Croatia Sells Record Number of Light Weapons to Saudi Arabia, Channelled to ISIS and Al Nusra Terrorists?

Croatia Sells Record Number of Light Weapons to Saudi Arabia, Channelled to ISIS and Al Nusra?

By Lawrence Marzouk, Ivan Angelovski, and Jelena Svircic

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Zagreb sold a record amount of aging weapons and ammunition to Saudi Arabia in 2016, ignoring evidence the arms are regularly being diverted to Syria.

Croatia has drastically increased its sales of decades-old arms and ammunition to Saudi Arabia despite mounting evidence that the deliveries are being diverted to Syria in breach of European Union (EU) and international law.

The Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, part of the Free Syrian Army, using a Croatian-made RAK-12 in April 2016. Credit: YouTube

Though it has one of the best and most expensively equipped armies in the Middle East, the Gulf Kingdom imported US$ 81.7 million in aging ammunition, including bullets, mortars, rockets, and rocket and grenade launchers worth $5.8 million from Croatia during the first nine months of 2016. This total is already double Croatia’s sales to Saudi Arabia over the previous four years, and the final value will likely be higher, as figures for the last quarter have not yet been published.

Igor Tabak, a Croatian defense analyst, said that the country does not currently produce ammunition. “It is quite likely that the exports come from old ammunition,” he said, “possibly from the inventory of the former Yugoslavia and Eastern [Bloc] production.”

2012 Report by the Croatian Ministry of Defense
2013 Report by the Croatian Ministry of Defense
2014 Report by the Croatian Ministry of Defense

While Croatia has consistently refused to acknowledge that it is profiting from liquidating its old stocks on the Syrian battlefields, defense ministry documents reviewed by the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) and the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) show a major surge in sales from its stockpile coinciding with the start of the civil war in 2012.

According to those reports, the Ministry of Defense, which has a stockpile of around 18,000 tons, sold at least 5,000 tons of surplus ammunition in 2013 and 2014—as much as it had sold in the preceding decade.

A still photo on the left from a video posted by Sword of al-Sham on May 18, 2016, shows Croatian-made RAK-12 rockets marked “AL.” The right photo shows a Croatian soldier with an identical rocket showing the same markings.

The Ministry of Defense did not respond to a request for additional information on who bought the armaments and whether additional sales were made in 2015 and 2016.

Arms Exports: A State Secret

Croatia was among the first countries to supply weapons to Syrian rebels in the winter of 2012. The shipment was routed via Jordan with logistical support from the CIA and paid for by Saudi Arabia, according to a 2013 investigation by the New York Times.

Following a flurry of embarrassing news coverage, Croatia abruptly started removing key information, such as the final destination of its exports, from official reports in an attempt to keep the details of this trade out of the headlines.

A still from a video published by the Fist Coastal Division on August 5, 2015, shows a box containing RAK-12 rocket marked KS (believed to indicate the defunct Koncar factory in Sesvetski Kraljevec, Croatia) produced in 1995. Credit: YouTube

The Ministry of Economy, which is responsible for issuing import/export licenses for weapons and ammunition, told BIRN and OCCRP that a 2012 law on personal data protection prohibits it from giving out this information. This is disputed by the Croatian Data Protection Agency, which said the legislation applies only to individuals, not to companies or governments.

Five non-governmental organizations described the removal of information as a “troubling decline in transparency” in their submission to a United Nations (UN) Human Rights Panel on Croatia in March 2015.

Reporters, however, obtained the data via a little-known UN database, Comtrade, which contains annual international trade statistics from more than 170 countries.

The UN database revealed that Croatia exported $36 million worth of ammunition to Jordan in the two years since the Syrian conflict began in 2012. After Croatia’s role became public, Saudi Arabia took over importing more than $124 million worth of ammunition since 2014 – two thirds in the first nine months of 2016 alone.

A still from a video published by the Fist Coastal Division on June 16, 2015, shows a RAK-12 rocket marked KS (believed to indicate the defunct Koncar factory in Sesvetski Kraljevec, Croatia) produced in 1994. The photo also shows a RAK-12 multiple rocket launcher, also produced in Croatia. Credit: YouTube

The two countries also imported more than $21 million in weapons, including rocket and grenade launchers, since 2012.

Prior to 2012, the arms trade between Croatia, Jordan and Saudi Arabia was virtually nonexistent. Since 2012, all but a few hundred thousand dollars of Croatia’s ammunition sales have gone to Jordan or Saudi Arabia.

A spokesperson of the Croatian Ministry of Economy said that the latest exports took place in accordance with licenses approved in 2015. He also added that some export licenses to Saudi Arabia were rejected in 2015, and none were issued in 2016 but refused to provide any further detail.

An earlier investigation by BIRN and OCCRP revealed that Croatia approved $302 million worth of arms export licenses over this period. Unless these licenses are revoked, millions of dollars in future exports are approved to go forward.

Falling Into the Wrong Hands

While experts have previously highlighted video and photographic evidence of Croatian-made RBG-6 grenade launchers and RAK-12 multiple-launch rocket systems in Syria, Croatian officials have disputed their origin, pointing out that similar weapons are produced elsewhere.

However, new analysis by BIRN and OCCRP of the social media profiles used by brigades fighting in Syria, as well from online enthusiasts who monitor the spread of weapons, provide clear evidence that these weapons are Croatian-made.

Among the weapons and ammunition identified in large quantities in Syria are the RBG-6 grenade launchers and RAK-12 multiple-launch rocket systems, as well as rockets and mortar shells manufactured in the mid-1990s, after Croatia seceded from Yugoslavia:

  • Two videos of arms stashes captured from rebels by Syrian government troops – filmed in December 2016 by Russia Today – reveal unused Croatian-made mortar shells and rockets.
  • Three images shared on Twitter in 2015 and 2016 show grenade-launchers marked RBG-6 in use or for sale in Syria. This model is made only in Croatia.
  • Two videos also show the First Army and the Noureddine Zanki movement, which are moderate, US-backed factions in Syria, using rocket launchers with RAK visible on their sides. Croatia was the only producer of RAK-12s.

But so-called moderate Syrian opposition groups are not the only military formations to have secured Croatian-made weaponry. “We’ve now seen groups like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra using these weapons, although how they acquired them is unclear,” said Eliot Higgins, a London-based citizen journalist.

“[These weapons] could have been looted from other groups, sold between groups, or provided directly (…)” he said. Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat, which uses open source information and social media to track weapons in conflict areas. He was one of the first to identify Balkan-sourced armaments in use in the Syrian war.

Both Amnesty International and the Washington Institute for Near East Policy reported that ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra obtained Croatian and Yugoslav-made rocket and grenade launchers as early as 2013.

Government Denials

Darko Kihalic, head of Croatia’s arms licensing department at the Ministry of Economy, told BIRN and OCCRP that Zagreb has no qualms about selling arms to Saudi Arabia as long as it provides the correct documents.

He said there were no restrictions on exporting to Saudi Arabia and Croatian firms have a right to earn an income.

A photo from a December 28, 2016 RT report about a captured rebel arsenal shows a RAK-12 rocket marked KS (believed to indicate the defunct Koncar factory in Sesvetski Kraljevec, Croatia) produced in 1993. Credit: Youtube

Asked whether he was aware that Croatian weapons bought by Saudi Arabia were turning up in Syria, Kihalic said: “There is nothing more for us to check, as the [export] document says their ministry of defense or police forces [in Saudi Arabia] will use it [the weapon] and that they won’t resell it or export it.”

Human rights groups dispute Kihalic’s view. Patrick Wilcken, an arms researcher for Amnesty International, said that Croatia is obliged to take measures to prevent both weapons from being diverted to another country, and from being used to commit serious human rights violations. Given the mounting evidence of the systematic diversion of arms from Saudi Arabia to armed groups in Syria, Croatia’s failure to take due diligence to prevent further diversion could result in a breach of the EU Common Position and the Arms Trade Treaty.

Bodil Valero, a Green Party member of the European Parliament from Sweden and the parliament’s rapporteur on arms, criticized Croatia and called on the EU to tighten its grip on its members’ arms exports.

“Croatia has used Saudi Arabia as it is not allowed to export to Syria, and it ends up in the hands of ISIS and the Kurds,” she told BIRN and OCCRP. “We have to do much more.”

When it comes to humanitarian concerns the west prefers #fakenews from Syria rather than real news from Yemen

The West’s Moral Hypocrisy on Yemen

Exclusive: The West’s “humanitarian interventionists” howl over bloody conflicts when an adversary can be blamed but go silent when an ally is doing the killing, such as Saudi Arabia in Yemen, reports Jonathan Marshall.

By Jonathan Marshall

Only a few months ago, interventionists were demanding a militant response by Washington to what George Soros branded “a humanitarian catastrophe of historic proportions” — the killing of “hundreds of people” by Russian and Syrian government bombing of rebel-held neighborhoods in the city of Aleppo.

Billionaire currency speculator George Soros. (Photo credit: georgesoros.com)

Leon Wieseltier, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and former New Republic editor, was denouncing the Obama administration as “a bystander to the greatest atrocity of our time,” asserting that its failure to “act against evil in Aleppo” was like tolerating “the evil in Auschwitz.”

How strange, then, that so many of the same “humanitarian” voices have been so quiet of late about the continued killing of many more innocent people in Yemen, where tens of thousands of civilians have died and 12 million people face famine. More than a thousand children die each week from preventable diseases related to malnutrition and systematic attacks on the country’s food infrastructure by a Saudi-led military coalition, which aims to impose a regime friendly to Riyadh over the whole country.

“The U.S. silence has been deafening,” said Philippe Bolopion, deputy director for global advocacy at Human Rights Watch, last summer. “This blatant double standard deeply undermines U.S. efforts to address human rights violations whether in Syria or elsewhere in the world.”

Official acquiescence — or worse — from Washington and other major capitals is encouraging the relentless killing of Yemen’s civilians by warplanes from Saudi Arabia and its allies. Last week, their bombs struck a funeral gathering north of Sanaa, Yemen’s capital, killing nine women and a child and injuring several dozen more people.

A day earlier, officials reported a deadly “double-tap” airstrike, first targeting women at a funeral in Sanaa, then aimed at medical responders who rushed in to save the wounded. A United Nations panel of experts condemned a similar double-tap attack by Saudi coalition forces in October, which killed or wounded hundreds of civilians, as a violation of international law.

The Tragedy of Mokha

On Feb. 12, an air strike on the Red Sea port city of Mokha killed all six members of a family headed by the director of a maternal and childhood center. Coalition ground forces had launched an attack on Mokha two weeks earlier.

Xinhua news agency reported, “the battles have since intensified and trapped thousands of civilian residents in the city, as well as hampered the humanitarian operation to import vital food and fuel supplies . . . The Geneva-based UN human rights office said that it received extremely worrying reports suggesting civilians and civilian objects have been targeted over the past two weeks in the southwestern port city . . . Reports received by UN also show that more than 200 houses have been either partially damaged or completely destroyed by air strikes in the past two weeks.”

The U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator further reported that “scores of civilians” had been killed or wounded by the bombing and shelling of Mokha, and that residents were stranded without water or other basic life-supporting services.

That could be Aleppo, minus only the tear-jerking photos of dead and wounded children on American television. However, unlike Syria, Yemen’s rebels don’t have well-financed public relations offices in Western capitals. They pay no lip service to the United States, democracy, or international human rights. Their foe Saudi Arabia is a friend of Washington, not a long-time adversary. In consequence, few American pundits summon any moral outrage at the Saudi-led coalition, despite findings by a United National Panel of Experts that many of its airstrikes violate international law and, in some cases, represent “war crimes.”

Aiding and Abetting

The United States hasn’t simply turned a blind eye to such crimes; it has aided them by selling Saudi Arabia the warplanes it flies and the munitions it drops on Yemeni civilians. It has also siphoned 54 million pounds of jet fuel from U.S. tanker planes to refuel coalition aircraft on bombing runs. The pace of U.S. refueling operations has reportedly increased sharply in the last year.

Saudi King Salman bids farewell to President Barack Obama at Erga Palace after a state visit to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 27, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

The Obama administration initially supported the Saudi coalition in order to buy Riyadh’s reluctant support for the Iran nuclear deal. Over time, Saudi Arabia joined with anti-Iran hawks to portray Yemen’s rebels as pawns of Tehran to justify continued support for the war. Most experts — including U.S. intelligence officials — insist to the contrary that the rebels are a genuinely indigenous force that enjoys limited Iranian support at best.

As I have documented previously, all of the fighting in Yemen has damaged U.S. interests by creating anarchy conducive to the growth of Al Qaeda extremists. They have planned or inspired major acts of terrorism against the West, including an attempt to blow up a U.S. passenger plane in 2009 and a deadly attack on the Parisian newspaper Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. The Saudis tolerate them as Sunni allies against the rebels, in the name of curbing Iran.

Though the Obama administration is gone, the Trump administration is flush with ideologues who are eager to take a stand against Tehran through Yemen and look tough on “terrorism.” Within days of taking office, President Trump approved a commando raid targeting an alleged Al Qaeda compound in central Yemen that went awry, killing an estimated 10 women and children. The administration has also diverted a U.S. destroyer to patrol Yemen’s coast.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, to his credit, has cited “the urgent need for the unfettered delivery of humanitarian assistance throughout Yemen,” according to a department spokesman. But no amount of humanitarian aid will save Yemen’s tormented people from the bombs made in America and dropped from U.S.-made warplanes, with little protest from Washington’s so-called “humanitarian interventionists.”

Jonathan Marshall is author of many recent articles on arms issues, including “Obama’s Unkept Promise on Nuclear War,” “How World War III Could Start,” “NATO’s Provocative Anti-Russian Moves,” “Escalations in a New Cold War,” and “Ticking Closer to Midnight.”

ISIS Linked Group Expands Foothold in S. Syria Near Their Allies, israel

ISIS Linked Group Expands Foothold in S. Syria Near Israel

By Suleiman Al-Khalidi | AMMAN

AMMAN Islamic State-linked Syrian militant groups on Monday launched a surprise attack on moderate rebels in southwestern Syria near the Golan Heights near where the Jordanian and Israeli borders converge, seizing several villages and a large town, rebels and witnesses said.

Rebels said the militants were able to extend their area of control in territory that forms a natural barrier between Syria and Israel where the Yarmouk River flows after they overran the towns of Tseel, Sahem al Golan, Adwan and Tel Jamoua.

“In a surprise attack Islamic State made an attack on positions held by the Free Syrian Army FSA groups which no one expected to happen so fast,” said Colonel Ismail Ayoub, a Syrian opposition army defector.

The militants launched a wide-scale dawn attack from their enclave where they are entrenched in the towns of Jamla, Ain Zakar Nafaa and al Shajra, deploying dozens of armored vehicles and several tanks to overrun nearby towns aided by sleeper cells among locals who helped the attackers, two rebel sources said.

The jihadists were later driven out of at least two villages – Jileen and Heet – after a counteroffensive by Southern Front groups, an alliance of FSA factions that coordinates operations from a joint command center in Jordan, said Abu Yahya, a rebel official in the Jabhat Thwar Surya faction

It includes groups that have received some support from foreign states including Gulf Arab governments.

The Sunni hardline militants are members of the so-called Khalid Ibn Al Walid Army, a grouping set up last year from a merger of two main militant jihadist factions who are believed to have pledged allegiance to Islamic State and now control the strip of territory southeast of the Golan Heights.

Jordanian army units stationed along the border were put in a state of heightened readiness, a Jordanian security source said, and residents in the area said sounds of mortars were heard clearly from the fighting across the border.

A rebel official told Reuters that several FSA rebel groups were expected to get fresh supplies of arms from Jordan in the next few weeks to beef up their defenses against the ultra-hardline Sunni radicals.

Earlier this month the Jordanian air force said it conducted air strikes against the militants in the area, destroying an ammunition depot, a car bomb factory and barracks.

Militants had reportedly executed several people in Tseel, the largest town that fell into militants’ hands on Monday and which has been a haven for tens of thousands of displaced peoples

Tseel and most of the area captured by the militants had until early last year been in their hands until an alliance of FSA groups and rival Islamist groups wrested control and then managed to lay siege on their territorial enclave.

The ultra-hardline militants’ offensive came as heavy fighting between rebels and the Syrian army entered its second week in Deraa city, nearly 40 km (25 miles) east of the Yarmouk Valley, in the first such surge of violence in over a year and a half.

The timing of the Islamic State-affiliated group’s offensive has prompted accusations they had exploited the preoccupation of the FSA rebels in ongoing battles with the Syrian army.

Rebel advances in a strategic district held by the army have prompted Russia to wage an intensive bombing campaign of rebel-held parts of the southern city for the first time since Moscow’s major intervention in September 2015.

The capture of Manshiya district would put the remaining government-held part of the city within firing range of the rebels and thwart repeated army attempts to rupture supply lines linking rebel-held areas to the east and west of the city.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

US Troops Don’t Belong in Syria, not to mention fact it would be contrary to International Law

US Troops Don’t Belong in Syria  by Doug Bandow

President Donald Trump instructed the Pentagon to develop a strategy to defeat the Islamic State. Apparently one of the options is introducing U.S. combat forces to confront ISIS. Americans could be fighting in Syria in just a few weeks. That would be an extraordinarily foolish policy.

An F/A-18F Super Hornet takes off from the US navy’s super carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69) (‘Ike’) in the Mediterranean Sea on July 7, 2016. (ALBERTO PIZZOLI/AFP/Getty Images)

Defeating the Islamic State is not America’s responsibility. It arose out of Syria’s spiral into civil war and Iraq’s descent into sectarian rule. In the first ruthless Islamists proved to be the most effective opponents of the Assad regime. In the second desperate Sunnis preferred ISIS’s 7th century warriors to Baghdad’s modern sectarian killers.

Originally the Islamic State in the Levant, which grew out of al-Qaeda in Iraq, focused on creating a “caliphate,” or quasi-government. Although hostile to America, its principal enemies were states in the Middle East: Shiite Iraq, Syria’s Alawite-dominated government, independence-minded Kurds, Sunni monarchies from Jordan to Saudi Arabia, and Turkey with its secular, practical heritage. Add to that military-ruled Egypt, drawn into the struggle after the slaughter of Coptic Christian workers kidnapped in Libya. Despite the Islamic State’s initial defeat of ill-led Iraqi forces and assumption of a lead role in the Syrian insurgency, the insurgent group faced an overwhelming if largely disorganized coalition.

Bringing these forces to bear would have been complicated and time-consuming. But the initial success of Daesh, as it is known in the Middle East, would have forced its opponents to commit more to defeat the movement. And the Islamic State’s terrorist retaliation, its only means of fighting back against nation states with an overwhelming conventional military advantage, would have been focused on its Middle Eastern opponents.

However, in 2014 the U.S. took the lead in attempting to build an anti-ISIS coalition. Unfortunately, turning the battle into one between Islamic crusaders and the Great Satan helped the Islamic State’s recruitment efforts. America’s involvement also allowed allied states to back away. Turkey and the Gulf states were more interested in ousting Bashar al-Assad than defeating ISIS. Ankara actually accommodated ISIS for some time before moving against the Islamists, and even now more seriously battles Syrian Kurdish forces. The Gulf States largely abandoned the conflict, launching an unprovoked, aggressive assault on Yemen, which the Obama administration backed in a misguided show of allied solidarity.

A member of the Syrian Democratic Forces made up of US-backed Kurdish and Arab fighters, stands guard near the village of Bir Fawaz, 20 km north of Raqa, during their offensive towards the Islamic State’s Syrian stronghold, on February 8, 2017. (DELIL SOULEIMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In Syria Washington found itself lost amid a welter of conflicting powers with different objectives. The administration sought to overthrow Assad, even though he was the strongest barrier against Islamic extremists. The Obama administration sought to simultaneously work with the Kurds and Turkey. In Iraq, America found itself backing a sectarian government guilty of war crimes allied with Iranian militias.

Suspected US Airstrikes Kill 11 Syrian Civilians

Suspected US Airstrikes Kill 11 Syrian Civilians

35 Others Wounded in Attacks Around Town of al-Sur

Heavy airstrikes pounded the northern Deir Ezzor Province town of al-Sur, killing at least 11 civilians and wounding 35 others, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. Many of the wounded are in bad shape, and the death toll is expected to rise.

Al-Sur, like the overwhelming majority of the Deir Ezzor Province, is under ISIS control. The Syrian government controls some territory in the provincial capital, and the Kurdish YPG has seized a pair of villages in the far northwest of the province.

That the Kurdish invasion is happening not far from al-Sur, there is considerable speculation that the airstrikes were carried out by US warplanes supporting the Kurds, though as of yet there has been no claim of responsibility from anyone for the attack.

While Syria does launch some airstrikes in Deir Ezzor Province themselves, their focus has mostly been on keeping ISIS away from the airport, and it wouldn’t make much sense for them to suddenly attack al-Sur so far to the north of their sphere of influence.

Four Dead Russian Diplomats in Three Months

Posted on February 21, 2017

Russia’s long time ambassador to the UN has died suddenly in New York – this is the fourth Russian diplomat who has died in the last 3 months.

Vitaly Churkin was one of the wisest voices in international diplomacy.  His voice will no longer echo in the halls of the United Nations. Articulate, polite yet commanding, wise yet affable, he oversaw some of Russia’s and the world’s most important events in a position he occupied since 2006.

Churkin had to face a great deal of hostile criticism from both the Bush and Obama administrations during his time at the UN, but he always did so with grace. He never failed to explain the Russian position with the utmost clarity.

Standing next to some of his colleagues, he often looked like a titan in a room full of school children.

His death, a day before his 65th birthday, is a tragedy first and foremost for his family, friends and colleagues. It is also a deeply sad day for the cause of justice, international law and all of the principles of the UN Charter which Churkin admirably upheld in the face of great obstacles.

His death however raises many uncomfortable questions…

Here are 5 things that must be considered:

1.  A Macabre Pattern Has Emerged  

Beginning in 2015, there were several deaths within the Russian Diplomatic corps and a special Russian Presidential adviser.

–LESIN

First there was Russia’s RT founder and special adviser to President Putin, Mikhail Lesin. He died in November of 2015 in his hotel room. Reports said that he appeared discombobulated during his last sighting before he died. Later it emerged that he died of a blunt head trauma. Drinking was blamed, but many questions were left unanswered.

–MALANIN

Earlier last month, Andrei Malanin, a Senior Russian Diplomat to Greece was found dead in his bathroom. The causes of death remain unknown.

–KADAKIN

Just last month, Russia’s Ambassador to India, Alexander Kadakin, an always prestigious role, died of a heart attack, although no one was aware of any previous health issues.

–KARLOV

In December of last year Russia’s Ambassador to Turkey was assassinated by a lone jihadi gunmen in an art gallery.  There was no effective security as the killer simply walked up to Ambassador Andrei Karlov and shot him multiple times in the back.

–CHURKIN

Vitaly Chirkin is the highest profile member of Russia’s diplomatic corps to die in recent years.

2. A Motive For Foul Play? 

Each of the recently deceased Russian Ambassadors were high profile targets for miscreants and criminals, whether state actors, mercenaries or fanatics.

Lesin was a instrumental in the creation of RT, a news outlet which has come under constant attack from the western establishment.

Malanin had overseen a period of warming fraternal relations between Greece and Russia at a time when Greece is feeling increasingly alienated from both the EU and NATO.

Karlov is said to be responsible for helping to facilitate the rapprochement between Presidents Erdogan and Putin.

Kadakin oversaw a period of renewed tensions between India and Pakistan at a time when Russia was trying to continue its good relations with India whilst building good relations with Pakistan.

On the 31st of December, 2016, Churkin’s resolution on a ceasefire in Syria passed in the UN Security Council after months of deadlock. The resolution is still in force.

Anyone who wanted to derail the diplomatic successes that the aforementioned men achieved for Russia would have a clear motive to extract vengeance.

3. Who Stands To Gain? 

In the matter of Karlov, any derailment of restored Russo-Turkish relations would be good for those happy for Turkey to continue her support of jihadists in Syria rather than moving towards accepting a Russian and indeed Iranian brokered peace process which respects the sovereignty of Syria as Russia and Iran always have, but Turkey has not.

In the case of Lesin, anyone wanting ‘vengeance’ for RT’s popularity would be able to say that a kind of former media boss was taken down.

For Malanin, many fear that if ‘Grexit’ happens, Russia will become an increasingly important partner for Greece. The EU would not like one of its vassal states enjoying fruitful relations with Russia, a country still under sanctions from Brussels.

For Kadakin, it is a matter of interest for those wanting Pakistan to continue favouring western powers and not wanting Russia to be able to mediate in conflict resolutions between New Delhi and Islamabad.

Churkin had come to dominate the UN in ways that his counterparts on the Security Council simply could not. No one really stood a chance in a debate with Churkin. His absence leaves open the possibility for a power vacuum that would makes other peoples’ jobs easier.

4. Where The Deaths Took Place

Each death took place on foreign soil. Mr. Karlov’s killing in particular, exposed the weakness of his security contingent. If security was that weak in a comparatively volatile place like Turkey, it goes without saying that security in states considered more politically stable would be even more lax.

Again it must be said that a non-biased detective might say that the only pattern which has emerged is that many people in the Russian diplomatic corps and related institutions have heart attacks. Maybe they eat fatty foods every day and drink and smoke too much. But if this was this case, why are the heart attacks all on foreign soil?

If all of the former Ambassadors except Karlov were really in bad health, is it really just a coincidence that none of these men had a health scare on Russian soil? Again, a pattern has emerged.

5. The Ethics of Speculation? 

Many will say that it is too early to suspect foul play. Indeed, I must make it clear that this is simply speculation based on a pattern of tragic and at times unexplained events, combined with the objective reality that because of Russia’s recently elevated profile as a born-again geopolitical superpower, Russia is a bigger target for international criminals than it was in the broken 1990s or the more quiet early 2000s.

When such events happen, one’s duty is to speculate so that better health and  safety precautions are taken to ensure the wellbeing of Russia’s important diplomats. Furthermore, if foul play is a factor, it means that such seemingly unrelated events must be investigated more thoroughly.

Russia has historically suffered from invasion, revolution and more recently from immense international pressure. The Russian people, like Russia’s ambassadors are entitled to the peace and long lives deserved by any member of a country that has suffered for too long.

Saudi Wahhabi Kingdom of Terror

Source

NOVANEWS
Former Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Says ‘Kingdom of Terror’ Spreading Islamism in Europe
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
Norway’s former ambassador to Saudi Arabia claims the Gulf kingdom has had “a tremendous influence on the spread of the Islamist ideology”, but fears that the West is turning a blind eye.

“That Saudi Arabia has had a tremendous influence on the spread of the Islamist ideology is quite clear,” said Carl Schiøtz Wibye, speaking to the Norwegian daily newspaper Aftenposten. “But apparently very few want to talk about it.”

In a new book, Kingdom of Terror, the diplomat claims that the Saudi state religion “is not even a religion, but a cult built on fanatical fantasies of a power-hungry desert preacher in the 1700s”.

The preacher in question is Muhammad Ibn Abd al-Wahab, founder of the Wahhabi branch of Salafi Islam. Salafism calls on Muslims to emulate the first three generations of believers, known as the salaf, who rode with Mohammed and conquered Jerusalem, Persia, and Spain.

Wibye alleges the Saudis have used their oil wealth to fund the spread of Wahhabism worldwide and argues that Norway must tackle it head on.

He suggests that one method of checking extremism might be to revive a Progress Party proposal to ban regimes which do not subscribe to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights from funding religious and political institutions.

“To block the influence of Wahhabism, we must provide an overview of this ideology and weed out local influence wherever it comes from, be it through financial support, literature or videos by preachers who say terrible things online,” he said.

“In addition, we require that all imams should speak Norwegian, so we can better understand what is happening in the Muslim community in Norway.”

Wibye would not speculate on whether Saudi Arabia also funds Islamic State, as former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton alleged in a leaked 2014 email, saying that the theocracy’s “transactions are hidden”.

He also called for a ban on full-face veils in Norway. “The niqab is not part of Islam,” he claimed. “It is an interpretation that emerged in recent years … to keep women in their place.”

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