Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 24, 2016

A Fundraiser

(This post is pinned to the top. Please scroll down for new content.)

During the twelve years this Moon of Alabama blog is up we only once asked for financial contributions. That was eight years ago. The money received then payed for a decent laptop. That very laptop is still in daily use to produce the content for this blog.

But the laptop's life is coming to an end. So are my current abilities to carry the costs for running this blog. The hosting fees are fairly minor and the cost for a new laptop probably bearable. But I do lose a lot of necessary income due to the time spent researching and writing the daily post. This now necessitates to ask for compensation.


Carl Spitzweg - The Poor Poet - bigger

We produce original content of, hopefully, good quality. The daily page-views are going up. More people value our content. But it has a price and I hope you are willing to pay it. Please be generous.

You can donate with a credit card through the PayPal button below.

More preferable though are direct payments. Transaction costs are less for direct bank-wire transfers, for cashing checks or simply cash. Please email me at MoonofA @ aol.com (discard the blanks) for the necessary contact data.

I am willing to accept large sums. If you have access to a big heritage, some charitable foundation funds or other pots of money, please don't hesitate to use it. Seriously.

Thank you very much

b aka Bernhard

Posted by b at 08:13 AM | Comments (81)

Corbyn Wins In Stunning Defeat Of Blairite Establishment

In a stupendous defeat of establishment and pseudo-left media like The Guardian, as well as Blairite interventionists, Jeremy Corbyn again won the Labour leadership elections.

Corbyn received more votes than the last time he was elected.

A massive campaign against Corbyn had been driven by nearly all British media and nearly all established Labour MP's. It prevented Labour attacks on the Tories when those were in deep trouble over the Brexit vote. Those MPS must shut up - or leave.

It is now up to Corbyn to develop a new political Labour platform that offers a real alternative to the destructive rerun of Thatcher policies by Prime Minister Theresa May. It could be the start of a dawn of the left in all of Europe.

Congratulations to him and good luck!

Posted by b at 08:10 AM | Comments (54)

September 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton Lost

The U.S. presidential election of 2016 is decided. Hillary Clinton will not win. She knows it:

(You can turn the sound off. It is irrelevant.)

Clinton was talking during a video conference of the Laborers' International Union of North America. She is furious with everything around her. She does not understand why she (again) failed.

The polls are turning against her. "But Trump is lying!"

Of course he is. Everyone knows he is lying. He is a salesman seeking his own advantage. He is expected to lie and to exaggerate. He does not even hide it. He is authentic in his lying.

That's why he is - to many people - still a likeable man who one can deep down basically trust.

Hillary Clinton is a politician. She claims not lie. But from her extensive public record people know that lying is exactly what she does. She is not thereby not authentic. She does not inspire confidence. Nor does she inspire sympathy. Just see her terrible, angry performance above.

Does she really believe that campaign ads with Michael Hayden, Max Boot and other failed neocons will get her any votes?

She already lost the young people. She lost the military who are far less interventionist than the politicians. No one of the real, non-interventionist left will ever vote for her. Here move to the right, away from criticizing the Republican party, enables Republicans to win more congressional seats than necessary:

Through the end of May, the plan to “disaggregate” Trump, as it was described in one lengthy email, remained a source of frustration for Miranda, the campaign’s go-between on messaging at the DNC. In the same email, subject-lined “Problem with HFA [Hillary For America],” he argued that the campaign’s frame — that “Trump is much worse than regular Republicans” — would give down-ballot GOP candidates an “easy out” and put every Democrat not named Clinton at a possible disadvantage. (“It might be a good strategy ONLY for Clinton,” Miranda wrote.) Worse, he added, the strategy would put the party “at odds” with the its own broader message against Republicanism.

This is a (well deserved) disaster for her party.

There is some Hail Mary chance for the Democrats to still win. Immediately retire Clinton for medical reasons. Draft Sanders and offer Tulsi Gabbard the vice-presidency. Otherwise, I predict, Trump will win.

To what outcome?

Nobody knows. Electing Trump is a blind dart throw with unpredictable results. But that still feels better than to again see a Clinton in the White House.

Posted by b at 10:09 AM | Comments (115)

September 21, 2016

Syria - The Aid Convoy Attack Points To Further Escalation

The show-down over the damaged aid convoy west of Aleppo is reaching comedy level.

The UN/SRC convoy came from the government held west-Aleppo. It had reached a Syrian Red Crescent center in Umm al Kubra in the "rebel" held area further west where it started to unload. Something happened and many of the trucks burned or where otherwise damaged. Allegedly some 20 people were killed. The incident happened shortly after the ceasefire had officially expired. U.S. sponsored "White Helmet" propaganda teams where there when or shortly after the incident happened.

Here are various claims that were made about the incident (I am time restricted and will for now not provide links for each of these):

The U.S. and its allies claim that the convoy was bombed in an air attack. The Russians deny that they or the Syrians executed any such attack.

The "rebels" had various version. Syrian jets AND helicopters did it; "Barrel bombs" were used; a sustained attack over hours ...

U.S. Secretary of State first claimed that the Syrian did it, than that the Russians did it; helicopters had attacked. The Pentagon then came up with two Russian SU-24 fixed wing aircraft as the culprits. But the U.S. then claimed that the attack went on over two hours which is longer than a pair of SU-24 could sustain.

The Russians said neither they nor the Syrians attacked. They alleged that "rebels" attacked the convoy; that there had been no bombs, only damage from fire.

The pictures of some trucks show damage that is mostly from fire, but there also seem to have been some explosions and shrapnel impacts though no big direct hits. For me that leaves both possibilities open - an air or artillery attack or a simple local sabotage operation.

I don't know what really happened.

But independent from what happened is the question of motive.

Why would the Syrian Air Force attack the Syrian Red Crescent with which it has good relations and which also works in all government held areas? Why would the Syrian or Russian forces attack a convoy which earlier had passed through government held areas and checkpoints and was thereby not carrying contraband? I find no plausible reason or motive for such an attack. Nor has anyone else come forward with such.

A few days ago the "rebels" had accused the UN, which had goods on the convoy, of partisanship and said they would boycott it. "Rebels" in east Aleppo had demonstrated against UN provided help and said they would reject it. There was a general rejection of the ceasefire by the "rebels" and they were eager to push for a wider and bigger war against Syria and its allies. Al-Qaeda in Syria even made a video against the ceasefire. A part of the ceasefire deal is to commonly fight al-Qaeda. They naturally want the deal to end. The attack on the aid convoy seems to help their case.

The motive argument makes an attack by the "rebels" plausible and an attack by Syria and its allies implausible.

Kerry spoke at the UN today and performed some funny stunts that had the silly purpose of blaming Russia.

He said that Jabhat al-Nusra and Jund al-Aqsa are al-Qaeda and U.S. enemies and must be fought. He did not explain why the U.S. -for the last five years- provided al-Qaeda with weapons and munitions (via its sponsored "rebels"). He did not explain why the U.S. so far did not do anything about al-Qaeda in Syria. He did not explain why the U.S. did not order and forced its proxy "rebels" to distance themselves from al-Qaeda as it had promised at the begin of the ceasefire. Laughable nonsense.

Kerry then demanded a no fly zone over north-west Syria to prevent attacks on aid convoys. The whole UN erupted in laughter (silently). Surely he would love that. His "rebels" could then rearm, regroup and openly prepare for new attacks as they did under the first ceasefire in February. No, Russia and Syria will not again agree to that, nor will the UN Security Council. The demand was a lame joke.

But the gloves are coming off. The Syrian/Russian side is convinced that the U.S. willfully attacked Syrian forces in Deir Ezzor to hand the city to ISIS. The "rebel"/U.S. side (or their relevant public) will convince itself (despite lack of evidence) that the Syrian/Russian side is willfully attacking hospitals and humanitarian convoys. The words in front of the UN got markedly sharper.

I am afraid that we will soon see another serious escalation of the conflict. An incident between U.S. and Russian planes or something like that. This is playing with fire in a room full of dynamite.

This show is no longer about Syria. The conflict is now part of the U.S. election campaign. It is also about some very stupid need of some adolescent nations to prove to the world that their balls are the biggest. Stupid and deadly nonsense that will kill many bystanders and solve nothing.

Posted by b at 01:04 PM | Comments (245)

September 20, 2016

Deir Ezzor Attack Enables The "Salafist Principality" As Foreseen In The 2012 DIA Analysis

Two recent attacks against the Syrian Arab Army in east-Syria point to a U.S. plan to eliminate all Syrian government presence east of Palmyra. This would enable the U.S. and its allies to create a "Sunni entity" in east-Syria and west-Iraq which would be a permanent thorn in side of Syria and its allies.

A 2012 analysis by the Defense Intelligence Agency said:

THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME ...

Note that the described plan mentions exactly two cities - Hasakah and Deir Ezzor.


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On August 18 Kurdish YPK units suddenly attacked Syrian government positions in the center of Hasakah in the north-east of Syria. Before this incident the relations between the two entities had been decent despite some earlier, small clashes. The attacking Kurds were under advice from U.S. special operators. When the Syrian air force intervened the U.S. threatened to down its planes. The Syrian forces had to eventually retreat from populated areas in Hasakah and are now confined to an airport next to the city. They are cut of from supplies and will eventually have to give up.

(For the Kurds these attacks proved to be a political catastrophe. Not only did they lose all support from the Syrian government and Russian side, but Turkey used these clashes to justify its invasion into Syria. This ended the Kurdish national dream of a continues area from Iraq to the Mediterranean.)

On Saturday U.S. airplanes attacked the most important Syrian government position in Deir Ezzor. Nearly a hundred Syrian soldiers were killed and most of the heavy equipment the Deir Ezzor garrison had left was destroyed. Immediately after the attack fighters of the Islamic State occupied the bombed out government positions. These Islamic States fighters now own the heights above the Deir Ezzor airport. A day later the Islamic State shot down a Syrian government plane near Deir Ezzor.

The city and its 150,000+ inhabitants are surrounded by the Islamic State. They had been supplied from Damascus by nightly flights to the airport. As the Islamic State now has fire-control over the airport as well as anti-air weapons those supply flights are no longer possible. The U.S. air attack practically closed down the Syrian government ability to supply the city. If this situation continues the city will fall to the Islamic State.

Cont. reading: Deir Ezzor Attack Enables The "Salafist Principality" As Foreseen In The 2012 DIA Analysis

Posted by b at 12:25 PM | Comments (160)

September 19, 2016

U.S. Allies 'Volunteer' To Share (Implausible) Blame For Deir Ezzor Attack

The U.S. is trying to distribute the blame for its air support of ISIS against the Syrian Arab Army in Deir Ezzor.

The facts, not put into doubt by any U.S. statement, via the Russian military report after Saturday's incident:

"Today at 17:00-17:50 Moscow time, international anti-Daesh coalition (two F-16 and two A-10 jets) carried out four strikes on Syrian government forces' units encirled by Daesh near Deir ez-Zor airport. The coalition's aircraft entered Syrian airspace from the side of the Iraqi border," Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
...
As a result of the attack, 62 Syrian soldiers were killed and some 100 others were injured, according to information received from the Syrian command in Deir ez-Zor, he said.

The Syrian government now says some 82 soldiers were killed in the attack which also destroyed 3 T-72 tanks, 3 infantry fighting vehicles, an anti-aircraft gun and at least 4 mortars. Following the attack the Islamic State troops stormed the Syrian government position on the Jabal Thardeh hill. They are now able to harass the airport of Deir Ezzor, the only supply line for the ISIS besieged city and the 150,000+ civilians living there under government protection.

We note that this was not the first U.S. attack on Syrian government forces in Deir Ezzor. Back in December 3 Syrian soldiers were killed in an air raid.  In June a U.S. air attack on Manbij killed some 100 civilians. No U.S. attack on any ISIS target in Syria ever came near such casualty numbers.

It is very doubtful that this was not an intended attack. Even Human Rights Watch recognized Saturday's mass murder as "signal" to the Syrian government (before deleting its tweet).

Now the blame has to be spread.

Early Sunday Australia jumped in claiming its jets had taken part in the attack:

Cont. reading: U.S. Allies 'Volunteer' To Share (Implausible) Blame For Deir Ezzor Attack

Posted by b at 09:44 AM | Comments (195)

September 17, 2016

U.S., Israel Launch Airstrikes On Syrian Government Forces - Directly Supporting ISIS And Al-Qaeda

The U.S.

  • refuses to publish the details of the agreement with Russia about the ceasefire  in Syria
  • has done nothing over the last days to separate, as promised, the "moderate rebels" it supports in Syria from al-Qaeda
  • today bombed a Syrian army position in support of an Islamic State attack in Deir Ezzor.

Details of the last attack:

"Today at 17:00-17:50 Moscow time, international anti-Daesh coalition (two F-16 and two A-10 jets) carried out four strikes on Syrian government forces' units encirled by Daesh near Deir ez-Zor airport. The coalition's aircraft entered Syrian airspace from the side of the Iraqi border," Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
...
As a result of the attack, 62 Syrian soldiers were killed and some 100 others were injured, according to information received from the Syrian command in Deir ez-Zor, he said.

The Russian Defense Ministry said that Daesh terrorists launched an offensive soon after the US-led coalition aircraft attacked the Syrian government forces.

The death toll is likely to increase.

Earlier today the Syrian Arab Army had announced that 1,000 fresh soldiers arrived in Deir Ezzor to liberate it from ISIS.

The U.S. planes came from Erbil in the Kurdish separatist region of Iraq.

The Syrian troops were holding positions on Jabal Tharda, a mountain that overlooks Deir Ezzor's airport. The mountain is now fully under Islamic State control. With this IS has firecontrol over the airport and the Deir Ezzor garrison as well as more than 150,000 civilians living under government protection are thereby cut off from supplies and any further reinforcements. Government forces have launched a counterattack to regain the vital position.

At the same time the Israeli air force attacked Syrian positions in the Golan height after al-Qaeda lobbed a mortar towards Israeli forces signaling the need for support. This has become the official format of Israeli support for al-Qaeda in the area with Israel claiming that the Syrian army is responsible for any and all attacks from the Syrian side no matter who initiates them.

Intense attacks from inside the surrounded, al-Qaeda occupied east-Aleppo on Syrian government positions were launched in the late afternoon local time. Fighting there is ongoing.

Earlier today artillery fire from Turkey hit Syrian army positions in Latakia.

The U.S. air attack on Deir Ezzor was certainly not a mistake but well planed.

It is a signal to Russia and Syria. I am not sure though what lunacy it is supposed to convey.

Posted by b at 02:43 PM | Comments (325)

Open Thread 2016-31

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:25 PM | Comments (60)

September 16, 2016

Syria - CIA Vetted "Rebels" Chase U.S. Forces Out Of Town

According to the WSJ the U.S. agreed to join a further invasion of Syria by Turkey and its proxy forces:

The U.S. has agreed to send about 40 special-operations troops to work alongside Turkish forces to fight Islamic State in northern Syria, U.S. officials said.
...
The joint mission will take the forces east toward the northern Syrian town of Dabiq, a symbolically significant Islamic State stronghold. U.S. special-operations forces will operate as combat advisers and generally under the same guidelines as other special -operations forces are working inside Syria, U.S. officials said.
...
Ankara first proposed the idea of U.S. special -operations forces accompanying Turkish troops late last month as it planned a joint mission into Syria’s northern city of Jarabulus.

One can reasonably assume that the planned presence of U.S. forces amid a Turkish invasion has the sole purpose of deterring Russian or Syrian moves against it. With U.S. forces around the Russian command will have to think twice before bombing any Turkish advance beyond the borders of  their agreement with the Russians.

The deployment of some 40 U.S. special forces to Al Ra'i did not go well. The Turkish "Free Syrian Army" proxies threatened to kill the U.S. forces. They called them "unbelievers" and "crusader pigs" and the U.S. forces had to retreat under Turkish cover (video). Some FSA spokesperson later claimed that the dispute was over U.S. support for the Kurdish dominated SDF, which at times had fought against the FSA. Unconfirmed reports now say that the special forces are back in Al Ra'i after certain FSA groups were ordered out of the area. There are also reports claiming the U.S., after the special forces were chased out of town, "accidentally" bombed some FSA group in Al Ra'i. Ooops.

However, the hostile FSA forces will be around and U.S. Special Forces are obviously seen as their enemy. If the U.S. forces proceed together with the other FSA groups they will certainly have to watch their back at any and all times.

The Turkish supported sectarian "moderate" FSA groups are the very same groups the CIA has "vetted" and provided with TOW missiles and other weapons. But nobody should be astonished that such groups, driven by religious zeal, eventually turn on their sponsors. They have done so in each historic parallel one can think of.

The current ceasefire in Syria is already breaking down. U.S. media claim that Russia and Syria are blocking UN aid to the al-Qaeda ruled areas in east-Aleppo but other media say that the "rebels" are the ones threatening the convoys. In east-Aleppo al-Qaeda demonstrators held a rally (vid) against UN aid.

Russia says that the U.S. is trying to fudge on the terms of the ceasefire agreements and pushes the U.S. to publish the full accord. That is blocked by the State Department:

On Thursday, U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington that the full text of the deal worked out with Russia on the truce in Syria will not be made public. “It does deal with sensitive issues that we believe, if made public, could potentially be misused,” he said.

Translation: "It is more difficult to cheat on the agreement if the terms are public."

The U.S. supported opposition forces are using the ceasefire to prepare for new attacks on Hama and in the north of Aleppo city. I expect those to start at the beginning of next week. They will meet prepared defenses and ferocious attacks by Syrian and Russian air forces.

Posted by b at 11:26 AM | Comments (75)

September 15, 2016

"Dictator" Or "Crucial Ally" - How Does Clinton Decide?

As one Michael Curry points out, Clinton's social messaging team is simply incompetent.

From a series of Clinton tweets attacking Trump over his assumed foreign policy:

Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton

4. If you were willing to work with Qaddafi—a known terrorist and dictator—is there anyone you aren't willing to make a deal with? Who?

9:32 AM - 14 Sep 2016

---

Hillary Clinton @HillaryClinton

Hillary Clinton Retweeted Donald J. Trump

13. How can we know you won't (again) impulsively damage relationships with crucial allies to preserve your own ego? Hillary Clinton added,

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump
Dopey Prince @Alwaleed_Talal wants to control our U.S. politicians with daddy’s money. Can’t do it when I get elected. #Trump2016

7:53 PM - 11 Dec 2015

9:48 AM - 14 Sep 2016

Is such incompetence in messaging a reflection of Hillary Clinton own confusion? Or are the categories "terrorist and dictator" versus "crucial allies" solely depending on the size of payments to the Clinton Foundation?

Posted by b at 02:03 PM | Comments (53)

September 14, 2016

Friedman Attempts "Bash Putin" Stick - Screws Up For Hubris And Stupidity

A lame as ever Tom Friedman joins the Putin bashing circus and, as a hundred columnists before him, connects Putin to Trump to hit his real target. But as also characteristically for him, Friedman demonstrates a lack the knowledge and understanding that few others are able to reach. Thus, Putin is bad, because:

A 2015 report in The Moscow Times noted that “life expectancy in Russia has been growing several times slower than in the rest of the world for the past 20 years, according to a research by the U.S.-based Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.” That coincides almost exactly with Putin’s leadership of the country. The article explained, “During the period of 1990-2013 [life expectancy] only grew by 1.8 years in Russia, while the global average number increased by 6.2 years, pushing Russia out of the top 100 countries with the highest life expectancy and placing it in 108th position — between Iraq and North Korea.”

Here is graph with the life expectancy in Russia.


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One can obviously distinguish two periods with very different trends: In the 1990s the Harvard boys taught Russia a lesson in laissez-faire robbery. Life expectancy fell from 63.76 years for men in 1990 to 58.53 in the year 2003. It started to recover in 2005 and went up since. In 2010 life expectancy for men was back at 63.09 and in 2015 it reached 65.92.

How much of that was Putin's fault?

Putin became acting President of the Russian Federation on December 31 1999. Most of the 1990s he was First Deputy Chairman of the Government of Saint Petersburg - hardly the position that made him responsible for the health of the Russian nation. Putin was not at all responsible when life expectancy fell in Russia. But he was responsible when it again started to grow and is responsible for the success since.

In 2015 Russia ranked 110 in the WHO country list of life expectancy. Hardly great, but much better than 15 years earlier when Putin became responsible for the issue. During Putin's fifteen years in the top jobs life expectancy in Russia increased by some 7 years, nearly 12%.

Increasing the life expectancy of a nation is hardly the sign of a "strong" leader (whatever that may be). But it is a sign of a reasonably well led and working administration of a country.

Don't expect such in the U.S. if Tom Friedman's favorite candidate, Hillary Clinton, wins the presidency. The level of knowledge and decency of Friedman and Clinton are about par. As someone who knows personal failure, one Colin Powell, so nicely expressed:

"Everything HRC touches she kind of screws up with hubris.”

Just see the (Friedman) example above. I for one would choose a Putin over a Hillary Clinton any time.

Posted by b at 08:23 AM | Comments (82)

September 13, 2016

Washington Post - Mocking Conspiracy Theories While Creating Their Own

The Washington Post makes fun of the spouting of conspiracy theories over Hillary Clinton's health. "Hehehe - just look at those crazies":

Body doubles, secret doctors: Clinton conspiracy theories blossom after pneumonia diagnosis

Before Sunday morning, the conspiracy theories collected under the hashtag #HillarysHealth were numerous.
...
For a few hours, Clinton's stagger toward the van that took her to her daughter's New York apartment was interpreted as proof that the worst conspiracy theories had been right — and just as importantly, that the media had covered them up.

The accusation of covering up such theories was something Washington Post editors could not stand. They immediately found one to give credit on their own:

The man who discovered CTE thinks Hillary Clinton may have been poisoned

Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist who has made the NFL so uncomfortable with his discovery of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of deceased players, suggests that Hillary Clinton’s campaign be checked for possible poisons after her collapse Sunday in New York.

The only question: Whodunit? Easy for the Washington Post: "Putin, Putin, Putin, Trump ..."

He wasn’t giving up on Twitter, adding that his reasoning is that he does not trust Russian President Vladimir Putin or Donald Trump, the Republican presidential nominee who has expressed admiration for Putin.

Days before this latest episode the Fred Hiatt Funny Pages, aka WaPo Opinions, had originated another wild Putin/Clinton conspiracy idea:

The Russians attempt to throw the election. They might try to get Trump elected. Alternatively — and this would, of course, be even more devastating — they might try to rig the election for Clinton, perhaps leaving a trail of evidence designed to connect the rigging operation to Clinton’s campaign.

So, according to Anne Applebaum, the Russians want Trump elected. Alternatively they don't want Trump elected. They would therefore take care to elect Clinton. So whatever the outcome: Putin did it. And why would he do that? Because "Putin, Putin, Putin, Trump ... ." Isn't that enough reason?

Such writing follows the "North Korea Law of Journalism" as Adam Johnson aptly named it. It says:

Editorial standards are inversely proportional to a country's enemy status as it relates to the U.S. State Department.

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Election time is always a silly season in U.S. media. But I do not remember any campaign as utterly silly as this one. This "Putin did it" mania about anything that might ever happen is existential madness.

Besides - it is sad to see a once serious Washington Post drowning in a self created swamp of gossip and gutter journalism.

Posted by b at 02:54 AM | Comments (69)

September 12, 2016

On Views Of The War On Syria - By Debs is Dead

by Debs is Dead
lifted from a comment

It is sad to see so many are so locked into their particular views that they see any offering of an alternative as 'neoliberal' or laughable or - if it weren't so serious - Zionist.

1/ I do not see the Syrian civil war as racist or race based, I do believe however that the rejection of all Islamic fundamentalism as being entirely comprised of 'headchoppers' is racist down to its core. It is that same old same old whitefella bullshit which refuses to consider other points of view on their own terms but considers everything through the lens of 'western' culture which it then declares wanting and discards.

2/ Noirette comes close to identifying one of the issues that kicked off the conflict, that the Syrian government put staying in power via adopting neoliberal strictures ahead of the welfare of Syrians. I realize many have quite foolishly IMO, adopted President Assad as some sort of model of virtue - mostly because he is seen to be standing up to American imperialism. That is a virtuous position but it doesn't make President Assad virtuous of himself and neither does it reflect the reality that when push came to shove Assad put his position ahead of the people of Syria and kissed neoliberal butt.

3/ President Assad revealed his stupidity when he didn't pay attention to what happens to a leader who has previously been featured as a 'tyrant' in western media if he lets the neoliberals in: They fawn & scrape all the while developing connections to undermine him/her. If the undermining is ineffective there is no backing off. The next option is war. The instances are legion from President Noriega of Panama to President Hussein of Iraq to Colonel Ghaddaffi of Libya - that one really hurts as the Colonel was a genuinely committed and astute man. Assad is just another hack in comparison.

Cont. reading: On Views Of The War On Syria - By Debs is Dead

Posted by b at 03:33 AM | Comments (116)

Deplorable

To those deplorables who catch pneumonia:

This is a high-risk disease for elderly and infants. It can be contagious. To delay therapy is irresponsible.

Posted by b at 02:52 AM | Comments (66)

September 09, 2016

Syria - How Long Will The New Cessation of Hostilities Hold?

Tonight Russia and the U.S. agreed to some new Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) in Syria.

The general negative points:

  • This CoH, like the first one in February, comes at a moment where the Syrian government forces have an advantage in the field and are on the verge of renewed offensives.
  • It gives the opposition the time to reorganize and rearm.
  • It severely restricts Syrian sovereignty.

The general positive points:

  • The Syrian government lacks the capacity for a fully military solution of the conflict. The agreement is a possible path to a political solution.
  • It gives the government time to rebuild its army and to issue and train on new equipment.
  • It has enough flexibility to allow for local escalation when and where needed.

On the agreement itself.

  • The Syrian government has, according to the Russians, agreed to it.
  • The parties agreed to keep many details secret to prevent other actors from spoiling it.
  • The agreement will start on sundown of September 12

The timeline, as far as announced or known:

  • A general CoH for with a trial period of 48 hours.
  • If the CoH holds during the trial period it will be prolonged to one week.
  • After one week successfully passed, the U.S. and Russia will start common action against al-Qaeda in Syria.

Some Details as AP describes them (there is some doubt that this is 100% correct):

The military deal would go into effect after both sides abide by the truce for a week and allow unimpeded humanitarian deliveries. Then, the U.S. and Russia would begin intelligence sharing and targeting coordination, while Assad's air and ground forces would no longer be permitted to target Nusra any longer; they would be restricted to operations against the Islamic State.

The arrangement would ultimately aim to step up and concentrate the firepower of two of the world's most powerful militaries against Islamic State and Nusra, listed by the United Nations as terrorist groups.

The agreement excludes the area in south-west Aleppo where the recent attempt by al-Nusra and others to lift the siege on east-Aleppo failed. The Castello road in north-west Aleppo will be demilitarized to carry aid. (It is yet unknown who will supervise and enforce this by what means.)

It looks as if there has been unseemly resistance to this agreement by parts of the U.S. government. This may have been just for show. But it may also be a sign that Obama lost control of the bureaucracy:

The proposed level of U.S.-Russian interaction has upset several leading national security officials in Washington, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, and Kerry only appeared at the news conference after several hours of internal U.S. discussions.

After the Geneva announcement, Pentagon secretary Peter Cook offered a guarded endorsement of the arrangement and cautioned, "We will be watching closely the implementation of this understanding in the days ahead."

If this deal falls apart, as it is likely to eventually do, all responsibility will be put onto Secretary of State Kerry. Indeed the military and intelligence parts of the U.S. government may well work to sabotage the deal while Kerry will be presented as convenient scapegoat whenever it fails.

This new CoH is unlikely to hold for more than a few weeks:

  • Too much is left undefined. This allows any party to claim the other side broke it whenever convenient.
  • The powers who agreed on the deal do not have control over main elements on the ground.
  • There are too many parties, inside and outside of Syria, who have an interest in spoiling the CoH.

 

Posted by b at 11:02 PM | Comments (153)

Open Thread 2016-30

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:52 PM | Comments (124)

September 08, 2016

NYT Shaming Of Gary Johnson Fails With Four(!) Hilarious Mistakes

The U.S. election campaigns and their news coverage are generally embarrassing. But this incident of miss-coverage by the acclaimed paper of record beats many others. While attempting to criticize a candidate's lack of awareness or knowledge the NYT author and his editors demonstrate four times that they have neither.

The libertarian candidate Gary Johnson was asked a question of foreign policy relevance and did not know the answer. The question was about a city in Syria but, like it or not, no city in Syria has significant relevance in the general context of the U.S. presidential elections.

“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson asked after he did not get some question about it.

The New York Times, which mocks any candidate but Hillary Clinton, found that small lapses remarkable enough to write a whole piece about it. But its reporter and his editors show a bigger lack on knowledge than Johnson did. The headline: ‘What Is Aleppo?’ Gary Johnson Asks, in an Interview Stumble. The reporter, one Alan Rappeport, did not know either.  Here is the first version he and his editors put out:

“What is Aleppo?” Mr. Johnson said when asked on MSNBC how, as president, he would address the refugee crisis in the Syrian city that is the de facto capital of the Islamic State.

No. Aleppo is not the de facto capital of the Islamic State.

Some time later the NYT editors were made aware of that and changed the text. But check the result:

Cont. reading: NYT Shaming Of Gary Johnson Fails With Four(!) Hilarious Mistakes

Posted by b at 12:34 PM | Comments (122)

September 07, 2016

Steady Progress For Saudi Coalition In Yemen (Or Not?)

Gulfnews, October 6, 2015 - Al Houthis flee last bastion in Marib

Al Houthi militiamen who had been occupying large parts of Yemen fled their last bastion in Marib en masse on Tuesday, according to news reports, ...
...
Arabic language news outlets reported that coalition forces and the Yemeni Popular Resistance successfully retook the Al Zor area in the city of Sirwah, the last Al Houthi stronghold in Marib province.

Gulfnews, September 5, 2016 - Yemeni forces move to push Al Houthis out of Marib

Yemeni forces waged a fresh offensive on Monday aimed at driving Al Houthis out of their last bastion in the Marib province.

Government officials and army commanders speaking to Gulf News say the assault was backed by heavy air support from the Saudi-led Arab coalition, ...
...
“The national army and resistance forces attacked Al Houthi militants and Saleh’s forces in Serwah, their last stronghold in western Marib,” an official close to the governor of Marib told Gulf News on the condition of anonymity.

The town has been under Al Houthi control since their takeover of many parts of the country in 2015.

h/t Haykal Bafana

Posted by b at 11:16 AM | Comments (37)

 
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