Showing posts with label CIA. Show all posts
Showing posts with label CIA. Show all posts

Monday, May 25

5G TERREMOTO FINANZIARIO

Un report della Brookings Institution di Washington DC ripercorre i rapporti fra Italia e Cina. Il M5S ha rapporti organici con Pechino, e il suo alleato al governo, il PD, non fa niente per raddrizzare il tiro.  5G e Golden Power? Le leggi non bastano, l'ultima parola è della politica “Giocando con il fuoco”. 

Il titolo del nuovo report della Brookings Institution, prestigioso think tank di Washington DC, sulla politica italiana e le sue scelte internazionali, è già un programma. Il nuovo paper è un riflettore acceso dagli Stati Uniti sulla special relationship fra Italia e Cina. 

O meglio, fra questa politica italiana e la Cina, se è vero che mai come negli ultimi due anni, con i governi Conte 1 e bis, l’Italia si è avvicinata al Dragone. Il Movimento Cinque Stelle è un caso di scuola per il think tank. 

“Con il recente governo Cinque Stelle-Lega, i rapporti fra Italia e Cina sono diventati un punto di discordia fra i partner della coalizione”. “La richiesta dei Cinque Stelle di un approccio alternativo alla politica estera, soprattutto vis-à-vis Paesi come Cina e Russia, si è tinta di un forte euro-scetticismo e di un più lieve anti-americanismo”.

La passione cinese del Movimento, scrive la visiting fellow Giovanna De Maio, è rimasta intatta nel passaggio da un governo all’altro. Ed è stata suggellata da una scelta del ministro degli Esteri Luigi Di Maio. Ovvero “trasferire le competenze per la promozione internazionale degli interessi delle aziende e dei brand italiani al ministero degli Affari Esteri”.

Il trasloco dell’ICE dal MISE alla Farnesina, così come la scelta di nominare capo di Gabinetto l’ex ambasciatore a Pechino Ettore Sequi, scrive Brookings, è “un segno che il M5S vuole un maggiore controllo sull’agenda economica italiana e assicurare continuità nell’apertura dell’Italia alla Cina”.

Se un merito si vuole proprio riconoscere alla posizione del M5S, è quello di essere chiara, inequivocabile. Lo stesso non si può proprio dire per i suoi partners di governo, il PD Nicola Zingaretti, l'IV di Matteo Renzi. 

Sul dossier cinese, al Nazareno, l’ambiguità regna sovrana. “Il PD, che ha sempre avuto una visione transatlantica della politica estera, è rimasto sostanzialmente in silenzio sul tema della Cina”.  “Il silenzio è probabilmente motivato dalla paura di destabilizzare ulteriormente un governo già precario”, sentenzia Brookings.

Un focus a parte è dedicato a una delle questioni più scottati dell’agenda di politica estera: la rete 5G

Quando si discute di 5G si parla di Sicurezza Nazionale, di Politica Estera e Difesa, di Politiche Industriali, di Politica Sanitaria, ecc... 

La rinascita dell'Italia passa anche da politiche tecnologiche lungimiranti capaci di coniugare le libertà politiche e civili con l'economia digitale più avanzata. Nessuno deve sottrarsi a questa sfida. L'analisi convincente di Mayer.

A differenza degli Stati Uniti e di altri Paesi democratici in Italia il processo di interazione tra Agenzie di Intelligence e decisori governativi è raramente oggetto di ricerca accademica e riflessione pubblica. 

Se non vogliamo che le disposizioni previste dalla Legge 124/2007 in materia di cultura della Sicurezza restino sulla carta non basta continuare con i road show lodevolmente promossi dal DIS nelle aule universitarie. 

Senza intaccare di un millimetro la massima segretezza e il massimo riserbo che devono caratterizzare l’intera attività del comparto, la fisiologica dialettica tra organismi di Intelligence e decisori politici è materia da approfondire anche nel nostro Paese come avviene in ogni democrazia matura.

Supponiamo che in sede CISR (Comitato Interministeriale per la Sicurezza della Repubblica) il dossier tecnico sul 5G sia interpretato diversamente da diverse componenti dell’esecutivo

Per esempio la componente A non dà troppo peso alle preoccupazioni espresse in sede tecnica (in merito alla protezione dei dati) perché essa ritiene prioritario attuare integralmente il memorandum per la Via della Seta siglato dal governo Conte 1 (telecomunicazioni incluse). 

La componente B, invece, é più prudente. Essa auspica che il “CISR tecnico” previsto dalla legge 124/2007 svolga un supplemento di istruttoria. Si tratta di capire se i desideri espressi della componente A (Telecom/Via della Seta siano compatibili con quanto previsto in materia di sicurezza cibernetica nazionale e telecomunicazioni) nell’ambito dell’Alleanza atlantica. 

In uno scenario ipotetico come quello che ho appena descritto i profili tecnici e quelli politici sono nitidamente distinti. Gli organismi di Intelligence – giustamente gelosi delle loro prerogative – devono dire come stanno le cose fornendo ai politici il massimo dei supporti informativi; il decisore politicoil Governo – (e ovviamente la sua maggioranza parlamentare) devono decidere.

Il futuro del 5G in Italia non, infatti, è materia che può restare chiusa nelle segrete stanze. Non stiamo parlando di garanzie funzionali, di fondi riservati, di protezioni delle fonti, di classifiche di segretezza, di segreto di Stato, di servizi collegati, di operazioni Humint, Sigint o quant’altro.

Inaugurando la fase due il presidente Conte è stato molto netto: “L’Italia che vogliamo è più verde, digitale e inclusiva”. Bene più digitale, ma come? Il 5G ha implicazioni strategiche di lungo periodo per il sistema Paese come sottolineato più volte anche in sede COPASIR

È decisivo per il futuro del Sistema Italia, per la protezione del suo grande patrimonio scientifico, tecnologico e industriale; è altrettanto determinante per evitare che il totalitarismo digitale promosso dai regimi illiberali eroda i principi democratici del nostro ordinamento costituzionale. 

Se posso permettermi un suggerimento al presidente del Consiglio – più che preoccuparsi di concentrare nelle sue mani le competenze previste dalla Legge 124 – dovrebbe da un lato potenziare il ruolo del CISR, dall’altro “stanare” i leader dei partiti della sua stessa maggioranza.

È davvero strano che Vito Crimi, Nicola Zingaretti, Matteo Renzi, Roberto Speranza non abbiano - tutt'oggi - niente da dire su una materia così importante. 

E il discorso non può peraltro limitarsi alla maggioranza; il presidente ha recentemente dichiarato “con le opposizioni noi abbiamo il dovere di proporre, di confrontarci, di dialogare”. 

Sarebbe interessante sapere cosa Matteo Salvini pensa delle politiche digitali della Russia? 

O cosa Forza Italia pensa del Social Credit System cinese? 

La rinascita dell’Italia passa anche da politiche tecnologiche lungimiranti capaci di coniugare le libertà politiche e civili con l’economia digitale più avanzata. Nessuno deve sottrarsi a questa sfida.

Come è noto gli USA ritengono un rischio l’accesso al 5G di aziende cinesi vicine al PCC (Partito Comunista Cinese). In una parola, Huawei, il campione della telefonia mobile di Shenzen coinvolto in una guerra senza esclusione di colpi con l’amministrazione Trump.

In Italia, l’azienda di Ren Zhengfei ha una presenza solida, e consolidata negli anni. Il governo ha di molto rafforzato la struttura normativa preposta alla protezione della rete con il Perimetro di sicurezza nazionale cibernetica, ma non ha valutato, come invece richiesto dal governo USA, un’esclusione diretta di Huawei.

L’idea, peraltro condivisa da altri Paesi UE, è che i rischi possano essere “mitigati” con interventi ad hoc

Non convince la Brookings, che scrive: “La natura complessa di questa tecnologia rivoluzionaria rende difficile fornire qualsiasi garanzia sulla sicurezza, a causa del rischio di una backdoor, nascosta da Huawei, per aver accesso ai dati”. 

“L’assenza di una strategia di lungo periodo e una strategia cinese espone davvero l’Italia ai rischi di un boomerang economico”, spiega il think tank. 

Dai takeover ventilati delle aziende italiane agli investimenti diretti esteri, il rischio che la Cina approfitti delle maglie aperte dalla crisi economica è tutt’altro che remoto. 

“In assenza di una risposta imponente e coordinata a livello europeo, l’Italia si affiderà sempre più alla Cina per gli investimenti e altra assistenza economica”. È un pericolo, in assenza di condizioni che, per il momento, non esistono.

“Senza una supervisione sostanziale e una strategia previdente del governo per proteggere i settori strategici – ma soprattutto senza stabilità politica e un approccio alla Cina coerente nel tempo – l’Italia rischia di finire sommersa dalla potenza economica e tecnologica cinese”. 

Gli strumenti normativi di screening degli investimenti in Italia ci sono, e sono “robusti”, spiega il report. Ma l’ultima parola spetta comunque alla politica

A differenza degli USA, non esiste un meccanismo di screening indipendente come il CFIUS (Committe on Foreign investments of the USA). “Nonostante l’ampiamento della legge sullo screening, la decisione di applicare il “golden power” è alla fine una decisione politica”.

Wednesday, May 6

AVVOCATO DI UN POPOLO ITALIANO INCAZZATO NERO

Questo (g)overno non sottovaluti l'importanza dell'Intelligence. È inspiegabile perché Giuseppi trattenga le deleghe per sé, invece di affidarle a un collaboratore politico o istituzionale di sua fiducia, che possa esercitarle a tempo pieno.

L’attacco al premier è uno sport nazionale al quale mi associerò, anche perché convinto che nessuno oggi nemmeno lui possa maneggiare i dossier di un’emergenza imperscrutabile e dei suoi riflessi a livello domestico ed internazionale. 

E tuttavia sarebbe ancora più colpevole omissione far mancare un costruttivo apporto critico a quelli che sembrano inequivocabili o almeno inspiegabili errori, sopratutto quando questi riguardino materie poco conosciute perché poco coperte dai media o perché poco familiari.

È il caso dell’Intelligence e della Sicurezza Nazionale, settori tanto delicati e vitali quanto esposti - e già occorso, nel passato anche recente - a provvedimenti poco meditati. E gravi nelle conseguenze, perché incidono direttamente sugli interessi e sulla Sicurezza.

Nel concreto, resta ancora inspiegabile come Giuseppi, l'avvocato del popolo italiano, trattenga per sé le deleghe per i Servizi di Informazione e Sicurezza e non si decida ad affidarle a un collaboratore politico o istituzionale di sua fiducia, che possa esercitarle.

Come poco logico appare al contempo che lo stesso Giuseppi si sia messo nelle condizioni di avvicendare il Direttore dell’AISE nel pieno di una “GUERRA BIOLOGICA”, non trovando nessun altro se non il Direttore in carica dell’AISE per la presidenza di LEONARDO HOLDING, società questa che tra l’altro non aveva bisogno di un nuovo presidente in quanto è "profumo di per se".

Quella della sottostima di via XX Settembre pare lo scotto che la collettività sia costretta a pagare ogni qualvolta il timone del governo venga preso da un neofita -pericoloso- della politica.

Vi è infatti più di una evidenza che nel passato le funzioni e le potenzialità dei Servizi quale supporto alle decisioni di governo, non siano state colte subito e appieno dal presidente appena insediato: Mario Monti è il caso più recente; anche lui tenace nel trattenere le deleghe, si è fatto cogliere in tale condizione dalla vicenda dei Fucilieri di Marina gestita anche per questo in maniera scoordinata e dilettantesca. 

Ben altra cosa se egli si fosse deciso subito a porre al suo fianco Gianni De Gennaro, preso a bordo quando i buoi erano già TUTTI scappati. 

Ben altra cosa anche la pandemia rispetto ai Marò o a qualsiasi altro scenario emergenziale: mai come ora le antenne di una corretta informazione debbono essere protese all’ascolto, mai come ora l’evolvere degli eventi deve essere correttamente interpretato, elaborato e tramutato in proposte operative al decisore istituzionale.

Mi permetterò quindi, pur non richiesto, di evidenziare all'avvocato del popolo italiano, presidente Giuseppi, la necessità che si faccia affiancare in plancia di comando da un collaboratore di fiducia -un profilo alla Marco Minniti tanto per intenderci- e gli ceda tutti i dossier che altrimenti non so come egli, in queste condizioni, potrebbe studiare e approfondire.

Tenga presente poi che nel settore dell’Intelligence non ci sono “Papa neri”, per ogni modifica di management (quale quella prossima al vertice dell’AISE), deve poter attingere da un basket di professionalità consolidate, la discontinuità in certi organismi è un rischio troppo alto di cui non ci si rende conto neanche a cose fatte, un infedele o un incapace in strutture istituzionali aperte lo si può individuare a posteriori e intervenire, nei Servizi si rischia di non accorgersene mai o quando è troppo tardi. Che Dio ci salvi!

Friday, March 27

2007 SUL CORONA VIRUS GIA' SI SAPEVA LA VIRULENZA

Influenza aviaria e pandemia: arriverà mai un'altra "spagnola"? Se lo domandavano i "cervelloni dell'ISS" nel 2006: leggi a pag 03

Saturday, February 29

GIORNALISTI COMPRATI DA DECENNI

Il 13 gennaio 2017, è morto Udo Ulfkotte.A causa di un infarto cardiaco, apparentemente, sebbene l’immediata cremazione del corpo e l’assenza di un’autopsia non mancheranno di alimentare, proprio per lui che è sempre stato descritto come un teorico della cospirazione, gravi dubbi sulle reali cause della sua morte. 

Nato nel 1960 a Lippstadt in Vestfalia studiò diritto e scienze politiche all’Università di Friburgo dove ottenne il dottorato di ricerca con una dissertazione sulla politica americana e sovietica nel Medio Oriente

Nel 1986 entrò alla redazione della Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) dove fu per anni corrispondente dall’estero ed acquisì una profonda conoscenza di decine di Paesi, specie in Medio Oriente. 

In quegli anni, così riferì lo stesso Udo Ulfkotte in un’intervista a Russia Today e nel suo recente libro dedicato al tema, egli partecipò a un diffuso sistema di corruttela dei giornalisti tedeschi,indotti da prebende e pressioni a diffondere notizie la cui finalità non era tanto quella di raccontare la verità, quanto quella…di Alessandro Fusillo

POLITICIANS, INTELLIGENCE AGENCY & HIGH FINANCE CONTROL EUROPE MASS MEDIA



Udo Ulfkotte (Lippstadt, 20 January 1960 - 13 January 2017) was a German journalist. He worked as a publisher for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) newspaper.

Udo Ulfkotte became famous in 2014 with the publication of the book Gekaufte Journalisten, "Journalists bought" in which he revealed that he had been in the pay of the CIA and therefore of the USA for 17 years and as the CIA itself and other Secret Service Agencies 
(between CIA , MI6, DB, DSE, to which the Bundesnachrichtendienst BND, German Intelligence) pay money to Western journalists to put some news in a light favorable to them, when not openly propaganda or pro-NATO, suggesting to these journalists that they could easily lose their job in the media if they did not respect the "pro-western agenda".

Having confessed to being sick and near death, he would have decided to unravel the intrigues and agreements currently existing and hidden on which world and European society is based.


Ulfkotte was on the staff of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation from 1999 to 2003. He won the civic prize of the Annette Barthelt Foundation in 2003. Ulfkotte published a magazine called Whistleblower, reporting on topics not covered by the German media.



The BDB merged with Ulfkotte's Pax Europa organisation to form Bürgerbewegung Pax Europa, but Ulfkotte left this in 2008 after an internal dispute. Pax Europa was affiliated to the anti-Muslim Stop Islamisation of Europe (SIOE) alliance and approached the far-right Belgian party Vlaams Belang (VB) for their assistance.
It worked with them to organise an anti-Islamic 9/11 anniversary march in Brussels in 2007, but mayor Freddy Thielemans refused to licence it and it was eventually cancelled, leading to a split between Ulfkotte and SIOE.[14]

Ulfkotte had planned to run for the Hamburg local elections in 2008, as number two on the Centre Party's list,[15] but later withdrew in June/July 2007. In July 2007, Ulfkotte announced he would found a new national party,[13] but this effort failed.

Ulfkotte was a speaker at rallies of the right-wing anti-Islam Pegida movement  and the right-wing party AfD.

In 2014, Ulfkotte published the book Gekaufte Journalisten (German Bought Journalists: How Politicians, Intelligence Agencies and High Finance Control Germany’s Mass Media), in which he stated that the CIA and other secret services pay money to journalists to report stories in a certain light. 

According to Ulfkotte, the CIA and German intelligence (BND) bribe journalists in Germany to write pro-NATO propaganda articles, and it is well understood that one may lose their media job if they fail to comply with the pro-Western agenda. This is part of a larger pattern of media corruption he describes in the book. The first English edition of the book, "Journalists for Hire," was never published, leading to speculation the book had been suppressed or "privished." 

A new translation was finally released under the title "Presstitutes" Der Spiegel noted that "Ulfkotte's book was published by Kopp, a melting pot for conspiracy theorists. Kopp publishes works by ufologists, and by authors who claim the Americans destroyed the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center themselves in 2001. 

Ulfkotte's book was on the bestseller lists for months. "Bought Journalists" is the bible of all those who have renounced their faith in the German media. Ulfkotte's critics see the book as a vendetta against the FAZ, which he left on bad terms."

Ulfkotte died from a heart attack on 13 January 2017 at the age of 56. In April 2017, Jonas Schneider published an e-book which alleges that Ulfkotte's death was a concealed murder.

Saturday, June 30

1st EP. - THE GREAT PUPPETEERS OF THE LIBYAN TRAGEDY

LAST GADAFI's TIME FEBRUAR 22, 2011
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


Tuesday, April 24

THE SPECIAL FEELINGS BETWEEN C.I.A. AND MONTENEGRO

Dedicate to H.E. JOHN McCAINE (from Adriaticus)

U.S. Congressional investigators want to know what an former CIA operative was doing in Montenegro last fall at the time of an alleged Russian backed coup plot against NATO’s newest member.
Michele Rigby and Joseph Assad
(U.S. authorities say they are curious why former CIA operative Joseph Assad, seen above in 2016 with his wife, Michele, was in Montenegro last fall around when an alleged coup plot was foiled). 
Photo by Lady Hereford/ Palm Beach Atlantic University
Former Central Intelligence Agency‎ Officer Joseph Assad is celebrated in Washington for helping extract dozens of Iraqi Christians from Islamic State territory in 2015‎. Last October, days before a hotly contested national election in Montenegro, Mr. Assad flew to the tiny Balkan country that has been the subject of tensions between the U.S. and Russia.


The imbroglio is a sign that old East-versus-West spy games are alive again in Europe. Current and former U.S. and Russian officials acknowledge privately that their operatives are at work in the Balkans and in Montenegro in particular.


U.S. and Montenegrin officials say the campaign culminated in a Russian-backed plot that was thwarted at the last moment. The government’s opponents say the events amounted to a fake coup intended to rally the people to the ruling party’s side.


Montenegrin officials said they are investigating whether Mr. Assad was hired to help the alleged perpetrators. Prosecutors have charged 14 people in the alleged plot, including what the indictment describes as a group of Serb nationalists, several of whom called themselves The Wolves. 

The indictment, recently upheld by Montenegrin courts, says the men planned to overthrow Montenegro’s government, possibly kill its prime minister and install a pro-Russian regime. It doesn’t charge Mr. Assad, but names him as a potential contractor hired to help to lead a subsequent escape from the country.

U.S. and allied officials have said it makes no sense that the coup plotters would use an outsider to help extract their team from the country. But Montenegrin and U.S. officials said it is possible Russian operatives wanted to associate a former CIA officer unwittingly with the plot so as to obscure Moscow’s responsibility.

U.S. and allied officials said one reason they believe there was a coup planned was that Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said his country’s security services had found “undeniable and material” evidence to back the Montenegrin account and cooperated with the investigation.

Prosecutors allege in their indictment that Mr. Assad approached a Florida security firm, Patriot Defense Group, looking for someone to help with “counter surveillance and evacuation” for the opposition party.

Brian Scott, a former CIA official and chief executive of Patriot Defense Group (John McCain), said a staff member spoke with Mr. Assad about general security work in Montenegro for a company affiliated with Patriot. Mr. Scott said he didn’t know if the work was to conduct an evacuation, adding his company quickly turned down the job because it wasn’t aligned with his firm’s mission to assist U.S. companies overseas.

Mr. Assad, who hasn’t been indicted, declined to speak to The Wall Street Journal. His lawyer, Vincent Citro, said Mr. Assad had been in Montenegro to assist a friend and colleague who was managing the opposition’s campaign. Mr. Citro says Mr. Assad had nothing to do with any plot and denies Mr. Assad was working as a spy for Russia or anyone else.

Mr. Citro confirmed there was a call between Mr. Assad and Patriot Defense Group. He said Mr. Assad has cooperated with the U.S. government “to clarify misinformation coming from Montenegro” but said he was told his client isn’t under investigation.

A story about Mr. Assad and his wife on the website of his college alma mater and a 2016 profile in a Florida newspaper provides this sketch of Mr. Assad: He is an Egyptian Christian raised in Lebanon and Egypt and is now a naturalized U.S. citizen. He moved to the U.S. to attend Palm Beach Atlantic University in Florida, where he focused on political science and biblical studies and graduated in 1994. In 1999, Mr. Assad and his wife, born in the U.S., both joined the CIA.

In 2015, after Mr. Assad moved to a private security consultancy, ABC’s 20/20 featured a segment on how the Assads helped rescue 149 Iraqi Christians from ISIS.

Among those charged in the alleged plot in Montenegro are two accused Russian operatives, three members of the Montenegrin opposition and nine Serbs. The trial will hinge on the credibility of the government’s main witness, a (unindicted) Serb who in a statement cited in the indictment says he was recruited by a Russian intelligence agent to overthrow a government.

Staff members and investigators of the House Intelligence Committee this week reached out to Mr. Assad and Mr. Scott to ask them questions. “If Americans were involved we need to investigate,” said Rep. Devin Nunes (R., Calif.), the committee’s chairman. He recently visited Montenegro to meet with prosecutors about the allegations of Russian involvement. “This was an attempt to take down the pro-NATO government by Russian interests,” he said.

Last year, Montenegro’s Democratic Party of Socialists, which has ruled the country since independence in 2006 and has pushed for NATO membership, faced a stiff challenge from the Democratic Front, a coalition of opposition groups that campaigned on an anticorruption platform and called for a referendum on NATO.

The opposition hired Aron Shaviv, a British-Israeli campaign manager who had made his mark producing amusing political advertisements for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. With Mr. Shaviv’s satirical ads poking fun of the government on the air, Mr. Shaviv said, he was followed and pulled over by Montenegrin police and security.

Mr. Shaviv said he called Mr. Assad, with whom he had worked previously, to come to Montenegro to conduct a security assessment. Mr. Assad’s lawyer says his client provided the assessments for Mr. Shaviv, then left on the day of the election.


Montenegrin and U.S. congressional investigators have questioned the timing of Mr. Assad’s exit. In conversations with the Journal, they asked why a security adviser would leave his client on the day of the election, hours after high-profile arrests of alleged plotters.

Mr. Shaviv, who hasn’t been accused in the plot, said the Montenegrin prosecutors’ allegations amount to believing Moscow tried to topple a government using a team made up of a political consultant, a former CIA agent and “some farm boys from rural Montenegro with their hunting rifles.”

Mr. Shaviv said Montenegro’s government faced defeat in the October election and whipped up the “sloppiest conspiracy theory ever concocted.” Both the Montenegrin government and ruling-party officials deny the allegation.


While Russian officials deny they are trying to destabilize NATO aspirants or countries on their borders, U.S. officials said they expect more Russian interference across Europe. 

Gen. Ben Hodges, a senior U.S. Army commander in Europe, said Russia is “going to continue doing this, putting pressure on countries on their periphery.”

Write to Julian E. Barnes at julian.barnes@wsj.com and Drew Hinshaw at drew.hinshaw@wsj.com

Sunday, April 15

CHEMICAL ARMS (WEAPONS) THE TRUTH FROM 1918 TO 2018

Edward M. Spiers, professor of strategic studies at Leeds University, in England, explores both the myths and realities of chemical and biological warfare. Organized more or less
chronologically, Spiers recounts the evolution of chemical and biological weapons from the first mass uses of chemical weapons in World War I to the potential of modern biology to transform bioterrorism.

Spiers writes that chemical and biological weapons have probably been around as long as warfare itself. Ancient European, Indian, and Chinese history is replete with the use of poisonous snakes, insects, diseased animals, incendiaries, poison-tipped weapons, and poisoned water supplies in warfare. The first large-scale use of chemical weapons occurred in World War I, when the Germans discharged chlorine gas from cylinders at Ypres, Belgium, in 1915. 

Reported casualties from the gas ranged from 7,000 to 15,000 people, but after the initial surprise, the Allies were able to improvise protective measures. Within five months, the British were able to retaliate at the Battle of Loos, but they suffered 2,000 casualties to their own gas.

The failures of gas to break the enemy’s lines at Ypres, Loos, and other battles contributed to the legacy of gas warfare in World War I as a failure. However, Spiers argues, this legacy was largely shaped by postwar historians, because few participants shared that view. The use of gas actually increased over the course of the war. In addition to consequent casualties, gas negatively affected morale and considerably contributed to psychological and physical stress. Antigas defenses also made warfare more cumbersome, exacerbating logistical and communication challenges.

As evidence of the effectiveness of chemical weapons, real or imagined, Spiers writes that the Allies prohibited Germany from manufacturing and importing asphyxiating or poisonous
gases as part of the Treaty of Versailles that ended the war. Furthermore, in 1925, 44 nations signed the Geneva Protocol, which prohibited the use of chemical and biological weapons by international law and the “conscience and practice of nations.” Nonetheless, during the period between World Wars I and II, Britain considered but, for largely moral and political reasons, did not use chemical weapons in Egypt, Afghanistan, India, and Iraq.

Winston Churchill himself was “strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes,” Spiers writes. The eventual use of gas bombs by the Italians in Ethiopia in 1935–36, however, in direct contravention of the Ge ne va Protocol, reawakened Europe to the possibility of gas warfare. In Britain, more than 50 million “antigas” helmets had been distributed by the beginning of World War II. 

INHUMANE

A Kurdish woman carries photos of relatives killed in chemical weapons attacks ordered
Questions of efficacy aside, Spiers writes that a combination of other factors averted the use
of chemical weapons during the Second World War. Because of the industrial and economic
hardships engendered as a result of the First World War, German, French, and British
chemical production capacity was limited. Hitler personally disdained chemical weapons,
which had injured him during World War I

Moreover, early in World War II, Germany did not need to resort to chemical weapons, and the Allies could not risk using them near friendlycivilian populations. Eventually, Germany did test its V1 and V2 rockets with chemical warheads, although the nation was deterred from using them by fear of reprisal against its civilian population. 

By the end of the war, U.S. military-industrial might had produced the world’s largest stock of chemical weapons and the air power to deliver them. However, the development of the atomic bomb, and success on other fronts, made their use unnecessary.

Biological weapons were not used to a significant extent in either the First or Second World
Wars. Nonetheless, as Spiers describes, there were still chilling reminders of the potential
power of even crude biological weapons. After the Japanese surrender in 1945, six Japanese soldiers released hordes of plague-infested rats and 60 horses infected with glanders into the Chinese countryside, leaving Changchun and surrounding environs uninhabitable until the mid-1950s.

Nuclear weapons, of course, came to dominate deterrence strategies during the Cold War.
Nonetheless, the proliferation of a new class of chemical weapons, nerve agents such as
sarin [2-(fluoro-methylphosphoryl)oxypropane], touched off a new chemical arms race, Spiers writes. From 1954 to 1969, the U.S. also manufactured and stockpiled numerous antiplant and antipersonnel biological weapons.

In Vietnam, the U.S. faced criticism, both at home and abroad, for its use of riot-control agents (to clear tunnels, for example), defoliants, and chemical weapons to kill crops and render soils infertile. In 1967 alone, the U.S. defoliated 1.5 million acres of vegetation and destroyed 220,000 acres of crops in Vietnam. In 1969, the Nixon Administration announced the end of the U.S. biological weapons program, in part, Spiers argues, to blunt criticism for its use of herbicides and riot control agents in Vietnam.

In the meantime, Spiers writes, the Soviets were developing the world’s most advanced chemical and biological weapons program.

During the Cold War, Iran and Iraq also waged a devastating war (1980–88) that again witnessed the mass by former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein.

Credit: Newscom use of chemical weapons. The Iraq Survey Group (ISG) later confirmed that the Iraqis had used some 1,800 tons of mustard agent, 140 tons of tabun (ethyl Ndimethyl phosphoramido cyanidate), and 600 tons of sarin. 

Iraq estimated these attacks resulted in more than 30,000 Iranian casualties (compared with the 500,000 to 1 million estimated total Iranian casualties). As Spiers notes, although the number of casualties from chemical weapons may have been small on a relative basis, the psychological impact was significant. Iraq’s ballistic missiles, and the fear of their potential to deliver chemical warheads to Iranian cities, played a role in Iran’s accepting the United Nations-brokered truce in 1988. Iraqi chemical weapons also helped to suppress the internal Kurdish rebellion, killing and injuring thousands of Kurds and leading to the flight of 65,000 others to Turkey in 1988, Spiers writes.

By the 1990 invasion of Kuwait, Iraq had significantly restocked and improved its chemical weapons capabilities. U.S. Central Commander Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf originally planned for 10,000 to 20,000 chemical weapons casualties, but Iraq never resorted to chemical weapons. The George H. W. Bush Administration had already decided not to respond with nuclear or chemical weapons if coalition forces were attacked with chemical weapons, but they deliberately conveyed the opposite impression.

Iraqi Ambassador to the U.S. Tariq Aziz later commented that the Iraqis understood that the use of chemical weapons might very well provoke the use of nuclear weapons against Baghdad by the U.S. Although Iraq’s SCUD missile attacks against Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain inflicted minimal physical damage, the specter of chemical warheads inflicted great psychological damage. Spiers quotes Schwarzkopf: “The biggest concern was a chemical warhead threat. … Each time they launched … the question was, is this going to be a chemical missile. That was what you were concerned about.” 

Their unique ability to engender such fears, of course, is precisely what makes chemical and biological weapons appealing to terrorists. As Spiers astutely notes, “terrorists can choose when, where, and how to attack their targets, they can avoid many of the uncertainties that have bedeviled the military use of chemical and biological weapons. By maximizing the element of surprise, they can attack targets with low or non-existent levels of protection; by careful choice of target environment, especially an enclosed facility, they need not wait upon optimum meteorological conditions; by attacking highly vulnerable areas, they may use a less than optimal mode of delivery; and by making a chemical or biological assault, they may expect to capture media attention and cause widespread panic.”

Although chemical weapons have been used much more frequently, Spiers notes that on a per-mass basis, biological weapons are more lethal than chemical weapons. As advances in production technologies can simultaneously result in increased yields in smaller, harder-todetect facilities, the potential utility of biological weapons to terrorists will become even more significant. 


In the most well-known example of biological terrorism to date, in October 2001, just after the 9/11 attacks, anthrax-tainted letters began appearing in the U.S. Despite fears of another international attack, the strain was identified as having come from a domestic source, the Army research facility at Fort Detrick, Md. Letters were received in Florida, New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C., including a Senate office building. As Spiers described it, “massive panic and chaos” erupted, and Congress and the Supreme Court were closed for several days, although only 22 cases of anthrax actually resulted, including just five fatalities.


One of the most sobering developments outlined in the book is the application and
proliferation of emergent molecular biology techniques to the production of biological
weapons. Through the use of genetic engineering, new or modified organisms of greater
virulence, antibiotic resistance, and environmental stability may be produced. 

In one notable example foreshadowing the utility of biotechnology to weapons production, the Soviets developed the host bacterium Yersinia pseudotuberculosis, which through genetic engineering could also produce the myelin toxin. Infected animals developed both the tuberculosis-like symptoms caused by the bacteria and the paralysis induced by the myelin toxin. One former Soviet scientist recalled that after a briefing on the results, “the room was absolutely silent. We all recognized the implications of what the scientists had achieved. A new class of weapon had been found.”

Additional topics in this comprehensive book include the various international attempts at chemical and biological weapons disarmament, deterrence, and nonproliferation, including the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention; the sarin attacks on the Japanese subways in the mid-1990s; the use of chemical warfare in developing-world conflicts; and the embarrassing failures of American and British intelligence regarding Iraqi chemical weapons that led to the second Gulf War. 

For those of us interested in the potential impacts of chemistry and biology on humankind, Spiers’s book is a thoroughly documented, no-nonsense (often to the point of being dry) review of the malevolent potential of our science.

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and here
here