Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 27, 2016

The Zika Virus Is Harmless - It Does Not Cause Birth Defects - We Told You So

After nearly a year of causing hysteria, mass travel cancellations and unnecessary abortions it finally daunts to "journalists" and "experts"  that the Zika virus is harmless. It can cause a very minor flue - two days of a low fever and uncomfortable feeling for a quarter of those infected - that is all. It does not cause, as was claimed by sensationalists in the media and various self-serving "scientists", birth defects like microcephaly.

We told you so.

In February we wrote: The Zika Virus Is Harmless - Who Then Benefits From This Media Panic?.

The piece refereed to a Congressional Research Service report and various sound scientific papers. It concluded:

There is absolutely no sane reason for the scary headlines and the panic they cause.

The virus is harmless. It is possible, but seems for now very unlikely, that it affects some unborn children. There is absolutely no reason to be concerned about it.

The artificial media panic continued and huge amounts of money were poured into dangerous insecticides to kill mosquitoes (and important pollinators) that did not do any harm. Indeed, generous use of some of these insecticides likely were the very cause of a blip in microencephaly cases in northeastern Brazil.

Cont. reading: The Zika Virus Is Harmless - It Does Not Cause Birth Defects - We Told You So

Posted by b at 06:49 AM | Comments (58)

October 26, 2016

Trump's Foreign Policy Is Sane While Clinton's Is Belligerent

Some highlights of a recent Donald Trump interview with Reuters:

U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Democrat Hillary Clinton's plan for Syria would "lead to World War Three," because of the potential for conflict with military forces from nuclear-armed Russia.

In an interview focused largely on foreign policy, Trump said defeating Islamic State is a higher priority than persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down,..

Trump questioned how Clinton would negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin after demonizing him; blamed President Barack Obama for a downturn in U.S. relations with the Philippines under its new president, Rodrigo Duterte;...

Trump's foreign policy talk is far more sane than Clinton's and her camp's. It is ludicrous to event think about openly attacking Russian (or Syrian) troops in Syria with an al-Qaeda supporting "no-Fly-Zone". Russia would respond by taking down U.S. planes over Syria. The Russian government would have to do so to uphold its authority internationally as well as at home.

The U.S. could respond by destroying all Russian assets in and around Syria. It has the capabilities. But then what? If I were Putin my next step would be a nuclear test shoot in Siberia - a big one - to make a point and to wake up the rest of the world. I would also provide secret support to any indigenous anti-U.S. movement anywhere. China would support Russia as its first line of self defense.

"What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria," said Trump as he dined on fried eggs and sausage at his Trump National Doral golf resort. "You’re going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton.

"You’re not fighting Syria any more, you’re fighting Syria, Russia and Iran, all right? Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk," he said.
On Russia, Trump again knocked Clinton's handling of U.S.-Russian relations while secretary of state and said her harsh criticism of Putin raised questions about "how she is going to go back and negotiate with this man who she has made to be so evil," if she wins the presidency.

On the deterioration of ties with the Philippines, Trump aimed his criticism at Obama, saying the president "wants to focus on his golf game" rather than engage with world leaders.

The last two points are important. Trump, despite all his bluster, knows about decency. What is the point of arrogantly scolding negotiation partner who have the power to block agreements you want or need?

Why blame Russia for hacking wide open email servers when no Russian speakers were involved? Why blame Duterte? It is the U.S. that has a long history of violent racism in the Philippines and FBI agents committed false flag "terrorism" is Duterte's home town Davao. Bluster may paper over such history for a moment but it does not change the facts or helps solving problems.

Trump's economic policies would be catastrophic for many people in the U.S. and elsewhere. But Hillary Clinton would put her husband, the man who deregulated Wall Street, back in charge of the economy. What do people expect the results would be?

The points above may be obvious and one might be tempted to just pass them and dig into some nig-nagging of this or that election detail. But the above points as THE most important of any election. The welfare of the people is not decided with some "liberal" concession to this or that niche of the general society. The big issues count the most. Good or evil flow from them. Trumps principle, and I think personal position, is leaning towards peaceful resolution of conflicts. Clinton's preference is clearly, as her history shows, escalation and general belligerence. It is too risky to vote for her.

Posted by b at 04:00 AM | Comments (152)

October 25, 2016

Open Thread 2016-35

(sorry for absence - hope to be back tomorrow - b.)

News & views ...

Posted by b at 12:31 PM | Comments (129)

October 23, 2016

Renewed Jihadi Attack On Aleppo Supported By "Western" Propaganda Fakes

The three days of unilateral ceasefire Syrian and Russia had announced and kept for the besieged east-Aleppo expired today. No evacuations took place, no civilians or fighters left and no aid was delivered as "rebels" inside the besieged area shelled all possible crossings.

The U.S. supported al-Qaeda aligned Jihadis have used the pause to prepare for another attack on the government held parts of Aleppo city with the aim of opening a passage into the besieged eastern areas. They received enormous amounts of new weapons and munitions from the U.S. and their other supporters. The child beheaders of the U.S. supported radical Zinki group warned civilians in west-Aleppo city to stay away from military positions. That is impossible as the refugee filled, densely populated areas are in the immediate neighborhood of the front lines.

The renewed attack is expected in the south-west of government held west-Aleppo near the Ramoush-area and the Artillery Academy where the first attempted breach battle also took place. A second attack is expected in the north-west near the Castello road. It is possible that Turkish supported forces, who battle Kurdish troops to the north-east of Aleppo-city, will also try an attack on the city. The fight against the Kurds is a Turkish attempt to keep its logistic lines of communications to the Islamic State open. Turkey has supported, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Islamic State for years. An attack on Aleppo by directly Turkish supported forces would be a serious breach of the Turkish-Russian agreements and lead to a further serious escalation and internationalization of the war. Turkey will not dare such a move without full U.S. support.

We have maintained here for some time that the Turkish President Erdogan has designs for Aleppo as well as Mosul. He wants to incorporate both cities and all areas north of and between them into Turkey. Erdogan now publicly announced these aims:

Cont. reading: Renewed Jihadi Attack On Aleppo Supported By "Western" Propaganda Fakes

Posted by b at 12:17 PM | Comments (123)

October 22, 2016

Open Thread 2016-34

News & views ...

Posted by b at 11:19 AM | Comments (135)

October 21, 2016

Assad Says The "Boy In The Ambulance" Is Fake - This Proves It

From an interview with the Syrian President Bashar Assad by the Swiss SRF 1 TV Channel published October 19 2016:

Journalist: This young boy has become the symbol of the war. I think that you know this picture.

President Assad: Of course I saw it.

Journalist: His name is Omran. Five years old.

President Assad: Yeah.

Journalist: Covered with blood, scared, traumatized. Is there anything you would like to say to Omran and his family?

President Assad: There’s something I would like to say to you first of all, because I want you to go back after my interview, and go to the internet to see the same picture of the same child, with his sister, both were rescued by what they call them in the West “White Helmets” which is a facelift of al-Nusra in Aleppo. They were rescued twice, each one in a different incident, and just as part of the publicity of those White Helmets. None of these incidents were true. You can have it manipulated, and it is manipulated. I’m going to send you those two pictures, and they are on the internet, just to see that this is a forged picture, not a real one. We have real pictures of children being harmed, but this one in specific is a forged one.

Assad was half wrong. The picture, printed on page 1 of newspapers all over the "western" world, was not "forged". It is a real picture from a White Helmet "rescue" video distributed by the Aleppo Media Center (AMC) (which is funded by the French French Ministry of Foreign Affairs). But the scene was carefully staged and we immediately recognized it as staged when it appeared. It was staged like many other "rescue" scenes with "kids saved" by the U.S./UK/D/J/NL financed White Helmets and their associated media.

Look for yourself, trust your eyes.

The "boy in an ambulance" scene features two identifiable kids. Omran and his sister.

Below are pictures of what we believe are the same kids in different scenes.

Here is the girl at another occasion. We will call this scene 1:

Cont. reading: Assad Says The "Boy In The Ambulance" Is Fake - This Proves It

Posted by b at 02:07 PM | Comments (128)

October 20, 2016

This Election Circus Is A Disservice To The People

Via Adam Johnson:

"Total mentions all 4 debates:

  • Russia/Putin 178
  • ISIS/terror 132
  • Iran 67
  • ...
  • Abortion 17
  • Poverty 10
  • Climate change 4
  • Campaign finance 3
  • Privacy 0"

The candidates are not the first to blame for this. The first to blame are the moderators of such debates, the alleged journalists 8and their overlords) who do not ask questions that are relevant for the life of the general votes and who do not intervene at all when the debaters run off course. The second group to blame are the general horse-race media who each play up their (owner's) special-interest hobbyhorses as if those will be the decisive issue for the next four years. The candidates fight for the attention of these media and adopt to them.

I didn't watch yesterday's debate but every media I skimmed tells me that Clinton was gorgeous and Trump very bad. That means she said what they wanted to hear and Trump didn't. It doesn't say what other people who watched though of it. Especially in the rural parts of the country they likely fear the consequences of climate change way more than Russia, ISIS and Iran together.

Another reason why both candidates avoided to bring up the issues low in the list above is that both hold positions that are socially somewhat liberal and both are corporatists. None of those low ranked issues is personally relevant to them. No realistic answer to these would better their campaign finances or their personal standing in the circles they move in. Personally they are both east coast elite and don't give a fu***** sh** what real people care about.

As far as I can discern it from the various reports no new political issues were touched. Clinton ran her usual focus group tested lies while Trump refrained from attacking her hard. A huge mistake in my view. He can beat her by attacking her really, really hard, not on issues but personality. Her disliked rate (like Trump's) is over -40%. She is vulnerable on many, many things in her past. Her foreign policy is way more aggressive than most voters like.  Calling this back into mind again and again could probably send her below -50%. Who told him to leave that stuff alone? Trump is a major political disruption. He should have emphasized that but he barely hinted at it for whatever reason.

The voters are served badly -if at all- by the TV debates in their current form. These do not explain real choices. That is what this whole election circus should be about. But that is no longer the case and maybe it never was.

Posted by b at 09:11 AM | Comments (142)

October 19, 2016

Obama: Vote Rigging Is Impossible - If In Favor Of Hillary Clinton

Is rigging the U.S. election possible?

Obama says it is not possible:

Obama was asked about Trump's voter fraud assertions on Tuesday [..] He responded with a blistering attack on the Republican candidate, noting that U.S. elections are run and monitored by local officials, who may well be appointed by Republican governors of states, and saying that cases of significant voter fraud were not to be found in American elections.

Obama said there was "no serious" person who would suggest it was possible to rig American elections, adding, "I'd invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes."

That is curious. There are a lot of "non serious" persons in the Democratic Party who tell us that Russia is trying to manipulate the U.S. elections. How is it going to that when it's not possible?

Moreover - Obama himself suggested that Russia may interfere with the U.S. elections: Obama: 'Possible' Russia interfering in US election

Is rigging the election only impossible when it is in favor of Hillary Clinton? This while rigging the elections in favor of Donald Trump, by Russia or someone else, is entirely possible and even "evident"?


That said - I do believe that the U.S. election can be decided through manipulation. We have evidently seen that in 2000 when Bush was "elected" by a fake "recount" and a Supreme Court decision.

The outcome of a U.S. presidential election can depend on very few votes in very few localities. The various machines and processes used in U.S. elections can be influenced. It is no longer comprehensible for the voters how the votes are counted and how the results created.*

The intense manipulation attempts by the Clinton camp, via the DNC against Sanders or by creating a Russian boogeyman to propagandize against Trump, lets me believe that her side is well capable of considering and implementing some vote count shenanigan. Neither are Trump or the Republicans in general strangers to dirty methods and manipulations.

It is high time for the U.S. to return to paper-ballots and manual vote counting. The process is easier, comprehensible, less prone to manipulations and reproducible. Experience in other countries show that it is also nearly as fast, if not faster, than machine counting. There is simply no sensible reason why machines should be used at all.

*(The German Constitutional Court prohibited the use of all voting machines in German elections because for the general voters they institute irreproducible vote counting which leads to a general loss of trust in the democratic process. The price to pay for using voting machines is legitimacy.)

Posted by b at 01:54 AM | Comments (146)

October 18, 2016

ISIS Moves To Syria Where Erdogan Still Aims For Aleppo

The Iraqi army started a large operation to liberate Mosul from Islamic State jihadists. But the forces, in total some 40,000, are still several dozen kilometers away from the city limits. They will have to capture several towns and villages and pass many IED obstacles before coming near to the center and house to house fighting. It might take many month to eliminated the last stay-behind ISIS cells in Mosul.

About one million civilians live in Mosul. Many, many more than in east-Aleppo. Many of them were sympathetic with the new overlords when ISIS stormed in two years ago. French, American, Kurdish, Iraqi and Turkish artillery are pounding them now. Airstrikes attack even the smallest fighting position. When the city will be conquered it will likely be destroyed. The imminent fight over Mosul might be the reason why John Kerry dialed down his hypocritical howling over east-Aleppo in Syria which is under attack from Syrian and Russian forces.

The attack on Mosul proceeds on three axes. From the north Kurdish Peshmerga under U.S. special force advisors lead the fighting. Iraqi forces attack from the east and south. The way to the west, towards Syria, is open. The intend of the U.S. is to let ISIS fighters, several thousand of them, flee to Deir Ezzor and Raqqa in Syria. They are needed there to further destroy the Syrian state.

We pointed out here that this move will create the "Salafist principality" the U.S. and its allies have striven to install in east-Syria since 2012. The "mistake" of the U.S. bombing of Syrian army positions in Deir Ezzor was in support of that plan. Other commentators finally catch up with that conclusion.

The Turks are openly talking about such an escape plan for ISIS in Mosul. The Turkish news agency Anadolu published this "sensitive" operations plan. Point 4 says:

Cont. reading: ISIS Moves To Syria Where Erdogan Still Aims For Aleppo

Posted by b at 05:21 AM | Comments (122)

October 17, 2016

The New U.S. Way Of War

A recommendable New York Times piece looks at the mostly hidden way the U.S. is now waging wars. The example is Somalia, where the U.S. has been at war with the people of that country for over 25 years. But, as the authors note, the same modus operandi applies elsewhere.

The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.

Would that "anarchic" nation Somalia still be "anarchic" if the U.S. would end its endless fighting there? That is very unlikely. Without outer interference Somalia would have been peaceful again many years ago. But the war continues, run not with regular U.S. forces, but with mercenaries, proxies, drones and a few U.S. Special Forces.

Somalia is an example of the "failed states" the U.S. now creates wherever it goes. A "failed state" then justifies further involvement. The "model" applies around the world:

The Somalia campaign is a blueprint for warfare that President Obama has embraced and will pass along to his successor. It is a model the United States now employs across the Middle East and North Africa — from Syria to Libya — despite the president’s stated aversion to American “boots on the ground” in the world’s war zones. This year alone, the United States has carried out airstrikes in seven countries and conducted Special Operations missions in many more.

Such wars are mostly "off the book". Congressional oversight does not happen for them as the impact within the U.S. is too small. The media are practically excluded. The money comes out of secret CIA and special forces accounts or is shaken out of some friendly U.S. client state like Saudi Arabia. No one will find out what methods of force or "interrogation" are used and as those prisoners vanish in some local warlord's dungeon, no one is likely to ever find out:

About 200 to 300 American Special Operations troops work with soldiers from Somalia and other African nations like Kenya and Uganda to carry out more than a half-dozen raids per month, according to senior American military officials. The operations are a combination of ground raids and drone strikes.

The Navy’s classified SEAL Team 6 has been heavily involved in many of these operations.

Once ground operations are complete, American troops working with Somali forces often interrogate prisoners at temporary screening facilities, including one in Puntland, a state in northern Somalia, before the detainees are transferred to more permanent Somali-run prisons, American military officials said.

Force is applied willy-nilly. It doesn't matter much who gets hit or why. Lack of local knowledge, language and politics are the norm. No one ever gets punished for getting things wrong:

[A]n airstrike last month killed more than a dozen Somali government soldiers, who were American allies against the Shabab.

Outraged Somali officials said the Americans had been duped by clan rivals and fed bad intelligence, laying bare the complexities of waging a shadow war in Somalia.

The responsibilities that legally come with warfare are handed off to private parties. The use of mercenaries prevents accountability:

At an old Russian fighter jet base in Baledogle, about 70 miles from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, American Marines and private contractors are working to build up a Somali military unit designed to combat the Shabab throughout the country.

Soldiers for the military unit, called Danab, which means lightning in Somali, are recruited by employees of Bancroft Global Development, a Washington-based company that for years has worked with the State Department to train African Union troops and embed with them on military operations inside Somalia.

Michael Stock, the company’s founder, said the Danab recruits received initial training at a facility in Mogadishu before they were sent to Baledogle, where they go through months of training by the Marines. Bancroft advisers then accompany the Somali fighters on missions.

What the piece misses are the media measures - or propaganda - which accompanies all such U.S. campaigns. That is not unwittingly as the NYT is always an integral part of such campaigns. The usual justification is "terrorism" or the "moral" need to eliminate a "brutal regime". The piece accordingly list a few alleged terrorism incidents with origin in Somalia to justify the massive, decades long uprooting of a whole country.

The scheme visible in Somalia is the same one that is applied in Libya, in Syria and in the Ukraine. The U.S. hires some group willing to wage war for a decent pay, lots of weapons and a chance to - may be - reach a lot of power for itself. It sends some mercenary company to "train" those forces, PR agencies get hired to provide the necessary media background, U.S. military forces are silently involved but only from far away via drones, or in mini special force formation that train and direct the local proxies.

The CIA is usually in the lead with the U.S. military providing firepower as needed. The State Department handles the diplomatic hurdles, pampers the proxies and so called allies and, together with the Treasury, generously applies devastating sanctions to bend the people to its will.

The methods are not dissimilar to those used during the last century mainly in south America. But the wars are now more open with more brute force applied.

The big question for the rest of the world is how such mostly hidden wars can be countered. They are very difficult to win by force on the ground. The U.S. will not change course because a few of its mercenaries get eliminated. The obvious answer is to increase the price the U.S. directly has to pay. The hurt must be painful enough to raise above the public negligence level that usually applies. Terrorism within the U.S. can and has been used. But I expect new, more subtle methods to be a part of the future answer. The cyber realm is ideal for asymmetric forces. A few knowledgeable fighters are sufficient. To counter them is difficult. The U.S. is probable the most sensitive target for cyber mayhem while the nations the U.S. attacks are mostly insensitive to such attacks.

No matter of what new ways of war the U.S. applies. Those attacked will always find ways to hit back.

Posted by b at 02:53 PM | Comments (58)

October 15, 2016

Al-Qaeda Fighters In East-Aleppo (Defined) Down To Three!

The pro-jihadist "west" is doing its best to define the number of civilians in east-Aleppo up and the number of al-Qaeda fighters in the city down. If the current numbering trend continues there will be a no al-Qaeda fighters left in east-Aleppo even as none have left. They will be redefined into "moderate rebels" who are entitled to the failed ceasefire they had never accepted in the first place.

The terrorists in east-Aleppo are encircled and besieged. The Syrian army nibbles away piece after piece of their territorial hold while the Syrian and Russian air force attack any recognized concentrations of forces or material. It is only a question of time until they are completely defeated.

Most of the fighters in the besieged area are associated with al-Qaeda. They are several thousand strong. Only few civilians remain. The eastern parts once housed some 300,000 people. About 10% of those, likely less, are still there. That are the realistic numbers. The spin differs.

When in 2013 the sectarian rebels had enclosed and completely besieged (map) the government held parts of Aleppo every win of theirs was called a liberation.


They since killed many of the people they "liberated". Others fled. But the tide has turned. This animated map shows the development from September 2015 to 2016. The now besieged "rebel" held areas in east-Aleppo are shrinking every day. This is today's situation. Much of the northern parts of the besieged area, including the Palestinian camp Handarat, are back in government hands.

Cont. reading: Al-Qaeda Fighters In East-Aleppo (Defined) Down To Three!

Posted by b at 02:47 PM | Comments (103)

October 14, 2016

NYT Finds "Hidden Hand" In War On Yemen

Yesterday the U.S. openly attacked Yemen by firing cruise missiles against old Yemeni radar stations. This, allegedly, in response to four missiles fired on two days against a U.S. destroyer at the Yemeni coast. The U.S. Navy said the missiles fell short. They were unable to reach the ship. No one but the navy, especially no one in Yemen, has seen or reported any such missile launches - short or long.

The U.S. is in alliance with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries in bombing Yemen for 18 month now. They totally blockade the coast of the country that depends on imports of food and medicines. The actively fighting countries are heavily supported by the U.S. military. This has been widely admitted by U.S. officials and in military reports. The U.S. government even feared of being help legally responsible for the carnage it causes.

But since the launch of the cruise missile U.S. media have totally forgotten all of this. Now the U.S. "has been attacked", without any recognizable reason, and is only "defending" itself. No legal consequences are to fear now. Anyone who believes that the U.S. is somehow responsible for the at least 10,000 dead and the many starving people in Yemen must somehow believe in a mysterious conspiracy.

Just consider this New York Times headline, from today, after the U.S. attack on Yemen.

Yemen Sees U.S. Strikes as Evidence of Hidden Hand Behind Saudi Air War.

The NYT tweeted the piece with this text:

New York Times World @nytimesworld
For the U.S., it was retaliation; for Yemen's Houthi rebels, it confirmed a long-held belief
6:30 PM - 13 Oct 2016

Wow. The Houthi rebels "believe" in a "hidden hand". Must be crazy people. They unreasonably attacked. And they deserve such strikes.

The NYT piece reads:

WASHINGTON — For the United States, it was simple retaliation: Rebels in Yemen had fired missiles at an American warship twice in four days, and so the United States hit back, destroying rebel radar facilities with missiles.

But for the rebels and many others in Yemen, the predawn strikes on Thursday were just the first public evidence of what they have long believed: that the United States has been waging an extended campaign in the country, the hidden hand behind Saudi Arabia’s punishing air war.

How could the Houthis come to "believe" of such a "hidden hand"? Was it really because the strike was the "first public evidence"? Or was it because the NYT and all other media reported many times over that the U.S. actively supports the Saudi attacks? Did the Houthi probably read yesterday's NYT piece on Yemen written by the very same main authors?

Up to now, the Obama administration put limits on its support for the Saudi-led coalition, providing intelligence and Air Force tankers to refuel the coalition’s jets and bombers. The American military has refueled more than 5,700 aircraft involved in the bombing campaign since it began, according to statistics provided by United States Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East.

So the "first evidence" of the "hidden hand" were, unlike the NYT today claims, not yesterdays strikes but official reports on the public CentCom website? Maybe frequent discussions of the war on Yemen the U.S. Congress held since a year ago also count as evidence? Various public reports over the last 18 month detailing the enormous amount of ammunition the U.S. openly sells to the Saudis were also just sightings of "hidden" hands?

Such reporting as in today's NYT is just laughable. It flies in face of all reports of the last 18 month as well as extensive evidence given by the U.S. and other governments. The strikes on the radar sites were just "retaliation". They have no larger context. This is a typical reflection of the U.S. myth of "immaculate conception" of U.S. foreign policy. According to that believe the U.S. always only reacts to being "attacked" or "threatened" for completely incomprehensible reasons when it bombs this or that country and kills thousands or even millions of foreign people.

That is even more evident in the reports by CNN and others. These reports only mention the 18 month of extensive U.S. support for the Saudi campaign down in the middle to end of their pieces. For any but a thorough reader the alleged "missile attacks" and all Yemeni enmity against the U.s. has no history at all. It comes from unreasonable and hostile people who willfully misunderstand U.S. well-meaning.

Thus no U.S. attack is ever unjustified or just a cruel continuation of decades of U.S. insidiousness, hostility and greed. It is always the other side that initiates the fight.

It is easy for the U.S. government propaganda to make such false claims. And U.S. media don't report such but perpetrate anticipatory stenography. They write what the U.S. government wants and U.S. imperialism demands even when not directly ordered to. That is no longer astonishing.

Astonishing is how easy the U.S. public swallows this without any self awareness and protest.

Posted by b at 06:17 AM | Comments (136)

October 13, 2016

Alleged "Attack" On U.S. Ships To Justify Continued War On Yemen

Last night the U.S. launched cruise missiles against three radar stations along the western Yemeni coast. The area is formally under control of the Sanaa government, an alliance of Houthi tribal groups from north Yemen and parts of the Yemeni army under control of the former president Saleh. But their real control is patchy and especially around Taiz and further south al-Qaeda and local south Yemeni independence fighters are predominant.

The attack comes after U.S. ships were allegedly attacked by missiles fired from the coast. All those missiles "fell into the sea short of the destroyer, which was in international waters in the Red Sea." (Were these just short range RPG-36 al-Qaeda had received?) The Houthi as well as the Yemeni army (twice) have officially denied that they fired missiles and to have attacked any U.S. asset. Former president Saleh accused the Saudis and their al-Qaeda proxies and asked for an investigation. No one in Yemen had heard rumors of preparations or execution of such attacks. There is no public evidence that any such attack ever happened. All such claims are solely based on the word of the U.S. military. The Houthi/Saleh government in Sanaa demands an official UN investigation into the issue.

Two weeks ago the Houthis had fired on and destroyed a United Arab Emirates fast supply ship. The missile used was decent medium range anti-ship missile of probably Chinese origin. The ship was transporting weapons and anti-Houthi troops between Assab in Eritrea and Aden in south Yemen. They had proudly admitted the attack and published video of it. Earlier smaller Saudi ships which blockaded the coast were attacked by local fishermen and sunk. The UAE has occupied parts of south Yemen (Dubai Port International would like to control the Aden harbor) and the UAE troops and proxy forces are immediate enemy of the Yemeni forces. But it was clear that any attack on a U.S. ship would only increase trouble for the Houthi forces. They had and have no sane reason to commit such an attack.

A recap how we got here. After some tribal upheaval in 2011-12 the President Saleh was pressed to move aside and his vice president Hadi was installed as president with a two year mandate. The installation of a new national government failed when Hadi and his sponsors denied any seat at the table for the large northern Houthi tribes (some 45% of the total population). Those tribes revolted and occupied the capital Sanaa. Hadi, then in the third year of his two year mandate, resigned, retracted and later verbally resigned again. The UN tried to negotiate a settlement but the UN envoy was ousted on behalf of Saudis and the agreed upon unity cabinet was not installed:

Yemen’s warring political factions were on the verge of a power-sharing deal when Saudi-led airstrikes began a month ago, derailing the negotiations, the United Nations envoy who mediated the talks said.

Cont. reading: Alleged "Attack" On U.S. Ships To Justify Continued War On Yemen

Posted by b at 12:52 PM | Comments (93)

October 12, 2016

The "Salafist Principality" - ISIS Paid Off To Leave Mosul, Take Deir Ezzor?

Updated below (3:34pm EDT)

On September 20 I wrote about the likely reason for the willful U.S. bombing attack on a critical Syrian army position in Deir Ezzor:

Two recent attacks against the Syrian Arab Army in east-Syria point to a U.S. plan to eliminate all Syrian government presence east of Palmyra. This would enable the U.S. and its allies to create a "Sunni entity" in east-Syria and west-Iraq which would be a permanent thorn in side of Syria and its allies.
The U.S. plan is to eventually take Raqqa by using Turkish or Kurdish proxies. It also plans to let the Iraqi army retake Mosul in Iraq. The only major city in Islamic State territory left between those two is Deir Ezzor. Should IS be able to take it away from the isolated Syrian army garrison it has at least a decent base to survive. (Conveniently there are also rich oil wells nearby.) No one, but the hampered Syrian state, would have an immediate interest to remove it from there.

There are new signs that this analysis was correct.

Yesterday the Turkish President Erdogan made a remark that points into that direction. As the British journalist Elijah Magnier summarized it:

Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai

Erdogan: #Turkey will participate in #Mosul just like it did in #Jarablus.Army doesn't take orders from #Iraq PM who should know his limits.

4:06 AM - 11 Oct 2016

"Like Jarablus" was an interesting comparison. The Turks and their proxies took Jarablus in center-north Syria from the Islamic State without any fight and without any casualties from fighting. ISIS had moved away from the city before the Turks walked in. There obviously had been a deal made.

That's why I replied this to Magnier's tweet above:

Moon of Alabama @MoonofA

The Turks will pay off ISIS in Mosul to leave early just like they did in Jarablus?

5:58 AM - 12 Oct 2016

Three hours later this rumor from a well connected Syrian historian and journalist in London answered that question:

Nizar Nayouf @nizarnayouf

Breaking news:Sources in #London say:“#US& #Saudi_Arabia concluded an agreement to let #ISIS leave #Mosul secretly& safely to #Syria"!

9:28 AM - 12 Oct 2016

Erdogan predicts that his troops and proxy forces will march into Mosul just like they marched into Jarablus: In a peaceful walk, without any fight, into a city free of Jihadis.

The Saudis and the U.S. arranged for that.

The U.S. bombed the most important SAA position in Deir Ezzor so that ISIS, now with the help of its cadres from Mosul, can take over the city. A nice place to keep it holed up in east-Syria until it can further be used in this or that imperial enterprise.


A good plan when your overall aim is to create an obedient mercenary statelet in the center of the Middle East. As the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency wrote in 2012:


But this plan requires to fight the Syrian and Russian air-forces which will do their utmost to defend the SAA group and the 100-200,000 ISIS besieged Syrian civilians in Deir Ezzor. The the U.S. and its allies may be willing to do that. A well known British Tory member of parliament already made noise that British fighter jets should be free to shoot down Russian planes in Syria. The U.S. had claimed that British planes took part in the Deir Ezzor ambush.

The defenders of Deir Ezzor lack their own air defenses. The Russian systems at the Syrian west-coast can not reach that far east. The Syrian system are mostly positioned to defend Damascus and other cities from attacks by Israel.

Russia recently talked about delivering 10 new Pantsyr-S1 short-to-medium range air defense systems to Syria. At least two of those should be airlifted to Deir Ezzor as soon as possible.

UPDATE: I was just made aware of a recent speech by Hizbullah leader Nasrallah who smells the same stinking plot:

Sayyed Nasrallah said that the Americans intend to repeat Fallujah plot when they opened a way for ISIL to escape towards eastern Syria before the Iraqi warplanes targeted the terrorists’ convoy, warning that the same deceptive scheme is possible to be carried out in Mosul.

Posted by b at 02:36 PM | Comments (112)

Some Quotes

(Busy with nurturing some illness, please bear with me.)

Quotes from the Wikileaks stash of Hillary Clinton speeches and emails from her campaign chair John Podesta.

Clinton in a 2013 speech to the Jewish United Fund Advance & Major Gifts Dinner (via The Intercept):

[Arming moderates has] been complicated by the fact that the Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons—and pretty indiscriminately—not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future, ...

Clinton also says that the no-fly zone bombing in Syria she is arguing for "would kill a lot of Syrians" - all for humanitarian reasons of course.

The following was written by Podesta, a well connected former White House Chief of Staff, in an 2014 email to Clinton. As introduction Podesta notes:"Sources include Western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region.":

While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.

Not new - the 2012 DIA analysis provided as much, and more, - but these email's prove that Clinton was and is well aware that U.S. allies are financing the radical Islamists in Syria and Iraq.

The Turkish President Erdogan just managed to screw up relations with ALL Iraqis, including the sectarian Sunnis he pampers as well as the Kurdish Barzani mafia with which his family does big oil deals. Erdogan wants his troops to "liberate" Mosul in Iraq from the Islamic State to incorporate it into the Turkish realm. (This goes back to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which had, in Turkish nationalist's interpretation, promised Aleppo and Mosul to Turkey):

Erdoğan [..] lashed out at Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, saying al-Abadi was not his counterpart.

“He is defaming me but you are not my interlocutor; you are not on my level and are not my value or quality,” Erdoğan said. “We will go our own way, everyone should know this. Who is this? Iraq’s prime minister. Know your place.”

The Turks have the illusion that the Arab's and other people the ottoman's once ruled liked their colonial occupation. That is simply wrong. The Ottoman rule was as brutal and disliked as any other colonial rule. The megalomania Erdogan shows will enrage all people of Iraq against him. They may not like Abadi but he is the Iraqi Prime Minister and as such has to be respected.

Erdogan's trouble at home and abroad are not some foreign plots against him, as he likes to believe, but the direct consequences of his behavior and talk. His plans to occupy 5,000 square kilometer of Syria and to conquer al-Bab and Raqqa is falling apart. 1,000 sqkm in his proxy groups are failing as they now finally meet real resistance. They may be able to Daqib, after the Turkish air force and artillery destroy it, but that will be it. Erdogan could send in his own army, which heavily relies on conscripts, but the public consequences within Turkey would probably be a disaster for him.

The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in a recent interview with CNN's Amanpour:

Amanpour: Russia had its own Pussy Riot moment. What do you think of Donald Trump's pussy riot moment?

Lavrov: Well, I don't know whether this would ... English is not my mother's tongue and I don't know whether - I don't know - whether I would sound - I mean - decent. There are so many pussies around your presidential campaigns on both sides that I prefer not to comment.

Posted by b at 11:33 AM | Comments (47)

October 10, 2016

Open Thread 2016-33

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:12 PM | Comments (221)

October 09, 2016

An Election Of Leaks And Counter-Leaks

The tape of Trump talking dirty was released just in time  to sidetrack from the release of more of Clinton's dirty secrets by Wikileaks. Trump's talk was juvenile and sexist bragging in front of other "boys". Surprising it was not. There will more releases like that, all timed to run cover for Clinton.

The just released emails of her campaign chairman John Podesta about Clinton's talk to Wall Street and other Clinton related issues are indeed revealing. She is the sell-out you would expect her to be:


Clinton: "But if everybody's watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position."

It is funny how the U.S. electorate has a deeper "very negative" view of Trump (-44%) and Clinton (-41%) than of the much vilified Russian President Putin (-38%).

When Trump will come back in the polls (not "if"), it will be a devious fight with daily "leaks" followed by counter leaks and a lot of dirty laundry washed in front of the public. Good.

Many of the people who will vote will vote against a candidate, not for the one that they will mark on their ballot. I expect a very low turn out election, barely giving a mandate, to whomever may win or get selected to have won.

Posted by b at 09:08 AM | Comments (197)

October 08, 2016

A Desperate Obama Administration Resorts To Lying And Maybe More

On September 28 the French mission to the UN claimed that two hospitals in east-Aleppo had been bombed. It documented this in a tweet with a picture of destroyed buildings in Gaza. The French later deleted that tweet.

It is not the first time such false claims and willful obfuscations were made by "western" officials. But usually they shy away from outright lies.

Not so the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. In a press event yesterday, before talks with the French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault about a new UN resolution, he said (vid @1:00) about Syria:

Last night, the regime attacked yet another hospital, and 20 people were killed and 100 people were wounded. And Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children and women. These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes. And those who commit these would and should be held accountable for these actions.

No opposition group has claimed that such an extremely grave event happened. None. No press agency has a record of it. The MI-6 disinformation outlet SOHR in Britain, which quite reliably notes every claimed casualty and is frequently cited in "western" media", has not said anything about such an event anywhere in Syria.

Cont. reading: A Desperate Obama Administration Resorts To Lying And Maybe More

Posted by b at 09:46 AM | Comments (114)

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