Thursday, December 31, 2015

Today's links

1---US helping ISIS leaders escape

Qassem al-Araji, a member of the Iraqi parliament's Security and Defense Committee, told Al-Monitor, “Iraqis are ill-served by the presence of US troops in Iraq, as such troops facilitate the escape of terrorist organizations from the grasp of the Iraqi army and the Popular Mobilization Units. We shall never allow such a presence because we are capable of protecting our country from terrorism. There are attempts by Americans on the ground to protect high-ranking IS leaders, which proves that this organization is but a tool wielded by the Americans, who do not want it eradicated in Iraq.”

2--Putin fights war party on all fronts, pepe escobar

3---More trouble ahead----On the threshold of the New Year
31 December 2015
As the year 2015 ends, a general mood of fear and foreboding predominates in ruling circles. It is hard to find a trace of optimism. Commentators in the bourgeois media look back on the past year and recognize that it has been a year of deepening crisis. They look forward to 2016 with apprehension. The general sense in government offices and corporate boardrooms is that the coming year will be one of deep shocks, with unexpected consequences.

The Financial Times’ Gideon Rachman gives expression to this pervasive feeling in his end-of-the-year assessment published on Tuesday. “In 2015, a sense of unease and foreboding seemed to settle on all the world’s power centers,” he writes. “All the big players seem uncertain—even fearful.” China “feels much less stable.” In Europe, the mood is “bleak.” In the US, public sentiment is “sour.”
Significantly, Rachman singles out as the “biggest common factor” in the world situation “a bubbling anti-elite sentiment, combining anxiety about inequality and rage about corruption that is visible in countries as different as France, Brazil, China and the US.” This observation reflects a growing recognition within the corporate media that the coming period will be one of immense social upheavals

4--IMF head warns of slow growth and economic “shocks” in 2016

5---Putin and Israel – a complex and multi-layered relationship

Next is something so important that I will single it out on a separate paragraph:
The Atlantic Integrationists are still in full control of the Russian financial and banking sector, of all the key economic ministries and government positions, they control the Russian Central Bank and they are, by far, the single biggest threat to the rule of Putin and those supporting him.  Considering that roughly 90% of Russians now support Putin, that means that these Atlantic Integrationists are the single biggest threat to the Russian people and Russia as a whole.
How is that all linked to Israel?  Simple!
Putin inherited a system created by and for the AngloZionist Empire.  He was a compromise candidate between two radically opposed parties and it took him years to first get rid of most of the Russian (Jewish) oligarchs and then, very gradually, begin cleanup process in which slowly, step by step, the Zionists were booted out of their positions of power.  According to Mikhail Khazin, the balance between these two groups has only recently reached a 50/50 point of (unstable) equilibrium.  That also means that the “Putin people” need to watch their back every day the Good Lord makes because they know that their so-called “colleagues” are willing to stab them in a blink of an eye as soon as they get an opportunity.

6---Syrian Civil War: No End in Sight for Terrorism or the Refugees Fleeing to Safety

There is no reason for Assad and his supporters to agree to a political transition whereby a real transfer of power could take place because they still control most of populated Syria. A propagandist claim by opposition sympathisers that Assad’s forces only control 17 per cent of Syrian territory, implying that they have only a weak grip on the country, is highly misleading because so much of Syria is desert or semi-desert. 

The real balance of power between the main players in Syria is better expressed by the figures for population in areas held by the different sides. The French cartographer Fabrice Balanche at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy estimates that the population of Syria is now down to 16 million because of the exodus of refugees (it was 23 million before the war). Of these, 10 million people are in government-held districts and 2 million each are in Isis, non-Isis rebel and Kurdish territory

7---Russia Adopts Updated National Security Strategy

The most important threats to Russia’s state and societal security is “the activity of radical societal groups and organizations which are using nationalist and extremist religious ideology, of foreign and international NGOs and financial and economic organizations, as well as private individuals, aimed at undermining the unity and territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, destabilizing the political and social situation inside the country, including through inspiring “color revolutions” and destroying traditional Russian spiritual and moral values.”

The document notes that the practice of overthrowing of legitimate political regimes is becoming more widespread. “The practice of overthrowing legitimate political regimes, provoking internal instability and conflict, is becoming more widespread. In addition to the still existing areas of instability in the Middle and Far East, in Africa, South Asia, and the Korean Peninsula, new “hot spots” have appeared and the territory not controlled by any government authority has expanded.”

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Today's Links

1--A New Year’s sense of foreboding over the global economy

2--The New York Times celebrates “retaking Ramadi”

3--US Spins Ramadi Capture as 'Vindication' for Failed Tactics in Daesh War

4---C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition 2012

5--US and Turkey discuss possible regime change in Syria

6--Russian diplomacy achieved a trio of Security Council Resolutions over the last month which give Russia a decisive advantage


Russia can be ‘flexible’ in case of sanctions against Taliban

At the same time, Kabulov stressed that Russia is ready to help Afghanistan cope with its security problems and “consistently lends comprehensive assistance” to it.
Russia supports the Afghan policy of national reconciliation and “is ready to be flexible over a potential easing of the UN Security Council’s sanctions regime against Taliban if it does not contradict the Afghan national interests,” Kabulov told TASS.

Additionally, Russia is expected to deliver 10,000 AK-47 assault rifles to the Afghan army along with accompanying ammunition in January 2016. This matter is almost settled, according to Kabulov. Russia is also holding talks with the Afghan authorities about helicopter shipments.
By late November, Russia had delivered 57 KAMAZ trucks, worth $2.5 million, to Afghanistan free of charge, Kabulov added.

8--‘US and NATO operation in Afghanistan has failed’ – Russian president’s special envoy

9---US Officials Have No Choice but to Admit Russia’s Successes in Syria

10--Turkey: A Criminal State, a NATO State

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Today's Links

If this analysis is valid then I expect that we will see the direct intervention of Russian ground forces in the next months.  the instances of gains by the rebels that are cited were all passing events that were quickly reversed.  Russia continues to focused on achieving a negotiating position that excludes all jihadi groups from the talks.  I continue to think that in the near future we will see a sudden collapse of rebel activity in NW Syria.  pl 
Colonel W. Patrick Lang is a retired senior officer of U.S. Military Intelligence and U.S. Army Special Forces (The Green Berets). He served in the Department of Defense both as a serving officer and then as a member of the Defense Senior Executive Service for many years. He is a highly decorated veteran of several of America’s overseas conflicts including the war in Vietnam. He was trained and educated as a specialist in the Middle East by the U.S. Army and served in that region for many years. He was the first Professor of the Arabic Language at the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. In the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) he was the “Defense Intelligence Officer for the Middle East, South Asia and Terrorism,” and later the first Director of the Defense Humint Service.” For his service in DIA, he was awarded the “Presidential Rank of Distinguished Executive.” This is the equivalent of a British knighthood. He is an analyst consultant for many television and radio broadcasts.

1---"With the consent of Erdogan, Turkish intelligence experts have been training Islamists at secret bases in the Konya Province inside the Turkish border," Berger continues.

2---Déjà vu? Four NATO Countries 'Plan Another Invasion in Libya'
3--Lost thread? If O spent as much time trying to beat ISIS as he does trying to shape public opinion, he might have something to show for it

Operation Inherent Resolve  "our goal here is to make that people are informed about all the actions that we’re taking.”: Obama

The “narrative working group” was created several weeks ago as part of the military’s strategy during a rapidly changing war, according to a report by The Hill.

Robert Malley, who held a Twitter chat with the general public and journalists. He also emails journalists daily summaries of “key developments…in our unyielding campaign to degrade and destroy ISIL.” Separately, there was a briefing on IS finances and efforts to target the group’s oil assets, reported the Hill
What has been consistent about the military’s strategy has been the president’s insistence that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad “must go” before the real fighting against IS can begin, and of his “no boots on the ground” pledge, a phrase repeated by officials, although President Obama said recently that this simply meant no battalion-level deployments

According to a mid-November poll by CBS News, two-thirds of Americans don’t believe that Obama has a coherent strategy for combating IS, with about half of respondents approving of sending ground troops to fight the terrorist group, and 63 percent saying that such a deployment was inevitable. Only 20 percent believe airstrikes, the US’ current favorite tactic, will be successful.
In December, Congress passed an omnibus spending bill approving $573 billion for the Pentagon’s defense operations, with a $58.7 billion budget line for the military campaign against IS

4--Fighting Isis or shaping public perceptions?

The U.S. military is seeking to craft a “new narrative” for the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), in part to push back on the growing perception that President Obama does not have a strategy.
Military officials on the Operation Inherent Resolve task force have recently formed a working group to formulate the narrative, defense officials told The Hill. Separately, the Joint Staff has drafted its own messaging document.

The steps are preliminary and are part of a larger effort to better communicate the United States's military strategy amid heavy criticism from Republican presidential candidates who say Obama is losing the battle against the terrorist group.
"To say there's no strategy is just flat out wrong," said Army Col. Christopher Garver, public affairs officer for the Combined Joint Task Force — Operation Inherent Resolve

5---U.S. sees bearable costs, key goals met for Russia in Syria so far

No quagmire after all

Three months into his military intervention in Syria, Russian President Vladimir Putin has achieved his central goal of stabilizing the Assad government and, with the costs relatively low, could sustain military operations at this level for years, U.S. officials and military analysts say.
That assessment comes despite public assertions by President Barack Obama and top aides that Putin has embarked on an ill-conceived mission in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad that it will struggle to afford and that will likely fail.
"I think it's indisputable that the Assad regime, with Russian military support, is probably in a safer position than it was," said a senior administration official, who requested anonymity. Five other U.S. officials interviewed by Reuters concurred with the view that the Russian mission has been mostly successful so far and is facing relatively low costs.

6---Putin has concentrated on oil smuggling recently.
"You know, I am looking and analyzing everything that was happening there and what is happening there now. I think ISIL [Islamic State or Daesh, outlawed in Russia] is a secondary thing now," Putin said at his annual press conference. The Russian leader reminded of the vacuum that was created after the war in Iraq.
"Then elements emerged related to the oil trade. And this situation has been unfolding for years. A business was established there, smuggling on huge, industrial scale. Then in order to protect this smuggling and illegal export, military force is needed. It is very easy to use the Islamic factor, attract ..

"Then elements emerged related to the oil trade. And this situation has been unfolding for years. A business was established there, smuggling on huge, industrial scale. Then in order to protect this smuggling and illegal export, military force is needed. It is very easy to use the Islamic factor, attract cannon fodder there under Islamic slogans, who are only playing a role linked to economic interests," Putin explained...

He stressed that Daesh could be used as a pretext to military involvement to protect oil smuggling and illegal crude export.

Saudi Arabia announced this week it was building an Islamic coalition, allegedly to fight "terrorists" across the Middle East and Asia.
"It is very easy to use the Islamic factor, attract cannon fodder there under Islamic slogans, who are only playing a role linked to economic interests," Putin said

7---Russian diplomacy achieved a trio of Security Council Resolutions over the last month which give Russia a decisive advantage

8--Leader: Enemies after Muslim civil war
Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says the enemies are trying to trigger infighting among Muslims as they are destroying Islamic countries. 
“The aim of the enemies today is to set off a civil war among Muslims which they have unfortunately succeeded to some extent,” the Leader said Tuesday on the occasion of the birth anniversary of the Prophet of Islam.
“They are destroying countries one after another. They are destroying Syria, Yemen and Libya. They have Muslims in Bahrain under pressure,” Ayatollah Khamenei said.

9--Recapturing Ramadi fits with US partition plan

Reports indicate that the Sunni tribal force will be handed control of Ramadi once it is fully cleared of ISIS fighters and that the Iraqi Army will withdraw. Such a policy dovetails with the widespread discussion in US and European military and strategic circles that the only way to maintain control over the oil-rich Middle East—after more than a decade of military setbacks and debacles for US policy—is the partition of Iraq and Syria into Sunni, Shiite and Kurdish mini-states.
US-Israeli strategist Barak Mendelsohn bluntly headlined a comment in the November edition of Foreign Affairs magazine, “Divide and Conquer in Syria and Iraq: Why the West Should Plan for a Partition.” Mendelsohn declared that the US and the European powers should carve out an “independent Sunni state that would link Sunni-dominated territories on both sides of the border,” while leaving the Russian and Iranian-backed Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad in control of a small Shiite and Christian enclave centred on Damascus.....

The city itself is in ruin. Even the sanitised media footage shows utter devastation to blocks of residential housing. A spokesman for the government-endorsed Anbar provincial council, Eid al-Karboly, told the Washington Post: “All the infrastructure of the city has been destroyed. It will take years to return life to the city.” Karboly estimated that 80 percent of all homes are damaged to some degree....

The growth of support for ISIS in western Iraq stemmed in large part from the decision by the Baghdad government, which is dominated by religious-based Shiite parties, to systematically reduce support for the predominantly Sunni militias in Anbar after the US withdrawal at the end of 2011. Sunni-based political parties and Anbar tribal leaders were subsequently persecuted.

Amid hostility toward the sectarian policies of the Shiite government, areas of Fallujah and Ramadi were taken over by fighters declaring allegiance to ISIS in early 2014. At the time, the actions of the extremist Sunni movement against the Baghdad regime enjoyed the tacit sympathy, if not overt support, of many of the tribal leaderships that had enlisted into the US “Awakening.” Former US-funded tribal fighters provided much of the manpower and military expertise that ISIS employed to capture most of Anbar and the key northern Iraqi city of Mosul in July 2014, where they routed tens of thousands of poorly-motivated, US-trained government troops.
The last sectors of Ramadi came under complete ISIS control in May 2015. As in Mosul, government forces retreated in disarray, provoking US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to publicly denounce the Iraqi Army for “a lack of will to fight.”...

The recapture of the city appears linked to a new set of deals and pay-offs that US officials have struck with the Anbar tribal leaderships, who either have been alienated by ISIS or have concluded it is a lost cause. Daniel Byman, an American analyst of Islamic extremist movements, told the New York Times yesterday that the Anbar tribes “want a high degree of independence, but they also want to be on the side of the winners.”

10---2016 prediction: US global war to intensify significantly

The record of the US special units, which have emerged as the spearhead of the so-called “war on terror” since 2001, makes clear the murderous nature of the escalating commando war. US Special Forces have been granted a general license to carry out violence and mayhem in every part of the world with total disregard for international law. Thousands of US commandos are already operating in between 85 and 130 countries worldwide, according to varying estimates by US media sources....

The divisions that exist within the US ruling elite and the state over foreign and military policy concern the focus and methods of US efforts to dominate the territory and resources of the world, with the Obama White House arguing for a concentration on the struggle against China and his opponents demanding a larger commitment of troops and weapons to turn the Middle East into a de facto US colony. But there is no “peace faction” within the corporate and political establishment, or either of the two big-business parties.

"At least 130, mostly wounded, rebel fighters left the town of Zabadani for the nearby Lebanese border at the same time as 350 fighters and civilians from pro-government besieged Shi'ite towns in northwestern Syria headed for the Turkish border.
Under the deal, the fighters from the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham group and other local Syrian rebel factions holed up in Zabadani for months have been promised safe passage to Beirut airport and then on to Turkey.....

Zabadani was truly the last bastion of the rebels/jihadis in the Anti-Lebanon.  You can be sure that the Lebanese will make sure these people are all flown to Turkey where their friend Sultan Tayyip will feed them back into the coming meat grinder in Idlib Province. 

12---Turkey continues massive trade in IS oil

13---During his pre-Hawaii presser Obama said something about wanting "more ceasefires" in Syria as part of his master plan.  To say that he and Assad share the same goal in this would be an understatement.  Of course this cease-fire and removal of the rebels (in this case IS rebels) will leave the government in charge of yet another piece of ground.
There are other rebel held pockets in the Damascus environs, pockets that are held by non-IS jihadi rebels.   IMO these will be under even greater pressure with the removal of the people in this IS held pocket.  Look to see more ceasefires with concomitant government recovery of territory and population.  IMO this is yet another example of developing

14---Russian troops to go to Syria??

ISW year's end analysis of operations in Syria.

"The direct intervention of Russia into the Syrian Civil War has shifted battlefield momentum in favor of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since ISW published its last Control of Terrain in Syria Map in mid-September. Russia began its air campaign in Syria on September 30, enabling the regime to mount renewed offensives against opposition-held terrain throughout Western Syria. In Aleppo Province, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and associated proxy forces launched a multipronged offensive on October 15 that has seized large swaths of rebel-held terrain in the southern countryside of Aleppo City, threatening to sever the strategic M5 Highway. Meanwhile, pro-regime forces relieved the besieged Kuweires Airbase in Eastern Aleppo Province on November 10 in a key symbolic victory that positioned the regime to exploit future U.S.-led coalition operations against ISIS along the Syrian-Turkish border. The regime also achieved tactical gains against the opposition in Northeastern Latakia Province and parts of Northern Hama Province as well as the Eastern Ghouta suburbs of Damascus.
The regime nonetheless suffers from chronic shortages of manpower that render it unable to fully capitalize upon the expanded support provided by Russia and Iran. Rebel factions seized the town of Morek in Northern Hama Province on November 5, securing a strategic position directly north of Hama City. Regime forces have also struggled to repel repeated incursions by ISIS into Central Syria despite the presence of Russian airpower. ISIS temporarily severed the vulnerable regime ground line of communication to Aleppo City in October, disrupting ongoing operations in Southern Aleppo Province. ISIS also engaged in back-and-forth battles over the town of Mahin in the Eastern Qalamoun Mountains over the past two months, threatening to disrupt the M5 Highway between Damascus and Homs City. ISIS currently retains its position in Mahin despite the deployment of Russian helicopter gunships to the region."  ISW..

This will not be greeted as a Christmas card by the Obama administration.  The only worrisome thing in this analysis from the POV of the previous opinion of the course of the war here at SST is the business of the supposed "chronic shortage of manpower."  If this analysis is valid then I expect that we will see the direct intervention of Russian ground forces in the next months.  the instances of gains by the rebels that are cited were all passing events that were quickly reversed.  Russia continues to focused on achieving a negotiating position that excludes all jihadi groups from the talks.  I continue to think that in the near future we will see a sudden collapse of rebel activity in NW Syria.  pl 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Today's Links

do you understand why the Obama administration
the United Nations Security Council to embrace a plan for a cease-fire and a peace process that holds the distant prospect of ending the conflict

1--After Fed rate hike, global economic fault lines deepen

2--UN resolution papers over deep divisions on Syria

3--The Saudi Coalition's Attempt to Legitimize Terrorists

4--After Years of War in Syria, U.N. Passes Resolution on Talks

Sarcasm:  But he reacted to the prospect of a Security Council resolution with sarcasm. “I was packing my luggage; I had to leave,” he told a Dutch television station on Thursday. “Now I can stay.”

Still, the resolution, adopted with a 15-to-0 vote, gives the Security Council’s imprimatur to a possible political solution for the first time. ...On paper, the resolution is striking for its ambition. It places the political process to decide Mr. Assad’s future under United Nations auspices, making it far harder for Mr. Assad to control the vote, and specifically requires that all Syrians, “including members of the diaspora,” be allowed to participate in the vote. That language was created in Vienna in November by Mr. Kerry, who is betting that if Syrians around the world can participate in the vote, Mr. Assad will not be able to win....

The resolution abides by an accord known as the Geneva Communiqué, reached three years ago and considered critical by the Western powers, that proposes a transitional government with full executive powers....A cease-fire in Syria poses its own challenges. It is not expected to apply to all parts of the country — certainly not to the vast areas held by the Islamic State — and the idea of sending United Nations-sanctioned observers to monitor it seems almost unthinkable. The resolution gives Secretary General Ban Ki-moon one month to tell the Council how a cease-fire could work and how it could be monitored....

The resolution was a significant victory for Mr. Kerry, who brought together the Saudis, Russians and Iranians in a series of meetings in Vienna and elsewhere over the past three months and force-fed a diplomatic process that many in Washington had believed would never get off the ground....

(Kerry speaks out of both sides of his mouth at the same time:) Mr. Kerry said that the immediate American goal was to defeat the Islamic State, and that military action would be “pushing ahead into the northern Syrian border.” But he also made it clear that the American objective, not shared by Russia or Iran, was to oust Mr. Assad, who Mr. Kerry said had lost the “moral credibility” to govern the country. “If the war is to end, it is imperative that the Syrian people agree on an alternative,” he said...(more lies)  Ultimately, Mr. Kerry envisions a Syria that remains in one piece as the United States and its allies take on the Islamic State, then help guide Syria out of the Assad era

Mr. Kerry told reporters after the Council meeting that steps would have to be taken to form a transitional government within six months. He sharply disputed the notion that the agreement deferred a decision on Mr. Assad’s fate, saying it put a time frame on what needs to happen next. “This is not being kicked down the road; it’s actually being timed out,” he said....

For the first time since the nearly five-year-old Syrian civil war began, world powers agreed on Friday at the United Nations Security Council to embrace a plan for a cease-fire and a peace process that holds the distant prospect of ending the conflict.
A resolution adopted unanimously by the Security Council reflected a monthslong effort by American and Russian officials, who have long been at odds over the future of Syria, to find common national interests to stop the killing, even if they cannot yet agree on Syria’s ultimate future.
But there remain sharp disagreements to be reconciled between the American and Russian positions, and huge uncertainty about what the plan will mean on the ground. A dizzying array of armed forces have left Syria in ruins, killed 250,000 and driven four million refugees out of the country, threatening to destabilize the nations where they are seeking new homes.

“This council is sending a clear message to all concerned that the time is now to stop the killing in Syria and lay the groundwork for a government” that can hold the country together, Secretary of State John Kerry said at the Security Council.

The resolution makes no mention of whether Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, would be able to run in new elections, which it says must be held within 18 months of the beginning of political talks. That process will begin sometime in January at the earliest, Mr. Kerry and his Russian counterpart, Sergey V. Lavrov, conceded. Privately, officials believe it may take significantly longer.
The remaining gap between the Russian and American sides became obvious at the very end of a news conference Friday evening that involved Mr. Kerry and Mr. Lavrov. Mr. Kerry noted that 80 percent of Russian airstrikes were hitting opposition groups fighting Mr. Assad, not the forces of the Islamic State extremist group. Mr. Lavrov shot back that for two and half months, Russia had asked the United States to coordinate military operations

5--Concessions by Kerry in Moscow??
US President Barack Obama has called on his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan to withdraw his country's troops out of Iraq and respect its integrity.
In a telephone call on Friday, Obama "urged President Erdogan to take additional steps to deescalate tensions with Iraq, including by continuing to withdraw Turkish military forces."
He also "reinforced the need for Turkey to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq," the White House said.
A 300-strong contingent of Turkish forces backed by 20 to 25 tanks was stationed on the outskirts of the city of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh Province, on December 4.

IMF recognizes Ukraine’s contested $3bn debt to Russia as sovereign

The executive board of the International Monetary Fund has recognized Ukraine’s $3 billion debt to Russia as official and sovereign – a status Kiev has been attempting to contest. Russia is to sue Ukraine if it fails to pay by the December 20 deadline.

“In the case of the Eurobond, the Russian authorities have represented that this claim is official. The information available regarding the history of the claim supports this representation,” the IMF said in a statement.
Russia asked the IMF for clarification on this issue after Kiev attempted to proclaim the debt was commercial and refused to accept Moscow’s terms for the debt’s restructuring.

US Air Force Begins Withdrawing F-15 Fighter Jets From Turkey

Twelve U.S. Air Force F-15 fighters sent to Incirlik airbase only last month to guard Turkish airspace and hit ISIS targets in Syria were suddenly flown back Wednesday to their home base in Britain, U.S. European Command announced.
Pentagon officials were quick to dismiss suggestions that the removal of the F-15s was related to ongoing tensions between Moscow and Ankara, or the U.S. effort to enlist Russia's support for a political settlement in Syria.
"I wouldn't read that into it, no," said Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman. The F-15s were "expeditionary" and "this was never intended to be an open-ended, in perpetuity deployment," Davis said.
The redeployment of the fighters came amid a flurry of diplomatic and military-to-military activity in the region and with Russia on the campaign against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
A day before the planes left, Secretary of State John Kerry was in Moscow for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin ahead of United Nations Security Council meetings in New York Friday on Syria and U.S. efforts to ease out President Bashar al-Assad.
The fighters -- six F-15C air-to-air combat jets and six F-15E Strike Eagles -- began leaving a day after Defense Secretary Ashton Carter was at Incirlik on a USO holiday tour and met with Turkish officials on the side.

Dec 19--
A White House statement from the  Office of the Press Secratary says:
“The President (of the United States) spoke by phone today with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey to discuss the current dispute between Turkey and Iraq over recent Turkish military moves in northern Iraq. The President urged President Erdogan to take additional steps to deescalate tensions with Iraq, including by continuing to withdraw Turkish military forces, and reinforced the need for Turkey to respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq. To this end, the two leaders agreed to work together on diplomatic efforts between the United States, Turkey, and Iraq to reduce tensions and to coordinate military efforts against ISIL
US urges Turkey to withdraw troops from Iraq

6---US was informed about Turkey’s deployment in Iraq’

will Turkey now pull back all of its military personnel in Iraq? The reply of my security sources in Ankara is crystal clear: “No, we won’t.” ...

According to my source, 100 soldiers have been moved from the Bashiqa camp to a base in Duhok (a province in northern Iraq) named Bamerni. He also adds that the number of the military personnel in Bashiqa is now higher than its previous level, i.e. before the procurement.

Initially, Turkey was planning to send over 40 tanks. Yet only 18 of them were able to arrive at the camp due to Baghdad’s objection. Twenty-two tanks are still waiting at the border.

And here is the question which puzzles us the most: Was the U.S. uninformed about the deployment?

My source underlines that the U.S. was informed about this recruitment in compliance with the mutual military coordination. “Moreover it is impossible to transfer a big military convoy composed of 60-70 vehicles across the border without the U.S. noticing,” he adds. Yet, he says, this move has not been conducted in coordination with the U.S. or in any connection with the anti-ISIL coalition.

An important Turkish official has confirmed this claim by saying “all relevant countries” were informed about the deployment of the troops. This picture indicates that Washington might have taken its supportive stance for Baghdad in an attempt to protect its relations with the Iraqi government.

7---No good news for Turkey

From Moscow, the news for Turkey was not good. Russian President Vladimir Putin chided Turkey and President Tayyip Erdoğan in particular during a Dec. 17 press conference because of the Russian jet downed by a Turkish jet as it crossed to Turkey from Syrian airspace. Challenging Turkey to violate Syrian airspace now protected by brand new Russian S-400 missiles, Putin said he did not expect normalization in relations with the current Turkish leadership unless his conditions, which included an apology, were met.

The news from Washington was not that good either. During a telephone conversation with Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, U.S. Vice President Joe Biden apparently said Turkey should withdraw all “unauthorized” troops from Iraq

Within hours of the Kerry-Lavrov meeting, the following occurred:
As noted Kerry walked back the Assad-must-go mantra, VP Biden suddenly decided -- and demanded -- that Turkey must withdraw its forces from Iraq, the IMF reversed its ruling on the $3 billion that Ukraine owes Russia (now says it's a legitimate debt) and the US withdrew its F15 fighter jets from the Incirlic air base in Turkey.
Anything related to anything else? So far no one's talking.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Today's links

1---Syria's ambassador to the UN has warned that any deployment of foreign troops to his country without the approval of Damascus would amount to a violation of international law.

Bashar al-Jaafari said on Thursday that plans by some countries to dispatch troops to Syria without the consent of the Syrian government and under the so-called pretext of fighting terrorist groups like Daesh would be a gross violation of the UN Charter which gives member states the right of sovereignty.

2---But apart from it being a bad idea to establish a Sunni front in the fight against terrorism, what the Middle East does not need is any new emphasis on the sectarian dimension of the existing turmoil. Why on earth does the U.S. feel obliged to take sides in the sectarian divide within Islam? And why does it praise the leading role of Saudi Arabia, which is currently ISIL’s main human resources pool, and from which many radical movements - from the Wahhabis to al-Qaeda - have emerged?

U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter has praised a new “Saudi-led Islamic anti-terrorism alliance” as being “in line with U.S. calls for a greater Sunni role” in the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). He was speaking during a visit to Turkey’s İncirlik air base on Dec. 15, which came only a day after the Pentagon gave a conceptual briefing about the front to U.S. President Barack Obama. The visit also came just a few days after Carter on Dec. 9 expressed his “wish” that Sunni Arab nations would do more in the fight against ISIL.....

3--Hackers trace ISIS Twitter accounts back to internet addresses linked to Department of Work and Pensions
Hackers have claimed that a number of Islamic State supporters' social media accounts are being run from internet addresses linked to the Department of Work and Pensions.

4--What’s Behind Washington Pulling 12 Fighter Jets From Turkish Base?

5---Saudi Arabia: 92% approve of ISIS representation of Islam and Sharia law – Poll

6---No Islamic military force yet: Turkish Foreign Ministry

“The countries here mentioned have decided on the formation of a military alliance led by Saudi Arabia to fight terrorism, with a joint operations center based in Riyadh to coordinate and support military operations,” the statement said, according to Saudi Arabia’s official news agency SPA.

The Saudi-led alliance does not include the kingdom’s Shiite regional rival Iran, or Syria and Iraq.
States from the Middle East, Africa and Asia will participate in the coalition  Sarin expose

7---Qatar: The terror root??

When it became known that a terrorist act occurred on board of a Russian Airbus A321 over Egypt, the Russian President’s former adviser, Andrei Illarionov expressed a version of this that was apocalyptic and it is that Russia is preparing a strategic operation to strike at military, infrastructure and energy facilities on the territories of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Illarionov states that not only some abstract terrorists from IS or “Al Qaida” will answer for the terrorist act over Egypt, but very specific countries and their authorities, and circumstances command that. There were some versions of the story told by experts that Airbus A321 was blown up through an order that came from Qatar....

Russia has already taken an initiative. A problem needs to be solved at the root, as they say, and the root of evil is a source that is financing Daesh, which is located in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Otherwise, there will be new terrorist acts and provocations

8---US plan to destabilize entire region

The pivot plan is served by toppling assad and transforming Syria into caliphate

If the regime in Syria fails and the country descends into a total chaos, all those jihadists would easily find their way across Turkey to theCaucasus region. This scenario would be a major problem for Russia and also allow other powers, by the proxies or “moderate rebels”, to make a foothold for further operations on Russian soil. This scenario wouldn’t only threaten Russia but Iran as well. If this extremism spreads across Syria and Iraq, Iran would lose its connections to Lebanon and Shia Muslims further west, also the country would find itself surrounded by various jihadists groups from Iraq in the west and Afghanistan in the east.Keep in mind, these groups could find great support in therich Gulf countries. A destabilization of Iran and the Caucasus region would make a great entry point for the famous geostrategic pivot area which includesRussia and Central Asia

Extra:  The Sauds’ “Joint Statement on Formation of Islamic Military Alliance” has been signed by 34 Sunni-led nations, with “more than ten other Islamic countries” that “have expressed their support for this … alliance and will take the necessary measures” to join, “including Indonesia” (the highest-population Islamic-majority nation). All of those “Islamic countries” are specifically Sunni-led, not  Shiite-led.

9---IMF Dithers as Ukraine Defaults on Russia Loan
Contradictory decisions by IMF Executive Board point to a split within the IMF as political crisis in Ukraine deepens

10---Historic New Harpers Article Exposes Who Controls America

“Without the money of the — of the Saudi you will have nothing”; but, even Hillary Clinton, in a much quoted 2009 wikileaked cable telling America’s Ambassadors what to say to the Islamic-nation rulers (quoted from also by Cockburn), mentioned this Saudi problem, when she addressed the issue indirectly to the Sauds, via the U.S. Saudi Ambassador:
While the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) takes seriously the threat of terrorism within Saudi Arabia, it has been an ongoing challenge to persuade Saudi officials to treat terrorist financing emanating from Saudi Arabia as a strategic priority.  Due in part to intense focus by the USG over the last several years, Saudi Arabia has begun to make important progress on this front and has responded to terrorist financing concerns raised by the United States through proactively investigating and detaining financial facilitators of concern.  Still, donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide. … In contrast to its increasingly aggressive efforts to disrupt al-Qa'ida's access to funding from Saudi sources, Riyadh has taken only limited action to disrupt fundraising for the UN 1267-listed Taliban and LeT-groups that are also aligned with al-Qa'ida and focused on undermining stability in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
To boil it all down (which he sadly doesn’t): The fundamentalist-Sunni royal family of the Sauds have bought the highest levels of the U.S. government in order to control U.S. foreign policies, especially the ongoing wars to take down the governments of Iraq, Libya, Syria, and ultimately (they hope) of Russia itself, which latter nation has allied itself instead with Shiia countries. The controlling entities behind American foreign policies since at least the late 1970s have been the Saud family and the Sauds’ subordinate Arabic aristocracies, which are the ones in Qatar (the al-Thanis), Kuwait (the al-Sabahs), Turkey (the Tuktic Erdoğans, a new royalty), and UAE (its six royal families: the main one, the al-Nahyans in Abu Dhabi; the other five: the al-Maktoums in Dubai, al-Qasimis in Sharjah, al-Nuaimis in Ajman, al-Mualla Ums in Quwain, and al-Sharqis in Fujairah). Other Saudi-dominated nations — though they’re not oil-rich (more like Turkey in this regard) — are Pakistan and Afghanistan.

11---A Special Relationship, Andrew Cockburn, Harpers
The United States is teaming up with Al Qaeda, again

12--According to NC: “…there is a great deal of research that shows that highly stratified societies score worse on social indicators like crime rates, average educational attainment, suicides, and teen pregnancies. The US hews to this pattern...Stratified societies have people at every level having low community engagement, thin social network, and for those who are well or very well off, pressure to maintain their economic status, since if they lose that, they lose their social network. They can no longer afford to engage in many of the same activities, they might even have to move into cheaper housing, and the result is that they lose most if not all of their current “friends”. And it’s hard to see how Pew can claim there has been “more progress” when labor force participation is low by historical standards.”

13--Hezbollah undefeated--From Qusayr to Aleppo: the Syrian Army’s 4th Division and Hezbollah remain undefeated

Yes, the west’s nightmare comes to reality: Shi’i, Sunni, and Alawi Muslims fighting together with the Druze, Ismaeli, and Christians against Gulf-backed Islamists.
If you were to say that this heterogeneous force was only made up of Syrians, Lebanese, Iraqis, and Iranians, you would be surprised to see the hundreds of Palestinians from Liwaa al-Quds (Jerusalem Brigade) fighting side-by-side with them.
Regardless of their religious affiliation or ethnic group, these men all share one common goal: victory....

Hezbollah’s infantry is arguably one of the best military units operating inside Syria; and when you amalgamate them with the experienced tank battalions from the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division, they become an omnipotent force on the ground.
In fact, there has not been a battle in this war that the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division and Hezbollah have failed to win together.
From the al-Qusayr battle (May 2013) to the massive Qalamoun Mountain offensive (December 2013 and June 2015), these two forces have proven extremely effective when fighting next to one another.
When Hezbollah was transferred to the southern Aleppo front after their victory at the strategic border-city of al-Zabadani, they were joined by the same soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division that fought side-by-side with them.

14--30 Iraqi soldiers killed by US airstrikes
15--Breaking: Russian Su-24 black box data to be revealed on Monday

16---US military in Syria violate sovereignty, not fighting terror – Damascus
17--Putin's no-fly zone in Syria

18--Ukraine defaults on $3bn Eurobond to Russia
19---Deployment fail: US special ops forces arrive in Libya, immediately told to leave

20--UK troops in yemen?
21--US building airbase in Syria

Abu Hajar airport is located in Hasakah province in northeastern Syria, which is under the control of Kurdish People's Defense Units (YPG). The Syrian government has not given the US permission to have a base in Syria or carry out airstrikes there.
According to media reports, for around two months US experts have been in the region developing the airfield, which hasn't been used since 2010. It has a 2.5 km runway which can be used by fighter jets to carry out airstrikes, and to bring in military supplies

22---What's Up With Turkey's New Military Base in Qatar

Both countries, it's worth noting, are known to be pushing for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Both are also keen supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, and, moreover, both have been accused of directly or indirectly supporting the Daesh (ISIL/ISIL) terrorists in Syria and Iraq. Qatar has allegedly provided the terrorist group with financial support, while Turkey has been implicated in the trafficking of smuggled Daesh 'blood oil'.
Commenting on the news, as well as on Saudi Arabia's announcement, made earlier this week, that it would be creating a 34-member 'Muslim anti-terror coalition', Svobodyana Pressa journalist Anton Mardasov suggested that together, the moves "could be a signal that the main sponsors of international terrorism seriously intend to start a ground operation in Syria and Iraq...

We know perfectly well," Balmasov told Svobodnaya Pressa, "that Russia's relations with Turkey and Qatar are quite difficult – I would say unfriendly. Doha is a serious competitor for us in terms of natural gas, and Qatar is also one of the main sponsors of jihadist terrorism in Syria and beyond. It's also worth remembering that it was on Qatari territory that prominent representatives of Chechen separatists often hid. However, it's clear that the strengthening of military cooperation between Qatar and Turkey is not a message aimed only at Russia."...

"In October, the Americans began actively insisting that Russia had allied itself with the Shiites, in particular, as a partner of the Shiite coalition in Syria (involving the Syrian Alawites, the Iranians, and Hezbollah). Now, we see that through their Saudi and Qatari allies, the Americans are attempting to create some semblance of a Sunni coalition to counterbalance Russian and Iranian influence in the Middle East – in other words, a counter-bloc."
"It's clear," Fenenko suggests, "that the first test of the so-called Sunni bloc's strength was the war in Yemen…Now, this coalition is beginning to take on a more tangible form. I do not believe that the [Saudi-led] coalition will agree to a deployment of troops to Iraq and Syria any time in the near future. Rather, its formation, like the creation of the Turkish base in Qatar, is a card for a game which hasn't started yet. Along with it will be the following steps: attempting to create a cohesive anti-Assad government, the further reduction of oil prices, and the supply of arms to the insurgents (which will allow the Americans to say 'it was the Saudis and Qataris, not us. Take it up with them')."

23---Saudi Arabia and the “war on terror”--US sacrifices all credibility by joining Saudis 

Washington’s real objectives are purely predatory, directed at utilizing military might to offset the economic decline of American capitalism by asserting hegemony over the world’s markets and resources.
That it relies on the ultra-reactionary and bankrupt Saudi regime as a key pillar of this policy only demonstrates that US imperialism is headed for a catastrophe. It is destined to reap all that it has sown in the massive crimes carried out against the peoples of the region, even as the immense contradictions building up within US society create the conditions for a revolutionary explosion....
Speaking to the media during a visit to the giant Incirlik Air Base in Turkey Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter praised the Saudi monarchy for proclaiming a new “Islamic alliance” against terrorism.
“We are happy with the alliance formed by Saudi Arabia and looking forward for the steps being taken by them against terrorism,” Carter declared.
No sooner was the Saudi announcement made, however, than a number of countries raised questions about their inclusion, without their knowledge, in the so-called alliance. Three predominantly Muslim countries—Iraq, Syria and Iran—were excluded, leading to charges that the Saudi monarchy is really only patching together a Sunni Muslim alliance to prosecute its sectarian crusade against the region’s Shia population.
A more fundamental question is what does the Saudi regime mean by “terrorism”? Clearly, it is not referring to the various Al Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria, all of which get substantial funding as well as large numbers of fighters and their religious-ideological inspiration from the Wahhabist Saudi kingdom

23--Thanks, but no thanks: Iraq Declines Offer of U.S. Helicopters for Fight Against ISIS, Pentagon Chief Says

“The United States is prepared to assist the Iraqi Army with additional unique capabilities to help them finish the job, including attack helicopters and accompanying advisers, if circumstances dictate and if requested by Prime Minister Abadi,” Mr. Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee.
The meeting between the American defense secretary and the Iraqi prime minister underscored two factors shaping the American-led campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq: the Obama administration’s reluctance to significantly expand the role of American troops in Iraq, and the reluctance of Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government to accept highly visible forms of American military support in the face of pressure from hard-line Shiite politicians and the Iranians.

It also raised questions about the Obama administration’s plans to intensify its campaign against the Islamic State militants. In recent weeks, the Pentagon has spoken of the “accelerants” it is planning to introduce to hasten the demise of the Islamic State. The Iraqi government, however, has yet to embrace two of the important “accelerants” — the Apaches and the deployment of American advisers in the field.

On December 15th, the Sauds formed their own Sunni-Islamic version of the American aristocracy’s NATO; and, though it shares one existing member with the 28-member NATO military alliance, which is Turkey, the other 34+ nations in it are, like the Sauds’ Kingdom itself, ruled by Wahhabist-Salafist leaders, and are likewise vigorously against both Russia and Shiite-led countries — just as NATO itself also is.

We see Syria fundamentally very similarly”
  • “The U.S. stands ready to work with Russia”
  • “Despite our countries’ differences, we demonstrated that when the United States and Russia pull together in the same direction, progress can be made”
  • “We don’t seek to isolate Russia as a matter of policy”
  • Moreover, Moscow and Washington have found “common ground” on which Syrian opposition groups have the right to participate in peace talks leading to a political transition, Kerry revealed.

    Tuesday, December 15, 2015

    Today's Links

    Today's quote:  "What by the way is so wonderful about being a democracy?  All Western democracies are mass-murderers... The word "democracy" works like political baptism in Western discourse.  Pick a crime any crime and say the West will commit it for democracy and hey presto, the crime becomes a virtue."  Nadya Shah

    Finian Cunningham: "Syria, with the S-300 missile system supplied by its Russian ally, now has the technical means to defend its borders and airspace from all intruders. It also has the legal right to defend the inviolability of its territory. After all, US President Barack Obama invoked this right with regard to Turkey after the shoot-down of the Russian Su-24. Obama said Turkey had “every right to protect its skies”  Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander

    NATO warplanes violating Syrian territory should be put on notice. Keep out or get shot down

    1--This changes everything, Saker

    the Empire’s reckless arrogance has now brought it in direct contact with the Russian Armed Forces which, apparently, are not willing to accept that kind of thuggery and who will fight back if attacked: in his annual address to expanded meeting of the Russian Federation Defense Ministry Board Putin has clearly indicated that the fact that Russia chose not to strike back at Turkey was a one time exception saying:
    I want to warn those who might again try to organize any kind of provocation against our troops: we have taken additional measures to ensure the security of Russian troops and air base. It is reinforced by new air force squadrons and air defenses. All our strike aircraft are now flying with fighter cover. I order you to act with very extreme resolve. Any targets that threaten Russia’s group or our terrestrial infrastructure are to be immediately destroyed.
    What Putin is doing here is warning Turkey and, really all of NATO and the Empire that next time Russia will shoot back, immediately. This also shows that the authority shoot back has now been given to the Russian forces in Syria and that no top-level decision will have to be requested to return fire

    2---Turkish Forces Watch as the Syrian Army Seizes Large Parts of the Border in Northern Latakia
    3--Sarin materials brought via Turkey & mixed in Syrian ISIS camps – Turkish MP to RT

    4--A Wikileaks cable clearly quotes Hillary Clinton, during her time as US secretary of state, stating "donors in Saudi Arabia constitute the most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide … more needs to be done since Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaeda, the Taliban, [Lashkar-e-Taiba] LeT and other terrorist groups."

    5---NOTES--ISIS has been carrying out fairly sophisticated ground maneuvers and attacks that suggest logistical support from some entity that has advanced overhead surveillance capability, excellence communications equipment and agents operating on the ground.....

    the US has developed an entirely new military doctrine that is secret and that they are sticking with regardless of setbacks.
    Aside from the drones, the information manipulation, the new weaponry...there's a new theory about how to fight wars in the future where nonstate actors play the main role of antagonist. 
    The Pentagon wants to rely on proxies (jihadis, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, or even Nato) rather than on US troops in order to assume the flexibility of insurgents.
    In this new type of 4-G warfare, the objectives are paramount, so supporting a group like ISIS is not only acceptable but imperative  if it helps defeat the enemy which is assad and putin....

    That is how I see it..."tripwires everywhere leading to an unforeseeable miscalculation followed by face-saving retaliation, escalation and unintended consequences . 
    I think Putin understands the sequence, but--the thing is--Carter and Co keep pushing the envelope thinking they can goad Putin into doing something rash.
    Well, if you want war, eventually you get war.
    I'm just not sure Carter and Co really know what they want. Their behavior is reflexive, provocative and needlessly reckless. That's a prescription for catastrophe.

    Kesselschlacht (literally, "cauldron battle") is a simulation depicting the encirclement and escape of the German First Panzer Army from the Ukraine in the Spring of 1944. The German forces were very low on fuel and ammunition and had been caught flat-footed by yet another overwhelming Soviet offensive

    6---Putin's Quagmire in Syria Proves Obama Prescient (Bloomberg thinks Putin is losing)

    7---(More right wing rubbish) Putin bogging down in Syria
    Russia's intervention has failed to gain much on the battlefield, raising hopes that diplomacy will make more progress.

    8--US created monsters: Zetas and Kaibiles death squads  2008

    "I am concerned about the growing death squads that have direct ties to the US military and how they commit egregious crimes against humanity, especially to women and girls. What has happened in Africa, is unfolding in Mexico rapidly and heading our way."....

    The death squads of the Zetas, trained at the US School of the Americas, are now carrying out murders for Mexican drug cartels and hired as killers in Iraq. The Kaibiles, Guatemalan death squads trained by US Special Forces, are now responsible for murders and rapes in the Congo and around the world. In Mexico, US trained death squads attack and murder Indigenous Peoples, including the Zapatistas, struggling for dignity, autonomy and survival. The United States training of death squads and torturers is one of the most censored issues in the media.

    Urging news reporters to report the facts, reader Swaneagle writes, "The following is critical under-reported urgent news. Zetas are mutinous Mexican army troops who graduated from School of the Americas. Hired by the cartels, they are directly responsible for an astounding rise in brutal, grisly killings, including many of the murders of women in Juarez, which are up to 75 this year.
    "Zetas have also been hired as mercenaries in Iraq. The spread of the SOA template must be halted." Swaneagle adds, "I wonder how many follow the pattern of child soldiers in Africa."

    9--Did Members of the US-Led Coalition Carry Out an Air Strike to Help ISIS? Russia Implies They Did
    Russian statement appears to implicate aircraft from two member states of the US led coalition in the air strike on the Syrian military base in Deir az-Zor

    10--Tom Friedman: Hey, Massive Bombing Was MY Idea!

    11--McCain calls for invasion

    Proposals for no-fly zones above Syria, militarized “safe zones” on the ground, stepped up covert operations by US commandos, focused on targeted killings and the mobilization of ethnic death squads and proxy militias, found universal support among the assembled senators and military leaders.
    In a familiar pattern, the Pentagon had already begun implementing provocative escalatory moves prior to the “oversight” hearing. US forces are engaged in ongoing operations aimed at massing new military assets along the Jordanian border, Secretary Carter revealed in the course of the hearing.....

    McCain called for the US military to lead a large invasion force, backed by tens of thousands of troops drawn from allied governments and local forces, in a drive to seize control of the ISIS-held city of Raqqa and broader areas of northern Syria.
    The ground campaign should be followed by a “long-term stabilization effort” based on a US “residual force,” McCain said. .....

    In Syria, US commandos are preparing to orchestrate an offensive against Raqqa by US proxy forces, including Sunni and Kurdish elements, with the aim of “collapsing ISIS control over the city,” Carter said. .....

    The Pentagon is standing by to extend other forms of assistance to the Iraqi army, once Baghdad “resolves its political divisions,” Carter said.
    The US military is “urging Iraqi government to recruit, train, mobilize and pay, Sunni popular mobilization fighters in their communities,” he said.
    If the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi toes the US line, supporting Washington’s efforts to develop Sunni militias as bulwarks against Iranian influence, it can expect new forms of US aid, including new helicopter gunship squadrons, complete with US pilots and advisors to organize their deployment. Abadi should embrace a “decentralized Iraq” in which a patchwork of “ethnic elements” would exercise effective independence within their own areas, Carter said.

    Carter made clear that US forces will use Iraq’s territory in part as a staging area for anti-Iranian machinations.
    “On the military side, we are continuing unchanged in the need to deter and counter Iranian malign influence,” he said.
    Carter reiterated his recent announcement that the US is deploying a “specialized expeditionary targeting force” for covert operations in both Iraq and Syria. The expeditionary forces will focus on manhunting operations and will train Iraqi commandos to carry out similar operations, Carter said...

    During the question and answer portion, Carter made clear that the Pentagon has issued itself a legal carte blanche to carry out whatever operations it sees fit in the name of the “war against ISIS.”

    Asked whether the US military required an updated Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) to carry out the plans he outlined, Carter replied, “I’ll just note with respect to the AUMF, that we have--I’m not a lawyer but I’m told, and I’m glad, otherwise it would be a problem--we have the legal authority to do what we want to do.”
    In other words, Secretary Carter “has been told” by the Pentagon’s legal team that his office wields limitless authority to seize and occupy territory at will, carry out black operations anywhere on earth, employ carpet bombing against civilian infrastructure, etc.

    12--Junk bond crisis brings “stress” warning

    13--Junk bond panic signals new stage in crisis of world capitalism

    Corporations with bad credit, however, enjoyed voracious demand for their bonds. They borrowed hand over fist, especially energy and other commodity extracting companies seeking to take advantage of $100 a barrel oil prices and ever-rising demand from China and the emerging market countries. They and the rest of the corporate world used their vast hoards of cash not to invest in production, but to further enrich the CEOs and billionaire investors by indulging in dividend increases, stock buybacks and a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions.....

    This is merely the tip of the iceberg. Standard & Poor’s Rating Service recently warned that 50 percent of energy junk bonds could default, along with 72 percent of bonds in the metals, mining and steel industries. Distressed debt in the US is at its highest level since the official end of the recession in June of 2009. ...
    High-yield bond assets at US mutual funds hit $305 billion in June 2014, triple their level in 2009. Outstanding debt in the US junk bond market has soared to more than $1.2 trillion from less than $700 billion in 2007—an increase of 71 percent.

    Prices of high-risk securities fell to levels not seen in six years—in the aftermath of the 2008 Wall Street crash. The yields on these low-rated bonds, which move in the opposite direction of price, continued to soar, as did the cost of credit default swaps purchased to hedge against bond defaults.

    Further roiling the markets was the prospect of the Federal Reserve raising interest rates for the first time in nearly a decade when it meets this week. Even though Fed Chair Janet Yellen has repeatedly assured the markets that any increase will be small and rates will remain well below normal for an indefinite period, any increase will tend to further depress junk bond prices.
    Jeffrey Gundlach, head of the Doubleline Total Return Bond Fund, expressed the fears on Wall Street, declaring, “We’re talking about raising interest rates with the credit markets in corporate credit absolutely tanking. They’re falling apart.”

    14-NATO Is Going for Bust in Syria-

    Which brings us back to the downing of the Su-24. Venturing one step further, Russian expert Alexei Leonkov maintains that not only did NATO follow the whole operation with an AWACS, but another AWACS from Saudi Arabia actually guided the Turkish F-16s.

    The F-16s are incapable of launching air-to-air missiles without guidance from AWACS. Both Russian and Syrian data – which can be independently verified – place the American and the Saudi AWACS in the area at the time. And to top it off, the detailed US-Turkey deal on the F-16s stipulates permission is mandatory for deploying the jets against a third country.
    All this suggests an extremely serious possibility; a direct NATO-GCC op against Russia, which may be further clarified by the Su-24’s recovered black box.

    It’s not legal but we don’t care
    NATO’s Syria intervention is of course absolutely illegal.
    UN Security Council resolution 2249 does not fall under Chapter 7 of the UN charter. Yet once again creative language – French-style rhetorical artifice - blurs the non-justification of military might by conveying the impression the UNSC approves it.

    15---As the Neocons Fume Putin and Merkel Forge Ahead With Nord Stream II
    Tripartite talks between Putin, Merkel and EU's Juncker intended to secure Nord Stream II despite US opposition

    16--A Special Relationship: The US Is Teaming up With Al Qaeda, Again

    By the beginning of 2012, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey, and the United States were all heavily involved in supporting the armed rebellion against Assad. ....
    The Qataris were not at all discriminating in who they gave arms to,” the former White House official told me. “They were just dumping stuff to lucky recipients.” Chief among the lucky ones were Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, both of which had benefited from a rebranding strategy instituted by Osama bin Laden. ...
    The rebranding program was paradoxically assisted by the rise of the Islamic State, a group that had split off from the Al Qaeda organization partly in disagreement over the image-softening exercise enjoined by Zawahiri...

    The Saudis preferred to work through us,” explained the former White House official. “They didn’t have an autonomous capability to find weapons. We were the intermediaries, with some control over the distribution....

    A few months before the Idlib offensive, a member of one CIA-backed group had explained the true nature of its relationship to the Al Qaeda franchise. Nusra, he told the New York Times, allowed militias vetted by the United States to appear independent, so that they would continue to receive American supplies. When I asked a former White House official involved in Syria policy if this was not a de facto alliance, he put it this way: “I would not say that Al Qaeda is our ally, but a turnover of weapons is probably unavoidable. I’m fatalistic about that. It’s going to happen.”

    Earlier in the Syrian war, U.S. officials had at least maintained the pretense that weapons were being funneled only to so-called moderate opposition groups. But in 2014, in a speech at Harvard, Vice President Joe Biden confirmed that we were arming extremists once again, although he was careful to pin the blame on America’s allies in the region, whom he denounced as “our largest problem in Syria.” In response to a student’s question, he volunteered that our allies were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens, thousands of tons of weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad. Except that the people who were being supplied were al-Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world......

    The Syrian opposition seemed like an ideal candidate for such assistance, especially since Assad had been in the U.S. crosshairs for some time. (The country’s first and only democratically elected government was overthrown by a CIA-instigated coup in 1949 at the behest of American oil interests irked at Syria’s request for better terms on a pipeline deal.) In December 2006, William Roebuck, the political counselor at the American Embassy in Damascus, sent a classified cable to Washington, later released by WikiLeaks, proposing “actions, statements, and signals” that could help destabilize Assad’s regime. Among other recommended initiatives was a campaign, coordinated with the Egyptian and Saudi governments, to pump up existing alarm among Syrian Sunnis about Iranian influence in the country.

    17--Carter US defense chief seeks more Turkish help against ISIL

    18---Syria Right to Hit NATO Warplanes, Finian Cunningham

    Translated from Arabic language Alrai Media (thanks to the reliable Fort Russ Russian news site), the senior Syrian officer at the operations room is quoted as saying: “Soon Syria will announce that any country using the airspace without coordinating with Damascus will be viewed as hostile and [we] will shoot the jet down without warning. Those willing to fight terrorism and coordinate with the military leadership will be granted safe corridors.”...

    Russia is the only country whose military aircraft are legally deployed in Syria because Moscow has the full consent of the Syrian government. All the others do not have consent from Damascus.
    So we have at least seven foreign powers deploying their warplanes to bomb Syrian territory – all in violation of international law....

    Syria, with the S-300 missile system supplied by its Russian ally, now has the technical means to defend its borders and airspace from all intruders. It also has the legal right to defend the inviolability of its territory. After all, US President Barack Obama invoked this right with regard to Turkey after the shoot-down of the Russian Su-24. Obama said Turkey had “every right to protect its skies” (even though the evidence shows that the Russian fighter jet did not breach Turkish territory).
    In other words: what’s good for Turkey is good for Syria, as for any other nation....

    But either way, the imperative here is that Syria re-establishes its sovereignty and the principles of international law. If Syria is lost, then Western state sponsored banditry and terrorism will only escalate. Russia is already being targeted by the West’s asymmetric warfare, as is Iran and China.
    Therefore, a line has to be drawn. And with Russia’s military support, Syria has the power to do just that. From now on, NATO warplanes violating Syrian territory should be put on notice. Keep out or get shot down

    19--Saker:  The western narrative currently tries to show that it is Russia (and only Russia) which is keeping Assad in power. But this is completely false. The reality is that both Hezbollah and Iran are fully committed to preventing Daesh from overthrowing the Syrian government and their commitment has gone way further than words: Hezbollah has send hundreds of its best fighters to Syria and Iran has committed thousands of soldiers, mostly of the al-Quds Brigade, to the war in Syria. What this level of determination shows is that, just like Russia, Iran and Hezbollah have concluded that their vital, existential, interests are at risk and that they have no choice than to take the fight to Daesh. I believe that this assessment is absolutely correct.

    So this is the key question here: do the deep state elites which run the US Empire understand that neither Russia, nor Iran or Hezbollah believe that they can back down and accept a Daesh victory in Syria? Do the western leader realize that Russia, Iran and Hezbollah cannot let the Empire overthrow Assad? Is there anybody out there who does not realize that the “Assad must go policy” implies a war against Russia, Iran and Hezbollah? The only way to avoid a war is to finally give up, even if that is initially denied publicly, on the “Assad must go” policy.