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September 10, 2019

Obama And Brennan Burned A Very Useful Spy And Now CNN Outs Him

A sensational CNN story claimed yesterday that Trump caused the extraction of a U.S. spy from Moscow. The story was false but had the effect of outing the spy and where he now lives:

In a previously undisclosed secret mission in 2017, the United States successfully extracted from Russia one of its highest-level covert sources inside the Russian government, multiple Trump administration officials with direct knowledge told CNN.

A person directly involved in the discussions said that the removal of the Russian was driven, in part, by concerns that President Donald Trump and his administration repeatedly mishandled classified intelligence and could contribute to exposing the covert source as a spy.

The decision to carry out the extraction occurred soon after a May 2017 meeting in the Oval Office in which Trump discussed highly classified intelligence with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-Russian Ambassador to the US Sergey Kislyak. The intelligence, concerning ISIS in Syria, had been provided by Israel.

A New York Times opinion writer swallowed the above story and used it to write a piece about Trump's alleged untrustworthiness. Then her own paper debunked the CNN claim.

The story sounded dubious to me and I voiced doubt about it at Patrick Lang's site.

The CNN report allowed others to identify the spy. An aide to President Putin's foreign policy advisor had vanished around the time CNN described. The Russian Kommersant identified him and found the place where he now lives (machine translated):

Cont. reading: Obama And Brennan Burned A Very Useful Spy And Now CNN Outs Him

Posted by b at 17:38 UTC | Comments (70)

Trump Fires Yosemite Sam

Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump - 17:58 UTC · 10 Sep 2019

I informed John Bolton last night that his services are no longer needed at the White House. I disagreed strongly with many of his suggestions, as did others in the Administration, and therefore....
...I asked John for his resignation, which was given to me this morning. I thank John very much for his service. I will be naming a new National Security Advisor next week.

Oh happy day!

Bolton disagrees with Trump's tweet and he is now texting reporters to say that he wasn't fired but resigned:

Robert Costa @costareports - 18:16 UTC · 10 Sep 2019

Ambassador Bolton sends me a text message just now: “Let’s be clear, I resigned, having offered to do so last night.”

John Bolton was the worst person I could think of to become National Security Advisor. But Trump being Trump he may find an even worse one. How about Jared Kushner?

Bolton will not take his firing without some revenge. There will soon be tons of 'leaks' in which a "former senior administration official" will claim that Trump did this or that very, very bad thing.

Gabby Orr @GabbyOrr_ - 18:43 UTC · 10 Sep 2019

A consistent complaint among Trump loyalists & fellow WH officials is that Bolton and his camp were extremely leaky. Doesn’t help that he’s texting every reporter in his rolodex now to clarify that he wasn’t canned

While he did not work long as Trump's NSA Bolton managed to create a lot of damage.

Cont. reading: Trump Fires Yosemite Sam

Posted by b at 16:30 UTC | Comments (112)

September 09, 2019

A Small Reminder Of The Lower-Than-Zero Value Of Partisan 'Analysts'

Avi Issacharoff is an Israeli 'Middle East analyst' who writes for the Times of Israel and other such outlets.

On August 27 he asserted that the drones which attacked Hizbullah in Beirut were not from Israel and that Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah was lying about them.

Nasrallah is lying about Israeli drones in Beirut; Lebanon must urgently wise up

[W]hen it comes to the recent developments surrounding the Israeli attack at Akraba south of Damascus on Saturday night, and especially surrounding the two mysterious drones that subsequently crashed/exploded in the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiyeh in Beirut, Nasrallah is lying. Lying through his teeth.

He lied in his speech on Sunday night when he described these two recent events. And he lied in the statement that his organization published on Monday night claiming that the two “Israeli” drones in Beirut were carrying explosives.

First of all, as has already been widely reported, these were not Israeli drones. Nor did they look like Israeli drones.

Every child in Dahiyeh knows that if Israel were involved in this incident, there was certainly no intention to blow up or assassinate but rather to convey a message.

Even if we believe for a moment the narrative Nasrallah advanced in his speech, where he described how one of these drones flew at such a low altitude that people in the neighborhood were able to bring it down by throwing stones at it, does anybody in the Middle East who’s ever encountered an Israeli drone find that description credible?
...
In the meantime, the official Israeli explanation of what really happened has not been heard, and therefore the field has been left open to the deluge of lies and fabrications being disseminated by Hezbollah. And through these lies and fabrications, Nasrallah has, in turn, painted himself and all of Lebanon into a corner.

Just five days after accusing Nasrallah of being a liar Avi Issacharoff exposed himself as such. Suddenly he had no doubt at all that the drone had come from Israel and were used against Hizbullah:

Hezbollah had vowed to exact revenge on Israel over the IDF’s operation in the Dahiya neighborhood in Beirut last week, as well as for the killing of two operatives south of Damascus, ...
...
[A]t the end of the day, the complex operations that took place almost simultaneously in Akraba, south of Damascus, and in Beirut’s Dahiya – the details of which remain largely classified at this time – did not provoke an overly forceful response from Hezbollah.

There is of course no remorse about the false 'analysis' provided previously nor a retraction of the nonsense Issacharoff had written five days earlier.

In response to the Israeli attack Nasrallah promised to take down Israeli drones if they fly over Lebanon. Today that promised was fulfilled for the first time:

The Iran-backed Hezbollah movement said Monday it had downed and seized an Israeli drone as it flew across the Lebanese border, a week after a flash confrontation between the arch-foes.
...
The Shiite militant group said it subsequently retrieved the device, but did not provide pictures.

An Israeli army spokeswoman told AFP a drone "fell" in Lebanese territory, adding that "there is no risk of a breach of information".

Nasrallah is expected make another speak tonight. He may make some additional announcements which Avi Issacharoff and other 'analysts' may then again question.

They are free to do so but it is obvious whose words deserve more trust.

Posted by b at 18:35 UTC | Comments (69)

September 08, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-52

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Related:
Former Boeing official subpoenaed in 737 MAX probe won’t turn over documents, citing Fifth Amendment protection - Seattle Times
This is the Boeing pilot who told the FAA that MCAS does not need to be mentioned during pilot training. The FAA agreed with him.

Door blows out during ground test on Boeing 777X jet - Seattle Times
This happened during an overpressure and wing bending test on the new version of the 777. Maybe it is an easy to fix issue. But this learned speculation lets me assume that there is a much bigger issue behind it:

Frames were changed from sheet metal to milled aluminum and reduced by 2" thickness each, giving a total of 4" additional space.

So they might be as strong as on the "traditional" 777 but more flexible (stiffness increases at the order of 4 with thickness), causing more deformation to the door surround structure and putting more loads on the locking system.

Rob Slane at The Blogmire explains the current Brexit situation:

There are a number of parties. One of them wants to take us out, but there are some within that party that didn’t want to take us out, so they were kicked out by the man who just came in. In order to get us out, the man who just came in tried to get himself out, so that he could then get back in, in order to take us out. But he was thwarted by the other parties, who despite wanting him out, kept him in because they fear that if he gets out, he will then get back in and will then take us out. But if they can keep him in long enough, and prevent him from taking us out, they figure that soon after he has failed to take us out, they will be able to get him out and get themselves in. And then after he gets out and they get in, they may try to take us out or they may try to keep us in. It’s anyone’s guess. Then again, it’s entirely possible that if they do get in, they might try to get us out, then campaign against their deal for taking us out to try and keep us in. It really is that simple.

When panic sets in:
Air Force Puts Out Contract Opportunity Announcement For Literally Anything Hypersonic - The Drive

Related:
How India secretly armed Afghanistan’s Northern Alliance - The Hindu

---
Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-52

Posted by b at 13:58 UTC | Comments (171)

To Leave Afghanistan Just Leave Afghanistan

AP reports: Trump calls off secret meeting with Taliban, Afghan leaders

President Donald Trump said Saturday he canceled a secret weekend meeting at Camp David with Taliban and Afghanistan leaders after a bombing in the past week in Kabul that killed 12 people, including an American soldier, and has called off peace negotiations with the insurgent group.

It is doubtful that the meeting was planned at all. The optics of such a meeting, shortly before an 9/11 anniversary, would have been too terrible. On Friday the Afghan President Ghani already said that he would not come to Washington. And would the Taliban leaders really step on a U.S. plane or helicopter to fly to Camp David when the real destination might well be Guantanamo Bay?

There is also this:

Dalchico @Dalchico 1:14 UTC· Sep 8, 2019

I hope reporters will investigate this. As a resident of Frederick County, where Camp David is located, I'm highly skeptical as I have seen no evidence of planning and preparation. There is usually increased helicopter activity for events held at CD.

It is good that there was no such meeting. The negotiations with the Taliban were never going to work anyway. The blob wants to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan, the Taliban want them out. All of them. The recent negotiations in Qatar were going nowhere as neither side budged on those central points. Trump finally acknowledged that by calling off a meeting that was not going to happen anyway.

Trump had the right instinct to press for the U.S. to leave Afghanistan. The situation there is getting worse by the day and there is nothing that any number of U.S. troops can do to change that. The Afghan government is utterly corrupt. Its troops and police have high casualty rates and fail in every battle. The Taliban own most of the countryside.

Why negotiate with the Taliban at all? As the U.S. can do little to them they would have no incentive to stick to any promise they make.

The U.S. should just leave as long as it can. There will come a point when the only way out will be by helicopter from the embassy roof. Check the map. That day will come sooner than many assume.

Drexl Spivey @RisboLensky - 20:26 UTC · Sep 6 2019

Roads in #Afghanistan today's situation based on @ArianaNews_ and my data
red-total #Taliban control
orange-occasional #Taliban control


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Posted by b at 13:19 UTC | Comments (69)

September 07, 2019

Media Make False "Russian Prisoners" Claims To Blame Russia, Hide Ukraine's Civil War

Fakenews:

Reuters: Russia and Ukraine swap prisoners in first sign of thawing relations

On the same day, a group of 35 Russian prisoners held in Ukraine landed in Moscow as part of the deal.

CNN: Film director Oleg Sentsov and MH17 suspect among those freed in Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap

The return of 35 Ukranian prisoners and 35 Russian prisoners is a move that could ease tensions between the two countries after Moscow's annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Human Rights Watch: Russia/Ukraine Prisoner Exchange Includes Release of Oleg Sentsov

At around the same time, a plane with 35 Russian prisoners, released by Ukraine, landed in Moscow.

Real news:

Jonah Fisher @JonahFisherBBC - 14:44 UTC · Sep 7, 2019
35 prisoners flew Kiev to Moscow as part of the swap. 22 of them have Ukrainian passports, 1 Moldovan, the rest Russian. Tsemakh the MH17 “witness” confirmed officially as swapped.

LB.ua (machine translated): At least 30 Ukrainian citizens left for Russia as part of the exchange

In the framework of the exchange of prisoners, Ukraine gave Russia 35 prisoners, at least 30 of whom are citizens of Ukraine. This follows from the preliminary list that appeared in the media.

The difference between the 30 Ukrainians LB.ua counts and the 22 Ukrainian passports tally by BBC Kiev reporter Jonah Fisher are people from Crimea who now have Russian passports but who the Ukraine counts as Ukrainians.

So Ukraine released "at least" 30 (former) Ukrainians, 1 Moldavian and maybe a few Russians who probably never took part in the war in east Ukraine. One of the Russians released today was one Evgeny Mefedov (pictured) of whom LB.ua writes (machine translated):

Russian, a participant in the Odessa "Anti-Maidan" and clashes on May 2, 2014.

He claimed that he came to Odessa as a tourist.

In September 2017, he was acquitted in a riot case, but was immediately detained for an encroachment on the territorial integrity of Ukraine.

Mefedov had done nothing. He was imprisoned five long years for being a Russian who visited Odessa at the wrong time.

The Ukrainian accounts find many less "Russian" prisoners than the "35 Russian prisoners" Reuters, CNN and HRW falsely claim.

In the still smoldering civil war in east Ukraine Ukrainians are fighting against Ukrainians. There was and is no "Russian invasion" of the Ukraine as 'western' media want to make us believe. The prisoners' nationalities prove it but Reuters CNN and HRW do not want you to know that. They want their readers to believe that "Russia did it".

A hat tip for the above goes to Ivan Katchanovski, a political scientist at the University of Ottawa who works on Ukrainian civil war issues.

Ivan Katchanovski @I_Katchanovski - 13:02 UTC · Sep 7, 2019

My analysis shows that overwhelming majority of more than 1,000 people, who were exchanged by #Ukraine government with #donbas separatists or #Russia in 2014-2019, were Ukrainian citizens, 1.5% regular Russian military members & 4% other #Russian citizens.

Posted by b at 18:45 UTC | Comments (75)

September 06, 2019

State Department 'Swagger' Means Offering Bribes

U.S. Secretary of State "we lie, we cheat, we steal" Mike Pompeo said that U.S. diplomats must have "swagger". This is what he meant:

Four days before the US imposed sanctions on an Iranian tanker suspected of shipping oil to Syria, the vessel’s Indian captain received an unusual email from the top Iran official at the Department of State.

This is Brian Hook . . . I work for secretary of state Mike Pompeo and serve as the US Representative for Iran,” Mr Hook wrote to Akhilesh Kumar on August 26, according to several emails seen by the Financial Times. “I am writing with good news.”

The “good news” was that the Trump administration was offering Mr Kumar several million dollars to pilot the ship — until recently known as the Grace 1 — to a country that would impound the vessel on behalf of the US. To make sure Mr Kumar did not mistake the email for a scam, it included an official state department phone number.


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As the captain did not agree to be bribed the U.S. sanctioned him. The ship now sits off the Syrian coast and is unloading its 2 million barrels of oil. That will be enough for three month of Syria's consumption.

Farsnews notes that this was not the first time the U.S. tried to bribe and pressure tanker captains:

Hook, who heads the state department’s Iran Action Group, has emailed or texted roughly a dozen captains in recent months in an effort to scare mariners into understanding that helping Iran evade sanctions comes at a heavy price.

No one fell for it. The Iranian ship captains are obviously patriots who do not take bribes from the enemies of their country.

Brian Hook has a really lousy job and zero success in it.

Posted by b at 18:25 UTC | Comments (103)

September 05, 2019

Putin Trolls Trump

This is some high class trolling by Russia's President Vladimir Putin:

Putin said he offered U.S. President Donald Trump in a recent phone call the chance to buy one of the hypersonic nuclear weapons Moscow is developing. He said Trump spurned the offer and replied that Washington was making its own.

Hypersonic weapons fly faster than Mach 5 or five times the speed of sound. Their high speed leaves little warning time for the target. There are currently no practical defenses against them.

While the U.S. spent an enormous amount on developing large aircraft carriers, 'stealth' airplanes and useless missile defenses, Russia spent much less to developed weapons that can defeat all three. Carriers are today, at least for Russia, India and China, not threats but large and juicy targets.

Kh-47M2 Kinzhal Mach 12 capable missile carried by a MIG-31


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Trump is wrong in claiming that the U.S. makes its own hypersonic weapons. While the U.S. has some in development none will be ready  before 2022 and likely only much later. Hypersonic weapons are a Soviet/Russian invention. The ones Russia now puts into service are already the third generation. U.S. development of such missiles is at least two generations behind Russia's.

That Russian radar can 'see' stealth aircraft has been known since 1999 when a Yugoslav army unit shot down a U.S. F-117 Nighthawk stealth aircraft. Russian air and missile defense proved in Syria that it can defeat mass attacks by drones as well as by cruise missiles. U.S.-made air and missile defense in Saudi Arabia fails to take down even the primitive missiles Houthi forces fire against it.

The new weapons Russia announced in March 2018 make strategic missile defense useless.

The U.S. military and its weapons are regularly hyped in 'western' media. But it has long been clear to (non-U.S.) experts that U.S. military technology is not superior to that of other countries. In several important fields Russian, Chinese and even Indian weapons have much better capabilities. The reason is simple. U.S. weapons are not developed or built with a real strategic need in mind. They don't get developed for achieving the most effect in an existential war against a capable enemy but to create profit.

The last is probably the only thing Trump knows about them.

Posted by b at 16:53 UTC | Comments (208)

September 04, 2019

A Brexit Thread

I give way to the Leader of The House of Commons the right honorable Jacob William Rees-Mogg.


source (vid) - bigger

The Parliament of the UK just voted 329-300 for the preliminary approval of a bill aimed at preventing a no-deal Brexit. The bill requires the government to seek an extension to Article 50 if it does not have a deal for the UK’s exit from the EU. There is now a discussion about various amendments to the bill which will then need a second and third vote to become law.

Even if the bill becomes law it is is not assured that the Boris Johnson government would follow it.

 

Posted by b at 16:37 UTC | Comments (169)

September 03, 2019

737 MAX - Boeing Insults International Safety Regulators As New Problems Cause Longer Grounding

United Airline and American Airlines further prolonged the grounding of their Boeing 737 MAX airplanes. They now schedule the plane's return to the flight line in December. But it is likely that the grounding will continue well into the next year.

After Boeing's shabby design and lack of safety analysis of its Maneuver Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) led to the death of 347 people, the grounding of the type and billions of losses, one would expect the company to show some decency and humility. Unfortunately Boeing behavior demonstrates none.

There is still little detailed information on how Boeing will fix MCAS. Nothing was said by Boeing about the manual trim system of the 737 MAX that does not work when it is needed. The unprotected rudder cables of the plane do not meet safety guidelines but were still certified. The planes flight control computers can be overwhelmed by bad data and a fix will be difficult to implement. Boeing continues to say nothing about these issues.

International flight safety regulators no longer trust the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which failed to uncover those problems when it originally certified the new type. The FAA was also the last regulator to ground the plane after two 737 MAX had crashed. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) asked Boeing to explain and correct five major issues it identified. Other regulators asked additional questions.

Boeing needs to regain the trust of the airlines, pilots and passengers to be able to again sell those planes. Only full and detailed information can achieve that. But the company does not provide any.

As Boeing sells some 80% of its airplanes abroad it needs the good will of the international regulators to get the 737 MAX back into the air. This makes the arrogance it displayed in a meeting with those regulators inexplicable:

Cont. reading: 737 MAX - Boeing Insults International Safety Regulators As New Problems Cause Longer Grounding

Posted by b at 18:05 UTC | Comments (111)

September 02, 2019

Hong Kong Rioters Wage Sabotage Campaign To Press Congress Into Punishing China

The Associated Press is doing its best to make the Hong Kong police look bad by describing an incident without its context:

Late at night Saturday, video from Hong Kong broadcaster TVB showed police on the platform of Prince Edward subway station swinging batons at passengers who backed into one end of a train car behind umbrellas. The video also shows pepper spray being shot through an open door at a group seated on the floor while one man holds up his hands.

Police officers said at a briefing Monday that they rejected accusations that they “beat up” ordinary citizens without first confirming their identities. They said they specifically targeted those who they believed to be rioters, including those who had changed out of their black protester outfits, and arrested 63 people on suspicion of illegal assembly and possessing explosives and offensive weapons.

The incident described in the first paragraph above did indeed happen. But it was only the last part of a larger story which the AP fails to mention. Here is how it started:

The violence in Prince Edward Station began during a dispute between protesters and some older men who were insulting them. One of the men swung a hammer at the protesters, who threw water bottles and umbrellas and later appeared to set off fire extinguishers in the car. After the clashes, the subway system suspended service across much of Hong Kong. Three stations remained closed on Sunday.

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Some 30 black clad people with gas masks and helmets had entered a train to ride to another place to create another of their usual flash mob riots. The other passengers clearly disagree with the rioters' plans. Some made remarks the black clad youth disliked.

Cont. reading: Hong Kong Rioters Wage Sabotage Campaign To Press Congress Into Punishing China

Posted by b at 18:59 UTC | Comments (216)

September 01, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-51

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

Last night Saudi Arabia bombed a Houthi run detention center in Yemen's southwestern province of Dhamar multiple times. Over 60 people were killed. The prison was registered with the International Red Cross and had been visited by ICRC staff. The Saudis knew exactly what it was. Similar Saudi attacks on prisons took place in December 2017 in Sanaa and in October 2016 near Hodeidah port. Most of the prisoners were on the Saudi side of the war. Why did it kill them?

There are murky reports that several thousand Saudi proxy forces and Saudi special force are under siege north of Kitaf in Sadaa province in north Yemen: Mansour Hadi’s forces in north of Kitaf are still under siege by Ansar Allah and heavy engagements continuing - ISW News

As predicted the unilateral ceasefire ended after the strike. Syrian army artillery shelled some 'rebel' positions. Air attacks have not yet resumed. The Russian military smartly denies that it knew of the U.S. attack.

Other issues:

Loser of the week: Bretbug Stephens and everyone working for the New York Times. - LA Times / WaPo

The Epstein saga continues to make waves - at least in Britain. Peter Mandelson ex-Labour minister pictured shopping with Epstein 2005 - Daily Mail

The Taliban are winning in Afghanistan. Trump wants all U.S. troops out of there before the defeat becomes obvious. John Bolton is trying to prevent that. The welcome result: Bolton sidelined from Afghanistan policy as his standing with Trump falters - Washington Post

Israel is getting nervous: Israel is hiding its soldiers and Hezbollah is winning without firing a shot- so far. - E.J. Magnier.

While I wrote the above antitank missiles fired from Lebanon hit an Israeli military target. The expected strike was in retaliation of Israel's recent killing of two Hizbullah personnel in Syria and its drone attack in Beirut. Will Netanyahoo escalate and start a war to win his reelection?

Use as open thread ...

Posted by b at 14:11 UTC | Comments (255)

August 31, 2019

Syria - Coordinated Foreign Airstrike Kills Leaders Of Two Al-Qaeda Aligned Groups

Some three hours ago an air- or missile strike in Syria's Idleb governorate hit a meeting of leaders of the al-Qaeda aligned Haras-al-Din and Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) aka Jabhat al-Nusra. Both were killed. It is likely that leaders of other Jihadist groups were also present. The hit completely destroyed a Haras al-Din guesthouse or headquarter. The Syrian Observatory says that more than 40 people were killed in the strike. The hit will make it much easier for the Syrian army campaign to liberate Idleb governorate.

Idleb governorate - Red=Syrian army, Green=Jihadis, Yello-Kurds

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Since yesterday evening a unilateral ceasefire has been observed by the Syrian and Russian forces. Today none of their jets bombed targets in Idleb governorate. Whoever carried out today's strike must have coordinated that with the Russian command beforehand.

The Observatory notes (machine translated):

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the killing of more than 40 people from jihadi groups, including leaders, as a result of rocket attacks on the headquarters and meeting room of the “Haradh al-Mu'minin” operation, whose guards are the main pillars in addition to other jihadi groups, in the area between Kefraya and Maarat Masrin east of Idlib The strikes were the result of aerial bombardment by international coalition aircraft, and the Syrian Observatory has just published that it rocked more than 7 fierce explosions in the area between the city of Idlib and the town of Kefraya east of the city on Saturday afternoon, 31 August, caused by rocket strikes targeting Headquarters for the guards faction It is not known whether the strikes were carried out by international coalition aircraft over Turkish territory, or whether they were long-range missiles ...

The impact of the strikes was quite impressive:

Cont. reading: Syria - Coordinated Foreign Airstrike Kills Leaders Of Two Al-Qaeda Aligned Groups

Posted by b at 16:12 UTC | Comments (200)

August 30, 2019

Syrian 'Rebels' Feel Left Behind - Burn 'Traitor' Erdogan's Picture

Since 2011 the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has used Syrian 'rebels' and Islamist Jihadis as proxy forces against the Syrian government. These forces are now mostly confined to Idleb governorate next to the Turkish border. The Syrian army has recently made progress against the Jihadis. Turkey has not come to their help. That their resistance is futile has begun to dawn on them. Syria will recover the whole governorate and those who resist will be eliminated. The 'rebels' fear that their punishment is coming and they now want to flee to Turkey. Unfortunately Turkey does not want them.


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Today about a thousand 'rebels' tried to cross through the Al-Bab border station into Turkey. Videos show a long line of cars of fleeing people. At the front several hundred men managed to enter Turkish ground. They were pushed back by Turkish army forces with water cannon trucks, tear gas and finally with gunfire. At least two 'rebels' were killed.

Cont. reading: Syrian 'Rebels' Feel Left Behind - Burn 'Traitor' Erdogan's Picture

Posted by b at 17:07 UTC | Comments (84)

August 29, 2019

Saudi Arabia Acknowledges Defeat In Yemen - Starts To Sue For Peace

Two weeks ago we wrote that war on Yemen will soon end. The Saudis lost their ally, they lost the war and would have to sue for peace. They are now doing so. But they fighting in Yemen will continue until that country finds a new balance.

Today the United Arab Emirates airforce bombed the Yemeni proxy forces of its 'ally' Saudi Arabia:

Yemen's internationally recognized government accused the Emirati air force of attacking its troops Thursday as they were heading to the key southern port city of Aden to fight separatists backed by the United Arab Emirates. The airstrikes killed at least 30 government forces, a Yemeni commander said.
...
Col. Mohamed al-Oban, a commander of the government's special forces in Abyan province, said the troops were on the road, headed from Abyan toward Aden on Thursday, when the strikes took place, killing at least 30.
...
At least six raids were carried out by Emirati warplanes around the temporary capital, according to government military sources who asked to remain anonymous.

Southern separatist forces under the Southern Transitional Council and supported by the UAE hold Aden. Between 1967 and 1990 south Yemen, then named the People's Democratic Republic of Yemen, was separated from the mountainous north. After uniting with north Yemen the south became neglected even though its eastern desert holds most of the country's hydrocarbon resources.


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Cont. reading: Saudi Arabia Acknowledges Defeat In Yemen - Starts To Sue For Peace

Posted by b at 19:22 UTC | Comments (85)

August 28, 2019

Boris Johnson Seizes Power

The British Prime Minister Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson wants to lead Britain to an exit from the European Union without a specific agreement that would regulate the various details. A majority in Parliament is against leaving the EU without a deal.

Parliament will convene again in early September. The Brexit date is October 31. The opposition planned to seek legislation to stop Brexit and/or to hold a vote of no confidence in the Boris government. This would install a new government with the sole task of preventing Brexit without a deal.

The problem is that the process takes time and Parliament days are limited. The government has several means to prevent Parliament from having enough time to discuss the issue and to vote on it. Today it used a quite effective one.

The Johnson government, only inaugurated weeks ago, asked the Queen to announce its legislative program, a ceremonial event known as the Queen's Speech. Custom demands that Parliament is shut down for several weeks before the Queen's Speech is held. Parliament will thus have little chance to prevent a no-deal Brexit:

The government has asked the Queen to suspend Parliament just days after MPs return to work in September - and only a few weeks before the Brexit deadline.

Boris Johnson said a Queen's Speech would take place after the suspension, on 14 October, to outline his "very exciting agenda".

But it means MPs are unlikely to have time to pass laws to stop a no-deal Brexit on 31 October.

Tory backbencher Dominic Grieve called the move "an outrageous act".

The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow is not amused about the unexpected move. Many members of Parliament will, like Dominic Grieve, be against this power grab.

Unfortunately there is little they can do:

A number of high profile figures, including former Prime Minister John Major, have threatened to go to the courts to stop it, and a legal challenge led by the SNP's justice spokeswoman, Joanna Cherry, is already working its way through the Scottish courts.

Britain has no written constitution. The courts rule along precedence and the government would thereby likely win the case:

BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond said the precedent was for Parliament to be suspended before a Queen's Speech, and it would be "impossible" for the Queen to reject the government's request to do so now.

He said that convention lifted the pressure off the Queen and to some degree, in some people's eyes, depoliticises it.

"The fundamental is the Queen acts on the advice of her ministers - in particular, on the advice of her prime minister," he added.

Laura Kuenssberg said only a small number of government ministers knew about the plan in advance, but the government would argue it was "a bog standard Queen's Speech process", despite all of the surrounding noise.

In a letter to the Members of Parliament Johnson only allows for one day, September 9, for a Parliament sitting.

The prime minister, not elected through a general election, is essentially making a power grab. Closing down Parliament at the moment when the most significant decision on the future of the country is at stake is a deeply undemocratic move.

Britain is on its way to falling apart.

Posted by b at 11:36 UTC | Comments (247)

August 25, 2019

The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-50

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

The black block in Hong Kong, which consists of just a few hundred youth, is now back at rioting. Subway stations get vandalized and people pushed off the trains that the rioters use to ferry from one flash mob incident to the next one. Bricks and Molotov cocktails are thrown at police lines. Some protesters use baseball bats against the police, others have handguns. Today the police, for the first time, deployed water cannon trucks. One policeman fired a warning shot against the increasingly brutal mob. It is only of question of time until the first person gets killed.

The allegedly "leaderless" protesters even have a Dummy Guide for frontline rioters.

Miles Kwok aka Guo Wengui is a disgruntled Chinese oligarch. He is one of the men who finances the Hong Kong protests. Here he appears with Steve Bannon Miles Kwok & Mr Bannon: The 5 principles on Hong Kong’s matter (vid). But the NYT still claims that the nativist protesters' use of Pepe the frog is not a sign of alt-right influence.

Joshua Wong, one of the U.S. coddled students, compares the situation with 2014 Maidan riots in Ukraine. He is right in more ways than he says.

Khan Shaykhun and all surrounding villages are now liberated. There was little resistance left as most of the Jihadis had slipped out of the encirclement before it closed. The Syrian army is now concentrating forces to go further north towards Maarat al-Numan. The preparing bombing campaign is ongoing.

Last night Israel bombed a Hezbullah workshop south of Damascus. Three Hizbullah engineers were killed and two were wounded. Additionally an Israeli short-range drone landed on Hizbullah's media office in Beirut, Lebanon. A second drone, probably sent to destroy the first one, appeared and exploded. No one was hurt. The drone operators must have been relatively nearby, most likely on some boat off Beirut.

Hizbullah chief Hassan Nasrallah addressed Israel in his July 12 speech: "You kill one of our own in Syria and we will respond and respond from Lebanon." Nasrallah, who tends to hold his promises, is due to speak today at 17:00 local time. Expect some fireworks ...

Maj. Danny Sjursen: We're Listening to the Wrong Voices on Syria - TruthDig

Elijah Magnier reports that Israel is most likely behind this: Who is Behind Blowing up Ammunition Warehouses in Iraq? Iran is the Target. I still have my doubts about that.

The text of Mark Carney's Jackson Hole speech: The Growing Challenges for Monetary Policy in the current International Monetary and Financial System

Other issues:

Cont. reading: The MoA Week In Review - OT 2019-50

Posted by b at 13:51 UTC | Comments (344)

August 24, 2019

U.S. Decoupling From China Forces Others To Decouple From U.S.

The U.S. is decoupling itself from China. The effects of that process hurt all global economies. To avoid damage other countries have no choice but to decouple themselves from the U.S.

Today's Washington Post front page leads with a highly misleading headline:

The headline above the article is also wrong:

Trump retaliates in trade war by escalating tariffs on Chinese imports and demanding companies cut ties with China

It was China, not Trump, which retaliated. Trump reacted to that with a tweet-storm and by intensifying the trade war he started. The piece under the misleading headline even says that:

President Trump demanded U.S. companies stop doing business with China and announced he would raise the rate of tariffs on Beijing Friday, capping one of the most extraordinary days in the long-running U.S.-China trade war.
...
The day began with Beijing’s announcement that it would impose new tariffs on $75 billion in goods, including reinstated levies on auto products, starting this fall. It came to a close Friday afternoon with Trump tweeting that he would raise the rate of existing and planned tariffs on China by 5 percentage points.

Beijing’s tariff retaliation was delivered with strategic timing, hours before an important address by Powell, and as Trump prepared to depart for the G-7 meeting in Biarritz.

After Trump's move the stock markets had a sad. Trade wars are, at least in the short term, bad for commerce. The U.S. and the global economy are still teetering along, but will soon be in recession.

The Trump administration is fine with that. (As is Dilbert creator Scott Adams (vid).)

U.S. grand strategy is to prevent other powers from becoming equals to itself or to even surpass it. China, with a population four times larger than the U.S., is the country ready to do just that. It has already built itself into an economic powerhouse and it is also steadily increasing its military might.

China is thus a U.S. 'enemy' even though Trump avoided, until yesterday, to use that term.

Over the last 20+ years the U.S. has imported more and more goods from China and elsewhere and has diminished its own manufacturing capabilities. It is difficult to wage war against another country when one depends on that country's production capacities. The U.S. must first decouple itself from China before it can launch the real war. Trump's trade war with China is intended to achieve that. As Peter Lee wrote when the trade negotiations with China failed:

Cont. reading: U.S. Decoupling From China Forces Others To Decouple From U.S.

Posted by b at 19:22 UTC | Comments (233)

August 23, 2019

U.S. Says Israel Bombed Iraq - With Update

Updated below:

On July 30 we wrote No, Israel Did Not Attack Iranian Targets In Iraq. We MAY have been wrong with this:

Israeli newspaper repeat a report which claims that Israeli planes hit Iranian targets in Iraq.

From the last one:

The IAF used its F-35i stealth fighter jets to hit two Iraqi bases that were used by Iranian forces and proxies and for storing ballistic missiles, the London-based Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat reported on Tuesday.

Asharq Al-Awsat is owned by Faisal bin Salman, a member of the Saudi ruling clan. It is - like other Arab papers - often used to launder Israeli disinformation and propaganda that is then repeated in the Israeli press.

At that time there had been two alleged incidents in Iraq. An ammunition dump exploded on July 19. An official investigation blamed the incident on faulty equipment. There had been rumors about a second incident that had not happened at all.

There have since been more ammunition incidents at bases of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF or Hashed):

Maya Gebeily @GebeilyM - 19:24 UTC · Aug 21, 2019

#IRAQ: At least four incidents over the last month at Hashed bases:
July 19 - Amerli; Iraqi joint ops says it was a drone, Hashed said fire; Pentagon denied involvement
July 28 - Diyala
August 12 - Saqr; PM ordered probe into massive blasts
August 20 - near al-Balad


bigger

After the last incident the leaders of the PMF released contradicting statements:

The head of Iraq’s paramilitary forces supported by Iran on Thursday walked back a statement by his deputy the day before in which he blamed Israeli drones and held the U.S. responsible for a series of attacks on bases run by the militias.

Faleh al-Fayyadh said the statement by his deputy, Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, did not represent the view of the mainly Shiite militias known as Popular Mobilization Forces — or the view of the Iraqi government. Al-Fayyadh’s statement alleged the attacks on the bases over the past weeks “were the result of an act organized by a foreign side,” but refrained from naming that side.

American officials denied the U.S. had any role in the explosions.
...
A government investigation, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press on Wednesday, found the blast near Baghdad was caused by a drone strike.

Al-Muhandis, the deputy leader of the PMF who actually runs the shop, threatened U.S. forces in Iraq with retaliation.

It is likely that his statement caused U.S. officials to now tell the New York Times that the alleged Israeli airstrikes indeed happened:

Cont. reading: U.S. Says Israel Bombed Iraq - With Update

Posted by b at 7:53 UTC | Comments (100)

August 22, 2019

Open Thread 2019-49

Reminder:

  • No personal attacks
  • No spiffy one-liners
  • No sock-puppetry
  • Off-topic comments belong into the open threads

Those who insist on breaking these rules will get banned. Their comments will be deleted.

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News & views ...

 

Posted by b at 17:30 UTC | Comments (207)