Video Nasties

Apparently there’s a video doing the rounds on social media showing the beheading of one of the Scandinavian girls who were murdered in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains a few days ago. Yesterday I read the tweets of people who for some unknown reason had tracked it down and watched it; all severely regretted it, with some sounding as though they’re never going to be able to get the images and screams out of their heads.

I have no idea why people would watch a video like that: if you’re an ordinary person who’s never been exposed to extreme trauma, it’s going to damage you in some way (if not, you’re probably a psychopath). I skimmed a written description of what happens in the video and that was more than enough for me: it’s horrific. It’s a rather odd world we live in where people are kicked off social media for expressing unapproved opinions, but jihadist beheading videos circulate freely.

When I was in Nigeria a video did the rounds on Facebook of two Nigerian men who’d been caught by a mob in Port Hartcourt accused of stealing laptops. They were stripped naked, beaten unconscious, and set on fire. I watched it unawares, as did a few of my colleagues. Later we discussed it, and all of us lost sleep over it. It’s why I avoided watching the video of ISIS burning the Jordanian pilot to death, I knew it would damage me psychologically.

Bizarrely, reading Twitter yesterday reminded me of the YouTube phenomenon from some years back called “2 Girls 1 Cup Reactions”. 2 Girls 1 Cup was a horrific video in which two Brazilian girls did some seriously disgusting things with one another; the “reactions” videos filmed people watching it while not showing the actual video (they’re easy to find on YouTube still; the video itself is described here on Wikipedia). People literally threw up on camera while watching it, and I thought any video which makes people do that is one I want to avoid. Similarly, if people are on Twitter saying they’re still shaking hours after watching a real-life snuff film in which a young woman screams for her mother while being beheaded, it’s one I hope I die without seeing.

Finally, whereas the two women were probably a bit naive to go hiking in the Atlas Mountains alone, and their Scandinavian background probably didn’t prepare them well for the dangers in the wider world, I think it’s a bit unfair to criticise them for not expecting to encounter jihadis. Morocco is a pretty safe place, and although tourists are warned parts of the Atlas Mountains are a bit sketchy in terms of being robbed, they are nonetheless a popular destination for thousands of hikers who return unharmed. I guess the girls were more unlucky than naive, although naivety certainly played a part. I said much the same when those cyclists were murdered in Tajikistan earlier this year.

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‘Tis the season to be murdered

This is a surprise, eh?

France has issued a maximum level of alert as police hunt a gunman who opened fire at a Christmas market in the eastern city of Strasbourg.

Three people were killed and 13 wounded, eight of them seriously.

People being attacked by a murderous lunatic at a Christmas market in Europe? This is becoming as much a tradition as mince pies, carol singing, and bad jumpers. And wait, we’re not done with the surprises just yet:

The gunman, 29, known to authorities as a suspected extremist, escaped after reportedly being injured.

Of course he was also known to authorities, they don’t like to be caught with their pants down chasing an unknown terrorist. That would be embarrassing. Can we assume the “suspected” modifier will now be removed from his file?

Some 350 officers are involved in the search for the gunman.

There was a time when murderers on the run had their name and photo distributed across the lands to aid their capture. Now their names are withheld from the public in case the earth’s rotation is disturbed by the simultaneous eye-rolling of a hundred million people.

A picture is beginning to emerge of the suspected attacker, although a motive is still not known.

And may never be known. Yeah, yeah, we’ve heard it before.

BFM TV described him as a “repeat offender” and “delinquent”, adding he was part of known extremist networks in the city.

So there are “known extremist networks” in Strasbourg? That’s comforting news. Do the authorities intend to do anything about them any time soon? If this statement from the president of the European Parliament is any guide, I’ll not be holding my breath:


Yes, “let us move” on even though the gunman has yet to be caught and the victims’ bodies are still warm. Naturally the Parliament won’t be intimidated by terrorist attacks because the elites inside are protected by armed guards. But the rest of “us”? Well, best stay away from provocative Christmas markets, eh?

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Virtue-signaling and derangement in the wake of a massacre

Over the weekend a lunatic walked into a synagogue in Pittsburgh, PA and shot dead 11 Jews who were at worship. It quickly transpired that the murderer was a far-right headcase who thought the Jews were responsible for all America’s ills, including mass immigration. His social media accounts show he detested Trump, believing him to be in thrall to the Jews and not doing enough to halt their nefarious plans. The answer, he believed, was to murder a bunch of elderly Jews.

Despite the motivations of the perpetrator, and the fact that Ivanka Trump is Jewish having converted to get married, liberals and fake conservatives across America are blaming the attack on Trump. The reaction of non-American Jews wasn’t much better. Here’s a British chap who writes for the Jewish Chronicle:


Sugarman’s timeline is filled with how he mourns for his co-religionists in the US, yet the sanctity of the still-warm bodies is not so great that he can’t stand atop them to virtue-signal about Trump. My first question is why a journalist would think it appropriate to start talking about gun laws before the smell of cordite has gone from the air. Secondly, what is wrong with Trump’s response that if the worshipers had been protected with arms, things would have gone differently? Europeans love to scoff at the unsophisticated, redneck Americans who think armed protection is the answer to such massacres, but I used to walk by a Jewish centre one street over from my apartment in Paris on a daily basis. And have a guess what? It was guarded throughout the day by two soldiers wearing combat gear and each carrying a FAMAS. The protection was brought in after the kosher supermarket shootings in Paris which took place two days after the Charlie Hebdo massacre. I understand that many synagogues and Jewish cultural centres across Europe now have armed guards stationed outside, yet none of these leave British Jewish journalists unable to find words to express their hatred of the head of government. We needn’t think too hard as to why that is.

Laurie Penny, who is apparently now in the US involved with writing a TV show, has quickly learned which drum to bash in her new career:

If Trump’s speaking at a political rally shows he is rather callous towards Jews, I wonder what we should make of Laurie’s hit-piece on Ivanka which begins:

IVANKA TRUMP HAS WRITTEN a book about female empowerment, and it is about as feminist as a swastika-shaped bikini wax.

Because nothing represents solidarity with Jews like mentioning swastikas when attacking one in print.

There is also a lot of sentiment like this:

It’s hard to tell whether he genuinely thinks this, or whether it’s just an excuse to show his dislike for Trump. Emanuel Miller is a generally decent sort, but anti-Trump derangement infects many otherwise sensible people. Now Miller lives in Israel, and he will be fully aware of the opprobrium that was heaped on Trump when he moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Hell, the UN even held a special session to denounce it. He will also be fully aware that Trump, by scrapping the nuclear “deal” and re-imposing sanctions, severely clipped the wings of Israel’s greatest threat, Iran. He’s also halted funding to the Palestinians for using the money to buy weapons which they then use to attack Israel.

So we have Trump attracting the world’s wrath for brazenly pro-Israeli policies, while Jews wring their hands that he’s “careless” with words. Well here’s the thing. If Trump wasn’t indifferent to the supposed consequences of his words, and worried about what people would think of him, the embassy would still be in Tel Aviv, the Iranians would still have their deal, and workers in Palestinian rocket-factories would still have their dental plans. They’re both sides of the same coin: you could have that nice man Obama back – who of course was never careless with words or empowered extremists, oh no – but how good was he for the world’s Jewry? The Mullahs seemed rather fond of him, at any rate.

Sadly, a lot of commentary following the synagogue shooting consists of people lining up to virtue-signal over Trump, even if it means denying that he’s one of the most pro-Jewish presidents in living memory. Some have gone further, seizing the opportunity to equate any criticism of George Soros as anti-semitic and shut down all discussion over immigration. These are the much the same people who give fawning coverage to Linda Sarsour, ignore Louis Farrakhan, and wave Palestinian flags at BDS rallies.

In summary, it’s probably best to ignore most of what’s being said about the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue, even by people who are normally sensible; it’s too much effort to separate genuine opinions from anti-Trump derangement and in-group virtue-signaling. Finally, there’s this:


If only the Jews had a word for chutzpah.

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Post Abandoned

Earlier this year I wrote of the bravery of Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame, the French policeman who traded places with a woman being held hostage by an Islamist terrorist and paid for it with his life. I contrasted his actions with those of the police who responded to the school shooting in Florida by standing well back as children got murdered. In the comments, Julia M remarked:

I cannot imagine a British policeman doing this.

To which I responded:

I could perhaps imagine an ordinary PC acting on impulse and in defiance of his orders doing this, but it’s not what Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame did. It appears he, a senior officer, took the sober and measured decision to swap places with the hostage believing he thought it was his duty to be placed in danger rather than her, an ordinary civilian.

The idea of a senior British policeman of similar rank swapping places with a hostage in an ongoing situation is literally incredible.

Well, we no longer need to speculate, because we now have an account of what a senior British policeman did during a terror attack:

The acting Metropolitan Police commissioner locked himself in his car as he watched terrorist Khalid Masood kill one of his colleagues in Westminster because he had “no protective equipment and no radio,” he has told an inquest.

Sir Craig Mackey, now deputy commissioner of Scotland Yard, said that despite witnessing Masood “purposefully” lunge at everyone in his path with a butcher’s knife, he realised that had he got out of his vehicle, he would have been a target.

Instead, he remained in his black saloon car, within the Palace of Westminster, and witnessed Masood, 52, fatally stab PC Keith Palmer.

I might forgive this coward if the terrorist had been mowing people down with an AK-47, but if one of your colleagues is being attacked by a lone man with a butcher’s knife you go and bloody help him. Unless the knifeman is very well trained, his odds of doing damage are considerably shortened in a two-on-one situation, and if it’s three-on-one he’ll be lucky to survive.

“I could see Pc Palmer moving backwards and then go down,” he told the jury at the Old Bailey.

“The next thing I could see is the male over Pc Palmer and I saw two stab attempts into this side of the torso.

“The attacker had one of those looks where, if they get you in that look, they would be after you.

“He seemed absolutely focused on getting further down and attacking anyone who was in his way.”

Remember, this man has been knighted by the Queen; shift over Brave Sir Robin, we have a new benchmark.

“First and foremost I was a police officer so I went to open the door to get out,” he added.

I wanted to get stuck in, honestly.

“One of the police officers by the side of the car quite rightfully, said: ‘Get out, make safe, go, shut the door,’ which he did, and it was the right thing to do.

Run, hide, tell.

“That’s when I thought: ‘I have got to start putting everything we need in place. We have got no protective equipment, no radio,

And no risk assessment has been carried out. Plus, wouldn’t any intervention have been a bit racist?

I have got two colleagues with me who are quite distressed,’ so we moved out.”

Your colleagues were “quite distressed” so you drove off leaving a murderer running rampage in the streets? What would Lt-Col Arnaud Beltrame have done, do you think?

The officer’s widow, Melissa, accused the Metropolitan Police of leaving her unarmed husband to die with no protection, failing to take responsibility for its mistakes and failing to investigate his death properly.

I can only imagine how she feels having heard her husband’s boss fled in his car because he wasn’t properly equipped. Was PC Palmer properly equipped? Contrast the behaviour of Mackey with that of the MP Tobias Ellwood:

Tobias Ellwood MP, 52, heard the crash as terrorist Khalid Masood drove his car into the perimeter fence of Parliament on March 22 last year, then heard “shouting and screaming” as pedestrians fled.

Mr Ellwood, who reached the rank of captain in the Royal Green Jackets during a military career before entering politics, said he saw “two waves of people” running away from the scene of the attack “in a panic”.

“I ran into one group of people shouting and screaming with panic in their eyes”.

Asked if he knew he was heading into potential danger, Mr Ellwood replied: “very much so”.

The MP added: “There is always a concern of a secondary attack. It didn’t cross my mind but my brother was killed in a secondary attack in Bali.”

Mr Ellwood was among the people who offered medical assistance to PC Palmer as he lay gravely wounded on the ground.

So we’ve seen considerable bravery from a man under no obligation to act, and appalling cowardice and abandonment of duty from a man who struts around with a chest full of medals.

Welcome to the modern ruling class.

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At last, some proper information

Now this is more like it:

Two Russian nationals have been named as suspects in the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia.

The men, using the names Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov, are thought to be officers from Russia’s military intelligence service, the PM said.

The Metropolitan Police said the two men arrived at Gatwick Airport from Moscow on 2 March and stayed at the City Stay Hotel in Bow Road, east London.

On 4 March they travelled to Salisbury – having also visited for reconnaissance the previous day – where Mr Skripal’s front door was contaminated with Novichok.

Officers believe a modified perfume bottle was used to spray the door.

The pair flew from Heathrow to Moscow later that night.

See, this is what was missing during the outrage 6 months ago: evidence. Instead, we had the PM telling everyone it was most definitely Russia behind the attack, based on “intelligence information” and the fact the substance was created in the USSR and a Russian lab the most likely source. Now we have two named individuals and their movements, the British government position looks a lot more credible. However, it’s come rather too late. Here’s the explanation why:

The BBC’s security correspondent Gordon Corera said he understood the authorities identified the pair “a while back” and “may also know their real names” and had hoped by not making this information public, they could intercept them should they continue to travel.

I don’t buy this. The Russians might have bungled this hit, but I doubt they let their assassins wander around the world willy-nilly in the immediate aftermath. I suspect it’s more likely they were told to sit tight in Moscow for at least a year. I’m more inclined the reason this is being released now is because they’ve only just worked all this out, and didn’t have half this information back in March. This is interesting though:

Police said Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley were later exposed to Novichok after handling a contaminated container, labelled as Nina Ricci Premier Jour perfume.

Mr Rowley told police he found the box containing the small bottle and an applicator – all found to be counterfeit – in a charity bin.

He tried to put the two parts together and got some of the contents on himself. His partner Ms Sturgess applied some of the contents to her wrists and became unwell.

Again, this sort of information – how, where, and when – is important when establishing credibility. Thus far, this is the first time the public has been told anything other than “trust us”.

Speaking in the Commons, Prime Minister Theresa May said the government had concluded, from intelligence provided by UK agencies, that the men were part of the GRU intelligence service.

The poisoning was “not a rogue operation” and was “almost certainly” approved at a senior level of the Russian state, she said.

Sorry, but Theresa May has no way of knowing this. If anyone claims to know the intricate workings of the Russian state, including the degree with which government bodies wander off the reservation, they’re either lying or they subscribe to the all-seeing all-knowing Putin fallacy. The biggest problem I have with Putin ordering this attack is I don’t see any upside for him; yes, I’ve heard all the reasons multiple times, and I find none of them convincing. I’m also skeptical that when the Russian government gets its top assassins to knock someone off, they bungle it. There’s probably a lot more to this story than anyone outside of Russia knows, but I guess it doesn’t matter now.

He said there was little expectation that the pair would end up in a British court, but releasing the evidence would instead add pressure with the intention of “deterring Russia from doing something similar again”.

Oh yes, because the Russians are big on shame, it features large in their culture. For example:

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s foreign policy adviser Yuri Ushakov told reporters the names of the Russian suspects “do not mean anything to me”.

He seems rattled.

The CPS is not applying to Russia for the extradition of the two men, as Russia does not extradite its own nationals.

Indeed, it’s in the constitution. Funny how Russia occasionally looks after its citizens rather better than free, enlightened nations like the UK.

The UK will meet the UN security council to discuss the case on Thursday.

Mrs May also said Britain would push for the EU to agree new sanctions against Russia.

But BBC diplomatic correspondent James Landale said many European countries would be “reluctant to tighten the screw on Russia”, fearing a loss of trade and energy.

Well indeed. Germany, for instance, has spent years sucking up to Russia and currently believe it is in their interests to side with Vladimir Putin over Donald Trump. Perhaps the real motivation behind Putin ordering a brazen Novichok attack was to see who would come to Britain’s aid, and who Germany and the EU would back. If so, it worked a charm.

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The British government: on the wrong side once again

This is pathetic:

The UK has suspended co-operation with the US over two Islamic State suspects.

Ministers had said they would share intelligence with the US that could lead to the men’s conviction, without opposing a death penalty sentence.

The two men are currently being held by Kurdish forces and the UK believes it cannot legally extradite them to face trial here.

This week it emerged that the US was preparing the ground to prosecute the men itself – and that it had asked the UK for information that would help convict them.

So what’s the problem? The men aren’t in British custody, the UK isn’t looking to try them, nor are they looking to extradite them. They’re simply sharing intelligence with an ally which could help with their prosecution. Now I can understand the British have abolished the death penalty, and I understand Britain doesn’t extradite people to places where they might be executed, but since when has the UK been obliged to withhold information as part of its opposition to capital punishment? If the British government has vital information on an American mass-murderer on trial in Texas, they’re supposed to keep it to themselves because he might be executed for his crimes? What’s the precedent for this, then? Is that the approach we took with Osama bin Laden?

Ah, here we go:

However the mother of one of the men has now launched a legal challenge to prevent such information sharing.

The Home Office has halted co-operation until a judge has had a chance to consider an application for judicial review.

Lawyers for the mother of El Shafee Elsheikh have now prepared detailed grounds challenging Mr Javid’s decision to share information with the US without a death penalty assurance – meaning a case could be before High Court judges in days.

They said the home secretary’s actions revealed “a clear and dramatic departure from the UK’s long standing international and domestic commitment to oppose the continuing exercise of the death penalty.”

If there is one group of people who wield greater influence than protected classes in western countries, it is the families of those protected classes once their son or brother stands accused of murder and other heinous crimes. Every time, you can be sure the government and their chattering-class supporters will bend over backwards to accommodate them. We saw this a few days ago when somebody named Faisal Hussain went on a shooting rampage in Toronto killing two and wounding thirteen, and the media fell over themselves to divine moral authority from the man’s parents, who wasted no time offering up excuses for their son.

Let’s not pretend this lawsuit is based on a principled opposition to the death penalty. It is a professional and coordinated exercise to let the government know that, no matter how heinous the crimes of a person may be, certain protected classes are off-limits for the usual treatment. What is most depressing is this can only work because there are enough ordinary people who, for a variety of reasons ranging from self-hatred to complete idiocy, support such stunts. What is even more depressing is this pathetic excuse for a government appears to be doing exactly what its sworn enemies are telling them to do. Contrast this with the contempt the government displays towards its own citizens, and you wonder, not for the first time, whose side they are on. If they can’t bring themselves to assist with the prosecution of notorious ISIS members because of a campaign launched by a gaggle of people who think they did nothing wrong and shouldn’t be punished, they’re not on my side, that much I do know.

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A Minor Incident in Toronto

Three days ago, a gunman opened fire in Toronto killing two people and injuring thirteen others. Oddly, the story disappeared from the front pages of the international press and in the BBC’s case remains buried in the list of regional news stories:

Canadian officials have identified the suspect in Sunday’s deadly shooting in Toronto as Faisal Hussain, 29.

I can’t think why this isn’t creating more media interest.

The Ontario Special Investigations Unit (SIU) said it was releasing his name due “to the exceptional circumstances of this tragic incident”.

And following serious pressure from the public who knew damned well there was only one reason why his name was being withheld.

In a statement released to various media outlets, Hussain’s family expressed their “deepest condolences” to the victims and their families for what they called “our son’s horrific actions”. ​

Since when have the thoughts of a murdering gunman’s parents been given airtime? It didn’t take long for Canadians to work out the statement was rather too professional in its presentation and timing:

The man who has presented himself as the point of contact for the family of Faisal Hussain is a professional activist who has reportedly committed himself to “framing a new narrative of Muslims in Canada” and creating a “national political movement.”

Shortly after the Ontario Special Investigations Unit revealed the identity of the Danforth shooter as 29-year-old Faisal Hussain, a news release was sent out to select media attributed to the “Hussain Family”.

Not that you’d learn this from the BBC. We do get this, though:

They said their son suffered from serious mental health challenges and had struggled with untreatable psychosis and depression most of his life.

Oh right, he was mentally ill. Sure he was. What are the chances nothing indicating this will appear on his medical records, and instead he had a healthy interest in ISIS, terrorism, and jihad? I’d say they’re high, but we’re never going to find out, are we? The Canadian authorities will be happy enough to lie through their teeth and parrot his parents’ spokesman in dismissing it as a terrible tragedy, rather like a tree falling on someone’s head in a gust of wind. Right on cue, here’s Canada’s PM:

Why, it’s just one of those things, isn’t it? Best we all move swiftly on. Even the folk in charge of the Eiffel tower can’t be bothered turning the lights off for this one. Perhaps, like me, they have jihad fatigue.

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And now it’s murder

Oh:

Police have launched a murder inquiry after a woman exposed to nerve agent Novichok in Wiltshire died.

Dawn Sturgess, 44, died in hospital on Sunday evening after falling ill on 30 June.

Charlie Rowley, 45, who was also exposed to the nerve agent in Amesbury, remains critically ill in hospital.

Theresa May said she was “appalled and shocked” by the death, which comes after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury.

Which comes four months after the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and his daughter. So, what are the likely scenarios here:

1. Putin ordered the Skripals murdered by Novichok, and four months later put the hit on a couple of nobodies in the same area. If someone – anyone – wants to come up with a plausible theory as to why he’d do this, I’m all ears.

2. Putin ordered the Skripals murdered by  Novichok, and somehow two nobodies ran into the same stuff by accident four months later. As Jason Lynch (who, incidentally, should be leading the investigation) points out in the comments, this is not implausible and consistent with a nerve agent being trampled around the place. However, unless a clear link between the two cases can be established, e.g. a common location between each victim, it’s going to be hard to convince people – especially Russians – that this is the same case. So far, it’s not looking good:

In a statement, the Met Police said the possibility the poisoning of the Skripals and Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley are linked is a “clear line of inquiry”.

A spokesman said the investigators are “not in a position to say whether the nerve agent was from the same batch that the Skirpals were exposed to”.

He also said: “There is no evidence that (Ms Sturgess and Mr Rowley) visited any of the sites that were decontaminated following the attempted murders of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.”

3. The two cases are separate attacks, and nothing to do with Putin.

Combined with my skepticism over the initial attack, I’m going with No. 3. I don’t know what the actual cause is – someone gone rogue at Porton Down? – but hopefully now a murder enquiry has been launched, we’ll find out:

Mr Basu said the death “has only served to strengthen our resolve to identify and bring to justice the person or persons responsible for what I can only describe as an outrageous, reckless and barbaric act”.

He said: “Detectives will continue with their painstaking and meticulous work to gather all the available evidence so that we can understand how two citizens came to be exposed with such a deadly substance that tragically cost Dawn her life.”

Now I hope this is true. But I don’t have much confidence that, should the evidence start pointing in a direction which might cause Theresa May and her government considerable embarrassment, it won’t be buried without trace. I suspect the outcome of the investigation will be an inconclusive fudge with just enough wriggle-room to keep blaming Russia.

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Starichok

Well this is interesting:

A man and woman found unconscious in Wiltshire were exposed to Novichok – the same nerve agent that poisoned ex-Russian spy Sergei Skripal, police say.

The couple, believed to be Charlie Rowley, 45, and Dawn Sturgess, 44, fell ill at a house in Amesbury on Saturday and remain in a critical condition.

[T]here is no evidence to suggest either visited the sites that were decontaminated following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal in March.

Now the British government, and many on this blog, declared that the use of Novichok in the Skripal case indisputably meant the substance came from Russia and therefore Putin’s government was behind the attack. Indeed, this is the precise accusation Theresa May levelled at Putin, who laughed it off. As readers may recall, I believe May’s actions were hasty and the Russians’ flippant response was possibly an indication it was nothing to do with them. This was poo-pooed on the grounds that only Putin could order a Novichok hit and had every reason to want Sergei Skripal dead.

So in light of these recent developments, I hope someone has a plausible reason as to why Putin – for it must surely be he – now wants two more people in Wiltshire killed with Novichok. It’s going to be somewhat embarrassing if we discover there are people other than Putin playing with Soviet-era nerve agents in the UK, isn’t it?

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Europe’s choices over Iran

A response from Germany following Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Thursday that Europe can no longer count on the United States to protect it, urging the continent to “take destiny into its own hands.”

“It is no longer such that the United States simply protects us, but Europe must take its destiny in its own hands. That’s the task of the future,” she said during a speech honoring French President Emmanuel Macron, according to Agence France-Presse.

This will be music to the ears of many Americans, who are wondering why the US remains committed to defending Germany from…well, who? Russia? Germans have made it quite clear they prefer Putin’s Russia to Trump’s America, and who else is there? Oh, but wait:

German defense spending will fall far short of levels demanded by President Donald Trump’s administration for years to come, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s defense minister said.

Those levels are actually NATO commitments; Trump’s demand is merely that Germany meets them. The problem Germany has is that it is dependent on the US for security (assuming it is actually required) and hates it, but they don’t hate it enough to reach in their pockets and pay for it themselves. Like a spoiled teenager who hates the rules in their parent’s house, they don’t want to move out either because that would involve hardship.

What will be interesting is the response of Germany, France, and the UK to this:

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif was in Moscow on Monday, as Russia tries to keep the Iran nuclear deal alive in the wake of Washington’s pullout, pushing it into rare cooperation with Europe.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he was scheduled to discuss how to try to save the nuclear deal with Zarif, the Interfax news agency reported.

Zarif’s tour also took him to Beijing at the weekend and will see him visit Brussels later in the week, as the international backers of the 2015 accord scrabble to save it.

“The final aim of these negotiations is to seek assurances that the interests of the Iranian nation will be defended,” Zarif said at a news conference with Lavrov.

Lavrov, meanwhile, said Russia and Europe had a duty to “jointly defend their legal interests” in terms of the deal.

A few months ago, Russia was accused – perhaps fairly – of conducting a chemical weapons attack on British soil, and there were expulsions of diplomats and lots of tough talk from European leaders about solidarity with Britain. Then a few weeks ago Russia’s client in Syria allegedly used poison gas against civilians and everyone went mental, with Britain and France joining the US in launching missile strikes against targets in Syria. Russia was a pariah nation run by a gangster regime, we were told, so it’s going to be very interesting whether the commercial interests of European businesses consign all this rhetoric to the dustbin. It’s going to be particularly interesting to see what Britain does, given Boris Johnson and Theresa May’s recent criticism of Russia. At least nobody is pretending it’s about nuclear security any more.

Something the media has failed to mention is the difficulty of doing business in Iran even without US sanctions in place. I can’t find the link now (Google search results are swamped by recent developments) but a few years ago one of the big Chinese companies effectively walked away from an Iranian oil and gas project having utterly failed to make any progress, citing the intransigence of the locals as the primary reason. Anyone who has read the history of Iran, particularly the bit concerning Britain’s dealings with Mohammad Mosaddegh over BP, will get a clear idea that doing business there is fraught with difficulties, not least because the Iranians are severely tough negotiators. There has been nothing preventing Chinese, Russian, or Turkish firms making hay in Iran in the absence of American and European countries for decades, but they haven’t, and for good reasons.

One of the main problems facing western companies concerns the ownership of Iranian companies. As is to be expected under such a regime, pretty much every major company is in some way owned by the government or powerful individuals connected to it. In many instances it is the The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) which controls the company. From Wiki:

IRGC first expanded into commercial activity through informal social networking of veterans and former officials. IRGC officials confiscated assets of many refugees who had fled Iran after the fall of Abolhassan Banisadr’sgovernment. It is now a vast conglomerate, controlling Iran’s missile batteries and nuclear program but also a multibillion-dollar business empire reaching almost all economic sectors. Estimates have it controlling between a tenth and around a third of Iran’s economy through a series of subsidiaries and trusts.

The Los Angeles Times estimates that IRGC has ties to over one hundred companies, with its annual revenue exceeding $12 billion in business and construction. IRGC has been awarded billions of dollars in contracts in the oil, gas and petrochemical industries, as well as major infrastructure projects.

Last October Donald Trump sanctioned the IRGC as a terrorist organisation, independently of the nuclear deal. Leaving aside the difficulty of executing major projects in Iran without falling foul of US sanctions on the IRGC, can you imagine having an IRGC-owned company as a partner or contractor? Would they carry out the work as per the contract? To whom would you turn if they didn’t? It’s hard enough doing business in Russia with companies run by well-connected gangsters; now imagine what it’s like contracting with the private army of the Ayatollahs.

Major European nations risk creating an enormous political and security rift with the US over this Iranian nuclear deal, all for the benefit of a handful of companies who reckon they can make money in Iran. The way they’re talking, and the way it’s being reported, you’d think the money was already in the bank. It’s not, and probably never will be. Politicians should heed this point.

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