Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 23, 2017

Syria - A Confused Trump Strategy Lets Erdogan U-Turn Again

There are two new developments on the Syrian front. The Islamic State suddenly changed its tactic and the Turkish President Erdogan again changed his policy course.

In the last 24 hours news announcements about victories against the Islamic state (ISIS) rapidly followed each other:

  • The Kurdish U.S. proxy forces in east Syria (SDF) announced that it had reached the northern bank of the Euphrates between Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. This cuts the ISIS communication line between the two cities.
  • Turkish forces and their "Syrian rebel" mercenaries have been attacking Al-Bab east of Aleppo for nearly four month. They made little progress and incurred huge losses. Late yesterday they suddenly broke into the city and today took control of it. Various sources claim that a deal was made between the Turkish forces and ISIS for the later to evacuate Al-Bab unharmed and with its personal weapons. It is not yet known what price Turkey paid in that deal.
  • South of Al-Bab the Syrian Army is moving further east towards the Euphrates and took several villages from ISIS. The Syrian move is largely designed to cut the roads between the Turkish forces around Al-Bab and the Islamic State forces in Raqqa. (This now might become a race.)
  • Further south another Syrian Army group is moving east towards Palmyra.
  • In the eastern city of Deir Ezzor the Syrian army garrison is under siege by Islamic State forces. A few weeks ago the situation there looked very dire. But with reinforcements coming in by helicopter and massive Russian air force interdiction the position held out quite well. In recent days the defenders took several hills from a retreating ISIS.
  • In Iraq the army, police and the various government militia are pushing towards south Mosul. Today the airport south of the city fell into their hands with little fighting. Like everywhere else ISIS had stopped its resistance and pulled back. Only a few rearguards offered tepid resistance.

While ISIS was under pressure everywhere the sudden retreat on all fronts during the last 24 hours is astonishing and suggest some synchronicity. A central order must have been given to pull back to the buildup areas of Raqqa in Syria and south Mosul in Iraq.

But ISIS has nowhere to go from those areas. Mosul is completely surrounded and Raqqa is mostly cut off. After the massacres they committed everywhere ISIS fighters can not expect any mercy. They have made enemies everywhere and aside from a few (Saudi) radical clerics no friends are left to help them. The recent retreats are thereby likely not signs of surrender. ISIS will continue to fight until it is completely destroyed. But for now the ISIS leaders decided to preserve their forces. One wonders what they plan to stage as their last glorious show. A mass atrocity against the civilians in the cities it occupies?

When in late 2016 the defeat of the "Syrian rebels" proxy forces in east-Aleppo city was foreseeable the Turkish President Erdogan switched from supporting the radicals in north-west Syria to a more lenient stand towards Syria and its allies Russia and Iran. The move followed month of on and off prodding from Russia and after several attempts by Erdogan to get more U.S. support had failed. In late December peace talks started between Syria, Russia, Turkey and Iran with the U.S. and the EU excluded.

But after the Trump administration took over the Turkish position changed again. Erdogan is now back to betting on a stronger U.S. intervention in Syria that would favor his original plans of installing in Syria an Islamic government under Turkish control:

Ankara understands today that Trump is aggressive toward Iran and gave his blessing to Saudi Arabia. Therefore Erdogan is taking a new position: hiding behind Saudi Arabia, mimicking the US hostility towards Iran and, in consequences, declaring himself once more against the Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The new Turkish position was confirmed by Senator John McCain's visit to the Kurdish YPG and U.S. Special Forces in Kobani. McCain came via Turkey. An earlier visits to the YPK by U.S. special envoy Brett McGurk had been condemned by Ankara. Outside of a wider agreement such McCain's antics would not be allowed.

The U.S. is allied with the Kurdish YPK in Syria who are blood-brothers of the Kurdish PKK group in Turkey which the Turkish government has been fighting for decades. The YPG fighters are good and reliable light infantry fighters. They work together with U.S. special forces and are well regarded.

Turkey offers to send its own ground troops together with Saudi forces to liberate Raqqa from ISIS. <snark>The expertise the Saudi military shows in Yemen combined with the Turkish military prowess in its "Euphrates Shield" operation in Syria will surely will be welcome by the U.S. military. </snark>

But there are bigger strategic issues at stake and some agreement between the U.S., Turkey and the Saudis has been found (adopted machine translation):

[T]he sudden transformation of the Turkish position occurred after a lengthy conversation conducted with the US president, Donald Trump, and the visit by the head of the U.S. intelligence agency (CIA). A re-shuffling of the cards took place which induced another turn in Ankara on the Syrian file.
...
The new U.S.-Turkish understandings that fixed the bridge between President Erdogan and the old U.S. ally is based on the escalation of hostility to Iran and the (re-)establishment of a "Sunni axis" led by the Turkish president. It includes the establishment of a buffer zone in Syria as a prelude to a partitioning [of Syria] scenario.

This is essentially a fall back to the positions taken by the Obama administration in 2011/12. The lessons learned since will have to be relearned. The signals from the U.S. military now suggest the introduction of additional regular ground troops in support of a U.S. proxy force and an eventual U.S. protected enclave in east-Syria. The YPK is the only reliable proxy force available to the U.S. and it needs heavier weapon support to take on Raqqa. But U.S. boots on ground in the Middle East have never been a solution. They are a guarantee of extended fighting and eventual failure.

The strategic view is contradictory. The U.S. wants to fight the Sunni radical forces that Saudi Arabia grows and pampers. Even while ISIS gets diminished new such forces are already growing in Iraq. Any anti-radical strategy that builds on cooperation with the Saudis will fail.

It is impossible to get Turkey and the YPK/PKK to fight on one side - McCain visit or not. The U.S. would loose its only reliable proxy force in Syria should it make common cause with Erdogan in the fight about Raqqa. Any anti-Kurdish Turkish-U.S. controlled "safe zone" in north Syria will come under fire from all other sides on the ground. Any U.S. base in Syria will be the target of various regular and irregular forces. In the long term the new plans are doomed and Erdogan's latest u-turn is unlikely to be rewarded.

But until then we can expect more bloodshed and more fighting in Syria. As Eljah Magnier comments:

The US policy in Syria seems frantic and far-fetched without efficient powerful allies on the ground, and is unable to retake cities from ISIS with its Kurdish proxies alone. And the “honeymoon” between Washington and Riyadh will certainly have a substantial negative effect on the war in Syria. This will increase the closeness between Russia and Iran, but the tension between US and Russia is also expected to increase: one side (the US) wants partition and the other (Russia) wants a unified Syria without al-Qaida and ISIS, and without Turkey occupying the north of Syria and a Saudi Arabia return to the Bilad al-Sham. At this stage, it is difficult to speculate on what this clash of incompatible objectives will produce on the ground in Syria.

Posted by b on February 23, 2017 at 10:42 AM | Permalink

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once again Putin's policy of declaring peace so that Syria's enemies can regroup and reformulate their strategy pays off!! Meanwhile Israel continues to bomb Syria without any objection from Putin, who we hear is truly deeply and forever committed to Syria's sovereignty...

Careful with that carving knife, Vladimir!

Posted by: paul | Feb 23, 2017 11:06:48 AM | 1

This strategy is a dead end. Russia is adamant about preventing partition. The US needs to come to their senses and realise this regime change battle was lost on September 30th, the day Russia got involved in Syria.
Once the SAA & SDF isolates IS, Erdogan's pendulum will have to swing back towards Russia again which means no safe zones otherwise fighting will erupt between SAA/YPG and Turkish forces..

Posted by: Lozion | Feb 23, 2017 11:19:54 AM | 2

Great post b. Trump's adoption of the Saudi position is going to alienate the vanguard of his domestic right-wing Bannon-led base who can tell the difference between a Wahhabite and a Shiite. This is the destination the Trump administration has been accelerating since its inauguration. It's about to punk its pro-Russian Infowars true believers.

Posted by: Mike Maloney | Feb 23, 2017 11:22:56 AM | 3

Syria cannot counter Israel now - Turkey switching sides

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FWcFdP1-x0

Posted by: ALberto | Feb 23, 2017 11:31:46 AM | 4

It sounds like good news. The surface part of GWOT still looks like a global whack-a-mole with ISIS franchises and wannabes popping up all over. And what of the al shams, the jayishes, misc groups, and whoever FSA is these days? In recent days, it's looked like they've been brought in under the umbrella label of "opposition" at the discussions. And the Kurds? Who knows which way that will go with Turkey stomping around? It's hard to know without a playbill. At least this site gives us more than MSM.

Mike 3
That is sad but most likely true. I wish Trump would avoid these bad influences.

Posted by: Curtis | Feb 23, 2017 11:40:13 AM | 5

Given Senator John McCain's recent visit to Syria this past week to visit the Kurds, it makes me wonder if the US is attempting to create a Kurdish/Turkish alliance against the Syrian government. Irrespective if the US throws the Kurds to the Turkish wolves down the road, it may have an outcome in desired partitioning of Syria. The big questions are the Kurds on-board and how will the Russians respond?

Posted by: Michael | Feb 23, 2017 11:45:06 AM | 6

It's too hard to track all the reversals of Erdogan. Syria and Russia just need to focus on controlling more territory toward the Turkish border so that the negative influence of Turkey is mitigated. Russia doesn't have the power to take on all forces, so Putin has tried to sideline Turkey as much as possible by including Erdogan in the peace process--people can complain about that all they want but it's probably better than open hostility which only gives Russia and Syria more enemies to deal with.

Posted by: WorldBLee | Feb 23, 2017 12:04:07 PM | 7

It's very hard to work out what Trump is really up to. For instance, his ban on visas for nationals from seven countries was bound to fail in the courts because it was introduced in such an arbitrary and capricious manner. He then said he would quickly come back with another attempt, but where is it? So, he's either a Machiavellian genius or and idiot.
This has me wondering whether his position with respect to Saudi Arabia is a misdirection designed to keep the KSA's substantial PR effort off his back while he gears up to make the switch against them. While I don't see him being friendly with Iran, a neutral approach could be quite easily justified by releasing an un-redacted version of the 28 page 9/11 report, so I guess it's wait and see with the advantage that release of that report would make life far harder for the neo-cons and the liberal interventionists including HRC if she decides to stand again in 2020.

Posted by: Ghostship | Feb 23, 2017 12:31:22 PM | 8

The Roosters prance and preen

"The enemy should not be mistaken in its assessments, and it will receive a strong slap in the face if it does make such a mistake," said General Mohammad Pakpour, head of the Guards’ ground forces, quoted by the Guards' website Sepahnews.


http://www.reuters.com/article/us-iran-usa-slap-idUSKBN161195

Posted by: ALberto | Feb 23, 2017 12:49:05 PM | 9

The signals from the U.S. military now suggest the introduction of additional regular ground troops in support of a U.S. proxy force and an eventual U.S. protected enclave in east-Syria.

I believe it’s over a week now that I have been warning this is coming and getting the usual ridicule and abusive flack from outraged and his Jackwabbit side-kick. I guess I should feel vindicated that this inconvenient fact is finally on record here, and their credibility is failing along with that of other Trump apologists.

First, I want to know how this Trump strategy is, at the very least, any different from the previous messiah-in-chief’s and actually much worse since he’s harping on safe zones and recruiting the Saudis and now the turn-coat Turk-o-gan to be his partners in crime. This is a recipe for disaster.

To make matters worse, Izrael has been bombing Syrian bases with total impunity. This is a powder keg waiting for a match. It’s time for Putin to stop looking the other way and read Izrael the riot act. Izrael would like nothing better than to do to Syria what it did to Lebanon in its civil war – wreak total destruction.

I hope that Putin is already looking at a replacement for Vitaly Churkin because an urgent session of the Security Council needs to be called to stop this insanity from getting anywhere. Aside from Iran and Hezbollah, only one country has authority from the Syrian government to operate inside Syria and that’s Russia. This projected escalation and rampant violation of sovereignty must be squashed now.

I always maintained that Trump is a con and now the neophyte in short pants is thinking of driving a crazy train that includes the U.S. hegemon, Turkey, Saudi terrorist financiers and the unhinged Zionist state. This train of fools must be derailed the moment it tries to leave the station.

Trump has no political capital right now. His ratings are the lowest ever for any incoming President. His mission in Yemen was a total failure and U.S. troops are getting wounded in Mosul. If he goes ahead with this insanity there will be many U.S. soldiers returning in body bags.

@5 I wish Trump would avoid these bad influences.

Quit apologizing for him; the buck stops with him. He’s not an infant. He’s made some disastrous decisions all on his own already. Trump is a menace and a fraud and his feet should be held to the fire like all previous pretenders advancing the U.S. hegemon.

I can't believe what I read here:

@8

This has me wondering whether his position with respect to Saudi Arabia is a misdirection designed to keep the KSA's substantial PR effort off his back while he gears up to make the switch against them.

No-oh, he'll just give the Saudis another medal instead.

Do me a favor; quit wondering. Oh and this takes the cake: Hillary's gonna run at 74 yet AGAIN. OH PAH...LEES already. She's practically in the dust bin of history. Why don't you focus on the lunatic showman at hand instead?

Posted by: Circe | Feb 23, 2017 12:51:46 PM | 10

@ Mike Maloney | Feb 23, 2017 11:22:56 AM | 3

Trump's base just wants an enemy. Any will do, and if it's got something to do with Islam, they'll be happy. Sunnite, Shiite, Wahhabite, Marmite, Samsonite...you really think those folks can tell the difference? You tell them often enough 'ISIS = Tehran' and they'll buy it.

In Germany in 1932, there was a lot of anger towards the class divide/ the rich. A few years later, the Nazis had turned that around and convinced people to hate the communists, i.e. the precise opposite of the original object of hate. The jews were used as a propaganda vehicle for this transition, a catalyst of sorts.

Anyone believes such an exchange of 'public enemy #1' would not be possible today?
ISIS today, Iran/ Russia tomorrow - never mind that they are the former's main opponents and targets.

Posted by: smuks | Feb 23, 2017 1:27:04 PM | 11

For now its all bluster, chest-beating, and table-pounding. Exactly what Trump is good at.

Isn't it quite likely that Trump won't concede Syria, Ukraine/Crimea, sanctions, etc. without a 'deal' on a comprehensive US-Russian agreement?

Circe's view is same as its always been: dump Trump NOW! NOW! NOW! Although Circe says he is anti-establishment/anti-Zionist, it is just those folks that don't wish to see Trump negotiate with Putin.

Trump's remarks at his press conference regarding better relations with Russia was encouraging. And I think Trump really believes in re-orienting US to 'America First'.

Lets see how it plays out.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 23, 2017 1:29:26 PM | 12

We had people on here practically swooning when Tulsi Gabbard made her pilgrimage to Damascus. They said she delivered a missive from Trump to Assad to the effect that Syria's territorial integrity was assured. Dream on.

Now Trump's considering putting troops on the ground to ostensibly clean out IS. How long would it take for the Marines to do to Raqqah what they did to Fallujah? Mattis would know, he was the commander at Fallujah and the Secretary of Defense now. The other day he told the Iraqis not to worry about their oil but he's given no such assurances to Syria.

I've said before that Trump's first loyalty is to Israel. Since then he's basically written them a blank cheque as far as the two-state solution is concerned. He admonished them to hold of on new settlements for "a while". How long is a while, one month, two?

The Israelis hate and fear the Shia Crescent. They hate the way arms flow from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Hezbollah is the only entity that puts the shit up their back, Hamas is just a bunch of nickel and dimers that are more an inconvenience than anything else. They know that Iran won't make a first strike. Hezbollah fought them to a standstill in 2006 and are better armed and better trained today. An American "safe zone" in eastern Syria would go a long way towards alleviating their fears.

So where does all this leave Russia and the USA? What would Russia do if Mattis sends in the Marines? Go to war or just tell Assad to be happy with a rump state? Your guess is as good as mine. So much for the love-in that never happened.

Turkey knows Trump is in the catbird seat. Being a Nato member and US ally is their default position.


Posted by: peter | Feb 23, 2017 1:52:14 PM | 13

@12

Although Circe says he is anti-establishment/anti-Zionist, it is just those folks that don't wish to see Trump negotiate with Putin.

So you're saying that it's the anti-establishment/anti-Zionist like myself that don't wish to see Trump negotiate with Putin. Nawh! Folks like me know that attempting an end-run on Syria by recruiting scumbags like the KSA and Erdogan for imposing safe zones on Syria is NOT what I would call good faith towards Russia or any kind of ethical negotiation considering all parties who've been spending treasure in Syria as invited allies. You're the disingenuous one; and your credibility is really flailing.

Posted by: Circe | Feb 23, 2017 2:01:20 PM | 14

Going against the territorial integrity of Syria will prolong its agony and everyone involved in it knows it. Carving Syria on the North-East for Kurds and North-West for Turks is a rather counterproductive tactics which USA is running on behalf of Saudi's and it is in vain.
Again, it might be just an atavism of Obama's administration, but also current one's incompetence, as well.
The only Syria's guarantor right now is Russia with some limited assistance from Iran, playing its constant role and making it very clear that no territorial carving will occur, no matter how wet is Erdogan's dream.

Posted by: laserlurk | Feb 23, 2017 2:03:14 PM | 15

Is there any actual basis for this idea that Hillary will run for president again?

Battle of the septuagenarians?

Posted by: jawbone | Feb 23, 2017 2:08:39 PM | 16

1-0 for b on Bhadra, who has far less details and background
http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2017/02/23/at-us-behest-turkey-reboots-syrian-war/

Posted by: Mina | Feb 23, 2017 2:31:35 PM | 17

"While ISIS was under pressure everywhere the sudden retreat on all fronts during the last 24 hours is astonishing and suggest some synchronicity. A central order must have been given to pull back to the buildup areas of Raqqa in Syria and south Mosul in Iraq."

Important information; thanks b.

Posted by: juliania | Feb 23, 2017 2:32:06 PM | 18

Louay Hussein of the non-MB, non-Saudi, non-French paid opposition said today that the so called opposition in Astana are just for the deco and that the war is other. Was he overly optimistic?
http://www.lemonde.fr/syrie/article/2017/02/23/syrie-la-guerre-est-terminee-il-faut-revenir-a-la-lutte-politique_5084330_1618247.html

Posted by: Mina | Feb 23, 2017 2:34:17 PM | 19

The looming referendum in April is the key of what is happening now with Erdogan. He wants YES voters

- He made a deal with ISIS to show victory in Al Bab
- He shows that he is smart enough to control both the USA and Russia.
- He violently criticizes Shia Iran because this is very popular among his Sunnis voters
- He crushes the Kurds because the MHP, his only political ally, hates them
- He wants to show that he is consistent about opposing Bashar al Assad so he gets Saudi money investors

In my view he is falling into a trap set by the USA ( Russia and Iran are contributing to the trap). They all want the end of bully and erratic Erdogan.

The USA is responding to Erdogan call for a safe zone by proposing a 'safe zone' on the border to Turkey that will become a Kurdish area. Erdogan has quickly rejected the offer.
Russia is now faced with the expected Turkish u-turn that may hamper the current negotiations in Geneva. It will now humiliate Erdogan by not letting him fulfill his promises to liberate Manbij an Al Raqqa
Iran is furious and may take action that will affect tourism and economy such as imposing visas between the two countries.
Syria will make sure that the FSA and the Turkish army will stay in the areas of Al-Bab they took and not move from there.

The result may be a crisis of confidence in Erdogan that would cause the YES or the NO to create turmoil in the country.
I doubt Iran, Russia and Syria will allow the USA to play with puppet Erdogan to their disadvantage. They will simply neutralize the puppet.

Posted by: virgile | Feb 23, 2017 2:38:32 PM | 20

Circe @14:

So you're saying that it's the anti-establishment/anti-Zionist like myself that don't wish to see Trump negotiate with Putin.
I'm saying is this:
1. You've been raging against Trump since when you showed up in November 2016;

2. You claim that it is because you are anti-Zionist/anti-establishment BUT ...

>> Despite calling for a "revolution" against the two-party system, you have urged MoA to ignore who is behind the anti-Trump protesters AND you have endorsed Kucinich as Democratic Party Presidential candidate;

>> Your determined and persistent anti-Trump messaging is actually beneficial to those that you claim to be against: Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Deep-State all want to derail US - Russia rapprochement!

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 23, 2017 2:51:40 PM | 21

@21

You're desperation is palpable. I repeat

Folks like me know that attempting an end-run on Syria by recruiting scumbags like the KSA and Erdogan for imposing safe zones on Syria is NOT what I would call good faith towards Russia or any kind of ethical negotiation considering all parties who've been spending treasure in Syria as invited allies. You're the disingenuous one; and your credibility is really flailing.

Lemme emphasis: All you care about is saving Trump man-god's image.

All I care about is that Trump doesn't con everyone with the help of his tools ergo I will point out the glaring INCONVENIENT FACTS that expose him as a fraud whether you like it or not. His safe zones, collaboration with the Saudis and turning Erdogan, and his planned troop escalation for Syria are just some of the developing INCONVENIENT FACTS you're running from.

Posted by: Circe | Feb 23, 2017 3:00:27 PM | 22

thanks b.. excellent overview and conclusions - tentative and otherwise..

@11 smuks.. thanks. that is much how i see it..

@ 20 virgile... exactly how i see it with regard to erdogan too.. april 16th looms large in erdogan-world..

as for usa foreign policy.. it doesn't outwardly appear like anything has changed! all the hope and change, especially from obama onto trump is misplaced idealism, while the 'global economy' as dictated by the corporations - financial and military especially - continue on unabated... i wish it was different. the bullshit about creating religious divides is all about divide and conquer.. only an idiot like erdogan and any other religious zealot, wahabbi whackjobs - will buy into it, being duped all the while by corporatocracy 101 centered around wall st, fleet st and etc. etc..

Posted by: james | Feb 23, 2017 3:26:09 PM | 23

I'd trust a coiled King Cobra before I'd trust Ergodan. At least with the Cobra, you know exactly what's on its mind.

Since McCain is negotiating with Syrian and Iraqi leaders, he is in violation of the Logan Act and must resign immediately.

Posted by: Greg Bacon | Feb 23, 2017 3:48:23 PM | 24

Circe @22

And let me repeat:

1. I am NOT a Trump fan. I now believe that some form of direct democracy is the only way to restore the "will of the people" to government. Citizen's United has destroyed representative government. That's why I now support the Pirate Party.

2. With that said, I - and many many others - support Trump's 'America First' re-orientation of government and if Trump betrays that, then he will be reviled.

IMO, the most powerful forces opposed to Trump/'America First' are invested in a foreign policy that means continued US involvement in ME conflicts. And they have plenty of money to pay for internet trolls.

3. Your constant hair-on-fire attacks on Trump and attacks on those that call for patience or who are merely worried are not "warnings". It is campaigning. And it has not gone unnoticed by many here.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 23, 2017 3:57:04 PM | 25

Representative government can be truly democratic. Athens did it. The upper house of the legislature (the Boule or Council), the juries who made up all of the judiciary (no judges), and most of the officials were chosen by lot from the whole body of adult male citizens.

Posted by: lysias | Feb 23, 2017 4:09:50 PM | 26

lysias @26

What are the criteria in the modern age? 'Adult male citizens' is insufficient. Most people would want to include women also.

Didn't Athens limit to property owners also? Such a criteria essentially implies stakeholder and competency tests. What might they be today, and who would decide?

Would ordinary people be less susceptible to graft or influencing than a politician? Many might see their selection as a lottery ticket.

<> <> <> <> <> <> <> <>

Private Party representatives pledge to vote in accordance with their constituency's wishes as expressed by online referendums (or other voting mechanisms).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 23, 2017 4:40:54 PM | 27

Pirate Party (not Private).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 23, 2017 4:42:00 PM | 28

Excellent and observant post, b.
@jackrabbit / @virgile

For the moment there is a lot of chest-beating, yep. And minds are focused on the referendum. This is key. There are already cracks appearing in the overly aggressive and overly nationalistic campaign strategy - but still very early and Erdogan has no intention of losing. As jackrabbit says - lets see how it plays out.

Just one more point, Erdogan is convinced that he can persuade the US to betray the Kurds because he can not comprehend that the US would choose the Kurds over Turkey. If he achieves in bringing this about, he can continue to ensure that the Kurds are not present at any peace talks (- a position which is becoming less and less tenable unless something changes.) Given that both the RF and US support Kurds, the best Erdogan can hope for is their 'irrelevance' when considering the future of Syria. He will not achieve in this because it would be a repeat of history which RF has already seen coming, even if Trump has not or does not understand ...

@b "The lessons learned since will have to be relearned." - fully agree, though at what cost?

Posted by: AtaBrit | Feb 23, 2017 4:47:20 PM | 29

No property qualification in Athens. Even the penniless citizens who were the rowers in the Athenian navy were full-fledged citizens.

Of course I would not suggest limiting political rights to males today any more than I would suggest having slaves and denying them political rights, as was also the case in Athens.

What Athens shows is that you can extend a large measure of political power to the whole citizen body without it resulting in immediate disaster. The Athenian system of using the lot to choose representatives and officials lasted through nearly two centuries of Athenian full-fledged independence. And even after Athens became a satellite first of Hellenistic monarchies and then of Rome, the system continued with some short oligarchic interludes for another couple of centuries, until Sulla finally abolished it in 86 B.C.

Posted by: lysias | Feb 23, 2017 4:49:10 PM | 30

The way Athens avoided wholesale corruption is that everyone leaving office was subject to a strict audit. There was of course some corruption, as there is in any system. But it does not seem to have overwhelmed the system.

Posted by: lysias | Feb 23, 2017 4:51:13 PM | 31

Literacy. It was easy to become literate in Athens, as it was one of the first states to make wholesale use of the new technology of the alphabet (much easier than the previous syllabaries), and there had not been time for pronunciation to diverge materially from spelling. Even today, it is easy for children to become literate in languages where the spelling accurately reflects pronunciation.

And it has been argued that the democratic system under which virtually all citizens occupied political office at some point in their lives helped to ensure that the citizens became functionally literate. The case has been persuasively made by Anna Missiou in her book Literacy and Democracy in Fifth-Century Athens.

Posted by: lysias | Feb 23, 2017 4:58:06 PM | 32

One of the main lessons from Athens is that if you want a functioning democracy, you need citizens who can spend time on politics, on learning stuff, on thinking, on discussing issues. It was possible because 80% of the people were slaves doing most of the work while Athenian citizens were pondering the meaning of life in the agora.
Nowadays, what this means is that we need to massively cut down working hours - and by that I mean going significantly below the 20 hours / week bar - if we want our democracies to actually work instead of being systematically manipulated and abused. Heck, even that might not be enough and would require additional measures, but getting mostly rid of work is absolutely necessary as a first step.

Posted by: Clueless Joe | Feb 23, 2017 5:35:34 PM | 33

Not 80%. Estimates I've seen are that about a third of the population were slaves.

Most of the citizens were relatively poor and had no slaves. The sailors in the navy, for example, that I mentioned.

Posted by: lysias | Feb 23, 2017 5:55:13 PM | 34

When I worked 30 hours a week while I was in training in the Air Force it seemed to me that most of my time was my own. When I began to have to work 40 hours a week, then my impression was the opposite. I think the tipping point is around there.

Posted by: lysias | Feb 23, 2017 5:57:23 PM | 35

Everyone expecting the Middle East - Syria included - to settle into a peaceful nirvana any time soon needs to relax and stock up on popcorn. This show will last for awhile longer. History rhymes, and what we are witnessing now is a re-run of Europe's 30-year war, Islamic edition. Europe was utterly devastated by that cataclysm, and so will be the Middle East. The twists and turns yet to come will make your head spin. Once Europe was done, all borders were rearranged. Some entities - like many German principalities - lost up to 3/4th of their total population. Comparable disasters will befall the powder keg that is the modern Middle East, as well as parts of Central Asia. Not a single country in the region will remain the same. Not Turkey, not Saudi Arabia, and not Iran. Big states will fragment, smaller ones will simply vanish. Kurdistan will become a reality.
So, if current events make your blood boil and affect your everyday functioning, do yourself a favor and disconnect. What happened up to now is just a warm up. It'll get much worse before it gets any better.
Just as the fire subsides once it runs out of fuel, this geopolitical conflagration will end when the region runs out of men able to hold a gun.

Posted by: telescope | Feb 23, 2017 6:00:30 PM | 36

The recent retreats are thereby likely not signs of surrender. ISIS will continue to fight until it is completely destroyed. But for now the ISIS leaders decided to preserve their forces. [...]
The U.S. wants to fight the Sunni radical forces that Saudi Arabia grows and pampers.

Why should it do that, and why should ISIS fight to the death? In the past, the (Wahhabi) islamist fighters were shifted from one war theatre to the next when they were no longer needed. The game has been going on for almost 40 years, and I don't see it coming to an end while the axis Washington-Riyadh persists.

So the real question is: Where to next?

The easiest answer would be Yemen, but somehow I doubt it - too insignificant. Central Asia seems out of reach. Pakistan springs to mind, or maybe even Algeria if B. dies.

As for Trump, he seems to care little about foreign policy and more about money...and the Saudis still have a lot of it.

Posted by: smuks | Feb 23, 2017 6:35:53 PM | 37

36

This is all pure theater! WWE Raw Rage in the Cage, a charade that Trump had invented!

Red-Blue Koolaid waterboarding, to grab emotional buy-in ahead of April 15th's blood-tithe harvest of $3.8 TRILLION that USAryans and their children will never see again. And as long as you fall for their Red-Blue Psyop, you'll never change it.

There is only the One Party of Mil.Gov.Fed in the USA. Presidents come and go, nothing changes. They've made USAryan children their $20 trillion debt (sic) slaves, transferring their criminal synthetic CDS gambling losses onto the Treasury, a crime against humanity.

With Trump's (best bi-partisan estimate) planned debt increase of $6.8 trillion, the One Party's bought-and-sold Congress is gonna raise that debt (sic) ceiling to $30 trillion, after which USAryan grandchildren, out seven generations, are debt slaves too. Interest-only debt-fee slaves ... forever.

Even the cattle are fed, housed and cared for, but not any of USA, except the One Party! One Party has salaries and (multiple) pensions for life, (multiple) houses, the best food and free healthcare! All paid for by the annual tithe-bleeds and taxes! Are We not Men?! Is this not Our Country? Mil.Gov.Fed is a Body-Politic parasite, and Red-Blue Parties are their drunk, fat slob party celebrators, living off that debt tithe skim.

Every conceivable effort will be made to get your emotional buy-in to the Red-Blue meme, because, by definition, you're just switching the coasters under their chilled Krystal!

Posted by: chipnik | Feb 23, 2017 6:41:49 PM | 38

@ james | Feb 23, 2017 3:26:09 PM | 23

Very little change indeed, and if any, it's for the worse. Actually in the later Obama years, Kerry did a fairly decent job imo, trying to find common ground with Moscow, while keeping the Neocon warmongers under control.

Corporations and their owners are all interconnected, whether financial, energy, IT, defence...
It's all the same interest group, trying to keep growth and capital accumulation going for as long as possible...until there's a big bang. It's the profits, stupid.

@Chipnik: We are Devo.

Posted by: smuks | Feb 23, 2017 6:54:03 PM | 39

B... you present a lot of news summary(which is more than the normal round of confusion), but very little commentary or analysis... is there a reason?

In the past you affirmed quite strongly there was a Russia- Turkey deal that allowed the Turkish army (but not airforce) into Syria. You also asserted that Al-Bab would not be taken by Turkey, but by the Syrian Gov. (SAA). Seems that all came undone - especially with the Turkish supported forces in al Bab,(all allies of the old An Nasra), aiming at deeper penetration toward Raqqa, all the while willing to clash with the SAA (both near Aleppo and Latakia).

So what happened to the agreement? - was Putin played the fool by bombing and paving the way for those Turkish forces to take Al Bab?? Will Turkey try to do the same with the US and go after the PYD once ISIS is defanged? Do you really think that Turkey will pull back regardless of any agreement concerning Asssad, partition or Western approved Syrian government?

Seems Turkey is holding the strongest cards at this point when it comes to impacting the outcomes of this war - unless Putin would support Syrian government action against Turkish forces. Is this a possibility in 6-12 months?? Seems to me that Syria would need to secure it's border with Jordan/Israel in the south as well as cut off Saudi support before that could happen. Is this Putin's goal in the Astana peace talks?

Posted by: les7 | Feb 23, 2017 6:54:48 PM | 40

"It is not yet known what price Turkey paid in that deal."

B - What makes you think Turkey actually paid anything?

Looks like a good way for the Gulf States to send their ISIS mercs some funds. "HERE IS YOUR AL-BAB COMPENSATION BROTHERS! (... now go get our mujahedeen some new gear, goodies and ammo, and send them on to Deir)"

Posted by: Quadriad | Feb 23, 2017 8:01:55 PM | 41

Lysias, Clueless Joe:

I believe that a considerable proportion of the population of ancient Athens was neither Athenian citizen nor slave but resident aliens (metics). Athens probably had more metics than other city state at the time (probably because Athens was the most populous city state).

From Britannica.com (still a useful source sometimes):

"Metic, Greek Metoikos, in ancient Greece, any of the resident aliens, including freed slaves. Metics were found in most states except Sparta. In Athens, where they were most numerous, they occupied an intermediate position between visiting foreigners and citizens, having both privileges and duties. They were a recognized part of the community and specially protected by law, although subject to restrictions on marriage and property ownership. A significant source of manpower and skilled labour, they constituted a large part of the population of Athens by the 5th century bc. Cephalus, father of Lysias and a metic, was a character in Plato’s Republic; Pasion, a metic and former slave, became a great Athenian banker of the 4th century bc."

And from Agathe.gr (The Unenfranchised II - Slaves and Resident Aliens)

"... Metics were citizens of other Greek or foreign cities, drawn by the extraordinary opportunities Athens offered to skilled artisans and intelligent businessmen. As in the United States, much of the vitality and energy came from immigrants. They were welcome in Athens, but it was very rare to become a naturalized citizen. Many of the great contributors to Athenian cultural preeminence, such as the philosopher Aristotle and the painter Polygnotos, were not Athenian citizens.

Many of the craftsmen who built the great temples of the city are known to have been foreigners, and some of the wealthiest businessmen and even businesswomen of the city were not Athenian citizens. Whole foreign communities of Egyptians, Cypriots, and Phoenicians sprang up, especially at the port of Piraeus, and they were permitted to establish sanctuaries to their own gods. With foreigners as with slaves, the Athenians were said to be more open than elsewhere:

This, then, is why in the matter of free speech we have put slaves and free men on equal terms; we have also done the same for metics and citizens because the city needs metics because of the multiplicity of her industries and her fleet; that is why we were right to establish freedom of speech for metics as well. ("Xenophon," Constitution Of the Athenians 1.12)..."

http://www.agathe.gr/democracy/slaves_and_resident_aliens.html

Note that in most matters except in political decision-making, free citizens, slaves and metics were nearly equal.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 23, 2017 8:23:53 PM | 42

Turkey’s Syria moves as Trump deadline gets near


Turkey wants to convince the U.S. administration on one issue before the deadline given by Trump to the Pentagon expires on Feb. 28 about a new plan in the fight against ISIL. That is to work together as two major allies of the Western defense alliance NATO to deliver a final blow to ISIL in Syria, if the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) abandons its current partner on the ground and collaborates with Turkey, especially in the key operation against the ISIL headquarters in the city of Raqqa.

According to Işık, the Americans are evaluating now whether to abandon the PYD as a partner and take the FSA and other Arab rebel forces with full military support from Turkey against ISIL.

Posted by: virgile | Feb 23, 2017 8:29:16 PM | 43

Trump said he was going to eradicate terrorism, specifically that of Daesh and al-Ciada during the campaign, but I see very little effort to do so. I see just 4 entities that are very serious about eradicating terrorism: Russia, Iran, Syria, and Hezbollah. No other nation even comes close. Certainly not the biggest purveyor of terror on the planet--The Outlaw US Empire. Terror that Trump's unwilling to stop and in some areas escalate--South China Sea, and the ongoing attack on Venezuela's government, for example--both of which go against pledges he made in his Inaugural Speech.

As pointed out by myself and others, Trump's alleged attempt at détente with Russia is merely a reset of Kissinger's design for Full Spectrum Dominance--a reset that was enough to make him the lesser evil versus HRC. It seems prudent for the 4 entities named above to act as if HRC was elected, for her protégé has Trump's ear.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 23, 2017 8:47:16 PM | 44

@43 virgile.. one quote from the aritlce you missed.. coming from the prime minister of turkey, it wins the award for hypocrisy too...maybe he can pass that on to the bozo he wants as the one man dictator for turkey while he is at it.

“There should only be Syrians in Syria” in a Syria that represents all Syrians, Yıldırım told reporters on Feb. 22."

Posted by: james | Feb 23, 2017 9:09:10 PM | 45

Could we all here just admit that this Syrian abuse will NEVER end until the U$A/NATO Empire changes its' "regime change" policy ?

Posted by: ben | Feb 23, 2017 9:23:42 PM | 46

Saudi Arabia ‘Ready to Send Ground Troops’ to Syria.

"The minister said the aim of the deployment would be to ensure that “liberated areas did not fall under the control of Hizballah, Iran or the regime,” adding that recaptured areas could be handed over to rebels."

From Global Research:

http://www.globalresearch.ca/saudi-arabia-ready-to-send-ground-troops-to-syria/5576261

Credible?

Posted by: ben | Feb 23, 2017 9:49:49 PM | 47

@ Posted by: ben | Feb 23, 2017 9:49:49 PM | 47

Not credible. The KSA 'military' is an actual laughing stock, with the exception of terror bombing the largely defenseless Yemenis, and they're not even very competent/capable at doing that.

The House of Al-Saud always makes such public statements when they're trying to bribe/influence the US behind the scenes ... there is a consistent pattern of it going back years.

Posted by: Outraged | Feb 23, 2017 10:14:29 PM | 48

From RT:https://www.rt.com/op-edge/378378-syria-fsa-cia-trump-geneva/

An excerpt:

"The timing of the CIA’s decision to cease its funding of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) is significant. With the Geneva peace talks now underway, it suggests that, unlike his predecessor Barack Obama, Trump may be serious about combatting terrorism."

Let's hope so. The Syrian people need relief.

Posted by: ben | Feb 23, 2017 10:26:58 PM | 49

In an interview a few weeks ago Assad said he can't trust Erdogan because "he is an Islamist." Why have the Russians brought Turkey into the "inner circle"? And what of Putin's cordial relationship with BiBi Nutbaryahoo? Russia is not, and never was altruistic, in this fight and what Syria wants may not be what Russia wants.

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Feb 23, 2017 10:33:56 PM | 50

@44

Very interesting comment. I'm glad you brought up the fact that Trump is escalating hostility towards Venezuela since he recently imposed sanctions on Venezuela's Vice-President under a phony pretext and this act is flying under the radar.

Certainly not the biggest purveyor of terror on the planet--The Outlaw US Empire. Terror that Trump's unwilling to stop and in some areas escalate--South China Sea, and the ongoing attack on Venezuela's government, for example--both of which go against pledges he made in his Inaugural Speech.

I believe that Zionists are trying to bring down Venezuela's Vice-President, Tareck Zaidan El Aissami, and he's even been accused of being a Hezbollah operative. El Aissami was a strong supporter of Chavez and has the potential to succeed Maduro as President of Venezuela. The Zio/Anglo empire views Aissami as a huge threat, and there is a massive smear campaign being launched against him from all sides including in the U.S. media, specifically by CNN, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Fox and others.

Already in 2011, there appeared an opinion hit piece against the Chavez government accusing Chavez of setting up a terrorist network in Venezuela.

chavez-terror-network-on-americas-doorstep

Now Trump is gunning for Maduro's Vice-President who could have been and still could be the next President of Venezuela. What Trump is really doing is trying to abort that possibility, and if he doesn't succeed, setting the stage for a coup against a Chavez protégé.

Who says Trump isn't into regime change?

Posted by: Circe | Feb 23, 2017 10:37:49 PM | 51

...
All I care about is that Trump doesn't con everyone with the help of his tools ergo I will point out the glaring INCONVENIENT FACTS that expose him as a fraud whether you like it or not. His safe zones, collaboration with the Saudis and turning Erdogan, and his planned troop escalation for Syria are just some of the developing INCONVENIENT FACTS you're running from.
Posted by: Circe | Feb 23, 2017 3:00:27 PM | 22

That would be terrific if it were true, but it's not.
Your selective forgetfulness brands you as even more allergic to INCONVENIENT FACTS than you accuse Trump of being.

Pretending not to notice that the Deep State is still firmly in control of the anti-Trump Fake News MSM makes you seem either stupid or dishonest. One rather glaring example of MSM dishonesty is PBS Newshour shamelessly flogging a Hollywood-ish, crocodile tear-jerking, movie extolling the dubious virtues of Teresa May & MI6's White Helmets in Syria. That utterly Fake movie has one purpose; to smear Assad and Russia sufficiently to make Trump's goal of Russia-US rapprochement more difficult than necessary.

Expecting Trump to behave in a more predictable/ less confusing way than the Deep State and its lackeys is naiive, or worse.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 23, 2017 10:38:01 PM | 52

ben @47:

Credible?
The snarky cynic in me answers thusly: the Saudis can't provide sophisticated weapons like long-range anti-aircraft missiles directly to ISIS but they can lose them to ISIS on the battlefield.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 23, 2017 10:40:44 PM | 53

Q. Is there Isis in Saudi Arabia ?

Black Daesh, white Daesh,,” Daoud wrote, using the Arabic acronym for ISIS.

The former slits throats, kills, stones, cuts off hands, destroys humanity's common heritage and despises archaeology, women and non-Muslims.

The latter is better dressed and neater but does the same things. The Islamic State; Saudi Arabia.”

Published by Salon written by Ben Norton from AlterNet, a year ago:


Saudi Arabia funds and exports Islamic extremism: The truth behind the toxic U.S. relationship with the theocratic monarchy
The little-told history of the U.S.-Saudi "special relationship" is a story of blood, oil & violent fundamentalism

Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.” So advised world-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky, one of the most cited thinkers in human history.

...

Saudi Arabia is not the sole reason for the extremism in the world today, but it is one of the primary sources of it. More crucially, the fanatical Wahhabi ideology the Saudi monarchy exports is one of the main reasons many rebel groups resisting these forms of injustice and oppression become Salafi Islamists, and not secular leftists, as most resistance groups were in the mid-20th century.

... the West has again asked itself what it can do to stop Islamic extremism — while it is actively supporting Saudi Arabia, the world’s principal proselytizer of Islamic extremism.

If it is truly interested in stopping terrorism, then, the U.S. and the rest of the West will heed Chomsky’s advice. The U.S. will realize that there really is an easy way to stop terrorism: It will stop participating in it, and end its alliance with Saudi Arabia.

Oh, & let's not forget Qatar, Bahrain & UAE, either ...

Posted by: Outraged | Feb 23, 2017 10:45:55 PM | 54

At US behest Turkey reboots Syrian war M K Bhadrakumar..

the coincidence of isis changing it's tactic at the same time turkey is changing it's tactic is a bit too coincidental for me too.. if i didn't know better, i'd think isis is under the same command or influence turkey is, or they have the same friends in saudi arabia/qatar, or even more suggestive - the usa... just how this gets played out remains a mystery, but deescalation doesn't seem to be a part of it here..

Posted by: james | Feb 23, 2017 10:47:28 PM | 55

@48

Yeah, you're the same person who ridiculed me for posting about reports that Trump's Defense is recommending combat troops for Syria.

I happen to believe the Saudis might send troops because maybe Trump is pressuring them to do this. Let's not forget that Trump asked the Saudis to support safe zones for Syria and Yemen.

He repeatedly stated he wants Saudi support for the safe zones. So stop pretending it's so far-fetched.

Posted by: Circe | Feb 23, 2017 10:48:21 PM | 56

Trump is a busted flush. Lots of denial here about that. What you can expect from Trump is what he's delivered so far: nothing. Unless you consider threatening Iran, cozying up to the KSA and making noises about a Syrian "safe zone" and American boots on the ground as "something". Stop making excuses for him.

Posted by: Temporarily Sane | Feb 23, 2017 11:03:40 PM | 57

@ Posted by: Circe | Feb 23, 2017 10:37:49 PM | 51

Just as the Deep State has sustained without letup for years, a decade or more now(?), a ludicrous myopic Psyop 'narrative' of anything & everything, no matter what 'it' is, it's all the fault of the Demon-Head, a Devil incarnate all-powerful Beelzebub-ic(sic) version of the 'Scarlett Pimpernel'(he's everywhere) ... Putin!

You are a relentless proselytizer maintaining your(?) mirror/version of the same Psyop 'narrative', one-dimensional, devoid of reality, nuance, depth, or facts ... ie. whatever 'it' is, it's the fault of ... 'Trump'! (*shudder* & *tremble*). LOL :)

Few free thinking educated adults would fall for it, quite the opposite, just as there is the obvious, yet suppressed, global social media comment pushback against the faux 'putinbot' meme ...

Has anyone noticed that the technique for years by the MSM of falsely reporting or distorting, especially by omission of Putin's public speeches/addresses is now also used against the current President ?

There is false reporting, with obvious slant/bias and omission for a day or two, to 'frame' & 'set' the topic, and then only reluctantly is the actual transcript or video made available in full by said MSM ... this Psyop 'technique' use must be entirely coincidental ...

Therefore we are to assimilate, absorb, to understand:

Putin = Macavity = Trump
(youtube)('Cats' musical excerpt, from a poem by T.S Eliot)

Further:

Published on Sep 15, 2016

While mainstream media would have us believing that the President of Russia is worth "$200 billion" (according to Reuters/AP, until recently owned by the richest family on earth, the Rothschild Empire) - the reality is, he is one of few people that actually holds corrupt and ineffective officials to account. The war against Putin stems from the sudden inability for crooks to plunder Russia's resources as well as get away with stealing budget funds - and - God forbid - have to pay taxes via their independent companies (often, contracted to government projects!) The man mentioned in the first clip, Mr. Belalov, ran away and was granted asylum in the UK. He cited political reasons for his non-safety in Russia, but he was simply siphoning money from the government.

There are literally hundreds of outtakes like these - I picked only a couple for this compilation for you to get the idea. Watch to the end to see an off-camera moment, which was recorded nonetheless.

Putin handles corruption LIKE A BOSS(youtube)

Posted by: Outraged | Feb 23, 2017 11:32:38 PM | 58

IMO, the most powerful forces opposed to Trump/'America First' are invested in a foreign policy that means continued US involvement in ME conflicts. And they have plenty of money to pay for internet trolls.
Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 23, 2017 3:57:04 PM | 25

Only ME conflicts?
You forget Europa (Trump: "Return Crimea"), Asia (China South Sea), Latin America (Venezuela).
Maybe you're just stupid and/or too blind to see what Trump is doing.
You act like a Trump-troll.


Posted by: From The Hague | Feb 23, 2017 11:33:29 PM | 59

This: @ Mike Maloney | Feb 23, 2017 11:22:56 AM | 3

>>>>> Trump's base just wants an enemy. Any will do, and if it's got something to do with Islam, they'll be happy. Sunnite, Shiite, Wahhabite, Marmite, Samsonite...you really think those folks can tell the difference? You tell them often enough 'ISIS = Tehran' and they'll buy it.<<<<<<

Amen to you brother. I click on Breitbart daily. I read maybe 4 articles. I read the comments. A diet of about 10-15 is all I can stomach. Believe me, Mike here is correct. Trumps "base" can be discerned at Breitbart. They are a howling enraged mob. Angry. But they don't know at whom exactly to direct their rage.
Just as mike says they wouldn't know an Alawite from a Samsonite.
Remember - bin Laden (a Saudi) and al quada? the sheepies were told - bin
Laden killed 3000 Americans on 9-11. To avenge this the US immediately bombed Afghanistan. And then invaded Iraq. The sheepies were then sold Sadam = al quada. They bought it.
The US has been demonising Iran for 40 years. It's an easy sell that Iran = ISIS.
Proof that merely repeating a lie for long enough, loud enough works like magic is proven in the DNC-Hillary narrative insisting on Russian-hackers. This lie has been absorbed as a self-evident truth simply because of its incessant repetition by the MSM.
War- it is how Americans learn geography. Even if a great proportion of your sheepies can't even locate the country of the enemy du jour on a globe - that's no reason not to bomb them back to the Stone Age as US generals are enamoured of offering.

Posted by: Don Bass | Feb 23, 2017 11:38:24 PM | 60

@52

You're the naïve one. You make it appear like someone's twisting his arm. Just today, Trump gave an interview to Reuters, slamming START, and vowing to boost America's nuclear arsenal. So don't tell me someone pressured him to re-ignite an arms race with Russia.

Wonder what Putin thinks about that?

Posted by: Circe | Feb 23, 2017 11:42:15 PM | 61

I'd trust a coiled King Cobra before I'd trust Ergodan. At least with the Cobra, you know exactly what's on its mind.
Since McCain is negotiating with Syrian and Iraqi leaders, he is in violation of the Logan Act and must resign immediately.
Posted by: Greg Bacon | Feb 23, 2017 3:48:23 PM | 24

Exactly, precisely. How come the incoming NSA of a new administration has to resign because he's allegedly in breach of some 200- year old rule never tested legally.
And yet McCain seditiously meets with ISIS AAnD Ukrainian forces. In Ukraine in dec 2016 he openly agitated for increased violence along the contact line. He promised the US would support the Ukie forces.
How is this not treason?

Posted by: Don Bass | Feb 23, 2017 11:56:11 PM | 62

@ Posted by: Don Bass | Feb 23, 2017 11:38:24 PM | 60

Sadly, especially re Iran, quite probable.

It is so clear and incredibly simple. I am no longer confused having checked with the State Dept ...

There are in fact only THREE(3) 'State Sponsors of Terrorism' in the whole world, apparently, and all this 'terrorism' is solely all their fault:

State Sponsors of Terrorism - U.S. Dept of State

Countries determined by the Secretary of State to have repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism are designated pursuant to three laws: section 6(j) of the Export Administration Act, section 40 of the Arms Export Control Act, and section 620A of the Foreign Assistance Act. Taken together, the four main categories of sanctions resulting from designation under these authorities include restrictions on U.S. foreign assistance; a ban on defense exports and sales; certain controls over exports of dual use items; and miscellaneous financial and other restrictions.

Designation under the above-referenced authorities also implicates other sanctions laws that penalize persons and countries engaging in certain trade with state sponsors. Currently there are three countries designated under these authorities: Iran, Sudan, and Syria.
Country Designation Date
Iran January 19, 1984
Sudan August 12, 1993
Syria December 29, 1979

For more details about State Sponsors of Terrorism, see "Overview of State Sponsored Terrorism" in Country Reports on Terrorism.

Posted by: Outraged | Feb 24, 2017 12:05:14 AM | 63

Media black-out at Standing Rock while police and the Feds forcibly remove protesters. This is what Trump man-god is really about!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SaczZkHK6rs

https://www.rt.com/usa/378417-police-military-dakota-camp/

Shame on Trump! These reserves were given to Native Americans after most of their tribes were decimated and most of their land was stolen.

What a sickening spectacle of injustice.

Posted by: Circe | Feb 24, 2017 12:27:42 AM | 64

Posted by: Outraged | Feb 24, 2017 12:05:14 AM | 63

When Trump tweeted in support of Flynn's crap on Iran I saw a weak point in Trump that can and will be used. He seems to consider KSA the lesser of two evils, that is if he considers KSA an evil.

Read your post over at the other thread. There seems to be a need in this day and age for a defensive type nationalism. But nationalism is a dirty word equated with nazi-ism that carries through to many of the posters here (somewhat like the words democracy and humanitarian have been turned around).
A week or so back I put up something about people from countries under attack by the US wanting to migrate there or working with the US being traitors to their country. Apart from yours, the feedback stumped me for awhile - ike most here were full on supporters of Clinton, Orwellian democracy and humanitarian.
It seems there is a need for a type of nationalism, that although may not believe the countries ideology of the day, to rise up in defence of the country when it comes under attack from a foreign power- this day and age, all countries are under attack or, consumed by the US.

Posted by: Peter AU | Feb 24, 2017 12:52:25 AM | 65

It is hard for Trump when the neolib pussy riot types among the Democrats are calling for war with Russia along with the Neocons such as McCain and Hillary and the mass "liberal" propaganda media. I would give him time to neuter the Bernays infected media take out ISIS and Al Qaeda. Sure hope he can get Saudi Arabia and the rest of the radical Gulf Salafist States to pay for the reconstruction! Perhaps the Saudi Arabia and the other gulf states can take in a few hundred thousand refugees!

It is also hard to change foreign policy when all Western countries want war with Russia and Iran while supporting radical Islam. Trump's Secretary should be given some credit for calling for humanitarian relief for Yemen!

For more on Trump's efforts to to bring sanity to the Western governments and the warmongers among the American people see: Trump - business against war
http://www.voltairenet.org/article195279.html


Posted by: Krollchem | Feb 24, 2017 1:04:51 AM | 66

James @55

Posted by: stumpy | Feb 24, 2017 1:18:15 AM | 67

wtf...\\

James @55

the coincidence of isis changing it's tactic at the same time turkey is changing it's tactic is a bit too coincidental for me too..

Good call. Maybe b's point about Trump can be read another way, that he's assessing his next move, meanwhile the moving parts in the ME, notably KSA, are positioning to make a cozy bed for increased US intervention. The market may become increasingly mixed if isis had been quietly building its network into Af-Pakistan and sub-Sahara. Think opium.

Posted by: stumpy | Feb 24, 2017 1:22:55 AM | 68

Ah come on guys, it's just smoke and mirrors: bullshit for feeding mushrooms! And you act like it matters. Well, unless we get off our arses, it doesn't. Of course it does give dullards an excuse to go on incessantly about shit they really don't know squat about.

Read Fred Reed, "A Budget without Russians: The Empire’s Nightmare" at http://fredoneverything.org/ and after you get finished, if my point hasn't been made, then (and only then) reply. Sadly, most won't get it and many will reply.

Sigh.

Posted by: Cabeza del Toro | Feb 24, 2017 2:04:13 AM | 70

While its fun to make jokes about Turkey's or Saudi's military shortcomings on the battlefield, but lets not forget their influence over terrorists and bribing power.

Therefore Saudis threat to send army to "liberate cities from ISIS" is actually very dangerous. Just as Turkey bribed ISIS to get Jarablus and Al Bab, do you think they'll be handing over those cities to Syria? Of course not. Now imagine if the Axis of Terror (Saudis/US/Turkey/Qatar/Israel, etc) bribes ISIS to get Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. Saudis already said, they'll make sure "regime" wouldnt get those cities back. Which would lead to de-facto partitioning of Syria. Kurdistan in the North, Sunnistan in the East. If Coalition of the Killing manages to extend new puppet statelets over entire Syria-Iraq border - the better. Syria and Lebanon would be even more screwed in the process, as path from Iran is cut.

And if you think Syria or Russia will attack those "moderates" or SDF who replaces ISIS (even name change will do), it wont happen. They will have embedded US special forces (other NATO countries will participate too), and Syria/Russia wont risk WW3 over it.

Posted by: Harry | Feb 24, 2017 2:49:42 AM | 71

So.. ISIS pulling back in Al Bab, Raqqa, Mosul.
Deir Ezzor, Palmyra?.. what is the importance of these two places for ISIS and their backers, apart from b's earlier posts on Deir Ezzor and the DIA document obtained by Judicial Watch?

Posted by: Peter AU | Feb 24, 2017 3:17:34 AM | 72

@ Peter AU /72

It seems Deir Ezzor is the main destination. Why? To gain more territory from Syria and bleed SAA. Then SDF comes and "liberates" it. And by liberates I mean it will be "liberated" from Syria.

Its traditional one-two punch strategy by ISIS-US, executed many times in Iraq and Syria. First come "the bad guys" and occupy the territory, then come "the good guys" and easily take that territory (for itself), sometimes without shots fired. If SDF takes Deir Ezzor, we could see replay of Qamishly.

Posted by: Harry | Feb 24, 2017 3:34:57 AM | 73

Who are this lot?

Peto Lucem Retweeted
SyrianMilitaryCap.‏@SyrianMilitary Feb 22
More
#IsisHunters newest unit in the #SAA trained & financed by #Russia , some platoons of the unit will guard the oil/gas fields.
https://twitter.com/SyrianMilitary/status/834531904875556864

Russian? Pics in the link. Enlarge pic for sleeve patch. English and Arabic? SAA wearing balaclavas?

Posted by: Peter AU | Feb 24, 2017 3:37:08 AM | 74

Speaking of Russia not really risking ww3 over Syria - Che Guavara always maintained the world communist movement was fatally weakened after Russia and Cuba backed down over the missile stationing incident in the 1960's. .

Posted by: ashley albanese | Feb 24, 2017 6:50:19 AM | 75

@75

Except it was the US that backed down...

I'm increasingly getting the impression that the USA today is pretty much like the USSR c. 1987.
Where's a Gorbachev when you need one?

Posted by: smuks | Feb 24, 2017 7:48:03 AM | 76

@47 ben, 'Saudi Arabia ‘Ready to Send Ground Troops’ to Syria. ...'

daesh and al-cia-duh are saudi's ground troops. maybe daesh is just changing clothes and joining Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham, the new! improved! al-cia-duh in syria? i note that 'isis' was 'credited' with a move down by daraa, coming in from the golan and jordan, recently. at the same time israel began its air war against hezbollah in syria. i imagine that if trump is talking to turkey and saudi arabia, he's reading the script the israelis gave him.

this war will never end until the us' arms and legs in the region - israel, ksa, and the gcc - are hurt badly enough to force them to stop. then the usa will just pressure nato and russia to fight, and japan and china. sooner, i hope, than later the us' minions will look to their own interests rather than to the interests of the imperial center. they need to be hurt to do that. hurt - with no help forthcoming from the usa. there won't be any.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 24, 2017 9:24:26 AM | 77

Temporarily Sane @50

Bingo!!! Spot on old chap, spot on. Your consolation prize? A week's paid stay at trump tower in manhattan and a free, complementary dinner with the president and the first tramp.

Posted by: Stephen Miller Band | Feb 24, 2017 9:24:56 AM | 78

smuks @77

They're skipping Gorbachev, or his contemporary American equivalent, this time around and jumping right to America's version of Yeltsin. Instead of vodka to drown their sorrows, Americans have opioids (the euphemistic name for suburban heroin addiction) & meth. Instead of breadlines, there will be potato chip and soda lines. Otherwise, a great deal of overlap from a venn diagram perspective.

Go on, take the money and run — if you're smart. Eeewwww yeah...

Posted by: Stephen Miller Band | Feb 24, 2017 9:33:46 AM | 79


"I doubt Iran, Russia and Syria will allow the USA to play with puppet Erdogan to their disadvantage. They will simply neutralize the puppet."

Posted by: virgile | Feb 23, 2017 2:38:32 PM | 20

I note this morning that RT is announcing a meeting between Putin and Erdogan.

Very interesting conversation on democracy in Athens above. I'll just add that it was in decay towards oligarchy at the time of Socrates, an ominous occurrence apparent in many of the dialogues of Plato. And the Republic,(Politeia) in particular, takes place at Cephalus' home which is located down at the Piraeus, where an innovative immigrant festival is taking place - making Jen's comment @42 particularly timely.

Perhaps at this point in time, after all the carnage of endless war hopefully begins to subside, it will be better to reflect on the question of renewal - I'd suggest Aeschylus' Oresteia - Agamemnon home from the Trojan war, Clytemnaestra Hillary-like and the Furies hunting down matricide (I'll leave their counterparts here to others) placated as Athenian democracy is born. Where we need to be, back at the beginning of things again.

It is springtime, after all. It would be nice if we could really celebrate that.

Posted by: juliania | Feb 24, 2017 9:48:34 AM | 80

@ no. 8 Ghostship

This has me wondering whether his position with respect to Saudi Arabia is a misdirection designed to keep the KSA's substantial PR effort off his back while he gears up to make the switch against them

I don't believe in eleventhy-dimensional chess.

Posted by: sleepy | Feb 24, 2017 11:06:53 AM | 81

There were two oligarchic episodes in Athens during and immediately after the Peloponnesian War, the latter, the rule of the Thirty Tyrants, imposed by Sparta after she had defeated Athens in the war. Both episodes were short, because oligarchy proved unpopular with the Athenian populace.

A leading role in restoring democracy after the second episode was played by none other than the orator Lysias, from whom I take my screen name. Lysias was a metic, the son of the wealthy Cephalus, at whose house Plato's Republic takes place.

Posted by: lysias | Feb 24, 2017 11:16:05 AM | 82

8 Trump is a noisy figurehead, there to create drama and to divert attention away the real focus.

Posted by: Heath | Feb 24, 2017 11:37:34 AM | 83

@68 stumpy.. thanks.. i see 70 or more - mostly civilians -dead from some isis type bomb in al bab.. i guess they didn't completely leave.. i have to agree strongly with harrys view @73

"Its traditional one-two punch strategy by ISIS-US, executed many times in Iraq and Syria. First come "the bad guys" and occupy the territory, then come "the good guys" and easily take that territory (for itself), sometimes without shots fired." that would be ISIS-Turkey in this example with obvious coordination from the headmasters back in saudi arabia/qatar...

Posted by: james | Feb 24, 2017 11:46:11 AM | 84

"When in late 2016 the defeat of the "Syrian rebels" proxy forces in east-Aleppo city was foreseeable the Turkish President Erdogan switched from supporting the radicals in north-west Syria to a more lenient stand towards Syria and its allies Russia and Iran."

A few itsy bitsy little details are missing here. Following the shoot-down of the Su-24, the Russian sanctions against Turkey brought its economy to its knees. Erdogan had a choice of going down with a destroyed economy or aligning with Russia to break the sanctions. This was followed by the coup in which Erdogan was personally targetted. He escaped thanks to warnings provided by the Russians. The Russians could break the Turkish economy again using the same methods if Erdogan choses to play silly buggers again. He has already weakened his military by removing the top-level leaders tied to CIA front man and extreme Islamist, Fethulen Gulen.

Posted by: Anonymous | Feb 24, 2017 11:46:56 AM | 85

@86 or Gullen is just the excuse that Erdogan used for the purge. Regardless, he has consolidated power, but is forever untrustworthy... Meanwhile USA keeps butting itself into Syria.
Trump is the republican version of Obama. Same result.. maybe far worse results, who knows

Posted by: aaaa | Feb 24, 2017 12:37:36 PM | 86

The aftermath of Al Bab 'liberation'

The Al Bab's liberation hastily claimed by the Turks is far from been over. Quite the contrary
A day after the celebration two terrorist attacks killed 60 civilians and FSA fighters and 2 Turkish soldiers. Al Bab may turn to be Erdogan's nightmare.
The Russians and the USA who helped in the aerial bombings will not offer any help on the ground. Erdogan's army and the ghost FSA fighters will be on their own to deal with bomb attacks in the city. After Erdogan's u-turn, Russia and Iran only wants Erdogan humiliated so he will be obliged to let the YPG liberate Al Raqqa and be invited in Geneva. They want him weakened and possibly out.
It is highly probable that the USA will keep using the Kurds to free Al Raqqa and will not extradite or deport Gulen.
Can Erdogan survive these humiliating developments and still win the referendum?

Posted by: virgile | Feb 24, 2017 12:59:07 PM | 87

@ 88 Don't think about it twice. Erdogan has the referendum all sewed up. He will demand then be empowered to make his undisclosed demands on the west, including NATO and Donald Trump who will whither in Erdogan's resplendence. The goal of resurgent Turkish Empire is right on course.

Posted by: Quentin | Feb 24, 2017 1:31:13 PM | 88

@88 virgile.. good comments as always...

@89 quentin... i wouldn't count on an erdogan win here.. too many loose variables at the moment and i don't see them lessening any time soon..

Posted by: james | Feb 24, 2017 1:40:45 PM | 89

What we dont hear much of is the Turkey - Iraqi Kurds dynamic. Barzani, the snake, was in Istanbul last week and is returning on Sunday apparently. He needs money, he needs support and he needs Erdogan. The latter is more than happy to support the break up of Iraq, or at the least the weakening of the government, if the northern oil fields remain under his influence thanks to Barzani. (Trump would be pleased too ...)
And an interesting twist is Barzani calling for the release of Demirtas and HDP politiciabs in Zeitung. This must be assumed to be in collusion with Erdogan who, once the referendum is won, will no longer need to imprison opposition Kurds and will seek to renew thw peace process in order to re-eatablish some kind of stability to Turkey. Barzani is preparing the ground for this turn of events, I think.
The big question remains what happens to the Kurds in syria. If there is some kind of solution forged whereby Kurdish interests are met and territorial integrity is retained, then it could be presented as a template for resolution of problems in Turkey.
What is clear is that the question of Turkey's possible partition is the biggest threat facing Turkey at the moment - from a Turkish political perspective that is - The Kurdish question is still a massive threat to Turkey.

(Out of interest, two repeated 'accusations' being levelled by Erdogan and Binali in the referendum campaign are a) 'No' voters are terrorists; b) 'No' voters want to partition Turkey. - Gives you an idea of the level of political discussion going on and the fear being spread for the sake of Erdogan's power base.)

http://www.diken.com.tr/barzaniden-baris-sureci-cagrisi-hdpli-vekiller-serbest-birakilmali/

http://www.rudaw.net/mobile/english/middleeast/turkey/24022017

Posted by: AtaBrit | Feb 24, 2017 1:55:13 PM | 90

@ virgile | 88

he will be obliged to let the YPG liberate Al Raqqa and be invited in Geneva.

I dont see anything good with Kurds landgrabing more territory from Syria. They want independence, or wide autonomy in federalised Syria. Any cities they "liberate", its almost a given they'll keep for themselves.

If they get Deir Ezzor too, they could hand over it, but not to Syria, rather to new Sunnistan statelet, as instructed by US. I really hope they dont go for it (and replay Qamishly too with expelling SAA), but I'm not liking the chances. Trump is doubling down on support of neocons and zionists Syria strategy, and we see how suddenly euphoric and hostile PGGC and Turkey got.

Text
Can Erdogan survive these humiliating developments and still win the referendum?

His government is counting the votes, do you really think he wouldnt stoop to faking results if he needs to? He has done far worse things.

Posted by: Harry | Feb 24, 2017 1:59:59 PM | 91

Heath @ 84 said: "8 Trump is a noisy figurehead, there to create drama and to divert attention away the real focus."

I'm increasingly thinking that statement is correct. Wait till' Mr. Trump's band of merry men/women start on domestic policy.

Posted by: ben | Feb 24, 2017 2:50:07 PM | 92

@virgile | 88
"Can Erdogan survive these humiliating developments?"

He has complete control of the media narrative. There is no other voice. Of course there will be no perception of 'humiliation'; there is and will continue to be the continued perception of existential threats to Turkey both internally and externally and Erdogan presents himself as the only one who can possibly save the country!
Vote against him and you are a terrorist, traitor, someone who seeks to partition the country!
If not completely suckered in by such language people are terrified of AKP supporters - they are well armed and they have a history of 'sanctioned' violence.

Posted by: AtaBrit | Feb 24, 2017 3:12:16 PM | 93

Lysias @ 83:

Your comment about your hero basically underlines the implications of what I said earlier at #42 which are that in Athenian society the political status of slaves, ex-slaves and metics in most day-to-day personal and occupational activities did not matter. In issues of politics and political decision-making, the individual's status did make a difference because if he wasn't a citizen, he could not vote on issues like allocating city funds to improving the navy or splashing them on a new temple.

Even then, the size of the communities of slaves, ex-slaves and metics, and their respective functions in keeping Athens going (slaves and ex-slaves engaged in craft and artisan work, metics engaged in commerce and education: both groups equivalent to working class and middle class respectively), relative to the size of the community of citizens, would have acted as a brake on political decision-making in Athens.

Athenian democracy is starting to look more like British democracy as it was practised during the 1800s when a voter needed to be a property owner before he could vote.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 24, 2017 3:32:11 PM | 94

@jfl 78

The Israelis are too smart to get themselves into trouble and 'hurt' badly. They realize that the tide is turning and they'll need another protector. Given their unique capabilities of controlling the region, plus the chance of building a natgas pipeline to Europe, finding one shouldn't be difficult. Whoever needs a reliable transport corridor will come knocking.

The GCC, I wouldn't be too sure. Only thing is, we can't want KSA to disintegrate, it'll be crazy jihadis with modern weapons running amok all over the place. Let's rather find a new arrangement.

@Stephen Miller 80

You may be right. In a way, the US had their Afghanistan quagmire under GWB, so Obama was their Gorbachev. Except he was too timid and didn't really succeed...they've got their Yeltsin now, selling the country to the highest bidder while the population falls ever deeper into misery.
So are we waiting for a 1998 moment, and then suddenly an American Putin rises to rebuild the country from scrap?

History doesn't repeat, and the rhymes tend to be crappy.

Posted by: smuks | Feb 24, 2017 3:44:43 PM | 95

@virgile 88

Turkey's army is huge, securing Al-Bab won't be a problem even with VBIEDs and stuff.
I'm sure Moscow and Tehran are no big fans of Erdogan, but what would be the alternative? Any other government in Ankara would probably be more pro-western, whether military or civilian.

Posted by: smuks | Feb 24, 2017 3:57:12 PM | 96

Don't know if I said this before. It really looks to me that Trump's main strategy is to contrive "trump cards". We can be fairly sure that he is not very interested in the Crimea situation, but he is using it as a bargaining chip in dealing with Russian affairs. He probably has no real interest in China's artificial islands, but he certainly needs to use them in negotiating the "balance of payments", etc. He is always seeking trump cards, no mater how spurious, since he knows down the line he will have to drive hard bargains. Not that he is about to become some "great president". I just see this as his style. After all he did write "The Art of the Deal".

Posted by: blues | Feb 24, 2017 4:09:21 PM | 97

What Athenian democracy was like was the Herrenvolk democracy of states like Alabama in the antebellum South, in which slaves and free blacks did not have political rights, but in which all whites, however poor and whether or not they owned slaves, had political rights and, through their votes, political power. The ideology was very egalitarian, unlike such states as Virginia or South Carolina, where rich aristocracies ruled, whoever had the vote. 19th century Britain was more like Virginia and South Carolina.

If Athens could survive and prosper while giving political power to the equivalent of the poor whites of the antebellum South, Western so-called democracies can survive if they give political power to all adult citizens in the way that Athens gave them to adult male citizens. And that is the way to defeat Michels's Iron Law of Oligarchy, under which, whatever the ostensible political system, the real power is in fact in the hands of an oligarchy.

Posted by: lysias | Feb 24, 2017 4:29:45 PM | 98

Actually, the only way democracy can ever possibly work is if the strategic hedge/ simple score voting method is used. So-called "political scientists" have always invited us to use anything other than that.

Posted by: blues | Feb 24, 2017 4:51:49 PM | 99

Outraged 54
Yes, this bit of truth sneaks out here and there but not to the MSM and not in any capacity to enrage the US public. Instead the MSM and US Govt (State) get the official story via your post 63. Mix this with a lot of infotainment at high speeds and most in the US either have no idea or are confused and brainwashed. One thing I thought about during my walk today was that Saudi Arabia has always been a terrorist proxy group going back to its inception via their attacks on the Ottomans to establish their independence. That we use them elsewhere like Afghanistan in 80s or more recently against Libya/Syria should be no surprise. It's easier than throwing our own troops at the situations.
Outraged 58
I've heard of but not seen Cats. The second I read McCavity I recalled Logan's Run and the Ustinov old man character talking about cats and (I guess) TS Eliot.

Posted by: Curtis | Feb 24, 2017 4:52:08 PM | 100

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