Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 29, 2016

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

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

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

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

Washington Post - December 28 2016

On the road to Raqqa:

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by b at 12:11 AM | Comments (99)

December 28, 2016

Syria - Peace Talk Rumors And Parameters

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by b at 11:07 AM | Comments (82)

December 27, 2016

Syria Roundup: Aleppo Liberated - Turkey's Problems Increase

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


bigger

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

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

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

December 26, 2016

Open Thread 2016-44

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

News & views ...

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

December 24, 2016

Hope

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

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


Picture courtesy of the Bethlehem Association

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

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

Posted by b at 03:00 AM | Comments (104)

December 23, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by b at 03:28 PM | Comments (104)

December 21, 2016

How The Military Excluded The White House From International Syria Negotiations

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gareth Porter still found some usable bits in it:

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

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

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

With the attack on Deir Ezzor the Pentagon has:

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by b at 01:34 PM | Comments (122)

December 20, 2016

Open Thread 2016-43

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

News & views ...

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

December 19, 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by b at 01:15 PM | Comments (129)

December 18, 2016

Sabotage Of East-Aleppo Evacuation Is Part Of A Plan

Update (Dec 19, 0:00 EST):

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

End-Update - original post follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by b at 11:56 AM | Comments (114)

December 17, 2016

Open Thread 2016-42

News & views ...

Posted by b at 04:48 AM | Comments (173)

December 16, 2016

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

China Just Seized an Unmanned US Navy Sub

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

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

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

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

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

Rolls-Royce sketch for future unmanned cargo ship - bigger

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

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

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

What would the legal answers be?

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

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

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

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

December 15, 2016

The "Elite" Coup Of 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cont. reading: The "Elite" Coup Of 2016

Posted by b at 01:56 PM | Comments (260)

December 13, 2016

MSM Create #Fakenews Storm As Rebel Aleppo Vanishes

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

Consider this BBC headline and opener:

Aleppo battle: UN says 82 civilians shot on the spot

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But there are also the wonders of Aleppo.

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

Posted by b at 11:57 AM | Comments (178)

December 12, 2016

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

A few recent headlines of #fakenews:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 11, 2016

Open Thread 2016-41

News & views ...

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

December 10, 2016

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

UPDATE: Dec 11 1:00am EST

Yesterday I noted below:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

End Update

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by b at 01:24 PM | Comments (163)

December 09, 2016

Official Fake News Numbers Will Have Serious Consequences

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But somehow those numbers are now inoperative.

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

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

Here are more officially faked news and numbers:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted by b at 06:50 AM | Comments (89)

December 08, 2016

Russia Today Plagiarizes Moon of Alabama - Correspondence - Act I

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 07, 2016

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

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

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

Map by @NatDefFor - bigger

This is the map as of this morning.

Map by @NatDefFor - bigger

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

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

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

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

December 06, 2016

Russia Today Plagiarizes Moon of Alabama - Which Is The "Russian Propaganda Outlet"?

UPDATED below

This site, Moon of Alabama, gets defamed and falsely accused of being a "Russian propaganda outlet". One would assume that any such outlet would get its leads and orders from Russia or its media. We now find that it is the other way round. An official Russian state outlet is stealing content from us.

On November 28 RT Deutsch, the German TV and web edition of the Russian state financed global news outlet Russia Today, published an opinion piece by one Rainer Rupp. That piece is in its core idea and wide parts a rip-off and translated copy of a piece I wrote and published on Moon of Alabama on November 25.

After a complain Moon of Alabama is now mentioned as a source for specifically one small sentence in the RT Deutsch piece. But the whole idea that is the main theme of the piece if based on the MoA piece. Core paragraphs are nearly verbal (translated) copies. Their original authorship is not in any way marked or mentioned.

The content was simply stolen, including the links I provided, and published under the name of some author I do not even know.

When I, the original author, contacted RT Deutsch I first received no replies at all and only after insisting a promise to check the issue from the Director and editor in chief of RT Deutsch. A week later nothing has happened. Neither was I contacted back nor was a sufficient link or explanation added to the stolen content.

On November 30 the Director of RT Deutsch, Ivan Rodionov tweeted this promotion for a piece published at the RT site:


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His tweet promoted a piece on his RT Deutsch website headlined: Putins "Witz" war todernst – und entlarvt die Halbbildung unserer "intellektuellen Eliten". (Translated: Putin's joke was dead serious - and exposes the superficial knowledge of our "intellectual elites".)


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The piece is authored by one Rainer Rupp and was published as opinion piece at "deutsch.rt.com" on November 28 at 17:00 local time.

The original piece by me was published here on November 25 under the headline: Putin Tutors Euklidean Geometry - Pundits Say "All Greek To Me".

The gist: The "western" media made an "Imperial Putin wants to extend Russia's border" scandal out of a mathematical lecture Putin had given a pupil on public TV:

Putin asked a pupil: "Where do Russia's borders end?" The answer "nowhere" is the (only) mathematically and geographically correct one. The geographic area characterized by a border is limited. The circumferential (border) line is, by mathematical definition, not "limited" in the sense that it has no beginning and no end (it has a length though).

The RT Deutsch is widely based, even verbatim, on the Moon of Alabama piece but MoA is openly referred only in relation to one sentence:

Cont. reading: Russia Today Plagiarizes Moon of Alabama - Which Is The "Russian Propaganda Outlet"?

Posted by b at 02:26 PM | Comments (107)

December 05, 2016

Syria Roundup: East-Aleppo Siege Nears Its End

This is the situation in east-Aleppo as of Dec 4, 6PM ET. The enclosed green area, held by al-Qaeda and its allies, will soon be gone.

Map via Fabrice Balanche - bigger

The British Foreign Minister says that the foreseeable Syrian government victory in Aleppo will not be a gain at all. Bollocks. He and his colleagues have obviously given up on the case and now issue face saving laments. Syria's alliance is winning, U.S. policy is changing and the end of the war is now foreseeable. The British MI-6 propaganda operation "Bana Alabed" expired. The operation's main star was a seven year old girl in east-Aleppo who could not speak English but tweeted world politics in perfect Twitter-English even when the Internet in all Aleppo was down. It has now vanished. This is just like one of the first anti-Syrian propaganda operations, the "Gay girl in Damascus", which expired in 2011 shortly before its male U.S. operator in Scotland was exposed. What will all the media who have willfully fallen for this "Bana" nonsense now tell their viewers and readers?

Since the start of the Syrian army offense on the Takfiri held east-Aleppo some 21,000+ civilians have left towards the government held areas in the western part. Several news accounts confirm that these civilians had been held hostages by the Takfiris and had to flee under fire:

Cont. reading: Syria Roundup: East-Aleppo Siege Nears Its End

Posted by b at 04:51 AM | Comments (141)

December 03, 2016

Open Thread 2016-40

News & views ...

Posted by b at 10:46 AM | Comments (187)

Roy Gutman's Hakawati

The so called "journalist" Roy Gutman is marketing an old fairy tale in three acts. It was the Syrian President Assad who created ISIS. Assad also faked the Al-Qaeda bombings in Syria to get sympathy in the "west". The Daily Beast even paid Gutman to publish this nonsense:

This series charts Assad’s major role in the rise of Islamic extremism from the inside.
...
the regime likely staged bombings of its own security facilities in 2011 and 2012 to foster the impression that al Qaeda had an armed presence in Syria long before it did.
...
Syrian intelligence received orders to stand by when al Qaeda fighters crossed from Iraq into Syria in 2012.

But where did Gutman get such extraordinary information? On would think that some very credible witnesses were needed and on-the-ground research would be necessary to verify these claims. But as he himself writes:

Raed Ilawy, an Islamist recruit from Hama, was among the Syrians who traveled to the mosque. Some of the trainers, he recalled in an interview at an Istanbul café, ...

and

Dendal was introduced to this reporter by a former regime judge from Aleppo who deserted to the opposition. Interviewed in a café in Istanbul’s popular Fatih district, ...

Deserters and Islamist activists telling stories which blame their declared enemies - excellent witnesses. Those stories then must be true. Right? Gutman himself writes that the CIA does not believe the fairy tales he was told over coffee in Istanbul, nor does anyone else who is knowledgeable about the issue. Gutman is unable to get any official confirmation for his claims. Indeed the DNI refutes his tales:

The CIA declined to comment but did not dispute the validity of the question. “I looked into this, and there is nothing we can add,” a spokeswoman said.
...
The CIA declined to comment.
...
After bombings in Damascus Jan. 6 and Aleppo Feb. 10, 2012, James Clapper, the director of National Intelligence, told Congress in mid-February that the explosions “had all the earmarks of an al Qaeda-like attack.” He added: “And so we believe al Qaeda in Iraq is extending its reach into Syria.

In 2012 Rania Abouzeid interviewed Jabhat al Nusra (al-Qaeda) fighters in Raqqa and wrote about it for Time. They confirm that many came from Iraq and were silently in Syria even before the "revolution".

But whatever - activists say the Syrian government did it ... - is all the validity Gutman needs.

In the second act of the farce Gutman meets another witness:

the actual numbers were smaller, according to Abdullah Hakawati, an activist who helped organize anti-government protests in Aleppo ... Hakawati provided the name of the officer, but he could not be reached to verify the account.

Elijah Magnier urged Gutman (who does not speak Arabic) to find out what that activist's alleged surname means.

From the description of a book titled The Hakawati we learn:

As the family gathers, stories begin to unfold: Osama's grandfather was a hakawati, or storyteller, and his bewitching tales are interwoven with classic stories of the Middle East.

So this was one of Gutman's witnesses?


Pic: Syria: ‘al-Hakawati’ – the Storytelling Tour in Sweden 2015

Ha! Some Syrian activist made a joke over duping a gullible journalist over coffee in Istanbul by giving his name as Mr. Storyteller! Dumb as bricks the journalist and his editors at the Daily Beast fall for it.

Gutman stenographed a great fairy tale just as the various hakawatis in Istanbul's cafes tell it. With that he vividly demonstrated how "fake news" are created. I doubt though that this was his intention.

(Edited Sun, Dec 4, 0:45am, CIA part corrected with added quotes - b.)

Posted by b at 10:27 AM | Comments (45)

December 02, 2016

December 1942 - Expert: A Soviet Occupation Of Stalingrad Would Be Too Costly

Stalingrad, December 1942.

The German 6th Army and attached allied forces under General Paulus are surrounded and besieged by the Soviet Red Army. A relief attack from the outside of the cauldron has failed. The besieged have few supplies and can not hold out on their own.

But Karl Auflister, a Soviet Union expert working at the Slavic Institute in Berlin, does not believe that the Red Army will storm the city.

"The Soviets are hedging their bets. They would prefer to make a deal with the German forces," he said. "If Stalingrad were to fall, the Soviet regime would need so many troops to hold the city that its forces would be left thin elsewhere in the country."

Cont. reading: December 1942 - Expert: A Soviet Occupation Of Stalingrad Would Be Too Costly

Posted by b at 02:03 PM | Comments (41)

December 01, 2016

Russia Again Disciplines The Wannabe Sultan

The Russians just gave (again) a public lecture of how to handle the wannabe-Sultan Erdogan.

Turkey entered Syria to end al-Assad’s rule: President Erdoğan  - November 29

The Turkish military launched its operations in Syria to end the rule of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said Nov. 29.

“In my estimation, nearly 1 million people have died in Syria. These deaths are still continuing without exception for children, women and men. Where is the United Nations? What is it doing? Is it in Iraq? No. We preached patience but could not endure in the end and had to enter Syria together with the Free Syrian Army [FSA],” Erdoğan said at the first Inter-Parliamentary Jerusalem Platform Symposium in Istanbul.

“Why did we enter? We do not have an eye on Syrian soil. The issue is to provide lands to their real owners. That is to say we are there for the establishment of justice. We entered there to end the rule of the tyrant al-Assad who terrorizes with state terror. [We didn’t enter] for any other reason,” the president said.

If Turkish troops were in Syria to remove its President, instead with the flimsy excuse of fighting ISIS under a badly fitting UN mandate, they would be a hostile invasion force and a legitimate target for Syria and its allies. The remark was thus stupid.  It weakened the Turkish position.

Erdogan was immediately told so:

Cont. reading: Russia Again Disciplines The Wannabe Sultan

Posted by b at 11:04 AM | Comments (106)

November 30, 2016

Modi's Bank Transaction Tax May Lead To Larger Conflicts

The current Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, has a history of racism and can be described as a neo-fascist. A more pleasant label is Hindu nationalist but that essentially means the same.

It now turns out that Modis extremism in not confined to the nationalist bend but includes some crazy economic ideas.

Modi decided to demonetize the country from one day to another. Every bank note valued at over US$7 was taken out of circulation. The rather crazy idea behind this is to move all monetary transactions to some electronic money systems and to then tax each and every transaction. All other kind of taxes would be abolished.

Only a lunatic without any knowledge of actual economic issues can support such a move.

The predictable result of the sudden demonetization is a liquidity crunch. There suddenly is only half the amount of money in circulation than before. Bills can not be paid, salaries are withheld, services are unused because their is no money to pay for them. The government wants to move the people to open up bank accounts but the banking infrastructure in India is rudimentary, the systems running are old and the software inadequate to handle the masses. Mobs Lock Up Bankers as Pay Day Turns Pain Day in India is a current Bloomberg headline.

The protests have not reached their climax yet but expect some serious riots in India over the next weeks and months should Modi continue on this path. It will be even worse when, in a second step, the new tax system is introduced.

Taxing all transactions is digressive. The poor will end up up paying more than the rich as all kinds of property taxes and the like will end. Estimates say that the tax rate would have to be 4 to 6% on each monetary transfer to be able to eliminate all other taxes.

Manufacturing, which builds complex products from a number of pre-processed parts and inputs, will end up highly taxed. Each screw in a part that goes into a car will have been taxed when transferred from the steelmaker to the wholesale steel deal to the screw maker to the part manufacturer to the car manufacturer to the consumer. With several percents of taxes on each of these transaction this will end up as a very expensive car. There are products which easily include a dozen such stages or more.

"Sin taxes" on alcohol, gasoline and other socially or environmentally harmful stuff will be missing as regulatory instruments. Custom issues and double taxation agreements with other countries will be highly problematic.

The Indian bureaucracy is not the most capable in the world. The banking infrastructure, especially in the still mostly rural parts of India, is only sparse. It is practically impossible to have such a brutal, large conversion of the whole economy without major breakdowns.

The first real economic trouble will be noted soon. Liquidity crunches are usually followed by sharp drops in productivity and general economic activity. India until recently had a fast growing economy. It is very likely to now go into recession.

Taxes on a currency will lead to a shadow economy where people will used other means to pay, especially for small daily transfers. The new currency will probably be cigarettes or whatever can be bargained. The tax income will therefore likely be lower than estimated as the use of offcial money, then electronic money, in daily life will decline.

Modi was in favor of a transaction tax economy since at least 2013 though it did not play a role in his campaign and policy speeches. The people are unprepared for it and the large bumps that will come with its implementation.

My fear though is that Modi will do the usual nationalist / fascist trick when problems with the economy occur. He is unlikely to give up on his aims.  He will rather look for an enemy and accuse it of causing the problems. Divert the peoples attention by a war on - take your choice: Pakistan, China, Muslims in general, any local opposition or whatever. There will always be someone to blame.

So far Modi had a rather successful run as Premier. His tax project may well ruin that. Given his background his solution will likely be to seek a conflict. In a nuclear India with a nuclear arch-enemy Pakistan nearby that is some worrisome perspective.

Posted by b at 02:29 PM | Comments (121)

November 29, 2016

Trump Is Trying To Divert Us From - What?

Another Trump tweet, another fake scandal:

Donald J. Trump Verified account @realDonaldTrump

Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag - if they do, there must be consequences - perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!

3:55 AM - 29 Nov 2016

That burning flag stuff is no so exiting. The oh so luberal Hillary Clinton tried to punish flag burning too. In 2005, as Senator from New York, she introduced the Flag Protection Act of 2005 to achieve that:

It called for a punishment of one year in jail and a fine of $100,000.

The act was not taken up by Congress. During her recent campaign Clinton strongly condemned the burning of an Israeli flag.

In 2006 a vote for a constitutional amendment to punish flag burning failed in the Senate. The Supreme Court had ruled in 1989 that the burning of the U.S. flag, or any other flag, is free speech covered by the first amendment. It is settled law and there is little to no chance that it will change. The issue is a political gimmick that is used every once a while to set up certain conservative groups against certain free speech defenders.

As such it is a diversion.

More important is that Trump is suggesting a "loss of citizenship" as a punishment. That should really enrage people. Loss of citizenship for using free speech rights?!? If Trump would try to implement that a real revolution would be justified.

But I believe it is, like many other things Trump says, just red meat for the media and his supporters. They will be busy covering this for a full news cycle or even longer.

During his campaign Trump used such gimmicks to divert attention from this or that scandal involving him or his business whenever such threatened to creep up to the top news line. It always worked like a charm. The media fell for each and every new "scandal" he fabricated with a few tweets or lines on the campaign trail. Journalists, "experts" and editors went off to discuss his latest bit while Trump's huge scandals, like his University scam, barely made the headline.

But why is Trump doing this now? Where does he has to divert attention from?

The recounts the Green candidate Stein tries to initiate are not endangering him. Stein collected several million dollars knowing that the legal conditions and time for such recounts do not exist. It is basically a scam to cover her pension.

Trump's cabinet selections are the usual horror troupe of Republican U.S. administrations. There is no real surprise there and no scandal.

So what is Trump trying to cover up here? Is some long-read piece with scandalous details about him and his daughter ready to go to print? Is he doing something else he does not want us to see?

I have been looking around all day and find no answer. Any ideas?

Posted by b at 11:49 AM | Comments (186)

November 27, 2016

Syria Roundup: Jihadi Fronts Fall Apart - Egypt Enters The Fight

UPDATE of the part describing the east-Aleppo enclave:

The whole north of the Jihadist held part is liberated, some 40+% of the territory. A new map is here. Up to 10,000 civilians fled to the government areas. (This makes a joke out of the UN 250k claim.) The water pump works for all Aleppo are back in the hand of the government. Supply is to resume.

End Update

The Syrian army (SAA) and its allies made huge progress in east-Aleppo. There, as seemingly everywhere else, the Jihadi' fronts are breaking down. Disunity in the opposition, in reflection of disunity among their sponsors, disrupts all of their attempts for new initiatives. The largely hidden Russian air campaign behind the "rebel" frontlines diminished their material and personal reserves.

New help for the Syrian alliance will soon come in form of Egyptian forces. With various "rebel" enclaves eliminated by fighting or peace deals more Syrian troops will be freed and become available for new campaigns. Turkey has been told in no uncertain words to pull back from its Syria (and Iraq) plans. With more forces available and under solid Russian (air) protection new SAA initiatives towards Idleb in the north of the country as well as against Raqqa in the east will now become possible.

After breaking the Jihadi front in the north-eastern part of the east-Aleppo cauldron yesterday, the defenses there fell completely apart. The Jihadis had to pull back and the whole norther third of the Jihadi held east-Aleppo is now rapidly falling to the Syrian government forces. The main reason for the defeat of the Jihadis is - tadaaah - the "lack of hospitals":

"The revolutionaries are fighting fiercely but the volume of bombardments and the intensity of the battles, the dead and the wounded, and the lack of hospitals, are all playing a role in the collapse of these frontlines," said an official from Jabha Shamiya, one of the biggest groups fighting against Assad in northern Syria.

The destruction of the last hospital for transsexual cats in Aleppo by a thermobaric barrel nuke must have been the tipping point of the fight. This is, I believe, the first time such a ludicrous propaganda excuse has been given for a total defeat.

In reality the Syrian forces are avoiding casualties and use their overwhelming firepower to clear the way before their infantry proceeds. This demolishes any defense line the "rebels" can set up even before the real fighting starts. Only hardened and very disciplined troops could hold such a line under fire and offer real resistance. The "rebels" can't.

The map, via Electronic Resistance, shows the SAA progress today:

Cont. reading: Syria Roundup: Jihadi Fronts Fall Apart - Egypt Enters The Fight

Posted by b at 01:00 PM | Comments (145)

A Short History Lesson On Cuba By The New Thinker

The death of Fidel Castro brought public comments of some of the most rightwing nutters living in the U.S. and of some of its best people. Whoever wants to discuss Cuba, its past, present and future, should know some history. Here is a copy of a valuable lesson @The New Thinker aka Ejike gave on Twitter:

Viva Fidel. Your revolutionary courage & your commitment to fighting for the self-determination of the Cuban people will never be forgotten

To truly understand Cuba and in fact the rest of Latin America you need to study the Monroe doctrine in 1823

It's important to note that the US in the early 19th century wasn't strong enough to stop Europe from colonizing Latin America... not yet

That ended in the late 1800s. Look up the Cuban War of Independence where the Cuban people had been whooping the Spanish colonial government

As Cuba was on the verge of liberating itself from Spanish control America intervened in what is shamefully dubbed the Spanish-American war

In 1898 the US intervened in order to "liberate" Cuba frm its humanitarian crisis which was a cover to prevent Cuba frm becoming independent

Cont. reading: A Short History Lesson On Cuba By The New Thinker

Posted by b at 06:14 AM | Comments (78)

November 26, 2016

¡Adiós A Fidel Castro!

Rest in Peace

Fidel Castro


August 13 1926 - November 26 2016

 

 

Posted by b at 01:44 AM | Comments (118)

November 25, 2016

Putin Tutors Euklidean Geometry - Pundits Say "All Greek To Me"

Go read the previous post first, then add this for a bit of additional entertainment.

A Russian TV event (vid) covered a nation wide geographic competition for schools children. This is somewhat comparable to the national spelling bee contest in the U.S. and elsewhere.

The guest star at the event was the Russian President Vladimir Putin. He was on stage with a nine year old participant who gave his specialties as "borders, neighboring countries and capitals." Putin asked the candidate "Where do Russia's borders end". The answer was "In the Bering Strait at the border with the U.S." Putin replied: "Russia's border does not end anywhere."

(When the audience then laughed and Putin sensed that it did not immediately get the real meaning of what he said he added: "That was a joke.")

But it was no joke. It was serious science. A whole lot of pundits, "western" reporters and anti-Putin haters now claim that Putin somehow did wrong, showed lust for new, unlimited Russian expansion or announced the fourth World War for the coming new Russian Empire.

See for example the BBC, Newsweek, Daily Mail, Express and many others who felt the urgent need to comment on a Russian quiz for kids. From the Newsweek piece:

A Kremlin spokesperson was not immediately available to explain if the joke referred to Russia’s military efforts to redraw the borders of Moldova, Georgia and most recently Ukraine, or if the president had a different, more figurative meaning in mind.
...
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Finland, whose country has experienced firsthand Russia’s willingness to alter its borders, tweeted a photo of a ruined country log cabin with the ironic caption ‘Russia’s borders end nowhere.’

ALL THESE WRITERS, THEIR EDITORS, THE PUNDITS AND DIPLOMATS MUST HAVE SLEPT THROUGH BASIC MATH LECTURES, ESPECIALLY IN EUCLIDEAN GEOMETRY OF TWO DIMENSIONS. It is all Greek to them - literally.

The basic definition of a border is:

A part that forms the outer edge of something.

A country, any country, is defined by a limited area (or areas) with an area characterized by an outer edge and a circumferential line known as "a border". Does the circumferential line of, ideally, a circle have a limit? Does it have a beginning or an end? This is exactly what Putin asked the kid.

Putin asked a pupil: "Where do Russia's borders end?" The answer "nowhere" is the (only) mathematically and geographically correct one. The geographic area characterized by a border is limited. The circumferential (border) line is, by mathematical definition, not "limited" in the sense that it has no beginning and no end (it has a length though).

This is basic math which Putin sympathetically lectured to a child in a scientific school competition on public TV. It probably was too much for a tired  evening audience. That is not an excuse for professional writers (not) doing their day job. I am sure that, over time, the kid will get it. The "News" journalists though ...

Indeed one can bet on the low level of "western" scientific education, especially of political pundits and news writers, to make an "imperial intent" mountain out of any scientifically correct description of a flyspeck. It is a new subcategory of "fake news" that they expose. It has its roots in basic stupidity.

Posted by b at 08:59 AM | Comments (65)

Mainstream Reporting Foggy While MoA Smeared As "Russian Propaganda" Site

Hurriyet Daily News (Turkey), Nov 24 2016 - Three Turkish soldiers killed in suspected Syrian government air strike

Al Masdar News (Syria), Nov 25 2016 - Syrian Air Force denies bombing Turkish Army in east Aleppo

Avid readers of news sides will ask which of those reports is correct. They may turn to the so-called (hint: it's not) "paper of record", the New York Times and find this Nov 24 report: Syrian Warplanes Kill Turkish Soldiers Fighting in Syria

While that NYT headline claims certainty the text does not. It obediently repeats the Turkish government claim but adds:

Syrian Arab rebel forces fighting with the Turks said they had not received official notification that the Syrian government had launched the strike. One fighter said he had heard that the strike was from the Syrian government but heard later that it had been from the Islamic State. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a network based in Britain that monitors news from Syria, also said that the strike had been by the Islamic State.

An updated version of that report adds:

Some on the ground raised questions about whether the strike was undertaken by Syrian government forces. A network of activists who monitor the skies over Syria said Thursday that its watchers had spotted a Syrian aircraft taking off after 2 a.m. and also a Russian aircraft about the same time as the strike on Turkish forces occurred. It is impossible to know where the planes that were sighted went; they could easily have had another destination, the network said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a network based in Britain that monitors news from Syria, said the strike was by the Islamic State. But the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, is not known to have combat aircraft.

---
Excursus:
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) is a sophisticated disinformation outlet of the British foreign intelligence service MI-6. SOHR is on one side very manipulating, i.e. SOHR counts only foreigners, deserters of the Syrian army, ISIS and al-Qaeda fighters on the anti-government side as "rebels killed". Ten-thousands of Syrian civilians who took up arms to become well paid "Syrian rebel" fighters are counted as "civilians" when besieged, killed or wounded. On the other side SOHR provides the most complete and detailed record of the war. It helps its reputation and is the reason why it is a favorite quoted source for "western" news "reporting".
---

The answer to the reader's question is that both Hurriyet and Al Masdar, are right and the NYT writers are confused by the fog of war and too lazy to do basic research. The devil is, as always, in the details.

On November 23 a Turkish armored military vehicle was attacked near the village Wiqah north of Al-Bab in northern Syria. Some sources claimed a guided missile strike. ISIS related Twitter accounts claimed a suicide attack.

(Note: The above account has now been suspended.)

ISIS later released a picture of the claimed suicide bomber.

The SOHR account of the Turkish vehicle hit, cited by the NYT, obviously refers to this November 23 attack.

The air-attack on the Turkish soldiers north of Al-Bab happened on November 24 at 3:30am local time according to the Turkish army. It was confirmed to journalists by very senior people in Damascus. The Al Masdar News account though, seemingly denying such a strike, includes a very specific non-denial-denial quote:

A high-ranking official from the Syrian Arab Air Force (SAAYF) told Al-Masdar on Thursday night that their fighter jets did not bomb the Turkish Army in east Aleppo.

"No Syrian or Russian aircraft bombed the Turkish Army near Al-Bab on November 23rd - all reports claiming otherwise are lies," the official confirmed to Al-Masdar on Thursday.

The airstrike did not on occur on the 23rd, as "denied" by SAAYF, but on the 24th. The NYT report mixes up two attacks as one, while basic research shows evidence of two very different attacks. The Al Masdar folks do not understand the specificity of the quotes their sources give.

Mystery solved.

Hurriyet and others have connected the Syrian air-attack to the Turkish attack on a Russian jet exactly one year before. I doubt that this coincident is intended. Al-Bab, held by ISIS and coveted by nearby Turkish, Kurdish and Syrian government forces, is an important target that will be fought over between the various sides for some time to come. The hit was not some symbolic, historic revenge act, nor was it to roast Turkey for Thanksgiving, but a signal to Turkey that Al-Bab is and will stay off limits for its forces.

News accounts of war, be those of casualties, of specific incidents or assume motivations, are always suspect. They are often written with disinformation in mind. Historic accounts are mostly written by the winners of a specific conflict and heavily "colored" from that perspective. Forensic or video proof can be easily forged and should always be taken with many pinches of salt. Only diligent research on all sides of a conflict can uncover what really happened. Only when "reports" from opposite sides agree on numbers or specific incidents on can assume to be near the truth.

As the above news dissecting shows it is quite possible to beat the (lazy) New York Times reporting in correctness and thereby quality.

But when one tries to be diligent and not solely on one side, one can be sure to end up as denounced and hated by at least one if not all sides of a conflict. This website, MoonofAlabama.org, is now listed as "Russian propaganda outlet" by some neoconned, NATO aligned, anonymous  "Friendly Neighborhood Propaganda Identification Serviceprominently promoted by today's Washington Post. The minions running that censorship list also watch over our "Russian propaganda" Twitter account @MoonofA.

I wholeheartedly recommend to use at least parts of the list that new anonymous censorship entity provides as your new or additional "Favorite Bookmarks" list. It includes illustrious financial anti-fraud sites like Yves Smith's Naked Capitalism, Wikileaks, well informed libertarian sites like Ron Paul and AntiWar.com and leftish old timers like Counterpunch. Of general (non-mainstream) news sites Consortiumnews, run by Robert Parry who revealed the Iran-contra crimes, is included as well as Truthdig and Truth-out.org. Some easy to remove nazi sites have been added to that list to smear the serious ones. A rather stupid "trick" of "guilt by association" for which only the very dumb fall.

I am honored to find this site listed next to the above.

Posted by b at 06:56 AM | Comments (108)

November 23, 2016

Elijah Magnier On Fake News And Fake Analysts

While I am still knocked out somewhat by a nasty influenza let me recommend Elijah Magnier's most recent piece on the "fake news" and "fake analyst" media:

Syria and Iraq caught between the “new analysts’ and the politicised media

Some excerpts:

The wars in Syria and Iraq celebrated the unfortunate end of the “free and independent press” and the rise of the “neo-analysts”. They sit in far-off lands, with no ground knowledge of the war, collecting information and analysing the colourful bin of social networking sites.

They have even the temerity to believe they can dictate to the US administration what measures should be taken, who to support and, as if they had mastered the “art of war”, they even push for a nuclear war with Russia.

On Syria:

According to the US State Department and to the western press, over 90 hospitals were totally destroyed in eastern Aleppo in the last months at the rate of almost one destroyed hospital per day. And every day we hear “the last hospital has been totally destroyed”. The only problem with this figure is the statistic released by the Syrian Ministry of Health stating that “on the entire Syrian territory, there are only 88 hospitals”.
...
[W]hen jihadists and rebels start a large scale attack against Syrian Army forces and their allies, the media stand by, waiting for results. If the regime begins a military operation hospitals are destroyed and civilians are killed in the first hour of the battle. Rarely do militants die in mainstream media.

On Iraq:

Cont. reading: Elijah Magnier On Fake News And Fake Analysts

Posted by b at 01:47 PM | Comments (100)

November 21, 2016

How White Helmets Videos Are Made

The video below was originally uploaded on November 18 in the channel of the RFSMediaOffice (Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office), a propaganda organization supporting various groups fighting the Syrian state.

It depicts the "Making of" a scene where people in White Helmets outfit "rescue" a man. For some 20 seconds the two "rescuers" and the "victim" are motionless waiting for the command to start a hectic "rescue operation" and, when that starts, adds on the usual background sound of screaming people.

The embed is a copy I made from the original and posted on my account to make sure that it is preserved.

I do not know why the RFS Media Office would upload this. To show that the White Helmets and their videos are fake? Did they not pay their dues? Or was the channel hacked and the upload done by someone else?

The original title "Edge of death | #MannequinChallenge" points to some social media nonsense which The Telegraph describes as:

A viral video craze, it involves people imitating mannequins and freezing for the camera while music plays in the background.

So is this a fake? Or a fake of the fakes the original White Helmets videos are (this one for example)?

Not fake enough yet?

How about this Yahoo News headline: All hospitals in eastern Aleppo out of action after bombardments: officials. Now compare with this tweet by an NPR Middle East correspondent:

Alison Meuse Verified account @AliTahmizian - 2:20 AM - 21 Nov 2016

MSF says four out of eight hospitals in eastern Aleppo city are currently out of service, including the only dedicated pediatric hospital.

All or four out of eight - those numbers don't matter as some journalists evidently to care how fake their stories are. Remember how six pediatricians in east-Aleppo signed an open letter to Obama a few weeks after the "last pediatrician in Aleppo" was killed? No journo cared about that insult to their readers sanity. Who by the way runs that "only dedicated pediatric hospital" in east-Aleppo? Some horse doctor?

Anyway - have fun with this while I keep nursing my not so fake influenza (no video).

Posted by b at 01:40 PM | Comments (106)

November 19, 2016

Speculation: Trump Promotes NSA Boss Rogers To DNI Because He Leaked The Clinton Emails

If some investigative journos start digging into the issue this story could develop into a really interesting scandal:

Pentagon and intelligence community chiefs have urged Obama to remove the head of the NSA

The heads of the Pentagon and the nation’s intelligence community have recommended to President Obama that the director of the National Security Agency, Adm. Michael S. Rogers, be removed.

The recommendation, delivered to the White House last month, was made by Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter and Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr., according to several U.S. officials familiar with the matter.
...
The news comes as Rogers is being considered by President-Elect Donald Trump to be his nominee for DNI, replacing Clapper as the official who oversees all 17 U.S. intelligence agencies. In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower.

Adm. Michael S. Rogers recently claimed in reference to the hack of the Democratic National Council emails that Wikileaks spreading them is "a conscious effort by a nation-state to attempt to achieve a specific effect." He obviously meant Russia.

Compare that with his boss James Clapper who very recently said (again) that the "intelligence agencies don't have good insight on when or how Wikileaks obtained the hacked emails."

Emails of the DNC and of Clinton's consigliere John Podesta were hacked and leaked. Additionally emails from Clinton's private email server were released. All these influenced the election in favor of Trump.

Wikileaks boss Assange says he does not know where the emails come from but he does not think they came from Russia.

Clapper and Carter wanted Rogers fired because he was generally disliked at the NSA, because two big breaches in the most secret Tailored Access Organization occurred on his watch even after the Snowden case and because he blocked, with the help of Senator McCain, plans to split the NSA into a spying and a cyber war unit.

Now let me spin this a bit.

Rogers obviously knew he was on the to-be-fired list and he had good relations with the Republicans.

Now follows some plausible speculation:

Some Rogers trusted dudes at the NSA (or in the Navy cyber arm which Rogers earlier led) hack into the DNC, Podesta emails and the Clinton private email server. An easy job with the tools the NSA provides for its spies. Whoever hacked the emails then pushes what they got to Wikileaks (and DCleaks, another "leak" outlet). Wikileaks publishes what it gets because that is what it usually does. Assange also has various reasons to hate Clinton. She was always very hostile to Wikileaks. She allegedly even mused of killing Assange by a drone strike.

Rogers then accuses Russia of the breach even while the rest of the spying community finds no evidence for such a claim. That is natural to do for a military man who grew up during the cold war and may wish that war (and its budgets) back. It is also a red herring that will never be proven wrong or right unless the original culprit is somehow found.

Next we know - Trump offers Rogers the Clapper job. He would replace the boss that wanted him fired.

Rogers support for the new cold war will also gain him favor with the various weapon industries which will eventually beef up his pension.

Some of the above is speculation. But it would make sense and explain the quite one-sided wave of leaks we saw during this election cycle.

Even if it isn't true it would at least be a good script for a Hollywood movie on the nastiness of the inside fighting in Washington DC.

Let me know how plausible you find the tale.

Posted by b at 02:14 PM | Comments (134)

November 18, 2016

Open Thread (NOT U.S. Election) 2016-39

News & views not U.S. election related ...

Posted by b at 01:44 PM | Comments (159)

November 17, 2016

"Fake News" About Trump Continues Unabated

Clinton makes some twenty different issues or person responsible for her loss - everyone and everything except the DNC, her staff or herself. But a campaign that did just enough to get the states it thought it needed and not one bit more was going to lose no matter how much money it would spend. Shunning progressives and implausibly blaming Russia for her own mistakes did not help either. Clinton failed as a politician and presidential candidate. She just isn't good enough in those roles. It is as simple as that. But now another culprit responsible for her loss is rolled out. "Fake news" that somehow was not censored out of social networks.

But "fake news" was and is a daily occurrence even in major media. What were the "Saddam's WMDs" stories if not fake news? The Clinton campaign spread fake news about Sanders. The news about Clinton's email were (mostly) not fake even as she claimed otherwise.

My personal impression is that there was more fake news about Trump than about Clinton. The NYT, like most other mainstream media, was so much off from reality that its publisher now wrote a letter to request that staff "rededicate .. to the fundamental mission of .. journalism". He thereby admits that the NYT had failed as a news organization. 

But there is no rededication, neither in the NYT nor elsewhere, that I can see. The fairy tales about and around Trump seem not to stop for a minute. It will be claimed in top headlines that Trump will make John Bolton or Rudy Giuliani Secretary of State, lunatic Frank Gaffney will be his advisor. Trump wants security clearances for his children! Of course hardly any the active promoters of such nonsense will put the official denials of these lies on top of their pages or mention them at all. Poltico today told me that Wall Street is celebrating the Trump win, implying that Clinton would have been much better. Trump received some $5 million in donations from the finance sector, Clinton received $105 million - guess why.

Trump wants to abandon a No-First-Strike policy for U.S. nuclear weapons is one current scare (650 retweets!). That is a policy the U.S. never-ever had. Obama, like Clinton, rejected a NFS policy. How could Trump abandon it?

Trumps wants to register all Muslims? The National Security Entry-Exit Registration System was introduced in 2002 and only applied to visitors and residents from majority Muslim countries. In 2011 the system was phased out because it was "redundant" - some other system currently holds the data of mostly Muslim in the U.S.  The no-fly-lists are largely lists of Muslim - even four years old ones. Obama waged drone war in seven countries and bombed five. All were majority Muslim. So what please could Trump actually do to Muslim people that would be worse than what Bush or Obama have done?

Trump is a racist and his voters are white supremacists is a fake news claim that is still rolled out on a daily base. The facts do not support it. If they were true why did he get more votes from blacks and hispanics than Romney or McCain?

Why not take Trump for what he is? A fast talking salesman, born too rich, but politically a centrist who long supported Democrats and who will simply continue the political path Clinton, Bush and Obama created and walked before him. There is some hope that he will be less "globalist", neoconned and belligerent in his foreign policy but that still needs to be proven. On many of his announced policies there will likely be more Democrats in Congress supporting him than Republicans.

The man should be attacked on his politics and policies whenever that is justified. There will plenty such opportunities, especially with his economic and tax plans. Instead we get a daily dose of fake news about Trump this or that and one scare story after the other.

Is it so difficult, or even impossible, for journalists and media to "rededicate" themselves from feverish pro-Clinton and anti-Trump advocates back to (semi-)serious reporting?

That would be bad news for everyone.

Posted by b at 01:25 PM | Comments (153)

November 15, 2016

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.

Posted by b at 12:13 PM | Comments (234)

November 13, 2016

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."

Posted by b at 03:17 PM | Comments (132)

November 11, 2016

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:

Cont. reading: Nusra On The Run - Trump Induces First Major Policy Change On Syria

Posted by b at 10:13 AM | Comments (226)

November 10, 2016

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!

Cont. reading: Next Steps: Clean Up The Democratic Party, Oppose Trump

Posted by b at 02:09 PM | Comments (250)

November 09, 2016

First Thoughts On The "Not-Hillary" Election Results

So I just woke up and found that the world has changed. World War III was called off. Trump won, Clinton conceded. His victory speech is fair and integrating.

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.

Posted by b at 03:03 AM | Comments (299)

November 08, 2016

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.

Posted by b at 12:12 PM | Comments (65)

November 07, 2016

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)

Posted by b at 01:27 PM | Comments (72)

U.S. Election Thread 2016-06

Whatever there is to say about the election ...

Posted by b at 01:22 PM | Comments (189)

November 05, 2016

Are We To Love Al-Qaeda Or Fear It?

‘I Saw My Father Dying’: A View From Aleppo’s Government-Held Side:

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: U.S. intel warning of possible al Qaeda attacks in U.S. Monday

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.
...

‘I Saw My Father Dying’: A View From Aleppo’s Government-Held Side:

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.

Sources: U.S. intel warning of possible al Qaeda attacks in U.S. Monday

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?

Posted by b at 02:41 PM | Comments (109)

November 04, 2016

Open Thread 2016-37

News & views NOT related to the U.S. election ...

(For election comments please use the previous thread.)

Posted by b at 02:58 PM | Comments (118)

November 03, 2016

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.

Cont. reading: Reward Clinton's Hawkishness Because Trump's Foreign Policy Is Uncertain?

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

 
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