Most Americans have opposed militarily intervening in Syria. Only 20% supported bombing Damascus in 2013. Yet the one lawmaker who made concrete moves to de-escalate the war and roll back covert US support for extremist insurgents has been pilloried for taking a stand.
1--The safe return of Syrian refugees can be provided with the formation of a safe zone, as recently agreed by Presidents Erdoğan and Trump (The case for a safe zone in syria)
The Arab Spring, the fall of regimes in the Middle East and the civil war in Syria have brought chaos and degradation of living conditions that prompted a massive inflow of migrants to Europe and created a worst refugee crisis in the world, according to the United Nations. Its disclosed data reveals that some 7 million Syrians are displaced internally today, while 5 million have found refuge in foreign countries....
Refugees in Turkey
Since 2011, Turkey has received a constant inflow of displaced Syrians fleeing conflict. Nearly half a million of them came from the areas controlled by the People's Protection Units (YPG), and half of them were Kurds. The number of refugees may well exceed 5 million by 2028, and Turkey has spent more than $32 billion from its national budget on their accommodation and integration. More than 95 percent reside in urban centers and at least 560,000 refugees are registered in Istanbul....
Nearly 500,000 Syrian children are enrolled in Turkey's public education system now, according to UNICEF, and another 230,000 study at accredited education centers providing curricula in Arabic....
According to Russian sources, more than 600,000 displaced Syrians have returned home, largely to Aleppo, starting in 2017. Around 85 percent of them moved back from temporary locations in safer parts of Syria, while the rest came from Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and Iraq. Up to 1.5 million more displaced Syrians may be expected to return from abroad in the near future. The Syrian regime claims to be ready to host up to 330,000 repatriates by providing accommodation in 75 towns and settlements in the regions relatively undamaged by the hostilities. In August 2018, the Russian Defense Ministry announced a launch in Syria of a coordinating center to assist the refugees with repatriation. "If we help to those coming back home, the migration pressure on the EU countries may go down," said Russian President Vladimir Putin when meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Helsinki on July 16, 2018
Since March 2017, following the completion of Operation Euphrates Shield, 140,000 Syrian refugees have returned home from Turkey. Still, the mass repatriation is hardly possible without Syria's reconstruction, requiring enormous effort. By some estimates, $400 billion will be needed to rebuild postwar Syria, and the Western community is reluctant to allocate the funds before a new constitution is adopted and a democratically elected government takes office. Though both are on the international agenda, the process is slow and impeded by the still ongoing hostilities in certain parts of Syria. Still repatriation to the liberated regions continues and is about to gain increasing momentum.
In the meantime, Syria's reconstruction is hardly a priority for the U.N., which concentrates its effort on political settlement in Syria. In turn, the U.S. doesn't consider the current situation in Syria favorable for the refugees' return.
As for the EU, it's openly reluctant to help Syria with reconstruction until assurance is given that democratic elections will be held.
Russia considers the U.S. position on the refugees return "destructive," as Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov mentioned last August, and sees its refusal to engage in the Syrian infrastructure reconstruction as an "attempt to impede by force the repatriation of Syrians." In the meantime, Lebanon is currently hosting more than 1.5 million refugees and supports a speedy repatriation of Syrians unconditional of the Syrian political settlement, according to its Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.
The establishment of a safe zone in northern Syria, that Erdoğan announced on Dec. 15 and as agreed upon with Trump, would further foster the refugees' return to the liberated regions, Turkey believes
His remarks came on the same day U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham had talks in Ankara with the Turkish government, including the president, foreign minister, defense minister and intelligence chief. Aksoy said the latest developments in Syria, including the issue of a safe zone will be on the agenda of the talks with the American senator.
The talks also came ahead of a crucial meeting of the Turkish and Russian presidents on the issue of Syria. Aksoy said the issue of the U.S.-proposed safe zone will also be discussed with the Russians. The issues will be among on the agenda of discussions that President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will have with his Russian counterpart during a visit to Russia on Jan. 23, he added.
“Our response to the U.S. proposal of a safe zone is affirmative. I would like to state that a meeting between military officials and diplomats continue,” said the spokesperson, stressing that the safe zone Turkey supports will be a significant development for Syria.
“Of course, this is a process. Discussions on how this zone will be set up and its modalities will proceed,” he said and noted that the deputy foreign minister will convey Turkey’s views on the safe zone during a meeting of the Syria Working Group on Feb. 5 in Washington. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu will participate an international meeting on the issue of ISIL in the U.S. on Feb. 6, he added.
Aksoy also stressed that the withdrawal period of the U.S. should not serve the YPG’s interests. “A new fait accompli should not happen,” he said.
The spokesperson underlined that Turkey’s determination has pushed U.S. President Donald Trump to decide to withdraw from Syria.
“Yet, we have observed a resistance in U.S. security bureaucracy against the decision of withdrawal. The dialogue between our countries is important in order to implement this decision,” said Aksoy.
Turkey won’t stop until it eradicates the terrorists from neighboring Syria, said the head of Turkey’s presidential communications on Jan. 18. “We won’t stop until we drain the terrorist swamp next door. We won’t rest until justice is served,” presidential communications director Fahrettin Altun wrote on Twitter.
“Terrorists have killed more than 2,000 innocent people in Turkey since 2015. Many of those attacks were planned in northern Syria. The Turkish people suffered more than their fair share,” Altun added. Turkey has said it will soon launch an operation in northern Syria, east of the Euphrates River, targeting the YPG. Turkey sees the YPG as the Syrian branch of the illegal PKK, which is listed as terrorist group by the U.S., Turkey and the EU.
Speaking about Turkey’s plan of a safe zone in Syria, he suggested: “I think that both Turkey and the U.S. have an interest in not allowing Iran, [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad and the Russians to dominate what happens in Syria. And recognizing that common goal I think the U.S. and Turkey can work together to establish safe zones in Syria not only to confront ISIS and terrorism in those areas, but also establish a base of action in order to ensure that Syria goes in the right direction.”
Panetta said that he is very concerned about President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria, especially after the Jan. 16 attack in Manbij. “I am very concerned about any kind of precipitated withdrawal from Syria because of the ISIS threat. President Trump is very unpredictable in all of his decisions. I am sure that his defense advisers and his national security adviser will indicate that in light of this attack it would be a serious mistake to move forward with any kind of withdrawal.”According to Panetta, there is a chaotic process in the White House especially when it comes to foreign policy decisions.
The al-Nusra Front, a former affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, now occupies 70 percent of Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Jan. 18 during a press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Maas in Moscow.
“It also worries us that in Idlib, contrary to the agreements on creating the demilitarized zone there, Jabhat al-Nusra dominates and violates the demilitarized zone. About 70 percent of this territory is already occupied by terrorists; they are trying to attack the Syrian army’s positions, settlements and they are trying to threaten our military air base in Hmeymim,” Lavrov said.
It is possible that U.S. special envoy for North Korea Stephen Biegun would join the meeting later, a U.S. official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
A senior official from North Korea is in Washington for a rare visit, during which he is expected to meet US President Donald Trump as the two countries seek to finalize a new summit aimed at denuclearization.
Kim Yong Chol, a military general and right-hand man to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, arrived Thursday in the US capital.
The North Korean negotiator abruptly canceled his last planned talks in the United States, a meeting set two months ago in New York with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
A US official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Pompeo would welcome the North Korean on Friday for a meal in Washington before the two are expected to head together to the White House.
Meanwhile, high-ranking diplomats from the United States and North Korea are holding talks in Sweden, a diplomatic source told Reuters on Friday....
North Korean authorities have complained about continued US and UN sanctions on their country, calling them a “source of mistrust.” They have also denounced what they have called "gangster-like behavior" by the US.
Pyongyang says Washington has betrayed the spirit of the June’s summit by making unilateral demands on the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization, while putting the sanctions in place
7--Hillary deliberately switched to her private server to evade public record under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)? No record, no crime?
"In time, historians will likely document that the Clintons and Obamas entered office in January 2009 with a grand plan to transform America's relations with key powers, especially in the Middle East," Ortel said. "This plan involved toppling national leaders in many nations by fomenting local uprisings using clandestine resources, in actions that were not likely validly authorized by Congress, as is certainly required under US laws"....
The question arises as to who benefits from "regime change" operations.
"Multinational defence contractors, investment firms, and financial institutions that happen also to be major donors to political campaigns", the investigative journalist responded...
He recalled that "for much lesser offenses involving mishandling classified information, numerous government employees and contractors have suffered jail sentences and other penalties, ruining many careers".
"Yet, the Clintons, the Obamas, and the Bushes seem impervious to serious inquiry," according to the Wall Street analyst.
The financial experts, who have been conducting a private inquiry into the charity both nationally and internationally for the last two years, came to the conclusion that "the foundation was not a charitable organization per se, but in point of fact was a closely held family partnership."
The Clinton Foundation "began acting as an agent of foreign governments 'early in its life' and throughout its existence," Moynihan insisted, adding that as such, the organization should have been registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
8--Tucker Carlson: When Did Democrats Become The Party Of Bill Kristol And Other Discredited Neocon Hacks?
Whatever happened to the Democratic Party? When did the anti-war people become florid neocons? When did it become the party of Bill Kristol and Max Boot and every other discredited hack still trying to replicate the Iraq disaster around the world? Who knows? But it is now. Ask Tulsi Gabbard. Gabbard is a Democratic member of Congress who’s running for President. On most questions she’s a conventional liberal. She represents Hawaii after all. But on the question of Syria she’s skeptical. Gabbard isn’t eager to overthrow the Assad government. She worries about what might come next, and what might happen to the Christians and other religious minorities who live there. For this position she’s being denounced by the left as a monster.
Former senior FBI and DOJ officials could find themselves at the center of a criminal investigation after bombshell testimony from a DOJ official revealed they knew a former British spy’s dossier was not vetted but still used it as evidence to obtain a warrant to spy on a Trump campaign aide.
DOJ official Bruce Ohr revealed last August in closed-door congressional testimony that he had informed three top senior Justice Department and FBI officials in the summer of 2016 about his meetings with former British spy Christopher Steele. Ohr told these officials about Steele’s animus toward Trump and that the dossier was not verified. Further, he informed the officials that he was also in communication with Glenn Simpson, the founder of embattled research firm Fusion GPS.
The FBI and DOJ also knew Simpson’s firm was paid by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee to investigate Trump, according to Ohr. The bureau also knew that Ohr’s wife, Nellie Ohr, was working for Simpson.
This means, Ohr informed these senior officials well before the FBI sought the October, 2016 FISA warrant to spy on former Trump advisor Carter Page. Ohr’s testimony was reviewed by SaraACarter.com and vetted by sources that could verify its accuracy.
10-- The US political crisis reaches fever pitch--Today's "must read"
The political battle within the US ruling elite is reaching a new peak of intensity, with an ongoing media campaign portraying Trump as a Russian agent, Democratic Party demands to cancel the State of the Union address, and Trump’s response Thursday afternoon, blocking a planned foreign trip by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi that would have included a visit to US troops in Afghanistan.
While the anti-Russian campaign against Trump escalates, spearheaded by the New York Times and the Washington Post, with nearly daily “exposés” depicting Trump as a puppet of Vladimir Putin, Trump answered with a fascistic rant against the supposed “radical left” takeover of the Democratic Party, delivered to a military audience at the Pentagon. “The party has been hijacked by the open borders fringe,” he claimed.
The mutual vilification takes place under conditions of a partial shutdown of the federal government that will reach the one-month mark next Tuesday, with 800,000 federal workers going without paychecks. More than 300,000 are furloughed and nearly 500,000 are forced to work without pay...
Both the failure of its long-term geopolitical strategy and the emergence of working class opposition at home have profoundly disoriented the American ruling elite. In the wake of US failures abroad, bitter recriminations have led to the hunt for scapegoats. The question of “Who lost China?” played a major role in the McCarthy witch hunts of the 1950s. The new McCarthyism of the Democratic Party poses the question “Who lost Syria?..