Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 27, 2016

Syria Roundup: Jihadi Fronts Fall Apart - Egypt Enters The Fight

UPDATE of the part describing the east-Aleppo enclave:

The whole north of the Jihadist held part is liberated, some 40+% of the territory. A new map is here. Up to 10,000 civilians fled to the government areas. (This makes a joke out of the UN 250k claim.) The water pump works for all Aleppo are back in the hand of the government. Supply is to resume.

End Update

The Syrian army (SAA) and its allies made huge progress in east-Aleppo. There, as seemingly everywhere else, the Jihadi' fronts are breaking down. Disunity in the opposition, in reflection of disunity among their sponsors, disrupts all of their attempts for new initiatives. The largely hidden Russian air campaign behind the "rebel" frontlines diminished their material and personal reserves.

New help for the Syrian alliance will soon come in form of Egyptian forces. With various "rebel" enclaves eliminated by fighting or peace deals more Syrian troops will be freed and become available for new campaigns. Turkey has been told in no uncertain words to pull back from its Syria (and Iraq) plans. With more forces available and under solid Russian (air) protection new SAA initiatives towards Idleb in the north of the country as well as against Raqqa in the east will now become possible.

After breaking the Jihadi front in the north-eastern part of the east-Aleppo cauldron yesterday, the defenses there fell completely apart. The Jihadis had to pull back and the whole norther third of the Jihadi held east-Aleppo is now rapidly falling to the Syrian government forces. The main reason for the defeat of the Jihadis is - tadaaah - the "lack of hospitals":

"The revolutionaries are fighting fiercely but the volume of bombardments and the intensity of the battles, the dead and the wounded, and the lack of hospitals, are all playing a role in the collapse of these frontlines," said an official from Jabha Shamiya, one of the biggest groups fighting against Assad in northern Syria.

The destruction of the last hospital for transsexual cats in Aleppo by a thermobaric barrel nuke must have been the tipping point of the fight. This is, I believe, the first time such a ludicrous propaganda excuse has been given for a total defeat.

In reality the Syrian forces are avoiding casualties and use their overwhelming firepower to clear the way before their infantry proceeds. This demolishes any defense line the "rebels" can set up even before the real fighting starts. Only hardened and very disciplined troops could hold such a line under fire and offer real resistance. The "rebels" can't.

The map, via Electronic Resistance, shows the SAA progress today:


About 1,500 civilians escaped from east-Aleppo towards the SAA. (New reports say 4,000 - this proves that rebels had held these civilians hostage.) All over the U.S./UN propaganda numbers of 200,000, 250,000, 300,000 civilians in east-Aleppo are rapidly proven to be the nonsense (and financial racket) they always were. The recovered areas are almost empty of any civilians. As shown back in mid October the real number of people in in east-Aleppo were likely some 4-5,000 Jihadis (less now), half of them hardcore al-Qaeda, and probably 20,000 civilians, mostly immediate families of the fighters. (It is quite possible that even these guestimates were way too high.)

East of Aleppo city a Turkish move towards Al-Bab was halted by a Syrian airstrike under Russian protection. Erdogan's plans for a Turkish aligned entity including at least Al-Bab, Raqqa and Manbij went up in smoke. Elijah Magnier gives an excellent overview of the interests behind the various moves in the area and the current events there: On the same day, one year apart, Russia gets its revenge and stops Turkey at the gates of al-Bab.

In the south of Syria around Damascus two more small "rebel" enclaves gave up and made peace deals with the government. Fighters who profess to want to die on the battlefield are given a chance to relocate to Idleb where they will later be eliminated (or -more likely - from where they will flee to Europe).

The Jihadi pocket in east Ghouta has been diminished over the last weeks and is down to one empty medium city and a few villages. It will be cleaned up within the coming days. An Jihadi attempt to relieve a Jihadi pocket in west Ghouta failed:

Qalaat Al Mudiq @QalaatAlMudiq - 3:49 AM - 26 Nov 2016
Rebels started a new battle in #Quneitra province aiming to break the siege of W. #Ghouta. Pre-emptive shelling ongoing.
[lots of "progress" and "successes" tweets]
Qalaat Al Mudiq ‏@QalaatAlMudiq - 6:53 AM - 27 Nov 2016
@QalaatAlMudiq Battle stopped after disagrements btwn groups involved to break siege of W. #Ghouta & Khan Ash Sheikh evacuation abt to start

The Egyptian powers that are, mostly in the armed forces, had kicked the Muslim Brotherhood out of the government. The MB had supported the Jihadists in Syria and Libya and were drifting themselves further into a more radical direction. The Egyptian army move had come after the Saudis had urged for such. They had offered huge amounts of economic help for a new government. The MB were seen as a danger to Riyadh. Then the Saudi priorities changed. The Wahhabis suddenly made up with the political Islam ideologues in the MB. Together with the Muslim Brotherhood ruled Turkey and MB supporter Qatar the new Saudi Arabian rulers reinforced a campaign to implement Islamist rule in Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen.

This changed the situation for Egypt. Turkey and Qatar became enemies as did their proxy forces in Libya. When the Saudis officially asked the Sisi government in Egypt to support the Muslim Brotherhood the end of the alliance was reached. The MB is THE enemy for Egypt, not ever to be allowed in power again anywhere. It also broke with the U.S. who had supported the MB everywhere. Instead friendly relations with Russia were renewed.

Cairo believes that the installation of any kind of Islamist regime in Syria would endanger Egypt. (Israel could easily transfer Jihadis it actively supports in the Syrian Golan heights to the Sinai peninsula.) It also believes that the current Saudi regime will haven fallen apart due to internal fighting by the end of 2017. It therefore now offers serious help to Syria to fight its enemies down.

A few weeks ago a high level Egyptian military delegation came to Syria to discuss their taking part in the campaign under Syrian and Russian command. It is claimed that Egyptian air planes and helicopters relocated to an airport in the Syrian Hama governate. Egypt has a large ground army and open sea access towards Syria. I can and likely will provide serious ground troop elements.

France had build two Mistral-class amphibious assault ship for Russia but, as part of sanctions over Ukraine, was not allowed to deliver them to Russia. They were, in the end, sold to Egypt. There they were equipped with Russian helicopters and electronics. It is rumored that they operate with Russian officers on board.

Each ship can deliver a full battalion, some 400-900 men and all their equipment, to the beach. With both Egyptian ships doing two rounds each from Suez to Latakia a full infantry brigade with all its ground support elements could be delivered to Syria within days. The Russian helicopters on board of the Mistrals would be the supporting air element. The Russian fleet in the eastern Mediterranean would cover the moves.

This would be a fully organized, brigade size military unit able to fight battles on its own in a coherent way. Such a unit is much more valuable that the mostly irregular Shia forces the Iranians hired to help in Syria. Those need logistic and command support from the Syrian army. The Egyptians can, given a task, run on their own. For geopolitical reasons (aka the Suez canal) neither the U.S. nor Turkey would dare to touch them.

There are currently some 4,000 Iraqi and some 4,000 Iran hired Shia forces in Syria. 400 Iranian IRCG officers are there to advise and command those. Hizbullah has send some 2,000 of its special forces Ridwan units. Russia has in addition to its air and air defense elements special forces and command elements on the ground. The Egyptian force with some 4,000 soldiers would not be huge addition but it would be a good united fighting element. The political support which such a unit symbolizes is certainly of equal if not more value.

France, which feverish supports the Jihadis in Syria, would be completely embarrassed by such a move. The whole world would laugh over its sanction move against Russia when the "Egyptian" Mistrals come in support of the Syrian government under Russian command.

If such an Egyptian move happens a Syrian government campaign towards Raqqa is suddenly not only possible but even likely. The Egyptian army has some experience fighting Jihadis in the Sinai. It is not overly shy of taking casualties and it hates the Islamists. It can easily reinforce its own units on the ground with whatever number is needed. If Egypt is serious with this, ISIS in Raqqa is toast and all U.S. plans for a "Salafist principality" in east-Syria and west-Iraq will be in shambles.

With all the above and a president Trump likely to pull back support for the Jihadis in Syria the end of the war is coming into sight. Even if Qatar and others continue their support, as it promises, for the Jihadis those will have no chance against the much better organized alliance around the Syrian government.

The strongly U.S. influenced European Council for Foreign Affairs just put out a new paper on Syria aimed at EU governments: The First Trump Test - European Policy And The Siege Of Aleppo.

The sub-headline reads:

There is no longer any real hope of deposing Assad. Europe must instead work towards an ugly deal that salvages something for the Syrian people.

A better title would have been: How the EU totally screwed up and lost out with its slavish following of U.S. insanity and its opposition to Assad and Russia.

The EU is so disunited and without any foresight and vision that it can not even handle the blackmailing by the wannabe Sultan of Turkey. Blocking all EU credits and support for the Turkish economy would bankrupt Erdogan's government within months. Putin has shown how to handle the dude. How come no one in in Brussels (or Berlin) has learned from that?

Posted by b on November 27, 2016 at 18:00 UTC | Permalink

next page »

leave the poor transsexual cats alone, you heartless blogger ^^

Posted by: ratatat | Nov 27 2016 18:15 utc | 1

Blocking all EU credits and support for the Turkish economy would bankrupt Erdogan's government within months.
Can't imagine that happening. Turkey being a largely agricultural country, it's difficult to bankrupt. Then again what would be the effect on the nearly 2 million Syrian refugees. That would cause problems, either because Erdogan launches them on Europe, or they start dying of hunger in large numbers. Or indeed if bankruptcy succeeded, you'd have a destabilised Turkey - yet another destabilised country on the borders of Europe. Lots of reasons for not attempting to destroy Erdogan, who is not exceptionally dangerous at the moment.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 27 2016 18:27 utc | 2

Egypt is an Arab country with a mostly Sunni population. Al Azhar represents the heart of Islam and is widely respected in the Islamic world.
Therefore the Egyptian army could be the best choice to ensure security in Sunni areas in Syria and Iraq freed by the national army, instead of the Sunni Turkish army.
Contrary to Turkey, Egypt is Arab and has no issue neither with the Shias nor with the Kurds.
It seems that Egypt is been prepared by the UN (EU and USA) to play this role both in Iraq and Syria so as to reassure the Sunnis in these areas who are worried about ill treatment from Alawites and Shia militias.

Posted by: virgile | Nov 27 2016 18:29 utc | 3

This is the beginning of the end of nato,uk,gcc,us neocons wet dreams!

Posted by: Nur Adlina | Nov 27 2016 18:29 utc | 4

In Libya and Syria the EU has clearly exposed its lack of knowledge and empathy for the Middle east just seen through the prism of 'democracy' and 'human rights', never in terms of "economy".
If the EU wants to stop immigration to their country, why don't they invest massively in these countries that they have ripped off for decades, so as to give jobs to all these youth who end up taking arms or risk death in the sea to escape misery.
The hypocrisy of the Western world is shocking. If terrorists end up in their countries and kill their citizens, their arrogant leaders bear the full responsibility.

Posted by: virgile | Nov 27 2016 18:40 utc | 5

"The EU is so disunited and without any foresight and vision.."

Indeed. The whole EU project was based on an illusion. The fact they decided to do a common currency with a common monetary policy across disparate nations with different productivity and economic abilities demonstrates clearly no foresight and common sense. This is what happens when political hacks, apparatchicks only interested in feathering their own nests and deluded academic ideologues come together in a political project.

Brexit was the first brick to be pulled. We'll see if the Italian referendum is rejected next week. And what Fillon or Le Pen will do. Fillon is being labeled the Maggie Thatcher of France with a promise to fire and cut back the parasitic French bureaucracy. Will the Euro and the EU survive these centrifugal forces?

Posted by: ab initio | Nov 27 2016 18:40 utc | 6

You report 2 pieces of fake news and a dubious assertion:

1. East of Aleppo city a Turkish move towards Al-Bab was halted by a Syrian airstrike under Russian protection.

‏@MIG29_ reports that Syrian Army denied Turkish allegation that Syria & Russia bombed its forces:

2. It is claimed that Egyptian air planes and helicopters relocated to an airport in the Syrian Hama governate.

‏@leithfadel:"I can confirm that the reports of Egyptian pilots and fighter jets arriving to Hama are false."

3. a president Trump likely to pull back support for the Jihadis in Syria

With the possible exception of Michael Flynn, everyone Trump has so far selected for his administration is pro-"rebel" & favors escalation (vehemently so).

Posted by: Mark | Nov 27 2016 18:52 utc | 7

I'll post this again because it's highly significant. The BBC has finally decided to recognize the Syrian government. Did they get a memo from Trump?

"Syrian government forces have retaken a second rebel-held district in eastern Aleppo, as thousands of civilians flee.
The army said it had "fully recaptured" Jabal Badro, a day after seizing Hanano district. A monitoring group said a third district had also been taken.
Analysts say there is a strong chance the army could cut off the northern part of the rebel stronghold from its southern part.
Many civilians are reportedly trying to enter government-held western Aleppo."

Posted by: dh | Nov 27 2016 18:53 utc | 8

The destruction of the last hospital for transsexual cats in Aleppo by a thermobaric barrel nuke must have been the tipping point of the fight.

LOL. Exactly!

Posted by: radiator | Nov 27 2016 19:15 utc | 9

Great article by MoA.

Hope to see the US and its Anglosphere and EU vassals run out of the MENA.

Even better hope to see the US out of the EU (out of NATO).

Posted by: AriusArmenian | Nov 27 2016 19:23 utc | 10

re 7

Fillon is being labeled the Maggie Thatcher of France with a promise to fire and cut back the parasitic French bureaucracy.
Don't believe it. Whatever he claims for electoral purposes, Fillon is more like T. May than M. Thatcher. Very conservative and traditional, I doubt he would really want to see everything thrown up in the air in the French economy. Sarkozy did want that revolution, but didn't succeed. Why should doormat Fillon do better? He might ally with more revolutionary Macron though.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 27 2016 19:49 utc | 11

The lame duck who said he wanted to talk with Putin and help stop the war in Syria just won the French right-wing party primary. His rival, Juppé, is old and was deep into the Libyan story. People are fed up with wars.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 27 2016 19:53 utc | 12

When offered the choice, a lot of the Syrian refugees in the Turkish camps will go back to Syria, no matter in how much dire conditions. Even from the few interviews we heard from the people who arrived in the camps in Greece and some of those who had arrived to Germany were willing to go back.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 27 2016 20:12 utc | 13

great, Tom rebranded himself as Mark after the hilarious spank he got previous thread

Posted by: ratatat | Nov 27 2016 20:26 utc | 14

Ref EU lack of empathy and hypocrisy: in 5 years they can't find any Arabs in the streets to ask their opinions; no interview of the refugees; no attempt to report from the real frontlines. If real journalists had just picked up their phones and asked the Kurds in Iraq and Syria those would have described the systematic use of chemicals making a yellow smoke when daesh attacked Eastern Syria and the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq.
The EU was engaged in regime chance early 2011 with the Ivory Coast, which France offered on a golden plate to the US, destroying a stable country and shooting itself in the foot. Then it continued blindly following: Sarkozy with his half-brother working for Carlyle, then the Atlantist Hollande (who skipped the EU crisis meeting of the post-Trump election, imitating Johnson, whose reasons were more obvious, after speaking "manly" against Trump when he first got the results).
There is no EU anymore. Western and Southern EU are not ready to sign blank checks to the future wars of paranoid conservative Eastern Europeans (who accept EU money but skip EU general elections with 50-70 percent abstentionism)

Posted by: Mina | Nov 27 2016 20:38 utc | 15

To all the nay sayers and to those wondering why the Alepo campaign was moving so slow, the video of an SAA solder meeting his family for the first time in years should conclude this matter. SAA is made up of all of Syrians (Sunni, and all other minorities) the beseiged Alepo has families of this same soldiers, we now have proof of that.
Unlike the NATO coliation who, in the name of saving a baby throws both the baby and the water out, this Russian led Alepo campaing has been very thorough and careful to limit civilain deaths. Also the MSM who told us there are over 200K civilians stuck in Alepo, the evidence has shown the contrary, of the liberated parts, only a couple thousand civilians were sill there. Hopefully this campaign continues at the current pace and certain victory in near time.

Posted by: Blk | Nov 27 2016 20:53 utc | 16

The Saudis writing to the Vatican to say they will give orders to protect the Christians who participate to the anti-Assad demonstrations (with the success we know)
Riyas al-As'ad, FSA chief, offering his services early 2012 to the Saudis (his chance to finally become a millionaire!) by describing the Syrian governement as "Safavids, Zoroastrians and Freemasons" (the safavids were a shiite dynasty who managed to block the expansionist Sunni Ottomans in the 16th c)

Posted by: Mina | Nov 27 2016 21:05 utc | 17

I suspect that military value of Egyptian aid for Syria will be similar as the value of their aid to Saudi-lead coalition that works to "restore the legitimate government in Yemen". Diplomatically, this is a watershed. Within Muslim world, Shia-Sunni division is mostly the preoccupation of the Gulfies and some fanatics in Pakistan (and Afghanistan), but the Gulfie petrodollars were obscuring it. No more.

For al-Sisi, this gesture is a great payback to Erdogan and Gulfie princes (he got some billions from the latter, but they imagined that he will become a puppet and there were discussions how to replace him).

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 27 2016 21:12 utc | 18

The macron is used in the orthography of a number of vernacular languages of the Solomon Islands and Vanuatu, particularly those first transcribed by Anglican missionaries. The macron has no unique value, and is simply used to distinguish between two different phonemes.

So the French may get a Macron revolution with no specified value?

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 27 2016 21:20 utc | 19

Egypt has a direct interest in arresting the Egyptian djihadists in Idlib or Raqqa before they come home. You can bet there are thousands of them, some who travelled from Libya and some who went there under Morsi.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 27 2016 21:22 utc | 20

Often in wars, bystanders wait until the tide turns and jump in with the winners. Even The Misbegotten State is getting into the act. Previously, terrorists would lob mortars in, knowing Israel would attack the SAA for not "maintaining control". Now the Reptilian media is trumpeting the I"D"F's attack on actual terrorists.

Posted by: ruralito | Nov 27 2016 21:51 utc | 21

Another issue to remember is that at the moment, Egypt has zero-tourist, i.e. in many areas of the countries, some people are probably starving (they are almost 100 millions). The reason of this is that 2 planes have been downed by terrorists who managed to plant bombs in it: a Russian plane leaving from Sharm al Shaykh to Petersburg and an Egyptian plane coming from Paris to Cairo. The Egyptian governement probably know that this could not have happened without at least a number of people in the GCC goverments knowing about it.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 27 2016 22:05 utc | 22

Yet another piece of fake information by RT! and they dare quoting British MPs and The Observer!

Posted by: Mina | Nov 27 2016 22:19 utc | 23

The key date in all this is Jan 20,2017. Once Trump's in the catbird eat we will see what we will see.

One should bear in mind that the Donald has backtracked or reneged on damn near all of his promises he repeated day after day on the hustings. Obamacare doesn't look so bad, Hillary's too nice to put in jail and now he's courting Mitt for the secretary job. It could signal that he's not as enamored of Putin as he was on the trail. Even if the pushback from within the party wins out and he goes with Patreaus or Rudy instead there was a message there for some.

It might be a tad premature to assume that Trump will be willing to cede all America's interests in the Levant. There's no chance that he would allow Israel's security to be compromised in any fashion. Assad and Putin are doing the only smart thing by trying to establish new facts on the ground before Trump takes the reins. Because he might be convinced by advisors that taking Raqqa and its environs for the "coalition" might be a good investment for future American influence. Maybe it doesn't behoove him to allow Assad to recapture the whole of the country. Would that eventually include the Golan Heights? We're not getting that fantastical I hope.

So maybe Donald the deal maker and Putin the old KGB apparatchik can make some sense of it all. A lot would depend on Israel's thoughts on any Egyptian involvement in a Syrian war. They're already in a dither about Hezbollah's becoming an even bigger threat due to it's growing sophistication in weapons and tactics. There's a fine line that everybody will have to walk. Lets not break out the champagne yet.

Posted by: peter | Nov 27 2016 22:20 utc | 24

The EU is so disunited and without any foresight and vision that it can not even handle the blackmailing by the wannabe Sultan of Turkey. Blocking all EU credits and support for the Turkish economy would bankrupt Erdogan's government within months. Putin has shown how to handle the dude. How come no one in in Brussels (or Berlin) has learned from that?

Putin's policy is about the interests of Russia. EU policies are about enriching certain individuals and asserting Brussels control over the peons. EU sanctions to Turkey will make those certain individuals a bit poorer and estrange even more the peons in Turkey.

Posted by: Erlindur | Nov 27 2016 22:35 utc | 25

b is back!

Great post b ... I'll be re-reading and following links for quite a while. The Muslim Brotherhood seems fascinating, I need to learn a lot more about them.

Turkey has been told in no uncertain words to pull back from its Syria (and Iraq) plans.

No link there, though. Have you just surmised that from the action on the ground? It would be great to 'know' that Turkey has been tamed.

I admit that I thought your reading of the tea-leaves on the French-built Russian ships was a bit far-fetched at the time ... now, not so much. I certainly want to believe that we're seeing the end of this monstrous war, and with it the monstrous Bush/Obama campaign of DDD in the MENA ... the end of US Deceit is too much to ask. It looks as though the end will come with or without Trump's help. Trump is on a par with Erdogan in my opinion, unpredictable, a loose cannon. Maybe the neolibracons will have him housebroken by inauguration day. If the heavy lifting in Syria is completed over then next 54 days and present Trump with a fait accompli which he can blame on Obama and get on with it.

The intriguing part is after the war is over. I remember the old UAR, and some sort of cooperation along those lines could change the realities in the MENA. Russia is acting as the deal maker, and - literally - the supporter under arms of last resort. Russia has no superpower delusions, as does the USSA, as did the USSR, it is quietly pointing the way out from underneath any superpower, and demonstrating how it can work.

I added that last paragraph in an effort to boost your Pro-Porno-t(eam) standing as a 'reliable echo of Russian propaganda' ;)

Posted by: jfl | Nov 27 2016 22:53 utc | 26

They can still discuss about their plans for the Christmas holidays when the Friends of Syria, which France has called to hold an urgent meeting, meet next week

Posted by: Mina | Nov 27 2016 22:57 utc | 27

@6 Virgile, 'If the EU wants to stop immigration to their country, why don't they invest massively in these countries that they have ripped off for decades, so as to give jobs to all these youth who end up taking arms or risk death in the sea to escape misery.'

Russia's 'Marshall plan' for the ME. When they've finished with Syria, those Egyptian Mistrals and the Russian heavy Cruiser might sail down to the Gaza coast, break the blockade, and ensure Palestinian access to the Mediterranean, offshore gas, the world, and the new EU Marshall Plan for Palestine and the Middle East.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 27 2016 22:58 utc | 28

Picture of the day. The east of Aleppo has been split into two zones, the northern one will just have a few extremely disheartened takfiris, the other have fled south taking minimal weaponry with them.

Colonel Cassad also rerorts that Mohamad Rafa, leader of Liwa al Quds, a Palestinian group working with the SAA, was killed today. He had recently been commended by the Russians for his actions. A sad loss, RIP.

Posted by: Yonatan | Nov 27 2016 22:59 utc | 29

'The strongly U.S. influenced European Council for Foreign Affairs just put out a new paper on Syria aimed at EU governments: The First Trump Test - European Policy And The Siege Of Aleppo.

The sub-headline reads:

There is no longer any real hope of deposing Assad. Europe must instead work towards an ugly deal that salvages something for the Syrian people.'

so the European Council for Foreign Affairs cares for syrian people?!

Posted by: brian | Nov 27 2016 23:02 utc | 30

The best line in the report is "In many ways the writing has been on the wall for some time, but only now - with the end of any dream of a Clinton-led military intervention - can it be truly internalised."
And the top menu of their website, showing the high importance they give to wishful thinking: one section for "European Power" supposedly for the European news (and not for their electricity or oil problems) and "Wider Europe" for the rest of the world they'd like to embrace their neo-colonialism (i.e. the whole world but "Asia and China" and these troublesome "Middle East and North Africa").

For the Muslim Brother, you can google "Angry Arab" and "Muslim Brothers", you'll get to a number of articles by As'ad Abu Khalil and to other sites offering interesting information. There are also some history books.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 27 2016 23:18 utc | 31 said yesterday about east Aleppo city: "Given the current rate of advance, the SAA could recapture Aleppo entirely in the matter of a few months. However, according to an Al-Masdar source embedded with the Tiger Forces, the SAA's Military High Command will sue for diplomatic solution for the relatively densely populated rebel-held neighbourhoods of Old Aleppo." [emphasis added by me].

According to a source reported by Reuters, numerous civilians who were living in the northeastern portion of east Aleppo city -- when that portion became a fire-zone -- moved themselves to the more safe southern portion of rebel-held east Aleppo city, and they made this move in preference to moving to a government controlled area. The number of civilians who did this is not quantified.

As a matter of Syrian govt policy, when rebel-held territory comes under govt control and the territory sits on the border of a warfront, the local civilians are strongly encouraged to leave the territory, as part of govt policy to move women and children to safe and secure areas. I've seen some pictures of the civilians who moved in recent days from east Aleppo to gov't controlled areas. It's not clear the extent to which these civilians were living in areas that newly came under govt control, as opposed to civilians living in areas that are still not under govt control. The difference is not to be slighted. 'B' asserts bogusly: "About 1,500 civilians escaped from east-Aleppo towards the SAA." His source is info from SANA that puts it more wisely: "Army units secure departure route for 1500 people from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo city." An unquantified but substantial percentage of the 1500 civilians were living in areas that are now newly under govt control.

As I said, I've seen pictures of some of the 1500 civilians. They look like ordinary Aleppo citizens. Those pictures have prodded me to think that there are in fact very substantial numbers of civilians still living in east Aleppo city.

As 'B' said some months ago, east Aleppo city has had no electricity, no running water, a scarcity of essential living commodities, very little that would drive economic activity except for supplying basics to the rebel fighters, and of course there's the exposure to getting killed by bombs and crossfire between govt and rebels. We know that the great bulk of Aleppo civilians didn't support the uprising in 2011. The number that moved to support it belately in 2012 was smallish. And so I'd suppose that any civilians would be crazy to continue living in the east Aleppo city area this past year. 'B' supposes this too. But on the other hand, it's very well documented and I hope uncontested that really large numbers of civilians remained living in east Aleppo after it came under rebel control 2012, and they remained living there in really large numbers in 2014, diminishing in 2015 and 2016. I repeat, the pictures I've seen today are making me think the numbers in November 2016 remain substantial.

'B' has repeatedly asserted, but has never demonstrated, that the civilian numbers in east Aleppo are "small". As far I know, the Syrian govt has never published an estimate. If it is correct that the Syrian govt has never published an estimate, one can take that as a signal that the number is actually not "small". It is easy in the real world to do an estimate: ask a couple of native Aleppo people, who knew the rebel-held areas before the war, to take a walk around and quantify the decrease in the civilian numbers on the streets and the increase in empty buildings.

I say 'B' is, once again, "shooting from the hip" and attitudinizing and bloviating. Once again, I'm not straight-up saying he wrong, I'm saying he's talking without having enough ''tatsachen'' for what he is saying. Tatsachen is German for reliable facts.

Posted by: Ghubar Shabih | Nov 27 2016 23:20 utc | 32

With its population surplus, Egypt can supply vast - in fact, almost endless - numbers of soldiers. If Russians promised to cover all of their equipment/gear losses at cost, Syrian campaign is the best training the Egyptian military can ever get in order to morph into a real fighting force. Sisi is definitely starting to look like a statesman.

Posted by: telescope | Nov 27 2016 23:49 utc | 33

OT. b, did you know MoA is listed?

Greenwald has an article about ProporNot a spooky anti-propaganda website being pushed by the Washington Post.

MoA is on the list of Russian propaganda sites.

Posted by: Denis | Nov 27 2016 23:50 utc | 34

Sorry, here is the link to the propornot list

Posted by: Denis | Nov 28 2016 0:13 utc | 35

@32 Mina,

Thanks for the pointer on the MB, I found one tangentially interesting one here at MoA
Egypt: Repressing the Muslim Brotherhood
. Interesting to read the comments from the good old days.

I take the European Council on Foreign relations to be the US in drag telling the EU and whatever individual European states it can dragoon just what they 'must do' ...

The first Trump test: European policy and the Siege of Aleppo

The immediate aim must be a deal over Aleppo that averts a humanitarian catastrophe already well advanced. This may need to involve more active engagement in negotiations aimed at evacuating a core group of rebel fighters.

First priority is to get their 'core group of rebel fighters' - US/EU mercs - out of Aleppo ...

Staffan de Mistura, the UN Special envoy for Syria, whose mandate is based on the pursuit of a transition, has himself now called for "a completely new approach" with a focus on “political devolution”. ... A process of devolution would aim to offer some – though clearly not all - opposition forces enough local autonomy to secure their buy-in for some form of de-escalation even with Assad remaining in power.

...then set up the 'left behinds' - a la Operation Gladio - to cause trouble after the war is 'over'.

Then their 'intelligence' assessment ...

Some in Europe will now point to the alternative possibility of Turkish and Saudi initiatives to strengthen the opposition ... But this ... mistakes the level of ongoing commitment by these regional players to the anti-Assad fight.

Turkey and Saudi were in it for the DD&D, mission accomplished. Neither one has the stomach for a real war just to change governments in Syria (never did? Just in it - like the EU - at US instigation?).

Turkey, for its part, is now more invested in securing control of a strip of territory in northern Syria as part of an anti-Kurdish ... drive that has already seen it divert significant rebel resources away from the Aleppo front ... Ankara has shown little appetite for a wider push against Assad, nor a new confrontation with Russia given the recent patching up of a relationship that is so economically important.

Erdogan wants more Kurds under his 'control'(nuts isn't he?) and he's tactically lost to the Russians, right now.

Riyadh, meanwhile, remains consumed by the Yemen conflict, a struggle of far greater strategic importance to the Kingdom, as well as internal challenges including a much-needed economic reform programme. Over recent months the Kingdom has slowly but surely disengaged from the Syria conflict, and while it could reassert itself, it is hard to imagine a meaningful commitment of strength given the competing pressures it faces.

Yemen is 'a struggle of far greater strategic importance to the Kingdom'? Of far greater monetary importance to the US/UK MIC, perhaps. 'Internal challenges' ... much more interesting. The site of the next color revolution? Now that Syria is so 'over'.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 28 2016 0:29 utc | 36

@jfl | Nov 27, 2016 7:29:46 PM | 37

Interesting assessment. :-)

The site of the next color revolution? Now that Syria is so 'over'. China?

Posted by: Jack Smith | Nov 28 2016 2:06 utc | 37

b - thanks... especially interesting your comments on egypts possible involvement/s and your comments on erdogans position here.. the anniversary timing of the russian jet that was shot down is indeed interesting here..

@ mina.. thanks for your many comments.

@8 mark - your twitter links are from 2 or 3 days ago.. hard to know what the latest update to them are, but thanks. as for point 3 - that is true.. it is too early to know just what trump will do here.

@2 ratatat.. funny! @15 - i doubt that is tom who was never as articulate..

@33 ghubar shabih... well, you can believe the lying western msm which is regularly saying another hospital has been bombed, and that around 1/4 million people are still in east aleppo, or you can consider an alternative scenario and number.. do you critic the msm in the same way you do b? i doubt it.. you come across as the one bloviating here.

Posted by: james | Nov 28 2016 2:21 utc | 38

@38 JS

I was thinking Saudi Arabia. A pushover, militarily. And to the victors belong the spoils. After all the wars pure aggression is no longer a problem, it's second nature. Goes without saying, just as it did in the 'election campaign', Bernie never mentioned 'war', did he? Clinton certainly didn't. Trump says he doesn't want war with Russia, but said 'I would just take the oil,' didn't he? Speaking about Iraq and Iran, but oil is oil. There's something they can all agree on.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 28 2016 2:49 utc | 39

>>>>> Ghubar Shabih | Nov 27, 2016 6:20:10 PM | 33

Martin Chulov of The Guardian on his last visits to eastern Aleppo had difficulty in finding anyone to talk too that had been present on previous visits and he reckoned there were about 40,000 people left in eastern Aleppo.
The SOHR is now reporting that about 10,000 people have fled the rebel/terrorist held areas for the government (~4000) and Kurdish (~6000) held areas. The actual numbers published by the SOHR are usually fairly accurate, it's just the way they define civilians that is a problem. Either a lot of people preferred to stay in the areas recently occupied by the SAA or rebel control is breaking down.

Posted by: Ghostship | Nov 28 2016 2:55 utc | 40

Anyone who thinks I'm Mark is a gullible dipshit. No wonder trash gets posted here. Trash is brain food for morons.

b keeps lying without evidence about remaing Aleppo population.

I already provided venessa Beeley testimony for that evidence over a month ago. Why never use it b ? Does b think Beelley sources are liars. Please name those again since i already posted here.

Posted by: tom | Nov 28 2016 3:40 utc | 41

@ peter | Nov 27, 2016 5:20:09 PM | 25

I agree that it's far from clear what Trump's ME policies will look like. Governments change, geopolitical interests stay the same - Washington wants some ally in the region, and for the moment the Kurds seem to be the BFF du jour. SAA better gain as much terrain as possible before Jan. 20th to block any possibility for future 'coalition' advances.

Posted by: smuks | Nov 28 2016 3:47 utc | 42

@ jfl | Nov 27, 2016 5:58:59 PM | 29

Europe doesn't have the strength for such an initiative. It'll be up to China to rebuild the ME, maybe others will join as they do in OBOR. The Saudis face the choice of either collapsing or accepting Chinese 'protection'/ vassalage. After all they already have some amount of Chinese weapons.

The assumption that Yemen is of 'greater strategic importance' to Riyadh seems accurate to me. The Houthis are traditional enemies of the Saudis, their rise to power on their southern border threatens the unity of the kingdom and its dominance over the peninsula. Winning Syria would have been a huge boost to their power, but it is farther away.

Egypt is taking care of Russia's Mistrals...I guess sometimes the most obvious just can't be pronounced openly 'in polite company'.

Don't worry about ECFR, its role is too obvious for anyone in Europe to take it seriously.

Posted by: smuks | Nov 28 2016 4:06 utc | 43

People seem to already celebrate the end of Syrian war or rather useless stupid and nonsensical war with a quarter million dead, a war concocted on Hilary, "the killer" Clinton desk.

But I think such an optimism is naive, all depends whether or not Trump is willing and able to neutralized massive momentum among insane neocons toward confrontation between east and west soon before inherent weakness of US military and economy is visible to all. So prepare for a fight and if neocons win, pressed to the wall they will get rid of the veneer of democratic process before their game of mortal bullying and military intimidation will be unleashed toward horrific end.

Posted by: Kalen | Nov 28 2016 5:07 utc | 44

Sincere thanks for the VERY comprehensive Syria roundup, b.
There's been a dearth of reporting from the anti-Assad Western-aligned MSM but, reading between the lines and beyond the sour grapes, whining and whingeing, it was ALMOST obvious that US-NATO's proxy war scheme was unravelling a lot quicker than the Masters Of The Universe predicted, or could anticipate and/or prevent.

Yinon is looking pretty shaky too. Last week wild fires in Jewish-occupied Palestine obliged Bibi to accept a Russian offer to send a couple of water bombers to "Israel" to help fight the fires (and take thousands of close-up photos of potential targets) just in case Bibi starts believing too much of his own bullshit about the true allegiances of his New Best Friend, Russia.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 28 2016 5:39 utc | 45

The moderate Alain Juppe has conceded defeat after being overwhelmingly beaten in the French Republican primaries by the right-winger Francois Fillon in a well-attended national vote.
Provisional results from 9421 voting stations out of 10,228 gave Fillon 66.9 percent of the vote, and Juppe 33.1.
"France can't bear its decline. It wants truth and it wants action," said Fillon in his victory speech, as supporters chanted "Fillon President!" repeatedly. "I defend France's values. Our rebirth will be the work of everyone."

Posted by: okie farmer | Nov 28 2016 5:45 utc | 46

The western media says that there are about 250.000 people in East Aleppo. Yesterday it turns out that there are max 30.000 ppl. US backed moderate rebels who looted Aleppo and who expelled civilians from this city - this is a symbol of the whole fake revolution.

"moderate rebels", "250.000 people in East Aleppo", "last hospital in Alepoo" # fake news # western propaganda

Posted by: blue beam | Nov 28 2016 5:56 utc | 47

Excellent news and report b. Idem for Magnier's article. Many thanks.

Posted by: lozion | Nov 28 2016 6:02 utc | 48


I guess you're right about Europe ... they're like the USA ... deal truly vast DD&D and then walk away like nothing happened. Upset about those damned 'refugees' though! You may be right about China. They'll be the only ones left standing with any money in the end. Like the US after WW II and the original Marshall Plan.

I remain unconvinced that there was ever any 'good' reason for USaudi aggression against Yemen. trining for the Saudi forces? The Houthis have goiven them plenty of that. Business for the US MIC? The Saudis have blown their wad there.

I guess the Russians may have been the buyers all along for the Mistrals? I'd wondered what was up there, I'd thought the Saudis had been ... then the break. A leap of faith for the Russians, though, no?

I agree with you on the ECFR ... except that I do believe the EU takes it seriously. Just look at all the stupid things the EU has done with regard to foreign policy, coincident with ECFR instruction ... 'We have relations with all dictatorships because we need to organize, to co-organize the world.' Jean-Claude Juncker. Their 'co-organizer' sends them directions, the EU takes them. No hope there until Europe re-organizes itself, forget about the world.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 28 2016 6:07 utc | 49

Thanks for the ME report b.

I have read this information being shared here about the implications of Trump calling for EU nations to fully fund NATO

the ZH link:

The quote:
First, when looking at the impact of Trump, Barclays notes that his election as US president may have created an additional burden on European budgets: defence spending.

The president-elect has suggested that European NATO members should reach the 2% GDP military spending target, as pledged under the NATO treaty. In 2015, the 22 EU countries that are also NATO members spent on average only 1.4% of GDP on defence, or 1.3% excluding the UK, while the US spent 3.6%. This is a shortfall of USD94bn, or 0.7% of the total GDP of EU-NATO members.

Those countries whose debt to GDP ratios already exceed 100% (Italy, Spain and Portugal) are also the ones with low defence spending and would need to add 0.7-1.1% of GDP in defence spending if they were to reach the 2% target....
Another quote from the article:
It's not just Trump's NATO policies: there is also the impact of the ECB's QE which sooner or later will be tapered off. That, however, will result in the tide going out, and exposing just how naked Europe's economies have been all along.

We are living in interesting times.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 28 2016 6:17 utc | 50

@ me who needs to proofread his comments before hitting Post

Please add a NOT read to the first sentence.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Nov 28 2016 6:19 utc | 51

Looks like the SAA has just taken control of another East Aleppo district, Haydariyah.
Jihadist defenses are crumbling fast so it seems.. :)

Posted by: Lozion | Nov 28 2016 7:00 utc | 52

Am reading tweets now about Al Shakur also being liberated this is going faster then I thought..

Posted by: Lozion | Nov 28 2016 7:32 utc | 53

@45: As this post of b's illustrates, the tables have turned. Regardless of what the neo-cons may want, the war in Syria will largely be a fait accompli by January 20. It is now clear that Obama will not be able to deliver the war they want.

As far as the upcoming administration goes, I'm fairly optimistic. I see Trump being more common-sense evolutionary than revolutionary so there will be some face-saving bluster and bumps in the road, with Iran being a prime example.

I sense a turning of the tide, however, and it will be very hard to hold it back. The Western elites are reeling on their heels. Nothing is certain, but things look very good in the medium term.

Posted by: woogs | Nov 28 2016 7:46 utc | 54

jfl 37
I stand corrected, that is indeed the best quote of the report! " This may need to involve more active engagement in negotiations aimed at evacuating a core group of rebel fighters."

B's MB post is still true, but for one detail: the MB had many snipers, I am not sure about the army. It was really a time when a soldier or a policeman avoided walking alone in an alien environment. A film recently came out that is trying to show the absurdity of the whole violence, which was unevitable. It is called Ishtibaak in Arabic and Clash for the French release. Probably same in English.

About Aleppo, the electricty/water problems have been the same on both sides of the city and the rebels lost any credibility when they repeatdely shooted at the water tanks and destroyed the power plants or killed the employees coming to repair them. Watching Sky or other cable channels we've seen "rebels" explaining us that "schools have been closed for 2 days... it is the first time in all these years..." and other BS, so I wonder I you run a city as normal if really the circumstances are what the MSM were spreading.
I believe the Chulov (a Russian spy embedded at the Guardian, certainly).
Another way the rebels lost credibility in the very early months of the insurrection was by allowing/helping the Turks to actually LOOT the whole industrial zone of Aleppo, taking everything including chairs to Turkey. Same plan as what the Kuwaiti did in retaliation of the Iraqis, sending buses of people to loot and destroy whatever they could.This was documented by Robert Fisk and in a film which I highly recommend:

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 10:02 utc | 55

The Reuters interview of the Qatari minister, linked by B is simply.... words can't express...
It makes Albert Cossery's An Ambition in the Desert a necessary reading.
(seems that particular book has not been translated; the other ones are worth reading too but this one describes a small Gulf monarchy whose emir is bitter about never finding the name of his country in the newspapers and starts to organize bombings here and there to make it happen).

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 10:07 utc | 56

This very good news. A secondary plus is that it means the neocons who deserted the repubs and joined Hillary have now experienced another major defeat. Fifteen years of hard work up in smoke. November, 2016 is probably the worst month of their lives for most of them. For those who avoided the humiliation of Hillary's defeat there is a chance that this Syrian fiasco will teach them some humility and should they end up in the new admin encourage them to stop their advocacy for war in the mideast.

Posted by: ToivoS | Nov 28 2016 11:06 utc | 57


The whole norther part of the east-Aleppo cauldron has now been completely retaken by the Syrian government. That is 40+% of the area the Jihadis held two days ago.

Only a few thousand civilians were found and now mostly moved to the western part. Some local rebel groups gave up their weapons and were moved - many towards the government aligned Kurdish district. De-mining is ongoing.

Expect more such progress up to the old city district. The foreign Jihadis in east-Aleppo are reported to retreat to that for a huge last stand. The SAA is expected to leave that part for later negotiations as a storming would be too costly in casualties.

A lot of the progress came because local people long cooperated with the SAA. The recent bombing could thereby systematically take out ammo depots and Jihadi strongholds. This helped immensely.

Posted by: b | Nov 28 2016 11:29 utc | 58

Vanessa Beeley says 200,000 "or maybe even less" and "At least a quarter of that, if not more, are terrorists and their families." ( Martin Chulov of the Graun has indicated very low figures indeed for civilians. It may not be too long before we get something near the truth, but the MSM are unlikely to reveal it.

Posted by: Shakesvshav | Nov 28 2016 11:38 utc | 59

Sorting the embarrassing material in Kuwait
These were found in August but there is still heavy fighting around Manbij according to Daesh daily

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 11:56 utc | 60


Good news, b! Thanks for keeping us up to date.

Posted by: jfl | Nov 28 2016 12:00 utc | 61

The old city of Aleppo borders the Christian neighborhood where the "Jewellery market" was. It also has the old suqs, which have been looted and occupied from the very beginning. The Christians left quickly when the kidnapping business started (from the very beginning of the insurrection). The old city was already a little populated area, small building and old houses. I doubt there are much people there.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 12:00 utc | 62

@jfl / 50

Change that to "They (the Chinese) *are* the only ones left standing with any money in the end." - it's already happening, look at all the Chinese infrastructure investment around the world. ;-)

The Saudis feel threatened by the increasing Shiite dominance in the ME, the idea of an Iranian ally on their southern border scares them crazy (and rightfully so). Which is why the US govt lured them into that trap imo, together with its old ally Saleh. US-Saudi relations have long soured, but so far they're dependent on one another.

"A leap of faith for the Russians, though, no?" - not really, relations have been improving for years. Malaysia was the alternative for caretaker. No idea who paid them, doesn't really matter.

You underestimate the Europeans. They (well, not all of course) understand the game quite clearly, and they have their own think tanks. Trouble is, the EU is in a delicate situation: It has to maintain good relations with both the US and China/ Russia to act as an intermediate and defuse arising tensions. So far it's doing a fairly good job at that.

Posted by: smuks | Nov 28 2016 15:29 utc | 63

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, still foreign minister, did exactly the same earlier this year when he criticised the rather small Nato operation in eastern Europe as sabre-rattling. If Vladimir Putin ever attacked a Nato member states, there is no way the likes of Steinmeier would vote in the Bundestag for Germany to participate in a Nato operation against Russia.

Posted by: okie farmer | Nov 28 2016 16:17 utc | 64

The BBC is still at it, giving credence to the 'Observatory', tugging the heartstrings with 7 year old Bana, and quoting the White Helmets as though they were the gospel in these matters:

Posted by: Shakesvshav | Nov 28 2016 16:21 utc | 65

@45 kalen and @55 woogs.. thanks for your comments.. i tend to see it more like woogs.

@59 b.. thanks for the update..

mina, thanks for the ongoing comments and info..

Posted by: james | Nov 28 2016 16:27 utc | 66

I think at this point it's fair to say the rats' fake revolution is over.. Syria will be where the West regime change program gets defeated and never to be attempted again in the region for another 50 years!!!

Their stronghold in Aleppo is now split in half and surrounded on all sides with many civilians they've been using as human shield fleeing from their grip. Oddly, yet not surprising enough, no Western msm have interviewed any of the civilians that have escaped - the very same civilians they've been complaining about for months now. All we hear from them is this fictitious character called "bana" and her plight on twitter.. It's not about the pet hospitals anymore!

Once this war is over, the Syrian/Iraqi army will be one of the most formidable forces in the region. Israel, Jordan and Even Turkey wouldn't last a year what Syria's been through. Better days ahead :)

Posted by: Zico | Nov 28 2016 16:32 utc | 67

Mina, witch book would recommend from Albert Cossery?

Posted by: okie farmer | Nov 28 2016 16:48 utc | 68

This one is excellent
Mendiants et Orgueilleux (1955)

Proud Beggars, translation by Thomas W. Cushing, Black Sparrow Press (1981), translation fixed by Alyson Waters New York Review Books (2011)

(no idea if the Eng translation is good)
The film made from it Beggars and Noblemen (1991) by Asmaa El-Bakry is wonderful

(i haven't read all of them. wish i had time! maybe getting offline could help?!)

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 17:04 utc | 69

Is it only the Syrian conflict that has rendered bullying the new normal? Or is it just that it is facilitated by the so-called 'social' media?

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 17:44 utc | 70

Smuks 64 "The Saudis feel threatened by the increasing Shiite dominance in the ME, the idea of an Iranian ally on their southern border scares them crazy (and rightfully so)."

inscreasing? they ve been living at ease with the Shah of Iran and the Yemeni Imam who ruled from Sanaa until the 60s. Did they have expantionist policy? no.
They are freaking because a huge part of their own population has Yemeni origins + they ve always considered that the unexploited Yemeni oil is theirs + the Red Sea/ Bab al Mandeb transit, which is the reason why the Gulf has been creating troubles to Yemen via Eritrea for decades.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 18:00 utc | 71

re Mina 57 and the Qatari interview. The Qatari was just pissing in the wind, to be crude. That was probably what you meant. The Qataris are rather crude, more so than their neighbours. The Qataris are not situated to launch a new initiative on the war in Syria. Like the other Gulf states, they are out of cash, with the decline in the oil price.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 28 2016 18:10 utc | 72

They manage very well to send pocket money via all their MB relays in Turkey and Iraq. And more importantly, it seems the UK and French gov and elite seem to buy their expansionist dream (do they need fields? maybe buying agriculturial land of starving Ethiopians and Sudanese is not enough?)Or maybe the GCC thinks that a big entity on the EU model, with Israel as a peaceful partner and bantustans on the model of Indian natives' reserves for the Palestinians would be a great solution?

on a related issue, more Russian propaganda (they've infiltrated the WFO, the London School of Economics and the Independent this time):

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 18:27 utc | 73

re 64 and 71

the increasing Shiite dominance in the ME
As Mina says, absolute nonsense. As I've said many times on MoA, though it doesn't seem to have penetrated to smuks, the Gulfi fear of the Shi'a is very specific. I wouldn't agree with Mina that it is Yemen; that is another derivative product, though I understand why Mina, who is Egyptian as far as I know, would be more interested in the affairs of the west of the Arabian peninsula. No, it is simple:

1) in Bahrain, the majority population is Shi'a and the minority Sunni regime is holding them down by force, for fear of losing their oil revenues.

2) The oil fields in Saudi Arabia are all, really all, located in their Eastern Province on the Gulf. Unfortunately the main population there is Shi'a. The Saudis would be down the drain, if the Shi'a had any control of their own affairs. The Saudis in Riyadh, which has no resources, would be back to being camel herders.

3) All the Gulfi Sunnis are Salafis, of which Wahhabis are a sub-group, and peculiarly intolerant of any other variety of Islam. Saudi princes have frequently talked of exterminating the Shi'a from the face of the earth, as if that could be done. Religion and economic interests go together.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 28 2016 18:47 utc | 74

They manage very well to send pocket money via all their MB relays in Turkey and Iraq.
If it is only pocket money for the Qataris, then OK. But I doubt that it is only pocket money. Rolling back the Syrians in Aleppo will involve more serious investment, which I doubt that they have.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 28 2016 19:27 utc | 75

Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have abandoned the rebels in Aleppo, each for a different reason. Turkey is now aligned with Russia and have abandoned its 'coalition' with Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is squeezed in all side and losing the Yemen war. Kuwait has now an official Islamist opposition made of salafist and Moslem brotherhood. They are now part of the government and can't covertly support the Islamists in Syria.

Only Qatar pleads it will continue arming the rebels. It fears that Idlib is the last bastion where most of the MB followers have found refuge is next after Aleppo. Yet Qatar's promise is void because Turkey will not allow weapons to cross its borders anymore.

Posted by: virgile | Nov 28 2016 19:37 utc | 76

Reading more and more like the last stages pf the Spanish Civil War. The rebels' morale was probably broken by Trump's election victory. I suspect that until then they were hanging on in hopes that Hillary becoming President would change their prospects.

Posted by: lysias | Nov 28 2016 19:38 utc | 77

I was quite interested by b's intelligent remark that the Syrians won't follow up by an attack on the old city, as causing too many casualties. A follow-up attack, while the fleeing jihadis are still shaky, is inevitable. Letting them re-establish confidence would be a mistake. The southern eastern suburbs are a possibility. But a total collapse is not beyond the bounds of possibility. Today was a demonstration that jihadis can run, and not fight to the death.

Posted by: Laguerre | Nov 28 2016 19:48 utc | 78

It is nice that made it to the list of "avoid" sites compiled by ProPornoT.

However, what is MoonOfAlabama doing next to this one:

Are both anti-Porno? Not really, NutritionFacts seems to have a singular obsession: recommend soy beans in all circumstances. Nothing particularly wrong with that, just it has nothing to do with pornography, Russia etc.

Posted by: Piotr Berman | Nov 28 2016 20:05 utc | 80

De Facto NATO “Invasion” of Syria? US, Turkey Military Operations in Syria Are Intervention

Busy today. If this has already been posted please excuse.

Posted by: ALberto | Nov 28 2016 20:21 utc | 81

jfl @ 29 thought..

"Russia's 'Marshall plan' for the ME. When they've finished with Syria, those Egyptian Mistrals and the Russian heavy Cruiser might sail down to the Gaza coast, break the blockade, and ensure Palestinian access to the Mediterranean, offshore gas, the world, and the new EU Marshall Plan for Palestine and the Middle East."

From your thoughts, to the universal ear hopefully!

Denis @ 35: MofA a Russian propagana site? Even if true, so what? Someone, somewhere, needs to blunt the drive of the evil empire towards global hegemony, and help usher in a multi-polar world.

Posted by: ben | Nov 28 2016 20:25 utc | 82

There are serious reasons to be happy today

The pattern has been, for 5 years: progress, window of hope, escalation from the mad sheikhs (and their greedy Western whores).

Let's see what happens tomorrow.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 20:43 utc | 83

@ Mina & Laguerre | 71 & 74

I fully agree and fail to see how your interpretation differs from mine.

'Until the 60s', well things have changed since then. At the time the Saudis couldn't dream of being the hegemonic power of the Middle East, but their oil riches and American backing have gone to their head.

The examples you quote, Laguerre, are sub-plots of the larger struggle for ME hegemony. Don't be fooled: This has nothing to do with religion, and everything with power and (oil) wealth. Anybody who portrays this as a religious conflict plays the Saudis' game, since their only hope is to present themselves as 'leaders of the Sunni' to force/ buy others to fight for their political/ hegemonic goals.

Posted by: smuks | Nov 28 2016 20:59 utc | 84

Denis @ 35, 36:

B is fully aware that MoA is listed at and he already has a post out on it.

Already some of us have bookmarked that list for future reference: quite a few good resources there along with other websites that appear to have been included mainly because they tout eccentric dietary advice or are obsessed with UFOs. In other words, they've been included because they don't conform to a narrow conformist mainstream mind-set.

As yet I'm still in the dark as to who runs or (easier to type, I find) but it appears to have Ukrainian connections. (I have my own personal theory that someone who once trolled us over at Mark Chapman's Kremlin Stooge blog might have something to do with it but I can't prove it.)

Posted by: Jen | Nov 28 2016 21:21 utc | 85

By Ingrid Melander | PARIS
But Fillon, a staunch Catholic conservative on social policy who models himself after Britain's Margaret Thatcher on economic issues, is hardly typical of the French ruling elite, presenting unexpected challenges for Le Pen, but also opportunities.
On the one hand, Fillon won some of his best results in the primaries on Sunday in National Front (FN) strongholds. His social conservatism and tough stance on immigration steal some of the far right's thunder. Le Pen's personal approval ratings fell on the day.
On the other hand, Fillon's hardline economic reform plan, which includes raising the retirement age, increasing the sales tax and lengthening working hours, could give Le Pen a chance to win over working class and even center-left voters with an appeal to economic principles seen as traditional in France.

Posted by: okie farmer | Nov 28 2016 21:37 utc | 86

Fillon is a very non extremist catholic. He even said once that the right to abortion should be written in the constitution apparently. He suddenly started to claim a Thatcher plan to get the right-wing votes (those that might have gone to Sarkozy), plus capitalized on his being catholic after some of the anti-gay guys started to stick to him as a more secure figure than the Le Pen family (Marine, her father, and the niece, who have been playing Shakespearian although they try for campaign reason to be polite in public). Plus the Le Pen Marine is so anti-EU that this scares even her partisans.
Le Pen Marine is so mad at him that she now says that he stole her ideas (of course she does not mention the big difference on the EU).
There is zero chance he will manage to apply anything close to a Thatcher plan. If only because there will be an immediate general strike.
The irony is that he is the only one who wants to drop sanctions against Russia and who openly talks well about Putin!
Bhadhrakumar has a post on him today.

Posted by: Mina | Nov 28 2016 21:46 utc | 87

Because @wikileaks released some more State Department cables today, I found out about this book:

The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire by WikiLeaks

I think it's must reading for every MoA junkie. And it's got a chapter on Syria. The ebook is only five dollars, but you can get it at a certain Russian online library as well.

Posted by: Adalbrand | Nov 28 2016 22:21 utc | 88

Salafism and its more radical Wahhabism movement of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, and UAE pose an internal and external threat to Western countries. It is necessary to defeat this ideology as the three trillion dollar “whack a mole” strategy of the Bush and Obama administrations have failed. Saudi Arabia alone spends eight billion dollars a year exporting training and Salafist teachers throughout the world.

Grand Mufti of Egypt, Shawky Allam is promoting the Egyptian Dar al-Iftaa’s role in correct the religious speech across the world. This compliments Michael T. Flynn introduction to you of Lebanese professor Gabriel Sawma work on the Syriac origins of the Quran, which leads to a very tolerant interpretation of Islam. Grand Mufti Shawky Allam is willing to send his representatives to mosques in order to identify and eliminate Salafist teachers. See Dar al-Iftaa's new book in English ( The Ideological Battlefield – Egypt’s Dar al-Iftaa's Combats Radicalization), promoted by the Grand Mufti, which exposes the ideological structure of the terrorist organizations for more information:

Posted by: Krollchem | Nov 28 2016 23:22 utc | 89

Independent: Minister heckled after suggesting humanitarian airdrops in Syria could put British aircraft in ‘harm’s way’

British aircraft could be placed in “harm’s way” if they were used to drop aid to besieged Syrians in eastern Aleppo, a Foreign Office minister has said as he was heckled by MPs in the Commons.

Tobias Ellwood, who was responding to an urgent question on the humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged region of Syria did not rule out the proposal but questioned if sending aircraft would “compound matters or improve” them.

But Mr Ellwood – who also warned Russia that using food as a weapon of war was a “war crime” – was heckled after failing to commit to the humanitarian relief by MPs after Labour’s Alison McGovern urged the Government to consider the “last resort”.

“But what are you doing now?” shouted another MP in the chamber...

...The letter said “the time for excuses is over” and added that “nearly 100,000 children are facing the slowest, cruellest death because we cannot reach them with food and medical supplies.”

Ms McGovern had read out a statement from the Syrian Civil Defence – also known as the White Helmets – which warned Britain that Aleppo is “in a state of emergency” and that 279,000 people have been “under siege” for 94 days...

Yes, why doesn't the Minister take the obvious humanitarian option? Could it be that the line his government has been peddling is total bs and acting on such total bs actually could have some massive repercussions? Words are easily and conveniently dismissed or forgotten, but actions...

Posted by: et Al | Nov 29 2016 0:10 utc | 90


"Once Trump's in the catbird eat we will see what we will see."

Cat-bird-eat, yes, my friend, you have correctly identified the Orange Cheshire Cat occupying the New White House aka Trump Tower. I'm willing to bet within the first month he begins to commute to NYC, and leaves 'day to day business' in the hands of Pence, very similar to another pop star, Sarah Palin, who commuted every day from Juneau back to Wasilla, 800 miles away, and left the 'day to day business' in the hands of her Executive Assistant. Trump has as much as said he won't be living in the White House, it will likely be up on AirBnB shortly for imperial sleepovers, lol.

All of which is to say, just use the eyes god gave you, you can see by his body language he has no interest whatsoever beyond what he can bring to his casino hotel and money laundering business. That bodes very poorly for USAryans and the rest of the world. Remember, Cheney had decades at the Pentagon before he became Bush Jrs handler, he knew all the protocols and people. Pence is a Wahhabist cracker from the Bible Belt. He'll be blinking back hot tears like a teen prom queen that the Deep State vipers gave him the honor of pushing the Big Red Button. Bannon?! Romney?! WTF?

The Deep State will pot these Shakers like orchids in the Situation Room, then live-link to Bibi Netanyahu for the 'go' sign.

Posted by: chipnik | Nov 29 2016 0:23 utc | 91

Conflict Armament Research: Tracing the supply of components used in Islamic State IEDs

Evidence from a 20-month investigation in Iraq and Syria

This report examines more than 700 components used by IS forces to manufacture IEDs, identifies their provenance, and traces their chains of custody. The report presents findings from field investigations in Iraq and Syria conducted over a period of 20 months from July 2014.

6mb PDF at the link. Turkey features heavily, India surprisingly, UAE amongst others for mobile phones. Microcontrollers from the USA.

Meanwhile, old M79 anti-tank rockets & M68 shells via Slovenian Army stocks (JNA vintage) have also ended up in Syria:
Slovenian Ammunition Link to ISIS Suspected

Posted by: et Al | Nov 29 2016 0:43 utc | 92

No mention of Egyptian ground forces or air defenses on the ground in Syria but a lot of cozying up to Putin and Assad -

[BLOCKQUOTE]"Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has moved to openly support the Syrian Army in that country’s civil war, risking a worsening of relations with key ally Saudi Arabia, the main backer of the rebels opposed to the regime of President Bashar Assad and backer of the rebels."

"In an interview aired last week with Portuguese broadcaster RTP, Sisi shifted Egypt’s position from unofficial support of the Assad regime to overt, official backing, in effect offering a further boost to Damascus, which is counting also on a shift in its favor by the incoming Trump administration."

Posted by: h | Nov 29 2016 0:50 utc | 93

rup, forgot to do the /blockquote at the end of the bad...

Posted by: h | Nov 29 2016 0:52 utc | 94

xlnt interview by Fisk of Syrian general (whom usa media claimed was dead years ago)

> The Americans and the Europeans are like the shepherd who allows the wolf into his home – this wolf will eventually eat all the chickens and the sheep.”
> "The only dirty game played in Aleppo is played by the Americans. If they stop their supply of weapons, everything will end…Why do the Western governments not care about the shelling of [government-controlled] western Aleppo where many people are killed?...I will fight to defend Syria to the last minute of my life."

Posted by: mauisurfer | Nov 29 2016 1:29 utc | 95

I'm having trouble finding a comprehensive list of potential laws the United States and it's allies are violating in Syria. This is what I have so far:

Chicago Convention on International Civil Aviation
Article 1: Every state has complete and exclusive sovereignty over airspace above its territory.

UN Charter
Article 2(4): All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.

United States Constitution
Article I, Section 8, Clause 11: [The Congress shall have Power...] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Posted by: Tobin Paz | Nov 29 2016 3:02 utc | 96


That's going to put Mike Pence in a real bind when Trump gives him the red keys during the weekend, and the Deep State boys are all slapping him on the back, telling Pence what a great Cracker Jack he is, and asking whether he wants to see a real underground ICBM missile silo up close and personal, lol. 'Yes sir, Mr. Pence, just insert your red key, go ahead, the launch system is fail-safe."

Donald J. Trump

Hey Mike, heard you got to go on a Pentagon show-and-tell!
Don't do anything that I wouldn't do! Show 'em who's boss!

Posted by: chipnik | Nov 29 2016 3:03 utc | 97

Joshua Landis was briefly interviewed on Al Jazeera English today. He still refers to The Regime but is almost ready to concede that the 'rebels' sponsored by Obama and the Euro-Trash Gang have lost Aleppo. He thinks that once Aleppo is cleared, the rebels will go to Idlib where they will be exterminated (without protest from the Christian Colonials). He was clearly miffed, and a little awed, by Russia's involvement in Syria and speculates that Russia's aim in Syria is to help Assad regain control of "most if not all of Syria."

His perspective on the Kurds is that they fear Turkey and the 'rebels' more than Assad and are thus helping Assad on a Lesser Evil* basis (*my words not Joshes).

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Nov 29 2016 3:19 utc | 98

So it's probably time to start talking about war reparations for Syria. The U.S. alone has to be on the hook for a few tens of billions. Germany had to fork over $23 billion after WWII and prices have gone up quite a bit since then. European coalition lapdogs should be stuck (to a lesser extent) for reparations as well. The GCC cronies? I don't know - maybe Syria should just get a few years worth of their entire oil and gas production.

I'm joking, of course. The U.S. is worried how to justify extending existing sanctions on Syria when we will soon have lost our 'regime overthrow' scheme. The UN and ICC are both U.S. stooge organizations, so it's unlikely the world will even symbolically assert the U.S./GCC coalition owes Syria billions in reparations. I'm guessing western banks will be more than willing to LEND Syria billions to repair the damage our war of aggression has caused. Hey - we just HAD to bomb out those bridges, grain silos and water treatment plants. It's not like we were bombing their transsexual orphaned kitten/puppy hospitals.

Posted by: PavewayIV | Nov 29 2016 3:38 utc | 99

Thank you, b.

Posted by: juliania | Nov 29 2016 4:08 utc | 100

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