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.

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