Our enemy, our ally: Russia, supposedly our ally in the war on terrorism, continues to arm and support terrorist states, including Iraq. (Cover Story: Iraq War).
On Saturday, March 22nd, the Bush administration delivered a de-marche--a stern, formal diplomatic protest--to Russia's ambassador, Yuri Ushakov, regarding the presence of Russian military hardware and advisers in Baghdad. According to the AP, Russia "is putting American troops at risk by selling antitank guided missiles, jamming devices and night-vision goggles to Iraq."
In a March 24th TV interview, Colin Powell described the gear as "the kind of equipment that will put our men and women in harm's way.... It gives an advantage to the enemy, an advantage we don't want them to have." Administration spokesman An Fleischer informed the press that aid to Iraq included equipment provided by "a Russian company that produces GPS [Global Positioning System] jamming equipment," which would block satellite signals used to direct precision-guided bombs and missiles, and to coordinate troop movements. President Bush reportedly placed a personal phone call to President Putin to protest the aid to Iraq, only to be greeted with accusations that the U.S.-led attack was creating a "humanitarian catastrophe."
Given his government's bloody behavior in Chechnya, Putin was cast against type in his role as "humanitarian." Additionally, use of GPS jammers in Baghdad actually enhance the possibility of innocent casualties. "About eighty percent of the munitions used in the strike on Baghdad were precision-guided weapons that rely on GPS signals to hit their targets," observed Kyle Parker, Russia Program Director for the American Foreign Policy Council, in an interview with THE NEW AMERICAN. "The jamming doesn't stop the bomb from falling, it redirects it to a different target. So it could fall in the desert, or just as easily fall on a residential building."
According to Parker, the U.S. military believes that as many as 2,400 GPS jamming units were transferred to Iraq from Russia. During the first week of combat, only a handful of them--perhaps half a dozen--were destroyed in U.S. air strikes. This isn't the first time Iraq has used Russian jamming gear against U.S. pilots: Kuwait's AI-Qabas newspaper reported in 2000 that Iraqi forces had used two Russian-provided jamming devices to force U.S. fighter pilots to abort a patrol of a "no-fly" zone. In addition to the night-vision goggles and jamming equipment, a Russian arms firm reportedly provided Iraqis with Kornet antitank guided missiles (which Russia also sold to Syria in 1999). The March 31st Economic Timer of India reported that Iraq may have up to 1,000 of the lethal and lightweight antitank missiles.
The Bush administration's most arresting accusation was that Russians were on the ground in Baghdad assisting the Iraqis. "They [Russians] are there in Baghdad... trying to make the system work, the jamming system," an administration official told reporters on March 23rd. The advisers are reportedly officials of Aviakonversia, nominally private company headquartered in Moscow. But even in the post-Soviet era, the central government entirely con trols the Russian military-industrial complex, especially Russia's intelligence and security organs.
"The Russians reacted to this disclosure in time-honored fashion--deny, delay admit part of the truth, and then make counter-accusations," Kyle Parker told THE NEW AMERICAN. "First they denied that these companies [providing military support to Iraq] even exist. Then they admitted that they exist, hut insisted that they don't produce military hardware. Then they acknowledged that they do make military equipment, but told us that none of that gear is in Baghdad. At one point, the Russians even tried to blame Ukraine for this. And then, of course, they tried to change the subject to 'humanitarian' concerns in Iraq."
The Bush administration protest that Russia has been aiding Iraq brought to the surface the deep and extensive ties between the two countries. Russia remains Iraq's largest trading partner and a major market for Iraqi oil. In January, former Russian Premier (and former KGB spymaster) Yevgeny Primakov, a close friend of Saddam Hussein, visited Baghdad, supposedly for the failed purpose of arranging Saddam's peaceful exile. And as Parker notes, "Russian intelligence has an extensive network inside of Iraq, which was a major Soviet client during the Cold War, and there's a lot of concern in the Pentagon about possible intelligence collaboration between the Russians and Iraqis."
According to Yevgeny Krushchev, a Russia-based stringer for the Strategic Issues Research Institute, Iraq has recruited "unemployed Spetsnaz vets with Afghan and Chechnya experience" to aid in the war against the U.S.-led coalition. The Russian special forces operators, according to Krushchev, travel "to Egypt as tourists, get their visas rubber-stamped, and then move to Jordan to get their mission orders."
It's much more plausible to refer to these Spetsnaz troops as "deniable" assets, rather than merely unemployed -- particularly in light of ongoing Russian-Iraqi intelligence cooperation. The January 10th Washington Times reported that U.S. analysts had discovered evidence that Russia's SVR (the foreign service of the renamed KGB) "is covertly cooperating with Iraq's spy agencies."
Perhaps more troubling is that Russia, as Parker put the matter, "is giving support to Iran's nuclear program, which is an even bigger threat than Saddam. And Russia is also providing aid to practically every rogue state on the planet"--including Syria and North Korea.
None of this comes as a surprise to regular readers of THE NEW AMERICAN, which has repeatedly pointed out that the Soviet/Russian KGB created, and still controls, the international terrorist network. * Under the reign of "ex"-KGB officer Vladimir Putin, the Russian government--including the deniable commercial entities assisting the Iraqi war effort--is very much on the side of the terrorists.
* See "Terrorism's True Roots" in the December 3, 200 tissue of THE NEW AMERICAN and "The Power Behind Bin Laden" in the December 31,2001 issue. Both articles are available at www.thenewamerican.eom. Click on "Back Issues" and locate by date.
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|Author:||Grigg, William Norman|
|Publication:||The New American|
|Date:||Apr 21, 2003|
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