Open Thread 2017-13News & views ...
Trump Is a . . . Agent
Everyone agrees that Trump is an agent. But who's agent is he? Thousands of words have been spilled discussing the issue. The opinions differ:
- Polls Find Most Americans Think Trump Is an Agent of Change
- Garry Kasparov: Trump Is Putin's "Agent Of Chaos"
- Is Donald Trump a Democratic secret agent? - BBC News
- Former CIA chief: Putin sees Trump as 'unwitting agent'
- Is Donald Trump an Agent of Divine Judgment? - The Federalist
- Is Donald Trump a Foreign Agent?
- Donald Trump: secret Jesuit agent for Commander-in-Chief
- Trump Is An Enemy Agent.
- Is Trump a Russian Agent? A Legal Analysis - Lawfare
- Is Donald Trump a Double Agent? | The Huffington Post
- Donald Trump for President -- Double Agent for the Left
- Washington Monthly | Trump As An Agent of Chaos
- Trump Is the NRA's Agent of Chaos - Bloomberg View
- TRUMP: DEM AGENT PROVOCATEUR STRUTTING IN OPEN SIGHT
- Editorial: Trump is the change agent America needs
- Busta Rhymes calls Trump "Agent Orange" and slams Muslim ban
- Donald Trump: Soros' Useful Idiot or Agent Provocateur?
- Is Trump a Democratic Party Agent?
- Is Donald Trump a Sleeper Agent for Moscow?
The question seems to be difficult. Luckily we have have the paper of record and its eminent next-six-months columnist Thomas Friedman who finally provides the clear and banal answer:
I though you would like to know that ... it is preposterous nonsense. But what else could one expect from Friedman.
More seriously. My impression is that there is only one person for whom Donald Trump is willing to act as an agent. That person is Donald Trump.
So the person Trump works for is not very knowledgeable, not very smart and not very likeable.
I would have been nice if the U.S. electorate had had a chance to vote for a better one. But that was - unfortunately - not the case. The result has to be accepted. Fighting it is useless. The war on issues has begun.
Could someone go and tell the Democrats?
Democrats: "Russia Ate Our Homework"
TRUMP increases sanctions on Russia.
DEMOCRATS: "Putin installed this president! Trump is illegitimate!"
TRUMP expands wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and Syria
DEMOCRATS: "Russia is out to get us!"
TRUMP dismantles environmental regulations.
DEMOCRATS: "White House distracts from Russia investigation!"
TRUMP kills worker protection, lowers billionaire taxes.
DEMOCRATS: "Putin's interference cost us the election!"
TRUMP launches nuclear war with North Korea.
DEMOCRATS: "Russia ate our homework!"
U.S. To Escalate Its Two Years War On Starving Yemen
The picture shows yesterday's rally in Sanaa,Yemen where up to 1 million people were condemning the war Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, the UK and the U.S. have been waging on them for two years.
Nether the New York Times nor the Washington Post reported of the million strong rally. Both though reported widely of a 8,000 strong demonstration in Moscow led by the ultra-nationalist anti-semitic racist Alexey Navalny (vid). Navalny, who polls less than 1% in Russia, is their great and groundless hope to replace the Russian President Putin.
The war on Yemen was launched to show the manliness of the Saudi princes. Well, that may not be the proclaimed reason but it is the only one that makes sense. The U.S. takes part in the war because ... well - no one knows:
The morning after that NSC news release was posted on the White House webpage two years ago, Gen. Lloyd J. Austin, commander of the U.S. Central Command, was asked about the objectives of the U.S. support. His stunning reply remains the most accurate characterization from a U.S. official: “I don’t currently know the specific goals and objectives of the Saudi campaign, and I would have to know that to be able to assess the likelihood of success.” Other than dropping weapons with an unconscionable lack of discrimination and proportionality, it appears there are no clear goals and objectives to this day.
The Saudis claim their coalition has dropped 90,000 bombs during the two year war. That are 123 bombs per day. 5 each and every hour for no good reason. It hasn't helped them at all. The Houthi/Saleh alliance the Saudis fight claims (vid) to have destroyed 176 AFVs, 643 MRAPs, 147 MBTs, 12 Apaches, 20 drones, 4 aircraft. Additionally 109 tactical ballistic missiles were fired. Many of those (certainly exaggerated) Houth/Saleh successes happened on Saudi ground. Its southern desert does not protect Saudi Arabia, it opens it up to attacks.
The U.S. provides planing, intelligence, air-refueling and the ammunition for the Saudi bombing. Without U.S. support this war would not happen at all!
The United Nation claims that the death toll of the war is a mere 5,000. Others speak of 7-8,000. These numbers are laughable. One Saudi attack alone, a "double tap" on a Sanaa funeral hall, killed more than 800. The real death toll of the war is by now likely beyond 100,000. Especially in north-west Yemen, along the Saudi border, each and every Yemeni town and city has been bombed into ruins. Where are the people who once lived there?
The Saudis have simply threatened the UN that they will stop to provide any money for any of its relief efforts should it it make any noise. The UN folded.
Yemen is starving. Even before the war 90% of Yemen's staple food was imported. The Saudis have since bombed each and every food production facility, chicken farm and port. All larger bridges have been cut. There is no longer any way to import food into the capital Sanaa and the other areas the Saudis besiege. Too small official relief efforts are still running through the Hodeida port on the western coast. The port itself is controlled by the Houthi/Saudi alliance the Saudi want to eliminate. But the port is blockaded from the water side. The Saudis navy and airforce destroys all ship who try to enter or leave it. Some official relief ships are allowed to pass but they have difficulties to unload. All large cranes in the harbor have been destroyed by air attacks.
Still - to deliberately starve off all of the 17 million Yemenis who are "food insecure", i.e. extremely hungry and nearly starved, the port needs to be closed down for good. That is why the UAE and the Saudi plan to invade, conquer and occupy it. The fighting about the port will be a good excuse to close it down for good until no one in Sanaa is left alive.
The Pentagon is now requesting a free hand to help the Saudis to conquer and occupy the Hodeida harbor. Why the U.S. would do this? Well - the reason is at least as good as the one given two years ago:
[I]f decisions are not made soon, the senior administration official said, “we’re afraid the situation” in Yemen may escalate, “and our partners may take action regardless. And we won’t have visibility, and we won’t be in a position to understand what it does to our counterterrorism operations.”
So if the U.S. does not "help" (i.e. organizes) to close down the last source of food for the millions besieged by the Saudis then it may not be able to understand what that means.
Now there is a really good reason to put boots on the ground! "Unless we do it, we will not know the consequences and that is something we would want to know, right?"
Gas From Israel And The Flynn Wiretapping - Behind The Deep-State Infighting Over The Trump Election
What is really behind the deep-state infighting over the U.S. elections and the "wire tapping" of the Trump campaign? Why was the CIA-Neocon axis vehemently lobbying against Trump? What foreign interests and what money is involved in this? Answers to these questions are now emerging.
The former director of the CIA under Clinton, James Woolsey, went to the Wall Street Journal and offered some information (likely some true and some false) on the retired General Flynn and the lobbying businesses he was involved in. Woolsey is an arch-neoconservative. He had worked on the transition team of Trump but got fired over "growing tensions over Trump’s vision for intelligence agencies." Flynn is the former National Security Advisor of Trump who later also got fired. Woolsey was a board member of Flynn's former lobbying company FIG.
Woolsey claims: In September 2016 he took part in a meeting between Flynn and high level Turkish officials, including the Turkish foreign minister and the energy minister who is the son-in-law of the Turkish president Erdogan. During the meeting, Woolsey claims, a brainstorming took place over how the Turkish cult leader Fethullah Gülen could -probably by illegal means- be removed from the U.S. and handed over to Turkey.
Gülen is accused by the Erdogan mafia of initiating a coup attempt against it. The U.S. claims officially that there is no evidence for such an accusation and that Gülen can therefore not be rendered to Turkey. Gülen is an old CIA asset that helped the U.S. deep state to control Turkey. Erdogan divorced from the Gülen organization after it became useless for his neo-Ottoman project.
Flynn was accused by the anti-Trump campaign to have worked for Russia. He had taken several $10,000 for speeches he gave in Moscow. He also, at times, had argued for better U.S. relations with Russia. But Flynn's pro-Russia stand was probably honest. (Or the bribes involved were just smaller than the ones paid by others.) The money he got on the speaker circus was rather small for a man in his position.
Flynn's real corruption was on another issue. After having been fired from the Trump administration, Flynn retroactively filed under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). His lobbying firm had a contract over $530,000 to work for a company near to the Turkish president Erdogan:
In its filing, Mr. Flynn’s firm said its work from August to November “could be construed to have principally benefited the Republic of Turkey.” The filing said his firm’s fee, $530,000, wasn’t paid by the government but by Inovo BV, a Dutch firm owned by a Turkish businessman, Ekim Alptekin.
This lobbying, not the alleged Flynn-Putin relation, is the real scandal and part of the Trump/CIA/Clinton deep-state in-fighting.
The meeting Woolsey described was under the "Turkish" Flynn contract. The Turkish business man, and owner of Inovo, Ekim Alptekin is a member of the Erdogan gang. But hidden at the very end of the WSJ story is the real key to understand the shady network:
Inovo hired Mr. Flynn on behalf of an Israeli company seeking to export natural gas to Turkey, the filing said, and Mr. Alptekin wanted information on the U.S.-Turkey political climate to advise the gas company about its Turkish investments.
It was the Israeli gas company, not the Alptekin outlet, that drove the issue.
The Leviatan (and Tamar) gas fields in the Mediterranean along the Israeli coast are a huge energy and profit resource IF the gas from them can be exported to Europe. Several companies are involved in the exploration and all are looking for ways to connect the fields to the European gas network. There are (likely true) rumors that huge bribes have been payed in Israel, Jordan and elsewhere to win exploration contracts and to sell the gas. Negotiations between Israel and Turkey over the pipeline have been on and off. They depend on a positive climate towards Israel in the Turkish government which again depends on the often changing political position of the Erdogan gang.
The picture evolving here (lots of sleuthing and sources) is this:
An Israeli company (or whoever is behind it) wants a gas pipeline to Turkey. It hires Flynn and Alptekin to arrange a positive climate for the Leviathan pipeline within the Turkish government. It offers Flynn more than half a million for a little (4-month long) influence work. His job is to create a "friendly atmosphere" for the deal by using his influence in the U.S. to accommodate Erdogan. A major point that is expected from Flynn is to arrange the handover of Gülen, by whatever means, from the U.S. to Erdogan.
After accepting the (lobbying) bribe Flynn-the-whore suddenly changes his former anti-Turkish, pro-Russian, pro-Kurdish political position into a pro-Turkish, neutral-Russian and anti-Kurdish one. (His lobbying firm also makes some smaller payments related to the Clinton email-server scandal. This may be related to links between the Clinton family and the Gülen school empire.) He has a meeting with the Turkish government/Erdogan officials part of which is a discussion of a removal of Gülen to Turkey. He pens a pro Erdogan anti-Gülen op-ed which is published on the day of the election and he denigrates the Pentagon plan to work with the Kurds in Syria.
The NSA, CIA and the FBI are listening to Flynn's conversations with Turkish and Israeli interests. (For the old and long history of such "wiretapping" of Turkish and Israeli connections and various dirty and criminal deals they revealed read and ask Sibel Edmonds.)
The projects which Flynn is involved in, especially removing Gülen, are against the long term interests of the (neoconservative-driven) CIA. Selected tapes of his talks are transcribed and distributed within the anti-Trump campaign. This is the origin of the "wiretapping" of the Trump Tower the U.S. president lamented about. The stuff the CIA dug up about Flynn's dealing was and is used against Trump.
Woolsey is caught up in this as he also worked for Flynn's lobbying firm. (His neocon-pro-Zionist history suggests that he is the senior Israeli watchdog over Flynn in all this.) He is now engaged in damage control and is "coming clean" and selectively leaking his anti-Flynn stuff to exculpate himself. (There is probably also some new, better deal involved that will pay off from him.)
The Israeli-Turkish pipeline and the related deep-state fight are not the only issue involved in the campaign against Trump. There are also British interests and British intelligence involvement especially with the accusations against Russia of "hacking" of the DNC. If and how these fit in with above has not yet been revealed.
Open Thread 2017-12News & views ...
Syria Summary - The U.S. Move On Tabqa Will Complicate The Political Situation
Turkey is at a dead end in Syria. Erdogan's dream of going on to Raqqa and Deir Ezzor or even Aleppo city has been blocked by an agreement between the U.S. and Russia. His proxy forces are stuck north-east of Aleppo city and have no way to go further south, east or west. They conquered a piece of rural land that gives Erdogan no negotiation leverage but potentially a lot of headaches. A small Russian contingent has moved into the Kurdish enclave in north-west Syria around Afrin blocking any serious Turkish move against that area.
Turkey and its paymasters in Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia have lost the fight over Syria. Still tacitly backed by the U.S. they are currently trying a Hail-Mary pass to again achieve some negotiation power for the next round of Geneva talks. This is likely to again fail. Their proxy forces in the north west, including al-Qaeda, moved from the north towards the city of Hama (see map, red=Syrian government). Over the last days they captured 11 small villages which were only lightly defended. The Russian and Syrian airforce are now devastating them and a counter-attack by the Syrian army is prepared and will soon throw them back.
Coordinated with the Hama attack was an attempt to capture ground on the eastern periphery of Damascus and in the south around Deraa. The Damascus attack has run its cause. No ground was taken and held by the Takfiris and the counterattack against them is advancing. The attack in Deraa failed to break the Syrian army defense lines.
Fool Me Once ... DNC Ally Crowdstrike Claimed Two Cases Of "Russian Hacking" - One At Least Was Fake
The cyber-security company Crowdstrike claimed that the "Russia" hacked the Democratic National Committee. It also claimed that "Russia" hacked artillery units of the Ukrainian army. The second claim has now be found to be completely baseless. That same is probably the case with its claims related to the DNC.
Sometime around May 2016 the Democratic National Committee lost control over its email archives. It claimed that its servers had been "hacked" by someone related to Russian interests. DNC emails were published by Wikileaks and provided that the DNC had worked during the primaries against its statutes and in favor of one presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton. The DNC chair was forced to resign over the case.
The DNC had called in Crowdstrike, a company led by a one Dimitry Alperovich, a Senior Fellow of the NATO aligned "think tank" Atlantic Council. After a short investigation Crowdstrike claimed to found intruding software on the DNC servers that, it says, has been exclusively used by Russian intelligence services. From there followed claims that "Russia hacked the U.S. elections".
When the DNC went public with the Crowdstrike claims the FBI never requested access to the servers to determine if a crime had been committed and to detect the culprit. Access to the servers had been informally denied by the DNC. The FBI simply followed (pdf), without any own forensic investigation of its own, the conclusions Crowdstrike had made.
Imagine that some white guy claims that his house has been broken in and a large amount of money has been stolen. He hires a private investigators who says a window was broken and therefore the crime must have been committed by those "niggers" down the road. But others ask if the man hides the money himself, or if the man's son might have taken it. But the police does not investigate if a crime has actually happened. It does no forensics at the crime scene. It does not even check if a window has indeed been broken. It simply follows the conclusion of the private investigator and accuses the "niggers". This is what happened in the DNC case.
Month later and in a different case the same Crowdstrike investigators claimed (pdf) that the artillery units of the Ukrainian army had had "excessive combat losses" of up to 80% in their fight with Ukrainian separatists. Crowdstrike asserted that Russian intelligence hacked an application used by the Ukrainians to aim their guns. The hack, it was claimed, enabled well targeted counter-fire that then destroyed the Ukrainian guns.
The author of the application denied that any such hacking had taken place. His software was provided only directly from him to Ukrainian army units. Independent cyber-security researchers also doubted the claims.
Crowdstrike had based its numbers for "excessive losses" of Ukrainian artillery units on statistics collected by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). The IISS now says that its statistic do not provide what Crowdstrike claimed. There were no "excessive losses" of Ukrainian artillery.
VOA first contacted IISS in February to verify the alleged artillery losses. Officials there initially were unaware of the CrowdStrike assertions. After investigating, they determined that CrowdStrike misinterpreted their data and hadn’t reached out beforehand for comment or clarification.
In a statement to VOA, the institute flatly rejected the assertion of artillery combat losses.
It seems that the whole "Ukrainian artillery hack" claims by Crowdstrike was simply made up. There was no "hack" and the claimed damage from the "hack" did not occur at all. Crowdstrike evidently found a "crime" and "Russian hacking" where none had happened.
Airlines Want Protectionism - U.S. Bans Laptops, Tablets On Competition's Flights
The big three U.S. airlines maintain that Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar Airways — airlines backed by governments of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates — are unfairly subsidized and that their expansion into the U.S. market represents unfair competition that should be blocked by regulators.
“The Gulf carriers have received over $50 billion in documented subsidies from their government owners since 2004,” the chief executives of the big three wrote in a recent letter to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. “Mr. Secretary,” the letter continues, “we are confident that the Trump Administration shares our view on the importance of enforcing our Open Skies agreements, ensuring that U.S. airlines have a fair and equal opportunity to compete in the international market, and protecting American jobs.”
Senior US officials told reporters that nine airlines from eight countries had been given 96 hours, beginning at 3:00 am (0700 GMT), to tell travelers to pack any device bigger than a smartphone in their checked luggage.
Laptops, tablets and portable game consoles are affected by the ban -- which only applies to direct flights to the United States from the blacklisted airports.
No US carriers are affected by the ban, but passengers on approximately 50 flights per day from some of the busiest hubs in Turkey and the Arab world will be obliged to follow the new emergency ruling.
The ban will hit flights operated by Royal Jordanian, EgyptAir, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Airlines, Kuwait Airways, Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways.
The U.S. move is certainly not about security. What now hinders anyone to fly from Dubai to Paris and on to New York with a laptop and tablet in her carry on luggage? Why would that be more secure than a direct flight with Emirates Airline? No. This is all about unwanted competition and an effort of the highly subsidized U.S. airlines to sell higher priced tickets with less service.
Flying from the Middle East to the U.S. one can now choose between a direct flight without any personal entertainment equipment, or take a flight with some additional stop on a (code-sharing) U.S. carrier. The second variant is of course more "secure".
A bit funny: The Brits immediately followed up with their own "security measures". But they banned different airports and airlines than the U.S. There are no new, additional "security measures" for flights to Britain from Kuwait, Qatar and Morocco. Instead Tunisia is on the British list. That of course does not make sense from a security standpoint. But it probably reflects the importance of certain investors for the City of London as well as the competitive situation of British Airways.
The False Handshake Story Aims To Delegitimize Trump
I dislike Trump and his policies. I dislike Merkel and her policies. Both are my political enemies. But what I dislike even more are lying media which try to deceive for undeclared political aims.
A recent example:
- In awkward exchange, Trump seems to ignore Merkel's handshake request
- Donald Trump Appears to Ignore Angela Merkel's Handshake Request During Awkward Photo Opp
- Angela Merkel Asked President Trump to Shake Hands. He Appeared to Ignore Her
- Trump Straight Up Ignores Request To Shake Hands With Angela Merkel
- WATCH: Awkward moment Donald Trump BLANKS Angela Merkel handshake offer at White House
The pieces linked above go on to speculate about personal animosities between Merkel and Trump and about diverging U.S. and European political directions.
While differences may exist between Trump and Merkel they have nothing to do with a handshake in an Oval Office photo op. Not mentioned in the above reports is that Merkel and Trump shook hands with each other several times and in cordial ways.
Here as Merkel arrives at the White House:
And here at the end of the press conference after their talks:
So why the headlines above?
Red Scare Redux: "Russian Weapons Stocked Right Up At NATO's Border!"
A Washington Post news piece on the current NATO budget spat remarks:
Russia, for its part, keeps tanks and missiles stocked right up against the NATO border.
Now, that's truly threatening of Russia and DANGEROUS!
How did that come to be?
Found some of the stocked up weapons ...
Which "War Torn" Country? - U.S. Slaughter In Somalia, Yemen And Syria
When I saw the above tweet this morning I wondered which "war torn" country those Somalis were fleeing from when they were murdered. The tweet doesn't say. Were they fleeing from the "war torn" Somalia? Or were the fleeing from "war torn" Yemen?
It is a sad world when has to ponder such.
It tuned out these people were fleeing from both wars:
Coast guard Mohammad Al Alay told Reuters the refugees, carrying official UNHCR documents, were on their way from Yemen to Sudan when they were attacked by an Apache helicopter near the Bab Al Mandeb strait.
An Apache attack helicopter shot up the refugees' boat. There are Saudi, United Emirati and U.S. Apache helicopters in or around Yemen. It is unknown which of them ordered and which executed the strike. These helicopters, their ammunition and the service for them are a favored U.S. export to belligerent dictatorships like Saudi Arabia.
The UN warns that 5 million people in Yemen are only weeks away from starving. The Saudis, the U.S. and the Emirates block all land routes, air ports and the coast of Yemen and no food supplies come through. This is an ongoing huge war crime and literally a genocide. But "western" media seem totally unimpressed. Few, if any, reports on the war on Yemen get published. Never have they so openly displayed their hypocrisy.
Somalia is falling back into an all-out civil war fueled by the decades old unwillingness of the U.S. to condone an independent local unity government. The Islamic Court Union, a unity government created by the Somalis in 2006, was the last working instance of a real Somali state. It had no Jihadist agenda and held down local warlords. It was destroyed by the Bush administration:
A UN cable from June 2006, containing notes of a meeting with senior State Department and US military officials from the Horn of Africa task force, indicates that the United States was aware of the ICU’s diversity, but would “not allow” it to rule Somalia. The United States, according to the notes, intended to “rally with Ethiopia if the ‘Jihadist’ took over.” The cable concluded, “Any Ethiopian action in Somalia would have Washington’s blessing.” Some within the US intelligence community called for dialogue or reconciliation, but their voices were drowned out by hawks determined to overthrow the ICU.
During the last 10 years an on-and-off war is waged in Somalia with the U.S. military interfering whenever peace seems to gain ground. Currently a new round of war is building up. Weapons are streaming into Somalia from Yemen, where the Houthi plunder them from their Saudi invaders:
Jonah Leff, a weapons tracing expert with conflict Armament Research, said many [Somali] pirates had turned to smuggling. They take boatloads of people [from Somalia] to Yemen and return with weapons, he said.
The wars on Somalia and Yemen are the consequences of unscrupulous and incompetent(?) U.S. foreign policy. (Cutting down the size of the U.S. State Department, as the Trump administration now plans to do, is probably the best thing one can do for world peace.)
The U.S. military should be cut down too. It is equally unscrupulous and incompetent.
Last night the U.S. military hit a mosque in Al-Jīnah in Aleppo governate in Syria. It first claimed that the strike, allegedly targeting a large meeting of al-Qaeda, was in Idleb governate. But it turned out to be miles away west of Aleppo. Locals said a mosque was hit, the roof crashed in and more than 40 people were killed during the regular prayer service. More than 120 were injured. The U.S. military said it did not hit the local mosque but a building on the other side of the small plaza.
The U.S. maps and intelligence were not up-to-date. A new, bigger mosque had been build some years ago opposite of the old mosque. The old mosque was indeed not hit. The new one was destroyed while some 200 people were in attendance. Eight hellfire missiles launched from two Reaper drones were fired at it and a 500lb bomb was then dropped on top to make sure that no one escaped alive. Al-Qaeda fighters were indeed "meeting" at that place - five times a day and together with the locals they have pressed by force to attend the Quran proscribed prayers.
Had the Russian or Syrian army committed the strike the "western" outcry would have been great. For days the media would have provide gruesome photos and stories. The U.S. ambassador at the UN would have spewed fire and brimstone. But this intelligence screw-up happened on the U.S. side. There will now be some mealymouthed explanations and an official military investigation that will find no fault and will have no consequences.
Amid this sorry incident it was amusing to see the propaganda entities the U.S. had created to blame the Syrian government turning against itself. The MI6 operated SOHR was the first to come out with a high death count. The al-Qaeda aligned, U.S./UK financed "White Helmets" rescuers made a quick photo session pretending to dig out the dead. The sectarian al-Qaeda video propagandist Bilal Abdul Kareem, which the New York Times recently portrait in a positive light, provided damning video and accusing comments. The amateur NATO researchers at Bellingcat published what they had gleaned from maps, photos and videos other people created. The NATO think tank, which defended al-Qaeda's invasion of Idleb, will shed crocodile tears.
Each new lie and obfuscation the U.S. Central Command in the Middle East put out throughout the day was immediately debunked by the horde of U.S. financed al-Qaeda propaganda supporters. This blowback from the "information operation" against Syria will likely have consequences for future U.S. operations.
In another operation last night the Israeli air force attacked Syrian forces near Palmyra which were operating against ISIS. The Israeli fighters were chased away when the Syrians fired air defense missiles. This was an Israeli attempt to stretch the "rules of operation" it had negotiated with the Russian military in Syria. The Russians, which control the Syrian air space, had allowed Israel to hit Hizbullah weapon transports on their way to Lebanon. Attacks on any force operating against Jihadis in Syria are taboo. The Russian government summoned the Israeli ambassador. Netanyahoo broke the rules. He will now have to bear the consequences.
Third Time's The Charm - These Neocons Want Another Sunni Insurgency (Updated)
When the U.S. was confronted with an insurgency in Iraq it did not find fault with own behavior but identified Syria and Iran as the culprits. It decided to attack them too. As Seymour Hersh reported in 2007:
To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.
Four years later the U.S. used the Sunni militants it created to first attack Libya and then Syria. With U.S. support the militants destroyed the independent Libyan state under Ghaddafi. The country is now in total chaos. In Syria the militants, with clandestine support from the U.S. and its allies, waged a six year long war to overthrow the government. Many of them joined the Islamic State and al-Qaeda, the Takfiri offsprings of the U.S. program and Saudi money that went (somewhat) rogue. These groups did not limit, as the U.S. wished, their attacks to U.S. enemies but committed several larger scale attacks against U.S. allied countries. Now the groups themselves are enemies.
The project of creating a controllable "Sunni Arab force" to destroy Syria had failed. The Pentagon made another attempts, spending tens of millions of dollars, to train a new Sunni Arab force in Syria to attack the Syrian government as well as the Takfiris. As soon as these new groups entered into Syria they joined the Takfiris and handed over the weapons the U.S. army had given them.
The U.S. is now engaging with Russia and local Kurdish forces in Syria to destroy the Takfiri groups on the ground. The Kurds are of various religions and denominations with a mostly secular outlook. That plan made some progress though an actual attack on Raqqa, the current center of the Islamic State, is still weeks off. The Syrian government is winning its part of the fight in the west of the country.
But that is not enough for the U.S. neoconservatives. Their task is to further Zionist plans by creating more chaos in the Middle East. Their partner and money source is the Sunni-Wahhabi Saudi Arabia. Having successfully arranged the destruction of Iraq, various failed "surges" as well as the attack on Syria, they cannot condone that the Syrian government survives the war.
Thus they set out to create a new (the third now) Sunni-Arab force to continue what their original war plan prescribed.
Frederick and Kimberly Kagan, luminaries of the neoconservative family, initiate their new campaign on the neoconned opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal: A New Strategy Against ISIS and al Qaeda - The U.S. has been relying too heavily on Shiites and Kurds. It needs to cultivate Sunni Arab partners.
The Kagan family - other well known members are Robert Kagan and Victoria Nuland - were also main instigators of the war on Iraq. Here they are in 2008 strolling (heavily guarded) through the occupied Basra, Iraq amusing themselves off the destruction they created.
The Democrats Anti-Russia Campaign Falls Apart (Updated)
A while ago Matt Tabbi in Rolling Stone warned: Why the Russia Story Is a Minefield for Democrats and the Media:
If we engage in Times-style gilding of every lily the leakers throw our way, and in doing so build up a fever of expectations for a bombshell reveal, but there turns out to be no conspiracy – Trump will be pre-inoculated against all criticism for the foreseeable future.
Sanity is finally winning over. After raising all kinds of shambolic rumors about "Russian interference" the "western" intelligence agencies are walking back their previous outrageous claims:
- Former DNI James Clapper admits (vid) that he has zero evidence for any Trump-Russia collusion;
- The British Foreign Secretary now says there is "no evidence" of any Russian interference with British democracy;
- The German secret services have no proof (in German) for any Russian disinformation campaign.
There is no evidence for any Russian interference in the U.S., or any other, election. No evidence has been show, despite many claims, that Russia or its proxies hacked John Podesta's emails or the DNC or collaborated with Wikileaks.
Even the Democrats now concede that the whole mountain of bullshit their anti-Trump and anti-Russian campaign created stinks to high heaven:
[S]ome Democrats on the Intelligence Committee now quietly admit, after several briefings and preliminary inquiries, they don’t expect to find evidence of active, informed collusion between the Trump campaign and known Russian intelligence operatives, though investigators have only just begun reviewing raw intelligence. Among the Intelligence Committee’s rank and file, there’s a tangible frustration over what one official called “wildly inflated” expectations surrounding the panel’s fledgling investigation.
Ardent Russia critics like Masha Geesen and former ambassador Michael McFaul now warn of irreparable damage the irrational anti-Russian campaign may cause. A New York Times opinion piece points out that the reignited anti-Russian attitude goes back to the 19th century and was as wrong then as it is now. Claims that meetings between the incoming Trump administration and the Russian ambassador were nefarious are hard to hold up when members of the Clinton campaign also met him. Trump's National Security Advisor Flynn was accused of colluding with Russia when in fact he was paid by Turkey to lobby for Erdogan.
The disinformation campaign against Russia is falling apart for lack of any evidence. The media who ardently supported it have lost trust. As they obviously lied about Russia how much truth are they telling on other issue?
Tabbi's warning was late. The damage is done. "Western" relations with Russia have been hurt. But also hurt are the reputations of the media and of the Democratic party. Trump though has been justified with his rejection of that campaign. He now is, as Tabbi predicted, "pre-inoculated" against other accusations - at least with his followers and those sitting on the fence. Trump has now the space to develop his original grand strategic idea of seeking amiable relations with Russia before getting embroiled in any other international dispute. Those relations are now developing on the ground in Syria where cooperation between Russian and U.S. troops intensifies:
Moscow, Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis added, has "kept us abreast of their operations" in Manbij, ..
Signs are that there is way more of that then the Pentagon admits. There have been several meetings at the highest levels of Russian and U.S. military and whoever commands U.S. forces in Syria will surely have a direct line to the Russian ground commander to coordinate their moves.
The Democrats failed in their anti-Trump, anti-Russia campaign.
Open Thread 2017-11
News & views ...
When Nothing "Left" Is Left The People Will Vote Far Right
Some of the people around the U.S. Democrats finally start to get the message of the 2016 election. An editor at Salon writes a slightly satirical critic of the Democratic Party under the headline: How the DudeBros ruined everything: A totally clear-headed guide to political reality . The core sentence:
When “the left” endlessly debates which core issues or constituencies must be sacrificed for political gain, as if economic justice for the poor and the working class could be separated from social justice for women and people of color and the LGBT community and immigrants and people with disabilities, it is no longer functioning as the left.
When LGBT claptrap, gluten free food, political correctness and other such niceties beat out programs to serve the basic needs of the common people nothing "left" is left. The priority on the left must always be the well-being of the working people. All the other nice-to-have issues follow from and after that.
Many nominally social-democratic parties in Europe are on the same downward trajectory as the Democrats in the U.S. for the very same reason. Their real policies are center right. Their marketing policies hiding the real ones are to care for this or that minority interest or problem the majority of the people has no reason to care about. Real wages sink but they continue to import cheep labor (real policy) under the disguise of helping "refugees" (marketing policy) which are simply economic migrants. (Even parts of the German "Die Linke" party are infected with such nonsense.)
The people with real economic problems, those who have reason to fear the future, have no one in the traditional political spectrum that even pretends to care about them. Those are the voters now streaming to the far right. (They will again get screwed. The far right has an economic agenda that is totally hostile to them. But it at least promises to do something about their fears.) Where else should they go?
The U.S. Democrats are currently applauding the former United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara. The position is a political appointed one. Whoever is appointed serves "at the pleasure of the President". It is completely normal that people in such positions get replaced when the presidency changes from one party to the other. The justice department asked Bharara to "voluntary resign". He rejected that, he was fired.
Oh what a brave man! Applause!
The dude served as United States attorney during the mortgage scams and financial crash. Wall Street was part of his beat. How many of the involved banksters did he prosecute? Well, exactly zero. What a hero! How many votes did the Democrats lose because they did not go after the criminals ruling Wall Street?
Bharara is one reason the Democrats lost the election. Oh yes, he is part of a minority and that makes him a favorite with the pseudo left Democrats. But he did nothing while millions got robbed. How can one expect to get votes when one compliments such persons?
But the top reader comments to the New York Times report on the issue are full of voices who laud Bharara for his meaning- and useless "resistance" to Trump.
Those are the "voices of the people" the political functionaries of the Democratic Party want to read and hear. Likely the only ones. But those are the voices of people (if real at all and not marketing sock-puppets) who are themselves a tiny, well pampered minority. Not the people one needs to win elections.
Unless they change their political program (not just its marketing) and unless they go back to consistently argue for the people in the lower third of the economic scale the Democrats in the U.S. and the Social-Democrats in Europe will continue to lose voters. The far right will, for lack of political alternative, be the party that picks up their votes.
Syria - Preparing For The Big Move On Idlib
During the last week significant moves in Syria have taken place east of Aleppo. But the situation there will likely soon calm down. The next intense phase of the war may well be a Syrian army attack on al-Qaeda's position in Idlib governate in the north-west of the country.
One objective of the Syrian Arab Army move east of Aleppo city was to block the invading Turkish forces from reaching further south. This had been achieved as of last week. The main objective though was to reach the pumping stations at the Euphrates which supply Aleppo city with drinking water. This aim was achieved yesterday. The SAA managed to evict the Islamic State from the shut-down station before it could blow it up. The generators and pumps were booby trapped but seem otherwise operational. After 40 days of strictly rationed water Aleppo city and its nearly 2 million people will soon be back on a normal water supply.
I expect that the SAA contingent in east-Aleppo will now move further south and then east along the Euphrates towards Raqqa. This move though will no longer have a high priority. There is no longer an urgent need to continue in the area. Should the Islamic State stop its retreat in the area and show significant resistance the SAA is likely to stop and only hold its line.
The Turkish government still insists on taking Manbij currently held by the Kurdish YPK (under the label "Syrian Democratic Forces" (SDF)) which is now a U.S. proxy force under U.S. military command. Russia moved to insert Syrian army forces between the Turkish forces west of Manbij and the city. Thereby a buffer has been created between the Turkish (proxy) forces of "moderate rebels" and U.S. proxy forces of the Kurdish SDF. A few Russian special forces entered the area. As no SAA soldiers were readily available some local Arabs and Kurds were asked to put up a Syrian flag and to call themselves "Syrian border guard". They happily agreed to do so.
Open Thread 2017-10
News & views ...