1. Turkey and Saudi Arabia: to fight or to flight?; The “Cold War” Over Syria…Will Remain Cold
2. Week Eighteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria: a dramatic escalation appears imminent; Turk Army Enters Syria After 2nd Day Of Shelling As Saudi Warplanes Arrive
3. The “Race To Raqqa” Is Quickly Intensifying
4. While Kerry Talks Ceasefire, US Allies Secretly Ship Grad Missiles to Syria Rebels
5. Russia says Aleppo militants lay down arms
6. Losing the War, Blame Russia (By Finian Cunningham, 9 Feb 2016)
7. The Syria War Will Not Be a Quagmire — Because Putin and Assad Are Winning
8. (The last half of) How Does the US Empire Control the World? Petrodollars Rule, Ok! (Part 3 up to:) The Financial Battle between the US Empire and Russia and China
9. Candid Kerry Blames The (Syrian) Opposition For The Continuing Bombing In Syria
10. Russia has Accomplished the Unthinkable
11. Update from Aleppo: “Moderate rebels” on a killing spree
12. Eric Draitser Talking Syria on “Comment” with George Galloway
13. Syrian rebels are losing Aleppo and perhaps also the war
14. ISIS besieged parts of Deir Ezzor
The newsflash below from superstation95 page 886 that ended at Midnight on 14 Feb ’16 Aust. (13 Feb USA) is resumed on 15 Feb ’16 Aust. (14 Feb USA) at page 890 with live coverage updates every few minutes at https://www.superstation95.com/index.php/world/890
(Go daily to https://www.superstation95.com and go down to “MORE FIGHTING as Saudis and Turks attack Syria” to find the live coverage 5 minutes updates for that day)
NEWSFLASH Sunday 14 February 2016: Turkish military has launched missile attacks against Kurdish YPG areas in and around Aleppo in Syria, and also they hit SAA (Syrian Arab Army) positions in Latakia. There were no SAA casualties and there are conflicting reports of YPG casualties. There have been massive deployments by Russia today (14 Feb). The US issued an alert to Turkey to stop firing. Also the US military command issued an alert to US military forces for military readiness including nuclear. No one is happy with what Turkey did today. Tomorrow will be a barrage of news coming out.https://www.superstation95.com/index.php/world/886 Sunday 14 February 2016 (13 Feb in USA)………………………………………………………………………………
1. Turkey and Saudi Arabia: to fight or to flight?
by Ghassan Kadi, 14 February 2016
No one knows how the “War On Syria” is going to end, let alone what turns it will take in a year from now, a month, and even a week. There are many variables, new developments, twists and turns, and they happen quickly, and sometimes unexpectedly. And because we do not really what is going on behind the scenes in the corridors of Washington, Ankara and Riyadh, we cannot say from a position of knowledge that the trio are indeed conjuring for a land invasion of Syria. To make any plausible interpretations and predictions therefore, we can only base them on the revealed information, albeit it is perhaps mainly designed to feed the news-hungry media and their news-thirsty consumers. The analyses that we can produce cannot be based on more than this information.
This is an uneasy task because to confound the situation further, the recent information is not only incomplete, but in itself it is confounding and contradictory. We are seeing adversaries making statements that portray accord, whilst on the other hand, we see allies, or at least supposed allies, lashing at each other, and for different reasons, and unless we use common sense, we won’t make any sense of this at all; it only adds to the confusion.
To this effect, and to begin unravelling the information segment by segment, we must stop at a recent statement that Erdogan made. What he said to his American “allies” recently was not very different from saying “you are either with us or with our enemies” (ie the Kurds). Yet, Erdogan and the USA are meant to be allies and co-NATO members.
To say that Erdogan is unhappy to see northern Syria going back under Syrian control bit by bit, is a gross understatement. For nearly five years, he has flooded the region with tens of thousands of militants, supplies, munitions, and this is not to mention all the looting that was done to Aleppo’s industrial infra-structure. And now, almost in a blink, he can see this slipping out of his hands, all the while the USA is watching and incapable of or unwilling to do anything, or perhaps both. Erdogan has been very vocal in criticizing the USA and questioning its loyalty to him. He is furious to the extreme.
A few days before making his statement, Russia stated that Turkey is preparing for a ground attack in Syria, a claim denied by Turkey. Both of the Russian claim and its Turkish denial received little attention by American officials. Now, this is the America that makes it its business to poke its nose into the tiniest incidents and considers building a chicken pen in Peru a matter of national security. Why would America not comment about a serious matter such as the above; unless it is clearly saying to observers that it chooses not to comment because if Turkey launches a ground attack on Syria, then this is not America’s business!
But if we go back a few weeks further to the extra-ordinary NATO meeting that Erdogan asked for immediately after the downing of the Su-24, the resolution was for Turkey and Russia to work out their differences. NATO did not want a bar of it.
Erdogan is possibly the most dangerous man on earth at the moment. If not the most dangerous, he is definitely in the top ten list. If anything, he is a mega megalomaniac. He regards himself as a supreme being who was God-sent in order to restore the former glories of both Islam and the Ottoman Empire. He sees everyone else as inferior to him, and when he goes to confer with his allies, including Obama, in his mind, he is using them and not taking orders from them. Any observer and critic of Erdogan who is unaware of this fact is missing a very important reality, and probably the most pertinent link in the chain of this very complex and perverted personality.
In a recent article, Andrew Korybko brilliantly outlaid Russia’s options vis-à-vis a Turkish land attack on Syria (1). There are many options indeed, and in such an event, Andrew predicted that Russia will not engage in an all-out war with Turkey and may even allow Erdogan to vent a bit of steam provided that he does not go too far.
This seems to be happening now, or at least to some degree. Recent news is reporting Turkish shelling of Kurds in Northern Syria. Another report that followed later said that even Syrian Army positions have been targeted by Turkey.
There are even some unconfirmed news reports of Washington asking Ankara to stop its shelling of Kurdish and Syrian Army positions.
Obama made it very clear that he does not intend to have direct confrontation with Russia in Syria (2). On the other hand. Russia is warning against such intervention. Those warnings, do not only apply to Turkey, but also to Saudi Arabia no doubt.
In his latest article (3), The Saker predicts that “in the next few days, we are probably going to witness a dramatic escalation of the conflict in Syria”. This is possible, and even probable, but to what extent shall we see this escalation?
Then we look south of Ankara, at Riyadh to be specific. The Saudis are very restless and upset by the American inaction ever since the “War On Syria” started. They have been literally begging the USA and NATO for direct intervention, but to no avail. Now here’s the question, if America did not want to intervene directly in Syria before Russia entered the scene, why would they do it now risking a direct confrontation with Russia?
It is not uncommon for politicians to lie and to make deceptive remarks. It is very possible that America is trying to appear to look as if it is seeking peaceful outcomes whilst behind the scenes pushing its Turkish cronies into war.
Allies however, do not slander each other, not in public, not unless they are having a serious crisis. And allies do not plan to go into wars together if they are having a crisis. If we join the dots, the likelihood of direct American/NATO intervention in Syria looks very remote. They will most probably provide a tacit support for a joint Saudi-Turkish intervention, but NATO is highly unlikely to get involved directly in the conflict.
Furthermore, and this has been said many times by many analysts, Saudi Arabia is already bogged down in a war against the ill-equipped ill-funded Yemeni Army and remains unable to score a victory after many months of heavy bombardment. This is needless to say that the Saudi economy is in tatters. The Saudis are already using mercenaries from different countries such as Sudan, Pakistan and even Yemen itself in Yemen. They have also hired mercenaries from what is commonly known as Blackwater. The prospect of Saudis sending troops to Syria to fight and win is as farcical as them trying to put the first camel on the moon.
The Turks and the Saudis are extremely frustrated that their war efforts in Syria have been turned upside down. Foreign Minister Jubair is still preconditioning the “removal” of President Assad for any peace deal to be endorsed. No one is regurgitating his rhetoric with any sympathy, and his kingdom and Turkey must have reached the stage of thinking that if the tens of thousands of militants could not do the job, if America and NATO won’t step in, then we shall pull our sleeves up and do it.
For many decades, Saudi Arabia had been the perfect model that America seeks in places like the Middle East. Saudi Arabia has been stable and compliant. This is what America seeks as an ultimate objective; a compliance-based stability. When compliance cannot be achieved, creating instability becomes contingency plan B.
However, the tides of Saudi Arabia are turning, or will soon be turning. Saudi compliance is beginning to wane. The Saudis are very unhappy to see the Iranian nuclear deal with the USA coming to fruition. They are vocalizing their grievances and this spells danger for the Americans because it reeks with the smell of compliance-under-threat.
The same can be said about Erdogan with respect to his recent attacks on American foreign policies. And when compliance weakens, America puts contingency plans into action. This is the scenario when the American bully steps in and creates instability, but Turkey is not Saudi Arabia. If America now suddenly tries to pull the rug from underneath Erdogan’s feet, he will become the sacrificial lamb; not Turkey. But in the case of Saudi Arabia, and unless the royal family sacrifices the king and his arrogant son Prince Mohamed Bin Salman, then the whole royal family may be sacrificed.
In a not so recent article (4), Sharmine Narwani articulates why America is losing interest and ability to engage in more action in the Middle East, and again, I stand to be corrected, but the way I see it, America will not step in in defense of either Erdogan or Saudi Arabia in any invasion they plan for Syria. They may give them moral support, diplomatic support, and even arm supplies, but they will not engage militarily and will cut them loose.
This in itself puts the onus of winning on Saudi Arabia and Turkey. In this event, they will have two options; either send troops inside Syria, or just use her air space to launch limited aerial attacks and (approach the) borders for some artillery attacks.
With the Syrian-Turkish borders now mostly in the hands of the Kurds and Syrian Army, ground troops will have little chance, and with the S-400 deployed, aerial attacks will not be a walk in the park.
The options of Saudi Arabia and Turkey are to pull back, engage in very limited skirmishes to save face, or expand the conflict and face grave consequences.
By way of an update on Ghassan Kadi’s article “Turkey and Saudi Arabia: to fight or to flight?” below is Ghassan Kadi’s translation of an article published on 15 Feb 2015
The “Cold War” Over Syria…Will Remain Cold
By Sami Koleib, Assafir (Lebanese Daily), 15 February 2016. Translated by G and I Kadi
Introduction by Ghassan Kadi
Sami Koleib is a renowned pro-Resistance Lebanese journliast. He has made great analyses over the last few years and Intibah and I had the pleasure of translating some of his work.
In this article, he is articulating his views about the outcome of the huffing and puffing of Turkey and Saudi Arabia in regard to their threats of launching ground military operations in Syria. A highly recommended read.
The “Cold War” Over Syria…Will Remain Cold
By Sami Koleib
Assafir Lebanese Daily, 15 February 2016
Translated by Ghassan and Intibah Kadi
For the Russia Prime Minister, Dimitry Medvedev to say that the world is entering a cold war, he is declaring the status quo. and confirming what’s already confirmed. But to say it from Munich, this is the same place from which President Vladimir Putin began to stand up against Washington in his famous speech nearly eight years ago. And, for Medvedev to mention the Russian Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 to stop an American invasion, is only a reminder of the new red lines for any land invasion perpetrated by the enemies of the Syrian President Bashar Al Assad in Syria’s north, and specifically to any Saudi-Turkish gamble with a NATO cover. The cold war is realistically under way, what’s new in it this time is that it is the Syrian scorched ground that decides its destiny..and it seems that various contacts made in the last few hours have focussed on putting the situation under control and prioritising on fighting terrorism.
What’s worthy of noticing in what Medvedev has said, and he is the one who alternates Presidency and Prime Ministership with Putin since the duo decided to return Russia to the world centre stage, that there is no end to this cold war except through American-Russian agreement.. as for the others, they are simply pawns. Most probably, reason will prevail in as far as the American-Russian relationships are concerned, otherwise the cold war will heat up. Contrary to all posturing, threats made, Putin and Obama continued to communicate, two days ago, just like John Kennedy and Nikita Kruschev did back in 1962. According to reliable European sources, the Russian President asked his American counterpart to “harness” Turkey so it would stop its bombardment of Kurds and Syrian military targets, and also, to downscale the Saudi rhetoric about direct military involvement in Syria. The wording of Putin carried a clear warning to both countries if Washington did not make a move along these lines.
We should also note that the White House took the initiative to contact Moscow and made a statement saying that President Putin renewed his assertion to form a united front against terrorism..and that the defense ministers of both countries will intensify their coordination..the rest are just pawns! Barack Obama has no interest at all to bestow upon his successor a new war just before he leaves office and, after all, he is the one who forged an agreement with “the apex of the axis of evil”, Iran, and made peace with the “outlaw state”, Cuba, in his own neighbourhood. Putin also does not have any interest to create economic burdens that a new arms race will inflict.
So why is Medvedev making his warning?
The current problem of the United States is not with its adversaries, it is with its allies. Saudi Arabia and Israel have been feeling marginalised ever since the nuclear deal. They both see the West marketing a new Iran. Turkey, on the other hand, sees that America is bolstering its alliance with the Kurds and now has become prepared to accept that Bashar Al Assad remains in power..and his recapture of northern Syria. It is an aberration for Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the President of a NATO member State, to say to America, the leader of NATO, that their policies have turned the region into a pool of blood.
Have regional powers become able to declare mutiny on America and drag it into war?
Of course not, they can not revolt, but they are capable of kindling many fires unless Washington smacks them into obedience..and this is exactly what it is going to do.
According to some sources, American and European discussions have been intensified with all relevant regional parties. This is essential, especially that Tehran has offered two responses: the first of which is a warning saying that the response will be very harsh and may hit the heart of Saudi Arabia, and that the Saudi forces will suffer a huge defeat if it gets involved, and the second one is by extending the hand of friendship to Riyadh via the words of Foreign Minister Muhammad Jawwad Zarif, the star of Western media since the nuclear accord. Zarif said, “by cooperating with our brothers in Saudi Arabia and Turkey, we can resolve all regional problems and issues”.
Similar words were echoed by the Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubair in saying: “we are pleased to have good relationships with Iran, but they have to take serious steps and stop intervening in our affairs”, and as usual repeating his mantra that Assad will fall politically or militarily in the end. The pertinent point here is that the further north the Syrian Army moves, Saudi Arabia needs to repeat this mantra more often for domestic and regional reasons as well.
The statement that Syrian Foreign Minister, Walid Mouallem, made about the returning home of Saudis in coffins, is probably backed by joint Russian-Iranian determination to confront any foreign interference that has not been approved by both the Americans and the Russians under the clear mandate of fighting terrorism only.
Is it possible to slip into a wider war?
So far this seems unlikely, but however, some reliable sources argue that Saudi Arabia has made some plans for direct military action in Syria for a long time. Those plans were made before the big advances that the Syrian Army and its allies made in the north, but it had always felt that what the militants were doing was enough and that there was no need for that. However, Saudi Arabia and Turkey are currently under great pressure and they are both looking for a role. What they seek is not essentially going into a war that Riyadh knows beforehand how much it is going to cost, what is sought however is to maintain a Saudi-Turkish role in what is planned for the future of Syria.
We should notice something very important: neither Turkey nor Saudi Arabia have thus far declared that they are embarking on their military intervention without a cover. They are both saying that this is all within an international plan to fight Daesh. For example, we see the Turkish Foreign Minister, Mouloud Jawish Oglu declaring that, “if there’s an anti-Daesh strategy then it becomes possible for Turkey and Saudi Arabia to launch a land operation”… The “if” that the Jawish Oglu statement begins with is very pertinent. In a similar manner Adel Jubair told CNN that, “Saudi Arabia is prepared to send special forces to join the coalition in a land operation in Syria”, in other words, taking part in a coalition under the auspices and direction of the United States.
The possible escalation is towards a wider war but not towards an all out war.
This is possible if one of these things happen:
– if Saudi Arabia and Turkey get involved directly on the ground or in the air without an international cover.
-Putin made a clear warning two days ago, and Obama is quite unhappy about the Turkish bombardment of his Kurdish allies. Several American and European messages have been sent to Ankara in this regard.
-If Turkey shoots down Russian or Syrian planes over Syrian soil. But it seems that it would not dare do this any more.
-In the event of military confrontation between Israel and Iran, in either Syria or Lebanon, directly or via Hezbollah.
-If some intelligence apparatus commits a major assassination or a major explosion of significance.
What do Turkey and Saudi Arabia want?
Turkey and Saudi Arabia want for either the Syrian Army and its allies to stop moving north, and this has become impossible for them to achieve, or for them to get a role in future plans, as they both consider that the current period is very fortuitous for them to put pressure on American Democrats just before Presidential elections. They will also accept to have forces in the “international coalition”, and this is what Assad has refused in his last interview in which he said that the war in the north aims for, “cutting the link between Turkey and Aleppo”… We can only imagine Erdogan’s face when he reads this statement, and as he is fighting an internal war with Kurds, and feels that things are falling out of his hands.
What will the allies of Assad do?
-Putin will continue to give the West both biscuits and tranquilizer pills, as his fighter jets are delivering fire on the enemies of Assad. He will continue doing this irrespective of what happens, for he and Assad are both saying that the current peace negotiations have nothing to do with fighting terrorism.
-Iran will intensify its direct involvement or indirectly via Hezbollah in the Syrian war, all the while making sugar-coated statements to the Saudis, knowing beforehand, that this will upset the Saudis more than calm them, such statements however make Iran look good in the eyes of the West and serve as a good cover up for military action.
With this complex regional and international Syrian scene, the main questions are the following: what is the true American position towards Assad?, how far did the American-Iranian agreement reach?, what is the level of American-Russian agreement about Syria?
It seems that [Druze Lebanese political leader] Walid Jumblatt has got the hint. He said that the world will give Aleppo back to Assad in the name of peace. Undoubtedly he would have wished that hint wasn’t there and that he didn’t pick it up. The time of trying to topple Assad is gone. Fighting terrorism takes precedence. Future terrorism is going to be bigger and stronger. French Prime Minister, Manuel Valls said it very clearly in Munich when he stated that the Syrian Army is its most important opponent. There is little doubt that it enjoys tacit American support to move north. Obama will not allow anyone to drag him into a wider war before he leaves the White House.
2. Week Eighteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria: a dramatic escalation appears imminent
By The Saker, written for the Unz Review. 13 February 2016
The situation in Syria has reached a watershed moment and a dramatic escalation of the war appears imminent. Let’s look again at how we reached this point.
During the first phase of the operation, the Syrian armed forces were unable to achieve an immediate strategic success. This is rather unsurprising. It is important to remember here that during the first weeks of the operation the Russian did not provide close air support to the Syrians. Instead, they chose to systematically degrade the entire Daesh (Note: I refer to *all* terrorist in Syria as “Daesh”) infrastructure including command posts, communication nodes, oil dumps, ammo dumps, supply routes, etc. This was important work, but it did not have an immediate impact upon the Syrian military. Then the Russians turned to two important tasks: to push back Daesh in the Latakia province and to hit the illegal oil trade between Daesh and Turkey. The first goal was needed for the protection of the Russian task force and the second one hit the Daesh finances. Then the Russians seriously turned to providing close air support. Not only that, but the Russians got directly involved with the ground operation.
The second phase was introduced gradually, without much fanfare, but it made a big difference on the ground: the Russians and Syrians began to closely work together and they soon honed their collaboration to a quantitatively new level which allowed the Syrian commanders to use Russian firepower with great effectiveness. Furthermore, the Russians began providing modern equipment to the Syrians, including T-90 tanks, modern artillery systems, counter-battery radars, night vision gear, etc. Finally, according to various Russian reports, Russian special operations teams (mostly Chechens) were also engage in key locations, including deep in the rear of Daesh. As a result, the Syrian military for the first time went from achieving tactical successes to operational victories: for the first time the Syrian began to liberate key towns of strategic importance.
Finally, the Russians unleashed a fantastically intense firepower on Daesh along crucial sectors of the front. In northern Homs, the Russians bombed a sector for 36 hours in a row. According to the latest briefing of the Russian Defense Ministry, just between February 4th and February 11th, the Russian aviation group in the Syrian Arab Republic performed 510 combat sorties and engaged 1’888 terrorists targets. That kind of ferocious pounding did produce the expected effect and the Syrian military began slowly moving along the Turkish-Syrian border while, at the same time, threatening the Daesh forces still deployed inside the northern part of Aleppo. In doing so, the Russians and Syrian threatened to cut off the vital resupply route linking Daesh to Turkey. According to Russian sources, Daesh forces were so demoralized that they forced the local people to flee towards the Turkish border and attempted to hide inside this movement of internally displaced civilians.
This strategic Russian and Syrian victory meant that all the nations supporting Daesh, including Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the USA were facing a complete collapse of their efforts to overthrow Assad and to break-up Syria and turn part of it into a “Jihadistan”. The Americans could not admit this, of course, as for the Saudis, their threats to invade Syria were rather laughable. Which left the main role to Erdogan who was more than happy to provide the West with yet another maniacal ally willing to act in a completely irresponsible way just to deny the “other side” anything looking like a victory.
Erdogan seems to be contemplating two options. The first one is a ground operation into Syria aimed at restoring the supply lines of Daesh and at preventing the Syrian military from controlling the border. Here is a good illustration (taken from a SouthFront video) of what this would look like:
Needless to say, both plans are absolutely illegal under international law and would constitute an act of aggression, the “supreme international crime” according to the Nuremberg Tribunal, because “it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.” Not that this would deter a megalomaniac like Erdogan.
Erdogan, and his backers in the West, will, of course, claim that a humanitarian disaster, or even a genocide, is taking place in Aleppo, that there is a “responsibility to protect” (R2P) and that no UNSC is needed to take such clearly “humanitarian” action. It would be “Sarajevo v2” or “Kosovo v2” all over again. The western media is now actively busy demonizing Putin, and just recently has offered the following topics to ponder to those poor souls who still listen to it:
- Putin ‘probably’ ordered the murder of Litvinenko.
- Putin ordered the murder of Litvinenko because Litvinenko was about to reveal that Putin was a pedophile (seriously, I kid you not – check for yourself!).
- WWIII could start by Russia invading Latvia.
- According to the US Treasury, Putin is a corrupt man.
- According to George Soros, Putin wants the “disintegration of the EU” and Russia is a bigger threat than the Jihadis.
- Russia is so scary that the Pentagon wants to quadruple the money for the defense of Europe.
- The Putin is strengthening ISIS in Syria and causing a wave of refugees.
There is no need to continue the list – you get the idea. It is really Bosnia, Kosovo, Iraq, Libya all over again, with the exact same “humanitarian crocodile tears” and the exact same rational for an illegal aggression. And instead of Sarajavo “martyr city besieged by Serbian butchers” we would now have Aleppo “martyr city besieged by Syrian butchers”. I even expect a series of false flags inside Aleppo next “proving” that “the world” “must act” to “prevent a genocide”.
The big difference, of course, is that Yugoslavia, Serbia, Iraq and Libya were all almost defenseless against the AngloZionist Empire. Not so Russia.
In purely military terms, Russia has taken a number of crucial steps: she declared a large scale “verification” of the “combat readiness” of the Southern and Central military districts. In practical terms, this means that all the Russian forces are on high alert, especially the AeroSpace forces, the Airborne Forces, the Military Transportation Aviation forces and, of course, all the Russian forces in Crimea and the Black Sea Fleet. The first practical effect of such “exercises” is not only to make a lot of forces immediately available, but it is also to make them very difficult to track. This not only protects the mobilized forces, but also makes it very hard for the enemy to figure out what exactly they are doing. There are also report that Russian Airborne Warning and Control (AWACS) aircraft – A-50M – are now regularly flying over Syria. In other words, Russia has taken the preparations needed to go to war with Turkey.
Needless to say, the Turks and the Saudis have also announced joint military exercises. They have even announced that Saudi aircraft will conduct airstrikes from the Incirlik air base in support of an invasion of Syria.
At the same time, the Russians have also launched a peace initiative centered around a general ceasefire starting on March 1st or even, according to the latest leaks, on February 15th. The goal is is transparent: to break the Turkish momentum towards an invasion of Syria. It is obvious that Russian diplomats are doing everything they can to avert a war with Turkey.
Here again I have to repeat what I have said already a million times in the past: the small Russian contingent in Syria is in a very precarious position: far away from Russia and very close (45km) to Turkey. Not only that, but the Turks have over 200 combat aircraft ready to attack, whereas the Russians probably has less than 20 SU-30/35/34s in total. Yes, these are very advanced aircraft, of the 4++ generation, and they will be supported by S-400 systems, but the force ratio remains a terrible 1:10.
Russia does, however, have one big advantage over Turkey: Russia has plenty of long-range bombers, armed with gravity bombs and cruise missiles, capable of striking the Turks anywhere, in Syria and in Turkey proper. In fact, Russia even has the capability to strike at Turkish airfields, something which the Turks cannot prevent and something which they cannot retaliate in kind for. The big risk for Russia, at this point, would be that NATO would interpret this as a Russian “aggression” against a member-state, especially if the (in)famous Incirlik air base is hit.
Erdogan also has to consider another real risk: that, while undoubtedly proficient, the Turkish forces might not be a match for the battle-hardened Kurds and Syrians, especially if the latter are supported by Iranian and Hezbollah forces. The Turks have a checkered record against the Kurds whom they typically do overwhelm with firepower and numbers, but whom they never succeeded in neutralizing, subduing or eliminating. Finally, there is the possibility that Russians might have to use their ground forces, especially if the task force in Khmeimim is really threatened.
In this regard, let me immediately say that the projection of, say, an airborne force so far from the Russian border to protect a small contingent like the one in Khmeimim is not something the Airborne Forces are designed for, at least not “by the book”. Still, in theory, if faced with a possible attack on the Russian personnel in Khmeimin, the Russians could decide to land a regimental-size airborne force, around 1’200 men, fully mechanized, with armor and artillery. This force could be supplemented by a Naval Infantry battalion with up to another 600 men. This might not seem like much in comparison to the alleged 18’000 men Erdogan has massed at the border, but keep in mind that only a part of these 18’000 would be available for any ground attack on Khmeimin and that the Russian Airborne forces can turn even a much larger force into hamburger meat (for a look at modern Russian Airborne forces please see here). Frankly, I don’t see the Turks trying to overrun Khmeimin, but any substantial Turkish ground operation will make such a scenario at least possible and Russian commanders will not have the luxury of assuming that Erdogan is sane, not after the shooting down of the SU-24. After that the Russians simply have to assume the worst.
What is clear is that in any war between Russia and Turkey NATO will have to make a key decision: is the alliance prepared to go to war with a nuclear power like Russia to protect a lunatic like Erdogan? It is hard to imagine the US/NATO doing something so crazy but, unfortunately, wars always have the potential to very rapidly get out of control. Modern military theory has developed many excellent models of escalation but, unfortunately, no good model of how de-escalation could happen (at least not that I am aware of). How does one de-escalate without appearing to be surrendering or at least admitting to being the weaker side?
The current situation is full of dangerous and unstable asymmetries: the Russian task force in Syria is small and isolated and it cannot protect Syria from NATO or even from Turkey, but in the case of a full-scale war between Russia and Turkey, Turkey has no chance of winning, none at all. In a conventional war opposing NATO and Russia I personally don’t see either side losing (whatever ‘losing’ and ‘winning’ mean in this context) without engaging nuclear weapons first. This suggests to me that the US cannot allow Erdogan to attack the Russian task force in Syria, not during a ground invasion and, even less so, during an attempt to establish a no-fly zone.
The problem for the USA is that it has no good option to achieve its overriding goal in Syria: to “prevent Russia from winning”. In the delusional minds of the AngloZionist rulers, Russia is just a “regional power” which cannot be allowed to defy the “indispensable nation”. And yet, Russia is doing exactly that both in Syria and in the Ukraine and Obama’s entire Russia policy is in shambles. Can he afford to appear so weak in an election year? Can the US “deep state” let the Empire be humiliated and its weakness exposed?
The latest news strongly suggests to me that the White House has taken the decision to let Turkey and Saudi Arabia invade Syria. Turkish officials are openly saying that an invasion is imminent and that the goal of such an invasion would be to reverse the Syrian army gains along the boder and near Aleppo. The latest reports are also suggesting that the Turks have begun shelling Aleppo. None of that could be happening without the full support of CENTCOM and the White House.
The Empire has apparently concluded that Daesh is not strong enough to overthrow Assad, at least not when the Russian AeroSpace forces are supporting him, so it will now unleash the Turks and the Saudis in the hope of changing the outcome of this war or, if that is not possible, to carve up Syria into ‘zones of responsibility” – all under the pretext of fighting Daesh, of course.
The Russian task force in Syria is about to be very seriously challenged and I don’t see how it could deal with this new threat by itself. I very much hope that I am wrong here, but I have to admit that a *real* Russian intervention in Syria might happen after all, with MiG-31s and all. In fact, in the next few days, we are probably going to witness a dramatic escalation of the conflict in Syria.
——— The article below is an update on the situation in north Syria
Road To World War III: Turk Army Enters Syria After 2nd Day Of Shelling As Saudi Warplanes Arrive
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 14-Feb-2016 – USA time (15 Feb Aust. time)
On Saturday 13 Feb 2016, the geopolitical world was shocked when Turkey began shelling Aleppo, where the Syrian opposition has its back against the wall in the face of an aggressive advance by Hezbollah and the IRGC supported, of course, by Russian airstrikes.
To be sure, everyone knew Ankara and Riyadh would have to do something quick if they wanted to preserve the rebellion. Their proxies are being rolled up rapidly by Hassan Nasrallah’s army (Hezbollah) and Vladimir Putin’s air force juggernaut. But few expected the escalation would come so quickly.
But Recep Tayyip Erdogan is unpredictable (just ask the lone surviving pilot of the Su-24 Turkey shot down in November) and this weekend, he decided that there’s no time like the present when it comes to starting World War III.
Officially, Turkey says it’s shelling Kurdish positions in Syria in self defense. It’s all about securing the border against hostiles, Ankara says. Of course the idea that the YPG are set to invade Turkey is laughable. The Syrian Kurds have secured enough space in their own country to declare an autonomous proto-state, and they needn’t aspire to capturing Turkish territory.
“They are abusing U.S. support to capture land from the opposition,”a Turkish official said, reflecting Ankara’s anger at the fact that Russia and Hezbollah’s offensive is making it easier for the Kurds to consolidate their gains. “The U.S. should tell them to stop rather than telling Turkey to stop.”
But for Erdogan, that’s precisely the problem. Ankara fears the YPG’s gains will embolden the PKK militarily and the HDP politically and last June’s elections clearly suggest that an emboldened Kurdish minority has the power to shake up the political scene.
And so, Turkey is set to take the fight to Syria in the name of fighting “terrorists”, which for Erdogan, means eradicating the Kurds. As we noted on Saturday, the challenge for Ankara and Riyadh is this: somehow, Turkey and Saudi Arabia need to figure out how to spin an attack on the YPG and an effort to rescue the opposition at Aleppo as an anti-ISIS operation even though ISIS doesn’t have a large presence in the area.
Incredibly, Turkey seems less concerned about the optics than we thought. In short, Erdogan looks as though he’s prepared to simply enter the war on the pretext that Turkey needs to roll back the YPG which, you’re reminded is explicitly backed by the US.
In a way that makes sense. You can’t very well shell Aleppo and use ISIS as an excuse. The group’s presence isn’t large enough in the area. But what you can do is say “the PKK are terrorists, they’re allied with the YPG who are in Aleppo, and therefore, we need to shell Aleppo.”
(Saif al Dawle neighborhood of Aleppo)
Put in the simplest possible terms, what Erdogan is really doing is trying to reopen supply lines closed by Russia and Iran by wiping out Kurdish forces who dominate the northern border with Turkey.
The shelling continued on Sunday. “The Turkish army shelled positions held by Kurdish-backed militia in northern Syria for a second day on Sunday, killing two fighters,” Reuters reports, citing the admittedly dubious Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. The YPG controls nearly all of Syria’s northern frontier with Turkey, and has been a close ally of the United States in the campaign against Islamic State in Syria, but Ankara views the group as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which has waged a three-decade-old insurgency for autonomy in southeast Turkey.”
Jaysh al-Thuwwar, an allied group warned Turkey against further attacks, saying if the country “has goals in our dear nation, we will defend our land and our people, and view it as a hostile party”. Again, this comes from the very same groups the US is overtly supporting with arms and air power. So not the CIA-sponsored opposition. Turkey is shelling fighters who literally have the clearance to call in US airstrikes from warplanes that, in an irony of ironies, are flying from Incirlik, the Turkish air base.
And speaking of Incirlik, the Saudis are moving into position. They’re also conducting “exercises” dubbed “North Thunder” or, “Road North.” Here’s SPA:
Witnessing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the next few hours the arrival of troops participating in the military exercise largest and most important in the history of the region, “Raad north,” In the King Khalid Military City Hafr al-Batin in the northern kingdom will be implemented exercise which is the largest military maneuver in terms of the number of countries, with the participation of 20 Arab, Islamic and friendly country, in addition to the Peninsula shield forces, and these countries are: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Bahrain, Senegal, Sudan, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco , Pakistan, Chad, Tunisia, the moon, Djibouti, Oman, Qatar, Malaysia, Egypt, Mauritania, Mauritius, in addition to the Peninsula shield forces. Islands constitute Raad north, the largest military exercise of its kind in terms of the number of participating countries, and military equipment quality of weapons and military equipment diverse and sophisticated, including fighter jets from different models reflect the large quantitative and qualitative spectrum, which show him those forces, as well as the participation of a wide range of artillery and tanks, infantry and air defense systems, naval forces, in a simulation of the highest level of high alert for the armies of the countries 20 participation.
Exercise Raad North represents a clear message to the Saudi brothers and brothers and friends of the participating countries stand united to face all challenges and to maintain peace and stability in the region, in addition to the emphasis on many of the goals, all in full readiness circle and maintain the peace and security of the region and the world .
Analysts say that the exercise Raad North confirms that the leaders of the participating countries, are fully in line with the vision of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the need to protect the peace and stability in the region.
A lot of words to say this: “We’re flexing our muscles on the way to invading Syria.”
“What is present now is aircraft that are part of the Saudi forces,” Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri told Al Arabiya News Channel on Sunday, referencing the Saudi presence at Incirlik. “The kingdom is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition (against ISIS) may agree to carry out in Syria,” he added.
Remember, Turkey also shelled the Syrian army on Saturday.
“Turkish artillery shelled Syrian territory, targeting Syrian Kurdish positions and the positions of the Syrian Arab Army,” SANA news agency reported, citing a letter from Damascus to the UN. Expect those attacks to continue in the name of “self defense.”
Meanwhile, the Russians aren’t letting up. Aleppo will be recaptured and that, as they say, is that.
“Russia is determined to create facts on the ground, and when they have accomplished this, then they will invite the West to fight a common enemy, this is ISIS,” Norbert Roettgen, head of the foreign affairs committee in the German parliament says, underscoring our contention that Russia is determined to negotiate from a position of absolute strength. “Let’s be clear about what this agreement does. It allows Russia’s assault on Aleppo to continue for another week,” John McCain exclaimed. “Mr Putin is not interested in being our partner. He wants to shore up the Assad regime, he wants to establish Russia as a major power in the Middle East, he wants to use Syria as a live fire exercise for Russia’s modernizing military.”
Right. And America is seemingly powerless to stop him.
In the short term, the only question now is this: how long will it be before Turkey or Saudi Arabia kills a Hezbollah fighter or an IRGC general?
Or worse: what happens when a Russian ends up dead at the hands of the region’s Sunni powers?
3. The “Race To Raqqa” Is Quickly Intensifying
Posted by b on 13 February 2016 at http://www.moonofalabama.org/2016/02/the-race-to-raqqa-is-intensifying.html#more
This is a look at the larger picture of forces developing around Syria. Several foreign armies are aggregating at the Syrian borders with the intent to invade Syria and to occupy its eastern part. But before we dive into that, a short look at the curious situation developing in the north-west.
map by AFP(?) – bigger
The Syrian-Kurdish YPG troops were heavily supported by the U.S. in their fight against the Islamic State in north-eastern Syria. Under U.S. tutelage they united with Arab anti-IS fighters under the label Syrian Democratic Forces.
In north-west Syria the SDF has used the recent success of the Syrian army against Jihadis in the area to take northern parts of the Azaz corridor which once connected Aleppo to Turkey. That corridor is held by a mixture of al-Qaeda Jihadist from Jabhat al-Nusra, “Turkmen” Islamists from various Turk speaking countries and local Islamist gangs supported by the CIA under the label Free Syrian Army. All three get money and weapons from Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
The Syrian army is moving north and south from the red strip in the map. The SDF is moving east from the Kurdish enclave around Afrin. During the last days the SDF, supported by the Russian airforce, captured the Minnagh airbase which was held by al-Qaeda aligned forces. The SDF then proceeded north to take Azaz, the last major town the Turkish supported Islamist are holding in the area.
Turkey today used 155mm artillery to fire from Turkey against SDF positions on Minnagh airbase and around Azaz. There will be Turkish special forces observers in Syria to direct the fire.
The NATO member Turkey is shelling the YPG, which is backed by Russia and the U.S., and (also bombing) the SDF which is backed by the U.S. for (the YPG) attacking the FSA and Islamists who are backed by the U.S., Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
A nice little clusterfuck the smart (not!) girls and boys around Obama created.
But as described here two days ago in The Race To Raqqa Is On, a much bigger clusterfuck is currently in the making in and all around Syria.
The Russian and Syrian airforce will likely respond to the Turkish attack with an intensified bombing of positions held by Turkish proxy forces in Syria. Those forces just received new artillery ammunition and new TOW anti-tank missiles.
There is yet unconfirmed news that this situation will escalate very fast:
The Int’l Spectator @intlspectator
BREAKING: Turkish official says there will be a ‘massive escalation’ in Syria over next 24 hours.
The Turkish Foreign Minister said today (13 Feb 2016) that the fight against ISIS must include (Turkish) ground operations.
The Syrian government and its Iranian and Russian allies are determined to liberate the whole country from the foreign supported terrorists and the Islamic State. The want to keep the country united.
The aim of outside forces, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, the UAE, the U.S., Britain, France is to occupy east Syria to gain political concession from the Syrian government and its allies. They will demand the reconfiguration of the independent, secular Syrian state under President Assad into a dependent Sunni Islamist entity. Should that demand not be fulfilled they will form a new “Sunnistan” Islamist protectorate from the currently ISIS held carcasses of east Syria and west-Iraq.
Turkey today threatened further and wider attacks on Kurdish held areas in Syria. The Turkish 2nd Army is positioned to attack Syria from the north. It could come through the ISIS held corridor between Azaz in the west and Jarablus in the east and move south towards the Islamic State held Raqqa while other forces, see below, would reach Raqqa from the south and south east. Syria would be thus split into a government held western half and an ISIS and U.S. allies held eastern half.
Russian advisers have trained one Syrian brigade specifically for the purpose of holding off a Turkish invasion. But that brigade is probably not a big enough deterrence for the large Turkish forces and could soon be overwhelmed.
The Saudis today claimed again that Assad must be overthrown to defeat the Islamic State. That is of course nonsense but the Saudi family dictatorship has a personal grudge against Assad. The Syrian President once called the Saudis “only half men”. (IMHO He was too generous.)
Twenty Saudi F-15 jets arrived today in Incirlik airbase in Turkey to, allegedly, join the U.S. coalition force against the Islamic State. The Saudis also promised to send ground forces if those would fight under some allied command “against ISIS”. The United Arab Emirates promised to send special forces for the same purpose. Some Saudi ground forces have already been observed making their way through Jordan.
At least 1,600 British troops with heavy weapons and equipment are currently arriving in Jordan. The Brits claim that this is just for some normal training maneuver but we can expect the British government to have been paid off enough by the Gulf Arabs to take part in the fight. The British units would likely lead a Saudi/UAE/(maybe also Egyptian?) combined force from east Jordan up through the Syrian desert towards Raqqa and Deir Ezzor. These forces are currently explained as “trainers” who will enter Syria to instigate Syrian Arab tribes to fight ISIS. If there were enough forces in such tribes at all, these could be trained in Jordan. There is currently no Syrian or Russian force in the desert that could prevent such a move.
An additional brigade from the U.S. 101st Airborne is deploying to Iraq without much public announcement. Its task is an invasion of Syria from the south-east along the Euphrates to first capture Deir Ezzor and to then move on to Raqqa.
The Syrian army is on its way to ISIS held Raqqa to prevent any foreign force reaching there first. It will have to hurry up. The race to Raqqa is intensifying.
The Russians have alarmed several airborne brigades and air transport units of their Southern command to be ready for a fast intervention should such troops be needed in Syria. The Russians could airdrop an airborne brigade into the government held, ISIS besieged parts of Deir Ezzor (video from 28 Jan ’16 in Russian and Arabic with English subtitles) to prevent that city from being attacked or taken over by Saudi and/or U.S. forces. Two additional Russian missile ships are on their way to the Syrian coast. They carry long distance Kalibr cruise missiles which can be used against other ships as well as against land targets.
Iran is ready to send as many men from its Revolutionary Guard and Quds brigades to Syria as are needed to sustain the governments fight. These folks salivate over the prospect of having some regular Saudi forces for breakfast.
There are active attempts to draw all NATO nations into the phony “fight against ISIS”. When the war over Syria gets hotter NATO will likely try to create diversions elsewhere to keep Russia distracted from reacting properly in Syria. The U.S. will tell its Ukrainian puppet government to reengage in massive attacks on Russian supported Ukrainian rebels in east Ukraine.
The war against Syria, waged by the U.S., Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, was so far carried out by proxy forces and foreign mercenaries within Syria’s borders. When the Syrian government was on the verge of losing the successful Russian intervention turned the war around. German intelligence now asserts (article & video in German) that the Syrian government is winning the war against the foreign supported forces.
As the war by proxy against Syria has now failed, the anti-Syrian powers have decided to join the action on the ground with their own forces. The “fight against ISIS” (which the Syrians and Russian are fighting more than anybody else) is now the pretext to capture eastern Syria, to split the country in half and to destroy the Syrian government and state.
The “civil war” in Syria is now developing into an large international conflagration over the future of Syria and the whole Middle East.
Meanwhile the Islamic State, confused by this U.S. created clusterfuck in Iraq and Syria, decides to relocate its headquarters from Iraq and Syria to Libya, the other failed state, and to ‘Charly Foxtrot’ (“Cluster-Fuck” using the Phonetic Alphabet) the U.S.-France-UK recently created (military intervention force) – See http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/01/06/world-view-u-s-britain-france-prepare-libya-military-offensive-for-2016/). There the Islamic State will find rich oil fields, lots of new weapons and no capable enemies.
Posted by b on February 13, 2016 at 02:30 PM
4. While Kerry Talks Ceasefire, US Allies Secretly Ship Grad Missiles to Syria Rebels
written by daniel mcadams 12 February 2016
The big news yesterday was that after some five hours of intense negotiation on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, an agreement was reached between the major powers on a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria within the next week.
According to the agreement:
The [International Syria Support Group] members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council. The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.
Now today — just one day after the ceasefire agreement — we discover that a massive shipment of ground-to-ground “Grad” missiles has been sent by US allies (and the CIA?) to rebels fighting against the Syrian government.
‘It is excellent additional fire power for us,’ said one of the commanders, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. The second rebel commander said the missiles were being used to hit army positions beyond the front line. ‘They give the factions longer reach,’ he said.
What are we to conclude by this dramatic turn of events? Two possibilities.
One, that since the deal is not finalized on paper the foreign powers backing regime change for Syria did not feel the need to halt the shipment and in fact may have hastened the delivery.
Two, that the “rebels” being supplied do not fall under the terms of the agreement spelled out above. In other words, the ceasefire does not apply to ISIS or al-Qaeda or affiliated forces, so perhaps the foreign Grad suppliers decided this is a two-way street: if Russia is still free to bomb the terrorist groups, then Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc. are still free to provide them weapons.
Does anyone have any confidence in this kind of ceasefire when either the “moderates” or named terrorist groups are being armed to the teeth on the eve of its implementation? Will the Russians begin to doubt the veracity of their western partners’ commitment to halting the violence in Syria when they learn of this massive weapons shipment?
Copyright © 2016 by RonPaul Institute. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit and a live link are given.
5. Russia says Aleppo militants lay down arms
11 February 2016
Russia says some opposition groups in the Syrian city of Aleppo are breaking ranks with militants and cooperating with the government.
In Dara’a Province, several groups have agreed to lay down their arms, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told reporters in Moscow on Thursday.
“Syrian opposition groups have been productively sharing intelligence with us. Many are shifting to cooperation with the Syrian government,” he said.
Aided by Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army is closing in on the last pockets of militant positions in Aleppo which borders Turkey.
Konashenkov said terrorists are trying to flee to Turkey, “blending into” civilians as they know Russian jets won’t attack peaceful population, the Tass news agency reported.
“Mass desertion is fixed among gunmen groups operating in the area of Aleppo. Terrorists intimidate local population and use force to drive people to the Turkish border,” he said.
He said terrorists were dropping their weapons and trying to hide among the civilians.
The spokesman also turned the tables on the US over allegations that two hospitals had been targeted in Russian airstrikes in Aleppo.
US warplanes, he said, had flown from Turkey to hit targets inside Aleppo on Wednesday.
“Only, aviation of the anti-ISIS [Daesh] coalition flew over the city yesterday,” Konashenkov said in a statement.
“At 13:55 Moscow time, two US Air Force A-10 attack aircraft entered Syrian airspace from Turkish territory. Reaching Aleppo by the most direct path, they made strikes against objects in the city,” he added.
The statement came after the Pentagon accused Russian and Syrian government forces of destroying two main hospitals in Aleppo in air raids.
Konashenkov said Russian warplanes only hit targets some 20 km (12 miles) from the city on Wednesday.
He said Russian armed forces and their partners “have deployed a multi-layered intelligence system that ensures reliable detection of targets.”
“Only after multiple checks of the obtained data and ruling out any risks for peaceful civilians, airstrikes are delivered at those targets,” he told reporters.
The US has been carrying out airstrikes inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Syrian government or a UN mandate.
Brett McGurk, special envoy of US President Barack Obama, said Wednesday Russian airstrikes around Aleppo “directly promote” the rise of Daesh.
Syria’s government advances and militant losses have unleashed a chorus of warnings by the West and its regional allies about a new wave of refugee influx.
On Wednesday, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) warned that the humanitarian situation is rapidly deteriorating in Aleppo, saying the surge in fighting has displaced about 50,000 people.
In a TV report this week by France 24, one of the Western media outlets prominently running the narrative of Russian air strikes on civilians, the news team interviewed four Syrian people in a Turkish hospital who had recently come out of Aleppo. All were former “fighters” – or terrorists. Could France 24 not find civilians to interview?”
6. Losing the War, Blame Russia (By Finian Cunningham, 9 Feb 2016)
Western politicians, media and the Turkish regime are full of it. The latest wave of refugees on the Syrian-Turkish border are, we are told, terrified civilians fleeing Russian air strikes.
No doubt civilians are caught up in this war. But many of those portrayed as refugees fleeing now from the northern city of Aleppo are actually retreating militants, who are capitulating because of Russian and Syrian military success in terminating their insurgency.
As ever distorting reality, the Western news media are transmitting a classic psychological operation in their coverage of the latest stage in what is actually the foreign-backed war of aggression on Syria.
Incredibly, Russia and the Syrian Arab Army are painted as the “bad guys”, and in turn this narrative is used to build a pretext for “responsibility to protect” – the faux humanitarian cover to allow for unwarranted foreign intervention.
That intervention could be either in the form of a US-led military invasion into Syrian territory; or in the form of political, legalistic pressure on Russia and Syria to stop their otherwise very effective offensive against illegally armed groups.
It should be emphasized that these groups, which can be objectively defined as “terrorists”, have been trying to overthrow the elected government of Syria on behalf of foreign powers, including the US, Britain, France and their regional client regimes in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey.
German chancellor Angela Merkel was in Turkey this week where she told news reporters that she was “appalled by the humanitarian crisis mainly caused by Russian air strikes” around the northern Syrian city ofAleppo.
Merkel said she and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu were now going to urgently press for a “diplomatic solution” to halt the Russian and Syrian military offensive. The German leader erroneously cited United Nations resolution 2254 issued in December as her mandate. The resolution actually gives a priority mandate to defeat terrorist groups, which is what the Syrian army and Russia are doing.
Meanwhile, Voice of America, the US government-owned news outlet, reported the situation in northern Syria as follows: “The sweeping Russian-backed offensive in northern Syria by President Bashar al-Assad’s military and foreign fighters from Iran, Lebanon and Afghanistan is triggering a humanitarian crisis by propelling thousands of civilians to flee to the Turkish border, say political activists and rebel commanders.”
Turns out if you read the VOA article that its “political activists and rebel commanders” are integrated with radical jihadist militia linked to al-Qaeda. Hardly reliable sources.
Other Western media outlets have also portrayed the events in similar terms impugning Russia as a malign force inflicting suffering on Syrian civilians and “triggering a humanitarian crisis”.
This narrative is furnishing a “moral imperative” to justify a US-led military coalition deploying boots on the ground. Last week, Saudi and Turkish military forces were reportedly ready to send ground troops into Syria, allegedly to fight Islamist extremists.
US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is due to meet with coalition members this week in Brussels to discuss plans for a ground intervention in Syria. It is not hard to imagine how the purported humanitarian crisis on the Syrian-Turkish border could be invoked as an added pretext for “responsibility to protect”.
Echoes there of the NATO intervention in Libya back in 2011, which led to murder of Muammar Gaddafi, regime change and the country being overrun by al-Qaeda-type terror networks.
In Syria, this is all bitterly ironic given the systematic role that the US and its NATO and regional allies have played since March 2011 in infiltrating and destabilizing the once-peaceful country with mercenary proxies and weapons for their illicit scheme of regime change against the Assad government.
But a more recent nefarious role is seen in how the Turkish regime of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan appears to have deliberately exacerbated the scenes of chaos on Syria’s border.
It was last week that the Turkish authorities took the decision to close the border crossing north of Aleppo. This has predictably created a bottleneck whereby up to 35,000 people, according to the Turks, are stranded, unable to cross the border to refugee centers. Western media have given much coverage to the chaotic scenes.
However, the people apparently fleeing Aleppo are not all exactly “innocent civilians”, as the Western media are reporting.
According to Syrian sources, most of those on the move out of Aleppo are fighters, who have taken their families with them. Those militants belong to the al-Qaeda-linked brigades of Jabhat al Nusra, Ahrar al Sham, Jaish al Fateh and even the notorious Daesh terror group.
Video footage and images show that among the throng of those fleeing Aleppo for the Turkish border are men donning combat-style uniforms.
In a TV report this week by France 24, one of the Western media outlets prominently running the narrative of Russian air strikes on civilians, the news team interviewed four Syrian people in a Turkish hospital who had recently come out of Aleppo. All were former “fighters” – or terrorists. Could France 24 not find civilians to interview?
We should bear in mind too that Aleppo has a total population of 300,000, so the number of people said to have fled the city for the Turkish border is a small minority. Syrian sources say that the vast majority of Aleppo residents are relieved that the Syrian army, backed by Russian air power, is moving in to finally liberate them.
For the past five years, residents of Aleppo were held under siege by occupying jihadists imposing a reign of terror. The hapless civilians were forcibly kept as human shields to prevent the Syrian army advancing to retake the city. This same scenario has been witnessed in many other towns and cities which have been liberated by the Syrian army, much to the jubilation of the freed inhabitants.
To be sure, the Western media won’t report on those situations of residents celebrating liberation, as in the towns of Madaya, Rabia, Nubbul, Zahraa, Ataman and Sheikh Miskeen last week, and many others before that, since the Russian military intervention began on September 30.
The simple truth is that Russia’s military intervention in Syria has enabled the Syrian army to win the war against foreign-backed regime change. Thousands of mercenaries and other illegally armed groups that had been fomented in Syria are now being routed.
But the Western media are spinning that the Russian-Syrian victory against a criminal covert war is somehow a violation of human rights.
Indeed such is the success of Russia and its Syrian ally in crushing the foreign subversion that the West is desperately trying to find a new narrative by which to thwart the Russian-Syrian success.
This is why the West is distorting a humanitarian crisis in Syria and blaming Russia for it. The West and its clients have failed in their covert military project and their cynical political process held in Geneva. They are losing their war in Syria, and now they are resorting to outright propaganda lies against Russia.
And, unfortunately, gormless Western politicians like Angela Merkel stand shoulder to shoulder with the very people who have created the Syrian crisis and who are inviting even more trouble for Europe.
The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.
The Huffington Post published Alistair Crook’s essay “The Syria War Will Not Be a Quagmire — Because Putin and Assad Are Winning” [http://www.huffingtonpost.com/alastair-crooke/syria-putin-assad_b_9169998.html] showing photos of people’s jubilation when the Syrian Army and Hezbollah forces entered villages that had been retaken from rebel forces this week!
Are the Neocons starting to realise they can gain nothing by continuing to support the terror campaign of the Saudis and Turks. It appears to be plausable deniability time! So conflicting stories are being shown to completely confuse everyone. And then they’ll go on with plans for the next country to destabilise.
7. The Syria War Will Not Be a Quagmire — Because Putin and Assad Are Winning
By Alastair Crooke, 8 February 2016
BEIRUT — Late in the night on Feb. 2, the news hit: “all communication and supply line[s]” between Turkey and Aleppo had been severed, according to a Elijah Magnier, a renowned Arab war correspondent with Alrai Media Group [https://elijahjm.wordpress.com/; https://twitter.com/EjmAlrai]. It seems to be so: the Syrian army and allied militias, backed by Hezbollah and Russian air power, took control of a tendril of territory that cuts off Aleppo-based rebels from the Turkish border. See the map below. Eastern supply lines for the so-called Islamic State appear to have also been cut.
Of particular strategic importance is the village of Murassat Khan and adjacent towns north of Aleppo: by taking control of the area, Damascus ended the main Turkey-Aleppo insurgent supply line. The tourniquet around Aleppo can be pulled off the city — and at the same time, one of the main ISIS oil corridors to Turkey is cut. If things proceed as they have been, with the regime advancing further into rebel-held territory, the red swathe of Syrian government forces will shortly expand to encircle all opposition forces (predominantly Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS), who themselves have been encircling Aleppo in the east.
Map courtesy of Syria Direct.
Edward Dark, a pseudonym for a respected commentator on Syrian affairs living in Aleppo, tweeted on Feb. 3, “This is the beginning of the end of jihadi presence in Aleppo. After 4 years of war & terror, people can finally see the end in sight.”
But if we were to step back and take a look at more of Syria, as shown in the (slightly older) map below, a bigger picture emerges.
Take a close look at the map below. The yellow area purports to represent territory controlled by Syrian Kurds. In reality, “control” is not an appropriate word. But the territory in yellow nevertheless can be said to be friendly to the Syrian army. The People’s Protection Units (a group of mostly Kurdish militias known by the acronym YPG) are being given Russian air support (and sometimes American air support as well). The Afrin canton (the yellow area in Syria’s northwest corner) is the area through which the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency supply line to rebel coalitions, along the Mount Turkmen heights, reportedly used to run. The Latakia region is now in the process of being sealed.
If government forces, moving north, can make friendly contact with the Kurds in the northeast, almost all Nusra and allied rebel forces would be nearly surrounded. The insurgents would be caught in a cauldron with their backs to a lightly populated and forested territory.
Map courtesy of Al-Masdar / The Arab Source.
The grey, ISIS-controlled corridor, especially the Jarablus border crossing with Turkey, remains effectively open. Turkey has proclaimed this represents its “red line.” Were this corridor to be closed by the Syrian Kurds, the Turks have indicated they could respond by invading Syria. The YPG say nonetheless, that they are contemplating just such a move.
In the last few days, the spokesman for the Russian defense ministry warned that Russia has seen clear evidence of Turkish preparations for a military invasion of Syria. It seems likely that this statement is intended by Russia as a warning to Turkey to do no such thing.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov made it absolutely clear (to Turkey and to everyone else) that Russia intends to close the border area between ISIS-held territory and Turkey: “The key point for the ceasefire to work is a task of blocking illegal trafficking across the Turkish-Syrian border, which supports the militants,” he said. “Without closing the border it is difficult to expect the ceasefire to take place.” Russia is politely telling Turkey that any incursion risks direct confrontation and war. Recently, for whatever reason, ISIS forces have appeared to start pulling out of that area.
Lavrov in Oman on Feb. 3. (Alexander Shcherbak\TASS via Getty Images)
With Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan being the irascible character that he is, it is possible that we may yet see surprises, like a Turkish incursion into northern Syria aimed — ostensibly — at preventing the Syrian Kurds from linking up along the southern side of the Turkish border. But, if Turkey were to take such independent action, it would likely forfeit any NATO support beyond rhetoric, and any Turkish expeditionary force would have to be launched in the face of Russia’s complete air superiority in Syria, which extends right up to the Turkish border.
To discourage Turkey from taking such a rash undertaking, however, Russia reportedly deployed several of its latest advanced fighter jets to Syria (which easily outclass Turkish F-16s) and also repaired and upgraded the Syrian air force’s line up.
To put it baldly then, as things stand, Syria seems to be heading not towards a “quagmire” as many western politicians have suggested, but rather to a clear military outcome. As one knowledgable commentator noted, the negotiating table is not in Geneva. The true negotiations are taking place on the battlefields of Idlib and Aleppo — and what has just been negotiated is the near encirclement of rebel forces into a cauldron.
Nor, it seems, is Syria heading toward a low-intensity guerrilla war in the aftermath of any military victory on the ground. The scenes below, showing people’s jubilation when the Syrian Army and Hezbollah forces entered villages that had been retaken from rebel forces this week, tell a different story:
Edward Dark @edwardedark
Pics: jubilation in Shia towns Nibol & Zahra N. Aleppo as #Syria army & Hezbollah arrive to lift 3 year jihadi siege http://twitter.com/edwardedark/status/695151519889543169/photo/1
Put simply, should Nusra members (who are mainly Syrian) and other rebels try to disperse and hide amongst local communities, there will be no water in which these fish can swim, to paraphrase the Maoist adage. They will find little or no public support. Syria has a very effective intelligence service. We may expect that within a year, most of the disbanded jihadists will have been found out and reported to the intelligence services by locals, who suffered grievously under their occupation. Most will be arrested or killed.
Peoples who undergo the kind of trauma to which Syrians have been subjected either emerge as a psychologically defeated nation or they are strengthened by the crisis through which they have passed. I am quite sure from my visits to Syria through this crisis that its people will emerge stronger. Steel has entered into the Syrian soul.
I also expect Syria to soon again constitute a strong regional state. The meaning of this will be evidenced in a powerful, cohesive northern arc through the region — and perhaps closer relations with Iraq. Correspondingly, certain Gulf states will find themselves eclipsed.
A civil defense team member stands on the debris of a building after a suspected Russian airstrike in Aleppo, Syria on Feb. 5, 2016. (Firas Taki/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
American and many European elites will find this outcome hard to swallow. Western diplomats and military officers have become more used to quagmires that lead to no political outcomes, or to fudges that lead to stasis, rather than interventions that have a real conclusion. That this should have been achieved with direct help from Russia, Iran and Hezbollah will be a bitter pill to swallow. It will have consequences too.
One is already apparent. The Obama administration announced this week it would ask Congress to quadruple its security assistance to Europe. Polarization seems to be on the cards. The 4+1 coalition (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah) is likely to become the core to a real security architecture for parts of the Middle East — and probably Central Asia too. China will increasingly be drawn into this new architecture as well, since it fears that its “One Belt, One Road” project, on which its economic future largely is staked, is as vulnerable to Wahhabism as was Syria and Iraq. Chinese officials, I’ve been told, are aware that America could again use the Wahhabist tool to frustrate their new project.
The question is, will the bitterness at Syria, Russia and Iran’s achievement poison America and Europe’s attitude towards the new security architecture being forged in Syria? Will it be seen as anti-Western (which it is not), or will Europe manage to curb the Pavlovian NATO impulses sufficiently to establish some modus vivendi? The auguries are not promising.
8. (The last half of) How Does the US Empire Control the World? Petrodollars Rule, Ok! (Part 3 up to:) The Financial Battle between the US Empire and Russia and China
8 February 2016 http://australianvoice.livejournal.com/
20. ENERGY WARS: EXXON-MOBIL PIPELINE THROUGH SYRIA
While Syria has significant reserves of oil, the main interest behind the proxy war fought by the US, the UK, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey against Syria is a pipeline you have probably never heard of. In 2009 the Assad government was asked to sign a proposed agreement with Qatar that would run the Arab Gas Pipeline from its North gas field through Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria and on to Turkey, with a view to supply European markets. The clear intention was to transport gas to the EU as competition with and/or replacement for gas from Russia and Iran. The Assad government refused. According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain started to plan covert action in Syria that same year.
Qatar’s Proposed Arab Gas Pipeline
To make matters worse, the Assad government signed two deals with Iraq and Iran for oil and gas pipelines through Syria:
“In late 2010, his government signed a memorandum of understanding with Iraq for the construction of two oil and one gas pipeline to carry gas and oil from Iraq’s Akkas and Kirkuk fields, respectively, to the Syrian port of Banias on the Mediterranean Sea. In July 2011 Iranian officials announced a $10 billion gas pipeline deal between Syria, Iraq and Iranthat would transport gas from Iran’s South Pars gas field, the world’s biggest, through Iraq to Syria.”(58a)
The Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline plan was a “direct slap in the face” to Qatar, the Saudis and Turkey. The following map shows the whole length of the Qatar-Turkey gas pipeline (purple) that Syria rejected, as well as the Iran-Iraq-Syria gas pipeline (red and named Islamic Pipeline on map) which is Syria’s alternative “slap in the face” to Qatar.(58b)
There are other reasons why some countries want to remove the current government in Syria. According to the International Business Times:
“Syria controls one of the largest conventional hydrocarbon resources in the eastern Mediterranean.
“Syria possessed 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil as of January 2013, which makes it the largest proved reserve of crude oil in the eastern Mediterranean according to the Oil & Gas Journal estimate.
“Syria also has oil shale resources with estimated reserves that range as high as 50 billion tons, according to a Syrian government source in 2010.”(59)
Syria’s energy reserves have been known for some time, but it is the preference for an Iranian gas pipeline over the one from Qatar, which is in effect owned by Exxon-Mobil, which tipped the balance against the Assad government.(60) It also explains why Qatar, the Saudis and Turkey, with US support, are the ones involved in the proxy war against Syria.They are the countries who would benefit most from the Arab Gas Pipeline. The central question is: Which company will be able to ship gas to Europe through Syria: Exxon-Mobil or the National Iranian Gas Company?
In the same way the Taliban was overthrown in Afghanistan after they signed a contract with BRIDAS from Argentina instead of UNOCAL for a gas pipeline through their territory, Syria’s Assad is being attacked by the West and Western backed states like Qatar and Saudi Arabia because the Assad government has its own plans for pipelines through its territory. This is why the US Empire wants to break the power of states like Syria and Iraq, so their oil and gas companies can do what they want, as in the old days when these countries were League of Nations “mandates” after World War I.
21. ENERGY WARS: IRAQ CHALLENGES THE PETRODOLLAR SYSTEM
It is easy to see that by nationalizing Iraq’s oil industry and becoming friends with the USSR, the US would not be happy with the regime of Saddam Hussein. But in 2003 the USSR did not exist any more, and the oil industry had been nationalized 30 years earlier. So what happened? Several writers, including F. William Engdahl, author of The Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order and William R. Clark, author of Petrodollar Warfare, explain the US attack as necessary to protect the Petrodollar system itself. Clark and Engdahl believe the U.S.-led invasion was inspired predominantly by Iraq’s public defiance of the petrodollar system. In 2000, Saddam hit the main pillar of US hegemony, the dollar. He started to sell his oil in euros, instead of dollars.(61)
Since the world is not formally under the judicial sovereignty of the US, it must use either political or military power to force other countries to accept the US dollar as the only legitimate way to buy or sell oil.
According to Clark:
“On September 24, 2000, Saddam Hussein allegedly emerged from a meeting of his government and proclaimed that Iraq would soon transition its oil export transactions to the euro currency. Not long after this meeting, Saddam Hussein began preparing to make the switch from pricing his country’s oil exports in greenbacks to euros. As renegade and newsworthy this action was on the part of Iraq, it was sparsely reported in the corporate-controlled media. (…)
“By 2002, Saddam had fully converted to a petroeuro – in essence, dumping the dollar. On March 19, 2003, George W. Bush announced the commencement of a full scale invasion of Iraq.”(62)
What looks like proof of this account can be found in an article by Carol Hoyas and Kevin Morrison from the London-basedFinancial Times. On the 5th of June, 2003, they wrote a piece entitled: “Iraq returns to international oil market”. Here’s an excerpt of the story:
“Iraq on Thursday stepped back into the international oil market for the first time since the war, offering 10m barrels of oil from its storage tanks for sale to the highest bidder. For some international companies, it will be the first time in more than a year that they will do business directly with Iraq… The tender, for which bids are due by June 10, switches the transaction back to dollars – the international currency of oil sales – despite the greenback’s recent fall in value.Saddam Hussein in 2000 insisted Iraq’s oil be sold for euros, a political move, but one that improved Iraq’s recent earnings thanks to the rise in the value of the euro against the dollar.”(63a)
The reason this account of the invasion of Iraq is not more widely know is that until now few people have understood the importance to the US of the Petrodollar system itself. There were clearly a number of positive results for the US which have come from the invasion, but this is by far the most important.
One of the less well known results of Iraq invasion. Some might think taking Iraq’s gold is no different from piracy.(63b)
22. ENERGY WARS: LIBYA CHALLENGES THE PETRODOLLAR SYSTEM
Like Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi had a plan to quit selling Libyan oil in U.S. dollars. He was going to insist that payment be made in a newly created gold-backed “dinar” which would be an African-wide currency to compete with the US “fiat” currency, the dollar. Libya had massive amounts of gold, estimated at 145 tons, and was pushing other African and Middle Eastern governments to follow suit. Gerald Pereira, an executive board member of the former Tripoli-based World Mathaba explained that “Gaddafi’s creation of the African Investment Bank in Sirte (Libya) and the African Monetary Fund to be based in Cameroon will supplant the IMF and undermine Western economic hegemony in Africa.”(64)
John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man explains the seriousness of Gaddafi’s plan:
“The US, the other G-8 countries, the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Bank for International Settlements, and multinational corporations do not look kindly on leaders who threaten their dominance over world currency markets.”(65a)
French President Nicolas Sarkozy reportedly went so far as to call Libya a “threat” to the financial security of the world. The “Insiders” were apparently panicking over Gaddafi’s plan. Here is a passage from an article by Alex Newman entitled “Gaddafi’s Gold-money Plan Would Have Devastated Dollar” which appeared on the 11th of November 2011 in “The New American”:
“’Any move such as that would certainly not be welcomed by the power elite today, who are responsible for controlling the world’s central banks,‘ noted financial analyst Anthony Wile, editor of the free market-oriented Daily Bell, in an interview with RT. ‘So yes, that would certainly be something that would cause his immediate dismissal and the need for other reasons to be brought forward [for] removing him from power.’”(65b)
According to Wile, Gaddafi’s plan would have strengthened the whole continent of Africa in the eyes of economists backing sound money — not to mention investors. But it would have been especially devastating for the U.S. economy, the American dollar, and particularly the elite in charge of the system. “The central banking Ponzi scheme requires an ever-increasing base of demand and the immediate silencing of those who would threaten its existence,” Wile noted in a piece entitled “Gaddafi Planned Gold Dinar, Now Under Attack” earlier this year. “Perhaps that is what the hurry [was] in removing Gaddafi in particular and those who might have been sympathetic to his monetary idea.”(66a)
So, just like Saddam Hussein, the neo-colonial barbarity of the NATO backed “revolution” was a simple consequence of Gaddafi’s decision to attempt to replace the fiat currency of the US dollar with a gold backed currency that would have made Africa a “golden opportunity” for investors outside the US dominated central banking system. And what happened to Libya’s 145 tons of gold? For a country which rejected the gold standard decades ago, why does the US still want to get its hands on all the gold it can?
23. THE FINANCIAL BATTLE BETWEEN THE US EMPIRE AND RUSSIA AND CHINA: CAN THERE BE AN ALTERNATIVE TO THE DOLLAR AS A RESERVE CURRENCY?
We have seen that now the West has a form of capitalism in which major sectors of the economy are monopolies without real competition. Russia and China are now generally recognized as having changed from socialism to capitalism, and they also have a fair share of monopolies as well. There seems little difference between them. So why is there a conflict between the US Empire and these other capitalist countries?
One must realize that this question is naïve in the extreme. Two hundred years of European history as taught us that capitalist countries always fight each other for territory, markets, resources etc. Just because two countries are both capitalist is no reason to think they are inclined to live in harmony with each other. In fact the reason there have been no major wars between the old capitalist rivals like the US, the UK, Germany, France, Japan and Italy is that they are now all under the control of the US. Since Russia and China are now capitalist countries, history tells us that there will be strong tendencies for there to be a military confrontation between them and the US Empire.
What Hudson and other analysts make clear is that there is a new, financial area of conflict in addition to the usual military stand-off between the US Empire and Russia and China. This takes the form of a plan by China, Russia and the other BRICS countries, India, Brazil and South Africa, to develop an alternative to the US dollar as a means to carry out international trade. This strategy is a clever challenge to the financial control exerted by the US.
Rather than take on the US in open military confrontation, which would almost certainly lead to an all-out nuclear war,China and Russia have decided to fight the US by attacking its chief financial weapon, the US dollar as the only reserve currency. It would seem they are planning to undermine the US without the need to engage in large scale military confrontation. This is of course a dangerous strategy, as Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi discovered. However Russia and China cannot be overthrown militarily in the same way without serious if not catastrophic results for the US itself. So the US overthrew the government of the Ukraine to challenge Russia at its borders, and funds Islamic militants to create conflict inside Russia itself. It tries to pull countries like Burma and Thailand away from China and supports Islamic militants in China as well.
Given the terrible consequences caused by the Petrodollar system for the rest of the world, the end of this suffocating debt and the self-serving policies dished out by the US banks can only be a good thing for the rest of the world, including the majority of the people in the US itself. Some might say that there is no right or wrong side here. What makes Russia and China “better” than the US Empire?
There are two answers to this question. First, neither Russia nor China have a capacity to project their military power far beyond their borders, even if they wanted to. The US has 10 nuclear powered super carriers and over 700 military bases around the world. Russia and China have virtually no foreign bases and only one aircraft carrier each. There is only one superpower in the world, the US. Russia and China can do a good job of defending themselves from US attack, but they can pose no military threat to the rest of the world now or in the near future.
Second, as explained in section 10 on Privatization, the “development policy” of the IMF and the World Bank is to force 3rd world countries to privatize any infrastructure they want, for water, electricity, telecommunications, health care, etc. This is not how the West developed its infrastructure. But the Western banks now insist that these underdeveloped countries “develop” only in the way which primarily benefits Western investors. As Hudson explains, “the U.S. promotion of neoliberalism and austerity is a major reason propelling China, Russia and other nations out of the U.S. diplomatic and banking orbit.”(67b) Since neither Russia nor China have anything like the military or diplomatic power of the US, they are not in a position to dictate policies to other countries. Without the US superpower, the world would become “multi-polar”, with a number of regionally powerful countries like Russia, Germany, China, Japan, Indonesia, India, South Africa, and Brazil. Under such a system, all countries would be better off than they are now. And, like it or not, the US Empire cannot last forever. There Is No Alternative, as Margaret Thatcher said. When the US Empire disappears, we are just going to have to make the best of it we can.
9A. Candid Kerry: US Won’t Fight Russia — Syrian Rebels Are Toast
The US Secretary of State gives a refreshingly honest assessment of
the situation in Syria, 8 February 2016
It looks like Lavrov’s straight talk is beginning to rub off on his American counterpart.
During a blunt exchange on the sidelines of this week’s Syria donor conference in London, the Middle East Eye reports that John Kerry slammed the Syrian opposition for bailing on peace negotiations and paving the way for a joint offensive by the SAA and Russia.
Zero words were minced:
US Secretary of State John Kerry told Syrian aid workers, hours after
the Geneva peace talks fell apart, that the country should expect
another three months of bombing that would “decimate” the opposition.
“‘He said, ‘Don’t blame me – go and blame your opposition,’” one of
the aid workers, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her
organisation, told Middle East Eye.
“‘What do you want me to do? Go to war with Russia? Is that what you
want?’” the aid worker said Kerry told her.
Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Kerry is not in charge of
American military or clandestine operations in Syria. His
responsibility is to find a diplomatic settlement to the conflict that
is agreeable to U.S. interests — apparently a task he sees as
In another sense, Kerry isn’t being entirely forthcoming: The
last-minute call for a ceasefire in Aleppo was nothing more than a
desperate attempt to prevent the inevitable. And Kerry knows this.
But here it is, straight from the mouth of the U.S. Secretary of State: The U.S. won’t go to war with Russia over Syria. And in the coming months, the rebels will be “decimated.”
Honesty is the best policy? Maybe when there’s nothing left to lose.
9B. Why Kerry Blames The Opposition For The Continuing Bombing In Syria
7 Feb 2016, http://www.moonofalabama.org/ by b.
Someone finally told Kerry that Russia is not in a “quagmire” in Syria but is winning. The U.S. is in a hurry now as it knows that it will have zero influence left on the issue should the Syrian government and Russia have the time to kill off the opposition. It needs a ceasefire to stay relevant. As Kerry says himself that “whining” about the situation and skipping negotiations will not help the opposition. It will kill it.
Secretary Kerry also called on the Russians to stop their bombing campaign in Aleppo province. But that contradicts the UN resolution 2254 under which the talks in Geneva are held. That resolution clearly calls for a continuation of the Russian and Syrian campaign: THE UNSC
[r]eiterates its call in resolution 2249 (2015) for Member States to prevent and suppressterrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, […] and to eradicate the safe haven they have established over significant parts of Syria, and notes that the aforementioned ceasefire will not apply to offensive or defensive actions against these individuals, groups, undertakings and entities, as set forth in the 14 November 2015 ISSG Statement;
The insurgents in Aleppo province as well as in Idleb province are officially allied with the Nusra Front which is Al-Qaeda in Syria. They are clearly a target of the above resolution and thereby a legitimate target of Russian bombs.
Indeed those who criticize Kerry for blaming the opposition because it ran away from Geneva ignore the resolution. It is the plan the U.S. and Russia have agreed to follow. That plan ends the war in Syria in a ceasefire but only when the opposition agrees to one AND cuts all ties with al-Qaeda and ISIS. As the opposition, and its sponsors, are unwilling to do so the Syrian-Russian campaign against them will continue, as agreed upon by the UNSC, until their end.
Posted by b
10. Russia has Accomplished the Unthinkable
7 Feb 2016 Original by Yevgeniy Radugin published at politicus.ru; translation by J.Hawk
German journal Die Welt writes that the Russian air group in Syria managed to accomplish the unthinkable. Only a few days ago, Assad’s forces with Russian Aerospace Forces’ support, managed to break through the three year blockade of two strategically important cities. This is the long-awaited breakthrough in the war, with the until-recently invincible force under the ISIS black banners which terrorized the whole world suffering a defeat. Shia cities of Nubl and az-Zakhra have been cleared of the militants thanks to Russian fighters, Die Welt notes. This military victory can completely change the course of the war. Right now the Middle East scares many, but not everyone is ready to seriously face the militants. That which the West was doing in the Middle East was a sham, nothing more. An appearance of struggle. Russia, naturally, could not have taken that path. Having stormed the high ground and freed the cities, the Russian aircraft and Syrian troops cut off the last fuel, medicine, and weapon delivery line to the militants in the Idlib province. That is potentially fatal for them. One can say with confidence that the terrorists’ back has been broke, though the war is not yet over. Its complexity is due to many countries (other than ours) supporting this or that party to the intra-Syrian conflict, and pursuing own interests. They are not about to sacrifice those interests. To the contrary, everyone is contributing to the raising of tensions which results in an escalation.
Russia’s position, on the other hand, is unwavering. The peaceful resolution of the conflict can only be accomplished through a legitimate political process within the framework of international law.
11. Update from Aleppo: “Moderate rebels” on a killing spree
7th December 2015
An unedited update from a contact (of Vanessa Beeley) living in Aleppo city:~
“It all started around 11:15 am with an earthquake, which was caused by a “rebel” tunnel explosion close to the Gas Factory in Khaldiyyé area. All buildings were shaking from it. Then all types of clashes, missiles, rockets, mortars, and shooting with big machine guns were heard in the background.
Then the jets started bombarding their areas. Then the sirens were heard.
According to news, SAA and allies captured 4 villages in southern Aleppo province, and captured a large number of terrorists from different nationalities.
They almost liberated the international highway toward Damascus in Aleppo province.
In retaliation, terrorists in Aleppo city started their fight back. One mortar hit the Russian Consulate area, killing 3 from the same family and injuring 5 civilians. The tunnel explosion was about the same time or a little bit earlier.
Then random mortars attacked the usual areas in the city (Neel St.; Khaldiyyé; Teshreen St.), killing 4 and injuring dozens of civilians. Clashes between SAA and the armed gangs in Khalidiyyé area took place as well after the tunnel explosion.
Similar clashes took place in Bani Zayd area as well, a terrorist stronghold that is full of tunnels to protect them from the air strikes.
Meanwhile Da’esh occupied a village in Aleppo province after fierce fighting which also caused many deaths and injured.
The so called US coalition is Da’esh Coalition! It’s their official air force. Four US jets attacked an SAA military base in Deyr ez-Zowr yesterday with 9 missiles, killing 3-4 Syrian soldiers and injuring 13. The irony is that “Da’esh Coalition” said that they didn’t attack the Syrian military base! They must be the Aliens with their UFOs then!
Sending you from a café! Full with guys and girls, smoking argeelé (Shisha) , as if there wasn’t a quake and fierce fighting 9 hours ago! People are not fearing anymore.”
12. Eric Draitser Talking Syria on “Comment” with George Galloway (Feb. 4, 2016)
Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org chats with George Galloway (Feb. 4, 2016) about Syria, who’s repsonsible, and where it’s going. Draitser discusses the role of regional proxies of the US-NATO, as well as the role of the corporate media in keeping people ignorant of the facts. He also notes the rising tide of fascism in Europe, and how the scapegoating of refugees must be confronted.
Washington Post (no less!) reports that Russia is winning the war in Syria: https://www.washingtonpost. com/world/middle_east/syrian- rebels-are-losing-aleppo-and- perhaps-also-the-war/2016/02/ 04/94e10012-cb51-11e5-b9ab- 26591104bb19_story.html
In the essay below WaPo tells us that the Assad regime is SUSTAINING villages (by dropping food to villages beseiged by the rebels. Quite a change from WaPo’s recent stories when they reported “Assad killing his own people!”
13. Syrian rebels are losing Aleppo and perhaps also the war
By Liz Sly and Zakaria Zakaria, 4 February 2016
GAZIANTEP, Turkey — Syrian rebels battled for their survival in and around Syria’s northern city of Aleppo on Thursday after a blitz of Russian airstrikes helped government loyalists sever a vital supply route and sent a new surge of refugees fleeing toward the border with Turkey.
The Russian-backed onslaught against rebel positions in Aleppo coincided with the failure of peace talks in Geneva, and helped reinforce opposition suspicions that Russia and its Syrian government allies are more interested in securing a military victory over the rebels than negotiating a settlement.
After two days of what rebel fighters described as the most intense airstrikes yet, government forces had succeeded on Wednesday in cutting off the rebels’ main supply route from the Turkish border to the portion of Aleppo city that remains under opposition control. On Thursday, the government captured several more villages in the surrounding countryside, prompting fears among residents and rebels that the city could soon be entirely surrounded.
The loss of Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and the most significant urban center to fall, at least partially, under rebel control, would represent a potentially decisive blow to the nearly five-year-old rebellion against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The rebels have maintained control of much of Aleppo since they surged into the city in 2012, prompting U.S. intelligence assessments that they eventually would topple the government in Damascus.
Instead, Russia and Iran stepped up their assistance to the Assad regime, helping the government stem, then steadily reverse, the losses. Most of the pro-government forces now fighting in northern Aleppo province are Shiite militias from either Iraq or Afghanistan that have been recruited by Iran to help out its ally in Damascus, according to rebels and military analysts. The intervention by the Russian air force, ostensibly intended to battle the Islamic State, has mostly targeted moderate rebels, tilting the military balance in favor of Assad and enabling the government’s spurt of gains in recent weeks.
With the push around Aleppo, pro-government forces were able to break a rebel siege on two predominantly Shiite villages, Nubl and Zahra, which had been surrounded by rebel forces for the past three years and sustained only by government airdrops of food.
In its determination to see the peace talks get underway, the United States had pressured the rebels’ allies, including Turkey and Saudi Arabia, to curtail supplies of weapons, leaving the rebels vulnerable to the new offensive, according to rebel commanders.
This latest battle also has the potential to trigger a major new humanitarian crisis. The United Nations’ inability to deliver aid to towns besieged by government forces had emerged as a major obstacle in the stalled talks. With rebel-held Aleppo almost entirely surrounded, there is a risk that hundreds of thousands of people living there soon could be cut off entirely. Aid agencies said the airstrikes have forced an almost total suspension of aid deliveries across the Turkish border.
“Opposition forces are losing ground by the minute. We’re looking at a nightmare humanitarian situation,” said Rae McGrath, director of operations in northern Syria and Turkey for the aid agency Mercy Corps.
“There are a lot of people on the move,” he said. “This is certainly the worst situation we’ve seen since the beginning of the war.”
Rebel fighters sounded desperate as they described enduring more than 200 airstrikes in the past 24 hours alone. Commanders from a range of rebel groups, from moderates to the al-Qaeda-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra, issued urgent appeals for reinforcements from other parts of the country.
“We are fighting our most important battle yet. We are fighting to prevent a regime siege on Aleppo,” said Abdul Salam Abdul Razzak, a spokesman for the Noureddin al-Zinki rebel movement, reached by telephone on the northern outskirts of Aleppo.
“In the coming days, the battle will be fierce. We will keep fighting till the last fighter, and we hope we will not let our people down.”
Speaking in London at an international conference to secure donations to aid Syrians inside and outside the country, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that some 70,000 civilians were streaming toward Turkey’s borders to escape the offensive.
14. ISIS besieged parts of Deir Ezzor (video from 29 Jan ’16 in Russian and Arabic with English subtitles)
War diary. Syria, January 29th 2016 courtesy of Marat Musin and his crew from Anna News.
Original and other videos (in Russian) can be seen on their channel “Front info” at Dailymotion video hosting site.