Friday, October 10, 2014

Today's Links

 Russia said unilateral US strikes in Syria would be a crude violation of international law. 


1---ISIS has joined with thee so called "moderates" and the war is spilling over into Lebanon: Lebanon: Hezbollah, allies prevent cross border attack by extremist groups, alakhbar


After four intense clashes with al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and their allies, Hezbollah and the Syrian army succeeded in foiling multiple cross border attacks, causing a number of losses in the ranks of the militants and their supply of ammunition.
The violent clashes that erupted last Sunday in al-Qalamoun and Ersal have calmed down Wednesday night. After Hezbollah suffered a severe blow on the outskirts of Brital, news of the death of tens of militants from al-Nusra Front and its allies surfaced.
What really happened on the outskirts of Qalamoun in the last few days and up until Wednesday’s “bloodbath” against Nusra and its allies?
The militants opposing the Syrian government have all united under the same flag in Qalamoun. ISIS, Nusra and what is left of the so-called Free Syrian Army are all fighting side by side.
They attacked Hezbollah sites on the outskirts of Lebanon’s Brital and Nahle last Sunday, successfully infiltrating Lebanese territory and causing Hezbollah major losses before being forced to retreat due to Hezbollah’s strong resilience and quick retaliation


2---Great primer for recent events in Ukraine and Syria: The U.S. Versus ISIS, counterpunch


Baghdad strongly rejects boots from Sunni-led countries like Saudi Arabia on its ground, just as it rejects a return of U.S. forces. The U.S.—never, ever capable of grasping the depth of the Sunni-Shia divide or even able to apply the necessary respect to study it—wants to cobble together a grandiose “coalition” and, in pronouncing each new enumeration of its members, boast of how it has global backing and remains the leader of the world. (Have you noticed that the imperialists have revived that quaintly anachronistic Cold World term, “the Free World”?) But in so doing, it boasts of deploying Sunni Muslim forces (at least in aerial bombing campaigns) against Sunni ISIL while sidelining Shiite Iran and endlessly repeating its hostility to Alawite-led Syria.


Another problem is that Turkey, a NATO member, which if attacked (or if it declares it’s been attacked) can demand that all other NATO nations come to its aid. Ankara openly seeks the downfall of the government of Bashar Assad in Syria, and also hates the Syrian Kurds who are aligned with Turkey’s PKK and the (increasingly independent and assertive) Iraqi Kurds as well . If Turkey were to invade Syria, it would not be to merely confront ISIL but to destroy multiple foes at odds with the jihadis. Imagine Obama invoking the NATO charter to assist Turkey and occupy Syria following some Tonkin Gulf-type moment.


In a nutshell: the United States—having caused a Sunni-Shiite civil war in Iraq by destroying the secular Baathist regime and its institutions in 2003;  having produced the conditions that allowed al-Qaeda (in the form of al-Zarqawi’s initial group that has morphed into ISIL) to root itself in Iraq, then Syria; having backed (as its best bet) the government headed by al-Maliki that gradually alienated the Sunnis of Iraq; and having, through its savagery, racism, disrespect, ignorance, arrogance, and incompetence, made itself entirely unwelcome among the peoples of the region—cannot accomplish anything good in the Middle East.


3---Iran warns Turkey to stay out of Syria: US, Turkey at odds over Syria intervention, wsws


If anything, Turkish policy has been to promote ISIS as part of the anti-Assad campaign in Syria. As US vice president Biden admitted last week, Turkey has allowed thousands of ISIS recruits to pass through its territory to Syria to join the Islamist group.


This attitude has triggered a political upheaval in the Kurdish-populated region in Turkey, with anti-government rioting in which at least 22 people were killed Tuesday and Wednesday. By Thursday, the government had decreed a state of emergency in six provinces in southeastern Turkey. Turkish police openly sided with ISIS against the Kurds this week, reportedly shouting pro-ISIS slogans during street battles with Kurdish protesters.


The Obama administration is under increasing pressure, from the military-intelligence apparatus, from its Kurdish allies in northern Iraq, and from warmongering critics in both the Republican and Democratic parties, to intervene more aggressively in Syria. ....


Turkey has an army of nearly 700,000, the sixth largest in the world and by far the largest in the Middle East, heavily equipped with US and European-made weaponry, including a large air force. Nonetheless, NATO secretary-general Stoltenberg was at pains to suggest that a few thousand ISIS fighters on the Turkish border constituted a threat that could justify military intervention under Article Five of the NATO charter.


While Washington and NATO have been prodding Turkey to intervene, the government of Iran issued a formal demarche over the Turkish parliament’s action last week, giving Erdogan authority to send Turkish troops across the border. Iran warned of “irreparable consequences” if Turkey violated the sovereignty of Syria, which is Iran’s sole ally among the Arab states of the Middle East.
Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham said Tehran would send troops to fight ISIS in Kobani if requested by the Assad government. “Kobani is part of Syria's sovereignty and territorial integrity and if the Syrian government makes a demand, we will be ready to provide any assistance it wants,” she said Wednesday in Tehran.


4---Tehran to America: ‘Thank you Great Satan!’, alakhbar


The second measure was cautionary, as Iran drew a number of red lines, threatening to turn the table on everyone in Iraq and Syria if they are crossed. This includes refraining from targeting the Syrian regime and getting the latter’s approval before launching any strikes inside Syria.


Today, Iran is putting its hand on the trigger as it observes the surrounding developments and considers a range of complicated calculations. .....


Meanwhile, the top command in Iran decided not to take part in the international coalition for multiple reasons, including the fact that its participation would contradict with the image that Tehran tries to promote about itself as an adversary to the United States. In addition, although Iran and the coalition have a common interest in targeting ISIS, Tehran views this intersection of interests as temporary, because the ultimate goals of the coalition contradict with the Iranian plans for the region.


The third aspect of the Iranian approach is based on the belief that the international coalition contains so many contradictions that will eventually lead to its downfall, or at least its unraveling. The coalition includes parties like Saudi Arabia, the founder and promoter of ISIS, the group now threatening the house of Saud, and Turkey, the regional security, logistic, and military sponsor of ISIS, which after the many Turkish defeats in the region, constitutes the most important card that Ankara possesses in the region.


Then comes Egypt which is insisting on adding the Muslim Brotherhood to the list of targets as a terrorist organization, and believes that priority should be given to Sinai, Libya, and Sudan. The coalition also includes Qatar, the official sponsor of the Muslim Brotherhood, now under twice the pressure from the Gulf and the United States. Meanwhile, Jordan is acting as an advance defense line for Israel. The country had to throw itself in this conflict after receiving a public promise by the occupation army to take immediate actions to defend Jordan in case ISIS reaches its territory. ...


An observer recalled the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2002, explaining that, “While US bombs were falling on Kabul and Baghdad, Iranians were saying “Thank you, Great Satan!” The regimes of Taliban and Saddam have both fallen after they were originally set to block the expansion of Iranian hegemony.” Will this be happening again?


Comments opposed:  there is no evidence of any "confusion" in Iran about the "Coalition"'s ultimate goals and whether the US is "stupid enough" to put resources into fighting Iran's enemy, in the form of ISIS. There have been numerous comments and analyses from Iranian politicians and analysts indicating the clear awareness that despite the APPARENT "common interest in targeting ISIS", Iran's and US's interests are diametrically opposite. This collision of interests is not, as the author claims, "because the ultimate goals of the coalition contradict with the Iranian plans for the region" - not elaborating what the "ultimate goal of the coalition" might be! The collision of interests - which Iranians are fully aware of - centres around the US/Israeli/western hegemonic ambitions in the region targeting the Axis of Resistance (Iran, Syria, Hezbullah) on the one hand, and the Resistance confronting these attacks to their independence and survival, at great human and economic cost to their respective populations, on the other. This is not, as claimed in this article and in repeated claims from anti-Iran fanatics, due to Iran's 'regional hegemonic ambitions'.


US Pretext for War in Syria
US didn't bomb Syria due to the staged chemical attack because the specific pretext was removed by the Russians in the deal they brokered regarding Syria's chemical deterrent. Further complications appeared when Russia threatened to deploy S-300 systems on the ground in Syria.
Make no mistake; in order to accumulate the necessary political support for military activity, the US requires both a pretext and a minimum of military obstacles. The pretext disappeared with the Russian deal, and the obstacle of the S-300s -- while possible to deal with -- would have required mission creep (combined arms campaign, as opposed to just an air campaign) that the US didn't have the political capital to embark on.


Now, it is different. First, the chemical deterrent is gone forever, and the Russians cancelled the S-300 deal for good and began dismantling the undelivered equipment a month or two ago (thanks a lot, Putin). Second, the US has an ironclad pretext and sufficient political capital to wage a campaign in Syria. They have already invaded Syrian airspace, and have already gone beyond the original parameters of the operation (bombing al-Nusra, bombing further west, in the Homs and Aleppo governorates). Now the original plan to train 5,000 "vetted" fighters is experiencing mission creep as US generals have suggested expanding it to 10,000 or 15,000.


On top of this, two more ominous proposals are circulating. The US has proposed a no-fly zone in Eastern Syria, ostensibly to protect "vetted" fighters and keep the Syrian Arab Army from advancing into areas where the Islamic State has been degraded. As well, Turkey is being pressured to join the coalition to play a role in a buffer zone on the Syrian side of its border, which would most assuredly host "vetted" fighters.
Now, ask yourself, what stops the US from expanding the campaign even further? They've used this pretext to establish even more pretexts sufficient to justify eventually toppling the Syrian Arab Republic altogether, and they're already in the air over Syria. Unless concrete steps are taken by sympathetic outside powers to check US moves, the sky is the limit for the US, pardon the pun.


5---Russia screws Iran and Syria out of S-300 missile system, Janes


This decision [to cancel the deal] was made under the relevant UN sanctions by our political leadership," the 11 August report quoted Buryulin as saying. "If the equipment does not find an appropriate application, it will be disposed of."
Russia has used its Security Council veto to prevent the imposition of a UN arms embargo on Damascus and has admitted delivering some S-300 components to the Syrians. However, the deal was put on hold after it brokered the agreement under which Damascus surrendered its chemical weapons.


"We have delivered separate components, but the whole delivery has not been completed and for the moment we have suspended it," Russian President Vladimir Putin said in September 2013.
Meanwhile, Iran continues its attempts to persuade Moscow to resurrect the S-300 deal that was cancelled after a UN arms embargo was imposed on the Islamic republic in 2010.
"Iran considers the S-300 contract to be still active because the sanctions that were introduced under UN Security Council Resolution 1929 do not cover the S-300 contract," Interfax quoted Iran's ambassador to Russia as saying in July.
"Representatives of our defence ministry have repeatedly held talks with their partners in Russia. I think they have good mutual understanding. I hope that we will receive an S-300 or a more modern system."


Putin has praised the capabilities of the Russian-made S-300s, which can engage 12 targets simultaneously at distances of 200 kilometers and heights of up to 27 kilometers.
Israel has been aggressively lobbying Moscow not to provide Syria with the system, which could alter the balance of aerial power between Israel and Syria.
In May, Israel's defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, said that Israel "will know what to do" if Russia delivers the S-300s.
"The deliveries have not taken place – I can attest to this – and I hope they do not. But if, by some misfortune, they arrive in Syria, we will know what to do," Yaalon said


Laying bare the origins of World War I in the basic contradictions of the capitalist economy, Leon Trotsky pointed out that, confronted with the end of the economic boom of the first decade of the twentieth century, the great imperialist powers sought to resolve the crisis of their economic system by “mechanical means,” that is, through military conflict against their rivals.


The economic conditions to which Trotsky pointed a century ago have returned today with even greater force. Accordingly, the preparations for a resort to “mechanical means” are being made.
It cannot be accidental that, in the past year, as it has been increasingly recognised that stagnation as well as outright recession have become permanent conditions of the world economy, militarism is on the rise....


Of course, the relationship between economic processes and politics is not direct and immediate but assumes complex forms. But the general tendency of development is clear. The ongoing decline in global economic growth—identified but not explained in the IMF report—means that the militarist drive will intensify in the coming period, creating the conditions for the eruption of another world war.


7---Global shares hit six-month low as growth worries mount, Reuters


Global shares fell to a six-month trough and Brent crude futures tumbled to their lowest since 2010 on Friday as investors worried about the prospect of a widespread economic slowdown just as U.S. monetary stimulus nears its end.
Assets which depend on economic growth, such as shares and oil, have been hit by a raft of weak indicators from Europe at a time when other big economies, including China, Japan and Brazil face their own hardships.


Meanwhile, the U.S. Federal Reserve is set to wind down later this month the asset purchase program that has boosted markets over the past two years. Many observers doubt the recent stimulus measures unveiled by the European Central Bank will make up for it.
"There has been a barrage of negative thoughts on growth and growth assets," said Stewart Richardson, a partner at macro hedge fund RMG Wealth Management.


8---US to put nukes in Poland and Romania, press tv


The US military is set to commission its new missile base in southern Romania on Friday amid strong opposition by Russia and deterioration of relations between Washington and Moscow


August, Russia criticized the United States for planning to deploy MK-41 launch systems that can be used for launching intermediate-range cruise missiles in Poland and Romania.
Last year, the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that it deployed several Iskander ballistic missile systems, which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads, in Kaliningrad.
The Iskander ballistic missile has a range of up to 500 kilometers (about 300 miles) and travels at hypersonic speeds that make it very difficult to intercept.
The deployment of missiles came in response to the development of the US missile system in Europe


9---Vicious circle: ‘Economy not growing as companies sit on billions and don’t invest, RT


10---Obama: the black Face of Empire, RT


“The unprecedented historical symbolism of the first Black president has misled many if not most Black people to downplay his substantial neoliberal policies and elevate his [and his family’s] brilliant and charismatic presence,” West writes in the excerpt, which was published online by


“The Obama presidency has been primarily a Wall Street presidency, drone presidency, mass surveillance presidency unwilling to concretely target the new Jim Crow, massive unemployment, and other forms of poor and Black social misery,” he writes. “His major effort to focus on poor Black men was charity and philanthropy — not justice or public policy.”


“The central role of mass media, especially a corporate media beholden to the U.S. neoliberal regime, is to keep public discourse narrow and deodorized,” West writes. “By ‘narrow,’ I mean confining the conversation to conservative Republican and neoliberal Democrats who shut out prophetic voices or radical visions. This fundamental power to define the political terrain and categories attempts to render prophetic voices invisible.”


“In the end, Barack Obama commits war crimes in Somalia and Yemen, commits war crimes in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” West says. “And Martin Luther King Jr. tries to keep the spotlight on the war crimes, to keep track of the innocent children who were being killed, the innocent men and women who were being killed. So you get a major clash.”


“And that’s why I tell my young brothers and sisters, when they walk around with this little sweater of Martin, Malcolm and Barack Obama, I say, ‘Please. That’s like Coltrane and Sarah Vaughan and Pat Boone.’ He’s a very different tradition. We love Brother Pat, but he doesn’t belong on that shirt. And Barack Obama does not belong on that shirt.”


11---After Abenomics Failed In Japan, It Is About To Be Tried In Europe, zero hedge
After two years of Abenomics, Japan officially admitted it has entered a triple-dip recession


12---Japan's triple dip recession, zero hedge


So, triple-dip in Europe first, and now Japan. It's good to see those $11 trillion spent by the world's central banks to buy a recovery was well spent.


13---Mega-startups go parabolic. Flame-out already happening, wolf street
http://wolfstreet.com/2014/10/09/priming-the-startup-scene-and-ipo-market-for-burnout/


Pre-IPO “valuations” are an artifice decided behind closed doors within a tight community where everyone benefits if the valuations are ratcheted up relentlessly. In the current climate of boundless liquidity and near-zero returns on conservative investments, there is plenty of liquidity sloshing around, waiting for the next opportunity to book a paper profit. That paper profit is nearly guaranteed as long as everyone believes that everyone believes that valuations will be higher in the near future.
Look at Snapchat. It was driven from an already dizzying valuation of $2 billion last November to $10 billion earlier this year, with investors putting in an amazingly tiny amount of actual money. That kind of return would be hard to accomplish even in a frothing-at-the-mouth IPO market [read.... How to Rig the Entire IPO Market with just $20 Million].


Some of them, like Snapchat, don’t have revenues, so convincing even exuberant investors to pay top dollars would be a slog.


14---Hagel: US wants use of Turkey's İncirlik base, help training, todays zaman


15--US SENATORS AGREE WITH ERDOĞAN THAT ASSAD REGIME MUST LEAVE POWER, Sabah


16---REALITIES BEHIND THE RAPID EXPANSION OF ISIS, sabah


The creators of today's global system will not allow small-scale countries implement their own policies in the international arena or even at the domestic level. Today's maps in the Middle East were drawn a hundred years ago in the aftermath of the collapse of the Ottoman Empire. Since then, the region became an arena for global powers.

On Sept. 17, the U.S. House of Representatives gave the authority to President Barrack Obama to arm and train "moderate Syrian rebels" to fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) terrorists. Even though nobody is sure about who the moderate fighters are, the Saudi government is funding the initiative and providing training facilities in Saudi Arabia.

Despite the fact that support for the Obama administration on foreign policy issues has been very low in the Republican majority House recently, the plan passed with 273 "yes" and 156 "no" votes. The day after the vote the Senate also passed the bill of authorization for military action, which will end on Dec. 11. On the following Friday morning, French military warplanes launched airstrikes against ISIS targets in Iraq. According to some analysts, the French airstrikes were nothing more than a demonstration of political support for the U.S. efforts. French authorities also stated that the French military will not hit targets in Syria
.... Interestingly, at the public level, cautiousness toward Iran is even higher: A 2013 poll showed that 40% of Russians believe Iran's influence over world affairs is negative (only 10% view it as positive).
17--Putin: Eurasian integration process reaches new level, itar tass


18---Russia, China Unified Against On Syria Intervention, HP


19---Is Japan Back In Recession?, Edward hugh


20--Eurozone on cusp of triple-dip recession as German exports crumble, Telegraph
Germany's Wise Men slash their growth forecasts for next year and call for fiscal stimulus, warning that the ECB's 'QE-lite' will achieve nothing


Germany’s exports are falling at the fastest rate since the global crisis in 2009, raising fears of a triple-dip recession and a disastrous relapse for the rest of the eurozone.
The country’s five economic institutes - or "Wise Men" - slashed their growth forecast for Germany from 2pc to 1.2pc next year, warning that the latest measures unveiled by the European Central Bank will add “hardly any” extra stimulus to the real economy and may be unworkable...


They called for a burst of spending on roads and key infrastructure, criticising the balanced-budget mantra of finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble. “The German federal government is not making enough use of its financial scope to invest,” they said. ...


The Wise Men attacked the ECB’s plans for asset purchases, saying that there are no more than €150bn of asset-backed securities (ABS) and €600bn of mortgage bonds available to buy. The bank cannot plausibly purchase more than a fraction of this. Earlier efforts to buy €40bn of covered bonds ran into the ground, ending at €16bn.
The policy depends on banks issuing large amounts of low-quality debt, a credit risk for the ECB that leads to “moral hazard”. It cuts across efforts to create a banking union in which creditors would suffer the first losses in a crisis, they said.
The report has a high official status in Germany. Its criticisms show just how difficult it will be for the ECB to secure German consent for full-fledged quantitative easing. While the country has no veto as such, it would be extremely risky for ECB president Mario Draghi to push QE too far in defiance of Berlin, especially at a time when the anti-euro AfD party is making major gains.


While couched in cautious language this is an admission that the supposed cure of “labour flexibility” imposed by the EU on southern Europe is not working as hoped, and may stem from a false diagnosis of Europe’s jobs crisis. It called for retraining and other “active labour market policies” to bring millions of marginalised people back into the workforce. This is exactly what critics have been saying all along.

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