Seymour M. Hersh on US intelligence sharing in the Syrian war
Barack Obama’s repeated insistence that Bashar al-Assad must leave office – and that there are ‘moderate’ rebel groups in Syria capable of defeating him – has in recent years provoked quiet dissent, and even overt opposition, among some of the most senior officers on the Pentagon’s Joint Staff. Their criticism has focused on what they see as the administration’s fixation on Assad’s primary ally, Vladimir Putin. In their view, Obama is captive to Cold War thinking about Russia and China, and hasn’t adjusted his stance on Syria to the fact both countries share Washington’s anxiety about the spread of terrorism in and beyond Syria; like Washington, they believe that Islamic State must be stopped. Continue reading
The Obama administration has approved the sale of additional fighter jets and attack helicopters to Egypt.
The move came amid improved relations between Washington and Cairo and after U.S. defense firms voiced concern that a major market was slipping away in the wake of recent sales by France and Russia to Egypt. Continue reading
Vladimir Putin is following in the footsteps of his old KGB boss Yuri Andropov, who took the Soviet Union into Afghanistan in 1979 to shore up a failing client in Kabul. To succeed where Andropov failed, Putin will need to devote considerable resources and manpower to save Bashar al-Assad. But there are also significant differences in the challenges the two faced that favor Putin. Saudi Arabia will be his constant enemy, just as it was Andropov’s.
In the fall of 1979, Andropov was the principal advocate in the Kremlin of a Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan to keep the communist Afghan government in power. The Marxist Afghan party was rapidly losing control of the country to the mujahedeen, and KGB chief Andropov warned defeat in Afghanistan would destabilize all of Soviet Central Asia. Andropov convinced an ailing Leonid Brezhnev that it would be an easy and cheap victory. In 1956, Andropov had been the Soviet ambassador in Hungary who called for Soviet intervention there, which had kept Budapest in the Warsaw Pact. Continue reading
America is essentially in the beginning stages of losing control of the Middle East thanks in part to Obama’s policy of retreat.
As US President Barack Obama welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping to the White House on Friday, Sept. 25, and spoke of the friendship between the two countries, the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning-CV-16 docked at the Syrian port of Tartus, accompanied by a guided missile cruiser. This is revealed exclusively by debkafile.
Beijing is not finding it hard to dance at two weddings, wooing the US for better relations, while at the same time backing Russia in its military intervention in Syria. Coupled with the warm smiles and handshakes exchanged at the lavish reception on the White House lawn, Beijing was clearly bent on showing muscle – not just in the South China Sea, but by allying itself with the Russian-Iranian political and military buildup in support of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his regime. Continue reading
American officials express concern about latest intelligence suggesting Moscow is preparing to send hundreds of personnel to prop up Assad regime
Russia is building a military base in Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s heartland, according to American intelligence officials, in the clearest indication yet of deepening Russian support for the embattled regime of Bashar al-Assad.
The anonymous officials say Russia has set up an air traffic control tower and transported prefabricated housing units for up to 1,000 personnel to an airfield serving the Syrian port city of Latakia.
Once more, Syria has called on its Russian ally to expand in the Middle East, by expanding its small pier in the city of Tartus and turning it into a base. This has coincided with Saudi Arabia leading a coalition against Ansar Allah in Yemen, with a cover by the United States. A few hours separated the two events, particularly since Damascus was surprised by the speed of the military developments in Yemen.
In a meeting with a group of Russian journalists March 27, and in response to a question on Damascus’ desire to see a wider Russian activity in the Middle East, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he certainly welcomes “any expansion of Russian presence in the Eastern Mediterranean, precisely on the Syrian shores and ports.” Continue reading
President Obama is not the only actor with a red line on Syria. China, Russia and Iran also have their own red line on Damascus.
CNN on 12 November reported Obama administration is suddenly focused on removing Assad as the core of its anti-ISIS strategy, once again submitting to Turkey and Arab Gulf states that enabled ISIS to begin with, and are actually contributing very little to the anti-ISIS efforts to be dictating such orders to Washington.
Moreover, these demands are harmful to US security interests—redefining US anti-ISIS mission to one of anti-Assad mission—and thereby potentially drawing in Eurasian powers of China, Russia and Iran into open military conflict against the US. Continue reading
According to diplomatic sources, Turkey has threatened Russia with a blockade of the Bosphorus Strait
The threat to close the Bosphorus to Russia comes from a report by Hvylya, citing a Turkish diplomatic source. According to the source, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan yesterday spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the phone and warned of the consequences for conflict with Ukraine. The Hvylya source was also reported on by UNIAN. Continue reading
THE RUSSIAN MILITARY will now be given full use of a Cypriot airbase and the main port at Limassol.
According to the Ministry of Defence in Nicosia the use of the Andreas Papandreou airbase will be only used for ‘emergency scenarios’ and humanitarian missions, but the move highlights growing co-operation between Russia and Cyprus.
As it stands, a Russian presence in the region is only made possible by the survival of the Assad government, with Moscow still hanging on to their personnel from the naval base in Tartus. Continue reading
OKTYABRSK PORT, Ukraine — On Jan. 5, the Ocean Fortune, a 380-foot-long workhorse of the global arms trade, left this Black Sea port with unknown cargo concealed in its cavernous hold. The ship steamed south, slipped through the Bosporus Strait and turned toward the eastern Mediterranean. Then it disappeared.
The ship’s transponder, which normally sends automated signals to other vessels and harbor masters along busy sea lanes, went mysteriously silent Jan. 9, just as it was rounding Turkey headed toward open waters, maritime records show. Not a trace of the ship was seen for two months, until it surfaced in the southeastern Mediterranean in mid-March.
The ship’s apparent vanishing act repeated a pattern seen by other freighters embarking from the same Black Sea port — a known point of origin for weapons shipments — over the past year. Recently, such behavior has begun drawing the attention of investigators tracking the flow of arms and supplies to the combatants in Syria’s 21 / 2-year-old uprising. Continue reading
South Korea is purchasing bunker-busting long-range missiles from a European company, allowing it to hold at risk nuclear and missile sites in North Korea, Yonhap News Agency reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the ROK’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) approved the purchase of Taurus bunker-busting, air-to-ground missiles for the military’s F-15K fighter jets. The missiles are equipped with GPS-guidance and have a range of 500 km while carrying a 480-kg warhead that can penetrate 6 meters of concrete. Its Circular Error Probable (CEP) is 2-3 meters. Continue reading
This was not the first time a US drone was threatened by Iranian aircraft over the Persian Gulf, but in reporting the incident, the Pentagon revealed that the drones flying in the neighborhood of Iranian shores are now escorted by US jet fighters.
A couple of hours earlier that evening, DEBKAfile received an exclusive report from its military sources that the Syrian high command had just issued an ultimatum, on the orders of Bashar Assad, demanding that the Lebanese government put an immediate stop to the passage of armed Sunni fighters from Lebanon into Syria, else the Syrian Air Force would strike the Lebanese intruders’ convoys and also their home bases. Damascus claimed they were coming to fight the government alongside the al Qaeda-linked Jabrat al-Nusra. Continue reading
RUSSIA said it would land two planes in Lebanon on Tuesday to evacuate more than 100 of its citizens from Syria in a significant blow to the credibility of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
Giving only the barest details, the Russian emergency situations ministry said it was responding to a request from the country’s leaders.
The evacuees are likely to include staff from the embassy in Damascus, where fighting between government forces and the rebels was reported near to the old city on Monday. Others are likely to be staff from Russian companies. Continue reading
After the “War in weeks” comment from Grand Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Hosseini Khamenei, could this be the beginning of the final stages? This leaves the only backer behind the Assad regime being Iran, possibly China. Once this proves too difficult for Iran to continue supporting, or the loss of some close and high ranking officers of the Assad regime, look for all hell to break loose. Assad will either have a choice to go all-out to keep his last grips on power or plan for early retirement. The former is more likely as evidenced in the continuing bloodshed of his own people and the increasingly brutal methods of doing so.
Russian naval vessels have unexpectedly departed the Syrian Mediterranean port of Tartus and Russian arms shipments to Syria have been suddenly discontinued. debkafile’s military sources reveal that those and other steps indicate that the Russians are rapidly drawing away from the Syrian arena to avoid getting caught up in the escalating hostilities expected to arise from military intervention by the US, Europe and a number of Arab states. Russian intelligence appears to have decided that this outside intervention is imminent and Moscow looks anxious to keep its distance for now.
According to our military and Russian sources, these drastic steps must have been personally ordered by President Vladimir Putin. He is believed to have acted over the objections of some of his army and naval chiefs. This would explain the mixed statements issuing from Moscow in recent days about the disposition of Russian personnel at the naval base in Tartus and Russian military personnel in Syria.
Wednesday, Aug. 22, Commander of the Russian Navy Vice Adm. Viktor Chirkov said that if the fighting in Syria reached Tartus, Moscow may decide to evacuate the base. He stressed that this decision would have to be taken on the authority of President Putin. He was the first Russian official to suggest the possibility of an evacuation.
A Russian source disclosed that all the remaining Russian personnel in Tartus have gathered on the floating shipyard, except for two officers on shore. This vessel and the remaining personnel are evidently packed up and ready to sail at any moment out of the Syrian port.
Full article: Russia is disengaging from Syria: Arms shipments stopped, warships exit Tartus (DEBKAfile)
A contingent of Russian special forces is on its way to Syria to guard the Russian navy’s deep-water port at the Syria’s Mediterranean coastal town of Tartus, Pentagon officials informed US NBC TV Friday, June 15. They are coming by ship. According to debkafile’s sources, the contingent is made up of naval marines and is due to land in Syria in the coming hours.
In a separate and earlier announcement, US Defense Department sources in Washington reported that the US military had completed its own planning for a variety of US operations against Syria, or for assisting neighboring countries in the event action was ordered – a reference, according to our sources, to Turkey, Jordan and Israel.
The Syrian civil war is now moving into a new phase of major power military intervention, say debkafile’s military sources. Moscow, by sending troops to Syria without UN Security Council approval, has set up a precedent for the United States, the European Union and Arab governments to follow. They all held back from sending troops to Syria because all motions to apply force for halting the bloodshed in Syria was blocked in the UN body.
According to US military sources, in recent weeks, the Pentagon has finalized its assessment of what types of units would be needed and how many troops. The military planning includes a scenario for a no-fly zone as well as protecting chemical and biological sites. The U.S. Navy is maintaining a presence of three surface combatants and a submarine in the eastern Mediterranean to conduct electronic surveillance and reconnaissance on the Syrian regime, a senior Pentagon official said.
Full article: Big powers move in on Syria: Russian troops for Tartus. US forces ready to go (DEBKAfile)