Guaido’s ‘envoy’ set to meet Pentagon officials to plan ways of bringing ‘democracy’ to Venezuela

A representative of the Venezuelan opposition leader in the US will meet members of the Southern Command next week to discuss strategy for regime change in the Latin American country, Juan Guaido has confirmed.

“The meeting will be held on Monday,” the self-proclaimed interim president said at a press conference on Tuesday. “I understand it will be at the State Department, and our ambassador will tell us what is the result of that meeting.”

El presidente encargado de Venezuela, , aseguró que la reunión con el Comando Sur está avanzando e informó que el próximo lunes se estarían dando resultados sobre la conversación. por:

Over the weekend, Guaido’s ‘envoy’ to the US, Carlos Vecchio, sent a letter addressed to US Adm. Craig S. Faller of SOUTHCOM requesting a “meeting with a technical delegation to advance in strategic and operational planning” in order to “restore democracy” in Venezuela.

: following instructions of Interim President , we officially requested the a meeting with a technical delegation to advance in strategic and operational planning with the priority goal of stopping our people's suffering and restoring democracy.

Just prior to the opposition’s call for US military assistance, Faller stated that he “looks forward” to discussing how the US can “support the future role” of dissidents to “restore constitutional order.”

When invited by & the legitimate gov't of , I look forward to discussing how we can support the future role of those leaders who make the right decision, put the Venezuela people first & restore constitutional order. We stand ready!

The government of Nicolas Maduro, which has long accused the US of stopping at nothing to bring about a regime change, slammed Guaido for his efforts to entice foreign troops into a breach of Venezuela’s sovereignty.

“We reject the letter by one of the coup leaders asking for military intervention in Venezuela, on behalf of a group of coup plotters who carry out terrorist activities to create confusion and destabilize our homeland,” Vice President Delcy Rodriguez noted earlier this week.

Also on rt.com Guaido asks US military for meeting to plan ‘restoring democracy’ in Venezuela...

The president of the National Assembly, which has no real power in Venezuela, challenged Maduro’s seat in January. Despite bold, flashy statements that Venezuelans are ready to rise up, the US-backed coup has so far failed to secure the support of the wider public and the military, who continue to stay loyal to the Bolivarian ideals. Yet Washington, which has repeatedly stated that “all options remain on the table,” is firmly committed to “restoring democracy” in Venezuela by bringing the opposition leader to power.

Also on rt.com Guaido tells supporters he wants ‘direct relationship’ with Pentagon

  • Published in World

Welcome to coup university: A Pentagon scholar’s guide to overthrowing governments

With the Venezuela crisis making regime change once again the talk of the town in Washington, the US Special Operations Command has published a paper chronicling the highs and lows of seven decades of foreign interference.

The 250-page study, entitled “Support to Resistance: Strategic Purpose and Effectiveness,” was penned by Army Special Forces veteran Will Irwin, and published by the Joint Special Operations University, where Irwin is a resident senior fellow.

Few nations have universities dedicated to the art of the coup, but few nations have a history of foreign intervention quite like the US. Since the end of World War II, the United States has brought its military might to bear on dozens of countries and sponsored scores of insurgencies and regime change operations worldwide. Irwin was first faced with the task of whittling down the list to something manageable.

Also on rt.com Hawks at the wheel: Bolton and Pompeo ‘steering US towards confrontation everywhere’...

After discounting coups that involved no resistance movements – like those in Iran in 1953 and Guatemala in 1954 – as well as those that involved actions against non-state actors, the researcher was left with 47 cases. Recent US proxy wars, like those in Syria, Ukraine and Libya, were also discounted.

Sponsoring foreign resistance movements transcends partisan divisions. “Even presidents who, prior to their election, looked upon such activity with disfavor, found themselves compelled to use it after taking office,” Irwin wrote glowingly.

What’s the magic formula?

So everybody does it, but what makes a successful coup a successful coup? To the untrained observer, the US’s willingness to get into bed with shady ‘resistance’ fighters seems to be marked by a persistent inability to learn from the past.

Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan both armed the Afghan mujahedin in their fight against the Soviets in the 1980s, only for US forces would be shot at with the same weapons just two decades later. That experience didn’t deter Barack Obama from arming hand-selected ‘moderate rebels’ in Syria just five years ago. Shockingly, many of these weapons ended up in the hands of Al-Nusra and Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) jihadists.

Irwin identifies mixed results. Of the 47 cases studied, 23 were deemed successful and another 20 failures. Two were marked as “partially successful,” and another two “inconclusive.” Attempts to outright overthrow governments failed 71 percent of the time, as was the case for the CIA’s ill-fated ‘Bay of Pigs’ invasion of Cuba.

Attempts to strong-arm foreign governments into toeing the line were more successful, working in three-quarters of instances – as was the case when the Carter and Reagan administrations sponsored Contra rebels in Nicaragua in the 1980s, as a means of coercing the country’s communist-leaning government into halting arms shipments to neighboring El Salvador.

"Disruptive” actions – like the failed parachuting of anti-communist guerillas into Yugoslavia in 1948 to stir up resistance – failed just less than half the time. In 1948, the Chetnik guerillas literally fell into the hands of the Yugoslav authorities, who were waiting at the drop zone with weapons drawn.

No matter what the purpose of the action, Irwin found that operations carried out “under wartime conditions” were twice as successful as those carried out in peacetime. Support to nonviolent civil resistance was also more likely to succeed, but that too was "most effective when conducted in direct support of a military campaign,” rather than as a standalone operation.

Long term consequences
 

For Irwin, the success or failure of a foreign intervention was judged on one simple criterion: Did it achieve the strategic objectives the US set out to achieve? However, as shown in the Afghanistan example mentioned above, short-term victory can have long-term consequences. The defeat of the Soviets led to the rise of a US-armed and battle-tested mujahedin, many of whose members would later join Al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Irwin admits this seemingly obvious contradiction, writing that intervention and regime change “most often addresses immediate issues and short-term rather than longer-term interests.”

Fast forwarding to the present day, what lessons can be learned from Irwin’s how-to manual? The United States is currently providing political support to opposition leader Juan Guaido in Venezuela. Under Irwin’s definitions, Washington is sponsoring (for the most part) non-violent resistance during peacetime, an approach more successful than outright guerilla warfare, but less effective than if it were carried out alongside a military attack.

Also on rt.com Guaido tells supporters he wants ‘direct relationship’ with Pentagon...

Not that military action doesn’t have its supporters. State Secretary Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, and President Donald Trump have all repeatedly uttered the phrase “all options are on the table” when it comes to dethroning Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro.

With soft support for Guaido thus far failing to dislodge Maduro from power, and with Washington increasingly agitated at Moscow for its support for Maduro’s regime, there are plenty of opportunities for things to escalate in Venezuela.

However, the hawks in Washington would do well to remember the abiding lesson from 'coup university': Success is never guaranteed, and short-term victory comes with long-term consequences.

  • Published in World

Pentagon’s top secret ‘ninja bomb’ revealed, Twitter asks if it’s really necessary

The CIA and Pentagon have apparently found a new solution to their high civilian casualty rates from drone strikes – a targeted ‘ninja bomb’ which doesn’t explode. Twitter, however, is far from convinced.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that the top secret Hellfire R9X has no explosive warhead, with the US military opting instead for a payload of 100lbs of metal in the form of six blades that deploy from the body of the missile moments before impact, shredding everything in the immediate area, and bringing a whole new meaning to the phrase ‘surgical strike.’

Drones used missiles with knife warhead to take out single terrorist targets

@Charles_Lister NEW - @WSJ confirms the @CIA & @DeptofDefense have a new "secret" missile - the R9X, or "flying Ginsu" - which kills a selected target with 6 blades, but no explosive payload.

-- "To the targeted person, it's as if a speeding anvil fell from the sky."https://www.wsj.com/articles/secret-u-s-missile-aims-to-kill-only-terrorists-not-nearby-civilians-11557403411 

The laser-guided sword has reportedly been deployed on at least six occasions to target Al-Qaeda and Taliban leaders who used women and children as civilian human shields, including a January 2019 US Air Force strike against Jamal al-Badawi, the mastermind behind the USS Cole bombing that killed 17 sailors and wounded at least 40, and a 2017 CIA strike against Al-Qaeda leader Ahmad Hasan Abu Khayr al-Masri.

The R9X was also considered as a plan B for killing Osama bin Laden.

Also on rt.com ‘We did not expect the world to be silent’: US continuing to kill civilians with impunity...

Dubbed the “the flying Ginsu,” after a brand of knives sold via TV commercials in the US in the 70s and 80s, the weapon was reportedly in development as far back as 2011, as the Obama administration sought to limit civilian casualties during its record-setting drone operations.

Obama quickly developed a legacy as the ‘drone president’, with 541 drone strikes throughout his time in office killing an estimated 3,797 people, including 324 civilians. Current US President Donald Trump has rescinded the Obama-era mandate to report civilian casualties by drone strike outside war zones.

Since the revelations about the new weapon emerged, many on Twitter have questioned the need for the blades given that a laser-guided, 100lb chunk of metal dropped from several thousand feet would, in and of itself, be enough to obliterate a human target.

Others, however, keenly bought into the branding and shared memes and movie references.

They should went with “ Knifey McKnife Face”. My guess is someone already owns the domain name.

Also on rt.com Love, death & robots: Obama snuggles with Merkel, recalls old droning times at VIP gala in Germany...

 


 


 

 
 
  • Published in World

Pentagon threatens Turkey with ‘grave consequences’ for buying Russian S-400

The US has threatened Turkey with “grave consequences” unless it cancels the purchase of S-400 systems from Russia, with a Pentagon spokesman advising Ankara to seek “better solutions” and warning of “broader implications.”

“Turkey’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense system will have grave consequences for the US defense relationship with Turkey,” Pentagon spokesperson Eric Pahon told Ahval news on Monday.

The US ally’s plan to buy the S-400 has been a major concern for the entire NATO alliance, with Washington claiming that its deployment alongside US-made weaponry, such as the F-35 stealth jets, undermines the alliance’s ‘interoperability’ and could reveal ‘secrets’ to Russians. Amid persistent pressure and threats of sanctions, the Trump administration last month temporarily halted the transfer of 100 F-35 jets to Turkey.

Also on rt.com Talks on Patriot missiles get rocky, no step back from deal with Russia – Erdogan...

Turkey for its part refused to bow to US pressure, insisting that diversifying military spending was crucial to national security. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week expressed his hope that Washington would “change its mind.” Yet the US continues its consultations with Ankara to help it “find better solutions,” and inform it of the “broader implications of purchasing Russian S-400s,” Pahon stressed.

Also on rt.com Turkey still keen to get Russia’s S-400 missiles despite rival US offers – top MP

  • Published in World

US: Pentagon Outlines Options for Military Strike in Iran

A report commissioned by Trump's National Security Advisors last year outlines military options to strike Iran.

For the first time a request made by the White House on “military options to strike Iran” was reported on Sunday by the Wall Street Journal.

RELATED: Pompeo's Middle East Visit Contradicts Trump Admin Policy

The request was initiated by President Trump’s National Security Council which asked the Pentagon to produce the report, a move which seemed unusual, “It definitely rattled people,” stated a former senior U.S. administration official describing the hawkish intentions behind the report, “People were shocked. It was mind-boggling how cavalier they were about hitting Iran,” the official added.

The move also received criticism from Iranian-American diplomatic relations lobbyists in Washington D.C, who believe the Trump administration is bent on torpedoing the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal.

John Bolton and fellow Iran hawks believe they have two years left to collapse the Iran nuclear deal and trigger a disastrous war that the American people want no part of,” said the President of the National Iranian American Council Jamal Abdi.

The petition was allegedly made in response to attacks carried out last year by militants firing mortars into Baghdad’s diplomatic quarter in which the U.S. Embassy is located.

However, this alleged justification based on the Iraq attack it appears to be an excuse to carry out an agenda consisting in removing the Iranian government held by longstanding officials with hawkish intentions: “We know that Bolton and other administration officials preferred an Iran war to negotiations prior to serving Trump. Now there is confirmation that they are still seeking out opportunities to fulfill their war agenda,” added Abdi.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s report, there are some blind corners on the specifics of the White House request. Two things stand out. First, if President Trump was aware of the request at the time of submission, and second if these plans were seriously concocted.

Nonetheless, there are clear causes of concern related to the people in charge of handling Iran policy who are quick to call for military intervention. Key officials in the current White House Administration, such as National Security Adviser John Bolton have been outspoken about their position on removing the government of Iran, “To stop Iran’s bomb, bomb Iran,” said Bolton in 2015.

The attack perpetrated on Iraq’s diplomatic quarter in September 2018 did not lead to any casualties. The United States government claimed that Iran did not stop its allies from carrying out the attack, according to a White House press statement. The accusation was categorically rejected by Iran’s foreign ministry and described it as “astonishing, provocative, and irresponsible,” according to Iran’s media reports.

 
  • Published in World

Pentagon denounces any unilateral military action in ‘their’ part of Syria as unacceptable

The US is worried that “unilateral” military action against its proxy forces might jeopardize its foothold in Syria, claiming that the Kurds are vital in the battle against IS, as Turkey vows to get rid of “separatist terrorists.”

Despite major breakthroughs in the battle against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists and in the ongoing reconciliation process in Syria, the US has repeatedly made clear its intention to remain in the country indefinitely, pledging to continue to back the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to counter Bashar Assad and Iranian influence in the Kurdish-dominated part of Syria. The presence of some 2,000 US military ‘advisers’ in the country has not only angered Damascus, but has also placed Ankara in direct confrontation with its NATO ally, especially after US-backed fighters attempted to set up parallel government structures.

To get rid of what he called a “separatist terrorist organization” east of the Euphrates, where the US-supported YPG Kurdish militia of the SDF now controls much of the territory, the Turkish president earlier this week promised to launch a new military campaign in Syria “within a matter of days.”

Washington, keen to protect its interest in the area, has –somewhat hypocritically– warned Ankara against launching a “unilateral” military campaign that might endanger US soldiers, who have recently established observation posts along the Turkish-Syrian border. Kurds, the Pentagon stressed, remain a “committed partner” in Washington’s fight against Islamic State.

We would find any such actions unacceptable

“Unilateral military action into northeast Syria by any party, particularly as US personnel may be present or in the vicinity, is of grave concern,” Commander Sean Robertson, a Pentagon spokesman, said in a statement. “We would find any such actions unacceptable.”

Also on rt.com

US needs 35-40k local fighters in Syria, only 20% there now – General Dunford 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, however, believes that there is not much of a threat from the crippled Islamic State in Syria anymore, and that the Turkish military has the right to act to get rid of what he called a “terrorist corridor” forming alongside its border. “It is time to realize our decision to wipe out terror groups east of the Euphrates,” Erdogan said.

It is clear that the purpose of these US observation posts is not to protect our country from terrorists but to protect terrorists from Turkey.

“Our target is not the American soldiers, it is the terror organizations that are active in the region,” Erdogan added in a televised speech, which triggered a strong response from the Pentagon.

Ankara has already conducted two major offensives in northern Syria with the help of the Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army. Earlier this year, Turkey launched Operation Olive Branch in northwestern Syria after the US announced its renewed commitment to maintaining support of the predominantly-Kurdish militia with training and weapons. Another cross-border incursion by the Turkish military, called Operation Euphrates Shield, was held from August 2016 to March 2017 with the aim of driving out IS terrorists, and the US-backed forces away from the border.

Also on rt.com

US eyes partitioning of Syria, gave up on promise that fighting ISIS ‘only goal’ – Lavrov 

  • Published in World

‘Pentagon cyber-espionage op’: US reportedly behind Slingshot malware targeting Mid East & Africa

Cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab reportedly busted a major US military asset when it exposed a sophisticated cyber-espionage operation that targeted computer networks in the Middle East.

On March 9, the leading Russia-based cybersecurity company reported their research on a program it called Slingshot, which used a highly sophisticated approach to infect computers with malware through infected routers. The operation had targeted computers throughout the Middle East and some parts of Africa since at least 2012, and required a lot of money and expertise from its creators. A report by an industry news publication, CyberScoop, claims Slingshot was run by the Special Operations Command (SOCOM).

@kaspersky : @Securityblvd provides details on sophisticated that uses compromised to penetrate networks https://kas.pr/889v

The report about the program was the biggest part of the Kaspersky Security Analyst Summit (SAS) this month. The firm’s researchers identified an advanced persistent threat (APT) – a term that usually describes a well-organized and trained group of hackers operating on a regular basis and possibly on behalf of a state government – that found a way to compromise various devises through routers. The attack was described as “remarkable and, to the best of our knowledge, unique” by Kaspersky researchers.

 
© Kirill Kallinikov

The company failed to identify how the routers themselves were infected. But they were used to inject malware into computers. The attack replaced one of the Windows libraries with a malicious one, and then used it to download and install two distinct pieces of malware called Cahnadr and GollumApp, which Kaspersky described as “masterpieces of cyberespionage art.” Combined, the two gave virtually unrestricted access to an attacked computer, harvesting screenshots, key strokes, network traffic, USB connections, clipboard content, and many other things.

The people behind Slingshot also took serious measures to protect their malware from being detected. For example, it can shut down its own components before being exposed by anti-viral software. It also runs its own file system to remain hidden from the computer-operating system, and blocks disc defragmentation to avoid being damaged by the process.

Kaspersky Lab said it has found around 100 victims of Slingshot and its related modules in Kenya, Yemen, Afghanistan, Libya, Congo, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Tanzania. Kenya and Yemen accounted for the majority of the cases. Most of the victims were individuals rather than organizations.

The company said they could not attribute the threat to a particular actor, but believed the people behind it to be “highly organized and professional and probably state-sponsored.” Text clues in the code suggested they were “English-speaking”.

The news report quotes unnamed former and current US intelligence officials, who said that Slingshot was an operation of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a component of SOCOM. Kaspersky Lab “burned” the program, which is believed to have been an anti-terrorist operation, leaving the American military without a valuable tool and potentially putting American lives at risk, the officials claimed.

 
© Kirill Kallinikov

 

“SOP [standard operating procedure] is to kill it all with fire once you get caught,” CyberScoop quoted a former intelligence official as saying. “It happens sometimes and we’re accustomed to dealing with it. But it still sucks… I can tell you this didn’t help anyone.”

CyberScoop says that Cahnadr and GollumApp are associated with hacker groups widely believed to be the NSA and the CIA respectively in the cybersecurity community. The report implies that Kaspersky Lab should have expected Slingshot to be a US operation.

“It’s clear by the way they wrote about this that they knew what it was being used for,” a senior official told the news service. “GReAT [Kaspersky’s Global Research & Analysis Team] is extremely adept at understanding the information needs of different actors out there on the internet. They take into considering the geopolitical circumstances, they’ve shown that time and time again. It would be a stretch for me to believe they didn’t know what they’re dealing with here.”

When asked about the claim that it damaged a US military operation, Kaspersky Lab denied knowing who the Slingshot APT was.

“As a result of anonymized data, it's impossible for us to tell who the specific targets are. All the company can state is that our users are protected against malicious software that can spy, steal or sabotage data from their computers,” they told RT in a statement.

Kaspersky Lab added that their software does not differentiate between malware based on who created it and for what purpose, as any malware is potentially dangerous, even if created by state actors, because it can always fall into the wrong hands.

Kaspersky Lab is currently in the middle of court battle with the US government over the company’s expulsion from part of the American market. US government entities were banned from purchasing services from Kaspersky after the US intelligence accused the company of providing a backdoor for their Russian counterparts through its anti-virus software. Kaspersky denies the allegations and claimed in its lawsuit that the government’s decision was based largely on uncorroborated news media reports as evidence.

  • Published in World

Moscow slams ‘illegal’ US presence in Syria as Pentagon reserves right for ‘defensive’ attacks

Russia has reminded the US that its presence in Syria is illegal after the coalition struck pro-government militias. Washington however reserved the right for “defensive” attacks to achieve peace “from a position of strength.”

The US presence in Syria is “actually illegal,” the Russian Ambassador to the UN reminded his Western counterparts on Thursday at a closed-door meeting of the UN Security Council. “Nobody invited them there,” Vasily Nebenzya stated, emphasizing that a hard fought for stability in Syria is being jeopardized by US actions.

On Wednesday, the US-led coalition said it carried out several “defensive” airstrikes on Syrian forces in Deir Ez-Zor province in retaliation for what they described as an “unprovoked” attack on the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and foreign military “advisers.”

 
FILE PHOTO. Oil well on the outskirts of the city of Deir ez-Zor. © Mikhail Voskresenskiy

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Syrian militia unit was advancing against a “sleeper cell” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists near the former oil processing plant of al-Isba, when it suddenly came under massive air strikes. At least 25 militiamen were injured in the attack, the Russian MoD noted, clarifying that pro-government troops targeted by the coalition did not coordinate their operation with the Russian command.

The US, however, maintains that the militia attacked the SDF. The Pentagon said Syrian forces moved “in a battalion-sized unit formation, supported by artillery, tanks, multiple-launch rocket systems and mortars.” The battle which lasted over three hours, the US claims, began after 30 artillery tank rounds landed within 500 meters of the SDF unit’s location.

“At the start of the unprovoked attack on Syrian Democratic Forces and coalition advisers, coalition aircraft, including F-22A Raptors and MQ-9B Reapers, were overhead providing protective overwatch, defensive counter air and [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] support as they have 24/7 throughout the fight to defeat ISIS,” Air Forces Central Command spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart told Military.com.

“Following a call for support from Air Force Joint Terminal Attack Controllers, a variety of joint aircraft and ground-based artillery responded in defense of our SDF partners, including F-15E Strike Eagles,” he said in a statement Thursday. “These aircraft released multiple precision-fire munitions and conducted strafing runs against the advancing aggressor force, stopping their advance and destroying multiple artillery pieces and tanks.”

@RT_com 'Actions of the US coalition do not comply with legal norms. Beyond all doubt, it is aggression' https://on.rt.com/8yo4

Damascus called the attack a “war crime,” while the Russian military asserted that Washington’s true goal is to capture “economic assets” in Syria. The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova affirmed that the US military presence in Syria poses a dangerous threat to the political process and territorial integrity of the country, while Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the strike another violation of Syria’s sovereignty by the US.

The US, however, remained unmoved, promising to continue to support the US-allied forces in Syria at any cost. “We continue to support SDF with respect to defeating ISIS... ISIS is still there, and our mission is still to defeat ISIS,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said Thursday. “We will continue to support them. Our goal is to ensure that our diplomats can negotiate from a position of strength, with respect to the Geneva process.”

@RT_com 'What right does the US have to defend illegal formations in Syria?' - former US diplomat @JimJatras https://on.rt.com/8yow

“They [US] constantly assert that they are fighting international terrorism there, but we see that they go beyond this framework,” Nebenzya told the UNSC. He warned the US-led coalition members that it is “criminal” to engage the only forces “who actually fight” international terrorism in Syria.

  • Published in World
Subscribe to this RSS feed