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Curveball II: Is the BND (German Intelligence) Gaming the Syrian Civil War? (Another Good Reason NOT to Intervene in Syria)

[1]

Ger­man elec­tron­ic spy ship off Syr­i­an coast

Dave Emory’s entire life­time of work is avail­able on a flash dri­ve that can be obtained here. [2] (The flash dri­ve includes the anti-fas­cist books avail­able on this site.)

COMMENT: There is an old saw that goes: “Let’s you and him fight!” We not­ed in a pre­vi­ous post [3] that Prince Ban­dar of Sau­di Arabia–the head of Sau­di intelligence–was direct­ing the pro­gram of aid to the Syr­i­an rebels. We also not­ed that Ban­dar is so close to the Bush fam­i­ly that he has been nick­named “Ban­dar Bush.”

In this post, nev­er lose sight [4] of the pres­ence of Mus­lim Brotherhood/Al Qaeda/Islamist ele­ments, appar­ent­ly dom­i­nat­ing the Syr­i­an rebels, in spite of offi­cial denials.

A major advo­cate of the dis­as­trous U.S. involve­ment in Iraq, Ban­dar had been impli­cat­ed in major intrigues for decades, includ­ing 9/11, the Iran-Con­tra scan­dal, and a slush fund scan­dal, in which he is being rep­re­sent­ed by for­mer FBI direc­tor Louis Freeh. [5]

A report attrib­uted to Ger­man intel­li­gence [6] (BND) alleges that the Syr­i­an regime did indeed launch the chem­i­cal weapons attack that is the foun­da­tion for pro­posed U.S. mil­i­tary action against that coun­try’s armed forces. (See text excerpts below.)

In a post from last year [7], Ger­many Watch (which feeds along the right side of the front page of this web­site) notes the pres­ence off of the Syr­i­an coast of a Ger­man elec­tron­ic intel­li­gence ship, gath­er­ing infor­ma­tion on bat­tle­field com­mu­ni­ca­tions in the war. (See text excerpts below.)

In addi­tion to Russ­ian alle­ga­tions that it was, in fact, the rebels who used the chem­i­cal weapons, a web­site run by a Palestinian/American [8] alleges that the afore­men­tioned Prince Ban­dar had equipped the rebels with the chem­i­cal weapons, which may have been acci­den­tal­ly det­o­nat­ed. (“Van­field” not­ed the edi­to­r­i­al bias [9] of this site, when he post­ed the com­ment con­tain­ing the arti­cle.) (See text excerpts below.)

A num­ber of things come to mind: 

“What Links The Arab Spring, Dr David Kel­ly, & Ger­man Intel­li­gence?”; Ger­many Watch; 8/27/2012. [7]

EXCERPT: With the recent devel­op­ments in Syr­ia, it is inter­est­ing to first note an arti­cle from the Ger­man press, in order to give our expla­na­tion a ref­er­ence point.

Offi­cial­ly of course, the US and UK gov­ern­ments have no love for Syr­i­a’s Assad. But they are also aware that many of the Syr­i­an rebels are Islam­ic extrem­ists, hence there is a bal­anc­ing act between avoid­ing the worst of two bad choic­es. This why the US was sketchy about arm­ing the rebels like they did in Libya — Assad is not quite the mad dog that Gaddafi was, and hence may be the less­er of two evils (the alter­na­tive being a Mus­lim Brotherhood/Jihadist Syr­ia).

The Ger­mans though, are mak­ing no such dis­tinc­tions. In the Ger­man press arti­cle, pub­lished pret­ty much ver­ba­tim in the three main Ger­man news­pa­pers, were these lit­tle gems;

“A Ger­man news­pa­per has report­ed that a spy ship from the Ger­man intel­li­gence agency is help­ing Syr­i­an rebels. Accord­ing to a report on Sun­day in the paper Bild am Son­ntag, the ship is equipped to detect troop move­ments as far as 600 kilo­me­ters (372.8 miles) inland. The paper says the infor­ma­tion thus obtained is being passed by the Ger­man for­eign intel­li­gence agency BND to Unit­ed States and British intel­li­gence ser­vices. These in turn are hand­ing it on to Syr­i­an rebels, the report says.”

The report quotes a US intel­li­gence agent as say­ing: “No West­ern intel­li­gence ser­vice has as good sources in Syr­ia as the BND does.” (They nev­er won­dered why??)

A mem­ber of the BND told the news­pa­per that the intel­li­gence ser­vice was “proud of the impor­tant con­tri­bu­tion [it] is mak­ing to the over­throw of the Assad regime.” . . . .

“Ger­man Spy Agency Sees Assad Behind Gas Attack, Cites Phone Call” by Alexan­dra Hud­son; Reuters.com; 9/4/2013. [6]

EXCERPT: A Hezbol­lah offi­cial said in a phone call inter­cepted by Ger­man intel­li­gence that Pres­i­dent Bashar al-Assad had made a mis­take in order­ing a poi­son gas attack last month, sug­gest­ing the Syr­ian leader’s cul­pa­bil­ity, par­tic­i­pants at a secu­rity brief­ing for Ger­man law­mak­ers said.

Accord­ing to par­tic­i­pants at a con­fi­den­tial meet­ing on Mon­day, attend­ed by For­eign Min­is­ter Gui­do West­er­welle, the head of the BND for­eign intel­li­gence agency told the law­mak­ers its indi­ca­tions of Assad’s respon­si­bil­ity for the Aug 21 inci­dent includ­ed an inter­cepted phone call believed to be between a high rank­ing mem­ber of the Hezbol­lah Lebanese Shi’ite mil­i­tant group and the Iran­ian embassy in Dam­as­cus.

In the phone call, the Hezbol­lah offi­cial says Assad’s order for the attack was a mis­take and that he was los­ing his nerve, the par­tic­i­pants report­ed the BND brief­ing as say­ing. Both Iran and Hezbol­lah sup­port Assad. . . .

“Syr­i­ans In Ghou­ta Claim Sau­di-Sup­plied Rebels Behind Chem­i­cal Attack” by Dale Gavlak and Yahya Abab­neh;  Mint Press; 8/29/ 2013. [8]

EXCERPT: . . . How­ever, from numer­ous inter­views with doc­tors, Ghou­ta res­i­dents, rebel fight­ers and their fam­i­lies, a dif­fer­ent pic­ture emerges. Many believe that cer­tain rebels received chem­i­cal weapons via the Sau­di intel­li­gence chief, Prince Ban­dar bin Sul­tan, and were respon­si­ble for car­ry­ing out the dead­ly gas attack.

“My son came to me two weeks ago ask­ing what I thought the weapons were that he had been asked to car­ry,” said Abu Abdel-Mon­eim, the father of a rebel fight­ing to unseat Assad, who lives in Ghou­ta.

Abdel-Mon­eim said his son and 12 oth­er rebels were killed inside of a tun­nel used to store weapons pro­vided by a Sau­di mil­i­tant, known as Abu Ayesha, who was lead­ing a fight­ing bat­tal­ion. The father described the weapons as hav­ing a “tube-like struc­ture” while oth­ers were like a “huge gas bot­tle.”

Ghou­ta towns­peo­ple said the rebels were using mosques and pri­vate hous­es to sleep while stor­ing their weapons in tun­nels.

Abdel-Mon­eim said his son and the oth­ers died dur­ing the chem­i­cal weapons attack. That same day, the mil­i­tant group Jab­hat al-Nus­ra, which is linked to al-Qai­da, announced that it would sim­i­larly attack civil­ians in the Assad regime’s heart­land of Latakia on Syria’s west­ern coast, in pur­ported retal­i­a­tion.

“They didn’t tell us what these arms were or how to use them,” com­plained a female fight­er named ‘K.’ “We didn’t know they were chem­i­cal weapons. We nev­er imag­ined they were chem­i­cal weapons.”

“When Sau­di Prince Ban­dar gives such weapons to peo­ple, he must give them to those who know how to han­dle and use them,” she warned. She, like oth­er Syr­i­ans, do not want to use their full names for fear of ret­ri­bu­tion.

A well-known rebel leader in Ghou­ta named ‘J’ agreed. “Jab­hat al-Nus­ra mil­i­tants do not coop­er­ate with oth­er rebels, except with fight­ing on the ground. They do not share secret infor­ma­tion. They mere­ly used some ordi­nary rebels to car­ry and oper­ate this mate­r­ial,” he said.

“We were very curi­ous about these arms. And unfor­tu­nately, some of the fight­ers han­dled the weapons improp­erly and set off the explo­sions,” ‘J’ said.

Doc­tors who treat­ed the chem­i­cal weapons attack vic­tims cau­tioned inter­view­ers to be care­ful about ask­ing ques­tions regard­ing who, exact­ly, was respon­si­ble for the dead­ly assault.

The human­i­tar­ian group Doc­tors With­out Bor­ders added that health work­ers aid­ing 3,600 patients also report­ed expe­ri­enc­ing sim­i­lar symp­toms, includ­ing froth­ing at the mouth, res­pi­ra­tory dis­tress, con­vul­sions and blur­ry vision. The group has not been able to inde­pen­dently ver­ify the infor­ma­tion.

More than a dozen rebels inter­viewed report­ed that their salaries came from the Sau­di gov­ern­ment.

Sau­di involve­ment

In a recent arti­cle for Busi­ness Insid­er, reporter Geof­frey Inger­soll high­lighted Sau­di Prince Bandar’s role in the two-and-a-half year Syr­ian civ­il war. Many observers believe Ban­dar, with his close ties to Wash­ing­ton, has been at the very heart of the push for war by the U.S. against Assad.

Inger­soll referred to an arti­cle in the U.K.’s Dai­ly Tele­graph about secret Russ­ian-Sau­di talks alleg­ing that Ban­dar offered Russ­ian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin cheap oil in exchange for dump­ing Assad.

“Prince Ban­dar pledged to safe­guard Russia’s naval base in Syr­ia if the Assad regime is top­pled, but he also hint­ed at Chechen ter­ror­ist attacks on Russia’s Win­ter Olympics in Sochi if there is no accord,” Inger­soll wrote.

“I can give you a guar­an­tee to pro­tect the Win­ter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threat­en the secu­rity of the games are con­trolled by us,” Ban­dar alleged­ly told the Rus­sians. . . .

“The Rivals’ Alliances”; German-Foreign-Policy.com; 2013/09/02. [14]

EXCERPT: Berlin has react­ed to the UK par­lia­men­t’s deci­sion not to par­tic­i­pate in an attack on Syr­ia with an about-face in its own for­eign pol­i­cy. Up until Thurs­day, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment and the oppo­si­tion had been unan­i­mous­ly pro­claim­ing that the use chem­i­cal weapons near Dam­as­cus must have “con­se­quences” and empha­siz­ing their approval of the British prime min­ster’s bel­ligeren­cy. Now the Ger­man gov­ern­ment is declar­ing that it is not con­sid­er­ing “a mil­i­tary strike,” while the oppo­si­tion is pro­fess­ing that “a mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion would be a mis­take.” This about-face must be seen in the con­text of the strate­gic lee­way in Europe, result­ing from the new sit­u­a­tion, which only con­cerns Syr­ia at a sec­ondary lev­el. As the Ger­man Insti­tute for Inter­na­tion­al and Secu­ri­ty Affairs (SWP) notes, the British par­lia­men­t’s deci­sion has not only “dam­aged the spe­cial rela­tion­ship with the Unit­ed States,” it also pro­vides Ger­many new polit­i­cal advan­tages. More­over, “the British-French secu­ri­ty and defense pol­i­cy alliance has been weak­ened,” there­by strength­en­ing Ger­many’s posi­tion. In spite of its about-face in for­eign pol­i­cy, bel­li­cose posi­tions are still rem­nant in Berlin. For exam­ple, the Chair­man of the Munich Secu­ri­ty Con­fer­ence, Wolf­gang Ischinger, declared that the West should not “from the out­set” exclude any option — includ­ing par­tic­i­pa­tion in a war.

No Dis­so­ci­a­tion

Ger­many has react­ed to the UK par­lia­men­t’s deci­sion not to par­tic­i­pate in an attack on Syr­ia with a rapid about-face in its own for­eign pol­i­cy. Fol­low­ing her tele­phone con­ver­sa­tion with the British Prime Min­is­ter David Cameron on Wednes­day, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor declared that both had agreed that the “Syr­i­an regime” should not hope “to be able to con­tin­ue this kind of inter­na­tion­al­ly ille­gal war­fare with­out pun­ish­ment:” An inter­na­tion­al reac­tion is “inevitable.”[1] On Thurs­day the SPD’s can­di­date for the chan­cellery, Peer Stein­brück, stat­ed that he shared the gov­ern­men­t’s posi­tion that “a seri­ous vio­la­tion of inter­na­tion­al legal norms,” such as the use of poi­son gas can­not be ignored: “We can­not dis­so­ci­ate our­selves one from anoth­er, just because we are in an elec­tion campaign.”[2] This was the sit­u­a­tion up to Lon­don’s Low­er House­’s deci­sion to refuse mil­i­tary aggres­sion against Syr­ia by a vote of 285 — 272. This is not bind­ing for the British gov­ern­ment, how­ev­er de fac­to Prime Min­is­ter Cameron can no longer imple­ment his war plans as he had intend­ed.

New Accent

In Berlin, the reac­tion Fri­day morn­ing was what the press polite­ly referred to as a new “accent,” [3] and a cross-par­ty con­sen­sus. Where­as the chan­cel­lor stuck to her for­mu­la­tions that there must be “con­se­quences” for using chem­i­cal weapons, there­by main­tain­ing ver­bal con­ti­nu­ity and all options open, the Min­is­ter of For­eign Affairs declared that Ger­many would, under no con­di­tions, take part in an attack on Syr­ia. He spoke in the name of the “entire Ger­man gov­ern­ment.” “We are not con­sid­er­ing mil­i­tary means,” con­firmed a spokesper­son for the government.[4] The SPD chan­cel­lor can­di­date chimed in almost in uni­son: “I would like to make it clear that I, and the SPD, con­sid­er a mil­i­tary inter­ven­tion to be a mis­take, because we can­not see how this would help the peo­ple of Syr­ia.” Berlin’s for­eign pol­i­cy con­sen­sus has been main­tained, even though the oppo­si­tion has a greater mar­gin of maneu­ver and can for­mu­late more offen­sive­ly than the Ger­man gov­ern­ment.

Dam­aged “Spe­cial Rela­tion­ship”

Lon­don’s change of course, imposed by the British par­lia­ment, pro­vides Berlin an oppor­tu­ni­ty that only con­cerns Syr­ia at a sec­ondary lev­el. Accord­ing to a posi­tion state­ment by the Ger­man Insti­tute for Inter­na­tion­al and Secu­ri­ty Affairs (SWP), the British Low­er House­’s “No” express­es “the doubts the par­lia­men­tar­i­ans have,” about whether an attack on Syr­ia is appro­pri­ate and expe­di­ent, while extend­ing “far beyond the moti­va­tions and con­se­quences (...) of the Syr­ia pol­i­cy.” On the one hand, hes­i­ta­tion about using mil­i­tary means has grown, not only with­in British pub­lic opin­ion, but also at the polit­i­cal lev­el since the fail­ure of the Iraq war. On the oth­er, the grow­ing par­lia­men­tary con­trol will have an effect. “Great Britain has relin­quished its claim of being able to step into the inter­na­tion­al ring above its ‘weight class,’ as well as a por­tion of its role as the junior part­ner of the USA.” In effect, with Fri­day night’s deci­sion, “the ‘spe­cial rela­tion­ship’ with the USA (...) has been dam­aged; in Wash­ing­ton, the reli­a­bil­i­ty of the British gov­ern­ment has been put into ques­tion.” “The high­est objec­tive of British secu­ri­ty pol­i­cy — main­tain­ing mil­i­tary and polit­i­cal rel­e­vance in US mil­i­tary inter­ven­tions, to keep the USA as the pro­tec­tive pow­er of Europe — is a failure.”[5]

Weak­ened British-French Alliance

And that is not all. Accord­ing to the SWP, the British par­lia­men­t’s deci­sion also “weak­ened the French-British secu­ri­ty and defense pol­i­cy alliance.” The mil­i­tary alliance between Lon­don and Paris — for­mal­ly con­clud­ed in Novem­ber 2010 — (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[6]), which first open­ly went into action in the war on Libya, had been very crit­i­cal­ly scru­ti­nized by Ger­man gov­ern­ment advi­sors. The Ger­man Coun­cil on For­eign Rela­tions (DGAP) point­ed out that this alliance was a rival mod­el to the Ger­man-French mil­i­tary coop­er­a­tion with­in the EU. It has even been referred to as a new form of nascent oppo­si­tion to Ger­man hege­mo­ny, as a “new Entente Cor­diale” against Berlin.[7] Where­as Lon­don and Paris had recent­ly been mak­ing joint prepa­ra­tions for war on Syr­ia, France now stands “almost alone in Europe, with its will­ing­ness to use mil­i­tary force,” writes the SWP.[8] Berlin ben­e­fits most from the fact that Paris, hav­ing iso­lat­ed itself, has pushed Lon­don “clos­er toward the Euro­pean main­stream” — i.e. clos­er to the Ger­man posi­tion. . . .