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Report: Iran test fires long-range ballistic missile

October 11, 2015

Report: Iran test fires long-range ballistic missile
AP News 10-11-2015

(Meanwhile, under the cover of Putin’s war, his buddies in Iran continue to upgrade their campaign to destroy Israel. – LS)

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran successfully test fired a new guided long-range ballistic surface-to-surface missile, state TV reported on Sunday. It was the first such a test since Iran and world powers reach a historical nuclear deal.

Iran’s Defense Minister Gen. Hossein Dehghan, told the channel that the liquid-fuel missile “will obviously boost the strategic deterrence capability of our armed forces.”

He said the missile, named Emad or pillar in Farsi, was a technological achievement for Iran — able to be controlled until the moment of impact and to hit targets “with high precision.”

The channel showed footage of the huge missile being launched in a desert area, but it did not elaborate on the range of the missile or the specifics of the test firing.

This is the first test of a ballistic surface-to-surface missile by Iran since U.N. Security Council Resolution 2231 in July, which endorsed a landmark nuclear deal reached between Iran and world powers. The resolution called on Iran not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran says none of its missiles are designed for that purpose. (LOL – LS)

Since 1992, Iran has emphasized a self-sufficient and indigenous military production industry, producing missiles, tanks and light submarines. The government frequently announces military advances which cannot independently verified.

The Islamic Republic already claims to have surface-to-surface missiles with a range of 2,000 kilometers (1,250 miles) that can hit Israel and U.S. military bases in the region.

Putin’s Syria strikes are a long-term play for higher oil prices

October 11, 2015

Putin’s Syria strikes are a long-term play for higher oil prices
By Alexander Termerko 10-10-2015 Via The Guardian

(Putin’s saving the Mideast….for himself. – LS)

Russian airstrikes in Syria, the first launched by Moscow outside the former Soviet Union since 1979, have set the tone for what’s to come. The escalating attacks have mainly targeted moderate, western-backed rebels. Civilians have also been hit, while Russian jets have twice violated Turkish airspace.

These immediate transgressions have shown that Putin, as always, will go his own way in this war. He will draw on as much of his military strength as he needs to, he will use indiscriminate force, and he will bully and intimidate the west’s regional allies.

In short, Putin will stop at nothing in pursuit of his goals and the international community needs to understand exactly what those goals are. Putin’s game is bigger than many commentators currently realise.

Yes, this is about Russia’s international standing, but more importantly it is also a long-term play for higher oil prices and, ultimately, a flow of oil dollars into Russia to strengthen his popularity at home.

The international aspect is relatively transparent. Putin has to prop up his ally and force his way back in from the cold on the global stage. Syria is home to Russia’s only naval base in the Middle East and has long been a buyer of Russian arms and a supplier of regional intelligence.

More importantly, however, he cannot be seen to stand by and allow Assad to fall. He needs to show the US and the world that he will not retreat from the position he staked out at the start of the conflict.

By wading into such a complicated international situation, he is also deflecting attention from Ukraine and weaving a new narrative for himself. Putin is now the bold peacekeeper, leading the charge against terrorism ahead of a hesitant US and earning a renewed place at the top table.

Whether they like it or not, western leaders now have to talk to him again. He can risk Russian lives without losing political capital at home, and can point to this sacrifice to leverage a blind eye towards continued aggression in Ukraine.

Of course Russia will also target Islamic State. The territory currently held by Isis contains important oil assets and Putin will be eager to bring these under his control. He can then play the “godfather”, dispensing cheap oil from previously Isis-held areas to his allies in the region.

Which brings us back to his primary aim. The more he can entrench himself in the Middle East, the more he can exert control over energy markets. With Iran and Iraq in his sphere he can begin to force Europe to rely on him again for supplies.

Prolonged war in the Middle East would serve Putin’s interests perfectly. The deeper and more widespread the conflict, the more world oil and gas prices are likely to rise, helping him stage an economic recovery at home and render the sanctions useless.

Ushering in better times at home is therefore Putin’s ultimate aim as he seeks to prop up a system that takes advantage of people’s patriotism and public spirit. The grand plan is for his vital oil and gas revenues to recover so he can buy the loyalty of Russia’s 140 million-strong population.

SHOT OUT OF THE SKY– Turks down ‘Russian plane violating their airspace’

October 11, 2015

SHOT OUT OF THE SKY– Turks down ‘Russian plane violating their airspace’
By Scott Campbell / Published 10th October 2015 Via The Daily Star

(This may be just the beginning. – LS)

According to reports, eyewitnesses saw a large explosion in Huraytan, northern Syria, while three fighter jets were hovering above.

One journalist tweeted that three Turkish planes were responding to “mysterious” lock-ons from Mig-29 jets, which are used by Putin’s forces.

Daily Star Online has contacted the Turkish government and the Russian military but neither could be reached for comment.

It comes amid heightening tensions between Putin and the West just days after another Russian bomber violated Turkish airspace.

F-16 fighters were scrambled after a MIG-29 twin-engined jet locked radar on Turkish planes near the town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province close to the border with Syria.

Turkish jets then escorted the Soviet-era aircraft back into Syrian airspace.

The incursion followed nearly a week of Russia’s devastating bombing campaign in Syria after President Vladimir Putin declared war on Islamic State (ISIS).

Turkey’s Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Russia’s entry into the conflict in Syria had escalated the crisis and that Moscow admitted its warplane’s violation of Turkey’s airspace was a “mistake”.

Russia’s ambassador in Turkey was also summoned in protest at the provocative action.

Turkish officials have warned Moscow would be held “responsible for any undesired incident” that may occur in the future.

And earlier this week former MI6 chief Sir John Sawers warned of a cataclysmic clash between Russia and the US as tensions boil between both superpowers.

It came after Defence Secretary Michael Fallon announced Britain is to station a “small number” of troops in the Baltic states in a further move to deter Russian aggression.

Mr Sawer said: “It is going to be quite hard to continue this campaign unless there is a degree of military co-ordination between the Russians and the West.

“You can’t really have two air forces fighting different campaigns aimed at different objectives over the same territory without the real risk of a clash.”

Giant Oil Deposit Found in Golan

October 9, 2015

Giant Oil Deposit Found in Southern Golan
By Arutz Sheva Staff 10-7-2015

(With Russia playing ‘good cop – bad cop’ just across the border, this could be a real game changer. The stakes for the Golan Heights just went up. How ironic…from the ‘depths’ of the Golan Heights. Just imagine the impact this could have on Israel’s economy if the deposit is as huge as the estimates. – LS)

A giant oil deposit has been found in the southern Golan Heights and estimates are that the amount of oil found will suffice to make Israel self sufficient for many years to come.

Globes quoted Afek Oil and Gas Chief Geologist Dr. Yuval Bartov as saying, “We are talking about a stratum which is 350 meters thick, and what is important is the thickness and the porosity.”

“On average in the world, strata are 20-30 meters thick, so this is ten times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities. The important thing is to know the oil is in the rock and that’s what we now know.”

Large amounts of oil have thus far been found in three drillings that have taken place in the southern Golan Heights. The potential for production is in the billions of barrels. Israel consumes about 100 million barrels of oil per year.

“Although the existence of the oil in the ground is a fact,” wrote Globes, “the critical phase now is to check how easily it can be extracted and whether it involves high production costs. In a period of very low oil prices, extraction will have to be relatively cheap to make exploitation of the field profitable.”

Bartov said, “There is enormous excitement. It’s a fantastic feeling. We came here thinking maybe yes or maybe no and now things are really happening.”

Israeli entrepreneurs have succeeded in finding huge natural offshore gas reserves in recent years, but their exploitation has been held up by leftist pressure to abrogate contracts the government made with the entrepreneurs and increase the government’s share in the gas fields.

Exploitation of the Golan oil discovery is opposed by environmental groups. “This is likely to make any potential extraction from the ground and production a more protracted process lasting many years,” according to Globes.

Hamas Leader: Time for ‘Third Intifada’ Against Israel

October 9, 2015

Hamas Leader: Time for ‘Third Intifada’ Against Israel
by Jordan Schachtel 6 Oct 2015 Via Breitbart

(Hamas and the Palestinians seem emboldened by the the Axis of Evil’s war in Syria. Apparently they feel Russia’s got their backs covered. Could be. I just wonder why so little is said of this possiblilty in the media. To me, it’s like ignoring the proverbial 1000 pound gorilla in the room. – LS)

A senior member of the Gaza-ruling terrorist group Hamas has called for a third intifada, or terror uprising, against the Jewish state of Israel.

Mahmoud al-Zahar, who previously served as Foreign Minister of the Palestinian National Authority, but now helps lead Hamas, said that now is the time for Palestinians to rise up against Israel.
Al-Zahar told the website of Hamas that an intifada is the only way to protect Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa mosque from Israel. Notably, Palestinian and regional leaders have decried Israel’s supposed “desecration” of the mosque. However, Israeli authorities are not even in charge of the grounds surrounding the mosque, and there has been no evidence presented of Israel tampering with the status quo around the holy site.

“The image of Palestinians from the West Bank and Jerusalem throwing stones and Molotov cocktails has dealt a blow to the occupier,” Al-Zahar said in approval of Palestinian riot tactics.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), however, is refusing to openly call for another intifada, although their leadership continues to justify and incite violence against Israelis.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas instructed his security forces to ramp up preventive measures in the West Bank in order to quell the surge in Palestinian violence, the Jerusalem Post reports. The office of President Abbas said the additional security measures were taken to “ensure security for the homeland and the people.”

Although Palestinian leaders continue to incite terror and refuse to condemn the murder of innocents, Abbas made clear that he does not want to square off against the might of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF).

Abbas said Tuesday at a meeting with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO): “We tell them (the Israelis) that we do not want either military or security escalation. All our instructions to our (security) agencies, our factions and our youth have been that we do not want escalation.”

Separately, the Israeli Defense Ministry announced on Tuesday that workers had completed construction of a security fence that provides protection for the Israeli communities situated near Israel’s Gaza border. The fence was built in anticipation of a future conflict with Hamas, which started a war with Israel in the summer of 2014 when its henchman assassinated three Israeli teenagers.

Beware Putin and his ‘anti-Hitler coalition’

October 9, 2015

Beware Putin and his ‘anti-Hitler coalition’
By Victor Davis Hanson 10-8-2015 Via Jewish World Review
Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.

(This little love affair with the Russians has got some folks jumping into bed with them so fast it would make a prostitute blush. – LS)

Contrary to the principles of American foreign policy of the last 70 years, President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry tacitly invited Russia to “help” monitor things in the Middle East. Now they are learning that there are lots of Middle East scenarios far worse than the relative quiet Iraq that the Obama administration inherited in January 2009 — and soon abandoned.

Russian President Vladimir Putin liked the American invitation so much that he now has decided to move in permanently. Putin now wants the West to join his new Syria-Iran-Hezbollah-Iraq axis against the Islamic State — or to at least sit back and allow Russia to straighten out the Middle East as it sees fit.

To fight the Islamic State, Putin has called for something similar to the “anti-Hitler coalition” of World War II that once saw the Soviet Union and the West unite to defeat Nazi Germany.
Certainly, the Islamic State, like Nazi Germany, is a savage regime. So far it has grown unchecked at the very center of the Middle East. Yet under the cloak of fighting the Islamic State, Putin has two greater visions.

One, he is intervening to save his client in Syria, strongman Bashar al-Assad — and with him a new Middle East Shiite axis of Iran, Iraq, Syria and Russia. Putin says he wishes to destroy the terrorists of the Islamic State. But for now he is bombing moderate opponents of Assad and bolstering the anti-Western terrorists of Hezbollah and perhaps Hamas as well.

Two, Putin is sending a warning to the oil-exporting Sunni monarchies of the Persian Gulf, who are as rich as they are militarily weak: Russia, not the United States, is the new cop on the Middle Eastern beat.

If oil-rich and nuclear Russia and a soon-to-be-nuclear Iran can bully the Sunni monarchies, Putin’s new cartel may control the spigot of some 75 percent of the world’s daily export of oil.
Putin’s recall of history is as fishy as his proposed coalition. Since he has invoked the “anti-Hitler” alliance of World War II, we would all do well to remember the circumstances that led to the totalitarian Soviet Union of Josef Stalin joining with democracies to defeat Hitler.

Stalin, remember, was originally a de facto ally of Adolf Hitler. Stalin signed a nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany on August 23, 1939. That devil’s agreement greenlighted the start of World War II just over a week later.

Germany invaded neutral Poland on Sept. 1, 1939. It was joined soon after by Russian troops attacking from the east. With a now-friendly Russia at his rear, Hitler was then free to turn westward against the European democracies.

Russia still seems embarrassed by its 1939 sellout. Marshal Stalin would supply the Third Reich for 22 months with key resources that helped Hitler to attack Belgium, Denmark, France, Great Britain, Greece, Holland, Luxembourg, Norway and Yugoslavia.

There is no reason to believe the Soviet Union would ever have flipped to join Great Britain against Nazi Germany had Hitler not double-crossed Stalin and invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. After all, Stalin’s communist regime had liquidated more than 15 million of its own citizens during 1920s and 1930s, and was a kindred genocidal state to Hitler’s National Socialist Third Reich.

That embarrassing deal with Hitler still haunts Russia. Poland has complained bitterly about absurd statements made by a Russian ambassador who recently claimed that Poland was partly to blame for the outbreak of WWII because it blocked the formation of a coalition against Germany.

Russia’s dalliance with Hitler proved nearly suicidal. Russia lost nearly 30 million soldiers and civilians on the Eastern Front during its four-year struggle against its onetime Nazi partner.

True, the Red Army was responsible for more than two-thirds of the German casualties in WWII and helped to wreck the Wehrmacht. Yet cynical and opportunistic Russia at one time or another cut some sort of friendship deal with every major combatant on both sides of WWII: America, Britain, Germany, Italy and Japan.

Ironically, Stalin kept his word to the Axis alliance of Germany, Italy and Japan far better than he later did to the Allied partners, Britain and the United States, who helped save him. The Western allies provided nearly 20 percent of all Russian wartime resources. Without key Anglo-American resources like aluminum and heavy transport trucks, Russia might well have been knocked out by Hitler.

Yet after the war, Stalin renounced all his prior commitments to hold free and fair elections in those countries liberated from Nazism by the Red Army.

Putin’s sloppy historical perspective on World War II is a window into his soul. And we should be as distrustful of him as our disillusioned forefathers finally were of Stalin’s Soviet Union.

The way to end the murderous rampage of a savage, radical Islamic State is not by joining a Russian-Iranian cartel propping up Shiite terrorists and lapdog dictatorships in the Middle East as it seeks to strong-arm moderate Sunni states and oil-exporting monarchies.

AP INVESTIGATION: Nuclear smugglers sought extremist buyers

October 7, 2015

AP INVESTIGATION: Nuclear smugglers sought extremist buyers
By Desmond Butler And Vadim Ghirda Associated Press October 6, 2015

This undated photo provided by the Moldova General Police Inspectorate shows Alexandr Agheenco, a Russian citizen based in Moldova’s breakaway region of Trans-Dniestr, and called “the Colonel” by his cohorts. Authorities said a 2011 uranium-235 smuggling operation was led by him with Teodor Chetrus, a former KGB informant, as his middleman. (Moldova Police via AP) (AP)

(This article pretty much speaks for itself. With Russians like these guys, who needs enemies. – LS)

CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — In the backwaters of Eastern Europe, authorities working with the FBI have interrupted four attempts in the past five years by gangs with suspected Russian connections that sought to sell radioactive material to Middle Eastern extremists, The Associated Press has learned. The latest known case came in February this year, when a smuggler offered a huge cache of deadly cesium — enough to contaminate several city blocks — and specifically sought a buyer from the Islamic State group.

Criminal organizations, some with ties to the Russian KGB’s successor agency, are driving a thriving black market in nuclear materials in the tiny and impoverished country of Moldova, investigators say. The successful busts, however, were undercut by striking shortcomings: Kingpins got away, and those arrested evaded long prison sentences, sometimes quickly returning to nuclear smuggling, AP found.

Moldovan police and judicial authorities shared investigative case files with AP in an effort to spotlight how dangerous the nuclear black market has become. They say the breakdown in cooperation between Russia and the West means that it has become much harder to know whether smugglers are finding ways to move parts of Russia’s vast store of radioactive materials — an unknown quantity of which has leached into the black market.

“We can expect more of these cases,” said Constantin Malic, a Moldovan police officer who investigated all four cases. “As long as the smugglers think they can make big money without getting caught, they will keep doing it.”

In wiretaps, videotaped arrests, photographs of bomb-grade material, documents and interviews, AP found a troubling vulnerability in the anti-smuggling strategy. From the first known Moldovan case in 2010 to the most recent one in February, a pattern has emerged: Authorities pounce on suspects in the early stages of a deal, giving the ringleaders a chance to escape with their nuclear contraband — an indication that the threat from the nuclear black market in the Balkans is far from under control.

Moldovan investigators can’t be sure that the suspects who fled didn’t hold on to the bulk of the nuclear materials. Nor do they know whether the groups, which are pursuing buyers who are enemies of the West, may have succeeded in selling deadly nuclear material to extremists at a time when the Islamic State has made clear its ambition to use weapons of mass destruction.

The cases involve secret meetings in a high-end nightclub; blue-prints for dirty bombs; and a nerve-shattered undercover investigator who slammed vodka shots before heading into meetings with smugglers. Informants and a police officer posing as a connected gangster — complete with a Mercedes Benz provided by the FBI — penetrated the smuggling gangs. The police used a combination of old-fashioned undercover tactics and high-tech gear, from radiation detectors to clothing threaded with recording devices.

The Moldovan operations were built on a partnership between the FBI and a small team of Moldovan investigators — including Malic, who over five years went from near total ignorance of the frightening black market in his backyard to wrapping up four sting operations.

“In the age of the Islamic State, it’s especially terrifying to have real smugglers of nuclear bomb material apparently making connections with real buyers,” says Matthew Bunn, a Harvard professor who led a secret study for the Clinton administration on the security of Russia’s nuclear arsenal.

The Moldovan investigators were well aware of the lethal consequences of just one slip-up. Posing as a representative’s buyer, Malic was so terrified before meetings that he gulped shots of vodka to steel his nerves. Other cases contained elements of farce: In the cesium deal, an informant held a high-stakes meeting with a seller at an elite dance club filled with young people nibbling on sushi.

In the case of the cesium, investigators said the one vial they ultimately recovered was a less radioactive form of cesium than the smugglers originally advertised, and not suitable for making a dirty bomb.

The most serious case began in the spring of 2011, with the investigation of a group led by a shadowy Russian named Alexandr Agheenco, “the colonel” to his cohorts, whom Moldovan authorities believe to be an officer with the Russian FSB, previously known as the KGB. A middle man working for the colonel was recorded arranging the sale of bomb-grade uranium, U-235, and blueprints for a dirty bomb to a man from Sudan, according to several officials. The blueprints were discovered in a raid of the middleman’s home, according to police and court documents.

Wiretapped conversations repeatedly exposed plots that targeted the United States, the Moldovan officials said. At one point the middleman told an informant posing as a buyer that it was essential that the smuggled uranium go to Arabs.

“He said to the informant on a wire: ‘I really want an Islamic buyer because they will bomb the Americans,'” said Malic, the investigator.

As in the other cases, investigators arrested mostly mid-level players after an early exchange of cash and radioactive goods.

The ringleader, the colonel, got away. Police cannot determine whether he had more nuclear material. His partner, who wanted to “annihilate America,” is out of prison.