Russian spies likely intercepted ambassador’s cell phone call with Trump

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF CNN)

 

Russian spies likely intercepted ambassador’s cell phone call with Trump

Washington (CNN)US Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland’s cell phone call to President Donald Trump from a restaurant in Ukraine this summer appears to be a shocking security breach that raises significant counterintelligence concerns, according to several former officials, who told CNN there is a high probability that intelligence agencies from numerous foreign countries, including Russia, were listening in on the conversation.

“If true, the cell phone call between Ambassador Sondland and President Trump is an egregious violation of traditional counterintelligence practices that all national security officials — to include political appointee ambassadors such as Sondland — are repeatedly made aware of,” according to Marc Polymeropoulos, a former CIA officer who oversaw operations in Europe and Russia before retiring this summer.
“I cannot remember in my career any time where an ambassador in a high counterintelligence environment like Kiev would have such an unsecure conversation with a sitting president. This just should not happen,” he said.
Bill Taylor, the top US diplomat in Ukraine, revealed during the first public impeachment hearing Wednesday that a member of his staff, who was accompanying Sondland to meetings in Kiev, saw the ambassador call Trump from his cell phone and overheard the President asking about “the investigations.”
Taylor confirmed that he had come to understand the term “investigations” meant matters related to the 2016 election and to probes of Joe and Hunter Biden and Burisma.
“Ambassador Sondland told President Trump that the Ukrainians were ready to move forward,” Taylor told lawmakers.
The call occurred on July 26, according to Taylor — the day after Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that prompted a whistleblower complaint alleging Trump solicited “interference” from a foreign country to help his 2020 presidential campaign.
This new information could strengthen Democrats’ argument for impeachment that Trump engaged in an alleged quid pro quo but it also serves as another example of top US officials ignoring security protocols related to sensitive communications.
It remains unclear if Sondland’s cell phone was encrypted but US ambassadors do not typically have that type of protection on their mobile devices, according to current and former US government officials.
The State Department did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment on whether Sondland’s cell phone was outfitted with any sort of enhanced security.
Normally, a US ambassador talking to the President would do so from the embassy using a secure line, one former intelligence official told CNN. “Of all the communications, cell phones are even more vulnerable than non-secure landlines, which are way more vulnerable than secure communications facilities,” the former official said.
That lapse was only amplified by the fact that Sondland made the call in public, where it could have been easily overheard and in a foreign country that is already being targeted by foreign adversaries of the US, including Russia, current and former officials said.

‘Crazy for today’s age’

“Why a president is talking to an ambassador on a non-encrypted telephone is crazy for today’s age, and worse in public,” said Todd Carroll, a former FBI official who served as assistant special agent in charge of the cyber and counterintelligence branch.
“Ukraine is one of the most open areas for intelligence agencies to work in. Both sides. I was told when I was there in 2010 that expect all your calls to be monitored,” Carroll added.
The Russians, in particular, maintain a particularly large intelligence presence in Ukraine and are known to target the communications of US officials.
“There is little doubt that the Russians and perhaps multiple other foreign intelligence services would have intercepted this call. Moscow undoubtedly would have been pleased,” according to Polymeropoulos.
“This would offer the Russians some important validation that President Trump was in effect doing exactly what Moscow almost certainly was already aware of: that our President was inserting a serious wedge into ongoing US security assistance programs that Ukraine so desperately needed in their ongoing battle with Russia,” he added.
Fiona Hill, a former Russia aide on Trump’s National Security Council, testified in October that she had previously tried to get Sondland to stop using his personal cell phone for work.
“I mean, some of it was comical, but it was also, for me and for others, deeply concerning. And I actually went to our Intelligence Bureau and asked to have (redacted) sit down with him and explain that this was a counterintelligence risk, particularly giving out our personal phone numbers,” Hill told House investigators.
“All of those communications could have been ex-filtrated by the Russians very easily,” she said.
CNN has previously reported that Trump was using his personal cell phone to contact outside advisers, raising concerns that his calls were vulnerable to eavesdropping from foreign governments.
“All communications devices of all senior government officials are targeted by foreign governments. This is not new,” Bryan Cunningham, executive director of the Cyber security Policy and Research Institute at the University of California-Irvine, told CNN last year.
“What is new in the cell phone age is the ease of intercepting them,” Cunningham added. “Of course, calls are only secure if both parties use a secure device.”

Shin Bet thwarted over 450 terror attacks in 2019, chief says

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE TIMES OF ISRAEL NEWS OUTLET)

 

Shin Bet thwarted over 450 terror attacks in 2019, chief says

Head of the security service credits advanced technology with helping prevent attacks and allowing Israelis to live ‘full, comfortable lives’

Head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman attends the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset on November 6, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Head of the Shin Bet security service Nadav Argaman attends the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset on November 6, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The head of the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security and counterintelligence service, said Thursday that his organization had thwarted over 450 significant terror attacks in the previous year.

“In the past year, we have thwarted over 450 significant terror attacks, and we have allowed Israeli citizens to have full and comfortable lives in the day-to-day without knowing what’s going on underground,” Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman said.

Argaman credited these successes to specialized technologies used by the service, its cooperation with other Israeli security forces and its “synergy with our counterparts around the world.”

The Shin Bet chief made his remarks at the UVID International Conference and Exhibition on Unmanned Vehicles in Tel Aviv.

“Israeli technology and the [defense] industry are always close to us, close to our hearts. We purchase Israeli technologies before [buying] from anywhere else,” Argaman said.

“We are investing in very advanced technology,” he added.

In addition to an extensive network of informants and other conventional intelligence-gathering techniques, the Shin Bet has long been known to use advanced algorithms to scan social media and other databases for indications of terrorist activities.

Israeli security technology has come under fresh international criticism in recent weeks, following a report by the American NBC News last month on a Microsoft-funded startup that carries out surveillance on Palestinians in the West Bank on behalf of Israel.

Last year, the Shin Bet was credited with foiling some 500 terror attacks.

“You have thwarted 500 terror attacks this year,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at an awards ceremony at the Shin Bet’s northern Tel Aviv headquarters.

“That’s an incredible number. It means that hundreds of Israeli citizens owe you their lives. I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for continuing to shine this light, and for fighting each day with discretion, ingenuity, creativity and immense dedication,” the prime minister said at the time.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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Saudi: GCC Defense Ministers Assert Importance of Protecting Int’l Maritime Navigation

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

GCC Defense Ministers Assert Importance of Protecting Int’l Maritime Navigation

Thursday, 31 October, 2019 – 12:30
The 16th meeting of the joint defense council of the GCC defense ministers hosted by Oman in Muscat. (Saudi Ministry of Defense’s Twitter Account)
Muscat – Asharq Al-Awsat
Gulf defense ministers discussed regional developments and conflicts, and their effects and risks on the interests of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, stressing the importance of protecting freedom of international maritime navigation in the Arabian Gulf.

The ministers also discussed the impact of regional developments on the security and integral unity of the GCC countries and peoples.

Their statement came during the 16th meeting of the joint defense council of the GCC, hosted by Oman in Muscat. The meeting was chaired by Oman’s Defense Minister Sayyid Bader bin Saud al-Busaidi.

The ministers condemned the September attacks on Saudi Aramco oil facilities in Abqaiq and Khurais, asserting their support to Saudi Arabia and any measures taken to protect its sovereignty, stability, and interests.

GCC Secretary-General Abdullatif al-Zayani, who attended the meeting in Muscat, praised the operation carried out by US forces on Saturday in Syria’s Idlib province, which left ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and a number of extremists dead.

The ministers stated that Baghdadi’s death is an important step in eliminating the terrorist organization’s cells.

Zayani also lauded the preparedness of the GCC armed forces to defend their countries and peoples, vowing to further upgrade their defense plans. He also praised the cooperation between GCC armed forces and allied countries.

Saudi Arabia Bolsters Coordination with Horn of Africa to Secure Red Sea

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE SAUDI NEWS AGENCY ASHARQ AL-AWSAT)

 

Saudi Arabia Bolsters Coordination with Horn of Africa to Secure Red Sea

Thursday, 8 August, 2019 – 09:45
Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki receives Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz, commander of the Saudi-led coalition forces, in Asmara. (SPA)
Riyadh – Fatehelrahman Yousif
Lieutenant General Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Abdulaziz, commander of the Saudi-led coalition forces, discussed Tuesday with Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki the South Red Sea security and the fight against terrorism and smuggling in all its forms.

A number of issues of common concern were discussed during the Asmara meeting, especially threats against international shipping lanes, reported the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

The meeting was held less than a year after the Kingdom announced the launch of a regional bloc of seven Arab and African countries bordering the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden. It includes Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Yemen, Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia and Jordan.

The bloc aims at bolstering regional security and stability and securing navigation and international trade. It was established following a military exercise in Jeddah earlier this year.

“This meeting and the Saudi-Eritrean talks stem from Riyadh’s acknowledgment of the need to secure the Red Sea navigation and activate the bloc,” expert in Iranian affairs Dr. Mohammed al-Salmi told Asharq al-Awsat.

The Saudi approach stems from the potential it possesses to lead these countries and create a regional deterrent bloc that can secure navigation in the Red Sea and protect it from piracy and terrorist threats, he stressed.

Prince Fahd’s visit is an extension of this Saudi-led approach, he added, expecting a summit to be held by countries bordering the Red Sea to maximize joint action.

Salmi explained that the security of the Red Sea and international waterways is a global security and strategic joint task, highlighting the great political, security and military importance of the Red Sea to Saudi Arabia.

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats stepping down

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE JOURNAL TIMES)

 

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats stepping down, Trump tweets

  • Updated 
Trump nominates Rep. John Ratcliffe as new intel chief
CNN
Dan Coats will step down as the director of national intelligence on August 15, President Donald Trump announced in a tweet. Texas Republican Rep. John Ratcliffe will be nominated by the President to replace Coats.
Published at: 05:50 PM, Sun Jul 28 2019

WASHINGTON (AP) — Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is leaving his job next month, ending a two-year tenure marked by President Donald Trump’s clashes with intelligence officials.

Trump announced Coats’ departure on Aug. 15 in a tweet Sunday that thanked Coats for his service. He said he will nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas, to the post and that he will name an acting official in the coming days. Ratcliffe is a frequent Trump defender who fiercely questioned former special counsel Robert Mueller last week during a House Judiciary Committee hearing.

Coats often appeared out of step with Trump and disclosed to prosecutors how he was urged by the president to publicly deny any link between Russia and the Trump campaign. The frayed relationship reflected broader divisions between the president and the government’s intelligence agencies.

Coats’ public, and sometimes

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I am pleased to announce that highly respected Congressman John Ratcliffe of Texas will be nominated by me to be the Director of National Intelligence. A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves. Dan Coats, the current Director, will….

16.2K people are talking about this

personal, disagreements with Trump over policy and intelligence included Russian election interference and North Korean nuclear capabilities. Trump had long been skeptical of the nation’s intelligence community, which provoked his ire by concluding that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election with the goal of getting him elected.

A former Republican senator from Indiana, Coats was appointed director of National Intelligence in March 2017, becoming the fifth person to hold the post since it was created in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to oversee and coordinate the nation’s 17 intelligence agencies.

Coats had been among the last of the seasoned foreign policy hands brought to surround the president after his 2016 victory, of whom the president steadily grew tired as he gained more personal confidence in Oval Office, officials said. That roster included Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and later national security adviser H.R. McMaster.

Dan Coats
In this Aug. 2, 2018, file photo, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats listens during a daily press briefing at the White House in Washington. Coats is to resign in days, after a two-year tenure marked by President Donald Trump’s clashes with intelligence officials, U.S. officials said on Sunday, July 28, 2019. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, FIle)

Coats developed a reputation inside the administration for sober presentations to the president of intelligence conclusions that occasionally contradicted Trump’s policy aims.

His departure had been rumored for months, and intelligence officials had been expecting him to leave before the 2020 presidential campaign season reached its peak.

Trump’s announcement that Coats would be leaving came days after Mueller’s public testimony on his two-year investigation into Russian election interference and potential obstruction of justice by Trump, which officials said both emboldened and infuriated the president.

Coats had been among the least visible of the president’s senior administration officials but, in his limited public appearances, repeatedly seemed at odds with the administration, including about Russia.

For instance, he revealed to Mueller’s investigators how Trump, angry over investigations into links between his campaign and Russia, tried unsuccessfully in March 2017 to get him to make a public statement refuting any connection.

“Coats responded that the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) has nothing to do with investigations and it was not his role to make a public statement on the Russia investigation,” Mueller’s report said.

Trump later called Coats to complain about the investigation and how it was affecting the government’s foreign policy. Coats told prosecutors he responded that the best thing to do was to let the investigation take its course.

In February, he publicly cast doubt on the prospects of persuading North Korea to end its nuclear weapons program despite the diplomatic efforts of the administration, which has touted its outreach to the isolated country as one of its most important foreign policy achievements.

Coats, in testimony to Congress as part of annual national intelligence assessment, said North Korea would be “unlikely” to give up its nuclear weapons or its ability to produce them because “its leaders ultimately view nuclear weapons as critical to regime survival.”

Trump publicly bristled at the testimony of Coats, the head of the CIA and other officials who contradicted his own positions on Iran, Afghanistan and the Islamic State group as well as North Korea. The intelligence officials were “passive and naive,” he said in a tweet.

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Last July, Coats and the president appeared at odds following Trump’s widely panned news conference in Helsinki alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump said he saw no reason to believe Russia had interfered in the 2016 election, drawing bipartisan criticism and a rebuttal from his intelligence chief.

“We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security,” Coats said.

The president later said he misspoke in Helsinki.

John Ratcliffe
In this Wednesday, July 24, 2019, file photo, Rep. John Ratcliffe, R-Texas., questions former special counsel Robert Mueller as he testifies before the House Intelligence Committee hearing on his report on Russian election interference, on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that the nation’s top intelligence official would step aside on Aug. 15, and that he would nominate Rep. John Ratcliffe to the post, following a report Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats is leaving his job next month. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File)

That same month, Coats appeared to scoff when told in an interview that Trump had invited Putin to Washington.

“Say that again,” Coats said, cupping his hand over his ear on live television. He took a deep breath and continued: “OK. That’s going to be special.”

He later said his comments at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado were “in no way meant to be disrespectful or criticize the actions of the president.”

In December, Coats said he was “deeply saddened” when Mattis resigned in protest of Trump’s foreign policy, including the decision to withdraw American troops from Syria. Coats called Mattis a “national treasure” who “will be sorely missed.”

Coats, 76, served in Congress from 1981 to 1999 as a member of the House and in the Senate. He served as ambassador to Germany from 2001 to 2005 and returned to the Senate in 2011. He decided not to seek re-election and retired from Congress in January 2017.

In a tweet, Trump praised Ratcliffe: “A former U.S. Attorney, John will lead and inspire greatness for the Country he loves.”

India: ‘NRC important for a foreigner-free state’

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE HINDUSTAN TIMES OF INDIA)

 

‘NRC important for a foreigner-free state’: Sarbananda Sonowal

20th Kargil Vijay Diwas: “Assam’s people want the NRC to be error-free and have no place for infiltrators. Our government pledged to build a foreigner free Assam,” said chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

INDIA Updated: Jul 26, 2019 09:13 IST

Sadiq Naqvi
Sadiq Naqvi
Hindustan Times
Sarbananda Sonowal,Sadiq Naqvi,flood and erosion
Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.(PTI)

Tens of thousands of people have been displaced and over 70 people have died as heavy rain has triggered floods in Assam. Assam chief minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, spoke to Sadiq Naqvi about the flood situation and the steps his government is taking to tackle it. Edited excerpts:

How bad is the situation and what are the challenges you are facing in dealing with it?

The flood and erosion problems have been there in Assam for almost 70 years…The biggest challenge now is to provide adequate relief, medical checkups, and fodder for livestock. Standing by each and every affected person and to provide relief is our primary duty… Earlier, during the Congress’s rule, the relief distribution was not managed properly and the affected people would not get it at the right time. Many middlemen would siphon off the relief and lots of scams would happen… Over the last three years, the relief management system has become more efficient and its quality has improved.

Could you give us an example?

Earlier, the families [of those who died in floods] would not get ex gratia from the government and they would end up struggling and going from one office to other. We ordered that within 48 hours, deputy commissioners would visit houses of flood victims and hand over the ex gratia payments. So far, 71 persons [as on Wednesday] have died. Their families have been given Rs 4 lakh ex gratia payment each within 48 hours.

What has been the estimated loss so far?

We cannot estimate it at the moment. Roads, bridges, culverts, houses, farms, crops have been damaged. Government schools and health centres have been hit. Tremendous damage has happened. But to get specific information about the damage, we will have to do spot verifications. We have ordered every department to collect the information… once the information comes, we will send it to the Centre.

Assam has suffered floods for years. Has the state government received adequate funds from the Centre apart from the yearly State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF)?

In 2017, the Centre allocated Rs 2,000 crore for the Northeast. Assam received Rs 1,200 crore out of it. This was a special fund for infrastructure. Prime Minister [Narendra Modi] visited [the region] and met five chief ministers separately. A committee was formed under the leadership of [government think tank] NITI Aayog’s vice-chairman [Rajiv Kumar] to provide a permanent solution to problems of erosion, floods and landslides in Assam and the Northeast… A Northeast Water Management Authority has been proposed. Through the [Union] jal shakti ministry, steps will be taken to implement the proposal. Nobody gave so much attention to this issue as Prime Minister Modi has. Modi released Rs 251 crore from the SDRF and sent the jal shakti minister [Gajendra Singh Shekhawat] who came and reviewed the flood situation…Both Modi and home minister, Amit Shah, have taken note of the situation here. So we are not having any difficulty in managing it…

Does the state need a special package?

We get it every year. It will be given this year as well. The prime minister has assured us that there is nothing to worry and whatever assistance Assam needs, the Centre will provide it.

Many officials are involved in updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC). Has it impacted the relief work?

Over the last three years, 55,000 of our employees have been involved in the NRC exercise… If 55,000 out of 5 lakh [employees] are engaged only in one work, then you can imagine the kind of challenge the government has had to face in implementing its schemes. But we have not taken a step back and have succeeded in implementing them.

Do you think NRC work could have been suspended to put more officials on flood relief duty.?

In the times of any calamity, our first duty should be to provide relief to people… This is a people’s democracy — of the people, by the people, for the people. For the sake of humanity, standing by the flood-affected people is our biggest duty. On this issue, there should be no compromise in any situation. If we do not stand by the flood-affected people, it will be a big sin, an injustice, a violation of their human rights.

The state government has been demanding verification of the NRC. Are you not satisfied with how the exercise has progressed?

A verification is important. Such a massive constitutional document is going to be brought out for the first time. The document is about the security and identity of the bona fide Indian citizens. It is a question also of the country’s unity and sovereignty. Identification and detection of illegal immigrants has to be done through the NRC… Assam’s people want the NRC to be error-free and have no place for infiltrators. Our government pledged to build a foreigner free Assam. For that a foreigner free NRC is important.

.

First Published: Jul 25, 2019 23:49 IST

Give Me Soft Targets And I’ll Kill you all!

Give Me Soft Targets And I’ll Kill you all!

 

This title is for two purposes, to get your attention and to try to get people to actually think a little bit. I had just finished my supper and had sat down to write a poem for this blog but I got distracted by the news of a mass shooting in southern California so I decided to write this first. I am also writing this letter to you today so as to make sure to everyone exactly how I feel on the issue of firearms. I am a person that when I do go out of the house I very often carry a 45 Ruger (concealed) everywhere I go. When I go into a store around here I know that plenty of folks are carrying a sidearm also. If I go into a store or business of any kind I know that if I chose to act the part of a fool and pull my sidearm that most likely several people around me would shoot me dead, as they should. The management of businesses also know that the people like me who carry are actually extra security for their business and for their employees and they don’t even have to pay for the protection. It is the same for when people go to a House of Worship, if there are let’s say, 200 people in the building probably at least 20 are carrying a firearm. Because of the Constitutional right that we all have to protect ourselves we then become not such a ‘soft’ target.

 

Cowards love soft targets and the reason is simple, they want to cause as much death as possible without getting shot themselves. If a person goes into a ‘soft target’ like a synagogue they are not expecting to be shot at, they want to be the only one with a gun so that they can continue to kill people until they run out of bullets. Today at the Chabad Synagogue in Poway California a 19-year-old man walked into the Passover Service and started shooting, he shot four people killing only one even though he was using (reportedly) a semi auto AR-15 assault rifle. There is only one reason there are not many more dead people this evening and that was because there was a member of the Congregation, a Border Patrol Agent there WITH HIS FIREARM. This agent shot at the murderer (missing him) and the coward fled. Having a gun in the building saved many lives today.

 

Here in the U.S. the Democratic Party Platform has for years been trying to make every law-abiding citizen an easy kill for every lunatic, A-hole, hate filled soul as well as for all the terrorist. Also remember that not all police officers or all military personal are honest decent people either, this is why the framers of the Constitution insisted that the people have a way to defend themselves from a tyranny filled government. Have you ever noticed that the people who scream the loudest about ‘gun control’ like Hillary Clinton have multiple guns protecting her and Bill at all times. That is called hypocrites folks. These same people who do not want the U.S. building walls have themselves built high walls around themselves and their homes. Terrorists in this country have always chosen soft targets to do their evil, places like Churches, synagogues, and schools. The day will come where terrorists, domestic and foreign will start mass bombings and shootings here on our soil against police agencies and government agencies as well as against the politicians. If people like Hillary had any sense they would advocate for good background checks and for the citizens to be able to protect themselves. That is what honest politicians would do, ones who trusted their own citizens, but then again, that statement does say it all. You notice I did say ‘honest politicians’ whom actually trust their own citizens!

Did NATO Cause the Crisis in Libya?

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘POLYGRAPH.INFO’)

                 (YES)

Did NATO Cause the Crisis in Libya?


LIBYA -- Libyan National Army (LNA) members, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, head out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, April 7, 2019
LIBYA — Libyan National Army (LNA) members, commanded by Khalifa Haftar, head out of Benghazi to reinforce the troops advancing to Tripoli, in Benghazi, April 7, 2019
Sergey Lavrov

Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister

“The reason for the Libyan crisis lies in NATO’s actions in 2011. Precisely since that time, Libya has turned into a failed state and a ’black hole,’ through which terrorists, the smuggling of weapons, go south, and to the north – flows of illegal migrants.”

MISLEADING

The ongoing crisis in Libya was the reason for NATO intervention

Commenting on latest escalation of fighting in Bengazi, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused NATO of causing the crisis, claiming Libya’s problems with terrorism, weapons smuggling and illegal immigration began “precisely” after the NATO intervention in 2011.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

Russia in USA 🇷🇺

@RusEmbUSA

The cause of the Libyan crisis lies in ’s actions in 2011. Since then, has become a destroyed state and a ‘black hole’ for terrorists, arms trafficking and illegal migrant flows –

▶️ https://www.facebook.com/RusEmbUSA/photos/a.493759737501088/995742573969466/ 

100 people are talking about this

Opinions about the effect of NATO’s seven-month operation in Libya vary from praising the intervention as “highly successful” to condemning it as a “catastrophic failure.”

RT

@RT_com

US & NATO will always share blame for ’s re-descent into chaos

(Op-Ed by Darius Shahtahmasebi)https://on.rt.com/9rul 

28 people are talking about this

Yet, even the harshest critics agree NATO’s involvement in Libya did not cause that country’s deterioration: it was already in a civil war, with the UN and Arab League warning the regime could commit mass atrocities amid Muammar Gaddafi’s vows to “cleanse Libya.”

Mona Eltahawy

@monaeltahawy

In 1996, I was a Reuters correspondent in . I went to to cover the 27th anniversary of the “Green Revolution.”I don’t have access to the Reuters articles I wrote from but here are some opeds I’ve written about Gaddafi the dictator and the hypocrisy of the West

Mona Eltahawy

@monaeltahawy

’s quirks should never have distracted from his abysmal human rights record. Arbitrary arrests, a muzzled press, a ban on political parties and the squandering of ‘s oil wealth have never been laughing matters for Libyans. https://www.washingtonpost.com/archive/opinions/2004/07/13/warming-up-to-a-dictator/5500a4a1-1cdb-49aa-adaa-0d6d5e3a2c94/?utm_term=.27787bb19427 

Warming Up to a Dictator

washingtonpost.com

See Mona Eltahawy’s other Tweets

Thus, Lavrov’s claim that NATO caused Libya’s crisis is misleading.

The legal basis for NATO’s intervention is also in dispute.

The United Nations University (UNU) wrote in a 2011 analysis: “Whenever States decide to use force against another State, whether individually or as a group, the first question that arises is whether such an action is pursuant to the right of self-defense (Article 51 UN Charter) or is one authorized by the Security Council. In the case of Libya, Article 51 does not apply, as Libya had not attacked any NATO member State. It therefore follows that only an authorization by the Security Council could provide a sound legal basis for any military action against Libya and keep NATO action from being in violation of UN Article 2(4). The question is: Was NATO action in Libya authorized?”

UN Security Council Resolution 1973 of March 11, 2011 created a no-fly zone over the whole of Libya. This was done in order to help protect civilians. The Security Council called on “Member States that have notified the Secretary-General and the Secretary General of the League of Arab States, acting nationally or through regional organizations or arrangements, to take all necessary means to enforce compliance with the ban on flights imposed by paragraph 6.”

The UNU analysis noted: “Thus far, NATO could not have legally responded to the Security Council’s mandate issued to ‘regional organizations and arrangements’ in Resolution 1973 because, by virtue of its own treaty, the alliance is neither such an organization, nor one that could be held bound by either Article 53 or Article 54 of the UN Charter. And since NATO acted in Libya collectively, in contradistinction from acting nationally, the latter caveat in the mandate does not save NATO from being in violation.”

The UNU analysis concluded that the Libya operation revealed a “gap between the law –­ UN Chapter VIII provisions — and NATO’s increasing policy of responding to Security Council resolutions and the Security Council’s silent reception of NATO’s generosity. It would be disingenuous, to say the least, to argue that NATO should not assist in implementing Security Council resolutions just because the alliance is not one of the organizations that could adhere themselves to the enabling mandates with any legal exactitude.”

NATOSource@NATOSource

Libyan military leader order his troops to take Tripoli from backed government. remains ‘s unfinished business in North Africa. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-libya-security/eastern-libyan-commander-orders-his-troops-to-move-on-tripoli-video-idUSKCN1RG0RT 

See NATO Source’s other Tweets

Critics argue that NATO wrapped up Operation Unified Protector and left Libya when the country was still in a state of political chaos. In reality, NATO followed the UN Security Council’s resolution ending international military operations in Libya on October 31, 2011.

Why Trump’s Golan Heights move should worry India and Taiwan

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF ‘QUARTZ NEWS’)

 

AP PHOTO/SUSAN WALSH
United Nations who?
NOT THE WORLD’S COP

Why Trump’s Golan Heights move should worry India and Taiwan

By Heather Timmons

Donald Trump signed a proclamation today (March 25) recognizing the Golan Heights as part of Israel, overturning 50 years of US precedent and defying international law on sovereign borders.

That means that the world’s most powerful military has decided to support Israel’s 1967 occupation and 1981 annexation of a region that the rest of the world and the United Nations recognize as belonging to Syria. “Aggressive acts by Iran and terrorist groups, including Hizballah, in southern Syria continue to make the Golan Heights a potential launching ground for attacks on Israel,” Trump said, explaining the move.

By ignoring the United Nations charter pledge to refrain from “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” Trump is putting the future of other long-disputed territory in jeopardy, foreign policy experts say. “It sets a terrible precedent,” said Edward Goldberg, a professor with New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. “If the US doesn’t recognize international law as the ‘cop,’ then who does?,” he said.

“What if China goes into Taiwan tomorrow, isn’t that the same thing?,” Goldberg said, “or Pakistan into Kashmir?”

Beijing considers Taiwan part of China, despite the fact that the island nation has an indigenous population, is self-governing, and has conducted independent democratic elections since the 1990s. Most other democracies around the world don’t recognize Taiwan as an independent country, in deference to China, and it is barred from the United Nations. While the United States has recently partnered with Taiwan officials to fight intellectual property theft, this January Chinese president Xi Jinping warned that Beijing could retake the island by force.

The Kashmir region between India and Pakistan has been disputed for more than 70 years, a legacy of the Partition that accompanied Britain’s withdrawal from India in 1947. Tensions rose in the volatile region in recent weeks, after India conducted a “pre-emptive strike” in Pakistan-controlled territory, and Pakistan captured an Indian fighter pilot. The mostly Muslim residents of the India-administered Kashmir Valley view the national government as an occupying force, and Pakistan officials support their self-government.

So far there are no signs that the Trump administration is interested in inserting itself into the long-simmering Pakistan-India dispute. However, the US Navy has increased its presence in the Taiwan Strait, most recently on March 24, responding to Beijing’s circling of the island in recent drills.

Trump made the unprecedented Golan Heights decision in a bid to boost prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu ahead of national elections April 9. Netanyahu has been charged in several corruption cases, although he still maintains an edge in polls. He applauded as Trump signed the proclamation, while secretary of state Mike Pompeo and vice president Mike Pence looked on:

Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and the United Nations immediately condemned Trump’s proclamation, and the UN declared Israel’s annexation of the area “null and void.” As president, Trump has pulled the US out of international agreements, including the Paris Climate Accord and the TransPacific Partnership, but the Golan Heights decision is being specifically criticized as breaking international law.

Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF POLYGRAPH.INFO)

 

Kremlin: U.S. Must ‘Babysit’ Poroshenko After Funding Ukrainian Revolution


Ukraine - the first day after "victory" at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Ukraine – the first day after “victory” at the Maidan in Kyiv, 23Feb2014
Dmitry Peskov

Dmitry Peskov

Russian presidential spokesman

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money.”

FALSE

Claim that U.S. funded “coup” in Ukraine long-since disproven

On Thursday December 20, Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told theTASS news agency that the upcoming presidential election in Ukraine, set for March 31, 2019, is further straining bilateral relations with Russia.

“[Ukrainian President Petro] Poroshenko has to win electoral support by all means, because the approval of him is low compared to the rivals who have overtaken him in the electoral rating. And this is exactly what he is doing, and this is clearly visible to us all,” Peskov said.

Peskov said that despite Poroshenko’s “relatively weak electoral positions,” the United States was stuck “babysitting” him on account of the sunk cost fallacy.

“Too much money was invested into Ukraine, too much money was poured into the coup in Ukraine, and justifying this coup also requires too much money,” Peskov said.

Kremlin officials and the state media in Russia label the popular pro-EU uprising in Ukraine a “coup” when in reality the movement was civilian in nature and involved no military support.

Claiming Washington is waiting for its investment in Ukraine to “yield dividends,” Peskov said the U.S. “did not quite succeed” and now needs to do its best “to save the situation.”

“Washington has to support Poroshenko and turn a blind eye to the real situation, which is exactly what it is doing now,” he said.

Tensions between Russia and Ukraine flared following a November 25 incident, in which three Ukrainian ships attempting to transit through the Kerch Strait in the Sea of Azov were fired on and then captured by Russian vessels.

Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts
Tweets by the Russian foreign ministry accounts

The following day, martial law was introduced in Ukraine for 30 days in the 10 regions that would be on the front lines of a military conflict with Russia.

Russian media and officials have argued that Poroshenko provoked the incident in the Sea of Azov as a pretext to introduce martial law and buoy his electoral prospects.

No media source currently available

0:001:230:43

During his annual year-end press conference, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Poroshenko had sent Ukrainian servicemen to die in the Sea of Azov to provoke Russia and boost his approval ratings.

The Russian Foreign Ministry has gone so far as to claim that Kyiv is planning a chemical weapons attack in Ukraine’s war-torn east.

Peskov’s claim that the U.S. funded the “coup” in Ukraine is false.

While not stated explicitly, his comment is likely based on a claim promulgated by Russian state media that the U.S. invested $5 billion in the Ukrainian uprising.

Politifact reported the claim stems from a December 2013 speech by then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland to the U.S.-Ukraine Foundation, a non-governmental agency promoting democracy in Ukraine.

In that speech, Nuland said that the United States had invested over $5 billion since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 to help the country “build democratic skills and institutions” so it can “achieve its European aspirations.”

As Brian Bohm noted in the Moscow Times in May 2014: “U.S. law prohibits the funding of opposition leaders and movements, and there have been no violations of this law in Ukraine.”

Since the annexation of Crimea and Russian-backed war erupted in Ukraine in 2014, the U.S. has provided Ukraine with more than $1 billion in security assistance.

In July, the Pentagon told CNN it had released $200 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

In March, the U.S. State Department formally approved the sale of 210 Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and 37 launchers for an estimated cost of $47 million. That was the first time lethal military aid to Kyiv has been approved.

Citing the U.S. Congressional Research Service (CRS), the Council on Foreign Relations said the U.S. had spent $49 billion on foreign aid in 2016, around 1.2 percent of the federal budget. That included security and military assistance.

USAID, which put total U.S. obligations at $50 billion that year, said $513 million, or roughly 1% of the total, had gone to Ukraine.

The idea that U.S. support for Ukraine is based strictly on a need to “recoup an investment” and not on broader security issues in the region does not appear to be supported by the data.

As for Peskov’s argument that the U.S. funded the 2014 revolution in Ukraine, Polygraph.info finds that claim to be false.

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