headlines summary at our previous base at blogspot, July 2012. These rumors were short lived however, as we noted in our August 2012 summary, citing Intelligence Online, of the immanent meeting to be held early September of that year of the then head of Turkish intelligence, Hakan Fidan, along with Bandar and the then DCI David Petraeus. Presumably under discussion was the “rat line” (Hersh’s term) of weapons from Benghazi, Libya to the Syrian rebels. And then, on September 11, all hell broke lose. Hersh:
By then the CIA-sponsored secret flow of arms from Libya to the Syrian opposition, via Turkey, had been underway for more than a year (it started sometime after Gaddafi’s death on 20 October 2011).＊ The operation was largely run out of a covert CIA annex in Benghazi, with State Department acquiescence. On 11 September 2012 the US ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, was killed during an anti-American demonstration that led to the burning down of the US consulate in Benghazi; reporters for the Washington Post found copies of the ambassador’s schedule in the building’s ruins. It showed that on 10 September Stevens had met with the chief of the CIA’s annex operation. The next day, shortly before he died, he met a representative from Al-Marfa Shipping and Maritime Services, a Tripoli-based company which, the JCS adviser said, was known by the Joint Staff to be handling the weapons shipments.
In the immediate aftermath of the re-election of Obama and the fall of Petraeus, this was Hillary Clinton’s intel in a Nov. 13 2012 email from Sid Blumenthal:
Here’s the ultimate Bengahzi conspiracy theory that wingers believe: John Brennan, without a presidential finding, at the behest of the Saudis, created a covert CIA operation at the Benghazi consulate to run arms secretly to the Syrian rebels. And the administration covered it up to protect Obama in the election. In other words, a projection of Iran-contra and Watergate rolled into one.
Indeed, this was roughly the account presented in a Feb. 2013 ebook by Jack Murphy and Brandon Webb: Benghazi: The Definitive Report. It should be noted that Brennan earned his stripes as the CIA station chief in Riyadh in the 1990s, and has long been considered a bit cozy with the Saudi regime, even to be honored as a special guest of the Saudi king to the holy city of Mecca, as reported by Wayne Madsen: Growing evidence that CIA’s John Brennan is a Wahhabist convert. It is with some skepticism then that we read the following passage of Hersh:
In January 2014, despairing at the lack of progress [in training ‘moderate’ Syrian rebels], John Brennan, the director of the CIA, summoned American and Sunni Arab intelligence chiefs from throughout the Middle East to a secret meeting in Washington, with the aim of persuading Saudi Arabia to stop supporting extremist fighters in Syria. ‘The Saudis told us they were happy to listen,’ the JCS adviser said, ‘so everyone sat around in Washington to hear Brennan tell them that they had to get on board with the so-called moderates. His message was that if everyone in the region stopped supporting al-Nusra and Isis their ammunition and weapons would dry up, and the moderates would win out.’ Brennan’s message was ignored by the Saudis, the adviser said, who ‘went back home and increased their efforts with the extremists and asked us for more technical support. And we say OK, and so it turns out that we end up reinforcing the extremists.’
True to form, the Saudis bring in the new year stirring up all the trouble they can…
Moon of Alabama – The Saudi Execution Of Al-Nimr Was A Smart Move
ThereAreNoSunglasses (re-posting Wall Street Journal) – Should Blood-Soaked, Avaricious Saudi Royals Cut Their Own Throats Or Drown In Their Cheap Oil?
These were among the Saudi supported, Langley approved ‘moderates’ now eliminated by Assad…
An excellent summary of the situation in ME/NA by Gareth Porter…
New York Times – Jihadists Deepen Collaboration in North Africa
Yossi Cohen takes over as Mossad director…
Jerusalem Post – Intelligence Report: Sensitive tasks ahead for Mossad
Cohen wants to make the Mossad more combative and daring than it was under [Tamir] Pardo and return to the “good old days” when [Meir] Dagan led the organization. He strongly believes, like Netanyahu, that Iran remains Israel’s No. 1 enemy – that it continues to support terrorism and has never abandoned its goal of obtaining nuclear weapons. One of his major tasks will be to monitor and to verify that Iran is not once again cheating the international community and violating the July 2015 nuclear deal it signed with the world powers.
Cohen will also continue to carry out on behalf of Netanyahu sensitive missions and deliver messages to the leaders of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Egypt and even Turkey. Netanyahu hopes to establish an anti-Iranian coalition with those countries, but their leaders are reluctant to go out into the open and be seen in the company of Israel unless there is progress on the Palestinian issue…
Elsewhere around the world…
In Moscow’s Shadows – The Unexpected Death of Russia’s military intelligence (GRU) chief, Igor Sergun
Pieczenik – Death Becomes Putin!
Intelligence Online – DNI probes Russian finance for FN, UKIP
BILD Köln – Bizarrer Nackt-Protest gegen Sex-Mob am Dom
People’s Daily – 118-meter-high Never-used Building in NW. China Demolished
ENENews – State of Emergency now underway for L.A. gas blowout — Oil begins raining down on homes — Official: “It’s on the brink of pandemonium” — Many worry plume will ignite, cause explosion — Concern over geysers, sinkholes being created — Company: Experts have “never seen anything like this”
Radioactive material reportedly now being released from massive gas blowout in LA — Byproduct of Uranium — Expert: “A lot” has been detected in area… Very dangerous… May be coming up from ground into people’s homes — Official: Levels can cause “significant long-term health effects”
Rolling Stone (Sean Penn) – El Chapo Speaks
Am.com – Matan a Gisela Mota por $500 mil
Domestic U.S. news: Obama continues nudging for civil war…
From one not long for this world…
Sipsey Street Irregulars – Obama nationalizes the armed civil disobedience movement. “Defy. Resist. Evade. Smuggle.”
The War on Guns – Oregon Standoff Report
Bundy Ranch – Full Story About What’s Going on In Oregon
Stop Imperialism – Is the Oregon Occupation Being Stage-Managed?
Dallas Morning News – Texas Gov. Greg Abbott calls for Convention of States to take back states’ rights
Observer – Hillary’s EmailGate Goes Nuclear
Washington Examiner – Blumenthal told Clinton GOP politics brought down Petraeus
Palm Beach Daily News – Sex-abuse victims want to depose feds involved in Jeffrey Epstein deal
Mint Press – The U.S. Military’s Child Sex Abuse Problem
Xymphora – War on toddlers
Memory Hole – The De-Authorization of James F. Tracy
USA Today – Eye in the sky computes your emotions
Phys.org (AFP) – New wave in tech: hacking the brain
Science Daily – Gravitation under human control
– citing André Füzfa in arXiv.org – How Current Loops and Solenoids Curve Space-time