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September 20, 2018

NYT Admits That Its "Mountain of Evidence" For Russian Collusion Is Smaller Than A Molehill

The New York Times spends 10,000 words in some 199 paragraphs on the alleged 'Russian influence' in the U.S. election.

The Plot to Subvert an Election - Unraveling the Russia Story So Far

For two years, Americans have tried to absorb the details of the 2016 attack —hacked emails, social media fraud, suspected spies — and President Trump’s claims that it’s all a hoax. The Times explores what we know and what it means.

The long piece is a repetition of unproven intelligence claims, spin around a few facts and lots of innuendo. Few readers will ever digest it in full.

That is why this sentence appears near the top in paragraph 5 of a total of 199 paragraphs:

President Trump’s Twitter outbursts that it is all a “hoax” and a “witch hunt,” in the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, have taken a toll on public comprehension.

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One-hundred-and-seventy-eight paragraphs later, near the end of the piece, we read the opposite and learn that Trump is indeed right:

Mr. Trump’s frustration with the Russian investigation is not surprising. He is right that no public evidence has emerged showing that his campaign conspired with Russia in the election interference or accepted Russian money.

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The "mountain of evidence" claimed in paragraph 5 turns out to be "no public evidence" in paragraph 183 near the end of the piece. But 99% of the readers will not walk through the whole mess and the 1% that do will likely miss the contradiction.

As Aaron Maté notes:

This is a pattern: ample words for Trump-Russia innuendo; quiet acknowledgment of no evidence. And 0 words on what has been debunked.

The 'Russian influence' and 'collusion' between Russia and Trump are still what they were two years ago, when the campaign started - they are fake news. Unfortunately the anti-Russian and anti-Trump propaganda campaign has had serious consequences. Censorship in social media increased drastically and international relations with Russia were seriously damaged. The main stream media though, will never take responsibility for that.

Posted by b at 02:42 PM | Comments (38)

Trump's Staff Overrides His Policies - They Are A Dangerous 'Resistance'

Three recent publications claim that U.S. President Trump is not allowed to make policies, that his staff is sabotaging him as much as it can.

An anti-Trump author at the Washington Post, Greg Miller, just released a new book about Trump. The Post prints an excerpt:

‘The Apprentice’ book excerpt: At CIA’s ‘Russia House,’ growing alarm about 2016 election interference

Trump’s admiration for the leader of Russia was inexplicable and never wavered after taking office. He praised the Russian leader, congratulated him, defended him, pursued meetings with him, and fought virtually any policy or punitive measure that might displease him.

A trained intelligence operative, Putin understood the power of playing to someone’s insecurities and ego. On cue, he reciprocated with frequent praise for the president he had sought to install in the White House.

In phone conversations with Trump, Putin would whisper conspiratorially, telling the U.S. president that it wasn’t their fault that they could not consummate the relationship that each had sought. Instead, Putin sought to reinforce Trump’s belief that he was being undermined by a secret government cabal, a bureaucratic “deep state.”

“It’s not us. We get it,” Putin would tell Trump, according to White House aides. “It’s the subordinates fighting against our friendship.”

The Putin quote is probably genuine. But is it "playing to someone's insecurity and ego"? Or is it simply the truth?

Cont. reading: Trump's Staff Overrides His Policies - They Are A Dangerous 'Resistance'

Posted by b at 10:51 AM | Comments (56)

September 19, 2018

Open Thread 2018-48

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:19 PM | Comments (139)

September 18, 2018

Syria - Israel's Provocation Kills Russian Soldiers - Moscow Will Take Political Revenge

Yesterday Turkey and Russia agreed on a further de-escalation in Idelb province in Syria (see the update here). This agreement takes away the chance of an imminent wider war in which the U.S. and some of its allies would use a fake 'chemical attack' as a pretext to launch missiles against a large number of Syrian government targets and military positions.

A peaceful solution of the Idleb situation is unsatisfying for Israel. The successful Syrian defeat of the Jihadi enemy inside the country would allow Syria and its allies to concentrate their forces against Israel. Israel wants the Syrian government destroyed and the country in chaos.

On Sunday September 16 Israel tried to hit an Iranian Boeing 747 freight plane at Damascus airport. The plane allegedly carried an Iranian copy of the Russian S-300 long range air defense System for the Syrian army.

On Monday around 10:00pm local time 4 F-16 jets of the Israeli airforce, coming from the sea, launched missiles against at least three targets on Syria's coast. The strike came only hours after Israel released satellite images of what it called "strategic targets" in Syria. The integrated Syrian and Russian air-defenses responded.

The Israeli air force had warned the Russian forces in Syria only one minute before the strike. A Russian IL-20 electronic warfare airplane (red line) was preparing to land at the Russian airport near Latakia just as the Israeli attack (blue) happened.


Source: Russian defense Ministry - bigger

Cont. reading: Syria - Israel's Provocation Kills Russian Soldiers - Moscow Will Take Political Revenge

Posted by b at 06:09 AM | Comments (386)

September 16, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - Secret Bio-weapons - Skripals - OT 2018-47

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

The theme of the week was the now delayed operation to liberate Idelb governorate in Syria.


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But the White Helmets will have to wait with their next 'chemical weapon' scam. The attack was delayed. The crisis has for now receded but the issue will be back in the news in some six to eight weeks.


The Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva published an extensive investigative piece on the secret U.S. biological weapon laboratory near Tbilisi, Georgia:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - Secret Bio-weapons - Skripals - OT 2018-47

Posted by b at 12:08 PM | Comments (206)

Syria - The Rationale Behind The Delay Of Idleb's Liberation - Updated 2x

Updated (twice) below

Southfront has an excellent longread on the Turkish role in the war on Syria from its very beginning. The piece includes a list of the groups Turkey currently supports and gives an outlook on Turkey's plans:

Turkish Strategy In Northern Syria: Military Operations, Turkish-backed Groups And Idlib Issue.

The conclusion:

In the contemporary military and diplomatic reality surrounding the Syrian crisis, Ankara is pursuing the following tactical goals:
  • To eliminate or at least disarm and limit influence of US-backed Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria;
  • To strengthen a united pro-Turkish opposition Idlib and to eliminate any resistance to it, including in some scenarios the elimination of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies;
  • To facilitate return of refugees from Turkey to Syrian areas under its own control;
If these goals are achieved, Ankara will significantly increase its influence on the diplomatic settlement of the crisis and on the future of the post-war Syria. The returned refugees and supporters of militant groups in the Turkish-controlled part of Syria will become an electoral base of pro-Turkish political figures and parties in case of the implementation of the peaceful scenario. If no wide-scale diplomatic deal on the conflict is reached, one must consider the possibility of a pro-Turkish quasi-state in northern Syria, confirming the thesis that Erdogan is seeking to build a neo-Ottoman empire.

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Elijah J. Magnier confirms our take that the Syrian-Russian operation to liberate Idleb is on hold but not canceled:

Cont. reading: Syria - The Rationale Behind The Delay Of Idleb's Liberation - Updated 2x

Posted by b at 11:05 AM | Comments (106)

September 15, 2018

The Dike Breaks - Netherland Ends Support For "White Helmets" Terrorist Propaganda

Updated below
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The Netherland just announced that it is ending its support for al-Qaeda's propaganda gang, the "White Helmets". It also ends its support for the so called Free Syrian Police. Last week the Netherlands shut down its "non lethal" support for the Free Syrian Army after Dutch news organizations found that members of these groups were accused of terrorism by their General Prosecutor.

According to the Volkskrant daily (in Dutch), the Ministry of Foreign Affairs ended the support for the White Helmets after its Directorate for International Research and Policy Evaluation issued a critical report about them. For the White Helmets, which had received €12.5 million from the Dutch government, it lists the following issues:

  • According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the supervision of the behavior of the rescue workers is 'inadequate'. The organization that supervises, Mayday, based in the Netherlands, is closely intertwined with the White Helmets itself. In practice, donors do not understand the difference between the two organizations.
  • Mayday wants to spend a maximum of 0.9% of its budget on supervision of the work of the White Helmets. 'That is why there is a lack of independent supervision of the activities and results of the project.'
  • The money for the White Helmets is transferred to the Syrian border in cash or enters the country via the hawala system. It is 'problematic' that Mayday does not know how much money is paid via which route. That is why there is a danger that money has fallen into the hands of armed groups. The cash flow can also indirectly be used for illegal trade. Systematic control of the money flow is missing.
  • The White Helmets are active in areas where armed groups are in power that are considered 'unacceptable' for the Netherlands. Contact between the White Helmets and local administrators who work together with extremist organizations is inevitable.

The seemingly intentional lack of transparency practically guarantees that much of the more than $150 million the White Helmets received from various governments will have flown into the private pockets of the people who organize the scam.

This blog published several pieces about the White Helmets, mostly pointing out their obviously faked media productions:

For background information on the White Helmets the earlier pieces by Vanessa Beeley's at 21stCenturyWire´are still the best: Syria’s White Helmets: War by Way of Deception – Part I and Part II – Syria’s White Helmets: ‘Moderate Executioners’.

Vanessa Beeley, Eva Barlett (vid) and others have tried for years to point out the nefarious scheme behind the propaganda scam "White Helmets". Roger Waters rightly calls them (vid) a "fake propaganda construct for terrorists". But 'western' media loved the dramatic fake photos and videos the White Helmets produced, partly because they could put them into print and on screen free of any charge. Whoever criticized them and questioned their narratives was publicly smeared and derided.

The Volkkrant notes:

Cont. reading: The Dike Breaks - Netherland Ends Support For "White Helmets" Terrorist Propaganda

Posted by b at 03:30 PM | Comments (92)

September 14, 2018

Syria - Al-Qaeda And Turkey Stage "Peaceful Civilians" Events

Turkey and other supporters of the terrorists in Syria arranged for fresh Friday demonstrations by "civilians" in Idleb governorate. These are supposed to show the 'western' public that the population of the al-Qaeda controlled province is still in favor of the anti-Assad "revolution".


Source video - bigger

Some tweets from yesterday make clear that these demonstrations are a highly choreographed propaganda exercise:

TØM CΛT @TomtheBasedCat - 17:34 utc- 13 Sep 2018

Supposedly, an array of European press agencies with security will enter Idlib city tomorrow to cover some demonstrations there.

Idelb is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS), an internationally banned al-Qaeda organization. Turkey, which has friendly relations with al-Qaeda in Syria, will have arranged for the security of the foreign media.

Some prominent people also spoke about the event:

Harald Doornbos @HaraldDoornbos - 19:08 utc - 13 Sep 2018

Interesting. Son of Al-Qaeda co-founder Abdullah Azzam, Huthaifa Azzam, calls on opposition in Idlib not to raise black/jihadi flags during tomorrow's protest but only revolution flags because there are international journalists on the ground reporting on the protests.


original tweet - bigger

For once al-Qaeda does not want its flag to be seen. The demonstrations must only show "peaceful civilians".

Sam Heller, now with Crisis Group, caught two voice recordings that were distributed via Telegram. It is not completely clear that these are legit, but they make sense:

Cont. reading: Syria - Al-Qaeda And Turkey Stage "Peaceful Civilians" Events

Posted by b at 11:52 AM | Comments (119)

September 13, 2018

This Anti-China Foreign Policy Piece Makes No Sense

A recent Foreign Policy piece on the reeducation campaign in China's Xinjiang region is another example of nonsensical claims made in the current anti-China propaganda campaign.


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Notice the picture caption:

Uighur people pick up their children from school on July 27, 2017, in Kashgar City, Xinjiang, where everyday activities such as wearing a headscarf in the presence of the PRC flag can be cause for detainment.

The picture caption makes no sense. Carl Zha points out that every school in China flies the People's Republic of China flag. It is raised in a weekly ceremony each Monday morning. All the women in the picture above wear headscarfs in the presence of a PRC flag. Will they all be detained for some ideological training? How come they show no fear of being thrown into a "concentration camp"?

Cont. reading: This Anti-China Foreign Policy Piece Makes No Sense

Posted by b at 03:06 PM | Comments (86)

Syria - Turkish Tantrum Delays Liberation Of Idleb

Turkey is again turning to the U.S. to achieve its aim of controlling and annexing north Syria.

At the Tehran summit of the Russian, Iranian and Turkish presidents, Turkey presented a (likely U.S. induced plan) for Idleb governorate:

It included:
  • prolongation of the deescalation ceasefire
  • 12 armed groups, including Hayat Tahrir al Sham to be disbanded
  • Turkey will train a new rebel force to control Idleb under Turkish command
  • Groups who resist will be targeted in counter terrorism operations
  • ...

Russia and Iran rejected the plan. Idleb is controlled by Hayat Tahrir al Sham (HTS) (vid) which is an internationally banned terrorist group affiliated with al-Qaeda. Turkey had over a year to solve the HTS problem under the existing de-escaltion agreement and failed.

HTS, foreign Jihadis, as well as 'moderate' Islamists affiliated with Turkey prevent civilians from leaving and terrorize the population:

As a possible showdown approaches, the rebels have arrested and tortured people they accuse of conceding defeat, sowing fear in the local population. A doctor was recently pulled from his home at night, witnesses said. A pistachio peddler was arrested as masked men patrolled the street.
...
Monitoring groups and local residents put most of the blame on HTS, formerly known as Jabhat al-Nusra, but say the Turkish-backed fighters have also arrested dozens of people.
...
[R]ebel groups have embarked on their wave of ­arrests, accusing those they ­detain of secret communications with government representatives. Many have been taken to secret prisons and tortured, groups documenting the arrests say.
...
“Although this is certainly why some people have been arrested, the problem now is that it is also being used by al-Nusra to arrest the people who criticize their behavior, or to arrest their opponents,” said Fadel Abdul Ghany, director of the Syrian Network for Human Rights, a monitoring group.

After the Tehran summit the Syrian and Russian operation to liberate Idleb was to commence. The troops were in place,  air as well as artillery attacks to 'shape' the battlefield were ongoing.

But Erdogan again turned on his partners and is back flirting with the U.S. he otherwise despises. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal he  begged for U.S. and NATO help:

Cont. reading: Syria - Turkish Tantrum Delays Liberation Of Idleb

Posted by b at 07:13 AM | Comments (98)

September 12, 2018

Open Thread 2018-46

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:40 PM | Comments (136)

September 11, 2018

A Few Items Related To Syria

The U.S. candidate to (again) become Prime Minister of Iraq, Haider al-Abadi, is out of the race. After the recent riots in Basra the party of Moqtada al-Sadr renounced its support for his candidacy. Even before that Abadi lacked the votes in parliament to get elected. On top of that Ajatollah Sistani let it be known that he will not support any candidate who had already tried and failed to solve Iraq's problems. Former Prime Minister Maliki and Abadi both fall into that category.

U.S. envoy Brett McGurk had tried to press the Sunni and Kurdish factions to support Abadi and encouraged the Saudis to bribe Moqtada al-Sadr.  He failed. It now looks like the various Shia parties, plus some Sunni and Kurdish independents, have a solid coalition large enough to reign the country. Most of them want the U.S. military to leave Iraq. Iraq will get a new prime minister and it will not be the person that U.S. would like to see in that role. This will create some serious logistic difficulties for the increasing U.S. deployment in Syria.

The fight against ISIS in Iraq is not over. The political instability allows ISIS to return (vid) in the form of a lose guerrilla army. Iraq still lacks some tools, intelligence and nighttime fighting capabilities, to wear down these groups. With an anti-U.S. government the ISIS problem will certainly increase as the U.S. will gain use ISIS to keep a foot in the door.

Robert Fisk travels along the frontline of Idleb governorate in Syria. He sees remarkably few Syrian forces. He expects that the upcoming attack will smaller than expected and a rather slow moving affair.

Geographer Fabrice Balanche reasonably assumes that the Syrian army will, in a first phase, only attack the Turkish supported "moderate" rebels, painted in light green, in the southern part of the Idleb pocket. The Al-Qaeda/Nusra/HTS brigades, painted in middle dark green, would only be attacked in a later phase. This fits to the observations Robert Fisk made on the ground.


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That the "moderate" rebels are not moderate at all is again proven through a recent scandal in the Netherlands. The Dutch newscaster NOS Nieuwsuur and the daily newspaper Trouw report (in Dutch) that the Dutch government until very recently spent at least €25 million to provide "moderate" rebels in Syria with pick-up trucks, uniforms, satellite phones, cameras, medical kits, tents and rubber mattresses.

Cont. reading: A Few Items Related To Syria

Posted by b at 01:40 PM | Comments (103)

September 09, 2018

MoA Week In Review - Open Thread 2018-45

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

The timestamp question is solved, but there still many, many other inconsistencies.

There is a report of a very large Turkish Army convoy entering Syria's Idleb province. That is wishful thinking by some "rebel" circles. Turkey is only strengthening its border position. It is unlikely to intervene in the Syrian and Russian 'Idleb Dawn' operation to free the province of terrorists.

---

 Finally a realistic assessment of the British role in World War II:

Peter Hitchens @ClarkeMicah - 7:40 utc- 9 Sep 2018

Actually no, we didn't Win the Second World War. We started it, but, thanks to our weakness and shortage of cash had to hand it over to the USA and the USSR half way through. First extracts, in the Mail on Sunday, from my new book 'The Phoney Victory'

The limeys will be livid about this insult and ignore the truth. Recommended.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 01:20 PM | Comments (213)

The Strategic Aspect Of Bashing China's Re-education of Uyghurs

The New York Times reports on China's re-education program for Uygurs in Xinjiang, who are in danger for falling to Islamist extremism. The report is part of a larger U.S. campaign to instrumentalize the issue as a pressure point against China. It is a strategic issue for both sides.

The lede:

HOTAN, China — On the edge of a desert in far western China, an imposing building sits behind a fence topped with barbed wire. Large red characters on the facade urge people to learn Chinese, study law and acquire job skills. Guards make clear that visitors are not welcome.

Inside, hundreds of ethnic Uighur Muslims spend their days in a high-pressure indoctrination program, where they are forced to listen to lectures, sing hymns praising the Chinese Communist Party and write “self-criticism” essays, according to detainees who have been released.

The goal is to remove any devotion to Islam.

There are rumors that up to a million people are moved through such programs. That estimate is based on only 8 vague interviews with locals. The real number is likely in the lower thousands. There is no evidence that any serious harm is done to them.

The NYT report includes this gem of Orientalism:

One official directive warns people to look for 75 signs of “religious extremism,” including behavior that would be considered unremarkable in other countries: growing a beard as a young man, praying in public places outside mosques or even abruptly trying to give up smoking or drinking.

The writers of the New York Times seem to have little knowledge of their own city. In 2007 the New York Police Department published a study on Islamist radicalization that remarked on exactly those points:

As these individuals adopt Salafism, typical signatures include:
  • Becoming alienated from one’s former life; affiliating with like-minded individuals
  • Joining or forming a group of like-minded individuals in a quest to strengthen one’s dedication to Salafi Islam
  • Giving up cigarettes, drinking, gambling and urban hip-hop gangster clothes.
  • Wearing traditional Islamic clothing, growing a beard
  • Becoming involved in social activism and community issues

The Chinese government probably copied its list of signs of religious radicalization from the NYPD and other 'western' sources. A French law prohibits public praying in the street. Other European states enacted laws against the wearing of certain religious attire. The Chinese do not lead in such analysis, they follow 'western' examples.

The re-education program became necessary after religious and even ethnic radicalization in Xinjiang became a real problem for the local population and the government. Deep down the NYT acknowledges this:

Cont. reading: The Strategic Aspect Of Bashing China's Re-education of Uyghurs

Posted by b at 12:49 PM | Comments (111)

September 08, 2018

NYT Reconfirms U.S. Coup Plot In Venezuela - Adds Pro-Coup Propaganda

U.S. rejects claim by Venezuela's Maduro that U.S. envoys engaged in conspiracy - Reuters - May 22 2018

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. State Department said on Tuesday it rejected accusations by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro that two top U.S. diplomats were engaged in what Maduro called a “military conspiracy” or had been meddling in the country’s economic and political issues.

Maduro earlier on Tuesday ordered the expulsion of U.S. charge d’affaires Todd Robinson and another senior diplomat, Brian Naranjo, ordering them to leave Venezuela within 48 hours.

As the saying goes: "Never believe anything in politics until it has been officially denied." The above denial confirmed Nicolas Maduro's claim of U.S. coup attempts against the Venezuelan government. A new report reconfirms the plot and reveals some new details of the still unwritten larger story.

Trump Administration Discussed Coup Plans With Rebel Venezuelan Officers - New York Times - September 8 2018

The Trump administration held secret meetings with rebellious military officers from Venezuela over the last year to discuss their plans to overthrow President Nicolás Maduro, according to American officials and a former Venezuelan military commander who participated in the talks.
...
The administration initially considered dispatching Juan Cruz, a veteran Central Intelligence Agency official who recently stepped down as the White House’s top Latin America policymaker. But White House lawyers said it would be more prudent to send a career diplomat instead.
...
After the first meeting, which took place in the fall of 2017, the diplomat reported that the Venezuelans didn’t appear to have a detailed plan and had showed up at the encounter hoping the Americans would offer guidance or ideas, officials said.
...

Cont. reading: NYT Reconfirms U.S. Coup Plot In Venezuela - Adds Pro-Coup Propaganda

Posted by b at 11:09 AM | Comments (125)

September 07, 2018

Syria - U.S. Reveals Underpants Plan For Indefinite Occupation

Today the United States officially announced a new policy in its war on Syria. It is an equivalent to the three step business plan (vid) of the underpants gnomes:

The new U.S. plan is to: 1. keep north-east Syria indefinitely occupied, 2. ???, 3. Iran leaves Syria and the 'regime' in Damascus falls:

President Trump, who just five months ago said he wanted “to get out” of Syria and bring U.S. troops home soon, has agreed to a new strategy that indefinitely extends the military effort there and launches a major diplomatic push to achieve American objectives, according to senior State Department officials.

Although the military campaign against the Islamic State has been nearly completed, the administration has redefined its goals to include the exit of all Iranian military and proxy forces from Syria, and establishment of a stable, nonthreatening government acceptable to all Syrians and the international community.

The first major step of the "diplomatic push" is to prevent the imminent Syrian army operation against al-Qaeda aligned groups in Idleb province:

While the United States agrees that those forces must be wiped out, it rejects “the idea that we have to go in there . . . to clean out the terrorists, most of the people fighting . . . they’re not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator,” as well as millions of civilians, [U.S. special representative for Syria James] Jeffrey said. Instead, the United States has called for a cooperative approach with other outside actors.

“We’ve started using new language,” Jeffrey said, referring to previous warnings against the use of chemical weapons. Now, he said, the United States will not tolerate “an attack. Period.

Jeffrey just visited Turkey. The intent was to stiffen Turkey's objection to the upcoming Idleb attack. The result was a plan that the Turkish president Erdogan presented today at the Tehran summit with President Putin of Russian and President Rohani of Iran. It included:

  • prolongation of the deescalation ceasefire
  • 12 armed groups, including Hayat Tahrir al Sham to be disbanded
  • Turkey will train a new rebel force to control Idleb under Turkish command
  • Groups who resist will be targeted in counter terrorism operations
  • ...

The plan is nonsense. It is a copy of the task list Erdogan was given when the deescalation zone in Idleb was established at an earlier summit in the Astana format. Erdogan failed to implement it. HTS still rules Idelb province. HTS still rejects to dissolve. The observation posts Turkey established around Idleb still depend on the goodwill and protection of HTS fighters.

Erdogan has no way to implement his plan. Accordingly today's summit in Tehran ended with a mealymouthed statement. It failed to come up with a common way forward for Idleb.


via Thomas van Linge - bigger

Syria and its allies Russia and Iran should proceed with their plans to cleanse Idleb of terrorist. The U.S. is bluffing. It has no realistic means to prevent the operation. Any U.S. attack on Syrian and Russian forces involved in it would likely escalate into a conflict between nuclear powers. That is a risk the U.S. military is unwilling to take. It knows that the forces it planted into Syria are vulnerable to attacks.

The U.S. is now screaming of imminent chemical attacks by the Syrian army on "civilians" in Idleb:

Cont. reading: Syria - U.S. Reveals Underpants Plan For Indefinite Occupation

Posted by b at 11:53 AM | Comments (143)

September 06, 2018

Syria - Mattis Lacks State Department's Intelligence ... On Al-Qaeda's Chemical Capabilities

The U.S. Secretary of Defense seems to lack the intelligence the Un and the U.S. Department of State obviously have.

U.S.'s Mattis says 'zero intelligence' that rebels in Syria's Idlib have chemical weapons capability

New Delhi (Reuters) - There was “zero intelligence” of chemical weapons capabilities possessed by groups opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the province of Idlib, U.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis said, adding that the facts did not back Russian assertions.
...
We have zero intelligence that shows the opposition has any chemical capability,” Mattis told reporters traveling with him to the Indian capital of New Delhi.
...
“We have made very clear that by putting out innuendo that somehow any chemical weapon use coming up in the future could be ascribed to the opposition, well, we want to see the data,” Mattis said. “We cannot see anything that indicates the opposition has that capability.

On October 18 2017 the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning for Syria:


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It says in the third paragraph (pic):

Terrorist and other violent extremist groups including ISIS and al-Qa’ida-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (dominated by al-Qa’ida affiliate Jabhat al-Nusrah, a designated Foreign Terrorist Organization), operate in Syria. In July 2017, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham consolidated power in Idlib province after it clashed with other armed actors. [...] Tactics of ISIS, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and other violent extremist groups include the use of suicide bombers, kidnapping, small and heavy arms, improvised explosive devices, and chemical weapons. ...

The UN also knows of and is similar concerned about Hayat Tahrir al-Sham's chemical weapon capabilities. During a press conference on August 30 the UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, explicitly discussed these:

So, the issue of avoiding the potential use of chemical weapons is indeed crucial and would be totally unacceptable. We all are aware that both the government and al-Nusra have the capability to produce weaponised chlorine, that’s the one people are talking about, not sarin. Hence an increased concern by all of us, and everyone else, and alert.

There is no doubt that HTS and other such groups have chemical capabilities. They do.

Why is Mattis lying about it?

Posted by b at 06:25 AM | Comments (75)

September 05, 2018

The Strange Timestamp In The New Novichok 'Evidence' - UPDATED

Please read the Update highlighted below.
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Today, in a politically convenient moment, the British government released new information about the poisoning of the British spy Sergej Skripal, his daughter, and three other persons. It claims to have identified two men with Russian passports who arrived in London from Moscow on March 2, went to Salisbury on March 3 on a 'reconnaissance' trip, came back to Salisbury on March 4 to put Novichok poison on the doorknob of Skripal's home and flew back from London to Moscow on the same day. The names of the men were given as Alexander Petrov and Ruslan Boshirov which are Russian language equivalents of Joe Smith and Sam Jones. These names are likely false.

The police says that CCTV pictures were taken at several steps of the men's travel. The British news agency Reuters seem to distribute these. Several media have picked up copies.

Here are screenshots of two CCTV pictures, taken from an 18 picture gallery in a report by The Independent headlined Salisbury poisoning suspects are Russian state assassins, Theresa May tells MPs.

These are pictures 7 and 8 of a 18 picture gallery within that piece.

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Pic 7 of 18 - full, uncropped screenshot
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Pic 8 of 18 - full, uncropped screenshot

The pics are also available at the Metropolitan police site: 1, 2.

Notice that the time stamp on both pics is identical, 02/03/2018 16:22:43. But the pictures show two different men, each walking alone through the same part of a jet bridge as they arrive in Britain. How can it be that both of these pictures were taken at the exactly same second? And who tilted the permanently installed CCTV camera between the two shots? How did the camera angle change between picture one and two which were apparently taken at the very same place and at the very same time?

If these two pictures can not be trusted how much can one trust the other CCTV pictures the Met showed to support its claims?

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UPDATE Sept 6 - 5:20 UTC

Here is the answer to the above questions. In the North Terminal of Gatwick Airport, at the northern end of arrival level zero, there are several parallel and apparently identical gates leading into the airport. Each of these has a camera.

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Thanks to Bruce Leidl who found the above picture in Google maps.
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The two pictures above with identical timestamps were taken in two of these gates with each of the 'Russian assassins' passing through one of them at the same time. Aeroflot flights from Moscow are serviced at the North Terminal.

End of the Update - the original text continues below.
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The full statement of the Metropolitan police is here. Excerpts of Prime Minister Theresa May's statement are here.

While May claims the two men were send by Russia's military spy service GRU, the Metropolitan police makes no such claims. Theresa May does not say on what evidence she based her conclusion. There seems to be none.

It also seems a bit curious that a 'Russian assassin' team, allegedly from a highly professional secret service, would travel together and use direct flights from Moscow to London and back. That seems extraordinary careless. Why not fly separate and via a third country?

And why would a professional assassin team drop a cellophane wrapped, unopened perfume bottle with the same poison into a charity bin behind shops in Catherine Street in Salisbury where Charlie Rowley would find it some 14 weeks(!?) later?

The police says that it found traces of Novichok in the crappy hotel the 'Russian agents' stayed in between March 2 and March 4. It found those traces on May 4 but it waited until today to publicly ask other guests at the hotel to contact the police?

If the incident was a professional assassination attempt with a highly potent 'Novichok' compound why did 4 out of 5 people who came into contact with it survive? The 80% failure rate is inconsistent with the scary tale about the highly potent 'Russian' Novichok poison. A decent dose of Megachok is probably more lethal.

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Sergej Skripal has not been seen in the public or even on video since the incident happened. His daughter Yulia Skripal appeared in a British government hostage video but then vanished. The Russian Embassy in London says that it has no access to them. The policeman, who allegedly was also injured during the incident, also never reappeared in public. Why are these people held incommunicado and under arrest?

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Previous Moon of Alabama posts on the Skripal case:

Cont. reading: The Strange Timestamp In The New Novichok 'Evidence' - UPDATED

Posted by b at 01:33 PM | Comments (169)