Friday, August 14, 2015

Today's Links





Quote Bashar al Assad:
What they want is to keep this monster in check and not eliminate it. All their military, political and media campaigns are in fact smoke screens, and what the West has done so far has led to a growth of terrorism instead of eliminating it, and this is confirmed by reality, not personal analysis, as terrorism has spread geographically, its material resources have increased, and its manpower has doubled.
I think that Moscow, at its heart, accepted as positive fact the end of Assad’s regime and is trying to save all that may be saved after the collapse,” chairman of the Islamic Committee of Russia Geydar Dzhemal told Voice of America.


1--Jeb Bush won’t rule out torture tactics, says they’re effective


He said that “taking out Saddam Hussein turned out to be a pretty good deal,” referring to the dictator’s execution, according to Bloomberg...He criticized President Obama and his former secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, for what’s happened in the region since his brother left office.
We declared success and then chaos occurred afterwards,” he said.


2--Russia hosts Syrian opposition to promote broad anti-ISIS coalition efforts


According to Max Abrahms, a professor at the Department of Political Science at the Northeastern University a broad coalition that would unite the world against ISIS isn’t likely.


“We wouldn’t even be talking about Islamic State if, after… the Sunnis, the Shia, the Americans, the Russians, the Brits, you know, we all got together and fought against this group, but it really hasn’t worked that way,” he told RT, adding that due to differences on Assad, and American intentions to remove him, the Sunni states being “extraordinarily unhelpful in terms of providing ground forces” in reality, Shia fighters in Iraq have been “doing most of the heavy work there, and the Shia militia coupled with the Syrian army doing most of the heavy lifting against Islamic State in Syria.”


Abrahms disagrees that toppling Assad is the way to solve the crisis in the region, saying that the likely alternative is “probably even worse.”
“We saw what happened with regime change in Iraq and Libya. Those governments were deposed. And what happened? The terrorists took over.


3--Low Oil Prices Destroy Financial Power of Saudi Arabia


4--"Russia posed the greatest security threat to the United States" says chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff


The outgoing US Army chief of staff, General Ray Odierno, said Wednesday that Russia is the top military threat to the United States. He said the US had to increase its ability to move quickly to the region if needed, and increase interoperability with other NATO forces......


US General Joseph Dunford, the nominee to become the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also told Congress last month that Russia posed the greatest security threat to the United States.
"My assessment today… is that Russia presents the greatest threat to our national security," said Dunford, who is the current commander of the Marine Corps.


5--Erdogan or Turkey?


we know that topics like democracy and the law really interest Turkey and its citizens. Not Erdoğan. It doesn't matter if Turkey is turned into an inferno; Erdoğan's set of interests does not change. Arbitrary raids on schools and nurseries take place. Orders to arrest prosecutors are made. Binding decisions from the Constitutional Court become unrecognizable and are not implemented in the way they should be. And all the while, pro-government writers continue to issue threats and insults in their columns, whenever and however they wish.


News comes in every day about more deaths around the country. People are worried and tense. Some fear heading out into the streets. When it comes to the economy, alarm bells are blaring; the economy has ground to a virtual halt in the East and Southeast. But none of this seems to unsettle Erdoğan and his close circles; no one is losing any sleep in Ankara because, in their eyes, the general direction things are taking in Turkey is ultimately going to bring the AKP back to single-handed power.

So the question we need to ask ourselves during these difficult times is: Erdoğan or Turkey


6--Iran-authored Syria plan en route to UN


senior Iranian Foreign Ministry official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that his country has a four-step plan for Syria. The plan was presented to Turkey, Qatar and Egypt, then other member states of the UN, and has seen some amendments. “It’s still feasible,” the official said.
When it was presented, the proposal’s four steps were: Secure an immediate cease-fire, create a national unity government, rewrite Syria’s constitution to include the majority of Syrian ethnic groups and hold national elections under international supervision.


The Iranian official explained that the plan is under serious consideration by Syria and countries involved in the Syrian crisis and that an updated version will be sent to the UN secretary-general. The main aim is finding an exit strategy from the crisis.
“At the outset of the civil protests, Iran invited the Syrian authorities to show restraint and nonuse of military forces to control the domestic unrest.”...


Iran believes the major powers have committed strategic mistakes in their war on terror since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States. According to the senior Iranian official, “The only real way to suppress IS and other extremist groups is stopping the flow of money, weapons and jihadists to the region.”...
Since the announcement of the Iran deal with the major world powers, Iran has been trying to approach the Arab world in a temperate manner. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has taken several phone calls with different regional leaders, while Zarif visited Kuwait, Iraq and Qatar

7---Did The Saudis And The US Collude In Dropping Oil Prices?


Punishing Assad and friends
Proponents of this theory point to a Sept. 11 meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, it was during that meeting that a deal was hammered out between Kerry and Abdullah. In it, the Saudis would support Syrian airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIS), in exchange for Washington backing the Saudis in toppling Assad.


If in fact a deal was struck, it would make sense, considering the long-simmering rivalry between Saudi Arabia and its chief rival in the region: Iran. By opposing Syria, Abdullah grabs the opportunity to strike a blow against Iran, which he sees as a powerful regional rival due to its nuclear ambitions, its support for militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and its alliance with Syria, which it provides with weapons and funding. The two nations are also divided by religion, with the majority of Saudis following the Sunni version of Islam, and most Iranians considering themselves Shi’ites.


“The conflict is now a full-blown proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is playing out across the region,” Reuters reported on Dec. 15. “Both sides increasingly see their rivalry as a winner-take-all conflict: if the Shi’ite Hezbollah gains an upper hand in Lebanon, then the Sunnis of Lebanon—and by extension, their Saudi patrons—lose a round to Iran. If a Shi’ite-led government solidifies its control of Iraq, then Iran will have won another round.”....


Some commentators have offered a more conspiratorial theory for the Saudis wanting to get rid of Assad. They point to a 2011 agreement between Syria, Iran and Iraq that would see a pipeline running from the Iranian Port Assalouyeh to Damascus via Iraq. The $10-billion project would take three years to complete and would be fed gas from the South Pars gas field, which Iran shares with Qatar. Iranian officials have said they plan to extend the pipeline to the Mediterranean to supply gas to Europe – in competition with Qatar, the world's largest LNG exporter.


“The Iran-Iraq-Syria pipeline – if it’s ever built – would solidify a predominantly Shi’ite axis through an economic, steel umbilical cord,” wrote Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar.


Global Research, a Canada-based think tank, goes further to suggest that Assad's refusal in 2009 to allow Qatar to construct a gas pipeline from its North Field through Syria and on to Turkey and the EU, combined with the 2011 pipeline deal, “ignited the full-scale Saudi and Qatari assault on Assad’s power.”


“Today the US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal,” Global Research wrote in an Oct. 26 post


8--Quote Bashar al Assad:


On humanitarian intervention
Let them permit the opposition in their countries to bear arms and kill and destroy and keep calling them opposition, or permit them to become proxies or let other states decide what is the ruling system for them should be, then we will believe and accept their old recipes that have always been used to justify an aggression or interference in states’ affairs under humanitarian slogans like human rights, freedom, democracy, and so on.
On the West’s relationship with militant Islamists
What they want is to keep this monster in check and not eliminate it. All their military, political and media campaigns are in fact smoke screens, and what the West has done so far has led to a growth of terrorism instead of eliminating it, and this is confirmed by reality, not personal analysis, as terrorism has spread geographically, its material resources have increased, and its manpower has doubled.
9--Danger mounts of US/NATO war with Russia


The ELN report reinforces the warnings the World Socialist Web Site has been making since the crisis in Ukraine erupted in February 2014 with the US-backed political coup in Kiev, ousting the pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, and installing a far-right, ultranationalist regime subservient to Washington and the European Union. The objective logic of this crisis leads inexorably to a military confrontation between the two main nuclear-armed powers, the United States and Russia, with catastrophic implications for all humanity....


Since then it has become apparent that the US and EU are manipulating the Ukraine crisis to create the conditions where Russia itself can be dismembered and its people, territory and resources parceled out among the imperialist powers. This is the long-term strategic purpose of the imperialist campaign of economic sanctions and diplomatic provocations, backed by military force.


The campaign against Russia is only one component of the increasingly militaristic perspective of American imperialism. As President Obama himself admitted last week, there is a powerful faction in Washington that is vociferously pushing for war with Iran. Obama has only tactical differences, preferring to test whether the Iranian regime can be brought over to the US side in the coming global conflicts with Russia and China ...


The danger of a new world war arises out of the fundamental contradictions of the capitalist system—between the development of a global economy and its division into antagonistic nation states, in which the private ownership of the means of production is rooted. This finds its most acute expression in the drive of US imperialism to dominate the Eurasian landmass, above all those areas from which it was excluded for decades by the Russian and Chinese revolutions.”


10--Homicides in Mexico:   The U.S. Role


The involvement of the Mexican government in the crime itself, or at least in creating the climate that led to the crime and failing to prevent it, raises serious questions for U.S. policymakers as well. The watchdog organization Article 19 reports that nearly half of the aggressions against journalists registered were carried out by state agents.
Since 2008, the U.S. government — through the Merida Initiative and other sources — has provided some $3 billion to the Mexican government for the war on drugs. This is a period when attacks on human rights defenders and journalists have skyrocketed, and more than 100,000 people have been killed by criminals and security forces alike.


A fraction of that money has gone to mechanisms for protection that have so far proved worthless. Rather than helping, this serves to support the false idea that the Mexican state is the good guy in a war on organized crime. The cases of corruption, complicity, and abuse that pile up week by week have demolished this premise.


Supporting abusive governments and security forces while claiming to support the journalists and human rights defenders being attacked by them is like pretending to help the fox while arming the hunter — it just prolongs the hunt. Mexican citizens who speak up are being hunted, too often by their own government. It’s time the U.S. government came to grips with that and immediately suspended the Merida Initiative.


11--Major powers intensify diplomatic maneuvering over fate of Assad regime
By Thomas Gaist
14 August 2015

In talks with the Syrian National Council leadership Thursday, Lavrov declared that Russia is prepared to back a political coalition that could include elements of the Syrian opposition, as well as Kurdish forces and other elements of the Syrian and Iraqi militaries.... 
During talks this week with Saudi Arabia and the Syrian opposition, Russian officials called for a political deal to lay the basis for the stabilization of Syria, proposing the formation of a new national unity government involving elements of the Assad regime, the Syrian opposition, and Kurdish and Iraqi forces.
“The talks focused on coordinating all those who are already fighting terrorists so that they put their main focus on fighting terrorism and leave for later settling scores between themselves,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in public remarks after discussions with the Saudi leadership.
Russia’s intervention would aim to “help all Syrians unite over the core task of preserving their country, ensuring stability and preventing it from becoming a hotbed of terrorism and other threats,” Lavrov said.
“We agreed to continue thinking about steps that should be taken to create a suitable environment to resume dialogue between the Syrian government and all other Syrian groups,” Lavrov said, referring to discussions with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir earlier this week...


Reports emerged Thursday of several truces brokered by Tehran during direct talks with one of the most influential al Qaeda-linked factions in Syria, known as Ahrar Al-Sham.
The cease-fire terms include 48-hour pauses in fighting in the Damascus suburb of Zabadani and in two towns in the northern province of Idlib, Fuaa and Kafraya. The initial truce agreements may become the basis for a longer-term deal to end hostilities in larger areas of the country, according to Iranian officials....


As talks proceed, developments on the ground are underscoring that any diplomatic settlement over Syria will be implemented through a militarized carve-up of the country, spearheaded by the Pentagon and its regional partners and proxy forces.
As part of a deal reached in July between Ankara and Washington, Turkish President and Justice and Development Party (AKP) government leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan gained US backing for the imposition of a militarized “buffer zone” encompassing hundreds of square miles in northern Syria.
 The new zone would be occupied by Syrian opposition fighters and reinforced by the US and Turkish air forces, with US forces having been cleared to operate from Turkish bases as part of the agreement.
Once established, the military zone would serve as a staging area for US-backed rebel forces fighting against the Assad government.
Despite their public confidence in Putin’s readiness to accept a deal, the Turkish government is clearly preparing its own large-scale military intervention into areas of northern Syria.


12--China devaluation fuels market turmoil


The motivations behind the decision of Chinese authorities to devalue are based on a complex of factors. There is no question that a significant issue is the attempt to provide a boost to exports following the downward trend in recent months—exports contracted by 8.3 percent for the month of July—and to ease the pressure on Chinese companies caused by the rise in the value of the renminbi. This year, the Chinese currency has increased by more than 10 percent as it followed the upward trend in the value of the US dollar.


Another factor is the government’s efforts to have the renminbi included in a basket of currencies used by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to set the value of its special drawing rights. But one of the conditions for such inclusion, which would strengthen the international role of the renminbi, is that its value be determined by market forces rather than by regulation.


To that end, the People’s Bank of China sought to present the devaluation as a move to increase the influence of the market. Announcing the decision, it said that henceforth the mid-point of the 2 percent band within which the currency can move on any single day would be the lowest point it had reached during the previous day’s trading. In addition, the daily starting rate would be set in line with “demand and supply conditions in foreign exchange markets and the movement of major currencies.”
The IMF is generally thought to be on board with a move to include the renminbi as a global reserve currency, but the final decision will not be made until later this year and will require support from the United States


13---General Raymond Odierno, who served as the top US commander in Iraq from 2008 to 2010, said Wednesday that partitioning the country "is something that could happen" and "might be the only solution, but I'm not ready to say that yet."


14--The Incirlik deal  Turkey is totally in charge


This is what Turkey wants for Incirlik:
  • Turkey wants to open Incirlik not only to US warplanes but also to the aircraft of anti-IS NATO members France, the United Kingdom, Belgium and Canada. What Turkey wants to accomplish here is to affix NATO legitimacy to the operation by reinforcing the perception that operations against IS targets in Syria are part of a NATO mission. Turkey wants to open the operational use of Incirlik to NATO and not confine it to the United States.

  • Turkey insists that operations, flight routes and targets should be decided collectively by the coordination cell, but subject to Turkey’s final approval. This means decisions made at Incirlik must be conveyed to Ankara immediately. The coordination center in Ankara must be kept informed of all operations and flights in real time with Incirlik.
  • Ankara is trying to insert a clause that gives it the authority to send back the coalition planes in case of contravention of the agreement.
.... The emerging concept is coordinated planning of Turkish air operations against the PKK in Iraq and US attacks against IS. The United States and Turkey would know all the details of each other’s operations in Iraq, but not interfere with each other.


15---http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-07-30/real-story-behind-turkeys-us-backed-war-terror


a recent speech by Supreme Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei indicates:

 "We will not abandon our regional friends: the oppressed people of Palestine, the oppressed people of Yemen, the people and government of Syria, the people and government of Iraq, and the sincere mujahids of the Resistance in Lebanon and Palestine. These people will always enjoy our support.... our policy towards the arrogant government of America will not change in any way despite these negotiations and the document that has been prepared.(The nuclear deal).... As we have said many times, we have no negotiations with America on different global and regional issues. We have no bilateral negotiations with America.....The American policies in the region are 180 degrees the opposite of the policies of the Islamic Republic.....

http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-in-turkish-stream-talks-with-russia-minister-----.aspx?pageID=238&nID=86418&NewsCatID=348
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/08/04/syri-a04.html


16--Another Conspiracy Theory Becomes Fact: The Entire Oil Collapse Is All About Crushing Russian Control Over Syria


the pound of flesh demanded by Saudi Arabia to "bless" US airstrikes .. is the removal of the Assad regime. Why? So that the holdings of the great Qatar natural gas fields can finally make their way onward to Europe, which incidentally is also America's desire - What better way to punish Putin for his recent actions than by crushing the main leverage the Kremlin has over Europe?...


... while we understand if Saudi Arabia is employing a dumping strategy to punish the Kremlin as per the "deal" with Obama's White House, very soon there will be a very vocal, very insolvent and very domestic shale community demanding answers from the Obama administration, as once again the "costs" meant to punish Russia end up crippling the only truly viable industry under the current presidency....


Saudi Arabia has been trying to pressure President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia to abandon his support for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, using its dominance of the global oil markets at a time when the Russian government is reeling from the effects of plummeting oil prices."
From the NYT:
Saudi Arabia and Russia have had numerous discussions over the past several months that have yet to produce a significant breakthrough, according to American and Saudi officials. It is unclear how explicitly Saudi officials have linked oil to the issue of Syria during the talks, but Saudi officials say — and they have told the United States — that they think they have some leverage over Mr. Putin because of their ability to reduce the supply of oil and possibly drive up prices."
As we predicted, correctly, in September: it was all about Syria:
“If oil can serve to bring peace in Syria, I don’t see how Saudi Arabia would back away from trying to reach a deal,” a Saudi diplomat said. An array of diplomatic, intelligence and political officials from the United States and Middle East spoke on the condition of anonymity to adhere to protocols of diplomacy.
So what would it take for the price of oil to finally jump? Not much: Putin's announcement that Syria's leader Bashar is no longer a strategic ally of Russia.
Any weakening of Russian support for Mr. Assad could be one of the first signs that the recent tumult in the oil market is having an impact on global statecraft. Saudi officials have said publicly that the price of oil reflects only global supply and demand, and they have insisted that Saudi Arabia will not let geopolitics drive its economic agenda. But they believe that there could be ancillary diplomatic benefits to the country’s current strategy of allowing oil prices to stay low — including a chance to negotiate an exit for Mr. Assad.
...
Actually that's not it: Syria, as we have been explaining for nearly two years is the critical transit zone of a proposed natural gas pipeline, originating in Qatar, and one which would terminate somewhere in central Europe. The same Qatar which was the "mystery sponsor of weapons and money to Syrian mercenary rebels" who eventually became ISIS. The same Qatar which is now directly funding ISIS. Of course, if Putin were to handover Syria to the Saudi princes (and to Qatar), he would effectively shoot himself in the foot by ending any leverage Gazprom has over Europe....


And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what the great oil collapse of 2014/2015 is all about. 


17--Saudi Oil Is Seen as Lever to Pry Russian Support From Syria’s Assad
http://bigstory.ap.org/article/d77afd3c34614232b9cbf07e1c693457/iran-nuclear-deal-opens-diplomatic-channels-Syria


18--Oil price collusion?


Proponents of this theory point to a Sept. 11 meeting between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, it was during that meeting that a deal was hammered out between Kerry and Abdullah. In it, the Saudis would support Syrian airstrikes against Islamic State (ISIS), in exchange for Washington backing the Saudis in toppling Assad.
If in fact a deal was struck, it would make sense, considering the long-simmering rivalry between Saudi Arabia and its chief rival in the region: Iran. By opposing Syria, Abdullah grabs the opportunity to strike a blow against Iran, which he sees as a powerful regional rival due to its nuclear ambitions, its support for militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah, and its alliance with Syria, which it provides with weapons and funding. The two nations are also divided by religion, with the majority of Saudis following the Sunni version of Islam, and most Iranians considering themselves Shi’ites.
“The conflict is now a full-blown proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia, which is playing out across the region,” Reuters reported on Dec. 15. “Both sides increasingly see their rivalry as a winner-take-all conflict: if the Shi’ite Hezbollah gains an upper hand in Lebanon, then the Sunnis of Lebanon—and by extension, their Saudi patrons—lose a round to Iran. If a Shi’ite-led government solidifies its control of Iraq, then Iran will have won another round.”




Global Research, a Canada-based think tank, goes further to suggest that Assad's refusal in 2009 to allow Qatar to construct a gas pipeline from its North Field through Syria and on to Turkey and the EU, combined with the 2011 pipeline deal, “ignited the full-scale Saudi and Qatari assault on Assad’s power.”
“Today the US-backed wars in Ukraine and in Syria are but two fronts in the same strategic war to cripple Russia and China and to rupture any Eurasian counter-pole to a US-controlled New World Order. In each, control of energy pipelines, this time primarily of natural gas pipelines—from Russia to the EU via Ukraine and from Iran and Syria to the EU via Syria—is the strategic goal,” Global Research wrote in an Oct. 26 post.


Poking the Russian bear
How does Russia play into the oil price drop? As a key ally of Syria, supplying Assad with billions in weaponry, President Vladimir Putin has, along with Iran, found himself targeted by the House of Saud. Putin's territorial ambitions in the Ukraine have also put him at odds with US President Barack Obama and leaders of the EU, which in May of this year imposed a set of sanctions on Russia.
As has been noted, Saudi Arabia's manipulation of the oil price has twice targeted Russia. This time, the effects of a low price have hit Moscow especially hard due to sanctions already in place combined with the low ruble. Last week, in an effort to defend its currency, the Bank of Russia raised interest rates to 17 percent. The measure failed, with the ruble dropping another 20 percent, leading to speculation the country could impose capital controls. Meanwhile, Putin took the opportunity in his annual televised address to announce that while the economy is likely to suffer for the next two years and that Russians should brace for a recession, “Our economy will get diversified and oil prices will go back up.”
.




No comments:

Post a Comment