Friday, October 30, 2015

Today's Links

1---Claims That Russian Airstrikes Are Not ISIL-Targeted Are Misinforming

Should we believe that militants from the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra, and Jaish al-Fatah, who equally enjoy cutting the throats of their prisoners, are also 'opposition', albeit a bit less moderate? We are waiting for Mr. Stevens' reply," he went on to say.
2--Unsubstantiated US State Department claims that Russian airstrikes had struck hospitals have been rejected by Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Red Cross.

Medical staff from Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) have made no claims that their hospitals were struck by Russian air strikes, the organization's head of emergency care told Sputnik on Thursday.
3--Berlin is ready to restore its relationship with Russia, clearly understanding that it would “create friction” with Washington, which, in turn, will use all its influence over Eastern European states to restrain the rapprochement of the two. But for now, Germany is only “testing the waters” before its final decision, according to Stratfor...

“Lifting sanctions against Russia could damage Germany's relationship with the United States and also force the White House to increase its economic and military cooperation with former Communist states, from Poland to Romania. This would, in turn, deepen the European Union's already serious political fragmentation

4--Russia summons US, Saudi and NATO Envoys to Explain Accusations of Russian Airstrikes against Civilians in Syria
5---U.S. Stopped Syria Air Strikes While Nusra And IS Prepared Attack On Government Supply Route
During the last days a large attack on the Syrian government supply line to Aleppo city was carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra (aka al-Qaeda in Syria) and the Islamic State seemingly in coordination with the U.S. military......

The total cessation of U.S. air attacks on east Syria allowed the Islamic State to move hundreds of fighters and heavy equipment like tanks and cannons from its stronghold in Raqqa city to the west of Syria. At the same time Jabhat al-Nusra brought hundreds of fighters from other fronts south-eastward for its part of the attack. It is difficult to believe that these were just unrelated coincidences.

My comments: 
Based on this post we can assume that
1---The US is in direct communication with al Nusra and probably ISIS
2---The US is providing strategic and logistical information to these terrorist organizations.
3--That the US probably has special forces deployed among these groups to oversee operations and to conduct the counteroffensive
4--That the US has intensified the fighting on the ground to give Kerry more leverage at the negotiations in Vienna
5--That the Vienna meetings are part of a broader calculation to regroup by implementing a temporary ceasefire that will save US jihadi mercenaries on the battlefield.
The objective remains regime change)

6--How Vladimir Putin Took Over the World

7--The mergers boom, the financial oligarchy and imperialism

8---Iranian diplomat: It is up to Syrian people to decide fate of Assad

The meeting is being attended by 19 delegations, including those from Russia, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Iran, the UAE, Qatar, Jordan, Germany, France, Egypt, Italy, the UK, Iraq and Lebanon.
After the first round of the meeting, a representative of Iraq's delegation, Ibrahim al-Jaafari, told reporters that "the task of looking for a political solution to the Syrian crisis is more relevant today than ever before."
"We ought to formulate a common platform for the inter-Syrian dialogue and help establish contact between the opposition and representatives of Damascus in order to present a united front in the fight against the terrorist threat," the Iraqi diplomat said.
The multi-party negotiations on Syria in Vienna are addressing a political settlement in Syria rather than the future of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, and only the people of Syria can decide on the future of their president, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said ahead of the meeting.
“It's the only thing that can be said definitely, it's probably the main thing on which all international activities aimed at searching for various options of this settlement are based," he said.

9---Iran stands with Assad in Vienna

Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian stressed that Tehran’s partnership in Vienna talks would not undermine its support for the Syrian government and nation in their fight against terrorism.
“There is no change in the Islamic Republic of Iran’s supportive policy for Syria,” Amir Abdollahian said on Thursday.

He pointed to the upcoming Vienna conference on Syria, and said, “This meeting is an opportunity for helping the fight against terrorists, the political trend in Syria and the efforts made to realize the realities of the Arab country and the region.”

Amir Abdollahian reiterated that Tehran has always supported the anti-terrorism fight and the political trend in Syria and it will continue to do so.
“Those who intend to bypass Bashar Assad know well that only the Syrian people should decide about their fate within the specified political framework,” he added

Moments ago, the Syrian Arab Army’s 4th Mechanized Division – in coordination with Hezbollah, Harakat Al-Nujaba (Iraqi paramilitary), the National Defense Forces (NDF) of Aleppo City, and Kataebat Al-Ba’ath (Al-Ba’ath Battalions) – carried out a successful mission to capture the farms located between the strategic towns of Khan Touman and Qarass in southern Aleppo.

According to a field report from southern Aleppo this morning, the Syrian Armed Forces and Lebanese Resistance surprised the Islamist rebels from Harakat Noureddine Al-Zinki, Harakat Ahrar Al-Sham, Liwaa Suqour Al-Sham, and the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” with an assault at several locations after taking a brief hiatus from this offensive in order to repel the encroaching Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS) fighters at Al-Safira and Ithriya

11--U.S. to Deploy Special Operations Forces in Syria: Official

The senior U.S. official said that the forces will be stationed in northern Syria and work alongside groups with a proven track record of fighting ISIS. The move will be described as a "shift" but not a "change" in U.S. strategy against ISIS, the official added.
The special operations forces could work with Kurdish and allied actors who have come together under the umbrella of the "Syrian Democratic Forces," according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement was not yet public

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Today's Links

1--Hawaiian congresswoman explains why US should end illegal war in Syria, CNN ("Must see")

2--SAA close to sealing the Turkish border
Our armed forces have also carried out combat missions in the Salma-Joub al-Ahmar area [near the Turkish border], taking control of key heights," the general added.

3--The "moderate rebel" hoax: The FSA

Other rebel leaders from FSA-affiliated groups made similar comments in response to Russia's proposal. They all reflect what many in Syria and some outside of it know: the Free Syrian Army is a small decentralized umbrella organization lacking unified leadership and with no real presence on the ground.

As a side note, Russian forces choose their targets in Syria based on its own intelligence, as well as data provided by Damascus, Tehran and Iraq.

"I am sure there is no Free Syrian Army because they refused to cooperate with and receive help from Russia as they are fighting ISIL and others. And at the same time they are ready to hold talks with Russia. What is the meaning of that? They want only a political role or political resolution in Syria because they know they have no real existence on the ground. They have no real forces, there is no Free Syrian Army," deputy director of the Damascus Center for International and Strategic Studies, Dr. Taleb Ibrahim, told Radio Sputnik
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov echoed this sentiment by saying that at the moment the Free Syrian Army has essentially "blended into" the terrorist crowd. "Some were scared, some joined ISIL or Jabhat al-Nusra for money. All the Syrians we talked to while trying to contact the Free Syrian Army say that it does not have a single leadership," he told RIA Novosti.
Syrian Ambassador to Moscow Riad Haddad also confirmed that "the so-called Free Syrian Army once existed but its members later joined other terrorist groups
“Another threat that President Obama mentioned was ISIS. Well who on earth armed them?
Who armed the Syrians that are fighting Assad?
Who created the necessary political/informational climate that facilitated this situation?
Who pushed the delivery of arms to the area?
Do you really not understand as to who is fighting in Syria
 They are mercenaries mostly.
Do you understand they are paid money?
Mercenaries fight for whichever side pays more.
So they arm them and pay them a certain amount
I even know what these amounts are.
So they fight, they have the arms, you cannot get them to return the weapons of course, at the end..
Then they discover elsewhere pays a little more..
Then they occupy the oil fields wherever; in Iraq, in Syria.
They start extracting the oil-and this oil is purchased by somebody.
Where are the sanctions on the parties purchasing this oil?
Do you believe the US does not know who is buying it? Is it not their allies that are buying the oil from ISIS?

Do you not think that US has the power to influence their allies? Or is the point that they indeed do not wish to influence them?
Then why bomb ISIS?
In areas where they started extracting oil and paying mercenaries more, in those areas the rebels from ‘civilised’ Syrian opposition forces immediately joined ISIS because they are paid more.

I consider this absolutely unprofessional politics. It is not grounded in facts , in the real world.
We must support civilized democratic opposition in Syria.
So you support, arm them and then tomorrow they join ISIS.
Can they [USA] not think a step ahead?

7--Syrian rebels reject cooperation with Russia, demand end of bombing
Free Syrian Army (FSA) rebels have rebuffed cooperation with Russia against the "Islamic State" and holding elections. Their response came after Russia suggested it could work with the rebels.

8---US Destroying Syria’s Oil Infrastructure Under Guise of Fighting ISIS
First appeared:

as President Vladimir Putin emphasized in late 2012, Russia’s “position is not for the retention of Assad and his regime in power at any cost but that the people in the beginning would come to an agreement on how they would live in the future, how their safety and participation in ruling the state would be provided for, and then start changing the current state of affairs in accordance with these agreements, and not vice versa.”

Or as two former members of the State Department’s policy planning staff put it, “For Russia, the Geneva process is about achieving a political settlement in Syria, not about great powers negotiating the end of the Assad regime. . . . Russia’s primary objective in Syria is not to provide support for Assad but rather to avoid another Western-backed effort at coercive regime change, and all of Russia’s actions are consistent with that objective. . . .
“Better US-Russian cooperation on Syria depends on demonstrating to Moscow that Assad and his cronies — rather than the opposition, US policy, or other states in the region — are the main obstacle to a settlement and to stability in Syria, as the US has long argued. That requires pushing ahead with a good-faith effort at a political settlement.”...

The Beirut Daily Star reported that “Many of Syria’s main rebel brigades … rejected any negotiations not based on Assad’s removal and said they would charge anyone who attended them with treason.” A coalition of 19 Syrian Islamist groups called attempts to restart the Geneva talks “just another part of the conspiracy to throw our revolution off track and to abort it.”
In November 2013, under pressure from Washington and London, the main Syrian exile opposition group voted to attend a new round of peace talks — but only if Assad and others with “blood on their hands” were guaranteed to have “no role” in a transition government or Syria’s future — a non-starter.

Most important, some 75 military factions operating under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army this month reached an unprecedented political consensus: They rejected plans for a peaceful transition of power put forth by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. Their political stance confirms that the FSA has become an ally, if not a wholly owned tool, of the Nusra Front.

Pursuing peace remains a worthy — indeed, the only sensible — goal of U.S. foreign policy in Syria. No one should be surprised, however, if Washington’s embrace of that goal comes too late. By pursuing regime change so long and so adamantly, the United States, Western Europe and various Arab powers fostered the rise of the radical Islamist opposition, which has absolutely no interest in peace. Foreign leaders can meet all they want in Geneva, Moscow, or wherever, but facts on the ground will determine the political future of Syria.
If there is to be any hope of an outcome short of a bloodthirsty Islamist victory, it will require a total commitment by foreign powers to halt their supply of money and arms to opposition forces that, for now at least, reject participation in the peace process.

10--A military victory over the militants "will not solve all problems, but it will create conditions for the main thing: a beginning of a political process to encompass all healthy, patriotic forces of the Syrian society," Putin said. His words echoed those of Syrian government officials who have expressed readiness to negotiate with the "patriotic" opposition — a term generally used to describe unarmed, mostly Damascus-based government critics who are tolerated by Assad

11--CIA Ops Finally Revealed: What the US Ambassador in Benghazi was Really Doing
The U.S. special mission in Benghazi and the nearby CIA annex were utilized in part to coordinate arms shipments to the jihadist rebels fighting the Syrian regime, with Ambassador Christopher Stevens playing a central role, documents an explosive new book released today.
The activities, which included a separate, unprecedented multi-million-dollar weapons collection effort from Libyan militias who did not want to give up their weapons, may have prompted the Sept. 11, 2012, attack, charges the new book.

12--No More Jihadism: Russia Serious About Terrorism

The CIA had trained thousand of ‘rebels’, whom they admit were trained not to fight ISIS, but to fight the Assad government and Syrian military. The Washington Post reports:
“…the CIA has since 2013 trained some 10,000 rebels to fight Assad’s forces. Those groups have made significant progress against strongholds of the Alawites, Assad’s sect.” This shows that the US’s Agenda in Syria is regime change and it demonstrates their readiness to spawn terrorists groups to that end.

The US is Not Actually Bombing ISIS...
In a CNN article accusing Russia of not targeting ISIS but rather the “Syrian rebels”, two maps displayed from the Institute for the Study of War show a very telling story. The first shows the areas in which Jabhat al Nusra controls or jointly controls parts of Syria, with its allies – the so called moderate rebels receiving US-backing. But on the next map which shows the location of Russian strikes, Jabhat al Nusra territory can scarcely be seen and the jointly controlled areas have been removed completely.

Though it can be said that the Nusra run areas are obstructed by highly concentrated Russian strikes, which showing Russia’s commitment to wiping out of the terrorist group. The fact that the second map does not even show the jointly held Al Qaeda areas and does not make Al Qaeda’s presence clear, reveals an attempt to downplay Russia’s fight against Al Qaeda. The reason for this is to conceal US’s comparative inaction against Al Qaeda, which makes up the bulk of the CIA backed insurgency. It also fits with NATO’s narrative that Russia is only targeting the so called ‘moderate rebels’. The US is angry Russia is bombing its Al Qaeda assets and hence are painting Russia as bombing ‘the good guys’ in order to pressure them to stop.

The US is Continuing to Fund and Arm Terrorists
The map further illustrates how US-backed ‘moderate rebels’ work alongside Al Qaeda, a fact which has become such common knowledge. Former Ambassador to Syria, Robert Ford, admitted to McClatchy news that the rebels supported Al Qaeda
The US has been backed into a corner and in doing so, has exposed itself and its allies as the source of terrorism, not champions truly fighting it

13--Putin urges dollar to be ditched in oil deals

14--Syrians return home after Russian bombing raids
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said thousands of terrorist are fleeing Syria now, and many refugees are coming back home, according to Russian Senator Dmitry Sablin who recently visited Syria with a delegation.
"Assad praised the actions of the Russian Aerospace Forces in Syria. He said thousands of terrorists are now fleeing Syria, and refugees are returning," Sablin said in an interview with the Russian newspaper Izvestia

16--US to 'Violate Int'l Law' With 'Unacceptable' Ground Operation in Syria
The Wall Street Journal reported, citing US officials, on US plans to deploy a small number of ground troops in Syria embedded among Kurdish troops, or what is considered by the US to be a so-called moderate opposition, to fight against the Islamic State.

On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the Pentagon had not ruled out conducting attacks on the ground against ISIL terrorists.
According to Matvienko, the United States "has already flagrantly violated international law" by organizing an air operation in Syria without an approval from the UN Security Council or Damascus

The Free Syrian Army is ready for dialogue with Russia. We need to organize a new meeting, so that we can present our position and discuss our collective actions,” one of the founders of FSA and the coordinator of National Salvation Front Fahad Al-Masri told RIA Novosti. The group, however, hasn’t yet received an answer from Moscow.
The military operation targeting positions of Islamic State militants in Syria was launched by Moscow September 30 following a formal request from Assad. In the past three days the Russian aviation group in Syria has hit 258 targets belonging to IS and Al-Nusra Front terror groups, the Defense Ministry said.

18--First Amendment flop: McCain & gang calls for ‘shutting down’ RT

19--Israel wants free trade zone with Eurasian Union ASAP

20--Top German Editor: CIA Bribing Journalists

21--More on the fake FSA "moderates": Two Prominent Promoters Of The "Syrian Revolution" Give Up

Since the start of the regime change operation in Syria Jenan Moussa, who works for the UAE based Al Aan TV, is an ardent fan of the "moderate rebels". Her embedded reports about them were more one sided anti-regime propaganda than journalism.
But her honeymoon with the FSA seems to be over. She finally recognizes that the FSA is a mere weapon courier service between the CIA and Saudis on one side and al-Qaeda and the Islamic State on the other:

FSA in Idlib/Hama has only HQ's, no territory. Even worse: FSA have no courts. So if FSA-member makes mistake, trial is at Nusra court >
Nusra allows FSA 2 operate in Hama/Idlib bcz FSA there gets TOWmissiles from West. FSA uses these TOW in support of Nusra etc vs SAA....

When the German journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer, who traveled to ISIS-controlled Syria and Iraq last year, was asked about how the FSA is seen by the Jihadis he responded (vid):
They are laughing about the FSA. They don't take them for serious. They say: "The best arms sellers we have are the FSA. If they get a good weapon they sell it to us." They didn't take them for serious. They take for serious Assad. They take for serious of course the bombs. But they fear nobody. But FSA does not play any role.
Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in Syria, is meanwhile happy with all the attention the Islamic State gets. It helps Nusra to play the "moderates". In a recent edition of Nusra's English magazine Al Risalah, a long term al-Qaeda/Nusra member from Australia is interviewed:
“One of the greatest things about IS [Islamic State] its that before people saw al Qaeda and the Mujahideen (in general) as the extremists, and those that abstain from jihad as the normal ‘moderate’ Muslims (following the middle-way),” Australi explains. “But now the truth has come out — the Mujahideen are in fact upon the correct and ‘moderate’ path, with IS being the extremists
22--Did Putin just establish a red line? - TTG

Mr. Putin is aware of every detail of the situation in Syria and the strength and the equipment provided to the Syrian rebels. He explained that Russia has used intercontinental cruise missiles to show to all players with proxies fighting on the ground in Syria its determination to target any regional country providing extremists with anti-air missiles (MANPADs) that can damage or shoot down any Russian jet. Any country that supports terrorists exposing Russian jets at risk would be a legitimate target to Russia. War is one of the tools that serve the political track and that the struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia and between the United States and Russia conflict are based on competing interests and influence in the region. Russia is revising its strategy and Foreign policy to orbit around promoting its external national security. Moscow’s role in the World is today equal to what it was Washington’s role in its height and not what it has become today. The United States’ foreign policy and involvement is in a significant decline “, said the source. (Elijah J. Magnier)

23--Putin: Valdai

Today, unfortunately, we have again come across similar situations. Attempts to promote a model of unilateral domination, as I have said on numerous occasions, have led to an imbalance in the system of international law and global regulation, which means there is a threat, and political, economic or military competition may get out of control.What, for instance, could such uncontrolled competition mean for international security? A growing number of regional conflicts, especially in ‘border’ areas, where the interests of major nations or blocs meet. This can also lead to the probable downfall of the system of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (which I also consider to be very dangerous), which, in turn, would result in a new spiral of the arms race.
We have already seen the appearance of the concept of the so-called disarming first strike, including one with the use of high-precision long-range non-nuclear weapons comparable in their effect to nuclear weapons.

The use of the threat of a nuclear missile attack from Iran as an excuse, as we know, has destroyed the fundamental basis of modern international security – the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. The United States has unilaterally seceded from the treaty. Incidentally, today we have resolved the Iranian issue and there is no threat from Iran and never has been, just as we said.

The thing that seemed to have led our American partners to build an anti-missile defence system is gone. It would be reasonable to expect work to develop the US anti-missile defence system to come to an end as well. What is actually happening? Nothing of the kind, or actually the opposite – everything continues.
Recently the United States conducted the first test of the anti-missile defence system in Europe. What does this mean? It means we were right when we argued with our American partners. They were simply trying yet again to mislead us and the whole world. To put it plainly, they were lying. It was not about the hypothetical Iranian threat, which never existed. It was about an attempt to destroy the strategic balance, to change the balance of forces in their favour not only to dominate, but to have the opportunity to dictate their will to all: to their geopolitical competition and, I believe, to their allies as well. This is a very dangerous scenario, harmful to all, including, in my opinion, to the United States

The global information space is also shaken by wars today, in a manner of speaking. The ‘only correct’ viewpoint and interpretation of events is aggressively imposed on people, certain facts are either concealed or manipulated. We are all used to labelling and the creation of an enemy image.

The authorities in countries that seemed to have always appealed to such values as freedom of speech and the free dissemination of information – something we have heard about so often in the past – are now trying to prevent the spreading of objective information and any opinion that differs from their own; they declare it hostile propaganda that needs to be combatted, clearly using undemocratic means

A terrorist organisation, the so-called Islamic State, took huge territories under control. Just think about it: if they occupied Damascus or Baghdad, the terrorist gangs could achieve the status of a practically official power, they would create a stronghold for global expansion. Is anyone considering this? It is time the entire international community realised what we are dealing with – it is, in fact, an enemy of civilisation and world culture that is bringing with it an ideology of hatred and barbarity, trampling upon morals and world religious values, including those of Islam, thereby compromising it.

We do not need wordplay here; we should not break down the terrorists into moderate and immoderate ones. It would be good to know the difference. Probably, in the opinion of certain experts, it is that the so-called moderate militants behead people in limited numbers or in some delicate fashion.

Why is it that the efforts of, say, our American partners and their allies in their struggle against the Islamic State has not produced any tangible results? Obviously, this is not about any lack of military equipment or potential. Clearly, the United States has a huge potential, the biggest military potential in the world, only double crossing is never easy. You declare war on terrorists and simultaneously try to use some of them to arrange the figures on the Middle East board in your own interests, as you may think.

It is impossible to combat terrorism in general if some terrorists are used as a battering ram to overthrow the regimes that are not to one’s liking. You cannot get rid of those terrorists, it is only an illusion to think you can get rid of them later, take power away from them or reach some agreement with them. The situation in Libya is the best example here.

We understand quite well that the militants fighting in the Middle East represent a threat to everyone, including Russia. People in our nation know what terrorist aggression means and know what the bandits in the North Caucasus have done. We remember the bloody terrorist attacks in Budennovsk, Moscow, Beslan, Volgograd and other Russian cities. Russia has always fought terrorism in all its forms, consistently advocating for truly unifying the global community’s efforts to fight this evil. That is why we made our suggestion to create a broad anti-terror coalition, which I recently voiced in my speech at the United Nations.

Here is what we believe we must do to support long-term settlement in the region, as well as its social, economic and political revival. First of all, free Syria and Iraq’s territories from terrorists and not let them move their activities to other regions. And to do that, we must join all forces – the Iraqi and Syrian regular armies, Kurdish militia, various opposition groups that have actually made a real contribution to fighting terrorists –
and coordinate the actions of countries within and outside of the region against terrorism. At the same time, joint anti-terrorist action must certainly be based on international law.
Second, it is obvious that a military victory over the militants alone will not resolve all problems, but it will create conditions for the main thing: a beginning of a political process with participation by all healthy, patriotic forces of the Syrian society. It is the Syrians who must decide their fate with exclusively civil, respectful assistance from the international community, and not under external pressure through ultimatums, blackmail or threats.

we currently need to develop a roadmap for the region’s economic and social development, to restore basic infrastructure, housing, hospitals and schools. Only this kind of on-site creative work after eliminating terrorism and reaching a political settlement can stop the enormous flow of refugees to European nations and return those who left to their homelands. 

25--Putin Munich 2007 Text

 Here’s what he said:
“President Obama frequently mentions the threat of ISIS. Well, who on earth armed them? And who created the political climate that facilitated the current situation? Who delivered arms to the area? Do you really not know who is fighting in Syria? They’re mercenaries mostly. They are paid money. Mercenaries work for whatever side pays more. We even know how much they are paid. We know they fight for awhile and then see that someone else pays a little more, so they go there…..

The US says “We must support the civilized, democratic opposition in Syria”. So they support them, arm them, and then they join ISIS. Is it impossible for the US to think one step ahead? We do not support this kind of policy at all. We think it’s wrong.” (Putin explains who started ISIS, you tube, 1:38 to 4:03) 



Friday, October 23, 2015

Today's Links

1---Putin reaffirms his support for Assad

Today Moscow still calls on President Assad to negotiate with his opponents - something he has always said he is prepared to do - but the criticism of him in Moscow has stopped. Today Moscow speaks of him instead as the “heroic leader” of his country, defending Syria from terrorism.
What this demonstrates is the extent to which due to their uncompromising - even fanatical - insistence that Assad must go before any negotiations can begin, the US and the Syrian opposition have simply ended up simply firming up Russian support for him.
The result is that where in 2012 the Russians would have supported a negotiated and managed transition to a post-Assad government, they are now straightforwardly backing Assad. Moreover they are doing so with bombs and aircraft.

With the Iranians also backing Assad, it is now very difficult to see how he can be overthrown. The very fact that he was prepared to leave Damascus to go to Moscow is a sign of how secure he has now become.....
There continues to be much confusion about what Russia’s objectives in Syria are.
This is strange because Putin has spelled them out quite clearly.  They are the destruction of the Islamic State and the uprooting of violent jihadism from Syria

2--Russia FM stresses Iran role in efforts to resolve Syria crisis
(Lavrov:  No deal without Iran)
Lavrov’s comments come as Tehran has drawn up a four-point peace plan on the Syrian crisis, which calls for a national unity government, a ceasefire, fighting terrorism and constitutional reforms in the violence-torn Arab nation, according to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
The Russian diplomat also noted that “in the current conditions, it is fundamentally important to include Egypt, Qatar, the UAE and Jordan” in the aforesaid circle of support.
Lavrov further suggested that the above-mentioned countries “could be represented by their ministers in [the Austrian capital city of] Vienna tomorrow, but at parallel meetings

3--Russia, US, S Arabia, Turkey top diplomats meet on Syria crisis

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry,  Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir and Turkish Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu met in the Austrian capital Vienna on Friday.
Russia expects the meeting to result in "an honest and objective exchange of views about the situation which will give an opportunity to map out a clear path for activating efforts to achieve a comprehensive political resolution," said Maria Zakharova, a spokeswoman for Russia's Foreign Ministry.  
4---How Turkey is planning for Assad-led transition in Syria

According to what our "selected" colleagues who were invited to the "off-record" briefing were told, Turkey has approved an Assad-led transition under two conditions:
  • The process must end with Assad's absolute departure from his post.
  • None of the important state bodies, above all the army and intelligence services, must be under Assad’s control. That is, Assad must "lead" the transition only as a strictly symbolic president.
One of the journalists compared the “symbolic president for a specified period’ with the German president's limited role in that country's parliamentary government. Another defined it as “ineffective and unauthorized honorary president.”
This is how the condition for Assad’s destiny was worded: “The transition should prepare the country for a post-Assad period and must determine whether Assad will be tried for war crimes or not, or whether he will be exiled.”

Journalists at the briefing were told that the nine countries named had agreed on transition conditions before US President Barack Obama met Putin on Sept. 28 in New York. Obama informed Putin of the agreement. Russia at that time did not respond. These journalists were told that Russia was then asked, "Why don’t you take Assad?” to which Russia replied, “It could be problematic in our relations with the West. We might be asked to hand him over as a war criminal

5---The groups Turkey sees leading the transition are retreating every day under Russia’s air attacks and ground operations of the Syrian Army, Hezbollah, National Defense Force militias of the regime, Baath brigades and the Nceba movement made up of Iraqi militias. In other words, by breaking apart the elements lauded as alternatives, Russia is making the cards held by Turkey and its allies invalid.


Sergey Lavrov tells some interesting stories from the time before the Russian Air Force presence was established in the area. Russian observers actually saw the ISIS column on white Toyota Jeeps with black banners moving across the desert towards Palmyra, but they and their Syrian allies received the US request to let them pass unhindered. Moreover, the US warned Bashar Assad: they will hit him if he just tries to use the US sorties against the ISIS to gain ground...

7--"Aleppo" is Arabic for "Little Big Horn" PJ Media

Map of Aleppo

The Institute for the Study of War now believe that while “the renewed ground operations aim at a minimum to relieve the long-standing sieges of pro-regime enclaves in Aleppo Province” the real Russian/Iranian/Syria goal is more sinister: to fix the rebels in the south while the Russians pinch off the rebel corridor of retreat to the north.  Once the line of escape is closed the FSA will be in a Kesselschlacht.  Once the Russians have them in the pot, then its curtains for those trapped.
The maneuver south of Aleppo City likely aims to set conditions for an upcoming offensive to isolate rebel forces in Aleppo City. Regime and Iranian forces began conducting probing attacks along rebel frontlines throughout northwestern Syria after the Russian air campaign began on September 30. These localized offensives likely constitute components of a larger campaign designed to confuse and overextend rebel forces in advance of a decisive operation to penetrate into core rebel-held terrain. The decisive blow will likely target rebel positions north of Aleppo City. The attacks south of Aleppo City may thus constitute an attempt draw rebel reinforcements away from Aleppo City and fix them far from the northern Aleppo countryside. Any successful operation to seize or otherwise neutralize Aleppo City would deal a powerful symbolic and material blow to the Syrian opposition. Tightening control over Syria’s largest city would also place the Syrian regime and its allies in a position of strength before any negotiations regarding a political transition, an initial proposal for which the U.S. and eight other countries floated over the past few weeks....

The Guardian cites FSA sources who allege that Putin is out to get them.
Usama Abuzaid, a senior adviser to the Free Syrian Army, said: “In the last couple of days the attacks increased everywhere in the countryside, even in the areas where Isis is trying to advance.
“Aleppo is very important for everyone. For us, it is our supply line to Turkey for food and weapons. Also, it has a revolutionary value for us. It holds our main FSA headquarters, and that’s the reason the Russians are advancing.
“The regime and Isis tried to take Aleppo last year and they couldn’t, and now they are trying again with the Russians. The Russians are doing Isis a huge favour. They are giving them air cover while they are attacking us from the ground.” 

8--Aleppo encirclement continues

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance and Iraq’s shia militias have been continuing military operations in Aleppo province, specially in its Southwest, concurrent with the army’s new operations in Hama and Lattakia provinces....

The SAA, Hezbollah and Iraq’s shia militias have also been making continued gains in the Eastern countryside of Aleppo since Sunday midnight and managed to seize Tal Naqmous hilltops and Tal Sab’een village as well as the town of al-Moflesa. The Syrian forces are currently fortifying their positions in the newly-purged areas. ...

Another goal of the operation is Kuweires airbase. Arab sources report that the Syrian forces supported by the Russian warplanes, are pushing back ISIS terrorists from areas adjacent to the military airport. Separately, the Syrian army’s helicopters supply foodstuff and other needs to the Syrian troops defending the airport. Nonetheless, it’s too early to say that the siege will be lifted in the nearest hours

9--Aleppo Syria Direct

The Syrian regime and its allies are attempting to encircle contested Aleppo city via a land campaign beginning in the province's southern countryside “to send the world a message...that it can advance under Russian air support,” a high-level rebel commander in the field told Syria Direct Monday.
On Friday, the regime unleashed ground troops out of its base in Safira and the neighboring Defense Factories roughly 20km southeast of Aleppo city. From these points, the two-pronged assault is moving both northeast and west into the south Aleppo countryside. The goal, three rebel commanders tell Syria Direct, is to form an uninterrupted cordon around the city that will strangle the rebels, and ultimately civilians within.
“The regime is trying, through these battles, to establish a large security cordon around Aleppo city,” Major Ahmed Abu Ismael, a Feilaq a-Sham officer with the Fatah Halab operations room, told Syria Direct Monday. The Fatah Halab, or Aleppo Victory, operations room was established this past April to decide the battle for Aleppo city. The alliance includes al-Jabha a-Shamiya, Ahrar a-Sham, Feilaq a-Sham and various FSA-affiliated rebel groups.

Putin makes accusation
On Thursday, Putin accused the United States of playing a "double game" in Syria that involves fighting "terrorists" while trying to use some of them to advance its own interests in the region.
U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said Russian airstrikes are interfering in Syria and making the Islamic State group stronger. She said she hoped the meeting between Kerry and Lavrov "will result in Russia re-committing in words and in action to a political solution for Syria."

11---Putin at Valdai

Speaking today at the International Valdai Discussion Club's 12th annual meeting in Sochi, Putin delivered a sweeping critique of military strategy and foreign policy touching on everything from the erroneous labeling of some extremists as “moderates” to the futility of nuclear war.
“Why play with words dividing terrorists into moderate and not moderate. What's the difference?,” Putin asked, adding that “success in fighting terrorists cannot be reached if using some of them as a battering ram to overthrow disliked regimes [because] it's just an illusion that they can be dealt with [later], removed from power and somehow negotiated with.” 

"I'd like to stress once again that [Russia's operation in Syria] is completely legitimate, and its only aim is to aid in establishing peace," Putin said of Moscow’s Mid-East strategy. And while he’s probably telling the truth there, it’s only by default. That is, peace in Syria likely means the restoration of Assad (it's difficult to imagine how else the country can be stabilized in the short-term), and because that aligns with Russia’s interests, The Kremlin is seeking to promote peace - it’s more a tautology than it is a comment on Putin’s desire for goodwill towards men.

And then there’s Iran and its nascent nuclear program. Putin accused the US of illegitimately seeking to play nuclear police officer, a point on which he is unquestionably correct: The "hypothetical nuclear threat from Iran is a myth. The US was just trying to destroy the strategical balance, [and] not to just dominate, but be able to dictate its will to everyone – not only geopolitical opponents, but also allies."

12--Total victory?
While short term developments (T + 7 days) are difficult to assess, it is already apparent that the Syrian regime and its allies are intend not just on some minor border corrections but on achieving a large scale military victory in NW Syria.

Patrick Bahzad said in reply to Bill Herschel...
I think caution is always a good thing. Anybody who thought this would be a walk in the park should get their head examined. I can't comment more as I have no idea who saker is and whose interests he defends.
It should also have been clear from the outset that this Russian force is not able to repel ISIS. It was never about totally defeating ISIS anyway but statements by Russian officials created a narrative that is not in line with operational reality....

So although one cannot assume that 'the Saker' is telling the truth, he may well be.
(For his account, see .)
I am more sceptical about the notion that he is telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth about his current location and contacts. He dwells on Florida a little too much, and in the light of his account of his intellectual evolution, it would not surprise me at all if he had good contacts in sections of the Russian intelligence apparatus.
But that does not mean that one should discount what he says as disinformation. And if anything, his analytical weakness seems to me a marked propensity to romanticism.

Lisa said...
In Syria they are in the grinding phase. This is always hard to report on because it just seems like endless battles and nothing seems to happen.
In the end it depends on the moral, manpower and resources of each side. If the Syrian Army (etc) can keep up the pressure and has sufficient reserves of troops and supplies plus the moral to continue it will win.
But it will take time for AN(etc) to run out of men and ammo(etc). At this stage, being the attackers, the SA will suffer larger losses and use up ammo faster.
This where air support, properly done, can make a huge difference with CAS and interdiction. AN(etc) may have large ammo dumps hidden away but if it cannot get to them or ship stuff from them to the front they are effectively useless.
Careful coordination of the attacks, where, when, what with are key elements. Finding the weak spots, stretching the enemy and so on are also critical. Managing logistics and reserves are also critical for the Syrian side, pointless having superior forces (etc) if you cannot get them to the right places on time.
These sorts of things tend to go on until either the defenders totally crack or the attackers give up.
On the strategic, tactical levels and the men and material side the SA has the advantages, but what about the moral side? Equally what about the moral side of the defenders who haven't, to date, been through this sort of coordinated meat grinder thing? Both those are unknowns.
The defenders have the disadvantage of being a 'hard crust', wth little (as far as I can see) defence in depth. Therefore if they crack, it will happen very quickly at some point, switching from a grinding to a chase. But this grinding could continue for weeks.
For examples of this sort of thing the Al Alamein and Normandy battles (not the US accounts of Normandy by the way they are all piffe) are useful guides.
A lot of, particularly western, people struggle to understand this sort of war. After years and years of COIN type stuff with lots of small, sharp, short engagements, this 'real war' stuff is not in their mindset.

13--WSJ--Mr. Kerry and other U.S. officials have expressed hopes the Russians will agree to a political transition that will eventually see Mr. Assad exit Syria’s political scene, even if he’s allowed to remain in office in that time.
“The fate of the Syrian president must be decided by the Syrian people,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Vienna on Friday after announcing the agreement with Jordan.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey are major backers of insurgent groups that have been fighting against the Syrian regime

thermobaric weapons turcopolier said...
J Vilain
IMO the R+5 effort will not be interested in hearts and minds until they have won the military struggle. This is not COIN and IMO there will be a decisive military outcome
From the article...
"[Putin] said the west was guilty of shortsightedness, focusing on the figure of Assad while ignoring the much greater threat of Isis.
“The so-called Islamic State [Isis] has taken control of a huge territory. How was that possible? Think about it: if Damascus or Baghdad are seized by the terrorist groups, they will be almost the official authorities, and will have a launchpad for global expansion. Is anyone thinking about this or not?”
He added: “Fifty years ago, the streets of Leningrad taught me that if a fight is inevitable, you have to hit first.”

14---Putin made it clear in the past that he does not feel any personal bond with Assad and that he is primarily interested in preserving the central state in Syria. He does not want to see a repeat scenario of Libya and Yemen. Secondly, he has a clear interest in fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), as he has many citizens from the unruly North Caucasus republics joining ISIL. Thirdly, he wants to re-establish Moscow as a major player in the region. Lastly, he appears to be actively involved in finding a face-saving diplomatic solution that would facilitate a transition -- perhaps with Assad -- but that would eventually achieve the preservation of the central state and leadership transition simultaneously.


The third is defusing preconditions requiring Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down at the start of the political transition, in favor of accepting Assad's gradual exit in parallel with said transition.
The fourth concession is agreeing to shore up regime institutions as part of the solution, compared to previous positions that insisted on fully replacing the regime with the opposition's framework.
If Vladimir Putin has decided to build on these concessions, then he must have no doubt discussed with Assad - who was summoned to Moscow this week - a roadmap for his departure. This would likely follow a timetable imposed by the transitional process, which in all likelihood will span months, not weeks. This would enable Assad to step down after defeating "terrorism", as he always states, after bolstering the Syrian state, as these two elements would constitute an "honorable exit" for Assad, compared to defeat and prosecution for his role in precipitating and perpetrating the atrocities in Syria.

16--It is always difficult to play a double sided game: to fight with some terrorists and to use others “as a battering ram to overthrow regimes they find undesirable”.

On the “moderate” terrorists:

There is no need to play on words and divide terrorists into “moderate” and “immoderate”. What separates them? I would like to understand the difference. Perhaps, according to some experts, moderate bandits decapitate people in a moderate and gentle way. In fact, we now see a real tangle of terrorist organizations. Yes, sometimes they are rebels of the “Islamic State”, “Al-Nusra Dzhabhat”, all sorts of other heirs and factions of “Al-Qaeda”, they even fight each other. But then, they fight for money, for their share of the money, for the sources of the income flow, for the territory of the income flow - that's what they fight for, not for ideological reasons. But the essence and methods they have are the same – they terrorize, murder, transform the people into a downtrodden, intimidated, docile mass....

On Russia’s operations in Syria:
After the request of Syrian authorities on giving them support, we decided to launch a military operation in that country. Once again: it is completely legitimate. Its sole purpose is to promote peace....

Syrians must decide their fate for themselves, at their own accord, with the respectful assistance of the international community and not under external pressure through ultimatums, blackmail and threats

17--US no longer sets the agenda in Syria talks
One item on the agenda, Kerry said, was which nations should be included political transition discussions. Russia is keen to bring Iran into the talks, but Saudi Arabia is opposed. The Obama administration has said repeatedly that all the countries with an interest in Syria, including Iran and Russia, need to agree on what the transition should bring: a unified, secular and pluralistic Syria governed with the consent of its people.....
A military victory over the militants "will not solve all problems, but it will create conditions for the main thing: a beginning of a political process to encompass all healthy, patriotic forces of the Syrian society," Putin said. His words echoed those of Syrian government officials who have expressed readiness to negotiate with the "patriotic" opposition — a term generally used to describe unarmed, mostly Damascus-based government critics who are tolerated by Assad

18--Rebuffing Peace Chances in Syria
Who’s to Blame?
Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari later blamed the United States, Britain and France for derailing a huge opportunity for peace. Norwegian General Robert Mood, who led a military observer mission into Syria that spring to monitor an abortive cease-fire, said after the breakdown of Geneva I, “it would have been possible to lead Syria through a transition supported by a united Security Council with Assad as part of the transition. . . . The insistence on the removal of President Assad as a start of the process led them into a corner where the strategic picture gave them no way out whatsoever.”
Contrary to the caricature presented in many Western media, the Russians did not then or later insist that Assad remain in power.
Rather, as President Vladimir Putin emphasized in late 2012, Russia’s “position is not for the retention of Assad and his regime in power at any cost but that the people in the beginning would come to an agreement on how they would live in the future, how their safety and participation in ruling the state would be provided for, and then start changing the current state of affairs in accordance with these agreements, and not vice versa.”

Or as two former members of the State Department’s policy planning staff put it, “For Russia, the Geneva process is about achieving a political settlement in Syria, not about great powers negotiating the end of the Assad regime. . . . Russia’s primary objective in Syria is not to provide support for Assad but rather to avoid another Western-backed effort at coercive regime change, and all of Russia’s actions are consistent with that objective. . . .
“Better US-Russian cooperation on Syria depends on demonstrating to Moscow that Assad and his cronies — rather than the opposition, US policy, or other states in the region — are the main obstacle to a settlement and to stability in Syria, as the US has long argued. That requires pushing ahead with a good-faith effort at a political settlement...

 some 75 military factions operating under the umbrella of the Free Syrian Army this month reached an unprecedented political consensus: They rejected plans for a peaceful transition of power put forth by UN Special Envoy Staffan de Mistura. Their political stance confirms that the FSA has become an ally, if not a wholly owned tool, of the Nusra Front.

US a full partner in war crimes in Yemen
" “These are JSOC and CIA-led missions for the most part,” Gettinger told me recently, conjecturing that the hush-hush operations are likely focused on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance activities and counterterrorism strikes in Somalia and Yemen, as well as aiding the Saudi-led air campaign in the latter country."

turcopolier said...
"This is a war of attrition" No. There will be a clear victory and the ass---e sheikhs in the Gulf have no real power other than money and that can be taken from them. Erdogan is not going to reverse Ataturk's creation of modern Turkey and Russia will not be de-stabilized. pl

turcopolier said...
I think there is a better than 50% chance that the jihadi/unicorn/Borgist forces in Syria will be routed and de facto partition will not take place. pl


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Today's Links

1--Rebel commanders: Regime seeks to encircle Aleppo city, ‘send the world a message’ with Russian support, Syria direct

 The Syrian regime and its allies are attempting to encircle contested Aleppo city via a land campaign beginning in the province's southern countryside “to send the world a message...that it can advance under Russian air support,” a high-level rebel commander in the field told Syria Direct Monday...

Adjacent to the al-Harariya plant is the Kweiris military airport, surrounded by an Islamic State cordon that is another target of the regime's offensive. From Kweiris, regime forces intend to move up into Bashkuy and the Industrial Zone northeast of Aleppo city, and then into the northwest countryside to break rebel forces' encirclement of the Shiite towns of Nubul and Zahraa, says Abu Ismael.
If the regime were to succeed, it would be in a position to “encircle Aleppo from all sides,” says al-Jabha a-Shamiya Colonel Abu Rami.

2---Syrian army's advances near border rattle Ankara, al monitor

Situation on the ground causes concern
Developments on the ground indicate that the train-and-equip program is not likely to produce an immediate solution. Regime forces, supported by Iran and Hezbollah, have made advances not only in Aleppo but also in Quneitra, Daraa and the Damascus outskirts of Eastern Ghouta and Douma. The northern front is under heavy pressure. If the regime succeeds in cutting the opposition's supply lines, as happened in Homs, the opposition may have to surrender.

Regime forces successfully entered the Shiite villages of Nubul and Zehra, which had been under opposition siege for 18 months. The main road from Aleppo to Zehra is not secure for either side. Due to the presence of regime forces in Zehra, the opposition has been unable to use this route in their supply runs to Turkey, and for this road to be secure for the regime, it has to control Hireytan and Hayan.

A parallel route to the east connects Aleppo to Turkey’s Oncupinar border crossing via Tel Rifat and Azez. Securing this route is now the regime’s top objective. When the regime army captured Sifat and Baskoy on this route, it meant the most important supply route had been severed. Although the opposition claims to have reopened the road with the support of Jabhat al-Nusra and the Islamic Front, this road cannot be considered secure for them.

The only supply route to Turkey that now operates with few problems is the road to the Cilvegozu border crossing in the Turkish town of Reyhanli.
The regime is concentrating an offensive in Kfar Hamra and Balermum to transform the opposition’s liberated zone between Leyramon and Handerat into an open-air prison. The situation of the opposition is critical. Nevertheless, the gains by the regime forces — though psychologically damaging — don’t mean an absolute victory. The opposition could resist for a long time by using its tunnels and side roads.

With the situation on the ground changing constantly, can 15,000 opposition fighters to be trained in three years provide a solution to the conflict?

3--Russia Makes an Impact in Syrian Battle for Control of Aleppo, NYT

weeks of military activity by the government and the latest moves near Aleppo illustrated the “dramatic impact” of the Russian intervention so far, said Yezid Sayigh, an expert on Arab armies at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.

With relatively minimal effort, the Russians had managed to “boost regime and army morale,” and send a message to countries allied with the rebels, like the United States, Saudi Arabia and Turkey, that they will not be able to intervene militarily in the conflict, as the Turks had hinted they might earlier this summer....

Before the Russian intervention, the government was increasingly confined to a shrinking, defensible portion of the country. “Now, it will not shrink anymore,” the diplomat added. “The game is over.”
“Putin doesn’t need to do more,” Mr. Sayigh said

4--If Caterpillar's Data Is Right, This Is A Global Industrial Depression

5--Report: Turkey agrees to Syria political transition involving Assad

6--The battle for Aleppo puts FSA at center stage of Syria conflict

“I don’t see them giving in easily unless you besiege and starve them for years... but I don’t think this is going to happen.”
Dr Joseph Kechichian, a Riyadh-based political scientist, told Al Arabiya News that despite Russian airstrikes, it will be “very difficult for the regime to retake Aleppo.” The city is “a stronghold for the opposition. They’re going to fight tooth and nail to keep it...

What would level the playing field somewhat would be the introduction of MANPADS, the shoulder-mounted air-defense missiles. That would deter Russian airstrikes… Aerial bombardment is the top killer in Syria.”

O’Hanlon, and even Brookings itself are not solely responsible for the death and destruction Syria now suffers, or Libya, Iraq, and others have suffered before it, or even those the US plans to target next will suffer. They are but individual cogs in a much larger machine. To understand the scope of that machine, one must look at who underwrites and ultimately directs the work Brookings does. By doing so, we can understand the very source of what drives the chaos in Syria, and then go about stopping it.
The Source 

Brookings’ 2014 annual report (.pdf) reveals among others, the following sponsors from big-finance; JP Morgan Chase & Co., Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, State Farm, MetLife, and GEICO. From big-defense there’s; General Electric, Northrop Grumman, and Raytheon. Big-telecom is represented by; Comcast, Google, Facebook, AT&T, and Verizon.  Big-oil; Exxon, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, British Petroleum, and Shell. And even consumer corporations like Pepsi and Coca Cola help underwrite what are essentially policy papers conspiring to commit crimes against humanity that have since been systematically carried out at the cost of hundreds of thousands of innocent lives.

It is the Fortune 500, centered on Wall Street and London, driving the conflict in Syria and the larger arc of chaos consuming the MENA region and beyond

8---Let's stop the flag waving, Saker

Konstantin Sivkov: Doctor of Military Sciences, the first vice-president of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, a military expert. He was born in 1954. In 1976 he graduated from the Naval College. He served in the NavyHe graduated from the Military Medical Academy. In 1992 he graduated from the Academy of the General Staff. From 1995 to 2007 he served in the General Staff of the Armed Forces. A specialist in the field of military political science. He participated in the development of doctrinal documents determining the development and use of the Armed Forces.
Good enough?  He was recently interviewed by Svobodnaia Pressa (free press).  I hope to bring you the full text of the interview in the next couple of days.  In the meantime, here are some of the highlights of what Sivkov had to say:
  • The Syrian Army offensive has grinded to a halt
  • In several locations Daesh successfully counter-attacked
  • The airbase at Latakia is maxed out or will very soon be
  • The Russians are not providing close air support, but only strikes on operational-level fixed targets
  • There are signs that the Syrian military is running out of ammunition
  • The USA are supplying Daesh with ammunition to compensate for the ammo dumps destroyed by Russian airstrikes
  • Russia will probably have to engage long-range aviation to compensate for the small number of aircraft in Lakatia
  • The Russian flotilla in the Caspian has used up almost all its cruise missiles
  • Dash forces are commanded by very skilled officers from the ex-Iraqi army
  • Russia needs either another airfield in Syria or, better, the agreement of the Iranians to let the Russian deploy more or less 120-130 aircraft on Iranian airfields
  • The Russian force in Latakia is very vulnerable and the base will have to be urgently reinforced
9--Lavrov, Kerry to hold Syria talks Friday with Saudi, Turkish counterparts: Moscow

10--Putin: "4,000 Russian terrorists in Syria"

Vladimir Putin said that the Syrian people have been confronting terrorists “practically single-handedly” for years, withstanding considerable casualties. Lately, they have achieved serious and positive results in this fight, he added.

The terrorists’ attempts to destabilize the situation in the Middle East arouse deep concern in Russia because “unfortunately, people from the former Soviet republics, at least 4,000 of them, are fighting against the Syrian army,” the Russian leader said. “Naturally, we cannot allow them to appear on Russian territory with all the combat experience and ideological brainwashing they have gone through.”

11--ISIS negotiating with Al-Nusra Front to join forces against Syrian Army – Russian military

12--This “legal…UN standard” that Achcar dismisses is written into the UN Charter. It bars “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state,” and affirms that there is no right “to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state.”

13--NATO begins dress rehearsal for Europe-wide war

14--US support for terrorists since 2012 in Syria

the U.S. has very actively aided and abetted the violent opposition in Syria from the start. The Defense Information Agency report from August 2012 confirms that weapons were flowing to the Syrian armed opposition after the overthrow of the Libyan government in Fall 2011. The claim that the U.S. was only supplying communications equipment and other non-lethal supplies in 2012 and 2013 was for public consumption and ‘plausible deniability’. In reality the U.S. was supplying great quantities of weapons. The ‘dark side’ included a huge budget for CIA operations including training and arming the Syrian armed opposition. Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar and UAE were spending billions annually in support of mercenaries and fanatics trying to overthrow the secular Damascus government. Contrary to what Ahmad says, the US-backed rebels were largely a fiction. Apart from the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), the most effective fighting force was the official Al Qaeda franchise, Jabhat al Nusra. Out of the public view, to the extent it existed, FSA was working closely with Nusra/Al Qaeda....

The "chemical weapons" lie

Obama betrayed his hand long ago when he failed to match hot rhetoric with even modest action ….[when] Assad brazenly breached his ‘red line’ by using chemical weapons” . This assertion is standard fare for journalists promoting war. In reality the accusation has been largely disproved. The Human Rights Watch “vector” analysis was dubious from the beginning and then entirely discredited. The most thorough investigation concludes the weapons were launched from territory held by the armed opposition. American investigative reporters Seymour Hersh, Robert Parry and Gareth Porter, plus former CIA officer Ray McGovern, have all concluded the attacks were likely by the armed opposition trying to trap the U.S. into bombing Syria. Muhammad Idrees Ahmad, like nearly all mainstream journalists promoting the war, ignores the contrary evidence

Public support for Assad at 70%

15--Despite all the U.S. talk about political transition, Syrian peace talks have ceased. The U.S. is trying to forge a strategy with Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia — and potentially even Iran — to halt the fighting between Assad's military and moderate opposition forces, allowing all sides to concentrate on defeating the Islamic State group.