Thursday, December 3, 2015

Today's Links

one intelligence source familiar with the military situation told me that the Syrian government offensive, backed by Iranian troops and Russian air power, had been surprisingly successful in putting the jihadists, including ISIS and Nusra, on the defensive, with additional gains around the key city of Aleppo.....
Erdogan still seems set on violent “regime change” in Syria after allowing his intelligence services to provide extensive help to ISIS, Al Qaeda’s Nusra and other extremists. The Russians claim that politically well-connected Turkish businessmen also have been profiting off the ISIS oil sales.
Obama Ignores Russian Terror Victims, Robert Parry




Some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, which used to be stable and relatively prosperous – Iraq, Libya, Syria – have turned into zones of chaos and anarchy that pose a threat to entire world...We know why it happened. We know who wanted to oust unwanted regimes, and rudely impose their own rules. They triggered hostilities, destroyed statehoods, set people against each other and simply washed their hands [of the situation] – giving way to radicals, extremists and terrorists.” Vladimir Putin


Obama admits ISIS oil passing thru Turkey
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-gives-the-cold-shoulder-to-us-proposal-to-seal-syria-border.aspx?pageID=238&nID=92016&NewsCatID=352


“With respect to Turkey, I have had repeated conversations with President Erdoğan about the need to close the border between Turkey and Syria,” Obama said during a speech delivered at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) headquarters in Paris on Dec. 1.
“We’ve seen some serious progress on that front, but there are still some gaps. In particular, there’s about 98 kilometers that are still used as a transit point for foreign fighters and for ISIL to ship out fuel for sale that helps finance their terrorist activities,” he added.


Obama knows what has to happen for this terrorist threat to be truly addressed. The Saudis and Turks have to be told, in no uncertain terms, to stop supporting the jihadists. But that would require extraordinary courage and huge political – perhaps even physical – risk. There is no sign that President Obama dares bite that bullet.
https://consortiumnews.com/2015/12/01/the-us-russia-proxy-war-in-syria/


Israel's role in Syria---In 2012, a secret Pentagon document, later de-classified as a result of pressure from the US NGO Judicial Watch, reported that opposition groups supported by Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US and—covertly—Israel sought the establishment of a Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria [Hasaka and Deir el-Zour], now part of Islamic State-held territory.
The increasingly close relations between the IDF, Islamic State and Al Qaeda along the Golan Heights coincided with the start of oil exploration by US oil company Genie Energy’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil & Gas. The IDF has replaced the 45-mile border fence with Syria with a steel barricade consisting of barbed wire, touch sensors, motion detectors, infrared cameras, and ground radar. In October, Yuval Bartov, Afek’s chief geologist, told Channel 2 the company had found significant quantities of oil in the Golan Heights.
Israel’s preparation for a more overt involvement in Syria coincides with its brutal suppression of the Palestinian uprising, which it has sought to equate with Islamist terrorism.




1---After Losing Half a Dozen Wars, Obama Taunts Putin on Syria


President Barack Obama’s remarks about Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention in the Syria conflict were remarkably ironic: “The Russians now have been there for several weeks, over a month, and I think fair-minded reporters who have looked at the situation would say that the situation hasn’t changed significantly.
In the interim, Russia has lost a commercial passenger jet. You’ve seen another jet shot down. There have been losses in terms of Russian personnel. And I think Mr. Putin understands that with Afghanistan fresh in the memory, for him to simply get bogged down in an inconclusive and paralyzing civil conflict is not the outcome that he’s looking for...


A few hours after Obama made his remarks, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced the U.S. was again expanding its military actions in Iraq.


2--The Ever-Smug Friedman, Robert Parry
http://russia-insider.com/en/obama-ignores-russian-terror-victims/ri11615
Columnist Friedman was equally unfeeling about the Russian deaths. In a column entitled “Putin’s Great Syrian Adventure,” Friedman offered a mocking assessment of Russia’s intervention against Sunni jihadists and terrorists seeking to take control of Syria.
While ridiculing anyone who praised Putin’s initiative or who just thought the Russian president was “crazy like a fox,” Friedman wrote: “Some of us thought he was just crazy.
Well, two months later, let’s do the math: So far, Putin’s Syrian adventure has resulted in a Russian civilian airliner carrying 224 people being blown up, apparently by pro-ISIS militants in Sinai. Turkey shot down a Russian bomber after it strayed into Turkish territory. And then Syrian rebels killed one of the pilots as he parachuted to earth and one of the Russian marines sent to rescue him.”...


The Afghan Memories
Obama’s reference to Afghanistan was also startling. He was suggesting that Putin should have learned a lesson from Moscow’s intervention in the 1980s in support of a secular, pro-Soviet regime in Kabul, which came under attack by CIA-organized-and-armed Islamic jihadists known then as mujahedeen.
Wielding sophisticated surface-to-air missiles and benefiting from $1 billion a year in Saudi-U.S.-supplied weapons, the Afghan fundamentalist mujahedeen and their allies, including Saudi Osama bin Laden, eventually drove Soviet troops out in 1989 and – several years later behind the Taliban – completed the reversion of Afghanistan back to the Seventh Century. Women in Kabul went from dressing any way they liked in public, including wearing mini-skirts, to being covered in chadors and kept at home...


Al-Jazeera added the additional fact that the remaining 4,000 insurgents are “from al-Nusra Front, Ahrar al-Sham and the Free Syrian Army.” In other words, the “moderate” Free Syrian Army was operating in collusion with Al Qaeda’s affiliate and its major jihadist partner.
While it’s hard to get reliable up-to-date information from inside Syria, one intelligence source familiar with the military situation told me that the Syrian government offensive, backed by Iranian troops and Russian air power, had been surprisingly successful in putting the jihadists, including ISIS and Nusra, on the defensive, with additional gains around the key city of Aleppo....


Erdogan still seems set on violent “regime change” in Syria after allowing his intelligence services to provide extensive help to ISIS, Al Qaeda’s Nusra and other extremists. The Russians claim that politically well-connected Turkish businessmen also have been profiting off the ISIS oil sales.


4--Distress” in US Corporate Debt Spikes to 2009 Level


5---Putin warns Erdogan---Russia to cut relations with Turkey
https://www.rt.com/news/324537-putin-annual-address-terrorism/
We have many friends in Turkey,” he said. “They should know that we do not equate them and part of the current Turkish leadership, which holds a direct responsibility for the deaths of our troops in Syria,” he said.
He added that the killing of Russian officers would have long-term consequences for those responsible.
We will not forget this aid to terrorists. We have always considered betrayal the worst and most shameful act. Let those in Turkey know it who shot our pilots in the back, who hypocritically tries to justify themselves and their actions and cover up the crimes of terrorists,” he said. ....


"They are getting money, weapons, gathering strength. If they get stronger, winning there, they will inevitably come here to sow fear and hatred, blast, kill and torture people," Putin said


Some countries in the Middle East and North Africa, which used to be stable and relatively prosperous – Iraq, Libya, Syria – have turned into zones of chaos and anarchy that pose a threat to entire world,” Putin said.
We know why it happened. We know who wanted to oust unwanted regimes, and rudely impose their own rules. They triggered hostilities, destroyed statehoods, set people against each other and simply washed their hands [of the situation] – giving way to radicals, extremists and terrorists.”...


Business as usual’ with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is now over, Sergey Ivanov, the head of Putin’s office, confirmed to RT after the Russian president’s address:
“Yes, it is definitely over. But fighting terrorism is ‘business as usual’, as the Russian president said,” Ivanov said.
The Turkish leadership “must acknowledge that a tragic mistake was committed and to beg for [forgiveness], or this leadership will not play any significant role in bilateral relations between Russia and Turkey. We will not be able to have any ties with Turkey under this leadership if it doesn’t change its attitude,” Konstantin Kosachev, the chair of the State Duma Committee for Foreign Relations, told RT


6--Israel's role in Syria
https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/12/03/isra-d03.html


At the weekend, several Israeli officials, including Gilad and Defence Minister Moshe Ya’alon, said Russian pilots had breached Israeli air space during their operations in Syria but that their co-ordination had so far prevented any major escalation or incidents. This is particularly crucial since Russia has just deployed its S-400 missile defence system that can detect and down aircraft up to 400 kilometres away from its base in Tartus, thereby covering all of Syria, Lebanon, Cyprus, south east Turkey, and nearly half of Israel.


Such co-ordination between Russia and Israel, a key US ally in the region, serves to confirm that Turkey’s downing of the Russian fighter plane was a deliberate provocation that had Washington’s fingerprints all over it.
But crucially, the statement was tantamount to an admission of what has long been suspected: that Israel has been intervening covertly in the Syrian conflict. Just last week, Syria reported that Israel had carried out four airstrikes on Syrian government and Hezbollah positions in Syria’s Qalamoun mountains that straddle the border with Lebanon, killing 13 and injuring dozens more.


It was one of more than a dozen Israeli airstrikes against Syria since 2013, supposedly targeting arms shipments to Hezbollah. Hezbollah have played a key role in fighting the ever-shifting alliance of Islamist groups that includes Islamic State, al-Nusra, Jeish al-Fatah and Ahrar al-Sham.
Earlier in November, Israel’s Channel 2 television cited Syrian media reports of an Israel Defense Forces raid near Damascus airport. In September 2014, Israel brought down a Russian-made Syrian warplane over the Golan Heights in the first such incident in three decades....


Last February, a report by the UN Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) in the Golan Heights, submitted to the UN Security Council and buried by the Western media, showed that the IDF had been in regular contact with Syrian rebels, including Islamic State militants, since May 2013.....


In 2012, a secret Pentagon document, later de-classified as a result of pressure from the US NGO Judicial Watch, reported that opposition groups supported by Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US and—covertly—Israel sought the establishment of a Salafist Principality in Eastern Syria [Hasaka and Deir el-Zour], now part of Islamic State-held territory.
The increasingly close relations between the IDF, Islamic State and Al Qaeda along the Golan Heights coincided with the start of oil exploration by US oil company Genie Energy’s Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil & Gas. The IDF has replaced the 45-mile border fence with Syria with a steel barricade consisting of barbed wire, touch sensors, motion detectors, infrared cameras, and ground radar. In October, Yuval Bartov, Afek’s chief geologist, told Channel 2 the company had found significant quantities of oil in the Golan Heights.
Israel’s preparation for a more overt involvement in Syria coincides with its brutal suppression of the Palestinian uprising, which it has sought to equate with Islamist terrorism.


7---NATO plans to bolster Turkey’s air defense at Syrian border
http://www.todayszaman.com/diplomacy_nato-plans-to-bolster-turkeys-air-defense-at-syrian-border_405868.html


8---US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said on Wednesday that Washington rejected the premise that the Turkish government was in league with the militants to smuggle oil, saying it saw no evidence to support such an accusation.


9--Moscow kills Turkstream


10--Turkey Tries to Lure NATO Into War Against Russia
http://smirkingchimp.com/thread/eric-zuesse/65022/turkey-tries-to-lure-nato-into-war-against-russia


Christina Lin, a long-time Western scholarly observer of Turkey’s strategic moves, is becoming alarmed that the increasingly overtly Islamic NATO member Turkey is trying to drag NATO towards war against Russia on behalf of Turkey and other Sunni Islamic powers, especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar. She is disturbed that together, the three Sunni Islamic nations of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, are trying to bring down the non-religious Shiite leader of Syria, Bashar al-Assad, for reasons that actually have nothing to do with NATO’s official purposes.
Lin has served at the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Council, the Department of State, the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and the federally funded Institute for Defense Analyses.


On November 24th, she wrote:
“As NATO member Turkey is transforming from a secular, democratic system to one of an increasingly Islamist and autocratic presidential system under Erdogan, it appears the alliance is also transforming from a value-based alliance of human right, democracy, and rule of law to one that is increasingly interest-based.”
In other words: she is coming to think that these Sunni Islamic powers are having success using their sole NATO representative, Turkey, as their wedge to provoke a Third World War, against Russia and its allies. She opens her commentary by mentioning, though only in passing, Turkey’s recent shoot-down of a Russian bomber....


She continues:
"As [Turkey’s Islamic President] Erdogan embarks on expanding Turkey’s sovereignty through Islamist proxies in the Eastern Mediterranean (e.g., via Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Hamas in Gaza, Salafi Army of Conquest in Syria), continues occupation of EU member Cyprus, and violates EU member Greece’s territorial airspace and waters, his personal ambition is posing a risk for the NATO alliance.”
She concludes:
“As Erdogan continues to goad NATO to stand in solidarity with Turkey and its territorial expansions in the Levant, it appears the world is now entering a dangerous new phase of an increasingly post-western and illiberal world order."...


She quotes former Chairman of NATO’s Military Committee, the retired German General Harald Kujat, as asserting, "Turkey wants to provoke [NATO Article 5 on mutual defence]… Turkey basically wants to drag NATO into this situation because the actual goal of Turkey is to neutralize [euphemism for overthrowing  the non-sectarian Shiite ruler of Syria, Bashar Al] Assad” — to replace Assad with an Islamist Sunni, allied with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, no longer allied with the secular nation of Russia, which stands for separation of church and state (something that’s anathema to all fundamentalist nations, because all fundamentalisms seek rule by God, not by the given nation’s citizenry).


11--As Russia Bombs ISIS, US Bombs Syrian Civilian Power Stations
http://www.activistpost.com/2015/10/as-russia-bombs-isis-us-bombs-syrian-civilian-power-stations.html


In yet another telling episode, the United States has again demonstrated its true position in regards to ISIS and the Russian bombing of the terrorist organization.
As Russian forces drop bombs and missiles on top of ISIS fighters all across Syria, lobbing cruise missiles from the Caspian, regular sortie missions, and combat helicopter attacks against ISIS and other “relatively moderate” cannibals and terrorists, the United States launched a bombing mission of its own against two power plants in Aleppo.
The power plants were located in al-Rudwaniya east of Aleppo and resulted in power outages affecting the Syrian people, adding to the American tradition of bombing civilian infrastructure instead of ISIS and other terrorist targets in Syria. The power outages only further contribute to the misery surrounding the people of Aleppo who have been bombarded by barbarians funded by the United States and NATO, intent of raping and beheading their way through the city and declaring their caliphate of pre-civilization on civilized people.


the U.S. has repeatedly bombed oil refineries, bridges, grain silos, food distribution facilities, and other civilian infrastructure and civilian areas


12--NATO Airstrikes Target Grain Silos In Syria – Defeating ISIS By Starving Syrians
http://www.activistpost.com/2014/09/nato-airstrikes-target-grain-silos-in.html


13--7 Days in May?


Putin’s puny coalition with Iran actually was serious about beating back the jihadists and stabilizing Assad’s regime. Turkey’s shoot-down of the Russian warplane on Nov. 24 was a crude message from Erdogan that success in defeating the jihadists would not be tolerated......


Obama knows what has to happen for this terrorist threat to be truly addressed. The Saudis and Turks have to be told, in no uncertain terms, to stop supporting the jihadists. But that would require extraordinary courage and huge political – perhaps even physical – risk. There is no sign that President Obama dares bite that bullet.....


the U.S. establishment is such that the generals, the arms manufacturers and weapons merchants, the Defense Department, and most of Congress have a very strong say in U.S. foreign policy – and Obama seems powerless to change it.
The model of governing in Washington is a far cry from Russia’s guiding principle of edinonachaliye – by which one supreme authority is in clear control of decision-making on defense and foreign policy.
Even when Obama promises, he often fails to deliver. Think back to what Obama told then-President Dmitry Medvedev when they met in Seoul in March 2012, about addressing Russian concerns over European missile defense. In remarks picked up by camera crews, Obama asked for some “space” until after the U.S. election. Obama can be heard saying, “This is my last election. After my election, I have more flexibility.”


Yet, even after winning reelection, Obama has remained cowed by the influential neocons – even as he has bucked some of their more aggressive demands, such as a massive U.S. bombing campaign against Assad’s military in summer 2013 and bomb-bomb-bombing Iran; instead, in 2014-15, Obama pushed for a negotiated agreement to constrain Iran’s nuclear program.
Ideally, Obama should be able to show some flexibility on Syria during his last year in office, but no one should hold their breath. Obama appears to have deep fears about crossing the neocons or Israel regarding what they want for the Middle East and Eastern Europe.
Besides the neocons’ close ties to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the neocons are intimately connected to the interests of the Military-Industrial Complex, which provides substantial funding for the major think tanks where many neocons hang their hats and churn out new arguments for more world conflict and thus more military spending


14--How Gaddafi’s Ouster Unleashed Terror
https://consortiumnews.com/2015/11/30/how-gaddafis-ouster-unleashed-terror/


15---"Buck passing" Turkish PM refuses to close border
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-gives-the-cold-shoulder-to-us-proposal-to-seal-syria-border.aspx?pageID=238&nID=92016&NewsCatID=352


“With respect to Turkey, I have had repeated conversations with President Erdoğan about the need to close the border between Turkey and Syria,” Obama said during a speech delivered at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development’s (OECD) headquarters in Paris on Dec. 1.

“We’ve seen some serious progress on that front, but there are still some gaps. In particular, there’s about 98 kilometers that are still used as a transit point for foreign fighters and for ISIL to ship out fuel for sale that helps finance their terrorist activities,” he added.


according to the Hürriyet report, it was Turkish officials who “pronounced the specific number of 30,000 troops.”

When making an assessment of the U.S. proposal for Turkish troops to protect the border, Turkish officials said, “To keep the border [secure] through the method you mentioned, we need to pile up 30,000 troops along 98 kilometers and put a watchtower/soldier every three meters,” Hürriyet reported.

Ankara refused the U.S. proposal for two reasons; first, it is not applicable and second, the “opposing side” might adopt a hostile attitude by using the troop build-up as a justification, the daily said


Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has underlined the difficulties and potential complications of a move by Turkey to close the border with Syria, as a report revealed Ankara’s anger over U.S. leadership’s insistence on using Turkish ground forces on the border to accomplish this goal.

“Keeping the entire border with Syria [closed] may come on the agenda as a project but then what will you do about transiting refugees? We have a moral responsibility along this 911-kilometer-long border and it is accepting refugees. We have a strategic responsibility and it is ensuring security of the border. Not having terrorists transition and any negative developments on the Turkey-Syria border are in Turkey’s interest. We have paid the highest price for Daesh’s terrorist activities,” Davutoğlu said on Dec. 3 in response to a question on border security, using the Arabic acronym Daesh to refer to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).


16---Turkey needs to turn a new page on Syria (Obama acknowledges oil transport thru Turkey. Closing border will cut off Turkish supplylines to militants)
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-needs-to-turn-a-new-page-on-syria.aspx?pageID=449&nID=92008&NewsCatID=409
* The oil smuggling by ISIL over the Turkish-Syrian border has also been raised by U.S. President Barack Obama, who said he has “repeatedly” told Erdoğan that he should close the border. Obama particularly mentioned the 98 km band of the Turkish-Syrian border that Turkey has been asking the U.S. to turn into an ISIL-free zone, if not a safe zone.
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkey-needs-to-turn-a-new-page-on-syria.aspx?pageID=449&nID=92008&NewsCatID=409


 It is possible to think that after the Russian plane incident it will now be more difficult to impose a safe zone in northern Syria. As a result, Obama could ask Erdoğan to forget about it and seal the border instead, in order to stop all speculation about jihadists getting assistance from within Turkey.

* Actually sealing the border completely – which is one of the scenarios considered by the Turkish military for some time - could cut the links between certain units in the Turkish security system and their jihadist connections in Syria. Ankara could be asked to secure it as a response to the full solidarity shown by its Western allies.

* If that happens, it would mean an end to Turkey’s Syria policy followed since the outbreak of the civil war there in 2011. It would mean opening a new page with NATO and the EU as a strategic choice.





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