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January 16, 2019

A Turkish 'Security Zone' In Northeast Syria Is A Bad Idea

U.S. President Trump wants U.S. troops to leave northeast Syria. His National Security Advisor John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tried to sabotage that move. Trump came up with idea to hand northeast Syria to Turkey, but soon was told that Turkey would fight the Kurdish YPK/PKK who the U.S. armed and used as proxy force against the Islamic State.

Turkey has no interest in fighting the Islamic State or in occupying Raqqa and other Arabic ethnic cities along the Euphrates. Its only interest is to prevent the formation of an armed Kurdish entity that could threaten its soft southern underbelly. It thus came up with the idea of a "security zone" in Syria that it would occupy to keep the Kurds away from its borders.


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But that border strip is exactly where the major Kurdish settlements are. Ayn al-Arab, in Kurdish 'Kobane', and many other cities along the border all have largely Kurdish populations. These would certainly fight against a Turkish occupation. Turkey also wants to control the Manbij area west of the Euphrates.

Russia will not allow Turkish control of more Syrian land:

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Wednesday the Syrian regime must take control of the country's north, after calls from the United States to set up a Turkish-controlled "security zone" in the area.

"We are convinced that the best and only solution is the transfer of these territories under the control of the Syrian government, and of Syrian security forces and administrative structures," Lavrov told reporters.

The Kurdish organizations and the Syrian government also also reject the Turkish plan:

“Syria affirms that any attempt to target its unity will be considered as a clear aggression and an occupation of its territories as well as a support and protection for the international terrorism by Turkey,” [an official source at Foreign and Expatriates Ministry] said.

Turkey moved enough troops to its border to launch an invasion but the risk for its economy is high. There are local elections in March and the Turkish President Erdogan does not want to upset them by jumping into a quagmire. Erdogan will soon visit Russia again and discuss the issue with President Putin. Most likely Erdogan will be convinced that Syrian government control over the Kurdish areas, and Russian guarantees for a mostly quiet border, are a better solution than a costly Turkish occupation of a hostile population.

Earlier today a suicide bomber killed 4 U.S. soldiers and wounded at least three in an attack in Manbij city (video). A number of YPK/PKK fighters and bystanders were also killed or wounded. The incident happened in front of a restaurant where the U.S. troops presumably were meeting someone. In March 2018 an IED attack in Manbij killed two U.S. soldiers.

Cont. reading: A Turkish 'Security Zone' In Northeast Syria Is A Bad Idea

Posted by b at 11:51 AM | Comments (53)

January 15, 2019

Putin Asks And Trump Delivers - A List Of All The Good Things Trump Did For Russia

Slate's Fred Kaplan writes:

The Washington Post’s Greg Miller reported Sunday that President Donald Trump’s confiscation of the translator’s notes from a one-on-one conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017 was “unusual.” This is incorrect. It was unprecedented. There is nothing like it in the annals of presidential history.

Not really. Other U.S. leaders held long private meetings with their counterparts without notes being taken.

When Richard Nixon met Leonid Brezhnev he did not even bring his own interpreter:

George Szamuely @GeorgeSzamuely - 20:57 utc - 14 Jan 2019

Nixon would meet Brezhnev alone, the only other person in attendance being Viktor Sukhodrev, the Soviet interpreter. "Our first meeting in the Oval Office was private, except for Viktor Sukhodrev, who, as in 1972, acted as translator." Nixon on Brezhnev's 1973 visit. RN, p.878 . Therefore, the only "notes" that would exist would be those of the Soviet interpreter. Not sure he would have time to make notes and translate and, even if he did so, whether those notes would be housed in any US archive.

Nixon's White House office was bugged. There are probably tape recordings of the talks. There might also be recordings of the Trump-Putin talks.

At their 1986 Reykjavik summit Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev talked without their notetakers:

Mr. Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev began their second day of talks with a private meeting that had been scheduled to last 15 minutes but ran for nearly 70 minutes, with only interpreters present. They met in a small room in the Soviet Mission, with the Soviet leader seated in a small armchair and Mr. Reagan on a sofa.

In the afternoon, they meet alone for a little over 20 minutes and then again for 90 minutes. All told, the two leaders have spent 4 hours and 51 minutes alone, except for interpreters, over the two days here.

The archives of the Reykjavik talks do not include any notes of those private talks.

But, who knows, maybe Nixon and Reagan where also on the Russian payroll, just like Donald Trump is today.


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Only that Trump is controlled by Putin can explain why the FBI opened a counter-intelligence investigation against Trump (see section three).

That the FBI agents involved in the decision were avid haters of Russia and of Trump has surely nothing to do with it. That the opening of a counter-intelligence investigation gave them the legal ability under Obama's EO12333 to use NSA signal intelligence against Trump is surely irrelevant.

What the FBI people really were concerned about is Trump's public record of favoring Russia at each and every corner.

Trump obviously wants better diplomatic relations with Russia. He is reluctant to counter its military might. He is doing his best to make it richer. Just consider the headlines below. With all those good things Trump did for Putin, intense suspicions of Russian influence over him is surely justified.

Cont. reading: Putin Asks And Trump Delivers - A List Of All The Good Things Trump Did For Russia

Posted by b at 02:12 PM | Comments (111)

January 13, 2019

The Moon of Alabama Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-03

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

We had the suspicion that Bolton was freelancing with the conditions and time table he set for a U.S. move out of Syria. A later Wall Street Journal piece confirmed that. It included this great line:

“Nothing has changed,” one defense official said. “We don’t take orders from Bolton.”

The piece is an attempt to stay up-to-date on the various Trump-Russia narratives. It is a quite long read. For the gist read the intro, section 3 and the conclusions.

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 01:35 PM | Comments (205)

The Trump-Russia Scam - How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump

Despite the loss of major narratives, the war of the deep state against U.S. President Trump continues unabated. The main of tool in this  war are allegations of relations between Trump and anything Russia. The war runs along several parallel paths.

The narrative war in the media is most visible one. When any of the fake stories about Trump and Russia gets debunked and disposed, new ones are created or others intensified.

In parallel to these propaganda efforts the deep state created an investigation that Trump has no way to escape from. Enabled by one of the Obama administrations last acts the investigation is using signal intelligence to entrap and flip the people surrounding Trump (see section three below). The big price will be Trump himself. Here we take a look at what transpired during the last weeks.

Cont. reading: The Trump-Russia Scam - How Obama Enabled The FBI To Spy On Trump

Posted by b at 01:15 PM | Comments (90)

January 12, 2019

NYT Laments U.S. Disengagement Even As There Is None

On its frontpage the New York Times delivers an utterly deranged 'News Analysis' of the possible end of the illegal occupation of east Syria by the United States military:

As U.S. Exits Syria, Mideast Faces a Post-American Era

When Turkey, Iran and Russia meet to talk about the end of the war in Syria, they do so without the United States.

Peace talks to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have been frozen for years, but the long-awaited Trump plan to break the impasse has yet to arrive.

And now, despite conflicting messages about how and when it will happen, the United States is set to withdraw from Syria.

The withdrawal, which the military said began with equipment removal on Friday, is just the latest instance of a broader American disengagement from the Middle East that could have lasting effects on one of the world’s most volatile regions.

The U.S. has not, and likely will not, "disengage" from the Middle East. Its military has some 53,000 soldiers stationed in at last 27 bases in 12 Middle Eastern countries (not counting those in Syria).

Estimated US troop numbers stationed in the Middle East in 2017

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Besides the troops there are a large number of civil personal supporting or replacing them:

Cont. reading: NYT Laments U.S. Disengagement Even As There Is None

Posted by b at 12:41 PM | Comments (119)

January 10, 2019

Pompeo's Middle East Speech - A Blustering Promise Of Less U.S. Involvement

Today Mike Pompeo, the U.S. Secretary of State, visited Egypt. He held a somewhat delusional speech at the American University in Cairo. It is headlined:

A Force for Good: America Reinvigorated in the Middle East:

There is little in the speech that supports the headline. It starts with blustering:

[B]ecause I’m a military man by training, I’ll be very blunt and direct today: America is a force for good in the Middle East.

We need to acknowledge that truth, because if we don’t, we make bad choices – now and in the future.

Pompeo blames Obama for the trouble the "force of good" caused:

Remember: It was here, here in this city, that another American stood before you.

He told you that radical Islamist terrorism does not stem from an ideology. He told you that 9/11 led my country to abandon its ideals, particularly in the Middle East. He told you that the United States and the Muslim world needed, quote, “a new beginning,” end of quote. The results of these misjudgments have been dire.

In falsely seeing ourselves as a force for what ails the Middle East, we were timid in asserting ourselves when the times – and our partners – demanded it.
...
The good news. The good news is this: The age of self-inflicted American shame is over, and so are the policies that produced so much needless suffering. Now comes the real new beginning.

It follows a list of false claims and fake history:

For those who fret about the use of American power, remember this: America has always been, and always will be, a liberating force, not an occupying power. We’ve never dreamed of domination in the Middle East.

Pompeo ignores the still valid Carter doctrine which demands exclusive U.S. domination of the Middle East: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force."

When the mission is over, when the job is complete, America leaves. Today in Iraq, at the government’s invitation, we have approximately 5,000 troops where there were once 166,000. We once had tens of thousands of U.S. military stationed – personnel stationed in Saudi Arabia. Now that number is a tiny fraction.

In 2011 the Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki rejected to sign a Status of Force agreement that would have given U.S. troops in Iraq special rights. In consequence the U.S. had to retreat from Iraq. A few troops came back to fight the Islamic State which Obama let grow to eject Maliki. Those troops will too have to leave. After the 1991 war against Iraq, Saudi Arabia came under pressure from radical Islamists to kick the many U.S. troops out of the country. Several thousand sill stayed. After the Kohbar tower bombing in 1996 the rest had to go too. In both cases the retreat was not voluntarily.

The speech goes on with a long passage of bashing Iran and lauding Israel. Pompeo says that the Trump administration wishes to establish the 'Middle East Strategic Alliance', an Arab NATO that allies with Israel. A pipe dream born out of sheer ignorance that is destined to fail.

We’re also seeing remarkable change. New bonds are taking root that were unimaginable until very recently. Who could’ve believed a few years ago that an Israeli prime minister would visit Muscat?

Israel's then Prime Minister Rabin visited Oman in 1994. Two years later then Prime Minister Shimon Peres followed. So yeah, a lot of people could have believed that. None of them though believes that a 'Middle East Strategic Alliance' will ever be more than a talking point.

The speech then comes to the core of Trump's thinking and policy:

Cont. reading: Pompeo's Middle East Speech - A Blustering Promise Of Less U.S. Involvement

Posted by b at 02:50 PM | Comments (194)

January 09, 2019

Stuff To Read: Integrity Initiative, Skripal, Kaspersky ...

The is no original piece ready to post today, but here are some interesting links:

  • The Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky was contacted by someone who it found to be related to the U.S. National Security Agency. Kaspersky immediately told the NSA about the contact. Following that tip the FBI arrested Harold T. Martin, a NSA contractor who had collected the NSA entire arsenal of digital weapon at is home. Despite that very helpful tip by Kaspersky the U.S. government continues to harass the company and to claim that it was working as an agent of the Russian government.
    Exclusive: How a Russian firm helped catch an alleged NSA data thief, Kim Zettler, Politico

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There are several new stories about the Integrity Initiative though still none in any mainstream media.

Apropos Skripal

  • Over several months Rob Slane at The Blogmire did a detailed analysis of the Skripal case and the often contradictory information that officials and media have published. Rob has the advantage of living in Salisbury, where the Skripals were allegedly poisoned. Today he published the summation of his series about the case:
    Summing up the Official Claims in the Salisbury Poisonings: Weighed in the Balances and Found Wanting
    Neither Rob nor I have a sound theory of what really happened in Salisbury. There are many possible explanations, but none for which there is sufficient evidence. What we do know is that the British government lied and lies about the case from A to Z.
  • Last but not least a 20 minute video by Prolekult about the (geo-)politics of Brexit and the Skripal mess in Britain. Interestingly Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn seems to be pushing the 'blame Russia' racket just as much as the Conservatives. (Disclaimer - I do not endorse the views of the authors.):
    History is Marching | Part five: The Fall of the British Empire (vid)

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 12:58 PM | Comments (106)

January 08, 2019

Turkey Rejects New U.S. Syria Plan - Humiliates John Bolton

On Sunday National Security Advisor John Bolton tried to set conditions for a U.S. retreat from Syria:

Bolton, on a trip to Israel and Turkey, said he would stress in talks with Turkish officials, including President Tayyip Erdogan, that Kurdish forces must be protected.
...
Asked whether a U.S. withdrawal would not take place in Syria until Turkey guaranteed the Kurdish fighters would be safe, Bolton said: “Basically, that’s right.”
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"We don’t think the Turks ought to undertake military action that’s not fully coordinated with and agreed to by the United States at a minimum,” Bolton said, “so they don’t endanger our troops, but also so that they meet the president’s requirement that the Syrian opposition forces that have fought with us are not endangered.”

Turkey was not amused. The YPG Kurds, which the U.S. uses in Syria as cannon fodder to fight the Islamic State, are the same organization as the PKK which acts as a terrorist group in Turkey. Turkey can not allow that group to exist on its border as an organized military force.

When Bolton landed in Turkey today he received a very cold welcome. The planned meeting with the Turkish President Erdogan did not take place. The meeting John Bolton, Joint Chief of Staff Joe Dunford and Syria envoy James Jeffrey held with the Turkish National Security Advisor Ibrahim Kalin was downgraded and took less than two hours. A planned joint press conference was canceled.

The U.S. delegation did not look happy, or even united, when it left the presidential compound in Ankara.


via Vivian Salaman - bigger

Shortly after Bolton's meeting Erdogan held a speech to his parliament group. It was a slap in Bolton's face. Via Raqip Solyu:

Erdogan says he cannot accept or swallow the messages given by US National Security Advisor Bolton in Israel.

Erdoğan, “YPG/PKK are terrorists. Some say ‘don’t touch them because they are Kurds’. This is unacceptable. Everyone can be a terrorist. They could be Turkmans. Their ethnicity doesn’t matter. Bolton made a big mistake by his statements”

Erdogan on the Syria policy chaos in Washington: "As it happened in the past, despite our clear agreement with Trump on US withdrawal from Syria, different voices started to come out from different levels of the American administration."

Erdogan says Turkey continues to rely on Trump’s view on Syria and his decisiveness on the pullout. "We, largely, completed our military preparations against ISIS in accordance with our agreement with Trump"

"Saying that Turkey targets Syrian Kurds, which is a lie itself, is the lowest, most dishonorable, ugliest, most banal slander ever" Erdogan added.

Erdogan's communication director gave the last kick:

Cont. reading: Turkey Rejects New U.S. Syria Plan - Humiliates John Bolton

Posted by b at 11:47 AM | Comments (152)

January 07, 2019

Fake News Reports Blamed Cuba, Russia And China Of 'Sonic Attack' On U.S. Diplomats - The Culprits Were Crickets

In the autumn of 2016 U.S. diplomats stationed in Cuba started to complain about being affected by some mysterious noise. Twenty four embassy staff and family claimed a bizarre list of symptoms - from headaches, dizziness and sleeping difficulties to problems with balance, vision and hearing. Doctors were not sure what affected these people. There were all kinds of speculations about a mysterious 'sonic weapons' with which the diplomats were 'attacked', but no convincing evidence was found.

Cuba fully cooperated with an FBI investigation into the mystery. Scientist dispelled the idea of a 'sonic weapon' attack. The medical evidence turned out to be dubious. Nevertheless anti-Cuban politicians in the U.S. successfully used the issue to pressure the White House to penalize the country. The Trump administration recalled 60% of its embassy personal in Havana and expelled Cuban diplomats from the embassy in Washington. It issued a travel warning for its citizens going to Cuba and stopped issuing visas for Cubans in Havana.

The investigation continued. Some recordings of the mysterious noise were made and doctors played various of these to the affected persons. The patients confirmed that the sound was like the noise that had bothered them. On October 17 2017 those sound files were given to the Associated Press and published (vid). In its report on the files the AP noted that:

It sounds sort of like a mass of crickets.

The Cuban government and its scientist analyzed those sound files and compared them with known sound sources in Cuba. On October 27 2017 they published their conclusions. The results were also handed to U.S. investigators. The AP reported the Cuban finding:

Cuba on Thursday presented its most detailed defense to date against U.S. accusations that American diplomats in Havana were subjected to mysterious sonic attacks that left them with a variety of ailments including headaches, hearing problems and concussions.

In a half-hour, prime-time special titled “Alleged Sonic Attacks,” Cuban officials attempted to undermine the Trump administration’s assertion that 24 U.S. officials or their relatives had been subjected to deliberate attacks by a still-undetermined culprit.
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Officials with Cuba’s Interior Ministry said that U.S. investigators had presented them with three recordings made by presumed victims of sonic attacks and that analysis of the sounds showed them to be extremely similar to those of crickets and cicadas that live along the northern coast of Cuba.

“It’s the same bandwidth and it’s audibly very similar,” said Lt. Col. Juan Carlos Molina, a telecommunications specialist with the Interior Ministry. “We compared the spectrums of the sounds and evidently this common sound is very similar to the sound of a cicada.”

Base on the AP report this site mocked the U.S. diplomats over their retreat from cricket noise.

The Havana incident was probably based on some innocent fear of some weapon. Or it may have been a ploy by anti-Cuban forces to sabotage the recovering relations with Cuba. Most likely though the whole issue was a mass psychosis over an unfamiliar natural noise - crickets.

The AP wire story ran on many news sites but only few looked further into it. The report should have closed the issue, but it was soon forgotten.

Even after the Cuban scientist delivered their very plausible explanation, U.S. government fear mongering over the 'sonic attack' did not die down. Only the target changed.

In May 2018 the U.S. suddenly accused China of a similar 'attack' as the ones that allegedly happened in Cuba:

Cont. reading: Fake News Reports Blamed Cuba, Russia And China Of 'Sonic Attack' On U.S. Diplomats - The Culprits Were Crickets

Posted by b at 01:41 PM | Comments (79)

January 06, 2019

The Moon of Alabama Week In Review - Open Thread 2019-01

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

The war on Yemen continues despite the ceasefire agreement in Sweden:

    Ceasefire in Al Hudaydah with the Taste of Saudi Bombs!
Since the World Food Program issued its threat, Saudi propaganda claims that the Houthi steal more WFP goods. These claims are false.

Al Arabiya English: Houthi attacks target warehouses storing Yemen food aid

Campbell MacDiarmid @CampbellMacD - 9:06 utc - 6 Jan 2019
A spokesperson for @WFP_MENA told me that the warehouse hasn't been under their contract for three months, they have no access to the area it is in, and it didn't contain any WFP foodstocks

Arab News: Houthis seize dozens of relief trucks: Yemen minister

Campbell MacDiarmid @CampbellMacD - 9:07 utc - 6 Jan 2019
A @WFP_MENA spokeswoman told me that the trucks haven't been seized, they have been delayed for inspection for one day longer than usual.

Forgot to link this: The Briefing note on the Integrity Initiative by Paul McKeigue, David Miller, Jake Mason and Piers Robinson is the most complete analysis of the Integrity Initiative papers.

The British Private Eye finds a relation between the Integrity Initiative and the Rendon Group which drove the propaganda for the Iraq invasion.

I'll have to say more on the issue. For some fun, check the attachment to this tweet. (Klarenberg writes for Sputnik.)

Kit Klarenberg @KitKlarenberg - 19:51 utc - 5 Jan 2019
Head of @InitIntegrity's German cluster says he's going to bring criminal charges against me for accessing II internal files. In the process helpfully confirming many of the people I contacted in the cluster for comment ARE collaborating with the organization!! Cheers pal!

Bolton is coming up with new pie-in-the-sky conditions for the U.S. retreat from Syria:

President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton, said Sunday that the U.S. military withdrawal from northeastern Syria is conditioned on defeating the remnants of the Islamic State group, and on Turkey assuring the safety of Kurdish fighters allied with the United States.

Bolton, who traveled to Israel to reassure the U.S. ally of the Trump-ordered withdrawal, said there is no timetable for the pullout of American forces in northeastern Syria, but insisted it’s not an unlimited commitment.
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Bolton said U.S. troops would remain at the critical area of al-Tanf, in southern Syria, to counter growing Iranian activity in the region. He defended the legal basis for the deployment, saying it’s justified by the president’s Constitutional authority, adding “I’m a strong believer in Article II.”

Sure, Turkey will guarantee not to attack the U.S. armed YPG/PKK that is daily fighting its troops within Turkey. Not!

See also this thread by Aaron Stein:

Aaron Stein @aaronstein1 - 20:17 utc - 5 Jan 2019

On Tanf, think Bolton is - once again - over his ski tips and not speaking for POTUS. This is how we got into this mess in the 1st place. It is very disconcerting
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In Idleb governorate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham has taken the town of Al Atareb without resistance. Atareb was the last somewhat neutral ground in Idleb with a local administration. A video shows a Zenki convoy of some 25 cars and two tanks that got stuck while fleeing al-Nusra. The Zenki fighters fled on foot towards Afrin and left the convoy and its load for Nusra to take.

Last night Turkey moved "moderate rebel" fighters it earlier sent to the Euphrates to fight the Kurds back to Afrin. It seems to prepare for a campaign to regain the ground Nusra took over last week from Turkish proxy rebels in Idelb. I'll prepare a large bowl of popcorn for watching that fight.

Other issues:

The New York Times once had the famous slogan "All the news that's fit to print." Nearer to reality is the slogan "All the news that fits our agenda." For a prime example see this: The Sounds That Haunted U.S. Diplomats in Cuba? Lovelorn Crickets, Scientists Say:

Diplomatic officials may have been targeted with an unknown weapon in Havana. But a recording of one “sonic attack” actually is the singing of a very loud cricket, a new analysis concludes.

Unmentioned in the NYT piece on 'new' U.S. research on the noise is the fact that in October 2017 Cuban scientist had already come to the same conclusion. Back then Moon of Alabama mocked the U.S. over the issue: Cuba - U.S. Diplomats Retreat In Horror ... Because ... 'Crickets'

Recommended:

John Pilger Special-A Look Back at 2018, Look Forward to 2019 - Video

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 10:06 AM | Comments (231)

January 05, 2019

Syria - Turkey Fails In Idleb, Is Unwilling To Take The Northeast

The neoconservatives in the Trump administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton and the Syria envoy James Jeffery, are scrambling to save their plans for Syria that President Trump disposed of when he ordered a complete retreat.

Those plans were for a permanent U.S. occupation of northeast Syria, the reduction of Iranian influence within the government held parts of Syria and an eventual disposal of the Syrian government under President Assad through negotiations. These were unicorn aims that had no chance to ever be achieved.

Moreover Trump had never signed off on these ideas. Back in April he had announced that he wanted U.S. troops out of Syria. He gave his staff six month to achieve that. But instead of following those orders Pompeo and Bolton tried to implement their own plans:

Late last year, some of the president’s hawkish advisers drafted a memo committing the United States to a longer-term presence in Syria that included goals of an enduring defeat of the Islamic State, a political transition and the expulsion of Iran, officials said. The president has not signed the memo, which was presented to him weeks ago.

In fact, Trump had warned his aides for months that he wanted out of Syria in short order.
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Bolton’s Iran plan never really took effect at the Pentagon, where officials were not officially tasked with any new mission in addition to the operation against the Islamic State. Military officials likewise viewed Iran’s expansion into Syria as problematic, but they were skeptical about the lack of a clear legal justification that would be required for offensive military action against Iranian-backed forces.

Trump recognized that those plans were nonsense and ordered to end them. In that process he came up with a likewise unicorn idea - to hand northeast Syria to Turkey to fight the already defeated Islamic State. Turkey does not want northeast Syria. It does not want to risk a bloody war against the Kurds that would be required to sustain such an occupation.


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The only appropriate solution is to hand control of northeast Syria (yellow) back to the Syrian government (red). Damascus would disarm the Kurds or integrate them within its national army. They would be under control and no longer a threat to Turkey. Everyone could live with such an easy solution.

Everyone but the neocons.

Today National Security Advisor Bolton is on his way to Israel to cook up new plans:

Cont. reading: Syria - Turkey Fails In Idleb, Is Unwilling To Take The Northeast

Posted by b at 02:20 PM | Comments (128)

January 04, 2019

'Integrity Initiative' - New Documents From Shady NGO Released

The British Government runs an anti-Russian smear campaign through the pseudo non-government-organization Integrity Initiative. Some person, operating under the 'Anonymous' label, obtained internal papers of the Initiative and publishes those in several batches. Moon of Alabama was one of the first sites that analyzed the released papers.

Our last piece on the Initiative concluded:

After reading through all the released Initiative papers and lists one gets the impression of a secret military intelligence operation, disguised as a public NGO. Financed by millions of government money the Institute for Statecraft and the Integrity Initiative work under a charity label to create and disseminate disinformation to the global public and back into the government and military itself.

Today the Anonymous account released a new batch of some 50 internal Integrity Initiative documents at the Cyber Guerrilla website.

With the new release Anonymous lays out a timeline that connects the Skripal affair in Britain with the activities and personal of the Integrity Initiative. Our last piece had already drawn the Skripal connection to the Initiative, but some of the new documents add to the trail.

The trail starts with a document (pdf), written in January 2015(!), that lays out a plan and options for sanctioning Russia.


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Cont. reading: 'Integrity Initiative' - New Documents From Shady NGO Released

Posted by b at 11:52 AM | Comments (80)

January 03, 2019

The Goddess, The Jade Rabbit And The Magpie Bridge - Chinese Culture On The Far Side Of The Moon

An extraordinary mission by the China National Space Administration helps us to learn a bit of ancient and modern Chinese culture.

Today at 2:26 utc the lunar lander module Chang'e-4 and its six wheel rover Yutu-2 landed on the far side of the moon. They used the Queqiao relay satellite to send us the first ever close range pictures (see below) of the far side of the moon.


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The names Chang'e, Yutu and Quegiao have no meaning for people who grew up in 'western' cultures but are well known throughout Asia:

In a very distant past, ten suns had risen together into the skies and scorched the earth, thus causing hardship for the people. The archer Yi shot down nine of them, leaving just one sun, and was given the elixir of immortality as a reward. He did not consume it straight away, but hid it at home, as he did not want to gain immortality without his beloved wife Chang'e. However, while Yi went out hunting, his apprentice Fengmeng broke into his house and tried to force Chang'e to give him the elixir; she refused and drank it herself. Chang'e then flew upwards towards the heavens, choosing the moon as residence. Yi discovered what had transpired and felt sad, so he displayed the fruits and cakes that Chang'e had liked, and gave sacrifices to her.
...
On mid-autumn day, the full moon night of the eighth lunar month, an open-air altar is set up facing the moon for the worship of Chang'e. New pastries are put on the altar for her to bless. She is said to endow her worshipers with beauty.
Wikipedia, Chang'e

There are classic drawings of Chang'e, but she also plays a prominent role in modern anime.

Cont. reading: The Goddess, The Jade Rabbit And The Magpie Bridge - Chinese Culture On The Far Side Of The Moon

Posted by b at 01:26 PM | Comments (85)

January 02, 2019

The War On Syria Strengthened The Anti-Zionist 'Resistance'

Veteran Middle East correspondent Elijah Magnier predicts the further development of the war on Syria. The U.S. is leaving and the Arab Gulf states are coming back to Damascus to balance against Turkey. The Kurds will stay with Syria and Idleb will be liberated. His largely positive view rhymes with the recent analysis presented here.

Magnier though adds an important point which I did not make. The war on Syria has led to new relations that will soon haunt its main instigator:

Indeed the Levant is returning to the centre of Middle East and world attention in a stronger position than in 2011. Syria has advanced precision missiles that can hit any building in Israel. Assad also has an air defence system he would have never dreamed of before 2011 thanks to Israel’s continuous violation of its airspace and its defiance of Russian authority. Hezbollah has constructed bases for its long and medium range precision missiles in the mountains and has created a bond with Syria that it could never have established if not for the war. Iran has established a strategic brotherhood with Syria thanks to its role in defeating the regime change plan. NATO’s support for the growth of ISIS has created a bond between Syria and Iraq that no Muslim or Baathist link could ever have created: Iraq has a “carte blanche” to bomb ISIS locations in Syria without the consent of the Syrian leadership, and the Iraqi security forces can walk into Syria anytime they see fit to fight ISIS. The anti-Israel axis has never been stronger than it is today. That is the result of 2011-2018 war imposed on Syria.

How long will it take for Israel to gasp this new reality?

Posted by b at 02:09 PM | Comments (195)

January 01, 2019

World Food Program, Bribed By Saudis, Threatens Yemenis With More Famine

The United Nation's World Food Program is supposed to relief populations in urgent need of food supplies. It is not supposed to be a partisan organization. But in the war on Yemen it has now taken one side of the conflict and is threatening the other side with starvation.

The slow famine in Yemen continues unabated. Not only the people in north Yemen, under control of the Houthi and besieged by the Saudi coalition, are starving. Those living in the government controlled areas in the south have similar problems. There are many conflicting parties which makes aid distribution difficult. There is food in the markets but the people have no money to pay for it.

Many poor local men, even children, get recruited to fight on either side. The coalition of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and the United States have few of their own soldiers on the ground. The hire others to wage their war.

The U.S. is essentially running the Saudi air war against Yemen:

When a Saudi F-15 warplane takes off from King Khalid air base in southern Saudi Arabia for a bombing run over Yemen, it is not just the plane and the bombs that are American.

American mechanics service the jet and carry out repairs on the ground. American technicians upgrade the targeting software and other classified technology, which Saudis are not allowed to touch. The pilot has likely been trained by the United States Air Force.

And at a flight operations room in the capital, Riyadh, Saudi commanders sit near American military officials who provide intelligence and tactical advice, ...

While the U.S. military claims that it intends to prevent attacks on civilian targets the results show no such influence. The war against the Houthi and their allies in Yemen has been a siege war from its very beginning. It was designed to use famine as a weapon against the population of the Houthi controlled areas.

The Saudis do not only bomb water wells and food production facilities on land but the also kill Yemeni fishermen who dare to take to the sea. The Saudi coalition also hired mercenaries from Sudan and elsewhere to bleed as its foot soldiers. Some of them are as young as 12 years old. The Houthi are likewise recruiting youth.

The UAE, which is profiting most from the war, hired al-Qaeda leaders and fighters to do its bidding. A prominent one is Abu al-Abbas who commands some 3,000 local fighters. Last year the Trump administration put sanction on al-Abbas for financing al-Qaeda. But its ally UAE is paying him millions per month to fight on its side.


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On December 9 the warring parties held first direct talks in a U.N.-led peace efforts in Sweden. While the UN claimed that several agreements were found, none was published and both sides seemed to disagree over the outcome. The most important issue is the control over the port of Hodeidah through which most of the food aid to Yemen is shipped. The Saudis and the United Arab Emirates have for month tried to take the port while the Houthis defend it by all means because their lifeline depends on it.

The new agreement allegedly gave the UN control over the port. The Houthi as well as the Saudi/UAE controlled forces would retreat from the port and the city and let an unarmed UN force run the harbor. But the Houthi say that the UN would only monitor the harbor while their forces would stay.

Cont. reading: World Food Program, Bribed By Saudis, Threatens Yemenis With More Famine

Posted by b at 01:53 PM | Comments (58)

December 31, 2018

A Happy 2019 To All Moonkind

Dear readers and commentators,

thank you for coming here, reading and discussing about the events of our world.

I wish for a happy new year for you and everyone else.

 

Posted by b at 12:00 PM | Comments (46)

Syria - 'Country Of The Year' 2018

George Galloway is right:

George Galloway @georgegalloway - 11:46 utc - 31 Dec 2018

The defeat of the imperialist armies and their head-chopping auxiliaries in the alphabet soup of Islamist extremism by the Syrian Arab Army and its allies was the most significant event of the year or any year since the US defeat in Vietnam. It will change the world.


January 2018 - bigger

December 2018 - bigger

The consolidation of the Syrian government control came at a relatively low price.

Syria's nearly eight-year-old conflict saw its lowest annual death toll in 2018 as the regime reasserted its authority over swathes of territory, a war monitor said Monday.

A total of 19,666 people were killed this year as a result of the conflict, which erupted in 2011, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group reported.
...
"Most of those killed during the first part of the year were killed in regime and Russian bombardment of opposition areas, including Eastern Ghouta," Abdel Rahman said.

"The majority of those killed in the second half of the year were killed in coalition air strikes," he added.

The attack against the last Islamic State held territory north of the Euphrates and near the Iraqi border was intentionally delayed for nearly a full year. Since Trump announced his intention to have U.S. troops leave Syria as soon as possible, the U.S. military and its Kurdish proxy force suddenly make significant progress against the remnants of ISIS.


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Yesterday the Syrian government authorized the Iraqi airforce to attack ISIS within Syria. Such action is planned in the Baghdad war room where Syria, Iraq, Iran and Russia exchange intelligence and coordinate their fight. Today Iraqi jets hit an alleged ISIS command meeting in al-Susah, Syria. This reinforces the assertion that the U.S. is no longer needed to defeat the Islamic State.

With the U.S. on its way out, the northeast is likely to soon come back under government control. By the end of next year Idleb will also be cleaned of al-Qaeda and similar Islamist gangs.

For seven years the empire and its proxies threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Syria. The country and its people defeated all attacks and survived. They are damaged but very alive. If there were some "country of the year 2018" contest Syria surely would have won it.

Posted by b at 11:56 AM | Comments (55)

December 30, 2018

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2018-71

Last week's posts on Moon of Alabama:

Thanks for all your wishes and greetings. Over the Christmas days I had much fun with my extended family. It kept me busy and away from the blog. As I am now back home regular posting resumes.

Other stuff to read:

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 10:04 AM | Comments (187)