Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 07, 2016

Why Kerry Blames The Opposition For The Continuing Bombing In Syria

According to this report from Middle East Eye U.S. Secretary of State blamed the opposition for the continuing bombing in Syria:

US Secretary of State John Kerry told Syrian aid workers, hours after the Geneva peace talks fell apart, that the country should expect another three months of bombing that would “decimate” the opposition.

During a conversation on the sidelines of this week’s Syria donor conference in London, sources say, Kerry blamed the Syrian opposition for leaving the talks and paving the way for a joint offensive by the Syrian government and Russia on Aleppo.

“‘He said, ‘Don’t blame me – go and blame your opposition,’” one of the aid workers, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her organisation, told Middle East Eye.
"He said that basically, it was the opposition that didn’t want to negotiate and didn’t want a ceasefire, and they walked away,” the second of the aid workers told MEE in a separate conversation and also on the basis of anonymity.

“‘What do you want me to do? Go to war with Russia? Is that what you want?’” the aid worker said Kerry told her.

The hapless State Department spokesperson claimed that the story was wrong:

John Kirby Verified account @statedeptspox
@Charles_Lister Story wrong. @JohnKerry didn't blame oppo for collapse of talks, doesn't have comms w/regime & hasn't wavered on Asad.

But this lets me believe that the report of Kerry chastising the opposition is right on point:

U.S. Embassy Syria @USEmbassySyria
#SecKerry on bombardment of civilians in #Syria: This has to stop. But it’s not going to stop by walking away from the table or not engaging

So while the State Department spokesperson denies that the U.S. blames the opposition, another part of the State Department does exactly that: "it’s not going to stop by walking away from the table or not engaging". Kerry is clearly embarrassed that the Saudi opposition group ran away from the UN talks in Vienna. He should blame his "allies".

The Wall Street Journal says the opposition group ended the talks before they began on Turkish and Saudi orders:

The Syrian opposition abruptly withdrew from peace talks in Geneva this week under pressure from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two of the main backers of the rebels, according to diplomats and at least a half-dozen opposition figures.

After sabotaging the talks the Saudis came out with an offer to send ground troops to invade Syria if the U.S. would take the command of such an operation. No one is taking that offer seriously. The Saudi troops who try to invade Yemen get beaten to pulp. The Saudis themselves say they had to closed 500 school and evacuate 12 villages with 7,000 people in Saudi Arabia because the Yemenis are now invading them. Their army has lots of expensive toys but is clearly not able to put them to use. The offer to send troops is simply to goad the U.S. into starting a war with Russia.

That is not going to work. The U.S. is now trying to find some end to the conflict in Syria. Someone finally told Kerry that Russia is not in a "quagmire" in Syria but is winning.  The U.S. is in a hurry now as it knows that it will have zero influence left on the issue should the Syrian government and Russia have the time to kill off the opposition. It needs a ceasefire to stay relevant. As Kerry says himself that "whining" about the situation and skipping negotiations will not help the opposition. It will kill it.

Secretary Kerry also called on the Russians to stop their bombing campaign in Aleppo province. But that contradicts the UN resolution 2254 under which the talks in Geneva are held. That resolution clearly calls for a continuation of the Russian and Syrian campaign: THE UNSC

[r]eiterates its call in resolution 2249 (2015) for Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, [...] and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement;

The insurgents in Aleppo province as well as in Idleb province are officially allied with the Nusra Front which is Al-Qaeda in Syria. They are clearly a target of the above resolution and thereby a legitimate target of Russian bombs.

Indeed those who criticize Kerry for blaming the opposition because it ran away from Geneva ignore the resolution. It is the plan the U.S. and Russia have agreed to follow. That plan ends the war in Syria in a ceasefire but only when the opposition agrees to one AND cuts all ties with al-Qaeda and ISIS. As the opposition, and its sponsors, are unwilling to do so the Syrian-Russian campaign against them will continue, as agreed upon by the UNSC, until their end.

Posted by b on February 7, 2016 at 15:59 UTC | Permalink

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America is becoming a joke

Posted by: JoJo | Feb 7 2016 16:22 utc | 1

In the Pentagonian dialect of English, "quagmire" means a complex military campaign in which no large US or European corporations are able to enrich themselves. So, in this sense, and only this sense, Russia's three-month-long operation in Syria is indeed a "quagmire." The 14-year US/NATO operation in Afghanistan, on the other hand, is a "gravy train."

Posted by: PhilK | Feb 7 2016 16:44 utc | 2

@1 JoJo

I don't think that the people dying because of America's war crimes are laughing.

America is a rogue nation being controlled by global plutocrats and their world of private finance. All are worshiping the Gawd of Mammon under the guise of Xtianitity.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Feb 7 2016 16:48 utc | 3

@2.The 14-year US/NATO operation in Afghanistan, on the other hand, is a "gravy train."

gravy train is understated. US/NATO went in with enhanced crop production technology -cash floats which keeps the banks afloat

Posted by: likklemore | Feb 7 2016 17:02 utc | 4

Sad to see refugees streaming out from the wars zone. So long we have Duopoly in the White House nothing will change. Don't kid yourself Bernie will end it all.

Please support the Green party.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Feb 7 2016 17:17 utc | 5

Posted by: JoJo | Feb 7, 2016 11:22:00 AM | 1

America is becoming a joke
Nope it not a joke it's real and will continue till WE the jokers come to realize and end it all.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Feb 7 2016 17:20 utc | 6

I would amend:
"America is a rogue nation being controlled by global plutocrats and their world of private finance. All are worshiping the Gawd of Mammon under the guise of Xtianitity."
by replacing "is" with "has always been." May I suggest an article in NEO?

I believe THIS is the best background for the rise of the 'global plutocrats.' It is taught as 'Western Civilization' or one of its many iterations.

Posted by: Rg an LG | Feb 7 2016 17:20 utc | 7

The one man band so often quoted in MSM has its own news site. The interesting part is Jabat al-Nusra is always named amongst the various groups that are fighting in each are.

One short article here...
Lattakia province: Clashes taking place since this morning between regime forces backed by Russian officers against Islamic battalions backed by Jabhat al-Nusra around al-Akrad and the Turkman mounts amid advances for the regime in the area.
Reef Dimashq province: Clashes took place between IS and rebels backed by Jabhat al-Nusra around Arsal wasteland in Qalamoun, reports of losses in both sides. Dozens of explosive barrels were dropped by Daraya and Ma’damia al_Sham in the past 24 hours.

On the subject of US lying, according to a news article at US DoD website the UN imposed sanctions on Russia over its action in Ukraine?
....What’s at issue is launching these critical capabilities into orbit using Russian-made RD-180 rocket engines, she said.

The United Nations imposed sanctions against Russia last year for its actions in Ukraine and James and Frank Kendall, the defense undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, testified before the committee on DoD efforts to encourage commercial providers to develop systems not reliant on Russian products.....

Posted by: Peter AU | Feb 7 2016 17:22 utc | 8

The recognition that the "opposition" is what stands in the way of progress towards a resolution would be -- IMHO -- the best possible outcome of Geneva, if such recognition would be allowed to spread. It undermines the widely circulated "legitimacy" of the opposition. The solidity and unity of the opposition is yet to be widely debunked. Their mosaic of identities, shifting loyalties and supply lines may be too "inside baseball" but analogies to a second Libya are easier. This should have been anticipated (and probably was) given what happened at Geneva II in 2014. We might have learned the same lesson then, but -- whatever -- perhaps we believed KSA or maybe we weren't ready to be seen breaking with KSA on Syria at that time. Geneva II gave the "opposition" another 18 months in which to "seal the deal." Russian intervention will (conveniently) be blamed for their failure. The "opposition's" exposure as an uncomfortable mosaic of militias with shifting loyalties and overlapping and competing supply lines.

Regardless, this is an excellent "reality intrudes" plot point to deter hawks pushing for escalation and has also (hopefully) critically exposed Erdogan and the limits of KSA/GCC control over their proxies.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Feb 7 2016 17:32 utc | 9

thanks b.... nice to see kerry getting something right... that is refreshing! lets hope saudi arabia and turkey keep calling the shots with the opposition.. stupidity reigns supreme! as kerry must know - there will be no opposition soon enough..

@5 jack smith.. never miss a political opportunity to broadcast your shit, regardless of the content of the thread.. another american jackass..

Posted by: james | Feb 7 2016 17:32 utc | 10

I'm curious about who the aid person mentioned post represented, and why the organization (or organizations) are participants in the Geneva talks. Are they quasi-governmental operations? Who funds them? What are they doing in Aleppo? From my reading of the news reports, they seem to be the main sources of information coming from the rebel side. From the outside it is hard to sort out the propaganda from hard news.

Posted by: Knut | Feb 7 2016 17:35 utc | 11

Deja vu, anyone?

"My hunch is that it is.
On top of that Secretary of State Kerry made a very new statement that amounts to a really significant change in policy:

The United States and Russia agree on "some fundamental principles" for Syria, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday, adding that he plans to meet again with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Wednesday.

"There was agreement that Syria should be a unified country, united, that it needs to be secular, that ISIL (Islamic State) needs to be taken on, and that there needs to be a managed transition," Kerry told MSNBC, adding that differences remained on what the outcome of such a transition would be."

Posted by b, September 29, 2015.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 7 2016 17:47 utc | 12

James @ 10:
I've just got to know ... which is the 'political shit' that you refer to? "Refugees streaming" or Bernie or the Green Party?
Does this mean you support our duopoly?

Finally, nastiness is part of the reason the US is viewed the way it is. Populations abhor us while elites fawn.

Posted by: Rg an LG | Feb 7 2016 17:51 utc | 13

@12 rg and lg - the later - constant american election talk..

Posted by: james | Feb 7 2016 17:56 utc | 14

Thanks for this great addition to the Sunday comics, b!! Only the deadly seriousness of the related events tempers the humor being generated.

Posted by: karlof1 | Feb 7 2016 17:57 utc | 15

Well that's a huge story. It's a lot different than his tone when he was standing next to Hammond at the Syria Donors Conference in London.

Posted by: Joanne Leon | Feb 7 2016 18:00 utc | 16

To #2, as an aside to the Afghanistan war, the Taliban seems to be overrunning Helmand Provence, which is the Opium producer, bringing light on the recent statement by the latest U.S. General in charge there, for increased U.S.Military combat forces in country. Could it be that the powers don't want to give up the massive profits?

Posted by: originalone | Feb 7 2016 18:06 utc | 17

I'd love to think that Geneva was a "red line in the sand" for KSA to make good on its claims wrt the forces it sponsors. Their failure to deliver will hopefully preempt any US invasion or support of same (be it ever so "limited") in support of same but I may just be squinting too hard.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Feb 7 2016 18:16 utc | 18

So the Pentagramagon and its Euro buddies have been in Afghanistan for 14 years. Our streets are open toilets where heroin can be got by middle school children. Many overdose deaths are not reported as such as the PTB do not want to give smack a bad name. These are our children who are being killed right here in CONUS. I'm pretty sure that by now the poppies are GMO so Monsanto gets a cut. All the better to kill your own people with. Just my opinion.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 7 2016 18:33 utc | 19


I think the Saudi offer is misunderstood. I've seen several references to the Saudi offer as meaning attacking Assad and the 4+1 forces - often as a combined Turkish and Saudi effort.

That would be foolhardy and could lead to WWIII.

But the offer is actually made for fighting ISIS, and IMO reflects a logical response to the 4+1 Coalition victory in Northwestern Syria: attack and occupation of ISIS territory. Such an occupation would safeguard the extremists from a future 4+1 attack that is sure to come and ensure further pressure on Assad in years to come. The (deceptive) publicly espoused reason for such an action would be: 1) the 4+1 Coalition is NOT attacking ISIS; 2) Humanitarian relief / return of refugees.

For the reasons described above, I would be hesitant to dismiss the Saudi offer. After 5 years and much cost and bloodshet, I don't expect the Assad must go! to just give up.

Note: Magnier has a different POV. He says that the West/anti-Assad Coalition is not keen on fighting ISIS because ISIS gives them a reason to remain and exert influence in Iraq. I think this thinking is faulty because we already see much impatience at the slow progress of the anti-ISIS effort in Iraq. How long before Iraq throws the Americans out? Isn't it better to secure ISIS territory (de-facto partition) than to allow the 4+1 Coalition to do so?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 7 2016 18:39 utc | 20

It is a bit of irony that some people spend a lot of effort to show how moderate the armed opposition in Syria is, and of late, our politicians are busy refuting accusations that they are moderate -- as opposed to "true progressive" or "true conservative". There is always a search for ways to prove that "our side" is better, and perhaps most creativity was shown in the defense of Israel due to unique circumstances: (a) there is a case to prove and (b) given that Israel is dependent on aid and/or acquiescence for its behavior from USA and Western Europe, there is a need to prove it. And defenders of the rebels come from the same think tanks, so there are similarities in the intellectual style.

Of course, principle number one in that work that sauce that is good for the goose should never, absolutely never be applied to the gander. What next, sanitary napkins for men? An argument imported from Israel/Palestine is that the use imprecise weapons is inherently immoral (precision of weapons used by the rebels varies widely, but it is hardly impressive, hence, that sauce is exclusively for the gander). An argument NOT imported from that context is kill/could kill ratio, as in "Hamas killed only 3 civilians and IDF more than 500, but Hamas could hardly kill more while IDF could wipe out Gaza entirely". With variations, this argument was used for years leading me to think that this is the main application of nuclear weapons: Massive Moral Superiority, the side that has nukes is always morally superior to the side that does not, like North Korea is superior to South Korea, and for that matter, Russia is morally superior when it deigns to kick some posteriors (oops, a violation of the sauce principle).

Lately, I have seen the argument that rebels have only two (three?) areas under siege, and the government has 47. And because it is the other side that has more, siege becomes morally inferior. Did Americans ever put a city under siege, say in Iraq? Misapplication of the sauce!

Nevertheless, Kerry went off message, for reasons that Senator Rubio explained three time: he does not wish USA to remain great, "the greatest state that ever was".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 7 2016 18:40 utc | 21

Kerry blames The opposition because he doesn't want to take the blame. Telling us a small truth is the quickest way for these war criminals to shut down criticism, by those who don't know or refuse to know better. And they know most of the people will never put two and two together.
Just like Hillary Clinton spoke the truth which she said supporting the opposition in Lybia would be supporting Al Qaeda and ISIL. Telling a small truth to shut down criticism.

Posted by: tom | Feb 7 2016 19:00 utc | 22

Kerry was just pissed that his rogues-n-thieves gallery couldn't just play along for a few more rounds, like they probably promised to a few years ago. To me this sounds like the empty gripe of an upper-management type, ridiculing his employees who've let him down, and not much more. There is no there there; it's a hollow snipe, not meant to illustrate or illuminate anything. It's a fart on the wind.

Kerry, more spokesperson than diplomat(aren't they all), is simply showing his frustration that after all of his hard work, his progeny just could not be bothered to keep up the facade like good little boys, and in spite of the entire effort being widely recognized as the natural shitshow it is, he's miffed that the actors aren't playing their parts that he paid them for.

The US has long since ceased to care about what goes on in whichever negotiations they're compelled to participate in. Kerry might as well have said they hadn't followed the dress-code, for as deep as he expected these "negotiations" to go in the first place. Therefore, he probably wasn't concerned with how this remark would be analyzed. As b points out, the State Department still backed him up in the end regardless! In the United States of PR Management, diplomacy has been 100% excised from the political culture.

Posted by: L Bean | Feb 7 2016 19:00 utc | 23

I would not be so optimistic that US And Saudis and Turkey gave up. While they overestimate their capabilities they are not aware of it blinded by their hubris. And hence they may plunge into regional war, since they both are on a verge of economic collapse and perceive control of Syria as vital for their interest,however conflicting among themselves.

What's adding to the political quagmire is dramatic loss of respect of the US among allied players, angry of US impotence in dealing with Russia and China. This is how empire unravels, very quickly leaving vassals in shock capable of irresponsible actions. At this point no one wants to negotiate especially that both sides have urgent need to support their proxies those who have momentum and those who are retreating.
More on strength of Russian coalition and disintegration of US coalition can be found here:

Posted by: Kalen | Feb 7 2016 20:32 utc | 24

So while the State Department spokesperson denies that the U.S. blames the opposition, another part of the State Department does exactly that

small truth? more like stillborn. more affected, cretinous doublespeak to promote even more vapid, cretinous doublethink.

hey, let's compare Kerry's tone here to, say, his tone last week, or to, say, his tone next week.

Posted by: john | Feb 7 2016 20:56 utc | 25

Saudi troops deployment in Syria political joke: Iranian commander

A senior commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) says Saudi Arabia’s plan for the deployment of ground troops to Syria sounds more like a “political joke.”

The Saudi ground forces will not be capable of combating Takfiri terrorists in Syria, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, second-in-command of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), said in a live televised interview Saturday night.

This is a psychological warfare carried out by the Saudi regime with specific goals in an attempt to portray itself as a fighter against terrorism and divert attention from its deadly aggression against Yemen, Salami stated.

He added that Riyadh has been funding and arming all terrorist and Takfiri groups in Syria, describing the ruling Al Saud regime as the root cause of chaos and massacre in Iraq, Yemen and Syria.

On February 4, Igor Konashenkov, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, said Turkey is making "preparations for an armed invasion" of Syria.

On the same day, Saudi Arabia said it was ready to participate in any ground operations in Syria if the US-led coalition, which is allegedly targeting terrorists in Syria, decides to start such operations. US State Department spokesman, John Kirby, welcomed the Saudi decision.

Saudis say they're right behind the USA ...

UAE says ready to send troops to Syria under US leadership

Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said at a press conference in Abu Dhabi that "this has been our position throughout" as the UAE has been “frustrated at the slow pace .... of confronting Daesh."

"We are not talking about thousands of troops but we are talking about troops on the ground that will lead the way ... that will support ... and I think our position remains the same and we will have to see how this progresses," he said, noting that the “US leadership” of the campaign is the UAE’s prerequisite.

On February 5, Bahrain’s Ambassador to Britain Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa also said that the kingdom is ready to deploy ground forces to Syria under the Saudi leadership.

He said the Saudi initiative was meant to combat both Daesh and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Bahrainis are right behind the Saudis, who are right behind the USA ... and the UAE are, hey hey, right behind the USA, too.

Iraqi Kurds protest Turkey airstrikes in Kurdish region

Hundreds of Iraqi Kurds have staged a demonstration against Turkey’s military campaign in Iraq’s Kurdish region.

People protested outside the United Nations compound in the city of Erbil on Sunday, calling for an end to Ankara’s airstrikes against Kurdish militants.

Local media said clashes erupted later between police and protesters and three police officers were injured.

This came after Turkish warplanes targeted a village in the northern province of Dohuk in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdistan region on February 5 as part of Ankara’s military operations against militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

The Iraqi Kurds are NOT right behind the Turks, who are right behind the USA ...

Russia has accomplished the unthinkable

A year ago, the situation was only growing worse. At one point, it seemed that Syria was lost forever. ISIS and other terror groups have occupied 60% of Syria’s territory. ...

But now all has changed. German journal Die Welt writes that the Russian air group in Syria managed to accomplish the unthinkable. ...

Only a few days ago, Assad’s forces with Russian Aerospace Forces’ support, managed to break through the three year blockade of two strategically important cities. This is the long-awaited breakthrough in the war, with the until-recently invincible force under the ISIS black banners which terrorized the whole world suffering a defeat. ...

This military victory can completely change the course of the war. ...

Having stormed the high ground and freed the cities, the Russian aircraft and Syrian troops cut off the last fuel, medicine, and weapon delivery line to the militants in the Idlib province. That is potentially fatal for them. One can say with confidence that the terrorists’ back has been broke, though the war is not yet over. ...

To the contrary, everyone is contributing to the raising of tensions which results in an escalation. ...

Russia’s position, on the other hand, is unwavering. The peaceful resolution of the conflict can only be accomplished through a legitimate political process within the framework of international law.

Sounds like Obama/Kerry have seen the handwriting on the wall, doesn't it? Kerry's new tack seems to be to let the folks "behind him" watch everything they've spent all their money on fade further and further from them at the hands of the Syrians/Russians - but, but ... he and the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate are fighting themselves to lead from behind!

After you Stanley ... No, after you Ollie ... Meanwhile, negotiations with the Syrians/Russians continue on the ground in Syria.

Syria/Russia : Just raise your hands when you've had enough, OK?

Posted by: jfl | Feb 7 2016 21:17 utc | 26

@25 Maybe the Iraqi Kurds will notice who's winning and why?

Posted by: jfl | Feb 7 2016 21:24 utc | 27

@26 ... and the Iraqis themselves, as well?

Posted by: jfl | Feb 7 2016 21:46 utc | 28

JFL @ 27

They already have.

There's even a petition in Mali going around to get 8 million signatures supporting a request to Moscow to hit terrorists in Mali territory.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 7 2016 22:34 utc | 29

I agree with the analysis. I think that the USA and Russia have been in agreement since September 2015 that unless Turkey and Saudi Arabia stop supporting the Syrians rebels that are allies to Al Nusra, they will press them into impossible situations.
The Geneva meeting was one of the them. Saudi Arabia and Turkey dragged their feet thus making the USA and the UN look like fools.
As a result, the USA encouraged Russia to administer a good lesson to this prima donnas, thus the Aleppo war.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey will be soon begging for the Geneva meeting as they are watching the collapse of the opposition they support, the arrivals of a flow of refugees that Turkey is now obliged to take if it wants the 3 billions Euros promised by the EU.
In addition to the Houthis, Saudi Arabia is now facing ISIS in Aden through terrorist attacks. A huge humiliation is looming.
Expect the opposition to rush to Geneva on the 24th February..

Posted by: virgile | Feb 7 2016 23:12 utc | 30

Anyone have any informed knowledge on what make the Saudis such a poor military force? Wiki has the kingdom on par with Russia in terms of expenditures.

Do they overpay the US for their equipment, is it lack of motivation, strategy, experience...?

Posted by: IhaveLittleToAdd | Feb 7 2016 23:23 utc | 31

@30 ihlta, all of the above? plus no popular support within or without the kingdom?

Posted by: jfl | Feb 7 2016 23:34 utc | 32

@28 jen, thanks for the links. I'll have a look, but I don't believe a word wht sputnik prints any longer. Been burned too many times.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 7 2016 23:37 utc | 33

@28 jen, yup. The first one says 'Moscow and Baghdad agreed to hit the militants in Iraq, said Hakem al-Zameli, the head of the Iraqi Parliament’s National Security and Defense Commission... ' Does the head of Iraq's parliamentary national security and defense commission have the power to make an Iraqi/Russian alliance and request military action of Russia within Iraq? The second one ... 'Malians are hoping to get the attention of Russian President Vladimir Putin by gathering 8 million signatures, with the hope being that if the goal is reached, Russia would "intervene" and bring peace to Mali, the source said.'

Don't get me wrong ... sputnik is trying to be 'helpful' and 'positive' ... and I'm sure there is a lot of support among everyone on earth and especially in Iraq, apparently in Mali, for Russia's actions in Syria and 'hope' for something similar at home ... but sputnik's misleading headlines and misleading articles have turned it into a funny paper as far as I'm concerned. b's posts - and the comments - at MoA are a much more reliable source of information than sputnik. Just my opinion.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 7 2016 23:55 utc | 34

From twitter via Ivan Sidorenko: KSA announcement that the kingdom will send troops to fight ISIS in Syria already collected first victimes. Five members of SAA died of laughter.

On a more somber note: civilian victims of Russian tactics. And interest in inviting them in countries like Mali. The sad truth is that counterinsurgency in those countries involves large displacement of civilian, and civilian casualties, and all of that in vain. And that includes war in Yemen, with high precision Western weapons and "assistance with logistics, intelligence and targetting".

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 8 2016 0:35 utc | 35

Concerning the reasons behind the quality of Saudi military. Part of ot is common to ANY organization that recruits personnel and works under the assumption that it will be never needed. Imagine snow plowing department in the City of Miami in an eventuality of actual snow (I guess there was some empirical evidence in Atlanta).

Then comes a new king and an idiot prince who actually wants to play with toys hitherto meant for display only.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 8 2016 0:46 utc | 36

The sad part is that these foreign powers and foreign fighters have no need to talk. They can condemn the Syrian people to suffering - it doesn't' bother them at all.

The time will come when the people of Raqqa and Mosul will see their chance and kick the foreign fighters out of their cities. Let's only hope that by then the SAA, the Iraqi Army and Shia Militia and their allies will have cordoned the areas off to take care of whatever ISIS scumbags the citizens of Mosul and Raqqa don't.

The end seems close now. The Russians have shown that even a country that spends 1/10th what the US does on their military can stand them down if they operate productively and smartly.

Posted by: guest77 | Feb 8 2016 1:45 utc | 37

those who listened carefully to putins speech before the UN and saw the commitment of russian air sea and land assets to syria starting from september 2015 knew how this would end: in unconditional surrender (victory). the US of A had its last military victory thanks to the russians in 1945. since then they never ever won a major war decisively. "mission accomplished" by dubya? now look how that turned out.
the world is changing rapidly, those who have nothing demand their share. europe now is under siege. arab-islam world cannot advance forward without major help and islamic reformation.
so if syria is free, iraq will be next, then jemen... turkey and saudi arabia can expect major civil wars on their turf. do you know that 56 million citizens in USA need food stamps to survive although they work for a living?
shame on the oligarchs!

Posted by: robi_san | Feb 8 2016 1:50 utc | 38

@25 jfl great comments, had me rolling with the last two lines. thanks.

Posted by: thirsty | Feb 8 2016 3:21 utc | 39

"US of A had its last military victory thanks to the russians in 1945."

It is better than that. A number of wars concluded in establishing stable, friendly and sometimes even democratic government. A major one was Korean War, and one can cite Grenada, Panama, and Haiti. (Haiti is a bit short on "stable", but so far, so good.) And some civil wars in Central America concluded with American help and in a way that is satisfactory to "American interests". In a nutshell, in the Western Hemisphere our intelligence is reliable, and native elites are educated in USA and a pleasure to work with. In the Western Asia, not so much. After scouring corporate boardrooms we can find an American educated businessman like Karzani, but that does not make a pro-American elite. And troubles go deeper, it is not a matter of thick accents but of total inability to find trustworthy local partners. We end up with partners who despise us and we despise them.

Russia in Syria has local partners, American intervention would not. Long time ago, it seemed that warlords of Northern alliance and Pushtun cousins of Karzani can provide local partners, especially if we properly disburse bribes to everybody who is somebody. Somehow it did not work, I actually thought that it could. Was it outright a wrong target or only a monumental bungling? Honestly, I do not know. But occupation of Iraq was something that could not work, and bungling to a degree made the occupation easier: for most parties, it was so clear that our presence has to be transient that they did not had to concentrate on killing Americans. I mean, if occupation would be conceived better, the resistance would be correspondingly stronger.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 8 2016 3:35 utc | 40

IhaveLittleToAdd @ 30

This article might interest you in relation to the Saudi military. How relevant it is still to the KSA and other Arab countries' armed forces, I have no idea, other people might like to read and comment.

"Why Arabs Lose Wars" (Middle East Quarterly, December 1999)

I think you are right that the KSA overpays the US and the British for equipment that might not be suited to its needs or to the physical conditions in the Arabian Peninsula. Plus they might not be getting the best equipment of its type either. The Saudis might be receiving modern equipment but is it of the best quality? How would the Saudis know if they were getting duds if they lack the technical knowledge, the skills and the experience to tell the difference between good and bad?

Syria and Yemen on the other hand are fighting in self-defence so their motivations are different and their soldiers would be driving themselves to fight hard.

Also I think the KSA seriously overestimated their military ability and underestimated the Yemenis. KSA Crown Deputy Prince Mohammed bin Salman was also the fellow who pushed for the war and he lacks military ability and experience himself.

Posted by: Jen | Feb 8 2016 4:55 utc | 41

If you're following the Microcephaly story, it's increasingly suggestive that it's the Tdap vaccination. I posted two more comments at the end of the Zika thread.

Posted by: Penelope | Feb 8 2016 5:19 utc | 42

So, the Koch Brothers are behind Donald Trump? Interesting article.

Posted by: Nick | Feb 8 2016 8:09 utc | 43

@41 PB 'It is better than that. A number of wars concluded in establishing stable, friendly and sometimes even democratic government. A major one was Korean War, and one can cite Grenada, Panama, and Haiti.'

Sorry, PB. You're too cynical, too taken with your own 'satire' for me ... reading you reminds me of that George Harrison tune You'll have to have them all pulled out after the savoy truffle. Yes, you are a master of the genre, but it's a too sickly self-indulgent one for me. I have jealously to guard the few teeth left in my own mouth.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 8 2016 11:08 utc | 44


Interesting cross pollination with massive increase in drug-related suicides in former US coal, mining and fracking towns, as oxycodin (Oxy in post-op is a gateway drug to heroin use), heroin and meth (Ritalin in schools is a gateway drug to meth) take their toll on the unemployed. What isn't being reported is booming rates of i-suicide, in withdrawl from society into an Oculusoid fantasy world of Gamergate and medical marijuana.

The Haves and the Have Nots has become more than a financial benchmark, it's an entire social-seismic transition of the good looking well dressed fully employed Happy Up people you see on TV, vers a vast wave of unemployed, unwashed sitting in bathrobes with their blue-white legs spread open, a needle in a vein, heads tilted back, mouth open, fly on the forehead.

But this is global, and has been around for centuries. Jaweh gave us the poppy and the ganga. Wouldn't it make more sense, rather than invoking the mummy of Nancy Reagan, to just let it be, going on as it always has? It used to be hootch, and fags, and self-hanging or drowning. Now it's a needle in the vein, or a dusting of Doritoes over dead Gamergate eyes gone blind.

Same shyte, different day. Just some light collateral damage from Organized Theocracide. Keeps the medics in practice, and frees up new subsidized housing. We can't all survive, think what that would do to Darwin's Bell Curve and CALP polemics!

Posted by: Chipnik | Feb 8 2016 11:13 utc | 45


Free, frei, fro, frumbs.

Posted by: Chipnik | Feb 8 2016 11:18 utc | 46


I tried to look you up ... how many PBs can there be, right? Are you the Penn State PB? If so, could you have a look a The Network of Global Corporate Control, with (supporting data) when you have a moment to spare, and let us know what you make of it? Looks like it might be right up your alley. I promise I'll silently indulge your satyrical amusements for the duration, if you do.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 8 2016 11:32 utc | 47

All the graft, money printing, contracts, equipment, subcontracts... at cost plus, profit-incentives, profits uber alles, making handfuls of millionaire contractors and Dick Cheney/ Henry Kissinger-style billionaires cannot make a viable proxy army it seems. It's the wrong focus for the WIN (Whip Inflation Now).

Posted by: fast freddy | Feb 8 2016 11:46 utc | 48

@41 PB 'It is better than that. A number of wars concluded in establishing stable, friendly and sometimes even democratic government. A major one was Korean War, and one can cite Grenada, Panama, and Haiti.'

Sorry, PB. You're too cynical, too taken with your own 'satire' for me ... reading you reminds me of that George Harrison tune You'll have to have them all pulled out after the savoy truffle. Yes, you are a master of the genre, but it's a too sickly self-indulgent one for me. I have jealously to guard the few teeth left in my own mouth.


This is not a joke. I guess most of us agree that wars do not on the impulse "how we could make the world better for our beloved Main Street Americans"? But Banana War of 1952 secured the supply of cheap bananas (and coffee?) for American companies. Those who pushed for that intervention got what they wanted. My thinking is that we need a war on nonsense, and derision is a legitimate weapon. But I try to combine it with substantive arguments,

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 8 2016 12:44 utc | 49

A clarification: I am but one of a huge multitude of Piotr Bermans, so I may be a "Penn State PB" but perhaps not. It just so happens that all other Piotr Bermans are Mexican campesinos living away from internet and data bases, superficially name seems East-Central European but it has a meaning in Mixtec. Assuming that I am a Mexican campesino, is it still worthwhile to check "The Network of Global Corporate Control"?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 8 2016 12:51 utc | 50

I'd like to tank the "Siryan opposition", a.k.a. terrorists of all colours, for abandoning the negotiating table. And also thank Mr. de Mistura for having set a new meeting with one month apart, which will allow the Syrian Army, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah to kill more hundreds of this scum.

Posted by: Penelope | Feb 8 2016 13:51 utc | 51

@all blocked and deleted comments by "Bill Gates" aka "Hoax"

Posted by: b | Feb 8 2016 14:07 utc | 52

re: #43 Nick

Koch-funded PAC provides staff for Trump's campaign.

It's also a giveaway that this election merely has different candidates from the war party running against each other when both John Bolton and Karl Rove come to Trump's defense in the papers.

Posted by: Les | Feb 8 2016 14:47 utc | 53

I still don't see how the US was not behind KSA/Erdogan move that while KSA has army ready and laughable stooges of UAE/Kuwait et el joined the bandwagon, the mad tyrant of Bosphorus blamed Russia for (never mind his nerve) intervening into Syrian internal affairs.

New US policy, imo, had been leading from behind (besides Bush I-II Iraqi Gulf wars) based on Brzezinski 'Grand ChessBoard' of Eurasian doctrine. Yes, the US can throw his puppets under a bus at the time of their like, but not before...

So, the US policy of smaller unstable states in Middle East, managing through chaos, and leading from behind via proxies/muppets is doing ok (no more united Iraq, Libya, now Syria) and perhaps could come to you KSA/Turkey if you don't play with the rules (thus keeping Kurds always at bay, and now tactfully agreeing with Russians of supporting YPG (an off shoot of PKK) in Syria..

Naturally, all of this doctrine is practised via dynamic modelling (mix and match any type of CIA/Pentagon/civil mercenaries Blackwater/Xe/Academi etc, civil NGOs, bought puppets in these countries, regions, social media et el...), and use of less military powers more intelligent (!) utilization of smart new tools whatever those might be...

Hence, I would think that the US would not throw under proxies (KSA/Erdogan) just yet as the US would still like to see how far Russia can take her campaign against NATO under Turkish umbrella in Syria. Syrian war can also be delisted as 'get to Russia in Ukrainian Minsk II fiasco' hence Nuland recent exchange in Kaliningrad.

KSA has become more hawkish under current regime and so has been Turkey under Erdogan. KSA might not change much with a leader change (which is very unlikely) but watch out how Turkey can change when Erdogan is gone..

Posted by: Truist | Feb 8 2016 14:47 utc | 54

US position on Syria tilts in favour of Russian intervention

The major developments on the Syrian battlefield in recent months have brought a corresponding shift in the Obama administration's Syrian policy.

Since the Russian military intervention in Syria upended the military balance created by the victories of the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra Front and its allies last year, the Obama administration has quietly retreated from its former position that "Assad must go".

These political and military changes have obvious implications for the UN-sponsored Geneva peace negotiations. The Assad regime and its supporters are now well positioned to exploit the talks politically, while the armed opposition is likely to boycott them for the foreseeable future.

Supporters of the armed opposition are already expressing anger over what they regard as an Obama administration "betrayal" of the fight against Assad. But the Obama policy shift on Syria must be understood, like most of the administration’s Middle East policy decisions, as a response to external events that is mediated by domestic political considerations.

Posted by: b | Feb 8 2016 15:17 utc | 55

Many ppl on here said that the Syrian matter would eventually be decided on the ground and not in stuffy, if flower n-coffee-n-snacks laden, useless UN-type meetings (incl. myself.) Swiss papers call the opposition the “Riyad opposition” (i.e cobbled together by, directed by KSA) which seems a more apt appellation, Kerry avoided that description.

Golden rule: when in a position of weakness, never, ever, refuse negotiations. Informal, non-binding negotiations can do no harm if one knows what one is about, as one can always back away and quit, citing whatever opposition, insuperable obstacles, emergencies or other face-saving, back home. Plus, one can make small gains, some concessions may be hailed, ‘speak’, be taken up, etc. One can go for the less horrible (maybe even symbolic), less crippling.

KSA was never equipped to deal with any major shocks, strife, difficulties, as it arrogantly, blindly and gleefully, endured as a US protectorate. Combined with its vicious internal security — for 50 years or more.

KSA has seemingly gone off the rails completely, the Royals (maybe 50K ppl? Counting the second and third cousins of marginalised princes?) cannot adapt to ‘world’ conditions at all. They seem to think that copying the US by being a murderous bully (Yemen) and a pouter and manipulator will be, like peachy cool and admired?

Posted by: Noirette | Feb 8 2016 15:44 utc | 56

I don't know, Merkel is being quoted all over the US media as being "horrified" by the "Russian bombings" in Syria. She is still toeing the line, contrary to all projected alternate paths she was expected to take ... at some point. Maybe next year..

I mean who controls the media? The media in and of itself dgaf about policy or anything. I'd reckon this is just another Obama's "Irish Exits", where he "abandons" a policy but not really, letting the Deep State's real actors continue to dirty their hands "off the record". Just like Kerry; "It's not my fault, and whatever happens now it's those damn dirty Arabs to blame".

Posted by: L Bean | Feb 8 2016 15:59 utc | 57

Russian firepower helps Syrian forces edge toward Turkey border

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 8 2016 16:29 utc | 58

Haid Haid from Now wrote a nice analysis of the recent Kurdish/SDF/ISIS events a few days ago. Points out a series of ISIS 'defeats' could be tactical retreats - mostly to to Deir EzZor. Not sure I would want to retreat there as it seems a regular target for aerial bombardment by everyone, but makes sense in context for consolidating their weakening forces.

I was under the mistaken impression that the Turks were demining their mines on their side of the border near Jarabulus. Haid describes them as ISIS mines and adds this interesting bit about Turkey's attempt to preemptively take over Jarabulus from ISIS before the SDF gets there:

Will Syrian Kurds defy Turkey’s red-line?

...Turkey’s reaction to the SDF’s seizure of the Tishreen Dam didn’t take long, although there was no direct conformation with the SDF. The Free Syrian Army-affiliated Sultan Murad Division, a Turkish-backed rebel group, issued a warning for civilians to leave the ISIS-held villages between northern Aleppo's Aazaz and Jarabulus, and labelled them military zones. Hours later, Turkey deployed a mine sweeper to remove the landmines planted by ISIS along the Syrian-Turkish border near Jarabulus. The Turkish-backed group began its offensive against ISIS with the support of heavy artillery fire from Turkey, which led to the capture of three villages near Jarabulus. However, the slow-moving offensive faced a setback when an ISIS counterattack recaptured two of the villages. The division’s inability to advance further against ISIS sabotaged Turkey’s plan to seize the ISIS-held areas between Jarabulus and Azaz before the SDF...

The rest of Haid's article provides some insight on why the SDF has pushed past Tishreen Dam but not advanced on Manbij yet. The U.S. may be reluctant to provide air support for Manbij (as they are in a Kurdish attack on Jarabulus) to avoid angering the Turks. Kind of a moot point now since the U.S. envoy McGurk and fellow Team Chaos lackeys visited the Kurds in Kobane and Qamishli, infuriating Erdogan.

This lead me to believe the most likely place for a Turkish incursion into Syria would be in Jarabulus under the (rather weak) pretext of stopping ISIS attacks on Turkey. The real purpose would be to secure the town and hand it over to the Turkish-backed FSA-affiliates, the Sultan Murad Division. Not sure how long they could act as any kind of effective Azaz - Jarabulus corridor occupation force since EVERYONE would soon be attacking them. Not even sure Azaz will last the week. They could hold Jarabulus with Turkish artillery, but that won't stop the SDF from going around 'underneath' Jarabulus via the Tishreen - Manbij arc.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 8 2016 16:42 utc | 59

The screed @59 was prompted by, IMHO, the reason for the KSA/UAE 'offers' of troops to fight ISIS. Laughable as it is, the place these troops could be used is for a last-ditch effort by Turkey to save the west end of the Azaz-Jarabulus corridor. Turkey is increasingly desperate to save it, and having a few KSA/UAE troops mixed in with the Sultan Murad Division complicate either Russian or U.S./Coalition of Chaos aerial campaigns to take those areas for either the SAA or SDF. The KSA/UAE troops, as insignificant as they might be as a fighting force, would be excellent human shields.

Russia supporting SAA troop advancing from the west or countering a Turkish incursion in Jarabulus would have to consider the implications of taking out some KSA/UAE troops. I doubt that would stop Russia cold, but they would be hesitant to stir up trouble directly with either KSA or the UAE unnecessarily. Without Russian air support, any SAA/SDF advance across the Azaz-Jarabulus corridor would be difficult.

The U.S. is trying to diplomatically juggle the interests of their insane NATO partner Turkey with their desire to help the Kurds via the SDF. One reason why the U.S. might approve of the KSA/UAE troops is because they could make Erdogan happy by preserving the corridor and can claim helplessness to the Kurds without seeming to betray them. "Ooops... we were going to bomb Jarabulus and Manbij, but Sultan Murad/KSA/UAE got there first. Sorry. Can't help you now. I guess you won't be needing a lot of arms, ammo and U.S. advisors either. See ya..."

The KSA and UAE announcements didn't come out of the blue, and they have no intention of going to Syria as any kind of serious threat to anybody. Seems a lot more like Turkey/U.S. trying to figure out 1) a face-saving but somewhat desperate measure to preserve some of the doomed Azaz-Jarabulus corridor, and 2) shoring up their envisioned Sunnistan with the remaining Arab FSA in central/eastern Syria (Sultan Murad Division) with embedded KSA/UAE human shields.

This all plays in to the longer-term strategy of denying Syria as many of it's oil fields as possible. The U.S. is eager to grab as many as possible for the Kurds and the hoped-for Sunnistan. This keeps the left-over western Syria eternally weak, splits the rest of Syria as originally planned, ensures endless chaos between the pieces and satisfies the original goals of Turkey and Israel.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 8 2016 17:52 utc | 60

from the link @58
The Syrian army's success in opening a route to the Shi'ite towns of Nubul and Zahraa enabled it to cut a main highway that linked rebel held areas in the northern countryside with the eastern part of Aleppo held by insurgents since 2012.

The latest gains by the Syrian government brings it to the closest point to the Turkish border area since August 2013, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

The capture of the towns of Mayer and then Kafin, just north of Nubul and Zahraa, in the past 24 hrs have opened the road toward Tal Rifaat, the next focus of the army assault. The capture of that would leave only the town of Azaz before the Turkish border itself.

The prospect of the loss of Azaz, just a few miles from the Bab al Salama border crossing, would virtually wipe out the insurgents from their main stronghold in northwest Syria.

Posted by: okie farmer | Feb 8 2016 18:01 utc | 61

@59/60 paveway.. thanks for articulating all that and offering to make sense of what is a complicated platter..

Posted by: james | Feb 8 2016 18:09 utc | 62

After hospital bombings, wedding party attacks, thousands of "collateral" victims of drone war, and half a million dead Iraqis, Kerry should this his pants every time he dares to complain about human rights.

Posted by: Jim Mooney | Feb 8 2016 19:34 utc | 63


There is an interesting Catholic history here:
about the Great Schism and the rise of the Jesuits and Johannites, after the early Xtian church lost its way in idolatry, the Saturnian myth of Jesus as the son of a now vengeful and jealous G-d, consolidation of a hidden in plain view secular theocracy engaged in hegemonic crusades, internecine wars, acquisition of wealth and power, inquisitions, slavery, saints, magical mysteries, the myth of democracy,...anyway, worth reading in light of Gramm-Leich-Bliley unleashing Satan to walk the Earth in plain view, stalking and eating the souls of mankind.

Posted by: Chipnik | Feb 8 2016 19:54 utc | 64

@31 'organized' arab armies don't seem to be very good.. on Iran mil forum they're always complaining about SAA running away when bullets start flying at them, etc. They probably lack a well-structured arsenal to provide them with effective fire control from a distance, so they end up using bad, naive tactics against guerrillas.

I can't really knock them because I certainly would not want to risk death in a war, but if you're in a war and perform poorly, you lose both your life and your campaign

The Sunni militias and Iranian-based military and militias by-contrast have a more fatalistic sense of duty and seem to be more successful overall, as they are clearly not afraid of death as they attempt to take objectives

Posted by: aaaaaa | Feb 8 2016 21:12 utc | 65

TOT, but not totally, in light of b's premise that Kerry, and the ziomedia that reports on Kerry, is capable of both arming and funding ISIS, and at the same time, trying to bring ISIS, Erdogan and Assad to the negotiation table, no doubt to carve out a Sunnistan / Kurdistan pipeline from the Syrian oil fields through Turkey and on to Israel for transshipment in private carriers, essentially a perpetual piggy bank for the Globalist looters.

No comes another ziomedia, Bernstein reporting on NKs alleged 'hydrogen bomb':

And if you read it, I want you to notice a couple of things. Bernstein's careful 'ladder up' from 1KT to 10KT is a lie. The actual yields were much lower, and as I've posted many times, the lower yield could have easily been created with an underground ANFO explosion using easily available mining technology. Despite massive overflights, no radioactivity has ever been detected, then just review the history of the Nevada underground tests.

Notice as well, Bernstein conflates the visual of banks of (non-working) centrifuges with a later 'confident estimate' that NK has enough fissile material for four bmobs. Interesting proof. I see you have a gnu, it doesn't have any bullets, there are no bullets lying around, however, my judgement is that you committed four mrurders.

Bernstein is very smoothly committing four mrurders here, and committing US taxpayers to a FOURTH GENERATION of Mil.Gov carpetbaggers with full pensions for life, hovering like vampires over the "Myth of NK Has The Bmob!!" A myth of 50 years, now pushing into 50 more. All NK has demonstrated is they can create large underground explosions, and imitate the Soviet Sputnik, some 50 years too late.

Now if Bernstein and the Western Command can pull off this charade for 50 years, imagine what Kerry, and a new Defense budget with 4x the funding for mayhem and mrurder in the Levant will do to Syria, and therefore to the EU.

Soon you'll be able to look out your window for that answer. How can we stop the ziomedia war profiteering myth machine?

Posted by: Chipnik | Feb 8 2016 21:35 utc | 66

55;Just another example of Gumby in action.(a highly bendable
cartoon character of the 50s)I think he's let all foreign policies to
Kerry and the SD,he's working on his left hand jump shot for the NBA.Really.He always seems happiest surrounded by sports stars.An incurious unintellect.
Kerry,to his credit,does seem better than that hell bitch that helped destroy the ME and Africa,now in high demand by the Zio powers that be.Her bent dick partner in crime helped BS,that's for sure.Him commenting on character?HS.
The Russkies kick ass!
Saw something at the Indy? about UN censuring Syrian govt about civilian deaths.Could be BS,definitely a biased site.
Check out Angry Arab for link to fascination VC and NVA photos of Vietnam war.

Posted by: dahoit | Feb 8 2016 21:47 utc | 67

Not at all unexpected. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and SoS Mr. Kerry are not of like minds. Different hymnals.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon blamed Russia for stalling the Syria peace talks

Ban Ki-moon believed that the talks, which UN Special Envoy on Syria had tried to launch in Geneva since January 29, were undermined by sudden intensification of air strikes on Syria and the ongoing absence of humanitarian access to the war-stricken Syrian population.

Posted by: likklemore | Feb 8 2016 22:16 utc | 68

im ona russian side until now, without them nothing would have happened. but aleppo isa big city full of civilians?Aleppo province as well as in Idleb province are officially allied with the Nusra Front which is Al-Qaed

Posted by: ina | Feb 8 2016 22:48 utc | 69

b, PavewayIV, et al.

I think the anti-Assad Coalition got what they wanted from the Peace talks. They demanded a ceasefire before talks, answer: NO. They attended the talks, to show 'good faith' and again raised the issue of a ceasefire - the answer was again, "NO". When the talks reconvene, I would guess the answer will still be the same. The know-nothing Western public is appalled: more refugees?!? Something must be done!

That the US diplomatic position doesn't reflect that of its 'lead behind' partners is no surprise.

All the musing about a possible Turkish/Saudi attack on 4+1 Coalition seems like misdirection. The rebels are being clobbered, but it would be foolish and foolhardy for Turkey/KSA/etc. to take on the 4+1 Coalition directly. Either they:

1) provide rebels/Nusra/ISIS AA/MANPADs to nullify 4+1 Coalition air advantage;

2) give up on the Syrian escapade altogether; or,

3) prepare for a 'new stage' of the conflict.

One way of doing (3) is, as PavewayIV mentions (as have I in less precise terms), to use the ruse of fighting ISIS and humanitarian assistance as a means of establishing 'safe zones', thereby securing 'Sunnistan' in Iraq/Syria. Occupied Syria then becomes a bargaining chip. Eventually, Iraqi ISIS-held territory could also be secured.

I don't know what will happen, but it seems like wishful thinking that Turkey, Israel, KSA, and 'lead from behind' partner USA will accept a 4+1 victory and 'move on'.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 8 2016 22:53 utc | 70

February 8, 2016

This evenings U.S. National News is blaming the Syrian refugee problem on Russia's indiscriminate bombing in Syria, neglecting to mention that 99% of the refugees fled Syria PRIOR TO RUSSIAN AIR FORCES BOMBING which commenced on or about September 30, 2015.

Posted by: Alberto | Feb 9 2016 0:03 utc | 71

If Turkey has 2.5 million refugees, costing, what, $1000 per head per year? At least? So whats the deal with this whole 3billion blackmail story?

Posted by: dan | Feb 9 2016 0:04 utc | 72

That sophomoric comment at 51 is not mine; is some idiot playing around w the names again?

Posted by: Penelope | Feb 9 2016 0:27 utc | 73

L Bean @ 57,
"I don't know, Merkel is being quoted all over the US media as being "horrified" by the "Russian bombings" in Syria. She is still toeing the line, contrary to all projected alternate paths she was expected to take ... at some point. Maybe next year.."

L Bean, Germany is in a tough spot. US must keep Euro weaker than dollar so that it won't be a better safe-haven.
Also, last summer Thierry Meyssan predicted that US would move to deindustrialize Germany. Here's his list of the steps:
"De-Industrialization of Germany.
Step 1: Destroy trade between Russia and Germany;
Step 2: Make Germany support the openly Neo-Nazi dictatorship in Kiev;
Step 3: Flood Germany with refugees;
Step 4: Dismantle its most iconic brands; [Recent attack on Volkswagen]
Step 5: Put entire German auto industry at risk; [20% of industrial revenue]
Step 6: Put Germany on the list of first strikes for Russia by bringing into Germany nuclear weapon; [Announced in Sept; Germans then got rid of planes to carry 'em.]
Step 7: Put entire German economy at risk;
Step 8: Cut the Russian gas and the Chinese financing and the industrial collapse will follow;
Step 9: With all those emigrants being out of work and Germans being out of work due to industrial collapse, there will be social unrest that Germany has never seen before."

Plus: A share of Deutsche Bank: Early 2014 $50,    9/2015 $25,    Last Friday $16.88

Little-known facts about Germany
"Germany was forced to accept the euro. So far to what is being reported by European and global media and policymakers. What is largely being omitted is that Germany was not fond of giving up the D-Mark and that the euro was imposed on Germany by the Thatcher and Mitterand governments and as a precondition for the German reunification. Former German Chancellor Helmuth Kohl wrote in his biography that Mitterand implicitly threatened Germany by saying that unless Germany would accept the euro, it would find itself as isolated as it was in 1913 – the year before WW I .
A few German “experiences”? Other German “experiences” would include the assassination of the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Deutsche Bank Alfred Herrenhausen in 1989. The assassination, which was blamed on the militant German left RAF came only days after Herrenhausen suggested that international banks should work towards a debt moratorium for third world countries."

I think at this moment that Merkel is going to do and say anything that Washington wants.
T. Meyssan may be correct about the intention to deindustrialize Germany.
Reducing the living standards and independence of 1st World Countries is part of
consolidating the global oligarchy.

Posted by: Penelope | Feb 9 2016 0:50 utc | 74

Jackrabbit @ 69,
"I don't know what will happen, but it seems like wishful thinking that Turkey, Israel, KSA, and 'lead from behind' partner USA will accept a 4+1 victory and 'move on'."

I don't know what will happen either, but here's a possibility: It seemed to me when the Saudis attacked Yemen that the target
was Saudi Arabia. If Turkey goes to war w Russia by invading Syria, the target that the US is setting up is Turkey, or
at least Erdogan: A coup or civil war. Turkey is 20-25% Kurds, and 20% Shiite (Alevi) who are thoroughly disadvantaged by
the govt. If Erdogan orders the Army into Syria, how popular do you think he'll be w the military? Intelligence (MIT) will
stand by him unless the US has bought some other action. Until Erdogan adjusted the constitution the military had the
constitutional duty to overthrow really bad administrative acts at all levels. An account of the 4 military coups since 1960
are here. So with 45% of the population against him, it wouldn't surprise me. I don't think Israel would mind either
Saudi Arabia or Turkey being broken up: not exactly an enemy of chaos.

Posted by: Penelope | Feb 9 2016 1:18 utc | 75

There is an interesting Catholic history here:
...anyway, worth reading in light of Gramm-Leich-Bliley unleashing Satan to walk the Earth in plain view, stalking and eating the souls of mankind.
Posted by: Chipnik | Feb 8, 2016 2:54:57 PM | 64

You've spoilt that article for me by niftily summing it up in one paragraph. And I don't mind at all. I've become jaded from reading How It Happened stories and am keen to read a couple of How To Fix It stories, hopefully involving ropes, trees & lamp posts, and lists.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9 2016 3:14 utc | 76

All "Ordinary People" need to be reminded that they, and not loud politicians, are "Society." When a (bribed) politician tells you that you're not qualified to have a worthwhile opinion about the way your country is run, and should shut up and let them decide what's best for you, remind Him/Her that randomly-selected JURIES still make all the important Life & Death decisions in Society; and He/She should be careful what He/She wishes for.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9 2016 3:36 utc | 77

People who are protesting about Political Chicanery should stop allowing themselves to be called "Protesters" and should insist that they be described as a Jury.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9 2016 3:48 utc | 78

@ 73 / Penelope

>> Also, last summer Thierry Meyssan predicted that US would

Link, please.

Posted by: dumbass | Feb 9 2016 5:04 utc | 79

Canada's new PM, Justin Trudeau has announced his new and improved contribution to the US-led coalition:

Canada Retools ISIL Mission

Washington Approves

Posted by: John Gilberts | Feb 9 2016 5:38 utc | 80

# 78.
Whatever Meyssan might have said could only be an updated perspective on the Morgenthau Plan, cooked up by the US Occupiers of post-WWII Germany, and changed several times but never completely repudiated or abandoned.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9 2016 6:05 utc | 81

@73 @78 - IMHO USA wants:
Rich foreigners and talented foreign workers. Europe has a lot of both
What better a way to corral them into USA than to destabilize Europe?

Remember when Greece's CDSs suddenly got attacked out of the blue a while after Lehman bros? I'm pretty sure that it was an orchestrated attack on the euro, led the Obama admin.

The brow-beating of Europe into accepting refugees and RAPEfugees was quite successful; Germany's now in a real pickle.

The automobile industry 'safety' targeting by the Obama admin is the other ploy...

HOW is Merkel still in power? She's a complete disgrace!!!

Posted by: aaaaaa | Feb 9 2016 6:23 utc | 82

@60 PW

I'd think that with Syria (and the Russian duma) defining any uninvited foreign troops intervening in Syria as an act of aggressive war, combined with a telephone within reach of Putin to emphasize that very point to the Saudis, Bahrainis, and the UAE that there will be no problem with the Syrians obliterating any GCC expeditionary force attempting to intervene in Syria - with the now usual help of the Russian air force.

On losing some oil in the east ... didn't I read about very significant finds of gas offshore Syria? You're the military wiz, certainly not I, but isn't the fighting much more difficult in the west of Syria where there are mountains, caves, rivers, and so many people than in the east? And wouldn't rolling up the relict jihadis in the wide open, empty eastern desert and retaking all the territory up to the Iraqi border be a proverbial 'cakewalk' once the west is cleaned up and secured together with the Turkish border?

Posted by: jfl | Feb 9 2016 6:56 utc | 83

PB @49

Sure, maybe it's just me. But your presentation is so deadpan that I often have to bring to bear all my previous readings of your posts to determine what you 'really' mean. I guess I'm just a fan of clarity.


Your diction and syntax had me fooled completely, I'd never have taken you for a Mixtec farmer. Peasant is the kind of word that I'd have thought a Mixtec would have had to have picked up from, say, a central European. Campesino, maybe, from the Spanish overlords and their descendents. But, hey, give it a shot anyway. It's not really rocket science. But the guy at Penn State apparently teaches theoretical computer science so I figured he'd be right there with his graph theory. Of course he seems to teach, at least primarily, at the graduate level and so might be incapable of explaining anything without lapsing into the jargon that their undergraduate years would have drummed into the heads of his grad students, so if its too much of a chore forget it. I think I have it fairly well in hand myself.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 9 2016 7:16 utc | 84

Dumbass @ 78,
Sorry, I added Meyssan's prediction to my file last summer, but as I didn't anticipate relaying it to others didn't
note the link.

Posted by: Penelope | Feb 9 2016 7:58 utc | 85

Alistair Crooke has a brilliant and must read article in the Huffington Post. "The negotiating table is not in Geneva. The true negotiations are taking place on the battlefields of Idlib and Aleppo -- and what has just been negotiated is the near encirclement of rebel forces into a cauldron.
Nor, it seems, is Syria heading toward a low-intensity guerrilla war in the aftermath of any military victory on the ground. The scenes below, showing people's jubilation when the Syrian Army and Hezbollah forces entered villages that had been retaken from rebel forces this week, tell a different story:
Nor, it seems, is Syria heading toward a low-intensity guerrilla war in the aftermath of any military victory on the ground. The scenes below, showing people's jubilation when the Syrian Army and Hezbollah forces entered villages that had been retaken from rebel forces this week, tell a different story"
"Put simply, should Nusra members (who are mainly Syrian) and other rebels try to disperse and hide amongst local communities, there will be no water in which these fish can swim, to paraphrase the Maoist adage. They will find little or no public support".

Posted by: harry law | Feb 9 2016 9:20 utc | 86

Sorry about the double paste, I am sure you will forgive me when you read Crookes article.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 9 2016 9:23 utc | 87

@60 Paveway IV,

I'd agree with your take that either way we look at it Syria is broken into pieces just like Iraq, and Libya. And, that's what matters to people at DC/Tel Aviv etc.

@74 Penelope,

I think not! If the powers (the US/Israel) wanted to cut out Erdogan, they would have done it long time ago. He plays and fills a very important role of being hated and egoistical maniac for powers be, plus it would not hurt to have NATO's second biggest military force at his helms. KSA/UAE are just in there for PR purposes, imo.

Turkey, love her or hate her, plays a very important role (through history between Jews and Turks), and for the Western powers in that matter. It is not easy to carve out Turkey, or break up, plus no need to. Enough brewing taking place in the country especially over the last year or so on many fronts yet tyrant of Bosphorus knows how to take hostage against Germany (Merkel visits Erdogan-Davutoglu second time).

Posted by: Truist | Feb 9 2016 10:04 utc | 88

jfl@82 - "...combined with a telephone within reach of Putin to emphasize that very point to the Saudis, Bahrainis, and the UAE that there will be no problem with the Syrians obliterating any GCC expeditionary force attempting to intervene in Syria - with the now usual help of the Russian air force...

The 'help of the Russian Air Force' is the tricky part. Putin is too much of a statesman to just blast away at a Turkish invasion (via Syrian FSA Turkmen) if there's assorted Gulf meat in the stew. However strained (or not) Russia's relations with any Gulf states are today, they will become an order of magnitude worse once the RuAF starts sending Gulf soldiers back in coffins. Russia knows the entire purpose of a Turkish/Gulf alliance is the human shield aspect. I'm postulating that the Saudis/Gulfies would be part of a larger U.S.-led effort that would include the FSA Turkmen. The Kurds will be kicked to the side of the road once the U.S. has used them for whatever.

If the U.S. became involved directly, they would likely lend air support and intel to the Turkish/Gulf forces to repel any Syrian/Iranian ground attacks, further complicating things. That and the fact that some U.S. troops would be mixed in with the other forces. Now Russia has to worry about accidentally smoking Americans while it tries to beat off the Turkish/Gulf invasion. The U.S. would cry a river about any Russian attack on anyone fighting ISIS, and the U.S. would go ballistic if U.S. troops were dodging Russian bombs.

If the Turkish/Gulf/U.S. forces can capture Raqqa or especially Deir EzZor, then Syria would be hard-pressed to take either back from them. It would likely be lost to a new Sunnistan in whatever peace negotiations happen in the future. With the Saudis/Gulfies involved, there would have no problem 'liberating' those cities. There would be no fighting - they would just walk in. They'll pay off their ISIS stooges and give them tickets to somewhere else. Kind of a bloodless liberation like the way ISIS walked into Mosul. Everyone's laughing at the thought of Saudi military might, but they forget that the ISIS 'enemy' works for Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Saudi soldiers won't even have to get out of their Humvees - they'll just roll down the window a little and toss bags of cash out to their head-chopper pals.

The Saudis and Gulf States would likely bring some kind of air defense toys with them, even if it were just MANPADs. They have quite a bit more. They also have plenty of armor and choppers to throw at Syria if they wanted. The Syrian AF would be neutralized by basic air defense and I doubt Russia would want to sacrifice planes or crews in any effort to kick Turkey/Gulf out of the oil cities after months of hammering ISIS. Any Syrian/Iraqi Army ground effort would take a long time - too long to retake either city before some kind of fake western-led peace negotiations.

"...On losing some oil in the east ... didn't I read about very significant finds of gas offshore Syria?..."

Maybe - they're coast is part of the Leviathan formation. But no significant 'finds' - they're barely getting started with exploration. You're talking a decade and billions in investment. The oil and gas in Syria's east right now isn't significant in an export, cash-generating sense, but there's enough for Syria to be self-sufficient. Gas is big because Syria's electricity in the west is mostly gas-generated. Palmyra is the gas hub. Without their gas and oil in the east, the Syrian recovery would be even slower and more painful than it's going to be. It would keep Syria weak for years, which fits right into Turkey and Israel's desires. Oil/gas for a future Sunnistan is just a bonus on top of that, but the real aim is to cripple Syria economically going forward.

"...You're the military wiz..."

Ha! Thanks [embarrassed], but only in the Google sense of 'wiz'. I just parrot what other smart people have already said right here on MoA or in some other dark corners of the internet.

"...And wouldn't rolling up the relict jihadis in the wide open, empty eastern desert and retaking all the territory up to the Iraqi border be a proverbial 'cakewalk' once the west is cleaned up and secured together with the Turkish border?..."

Syria - with Russia and Iran's help - could sweep across central Syria with some effort if they just had to worry about ISIS. They just can't do that in say a week from now because they still have too much work to do in the west. There will be a window of time in the next month or two where whoever beats ISIS out of Raqqa and Deir EzZor first and occupies them will own those cities and the oilfields. Everyone there knows that - Russia, Syria, U.S., Gulfies, etc. The U.S. has it's eyes on it and was gearing up the SDF for the effort. That would result in the same outcome (although sooner) if Turkey/Gulfies joined in: the anti-Assad Sunnis would be back in those cities to eventually be turned over to them (and the envisioned Sunnistan).

If time were not an issue, Syria/Iran/Russia would eventually reclaim those cities and oilfields from ISIS for Syria. They would much rather go up against a weakened, demoralized ISIS and whatever equipment and ammo they have left. Well-equipped Turkish, U.S. or Saudi/Gulf-backed forces would be an entirely different matter. Syrians might never see the other side of the Euphrates again if that happens.

This is all just guessing on my part. I'm attempting to rationalize why Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states would suddenly make a bizarre proclamation about their willingness to send troops on the verge of 1) a potential Turkish-backed push via FSA Turkmen and maybe a quick in-out 'invasion' of Jarabulus, and 2) the U.S. gearing up the SDF but suddenly grinding to a halt after Tishreen and 3) apparently doing nothing about Raqqa and Deir EzZor besides pounding them with air strikes. It smells like some kind of evil scheme.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 9 2016 10:26 utc | 89

@88 PW

Thanks a lot for expanding my view of the situation in east Syria. The 'whoever gets there first' motif seems quite convincing. And the fact that the Saudis would not have to fight, but just displace Da'esh - here's the new boss, same as the old boss - certainly gives them the pole position there. I guess it's up to the US, everyone is standing right behind the 'US-led coalition'.

The Syrians/Russians do have their hands full in the North, and it is essential that they concentrate their efforts there until they are successful. Sez I, as though I knew. But it does seem that way to me.

So maybe it comes down to the SDF? They are primarily Kurds? They are in a position to beat the Gulfies to the punch. Although they are nominally tied to the USA, I'm sure they can drop the US as quickly as the US has dropped them so many times in the past. Maybe it is time for Syria, at least, to begin talking Turkey - with a capital 'T' - with the Kurds, as in what's the future look like for the Kurds in Syria? I've thought for some time now that the Kurds and their relations with Syrian/Iraq/Iran/Turkey are the key to the region. I think that if Syria/Iraq/Iran - forget Turkey - could get real about their relations with the Kurds they could then forge a really solid future for all concerned in the region. But maybe that's not possible.

Thanks again for your commentary. Everything you say always makes sense. Doesn't mean it's right ... but it always makes sense. None of us knows what's going to happen, of course, but it's good to be thinking about the possibilities sensibly.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 9 2016 11:00 utc | 90

Paveway1V "The 'help of the Russian Air Force' is the tricky part. Putin is too much of a statesman to just blast away at a Turkish invasion (via Syrian FSA Turkmen) if there's assorted Gulf meat in the stew". If Putin allows an invasion by whoever [led by the US of course] then Russia's whole strategy would unravel i.e, a unified and secular state, it would also be consistent with Brzezinsky's crazy view "The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland," Brzezinski noted. "They could be 'disarmed' if they persist in provoking the US." Boots on the ground are so important here, if they are Turkish, Gulfies or US ones, Syria is lost. That is why I do not think Russia will blink.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 9 2016 12:00 utc | 91

@90 HL

An uniquivocal statement by Syria/Russia running down the facts will help ...

1. an invasion of a UN member nation by any other nation without authorization by the UNSC is an act in opposition to the UN charter,
2. the UNSC resolution that governs the battle against ISIS explicitly restates the primacy of the UN charter.
3. any invasion of Syria in defiance of the UN charter is an act of war.
4. Syria and its allies will act jointly to repel and defeat any such invasion.

... focus everyone's attention on exactly what's at stake before an invasion of Syria.

Seems to me, anyway.

Posted by: jfl | Feb 9 2016 12:25 utc | 92

Posted by: PavewayIV | Feb 9, 2016 5:26:33 AM | 88

Russia is in Syria for Russian reasons. Syria isn't a hobby, or a pantomime, or a fancy-dress party. Anyone who gets in the way will be mangled by Russia. The US isn't going to directly confront Russia because it can't afford to have its Superpower myth bruised, let alone shredded overnight.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Feb 9 2016 13:14 utc | 93

Six reasons you can't take the Litvinenko report seriously

Posted by: Les | Feb 9 2016 15:42 utc | 94


I agree with your POV. Jubilation comments about 4+1 Coalition progress make it seem like the game is over. It is not. (Been trying to make this point here myself.)

Concern about Turkish intervention is overblown - and the threat feels diversionary because military/diplomatic planners are likely to be considering the next stage of the conflict.

Perhaps it's best to sum it up as: The race to Raqqa.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Feb 9 2016 16:50 utc | 95

Looks like Merkel and Erdogan are trying a different tack via the UN.....

"If Aleppo falls, people will come out in the millions to Turkey wearing nothing but the clothes on their backs," said Aleppo native Yasser, who declined to give his surname out of concerns for his safety. "We thank Turkey because they have stood with us more than our Arab brothers but we ask that this border gate be opened in both directions."

Posted by: dh | Feb 9 2016 17:00 utc | 96

Bahrain, a strong ally to Saudi Arabia appears to side with Putin on the war in Syria, distancing itself from Turkey's adamant criticism and opposition to Russia's presence in Syria.
Is it a sign that the GCC is moving away from its alliance with Turkey?

Bahrain's king hands 'sword of victory' to Putin after Syria talks

“We called it the sword of victory,” he added. “For imminent victory, God willing.”

Khalifa appeared to be referring to Russia's role in Syria, where its military forces have been conducting air strikes in support of the Syrian government since September last year.

Posted by: virgile | Feb 9 2016 17:16 utc | 97

Jackrabbit@94 I agree it is not over, but the race to Raqqa cannot be won by the US and allies without breaking International law as jfl@91 pointed out very well above. I know, I know, International law was breached when the US coalition perversely interpreted the UNSC Resolution on Libya. The Russians said they would not let that happen again, that is why Putin said Syria would be an aggressors 'Stalingrad', he must mean Syria is his red line. If not, you can be sure, [as Putin well knows], Russia will be next.

Posted by: harry law | Feb 9 2016 17:19 utc | 98

This looks like more badly-thought-out hardball (extortion) even mercenary behavior on Erdogan's part. He's really going to allow (his own high-estimate) 500,000 people to languish, massed on the other side of his closed border. Again, the media is acting as if most of these people are in the process of permanently leaving Syria to become refugees (en route to Europe, no less) ... when most just want to avoid combat and aerial bombardments ... either death at the hands of the Ruskies !!!! or genocide at the hands of Assad !!! (BBC commentator conceding that the "new" report of government atrocities is unlikely to be more "effective" than all the past reports that made the same accusations.)

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Feb 9 2016 17:25 utc | 99

Re: Posted by: jfl | Feb 9, 2016 2:16:33 AM | 83

I roughly understand the paper, but one needs to go through fine details to figure out the implications. Financial institution have stock portfolios that include stocks of other financial institutions, but how they defined the ownership stakes that are sufficient to postulate a "relationship"? The main claim is that among many thousands of financial institutions we see two global groups where the control is concentrated. London and Zurich? They do not say. One would need to see their tables and lists.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Feb 9 2016 17:31 utc | 100

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