Thursday, October 29, 2015

Headlines - 4:48 PM 10/29/2015: Islamist militants turn to less-governed social-media platform


The Islamic State and other terror groups are flocking to a Berlin-based social-media service that imposes few barriers on the distribution of violent content or recruiting propaganda, according to a new report.
Thousands of followers have subscribed to Islamic State-related channels on the social-media platform called Telegram in recent weeks, according to the Middle East Media Research Institute, a Washington-based organization that tracks online activities of terrorist groups.
Founded by a high-profile Russian programmer who fled that country last year, Telegram is designed to protect users’ anonymity. 
Unlike Twitter, Facebook and other established platforms, Telegram has no clear mechanism for law enforcement agencies to track individuals or demand that material aimed at inciting terror attacks be taken down.

Headlines - 5:02 PM 10/28/2015: Obama fumbles for credibility in Syria as Russia and Iran seize initiative | US news | The Guardian | Iran Accepts Invitation to Join U.S. and Russia in Talks on Syria’s Future - The New York Times | Oil rises nearly 6% after EIA data shows distillate draw

Under withering fire from political opponents, Barack Obama is once again shuffling his Syria cards, hoping against hope that he can salvage US credibility from the wreckage of his twin failures to defeat Isis terror and topple Bashar al-Assad.
Fear is driving Obama’s latest rethink: fear that Russia and Iran are winning the strategic tug-of-war for decisive influence in both Syria and Iraq; and fear that his Middle East legacy will be an anarchic arc of muddle and mayhem stretching from Mosul to the Mediterranean... 
Obama’s many critics say his visceral fear of the Middle East quagmire has allowed Iran and Russia to run rings around him. Veteran columnist Charles Krauthammer was typically scathing: “Obama’s response to all this? Nothing. He has washed his hands of the region, still the centre of world oil production and trade, and still the world’s most volatile region, seething with virulent jihadism ready for export,” Krauthammer wrote.
“When you call something a quagmire, you have told the world that you’re out and staying out. Russia and Iran will have their way.” 

M.N.: Mr. Tisdall's article runs more on his rhetoric than dispassionate rational analysis. After all, to quote LBJ“it's probably better to have him [Iran] inside the tent pissing out, than outside the tent pissing in.” It probably also better to split Russia-Iran into two separate representative entities, despite the perception of Iran's undue empowerment than to have it to be represented by Russia alone, which it would do anyway. 
With all the fair and unfair criticism directed at Mr. Obama, I think that his strength is in addressing and dealing with essences and ignoring the appearances and perceptions (as much as he can afford it), which, due to the nature of this dilemma is perceived as a weakness in itself. A more serious drawback is his administration's tendency to be reactive rather than proactive. 
Conversely, Mr. Putin relies very much on appearances and perceptions at the expense of essences and this inherent weakness is perceived as strength. But "proactive" he is, at times defensively - paranoidly
Let us wait and see what happens without the premature and excessive dramatizing. 
What is interesting, oil started going up soon after this article was published, not because of it, but perceptually triggered by the perspective notion of Russian-Iranian gain in influence and control over the Middle East, its oil supplies and oil prices, in complex with other news and developments. (As Allan Greenspan once said, with the deep sense of irony which was lost on his listeners, at one of his Congressional hearings, "if it is the matter of perception, then it is my fault" - apparently, he felt that creating the perceptions was a part of his duties.) 
In fact oil price hike is most likely one to three days short covering rally which was ripe due to internal market dynamics and was most likely facilitated by "the little help" from the oil bulls and their financial friends who caught the moment to punish the shorters. However the article's power of emotional rhetoric, together with other news and bulls' financial pressure, probably did play its role. Traders are emotional just as they are rational, and maintaining the right balance at the right time is the part and point of their trade. 
It always amazed me how susceptible humans are to the hypnotism of artful words and poetry, the religious texts being the prime example. But maybe this is one of the qualities that make us human. 
Light sweet crude (barrel): 45.73+2.53+5.86% At 12:52 PM ET


Looks more like "oil short covering rally" (GS) than a reversal of a long-term (1 year) trend, triggers might be complex, including recent political aspects; future(s) will show.

Reviews

News Roundup and Notes: October 28, 2015 | Just Security

Syria war


The Military Escalation in Iraq and Syria - NYTimes.com
US signals shift in Syria-Iraq campaign against Islamic State - BBC News
U​​S mulls direct ground raids in fight against Isis in Syria and Iraq | World news | The Guardian
On the front line: Fighting ISIS in Syria - CNN.com
Obama Anti-Islamic State War Strategy Failing
Military solution 'impossible' in parts of Middle East: CIA chief - Yahoo News
Turkey Confirms Strikes Against Kurdish Militias in Syria - NYTimes.com
ISIS Captives Say They Faced Blade as Rescue Came - NYTimes.com
ISIS rooted in Arab Spring, gained momentum due to double standards - Russian Security Service head — RT News
CIA, Saudis Launch Proxy War Against Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russia | American Free Press

Cybersecurity


Senate Approves a Cybersecurity Bill Long in the Works and Largely Dated - NYTimes.com
Senate Passes Controversial Cybersecurity Bill (CISA)
Governments struggle to create rules for cyber warfare - ET Blogs
US Senate passes cyber security bill despite privacy concerns : The Hindu - Mobile edition
TalkTalk hacker suspect is a video game addict who rarely leaves his bedroom | Daily Mail Online
Hacking: A Common And Avoidable Problem

Other news


Effects of Greater Scrutiny of Police - NYTimes.com
In Waves of Migrants, Children Arrive Alone and Settle In Uneasily - NYTimes.com
Ya’alon: Terrorists wielding missiles, nuclear attacks face Israel
Turkey takes over opposition TV stations ahead of election
Russian intelligence chief: IS may invade Central Asia - The Washington Post
German vice chancellor heads to Russia for energy talks - The Washington Post
America safer because of police officers: Obama - The Times of India on Mobile
FBI Joins Statewide Manhunt, Schools Cancelled - LEX18.com | Continuous News and StormTracker Weather
Impeach IRS Chief, Say Republicans Alleging Lies, Obstruction - Forbes
Freedom House Report: Internet Freedom Declines
Information Warfare: Facebook And Islamic Terrorism
Ben Carson edges out Trump as Republican frontrunner | Americas | DW.COM | 28.10.2015

Current Topics Review

» Iran to take a seat among world powers for Syria talks - STLtoday.com
28/10/15 16:34 from Google News
STLtoday.com Iran to take a seat among world powers for Syria talks STLtoday.com BEIRUT • Iran will take part in international talks on Syria for the first time this week, giving it a voice in the effort to find a resolution to the more ...
» L. TODD WOOD: Obama administration confirms Iran's Mideast hegemony - Washington Times
28/10/15 15:11 from Google News
Washington Times L. TODD WOOD: Obama administration confirms Iran's Mideast hegemony Washington Times U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, talks with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturda...
» Russia cannot win in Syria, must push for transition: Blinken - Reuters
28/10/15 14:59 from Google News
Russia cannot win in Syria, must push for transition: Blinken Reuters PARIS Russia's intervention in Syria is "not going particularly well" and it should instead push for political transition in the country, U.S. Secretary ...
» UPDATE 1-US's Blinken: Russia cannot win in Syria, must push for transition - Reuters
28/10/15 14:58 from Google News
UPDATE 1-US's Blinken: Russia cannot win in Syria, must push for transition Reuters (Adds RTL interview). PARIS Oct 28 (Reuters) - Russia's intervention in Syria is "not going particularly well" and it should instead pu...
» Saudis to Join in Talks on Syria With Iran, Russia - Wall Street Journal
28/10/15 14:50 from Google News
Wall Street Journal Saudis to Join in Talks on Syria With Iran, Russia Wall Street Journal RIYADH, Saudi Arabia—The kingdom's foreign minister said Wednesday that his country would participate with Iran and Russia in talks about the ...
» Washington Skeptical Ahead of Syria Talks - Voice of America
28/10/15 14:47 from Google News
Voice of America Washington Skeptical Ahead of Syria Talks Voice of America Last updated on: October 28, 2015 3:50 PM. WASHINGTON—. U.S. lawmakers have questioned the prospects for progress in this week's multi-national talks about S...
» Iran to join Syria talks as diplomatic push gains pace - Daily Mail
28/10/15 14:44 from Google News
Daily Mail Iran to join Syria talks as diplomatic push gains pace Daily Mail Iran said Wednesday it will take part for the first time in international talks aimed at resolving the brutal war in Syria as a diplomatic push to end the confl...
» Zarif to join Syria talks in Vienna - Tehran Times
28/10/15 14:36 from Google News
Tehran Times Zarif to join Syria talks in Vienna Tehran Times TEHRAN – Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif will this week join diplomatic efforts aimed at bring the four-year conflict in Syria to a halt, a top official in Tehra...
» The role of Tehran in Syria's future developments - Tehran Times
28/10/15 14:33 from Google News
The role of Tehran in Syria's future developments Tehran Times The four-sided meeting of Russia, the U.S., Turkey and Saudi Arabia on Syria ended its work on Friday with two opposing opinions presented by the participants. United Sta...
» Iran calls on US to stop supporting terrorists in Syria - Tehran Times
28/10/15 14:33 from Google News
Tehran Times Iran calls on US to stop supporting terrorists in Syria Tehran Times TEHRAN – The Iranian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that the U.S. should abandon its policy of supporting terrorists or seeking military approach to sett...
» Russia said to redeploy special-ops forces from Ukraine to Syria - Fox News
24/10/15 10:21 from Google News
Fox News Russia said to redeploy special-ops forces from Ukraine to Syria Fox News Russia has sent a few dozen special-operations troops to Syria in recent weeks, Russian and Western officials say, redeploying the elite units from Ukrain...