Gallery

War Chronicle 6-March-2016

1) Turkey Falls Under Boot of Dictatorship

2) Da’esh lost territory half the size of Lebanon this week to Iraq’s forces

3) Libya: From Jamahiriya to Heartland of Terror

4) Hybrid Wars 1. The Law Of Hybrid Warfare

5) Houthi forces overwhelm Saudi Army in northern Yemen – Saudi Arabia’s Unholy War

6) International Military Review & Crisis News

7) Kerry’s “Plan B” – Attack Syria From Lebanon – With Saudi and Turkish Help

8) Supplier of ISIS Explosive Devices is Found

9) Syria Ceasefire & Battle Fronts

10) Strange Bedfellows: US, Russia Coordinate Attack Against Militants From Turkey

11) Cessation of Hostilities brokered jointly by Russia and the U.S.

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1) Turkey Falls Under Boot of Dictatorship

http://sputniknews.com/columnists/20160305/1035837151/zaman-seizure-police-violence.html

By Finian Cunningham, 5 March 2016

With the violent police seizure of Turkey’s biggest independent newspaper this weekend, the country has finally crossed the line to become a fully-fledged dictatorship.

For many months now, the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been cracking down on media as part of a wider move towards an increasingly authoritarian regime under his ruling Justice and Development Party.

Brutal, chaotic scenes  at the offices of Zaman newspaper in Istanbul and its related publications this weekend prove beyond doubt that Erdogan’s regime has now openly embraced dictatorship. This in a country which has a long history of military coups and genocidal authoritarianism.

Recent years of seeming parliamentary democracy are now shown to be a sham. Turkey is reverting to the form of strong-arm despotism under Erdogan and his flunkey prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu.

The media group which owns Zaman, Feza Media, has been accused of “consorting with terrorists” connected to Kurdish separatists. A Turkish court then ordered at the end of last week that the newspaper be taken into administration under editors appointed by the government.

The charges are flagrantly trumped-up, of course. Zaman and its English-language daily, Today’s Zaman, are “guilty” of nothing other than providing critical reports and analysis of Erdogan’s government, especially over its reprehensible role in Syria’s conflict since 2011.

“Consorting with terrorists” is the blanket charge that Erdogan is throwing at other independent Turkish media. Dozens of journalists have been arrested on similar charges. While other media outlets have been likewise closed down by Erdogan’s ruling party.

Can Dundar, the editor of Cumhuriyet newspaper, is facing prosecution on “espionage” and “subversion” charges — and a possible life sentence in jail — simply because he published photographs last year that purported to show how Turkish state intelligence (MIT) was running weapons across the Syrian border — to supply illegally armed groups trying to overthrow the Damascus government.

A court ruling last month ordered that Dundar be released pending his trial, however Erdogan and his supporters said that they don’t respect the court order. Yet another disturbing example of corrosive lawlessness at the heart of the Turkish state.

This weekend witnessed perhaps the most brazen crackdown on democratic freedoms by Erdogan, with the full-scale invasion of riot police at the premises of Zaman.

Hundreds of police forced their way into the offices with bolt-cutters after battering peaceful protesters off the street. Water cannons and teargas were fired into the media offices as journalists scrambled for safety from baton-wielding officers.

Today’s Zaman editor-in-chief Sevgi Akarcesme and colleagues were pushed down staircases as the riot-clad police stormed the building.

“The constitution is finished,” decried Akarcesme. “This is despotism,” she added.

Under Turkey’s state constitution, freedom of media is supposed to be guaranteed from government interference. Clearly, Turkey can no longer pretend to be a democratic state. The constitution has been sacked in the most graphic way. It is now a dictatorship where those who criticize the “ruler” are liable to receive prison sentences because they are either “terrorist supporters” or “insulting” his ego.

The increasingly despotic nature of Turkey under Erdogan is intimately bound up with his regime’s criminal aggression towards Syria. Over the past five years, Erdogan has moved from covert sponsorship of terror proxies in Syria to a blatant role in waging aggression.

Over the past week, since a tentative Syrian ceasefire was implemented by the United States and Russia, Turkish military forces have been firing artillery barrages into its southern neighbor. This is an act of war on a sovereign state.

There are also reliable reports that Turkish state forces have stepped up their supply of weapons and terrorist insurgents through the few remaining border crossings, which have been largely closed off by the Syrian army supported by Russia’s air power, as well as by Kurdish Syrian fighters.

Erdogan’s regime is thus openly at war with Syria and his desperate recklessness is directly connected to the heavy losses that the Syrian army and Russia have inflicted on his covert surrogate terror brigades. The latter include the internationally recognized terror groups of Al Qaeda-linked Islamic State/Daesh and the Nusra Front.

But such state criminality is hardly tenable in a country where an independent, critical media supposedly operates. The courageous, critical reporting in recent years by Turkish newspapers and television outlets has exposed the violations committed by the Erdogan regime in Syria’s dirty war.

And that is why Erdogan is now shuttering this media with an iron fist, under the utterly fabricated but ironical charges of these outlets allegedly “supporting terrorism”.

Erdogan is getting away with this brutal conduct largely because he is being indulged by Washington, the European Union and the US-led NATO military alliance, of which Turkey is a member.

These Western institutions are all equally complicit in Turkey’s state-sponsored terrorism against Syria. So, as the Erdogan regime gags the Turkish media, his Western allies are obliged to keep their mouths shut too.

On the latest newspaper seizure, the US State Department issued a trite statement expressing concern. “We see this as the latest in a series of troubling judicial and law enforcement actions taken by the Turkish government targeting media outlets and others critical of it,” said US spokesman John Kirby.

One can only imagine how different Washington’s response would be if, say, similar events took place in Moscow. There would be wall-to-wall Western media coverage denouncing Vladimir Putin as a dictator.

Western hypocrisy and double-think reaches a crescendo as the European Union leaders meet with Erdogan’s officials in the coming days over the refugee crisis.

European Council President Donald Tusk only days ago praised Turkey as a partner in stemming the flow of refugees into Greece, and the EU is planning to grant Erdogan’s regime $3.4 billion in taxpayers’ money to help accommodate more migrants on its territory.

You can’t get more absurd than that. EU leaders pander to Turkey after the latter has played a leading role in destabilizing Syria and triggering the refugee crisis. And when this same regime cracks down on independent media exposing its criminal collusion with terrorism, the EU says or does nothing of importance.

Turkey is embracing fascist dictatorship; and Washington and its European minions are smitten by the same embrace.

Only last week, the French government censured Le Monde newspaper for reports on France’s “secret war” in Libya.

Erdogan’s regime is marching all over democratic rights as Turkish media succumbs to the jackboot of dictatorship. Not far behind and in lockstep are Washington and the European Union. Their cynical silence is their indictment.

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2) Da’esh lost territory half the size of Lebanon this week to Iraq’s forces

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3) Libya: From Jamahiriya to Heartland of Terror

By Sergey Strokan, Andrew Korybko – 4 March 2016

http://sputniknews.com/radio_red_line/20160304/1035791483/libya-after-gaddafi-heartland-terror.html

Five years after the brutal murder of Libya’s leader Muammar Gaddafi, the country that was once an oasis of regional stability now has two competing governments and is actively being colonized by Daesh terrorists as they seek to relocate their headquarters to Libya.


In an article entitled “Battling Daesh on the ground in Libya”, written by Richard Galustian and carried by Gulf News, the author begins by writing that:

Last week, it was evident that the West had replaced diplomacy with military action to fight Daesh, which will have serious security implications in the long term for all the ‘frontline’ states of Europe. Not only that, but the European Union’s (EU) survival as we know it is at stake.”

He comments on the West’s secret special forces and air strike attacks in fighting against Daesh, observing how “Daesh in Benghazi and around Sabratha is retreating to fallback positions to fight another day. But the fight against extremists is not over by a long shot.  Tackling Sirte is a more difficult matter. Daesh has deployed thousands of volunteers, most from either Tunisia or sub-Saharan Africa, and where it holds 110 miles (177km) of coastline.”

The author ends his article on a rather ominous note, stating that: “Clearly, Daesh succeeding in Libya will seal the fate and demise of Europe as we know it. A larger, relentless military solution in Libya is the only option sooner rather than later.”

Vladimir Ivanov, Director of the EastWest Institute’s Moscow Office (studio guest); Ashraf Siddiqui, current affairs analyst (Doha); and Paolo Salom, Corriere della Sera daily newspaper commented on the issue.

Audio in English at: http://sputniknews.com/radio_red_line/20160304/1035791483/libya-after-gaddafi-heartland-terror.html#ixzz41zrL0kRz

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4) Hybrid Wars 1. The Law Of Hybrid Warfare

By Andrew Korybko, 4 March 2016

http://orientalreview.org/2016/03/04/hybrid-wars-1-the-law-of-hybrid-warfare/

Oriental Review is publishing Andrew Korybko’s latest research on Hybrid Wars. Building off of the strategies that he described in last year’s book of the same name, Andrew has conceptualized a new paradigm for understanding international relations and invented an accompanying methodology for testing it. The “Law Of Hybrid War”, the name of his newest series, states that:

The grand objective behind every Hybrid War is to disrupt multipolar transnational connective projects through externally provoked identity conflicts (ethnic, religious, regional, political, etc.) within a targeted transit state.

Please visit http://orientalreview.org/category/hybrid-wars/ to follow the updates of the “Hybrid Wars” series due to be released every Friday starting today.

The Law Of Hybrid Warfare

Hybrid Wars are externally provoked asymmetrical conflicts predicated on sabotaging concrete geo-economic interests, and proceeding from this starting point, it’s relatively easy to pinpoint where they might strike next...

The grand objective behind every Hybrid War is to disrupt multipolar transnational connective projects through externally provoked identity conflicts (ethnic, religious, regional, political, etc.) within a targeted transit state.

This template can clearly be seen in Syria and Ukraine and is the Law of Hybrid Warfare.

Socio-Political Structural Vulnerabilities: The following are the most common socio-political structural vulnerabilities as they relate to the preparation for Hybrid War, and if each of them can be tied to a specific geographic location, then they become much more likely to be used as galvanizing magnets in the run-up to the Color Revolution and as preliminary territorial demarcations for the Unconventional Warfare aspect afterwards:

* ethnicity

* religion

* history

* administrative boundaries

* socio-economic disparity

* physical geography

The greater the overlap that can be achieved among each of these factors, the stronger the Hybrid War’s potential energy becomes, with each overlapping variable exponentially multiplying the coming campaign’s overall viability and ‘staying power’.

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Preconditioning:
To expand on the tactics of structural preconditioning, the most commonly employed and globally recognized one is sanctions, the implicit goal of which (although not always successful) has always been to “make life more difficult” for the average citizen so that he or she becomes more amenable to the idea of regime change and is thus more easily shepherded into acting upon these externally instilled impulses. Less known, however, are the more oblique, yet presently and almost ubiquitously implemented, methods of achieving this goal, and this surrounds the power that the US has to affect certain budgetary functions of targeted states, namely the amount of revenue that they receive and what precisely they spend it on.

The global slump in energy and overall commodity prices has hit exporting states extraordinarily hard, many of which are disproportionately dependent on such selling such resources in order to satisfy their fiscal ends, and the decrease in revenue almost always leads to eventual cuts in social spending. Parallel with this, some states are facing American-manufactured security threats that they’re forced to urgently respond to, thus necessitating them to unexpectedly budget more money to their defense programs that could have otherwise been invested in social ones. On their own, each of these ‘tracks’ is designed to decrease the government’s social expenditure so as to incubate the medium-term conditions necessary for enhancing the prospects of a Color Revolution, the first stage of Hybrid Warfare. In the event that a state experiences both limited revenue intake and an unexpected need to hike its defense budget, then this would have a compound effect on cutting social services and might even push the Color Revolution timeframe forward from the medium- to short-term, depending on the severity of the resultant domestic crisis and the success that the American-influenced NGOs have in politically organizing the previously examined identity blocs against the government.

Andrew Korybko is the American political commentator currently working for the Sputnik agency. He is the post-graduate of MGIMO University and author of the monograph “Hybrid Wars: The Indirect Adaptive Approach To Regime Change” (2015). This text will be included into his forthcoming book on the theory of Hybrid Warfare.

Above are extracts, to read the whole article go to: http://orientalreview.org/2016/03/04/hybrid-wars-1-the-law-of-hybrid-warfare/

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5A) Houthi forces overwhelm Saudi Army in northern Yemen (By Leith Fadel  4 March 2016) Video in Arabic at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ANZg68Ju7U

On Friday morning in the Hajjah Governorate of northern Yemen, the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard and Houthi Forces devastated the Saudi-led Coalition fighters that were tasked to protect the Midi District, killing scores of them in the process of their advance towards the coast.

Video footage from the battle displaced scores of dead Saudi Army soldiers spread across the Midi District, as the Houthi Forces walk over the territory they reclaimed from the Coalition fighters on Friday morning.

In addition to killing scores of Coalition fighters, the Houthi Forces also captured a number of Saudi Army soldiers, with one of them being interviewed in the video.

The Saudi-led Coalition captured the Midi District of the Hajjah Governorate in January during their large-scale counter-offensive in northern Yemen.

Now, the Houthi Forces and the Yemeni Army’s Republican Guard are on the offensive, recapturing large swathes of territory from Saudi-led Coalition along the Midi coast near the Saudi-Yemeni border.

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5B) Saudi Arabia’s Unholy War

By Nasser Arrabyee, 3 March 2016 http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/?fa=62959

Saudi Arabia’s campaign in Yemen has boosted popular support for the Houthis and is fueling greater anti-Saudi sentiment.

Since it began its war on the Houthis in March 2015, Saudi Arabia has justified its intervention as a broader holy duty to fight Shia and protect the government in exile. Yet Yemenis increasingly view Saudi intervention more as a campaign—in which they are collateral—to upgrade Riyadh’s own influence and an ill-conceived effort to promote Mohammed Bin Salman as a powerful future Saudi king. As such, Yemenis fail to see any moral or legal justification for the U.S.-backed Saudi war. What is evident to them is the deliberate destruction of people and capital—all to no end, as the war has failed to accomplish Saudi Arabia’s goal of weakening the Houthis. Instead, the airstrikes and blockade that form the core of Saudi Arabia’s strategy have increased anti-Saudi hatred, driving greater numbers of Yemenis to support the Houthis every day.

The war has done particular damage to infrastructure—including reservoirs, airports, electric power stations, bridges and roads, markets, factories, stadiums, and hospitals. The education sector has been hit especially hard, with 39 universities damaged, 810 primary and secondary schools damaged, and another 3,809 closed. About 85 percent of the population of 27 million is in dire need of food, water, medicine, and fuel. Over 2.5 million Yemenis are displaced, and the attacks have killed or injured more than 23,000 civilians—among them thousands of women and children—using internationally prohibited weapons such as cluster bombs, as documented by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International

Despite this devastation, Riyadh has failed to achieve its strategic goals. Its primary targets, Abdelmalek al-Houthi and Ali Abdullah Saleh, remain unharmed and able to move about the country relatively freely, and almost all well-known Houthi leaders are still alive. Abu Ali al-Hakem, the commander of Houthi forces who is sanctioned by UN, has had unrestricted movement in Yemen as he travels to Aden, Saada, and Hodeida, meeting with tribal leaders and holding pro-Houthi rallies. On Houthi-seized military bases, ballistic missiles—including SCUD, Tochka, and Qaher-1 missiles—are still intact and in use. As Saudis fail to take out targeted Houthis, it becomes clear that they lack a cohesive strategy or even the required intelligence to carry out operations within Yemen. When Houthis and their allies carry out operations in Najran, Jaizan, and Asir, frequently Saudi F-16 jets instead strike unrelated targets in Sanaa first—including army commanders’ homes they know are empty—rather than admit they don’t know whom to strike.

In addition to billions of dollars spent on the military war, Saudi Arabia has spent huge amounts supporting Yemeni actors they hope could carry the fight on their behalf, from President Abd Rabu Mansour Hadi to thousands of tribesmen, politicians, and intellectuals in southern and northern Yemen. But this tactic has not been able to secure lasting loyalty, especially as Saudi Arabia is struggling to keep up rising expenses. In July 2015, Saudis promised to give 2000-rial ($530) salaries to every Yemeni soldier recruited for the popular resistance committees in Taiz, but they delayed payments for several months thereafter to confirm the names on the list.

In many ways the unrecognized government under Mohammed Ali al-Houthi is in a better position domestically than President Hadi and his Saudi-backed government. Hadi, currently in Riyadh, has become completely dependent on external support. By contrast, the Houthis, though they lack international legitimacy, have seen their popularity rise with every Saudi airstrike. Many Yemenis have already started to glorify those killed by the Saudi campaign. Hundreds of families turned their relatives’ funerals into wedding ceremonies. In some cases, the mothers of some young men killed celebrate as if they were in weddings and congratulate the dead sons as bridegrooms. The fathers boast that they are ready to give all their remaining sons as martyrs for the cause of Allah and the nation against Saudi “invaders and occupiers.”

Houthis are taking advantage of their newfound support to rally Yemenis who no longer have anything to lose. In May 2015, the Yemeni army, with tribal support, took control over many important strategic locations, villages, and cities in Najran, Jizan, and Asir. Since mid-December 2015, Yemeni forces have fired ballistic missiles on vital sites within Saudi Arabia like Jizan airport, Aramco oil installations, and the Faisal military base. Hundreds of Saudi soldiers were killed or injured and dozens arrested. Yemeni army spokesman Brigadier-General Sharaf Ghalib Luqman declared that the Saudi frontlines had fallen to the Yemeni army and that further attacks on these provinces would be considered a political decision, not a military one. This echoes Sayyid Abdul Malik al-Houthi’s statements in August 2015 that such advances on major Saudi cities were “strategic options” to put pressure on Riyadh if Saudi aggression does not stop. 

To support this, many tribesmen—especially from the six provinces surrounding the capital Sanaa—signed the Houthi “tribal honor charter” in October 2015 to confront Saudi aggression. The Houthis aimed to have more than one million Yemenis back the charter through public rallies in cities and villages across the country, particularly in Taiz and Mareb. Since rallies began in early September 2015, the charter has also been signed by tribal leaders, politicians, and intellectuals from southern and eastern provinces currently based in Sanaa, many of whom have put aside inter-tribal disputes and have provided military and monetary support. This tribal support reflects increasing popularity for Houthis and their allies, while the government in exile is seen as largely propped up by external actors.

Nasser Arrabyee is a Yemeni journalist based in Sanaa and founder and president of the media service company Yemen Alaan.

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6A) International Military Review – Syria, 4 March 2016

https://southfront.org/international-military-review-syria-mar-4-2016/

ISIS militants have launched an advance on the Deir Ezzor Military Airport controlled by the government’s forces. On Mar.3 the ISIS force reached the southern gates of the airport following a successful firefight against the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). However, ISIS militants were unable to break the SAA’s defenses. The clashes are ongoing.

The SAA’s 555th Brigade of the 4th Mechanized Division is advancing in northeast Hama. The Zakiyah Crossroad, located west of the border between the provinces of Al-Raqqa and Hama, remains the goal of the loyalist forces. On Mar.3 the SAA seized Point 4, Point 5, Khirbat Al-Bayda, and several small hilltops on the way to it. Clashes were also observed at the Zakiyah village located located along the Salamiyah-Raqqa road.

Meanwhile, the SAA continued an advance towards the city of Palmyra securing the mountaintop of Jabal Jazal and its neighbouring oil fields. In South of Palmyra, the SAA moved to Wadi Al-Dhakara, seizing a part of the valley after a violent battle with ISIS.

We remember the pro-government group “Liwaa Suqour Al-Sahra” have deployed in the Palmyra front to strengthen the SAA’s force seeking to liberate the city.

On Mar.3, ISIS and al Nusra made an attempt to cut the Aleppo-Khanaser-Ithria road one more time. However, the SAA and its allies repealed this attack.

Since the Khanaser-Aleppo road is now free of danger, the pro-government forces, which have been concentrated in the area, are preparing for a large military operation in Southeastern Aleppo. According to reports, the Syrian Army’s Central Command decided to deploy a significant force to the town of Ithriya. Ithriya is located in the Hama province’s Northeastern countryside. The town borders the Aleppo province to the North and it is situated 15 km West of Raqqa axis.

 

6B) 04.03.2016 Crisis News https://southfront.org/04-03-2016-crisis-news/

On Mar.3, 2 two female attackers launched an attack on a riot bus entering a police compound in Istanbul. They also threw 2 grenades at the building before both fled the scene.

Around 2,000 legal cases have been opened in Turkey for insulting Recep Tayyip Erdogan, since he became president 18 months ago. Mocking the president carries a maximum of four years in jail with schoolchildren and journalists amongst those arrested.

On Mar.3, Iran condemned a decision by the Gulf Cooperation Council to blacklist Lebanon’s Hezbollah, saying the resistance movement is in fact a “potent symbol” of struggles against terror and Israeli occupation. We remember, on Mar.2, the GCC decided to label Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

On Mar.2, US President Barack Obama extended sanctions against Russia, which had been imposed in March 2014. The decree states that economic and financial sanctions imposed on Moscow over its involvement in the Ukrainian crisis will stay in place until March 6, 2017.

 

6C) International Military Review – Syria, 3 March 2016

https://southfront.org/international-military-review-syria-mar-3-2016/

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) launched a military operation to liberate at the strategic village of Kabani controled by Al-Nusra and its allies. Thus, the SAA’s 103rd Brigade attacked the southern flank of Kabani and the Syrian Marines continued an advance along the Aleppo-Latakia Highway (M-4). If Kabani is captured, the SAA will be able to advance on the Jisr Al-Shughour’s southern countryside. This town is a mid-term goal of the ongoing advance.

The SAA stormed the ISIS positions at the village of Fah and forced the terrorist group to pull forces back from the village and nearby farms in the Aleppo province.

Heavy clashes between the Kurdish militias and ISIS have been observed in the area between the border town of Tal Abyadh and al-Kantari and near the Raqqa-Turkey highway.

Meanwhile, the Syrian troops reportedly deployed in Southeastern and Northeastern areas of Aleppo and Hama provinces respectively are preparing to launch a joint anti-terrorism operation to free more lands in the province of Raqqa.

On Mar.2, ceasefire agreements were signed with four commanders of moderate rebel units, which control Kafar, Shams and Gabagib in the Daraa province. Total number of signed agreements has reached 40, talks with 11 more are underway.

The Russian centre for reconciliation of opposing sides also delivered 6 tons of humanitarian aid to the settlements of Kineiba, Vali-Sheikhan and Hansjaus.

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7) Kerry’s “Plan B” – Attack Syria From Lebanon – With Saudi and Turkish Help

With the Russian-Syrian operations to close off the Turkish border backers of Syria jihadi rebels are moving to supply them from Lebanon instead http://www.moonofalabama.org/, 2 March 2016

We yesterday described what looks like a Turkish-Saudi plan to raise a Salafi-Sunni militia in north Lebanon to then attack nearby Syrian regions held by the Syrian government. Such a new front of the conflict in Syria would necessarily involve fighting in Lebanon as the Lebanese Shia Hizbollah movement is actively supporting the Syrian government. The plot would destabilize Lebanon, probably throwing it back into the brutal times of the Lebanese civil war.

There was no confirmation of such a plot yesterday, just several signs for it like the ship with weapons from Turkey that was caught by the Greek coastguard on its way to north Lebanon.

The existence of such a plan was confirmed today. We still can no say for sure that the plot is part of a U.S. “Plan B” to achieve a violent “regime change” in Syria, but we know that the U.S. is informed about the plan.

In his Washington Post column today the unofficial CIA spokesperson David Ignatius writes about the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman:

The young Saudi has sometimes been more bold than wise, as in his war in Yemen, his decision to break diplomatic relations with Iran and his new effort to destabilize a Hezbollah-dominated Lebanon.

Syria is not mentioned in that part of the Ignatius column but any capable Sunni militia in Lebanon, created from Salafist groups in Tripoli and Syrian Sunni refugees in Lebanese camps, would extend itself into Syria and become a threat to the government held western Syria.

Ignatius, as surely also the U.S. government, was informed by the Saudis themselves. The above quoted paragraph continues:

But his role as a change agent is unmistakable. He “wants to transition Saudi Arabia very quickly,” said Adel al-Toraifi, the Saudi information minister, who’s just 36 himself, in a visit to Washington last week.

My hunch is that this plan is too bold to have grown solely in the minds of the Turkish and Saudi regimes. The U.S. is likely not only informed about it but deeply involved. The possibility of such a plan to counter the recent Syrian and Russian successes on the battlefield was first mentioned in a piece published in early February by the Washington Institute, a think tank founded and funded by the Israel lobby.

Last week Secretary of State Kerry mentioned a “Plan B” should the recent cessation of hostilities in Syria fail:

US Secretary of State John Kerry provoked widespread speculation when he referred in testimony before the Foreign Relations Committee last week to “significant discussions” within US President Barack Obama’s administration about a “Plan B” in Syria. The speculation was further stoked by a “senior official” who told CBS News that options under consideration included “‘military-like’ measures that would make it harder for the regime and its allies to continue their assault on civilians and US-backed rebels.”

A violent Salafi militia from Lebanon storming into Syria would certainly be a “‘military-like’ measures that would make it harder for the regime and its allies”.

The author of the last linked text, Gareth Porter, dismissed the chance of a real “Plan B” but had not yet included the Lebanon plot scenario in his considerations. He continued:

Kerry suggested that the US was still a player in the Syrian contest for power. Regarding Chairman Bob Corker’s comment that the Russians had been “accomplishing their ends” in Syria, he argued that the Russians and the Syrian government could take control of Aleppo, but that “holding territory has always been difficult”. Kerry claimed that the Russians could not prevent the opposition from getting the weapons needed to continue the war, as long as the US and its allies were supporting them. He offered no explanation for that claim.

The Turkish-Saudi weapon smuggling into Lebanon is an explanation for the claim Kerry made. Syria and Russia are in the process of closing off the Syrian-Turkish border. If the Saudis can build a weapon pipeline into north Lebanon it will become quite difficult for Syria and its allies to hold the Syrian territory near the Lebanese border.

In a speech yesterday Hizbullah chief Nasrallah discussed the general Saudi threat to Lebanon at length but did not mention the Sunni militia plot:

“Saudi which treats Yemen, Syria, Iraq, and Bahrain like that, treats Lebanon the same way,” Sayyed Nasrallah concluded, addressing the Saudis: Your problem is with us, it is not with the country or with the Lebanese…”

Nasrallah is right, but the Saudis will not care when the Lebanese people or their country get hurt due to some nefarious scheme to attack Syria and Hizbullah. Nor will the United States.

There are obvious signs for a plan to use Saudi controlled Sunni militia from Lebanon against the Syrian government and its supporters. The U.S. is, in my view, very likely involved in this plot. But we still do not know if this plan will ever be implemented. The recent Saudi threat to send its army into Syria turned out to be a pure (dis-)information campaign to unsettle the Syrian government’s side. The recent revelations about the plot in Lebanon and the “Plan B” may also be pure deception and illusionary to gain some leverage for the coming negotiations.

But the ship the Greek coastguard caught was real and such a plan would have a good chance to create lots of troubles for Syria and its supporters. My advice to the Syrian government and its allies is to prepare now to eventually counter it.

Posted by b at 05:09 AM, 2 March 2016

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8) Supplier of ISIS Explosive Devices is Found

2 March 2016 https://southfront.org/supplier-of-isis-explosive-devices-is-found/

Most chemicals, fertilizers, wire and electronics and other parts to build bombs and other improved explosive devices which ISIS use for their terrorist activities come from Turkey.

Written by Mario Andrijasevic exclusively for SouthFront

For 20 months the EU has been funding a group called Conflict Armament Research (CAR) which collected and analyzed the information how the Islamic State has been able to amass its arsenal at an unprecedented speed.

James Bevan, executive director of CAR confirmed the terrorists are using all sort of IED´s (improvised explosive devices) from suicide and car bombs to landmines and booby traps. Most of the components are gained by exploiting legal agricultural and mining sectors where the necessary chemicals and parts are freely available.

The report found the horrifying fact that over 50 companies from 20 different countries are legally supplying ISIS, with bomb-making material, according to a new report by Conflict Armament Research (CAR), which suggests that countries are failing to monitor what they are selling.

A total of thirteen Turkish firms were found to be involved in the supply chain, the most in any one country. That was followed by India with seven.

Investigators traced the supply chain of more than 700 components used by ISIS militants.

CAR was able to get these components through partners including the Washington-backed Kurdish YPG in Syria, the Iraqi Federal Police, the Kurdistan Region Security Council and forces of the Kurdistan Regional Government and were recovered during major battles around the Iraqi towns of al Rabia, Kirkuk, Mosul, and Tikrit and the Syrian town of Kobani.

“Microsoft Corporation, of which Microsoft Mobile is an affiliate, has provided CAR with extensive information on the chain of custody of ten mobile telephones seized from ISIS forces in Iraq,” the report states.

According to James Bevan the Turkish government refused to cooperate with CAR’s investigation so the group was not able to determine the efficacy of Ankara’s regulations regarding the tracking of components.

Numerous electronic components such as microcontrollers and transistors which are consistently used in the construction of one type of remote-controlled IED used in Iraq were manufactured in Japan, Switzerland and the United States.

Bevan told that these ISIS inventions have taken a heavy toll on the Peshmerga, Shia militias, Kurdish YPG, opposition rebels and other forces attempting to take back ISIS territory.

“Whenever they try to liberate an area, that area is absolutely littered with IEDs and they are causing the greatest amount of casualties,” Mr. Bevan said. “It’s on a larger scale than we’ve seen in recent conflicts.”

CAR’s executive director has confirmed that all these findings support growing international awareness that IS forces in Iraq and Syria are very much self-sustaining — acquiring weapons and strategic goods, such as IED components, locally and with ease.

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9A) The cease fire seems to be going well …

2 March 2016 http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/03/httpssouthfrontorgsyria-battlefield-update-march-2.html

“Over a hundred rebel unit commanders agreed to the ceasefire and signed a corresponding agreement. Over 1,000 militants laid down their arms in the Damascus province and have since been relocated from the battlefields.

Field commanders of Mujahideen Khora and El-Furqan formations which operated south of Damascus in the Kafar-Shams district likewise signed ceasefire documents, as did Maamum Shukru al-Habbusa, the leader of Burkan Khoran. This meant 600 more militants laid down their arms.

Two major formations in Deraa province, Armiya al-Ababil and Jaysh al-Yarmuk, agreed to the ceasefire and their leaders signed the declaration forms. This action took 2500 militants off the battlefield.”  Southfront

—————–

Wall to wall, the R+6  are progressing in the task of running a marvelously successful  ANTICOIN campaign.  The Syrian government has declared an amnesty for non-jihadi rebels.  As you can read above that seems to be doing well.  It is better to work on re-integrating them than to kill them all which is the alternative policy choice.

Across the country the war goes on against the jihadis.  ground is being regained everywhere, ground that will be useful in the final battles needed to make Syria jihadi free.  The attritional battle is also going well.

Turkey appears to be stymied by the threat of Russian arms and the War Party hawks in the Borgist US government is “turning and burning” in frustration.  The post-Dempsey US Defense Department and JCS is now completely in the hands of the Borgist war party who obviously lust for a confrontation with Russia.  It would be tempting to attribute this “bloody mindedness” to male hormonal excesses but, unfortunately the worst of the worst are women.

IMO the war in western Syria will be largely ended in the next couple of months.  After that, the R+6 will make their contribution to the destruction of IS (the enemies of God).

The Iraqis?  We will see…  pl

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9B) Syria Battlefield Update, 2 March 2016

https://southfront.org/syria-battlefield-update-march-2/

Original published by warfiles.ru; translation by J.Hawk

Over a hundred rebel unit commanders agreed to the ceasefire and signed a corresponding agreement. Over 1,000 militants laid down their arms in the Damascus province and have since been relocated from the battlefields.

Field commanders of Mujahideen Khora and El-Furqan formations which operated south of Damascus in the Kafar-Shams district likewise signed ceasefire documents, as did Maamum Shukru al-Habbusa, the leader of Burkan Khoran. This meant 600 more militants laid down their arms.

Two major formations in Deraa province, Armiya al-Ababil and Jaysh al-Yarmuk, agreed to the ceasefire and their leaders signed the declaration forms. This action took 2500 militants off the battlefield.

But there are still frictions. There are still explosions here and there. The Hmeimim coordinating center noted about 20 such violations which were forwarded to the US-led coalition.

Damascus Province

Syrian aircraft distributed thousands of leaflets over Eastern Guta (Gouta) in order to persuade the militants to lay down their arms. They also warned of a planned SAA offensive to clear the Army of Islam- and al-Nusra-controlled agricultural college campus.

Islamists are also attempting to recapture the Marj-es-Sultan airbase which is defended by Syrian RG 416th Regiment. The 102nd Brigade is in the meantime preparing to assault the university campus.

In Kalamoun mountains almost on the border with Lebanon, Syrian aircraft destroyed a militant HQ. Targeting information came from Russian advisers, and was verified by reconnaissance flights.

The 103rd RG Brigade is continuing its offensive in Latakia and into Idlib. It is approaching Kabani which is the last obstacle before Jisr al-Shugour, considered to be the “gateway” into Idlib. Government forces broke through enemy defenses near Iqqo.

Deir-ez-Zor Province

The 104th Airborne Brigade troops who are defending the surrounded city of Deir-ez-Zor, conducted a successful raid near Al-Hamidiyah where they destroyed an ISIS unit fortified near the Central Park. 32 terrorists were killed and 40 more were wounded. This operation cleared yet another part of the provincial capital. Among the dead were the remains of well-known militants, such as Amir Isma’aeel Al-Harbak and Umar Isma’eel al-Kobissi.

In spite of numerous ISIS breakthrough efforts, SAA is continuing to hold more than half of the city. ISIS is moreover experiencing serious difficulties. A tribal uprising in the city of Abukamaal against ISIS is forcing the terrorist group to send considerable forces there.

Aleppo Province

Syrian commandos are suppressing militant cells near Khanasser. The situation in the province is generally stable.

SDF forces pushed Syrian al-Qaeda troops further away from the strategic road to Aleppo and took Tal Musharafah after a short fight. The hill is an important link in the militant supply chain as it is located on the al-Kastilyo ring road which was used as a supply route.

In spite of the ceasefire, Syrian militants are continuing to fight and launch counterattacks in order to recapture the strategic position they lost. Russian aircraft carried out a sortie against the attacking militants.

Idlib Province

No major ground operations have been conducted here. Russian aircraft are active in clearing the path into Jisr al-Shughour. Some 20 sorties were flown against Jabhat al-Nusra positions in the city’s vicinity.

According to unconfirmed reports in Syrian media, Russian ships in the Mediterranean launched 3 cruise missiles against a terrorist camp near al-Mastouma.

Hama Province

SAA units and NDF detachments engaged al-Nusra forces which infiltrated into the Khorbinefsa district  about 40km from the city of Hama and attacked road checkpoints. 28 militants were killed, dozens were wounded.

Homs Province

Syrian aircraft launched airstrikes against terrorist camps, including an ISIS camp in Al-Karyaten. Several armored vehicles, fortified positions, and a HQ were destroyed.

…………………………………………………………………………………

10) Strange Syrian Bedfellows: US, Russia Coordinate Attack Against Militants From Turkey

Erdogan’s Islamist mercenaries are being targeted by US airstrikes with help from Russia. Are Moscow and Washington teaming up against Ankara? By Paul Kaiser, 28 Feb 2016

http://russia-insider.com/en/politics/nato-bombs-itself-syria-us-airstrikes-target-isis-militants-coming-turkey/ri13093

The US is now targeting Turkish-backed militants in Syria

Turkey has already made it clear that it will not honor the Syria ceasefire (which includes nearly 100 groups) if it feels its security is “threatened”. This is code for “we reserve the right to continue attacking the Syrian Kurds.” And not surprisingly, that’s exactly what Ankara has foolishly decided to do. Using the tried and true tactic of “look the other way as ‘ISIS’ crosses our border“, Ankaralaunched an attack on the Kurdish-held border town of Tel Abyad:

The Russian ceasefire monitoring center near Latakia says it is verifying reports of an attack on the Kurdish town Tell Abyad in northern Syria carried out by militants coming from Turkey.

The reports came overnight and claim that the forces coming from Turkey are using heavy artillery, according to Lt. Gen. Sergey Kuralenko, who heads the center for Syrian reconciliation.

“This information was verified though multiple channels, including representatives of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), [a rebel alliance that includes Kurds, Arabs and other ethnic groups and operates in the region],” he said.

The US, which is allied with many of the Kurdish forces in Syria, pounded the Turkish-backed militants with airstrikes:

Islamic State militants launched an assault on a Kurdish-controlled town on Syria‘s border with Turkey on Saturday, prompting air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition to try to drive them back.

The hardline Sunni fighters attacked Tel Abyad, which is controlled by the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, and the nearby town of Suluk in the early hours of Saturday, YPG spokesman Redur Xelil and Turkish security sources told Reuters.

Here’s a map of the battlefield. The blue bombs represent US airstrikes against the militants that crossed the border from Turkey. tell-abyad-syria.png

The US airstrikes might have actually come at the urging of Russia. As SkyNews reports:

[T]he northern Syrian town of Tel Abyad has come under attack from Turkish territory

Russia contacted the US co-ordination centre in Amman, which is monitoring the break in fighting, after the attack was recorded by the Russian co-ordination centre in Syria, the Interfax news agency reported.

Is this real life? Is the US teaming up with Russia to fight Turkey?

…………………………………………………………………………………………

11) Cessation of Hostilities brokered jointly by Russia and the U.S.

Syria: Peace and Victory – by Navid Nasr, 28 February 2016

https://gianalytics.org/454-syria-peace-and-victory

Syria: Peace and Victory

As of the time of this writing, February 27, a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria has gone into effect, brokered jointly by Russia and the U.S. This is news that should be welcomed by all people and all movements that are on the side of the Syrian people and their government. The “facts on the ground” have never been more favorable since the escalation of the conflict in 2012 and the fall of much of Aleppo in late 2012 and early 2013. Aleppo itself is now surrounded by the Syrian Arab Army and allied forces, with the remaining “rebels” trapped and cut off from their supply lines. The “Azaz corridor” has fallen and, along with it, their lifeline to Turkey. Deir ez-Zor, Dara’a, Latakia, wherever you look in the country, Syrian forces have gained the upper hand and are regaining territory from militants, both domestic and foreign, and inflicting heavy punishment on them in the process.

Even though it may be counter-intuitive for many who think, believe and want Syrian and allied armed forces to seize the opportunity to thoroughly wipe out the armed opposition, a ceasefire right now, is the best way to move forward and ensure victory in the war. The terms of the ceasefire are such that they both isolate the most numerous, vicious and deadly Jihadi groups while also reaching out an olive branch to the other, more nationalist-minded, opposition groups who have actual roots in Syria and don’t necessarily have their hearts fully set on killing, enslaving or driving out all the Alawi, Ismaili, Druze, Christians, Shi’ites, secular/apostate Kurds, and other minorities.

Note carefully here what both President Putin and President Assad have to say about it:

Putin noted strikes on terror targets are to continue.

As for ISIS, Al-Nusra and other terror groups – regarded as such by the UN Security Council – they are totally exempt from the truce,” he said. “Strikes against them will continue.”

Moscow and Washington are to work together to determine which groups will not be targeted.

This is a real chance to stop the bloodshed in Syria,” as well as to deliver humanitarian aid, Putin said in a televised statement. Russia is to exercise its influence on Damascus, he said, adding that he expects to see the same effort from the US with regards to the opposition forces and allies.

[…]

…Syrian President Bashar Assad said Damascus is ready for a ceasefire, but will not tolerate terrorists exploiting it to restore their positions, adding that the Syrian Army will still continue fight Al-Nusra and Islamic State, as well as radical Islamist Ahrar al-Sham and Jaysh al-Islam.

Not only that but it also ends the Turkish bombardment of the border region and puts an end to any plans, however ridiculous, of some sort of joint Turkish/Saudi invasion of Syria.

As for the somewhat more “moderate,” and actually Syrian, rebels, most of them are willingly signing on to this agreement for sound, sane reasons as Israel Shamir makes clear in his column on the ceasefire here:

A friendly field commander of an armed anti-Assad opposition organisation near Aleppo faxed me a copy of a document he signed with the Russian army representative regarding the ceasefire. He added that he thinks now is the right time, or well after right time to bring peace to Syria. Fight to complete victory will be the fight till the last Syrian, he said. Better Syria with Assad than no Syria and no Assad.

As for who doesn’t benefit from this agreement and whose plans have been put paid to by it, that’s been made perfectly clear as well. Just follow the whines, hand-wringing, kvetching and doom-saying back to their source. Witness the impotent brayings of the horse-faced New England brahmin currently at the helm of the State Department:

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, has said he will move towards a plan B that could involve a partition of Syria if a planned ceasefire due to start in the next few days does not materialise, or if a genuine shift to a transitional government does not take place in the coming months.

It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if we wait much longer,” he told the US Senate foreign relations committee on Tuesday.

[…]

Kerry suggested partition could form part of an eventual solution, saying “this can get a lot uglier and Russia has to be sitting there evaluating that too. It may be too late to keep it as a whole Syria if it is much longer”. It is the first time Kerry has spoken of partition…

He continued to insist that Assad could not remain leader because he was not acceptable to those who have fought him over the past four years.

Bear in mind that neither Kerry nor the U.S. government have any right, legal or otherwise, to dictate who can or cannot be the Syrian head of state, much less whether or not Syria will remain one united country or be partitioned.

Partition is something that both the vast majority of the Syrian people and the Syrian government have categorically rejected since day one. In the words of Dr. Bouthaina Shaaban, political and media advisor to President Assad:

The Syrian people have fought for five years against any partition plan of Syria. The Syrian people do not want any partition in Syria and I’m sure they will succeed to keep the territorial integrity and unity of Syria.

Russia is categorically opposed to any partition plan as well:

Moscow will focus on “Plan A” in accordance to the agreement signed between the United States and Russia on the cessation of hostilities in Syria and is not looking at “Plan B,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday.

Earlier, Kerry announced steps that would be made toward a backup plan that could include the division of Syria if the ceasefire planned for February 27 did not work or if an actual swing to a transient government does not happen within the next few months.

“Currently, we are focusing on ‘Plan A’ and believe that the discussion and work for the realization of the plan that was agreed by the presidents of the two countries [US President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin] should be our priority,” Peskov told journalists in response to a question regarding US Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement concerning a backup plan should the cessation of hostilities agreement fall apart at the seams.

It should be noted that partition is, and has been for a while now, a central part of U.S. foreign policy strategy for dealing with the recalcitrant “regimes” and inconvenient population groups.

Whether it is Sudan, Yugoslavia, Serbia itself, Macedonia, Ukraine, Russia, China, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen or Iran, the methods, and the eventual (or hoped for) outcome of partition vary only slightly. In some cases direct military intervention is required, but in most cases local proxies will do nicely, whether armed militias or “civil society” types.

Suffice it to say that partition of Syria will not happen without the consent of the Syrian people and the Syrian and Russian governments and it is not something within the U.S. government’s power to bring about on its own. Which means, for all of Kerry’s huffing and puffing, “America can’t do a damn thing,” to borrow a quote from Ayatollah Khomeini.

I should note here that the genesis of this strategy of partition predates the wars on Syria, Iraq and Libya by decades and is laid out beautifully by Vanessa Beeley in her piece “Syria in the Crosshairs.”

For now, though, it is time to cautiously celebrate the first major step towards peace and victory for Syria and the Syrian people.

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