Time to take out Iran soon- with or without Hussein Obama

Where are Obama and Netanyahu’s nuclear clocks?

DEBKAfile Special Report December 26, 2012, 10:00 PM (GMT+02:00)

Iran's nuclear clock is ticking. Is anyone listening?
Iran’s nuclear clock is ticking. Is anyone listening?

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his deputy, Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, suddenly woke up Tuesday, Dec. 25, when at the launch of their Likud-Beitenu election campaign, they were asked what had happened to the dire Iranian nuclear threat. “It will soon be back in the headlines,” they said. “Not a day goes by without it receiving our attention,” said sources close to the prime minister. “The nuclear clock is still ticking” – and it is fact that National Security Adviser Yaacov Amidror has made several recent trips to Washington to discuss the issue with American colleagues. “Now we are waiting for Barack Obama to form his new government,” Yaalon remarked.
But Obama and his government will only be sworn in on January 21, and the next day Israel itself goes to the polls. On past performance, an incoming Israel prime minister takes weeks, if not months, to assemble a new government. Iran has therefore been given the gift of at least three months to play with before either administration is ready for strategic decision-making with regard to preemptive action against its nuclear program. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei can therefore rest easy until the late spring of 2013.

Dennis Ross, Obama’s former adviser on Iran, who is well versed in White House thinking and has good access to the Prime Minister’s Office in Jerusalem, said in an interview Monday that, for the moment, the Iranians “are not convinced we are prepared to use force.” Speaking to the Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post, Ross said he believed 2013 would be the critical year.
DEBKAfile connects this remark to a comment President Obama made while campaigning for reelection: He spoke of Iran attaining “breakout capacity” next year – a development which must be prevented, because it means, “we would not be able to intervene in time to stop their nuclear program.”
For breakout capacity, Iran would have to acquire the materials – highly-enriched uranium and components for a weapon – and the knowhow to build nuclear weapons quickly if it is so decided. A decision could be too fast for US intelligence, or presumably Israel, to catch in time to take action. It was this eventuality which Obama said must be prevented.

The current situation poses two problems. Although the US president has often expressed his determination to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon, he has never explained how he would achieve this, or promised to use force if nothing else availed. The other problem is that, according to DEBKAfile’s intelligence and Iranian sources, Tehran has already reached “breakout capacity.”

This phrase has therefore become a convenient slogan for delayed action, another red line to be missed, like the ones set by Netanyahu in his cartoon presentation to the UN Assembly last September, such as 20-percent enriched uranium.
Khamenei has rejected the stipulations the United States laid down in the secret direct negotiations held earlier this month for settling the controversy over Iran’s nuclear program. And there are no signs he is worried about repercussions. The only true words about the current stalemate were heard from Dennis Ross, that the Iranians “are not convinced we are prepared to use force.” The rest is spin.


Israel remains an ‘island of stability’ among hostile Islamist movements

While it will be harder now for Israel to reach peace agreements with its increasingly Islamic neighbors, the turmoil in the Arab world has also in some ways benefited the security situation here at home.
By Amos Harel | Dec.21, 2012 | 7:32 PM | 1

Supporters of Muslim Brotherhood’s presidential candidate Mohammed Morsi demonstrate against the delay of the Egyptian presidential results and against the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces. Photo by Reuters

A UN guard on Israel’s border with Syria. Regarding the civil war there, Israeli policy is still one of minimal involvement. Photo by AP

From an Israeli perspective, it would appear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s initial reading of the so-called Arab Spring was closer to reality than that of U.S. President Barack Obama and other Western leaders.

At first, the awakening of the Arab nations – in an attempt to topple dictatorial regimes that had ruled for decades – was met with justified enthusiasm in the West. However, after two years the gap between hopes and reality is grimly visible. Four of the dictatorships (in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Yemen ) have been toppled, while one (in Syria ) is still battling for survival in a murderous civil war. Other regimes (Bahrain, Jordan ) are, for the moment, holding back the tidal wave.

Although free elections were held for the first time in Egypt and Tunisia, it is highly doubtful whether they will be held under similar circumstances next time. Nor can one ignore the instability, economic crises and disturbing rise of Islamic movements – all of which place a huge question mark over the hopes for dramatic changes in the Arab world.

As far as Israel is concerned, it will now be harder to attempt to reach peace agreements with Islamic regimes that derive their support from local public opinion (which is largely extremely hostile toward Israel ).

On January 31, 2011, a month and a half after the outbreak of disturbances in Tunisia, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was already calculating how many days would remain until his own regime would come to an end. On the same day, in a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Netanyahu stated that Israel was an island of stability in the Middle East.

The prime minister also expressed fears that a radical Islamic regime would arise in Egypt. In a situation of rapid upheaval where democratic institutions are not in place yet, he warned, such a tyrannical regime would likely trample human rights, strongly oppose any manifestations of democracy and constitute a serious threat to peace in the Middle East. Ten days after Netanyahu issued his first dire warning, Mubarak resigned, succumbing to the pressure of the masses. The Americans and the Europeans welcomed this development and declared that a major step had been made toward democracy in Egypt.

But one-quarter of the votes in last June’s Egyptian election went to Salafist (extremely rigid Muslim ) parties, and President Mohammed Morsi’s recent actions are not so far from what Netanyahu predicted.

With his conservative, pessimistic views, the prime minister was also, however, expressing the views of Israeli voters. Here, the outcome of elections usually reflects the degree to which voters feel personally safe and secure; indeed, this factor outweighs any other consideration when people cast their ballot.

In general, Netanyahu has displayed a relative measure of caution regarding military initiatives. Only once has he deviated from that line if inaction: last month, when after considerable hesitation and finding himself in a serious political crisis, he launched Operation Pillar of Defense in Gaza.

Both the prime minister’s cautiousness and basic suspicions concerning the intentions of the Arab side find favor in the hearts of the Israeli electorate. Public opinion polls indicate a consistent level of support for the Likud party and its platform. What is helping the rightist-ultra-Orthodox political camp gather electoral strength is not just demography, but also an opinion that is increasingly taking hold in the public: that there is no reason to take any chances (or make big changes ) when volcanoes are erupting all around you.

In one area, however, Netanyahu should deviate from his basic approach. He should make certain gestures toward the Palestinian Authority, in order to renew negotiations with it. A more conciliatory line of conduct vis-a-vis the PA in the West Bank would help Israel’s international image. It would also help enhance the moral support Israel received when it launched Operation Pillar of Defense against Hamas. (Unlike his predecessor, Ehud Olmert, Netanyahu was careful to keep the number of civilian casualties among Gaza’s residents to the minimum. )

Netanyahu is not, however, showing any real caution in his dealings with the PA. In fact, he has undertaken harsh punitive steps in response to its successful bid to become a nonmember observer at the United Nations. In taking these steps, Netanyahu may have increased his support among rightist voters, but he’s running the risk of a growing rift with the West.

New players emerging

An argument that has often been voiced is that Israel has benefited from the fact that its attempts over time to reach a peace agreement with Syria ultimately failed. Otherwise, Israel would have found itself in an untenable position now if the Golan Heights were under the control of such a murderous neighbor.

Regarding the civil war in Syria, Israeli policy continues to be one of minimal involvement, with the understanding that extension of a helping hand to the rebels would only cause damage. It would label the rebels as Israeli agents and help the regime to survive.

Like the Egyptian border in Sinai, the Syrian border reflects the change that has taken place in Israel’s strategic situation in the region. Instead of a stable balance of deterrence in the face of the armies of the neighboring states – a deterrence that rests on the Israel Defense Forces’ superiority in the air, in technology and military intelligence – new players have emerged which are not even states.

These organizations sometimes form alliances to create tenuous terrorist networks, some of which have ideologies derived from those of Osama bin Laden. Moreover, they are utilizing areas that are not effectively under the control of the central regimes (such as in Sinai and southern Syria ) to consolidate their hold and gradually aim their weaponry at Israel. Although their capabilities are limited, they can still inflict considerable damage. Most important, it is very difficult to develop an effective deterrent power against them.

On the other hand, Israel has certain advantages in the new situation that has been created during the Arab awakening, although its leaders tend to avoid talking about them out loud. The conventional threat posed by the Syrian army and the potential of a similar threat from the Egyptian army (should there be a serious escalation in tensions between Jerusalem and Cairo ) have almost completely vanished.

For 35 years this was the trauma that became a formative factor in the thinking of Israel’s defense establishment: Syrians right on Israel’s border – on Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights – attacking with the same kind of suddenness experienced during 1973’s Yom Kippur War, and with Egyptian divisions simultaneously crossing the Suez Canal and entering Sinai.

This scenario will not take place under the present circumstances, and will probably not occur in at least the next few years. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s army, which over the past two years has been massacring the country’s citizens, suffers from poor organization, low morale and increasing incidents of desertion. It is not an army that can be ordered, in one fell swoop, to mount an attack on the Golan Heights.

An interesting development is also unfolding in Egypt. Hamas deliberately escalated its confrontation with Israel on the eve of Operation Pillar of Defense, with the assumption that it would be supported by the Muslim Brotherhood-led government in Cairo. However, that support was not forthcoming. Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood leader, Khairat al-Shater, even warned that his country would not allow Hamas to drag it into a war with Israel. Not only does Egypt have no vested interest in a war with Israel right now; the Egyptian leadership knows the price of such a move would be a cessation of American economic and military aid, upon which Egypt is completely dependent.

Originally published by Haaretz


Glimrende artikkel om AP regjeringens avskyelige støtte til radikale islam, og islamske terrororganisasjoner.

Glimrende artikkel om AP regjeringens avskyelige støtte til radikale islam, og islamske terrororganisasjoner.

AP partiet og SV bør aldri mer i regjering i Norge. De ikke bare støtter radikale islam og deres terrororganisasjoner internasjonalt, de importerer også gjennom sin grovt uansvarlige innvandringspolitikk det islamistiske udyret til Norge i en skadelig masseinnvandring. De politikerne som har stått bak dette bør en dag stilles for retten i Norge for svik mot fedrelandet.



Øygardsaken: Synske dommere på Lillehammer? Har vi rettsikkerhet for menn?

Det kan være ting som tyder på at Anna Elisabeth Westerlund har fått arvtagere på Lillehammer. Det kan forekomme som at man må være synsk for med skråsikkerhet finne det bevist at Øygards påstått første samleie med Jenta fant sted da hun var 13 år. Særlig siden det foreligger vitneprov fra Øygards kone om at det jenta sier ikke er sant. Hun handlet ikke når jenta sa hun handlet. Nå er det jo ikke bevist at det var samleier i hele tatt ut fra sakens bevis. Forøvrig er det jo bevist at jenta har anklaget to lærere falskt. Men det mulig dommerne ikke fikk med seg det.

Det er mye grums i Øygards Skype meldinger. Men hvordan kan påstått oppegående medlemmer av Tingretten på Lillehammer få det til å bli 50 samleier ut av det? Vi er ikke sikker på at selv Anna Elisabeth Westerlund eller Snåsamannen ville hatt så til de grader telepatiske og synske evner som Tingrettsmedlemmene på Lillehammer.

Vi tenker det snart er på tide at norsk rettspraksis og norske dommere får seg en nesestyver fra den europeiske Menneskerettighetsdomstolen. Norske myndigheter fikk seg nylig en real blåveis fra Menneskerettsdomstolen, da advokat Arild Humlen vant en sak der mot Den norske stat om to innvandrere.

Vi husker også rettsystemets tidligere praksis med å gi dobbelt straff for en og den samme forbrytelsen. I Strasbour ble Norge funnet skyldig i å bryte menneskerettigheten på det området, og den tåpelige praksisen opphørte. Nå gjelder det å sikre rettsikkerheten i Norge.

På bakgrunn av den nylige saken der fagdommerne tilsidesatte legdommerne i en voldtektssak der datteren vitnet falskt, er det grunn til å be om en juryordning i Norge også i Tingretten. Vi trenger en jury bestående at 12 personer. Det vil bidra til å trygge rettsikkerheten. For norske dommere viser at de ikke holder mål. Slike dommere trenger samfunnet å beskytte seg mot.

Øygard bør ikke gi seg uten en sak for Menneskerettsdomstolen. Her kan advokat Humlen hjelpe han.

Forøvrig er vi lei av Harald Stanghelle. Han har intet å tilføre tenkingen her. Kanskje han skulle ta seg en studiepause i Strasbour?

Justismord på Lillehammer?

Det er ikke lenge siden en norsk rett dømte en uskyldig mann for seksuelle overgrep mot sin mindreårige datter. En skamplett på norsk dommerstand, og på rettsikkerheten i Norge.

I Lillehammersaken er det tvingende nødvendig at vi kan væree 100% sikre i skyldspørsmålet, er vi ikke det skal Rune Øygard frifinnes. Etter dommen på Lillehammer i dag, er vi milevidt unna sikkerhet om skyld. Tingrettsdommen på Lillehammer er skremmende nær den dommen vi refererte til ovenfor, og som jo er et justismord.

Det er sterkt å håpe at dommen blir anket. Og at jentas forklaringer blir endevendt i neste omgang uten silkehansker på.


Reports: MI6 doing espionage from Norway base. Now on MI6 in Russia. No wonder Russia closes down foreign NGOs suspected of espionage for foreign powers. Norway should do the same.

Litvinenko worked for ‘MI6 and gave Spain intel on Russian Mafia’ – widow’s lawyer

Aleksandr Litvinenko (AFP Photo / Martyn Hayhow)

Former FSB officer Aleksandr Litvinenko, who died in London of polonium poisoning in 2006, worked for the British foreign intelligence service as well aiding Spain in their fight against the Russian mafia, the UK inquest revealed Thursday.

At the time of his death Litvinenko had been for a number of years a regular and paid agent and employee of MI6 with a dedicated handler whose pseudonym was Martin,” Ben Emmerson QC, representing Marina Litvinenko, told the coroner.

Emmerson said that MI6 “tasked” Litvinenko to connect with Spanish intelligence whom he provided with information on “organized crime and Russian Mafia activity in Spain and more broadly.” The information went directly to Spanish prosecutors.

The agent was paid by both the British and Spanish secret services into a joint bank account he held with his wife, the hearing at Camden Town Hall, in London, was told.

Litvinenko allegedly met “Martin” on October 31, 2006 – less than a month before his death, Emmerson revealed. The handler is expected to testify in the inquest, an investigation thats looking to find the reasons behind his death but not rule on anyone’s guilt.

The QC and Litvinenko’s family stressed that such deep involvement of the agent with the British intelligence put even more responsibility on the UK government to protect him

Litvinenko, who was aged 43 at the time of his death, died of polonium-210 poisoning after allegedly drinking tea with his two former colleagues at a central London hotel.

He was a critic of Vladimir Putin and had sought to expose what he called wrongdoing within the FSB security service. Litvinenko had worked both for the FSB and its predecessor the KGB before he fled Russia in 2000. On his deathbed, Litvinenko blamed Putin for his demise.

The death sparked massive alarm that such a highly toxic material could be brought into the UK without being traced. The case came to be branded as “nuclear terrorism.

The two Russians, who met with Litvinenko, were former KGB contacts Andrey Lugovoy and Dmitry Kovtun. UK prosecutors have named the two as prime suspects in his death. Both deny involvement, while Russia refused to extradite them saying such an extradition would contradict its constitution.

Lugovoy, now a Russian MP, maintains that Litvinenko had acquired the polonium and ended up either poisoning himself or  was killed by the MI6. A lie detector test in April also showed Lugovoy did not contribute to the incident.

On Thursday, Hugh Davies, counsel to the inquest, concluded that the material released by the British government for the inquest “does establish a prima facie case as to the culpability of the Russian state in the death,” as quoted by British newspaper, The Mirror.

Davies ruled out evidence against Boris Berezovsky, a Russian tycoon in self-exile who was accused of Litvinenko’s death by the agent’s father. He also dropped other suspects who have been named in conspiracy theories including the Spanish mafia, Chechen groups and several others.

Russia says it would like to become an interested party in the inquest and have the chance to make submissions and cross examine witnesses.

 +2  (2 votes)


Ivanovo: Fashion Capital Ivanovo Ready for a Makeover


Ivanovo’s downtown is made up of low-rise buildings and has a modern feel. Many of the historic structures in Ivanovo, including 20 churches, were destroyed in the 1920s and 1930s.

Courtesy of Ivanovo Panorama Museum

Ivanovo’s downtown is made up of low-rise buildings and has a modern feel. Many of the historic structures in Ivanovo, including 20 churches, were destroyed in the 1920s and 1930s.

Population: 408,826
Main industries: Textiles, logistics
Mayor: Vyacheslav Sverchkov
City manager: Alexander Kuzminchev (Twitter:https://twitter.com/A_S_Kuzmichev)
First mentioned in 1561
Interesting fact No. 1: Ivanovo is famous in Russia as the “city of brides” because the dominant textile industry attracted more women than men. The city’s most famous woman now is Svetlana Kuritsyna, a pro-Kremlin youth activist who shot to fame after appearing as “Sveta from Ivanovo” in a video that went viral on YouTube. She now has a show on NTV television.
Interesting fact No. 2: One of Russia’s richest men, steel mogul Vladimir Lisin, was born here in 1956.
Interesting fact No. 3: After a merger with the village of Voznesensky Posad, the city was known as Ivanovo-Voznesensk between 1871 and 1932. Some people want to return to this name.
Sister cities: Hannover, Germany; Plano, Texas, U.S.; Lodz, Poland
Helpful contacts: Yury Vladimirovich Korotkov, aide to the mayor +7-910-985-5014

IVANOVO — The Niagara Restaurant is smack in the center of town, overlooking the river, right next to the falls.Just that the river is not the Niagara but the Uvod, and the falls are not 58 meters but just 1 meter high. And the restaurant, naturally, serves Georgian food.

Welcome to Ivanovo, a city northeast of Moscow that doesn’t cater much to tourists but may offer the unexpected to those who look carefully.
At first sight, it is hard to find anything attractive in this city of just over 400,000. The central Ploshchad Revolutsii boasts a monumental sculpture paying tribute to the revolution of 1905, which was sparked by a local textile workers’ strike. Behind it towers a yellow-red building that looks like a run-of the mill apartment block but houses the city administration.

Ivanovo’s relative lack of historic monuments has been explained by large-scale demolition by the Soviets during the 1920s and 1930s, when most of the city’s more than 20 churches were knocked down. Today, just four survive. Those policies were carried out more ruthlessly than elsewhere because of plans — later abandoned — to make Ivanovo the capital of Russia proper, while Moscow would remain the capital of the Soviet Union, according to an essay on the city’s official website.


Major Businesses


Avtokran (61 Ulitsa Nekrasova, +7-495-741-06-66, cranes.ru) A leading manufacturer of construction cranes.
Sun Inbev (143 Parizhskoi Kommuny Ulitsa, +7-4932-33-96-97 www.suninterbrew.ru/rus/factory/ivanovo/default.aspx) One of 10 breweries run by the Russian subsidiary of Anheuser-Busch InBev, the world’s largest brewer.
Egger Drevprodukt (1 Yuzhnoye Shosse, 155908 Shuya, +7-49351 39000, +7 495 2312828,www.egger.com/RU_ru/index.htm?lang=ru_RU) A wood-panel factory run by a large Austrian manufacturer

Today, Ivanovo is famous for two things: brides and the textile industry. The two are directly related. For generations, the textile industry attracted mainly female workers to the city. In the 19th century, textile manufacturing was so big that Ivanovo became known as the Russian Manchester.Like its British counterpart, Ivanovo has seen industrial decline, most acutely during the 1990s, when the country’s textile industry crumbled in the face of foreign competition, which had been absent in Soviet times. The city’s population, which peaked at 481,000 in 1989, shrank to 403,000 in 2010.

The city is far from deserted, however, and roads can get clogged with traffic, a sign that the local economy has picked up during recent years. A walk through the center also reveals that textiles still dominate the locals’ hearts and minds. Shops selling huge ranges of cloth in different styles and colors abound, and customers were plenty during a visit on Nov. 5, a public holiday. While the fabric is no longer produced locally, textile-related know-how is still strong among locals, and city authorities are keen to put that to use. Their plan is to focus on textile trade and sewing and transform Ivanovo from a city of textile workers into a fashion city, as Mayor Vyacheslav Sverchkov puts it (see interview). Supporters of the plan point out that more than half the country’s textile production is sold out of Ivanovo. However, it would be an exaggeration to say the atmosphere in downtown Ivanovo has an air of Paris haute couture. The dilapidated infrastructure does not differ greatly from that of other cities of similar size in Moscow’s vicinity. There are revamped retail outlets, newly opened eateries and some major construction projects, but large gaps between buildings and fenced-off ruins serve as a constant reminder that the restructuring is still in its early phases.

For MT

Vyacheslav Sverchkov,
Ivanovo mayor since 2010

Q: How do you attract foreign investors to Ivanovo? 
A: We give potential investors all the support we can as municipal authorities. We work closely together with the Ivanovo region’s interagency council for production and investments, headed by the governor, [Mikhail Men].

Q: What are your main tasks for the near future?
A: Quite a few. First we focus on improving the quality of life for our population. But we keep supporting Ivanovo’s brand as Russia’s textile capital. Even today, a significant amount of products associated with this are being produced in our city. But Ivanovo has also become a big logistics center where products from Ukraine, Turkey and China are sold to buyers from all over Russia.
We have successfully developed into a fashion city. Ivanovo is proud of its young but already recognized clothes designers, graduates of our textile academy. And our (fellow) townsman fashion designer Vyacheslav Zaitsev is already widely known beyond Russia. It’s not an accident that Ivanovo hosts a range of annual fashion festivals.

Q: What do you like most about your city?
A: I like Ivanovo because of its youth. Most of our citizens are students. Deservedly, our city this year became a finalist in the European Youth Capital contest. I like Ivanovo’s wide roads and its green corners. And I am deeply impressed by our people’s striving to progress.
While the demographic situation has changed, our young women remain the prettiest in the country. Ivanovo’s brides attract people from other regions, and many young families settle in our city.
— Nikolaus von Twickel

What to see if you have two hours

From Ploshchad Revolutsii, stroll down Prospekt Lenina, the city’s busiest thoroughfare. You can do some basic shopping here before you hit the golden-domed Holy Trinity Church. From here, the road morphs into a highway with metal guardrails in the center. Do not let this deter you. Start your descent to the river either well right or left of the road.

There is plenty of open space and green in front of you. To the right, the massive Palace of Arts, which houses the city’s main theaters, towers above the riverbank. The building was erected in the 1930s over the ruins of a large Orthodox complex housing the city’s main cathedrals, torn down in 1931. Although construction lasted nine years, the new building was riddled with structural difficulties and eventually closed in 1965 for more than 20 years for renovation. The reopening in 1986 was postponed for another year after a fire destroyed much of the interior. This unfortunate history has fed popular legends about the place. A lengthy article on the Ivgorod.ru website claims that a whole string of tragedies at the location after 1931 stem from a curse of a witch called Dosifeya, who was taking revenge for the destruction of the holy buildings, which included a venerated cemetery.

To the left you can see two high-rise apartment buildings called Ogni Moskvy (lights of Moscow), which have a whimsical address on Konspirativny Pereulok (Conspiracy Lane). Walk down to the Uvod River, which in Soviet times was said to be so dirty that it contained no fish.The cause of the pollution was the textile factories, one of the biggest of which was here in the very center of the city. The former Big Ivanovo Manufacture, better known as BIM, looms large over the other embankment. But the factory, which traces its roots to 1751, closed for good in 2008.

While BIM is waiting for business to return one day in the form of a shopping mall, fish and even swans have returned to the water that slowly flows in front of the now-silent behemoth.

What to do if you have two days

Past the impressive city circus, the highway leads upward into more pleasant quarters, with some fine pre-revolutionary and constructionist mansions. One of them houses the Museum of Ivanovo Chintz, a must-see that shows off luxurious fabrics and includes a proud exhibit of national fashion icon Slava Zaitsev, one of the city’s most famous native sons. (11 Ulitsa Baturina, +7-4932-41-6424;www.igikm.ru/o-muzee/muzey-ivanovskogo-sittsa/) Directly opposite, the palatial home of Dmitry Burylin, an industrialist who died in 1924, has been converted into the Museum of Industry and Art. (6 Ulitsa Baturina, +7-4932-32-74-05;www.igikm.ru/o-muzee/muzey-promyshlennosti-i-iskusstva)

Some 500 meters farther from the center along Prospekt Lenina, you can find the Ivanovo region’s arts museum, which shows a collection of lacquer art from the famous Palekh Miniature school. Most notable are the works of the Kukuliyev dynasty, which show how traditional icon painters reoriented their work in Soviet times to depict revolutionary leaders and space heroes like Yury Gagarin (33 Prospekt Lenina, +7-4932-32-6504). While lacquer art is also widely available in Moscow, it might be worth hiking out to Palekh itself, which lies just 65 kilometers southeast of Ivanovo. The local museum is said to boast thousands of works (50 Bakanova Ulitsa, +7-493-34 2-10-54)

An even more compelling reason to take this route is the beautiful town of Shuya, halfway between Ivanovo and Moscow. This architectural gem boasts the world’s highest free-standing bell tower, the 106-meter-tall Resurrection Cathedral’s tower, and a palace that hosted Tsarina Elizabeth in 1729. The Ivanovo Arts Museum also offers classes to children, whose impressive paper and plasticine works are displayed in a ground-floor corridor that you might not find if you don’t ask the elderly lady at the coat check.

For MT

Richard Wallner,
head of east European operations for Austrian wood-panel manufacturer Egger, which has a particle-board factory in Shuya, a town some 30 kilometers southeast of Ivanovo.

Q: Why did Egger come to the Ivanovo region?
A: When our expert team looked for an investment location in Russia in 2004, we chose to be close to our raw material — wood. Shuya was a very attractive option because it not only offers plenty of wood but it also already had a large factory building from an uncompleted car plant. And it was not too far from Moscow, the biggest place to sell the products.

Q: Are you happy with the decision?
A: We consider it very successful. Business has been steadily rising, even through the crisis of 2008-09. Today, we have an annual output of 300,000 cubic meters and employ more than 300 people in Shuya.

Q: What are the biggest challenges?
A: Bureaucracy and the many rules. It is definitely advisable to carefully adhere to each one of them, which means that it takes longer than elsewhere to develop business. But today we feel able to master everything.

Q: What is your advice to other investors?
A: Concentrate on developing personal relationships and trust. In Russia, it is far more important to build close contacts with your clients than in Western Europe.
— Nikolaus von Twickel

Where to eat

A good place to choose from a range of eateries is the area down by the river at Teatralnaya Bridge. Located on the northern embankment, the already-mentioned Niagara restaurant caters to upmarket clientele and offers several dining rooms, some of which might be booked for banquets.

Apart from Georgian dishes, the extensive menu offers a wide range of European cuisine. Expect the bill to run between 1,000 and 2,000 rubles, depending on alcohol. (11 Prospekt Lenina, +7-4932-59-50-85,www.ivdosug.ru/niagara)

On the other side of the river, the Restaurant Veranda (13 Pushkin Square, +7-4932-592-105,restoran-veranda.ru) also offers a huge menu that caters to the typical Russian palate, which naturally includes sushi. An average bill with alcohol runs 1,500 rubles.

A budget option close by is Cafe Vernissage (11 Pushkin Square, +7-4932-41-68-76), which is housed in an eccentric pavilion and offers stolovaya-style self-service canteen food. A homemade burger costs 60 rubles, meaning that you can buy more than you can eat for 200 rubles. There is also free Wi-Fi.

Pricier but popular is Cafe Freddo (9 Prospekt Lenina, +7-4932-47-15-60) on the ground floor of the Plaza shopping mall. Apart from coffee-shop staples, the menu has Russian items like borshcht and pelmeni, and an average meal will cost you 1,000 rubles.

Moscow coffee shoppers might appreciate the presence of Coffee Bean, whose Ivanovo outlet is popular with regional governor Mikhail Men. It is just across from the Plaza mall (16 Prospekt Lenina, +7-4932-59-14-90,www.coffeebean.ru/coffee-houses/ivanovo/ivanovo-address.html)

Where to stay

The Hotel Voznenskaya (64 Prospekt Lenina +7-4932-37-2547,voznesenskayahotel.ru) used to be the No. 1 place to stay. The atmosphere is a bit reminiscent of bygone days, when it was called Sovyetskaya, but it has a nice gift shop. Rooms cost from 840 to 4,560 rubles per night.

Similarly large and downtown is the Hotel Ivanovo (46 Ulitsa Karla Marxa, +7-4932-37-65-45,www.hotel-ivanovo.ru). Single rooms range from 672 to 2,976 rubles per night.

The Sosnovy Bor Hotel at the southern city limits (3 Ulitsa Lyubimova, +7-4932-54-1994,www.ivsbor.ru/hotel/scheme) is a modern upmarket development that caters to both business and leisure travelers. Single rooms cost from 2,900 to 4,500 rubles per night, and there are wooden cottages, saunas and a conference center.

Conversation starters

While the brides theme remains popular, especially with local officials, visitors might not find overwhelming evidence that Ivanovo’s female population is more attractive than, say, Moscow’s. A typical conversation might therefore focus on the local economy’s ongoing transformation. During a recent visit, a reporter was told by an elderly saleswoman that the reason for the textile industry’s downturn lies in Central Asia. “The people who used to produce cotton for us no longer want to work there. They have all gone to Moscow, where they work as dvorniki (janitors),” said the woman, who gave only her first name, Yelena.

How to get there

Ivanovo is accessible by car in less than a day, but the 300-kilometer drive can be extremely tiring if traffic is bad. The fastest route is via Moscow’s Shosse Entuziastov, which is infamous for its congestion, and past Vladimir and Suzdal. Expect to be on the road for at least five hours. Trains leave Moscow at 10 p.m. and arrive in Ivanovo seven hours later, meaning you have to get up well before 5 a.m. The return journey has similar schedules. A compartment-class round-trip ticket costs 2,200 rubles.
Ivanovo has a small airport, which reopened in 2008 after reconstruction. It offers flights to Domodedovo Airport Monday through Friday twice a day, plus one flight on Sundays. A round trip costs 3,899 rubles. Flights are operated by Dexter, an air-taxi company that flies Pilatus turboprop planes.

Russia changes tack on Syria

By M K Bhadrakumar

Russia is throwing in the towel on Syria after an almost two-year long blaze of Cold War-era rhetoric. It dug in tenaciously at the United Nations Security Council holding its veto card to block a Western intervention in Syria but has been outmaneuvered on the ground and is being presented with a fait accompli that the regime it supported in Damascus is fast becoming a thing of the past.

The Kremlin’s special envoy for Syria, Mikhail Bogdanov, admitted for the first time on Thursday that the rebels are on a winning spree and the momentum may coast them to outright victory over the government’s forces. Bogdanov contemplated a rebel victory. Without mincing words, he said, “One must look facts in the face. Unfortunately, the victory of the Syrian opposition cannot be ruled out.”

This candid statement all but echoed the triumphant remark by
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen – also on Thursday – that “the regime in Damascus is approaching collapse”.

Bogdanov’s glasnost comes hardly within three days of Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s ominous warning that Russia “will not allow the Libyan experience to be reproduced in Syria”.

Arguably, Lavrov still has a point insofar as there has indeed been no direct Western intervention until now in Syria, and it seems extremely unlikely that there will be one; in fact, there may be no need for a Libya-like intervention. The pattern could be similar to Afghanistan in 2001, when the Northern Alliance toppled the Taliban regime and thereafter the Western boots appeared on the ground in the Hindu Kush to take command of the successor regime.

Quintessentially, however, it is Libya all over again. Yet another Middle Eastern regime that showed strategic defiance of the Western world is being overthrown and the world community is being presented with no option but to acquiesce with it. Period.

One can endlessly quibble over the morality of it all or its legitimacy under international law or even as to what happens in such a world order to the Westphalian system (which was also, ironically, born out of Europe’s blood-soaked history), but all that matters is that it is happening all the time.

There can be no pretensions anymore that it is the idealism of the Arab Spring that brought about the upheaval in Syria. The name of the game is “geopolitics”. The Western powers are meeting with the military wing of the Syrian opposition coalition in Turkey next week. Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of Syrians have been rendered homeless or forced into exile in the turmoil. The Syrian rebels no longer hide that Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are promoting the war by financing and equipping, and providing training, sanctuaries, intelligence and logistics support. Nor do they hide that hundreds of foreign volunteers are fighting on their side.

Pretty much isolated 
But Russian rhetoric continued relentlessly right up to this week. As recently as Wednesday, Moscow tore into the decision of United States President Barack Obama to accord political recognition to the newly formed Syrian opposition alliance. Lavrov said:

I was somewhat surprised to learn that the US, through its president, has recognized the national coalition as the sole legitimate representative of the Syrian people. That is at odds with the agreements recorded in the Geneva communique calling for an all-Syria dialog between the country’s government representatives on the one hand and the opposition on the other.

Interestingly, Bogdanov also changed the tune on the sensitive issue of chemical weapons. If only three days back Russia’s security boss, Nikolas Patrushev, ruled out any intention by the Syrian regime to use chemical weapons, Bogdanov now added a caveat that there is nonetheless a serious problem, since the chemical weapons may fall into the hands of the radical groups among the Syrian rebels.

He said, “The greatest danger is that parts of Syria continue to fall under the control of the opposition where extremists, terrorists, and al-Qaeda have strong positions. That could have very serious consequences.”

What does Russia do now? Moscow is pretty much isolated on the Syrian question and has virtually painted itself into a corner. The point is, over a hundred countries voiced their recognition of the newly formed Syrian opposition alliance at the meeting of the “Friends of Syria” in Morocco on Wednesday.

The only way out for Moscow now will be to seek to strike a deal with the United States, and Russian diplomats are certainly adept at this. To Russia’s comfort, the US also happens to be grappling with a complex situation.

The Syrian rebels have forced the pace of the regime change in Damascus and have virtually taken the initiative away from the hands of the democratic opposition to the regime. The US scrambled (with help from Qatar) somehow to cobble together the recently formed opposition alliance, but, as Josef Stalin once wondered about the Pope in the Vatican, this entity is toothless since it has no control over the fighters, whereas muscle power is the crucial asset when anarchy prevails. The parallel with Afghanistan breaks down at this point, although the need of a “Bonn conference” (December 2001) to hoist a new regime remains.

In the bargain, there is real danger that radical groups amongst the rebel fighters may take undue advantage. This possibility worries Washington too – it already faces a searing experience in Libya. In turn, this “shared concern” provides a window of opportunity for Russian diplomats. Moscow would do well to amplify a convergence of interests with Washington over Syria.

But a “trade-off” over Syria in the best traditions of the Russian-American tango may be impossible to swing because Russia will be negotiating from a position of disadvantage. Put differently, Moscow’s need to work with the US is doubtless far greater today than Washington’s need for Russian help – and the Americans would know it.

A strategic setback 
However, Moscow holds one trump card, namely, the specter of the stockpiles of chemical weapons in Syria that haunts international security if that country were to unravel. It stands to reason that Russian intelligence would have a fair idea as regards the location of Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles. This intelligence becomes a “tradable” commodity in the rapidly evolving situation.

Bogdanov may have done some shrewd kite-flying on Thursday when he openly began speculating publicly on this explosive issue, which is on everyone’s mind. “Everyone is afraid of that, including our American partners,” he said, adding that militants were already gaining control of Syrian military arsenals on the ground, including anti-aircraft missiles.

That could also happen to chemical weapon stockpiles, Bogdanov said. He added, “This has already happened in Aleppo with the seizure of a plant manufacturing chemical components that can be used for terrorist purposes.”

Russia can hope to play on the Manichean fears in Washington. The US decision to brand the Nusra Front as an al-Qaeda group underscores that the Obama administration keeps one eye on Libya. Again, the US hasn’t yet taken the final plunge to arm the rebel fighters. In fact, state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland has since clarified that Obama’s announcement on Tuesday was “a political step, not a legal step” and is aimed at giving “a boost to those working for a political transition in Syria” and “those planning a future that is democratic, that is pluralistic, that is unified”.

Therefore, what emerges, on balance, is that there could still be significant convergence between the US and Russia, emanating out of the two countries’ “common concerns” as to what happens in the morrow of a regime change in Syria, and this convergence may well gain critical mass on a political track in the coming days or weeks.

From the US viewpoint, the best outcome in Syria would have been a military takeover, which would leave the state structures intact – as in Egypt – and open the door to expansion of American influence in Damascus to steer the country toward an agreeable democratic outcome. Russia wields big influence over the Syrian military.

Herein lies the basis of some optimism for Russian diplomacy. The Obama administration has just invited the head of the Syrian opposition coalition, Moaz al-Khatib, to visit Washington for consultations. Moscow also made an overture this week to Qatar, the master-blaster in Syria, with the announcement that its energy company Gazprom will open an office in Doha.

What remains to be seen is whether at the end of it all, Russia manages to retain its naval base in Tartus, which is its only presence outside the Black Sea. But the current state of US-Russia relations would preclude that from happening. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton alleged only last week that a process of “re-Sovietization” is under way in Eurasia and the US is gearing up to thwart it. She was referring to Russia’s projects of the Customs Union and the Eurasian Union.

President Vladimir Putin felt provoked to react sharply that Clinton was speaking “nonsense”. Washington has just imposed humiliating restrictions on visits by Russian officials implicated in human rights violations.

All in all, therefore, it is highly probable that Washington will terminate the Russian naval presence in Tartus in the post-Assad phase, and may think of evicting Russia altogether from the Eastern Mediterranean. The US is already blocking Russia’s bid to join hands with Israel in developing the massive Leviathan gas fields.

In any case, Turkey also wants Russia out of the Eastern Mediterranean. Thus, regime change in Syria becomes a serious strategic setback for Russia. No doubt, Moscow’s ability to influence the historic transformation of the Middle East has been seriously impaired.

Menn uten skikkelig rettsikkerhet i Norge, voldtektsbekyldinger, justismord, og Kristina Torbergsen

Kvinnekampen har gått altfor langt. Det er på tide at menn nå står opp for sine rettigheter og begynner å sette en stopper for det groveste av det.


I dag kan vi lese i media at en far som er dømt for voldtektav sin mindreårige datter til seks års fengsel, IKKE ER SKYLDIG LIKELVEL! Grunn: Den nå 16 årige datteren har innrømmet at det var løgn det hun fortalte om overgrepene.


Vi står igjen med en forkvaklet domstol som begikk et skjendig justismord. Det forelå ingen bevis i saken, bare det jenta hadde sagt til mer eller mindre oppegående helsepersonell. Justismord! Det må bli slutt på den tiden at menn kan dømmes bare pga jenters eller kvinners påstander, helt uten bevis av noe slag, som var tilfellet i denne saken. Fagdommerne i saken må antas å være ytterst inkompetente som kan dømme en mann på så spinkelt grunnlag. De bør slutte som dommere og finne seg noe annet å gjøre.


Vi har nettopp hatt Roger Ingebrigtsen saken der påstandene fra Kristina Torbergsen ble slukt rått av forvirrede medier og politikere. Det er enda et tilfelle av at menn må settte foten ned for hvor langt kvinner kan gå i ondskapsfull offentlig adferd mot menn.


Det stinker av begge disse sakene lang vei. I den ene saken stinker det av rettsystemet og  såkalt sakkyndig helsepersonell, som begår justismord. I den andre saken stinker det av Roger Ingebrigtsen saken der en mann er blitt offetlig henrettet utelukkende med basis i påstander fra Kristina Torbergsen. Det stinker av medias behandling av saken. Det stinker av APs behandling av saken, der ingen tvil er kommet fram om kvinnen, hennes motiv, og sannhetsgehalten i hennes konspiratoriske offentlige påstander, helt uten opp-backing av bevis.

Shia Days of Rage: The Roots of Radicalism in Saudi Arabia 1

Riyadh’s granting women the right to vote is a prime example of how it intends to respond to calls for political reform: make promises but avoid tangible change.

Shia protest in Saudi Arabia. (Courtesy Reuters)

Saudi Arabia may have at first appeared untouched by the 2011 Arab uprisings, but the apparent calm belies a simmering crisis. Shia and Sunni sectarian tensions are arguably at the highest level since the 1979 Iranian Revolution, and a harsh government crackdown is mobilizing radical elements in the Shia community and undercutting its pragmatists. The United States faces no shortage of crises in the region, but it would do well to not let this one slip too far off the radar. Aside from obvious concerns about human rights and reform, the continued unrest in the predominantly Shia Eastern Province of the Sunni-led kingdom presents a potential strategic threat to U.S. interests. Iran has historically sought to aid beleaguered Shia communities in its neighborhood, and, as evidenced by the 1996 Khobar Towers bombing and, more recently, the cyberattack on Saudi Aramco in August of this year, it has the capability and intent to hit Saudi Arabia. Currently, there is little evidence of Iranian material support of Shia groups in the Eastern Province, but continued unrest could change that. The mounting frustrations of Saudi youth could translate into a ready pool of recruits, or prompt the reincarnation of the Saudi Hezbollah.

Comprising ten to 15 percent of the kingdom’s population, Saudi Shia have long faced religious discrimination, political marginalization, and economic hardship. Although the Eastern Province contains the majority of Saudi oil reserves, the Shia population there has yet to benefit economically, especially when compared with Sunnis living in the central Najd region, the historic seat of Saudi power. It is therefore unsurprising that the 2011 revolts in Tunis and Cairo reverberated strongly in the east.

Riding on the wave of change in the region, moderate Shia activists rekindled long-dormant relationships with Sunni reformists in the Najd and Hijaz provinces and planned countrywide protests for March 11, 2011. But the so-called Day of Rage fell apart, undermined by mutual distrust among Sunnis and Shia. As the day approached, Web sites and Facebook pages appeared proclaiming uniquely Shia demands and calls for reform. A number of Web-based Sunni activists lambasted the Shia organizers for pursuing a narrowly sectarian agenda that diluted the overall movement and played into the hands of the regime. This development later proved a watershed in the fracturing of the opposition and, arguably, the demise of the Saudi Spring.

On March 9 and 10, approximately 600 to 800 Shia protesters demonstrated in the eastern, Shia-dominated city of Qatif denouncing the regime’s recent arrest of the popular Shia cleric Tawfiq al-Amer and other activists. The police responded with percussion grenades and rubber bullets, provoking further anger and demonstrations across the east. The moderate Shia Web site Rasid tried to distance itself from these Shia-specific, violent protests that overshadowed cross-sect efforts. But by the end of March, hope of a Sunni-Shia Saudi Spring had been extinguished by sectarianism.

In an attempt at reconciliation, the governor of the Eastern Province, Prince Mohammad bin Fahd, and his deputy met with a delegation of young people and clerics in late March 2011 and reportedly promised to redress Shia grievances. At the same time, however, the regime began a concerted crackdown, maintaining a near constant presence of security forces, helicopters, and armored vehicles on the streets of Qatif. On November 2, 2011, the spokesman for the Saudi Interior Ministry announced that Eastern Province police would set up a Facebook presence and assign a special team to monitor social media in the region. The alleged purpose of the Facebook page was to encourage tips and information from anonymous informants regarding outlawed activity in the region. Nearly simultaneously, the regime blocked a number of Eastern Province Web sites.

Aside from the deleterious effects on living conditions, the security and media crackdowns have had far-reaching consequences for the Shia political movement. They have hastened the declining credibility of the pragmatic, pro-dialogue approach of the Islahiyyin (“reformists”), a moderate Shia opposition movement led by Sheikh Hassan al-Saffar. These pragmatic Shia interlocutors, with whom the Saudi regime has traditionally dealt, are being replaced by something entirely new and more worrisome. Frustrated with the moderates’ failure to deliver tangible results, younger Shia activists have adopted more violent, militant tactics. In a 2012 sermon, Saffar acknowledged this rage with surprising candor, warning that, “although previous generations tolerated and adapted to problems, the current generation is different.”

Responding to this pressure, Islahiyyin leaders have made statements that are increasingly strident and critical of the regime. A longtime supporter of King Abdullah’s ten-year “national dialogue” project, which encourages communication among religious sects, Saffar has never condoned or incited violence. But younger activists have forced him into a more rigid position. For example, in one Friday prayer sermon last year, he directly attacked the Interior Ministry for its heavy-handed response to Shia rioting, arguing that the regime’s statements facilitated an atmosphere of sectarianism. In February 2012, he delivered a sermon obliquely attacking the hypocrisy of the royal al-Saud family in criticizing the bloodletting in Syria while causing civilian deaths in the Eastern Province. These statements, in turn, provoked an even sharper escalation of anti-Shia rhetoric in the press from Sunni and pro-regime voices.

The Saudi regime has long isolated radical Shia groups while at the same time painting the broader Shia movement as Iranian-backed, thus separating Shia from like-minded, pro-reform Sunnis. An October 2011 pro-regime editorial in al-Hayat, the Saudi daily newspaper, exemplifies this strategy. The piece called for the kingdom’s authorities to crush allegedly Iranian-backed Shia protests in the Eastern Province, arguing that “it is time to admit that there are fighting groups in al-Qatif that have been trained in Iran, Syria, and Lebanon, and to start liquidating and purging them from the country.” Since the article appeared last year, more than 16 protesters have been killed.

Far from isolating the radical Shia current, the security crackdown has only emboldened and popularized it. Perhaps the most significant turning point was the arrest of the popular Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr this past summer — an event that shook the region to its core, prompting a stream of violent clashes that has yet to abate. Hailing from a clerical family with a long pedigree of anti-Saud activity, Nimr has been steadily gaining popularity since 2008. His rhetoric is unapologetically pan-Shia; he has frequently spoken of a Shia ummah (nation) and has hinted that he would advocate a separate Shia state if reforms are not forthcoming. Above all, however, he advocates for dignity and justice. These themes resonated strongly among the youth of his hometown, Awamiya, an impoverished Shia village that suffers from endemic unemployment and is now a hotbed of antigovernment sentiment.

In the summer of 2012, Nimr’s fiery sermons crossed an unofficial red line in the eyes of the Saudi regime. On June 27, he delivered a rousing tirade against the royal family, rejoicing in the recent death of the much-feared interior minister, Prince Nayef, and imploring God to take the lives of the “entire al-Saud, Khalifa, and Assad dynasties.” On July 8, Saudi security forces attempted to arrest him; a car chase and firefight ensued. Nimr was shot, wounded in the thigh, arrested, and taken into custody. Compelled to start his tenure with a firm hand, the then-newly appointed interior minister, Prince Ahmed bin Abdul al-Aziz, promptly issued a scathing statement deriding Nimr as mentally ill.

After this incident, Shia activists on Facebook called for countrywide protests, while moderate leaders encouraged calm in sermons and statements. 40 Shia clerics across the ideological spectrum — from the moderate Shiraziyyin to the pro-Iranian Khat al-Imam — implored Shia youth to remain steadfast and cease all violence to avoid playing into the hands of the regime. But the Shia clergy has appeared increasingly anemic and out of touch; social media — not the sermon — has become the ascendant channel of political communication in the Shia east.

On July 12, 2012, the Saudi oppositionist Web site al-Jazira al-Arabiya posted a statement from a hitherto unknown opposition group called the Youth of al-Qatif Revolution, which threatened to “assault police stations and blow up oil wells” if Nimr were not released. Hundreds of Shia protesters took to the streets, and clashes with security forces in Awamiya and Qatif have become an almost nightly occurrence.

Finally, the anti-Shia crackdown has not even placated the country’s Sunnis. The summer and fall of 2012 saw continuous anti-regime Sunni protests in Qassim, a longtime stronghold of conservative Salafism. This simultaneous unrest in the center and east — and what it reveals about the breadth of opposition in the country — was not lost on Saudi Arabian activists on social media. As one popular Twitter user noted: “Qassim & Qatif both having protest in such short time apart ought to be making (the Saudi government) very nervous.” Another warned: “The 2 most opposite cities in Saudi, Qassim and Qatif are both protesting. If ppl A to Z want change, current system won’t stand much longer.”

The protests may not be an imminent threat to the Saudi government, but their persistence and increasing violence show that the status quo cannot be taken for granted. By ignoring long-standing grievances, playing the sectarian card, and unequivocally treating the opposition as Iranian-backed radicals, the regime is aggravating the very situation that it would like to defuse.