Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Today's links

1---Interview: Michael Hudson, CP

AJR: You have said that QE is fracturing the global economy. What do you mean by that?

Part of the flood of dollar credit is used to buy shares of foreign companies yielding 15 to 20 percent, and foreign bonds. These dollars are turned over to foreign central banks for domestic currency. But central banks are only able to use these dollars to buy U.S. Treasury securities, yielding about 1 percent. When the People’s Bank of China buys U.S. Treasury bonds, it’s financing America’s dual budget and balance-of-payment deficits, both of which stem largely from military encirclement of Eurasia – while letting U.S. investors and the U.S. economy get a free ride.

Instead of buying U.S. Treasury securities, China would prefer to buy American companies, just like U.S. investors are buying Chinese industry. But America’s government won’t permit China even to buy gas station companies. The result is a double standard. Americans feel insecure having Chinese ownership in their companies. It is the same attitude that was directed against Japan in the late 1980s

2--Turkey wants ‘secure line’ created 10km within Syria, including Azaz - deputy PM , RT

A Turkish official said on Tuesday that Ankara would ask its coalition partners, including the US, to take part in a joint ground operation in Syria.

"Turkey is not going to have a unilateral ground operation. We are asking coalition partners that there should be a ground operation. We are discussing this with allies," the official told reporters at a briefing in Istanbul, as cited by Reuters.

"We want a ground operation. If there is a consensus, Turkey will take part. Without a ground operation, it is impossible to stop this war."

3--Turkey wants 10 km long ‘safe-zone” in northern Syria

4--How Far Will The U.S. Go If Turkey Invades Syria?, oil price

Clear indications are emerging in Washington, DC, that the Pentagon is preparing to support a direct mili-tary invasion of Syria by Turkish Armed Forces, despite the Munich accord in the week ending February 13, 2016, which was meant to bring about a ceasefire in Syrian fighting. US officials have been actively en-gaged with those of Turkey and possibly Saudi Arabia in the preparations for ground force attacks on Kurd-ish military formations inside northern Syria, and U.S. Air Force Fairchild A-10 strike aircraft have deployed over northern Syrian territory in early February.

It is understood that the Turkish Government wishes to establish a cordon sanitaire inside Syria, along the Turkish border, to prevent the flow of Kurdish fighters from Syria into Turkey, where they are reportedly supporting the civil war which is now underway in the Kurdish areas of Turkey. ...
The Obama Administration and the Government of Turkish President Erdo?an and Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu appear to have calculated — probably correctly — that the Russian Government would not di-rectly interfere with the assault on Kurdish forces, the YPG [People's Protection Units (Kurdish: Yekîneyên Parastina Gel)] in a move designed to split those forces, driving to a depth of some 25 miles inside Syria.

5--Erdoğan slams UN, US, vows to keep hitting PYD ‘terrorists’

“Russia has showed its [true colors] by standing next to the murderer and tyrant [Bashar] al-Assad who has caused the death of almost 500,000 people. At the moment, [Russia] is close to committing a very serious crime against humanity and a war crime with the bombs that it has been showering now. What is the United Nations saying? ‘If it is confirmed, this is a war crime,’” he said. “What more are you looking for? Here, hospitals are being bombed and didn’t you see those photographs showing incubators? Send your staff and let them make the required examination there,” he said....

Erdoğan has criticized the United States also for not backing Turkey’s proposals to establish a no-fly zone in Syria.

Erdoğan said a no-fly would have prevented Russia’s air campaign in the region and thwarted thousands of civilian deaths.

“Oh America! You did not say ‘yes’ to a ‘no-fly zone.’ Now the Russian planes are running wild over there, and thousands and tens of thousands of victims are dying,” he said. “Weren’t we coalition forces? Weren’t we to act together?”

6--New Turkish Constitution talks collapse due to presidential system row

7--All opposition groups linked with al Nusra

Kerry’s language suggests that those other “legitimate opposition groups” are not part of Nusra’s military structure but are separate from it both organizationally and physically. But in fact, there is no such separation in either of the crucial provinces of Idlib and Aleppo.

Information from a wide range of sources, including some of those the United States has been explicitly supporting, makes it clear that every armed anti-Assad organization unit in those provinces is engaged in a military structure controlled by Nusra militants. All of these rebel groups fight alongside the Nusra Front and coordinate their military activities with it.

This reality even slips into mainstream U.S. news accounts on occasion, such as Anne Barnard’s New York Times article last Saturday about the proposed Syrian cease-fire in which she reported, “With the proviso that the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, can still be bombed, Russia puts the United States in a difficult position; the insurgent groups it supports cooperate in some places with the well-armed, well-financed Nusra in what they say is a tactical alliance of necessity against government forces.”

At least since 2014 the Obama administration has armed a number of Syrian rebel groups even though it knew the groups were coordinating closely with the Nusra Front, which was simultaneously getting arms from Turkey and Qatar. The strategy called for supplying TOW anti-tank missiles to the “Syrian Revolutionaries Front” (SRF) as the core of a client Syrian army that would be independent of the Nusra Front.

However, when a combined force of Nusra and non-jihadist brigades including the SRF captured the Syrian army base at Wadi al-Deif in December 2014, the truth began to emerge. The SRF and other groups to which the United States had supplied TOW missiles had fought under Nusra’s command to capture the base

8--Will the Turkish army be deployed in Syria?


9--U.S. Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels

"Since then, the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels on AK-47 assault rifles and tank-destroying missiles.

"...Months later, Mr. Obama gave his approval for the C.I.A. to begin directly arming and training the rebels from a base in Jordan, amending the Timber Sycamore program to allow lethal assistance. Under the new arrangement, the C.I.A. took the lead in training, while Saudi Arabia’s intelligence agency, the General Intelligence Directorate, provided money and weapons, including TOW anti-tank missiles.

"...The C.I.A. training program is separate from another program to arm Syrian rebels, one the Pentagon ran that has since ended. That program was designed to train rebels to combat Islamic State fighters in Syria, unlike the C.I.A.’s program, which focuses on rebel groups fighting the Syrian military.

"...While the intelligence alliance is central to the Syria fight and has been important in the war against Al Qaeda, a constant irritant in American-Saudi relations is just how much Saudi citizens continue to support terrorist groups, analysts said.

“The more that the argument becomes, ‘We need them as a counterterrorism partner,’ the less persuasive it is,” said William McCants, a former State Department counterterrorism adviser and the author of a book on the Islamic State. “If this is purely a conversation about counterterrorism cooperation, and if the Saudis are a big part of the problem in creating terrorism in the first place, then how persuasive of an argument is it?”

"...The job Mr. Brennan once held in Riyadh is, more than the ambassador’s, the true locus of American power in the kingdom. Former diplomats recall that the most important discussions always flowed through the C.I.A. station chief."

10--Russian Diplomat Drops a Bombshell: US Expected ISIS to Seize Damascus by October, RI

In an article in a British newspaper Russia's ambassador to the UK reveals the Russians were told by the Western powers that after the US proclaimed a no-fly zone ISIS would capture Damascus

Why however would the US tell the Russians that they expected the Islamic State to seize Damascus by October?

That is not a difficult question to answer.

No-one in the early summer thought there was any likelihood the Russians would intervene militarily in Syria.  The US probably thought it was not risking anything by telling Moscow its military plans and what their likely consequences would be.

11--Moscow scuppers US coalition plans for no-fly zone in Syria--from Russian Insider

Russia’s bombing of anti-regime rebels in Syria has been described as a disaster for the US-led coalition’s efforts to destroy Isis, the Islamist militant group, but the Kremlin’s real challenge to Washington is in the skies above the war-torn country.

Alongside a modest Latakia-based contingent of two dozen Su-24 Fencer and Su-25 Frogfoot jets — planes designed to strike land targets — Moscow has deployed assets which render the prospect of no-fly zones enforced by the US or its allies over Syria impossible to enact...

Just weeks ago, after months of diplomacy, officials were close to an agreement on enforcing aerial safe-zones to end the Assad regime’s bombing of civilians in northern and southern Syria, according to diplomats and military officials in the US-led coalition. 

The agreement was based on Jordanian and Turkish plans presented earlier this year.

Many officials believe an imminent move to ramp up coalition activity in Syria precipitated the Kremlin’s sudden intervention late last month.

“The ultimate reason all this is happening is because of the renewed focus on Syria and the need for some sort of political solution there — something which we thought we could achieve by enforcing no-fly zones, safe zones,” said one senior European diplomat.

But any hopes of military co-ordination with Russia to achieve this, even in the wake of its disruptive deployment, are swiftly being dashed.


Deployment of S-300s — or other similarly sophisticated systems, also known as triple-digit Sams — has long been one of the Pentagon’s biggest fears in the Middle East. The S-300 system, which has an operating range of 150km, is capable of striking down all but the most sophisticated stealth aircraft. It means most missions flown by Washington’s coalition allies — Jordan, for example, uses F-16 jets — are now highly vulnerable. Even the UK’s deployment of Tornados and Typhoons at the Royal Air Force’s base at Akrotiri, Cyprus, is threatened by the missiles.

“The Russian forces now in place make it very, very obvious that any kind of no-fly zone on the Libyan model imposed by the US and allies is now impossible, unless the coalition is actually willing to shoot down Russian aircraft,” says Justin Bronk, research analyst at the Royal United Services Institute.

“The Russians are not playing ball at deconfliction — they are just saying, ‘keep out of our way’. The coalition’s operations in Syria will be vastly more complex from a risk assessment point of view and from a mission-planning point of view.”


For Mr Putin, US and Nato “no-fly zones” have additional resonance too.

“Putin was deeply shaken by the overthrow of Gaddafi in Libya,” Mr Kokcharov notes. “There is something at a personal level that is motivating this.”

For Russia military planners, no-fly zones — seen in the West as a measure of humanitarian mercy — are often seen as tools of regime change.

12--Turkey pushes for ground invasion of Syria

Asked what the goal of such a ground operation would be, the Turkish official replied, to remove “all terror groups from Syria,” adding that Turkey included in this category not only the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but also Syrian Kurdish forces and the Syrian government itself.

While insisting on the need for the “international coalition” to participate in any invasion, the Turkish official left open the possibility of unilateral action if this failed to materialize. “Of course, it is difficult to reckon what could happen in 10 days,” he said. “If conditions change, there might be some options.”

These statements came as Turkey continued its bombardment of northern Syria with long-range artillery for a fourth consecutive day. The target of the Turkish fire is the YPG, or People’s Protection Units, the Syrian Kurdish militia


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