USS Truman airborne strike group in place opposite Syria

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DEBKAfile

 

In position off the Syrian coast is the nuclear-powered USS Harry S. Truman aircraft carrier – from which the US, UK and France launched their April 14 attack on the Syrian army for launching a chemical attack. The US Navy strike group entered the eastern Mediterranean over last weekend. US task force commander Rear Adm. Eugene Black announced that its arrival “sends a powerful signal to our partners that we are committed to maintaining peace and security in the region and everywhere that there is a threat of terrorism.” Continue reading

Facebook shared user data with Chinese firm despite warnings by US intelligence

Huawei

 

The online social media company Facebook shares data about its users with a Chinese telecommunications company that has been flagged in United States government reports as a threat to security. The New York Times revealed on Tuesday that Facebook has been routinely giving access to the private data of its users to four Chinese companies since at least 2010. The paper said that the data-sharing agreement with Lenovo, Oppo, TCL, and Huawei Technologies, has its roots in 2007. That was the year when Facebook began an effort to entice cell phone hardware and software manufacturers to include Facebook-friendly apps and features in their products. As part of the agreement, Facebook gave cell phone manufacturers access to its users’ private data, including “religious and political leanings, work and education history and relationship status”, said the Times. Continue reading

Iran: The Hollowing-Out of the Regime

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Pictured: The Iranian city of Mashhad, enveloped in a haze of air pollution. Of the 500 most polluted cities of the world, Iran with 19 cities comes fifth. (Image source: Tasnim/Wikimedia Commons)

 

  • Iran: The Hollowing-Out of the Regime The analogies with the former East Germany suggest that Iran, too, is ripe for regime change. They also suggest that a change may come in weeks, months or years, depending on chance events and particularly on whether the local authorities and their security forces, at least in some areas, get tired of killing people.
  • What is likely to push such developments forward? The answer is that the new American policy, whether by chance or intent, may be as good as anything.

On December 28, 2017, major protests against the Iranian regime broke out in Mashhad and quickly spread to numerous other urban centers. Mostly merely noisy at first, some turned violent and eventually the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) suppressed the phenomenon, killing some and arresting thousands of others. Protests have continued, but news about them is scanty. How are they to be evaluated?

There are interesting parallels with the twilight of the East German regime. By a coincidence, the Iranian regime is in its fortieth year and the East German regime suddenly collapsed just after its leaders had held a large-scale pompous celebration of its fortieth anniversary in the capital, East Berlin. Continue reading

Iran to increase uranium enrichment. US-Israeli strike on nuclear facilities comes closer

 

Iran is to inform the UN nuclear watchdog in Vienna on Tuesday, June 6, of its decision to increase uranium (UF6) enrichment capacity in response to the US exit from the 2015 nuclear accord. Iran’s Atomic Energy Organization spokesman Behrouz Kamalvandi, announcing this, did not mention a date for this process to begin or the grade of enrichment. Supreme ruler Ayatollah Khamenei’s said Monday night: “I have ordered Iran’s atomic energy agency to be prepared to upgrade our (uranium) enrichment capacity” if the 2015 nuclear deal with the world powers falls apart after the US withdrawal. Chairman Ali Akhbar Salehi of the atomic organization forecast this development some days ago. Continue reading

Chinese influence in New Zealand threatens intelligence-sharing, says Canadian report

CSIS canada

 

The report, entitled China and the Age of Strategic Rivalry, was authored by experts at the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS). It contains a summary of views expressed by participants at an academic outreach workshop that was organized in Canada by the CSIS. In a section focusing on Chinese “interference in democratic systems”, the report suggests that, despite its small size, New Zealand is “valuable to China […] as a soft underbelly through which to access Five Eyes intelligence”. In recent years, claims the report, Beijing has adopted “an aggressive strategy” that has sought to co-opt political and economic elites in New Zealand as a means of influencing political decision making in the country. As part of that process, China seeks to gain advantages in trade and business negotiations, suppress negative views of China, facilitate espionage and control the views of the Chinese expatriate community in New Zealand, according to the report. Ultimately, Beijing seeks to “extricate New Zealand from […] its traditional [military and intelligence] partners]” as a means of asserting its regional and —eventually— global influence, the report concludes. Continue reading

The China Problem

Un Xi Trump

Getty Images

 

Column: North Korea is just a part of the challenge confronting Trump and the United States

“I think I understand why that happened,” President Trump said Thursday, reflecting on a change in North Korean behavior that prompted him to cancel a planned summit with Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. When a reporter asked him to elaborate, the president declined.

Allow me to speculate.

Until recently, the prospects of a summit were high. Experiencing the consequences of debilitating sanctions under President Trump’s “maximum pressure” campaign, Kim Jong Un signaled a new openness. North and South Koreans marched together in the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics. Kim pledged to suspend missile testing and destroy an already-disabled nuclear facility in advance of talks. And most important, at the beginning of May, Kim freed three American hostages in what Trump would describe as a “beautiful gesture” that “was very much appreciated.”

Then the turn came. Continue reading

If Iran resumes enrichment, the US and Israel poised to attack its facilities

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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: If Europe fails to back Iran against the US, Tehran will resume uranium enrichment. He is asking for trouble. Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei tried Wednesday, May 23, to counter Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s ultimatum with one of his own for the European powers, the UK, France and Germany, which are trying to save the 2015 nuclear deal after the US walkout. The dictates he put before them included: European banks must safeguard trade with Iran and stop seeking new negotiations on Iran’s ballistic missile program and regional Middle East activities to gratify the US president. The Europeans must further guarantee Iran’s oil sales and compensate Tehran for losses incurred from US sanctions. If Europe fails to meet Khamenei’s demands, Iran will go back to enriching uranium, effectively turning its back on the 2015 nuclear deal, he warned. Continue reading

Iran heats war rhetoric to cover up military buildup in Syria

Tension between Tehran and Jerusalem has been high since April 9, when an Israel air strike knocked out a Revolutionary Guards air force command center at the Syrian T-4 air base. But, apart from blistering threats of retaliation, Iran has none nothing. Israel celebrated its Independence Day under clear skies, although the following day, Friday, April 20, the Guards deputy commander Gen. Hossein Salami warned that Iran’s hand “was on the trigger of its missiles” and Israel’s air bases were “within reach.” But Tehran sees an opportunity for taking a high tone against Israel following three developments:

Continue reading

Export World Champion under Pressure

BERLIN (Own report) – With intense shuttle diplomacy, members of the German government are seeking to avert the impending US punitive tariffs on European goods and the loss of access to the important US market. Following Germany’s Finance Minster Olaf Scholz’s visit to the US capital yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected in Washington on Friday. Already in the run up to these visits, Berlin seems ready to envisage a revival of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). This strategic decision is accompanied by a clear frontline position against China, as was resolutely demanded by the Trump administration. In addition, German-Russian business relations are increasingly under attack in Washington. At the same time, EU criticism of Germany’s unilateral trade policies is growing. Germany’s export oriented economy is particularly vulnerable to the protectionism that is gaining strength on a global scale. Berlin’s Beggar-thy-Neighbor-Policy could prove a strategic disadvantage under these new global economic conditions. Continue reading

EU To Require ‘Biometric ID’

One step closer:

14 Because of the signs it was given power to perform on behalf of the first beast, it deceived the inhabitants of the earth. It ordered them to set up an image in honor of the beast who was wounded by the sword and yet lived. 15 The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship the image to be killed. 16 It also forced all people, great and small, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hands or on their foreheads, 17 so that they could not buy or sell unless they had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of its name. — Revelation 13: 14-17

 

 

Every European Will Be Required To Have The Card, Which Officials Say Will Curb Islamist Violence.

According to the German newspaper Die Welt (The World), the European Commission has announced it will make “biometric identification cards” compulsory throughout the European Union. Continue reading

5 Things that ‘Come Next’ with Syria

 

The Danger Of World War Is Far From Removed Following The West’s ‘One And Done’ Missile Strikes.

Now that the “one and done” missile barrage against Syria’s purported chemical weapons program following the alleged gas attack in Douma is over, here are five consequences that need to be monitored in the weeks ahead. Continue reading

Trump announces strikes on Syria following suspected chemical weapons attack by Assad forces

Damascus sky lights up with surface to air missile fire as the U.S. launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the Syrian capital Damascus, Syria, early Saturday, April 14, 2018. (Hassan Ammar / AP)

 

The president did not specify a target for the strikes, but said the United States would aim to hit sites “associated with the chemical weapons capabilities” of Assad’s regime.

President Donald Trump on Friday ordered the United States military — in conjunction with France and the United Kingdom — to launch strikes on Syria in retaliation for a suspected chemical weapons attack by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad on a Damascus suburb last week.

The president did not specify a target for the strikes, but said the United States would aim to hit sites “associated with the chemical weapons capabilities” of Assad’s regime. Continue reading

World War 3: Britain sends THIRD warship to Asia-Pacific as tensions rise with North Korea

HMS Sutherland is being deployed to the Pacific (Beutner/ullstein bild via Getty)

 

THE UK has deployed a third navy warship to the Asia-Pacific as diplomatic tensions with North Korea continue to rise. HMS Albion will join HMS Sutherland and will help enforce UN sanctions against North Korea, as well as take part in joint training and exercises with regional allies.

The Ministry of Defence previously announced that HMS Argyll would also be deployed, arriving in the region later in the year to take part in an exercise with Australia, Malaysia, New Zealand and Singapore. Continue reading

Moscow turns against Israel, suspects its air strike in Syria was a feeler for a US offensive

 

Moscow’s tone towards Israel turned hostile on Monday, April 9, after its claim that the IDF conducted an air strike on the Syrian T-4 airbase that morning. This claim was in itself a departure from the Kremlin’s longstanding line of letting Israel’s military operations pass without comment. Stepping away from this custom, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that two Israeli F-15 fighter jets carried out a guided missile air strike on the T-4 air base in Homs from Lebanese air space. Syria was said to have shot down 5 out of the 8 missiles fired, while three landed in the western part of the base. The Moscow statement stressed: “There were no Russian advisers among those injured” – 14 in all, according to some sources. Continue reading

The New German Political Hawk?

 

The German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen was being touted as a possible successor to Merkel. She has spoken at the Munich Security Conference stating that there must be “the common will to actually use the military weight when circumstances require it.” Leyen has come out saying that Germany should no longer hide behind its history, but must accept that soldiers must fight for the security of the nation and the freedom of the people. Leyen’s French colleague, Florence Parly, has also called for closer European military cooperation. Continue reading