Monday, November 02, 2015

First China, Now Russia: US Navy Chief Debates European Escalation Amid "Fears For The Global System"

by Arthur Foxake

Is Russian Naval Blockade of Syrian coast aleady in place (Russia 'ships are white, US 'Naval Assets' are red) (Source)

A recent story in the ongoing saga of the drift towards global conflict (that we did not report at the time because it happened withle Ian was on holiday and managed to get the rest of us locked out of the account by hacking into it because he couldn't be arsed setting up his Google global ID. (It wasn't that, I don't like Google tracking me when I'm at home, spying on my vacations it totally off limits - Ian) America sailed warships close to China's reclaimed islands in the South Cina Sea, sparking a diplomatic incident.

To be fair to Washington, the Chinese have been regularly rattling The Pentagon's cage, while simultaneously the situation between the USA and Russia is worsening in the middle east. We have reported our fears that American foreign policy overreach has prompted the eastern alliance to decide it is time the USA was deposed as dominant world power.

In a shockingly quick confirmation of our gravest concerns, Admiral John Richardson, chief of naval operations, told The Financial Times that the navy was reassessing its position in the face of Russian activity, which stretches from the Black Sea and Mediterranean to the Pacific.

In the face of China's island-building in the South China Sea through which 30% of global trade passes, and Russia's naval activity in The Mediterranean (20% of global trade), Richardson warns, rather ominously, the "ambiguous motivations" of China and Russia has raised concern about the viability of a global system that claims to ensure freedom:

"It again perturbs that global system," he said, adding that "the current model... has been threatened?"

So what now? It is a good bet that despite Russia's denials, the Pentagon will use the alleged Russian ground campaign against ISIS in Syria, credible or not (Russia has support troops on the ground in Syria, as does the USA,) to get push through Congress an enabling act to send a "small at first, then bigger ground force of US troops" into Syria, you guessed it,"to fight ISIS", but in reality to do everything to prevent Russian troops from taking over key strategic positions.

What happens then? The Russian fleet has in 2014 stationed ships off Syria's main ports to convince washington that a groun invastion of syria was a bad idea, so that demonstrated a naval blockade of Syria eould be Putin's next tactical move, and with both US and Russian warplanes flting missions against ISIS and Al Nusra targets in Syria, and both superpowers now having, from their own POV, justification to put troops on the ground, what was until now a mere proxy war is about to become full blown land combat on Syrian soil, one which will soon involve both Russian and US ground, sea and airborne forces.

Should US battle cruisers, destroyers and/or aircraft then approach the Syrian coastline, pissing distance away from comparable Russian ships that could be the trigger for the next and final escalation.

And sure enough, as The FT reports, The US is debating whether to position more ships and naval assets in Europe as Russian warships and submarines operate at levels not seen in two decades, according to Admiral Richardson. The key to this now is not whether China offes support to its allies, Russia and Iran, but how much support they offer and what form that support will take.

Russians Say Aircraft Downed In Sinai Broke Up Due To 'Mechanical Impact'

by Big Fact Hunt

Egyptian emergency services staff examine the wreckage of the Russian Airbus 321 (Picture: The Guardian

We previously commented on the restraint shown by the Russian government in responding to what looked from the outset like a terrorist attack on Russian civilians and contrasted it with the typically paranoid and gung ho response of the Obama administration to the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine. As news of that incident broke you may remember, 'President' Obama was on television claiming the USA had irrefutable evidence that pro Russian rebels were responsible with the complicity of The Kremlin.

On Sunday, Russian officials confirmed that the Russian passenger jet which crashed in the Sinai Peninsula killing all 224 people on board “broke apart in the air.” Although we cannot of course be sure, that does seem to suggest that the plane exploded.

You will note the absence of finger pointing, accusations, provocation and threats in that statement. If only Obama and his 'liberal' and black activist cronies had been capable of behaving in such a sensible and gentlemanly way, perhaps the world would not now be plunging towards armed conflict. Had the wannabe God King (failed) Of The Entire Universe And Everything Else Besides not been so besotted with the delusional idea that powers like Russia and China would meekly surrender to Washington's diktat, the record of America's first black president might not have been such an abysmal catalogue of failure and humiliation.

But enough of America though they may feature in this story again as the facts are revealed. Obviously, as far as Russia is concerned, uncovering what actually happened to the Airbus A321 as it was flying to St. Petersburg from the resort of Sharm El Shiek could have serious geopolitical consequences. Claims made by ISIS that they were responsible were initially dismissed because it is know the ISIS rebels operating in Sinai have nothing more powerful than Manpad surface to air missiles, which are not capable of hitting an aircraft flying at 31,000 feet. Now, as flight data suggests thei aircraft exploded and broke apart in mid air, the possibility that terrorists had planted a bomb on board looks to be a serious contender. If there’s any evidence to corroborate the notion that the aircraft was “destroyed” by IS Sinai, then militants in Egypt will soon find themselves waving their AK47s at other Russian jets, but next time the Russian jets will be shooting back jets will be shooting back.

On Monday, Kogalymavia (the airline that operated the Airbus) was insisting that neither pilot error or a problem with the plane itself could possibly explain "accident." The only explanation, according to the airline, is a “mechanical impact on the plane.” Here’s what the Wall Street Journal reported:

Russia’s Kogalymavia said human and technical factors weren’t responsible for the crash, which killed all 224 people on board.

The Airbus A321 was flying to St. Petersburg, Russia, from the Egyptian resort of Sharm El Sheikh in Sinai, a popular destination for Russian tourists.

After climbing gradually to more than 33,000 feet, the jet dropped some 6,000 feet in about 22 seconds, according to preliminary radar data posted Saturday by a commercial website. In roughly 60 seconds, the data show the plane’s speed dropping to about 100 miles an hour, slower than the forward speed needed to continue safe flight. According to the data, which hasn’t been confirmed by investigators, the plane had been cruising at roughly 460 miles an hour.

Russia's Sputnik News claims that any concerns about the condition of the plane (as allegedly voiced by the co-pilot prior to the flight) were unfounded.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg examines the possibility that an explosive device was smuggled onto the jet:

While the Islamic State’s Sinai affiliate claimed responsibility for shooting the plane down, Egyptian and Russian officials said those claims weren’t credible. Only the most sophisticated ground-based missiles can reach 31,000 feet (9,450 meters), the cruising altitude at which the Metrojet encountered problems and began to fall.

That doesn’t rule out a bomb like the one that detonated aboard Pan Am Flight 103 as it was carrying holiday travelers from London to New York on Dec. 21, 1988. A small explosive device smuggled aboard in checked luggage blew out the side of the Boeing Co. 747 and it came apart over Scotland, according to the U.K.’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch report.

So far, neither Egyptian nor Russian officials have said there’s any evidence of a bomb. Explosive devices cause telltale pitting on nearby metal and also leave chemical residue, according to the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board, so an examination of the wreckage should tell investigators whether or not that was the cause.

One area investigators will pay close attention is damage to the Metrojet A321 when its tail struck the runway while landing in Cairo in 2001. The plane was repaired and returned to service, according to Ascend Worldwide Ltd., a London-based company that gathers data for insurers.

Russian aviation watchdog, Rosaviatsia, says it's premature to come to any conclusions