Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
September 10, 2016

Syria - How Long Will The New Cessation of Hostilities Hold?

Tonight Russia and the U.S. agreed to some new Cessation of Hostilities (CoH) in Syria.

The general negative points:

  • This CoH, like the first one in February, comes at a moment where the Syrian government forces have an advantage in the field and are on the verge of renewed offensives.
  • It gives the opposition the time to reorganize and rearm.
  • It severely restricts Syrian sovereignty.

The general positive points:

  • The Syrian government lacks the capacity for a fully military solution of the conflict. The agreement is a possible path to a political solution.
  • It gives the government time to rebuild its army and to issue and train on new equipment.
  • It has enough flexibility to allow for local escalation when and where needed.

On the agreement itself.

  • The Syrian government has, according to the Russians, agreed to it.
  • The parties agreed to keep many details secret to prevent other actors from spoiling it.
  • The agreement will start on sundown of September 12

The timeline, as far as announced or known:

  • A general CoH for with a trial period of 48 hours.
  • If the CoH holds during the trial period it will be prolonged to one week.
  • After one week successfully passed, the U.S. and Russia will start common action against al-Qaeda in Syria.

Some Details as AP describes them (there is some doubt that this is 100% correct):

The military deal would go into effect after both sides abide by the truce for a week and allow unimpeded humanitarian deliveries. Then, the U.S. and Russia would begin intelligence sharing and targeting coordination, while Assad's air and ground forces would no longer be permitted to target Nusra any longer; they would be restricted to operations against the Islamic State.

The arrangement would ultimately aim to step up and concentrate the firepower of two of the world's most powerful militaries against Islamic State and Nusra, listed by the United Nations as terrorist groups.

The agreement excludes the area in south-west Aleppo where the recent attempt by al-Nusra and others to lift the siege on east-Aleppo failed. The Castello road in north-west Aleppo will be demilitarized to carry aid. (It is yet unknown who will supervise and enforce this by what means.)

It looks as if there has been unseemly resistance to this agreement by parts of the U.S. government. This may have been just for show. But it may also be a sign that Obama lost control of the bureaucracy:

The proposed level of U.S.-Russian interaction has upset several leading national security officials in Washington, including Defense Secretary Ash Carter and National Intelligence Director James Clapper, and Kerry only appeared at the news conference after several hours of internal U.S. discussions.

After the Geneva announcement, Pentagon secretary Peter Cook offered a guarded endorsement of the arrangement and cautioned, "We will be watching closely the implementation of this understanding in the days ahead."

If this deal falls apart, as it is likely to eventually do, all responsibility will be put onto Secretary of State Kerry. Indeed the military and intelligence parts of the U.S. government may well work to sabotage the deal while Kerry will be presented as convenient scapegoat whenever it fails.

This new CoH is unlikely to hold for more than a few weeks:

  • Too much is left undefined. This allows any party to claim the other side broke it whenever convenient.
  • The powers who agreed on the deal do not have control over main elements on the ground.
  • There are too many parties, inside and outside of Syria, who have an interest in spoiling the CoH.


Posted by b on September 10, 2016 at 3:02 UTC | Permalink

next page »

A never ending story..

Posted by: Lozion | Sep 10 2016 3:22 utc | 1

Every time I try to broach the subject in other forums I get shouted at for being a defeatist and so on, but the SAA truly needs to be put back together again, like humpty dumpty. It's fragmented. Some of the fragments are very effective, e see the Tiger forces and swerving around to the most important area. winning, and then watch as regular army/ndf can't ever seem to hold a position or take initiative.

Meanwhile, a gppd part of the jihadists seem to be very well trained and make the absolute most out of their offensives. In Aleppo, their MANPADs helped a ton, but the SAA really did not seem up for the fight. The SAA is tactically retreating to make the best use of its air cover, and avoid unnecessary casualties, but not all of these retreats are so wise and tactical, lots seem to happen in a panic much equipment left abandoned.

That's the question R+6 have to answer. Who will fight for a united Syria. Russia seems to be exhausting everything possible before committing on the ground again. Iran needs to make fewer excuses, and the Syrians who are fighting need to be turned back into something resembling a military that can capture territory and hold it against tepid resistance. If there are more Shia abroad willing to fight to stop the extermination of Syrians, that would be great.

Posted by: Cresty | Sep 10 2016 3:42 utc | 2

Apologies, forgot to add, if the US is even a little serious about targeting Nusra, it should be an absolute slaughter. They should know all the commanders names and whereabouts by whatever tracking they've done with their tows and NVGs etc. If both parties started bombing Nusra with some decent support on the ground, they could be smashed. Hard to trust anything the US says, though.

Posted by: Cresty | Sep 10 2016 3:45 utc | 3

Lol @ ceasefire

Didnt Nusra recently name itself something else ? Like b said too much has been left out for each sides own "interpretation"

I really hope its legit but me thinks this will drag on for a while. Until serious sanctions are put on the GCC, Israel and Turkey this stupid war will drag on.

Until oil runs out in the ME war will rave on. Dont get too excited guys, these suits do not care, Russian or American

Posted by: Deebo | Sep 10 2016 3:56 utc | 4

Excellent analysis b and agree with all except this: "the agreement is a possible path to a political solution." As a native Syrian, I really cannot envision a political solution. Maybe I'm wrong, but one party must win for this to end. If I have to place a bet, I would go for the SAA, but it will be a bloody while before that happens.

Posted by: MikeA | Sep 10 2016 4:00 utc | 5

So Turkish invasion.... Like it never happened ?

There has been a recent media onslaught of;
propaganda re Aleppo.
"Aid-agencies" withdrawing ( or threatening to ) from Syria, because of they say aid is helping Assad
Lies of Assad chemical attacks.

This was all a build up to demonise Assad, and lionise terrorists. All at the behest of the evil US empire, who Russia just cut a BS agreement with.

Posted by: tom | Sep 10 2016 4:12 utc | 6

@5 Mike

I agree more and more with your appraisal. The folks who signed this agreement - the US and Russia, I guess Russia sent Syria a memo after the signing - have less and less control over the forces on the ground with each passing day. I suppose that's who this agreement is somehow aimed at? I just don't see it happening.

Arm up, start again. These agreements might actually be prolonging this monstrous war, begun by outsiders and maintained by outsiders, at Syria's and the Syrian people's expense. My heart goes out to the Syrian people ... and to the Iraqi, Libyan, Yemeni, Ukrainian, and Afghan peoples as well. All victims of the US' neo-con century. May it finally come to an end.

Posted by: jfl | Sep 10 2016 4:12 utc | 7

@7 Amen.

Posted by: Lozion | Sep 10 2016 4:48 utc | 8

I'm pretty shocked. If USA starts to target Hezbollah and SAA forces for some humanitarian BS, then what the hell will Russia do about it?

I said it before and I'll say it again - RIP Syria. Neoliberal Putin possibly bargained it away, but I guess Russia and China will at least get Naval bases out of it

Posted by: bbbb | Sep 10 2016 5:46 utc | 9

thanks b...

@2 cresty.. i agree with you overall.. r+6 are fighting for syria, it just isn't the 'all in' approach that westerners are used to.. if - a big if - the usa+ allies want to keep it going with their 'moderates' and never being able to separate, or tell the difference between their 'moderates' and 'terrorists' as they love to snuggle up with one another all the time - this game can go on a long time.. no shortage of ammo and resources to pour onto it, and they clearly don't give a fuck about the syrian people. that has been obvious from day 1.. however many 100's of thousands of innocent syrians dead since approx 2011 make all the bullshit about 'assad is a monster' pale in comparison.. we know who the devil is and it ain't assad.. usa+gcc's with help from turkey/israel is more like it.. so - a temporary ceasefire - no one in the r+6 is under any illusion over what this means.. it is a long drawn out process that either results in ww3, or not..

@7 jfl.. i agree with everything you said.. thanks.. thanks mike for chiming in..

Posted by: james | Sep 10 2016 6:31 utc | 10

@tom | Sep 10, 2016 12:12:08 AM | 6

So Turkish invasion.... Like it never happened ?

There are so much crabs and not propaganda, dunno who to believe... and how about this.... "Erdogan Hid at Russian Base During Coup (Video).

Posted by: Jack Smith | Sep 10 2016 6:37 utc | 11

Hi folks, buy yourself lots of popcorn... this show will continue into next year and beyond. It won't surprise me The Saudi, Turkey, Israel will wants a cut in Syria. My heart goes the innocent’s Syrians caught in proxies battles

Seriously, we should focus in "peaceful" regime change in the USA?

Posted by: Jack Smith | Sep 10 2016 6:50 utc | 12

@12 Maybe a "peaceful" regime change in the USA is possible.

Possible only in the USA

Q: Why will there never be a coup d’état in Washington?

A: Because there’s no American embassy there.

Posted by: From The Hague | Sep 10 2016 7:29 utc | 13

Trying to be optimistic, it may be that deals between US and Russia have failed up to now because US has refused to separate out the rebels. Maybe this time Kerry has buckled and agreed to go after Al Nusra. Maybe Erdogan has agreed to turn off the supply taps to Al Nusra on the Idlib border as part of the deal to allow him to go into northern Syria. If this is true then SAA could clean up reasonably quickly - say 6 months - in the Aleppo area. There would come a time for Al Nusra and its friends that the cracks would begin to become catastrophic. If Al Nusra soldiers on the ground see US as joining Russia, they will see it as a betrayal, so expect some blowback on western interests before they collapse. It is hard to judge at the moment, but Aleppo remains the key.

Posted by: anitele'a | Sep 10 2016 7:35 utc | 14

Turkey and Free Syrian Army gained time to capture Al Bab and the eastern part of Aleppo province. In a few weeks they will be much closer to the Aleppo City.

Posted by: phenomenon | Sep 10 2016 8:13 utc | 15

yeah, right, as if anyone starting with Russia would allow Turkish army to go to Aleppo. You may lower your consumption of psychoactive substances...

Posted by: ratatat | Sep 10 2016 8:27 utc | 16

The U.S. NEVER deals in good faith. Putin must know this -- hopefully he's got a contingency plan in place for when (not if) America betrays him (yet again).

Posted by: rcentros | Sep 10 2016 8:48 utc | 17

Of course this is another ploy to prevent solution to the Syrian crisis until the next lunatic takes over the White House

Posted by: Steve | Sep 10 2016 9:45 utc | 18

This is not about defeating anybody on the ground but state actors reigning in their proxies.

In other news Russia and Saudi are exploring ways to raise the price of oil

Posted by: somebody | Sep 10 2016 10:12 utc | 19

it's been a busy summer:

- Manbij offensive begins, May 2016.
- Turkish coup, mid July 2016.
- SAA completes Aleppo siege ring, late July 2016.
- Rebels break Aleppo siege, early August 2016.
- Manbij captured, mid August 2016.
- Turkish invasion, late August 2016.
- Aleppo ceasefire, mid September 2016.
- ? late September 2016.

the FSA breaking the Aleppo siege from the South was suicide, because even if you succeed you have to hold it open against Russian air attacks and a counter-offensive from elite SAA units
so after they succeeded they pulled back their elite troops and sent them to lead the Turkish offensive, which is now heading towards Aleppo but this time from the North, with Turkish air cover
it cost them a lot, but it bought them vital time. time to get a Turkish offensive going

Turkey has wanted to invade Syria for years, with the explicit goal of removing Assad from power. then a few months ago they said they would move in to keep Aleppo from falling to the SAA. people said it was impossible because Russia wouldn't allow it
yet as we speak Turkey is inching closer to Aleppo, lead by the same troops that broke the Aleppo siege in August. this time to fight "ISIS" and "the YPG", and making a pinky swear they're not here to fight the SAA. right

the ceasefire gives the FSA more time to move on Aleppo, and to prepare a new offensive to break the siege. only this time Russia won't be able to bomb them in their rear lines, as this will be Turkish controlled territory, under Turkish air cover, and behind them American F-22's. it's why Erdogan is pushing to have the area declared a no-fly zone
the ceasefire also means that if the SAA breaks the agreement (for example when provoked by the FSA), it will legitimize an FSA(/Turkish) attack on Aleppo

if they're able to do that, they can hold Aleppo for years against the SAA offensive. they'll probably bring in ISIS fighters too for support, as rebranded FSA. long enough for the US elections to get over and Saudi Arabia to invade and finally get rid of Assad. they're having a practice war in Yemen as we speak, in attempt to get their unexperienced army into fighting shape

Posted by: Sanem | Sep 10 2016 10:39 utc | 20
Kerry said the "bedrock" of the new deal was an agreement that the Syrian government would not fly combat missions in an agreed area on the pretext of hunting fighters from the banned Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 10 2016 11:27 utc | 21
Syrian rebels cast doubt on U.S.-Russian deal, says Moscow will keep bombing

Syria's moderate Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels said on Saturday they saw little chance of the new U.S.-Russian peace deal succeeding because Damascus and Moscow would not abide by it.

Fares al-Bayoush, head of an FSA group called the Northern Division, said Russia and Damascus had not observed the last agreement, and the chances of the new deal succeeding were the same as the last one.

Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, military spokesman for the rebel Nour al-Din al Zinki Brigades, said the deal would only give the Syrian army an chance to gather forces and pour more Iranian-backed militias into the main battles raging in Aleppo.

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 10 2016 11:31 utc | 22
Kerry said the "bedrock" of the new deal was an agreement that the Syrian government would not fly combat missions in an agreed area on the pretext of hunting fighters from the banned Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria.

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 10, 2016 7:27:51 AM | 21

If true, you have to at least start to wonder why the Russians keep helping the Empire like this?

Captain Abdul Salam Abdul Razak, military spokesman for the rebel Nour al-Din al Zinki Brigades, said the deal would only give the Syrian army an chance to gather forces and pour more Iranian-backed militias into the main battles raging in Aleppo.

Posted by: okie farmer | Sep 10, 2016 7:31:52 AM | 22

well I sure hope it will, but going on past evidence these deals, when it comes to re-grouping and re-gathering and re-supplying etc, mostly seem to benefit the Empire's headchopper proxies.

Posted by: BadMax | Sep 10 2016 11:43 utc | 23

It seems to me that the nature of the agreement in which both al Nusra front and its new name Front for the Conquest of Syria along with ISIS are identified as being the two targets of the joint russia/amerika attacks, most likely stuck in the craw of the washington liberal interventionists because it either implicitly or explicitly recognises Prez Assad as being the legitimate leader of Syria.
Oblamblam doesn't have much to show for his nobel prize particularly since he had to agree to Gates then Panetta as secretary of defense, plus Mrs Evil aka Clinton II at state as part of the deal to get Clinton to back off in the 08 dem primary.
Now its payback time and as part of his legacy one that might he hopes overshadow his infamy as assassin in chief, he is gonna stymie Mrs Evil's chances of kicking off a big war by having the US back off on the insistance that 'Assad must go'.

Of course amerika will try and squirm outta the deal, initially very surreptitiously while Oblamblam is still prez, and later openly - if they can.

If the next 4 months show a substantial reduction in carnage and no one succeeds in a false flag showing Assad "kills his own people" or whatever the current excuse for waging war on a sovereign state is, Clinton II will be stuck with a bit of a fait accompli re Syria.
The people in Yemen and Libya need to be stocking up their emergency larders right now, because if Syria is pulled from the play the poor buggers in both those nations are gonna cop it big time from the evilest most needlessly cruel pol currently operating in the world today.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Sep 10 2016 12:06 utc | 24

And yeah that is a big ask for Libyans let alone Yemen's population since they are already being starved to death by the Saudis

Posted by: Debsisdead | Sep 10 2016 12:14 utc | 25

Cresty | Sep 9, 2016 11:42:10 PM | 2
You assume that Aleppo is the most important battlefield in Syria. To my mind it's just a distraction. The real battle field is around Danascus as the old saying "who controls Damacus, controls Syria. That battle is almost over with Darayya having been recaptured and Muadamiyat soon to be recaptured that just leaves East Ghouta which I doubt will remain outside government control for long. All the Syrian government needs to do at the moment is secure west Aleppo.
Two interesting recent points:
1. In Darayya, it was claimed there were 700 fighters and 4,000 civilians. When it was evacuated, it turned out there were only 1,700 civilians all of whom seem connected with the fighters. Before it's "liberation" by the rebels, it had a population of about 200,000. Does anybody think the West shed a single tear when they were made refugees, yet most of the western MSM showed great concern for the families and hangers on of the rebels.
2. Gary Johnson's gaffe revealed just how biased the MSM is they were concerned about what the Russians and Syrians might do to the rebel fighters and their camp followers but showed no sympathy for the hundreds of thousands of refugees created when the rebels first "liberated" east Aleppo.

Posted by: blowback | Sep 10 2016 13:04 utc | 26

Posted by: BadMax | Sep 10, 2016 7:43:10 AM | 23

well I sure hope it will, but going on past evidence these deals, when it comes to re-grouping and re-gathering and re-supplying etc, mostly seem to benefit the Empire's headchopper proxies.

Since the only external access to the rebel held areas to the south west of Aleppo abd Idlib is from Turkish territory, it will be interesting to see how much Erdogan has given away to the Russians in terms of re-supplyng the aforementioned headchoppers. Without more weapons, they can re-group as much as they like. As for re-gathering, they should perhaps be careful about that.

Posted by: blowback | Sep 10 2016 13:11 utc | 27

@Jack Smith | 11

Ha ha! That is a classic. Not sure what Nihat Dogan would have to say about it!
On a more serious note it explains one of the anomalies I have had with Erdogan's statements re. the coup - corroborated by his son-in-law - which is the time between his hotel apparently having been attacked in 'the afternoon' as he stated and yet nothing being reported or even happening until well into late evening ... Maybe we now have the answer! :-)

Posted by: AtaBrit | Sep 10 2016 13:17 utc | 28

Interesting to see Lavrov giving an pre-emptive slap down to the Saudi-backed HNC (High Negotiation Committee). A warning maybe, not to jeopardise this ceasefire?

Posted by: AtaBrit | Sep 10 2016 13:38 utc | 29

Rebel hell cannon chlorine gas attack in 3, 2, 1, by Wednesday or Thursday.

Posted by: Gravatomic | Sep 10 2016 13:44 utc | 30

@ somebody | 19
Very interesting article, thanks. Although the author seems unconvinced that Saudi will 'step up to the plate' this time, a recent Fisk article might convince otherwise:

Posted by: AtaBrit | Sep 10 2016 13:49 utc | 31

An alternate insight on Aleppo, TRNN Vijay Prashad explained the problems before the ceasefire announced between Kerry and Lavrov. It seems Russia and the headchoppers, Amerikka and Turkey changing tune "Assad must go" to a transition garment sharing power between Dr. Assad - more or less.

My opinions, it won’t work like Donbass and elsewhere, and all sides will use the ceasefire to redeploy troops, weapons and resupply to extend human suffering.

We must have a peaceful regime change here in the USA, drag Nobel Peace Prize laureate Obomo in chain to an independent people Court in an Arab country where the crimes committed, charge him and others for crimes far worst than Pot Pol or Hitler. So long we have duopoly in Washington or elsewhere there will be no peace.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Sep 10 2016 13:58 utc | 32

“How Long Will The New Cessation of Hostilities Hold?”

I will be generous. <<< 15 nano seconds.

Because the devil are in the details. It’s a secret.

Reuters reports [USA] western-backed rebels doubt the cease-fire/peace deal.

“U.S.-Russian Syria peace deal raises rebel doubts as fighting rages”

and, the details will not be released.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that despite continuing mistrust, the two sides had developed five documents that would enable coordination of the fight against terrorism and a revival of Syria's failed truce in an enhanced form.
Both sides agreed not to release the documents publicly.

~ ~ ~

((My 2 cents)).

178 days before Obama exits, this may just be a face-saver gift to the Americans from Russia.
..”as we have been urging….
Join us, to defeat the terrorists and we don’t mind if you hog all of the glory to bring an end to the Pentagon/CIA quagmire you created.” Oh and btw, we do not trust you! We ‘ll blow the whistle on you if there is any attempt to re-arm, re-supply your babies.”

Posted by: likklemore | Sep 10 2016 14:21 utc | 33

The "non-jihadi" rebels had been strutting their stuff for the cameras (or at least for interviews) and had said that they would not abide by or participate in any Russian/US agreement that did not start with the removal of Assad from power ... so this may be a line in the sand or a fish-or-cut-bait moment for them. Does this perhaps suggest that they think the Turkish incursion like a new American president & Co will provide them an opening.

I don't think they can tough out 3-5 months ... but god knows what American "advisers" have been telling them, whispering in their ears. Now that their "rebel held territories" are being lost, their "cone of silence" is also broken.

That announcement that "some" (sounded like large # of small) NGOs would refuse to work with the UN, seeing the UN as pro-Assad may have awakened some groups to just who they were and had been dealing with. I know my limited sympathy for the "rebels" faded when I realized they were willing to let their fellow citizens actually starve when they were selling commandeered humanitarian aid for inflated prices.

I think this threat to UN aid distribution networks could precipitate (in theory or in threat) another mass run for the borders as has been seen when imminent cuts to food/voucher programs were announced (oddly enough, not really, about this time of year in 20014 and 2015)
Apparently there's also a new UN administrator listening to all comers.
As noted, Damascus has the sovereign government "usual" administrative role and many Syrian charities etc. are closely tied to the Assad family network of influence (I'm guessing none of these are refusing to work with the UN).
The NYT article makes it clear this stepped process has loopholes and secret clauses galore (kept secret to avoid their being subverted)
We are also (ha!) -- once again -- promising to make "our rebel" separate themselves from Al-Qa’eda. In other worlds, there's a lot of re-packed past failed provisions.
I think the "rebels" are weaker than the American press will show us. Will KSA/GCC spit on this proposal and provide "the non jihadi rebels" sufficient aid to keep them alive, particularly as ISIS fades? Will they refuse to budge and face stronger congressional opposition to arms sales for Yemen?
wp: Flow of foreign fighters plummets as Islamic State loses its edge.

I'm still wondering what 11-dimensional game Erdogan is playing with whom. If UN aid distribution is interrupted, and a mass exodus of internally displaced is "created" ... with the current "border configuration", where does this put Erdogan?

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 10 2016 16:04 utc | 34

Syria's fight is also Russia's fight and Iran's fight. It is a fight that is very much of concern to anyone on the planet who doesn't want to see a human future under the boot heel of the Hegemon.

Yet, throughout this war, Russia and Iran have dithered to the point where it has really looked as though they WANTED to see Syria eaten alive by the Hegemon and its many packs of proxies. This current 'peace' agreement seems to confirm that. The Syrian government is to be hamstrung, trussed up and tossed into a corner. Russia and the US will in essence occupy Syria together, carving out zones of influence no doubt.

Russia has 'earned' a nice piece of the action - that is what this treaty seems to say. That seems to have been what Putin wanted all along.

I think that in the end, Russia will discover that the Hegemon doesn't like being forced to give up a piece of the action. I think that Russia and Putin will be brought to their knees in their turn. The respect that Putin was held in domestically and globally had much to do, I think, with what seemed his courageous willingness to not only articulate important principles, but also to stand up for them. I think that support will soon start to bleed away. He will find out that it does matter.

Posted by: paul | Sep 10 2016 16:12 utc | 35

Putin or Russia's future leadership will at some point need to find a spine that enables them to say no to the US and defend their legit interests or there will be no Russia. Playing the PR spin game made sense before but Putin and co have gone too far.

This agreement is disgusting.

The US will simply use it to reinforce and prep for another attack on Aleppo and they'll wait until Hillary (neocon nutjob) is in office with her more "vigorous" foreign policy. Putin keeps selling out the SAA, Iranians, and Hezbollah and i for one would start about the Russian leadership's competence and intelligence.

Yeah maybe they gave Kerry a face saving gesture that they know will result in a failed cease fire but they Americans, Saudis, Turks, Israelis must learn that there are consequences to their violent actions or such actions will continue indefinitely. This is especially true of the US and Saudi because they have the money (and saudi has the manpower with its madras everywhere) to keep this going forever.

Posted by: Alaric | Sep 10 2016 16:17 utc | 36

One more thing: if the SAA is told not no shell opposition area, is the same condition imposed on the so-called opposition, not to attack the government position?

Posted by: Steve | Sep 10 2016 16:51 utc | 37

The Hegemon will fall regardless, done in by its own hubris. It's already hollowed out to the point where it keeps going mostly on rhetoric and empty threats. Its newest weaponry (F-35, Littoral Combat Ship) is a complete joke, unusable in combat. It's technological superiority is thing of the past. Domestic instability is rising. Non-Hispanic whites - the bone marrow of the Empire - are dying out. National finances are a ticking time bomb.
The passage of time will reduce the West's preeminent status more surely than any efforts of its adversaries. Nothing is eternal.
Russians don't have to undertake any frontal attacks on it. In fact, they are not at all interested in the demise or even significant weakening of the USA, which would leave China as the new - and not necessarily better - Hegemon. What they really want is for America and China to balance each other out, with Russia itself serving as a crucial swing player.
Unless people learn to look at Syria from Russia's POV, they'll never understand what Putin is doing. For the sake of brevity, suffice it to say that there is no ideological or sentimental component (for which almost all commenters on this blog are so fervently yearning, and by absence of which they are so deeply frustrated) to Russian actions at all. Moscow is guided solely by the most pragmatic interpretation of own national interest and everything it does is subject to rigorous risk/benefit calculations.

Posted by: telescope | Sep 10 2016 16:52 utc | 38

As I commented on the latest Open Thread, the likelihood of this actually being implemented is extremely small thanks to the massive levels of--very well deserved--distrust between the two blocs. I mean, how do you arrive at such an agreement when none of the terrorist groups were included in the negotiations--hasn't it been well proven that the Outlaw US Empire is incapable of controlling its terrorist proxies! Well, watch and see are all most of us can do since we're not on the ground in Syria. Keep moving West from Aleppo into Idlib and uproot the vermin. Nor should we overlook the success the SAA and allies are having around Damascus and Daraa on the border with Jordan.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 10 2016 16:54 utc | 39

aljazeera:Syria's war: Aid agencies suspend cooperation with UN
More than 70 groups sign letter saying Syrian regime has influence over UN and Red Crescent operations, demand probe.

WAPO -- doubts / concerns.

For its part, the United Nations hailed the agreement. U.N. special envoy Staffan de Mistura said the Security Council would discuss the issue in a Sept. 21 meeting, at which he expected to set a new date for resumption of Syrian political talks. U.N. humanitarian aid officials have said that convoys of assistance are ready to move as soon as a cease-fire begins and safety can be assured.

(confusingly, we are "demanding" rebels separate from Nusra, but we're also saying that Assad "can no longer" target Nusra ... but the Syrian Airforce will need a Venn diagram:

Military and intelligence officials from both countries have been working together on technical details since negotiations on the deal began earlier this year. Once the seven days are successfully completed, they will step up their efforts to draw agreed lines on a map delineating areas of Nusra and Islamic State control in Syria, areas where terrorist and opposition forces are mixed and areas of rebel control.

“There will be strikes agreed against terrorists,” Lavrov said, “the strikes of the airspace forces of Russia and the air forces of the U.S. We have agreed on the areas where such coordinated strikes would be taking place and in those areas, on mutual agreement . . . by the Syrian government as well, only the air forces of Russia and the U.S. will be functional.”

I wonder if the "secret" parts mention the Kurds.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 10 2016 16:58 utc | 40

Putin has plenty of spine. What he doesn't have is recklessness, impulsiveness, and a "shoot now/think later" now attitude. He is a geo-politician, not an ideologue.

Posted by: telescope | Sep 10 2016 16:58 utc | 41

Complicity between Turkey and ISIS exposed

Isis Fighter Reveals Group's Expansion Plans if Defeated in Syria, Patrick Cockburn • September 10, 2016

Speaking of the Turkish military intervention in Syria which began on 24 August, Faraj helps explain a mysterious development which took place at the time. As Turkish tanks and anti-Isis rebel Syrian units moved into the border town of Jarabulus on the Euphrates River, Isis appeared to know they were coming and made no attempt to resist them. This was in sharp contrast to the ferocious resistance put up by Isis fighters to defend the Isis-held town of Manbij a little further south from attack by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) whose fighting muscle comes from the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG). Isis may have lost as many as 1,000 dead in ground fighting and US bombardment from the air.

It was reported at the time that Isis fighters had fallen back from Jarabulus towards their other stronghold in the area at al-Bab, but Faraj has another explanation. He says: “When the Turkish army entered Jarabulus, I talked to my friends who were there. Actually, Isis didn’t leave Jarabulus; they just shaved off their beards.”

He has compelling claims about the degree of complicity between Isis and Turkey a year earlier relating to the defence of Tal Abyad, another Isis-held crossing point between Turkey and Syria which was a particularly important supply route for Isis because it is 60 miles north of the Isis Syrian capital Raqqa.

Posted by: virgile | Sep 10 2016 16:59 utc | 42

It is important to understand that Damascus has been rendered essentially safe again in the recent campaigns, and Aleppo, which has been denied to Turkey all along, is also specifically excluded from this ceasefire. With Damascus and Aleppo, the war to regain Syria is won. What remains is to neutralize the terrorists, either through rehabilitation into Syria proper, or through death.


@19 somebody, @ Debsisdead - I don't understand this ceasefire play fully yet, but like you both I don't think the answers come from the battlefield itself. Certainly the perspective comes from the height suggested by both of you.

Russia wants something with these ceasefires, and I guess she will keep trying until she gets it. Ukraine has shown us that a piece of paper can stop a lot of bloodshed, and when you finally get locked into a contract with the Russians, there's no way out. The answer to all of this lies deep inside of Russia, in the Kremlin in fact.

The great Russian patriot and historian, Andrei Fursov, has an interesting perspective on Russia in a recent interview (Bring It: Russia is Ready to Repel Any Attack from the West - Fursov). In it, he applauds the judo moves of recent years but says it's time to act proactively rather than reactively. Voices such as his do have an influence on the security state I suspect, but Russia is thinking really deeply nowadays, and has an entire world plan to consider - and the fact is that all of these theaters are pieces of one great action, historic and overarching.

@27 blowback - Erdogan: it looks like the theory may hold true that Turkey has let the bad guys come into Syria, but won't be letting them come back out. Only action can show this and it's a mite too soon to tell, but there is this from two days ago: Turkish PM urges governors to be bold against terrorism.

Yildirim also called for an “immediate response” to illegal border crossings which he compared to “enemy infiltration”.

"Any crossing other than through border gates amounts to enemy infiltration and requires an immediate response. There shall be no hesitation.

“Any such crossing is illegal and a crime. And it requires doing what is necessary”, he said.

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 10 2016 17:09 utc | 43

sorry, bad link @43, somewhat off-topic anyway, but here's the working link:
Bring It: Russia is Ready to Repel Any Attack from the West - Fursov

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 10 2016 17:13 utc | 44

This is yet another futile agreement but it is a necessary one, Russia and Syria has to show willingness to negotiate, if the U.S uses this to rearm their moderate terrorist, it will lead no where just like previous attempts. The Russians have to play along until the message sinks in, that they cannot win with the moderate terrorists, sadly the only people that we have to continue to bear the burden are the innocent civilians. The U.S and her client states are just too powerful for the Russians, Iranian and Syrians to ignore.

Posted by: Blk | Sep 10 2016 17:18 utc | 45

@45 Blk - excellent observations. This has needed to be put into words for some time now. Thank you.

Posted by: Grieved | Sep 10 2016 17:27 utc | 46

Here are a few combat reports from today via Canthama at Syrpers:

As mentioned yesterday, the inner Aleppo terrorists have only 2 options, die or surrender after the huge losses in their western Aleppo corridor venture. It was pointed out to Syrper to wtch out few neighbourhoods for immediate actions from the allied forces, among them al-Ameriah and Sheikh Saeed.

"Today, the SAA and Liwa al Quds just stormed al-Ameriah neighbourhood at liberated 7 blocks. It is the same place an idiot blew himself out few days ago in an attempt to open an offensive that aimed to hit civilians in the 3000 complex. This is going to repeat, on and on again. Terrorists inside Aleppo are in for deep problems."

And: "Al Qaeda nusrats and moderat fanatics backed by Israhelli airforce tired to storm Syrian Druzes and SAA positions in Quneytra this morning, after taking a check point from the SAA, all hell broke loose for the terrorists. Another evidence of Al Qaeda, moderats and Israhell partnership.

"So much for the ceasefire announced yesterday. Anyone out there still believe it will work?"

It's very rare for Zionists being noted in such action reports. For those who don't know, Quneytra is both a province and town in the Golan portion of Syria.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 10 2016 17:35 utc | 47

@43 grieved... last few sentences of your post on turkey position to keep it's borders closed to terrorists... - we'll see... sounds positive, but actions speak louder then words..

@45 blk... i agree with you.. that was essentially what i said @10 but you said it better then me!

@47 karlof1.. thanks for the update and info..

Posted by: james | Sep 10 2016 17:43 utc | 48

Also of relevance to this discussion is Glenn Greenwald's interesting article about Obama being one of the very few politicians not playing the smear Russia/Putin Clod War 2.0 Game, which I think is one reason buttressing blk's assessment at 45 of why the continuing negotiations, I'd have to observe that what Kerry and Lavrov arrived at was also discussed by Putin and Obama on the sidelines at the G20 summit last week.

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 10 2016 17:48 utc | 49

slightly connected / ot - M K Bhadrakumar's post from a few days ago.. i am trying to figure out how this plays into it all and how to read it. - Erdogan hoodwinks Moscow on US ties...

Posted by: james | Sep 10 2016 17:55 utc | 50

Why should the SAA and her allies bother fighting for Aleppo or anything else? They know Mr Putin will sell them out and save Jihafi, inc. from the jaws of defeat.

Putin is using Aleppo as a bargaining card for nothing just like he used the S-300 sale to Iran. Disgusting!

Posted by: Alaric | Sep 10 2016 18:08 utc | 51

The ceasefire agreement will definitely have an effect on the moral of the Terrorists. The fact that Russia and the US have agreed to eliminate those who are not willing to stop fighting is a very clear message.

It also means that Russia manoeuvred the US in a checkmate position by forcing the US to kill the Al Nusra Front fighters together with Russia. These are the groups of the US allies Saudi Arabia and Israel and Katar. Which will not be welcomed by the allies who wanted to have a say about the future in Syria. They will end up with no say at all.

Russia has turned the US against its own allies! What a move! Ingenious.

As for Turkey, as said above in the post by Grieved, it has brought the terrorists nicely together like a herd of sheep ready to be exterminated by either US or Russia. This is in the interest of Europe, Turkey and the US. They don't want to have to deal with the backwash of Terrorist scum.

It looks like the alliance of Syria, Russia, Hizbollah, Iran, China, Iraq and of course the energy and power of all justice and peace loving people in the world (like in this blog) made the right side win this war! Viva Syria!

Posted by: Demeter | Sep 10 2016 18:11 utc | 52

The factor I really like about this CoH joke is that it's so obviously pointless, confused, confusing and SECRET (not to mention talking about "2 sides" in a conflict involving 6 or more sides) that the Russians will do whatever they want and blame the 'mistakes' on misunderstandings - before apologising and doing it again.
And again.
Until the Oh So Christian Crusaders change their tune.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 10 2016 18:11 utc | 53

Posted by: james | Sep 10, 2016 1:55:09 PM | 50

Iran does not seem to have a problem with Turkey - or vice versa

Iran wants to increase natural gas supply to Turkey

This actually makes a lot more sense geographically than a Qatari pipeline via Syria.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 10 2016 18:19 utc | 54

A reminder
Turkey's natural gas impoerts

Posted by: somebody | Sep 10 2016 18:24 utc | 55

Russian state media

This is Why the Turkish Operation in Raqqa Will Serve Russian Interests

"Turkey will not upset Russia’s plans if Turkish forces liberate Raqqa. Russia’s main goal in Syria is defeating Daesh terrorists. And the liberation of Raqqa would play into the hands of Moscow," Mikhail Alexandrov, a military and political expert at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations, pointed out.

Moreover, Ankara restored ties with Moscow which means that Turkish control over Raqqa is a much better scenario than if Raqqa was liberated by the US, he added. "Moscow would agree to this scenario. I can’t rule out that Erdogan and [Russian President Vladimir] Putin discussed it during their meeting in China," he concluded.

Posted by: somebody | Sep 10 2016 18:29 utc | 56

Highlights of the 'ceasefire' from WAPO:

“bedrock” of the agreement, Kerry said, is Russia’s ensuring that Assad’s air force will no longer fly combat missions over opposition and civilian areas. “This step is absolutely essential,” Kerry said. “By all accounts, Assad air attacks have been the main driver of civilian casualties and migration flows” out of Syria.

uh huh..

Documents outlining the specifics of the agreement were not released, and Lavrov said at a news conference that they would be withheld to prevent terrorist targets from anticipating attacks against them. Only the broad outlines were described at the news conference.


Lavrov took advantage of the delay to score some propaganda points with the media awaiting their joint news conference, distributing pizza and bottles of vodka to reporters.

Suppression techs are set to max, but don't worry, be happy.

Posted by: C I eh? | Sep 10 2016 18:40 utc | 57

MKB's analysis this week was wrong. B's was right.

Russia is in charge. Turkey is on board. US is weak and isolated, it's proxies in retreat.

The new deal could fall apart for many reasons but it won't change the balance of power.

Posted by: Hat | Sep 10 2016 19:15 utc | 58

Demeter @52:

The ceasefire agreement will definitely have an effect on the moral of the Terrorists.... Russia manoeuvred the US in a checkmate position ... Russia has turned the US against its own allies! ... [and Turkey] brought the terrorists nicely together like a herd of sheep ready to be exterminated ...
Your optimism contrasts sharply with many here who see the makings of another failed ceasefire.

Jihadis are a shell game, changing names and uniforms at will. And the Turkish allegiance and intentions are suspect at best. When will they leave Syria? Why are they working closely with US/NATO after the supposed coup attempt?

Putin fanboi's that insisted that Erdogan had 'pivoted' were clearly wrong. Are they also wrong in their subsequent assertion that Erdogan is "playing both sides?" Was the coup really just a brilliant psyop that has made possible what had been impossible?

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 10 2016 19:16 utc | 59

somebody @56:

Why Turkish Operation in Raqqa will Serve Russia's Interests
Wait... what? The next logical move for the Assad must go! Coalition is to resettle the refugees and establish safe havens/nofly zones. The new Agreement seems to make that direction easier to justify as it includes restrictions on air attacks on so-called 'moderate rebels'/re-branded jihadis.

And if Russia is hoping for a frozen conflict like the one in Ukraine I'd say they are deluded.

Also see james @50 link to M K Bhadrakumar's post: Erdogan hoodwinks Moscow on US ties...

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 10 2016 19:33 utc | 60

karlof1 49. Obama's been aloof while allowing others to be his attack dogs. He doesn't have to go the GWBush leader of the echo chamber bit. Either he's smart or this is a continuance of his puppet-hood. Most of the MSM writings about their actions have SecDef Gates resistant to military action with "interventionists" Hillary and Kerry pushing action and Obama being on the fence. I don't know how much of that is media image control.

Greenwald accuses Stephen Hawking of being groomed by the FSB "to masquerade as a 'physicist' while he carries out un-American activities on behalf of Putin." What's up with that? And Greenwald includes the imprisonment of P*ssy Riot as part of the proof of Kremlin's evil? It sounds like Greenwald's on the neocon Russia-derangement team.

Posted by: Curtis | Sep 10 2016 19:41 utc | 61

Posted by: C I eh? | Sep 10, 2016 2:40:16 PM | 57

Aren't we all just bloody sick of American press? It's just absurd.

Posted by: Gravatomic | Sep 10 2016 19:45 utc | 62

Posted by: Curtis | Sep 10, 2016 3:41:48 PM | 61

Greenwald is becoming more and more in lock step with the loonie liberal left press in the US. It's in style now to spout the conspiracy theories, PUTIN DID IT. How the tables turn eh?

Posted by: Gravatomic | Sep 10 2016 19:47 utc | 63

If l were Syrian l would be deeply offended. For good or ill Assad is the legally recognised President of Syria. By having this plan imposed upon his government without his attendance at the negotiations undermines Syrian sovereignty. We have to take Lavrov's word for it that he has been consulted. I cannot escape looking forward and seeing HRC committing US forces to illegally invading and overthrowing Assad, in accordance with Zionist new-con PNAC desires. So what is Kerry, a paid-up neo-con, doing agreeing a peace plan if HRC is going to undo it? Unless Obama is still looking for his legacy, a legacy which cannot survive Hilary's war-mongering zeal.

Posted by: Colin Smith | Sep 10 2016 20:13 utc | 64

Fool me once shame on you fool me twice shame on me.

I don't know what Putin is expecting from The US but it has certainly nothing to do with the Syrian people and his fight for freedom.One thing for sure is that You never-I mean never ever- stop a decisive winning assault for a war. There is something more at stake in here between Russia and The US . I would not be surprise if The Russians agreed in a hidden settlement to the breaking apart of Syria with either of the two great power claiming a specific zone of interest.If that, I would bet that Putin is playing on Assad and waiting for the SAA to give up on their will of an united Syria.That is all there is to it.Due to its stance as the stalwart keeper of Syria ,international laws and people and state sovereignty alike Putin cannot come outward as a supporter of Syria partition(even if Russian's interest are insured). However I wouldn't be surprise such a back door deal is what is continually preventing Russia to let the SAA smite the ending blow. I wish it to be otherwise but true.Putin's action ,however, doesn't help me to think of another explanation as of now. It seems that from east to west the main sentence is Syria must fall.

Posted by: lebretteurfredonnant | Sep 10 2016 20:25 utc | 65

Grieved says:

Ukraine has shown us that a piece of paper can stop a lot of bloodshed,...

yes, where there is much evidence that Putin is trying to build peace, there is 0 evidence that uncle sam is. and this is the crux of Andrei Fursov's conundrum.

interesting quote from Andrei Fursov:

If the elections were fair, Trump would win

Posted by: john | Sep 10 2016 20:33 utc | 66


Yes. Disgusting.

We are Syrians. All of us.

Globalizing elites are the opposite of Syrians, they work to tie us down, together, then 'celebrate' their achievements with pizza and vodka.

This is the new NWO. Unipolar at the 'macro' level and multipolar at the 'micro.' At every turn you are accosted by masonic internationalists, only too happy to play your disposession as something positive, all the while delivering the message CIA-Salinger delivered in Catcher and the Rye:

Fuck you.

Posted by: C I eh? | Sep 10 2016 20:34 utc | 67

@54/55/56 somebody.. thanks and thanks for the links..

@58 hat.. maybe.. i am not convinced of turkeys actions here. see @ 42 virgile's link..

@61 curtis.. i am not clear on what role obama is playing, other then kicking it down the road to his warmonger friend hillary - which doesn't really speak highly of obama if he isn't involved in any of these orchestrations, or non-orchestrations/ceasefires.. that is interesting later part of your post. thanks..

Posted by: james | Sep 10 2016 20:43 utc | 68

Several rebels surrender to the Syrian Army in Mo’adhimiyah Al-Sham

Damascus, Syria (5:25 P.M. [10 September 2016]) – Minutes ago, a large number of militants surrendered themselves to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) at key town of Al-Mo’adhimiyah Al-Sham in the West Ghouta.

A senior officer from the Syrian Arab Army told Al-Masdar on Saturday that these rebel fighters surrendered their weapons and asked for amnesty at a government checkpoint in Al-Mo’adhimiyah’s outskirts.

The Syrian Armed Forces accepted their request to surrender and transported the men to Damascus, where they will have their cases resolved under the amnesty clause.

Negotiations in Al-Mo’adhimiyah are still ongoing between the government and opposition; however, the recent ceasefire deal may change several things in the coming days.

Syrian Army captures more territory in southern Aleppo

Despite the announcement of the ceasefire, the Syrian Armed Forces are going to press the jihadist rebels up until the date the agreement is implemented.

However, even after the implementation of this ceasefire, the Syrian Armed Forces will continue their operations against the jihadist rebels, per the agreement.

But ...

'Humanitarian corridor' established in Aleppo

Because the Al-Castillo Highway will be used to deliver humanitarian aid, the government and opposition forces will be prohibited from approaching this roadway without permission from the Russians and Americans.

The opposition-controlled east Aleppo neighborhoods were entirely surrounded by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) before the ceasefire agreement; this siege will now be lifted as a result of this humanitarian corridor.

Posted by: jfl | Sep 10 2016 20:50 utc | 69

@61 c @63 g

You piqued my interest, went to see what was up, think you've mis- or unread the post. Greenwald is mocking the Demoblican's use of Russophobia, pointing out that they mocked Romney for the same ploy last time around. He does pointout the destructiveness of using hysteria (the womb-rooted disease) to manipulate an election ... under the 'cure' is worse than the 'disease' rubrik.

I lost interest in the Intercept once they went the reader-tracking route, so don't see it much anymore. Greenwald seems to have become a more or less mainstream journalist ... or what would be one, if there were any journalists left in the mainstream. He seems to be on the Obama rehab team, although it does seem true that whoever is pulling Obama's strings are not indulging themselves along Russophobia lines as much as hysterical Hillary and her harridans are.

Posted by: jfl | Sep 10 2016 21:53 utc | 71

Curtis @61>

Greenwald accuses Stephen Hawking of being groomed by the FSB "to masquerade as a 'physicist' while he carries out un-American activities on behalf of Putin." What's up with that?
AFAIK he was poking fun at those that blame Putin for everything. Especially given the ominous warnings/concerns from US establishment about Russians hacking/influencing American elections.

Posted by: Jackrabbit | Sep 10 2016 21:59 utc | 72

So when the USA and Russia are as tightly allied in destroying Islamofascism as FDR and Stalin were during WWII, will you people rally around the American flag? Will it be pro-imperialist to attack the USA for bombing East Aleppo after the separation of "moderate" rebels from al-Nusra takes place? If you need some good material to plagiarize for hailing American intervention, you might want to check Christopher Hitchens from 2003 or so. Nobody was better at finding progressive aspects to American bombing than him.

Posted by: Louis Proyect | Sep 10 2016 22:04 utc | 73

yuk yuk - the usa has nurtured saudi arabia/wahabbism all along.. what part of that didn't you pick up on?

Posted by: james | Sep 10 2016 22:12 utc | 74

I love this:

Possible only in the USA

Q: Why will there never be a coup d’état in Washington?

A: Because there’s no American embassy there.

I'm not exactly sure I'd call Putin a neo-liberal, but I fail to see what Russia gets out of this unless it is to become another vassal of the Hegemonic US.

Interesting though that the Russians are evidently involved in Libya ... which makes sense, I suppose.

The real news seems to be that an asteroid raced within 24k miles of our little blue rock. Maybe there is another that won't miss this time. That makes all of our speculation seem rather shallow ... to say nothing of human machinations. We're not nearly as awe inspiring as dinosaurs, so I wonder what sentient beings in the future might think of us. I'm sure it won't be very positive.

We could take control of events and actually have a nuclear Armageddon thus making Hillary a good choice doncha know?

Posted by: rg the lg | Sep 10 2016 22:14 utc | 75

I see several people had trouble reading the Greenwald article I linked, particularly CI eh?

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 10 2016 22:31 utc | 76

Something odd/rare has happened, as reported by Canthama at Syrpers:

"The puzzle regarding the war of aggression against Syria is getting thicker. The following is something for us to chew on since we will barely know the real deal behind it:

"1) Few hours ago a Turkish Military plane landed at the Qamishli airport (Hasaka province), this airport is controlled by Syria. This is the 1st time in 5 years that a Turkish plane landed in Syria.

"2) Few hours ago a Il76 Syrian airplane left Damascus to Qamishli.

"No idea what is up, it is a 1st in 5 years."

Posted by: karlof1 | Sep 10 2016 22:44 utc | 77


The US has no interest in defeating Islamic militants; and in fact it's perfectly happy to use them. A big point about the Syrian issue is precisely that the United States isn't genuinely interested in fighting AQ or ISIS. It continues to supply militants who are themselves little better than the head-choppers they frequently ally with, and in the full knowledge that a huge amount of the weapons supplied are immediately handed over to the dominate Islamist factions as tribute.

The problem isn't a lack of US involvement, it's that the US is once again meddling in the affairs of another country. We've already 'intervened'. THAT'S PART OF THE PROBLEM.

Also why are you putting moderate in quotes? Your position is that there are a lot of genuine moderates, and places like MoA are Baathist propagandists who smear all of the FSA as jihadis. Are you admitting you were wrong all along and that the bulk of the rebels aren't noble, principled freedom fighters? And the US will never make any attempt to separate them, because it needs to 'moderates' to be a shield for the Islamists.

Christopher Hitchens was a lifelong contrarian who saw that most progressives were against the 2003 invasion of Iraq so he took the opposite stance to stir up controversy because he enjoyed it. His arguments for invasion were as vapid and hollow as most of the other things he said and wrote throughout his life. He was full of shit then, just as you are now.


"I'm not exactly sure I'd call Putin a neo-liberal"

He's more of one than anything else. Judging by this he's as clueless as anyone in the West about fiat money and government debt. He needs to stop following the 'logic' of US neo-classical economists. If Russia would unpeg their ruble from the US dollar they'd be in a lot better shape right now.

Posted by: Kuma | Sep 10 2016 22:53 utc | 78

How the ceasefire could make sense, in my opinion:

The interests of Syrian state are equally well served by severely weakening the "moderate opposition" (add or subtract what is al-Qaeda du jour) and ISIS. It is much easier to fight fewer enemies in the same time. SAA and Iranian led forces assembled a credible expedition toward Raqqa, but the had to fold because of attacks in Aleppo area. There are only so many fronts where SAA can muster sufficient force to advance, and get sufficient air support (important if you do not rely on suicide attacks). If the ceasefire with moderates will stick to a sufficient degree, the expedition onto Raqqa, or from Palmyra toward Deir ez-Zor can be assembled again, and ISIS can be severely weakened, moreover, it would add a lot of territory to the government control. Later the same expedition forces can be turned onto the rebels around Idlib, in East Ghouta etc. And if ceasefire will not stick, we are where we are now.

This seems to be the actual plan, because there was an announcement that Hamadan will be used again by Russia, and that makes sense only in the eastern Syria, western Syria is so close to Hmeim that it is more effective to have extra sorties from there. Last time, bombers fueling in Hamadan airport were used in Palmyra.

Importantly, there is no plan to suspend operation of Russian air force. I suspect that in the Spring Putin resorted to drastic cost controls. Oil reached record low levels, and Putin has almost obsession about balancing the books. After all, he cannot rely on Western banks or bond markets, and he has a population to feed etc. That comes first. However, at 30 dollar per barrel even Saudis feel enough pain to keep it for a longer time, so we are back to 45-50 range.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 10 2016 23:30 utc | 79

Y'know you would think that as he's amerikan himself, Greenwald would understand that most of his fellow countrymen don't do sarcasm or irony. It is truly saddening to read so many of the comments in this thread where people appear to have, for whatever reason, painted themselves into a corner and are now so locked in that any deviation from their own cast iron beliefs is regarded as treason of some sort. Needless to say even mild forms of humour are verboten in each corner.

The notion that any Syrian shit-kickers on whatever side, somehow deserve to be blown to smithereens is something I can never go with.
Similarly the notion of all Syrian resistance as being comprised of 100% head-choppers is just racism pure and simple.
Most of all so many choose to ignore that in both Libya & Syria, it was the ruling elite's acceptance of neoliberal aid & concomitant oppression of the people which provided the spark to insurrection at the same time as it allowed amerikan influence to spread.
In Libya the Colonel's eldest son made a number of really selfish & stupid moves, just as the Syrian political elite did. North Korea & Zimbabwe are 'hated' most of all because their leadership has refused the offer to make room at the trough for them.
Should the Syrians resisting the Assad government's neoliberal sellout & imposition of the same sorts of austerity as much of the world had forced on em after 2008 refused help from the US and the Gulf states? Of course we can say they shouldn't have - sitting at a comfortable distance, but I never read too much criticism of French communists (who comprised about 90% of the ww2 french resistance) accepting help from the US, yet that truly wrecked France until de Gaulle woke the fuck up.
What about in Yugoslavia where the anti-Nazi resistance managed to take support from USuk yet still keep control? If they hadn't accepted help from wherever they could get it, they would have been wiped out by the Nazis - would that have been better because they stayed pure?

Everyone holds these fixed points of view while they sit far from the struggle and disparage anything done to restrict the numbers of humans on all sides who are butchered. The disparagement is rarely based on any practical terms - the chief cause of opprobrium seems to be that the players have had the gall to do something which doesn't fit in with the assholes in the corners' fixed worldview.

If less people on any side get blown to smithereens over Eid and into the next few months, that is a cause for celebration.
If Oblammer has managed to convince or even arm-twist some in the DC elite that the insistence on Assad's departure is an unachievable goal even better.
Of course there will be trade offs especially since neither side could truly achieve dominance over the other. That need not be a bad thing, I mean to say as blasphemous as this will sound out there in the corners, the Syrian government (which has been feudal in operation since inception) has been doing some dreadful shit to citizens for a very long time.
No I don't wanna see amerika win anything, and this deal will certainly create that opportunity altho I reckon they won't manage to get their way, but more important than that if you are a Syrian is less Syrians dying if there is a successful CoH.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Sep 10 2016 23:47 utc | 80

If Russia would unpeg their ruble from the US dollar they'd be in a lot better shape right now.

What peg? Russia floats the currency, and this is how they achieved a very drastic decrease of imports following the collapse of oil prices. The only stimulus in Russian economy is an increased demand for domestic goods that have costs priced in rubble (and weapons + ammo is also a domestic product), plus cost relief to some exporting industries like aluminum: Russian aluminum is produced with Siberian hydro power, and Chinese undercut them with dirt cheap coal power stations (literally dirt cheap, since they are so dirty), but dollar prices of Russian electricity went down so not they can export with profit.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Sep 10 2016 23:49 utc | 81

@73 Louis Proyect

YOU people..

Mostly they are carpet bagging zio-clowns -- just like YOU.

Don't forget your technicolour dream coat on the way out, dear Joseph.

Posted by: C I eh? | Sep 10 2016 23:50 utc | 82

Al-Masdar News is reporting that a "large number" of rebels have surrendered to the government requesting amnesty. With the United States so visibly backing the ceasefire this time round perhaps they are starting to think that the United States is not going to come to their rescue by invading Syria so further violence is pointless. I think that the possibility that the United States might intervene against the Syrian government has done a lot to sustain the Syrian rather than foreign rebels and also they have realised that the Qatari and Saudi arms pipelines have been sealed off. I expect to see a last burst of activity from the AMC.
As for Raqqa, I suspect that the Turkish are very keen to capture it to allow them to clean house of any documents that incriminate them. Perhaps ISIS should leak them all to Wikileaks.

Posted by: blowback | Sep 11 2016 0:20 utc | 83

BTW, the Kurdish area, Sheikh Maqsoud, has just lost its last paediatric surgeon, and it ws the multi-cultural peace-loving terrorists who killed him. Something that probably won't be reported in the Guardian or New York Times.

Posted by: blowback | Sep 11 2016 0:35 utc | 84


Here comes one of Proyect's goons with the Vulgar Marxism again.

Posted by: Kuma | Sep 11 2016 0:43 utc | 85

Long video - Mike Robinson interview Vanessa Beeley, she detail chorine attacks in Aleppo, Dr. Assad honesty, White helmets, the real Syria civil defence and etc. (starting from 30.10)...... Nobel Peace already given to Obamo who probably the most butchering tyrant this world have ever know.

UK Column News anchor Mike Robinson talks to 21WIRE’s Vanessa Beeley in a stunning interview covering the reality on the ground in Aleppo, the truth behind the west’s latest contrived ‘chemical weapons’ propaganda, and the story of the REAL Syria Civil Defense who been hijacked by the western-backed, terrorist-linked faux NGO known as ‘the White Helmets’ currently being promoted by the website Netflix.

Posted by: Jack Smith | Sep 11 2016 0:49 utc | 86

More great news about the expanding anti-imperialist alliance:

Posted by: Louis Proyect | Sep 11 2016 1:41 utc | 87

nyt 09/10/2016: Russia, Already Reinserting Itself in Middle East, Enters Israeli-Palestinian Fray.

JERUSALEM — With the United States pulling back after years of frustrated efforts to break the intractable impasse between Israelis and Palestinians, Russia is stepping forward with its own drive to bring peace to a fractured land.

A special envoy has been shuttling through the region, Israeli and Palestinian leaders are jockeying for position, and Russia keeps hinting that a Moscow summit meeting may be in the offing. Never mind that nearly everyone involved here agrees that the effort will almost certainly not lead to a settlement of the decades-old dispute.

Russia’s newfound Middle East peace push, part of President Vladimir V. Putin’s reinsertion of Moscow into the region in a profound way after years of retreat, seems to be about everything but finding peace in the Middle East. Instead, it is about Moscow’s ambitions and competition with Washington, exemplified by its intervention in Syria.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 11 2016 1:52 utc | 88

@80 Debsissydead

Nice try.

Anti government opposition is 100% foreign sponsered. Whether some of these head choppers are nice guys, with legitimate grievances, is 100% irrelevant.

They are traitors, in league with Rothschild Zionism.

Posted by: C I eh? | Sep 11 2016 2:00 utc | 89

No, a non-jihadi Syrian oppostion appears to exist, if you believe the people who claim to represent it, however, I'm unclear how big it is or how cohesive it is (or might have ever been) ... I have also seen people claim that anti-Assad Syrians have largely left Syria in fear of their lives (because Assad is so evil, usually, so who knows?). Various rebel strongholds, like Madaya, have reportedly been populated by "rebel supporters'

Given the various reports of "join us or die" campaigns by many of the foreign jihadi groups, I've wondered many times if Syrian-nationalist anti-Assad forces actually exist and I can't answer that question... Although I would assume some individual and clusters Nationalist anti-Assad Syrians exist inside and outside Syria.

Riad Hijab is the top opposition negotiator. He is a past Syrian prime minister (albeit of a shortened term of 3 months 2012) he defected at that point. There are some (although I gather few ever and at this point of Syrian Army member who defected to the "rebels")

reuters: December 2015: Syrian opposition groups choose ex-PM to represent them in talks.

I think it is suspicious that there is no household name after 5 years of this war ... He's almost the only named "leader" I've found ... and is apparently in London. I googled for leadership and found articles from 2012 ... I think this may be like Jesus' "wherever 1 or 2 are gathered in my name... there I am" particularly at this point and the remaining "rebels' want to reassert their "place" at the negotiating table, such as it is.

Posted by: Susan Sunflower | Sep 11 2016 2:41 utc | 90

@89 You know Anti government opposition is 100% foreign sponsered from the extensive time you have spent in Syria eh? Fucking stupid racism which is no different to the bullshit amerika & israel rely on to push their meglamania.
Here is a suggestion - go to Syria and talk to some ordinary Syrians actually not just some - as many as you can find prepared to talk to you. I've always found that to be the best method of understanding what is going down. Not because you'll learn any great truths Syrians are just as susceptible to media propagated bullshit as anyone else - that is the truth you will learn.
Syrians are appalled at the disaster that has befallen their society and on the whole they dislike the rebel leadership as much as they once despised the Syrian government leadership.

It is very simple really the Assad gang have been in power so long that it doesn't matter how well meaning the optician is - all levels of the political/police/military structure became corrupt & self serving - that doesn't make ditching all the players and replacing them with foreign appointed agents of influence a solution, but ignoring the very real atrocities committed by elements of the government isn't a solution either.
All that will do is ensure the same problems recur.
I like my Syrian friends who suffer from exactly the same mixture of love, disgust & existential despair as everyone else - yet so many armchair assholes expect them - the people of Syria to be 'the One' the people expected to martyr themselves - their hopes & dreams so assholes can claim vindication. fuck off.

Finally anyone who considers the motives and actions of Middle Eastern resistance to the theft & domination by fukUSi to be a bunch of headchoppers hating our freedoms is a racist ignoramus deserving of nothing but contempt. The bloke who drove the truck down the boulevarde in Nice held a valid point of view, his solution was cruel, foolish and ultimately self defeating but that doesn't detract from the validity of his initial conclusion.

You just don't get it - the motivations of the exponents are just as relevant as those of the underwriters - one cannot act without the other which is why the continuous cries of "false flag" from the tinfoil brigade are so stupid because they only consider half of the issue.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Sep 11 2016 2:56 utc | 91

On September 14, 2013 you posted the excellent:
"A Short History Of The War On Syria - 2006-2014"

Wednesday will be three years since that post. It would be both interesting and useful to have b comment on his own post from three years ago.

Precisely because of its excellence, in addition to all that was correct and to all that later proved correct, most interesting and helpful would be to read b's comments on
1) what did not play out as expected and why, and even more instructive
2) what, in retrospect, was wrong or a bad guess and what led to those misjudgments.
Each of us would learn from that.


Posted by: HouseDoc | Sep 11 2016 3:00 utc | 92


Yes yes, I know, everyone is a racist. Despite the fact that it's Arabs and Iranians doing the bulk of the fighting and dying to stop Islamic militants, and who are being cheered on by the people who post here.

Literally no one here is saying all Muslims are jihadis, or anything of the sort. What they are saying however is that the opposition in Syria is predominately made up of foreign-backed fighters and that it doesn't represent a genuine Syrian uprising.

Saying, like C I eh? has, that it's entirely foreign backed is almost certainly wrong however. I'm sure there are real native Syrians fighting the government, some may even be 'moderates' who are disgusted by their allies and only work with them because they have to to achieve anything. But that fact alone is pretty damning. Even if there are real Syrians in the opposition, the fact they have to rely so much on foreign paid nutjobs says a lot about the lack of support they enjoy in Syria.

Posted by: Kuma | Sep 11 2016 3:33 utc | 93

"King, be thy thoughts imperious, like thy name.
Is the sun dimm'd, that gnats do fly in it?
The eagle suffers little birds to sing,
And is not careful what they mean thereby,
Knowing that with the shadow of his wings
He can at pleasure stint their melody:
Even so mayst thou the giddy men of Rome.
Then cheer thy spirit : for know, thou emperor,
I will enchant the old Andronicus
With words more sweet, and yet more dangerous,
Than baits to fish, or honey-stalks to sheep,
When as the one is wounded with the bait,
The other rotted with delicious feed."

--Titus Andronicus

I suppose if we could account for all the deceptions and the hidden crimes, we should know who is about to get it in the neck. Sir Stumps-a-lot of the Golden Throne, and Lady Gargoyle of the Council on Foreign Relations are only the superficial instruments of the grifters and psychos. One is the handmaiden of natural born killers, and the other is like a boy in a bathtub, dreaming of the day when he can sink small Iranian boats.

Posted by: Copeland | Sep 11 2016 3:40 utc | 94

@80/91 debsisdead..ordinarily i enjoy reading what you have to say, but you appear in a foul mood tonight.. i don't believe anyone here is interested in seeing syrians suffer or die here.. do you hold the same attitude towards saudi arabia, israel, turkey and etc, or do you think that only assad and what he represents is particularly horrible? seems to me an 'americanized' attitude of exporting cultural attitudes on what is right or wrong has imposed more death, murder and bloodshed then it's brought peace or freedom to the rest of the world.. that's been my observation starting with vietnam which i was old enough to remember.. iraq, libya are two more recent examples.. were all these countries leaders the usa had to invade or overthrow that bad that the usa had to turn them into failed states with no end in sight? is this what you'd like the usa to do for syria here as well?

if any opposition to the plutocracy in the usa were to take up arms, would they be considered ''moderate'' by you? those advocating overthrowing assad by military means, supporting the flow of a huge array of weapons to syria - that you appear to support - i don't see how on the one hand you want to see a stop the mindless death of innocent people, but are cool with supporting the overthrow of that bad guy assad, even though we have been down this road many times before thanks the good ole' usa.. that's how i read your comments here tonight.. i'm surprised by your comments.. hopefully i misunderstand you, you're off your meds, or whatever - and it's only temporary..

Posted by: james | Sep 11 2016 5:14 utc | 95

If Oblammer has managed to convince or even arm-twist some in the DC elite that the insistence on Assad's departure is an unachievable goal even better.
Of course there will be trade offs especially since neither side could truly achieve dominance over the other. That need not be a bad thing, I mean to say as blasphemous as this will sound out there in the corners, the Syrian government (which has been feudal in operation since inception) has been doing some dreadful shit to citizens for a very long time.
No I don't wanna see amerika win anything, and this deal will certainly create that opportunity altho I reckon they won't manage to get their way, but more important than that if you are a Syrian is less Syrians dying if there is a successful CoH.
Posted by: Debsisnotdeadenough | Sep 10, 2016 7:47:36 PM | 80

Clumsy, vacuous bullshit from a rabid Zio-troll...

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Sep 11 2016 5:46 utc | 96

Events in Cerablus where we saw İSİS melt away, or as the İndy article puts it, 'shave off the beards' vindicates the HDP Minister's line, as quoted by MoA, that Turkey was rescuing its fighters. For what? To send them off to Libya?
The İndy article implies that İSİS's new headquarters will move to Libya, so it makes sense that its fighters require evacuation and transportation.
What about the fighters in Raqqa, Aleppo, are they also to be sent back the way they came 6 years ago?
İt would explain Turkey's bullish and over hyped 'We will liberate Raqqa' stance which everyone knows is hot air. Do the ceasefire and the Turkish corridor facilitate this evacuation? Will we later see Turkey walk into Raqqa unchallenged? What about Aleppo?
(Just thinking aloud!)

Posted by: AtaBrit | Sep 11 2016 7:28 utc | 97

Forced migration in the Osman empire

Attempting to classify the methods of ethnic conflict management and termination, McGarry and O’Leary suggest two principal methods; one for eliminating differences and another for managing them. As methods for eliminating differences, there are genocide, forced population transfers, partition and/or secession and, finally, integration and/or assimilation, which all actually refer to demographic engineering. For managing differences, there are mainly four methods: hegemonic control, arbitration, cantonisation and/or federalisation and consociationalism or power-sharing

Posted by: somebody | Sep 11 2016 12:07 utc | 98

Folks, please do not feed that Louis Proyect troll. His schtick here at MoA and is to throw his weight around flaunting his phony Marxist intellectualism and to throw up non sequitur arguments that lead commenters into dead ends away from the topic of discussion. He is or was a co-editor and writer over at and has his own blog. Let's all send him back where he belongs.

Posted by: Jen | Sep 11 2016 13:09 utc | 99

re 80 DiD

Similarly the notion of all Syrian resistance as being comprised of 100% head-choppers is just racism pure and simple.
That is wrong, quite wrong. It's an unfortunate fact that if Asad is defeated, the only alternative power is jihadi, from one of a number of factions, and it will be inevitably the jihadis in power in Damascus. OK, the rebels are not 100% jihadi, but the only ones with power are. What the Americans or British say is only to confuse. The Americans seem to understand they're supporting jihadis, but they don't mind. Israel the same; they're in close touch with al-Nusra. The Brits live in self-delusion, the French too. They listen to powerless exiles, who indeed are not jihadi. You only have to look at the videos to understand the situation. Since 2011, the women are always covered up to the eyes in rebel videos. It wasn't like that before. Women wore headscarves and a coat in town. country women were particularly free. Now it's full burqa - you can't get away with any less. It's a real sign of social mores.

Posted by: Laguerre | Sep 11 2016 14:08 utc | 100

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