Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 02, 2017

Crazy Ideas About The U.S. Attack In Yemen

The Fake Outrage About Trump piece included a part on a U.S. special force attack in Yemen that had happened just hours before:

The rural home of a tribal leader's family, friendly with some Yemeni al-Qaeda members, was raided by a special operations commando. A U.S. tiltrotor military aircraft was shot down during the raid. One soldier was killed and several were wounded. The U.S. commandos responded with their usual panic. They killed anyone in sight and bombed the shit out of any nearby structure. According to Yemeni sources between 30 and 57 Yemenis were killed including eight women and eight children (graphic pics). The U.S. military claimed, as it always does, that no civilians were hurt in the raid.

One of the killed kids was the 8 year old daughter of al-Qaeda propagandist Anwar al-Awlaki.

That early description holds up well against recent reporting by NBC, the Washington Post and the New York Times. The incident happened as described.

But an open question is still why the raid happen. The military and the administration claim it was to get intelligence, laptops, hard-drives and the like. But that is not a good explanation for an elaborate raid that needed lots of resources and backup. We had noted that "Yemeni sources say that at least two men were abducted by the U.S. military." The U.S. Central Command claims that no prisoners were taken only intelligence material. But a few days ago it also claimed that no civilians were hurt which it now admits indeed happened. My gut tells me that we will hear more on this issue.

There are also some weir conspiracy theories around the raid.

Marcy Wheeler aka Emptywheel headlined: Trump Fulfills Another Campaign Promise: Kills 8-Year Old American Girl and asked "Was that the point?" 

Cont. reading: Crazy Ideas About The U.S. Attack In Yemen

Posted by b at 03:08 PM | Comments (145)

February 01, 2017

Ukraine - Coup Government Tries To Sabotage U.S.-Russia Rapprochement

Updated below

Fighting in east Ukraine has restarted. This is an attempt by "deep state" forces to prevent any rapprochement between the U.S. and Russia under the new Trump administration.

The west-Ukrainian forces under command of the coup government of President Poroshenko started a large attack against the Russian supported Ukrainian self-defense forces in Donetsk and Lugansk governate.

A ceasefire arranged after the Minsk II agreement provided for demilitarized zones along a line of separation. The Ukrainian government has so far avoided to fulfill the Minsk II agreement that would allow a reuniting of the country. An OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM), which includes officers from NATO countries as well as Russia, is supervising the ceasefire and issues daily reports.

On January 26 the SMM reported:

The SMM recorded more ceasefire violations [1] in Donetsk region, including about 420 explosions, compared with 228 in the previous reporting period. More than 160 explosions were recorded around the Svitlodarsk area, with exchanges of fire also recorded around Avdiivka and Yasynuvata.
...
The Mission revisited a Ukrainian Armed Forces permanent storage site, whose location corresponded with the relevant withdrawal lines and observed that 12 tanks (T-64) and four mortars (2B9 Vasilek, 82mm) were missing, as previously noted.
...
The SMM followed up on reports of a blockade of a railway track near government-controlled Hirske. The railway leads towards the “LPR”-controlled settlements of Donetskyi and Sentianivka (formerly Frunze) (49 and 44km west of Luhansk, respectively). The Mission had observed a train travelling east through Donetskyi on 23 January. The SMM observed that the tracks had been blocked by tree trunks under a bridge on the southern edge of the settlement. About 20 unarmed men wearing camouflage clothing told the Mission that they were veterans from former volunteer battalions. The SMM observed a tent near the blockade site.

The observations on the 26th pointed to the preparation of a full attack which was launched on January 28:

The SMM recorded fewer ceasefire violations in Donetsk region between the evenings of 27 and 28 January compared with the previous reporting period (including about 330 explosions compared with about 520).[1] In the following 24 hours, however, the SMM recorded over 2,300 explosions, primarily in the Avdiivka-Yasynuvata-Donetsk airport area.

The SMM observed that the intense artillery barrage was launched north to south originating from the government held area.

The NAZI volunteer battalions from west-Ukrainian Galicia are spearheading the attack. There is ongoing fighting with intense artillery usage on several points along the ceasefire line (map). One main battle ground is the city of Avdeevka in the demilitarized zone north-west of Donetzk city.

The U.S. government propaganda site RFERL sees a "creeping offensive" initiated by the government side. Even the belligerent and anti-Russian Washington Post editors have to acknowledge that the Ukrainian government started this round. While unreasonably blaming Russia they observes:

Cont. reading: Ukraine - Coup Government Tries To Sabotage U.S.-Russia Rapprochement

Posted by b at 05:43 AM | Comments (159)

January 30, 2017

Open Thread 2017-04

News & views ...

Posted by b at 12:44 PM | Comments (249)

January 29, 2017

Outrage About Trump Exposes "Librul" Hypocrisy

The current "librul" outrage about Trump's announced policies is somewhat amusing. Yes, these policies are bad, very bad. Trump is bad. But so was Obama and so is Clinton. Protesting the policies of one while not protesting when the other implemented the same policies is insincere grandstanding.

Wherever you look, those Trump policies are building directly on, or simply repeat Obama policies. The now theatrically outraged people swallowed those without a word of protest.

A Trump order yesterday introduced a temporary ban on visa holders and visa issuing to citizens of seven Middle East countries. These countries are: Iraq, Syria, Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Those countries have one thing in common. No terrorist who killed on U.S. soil originated from them. The (few) terrorists who attacked within the U.S. came from the Middle Eastern countries not on the list. Following Trump's order, outcries on social media and in various papers ensued. People went to airports to protest. TV was there to spread the news.

But it is nothing new that the citizens of those countries are targeted with U.S. visa restrictions. It was Obama who introduced such in 2015 and 2016. The Trump order links directly to them. It does not name any country but refers to them as "countries designated in Division O, Title II, Section 203 of the 2016 consolidated appropriations act."

U.S animosities against these countries is even older. According to the former general Clark, plans were made to wage war against six of the now named seven countries back in 2001. Yemen was later added while Lebanon was (temporarily?) taken off the list. The administrations change, the selected "enemies" stay the same.

In 2011 Obama stopped processing Iraqi visa requests for six month. That move was quite similar to Trump's current one. Where was the outcry in 2001? In 2011, 2015 and 2016? Is it only bad when Trump restricts visits for certain people from certain countries?

Sure, Trump introduces his "outrageous" measures loud and abruptly where Obama sneaked them in. But that is just different marketing, not a different product.

It is the coin that is bad, not just one side of it.

Cont. reading: Outrage About Trump Exposes "Librul" Hypocrisy

Posted by b at 03:13 PM | Comments (152)

January 28, 2017

The End Of Mingling - "Moderate Rebels" Join Al-Qaeda In Syria

There was a lot of confusion about the infighting in the "rebel" held Idleb governate in Syria. The situation is now clearing up. After other tricks, like renaming the group, did not work to deceive, al-Qaeda finally pulled back the veil. It is no longer hiding between the "moderate rebels" but is now (again) a clearly identifiable groups. Groups near to al-Qaeda integrated with it, other groups split with significant parts joining the al-Qaeda organization.

Qalaat Al Mudiq @QalaatAlMudiq
N. #Syria: Tahrir Al-Sham Corps is born. Zinki, #JFS, Jaish Al-Sunna, Ansar Al-Din & Liwa Al-Haq merged under unified leadership (Abu Jaber)

The Zinki (Zengi) group had CIA support and received anti-tank weapons from the U.S. and its Gulf proxies. JFS is the short form of Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the official al-Qaeda group in Syria. It is the strongest "rebel" group on the ground. Abu Jabar is a former Ahrar al-Sham leader who had long argued for integrating both groups. The Turkish and U.S. supported Ahrar al Sham has now officially split. The probably larger part under Abu Jabar has joined al-Qaeda.


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The "new" Hayyat Tahrir Al-Sham (HTS) is not a coalition of the various groups but THE new al-Qaeda group on the ground with a unified command and ideological structure. The operative military leader is Abu Jabar while the founder of al-Qaeda in Syria, Abu Mohammad al-Julani, will stay in the background as the overall emir of the group. Hayyat Tahrir Al-Sham has a military alliance in Idleb with the smaller local ISIS group Jund al-Aqsa. Joining with them is not (yet) convenient.

Cont. reading: The End Of Mingling - "Moderate Rebels" Join Al-Qaeda In Syria

Posted by b at 02:56 PM | Comments (103)

Trump-art Caption Contest

Any caption idea for this Trump "art"?


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Cont. reading: Trump-art Caption Contest

Posted by b at 02:49 AM | Comments (93)

January 27, 2017

Fake News Of "Interests" And "Intervention"

U.S. and other media continue their strong move towards baseless, aka fake, news. We recently caught the New York Times claiming that Russia started the war in Georgia, something the NYT had earlier debunked itself. The Washington Post claimed that Russian hackers were sneaking into the U.S. electricity grid. The story fell apart within a few hours. Nothing in it was true. Hundreds of pieces were written about "peaceful demonstrator" rebels in Syria, about 250,000 civilians besieged in Aleppo or Syrian government bombings of hospitals that lacked any base in reality.

That onslaught of fake news by repudiated media continues unabated in print, web and TV.

Yesterday a sensational piece in the Washington Post claimed that The State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned:

The entire senior level of management officials resigned Wednesday, part of an ongoing mass exodus of senior Foreign Service officers who don’t want to stick around for the Trump era.

The simple truth: These were people in political positions who serve "at the pleasure of the President". They got fired even though some of them wanted to stay on. For bureaucratic reasons they had to write formal resignation letters. They did so after they were told to leave. There was also nothing sensational about that. It happens with any change of the President. As the American Foreign Service Association (AFSA) explained:

While this appears to be a large turnover in a short period of time, a change of administration always brings personnel changes, and there is nothing unusual about rotations or retirements in the Foreign Service.

Only one higher manager in the State Department "survived" the 2001 change of administration from Clinton to Bush. There was no reason to think that the current change would be any different.

Another fake news item currently circling is that Trump has given order to the military to create safe zones for Syria. The reality is still far from it:

[H]is administration crafted a draft order that would direct the Pentagon and the State Department to submit plans for the safe zones within 90 days. The order hasn't yet been issued.

The draft of the order, which will be endlessly revised, says that safe zones could be in Syria or in neighboring countries. The Pentagon has always argued against such zones in Syria and the plans it will submit, should such an order be issued at all, will reflect that. The safe zones in Syria ain't gonna happen.

Another fake news item comes in the description of a Theresa May speech she yesterday held in front of U.S. Republicans. The BBC headlines: Theresa May: UK and US cannot return to 'failed' interventions. Sky News likewise headlines: Theresa May warns US and UK cannot return to 'failed' interventions. From the BBC piece:

BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg said Mrs May was signalling there would be no more wars like those in Iraq and perhaps Afghanistan, and it was significant that she had chosen her US speech to signal such a shift.

BBC diplomatic correspondent James Robbins said it was a hugely significant speech, arguably the biggest by a UK PM in the US since Tony Blair's 1999 speech in Chicago advocating armed interventionism against dictators - something repudiated by Mrs May.

The claims by these BBC commentators are ludicrous. May did not call for less intervention as those comments make seem. Indeed she argued for more intervention. She argued against interventions for "values" (which were anyway always just a propaganda ploy) but strongly called for intervention for "interests". She of course would not like such interventions to 'fail'. From her speech:

It is in our interests – those of Britain and America together – to stand strong together to defend our values, our interests and the very ideas in which we believe.

This cannot mean a return to the failed policies of the past. The days of Britain and America intervening in sovereign countries in an attempt to remake the world in our own image are over. But nor can we afford to stand idly by when the threat is real and when it is in our own interests to intervene. We must be strong, smart and hard-headed. And we must demonstrate the resolve necessary to stand up for our interests.

Shorter: "It is in the U.S. (and our ass-kissing country's) interest to defend its interests by intervening for the sake of its interests."

May destroys the fake facade of liberal interventionism, the "responsibility to protect" nonsense, and argues for wars of aggression for purely monetary or geo-political reasons - "interests" as she calls it.

That is not, as the BBC claims, "signalling that there would be no more wars like those in Iraq and perhaps Afghanistan" but the opposite. There will be more such wars and all will predictably end with bad consequences for those invaded as well as for those who invade.

This is May's approval for Trump's call for stealing Iraq's oil:

[H]e suggested the costly and deadly occupation of the country might have been offset somewhat if the United States had taken the country's rich petroleum reserves.

"To the victor belong the spoils," Trump told members of the intelligence community, saying he first argued this case for "economic reasons."
...
"So we should have kept the oil," he said. "But, OK, maybe you'll have another chance."

With stealing Iraq's oil the invasion would have been in the U.S. and UK's "interest". As such it would not have "failed".

(The end result though, would have likely been the same. The U.S. and its British sidekick would have been kicked out of the country.)

To turn such talk around and argue, as the BBC does, that May "repudiated" such wars, is worse than simple fake news. It is Orwellian.

Posted by b at 11:37 AM | Comments (100)

January 26, 2017

Al-Qaeda Consolidates Its Front Groups In Syria

A few days ago Al-Qaeda in Syria and the Salafist Takfiri group Ahrar al Sham produced a show claiming they were fighting each other. I fell for it and wrote:

The Turkish, Russian and Iranian governments had agreed on talks in Astana in Kazakhstan between delegations from "moderate" militant groups in Syria and the Syrian government. Ahrar al Sham, which ideologically borders between al-Qaeda and the "moderates", was also invited. It declined to take part in solidarity with the not invited designated terrorist group Jaish Fateh al-Sham (the former Nusra Front aka al-Qaeda in Syria).

Russia had suggested the talks with the intent of separating the "moderate" Takfiris under Turkish control from the designated "terrorist" Takfiris. The talks had no immediate results but still achieved their purpose. Shortly after the talks began al-Qaeda attacked Ahrar al Sham. After some on and off fighting al-Qaeda started yesterday to attack all "moderate" Takfiri groups in Idleb and Aleppo governate.

I was wrong. Ahrar did not fight with al-Qaeda, al-Qaeda did not attack it. As far as one can tell they coordinated their actions for the purpose of eliminating smaller "rebel" groups under the disguise of Takfiri infighting. Those smaller groups are led by local war lords and supported by Turkey and the CIA. They all had earlier cooperated with al-Qaeda which provided the "storm troopers" for their attacks on Syrian government forces. They recently took part in the Astana talks while Ahrar declined in solidarity with al-Qaeda.

The ruse came to light when the "reports" of Ahrar and al-Qaeda infighting were not followed up with any reports of casualties, neither from the sides of those groups nor from any other account. How can there have been fighting when no one was killed or wounded?

Ehsani explains the situation:

Thread on Battles in #Idlib: All battles that took place in Naaman & Jabal Al Zawiye are imaginary battles that were essentially prearranged
2-The main purpose of these prearranged battles is to swap checkpoints of #Ahrar with #Nusra and vice versa
3-Even the v public battle in village of Dana is also imaginary as shooting that took place involved firing in the air around Dana crossing
4-Even news of arrest of the two Nusra security officers is untrue as both spent the time at residence of Amr al jeldi, Emir of #Ahrar
5-This #Ahrar Emir's residence in M'araa acted as joint operations center for both #Ahrar & #Nusra to coordinate this entire scenario
6-Importantly, it appears that there has not been a single casualty yet during these entire so-called battles

That report has since been confirmed by several other accounts and sources on the ground.

Al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jaish Fateh al-Sham aka Nusra Front) did attack several local groups, raided their headquarters and confiscated their CIA supplied weapon and ammunition caches. One major alliance of local groups, the Army of Mujaheddin, was eliminated. Other local groups took refuge by joining Ahrar al-Sham:

SOHR was informed that the factions of Soqor al-Sham, alMOjahdin Army, Eqtasim Kama Amart grouping, al-Islam Army in Idlib and the Shamia front in western Aleppo, joined Ahrar al-Sham Islamic faction against Fateh al_Sham front

It seem that the plan for now is to keep Ahrar al-Sham as a "moderate" front group for al-Qaeda while eliminating all other "moderate" forces on the ground. Parts of Ahrar al-Sham take part in the Turkish "Euphrates Shield" operation against the Islamic State while al-Qaeda in Syria is no longer openly supported by the Turkish state.

The ruse of the claimed fight between Ahrar and al-Qaeda is used to uphold a distinction between these groups even when hardly any exists. Ahrar al-Sham was, like al-Qaeda in Syria, founded by a senior member of al-Qaeda central under command of the al-Qaeda's central leader Ayman al-Zawahiri.

There once were components within Ahrar that argued for a less radical course. But other significant parts had argued for officially joining al-Qaeda. The middle ground found now is to cooperated with al-Qaeda as a means for absorbing all other "rebel" groups on the ground while keeping up good relations with Turkey.

Some (minor) ideological differences between Ahrar and al-Qaeda in Syria still exist. It is expected that a fight for primacy will indeed start between (parts of) these two groups in the not so distant future. But that will only happen after all weaker groups on the ground are eliminated and after Ahrar is exposed and can no longer act as a Turkish supported intermediary for weapons and other supplies.

The Associated Press still reports fighting between Ahrar and Al-Qaeda based on quotes of the Gulf propagandist Charles Lister. Like us it fell for the ruse. Unlike us it will probably stick to the fake version. The ruse will thus have worked in deceiving the "western" public and decision makers.

Posted by b at 07:51 AM | Comments (124)

January 24, 2017

Syria - "Rebel" Infighting And Turkish Losses Help the Government And Its Allies

On the last days of the Obama administration the U.S. military hit a large Al-Qaeda training camp in Idleb governate in Syria. The camp was known as a training area for European fighters.  B-52 strategic bombers dropped a large amount of bombs on the camp Over 100 people were killed in the attack. The camp's existence, though probably not the exact location, was known since 2013 but the U.S. had not touched it before. Some suggested that the attack had the purpose of destroying evidence of U.S.-al-Qaeda cooperation in Syria.

The Turkish, Russian and Iranian governments had agreed on talks in Astana in Kazakhstan between delegations from "moderate" militant groups in Syria and the Syrian government. Ahrar al Sham, which ideologically borders between al-Qaeda and the "moderates", was also invited. It declined to take part in solidarity with the not invited designated terrorist group Jaish Fateh al-Sham (the former Nusra Front aka al-Qaeda in Syria).

Russia had suggested the talks with the intent of separating the "moderate" Takfiris under Turkish control from the designated "terrorist" Takfiris. The talks had no immediate results but still achieved their purpose. Shortly after the talks began al-Qaeda attacked Ahrar al Sham. After some on and off fighting al-Qaeda started yesterday to attack all "moderate" Takfiri groups in Idleb and Aleppo governate. (Al-Qaeda is allied with Jund al-Aqsa, an ISIS splinter group, and with the Zinki group, a CIA vetted "moderate" gang known for receiving TOW missiles from the CIA as well as for the beheading of a Palestinian child.) As al-Qaeda it is the biggest group on the rebel held ground it can only be fought by a united opposition. That fight is currently ongoing.

The separation of "moderates" from "terrorists" has thereby happened. Russia had asked the U.S. for over a year to help with the separation. But all Russian agreements with the State Department were sabotaged by the CIA and the U.S. military and the U.S. claimed that the groups were too "mingled" with al-Qaeda to be separated. from them Now, without U.S. interference, the separation has happened.

Cont. reading: Syria - "Rebel" Infighting And Turkish Losses Help the Government And Its Allies

Posted by b at 03:03 PM | Comments (114)

January 23, 2017

Distracted Media Fails To Catch Trump Policy Decisions

For two days the media have been busy counting people gathering in Washington DC. 90.3% of the voters in Washington DC had chosen Clinton.

A recent DC gathering of a Republican aligned crowd on a rainy work-day attracted many people. A following gathering of a Democratic aligned crowd on a work-free day without rain attracted more people.

The media watched, counted and was "astonished". Thousands of lines of "political analyses" were written to explain the difference of the crowd size without mentioning the significance of where it happened, what day of the week it happened and the environmental circumstances. The result of such analysis was a lot of bullshit.

The new Trump administration was quite happy about this diversion of attention. It additionally lampooned the media when its new spokesperson condemned the press for not being able to count at all. More lines of bullshit analysis were written about that insult.

Just like during the election campaign the media fell for the cheap stunt and thereby missed the serious processes and the decisions that were taking place behind the curtains.

Today the Trump administration announced the end of the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement:

The president’s withdrawal from the Asian-Pacific trade pact amounted to a drastic reversal of decades of economic policy in which presidents of both parties have lowered trade barriers and expanded ties around the world. Although candidates have often criticized trade deals on the campaign trail, those who made it to the White House, including President Barack Obama, ended up extending their reach.

The NYT seems astonished that, unlike Obama, Trump stood by his words. The media had expected different and was distracted. It failed to report the issue until the decision was taken.

Cont. reading: Distracted Media Fails To Catch Trump Policy Decisions

Posted by b at 02:26 PM | Comments (140)

January 21, 2017

Open Thread 2017-03

News & views ...

Posted by b at 01:04 PM | Comments (290)

January 20, 2017

The Not-Hillary President

It is impossible to know what the Not-Hillary inauguration will bring. Not-Hillary because putting up Hillary as candidate was the most stupid thing the Democratic party and it paymasters could do. She had extremely high negative ratings and stood for everything that one could dislike with the party's policies. Many who ended up not voting or voted for Trump could have been easily won by a different Democratic candidate even with much of the same general policies (see: Obama, Barack).

Hillary would surely have lost against any middle-of-the-road Republican candidate. History will note that she was an arrogant but incompetent   Democratic candidate who lost against a rather bad Republican candidate, one who lacked support even from his own party. Trump won barely, but she lost completely.

Seen from the perspective of power centers Clinton once had all the support she needed. But she then lost a decisive group due to her uncompromising neo-conned foreign policy. Here is an interesting take based on a theory from the 1950s:

[T]he power elite can be best described as a “triangle of power,” linking the corporate, executive government, and military factions: “There is a political economy numerously linked with military order and decision. This triangle of power is now a structural fact, and it is the key to any understanding of the higher circles in America today.”

The 2016 US election, like all other US elections, featured a gallery of pre-selected candidates that represented the three factions and their interests within the power elite. The 2016 US election, however, was vastly different from previous elections. As the election dragged on the power elite became bitterly divided, with the majority supporting Hilary Clinton, the candidate pre-selected by the political and corporate factions, while the military faction rallied around their choice of Donald Trump.

That is only a rough take. The corporate factions are divided within. The oil industry does not like it when wars disturb its long term businesses (see Russia and Libya). Boeing wants to sell planes to Iran. Other corporate parts don't mind such wars as long as they create new markets or easy access to cheap labor. The media love war as it creates ever thrilling content around which they can sell advertisements.

The decisive political point in this election round was the fight between neo-conservatives/liberal-interventionists and foreign policy realists. One side is represented exemplary by the CIA with the U.S. military on the other:

A schism developed between the Defense Department and the highly politicized CIA. This schism, which can be attributed to the corporate-deep-state’s covert foreign policy, traces back to the CIA orchestrated “color revolutions” that had swept the Middle East and North Africa.

The CIA created bloodthirsty future enemies the military will later have to defeat. Fascists in Ukraine and Takfiris all over the Middle East are used by the CIA to further neocon aims but then require relative cheap military intervention at high human costs. The Generals do not like that. (The precedence of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan was enough for them.) Neither does the military industry. Fighting Takfiris does not require big ticket items. Ratcheting up the rhetoric against peer competitors (without ever fighting a real war) is the best justification for a two million strong military and huge military contracts.

Cont. reading: The Not-Hillary President

Posted by b at 11:55 AM | Comments (229)

January 19, 2017

"The DNC Emails Were Leaked" Obama Takes Parting Shot At Brennan, Clapper, Clinton

Three U.S. Intelligence Agencies (CIA, NSA and FBI) claim that IT-Systems of the Democratic National Committee were "hacked" in an operation related to the Russian government. They assert that emails copied during the "hack" were transferred by Russian government related hackers to Wikileaks which then published them.

President Obama disagrees. He says those emails were "leaked".

Wikileaks had insisted that the emails it published came from an insider source not from any government. The DNC emails proved that the supposedly neutral Democratic Party committee had manipulated the primary presidential elections in favor of the later candidate Hillary Clinton. This made it impossible for the alternative candidate Bernie Sanders to win the nomination. Hillory Clinton, who had extremely high unfavorable ratings, lost the final elections.

The President of the United States disagrees with those Intelligence Services. He says that the DNC emails were "leaked", i.e. copied by an insider, and then transferred to Wikileaks. (At the time around the leaking the DNC IT-administrator Seth Rich was found murdered for no apparent reason in the streets of Washington DC. The murder case was never solved.)

Here is President Obama in his final press conference yesterday (vid @8:31):

First of all, I haven't commented on WikiLeaks, generally. The conclusions of the intelligence community with respect to the Russian hacking were not conclusive as to whether Wikileaks was witting or not in being the conduit through which we heard about the DNC emails that were leaked.

The DNC emails "that were leaked" - not "hacked" or "stolen" but "leaked".

One wonders if this is a parting shot is primarily aimed at the involved Intelligence Agencies led by James Clapper and John Brennan. Or is dissing Hillary Clinton and her narrative the main purpose?

The presidential judgement could change the political pressure towards a new cold war with Russia if the mainstream media would pick it up and discuss it. But the media are widely invested in the "hacking" claims (and even create their own ones from hot air). They are also furthering the  anti-Russian narrative. We therefore can not expect that they will report this presidential parting shot at all.

h/t - Shuaib M. Almosawa

Posted by b at 03:32 AM | Comments (122)

January 17, 2017

How The U.S. Enabled ISIS To Take Deir Ezzor

The city of Deir Ezzor (Deir ez-Zur) in east-Syria is on the verge of falling into the hands of the Takfiris of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). More than 100,000 civilian inhabitants of Deir Ezzor and thousands of soldiers defending them are in immediate danger of being murdered by the savage ISIS forces. The current situation is a direct consequence of U.S. military action against the SAA and non-action against ISIS.

Deir Ezzor is besieged by ISIS since September 2015. But the city was well defended by its garrison of Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and all further attacks by ISIS were repelled. Supply to the city was hauled in by air through the Deir Ezzor airport and through air drops by the Syrian and Russian airforces. Relief by ground forces and ground supplies are not possible as Deir Ezzor is more than 100 km away from the nearest SAA positions west of Palmyra and as the desert in between is under the control of ISIS.


Google map - bigger

Four days ago a new attack by ISIS on Deir Ezzor was launched and has since continued. ISIS reinforcements and resupplies had come over months despite air interdiction from the Russian and Syrian airforces. Yesterday ISIS managed to cut off the airport, where the local SAA command and its main supplies are hosted, from the city proper. It is now attacking in full force from all sides. Bad weather makes air support from the outside sporadic and difficult. Unless some unforeseen happens it is only a question of time until the airport and the city fall to ISIS.


Map by Peto Lucem - bigger

The U.S. has condoned and/or even actively supported the imminent ISIS taking of Deir Ezzor by (at least) three measures:

Cont. reading: How The U.S. Enabled ISIS To Take Deir Ezzor

Posted by b at 06:53 AM | Comments (267)

January 16, 2017

Libya - How U.S.-Russian Cooperation May (Re-)Unite The Country

By Richard Galustian

On January 20th Trump will be sworn in as President. US Foreign Policy will crystallize when the full cabinet is approved by the U.S. Congress. The Russians will try and make their moves on the world chess board during this transition period to further their interests.

As far as Libya is concerned will Russia’s now overt support for the LNA (Libyan National Army) and 74 years old General Khalifa Haftar, a former(?) CIA asset, cause a problem? The U.S. has up to now supported the UN installed GNA (Government of National Accord) which has little following in the country. Could Russia's LNA support put it at odds with the incoming Trump administration or will this be a welcome and calculated play from Trump's perspective?

Haftar and the LNA are also supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Last week Blackwater founder Erik Prince allegedly provided private mercenary pilots in armed agricultural aircraft to bomb Western Libya's Islamist extremists. Prince's mercenary air force is paid by the UAE. He is a brother Betsy DeVos, the U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of education.

What will change as a result in the complicated ground war in Libya between the various warring factions in south, east and west Libya?

What of ISIS relatively small presence in the Sirte and Sabratha regions?

What of the tentative potential thawing of US/Russia relations put on edge by last week's inevitably doubtful allegations of Trump's being blackmailed by Russia.

The first three months following the inauguration will be the most telling.

Until then, let us hazard a guess as to what will unfold:

Cont. reading: Libya - How U.S.-Russian Cooperation May (Re-)Unite The Country

Posted by b at 05:27 AM | Comments (80)

January 15, 2017

"It Can't Happen Here" - Color Revolution By Force

The "Donald Trump likes Russia" and "Russia bad" strategy was propagated by the Clinton election campaign. It build on constant U.S. incitement against Russia after the U.S. coup in Ukraine partially failed and after the Russian intervention on the side of the government in Syria. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State was the main force behind the original anti-Russian campaign. When Clinton lost the election to Trump the theme connecting Trump and Russia was continued and  fanned by parts of the U.S. intelligence community.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI published a propaganda report claiming nefarious Russian cyber activities during the election without providing any evidence. The report came together with the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats by the Obama administration. The DHS then planted a false story of Russian cyber-intrusion into a Vermont utility with the Washington Post.

The Director of National Intelligence Clapper followed up with a "report" of alleged Russian interference with the election. Even the Putinphobe Masha Gessen found that to be a shoddy piece of implausible propaganda. The DNI then helped to publish an MI6 "report" of fakes asserting Russian influence on Trump. In an unprecedented threat escalation the Pentagon sends a whole brigade and other assets to the Russian border.

Now the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, warns the President elect to "watch his tongue". Is there any precedence of some "intelligence" flunky threatening a soon to be President?

This has been, all together, a well though out propaganda campaign to reinforce the scheme Clinton and her overlords have been pushing for quite some time: Russia is bad and a danger. Trump is aligned with Russia. Something needs to be done against Trump but most importantly against Russia.

Propaganda works. The campaign is having some effects:

Cont. reading: "It Can't Happen Here" - Color Revolution By Force

Posted by b at 12:28 PM | Comments (170)

January 14, 2017

Open Thread 2017-02

News & views ...

Posted by b at 11:00 AM | Comments (264)

January 13, 2017

"35 Pages" Attack Against Trump Fails - Foreign And Domestic Losses

UPDATED (at end of original)

The tale about the fake accusations about Russian influence on the U.S. presidential election becomes more gripping by each day. The are part of a larger war between various groups of the "elites" but also include infighting between U.S. government organizations.

We know that there was heavy Ukrainian influence on the side of Clinton in the election and in the current smear campaign against Trump and Russia. But it certainly wasn't Ukraine alone that is behind this. There are more international connections.

The "former" desk officer for Russia in the British MI6 Christopher Steele was the one who prepared the 35 pages of obviously false claims about Russian connections with and kompromat against Trump. There are so many inconsistencies in these pages that anyone knowledgeable about the workings in Moscow could immediately identify it as fake. Putin personally started working on Trump five years ago when Trump had no political role or hope whatsoever? A Trump associate met Russian officials in Prague even though he has never been in the Czech Republic?

Steele spread the fakes throughout the press corps in Washington DC but no media published them because these were obviously false accusations.

Steele then decided to hand the papers to the FBI and to talk to its agents hoping they would start an official investigation. He cleared his move (or was ordered to proceed?) at the highest level of the British government:

Cont. reading: "35 Pages" Attack Against Trump Fails - Foreign And Domestic Losses

Posted by b at 09:34 AM | Comments (229)

January 11, 2017

The Deep State Versus Donald Trump - New Smears And The Ukrainian Connection

UPDATED (3x) (at end of original)

As remarked on January 6:

When Hillary Clinton was defeated in the U.S. presidential election the relevant powers launched a campaign to delegitimize the President elect Donald Trump.

The ultimate aim of the cabal is to kick him out of office and have a reliable replacement, like the Vice-President elect Pence, take over. Should that not be possible it is hoped that the delegitimization will make it impossible for Trump to change major policy trajectories especially in foreign policy. A main issue here is the reorientation of the U.S. military complex and its NATO proxies from the war of terror towards a direct confrontation with main powers like Russia and China.

The deep state campaign against Trump opened new grounds today with the publication of completely fake and thereby unverifiable anonymous assertions which include the smear that Trump had some fun in a Moscow hotel and that Russian secret services is using that to manipulate him.

Like many smears against Trump via proxies of the Clinton presidential campaign these new ones seem to origin from Ukraine related sources and Ukrainian "nationalist" (aka fascist) putsch supporters.

The new assertions about Trump come in 35 pages of "reports" by an anonymous (claimed) former British intelligence operator working for a private U.S. company with dates ranging from June 20 2016 to December 13 2016. They say that Russia has some tapes of Trump watching sex games in 2013, they claim that Trump campaign officials coordinated the Clinton campaign leaks with Russia and that the Russian President Putin was highly involved in all of this.

Here is how the claimed former intelligence operator typically describes his sources in these "reports":

Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for at least five years. Source B asserted that the TRUMP operation was both supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir PUTIN.

The anonymous former British operator hears from an anonymous asserted compatriot what two anonymous sources, asserted to have access to inner Russian circles, claim to have heard somewhere that something happened in the Kremlin.

They assert that Trump was supported and directed by Putin himself five years ago while even a year ago no one would have bet a penny on Trump gaining any political significant position or even the presidency.

There is a lot more of such nonsense in these new Hitler diaries. It is bonkers from a to z.

Neocon senator John McCain, friend of Ukrainian fascists and Trump enemy, passed (<-details) the "report" to the FBI and thereby made it into an official document.

Even as they are obvious fake the FBI tried to use these "reports" to get a wide warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (FISA) court to listen in on Trump campaign officials. The court thankfully denied or at least narrowed down the request.

Cont. reading: The Deep State Versus Donald Trump - New Smears And The Ukrainian Connection

Posted by b at 07:39 AM | Comments (351)

January 09, 2017

ISIS, Al-Qaeda And The U.S. Airforce Wage War On Syria's Public Utilities

There is a campaign underway to destroy Syria's public utilities. Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the U.S. airforce are involved. Their action is coordinated.

That is an outrageous statement? No such coordination would ever happen?  Consider:

The idea of the Islamic State was "born" in the U.S. military prison camp Bucca in Iraq. Many of its future leader were interned there and had time and space to develop their philosophy and to plan their future operations.

In 2012 the Defense Intelligence Agency warned of the rise of an Islamic State entity in Syria and Iraq:

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

In an August 2014 NYT interview with Thomas Friedman President Obama said that the U.S. knew about the dangers of ISIS but did nothing to stop its expansion in Iraq because it could be used to oust then Prime Minister Maliki:

The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.

In a recent talk with some U.S. paid members of the Syrian opposition Secretary of State Kerry (video - 25:50) made a similar point but wuth regard to Syria:

"And we know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that DAESH was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened" Kerry told the Syrians. "(We) thought, however," he continued. "we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate. But instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him."

There are doubts that the U.S. was only watching from afar. The beginning and growth of ISIS was financed by U.S. Gulf "allies" which are subordinated to U.S. wishes. When the Obama administration had to start bombing ISIS after it killed a U.S. journalist the few bombs its airforce dropped were hitting an "ISIS fighting position" or an "ISIS excavator". That wasn't a serious campaign. Meanwhile thousands of Turkish tanker trucks were waiting in the deserts to load oil from ISIS controlled wells to sell it to Turkey. Only after the Russian President Putin showed satellite pictures of those huge truck columns to his colleagues at a G20 meeting did the U.S. start to attack this major source of ISIS finances.

At the end of last year the U.S. military bombed a Syrian government position in Deir Ezzor where some 100,000 Syrians are besieged by ISIS. It killed more than Syrian 100 troops and enabled ISIS to take important hill positions that may eventually help it to conquer the city. This was an intentional strike.

Currently a campaign is waged by the Takfiri forces opposing the Syrian government and by the U.S. to deprive the people under its protection of all public utilities - water, gas and electricity. After the start of the current blocking of the water supplies to Damascus and its 5-6 million inhabitants we noted:

This shut down is part of a wider, seemingly coordinated strategy to deprive all government held areas of utility supplies. Two days ago the Islamic State shut down a major water intake for Aleppo from the Euphrates. High voltage electricity masts on lines feeding Damascus have been destroyed and repair teams, unlike before, denied access. Gas supplies to parts of Damascus are also cut.

This campaign against basic infrastructure has since continued. U.S. support "rebel" groups take part in it. Al-Qaeda in Syria, aka Jabhat al Nusra, does its share in Wadi Barada. The U.S. military just bombed another Syrian power station. In 2015 it had already waged a campaign against such installations creating huge material damages. Since three days Deir Ezzor and surroundings have no electricity at all. Yesterday ISIS again joined the campaign and blew up a huge gas processing facility in Hayyan in east Homs. Hayyan is the largest such station in Syria and provided electricity, heating gas and cooking gas for all of south Syria including the capital Damascus.

This is a systematic, wide ranging campaign against Syrian infrastructure designed to deprive the people living under government protection of the basic necessities.

If you would ask the U.S. government it would of course say that such a campaign does not exist and is totally not coordinated by the U.S. and its Gulf proxies. It is just coincidence that U.S. supported "rebels", al-Qaeda, ISIS and the U.S. airforce all hit the same category of targets in Syria at the very same moment of their war against the Syrian people.

In knowledge of the top U.S. sources quoted above I would be inclined to doubt such an assertion.

The campaign is in prelude to the next stage of the war for which all involved parties currently prepare. As Obama still gives the orders we can expect it to be more vicious and with even more propaganda support than his failed "defense" of his proxy forces in east-Aleppo.

Posted by b at 03:39 PM | Comments (173)

January 07, 2017

Intelligence Report On Russian Election Influence Is A Flop

Yesterday the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, the NSA and the FBI released a report about alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Council and on Russian influence operation on the U.S. presidential election. The report failed to convince anyone. It is indeed a public relation disaster for the Intelligence Community.

John Harwood covers "the economy and national politics for CNBC and the New York Times." More then 100,000 people follow him on Twitter. He is known as Hillary Clinton supporter and chummy with John Podesta who ran Clinton's election campaign.

Harwood set up a simple poll. It is not statistically representative but gives a picture of a general sentiment.

This result surely shows the limits of power of the so-called Intelligence Community. But it is worse: yesterday's "Russian hacking" claims failed to convince even its most ardent and anti-Russian supporters.

Daily Beast: U.S. Spy Report Blames Putin for Hacks, But Doesn’t Back It Up

Kevin Rothrock (Moscow Times):

Cont. reading: Intelligence Report On Russian Election Influence Is A Flop

Posted by b at 08:50 AM | Comments (211)

January 06, 2017

New Intelligence Report Adds No Evidence Of "Russian Hacking" (Updated)

UPDATE: Up to today there is no public evidence that Russia hacked the Democratic National Council and/or released DNC material to Wikileaks. After today's new intelligence report (pdf) there is still no such evidence. (One third of the report is dedicated to criticize the Russian government's TV outlet Russia Today for criticizing Hillary Clinton. The RT viewer numbers claimed in the report are evidently false from 2012 and thereby completely irrelevant.) There are rather wild assertions and a lot of conjecture but zero facts that could be accepted as proof.

Alexi de Sadesky saz: "ноль + ноль = ноль"

 

End-update

When Hillary Clinton was defeated in the U.S. presidential election the relevant powers launched a campaign to delegitimize the President elect Donald Trump.

The ultimate aim of the cabal is to kick him out of office and have a reliable replacement, like the Vice-President elect Pence, take over. Should that not be possible it is hoped that the delegitimization will make it impossible for Trump to change major policy trajectories especially in foreign policy. A main issue here is the reorientation of the U.S. military complex and its NATO proxies from the war of terror towards a direct confrontation with main powers like Russia and China.

The cabal consists of President Obama, the defeated candidate Hillary Clinton, neoconservatves like the State Department's cookie dispenser Victoria Nuland, the Republican senators McCain and Lindsay and the military-industrial complex. (One of the few neocons planted near to Trump, former CIA director James Woolsey, threw the towel today and left the Trump transition team.)

A major role in directing the plot has fallen to Obama's consigliere John Brennan, the current director of the CIA. Another role has been delegated to the various military and NATO think tanks like the Atlantic Council and the British RUSI and reliable proxies within the media.

The current emphasis of the campaign is on the release of emails and papers from the Clinton campaign through Wikileaks. It is alleged that some releases were gained through hacking, planned and executed by the Russian government. Trump had announced that he plans to seek good relations with Russia, the power that the cabal had earlier chosen as the new enemy de jour.

But there is a problem. There is no real evidence that a "hack" ever happened. There is no evidence that Russia is involved. None at all.

Three cases of paper releases have to be differentiated:

Cont. reading: New Intelligence Report Adds No Evidence Of "Russian Hacking" (Updated)

Posted by b at 10:48 AM | Comments (161)

January 05, 2017

Open Thread 2017-01

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:22 PM | Comments (272)

January 04, 2017

The Enemy Du Jour Is Always Hacking

Three pieces in the same leading newspaper show how little changes with "hacking" stories when the powers-that-are decide that some country is now the "enemy."

1. By NYT staff reporter Erich Lichtblau: Increase in Electronic Attacks Leads to Warning on Hackers and U.S. Safety

Intelligence officials are concerned that a recent rise in electronic attacks against government and military computer networks in the United States may be the work of pro-[country] hackers and could signal a "potential crisis" in national security, according to a classified F.B.I. assessment.

The assessment, prepared last week by the National Infrastructure Protection Center at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, warned intelligence officials that the attacks, which have been relatively limited, are likely to grow more widespread and "more dangerous" as tension over a possible war against [country] grows.

American intelligence analysts say they have long been concerned by the notion that Al Qaeda could use computers to wage terror -- disrupting water treatment plants or nuclear facilities, for instance. Experts say the link between [country] and computer hacking may have been underestimated and poses a growing threat to United States security.

"[Country] is certainly among the places in the world that we think a cyberattack might well be launched from," Representative Robert E. Andrews of New Jersey, a Democrat on the House Armed Service Committee who has been active on cyberwarfare issues, said in an interview.

Mr. Andrews noted that computer attacks were difficult to trace and could be damaging, which he said met 's goals. "A cyberattack really fits [country]'s [leader] paradigm for attacking us," he said.

2. By NYT staff reporter Nicole Perlroth: Cyberespionage Attacks Tied to Hackers in [country]

SAN FRANCISCO — An elaborate, three-year cyberespionage campaign against United States military contractors, members of Congress, diplomats, lobbyists and Washington-based journalists has been linked to hackers in [country].

The campaign compromised the computers of some 2,000 victims and went unnoticed since 2011, according to a report to be released Thursday by iSight Partners, a computer security firm in Dallas.

American intelligence officials have long said [country]'s hackers are a serious threat, [..]
...
[L]ast year, American officials said [country] hackers were behind a wave of attacks on several American oil, gas and electricity companies,that officials described as probes looking for ways to disrupt critical processing systems.

3. By NYT staff reporter Erich Lichtblau: Computer Systems Used by Clinton Campaign Are Said to Be Hacked, Apparently by [country]

WASHINGTON — Computer systems used by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign were hacked in an attack that appears to have come from [country]’s intelligence services, a federal law enforcement official said on Friday.

The apparent breach, coming after the disclosure last month that the Democratic National Committee’s computer system had been compromised, escalates an international episode in which Clinton campaign officials have suggested that [country] might be trying to sway the outcome of the election.
...
Clinton campaign officials have suggested that [leader] of [country] could be trying to tilt the election to Mr. Trump, who has expressed admiration for the [country]'s leader. But the campaign officials acknowledge that they have no evidence. The Trump campaign has dismissed the accusations about [country] as a deliberate distraction.

The first piece was published on January 17 2003, the country is Iraq and the leader is Saddam Hussein.

The second piece was published on May 29 2014, the country is Iran.

The third piece was published on July 29 2016, the country is Russia and the leader is Vladimir Putin.

Posted by b at 02:46 PM | Comments (115)

January 03, 2017

U.S./UK Paid "White Helmets" Help Blocking Water To 5 Million Thirsty Syrians

The blockade of water from Wadi Barada to 5 million people in Damascus is taking an interesting turn. The U.S. and UK financed White Helmet organization seems to be directly involved in it. This increases the suspicion that the illegal blockade of water to civilians in Damascus is part of a organized campaign under U.S. command. The campaign is designed to block utilities to government held areas as revenge for the liberation of east Aleppo.

As we described it yesterday:

After the eastern part of the city of Aleppo was liberated by Syrian government forces, the local rebels and inhabitants in the Barada river valley were willing to reconcile with the Syrian government. But the al-Qaeda Takfiris disagreed and took over. The area is since under full al-Qaeda control and thereby outside of the recent ceasefire agreement.

On December 22 the water supply to Damascus was suddenly contaminated with diesel fuel and no longer consumable. A day later Syrian government forces started an operation to regain the area and to reconstitute the water supplies.

Photos and a video on social media (since inaccessible but I saw them when they appeared) showed the water treatment facility rigged with explosives. On Dec 27th the facility was blown up and partly destroyed.

The Syrian government is ready to send repair teams to rehabilitate the water flow to the millions of civilians in Damascus. But access to the site is denied and the Syrian army is now trying to push al-Qaeda and its allies away from it.

Curiously some "civil" groups today offered access under several (not agreeable) conditions:

Hassan Ridha @sayed_ridha - 2:10 AM - 3 Jan 2017

Wadi Barada statement: we will let teams to fix water spring if SAA-Hezb stop attack, siege lift & monitor ceasefire by intl observers
[attachment]

EHSANI2 @EHSANI22 - 6:43 AM - 3 Jan 2017

Offer by opposition to trade access to water source for #Damascus with halting of military operations by army
[attachment]

Here is the attachment to both tweets. Note who signed it:

Cont. reading: U.S./UK Paid "White Helmets" Help Blocking Water To 5 Million Thirsty Syrians

Posted by b at 01:23 PM | Comments (146)

January 02, 2017

Al-Qaeda Cut Leaves 5 Million Thirsty In Damascus - Western Media Unconcerned

There is a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Syria and the "western" media ignore it.

On December 22 al-Qaeda aligned Takfiris in the Wadi Barada valley shut down the main water supply for the Syrian capital Damascus. Since then the city and some 5-6 million living in and around it have to survive on emergency water distributions by the Syrian government. That is barely enough for people to drink - no washing, no showers and no water dependent production is possible.

This shut down is part of a wider, seemingly coordinated strategy to deprive all government held areas of utility supplies. Two days ago the Islamic State shut down a major water intake for Aleppo from the Euphrates. High voltage electricity masts on lines feeding Damascus have been destroyed and repair teams, unlike before, denied access. Gas supplies to parts of Damascus are also cut. A similar tactic was used by the Zionist terrorists of the Haganah who in 1947/48 poisoned and blew up the water mains and oil pipelines to Palestinian Haifa.

Wadi Barada is a river valley some 10 miles west of Damascus at the mountain range between Lebanon and Syria. It has been in the hands of local insurgents since 2012. The area was since loosely surrounded by Syrian government forces and their allies from Hizbullah.

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Two springs in the area provide the water for Damascus which is treated locally and then pumped through pipelines into the city's distribution network. Since the early 1990s there is a low level conflict over the water diversion of the Barada river valley to the ever growing Damascus. The drought over the last years has intensified the problems. Local agriculture of the water rich valley had to cut back for lack of water as this was pumped into the city. But many families from the valley moved themselves into the city or have relatives living there.

The local rebels had kept the water running for the city. Al-Qaeda aligned groups have been in the area for some time. A propaganda video distributed by them and taken in the area showed (pic) the choreographed mass execution of Syrian government soldiers.

After the eastern part of the city of Aleppo was liberated by Syrian government forces, the local rebels and inhabitants in the Barada river valley were willing to reconcile with the Syrian government. But the al-Qaeda Takfiris disagreed and took over. The area is since under full al-Qaeda control and thereby outside of the recent ceasefire agreement.

On December 22 the water supply to Damascus was suddenly contaminated with diesel fuel and no longer consumable. A day later Syrian government forces started an operation to regain the area and to reconstitute the water supplies.

Cont. reading: Al-Qaeda Cut Leaves 5 Million Thirsty In Damascus - Western Media Unconcerned

Posted by b at 02:42 PM | Comments (87)

December 31, 2016

A Happy New Year To All Moonkind

To all commentators here a big THANKS for giving me so much!

My wish: May the next year be more peaceful than this one.

A Happy New Year to all moonkind!

Posted by b at 11:41 AM | Comments (142)

New Russian Hacks? No, Old Ukrainian Malware Found.

All recent claims of "Russian hacking" are either outright false or are based on "evidence" that only shows run-of-the-mill attacks by some anonymous basement hacker.

The year 2016 saw the person elected U.S. president who Jeff Bezos' propaganda rag, the Washington Post, hated most. To celebrate the end of this very bad year its writers and editors decided to put more egg on their faces.

It first published the piece promoted on the left and some three hours later the fundamentally "corrected" one on the right.

The claim in the first piece, based on anonymous "officials", was that Russia hacked into the U.S. electricity grid through a utility company in Vermont. But then the utility companies in question, Burlington Electric, issued a statement that a recent scan of its IT systems had found only one laptop with some malware and that the laptop in questions was not connected to its networks at all. There was nothing found on any net-connected system. It had reported the find to the federal U.S. government. (Some very shortsighted "officials" immediately abused the confidential company information to miss-inform the Washington Post.) The utility company found the malware by scanning for a malware signature published in a lame recent assessment by Homeland Security and the FBI.

Dubious claims of foreign hacking of the electricity grid have already been made in 2009. Its an old trick of the Obama administration to achieve some political aims.

The Washington Post was obviously so eager to publish another of its daily "Russian hacking" fakes that it did not even ask the two Vermont utilities in question before pushing the stenographed piece out of the door.

That may well have been because the lead editorial of that day was warning of Putin hacking the U.S. electricity network and (again) hitting at Trump:

For any American leader, an attempt to subvert U.S. democracy ought to be unforgivable — even if he is the intended beneficiary. Some years ago, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” and the fear at the time was of a cyberattack collapsing electric grids or crashing financial markets. Now we have a real cyber-Pearl Harbor, though not one that was anticipated.

Pearl Harbor was followed by the U.S. entry into a world war. Do the editors want to repeat that when alluding to it?

The editorial also pushed a bunch of wholly invented conspiracy theories:

Cont. reading: New Russian Hacks? No, Old Ukrainian Malware Found.

Posted by b at 11:17 AM | Comments (70)

December 30, 2016

Master Judoka Putin "The Gracious" Outclasses "Lame Duck" Obama

The typical pettiness and vengefulness of the Obama administration was at full display with yesterday's expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the closing of two Russian estates in New York and Maryland. Obama also sanctioned the Russian external intelligence service FSB and the military intelligence service GRU as well as some of its leaders for doing their job.

The move was ostensibly over alleged but completely unproven Russian "hacking" to influence the U.S. election. But the real reason is likely Obama's loss of face after being left out of the successful negotiations of a new ceasefire in Syria.

True to form the Russian government responded with high-class trolling and generosity.

The first move came through the Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom. It tweeted about the current status of the Obama administration:


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The tweet gained so far more then 17,000 retweets and 19,000+ likes - certainly a "best of the year" candidate.

In response leaks and speculations appeared in the U.S. aligned media about the bad, bad Russian responses to Obama's moves.

CNN claimed that Russia would close the American school in Moscow:

Cont. reading: Master Judoka Putin "The Gracious" Outclasses "Lame Duck" Obama

Posted by b at 09:03 AM | Comments (134)

December 29, 2016

U.S. Embassy Turkey Openly Lies About U.S. YPG Support

U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Turkey - December 28 2016

The truth regarding misinformation in Turkish media concerning United States and Coalition operations against ISIL in Syria:

There is considerable misinformation circulating in Turkish media concerning U.S. and Coalition operations against ISIL in Syria. For those interested in the truths, here are the truths:
...
The United States government has not provided weapons or explosives to the YPG or the PKK – period.

Washington Post - December 28 2016

On the road to Raqqa:

At the heart of the issue is the U.S. military’s policy of sending arms to the area controlled by the main Syrian Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units, widely known as the YPG.

The decision has paid off so far. The YPG — which constitutes the Kurdish component of the SDF — has proved to be the United States’ most effective military ally in Syria, and it has retaken vast swaths of territory.

The embassy statement denying weapon and ammunition support for the YPG is obviously a lie. That the U.S. provides and provided weapons and ammunition to the YPG since 2014 is definitely true.

The same U.S. Embassy statement also denied that the U.S. supports or supported ISIS aka DAESH:

Cont. reading: U.S. Embassy Turkey Openly Lies About U.S. YPG Support

Posted by b at 12:11 AM | Comments (98)

December 28, 2016

Syria - Peace Talk Rumors And Parameters

Since February 2016 Russia had negotiated with the U.S. about a peace deal on Syria. The main agreed upon point was to fight together against the Takfiris, mainly ISIS and al-Qaeda. The U.S. in turn promised to separate the "moderate rebels" it supported from their close al-Qaeda ally. But that promise was never fulfilled. The U.S. delayed and delayed and enabled new attacks by al-Qaeda and U.S. proxy forces on Aleppo and elsewhere. It also instigated Kurdish YPG forces to attack the Syrian government in Hasakah. This was the strategic overreach that doomed the Kurds to a minor role in any upcoming solution.

Russia finally had enough and pulled the plug on further negotiations with the U.S. The Syrian forces and their allies besieged Aleppo and liberated it. At the same time Turkey was allowed to invade Syria in the north eastern Aleppo governate to prevent a connection of Kurdish areas in the north-east and north-west of Syria. The probably U.S. instigated putsch attempt against the Turkish government contributed to this change of alliances. Turkey decided to work with Russia and Iran to end the Syrian crisis (and to get as much out of it as possible.)

Before Christmas Erdogan met with Putin followed by a meeting of the Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defense ministers. They decided to initiate peace talks:

Turkey said it will facilitate contacts between Syria’s government and opposition groups in preparation for peace talks organized together with Russia and Iran that aim to reach a nationwide cease-fire as the first step to ending an almost six-year civil war.
...
Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed in Moscow last week to seek a truce in Syria and hold peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, in a joint approach that sidelines the U.S.

Turkey today leaked further details of the talks (again providing that it is not trustworthy):

Citing anonymous sources, reports said that the two sides have reached agreement on a draft plan for the implementation of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, with the aim to extend the ceasefire deal in Aleppo throughout the country.
...
The sources said that Turkey and Russia will aim to ensure that the ceasefire takes effect starting Wednesday night. Later on, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the deal could be reached at any moment soon and reiterated that Turkey is in favor of a political solution.
...
Terrorist organizations will be excluded from the ceasefire, the sources added.

Among lots of rumors, leaked by interested sides, the parameters that evolve seem to be the following:

  • a ceasefire will be called (and broken here and there) starting tomorrow night;
  • Turkey will guarantee for the "moderate rebels" it controls while Russia will guarantee for the Syrian government forces and their allies;
  • al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Kurdish YPG and the areas in which these groups are dominant are excluded from the ceasefire;
  • Ahrar al Sham, which is internally split about joining al-Qaeda, will have to decide its position;
  • all parties of the deal commit to fight the above terrorists (or at least not to hinder others from doing it);
  • talks, including the above groups, will begin in Astana in mid January;

There are several points that are unclear and left to further negotiations:

  • Turkey (officially) still wants Assad to go while Syria and Iran insist that he stays, Russia does not care about this point;
  • Syria insists that "rebel" held areas around Damascus are not included in the deal and will continue to clean them up; "moderate rebels" insist that the areas must be included;
  • Turkey will want future "influence" zones in Syria that other will no want to give to it.

Neither the Syrian government nor Iran has yet officially agreed to the outlined deal. Some "moderate rebel" groups agreed to it while others (Ahrar) claim they have not yet been asked. Russia says the deal is still not sealed and needs more work.

While the deal is unfinished there is already some movement on the ground that shows that it is likely real:

  • ten "moderate rebel" groups in north-Syria (without Ahrar al-Sham) have started negotiations to unite to present a common position;
  • Kurdish YPG forces stationed in the Aleppo city neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud began leaving the city and are heading to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in north-wast Syria;
  • Ahrar al Sham has attacked and detained forces of certain "moderate rebel" groups that helped Turkey in its invasion against Kurds and ISIS in the eastern Aleppo governate.

The talks and ceasefires will be on and off throughout the next months. All parties will try to gain the maximum for their side. At times the negotiations will take place on the battle field. But unlike the U.S. which would not deliver on its promises but kept supporting every "rebel" offense, Turkey can and likely will likely deliver. It has no where else to go. It also has the power to close its borders and to deny its "rebels" as well as al-Qaeda the resupplies needed for continued fighting.

Syria and its allies are in a military superior position and will have to keep on the pressure, especially on the al-Qaeda controlled Idleb region, to press the other parties to stick to a deal.

The real significance of the deal is that it is excluding the U.S. and EU from these talks. That has not happened on a Middle East issue for a long time. The U.S. has overreached with Secretary of State Kerry promising this and that but never delivering on his words. The U.S. lost the game. The Obama administration is miffed and will certainly try to throw in some spoilers and to make it as difficult as possible for the upcoming Trump administration to change course.

It is still a long way to peace in Syria but the perspective is now more promising than it has been for a long time.

Posted by b at 11:07 AM | Comments (80)

December 27, 2016

Syria Roundup: Aleppo Liberated - Turkey's Problems Increase

As planned by the Russian forces the liberation of east-Aleppo was completed before Christmas. There are no longer beheadings by Takfiris in East-Aleppo. Instead a Christmas mass could be held in the damaged Elias Cathedral in the Old City in east-Aleppo.


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A total of about 88,000 people left the area during the evacuation of east-Aleppo. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross some 35,000 (13,000 militants and their immediate families) left to al-Qaeda held areas in Idleb governate. The UN Humanitarian Relief Organization found that 54,000 entered the government held west Aleppo.

Cont. reading: Syria Roundup: Aleppo Liberated - Turkey's Problems Increase

Posted by b at 02:01 PM | Comments (84)

December 26, 2016

Open Thread 2016-44

(While I am still in family holiday mode ...)

News & views ...

Posted by b at 03:22 AM | Comments (193)

December 24, 2016

Hope

The old story associated with Bethlehem and commemorated by many these days is about hope.

Hope for more light and new beginnings, needed as much today than ever. Hope for walls to come down.


Picture courtesy of the Bethlehem Association

This year witnessed the liberation of Aleppo from the excrescence of imperialism. May the walls around Bethlehem also come down and its people be liberated.

I wish you all some contemplative, hope- and peaceful Christmas.

Posted by b at 03:00 AM | Comments (101)

December 23, 2016

False News By Omission Misinforms - Pointing Such Out May Soon Be Censored

Some Israeli military official claim that Hizbullah is using Armored Personal Carriers in Syria, a correct claim, which it received from the Lebanese Armed Forces, a lie. The carriers in question are way out of date tracked vehicles and the LAF once received some upgraded ones from the United States. Israel makes these claims every once a while.

But as was reported when these claims were made on earlier occasions Hizbullah actually took such APCs from the Southern Lebanese Army which was an Israeli proxy force used during the Israeli occupation of Lebanon. When in 2000 Hizbullah finally kicked Israel out of Lebanon, the SLA dissolved and all the weapons Israel had delivered to it were taken into Hizbullah's stocks. They have since been used to fight Israel and various Gulf states proxy Jihadis in Lebanon and Syria.

But you would not learn that from the main Israeli news organization in the United States, the New York Times. Its report makes no mention of the original source of the APCs:

Cont. reading: False News By Omission Misinforms - Pointing Such Out May Soon Be Censored

Posted by b at 03:28 PM | Comments (102)

December 21, 2016

How The Military Excluded The White House From International Syria Negotiations

The NYT laments today that international negotiations about the situation in Syria now continue without any U.S. participation: Russia, Iran and Turkey Meet for Syria Talks, Excluding U.S.

Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Moscow on Tuesday to work toward a political accord to end Syria’s nearly six-year war, leaving the United States on the sidelines as the countries sought to drive the conflict in ways that serve their interests.

Secretary of State John Kerry was not invited. Nor was the United Nations consulted.

With pro-government forces having made critical gains on the ground, ...

(Note: The last sentence originally and correctly said "pro-Syrian forces ...", not "pro-government forces ...". It was altered after I noted the "pro-Syrian" change of tone on Twitter.)

Russia kicked the U.S. out of any further talks about Syria after the U.S. blew a deal which, after long delaying negotiations, Kerry had made with the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov.

In a recent interview Kerry admits that it was opposition from the Pentagon, not Moscow or Damascus, that had blown up his agreement with Russia over Syria:

More recently, he has clashed inside the administration with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Kerry negotiated an agreement with Russia to share joint military operations, but it fell apart.

“Unfortunately we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation of that extremely hard to accomplish,” Kerry said. “But I believe in it, I think it can work, could have worked."

Kerry's agreement with Russia did not just "fell apart". The Pentagon actively sabotaged it by intentionally and perfidiously attacking the Syrian army.

The deal with Russia was made in June. It envisioned coordinated attacks on ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria, both designated as terrorist under two UN Security Council resolutions which call upon all countries to eradicate them. For months the U.S. failed to separate its CIA and Pentagon trained, supplied and paid "moderate rebel" from al-Qaeda, thereby blocking the deal. In September the deal was modified and finally ready to be implemented.

The Pentagon still did not like it but had been overruled by the White House:

The agreement that Secretary of State John Kerry announced with Russia to reduce the killing in Syria has widened an increasingly public divide between Mr. Kerry and Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter, who has deep reservations about the plan for American and Russian forces to jointly target terrorist groups.
Mr. Carter was among the administration officials who pushed against the agreement on a conference call with the White House last week as Mr. Kerry, joining the argument from a secure facility in Geneva, grew increasingly frustrated. Although President Obama ultimately approved the effort after hours of debate, Pentagon officials remain unconvinced.
...
“I’m not saying yes or no,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, commander of the United States Air Forces Central Command, told reporters on a video conference call. “It would be premature to say that we’re going to jump right into it.”

The CentCom general threatened to not follow the decision his Commander of Chief had taken. He would not have done so without cover from Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

Three days later U.S. CentCom Air Forces and allied Danish airplanes attack Syrian army positions near the ISIS besieged city of Deir Ezzor. During 37 air attacks within one hour between 62 and 100 Syrian Arab Army soldiers were killed and many more wounded. They had held a defensive positions on hills overlooking the Deir Ezzor airport. Shortly after the U.S. air attack ISIS forces stormed the hills and have held them since. Resupply for the 100,000+  civilians and soldiers in Deir Ezzor is now endangered if not impossible. The CentCom attack enabled ISIS to eventually conquer Deir Ezzor and to establish the envisioned "Salafist principality" in east Syria.

During the U.S. attack the Syrian-Russian operations center had immediately tried to contact the designated coordination officer at U.S. Central Command to stop the attack. But that officer could not be reached and those at CentCom taking the Russian calls just hanged up:

By time the Russian officer found his designated contact — who was away from his desk — and explained that the coalition was actually hitting a Syrian army unit, “a good amount of strikes” had already taken place, U.S. Central Command spokesman Col. John Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday.

Until the attack the Syrian and Russian side had, as agreed with Kerry, kept to a ceasefire to allow the separation of the "marbled" CIA and al-Qaeda forces. After the CentCom air attack the Kerry-Lavrov deal was off:

On the sidelines of an emergency UN Security Council meeting called on the matter, tempers were high. Russia's permanent UN representative, Vitaly Churkin, questioned the timing of the strikes, two days before Russian-American coordination in the fight against terror groups in Syria was to begin.
"I have never seen such an extraordinary display of American heavy-handedness," he said, after abruptly leaving the meeting.

The Pentagon launched one of its usual whitewash investigations and a heavily redacted summary report (pdf) was released in late November.

Gareth Porter still found some usable bits in it:

The report, released by US Central Command on 29 November, shows that senior US Air Force officers at the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar, who were responsible for the decision to carry out the September airstrike at Deir Ezzor:
  • misled the Russians about where the US intended to strike so Russia could not warn that it was targeting Syrian troops
  • ignored information and intelligence analysis warning that the positions to be struck were Syrian government rather than Islamic State
  • shifted abruptly from a deliberate targeting process to an immediate strike in violation of normal Air Force procedures

The investigation was led by a Brigade General. He was too low in rank to investigate or challenge the responsible CentCom air-commander Lt. Gen. Harrington. The name of a co-investigator was redacted in the report and marked as "foreign government information". That officer was likely from Denmark.

Four days after the investigation report was officially released the Danish government, without giving any public reason, pulled back its air contingent from any further operations under U.S. command in Iraq and Syria.

With the attack on Deir Ezzor the Pentagon has:

  • enabled ISIS to win the siege in Deir Ezzor where 100,000+ civilians and soldiers are under threat of being brutally killed
  • cleared the grounds for the establishment of an ISIS ruled "Salafist principality" in east-Syria
  • deceived a European NATO ally and lost its active cooperation over Syria and Iraq
  • ruined Kerry's deal with Russia about a coordinated fight against UN designated terrorists in Syria
  • kicked the U.S. out of further international negotiations about Syria

It is clear that the responsible U.S. officer for the attack and its consequences is one Lt. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian who had earlier publicly spoken out against a deal that his Commander in Chief had agreed to. He likely had cover from Defense Secretary Ash Carter.

The White House did not react to this public military insubordination and undermining of its diplomacy.

Emptywheel notes that, though on a different issue, the CIA is also in quite open insurrection against the President's decisions:

[I]t alarms me that someone decided it was a good idea to go leak criticisms of a [presidential] Red Phone exchange. It would seem that such an instrument depends on some foundation of trust that, no matter how bad things have gotten, two leaders of nuclear armed states can speak frankly and directly.

Posted by b at 01:34 PM | Comments (120)

December 20, 2016

Open Thread 2016-43

(Those days when you can a piece because the very last source you check for linking completely debunks your arguments ...)

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:46 PM | Comments (215)

December 19, 2016

Syria - Killing Journos Enabled "Media Activist" Domination - Intended Effect?

As pointed out yesterday, a recent tweet series by Club des Cordeliers made some interesting observation about the #StandWithAleppo propaganda campaign:

The "Stand with Aleppo" campaign in the U.S. was started and is propelled by a Democratic party operative who is also CEO of a public relations company and "strategic affairs consultant" in Chicago, Becky Carroll.

The Cordeliere made some additional remarks on anti-Syria propaganda. These about the U.S. directed Information Warfare campaign from inside Syria. This leads me to the thoughts below about the U.S. waged Unconventional Warfare in Syria and how it may be responsible for the elimination of "neutral" journalists on the ground.

We start with Club des Cordeliers remarks on the video campaign coming out of Syria and currently especially out of east-Aleppo:

Cont. reading: Syria - Killing Journos Enabled "Media Activist" Domination - Intended Effect?

Posted by b at 01:15 PM | Comments (126)

December 18, 2016

Sabotage Of East-Aleppo Evacuation Is Part Of A Plan

Update (Dec 19, 0:00 EST):

  • The culprits of the bus burning were "rebels" from Ahrar al-Sham and Jund al Aqsa. Both are favorites of the CIA and Turkey and in Idleb governate aligned with and under the military command of al-Qaeda.
  • After Turkey put heavy pressure on the groups it somewhat controls the evacuation deal is, for now, back on. The first exchange bus run occurrs right now. I expect a new sabotage attempt to jeopardize the deal.
  • Turkish media claim that Shia inhabitants of Fu'a and Kafraya burned the buses or that it is unknown who did it. Video and pictures proudly posted by the Takfiris themselves show that these radical Sunnis did it.

End-Update - original post follows:

The removal of defeated al-Qaeda fighters and their families from east-Aleppo has been on and off for several days now.

The agreement between Turkey and Russia on which the evacuation is based stipulates the parallel evacuation of wounded people from the al-Qaeda besieged Shiite village Fu'a and Kafraya in Idleb province. Note that neither the U.S. nor the (partisan) UN were involved in these negotiations.

The process was interrupted on Friday after al-Qaeda fighters in east-Aleppo opened fire on evacuating civilians. In parallel buses moving into Fu'a and Kafraya to evacuate the wounded were held up by al-Qaeda aligned groups in the area. Opposition claims that Hizbullah fighters was killing people that were evacuating from east-Aleppo were, according to a BBC producer, lies.

The agreement and evacuations were put on again and proceeded this morning after some new negotiations with unknown additional terms. The movements were to take place in strict parallel. Any move out of east-Aleppo on the government provided public buses would only happen at the very same moment that the wounded would move out of Fu'a and Kafraya on similar buses.

Today's evacuations were again sabotaged by al-Qaeda forces:

Several buses en route to evacuate the sick and injured from two government-held villages in Syria's Idlib province have been burned by rebels.

The convoy was travelling to Foah and Kefraya, besieged by rebel fighters.

Pro-government forces are demanding people be allowed to leave the mainly Shia villages in order for the evacuation of east Aleppo to restart.

Thousands of people are waiting to leave in desperate conditions, reports say.

Al-Qaeda gangs themselves provided video of the bus burning. The bus drivers were likely murdered which pretty much guarantees that no further buses will come or go.

I doubt that this is a solely al-Qaeda induced incident. It seems to me that the certain U.S. forces (aka the CIA) are trying to prolong the removal of al-Qaeda from east-Aleppo for their own purpose.

Just yesterday even the Washington Post (again) reported on the years long collusion between the CIA and al-Qaeda in Syria:

The CIA meanwhile continued to push a program that targeted Russia and its Syrian and Iranian allies — and helped shield Jabhat al-Nusra.

There are several "western" groups that want to keep the evacuation stalled to continue their anti-Syrian, anti-Russian and anti-Iran agenda.

The U.S. administration is miffed that it was kept out of the recent negotiations. It wants to demonstrate that any negotiations without its participation will not have any positive result.

The hundreds of "last video from Aleppo" of "Bana" and other propaganda creatures claiming to be there look like a highly coordinated Information Warfare campaign. The "Stand with Aleppo" campaign in the U.S. was started and is propelled by a Democratic party operative who is also CEO of a public relations company and "strategic affairs consultant" in Chicago, Becky Carroll. Its aim is to escalated the situation in Syria.

Meanwhile members of the Syrian opposition, or rather their "western" controllers in the CIA, are now emphasizing Iran, not Russia, as alleged spoiler in Syria. They claim, without any evidence, that Iran or its operatives held up the evacuations. This is part of a plan to preempt announced Trump policies of negotiating an end of the Syria conflict.

The French president Hollande, despised by his people and with an approval rating between 4 and 6%, is calling for another UN Security Council vote over east-Aleppo. Such a vote, demanding UN observers for the evacuation, is intended to hold it up. Observers would need days to be in place and would lack any reasonable protection. Hollande also wants to provide food to the non-existing "civilians" in east-Aleppo while Reuters provides video showing that al-Qaeda and allies in east-Aleppo have horded enough food for years. The idea behind the UNSC resolution is to let it fail and to then go to the UN General Assembly which, under the right pressure, might allow a war by any nation against Syria.

Earlier Hollande ordered the lights at the Eiffel tower to be turned off to mourn the liberation of Aleppo from Takfiris and to make it look like the flag of his defeated al-Qaeda friends. His sponsors in Qatar and Saudi Arabia will reward his principled stand.

With the burning of the buses the evacuation agreement is dead and unlikely to be revived.

The Syrian army should tell al-Qaeda in Aleppo that there will be no longer be any ceasefire. It must make clear that they will now either be interned or killed. The final fighting should be over in a day or two. Meanwhile as much air support as possible should be provided to the defenders at Fu'a and Kafraya.

The Russian military learned the hard way in Grozny that any ceasefire or pause you give to a mostly defeated enemy only helps the enemy and will, in the end, cost more lives on both sides.

Putin and Lavrov have fallen for various negotiation scams with the U.S. that were designed to only hold back attacks on al-Qaeda and allies so that those forces could reorganize and resupply for renewed attacks on government held areas. Kerry's promises to separate "moderates" from al-Qaeda in Syria was repeated over months until he finally claimed that the groups were too "marbled" to be taken apart. U.S. military attacks on Syrian government forces were launched to sabotage any agreement. Similar deceiving delaying tactics are now evident with the negotiated evacuation of east-Aleppo.

Meanwhile the next al-Qaeda stronghold to be attacked by government forces in the governate and city of Idleb can be prepared for defense. With the Syrian army and its allies still busy in Aleppo new arms supplies can arrive in Idleb and new formations can be organized. The British government even sends more troops to train "moderate" al-Qaeda allies.

It is time to end such sorry play. Clean up Aleppo already. Hollande, Samantha Power and other stooges will howl anyway - no matter how the final scene is done.

Posted by b at 11:56 AM | Comments (113)

December 17, 2016

Open Thread 2016-42

News & views ...

Posted by b at 04:48 AM | Comments (167)

December 16, 2016

China Seized An Unmanned U.S. Navy Sub - That Was Possibly Legal

China Just Seized an Unmanned US Navy Sub

China just seized an unmanned underwater vehicle operated by the US Navy, according to reports from Reuters. The seizure occurred in the South China Sea yesterday, and the US has since demanded that the vehicle be returned.

Reuters is reporting that the vehicle was seized just northwest of the Subic Bay, shortly before the USNS Bowditch was about to pick up the unmanned vehicle.

Aside from the details of this case which do not yet know (there is a tit-for-tat ongoing between the U.S. and Chinese Navy in the South-China-Sea) the legal issue involved here could get quite complicate.

Many militaries and commercial shipping companies are working on unmanned ships. But there is no case law and no international law yet that is applicable for unmanned shipping. The Laws of the Sea and the Law of Salvage all consider, to my best knowledge, only manned shipping.

This spring I discussed this problem over lunch with some people working in commercial cargo shipping here in Hamburg. The first plans for unmanned commercial cargo liners had just come up (see pic below). They had no ready answers to the open legal questions.

Rolls-Royce sketch for future unmanned cargo ship - bigger

The Chinese can simply say: "We saw a ship or submarine that seemed to be somewhat erratic in its movements. It did not respond to direct bridge to bridge bull horn calls. No crew was seen on board. We reasonably considered it a danger to international shipping. We salvaged it. If it is yours we will give it back (after a thorough inspection) if you pay us the usual applicable salvage award."

What can the U.S. in a legally straight way respond? How will it respond?

How would a British Navy Captain react if some unannounced unmanned ship came up through the English Channel? He would probably ask: "Is that ship possibly out of control or damaged? How would I know? Is it a danger to the dense general shipping here? Should I salvage it? Should I sink it?"

What would the legal answers be?

It took centuries until all nations agreed to some common Law of the Sea. I wonder how long it will take to make that applicable for unmanned shipping. With probably millions of dollars worth of cargo on such ships the problems could soon escalate.

Is it "pirating" or "salvaging" when someone enters up and takes control of such a ship? I don't know and reading the law hasn't helped.

The Chinese were possibly well within their rights when they took control of the unmanned U.S. Navy sub. But do not expect the U.S. Navy to support that legal position. Until of course the day it captures some unmanned Chinese ship.

Posted by b at 03:14 PM | Comments (55)

December 15, 2016

The "Elite" Coup Of 2016

  • There is an "elite" coup attempt underway against the U.S. President-elect Trump.
  • The coup is orchestrated by the camp of Hillary Clinton in association with the CIA and neoconservative powers in Congress.
  • The plan is to use the CIA's "Russia made Trump the winner" nonsense to swing the electoral college against him. The case would then be bumped up to Congress. Major neocon and warmonger parts of the Republicans could then move the presidency to Clinton or, if that fails, put Trump's vice president-elect Mike Pence onto the throne. The regular bipartisan war business, which a Trump presidency threatens to interrupt, could continue.
  • Should the coup succeed violent insurrections in the United States are likely to ensue with unpredictable consequences.

The above theses are thus far only a general outlay. No general plan has been published. The scheme though is pretty obvious by now. However, the following contains some speculation.

The priority aim is to deny Trump the presidency. He is too independent and a danger for several power centers within the ruling U.S. power circles. The selection of Tillerson as new Secretary of State only reinforces this (Prediction: Bolton will not get the Deputy position.)  Tillerson is for profitable stability, not for regime change adventures. The institutional Trump enemies are:

  • The CIA which has become the Central Assassination Agency under the Bush and Obama administrations. Huge parts of its budgets depend on a continuation of the war on Syria and the drone assassination campaigns in Afghanistan, Pakistan and elsewhere. Trump's more isolationist policies would likely end these campaigns and the related budget troughs.
  • The weapons industry which could lose its enormous sales to its major customers in the Persian Gulf should a President Trump reduce U.S. interference in the Middle East and elsewhere.
  • The neoconservatives and Likudniks who want the U.S. as Israel's weapon to strong arm the Middle East to the Zionists' benefit.
  • The general war hawks, military and "humanitarian interventionists" to whom any reduction of the U.S. role as primary power in the world is anathema to their believes.

The current CIA director Brennan, a leading figure of the CIA torture program and Obama consigliere, is in the Clinton/anti-Trump camp. The former CIA heads Hayden and Panetta are public Clinton supporters as is torturer king and former CIA deputy director Michael Morell.

It is thereby no wonder that the CIA is leading the anti-Russian campaign. Its task now is to implant the idea in the U.S. public that Russian intervention skewed the U.S. election towards Trump. The purpose is the delegitimization of the Trump victory in the eyes of the media and public but even more so in the eyes of the electors within the electoral college.

Cont. reading: The "Elite" Coup Of 2016

Posted by b at 01:56 PM | Comments (259)

December 13, 2016

MSM Create #Fakenews Storm As Rebel Aleppo Vanishes

I have not ever experienced a #fakenews onslaught as today. Every mainstream media and agency seems to have lost all inhibitions and is reporting any rumor claim regarding the liberation of east-Aleppo as fact.

Consider this BBC headline and opener:

Aleppo battle: UN says 82 civilians shot on the spot

Syrian pro-government forces have been entering homes in eastern Aleppo and killing those inside, including women and children, the UN says.

The UN's human rights office said it had reliable evidence that in four areas 82 civilians were shot on sight.

1. A UN human rights office does not exists. What the BBC means is the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR). That commissioner is the Jordanian Prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a Hashemite educated in the UK and U.S. and a relative of the Jordanian dictator king. That is relevant to note as Jordan is heavily involved in the supporting the "rebels" against the Syrian government.

2. The office has not "said" that "82 civilians were shot" or other such gruesome stuff. It said that there were "sources" that have "reports" that such happened. From its press statement today:

Multiple sources have reports that tens of civilians were shot dead yesterday in al-Ahrar Square in al-Kallaseh neighbourhood, and also in Bustan al-Qasr, by Government forces and their allies, including allegedly the Iraqi al-Nujabaa armed group.

The OHCHR claiming that "multiple sources have reports" of XYZ, without revealing neither the "sources" nor the provenance of the alleged "reports" of XYZ, certainly does not translate into "The UN said XYZ happened."

I find it irresponsible that the OHCHR even mentions such unverified stuff in its press conferences. But it is even more irresponsible that the BBC then uses a "UN says ..." headline and intro about such rumors especially without any further qualification in the rest of its "reporting".

There is also this recent report that cats were killed in Aleppo.

#BREAKING - Activists: All residents and guests of last cat shelter in Aleppo killed in Hezbollah gas attack.

The spokesman of the OHCHR has been notified of the above report. We are now awaiting the BBC headline: "UN says Hezbollah gassed last cats in Aleppo".

The BBC is not the only #fakenews outlet in this. Indeed it seems that news agencies seek "safety in the pack" by all reporting the same nonsense through each and every channel.

Again - the UN only says that it knows of such reports. It does not verify or vouches for these. Still the usual "humanitarian" influence operations, like Amnesty International, then join in on the "UN Says ..." falsehoods. Thousands of news outlets and websites copy from the fake agency reports and "humanitarian" outlets and try to sensationalize their take even further. Its a total disinformation mess.

But there are also the wonders of Aleppo.

Cont. reading: MSM Create #Fakenews Storm As Rebel Aleppo Vanishes

Posted by b at 11:57 AM | Comments (172)

December 12, 2016

#Fakenews Alert: "China Flies Nuclear Bomber In Response To Trump's Call ..."

A few recent headlines of #fakenews:

The above is #fakenews because China does not currently deploy any airlaunched nuclear weapons. It is not known or thought to have nuclear bombs. All its estimated 260 nuclear warheads (the U.S. and Russia each have more than 7,000) are presumably for its land and sea based missiles.

China is believed to work on a short- to medium-range, airlaunched cruise missiles that potentially could be nuclear armed. So far the U.S. Air Force does not believe that any of these are deployed and does not list them as part of a potential enemy force.

The relevant regular paper for such facts is Chinese nuclear forces, 2016 (pdf) by Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris published by the Bulletin of Nuclear Scientists:

[T]he 2016 Pentagon report includes for the first time a discussion of a potential nuclear role for China’s bombers. It says the PLA air force was assigned a “strategic deterrence” mission in 2012, although that could also reflect the introduction of conventional land-attack cruise missiles on the modified H-6K bomber. But the Pentagon report states that Chinese media reports and writings "suggest China might eventually develop a nuclear bomber capability. [...]” (US Defense Department 2016, 38).
[,..]
We do not believe that China's bombers currently have an active nuclear mission.

For historic and deeper background of the non-existence of operational Chinese airlaunched nukes see this tweet stream by ArmsControlWonk Jeffrey Lewis.

China may fly some medium range Hongzha-6 bombers around its nearby ocean. These birds are an updated version of a Russian type developed in the late 1950s(!). Flying is what military pilots do to train. But those bombers are not likely to have anything to do with nuclear whatever. What does "nuclear capable" bomber actually mean when one has nothing "nuclear" to put on those bombers? Are we to believe that the U.S. will provide the nukes for these?

According to Fox News and NBC, China flew such bomber on November 25 (Dec 5, 6 reps above), well BEFORE the Trump phone call. It also flew the bombers AFTER (Dec 9 rep) the Trump's phone call with the Taiwanese government. Indeed it regularly flies these bombers. The sightseeing flight had thereby nothing at all to do with any Trump call. Correlating the call with those flights is bogus spin.

The headlines above are all nonsense. There is nothing "nuclear" and the flights of outdated bombers have nothing to do with any Trump call to wherever. They are #fakenews just as most of the other news we get is:

News is fake. The higher the stakes for the ruling classes, the more you can be certain the mainstream news about it will be as fake as fuck and conversely, reports deemed fake by those same fakers should be duly considered on their merits.

Posted by b at 01:35 PM | Comments (73)

Syria Roundup: Government Liberates Aleppo - In Revenge(?) ISIS Retakes Palmyra

The assault by Syrian government forces and its allies on Takfiri forces in east-Aleppo continues. Yesterday the heavily fortified Sheikh Saeed quarter was taken in addition to Karam Da`da`, Ferdous, Bab al Maqam and Jallum. The al-Qaeda led terrorists are down to some 5 square kilometer, five city quarters, roughly 2% of the area they held when the siege on them started. They may give up today or tomorrow. Huge amounts of foreign ammunition, food and medicines were found in the quarters the Takfiris retreated from.

bigger

The U.S. has given up on any relief mission for them. U.S. Secretary of State Kerry is down to begging the Russians to let some of his friends escape: Kerry urges Russia to ‘show a little grace’ and allow Aleppo evacuation.

Winning back the economic capital of the country, a city which the Turkish wannabe-Sultan Erdogan wanted to capture and incorporate into his neo-Ottoman empire, is the biggest victory the Syrian government achieved in this war. The whole area retaken in and around Aleppo is some 18,000 square kilometers - that is a larger area than the whole countries of Qatar or Lebanon.

There were discussions between Syria and its allies from Russia, Iran and Lebanon on how to proceed from here. It was decided to set a priority in the west towards the al-Qaeda occupied Idleb instead of the mostly ISIS occupied east-Syria. A two front war in the west and east would be too risky and require additional forces that are not (yet) available. Two reasons for this decision are the economic importance of Idleb governate and the continuity of the government held western part of "useful Syria". There are other forces, Turkish, Kurdish and some Arab U.S. proxies, that have declared war on ISIS and shall bleed to eradicate it in the east.

Cont. reading: Syria Roundup: Government Liberates Aleppo - In Revenge(?) ISIS Retakes Palmyra

Posted by b at 09:18 AM | Comments (105)

December 11, 2016

Open Thread 2016-41

News & views ...

Posted by b at 10:23 AM | Comments (131)

December 10, 2016

What Are The Hearsay Leaks About "Russian Election Hacking" Attempting To Achieve?

UPDATE: Dec 11 1:00am EST

Yesterday I noted below:

[T]he FBI also disagrees with at least parts of the alleged CIA conclusion ... That is important because the FBI, not the CIA, is responsible to investigate cyber related crimes within the U.S.

The Washington Post, which yesterday claimed a united view of the relevant agencies with only "minor disagreements", today caught up with Moon of Alabama. The headline:

FBI and CIA give differing accounts to lawmakers on Russia’s motives in 2016 hacks

The FBI official’s remarks to the lawmakers on the House Intelligence Committee were, in comparison, “fuzzy” and “ambiguous,” suggesting to those in the room that the bureau and the [Central Intelligence A]gency weren’t on the same page, the official said.

WaPo still asserts that it was a "Russian hack" from which the election relevant emails and other papers leaked. No evidence, none at all, has been presented to support that claim. Former UK Ambassador Craig Murray also strongly disagrees with the CIA claims:

As Julian Assange has made crystal clear, the leaks did not come from the Russians. As I have explained countless times, they are not hacks, they are insider leaks – there is a major difference between the two.

Murray claims to know the leaker, an insider person, and asks why the CIA and FBI, who claim to know the person related to Russia who leaked the papers, have then not arrested him or her.

End Update

The White House ordered on Friday a full review if and/or how Russia somehow intervened inappropriately in the U.S. election. It is unclear if and how much of such an review, to be produced by January 20, would be made public.

A few hours later senior members of Congress, aka "U.S. officials", leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times about the alleged content of a CIA assessment that, they claim, says that the Russian government through some third party hacked the Democratic National Committee and maybe also the Republican committee and officials and leaked some of the hacked stuff to Wikileaks and others.

The real claims of the CIA assessment are not known. Neither is any evidence known on which an assessment is based on. All claims about the alleged CIA report WaPo and NYT report on are hearsay - unverified whisper by anonymous people. Some within the CIA seem to disagree with at least parts of the assessment. WaPo writes:

A senior U.S. official said there were minor disagreements among intelligence officials about the agency’s assessment, in part because some questions remain unanswered.

According to someone talking to the NYT the FBI also disagrees with at least parts of the alleged CIA conclusion:

One senior government official, who had been briefed on an F.B.I. investigation into the matter, said that while there were attempts to penetrate the Republican committee’s systems, they were not successful.

That is important because the FBI, not the CIA, is responsible to investigate cyber related crimes within the U.S. .

Glenn Greenwald and Mary Wheeler have written good pieces on these leaks from the CIA: Anonymous Leaks to the WashPost About the CIA’s Russia Beliefs Are No Substitute for Evidence and Unpacking the New CIA Leak: Don’t Ignore the Aluminum Tube Footnote. I have little to add to their writing. They note that the CIA and its former and current leaders are known to be very much on the Clinton side while the FBI is more neutral if not even Trump orientated.

When the head of the Intelligence Community James Clapper made a statement about the alleged Russian hacks some took that as confirmation that such hacks had actually happened. But Clapper's statement  used many weasel words and may have actually said the opposite (see his statement and my translation at the end of this piece). He explicitly made no attribution for any of the potential hacks.

It was the U.S. Department of Homeland Security that tried to hack the election systems of the state of Georgia. How do we know it was not them hacking and leaking the DNC papers?

One minor reason for the leaks now may be that "the Russians did it" exculpates Clinton from being a lousy candidate running a lousy campaign.

But one can think of three bigger reasons why these leaks about the CIA assessment are now happening:

  1. To preempt the results of the official investigation Obama has now ordered. Any diversion of the official results from the alleged CIA assessment results will need extensive public explanation.
  2. To swing the electoral college to vote for Clinton instead of Trump. This would be unprecedented and a coup contradicting the will of the voters. It would lead to political chaos and more. But many Clinton partisans are pressing in that direction and such a dirty business would not be out of character for Hillary Clinton.
  3. Even if neither 1 nor 2 can be achieved the propaganda effect of these leaks will be to dampen any movement of a Trump administration towards more friendly relations with Russia. Any such move by Trump will be responded with a chorus "but Russia hacked our election" even though there has been zero evidence or proof produced that such was indeed the case.

In response to the leaks Trump pointed out that the CIA lied about WMDs in Iraq. That is a decisive point. Indeed the CIA lied about lots of stuff over the years and one must assume that anything that is following a "the CIA says" introduction is a lie or at least an obfuscation.

The true danger, in my view, lies in possible reason 2 for the leaks. If enough delegates in the electoral college can somehow be bribed or otherwise convinced to flip towards electing Clinton we will see violent riots in the streets of many U.S. cities. What would follow thereafter is unpredictable.

Posted by b at 01:24 PM | Comments (162)

December 09, 2016

Official Fake News Numbers Will Have Serious Consequences

The U.S. has killed 50,000 out of 20-30,000 ISIS fighters.

US official: 50,000 Islamic State killed in wars to date, AP, Dec 9 2016

WASHINGTON — A senior US military official for the first time says the US-led coalition has killed 50,000 Islamic State militants in the last two years in Iraq and Syria.

The official said it was a conservative estimate, but it’s a bit more than what others have stated before.

CIA: ISIS has 20,000 to 31,500 fighters, The Hills, Sep 11 2014

The CIA estimates the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) is made up of anywhere between 20,000-31,500 fighters, according to reports Thursday night.

The agency previously put the number at 10,000 but revised it upward after stronger recruitment since June, according to CIA spokesman Ryan Trapani, who was quoted in The Associated Press.

While ISIS forces come to existence seemingly out of nowhere only to get killed by the U.S. military, civilians in east-Aleppo vanish into the nowhere whenever the Syrian government forces take new areas.

UN diplomat offers to personally escort 900 al-Qaeda fighters out of Aleppo in hope of ending bombing, Telegraph, Oct 6 2016

Speaking in Geneva [UN envoy Staffan de Mistura] said that around 900 members of al-Nusra were still in Aleppo and he asked the jihadists to “look at my eyes” and decide if they were prepared to stay in the city even if it meant more casualties among the 275,000 civilians in the area.

“A thousand of you are deciding on the destiny of 275,000 civilians,” he said. “If you did decide to leave [Aleppo] with dignity and with your weapons, to Idlib or anywhere you wanted to go, I personally am ready physically to accompany you.”

Rebels defiant as Syrian army nears Aleppo's Old City, Reuters, Dec 4 2016

The U.N. estimates that close to 30,000 people have been displaced by the latest fighting, 18,000 to government-held areas, a further 8,500 to the Kurdish-controlled neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud and the rest within rebel-held areas.

U.N. envoy Staffan de Mistura has said more than 100,000 people may still be in the rebel-held area.

The opposition Aleppo council claims that there are 150,000 left in the "rebel"-held area. Official UN refugee numbers say that some 26,500 fled from east-Aleppo to the government controlled areas. Another 8-9,000 fled yesterday and today. The Takfiri held areas have shrunk to some 4% of their original extension in east Aleppo. If the original Mistura numbers were correct those must by now be the most densely inhabited area of the world.

But somehow those numbers are now inoperative.

275,000 civilians - 35,000 refugees = 240,000. But there are only 100,000 to 150,000 left in east-Aleppo? Where are the 90,000-140,000 people missing from those numbers? Where did they go?

Equally false numbers were used by the UN and other with regard to Mardaya and Daraya.

Here are more officially faked news and numbers:

IDF map of Hezbollah positions revealed as fabrication, Times of Israel, Dec 9 2016

A map of southern Lebanon released this week by the Israeli military that ostensibly showed Hezbollah positions, infrastructure and armaments along a section of the Israeli border was a fabrication, the army admitted Thursday.

The map, tweeted by the army Tuesday, appeared to feature over 200 towns and villages, which the IDF said the organization had turned into its operations bases, along with over 10,000 potential targets for Israeli strikes in the event of a new war with the terror group.
...
According to a Channel 2 report Tuesday, the illustrative map has been shown to practically every foreign diplomat visiting Israel ...

The IDF spokesperson posted the map with the remark: "This is a war crime". But the map is fake and as it claims that Hizbullah positions are near villages and cities it was though up as propaganda cover for the future IDF war crime of bombing those build up areas.

In reality Hizbullah takes special care to position its missile forces away from any settlements.

More uncovering of official fake news just from today's feed:

British Govt-Funded Outlet Offered Journalist $17,000 a Month to Produce Propaganda for Syrian Rebels and The incredible story behind the Syrian protest singer everyone thought was dead.

The BBC, CNN, Guardian, Telegraph, AP and others had reported that the "regime" had brutally murdered the "protest singer". Even some corpse was shown but that had been murdered and brutalized by the "rebels". The singer is alive and living in Spain.

The above numbers and stories are real fake news used as instrument of western governments and allegedly neutral international organizations. Unlike the inconvenient news spread by this and other "propaganda" sites they are depicted as truthful by mainstream media even when they are lies. Only by chance will they later be exposed.

I doubt that people will, over time, continue to fall for such nonsense. Information availability has increased. The people can get better informed with only little effort. The continued use of such false numbers and facts will lead to further deterioration of the trustworthiness of mainstream news and government institutions. In consequence the people will look, and vote, for outsiders to govern them. Radicals on the right of the political spectrum will gain more from this trend than the dispersed forces on the left.

Those predictable consequence may be consistent with a general political plan.

Posted by b at 06:50 AM | Comments (88)

December 08, 2016

Russia Today Plagiarizes Moon of Alabama - Correspondence - Act I

The German edition of the Russia Today website, RT Deutsch, evidently plagiarized a piece I had written for and published on this site.

I have since communicated with the director of RT Deutsch, Ivan Rodionov, via Twitter. The responses were slow and uncommitted. Today Rodionov, as well as the author of the piece, Mr. Rupp, contacted me and denied that the obvious plagiarism has happened at all.

Meanwhile I have been contacted by other authors who claim to have also been plagiarized or ripped off by RT English and/or RT Deutsch. The authors in question are, like me, generally positive towards Russia and RT.

Indeed this site has been labeled a "Russian propaganda outlet" by U.S. media and by the Ukrainian-American fascists behind the censorship advocates at ProPornOT.

This issue thereby obviously not an "anti-Russian" action but simple concern of serious authors about their rights.

I will write about the other authors cases' in a later piece.

The plagiarizing issue with RT is likely to escalate. I decided to publish all relevant communication on this blog to keep the readers informed and to be able to let others know how RT in general, and RT Deutsch especially, is handling such issues.

Mr Ivan Rodionov contacted me on public Twitter today. Here is the whole public thread including his tweets, my responses and the relevant context:

Cont. reading: Russia Today Plagiarizes Moon of Alabama - Correspondence - Act I

Posted by b at 01:40 PM | Comments (130)

December 07, 2016

As Regime Change By Takifiris Fails - GCC Lobbyists Call For U.S. Occupation of Upper Mesopotamia

The Aleppo battle is ending. Syria will win the war against foreign supported Takfiris as will Iraq. That requires new plans to implement the original aims of the war's instigators and sponsors.

This is a map of the east-Aleppo cauldron 2 days ago.

Map by @NatDefFor - bigger

This is the map as of this morning.

Map by @NatDefFor - bigger

Since this morning another part of the "rebel" held area in the south east of the cauldron, the Sheik Sa'ed quarters, has been liberated by Syrian government forces.

It is expected that the whole al-Qaeda "rebel" held area will be liberated and cleared of Takfiris as early as this weekend. Militants still there are offered to leave or to be - inevitably - killed.

Cont. reading: As Regime Change By Takifiris Fails - GCC Lobbyists Call For U.S. Occupation of Upper Mesopotamia

Posted by b at 02:11 PM | Comments (130)

 
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