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Hamas says captured two Israeli soldiers January 4, 2009

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GAZA, Jan 4 (Reuters) – Hamas said it captured two Israeli soldiers during fighting in the Gaza Strip on Sunday and was holding them hostage.

But the Israeli army said it had no knowledge of any of its soldiers falling into Hamas’s hands.

“Two soldiers were captured,” Hamas radio and television said.

The capture of Israeli soldiers by Hamas could have a large impact on public support in Israel for the Gaza offensive, in which 470 Palestinians have been killed since Dec. 27.

Gaza militants captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in a cross-border raid in June 2006. Negotiations brokered by Egypt to secure Shalit’s release have foundered.

[source]

Gaza media blackout – 28 Nov 08 December 30, 2008

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A holocaust in the making by Israel, while the world see, hears nothing.

Russia considers recognising Georgian separatists August 25, 2008

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..more bad news for US and Israel, read on…

MOSCOW (AFP) — Russian lawmakers were set Monday to consider recognising Georgia’s two breakaway regions as independent, a move that would pour fuel on the fire in simmering relations with the West.

Both houses of Russia’s parliament were to convene emergency sessions to examine appeals for recognition from South Ossetia — where fighting this month prompted Russia to send in tanks and troops — and Abkhazia.

Recognition would mean crossing a threshold for Moscow, which has backed the separatists in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since their break with Tbilisi in the early 1990s but stopped short of declaring them independent from Georgia.

The regions are internationally recognised as part of Georgia and a move to declare them independent countries would further dent relations with the West, which have plunged to their lowest point since the end of the Cold War over Russia’s intervention and insistence on maintaining positions deep inside Georgia.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who negotiated on behalf of the European Union the peace plan which ended nearly a week of fighting, on Sunday announced a special European summit on the crisis in Georgia will be held September 1.

The summit in Brussels will discuss the future of relations between the EU and Russia and on aid to Georgia, Sarkozy’s office said.

French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner had warned that Sarkozy might convene the emergency EU meeting if Russia failed to pull back its forces from positions in the former Soviet republic.  [read more]

Making Money on a New Cold War August 24, 2008

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The Russia-Georgia clash has generated heated anti-Moscow rhetoric from John McCain and U.S. neoconservatives about a new Cold War, a prospect that most people might see in a negative light but which many military contractors surely view as a financial plus.

One unstated reality about revived tensions between Washington and Moscow is that it will mean a bonanza in military spending – billions of additional dollars for anti-missile weapons systems, larger armies, construction of new bases in Eastern Europe, etc.

Indeed, the spending on Cold War II could dwarf what military contractors are now making on the “war on terror” – and the prospect of spending on both conflicts simultaneously should make arms industry executives drool.

Others who stand to profit grandly from a new East-West showdown include tough-talking politicians and their friends in Washington think tanks – like Heritage, AEI and CSIS – that have long fattened up on contributions from the defense industry and related corporations.

There would be losers, too, like taxpayers who would see more of their dollars go to “national security” and less to domestic needs, from repairs to the crumbling infrastructure to the costs of health care, education, the environment and Social Security.

But, in many ways, the exploitation of Cold War fears – to divert money away from domestic needs to the coffers of what Dwight Eisenhower dubbed “the military-industrial complex” – is nothing new.

Arguably, the original Cold War ended under Eisenhower’s former Vice President, Richard Nixon, who as President returned from Moscow in 1972 carrying a strategic agreement that he had reached with what was already a rapidly decaying Soviet Union.

“In Moscow, we witnessed the beginning of the end of that era which began in 1945,” Nixon said. “With this step, we have enhanced the security of both nations. We have begun to reduce the level of fear, by reducing the causes of fear, our two peoples, and for all the peoples of the world.”

Nixon unveiled a new era of realpolitik cooperation between Washington and Moscow that he called “détente.”

However, while reducing fears and lowering tensions might be good news for many people, it wasn’t welcomed by the corporations that profited from the fears and the tensions, nor by the intellectual hired guns who had built lucrative careers in politics, media and academia by exaggerating those fears and exacerbating those tensions.

Sabotaging Détente

So, Nixon’s era of “détente” was short-lived. After his ouster over the Watergate scandal in 1974, a new batch of Cold Warriors – some operating from conviction and others from expediency – returned to the old patterns of hyping threats and stoking paranoia.

In 1975, with President Gerald Ford confronting an internal Republican challenge from Ronald Reagan on the Right, many key figures associated with “détente” were purged, while hard-liners were given key jobs.

The so-called Halloween Massacre saw Henry Kissinger, the chief architect of détente, stripped of his post as national security adviser to be replaced by Gen. Brent Scowcroft; James Schlesinger was out as Defense Secretary while Donald Rumsfeld was in; CIA Director William Colby lost his job to George H.W. Bush; and Dick Cheney was promoted to Ford’s White House chief of staff.

Soon, alarming rumors began spreading around Washington about a new Soviet secret weapon, a nuclear-armed submarine that was undetectable to American technology. These Soviet subs could be lurking off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts ready to launch a nuclear attack without warning, a frightened public was told.  [read more]

New arms deal between Syria, Russia threatens Israel August 22, 2008

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LONDON — Syria is expected to conclude a massive arms deal with Russia later this month that strategic analysts assert will significantly erode, though not actually destroy, Israel’s qualitative military edge.

The deal, estimated to be worth $2 billion to $3 billion, has been in the works for two years and is expected to be sealed when Syrian Defense Minister Mustafa Tlas leads a high-level Syrian delegation to Moscow for 10 days of intensive talks in late February.

Among the Russian weapons systems Syria is reportedly seeking are Sukhoi-27 fighter aircraft, T-80 tanks, S-300 anti-aircraft and anti-missile Sam systems. The Sams are said to be equivalent to U.S. Patriot missiles.

According to one strategic analyst, the negotiations hit two snags before agreement was reached: The first was Syria’s residual debt — estimated at some $12 billion — to the former Soviet Union; the second was its inability to finance fresh arms purchases.

Moscow signaled its willingness to find a solution to the debt problem when it approved the sale of 1,000 anti-tank missiles to Syria last year, a $200 million contract that has been described as “an appetizer” compared to the upcoming deal.

This latest agreement will be significant for Syria on several counts, according to leading Arab strategic analyst Kassem Mohammad Jaafar.

On one level, he told the London-based daily newsletter Mideast Mirror, it would constitute the first major military deal Syria has concluded with Russia since the demise of the Soviet Union, marking the resumption of strategic cooperation between Damascus and Moscow.

On another level, the acquisition of state-of-the-art weapons by the Syrian armed forces would greatly enhance Syria’s military capability, Jaafar said. He added that the Sukhoi-27 aircraft is regarded as equivalent, if not superior, to the U.S.-made F-15 fighter jets that Israel currently has in its arsenal.

Moreover, the T-80 is one of the newest generation of tanks, while the S-300 system would enable Syria to defend itself against both missile and air strikes.

Equally important are other aspects of the deal, which involve the supply of spare parts, the upgrading of weapons systems and the support and modernization of Syria’s armed forces.

Moreover, the deal will return Russia as a major player in the Middle East, an ambition that is believed to have been accelerated since the appointment in September of pro-Arab Yevgeny Primakov as Russian prime minister.

In a related development, British intelligence sources reported that sophisticated Russian technology is being transferred to Damascus to aid Syria’s chemical weapons project.

Quoting the intelligence sources, the London Times reported that unofficial secret links have been found between Russian technical experts and Syria aimed at helping Damascus produce advanced chemical weapons.

“It is now feared that sophisticated Russian technology has been passed to Syria by former members of Moscow’s chemical weapons project,” the article said.

Through unofficial exchanges with these experts, Syria is thought to have acquired the technology for dispersing chemical agents, including VX nerve gas, via bombs from aircraft and warheads on surface-to-surface missiles.

The Syrians have also reportedly shown interest in acquiring more lethal chemicals that were developed in Russia in the 1980s.

Until the mid-1990s, Syria focused on the production of sarin nerve gas, but Damascus is now developing VX independently and is believed to have test-fired missiles armed with this agent. One test was reported to have been conducted near Damascus in May.

[source]

Fear of new Mid East ‘Cold War’ as Syria strengthens military alliance with Russia August 22, 2008

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Syria raised the prospect yesterday of having Russian missiles on its soil, sparking fears of a new Cold War in the Middle East. President Assad said as he arrived in Moscow to clinch a series of military agreements: “We are ready to co-operate with Russia in any project that can strengthen its security.”

The Syrian leader told Russian newspapers: “I think Russia really has to think of the response it will make when it finds itself closed in a circle.”

Mr Assad said that he would be discussing the deployment of Russian missiles on his territory. The Syrians are also interested in buying Russian weapons.

In return Moscow is expected to propose a revival of its Cold War era naval base at the Syrian port of Tartus, which would give the Russian Navy its first foothold in the Mediterranean for two decades. Damascus and Moscow were close allies during the Cold War but the Kremlin’s influence in the region waned after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yesterday’s rapprochement raised the possibility that Moscow intends to re-create a global anti-Western alliance with former Soviet bloc allies.  [read more]

Russia sends aircraft carrier to Syria – and yes, get ready for world war. August 21, 2008

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The Russian aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov” is ready to head from Murmansk towards the Mediterranean and the Syrian port of Tartus. The mission comes after Syrian President Bashar Assad said he is open for a Russian base in the area. The “Admiral Kuznetsov”, part of the Northern Fleet and Russia’s only aircraft carrier, will head a Navy mission to the area. The mission will also include the missile cruiser “Moskva” and several submarines, Newsru.com reports.

President Assad in meetings in Moscow this week expressed support to Russia’s intervention in South Ossetia and Georgia. He also expressed interest in the establishment of Russian missile air defence facilities on his land.

The “Admiral Kuznetsov” also last year headed a navy mission to the Mediterranean. Then, on the way from the Kola Peninsula and south, it stopped in the North Sea where it conducted a navy training exercise in the immediate vicinity of Norwegian offshore installations.  [read more]

If the Polish could accept the US missile deal and increase their presence in the area, then why can’t Russia do a deal with Syria or other Muslim nations.

All is fair in love and war…