Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Russian national security policies - an attempt at clarification

The recent discussion with Lysander, Joe and others about possible Russian actions to prevent a NATO attack on Syria has lead me to conclude that it might be to look into this topic in a separate post.  So here is my point of view on what Russia is really up to.  As always, I offer that as a basis for discussion and I hope that you guys will contribute your points of view.

Cheers and, as always, many thanks,

The Saker

Russian national security policies - a tentative list

Following Russian President Medvedev recent TV address to the Russian nation about the US anti-missile system deployment in Europe and Russia's response to it a lot of commentators have said that a "new Cold War" was possibly returning to the European continent.  While not quite wrong, this characterization is dangerously misleading as it leads to associations with the old Soviet Union.  That is a highly deceptive choice of words as it misses the single most important conceptual cornerstone of any sound analysis of Russian policies:

==>>Russia is not the Soviet Union<<==
(repeat three times)

This seemingly self-evident truism is still fundamentally missed in most analyses of Russian national security policies, and there are good reasons for that.  After all, Putin was a KGB intelligence officer, Russia is, in many but not all aspects, a 'successor state' to the old Soviet Union, there still is a strong minority of Russians who are nostalgic for the good old days (?) of the Soviet Union and some Soviet era symbols are still seen everywhere in Russia (red stars, even statues of Lenin).  But most importantly, the Western propaganda machine is constantly trumpeting that Russia is a "Soviet Union version 2", that a "resurgent Russia" means a new USSR, that under a thin veneer of change "the Russians are up to their old tricks", etc.  That is, of course, utter nonsense.  One need not to be a Putin-supporter to realize that Russia is a qualitatively different entity from the old Soviet Union.  I won't even bother defending that self-evident fact here (if somebody doubts this, please stop reading now).

Saying that Russia is not the "Soviet Union v2" however, begs the question of what Russia really is.  What are the Russians really up to?  What are the actual national security policies which the "Putin-Medvedev-Putin again" regime has been pursuing since 2000 and s likely to purse on the foreseeable future.  I will try to offer a summary of what I believe the national security priorities of Russia currently are in the following list.

Current Russia national security polices aims to:
  1. show an absolutely determined willingness to fight if Russian vital interests are threatened (08.08.08 war against Georgia)
  2. de-couple the EU from the US as much as possible by political and economic means (see the huge gas contracts through the north and south pipelines towards Western Europe)
  3. growl and bare fangs, but not quite bite, when confronted with US imperial hubris and threats (Russian response to NATO anti-missile system in Europe)
  4. at the UN, insist on a full compliance with international law and UNSC resolutions (that, in itself, is a major annoyance for the USA who would love to have a legal cloak for all its imperial wars)
  5. develop new international structures and relations (think SCO and CSTO here) to counterbalance US controlled structures
  6. strengthen bilateral cooperation with independent partners (China, India, Latin America)
  7. protect the Russian economy from the slow-motion but inexorable crash of the Western capitalist economies, mainly by reducing Russia's dependence on the West (Putin and Medvedev have done an excellent job in making the Russian economy strong while protecting it from the worst effects of the economic crisis in the West)
  8. dramatically increase the Russian influence over the Central Asian region and its energy-rich resources (not by sending soldiers, but by participating in the economic development of this region)
  9. weaken the influence of US-controlled Wahabi insurgencies by supporting the traditional forms of Islam not only in the Caucasus region, but throughout Russia, including Moscow and other big cities and by developing Russian central and regional anti-terrorist capabilities.
  10. use Russian economic and cultural power to slowly improve relations with the population of countries like the Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, or Latvia whose governments have recently (or are still) run by anti-Russian governments, while reaching out to promising political figures (like Nino Burjanadze)
  11. avoid openly confronting or antagonizing the US Empire, in particular when the latter is engaged in self-defeating policies (war in Afghanistan)
  12. develop military forces capable of:
  • suppressing any insurgency inside Russia
  • dealing with one or two simultaneous regional crises on the Russian borders
  • project enough power to protect threatened regional allies (Tajikistan? Armenia?)
  • execute complex joint operations with key allies (Kazakhstan, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and, in a second phase, possibly China)
  • maintain a strategic nuclear capability sufficient to deter the US from any ideas of an attack on Russia
I would submit that this (admittedly non-official) strategy is fundamentally sound.  First, in contrast to old Soviet-era policies, this Russian strategy is both doable and sustainable.   Second, it is legitimate, in the sense that it is fully compatible with international law and accepted norms of civilized behavior.  Third, this strategy does not threaten the legitimate interests of any other country or region.  Fourth, these polices enjoy a broad consensus inside the Russian public opinion.  Fifth, these policies make Russia an attractive partner for many countries who seek to remain free from US imperial control.

However, there are also some apparent down sides to these policies.  The first and most obvious one is that Russia will not get involved in a direct confrontation with the West to defend any third party, be it the Kosovo Serbs, the Iranians or the Syrians.  If NATO pushes hard, Russia will back down, unless its direct and vital interests are threatened.  The 'best' Russia can do for those countries who are threatened by the US empire is, according to point #4 above, is insist on a compliance with international law and UNSC resolutions.  Sadly, on at least two recent occasions (Iran, Libya), Russia failed to even do that.  My best guess is that in both situations the leaders in the Kremlin were hoping for some quid pro quo from the USA, though I am quite unable to identify anything that the betrayal by Russia of Iran and Libya at the UNSC would have achieved for Russia (any guesses here?).

This leaves a couple of what I think of "exotic things" to explain.  What were Russian Tu-160 strategic bombers doing in Venezuela?  Why is the Russian Navy conducting anti-piracy operations off the coast of Somalia?  What is the Russian aircraft carrier doing in the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria right now?

The reality is that none of these deployments have a serious military component.  These are what the US Navy calls "showing the flag" missions, a demonstration of capabilities to potential allies and adversaries, and a way to show the Russian people that their tax money allows their country to play in the "big leagues".  At no time did any of these deployment represent even a marginal threat to the USA or NATO countries (a pair of Russian attack submarines would be a far greater threat to the US Navy than the current deployment of the Kuznetsov).

Bottom line: the Russian policies will be low-key, unspectacular, gradual, aimed at the long-term, focused but unconfrontational and primarily local and regional.  Unlike the Soviet Union, Russia does not believe that it is in a global zero-sum game against the USA.  The leaders in the Kremlin are under no illusion about the fact that the USA is attempting to establish a world-wide empire and that it's leaders hate Russia with a passion and that western policies always aim at the eventual dismemberment and demise of Russia; they just don't believe that the Soviet way to oppose the USA was the correct one.

If there is one thing which the Russian nation has learned from the Mongol invasions is that retreating can be an extremely powerful defensive tactic and the Russians have become masters at this very refined and sophisticated art.  Though this has never been mentioned officially, there is a good deal of evidence that the Kremlin has decided that letting the USA over-extend itself in all sorts of military adventures is the best way to weaken and eventually bring down the US empire.

You could say that the Russians are playing chess, while the Americans are playing monopoly.

This is, of course, a delicate, if not dangerous, balancing act.  One could reasonably argue that the initial appearance of US 'success' in Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq resulted in the war in Georgia, or that the appearance of 'success' in Libya might now result in an attack on Syria.  In fact, the one common feature of US and Israel strategic thinking is the systematic conflation of short term/tactical successes with long term/strategic gains.  So when the US/Israeli Empire enjoys a short term/tactical victory, it tends to interpret that as a meaningful sign of power which results into a typical "who is next?" kind if mindset. 
Russia therefore has to carefully balance letting the US/Israeli Empire over-extend itself against letting the resulting short term imperial hubris threaten important or even vital Russian national interests (see #3 above).

These are my thoughts on this topics and I would be most interested in hearing your reactions.

Many thanks and kind regards,

The Saker

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011

    Propaganda as subtle as anything the Nazis and Soviets ever did

    Today's headline from the Mail Online:

    Russia sends warship to Syria in support of Assad (whose soldiers have killed 256 children)

    No comment needed.

    Voting with matches in Egypt

    Today, some Egyptians voted with bulletins, other voted with matches, but the message was the same, no doubt.

    Monday, November 28, 2011

    Russian envoy to NATO threatens to "reconsider" Russia's support for NATO in Afghanistan

    Dimitri Rogozin,  the official Russian top envoy to NATO (and who is also one of the most interesting Russian public figures), has just declared that Russia is considering revising its support for NATO operations in Afghanistan.  This is a direct consequence of the US decision to deploy an anti-missile system along the Russian border in Europe.

    And since Pakistan has decided to close down (probably for a limited time) the NATO supplies through Pakistan following the murder of 24 Pakistani soldiers by NATO, it sure looks like NATO infinite arrogance has landed it into some painful circumstances.

    Friday, November 25, 2011

    Iran raises stakes with claims it has netted 12 US spies

    IRAN has claimed a blow against US spying efforts on its nuclear program and strategic industries with the capture of 12 CIA ''assets''. US officials acknowledged its spy network targeting Iran had suffered a setback and expressed fears its contacts would be executed by the regime.

    The Iranian Intelligence Minister, Heydar Moslehi, said on Thursday the alleged spies worked at the highest levels of ''major firms involved in oil, gas and nuclear industries''.  Parviz Sorouri, a member of Iran's national security and foreign policy committee, said the arrested spies were on a mission to cripple Iran in vital sectors with military and security links.  On Wednesday, IRNA state news agency quoted an Iranian official as saying the spies had been gathering intelligence from security and military units as well as its sensitive nuclear program.

    ''The main mission of this act of espionage was related to Iran's progress in the fields of nuclear technology and also military and security activities,'' Mr Sorouri said. ''The US and Zionist regime's espionage apparatuses were trying to damage Iran both from inside and outside with a heavy blow, using regional intelligence services. Fortunately, with swift reaction by the Iranian intelligence department, the actions failed to bear fruit.''

    Mr Sorouri's comments follow reports on Monday that Iran and the Lebanese Shiite militia, Hezbollah, had identified alleged CIA informants, including a network based in a Pizza Hut.  The leader of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, said in June his group had uncovered at least two CIA informants within its ranks but his claims were met with scepticism at the time.  The US embassy in Lebanon denied the accusation but officials conceded Hezbollah had methodically picked off CIA informants in recent months.

    Former US officials told Reuters this week those arrested were indeed working for the CIA. The officials claimed the agents were ''believed to be local recruits'' working for the CIA rather than US citizens.  Iran did not specify the nationality of the individuals it has arrested and the CIA has declined to comment on the recent reports, saying ''it does not, as a rule discuss allegations of operational activities''.  A former CIA chief in Beirut, Robert Baer, told ABC News the arrests were ''catastrophic'' and amounted to a demonstration American had ''lost its touch'' in Middle East espionage.

    The arrests further raise tensions in Iran's already strained relationship with the US. US authorities said last month factions inside the Iranian regime had conspired to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington.  Iran denied the allegations and one Iranian diplomat told The Guardian the US had resorted to an ''entrapment technique'' in order to smear Tehran in the eyes of the world.  US allegations were met with scepticism because of the sloppy nature of the alleged assassination plot and the limited evidence provided by the US.

    In a tit-for-tat reaction this month, Iranian officials accused the US of committing acts of terrorism. Iran said at the time it had evidence showing the US had been behind ''terror'' operations in Iran, including the assassination of its nuclear scientists.

    Thursday, November 24, 2011

    Bosnia all over again. Kosovo all over again. Libya all over again.

    I took quick look this afternoon at  the headlines on the (always excellent) Information Clearing House (which, by the way, is in great need of financial help!) and I saw these:
    Bosnia all over again.  Kosovo all over again.  Libya all over again.


    The Western corporate media: the Empire's most subservient lackey

    Following President Medvedev's speech yesterday, I decided to scan the western corporate media for reactions.  I was curious, what would the pundits make of what I personally consider a total failure of Obama's foreign policy?  Would at least the European press express outrage over the fact that the always imbecile US foreign policy has now turned several European countries into targets?

    I mean, really, let's consider the following basic and, I strongly believe, undeniable facts:

    a) There is no Iranian missile threat to Europe, nor will there ever be.  Under no imaginable scenario would the Iranians ever even consider striking at Europe simply because it would make absolutely no sense.

    b) It is a well-known "secret" that this entire anti-missile system is designed to "protect" NATO from a putative Russian strike.  However, since it is quite evident to anybody except for a complete cretin that under no circumstances would Russia ever gain anything from striking at Europe.  Thus the real reasons behind this anti-missile system are the following:
    1. to provide more taxpayer money to the US MIC
    2. to firmly peg the East-Europeans into the NATO colonial realm
    3. to spite and threaten Russia by brazenly ignoring its legitimate concerns
    c)  Militarily speaking, this anti-missile shield is only a minor annoyance for Russia because Russia does have the technical means to defeat it.  President Medvedev outlined these measures, adding that "these measures will be adequate, effective, and low-cost". He is right.  This is not Reagan's "Star Wars", but a system deployed within a short range of Russia's borders.  Countering it will be cheap.

    What this deployment does "achieve" is a psychological return to the worst years of the Cold War, at least for Europe.  For those who, like myself, lived in the late 1970s and 1980s under the threat of Soviet SS-20 missiles, it is deeply distressing to see that the USA is, again, turning the European continent into a target, in particular considering the fact that there is no "Russian threat" to "counter" (why would Russia ever wanted to threaten its biggest market for gas? and if it really wanted to threaten the EU, all it would need is to cut its gas supplies anyway...).

    Bottom line: this entire anti-missile debacle is useless, counter-productive, and fundamentally toxic.  The only 'winners' in all this are the CEOs of a few American corporations, and the USA faithful servant in Eastern Europe.

    I wondered, would the Western corporate press notice any of that?

    I checked the WSJ, the WP, NYT and a host of other outlets and I was shocked.  Speaking with one voice, as they apparently always do, they brought it all down to three talking points:

    a) Medvedev is catering to his election campaign (he ain't running, but nevermind)
    b) Russia is creating a new Cold War (and what is NATO doing exactly?)
    c) NATO is "frustrated" by Russia's stance (and the Russians, might they be frustrated?)

    That's it.  Nothing more.  Not a single attempt at understanding anything, no analysis of the Kremlin's position.  Not a word about the consequences for Europe.  The Western corporate press is basically fully and unconditionally endorsing the White House's propaganda without any attempt whatsoever to form its own opinion.

    In its ever-present hubris, the West fails to see an important detail: we are not living in the 1980s anymore and, unlike the Brezhnev years, Russia's economy is booming, while both the EU and the USA are in the midst of a deep, structural, crisis with no foreseeable way out.  Furthermore, the US empire is hopelessly over-extended,  spending more on "defense" than the rest of the planet combined.  Who do you think has more staying power this time to win this arms race?

    Could it be that Obama's empire is repeating exactly the same mistakes as the Soviet Union committed under Brezhnev?

    The Saker

    PS: there is one entity in Russia which, no doubt, is deeply satisfied with Obama's hubris: the Russian military intelligence service, GRU, which Medvedev had almost abolished, and whose Spetsnaz brigades have been reduced in number.  It just so happens that the original function of the (then still Soviet) Spetsnaz forces was precisely to destroy the kind of system which the USA will be deploying in Europe.  Thanks to Obama, the GRU and its Spetsnaz forces - which have just be re-subordinated to the Russian strategic commands - have now re-acquired their traditional target.

    I can just imagine the high-fiving at 766 Khoroshovskoye shosse...

    Wednesday, November 23, 2011

    Statement by Russian President Medvedev in connection with the situation concerning the NATO countries’ missile defence system in Europe

    Citizens of Russia,

    I address you today in connection with the situation concerning the NATO countries’ missile defence system in Europe.

    Russia’s relations with the USA and NATO in the missile defence area have a long and complicated history. I remember that when US President Barack Obama revised his predecessor’s plans to build a missile defence system in Europe in September 2009, we welcomed this as a positive step.

    This decision paved the way to our being able to conclude the important New START Treaty which was signed not too long ago and which clearly states the intrinsic link between strategic offensive weapons and missile defence. Let me state that again, this was a major achievement.

    Subsequently, however, the USA began carrying out a new missile defence plan that foresaw the creation of a missile defence system in stages. This specifically raises concerns in Russia. It would eventually see the deployment of US missiles and military capability in close proximity to Russia’s borders and in the neighbouring waters.

    At the NATO-Russia Council summit in Lisbon a year ago, I proposed developing a joint sector-based missile defence system in Europe where every country would be responsible for a particular sector.

    Furthermore, we were ready to discuss additional modifications to the system, taking into account our NATO partners’ views. Our only goal was to preserve the basic principle that Europe does not need new dividing lines, but rather, a common security perimeter with Russia’s equal and legally enshrined participation.

    It is my conviction that this approach would create unique opportunities for Russia and NATO to build a genuine strategic partnership. We are to replace the friction and confrontation in our relations with the principles of equality, indivisible security, mutual trust, and predictability.

    Regrettably, the USA and other NATO partners have not showed enough willingness to move in this direction. Rather than showing themselves willing to hear and understand our concerns over the European missile defence system at this stage, they simply repeat that these plans are not directed against Russia and that there is no point for us to be concerned. That is the position of the executive authorities, but legislators in some countries openly state, the whole system is against Russia.

    But our requests that they set this out on paper in the form of clear legal obligations are firmly rejected. We do hold a reasonable position. We are willing to discuss the status and content of these obligations, but our colleagues should understand that these obligations must have substance and not be just empty words. They must be worded not as promises and reassurances, but as specific military-technical criteria that will enable Russia to judge to what extent US and NATO action in the missile defence area correspond to their declarations and steps, whether our interests are being impinged on, and to what extent the strategic nuclear balance is still intact. This is the foundation of the present-day security.

    We will not agree to take part in a programme that in a short while, in some 6 to 8 years’ time could weaken our nuclear deterrent capability. The European missile defence programme is already underway and work on it is, regrettably, moving rapidly in Poland, Turkey, Romania, and Spain. We find ourselves facing a fait accompli.

    Of course we will continue the dialogue with the USA and NATO on this issue. I agreed on this with US President Barack Obama when we met recently, and on that occasion again stated our concerns very clearly. There is still time to reach an understanding. Russia has the political will to reach the agreements needed in this area, agreements that would open a new chapter in our relations with the USA and NATO.

    If our partners show an honest and responsible attitude towards taking into account Russia’s legitimate security interests, I am sure we can come to an agreement. But if we are asked to ‘cooperate’ or in fact act against our own interests it will be difficult to establish common ground. In such a case we would be forced to take a different response. We will decide our actions in accordance with the actual developments in events at each stage of the missile defence programme’s implementation.

    In this connection, I have made the following decisions:

    First, I am instructing the Defence Ministry to immediately put the missile attack early warning radar station in Kaliningrad on combat alert.

    Second, protective cover of Russia’s strategic nuclear weapons will be reinforced as a priority measure under the programme to develop our air and space defences.

    Third, the new strategic ballistic missiles commissioned by the Strategic Missile Forces and the Navy will be equipped with advanced missile defence penetration systems and new highly-effective warheads.

    Fourth, I have instructed the Armed Forces to draw up measures for disabling missile defence system data and guidance systems if need be. These measures will be adequate, effective, and low-cost.

    Fifth, if the above measures prove insufficient, the Russian Federation will deploy modern offensive weapon systems in the west and south of the country, ensuring our ability to take out any part of the US missile defence system in Europe. One step in this process will be to deploy Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad Region.

    Other measures to counter the European missile defence system will be drawn up and implemented as necessary.


    If the situation continues to develop not to Russia’s favour, we reserve the right to discontinue further disarmament and arms control measures.

    Besides, given the intrinsic link between strategic offensive and defensive arms, conditions for our withdrawal from the New START Treaty could also arise, and this option is enshrined in the treaty.

    But let me stress the point that we are not closing the door on continued dialogue with the USA and NATO on missile defence and on practical cooperation in this area. We are ready for that.

    However, this can be achieved only through establishing a clear legal base for cooperation that would guarantee that our legitimate interests and concerns are taken into account. We are open to a dialogue and we hope for a reasonable and constructive approach from our Western partners.

    Tuesday, November 22, 2011

    Cairo Protests "To Save the Revolution"

    From Tahrir Square to Wall Street and the rest of the USA, the Empire bares its fangs (again)

    The level of violence meted out by the Empire against its opponents is clearly on the rise: from Tahrir Square in Egypt, to the many Occupy Wall Street demonstrations, to the constant saber-rattling against Iran, the Empire is clearly cracking down on its opposition.

    This new trend is particularly striking in the USA.  People who have never lived in the USA or who, even more so, have never studied here, do probably not realize the amazing degree of freedom US colleges have enjoyed in the past.  Let me illustrate this by a simple example.

    I got one of my college degrees from The American University in Washington, DC.  Of of the teachers at this university was a former Ambassador of Grenada to the USA, until Reagan invaded the small island to show the world that the USA was still a superpower after its Marines had just been blown up to smithereens in Beirut two days earlier.  While the USA could impose a puppet-regime in Grenada, it could do nothing to remove this (now ex-) Ambassador from American U. because, in essence, all US colleges had a semi-official status of extra-territoriality due to their academic nature.  Sure, the Reaganites hated having this Marxist ex-Ambassador speaking her mind not only on campus, but also off-campus, but there was nothing they could do about it.  That was the type of freedom US colleges enjoyed as recently as 1986.

    So while the pepper-spraying of protesting students in UC Davis might not appear like a big deal to non-Americans, to those Americans old enough to remember the 1980s (or even the civil rights and anti-war movements of the 1960) this is an outrage which goes against everything the USA was supposed to stand for.

    Seattle activist Dorli Rainey, 84, after being
    hit with pepper spray during an Occupy Seattle protest.
    What matters here is not that some pepper sprayed in the eyes of the students, its the clear message this sends: the time for freedom is over and now we will do what was so unthinkable even very recently.  This is why protesters are being beaten up with batons, tasered, pepper-strayed and even killed in greater and greater numbers: the regime is sending a simple and clear message to its subjects: give it up, or we will crush you.

    The gloves are also off in Egypt where the torture and murder of pro-democracy demonstrators has resumed.  Amazingly, stunningly, the Egyptians have found in themselves the courage and internal resources to continue the fight.  The expression "heroic people" is, as a rule, hyperbole, but in the case of the Egyptian people it seems quite appropriate to me.

    The Empire probably feels emboldened by its comprehensive success in Libya and by its hope to repeat something similar in Syria  (the counter-examples of Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Somalia seem quickly forgotten amidst all the high-fiving and back-slapping about the "great NATO victory" in Libya).  Amazingly, the always inept and useless Arab League has learned nothing from its shameful role in the Libyan war and seems to be willing to repeat exactly the same actions against Syria.  The only good news here is that at least China and Russia seemed to be saying "no way, not again!".  But does that really matter?  In a world were UNSC Resolutions carry no weight at all, and in which the current UNSC does not even seem be able to produce a majority in favor of a Palestinian state - does it make any difference at all what Russia or China have to say?

    The bottom line is clear: both the Obama Administration and the US regime which it currently represents are clearly headed towards a dramatic increase in violent actions.  On one hand, the economies of the USA and the EU are tanking, the political elites are as hated and as openly challenged as ever while, on the other hand, brazen acts of illegal violence yield what the rules of the Empire think of as "successes".  Add to this the upcoming elections in the USA, and a Zionist lobby gone insane with a typical mix of arrogance and paranoia, and you get an explosive cocktail.

    Sadly, it appears that we must brace ourselves for a major increase in violence, both inside the USA, and internationally.   Yes, the days of this Empire are numbered, but only in the long term.  For the foreseeable future it still has a lot of "reserve capabilities of violence" to inflict on all its opponents.

    The Saker

    Monday, November 21, 2011

    Hezbollah dismantles two major CIA spy rings in Lebanon and Iran

    Report: Dozens of U.S. spies captured in Lebanon and Iran

    Dozens of spies working for the CIA were captured recently in Lebanon and Iran, current and former U.S. officials told The Associated Press and ABC News on Monday.

    The CIA’s operations in Lebanon have been badly damaged after Hezbollah identified and captured a number of the U.S. spies, officials told The Associated Press.

    Hezbollah’s longtime leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, boasted on television in June that he had rooted out at least two CIA spies who had infiltrated the ranks of Hezbollah, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group closely allied with Iran. Though the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon officially denied the accusation, current and former officials concede that it happened and the damage has spread even further.

    According to a report by ABC News, there were two distinct espionage rings targeting Iran and Hezbollah in which spies were recruited by the CIA.

    Current and former U.S. officials said the two different spy rings were discovered separately but both caused a significant setback in U.S. efforts to track Iran's nuclear activities and Hezbollah actions against Israel.

    ABC reported that according to U.S. officials, the CIA used the codeword "Pizza" when discussing where to meet with the informants.

    Other former officials said CIA case officers met several Lebanese informants at a local Beirut Pizza Hut branch, which helped Hezbollah identify the spies helping the CIA.

    U.S. officials, however, deny any allegations that their agents were compromised at Pizza Hut, ABC reported.

    In recent months, CIA officials have secretly been scrambling to protect their remaining spies — foreign assets or agents working for the agency — before Hezbollah can find them.

    To be sure, some deaths are to be expected in shadowy spy wars. It’s an extremely risky business and people get killed. But the damage to the agency’s spy network in Lebanon has been greater than usual, several former and current U.S. officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about security matters.

    The Lebanon crisis is the latest mishap involving CIA counterintelligence, the undermining or manipulating of the enemy’s ability to gather information. Former CIA officials have said that once-essential skill has been eroded as the agency shifted from outmaneuvering rival spy agencies to fighting terrorists. In the rush for immediate results, former officers say, tradecraft has suffered.

    The most recent high-profile example was the suicide bomber who posed as an informant and killed seven CIA employees and wounded six others in Khost, Afghanistan in December 2009.

    Last year, then-CIA director Leon Panetta said the agency had to maintain “a greater awareness of counterintelligence.” But eight months later, Nasrallah let the world know he had bested the CIA, demonstrating that the agency still struggles with this critical aspect of spying and sending a message to those who would betray Hezbollah.

    The CIA was well aware the spies were vulnerable in Lebanon. CIA officials were warned, including the chief of the unit that supervises Hezbollah operations from CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., and the head of counterintelligence. It remains unclear whether anyone has been or will be held accountable in the wake of this counterintelligence disaster or whether the incident will affect the CIA’s ability to recruit assets in Lebanon.

    In response to AP’s questions about what happened in Lebanon, a U.S. official said Hezbollah is recognized as a complicated enemy responsible for killing more Americans than any other terrorist group before September 2001. The agency does not underestimate the organization, the official said.

    The CIA’s toughest adversaries, like Hezbollah and Iran, have for years been improving their ability to hunt spies, relying on patience and guile to exploit counterintelligence holes.

    In 2007, for instance, when Ali-Reza Asgari, a brigadier general in the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps of Iran, disappeared in Turkey, it was assumed that he was either killed or defected. In response, the Iranian government began a painstaking review of foreign travel by its citizens, particularly to places like Turkey where Iranians don’t need a visa and could meet with foreign intelligence services.

    It didn’t take long, a Western intelligence official told the AP, before the U.S., Britain and Israel began losing contact with some of their Iranian spies.

    The State Department last year described Hezbollah as “the most technically capable terrorist group in the world,” and the Defense Department estimates it receives between $100 million and $200 million per year in funding from Iran.

    Backed by Iran, Hezbollah has built a professional counterintelligence apparatus that Nasrallah — whom the U.S. government designated an international terrorist a decade ago — proudly describes as the “spy combat unit.” U.S. intelligence officials believe the unit, which is considered formidable and ruthless, went operational in about 2004.

    Using the latest commercial software, Nasrallah’s spy-hunters unit began methodically searching for spies in Hezbollah’s midst. To find them, U.S. officials said, Hezbollah examined cellphone data looking for anomalies. The analysis identified cellphones that, for instance, were used rarely or always from specific locations and only for a short period of time. Then it came down to old-fashioned, shoe-leather detective work: Who in that area had information that might be worth selling to the enemy?

    The effort took years but eventually Hezbollah, and later the Lebanese government, began making arrests. By one estimate, 100 Israeli assets were apprehended as the news made headlines across the region in 2009. Some of those suspected Israeli spies worked for telecommunications companies and served in the military.

    Back at CIA headquarters, the arrests alarmed senior officials. The agency prepared a study on its own vulnerabilities, U.S. officials said, and the results proved to be prescient.

    The analysis concluded that the CIA was susceptible to the same analysis that had compromised the Israelis, the officials said.

    CIA managers were instructed to be extra careful about handling sources in Lebanon. A U.S. official said recommendations were issued to counter the potential problem.

    But it’s unclear what preventive measures were taken by the Hezbollah unit chief or the officer in charge of the Beirut station. Former officials say the Hezbollah unit chief is no stranger to the necessity of counterintelligence and knew the risks. The unit chief has worked overseas in hostile environments like Afghanistan and played an important role in the capture of a top terrorist while stationed in the Persian Gulf region after the attacks of 9/11.

    “We’ve lost a lot of people in Beirut over the years, so everyone should know the drill,” said a former Middle East case officer familiar with the situation.

    But whatever actions the CIA took, they were not enough. Like the Israelis, bad tradecraft doomed these CIA assets and the agency ultimately failed to protect them, an official said. In some instances, CIA officers fell into predictable patterns when meeting their sources, the official said.

    This allowed Hezbollah to identify assets and case officers and unravel at least part of the CIA’s spy network in Lebanon. There was also a reluctance to share cases and some files were put in “restricted handling.” The designation severely limits the number of people who know the identity of the source but also reduces the number of experts who could spot problems that might lead to their discovery, officials said.

    Nasrallah’s televised announcement in June was followed by finger-pointing among departments inside the CIA as the spy agency tried figure out what went wrong and contain the damage.

    The fate of these CIA assets is unknown. Hezbollah treats spies differently, said Matthew Levitt, a counterterrorism and intelligence expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Studies who’s writing a book about the terrorist organization

    “It all depends on who these guys were and what they have to say,” Levitt said. “Hezbollah has disappeared people before. Others they have kept around.”

    Who’s responsible for the mess in Lebanon? It’s not clear. The chief of Hezbollah operations at CIA headquarters continues to run the unit that also focuses on Iranians and Palestinians. The CIA’s top counterintelligence officer, who was one of the most senior women in the clandestine service, recently retired after approximately five years in the job. She is credited with some important cases, including the recent arrests of Russian spies who had been living in the U.S. for years.

    Officials said the woman was succeeded by a more experienced operations officer. That officer has held important posts in Moscow, Southeast Asia, Europe and the Balkans, important frontlines of the agency’s spy wars with foreign intelligence services and terrorist organizations.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    Hawaiian singer surprises Obama summit with ‘Occupy’ song

    A popular Hawaiian recording artist turned a top-security dinner of Pacific Rim leaders hosted by President Barack Obama into a subtle protest with a song in support of the “Occupy” movement.

    Makana, who goes by one name, was enlisted to play a luau, or Hawaiian feast, Saturday night for leaders assembled in Obama’s birthplace Honolulu for an annual summit that is formulating plans for a Pacific free-trade pact.

    But in the midst of the dinner on the resort strip Waikiki Beach, he pulled open his jacket to reveal a T-shirt that read “Occupy with Aloha,” using the Hawaiian word whose various meanings include love and peace. He then sang a marathon version of his new song “We Are The Many.”

    “I was pretty nervous. In fact I was terrified. I kept thinking ‘what are the consequences going to be?’” Makana, 33, told AFP.

    “It was incredibly comical. I was terrified but also enjoying it,” he said.

    Makana, who was born Matthew Swalinkavich, said the song prompted awkward stares from a few of those present but the Obamas appeared too absorbed with their guests to notice what was happening.

    The performance occurred at a dinner for summit participants from 21 economies around the Asia-Pacific, including Chinese President Hu Jintao and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, amid a security lockdown in Waikiki.

    As Makana sang, about 400 protesters including anti-globalization and native Hawaiian rights activists staged a protest march toward the dinner site but turned back after encountering the smothering security.

    Makana released the song on the Internet the day before and decided to play it at the urging of fans, he said.

    Inspired by the anti-capitalist [sic] movement that began with the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstrations in New York, it denounces Washington politicians, corporate greed and what he sees as an unfair American economic system.

    The song features the refrain, “We’ll occupy the streets, we’ll occupy the courts, we’ll occupy the offices of you, till you do the bidding of the many, not the few.”

    He sang it “over and over” for 40 minutes, varying his tempo and delivery to avoid triggering an overt reaction.

    “Whenever I felt the heat might come down, I would ease off. It was a very careful procedure,” he said.

    We Are The Many

    Ye come here, gather 'round the stage
    The time has come for us to voice our rage
    Against the ones who've trapped us in a cage
    To steal from us the value of our wage

    From underneath the vestiture of law
    The lobbyists at Washington do gnaw
    At liberty, the bureaucrats guffaw
    And until they are purged, we won't withdraw

    We'll occupy the streets
    We'll occupy the courts
    We'll occupy the offices of you
    Till you do
    The bidding of the many, not the few

    Our nation was built upon the right
    Of every person to improve their plight
    But laws of this Republic they rewrite
    And now a few own everything in sight

    They own it free of liability
    They own, but they are not like you and me
    Their influence dictates legality
    And until they are stopped we are not free

    We'll occupy the streets
    We'll occupy the courts
    We'll occupy the offices of you
    Till you do
    The bidding of the many, not the few

    You enforce your monopolies with guns
    While sacrificing our daughters and sons
    But certain things belong to everyone
    Your thievery has left the people none

    So take heed of our notice to redress
    We have little to lose, we must confess
    Your empty words do leave us unimpressed
    A growing number join us in protest

    We occupy the streets
    We occupy the courts
    We occupy the offices of you
    Till you do
    The bidding of the many, not the few

    You can't divide us into sides
    And from our gaze, you cannot hide
    Denial serves to amplify
    And our allegiance you can't buy

    Our government is not for sale
    The banks do not deserve a bail
    We will not reward those who fail
    We will not move till we prevail

    We'll occupy the streets
    We'll occupy the courts
    We'll occupy the offices of you
    Till you do
    The bidding of the many, not the few

    We'll occupy the streets
    We'll occupy the courts
    We'll occupy the offices of you
    Till you do
    The bidding of the many, not the few

    We are the many
    You are the few

    Download song for free here:

    Comment: David Rovics also composed a beautiful song on the same topic:

    Occupy Wall Street (We're Gonna Stay Right Here)

    Because this is where they buy the politicians
    Because this is where power has its seat
    Because ninety-nine percent of us are suffering
    At the mercy of the madmen on this street
    Because all of us are victims of class warfare
    Being waged on us by the one percent
    Because these greedy banksters rob the country
    Leaving us without the means to pay the rent
    Because the last time that we had a decent government
    Was about 1932
    Because we the people are supposed to run the country
    But instead it's all run by and for the few
    Because now we know the rich do not pay taxes
    But when they need a hand it's us who bail them out
    Because we suspected we lived in a plutocracy
    But suddenly of late there is no doubt

    And so we're gonna stay right here (2x)

    Because both my parents lost their savings
    Because I have never opened an account
    Because the interest on my credit card just doubled
    And now I can't pay the minimum amount
    Because these budget cuts are just immoral
    With our schools as overcrowded as they are
    Because there are no buses where I live
    But I can't afford to drive a car
    Because so many of us don't have health insurance
    The rest of us have it but it sucks
    Because the rich are riding in their private jets
    While the rest of us are slogging through the muck
    Because capitalism isn't working
    This system has just failed to produce
    Because the one percent is prospering
    While the rest of us just suffer their abuse

    Because it has been demonstrated amply
    That the winners are the ones who stick around
    Because this world should belong to everyone
    Not just the banksters who would smash it to the ground
    Because we've noticed voting doesn't change things
    When the politicians are mostly millionaires
    Because we're learning how to stand up like Tunisians
    Like they did in Tahrir Square
    Where a young man named Mohamed Bouazizi
    Struck a match that lit up all the Earth
    And all around the world the spell was broken
    And a movement for the future was in birth
    Because there's only so much shit the rich can feed us
    Before we figure out which side we're on
    Because we've learned if we want our liberation
    It will come only if we stay here til the rising of the dawn

    Because corporations are not people
    And we can't just let them choose
    Because if we leave our fate to them
    Then all of us will surely lose
    Because the climate clock is ticking
    And we can't just leave our world behind
    Because corporate rule isn't working
    And it's time for humans' hearts and minds
    Because you can't take it with you
    Because the rich just do not care
    Because it doesn't matter how much you make
    But how much you can share
    Because these moments don't come often
    Because we want truly to be free
    Because we know what really matters
    Something called society

    One soul at a time, the realization that 'enough is enough' is gradually making its way into the USA.

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Speech of Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah on the occasion of the Martyr's Day

    In the Name of Allah, The Compassionate, The Most Merciful. Praise be to Allah, The Lord of the World. Peace be on our Master and Prophet – The Seal of Prophets – Mohammad and on his Chaste Household, chosen companions and all prophets and messengers. Peace be upon you and Allah's mercy and blessing.

    First we salute the chaste and fragranced souls of the martyrs and offer them the reward of reciting Al Fatiha Surah.

    On this very day every year we meet under the banner and title of martyrs. It's the day which Hezbollah chose from the beginning as the day of Hezbollah martyr. It goes without saying that every faction from the resistance factions, every movement from the resistance movements and every people from the resistance peoples in the region have their martyrs who belong to their special framework and have the right to mark their day. In fact, marking the Martyr's Day is a kind of compensation for not holding an annual anniversary for every martyr at a time, as traditions go at times. We hope a day will come in which the Lebanese state endorses a Day for the Martyr of the Nation – a day for all martyrs from the various resistance movements and factions, the Army, the security forces, the political forces as well as the martyrs from among the Lebanese people so that it be a comprehensive national holiday.

    First and before talking about the martyr of Hezbollah, I must bend in a show of respect and esteem to all our brethren martyrs in the other resistance movements and factions whom we respect their efforts, offerings and true participation in liberating Lebanon, in defending Lebanon and in achieving all the targets which were achieved so far.

    As usual, first I would like to say that I will have a word about martyrs on the Martyr's Day and about the resistance. This is the first topic. I have a word about the local internal Lebanese situation and I have a word on the regional situation.

    On the Martyr's Day, it goes without saying that we salute all Hezbollah martyrs who comprise leaders including the Secretary General Sayyed Abbass, Sheikh Raghab and Leader Martyr Hajj Imad, and an assembly of cadres and leaderships of the Islamic Resistance, the great self-martyrs whom self-martyr Ahmad Qasir commenced their era and track and all the martyr fighters including resistance men, men, women, children, infants and elderly. We salute this great assembly which exceeded thousands of martyrs from a group who believed in this track, was a part of its country and people, was a part of its nation, shouldered the concerns of its nation, chose the righteous way and offered in this path in which they believed and for the cause they believed in this great generous honorable assembly of martyrs.

    Indeed electing this day - November 11 – of every year is for the well known occasion of the operation staged by self-martyr Ahmad Qasir in Tyr which targeted the headquarters of the Israeli military ruler. This operation is still for this very day extraordinary as compared to all other operations held by the resistance. It is still till this very day also the greatest, hugest and most important operation in the history of the Arab-Israeli struggle pursuant to the magnitude of losses which were afflicted on the enemy on the hand of one martyr and in one moment. The enemy acknowledged the fall of more than 120, 130 or 140 casualties. Let's be precautious and say the enemy acknowledged the fall of more than 100 officers and soldiers. The officers included senior generals. The magnitude of casualties which afflicted the enemy besides the moral and psychological losses and the moral, psychological and political repercussions on the front of the enemy and on the national front were very great. This operation was as well an early announcement of the defeat which was awaiting the enemy. I am one of the people who never forget Sharon's wretched, depressed face as he stood on the ruins of the Israeli military ruler headquarters in Tyr. This operation is also a founding operation in the history of the resistance. It is the first self-martyrdom operation of its kind in the history of the Arab-Israeli struggle: a self-martyr breaks in his booby-trapped-car into the military headquarters and detonates himself inside the headquarters. This happens for the first time. Thus we call martyr Ahmad the commencer of the era of self-martyrs. Thus also he fairly deserves the title of the Prince of Self-martyrs. That's because the prince is not the one who sits in the rear end. He is rather the one who heads the group of fighters and martyrs. Because he was in the vanguard and because he was the pioneer, he was the prince. Notice also the early timing of the operation. It comes very few months only following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and the illusion some in Lebanon and the region nurtured that Lebanon absolutely ushered in the Israeli era and that we have to act accordingly. The operation of self-martyr Ahmad Qasir was to say: No, this is another era and another time. It is the time of the resistance, self-martyrs and upcoming victories.

    Brothers and sisters! This year our brethrens chose "The Day of Life" as a title for the Martyr's Day. This title is absolutely true. It is even among the truest names. That is first because the martyrs are alive. The martyrs are alive. It's not I who say so. Allah Al Mighty who creates life and death says so: {Think not of those who are slain in ALLAH's way as dead. Nay, they live, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord}. So they live and find their sustenance in the presence of their Lord. Now they live and find their sustenance from all what they wish for. {They rejoice in the bounty provided by ALLAH: and with regard to those left behind, who have not yet joined them}. They are those who are still here and are still waiting and who still keep their oath. They are in the mind of every martyr who joined the highest status and who are holding good tidings of those who are carrying on the way. {And say not of those who are slain in the way of ALLAH: they are dead. Nay, they are living, though ye perceive it not.}

    Second that's because they gave us life. What life they gave us? They gave us the honorable, revered life. That's because they offered our people and nation honor, sovereignty, esteem, security, liberty and a feeling of confidence and reassurance for the present and the future. This is the true life which every man looks forward to. This is the school of great Islam which gives us another concept about life and tells us the life is in your death while being victorious and death is in your life while being defeated. So following 1982, the Zionists occupied half of Lebanon and wanted to have hegemony on all of Lebanon. Their tanks, troop carriers and soldiers used to move at ease in the country. They used to move along the shore of Lebanon with utmost peace. Have the Lebanese agreed to live, eat and drink while their land was occupied, their dignities violated, their youths and women dragged with humiliation to prisons, their freedom confiscated, and their fate cast in the unknown – that means have they accepted to live a life of humiliation, disgrace and submission - would that be called life? Never! This is death in the shape of life. So those martyrs are the makers of life under the will of Allah Al Mighty. Allah Al Mighty puts natural reasons for the materialistic life and He puts reasons that lead to the moral, humanistic true life. Thus were jihad, martyrdom and the will of the steadfast and the firm resistance fighters the reasons leading to this life. These martyrs are the outcome of believing in Allah and the Hereafter. They are the outcome of knowledge. They are the people of knowledge - knowing the goal, knowing the righteous path that leads to the goal, knowing the enemy and the friend, knowing the priorities and knowing time and place. This is what we call insight. When man moves along while having insight, when man owns insight, this is insight. They are also the people of determination, will, firmness and courage. We all remember the first days of confronting the occupation. The whole world was on the side of Israel. Morals were down, and misery was prevailing. Frustration was dominating over minds and hearts. Still the resistance fighters stood in face of Israel. The Commander of Believers Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) says a word which is held in the soul of every member of this resistance. Imam Ali (Peace be upon him) says: By God, if I met them all by myself – I was alone – and they were as numerous to fill the entire world, I would never have cared or felt scared. This is the essence of resistance fighters in Lebanon. They never felt scared for the lack of supporters and backers. They never felt scared for the abundance of the enemy, the supporters and the backers of the enemy and the bargainers on the enemy. Everyone of them used to stand and tell the Zionists and the Americans and the multinational forces: By God, if I met you all by myself and you were as numerous to fill the entire world, I would never have cared or felt scared.

    These are the people of determination and the people of love, passion and yearning. Imam Ali (peace be upon him) carries on saying: I long to meet my Lord and wait for His good rewards. These are the passionate lovers of Allah who yearn to meet Him. Thus they used to look and still eye the most distant among the enemy and not their foot steps. They look to the end of all ends. This concept also explains for us precisely the true reason for victory in July War. Neither the arms, the tactics, the plotting, the administration nor all the available means were to enable Lebanon and the resistance to gain victory was it not for those men who remained steadfast and never felt scared, weak, submitted or ran away. Thus they remain from this school of martyrs and this school of resistance. Today we live in peace in Lebanon. We feel at peace for the first time since the establishment of the usurping Israeli entity in 1948. Brothers and sisters! It is not easy to live in a country in the neighborhood of a ferocious, wild, covetous, devious monster. How can man feel reassured about his people and their blood, honor, dignity and future in the neighborhood of a racial aggressive entity of this kind? Today and for the first time, Lebanon and southern Lebanon in particular feel at ease and reassured, calm, secure and confident. Weeks ago I was reading a text for His Eminence Leader Sayyed Mussa Assader (May Allah return him and both his friends sound and safe) All his adorers are living now special emotional days while awaiting the outcome of the efforts to restore the Imam and both his friends to Lebanon Inshallah. The text was published lately. It was said during a private session in 1978 prior to the Israeli invasion of the south in 1978. During a private session with the brethren cadres in Amal Movement he was saying that he was feeling great pain and sorrow for what the south and the people of the south are suffering from. It's the south which has turned to a scapegoat. It's the south which is aggressed by Israel which demolishes its houses and towns in Kfar Shouba and other towns and which displaces its peoples whenever it wants. It's the south which does not feel at peace. It's the bleeding south. He was talking with a burning heart and saying unfortunately Lebanon is weak. The south is weak. Because Lebanon and the south and we are all weak in Lebanon, the enemy acts according to its will. It stages aggressions whenever it wants. He was talking with a burning heart. He used to say that many are unconcerned about what was taking place in the south and did not listen to all the calls and the cries which were made. As I was reading these words for Imam Sader, I directly told him in my mind: Your Eminence! When you return Inshallah, you will be proud of your children, dear ones, pupils and followers. You will be proud of all their friends and allies. You will be proud of the resistance which you set its foundations, called and offered sacrifices so that it be established on the land of Lebanon and on the land of southern Lebanon. This south is today secure, appeased, firm and steadfast. It is not a scapegoat anymore. It is rather forcefully present in the regional equation as well.

    Today and hereof I usher to the political issue, as for any possibility of any new Israeli aggression, war or attack against Lebanon, and despite all what is said in some articles and analyses, I believe that all what is said comes in the framework of intimidation. We still rule out the Israeli enemy staging such an aggression against Lebanon apart from the events taking place in the region and the regional situation which I will refer to in a while. So if there is no scheme for a war on the level of the region, we rule out a scheme for an imminent war against Lebanon. The reason for such a ruling out is not Israeli generosity, American kindness or the kindhearted international community. It is rather for a very simple reason. It is that Lebanon is not weak anymore. Lebanon has become a strong country. Lebanon with its army, people and resistance has become able to defend itself and to inflict defeat on the aggressor also. Even more, Lebanon has become in the post in which it can turn the table on the aggressor and turn the threat to a true opportunity.

    Indeed when this force retreats, becomes weak or retreats – God forbids – Israel might reconsider staging an aggression or a war against Lebanon or having control over Lebanon again. However as long as this belief, insight and will are valid and this golden trio is integrated, Israel will remain too weak to take a move and wage a war. Now if one day Israel would wage a war, it will be the war of no other choice. It will be the final adventure in the life of this entity. Indeed, here I would like to stress on the following: At the time in which on the level of reading and analyzing we rule out an Israeli war of such kind on Lebanon - apart from the situation in the region as I said - that did not lead us to be dormant. Never! I would like to stress that this resistance was never dormant. Since 1982 – the age of Ahmad Qasir – it never was dormant. In 2000, when the great victory took place in May 25th, it was not dormant. In May 26th, 2000, it did not become dormant. It rather remained vigilant and industrious. It worked to got prepared. That's because its people and country are in the neighborhood of such an enemy. In 2006 and precisely since August 15th 2006 till this very day, this resistance never was dormant. I quote also a word for the Prince of Believers (Peace be upon him) in which he says: The man who is in a state of war must be vigilant and sleepless. So even if some say Lebanon is in a truce which is not acknowledged by Israel. Thus there is war. Note that Israel did not reach pursuant to Resolution 1701 which is still called for up till now to a ceasefire. There is a cease of operations. The resistance in Lebanon is as such. It is vigilant and sleepless. He (Peace be upon him) carries on saying: Who falls asleep is not ignored. So even if some in Lebanon went to sleep, is the Israeli Army asleep? The Israelis since 2006 up till today are carrying on exercises, practicing, arming, manufacturing and maneuvering. On the other side, there is a sleepless enemy. So how are we to sleep? Imam Ali (pbuh) says: Who falls asleep is not ignored, who becomes weak is preyed and who abandons jihad becomes like the aggrieved despised man. I tell those who feel despair but are not desperate – meaning those who from inside become desperate but in their political speech they are not desperate: When you call on our people and our resistance to abandon their weapon, you are calling on us to be the humble aggrieved and the despised man who did not benefit from all the experiences he went through and handed in the dignity of his people and nation to the most horrible enemy ever known in history which is Israel. Thus we on the Martyr's Day call to adhering to the Resistance, the Army and the will of the people because they are the elements of power.

    Hereof I usher to the local situation with quick topics. As for the government, it has proven so far that it is a government of diversity. It is a diversified government in which true and essential political forces are represented. It is a government which represents the popular and parliamentary majority. It is a government of discussion, dialogue and conversation. It is not the government of a mono-decision. It is not an authoritative government. It is a government whose members make discussions before taking decisions. They do not receive any sms from Feltman, the French Embassy, Denis Ross and Terry Rhode Larsen - that man whom we do not love and who is supervisor of Resolution 1559. So it does not receive any signs or indications from anyone. It is a true national government. This government is called upon today for more work and achievements, seriousness and following up of the various files. It is also invited against listening to all the uproar aroused here and there to divert the government to baseless illusionary causes.

    The most important point is that the government gives the absolute importance to the living, social and economic interests of the people and their worries. There are important issues to be tackled by the government: decisively settling the minimum wages, salaries of the laborers, the public sector and the teachers, the issue of gas and fuel (This is an event of great importance as we approach the end of the year), the issue of power, water, health insurance, administrative appointments. There are very crucial files which do not need any funding. We give as an example administrative appointments that make administrations complete and able to take action and make achievements. That does not need funding, budgets and additional taxes. This is a true defect in the country. Completing the administrations spares the citizens much effort and difficulties. As an example, we mention making haste in forming Hermel Province, Akkar Province as well as the provinces which do not fulfill their obligations towards their residences because of the great administrative vacancy. There are tens of thousands of wanted pursuant to warrantees for tens of years. At times, warrants are issued for trivial causes. This issue might be discussed because then it lessens the burden on the security forces. Well for example security forces officials say there are 30 or 40 thousand arrest warrants in one province only. Now after scrutiny, it becomes clear that the reasons of most of the arrest warrants are trivial and might be tolerated. Addressing this issue whether by the government or the parliament helps is solving this problem.

    There is a kind of humanistic causes which must be approached in a humanistic way. A step was taken days ago in the Parliament pertaining to the file which every one calls as it appeals to him and we call the file of those who fled to Israel. There have been several interpretations. We were among those who backed the suggestion presented in the Parliament, and we were at harmony with ourselves because this concept was mentioned in the Agreement inked between us and the Free National Party in 2006 and we live up to our promises. Indeed the government is concerned in making haste in issuing the decrees and addressing this issue within the limits voted on in the parliament. The background of addressing this file is humanistic. However allow me to remind you. Some say why you always remind us. That's because some people said these people ran away because massacres were perpetrated or they were afraid of massacres being perpetrated back in 2000. Indeed then some people were spellbound. They did not know what to do because their bargains were lost with the withdrawal in May 25th, 2000. Some were not given birth yet or were still infants. So they need to be reminded that in May 25th, 2000 no one was killed. The liberation was made and no one was killed whether from Antoine Lahd group or from among the civilians; rather martyrs from the resistance fell. Still no one was killed. No massacre was perpetrated. No house or warship place was demolished. No one's dignity was violated. The collaborators who were arrested were directly handed to the Lebanese Justice which we know how it dealt with them. I also believe that those who fled to Israel – indeed it was their right to flee because the circumstances which prevailed then helped in taking this decision. I also add that some know what they have committed. So it was natural that they flee. However, after they witnessed the civilized, moral, humanistic scene of how the resistance with all its factions and the people of the south whose children were killed and honor was aggressed in Khiam Detention Center dealt with the collaborators and their families and later on how the Lebanese Justice dealt with them, I believe that many of them felt remorse for fleeing. However, it was over. They already took the wrong choice. Anyway, I only want to remind some of those "heroes" that no massacres or killings or aggressions were perpetrated. Let them go back to history for it seems that they have already forgotten what took place 11 years ago and are changing history. In fact, they daily change history and distort facts. So it is indispensable of reminding them of that.

    So the government is concerned in carrying on its efforts and we will support and back it as this government is diversified and national.

    As for the security situation, we call on everyone to preserve national security because this is an essential condition for everything. It is the condition for political and economic security, calmness, health… In this framework, I also call on some political sides and media outlets against exaggerating the individual incidents that take place here as they take place in any place around the world. I also call on them to make sure of the data and information before issuing statements which later on it would be proven that they are based on baseless information.

    In this framework also we call for keeping the Lebanese Army Institution aside. Indeed we stress on keeping all the security forces aside as possible but I stress on the priority of keeping the Lebanese Army Institution aside as it is a guarantying institution for sovereignty, national unity and security. All the tough and painful experiences which Lebanon and the Lebanese people have passed through have proven that after the collapse of everything, the disintegration of everything and the loss of everything, this institution would always be the saving rod. There is no problem in arguing in politics. There is no problem in arguing with us, with the government, with the state and with the parliament. However, let's keep the Army Institution aside. Let's keep it aside and guard it and its national post and image because as such we will be acting with a national background.

    I have one more word as far as the internal situation is concerned. It is funding the STL. Indeed we said this issue will be discussed in the government but what happened calls on us to have a short pose. It is what happened with the UNESCO. It is beneficiary that the Lebanese, the Arab and international public opinion pay attention to this point. The UNESCO is an organization which is concerned in the educational affairs. This organization acknowledged the state of Palestine as it happened that the right to veto was invalid. So it acknowledged the state of Palestine. However, which state of Palestine it acknowledged? It's not the state of Palestine from the sea to the river; however, a part of Palestine which is within the borders of 1967. This is what it acknowledged. It is also not known whether Palestine within the borders of 1967 on which later the state of Palestine will be negotiated or is being negotiated now. Well the USA got angry because this educational international organization gave the Palestinian people some of their rights and not all of their rights. Thus it condemned the stance taken by the UNESCO and consequently it condemned all those who voted for the interest of the state of Palestine. Then it took a measure and stopped funding without prior notice. Now the UNESCO announced that it will freeze all its programs till the end of 2011.

    Here I would like to point out that the UNESCO is an organization which is internationally acknowledged. It is an international organization which wasn't acknowledged under "Bosh-Chirac". It was not formed via legal or constitutional smuggling as is the case of the STL. On the other hand, its work carries on or stops according to its funding. It was established pursuant to a rightful, fair and just resolution and it must carry its mission. The US government took this decision. Wasn't funding the UNESCO a commitment made by the US administration? Isn't this among its international commitments? Why the US administration has the right and why is it allowed to get disengaged from its international commitments and Lebanon does not have the right to do so that is if there is a commitment in fact? Some people were cautious and said that this affects the STL. They made statements that bear several meanings. However, most of March 14 Bloc members did not comment on that. America has the right not only to stop funding the UNESCO but also to destroy and ruin the UNESCO because it stood by the people of Palestine. However Lebanon does not have the right to do so. Even more if it stopped funding the unconstitutional illegal tribunal which we all by now know its biography, conduct and goals and there is no need to reiterate them, Jeffrey Feltman – see the insolence – and following the US decision to stop funding the UNESCO threatens Lebanon by sanctions. This unmasks the US administration and exposes the US allies in the world and the US allies in Lebanon.

    In all cases, before this scandal, PM Fouad Saniora provided a way out to the Americans and to preserve the UNESCO. This is according to the media. So I will read what was written: PM Saniora submitted the way out that protects the UNESCO from US sanctions. PM Saniora called on the Arab League and Arab kings and presidents and the friendly Islamic and western nations to take the initiative to collect and pay the amounts the US and Israel were to pay. According to Saniora, in this move it would be simple to frustrate the Israeli blackmail and the US pressure and intimidation of hegemony. Now apart from condemning America, imposing sanctions on it, boycotting it or raising a finger in its face – as that has to do with people and their minds, bravery, united norms or double standards – I want to go for this way out. PM Saniora presented a nice way out. Let it be adopted with the government of PM Mikati. Let PM Mikati and his government alone. Go for the Arab League (This case does not even need that.) The Arab kings and presidents and the Islamic states and the western states are concerned about funding the STL with 50 or 60 million dollars. There is an Arab prince who can do without some parties in London or Paris and pay this amount to the STL so that the country will be spared this dilemma. The battle has been taking place for one month or two or three. Accusations are made against PM Mikati. Well the man is convinced in what he says. They are accusing the government of great massacres saying the Lebanese economy will be destroyed and Lebanon will be isolated internationally. If you love Lebanon and care for Lebanon and want its salvation and security whereas we are that much stubborn while you are open-minded and advocate dialogue, well this is a way out. Accept for the STL what you accept for the UNESCO, though the UNESCO was fair with a people while the STL is aggressing against another. Still this is a way out which you can adopt. So trust in God and go for it and let PM Mikati sleep soundly.

    Today the First or the second chamber in the STL are meeting and discussing trial in abstentia. I will not comment on that because we started acting with this tribunal as if it does not exist. We will not waste your time.

    I will usher via the last point pertaining to the local situation into the regional situation. It is an advice to all the political forces in Lebanon. Let's take care of our country and address its crises and files in the government, in the Parliament and on the dialogue table. In whatever position you are, let's give Lebanon the priority and leave bargaining on what's abroad and on the regional developments. That's because some in Lebanon bargain on the regional developments. In one of my previous speeches, I talked about five bargains made in five years and I will not reiterate. So don't bother yourself again. I tell those who pull off dealing with files, making their choices or building hopes and illusions on one thing which is the collapse of the regime of President Bashar Assad in Syria: Put this bargain aside. I also tell them this bargain will flop as all the previous bargains collapsed. So do not waste your time. Go again for thinking of Lebanon and the nation. It is strange that some people raise the slogan of "Lebanon first" except in bargains where Lebanon comes last. Bargain on Lebanon first, on the Lebanese first, on the capacities of Lebanon first, on the minds, will, dialogue and cooperation of the Lebanese. I have this advice as far as the local situation is concerned.

    As for the regional situation, there is not enough time to tackle the regional situation and the Arab situation as a whole. However what was most important in the past few days is the development pertaining to Iran and Syria, the Israeli, US and western threats and reopening the Iranian nuclear file.

    We have witnessed in the past few days an escalation in threats which took place suddenly and without prior notice. The possibility of the Israeli enemy striking Iranian nuclear edifices was forcefully put forth. The snowball was rolling politically and in the media. Statements were made. Threats escalated as well as stances. Indeed the leadership in the Islamic Republic in Iran responded in a decisive and final way. The clearest and highest ceiling was what His Eminence Sayyed Khamenai (May Allah prolong his lifespan) said yesterday. In fact what he said was the essential fact and reality. Iran is strong in its army, guards, mobilization, people, unity, belief and determination. Iran will never be frightened by intimidations and fleets. The US fleets and armies occupied the entire area in the neighborhood of Iran. US troops are present today in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, the Gulf, the Gulf States and the Gulf waters. Still Iran did not feel weak. Its determination did not wane. It did not submit to any conditions. It was never dragged to direct negotiations with the Americans. So neither intimidations nor fleets could touch on the determination, will and the decision of the leadership and the people of Iran. This is final.

    Let's talk about this event for a while. Is it possible that things move in that direction? How might we understand what is taking place? If we go a bit to the backgrounds, here I would like to talk about Iran and Syria together. We must never forget first that from today to the end of the year, there is a US pullout from Iraq and a great defeat to the US project.

    In 2000, some people showed out to say that the resistance in Lebanon did not gain victory. It's only that Israel pulled out. This is an agreement made under the table. This is all baseless. Some people will show out now and say that America took the decision to withdraw. America came and bore this enormous magnitude of humanistic, financial and economic casualties, this great collapse in its economy and treasure. Is it possible to say that it simply wants to get out of Iraq? The answer is indeed no. America which will pull out of Iraq and America which is defeated in Iraq must do something. First how do countries usually withdraw? Some withdraw under true fire. However, America is not able to pull out under military fire. Thus it wants to make smoke, dust and a fog so that it pulls out under political and media fire. This is called practicing intimidation against the region, a war against the region and an aggression on Iran and Syria so that the attention of the whole world and the whole region and its peoples be focused on this kind of expectations and events. Thus the news of the US withdrawal and the US defeat in Iraq be an ordinary piece of news if not ignored. So it will not be anymore in the headlines. Here the responsibility of all the political leaderships and the media outlets is to focus on this withdrawal and this defeat because it has strategic and historic repercussions and results on all the levels whether moral, psychological, political and military in our region and the future of our region.

    Second, it is normal that the US administration at this timing punish the states that had their influence on inflicting defeat on it and on its project on Iraq. Everyone agrees that the two states which stood on face of the US occupation of Iraq, showed their opposition and supported the people of Iraq, the resistance in Iraq and the steadfastness of the Iraqi people and did not give in to the conditions of Colin Powell or those who succeeded him are Iran and Syria. At the moment of US defeat, distress and frustration, America wants to tell Iran and Syria not to cheer up with their achievement. You will remain under the pressure of intimidation, the sword and the rod will always be raised in your face. It is normal that America acts as such. Imagine that the US will pull out of Iraq and acknowledge its defeat - though the Republicans in America said it is a great defeat – and then allow Iran, Syria, the peoples of the region and all those who backed the Iraqi people and the Iraqi resistance to celebrate this historic victory!

    The third point which we must take into consideration is the changes that took place in our region. Indeed, there is a difference among the elites, the analysts and the readers of events on understanding and reading the events which are taking place in our region. However apart from all of these readings, there is a certain fate. No doubt the collapse of the regime of Zein Al Aabideen Bin Ali is a loss for the US project and the US-western presence in our region. The collapse of the Ghaddafi regime is a loss for it. The collapse of the regime of Husni Mubarak is the greatest loss for America and Israel. So there are changes taking place in the region which are not to the interest of America or Israel. However later on, will the US be able to restore these regimes to its interest this is another point of discussion. However, as far as the track of the great changes in the region are concerned, it is clear that the axis of resistance, opposition and refusal of Israel and the projects of hegemony is growing and gaining more power. This will allow Iran and Syria to gain new allies, advocates and members in this axis. That might mean more power, presence and efficiency. So to make up for the US loss in Tunisia, Libya and especially Egypt, they want to move Syria and Iran to a defensive post so that they get engaged in themselves and their situations, security and economy.

    The fourth and last point is that the US wants to make Iran and Syria submit. It also wants to drag Iran to direct negotiations with the USA. As for collective negotiations, Iran never refused that with the USA. However Iran used to and still refuses bilateral negotiations with the USA. It is demanded that they submit and that Iran be dragged to the table of negotiations. It is demanded that Syria submits so that it accepts what it did not accept in the past. This is the true reason. This is the true background in addition to that the facts which have to do at the mean time with the financial and economic situation in Europe. Italy is following Greece; Portugal is following Italy and the nations are following each other. The head of the International Monetary Fund clearly said yesterday that the international economy is at stake. The financial and economic situation in America is catastrophic and very critical. Imagine that one of the Republican candidates for the US presidential elections - who is supposed to search for popular mottoes or to talk about the Zionist Jewish Lobby and to support it - said that his agenda is to halt all foreign US aids including the aids to Israel. This is an indication of the critical financial and economic situation in the USA. This is on one side. On the other side, Iran is strong, firm, capable and united. It has an unmatched leader. Iran will bring double retaliation on whoever dares to wage a war on it. Today the US Defense Minister treaded on the brakes and moved backwards. He started talking rationally saying that this situation will lead to tension in the region and that our troops and bases are in the Gulf and we do not know where the region is dragged. So they have to understand – and they understand very well – that a war on Iran and a war on Syria will not be limited to Iran or Syria. They will rather spread all over the region. These are rational and real considerations. So we will not threat and let no one threat. Let's put threats aside. Let no one take any position in advance. However this is the truth. This is the status quo. Today more than in any time in the past, the Arab and Islamic states and governments are concerned in taking a decision. See the vainglory and the impudence! Israel which owns military nuclear heads is calling on the world to pressure Iran and it is threatening Iran by striking its peaceful nuclear edifices! What is the reason for this impudence and hegemony? It at times springs from feeling that the other is weak, feeble and disintegrated. Here we tell them: This bargain on weakness and feebleness is a losing bargain. The time of weakness, feebleness and retreat before the Israeli enemy and the US enemy is over. This is the time of belief, knowledge, love, determination and will.

    Today on the Martyr's Day, we stress that since the day of the commencer of the era of self-martyrs – Martyr Ahmad Qasir – since the operation which blackened the faces of the Zionists in Tyr till today and the future, we have ushered into the era of victories and the time of defeat is over. We only have to guard the blood of the martyrs, the goals of the martyrs, the wills of the martyrs, the expectations of the martyrs and to carry on their path. You and we will do that indeed. The martyrs have an oath which we made to them. This oath will not be fulfilled until we follow them. We are really waiting for that. We are faithful in our promise. We have proven in all positions and stages and during all the difficulties and challenges and despite all the threats in the region that today the local, regional and international situations are for the interest of the peoples of the region and the axis of opposition and resistance in the region more than any time in the past according to all norms and standards. Go back to 1982, how was the situation then? Go back to 2006. How was the situation then? Still we gained victory in 1982 and in 2000 and in 2006. In all the upcoming events and as long as we are the people of belief, knowledge, love, will and determination we will gain victory Inshallah.