Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 06, 2016

Syria - Preparing For The Next Major Push

There seems to be some progress in the regional "games" around the conflict in Syria. The Turkish Prime minister Davutoglu currently visits Iran. The Iranians let some lucrative economic projects dangle in front of his eyes. But the main points were about Syria. According to this Turkish source Davutoglu said these issues were agreed upon:

taylieli @taylieli

#Turkish PM Davutoglu: We've reached on deal with #Iran for 5 matters: 1) A joint visit to #Jordan to discuss on #Syria, on coming days (1)

2) The continuity of ceasfire in #Syria
3) The unity of #Syria
4) The participitation of all -internal- actors in #Syria's future (2)

5) The joint act to defeat all kind of terrorism inc. #Isil in the geography of #ME. (3)

This smells like an bit of  change in the so far rigid Turkish position.

Russian military transport traffic through the Bosporus has markedly increased. A lot of new trucks, tanks and artillery are coming to Syria. In the summer the Russian aircraft carrier will take station at the Syrian coast. This is likely the build up for a major campaign.

Meanwhile the U.S. is building a second (small) airport in north east Syria to, allegedly, support its Kurdish proxy forces there in the fight against the Islamic State. Syria and Russia should be very careful in allowing such creeping occupation. It is difficult to get rid of such U.S. incursions once they are established.

On Friday another U.S trained, paid and armed force, probably only a few dozen or so, attacked the Syria-Iraq border crossing at Tanaf which was in the hand of the Islamic State. The "rebel" marketing campaign claimed that this group was the "New Syrian Army". The border crossing is also near the Jordan border from where these fighters came. They had U.S. (or Jordan) air support and managed to capture the handful of lone buildings in the desert that constitute the station. But 24 hours later the Islamic State said it was again in full control of it. If true, and I believe it is, this "new Syrian army" is a sad joke and will not play a role in the race to Raqqa.

In total everyone seems to use the current relative quiet of the "cessation of hostilities" to move into launch positions for a possibly final campaign against IS and the other objectionable subjects.  It will be a hot summer in Syria.


Posted by b on March 6, 2016 at 18:57 UTC | Permalink


Near Zero effect of cessation of hostilities deal, with some claiming it was part of a major victory.
It only allowed the terrorist states and it's terrorist proxies to regroup, re-propagandise, re-arm, and re-supply.

I keep hearing Putins a genius

Posted by: tom | Mar 6 2016 19:27 utc | 1

Any major military campaign will begin before the summer, which can be brutally hot in Syria.

Posted by: Quentin | Mar 6 2016 19:57 utc | 2

Syria is not too hot in summer, not like Basra or the Gulf.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 6 2016 20:01 utc | 3

"Syria and Russia should be very careful in allowing such creeping occupation. It is difficult to get rid of such U.S. incursions once they are established."

Putin (who has adopted the role of CIC for the Syria SNAFU) may not be a genius but he is a gentleman. When the Yankees in Syria have outlived their usefulness (to Putin) they'll be invited to declare Victory and leave - or else!
The Yankees are dumb enough to believe that saving Syria is the end of something unpleasant, but it's just the beginning of Russia (& China's) AmeriKKKa must step down Project.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 6 2016 20:43 utc | 5

"New Syrian Army" are/were just rebranded ISIS, see:

Perhaps the "retaking" was just a switching of flags?

Posted by: don | Mar 6 2016 20:51 utc | 6

There are two "Non-White" exceptional social-political thinkers in my lifetime which I greatly admire. Tariq Ali a British Pakistani writer, journalist, and filmmaker and Vijay Prashad an Indian historian, journalist, commentator and a Marxist intellectual.

There are other Whites I admire: Julian Assange, John Pliger both Australian, Chris Hedges, Abby Martin and Edward Snowden not forgetting Medea Benjamin. Medea Benjamin recently hosted Vijay Prashad in 2016 Summit on Saudi Arabia.. You must watch Vijay Prashad video (below).

Vijay Prashad remarks cans of worms from GW Bush to the present and why Russia and China will never allows USA regime change again after Libya especially now in Syria, Dr. Bashar al-Assad.

Vijay Prashad most frequently found in The Real New Network (TRNN)

Tariq Ali weekly show in The World Today TeleSur.

BTW if you like Abby Martin, she often appear weekly show mostly on Friday in "The Empire File", TeleSur produced by Paul Jay the senior editor in TRNN or here YouTube,


Posted by: Jack Smith | Mar 6 2016 21:14 utc | 7

Complete shows.. 2016 Summit on Saudi Arabia: Understanding the Kingdom and its Global Role

Posted by: Jack Smith | Mar 6 2016 21:20 utc | 8

JS thanks for the links.

b I'll wait and see about a change in turkeys ways of business.

Posted by: jo6pac | Mar 6 2016 22:47 utc | 9

Lots of progress being made against terrorists according to those reporting at plus a good report about the revolt in Raqqa. The website owner has no love for the Saudis as this item proves,

Although there's still work to do to clear Daesh and kin out of Syraq, the writing's on the wall as to winners and losers--Syria's allies have won and the Outlaw US Empire and the Zionist Entity's project to create Greater Israel has lost. Sputnik picked up Applebaum's WaPost oped and parsed it,
Myself and almost every commentator hope she's correct about the demise of the New World Order; I found those presidents she named as sharing Neocon values quite interesting. Clearly she can't handle seeing the end of the death and destruction her Neocon kin have caused and subsequent loss of power and is pinning her hopes on the felon Clinton winning.

Posted by: karlof1 | Mar 6 2016 23:11 utc | 10

Iranians are interested in doing business with Turkey but they will not tolerate that Turkey continues its policy of supporting Sunni Islamist rebels and blindly following Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
As economy is the pillar of the AKP and of Erdogan's survival, Turkey will probably accept to dump the disappointing and doomed Syrian opposition.
We already saw the replacement of the Turkmen Khoja by Anas Al Abda at the head of the SNC.

If they loose the logistical support of Turkey and it seems they have, the opposition's fate is now in Saudi's hands and this does not prepare it for better days.

Posted by: Virgile | Mar 6 2016 23:12 utc | 11

Erdogan has extended his control of Turkey to structures well outside political/legislative institutions using the familiar tools to destroy separation of powers and assume total control of the nation.
As many will be aware last week the Turkish courts took over control of Turkey's biggest selling daily newspaper Zaman and handed it over to a pro-Erdogan managing editor. Up until that point Zaman which is part of the organisation run by Fethullah Gülen a former ally of Erdogan's until Erdogan's corruption and Syria policy caused a major falling out, had been critical of Erdogan especially over Syria. The first edition after the takeover shows a smiling Erdogan on the front page as part of an Erdogan sycophantic article.
Numerous other newspapers and TV channels have been closed in the last couple of weeks. In most cases it has been the judiciary held in Erdogan's thrall who have precipitated the closures.

If Turkey is rethinking its Syria policy then it is because Erdogan has decided he must back down, in other words it is because of Recep Erdogan, not in spite of him, and the change is likely to be as temporary as cosying up to the PKK was. An act of political convenience only used for as long as it takes to regroup and then rise up again to further his neo-ottoman ambitions.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Mar 7 2016 0:00 utc | 12

Did@12 Wow: The Zaman media group’s offices were raided late on Friday night, breaking through a gate and storming the building before dragging out many of the journalists inside.

Posted by: Maracatu | Mar 7 2016 0:11 utc | 13

Good links JS, thanks. TRNN and Abby Martin are two of the best.

Posted by: ben | Mar 7 2016 0:47 utc | 15

Wrote b.: "In the summer the Russian aircraft carrier will take station at the Syrian coast."

What is the source for this claim? Tass reported one day before your blog post that:

" "This summer, we plan the Admiral Kuznetsov's campaign in the Mediterranean Sea, where it will lead the Navy group in that region," the source said.

"The source, however, has not specified what tasks the flagship of the Russian Navy will have in the Mediterranean grouping."

Nothing about being stationed off the Syrian coast.

Also, an English translation of a Tass article states that the carrier will return to port by the end of this year for at least two years for repairs:

Another source states that the major upgrades planned for the carrier have not occurred, and that it will remain in its current form for the remainder of its functional life:

All of this taken together suggest that the carrier is and will remain more of a stage-managed prop than a military asset.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Mar 7 2016 2:43 utc | 16

Test. Tried several times to post a comment, without success. It had three supporting hyperlinks, so may have tripped the spam filter. I tried removing one of the links, but it still didn't appear. Each time the system stated that the comment "has been posted". Please delete duplicates should they appear.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Mar 7 2016 2:51 utc | 17

Apparently Isis plans to defeat itself in Eastern Syria and then join the US 'coalition' as plain vanilla Sunnis opposed to Assad.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 7 2016 3:37 utc | 18

@ Maracatu #13 & 14. Dammit so it does seem as tho the mainstream media have chosen to ignore erdogan's assault on democracy as part of a trade off for holding Syrian refugees back from Europe. I learned off it as it happened solely because I still watch AJ every morning they had a live telecast of the debacle on Friday outside zaman. AJ is about the only media covering it prolly because Qatar and Fethullah Gülen have a connection.

I am completely unsurprised by the Turkish regime's suppression of criticism, but somewhat gobsmacked by western media's effort to ignore it. When the serbian TV station got bombed by amerika, media outlets which had been cheering on the wanton destruction of Belgrade objected to the targeting of a media outlet - not the case nowadays eh.

I haven't read a physical fishwrap in years & I notice that online news outlets have run one or two stories on the Zaman takeover but they are not accessible certainly they weren't on the front page or even the 'world news' front of any outlet I checked out over the weekend.

For example the Guardian/observer sunday liesheet had a long 100% evidence free tirade alleging Russia (well they said Putin, natch) was funding left and right extremist groups in germany. The source was an analyst with the Latvian security service (sure to be unbiased) but had no comment at all on the very real proven assault on press freedom in Turkey.
A few of us pointed out this anomaly and I notice the guardian has run an opinion piece this morning critical of Erdogan's attack on media - it isn't just Zaman over the last 2 weeks turkey's courts have appointed new managing editors on several newspapers and TV stations and even closed some.
Doubtless the article was in the works yesterday when we were pointing out the hypocrisy of the paper's position, but it should have been published immediately the attack on Zaman took place not long afterwards by which time the takeover is a done deal.

It is horrific that there has been so little media comment or information on the tyrannical acts committed in a nato member and soon to be in the EU, nation.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Mar 7 2016 5:01 utc | 19

@debs is dead.. re zaman - have been away the past couple of days... more crap from the freaks in company erdogan.. i see the the statement from the wh - "In a democratic society, critical opinions should be encouraged, not silenced," White House highlighted." what does the usa plan to do about any of it? talk is cheap.. meanwhile the msm - bought and paid for by the 1% continue to dictate what people are supposed to be interested in - vacuous hollywood oscar crap, or even worse a us election... it can't get more distracting then that... gong show is a good name for it all.. erdogan wants something similar, but is a lot less polished on it..

Posted by: james | Mar 7 2016 6:11 utc | 20

Let's try this again, without the supporting hyperlinks.

Wrote b.: "In the summer the Russian aircraft carrier will take station at the Syrian coast."

What is the source for this? A day before your blog post, TASS, citing an unnamed "high-ranking" Russian naval official, said that the carrier "may" go to the Mediterranean during the summer. But the article was cagey about the role it would play, first saying that it would lead the Russian "permanent naval group" in the Mediterranean; then saying that the source "didn't specify" what tasks the carrier will have in the naval group.

But according to another TASS article (translated into English by Fort Russ), the carrier will return to port by the end of the year, for at least two years of repairs, after its Mediterranean posting this summer.

Meanwhile, a March 5th article by Defense Update says that ambitious plans for the carrier's modernization have gone unfulfilled; that the carrier is basically the same as when it was commissioned in the early 1980s; and that it will remain so until it is decommissioned:

Put it all together, and Russia's sole "aircraft carrier" ( really an aviation cruiser) sounds more like a stage prop than a military asset.

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Mar 7 2016 6:41 utc | 21

Wrote b.: "A lot of new trucks, tanks and artillery are coming to Syria."

Back on February 15, in one of MoA's "Race to Raqqa" columns, we learned that the Russian led Syrian army (assisted by both Hezbollah and Iranian military/militia) were just 15 kilometers away from Tabqa airbase, and also near the strategically important city of Al Tawra. No mention since then of developments in the "race". Maybe their trucks broke down? If so, the latest shipment will no doubt set things straight.

About the same time, we heard about the pending closure of the Azaz pocket, with the pending closure of the Azaz crossing. Apparently, the Syrian army and its Russian advisers "decided to let" the Kurds do the job. But having failed to do the job, they seem to have decided to let the rebels hang on to Azaz a while longer. (More trucks!)

Posted by: Emil Pulsifer | Mar 7 2016 7:01 utc | 22

Posted by: Jack Smith | Mar 6, 2016 4:14:31 PM | 7

well tariq ali has been supporting the war on syria and on libya and opposes Assad as he did Gaddafi

British historian and journalist Ali considers it unlikely that Syrian president will step down on his own accord.

“He has to be pushed out,” Tariq Ali insists, for which “the Syrian people are doing their best”.

Pressure is being mounted outside Syria by Turkey and NATO for intervention – that would be disastrous and bring enormous bloodshed, like in Libya, believes Tariq Ali.

The expert says both Assad and his father have spilled enough Syrian blood and that “this family is unacceptable”.

“Syria needs a non-sectarian national government to prepare a new constitution," Tariq Ali stressed.

He expressed hope that all the most influential parties, like Russia, China, Iran and even Hezbollah must realize that it is time for President Assad to go and to do so, no peacekeeping force is needed.

Tariq Ali agrees that mounting international pressure on Bashar Assad is needed because simple economic sanctions will not bring the desired results. Countries like Iran and China would not abide them, so it is time for Russia and China to realize they need Assad no more.

He believes that once Assad falls, the new government will keep good relations with Iran, because this will be in the interest of the new democratic government.

“If the Assad clan refuses to relinquish their stronghold on the country, sooner or later something disastrous will happen,” Tariq Ali predicts, threatening a foreign intervention and recalling the inglorious deaths of Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi lynched by mobs inspired by the west.

“That is the future that stares them in the face, there is no other future,” Tariq Ali said.

“The fact is that the overwhelming majority of people in Syria want the Assad family out – and that is the key thing that we have to understand and he [Assad] should understand,” Tariq Ali claims.

that last paragraph of Alis is big lie....even the left will lie to serve its interests

Posted by: brian | Mar 7 2016 9:06 utc | 23

Posted by: Jack Smith | Mar 6, 2016 4:14:31 PM | 7

why Tariq ali cant be trusted on syria 2: lets see whathe has tosay on the 'syrian uprising':

'From the very beginning, I have openly and publicly supported the popular uprising against the family-run Baathist outfit that rules Damascus. I have been opposed to this regime ever since the Assad military coup that toppled its much more enlightened predecessor whose leaders and activists I met after the Six-Day war and who numbered in their ranks some of the finest intellectuals of the Arab world. To be honest I did not imagine that Syria would erupt like Egypt, but was delighted when it happened. I hoped that the scale of the uprising, its evident popularity would force the regime into negotiations and a jointly agreed plan to elect an Assembly that would decide on a new Constitution. There is some evidence to suggest that few within the regime did favour such a course. Very few. It was not to be. Stupidity and brutality, the two principal characteristics of the regime, could not be swept aside. They were institutionalised and Bashar Assad was convinced that any concessions would be fatal. For many months the popular uprising was peaceful and its strength grew and grew, not unlike the first Palestinian intifada against their Israeli overlords. My views were clear: Total solidarity with the people. Down with the dictatorship. This remains my position. There is nothing even vaguely progressive about this regime. But who will overthrow it and how? Not an unimportant question.'

this guy is NO friend of syria

Posted by: brian | Mar 7 2016 9:12 utc | 24

tariq alis ignorance on Assad is gross...he was a friend of Chavez,,and Chavez a friend of Assad, so why TAs ignorance of Assad ?

ali and Chavez

Chavez and Assad

so why didnt he ask for Chavez opinion on Assad?

'What did I think of Tariq Ali’s speech at the Chávez memorial event last night? Funny you should ask!

While I’ve been very critical of Tariq’s analysis before (most recently his demands that the “sectarian clique” headed by Syrian president Bashar al-Assad (a close friend of Hugo Chávez) be “pushed out”), I understand the reasoning for inviting him to give the lecture and I don’t object to it. Venezuela has nothing to gain by rejecting the enthusiastic support of influential intellectuals in the west, no matter how flawed they might be. If the event helps to raise solidarity with the Bolivarian Revolution, this is a positive thing'

“There is nothing even vaguely progressive about this regime” Tariq proclaims, dismissing the most multicultural and religiously tolerant nation in the region, with universal free education and health. Nothing to defend, they can all go to hell. Intervention is a disaster and the insurgents are ‘perfectly capable of carrying out their own massacres and blaming them on the regime’. This is ultra-leftism without an ethical compass.

so no ALi is a disappointment at least in the Middle east crisis

Posted by: brian | Mar 7 2016 9:28 utc | 25

Posted by: Jack Smith | Mar 6, 2016 4:14:31 PM | 7

on Tariq and Vijay and syria.....FYI:

'In May 2013, a group calling itself the Global Campaign for Solidarity with the Syrian Revolution promoted a petition which called for “Solidarity with the Syrian Struggle for Dignity and Freedom.” The petition listed Gilbert Achcar, Richard Seymour, Tariq Ali, Vijay Prashad, Norman Finklestein and Ilan Pape among its supporters.

Appearing to equate Islamists seeking a harsh theocratic rule in Damascus to “revolutionaries” linked to the struggles of Palestinians and opponents of neo-liberalism in the West, the petition called on the Syrian president to leave immediately and submit to a peaceful transition. One problem. The petition’s drafters failed to mention that this could only mean surrender to the rule of murderous sectarian fanatics in Damascus, with regrettable consequences for anyone who didn’t share the fanatics’ religious views. Or that the bulk of Syrians didn’t favor this outcome.

Nowhere did the petition mention:

o Takfirism or Wahabbism;
o Political Islam, backed by imperialist powers and their regional allies, as the driving force of the rebellion;
o Washington’s efforts to “build” a US partner who would govern in Damascus;
o The material support Washington provided to anti-Assad forces even in advance of the Arab Spring;
o Constitutional changes the Syrian government made in 2012 in response to the March 2011 uprising to open political space in the country;
o The reality that the largest Sunni fighting force in Syria was, then as now, the Syrian Arab Army;
o The fact that Assad had commanded sufficient popular support to continue in power despite, at that point, two years of war and the concerted opposition of the world’s most formidable powers and their regional allies— hardly a feat to be expected of a government that was oppressing its people.

neither Tariq nor Vijay are any good on syria

Posted by: brian | Mar 7 2016 9:39 utc | 26

Re: New airbase

"...Syria and Russia should be very careful in allowing such creeping occupation. It is difficult to get rid of such U.S. incursions once they are established..."

Assad is in no position to allow (or disallow) anything regarding the Kurds. Team Chaos had the same approach in Iraq - keep the national government weak and preoccupied, and you can just move in and 'claim' Kurdistan for U.S./Israeli purposes. Assad has been clear all along about a unified Syria, but the U.S. has alternately treated Kurds as vassals of NATO (as in Iraq), a disobedient future NATO vassal (early stages of failed Syria coup when Kurds didn't join FSA) and lately as hired merc land-grabbers and pacified future NATO vassals (arms, aid, airports, infrastructure some day I suppose).

It's difficult to get a read on what the average Rojava Kurd thinks of all this, other than they kind of tolerate the U.S. presence for arms and aid, but hate that the U.S. says nothing to Turkey about it's relentless attacks on them. The Rojava want independence, but don't seem to particularly care for mob boss Barzani's Barzanistan as the future Kurdish state.

Which brings us to the source of the article: Bas News. I mentioned before that this is the mouthpiece of Barzani's KDP party and is run by his brother-in-law(?) or other close relative. The english articles are written better than U.S. MSM stuff - it is obviously a slick piece of propaganda aimed at the West and intended to promote the ideas of Barzani and the KDP. Which is fine, except the KDP barely has a majority of the Iraqi Kurds backing it, and has no presence at all in Syria. If they publish something in Bas News, it's because Barzani or his western handlers (the CIA I presume, not the DoD/CENTCOM) want us to know about it.

Couple of items to chew on:

There has been some phrasing about 'straddling the Syrian/Turkish border' in some variants of this news item. Kobane doesn't straddle the border - it's 100% in Syria. Rmeilan isn't anywhere near the border either. I'm not sure if they were simply trying to suggest either 'airbase' was provocative to Turkey because of it's proximity, but both sites are miles away from the border. Kobane is said to be southeast of the city proper, and a runway there would need roughly north or northwest alignment because of the winds. So this must be miles southeast of Kobane. Planes taking off would not want to pass over the Turkish border during takeoff, so there's even more distance to the south they would need to build the airport.

Kobane never had an airport. This one is being called dual-use in Bas News. Kind of curious because Syria builds and owns Syrian airports and apparently isn't involved in this one. The Rojava Kurds don't have anything besides the most rudimentary of local governments and there is no state budget. The PYD is a political party, not an elected government. I wonder who, exactly, is funding the Kobane dual-use airport? I would think this is a CIA project, not a DoD/CENTCOM one. The CIA has to get it's claws in the PYD and Rojava just like they did with Barzani and the KDP. It's unclear if they've had much success until now, but I would expect them to redouble their efforts. That's going to take a lot of bribe money, so they probably need the airport just for the pallets of U.S. $100 bills for corrupt PYD officials. I'm not against the Rojava's desire for independence or the PYD, I just hate to see either one infected with any flavor of U.S. psychopathy, and the CIA serves up ALL flavors. It would also be nice to see Kobani get an airport, but the U.S. never gives anything to anyone without strings attached.

Interesting verbiage in the Bas (and subsequent Reuters) stories. I see they've taken to calling Rmeilan an 'oil town'. It's nothing of the sort - it's a little village fairly far outside the Rmeilan oil field and actually miles away from the airstrip. Which is all the more reason that Bas associating it NOW with and 'oil town' strikes me as odd. Isn't that kind of an inconvenient fact that calls to question U.S. motives? Maybe not...

Bas and Reuters are quick to point out that their unnamed source was someone from the SDF. NOT the PYD, even though it probably WAS - I can't imagine a lot of Arabs in the SDF chat it up with Iranian KDP Kurds or their Bas News propaganda rag. The U.S. is obviously still concerned with Turkey's perception, and still using the same lame veneer of 'SDF' to make it all better for Erdogan. They Turks really can't be that stupid, so I'm kind of wondering if the deception is meant for stupid Western audiences?

The bigger question though is why would the KDP want to feed this story to the Western press AT ALL? The Rojava have been pretty tight-lipped about Rmeilan with the usual stream of denials, occasionally punctuated with an admission after enough people report some fact or activity about the base. The DoD/CENTCOM doesn't like talking about it. Now the Iraqi Kurds are reporting on gossip about a Kobani dual-use airport? It just seems too odd to take it at face value. I can't figure out what their angle is here.

I suppose if the CIA wanted an airport there and was intent on building one, then they would have to cough up some reasonably-palatable story for who was building it and why. Heavens knows the Rojava don't have the money or materials to build one - they just got electricity and water back a few weeks ago and the town is still in ruins. Never mind that it may soon be overrun by Turkish armor if Erdogan flips out.

Maybe a mass repatriation airbase for all the Syrians they kick out of Europe (or at least Greece)? A giant U.N. relief airbase when Turkey kicks four million or so Syrians out of Turkish refugee camps back into Syria? Mass arms and armor shipment for the U.S.-instigated 'Kurdish spring'? It could be anything with Team Chaos.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 7 2016 9:46 utc | 27


I commend you for the time consuming researched. We seem to disagrees here and previous encounters.

Gimme time for my rebuttal but will not cover every points mentioned.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Mar 7 2016 10:13 utc | 28

After the Ghouta Gas Attack

During the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Syria on September 3, Secretary of State John Kerry and Senator John McCain both cited a Wall Street Journal editorial by Elizabeth O'Bagy to support their assessment of the Syrian rebels as predominately "moderate," and potentially Western-friendly.

This led to a twitter war with participation of Vijay Prashad ...

Murdoch's Wall Street Journal Strikes Again!

Do we need more Syrian Rebels propaganda pieces from Murdoch's press?? What a bs.

Posted by: Oui | Mar 7 2016 10:55 utc | 29

Emil Pulsifer says:

Put it all together, and Russia's sole "aircraft carrier" ( really an aviation cruiser) sounds more like a stage prop than a military asset

aren't they all? Russia's 'sole' aircraft carrier adds up to one floating death wish. aside from launching airborne raids on people who have no airforce or missile defense system, or staging 'victory' speeches for the rubes back home, these boondoggles are obsolete.

Posted by: john | Mar 7 2016 11:01 utc | 30

I hope most people are mature enough and smart enough to recognise that the fact the assholes running the amerikan empire, turkey and sadi Arabia are bad bastards doesn't automatically mean that the assad government are all jolly good chaps.
If other countries had managed to stay out of the picture and let Syrians get on with it there was nothing wrong, per se, with Syrians deciding that the Assad Ba'athist structure had become stale and corrupt and it was time for them to move on.
If ksa and qatar and turkey had minded their own business it would have been highly unlikely that the head choppers and misogynists would have got a look in Syria - sure they would have found a few fucked up local individuals who might have tried to set the controls for the 12th century, but they wouldn't have got far.

Yep it suits many of us who favour a multipolar world ahead of unipolar hegemony if the proposed pipeline is not built, but imo anyone outside Syria who interferes in Syria to prevent Syrians from selecting a government that may go ahead with the pipeline, because they don't want the pipeline built is no better than the assholes who did interfere to ensure the pipeline is built.

And that will be a real problem for Syria & Syrians quite soon. I cannot conceive of any political movement anywhere that would be tolerable after 25 years of having their snouts in the trough.
Even if the government were ostensibly honest, and lets face it honesty and politicians have never endured side by side over an extended period, there would still be all manner of deals done and promises made by the honest pols' that would preclude the ruling political structure from acting in the best interests of a nation or its people.

I won't be screeching for Assad to move on, but neither will I be cheering when the bent bastards hang on to their comfortable little sinecures.

Posted by: Debs is dead | Mar 7 2016 11:30 utc | 31


Thanks for the rubdown on the US/Kurd action. I think that as long as the states at risk in the region keep the kurds at arms length they are leaving the door wide open for the US to exploit not only the Kurds but themselves. Syria, Iraq, and Iran need to come together with the Kurds and deal with their common problems, or the US is going to pick them all off, one at a time. It seems like Russia ought to be able to explain that to them, now that they're all 'resting' during the 'cessation'.


Thanks for the rundown on Tariq Ali. He was young man of great promise at one time, apparently. Now he seems to be just another 'pundit'.

Posted by: jfl | Mar 7 2016 11:46 utc | 32

assad government are all jolly good chaps

Posted by: brian | Mar 7 2016 11:47 utc | 33

Posted by: Debs is dead | Mar 7, 2016 6:30:31 AM | 30

if he was sunni, hed be tempted to go to Syria to 'fight the tyrant Assad'

Posted by: brian | Mar 7 2016 11:47 utc | 34

'with Syrians deciding that the Assad Ba'athist structure had become stale and corrupt and it was time for them to move on.;

was it? or was the objetion to the one party and Emergency laws?

the irony is its ending came at the same time as the insurgency!

Posted by: brian | Mar 7 2016 11:50 utc | 35

'If ksa and qatar and turkey had minded their own business it would have been highly unlikely that the head choppers and misogynists would have got a look in Syria - sure they would have found a few fucked up local individuals who might have tried to set the controls for the 12th century, but they wouldn't have got far.'

well FSA had its cannibal

infact USa UK israel sauds etc were in on the war on syria from the beginning



Posted by: brian | Mar 7 2016 11:54 utc | 36

I cannot conceive of any political movement anywhere that would be tolerable after 25 years of having their snouts in the trough.


Posted by: papa | Mar 7 2016 12:31 utc | 37

Tariq Ali in q

Posted by: harry law | Mar 7 2016 12:58 utc | 38

Gimme time for my rebuttal but will not cover every points mentioned.
Posted by: Jack Smith | Mar 7, 2016 5:13:39 AM | 27

Rebuttal? I can hardly wait!
If you're too busy to cover every point, make sure you start with the petition.
I'd love to hear someone's excuse for the lies and drivel in, and the omissions from, that trope.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 7 2016 13:20 utc | 39

The Syrian opposition, about to be dumped by Turkey, has never been in a weaker position. They had no choice than to accept to participate in the peace negotiations without any conditions. To hide their defeat,their sponsor Saudi Arabia keep repeating a mantra no one believes anymore, that Bashar al Assad must go.

Posted by: Virgile | Mar 7 2016 13:34 utc | 40

Something for Jack Smith to get his teeth into while preparing his forthcoming rebuttal.
In Syria Petition, an Odd "Left" Abandoned Concrete Analysis...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 7 2016 14:08 utc | 41

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 7, 2016 8:20:27 AM | 38

Gimmie time and I an't an apologist, dun expect too much from me. :-)

Posted by: Jack Smith | Mar 7 2016 14:11 utc | 42

Posted by: Virgile | Mar 7, 2016 8:34:42 AM | 39

Should we or anyone beside the Turks have any right to decides the fate of Recep Tayyip Erdogan even what did recently? Anyone can prove Dr, Bashar al Assad or even Putin is corrupts and evils. I will not accept any evidence from MSM or any so call western democracy. They all lied repeatedly... Including Obomo.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Mar 7 2016 14:13 utc | 43

Syria could be a prosperous democratic oasis under gentle and generous sponsorship of Turkey and Gulf states. Turkey reminds me a Soviet tract that I once perused in my youth: "Workers of USSR have most rights in the whole world, in fact, every year they get several new rights". Turkey is beset with the spirit of novelty: preparing new Constitution, new management in media companies (and other companies too) under gentle tutelage of the judiciary, a number of cities are getting refurbished (they are being demolished first, but the government promises that this is but a step toward the shining future) and so on.

Ever prone to sacrifice, Erdogan offer his sevices as a midwife of democratic Syria. A vision of a new-born democracy getting its first spank in his gentle hands deserves an oil paining of size appropriate to adorn a wall in Ak Saray. But Turkey is a country of somewhat limited means (plus, some parts of the budget have to be reserved for refurbishing the cities currently under demolition orders), so the project needs money from elsewhere, mostly the Gulf where the rulers, with much foresight, stashed considerable funds during the period of expensive oil. Like nutrients delivered through placenta, the future new born democracy gets necessary weaponry through Turkey and Jordan, but they are paid by the benevolent monarchs. The shining future of Syrian democracy can be glimpsed in the capital of liberated part of Yemen. You see, the monarchs of the Peninsula have not one but TWO projects of bringing democracy to life, Syria and Yemen. Since in Yemen they have very much a free hand, we can see how the liberated parts are thriving.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 7 2016 14:16 utc | 44

Paveway IV @26

Shortly after the start of the ceasefire, the speaker at one of the Russian daily briefings mentioned a future federal Syrian state. This would give Syrian Kurds (amongst other substantial ethnic groups) a degree of autonomy. It would also fit in with the other statement agreed by US and Russia in the document defining terms of the ceasefire that the terrotorial integrity of Syria is sacrosanct. The Syrian Kurds would be better off aligning with Syria/Russia than being used by the US for US interests which can turn 180 within a day. Such an alignment would also minimise the problem of being used as a punching bag for Turdogan's ambitions - namely part of a large entity with a battle-hardened military verus a small entity with adversaries on both sides.

Posted by: Yonatan | Mar 7 2016 14:37 utc | 45

HW @ 40: Thanks for that link, guess it would be too much to hope the signers of that BS, had an epiphany, and finally understand the reality, that the Syrian "revolution" was a pretense, to send in their mercenaries, to further the Empire's greed by regime change.

I didn't think Prishad was that gullible.

Posted by: ben | Mar 7 2016 14:49 utc | 46

brian @25; Hoarsewhisperer @40; ben @45

Don't forget Malooga's famous rant at MoA: "The Feckless Left". It's a must-read (note: available on side-bar).

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Mar 7 2016 15:56 utc | 47

Yountan@44 - "...The Syrian Kurds would be better off aligning with Syria/Russia than being used by the US for US interests which can turn 180 within a day...

That makes perfect sense to a lot of people looking in from the outside. In the case of Syrian Kurds, it may be a case of beggars can't be choosers. In fact, we know the Rojava were desperate for arms for years - nobody was willing to supply them. Anything bigger than a rifle is probably something looted from ISIS, including the HiLux technicals. It seemed Russia was providing arms in the background - I recall a lot of the sniper rifles and scopes being Russian models. Maybe that was just an artifact of former Soviet states' stocks used to supply them (from whatever backer) rather than something Russia supplied directly to them. Both Russia and the U.S. still seem unwilling to supply them much of anything. The U.S. position I understand (re: Turkey) but I'm amazed that Russia isn't more aggressive. Maybe they are and we're just not hearing about it.

Not that I care to have kill toys doled out like candy, but for the last four years anybody showing up with a few semi-trailers full of Metis/Kornets or TOWs would have been the Kurds' best friends for life. TOWs are about a quarter of a million apiece, Metis maybe $50K and Kornet around $85k - all estimates based on recent deals. One of the reasons Erdogan may be so eager to roll his tanks across the border lately is because the Kurds (and the SAA for that matter) are pretty much defenseless against them for now. All the more reason I would think Putin would be eager to arm the Kurds.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Mar 7 2016 16:09 utc | 48

Re: Paveway @47

I think that without arms like high caliber machine guns (called anti-aircraft but rarely used against aircrafts) and at least mortars and self-propelled grenades Kurds of Rojava would stand no chance against ISIS, so they were surely supplied with something "bigger than a rifle". It would be more precise to say that nobody wanted to be on the record supplying them apart from few occasions.

Afrin Kurds and allies went on an offensive immediately after the SAA enclave on their border became part of the contiguous SAA controlled territory, so they surely got a dollop of weapons at that time, and there had to be some secret agreement on conditions on that.

One reason Erdogan is so reluctant to "roll his tanks across the border" (he could do it for years if he is truly chomping at the bit) is that (a) Kurds have anti-tank weapons and they would get much more (b) with border erased and Kurds having missile weapons to use against Turkish targets, a hell could get loose in Turkish Kurdistan. A few dozen missile armed and cave dwelling guerillas can close a mountain road to all traffic, including military. Repeat it in a hundred spots and South-East Turkey would become militarily similar to the jungles of South Vietnam.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 7 2016 16:47 utc | 49

Karlof1 @ 10, We all share your desire for the end of the NWO. But the oligarchs are purposely taking down Europe & the US economically. For decades and still continuing they are building up China w our jobs, vast investment, technology transfers and the founding of Chinese R & D companies. Why would they do that unless they are confident that China is onboard w the NWO? We are going to have to save ourselves.
Here's news, though the headline's rather overstated.
Yonatan @ 44, Yes, I caught the Russian statement about the desirability of Syrian Federation-- sounds to me more like on the way to dissolution. I'm chary of the notion that individuals need separate enclaves to secure their rights. At that rate, you'd divide all the nations into little helpless pocket handkerchiefs. The Syrian Kurds are there because Syria took them in when Turkey ran them off. "Thanks, so now we'll just take the land you let us reside on-- and the Syrian people's oil on it, too."

Posted by: Penelope | Mar 7 2016 16:49 utc | 50

@brian - thanks for going to task and sharing a different position on jack smiths presentation..

@26 paveway... thanks.. i agree with your suspicions and general conclusions on all that..

@30 deds is dead... last sentence - ditto that..

@42 jack smith... i don't see the west bombing the usa, forcing refugees into other countries, and demanding regime change also in the usa.. your comments don't add up here.. if the usa wasn't such a murderous regime, i might be persuaded to see it differently..

Posted by: james | Mar 7 2016 17:26 utc | 51

We see a defining characteristic of hybrid warfare where various military actions are run parallel to so-called ‘political solutions and negotiations’, and these, as well as false reporting and propaganda, take the place of military strength / aggro. Some conflicts become a stand-off, a stalemate, and a waiting game, typical ex. is Ukraine. Minsk II, which Kiev will not, cannot implement, it waits feebly somehow for some 'victory.' Ostensibly, according to some, the ‘agreement’ was to allow Kiev forces to recoup, but everyone must have understood that was illusory after several (2-4 depending on count) resounding defeats. The conflicts are dialed down but simmer below the surface (murderous nonetheless) unacknowldeged, or regularly minimized, by the warring parties.

Syria, similar. Putin must have found it arduous to push for ‘cessation of hostilities.’ Some of his advisors will have told him never to trust the US (which he knows), etc. This attitude requires confidence in ‘diplomacy’, aka arm-twisting without ‘wasting’ military resources.

Syria - a strange situation: the two most powerful ‘outside’ warring factions: US, Russia - the others are all satellites, hangers on, beholden, coerced and manipulated, while holding a plentiful full hand of nuisance cards - have signed a deal to ‘pause hostilities.’ Because one side, the USA, is not willing to escalate, as it cannot win without tremendous losses and relinquising its pretense at super- or uni- power status.

The Ghouta “chem attacks” (even if they happened, a very minor incident …) were a sign. Officially, Obama made a deal to have Assad’s chem weapons destroyed / removed, *proposed by Russia* and thereafter shunted to the UN. Of course the deal meant nothing on the ground - it was just a face-saving move to allow Obama some kind of excuse for not invading Syria.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 7 2016 17:29 utc | 52

re Noirette

We see a defining characteristic of hybrid warfare where various military actions are run parallel to so-called ‘political solutions and negotiations’, and these, as well as false reporting and propaganda, take the place of military strength / aggro.
That kind of warfare is nothing new in world history. Fighting sometimes, and dickering with the enemy sometimes, has a long history. Indeed it is a standard way of fighting. All part of getting what you want without losing too much. It just didn't happen in 20th century Western wars.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 7 2016 18:28 utc | 53

So it would seem the Rojava have tilted towards the 4+1. Excellent development. They took US bait (weapons) but not the line and sinker..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 7 2016 18:46 utc | 54

5) The joint act to defeat all kind of terrorism inc. #Isil in the geography of #ME. (3)

They are talking here about PKK in Turkey and Iran only. They are conflicted on all other "terrorists"

The only interesting point is:
3) The unity of #Syria

while they did not say Syrian territorial integrity which Iran repeated many times before in other communiques.

Both sides are looking at themselves with sectarian eyes and hence it is just a political play to make Saudis suspicious.

ME is a political rhizome of alliances and enemies "du jour" and masters of diplomatic deception.

More on recent Syrian developments can be found here:

Posted by: Kalen | Mar 7 2016 19:23 utc | 55

re Lozion 54

Don't entertain illusions. The Rojava Kurds deal with everyone, because they have to, in order to survive. Taking sides would be fatal for them.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 7 2016 19:30 utc | 56

@56 understood but as long as Syria's territorial integrity is maintained and US partition schemes are co-opted, they can do whatever the hell they want..

Any status update on the Sootoro?

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 7 2016 19:42 utc | 57

re 55

It seems that the point of the Syrian cease-fire may be to let Syrians experience peace for a bit, and appreciate that endless war is pointless. The idea being to encourage non-extreme rebels to give up. Might work.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 7 2016 19:45 utc | 58

re 57

understood but as long as Syria's territorial integrity is maintained and US partition schemes are co-opted, they can do whatever the hell they want..
I don't think that's true. The Rojava Kurds have a limited future, because they are constricted in a narrow band of agricultural land on the Turkish border. Independence is impossible. They will have to make a deal with the power in Damascus. At the moment, it seems less and less likely that that power will be Islamist (Da'ish or Nusra). More likely that there will be a federalised state, with Asad in Damascus, the Druze autonomous in the south, and the Rojava Kurds autonomous in the north. In this context, the Assyrian Christians (Sootoro) will have their place.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 7 2016 20:20 utc | 59

@59 Then we are in agreement, sorry if my position was unclear..

Posted by: Lozion | Mar 7 2016 20:30 utc | 60

By the way, federalisation is already taking place in Iraq, as I discovered from the Deputy Governor of Salah al-Din, whom I met last summer. Large government budgets are being devolved to the provinces. I can imagine Syria following the same model.

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 7 2016 20:31 utc | 61

'Tough talk' in Brussels ... plenty of arm-twisting by Turkey to force a better [financial] deal and entrance for Turks to Europe. Don't mind the human-rights abuse of the AKP and Erdogan! ...

EU to lift visa regime by June, double financial aid to Turkey: Draft agreement

Posted by: Oui | Mar 7 2016 20:43 utc | 62

Zoltan Kovacs @zoltanspox

PM #Orban has vetoed EU-Turkey plan to
relocate asylum seekers directly from Turkey

Posted by: Oui | Mar 7 2016 20:48 utc | 63

re OUI

I was trying to figure out where it is exactly that Turkey is currently demanding entry to the EU. The MSM is delivering a lot of rubbish. I thought that Turkey is no longer interested. That would be logical for Erdogan. Do you have an idea from your archives?

Posted by: Laguerre | Mar 7 2016 21:00 utc | 64

pen 50

apparently u've never heard of .....

the destabilisations campaign from tam, to hk ?

the *made in usa* terrorism in tibet, xinjiang etc ?

the terrorism in afpak , myanmar, etc to sabotage chinese investments ?

africom's bs wot in africa to drive out chinese companies ?

the *asia pivot* to fan proxy wars against china ?
the extensive demonisation prg to smear china as *human rights abuser*,*super hackers*, ....

the *disappearance * of mh370 to incite enimity bet china/malaysia ?

etc etc..............

anyone of the above trumps your *evidence* hands down !

Posted by: denk | Mar 8 2016 1:26 utc | 65


A slow proces where Cyprus and France had blocked negotiations and PM Erdogan turned away from Europe.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Turkey-EU Relations

    In January 2013, Prime Minister Erdogan caused irritation in European capitals when he stated that Turkey can imagine replacing its EU candidacy with membership in the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a multilateral forum including, among others, China and Russia. Partial integration into the EU, however, would keep the country within genuine EU structures. The institutional ties would even be reinforced as the level of association would be as dense as never before. A structural rift between the two parties could be forestalled.

    Third, a dynamic membership appears to be the only option acceptable for Ankara. Turkey still rejects any kind of institutional association that does not include full membership status. As a mutual agreement can only be reached on the basis of consensus, Brussels must offer more than just “everything but institutions” as it does with the countries of its neighborhood policy. Indeed, Turkey would be subject to a newly arranged enlargement procedure, which might lead to suspicions of a second-class membership. However, it must be clear that “take it or leave it” accession rounds, like the one from 2004, are definitively over.

    Ten years later the setting and the frame conditions for European politics completely changed, be it with regard to the financial crisis, questions of democratic legitimacy, or the serious foreign policy challenges in the EU’s neighborhood. The enlargement procedure, too, must adapt to those realities of the EU in the twenty-first century. However, a full-fledged membership still remains the final goal of the process. The dynamic integration therefore appears to be the only viable option that can serve the priorities and needs of both sides.

    [Source: EU membership for Turkey: Endless Negotiations? |AICGS – John Hopkins |]

Posted by: Oui | Mar 8 2016 1:32 utc | 66

A Moment of Opportunity in the EU-Turkey Relationship | CFR |

1 Turkish Ministry for EU Affairs, “Turkey’s New European Union Strategy,” September 2014 [pdf].

Posted by: Oui | Mar 8 2016 1:33 utc | 67

2 European Commission, “Turkey Progress Report,” October 8, 2014 [pdf].

3 European Commission, “Report on Progress by Turkey in Fulfilling the Requirements of Its Visa Liberalisation Roadmap,” October 20, 2014 [pdf].

Posted by: Oui | Mar 8 2016 1:33 utc | 68

Erdogan, ever creative, just now requested few extra conditions from EU, doubling the three billion support, accepting deportation of Syrian refugees to Turkey ONLY after accepting a refugee from Turkey, fast track for EU membership etc. Somehow we stopped short from a demand that Europe apologizes for being so unpleasant to Turks when they approached Vienna in late 17-th century.

My guess is that he will not get any of that, and to top it off, Merkel is seriously loosing face and Germans may get rid of her.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 8 2016 3:39 utc | 69

Actually, according to Politico, the cheeky demands of Erdogan made quite a few government heads quite testy and picking about his habit of converting free press into pickles and other condiments. If he will persist at annoying behavior, we may learn officially about human right abuses in Turkish Kurdistan and elsewhere.

For that matter, a number of reports appeared in the "official press" about the dire situation in Yemen, for some reasons KSA is annoying some important people too. For example, in Boston Globe which is owned by New York Times.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Mar 8 2016 3:51 utc | 70

pretty good article - How Russia Is Bringing Peace to Syria

Posted by: james | Mar 9 2016 4:55 utc | 71

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