Tag Archives: Geneva

A dangerous escalation

This is a worrying moment, not just for me, but for everyone around, it should be a moment to worry. I am not talking about the Greeks (they have been extinct before), or FIFA (others are on the ball now). No it is a little more serious at present. You see last night rebels shot a scud at Saudi Arabia, which now ups the ante for all players and all allies involved. So as we see the BBC News (at http://m.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-33033842), we also see “In a separate development, the Houthi’s have agreed to attend peace talks in Geneva“, which might be redundant now as a Scud has been fired. We can look at all the fact on how inaccurate these missiles are, but the straight complication is not just that a missile was fired, the question becomes what else do these Houthi’s have access to and at some point, We tend to get confused on what matters, I am not stating that certain elements do not matter (like humanitarian aid), but in the light of escalations, humanitarian aid seems to take a backdrop to it all. The issue of escalation will take another turn when Saudi would be forced to act in protection of its citizens. There are a few options and one of them could be the temporary annexation of Yemen as the House of Saud, in allegiance of deposed president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi takes a ground offensive. At that point, whatever cries for help the Houthi’s then voice, they might not receive too much support. As we look at the humanitarian part, have the involved support groups taken a census of how many of these civilian are Houthis? In addition, when this escalated further, what will be the consequences for Oman? You see, it is not just the players that are an issue, with the growing allegiance of Al Qaeda in Yemen, with the growth of Islamic State, we will see additional escalation both within Yemen, towards Saudi Arabia as well as towards the direction of Oman. What path will be taken is hard for me to tell without better intelligence on the events (there is a limit to the information that the BBC has in its possession). Beyond that is another danger that is now brewing for Saudi Arabia. No matter how they feel regarding the actions against Yemen, it has an effect in the refugee camps in Jordan, Islamic State is more and more active in recruiting the youthful adults there, with over 630,000 refugees, there is every chance that Islamic State has growing numbers not in the hundreds, but in excess of a few thousand. The additional actions of ISIS in Egypt, gives worry on the dangers for Saudi Arabia. Whether scuds are the least accurate missiles or not, it will take one missile from Eritrea to hit close enough to Mecca to make this tinderbox explode. ISIS has never made a secret regarding the capture of Mecca, the question is would they be willing to destroy it? It is an actual question, I do not know the answer. But in the time that several ‘anti-ISIS’ parties were sitting on their hands, escalations are now likely to be all over the filed, which could give Saudi Arabia the premise that they could soon be under attack from more than one side. What do you think will happen then? So, as Yemen has upped the ante with a failed missile attack, we will soon see a different theatre of War. You might think that this is the same as every other attack, but it is not. Reasoning is the following quote from Reuters “Yemen’s dominant Houthi group and its army allies fired a Scud missile at Saudi Arabia“, it is the ‘army allies’, whether valid or not, this now implies that the combatant forces of Yemen are now part of this. I used the work imply for a reason. You see, there is no guarantee that this is truly the case, it could be a collection of sympathising defectors, but Saudi Arabia does not need to take this into consideration, do they? Will it get worse? Most likely yes, but in all honesty, I expected these troops to make more active hostilities against Israel instead of escalating towards Saudi Arabia now. This thought was partially shaped by the incursions and the maintaining of presence of Islamic State in Sinai, with options towards Saudi Arabia, the Islamic State corridor becomes an economic worry for several players, least of all Israel. One source gave me “Muslim Brotherhood also offered to facilitate the entry of ISIS elements to the Egyptian territory, through the western and southern borders of Egypt, in return of ISIS helping Muslim Brotherhood to reach power again in Egypt till they control all country’s joints” I think it goes further than that, I think that there is a growing group of more radicalised members of the Muslim Brotherhood, joining the Islamic State in Sinai and from there move towards Israel and likely (based on the latest information) act against Saudi Arabia too. There is not enough evidence on how likely and how strong these actions would be, but this implies that Saudi Arabia is at least in indirect danger here, this means that Saudi Arabia has to connect with three sides. This also means that the escalations against the Islamic State members in Yemen would require a much harsher turn soon enough. The question will soon become one that America and its NATO allies must answer in more than one way. How much support will their ally Saudi Arabia receive, how much non-interference will be gained from the alliance as humanitarian aid in Yemen could be regarded as politically inconvenient. The only bright spot is that most Islamic State fighters tend to be extremely ad-hoc, so if one of them decides to make a name for himself in Israel, the Israeli air force might be forced to cut down the lifespan of Islamic State in Sinai, a chance that is not that high, whatever attacks Israel is more likely to come from Jordan, especially any attack on Eilat, which will cause other reasons of escalations all over the board. From here we must look at a BBC quote from last March. The quote is “Beyond Yemen, the Sanaa bombings underscore how the American strategy against Islamic State is lacking. The US is not degrading IS fast enough to stop its expansion, and it does not appear to have a plan for confronting IS branches in Sinai, Libya, West Africa, and now Yemen”, there are two problems with the quote. The first one is setting the quote like it should all be the US, or even about the US. This is not the case (only the premise), you see, Sinai is Egyptian turf and Egypt is not making headway here, for Sinai there is an additional complication that it cannot push its army into Sinai, because of the peace accord, which means that Islamic State can move all over buffer zone C, as long as they stay mostly out of sight. In Libya there are additional factors and Jordan is a sovereign state who is working together with the US, yet Islamic State remains a factor here. The biggest worry is that it will grow too large within the refugee community, which would escalate in many way that could cause a slaughter of many thousands of people at the drop of the wrong hat. At that point, the US will not have anywhere near the presence to act, and most likely neither will the Jordan forces. This gives us a map that becomes complicated. With Sheikh Omar Hadeed Brigade making new rocket attacks on Israel from Gaza, we must also question who is in control there, because if these attacks continue, Israel would be forced to escalate even further, especially since Ashdod was hit in a missile attack. This is where we get the issue with the quote “scuds are the least accurate missiles“, it only takes one hit for this tinderbox to be in flames and as such, we should be careful on relying on ANY peace talks at present. In my view Islamic state sees it as a weakness and whatever they do there is only to give time to prepare the next assault. So as there is a chance that both Israel and Saudi Arabia will find the risks too unacceptable and we will see how both Yemen and Gaza will fall under increased air attack. Whatever happens next will also determine how the playing parties will deal with the threats they face. In all this the greatest threat is towards the innocent refugees in Jordan as they are very likely to be in the middle of two factions, who do not care about these ‘refugees’, in all this we must face the dangers to both an Israeli and a Saudi Arabia escalation. In all this, I will not point at the US, here I point at the other NATO players who should have become active long ago, but political pressures stopped several actions. If NATO had acted stronger in the very beginning, Islamic State might not have had the support it ended up having. In May 2014, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross stated the following: “Though NATO did its job extraordinarily well, an intervention whose main purpose was saving lives may have ended up claiming more lives than it preserved; and the war certainly helped jihadist groups who are hostile to the United States and its allies while setting back U.S. regional interests“, I think that this is at the heart of a few events. The political elements who remained on the side of caution have inadvertently given strength to the situation that is now escalating. They are not the only factor, but they are a factor. That same reluctance in Syria is now cause for major problems and escalations. It is hard to see whether it would have worked out in Syria, especially with Russia in the opposing way, but we see now that there are a few more escalation on the map, escalations that would not have been there if the Syrian situation had been resolved a long time ago (no matter in which direction it was resolved). The last one is a personal view and personal assessment, which could of course be wrong. Now we get to the quote by Daveed Gartenstein-Ross. The quote was given a year ago, but the connection to now is clear when we consider the quote “He said the meeting would involve ‘consultations on implementing resolution 2216,’ which the Security Council passed in April, imposing an arms embargo on the Houthi rebels and demanded they relinquish seized territory”, which we get from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/06/dozens-killed-in-yemen-saudi-border-raids-as-peace-talks-momentum-gathers) this sounds nice in theory, but since when has Islamic State taken any notice of an arms embargo? Or taken any notice of the Security Council in any way shape or form? These ‘talks’ which basically delays definitive action will have a similar effect, no matter what the Council states, if even one missile hits a target with casualties, the Saudi air force will respond harshly and talks will break down almost immediately. So will Yemen escalate out of proportions? I reckon that answer is less than a week away, but no matter in which direction it goes, if even one of the neighbouring parties takes any action, escalations might not be impossible to stop and what happens after that will cause a Middle Eastern escalation unlike one we have seen before, as it is entirely possible that Iran will get involved undoing loads of talks in mere hours. The question becomes, who makes the first mistake here? A mistake with dire consequences for all players involved.

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Below the skin of life

Like many others, I looked at what is going on in Ferguson Missouri and I wonder how things went so out of control. As per today, as I saw events erupt, I decided to take a little look at why this was happening. Not the fact of the boy who was shot, but what brought all this about. Doesn’t it seem strange that the events as they are evolving, that there is little to no mention at all in the press on this?

So what got all this started?

Well there is more than one story. First the one in USA Today (at http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/14/michael-brown-ferguson-missouri-timeline/14051827/)

12:01 p.m. – The officer encounters Michael Brown and a friend as they walk down a street. Brown is shot to death as a result of the encounter.

This is not much, is it?

We get a lot more from the NY Times (at http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/18/us/michael-brown-autopsy-shows-he-was-shot-at-least-6-times.html) Here we see: “At 12:01 p.m., they were stopped by Darren Wilson, a police officer, who ordered them off the road and onto the sidewalk, Mr Johnson, who is 22, later said“.

So this is because two kids were walking on the road and they were told to get on the sidewalk?

I am certain that the press is not hammering on this fact, but it seems to me that this escalation is purely due to events that go way beyond the mere shooting of a teenager named Michael Brown.

The wiki page (not too reliable a source) is slightly more informative, which seemed to be a combination of three papers. There we find: “Michael Brown, an 18-year-old male, died after being shot at least six times by Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old Ferguson Police Department officer. Brown was walking in the middle of the street along with his friend Dorian Johnson when Wilson stopped them and told them to use the sidewalk. From there, a conflict between the two erupted at the vehicle, as Brown allegedly assaulted the officer through his window. The officer allegedly reached for his weapon inside his vehicle shooting Brown in the thumb then shooting when Brown allegedly charged the officer, ending with Brown’s death from multiple gunshot wounds“.

So from this part we see a policeman alleged to be under attack. I use alleged as there is conflicting evidence on this. As you read the NY Times article, which is a very good and informative read, we also see a first inkling on how much limelight attention this is drawing.

The article also has a statement that is part of the problem “Thousands of protesters demanding information and justice for what was widely viewed as a reckless shooting took to the streets here in rallies that ranged from peaceful to violent“, this reads in two ways. The first is that if the entire part of moving to the sidewalk is true, then not only did Michael Brown bring this on himself (based on the evidence), but consider this, a cop tells you to get off the road and walk on the footpath, you do this, matter closed, no deaths, no shootings and no city on fire.

Is this oversimplifying the matter?

The second part is that if we alter the previous statement a little (for illustration) “Thousands of protesters demanding information and justice for what was widely viewed as a reckless shooting took to the streets here, rallying violently“, this is not done for correctness, this is done to illustrate one particular group that has been there all along. If you doubt me, then look at the photos of Ferguson in flames. This also leaves a clear indication that there is a lot more at play then we are seeing.

What we see here does not even come close to the London Looting scene from August 6th until August 11th 2011.

There is however a lot more, certain events are escalated in view by possible the press and possibly several political players. Can someone explain to me how it comes that the Brown family, they are, as we can all agree under a sad situation allowed to address a UN conference in Geneva on torture? This is seen in ‘Brown family returns to Ferguson from UN conference in Geneva‘ (at http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/brown-family-returns-ferguson-un-conference-geneva). If we look at Amnesty International (at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/ACT40/001/2003), we see a document where on page 36, at 2.4 we see “The CRIPA provided the federal government with an important civil remedy, enabling the US (federal) Department of Justice to seek federal court orders or injunctions to eliminate patterns of abuse or unconstitutional conditions in state and local institutions“. This in itself is not an answer, what is shown that there are issues in play, there are remedies and legal avenues, so why were the Browns in Geneva? Was this a political play and a waste of time? Yes, I state a waste of time, because there are many issues in the world, many nations where torture is a real issue, where in many nations domestic violence against women (which I personally see as torture), is still at the foundation of society ignoring it all the way up to the top of national legislation. This includes Australia, the United Kingdom and several EEC nations as well.

It sounds extremely harsh to say it, but the shooting of an African American walking on the road does not cut it for the UN on torture (but it should be investigated).

It should be investigated, for the reason that we see the statement by Dr Baden in the NY Times to be “The bullets did not appear to have been shot from very close range because no gunpowder was present on his body

Yet, NBC (at http://www.nbcnews.com/storyline/michael-brown-shooting/vonderrit-myers-case-cops-say-shot-teen-had-gunshot-residue-n225761) states: “The St. Louis teenager fatally shot by an off-duty officer, which set off fresh protests in an already tense atmosphere, had gunshot residue on his hand and the waistband of his jeans, according to lab results released Tuesday by the police department“.

So there is a conflict of data already, according to the NY Times: “Dr Baden, 80 80, is a well-known New York-based medical examiner, who is one of only about 400 board-certified forensic pathologists in the nation. He reviewed the autopsies of both President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr Martin Luther King Jr., and has performed more than 20,000 autopsies himself“. It seems that this person is top notch in his field, which gives ample questions on where the NBC information comes from.

The entire issue that the police officer was attacked in his car! If we go back to USA Today, we see as the timeline for August 10th at 10:00 “10 a.m. – Michael Brown, 18, was unarmed, St. Louis County Police Chief Joe Belmar says in a news conference. Belmar says Brown physically assaulted the officer, and during a struggle between the two, Brown reached for the officer’s gun. One shot was fired in the car followed by other gunshots outside of the car“.

We now have an issue, there is conflicting evidence and the gunshot residue is part of the smoking gun (it really is). So, what happened?

There is an issue on several levels and no matter how the Grand Jury goes; there are massive issues, because the death of one teen (in a nation with well over 17,000 homicides in 16 states) does not seem like a big number (statistically speaking). Linked to this is one more part that we saw in the NY Times “According to what has emerged so far, on Saturday, Aug. 9, Mr Brown, along with a companion, Dorian Johnson, was walking in the middle of Canfield Drive, a fistful of cigarillos in Mr Brown’s hand, police say, which a videotape shows he stole from a liquor store on West Florissant Ave.“, so we see a possible result of a crime, which can only come to light after the facts, we see a shooting with conflicting data.

There is a lot going on in Ferguson, Missouri, yet the press are all focussing on the fires, I have seen little to nothing in regards to how these fires got started in the first place. Is this the direct consequence of a collapsed economy, a collapsed morale anticipating no future? If so, then Ferguson is only the tip of the iceberg and we will see a lot more escalations, likely far beyond the state borders of Missouri.

 

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The Hunchback of the NSA

We have been hearing information in this regard for some time now. I added my thoughts in my last blog, and as this is such a growing story, let me see if I can add some details to this by looking at a few issues from another side. (Source: www.NOS.nl , www.Guardian.co.uk , et al).

Edward Snowden, His view is that it is up to the people to decide what is to be done. Is it?

2003: Edward joins the Army to deploy to Iraq. He suffers injuries during (basic) training and cannot continue the training.

200?: Edward has been selected into the sanctum and becomes an IT specialist with the CIA, placed in Geneva. Well, that is a nice handle up from basic training isn’t it. Some people dream of opportunities like that all their life.

He gets a dose of disillusionment. (Not my words, just quoting here). The CIA methodology does not sit well with him. As a data analyst with a few decades of experience, including some not to mention data depositories, I can tell him now, that there is method to their madness. I know where he is at this point, because when it is all about data cleaning, integrity checks and verification, whatever you do feels like carrying a bucket of water towards the ocean, but hey, that is what it is. He then decides to quit. That is fair enough! Not all are meant for that lifestyle (including unappreciative bosses that we see by the container load in the commercial world), and as such we should recognise that some of these jobs have a decidedly larger chance of burning out.

2009: He joins the NSA. Really? After he left the CIA? That is an interesting step. Especially knowing that one worries you, the other would not?

Well Edward, this is what you signed up for! But fair enough, you wanted to give it a go. He then becomes NSA’s own Arnold Benedict. Oh joy! (I say in a slightly sarcastic voice) and he ends up feeding the information to the PRESS. I will add that this is slightly better than dumping all this on Wiki-leaks. I will also applaud him for going to the Guardian as I personally see these people as slightly more devoted to Ethics then anything Rupert Murdoch has at present in my humble opinion. Still, Arnold, oops, I meant Edward goes out into the limelight. Consider that his job was to make sure that the American people remained safe. Did he? Many people including terrorists knew this was likely to happen. Now they have confirmation and they might employ new methods, making it harder for the NSA to find them. So who did Edward Snowden actually service? From my point of view it was not the American people. Oh, and Hong Kong of all places? It seems to me that he preferred to be bankable to several potential donators. (But that is just my view).

The NSA has an uncomfortable job that must be done. The terrorist (or perhaps better stated the extremist) threat is real, and as such organisations like NSA, GCHQ and DSD need to look at information as it flows to keep its citizens safe. There is an ugly looking sterile approach to information. It has no emotion; it is simple collection of data. Yes, if anyone gets the wrong phone call we could be checked. Yet, the data is up to a point so complete that these organisations can easily see whether this is a fluke, or if there is more. Is that not the best solution? Most people have this illusion that we have some kind of privacy. The reality is that our information had been collected and data mined by large corporations well over a decade before governments started to collect data.

Do you think that I am kidding?

Take a day in your life. You fill up the tank at a gas station. You use your tank pass to get the 3% extra discount. You pay with either ‘their’ card, or your card. Nowadays it is rare that people pay cash. You go to work. Lunch means that you get lunch at some place. You get a snack and you get 1-2 extra items. Anything at these points that have a pass, or card is in 70% of the cases collected data. Now you go home, get dinner, use your customer loyalty card and you go home. Whenever you did not use cash (and in some cases even if you did) your details were recorded. EVERY day of your life! Whenever you use your mobile, your mobile carrier knows roughly where you are (with some smart-phones they know exactly where you are). All that data has been collected in one way or another.

Yes, even beyond what Orwell contemplated, you are a data collection point, you are marketable!

This is the ugly reality that has been happening since even before 2001. The big problem for you is that many of these companies need to survive, they need revenue, so to survive and you are for sale. Whatever you did is for sale. No matter the amount of cleaning you think they do. It takes but one linkable fact to your raw data details to know exactly who you are, where you are and where you are likely to go. People like the NSA only want to know whether you are a danger to the nation and the people around you. Are you? The others want to make money off you? Only you know how ‘dangerous’ you are, the others want you to spend cash where they like it. It is a never-ending story of greed. So who do you really need to worry about?

So when we see the news on how politicians are all about worries, all about what was done, then ask yourself, what questions have they been asking, investigating and contemplating when it came to the data handed by all to commercial facilities.

Getting back to Edward, whatever his views are. If he was TRULY for the people, and TRULY doing something to make the world better, then he would have done something about the real issues and all those e-mails from bankers and so on. That did not happen, did it? Didn’t Julian Assange ‘vanish’ to Ecuador before he could make good on that promise? So when people are driven by who hold the usage of their credit card, what do we call them then? As for bankable matters, seems that his move to Hong Kong could be all about bankability, but who is banking who?

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