Showing posts with label ARAB UPSPRINGS. Show all posts
Showing posts with label ARAB UPSPRINGS. Show all posts

Saturday, June 30


Glencore is keeping the marketing rights for the Sarir and Messla crude grades for a third year even though BP and Shell are returning to lift Libyan oil in a sign the country’s industry is perceived as becoming more reliable. One source familiar with the matter said Libya’s state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC) had allocated its 2018 crude and that the contracts would be signed next week. 

With production having steadied at around 1 million barrels per day (bpd) since the middle of last year, Libya, beset by factional fighting, has become a less unstable supplier. However, supply risks remain. One pipeline bringing Es Sider crude to export was recently bombed but swiftly repaired. BP and Shell declined to comment. Spokesmen for Glencore and the NOC did not immediately respond to requests for comment (Last August, Shell directly lifted its first cargo of Libyan crude in five years).

Since the end of 2015, Glencore has been the sole marketer of the Sarir and Messla grades, which are produced in the east of the country and exported via the Hariga port. Glencore was one of the few traders willing to deal with the risks associated with Libya’s unrest, Islamic State intrusions and a crippling port blockade that slashed the country’s output.

Earlier this month, the NOC said it was seeking a prompt restart of the country’s largest refinery at Ras Lanuf, following a resolution to arbitration cases with its operator, Lerco. The refinery, closed since 2013, runs on the grades allocated to Glencore. It was not immediately clear when the refinery would resume operations or what would happen to Glencore’s allocation once it does. 

NOC subsidiary Arabian Gulf Oil Co produces the Sarir and Messla grades. Output has been fluctuating between around 150,000 and 230,000 bpd, its chairman said in early January, below its potential 320,000 bpd owing to power problems.

Other contract winners include Vitol, Total, Unipec, OMV, BB Energy, ENI, API, Cepsa, Socar and Repsol, trading and shipping sources said, largely unchanged from 2017 to June, 2018.

-Shell and BP have agreed annual deals to buy Libyan crude oil. Sources told the news agency that Shell’s deal is the first of its kind since 2013, and that the first cargo of 600,000 barrels will start to be loaded from Zueitina port.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation EAST (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.

Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdus Salam al Badri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) held a series of meetings with a group of global refineries in the Mediterranean area and with a major oil companies last week in London. The first meeting was with BP, followed by meetings with more than 20 partners, customers, Libyan crude refiners and fuel suppliers. BP, which didn’t have a term deal in 2017, has reportedly also reached an agreement for this year.

-The newly-created National Oil Corporation (NOC) loyal to the internationally recognised government in the east of Libya has reportedly invited international oil companies (IOCs) to “discuss legally signed agreements and contracts” at a conference in Dubai next month.

-The Tobruk government set up the rival company – ‘NOC East’ – in Benghazi, but oil buyers are still dealing only with the established NOC in Tripoli. According to Reuters, oil customers have refused to sign any deal with the eastern entity due to legal concerns as geological data to prove ownership of oil reserves are stored at NOC Tripoli. The invitation to a conference on 2nd September was issued by Naji al-Maghrabi, who was recently appointed chairman of the eastern NOC.

-The head the eastern-based National Oil Corporation (NOC) has claimed that his office has signed 29 contracts independently of the Tripoli-based organisation.  Naji al-Maghrabi told Reuters that recent contracts included deals with major states such as Russia and China. Russia is reported to be planning to arm eastern-based strongman General Khalifa Haftar, commander in the Libyan National Army (LNA), who opposes the UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) in Tripoli.

-The Deputy Prime Minister of Libya’s internationally recognized government in Tobruk, Abdussalam Elbadri, told a conference last week in Malta that his government will punish international oil companies (IOCs) that continue to work with the rival administration in Tripoli.

-In parallel, the Chairman of the National Oil Corporation (NOC) based in the East of Libya, Nagi al-Magrabi, told Bloomberg: “We will send letters to all the international companies that operate in Libya asking them to deal with the internationally recognized and legal government. “We will take measures based on their respective replies to the letter. If they continue to decline to cooperate with the legal government, we will stop their loadings once their contracts expire.” Mahdi Khalifa, an NOC board member, said that any oil companies that refuse to cooperate with the government face the risk of legal action.

-Libya’s internationally recognised government has warned companies against dealing with the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation (NOC). Speaking to a press conference of Beida, the head of the House of Representatives (HoR), Abdullah al-Thinni (pictured), said his government is taking further steps to export crude oil from the regions under its control through its locally recognized “NOC”, and away from the Tripoli-based organisation.

-The chairman of the pro-HoR “NOC”, Mabruk Abu Yousef Maraja, warned of the illegality or illegitimacy of dealing with the NOC in Tripoli. He also warned Tripoli not to enter into any contracts or legal actions that would impose any obligations on the Libyan oil sector.

-National Oil Corporation (NOC) Chairman Nuri Berruien [Nuri Balrwin] (pictured), has confirmed that there are to be no new exploration-production sharing agreements (EPSAs) before mid-2014. Answering questions at the end of a conference in London, he added that this would probably be “during a constitutional government”, implying that the current “interim” government is not deemed constitutional enough or does not have the authority or legitimacy to launch an EPSA bidding round, according to Libya Herald. He added that he hoped for a “win-win” situation for both the NOC and the international oil companies, admitting that the current EPSAs had problems for both parties and hoped that the new EPSAs would “encourage long-term development”.

Glencore oil deal in Libya branded worthless by rival government. Internationally recognised regime in Benghazi says commodity firm’s potentially lucrative oil-export deal in Tripoli is with the wrong people. 

Glencore’s deal to export Libyan oil is not worth the paper it is printed on, the commodities company has been told. The Switzerland-based firm agreed last week to buy up to half of Libya’s oil exports from the western division of the National Oil Company in Tripoli, where an Islamist-backed government is based. But the internationally recognised government in Benghazi, in eastern Libya, said Glencore had signed a deal with the wrong people

Nagi Elmagrabi, chairman of the eastern division of the National Oil Company, told Bloomberg that he had written to Glencore asking for an explanation but not yet received a reply. He said that if Glencore had signed a deal with the parallel regime in Tripoli, the Benghazi government could physically prevent Glencore tankers from using Libyan ports. 

The deal in question envisages Glencore loading and finding buyers for crude oil from the Sarir and Messla fields, exported via Tobruk’s Marsa el-Hariga port in the east. The eastern government says it does not recognise any agreement signed with Tripoli.

Finding a way to resolve the impasse could prove particularly lucrative for Glencore, given that Libya’s oil exports have huge potential to increase. Libya was pumping about 1.6m barrels of oil a day before the civil war that ended Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s rule in 2011. 

Production has since slumped to as low as 400,000 barrels a day, although it could be increased if the security situation in Libya improves. Glencore regularly invests in countries where security risks and political turmoil have deterred other investors, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo and Colombia

However, the company is in need of new sources of income, after the economic slowdown in China prompted a slump in global commodity prices, ravaging its share price. The company floated its shares at £5.30 in 2011 but they have since plunged, closing on Monday at 90.42p. 

The firm announced proposals earlier this year to raise £6.6bn in an effort to allay investors’ fears about its £20bn debt pile. The plan includes mine closures, asset sales and a £1.6bn share-placing but has yet to arrest the decline in Glencore’s stock. Glencore declined to comment on its dealings in Libya

Friday, June 29


RAF aircraft bombed a key intelligence building in TRIPOLI and breached the walls of COLONEL GEDDAFI's command complex this weekend, and inflicted further losses on pro-Gaddafi forces massed at Zlitan and Gharyan.

In the early hours of Sunday morning, 24 July, RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft conducted a precision strike on the Central Organisation for Electronic Research (COER). Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Communications Officer, said:

Ostensibly an engineering academy, the COER has, in reality, long been a cover for the regime’s nefarious activities. Up until Colonel Gaddafi’s renunciation of weapons of mass destruction in 2003, the COER was responsible for his long-range missile development programme.

Intensive surveillance by NATO over the past weeks revealed that the building was still being actively used by his security apparatus to repress the civilian population, and was thus a wholly legitimate target.

Also on Sunday morning, other RAF jets successfully attacked two staging posts near Zlitan being used to muster tanks, rocket artillery and ammunition. Later that afternoon, an armed reconnaissance patrol located and destroyed a regime main battle tank near Gharyan, on the edge of the Djebel Nafousa, south of Tripoli.

On Saturday, 23 July, RAF aircraft used precision guided weapons to breach the walls of Colonel Gaddafi’s command complex in central Tripoli.

General Pope said:

Gaddafi has for decades hidden from the Libyan people behind these walls. The vast Bab al-Aziziya compound is not just his personal residence, but, more importantly, is also the main headquarters for his regime, with command and control facilities and an army barracks all part of the same fortified site.

Successive NATO strikes in past weeks have inflicted extensive damage on the military facilities within.

In the early hours of Saturday morning, RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft, supported by allied aircraft, struck the high perimeter walls of the compound, which have for so long been such an unwelcome symbol to the people of Tripoli of Gaddafi’s despotic rule.

Paveway guided bombs scored direct hits in thirteen different places on both the outer and inner perimeter walls along the western side of Bab al-Aziziya. As ever, particular care was taken to ensure no civilian traffic on nearby roads was endangered.

Also on Saturday, RAF jets on patrol near Zlitan successfully struck four buildings which NATO surveillance missions had confirmed were being used as a command and control centre and a staging post for regime troops being mustered for attacks on the people of Libya.

Armed reconnaissance patrols continued in the area throughout the day, and, during Saturday night, RAF aircraft were able to conduct a precision strike on a large ammunition stockpile. In addition, HMS Ocean launched her Army Apache helicopters against a number of military positions between Zlitan and Al Khums, which were successfully engaged using Hellfire missiles.

On Thursday afternoon, 21 July, RAF aircraft patrolling near Zlitan identified and destroyed a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun. During the night, British Army Apache helicopters once again launched a strike mission from HMS Ocean, while other NATO aircraft provided overwatch.

Two buildings being used by regime troops at Al Khums were damaged by Hellfire missiles. This strike was followed up by NATO fixed-wing aircraft in the early hours of Friday morning; RAF jets hit six ammunition storage facilities near Zlitan, and a large building that was being used as a base for multiple rocket launchers threatening Misurata.

In addition, one deployed rocket launcher and two armed trucks were destroyed.

On Friday afternoon, 22 July, further RAF armed reconnaissance patrols successfully engaged one of Gaddafi’s tanks and another armed truck, again near Zlitan.

Throughout these operations, NATO tanker and surveillance assets provided essential support, including RAF VC10, Tristar, Sentry and Sentinel aircraft.

At sea, the frigate HMS Iron Duke has been relieved on station by her sister ship HMS Sutherland. HMS Bangor continues to provide NATO’s maritime task group with a vital mine countermeasures capability, ready to respond to any attempts by the regime to again lay mines off Misurata port.

Since the start of military operations to enforce UNSCR 1973, Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and Army Air Corps precision strikes have destroyed over 710 regime targets engaged in the repression of the Libyan people.

UK missions over Libya are undertaken as part of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, to enforce UNSCR 1973 and protect Libyan civilians at risk of attack.

UK forces currently deployed on this operation include:

RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft based at Gioia del Colle in Italy
RAF VC10 and Tristar air-to-air refuelling tankers, based in Sicily, Cyprus and the UK
RAF Sentry and Sentinel surveillance aircraft, based in Sicily and Cyprus
HMS Ocean (helicopter carrier)
HMS Sutherland (Type 23 frigate)
HMS Bangor (Sandown class minehunter)
Royal Fleet Auxiliary Fort Rosalie
British Army Apache attack helicopters
Fleet Air Arm Sea King helicopters (Airborne Surveillance and Area Control role).
RAF air transport aircraft provide extensive logistic support to the deployed bases in Italy, Sicily and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.

Royal Air Force aircraft yesterday participated in a long-range mission, targeting a military vehicle depot at a former regime compound located near SEBHA.

As Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR continued to provide protection for the Libyan people, the RAF flew a formation of Tornados from RAF Marham in Norfolk, south across Europe, to rendezvous with the other allied aircraft in the strike package, before firing a large salvo of Storm Shadow precision guided stand-off missiles.

Our aircraft recovered to Gioia del Colle air base in southern Italy and will return to Marham in due course.

Major General Nick Pope, the Chief of the Defence Staff’s Communications Officer, said:

This mission has once again demonstrated NATO’s ability and resolve to reach deep into Libya to target those elements of the former regime who persist in their attempts to oppress the Libyan people.

NATO also maintained its armed reconnaissance patrols over all areas of potential continuing conflict, and, in the course of these, RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft observed multiple rocket launchers in action near Sirte. Paveway and Brimstone attacks accounted for one of the rocket launchers and an armed pick-up truck.

UK missions over Libya are undertaken as part of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR, to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1970 and 1973 and protect Libyan civilians at risk of attack.

UK forces currently deployed on this operation include:

RAF Tornado and Typhoon aircraft based at Gioia del Colle in Italy
RAF VC10 and TriStar air-to-air refuelling tankers based in Sicily and the UK
RAF Sentry and Sentinel surveillance aircraft based in Sicily and Cyprus
HMS Ocean (helicopter carrier)
HMS Liverpool (Type 42 destroyer)
HMS Bangor (Sandown Class minehunter)
Royal Fleet Auxiliary vessel Fort Rosalie
British Army Apache attack helicopters
Fleet Air Arm Sea King helicopters (Airborne Surveillance and Area Control role).
RAF air transport aircraft provide extensive logistic support to the deployed bases in Italy, Sicily and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.

RAF aircraft have struck further targets in SIRTE and Bani Walid over recent days as NATO continues operations over Libya to enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1973.

NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR has maintained an air presence over those areas of Libya where conflict continues, particularly Bani Walid and Sirte, with RAF aircraft still making a significant contribution.

On Thursday evening, an armed reconnaissance patrol of Tornado GR4s identified one of Colonel Gaddafi’s main battle tanks near Bani Walid and destroyed the vehicle with a Brimstone precision guided missile.

During the course of Friday afternoon, two formations of RAF Tornados conducted strikes against a firing position and supply point which had been located by NATO surveillance analysis within the area of Sirte. Eight Paveway guided bombs were successfully dropped by our aircraft onto the target.

RAF jets were again tasked by NATO to conduct a precision strike on a vehicle supply point in Sirte on Saturday and struck their target accurately with four Paveway guided bombs.

Our aircraft also continued to play an active part in the patrols over Bani Walid, and on Sunday morning they spotted two armed pick-up trucks being used by former regime forces to fire on a civilian compound.

Brimstone missiles were able to destroy both vehicles without any collateral damage to surrounding property. A follow-up patrol later in the day located a third armed truck in the vicinity of Bani Walid and destroyed it with a Paveway bomb.

Royal Navy ships meanwhile maintain their patrols off the Libyan coast, with HMS Liverpool providing security and reassurance to merchant shipping as the ports and harbours liberated by the new Libyan authorities seek to return to normal operation.

UK missions over Libya are undertaken as part of NATO’s Operation UNIFIED PROTECTOR to enforce UNSCRs 1970 and 1973 and protect Libyan civilians at risk of attack.

UK forces currently deployed on this operation include:

RAF Tornado GR4 aircraft based at Gioia del Colle in Italy
RAF VC10 and TriStar air-to-air refuelling tankers based in Sicily and the UK
RAF Sentry and Sentinel surveillance aircraft based in Sicily and Cyprus
HMS Liverpool (Type 42 destroyer)
HMS Bangor (Sandown Class minehunter)
RAF air transport aircraft provide extensive logistic support to the deployed bases in Italy, Sicily and the Sovereign Base Areas in Cyprus.

Friday, April 28


Newrope Vallombrosa is a unique place in Tuscany. Its founder, Saint Giovanni Gualberto, a Benedictine monk, chose this secluded place in the mountains 40 km east of Florence to lead a hermit-like existence, right after the year 1000, and with a restricted group of monks started his own monastic order, the Vallombrosani.

John Milton among many other travellers – found inspiration in Vallombrosa while traveling across Italy in 1638, and a marble inscription reminds tourists that here Milton put into writing his Paradise Lost. Vallombrosa is not a place for crowds; rather a place where to seek meditation and inspiration.

To me Vallombrosa represents memories from my childhood. It could be called a piece of my personal heimat, if you wish. Back in the 60’s, when a car was still a far-flung luxury for many Italian families of the working class, we would take the sunday morning bus from the train station in Florence with some frugal lunch, and we were back in the city with the same bus in time for dinner. For me, as a child, that was the highlight of the week – or the month – as it was all that we could afford at the time as a holiday.

It was with these memories that I rode my motorcycle along the winding road through the national forest that is part of Vallombrosa. But when I shut off the engine it wasn’t the silence that I had expected as usual but an eerie cacophony that got my attention. A crowd of young Africans, all in their 20’s, were standing and sitting around the area of the monastery, all of them doing the same thing: shouting at their i-phones, evidently talking to their folks back home.

Welcome to the new Italy Banana Republic, where the replacement of the original population, once known as Italians, is in full swing. Only a few years ago this affirmation would have caused sarcastic disbelief, now is the reality in front of our eyes.

It happened overnight (literally), during the winter, when over 100 “migrants” from Africa fresh from their landing in Sicily, were unloaded in this oasis of peace and tranquility. 

Now, you would think the location was chosen because the benedictine monks were ready to open their doors as a sign of charity and compassion. Far from it.
In reality, and without any help from the monks, what was accomplished was business at its best: minimum effort for maximum profit.

Take a group of local entrepreneurs to take over an old, abandoned hotel near the monastery, one of those hotels that attracted travelers once upon a time. Restore it to make it (more or less) look again like a semi-decent hospice so that you can amass in it as many Africans as possible. 

Make as much as 25/35 euro a day per person, courtesy of the Italian taxpayers. Welcome to Italy’s fastest growing and most profitable business. The example of Vallombrosa is not an exception, rather the rule of what is happening in Italy, or what it could otherwise be called “profitable invisibility”.

Until now local governments – especially the ones where elections are approaching – have been very careful in “disposing of” the migrants in secluded, peripheral areas, so that the locals would not notice their presence in their daily lives. Now, at an estimated rate of arrivals/replacements of over 450.000 a year it is going to be a (very serious) problem to keep this “profitable invisibility”.

In fact, as migrants are not confined to their housing and are therefore free to move around, by whatever public transportation is available the hard-to-hide consequence is that a city like Florence resembles every day more and more an African suk, with a young African man outside every commercial establishment begging for money or trying to sell useless Chinese knick-knacks.

If you talk to them, they will all tell you the same thing: they did not know that it was going to be “this bad”. They “were told” back in Nigeria, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, and the list could continue, that “once here they had it made”. How? I asked, again, who told them these fairy-tales?

I couldn’t get a convincing answer, and I got the feeling I shouldn’t have asked that question. Considering that on average each migrant pays to get to Europe between €2.000 to €4.000, that sum for most is seen as a lifetime investment that should ensure a better future not just for them but for their families back in Africa.

If you invest all your savings plus a potential future debt to arrive in the land of prosperity you are not going to plan on leaving that place anytime soon. After all, even if you are found as an illegal alien on Italian soil, all you will receive is a foglio di via (expulsion warrant) in which Italian state authorities “summon” the illegal alien to leave Italian territory within – normally – a week or so. 

And after that the illegal alien is left free to go, so long, goodbye till next time when he’s caught again perhaps as a result of a crime, and then he will be given another foglio di via, just to refresh his memory that he’s an illegal alien. By then, he knows he is dealing with a italian banana republic.

The refugees receive a daily allowance of €2.50 as pocket money, but obviously they want more. They are not legally allowed to work – thanks to Italy’s mind-boggling bureaucratic system – but can participate as “unpaid volunteers” in social projects such as cleaning of parks, streets, and the like, but, given the fact that it is on a volunteer basis only, the “volunteers” are few and far between, and they certainly prefer to spend the day sitting around or begging for money so that at the end of the day they will have rounded up a few euros.

The only real possibility of work is “low paid” farm labor, and the average pay ranges between €2 to 4/hr, especially in the south. Young italians, even if unemployed, are not interested in hard and tedious farm labour, or washing dishes in a restaurant. So the “migrants” come handy and useful for many potential employers who have at their disposal a virtual endless supply of next to slave labour.

Inevitably, due to these massive arrivals, Italy is under an unprecedented financial strain. Inevitably, those who are bound to suffer the most from this shift in resources are the growing numbers of Italians – now approaching the 5 million mark – who are rapidly declining into the official category of povertà assoluta (absolute poverty) as classified by ISTAT (the National Bureau of Statistics and Census) who would be willing and forced to accept even as little as a few euros per hour just to get by, except that a potential employer doesn’t even consider hiring an Italian for he knows that a legal employee could easily report an unlawful working condition, therefore potentially exposing the employer to heavy fines.

The millions of Italians – especially olders with no families – who have ended up in this category have little or no help from the state, especially when it comes to housing and specific medical care such as dental care. If you are a single adult with no children, chances of getting subsidized housing are next to zero. And that has a quite simple explanation: all the available subsidized housing goes to families with children, and most of them are foreigners with an average of 2/3 children.

Finally, it is Mother Nature who knows no morals, at least not as humans conceive them, and Nature always wants its toll. Just like in the animal world the invasion of alien species in a new environment often causes a severe reduction – or extinction – of native species, in human societies the massive and sudden moving of people from one continent to the other causes – inevitably – infectious diseases to reappear where they were eradicated or increase dramatically, and of course unexpectedly.

Tuscany sets a perfect example. Traditionally friendly and hospitable, thanks to its post -communist local governments, Tuscany has been welcoming sub-Saharan Africans for at least a couple of decades by now, and Tuscany now stands apart in Italy for a dramatic rise in meningitis cases.

Once again, the local government of Tuscany carefully and skillfully plays down the numbers, avoiding – God forbid if Mass Tourism hears about this – the word “epidemic”, but the numbers are out there and are becoming hard to hide.
Of course, the consequential negative effects for local populations facing what is hard to disguise as “humanitarian crisis”, but in reality a planned forced replacement of Europeans, was taken into account when all this was carefully planned by the “movers and shakers behind the curtains”. Nothing could be left to chance.

In order to accomplish this MP (Master Plan), regardless of the name you want to call it, a fundamental ingredient is essential, namely, the complete readiness of a subservient oligarchy, holding key positions in the countries you want to subdue. This oligarchy must be composed of key figures ready to be disposed of whenever necessary or no longer usable. In other words, as perfectly stated by Gaetano Mosca, a political scientist of the late 19th century, “a well organized minority will always have its way over a disorganized majority.” And, shall we add, for an organized minority to reach its goals another essential is to get rid of all potentially powerful obstacles.

Silvio Berlusconi may have been ultimately unfit to lead Italy, but he had some points to his favour, one of them his personal friendship with Muammar Qaddafi. Thanks to that friendship, and as long as Qaddafi was in power, Libya had not become a major jumping point for Italy for sub-Saharan Africans. In 2011, in a matter of months, both leaders are out of the picture, one resigns and one is dead. Libya plunges into a civil war, and chaos in the country is the result, with no recognized central authority any more.

Two years later, in October 2013, one of the things that you would have certainly called “impossible” to happen in life actually does happen: the Pope resigns from his post. In his resignation statement delivered in Latin he calls himself physically overwhelmed thus unfit to lead the Catholic Church. So long, goodbye.

Of course, it is just one of those weird coincidences, but the Vatican State had been cut off for days prior to Pope Benedict’s resignation from all international banking transactions via SWIFT, just like other evil nations such as Iran and North Korea. Within hours of Benedict XVI’s departure from the Vatican, bound for the residence of Castel Gandolfo outside Rome, Vatican’s connections with SWIFT are reestablished and all banking transactions are possible again. Talk about providential timing.

A new and quite different Pope is elected by the cardinals, certainly, we like to believe, inspired by the Holy Ghost. A Pope that soon, like a broken record, will remind – on a daily basis – Catholics worldwide, but especially Italians that “migrants are not just welcome, they are absolutely welcome”. Now, for a devout Catholic, that must be accepted, and cannot be questioned, even if you have (many) doubts, deep down in your conscience: after all, a Pope is always right, and we, as Catholics, must obey.

Until 2013 the numbers of arrivals from Africa are high, but always below 50.000 a year. 2014 marks the first year of biblical numbers, with over 170.000 arrivals, mostly from sub-Saharan Africans. Since then, the numbers are rising and 2017 is due to pass the 200.000 mark. Never mind that Italy is – literally – running out of places to hold – and feed – these masses. The Pope for many Italians remains the ultimate voice of truth so if THEY come, we must welcome THEM.

History repeats itself. At least in Sicily. In January, 1943 the Casablanca conference in Morocco attended by Churchill and Roosevelt proved to be a turning point of the war. No longer on the defensive, with the Axis forces of Italy and Germany driven out of Africa, Churchill was anxious to attack Hitler’s “fortress Europe” through its “soft underbelly” as he called Italy. And so Operation Husky was decided. The allied forces landed in Sicily in July 1943, which led, in a matter of weeks, to the fall of Mussolini and the surrender of Italy in September, with the country effectively divided in two until the end of the war in April 1945.

As with any carefully prepared military invasion, reliable domestic contacts providing eyes and ears on the ground were essential. Rather than relying on virtually non-existent “resistance groups” like it was going to be the following year for the landing in Normandy, the US and Britain knew they were to take advantage of a different – yet formidable – power: the Mafia.

A number of US intelligence agencies had already been in contact during the war with the New York “underworld” essentially in order to protect the port of New York from highly possible acts of sabotage especially by the Germans.

As Operation Husky received the green light, all possible useful contacts in Sicily were recruited by US intelligence agencies, but the key figure was by no doubt top Mafia mobster Lucky Luciano. Serving a 30 to 50 year sentence in a NY correctional facility since 1936, Luciano provided the US Navy with many Sicilian contacts which proved to be extremely useful in aiding allied forces to establish a secure foothold in Sicily. The all-too-obvious consequence was that the Mafia, on the run since Mussolini’s arrival, was back in power, and it was there to stay.

It must be admitted that Sicily provides an outstanding presence in the Italian government. In January, 2015 the first Sicilian President of Italy, Sergio Mattarella, is elected by the parliament. At that point Sicilians hold the top 3 positions in the Italian government: The President, the President of the Senate (Pietro Grasso, a former prosecutor), and the essential Minister of Interior Angelino Alfano. It needs to be reminded that while the former two are honorific figures and are no decision makers, the Ministry of the Interior is the direct supervisor and coordinator of the whole immigration affaire.

In her whole career, professional and political, she has made no mistery on whose side she stands for, and that side is certainly NOT the average italians who live from paycheck to paycheck (provided they have one) despite the fact that italian taxpayers reward her with over 100.000 euro a year for her position.

Being from an affluent family, she really never had to worry about making ends meet, devoting her whole life to the underpriviliged ones. Just as long as they are NOT italians. We could call her expertise on this whole matter just like the cherry on the cake, or, better stated, the right person in the right place at the right time.

Getting back to Sicily, and speaking of affari (italian for business) immigration -biblical or not- has been a fantastic, unprecedented affare for Sicily as untold billions of euros have kept a steady flow to the island. Sicily has Europe’s biggest migrant reception center, the C.A.R.A. (Centro Accoglienza Richiedenti Asilo), located in Mineo near Catania where many “irregularities” were found out by local prosecutors, leading to the indictment of at least 17 people including a high level politician of the same political party as Angelino Alfano, (NCD).

One of the wistleblowers of the many “irregularities” that were the norm at the C.A.R.A. in Mineo is a middle level police officer from Rome, Daniele Contucci. Contucci has worked for years “in prima linea”, as he states, being among the first ones to receive -and interview clandestine-migrants just unloaded on sicilian shores after having been rescued at sea.

When asked if there’s any hope this biblical invasion will slow down any time soon Contucci is highly skeptic. “Not as long as there’s so much money involved. The profits to be made are just staggering, by far surpassing any other illegal activity”, he says. He admits that -perhaps a bit naive- he thought he could find help and attention to his cause from politicians that rewarded him with lots of shoulder padding and praises but no concrete action of any sort, regardless of the political orientation, leaving him “highly convinced” that despite all the official claims and drama, no party in Italy is willing to do anything serious about this. “It’s the money. There’s simply too much money involved. It’s the kind of money that can buy any politician.”

Last, but by all means not least, the “traghettatori”, italian for ferrymen. Just like Operation Husky,this biblical task could not be accomplished without a fleet – or a flotilla – of well equipped, well payed, well maintained vessels.

Of course they are all humanitarian organizations, and they devote all their lives and their (huge) resources to the safe transporting of migrants to the all too willing and cooperating (or – shall we say – receiving orders from above?)
the Marina Militare, or the Italian Navy. 

One tiny detail: if you want to take “part of the action” as a volunteer, and become a crewmember on one of the NGO’s vessels, get ready for a good series of vaccination shots as a mandatory condition to be taken onboard. As the saying goes: “better be safe than sorry”.

Now the Italian Ministry of Public Health wants “everybody” to get vaccinated in Italy, and that -soon- is probably not going to be an option, especially for schoolchildren. Profitable businesses often go hand in hand. You start with immigration, and you end up with vaccination. It must be the Law of Attraction.

This monumental endeavour of changing Italy’s demographics has found its admirers. One gentleman in particular is willing to open his wallet and shower this gracious flotilla with the insignificant gift of € 1.500 billion.

We wonder what may be behind all this generosity. Perhaps, as the man wants to be remember by future generations of dark skinned italians, as he is getting a little aged and has little time left, he wants to push the final population replacement of Italy to the fullest.

Back in 1943 they were called GI’s. In 2017 they will be called GSB’s (George Soros Boys). Welcome boys, to your future home. The Banana Republic of Italy.

Thursday, July 9


Apparentemente non hanno nulla in comune. Sono i due maggiori produttori e concorrenti nel mercato del petrolio. Hanno amici ai lati opposti delle barricate. Si sono fatti dispetti non irrilevanti. 

Eppure ora cercano un’alleanza inedita, che si è palesata a sorpresa nei sorrisi tra il presidente russo Vladimir Putin e il principe ereditario saudita Mohammed bin Salman, che si sono intrattenuti a lungo ai margini del Forum economico di San Pietroburgo, e si è concretizzata un paio di settimane dopo nel più grosso investimento di un fondo sovrano in Russia: 10 miliardi di petrodollari sauditi, un record che fa esultare Mosca

Lo stanziamento del Public Investment Fund (PIF) sarà distribuito in una decina di progetti da concludere entro fine anno, che secondo il capo del Fondo russo per gli investimenti diretti (RDIF) Kirill Dmitriev riguarderà settori lontani dal petrolio: agricoltura, logistica, medicina, immobiliare e commercio al dettaglio.

Soltanto tre anni fa il regno saudita aveva cancellato la settimana del business russo, rispedendo a casa una delegazione di imprenditori arrivati da Mosca, per protesta contro il sostegno del Cremlino al rais siriano Bashar el Assad

I russi pure avrebbero nei confronti di Riad una serie di lamentele, dall’appoggio alla guerriglia cecena (che i finanziamenti sauditi hanno contribuito a indottrinare nella svolta dal nazionalismo all’islamismo) ai recenti sospetti che la monarchia petrolifera avesse fatto crollare il prezzo del barile su richiesta degli Stati Uniti, per mettere in ginocchio Putin. 

La Russia non ha mostrato entusiasmo nemmeno per l’intervento saudita in Yemen, è tra gli sponsor principali del deal con l’Iran, incubo di Riad, e ha pestato i piedi ai sauditi sottraendo, grazie ai mega-contratti con Pechino, parte del mercato asiatico. 

Ma l’accordo sul nucleare di Teheran, in cottura a Vienna almeno fino a venerdì, lancia un valzer delle alleanze asimmetriche che va a scompaginare la regola della Guerra fredda sugli amici degli amici, e gli amici dei nemici diventano partner commerciali, se non alleati. 

Anche se il direttore dell’Istituto di studi mediorientali di Mosca Evgheny Satanovsky sospetta che quello dei sauditi sia “solo teatro, lo fanno periodicamente pensando di ingelosire gli Stati Uniti”, pare che gli alleati di Washington abbiano intenzioni serie con Putin. 

Il principe Saud bin Khalid al Feisal, direttore dell’altro fondo saudita SAGIA, specializzato nell’attirare investimenti a Riad – ha appena firmato un altro accordo con i russi – la butta sull’economia: il regno ha una crescita demografica che richiede prodotti, servizi e tecnologie, che potrebbe comprare nella Russia messa in difficoltà dalle sanzioni occidentali. 

Siccome, ricorda il senatore russo Andrey Klimov, “con i sauditi abbiamo due cose in comune: non condividiamo i valori occidentali e non amiamo sentire le critiche americane”, ecco che da appena un miliardo di interscambio annuale si passa a progetti ambiziosi.

Merito diplomatico personale di Putin, che forse si è trovato più a suo agio con i principi che con i governi occidentali: dopo la chiacchierata di San Pietroburgo sono saltati fuori sei accordi tra cui quello su 16 centrali nucleari che i russi potrebbero fornire a Riad (a Teheran ne vogliono contemporaneamente vendere otto). 

Si parla anche di forniture di armi: Mosca potrebbe vendere ai sauditi i missili Iskander (in precedenza non destinati all’esportazione), e ha organizzato per il principe una presentazione di navi di pattuglia e guardia costiera a San Pietroburgo

Che servirebbero a contenere l’Iran, al quale i russi vogliono spedire il sistema antiaereo S-300. Quando non si tratta dell’occidente, i russi abbandonano l’ideologia per il pragmatismo. 

Mosca promuove il deal iraniano, ma teme che il ritorno di Teheran sul mercato petrolifero faccia crollare il prezzo del greggio, e così cerca fonti di guadagno alternative.

Tuesday, May 12


Re Salman bin Abdul Aziz diserta il vertice americano. Un duro segnale contro l'apertura a Teheran. Con Washington i rapporti sono tesi. Ma non c'è alternativa all'alleanza. Un problema di salute o, semplicemente, non ama viaggiare all'estero, ha scritto qualche commentatore.

Ma dietro il diniego del re saudita Salman di andare a Camp David, il 14 maggio, per il primo summit tra il presidente americano Barack Obama e i Leaders del Golfo, e di incontrare poi Barack Obama alla Casa Bianca, gli Stati Uniti vedono uno schiaffo, o quantomeno, un pericoloso segnale di gelo.

Il neo sovrano 79enne è vecchio e acciaccato, un ictus gli fa muovere male il braccio sinistro. E tuttavia non è dall'ultimo monarca degli al Saud, succeduto a gennaio alla morte del fratello Abdullah, disertare un importante meeting diplomatico.

Vice premier e, dal 2011, capo dell'esercito, Salman è da anni considerato un tessitore di relazioni con l'Occidente.

A marzo era in Egitto, al vertice della Lega araba sul Mar Rosso. Con il segretario di Stato degli Usa John Kerry ha rapporti frequenti e, dalla sua investitura, ha incontrato diverse delegazioni americane, incluso Barak Obama (ma sempre a Riad).

Ufficialmente, il re saudita non è potuto volare negli USA per la sovrapposizione dei cinque giorni di cessate il fuoco in Yemen: una guerra decisa da Salman e che, probabilmente, l'ex ministro della Difesa segue personalmente.

Tuttavia a Riad si susseguono le speculazioni sulla finalità del raduno nella residenza presidenziale scelta per siglare i grandi accordi sul Medio Oriente.

«Obama è noto per il suo talento persuasivo. Camp David è uno strumento di marketing per l'accordo con l'Iran?», hanno scritto gli opinionisti del network panarabo saudita al Arabiya, del «summit e dei suoi scontenti».

A rappresentare Riad al summit sono stati inviati il principe ereditario, Mohammad bin Nayef, ministro dell'Interno, e il vice principe ereditario Mohammad bin Salam, neo ministro della Difesa.

Per la stampa americana più autorevole - dal New York Times al Wall Street Journal - non può trattarsi solo di indisposizione o di accesso di impegni: l'assenza di re Salman bin Abdul Aziz rappresenta l'«apparente segnale del suo continuo malcontento per le relazioni tra l'Amministrazione USA e l'Iran».

La moral suasion di Obama per raffreddare i monarchi sunniti rivali della teocrazia sciita non sarebbe bastata a smuovere la potenza capofila anti-iraniana.

Sull'avvicinamento della Casa Bianca a Teheran non ci sarebbero margini di trattativa, a meno che gli americani non facciano un passo indietro: per Riad, i «progressi nel ridurre le divergenze con Washington su temi come l'Iran e la Siria non sarebbero abbastanza».

E siccome Obama è determinato ad andare avanti, il sovrano saudita avrebbe infine detto no. Fino al weekend la Casa Bianca lo annunciava in arrivo per «consultazioni su un ampio raggio di questioni bilaterali e regionali». 

Poi, dopo la notizia dagli USA dell'incontro con Obama, l'agenzia di Stato saudita ha battuto dell'invio dei due emissari, in sostituzione al sovrano.

Riad non vuole tuttavia che le frizioni tra il re saudita e il presidente americano appaiano come uno strappo diretto. Prima del vertice, Salman avrebbe in agenda una telefonata di chiarimento sul forfait con Obama.

«Non siamo stati snobbati, i toni di Riad non sono delusi», ha smorzato l'Amministrazione USA, per la quale il rifiuto «sarà l'occasione inusuale di prendere le misure a bin Salman, il giovane ministro della Difesa saudita». La poltrona vuota del re saudita cambia comunque marcia al summit.

A Parigi, in un incontro preliminare con J. Kerry, le petro-monarchie del Golfo avrebbero premuto per stringere un accordo difensivo con gli Stati Uniti, analogo a quello tra USA e Giappone, in risposta ad attacchi stranieri, e avrebbero anche chiesto maggiori armamenti.

Per Riad, la minaccia più grande è l'avanzamento iraniano a Ovest, nelle vecchie terre del Levante islamico e, a Sud, nel cortile di casa yemenita, dove è in corso una guerra tra il blocco dei governi sunniti e i i ribelli sciiti houthi, appoggiati dall'Iran.

Per lealtà gli Stati Uniti appoggiano la coalizione dei sauditi, fornendo anche aiuti logistici e d'Intelligence ai raid che in Yemen fanno migliaia di morti, anche tra i civili. Ma dall'insediamento nel 2009, Obama porta avanti anche un'altra battaglia: il disgelo geopolitico ed economico con l'Iran.

L'accordo provvisorio sul nucleare del 2013, a Ginevra, e l'intesa preliminare di Losanna, di aprile 2015, con gli ayatollah sono due tappe che irritano e hanno messo in ansia Riad, oltre che Israele. A Washington come a Teheran è aperta la partita per il via libera interno all'intesa del secolo.

Il Senato Usa (a maggioranza repubblicana), in particolare, ha approvato una legge che obbliga il presidente a sottoporre al Congresso americano la bozza dell'accordo definitivo iraniano. La proposta deve passare alla Camera dei deputati, in mano anche'essa al Gran Old Party, prima di diventare legge di Stato: un altro freno all'agenda della Casa Bianca.

I sauditi non hanno alternative all'alleanza con gli Stati Uniti. Ma, come i repubblicani e gli israeliani, ostacolano la riapertura dei rapporti tra l'Iran e l'Occidente. C'è tempo fino al primo luglio per firmare l'accordo. Non a caso, sono esplosi la guerra in Yemen e lo scontro strisciante tra Riad e gli USA.

Il regno degli Al Saud non cessa di smentire le tante Cassandre che nel tempo prefigurano scenari inquietanti sulla sorte della Casa reale saudita esaltandone le ragioni di fragilità politico-istituzionale. 

E non cessa di stupire l’immaginario collettivo del mondo con azioni che pur maturate nel tempo diventano di dominio pubblico come questi fulmini a ciel sereno.

Friday, May 1


Quando scoppiò il caso del barcone rovesciato, tutti i leader hanno fatto la loro «dichiarazione-pisciatina», quella di Salvini, banale come tutte le altre, è diventato il vero oggetto del contendere. 

Giornali, talk show, radio, TV, dopo una rapida sintesi del fatto e la commozione di circostanza (sono fantastici, osservateli con la loro bocca a culo di gallina fingere sentimenti alti), hanno seppellito i morti e la politica sull'immigrazione in fondo al mare, e hanno cominciato ad accanirsi contro la felpa di Salvini. 

Lui ha risposto con lo stesso stile intellettualmente scurrile degli altri. Berlusconi, alla disperata ricerca di uscire dal suo, immagino, insopportabile cerchio magico, si è candidato a un non meglio precisato ruolo di Commissario. 

Federica Mogherini, che Commissaria, oltretutto pure «Alta», è già, ha avuto un'intuizione geniale, ben sintetizzata dal tipico linguaggio della Leopolda: «Dobbiamo andare alla radice del problema». 

Ha chiuso, la Mogherini, sbeffeggiando un «eurodeputato», neppure degno di avere un nome, sul termine «blocco navale». 

Stante il loro carattere fumantino, non si erano capiti. Renzi si riferiva a quelli «offensivi» (tipo Spartani-Porto di Atene dopo la battaglia di Egospotami ovvero tipo Usa-Cuba per i missili sovietici), Salvini a quelli «difensivi» (tipo Australia-immigrati indonesiani).

Non essendo né un esperto di immigrazione come Saviano, né un politico puro come Renzi, Berlusconi, Salvini, provo a studiare il problema secondo i protocolli del management: analizzare, decidere, implementare.

Chi è il Nemico? Si possono e si debbono impiegare alcuni vettori di forza, come già facciamo in alto mare, per salvare vite umane e bloccare qualche scafista. 

Si possono concepire operazioni coperte affidate a forze speciali, come facemmo vent’anni fa in Albania, quando gli incursori del COMSUBIN affondarono nottetempo decine di gommoni della morte nei porti di partenza, con il consenso del governo locale e senza che il nostro si affrettasse a comunicarlo. 

Si può financo pensare di bombardare i barconi prima che si riempiano di potenziali vittime. 

Ma sono cose che prima si fanno, poi eventualmente si annunciano.

Facile, l'organizzazione criminale dei mercanti di schiavi ma pure gli Stati, costieri (e no), che lo permettono. Qui emerge l'originalità del modello di business dei mercanti di schiavi. 

Quelli dei secoli scorsi erano degli imprenditori "arabi" che razziavano nella foresta negri (allora si diceva così), li caricavano di forza sui velieri, li vendevano FOB porto americano, venivano pagati dai proprietari terrieri americani, francesi, olandesi, etc etc, solo alla consegna, e con un severo controllo di qualità (i mercanti di schiavi avevano interesse a presentarli in forma). 

Diversi anni fa, alcuni analisti della nostra Intelligence militare, alla ricerca della “soluzione finale” di un problema che allora cominciava ad affacciarsi sui media, ne proposero una davvero finale: "l’Italia e l’Occidente dovevano impegnarsi perché l’Africa sub-sahariana restasse in povertà assoluta – Quarto Mondo, non Terzo – perché solo la mancanza del denaro necessario ad affrontare il viaggio della speranza attraverso deserti e mari ci garantiva del fatto che nessuno ci avrebbe provato. 

Per fortuna il documento filtrò oltre le maglie del segreto e fu opportunamente cestinatoMa è bene non dimenticarsene, per capire a quali nequizie può giungere la nostra ossessione securitaria, rivelatrice d’una radicata insicurezza. 

Oggi, quelli, curiosamente sono pagati proprio dagli schiavi, e lo sono anticipatamente, trattarli bene è un optional, idem che muoiano. Come dice Mogherini, la «radice» è lì. 

Le leadership italiane ed europee devono smetterla di chiacchierare e di palleggiarsi le responsabilità fra di loro, devono scegliere una strategia e procedere con la sua «execution».

«Immigrati e Rifugiati sono la stessa cosa o no?»  Questa domanda è dirimente per definire una strategia, ci vuole una scelta politica chiara e netta. Secondo le élite del Paese (Saviano è il loro mentore) sì, secondo il popolo bue no. 

Certo, il governo è sotto pressione. È scattata la sindrome del “bisogna fare qualcosa”, contro la quale lo stesso Obama – teorico (non sempre pratico) del don’t do stupid things – ha messo in guardia Renzi. 

In chiaro: intervenire stivali su terra nella guerra di mafie che sta infestando l’ex Libia, spazio di nessuno conteso dai clan indigeni e dai loro sponsor esterni (Egitto ed Emirati Arabi Uniti in testa, sul fronte cirenaico, Qatar e Turchia in secondo piano, su quello tripolitano), è follia che ci viene sconsigliata dall’alleato di riferimento. 

Anche perché, stanti le risorse a disposizione delle nostre Forze armate e di quelle degli eventuali “volenterosi” associati, europei e arabi, presto dovremmo rivolgerci agli americani per carenza di mezzi, benzine e munizioni.

Ma la situazione in Libia è talmente degenerata, e i nervi dei decisori, su entrambe le sponde del Mediterraneo, sono così sollecitati da rendere possibile un intervento “accidentale”, per esempio in risposta a un attentato terroristico in Europa. 

Magari firmato Stato Islamico, anche se chiunque frequenti la Libia sa che il “califfo” non ne controlla che qualche caseggiato a Derna e dintorni. Decapitandovi quanti più cristiani possibile, nella speranza di attrarci sul suo terreno.

Quando affrontiamo l’emergenza Libia dobbiamo partire dall’esperienza storica. Da cui deduciamo che in attesa di ristabilizzare quel paese e spegnere i focolai di guerra accesi attorno ad esso, dal Sahel al Corno d’Africa, dal Levante al Golfo Persico, avremo a che fare per il tempo prevedibile con masse di donne, uomini e bambini (molti non accompagnati) in caccia di speranza. Sinonimo, per loro, di Europa.

Questo dramma occuperà il resto delle nostre vite. Va dunque gestito, con speciale urgenza e cura. Ma senza illudersi di risolverlo con la forza. Se provassimo a farlo, lo renderemmo ingestibile. Otterremmo di moltiplicare le vittime, non di ridurle. 

Non ci sono scorciatoie militari – blocchi navali, aerei o terrestri – a meno di rioccupare la Libia (Nicolas Sarkozy Mascalzone 2011 Libia).

Renzi decida, gli compete. Se sceglie «sì», li mandi a prendere tutti con i traghetti della Tirrenia, se sceglie «no» selezioni in loco i soli rifugiati e si opponga con la forza all'ingresso degli immigrati. Se non si sente all'altezza, indìca un referendum popolare: lasci la parola a noi, ognuno voterà secondo coscienza.

Se Renzi non è in grado di decidere, e neppure di indire un referendum, lo dica chiaramente. Andremo avanti così: discorsi alti, emozioni represse, insulti reciproci fra miserabili avversari politici. Sta per iniziare il periodo delle serate in terrazza, a seguire le giornate sotto l'ombrellone, il dilemma immigrazione-rifugiati è argomento che «tira», per solidarietà ne beneficeranno le vendite dei «vù cumprà». In fondo, anche questo è PIL. Alla fine, non potremo però sfuggire al dovere di accogliere.

Se esistono ancora dei valori europei, se l’Unione Europea non è solo una parola vuota o il nome contemporaneo dell’ignavia, e se questa Europa vuole avere un posto nel mondo, noi i profughi li ospiteremo. 

E li tratteremo come si deve a chi soffre anche per causa delle nostre incursioni armate in terre che non ci appartengono più, ma verso le quali esibiamo talvolta patetici riflessi neo-coloniali, ribattezzati “guerra al terrorismo”.

Un continente di mezzo miliardo di anime può attrezzarsi per riceverne nel tempo un milione e anche più, distribuendo concordemente lo sforzo sulle spalle di ciascun paese in proporzione alle sue risorse??

L’alternativa è essere inghiottiti dalla marea che si vuole respingere.

Sunday, April 26


KOSOVO   K.L.A. - U.C.K.
The leniency shown former CIA Director (and retired General) David Petraeus by the Justice Department in sparing him prison time for the serious crimes that he has committed puts him in the same preferential, immune-from-incarceration category as those running the financial institutions of Wall Street, where, incidentally, Petraeus now makes millions. By contrast, “lesser” folks – and particularly the brave men and women who disclose government crimes – get to serve time, even decades, in jail.

Petraeus is now a partner at KKR, a firm specializing in large leveraged buyouts, and his hand-slap guilty plea to a misdemeanor for mishandling government secrets should not interfere with his continued service at the firm. KKR’s founders originally worked at Bear Stearns, the institution that failed in early 2008 at the beginning of the meltdown of the investment banking industry later that year.

Despite manifestly corrupt practices like those of subprime mortgage lenders, none of those responsible went to jail after the 2008-09 financial collapse which cost millions of Americans their jobs and homes. The bailed-out banks were judged “too big to fail” and the bankers “too big to jail.”

Two years ago, in a highly revealing slip of the tongue, Attorney General Eric Holder explained to Congress that it can “become difficult” to prosecute major financial institutions because they are so large that a criminal charge could pose a threat to the economy – or perhaps what he meant was an even bigger threat to the economy.

Holder tried to walk back his unintended slip into honesty a year later, claiming, “There is no such thing as ‘too big to jail.’” And this bromide was dutifully echoed by Holder’s successor, Loretta Lynch, at her confirmation hearing in late January.

Words, though, are cheap. The proof is in the pudding. It remains true that not one of the crooked bankers or investment advisers who inflicted untold misery on ordinary people, gambling away much of their life savings, has been jailed. Not one.

And now Petraeus, who gave his biographer/mistress access to some of the nation’s most sensitive secrets and then lied about it to the FBI, has also been shown to be too big to jail. Perhaps Holder decided it would be a gentlemanly thing to do on his way out of office – to take this awkward issue off Lynch’s initial to-do list and spare her the embarrassment of demonstrating once again that equality under the law has become a mirage; that not only big banks, but also big shots like Petraeus – who was Official Washington’s most beloved general before becoming CIA director – are, in fact, too big to jail.

It strikes me, in a way, as fitting that even on his way out the door, Eric Holder would not miss the opportunity to demonstrate his propensity for giving hypocrisy a bad name.

A Slap on Wrist for Serious Crimes

The Justice Department let David Petraeus cop a plea after requiring him to admit that he had shared with his biographer/mistress eight black notebooks containing highly classified information and then lied about it to FBI investigators. Serious crimes? The following quotes are excerpted from “U.S. v. David Howell Petraeus: Factual Basis in support of the Plea Agreement” offered by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, Charlotte Division:

“17. During his tenure as Commander of ISAF in Afghanistan, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS maintained bound, five-by-eight-inch notebooks that contained his daily schedule and classified and unclassified notes he took during official meetings, conferences, and briefings. … A total of eight such books (hereinafter the “Black Books”) encompassed the period of defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’S ISAF [Afghanistan] command and collectively contained classified information regarding the identities of covert officers, war strategy, intelligence capabilities and mechanisms, diplomatic discussions, quotes and deliberative discussions from high-level National Security Council meetings, and defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS’s discussions with the President of the United States of America. [emphasis added]

“18. The Black Books contained national defense information, including Top Secret//SCI and code word information.”

Despite the sensitivity of the notebooks and existing law and regulations, Petraeus did not surrender them to proper custody when he returned to the U.S. after being nominated to become the Director of the CIA. According to the Court’s “Factual Basis,” Petraeus’s biographer/mistress recorded a conversation of Aug. 4, 2011, in which she asks about the “Black Books.” The Court statement continues:

“ [Petraeus] ‘Umm, well, they’re really – I mean they are highly classified, some of them.  … I mean there’s code word stuff in there.’ … On or about August 27, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS sent an email to his biographer in which he agreed to provide the Black Books to his biographer. … On or about August 28, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWEL PETRAEUS delivered the Black Books to a private residence in Washington, D.C. where his biographer was staying. … On or about September 1, 2011, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS retrieved the Black Books from the D.C. private residence and returned them to his own Arlington, Virginia home.” [emphasis added]

I would think it a safe guess that Petraeus’s timing can be attributed to his awareness that his privacy and freedom of movement was about to be greatly diminished, once his CIA personal security detail started keeping close track of him from his first day on the job as CIA Director, Sept. 6, 2011.

“32. On or about October 26, 2012, defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS was interviewed by two FBI special agents. … [He] was advised that the special agents were conducting a criminal investigation. … PETRAEUS stated that (a) he had never provided any classified information to his biographer, and (b) he had never facilitated the provision of classified information to his biographer. These statements were false. Defendant DAVID HOWELL PETRAEUS then and there knew that he previously shared the Black Books with his biographer.” [emphasis added]

Lying to the FBI? No problem. As “Expose Facts” blogger Marcy Wheeler immediately commented: “For lying to the FBI – a crime that others go to prison for for months and years – Petraeus will just get a two point enhancement on his sentencing guidelines. The Department of Justice basically completely wiped out the crime of covering up his crime of leaking some of the country’s most sensitive secrets to his mistress.” [emphasis added]

Talk about “prosecutorial discretion” or, in this case, indiscretion – giving Petraeus a fine and probation but no felony conviction or prison time for what he did! Lesser lights are not so fortunate. Just ask Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning who is serving a 35-year prison sentence for disclosing information to the public about U.S. war crimes and other abuses. Or Edward Snowden, who is stuck in Russia facing a U.S. indictment on espionage charges for informing the people about pervasive and unconstitutional U.S. government surveillance of common citizens.

Or former CIA officer John Kiriakou who was sent to prison for inadvertently revealing the name of one Agency official cognizant of CIA torture. Here’s what Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said then: “The government has a vital interest in protecting the identities of those involved in covert operations. Leaks of highly sensitive, closely held and classified information compromise national security and can put individual lives in danger.”

When, on Oct. 23, 2012, Kiriakou acquiesced to a plea deal requiring two-and-a-half years in federal prison, then CIA Director Petraeus sent a sanctimonious Memorandum to Agency employees applauding Kiriakou’s conviction and noting, “It marks an important victory for our agency …  there are indeed consequences for those who believe they are above the laws that protect our fellow officers and enable American intelligence agencies to operate with the requisite degree of secrecy.” [emphasis added]

Consequences for Kiriakou but not, as we now know, for Petraeus.

If you feel no discomfort at this selective application of the law, you might wish to scroll or page back to the “Factual Basis” for Petraeus’s Plea Agreement and be reminded that it was just three days after his lecture to CIA employees about the sanctity of protecting the identity of covert agents that Petraeus lied to FBI investigators – on Oct. 26, 2012 – about his sharing such details with his mistress.

Why Did Petraeus Do It?

Old soldiers like Petraeus (indeed, most aging but still ambitious men) have been known to end up doing self-destructive things by letting themselves be flattered by the attentions of younger women. This may offer a partial explanation – human weakness even in a self-styled larger-than-life super-Mensch. But I see the motivation as mostly vainglory. (The two are not mutually exclusive, of course.)

Looking back at Petraeus’s record of overweening ambition, it seems likely he was motivated first and foremost by a desire to ensure that his biographer would be able to extract from the notebooks some juicy morsels he may not have remembered to tell her about. This might enhance his profile as Warrior-Scholar-“King David,” the image that he has assiduously cultivated and promoted, with the help of an adulating neocon-dominated media.

Petraeus’s presidential ambitions have been an open secret. And with his copping a plea to a misdemeanor, his “rehabilitation” seems to have already begun. He has told friends that he would like to serve again in government and they immediately relayed that bright hope to the media.

Sen. John McCain was quick to call the whole matter “closed.” A strong supporter of Petraeus, McCain added this fulsome praise: “At a time of grave security challenges around the world, I hope that General Petraeus will continue to provide his outstanding service and leadership to our nation, as he has throughout his distinguished career.”

And Michael O’Hanlon, Brookings’ neocon military specialist who rarely gets anything right, spoke true to form to the New York Times: “The broader nation needs his advice, and I think it’s been evident that people still want to hear from him. … People are forgiving and I know he made a mistake. But he’s also a national hero and a national treasure.”

The “mainstream media” is trapped in its undeserved adulation for Petraeus’s “heroism.” It is virtually impossible, for example, for them to acknowledge that his ballyhooed, official-handout-based “success” in training and equipping tens of thousands of crack Iraqi troops was given the lie when those same troops ran away (the officers took helicopters) and left their weapons behind at the first sight of ISIL fighters a year ago.

Equally sham were media claims of the “success” for the “surges” of 30,000 troops sent into Iraq (2007) and 33,000 into Afghanistan (2009). Each “surge” squandered the lives of about 1,000 U.S. troops for nothing – yes, nothing – except in the case of Iraq buying time for President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney to get out of town without a clear-cut defeat hanging around their necks.

Many of the supposed successes of Petraeus’s Iraqi “surge” also predated the “surge,” including a high-tech program for killing top militants such as Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and the formation of the so-called Sunni Awakening, both occurring in 2006 under the previous field commanders. And, Bush’s principal goal of the “surge” – to create political space for a fuller Sunni-Shiite reconciliation – was never accomplished. [See’s “The Surge Myth’s Deadly Result.”]

And last, it is important to note that David Petraeus does not have a corner on the above-the-law attitudes and behavior of previous directors of the CIA. The kid-gloves treatment he has been accorded, however, will increase chances that future directors will feel they can misbehave seriously and suffer no serious personal consequence.

The virtual immunity enjoyed by the well connected – even when they lie to the FBI or tell whoppers in sworn testimony to Congress (as Director of National Intelligence James Clapper has done) – feeds the propensity to prioritize one’s own personal ambition and to delegate a back seat to legitimate national security concerns – even basic things like giving required protection to properly classified information, including the identity of covert officers.

One might call this all-too-common syndrome Self-Aggrandizing Dismissiveness (SAD). Sadly, Petraeus is merely the latest exemplar of the SAD syndrome. The unbridled ambitions of some of his predecessors at CIA – the arrogant John Deutch, for example – have been equally noxious and destructive. But we’ll leave that for the next chapter.

[For more on Petraeus’s corruption and his close ties to self-interested neoconservatives, see “Neocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War.”]
Full Disclosure: Petraeus has not yet answered McGovern’s letter of Feb. 3 regarding why McGovern was barred from a public speaking event by Petraeus in New York City on Oct. 30, 2014, and then was roughly arrested by police and jailed for the night. McGovern wonders if Petraeus failed to respond because he was pre-occupied working out his Plea Agreement.

Ray McGovern worked for a total of 27 years in all four of CIA’s main directorates. He served under seven Presidents and nine CIA Directors, and is co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS). He now works for Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.