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 on: August 28, 2015, 08:41:43 AM 
Started by DougMacG - Last post by Crafty_Dog

 on: August 28, 2015, 08:34:06 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M

 on: August 28, 2015, 08:31:12 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Fair point.

 on: August 28, 2015, 08:30:46 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
By Paul McLeary with Adam Rawnsley

#flex? Defense Secretary Ash Carter is back in Silicon Valley to sell his vision for a collaboration between fast-moving tech giants and the more “traditional” Pentagon bureaucracy. In his second trip there in four months, Carter will use a speech Friday afternoon to unveil the $171 million FlexTech Alliance award, a collaboration between a consortium of tech companies and the Pentagon whose goal is to produce flexible sensors that can be stretched over clothing or fitted on ships and airplanes.

Backed by 162 companies, universities, and research labs, the alliance includes names like Apple and Lockheed Martin and will be managed by the Air Force Research laboratory. Overall, it’ll receive $75 million in Defense Department funding over the next five years, along with $96 million from the civilian sector.

Carter has been pushing the nascent partnership with the tech world hard since assuming office in February. He last visited Silicon Valley in April, and addressed a conference of tech CEOs in Idaho in early July at The Allen & Co. conference, where he pitched a greater collaboration between the two. He has also put some roots down in the valley, having opened the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUX) at Moffet Field in San Jose, right next to a building owned by Google.

 on: August 28, 2015, 08:26:20 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by G M
It's not rape if it is consensual.

 on: August 28, 2015, 08:15:40 AM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog
Second post of morning

 Did Iran Gift the Saudis a Terrorist Suspect?
Geopolitical Diary
August 27, 2015 | 21:18 GMT

Multiple sources, including CNN, AP and Saudi newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat, reported Aug. 27 that Ahmed al-Mughassil was arrested in Beirut and transferred to Saudi Arabia. Al-Mughassil was identified in a 2001 U.S. Department of Justice indictment as the mastermind behind the Khobar Towers bombings, a 1996 attack against a Saudi housing complex where foreign military personnel lived. Nineteen U.S. servicemen were killed, and almost 500 were reported injured in the attack.

The details surrounding al-Mughassil's arrest are rather mysterious. Asharq Al-Awsat reported that al-Mughassil was actually arrested two weeks ago, after Saudi intelligence discovered he had traveled to Beirut from Iran and was in a southern Beirut neighborhood controlled by Hezbollah. CNN did not go so far, reporting merely that al-Mughassil had been "bundled into a plane" and taken to Saudi Arabia.

Stratfor sources have reported an additional detail not currently being covered in the mainstream media: that the Iranians, who had ostensibly provided al-Mughassil safe haven for years, informed the Lebanese Internal Security Forces of al-Mughassil's arrival in Beirut. Lebanon's security forces then picked up al-Mughassil at the Hezbollah-controlled airport and immediately turned him over to the Saudis on a private jet that was waiting for him. Though this account has not been confirmed, it fits within the larger realignment occurring across the region as a result of the U.S.-Iranian nuclear accord. For months, even years, leading up to the accord, Iran attempted to prod the Saudis into a diplomatic conversation, but the Saudis have thus far staunchly refused to participate. The rumors also come in the context of a great deal of diplomatic activity related to the Syrian civil war; both Iran and Saudi Arabia want to settle the conflict in a way that suits their respective, and divergent, interests.

When it occurred, the Khobar Towers bombing was not exactly a clear-cut case. A U.S. indictment claimed that evidence suggested covert Iranian involvement, but no Iranian officials were singled out. It was al-Mughassil, the leader of Hezbollah al-Hejaz (the Saudi faction of Hezbollah), who was identified as the plot's mastermind; numerous others were identified as being involved, many of whom the Saudis have already imprisoned. A U.S. federal judge even ruled in 2006 that Iran owed the families of 17 American victims of the bombings a total of $254 million.

However, history has cast some doubt over Iran's role in the attack. For one thing, Hezbollah al-Hejaz never actually claimed responsibility for the Khobar Towers bombing. Iran maintained that al Qaeda was the guilty party, and the Sept. 11 commission suggested an al Qaeda link. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry has also said in recent years that he believes al Qaeda, and not Iran, is to blame for the attack.

There has been no confirmation from the Saudi, Lebanese or U.S. governments that al-Mughassil has actually been detained; all reports have been from anonymous officials and confidential sources. But assuming that al-Mughassil has actually been arrested, perhaps the most confusing of the scant verifiable details available is that Lebanon was either actively or passively involved in offering al-Mughassil to the Saudis. Lebanon — the same country that passed a general amnesty law in 1991 giving sanctuary to figures such as Imad Mughniyah, Hassan Ezzeddine, Ali Atwa, Mohammed Ali Hammadi, and Cpl. Wassef Ali Hassoun — is not known for extraditing wanted individuals to foreign countries. In the past, Lebanon has not succumbed to U.S. pressure in similar circumstances, even when the United States demanded control over suspects in the 1985 hijacking of TWA Flight 847.

It is even less clear why Iran would have decided to offer up al-Mughassil in the first place, if it was in fact Iran that informed the Saudis of al-Mughassil's movements. Is it a show of good faith to Saudi Arabia, an Iranian attempt to show that the Islamic republic is interested in at least partially mending ties with the kingdom? It could be, but offering up one militant who authored a bombing in 1996 is not likely to have much of an effect on the Saudi-Iranian relationship. Was it a low-stakes understanding reached between the Americans and the Iranians, a way for Iran to show it is willing to cooperate with the United States in limited ways outside the framework of the understanding reached on Tehran's nuclear program? There is no evidence to support such a theory, but, to a degree, it seems credible. Next week, Saudi King Salman is due to make his first visit to the United States since he ascended the throne. Washington will likely press Riyadh to hand over al-Mughassil. The Saudis, as they have with previous suspects tied even to the case, will likely refuse but will enjoy having something to hold over U.S. President Barack Obama.

Whatever the details, this much is clear: A well-known militant with a $5 million bounty on his head flew from his safe haven in Iran to Lebanon, a country known for harboring wanted suspects, and to territory controlled by Iranian-backed Hezbollah. After landing in Beirut, he was whisked away to Riyadh. Something in the geopolitical relationship between Iran, Lebanon and Saudi Arabia made this possible. And though we can not yet delineate the precise chronology of events or identify who is responsible for what, the strangeness of the events should give us pause and force us to reconsider what other previously held notions about the Middle East need re-evaluation or may be obsolete altogether.

 on: August 28, 2015, 08:13:59 AM 
Started by buzwardo - Last post by Crafty_Dog
A FB friend of dubious reliability who occasionally gets something right counters with this:

 on: August 28, 2015, 08:01:29 AM 
Started by captainccs - Last post by Crafty_Dog
 Why Middle Eastern Conflicts Will Escalate
August 28, 2015 | 09:15 GMT
Text Size

Editor's Note: This is the third installment of an occasional series on the evolving fortunes of the Middle East that Stratfor will be building upon periodically.

Tehran's competitors in the region will not sit idly by without attempting to curb the expansion of Iranian influence. This will not manifest in all-out warfare between the Middle East's most significant powers; Iran is not the only country well versed in the use of proxies. But the conflicts that are already raging in the region will continue unabated and likely only worsen. These clashes will occur on multiple fault lines: Sunni versus Shiite, for example, plus ethnic conflicts among Turks, Iranians, Arabs, Kurds, and other groups. The Iranian nuclear deal in the short term thus means more conflict, not less.



Stratfor has long predicted that the role of regional hegemon will eventually fall to Turkey, which boasts the largest economy in the Middle East and is strategically situated at the confluence of the Black Sea and the Mediterranean, on the Sea of Marmara. It is not a coincidence that what is now the Turkish capital spent more than 1,500 years as the center of powerful empires, from 330 CE, when the Byzantine Empire was founded, until 1918, when the Ottoman Empire fell. 

Like the United States, Turkey has some converging interests with Iran; its rivalry with its neighbor to the east is not a zero-sum competition. For one, Turkey depends on Iranian oil, which in 2014 made up 26 percent of Turkey's oil imports. Lifting sanctions on Iran will offer Turkey's commercial class, which is hungry for the potential economic returns, ample opportunity to invest. Besides the economic links between the two powers, Tehran and Ankara also share some strategic interests. For example, both oppose the rise of an independent Kurdish state from the ashes of the Syrian civil war and the Iraqi conflict. While Tehran has at times offered military support to Kurds fending off the Islamic State in Iraq, Iran has a significant Kurdish population of its own, with estimates ranging anywhere from 6 million to 7 million people. Almost 15 percent of Turkey's population is Kurdish, and Ankara has had to contend with Kurdish insurgency since 1984.

More broadly, however, Turkey and Iran are natural competitors. And even though Kurdish containment is a common interest between the rivals, the Kurds are also a useful tool for each to undermine the other. Thus, Kurdistan is the natural battleground between Turkey and Iran, and the two powers will use factions against one another as their competition increases. And though Turkey is predominantly Sunni and Iran predominantly Shiite, it is important to note that Ankara and Tehran seek to establish dominance over a region that is predominantly Arab. For many Arabs, choosing between Turkish or Persian rule is like choosing between death by drowning or by immolation.

Turkey's relationship with the Islamic State is unclear; only in recent months has Turkey's policy toward the militant group changed from passive acquiescence to active disruption. This may be because Turkey feels that Islamic State is becoming a domestic threat, with cells and operatives located across the country. Ankara may also have grown weary and frustrated with the fact that the West looks more favorably upon the prospect of Kurdish independence when it hears and sees that the Kurds seem to be the most effective force fighting the Islamic State.

Turkey has been adamant about seeing the downfall of Syrian President Bashar al Assad, actively supplying and training militants to fight Damascus. Ankara regards the Levant as its own sphere of influence, and it does not look kindly upon Iranian attempts to expand in the region. The possibility that Turkey will take a more active role in Syria also cannot be dismissed, especially in light of recent reports that Turkey is considering moving its military into northern Syria to create a buffer zone that would prevent Syrian Kurdish expansion and significantly weaken the Islamic State, enabling Sunni insurgents to focus their resources on continuing the assault on the al Assad government.

Saudi Arabia

Unlike Turkey, Saudi Arabia has relatively few if any shared interests with Iran. The kingdom is an Arab, Sunni power, and the Wahhabism sect of Islam to which most Saudis subscribe views Shiites with deep suspicion. With a Shiite minority making up between 10 percent and 15 percent of its population, and with Iraq no longer a bulwark against Iran's ambitions, Saudi Arabia rightly sees itself on the front line of the conflict with Iran. That most of Saudi Arabia's Shiite population lives in close proximity to the country's massive oil fields, which are the source of Saudi wealth and power, makes the specter of Iranian expansion all the more alarming to Riyadh. As recently as 2011, Saudi Arabia sent troops into Bahrain to help put down unrest in the Sunni-ruled, Shiite-majority country, precisely because it feared Iran might use the situation to extend its reach in the Gulf.

Like Turkey, Saudi Arabia wants to see the downfall of the al Assad government, which would deal a crippling blow to Iranian influence in the region. For a time, the Saudis thought that the Islamic State could help them achieve that goal. That plan has backfired on Riyadh, as it must now deal with threats from both the Islamic State and al Qaeda. Still, Saudi Arabia continues to support other Sunni militants in Syria fighting against loyalist forces, and it, along with Jordan, is reportedly providing arms to Sunni tribes fighting in Iraq.

Unlike Turkey and Iran, Saudi Arabia has no immediate Kurdish problem, and Stratfor is already observing signs that the House of Saud will assist Kurdish elements in Iraq militarily. How far the Saudis will pursue this strategy, and which Kurdish factions the Saudis will support, is unclear. But the Iranians are already trying to provoke minority groups in Saudi Arabia, so the Saudis will likely at least attempt to embolden an autonomous Kurdistan capable of affecting regional economic and security issues — even though supporting the Kurds will mar Riyadh's relationship with Ankara. After all, though both are Sunni powers, Saudi Arabia has almost as little interest in seeing Turkey dominate the Middle East as it does Iran.

In 2014, Saudi Arabia did attempt to start a diplomatic dialogue with Iran, but this effort quickly deteriorated with the beginning of the conflict in Yemen. With Riyadh focused on battling the Shiites and the Islamic State in the rest of the region, it was caught off guard when Iranian-backed Houthi rebels made significant military gains in Yemen, at one point even capturing Sanaa, the capital. Saudi Arabia has since committed air and land power to the conflict, and by April 2015 the tide had begun to turn. Since the six world powers agreed to a nuclear deal with Iran, Saudi-backed anti-Houthi forces in Yemen have won major victories in the Gulf of Aden. These types of conflicts are already the norm across the region, and the rehabilitation of Iran's international image coupled with Tehran's desires to expand its domain will lead to more of the same.


Egypt, like Saudi Arabia, is an Arab, Sunni power, but one whose ability to act is much more constrained than Turkey or Saudi Arabia. Still, Cairo is an important part of the balance of power that the United States is trying to establish in the Middle East, as evidenced by Washington's abrupt amnesia regarding the coup that ousted democratically-elected President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, as soon as Iranian-backed forces in Yemen reared their heads in 2014. In addition, from the U.S. perspective, the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty of 1979 remains one of the defining features of the region. Yet Egypt faces serious internal issues of its own, as it tries to roll back a subsidy regime, elect a parliament, contain social unrest, and manage multiple jihadist threats in the country, including disturbingly competent attacks in Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula. Despite this, Egyptian forces are also active in Yemen, and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was in Russia this week to discuss economic ties and the situation in Syria with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Egypt and Saudi Arabia have increased cooperation in recent months and may try to pool their resources to protect the Arab heartland of the Middle East. A joint Arab defense force under development could easily become part of this plan and is one of Cairo's ways of attempting to maintain a prominent role in the regional alignment.

Overall, the Iran nuclear deal then will not mean less violence or war; it will mean more. The uprisings in the Arab world in 2011 created power vacuums across the region; proxies supported by outside powers, as well as local militias and groups, found new space in which to operate. Conflict in the region will become increasingly about Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Egypt using various groups to compete against one other, rather than groups taking advantage of failed states to carve out small fiefdoms of power and responsibility for themselves.

 on: August 28, 2015, 07:56:34 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
National Review

What Six Years of ‘Reset’ with Russia Have Wrought
By Charles Krauthammer — August 27, 2015

On September 5, 2014, Russian agents crossed into Estonia and kidnapped an Estonian security official. Last week, after a closed trial, Russia sentenced him to 15 years.
The reaction? The State Department issued a statement. The NATO secretary-general issued a tweet. Neither did anything. The European Union (reports the Wall Street Journal) said it was too early to discuss any possible action.

The timing of this brazen violation of NATO territory — two days after President Obama visited Estonia to symbolize America’s commitment to its security — is testimony to Vladimir Putin’s contempt for the American president. He knows Obama will do nothing. Why should he think otherwise?

Putin breaks the arms embargo to Iran by lifting the hold on selling it S-300 missiles. Obama responds by excusing him, saying it wasn’t technically illegal and adding, with a tip of the hat to Putin’s patience: “I’m frankly surprised that it held this long.”

Russia mousetraps Obama at the eleventh hour of the Iran negotiations, joining Iran in demanding that the conventional-weapons and ballistic-missile embargos be dropped. Obama caves.

Putin invades Ukraine, annexes Crimea, breaks two Minsk cease-fire agreements, and erases the Russia–Ukraine border. Obama’s response? Pinprick sanctions, empty threats, and a continuing refusal to supply Ukraine with defensive weaponry, lest he provoke Putin.

The East Europeans have noticed. In February, Lithuania decided to reinstate conscription, a move strategically insignificant — the Lithuanians couldn’t hold off the Russian army for a day — but highly symbolic. Eastern Europe has been begging NATO to station permanent bases on its territory as a tripwire guaranteeing a powerful NATO/U.S. response to any Russian aggression.

NATO has refused. Instead, Obama offered more military exercises in the Baltic States and Poland. And threw in an additional 250 tanks and armored vehicles, spread among seven allies.

It is true that Putin’s resentment over Russia’s lost empire long predates Obama. But for resentment to turn into revanchism — an active policy of reconquest — requires opportunity. Which is exactly what Obama’s “reset” policy has offered over the past six and a half years.

Since the end of World War II, Russia has known that what stands in the way of westward expansion was not Europe, living happily in decadent repose, but the United States as guarantor of Western security. Obama’s naďveté and ambivalence have put those guarantees in question.

It began with the reset button, ostentatiously offered less than two months after Obama’s swearing-in. Followed six months later by the unilateral American cancellation of the missile shield the Poles and the Czechs had agreed to install on their territory. Again, lest Putin be upset.

By 2012, a still clueless Obama mocked Mitt Romney for saying that Russia is “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe,” quipping oh so cleverly: “The 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” After all, he explained, “the Cold War’s been over for 20 years.”

Turned out it was 2015 calling. Obama’s own top officials have been retroactively vindicating Romney. Last month, Obama’s choice for chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff declared that “Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security.” Two weeks ago, the retiring Army chief of staff, Raymond Odierno, called Russia our “most dangerous” military threat. Obama’s own secretary of defense has gone one better: “Russia poses an existential threat to the United States.”

Turns out the Cold War is not over either. Putin is intent on reviving it. Helped immensely by Obama’s epic misjudgment of Russian intentions, the balance of power has shifted — and America’s allies feel it.

And not just the East Europeans. The president of Egypt, a country estranged from Russia for 40 years and our mainstay Arab ally in the Middle East, has twice visited Moscow within the last four months.

The Saudis, congenitally wary of Russia but shell-shocked by Obama’s grand nuclear capitulation to Iran that will make it the regional hegemon, are searching for alternatives, too. At a recent economic conference in St. Petersburg, the Saudis invited Putin to Riyadh and the Russians reciprocated by inviting the new King Salman to visit Czar Vladimir in Moscow.

Even Pakistan, a traditional Chinese ally and Russian adversary, is buying Mi-35 helicopters from Russia, which is building a natural-gas pipeline between Karachi and Lahore.
As John Kerry awaits his upcoming Nobel and Obama plans his presidential library (my suggestion: Havana), Putin is deciding how to best exploit the final 17 months of his Obama bonanza.

The world sees it. Obama doesn’t.

— Charles Krauthammer is a nationally syndicated columnist. © 2015 The Washington Post Writers Group

 on: August 28, 2015, 07:47:03 AM 
Started by Crafty_Dog - Last post by Crafty_Dog
"CD, What makes you think that he would not get the best for each area? That is what he says he would do, and I believe him there."

Forgive me, but that does not address my point-- which is the suggestion that Trump ANNOUNCE this NOW.  Reflect upon what the reaction to this might be in various quarters and amongst voters.

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