Aletho News

Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 11:42 pm

1. EU criminalizes sanctions busting by member states


RT | April 12, 2024

The Council of the European Union adopted a law on Friday that criminalizes the violation and circumvention of EU sanctions.

According to a press release published on the council's website, the law covers bloc-wide minimum rules for the prosecution of sanctions evasion.

"Certain actions will now be considered criminal offences in all member states, for example helping to bypass a travel ban, trading in sanctioned goods or performing prohibited financial activities," the statement reads. Inciting, aiding and abetting these offences can also incur penalties.

According to the report, the directive will enter into force on the 20th day following publication in the Official Journal of the EU. Member states will have 12 months to incorporate the provisions into national legislation.

The European Commission proposed the directive in December 2022 in order to limit sanctions circumvention and tighten enforcement. The press release noted that the EU has adopted an "unprecedented number of restrictive measures" against Russia over the Ukraine conflict.

In February, Brussels adopted its 13th package of sanctions against Moscow ahead of the second anniversary of the beginning of the Ukraine conflict. The new sanctions restrict trade in dual-use goods, as well as technologies and electronic components that could be used by Russia's defense industry.

The previous measures target a broad range of sectors and include trade embargoes, travel bans, and individual sanctions against Russian businessmen and public officials.

Many reports have indicated that EU sanctions on Russia are being "massively circumvented" via third countries. Nations friendly to Russia have reportedly been re-exporting high-priority items to the country.

Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 10:43 pm

2. Western leaders reveal their total contempt for Palestinian lives


By Dimitri Lascaris | April 11, 2024

Six months into Israel's genocide, Western leaders continue to issue statements that reveal their total contempt for Palestinian lives.

The Prime Ministers of Canada and France have just issued a joint statement.

In it, they declare that they "unequivocally condemn" Russia's "ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine".

They also claim to be "extremely concerned" about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and "the appalling situation of the civilian population."

They "condemn" the strike that resulted in the deaths of several World Central Kitchen workers, including a Canadian citizen, and "emphasize Israel's obligation, under international humanitarian law, to allow and facilitate the unfettered access of humanitarian aid to Gaza and to protect humanitarian workers and the civilian population."

Also, "in the strongest possible terms", they "condemn" the terrorist attacks carried out by Hamas against Israel on October 7 and "call for the immediate, unconditional release of all hostages."

So let's get this straight.

In six months, Israel has killed more than three times as many civilians in Gaza as have died in more than two years of war in Ukraine.

And yet, the French and Canadian Prime Ministers still can't bring themselves to "condemn" Israel's mass murder of Palestinian civilians, including nearly 14,000 Palestinian children.

With respect to Israel's crimes, they use the word "condemn" only once, but they apply it not to Israel's slaughter of Palestinian civilians. Rather, they apply it to Israel's massacre of aid workers who *came from Western countries*.

It is now beyond obvious that Western 'leaders' attach little to no value to the lives of Palestinians. These people are anti-Palestinians racists masquerading as champions of human rights.

@dimitrilascaris
Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 10:35 pm

3. US has ‘no viable plan’ for Ukraine – senator


RT | April 12, 2024

Kiev cannot win against Moscow because it has run out of men and needs more weapons and ammunition than Washington could possibly provide, US Senator J.D. Vance said on Friday.

Earlier this week, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer argued that "the biggest reason Ukraine is losing the war is because the hard-right in the Congress has paralyzed the US from acting." The New York Democrat claimed that a small group of Republicans have been holding up a vital $60 billion aid package for Kiev.

In an op-ed published by the New York Times, Vance addressed Schumer's claim and accused President Joe Biden of having "failed to articulate even basic facts" about what Ukraine needs and the reality on the ground.

"The Biden administration has no viable plan for the Ukrainians to win this war," Vance argued.

"Ukraine's challenge is not the GOP; it's math," the Ohio Republican wrote. "Ukraine needs more soldiers than it can field, even with draconian conscription policies. And it needs more matériel than the United States can provide."

Not only is $60 billion a fraction of what Ukraine would need to turn the tide, Americans "lack the capacity to manufacture the amount of weapons Ukraine needs us to supply to win the war," Vance argued.

He pointed to the fact that the US can make 360,000 shells for 155mm artillery per year, "less than a tenth of what Ukraine says it needs," and that's after doubling prewar production capacity.

Vance also took aim at the White House's messaging that funding Kiev is good for US military industry.

"The notion that we should prolong a bloody and gruesome war because it's been good for American business is grotesque. We can and should rebuild our industrial base without shipping its products to a foreign conflict," he wrote.

The US insistence on not negotiating with Russia is "absurd" and Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky's goal of restoring Ukraine's 1991 borders is "fantastical," Vance added. He urged Kiev to dig in and hold until some kind of peace can be brokered by Washington.

Earlier this week, however, Zelensky said Ukraine was planning yet another counteroffensive – after the costly failure of last summer's operation – but needed even more weapons and ammunition from the West.

Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 9:24 pm

4. ‘Silencing a witness to genocide’: Germany detains Gaza war surgeon


Press TV – April 12, 2024

Germany has detained Palestinian surgeon Ghassan Abu Sittah who was invited to attend a Palestinian conference in the capital Berlin.

Abu Sittah took to X on Friday, saying that he was being held at a Berlin airport and would not be able to attend the conference, to which he was invited to speak "about my work in Gaza hospitals."

"The German government has forcibly prevented me from entering the country."

Abu Sittah was set to address 'The Palestine Conference. We will put you on trial,' that was due to start at noon, with over 800 tickets sold.

German police, however, said only 250 people would be allowed to attend.

"Silencing a witness to genocide before the ICJ adds to Germany's complicity in the ongoing massacre," said Abu Sittah, referring to a legal case filed against Germany over its arms supplies to Israel.

Abu Sittah, also a British citizen, returned to Gaza immediately after Israel started its relentless bombardment of the besieged territory in October.

The surgeon became one of the most high-profile and respected medical professionals who highlighted the devastating medical shortages faced by doctors in hospitals across the Gaza Strip.

Speaking to media about the challenges, he once said that doctors resorted to vinegar and other household items to conduct surgery.

After more than six relentless months of Israel's bombardment, full-scale ground offensive and blockade on fuel, water, and humanitarian aid, the Gaza Strip has been turned into an uninhabitable place that lacks the most basic components of life and basic medical services.

The Israeli attacks have killed at least 33,634 Palestinians and injured 76,214 more, mostly women and children, since October 7.

Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 9:01 pm

5. War and Peace in an Ocean of Lies


Does anyone in Washington care about Israel's crimes?

BY PHILIP GIRALDI • UNZ REVIEW  • APRIL 11, 2024

One expects that anyone involved in politics will lie whenever they think they can get away with it to burnish one's own image and while also distorting reality to promote policies that are being favored. Nevertheless, the record of high crimes committed by a series of presidents and their top aides since the so-called "war on terror" began has established a new low for government veracity. One would have thought that the fake intelligence fabricated by a group of Zionists in the Pentagon and White House to launch the misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq would be as bad as it could possibly get, but the Joe Biden team has outdone even those unfortunately unindicted criminals by allowing itself to be maneuvered by friends in NATO and by Israel into situations that are one step short of nuclear war.

Listening to John Kirby, Lloyd Austin, and Linda Thomas-Greenfield speak suggests that a course of remedial English might be in order as they cannot articulate a sentence that is coherent, especially as they are frequently lying or being deliberately evasive. And then there is teleprompter Joe himself who can pout over the killing of 13,000 children in Palestine while also secretly sending weapons to the Israelis who are eager to slaughter still more based on the judgement that they will grow up to be "terrorists." Joe's idea of a exchange of views with the Israeli government is a threat to maybe do something unspecific followed by a strongly worded message from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu telling him to "Go to hell!"

Joe's gang cannot confirm that the Israelis are committing war crimes linked to genocide even though the rest of the world, including a majority of Americans, watch it happening on television and are convinced regarding what is taking place. But hey, Israel is a wonderful little democracy and America's best friend and ally in the whole wide world. Or at least that is what Congress and the White House as well as the Jewish dominated media want you to believe. In reality, Israel is a racist and sectarian state that has been a US liability since it was founded, something that Secretary of State George Marshall warned about, but Harry Truman wanted Jewish money so he could get reelected. Some things never change as we watch Biden and Trump battle for the shekels by pledging their loyalty to Israel.

The latest wrinkle on the consequences of loving Israel so much comes with what is going on with Iran, which had its Embassy Consulate General building in Damascus Syria attacked by Israeli fighter planes, killing two senior Iranian generals plus a number of other Iranians, Lebanese and Syrians. For what it's worth, embassies and consulates are generally speaking regarded as untouchable military targets under the terms of the Vienna Convention, which sought to keep enemies talking to each other even under the most adverse circumstances. In fact, Syria last fought Israel in 1973, more than fifty years ago, and has not gone to war with the Israelis since that time while Israel has been bombing Syria regularly as well as killing Iranian officials and scientists for many years. Iran, like Syria of late, has never attacked Israel.

Iran has said it will retaliate and Israel has gone on high alert. So what does Biden do? He warned Iran to back off and ignores the fact that it was Israel that did the unprovoked attacking and started the whole business and pledges "ironclad" support for the Jewish state if Iran dares to do anything serious in response. There are also reports that Israel and the US are planning jointly their possible retaliation if Iran were to strike. General Erik Kurilla, commander of the US Central Command, is now on his way to Israel and is expected to meet Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and senior Israel Defense Forces officials to coordinate possible US responses with those of Israel. Nota bene that President Biden has flipped the right or wrong of the entire affair over to do exactly what Israel wants, i.e. hopefully have the US go to war with the Iranians. This has been Netanyahu's intention right from the beginning and there is also a bit of blackmail thrown in for good measure with Israel threatening to start using its secret nuclear arsenal if the United States stops supplying the Jewish state with weapons. Israeli Knesset member Nissim Vaturi, a representative in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's ruling Likud party, issued the threat in an unsubtle way while discussing the probability that Iran would retaliate against Israel for bombing its embassy. He said "In the event of a conflict with Iran, if we do not receive American ammunition … we will have to use everything we have." In other words, Israel will have no choice but to start dropping nuclear weapons on its enemies and might also attack its friends who failed to support it, a reference to the Samson Option in which a beleaguered Israel would use its nukes to "take everyone down with them."

The timing of the embassy attack suggests that Israel is acting as it does, i.e. taking steps to shift the narrative and restore its perpetual "victimhood," because it definitely needs a public relations boost in a world where only the US and a few other nations aligned with Washington are not yet ready to give up on Bibi and his wild plans for regional domination. The horrific killing of hundreds of Palestinians in the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza as well as the targeted assassination of seven employees of a charity that was bringing in food to those starving due to Israel's blocking the entry of relief supplies have been the top stories all over the world, and rightly so. The Israeli disdain for any behavior that might show weakness in the drive to remove the Palestinians from Palestine has resulted in the Jewish state's being condemned and boycotted by much of the world with more to come.

Nevertheless, even in those countries that have made illegal pro-Palestinian expressions, demonstrations calling for a ceasefire have attracted hundreds of thousands of protesters. The governments confronting elections later this year, including the US and Germany, are under considerable pressure to respond to the popular sentiment. Indeed, it is already being mooted that President Joe Biden might well fail to be re-elected due to his kid gloves handling of Netanyahu who has assessed Biden's weakness and has heedlessly taken US support as a given while also ignoring the warnings that are now coming out of Washington and elsewhere over the genocide taking place.

Indeed, it would be useful to speculate that the conflict in Gaza is in part being used as a smokescreen for developments with Iran and other Israeli neighbors that may prove more dangerous in the long run. Even the well-informed might be surprised to learn that even though Israel is not actually at war legally with several of its neighbors, it is nevertheless de facto at war with three countries, Lebanon, Syria and Iran. It has been exchanging fire with the Lebanese Hezbollah militias on its northern border on an almost daily basis since fighting with Hamas began in October and has sought and apparently obtained US guarantees of direct support should Hezbollah escalate its activity. In Syria, which has not in any way attacked Israel, the Israeli air and missile forces have staged numerous attacks against targets that it invariably claims to be "Iranian" even though most of the casualties are Syrians. There have been missile and bombing attacks on Syria nearly weekly since 2017, including a number of recent incidents involving both Damascus and Aleppo international airports that endangered civilian passengers and air crews.

As reported above, the most recent and most damaging attack was directed against the Iranian Consulate General, which was attached to the Iranian Embassy located in an upscale neighborhood in Damascus, Syria's capital. The building was completely destroyed by six missiles fired from F-35 fighter planes that had crossed over the Syrian border from Israel, killing several long-serving diplomats alongside Brigadier General Mohammad Reza Zahedi and Zahedi's deputy, General Haji Rahimi. It was also reported that Brigadier General Hossein Amirollah, the chief of general staff for the al-Quds force in Syria and Lebanon, was among the victims as was at least one Hezbollah member. Sources in Syria confirmed that a total of 13 people were killed in the attack, including six Syrians. Iran's foreign minister, Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, said afterwards that "We consider this aggression to have violated all diplomatic norms and international treaties. Benjamin Netanyahu has completely lost his mental balance due to the successive failures in Gaza and his failure to achieve his Zionist goals." Both Iran and Hezbollah vowed revenge.

And just days before the attack on the Iranian consulate in Damascus, the Israeli military had launched massive strikes against a target in Syria's northern province of Aleppo which killed at least 40 people, most of them soldiers. The air strikes hit a weapons depot, resulting in a series of explosions that also killed six Hezbollah fighters.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) subsequently revealed that it had strengthened air defenses and called up reservists in expectation of a response either from Lebanon or directly from Iran itself. Zahedi was an important Iranian official, reportedly responsible for the IRGC's operations in Syria and Lebanon, for Iranian militias there, and for ties with Hezbollah, and was thus the most senior commander of Iranian forces in the two countries. His killing was the most significant death of a senior Iranian official since the murder in Baghdad of General Qassim Soleimani by the Trump Administration in January 2020. As the IRGC is a US-designated terrorist organization, Washington may have in advance approved of the Israeli action, though that was denied by the Pentagon.

Iran's possible reprisal includes the capability to respond by directly launching missiles from its own territory rather than via any of its proxy groups, which include the militias it supports in Lebanon, Iraq and Yemen. Responding to that possibility, Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs Israel Katz has warned on social media that if Tehran attacked from its territory, Israel would react and "attack in Iran." Iran may therefore choose to respond indirectly or through a proxy, but any major reprisal would be giving Israel an excuse to elevate the conflict, which just might be the main reason for the attack on the Consulate General in the first place. It is, however, widely believed that the Iranian leadership is eager to avoid any escalation into a major or even a minor exchange that could be referred to as a war. Nevertheless, posters have gone up around Tehran in a sign of public pressure for an Iranian response. "The defeat of the Zionist regime in Gaza will continue and this regime will be close to decline and dissolution," Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech to the country's officials in Tehran. "Desperate efforts like the one they committed in Syria will not save them from defeat. Of course, they will also be slapped for that action," he added.

Israeli Defense Minister Gallant responded to the Ayatollah, saying that Israel is "increasing preparedness" in the face of threats from all across the Middle East. Gallant said that the country's defense establishment is "expanding our operations against Hezbollah, against other bodies that threaten us," and reiterated that Israel "strikes our enemies all over the Middle East… We will know how to protect the citizens of Israel and we will know how to attack our enemies."

Intelligence sources in Washington suggest that Iran will try to respond by possibly blowing up an Israeli Embassy or other building, or even by assassinating an Israeli official, but they will more likely do something indirectly through a proxy like Hezbollah or the Houthis. They could also send a more subtle message by accelerating their nuclear program, though there is a danger that that would definitely bring the US into the game, which is precisely what Israel would like to see. They want to cripple Iran but would much prefer that all the heavy lifting – and the casualties and costs – be endured by Washington. If a US intervention were to occur and there were a misstep, it could easily escalate into a regional war with Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran all lined up against the US and Israel with China and Russia likely to be playing a supporting role aiding the Arabs and Iranians. And don't forget that Israel is nuclear armed. If it gets in trouble it would see itself as a victim and would be tempted to do something very dangerous.

So it is easy to see that Israel has staged a deliberate provocation to draw Washington into its wars. It is playing with fire in an attempt to once and for all establish its dominance over all of its neighbors. Interestingly, the tone deaf Biden Administration appears to be falling into the trap set by the Israelis. Beyond the "ironclad" pledge, it also voted against a Russian and Chinese drafted UN Security Council resolution to condemn the Israeli attack on the Iranian Consulate General. The vote should have been a no brainer given the clear violation of international law and act of war committed by Israel in doing what it did, but the US was joined by Britain and France in casting the veto vote "no" reportedly after "Diplomats said the US told council colleagues that many of the facts of what happened on Monday in Damascus remained unclear." It all means that Biden is stepping in it yet again in a situation where Netanyahu is in control and running circles around him.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation (Federal ID Number #52-1739023) that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 7:49 pm

6. Ukrainian Defector’s Car Explodes in Moscow, Owner Sustains Minor Injuries – Assistant


Sputnik – 12.04.2024

MOSCOW – A car belonging to Vasily Prozorov, former lieutenant colonel of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), has exploded in Moscow while he was inside the vehicle, Prozorov's assistant told Sputnik on Friday.

Earlier in the day, a source in the city's emergency services told Sputnik that an unidentified explosive device had gone off on Friday under a Toyota Land Cruiser in northern Moscow, injuring the owner. A criminal case has been opened in connection with the incident, the source added.

"Don't worry. He is alive and fine. He will continue his work. No matter how hard they tried [to kill him], they failed," the assistant said, when asked about the circumstances of the incident.

The assistant confirmed that Prozorov was admitted to a medical facility and was receiving treatment.

"He has been injured, but fortunately not severely, so he is now conscious and able to communicate," the assistant said, adding that Prozorov was waiting for investigators to be questioned in connection with the incident.

Prior to fleeing to Russia, Prozorov worked in the SBU department for the Zaporozhye Region. After the 2014 coup in Ukraine, he moved to Kiev to serve in the so-called Anti-Terrorism Center of the SBU and has been commandeered to the so-called Anti-Terrorist Operation Zone in Donbass several times.

In 2018, Prozorov moved to Russia and has since participated in investigating crimes believed to have been committed by the Ukrainian government. He has recently been working on a documentary about the events of May 2, 2014, in Odessa.

Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 7:40 pm

7. Abu Ghraib survivors to get their day in court


RT | April 12, 2024

Twenty years on from reports that the US military was torturing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, three survivors will finally get a chance to bring their claims before an American jury.

A trial in the civil lawsuit filed by former Abu Ghraib inmates against the US military contractor that they blame for their suffering is scheduled to begin on Monday in a federal court near Washington. The private security contractor, CACI International, has strung the case along for 16 years by making over 20 unsuccessful attempts to have the lawsuit dismissed.

CACI, which supplied the interrogators who worked at Abu Ghraib, has insisted that its employees weren't accused of abusing detainees. The Virginia-based company also has argued that as a Pentagon contractor, it should be protected by the government's sovereign immunity against the torture allegations.

However, the plaintiffs claimed that CACI set the conditions for their torture by directing or encouraging abuses by military guards, at least partly to "soften up" prisoners for interrogations. All three of the former detainees are Iraqi civilians who were held at Abu Ghraib until eventually being released without charges.

The trial will be "an exceedingly rare opportunity for accountability for the egregious harms suffered by Iraqis after the US invasion in 2003," according to a statement earlier this month by the Center for Constitutional Rights, a US group that is representing the plaintiffs. "In fact, this is the first lawsuit where victims of US post-9/11 torture will get their day in court."

The Abu Ghraib scandal first came to public attention in April 2004, when photos of abused prisoners and their smiling US guards were published. At the time, CBS News aired a report describing the abuse and showing American soldiers taunting naked prisoners. The abuses included stacking nude prisoners in pyramids or dragging them by leashes around their necks. Others were threatened by dogs or hooded and attached to electrical wires.

One of the plaintiffs, former Al-Jazeera reporter Salah Al-Ejaili, claimed he was forced to wear women's underwear, terrorized by dogs, deprived of sleep, and put in stress positions that caused him to vomit black liquid. Another survivor, Suhail Al-Shimari, has claimed that he suffered beatings, electrical shocks, and sexual assaults.

CACI has argued that its employees weren't in a position to give orders to military police and that the US government was responsible for setting the conditions at Abu Ghraib. The company has continued to receive lucrative US government contracts for the past two decades, and only low-level soldiers were criminally prosecuted for the abuses.

A Pentagon investigation found that acts of "brutality and purposeless sadism" occurred at the prison at the hands of military police and US intelligence agency personnel. Retired US Army General Antonio Taguba, who led the investigation, concluded that at least one CACI interrogator should be held accountable for directing military police to set the conditions that led to abuses. Taguba will reportedly testify at the Abu Ghraib trial.

Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 4:35 pm

8. Late admission: Who is really responsible for the chemical attacks in Syria?


By Bakhtiar Urusov – New Eastern Outlook – 12.04.2024 

On 22 February this year, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) issued an opinion from the Investigation and Identification Team (IIT) that found ISIL responsible for the use of chemical weapons (CW) in the Syrian town of Mari in September 2015.

Despite the fact that it took the OPCW more than 8 years to state a known fact, the conclusion uses cautious language such as "there is reason to believe" that "only ISIL could have had the intent, motive and capability" to use CW at this location.

The conclusion is based on another OPCW document, the Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) report on the Mari incident, dated 24 January 2022.

It is noteworthy that the OPCW inspectors conclude that CW has been used by ISIL fighters against other "armed groups", including the US-controlled terrorist organisation Jabhat al-Nusra. Despite its official recognition by the international community as a terrorist organisation, the report refers to this international terrorist organisation as "armed opposition to ISIL". It also states separately that there were no Syrian army forces in the Mari area. In reality, this refers to the presence of chemical weapons in the terrorists' possession, which they used in their struggle for power.

At the same time, there are known facts of the use of chemical weapons by Jebhat al-Nusra itself. For example, in 2015, Turkish parliamentarians presented evidence of supplies of precursors for CW (sarin) and CW missiles by militant groups from Turkey.

Details of British and American intelligence assistance to extremists in the creation of CWs are revealed in the book "The Red Line and the Rat Line" by the well-known American journalist Seymour Hersh.  In it, the author refers to the documents of the US military intelligence, according to which the US not only knew about the creation of CW by pro-Turkish militants with the help of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, but also actively contributed to it.

This fact played a key role in President Obama's declaration of readiness to attack Syrian troops if CW were used. The Americans knew that such a scenario had already been prepared by extremists supported by Washington and its allies – Ankara, Riyadh and Qatar. The "White Helmets" and "Belingcat" organisations, created by Britain's MI6, were to provide the necessary media image to justify the invasion of Syria.

Damascus' proposal to destroy Syria's CW stockpiles, with Moscow's active mediation, postponed for a while, but did not stop the provocations with its use. Apparently, the initiative took the members of the anti-Assad coalition by surprise and they had no plan B. Against the background of the defeat of the terrorists in Syria, it was too late to create another pretext for a quick invasion of Syria.

The subsequent chemical attacks in Syrian cities were clearly attributed to the Syrian army. Without any investigation, based only on the testimony of the White Helmets and Belingcat, the Americans, British and French launched several massive attacks against the Syrian army in an attempt to prevent the defeat of the terrorists. Just three days after the Syrian Air Force destroyed a militant CW depot in Khan Shaykhun (April 2017), the US Navy struck the Syrian Air Force's Shayrat airbase with missiles, a base which had played a key role in pushing al-Nusra militants out of northern Idlib province. When the Syrian military forced the militants to retreat from the suburb of Douma in April 2018, the militants staged a chemical attack there, prompting a massive missile attack by US, French and British forces on the advancing Syrian army just six days after the incident. As before, the White Helmets' testimony about the Syrian army's use of CW was enough for the West. With the full cooperation of Damascus, OPCW experts inspected the site of the alleged CW use. Subsequently, one of the inspectors appeared at the UN with a refutation of the White Helmets' conclusion, providing evidence of a staged use of CW. However, his testimony was rejected by the OPCW and he was ostracised and dismissed without any legal basis.

Similar provocations have been carried out in other cities in Syria. All of them have one thing in common – preliminary military successes of the Syrian army against terrorists in a particular area, the absence of any military sense in the use of CW, as well as immediate air strikes by the "friends of Syria" led by the United States, the invasion of foreign troops into the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic.

If it took more than eight years to recognise ISIL responsibility for the use of CW, it took only a few days for the West to accuse and attack government forces. All the CW provocations in Syria are reminiscent of the infamous test tube of white powder demonstrated by US Secretary of State C. Powell at the UN in 2003. With the passage of time this lie, which became the pretext for the invasion of Iraq, has become obvious to everyone. The use of CWs by terrorists supported by the West, Turkey and KSA is also becoming obvious. But we should not expect Washington, London, Paris or Ankara to acknowledge this fact any time soon. This would mean admitting that they have committed crimes against humanity, violated many international conventions and carried out aggressions against sovereign states.

Collective condemnation of the crimes of these countries in the UN, the OPCW and other international and regional organisations should be a defence against such a policy of the West. International cooperation should be established to repel such hybrid attacks on yet another "overly independent" state that, according to Washington, intends to defend its national interests "to the detriment of the interests of the United States."

Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 3:01 pm

9. Red Sea rising: Exposing the West’s diminishing naval power


By Ali Halawi | Al Mayadeen | April 12, 2024

The Red Sea has witnessed several developments that brought to light the West's fading power, as its enemies simultaneously and continuously develop precision weapons and naval capabilities.

Although ongoing escort, air defense, and aerial attack operations in the Red Sea are viewed as uncostly, in terms of human capital, and training routines that will raise the preparedness of NATO forces in the region, they have also unveiled a quite unpleasant reality for Western navies. On the flip side, the aerial attacks of Yemeni Armed Forces (YAF) on Israeli-affiliated ships, which were later expanded to include US-UK-affiliated ships in the Red Sea, add to an extended bill that NATO countries pay for securing the Israeli genocide of the Palestinian people.

The weapons used in these operations are similar to Iranian-designed drones, ballistic missiles, and cruise missiles and have been described as "cheap" yet effective weapons by US CENTCOM commanders. These precise guided munitions have been disseminated across factions in the Axis of Resistance, via direct armament or technology sharing. When put to the correct use the weapons have proven challenging for some of the world's most well-trained and equipped forces.

West Asia casts a shadow over NATO military industrial complexes

Some weapons could have been transferred with the blueprints for the production of their main compartments and assembly at their final destination, bringing costs down and production levels up, further deepening the hole for Western counterparts. In the case of Ansar Allah in Yemen, the YAF owns and announces to locally produce a wide array of anti-ship weapons, as well as missiles, and drones that have been appropriated for attacking seaborne targets; currently being put to use to tighten a naval blockade on "Israel" through the Red Sea.

On the other hand, flailing Western military hegemony over the seas pushed the US and its allies to embark on a poorly planned campaign to protect Israeli shipping routes, forcing them to deal with these relatively low-cost weapons in the Red Sea and the Arabian Sea, where the YAF has dealt direct hits to multiple non-military vessels and threatened near hits some of the most advanced American military ships. This has been the case in Iraq, Syria, and Jordan, where US military bases have suffered from the horrors of cheap low-flying, and ballistic weapons in more than 100 operations on US assets, which dealt precise hits to their targets on multiple occasions.

When countering these attacks, Western forces have utilized some of the most sophisticated anti-air surface-to-air missiles, which are estimated to cost millions of dollars of taxpayer money. In the Red Sea, the US-led Western alliance has relied on NATO-standard interceptors, each of which was developed to counter specific inbound aerial objects.

According to The Responsible Statecraft and news circulating on Western media outlets regarding the mishaps of air defense units, the Western coalition has depended on the use of a layered anti-air model, consisting of RIM-116 (RAM), RIM-66 (SM-2), RIM-174 (SM-6), RIM-162 (ESSM), and RIM-161 (SM-3) interceptors. Each interceptor has been developed to counter specific weaponry, however, they all share in common extremely pricey tags.

Price list for NATO's Israeli maritime protection campaign

Below is a list of the cost of a single interceptor, excluding operational and battery costs, as of 2022:

  • RIM-116 (RAM): $905,000
  • RIM-66 (SM-2): $2,100,000
  • RIM-174 (SM-6): $3,901,818
  • RIM-162 (ESSM): $2,031,875
  • RIM 161 (SM-3) Block IB: $9,698,617
  • RIM-161 (SM-3) Block IIA: $27,915,625

The price list is retrieved from the US Department of Defense and military-industrial complexes' official documents.

Germany's Navy ridicules itself

Keeping the aforementioned price ranges in mind, an outrageous fluke that came as a result of a failed surface-to-air missile interception attempt by the German Navy's Hessen frigate exposed the deep-lying issues for the US-led Naval alliance in the Red Sea.

What should have been a strike on a low-cost Yemeni drone turned into a shabby affair in which the German Navy misidentified the drone, launched a dual attack on an allied asset, failed to hit the aircraft, and suffered malfunctions that led to the destruction of two interceptors midflight.

At first glance, the attack underlines several glaring issues including, the under-preparedness of the German air defense crew, inadequate storage or production of interceptors, and poor communication between NATO allied forces at Sea. Some military-concerned outlets have attempted to shift the blame on outdated German comms, however, further investigation of the incident reveals an issue of economic cost that could tip the scale towards NATO's enemies.

Germany's embarrassing mishap would cost the country around $4.2 million, as the Hessen launched two SM-2s at a US MQ-9 reaper drone that it failed to identify.

No SM-2 batches produced since 2018

The cost of the failed operation should not be the only consideration here, as the last time Ratheon sold a batch of its SM-2 Block IIIA interceptors was in a deal it signed with Denmark back in 2018. The deal was worth $152 million for 46 SM-2 Block IIIA interceptors and corresponding equipment for a couple of vertical launch systems. Now, the company has stopped producing the system, and the interceptors for lack of international orders and plans to resume production in 2035.

However, conflict in Ukraine, the war on Gaza, and tensions in East Asia may prompt reconsideration, especially as the genocide of Palestinian people drags on while their allies in Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq tie their operations to the status of the aggression on Gaza itself.

Large-scale confrontation might see selective engagement

The fact that Raethon has not received any major orders since 2018 brings up the possibility of Western shortages in air defense systems and interceptors, in case of larger-scale engagement erupting in the region. The phenomenon cannot be limited to SM-2 interceptors but could affect a range of staple NATO-developed and produced SAMs, including the infamous Patriot systems, THAAD, Israeil Iron Dome, and other anti-ballistic and cruise missile systems.

Large-scale engagement will most likely see the Colletive West prioritize assets and selectively down often low-cost but deadly targets.

One Yemeni strike was capable of sinking a bulk carrier in the Red Sea, while an attack on a secret US outpost on the Jordanian-Syrian border injured and killed more than a hundred US servicepeople.

In a war of attrition, the Axis of Resistance's factions will have the economic advantages of pumping out low-cost munitions that target multi-million dollar systems and vehicles, and the morale advantage of deep-rooted ideological motives related to religion and nativity to the lands they defend.

Another blunder: Denmark's unreported defensive failure gets chief sacked

More recently, Denmark sacked its defense chief Flemming Lentfer after major faults were discovered in air defense systems on a frigate that it sent to the Red Sea earlier. Lentfer was axed on Wednesday night after failing to report to the Danish Defense Minister, Troels Lund Poulsen, that the Iver Huitfeldt vessel had experienced a 30 minutes-long malfunction in one of its missile and radar systems, during a drone attack in the Red Sea. The malfunction led Danish authorities to recall the frigate from its mission, marking the gravity of the faults.

"I have lost trust in the chief of defense," said Poulsen. Shockingly, he found out about the incident from a specialist military outlet, rather than any of his subordinates.

"We are facing a historic and necessary strengthening of Denmark's defense forces. This places great demands on our organization and on the military advice at a political level," he asserted.

Danish news website Olfi was the one to break the news to the Minister of Defense, explaining that the frigate was commanded by Commander Sune Lund, who complained about a problem with the ship's active radar and C-Flex combat management system.

Unexplained outages to the systems were severe enough to prevent the frigate from launching its ESSM interceptors. The Danish frigate's 76 mm guns were also reported to be defective on several occasions during deployment to the Red Sea. Other reports revealed other aspects of the commander's message, in which he stated that the equipment problems reportedly had been known about for "years", but that little had been done to address them.

Germany's "Embarrassment" vs Yemen's Victory

Back to Germany's flop in the Red Sea, which was described by German media outlet BILD as an "Embarrassment to our (the German) Navy in the Red Sea", the YAF had just marked another milestone by downing a US-operated MQ-9 Reaper Drone over Hodeidah a few days prior to the blunder.

Although both forces attempted to target different MQ-9-type drones using their own SAMs, the Yemeni Armed Forces were able to destroy the highly prized American drone with a "locally produced" air defense system while the Germans harrowingly failed. The Germans said that they mistakenly targeted a drone on February 28, 2024. However, their failure to down the then-unidentified object was due to unnamed technical malfunctions that led to the detonation of the two SM-2 missiles midflight, rather than active efforts to avert the disaster.

Interestingly, Sanaa had only unveiled two air defense systems capable of achieving such a hit. One of which is seemingly a copy of the Iranian-developed compact air-defense missile, dubbed Saqer-2. The missile can be easily transported and launched to take down close-range targets, flying at relatively slow speeds. The Saqer-2, a copycat of the Iranian so-called 358 surface-to-air missile reportedly functions like a one-way attack drone, reaching the required via a liquid fuel-propelled engine, to later hover near an aerial target, approaching it and detonating its warhead after being manually locked on to it by a ground operator, or by working in an autonomous mode.

However, footage published by the YAF's Military Media indicated that the air defense system utilized in the incident was similar to traditional supersonic SAMs due to the speed at which it reached its target and the sound produced during its flight in the video.

Notably, the missile impacted the drone in a near direct trajectory and did not pause to hover nearby or for directions by operators. Examining the publicly revealed arsenal of the YAF, this likely indicates that the missile in use was the Bareq-1 or Bareq-2 SAM.

The missiles resemble the Iranian Taer line of missiles, which are used on a multitude of staple air defense systems. Digging deeper into the origin of the technology, it is clear that the Taer or Bareq lines of missiles are actually reverse-engineered models of the Soviet-era 3M9, incorporating certain elements from NATO Standard Missiles.

Presuming that the Bareq-2 was used by the YAF for the operation reveals an even deeper hole dug by Western military complexes for their own armies. Moreover, NATO's SMs are much more developed than the YAF's interceptors, as they incorporate a wide range of technological and hardware additions, putting them in a class of their own.

These additions allow for 360° scope for air defense teams allowing Hessen and other vessels to fire at any surrounding target within its range at any time without having to adjust their position while boosters on the SM-6 allow for longer-range targeting.

Still, the single-stage and aimed single launch conducted by the YAF achieved a direct hit to the 20 m-long US drone obliterating it to pieces that were scavenged by fighters on al-Hodeidah's shore.

Yemen's support to Palestine uncovers deep crises in NATO's Naval power

Putting this series of unfolding events into the context of the Yemeni Armed Forces' support to Palestine, as the Western-backed Israeli regime continues its genocidal war on Gaza, is key to not only regional security but global security as a whole.

The equations drawn by the YAF have been unprecedented in the history of the nation's struggle against Western imperialism, as for the first time, an Arab nation has taken the responsibility of launching an expansive naval campaign to support a moral and national cause, whose result will alter the course of human history. By setting this historical precedent, Yemen has not only altered regional security to the favor of natives, but it has also exposed essential faults in NATO's military and naval structure which can and will be taken advantage of by adversaries.

These events have not been limited to uncovering the flaws of Danish and German forces, but they have laid bare essential challenges for the far superior American and British navies.

For the US, issues have concentrated around logistics and the high cost of operating multiple strike groups, in order to maintain feeble objectives. The UK on the other hand has witnessed multiple accidents and complications during the period of its operations.

The Yemeni Armed Forces' strategic engagements in the Red Sea highlight a significant shift in naval dynamics, exposing vulnerabilities in Western military prowess and logistical strategies. Despite maintaining relatively low-scale engagements, the YAF's precision attacks on military vessels have yielded valuable experience and expanded their target list, aided by direct repercussions from the US's involvement in the genocidal war on Gaza. This evolving scenario underscores the importance of the Axis of Resistance's strategic foresight and adaptive responses in navigating the complexities of Western provocations, in the context of modern naval warfare, signaling a paradigmatic challenge for maintaining Western military hegemony in the region.

Aletho News
12 Apr 2024 | 2:19 pm

10. Hamas adhering to its conditions for prisoner deal: Haniyeh


Al Mayadeen | April 12, 2024

The head of Hamas' Political Bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, told Al Mayadeen that the Palestinian Resistance group is adhering to its conditions in negotiations and will not engage in any deal with "Israel" without their fulfillment.

Haniyeh emphasized the Resistance's insistence on the necessity of declaring a permanent and clear ceasefire in Gaza.

He made it clear that the Israeli occupation has not eliminated Hamas, and shall not eliminate it, pointing out that the Israeli government has not retrieved its captives held in Gaza and shall not retrieve them except through "an honorable deal."

The Palestinian leader affirmed the Resistance's insistence on the complete withdrawal and the return of the displaced people to Gaza without any conditions or barriers, in addition to the conditions regarding relief and the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, leading to a prisoner exchange deal.

Haniyeh touched on Israeli media's speculations that the Israeli assassination of his sons and grandchildren is aimed at pressuring Hamas to ease its demands during ceasefire negotiations, underlining that "this will not happen."

The Hamas chief indicated that the massacres and crimes committed by the Israeli occupation in Gaza reflect its strategic failure after not achieving its declared goals of the war.

"Israel, the spoiled child of the West, is no longer as it once was, and its image has been shattered," he told Al Mayadeen, adding that what is happening in the "corridors of diplomacy" indicates an unprecedented isolation for the Israeli occupation entity.

Addressing the entire nation, Haniyeh highlighted that the ongoing genocide in Gaza requires a different stance from the past six months.

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