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TBR News August 15, 2018

Aug 15 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. August 15, 2018: The #PeeToo Movement. This movement, started by the Greater New York Lesbian Dwarf Association, wants to create a permissive situation wherein Lesbian Dwarfs will be permitted to urinate in the washbasins of any public lavatory.       

It would be necessary for every owner of a public lavatory to construct steps to allow this to happen.

Miriam Kalbfuss, the director of the GNYLD movement, says that once the American public realizes that Lesbian Dwarfs are part of the human race and the day has come when they have to use the bushes in public parks to relieve themselves is over and done with.

The heartbreaking scenes when Lesbian Dwarfs have to pile up a stack of library books to allow them comfortable access to toilets must end, Miriam Kalbfuss says.

Although President Trump initially supported the #PeeToo people, he has changed his mind three times but Miriam Kalbfuss hopes that when some of her members go to the White House and demonstrate the newly-designed portable steps to the President, his wife and the media, she is certain he will again lend his support to #PeeToo.

 

The Table of Contents

  • America’s Lengthening Enemies List
  • Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 1
  • AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not
  • U.S. warns on Russia’s new space weapons
  • In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves
  • Lebanese Hezbollah leader says group stronger than ever before
  • The Next War between Israel and Hezbollah
  • Missiles and Rockets of Hezbollah 
  • Hezbollah’s UAV Biological Weapon Capability: A Game Changer?

 

America’s Lengthening Enemies List

August 14, 2018

by Patrick J. Buchanan

AntiWar

Friday, deep into the 17th year of America’s longest war, Taliban forces overran Ghazni, a provincial capital that sits on the highway from Kabul to Kandahar.

The ferocity of the Taliban offensive brought U.S. advisers along with U.S. air power, including a B-1 bomber, into the battle.

“As the casualty toll in Ghazni appeared to soar on Sunday,” The Wall Street Journal reported, “hospitals were spilling over with dead bodies, corpses lay in Ghazni’s streets, and gunfire and shelling were preventing relatives from reaching cemeteries to bury their dead.”

In Yemen Monday, a funeral was held in the town square of Saada for 40 children massacred in an air strike on a school bus by Saudis or the UAE, using U.S.-provided planes and bombs.

“A crime by America and its allies against the children of Yemen,” said a Houthi rebel leader.

Yemen is among the worst humanitarian situations in the world, and in creating that human-rights tragedy, America has played an indispensable role.

The U.S. also has 2,000 troops in Syria. Our control, with our Kurd allies, of that quadrant of Syria east of the Euphrates is almost certain to bring us into eventual conflict with a regime and army insisting that we get out of their country.

As for our relations with Turkey, they have never been worse.

President Erdogan regards our Kurd allies in Syria as collaborators of his own Kurdish-terrorist PKK. He sees us as providing sanctuary for exile cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Erdogan says was behind the attempted coup in 2016 in which he and his family were targeted for assassination.

Last week, when the Turkish currency, the lira, went into a tailspin, President Trump piled on, ratcheting up U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel. If the lira collapses and Turkey cannot meet its debt obligations, Erdogan will lay the blame at the feet of the Americans and Trump.

Which raises a question: How many quarrels, conflicts and wars, and with how many adversaries, can even the mighty United States sustain?

In November, the most severe of U.S. sanctions will be imposed on Iran. Among the purposes of this policy: Force as many nations as possible to boycott Iranian oil and gas, sink its economy, bring down the regime.

Iran has signaled a possible response to its oil and gas being denied access to world markets. This August, Iranian gunboats exercised in the Strait of Hormuz, backing up a regime warning that if Iranian oil cannot get out of the Gulf, the oil of Arab OPEC nations may be bottled up inside as well. Last week, Iran test-fired an anti-ship ballistic missile.

Iran has rejected Trump’s offer of unconditional face-to-face talks, unless the U.S. first lifts the sanctions imposed after withdrawing from the nuclear deal.

With no talks, a U.S. propaganda offensive underway, the Iranian rial sinking and the economy sputtering, regular demonstrations against the regime, and new sanctions scheduled for November, it is hard to see how a U.S. collision with Tehran can be avoided.

This holds true as well for Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Last week, the U.S. imposed new sanctions on Russia for its alleged role in the nerve-agent poisoning of ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in the British town of Salisbury.

Though the U.S. had already expelled 60 Russian diplomats for the poisoning, and Russia vehemently denies responsibility – and conclusive evidence has not been made public and the victims have not been heard from – far more severe sanctions are to be added in November.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is warning that such a U.S. move would cross a red line: “If … a ban on bank operations or currency use follows, it will amount to a declaration of economic war. … And it will warrant a response with economic means, political means and, if necessary, other means.”

That the sanctions are biting is undeniable. Like the Turkish lira and Iranian rial, the Russian ruble has been falling and the Russian people are feeling the pain.

Last week also, a U.S. Poseidon reconnaissance plane, observing China’s construction of militarized islets in the South China Sea, was told to “leave immediately and keep out.”

China claims the sea as its national territory.

And North Korea’s Kim Jong Un apparently intends to hold onto his arsenal of nuclear weapons.

“We’re waiting for the North Koreans to begin the process of denuclearization, which they committed to in Singapore and which they’ve not yet done,” John Bolton told CNN last week.

A list of America’s adversaries here would contain the Taliban, the Houthis of Yemen, Bashar Assad of Syria, Erdogan’s Turkey, Iran, North Korea, Russia and China – a pretty full plate.

Are we prepared to see these confrontations through, to assure the capitulation of our adversaries? What do we do if they continue to defy us?

And if it comes to a fight, how many allies will we have in the battles and wars that follow?

Was this the foreign policy America voted for?

 

Donald Trump has said 2291 false things as U.S. president: Number 1

August 8, 2018

by Daniel Dale, Washington Bureau Chief

The Toronto Star, Canada

The Star is keeping track of every false claim U.S. President Donald Trump has made since his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2017. Why? Historians say there has never been such a constant liar in the Oval Office. We think dishonesty should be challenged. We think inaccurate information should be corrected

If Trump is a serial liar, why call this a list of “false claims,” not lies? You can read our detailed explanation here. The short answer is that we can’t be sure that each and every one was intentional. In some cases, he may have been confused or ignorant. What we know, objectively, is that he was not teling the truth.

Last updated: Aug 8, 2018

  • Jan 20, 2017

“Even the media said the crowd was massive … that was all the way back down to the Washington Monument.”

Source: Post-inauguration Salute To Our Armed Services Ball

in fact: The major media reported that the crowd was much smaller than Barack Obama’s two inauguration crowds, though in line with the inaugurations of other Republicans. The crowd did not come close to reaching the Washington Monument.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“I looked at the rain, which just never came. We finished the speech, went inside, it poured … it’s like God was looking down on us.”

Source: Post-inauguration Liberty Ball

in fact: The rain began right at the beginning of Trump’s speech. During the inauguration itself, the Rev. Franklin Graham told Trump, “Mr. President, in the Bible, rain is a sign of God’s blessing. And it started to rain, Mr. President, when you came to the platform.”

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

  • Jan 21, 2017

“So a reporter for TIME magazine — and I have been on their cover, like, 14 or 15 times. I think we have the all-time record in the history of Time Magazine. Like, if Tom Brady is on the cover, it’s one time, because he won the Super Bowl or something, right? I’ve been on for 15 times this year. I don’t think that’s a record, Mike, that can ever be broken. Do you agree with that?”

Source: Speech at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters

in fact: Trump’s numbers are well off. He has been on the cover 11 times, TIME told Politico, which is not even close to a record: Richard Nixon was on 55 covers. Even if we generously give Trump a pass here — he said he was on covers “like” 14 or 15 times, and he wasn’t sure if he had a record — he his claim about this year is flat wrong. Trump was on eight covers in 2016 and another one on the 2017 week he was speaking here — so either eight or nine total, depending on how you count, not 15.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 time

“It was almost raining, the rain should have scared em away, but God looked down and He said, we’re not going to let it rain on your speech. In fact, when I first started, I said oh no. First line, I got hit by a couple of drops, and I said this is too bad … but the truth is that, it stopped immediately, it was amazing, and then it became really sunny.”

Source: Speech at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters

in fact: Neither of these claims is true. The rain did not stop immediately, and the sky then remained cloudy.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

“Honestly, it looked like a million and a half people. Whatever it was it was, but it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.” Later: “…all the way back to the Washington Monument, was packed.”

Source: Speech at Central Intelligence Agency headquarters

in fact: The crowd, which may not have even been half a million people strong, did not come close to reaching the Washington Monument.

Trump has repeated this claim 2 times

 

AP Exclusive: Google tracks your movements, like it or not

August 13, 2018

by Ryan Nakashima

AP

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Google wants to know where you go so badly that it records your movements even when you explicitly tell it not to.

An Associated Press investigation found that many Google services on Android devices and iPhones store your location data even if you’ve used a privacy setting that says it will prevent Google from doing so.

Computer-science researchers at Princeton confirmed these findings at the AP’s request.

For the most part, Google is upfront about asking permission to use your location information. An app like Google Maps will remind you to allow access to location if you use it for navigating. If you agree to let it record your location over time, Google Maps will display that history for you in a “timeline” that maps out your daily movements.

Storing your minute-by-minute travels carries privacy risks and has been used by police to determine the location of suspects — such as a warrant that police in Raleigh, North Carolina, served on Google last year to find devices near a murder scene. So the company lets you “pause” a setting called Location History.

Google says that will prevent the company from remembering where you’ve been. Google’s support page on the subject states: “You can turn off Location History at any time. With Location History off, the places you go are no longer stored.”

That isn’t true. Even with Location History paused, some Google apps automatically store time-stamped location data without asking. (It’s possible, although laborious, to delete it .)

For example, Google stores a snapshot of where you are when you merely open its Maps app. Automatic daily weather updates on Android phones pinpoint roughly where you are. And some searches that have nothing to do with location, like “chocolate chip cookies,” or “kids science kits,” pinpoint your precise latitude and longitude — accurate to the square foot — and save it to your Google account.

The privacy issue affects some two billion users of devices that run Google’s Android operating software and hundreds of millions of worldwide iPhone users who rely on Google for maps or search.

Storing location data in violation of a user’s preferences is wrong, said Jonathan Mayer, a Princeton computer scientist and former chief technologist for the Federal Communications Commission’s enforcement bureau. A researcher from Mayer’s lab confirmed the AP’s findings on multiple Android devices; the AP conducted its own tests on several iPhones that found the same behavior.

“If you’re going to allow users to turn off something called ‘Location History,’ then all the places where you maintain location history should be turned off,” Mayer said. “That seems like a pretty straightforward position to have.”

Google says it is being perfectly clear.

“There are a number of different ways that Google may use location to improve people’s experience, including: Location History, Web and App Activity, and through device-level Location Services,” a Google spokesperson said in a statement to the AP. “We provide clear descriptions of these tools, and robust controls so people can turn them on or off, and delete their histories at any time.”

Google’s explanation did not convince several lawmakers.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia told the AP it is “frustratingly common” for technology companies “to have corporate practices that diverge wildly from the totally reasonable expectations of their users,” and urged policies that would give users more control of their data. Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey called for “comprehensive consumer privacy and data security legislation” in the wake of the AP report.

To stop Google from saving these location markers, the company says, users can turn off another setting, one that does not specifically reference location information. Called “Web and App Activity” and enabled by default, that setting stores a variety of information from Google apps and websites to your Google account.

When paused, it will prevent activity on any device from being saved to your account. But leaving “Web & App Activity” on and turning “Location History” off only prevents Google from adding your movements to the “timeline,” its visualization of your daily travels. It does not stop Google’s collection of other location markers.

You can delete these location markers by hand, but it’s a painstaking process since you have to select them individually, unless you want to delete all of your stored activity.

You can see the stored location markers on a page in your Google account at myactivity.google.com, although they’re typically scattered under several different headers, many of which are unrelated to location.

To demonstrate how powerful these other markers can be, the AP created a visual map of the movements of Princeton postdoctoral researcher Gunes Acar, who carried an Android phone with Location history off, and shared a record of his Google account.

The map includes Acar’s train commute on two trips to New York and visits to The High Line park, Chelsea Market, Hell’s Kitchen, Central Park and Harlem. To protect his privacy, The AP didn’t plot the most telling and frequent marker — his home address.

Huge tech companies are under increasing scrutiny over their data practices, following a series of privacy scandals at Facebook and new data-privacy rules recently adopted by the European Union. Last year, the business news site Quartz found that Google was tracking Android users by collecting the addresses of nearby cellphone towers even if all location services were off. Google changed the practice and insisted it never recorded the data anyway.

Critics say Google’s insistence on tracking its users’ locations stems from its drive to boost advertising revenue.

“They build advertising information out of data,” said Peter Lenz, the senior geospatial analyst at Dstillery, a rival advertising technology company. “More data for them presumably means more profit.”

The AP learned of the issue from K. Shankari, a graduate researcher at UC Berkeley who studies the commuting patterns of volunteers in order to help urban planners. She noticed that her Android phone prompted her to rate a shopping trip to Kohl’s, even though she had turned Location History off.

“So how did Google Maps know where I was?” she asked in a blog post .

The AP wasn’t able to recreate Shankari’s experience exactly. But its attempts to do so revealed Google’s tracking. The findings disturbed her.

“I am not opposed to background location tracking in principle,” she said. “It just really bothers me that it is not explicitly stated.”

Google offers a more accurate description of how Location History actually works in a place you’d only see if you turn it off — a popup that appears when you “pause” Location History on your Google account webpage . There the company notes that “some location data may be saved as part of your activity on other Google services, like Search and Maps.”

Google offers additional information in a popup that appears if you re-activate the “Web & App Activity” setting — an uncommon action for many users, since this setting is on by default. That popup states that, when active, the setting “saves the things you do on Google sites, apps, and services … and associated information, like location.”

Warnings when you’re about to turn Location History off via Android and iPhone device settings are more difficult to interpret. On Android, the popup explains that “places you go with your devices will stop being added to your Location History map.” On the iPhone, it simply reads, “None of your Google apps will be able to store location data in Location History.”

The iPhone text is technically true if potentially misleading. With Location History off, Google Maps and other apps store your whereabouts in a section of your account called “My Activity,” not “Location History.”

Since 2014, Google has let advertisers track the effectiveness of online ads at driving foot traffic , a feature that Google has said relies on user location histories.

The company is pushing further into such location-aware tracking to drive ad revenue, which rose 20 percent last year to $95.4 billion. At a Google Marketing Live summit in July, Google executives unveiled a new tool called “local campaigns” that dynamically uses ads to boost in-person store visits. It says it can measure how well a campaign drove foot traffic with data pulled from Google users’ location histories.

Google also says location records stored in My Activity are used to target ads. Ad buyers can target ads to specific locations — say, a mile radius around a particular landmark — and typically have to pay more to reach this narrower audience.

While disabling “Web & App Activity” will stop Google from storing location markers, it also prevents Google from storing information generated by searches and other activity. That can limit the effectiveness of the Google Assistant, the company’s digital concierge.

Sean O’Brien, a Yale Privacy Lab researcher with whom the AP shared its findings, said it is “disingenuous” for Google to continuously record these locations even when users disable Location History. “To me, it’s something people should know,” he said.

Associated Press writers Alan Fram and Mary Clare Jalonick in Washington and Jonathan Drew in Raleigh, North Carolina, contributed to this report.

 

U.S. warns on Russia’s new space weapons

August 14, 2018

by Stephanie Nebehay

Reuters

GENEVA (Reuters) – The United States voiced deep suspicion on Tuesday over Russia’s pursuit of new space weapons, including a mobile laser system to destroy satellites in space, and the launch of a new inspector satellite which was acting in an “abnormal” way.

Russia’s pursuit of counterspace capabilities was “disturbing”, Yleem D.S. Poblete, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, told the U.N.’s Conference on Disarmament which is discussing a new treaty to prevent an arms race in outer space.

A Russian delegate at the conference dismissed Poblete’s remarks as unfounded and slanderous.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, at the Geneva forum in February, said a priority was to prevent an arms race in outer space, in line with Russia’s joint draft treaty with China presented a decade ago.

But Russian President Vladimir Putin unveiled in March “six new major offensive weapons systems”, including the Peresvet military mobile laser system, Poblete said.

“To the United States this is yet further proof that the Russian actions do not match their words,” she said.

Referring to a “space apparatus inspector”, whose deployment was announced by the Russian defense ministry last October, Poblete said: “The only certainty we have is that this system has been ‘placed in orbit’.”

She said its behavior on-orbit was inconsistent with anything seen before, including other Russian inspection satellite activities, adding: “We are concerned with what appears to be very abnormal behavior by a declared ‘space apparatus inspector’.”

Russia’s pursuit of counterspace capabilities “is disturbing given the recent pattern of Russian malign behavior,” she said, and its proposed treaty would not prohibit such activity, nor the testing or stockpiling of anti-satellite weapons capabilities.

Alexander Deyneko, a senior Russian diplomat in Geneva, dismissed what he called “the same unfounded, slanderous accusations based on suspicions, on suppositions and so on”.

The United States had not proposed amendments to the Sino-Russian draft treaty, he said.

“We are seeing that the American side are raising their serious concerns about Russia, so you would think they ought to be the first to support the Russian initiative. They should be active in working to develop a treaty that would 100 percent satisfy the security interests of the American people,” he said.

“But they have not made this constructive contribution,” he said.

China’s disarmament ambassador Fu Cong called for substantive discussions on outer space, leading to negotiations.

“China has always stood for peaceful use of outer space and we are against weaponization of outer space, an arms race in outer space, or even more turning outer space into a battle field,” he said.

Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Richard Balmforth

 

In Taking Crimea, Putin Gains a Sea of Fuel Reserves

May 17, 2014

by William J. Broad

New York Times

When Russia seized Crimea in March, it acquired not just the Crimean landmass but also a maritime zone more than three times its size with the rights to underwater resources potentially worth trillions of dollars.

Russia portrayed the takeover as reclamation of its rightful territory, drawing no attention to the oil and gas rush that had recently been heating up in the Black Sea. But the move also extended Russia’s maritime boundaries, quietly giving Russia dominion over vast oil and gas reserves while dealing a crippling blow to Ukraine’s hopes for energy independence.

Russia did so under an international accord that gives nations sovereignty over areas up to 230 miles from their shorelines. It had tried, unsuccessfully, to gain access to energy resources in the same territory in a pact with Ukraine less than two years earlier.

“It’s a big deal,” said Carol R. Saivetz, a Eurasian expert in the Security Studies Program of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It deprives Ukraine of the possibility of developing these resources and gives them to Russia. It makes Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian pressure.”

Gilles Lericolais, the director of European and international affairs at France’s state oceanographic group, called Russia’s annexation of Crimea “so obvious” as a play for offshore riches.

In Moscow, a spokesman for President Vladimir V. Putin said there was “no connection” between the annexation and energy resources, adding that Russia did not even care about the oil and gas. “Compared to all the potential Russia has got, there was no interest there,” the spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Saturday.

Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and other major oil companies have already explored the Black Sea, and some petroleum analysts say its potential may rival that of the North Sea. That rush, which began in the 1970s, lifted the economies of Britain, Norway and other European countries.

William B. F. Ryan, a marine geologist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University, said Russia’s Black Sea acquisition gave it what are potentially “the best” of that body’s deep oil reserves.

Oil analysts said that mounting economic sanctions could slow Russia’s exploitation of its Black and Azov Sea annexations by reducing access to Western financing and technology. But they noted that Russia had already taken over the Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company, instantly giving Russia exploratory gear on the Black Sea.

“Russia’s in a mood to behave aggressively,” said Vladimir Socor, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a research group in Washington that follows Eurasian affairs. “It’s already seized two drilling rigs.”

The global hunt for fossil fuels has increasingly gone offshore, to places like the Atlantic Ocean off Brazil, the Gulf of Mexico and the South China Sea. Hundreds of oil rigs dot the Caspian, a few hundred miles east of the Black Sea.

Nations divide up the world’s potentially lucrative waters according to guidelines set forth by the 1982 Law of the Sea Treaty. The agreement lets coastal nations claim what are known as exclusive economic zones that can extend up to 200 nautical miles (or 230 statute miles) from their shores. Inside these zones, countries can explore, exploit, conserve and manage deep natural resources, living and nonliving.

The countries with shores along the Black Sea have long seen its floor as a potential energy source, mainly because of modest oil successes in shallow waters.

Just over two years ago, the prospects for huge payoffs soared when a giant ship drilling through deep bedrock off Romania found a large gas field in waters more than half a mile deep.

Russia moved fast.

In April 2012, Mr. Putin, then Russia’s prime minister, presided over the signing of an accord with Eni, the Italian energy giant, to explore Russia’s economic zone in the northeastern Black Sea. Dr. Ryan of Columbia estimated that the size of the zone before the Crimean annexation was roughly 26,000 square miles, about the size of Lithuania.

“I want to assure you that the Russian government will do everything to support projects of this kind,” Mr. Putin said at the signing, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.

A month later, oil exploration specialists at a European petroleum conference made a lengthy presentation, the title of which asked: “Is the Black Sea the Next North Sea?” The paper cited geological studies that judged the waters off Ukraine as having “tremendous exploration potential” but saw the Russian zone as less attractive.

In August 2012, Ukraine announced an accord with an Exxon-led group to extract oil and gas from the depths of Ukraine’s Black Sea waters. The Exxon team had outbid Lukoil, a Russian company. Ukraine’s state geology bureau said development of the field would cost up to $12 billion.

“The Black Sea Hots Up,” read a 2013 headline in GEO ExPro, an industry magazine published in Britain. “Elevated levels of activity have become apparent throughout the Black Sea region,” the article said, “particularly in deepwater.

When Russia seized the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine on March 18, it issued a treaty of annexation between the newly declared Republic of Crimea and the Russian Federation. Buried in the document — in Article 4, Section 3 — a single bland sentence said international law would govern the drawing of boundaries through the adjacent Black and Azov Seas.

Dr. Ryan estimates that the newly claimed maritime zone around Crimea added about 36,000 square miles to Russia’s existing holdings. The addition is more than three times the size of the Crimean landmass, and about the size of Maine.

At the time, few observers noted Russia’s annexation of Crimea in those terms. An exception was Romania, whose Black Sea zone had been adjacent to Ukraine’s before Russia stepped in.

“Romania and Russia will be neighbors,” Romania Libera, a newspaper in Bucharest, observed on March 24. The article’s headline said the new maritime border could become a “potential source of conflict.”

Many nations have challenged Russia’s seizing of Crimea and thus the legality of its Black and Azov Sea claims. But the Romanian newspaper quoted analysts as judging that the other countries bordering the Black Sea — Georgia, Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania — would tacitly recognize the annexation “in order to avoid an open conflict.”

Most immediately, analysts say, Russia’s seizing may alter the route along which the South Stream pipeline would be built, saving Russia money, time and engineering challenges. The planned pipeline, meant to run through the deepest parts of the Black Sea, is to pump Russian gas to Europe.

Originally, to avoid Ukraine’s maritime zone, Russia drew the route for the costly pipeline in a circuitous jog southward through Turkey’s waters. But now it can take a far more direct path through its newly acquired Black Sea territory, if the project moves forward. The Ukraine crisis has thrown its future into doubt.

As for oil extraction in the newly claimed maritime zones, companies say their old deals with Ukraine are in limbo, and analysts say new contracts are unlikely to be signed anytime soon, given the continuing turmoil in the region and the United States’ efforts to ratchet up pressure on Russia.

“There are huge issues at stake,” noted Dr. Saivetz of M.I.T. “I can’t see them jumping into new deals right now.”

The United States is using its wherewithal to block Russian moves in the maritime zones. Last month, it imposed trade restrictions on Chernomorneftegaz, the breakaway Crimean arm of Ukraine’s national gas company.

Eric L. Hirschhorn, the United States under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said sanctions against the Crimean business would send “a strong message” of condemnation for Russia’s “incursion into Ukraine and expropriation of Ukrainian assets.”

Alexandra Odynova contributed reporting from Moscow.

 

Lebanese Hezbollah leader says group stronger than ever before

August 14, 2018

Reuters

BEIRUT (Reuters) – The leader of Lebanon’s Hezbollah group said on Tuesday the group was stronger in terms of its weapons, equipment, capabilities, expertise and experience than at any time since it was founded.

In a televised speech, Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also said that the Iran-backed Shi’ite group would celebrate victory “very soon” in Syria, where it is fighting alongside the forces of President Bashar al-Assad.

Reporting By Angus McDowall and Laila Bassam; Editing by Gareth Jones

 

The Next War between Israel and Hezbollah

London Center for Policy Research

Hezbollah, a Lebanese group, fought the IDF from the early 1980s to 2000, when the IDF (Israel defense forces) was deployed in Lebanon. In 2006 the two sides clashed again, for 34 days, a war that ended in a tie.

The next round might happen if Iran tries to produce a nuclear weapon, a move which may result in Israel attacking Iran’s nuclear sites. Iran will retaliate with its proxies, mostly with Hezbollah. Israel’s evaluation of the duration and cost of a war with Hezbollah, along with its other ramifications and consequences, will play a major part in Israel’s decision whether to bomb Iran or not.

Meanwhile there is an ongoing tension between Israel and Hezbollah. However, the latter has suffered heavy casualties in the Syrian civil war, up to 2,000 and growing. Hezbollah will require time to recover, so it may not seek to confront Israel at the moment. Yet a miscalculation by one or both sides might ignite a war.

The IDF, one of the strongest militaries in the Middle East, outnumbers and outguns Hezbollah in both troops and weapon systems. Yet Hezbollah has quite a powerful hybrid force, which has antiaircraft and anti tank missiles, hundreds of drones and above all up to 150,000 rockets and missiles, some of which cover all of Israel. Hezbollah could fire more than a 1,000 rockets a day during a confrontation with Israel.

Israel has systems to shoot down rockets, mostly the Iron Dome. Yet Israel does not have enough of them to intercept most of Hezbollah’s rockets, so the IDF can’t rely on a defensive strategy. The IAF (Israeli air force) has mostly fighter – bombers such as F- 15/16. The IAF has been training to launch thousands of sorties in Lebanon but the IAF might not be able to stop the pounding of Israel by Hezbollah. To do that Israel needs boots on the ground i.e. to carry out a major land offensive.

On August 13, 2015, the IDF published the “IDF Strategy”, which explains how the IDF plans to operate in the next war. In September 2017 the IDF ran its biggest exercise in almost two decades, aimed against Hezbollah. The IDF, which had some setbacks in the 2006 war, will be determined to prove it has learned its lessons. However, defeating Hezbollah is a tall order since Hezbollah, which is rooted inside the Shiite community in Lebanon, can always continue fighting with guerrilla and terror tactics. Israel will therefore strive for more limited objectives, mostly to destroy Hezbollah’s rockets and cause the group heavy casualties in order to deter it and other groups as well from confronting Israel.

The IDF will penetrate several dozen kilometers into Lebanon, on a wide front, but it will stay there for a few weeks at most. Israel does not wish to renew its deployment in Lebanon, exposing its troops to attacks, as it was in the 1980s and the 1990s.

The IDF’s elite armor and infantry units will carry the burden of the offensive. Special Forces such as the 89th commando brigade will assist by launching raids behind the lines, collecting information etc.

The IDF relies on reserves. Tens of thousands of them will be mobilized. Many might be called while rockets hit them at their homes and on their way to their bases, where they get their weapons, vehicles etc. Rockets might continue to strike them when they will move to the frontline.

Israeli officials repeatedly warned about the danger of storing rockets in about 200 villages and towns in Lebanon. If rockets are launched from those places, the IDF will strike them, possibly causing huge collateral damage. The civilians living there will be warned in advance to evacuate their homes. Hopefully they will be able to do that, for Hezbollah might order some of them to remain behind, to serve as human shields.

The IDF can inflict a major blow to Hezbollah by catching it off guard. A massive surprise attack might be Israel’s best chance to handle the rockets and reduce Israel’s casualties. However, such an attack could cause significant collateral damage since the Lebanese population might not have sufficient time to escape.

The IDF will have to run urban warfare, including underground, inside tunnels. The IDF has been training for that in various ways.  Its troops must be familiar with the terrain of Lebanon so they exercise in similar areas, in the north of Israel. Cooperation between the corps such as infantry and armor is another important factor the IDF has been working on, as part of the preparations to fight Hezbollah. The IDF will also use its advanced C4I (Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence) network.

Hezbollah got stronger and bigger during the Syrian civil war. The group is now more like a military organization, but this could actually benefit the IDF because it will be easier to find and attack Hezbollah fighters. The latter also got accustomed to enjoy air superiority and receiving air support from the Russian and the Syrian air forces while confronting Syrian rebels who had no aircraft. In a war against Israel Hezbollah will be both without air support and it will have to deal with a powerful air force. It might cost Hezbollah dearly.

The United States sees Hezbollah as a terrorist group. Prior to 9 / 11 Hezbollah killed more Americans than any other terrorist group. In the next war Israel will require US support. On the diplomatic level Israel will need the United States to stand by Israel in the UN Security Council. Militarily the United States can provide Israel with weapons, ammunition and spare parts, without sending US troops.

The next round between Israel and Hezbollah might be much more destructive than the 2006 war. The IDF should try to reduce the cost to Israel and to shorten the war by conducting a large scale and effective air, land and sea offensive.

 

Missiles and Rockets of Hezbollah 

 

Hezbollah (“Party of God”) is a Lebanese political party and militant group with close ties to Iran and Syria’s Assad regime. It is frequently identified as an Iranian proxy, as the Party supports Tehran’s regional ambitions in exchange for military, financial, and political support.1 Hezbollah is the world’s most heavily armed non-state actor, and has been described as “a militia trained like an army and equipped like a state.”2 This is especially true with regard to its missile and rocket forces, which Hezbollah has in vast quantities arrayed against Israel.

Hezbollah’s arsenal is comprised mostly of small, man-portable and unguided surface-to-surface artillery rockets. Although these devices lack precision, their sheer number make them effective weapons of terror. According to Israeli sources, Hezbollah held around 15,000 rockets and missiles on the eve of the 2006 Lebanon War, firing nearly 4,000 at Israel over the 34-day conflict. Hezbollah has since expanded its rocket arsenal, today estimated at 130,000.3

In May 2006, Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah explained that “The purpose of our rockets is to deter Israel from attacking Lebanese civilians…The enemy fears that every time he confronts us, whenever there are victims in our ranks among Lebanese civilians, this will lead to a counter-barrage of our rockets, which he fears.”4 Indiscriminate rocket fire, particularly from small, easily transportable launchers makes the suppression of fires with airpower more challenging. This forces Israel to rely more heavily on ground forces in a conflict. Lacking any air force of its own, Hezbollah prefers ground wars in its own territory to bombardment from the skies. As Human Rights Watch notes, however, these arguments do not justify civilian targeting and casualties under international law.5

The continued growth of Hezbollah’s missile and rocket forces is undesirable for several reasons. It may, for example, embolden the party to overstep Israeli red lines. Hezbollah’s push to acquire longer-ranged and precision-guided munitions could likewise spur Israel into preemptive action. Hezbollah’s weapons acquisition also raises the prospects for the proliferation of missile technology and know-how. According to Saudi and UAE officials, Hezbollah militants have worked with their Houthi forces in rocket development and launch divisions.6 Hezbollah forces in Syria and Iraq similarly operate with various Shiite militias. Growing relations among these groups presents risks for the dissemination of missile technology and knowledge.

Land Attack Missiles and Rockets

107 & 122 mm ‘Katyusha’ Rockets+

katyusha

Fajr-1 / Chinese 107 mm Rockets+

Fajr-1

Falaq 1/2+

falaq-1

333 mm Shahin-1

122 mm Type-81 Rocket+

Fajr-3 and Fajr-5+

Fajr-5

Raad-2 and Raad-3 / 220 mm Uragan-type Rockets+

raad

302 mm Khaibar-1 / M-302 / B-302+

khaibar-1

Zelzal-1 and Zelzal-2+

zelzal-1

Fateh-110 / M-600+

fateh-110

Scud-B/C/D+

And the most recent Hezbollah long-disance missile, capable of carrying a nuclear warhead is the

RS-28 Sarmat (Russian: РС-28 )

Type Superheavy Intercontinental ballistic missile

Place of origin Russia

Service history

Used by

Russian Strategic Missile Troops

Production history

Designer

Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau

Manufacturer

KrasMash, Zlatous MZ, NPO Energomash, NPO Mashinostroyeniya, KBKhA

Specifications

Weight

220 tonnes

Length

36.3 m

Diameter

3.0 m[3]

Warhead

10–24 MIRVs (various type and yield, including HGVs; At the maximum reported throw-weight of up 10,000 kg, the missile could deliver a 50 Mt charge (the maximum theoretical yield-to-weight ratio is about 6 megatons of TNT per metric ton, and the maximum achieved ratio was apparently 5.2 megatons of TNT per metric ton in B/Mk-41).

Engine

First stage: PDU-99 (RD-274 derived)

Propellant

Liquid

Operational

range

approx. 10,900 kilometres (6,800 mi)[5]

Speed

over Mach 20.7; 25,000 km/h (16,000 mph)

Guidance system

Inertial guidance, GLONASS, Astro-inertial

Accuracy

10 m

Launch platform

Silo

Antiship Missiles (ASMs)

C-802 / Yingji-2 / Noor+

C-802

Yakhont+

yahont

Antitank Missiles (ATMs)

According to Israeli tank commanders at the front of the 2006 War, Hezbollah’s anti-tank missiles damaged or destroyed Israeli vehicles on about 20% of their hits.60 The party successfully struck nearly 50 Israeli Merkava tanks during the conflict, penetrating the armor of 21. Hezbollah used ATGMs against buildings and Israeli troop bunkers as well. As Anthony Cordesman writes, “More [Israeli] infantry soldiers were killed by anti-tank weapons than in hand-to-hand combat.”61 While fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq, Hezbollah has effectively used ATMs to counter suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devises (SVBIED) launched by the extremist group.

RPG-29 Vampir+

RPG-29

9M14 Malyutka (NATO: AT-3 Sagger) +

AT-3

9K111 Fagot (NATO: AT-4 Spigot)+

AT-4

M113 Konkurs (NATO: AT-5 Spandrel)+

AT-5

9K115-2 Metis-M (NATO: AT-13 Saxhorn-2)+

AT-12

9M133 Kornet-E (NATO: AT-14 Spriggan)+

at-14

Antiair Missiles (AAMs)

Most of Hezbollah’s antiair missile systems offer only a relatively small area of protection. They nevertheless force Israeli aircraft to fly at higher altitudes, reducing Israel’s ability to accurately strike ground-based targets.80 Israeli policymakers and military officers have consistently reiterated their concerns about Hezbollah acquiring more sophisticated air defenses from Bashar al-Assad’s Syria.

Misagh-1/2 +

Misagh-1

ZU-23 +

ZU-23

9K32 Strela-2 (NATO: SA-7 Grail)+

sa-7

9K33 Osa (NATO: SA-8 Gecko)+

sa-8

9K34 Strela-3 (NATO: SA-14 Gremlin)+

9K310 Igla-1 (NATO: SA-16 Gimlet) and 9K38 Igla (NATO: SA-18 Grouse)+

9K40 Buk-M2 (NATO: SA-17 Grizzly)+

Pantsyr-S1 (NATO: SA-22 Greyhound

220 tonnes

Length

36.3 m

Diameter

3.0 m

Warhead

10–24 MIRVs (various type and yield, including HGVs; At the maximum reported throw-weight of up 10,000 kg, the missile could deliver a 50 Mt charge (the maximum theoretical yield-to-weight ratio is about 6 megatons of TNT per metric ton, and the maximum achieved ratio was apparently 5.2 megatons of TNT per metric ton in B/Mk-41).

 

 

Hezbollah’s UAV Biological Weapon Capability: A Game Changer?

by Jill Bellamy van Aalst1

Unmanned aerial vehicles have similar flight characteristics to cruise missiles, but are under active human guidance and thus are more flexible. They would be especially attractive for biological weapons delivery.

Recent events in Syria and international concern over Syria’s chemical weapon stockpile, one of the largest in the world, has overshadowed a far more dangerous clandestine military weapons program. On July 24, 2012, Syria’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Jihad Makdissi, announced that Syria would not use chemical or biological weapons it retains against its own civilians. This announcement unintentionally acknowledged both the chemical and biological weapons programs Syria has run for years. This announcement riveted both the intelligence community and non-proliferation advocates who have sought to cast doubt on Syrian biological weapons capabilities. Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles have long been monitored. Chemical weapons are relatively easy to understand and as a result, media attention has focused on Syrian chemical weapon stockpiles.

In the shadow of this biological weapons are less well understood. Syria’s biological weapons programs run out of the Syrian Scientific Research (SSRC) in Damascus have not been the focus of much media attention. That despite these weapons are far more dangerous and more likely to be deployed. Perhaps less clear is Syria’s close relationship and support of Hezbollah and Hezbollah’s arsenal of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles. The merging of Syria’s biological weapon program with Hezbollah and/or Iran’s UAV programs could create an international public health emergency more catastrophic than a natural outbreak.

In an article by Arie Egozie entitled “Israel F-16 downs another Hezbollah UAV,” Egozie notes:

An Israeli air force F-16 has shot down an unmanned air vehicle launched from Lebanon by Hezbollah militants. The threat was detected over the Mediterranean Sea on 25 April 2013 and was destroyed shortly after by an air-to-air missile. The encounter occurred at 13:30 local time, and an air force helicopter transporting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for an official visit to the north of the country landed as fighters scrambled. Israel’s latest interception of a UAV is the fifth such action to have been performed by its air force in the past decade.

Iran is believed to have supplied Hezbollah with 12 Ababil UAVs.3 The Ababil carries an 88 pound conventional payload, with a range of approximately 150 miles. Given the unique characteristics of UAV’s it is conceivable that Hezbollah, under orders from Iran, and provided with advanced technology could deploy biological weapons utilizing this platform.

Historic Precedence

Concern over the use of UAV’s as a possible platform for deploying biological weapons is not new. According to a classified version of the October 2001 US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) Iraq was “working with unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), which allow for a more lethal means to deliver biological and, less likely, chemical warfare agents.”4 The NIE judged that the UAVs were “probably intended to deliver biological warfare agents.” Further, it declared that “Baghdad’s UAVs could threaten Iraq’s neighbours, US forces in the Persian Gulf and if brought into the United States, the US Homeland.”5 The unique characteristics of biological weapons put immediate geographic targets at risk. Due to lengthy incubation periods, rDNA, synthetic biology, transmissibility, and virulence could place the global community as a whole at residual risk. Ironically, the casualty risk to Israel from a UAV mounted with BW may actually be rather negligible compared to the likely impact on the larger global community. This is especially acute with regard to regions with limited health care infrastructures and low or non-existent bio-defence capabilities.

Could Hezbollah Acquire a UAV BW Capability?

Biological and nuclear weapons fall into the highest level of WMD threat, because their effect, for a given low weight, is far greater than for chemical and radiological weapons. As a consequence, they were given a priority, comparable to that given nuclear weapons. Hezbollah has acquired almost every type of conventional weapon Iran has ever produced and works closely with Syria. As Hezbollah is considered by some to run their own laboratories in Lebanon, it is likely that Syria has already transferred weaponized biological agents to these labs.

To put the threat Hezbollah’s potential BW program poses and the possible use of their current UAV stockpile as a deployment platform into clearer focus, in 2005, France’s Interior Minister Dominique de Villepin, at an Interpol bio-terrorism conference held in Lyon, emphasized that nowadays terrorists are highly likely to use weapons of mass destruction including biological weapons. Given Hezbollah’s possible laboratories, they could easily maintain an advanced BW capability. Hezbollah’s state sponsorship by both Syria and Iran vastly increase their ability to successfully deploy BW using UAV’s.

Why a Biological Weapon Payload Poses a Unique Risk

Weaponizing biological agents suitable for a UAV payload requires stabilization and field testing techniques which are available to nearly all national military defence laboratories such as those that exist today in Syria and Iran. Technical thresholds such as stabilization, field testing and dispersal are factors which determine not only kill ratios of a weaponized agent, but the success rate a terrorist group or organization is likely to achieve. Hezbollah’s BW capability should be considered as synonymous with that of Iran. In this sense it would be far more lethal, more likely to go global and produce pandemic disease.

On the technical side, Hezbollah has been trained by Iran’s Quds forces in Sudan on BW. The type of BW is likely to be highly advanced, not a homemade version of anthrax collected from soil samples. Additionally, BW received from Syrian programs running at the SSRC in Damascus, is technically very sophisticated. Iran would have the capability to provide Hezbollah with technical mounting of UAV’s with BW. Moreover, in contrast to a conventional payload which may present issues of accuracy, a biological payload does not.

Technical Considerations regarding Hezbollah’s BW Mounted UAV’s

It is important to understand the advanced technical knowledge Iran and Syria possess both in terms of their BW Complex and mounting a UAV BW payload. A New Yorker article notes ‘the vast majority of drones in the United States will probably be used for agriculture. Drones can be used to more precisely spray crops, keep track of growth rates and hydration, and identify possible outbreaks of disease before they spoil a harvest.’

Among advanced BW agents, stabilization and deployment are significant issues due to the sensitivity of biological agents to environmental factors, not only during storage but during application. Stabilization is problematic due to the susceptibility of organisms to inactivation of biochemical compounds in the environment. The loss of viability can result from exposure to high physical and chemical stress environments such as high surface area at air-water interfaces, (frothing), extreme temperatures or pressures, high salt concentrations, dilution, and or exposure to specific inactivating agents. Stabilization of the BW agent for mounting, requires initial concentration of the agent; freeze drying (lyophilisation particularly related to anthrax), spray drying, formulation into solids, liquid or gas solutions; and deep freezing. Exact technical methods of concentration include: vacuum filtration, ultrafiltration, precipitation, and centrifugation. Freeze drying is the preferred method for long-term storage of bacterial cultures because freeze-dried cultures can be easily rehydrated and cultured via conventional means.12 Global Security. Org. offers an interesting analysis and details further the technical threshold which Iran and Syria have overcome:

A toxin agent is most effective when prepared as a freeze-dried powder and encapsulated. Such encapsulation, however, is not necessary for weaponization. Infectious biological agents are generally stabilized and then spray dried.

Under appropriate meteorological conditions and with an aerosol generator delivering 1-5 micron particle-size droplets, a single aircraft can disperse 100 kg of anthrax over a 300 km 2 area and theoretically cause 3 million deaths in a population density of 10,000 people per km2. The mean lethal inhalator dosage is 10 nanograms.

Hezbollah’s BW Scenarios for mass casualty bio-terrorism

It is unlikely Hezbollah or either of their state sponsors would choose b. anthracis (anthrax), to use in a drone attack on Israel. It is more likely they would consider highly pathogenic strains of transmissible Category A or B agents. It is also likely they have war-gamed each scenario utilizing UAV’s as the delivery platform.

The use of a UAV would likely increase probability of consistent dissemination and stability of the agent.

Aerosolization of biological agents using spray devices is the method of choice since the extreme physical conditions associated with explosive dissemination can completely inactivate the biological agent. (Aerosol dispersal allows for control of particle size and density to maximize protection from environmental degradation and uptake of the enclosed biological agents in the lungs of targeted populations.)

Dissemination efficiency rates of aerosol delivery systems are in the range of 40-60 percent. Cruise missiles, aircraft carrying gravity bombs or spray attachments, and fixed-wing or rotor craft with attached sprayers are all vehicles for delivery of biological agents. The delivery of biological agents by explosive devices is much less efficient (~1-5 percent).

The preferred approach is dispersion via the use of a pressurized gas in a submunition. Other preferred platforms from an efficiency standpoint include small rotary-wing vehicles, fixed-wing aircraft fitted with spray tanks, drones, bomblets, cruise missiles, and high-speed missiles with bomblet warheads.

The Syrian biological weapons program, run primarily out of the SSRC in Damascus, Cerin, Homs and Aleppo, are designed to be highly agile and compartmentalized. They utilize such technologies which are far superior to maintaining and continually upgrading a BW stockpile. For this reason, Syria, Iran and other nations who now run BW programs generally do not stockpile these weapons. The lack of a stockpile, even the lack of signatures on UAV mounted payloads, makes it far more difficult to identify, than during the Cold War Era.

Additionally, the weaponized agents Syria and Iran possess are sophisticated. Much of their expertise is gleaned from joint scientific research and development between Syria, Iran and North Korea. The technical obstacles faced by non-state sponsored terrorist organizations does not exist for Hezbollah or Hamas. Unfortunately, in most major transit hubs current detection technologies are not going to pick up what either Syria, Iran or others are working on today. Detection technology has not been able to keep pace with advances in the life sciences. Even multi-agent analysis is complicated by interferences between assays and the large number of BW probes. Moreover if a UAV BW payload was launched from Lebanon, detection in airports, train and bus stations would be a moot point. Drones, especially swarms loaded with BW, would have an increased chance of success particularly if some were targeted on unpopulated areas. It is worth noting that due to biological weapons’ unique characterises, a relatively light payload could produce exceptionally high kill ratios compared to a chemical warhead. It is the quality not the quantity that counts. Thus making small drones the ideal deployment platform for BW.

Should Hezbollah decide to arm their arsenal of Ababil UAV’s18 or other drones, with biological warfare agents and target Israel, perhaps using a swarm of UAV’s, the likely and unfortunate casualties will be populations in nations who do not possess a bio-defence infrastructure. These are states that do not have the economic means to stockpile vaccines and medical counter-measures, who do not have the laboratory capacity or the health care capacity to conduct mass casualty care. With several BW agents such as smallpox, incubation periods can be lengthy. Some incubation periods would be over three weeks, transmission could occur several kilometres downwind given good meteorological conditions. This means a drone could lay down BW in an unpopulated area. The BW payload, should the drone be destroyed, could go undetected until populations become symptomatic. Lengthy incubation periods mean silent transmission which would come in waves. As A-symptomatic civilians travel to other regions of Israel and internationally.  A war game, called Atlantic Storm, illustrates the existential risk to the global community from BW verses chemical or nuclear weapons.

Should Hezbollah use a highly transmissible and virulent pathogen, it is still the international community and not necessarily Israel, who will bear the brunt of mortality and economic costs. It is therefore the international community who must confront this increasing threat. Future drone technology trends will no doubt make them more tempting for use as BW platforms.  As drones get smaller, making detection more difficult, small amounts of BW which could produce high kill ratios, may well be the technology of future BW warfare.

 

 

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