Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 04, 2015

U.S., Qatar Plan To Rebrand AlQaeda Into "Moderate" Rebels

The CIA supported and equipped "moderate" rebels in Syria are losing out against al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra. The last "moderate" group active in north Syria, Harakat Hazzm, had to give up its headquarter -including a warehouse full of U.S. weapons- to Jabhat al Nusra and dissolved. Many of its members then joined Nusra.

The U.S. military plans to recruit, pay and train new "moderate" rebels but the effort is starting veeerrry slow. Just 100 have been vetted so far to be "moderate" enough for the program. There are simply too few non-Jihadi rebels and warlords available who are willing to die for U.S. dollars.

A solution to the lack of qualified "moderate" personal is the rebranding of non-moderate groups into "moderates". James Clapper, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, recently moved into that direction:

Moderate these days is increasingly becoming anyone who is not affiliated with ISIL. And so, you know, we are attempting to engage with them, and that's the whole point of the train and equip proposal -- project that the Department of Defense is gearing up for, is to vet, recruit and train and equip opposition in sufficient size and capability to actually make a military difference.

And so one of our challenges is, again, the recruiting and vetting part. So we picked people that not only are moderate, whatever that is, but also we have to be sensitive to complying with the international rules of law, which in this environment is a pretty tough order.

"Moderates", Clapper used gestural scare-quotes, is anyone who is not part of the Islamic State. That would, it seems, include Jabhat al-Nusra who three years ago parted from IS and kept their allegiance to AlQaeda. Jabhat al-Nusra has been fighting the Islamic State ever since.

That Clapper thought of Jabhat and similar Jihadi groups like Ahrar al-Sham, is obvious from his reference to international law. The United Nations Security Council classified Jabhat as an international terrorist organization. Supporting it, like Israel does in south Syria, is a violation of UNSC resolutions. As a veto wielding member the U.S. would not like to be caught doing that.

Jabhat al-Nusra is a Jihadi group following al-Qaeda. It is obviously a non-moderate groups but as it fights against the Islamic State it is now, under Clappers new definition "moderate" and thereby qualified to receive U.S. support. Still there is the damned international law issue that has to be circumvented.

Now just in time a U.S. puppet entity in the Persian Gulf, which already though silently arms and pays Jabhat al-Nusra, comes up with a solution for that problem:

Leaders of Syria's Nusra Front are considering cutting their links with al Qaeda to form a new entity backed by some Gulf states trying to topple President Bashar al-Assad, sources said.

Sources within and close to Nusra said that Qatar, which enjoys good relations with the group, is encouraging the group to go ahead with the move, which would give Nusra a boost in funding.
...
Intelligence officials from Gulf states including Qatar have met the leader of Nusra, Abu Mohamad al-Golani, several times in the past few months to encourage him to abandon al Qaeda and to discuss what support they could provide, the sources said.

They promised funding once it happens.
...
The Nusra Front is listed as a terrorist group by the United States and has been sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council. But for Qatar at least, rebranding Nusra would remove legal obstacles to supporting it.

A "rebranded" Jabhat al-Nusra would of course still fight the Syrian government as its primary enemy. Destroying the Syrian government is also the primary aim of the Wahhabi government of Qatar. New-Nusra would fight the Islamic State only after having secured enough resources and geography to be able to expand further. Its ideological essence would not change and its aim in the end would be to create its own version of an Islamic state.

[I]f Nusra is dissolved and it abandons al Qaeda, the ideology of the new entity is not expected to change. Golani fought with al Qaeda in Iraq. Some other leaders fought in Afghanistan and are close al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahri.

Rebranding Jabhat al-Nusra to then declare it "moderate" in the new definition of DNI Clapper may be the plan. It worked in Libya. But I doubt its feasibility in the much longer Syria conflict. It would be a very difficult sale even for the mighty U.S. propaganda brigades. It would also mean that the organization Jabhat al-Nusra, as it now exists, would fall apart. Many of Nusra's fighters have joined for ideological reason and to be members of alQaeda. Should Nusra revoke its oath to al-Qaeda those fighters would leave and very likely join the Islamic State.

The only reason to stay with New-Nusra would be the Qatari and U.S. money and equipment that would flow to it. But as the demise of earlier U.S. supported "moderate" groups show money and weapons are not the decisive factor in winning the fights on the ground.

Posted by b at 10:09 AM | Comments (32)

March 03, 2015

The Failing Clinton Candidacy

As opined earlier I believe that a Clinton candidacy for president will inevitably fail. Besides having too much historic baggage through her husbands presidency Hillary Clinton is a person that has been shown to be too brutal and irresponsible in her personal and political behavior to succeed.

This alone should be enough to disqualify her from any public office other than dog catcher:

Hillary Rodham Clinton exclusively used a personal email account to conduct government business as secretary of state, State Department officials said, and may have violated federal requirements that officials’ correspondence be retained as part of the agency’s record.

Mrs. Clinton did not have a government email address during her four-year tenure at the State Department. Her aides took no actions to have her personal emails preserved on department servers at the time, as required by the Federal Records Act.

Throughout four years as secretary of state Clinton used insecure, off-the-record,  private email to conduct state business. This to avoid public and historic scrutiny of her management and personal attitudes. At the end of the Bush presidency several Bush figures were condemned by Democrats for using exactly such a scheme. That Clinton then did the same, despite strengthened laws against it, is baffling. How did she expect to avoid the shit-storm this was sure to raise?

This scandal comes right after one about the Clinton Foundation where her family was taking in millions in foreign and domestic bribes without any scrutiny of conflict of interests by the State Department's ethics lawyers.

Her political carrier at the State Department is littered with failures. The "reset" with Russia failed when she installed an amateur ideologue as ambassador to Moscow. Here "pivot to Asia" as well as her "new silk road" phantasies never materialized. Her bragging over her attack on Libya - "We came, we saw, he died" - ended in the death of a U.S. ambassador and the Jihadist anarchy throughout the country. She installed the neocon Victoria Nuland in the State Department who failed on Ukraine. Indeed Clinton herself is the neocon "vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes".

Only Republican strategist say that her campaign could still succeed. They do so because she would be the easiest target for them to beat. If the Democrats want a serious chance in taking the next presidency they will need a more plausible candidate.

Posted by b at 09:18 AM | Comments (71)

March 02, 2015

Open Thread 2015-11

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:03 PM | Comments (69)

March 01, 2015

Whodunnit?

So someone killed Boris Nemtsov while the 56 year old man walked with his 22 year old Ukrainian "model" on a bridge in Moscow. There is some CCTV coverage of the crime scene.

As vice-premier under Boris Yeltsin Nemtsov was at least partially responsible for the mafiazation of the Russian economy. Everyone but some oligarchs and the "western" neoliberals was happy when he and the Yeltsin gang had to leave.

After he was kicked out and until yesterday Nemtsov was a very minor opposition politician polling at some 1%. The communists, the real opposition party in Russia, poll at about 20%. No one in the government had reason to care about or fear Nemtsov.

The former Soviet president Gorbachov points to those who will gain from Nemtsov's death:

Asked if he thought anti-Russian forces abroad might exploit the crime in pursuit of their own ends, he argued this would definitely happen.

"Of course, certain forces will try to take advantage of this crime for their own ends - all of them are thinking how to get rid of Putin, aren't they? But I don't think, after all, that the West will go as far as that, that it will use that crime to attain its own purposes. However, that was unquestionably the goal of the criminals who murdered Boris," he said.

"Crimes of this kind are taken on by executors who are hard to find. All efforts must be made to find the criminals," the ex-president said.

Gorbachov still uses rose colored glasses when locking at the "west". The "west" would never use a crime to attain its purpose? That is laughable naive.

And what about all those legitimate and popular opposition politicians currently getting suicided in Ukraine?

So whodunnit?

Someone with relations to the "model"? Someone hurt in the gangster "privatizations" executed under Nemtsov's rule? Some Ukrainian oligarch interested in creating more schism between the "west" and Russia? Some "western" government plotting the destabilization of Russia?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Posted by b at 08:41 AM | Comments (242)

February 27, 2015

Human Rights Watch Accuses Syria Of "Barrel Bomb" Damage Created By U.S. Attacks

Human Rights Watch has been part of a sectarian anti-Syrian propaganda campaign. It is hyping the "barrel bombs", allegedly used by the Syrian government, as inhumane weapons. I have yet to see Human Rights Watch equally damning the indiscriminate use against civilians of improvised rockets by the Jihadist "moderate rebels".

Yesterday Human Rights Watch send out this tweet:


bigger

According to HRW the picture of the destroyed town is somehow related to Syrian "barrel bombs". That is not the case.

Cont. reading: Human Rights Watch Accuses Syria Of "Barrel Bomb" Damage Created By U.S. Attacks

Posted by b at 03:57 AM | Comments (51)

February 26, 2015

Open Thread 2015-10

News & views ...

Posted by b at 03:24 PM | Comments (243)

February 25, 2015

Yemen: Reuters Sells Unfounded Activist Claims As U.N. Expert Findings

Reuters is supposed to be a high quality news agency but some of its reporting is ridiculously wrong or slated in ways that turn rumors into "facts". Consider this current Reuters piece on Yemen.

Yemen ex-president amassed up to $60 billion, colluded with rebels: U.N. experts

(Reuters) - Yemeni ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh is suspected of corruptly amassing as much as $60 billion, equivalent to Yemen's annual GDP, during his long rule, and colluding in a militia takeover last year, U.N.-appointed investigators have told the Security Council.

The report by the world body's Panel of Experts on Yemen echoes criticism by his opponents that Saleh's rule from 1978 to 2012 was marred by graft, and that even out of office he is fomenting instability - allegations he has consistently denied.

The headline lets it seem that U.N. experts claim that Saleh amassed up to $60 billion.

But that is wrong. The U.N. experts do not claim such. In their report (Word download) they repeat anonymous allegations which seem unfounded and unsourced. They write:

182. Ali Abdullah Saleh, on the other hand, is in a very different situation. Ali Abdullah Saleh was President of Yemen for 33 years, until 2012, and during that time he is alleged to have amassed assets between $32 billion and $60 billion, most of which are believed to have been transferred abroad under false names or the names of others holding the assets on his behalf. These assets are said to take the form of property, cash, shares, gold and other valuable commodities. At the time of writing this report, these assets were believed to be located in at least 20 countries.

The U.N. experts repeat hear-say without any factual evidence to support it. How do such claims pulled from hot air justify a headline claim of "Yemen ex-president amassed up to $60 billion"?

A footnote in the U.N. expert report point to the possible source on which they may have based the above. It is link to an article written by one Catherine Shakdam for yourmiddleast.com. Shakam writes:

According to Abdul Ghani-Iryani, a Yemeni development analyst, Yemen’s former leader, Ali Abdullah Saleh, and his cronies skimmed about $2 billion a year for private gain over the last three decades – money stolen from the fuel-subsidy programme that uses up to 10% of Yemen’s GDP, as well as other ventures involving abuse of power, extortion and embezzlement. It has been estimated that Saleh's family holdings alone run well into tens of billions of dollars, much of it held overseas.

Some $2 billion per year over 30 years and there is your $60 billion claim. But note that this claim, again without any evidence, is not solely about Saleh but includes "his cronies" and various corrupt schemes that may have been used.

In an interview on Democracy Now Abdul Ghani-Iryani, the source of the claim, was introduced as "political analyst and co-founder of the Democratic Awakening Movement". The Middle East Institute says says

Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani is a businessman and a political consultant based in Sana‘a. He received an MA from Portland State University and an MPH from Boston University.

So Abdul-Ghani al-Iryani is U.S. educated, businessman, political consultant, development analyst, political analyst or whatever. But he mainly is an anti-Saleh activist (U.S.paid?) making some unfounded claims about Saleh which are then quoted as pure "allegations" by U.N. experts and turned into U.N. expert findings by Reuters.

The Reuters assertion that the U.N. expert report "echoes criticism by his opponents" is true. But that is not, as readers would assume, because the experts independently confirmed those claims but because their report is solely based on and sourced to those Saleh opponents claims.

The collapse of the government (recommended) in Yemen has many reasons but the main ones are not at all related to Saleh or to corruption. Yemen's oil production has plummeted and the government revenues with it. Yemen lacks water and other resources and has to import much of its food. There is a demographic youth bulge and very high unemployment which pushes the young into the various fighting forces. It is difficult to see how any government, even a non-corrupt one, could have prevented those problems.

A society that is historically based on tribes and patronage simply does not work like a liberal democracy. The real world examples (recom.) of corruption in Yemen do not point to only one man or only one institution that is corrupt but to a "way of life" where disguised bribes need to be paid to whatever entity one needs to work with. Those in positions of power need those funds to pay off those they need to support for family or tribal reasons and to pay off those they need to support their position. They will also skim off some money to allow themselves a more affluent life style.

Those who lose out in these schemes and are not connected to the money flow, and there are many, will of course rally against them and increase the general insecurity.  The corruption problem must be tackled over time through changes in law and new incentive structures. But it will not be done in a day or through a simple change at the top of the pyramid.

To claim that all bad, all corruption and all vanished money in Yemen is somehow to be blamed on the former president Saleh, as his opponents, the U.N. experts and Reuters seem to do, is nonsense. It is not based on facts but on lazy thinking and more dubious motivations. It does not help in understanding Yemen and it does not help in solving Yemen's problems. It can only lead to more misguided and ill advised interferences.

Posted by b at 11:27 AM | Comments (26)

February 24, 2015

U.S. Pushes For Escalation, Arms Kiev By Laundering Weapons Through Abu Dhabi

The U.S. is circumventing its own proclaimed policy of not delivering weapons to Ukraine and is thereby, despite urgent misgivings from its European allies, increasing the chance of a wider catastrophic war in Europe.

The Ukrainian coup president Poroshenko went to an international arms exhibition in Dubai. There he met the U.S. chief military weapon salesman.

ABU DHABI – Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is expected to meet with U.S. defense companies Tuesday during a major arms exhibition here even though the American government has not cleared the firms to sell Kiev lethal weapons.

Frank Kendall, the Pentagon’s acquisition executive is scheduled to meet with a Ukrainian delegation Monday evening, however Poroshenko is not expected to be there. Kendall, in an interview, said he will be bringing a message of support from the United States.

“I expect the conversation will be about their needs,” Kendall told Defense One a few hours before the meeting. “We’re limited at this point in time in terms of what we’re able to provide them, but where we can be supportive, we want to be.”

Poroshenko, urged on by his neocon U.S. sponsors, wants total war with Russia. Porosheko's deputy foreign minister, currently on a visit in Canada, relayed the message:

Ukraine's deputy foreign minister says he is preparing for "full-scale war" against Russia and wants Canada to help by supplying lethal weapons and the training to use them.

Vadym Prystaiko, who until last fall was Ukraine's ambassador to Canada, says the world must not be afraid of joining Ukraine in the fight against a nuclear power.

In the mind of these folks waging a "full-scale war" against a nuclear superpower like Russia is nothing to be afraid of. These are truly lunatics.

Russia says that U.S. weapons delivered to Ukraine would create real trouble. They mean it. To hint how Russia would counter such a move it just offered a spiced up S-300 missile defense system to Iran:

Sergei Chemezov, chief executive of the Russian defense corporation Rostec, said Tehran is considering its offer to sell an Antey-2500 anti-ballistic air defense system,

The Antey-2500 is a mobile surface-to-air missile system that offers enhanced combat capabilities, including the destruction of aircraft and ballistic missiles at a range of about 1,500 miles, according to its manufacturer, Almaz-Antey.

The system was developed from a less advanced version -- the 1980s-generation S-300V system -- which has a 125-mile range. A 2007 contract to supply the S-300 system to Iran was canceled in 2010, after the U.S. and Israel lobbied against it, ...

Such a system in Iran would, in case of a conflict, endanger every U.S. airplane in the Middle East.

But that threat did not deter the U.S. As the U.S. arms dealer in Abu Dhabi said: "where we can be supportive, we want to be". The U.S. will now disguise its arms-to-Kiev program by laundering it through its sponsored Middle East dictatorships:

Christopher Miller ‏@ChristopherJM 
Poroshenko, UAE agree on "delivery of certain types of armaments and military hardware to #Ukraine."

The United Arab Emirates is not known as arms producer. But it buys lots of U.S. weapons. It will now forward those to Ukraine while the U.S. will claim that it does not arm Ukraine. Who do they think will believe them?

This is again a dangerous escalation of the conflict in Ukraine by U.S. machinations. It comes at the same moment that Russia, France, Germany and Ukraine meet in Paris to push for faster implementation of the Minsk 2 accord for a ceasefire and for a political solution of the civil war in Ukraine:

On Monday spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry Yevhen Perebyinis said that during their Paris meeting, the foursome of foreign ministers will focus on the implementation of the Minsk agreements and withdrawal of heavy artillery in Donbas.

The Ukrainian government has said that it will not withdraw its artillery as long as there are still skirmishes around a few flashpoints along the ceasefire line. In Shirokyne east of Mariupol the government aligned neo-nazi battalion Azov continues to attack the federalists. The Ukrainian propaganda claims that the federalists plan an immediate attack on Mariupol. That is nonsense and the federalist have denied any plans for further fighting. Unlike the Ukrainian government the federalist started to pull back their artillery and will continue to do so.

The Ukrainian government is breaking the Minsk 2 agreement by not pulling back its heavy artillery from the ceasefire line. The U.S. is arming the Ukrainian army and will soon train its volunteer neo-nazi "national guard" forces.

The major European powers, Germany, France and Russia, try to tame the conflict down. The U.S. and its poodles in Kiev continue to poor oil into the fire. If the Europeans do not succeed in pushing back against Washington the Ukraine with burn and Europe with it.

In Further Escalation U.S. Delivery Of Weapons To Kiev Will Be Laundered Through Abu Dhabi

Posted by b at 10:20 AM | Comments (60)

February 23, 2015

White House Denies Interference In Venezuela - Promises More Of It

White House Press Briefing by Press Secretary Josh Earnest, 2/20/2015

To Question 1: "We, of course, do not interfere in Venezuela!"

Q: What is the reaction of the administration to the latest events in Venezuela? And also, President Nicolás Maduro accused the government, the U.S. government of trying to overthrow his government in a plot that they say they discovered last Wednesday.

MR. EARNEST: These allegations that we’ve seen from the Maduro government, like all previous such allegations, are ludicrous. The fact is the Venezuelan government should stop trying to blame the United States and other members of the international community for events inside Venezuela. The Venezuelan government actually needs to deal with the grave situation that it faces.

The United States is not promoting unrest in Venezuela, nor are we attempting to undermine Venezuela’s economy or its government.

To Question 2: "We, of course,  do interfere in Venezuela! We obviously will now do even more of it!"

Q The U.S. government has already taken some actions against Venezuelan individuals with some sanctions. Are you considering any other action? Are you seeking -- maybe seeking help from other countries in the hemisphere, like Brazil, that could put pressure on the government of Nicolás Maduro?

MR. EARNEST: Well, I can tell you that the Treasury Department and the State Department are obviously closely monitoring this situation and are considering tools that may be available that could better steer the Venezuelan government in the direction that they believe they should be headed. That obviously means that we’re continuing to engage other countries in the region in talking about operating in coordinated fashion as we deal with the situation there.

Do these spokespersons even recognize how those proclaimed positions, uttered just seconds apart, conflict with each other?

Posted by b at 02:14 PM | Comments (32)

February 22, 2015

What Did Turkey Pay To Free The Süleyman Şah IS Hostages?

Last night some 700 heavily armed Turkish soldiers invaded Syria and evacuated some 40 of their comrades. Those 40 had guarded the tomb of the 12th century military leader of the Seljuk Empire, Süleyman Şah. The area of the tomb was seen as a Turkish enclave since a 1921 agreement with the then colonial administrator of the Levant, France:

During the operation that was launched late Feb. 21, airborne early warning and control (AWACS) aircraft, military helicopters and drones were on duty as 39 tanks and 57 armored vehicles penetrated the border with support teams from Turkey’s Special Forces. Live footage and other data from the field were followed in an operation room at the General Staff’s headquarters.

Without engaging in any clashes, Turkish troops left Syria early Feb. 22, after detonating the symbolic building to prevent ISIL militants from using it as a base.

Davutoğlu announced in a series of tweets on Feb. 22 that the artifacts had been “temporarily” brought to Turkey, while the Turkish army “took control of an area in the Ashma region of Syria, raising our flag, where Süleyman Şah will later be transferred.”

So Turkey wants to steal more Syrian land next to the Turkish border to put the remains of the Shah there. Why should that be considered legal?

But back to the reason of the evacuation. The troops at the tomb, only some 40 kilometers from the Turkish border, were surrounded by Islamic State fighters. Usually Turkey would rotate the guards every three or four weeks but those evacuated now have been at the tomb for over 11 month. They were practically hostages of the Islamic State. So why did the Islamic State let them go?

It is very unlikely that the Turkish operation was not known to IS. Turkey used nearly 100 armored vehicles. With Islamic State fighters swarming all over south Turkey the assembling of this force near to the border will not have gone unnoticed. Two days ago Turkey had informed the Kurdish YPK, who fight IS in the area, of the operation. When the troops entered Syria they were filmed (vid) passing a huge Islamic State flag at the border station.

The Islamic State does not like tombs. It has demolished hundreds of important historic tombs in the areas it rules in Iraq and Syria. It did not touch the tomb of Süleyman Şah but kept the troops guarding it under its control. IS must have known that the Turks were coming to evacuate the soldiers and the remains but it did nothing against them. How come?

As Elijah Magnier remarks

We can say loudly: The "Islamic State" group allowed a NATO member army to enter its territory and gave it a free passage.

Indeed. Which leads me to this question:

What did Turkey give to the Islamic State to get the Süleyman Şah hostages freed without a fight?

Turkey already has a free trade agreement and bilateral touristic facilitation with the Islamic State. Something additional and very valuable for the Islamic State must have been agreed upon in exchange for the return of the hostages. What is it?

The U.S. wants to cooperate with Turkey to train Syrian fighters to fight against the Islamic State. It will be quite important to have the answer to the above question before continuing down that road.

Posted by b at 07:16 AM | Comments (68)

February 20, 2015

Biden Donates Counter Mortar Radar To Russian Weapon Exhibition

via TASS - The Technical Institute of the Army of the Russian Federation would like to express its gratitude to U.S. Vice President Joe Biden for donating the AN/TPQ-48A Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar, NSN 5840-01-541-8783, Serial #369 to our museum. We intend to add the system, after a short period of technical evaluation, to our permanent public exhibition.

The above press release has not been written yet. But it might well soon be published. Consider:

November 21, 2014 - US delivers anti-mortar radars to Ukraine: Pentagon

Washington (AFP) - The US military has delivered three radars to Ukraine designed to detect incoming mortar fire, the Pentagon said Friday, amid appeals from Kiev for Washington to send weapons to help fight pro-Russian rebels.

The counter-mortar radar systems were flown to Ukraine in a C-17 cargo plane that accompanied US Vice President Joe Biden, who paid a visit to Kiev on the first anniversary of protests that unleashed a year of upheaval.

Before Biden flew to Ukraine a Presidential Drawdown Notfication documented the serial number of the three counter mortar radars he took with him. The value of one such radar was noted as $117,968.

Cont. reading: Biden Donates Counter Mortar Radar To Russian Weapon Exhibition

Posted by b at 02:45 PM | Comments (92)

Open Thread 2015-09

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:43 PM | Comments (183)

February 19, 2015

Syria: Special Forces From Turkey Attack The Syrian Arab Army

Yesterday the Syrian Arab Army tried to relief the insurgent-besieged villages of Nubl and al-Zahraa and to close the corridor between the city of Aleppo and the Turkish border to the north. The troops captured three villages and nearly closed the gap in their ring around Aleppo but were pushed out again in an onslaught by hundreds of enemies coming from the direction of the Turkish border.


The map shows the areas gained and lost again by the SAA in light green. (bigger)

A bloody video from the aftermath (now deleted) showed several dozens of dead Syrian Army fighters massacred in what looked like a well executed ambush.

This was curious as the usual insurgent groups in the area are not know for good military planning:

Regime sources say that the defining characteristic of yesterday’s “ferocious” battle was Turkish support for the armed groups, as evidenced by the transfer of fighters and military supplies from inside Turkey to Aleppo’s northern countryside, including Caucasian fighters who answer directly to Turkish intelligence.

On Twitter one Ömer Khãn, who claims to be a Turkish soldier and is an avid supporter of the Syrian opposition, looks at the gruesome pictures of the dead soldiers and remarks (1, 2, 3):

Who where these SAA up against in #Mallah ? Shooting only Head is feat for a Regular Army, much less for #Rebels.

SAA skulls shattered/shot in/bet Eyes. this is only work of special units, unlikely any Rebel Org.

#Aleppo Whoever killed those SAA was no Mere Rebel, Pro-Reg cry about Turkish Intervention.

I concur. Whoever attacked those Syrian troops must have had, unlike the usual insurgents or jihadists, some extensive and professional special forces experience.

This is not the first time that Turkey actively intervenes in Syria. Recently released Turkish court documents show that Turkey, on top of logistic help, gave direct artillery fire support to the insurgents in several case.

There are new reports that the U.S. plans to give the insurgents radios and other equipment to call in air strikes especially to the Kurds. But the U.S. has already given such equipment to a few selected Kurdish fighters in Kobani for use against the Islamic State. I doubt very much that these will be given to "moderate rebels" or will be used against the Syrian army.

I also doubt that the U.S. will really train or further equip additional "moderate" anti-Syrian fighters. The biggest lobbyist for such arming was the former U.S ambassador to Syria Robert Ford. He has now changed course and admits that there are no "moderates" who could sensibly be armed:

Cont. reading: Syria: Special Forces From Turkey Attack The Syrian Arab Army

Posted by b at 12:53 PM | Comments (78)

February 18, 2015

The "West's" Dilema After Debaltseve: What To Do About Poroshenko?

Despite the best that has been done by everyone — the gallant fighting of the military and naval forces, the diligence and assiduity of Our servants of the State, and the devoted service of Our one hundred million people — the war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan's advantage, while the general trends of the world have all turned against her interest.
Emperor Hirohito acknowledging Japan's defeat

The Ukrainian puppet president Poroshenko should have delivered a similar speech. Indeed the war situation in Ukraine has developed not necessarily to his governments advantage. But the speech Proshenko gave (see below) was even more delusional than Hirohito's whitewashing.

Since six days ago several thousand Ukrainian government troops were surrounded in the Debaltsevo pocket. The only road out towards friendly lines was mined and under direct and indirect opposition fire. Several attempts to break out and also into the pocket were defeated with lots of lives and material lost.

Since yesterday and after severe artillery preparations the federalist troops are storming the city. They claim that some 3,000 government troops died there and some 1,000 capitulated (vid) and went into captivity. A few hundred sneaked out at night mostly by foot and today reached the government controlled Artemivsk some 30 kilometers to the north of Debaltsevo. Others fled south away from their own lines and deeper into the pocket. They will be mopped up in due time. Huge amounts of weapons and ammunition was left behind for the federalists to pic up. Reporters in Artemivsk observed some 40-50 dead and some 200 wounded arriving. These were, reporters said, mostly casualties of the escape under fire, not of the earlier fights in Debaltseve. Those who made it out alive are in seriously angry about their higher-ups.

The Minsk-2 meeting was urgently arranged by the German chancellor Merkel when the situation around Debaltsevo deteriorated. But during the negotiations in Minsk Poroshenko insisted that there was no pocket and that his troops were in total control of the situation. The French president Hollande tried to explain the real situation to him but to no avail.

The ceasefire was arranged but the Debaltsevo pocket was not mentioned in the protocols. The federalists reasonably concluded that the pocket was within their acknowledged lines and could be eliminated without breaking the general agreed upon ceasefire. Over the last days we have heard very little protest against this move from the "western" side. Was there a silent agreement to make Poroshenko eat his necktie over the issue like his new adviser Saakashvili once did?

Now the above is the reality. And here is Proshenko's delusional version delivered in a speech today:

I can inform now that this morning the Armed Forces of Ukraine together with the National Guard completed the operation on the planned and organized withdrawal of a part of units from Debaltseve. We can say that 80% of troops have been already withdrawn. We are waiting for two more columns. Warriors of the 128th brigade, parts of units of the 30th brigade, the rest of the 25th and the 40th battalions, Special Forces, the National Guard and the police have already left the area.
...
We were asserting and proved: Debaltseve was under our control, there was no encirclement, and our troops left the area in a planned and organized manner with all the heavy weaponry: tanks, APCs, self-propelled artillery and vehicles.
...
It is a strong evidence of combat readiness of the Armed Forces and efficiency of the military command. I can say that despite tough artillery and MLRS shelling, according to the recent data, we have 30 wounded out of more than 2,000 warriors.

Many "western" journalist are no streaming into Debaltsevo and their will soon be reports about the real disaster and the real losses the Ukrainian government troops had there. Those will be hard to hide.

It will then be difficult for the "west" to continue working with Poroshenko. He has now been shown to be completely off his rockers. He can no longer be sold to the public as the bearer of the truth, the sincere white knight against the dark forces of Russia.

How will the "west", Obama and his neoconned State Department react to that? Will they prepare a coup against Poroshenko or do they have other means to get rid of their useless puppet or to save the situation?

Posted by b at 10:51 AM | Comments (191)

February 16, 2015

Ukraine - The Ceasefire Stalemates

So who moves first? "No one," say these current news items:

From the first piece:

A shaky new truce in Ukraine was already at risk on its second day Monday as Kiev said there was "no question" of its troops pulling back heavy weapons, and the EU ratcheted up sanctions on Russia.

"There is no question at the moment of us withdrawing heavy weapons" from the frontline because of persistent attacks by pro-Russian rebels, a Ukrainian military spokesman, Vladyslav Seleznyov, told AFP.

From the second report:

The self-proclaimed Donetsk people’s republic is not planning to pull back heavy weaponry until Kiev troops halt shellings, the deputy commander of the DPR’s Defense Ministry’s corps, Eduard Basurin, said on Monday.
...
"The heavy weaponry withdrawal starts only after the ceasefire. And if the Armed Forces of Ukraine do not stop shellings, which come in violation of the Minsk agreements, the DPR militias will not pull back their weaponry," Basurin was quoted by the Donetsk news agency as saying.

The Donetsk troops are pummeling the Ukrainian government troops in the Debaltseve cauldron. Meanwhile the fascist Azov battalion is bragging (video) about attacking Donetsk troops in Shirokino east of Mariupol and Ukrainian artillery is again hitting the destroyed Donetsk airport.

Pressure on both sides is needed to actually implement the ceasefire. But no one is pressuring Kiev. Instead the EU just implemented new sanctions against Russia just after Russia helped to negotiate this ceasefire. The EU did the same after the first Minsk ceasefire agreement. That will not help to convince Russia that good behavior will be honored and rewarded.

The lack of pressure against Kiev is difficult to understand. The federalists had offered to let the government troops encircled in Debaltseve go free, though without their weapons. The government in Kiev rejected that and ordered those troops to keep on fighting. They will all die if they continue to do so. Their big hope is that OSCE observers will come to them and help them to retreat. That will not happen. Their only chance now is to capitulate.

Kiev seems not to understand that it is about to lose at least a quarter of its usable front line troops in that cauldron. But the incompetence of Ukrainian leadership knows no bounds. How can any army, while having superior numbers, lose troops in four cauldrons within just six month?

The "western" European countries arranged the Minsk 2.0 ceasefire especially to first avoid and, when that became impossible, to relief the cauldron:

Debaltsevo was one of the reasons Merkel and Hollande launched their most recent diplomatic offensive nine days ago.

An immediate ceasefire after Minsk would probably have avoided the full enclosure of Debaltseve. But the Ukrainian government held out:

Poroshenko, too, seemed to prefer a delayed cease-fire -- apparently not fully understanding the situation facing his military. The Europeans were trying to protect the Ukrainians from themselves.

Someone other than the Europeans is telling Poroshenko, the Ukrainian president, to sacrifice those troops and to keep the fighting going.

One wonders to what purpose. 

Posted by b at 08:47 AM | Comments (163)

February 15, 2015

NYT Commits Orange Jumpsuit Trademark Infringement

A New York Times piece about new Islamic State offshots infringes on the U.S. military's trademark of using orange jumpsuit when torturing prisoners by assigning that trademark to the Islamic State:

A publication released by the central group last week included a photograph of fighters in Libya with its affiliate there parading 20 Egyptian Christian captives in the Islamic State’s trademark orange jumpsuits, indicating at least a degree of communication.

This is like saying the Statue of Liberty is a trademark of the Islamic State because some of its propaganda videos depicts the Statue as falling down.

It is obvious that the orange jumpsuit trademark is fully owned by the U.S. military and has been used  by it for at least a decade now. Here is some photographic proof.


The Times suggests that the use of orange jumpsuits for prisoners by Jihadi groups is "indicating at least a degree of communication" with the Islamic State. As the trademark attribution by the NYT is wrong the correct conclusion in the NYT's logic is that the Libyan Jihadists have "at least a degree of communication" with the U.S. military.

That conclusion would also be supported by the historic fact that the U.S. in 2011 actively supported the Libyan Jihadist in overthrowing the Libyan government.

But the NYT would like you to forget that. Just like it wants you to forget that the NYT itself propagandized for the war in Iraq and that the U.S. military used the orange jumpsuits for torturing prisoners there, many of whom turned out to be not guilty of anything.

The trademark infringing NYT article itself is a shill piece to propagandize for more global war of terror and for Obama's requests to Congress to give him limitless authority to wage it. But the NYT will conveniently forget that too when the guaranteed blowback will hit home.

Posted by b at 12:42 PM | Comments (33)

February 13, 2015

Open Thread 2015-08

News & views NOT related to current events in Ukraine.

For commenting on current events in Ukraine please go here.

Posted by b at 01:17 PM | Comments (126)

Ukraine Ongoing Thread

Please use this thread for collecting and discussing news and opinions about the current events in Ukraine.

Posted by b at 01:15 PM | Comments (172)

 
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