Trump Rejects Neocon Turncoats - Russia Launches Aleppo Campaign
Wikipedia: Eliot A. Cohen
... co-founded the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), which was a center for prominent neoconservatives. He has been a member of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee, a committee of civilians and retired military officers that the U.S. Secretary of Defense may call upon for advice, that was instituted during the administration of President George W. Bush. He was put on the board after acquaintance Richard Perle put forward his name. Cohen has referred to the War on Terrorism as “World War IV”. In the run-up to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, he was a member of Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, a group of prominent persons who pressed for an invasion.
Cohen in WaPo May 3 2016:
It’s over. Donald Trump, a man utterly unfit for the position by temperament, values and policy preferences, will be the Republican nominee for president. He will run against Hillary Clinton, who is easily the lesser evil ...
Cohen in the NYT on May 17 2016:
Mr. Trump’s temperament, his proclivity for insult and deceit and his advocacy of unpredictability would make him a presidential disaster — especially in the conduct of foreign policy, where clarity and consistency matter.
Hillary Clinton is far better: She believes in the old consensus and will take tough lines on China and, increasingly, Russia.
Cohen in The American Interest on November 10 2016 (immediately after Trump won):
Trump may be better than we think. He does not have strong principles about much, which means he can shift. He is clearly willing to delegate legislation to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. And even abroad, his instincts incline him to increase U.S. strength—and to push back even against Russia if, as will surely happen, Putin double-crosses him. My guess is that sequester gets rolled back, as do lots of stupid regulations, and experiments in nudging and nagging Americans to behave the way progressives think they should.
Cohen on Twitter November 15 2016
Eliot A Cohen @EliotACohen
After exchange w Trump transition team, changed my recommendation: stay away. They're angry, arrogant, screaming "you LOST!" Will be ugly.
Retweets 3,719 Likes 3,204
5:07 AM - 15 Nov 2016
I find the above very funny. How could that turncoat think he would be greeted by the Trump organization with anything but derision? Cohen believed he and his ilk would be welcome with candies and roses after insulting Trump in all major media? Who is the arrogant one in the above?
Oh, by the way. Here is a headline from October 2013: President Obama to Republicans: I won. Deal with it. I do not remember Cohen, or anyone else, calling that "arrogant".
While the papers are full of (badly) informed rumors about who will get this or that position in a Trump administration let's keep in mind that 90% of such rumors are just self promotions by people like Cohen who shill for the rumored job. That is why I will not write about John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani as coming Secretary of State. Both are possible (unqualified) candidates. But others are just as likely to get that position. We will only know who it is after the official release.
Meanwhile Trump yesterday had a phonecall with the Russian President Putin. They discussed bilateral relations, Syria and fighting terrorism. Today the Russian and Syrian military started the long expected big campaign against the "moderate" al-Qaeda in east-Aleppo city and Idleb governate. Air strikes on east-Aleppo had been held back for 28 days. Today missiles and cruise missiles were launched against fixed targets and dozens of carrier and land launched airplanes attacked Nusra position on the various front and in its rear. Long range bombers flown from Russia joined the campaign. Trump seems to have voiced no objections to this offensive.
The Russian military has upped its air defense in Syria. Additional to the S-400 system around its airport in Latakia seven S-300 systems were deployed as a screen against U.S. cruise missile attacks. These are joined by rehabilitated Syrian S-200 system and Pantsyr S-1 short range systems for point defense. This should be enough to deter any stupid idea the Pentagon hawks, or dumb neocons like Eliot Cohen, might have.
Why Polls Fail
Today I discussed the U.S. election with a friend who studied and practices statistics. I asked about the failure of the polls in this years presidential election. Her explanation: The polls are looking at future events but are biased by the past. The various companies and institutions adjust the polls they do by looking at their past prognoses and the real results of the past event. They then develop correcting factors, measured from the past, and apply it to new polls. If that correcting factor is wrong, possibly because of structural changes in the electorate, then the new polls will be corrected with a wrong factor and thus miss the real results.
Polls predicting the last presidential election were probably off by 3 or 5 points towards the Republican side. The pollsters then corrected the new polls for the Clinton-Trump race in favor of the Democratic side by giving that side an additional 3-5 points. They thereby corrected the new polls by the bias that was poll inherent during the last race.
But structural changes, which we seem to have had during this election, messed up the result. Many people who usually vote for the Democratic ticket did not vote for Clinton. The "not Clinton" progressives, the "bernie bros" and "deplorables" who voted Obama in the last election stayed home, voted for a third party candidate or even for Trump. The pollsters did not anticipate such a deep change. Thus their correction factor was wrong. Thus the Clinton side turned out to be favored in polls but not in the relevant votes.
Real polling, which requires in depth-in person interviews with the participants, does not really happen anymore. It is simply to expensive. Polling today is largely done by telephone with participants selected by some database algorithm. It is skewed by many factors which require many corrections. All these corrections have some biases that do miss structural changes in the underlying population.
The Clinton camp, the media and the pollsters missed what we had anticipated as "not Clinton". A basic setting in a part of the "left" electorate that remember who she is and what she has done and would under no circumstances vote for her. Clinton herself pushed the "bernie bros" and "deplorables" into that camp. This was a structural change that was solely based in the personality of the candidate.
If Sanders would have been the candidate the now wrong poll correction factor in favor of Democrats would likely have been a correct one. The deep antipathy against Hillary Clinton in a decisive part of the electorate was a factor that the pseudo-science of cheap telephone polls could not catch. More expensive in depth interviews of the base population used by a pollster would probably have caught this factor and adjusted appropriately.
There were some twenty to thirty different entities doing polls during this election cycle. Five to ten polling entities, with better budgets and preparations, would probably have led to better prognoses. Some media companies could probably join their poll budgets, split over multiple companies today, to have a common one with a better analysis of its base population.One that would have anticipated "not Hillary".
Unless that happens all polls will have to be read with a lot of doubt. What past bias is captured in these predictions of the future? What are their structural assumptions and are these still correct? What structural change might have happened?
Even then polls and their interpretation will always only capture a part of the story. Often a sound grasp of human and cultural behavior will allow for better prediction as all polls. As my friend the statistician say: "The best prognostic instrument I have even today is my gut."
Nusra On The Run - Trump Induces First Major Policy Change On Syria
The people loyal to the Syrian government are happy with Donald Trump winning the U.S. election:
At the passport counter, a Syrian officer’s face lit up when he saw an American traveler.
“Congratulations on your new president!” he exclaimed, giving an energetic thumbs up. Mr. Trump, he said, would be “good for Syria.”
The first significant step of the new administration comes while Trump is not even in offices. Obama, selfishly concerned with his historic legacy, suddenly makes a 180 degree turn and starts to implement Trump polices. Lets consider the initial position:
Asked about Aleppo in an October debate with Clinton, Trump said it was a humanitarian disaster but the city had "basically" fallen. Clinton, he said, was talking in favor of rebels without knowing who they were.
The rebels fighting Assad in western Syria include nationalists fighting under the Free Syrian Army banner, some of them trained in a CIA-backed program, and jihadists such as the group formerly known as the al Qaeda-linked Nusra Front.
The Obama administration, through the CIA led by Saudi asset John Brennan, fed weapons, training and billions of dollars to "moderate rebels". These then turned around (vid) and either gave the CIA gifts to al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al Nusra) or joined it themselves. The scheme was no secret at all and Russia as well as Syria pointed this out several times. The Russian foreign Minister Lavrov negotiated with the U.S. Secretary of State Kerry who promised to separate the "moderate rebels" from al-Qaeda. But Kerry never delivered. Instead he falsely accuse Russia of committing atrocities that never happened. The CIA kept the upper hand within the Obama administration and continued its nefarious plans.
That changed the day the president-elect Trump set foot into the White House. While Obama met Trump in the oval office, new policies, prepared beforehand, were launched. The policies were held back until after the election and would likely not have been revealed or implemented if Clinton had won.
The U.S. declared that from now on it will fight against al-Qaeda in Syria:
President Obama has ordered the Pentagon to find and kill the leaders of an al-Qaeda-linked group in Syria that the administration had largely ignored until now and that has been at the vanguard of the fight against the Syrian government, U.S. officials said.
That shift is likely to accelerate once President-elect Donald Trump takes office. ... possibly in direct cooperation with Moscow.
U.S. officials who opposed the decision to go after al-Nusra’s wider leadership warned that the United States would effectively be doing the Assad government's bidding by weakening a group on the front line of the counter-Assad fight.
Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and other Pentagon leaders initially resisted the idea of devoting more Pentagon surveillance aircraft and armed drones against al-Nusra.
al-Qaeda hears of Clinton's defeat, haz a sad (illustrative pic)
Ash Carter is, together with John Brennan, the major anti-Russian force in the Obama administration. He is a U.S. weapon industry promoter and the anti-Russia campaign, which helps to sell U.S. weapons to NATO allies in Europe, is largely of his doing. He saw al-Qaeda in Syria as a welcome proxy force against Russia.
But Obama has now shut down that policy. We are not yet sure that this is for good but the above Washington Post account is not the only signal:
Next Steps: Clean Up The Democratic Party, Oppose Trump
People have now learned and accepted that Trump is inevitably the new president of the United States. They try to figure out what that means. We do not know, neither does anyone else. A lot of rumors and speculation are circling of who will take up this or that job in a Trump administration. These rumors are mostly created by those who would like that job, or their personal lobbies. They should be ignored.
The mainstream media is barely able to issue a mea culpa for their extreme pro-Clinton campaign and total failure of reporting the real state of the union. It is now looking for obfuscations like claiming no one could have gotten it right. That is a cheap excuse for incompetence.
It is astonishing that THE media outlet that did the most to shine lights on Clinton is ignored in any of the main stream after-election reporting. I am talking of Wikileaks and Julian Assange who did their very best, under high personal risk, to report the truth about Clinton's and the DNC's utter corruption. A big thank you to them!
First Thoughts On The "Not-Hillary" Election Results
My "not Hillary" hunch for the election was right. That is, I believe, how Trump won. No so much by gaining genuine votes but by taking them from the crappiest candidate the Democrats could send into the race. This was not a "white vote". Trump did better with black (+5) and latino (+2) voters than Romney. Racism does not explain that. Clinton promised more wars. Those who would have to fight them on the ground rejected that position.
The people voted against corruption, against international warmongering, against attacks of the culture of their life and against Zionist and Arab potentate manipulation. In short - they voted against Hillary.
The media with their outright and widespread manipulation and one sided reporting against Trump and for Clinton lost too. People did not believe the partisan crap that fact-checked Trump on every minor issue but hardly reported on the huge, huge scandals and corruption Wikileaks revealed about the Clintons. Fact-checkers ain't a good weapon in a culture war. The people want authenticity - lying is not seen as bad - if it is fairy open and authentic. Clinton is not authentic even when she tells the truth. The polls, but the one of the LA Times, turned out to be systematic manipulation.
The leading politicians in Europe will crap their pants. Nearly all but Putin bet heavily on Clinton. The European media were also strongly pro Clinton, even more so than in the U.S. There was zero reporting about Trump's real political positions and support. Only tiny bits about Clinton's corruption were revealed on the back pages. They always believe what the NYT writes is the essence of U.S. thinking. It is far from it. No one but a few east-coast party goers and the NYT cares about some 16 year old girl, who thinks she is "transsexual" and wants to use a men's public toilet. The average people think that such craziness deserves zero attention if not a hefty kick in the ass. Pro-migration and other political correctness movements in Europe will have a difficult stand now. They can no longer work against the instincts of the people by pointing to the soothing, fake words of an Obama or Clinton.
The Democratic party failed. The outright corruption of the party heads, who pushed Sanders out to move Clinton in by manipulating the primaries, blocked the natural development that went on at the base. They even wanted Trump as a candidate because they though Clinton could easily beat him. They were totally detached from real life. I am sure that post-mortem analysis will show that many, many potential pro-democratic voters were just disgusted and stayed at home or voted for a third party. The establishment of the Republican party were no better. They failed their voters just as much by shunning Trump and working for Clinton. All the neo-cons that flocked to Clinton will now scramble to get back to Trump. They will have little chance.
But the election also created huge new dangers. People around Trump, including his vice-president, are not sane realist but fairly extreme ideologues. Trump himself isn't. He is, in my estimate, fairly pragmatic. The Republicans also won the Senate and House. There is a danger that extreme policies will be implemented with huge and terrible long-term consequences. But remember that Obama had the same chance in his first two years of his Presidency. He never used it. From a progressive view he blew it.
Winning back the House and Senate in two years is a must for anyone with some middle-of-the-road thinking.
I believe that this result is good for Syria and the non-Jihadi and non-Zonist Middle East. Al-Qaeda in Syria will have a sad. Their main supporters leave the stage. The result is likely good for Europe including for Russia. It is bad for economic equality and other important issues in the United States and elsewhere. But would Clinton have been really better on these?
I for one feel mightily eased (with a not-so-small dose of Schadenfreude). The U.S. voters knocked over a chessboard that brought war and misery to many people. We do not know how the new game will look, but I think there is a fair chance now that it, in total, will be somewhat less devastating for the global good.
Syria - Waiting For The Next Moves
We had expected a Syrian Army "Election Campaign", a large size attack on Al Bab or east-Aleppo. That did not happen despite the right "assets" being in place and I have heard no reason yet why it was delayed. The Russian aircraft carrier group, which was expected last Friday along the Syrian coast, will only arrive this evening. It must have intentionally slowed its travel. There has been no single Syrian or Russian airstrike on east-Aleppo in last 21 days. "Rebel" shelling of west-Aleppo has not stopped for a day and caused many casualties. That will now change. One Russia source claims the Russian fleet will engage immediately. NOTAMs, NOtices To Air Men, about imminent operations on Syria's west-coast have been released. The declared areas and times of operation correspond to a campaign, not a single strike.
After some 12 days of fighting, the second large al-Qaeda campaign to break the siege on east-Aleppo by attacking the south western side of west-Aleppo completely failed. While the first round nearly achieved a break through but was then contained the second attack was only a alibi attempt which never made any progress towards its claimed aim. The Syrian army has recaptured the housing project 1070 and will soon have cleaned all other areas that were shortly in the hands of the Jihadis. The loss in material and men for the Jihadis were immense. The Syrian army has finally learned how to defend against suicide vehicle bombs: have adequate weapons ready in the front line to kill them on their approaches. Of nearly 20 such bomb runs only 3 or 4 reached their targets and losses from those were less sever than from earlier bombs. The Jihadis and their "western" media and "expert" proxies seem to have given up on east-Aleppo. There is no sign that another break through attempt will be launched.
The Obama administration has announced a campaign to encircle Raqqa in center-east Syria. It bought help from the Kurdish YPG to achieve that and has thereby excluded a Turkish campaign. The taking of Raqqa is supposed to be left to some Arab troops in cooperation with the Kurds. But those Arab troops do not yet exist and hiring and training has not even begun. The whole announcement of the beginning of a Raqqa campaign was obviously not serious. The Kurds will take a few small towns and the U.S. will temporarily protect them from sever Turkish interference in their areas in Syria. Raqqa will not be attacked before next years spring.
The Turks are now miffed (though silently relieved) that they were not asked to take part in the Raqqa campaign. They have been promised that they may help to "develop a long-term plan for seizing, holding and governing Raqqa". That means exactly nothing. But the Turks never had a real chance to go and take Raqqa. It is too far from their borders and the imponderables are too big.
In the area around Damascus the Ghouta rebel hold out has been split and reduced to small kettles which will be eliminated within a few days. The Syrian capital is safe for now and its people can live a rather normal life without fear of being killed in the next minute by some random grenade. A significant number of troops will become available when all the small rebel areas around the capital are gone. Those can be used in future campaigns. The frontline strength of the Syrian army in critical areas will increase and its maneuver force will become more powerful and efficient.
The momentum in all of west Syria is on the side of the Syrian government. The Jihadists are more and more concentrated in Idleb governate and city. When the surrounded hold outs in its back are eliminated the Syrian army can launch an assault on them. The east is complicate. Deir Ezzor is still surrounded by ISIS and will likely be attacked again soon. Reinforcements for the defenders would be welcome.
The Kurds are playing games and change alliances every now and than. For the time they again bet on the U.S. - a hope that has already been disappointed several times. The U.S. will let them fall as soon as it is convenient. The Kurds will learn again that such a policy does not bear tasteful fruits. There is a common Turkish and Syrian interest in cutting them back to size. In a year from now we may see new surprise alliances in that area.
All the positive developments we have seen especially in west-Syria may be for naught if a new U.S. president decides to throw up the chess board and risk World War III by attacking Syrian and Russian positions. Its about the most stupid thing Washington could do and has thereby a good chance to happen. I hope that the Pentagon will lecture the politicians of the very real consequences such a move would have.
Open Thread (NOT U.S. Election) 2016-38
News & views NOT related to the U.S. election ...
(Use thread below this one for election news & views)
U.S. Election Thread 2016-06
Whatever there is to say about the election ...
Are We To Love Al-Qaeda Or Fear It?
Even as Syria and Russia threatened an all-out assault on the rebel side of Aleppo, saying Friday was the last chance for people there to exit, they had been unable to put down a counteroffensive by a mix of Qaeda-linked and United States-backed insurgent groups.
Three Qaeda-linked suicide bombers attacked a military position with explosive-packed personnel carriers on Thursday, ...
Sources told CBS News senior investigative producer Pat Milton that U.S. intelligence has alerted joint terrorism task forces that al Qaeda could be planning attacks in three states for Monday.
Instead, they are trying to break the siege, with Qaeda-linked groups and those backed by the United States working together — the opposite of what Russia has demanded.
The source said there has been pressure on al Qaeda and its affiliates AQAP and AQIS (al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent) to regain relevance with its mission.
What is the message the U.S. government is sending with such accounts? Are we to love al-Qaeda or fear it?
Or are we to fall silent in awe of the sheer genius of Obama's strategic planning?
h/t Mark Ames
P.S. That AQ and CIA "rebels" mercenaries are one bunch is, of course, not new. We wrote about Your Moderate Cuddly Homegrown Al-Qaeda since October 2013. What is new is the NYT, the house organ of the U.S. government, now openly reporting it. What is the message in this?
Open Thread 2016-37
News & views NOT related to the U.S. election ...
(For election comments please use the previous thread.)
Reward Clinton's Hawkishness Because Trump's Foreign Policy Is Uncertain?
For me, as a non U.S. person, the major issues of the U.S. presidential elections is always foreign policy. There Trump is not hawkish at all. He has somewhat confused, unlearned blustering positions on foreign policy but is basically a cautious, risk averse businessman. He consistently criticizes the war mongering in Washington DC. Hillary Clinton is a run-of-the-mill warmongering neoconservative compatible with the imperial "mainstream" of the power centers in Washington and elsewhere.
Trump has called up this contrast again and again (as do I). In a speech (vid at 53:20 min) in Grand Rapids Michigan on October 31 he again highlights these points. Some excerpts (taken from this partial transcript part 9, 10):
Hillary led us to disaster in Iraq, in Syria, in Libya. ... Hillary and our failed Washington establishment have spent $6 trillion on wars in the Middle East, and now it’s worse than it’s ever been before.
Had Obama and others gone to the beach, Obama could have gone to the golf course, we would have been in much better shape.
We shouldn’t have gone into the war, and she thinks I’m a hawk. Oh, Donald Trump.
Imagine if some of the money had been spent, $6 trillion in the Middle East, on building new schools and roads and bridges right here in Michigan.
Now Hillary, trapped in her Washington bubble, that’s blind to the lessons, wants to start a shooting war in Syria in conflict with a nuclear armed Russia that could drag us into a World War III.
Okay, folks. She – I’ll tell you what. She will get us into World War III. She will get us into World War III. I will tell you that. She’s incompetent. She will get us into World War III.
The arrogant political class never learns. They keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again. They keep telling the same lies. They keep producing the same failed results.
Trump may well be lying when he says he does not seek a conflict with Russia or anyone else. Trump surely lies on other issues. But those are mostly rather obvious lies and some are even a bit comical. He is playing Reagan on economic issues, promising tax cuts that can not be financed (and which Reagan had to take back in the end when he introduced the biggest tax hike ever). On many issues we do not know what Trump is really planning to do (or if he plans at all). But he has never given the impression that he is hawkish or willing to incite a war.
Clinton on the other hand has a proven record of being a proactive hawk. She is willing to go to war and to kill people because the U.S. can.
The Syrian Army's "Election Campaign" - Al Bab Or East-Aleppo?
The Russian president Putin declared another unilateral ceasefire in east-Aleppo for Friday:
"A decision was made to introduce a 'humanitarian pause' in Aleppo on November 4 from 9:00 am (0600 GMT) to 19:00," the chief of Russia's General Staff Valery Gerasimov said in a statement on Wednesday.
Gerasimov said the decision was approved by Syrian authorities and was meant to "prevent senseless casualties" by allowing civilians and armed combatants to quit rebel-held eastern Aleppo.
Defence ministry Sergei Shoigu said Tuesday that Russia had ceased air strikes on eastern Aleppo for 16 days, following criticism over a Russian-backed Syrian government assault that has killed hundreds of civilians and destroyed infrastructure, including hospitals.
This is probably the last ceasefire on offer before al-Qaeda and CIA proxy forces in east-Aleppo are attacked in full force.
These head-chopping "rebels" rejected the Russian offer:
Rebel groups in Aleppo dismissed Russia's latest offer, with one of the groups describing it as a media stunt for "public consumption."
Yasser al-Youssef, a spokesman for the Nour el-Din el-Zinki rebel group, said Russia "is not serious" and its latest initiatives "don't concern us." He added that the Russian leader's comments do not reflect the reality on the ground.
The great "rebel" attack from Idleb in the west on Aleppo to open a corridor to the government besieged "rebel" area in east-Aleppo has failed. Local fighting is still ongoing but the main attack has stopped. Most of the major hardware of the attacking "rebels", tanks and multiple rocket launchers on trucks, have been destroyed by the Syrian and Russian artillery and air forces.
The Syrian Army and Russia have assembled major fresh forces in Aleppo. Syrian special forces are preparing for a big attack and Iran supported groups as well as some Russian units are on the ground. On Friday the Russian aircraft-carrier Kuznetsov will arrive on the Syrian coast. It adds some 30 fighter planes and attack helicopters to the assembled land based air forces. The carrier is accompanied by several destroyers and frigates as well as submarines. These add to the air defenses but can also launch salvos of cruise missiles.
But this whole build up may have a different purpose than an all out attack on east-Aleppo.
Open Thread 2016-36
News & views ...
The FBI's Clinton Investigation Is Wider Than Assumed
The Washington Post editors today added to their hypocrisy with three additional anti-Comey op-eds:
- Eric Holder: James Comey is a good man, but he made a serious mistake
- The costs of Comey’s appeasement
- Comey’s mistaken quest for transparency
I interpret that as naked fear that their candidate Hillary Clinton may now loose. That fear is justified.
The Wall Street Journal today added to its so far excellent reporting on the Clinton issues by revealing the much bigger story behind it: FBI in Internal Feud Over Hillary Clinton Probe - Laptop may contain thousands of messages sent to or from Mrs. Clinton’s private server (open copy here).
According to the reporting, based on FBI sources, FBI agents in New York and elsewhere have been looking into the Clinton Foundation for several months. They suspect that this "charity" was selling political favors by then Secretary of State Clinton in exchange for donations that personally benefited the Clinton family.
The Justice Department blocked further aggressive investigations into the issue, allegedly because of the ongoing election. A high FBI official, Andrew McCabe, also showed disinterest in a further pursuit of the issue. McCabe's wife had just tried to get elected as state senator and had receive a campaign donation of nearly $500,000 from Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Clinton friend and at times board member of the Clinton Foundation. The FBI agents pursuing the investigation into the Clinton Foundation were not amused.
The separate investigation into former Congressman Weiner for sexual contacts with minors was looking for pedophile stuff on Weiner's electronic devices. It didn't find any as far as we can tell, but found some 650,000 emails archived on a laptop.
Several thousand of these emails were sent or received by Weiner's spouse, the intimate Clinton aide Huma Abedin. They came through Clinton's private email server. At least some of these thousands of emails are likely copies of those that were deleted from Clinton's server when the (separate) investigation into it started. They may be evidence that Clinton sent and received classified documents through her unsecured system. Some of these emails may also contain serious dirt related to the Clinton Foundation. (It is highly likely that at least some FBI agents know "unofficially" what these emails contain. Legally they could not look at them without a warrant which they only got today.)
Thus we have three ongoing FBI investigations:
- into Clinton's private email-server used illegally for official State Department business;
- into the Clinton Foundation and its role in peddling political influence in exchange for donations;
- into the personal conduct of Anthony Weiner.
Additional investigations that may come up are on:
- the mixing of donations to the Clinton Foundation and personal compensation for Bill Clinton for holding highly paid speeches;
- for profit activities by the group of people running Bill Clinton's businesses as well as the Clinton Foundation financing;
- inappropriate hindering of the FBI investigations by the Justice Department and/or by McCabe.
With such a list of potentially very serious scandals pending it is highly understandable that FBI director Comey went public and did not follow the advice from the Justice Department to pursue these issues only on a reduced level. It would have been political suicide to try to keep this silent. Way too many FBI agents eager to pursue these case were in the known and would have talked, as they do now, to the media.
If Clinton gets elected she will be hampered by these scandals for the next two years. The Republicans in Congress will jump on these issues as soon as possible. There will be endless hearings with large media coverage. The only question is when the first attempts at an impeachment process will be made - before or after she moves back into the White House. She and her family may be better off with her losing the campaign.
Al-Qaeda's Attack On West-Aleppo Continues Despite Lack Of Progress
For four days now al-Qaeda in Syria (aka Jabhat al Nusra aka Fatah al-Sham) and assorted other "rebel" groups have tried to attack Aleppo from the west to break the siege on al-Qaeda associated groups in east-Aleppo. The New York Times in now openly admitting that CIA supported groups are acting under al-Qaeda's operational command. The piece though, which belonged on page one, was in the back of the paper. There is no public outcry over this disturbing fact.
The attack on west-Aleppo had been talked about for over two weeks and the defenders are well prepared.
As can be seen on the map above the areas al-Qaeda and its allies managed to capture so far are only small rural outskirts. Every attempt to attack actual city estate under roof was repelled by the defenders. Small infiltrations like shown in the map were immediately cleaned up. The marked area is back in the hands of the Syrian army. It is estimated that the several thousand attackers have so far lost more than 500 men. A 1,000 more are likely injured. Every attack has to be carried over mostly open land and is received by heavy artillery fire. Air attacks ravage their supply and preparation ares.
The attackers launched over 20 suicide-vehicle bombs so far but only a few reached their targets and their damage was limited. Yesterday one suicide vehicle bomb, ready to be launched for a new attack, was hit by a missile from a Syrian helicopter and exploded at its preparation and launching position. Over 60 "rebels" were killed by it and their attack had to be call off.
The good news is that the defense is holding. The bad news is that the al-Qaeda "rebels" received huge amounts of artillery missiles and launchers from their "western" and Gulf sponsors. Several hundred have been launched at the densely populated areas of west-Aleppo. More than a 100 civilians have been killed by them and several hundred civilians were wounded. Some of the missiles contained gas and people had to be taken to hospital with extreme breathing difficulties. The UN envoy condemned these attacks as "possible war crimes".
The whole attack operation was launched under the direct supervision of al-Qaeda in Syria leader Abu Muhammad al-Golani. He was shown in pictures at the "rebel" headquarter of the attack discussing further operations.
Despite any progress on their part the al-Qaeda forces seem far from giving up. More attacks to break the siege are expected. We can be sure that some of their surprises are still in store. But the defenders are ready and the Syrian army is said to prepare for a large counter operation which may include a serious effort to liberate east-Aleppo of the al-Qaeda occupation.
Other fronts in Syria are relatively quiet. The Turks have been told by Russia to stop all air attacks within Syria. The message has been received. The Turkish plan to occupy Al Bab east of Aleppo is unlikely to happen as it would be out of range of the Turkey based artillery and have no air support. The U.S. would like to go to Raqqa but has no proxy ground force to do that. Some Obama officials are now arguing for more U.S. boots on the ground in Syria. Will Obama agree to that mission creep?
Unprincipled WaPo Editors Damned Comey Critics - Now Join Them
The Washington Post editorial page is staunchly neoconservative and early on endorsed Hillary Clinton for president. On July 7 2016 the editors pinned an editorial defending FBI chief Comey's decision to then close the Clinton email case:
IF REPUBLICANS believe the FBI director is corrupt and political, they should have the gumption to say so. Instead, many have insulted James B. Comey with slimy implications and underhanded threats since Tuesday, when he announced that he would not recommend charges against Hillary Clinton relating to her use of a private email server while secretary of state.
A look at today's Washington Post editorial page seems to demonstrate a change of mind:
From the first piece headlined James Comey is damaging our democracy:
First, the FBI director, James B. Comey, put himself enthusiastically forward as the arbiter of not only whether to prosecute a criminal case — which is not the job of the FBI — but also best practices in the handling of email and other matters. Now, he has chosen personally to restrike the balance between transparency and fairness, departing from the department’s traditions.
From the second piece by notorious mud-slinger Dana Milbank:
I’ve long believed in Comey’s integrity. But if he doesn’t step forward and explain his October Surprise, he may inadvertently wind up interfering in the political process — perhaps even reversing the outcome of a presidential election — in a way that would have made J. Edgar Hoover gape.
And the third strike:
FBI Director James B. Comey’s stunning announcement that he has directed investigators to begin reviewing new evidence in the Clinton email investigation was yet another troubling violation of long-standing Justice Department rules or precedent, conduct that raises serious questions about his judgment and ability to serve as the nation’s chief investigative official.
Back to the July 7 editorial:
“It appears damage is being done to the rule of law,” Mr. Ryan said. He’s right, but the FBI director isn’t doing the damage. The wreckers are those who cast baseless aspersions on U.S. law enforcement in the service of their partisan goals.
I for one believe that Comey was wrong in July and is right today. He should have pressed for charges against Clinton early on. Using a "secret" private email server for confidential state business is not legal and would have been out of bounds for anyone else. Now possible new evidence was found and must be investigated. It is not Comey's job to ask if the timing of a renewed investigation is convenient for the potential culprit. He also had to inform Congress because he had reasonably promised to do so. (He also needed to save his ass before anyone else in his department talked to the media.)
The so called "election" of a U.S. president is always a sorry show. But this season's version has at least some amusing moments. Seeing the hypocrites at Fred Hyatt's Funny Pages™ squirm is one of them. It makes me smirk.
"Top Five Clinton Donors Are Jewish" - How Anti-Semitic Is This Fact?
Top five Clinton donors Are Jewish, campaign tally shows.
Something is wrong with the above statement. Isn't it anti-semitic? Did Trump say that? Readers of that statement may assume, somewhat reasonably, that there is a club of rich Jewish people controlling the Clinton campaign and, maybe, Clinton herself. That sounds like it was taken from the fake Protocols of the Elders of Zion. It clearly must be anti-semitic.
It is also true.
Facts have no bias. They can't be anti-semitic (or can they?). But while facts as such can not have a racial-religious bias, openly stating them surely can. Thus the above statement is anti-semitic. The fact itself isn't bad, reporting it publicly is bad, bad, bad.
Who but an alt-right rag would report such at all? And for what purpose if not for spreading anti-semitism?
Well - quot licet jovi, ...
Jewish papers are of course allowed to report such a fact. That isn't anti-semitic. It is solely to brag about Jewish powers. Within the club that is not only allowed, but welcome. Thus Haaretz writes (sourced to the the Jewish Telegraph Agency) under the identity defining headline at the top of this post:
Haim Saban, George Soros and others stand at the head of a list of wealthy donors who contributed mainly via super PACs.
The Washington Post analysis, posted October 24, named the top donors, who are contributing $1 of every $17 of the over $1 billion amassed for the Democratic nominee’s presidential run.
They are Donald Sussman, a hedge fund manager; J.B. Pritzker, a venture capitalist, and his wife, M.K.; Haim Saban, the Israeli-American entertainment mogul, and his wife, Cheryl; George Soros, another hedge funder and a major backer of liberal causes, and Daniel Abraham, a backer of liberal pro-Israel causes and the founder of SlimFast.
Many of the big Clinton campaign donors also give to the Clinton Foundation which at times is a washing machine to put money into the Clinton's private accounts. It is kind of difficult to understand where Clinton Inc begins and where it ends. Campaign funds, Clinton foundation, speech fees, private accounts - does it even matter? Surely those who pay, to whatever Clinton entity, expect a service in return. Given the Clinton's occupations as Senator, Secretary of State and President the ask in return is unlikely to be commercial. It will be political.
And here is why it matters that the five top donors to Clinton's campaign are Jewish, and all big supporters of Israel. (Haim Saban: "I'm a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.") They surely will ask for political favors in the interest of the Zionist entity. This is also the reason why Haaretz, an Israeli paper, finds the strong racial-religious bias at the top Clinton campaign tally newsworthy. Big money paid to a Clinton entity can directly effect U.S. policies towards Israel. It buys its acquiescence to Israeli escapades even when those are not consistent U.S. interests.
Clinton's positions towards Syria, Iran and Russia (which limits Israel's freedom of action) are surely not independent of Israeli interests.
But that is of course, anti-semitic speculation ...
The Zika Virus Is Harmless - It Does Not Cause Birth Defects - We Told You So
After nearly a year of causing hysteria, mass travel cancellations and unnecessary abortions it finally daunts to "journalists" and "experts" that the Zika virus is harmless. It can cause a very minor flu - two days of a low fever and uncomfortable feeling for a quarter of those infected - that is all. It does not cause, as was claimed by sensationalists in the media and various self-serving "scientists", birth defects like microcephaly.
We told you so.
In February we wrote: The Zika Virus Is Harmless - Who Then Benefits From This Media Panic?.
The piece refereed to a Congressional Research Service report and various sound scientific papers. It concluded:
There is absolutely no sane reason for the scary headlines and the panic they cause.
The virus is harmless. It is possible, but seems for now very unlikely, that it affects some unborn children. There is absolutely no reason to be concerned about it.
The artificial media panic continued and huge amounts of money were poured into dangerous insecticides to kill mosquitoes (and important pollinators) that did not do any harm. Indeed, generous use of some of these insecticides likely were the very cause of a blip in microcephaly cases in northeastern Brazil.
Trump's Foreign Policy Is Sane While Clinton's Is Belligerent
Some highlights of a recent Donald Trump interview with Reuters:
U.S. Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said on Tuesday that Democrat Hillary Clinton's plan for Syria would "lead to World War Three," because of the potential for conflict with military forces from nuclear-armed Russia.
In an interview focused largely on foreign policy, Trump said defeating Islamic State is a higher priority than persuading Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down,..
Trump questioned how Clinton would negotiate with Russian President Vladimir Putin after demonizing him; blamed President Barack Obama for a downturn in U.S. relations with the Philippines under its new president, Rodrigo Duterte;...
Trump's foreign policy talk is far more sane than Clinton's and her camp's. It is ludicrous to event think about openly attacking Russian (or Syrian) troops in Syria with an al-Qaeda supporting "no-Fly-Zone". Russia would respond by taking down U.S. planes over Syria. The Russian government would have to do so to uphold its authority internationally as well as at home.
The U.S. could respond by destroying all Russian assets in and around Syria. It has the capabilities. But then what? If I were Putin my next step would be a nuclear test shoot in Siberia - a big one - to make a point and to wake up the rest of the world. I would also provide secret support to any indigenous anti-U.S. movement anywhere. China would support Russia as its first line of self defense.
"What we should do is focus on ISIS. We should not be focusing on Syria," said Trump as he dined on fried eggs and sausage at his Trump National Doral golf resort. "You’re going to end up in World War Three over Syria if we listen to Hillary Clinton.
"You’re not fighting Syria any more, you’re fighting Syria, Russia and Iran, all right? Russia is a nuclear country, but a country where the nukes work as opposed to other countries that talk," he said.
On Russia, Trump again knocked Clinton's handling of U.S.-Russian relations while secretary of state and said her harsh criticism of Putin raised questions about "how she is going to go back and negotiate with this man who she has made to be so evil," if she wins the presidency.
On the deterioration of ties with the Philippines, Trump aimed his criticism at Obama, saying the president "wants to focus on his golf game" rather than engage with world leaders.
The last two points are important. Trump, despite all his bluster, knows about decency. What is the point of arrogantly scolding negotiation partner who have the power to block agreements you want or need?
Why blame Russia for hacking wide open email servers when no Russian speakers were involved? Why blame Duterte? It is the U.S. that has a long history of violent racism in the Philippines and FBI agents committed false flag "terrorism" is Duterte's home town Davao. Bluster may paper over such history for a moment but it does not change the facts or helps solving problems.
Trump's economic policies would be catastrophic for many people in the U.S. and elsewhere. But Hillary Clinton would put her husband, the man who deregulated Wall Street, back in charge of the economy. What do people expect the results would be?
The points above may be obvious and one might be tempted to just pass them and dig into some nig-nagging of this or that election detail. But the above points as THE most important of any election. The welfare of the people is not decided with some "liberal" concession to this or that niche of the general society. The big issues count the most. Good or evil flow from them. Trumps principle, and I think personal position, is leaning towards peaceful resolution of conflicts. Clinton's preference is clearly, as her history shows, escalation and general belligerence. It is too risky to vote for her.
Open Thread 2016-35
(sorry for absence - hope to be back tomorrow - b.)
News & views ...
Renewed Jihadi Attack On Aleppo Supported By "Western" Propaganda Fakes
The three days of unilateral ceasefire Syrian and Russia had announced and kept for the besieged east-Aleppo expired today. No evacuations took place, no civilians or fighters left and no aid was delivered as "rebels" inside the besieged area shelled all possible crossings.
The U.S. supported al-Qaeda aligned Jihadis have used the pause to prepare for another attack on the government held parts of Aleppo city with the aim of opening a passage into the besieged eastern areas. They received enormous amounts of new weapons and munitions from the U.S. and their other supporters. The child beheaders of the U.S. supported radical Zinki group warned civilians in west-Aleppo city to stay away from military positions. That is impossible as the refugee filled, densely populated areas are in the immediate neighborhood of the front lines.
The renewed attack is expected in the south-west of government held west-Aleppo near the Ramoush-area and the Artillery Academy where the first attempted breach battle also took place. A second attack is expected in the north-west near the Castello road. It is possible that Turkish supported forces, who battle Kurdish troops to the north-east of Aleppo-city, will also try an attack on the city. The fight against the Kurds is a Turkish attempt to keep its logistic lines of communications to the Islamic State open. Turkey has supported, like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the Islamic State for years. An attack on Aleppo by directly Turkish supported forces would be a serious breach of the Turkish-Russian agreements and lead to a further serious escalation and internationalization of the war. Turkey will not dare such a move without full U.S. support.
We have maintained here for some time that the Turkish President Erdogan has designs for Aleppo as well as Mosul. He wants to incorporate both cities and all areas north of and between them into Turkey. Erdogan now publicly announced these aims:
Open Thread 2016-34
News & views ...
Assad Says The "Boy In The Ambulance" Is Fake - This Proves It
From an interview with the Syrian President Bashar Assad by the Swiss SRF 1 TV Channel published October 19 2016:
Journalist: This young boy has become the symbol of the war. I think that you know this picture.
President Assad: Of course I saw it.
Journalist: His name is Omran. Five years old.
President Assad: Yeah.
Journalist: Covered with blood, scared, traumatized. Is there anything you would like to say to Omran and his family?
President Assad: There’s something I would like to say to you first of all, because I want you to go back after my interview, and go to the internet to see the same picture of the same child, with his sister, both were rescued by what they call them in the West “White Helmets” which is a facelift of al-Nusra in Aleppo. They were rescued twice, each one in a different incident, and just as part of the publicity of those White Helmets. None of these incidents were true. You can have it manipulated, and it is manipulated. I’m going to send you those two pictures, and they are on the internet, just to see that this is a forged picture, not a real one. We have real pictures of children being harmed, but this one in specific is a forged one.
Assad was half wrong. The picture, printed on page 1 of newspapers all over the "western" world, was not "forged". It is a real picture from a White Helmet "rescue" video distributed by the Aleppo Media Center (AMC) (which is funded by the French French Ministry of Foreign Affairs). But the scene was carefully staged and we immediately recognized it as staged when it appeared. It was staged like many other "rescue" scenes with "kids saved" by the U.S./UK/D/J/NL financed White Helmets and their associated media.
Look for yourself, trust your eyes.
The "boy in an ambulance" scene features two identifiable kids. Omran and his sister.
Below are pictures of what we believe are the same kids in different scenes.
Here is the girl at another occasion. We will call this scene 1:
This Election Circus Is A Disservice To The People
"Total mentions all 4 debates:
- Russia/Putin 178
- ISIS/terror 132
- Iran 67
- Abortion 17
- Poverty 10
- Climate change 4
- Campaign finance 3
- Privacy 0"
The candidates are not the first to blame for this. The first to blame are the moderators of such debates, the alleged journalists 8and their overlords) who do not ask questions that are relevant for the life of the general votes and who do not intervene at all when the debaters run off course. The second group to blame are the general horse-race media who each play up their (owner's) special-interest hobbyhorses as if those will be the decisive issue for the next four years. The candidates fight for the attention of these media and adopt to them.
I didn't watch yesterday's debate but every media I skimmed tells me that Clinton was gorgeous and Trump very bad. That means she said what they wanted to hear and Trump didn't. It doesn't say what other people who watched though of it. Especially in the rural parts of the country they likely fear the consequences of climate change way more than Russia, ISIS and Iran together.
Another reason why both candidates avoided to bring up the issues low in the list above is that both hold positions that are socially somewhat liberal and both are corporatists. None of those low ranked issues is personally relevant to them. No realistic answer to these would better their campaign finances or their personal standing in the circles they move in. Personally they are both east coast elite and don't give a fu***** sh** what real people care about.
As far as I can discern it from the various reports no new political issues were touched. Clinton ran her usual focus group tested lies while Trump refrained from attacking her hard. A huge mistake in my view. He can beat her by attacking her really, really hard, not on issues but personality. Her disliked rate (like Trump's) is over -40%. She is vulnerable on many, many things in her past. Her foreign policy is way more aggressive than most voters like. Calling this back into mind again and again could probably send her below -50%. Who told him to leave that stuff alone? Trump is a major political disruption. He should have emphasized that but he barely hinted at it for whatever reason.
The voters are served badly -if at all- by the TV debates in their current form. These do not explain real choices. That is what this whole election circus should be about. But that is no longer the case and maybe it never was.
Obama: Vote Rigging Is Impossible - If In Favor Of Hillary Clinton
Is rigging the U.S. election possible?
Obama says it is not possible:
Obama was asked about Trump's voter fraud assertions on Tuesday [..] He responded with a blistering attack on the Republican candidate, noting that U.S. elections are run and monitored by local officials, who may well be appointed by Republican governors of states, and saying that cases of significant voter fraud were not to be found in American elections.
Obama said there was "no serious" person who would suggest it was possible to rig American elections, adding, "I'd invite Mr. Trump to stop whining and go try to make his case to get votes."
That is curious. There are a lot of "non serious" persons in the Democratic Party who tell us that Russia is trying to manipulate the U.S. elections. How is it going to that when it's not possible?
- Harry Reid Cites Evidence of Russian Tampering in U.S. Vote, and Seeks F.B.I. Inquiry
- Hillary Clinton concerned about Russia tampering in U.S. elections
- NSA Chief: Potential Russian Hacking of U.S. Elections a Concern
- Putin's Meddling in the U.S. Elections
Moreover - Obama himself suggested that Russia may interfere with the U.S. elections: Obama: 'Possible' Russia interfering in US election
Is rigging the election only impossible when it is in favor of Hillary Clinton? This while rigging the elections in favor of Donald Trump, by Russia or someone else, is entirely possible and even "evident"?
That said - I do believe that the U.S. election can be decided through manipulation. We have evidently seen that in 2000 when Bush was "elected" by a fake "recount" and a Supreme Court decision.
The outcome of a U.S. presidential election can depend on very few votes in very few localities. The various machines and processes used in U.S. elections can be influenced. It is no longer comprehensible for the voters how the votes are counted and how the results created.*
The intense manipulation attempts by the Clinton camp, via the DNC against Sanders or by creating a Russian boogeyman to propagandize against Trump, lets me believe that her side is well capable of considering and implementing some vote count shenanigan. Neither are Trump or the Republicans in general strangers to dirty methods and manipulations.
It is high time for the U.S. to return to paper-ballots and manual vote counting. The process is easier, comprehensible, less prone to manipulations and reproducible. Experience in other countries show that it is also nearly as fast, if not faster, than machine counting. There is simply no sensible reason why machines should be used at all.
*(The German Constitutional Court prohibited the use of all voting machines in German elections because for the general voters they institute irreproducible vote counting which leads to a general loss of trust in the democratic process. The price to pay for using voting machines is legitimacy.)
ISIS Moves To Syria Where Erdogan Still Aims For Aleppo
The Iraqi army started a large operation to liberate Mosul from Islamic State jihadists. But the forces, in total some 40,000, are still several dozen kilometers away from the city limits. They will have to capture several towns and villages and pass many IED obstacles before coming near to the center and house to house fighting. It might take many month to eliminated the last stay-behind ISIS cells in Mosul.
About one million civilians live in Mosul. Many, many more than in east-Aleppo. Many of them were sympathetic with the new overlords when ISIS stormed in two years ago. French, American, Kurdish, Iraqi and Turkish artillery are pounding them now. Airstrikes attack even the smallest fighting position. When the city will be conquered it will likely be destroyed. The imminent fight over Mosul might be the reason why John Kerry dialed down his hypocritical howling over east-Aleppo in Syria which is under attack from Syrian and Russian forces.
The attack on Mosul proceeds on three axes. From the north Kurdish Peshmerga under U.S. special force advisors lead the fighting. Iraqi forces attack from the east and south. The way to the west, towards Syria, is open. The intend of the U.S. is to let ISIS fighters, several thousand of them, flee to Deir Ezzor and Raqqa in Syria. They are needed there to further destroy the Syrian state.
We pointed out here that this move will create the "Salafist principality" the U.S. and its allies have striven to install in east-Syria since 2012. The "mistake" of the U.S. bombing of Syrian army positions in Deir Ezzor was in support of that plan. Other commentators finally catch up with that conclusion.
The Turks are openly talking about such an escape plan for ISIS in Mosul. The Turkish news agency Anadolu published this "sensitive" operations plan. Point 4 says:
The New U.S. Way Of War
A recommendable New York Times piece looks at the mostly hidden way the U.S. is now waging wars. The example is Somalia, where the U.S. has been at war with the people of that country for over 25 years. But, as the authors note, the same modus operandi applies elsewhere.
The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.
Would that "anarchic" nation Somalia still be "anarchic" if the U.S. would end its endless fighting there? That is very unlikely. Without outer interference Somalia would have been peaceful again many years ago. But the war continues, run not with regular U.S. forces, but with mercenaries, proxies, drones and a few U.S. Special Forces.
Somalia is an example of the "failed states" the U.S. now creates wherever it goes. A "failed state" then justifies further involvement. The "model" applies around the world:
The Somalia campaign is a blueprint for warfare that President Obama has embraced and will pass along to his successor. It is a model the United States now employs across the Middle East and North Africa — from Syria to Libya — despite the president’s stated aversion to American “boots on the ground” in the world’s war zones. This year alone, the United States has carried out airstrikes in seven countries and conducted Special Operations missions in many more.
Such wars are mostly "off the book". Congressional oversight does not happen for them as the impact within the U.S. is too small. The media are practically excluded. The money comes out of secret CIA and special forces accounts or is shaken out of some friendly U.S. client state like Saudi Arabia. No one will find out what methods of force or "interrogation" are used and as those prisoners vanish in some local warlord's dungeon, no one is likely to ever find out:
About 200 to 300 American Special Operations troops work with soldiers from Somalia and other African nations like Kenya and Uganda to carry out more than a half-dozen raids per month, according to senior American military officials. The operations are a combination of ground raids and drone strikes.
The Navy’s classified SEAL Team 6 has been heavily involved in many of these operations.
Once ground operations are complete, American troops working with Somali forces often interrogate prisoners at temporary screening facilities, including one in Puntland, a state in northern Somalia, before the detainees are transferred to more permanent Somali-run prisons, American military officials said.
Force is applied willy-nilly. It doesn't matter much who gets hit or why. Lack of local knowledge, language and politics are the norm. No one ever gets punished for getting things wrong:
[A]n airstrike last month killed more than a dozen Somali government soldiers, who were American allies against the Shabab.
Outraged Somali officials said the Americans had been duped by clan rivals and fed bad intelligence, laying bare the complexities of waging a shadow war in Somalia.
The responsibilities that legally come with warfare are handed off to private parties. The use of mercenaries prevents accountability:
At an old Russian fighter jet base in Baledogle, about 70 miles from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, American Marines and private contractors are working to build up a Somali military unit designed to combat the Shabab throughout the country.
Soldiers for the military unit, called Danab, which means lightning in Somali, are recruited by employees of Bancroft Global Development, a Washington-based company that for years has worked with the State Department to train African Union troops and embed with them on military operations inside Somalia.
Michael Stock, the company’s founder, said the Danab recruits received initial training at a facility in Mogadishu before they were sent to Baledogle, where they go through months of training by the Marines. Bancroft advisers then accompany the Somali fighters on missions.
What the piece misses are the media measures - or propaganda - which accompanies all such U.S. campaigns. That is not unwittingly as the NYT is always an integral part of such campaigns. The usual justification is "terrorism" or the "moral" need to eliminate a "brutal regime". The piece accordingly list a few alleged terrorism incidents with origin in Somalia to justify the massive, decades long uprooting of a whole country.
The scheme visible in Somalia is the same one that is applied in Libya, in Syria and in the Ukraine. The U.S. hires some group willing to wage war for a decent pay, lots of weapons and a chance to - may be - reach a lot of power for itself. It sends some mercenary company to "train" those forces, PR agencies get hired to provide the necessary media background, U.S. military forces are silently involved but only from far away via drones, or in mini special force formation that train and direct the local proxies.
The CIA is usually in the lead with the U.S. military providing firepower as needed. The State Department handles the diplomatic hurdles, pampers the proxies and so called allies and, together with the Treasury, generously applies devastating sanctions to bend the people to its will.
The methods are not dissimilar to those used during the last century mainly in south America. But the wars are now more open with more brute force applied.
The big question for the rest of the world is how such mostly hidden wars can be countered. They are very difficult to win by force on the ground. The U.S. will not change course because a few of its mercenaries get eliminated. The obvious answer is to increase the price the U.S. directly has to pay. The hurt must be painful enough to raise above the public negligence level that usually applies. Terrorism within the U.S. can and has been used. But I expect new, more subtle methods to be a part of the future answer. The cyber realm is ideal for asymmetric forces. A few knowledgeable fighters are sufficient. To counter them is difficult. The U.S. is probable the most sensitive target for cyber mayhem while the nations the U.S. attacks are mostly insensitive to such attacks.
No matter of what new ways of war the U.S. applies. Those attacked will always find ways to hit back.
Al-Qaeda Fighters In East-Aleppo (Defined) Down To Three!
The pro-jihadist "west" is doing its best to define the number of civilians in east-Aleppo up and the number of al-Qaeda fighters in the city down. If the current numbering trend continues there will be a no al-Qaeda fighters left in east-Aleppo even as none have left. They will be redefined into "moderate rebels" who are entitled to the failed ceasefire they had never accepted in the first place.
The terrorists in east-Aleppo are encircled and besieged. The Syrian army nibbles away piece after piece of their territorial hold while the Syrian and Russian air force attack any recognized concentrations of forces or material. It is only a question of time until they are completely defeated.
Most of the fighters in the besieged area are associated with al-Qaeda. They are several thousand strong. Only few civilians remain. The eastern parts once housed some 300,000 people. About 10% of those, likely less, are still there. That are the realistic numbers. The spin differs.
When in 2013 the sectarian rebels had enclosed and completely besieged (map) the government held parts of Aleppo every win of theirs was called a liberation.
They since killed many of the people they "liberated". Others fled. But the tide has turned. This animated map shows the development from September 2015 to 2016. The now besieged "rebel" held areas in east-Aleppo are shrinking every day. This is today's situation. Much of the northern parts of the besieged area, including the Palestinian camp Handarat, are back in government hands.
NYT Finds "Hidden Hand" In War On Yemen
Yesterday the U.S. openly attacked Yemen by firing cruise missiles against old Yemeni radar stations. This, allegedly, in response to four missiles fired on two days against a U.S. destroyer at the Yemeni coast. The U.S. Navy said the missiles fell short. They were unable to reach the ship. No one but the navy, especially no one in Yemen, has seen or reported any such missile launches - short or long.
The U.S. is in alliance with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and other countries in bombing Yemen for 18 month now. They totally blockade the coast of the country that depends on imports of food and medicines. The actively fighting countries are heavily supported by the U.S. military. This has been widely admitted by U.S. officials and in military reports. The U.S. government even feared of being help legally responsible for the carnage it causes.
But since the launch of the cruise missile U.S. media have totally forgotten all of this. Now the U.S. "has been attacked", without any recognizable reason, and is only "defending" itself. No legal consequences are to fear now. Anyone who believes that the U.S. is somehow responsible for the at least 10,000 dead and the many starving people in Yemen must somehow believe in a mysterious conspiracy.
Just consider this New York Times headline, from today, after the U.S. attack on Yemen.
The NYT tweeted the piece with this text:
New York Times World @nytimesworld
For the U.S., it was retaliation; for Yemen's Houthi rebels, it confirmed a long-held belief nyti.ms/2e9mKyb
6:30 PM - 13 Oct 2016
Wow. The Houthi rebels "believe" in a "hidden hand". Must be crazy people. They unreasonably attacked. And they deserve such strikes.
The NYT piece reads:
WASHINGTON — For the United States, it was simple retaliation: Rebels in Yemen had fired missiles at an American warship twice in four days, and so the United States hit back, destroying rebel radar facilities with missiles.
But for the rebels and many others in Yemen, the predawn strikes on Thursday were just the first public evidence of what they have long believed: that the United States has been waging an extended campaign in the country, the hidden hand behind Saudi Arabia’s punishing air war.
How could the Houthis come to "believe" of such a "hidden hand"? Was it really because the strike was the "first public evidence"? Or was it because the NYT and all other media reported many times over that the U.S. actively supports the Saudi attacks? Did the Houthi probably read yesterday's NYT piece on Yemen written by the very same main authors?
Up to now, the Obama administration put limits on its support for the Saudi-led coalition, providing intelligence and Air Force tankers to refuel the coalition’s jets and bombers. The American military has refueled more than 5,700 aircraft involved in the bombing campaign since it began, according to statistics provided by United States Central Command, which oversees American military operations in the Middle East.
So the "first evidence" of the "hidden hand" were, unlike the NYT today claims, not yesterdays strikes but official reports on the public CentCom website? Maybe frequent discussions of the war on Yemen the U.S. Congress held since a year ago also count as evidence? Various public reports over the last 18 month detailing the enormous amount of ammunition the U.S. openly sells to the Saudis were also just sightings of "hidden" hands?
Such reporting as in today's NYT is just laughable. It flies in face of all reports of the last 18 month as well as extensive evidence given by the U.S. and other governments. The strikes on the radar sites were just "retaliation". They have no larger context. This is a typical reflection of the U.S. myth of "immaculate conception" of U.S. foreign policy. According to that believe the U.S. always only reacts to being "attacked" or "threatened" for completely incomprehensible reasons when it bombs this or that country and kills thousands or even millions of foreign people.
That is even more evident in the reports by CNN and others. These reports only mention the 18 month of extensive U.S. support for the Saudi campaign down in the middle to end of their pieces. For any but a thorough reader the alleged "missile attacks" and all Yemeni enmity against the U.s. has no history at all. It comes from unreasonable and hostile people who willfully misunderstand U.S. well-meaning.
Thus no U.S. attack is ever unjustified or just a cruel continuation of decades of U.S. insidiousness, hostility and greed. It is always the other side that initiates the fight.
It is easy for the U.S. government propaganda to make such false claims. And U.S. media don't report such but perpetrate anticipatory stenography. They write what the U.S. government wants and U.S. imperialism demands even when not directly ordered to. That is no longer astonishing.
Astonishing is how easy the U.S. public swallows this without any self awareness and protest.
Alleged "Attack" On U.S. Ships To Justify Continued War On Yemen
Last night the U.S. launched cruise missiles against three radar stations along the western Yemeni coast. The area is formally under control of the Sanaa government, an alliance of Houthi tribal groups from north Yemen and parts of the Yemeni army under control of the former president Saleh. But their real control is patchy and especially around Taiz and further south al-Qaeda and local south Yemeni independence fighters are predominant.
The attack comes after U.S. ships were allegedly attacked by missiles fired from the coast. All those missiles "fell into the sea short of the destroyer, which was in international waters in the Red Sea." (Were these just short range RPG-36 al-Qaeda had received?) The Houthi as well as the Yemeni army (twice) have officially denied that they fired missiles and to have attacked any U.S. asset. Former president Saleh accused the Saudis and their al-Qaeda proxies and asked for an investigation. No one in Yemen had heard rumors of preparations or execution of such attacks. There is no public evidence that any such attack ever happened. All such claims are solely based on the word of the U.S. military. The Houthi/Saleh government in Sanaa demands an official UN investigation into the issue.
Two weeks ago the Houthis had fired on and destroyed a United Arab Emirates fast supply ship. The missile used was decent medium range anti-ship missile of probably Chinese origin. The ship was transporting weapons and anti-Houthi troops between Assab in Eritrea and Aden in south Yemen. They had proudly admitted the attack and published video of it. Earlier smaller Saudi ships which blockaded the coast were attacked by local fishermen and sunk. The UAE has occupied parts of south Yemen (Dubai Port International would like to control the Aden harbor) and the UAE troops and proxy forces are immediate enemy of the Yemeni forces. But it was clear that any attack on a U.S. ship would only increase trouble for the Houthi forces. They had and have no sane reason to commit such an attack.
A recap how we got here. After some tribal upheaval in 2011-12 the President Saleh was pressed to move aside and his vice president Hadi was installed as president with a two year mandate. The installation of a new national government failed when Hadi and his sponsors denied any seat at the table for the large northern Houthi tribes (some 45% of the total population). Those tribes revolted and occupied the capital Sanaa. Hadi, then in the third year of his two year mandate, resigned, retracted and later verbally resigned again. The UN tried to negotiate a settlement but the UN envoy was ousted on behalf of Saudis and the agreed upon unity cabinet was not installed:
Yemen’s warring political factions were on the verge of a power-sharing deal when Saudi-led airstrikes began a month ago, derailing the negotiations, the United Nations envoy who mediated the talks said.
The "Salafist Principality" - ISIS Paid Off To Leave Mosul, Take Deir Ezzor?
Updated below (3:34pm EDT)
On September 20 I wrote about the likely reason for the willful U.S. bombing attack on a critical Syrian army position in Deir Ezzor:
Two recent attacks against the Syrian Arab Army in east-Syria point to a U.S. plan to eliminate all Syrian government presence east of Palmyra. This would enable the U.S. and its allies to create a "Sunni entity" in east-Syria and west-Iraq which would be a permanent thorn in side of Syria and its allies.
The U.S. plan is to eventually take Raqqa by using Turkish or Kurdish proxies. It also plans to let the Iraqi army retake Mosul in Iraq. The only major city in Islamic State territory left between those two is Deir Ezzor. Should IS be able to take it away from the isolated Syrian army garrison it has at least a decent base to survive. (Conveniently there are also rich oil wells nearby.) No one, but the hampered Syrian state, would have an immediate interest to remove it from there.
There are new signs that this analysis was correct.
Yesterday the Turkish President Erdogan made a remark that points into that direction. As the British journalist Elijah Magnier summarized it:
Elijah J. Magnier @EjmAlrai
Erdogan: #Turkey will participate in #Mosul just like it did in #Jarablus.Army doesn't take orders from #Iraq PM who should know his limits.
4:06 AM - 11 Oct 2016
"Like Jarablus" was an interesting comparison. The Turks and their proxies took Jarablus in center-north Syria from the Islamic State without any fight and without any casualties from fighting. ISIS had moved away from the city before the Turks walked in. There obviously had been a deal made.
That's why I replied this to Magnier's tweet above:
Moon of Alabama @MoonofA
The Turks will pay off ISIS in Mosul to leave early just like they did in Jarablus?
5:58 AM - 12 Oct 2016
Three hours later this rumor from a well connected Syrian historian and journalist in London answered that question:
Nizar Nayouf @nizarnayouf
Breaking news:Sources in #London say:“#US& #Saudi_Arabia concluded an agreement to let #ISIS leave #Mosul secretly& safely to #Syria"!
9:28 AM - 12 Oct 2016
Erdogan predicts that his troops and proxy forces will march into Mosul just like they marched into Jarablus: In a peaceful walk, without any fight, into a city free of Jihadis.
The Saudis and the U.S. arranged for that.
The U.S. bombed the most important SAA position in Deir Ezzor so that ISIS, now with the help of its cadres from Mosul, can take over the city. A nice place to keep it holed up in east-Syria until it can further be used in this or that imperial enterprise.
A good plan when your overall aim is to create an obedient mercenary statelet in the center of the Middle East. As the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency wrote in 2012:
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.
But this plan requires to fight the Syrian and Russian air-forces which will do their utmost to defend the SAA group and the 100-200,000 ISIS besieged Syrian civilians in Deir Ezzor. The the U.S. and its allies may be willing to do that. A well known British Tory member of parliament already made noise that British fighter jets should be free to shoot down Russian planes in Syria. The U.S. had claimed that British planes took part in the Deir Ezzor ambush.
The defenders of Deir Ezzor lack their own air defenses. The Russian systems at the Syrian west-coast can not reach that far east. The Syrian system are mostly positioned to defend Damascus and other cities from attacks by Israel.
Sayyed Nasrallah said that the Americans intend to repeat Fallujah plot when they opened a way for ISIL to escape towards eastern Syria before the Iraqi warplanes targeted the terrorists’ convoy, warning that the same deceptive scheme is possible to be carried out in Mosul.
(Busy with nurturing some illness, please bear with me.)
Clinton in a 2013 speech to the Jewish United Fund Advance & Major Gifts Dinner (via The Intercept):
[Arming moderates has] been complicated by the fact that the Saudis and others are shipping large amounts of weapons—and pretty indiscriminately—not at all targeted toward the people that we think would be the more moderate, least likely, to cause problems in the future, ...
Clinton also says that the no-fly zone bombing in Syria she is arguing for "would kill a lot of Syrians" - all for humanitarian reasons of course.
The following was written by Podesta, a well connected former White House Chief of Staff, in an 2014 email to Clinton. As introduction Podesta notes:"Sources include Western intelligence, US intelligence and sources in the region.":
While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.
Not new - the 2012 DIA analysis provided as much, and more, - but these email's prove that Clinton was and is well aware that U.S. allies are financing the radical Islamists in Syria and Iraq.
The Turkish President Erdogan just managed to screw up relations with ALL Iraqis, including the sectarian Sunnis he pampers as well as the Kurdish Barzani mafia with which his family does big oil deals. Erdogan wants his troops to "liberate" Mosul in Iraq from the Islamic State to incorporate it into the Turkish realm. (This goes back to the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne which had, in Turkish nationalist's interpretation, promised Aleppo and Mosul to Turkey):
Erdoğan [..] lashed out at Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, saying al-Abadi was not his counterpart.
“He is defaming me but you are not my interlocutor; you are not on my level and are not my value or quality,” Erdoğan said. “We will go our own way, everyone should know this. Who is this? Iraq’s prime minister. Know your place.”
The Turks have the illusion that the Arab's and other people the ottoman's once ruled liked their colonial occupation. That is simply wrong. The Ottoman rule was as brutal and disliked as any other colonial rule. The megalomania Erdogan shows will enrage all people of Iraq against him. They may not like Abadi but he is the Iraqi Prime Minister and as such has to be respected.
Erdogan's trouble at home and abroad are not some foreign plots against him, as he likes to believe, but the direct consequences of his behavior and talk. His plans to occupy 5,000 square kilometer of Syria and to conquer al-Bab and Raqqa is falling apart. 1,000 sqkm in his proxy groups are failing as they now finally meet real resistance. They may be able to Daqib, after the Turkish air force and artillery destroy it, but that will be it. Erdogan could send in his own army, which heavily relies on conscripts, but the public consequences within Turkey would probably be a disaster for him.
The Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in a recent interview with CNN's Amanpour:
Amanpour: Russia had its own Pussy Riot moment. What do you think of Donald Trump's pussy riot moment?
Lavrov: Well, I don't know whether this would ... English is not my mother's tongue and I don't know whether - I don't know - whether I would sound - I mean - decent. There are so many pussies around your presidential campaigns on both sides that I prefer not to comment.
Open Thread 2016-33
News & views ...
An Election Of Leaks And Counter-Leaks
The tape of Trump talking dirty was released just in time to sidetrack from the release of more of Clinton's dirty secrets by Wikileaks. Trump's talk was juvenile and sexist bragging in front of other "boys". Surprising it was not. There will more releases like that, all timed to run cover for Clinton.
The just released emails of her campaign chairman John Podesta about Clinton's talk to Wall Street and other Clinton related issues are indeed revealing. She is the sell-out you would expect her to be:
*CLINTON SAYS YOU NEED TO HAVE A PRIVATE AND PUBLIC POSITION ON POLICY*
Clinton: "But if everybody's watching, you know, all of the back room discussions and the deals, you know, then people get a little nervous, to say the least. So, you need both a public and a private position."
It is funny how the U.S. electorate has a deeper "very negative" view of Trump (-44%) and Clinton (-41%) than of the much vilified Russian President Putin (-38%).
When Trump will come back in the polls (not "if"), it will be a devious fight with daily "leaks" followed by counter leaks and a lot of dirty laundry washed in front of the public. Good.
Many of the people who will vote will vote against a candidate, not for the one that they will mark on their ballot. I expect a very low turn out election, barely giving a mandate, to whomever may win or get selected to have won.
A Desperate Obama Administration Resorts To Lying And Maybe More
On September 28 the French mission to the UN claimed that two hospitals in east-Aleppo had been bombed. It documented this in a tweet with a picture of destroyed buildings in Gaza. The French later deleted that tweet.
It is not the first time such false claims and willful obfuscations were made by "western" officials. But usually they shy away from outright lies.
Last night, the regime attacked yet another hospital, and 20 people were killed and 100 people were wounded. And Russia and the regime owe the world more than an explanation about why they keep hitting hospitals and medical facilities and children and women. These are acts that beg for an appropriate investigation of war crimes. And those who commit these would and should be held accountable for these actions.
No opposition group has claimed that such an extremely grave event happened. None. No press agency has a record of it. The MI-6 disinformation outlet SOHR in Britain, which quite reliably notes every claimed casualty and is frequently cited in "western" media", has not said anything about such an event anywhere in Syria.
Syria - Is The U.S. Preparing A "False Flag" Bombing?
There is a curious coincidence of a remark Secretary of State Kerry made to Syrian opposition activists and a new paint scheme applied to some U.S. military jets.
Washington (CNN) Secretary of State John Kerry's frustration with the failure of American diplomacy was on display as he defended US efforts to help end the five-year civil war in Syria during a meeting last week with a group of Syrian civilians, according to an audio recording obtained by CNN.
Kerry's comments came at a meeting that took place at the Dutch Mission to the United Nations on the sidelines the UN General Assembly, where Kerry was going from session to session in a frenzied effort to resuscitate a ceasefire that seemed poised to collapse.
A complete audio recording of the meeting between Kerry, some of his staff, and some Syrians is available on youtube.
Of interest is a short segment about alleged Russian bombing beginning at 11:18. The female Arab-English interpreter translates remarks by a Syrian, believed to be the Syrian front-man of the White Helmets scam Raed Saleh, about the difficulties of supervising ceasefires.
Interpreter (translating from a male Arabic speaker): We don't believe that Russia can be the guarantor of the actions of the regime. We see Russia is a partner of the regime in bombing Syrians, Syrian civilians, market places, even our own team, the Syrian Civil Defense team. We documented since the start of the Russian intervention in Syria from day one until February of this year more than 17 of our Syrian Civil Defense personal have been killed by Russian airstrikes.
Kerry: Do you have any videos of the airplanes of these strikes?
(crosstalk interpreter and male Arab voice)
Kerry: Can we get that (unintelligible) videos the agents have been asking for?
(crosstalk interpreter and male Arab voice)
Kerry staff member: So can I just say - we get a lot of videos of the victims of these attacks, they are terrible, but they don't help us. We need videos of the actual aircrafts and ammunition. And there is a lot of them on the internet but we don't know whether they are real or not. Verified videos of the actual aircraft is the most useful thing. ...
These men can be helped, though someone in the U.S. military - or not.
Is Fighting Al-Qaeda In Aleppo Good Or Bad? - U.S. Unable To Decide
There is currently a barrage of propaganda in the "western" media in support of "rebels" in east-Aleppo. It is all about "hospitals" and "children" but the aim is to stop a Syrian army assault on the "rebel" held quarters of the city. U.S. officials are again talking about "intervention", meaning open war, to prevent the Syrian army and its allies from storming the "rebel" held eastern parts. It would not work but that is not the only reason why it is a strange idea.
"It is primarily al-Qaeda that holds Aleppo," said (vid) the spokesperson of the U.S. led 'Operation Inherent Resolve', Colonel Warren. That was back in April and al-Qaeda (aka Jabat al-Nusra) has since strengthen its capacities in the city. The French Syria expert Fabrice Balanche tells Le Monde Le Figaro (translate from French):
[Al-Qaeda's] grip on Aleppo's east has only increased since the spring of 2016, when it sent 700 reinforcement fighters while moderate brigades fighters began to leave the area before the final exit was closed. The provisional opening of a breach of the siege of Aleppo in August 2016 (Battle of Ramousseh) has further increased its prestige and influence on the rebels.
The UN Special Envoy for Syria DeMistura told (vid, 27:43) the UN Security Council:
We have seen information from other sources that tell us more than half of the fighters present in eastern Aleppo are al-Nusra. We have also seen reports alleging the intentional placement of firing positions close to social infrastructure, inside and aside civilian quarters.
So why does the U.S. want to stop the Syrian government forces in their attempt to free the parts of the city which are undoubtedly held by al-Qaeda?
Under U.S. Proxy Attack Russia Readies For Full War In Syria
U.S. State Department Daily Press Briefing September 28 2016 - Spokesperson John Kirby
QUESTION: But what I don’t think we have heard here is, so what are the consequences for Russia if this agreement falls through beyond some interagency discussions about options that have not yet been chosen? What are the consequences for Russia other than Secretary Kerry won’t talk to them on this particular issue going forward?
MR KIRBY: The consequences are that the civil war will continue in Syria, that extremists and extremists groups will continue to exploit the vacuums that are there in Syria to expand their operations, which will include, no question, attacks against Russian interests, perhaps even Russian cities, and Russia will continue to send troops home in body bags, and they will continue to lose resources – even, perhaps, more aircraft.
The Russian Federation interpreted that not as a prediction or warning, but as a direct threat.
Monument to defense of Sevastopol in the second world war 1941-1942 - bigger
The ceasefire agreement fell through. The U.S. essentially blocked it by NOT pushing its proxy forces in Syria to follow its provisions. It blamed, as usual, the Russian side which had followed the ceasefire nearly to the letter.
Then this happened:
Russia Finds - Shaming The U.S. Government Into Action Can Work
Russia has now managed twice to shame the U.S. into action against Jihadis by publicly demonstrating that the U.S. is not really committed to its promises.
During 2014 and 2015 the U.S. did very little to attack the Islamic State. U.S. strikes hit irrelevant targets like an "ISIS excavator" or some lone truck. Meanwhile ISIS was making millions per day from pumping oil out of the Syrian desert and selling it to Turkish contacts. Hundreds of Turkish tanker trucks assembled near the oil wells in south-east Syria waiting to load. No airstrike would hit them.
The Russians saw this and were appalled. The loudmouth U.S. spoke about its big coalition and attacking ISIS but did essentially nothing. The Russian President Putin then decided to shame the U.S. and Obama personally. On November 15 2015 at the G20 meeting in Turkey he walked around the table and showed satellite pictures to his international colleagues. Hundreds of trucks waiting in the Syrian desert for loading without fear that anyone would harm them:
Special Interests Create The "Good", The "Bad" And The "Compelling" Story - The Media Tell It
A thoughtful analysis by Amanda Taub of the New York Times describes why some wars get more "western" public attention than others:
Conflicts gain sustained American attention only when they provide a compelling story line that appeals to both the public and political actors, and for reasons beyond the human toll. That often requires some combination of immediate relevance to American interests, resonance with American political debates or cultural issues, and, perhaps most of all, an emotionally engaging frame of clearly identifiable good guys and bad guys.
Yemen’s death toll is lower than Syria’s, and although Al Qaeda does operate there, Yemen’s conflict has not had the kind of impact on American and European interests that Syria’s has. There is no obvious good-versus-evil story to tell there: The country is being torn apart by a variety of warring factions on the ground and pummeled from the air by Saudi Arabia, an American ally. There is no camera-ready villain for Americans to root against.
Those are good observations. But they themselves are part of the process they describe. They artificially create "good" and "bad" and are driven by "interests". (Side note: I doubt the sweeping claim "Yemen’s death toll is lower than Syria’s". The famine in northwest Yemen is very severe. The number of dead is simply not known yet but like in the hundred-thousands.)
Reporting does not depend on the existence of good and bad or the existence of a compelling story. Such thinking is just idealized nonsense. It is the media that creates the (often artificial) sides of a war on behalf of the interests. Good and bad are not inherent, they are constructs. A real compelling story is not needed. One can be created any time though it will likely not be a true one.
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Carl Spitzweg - The Poor Poet - bigger
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Open Thread 2016-32News & views ...
Syria - The U.S. Propaganda Shams Now Openly Fail
The Obama administration, and especially the CIA and the State Department, seem to be in trouble. They shout everything they can against Russia and allege that the cleansing of east-Aleppo of al-Qaeda terrorist is genocidal. Meanwhile no mention is ever made of the famine of the Houthis in Yemen which the U.S. and Saudi bombing and their blockade directly causes.
by Carlos Latuff - bigger
But more and more major news accounts support the Russian allegation that the "moderate rebels" the U.S. is coddling in Syria are actually in cahoots with al-Qaeda if not al-Qaeda itself.
Reuters reports (though only at the end of a longer story):
In Aleppo, rebels in the Free Syrian Army are sharing operational planning with Jaish al-Fatah, an alliance of Islamist groups that includes the former Syrian wing of al Qaeda.
Meanwhile, in nearby Hama province, FSA groups armed with U.S.-made anti-tank missiles are taking part in a major offensive with the al Qaeda-inspired Jund al-Aqsa group.
The Wall Street Journal is more direct and headlining: Syria Rebels Draw Closer to al Qaeda-Linked Group
Some of Syria’s largest rebel factions are doubling down on their alliance with an al Qaeda-linked group, despite a U.S. warning to split from the extremists or risk being targeted in airstrikes.
Some rebel groups already aligned with Syria Conquest Front responded by renewing their alliance. But others, such as Nour al-Din al-Zinki, a former Central Intelligence Agency-backed group and one of the largest factions in Aleppo, pledged allegiance for the first time to the front in recent days.
Indeed the al.Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham announced publicly that the CIA's Nour el-Din Zinki and Suqour al-Sham joined its Jihad
As little back as August the State Department defended Zinki after some of its member abducted a Palestinian boy from a hospital near Aleppo and beheaded him in front of a video camera:
[I]n State Department briefings, [..] spokesman Mark Toner downplayed the incidents, or the possibility that the US would stop arming Nour al-Din al-Zinki just because they beheaded a child..
Toner insisted [..] “one incident here and there would not necessarily make you a terrorist group.”
The new news reports follow after an interview by the German former politician and journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer with an al-Qaeda commander published in English on this site. The commander said that Nusra (aka al-Qaeda) were directly supplied, via a subgroup, with U.S. TOW missiles. He added about such groups:
A Few Links On Syria And Other Issues
Just a few links ...
The White House and State Department are miffed that Syria and Russia are cleaning up their Jihadis in Aleppo city.
There is a false claims evolving in western "news" that the current Aleppo operation led to the breakdown of the ceasefire agreement. Two points on this: 1. The ceasefire did not "break down". It expired after a previously agreed period. Both sides did not agree to a prolongation. 2. The most important ceasefire point was the physical separation of al-Qaida and other U.S. proxy rebels. The U.S. was unable (or unwilling) to fulfill that point.
The main priority in Syria, according to the document, is the demarcation of territory controlled by Daesh and al-Nusra Front terrorist groups and territories controlled by Syrian rebels.
After the end of the ceasefire the U.S. and its subaltern allies are flooding Syria with new weapons:
"Experts" Fail To Debunk Todenhöfer Al-Qaeda Interview
UPDATE (Sep28): Todenhöfer now responded to the "hoax" allegations and complete refutes them. END-UPDATE
One "Syrian activist", Mohamed Al Neser, started a chain with a curious claim against the veracity of the interview by looking at this picture taken during the interview by Jörg Todenhöfer's son Frederick.
Mohamed Al Neser @M_Alneser
Nice try Todenhöfer but "AlQaeda" commander with golden ring is 8th wonder
11:44 AM - 26 Sep 2016
Oh, really? Osama Bin Laden was the 8th world-wonder?
An Inconsequential Debate
These two were on some TV show last night? They subsequently had champagne?
From the first reactions I see the show made no difference to the outcome of the U.S. election. Both sides spin that their paymasters won.
My hunch is still that this election will come down to a deeply felt "not-Clinton" attitude in the general U.S. electorate.
Would that be good or bad? I don't know. Both candidates are obviously lying. Clinton proudly knows some very selective facts. Her general plans can be inferred from her political history. They would be mostly bad for this world. Trump doesn't care about facts, nor do most voters. Nobody seems to know what his real plans would be. With him we all are in for a lot of surprises - likely bad ones.
From a global perspective the election again shows why U.S. global influences must be cut to size. The fate of the world should not be left in the hands of some Intellectuals but Idiots, to people who can not see beyond their noses, to "thinkers" for whom human history starts with their high school prom. Their linear analysis, their inexperience with real life, their linear solutions are inadequate for our complex, non-linear world. This needs to change.
Such a change requires some cataclysmic events. Both candidates seem well positioned to achieve such.
Todenhöfer: Interview With Al-Nusra Commander "The Americans stand on our side"
This interview by Jürgen Todenhöfer was first published in German on September 26 2016 by the Kölner Stadtanzeiger, the major newspaper in the Cologne region. (The interview was copied and translated to English by Bernhard for educational and academic purposes.)
Interview with al-Nusra commander "The Americans stand on our side"
By Jürgen Todenhöfer
It was the seventh trip by my son Frederic and me to the civil war country Syria. We were there for 13 days. Words can only barely describe the extend of damage and suffering on both sides.
We conducted the interview ten days ago with a commander of the al-Qaida branch "Jabhat al-Nusra". Abu al-Ezz reported quite openly about his financiers Saudi-Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait. We were able to exactly research the identity of the man and know practically everything about him.
Interview in the stone quarry in Aleppo
The interview was arranged by a rebel from Aleppo. I have had contacts to Syrian rebels for years. It was conducted outside of Aleppo in a quarry in direct sight- and shooting-distance of Jabhat al-Nusra and could only be reached safely by a member of al-Nusra.
His fighters were partially not masked, i.e. easily identifiable. Part of his statements were nearly verbally confirmed shortly thereafter by a mufti in Aleppo. Other assertions about the lack of interest of rebels towards a ceasefire and an international aid-convoy also bore out. Just like his predictions about planned military activities in several cities of Syria.
Abu al-Ezz, commander, says about Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda): "We are one part of al-Qaeda. Our principles are: Fighting vice, pureness and security. Our affairs and our way have changed. Israel, for example, is now supporting us, because Israel is at war with Syria and with Hizbullah.
America also changed its opinion about us. Originally "IS" and us were one group. But "IS" was used in the interests of big states like America, for political reasons, and was steered away from our principles. It became clear to us that most of their leaders work with secret security services. We, Jabhat al-Nusra, have our own way. In the past they with us, they were our supporters.
Our aim is the downfall of the dictatorial regime, the tyrannical regime, the regime of the apostate. Our aim is the conduct of conquests, like [the great Arab general] Khaled ibn al-Walid made them. First in the Arab world and then in Europe."
Part 2 - The Interview by Jürgen Todenhöfer with the rebel commander Abu al-Ezz
Jürgen Todenhöfer: How is the relation between you and the United States? Does the U.S. support the rebels?
Syria - Conflicting Reports, Dubious Witnesses Challenge Convoy Attack Case
The Washington Post tries an "explainer" piece to reconstruct the recent attack on an aid convoy in Urum al-Kubra, west of Aleppo. The sources are anonymous U.S. officials and members of the U.S./UK paid agitprop organization "White Helmets". I am curious about one of those "witnesses":
That Monday was a warm fall evening. Ammar al-Selmo, a local rescue worker, was making tea in a building across the street. Stepping onto a balcony just after 7 p.m., when it was already past dusk, he said he listened to a helicopter swoop in and drop two barrel bombs on the convoy.
Haven't we heard that name before? Ammar al-Selmo?
"There are planes in the sky now," Ammar al Selmo, the head of the Civil Defence rescue service in the opposition-held east, told Reuters from Aleppo on Saturday morning.
Another WaPo pieces also say that Selmo is not just a local tea drinking rescue worker in Urum al-Kubra:
By nightfall, more than 100 bombs had landed, and more than 80 people were dead, said Ammar al-Selmo, head of the Aleppo branch of the White Helmets civil defense group.
So Anmar al-Selmo is some average local dude in Urum al-Kubra, outside of Aleppo city. He is, at the time, head of al-Qaeda's propaganda shop within the besieged east-Aleppo. Let me guess: The guy sits somewhere in Turkey and is talking to "reporters" via some untraceable Internet application. They have no idea where he really is, nor any interest to find out.
There are more issues with the "explainer" piece. It says that the convoy was loading in Urum al-Kubra to then go into Aleppo city:
On a clear afternoon last Monday a line of humanitarian aid trucks eased to a stop in front of a cluster of warehouses packed with aid supplies 15 miles outside the Syrian city of Aleppo.
Omar Barakat, director of the local Red Crescent branch, supervised the loading of the 31-vehicle convoy, which was scheduled to drive into the battered city that evening.
But the International Committee of the Red Cross said the opposite:
Around twenty civilians and one SARC staff member were killed, as they were unloading trucks carrying vital humanitarian aid.
Other sources confirm this:
U.N. officials said the U.N. and Red Crescent convoy was delivering assistance for 78,000 people in the town of Uram al-Kubra, west of Aleppo city.
The convoy was unloading goods for Uram al-Kubra say the Red Cross and the UN. But it was loading goods for east-Aleppo says WaPo? Hmm ...
Curious is also that the U.S. now claims that both, Russian and Syrian government forces, conducted a strike on the convoy:
Eyewitness accounts, along with social media postings and video, including footage of the wreckage, added to assessments by U.S. defense officials, show that the convoy was obliterated by airstrikes, first by helicopters dropping barrels loaded with explosives and shrapnel — a long-standing tactic of the Syrian government — and then by Russian bombers.
Earlier U.S. Secretary of State Kerry claimed that Syrian government forces were "evidently" responsible for the attack. Later U.S. intelligence claimed "the Russians did it":
Mr. Kerry initially said Syrian forces were "evidently" responsible for the convoy attack, which killed at least 12 people. The U.S. officials said new intelligence indicates that Russian forces, rather than the Syrians, conducted the strike.
And now it is both? And this conclusion is based on what? "Eyewitness accounts" from one Ammar al-Selmo who sits who-knows-where?
The "explainer piece also says that the Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov demands an investigation of the incident. But it was UN aid chief Stephen O'Brien who first called for an independent investigation:
I call for an immediate, impartial and independent investigation into this deadly incident. The perpetrators should know that they will one day be held accountable for violations of international humanitarian and human rights law.
There is no response yet by the U.S. to this UN demand. Might that be because the U.S. and its media can't get the facts straight?
Corbyn Wins In Stunning Defeat Of Blairite Establishment
In a stupendous defeat of establishment and pseudo-left media like The Guardian, as well as Blairite interventionists, Jeremy Corbyn again won the Labour leadership elections.
Corbyn received more votes than the last time he was elected.
A massive campaign against Corbyn had been driven by nearly all British media and nearly all established Labour MP's. It prevented Labour attacks on the Tories when those were in deep trouble over the Brexit vote. Those MPS must shut up - or leave.
It is now up to Corbyn to develop a new political Labour platform that offers a real alternative to the destructive rerun of Thatcher policies by Prime Minister Theresa May. It could be the start of a dawn of the left in all of Europe.
Congratulations to him and good luck!
Hillary Clinton Lost
The U.S. presidential election of 2016 is decided. Hillary Clinton will not win. She knows it:
(You can turn the sound off. It is irrelevant.)
Clinton was talking during a video conference of the Laborers' International Union of North America. She is furious with everything around her. She does not understand why she (again) failed.
The polls are turning against her. "But Trump is lying!"
Of course he is. Everyone knows he is lying. He is a salesman seeking his own advantage. He is expected to lie and to exaggerate. He does not even hide it. He is authentic in his lying.
That's why he is - to many people - still a likeable man who one can deep down basically trust.
Hillary Clinton is a politician. She claims not lie. But from her extensive public record people know that lying is exactly what she does. She is thereby not authentic. She does not inspire confidence. Nor does she inspire sympathy. Just see her terrible, angry performance above.
Does she really believe that campaign ads with Michael Hayden, Max Boot and other failed neocons will get her any votes?
She already lost the young people. She lost the military who are far less interventionist than the politicians. No one of the real, non-interventionist left will ever vote for her. Here move to the right, away from criticizing the Republican party, enables Republicans to win more congressional seats than necessary:
Through the end of May, the plan to “disaggregate” Trump, as it was described in one lengthy email, remained a source of frustration for Miranda, the campaign’s go-between on messaging at the DNC. In the same email, subject-lined “Problem with HFA [Hillary For America],” he argued that the campaign’s frame — that “Trump is much worse than regular Republicans” — would give down-ballot GOP candidates an “easy out” and put every Democrat not named Clinton at a possible disadvantage. (“It might be a good strategy ONLY for Clinton,” Miranda wrote.) Worse, he added, the strategy would put the party “at odds” with the its own broader message against Republicanism.
This is a (well deserved) disaster for her party.
There is some Hail Mary chance for the Democrats to still win. Immediately retire Clinton for medical reasons. Draft Sanders and offer Tulsi Gabbard the vice-presidency. Otherwise, I predict, Trump will win.
To what outcome?
Nobody knows. Electing Trump is a blind dart throw with unpredictable results. But that still feels better than to again see a Clinton in the White House.