Monthly Archives: August 2013


The Troodos Conundrum

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The GCHQ listening post on Mount Troodos in Cyprus is arguably the most valued asset which the UK contributes to UK/US intelligence cooperation.  The communications intercept agencies, GCHQ in the UK and NSA in the US, share all their intelligence reports (as do the CIA and MI6).  Troodos is valued enormously by the NSA.  It monitors all radio, satellite and microwave traffic across the Middle East, ranging from Egypt and Eastern Libya right through to the Caucasus.  Even almost all landline telephone communication in this region is routed through microwave links at some stage, picked up on Troodos.

Troodos is highly effective – the jewel in the crown of British intelligence.  Its capacity and efficiency, as well as its reach, is staggering.  The US do not have their own comparable facility for the Middle East.  I should state that I have actually been inside all of this facility and been fully briefed on its operations and capabilities, while I was head of the FCO Cyprus Section in the early 1990s.  This is fact, not speculation.

It is therefore very strange, to say the least, that John Kerry claims to have access to communications intercepts of Syrian military and officials organising chemical weapons attacks, which intercepts were not available to the British Joint Intelligence Committee.

On one level the explanation is simple.  The intercept evidence was provided to the USA by Mossad, according to my own well  placed source in the Washington intelligence community.  Intelligence provided by a third party is not automatically shared with the UK, and indeed Israel specifies it should not be.

But the inescapable question is this.  Mossad have nothing comparable to the Troodos operation.  The reported content of the conversations fits exactly with key tasking for Troodos, and would have tripped all the triggers.  How can Troodos have missed this if Mossad got it?  The only remote possibility is that all the conversations went on a purely landline route, on which Mossad have a physical wire tap, but that is very unlikely in a number of ways – not least nowadays the purely landline route.

Israel has repeatedly been involved in the Syrian civil war, carrying out a number of illegal bombings and missile strikes over many months.  This absolutely illegal activity by Israel- which has killed a great many civilians, including children – has brought no condemnation at all from the West.  Israel has now provided “intelligence” to the United States designed to allow the United States to join in with Israel’s bombing and missile campaign.

The answer to the Troodos Conundrum is simple.  Troodos did not pick up the intercepts because they do not exist.  Mossad fabricated them.  John Kerry’s “evidence” is the shabbiest of tricks.  More children may now be blown to pieces by massive American missile blasts.  It is nothing to do with humanitarian intervention.  It is, yet again, the USA acting at the behest of Israel.

 

 

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Don’t Celebrate Yet

There is no obvious reason why the Western powers should care whether it was the friends or the family of Mohammed which took over the leadership of his movement upon his death.  However there is plainly an agenda led by the USA to support the Sunnis in their spiralling regional conflict with the Shia.

This is not hard to rationalise.  The ultra wealthy members of the Gulf regimes continue to act as the West’s proxies in the region and provide  harbour to its neo-imperialist armed forces, while at the same time maintaining themselves a obscurantist version of Islam which would have horrified Mohammed and breaks virtually every precept of the Koran, particularly as regards treatment of women and of minority religions within their territory.

In Bahrain the large Shia majority is brutally repressed with active western collusion; in Saudi Arabia the Shia minority in the East is degraded.  Iran is the great Shia bogey, and the West is so determined to maintain it as “the enemy” that they refuse the most basic diplomatic openings.  The UK turned down an invitation to be represented at the inauguration of a new more moderate President and hold initial conversations.  Meanwhile, Shia groups have mustered the only effective military resistance to Israeli aggression, and in Syria a Shia friendly regime is under intense pressure from the West and its Gulf allies.  Peculiarly, in Iraq Western invasion resulted in the installation of a Shia regime, but that was only one of the entirely unforeseen consequences of that most stupid of invasions, and the Western response is to try to split up the country and fuel multiple insurgencies.

Meantime the CIA have now got a controlled and pro-Israeli military dictatorship back in power in Egypt, while the extraordinary complicity of the mainstream media and entire political class in the United States has never been more evident than in the acceptance that the military coup will not be designated a military coup.  The manipulation of Western public opinion in the Syrian chemical weapons episode has, rarely, been too blatant to work.  But events in Turkey and Egypt have shown that western public opinion is easily manipulated by the “secularist” angle.  No matter how ugly political forces are – and in Turkey the Kemalists are very ugly – call them “secularist” and hide the rest, and you can attempt to topple elected governments in their favour with the full throated support of the media cheerleaders.

Last night’s vote in the Commons is welcome, but a blip.  It owes more to political tribalism than to principle.  Miliband and New Labour did not oppose military action, they merely wanted to be seen to be dictating the terms.  As neither Tories nor Labour were prepared to accept the other’s terms for military action, the anti war minority could combine with the tribalists of each to make sure everything got defeated.  Good but fortuitous.

The media are still in full war cry.  Ashdown has never been so ashamed, apparently.  He is not ashamed by extraordinary rendition and our torturing people.  He is not ashamed of our responsibility for the death of hundreds of thousands in Iraq, with 2,000 people a day still meeting terrible deaths.  He is ashamed that we don’t respond to the deaths of children by chemical weapons, we don’t really know at whose hands, by blasting to pieces a lot more children.  Well, Paddy, you are a merciless fool who thinks a spiral of death is the answer, and I have never been more ashamed that I was for most of my adult life a member of the Liberal Democrats.

Ashdown did say bitterly that there was now no point in having such large armed forces.  Hallelujah!  The danger to the establishment that people might realise that spending more on weapons systems than on hospitals is a poor choice, is one reason this is not over.  Much is at stake for the security state.  Expect a mounting barrage of propaganda on the need for action in Syria.  This is just the start.

 

 

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We Won’t Be Fooled Again

Having sat through 25 minutes of intensive propaganda for bombing Syria called the BBC Ten O’clock News – which did not feature a single interviewee against bombing – it was delightful to see them have to report at the end that the Commons has now rejected the Government’s motion to authorise military action.

 

It will, Nick Robinson quickly assured us, take a few days to work out what this vote means.  He means it will take a few days for those who profit from war to work out how to spin the vote against military action as a vote for military action.  That process will start in the next few minutes.

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Neo-Con Bloodlust Let Rip

If a country breaches an International Convention, that in no sense makes it legal in international law for other countries to bomb it.  Otherwise Britain should certainly be bombed for continual and flagrant breaches of the UN Convention against Torture in the context of extraordinary rendition, and for breaches of several international arms control treaties with regard to the planned acquisition of a new, enhanced, and ruinously expensive, Trident missile system.

Even if we accept that the Assad regime was responsible for chemical weapons attacks, that does not give a right to bomb Syria.  Why the lunatic bloodlusters all over our screens – including recycled Blairites who should be in jail –  think that blowing children to pieces ourselves is the correct response to horrible pictures of dead children, is something no TV journalist has had the guts to ask them.

Even the lunatic warmonger Blair felt the  need to bolster the almost non-existent legal arguments for the attack on Iraq with a claim, however ridiculous, that there was imminent danger of an attack by Iraq on British sovereign territory with WMD – in that case the British military bases on Cyprus.  Yet another reason, incidentally, that those colonial remnants must urgently be returned to the Cypriots.  If Britain had been in genuine imminent danger of attack, that would indeed have been a justification of some validity.  On Syria we have merely the claim that some civilians have been destroyed by chemicals; a terrible thing, but when hundreds of thousands have already been eviscerated by white hot metal, and horribly murdered by all side in this gruesome civil war, not the most logical of spurs to action against only one side in particular.

That the Assad regime was responsible for the chemical weapons attacks is perfectly possible but very,  very far from certain.  Particularly as those who claim to have the most certainty about it are precisely those who lied repeatedly about WMD.  That the Assad regime should risk this action now it is winning the war seems peculiar, to say the least.  But the truth is that even if it was Assad himself, nobody else has any legal right to intervene in this civil war without the express authority of the UN Security Council, and there is no possibility of that.

Many on the right are arguing that the Security Council is irrelevant, but we should not bomb anyway as we have no idea of the long term result.  That is true but still short sighted.  The same prudence should apply to the consequences of destroying international law and the authority of the UN.  To do that might seem smart to the neo-cons when the USA is the most powerful military force on earth and we in the UK are its sidekick.  But within my lifetime China will be the most powerful military force on earth.

The neo-cons may feel that destroying the idea of international restraint, in favour of might is right, is  to their advantage, but that is simply further proof of their quite extraordinary short sightedness and stupidity.

 

 

 

 

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