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


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. . . .