15-Feb-17 – Is the Two-State Solution Already Dead? A Political and Military History of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

By Hasan Afif El-Hasan

Via Algora Publishing

Born in Beit Eiba, a small village near Nablus, while Palestine was still ruled under the British Mandate, Hasan Afif El-Hasan, Ph.D, is a political analyst and journalist whose work is published in Al-Ahram, PalestineChronicle.com and other print and online media.

Dr. El-Hasan lived through the 1948 Arab–Israeli war, then the annexation of the West Bank to Jordan. He witnessed the defeat of the Arab armies, the exodus of the Palestinians, the total dissolution of their community and the ensuing chaos. The Iraqi military contingent camp was on his village’s land in 1948 but as the Iraqi commanding officer said, “We have no orders to fight.” This paradoxical situation inspired the author’s future research and writing. After completing high school in the West Bank, Mr. El-Hasan earned his teaching credentials in Nablus and taught math and science in its secondary schools. Later he came to the United States, where he earned a B.S. degree in electronics engineering and an M.S. in electrical engineering, and enjoyed a successful career in technology. He then earned a Ph.D. in political science from the University of California at Riverside and went on to study the origins and the context of the current conflict.

The “Palestinians” or “Palestinian Arabs” in this book are the people identifying themselves as Arabs who had been living in Palestine just before the establishment of Israel, as well as their descendants. The West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem are referred to as “the occupied land.” The Israelis call the indigenous Palestinians only “Arabs” to deny their linkage to Palestine and refer to the West Bank by its Biblical names “Judea and Samaria” to make the historical connection of the Jewish people with this land or the “disputed territory,” to deny its status as occupied land. The Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics (PCBS) estimates that there were more than nine million Palestinians scattered throughout the world as of 2006. More than one million were living in Israel proper, three and a half million lived in the West Bank and Gaza, two and a half million lived in Jordan and the rest were dispersed through the Arab world, Europe and North and South America. The American–Israel Demographic Group disputed these findings and concluded that the PCBS total numbers are inflated by one million three-hundred thousand.

I strongly argue against the concept of using ethnic origin to define nations today because every community within a geographic area is a mixture of races that came in contact through conquest, migration and intermarriages across time. This applies especially to the self-identified Arabs and Jews in Palestine. Arabs or Jews, or any race for that matter, throughout the world, cannot support their claim of being closely related genetically, by biology. Palestine was successively conquered by Canaanites, Philistinians, ancient Israelites, Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans and Turks, by Muslims and by Christian crusaders. The groups that lived in Palestine fought, interacted and collaborated, but no group was obliterated in history. The Palestinians are the descendents of all the groups that inhabited the land since the ancient Canaanites and beyond. I therefore reject the myth of race and racial superiority including the ideology that fed the Fascism of the last century.

No population has struggled more than the Palestinians to hold onto their land or to return to the homes they were forced to leave — and achieved so little, if anything. Only the American Indian tribes and the indigenous peoples of New Zealand and Tasmania suffered similar injustice when they were systematically destroyed and ethnically cleansed to make room for British and European colonialists. The Palestinians used diplomacy, negotiations, protests, uprisings and wars but they have failed to save their lands and the refugees never returned to their homes. Even after the establishment of the State of Israel, the signing of peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, and the recognition of Israel by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Israel still controls all of historic Palestine and the Palestinians, dispossessed and oppressed, are either living under brutal occupation in cantons surrounded by Jewish-only settlements and roads, check-points and the Israeli wall of separation, or they are living in refugee camps across the Middle East, and a sizable minority inside Israel is treated as second if not third class citizens.

This work condemns all violence for any reason and advocates for a just peace in Palestine based on human rights and international law, a peace which all parties to the century-old conflict and the people of the region need. To that end, the Palestinians should unite and do what is necessary to strengthen the “peace camp” in Israel; the Israelis should abandon the ideology of conquest and stop electing governments that may foreclose the possibility of peace with justice; and the international community (the US and Europe) should live up to the principles of justice that they claim their civilized societies hold dear.

Supporting the right of Israel to exist and prosper should not mean supporting it in subordinating Palestinians’ claims to their historical rights and controlling their destiny. Many Israeli individuals and groups love their country and also support the Palestinians’ right to have their independent state, but they are still in the minority. They question how their Jewish people can celebrate their ancient struggle against slavery and the anti-Semitism of today, claiming moral superiority, but at the same time accept oppressing another people, occupying and colonizing their land under false narratives. The Israeli novelist David Grossman spoke for many Israeli intellectuals and peace advocates when he wrote, “I could not understand how an entire nation like mine, an enlightened nation by all accounts, is able to train itself to live as a conqueror without making its own life wretched.”[1]

This study will put the stories of the two parties to the Palestinian conflict, the Israelis and the Palestinians, side by side and leave it to the reader to conclude why a just peace that addresses the rights of the Palestinians serves the interests of the Israelis as well. To that end, I try to present a critical political discussion based on facts that Israel cannot be simply erased, and it will prosper and be more secure without being a colonial power. And despite their weakness, the Palestinians will refuse to continue living under oppression and in refugee camps. Chapter 1 summarizes what this study is all about. It is an effort to explain the historical and ideological background of the parties to the conflict. It covers briefly major historical events since the 19th century that led to the present sorry state. Only by understanding what has transpired in the past, the reader may grasp the Palestinian issue and why it is time the international community should act with more responsibility and a commitment to resolve the conflict according to international law and justice.

Chapter 2 is a brief review of the Arab nationalism since the 19th century. The link between Arab nationalism and the Palestinian issue today is more emotions and less substance, but under Arab nationalism, regular armies of the neighboring Arab states waged wars against Israel. Palestine was ruled by the Ottoman Turks as a part of Syria for four-hundred years before Britain and France defeated Turkey in World War I (WW I). Syria was the center of Arab nationalism when the Ottoman Empire was dismantled and Palestine was promised as a homeland for the Jews by the triumphant British. Syria was home of al-Baath Party and the Syrian Socialist National Party, organized nationalist parties that advocated the establishment of national state which included Palestine. The two political parties were strong opponents to the establishment of a homeland for the Jews in Palestine. President Nasser of Egypt championed the Palestinian cause as the self-proclaimed leader of the Pan-Arab nationalism. After the 1967 war, Arab nationalism has been replaced by local traditional and sectarian Islamic nationalism. But most Arabs today, even in the countries that made peace with Israel, continue to support the Palestinians and refuse to accept normalization with the Israelis before the Palestinian issue is resolved.

Chapter 3 is a brief history of the Palestinians since the dawn of the 20th century when Palestine was ruled by the Turks. It covers the pre-1948 period, the 1948 war, the PLO and Fatah history in Jordan and Lebanon and the rise of Hamas movement.

Chapter 4 is a review of Zionism and its early leaders and how it succeeded in the creation of modern Israel. The State of Israel has been the crowning achievement of the Zionist movement. Zionism has been the most successful international political movement in modern history. Its founder promised a homeland for the Jews in fifty years, and he was on target. The Jewish community in Palestine before the establishment of Israel is sometimes called the “Yishuv” in this study.

Chapter 5 is a narrative of the Hashemites’ relations with Palestine since World War I. The histories of the Hashemites and Palestine are so intertwined that they can hardly be separated. Sherif Hussein Ben Ali, the patriarch of the Hashemite dynasty, lost his kingdom for refusing to accept the Balfour declaration, and when he was on his death bed, he asked to be buried in Jerusalem. King Abdullah the First of Jordan succeeded in keeping Jerusalem and the West Bank in Arab hands after the 1948 war. And until the 1967 war, the West Bank and Jerusalem were an integral part of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It was only in1988 that King Hussein Ibn Talal disclaimed his sovereignty over the occupied West Bank and recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinians.

Chapter 6 describes the relationship between Egypt and Palestine since 1914. Egypt fought four bloody wars against Israel, controlled the Gaza Strip from 1948 till 1967, and now it shares Gaza’s life-line border. Jamal Abdel-Nasser championed the Palestinian cause under the banner of Arab Nationalism.

Chapter 7 reviews the development of Palestinian–Israeli relations after the 2003 Quartet “Roadmap for Peace” plan was announced. Representatives of the “Quartet,” an ad hoc American-dominated committee made up of the US, the EU, Russia, and the UN, endorsed a 2003 US-proposed schedule of conditions and events dubbed the “Roadmap” for breaking the Palestinian–Israeli impasse and paving the way to a peace settlement based on a two-state solution.

Chapter 8 reviews the politics of the Palestinians after the Legislative Council Elections of 2006 and the Hamas victory. The victors in these elections were boycotted by the West, and Israel refused to cooperate with any government headed by Hamas. The Palestinian experiment in democracy was aborted by the very countries that rightly criticize Arab states for their lack of democracy.

Chapter 9 describes the 2006 Lebanese–Israeli war and its impact on Israeli politics. The Lebanese Shiite military group Hizbullah ambushed an Israeli military patrol in a cross-border raid; Israel responded by bombarding Lebanese roads, bridges, ports and airports, as well as other targets. Hizbullah’s response was to fire hundreds of rockets on Israeli targets across the border, killing Israeli civilians including Israeli Arabs. Once it disengaged from Lebanon, the Israeli government was criticized for mismanaging the war, moved even more forcefully against the Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip which was governed by the Hamas faction and besieged by Israel.

Chapter 10 analyzes the so-called “peace process” including the 2002 Arab peace proposal and the 2007 US-sponsored Annapolis conference. The Palestinians have been clinging to the US “Roadmap” for peace and the Arab states have tried to revive the peace process, but Israel does not consider itself an occupier. Instead of withdrawing, Israel has built the separation wall and hundreds of new homes in major settlements in the West Bank.

Chapter 11, as the last chapter of the book, talks about the failure of Palestinian and Israeli negotiators to reach a final peace agreement. This study concludes that if there is any hope for establishing a sovereign Palestinian state, the Palestinians must end factionalism; the Israeli electorate political orientation must move away from the ideology of conquest; and the United States must transform its traditional Middle East policy of blind support to Israel into a genuine even-handed approach. The problem is that none of these players is ready to correct course. Chapter 11 thus reviews nonviolent options that the Palestinians may consider if the two-state solution is declared dead.

15-Feb-17 – Euro Error

The Dilemma: Prosperity Or The Single State, A Choice Must Be Made

By Prof. Jean-Jacques Rosa

via Algora Publishing

Dr. Rosa was an economic adviser to the French Prime Minister, 1997-1999. He founded the MBA program and two doctoral programs in business finance at the Inst. of Political Studies, Paris, which takes a practical and broad-based approach to the study of economic, political and social problems; he taught at Sciences Po from 1978 to 2008 and is now a Professor Emeritus.

Who among Europeans could be anti-Europe? In the entire world, the Old continent is the place where the standard of living is the highest, where the culture is the oldest and, at the same time, the richest in diversity, where the way of life is most pleasant, and where democracy is the most widespread.

But if Europeans are so happy with their continent, what kind of Europe do they want for the future? Starting with the formation of the common market at the end of the Fifties, intended to restore the free exchange of goods, services, men and capital after the wave of protectionism and isolationism of the depression years and the war, the European leadership have gone on to erecting a plan for a monetary and thus a political Europe, that of a very great and a single State.

Without that, they would have it, we would be relegated to decline and impotence and finally to obliteration. Not to want Europe unified, statist and monetarist, would be not to want Europe at all, as if the latter could admit only that one definition, only that one design; a typical example of politically correct thinking.

Actually, the European plan and consequently the future of the continent are marked by a deep ambiguity. The concept is economic and liberal when it comes to reintroducing free trade on a continent that had been given over to state intervention and protectionism for half a century: a single market and competition, in contrast to national statist intervention. Initially intended to support the United States against the Soviet threat, the European enterprise has retained a statist and military purpose, which tends to be defined as an end in itself.

It is this statist aspect that today comes into question precisely at the moment when the Soviet threat is disappearing, whereas the aspect of the market and competitive free trade has pretty much been carried out or is about to be completed. This is the moment that the European political leadership chooses to prod us down the path toward a single currency that leads logically and necessarily to the construction of a single federative or confederate State.

As long as Europe wants to preserve a political role in the world, that would appear to be a natural ambition. Of course, it does not please the Americans, who are afraid of competition in managing the planet’s affairs. But that is all the more reason to do it! And it would be so much simpler for companies and travelers to use only one currency for the whole continent.

Unfortunately, this apparent simplicity is misleading. As scientists know, complex problems always have a solution that is clear, common sense, simple . . . and false! Upon superficial examination, the diversity that generates competition, the complexity of States and currencies as well as that of companies, always seems wasteful. To manufacture one product for every consumer, be it the black Ford Model T of the beginning of the century or the unisex uniform imposed on the Chinese by Mao, has a fatal allure for the social engineer slumbering inside each one of us.

In the same way, a single State seems as though it would be more efficient, more “rational” than several, to the Platonic and Cartesian minds that populate the hierarchical and administrative organizations.

That was the “solution” of Soviet planning invented by Lenin: to manage the country as one immense enterprise. We know how that turned out. The source of the error, as Hayek explained, is that central planning atrophies the production and diffusion of information that, by contrast, competition encourages. The single hierarchy dramatically reduces society’s level of information and diminishes the quality of products as well as that of policies.

But what can we say, then, about the example of the United States? Do they not collectively prove the greater effectiveness of a great continental State able to create and multiply wealth at a rate never before achieved? Why not imitate them once again by creating the United States of Europe?

This parallel is tempting but false. Conditions at the end of the 20th century differ radically from those of the end of the 18th. When the American Federation was constituted, its population was homogeneous and very small. Creating the United States, in 1776, was rather like creating a country the size of Switzerland today. At the beginning of the 19th century, the Union hardly counted more than eight million inhabitants and it reached thirty million only on the eve of the War of Secession.

Thereafter, a small federal State was crowned with exceptional success; it became large because it was effective, it was not a State that was more effective because it was large from the outset. At the time, no one had in mind the creation of a giant by merging highly diverse nation-states. The United States represents the example of the small firm that succeeds, and thus grows, not that of the “national champion” imagined by civil servants who pride themselves in playing one of those construction games, like Lego’s. So the American adventure was and will remain the exception.

Another fundamental difference should give the eurocrats pause. For a long time the Americans did not need a single currency. And they transitioned toward a central bank at the federal level over more than a century, from 1790 until the creation of the Federal Reserve System in 1913.

The idea of a single currency and a Very Great State belongs in the domain of administrative Utopia. First, because it proposes to create ex nihilo a common currency for several States, which has never succeeded in the past. Then, because it requires the construction of a single State, the continental Super-State, by merging great States of very different nature, and with heterogeneous populations, which has never been seen either.

The effort appears all the more absurd since the single currency will serve practically no useful purpose. On the contrary, it will necessarily harm the national economies. What is more, the Single State would be a fundamental aberration in the general development of private and public organizations. It will be expensive, useless, and will make still more difficult the essential reform of hypertrophied national States.

The elites in power in Europe actually propose to reproduce on this continent the model of ancient China, against the very spirit of the “European miracle” which led the nation-States of this small extension of Asia to dominate the world. How indeed did Europe come so far?

Through competition and rivalry among the States, a process well described by British historian E.L. Jones1. It is the competition between rival nations that explains the unusual quality of the public services which the European populations enjoyed and which in turn determined the exceptional progress of the economy and the techniques characteristic of our continent, in modern times. This is the reverse of China, which very early on established a gigantic empire in which the State held a hierarchical monopoly on the production of low quality publicservices, which paralyzed innovation and destroyed the entrepreneurial spirit for several centuries. Tomorrow China will explode like the USSR and Yugoslavia. Europeans should avoid such a dead-end.

Hayek described the route toward servitude along which the victorious democracies were unwittingly advancing at the end of the Second World War. Today, we must avoid the dangerous slope of a decline that would affect Europe alone. The danger is no longer that of external totalitarianism, it is our own capacity for error and the soft totalitarianism of our elites.

Thus continental Europe is taking a wrong turn. The last decade of the 20th century will go down in history—for this club of old countries that count among the richest in the world—as a period of moral discouragement and economic decline.

Paradoxically, this period should have been marked by optimism and dynamism. The European nations succeeded in making a flawless economic comeback and achieved remarkable growth since the disaster of the Great Depression and the Second World War. In thirty years, between 1945 and 1975, they caught up with the standard of living and the technology of this century’s world leader, the United States. With the disappearance of the communist threat on its eastern doorstep, and the opening on a world in full process of market globalization, Europe should enjoy a time of full optimism and daring changes. The reduction of the defense effort, the normalization of the price of energy, and the triumph of the democratic market system should have resulted in abundant peace dividends. But quite to the contrary, we see moroseness and stagnation, an incapacity for reform, and aging of the structures that dominate since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Continental growth is stunted since the disinflation of the Eighties and the German reunification which was supposed, according to official speeches of the time, to bring an extraordinary dynamism to the economy beyond the Rhine as well as, by contagion, to those of all the other European partners. Instead, unemployment is now reaching levels close to those of the Thirties. The prospect of an indefinite pursuit of restrictive financial policies that choke expansion discourages those more enterprising who now choose to invest elsewhere.

Against this backdrop of deceleration and economic and social difficulties, the governments lack the courage to tackle fundamental reform of the welfare state—inordinately swollen since the last war by the easy tax receipts that readily flow during exceptional growth.

Taxes and costs are reaching the limits of what the active population can support, inflating the underground economy and contracting the job market. Investors are turning away from a continent where the cost of labor has become prohibitive compared to its productivity.

The productive basis of our societies is eroding, while the diminished growth hinders the modernization of businesses.

Having been reformed in-depth, North America, Latin America (having digested its debt crisis), Asia (the dragons, but also continental China, in spite of inevitable mishaps along the way), and Great Britain all already feel the effects of a new world dynamism; but as a result of their restrictive fiscal policies the majority of the continental European economies are just limping along.

15-Feb-17 – Dmitry Drobnitsky: Constitutional Crisis and the Specter of American Authoritarianism

Vzglyad, February 13, 2017
by Dmitry Drobnitsky
Translated by Alice Decker

What if Donald Trump really starts to act like a populist, spitting on the procedural formalities and deciding to end the constitutional crisis by addressing himself directly to the people, relying on the law enforcement agencies?

To say that Donald Trump is being criticized harshly and his policies desperately resisted is an understatement. The crux of the matter is that the mainstream media, professional politicians, lobbyists and PR people are conducting an organized persecution of the newly elected 45th president of the United States.

This is not surprising.

The master of the White House promised to make a lot of changes, and apparently he is going to fulfill his promise. The losers in the elections —the left-leaning liberals, foreign policy hawks and captains of transnational business — fear losing their influence in Washington, and so every day they are attacking the White House in an effort to create an unbearable situation for Trump.

But if Trump’s opponents would put themselves in his place for a moment, they would almost certainly realize how dangerous a game they are playing.

The Donald is not in this for the money, fame or influence. He already has all of that. He has had to radically change his life at the age of almost 70, jumping into a previously unknown field and engaging in a struggle against the entire political class and the media, which together heretofore have easily torn apart any objectionable candidate.

He won — largely due to the fact that those Americans who for too long have felt voiceless and forgotten believed in him. He awakened a social movement, which blew past all the “inevitable winners” and put him in the White House in the hope of change.

And what now?

In the current crisis, almost all the law enforcement agencies are on Trump’s side.

No president before Trump — not Andrew Jackson or Richard Nixon or Ronald Reagan — having won the election, faced such defamation in the media, with such a dirty slander and such well-organized protests, with undisguised politically motivated opposition from the judiciary bureaucratic sabotage and obstruction from the congressional opposition.

And even the new president’s own party is behaving strangely, to put it mildly.

On Trump’s candidate appointees, some interim agreement has probably been achieved with the Senate majority — in every instance with difficulty, but they won the vote in the upper house of Congress. But the Republicans are giving no moral support to the new president even though they owe their party’s victory entirely to him. Worse, they behave as if moral truth is on their side and that it is they who are “allowing” him to become the head of the US executive branch.

This allowed a bipartisan group of senators led by John McCain to take the demarche of proposing a bill requiring the new president (if the law is adopted) not only to explain to Congress in advance why he wants to remove certain sanctions against Russia, but also to prove that his cooperation with Russia meets US national interests.

Yes, the “Russia Sanctions Review Act” is unlikely to be adopted (and it certainly will not overcome a veto by the White House), but such experienced senators as McCain, Graham, Rubio, Cardin, Brown and McCaskill cannot help but understand that they are attempting to limit the constitutional powers of the US president.

Similarly, the District of Seattle Court (Washington State) and the 9th Circuit Federal Court of Appeals (located in San Francisco, California) could not fail to understand that with its decision to suspend Donald Trump’s immigration decree they are initiating a direct confrontation between the branches of power and hence, a constitutional crisis.

Here we should give some explanations.

In accordance with the US Constitution and Federal Statute 8 USC 1182 (f), the United States Congress gave the president the right to ensure national security at his discretion, to prohibit entry into the United States to any category of persons for a period which he considers necessary. That is, the court has clearly exceeded its powers.

Protecting American citizens from external threats — military, economic, or any other — has always been the prerogative of the Executive. Every time Congress, or individual states, or the courts have encroached on it, American history has seen trouble.

The most glaring example is the US Civil War. But there were other examples.

Jefferson, Adams, Jackson, Lincoln, Roosevelt and other masters of the White House were not shy in using all means to call the state governments and the courts to order. They used everything at their disposal: impeachment of judges, the threat invasion by federal troops, and even orders to arrest the servants of Themis.

Thus, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson impeached Judge Samuel Chase, Jackson ignored the ruling of Judge John Marshall, and Lincoln sent federal troops to arrest Judge Roger Taney.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt — in the 20th century! — having heard that the Supreme Court was planning to recognize certain provisions of an unconstitutional “new course,” threatened to “add to the court six new judges to castrate nine old men,” and the judicial branch found it best to quiet down.

Of course, the liberal press prefers not to discuss these examples.

Instead, over and over again they tell the story of Richard Nixon, who was forced to resign in 1974 as a result of the Watergate scandal. The media are trying to present the case from 43 years ago to make it sound as though it was the media who overthrew the White House.

Meanwhile, the security services (primarily the FBI) and Congress played a key role in Nixon’s dismissal from power, having, in the apt words of the historian Arthur Schlesinger, “came to their senses and rushed to save themselves and the Constitution.”

In the current crisis, almost all the law enforcement agencies (perhaps with the exception of the CIA) are on the side of the President.

As for the Congress, the Republican majority, however they make feel about Trump, are hardly pleased with the fact that the country is trying to set straight some of the courts located in the most liberal cities in America.

But it is not only in Congress. Conservatives across America are beginning to lose patience. The press on the right is full of unconcealed irritation at the judicial obstructionism.

Political commentator Charles Hart in the publication The Washington Times called the judges of the 9th District “legal tyrants,” while Patrick Buchanan, in his recent column, called on legislators to take advantage of Section 2 of Article 3 of the US Constitution and limit the powers of the judiciary, which, according to him, is over stepping the bounds.

Tempers are rising in the White House. And for good reason!

The media and Democratic congressmen are fabricating more and more accusations every day against presidential advisers Michael Flynn and Stephen Bannon. In addition, quite an ugly campaign has been unleashed in the press against the president’s daughter Ivanka Trump.

Protesters tried to keep Betsy DeVos, recently approved as Education Secretary, out of a public school that she was going to visit.

Meanwhile, the White House has not put a stop to the leaks, which are very unpleasant for the president, and which are probably arranged by the technical staff.

Well, two miles from the White House, at the fund named for him, Barack Obama has settled in and begun working with the NGO “Organizing for Action” with 30,000 employees who specialize in preparing mass protests.

In general, the Big Donald must feel he is surrounded by universal conspiracy and betrayal.

It is possible that this is all calculated — Trump could get angry and try to take revenge on his detractors, exceeding his authority or directly violating the law, and then the Liberals could legitimately begin a campaign for his impeachment.

But this coin has a flip side.

Donald Trump hates the political establishment and strongly believes that his actions are supported by the people who elected him. The media call him a “populist,” comparing him with authoritarian rulers of the past and present. But what if he really starts to act as a populist?

What if he spits on political etiquette and procedural formalities and decides to put an end to the constitutional crisis by addressing himself directly to the people and relying on the law enforcement agencies?

From a psychological point of view it is quite natural — he is the victim; he became the head of the country and the system met him with hostility. Destroying this system could become his biggest wish.

Of course, opponents of Trump are not enemies of the United States, at least, not most of them. But in calling his policy “un-American,” they provoke the legally elected head of state to make symmetrical charges and take a tough response.

Venezuelan economist Andres Miguel Rondon recently wrote for The Washington Post a quite remarkable article in which he argues that American liberals make the same mistakes that the political opponents of Hugo Chavez made in their day.

Rondon claims that the intransigence of the opposition, the constant threat to overthrow the president, and the demonstration of open hostility to him ended up dividing the society, and Chavez took advantage of this to convince the majority of the population that his political opponents were enemies of the country.

In fact, this is how authoritarianism starts — by identifying those who disagree with you as enemies.

Thus in the escalation of a confrontation, both sides are usually equally at fault. I would even say that, in a democratic society, the opposition has a much greater responsibility.

By abandoning civilized political debates and declaring the person who is in power illegitimate or unfairly elected, by insulting and ridiculing him, they impel him to authoritarian solutions, decisions that are justified as being the will of the voters.

So if I were in the place of American liberals, I would seriously rethink about this behavior.

Calling the 45th president “dangerous,” they may sooner or later turn out to be right, when he casts convention to the winds and takes very tough actions against them; especially because he feels in danger himself.

The darling of the left-liberal public and mainstream media, Barack Obama, too, was often angry and offended when “they didn’t understand him” — he used to say that about Congress; he replaced laws with own his decrees, and under a cloud of scandal dismissed subordinates (think of the resignations of Chuck Hagel and Tom Donilon!). But the former president was a professional politician; he grew up in the party environment and was coddled by it.

Donald Trump, from the beginning of his incredible political campaign in 2015, has felt at war with the entire political class.

And if this class does not submit to the will of the voters and does not at least stop putting a spoke in the wheels of the head of state, he will take full responsibility for the fact that if he goes down, he will take the whole US political system with him.

15-Feb-17 – Evidence of Secret Cooperation between Putin and Trump?

by Valentin Vasilescu
Translated by Alice Decker

 So far no deal has not been officially acknowledged between Vladimir Putin (who has gotten closer to Recep Erdogan and Bashar al-Assad) and Donald Trump, on cooperation regarding the encirclement and isolation of IS-held territory in Syria. However, the way recent military operations were carried out, on three different fronts in Syria, by three different actors, clearly indicates the existence of such cooperation. Trump is proving that, unlike Obama, he is able to take unilateral decisions, leaving aside the members of the EU (which are also part of NATO), which are considered partners of the US. This hypothesis is supported by Trump’s position of stepping back from NATO, an organization he considers outdated; it was created years ago, and the member countries do not pay the way they should. This is Trump’s first concrete step in establishing real coordination of Russian and American actions, aimed at destroying the Islamic State and other terrorist groups in Syria — which could lead to the lifting of economic sanctions against Russia.

Al-Bab

The Turkish military offensive (1,300 troops, 50 tanks, 15 APC), supported by 2,000 Islamic rebels from the FSA (Free Syrian Army), to capture Al-Bab, began in September 2016. The town of Al-Bab is located 40 km northeast of Aleppo and was an important component of the Islamic State’s defenses for their “capital” of Raqqa. From November 2016 until January 2017, over 5,000 Islamic State fighters rebuffed all attempts to surround Al-Bab from the east and north by the Turks and their allies.

In late December 2016, when the operation to free Aleppo city ended, Presidents Bashar al-Assad and Erdogan concluded an agreement mediated by Putin. Following this agreement, the Syrian army came to the aid of Turkish troops. The Syrian army penetrated 25 km deep, five to eight km southwest, south, southeast and east of Al-Bab, and so the city was totally surrounded. Russian and Syrian aviation provided air support to the Turkish military. Since then, the Islamic State could no longer get any reinforcements to help them hold Al-Bab city. That is how the Turkish army managed to break through the defensive lines of the Islamic State. With Al-Bab, the Islamic State lost its last territory in Aleppo governorate.

Raqqa

The SDF group (Syrian Democratic Forces) consists largely of Kurdish YPG fighters, including some members of the PKK (Kurdistan Workers’ Party), which Turkey considers to be terrorists. Even if this group is large (10,000 fighters), it is poorly armed and trained. Be that as it may, SDF, which holds a large part of northern Syria, set off an offensive operation against the Islamic State in order to conquer the city of Raqqa. The operation was planned by officers from the US Army Special Forces. Hundreds of soldiers from the US Special Forces are working as SDF instructors. At Rmelan, in territory controlled by the SDF, the American 101st Airborne has a base for helicopters and MV-22 tiltrotor aircraft used in combating the Islamic State.

The defensive dispositions around Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State, are round, and are arranged in at least four more or less concentric circles. This disposition has 30,000 fighters with 200 tanks, 200 APCs and IFVs, over 100 artillery pieces and MRLS. Islamic State has had sappers prepare the area over the last three years, with some areas mined, with counter-offensive installations equipped with tanks and US BGM-71 Tow-2 anti-tank rockets. They have a lot of underground weapons and ammunition depots that have not been detected by American aviation.

The Islamic State has operations planning officers who are as well trained as those in Western armies. They have procured hundreds of drones with which they have created an ISR structure (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) that runs missions to discover artillery sites and motorized or tanks columns, and concentrations of enemy forces. These civilian-type drones include the DJI Parrot (price US $ 1,000), Skywalker X-8 and X-UAV Talon ($200), the quadcopter DJI Phantom 3 ($600) are readily available in Europe and in the Gulf States and the US. Some drones have been modified to launch handmade Islamic State explosive devices, but they did not have the expected effects.

The Islamic State’s defensive dispositions are also based on secret tunnels through which Islamic State fighters can attack the enemy from behind, or create ambushes for supply or support columns. The Islamic State’s offensive counterattacks are extremely well prepared and highly efficient because of their high mobility, provided by thousands of small trucks armed with 12.7 mm caliber heavy machine guns.

Initially, in November 2016, the SDF made on offensive direction was north–south of Raqqa, the capital of the Islamic State. Encountering strong resistance, the SDF offensive was stopped. The SDF then tried to encircle the IS defensive positions, shifting the offensive to west–east along the north shore of Lake Assad. Both directions of SDF offensive got to within a distance of 8–15 km from Raqqa, supported by massive aerial bombardments by the anti-IS coalition led by the US. Even with that, the SDF which has only a few armored vehicles, cannot go further.

Therefore, in late January 2017, the US, with the agreement of Russia, delivered about 100 M117 Guardian 4x4s that can carry ten fighters. This light 15 tonne armored vehicle is something between a Humvee and a Stryker ICV. The M117 Guardian is armed with an M2 Browning heavy machine gun (12.7 mm caliber), and an MK 19 grenade launcher (40 mm caliber).

In February 2017, the SDF initiated the third phase of the offensive. For starters, the SDF forces and equipment are moving from north to south and parallel to the eastern border of Syria, to Deir ez-Zor. The aim of this maneuver is to block IS fighters from Mosul, in Iraq, from getting to Raqqa.   After this maneuver, SDF can attack the Islamic State defensive position to the east. It can be seen that American planners intend for the SDF to isolate Islamic State territory to the north and east.

Deir ez-Zor

The “Tamadur” Detachment is performing offensive missions to retake the city of Palmyra city from Islamic State. It is comprised of the Syrian Regiment 800 Republican Guard, two battalions of the Brigade Tiger (Syrian Special Forces), two artillery battalions from the Syrian Army, one Liwa Fatemiyoun battalion (a Shia paramilitary group in Afghanistan), one IRGC battalion (Iran’s Revolutionary Guards) and local units of the Syrian National Defense forces.

After Palmyra is liberated, the “Tamadur” Detachment should be reinforced with additional forces of at least two mechanized brigades. Its immediate task should be to get the 137Mechanized Brigade, the 104 Airborne Brigade and the 121 Artillery Regiment defending the city of Deir ez Zor from the Islamic State. This mission should be easily accomplished even though Deir ez Zor is located 188 km from Palmyra. Between the two cities there are only a few little settlements occupied by small Islamic State groups, since it is desert. If the Syrian army manages to reach Deir ez Zor, it isolates the Islamic State territory in the south after the SDF has isolated its territory to the north and east. To the west, the Islamic State is already almost entirely isolated by the Syrian army.

In southern Syria (the governorate of Daraa and the Kuneitra), the Southern Front and al-Muthanna Islamic Movement, allies of the Islamic State, have resumed fighting with the Syrian army. These groups control the Syrian border with Jordan. They consist of 38,000 fighters and they keep the Syrian Army 1st Corps blocked in the region (the latter is composed of four divisions of tanks and a mechanized division). In the governorate of Idlib in northwestern Syria, 29,000 rebels are concentrated, from al-Nusra Front (the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda) and Ahrar al-Sham. These two groups have just resumed fighting with the Syrian army in the northern governorate near Latakia.

Under these circumstances, it is pretty hard for the Syrian army to come up with two brigades to deploy to the east of Palmyra. After Aleppo was released from the Islamist rebels, the first Russian battalion took over from an operational unit of the Syrian army to maintain peace and order in the city. After that, Russia sent a second battalion of military police to Syria. Also in Aleppo, a Syrian military unit was replaced by a Russian engineer battalion in a demining mission and to remove explosive devices planted by Islamist rebels.

As Trump is applying pressure, a growing number of “moderate” Syrian rebel groups controlled by the Pentagon and CIA are deciding to respect the ceasefire brokered by Russia. We can expect that more Russian military police battalions will replace Syrian combat forces in peacekeeping missions in the localities recently liberated. That will free up several Syrian army units to be sent to the east of Palmyra for the fight against Islamic State.

14-Feb-17 – Trump = Business vs War

by Thierry Meyssan
Republished via Voltairenet
Translated by Pete Kimberley, with Alice Decker

Thierry Meyssan invites us to observe Donald Trump without judging him by the same criteria as his predecessors, but by trying to understand his own logic. He notes that the President of the United States is trying to restore peace and relaunch world commerce, but on new foundations, completely different from the current system of globalization.
To understand the Trump administration, read also —
« Anti-Donald Trump war propaganda», 7 February 2017.
« Trump enough of 11 September! », 24 January 2017.

Donald Trump inaugurates the “Strategy and Policy Forum” at the White House (3 February 2017).

Seeking to overthrow the Power that preceded him, which is still trying hang on despite him, President Trump cannot rely on the political class or on senior civil servants when putting together his administration. He has therefore sought new collaborators, entrepreneurs like himself, despite the risk of conflicting roles that this may entail.

According to the puritanical ideology which has been in fashion since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, mixing state policy with one’s own private affairs is a crime one of the reasons why a strict separation has been installed between these two worlds. On the contrary, though, during the last few centuries, politics has not been regarded from a moral standpoint but from that of efficiency. It was therefore considered normal to associate entrepreneurs with politics. Their own personal enrichment was not considered to be “corruption” when they developed it on their own, but only if they grew fat on the proceeds of the Nation.

Concerning his relations with the Great Powers, President Trump approaches Russia on the political level and China on the commercial level. He is relying on Rex Tillerson (ex-head of Exxon-Mobil), a personal friend of Vladimir Putin, as his Secretary of State — and on Stephen Schwarzman (the head of the capital investment company Blackstone), a personal friend of President Xi Jinping, as President of a new consultative organization tasked with proposing the new commercial policy — the Strategy and Policy Forum, inaugurated by President Trump on 3 February at the White House [1]. The meeting brought together 19 top-level entrepreneurs.

Contrary to previous practice, his advisors were not chosen according to whether or not they had supported the President during his electoral campaign, nor in terms of the size and influence of the businesses they managed, but rather in terms of their personal capacity as managers.

Rex Tillerson

As CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex Tillerson has created a new form of partnership with his Russian counterparts. First Gazprom, then Rosneft, authorized the United States to come and work with them, on the condition that the US would allow them to co-operate with them elsewhere. So the Russians have now invested one third of the funds for ExxonMobil’s projects in the Gulf of Mexico, while the multinational has assisted with the discovery of a gigantic field of hydrocarbons in the Kara Sea [2].

This was this shared success that earned Rex Tillerson the Medal of Friendship from the hands of President Vladimir Putin.

The Press has underscored the personal links that Tillerson has developed with the Russian President and with Igor Sechin, Putin’s right-hand man. As head of ExxonMobil, he confronted the Rockefeller family, the founders of the company. In the end, he managed to impose his point of view, and the Rockefellers have since begun to sell their shares with a view to quitting the company [3].

According to the Rockefellers, oil and gas are depletable resources which will soon be running out (Peak Oil, a theory which was popularized in the 1970s by the Club of Rome). Using these fuels expels carbon particles into the atmosphere and thus provokes global warming (a theory popularized in the 2000s by the “Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change” and Al Gore) [4]. It is time to move on to renewable sources of energy. On the contrary, according to Rex Tillerson, nothing we know so far can truly validate the idea that oil is a sort of compost made of scraps of biological matter. We are continually discovering new deposits in areas bereft of source rock, and at ever-increasing depths. Nothing proves that hydrocarbons will run out in the centuries to come. And nothing proves that carbon particles expelled into the air by human activity is really the cause of climate change. In the absence of a conclusive argument, each of the two camps has financed an intense lobbying campaign in an attempt to convince the political deciders in this debate [5].

These two camps are of course are defending diametrically opposite positions in terms of foreign policy. This is why the fight between the Rockefellers and Tillerson had a real impact on international politics. For instance, in 2005, the Rockefellers advised Qatar — whose wealth is derived from ExxonMobil — to support the Muslim Brotherhood, and then, in 2011, to invest in the war against Syria. The Emirate sank tens of billions of dollars in supporting the jihadist groups. But quite the reverse, Tillerson considered that although clandestine war might be good for imperial politics, it is not good for business. Since the defeat of the Rockefellers, Qatar has progressively been withdrawing from the war and is now dedicating its spending to the preparations for the Soccer World Cup.

In any case, for the moment the Trump administration has made no decision in terms of Russia, other than abrogating the sanctions that were levied against Russia in reaction alleged interference in the Presidential election campaign supposedly noticed by the CIA.

Stephen Schwarzman

President Trump first of all shocked the People’s Republic of China by accepting a telephone call from the President of Taiwan, despite the “One China, two systems” principle. Then he apologized to Xi and warmly wished him a “Happy New Year of the Fire Rooster.”

Simultaneously, he offered him a sumptuous gift by cancelling the Trans-Pacific Partnership. This agreement had not yet been signed, but had been conceived, just like all globalist decisions over the last fifteen years, in order to exclude China from the decision-making process.

President Trump has opened a channel for negotiation with the main commercial and financial authorities of China via the members of his Strategy and Policy Forum. A 9.3% share of Stephen Schwarzman’s company, Blackstone, has been owned since 2007 by the sovereign fund of the People’s Republic, China Investment Corp. [6],whose Director at that time, Lou Jiwei, is today the Chinese Finance Minister.

Schwarzman is a member of the Advisory Board for the School of Economics and Management at the University of Tsinghua [7]. This Council, placed under the presidency of ex-Prime Minister Zhu Rongji, brings together the most important Chinese and Western personalities. Among these are Mary Barra from General Motors, Jamie Dimon from JPMorgan Chase, Doug McMillon from Wal-Mart Stores, Elon Musk from Tesla Motors and Indra K. Nooyi from PepsiCo; they also have chairs at the White House’s new Strategy and Policy Forum.

In a previous article, I pointed out that since his meeting with Jack Ma from Alibaba (also a member of the Advisory Board at the University of Tsinghua ), Donald Trump has been considering the possibility of joining the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB). If this were to happen, the United States would cease hampering China and begin true cooperation to build the “Silk Roads,” thus rendering the conflicts in Ukraine and Syria pointless [8].

Cooperation Through Commerce

Since the breakup of the USSR, US policies have been set in accordance with the “Wolfowitz Doctrine.” To make sure their country remained the “leader,” successive administrations have not been shy to deliberately launch all sorts of wars — which have brought them to the brink of poverty [9].

Of course, this poverty did not affect everyone. We have witnessed an intra-capitalist struggle between the companies which profit from war (currently BAE, Caterpillar, KKR, LafargeHolcim, Lockeed Martin, Raytheon, etc.), and those which profit from peace.

The Trump administration intends to reboot the country’s development by dropping the ideal of being the “leader,” and instead becoming the “best.” This will have to happen quickly. It will take years to open the Silk Roads, even though their construction is already under way. Consequently, the United States does not have time to renegotiate the current major multilateral commercial Treaties. They will have to conclude bilateral agreements without delay, so that contracts can be implemented immediately.

Knowing how difficult it is to convert a war economy back into a peace-time economy, Donald Trump has associated with his Strategy and Policy Forum an entrepreneur from one of the companies which could develop as well in peace-time as it could in war-time: Jim McNerney (Boeing).

Notes

[1] “Remarks by President Trump at the Strategy and Policy Forum”, The White House, February 3rd, 2017.

[2] ““Rosneft” will have access to resources in the Gulf of Mexico”, by Juliana Gortinskaya, Translation by Deimantas Steponavicius, Оdnako (Russia), Voltaire Network, 10 January 2017.

[3] “The Rockefeller Family Fund vs. Exxon“, David Kaiser and Lee Wasserman, The New York Review of Books, December 8th, 2016.

[4] “1997-2010: Financial Ecology“, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation by Roger Lagassé, Оdnako (Russia), Voltaire Network, 7 December 2015.

[5] “Exxon Mobil Accuses the Rockefellers of a Climate Conspiracy“, John Schwartz, The New York Times, November 21st, 2016. “Rockefeller Foundations Enlist Journalism in ‘Moral’ Crusade Against ExxonMobil“, Ken Silverstein, The Observer, January 6th, 2017.

[6] Annual Report 2008, p. 40 & 56, The Blackstone Group.

[7] “The Advisory Board of Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management (2016-2017)“, Tsinghua University.

[8] “The Geopolitics of American Global Decline”, by Alfred McCoy, Tom Dispatch (USA) , Voltaire Network, 22 June 2015.

[9] The Wolfowitz Doctrine was elaborated in the Defense Policy Guidance for the Fiscal Years 1994-1999. This document has never been declassified, but its contents were revealed in “ U.S. Strategy Plan Calls For Insuring No Rivals Develop”, Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times, 8 March 1992. The daily also published large extracts from the report on page 14 : “Excerpts from Pentagon’s Plan : ‘Prevent the Re-Emergence of a New Rival’”. Extra information was revealed in “Keeping the U.S. First; Pentagon Would Preclude a Rival Superpower”, Barton Gellman, The Washington Post, 11 March 1992

13-Feb-17 World View — After Syria’s so-called ceasefire, tensions grow over the future of Bashar al-Assad

by John J. Xenakis

This morning’s key headlines:

  • Hezbollah keeps on fighting, but says it will honor Syria ceasefire
  • Tensions grow over the future of Bashar al-Assad

Hezbollah keeps on fighting, but says it will honor Syria ceasefire

On Sunday, Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, gave a major televised speech to his followers insisting that Hezbollah fully supported the ceasefire agreement that had been negotiated three weeks ago by Russia, Iran and Turkey. He said that he was responding to reports in the Arab press that there were major disagreements between Iran and Russia, and claimed that he wanted the forces of Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad to keep on fighting, and to continue to eliminate as much of the Sunni population as possible. Nasrallah contradicted those reports in his televised speech:

“We [support] an agreement that ends the bloodshed and paves way for a national reconciliation [in Syria]. Hezbollah and Iran support the ceasefire, the reconciliation, and the political settlement in Syria, while some Arab states are still backing the military option.

Hezbollah strongly supports, not just the Astana ceasefire, any ceasefire agreed upon in Syria [in order to] prevent bloodshed and pave the way for political solutions.”

Nasrallah was referring to the peace talks that were held last month in Astana, the capital city of Kazakhstan.

Nonetheless, there is currently no ceasefire. Hezbollah forces took the lead in fighting in the region called Wadi Barada in the suburbs of Damascus, under control of anti-Assad rebels who are theoretically supposed to be protected by the ceasefire agreement. According to Nasrallah, Hezbollah is continuing to fight “terrorists” in Syria.

In fact, none of the groups fighting in Syria — Iran, al-Assad, Hezbollah, Russia, Turkey — is honoring the ceasefire. The next round of peace talks is scheduled for February 20.

As I’ve been writing for years, Generational Dynamics predicts that in the approaching Clash of Civilizations world war, China, Pakistan and the Sunni Muslim countries will be on one side, and the US, Russia, India and Iran will be on the other side.  Reuters and Press TV (Tehran)

Related Articles

Tensions grow over the future of Bashar al-Assad

Reports of disagreements between Russia and Iran began with last month’s Astana peace talks because they didn’t go as plan. There was sharp disagreement over the participation of the United States in the negotiations, which Russia favored and which Iran considered to be unacceptable.

The final statement produced by the Astana talks called for a ceasefire, but no Syrians were party to the statement, as it was signed only by Turkey, Iran and Russia. The negotiators for the anti-Assad rebels wouldn’t sign it unless it called for al-Assad to step down. Al-Assad’s negotiators wouldn’t sign it because they objected to Turkey’s participation, and to Turkish forces in northern Syria where they’re fighting ISIS.

The catalyst for all these disagreements is al-Assad himself.

The anti-Assad rebels want him gone. The Turks want him gone too, but are willing to put up with him if it means an end to the Syrian war. The Russians want their military bases to lie within a stable Syria, but they’re not tied to al-Assad, and are willing to consider having him step down at some time in the near future.

But Iran is adamant that al-Assad must stay, and cannot even be replaced by someone with similar policies. According to one analysis, the cause springs from the fact that Iran is quite isolated in the region, as the only Shia Muslim state, but surrounded by Sunni Muslim and Christian states. Thus, Iran is forced to rely on non-state alliances — the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan, the Badr Organization in Iraq, Islamic Jihad in Gaza, and Shia/Alawite Bashar al-Assad in Syria — forming the “Shia Crescent.” According to this analysis, if Iran is not completely loyal to al-Assad, then all the other non-state groups in its coalition will receive a signal that they’re expendable as well, which would destabilize the entire coalition. Instead, Iran sees that it must remain completely loyal to al-Assad, and Hezbollah militias must remain in Syria to protect Iran’s interests there — including from the Turks and the Russians.

During the peace talks in Astana, Turkey demanded that Hezbollah’s militias be pulled out of Syria, and Iran rejected that demand for the reasons just given.

In fact, according to Debka, Iran is planning for a much more aggressive role for Hezbollah in Syria. As long-time readers know, I like to reference Debka’s subscriber-only newsletter (sent to me by a subscriber), which is written from Israel’s point of view, because they have military and intelligence sources that provide valuable insights. However, as usual, I have to warn readers that they definitely do get some things wrong. The information that I’m presenting here from their newsletter is not confirmed by any other sources I’ve seen, but it’s generally consistent with other reports.

According to the newsletter, Iran is developing an “unacknowledged cold war” with Russia, by taking control of assets within Syria that give it enough influence to challenge both Russia and al-Assad. Some of these steps are as follows:

  • The National Defense Force (NDF) militia has been set up to draw in the poor, jobless and forgotten elements of Syrian society by lavishing on them wealth and influence far beyond the wages of Syrian army regulars.
  • The Hezbollah militias have been given a clandestine task: Winning young Syrians over to join them instead of the Syrian army. In this way, Iran is sapping the central regime’s authority and boosting Iranian influence in Damascus.
  • Iranian agents have bought up blocks of Syrian real estate, mainly in Damascus, and has been licensed as operator of Syria’s mobile phone service.
  • Iran has increased the number of Shia holy places in Damascus and Homs in keeping with the massive displacement of Sunni populations as refugees.

According to the newsletter, Iran can use these assets as leverage in any future peace negotiations for Syria, in order to guarantee that its interests are fully protected.  The National (UAE, 28-Jan) and Reuters (25-Jan) and Middle East Eye and Debka

12-Feb-17 – Russia Has Had To Resume Production of the TU-160 Strategic Bomber

By Valentin Vasilescu

Translated from French by Alice Decker

The deployment of heavy military equipment and US ballistic missiles at the Russian border forced Russia to find new solutions to defend itself.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree to restart the TU-160 bomber production line at the Tupolev aircraft factory in Kazan. This decision is intended to narrow the gap between the United States and Russia in terms of the number of strategic bombers. The United States has 159 strategic bombers (62 B-1Bs, 78 of the B-52 H, and 19 B-2s), while Russia has only 70 (55 Tu-95s and 15 Tu-160s). In addition, the Pentagon has been proposing to redeploy strategic nuclear bombers and medium-range ballistic missiles in Europe and Asia.

A B-2 Spirit positioning for refueling by a KC-135 Stratotanker over the Pacific, May 30, 2006. (US Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Bennie J. Davis III)
 Thirty-five units of the Tupolev Tu-160 were built and they entered service with the Soviet Army in 1987. The bomber has a maximum take-off weight of 275 t and can carry on board a 40 t cargo: guided bombs of different calibers and 24 cruise missiles. The Tu-160 has a variable geometry wing, a maximum speed of 2230 kilometers per hour (Mach 2) and a maximum range of 13900 kilometers (15 hours of continuous flight).

Russia is expected to produce just over 50 new, modernized Tu-160 aircraft. These new aircraft will be added to the Tu-160 bomber fleet inherited from the USSR after its collapse; those planes are also being modernized.

 

To upgrade the existing 15 Tu-160 bombers, Russia set out to replace all Soviet-era equipment with modern systems. This modernization took place in two phases. In the first phase, completed in 2008, the navigation systems were replaced (GPS equipment was installed, based on the Russian GLONASS network) and new multifunctional weapons systems were installed that can be used for nuclear weapons and for newly emerging conventional weapons (like the Raduga NPO Kh-555, Kh-101 and laser-guided bombs).

In the second phase, the engines are being repaired and replaced, and the on-board radar units and the communication system are replaced, and parts of the liner with composite panels that give a higher degree of radar invisibility. The first flight of a Tu-160M ​​aircraft fully equipped with these new systems took place in November 2014. The upgrades are expected to be completed by 2019. Under the new conditions, the modernization of the existing equipment will go forward in parallel with the construction of new aircraft.

It is not easy to resume production of the Tu-160 bombers, as it is closely linked to the profitability of the Kuznetsov production line in Samara, which produces the four NK-32 engines for the aircraft. The new NK-32 engine weighs 24,900 kgf and has a lower specific fuel consumption, which extends the distance traveled without in-flight refueling to 16,000 km. By contrast, the General Electric F101-GE-102 engines that equip the US supersonic strategic B-1B bombers only weigh 13800 kgf each, delivering a maximum speed of 1,335 km / h.

Kuznetsov, the engine manufacturer, only expects to see a profit with an annual order of thirty to forty engines. That is why the Russian Ministry of Defense is obliged to finance the manufacture of at least fifty Tu-160 aircraft updated within 5–6 years. According to General Colonel Viktor Bondarev, Commander-in-Chief of the Aerospace Forces, resuming production of the Tu-160 will not affect the design of the fifth-generation bomber, PAK DA, which is to be led by Tupolev, and whose first flight is scheduled for 2019. The PAK DA replaces the fleet of the 55 strategic TU-95 turboprop bombers.

 

Patrol flights in international airspace with the Tu-160s were resumed in 2007 after being suspended for 15 years at the request of Washington. On June 10, 2010, two Tu-160 bombers departed from Engels Air Force Base, setting the world record of continuous flight endurance for 23 hours. Earlier in 2009, the Tu-160 had flown 21 hours without interruption. The bombers traveled 18,000 km, with two in-flight refuelings, around the Russian borders as well as over the Arctic Ocean and the Pacific.

11-Feb-17 – The New MiG 35 Fighter Jet Performs Like the F-16 C / D

by Valentin Vasilescu

Translated by Alice Decker

On January 26, 2017, the Russian Air Force began testing a pre-production batch of the new MiG-35 aircraft, which is a derivative of the MiG-29. The MiG-35 prototype was first flown in 2007; now the aircraft has been totally changed and equipped with new avionics. The earlier MiG-29 is a light aircraft produced by the Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG (“RAC MiG,” originally the Mikoyan and Gurevich Design Bureau), with outstanding aerodynamic qualities and the highest rate of climb of any multirole aircraft (330 m / s). The MiG-29 entered service in 1982. There have been 1,600 units produced. In military combat, the MiG-29 was surpassed by the F-15 and F-16 due to its inferior avionics system. The reason for that was that until 2004, Russia lacked the funds necessary for research in the avionics field in order to improve and replace the old equipment.

Unlike RAC MiG, Lockheed preferred to make continual improvements to the F-16, especially in avionics, instead of designing another 4th++ generation aircraft. Since 1978, they built 4,500 of the planes, in all the models: F-16A/B (Block 1/5/10/15/20) and F-16C / D (Block 25/30/32 / 40/42/50/52), with the F-16E/F (Block 60) being the latest version — it features much of the equipment on the 5th generation F-35 aircraft. The US Air Force has 900 F-16s.

To get the performance of the MiG-29 close to that of the F-16, RAC MiG’s Sokol aircraft factory in Nizhny Novgorod (400 km east of Moscow) created upgraded models such as the MiG-29M / M2, MiG 29 SMT and MiG 29 K / KUB (carrier-borne). The MiG-35 is the latest version of the MiG-29 and is not intended as an interceptor jet, as it is inferior to the F-22, F-35 and F-15. With the MiG-35 C, the Russians are aiming to reduce the cost of flying by 2.5 times, increase the MiG-29’s ability to strike ground targets, and to defend themselves from 4th++  generation aircraft such as the F-16 C / D, Saab Gripen, Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon and the F-18C / D.

Upgrades

The MiG-29’s cabin has been redesigned. The MiG-35 has an EFIS (Electronic Flight Instrument System) containing three MFD (multi-function display) color LCDs that display navigation data as well as readings on the tactical situation, motor control, fuel, and special equipment. Additionally, it has HMTDS (Helmet-Mounted Target Designation Systems) equipment and it has HUD (Head-Up Display) displays on the windshield. It uses a fly-by-wire flight control system with three channels. The MiG-35 communication system includes two new radio stations, one of them serving as a secret data line as well. The data line transmits, via satellite, information from ground-based and ship-based command and control points, and from Airborne Warning and Control System aircraft (AWACS / AEW). This gives the MiG-35 additional and reliable information about the situation in the air, which increases the likelihood of fulfilling its mission.

The two RD-33 TVN engines have increased thrust at 9,000 kg. each. Unlike the MiG-29, the MiG-35’s engines were fitted with BARK (digital monitoring and control systems), have a low specific consumption, do not emit smoke and have a very small infrared footprint. The RD-33 TVN engines have vectored thrust nozzles that enable it to move up–down and left–right by 15–30 degrees. These enhancements “enabled the MiG-35 to fly at very low speeds without angle-of-attack limitations, and ensured that it will also remain controllable in zero-speed and ‘negative-speed’ (tail-forward) areas for sustained periods.”[1] Vectored thrust allows execution of brusque maneuvers with large overloads to avoid air-to-air or ground-to-air missiles. In addition, there are fuel tanks fitted dorsally (behind the cockpit) and where the wings meet the fuselage. The internal fuel capacity was increased to 950 liters, increasing the normal flight range to 2,000 km.

Zhuk-AE radar

The main source of ground and aerial data is the Zhuk-AE radar. An AESA radar (active electronically scanned array), it can spot air targets at a distance of 160 km, and at 300 km for surface ships. The radar can track 30 targets simultaneously and attack 6 of them. Radars of the earlier type, PESA (passive electronically scanned array), had a cone-shaped antenna rotated 360 degrees to direct the radar waves into a narrower beam. The antenna panel of the AESA radar on the MiG-35 is composed of 1,000–2,000 TR modules (transceivers). The modules are arranged in the nose, wing or fuselage, and operate independently of each other. The radar beam is digitally modeled and shaped into a very narrow delineated space by a computer. The computer selects the power of radiation emitted by each TR module in a few millionths of a second. In addition, each TR module can be programmed to operate either only as a transmitter or only as a receiver, running different functions in parallel. Two CIP computers (Common Integrated Processor) help the radar.

Optoelectronic equipment

The MiG-35 has one targeting/navigational system combining inertial, radio, and GPS equipment. The BINS-SP2 inertial navigation equipment is produced by KRET in cooperation with SAGEM Defense-France and is based on three laser gyros and three quartz accelerometers. This equipment is connected to the subsystem for low visibility conditions and for directing weapons. On America’s 5th generation F-22 and F-35 planes, the navigation equipment and precision weapons guidance systems are no longer installed on snap mounting points; the MiG-35 copies the 5th generation solution and these devices are incorporated into the plane. An OLS-35 fire control system of the IRST type (infrared search and track) is mounted in the nose and is used in air combat. OLS-35 can locate an aircraft after discovering a heat emission at 50 km in the “front hemisphere” and at 90 km “facing up to rear hemisphere.” The MiG-35 is equipped with a FLIR (forward-looking infrared) internal pod mounted under the right engine of the plane. This is for night-time navigation and it displays an image of the terrain being overflown, allowing identification of targets. The FLIR pod also provides autonomous guidance of precision munitions, as in American military aircraft. The FLIR pod has a laser rangefinder to measure the distance to the target (up to 20–30 km) and a laser projector for guiding bombs and missiles.

Having moved away from using mounting points for the optoelectronic equipment, the MiG-35 has increased the number of hard mounts from 6 to 9, with the maximum payload increasing from 4,800 to 7,000 kg.

Radio-electronic Battle Equipment

The EW Equipment (Electronic Warfare) comprises a broadband warning radar receiver with an antenna arranged over the entire surface of the wings and fuselage. The MiG-35 has MAWS-type (missile approach warning system) optical sensors, in the ultraviolet spectrum, mounted on the fuselage, tail and wings, which warn the pilot of any approaching air-to-air missile. The EW system also can detect the launching of MANPADS (man-portable air-defense system) or a short range surface-to-air system (10 km), a medium- or long-range surface-to-air system (30–50 km). The EW microprocessor estimates the time to impact of enemy missiles and it controls the active or passive electronic countermeasures equipment. The EW equipment is supported by the Italian firm Elettronica (it incorporates the ELT / 568-V2 device, the “self-protection jammer for self-defense from radar controlled anti-aircraft artillery”).

The MiG-35 testing is to be completed in 2018, with the first batch of 37 MiG-35s being delivered to the Russian military in 2019. The Russian Air Force operates about 250 MiG-29s and plans to replace them with 170 MiG-35s. The first foreign order for the MiG-35 is from Egypt, who signed a contract in 2015 for the purchase of 50 MiG-35 planes, worth $ 2 billion.

[1] MiG-35 Fulcrum-F Multirole Fighter, Russia.

9-Feb-17 – Vladimir Putin Made Russia Great Again

Valentin Vasilescu

Translated by Alice Decker

To former President Barack Obama, Russia was the second greatest threat in the world after the Ebola virus. Obama returned to the tough foreign policy directed against Russia during the Cold War, the policy that resulted in the dissolution of the USSR and the transformation of most of the socialist States into members of NATO and the European Union. Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election of 2016 was based on the slogan “Make America Great Again!” It remains to be seen whether Trump will fulfill this promise; what we do know is that Vladimir Putin was the president who “made Russia great again.” Below I attempt to explain how the socialist system was largely eliminated worldwide and what made possible Russia’s miraculous comeback as a member of the global elite.

The Action Plan for Destroying Socialism Around the World

In a relatively short time, socialism had managed to take over as the economic and political system for 26% of the globe. Socialist states produced 40% of world industrial output. Immediately after the US was defeated in the Vietnam War, there was the crisis of the 70s. The crisis was generated by rising oil prices that frightened the US administration and the developed capitalist countries.

Western economists could find no viable long-term solution to the crisis. Under Gerald Ford’s administration, they began to look for ways to shift the problem outside the US and the developed capitalist countries, onto the economies outside their borders. The American establishment realized that the only way to save capitalism from its greatest crisis was to destroy socialism around the world.

The Action Plan established four goals for the secret war against the socialist economic system.

  1. To win back the third world and restore capitalist neo-colonial domination.
  2. To reconfigure the marketplace by expelling socialist states.
  3. To transform the former socialist states into mere markets for the industrial products of the developed capitalist countries.
  4. To seize control of the principal sources of energy — the oil, natural gas, and nuclear energy — of socialist states.

Enter Vladimir Putin

The antidote came from none other than Russia in the person of the “Siloviki.” The Siloviki are a group of highly skilled and patriotic leaders from the power structures of the former Soviet Union (the military services, the military-industrial complex). They began to play a role in 1999 with the appointment of Vladimir Putin as prime minister and then president of Russia. The aim of the Siloviki was to bring back to Russia the mineral resources that the Yeltsin government had given to foreigners. The Siloviki banded together in 1989 as a working group to evaluate the role and place of Russia in relation to the international situation as far as it could be foreseen for the next three decades; that is, the imminent dismembering of the USSR and the integration of former Soviet satellites into EU and NATO. Based on their assessments, the Siloviki established a list of priorities for Russia’s survival.

The first priority had to do with maintaining and improving the strategic nuclear arsenal as a deterrent against the United States, especially in the design and construction of space vehicles. The military-industrial complex was entrusted with responsibility for achieving this goal. Russia has managed to maintain a nuclear arsenal, with strategic parity with the United States. Russia has 367 ground-based ICBMs (Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles), armed with 1,248multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRV). The missiles are kept in silos or on mobile platforms on truck chassis and trains. Add to this the 13 Russian strategic submarines, armed with nuclear missiles that have 591 MIRVs. The Russians have 76 strategic bombers armed with cruise missiles (with a range of 5,500 km), armed with 884 nuclear warheads.

The new types of Russian ICBMs neutralize all components of the ABM shield (Anti Ballistic Missile). Third-generation anti-ABM shield systems are launched in-flight. They produce false targets (the Terek system) in the IR (Infrared) spectrum, in the form of plasma, which reproduces the thermal “footprint” of MIRVs re-entering the atmosphere. Terek is programmed to operate when the ballistic missiles get within range of a ballistic battery. The American ABM missiles automatically follow these false targets, called thermal traps. Russian ballistic missiles also have high power microwave transmitters (Atropus equipment). This “blinds” the infrared and radar detection and tracking systems of the SM-3 Block IB interceptors that are already in space. #

Germany, the drive belt to Putin’s Russia

The Silovikis considered making good use of the network of gas pipelines to be the second priority. Any attempt to replace or compete with the pipeline that had supplied Europe in the Soviet era had to be blocked.

The third priority was related to the second, and it required choosing a partner state, one that was highly developed in economic terms, in the immediate vicinity of Russia. This partnership has allowed Russia to modernize its economy, especially those sectors that were not competitive. In exchange, the Siloviki decided to support that country in becoming the locomotive of Europe, opening up to it Russia’s entire market. The state that the Siloviki chose in 1989 was Germany, which became Russia’s partner. Germany was the only country brought in to invest in Russia’s gas transport and supply pipelines in Europe. The Siloviki put pressure on England and France to get them to accept the reunification of the two Germanys, and the Siloviki offered a decisive role in this strategic game to Lieutenant Colonel Vladimir Putin, former head of the KGB intelligence agency in East Germany.

Instead of imports, Russia preferred to encourage the Russian state firms to form “joint ventures” with foreign companies in order to convince them to relocate production facilities to Russian territory. Over 6,000 German companies are operating in Russia, providing at least 300,000 jobs to their subcontractors in Germany. Germany has been investing an average of € 20 billion per year in Russia since 1992. And the three packages of economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU do not affect the Western companies that make products in Russia for Russians.

The German concern Siemens entered the Russian market by building plants for the liquefaction and re-gasifying of natural gas for the benefit of the Russian companies Gazprom and Transneft. Joe Kaiser, CEO of Siemens, has shared a long friendship with the former Social Democrat premier Gerhard Schroeder, who serves on the board of Gazprom. Siemens, with its pumping equipment, is one of the most important links for the transport and export of Russian liquefied gas (LNG). The gas is extracted in the Arctic and transported to ports, where it is loaded onto LNG tanker vessels to the beneficiaries. Siemens manufactures Permasyn silent electric motors and AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) generators cells in Russia. Both are used in Russia’s modern attack submarines, as well as the latest versions of German submarines produced by ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Siemens has over 10,000 employees in its factories in the Ural Mountains of Russia, and it also provides railroad cars. Last year, sales reached € 5 billion.

In Russia, 2.78 million cars are sold annually, about the same as in Germany (which is considered the strongest market in Europe). After a sizeable number of shares in Renault-Nissan were purchased by RT-Auto (a division of the state corporation Rostec), the Russians made substantial investments in Daimler via the company OAO KamAZ. One reason is Daimler’s truck division, the world’s largest. From 2011 to today, Russia’s Kamaz trucks have won all three places on the podium in the Paris–Dakar rally, thanks to the same innovations made by the Mercedes-Benz specialists at Daimler.

Another result of collaborating with Daimler is the creation of the subsidiary Mercedes Benz–Rus ZAO, which has been producing and assembling Mercedes-Benz limousines and Sprinter vans (27% of Daimler’s sales in this class) for 10 years in Russia. But the Russian vehicles use the engine design, plant equipment and production solutions of German engineers from Daimler.

This gave rise to new military vehicles: the GAZ-2975 Tigr, the VPK-3927 Volk (similar to the US HMMWV) and the URAL-63099 MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected). The French group Thales (formerly Thomson CSF) specializing in opto-electronics works for Gazprom, providing security surveillance of all oil fields and production sites in Russia, using the most advanced technology. Thales provides the same for Lukoil’s giant installations worldwide.

BRICS replaces the former COMECON (“Council for Mutual Economic Assistance”)

Putin was aware that the Americans’ technological advantage over the rest of the world had increased exponentially due to the dismembering of the USSR, the collapse of the Communist bloc in Europe and the economic downturn that followed from 1989 to 2004. At the same time, India and China were advancing, such that they were becoming a new center of the world, threatening to supplant America.

In 2006, Putin launched a common market for emerging countries called BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa). Like the former “Council for Mutual Economic Assistance” of the Eastern Bloc, BRICS is outside the US sphere of dominance and those who support it. This market comprises 50% of the world’s natural resources and population. BRICS has enabled Russia to handle the economic sanctions imposed by the United States and the European Union.

 

10-Feb-17 – Mission Not Accomplished for the “Admiral Kuznetsov” Pilot training for carrier-based aircraft remains a problem

Alexei Mikhailov

Translated by Alice Decker

The Russian Navy’s heavy aircraft carrier, the “Admiral Kuznetsov,” has completed its first-ever combat campaign off the shores of Syria, using carrier-based aircraft against terrorist targets. There are at least two reasons to sum up the results.

On January 6, the Chief of Staff, Army General Valery Gerasimov, announced that Russia is starting to reduce its groups in Syria. The first to leave the conflict zone is the “Admiral Kuznetsov” with the battle ships and support vessels of the Northern Fleet. January 15, when the carrier was still in the Eastern Mediterranean, marked three months from the beginning of the campaign.

Nothing has been officially reported on the composition of cruiser’s air wing. However, the aircraft and helicopters on board could be counted in the videos taken by Russian journalists and Western (for the most part military) operators.

Wing lightweight structure

As predicted by “VPK” (in an article titled “MiG-plus”), the “Kuznetsov” came into the campaign with a very lightweight wing structure. It carried on board ten Su-33s from the “old” 279th Independent Shipborne Fighter Aviation Regiment (OKIAP) of the Northern Fleet (eight of them have been upgraded and are capable of striking targets on land and at sea) and only four aircraft from the newly created 100th OKIAP — three MiG-29KRs and one MiG-29KUBR fighter jet, as well as 18 different types of helicopters. According to unconfirmed official data, there were only three combat MiGs as the fourth one belonged to the “MiG” corporation and was undergoing tests. Thus, it was confirmed that the 100th OKIAP “sitting” in Yeisk actually turned out to be unprepared for the campaign.

“On the ship, there is a sort of ‘black box’. This is the ‘Topaz-M’ system, and the state commission should study what it recorded.”

This brings to mind the officials who promised the Minister of Defense that the aircraft testing and training complex being built in Yeisk would be ready by the end of 2016. It isn’t done even now. At the same time the similar complex in Crimean Saki was subjected to unfair attention. Did anyone bother to prepare the pilots of the 100th OKIAP, even while the carrier was on its way to Syria? After all, they could fly aboard later, via the tried and true route over the Caspian Sea, Iran and Iraq.

The 279th OKIAP jets arrived on the aircraft carrier in July, after training at the complex in Saki. There, according to official data, only seven pilots practiced the essential skills in the MiGs, including three combatants that were not soldiers. Evil tongues say that these were the regiment commander and two squadron leaders, and the rest were civilian test pilots from the “MiG” Corporation and naval aviation military personnel. The question is, why was the 100th OKIAP in Yeisk at this time?

On October 15, the ship strike group (IBM) comprised of the Northern Fleet’s aircraft carrier “Peter the Great,” the heavy aircraft carrier “Admiral Kuznetsov,” two large anti-submarine ships, and supply vessels went to sea. Logically, they should have been accompanied by one or two multi-purpose nuclear submarines, but those are never mentioned, as a rule.

According to the Norwegian Navy, Su-33 training flights from onboard the aircraft carrier already began on October 18 over the northeastern part of the Atlantic. The Russian side, in full compliance with international regulations, announced that flight exercises would be held over international waters of the Atlantic, near the southwest tip of Norway, on October 19–21. On October 21, the naval strike group entered the English Channel, during which time one of the two fighters was always on duty, on the deck of the aircraft carrier. By October 27, the Northern Fleet ships passed Gibraltar and entered the Mediterranean Sea. From October 27 to 29, the strike group replenished all their supplies from the support vessels.

On November 1, the Su-33 and MiG-29KR aircraft aboard the carrier resumed flights, this time over the Mediterranean Sea. All the Russian actions were carried out under the watchful eyes of maritime patrol aircraft from NATO bases and NATO ships.

The countries concerned were informed in advance that training flights were planned for November 9, southeast of the island of Rhodes. The notice stated that the flights of the Russian Naval aircraft would take place within the stated coordinates in the Greek air traffic control zone (ATC), over international waters of the Eastern Mediterranean, and in connection with this, six civil aviation routes would be changed. The combat aircraft were to be in constant contact with the Greek ATC centers and were to fly with their transponders enabled, the document specifies. Similar warnings were issued for the periods from 10 to 15 and from 17 to 22 November.

On November 9, the Russian Defense Ministry reported that a Dutch diesel-electric submarine, presumably “Walrus” class, had tried to follow the strike group. On November 10, according to the Pentagon, the Russian carrier-based aircraft began to make familiarization flights over Syrian territory, which meant that in the future they would be used in combat against terrorist organization targets. By this time the battle for East Aleppo was in full swing.

The losses were not military but from ineptitude

On November 14, the Russian Ministry of Defense acknowledged the loss of the MiG-29KR. According to official data, it crashed into the sea a few miles from the aircraft carrier while preparing to land. The pilot ejected and was picked up by a helicopter search and rescue service. According to one unofficial version, the fighter simply ran out of fuel while they were deciding where it should land; at the time, it could have been sent to the “Hmeymim” air base. In the end, a fully functional plane was sunk.

On November 15, the Minister of Defense announced that the carrier-based Su-33 had begun flying combat missions. True, he did not specify on which day it began. Then the War Department distributed a video with shots of planes taking off from the deck of the aircraft carrier with combat loads and returning minus the ammunition. At the same time, the frigate “Admiral Grigorovich” from the Black Sea Fleet launched “Caliber-NK” cruise missiles to strike terrorist targets. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Su-33s destroyed large groups of “Dzhebhat Fatah al-Sham” fighters (formerly “Dzhebhat en-Nusra,” banned in Russia) in the province of Idlib.

On November 26, Western media reported that eight Su-33s and two MiG-29KR were located at the “Hmeymim” air base. The fact that only two of the MiGs were there makes one think that something must have been wrong with the plane that was still onboard the ship. According to VPK’s source, it may have been disabled while landing on the deck — before the incident on 14 November.

On December 4, the latest reconnaissance and attack helicopters, the Ka-52K “Katran” (previously destined for the “Mistral”) were shown working from the aircraft carrier. According to media estimates, there were four of them on board.

The next day, the Ministry of Defense reported that one of the Su-33s had crashed in the sea while landing on the aircraft carrier. The reason, according to the agency, was a broken cable. It is known, however, that for some time now the ship has had a sort of “black box” that controls the brake mechanisms — the “Topaz-M” system. The state commission will have to examine its recordings. In addition, there are video recordings of each takeoff and landing. Because there is another version: the pilot simply did not get on the right course. The “Topaz-M” and the objective video recording will decide who is right.

In any case, the loss of two types of aircraft during practice meant no more flights until they can determine the causes of what happened.

All these points will be examined by the relevant Commission of the Defense Ministry.

Tripped Up During Training 

The “Admiral Kuznetsov” has not quite lived up to its mission. Despite official reports, the 100th OKIAP was not ready to accomplish its assigned task, and that’s not the fault of the regimental command. It’s legitimate to ask, will anyone be held responsible?

According to official information from the Ministry of Defense, in two months of fighting in this campaign, the Admiral Kuznetsov’s naval aviation pilots carried out 420 sorties, 117 of them at night. This means (based on the approximate composition of the air wing), that each MiG and Sukhoi (if we’re opnly talking about those) made 30 to 40 sorties. It has not been specified how many times they took off from the deck of the aircraft carrier and how many times from the “Hmeymim” airbase where they also worked.

It is unclear whether the helicopters are included in these slippery statistics or only the planes. Most likely the latter, since 1252 terrorist targets were destroyed, which roughly corresponds to the amount of ammunition these types of aircraft carry that can work on ground targets. Were the Americans right when they reported (only) 152 sorties operated from the deck?

In any case, the campaign from the aircraft carrier has had a positive effect. The carrier-based pilots received a baptism by fire. For the first time, they performed the operation of loading ammunition at sea.

It is expected that on its return to Severomorsk, the aircraft carrier will be sent in for repairs and upgrades. But when and where? The first bidder to carry out the works was the United Shipbuilding Corporation. The “Admiral Kuznetsov” was preparing for a long stay at her 35th Shipyard (an affiliate of the “Zvezdochka” Shipyard). By May, Murmansk promises to fit out a dock capable of taking the aircraft carrier. But a “market” competitor to USC suddenly appeared — the 82nd Shipyard. Their distinct advantage is the presence of a PD-50 floating dock (one of the largest floating docks in the world), designed just for the “Admiral Kuznetsov” class ships. So the competition for the contract is serious.

Let’s hope that the terms of the Defense Ministry’s tender call for competitive bids. In any case, the bureaucratic procedures take time, and anyway the work itself is expected to take two years. This means that the carrier will not be sailing again soon and the pilots of the 100th OKIAP will be on their own. // Waiting to fly…   Although they should still have been, and could have been, in the skies over Syria.

There are several issues. Was the promise fulfilled, to put into operation a land-based training program in Yeisk? If not — where are the carrier-based pilots to train? And how long will the training ground in Saki be on hold, which the Russian Navy Aviation command plans to modernize in 2017–2018? 2017 has already begun, and no committee has shown up at the site to define the scope of work, and no executors have been appointed to spell out where the funding is going to come from.

But the United Shipbuilding Corporation could be a responsible contractor; it is quite capable of this task. And what can be said, if Russia has had the training complex in Crimea for nearly three years and has not invested a dime 9according to Alexander Sannikov, a veteran of the complex)? As long as the training area was in Ukrainian hands, this situation was understandable. But now? Is this what we were waiting for?

Alexei Mikhailov

Published in issue number 3 (667) of 25 January 2017

Details: http://vpk-news.ru/articles/34857