Sex for military secrets

"The prostitute “accidentally” drives into the targeted officer’s car, seduces him, secretly films him in the act, and blackmails him"

How does a prostitute make an officer reveal military secrets? Rather easily, according to evidence assembled against a group of Turkish officers who allegedly ran a sex-for-secrets ring.

The prostitute “accidentally” drives into the targeted officer’s car, seduces him, secretly films him in the act, and blackmails him. At least 80 people, 60 of them serving officers, have been arrested in connection with the “escort girls” case. This was launched in 2009 after police in the western port city of Izmir were tipped off by an anonymous e-mail. (Because of the highly sensitive nature of the case the prosecution has refused to reveal all of the evidence and a formal indictment is still pending.) Arrest warrants for 50 more officers were issued this month, after the shooting down of a Turkish fighter jet by Syria, on the ground that the honey trap was aimed at army personnel working at radar installations. Nineteen prostitutes have also been arrested pending trial.

The army’s pro-Islamic critics have eagerly seized on the case as further proof of its decadence. At least 362 serving military officers are being held in a separate case called “Ergenekon” on charges of seeking to overthrow the government of the Justice and Development Party (AK). The army, NATO’s second largest, has toppled four governments so far. In 2007 it threatened to do so again when the AK nominated Abdullah Gul as president. The fact that Mrs Gul covers her head was deemed by the generals to pose a threat to Ataturk’s republic. AK refused to budge, Mr Gul was duly elected and the army’s hold has been weakening ever since.

Yet even the generals’ fiercest detractors are beginning to worry that efforts to bring them under civilian control may be degenerating into a vendetta. Western observers agree that, although the army almost certainly contains coup-plotters, overzealous investigators may have doctored some of the evidence against officers and that innocents are being caught in their net. Paradoxically prosecutors have shown little interest in well-documented atrocities committed by the army during its scorched-earth campaign against Kurdish separatist rebels. Ihsan Tezel, a defence lawyer in the “escort girls” affair, insists that the prosecution’s case rests exclusively on the contents of the hard drive of a computer seized from the home of a businessman who is accused of being one of the ringleaders of the gang.

Another ongoing sex-for-secrets case brought against 54 officers in Istanbul has run into trouble. At a recent hearing, a 52-year-old woman named as one of the prostitutes broke down in tears as she produced a medical certificate proving that she was a virgin. And there is no evidence to suggest that the defendants were selling secret documents. The presiding judge has called for all of them to be acquitted. A final verdict is expected by the end of July.

Gareth Jenkins, an expert on the Turkish army, says that the barrage of cases has had a devastating impact on army morale. “How can they function effectively when they live in constant fear of being arrested?” he asks. Amid Turkish threats of retaliation against Syria, the question is growing more pertinent by the day.

Economist

U.S. House Passes Huge Defense Spending Bill

U.S. House of Representatives

U.S. lawmakers passed a sweeping $606 billion defense bill July 19 that exceeds a budget cap and faces a veto threat from the White House for failing to sufficiently rein in spending.

The bill would provide $518 billion for the Pentagon and an additional $88.5 billion for overseas contingency operations, specifically the war in Afghanistan and counterterrorism efforts, for the fiscal year that will begin Oct. 1.

The 2013 Defense Department spending bill had originally come in at $519 billion, an increase of $1 billion over 2012 spending, but in a surprise move just before the final vote, lawmakers approved an amendment bringing the spending into line with current figures.

It’s still roughly $2 billion more than President Barack Obama requested, and about $8 billion above the cap set by last year’s Budget Control Act.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed the bill by a vote of 326-90.

Democrats and Republicans are promising a major budget tussle this election year as the two sides square off over whether to raise taxes for wealthy Americans as well as slash federal spending in a bid to pare down the skyrocketing debt.

U.S. lawmakers failed to reach a deal last year over how to reduce the long-term deficit by $1.2 trillion, and default spending cuts are scheduled to kick in next January that could see the defense budget slashed by an additional $50 billion in 2013.

House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers praised the bill, saying it “supports and takes care of our troops at the highest level possible, keeps America at the forefront of defense technologies, and boosts key training and readiness programs to prepare our troops for combat and peacetime missions.”

“But in this environment of fiscal austerity, we must also recognize that even the Pentagon should not have carte blanche when it comes to discretionary spending,” the Republican Rogers said, insisting that the bill makes “common-sense decisions” on spending cuts.

Some Democrats were keen on making even deeper cuts, but three of their proposals to slash some $23 billion from the bill were rejected.

“The bloated Pentagon budget must be addressed if we are serious about solving our nation’s deficit,” said Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who authored several cost-saving amendments that were turned down.

But although Republicans have stood firm in their desire to see defense spending levels maintained, Lee had a partner in Republican Mick Mulvaney, who authored the measure that successfully cut the bill by $1 billion.

“Austerity to me means spending less,” the tea party conservative said.

The bill saw lawmakers express their disgust with Russia’s stance on Syria, as they voted overwhelmingly for an amendment that ends the Pentagon’s arms contract with a major Russian defense firm that provides weapons to the regime in Damascus.

House Democrat Jim Moran, who introduced the measure, lambasted the Pentagon for its contract with Rosoboronexport, which he said sells mortars, sniper rifles and attack helicopters to Syria.

The Pentagon has procured some 33 Mi-17 attack helicopters from the Russian firm  which are to be used by the Afghan military after U.S. operations wind down in Afghanistan.

“I should think it’s troubling to all of us that we are purchasing helicopters from a Russian firm that is directly complicit in the deaths of thousands of innocent Syrian men, women and children,” Moran said.

The Senate will now craft its version of the defense bill, but its fate is unknown. The House has passed several spending measures, but the Senate largely balks at them because they overshoot the spending agreement reached last year.

AFP

Syria: Rebels Seize Border Crossings with Turkey, Iraq

Syrian rebels took control of two major crossings on the border with Turkey and the main Abu Kamal post on the border with Iraq.

Syrian rebels took control of two major crossings on the border with Turkey and the main Abu Kamal post on the border with Iraq on Thursday, the first time opponents of President Bashar al-Assad have seized posts on the country’s frontiers.

Hakim al-Zamili, head of the security and defence committee in the Iraqi parliament, told a local television station that rebels were in control of the Abu Kamal border crossing, on the Damascus-Baghdad highway and one of the most important trade routes in the Middle East.

A Syrian rebel fighter and a opposition spokesman said fighters seized control of the customs and immigration buildings on the Syrian side of the northern Turkish frontier gate of Bab al-Hawa and activists said the Jarablus crossing also fell into rebel hands.

Rebels have tried to seize Bab al-Hawa, a vital commercial crossing, for 10 days but managed to oust soldiers after heavy fighting on Thursday, the rebel said.

Footage that activists said was filmed at Bab al-Hawa showed rebels climbing onto the roofs of buildings at the crossing and tearing up a poster of Assad.

“The army withdrew,” a rebel fighter who would only be identified as Abu Ali told Reuters on the Turkish side of the border, where he was being treated for wounds. “The crossing is under our control – they withdrew their armoured vehicles.”

Ahmad Zaidan, spokesman for an opposition group called the Higher Council of the Revolution’s Leadership, said rebels were already in charge of large areas around the border crossing.

The reported seizure of Bab al-Hawa, opposite the Turkish Cilvegozu gate in Hatay province, comes after the rebels said they were forced to withdraw earlier on Thursday after they attacked the gate, guarded by some 200 troops, but had to pull back when government helicopters were called in.

The raid was also meant to provide an opportunity for opposition sympathisers among the government soldiers to defect.

The rebels had planned for 80 soldiers to defect but only 14 managed to escape, Zaidan said. Most defections, he said, were pre-planned and sympathetic soldiers would know of an impending rebel attack.

The border crossing was closed after the attack and around 40 Syrian and Saudi trucks lined up on the Turkish side were unable to cross.

While cross-border trade and traffic has been greatly reduced as violence inside Syria has increased, border gates along the 910-km (560-mile) Turkey-Syria border have largely remained open and vehicles have been free to cross.

At Jarablus, 400 km (250 miles) northwest of Damascus, activists said military and intelligence personnel pulled out from the nearby border town of Ain al-Arab, inhabited by members of Syria’s Kurdish minority.

In neighbouring Iraq, Zamili urged the Iraqi government to send extra troops to the border, al-Iraqiya television said.

Iraq said earlier this month it had reinforced security along its 680 km (420 miles) desert border with Syria, making it Iraq’s most heavily guarded frontier.

A local police official at the Sinjar border crossing in northern Iraq said it was still under Syrian government army control: “We have heard no shooting, nothing has changed.”

The border raids came as rebels clashed with troops loyal to Assad in Damascus and a day after a bomb attack on a security meeting in the Syrian capital killed three of the president’s closest allies.

Turkey, which has called on Assad to step down, is giving sanctuary to opposition members and fighters on its soil and is providing shelter to more than 40,000 Syrian refugees fleeing violence at home.

WB

US Analyst: Damascus bombing ‘smells of Mossad’

 

An image grab from video, released by the Syrian opposition Shaam News Network on July 20, 2012 and dated July 19, 2012, shows an explosion alleged to be in Zabadani, outside Damascus. AFP photo

A former U.S. intelligence analyst said Israeli spy network Mossad could be linked to a fatal bombing that killed top security officials in Damascus on July 18.

An unidentified former analyst said “the entire attack smelled of Mossad,” according to Kasım Cindemir of daily Habertürk. Members of the Syrian opposition reportedly claimed Israel played an important part in the attack, with some saying they received satellite images from Mossad showing the building where Syria’s National Security Council meeting took place.

Free Syrian Army officials had said the attack was not a suicide bombing and they had placed the explosives in the meeting room “days ago.” Louay al-Mokdad of the opposition force reportedly said they had placed 10 kilograms of C-4 explosives in the meeting room beforehand and that they intended to hit the meeting on its originally planned date of July 20. Al-Mokdad said the meeting was brought forward one day and that President Bashar al-Assad did not take part in it as they had anticipated. Syrian Information Minister Umran al-Zuabi blamed foreign intelligence agencies for the bombing, saying “Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Israel” were the forces behind the attack.

Israel delivers 4 more Herons

Isreal has delivered 4 Heron unmanned reconnasissance aircraft to Turkey. TR Defence sources reported on Saturday.

Turkish-Israeli relations were heavily damaged following Israel’s deadly raid to Turkey’s Mavi Marmara aid ship in international waters, claiming the lives of 9 Turks and 1 American on board. Turkey recalled its ambassador to Israel and all military relations were frozen in response. Recently, relations further strained after an Israeli aircraft violated North Cyprus’ airspace,  a protectorate of Turkey, reportedly in order to gain intelligence on the latest oil & gas drilling developments and to gauge Turkey’s response to a possible hot conflict over the island of Cyprus.

Behind closed doors, however, Israel has seemingly started to try and repair relations. Turkey had sent to Israel 5 Heron-type unmanned aerial vehicles for maintenance and upgrades. But Israel had  thus far refused to return them to Turkey due to the restrained relations. Finally though, four of the five Turkish aircraft were delivered back to Turkey last week, reports indicated.

Condition and mission worthiness of the airplanes, though, is unknown and there still remains one more aircraft to be delievered.

 

SSM releases timetable for major projects

A prototype of T-129 Atak helicopters co-developed by Turkey and Italian AgustaWestland is seen during a test flight. First Atak is planned to be delivered by 2013.

Turkey’s Undersecretariat for the Defense Industry has disclosed a new five-year strategic plan, which finalizes completion dates for key projects including Turkish-made tanks, aircraft, satellites, destroyers, and helicopters, in a bid to lift the country’s defense industry into a higher league.

Altay, the Turkish-made tank project, will be complete by the end of 2015, the plan says. The first Turkish destroyer will be delivered in 2016. Atak, an attack helicopter, and Anka, an unmanned aerial vehicle, will be delivered in 2013 and 2014 respectively.

More than 280 projects have been carried out since 2011, according to the new 2012-2016 strategic plan. The total value of the contracts the undersecretariat signed last year was about $27.3 billion.

Top 10 Within Five Years

The plan envisages Turkey’s defense industry entering the top 10 worldwide within five years. The total turnover target for defense and aerospace industry exports for 2016 is $2 billion, out of an overall industry turnover of $8 billion, according to the plan.

Turkey will establish liaison offices in the Middle East, the Far East, the U.S., the Caucasus-Central Asia, and in Europe (EU-NATO). The undersecretariat will encourage collaboration between prime contractors, sub-industries, and small and medium enterprises, with universities and research institutions improving the technological base.

The Turkish government will support the establishment of testing and certification centers that meet international standards, in order to meet non-military and non-public sector demands. A land vehicle test center, a high-speed wind tunnel, an aerial vehicle flight test field, a missile systems test field, a satellite assembly center, and an integration and testing center will be among these facilities, according to the strategic plan.

Arms Projects Timetable

The strategic defense plan has laid out dates for the deadlines to manufacture the first domestically produced prototypes in the local defense industry.

  • A radar observation satellite will be ready by 2016.
  • The third-generation of the main battle tank, Altay, will be manufactured by the end of 2015.
  • The first destroyer will be delivered to the Turkish Navy by the end of 2016. Studies regarding development of a submarine will be completed by 2015.
  • Atak, a national attack helicopter, will be delivered by 2013. An all-purpose helicopter will be delivered by the end of 2016.
  • The mass production of a national infantry rifle starts in July.
  • Hürkuş, a training aircraft designed by TUSAŞ, and Anka, an unmanned aerial vehicle, will be delivered to the Turkish Air Force by the end of 2015 and 2014 respectively. And a jet motor prototype will be ready by 2016.
  • Long-range and medium-range anti-tank rocket systems will be in the inventory of the Turkish army by the end of 2012 and 2013 respectively.
  • Semi Active Laser Guided Missile, CIRIT, will be mass produced and integrated to ATAKs by the end of 2013.
  • Low and medium altitude air defense systems will be designed by the end of 2016.

Iran dismisses claims of military site clean-up

In this Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010 file photo, the reactor building of the Bushehr nuclear power plant is seen, just outside the southern city of Bushehr, Iran, Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2010. (AP photo)

Iran on Tuesday dismissed claims it was clearing away traces of suspected nuclear weapons research activities from a closed military site, saying the allegations were “propaganda”.

The sprawling Parchin military site, located 30 kilometres (20 miles) east of Tehran, “is conducting normal military activities,” foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told reporters in a regular briefing. “Declarations about the cleaning up of nuclear traces from this site — and those who are technically savvy know you cannot remove traces of such activity from an area — these declarations are propaganda,” he said.

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog, Yukiya Amano, said early last week that satellite images suggested there were unspecified “ongoing” activities at the Parchin base. Western diplomats said they suspected Iran was removing evidence from the site.

The International Atomic Energy Agency has focused suspicions on Parchin since receiving intelligence, outlined in a November report, that Iran may have been testing normal explosives in a big metal cylinder there with the aim of researching implosion triggers for an eventual nuclear bomb. Iran has twice this year refused requests by a visiting IAEA team to inspect Parchin. Although the IAEA inspected parts of Parchin two times in 2005, it says it did not see the area alleged to contain the explosives test cylinder.

Mehmanparast highlighted those 2005 visits and said Iran had accepted the “principle” of another visit, but that the IAEA should have been “more patient” in reaching agreement on the framework of such an inspection. Parchin will be one of the key issues in a new round of talks being prepared between Iran and world powers likely to take place in coming weeks. Last week, the group of nations to sit down with Iran — the so-called P5+1 comprising the United States, Russia, China, France, Britain and Germany — issued a statement urging Iran to “fulfill its undertaking to grant access to Parchin.”

The talks will revive negotiations that broke down in Istanbul in January 2011. Iran, under pressure from sanctions and the threat of military strikes on its nuclear facilities, agreed on February 14 to a P5+1 proposal to resume the discussions and has indicated it again favoured Istanbul as the venue.

Mehmanparast, though, said “several countries have declared themselves ready” to host the talks, which he said should begin “soon”. He added that Iran stood by its view that uranium enrichment — one of the most contentious activities to be addressed — was permitted under the Nuclear non-Proliferation Treaty supervised by the IAEA, as long as it was destined for peaceful nuclear use. “The level of enrichment for peaceful activities is a technical question, and experts can determine what level of enrichment is within a peaceful framework,” he said. Iran is currently enriching uranium to 3.5 percent, needed for nuclear energy generation, and to 20 percent, for isotopes to treat cancer patients.

Uranium needs to be enriched to 90 percent or higher to make an atomic bomb. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last weekend warned that the West should drop its “bullying” stance against his country. “As God is my witness, the Iranian nation will not give a damn for (your) bombs, warships and planes,” he said in a televised speech on Sunday in the city of Karaj west of Tehran.

The United States and its EU allies “should talk politely, and recognise the rights of (other) nations, and cooperate instead of showing teeth, and weapons and bombs,” he said. Iran has repeatedly insisted its nuclear programme is purely for civilian purposes and has no military component. The supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has called nuclear weapons a “sin”. Khamenei also praised US President Barack Obama’s recent comments cautioning against “bluster” in talking about possible war with Iran — although he also called US determination to press on with sanctions an “illusion”.

Israeli embargo on Turkey hits IAI-Boeing cooperation

Cooperation between Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd. (IAI) (TASE: ARSP.B1) unit Elta Systems and Boeing Company (NYSE: BA) to produce airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) is being threatened because the project is due for delivery to the Turkish Air Force, “Defense News” reports. Israel’s Ministry of Defense has instructed Elta to delay delivery of two of the four sub-systems for electronic support slated to be installed in the early warning aircraft, as part of the US Peace Eagle program for Turkey.

“Defense News” says that some Israeli defense sources fear the incident could inflict long-term damage to trade relations between the US and Israel.

“Defense News” writes that “If Elta cannot deliver the remaining systems for the Turkish program, industry sources here said Boeing may seek alternate suppliers for South Korea and other customers of the 737-based AEW&C aircraft.”

Consequently, Elta is pressing Israel’s Ministry of Defense to cancel delay of delivery. The instructions, which became valid last fall, also threaten to expose Elta to fines for violating contracts and would tarnish its good name.

“Defense News” recounts that late last year Israel’s Ministry of Defense refused to allow Elta and prime contractor Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) to complete delivery of previously authorized long-range aerial photography systems to the Turkish Air Force. The decision cost Elta $55 million, while Elta Systems reported losses of $80 million and a $65 million drop in 2011 fourth quarter net profit as a result of write-offs and other costs associated with the terminated program.

“Defense News” notes that, “Unlike the earlier contract with Turkey, government and industry sources insist Elta’s export license to Boeing is not suspended is not suspended but rather put on hold pending additional review. In contrast to the terminated long-range pod program, industry sources said the ESM subcontract to Boeing involves a passive, purely defensive system that in now way enhances the attack capabilities of the Turkish Air Force.”

There is a danger that Boeing will declare force majeure and kick us out of this prestigious and lucrative program,” one industry source said.

An Elta spokesman confirmed that delivery of the two electronic sub-systems had been delayed for “political reasons.” He said, “We’re trying to work it all out, before it becomes a much bigger problem.”

Boeing spokesman David Sloan declined to discuss licensing issues or delivery delays associated with the firm’s Israeli subcontractor. He said, “We continue to be on plan for delivery of Turkey’s first Peace Eagle aircraft by the end of the year.”

US defense sources said that beyond immediate commercial and legal repercussions for Elta, the freeze on deliveries to Boeing carries grave, long-term implications for the future of US-Israeli defense trade.

A former Israeli defense official told “Defense News” that the case, if not resolved promptly, threatens to hamper a high priority US-Turkish program with operational implications for NATO. He said that it might also impede Boeing’s ability to perform as required under its $1.6 billion contract with Turkey and discourage other US firms from entering into strategic international cooperation with Israeli suppliers.

Globes

Israel bags $1.6 billion weapons deal with Azerbaijan

 

IAI Heron Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

Israeli military officials say the Tel Aviv regime plans to sign a major arms deal worth USD 1.6 billion with Azerbaijan.

The officials said on Sunday Israel Aerospace Industries will sell “drones, anti-aircraft and missile defense systems worth USD 1.6 billion” to Azerbaijan.

Meanwhile, Israeli media said Angolan Finance Minister Carlos Alberto Lopes has traveled to Israel to sign a military agreement.

Reports say the Israeli-Angolan deal is worth about USD 1 billion.

The latest report on the Israeli military agreements comes a couple of days after Israeli officials said on February 16 the Tel Aviv regime had reached a “USD-one-billion preliminary” agreement with Italy to buy 30 Italian military training jets.

PressTV

 

Iran develops laser-guided artillery rounds

Tehran —  Iran has developed laser-guided artillery rounds designed to home in on stationary or moving targets at a distance of up to 12 miles, Defence Minister Ahmad Vahidi told state media Jan. 30.

State television showed images of artillery being fired, saying it showed the precision-guided ammunition in action.

No details were given on the technology purported to be used.

“Iran is now one of just five countries in the world able to manufacture these sorts of weapons through domestic technology,” Vahidi said.

The Islamic republic is subject to a U.N. embargo on foreign arms imports because of suspicions over its nuclear program.

It frequently announces domestically produced, hi-tech breakthroughs in the military sector, though gives few details.

Early this month, it test-fired short-range missiles during navy war games.

And Vahidi last week said new air and sea defense systems, and electronic warfare technology, would be presented next month, when Iran commemorates the anniversary of its 1979 Islamic revolution.

DefenseNews