Saturday, December 19, 2015

Today's Links

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

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

2--UN resolution papers over deep divisions on Syria

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7---No good news for Turkey

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

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

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

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