Monthly Archives: December 2011

Event Convergence Alert: Finnish police intercept shipment of 69 Patriot missiles and 150 tons of explosive nitroguanidine bound for Shanghai, detain Ukrainian captain and first mate; Taiwanese air defenses deploy Patriots to thwart invasion from Red China

In a strange story that may expose political collusion between the “Former” Soviet Union and Red China, several days before Christmas, Finnish police intercepted a shipment of 69 Patriot anti-missile missiles and 150 tons of explosive material called nitroguanidine at the port of Kotka. The well-known Patriot missile is produced by the US firm Raytheon, while nitroguanidine is a low-sensitivity explosive with a high detonation speed.

The cargo ship Thor Liberty, which was flying under an Isle of Man flag, was en route from Germany to South Korea, although Finnish officials allege the ultimate destination of the missiles was the Chinese port of Shanghai. “An investigation found 69 Patriot missiles, explosive material and propelling charges,” Finnish police said in a statement. “There are grounds for customs to open an investigation into crime concerning the export of these items to third countries,” Petri Lounatmaa, chief of Finnish customs anti-crime unit, told the AFP news agency.

The Thor Liberty stopped at the Finnish port to take on a load of cables when police carried out a customs search. The ship’s captain and first mate are Ukrainian nationals, while the ship’s owner, Thorco Shipping, was not immediately available for comment.

Not so coincidentally, the Republic of China, a US ally, deploys Patriot missiles as part of its defense against an invasion from its giant communist neighbour, the People’s Republic of China. We can only speculate, of course, but it is possible that Red China’s People’s Liberation Army discreetly ordered the missiles through front companies with the intention of acquiring a technical understanding of Taiwan’s air defenses.

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Middle East File: Top Syrian general defects amidst “Arab Spring” uprising, Syrian National Council and Marxist-infiltrated National Coordination Board sign pact for post-Assad government; Damascus: December 23 car bombs targeted Russian SVR agents; Iran’s Ahmadinejad plans tour of Latin American allies

The civilian uprising and military rebellion against Syria’s Arab Socialist Ba’ath regime continued this week, provoking President Bashar al-Assad’s security forces to disperse protesters, even as Arab League peace monitors inspected some of the more troubled cities in the country. The United Nations estimates that more than 5,000 people have been killed in the government crackdown on dissent since March.

Pictured above: Syrian National Council chief Burhan Ghaliun.

Yesterday, in Cairo, the opposition Syrian National Council, consisting of both the banned Muslim Brotherhood and liberal groups, signed a pact with another dissident group, National Coordination Body for Democratic Change in Syria (NCB), laying the ground rules for a “transitional period” should Assad be toppled. The NCB embraces Arab nationalists, socialists, independents, Marxists, and members of Syria’s minority Kurdish community. The coalition opposes any NATO military intervention, such as took place in Libya, where long-time dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi was ousted and killed in October. The pact articulates support for the mutinous Free Syrian Army, which has been battling regular army troops.

For decades, the two factions of the Syrian Communist Party have held subordinate positions in the Ba’athist-led National Progressive Front, but Syria’s communists can be expected to try to exert influence in any post-Assad regime.

Several days before Christmas, reports the Israeli media, a top Syrian army general, Mustapha a-Sheikh, defected from his post, allegedly escaping over the northern border into Turkey, which has condemned Assad’s crackdown on opposition. A-Sheikh’s defection apparently reflects increasing frustration among many army soldiers at being ordered to kill civilians. “Weeks ago,” Arutz Sheva states, “soldiers were subjected to intense propaganda stressing that the protests were being organized by groups seeking to plunge Syria into anarchy, who were funded by ‘foreign governments.’” Notwithstanding Assad’s propaganda machine, “many soldiers have come to the conclusion that the uprising in Syria is indeed a legitimate expression of protest by Syrians.”

Sources in the Israeli Defense Forces told Army Radio that “the increasing instability in Syria is of great concern to Israeli security officials.” The Israeli government has taken note of the fact that on December 21 the Syrian army conducted military exercises using its “most advanced equipment,” and is worried that those weapons could fall into the hands of Lebanon’s Hezbollah terrorist organization, either before or after Assad is ousted. Among the weapons Syria displayed in its exercises were the Russian-made P-800 supersonic Yakhont anti-ship missile.

Meanwhile, Syrian state television reports that the two powerful car bombs that exploded in Damascus on December 23 were targeting both the Syrian intelligence agencies, as well as Russian Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR) agents based out of Moscow’s embassy in the Syrian capital. The Ba’athist regime alleges that Al Qaeda-linked elements were probably responsible for the blast, but Omar Idilbi, a member of the opposition Syrian National Council called the explosions “very mysterious because they happened in heavily guarded areas that are difficult to be penetrated by a car.” The two explosions killed 40 people and injured 100.

Russian diplomatic personnel in Damascus lambasted the report, denying the blasts occurred anywhere near Moscow’s embassy. “No, I think it is utter nonsense. Russian intelligence has no buildings here and I have no idea how, even theoretically, it is possible to do this,” an embassy spokesman told Gazeta.ru. The embassy insisted that “no Russian companies or representative offices are located anywhere near those areas.”

Incidentally, earlier this month, the Egyptian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood and a hardline Salafist Islamic group emerged as the two largest forces in a second round of national elections that will chart Egypt’s course following February’s overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak. The Muslim Brotherhood has issued assurances to the effect that it will not seek to implement an Islamic state after it forms Egypt’s next government.

Elsewhere in the region, Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is vehemently anti-Israel to the point of genocide, plans to visit several Latin American countries ruled by leftist, anti-Zionist regimes, including Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Ecuador.  Ahmadinejad’s tour is slated for the second week of January 2012. To her credit, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has expressed concern over Iran’s alliances with countries in the Western Hemisphere.

Asia File: North Korea’s genocidal communist dictator dead, succession passes to third son; South Korean armed forces on emergency alert; Red China, Latin America’s Red Axis leaders outdo one another in mourning demise of Kim Jong-il

 – Kim Jong-il’s Brother-in-Law, Vice-Chairman of National Defence Commission Probable “Power Behind the Throne” in North Korea

– Cuban Dissidents Worry Member of Castro Clan May Assume Control of Communist State after Raul’s Eventual Demise

This past Monday, the citizen-slaves of the communist hellhole known as North Korea poured into the streets of their capital, Pyongyang, to bewail the death of their “Dear Leader,” Kim Jong-il. At the same time, state media hailed Kim’s untested third son, Jong-un, as the impoverished country’s “Great Successor.” The official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) lauded Kim’s youngest son, Jong-un as “the outstanding leader of our party, army and people.” The DPRK, extolled KCNA, has the “absolute surety that the leadership of Comrade Kim Jong-un will lead and succeed the great task of revolutionary enterprise.”

Pictured above: On September 9, 2011, Kim Jong-il (right) and son Kim Jong-un (second from left) review a military parade in Pyongyang.

In central Pyongyang, large crowds gathered at a massive memorial to Kim Jong-il’s father, Kim Il-sung, to mourn the death of their “Dear Leader.” Kim will be laid to rest next to his father. The KCNA acknowledged that Kim Jong-il died on Saturday, December 17, after “an advanced acute myocardial infarction, complicated with a serious heart shock.” Earlier, a tearful North Korean television announcer, dressed in black and her voice quavering, said the 69-year old ruler died of “physical and mental over-work” while on a train tour of factories, farms, and the armed forces.

“Kim Jong-un is a pale reflection of his father and grandfather. He has not had the decades of grooming and securing of a power base that Jong-il enjoyed before assuming control from his father,” commented Bruce Klingner, an Asia policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC. “[He] may feel it necessary in the future to precipitate a crisis to prove his mettle to other senior leaders or deflect attention from the regime’s failings.”

In 1945, after the withdrawal of Japanese troops and under the aegis of the Soviet military, Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, founded the DPRK. At the same time, in the southern part of the Korean Peninsula, US troops oversaw the formation of the Republic of Korea. In 1951, the North invaded the South and, two years later, was finally repelled by a United Nations-backed military coalition led by the USA. A truce held, but no peace treaty was ever signed and, thus, North and South Korea are still in a state of war.

Regional security concerns over the so-called hermit state, which in 2010 shelled civilians on a South Korean island and is blamed for the sinking of a South Korean warship earlier that year, were heightened after Seoul said the North had test-fired a short-range missile prior to the announcement of Kim’s death. It was the first known launch since June.

North Korea, which tested a nuclear device in 2006 and again in May 2009, is seen as one of the greatest threats to regional security. Last year, the secretive North unveiled a uranium enrichment facility, giving it a second route to make an atomic bomb along with its plutonium program.

Communist China, the North’s neighbour and only powerful ally, said it was confident that the two countries would maintain their relationship. “We were distressed to learn of the unfortunate passing of [Kim] … and we express our grief about this and extend our condolences to the people of North Korea,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu was quoted by Xinhua news agency as saying. “We are confident the North Korean people will be able to turn their anguish into strength and unify as one,” he added.

Kim Jong-un takes over a Stalinist state whose economy was ravaged by decades of mismanagement. Under Kim Jong-il’s rule, an estimated 1 million North Koreans died during a famine in the 1990s. Even with good harvests, the state cannot feed its 25 million people. Little is known of Jong-un, who is believed to be in his late 20s and who studied for a short time at a school in Switzerland. In reality, Asia analysts speculate that Jang Sung-taek, Kim Jong-il’s brother-in-law and Vice-Chairman of the National Defence Commission, will be the “power behind the throne” until Kim Jong-un has obtained some experience in leadership.

Upon learning of Kim’s death, South Korea placed its troops and all government employees on emergency alert, but decided that there were no indications of any unusual North Korean troop movements. The USA reaffirmed that is was committed to “stability” on the Korean Peninsula. There are some 28,000 US troops in South Korea. Across the heavily armed border, the North maintains an estimated 1 million troops, one of the world’s largest standing armies.

Japan is also closely following events on the Korean Peninsula. “We hope this sudden event does not have an adverse effect on the peace and stability of the Korean peninsula,” Chief Cabinet Secretary Osamu Fujimura told a news conference after a hastily called ministerial meeting on security.

Meanwhile, Latin America’s tinpot communist dictators are falling over themselves to articulate their remorse over the long-awaited demise of the genocidal megalomaniac in Pyongyang. In fellow communist state Cuba, flags flew at half-staff on Tuesday as Cubans began three days of official mourning for Kim Jong-il. A book of condolences was opened at the North Korean embassy in Havana, with a big mugshot of the dead “Dear Leader” and flowers in the entrance.

Havana and Pyongyang established diplomatic ties in 1960, the year after Fidel Castro seized power in a revolution facilitated by a communist-infiltrated US State Department. Both Cuba and North Korea were later placed on the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism, until the latter was removed in 2008.

Not so coincidentally, Cuba is facing its own succession crisis as the island approaches a generational leadership change “without much new blood waiting in the wings.” Cuba was ruled for 49 years by Fidel Castro, now 85 years old, who was succeeded by brother and then first vice president Raul Castro in 2008. Under the constitution, if Raul were to leave office tomorrow, 81-year-old Jose Ramon Machado Ventura, first vice president of the Council of State, would succeed him until 2013.

Regime opponents said are worried that the Communist Party of Cuba could circumvent the constitution and follow North Korea’s example by quickly replacing Machado Ventura with a Castro family member.

“I hope that way of thinking does not take hold on the island,” said human rights activist Elizardo Sanchez. “But it could be that there are people thinking of that type of dynastic scheme with the children, grandchildren etc.”

Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez wrote: “In these parts, as well, genealogy has been more determinate than ballot boxes, and the heritage of blood has left us, in 53 years, only two presidents both with the same last name. The dauphin over there is named Kim Jong-un; perhaps soon they will communicate to us that over here ours will be Alejandro Castro Espin [Raul’s son]. Just to think about it makes me shudder.”

Cuba’s sister communist state, Bolivarian Venezuela, also expressed “sincere sorrow” for the demise of North Korea’s maniacal leader. In an email statement, the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry stated: “The North Koreans will move toward a prosperous and peaceful future.” Caracas expressed its “solidarity” with North Korea and said that Venezuela is willing to “continue fighting along with sovereign nations for the auto-determination of countries and world peace.” North Korea, observes Bloomberg News, “has defied three U.S. administrations in its pursuit of nuclear weapons, while economic mismanagement has resulted in mass starvation.”

From Nicargaua, past/present President Daniel Ortega sent his condolences to the “people and government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the death of their leader Kim Jong II.” The coordinator of Nicaragua’s Communication and Citizenship Council, Ortega’s wife Rosario Murillo, told the program Multinoticias on Channel 4: “The president [Ortega] deeply regrets the death of the beloved leader [Kim Jong-il].” Murillo continued: “We have wishes for the continuity of the process that the Korean people and its government are living, a process to further build peace and prosperity for all families in that country.”

After seizing power in a Soviet/Cuban-backed insurgency in 1979, the Sandinista National Liberation Front established diplomatic ties with North Korea. These were severed between 1990 and 2006, when pro-Washington governments ruled in Managua. With Ortega’s return to the presidency in January 2007, Nicaragua restored formal relations with North Korea’s Stalinist dictatorship.

Breaking News: North Korean state media: Communist dictator Kim Jong-il dead, son Kim Jong-un new “Dear Leader”

Middle East File: Rebel Free Syrian Army kills 27 police and regular troops in southern province, Syrian VP in Moscow; US Navy’s 6th Fleet endangered by Syria’s Russian-built Yakhont cruise missiles; US military ends Iraq occupation as Pentagon reportedly diverts special forces to Jordan-Syria border

The civil war in Syria–part of the unfolding Arab Spring uprisings that commenced in Tunisia this past January–continued this week with mutinous soldiers of the Syrian Free Army attacking and killing 27 regular troops in Daraa. The uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s Arab Socialist Ba’ath regime began in this southern province in March.

On Thursday, rebel troops fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a bus carrying police into the town of Busra al-Hariri, killing 12 officers and sparking clashes with accompanying soldiers. The defectors killed 13 regular troops in this incident, before killing two more soldiers in an attack on a checkpoint.

The next day, after Friday prayers, Syrian security forces opened fire on anti-government protesters at several locations around the country, while the army sent reinforcements into the tense south. In Homs, up to 200,000 people marched in different neighborhoods, denouncing Assad and his brutal crackdown against dissent.

Due to the turmoil, on Thursday Ottawa urged Canadians living in Syria to leave as soon as possible while commercial flights are still available. In September, Washington issued a similar warning for US citizens. At the United Nations in New York, Russia, a long-time ally of Syria, circulated a draft Security Council resolution that is designed to resolve the conflict in Syria without sanctions against the regime.

In a rare interview with a foreign journalist, Assad, who inherited power from his father Hafez in 2000, told Barbara Walters that he did not issue orders to kill civilians. However, New York-based Human Rights Watch insists that dozens of military commanders and officials authorized or gave direct orders for widespread murders and torture. The United Nations contends that 5,000 people have been killed in the Syrian uprising.

Meanwhile, the Syrian vice president, Farouk al-Sharaa, arrived in Moscow on Friday to meet with Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, “to discuss ways for a peaceful settlement of the conflict in his country.” No doubt the Syrians and their Russian benefactors will discuss the state of Syria’s Russian-built missile defense system and the estimated time of arrival of Russia’s sole aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, in Syrian waters.

More than two weeks ago, in a previous post that cited the Cypriot media, we indicated that the Admiral Kuznetsov, which is the flagship of Russia’s Northern Fleet, was already near Malta, implying a quick deployment to Syria. Yesterday, however, according to the BBC News, citing UK Ministry of Defence sources, the Russian carrier and accompanying warships, including a destroyer and two frigates, sailed away from Scotland’s Moray Firth, where they had taken shelter. It appears, therefore, that the Russian naval task force will probably arrive in Syria in January.

Pictured above: The Royal Navy’s HMS York monitors the Admiral Kuznetsov off the coast of Scotland, on or around December 14, 2011.

Earlier this month, Defense Update reported that Russia has supplied two Bastion coastal missile systems to Syria, the result of a controversial US$300 million arms deal inked with Assad four years ago. Russian sources claim the new missile system will “enable Syria to protect its entire coast from a possible seaborne attack.”

One Bastion battery consists of 18 mobile launchers, each carrying two 3M55E Yakhont supersonic cruise missiles capable of striking surface targets on land and at sea at a range of 300 kilometers. The Yakhont is armed with a 200-kilogram warhead and seriously endangers vessels of the US Navy’s Six Fleet patrolling the eastern Mediterranean, as well as Israeli warships and Israeli offshore rigs. In a show of force, the USS George H.W. Bush aircraft carrier, the US Navy’s newest, briefly parked outside Syrian waters last month, but has since returned to its home port in Norfolk, Virginia.

If rebel troops and protesters manage to topple the Ba’athist regime, speculates Defense Update, then these dangerous weapons, conceivably, could be transfered to its allies, such as Hezbollah, Iran, or other Islamic fundamentalist groups in the region.

In a December 16 report, Debkafile maintains that last week Russia airlifted three million gas masks to Syria and that when Russia’s aircraft carrier arrives in Syrian waters, probably in the New Year, the Russian Navy will carry out joint maneuvers with its Syrian counterpart. The purpose of this saber rattling will be to warn NATO against any potential Libyan-style assault against Syria. Turkey, which borders Syria to the north, is a long-time NATO member.

Elsewhere in the Middle East, today US occupational forces in Iraq handed over control of their last military facility in the country, the Imam Ali Base, known to the US military as Camp Adder, which housed 15,000 US troops at its peak. Presiding over the transfer of administration was US Colonel Richard Kaiser and Hussein al-Assadi, the Iraqi official in charge of base transfers.

“We proudly announce to the Iraqi people today the handover of the last American military base,” Assadi said after the signing ceremony. “Today we are turning the last page on the occupation.” Colonel Kaiser responded on behalf of the USA: “It’s an honour to have been the commander of this base, and to be the one to sign over the last large base in Iraq,” Kaiser told AFP news agency. “It’s truly an honour… I feel very proud of all the work we’ve done together.”

All that remains of the US military presence in Iraq are around 4,000 soldiers, down from a top strength of nearly 170,000 troops. The Imam Ali Base transfer concludes nearly nine years of US military involvement in Iraq, which began with a “shock and awe” campaign in 2003 to oust Saddam Hussein. Under the aegis of the US occupational forces, post-Ba’athist Iraq presently has a 900,000-strong armed forces that many analysts believe, while capable of maintaining internal security, lacks the equipment to defend its land borders, air space, and territorial waters at the head of the Persian Gulf.

Source of dubious credibility, such as the Kremlin-run Russia Today, which often features anti-capitalist conspiracymongers like Alex Jones, and Debkafile purport that rather than bring all of its troops home, the Pentagon has quietly deployed special forces along Jordan’s border with Syria, matching similar moves by the Assad regime. Damascus has accused both Amman and Ankara of harbouring Syrian army deserters, who have organized themselves as the insurgent Syrian Free Army. According to other reports, the FSA has welcomed into its ranks Libyans involved in the October overthrow of Colonel Muammar al-Qaddafi, another veteran ally and client of Moscow.

On December 8, the Turkish media reported that Assad dispatched tank units to Syria’s northern border to thwart infiltration from Turkey by the “armed terrorists” of the FSA. Turkey’s pro-Islamist government, once a close friend of Assad, has denounced the dictator’s brutal crackdown on that country’s Arab Spring uprising. Thus far, Ankara’s response to the Syrian bloodshed has been to impose economic penalties on Damascus. “We will place a 30 percent tax on all goods coming from Syria,” Customs and Trade Minister Hayati Yazıcı was quoted at the time as saying.

Blast from the Past File: Ex-strongman, convicted drug trafficker Noriega back in homeland to face justice after 22 years in US and French prisons; Reagan Diaries: Cuba flying Soviet arms to Panama, East Bloc advisers on site before 1989 invasion; US troops flushed out dictator with Van Halen song “Panama”

Last Sunday, former Panamanian dictator Manuel (“Pineapple Face”) Noriega returned to his homeland nearly 22 years after US troops forcibly removed him from office. From Tocumen International Airport in Panama City, where security was tight, authorities whisked the 77-year-old ex-strongman to El Renacer prison (pictured above) to serve time for crimes committed during his brief rule between 1983 and 1989.

Last month, a French court authorized his extradition to Panama, where officials want Noriega to face justice in the killings of Hugo Spadafora, a political opponent, and at least one other person. He was convicted in absentia. Since Noriega’s ouster, Panama has become a prosperous, functional democracy. The current president, Ricardo Martinelli, is a US-educated businessman who stands out among Latin America’s many post-Cold War leftist-communist regimes.

“I think it has historic and symbolic significance,” commented Michael Shifter, president of the Washington DC-based Inter-American Dialogue, about Noriega’s return. “It’s a sense of closure for the Panamanian people. He clearly was a dictator for six years and presided over assassinations, disappearances and killing of opposition leaders. And so I think that it’s something that was unfinished business and I think it’s important for Panama to have a sense of closure.”

Shifter added: “I don’t think it’s going to change in great measure the politics in Panama. The country has moved on. They’re interested in different things. Many young people don’t even know about the Noriega era. But I think for those who do remember I think it is important.”

However, Julio Berrio, Noriega’s laywer, was not impressed by his client’s two-decade ordeal at the hands of foreign governments. “He [Noriega] wanted to return to the country and face in this land the charges for which he was tried in absentia,” Berrios protested to reporters in the Panamanian capital. “General Noriega is accused of having participated in three homicides. U.S. President George H.W. Bush invaded us [our country] and that cost 4,000 deaths. Has anybody said anything against Bush?”

Interior Minister Roxana Mendez said Noriega will receive the same treatment as other inmates at El Renacer prison. “The Panamanian state has no special consideration when it comes to him serving his sentence inside the prison complex,” Mendez explained. “However, based on our laws, and if there’s a valid request from his attorneys, they can ask that he be transferred from the prison to house arrest if the inmate’s health is in jeopardy or if the inmate, being over 70 years old, may face risks inside the prison complex.”

In December 1989, the elder President Bush ordered the invasion of Panama, maintaining that Noriega, who had been indicted on drug trafficking and money laundering offenses in a US federal court, posed a threat to the lives of US servicemen and military property in the Central American country. At that time, the US government still controlled the Panama Canal Zone and would not entirely hand this strategic waterway over to the Panamanian government until December 31, 1999.

Fearing for his life, Noriega fled the presidential palace and sought sanctuary in the Vatican embassy until January 1990. While Noriega was holed up in the papal nuncio’s residence in Panama City, US troops surrounded the facility and tried a variety of tactics to flush out the recalcitrant dictator. Among other tricks, soldiers set up loudspeakers around the compound and (rather cheekily) blasted Van Halen’s song “Panama” and assorted hard rock music day and night.

After his surrender, US authorities escorted Noriega to Miami where a federal court convicted the deposed military man of narco-trafficking and other crimes. US prosecutors accused him of business dealings with Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar, boss of the Medellin cartel, which netted the dictator an easy multimillion-dollar fortune.

The disgraced general was thrown into a US federal prison until 2010, when he was extradited to France. There he faced more charges and additional prison time. A French court sentenced Noriega to seven years in prison for laundering US$2.9 million through banks in that country. Although Noriega denied the charges, he was ordered to pay the money back.

Incidentally, in the late 1980s Soviet/Cuban-backed Marxist dictator, Daniel Ortega was also accused of providing a transhipment hub for Escobar’s drug ops, but neither US President Ronald Reagan nor Bush ordered an invasion of Nicaragua, even though CIA’s No. 2, Robert Gates, floated the idea of airstrikes against Managua for other strategic reasons in 1984. In any case, Colombian security forces killed Escobar in 1993, dismantling his criminal syndicate in the process.

For his part, Ortega democratically returned to power in 2007 and, since then, has busily re-consolidated his leftist dictatorship, even flouting a constitutional ban to get himself re-elected last month. Once again, drug money, this time smuggled into Nicaragua via Communist Venezuela, is propping up the neo-Sandinista regime.

In 1990, terrorism expert Joseph Douglass published Red Cocaine, which detailed the involvement of the Soviet Union, Communist China, Cuba, Nicaragua, Panama, and Colombia’s Marxist guerrillas in the flow of narcotics into the USA. Some of Douglass’ assertions find validation in the Reagan Diaries (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007), in which the president, writing in 1988, asserts that Cuba was flying multi-tons of Soviet arms to Noriega and that East Bloc advisors were in Panama City at that time (pages 585, 588).

Although Noriega started out as a CIA asset in the US government’s strategy to contain Central American communism, the opportunistic general’s links to the Castro regime may have been a factor that quietly influenced the White House’s decision to remove their fair-weather ally. In 1991, US prosecutors preparing to try Noriega alleged that military aide Luis del Cid accompanied the general to a 1984 meeting in which Fidel Castro mediated a dispute between the Panamanian dictator and the Medellin drug cartel. According to William Buckley’s book, Panama: The Whole Story, in the 1980s Noriega himself was an intermediary between Bush, then vice president, and Castro.

Although Operation Just Cause may have prevented the transformation of Panama into another Soviet beachhead in Central America, Washington’s transfer of control over the canal zone to the Panamanians ultimately permitted Hutchison-Whampoa Ltd., owned by Red China ally Li Ka-shing, to administer port operations at either end of the canal.

USSR2 File: Largest anti-Kremlin protest since Soviet collapse: BBC estimates 50,000 participants in Moscow, equal number of police and Interior Troops; communists, nationalists, liberals demand resignation of Putin, Medvedev, chief electoral officer, new vote

WW4 File: Putin reminds USA Russia “big nuclear power,” accuses Clinton, US State Dept. of giving “signal” to anti-Kremlin protesters, repeats past charges of Washington funding Russian opposition; Medvedev in Prague to clinch nuke deal, enlist Czechs against NATO missile defense

As if US-Russian relations were not strained enough over NATO’s incipient anti-missile system in Europe, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s remarks concerning Russia’s “flawed” parliamentary election this past Sunday have only added fuel to the fire.

Today, following talks in Brussels between NATO foreign ministers and Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, the alliance’s secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, reported “no progress” toward a deal on the rancorous issue. “We listen, and we have listened today,” Fogh Rasmussen told journalists after meeting Lavrov at NATO headquarters. Lavrov, who speaks perfect English, resorted to clipped Russian immediately after Rasmussen’s comments. “Unfortunately our partners are not yet ready for cooperation on missile defense,” Lavrov huffed, but he left the door open for more talks, “provided that legitimate concerns of all parties are taken into consideration.”

“No ally within NATO is going to give any other country outside the alliance a veto over whether NATO protects itself by building a missile defense system against threats we perceive are the most salient,” Clinton said tersely at the time. “It’s not directed at Russia, it’s not about Russia, it’s frankly about Iran,” she said, adding it was “certainly not a cause for military countermeasures” by Russia.

The talks in Brussels came as Russia’s Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused Clinton on Thursday of encouraging and supporting the election protesters and warned of a wider Russian crackdown on unrest. By describing Russia’s parliamentary election as rigged in favour of Putin’s potemkin party, United Russia, the KGB-communist dictator alleged Clinton “gave a signal” to his opponents. “They heard this signal and with the support of the U.S. State Department began their active work,” Putin said in televised remarks.

“I looked at the first reaction of our U.S. colleagues,” Putin said during a meeting with representatives of his All-Russia People’s Front movement in Moscow. “The [U.S.] secretary of state was quick to evaluate the elections, saying that they are unfair and unjust, even before she received materials from the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (OSCE/ODIHR) observers.”

“What is there to say? We are a big nuclear power and remain so,” Putin growled. “This raises certain concerns with our partners. They try to shake us up so that we don’t forget who is boss on our planet [meaning the USA].”

Russian protesters have taken to the streets in Moscow and St. Petersburg for three straight nights despite heavy presence of city police and Interior Ministry Troops, outraged over observers’ reports of widespread ballot box stuffing and manipulations of the vote count.

Police have detained more than 1,000 people in both cities, many of them briefly, in a crackdown since Sunday, but opposition groups are planning new protests on Saturday, including one close to the Kremlin in the capital.

When asked about Putin’s comments, Clinton said Washington valued amicable relations with Moscow, which currently facilitates NATO’s military supply route across Russia to Afghanistan. “At same time the U.S. and many others around the world have strong commitments to democracy and human rights,” she said. “We expressed concerns we thought were well founded about the conduct of the elections.”

Last month, President Dmitry Medvedev, threatened to deploy missiles to Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave and Krasnodar region, to be aimed at US and NATO missile defense sites, unless a deal is reached assuaging Russian concerns.

Tainted Past: Czech President Vaclav Klaus Accused of Being a Communist-Era Secret Police Informer, Current Russian SVR Asset

Meanwhile, on December 7, as Russians brave bans to protest in the streets, Soviet Komsomol graduate Medvedev arrived in Prague to hold talks with Czech President Vaclav Klaus (pictured above) and Prime Minister Petr Necas. Over his two-day working trip in the “ex”-Soviet Bloc state, Medvedev will back a bid from Russia’s Atomstroyexport company for a US$28 billion contract to build two reactors at the Czech Republic’s Temelin nuclear power plant.

Russian officials have said Medvedev also wants to discuss NATO’s missile defense plan, which under the George W. Bush administration entailed the placement of anti-missile batteries and a radar installation in the Czech Republic. Modified by President Barack Hussein Obama, the missile defense system now includes batteries in Poland and Romania.

Medvedev’s Czech hosts have questionable links to the old communist regime in Prague. Although Necas, like Medvedev, was in his mid-20s when the Soviet Bloc unravelled, the Czech Republic’s Civic Democratic PM served in the Czechoslovak People’s Army in 1988 and 1989, the last two years before the so-called Velvet Revolution “ended” communism in that country. Klaus’ alleged role as an informant for Communist Czechoslovakia’s secret police places him in a comprised political and legal situation, similar to that faced by Poland’s Lech Walesa, who apparently spied for that country’s communist security service.

According to a fascinating 2008 article by Robert Eringer, which we cite here at length, Klaus, “while a 21-year-old student at the University of Economics, Prague, in 1962, was recruited by Czech counterintelligence [StB] officers and put to work as a spy against democratic reformers with whom he studied and later worked.” Incidentally, Eringer is a former FBI counterintelligence agent who later worked for Prince Albert II of Monaco.

Codenamed “Vodichka,” Klaus is said to have been “an avid and willing informant” who reported on the political reliability of his classmates. For his cooperation, he was awarded the rare privilege of travelling abroad on research projects, first to Italy in 1966 and, three years later, to Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. While studying at Cornell, Klaus reported to Czech intelligence officers on the activities of Czech exiles in the USA.

In 1970, Mr. Klaus participated in Operation Rattrap, staged by the StB with the assistance of Soviet KGB advisers. In this ruse, Klaus was publicly named as an “anti-socialist malcontent” and “purged” from the University of Economics, enabling him to pose as a “victim” of the regime so he could continue to penetrate dissident circles. With this new cover, he established a personal relationship with Charter ’77 leader Vaclav Havel, who would become the Czech Republic’s first democratically elected president in 1993.

In 1987, Klaus was officially “rehabilitated” by the Communist Party, allowing him to join the Economic Forecasting Institute of the Academy of Sciences. Successfully planted within its ranks, he informed on the activities of other academics while further cultivating his reputation as a subversive. Between 1971 and 1986, however, Klaus had pursued a career at the Czechoslovak State Bank, an unlikely position for real dissidents against the communist regime.

In 1989, he entered politics as a member of the Civic Forum and was appointed finance minister. Three years later, he became prime minister. Klaus pushed the Civic Forum to the right and the so-called “Klaus wing” of the party became the nucleus of the currently ruling Civic Democratic Party. In 1997, Klaus resigned as prime minister due to complicity in a political funding and corruption scandal stemming from a secret Swiss bank account in his name.

Just over a year later, Klaus began a series of secret meetings with the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service’s resident (station chief) in Prague. An SVR officer told Eringer, “We opened an operational file on Klaus under the codename ‘Kolesnikov,’ and did not rule out the possibility of a recruitment attempt [on the basis of possessing his file and being privy to his darkest secret].”

“It is unclear,” concludes Eringer, “whether Mr. Klaus’s political career was resurrected with SVR assistance, but crystal clear that Mr. Klaus has since established an unusually close relationship with Russian supremo Vladimir Putin, who one year ago this month [2007] rewarded Mr. Klaus — a fluent Russian speaker — with the Pushkin Medal, ostensibly for promoting Russian culture.”

Putin paid a rare state visit to the Czech Republic only after Klaus succeeded Havel as president in 2003. While hosting Putin, then president of the Russian Federation, Klaus’ meek behavior was described by Czech journalists as “borderline sycophancy.” Since then, Klaus’ support for the Putin regime has been “strong and unwavering.”

It is a well documented fact that the Russian SVR is very active in the Czech Republic and probably has connections with the (formerly ruling) Communist Party of Bohemia and Moravia (KSCM). In spite of warnings from the Security Information Service (BIS), President Klaus has done next to nothing to thwart Moscow’s influence in Prague. In terms of parliamentary representation, the KSCM is the fourth largest party in the Czech Republic.

USSR2 File: Interior Troops roll into central Moscow as Kremlin counters anti-Putinist protests; resurgent Communists and other opposition reject United Russia’s diminished victory in State Duma vote; Clinton calls election “flawed”

– Gorbachev Denounces Russian Election Results, Demands New Vote; Former Soviet Dictator Praised Putin 10 Years Ago

In what could be a communist-scripted drama to portray the Putinist regime in the worst possible light and the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) as the only hope for the country–humiliated by 20 years of “gangster capitalism” and loss of satellite states to NATO–the Kremlin is cracking down on post-election protests. In Sunday’s parliamentary poll, the CPRF surged ahead seven percent to take one in five votes, knocking down Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s potemkin party, United Russia, below 50 percent.

According to the English-language Moscow Times, citing the Vesti.ru and Gazeta.ru websites, “Columns of trucks carrying fresh Interior Troops rolled into Moscow on Tuesday, the day after a record protest rally ended in clashes with police.” Anonymous bloggers, who generally enjoy more freedom than Russia’s cowed professional journalists, reported seeing the soldiers driving into central Moscow via major thoroughfares such as Leningradskoye Shosse, Yaroslavskoye Shosse, and Shosse Entuziastov.

Among the Interior Troop divisions spotted was the Dzerzhinsky division, which specializes in suppressing mass protests. This special division is named after Felix Dzerzhinsky, founder of the Cheka, forerunner of the Soviet KGB, known as the Federal Security Service (FSB) since the mid-1990s.

A crowd of between 5,000 and 15,000 gathered on Chistoprudny Bulvar on Monday to protest the State Duma election results, which were marred by reports of numerous violations, especially ballot stuffing. The opposition rally was authorized by officialdom, but some protesters tried to stage an unsanctioned march afterwards, prompting a police crackdown in which some 300 were detained.

An Interior Ministry spokesman, reported Interfax, said Moscow police had requested the soldiers. “The troops’ sole task is to ensure public safety,” he soothed. For its part, Moscow police confirmed that security was being “stepped up” between December 1 and 6 in connection with the election. The Italian media described the deployment status of the Russian Interior Ministry’s troops as on “red alert.”

United Russia has indicated that 10,000 of its supporters will stage a demonstration later today, while oppositionists said a “nationwide protest” is slated for Saturday, December 10. As it turned out, on Tuesday evening riot police in helmets roughly dragged over 550 protestors into detention vans in downtown Moscow.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed “concerns” respecting Sunday’s election in Russia. The Voice of America quotes her as saying: “We’ve just witnessed a flawed Duma election in Russia, including efforts to halt the election monitoring by Golos, a respected independent civil society organization and Golos’ work is exactly the type of activities that countries committed to the rule of law should welcome and countries that are members of the OSCE signed up to support.”

Nearly 20 years ago, on Christmas Day 1991, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev announced the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Since then, as an internationally acclaimed speaker, he has on several occasions, including this year, called for “perestroika” (socialist restructuring) in the USA. Rebuking the Putinist regime, with which he has sided before, Gorbachev denounced Sunday’s vote: “The results do not reflect the will of the people. Therefore I think they [Russia’s leaders] can only take one decision – annul the results of the election and hold new ones.”

Both Putin and Communist Party boss Gennady Zyuganov advocate the resurrection of the Soviet Union, albeit as the “Eurasian Union” in the case of Russia’s prime minister.

USSR2 File: Communist Party surges ahead in Russian State Duma election, Putin’s United Russia loses supermajority; Reagan Diaries: President, Secretary of State Shultz read Gorbachev’s Perestroika (1987), failed to grasp (or admit) deceptive nature of Soviet “restructuring,” glasnost

– Communist Party Woos New Generation of Russians with No Adult Experience of the Gulags, Mass Murders, and Societal Regimentation

In yesterday’s State Duma election in Russia, the (secretly ruling) Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF) surged ahead with nearly 20 percent of the vote, stealing support from the potemkin United Russia in what amounted to an electoral protest against the “oligarchic” Putinist regime. Whether as prime minister or president, Vladimir Putin has been the visible ruler of Russia since late 1999.

About 60 percent of Russia’s 110 million registered voters, strewn across nine time zones (as of 2010), cast ballots, down from 64 percent four years ago. With 95 percent of the votes processed as of Monday, Russia’s Central Election Commission announced that United Russia, which was founded by “ex”-communists in 2000, led with a shade under 50 percent, followed by the Communists, the social democratic Just Russia with 13 percent, and the neo-fascist (“ultranationalist”) Liberal Democrats with 12 percent.

In terms of seat redistribution in Russia’s lower house of parliament, United Russia will have 238 deputies, down from the 315 elected in 2007, while the CPRF’s representation will jump from 57 to 92 deputies. Now Russia’s “party of power” no longer has the supermajority it needs to change constitution without impediment.

“For many Russians disillusioned by rampant corruption and a widening gap between rich and poor,” comments Alissa de Carbonnel for Reuters, “the communists represented the only credible opposition to Putin’s United Russia.” Through all the turmoil of the early 1990s after the Soviet Union collapsed,” she continues, “the party kept a strong national organization based on regions and workplace.” From voter interviews by the news media, it is apparent that Russians who voted Communist on Sunday were “gritting their teeth” and “holding their noses.”

“Many people [40 percent] didn’t vote, simply saying there’s no-one to vote for and it’s all decided ahead of time,” said veteran commentator Vladimir Pozner, whose name and face were well known in the West during the late 1980s. At that time, Soviet dictator Mikhail Gorbachev was implementing his perestroika (“restructuring”) and glasnost (“openness”) reforms. “That’s a shame because if more had voted, Yabloko might have got in,” Pozner stated.

Economist Grigory Yavlinsky’s Yabloko party, however, is closely associated in the minds of many with the economic and social chaos of the “post”-Soviet era. For this reason, on Sunday Yabloko doubled its vote to only 3.3 percent.

“The Communists are the only real party out there,” observed one Western banker in Moscow. “United Russia is a joke, Just Russia is a joke and the LDPR is a joke and many people know it. So they vote communist because they realize it is a real vote for the opposition and against United Russia.”

“With sadness I remember how I passionately vowed to my grandfather I would never vote for the Communists,” declared Yulia Serpikova, 27, a freelance location manager in the Russian film industry. “It’s sad that with the ballot in hand I had to tick the box for them to vote against it all.”

“United Russia has angered everybody, so people are looking for an alternative,” said Alexander Kurov, a physics student at Moscow State University. Kurov was born in 1992, the year after the Soviet Union collapsed. “I don’t particularly like the communists but there is no one else [to vote for] and I don’t want my vote to be stolen.” Another Moscow State student concurred. “They are a different party than in Soviet times,” said Anna, 21, a student in the mechanics program. “I have a lot of friends who are activists for the Communists Party. It’s become popular.”

Sergei Yemilianov, a mathematics professor who was in his mid-20s when the CCCP imploded, huffed: “I am voting against Putin, to weaken his party, so it makes sense to vote for a party that will make it in.”

At CPRF headquarters in Moscow, bedecked with portraits of the first Soviet dictator Vladmir Lenin and heavy gold-on-red velvet hammer-and-sickle banners, party boss Gennady Zyuganov accused the Kremlin of fraud and described the election as “theft on an especially grand scale.” The 20 percent slice of the electoral pie that his party received was apparently not enough to satisfy him.

“Despite their efforts to break public opinion, the country has refused to support United Russia,” he gloated. Zyuganov alleged that police had barred Communist monitors from several polling stations across the country. “Some [cadres] ended up in hospital with broken bones. Some ballot boxes had been stuffed with ballots before voting began.” On Sunday evening, one Communist deputy hailed the electoral surge as a “a new political reality.”

In an ironic twist, Russia’s post-Soviet communists obtained a lot of mileage from Internet satire comparing Putin’s United Russia to the old Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). One popular image depicts Putin’s face aged and superimposed on a portrait of decrepit Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev, ridiculing the prime minister’s plan to return to the presidency in March for two possible terms extending until 2024.

Analyst Masha Lipman of the Moscow Carnegie Center described votes scooped up by the CPRF as “similar to writing a four letter word on the ballot.” “It’s a sign of defiance,” she opined. “The government has turned this election into a farce and in response people are turning their electoral choice into a travesty.”

Perceptions among some Russians that Just Russia and the LDPR are in the Kremlin’s backpocket also aided the Communists. “We are losing votes to the Communist Party, who people think of as more of an opposition party because it doesn’t have a history of cooperation with the authorities like we sadly do,” admitted Gennady Gudkov, a senior lawmaker with Just Russia.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, a Soviet Komsomol graduate who has long been perceived as Putin’s “poodle,” congratulated the leaders of the parties that won seats and acknowledged that the results would necessitate the formation of “coalition bloc agreements.” “Democracy is in action,” triumphed Medvedev, standing with Putin at United Russia’s campaign headquarters on Sunday evening. Surprisingly, both head of state and head of government appeared a bit shaken. “The party performed worthily; it essentially represents 50 percent of our population,” Medvedev continued, “the final number will be determined—and the result is real democracy.”

Petros Efthymiou, who led the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe observer mission, gave Russia a middling grade for election transparency. On the one hand, he stated that the State Duma election “proved that the Russian people can form the future of this country by expressing their will despite many obstacles.” On the other hand, he cautioned: “However, changes are needed for the will of the people to be respected. I particularly noticed the interference of the state in all levels of political life, the lack of necessary conditions for fair competition and no independence of the media.”

On the streets of central Moscow, several hundred anti-Putinist protesters tried to enter Triumfalnaya Ploshchad on Sunday evening. Police with batons forcibly prevented them from succeeding, blocked all of the entrances, and urged them to disperse.

Twenty-one-year-old student Yelizaveta said she was protesting because the liberal Parnas party was not allowed to register. “All of the parties are Kremlin-backed and we have no choice,”” she complained. Valery, 43, an activist of the Solidarnost movement, said he “regularly attends protests” to fight for free elections. “Our Constitution is not bad,” he conceded, “but authorities should use it for the people.” Valery added: “Continually dripping water wears away a stone. The reaction shows that the authorities are afraid of a revolution, similar to the ones in Ukraine and in Egypt.”

The fact that Russians clearly recognize that the CPRF is the “only credible opposition” in the country and that, over the past 20 years, “the party kept a strong national organization based on regions and workplace” are two confirmations of what we call the Golitsynian thesis. In his first book, New Lies for Old (1984), KGB defector Anatoliy Golitsyn warned the West that the Soviet Communist Party planned, among other deceptions, to abandon its public monopoly of power by creating “independent” parties, withdraw the Soviet Army from Eastern Europe, bolster the Soviet command economy with Western finance, and end the Sino-Soviet split with a treaty of friendship and cooperation with the Red Chinese.

Three years later, in Perestroika: New Thinking for Our Country and the World, Gorbachev all but ratified Golitsyn’s predictions by placing his perestroika (“restructuring”) and glasnost (“openness”) reforms squarely within the contexts of ongoing Leninist revolution and the equation of “more democracy” with “more socialism.”

In a most intriguing admission, US President Ronald Reagan states in his diaries (New York: Harper Perennial, 2007; page 568) that he and Secretary of State George Shultz read Perestroika in 1988, yet he does not respond to “Gorby’s” candor concerning the true intent behind the “reforms.” Were Reagan and his foreign policy advisors not being entirely truthful themselves or has the White House lacked astute strategic thinkers for the past 30 years (or longer)? If you believe the former is true, then you will side with the folks at the John Birch Society. If, on the other hand, you believe the latter is true, then you will side with geopolitical analysts like Jeff Nyquist.

As for ourselves, we believe the truth lies somewhere in the middle.

Red Dawn Alert: Russia to help Cuba build assembly line for production of Kalashnikov assault rifle ammo, Rosoboronexport confirms contract with Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara military plant; Russian, Cuban military prosecutors compare notes in Havana

– Under License from Moscow, Communist Venezuela Will Begin Kalashnikov Rifle and Ammo Production in 2012, Arrangement Established in 2007

Pictured here: Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez makes the victory sign after a meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Caracas, on August 24, 2011. In recent months, Chavez has sported a bald pate, the result of chemotherapy treatments in Cuba.

According to the November 30 edition of Kommersant business daily, Russia and Cuba intend to sign a contract on building an assembly line for the production of ammunition for Kalashnikov assault rifles. Citing a source in the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, Kommersant reveals that “an assembly line for 7.62-mm rounds used in Kalashnikov assault rifles and other Russian-made rifles will be built at Cuba’s Comandante Ernesto Che Guevara military plant.”

Russia’s arms exporter Rosoboronexport has apparently prepared a contract that covers the license and technology transfer. Kommersant’s source says that Moscow also hopes to receive a contract involving the “complete overhaul of rifle ammunition production facilities in Cuba,” which were built in 1970s and 1980s under the direction of Soviet specialists.

Cuba’s communist dictatorship has repeatedly insisted that it has “no intention of resuming military cooperation with Russia” after the sudden closure of the Russian electronic listening post in Lourdes in October 2001. Incidentally, the latter occurred, suspiciously, only weeks after the 911 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington DC.

Notwithstanding these assurances, Russian-Cuban military ties have improved since 2009. During his visit to Havana that year, General Nikolai Makarov, Chief of the Russian General Staff, announced that the modernization of Cuba’s Soviet-made military equipment and the training of Revolutionary Armed Forces of Cuba personnel will be the “focus of Russian-Cuban military cooperation in the future.” In the Cold War, Makarov was a battalion commander in the Group of Soviet Forces in (East) Germany.

In 2007, Russia established an identical arrangement with President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s communist dictator, which entailed the construction of two factories, one for producing the Kalashnikov AK-103 rifle and another for the rifle’s ammo. Production of this weapon will begin in 2012.  In 2005-2006, Chavez ordered weaponry from Russia worth US$3.4 billion, including 24 Su-30MK2V Flanker fighter jets, Tor-M1 air defense missile systems, Mi-17B multi-role helicopters, Mi-35 Hind E attack helicopters, and Mi-26 Halo heavy transport helicopters.

Meanwhile, the Spanish-language edition of Kremlin-run Novosti reveals that Russia’s top prosecutor, Sergei Fridinski, has led a delegation of lawyers to Havana. There they conferred with Cuban counterparts in the Military Prosecuting Office, which also carries out investigations for the Cuban Interior Ministry. The anti-Castro Cubapolidata blog offers the following translation:

According to Fridinski, the Russian and Cuban sides exchanged experiences about issues concerning criminal and civil law as well as the work of military prosecutors in both countries. The Cuban side was very interested in the work of Russian military prosecutors in the area of civil law and defense of civil rights [?!], meanwhile Russia was interested in the issue of investigations that is one of the Cuban military prosecutors’ responsibilities.

In another era, when the Soviet threat was clearly defined, the convergence of Russian and Cuban military prosecutors 90 miles south of Florida would have suggested that US patriots would soon be facing communist tribunals. Has that time returned?