Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 07, 2016

"Destroyed" And "Collapsed" Al-Quds Hospital In East-Aleppo Receives 46 Patients

Airstrike destroys Syrian hospital amid fears of ‘catastrophic’ turn in fighting, Washington Post, April 28 2016

An onslaught of airstrikes in rebel-held areas of the Syrian city of Aleppo has killed scores and destroyed a hospital supported by international aid groups, activists and humanitarian workers said Thursday, prompting the United Nations to warn of a “catastrophic deterioration” that could intensify an already dire humanitarian crisis.
...
Airstrikes Wednesday night collapsed a hospital supported by ...
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[..] it was the hospital raid late Wednesday that was likely to have the most devastating humanitarian impact, U.N. and other aid officials said.

Al-Quds hospital in Aleppo’s al-Sukkari neighborhood had an emergency room, an intensive-care unit and eight doctors and 28 nurses on staff, Doctors Without Borders said. It was “well known locally,” the organization said on its Twitter account Thursday.

At least 14 patients and medical staffers — including three doctors — were killed when the hospital was hit by a “direct” strike, the aid group said. One of the doctors was Mohammed Waseem Maaz, Aleppo’s last pediatrician, activists said. Another was a dentist.

Chlorine attack deepens fears among besieged Aleppo residents, Washington Post, September 8 2016

The Syrian government dropped a bomb containing chlorine on a besieged neighborhood in the city of Aleppo on Tuesday, heightening fears among people who are cut off from the outside world and unable to escape, according to residents and hospitals in the area.
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A statement from the al-Quds hospital, which received 46 of the patients, said that all were suffering from breathing difficulties and that “a strong smell of chlorine emanated from their clothes.”

So the "destroyed" and "collapsed" Al-Quds hospital in east-Aleppo has been rebuild during intense fighting in the area? And it is big enough to take 46 patients? It is also very well equipped? A picture in Washington Post shows a youngster in the "Al-Quds hospital" with a breathing mask. Next to him are five electronic infusion pumps. More expensive medical electronic equipment is visible in the background. This, supposedly, in an area that is besieged, has no electricity, is under constant bombing and with no access to the outer world?

Also: Isn't it astonishing that the Syrian government always launches these "chlorine attacks" shortly after the "rebels" suffered a military defeat? Or are these attacks, claimed only by the "rebels", a propaganda diversion from their military defeats?

(Note also this oddity: Months after "Aleppo’s last pediatrician" was killed, as claimed in the first piece above, six (killed?) pediatricians from east-Aleppo signed a letter to U.S. president Obama.)

The "White Helmets", on whose reports both the above WaPo pieces are based, received $60 million from the U.S., UK and other governments for their public relations work. For such high expenses we taxpayers should demand more consistent propaganda.

Or should we demand that news organization, for which we as consumers also pay, hire writers who are competent and of integrity. Real journalists who debunk, instead of promote, obvious bullshit like those "Al-Quds hospital" fairy tales above.

Posted by b at 05:56 AM | Comments (37)

September 05, 2016

Syria - Who Wins In The Turkish-Russian Deal?

Two headlines today support the claim that "western" media reporting often defies the observable reality.

Isis has lost control of its last territories on the border with Turkey, monitoring groups say, in a major blow to the group's ability to receive foreign fighters from the rest of the world.

Neither is ISIS cut of from the world, nor from NATO. Fighters as well as goods can still cross to and from Turkey like they did throughout the last years.

Just take a look at the map:

bigger

The Turkish-Syrian border between Azaz, Al-Ra'i and Jarablus, with ISIS (grey) on the southern side, was always open for traffic between the two areas. Now the Turkish army and Turkish proxy forces of "moderate rebels" moved into the green strip of land on the Syrian side. This did not seal or close the border, as other countries had demanded. It simply moved the border south. Crossing between the ISIS held area and the Turkish controlled area will now be easier because media will have no access to the area. Deals will be made out of sight and money will flow as well as traffic.

There was no fighting at all about the strip between ISIS and the Turkish forces. The Turks told ISIS to move south and it did so before the Turks and its mercenaries moved in. There was not even one Turkish casualty from fighting ISIS over the area. The change of the territorial borderline was obviously done in mutual agreement.

It is ridiculous that some media try to sell that as a closing of the border or as a cut off. It is the opposite.

Turkey's main intention with this move was to prevent a connection of the (yellow) Kurdish areas in the east and the west. Such a Kurdish controlled connecting strip along the border would indeed have sealed it. ISIS traffic would not have been allowed to pass Kurdish checkpoints.

Turkey will probably try to annex the area it has taken. There are plans to build new cities on the Syrian side to house refugees currently in Turkish camps. Turkey could thereby offload a major burden its war on Syria has brought onto it.

Russia and Iran had agreed to the Turkish move into the area after Turkey promised to end its support for attacks on Aleppo city. It has yet to be seen if Turkey will stick to this promise. Some of the Turkish proxy fighters involved in the attack on Aleppo were pulled back and moved to the now occupied border strip. But material support for the attack in form of ammunition and other supplies seems to continue.

Two decent analyst argue that the agreement, while not entirely preferred, is still in Russia's and Syria's advantage.

Elijah Magnier says (Arabic) (English, unedited) that Russian policy in Syria is like a Matryoshka doll with one item placed inside the other. The most elaborate of these dolls has 50 levels of nesting with a total of 51 dolls. Says Magnier:

Cont. reading: Syria - Who Wins In The Turkish-Russian Deal?

Posted by b at 12:45 PM | Comments (122)

September 04, 2016

Syria - U.S.-Russian Deal Fails (Again) Over Continued Support For Jihadis

Since the February ceasefire in Syria, which was broken by U.S. supported Jihadis, Russia tried to press the U.S. into fulfilling the UN Security Council resolution 2254. The resolution signs off on the ceasefire but demands that all nations continue to fight the Islamic State and al-Qaeda.

But the U.S. continued to support al-Qaeda and its various front group in Syria like Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al-Aqsa. "Moderate rebels" were armed with modern weapons by the U.S. and trained in camps in Turkey and Jordan. They were sent to Syria to integrated with al-Qaeda and made it impossible to fight one group without hitting the other. The U.S. used this ploy to protect al-Qaeda from Russian and Syrian attacks. Such attacks, it claimed, would break the ceasefire as they would also hit its "moderate rebels".

To gain some negotiating advantage Russia and its Syrian allies closed all access to east-Aleppo which is held by Jihadis. The U.S. sponsored rebels and al-Qaeda responded with an attack in south Aleppo which then broke the new established siege.

But that move was a hail-Mary pass. "Rebels" from all fronts were pulled together to support the attack. MANPADs were delivered to deny Russia the use of attack helicopters. With the help of an al-Qaeda mass suicide attack the "rebels" took the artillery college and adjacent areas in south Aleppo and managed to open a corridor into east-Aleppo. This was a serious set back for the Russian plans.

The response was constant bombing of the hinterlands of the "rebel" held parts of Aleppo and Idleb governate which made any supply of their front difficult. The Russian and Syrian air forces destroyed the "rebel's" infrastructure, supply sites and their command and control elements. This took some time to show the inevitable effect. But today the Syrian army and its allies reconquered the artillery college and the Jihadi path into east-Aleppo is again closed.


Map by Peto Lucem - bigger

It is likely that the now failed plan of lifting the siege on east-Aleppo was so costly, with over a 1,000 rebels dead, that a repeat of any such attack is no longer possible.

But the Russian pressure to commonly fight al-Qaeda has still not resulted in an agreement. Late in June some hawks in the U.S. administration leaked "conditions" under which the U.S. would agree to Russia's demands. Those conditions were ridiculous. The Syrian government would have to ground its airforce and would have to stop fighting its immediate enemies while Russia would only be allowed to targets the U.S. agreed to. The negotiations had only one purpose:

Cont. reading: Syria - U.S.-Russian Deal Fails (Again) Over Continued Support For Jihadis

Posted by b at 11:47 AM | Comments (92)

September 02, 2016

CIA "Journalist" Spy With Al-Qaeda Arrested In Turkey - Media Acquiesce - Endanger Real Journos

On August 9 we reported here on a U.S. spy, Lindsey Snell, who worked with Jabhat al-Nusra in Syria and was arrested when crossing the border from Syria into Turkey:

The Turkish military recently "rescued" a CIA spy who was wounded in the north Latakia region of Syria. The U.S. send helicopters to help its asset. The spy turned out to be journalist Lindsey Snell working on a report with Nusra for the intelligence outfit Vocativ. She was put into Turkish jail for illegally crossing the border.

There is no doubt from the available information that Snell was a spy. The Turkish media call her such. She was with Nusra, not for the first time, had some trouble and needed to get out. The U.S. military launched a huge operation to help her. That is not the treatment a real journalist would get.

Three weeks after our report some professional journalist finally picked up on the story and asked during the U.S. State Department briefing:

QUESTION: Do you have any information about a U.S. citizen who was arrested in Turkey?

MR KIRBY: Who was arrested in Turkey? Yes. I can confirm that U.S. citizen Lindsey Snell was detained in Turkey on the 7th of August, 2016. She is currently being held in a prison facility in Hatay Province. I believe that’s how you say it. Consular officers from the consulate in Adana visited Ms. Snell most recently on the 26th of this month and are providing all possible consular assistance. The embassy and the department are following this case closely. State Department officials have been in contact with Turkish Government officials regarding this case.
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QUESTION: [...] was the arrest at all related to her profession as a journalist or in any case – any way associated with that?

MR KIRBY: What I – what we understand is that she has been charged with violating a military zone, but I can’t speak to her reasons for being in Syria, for traveling there. I can’t speak to that. What I can tell you is that we’ve been informed she was charged with violating a military zone.

The State Department "can't speak of" what Snell did in Syria - twice. Why? Is that secret? Note that Kirby does not even call that "U.S. citizen" a "journalist", even while his keyword provider calls her such.

Despite the reluctance of the State Department to call Snell a journalist the main stream "western" media, picking up from the State briefing, now calls her such and does not mention that Snell is obviously a spy. The BBC, CBS and NBC have reports of the issue. But none of those reports touches on the very weird circumstance of Lindsey Snell's "rescue" and "arrest". None of them will tell you you that she was a spy.

NBC goes the furthest by digging up another State source and quoting the Hatay regional governor:

Cont. reading: CIA "Journalist" Spy With Al-Qaeda Arrested In Turkey - Media Acquiesce - Endanger Real Journos

Posted by b at 01:47 PM | Comments (78)

August 31, 2016

A Deal Over Syria That Left The U.S. Out

Thanks to all for the good discussion of Mark Sleboda's post here. His central thesis: the recent Turkish invasion of Syria was against Russian interests, Russia basically left Syria hanging and lost out in the NATO war on the country.

But my sources told me of behind-the-scenes agreements that went against the U.S. orders and plans. All relevant news published recently also points to a different story. Turkey has aligned with Russia and Iran and some, may be temporary, agreement was found with regards to the conflict in Syria. The U.S. was lost in the chaos that followed when two of the U.S. proxy forces, Syrian Kurds and Turkish led "moderate rebel" Jihadists, fought each other around Jarablus.

My own doubts about what was really happening were expressed three weeks when I asked: Who Now Leads The War On Syria - The CIA Or Turkey?. Its conclusion:

It could be that Turkish-U.S. cooperation on Syria, despite the coup-attempt in Turkey, is still excellent. That would imply that major conflicts playing out in the spy world and in the media are orchestrated fakes to confuse Syria and its allies.

But these conflicts may also point to real fighting behind the scenes. Fighting about who will be stuck with the tar-babies al-Qaeda in Syria and other "rebels" are likely to become.

Since then the fog has lifted a bit. There is a real conflict between the U.S. and Turkey. Turkey indeed moved on a plan that Russia, Iran and Syria had agreed with. The U.S was caught off guard. The real tar-baby for the U.S. turned out to be the Syrian Kurds, who in their utter hubris and pushed by the U.S., overextended their possibilities and alienating everyone around them. The U.S. had counted on their fighting prowess to clean Raqqa and to rule over east and central Syria but that dream is now over. The U.S. was eventually forced to side with its NATO ally Turkey to prevent it from moving even further towards Russia. The Kurds lost some 400 men in fighting for Manbij only to be told to move out again - without any gain. They will not give one man to conquer Raqqa.

Three recent reports now add to the discussion. The first by Genevieve Casagrande a "Syria analyst" of the neocon Institute for the Study of War:

Turkey’s intervention in Jarablus is a turning point in American-Turkish relations and the war against ISIS. Erdogan’s willingness to commit military force to the anti-ISIS fight fulfils longstanding American demands for Turkey to increase its contribution to the anti-ISIS mission. The recapture of Jarablus and ongoing operations to clear remaining ISIS-held portions of the border west of Jarablus have set the desired conditions for an offensive to retake Raqqa city by eliminating ISIS’s final supply line from Turkey.

That view somewhat agrees with Mark in that this move is seen as to the advantage of the U.S.  But it is devoid of reality. No one will touch Raqqa now as all U.S. plans towards that were based on Kurdish cooperation. The U.S. is currently outside of the game frame and without control over any of the actors. It has no canon fodder left it could push towards any attack.  Also - moving Turkish soldiers and influence down south and deeper into ISIS land does not cut ISIS's supply lines to Turkey. It just shortens the run to the virtual border crossing ISIS couriers will have to take. There was and is no need for Turkey to invade Syria at all if the aim were to shut down its border to prevent traffic to and from ISIS crossing it.

The "analyst" is in her early to mid twenties, has a BA in English, partied in Dubai and Jordan to learn a bit of Arabic and sorted Youtube videos from Syria for various U.S. foundation. A "Syria analyst" with little relevant knowledge and no experience but trained enough to avoid any critical thought while writing down whatever neocon nonsense she is told. One must disregard any piece that positively quotes her. Was she hired to look good on TV or to amuse the various buffoons of the Kagan clan?

Two news reports by real analysts and reporters who walk the grounds about which they write give some clearer idea of what is really happening. Mohammad Ballout writes for Lebanon's Assafir newspaper. His latest as translated by Yalla La Barra:

The Syrians and the Turks are on the verge of a security understanding that will lead to a political one. The indications of this unprecedented understanding are not yet clear. But its first headline, without any surprises, is a trade off: the Turks backing off in Aleppo and closing the crossings used by some of the armed groups (the most important ones) in the north in exchange for the Turkish forces to be given the freedom to destroy the Kurdish project in Syria. In other words, the city of Aleppo goes to Syria and the corpse of the Kurdish project in Syria goes to the Turks.
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It can be said that the Turks have taken a first step to separate the moderate opposition from the extremist groups. Turkey’s recent diversion of thousands of fighters from the fronts of Aleppo and Idlib represents a Turkish initiative to separate the factions it directly mentors from the extremist groups who coordinate their operations.

There are doubts though that the Turks can complete escape from the U.S./NATO frame:

It’s likely that this deal will face questions about the American role, and Turkey’s ability to advance it’s understanding and coordination with the Russians, Iranians and Syrians – namely, the resistance axis – without US approval is unlikely. The ability of Erdogan to shift from Turkey’s traditional/historical position against the resistance axis, and rebel against Washington is questionable.
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Until now, real indicators of a change in the Turkish position on the ground still need a lot of time, especially in Aleppo. However, there are indications that the Americans are feeling uncomfortable about the Turkish-Iranian-Russian rapprochement and have instructed their agencies to stop providing the Turks with military/security information in Syria.

Turkey does not depend on U.S. intelligence in Syria. It surely has better sources and connections than the CIA or anyone else but the Syrians themselves. I see little, if any, ability left with Washington to tell Erdogan what to do or not to do. There are also significant measures Russia, Iran and Syria can take to penalize Turkey (or the Saudis) should Erdogan try to deviate from the deal. A few new weapons in the hands of the PKK (or Houthis) could cost Turkey (Saudi Arabia) more than they are able to gain in Syria.

Elijah J. Magnier reports for the Kuwait AlRai on the deal with some special insight on the Russian role:

During their meeting in St. Petersburg and following consecutive reunions later, plus an exchange of visits by high-ranking military officials, Russia and Turkey agreed on the role the Turkish forces could be offered in Syria, within specific parameters that will serve both sides interest, as long as there are limits and guarantees offered by both parties.
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Russia has accepted a Turkish incursion into Syrian territory due to the Kurds’ declared hostility to the government in Damascus when YPG forces attacked and expelled the Syrian army from al-Hasakah city to the suburbs, with US backing, – a clear intention to initiate the partition of Syria. Russia stands against a Kurdish state ruled by the US in the new Kremlin Mediterranean base, Syria.
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Turkey expressed its willingness to collaborate and instruct many rebel groups under its direct influence, to reject unification, avoid the merger proposed by Nusra, and keep its distance from the Jihadists, mainly in the northern city of Aleppo. [...] Turkey agreed to avoid any contact or clash with the Syrian army, mainly around Aleppo, in support of the Syrian rebels and jihadists.
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Russia made it clear to Turkey that it will not tolerate any infringement of the agreement or any clash with the Syrian Army drawing clear redlines, and threatening that its Air Force will hit the Turkish forces and its proxies in case of any similar violation.

All these talks were not just between Turkey and Syria (in Algeria) or between Moscow and Ankara. There was a wide framework discussed between all relevant forces - Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia, Turkey and others and only the U.S. (it seems) was left out. I do not see this as a loss for Russia - not at all. The Syrian government was barely alive when Russia intervened just 10 month ago. It has now regained a lot of its land and capabilities. The U.S. and Israeli plans for a divided Syria have been warded. The strategic landscape has been changed. That's a lot of progress in a quite short time.

Surely Syria would like to be in a better situation, but its resources are limited and neither Russia nor Iran are willing to go all-in (and risk attacks on their homelands) to recover the last corners of the country. The deal with Turkey will prevent control of the U.S. over significant parts of Syria and the federalization of the country the neocons promote.

The Obama administration is unlikely to implement any new big plan with which it could regain the initiative. It will kick the can down the road and leave the problem to the next president. Meanwhile ISIS will stay alive but will, devoid of resources, continue to deteriorate. That apple will either fall down on its own or be an easy pick for a later time:

Decisional sources told me “Damascus and its allies are not willing to lose one single man to regain control of Raqqah. If the US wants with all its proxies, the Kurds or even Turkey to knock at the gate of Raqqah, they are most welcome to do so. Aleppo, mid Syria and its north are far more important than sending forces to be drained against ISIS that is just waiting to show a last show of strength before being whipped.

Posted by b at 11:25 AM | Comments (147)

August 30, 2016

Open Thread 2016-29

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:35 PM | Comments (269)

August 29, 2016

NYT Laments Of Allegedly False Russian News Stories - With A False U.S. News Story

The New York Times is desperate for new readers and therefore tries to branch into the realm of The Onion and other satirical sites. It attempts to show that allegedly Russia controlled media spread false stories for political purpose - by providing a false media story. The purpose of the NYT doing such is yours to guess.

The sourcing of that Page 1 story is as weak as its content. It starts with claiming that opponents of Sweden joining NATO must be somehow Russia related and are spreading false stories:

As often happens in such cases, Swedish officials were never able to pin down the source of the false reports.

Duh! But it must have been Russia. Because Swedish internal opposition to joining NATO would be incapable of opining against it. Right? Likewise anti-EU reports and opposition to the EU within the Czech Republic MUST be caused by Russian disinformation and can in now way be related to mismanagement of the EU project itself.

The sourcing for the whole long pamphlet is extremely weak:

But they, numerous analysts and experts in American and European intelligence point to Russia as the prime suspect, noting that preventing NATO expansion is a centerpiece of the foreign policy of President Vladimir V. Putin, who invaded Georgia in 2008 largely to forestall that possibility.

Whoa! "Experts in American and European intelligence" can of course be trusted not to ever spread false stories or rumors about Russia influencing "news". Such truth tellers they are and have always been.

Then follows, in a claim about false stories(!) spread by Russia, that factually false claim that Russia "invaded Georgia in 2008". It was obvious in the very first hours of the Georgia war, as we then noted, that Georgia started it. A European Union commission later confirmed that it was Georgia, incited by the Bush government, that started the war. The NYT itself found the same. All Russia did was to protect the areas of South Ossetia and Abchazia that it was officially designated to protect by the United Nations! No invasion of Georgia took place.

And what was the alleged reason that Russia "invaded" Georgia for? "Largely to forestall".."NATO expansion"? But it was NATO that rejected Georgia's membership in April 2008. Why then would Russia "invade" Georgia in August 2008 to prevent a membership that was surely not gonna happen?

Utter a-historic nonsense.

The who tale, written by Neil MacFarquhar, is a long list of hearsay where Russia is claimed to have influenced news but without ever showing any evidence.

Not mentioned in the story are:

  • the systematic, extensive U.S government slanting of news through the Broadcasting Board of Governors and Voice of America and RFE/RL as well as through dozens of U.S. military financed "news" sites and social media fakes
  • the extensive cooperation between the New York Times and the CIA with spying as well as with manipulating foreign news
  • the acknowledged spreading of false stories about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq an behalf of the Bush administration by the NY Times itself.

As Carl Bernstein described in his book about the CIA and the media:

Among the executives who lent their cooperation to the [Central Intelligence] Agency were Williarn Paley of the Columbia Broadcasting System, Henry Luce of Tirne Inc., Arthur Hays Sulzberger of the New York Times, Barry Bingham Sr. of the LouisviIle Courier‑Journal, and James Copley of the Copley News Service. Other organizations which cooperated with the CIA include the American Broadcasting Company, the National Broadcasting Company, the Associated Press, United Press International, Reuters, Hearst Newspapers, Scripps‑Howard, Newsweek magazine, the Mutual Broadcasting System, the Miami Herald and the old Saturday Evening Post and New York Herald‑Tribune.

By far the most valuable of these associations, according to CIA officials, have been with the New York Times, CBS and Time Inc.

Bernstein shows that the NYT cooperation with the U.S. government and its intelligence agencies was very extensive and continues uninterrupted up to today.

To lament about alleged Russian influence on some news outlets while writing a disinformation filled piece, based on "experts in American and European intelligence", for an outlet with proven CIA cooperation in faking news, is way beyond hypocrisy.

Through this piece the NYT becomes its own parody. Did the author and editors recognize that? Or are they too self-unconscious for even such simple insight?

Posted by b at 11:04 AM | Comments (67)

August 28, 2016

The Turkish Invasion Of Syria As Path To "Regime Change"

by Mark Sleboda
(via facebook)

The US-backed Turkish invasion of Syria with its proxies in tow now moves further into Syria to seize Al-Bab in a landgrab to create Erdogan's (and the U.S. neocon Brookings Institute's) long desired jihadi "safe haven"/"no fly zone" for al-Qaeda & friends to operate and stage from with impunity from Russian and Syrian airstrikes.


Map by Peto Lucem - bigger

Al-Bab is a "backdoor" on key routes south to Aleppo from the Turkish border.

Turkish supplies for the Islamic Army of Conquest offensives in South Aleppo and Latakia: arms, ammo, supplies, even artillery, tanks have been reported as flowing like water over the Turkish border

Turkey is obviously not coordinating its incursion with the Syrian government which condemns it as a violation of its sovereignty. The Kremlin's impotent calls for Turkey to coordinate with Damascus while waving the old Geneva communique have been completely ignored. Unfortunately there is little they can do at this point without engaging in a full scale war with Turkey and the U.S. in Syria. Something the Kremlin lacks the will to do. Turkey/U.S. intend that their proxies take Aleppo as leverage in settlement negotiations to force Assad to step down, or partition if that fails.

Both the Turkish and FSA flags, (not the Syrian flag), were raised over "liberated" Jarablus

Securing the Jarablus corridor from a westward YPG advance in attempts to link their "cantons" east and west along the Turkish border prevents supply lines to "Syrian rebels" from Turkey from being cut. That's why Turkey has taken action here while however grudgingly accepting Kurdish control over large stretches of Syrian-Turkish border everywhere else without taking action. The ratlines to the "rebels" are Turkey's primary concern here. Kurds are an important but demonstratively second concern.

Turkey's incursion was backed by US air-cover, drones, and embedded special forces per the WSJ. These were there largely to prevent Russia and Syria from even thinking about taking action against the invading forces.

Turkey is moving into Syria not just with its own military, but with thousands of "rebel opposition groups" including US-backed FSA brigades allied with AlQaeda/Nusra/Sham and the child head-chopping al-Zinki who are reported to form the vanguard. Syrian territory is outright being turned over to them by the Turkish military, simply exchanging control from one group of terrorist jihadis (ISIS) to others who are more media acceptable and more direct proxies of the Erdogan regime, the U.S., Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

That said, ISIS has not resisted the Turkish advance at all - simply "melting away" (or exchanging one set of uniforms for another?). No stay-behinds, no suicide bombers, no IEDS, nothing. No fighting. Zero casualties. Turkish and "Syrian rebel" forces literally strolled in to Jarablus taking selfies and posing for cameras. Tag-team turnover.

The Kurdish YPG/SDF have proven that they have become nothing but lickspittle currs for the U.S., despite being betrayed, dutifully responding to the leash and withdrawing from Manbij which they bled for, and all positions east of the Euphrates on Biden's orders as he staged a press conference in Ankara with Erdogan. They have served their part in providing another layer of pretext for Turkey to invade Syria.

Layers of Pretext for Turkish invasion of Syria:

Cont. reading: The Turkish Invasion Of Syria As Path To "Regime Change"

Posted by b at 01:25 PM | Comments (188)

German Pro-Atlantic Paper Admits: Ghouta Sarin Attack Committed By Al-Qaeda

The German paper Die Welt is staunchly pro-NATO and pro-U.S. It always follows the official, conservative propaganda lines up to the dot on the last i. But in today's Sunday edition one of its well-connected journalists and department head argues for a change of direction on Syria. Assad is not going to go away and "the west" needs to accept that to prevent a Salafist take-over of that country.

Buried in the German language piece is this version of events of the 2013 Sarin attack in Ghouta and the "lack of response" by the Obama administration (my translation):

When on August 21 2013 the nerve gas Sarin was used in Ghouta, a suburb of Damascus, [Obama] had to make a decision. He ordered to prepare an attack by sea-launched cruise missiles. But the British secret service was in possession of a sampling of the used Sarin. An analysis showed it not to be Sarin from the Syrian regime, but from the inventory of al-Nusra. Obama dropped his plan.

There are several problems with this line of events. The British parliament had rejected an attack on Syria. The U.S. congress refused to authorize one. If Obama would have attacked, the Republicans would have, without doubt, started impeachment procedures against him. The domestic policy implications, not the origin of the Sarin,  stopped Obama's attack plans.

The explanation of Die Welt reporter, that al-Nusra Sarin's was different from Syrian government Sarin, is also dubious. According to a recent extensive report based on interviews with an al-Qaeda aligned "rebel" in Syria, al-Qaeda acquired the Sarin from a storage facility of the Syrian regime when it conquered the Syrian base of Regiment 111 in late 2012. This was before the split of al-Nusra and the Islamic State. There would thus be no difference between "regime Sarin" and "al-Qaeda Sarin".

But even completely independent of the origin of the Sarin, U.S. missile experts had long concluded that the missiles which carried the Sarin in the attack could not have been fired from government held areas. Their range was simply too short. Thus the event must have been a false flag attack.

Nonetheless, the German newspaper analysis is a sign that the tide has turned and that the official "regime change" storm is calming down. The dismantling of a major official propaganda item, like the Sarin attack, points to the introduction of a new narrative. How that will develop further is yet to be seen.

Posted by b at 04:39 AM | Comments (103)

August 26, 2016

The Childish Villain-ification Of Donald Trump

This pic comparing a young Donald Trump with a child figure in some old Nazi propaganda was posted by Doug Saunders, supposedly a serious international-affairs columnist at the Canadian Globe and Mail.

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It is illogical, childish nonsense. But Saunders is by far the only one disqualifying himself as serious commentator by posting such bullshit. Indeed, the villain-ification of Donald Trump is a regular feature which runs through U.S. and international media from the left to the right.

A few examples:

Pinochet. Chavez. Trump? - Politico, Cher compares Donald Trump to Hitler at Clinton fundraiser - Foxnews, Cher Slams Trump At Clinton Fundraiser; Likens Him To Stalin - CBS, Cher Compares Trump to Mao - Newsbuster, Trump is the GOP's Frankenstein monster - Washington Post, Biden on Trump: ‘He woulda loved Stalin - USAToday, Huffington likens Trump to Kim Jong Un - MSN, What Hugo Chávez and Donald Trump have in common - Reuters, The best way to thwart Trump Vader - CNN, Warning From the Syrian Border: Trump Reminds Us a Bit Too Much of Assad - Rolling Stone, News Quiz: Trump Rally or Erdogan Event? - The Intercept, Trump & Putin. Yes, It's Really a Thing - TPM, Trump’s not Hitler, he’s Mussolini - Salon, Media ethics writer compares Trump to Hitler - Politico, Donald Trump’s Insane Praise of Saddam Hussein - Daily Beast, Trump and Lenin - Miami Herald, Insult, provoke, repeat: how Donald Trump became America's Hugo Chávez - The Guardian, The Unstoppable Trump Monster - The Atlantic, Donald Trump is GOP's Dark Lord Voldemort - Townhall, Donald Trump is The Joker: Forget Mussolini and Hitler - Salon, Donald Trump’s Mansions and Saddam Hussein’s Palaces Are Basically the Same - Vanity Fair, Trump and Baghdadi Join Forces - Huffington Post, Echoes of Joe McCarthy in Donald Trump's Rise - RealClearPolitics, Donald Trump's bromance with Vladimir Putin - CNN, Trump's flirtation with fascism - Washington Post, The Maoism of Donald Trump - The New Yorker.

Is there any villain in U.S. (political) culture Donald Trump has not been compare to? Let me know what to search for.

Cont. reading: The Childish Villain-ification Of Donald Trump

Posted by b at 11:10 AM | Comments (135)

August 25, 2016

Open Thread 2016-28

News & views ...

Posted by b at 03:03 PM | Comments (110)

A Phony War On ISIS

Soldiers of the Turkish Land Forces engaged in intense firefights when entering Syria to dislodge the Islamic State from the border city of Jarablus. (Not.)

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The Turkish HDP parliament member Hişyar Özsoy claims (vid) that the Turkish operation is to save ISIS from the Syrian Kurds, not to liberate Syria of ISIS or to secure the Turkish-Syrian border. There is some logic in that.

Posted by b at 05:53 AM | Comments (112)

August 24, 2016

Kurds Lose Out As Neo-Ottoman Turks Steal Syria's Jarablus

Early this morning Turkey invaded Syria. A contingent of 1,500 Turkish sponsored "Syrian rebels", aka Islamist from all over the world, were accompanied by some Turkish special forces and twenty tanks to capture the city Jarablus at the Turkish-Syrian border. The move followed a night of artillery warm-ups and bombing raids. Shortly after noon the "Syrian revolution" flag and the Turkish banner(!) were raised over the city.

There was no resistance to the move. The Islamic State, which had been informed of the attack, had evacuated all fighters and their families out of Jarablus. (The families went to Raqqa but the fighters went where?) No shots were fired. As one commentator remarked: They even left mints on the pillows. The toleration of ISIS by Turkey, which includes some not so secret support, will likely continue.

 


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The claimed aim of the Turkish move is to close the Turkish border to ISIS. That claim is obviously nonsense. The border can be closed on the Turkish side. To move the crossing point a few kilometers south does not change anything. The second, more plausible claimed aim, is to prevent the movement of the Kurdish YPG forces, under the U.S. assigned label SDF, towards west-Syria. Such a move would create a Kurdish statelet all along the Turkish border and endanger Turkey itself while it is fighting a Kurdish insurgency on its own ground.

The Kurds had announced the move west and recently taken the city of Manbij away from the Islamic State. This with the help of heavy U.S. bombardment. As part of their future plans a new SDF-Jarablus Military Council was announced yesterday. But the head of that entity was assassinated just three hours after the introductory press conference. The Kurds blamed the Turks for the killing. Today the Turkish government announced that it will not only take Jarablus but also Manbij and throw the Kurds back east behind the Euphrates river.

Cont. reading: Kurds Lose Out As Neo-Ottoman Turks Steal Syria's Jarablus

Posted by b at 12:45 PM | Comments (109)

August 23, 2016

NYT Again Misreports On Iran - Claims Conflict With Russia Without Any Source

This NYT piece on Russia and Iran lacks any source for the main claim made in its headline and repeated in its first paragraph:

Iran Revokes Russia’s Use of Air Base, Saying Moscow ‘Betrayed Trust’

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Iran on Monday annulled permission for Russian planes to fly bombing runs into Syria from an Iranian base, only a week after having granted such extraordinary access, saying that the Kremlin had been unacceptably public and arrogant about the privilege.
...
Iran’s minister of defense, Brig. Gen. Hossein Dehghan, accused Russia of having publicized the deal excessively, calling the Kremlin’s behavior a “betrayal of trust” and “ungentlemanly.” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Bahram Ghasemi, told reporters in Tehran that the permission had been temporary and “it is finished, for now.”

There is no source quoted in the piece that claims Iran "revoked" or "annulled permission". That is not too astonishing as no such claims were ever made in Iran. But how can the NYT claim that?

What really happened:

Russia has been using the Iranian Hamedan airbase on-and-off since at least last November. It is a way station and refueling point on flights from Russia to Syria and it was used to repair Russian airplanes that had this or that troubles:

A Russian Su-34 bomber landed at Hamadan Air Base on November 23rd, 2015. Most likely the Su-34 plane was en route to Syria and had a technical issue, preferring to land safely at Hamadan. There it was met by a technical team which arrived on November 24th, 2015, aboard an IL-76 cargo plane, and made repairs. Both planes left the Hamadan airbase.

Earlier this month Russia sent heavy long range bomber to Hamedan. There they refueled and were armed with large bomb loads. They flew the short trip to Syria to destroyed al-Qaeda positions in Idlib province. Russia, as well as Iran, knew that "western" governments would notice the stationing of the bombers. The planes are big and easily visible on satellite pictures. To preempt western propaganda over the issue they publicly announced the arrival.

Iran is traditionally very opposed to any foreign troops on its ground. Some 20 conservative opposition politicians in the Iranian parliament used the announcement to question the "moderate" Rohani government. Yesterday the Iranian defense minister lamented that the Russian announcement of the airbase use, made with Iranian knowledge, was too loud and too public. He now had to answer questions from parliament and no minister anywhere likes to do that. At no point did he claim that anything was "revoked". Meanwhile, and unrelated to the issue, the Russian's bombers were on their way home from their first round of sorties flown out of Hamedan.

This was a purely internal Iranian tussle and the Rouhani government only wanted to quiet the opposition on the issue. The remark by the defense minister was about style, not substance. How the NYT got from there to reporting that Iran "revoked" something is inexplicable.

Russian jets and bombers will soon be back in Hamedan, though now probably without big press announcements. Here is the confirmation from one of the highest ranking politicians in Iran:

Speaker of the Iranian Parliament has emphasized that flights of Russian fighter aircraft are still being performed from Nojeh airbase in Hamedan.

Ali Larijani made the remarks during the Parliament open session on Tuesday morning, when answering the comments of MP Mahmoud Sadeghi.
...
In response to the MP’s comments, Ali Larijani underlined that Russian jets are still carrying out military missions from the Iranian airbase; “Iran holds cooperation with Russia in the fight against terrorism and the alliance between the two countries would benefit Muslims in the region.”

Like with many of its other reports on Syria and Iran this NYT piece was again nearer to fiction than fact.

For the reality of the ongoing war, on the ground reported pieces based on local and historic knowledge are much more valuable than anything "western" mainstream media provide. To really understand the ongoing conflicts and alliances, non-mainstream pieces like this one - Washington’s Sunni Myth and the Middle East Undone - are invaluable and highly recommended. misreports

Posted by b at 02:49 PM | Comments (96)

August 22, 2016

Syria - The U.S. Creates More Chaos While The Grown-Ups Talk Resolution

Last week a Chinese admiral visited Damascus and promised support. The Indian Minister of State for External Affairs also passed by. The Turkish deputy intelligence chief was there for secret talks. Earlier the Turkish president visited Russia and the Turkish foreign minister visited Tehran. Those are a lot of talks between big and important countries and players in the conflict over Syria. None of them, not even Barzani, is in the U.S. camp.

I assume that this outbreak of diplomacy, which bypassed Washington, led to concern that the U.S. might be left out of a resolution in Syria. It had to play a card of its own. That is the most likely explanation for the sudden clashes in Hasakah where the Syrian Kurdish YPG is suddenly determined to kick out the Syrian army garrison that protects the Arab population there. U.S. special forces are "advising" these Kurds.

The Syrian army garrison is cut off and the Kurds are well able to overwhelm it. They issued an ultimatum to the Syrian soldiers to either lay down arms or to die. The aim of this move is the creation of north-eastern block in Syria that is completely under Kurdish control (and sprinkled with new U.S. bases.) This would give the U.S. at least some control over the future of Syria. Somehow the U.S. must have talked or bribed the YPG Kurds into creating this statelet in north-eastern Syria. I believe that this is a severe miscalculation by the Kurds which they will come to rue. The U.S. is not a reliable friend and it will not defend the Kurds should the other actors turn against them with their whole might.

The Russians are currently trying to negotiate a new ceasefire in Hasakah and may well apply some pressure of their own. Earlier in the conflict it was the Syrian army and the Russians who supplied and supported the Kurds with weapons and ammunition to defend themselves against the Islamic State and the U.S. supported "moderate rebels". To now turn against these benefactors is treason.

The Turkish prime minister says that any such Kurdish statelet would be "unacceptable" for Turkey. Such a statelet would become the rear basis for the PKK Kurds fighting in Turkey for Kurdish autonomy. The PKK is killing a dozen Turkish security forces per week. But a fight against the Turkish state is one the PKK can not ever win. Only half of the Turkish Kurds, probably less, support them and even the political left in Turkey, which so far supported some kind of federation, is now turning against them. To involve the Syrian front into this fight, and thereby additional enemies, makes little sense.

With intensive U.S. air support the YPG Kurds recently kicked the Islamic State out of Manbij. The Islamic State fighters were allowed to evacuate together with their families. They will fight and kill on another day. North of Manbij on the border to Turkey lies Jarablus (the red dot on the map), currently also in the hands of the Islamic State. This is the next target of the Kurdish forces (purple) who want to annex the whole Syrian-Turkish border region from the east to the west up to the Mediterranean.


Map via ISW

Jarablus was a main supply point for ISIS as long as Turkey allowed goods and people to cross the border. That seems to have stopped, at least for any significant amounts. It is not for that reason the Turks will not allow that Kurds take the city. Turkish artillery is hitting Islamic State targets around Jarablus and a contingent of "moderate Syrian rebels", aka Islamist Turkmen from Central Asia, is preparing in Turkey to cross the border and to take Jarablus from the Islamic State. Some of the Turkish artillery strikes also hit YPG positions. Which side of that three way fight will the U.S. support? Will it, as one insane "expert" demands, bomb everyone for "moral symbolism" and to be seen as "willing to exercise its rightful superpower role?"

The U.S. meddling in Syria is creating more and more chaos. Soon everyone will be fighting everyone else. Is that the intent? Whatever - one can hope that those large, grown up, older nations - Russia, India, China and Iran - now align their plans and steer this conflict towards some saner, bearable solution.

Posted by b at 02:27 PM | Comments (115)

August 21, 2016

Death Of Brother Of "Wounded Boy In Orange Seat" Appears To Be An Add-On Fake

Related to the "Wounded Boy In Orange Seat" stunt here is a little item that only increases my distrust of the truthfulness of the whole tale.

On Friday August 19 Middle East Correspondent Raf Sanchez and Said Ghazali of the British Telegraph reported of an interview with the father of the allegedly wounded boy in the orange seat:

Abu Ali, the father of the child whose haunted face now peers out from newspaper pages across the world, described his family’s final night of normalcy in an interview with a Syrian activist on behalf of The Telegraph.
...
Contrary to the reports of the Aleppo doctors who treated Omran, the little boy is only three years old and not five. Omran has been released from the hospital along with his four siblings and all the children are quietly recovering, his father said.

Confirming the above the Syria Campaign, a part of the mostly U.S. financed anti-Syrian propaganda apparatus, had published this on August 18:

Thank god all Omran’s family are safe. His mother had some bad injuries in her legs. His father suffered a minor head injury. His 7 year old sister went through a surgical operation this afternoon and she is doing well.

Note that there is no mentioning of an injured boy.

On Saturday The Telegraph's Middle East correspondent Raf Sanchez reported a quite different story than the one he himself had told just a day earlier:

It emerged Saturday that Omran Daqneesh’s older brother Ali had succumbed to injuries suffered in the same airstrike that propelled his sibling onto television screens across the planet.

Ali, 10, was out on the street when a Russian or Syrian regime bomb fell on his family’s building in Aleppo’s Qaterji neighbourhood on Wednesday.

While the rest of his family suffered minor injuries as their flat collapsed around them, Ali appears to have been more fully exposed to the bomb blast and died in hospital.
...
Omran’s father, who asked to be identified only by the nickname Abu Ali, meaning “father of Ali”, received mourners at the family’s temporary home on Saturday. Omran, three, and his three surviving siblings stayed inside the house as Abu Ali accepted condolences on the street.

The BBC noted:

The elder brother of Omran Daqneesh, the Syrian boy whose dazed and bloodied image shocked the world, has died of wounds sustained when the family home in Aleppo was bombed, activists say.

The Syria Solidarity Campaign said 10-year-old Ali "passed away today due to his injuries from the bombing of his house by Russia/Assad".

The second Telegraph piece is accompanied by the picture of a boy with what looks like a minor bloody (but completely uncleaned and not disinfected(!)) scratch on the upper left cheek. The eyes are closed and two tubes hang loosely from his mouth. A cardiogram sensor is fixed on the chest below his shoulder. The caption to that pic says "Ali (left) was killed in the blast ...". Is he really dead?

One day we learn from the father and others, that:

  • all children, including Ali, are fine
  • all are recovering
  • all had left the hospital

The next day we learn that:

  • Ali was severely injured
  • Ali died of these injuries
  • in a hospital (which ignores basic trauma care) that he apparently never left.

The Telegraph's stenographer, who wrote both stories, ignores these large contradictions between the two tales.

I for one believe that both stories are false and that the whole bombing and rescue incident never really happened but was staged. The "rescue" was a stunt and all stories around it, like the "dead Ali", are mere fairy-tales of various "activists" paid by this or that "western" propaganda campaign.

There was a time when newspapers like The Telegraph and other media employed journalists who followed up on stories and verified the claims made to them. For many media outlets that is obviously no longer the case. Today any "activist" can skype the stenographer from anywhere, tell a fantasy story of a bombing in east-Aleppo and have it printed. A day later he can call again with a totally different version of that fantasy story and have that printed too. No questions asked.

Is it any wonder that readers and viewers shun such media?

Posted by b at 12:59 PM | Comments (82)

How The Hasakah Clashes End The Kurdish Nation Dreams

Severe fighting in Hasakah, in north-east Syria, continues between Syrian government forces and U.S. advised Kurdish YPG groups. It is still unclear why these clashes broke out after years of mostly peaceful co-existence in the city.

These clashes convince Turkey that the danger of a Kurdish state creation is imminent. This will unite the Turkish, Syrian, Iranian and Iraqi hostile positions towards such plans. This unity ends the dreams of an independent Kurdish nation.

The YPG declared that it wants all Syrian government forces to leave Hasakah. But those forces are the sole protection of the large Assyrian (Christian) and other minorities in the city. These minorities fear to be ethnically cleansed by the Kurds who try to install their own state in the north of Iraq and Syria.

Map via ISW

The Syrian army and local auxiliary defense forces recruited from the minorities defend a large part of the city but are surrounded.

Map by Agathocle de Syracuse - bigger

A recent second offer for a ceasefire by the governor of the province was the rejected by the YPG and its local Asayish proxy force. The YPG instead ordered reinforcements to the frontline.

U.S. special forces were in the area when the clashes started. Their role in these is mysterious. They nearly came under fire when Syrian Arab Army planes bombed some of the YPG positions. The U.S. command tried to directly contact the Syrian command to prevent the U.S. troops from being hit. The Syrian command did not respond. The U.S. then made a show of force with its air force to protect its troops. But those troops have absolutely no legal basis for their presence in Syria. They claim to be working with the YPG to fight the Islamic State, but the Islamic State is far from Hasakah which lies in the middle of a large Kurdish controlled area.

As even a mainstream German defense correspondent somewhat irritated asks:

Cont. reading: How The Hasakah Clashes End The Kurdish Nation Dreams

Posted by b at 05:57 AM | Comments (85)

August 19, 2016

No ISIS There - Are U.S. Troops In Hasakah "Advising" Kurds To Attack The Syrian Army?

Yesterday a fight broke out between Syrian Arab Army troops and local Kurdish forces in the predominately Kurdish city of Hasakah in north-eastern Syria. Hasakah, with some 200,000 inhabitants, has held a SAA garrison for years. There is some enmity between the Kurds and the soldiers but the situation is generally peaceful.

There have been earlier fights but these were local rivalries between Syrian auxiliary National Defense Forces from local Arab (Christian) minorities and some gangs who form a Kurdish internal security force under the label Asayish. Such fights usually ended after a day or two when grown-ups on both sides resolved the conflict over this or that checkpoint or access route.

The Islamic State (grey on the map) once threatened Hasakah but that danger is now far away.


Map via ISW

Yesterday another fight broke out, but got serious. The Syrian air force was called in to defend against direct attacks on the SAA garrison and minority quarters:

Cont. reading: No ISIS There - Are U.S. Troops In Hasakah "Advising" Kurds To Attack The Syrian Army?

Posted by b at 02:47 PM | Comments (119)

August 18, 2016

The "Wounded Boy In Orange Seat" - Another Staged "White Helmets" Stunt

This pic is making the rounds in "western" media together with a tearful story from "activists" in a neighborhood in al-Qaeda occupied east-Aleppo.


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A boy, seemingly wounded, sits quietly in a brand new, very well equipped ambulance. At a point he touches what looks like a wound on his left temple. He shows no reaction to that touch.

The two minute video (also here), from which the pic is taken, shows the boy being handed from the dark above to some person in a rescue jacket and carried into the ambulance. There he sits quietly, unattended, while several people take videos and pictures of him. One other kids, not obviously wounded, is then carried to the ambulance.

As the story is told:

Cont. reading: The "Wounded Boy In Orange Seat" - Another Staged "White Helmets" Stunt

Posted by b at 01:16 PM | Comments (240)

August 17, 2016

Open Thread 2016-27

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:19 PM | Comments (233)

August 16, 2016

Massive Russian Air Campaign To Stop U.S.-Al-Qaeda Attack On Aleppo

The west of Aleppo city has always stayed under control of the Syrian government. It inhabits about 1.5 million people. Over the last two weeks it has come into imminent danger of falling into Jihadi hands.

With large U.S. and Gulf supplies of new weapons, ammunition and intelligence some 10,000+ radical Jihadis, led by al-Qaeda in Syria, attacked Aleppo city. After several days they managed to break the south-eastern defense and created a small corridor into east-Aleppo. The area is besieged by government forces and under Jihadi control.


Aleppo as reported by "western" media

Several other large attacks followed but could barely be held back. The government forces are a mix of local defense units and auxiliaries from Afghanistan and Iraq. Their defenses seemed little prepared for the onslaught of suicide vehicles followed by mass infantry attacks. Moral was low and positions were given up without proper coordination.

The Syrian government and its allies could not use helicopters to support the defense as newly arrived MANPADs used by the Jihadis endanger any aircraft that flies low and slow.

To stop attacks and to prepare for counter moves valuable reserves had to be activated. Elite forces of the Lebanese Hizbullah and the Tiger brigade of the Syrian army were thrown into the battle. They managed to hold the Jihadi attacks for now but lack the mass to respond in kind.

The Russians have warned since April that such a large Jihadi offense was imminent, but it held back from any response while in talks with the U.S. administration. But the U.S. willingness to talk was largely a deception in support of the now ongoing attack.

The Jihadi campaign aims to occupy all of Aleppo city. It was named after a man who, in 1979, mass murdered a group of cadets belonging to a religious minorities. Should the Jidadis manage to win in Aleppo thousands of civilians will likely die. This would not only effect minorities. Aleppo is a Sunni city and the war is, contrary to "western" propaganda, not between religious minorities and the general Sunni population but between radical Sunni sects and their mainstream brethren.

About two weeks ago the Russian military openly prepared an appropriate response. Their most modern spy plane, a Tu 214R was send to Syria to collect targeting information. This in addition to two Il-20M reconnaissance planes already deployed there. Navy maneuvers along the Syrian coast as well as in the Caspian sea were prepared. Agreement with Iran about support measures were arranged.

Cont. reading: Massive Russian Air Campaign To Stop U.S.-Al-Qaeda Attack On Aleppo

Posted by b at 05:49 AM | Comments (161)

August 15, 2016

New Government Of Yemen Ready To Accept Saudi Surrender

(Update: @Khabaragency translated and published this post in Arabic: موقع أمريكي: السلطة اليمنية الجديدة مستعدة لقبول "استسلام" آل سعود قبل 12 ساعة و 37 دقيقة )

Day by day the life in Yemen becomes more difficult for the people on the ground. The Saudis have restarted bombing and seemingly hit everything in sight - schools, hospitals and food supply routes. Food is running out. But Yemen now has a new legitimate government. And the Saudis will have to either follow the conditions it will set, or all-out lose their war.

UN supervised negotiations between the former Yemeni president Hadi, supported by the armed forces of various Gulf countries, and a the Houthi alliance with the former president Saleh have failed. The Saudis demanded total surrender. A retreat of the Houthi from the capital Sanaa, a complete re-installment of Hadi as president and a handing over of all heavy weapons. The Houthi/Saleh side would never have agreed to such conditions. It would leave them without assets at the mercy of a vengeful enemy. The fighting on the ground continued throughout the four month negotiations though at a lower intensity.

When the failure of the negotiations was obviously imminent, Houthi and Yemeni army forces re-invaded Saudi Arabia. For 200 km of the Saudi-Yemeni border from the Red Sea to inland eastwards Yemeni forces initially invaded at 6 locations 5-20km deep. Video showed them in sight of the Saudi city Narjan, with half a million inhabitants, shelling the electricity station and military barracks. Laughably a joint statement from the governments of the UK, USA, Saudi Arabia and UAE demanded that:

the conflict in Yemen should not threaten Yemen’s neighbours.

A joke. A Saudi invasion of Yemen is fine with them, to respond in kind is not?

The Saudis renewed their air attacks on the capitol Sanaa and other Yemeni cities. Military targets in Sanaa had already been bombed at least twice. The current attacks make no sense and are a pure terror campaign.

Two days ago a Saudi double airstrike hit a school near the northern Yemeni city of Saada:

Doctors Without Borders wrote that the “final number of injured from Haydan school is 28 & 10 deaths. All between 8-15 years old ..."

The Saudis denied that a school had been hit. They claimed that the 8 years old, undernourished children were in a military training camp. They have learned from their new Zionists friends. The chutzpah in their response to the school bombing reports was strong:

"We would have hoped MSF would take measures to stop the recruitment of children to fight in wars instead of crying over them in the media."

An important bridge on the main supply route to Sanaa, over which 90% of its food comes in, was destroyed by a Saudi attack. Today a Saudi airstrike hit a well known hospital in Hajjah. At least 31 civilians, including hospital personal, were killed and many more wounded.

The Saudi king used the occasions to hand out a month's extra salary as war bonus to all "active participants" on the Saudi side.

Cont. reading: New Government Of Yemen Ready To Accept Saudi Surrender

Posted by b at 01:54 PM | Comments (66)

August 14, 2016

Open Thread 2016-26

News & views ...

Posted by b at 07:36 AM | Comments (153)

August 13, 2016

Happy Birthday Fidel

 

No one can look back over 20th and 21st century history, without studying the work and ideas of this Cuban who wrote a small Caribbean island into the pages of “true global history,” as told by the people.

Posted by b at 12:41 AM | Comments (111)

August 12, 2016

Six Killed Pediatricians Sign Letter To Obama

We are used to quite a lot of warmongering propaganda against Syria. The "last hospital in Aleppo gets destroyed" - week after week after week, reports by Physicians For Human Rights on Syria turn out to be scams, videos and pictures of "children rescued" by the U.S./UK payed media group "White Helmets" are staged.

But the yesterday released and very well propagandized Open Letter of Aleppo Doctors takes the crown of warmongering anti-Syrian fakes:

We are 15 of the last doctors serving the remaining 300,000 citizens of eastern Aleppo. Regime troops have sought to surround and blockade the entire east of the city.
...

Look who signed that open letter:

Stenographing the letter's propaganda the Guardian cleverly notes:

It has not been possible to verify the names of all the doctors listed in the letter.

May be because these names are those of famous Jihadis? But if only the fake names were the problem ...

Cont. reading: Six Killed Pediatricians Sign Letter To Obama

Posted by b at 04:55 AM | Comments (101)

August 11, 2016

Media Builds Up Enemies For Hillary's Wars

Another example that so-called news in U.S. media is often more propaganda than valid information is this NYT piece on the "hack" of the Democratic National Committee:

WASHINGTON — A Russian cyberattack that targeted Democratic politicians was bigger than it first appeared and breached the private email accounts of more than 100 party officials and groups, officials with knowledge of the case said Wednesday.
...

A "Russian cyberattack"? How can the NYT claim such, in an opening paragraph, when even the Director of U.S. National Intelligence is unable to make such a judgement?

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, speaking about the hack of Democratic Party emails, said on Thursday the U.S. intelligence community was not ready to "make the call on attribution" as to who was responsible.

All the NYT lays out to backup its claim of a "Russian" hack is an anonymous Intelligence Committee staffer who claims U.S. intelligence agencies "have virtually no doubt" about it. If that were true why would the boss of these intelligence agencies publicly point out such doubts?

There is not even any evidence that the publishing of emails incriminating the DNC for manipulating the Democratic primaries were the result of any "hack". It might have well been an insider who copied the material and handed them to Wikileaks for publication. After the leak the DNC data analyst Seth Rich was mutilated and murdered near his home in Washington DC. The case was obviously no robbery. Julian Assange of Wikileaks pointed out that the circumstances of Rich's death are suspicious. I first attributed that claim to Assange's typical exaggerations, but the facts speak for themselves. The case indeed looks very much like a targeted killing. Who did it and and why?

The "Russia is guilty" claim for whatever happened, without any proof, is becoming a daily diet fed to the "western" public. A similar theme is the "barrel bombing" of (the always same) "hospitals" in Syria which is claimed whenever the Syrian government or its allies hit some al-Qaeda headquarter.

All this propaganda is in preparation of the rule of the "We came, we saw, he died. Hahaha ..." psychopathic queen of war Hillary Clinton.

As Marc Wheeler, aka emptywheel, reminds us:

6:13 AM - 10 Aug 2016 emptywheel @emptywheel

The actions to ensure we will escalate our wars are being taken as we speak. January will be too late to stop it.

Posted by b at 11:42 AM | Comments (77)

August 09, 2016

Clinton's False Assassination Outrage Only Helps Trump

The Hillary-bots are trying to construe some Trump babble as a call by him to 2nd amendment supporters to assassinate Hillary Clinton.

It is difficult to find such a suggestion even in the out-of-context sentences Clinton supporter are spreading around:

“If she gets to pick her judges, nothing you can do, folks,” he said, adding: “Although the second amendment people – maybe there is, I don’t know.”

My first thought when reading that was that he called for 2nd amendment supporters to organize against Clinton picking supreme court judges that would limit the current 2nd amendment interpretation (in my view: back to its original meaning). That the NRA, which Trump mentions, has lots of political organizing power is well known. To interpret that as call for assassination is widely off the mark.

To see a real moron and psychopath openly calling for murder (of Russians and Iranians), turn to the former CIA bigwig and Hillary acolyte Mike Morell.

The quote the Clinton supporters cite sounds different when put into the wider context. Within the usual disjointed talk Trump was giving it doesn't even come near to an assassination suggestion or a threat.

Via Daily Beast reporter Gideon Resnick the full quote:


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Those incoherent remarks were certainly off-the-cuff babble without a prepared script. Difficult to follow even if someone were interested in doing so.

Some pitiable opposition researcher at Hillary's campaign headquarter must have listened closely to Trump for some line that could, somehow, be construed as something OUTRAGEOUS. That was then blasted to all the usual Hillary bots who immediately spread it around.

The Clinton campaign does not get it. As suggested here earlier the "outrage" the Clinton campaign constructs out of such quotes will only help Trump to win more votes. It will also infuse more mistrust against the media who spread it around. The Trump campaign is already using it for that purpose.

The best of it, from Trump's view, is that he now gets another full news cycle of free advertising on every media channel. This while Clinton spends at least $13 million for TV adds around the Olympics where Trump spends $0.

There are many ways to beat Trump. Constructing arguably false outrage from some throw-away remarks certainly isn't on of them. The election will likely be decided on voter turn-out and get-out-the-vote volunteering efforts. There is little, if any, enthusiasm for Clinton. Trump is winning more hard-core believers with any such Clinton attack.

Posted by b at 06:08 PM | Comments (156)

Who Now Leads The War On Syria - The CIA Or Turkey?

Some reports about the recent al-Qaeda attack on Aleppo suggest a leading role Turkey is playing in this operation. This contradicts my analysis of a Turkish foreign policy change moving from a solely western orientation towards a more eastern one. Such a change implies a less intense Turkish engagement in Syria.

Earlier reports by the Economist and the Financial Times pointed to less active role of Turkey in Syria. But a new Financial Times piece (Textcopy) emphasizes the role of Turkey in supplying and training various oppositions groups, especially al-Qaeda, while minimizing U.S. involvement:

[T]he offensive against President Bashar al-Assad’s troops may have had more foreign help than it appears: activists and rebels say opposition forces were replenished with new weapons, cash and other supplies before and during the fighting.

“At the border yesterday we counted tens of trucks bringing in weapons,” said one Syrian activist, who crosses between Syria and neighbouring Turkey. “It’s been happening daily, for weeks … weapons, artillery — we’re not just talking about some bullets or guns.”

Two other rebels, who, like all those interviewed, asked not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the subject, described cash and supplies being ferried in for weeks.

Just ten days ago the FT cited Syrian rebels as saying "Turkey was [now] inactive as rebels struggled." The Economist said Turkey was now "periodically closing the Bab al-Hawa border crossing". In the new piece claims that Turkey is the operational, logistical master behind the Aleppo attack; that the attack was planned in Ankara and al-Qaeda/Nusra troops were possibly trained by the Turkish military. Moreover it claims that mass supplies over the border have intensified in recent days instead of coming in dropwise throughout the months before.

Ahrar al Sham, the Taliban like, U.S. supported terrorist group in Syria, is also suddenly empathizing extensive Turkish help.

These reports do not fit each other. According to these reports Turkey is either pulling back from the war on Syria or is intensifying it. What is it?

Cont. reading: Who Now Leads The War On Syria - The CIA Or Turkey?

Posted by b at 12:20 PM | Comments (106)

August 08, 2016

NYT Covers Up Complicity In Iran Spy's Execution

Iranian authorities recently executed a scientist for treason after they determined that he was a long-term spy for the United States. The history behind the man is a bit weird. He had, so is said, for some time spied for the U.S. within an Iranian nuclear research center when it was decided to extradite him. He flew to Saudi Arabia from where the CIA brought him to the United States. It paid him a load of money and set him up under a new name in Tuscon, Arizona. The man did not feel well in his new setting. He released a video in which he claimed to have been taken against his will and that he was tortured and pressed by the CIA to spill Iranian secrets. He demanded to be send back to Iran. He arrived there but his story apparently did not hold up. He was eventually sentenced to death and executed.

A weird spy tale and one that certainly still has some secrets. But what is really curious is how one reporter at the New York Times, who once outright claimed that the man worked for the CIA, is now very vague about it. The man is dead. He can no longer be harmed. Why hold back now if not to hide ones complicity in his death?

On July 15 2010 NYT writer David Sanger left no doubt that the man was a long term CIA assets:

U.S. Says Scientist Aided C.I.A. While Still in Iran

The Iranian scientist who American officials say defected to the United States, only to return to Tehran on Thursday, had been an informant for the Central Intelligence Agency inside Iran for several years, providing information about the country’s nuclear program, according to United States officials.
...
For several years, Mr. Amiri provided what one official described as “significant, original” information about secret aspects of his country’s nuclear program, according to the Americans.

This account by the Americans, some of whom are apparently trying to discredit Mr. Amiri’s tale of having been kidnapped by the C.I.A., provides the latest twist in one of strangest tales of the nuclear era.

Sanger noted that the CIA wanted to discredit the scientist. But why then repeat those claims? He also noted that publishing the claim was likely to get the man into deep trouble:

“His safety depends on him sticking to that fairy tale about pressure and torture,” insisted one of the American officials, who spoke on the condition that he not be identified while discussing a classified operation to attract Iranian scientists. “His challenge is to try to convince the Iranian security forces that he never cooperated with the United States.”

Trying to convince Iranian authorities that you are no spy, while the NYT prominently lays out the story that you are, is not an easy task. Why did the NYT, knowing of the potential consequences for the man, publish the claims at all?

Does Sanger feel regret about having outed the man, now that he has been executed? Consider his mealymouthed version of the above claim in today's report on that case:

How an Iranian’s Spy Saga Ends, 6 Years Later: He’s Executed

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It now appears he may have begun work as an American source while he was still in Iran.
...

That very qualified sentence - "now appears", "may have" - comes down in paragraph 11 of the story. Not in the very opening paragraph as written by Sanger six years ago. How come that today it "now appears" when this was claimed with near certainty in the other story six years ago?

Why change the story at all after those six years? Why these qualifications now that the man is dead? Is this covering up the NYT's and Sanger's personal complicity in the man's death?

Posted by b at 07:19 AM | Comments (42)

August 07, 2016

Aleppo (Again) Turns Into Focal Point Of The War On Syria

On Thursday I judged that the U.S. supported al-Qaeda attack in southwest Aleppo was failing.

Despite the failure of their main thrust, al-Qaeda and its allies launched a third phase attack towards Ramouseh district a few hundred meters further north. A tactical mistake as the attackers failed to build a decisive Schwerpunkt. ... Local fighting still continues on the front lines but the government positions seem secured and the attacking force is slowly getting ground down.

That judgement was premature.


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The Jihadis retreated after their first three attacks but renewed their efforts with fresh troops on the next day. This time they concentrated on one focal point. Another frontal assault throughout Friday failed, but a fifth major strike followed in the darkness of Friday night. A total of five vehicle borne suicide bombs broke the defense line of the Syrian government forces and Jihadi forces stormed into the wide area of the Artillery Academy. The compound is a hard to observe mixture of small open fields, garages, office and quarter buildings. The sparsely manned defense lines were overwhelmed or circumvented. By Saturday night most of the academy was in the hand of the Jihadis. A small corridor to the Jihadi held east-Aleppo was opened but is not secured.


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The Syrian government forces are bringing up reserves and additional forces. A counterattack is likely to follow soon. The battle for Aleppo is now the strategic Schwerpunkt, the focal point of the fight for north-Syria if not of the whole war.

Cont. reading: Aleppo (Again) Turns Into Focal Point Of The War On Syria

Posted by b at 03:58 AM | Comments (173)

August 06, 2016

Open Thread 2016-25

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:31 PM | Comments (123)

August 05, 2016

Why Do U.S. Experts Suddenly Find Syrian Rebel Sectarianism "Extraordinary"?

Anti-Assad luminaries in the United States suddenly play surprised that their beloved "moderate" insurgents are a bunch of racist and sectarian head choppers. But this was obvious as even the very first demonstration against the Syrian government in March/April 2011 were driven by sectarianism. Countless members of minorities in Syria have since been murdered by "western" and Gulf supported "moderate rebels".

Why do these anti-Syrian "experts", who supported the genocidal insurgents, suddenly find that abhorrent?

The "moderate rebels" and al-Qaeda in Syria currently attack the government held parts of the city of Aleppo. Part of their attack plan is the storming of the Artillery Academy in Ramouseh district. The academy was the scene of mass murder in the 1979-1982 Muslim Brotherhood uprising against the government. The name they chose for the battle make their intentions clear.

3:07pm · 4 Aug 2016 - Hassan Ridha @sayed_ridha

Battle is named after "Ibrahim Yusuf", an Ikhwani who murdered ~80 Alawite cadets in Ramouseh Artillery Base in 1979 pic.twitter.com/7TVYiZNeBP

London Times reporter Hala Jabar explains:

Cont. reading: Why Do U.S. Experts Suddenly Find Syrian Rebel Sectarianism "Extraordinary"?

Posted by b at 05:52 AM | Comments (70)

August 04, 2016

Kerry's And Al-Qaeda's "Very Different Track" Attack On Aleppo Fails

Early in May U.S. Secretary of State Kerry set a deadline for "voluntary" regime change in Syria:

[He] said “the target date for the transition is 1st of August” in Syria or else the Assad government and its allies “are asking for a very different track.” Hoping that “something happens in these next few months,” he said the political transition would not include President Assad because “as long as Assad is there, the opposition is not going to stop fighting.”
...
Kerry made those remarks after meeting with the UN special envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov. They agreed to establish a monitoring ceasefire center in Geneva, Switzerland, ...

By the time of that statement al-Qaeda in Syria and U.S. supported insurgents had already broken the February ceasefire announced by Russia and attacked Syrian government positions in the rural area south of Aleppo city.

Negotiations since May between Russia and the U.S. over Syria have not led to any tangible results. In retrospect the U.S. tactic seems to have been willful delay. The U.S. made some laughable offer to Russia and Syria to effectively accept defeat in exchange for common attacks on al-Qaeda. This was rejected without much comment.

The current attack on the government held Aleppo by al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al Nusra aka Fateh al Scam) was launched on August 1st. With up to 10,000 insurgents participating the attack was unprecedented in size. August 1st is exactly the same date Kerry had set as starting date for "a very different track". This is likely not a random coincidence.

Despite the very large size of the "Great Battle of Aleppo" and its possibly decisive character for the war neither the New York Times nor the Washington Post has so far reported on it.

The U.S. had long prepared for an escalation and extension of the war on Syria. In December and January ships under U.S. control transported at least 3,000 tons of old weapons and ammunition from Bulgaria to Turkey and Jordan. These came atop of hundreds of tons of weapons from Montenegro transported via air to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states. According to the renown Janes Defense military intelligence journal these Bulgarian weapons ended up in Syria where the Syrian army confiscated some of them from al-Qaeda and U.S. supported insurgents.

During the ceasefire and negotiations with Russia, the U.S. and its allies continued to arm and support their proxies in Syria even as those were intimately coordinating and integrating with al-Qaeda. The U.S. does not consider these groups to be terrorists, no matter with whom they associate or whatever they do. Even when such a group beheads a 12 year old, sick child in front of running cameras the U.S. State Department continues to support them and opines that "one incident here and there would not necessarily make you a terrorist group."

Good to know ...

The Russian Defense Ministry warned since April that large amounts of weapons and men were crossing from Turkey to Syria:

Cont. reading: Kerry's And Al-Qaeda's "Very Different Track" Attack On Aleppo Fails

Posted by b at 05:49 AM | Comments (79)

August 03, 2016

How Not To Run An Anti-Trump Campaign

The whole U.S. political and media establishment is right now running a full fledged anti-Trump campaign. The points this drive brings up are minor issue, rumors or outright lies.

It is premature to run such a campaign now. One can not tell the same story over and over again for nearly a 100 days. People will either get tired of it or will endorse Trump as the poor small boy that everyone is bullying and beating up.

Some spat over a dead soldier who the Clinton campaign (ab)used for her campaign gets way overblown. Unfounded rumors that some Republicans are going to replace Trump are just a repetition of the same nonsense that spread a month ago. It only heightens the media's lack of credibility. It is similar to the claims that "the Assad regime will fall any minute now". We have heard for the last five years and no one believes it. Unsourced claims that Trump asked why the U.S. can not use nukes are not credible. Especially when they are transported by a lowlife like MSNBC's Scarborough and immediately denied. If true at all, the issues is likely taken out of context. 

On the other side, news about Clinton actively lying is so obviously suppressed by the New York Times that even its public editor laments about it. CNN claims that Hillary meets "boisterous crowds" when no-one shows up.

This wont work. This imbalance is not sustainable. The Clinton campaign managers who orchestrate this onslaught are shooting their wads prematurely.

It does not matter that Trump indeed has small hands or that he fibs on every details. The majority of the people hate Clinton. This media campaign will fall back on her. She will be perceived as the bully increasing her already strong negatives.

Posted by b at 12:49 PM | Comments (126)

August 01, 2016

The Larger Context Of The Jihadi Attack On Aleppo

Al-Qaeda in Syria and associated forces are currently driving a large scale attack from the south-west into Aleppo city. Their aim is to create a new corridor between the Idleb/Aleppo rural areas they occupy and the besieged al-Qaeda controlled areas in east-Aleppo. Between 5,000 and 10,000 al-Qaeda fighters, using U.S. supplied equipment, are taking part in the battle. Formally some of the fighters are "moderates" but in reality all this groups are by now committed to implement Sharia law and to thereby suppress all minorities. They made some initial progress against government forces but are under fierce attack from the Syrian and Russian air forces.

The Russian General Staff has warned since April that al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al-Nusra aka Fateh al Sham) and the various attached Jihadi groups were planing a large scale attack on Aleppo. An al-Qaeda commander confirmed such long term planning in a pep-talk to his fighters before the current attack.

This shines a new light on the protracted talks Secretary of State Kerry has had for month with his Russian colleague. The U.S. tried to exempt al-Qaeda from Russian and Syrian attacks even as UN Security Council Resolutions demanded that al-Qaeda and ISIS areas be eradicated. Then the U.S. tried to make an "offer" to Russia to collectively fight al-Qaeda should Russia put its own and Syrian forces under U.S. control. We called this offer deceptive nonsense. All this, it now seems, was delaying talk to allow al-Qaeda to prepare for the now launched attack.

Another step in the delaying, though a failed one, was the re-branding of Jabhat al-Nusra as Fateh al-Sham. Some "western" media called that a split from al-Qaeda but in reality is was a merging of al-Qaeda central and Nusra/al-Qaeda in Syria under a disguising new label. Al-Qaeda's Qatari sponsors had demanded the re-branding so al-Qaeda in Syria could publicly be sold to "western" governments and their public as "moderate rebels". But the sham failed. It was too obvious a fake to be taken seriously. The "western" support for al-Qaeda will have to continue secretly and in limited form.

The current attack on Aleppo is serious. The Syrian army lacks ground forces. Significant professional ground forces from Iran were promised but never arrived. Iran was still dreaming of an accord with the U.S. and therefore holding back on its engagement in Syria. The Afghan farmer battalions Iran recruited are not an alternative for professional troops. Defending against an enemy that is using lots of suicide vehicle bombs to breach fortifications and death-seeking Jihadis to storm field positions is difficult. It demands diligent preparation excellent command and control.

If this attack can be defeated the huge losses al-Qaeda will have to take might end its open military style war. If al-Qaeda succeeds with the attack the Syrian army will need very significant additional ground forces to regain the initiative.

But no matter how that battle goes strategically the U.S. is sniffing defeat in its regime change endeavor. It is now proposing to split Syria. Syria and all its neighbors are against this. It will, in the end, not happen, but the damage Washington will create until it acknowledges that fact could be serious. Russia can and should prevent such U.S. attempts of large scale social engineering.

Russia on the other side has now to decide if it wants to escalate enough to create more than the current stalemate. Over time a stalemate becomes expansive and it may, at any time, suddenly turn into defeat. The U.S. negotiation positions so far were obviously not serious. The U.S. delayed to allow for further large attacks on the Syrian government. The alternative for Russia is to either leave Syria completely or to escalate enough to decisively defeat the Jihadis. That is not an easy decision.

Today some Jihadis shot down another Russian helicopter over Syria. The bloody body of the dead pilot was dragged through the mud by some local nuts and the video thereof proudly presented. If the Russian government needs some public pretext to go back into Syria it now has it. Also today the Islamic State threatened to attack Russia within its border. Another good reason to return to Syria in force. Of note is that Russia is already extremely pissed over the unreasonable hostile climate towards it in Washington DC. It will have consequences.

The Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei today acknowledged that the nuclear agreement with the U.S. is a failure. The U.S. did not deliver on its end. Iranian money is still blocked in U.S. controlled accounts and no international bank wants to do business with Iran because the U.S. is threatening to penalize them. The conclusion, Khamenei says, is that no deal with U.S. over any local issue in the Middle East is possible and that all negotiations with it are a waste of time. This new public position may finally free the limits the Rouhani government of Iran had put on Iranian deployments to Syria. Why bother with any self-limitation if the U.S. wont honor it?

How the situation in Syria will develop from here on depends to a large part on Turkey. Turkey is changing its foreign policy and turning towards Russia, Iran and China. But how far that turn away from the "west" will go and if it will also include a complete turnaround on Syria is not yet clear. Should Turkey really block its borders and all supplies to the Jihadis, the war on Syria could be over within a year or two. Should (secret) supplies continue, the war may continue for many more years. In both cases more allied troops and support for the Syrian government would significantly cut the time (and damage) the war will still take. That alone would be well worth additional efforts by Syria's allies.

Will Tehran and Moscow agree with that conclusion?

Posted by b at 12:25 PM | Comments (136)

July 31, 2016

"Last Hospital In Aleppo Destroyed" - Week After Week After Week?

(Updated below)

Doctors in the shattered suburbs of eastern Aleppo appealed for help last night after Syrian government warplanes destroyed the area’s last children’s hospital.
Jets bomb last children’s hospital in rebel-held Aleppo - June 10 2016 - Palestinian.com

Three weeks after the "last children’s hospital" in east Aleppo was destroyed in a bomb attack, the "last children’s hospital" in Aleppo was destroyed in a bomb attack.

Four new-born babies were killed after a recent triple airstrike hit besieged Aleppo’s last children’s hospital, Middle East Eye can reveal.
EXCLUSIVE: Four babies killed in attack on Aleppo's 'last children's hospital' - July 31 2016, Middle East Eye


---

A Russian airstrike reportedly knocked out of service the last major hospital in rebel-held northern Aleppo out of commission last week, killing a doctor, a patient and wounding dozens more.

The Andan Charitable Hospital, founded in early 2013, had specialists from all fields on staff, from orthopedic surgeons to dermatologists, ...
First responder: Last major north Aleppo hospital destroyed by Russian airstrike - February 3 2016 - Syria direct

Four month after the "last hospital" in Andan (also transliterated as Anadan) was destroyed in a bomb attack, the "last hospital" in Andan was destroyed in a bomb attack.

Anadan Hospital hit by Air Strike in Northern Aleppo at approximately 11pm Damascus time on July 30, 2016. The hospital was the last operating in Western Rural Aleppo. UOSSM supports the Anadan Hospital with medicine and supplies.
Anadan Hospital Just Hit By Air Strike, Northern Aleppo - July 30 2016 - Reliefweb

Could there be something fishy with all these reports about "hospitals destroyed in Russian air attacks"?

Update:

From various sources:

  • The Anadan hospital in the last report was likely indeed damaged, not destroyed, due to an air strike.
  • The hospital was not the target of the damaging airstrike.
  • According to various reports the facility was a "makeshift hospital". It was not a regular medical structure build and known as a hospital. There is no information that it was either marked or registered with the war parties.
  • The strike targeted and killed an al-Qaeda commander from Saudi Arabia as well as other al-Qaeda members. Via SOHR:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights was informed that unidentified warplanes targeted the area of Kafr Takharim hospital in the northwestern countryside of Idlib, and a Gulf national commander in the front of Fath al-Sham (the organization of al-Qaeda in the Levant previously) was killed, and confirmed information about other casualties in the same targeting, and due to the targeting the hospital got out of work, the hospital, its equipment and devices suffered physical damage.

Posted by b at 08:11 AM | Comments (52)

July 29, 2016

Siege Shows U.S., Concern Trolls Hypocrisy

Do you remember the outcry over the siege of Ramadi by Iraqi and U.S. forces? When those forces expressed little concern for the civilians who were not let go by the ISIS fighters occupying the city?

No? You do not remember those concerns? The outcry from Amnesty, HRW, the UN and other organization?

That is probably because there were none.

Dec 2 2015: Iraqi forces surround Ramadi, but it could be a long siege

Iraqi troops and militias backed by U.S.-led airstrikes have surrounded the key city of Ramadi and appear poised to launch a new attempt to wrest it from the Islamic State group.
...
On Monday, the Iraqi military dropped leaflets into the city,
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But residents told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the militants have clamped down, setting up checkpoints across the city to monitor civilians' movements and prevent anyone from going.
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When Maan was asked about the high number of civilians that could be trapped inside Ramadi once the fight gets underway, the Interior Ministry spokesman said he was confident they would be able to flee "to a safe place."

"We are focusing now on the enemy only," he added.

Today Ramadi is back in the hands of the Iraqi government.

But there is another big and outdrawn siege ongoing - this time of a large city in Syria. One where the population and the enemy are under constant bombardment. Where the population is prevented from leaving. Where mass casualties of civilians are caused by misdirected airstrikes.

Cont. reading: Siege Shows U.S., Concern Trolls Hypocrisy

Posted by b at 02:47 PM | Comments (90)

July 28, 2016

Will Preemptive Accusations Against Russia Cover Up Voting Fraud?

The Clinton campaign and some pseudo experts assert that Russia is somehow guilty of hacking the Democratic National Committee and of revealing DNC emails via Wikileaks. There is zero hard evidence for that. The Clinton campaign also claims that Trump asked Russia to hack Clinton's emails. That is also not the case.

But two "liberal" computer experts, who are taken serious in the security scene, now build on those false assertions to say that Russia might manipulate voting machines in the November 9 elections. It would do so, presumably, to change the vote count in favor of Trump.

A Bruce Schneier op ed in today's Washington Post is headlined: By November, Russian hackers could target voting machines.

That headline alone is already dumb. ANY hacker could target and manipulate the easy to deceive voting machines - should those be connected to the Internet. Local administrators of such machines can manipulate them any time.

Schneier is, untypically for him, in war mongering mode.

If the intelligence community has indeed ascertained that Russia is to blame, our government needs to decide what to do in response. This is difficult because the attacks are politically partisan, but it is essential. If foreign governments learn that they can influence our elections with impunity, this opens the door for future manipulations, both document thefts and dumps like this one that we see and more subtle manipulations that we don’t see.

The U.S. manipulates foreign elections all the time, according to Bush administration lawyer Jack Goldsmith. It may not feel nice to suddenly be the target of manipulation attempts instead of the perpetrator, but manipulation attempts in elections are normal everywhere and no reason to start a war or other "response" measures.

Schneier:

[W]e need to secure our election systems before autumn. If Putin’s government has already used a cyberattack to attempt to help Trump win, there’s no reason to believe he won’t do it again — especially now that Trump is inviting the “help.”

What a joke. Trump has not invited Russian "help" to manipulate voting computers. Trump also did not ask Russia to "hack" the Clinton email sever. That server no longer exists. If the Clinton email-server was secure, as Clinton asserts, and if the emails in question have been deleted, as Clinton also asserts, how could Russia  "hack" for them?

Trump made a FOIA request for emails that, Hillary Clinton claims, have been deleted. What does she fear about that? Trump asked Russia to give the deleted Clinton emails to the FBI, should it by chance have a copy of them. Such a Freedom of Information Act request usually goes to a part of the U.S. administration. But the Obama administration says it does not have those emails. Trump then made a joke in directing the request to Russia.

Trump did get the furious media "outrage" response he intended to get. He thereby ruined the PR effect of the last night of the Democratic Convention. That was likely the sole intention of his stunt and again shows his marketing genius.

But back to the Schneier op-ed. That one is now joined by a piece at Boing Boing by Cory Doctorow. Doctorow is like Schneier a famous person in the computer scene. He quotes the Schneier piece and adds:

Voting machines are so notoriously terrible that they'd be a very tempting target for Russia or other states that want to influence the outcome in 2016 (or merely destabilize the US by calling into question the outcome in an election).

The Doctorow sentence neglects, like Schneier, that the entities with the most obvious interest and capabilities to manipulate U.S. voting machines are not foreign countries. U.S. presidential candidates and their parties have much more at stake. The candidates and the money and interests behind them have stronger motives as well as more potential to change the voting results.

Why do we see such an orchestrated attempt to preemptively accuse Russia of potentially manipulating U.S. voting? This without ANY evidence that Russia ever has or would attempt to do so? Are there already plans for such manipulations that need a plausible foreign culprit as cover up story? Or is there a color revolution in preparation to eventually disenfranchise the election winner?

Cory Doctorow also sees destabilization as a possible motive and outcome of voting manipulations. Already back in March John Robb warned of a scenario this fall in which election results come into serious doubt and where a conflict over voting results escalates into a civil war.

I do not foresee such a scenario (yet). But should large scale voting manipulations take place, and be blamed on Russia, more than a civil war enters the realm of possibilities.

Posted by b at 02:21 PM | Comments (140)

Abu Ghraib Torture Company Re-Hired For Syria - How ISIS Will Benefit

During the occupation of Iraq U.S. intelligence and military services contracted CACI International Inc, a U.S. company in Virginia, to provide "intelligence services" in Abu Ghraib prison near Baghdad. CACI employees were directly involved in torturing Iraqi prisoners.

The U.S. army recently contracted CACI for "intelligence analysis services" in Syria. The Syrian government has not invited or otherwise allowed U.S. military or its contractors to enter the country. Any such activities infringe on Syria's sovereignty and are thereby in violation of international law.

The re-engagement of such a controversial company for services in the area boosts the recruitment appeal of the Islamic State.

A recent U.S. Department of Defense Contracts Press Announcement (Release No: CR-143-16, July 27, 2016) lists under the rubric "Army":

"Six3 Intelligence Solutions Inc., McLean, Virginia, was awarded a $ 9,578,964 modification (P00001) to contract W564KV-16-C-0058 for intelligence analysis services. Work will be performed in Germany, Italy, and Syria, with an estimated completion date of June 29, 2017."

CACI does business under the name Six3 Systems and Six3 Intelligence Solutions. The web-domain six3systems.com reroutes directly to www.CACI.com.


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The announcement was found by Micah Zenko.

As of 2014 CACI, aka Six3 Systems, was still accused of direct involvement in torture and interrogations in Abu Ghraib:

Cont. reading: Abu Ghraib Torture Company Re-Hired For Syria - How ISIS Will Benefit

Posted by b at 02:30 AM | Comments (26)

July 27, 2016

Syria And The DNC Hack - How Beliefs Turn Into Dangerous Policies

Two examples came up today of people who seem to cope easily with contradicting beliefs.

A well known pro-Syrian rebels dude posted these two tweets within 15 minutes of each other:

6:31 AM - 27 Jul 2016 - Hasan Sari Verified account @HasanSari7

300,000+ civilians in E. Aleppo (40klm) under bombardment & will be starving in 2 weeks as Castillo road cut. Bad.

6:44 AM - 27 Jul 2016- Hasan Sari Verified account @HasanSari7

Out of 300k residents in Eastern Aleppo 30-40k remained there.

300,000 people are under bombardment in an area where - says the same person - only 30,000 people remain.

The 30,000 number is about correct. In March 2015 Martin Chulov of the Guardian visited east Aleppo and estimated that some 40,000 were still living there. He has since re-confirmed that 2015 observation but the number it must have shrunk since. There has been no running water there for a long time and no electricity. Only fighters and their immediate families are left in east-Aleppo. The current estimate is some 5,000 fighters and 20-25,000 civilians. They have, according to multiple sources, food and medical supplies for about three month.

The area is completely closed off though people on foot can leave through checkpoints. The Syrian government sent SMS to invite everyone in the area, civilians and fighters, to get out without trouble. This is all well known to "western" journalists but will not hinder them to daily offer dozens of harrowing accounts of the 300,000 starving children in east-Aleppo and the 286 hospitals that just now were bombed to rubble.

Here is another example of contradicting beliefs in the news. NBCnews headlines: Why Experts Are Sure Russia Hacked the DNC Emails.

Many U.S. officials and cyber security experts in and out of government are convinced that state-sponsored Russian hackers are the ones who stole 20,000 emails from the Democratic National Committee and leaked them to the public just in time to disrupt the Democrats' national convention in Philadelphia. Here's why the experts are so confident the Russians did it:

[... innuendo and marketing talk from cyber snakeoil dealers ...]

Then follows this paragraph:

Like other cyber-experts, however, [retired four-star Adm. James] Stavridis said definitively proving such connections is virtually impossible. "I don't know the answer to that and I'm not sure anyone knows the answer to that except for a few individuals in the Kremlin."

So experts are "sure", says the piece, while the quoted expert and his colleagues say there is no way to be sure. How does that compute?

Cont. reading: Syria And The DNC Hack - How Beliefs Turn Into Dangerous Policies

Posted by b at 02:47 PM | Comments (67)

July 26, 2016

Turkey's Foreign Policy Change Is Well Underway

Turkey is on its way to change its foreign policy orientation. Instead of facing "west" towards NATO and the pipe dream of European Union membership, it is looking "east" towards tighter cooperation with Russia, China and Iran. It will also want to intensify its already developed relations with the Central-Asian states Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

To cover the move, which began before the recent military coup attempt, the Turkish government needs some plausible excuses. The "guilty" party that justifies the change should not be itself but, preferably, its "western partners".

That the coup is probably related to covered activities of the Gülen movement in Turkey is a welcome gift. Turkey is convinced that the U.S. had some hand in the coup, or at least knew about it before it happened but did not warn Ankara. That the coup is U.S. related is not just a conspiracy theory without any basis. The tanker airplanes which filled up the F-16 bombers which bombed the parliament during the coup started from the NATO airbase in Incirlik where the U.S. command for the war on Syria is seated. Three of the five regiments involved in the coup in Istanbul are part of NATO's Rapid Deployable Corps. One of the coup commanders is the head of the Turkish second army which is coordinating the war on Syria (and ISIS) with the U.S. military.

Another signs for U.S. culpability, from the Turkish perspective, is the mealymouthed first statement Secretary of State Kerry gave when the coup was happening. From my live blogging of the coup before it started to fail:

Journo at ongoing Lavrov & Kerry press conference: "France, Belgium told their citizen in Turkey to stay at home." Lavrov: "Russian citizens should too."

2:11 PM - 15 Jul 2016 Talking Points Memo @TPM

#BREAKING John Kerry says he hopes for stability in Turkey as coup apparently under way http://bit.ly/29WqHS6

"Stability" - that's pro military coup talk ...

Cont. reading: Turkey's Foreign Policy Change Is Well Underway

Posted by b at 11:37 AM | Comments (113)

July 25, 2016

How Clinton And Her Shallow-Brained Media Do Trump's Bidding

Clinton's negative campaign against Trump, and the media leashed to her messages, are doing Trump a huge favor. Unless they can break away from their limited framework, stop their unintended advertising for Trump's campaign, they will propel him to victory.

Here is an example: Networks on Trump: A ‘Dark Speech’ From a ‘Vengeful’ ‘Demagogue’ - Newsbuster

The three networks on Thursday night immediately derided Donald Trump’s “dark speech” as one coming from a “vengeful” “demagogue.”

The "dark speech" theme was obviously a canned response by the Clinton campaign. Her independent media (not) dutifully repeated it over and over. But that negative "dark speech" theme, supposed to condemn Trump, only makes his point.

(Isn't it amazing how Putin can compel all U.S. media to parrot the very same message?)

Cont. reading: How Clinton And Her Shallow-Brained Media Do Trump's Bidding

Posted by b at 04:44 AM | Comments (150)

July 24, 2016

Clinton Asserts Putin Influence On Trump - After Taking Russian Bribes

Is Putin manipulating the Clinton campaign?

Russia is weaponizing everything: Word files, federalism, finance and Jedi mind tricks - everything is transformed into a weapon if Russia or its president Putin is imagined to come near it.

But Russia is secretly plotting even more nefarious schemes. Putin is infiltrating Europe. And not only Europe.

Putin, the President of the Russian Federation, is influencing, manipulating and controlling many "western" politicians, parties and movements - in Europe AND in the United States.

Here are, thanks to Mark Sleboda, a partial list of political entities and issue Putin secretly manipulates and controls:

Putin is indeed everywhere:

9:16 PM - 23 Jul 2016 - Billmon @billmon1

Putin strikes AGAIN! "Seventeen people hurt when Hudson River ferry hits pier in New Jersey"

And now for the crown of it all.

Putin is in cahoots with the Republican presidential candidate Trump - claims the Clinton campaign. Putin is behind, it asserts, the leak of the DNC emails which prove that the Democratic National Committee has been working against Sanders to promote Hillary Clinton. The leak of the DNC emails, says the Clinton campaign, is ..:

.. further evidence the Russian government is trying to influence the outcome of the election.

The "facts" proving Russian support for Trump are mostly lies, but Putin's nefarious intentions must still be speculated about.

The Clinton campaign has not looked thoroughly enough into Putin's schemes. Reveal we can that Putin has penetrated U.S. politics even deeper than thought - right down into the Clinton Foundation and the Clinton family itself:

As the Russians gradually assumed control of Uranium One in three separate transactions from 2009 to 2013, Canadian records show, a flow of cash made its way to the Clinton Foundation. Uranium One’s chairman used his family foundation to make four donations totaling $2.35 million.

That money, surely, had no influence on then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decisions? And what about her husband?

Mr. Clinton received $500,000 ... from a Russian investment bank with links to the Kremlin

These undisputed facts demonstrate that Putin is indeed waging influence by bribing U.S. politicians. But the Clinton campaign is be a bit more hesitant in pointing these out.

Posted by b at 10:29 AM | Comments (109)

July 23, 2016

Open Thread 2016-24

News & views (unrelated to U.S. elections) ...

Posted by b at 02:39 AM | Comments (96)

U.S. Election Thread 2016-05

  • Clinton selects Kaine, a "moderate" right winger somewhat left to her, as her Vice President candidate. "Screw all progressives," she said.
  • Trump selects right winger Pence as his Vice President candidate. "Blah, blah, blah," he said while no one at the lunatic Republican National Convention listened.
  • The Democratic National Committee under its Zionist leader Wasserman-Schultz had from day one on schemed against other primary candidates to get Clinton elected. (True even if some of the leaked DNC emails may well be fakes.)
  • Sanders proved he was fake himself when he sold out to Clinton and endorsed her.

That's my take. Yours may vary.

Posted by b at 02:37 AM | Comments (134)

July 22, 2016

Turkey - Erdogan Bashing Will Not Stop Foreign Policy Changes

There is currently a lot of Erdogan bashing in the U.S. and European media. It seems that the authors of the hostile pieces would have liked the coup to proceed. Why is a state of emergency and some restriction on human rights in Turkey of concern when the same measures, with less justification, were implemented in France without any protests? The French President Hollande just pushed a new labor law, which the population rejects, through parliament. This without any vote and by using some very murky constitutional provision that are only intended for emergency uses. Where is the protest in "western" media and governments against such undermining of democracy?

The coup in Turkey failed - so far. How that came to be - who planned it, how was it betrayed, why was it botched so very amateurishly - will continue to be puzzling. Some answers seem plausible but there remain many open questions.

But this is of mere historic interest. The Turkish public perceives it as a military coup against the people that thankfully failed. Erdogan (as much as I dislike him) rescued their democracy. That the Gülen movement, under the watch of the CIA, was involved is plausible enough to be taken as truth. Unlike "western" liberals assume, Gülen and his elitist, expensive schools are not liked in Turkey. The secularist see him as a dangerous conservative Islamist, the AKP followers as a deceitful, treacherous competition to their creed, ideals and heroes.

The Turkish public is in shock. That the military would bomb the parliament and gun down civilians in such random ways is unprecedented. That some creepy preacher in the always suspect U.S. was probably behind this is taken as evident. This allows the government to take extraordinary countermeasures. But considering the size of the event and the trauma its has caused Erdogan's response (so far) is rather mild.

The Turkish government has suspended or fired some 40,000 people. Nearly 10,000 were detained, most of which are military rank and file somehow involved in the coup. They will soon be free again. The people suspended and fired are only one percent of the 3,000,000 strong public workforce. An additional 27,000 private teachers had their licenses revoked. These are staff of Gülen's charter schools which are now closed.

After the 1980 military coup in Turkey, (in a population half today's size), the number of detained, fired, convicted and executed were on a much, much higher scale:

  • 650,000 people were under arrest.
  • 1,683,000 people were blacklisted.
  • 230,000 people were tried in 210,000 lawsuits.
  • 7,000 people were recommended for the death penalty.
  • 517 persons were sentenced to death.

The military in 1980 brutally revolutionize the society and pressed it into a strict Kemalist, secular frame. One can see the current counter coup as an attempt to correct, or even undo that revolution.

Compared to the military coup of 1980 the current action by the Erdogan government is very tame. People in Turkey know this and have little concern. "Western" liberal writers, influenced by Gülen elements in high regard in their own societies, ignore that fact. I do not expect Erdogan to go after the secular or nationalist opposition parties as long as these are not under foreign influence. He has a comfortable majority in parliament and no need to shun the democratic mantle. That would only harm his plans for an Islamist, Ottoman Turkey and the further steps towards that.

Of interest now is the future development of Turkey's foreign policy. Electricity to the U.S./NATO base in Incirlik has today been restored after it was stopped for a week without any sound reason. The warning that this was is by now understood. If the U.S., or NATO, make too much trouble they will be kicked out of Turkey. Before the coup Turkey already renewed relations with Russia and Israel. Iran spoke out against the coup while it was still ongoing and the plotters seemed to win. That will give it some bonus points. Turkey pulled back the troops that were illegally stationed in Iraq. All this points to some redirection fo Turkish foreign policy from a solely "western" to a more Eurasian view.

The big question is Syria on which Russia demands that Turkey changes its position. What will Erdogan do with regard to it?

There are signs that he will change his policies there too. There are already reports that Turkish intelligence agents in Syria are in retreat. Turkey may well completely stop the support for the Jihadis and close its borders. The Turkish point man on Syria so far was the intelligence chief Hakan Fide. He was recruiting, supplying and controlling the Jihadis and running the whole show. There are now signs that he will soon get fired. He will be made the fall guy for not detecting the coup early enough:

Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli said on Friday that deep-rooted changes will be made to the National Intelligence Agency of Turkey (MİT).
...
"It is very clear that there were significant gaps and deficiencies in our intelligence, there is no point trying to hide it or deny it. I told it to the head of national intelligence," President Erdoğan told Reuters in an interview at the presidential palace in Ankara.

Turkey's biggest concern now are the Kurds who seem to have U.S. military support to unite and to organize into an independent state with huge petroleum reserves (pdf).

I expect Turkey to make nice with the governments in Tehran, Baghdad and Damascus (with Russia as the grand power behind) to defeat the common threat of an independent Kurdish state. The plan will be to divide the Kurds into various factions and to instigate these to fight each other. That is usually not difficult. It has worked "well" for hundreds of years and always kept the Kurds from asserting a united national state.

Neither Iran, nor Russia, nor Syria or Iraq will trust Turkey. They will look for any small sign that it might fall back into a hostile position and will be prepared for treason. It will take years for Erdogan to regain good standing with any of them. But he has to start somewhere. The foreign policy of the last years has brought nothing but huge problems for Turkey. The botched coup gives Erdogan the chance to completely change direction and to it fast The U.S., NATO, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will attempt  to undermine those changes. The current Erdogan bashing is part of that. It will fail as it has no echo within Turkey.

Following Iranian advice Erdogan is keeping his people in the streets and plazas. The first attempt of the 1953 CIA coup in Iran on August 15 failed. Four days later another attempt succeeded. The danger for the Turkish democracy is not over.

Posted by b at 12:35 PM | Comments (74)

July 21, 2016

Yemen - Impotent Men Beg: "Please Don't Move While We Rape You"

Since March 2015 Saudi Arabia, with active help of the U.S., UK and UAE, is trying to subdue Yemen by force. Using foreign and Yemeni proxy forces it attempted to march towards the Yemeni capital Sanaa. But all efforts to move from the desert and coastal plains into the mountainous heart of Yemen failed. Thousands of Saudi air strikes, planned with and supported by the U.S., destroyed much of Yemen's infrastructure and heritage but failed to change the military balance.

Followers of the Houthi movement and the Yemeni army loyal to former president Saleh defeated all incursions. At the southern coast al-Qaeda aligned fighters, with silent help from the Saudis, gained and hold some ground around Aden. But they are unable to proceed from there.

The Houthis and their allies then turned the war around by invading Saudi Arabia. This led to peace negotiations under hapless UN supervision. But after the Houthis, in a good-will gesture, stopped further attacks on Saudi Arabia the negotiations failed. The Saudis had demanded total surrender which, for some reason, the Houthis and their allies were not willing to concede. Air attacks by the Saudis increased again and they announced, for the twentieths or so time, that their proxy forces will conquer Sanaa within weeks.

The Houthis and the Yemeni army also renewed their efforts. New Uragan missiles with 100 kilometer reach suddenly came out of nowhere (video) and hit Saudi areas. Now an renewed invasion follows:

2:25 PM - 20 Jul 2016 Haykal Bafana @BaFana3

Breaking : #Yemen forces & Houthi militia surge 10km into Jizan region #Saudi & capture cement plant & army camp. 16°44'49"N 43°4'31"E

Photos : Damage in Samatah, Jizan region, #Saudi Arabia by #Yemen forces shelling 19 July. 16°35'54"N 42°56'17"E

For 200 km of the KSA-Yemen border from Red Sea to inland eastwards, Yemeni forces have invaded at 6 locations, 5-20km deep. Not incl Najran

Celebratory gunfire & fireworks in capital Sanaa. 1am local. Hear that, ya Salman? :-)

Areas in Saudi Arabia held by Yemeni forces for months now : Al Rabuah & Khoubah, Jizan. Al Shorfah, Najran.

The Saudi puppet in the war on Yemen, former vice president Hadi, confirmed and condemned the Houthi success.

The Saudi rulers are incensed. That is not the way their war was supposed to be fought. How dare those Yemenis to invade Saudi land?

The Saudis ran off to their mommies "western" allies and demanded a strong response. A response was dully given, with a silent smirk, ... in a joint statement:

The Foreign Ministers of the United Kingdom, USA, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates met on 19 July in London to review the situation in Yemen, following the resumption of UN led-peace talks in Kuwait on 16 July.
...
The Ministers agreed that the conflict in Yemen should not threaten Yemen’s neighbours

Read that again:

The Ministers agreed that the conflict in Yemen should not threaten Yemen’s neighbours

This should be noted in history books as the most funny diplomatic note ever. "Please, please don't hit back while we invade your land." "Please yield to these impotent men. Please don't move while we try to rape you."

As the Saudis are unable to successfully change the balance in Yemen, and incapable of protecting their own land, the Obama administration prepares to add to the chaos by sending more U.S. troops to Yemen. But if the Saudis, with the most expensive U.S. war toys available to them, are unable to win the fight, the U.S. can't either.

Another Obama war - launched without aim, without the capability to win, but with huge profits for the U.S. military and intelligence complex. Later, some foreign ministers will agree that the U.S. war on Yemen "should not threaten" the U.S. itself.

Some Yemenis though, will disagree.

Posted by b at 05:17 AM | Comments (55)

July 20, 2016

U.S. Considers "Pause" In Supplies For Group Beheading Sick Child

Yesterday some ten year old kid in Syria was beheaded by U.S. supported "moderate rebels".

The "rebels" alleged that the boy was a fighter for a Palestinian group on the Syrian government side. But the boy looks very small and weak, has infusion tubes in his arm and no military attributes like a uniform or weapons.

There is now additional information about the case:

8:08 AM - 20 Jul 2016 Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
#Palestinian child, Abdullah Issa, was at Hospital, beheaded by Mateen al-Nahlawee coz his father is a militant.

#Palestinian Abdullah Issa was suffering from lack of oxygen n the bloodstream causes thalassemias and needed blood transfusion every month+

He was not fighting among Al-Quds pro-gov group but his father. He was a patient at the Hospital in #Aleppo when beheaded by pro-#US Zinki.

The five "individuals" who killed the child are members of the Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki, a group supported by the CIA as well as with Saudi money and weapons. The group issued a statement on the case. It called it "an act of an individual" and blamed the "international community" for its problems. While only one person does the cutting the video shows that the five "individuals" are clearly acting as a group, cheering Takbeer and Allahu Akbar during and after the beheading.

Despite the publicly available video and the statement by the Zinki group leaders admitting the case, the U.S. State Department had only a very subdued response to it:

QUESTION: Is this the kind of thing that would affect assistance, U.S. assistance to this specific group but also just in general to the FSA?
MR TONER: Well, I think we’d take a – if, as you said, if we can prove that this was indeed what happened and this group was involved in it, I think it would certainly give us pause.
QUESTION: It would give you pause?
MR TONER: Well, give us pause about any assistance or, frankly, any further involvement with this group.
QUESTION: So, in other words, so it will draw – there will be some kind of consequence if you’re satisfied that this actually happened?
MR TONER: I can’t – again, I can’t say what that consequence will be, but it will certainly give us, as I said, serious pause and we’ll look at, frankly, any affiliation or cooperation with this group we may have going forward, if these allegations are proven true.

We may expect, says the State Department, a "serious pause" in the delivery of new lethal U.S. weapons to the group. Will a day or two do?

And here is how a western expert, who is paid by Qatar and other Gulf states to support the head choppers, responds to the case:

8:17 AM - 19 Jul 2016 Charles Lister @Charles_Lister

Zinki’s beheading is 100% reprehensible. Simple.

But for #Assad supporters to suddenly claim the moral high-ground is rank hypocrisy.

7:04 AM - 19 Jul 2016 Charles Lister @Charles_Lister

And yes - today’s event notwithstanding - I stand by this statement. Comparing ISIS/AQ to these groups *is* absurd.

Amnesty International provides material that proves how both, Zinki and ISIS, abduct people, torture and commit summary mass killings. But the Islamic State is bound by a brutal but strict interpretation of Islamic law. It would likely never behead a sick child on camera for the fun of it. Neither has any element of the Syrian state ever done such crime.

Comparing the Zinki group to the Syrian government or even the Islamic State savages is indeed absurd.

Posted by b at 12:44 PM | Comments (54)

July 19, 2016

Failed Coup Hastens Change In Turkey's Foreign Policy

The after-coup purges in Turkey continue. The Erdogan administration is firing any public servant who might, just might, not agree with its policies. Today the education ministry suspended 15,200 teachers and education workers. The licenses of 21,000 teacher at private schools were revoked. The Higher Education Commission asked 1577 university deans to resign. The Religious Affairs Directorate sacked 492 personnel, including imams and muftis. The Turkish Prime Ministry sacked 257 of its personnel in the post-coup crackdown. The Turkish secret service M.I.T suspended some 130 of its spies. In total nearly 50,000 people have been suspended, fired or detained by now. Most of these had nothing to do with the botched military coup against the government.

These losses of knowledge and experience, and the fear of those who for now stay, will take some toll on the functioning of the Turkish government and its security services. Turkey will turn inward while Erdogan will use his current popularity to remake the society in his image.

The expansive Turkish plans and projects in Syria and in Iraq will be cut back. Signs of this were already evident before the coup was launched and defeated. (Indeed some suggested that these changes were a reason for the coup.) The coup will reinforce and hasten the changes in Turkey's foreign policy.

Turkey pulled back the military forces it had illegally stationed in Bashiqa near Mosul in Iraq. Earlier the Iraqi government as well as Russia had protested against these forces on Iraqi ground but to no avail. Now they silently retreat. The Iranian agency FARS, though not always reliable, reported yesterday that all Turkish agents in Aleppo province in Syria were called back to Turkey. During the coup event something curious happened to one important person:

The top counter-terrorism official responsible for Turkey’s campaign against Islamic State did go to a “meeting” at the presidential palace in Ankara. He was later found with his hands tied behind his back, shot in the neck, according to a senior official.

Someone used the coup trouble to off the top Turkish ISIS contact. How very convenient. This is the only reported casualty at the presidential palace I have heard of. Who might have had an interest in removing this witness of Turkish relations with ISIS? Could this be some "cleaning the record" before making nice again with Syria and its allies? There is a second data-point that might have such a motive. The Erdogan government is now accusing "Gülenists" for the trouble with Russia and claims that the pilot who shot down a Russian jet also took part in the coup. Another person that stands in the way of better relations with Russia is thereby now imprisoned and moved out of the diplomatic picture.

Russia as well as Iran have loudly supported the Erdogan government against the coup plotters. Erdogan replied in kind:

Cont. reading: Failed Coup Hastens Change In Turkey's Foreign Policy

Posted by b at 02:20 PM | Comments (129)

CIA Rebels Behead Kid And Other U.S. Successes in Syria

The U.S. "regime change" operation in Syria recently tallied up some major successes.

The Syrian Democratic Force, a U.S. sponsored group of mostly Syrian Kurds, is besieging the Islamic State held eastern city of Manbij. According to the UN's Human Rights commissioner 70,000 civilians in Manbij are cut off from all supplies. We have yet to hear calls for an immediate breaking of the siege or for enforced air drops of supplies to these people. Where are all the R2P fans in the Obama administration and all the well paid Syrian opposition propaganda groups on this? That the U.S. has managed to avoid any questions about this siege is surely a success.

Instead of delivering food the U.S. did some different air drops on Marjib:

At least 56 civilians were killed on Tuesday in air strikes north of the besieged Islamic State-held city of Manbij in northern Syria, and residents said they believed the attack was carried out by U.S.-led warplanes, a monitoring group said.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the dead included 11 children, and that dozens more people were wounded.

The CIA finances a long list of proxies in Syria to fight the Syrian government and the millions of people its protects. It has delivered high powered TOW anti-tank weapons to many of these groups:

The groups that the CIA currently allows munitions to be shared with are: ... Nour al-Din al-Zenki Movement, (Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki)...

According to the BBC Foreign News producer Riam Dalati it is a group of these Nour al-Din al-Zenki "moderate rebels" who yesterday captured a Palestinian boy of some 8. 10, maybe 12 years, taunted him and accused him of fighting on the Syrian government's side. The boy had no uniform on and had medical infusion tubes in his right arm.

The CIA supported "moderate rebels" then behead the boy with a knife right on the back of that red pickup truck. There are photos and videos of the child alive as well as video of the beheading. The Zinki group, like its CIA supporters, was already known for torturing people.

This shows again that the Obama administration has "done nothing", or at least not enough, to help these democratic forces in Syria. If these moderate people would have received more weapons, they could have used something better than a rusty knife to slaughter the boy (/sarcasm). Indeed the group blames the "international community" for such behavior of its members.

Cont. reading: CIA Rebels Behead Kid And Other U.S. Successes in Syria

Posted by b at 12:14 PM | Comments (28)

 
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