Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
December 18, 2015

Talks About A "Political Transition" In Syria Are Not Serious - Yet

A few days ago U.S. Secretary of State Kerry met the Russian president Putin in Moscow:

Mr. Kerry appeared, more carefully than on previous occasions, to couch America’s insistence that Mr. Assad leave office as a recondition of any settlement.

The United States, he said, was not seeking Mr. Assad’s ouster per se, but rather considers it unlikely that he could preside over a successful settlement.

“The United States and our partners are not seeking regime change in Syria,” Mr. Kerry said.

That the U.S. is no longer looking for regime change in Syria is doubtful. Kerry made somewhat similar remarks in March but was then immediately contradicted by the State Department's spokesperson.

This time so far Kerry's "no regime change" remarks in Moscow have not been contradicted. The U.S. also pulled back F-15 air superiority fighters from Turkey which can be interpreted as a step of deescalation. But NATO is still building up additional forces around Syria. That is sold as preventing Turkey from doing more foolish nonsense like shooting down another Russian plane. But the military reality as seen from Syria is an increase in potential enemy forces right at its borders. If the U.S. is serious it should show that by stopping the military build up and its support for Syria's enemies.

The combined air defense of Russian S-400 long range air defense in Latakia and Syrian SA-17/BUK medium range systems in other areas for now protect against air incursions into Syria. To knock them out means all out war. Putin says he will not allow any outside force to decide who rules in Syria and he is backing that up with all of Russia's capabilities. "Western" diplomats' claims that Russia is ready to dumps Assad are just face saving rumors. It is Russia that is calling the shots. The Russian support has now reached a level that enables the Syrian army to slowly defeat and destroy the various terrorist forces attacking its people. Meanwhile more anti-Syrian propaganda gets debunked and public support for the Syrian government's position increases.

In Iraq the army is also back on its feet and is making progress against the Islamic State. The Iraqi government has rejected U.S. offers of its Apache helicopters and more U.S. special forces. It is rightly suspicious that the U.S. is aiming at splitting up Iraq and Syria. Today the U.S. again bombed and killed Iraqi government forces that were moving against the Islamic State. That surely will be explained away as an "accident" but too many such "accidents" have happened. Should the U.S., with its support for the Kurds and Sunnis, continue its ambiguous stand in Iraq it will be kicked out and Russia will get invited to move in.

There are some talks today at the UN to proceed towards ceasefire negotiations in Syria. I do not expect any serious outcome. The opposition that met in Saudi Arabia was a collection of random 5-star-hotel exiles and terrorist groups. The U.S. and its allies claim that these can take over Syria. But they have no real constituency and no abilities to fight Jabhat al Nusra, the Islamic State or any of the other big terrorist groups that are not part of the negotiations. Why should they have any say over Syria?

There are also some evidence that the Obama administration does not really want any solution in Syria. The negotiations are smoke and mirrors to simply run out the clock and to dump the problem to the next president. This could change though, some say or wish, if a big attack on a U.S. target would happen and be claimed by or blamed on the Islamic State.

A solution of the war in Syria will require elections in which the current president Bashar Assad will be one of the candidates. Until the agrees to that position all talks about a "political transition" are just a waste of time.

Posted by b on December 18, 2015 at 13:59 UTC | Permalink

Comments
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Continuing....

Of course, Obama and Cameron are engaging in double-speak. The 'values' that they speak of are not those of ordinary people, but the neo-liberal elite, whose morality-free, 'zero-sum game' mindset justifies encourages exploitation of others.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Dec 19 2015 17:00 utc | 101

Laguerre@84

"....Aren't you going a bit over the top, Pave?..."

Of course I am. We all know how this sad, tiresome old PNAC novel is going to end, yet I still irrationally cling to the belief that something might magically be different this time and the evil villains don't win. Too many cartoons when I was a kid, I guess...

"...All the Peshmerga have tribal allegiances. Some are Barzani-loyal, some Talebani. The idea of a united Kurdish people is just for the propaganda, as emanating from Washington..."

It's painfully obvious what the U.S. and Israel are scheming in Kurdish Iraq. Barzani is driven by his own criminal greed hidden under a cloak of Kurdish nationalism. I don't think the non-Barzani Peshmerga are fooled by him, but he may just be the best chance they have of throwing off the yoke of decades of oppression. The current Iraqi government isn't anywhere near a threat like Hussein's Baathists were, but Iraq has proven useless as a government to the Kurds.

I could see the Kurds reluctantly going with a U.S./Israeli Barzanistan for now just to gain independence, with the hopes of reforming it later on into a real Kurdistan. It may be the only chance they have for a long time. The delusion of reforming a U.S./Israeli-tainted Kurdistan may be more acceptable than waiting for an eternity for the U.S.-created, failed and corrupt Iraqi state to magically fix itself.

"...Though I don't know anything about the Syrian Kurds. The notion of 'fake' YPG units sounds conspiratorial to me. These people just have other allegiances that you don't happen to like, I would have thought..."

The YPG are local militia, not a PYD state army. The U.S. was able to gin up a number of new YPG units. Where on earth did they find 'spare' local Kurds that were not already in local militias? If they imported them from Turkey (mercs or whatever) then they do not have the same motivation as a local militia protecting their homes and farms. If they are YPG units loyal to the PYD party and fight wherever, then they are 'fake' simply in the sense that they are not local militia and not 'traditional' YPG. They are in every sense a real army with real objectives, but their motivation is to support and follow orders of the PYD party. That would be the new U.S.A.-ized and crony-fied PYD party.

I don't judge their allegiances either way. What bothers me is the way Western media has gone out of their way to paint the 'new' YPG units with legitimacy that piggybacks on the historic efforts of the traditional local militias. We still won't arm or train the local militias in any real sense, but we cobble together units with the same name and uniform but loyal to the PYD party and then arm and train 'our' YPG instead?

U.S. statism on steroids, I guess. 'Little people' are dangerous everywhere! If we don't like the PYD's previous .gov-lite version of socialist democracy, then replace it with something more palatable to the PNAC/NED freaks and support (bribe) U.S. puppets to take it over. But keep the same PYD name and call the new state militia the old YPG/YPJ name. That'll fool the rubes!

I know it's stupid to quibble about them re-using the same names for something different, but it just seems slimey and deceptive. On the brighter side though, the Rojava have learned from day one that the U.S. is pretty shady and does these sort of things on purpose. I cannot understate the importance of the Rojava having a healthy dose of skepticism about anything with the 'Made in U.S.A.' label on it.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 19 2015 17:04 utc | 102

H@93

I see that some of you Aussies have the same racist ignorant prejudices as do some Amerikans about the Dark Continent and its peoples. A poor African farmer living in his or her 'hut' is an independent self supporting landholder. The Chinese are bringing development/exploitation to Africa and some local people will get rich from this investment in sweatshops and rails/roads that harvest their resources to pay the Chinese back for their investments but the poor farmer or villager will only see Africa's wealth as it passes by them on its way out of the country.

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 19 2015 17:31 utc | 103

@ PavewayIV #102

>> We all know how this sad, tiresome old PNAC novel is going to end,

I don't. Please enlighten me. (A link/reference to an earlier comment or article should suffice.)

Are you talking near-term/Syria or long-term?

Posted by: dumbass | Dec 19 2015 17:47 utc | 104

@ 61 chipnik

>> Visit XE, compare the binaries. Really look. It's not just a decline in global energy purchasing power, it's a *second-order acceleration* of that decline, in currencies of at least FIVE BILLION HUMANS falling at records rates before the US$ petrodollar, one ring to rule them all.

I mostly understand your interesting posts and metaphors. But, kindly rephrase this paragraph in a way any old dumbass can understand.

Posted by: dumbass | Dec 19 2015 17:55 utc | 105

Turkey hits back at Russia by getting gas from Israel

10 bcm of Israeli gas planned in first phase of Turkey deal ... Late on Wednesday, both Turkish and Israel officials confirmed a deal to normalize relations following high-level bilateral talks in Switzerland. The deal dictates that the two countries would discuss the building of a pipeline to bring natural gas from Israel to Turkey, media cited Israeli officials as saying on Thursday. Hopes that Turkey and Israel would normalize ties after more than a five-year diplomatic spat will help accelerate progress in talks for a potentially multi-billion dollar project to carry Israeli natural gas to Turkey, officials familiar with the issue said on Friday. “Between 8 bcm to 10 bcm of gas would initially be transferred via a pipeline to Turkey's Mersin port,” the source told Today's Zaman.

Posted by: virgile | Dec 19 2015 18:02 utc | 106

@58

Here we go.

The Guardian - Putin approves more military means despite UN peace process approval

"Vladimir Putin has warned that Russia is ready to to scale up its military intervention in Syria, less than a day after Moscow signed off on an ambitious UN plan to end the war."

Posted by: Bob | Dec 19 2015 18:12 utc | 107

To: meofios | Dec 18, 2015 12:08:53 PM | 29

This seems to be the Stratfor piece you've quoted from in this comment. There should be an indication you're quoting with a link showing the source. IIRC, bloggers can get into trouble quoting so extensively without giving credit to the original or at least where you fou

Just a reminder. Fair use and all that.

https://www.stratfor.com/weekly/turkeys-time-has-come

Posted by: jawbone | Dec 19 2015 19:19 utc | 108

@ 108 Read # 20 and # 17

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 19 2015 19:34 utc | 109

OT but need to communicate

I have repeatedly stated in comments that the US Congress would not pass the 2010 IMF reforms and they have recently done so. I am shocked and confused about the implications. At the least this will delay potential confrontation between private and sovereign finance.

I was never good at 11 dimensional chess......

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 19 2015 19:35 utc | 110

Just listening to France 24 where it is being touted as a turning of the tables that Russia is a signatory to an unanimous UNSC decision to a ceasefire in early Jan. when a political process of conciliation must be started
between the Syrian parties.

Meanwhile, contradicting earlier words by Kerry, Obama insists on regime change through the affirmation
that there shall be no peace in "Syria" without a "legitimate government".

At this point, Putin's chess playing got much too advanced for my skills.

I would believe that achieving further gains on the war theatre would strengthen the Bashar's side hand.

But no. Progress is cast aside. If talks fails, the opposition fighters, "moderates" et al will be fully rested and resupplied.

I fail to understand.

Posted by: CarlD | Dec 19 2015 19:52 utc | 111

dumbass@104 Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Syria... any 'success' we had in the last three decades or so cramming U.S. liberty and freedom down one of our victim's throats. Ernest, sincere and good intentions (I was a believer way back when)... just a failure to recognize the true nature of psychopathy. Rotating the top psychopath in an infected system is futile.

I'll unfairly rephrase your question: "Will changing psychopaths in the Syrian government change anything for the better in the near term/long term?" The answer is no except by some miracle of chance. Therefore, the cost has been far, far too great to the Syrian people and an immoral choice on the part of the U.S. to have put into motion and encouraged Syria's destruction in an attempt to save it. If Syria survives, it will be 'despite' the U.S. involvement, not because of it.

The Syrian people could have done far better than Assad, but the overly-simplistic idea of replacing one person with another marginally better one and then 'encouraging' them or whatever it is we do with our exceptionalism... well, that has just proven an utter failure too many times. PNAC and the neocons had the right idea, but they failed to understand 1) The U.S. government's (and certainly their own) psychopathy, and 2) the inevitability of the U.S. projecting its own government's psychopathy on to the 'replacement' government which is then inserted into an already infected organization with the hope of some magical cure.

Well-led democracies and representative republics are not the cure for psychopathy. They make a government marginally more resistant than others, but are neither a sure-fire immunization nor a cure. I don't believe any 'ism' as an answer in and of itself - I think it would be a monumental achievement for a government to simply formally recognize the threat and have a plan. I'm just delighted to see the occasional reference to psychopathy in alternative media. Gives me hope that at least a few people understand the concept.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Dec 19 2015 20:36 utc | 112

@110

I don't fully understand it myself but the IMF is only one of their tools and they still have a good level of control through members being allied to the US.

@111

The "Russia rejected this innocent UNSC resolution arent they evil" line has already been pushed with regards to other UN initiatives, including Assads removal. If they reject anything related to IS the US can say "Look! They won't fight IS! We were right all along!".

Ultimately it doesnt matter as either way the west will wage war on Syria, so he may aswell get in on the process.

Posted by: Bob | Dec 19 2015 20:40 utc | 113

http://angryarab.blogspot.com/2015/12/putin-and-bahrain-tyranny.html

Wednesday, December 16, 2015
Putin and Bahrain Tyranny

How would the supporters of the Russian intervention in the Middle East deal with the recent signing of agreements between the Russian government and the Bahraini dictatorship? But then again, they didn't mind Putin's alliance with Netanyahu.

Posted by As'ad AbuKhalil at 9:04 AM

Posted by: Louis Proyect | Dec 19 2015 21:48 utc | 114

Youre a twisted western government. Youve ruined Libya and moved on to Syria. Thats all gone tits up so what do you do now?

Thats right. Bomb fucking Libya and send in commandos

Posted by: Bob | Dec 19 2015 21:51 utc | 115

@78, "Andrew Cockburn says U.S. foreign policy driven by Saudi Arabia." I'm sure if the US took it mind they could squash Saudi Arabia like a bug.

Posted by: ruralito | Dec 19 2015 22:04 utc | 116

@114, don't know about Bahrain, but with Netanyahu, looks like a move to whittle down the number of enemies Russia has to face in Syria. Counter-intuitive, like Molotov-Ribbentrop2.

Posted by: ruralito | Dec 19 2015 22:20 utc | 117


Here's the article on Saudi Arabia that Al Jazeera blocked.

Saudi Arabia Uses Terrorism As An Excuse for Human Rights Abuses

https://theintercept.com/2015/12/18/al-jazeera-blocks-anti-saudi-arabia-article/

This article was published by Al Jazeera America on Dec 3. Al Jazeera's HQ in Qatar appear to have blocked the article outside he United States

Posted by: MadMax2 | Dec 19 2015 22:47 utc | 118

@116 ruralito,

It's rumored that there are dirty nukes down Saudi Aramco wellbores that would make the oil in place unusable for quite some time. So the US could certainly wipe them off the map in style, but if the payoff glows too much for even China to burn, why bother?

Posted by: Jonathan | Dec 19 2015 23:14 utc | 119

@ 111 CarlD
@ 78 CarlD in
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2015/12/nyt-burned-again-by-anonymous-officials-sources.html


My reaction is in the Open Thread 2015-48, # 128

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 19 2015 23:42 utc | 120

I have just gone through a search of the UNSC recent resolutions.

At this point, there is no available text of the resolution that supposedly has been voted unanimously
by all members of the SC on the 18th of december 2015.

The latest published text is dated 17 Dec.

However on the news main page there is a succint account of the approved resolution.

The full scope of the resolution cannot be grasped at this point yet by the public.

The question is why the delay?

Is it to give leeway to the MSM to spin?

Posted by: CarlD | Dec 19 2015 23:52 utc | 121

@ madisolation # 38 I concur with you and Mike Whitney

I read at SST a comment by annamaria, in reply to Matthew, that more evidence has surfaced on US AWACS logistical support to Turkey in the downing of the Su24. This may explain:
1) US Policy reversal on Assad must go plus IMF recognition of Ukraine debt to Russia as Sovereign 2) Removal of US F-15 from Incirlick 3) NATO "support" for Turkey's air defenses

When Putin said: he hoped nuclear missiles would not be necessary for fighting against terrorism, many were confused. When he instructed his MoD to destroy any targets set to threaten RF forces in Syria "the die had been cast." RF then moved S-400 SAM and selected armed forces into the Turkish-Armenia border. This moment in history is a deja vu or at par with the Cuban and Turkish nuclear missile deployment crisis. Kerry and Nuland went to Moscow this week to defuse the escalation.

My speculation: Turkey was about to be defanged a la 2006 Saakashvili Georgia and Washington DC got wind of it before it happened. The full U turn US Syria policy reversal plus the IMF declaring the Ukraine debt to Russia sovereign (high priority) served as public apology. This is after saying it wasn't payable, no more than a week ago. Same with removal of a dozen USAF F-15 from Turkey. Last but not least, announcement that two more responsible NATO members, Denmark and Germany, will jointly patrol with AWACS the Turkey-Syria border. NATO member Turkey has been demoted to junior partner and a liability to the alliance.

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Dec 20 2015 1:10 utc | 122

@122 Sun Tzu

And then there is the egg on my face move by the US Congress to approve the 2010 IMF reforms which I kept posting here would never happen.

Strange shit afoot indeed. Way above my pay grade.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 20 2015 1:33 utc | 123

@ psychohistorian #123 I see it and I don't know what to make of the timing of it. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde Welcomes U.S. Congressional Approval of the 2010 Quota and Governance Reforms

• Four emerging market countries (Brazil, China, India, and Russia) will be among the ten largest members of the IMF. Other top 10 members include the United States, Japan, and the four largest European countries (France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom).
• Advanced European countries have committed to reduce their combined Board representation by two chairs.
• The doubling of quotas together with the shift in quota shares and the move to an all-elected Board mark a significant step forward in the process of IMF quota and governance reforms."

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Dec 20 2015 1:59 utc | 124

Here is a link to the UNSC resolution.

https://www.rt.com/news/326466-un-syria-resolution-terror/

The resolution must be read carefully and Mr. Lavrov comments clarify Russian position on the different matters.

The most dangerous part of the resolution IMO is the part relative to the "need to imperatively let "humanitarian aid" reach all areas which could be construed as making an obligation to the Syrian Government to allow anything and everything labeled Humanitarian Aid" specially in view of the type of Humanitarian aid Turkey had been sending to the rebel groups.

It would also bar bombing of shelling of "hospitals and medical facilities" as well as "civilian structures" and
this could be used to prevent Syrian authorities from shelling bombing urban areas occupied by rebels/ISIS/AlNusra/AlAsham/alquaeda and other assorted terrorists who could paint crescents and other medical symbols on their barracks and weapons caches and other deposits.

Interpretation of the different areas of the resolution will entail much manipulation by MSM and give rise to numerous accusations of wrongdoings by the Government side.

Posted by: CarlD | Dec 20 2015 2:35 utc | 125

@119, who said anything about nuking them, or even strafing them in the streets. They could sink the Saudis in the press, NGOs, twitter mobs, the banks...

Posted by: ruralito | Dec 20 2015 3:13 utc | 127

@126 ben

I did go skim the posting at ALMOST naked capitalism and noticed they continue to refuse to refer to private finance as the true opponent to the sovereign finance of China and Russia.

I don't read naked capitalism because to them private finance = TINA and they never refer to it as such

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 20 2015 4:12 utc | 128

Posted by: Wayoutwest | Dec 19, 2015 12:31:40 PM | 103

Chinese exploitation only sounds bad until one compares it with White Christian Racist-Supremacist exploitation.
The Chinese are saying "We'll help, and teach you how to, improve your infrastructure and raise your country's standard of living, if you'll agree to let us exploit X, Y and Z resources."

The WCR-S say "If you don't hand us a monopoly on exploiting X, Y and Z resources, and exempt us from your laws, by tomorrow morning, we'll destroy the little you have and send your entire country back to a chaotic Stone Age."

The most attractive feature of Chinese exploitation is that it comes with an insinuation of protection from rapacious White Christians. No-one has seen it yet, but in 2017, or thereabouts, China will start helping White Christian exploiters to understand what Misery & Humiliation feel like.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 20 2015 4:58 utc | 129

b: "There are some talks today at the UN to proceed towards ceasefire negotiations in Syria. I do not expect any serious outcome."

Well, that UNANIMOUS Resolution 2245 was fairly serious, but you were right: nobody saw it coming even earlier in the day.

Mark my word if this ceasefire works out, USG will be crowing about how the resolution was the turning point of the Syrian civil war. Bull-spit. The turning point was Sep30|2015. Here's why:

http://logophere.com/Topics2015/15-12/151218-Alert.htm

CarlD | Dec 19, 2015 6:52:29 PM | 121 - a pdf of the resolution can be found at the above link.

b, I disagree with you and a number of commentators about Obomber just wanting to play this thing to a draw until a new administration can get stuck with it. He wants to out-do Putin in getting this thing as close to a resolution as he can before he's out the door. He's got his entire foreign relations rep hinging on what happens in Syria in the next 13 months.

My guess is that Assad is leaving one way or the other. He's a target walking. RT is reporting that Government of Ysrael (GoY) just dropped a load of HE on Jaramana, a suburb of Damascus, taking out Hezzie bad boy Samir Kuntar. That's a signal to Bashar: If Mossad doesn't get you, the GoY F-16s will.

The RT story keeps morphing and the headline has been taken down about 20 mins after I saw it. Here's the link as of 9:25pm PST:

https://www.rt.com/news/326564-damascus-explosion-jaramana-reports/


Posted by: Denis | Dec 20 2015 5:32 utc | 130

Breaking News RT: Unconfirmed reports of an IAF airstrike in #Damascus suburb #Jaramana killing Palestinian terrorist, Samir Quntar. He was released in a 2008 prisoner swap after 30 years of imprisonment. On 8 September 2015, the United States Department of State designated him as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist under Executive Order 13224.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 20 2015 6:33 utc | 131

News item about IAF airstrike was posted earlier in my extended write-up: Donald Trump Speaks Fondly of Vladimir Putin.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 20 2015 6:36 utc | 132

Executive Order 13224

President Bush signed Executive Order 13224 on September 23, 2001. Executive Order 13224 gives the U.S. Government a powerful tool to impede terrorist funding and is part of our national commitment to lead the international effort to bring a halt to the evil of terrorist activity. President Bush issued Executive Order 13224 pursuant to the authorities of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.), section 5 of the United Nations Participation Act of 1945, as amended (22 U.S.C. 287c)(UNPA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code. In issuing Executive Order 13224, President Bush declared a national emergency to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States posed by grave acts of terrorism and threats of terrorism committed by foreign terrorists, including the terrorist attacks in New York and Pennsylvania, and on the Pentagon committed on September 11, 2001, and the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on U.S. nationals or the United States.

For a current list, updated regularly, of terrorists and groups identified under E.O. 13224, see the U.S. Department of the Treasury Specially Designated Nationals List (SDN) »

Posted by: Oui | Dec 20 2015 6:45 utc | 133

...
My guess is that Assad is leaving one way or the other. He's a target walking.
...
Posted by: Denis | Dec 20, 2015 12:32:44 AM | 130

That's pretty funny coming from someone who still hasn't figured out that "Syria for Syrians" nationalist, Assad, is merely another US "villain of convenience" and isn't, and never was, "Syria" (same as Saddam & Ghaddafi weren't "Iraq" & "Libya").
If Russia hasn't started killing Yankees/Brits/French in Syria yet it's because they want a watertight case before the slaughter begins. Cowardly opportunistic Yankee pinpricks aren't a game-changer in a war zone.
Russia is.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Dec 20 2015 7:15 utc | 134

@Sun Tzu@122

My speculation:

I appreciate your exploration of the reasons for the US u-turn re: policies in Syria, but so far there is little evidence of what transpired in that meeting with Putin, there are only bits and pieces of info (Russia Insider AWACS article, PCR's "Hopeful Sign?," and a few others), and most of it remains in the realm of speculation, which you pointed out. As PCR's states,

The combination of Russian diplomacy and the West’s presstitute media makes it unlikely that we will learn what Lavrov, Shoygu, and Putin told Kerry.

From a historical perspective, your analogy with the Cuban missile crisis seems a bit out of proportion, given we don't have all the pieces to frame events in their proper order of importance. It might be that what happened could have been a "Cuban crisis" moment, however, as long as we remain in the dark, we can only guess and speculate about the historical significance (or not) of the US policies reversal.

The little we can learn is by following the news crumbs in timeline.

- On December 2nd, the State Dept. announced Secretary Kerry Travels to Paris, Rome and Moscow

According to the PR,

[...]Secretary Kerry will‎ then attend a French-led ministerial meeting on Syria in Paris, France, on December 14.‎ ‎ The Secretary will then visit Moscow, Russia, on December 15, to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

They will discuss ongoing efforts to achieve a political transition in Syria and related efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL. The Secretary will also discuss Ukraine and stress the need for full implementation of Minsk commitments.

- On December 10, Maria Zakharova announced during a press briefing that US State Secretary Kerry's Visit to Moscow Under Development

US Secretary of State's visit to Moscow is being discussed, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — US Secretary of State John Kerry's possible visit to Moscow is currently under development, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

"This visit is at the stage of development. When we have more detailed and specific information, we will, of course, share it with you," Zakharova told reporters.

On Thursday the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova held a weekly press-briefing in Moscow. During the briefing Zakharova discussed the ongoing operation in Syria and the ministry's agenda for the week ahead.

Clearly, even though the DoS had already announced Kerry's trip to Moscow, his visit had not been agreed to by Moscow, as late as 5 days before the announced visit, according to smart and beautiful Maria Zakharova reading the agenda for that week.

- On December 11, Russian Foreign Ministry said that Kerry’s Visit to Moscow Next Week Currently Unconfirmed

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow has not yet been confirmed.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Russian Foreign Ministry has not yet confirmed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow next week.

“I have not been informed of anything on this topic. So far there’s no news,” Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told RIA Novosti when asked whether Kerry would make an official visit next week.

Earlier media reports surfaced saying that Kerry had announced plans to visit Russia next week to hold talks on Syria and Ukraine. On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Kerry’s visit to Moscow was still in the planning stage.

Four days before Kerry's planned and already announced visit, Moscow was not giving Kerry a green light, it is safe to assume negotiations continued as to the purpose of his visit while he was in Italy and France.

- On the same day, December 11, State Dept. spokesperson Mark Toner announced that Moscow Expects Kerry's Visit to Help Normalize Russia-US Relations

Moscow expects the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to help normalize Russia-US relations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold meetings with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his visit to Moscow next week, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner announced in a release on Friday.

“The Secretary will then visit Moscow, Russia, on December 15, to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,” Toner said.

The spokesperson added that the leaders will discuss ongoing efforts to solve the Syrian crisis, the situation in Ukraine as well as efforts to defeat the Islamic State (IS or Daesh) terrorist group, which is outlawed in Russia and many other nations.

The Russian Foreign ministry noted that while relations between the countries remain strained in light of the Ukraine conflict, Moscow and Washington continue jointly addressing certain global security matters.

"We expect that the visit of US Secretary of State J. Kerry — the second one this year — will contribute to the normalization of Russian-US relations, the atmosphere of which largely affects the global [political] climate," the ministry said in a statement.

His statement set the tone for the meeting, and conveyed a message to Moscow their demands would meet a positive response. Kerry's statements post-meeting followed this "conciliatory" line.

- Later on December 11, Russian Foreign Ministry announced Kerry to visit Moscow on Dec. 15

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Moscow for a working visit on Tuesday, Dec. 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Dec. 11.

"U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will pay a working visit to Moscow on Dec. 15. His negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov should involve an exchange of opinions on bilateral interaction and relevant international problems," it said.

"We expect that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Russia - the second this year - would help normalize Russian-U.S. relations, an atmosphere in which in large part determines the general climate on the world arena," it said.

"The situation surrounding the Russian-American relationship remains complicated," and "Russia has consistently pointed to the need to observe the principles of equality, mutual respect, and non-interference in internal affairs in these relations," the Foreign Ministry said.

"We are continuing to work together with Washington on matters where such interaction meets Russia's interests and for the purposes of maintaining international security. Measures against terrorism are among the priority topics in this dialogue," it said.

Key word: "normalize" Russian-US relations. Pre-meeting discussions ended, difficulties were ironed-out and Moscow gave a green light for Kerry's visit.

- On December 12, MSM announced Kerry to Visit Moscow, Hoping for A Breakthrough with Putin

Seeking a resolution to Syria’s crisis by the end of March but facing obstacles — including from Russia — US Secretary of State John Kerry is going to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin.*

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said on Friday, “They will discuss ongoing efforts to achieve a political transition in Syria and related efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL [the Islamic State].”

Before Kerry’s journey to Russia, Foreign Ministers will meet in Paris on Monday.

After two sets of international talks, spurred by Russia’s military intervention and bombing from September 30, Kerry is hoping to grab the initiative for the implementation of ceasefires, opposition-regime talks, a new Constitution, and elections within 18 months.

However, Russia has been unwilling to let the American define the terms. Earlier this week, Moscow effectively rejected Kerry’s announcement that discussions could be held in New York on December 18, saying that any international talks should continue to be convened in Vienna.

The Russians are specifically objecting to the list of opposition and rebel groups being drawn up by the US and other countries. Instead of accepting them for talks with the Assad regime, Moscow wants more of the factions labelled as “terrorist” as they put forth their own list for an “acceptable” opposition [...]

* Letters in bold are mine.

Here the reasons for Kerry's visit and the previous lengthy and rocky negotiations with Russia begin to appear in the horizon: Obama wants/needs part of his legacy to be a "solution" to the US-created Syrian "crisis" before his term ends. Kerry was sent to Russia on an errand to resolve Russian opposition and obtain their support for UN Resolution 2254 (2015) approved past Friday.

- On December 14, Russian Foreign Ministry issued a Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry

On December 14, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke on the phone with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The call was initiated by the US.

Ahead of the upcoming visit by Mr Kerry to Moscow, scheduled for December 15, the ministers exchanged opinions on key issues on the bilateral agenda. They reaffirmed that the next meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) hinged on the implementation of the ISSG decisions of November 14, which provide for the preparation of decisions by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on the format of the Syrian opposition delegation for talks with the Syrian government, and for coordinating the list of terrorist groups that should be fought by a united front. They also reaffirmed the importance of compliance with the principle of consensus at the ISSG and of ensuring the participation of all ISSG members in its meetings.

One of the main obstacles for Kerry was to get the Russians to support the US artificially made difference between "good" and "bad" terrorists, and that contention was carried all the way to the meeting.

- On December 15, it was officially announced that Putin To Meet Kerry In Moscow

RFE Tuesday 15th December, 2015

The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Moscow on December 15 with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on December 14 that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also would be present at Putin's meeting with Kerry.

Peskov said the talks are to take place after Kerry and Lavrov meet separately earlier in the day.

The U.S. State Department on December 11 had announced that Kerry would meet Putin in Moscow.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says Lavrov and Kerry spoke by telephone on December 14 and agreed on the need to finalize a list of Islamist terrorist groups.

A ministry spokesman said Kerry and Lavrov also agreed that previous decisions about the conflict in Syria should be implemented before a new meeting is called with officials from Damascus and Syria's moderate opposition leaders to try to resolve the Syrian civil war [...]

The meeting with Putin could have been cancelled at the last minute, had not Kerry and Lavrov done their homework.

- On December 15, Kerry, Lavrov begin Syria talks in Moscow

MOSCOW (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov began talks in Moscow on Tuesday in an effort to keep the brittle Syrian peace process on track.

"I think the world benefits when powerful nations with a long history with each other have the ability to be able to find the common ground," Kerry said in televised remarks.

"And today I hope we will be able to find some common ground," said Kerry, who is set to be received by Russian President Vladimir Putin later in the day.

Lavrov for his part said he was also ready to discuss any bilateral issues Kerry deemed important.

"Later today we will tell President Putin what we have discussed and I hope that your visit will be fruitful."

Kerry and the UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, want to hold the next round of Syrian peace talks on Friday in New York, but Moscow has so far refused to confirm the date.

[...] but Moscow has so far refused to confirm the date.

- Same day, December 15, Russia, U.S. clear way for Syria meeting after Kerry Moscow talks

MOSCOW, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Russia and the United States see enough common ground on Syria for world powers to meet on the troubled country's peace process in New York on Friday, but views on the future of President Bashar-al Assad still diverge.

Secretary of State John Kerry went into meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday not knowing whether Moscow would veto a third round of international talks on Syria on Friday after the Kremlin spoke of preconditions needing to be met.

But speaking afterwards, he said the talks would definitely take place after the two countries agreed to try to accelerate the peace process and a potential political transition.

"We will meet this Friday, Dec. 18, in New York with the International Syrian Support Group and then ... we will pass a U.N. resolution regarding ... the next steps with respect to negotiations and hopefully a ceasefire," said Kerry.

He said the two sides had found some common ground, while agreeing to put their differences to one side for now.

Lavrov confirmed Russia now backed the meeting [...]

[...] Lavrov confirmed Russia now backed the meeting [...]

And I think that was the reason for Kerry's "change of heart" re: US policies in Syria. Obama's lame duck policies are focused on his legacy, and would like to make Syria one of his achievements for posterity. The UN resolution is a road map in search of a political solution, and the main difference with the Russians was takfiris classification into the "good," the "bad," and the "ugly." The US, not willing to confront Russia's military decisiveness, is trying to achieve politically what couldn't otherwise, allowing a majority of his sponsored terrorists to be classified as "legit" opposition to have a strong presence in the upcoming political process.

Many other subjects could have been part of the discussion, among them the recognition of Russia as a global player, a new force to reckon with. Security issues like Turkey and Ukraine were for sure all part of the meeting, and the look on La bitch Nuland spoke volumes about who was on the losing side. Lavrov is a tough negotiator but as a skilled diplomat he doesn't lack finesse, and it is not his or Putin's style to put a gun to the prestige of the US or any other country, and threaten them to accept their conditions, or else...What's clear about this meeting, the US read the signs of determination and steadfastness on the Russian side re: Syria, and decided it was about time to get off their high horse.

After all, it will be the reality on the ground in Syria that will define its future, though negotiations are an integral part of the overall struggle. It's the old Vietnamese strategy, "talk-talk, fight-fight."

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 20 2015 7:44 utc | 135

@Sun Tzu@122

My speculation:

I appreciate your exploration of the reasons for the US u-turn re: policies in Syria, but so far there is little evidence of what transpired in that meeting with Putin, there are only bits and pieces of info (Russia Insider AWACS article, PCR's "Hopeful Sign?," and a few others), and most of it remains in the realm of speculation, which you pointed out. As PCR's states,

The combination of Russian diplomacy and the West’s presstitute media makes it unlikely that we will learn what Lavrov, Shoygu, and Putin told Kerry.

From a historical perspective, your analogy with the Cuban missile crisis seems a bit out of proportion, given we don't have all the pieces to frame events in their proper order of importance. It might be that what happened could have been a "Cuban crisis" moment, however, as long as we remain in the dark, we can only guess and speculate about the historical significance (or not) of the US policies reversal.

The little we can learn is by following the news crumbs in timeline.

- On December 2nd, the State Dept. announced Secretary Kerry Travels to Paris, Rome and Moscow

According to the PR,

[...]Secretary Kerry will‎ then attend a French-led ministerial meeting on Syria in Paris, France, on December 14.‎ ‎ The Secretary will then visit Moscow, Russia, on December 15, to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

They will discuss ongoing efforts to achieve a political transition in Syria and related efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL. The Secretary will also discuss Ukraine and stress the need for full implementation of Minsk commitments.

- On December 10, Maria Zakharova announced during a press briefing that US State Secretary Kerry's Visit to Moscow Under Development

US Secretary of State's visit to Moscow is being discussed, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — US Secretary of State John Kerry's possible visit to Moscow is currently under development, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

"This visit is at the stage of development. When we have more detailed and specific information, we will, of course, share it with you," Zakharova told reporters.

On Thursday the Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova held a weekly press-briefing in Moscow. During the briefing Zakharova discussed the ongoing operation in Syria and the ministry's agenda for the week ahead.

Clearly, even though the DoS had already announced Kerry's trip to Moscow, his visit had not been agreed to by Moscow, as late as 5 days before the announced visit, according to smart and beautiful Maria Zakharova reading the agenda for that week.

- On December 11, Russian Foreign Ministry said that Kerry’s Visit to Moscow Next Week Currently Unconfirmed

US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow has not yet been confirmed.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The Russian Foreign Ministry has not yet confirmed US Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Moscow next week.

“I have not been informed of anything on this topic. So far there’s no news,” Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told RIA Novosti when asked whether Kerry would make an official visit next week.

Earlier media reports surfaced saying that Kerry had announced plans to visit Russia next week to hold talks on Syria and Ukraine. On Thursday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that Kerry’s visit to Moscow was still in the planning stage.

Four days before Kerry's planned and already announced visit, Moscow was not giving Kerry a green light, it is safe to assume negotiations continued as to the purpose of his visit while he was in Italy and France.

- On the same day, December 11, State Dept. spokesperson Mark Toner announced that Moscow Expects Kerry's Visit to Help Normalize Russia-US Relations

Moscow expects the upcoming visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to help normalize Russia-US relations, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — US Secretary of State John Kerry will hold meetings with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov during his visit to Moscow next week, State Department deputy spokesperson Mark Toner announced in a release on Friday.

“The Secretary will then visit Moscow, Russia, on December 15, to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov,” Toner said.

The spokesperson added that the leaders will discuss ongoing efforts to solve the Syrian crisis, the situation in Ukraine as well as efforts to defeat the Islamic State (IS or Daesh) terrorist group, which is outlawed in Russia and many other nations.

The Russian Foreign ministry noted that while relations between the countries remain strained in light of the Ukraine conflict, Moscow and Washington continue jointly addressing certain global security matters.

"We expect that the visit of US Secretary of State J. Kerry — the second one this year — will contribute to the normalization of Russian-US relations, the atmosphere of which largely affects the global [political] climate," the ministry said in a statement.

His statement set the tone for the meeting, and conveyed a message to Moscow their demands would meet a positive response. Kerry's statements post-meeting followed this "conciliatory" line.

- Later on December 11, Russian Foreign Ministry announced Kerry to visit Moscow on Dec. 15

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will arrive in Moscow for a working visit on Tuesday, Dec. 15, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported on Dec. 11.

"U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry will pay a working visit to Moscow on Dec. 15. His negotiations with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov should involve an exchange of opinions on bilateral interaction and relevant international problems," it said.

"We expect that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's visit to Russia - the second this year - would help normalize Russian-U.S. relations, an atmosphere in which in large part determines the general climate on the world arena," it said.

"The situation surrounding the Russian-American relationship remains complicated," and "Russia has consistently pointed to the need to observe the principles of equality, mutual respect, and non-interference in internal affairs in these relations," the Foreign Ministry said.

"We are continuing to work together with Washington on matters where such interaction meets Russia's interests and for the purposes of maintaining international security. Measures against terrorism are among the priority topics in this dialogue," it said.

Key word: "normalize" Russian-US relations. Pre-meeting discussions ended, difficulties were ironed-out and Moscow gave a green light for Kerry's visit.

- On December 12, MSM announced Kerry to Visit Moscow, Hoping for A Breakthrough with Putin

Seeking a resolution to Syria’s crisis by the end of March but facing obstacles — including from Russia — US Secretary of State John Kerry is going to Moscow for talks with President Vladimir Putin.*

State Department deputy spokesman Mark Toner said on Friday, “They will discuss ongoing efforts to achieve a political transition in Syria and related efforts to degrade and destroy ISIL [the Islamic State].”

Before Kerry’s journey to Russia, Foreign Ministers will meet in Paris on Monday.

After two sets of international talks, spurred by Russia’s military intervention and bombing from September 30, Kerry is hoping to grab the initiative for the implementation of ceasefires, opposition-regime talks, a new Constitution, and elections within 18 months.

However, Russia has been unwilling to let the American define the terms. Earlier this week, Moscow effectively rejected Kerry’s announcement that discussions could be held in New York on December 18, saying that any international talks should continue to be convened in Vienna.

The Russians are specifically objecting to the list of opposition and rebel groups being drawn up by the US and other countries. Instead of accepting them for talks with the Assad regime, Moscow wants more of the factions labelled as “terrorist” as they put forth their own list for an “acceptable” opposition [...]

* Letters in bold are mine.

Here the reasons for Kerry's visit and the previous lengthy and rocky negotiations with Russia begin to appear in the horizon: Obama wants/needs part of his legacy to be a "solution" to the US-created Syrian "crisis" before his term ends. Kerry was sent to Russia on an errand to resolve Russian opposition and obtain their support for UN Resolution 2254 (2015) approved past Friday.

- On December 14, Russian Foreign Ministry issued a Press release on Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s telephone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry

On December 14, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov spoke on the phone with US Secretary of State John Kerry. The call was initiated by the US.

Ahead of the upcoming visit by Mr Kerry to Moscow, scheduled for December 15, the ministers exchanged opinions on key issues on the bilateral agenda. They reaffirmed that the next meeting of the International Syria Support Group (ISSG) hinged on the implementation of the ISSG decisions of November 14, which provide for the preparation of decisions by UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura on the format of the Syrian opposition delegation for talks with the Syrian government, and for coordinating the list of terrorist groups that should be fought by a united front. They also reaffirmed the importance of compliance with the principle of consensus at the ISSG and of ensuring the participation of all ISSG members in its meetings.

One of the main obstacles for Kerry was to get the Russians to support the US artificially made difference between "good" and "bad" terrorists, and that contention was carried all the way to the meeting.

- On December 15, it was officially announced that Putin To Meet Kerry In Moscow

RFE Tuesday 15th December, 2015

The Kremlin has confirmed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will meet in Moscow on December 15 with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.

Putin's press secretary Dmitry Peskov said on December 14 that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also would be present at Putin's meeting with Kerry.

Peskov said the talks are to take place after Kerry and Lavrov meet separately earlier in the day.

The U.S. State Department on December 11 had announced that Kerry would meet Putin in Moscow.

Russia's Foreign Ministry says Lavrov and Kerry spoke by telephone on December 14 and agreed on the need to finalize a list of Islamist terrorist groups.

A ministry spokesman said Kerry and Lavrov also agreed that previous decisions about the conflict in Syria should be implemented before a new meeting is called with officials from Damascus and Syria's moderate opposition leaders to try to resolve the Syrian civil war [...]

The meeting with Putin could have been cancelled at the last minute, had not Kerry and Lavrov done their homework.

- On December 15, Kerry, Lavrov begin Syria talks in Moscow

MOSCOW (AFP) - US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov began talks in Moscow on Tuesday in an effort to keep the brittle Syrian peace process on track.

"I think the world benefits when powerful nations with a long history with each other have the ability to be able to find the common ground," Kerry said in televised remarks.

"And today I hope we will be able to find some common ground," said Kerry, who is set to be received by Russian President Vladimir Putin later in the day.

Lavrov for his part said he was also ready to discuss any bilateral issues Kerry deemed important.

"Later today we will tell President Putin what we have discussed and I hope that your visit will be fruitful."

Kerry and the UN envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, want to hold the next round of Syrian peace talks on Friday in New York, but Moscow has so far refused to confirm the date.

[...] but Moscow has so far refused to confirm the date.

- Same day, December 15, Russia, U.S. clear way for Syria meeting after Kerry Moscow talks

MOSCOW, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Russia and the United States see enough common ground on Syria for world powers to meet on the troubled country's peace process in New York on Friday, but views on the future of President Bashar-al Assad still diverge.

Secretary of State John Kerry went into meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday not knowing whether Moscow would veto a third round of international talks on Syria on Friday after the Kremlin spoke of preconditions needing to be met.

But speaking afterwards, he said the talks would definitely take place after the two countries agreed to try to accelerate the peace process and a potential political transition.

"We will meet this Friday, Dec. 18, in New York with the International Syrian Support Group and then ... we will pass a U.N. resolution regarding ... the next steps with respect to negotiations and hopefully a ceasefire," said Kerry.

He said the two sides had found some common ground, while agreeing to put their differences to one side for now.

Lavrov confirmed Russia now backed the meeting [...]

[...] Lavrov confirmed Russia now backed the meeting [...]

And I think that was the reason for Kerry's "change of heart" re: US policies in Syria. Obama's lame duck policies are focused on his legacy, and would like to make Syria one of his achievements for posterity. The UN resolution is a road map in search of a political solution, and the main difference with the Russians was takfiris classification into the "good," the "bad," and the "ugly." The US, not willing to confront Russia's military decisiveness, is trying to achieve politically what couldn't otherwise, allowing a majority of his sponsored terrorists to be classified as "legit" opposition to have a strong presence in the upcoming political process.

Many other subjects could have been part of the discussion, among them the recognition of Russia as a global player, a new force to reckon with. Security issues like Turkey and Ukraine were for sure all part of the meeting, and the look on La bitch Nuland spoke volumes about who was on the losing side. Lavrov is a tough negotiator but as a skilled diplomat he doesn't lack finesse, and it is not his or Putin's style to put a gun to the prestige of the US or any other country, and threaten them to accept their conditions, or else...What's clear about this meeting, the US read the signs of determination and steadfastness on the Russian side re: Syria, and decided it was about time to get off their high horse.

After all, it will be the reality on the ground in Syria that will define its future, though negotiations are an integral part of the overall struggle. It's the old Vietnamese strategy, "talk-talk, fight-fight."

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 20 2015 8:03 utc | 136

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 20, 2015 3:03:45 AM | 135

Rarely noticed in Western media headlines - Afghanistan - Russia promises free weapons November 28

December 6, Russia to 'consider' arms supply

Russia will consider Afghanistan's request for arms supply in a careful manner, but that task belongs first of all to the United States, RIA news agency cited Kremlin's special envoy to Afghanistan as saying on Monday.

And this
If ISIS swallows the Taliban, will Afghanistan become a caliphate?

It is also interesting that Russia is going after Turkey, but not Saudi Arabia while Western media and the German government go after Saudi Arabia - but not Turkey.

Posted by: somebody | Dec 20 2015 8:40 utc | 137

add to 136 - Russia names Qatar as ISIS sponsor

from "will Afghanistan become a caliphate"

– Are we witnessing the implementation of the ISIS grand project of a caliphate stretching from Morocco to Central Asia?

“Not exactly. There is a transparent geopolitical and economic interest for ISIS’s sponsor – and this is Qatar – when it comes to Afghanistan: to prevent the construction of a gas pipeline known as TAPI. The idea of TAPI is to supply gas from Turkmenistan through Afghanistan to Pakistan and India.

“Moreover, this is only part of the long-term strategy. Once Afghanistan falls under the rule of ISIS, Qatar will proceed further, to the northern border of the Muslim-populated China's Xinjiang Province. The goal is to have a stronghold to prevent the coming onstream of another major infrastructure project, the Power of Siberia pipeline, designed to supply Russian natural gas to China.”


Posted by: somebody | Dec 20 2015 9:10 utc | 138

See all of b's articles on Turkey's intent to stretch it's empire to include Turkmen along the southern border and the recent invasion of Iraq to establish a spearhead near Mosul. Add to that the failed attempt by King Salman of the Wahhabist KSA to coordinate any sort of political opposition for Geneva-3 talks and a ill-fated announcement of an Islamic coalition of 34 nations. No wonder western powers US, UK and France found common ground with Putin's Russia for an unanimous UNSC Resolution 2254, still filled with many gaps.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 20 2015 9:24 utc | 139

Huff. Post article - Dump New Ottomans from NATO: Shoot Down of Russian Plane Shows Turkey to be Dangerous Ally.

U.S. President Barack Obama has urged Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to pull troops out of Iraq, amid a row that has split key members of the coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

Obama "urged President Erdogan to take additional steps to deescalate tensions with Iraq, including by continuing to withdraw Turkish military forces," the White House said on Dec. 18 after a phone call between the two leaders. Obama also "reinforced the need for Turkey to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq."

No Islamic military force yet: Turkish Foreign Ministry

A 34-state Saudi-led Islamic alliance does not aim to establish a military force at the moment, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said on Dec. 16.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 20 2015 9:25 utc | 140

Russia let Israel bomb Syria again, so much for the S400 missiles. Thanks for nothing I guess. Same Russia now getting fooled about peace in Syria, while Obama can bring regime change.

Posted by: Seder | Dec 20 2015 9:50 utc | 141

@Seder

Read my linked articles. To the contrary, Obama and Putin found common ground to block the creation of a "Sunnistan Autonomous Administration" in the Levant. Turkey spearheaded ground forces near Mosul for the northern oil fields of Iraq, with intent by 34 Islamic states to contribute ground forces under direction of King Salman of the KSA. The flagrant shooting down of the Russian SU-24 fighter bomber was another false flag attack to get NATO involved in support of Sultan Erdogan. Once again, just as with the Ghouta sarin gas attack, it failed miserably. Israel is just trying to provoke the regional powers into further warfare and chaos.

Posted by: Oui | Dec 20 2015 11:45 utc | 142

@ 131 Oui @ 140 Seder

Adding salt to the wound, Kuntar's assassination was likely aided at least indirectly by Russia - a key strategic ally of Assad. Under a deal reached between Jerusalem and Moscow, both the Israeli and Russian air forces must notify the other's forces of airstrikes inside Syria to avoid accidental clashes.

Kuntar's strategic unimportance to Russia likely sealed his fate.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/205172#.VnaglptgXIU

Posted by: From The Hague | Dec 20 2015 12:52 utc | 143

Of all places a Tony Blair think tank have reported that most Syrian rebels sympathise with IS, via the Guardian

"If Isis is defeated, there are at least 65,000 fighters belonging to other Salafi-jihadi groups ready to take its place.

“The greatest danger to the international community are the groups that share the ideology of Isis, but are being ignored in the battle to defeat the group."

Surprised to see them admit it and not entirely sure what to make of it.

Posted by: Bob | Dec 20 2015 13:16 utc | 144

@ psychohistorian | Dec 19, 2015 11:12:33 PM | 128

You are so going to be visited by the commentariat's thought police for not being nice about NC. See who showed up at the end of Open Thread #45, You are not allowed to have any opinion they don't approve of - such darlings they, Rufass and Plunger

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 20 2015 15:44 utc | 145

@ Lone Wolf #135 & 136

I appreciated reading your well documented summation for the public reasons given to the MSM on the run up to the meeting in Moscow. I focused instead on the actions that were made public after the meeting. These speak louder than words. The actions include: The pulling out of a dozen F-15C from Incirlik. These are the only dedicated dogfight aircraft in today USA's arsenal. The Obama request for Erdogan to pull soldiers from Northern Iraq. The announcement that NATO members Denmark and Germany will send AWACS to patrol the Turkey-Syria border. The IMF board's reversal announcement (within one week) that Ukrainian debt to Russia is official and sovereign. The announcement reversal that Assad stepping down is not a pre-requisite for fighting ISIS in Syria.

There are alternative explanations for the pulling out of the F-15C. There is a USiAn carrier group deployed now in the Persian Gulf and so the F-15C in Syria might be redundant. However, this removal at this juncture of time is a symbolic sign sent to both Turkey and Russia.

Other things that have happened may be deemed circumstantial or even unrelated. A bunch of USiAn SF or mercs showed up at an Air Force in Lybia and were outed. They were sent packing back home. Lybia has just now requested Russia help to fight off insurgents. Iraq has just rejected USiAn Blackhawk helicopter support and is increasingly interested in Russian help. Did I write that Russia sent 7,000 selected troops to the border between Armenia and Turkey? These regiments are defendedd with the S-400 SAM units and with the Khibiny EW countermeasures system. Thus, from Syrian border to Armenian border, Russia may be potentially covering up to 85% of Turkey's air space. Did I say that it is rumoured that the Khibiny EW system may cause permanent damage to AVIONICS, RADARs and Radio Communication equipment? There is another reason for pulling out the F-15C squadron from Incirlik.

I did connect the dots with the two cryptic messages sent out by Putin last week concerning his expressed hope not to need to use nuclear weapons against terrorism and his order to MoD to destroy any potential threat to Russian assets. These trail of crumbs is what I used to support my speculation that this is possibly one of the moments in history at par with the Turkish and Cuban nuclear missile deployment of the Cold War. Incidentally, the world only learnt of the USiAn deployment of missiles to Turkey long after the Cuban missile crisis was defused. It was defused with the USiAn pledge to never invade Cuba again and with the removal of USiAn nuclear missiles from Turkey. The latter was kept secret for a long time so no wonder we will never learn the truth of the Moscow meeting from the MSM.

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Dec 20 2015 15:50 utc | 146

12;Isn't that the crux of the issue;That its up to the Palestinians to decide their future home,and not US or outsiders?
Isn't self determination a necessary and solution solving to this whole mess,where states use outside actors to influence nations not their own,wo the populations consent,or any reward to those citizens.
Our alleged promises of benevolent intervention always make the body count soar.

Posted by: dahoit | Dec 20 2015 16:45 utc | 147

Oui

Sorry but pretty obvious that Russia accept these attacks on Syria/Hezbollah. Russia cant be trusted on Syria.

Posted by: Seder | Dec 20 2015 16:58 utc | 148

in re 145 --

You would perhaps mean my nr. 210 here, where I wonder why people expect to dictate editorial policy on someone else's site by hectoring them in their "Comments" pages? And ask for proof of the accusation of "neo-liberalism" against Naked Capitalism, which was not supplied?

Feel free to think as you please about NC or any other topic. You could certainly use the practice.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 20 2015 18:02 utc | 149

70;Yeah,hold on to all your books printed before say,1970,as the Zionists have taken over(almost?) every printing house in America,and internet info also.All part of an obviously forged bogus plan,made up by antisemites.sheesh.
And Murdoch's appropriation of NG follows years of zio infiltration there,just enough to sway the sale to uncle rupert probably.

Posted by: dahoit | Dec 20 2015 18:13 utc | 150

Wow - another Israeli hit-job in Syria allowed to occur undefended

Posted by: bbbb | Dec 20 2015 18:56 utc | 151

@ 149

If you are so intellectually crippled that you need someone to point out what neoliberalism is, look somewhere else, I won't waste the time with dullards - you're no magister as much as you may like pretending.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 20 2015 19:06 utc | 152

in re 153 --

I certainly know what neoliberal austerity is, NC seem neither Chicago nor Austrian variety. Rather, they seem to be old-school New Dealers, though more ecologically and socially conscious, IMHO.

So that would be "no real proof", thank you very much and a have Happy New Year.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 20 2015 19:56 utc | 153

Playing the cute hoor now are you? Maybe someone will note neoliberal austerity isn't quite the substitute for neoliberalism. It does show however that you haven't the slightest idea about what you speak, but then that is the whole purpose of MBA economics to pretend there is knowledge where there isn't. Your answer is about as fraudulent as it gets. Do indeed have a splendid next year. Next time, please bring something into a conversation beside your ignorance.

Posted by: Formerly T-Bear | Dec 20 2015 20:48 utc | 154

Well, you have yourself a merry little quibble there.

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 20 2015 23:42 utc | 155

I apologize that my assertion about the shortcomings of NC has brought the quality of the conversation down at MoA.

I encourage commenters to direct their prose at the assertions, not the delivery mechanism.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Dec 21 2015 0:09 utc | 156

@Sun Tzu@146

The conclusions you arrived at "connecting the dots" have only one thing in common: they are all an speculation. As I stated in my post, reality on the Syrian ground will define the limits of any negotiations on Syria; by the same token, negotiations and agreements i.e. UN Resolution 2254 et al will shape the direction and depth of the military campaigns, both for the 4+1 and the coalition of the bastards.

By your logic, whatever transpired at the meeting Putin/Lavrov/Shoigu vs Kerry/Nuland/et al caused for the US/NATO to concede ground to Russia in the form of withdrawing fighters from Turkey, IMF reversal on Russian debt, etc., as the meeting happened in the wake of Russia's military positioning around Turkey, troops in Armenia, missile launched from sub, Putin's not-so-subtle nuclear threat. The implied Russian threat to teach Turkey a "Georgia lesson" (your words), motivated the US to deescalate a potentially inflammable situation, and another crisis a la "Cuban missiles" was nipped in the bud.

IMHO, the arguments in favor of your analogy with the "Cuban crisis" are ropey, to say the least, but since we don't know (and I certainly hope at some point we will) what really happened, I prefer to avoid going down the speculative slippery slope, or arguing whether it was similar or not. I do think there were several items that kept Kerry/Lavrov busy negotiating, first the visit, then the terms of a new political push in Syria.

In other words, there was no US capitulation to Russia re: Syria, but there was a need to readjust the landscape according to the latest developments Turkey-Russia. The US needed to send Turkey a strong message they are in danger of derailing US policies in the ME, Syria in particular, the withdrawal of fighters and the request to withdraw troops from Iraq a signal for Erdogan the US will not support his Ottoman Empire misadventures, at risk of entering war with Russia.

Evidently the Russians show of determination and control of the Syrian ground helped Kerry understand their intentions. Russia retains the strategic initiative taken after entering the Syrian fray, and though the US has tried by hook or by crook to take it back, the cacophony of voices inside the Beltway is such they have been unable to. That's the predicament of any lame duck president, and Obama is not the exception.

Thanks for the exchange.

Posted by: Lone Wolf | Dec 21 2015 2:16 utc | 157

@ Lone Wolf #157 There is yet another possible explanation for the visit. It is one most people believe it very plausible. The 4+1 sometimes, referred as 6 + 1 coalition, is systematically destroying Al Nusra plus FSA aka Army of Conquest. Kerry went to Moscow to negotiate an immediate cease fire but he didn't get one. Thus, Obama reiterated the next day that Assad must go. In other words, the USiAns, Saudis, Turks, Qataris are terrified that most of their moderate terrorists will be six feet under in no more than a few weeks. This spells the end of their nefarious project. So Kerry went to Moscow with a portfolio of concessions to get an immediate cease fire. However, Putin said: nyet!

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Dec 21 2015 3:29 utc | 158

Iraq asked for the UNSC to support a Resolution to get Turkey armed forces to withdraw. USA presided the UNSC meeting and dismissed the matter as one that could be dealt with bilateral contacts. Turkey ignored the Iraqi request. The next Iraqi move was to have Shia miitias dressed as ISIS attack both Kurds and Turks. Next Iraqi move was asking Russia to help them with the Turk incursion. USA would have been powerless if Russia would have first told Turks to get lost and next start bombing them out of Iraq. This interferes with USiAn foreign policy. So Biden told the Turks to get lost.

Posted by: Sun Tzu | Dec 21 2015 4:23 utc | 159

@Lone Wolf @Sun Tzu

Thx for the excellent discourse and related links!

Posted by: Oui | Dec 21 2015 8:59 utc | 160

in re 156 --

Could it be because they were mere assertions?

Posted by: rufus magister | Dec 21 2015 13:01 utc | 161

Israel notified Russia that it intends to strike a target inside Damascus before the airstrike that killed Samir Kuntar, estimates Dr. Aaron Lerner, of Independent Media Review Analysis (IMRA).

Lerner bases this conclusion on the fact that the strike took place at a time that the Russian S-400 system is in full operation.

"Samir Kuntar is hardly such a critical target for Israel that it would employ techniques for engaging in operations within an active S-400 envelope," he explained. The reason: such a strike would necessarily use techniques for evading the S-400 – assuming these techniques exist – and Russia would then be able to study these, in order to improve the S-400. Therefore, regardless of whether the strike succeeded, a future repeat of the same technique against more important targets would be likely to fail.

"The only conclusion that can be reached, therefore, is that the operation took place with the knowledge of Russia that jets would operate at specific locations within the S-400 envelope – and in this case in a route that passed through the area of Syria's capital," wrote Lerner.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/205210

Posted by: Louis Proyect | Dec 21 2015 17:33 utc | 162

Looks like the beginning of the 'recon-$$$-struction" phase has commenced.

---
08:32 GMT
Syrian FM to visit China this week

The Syrian foreign minister will visit China this week, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday. Walid al-Moualem will be in China from December 23-26 and will meet his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, Reuters quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei as saying. The visit comes amid a renewed bid by Beijing to play a more active role in finding an end to the Syrian conflict. Wang over the weekend invited Syrian government and opposition figures to come to China.

https://www.rt.com/news/line/

Posted by: doveman | Dec 22 2015 13:35 utc | 163

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