Sunday, February 18, 2018

Today's Links

1-- U.S. calls for action to halt Iran's growing 'network of proxies'

U.S. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster called on Saturday for more forceful action to halt Iran’s development of what he said was an increasingly powerful network of proxy armies in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Iraq.

“So the time is now, we think, to act against Iran,” he told the Munich Security Conference, calling on U.S. allies to halt trade that was helping underwrite the expansion of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, the most powerful military and economic force in the Islamic Republic.

2--- Damascus, Syria (4:05 P.M) The Syrian government have reached an agreement with the Kurdish forces in northwest Syria to officially enter and defend Afrin region, Kurdish media sources reported. 

3-- There is no justice

Most shocking to me, was the destruction of Iraq’s water and sewage treatment plants by US air strikes.
Their destruction resulted in epidemics of cholera and other water-born diseases. Children were the primary victims. The UN asserted that over 550,000 Iraqi children died as a result of contaminated water. US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright later notoriously asserted that these deaths were ‘a price worth paying.’ I call them a war crime.

Journalists like myself who asserted that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction were fired or marginalized. I was blacklisted at CNN after the White House told the network to fire me at once. All the ‘presstitutes’, who acted as government boosters for the war, were promoted and lauded. Welcome to the new Soviet media....

If this war crime was being properly litigated, Washington would likely end up being assessed something like $100 billion in damages just to replace physical infrastructure destroyed in the two wars, never mind the deaths of so many Iraqi civilians. Iran would also have a claim against Iraq’s western and Arab backers for Baghdad’s 1980-1988 war of aggression against Iran that caused an estimated one million Iranian casualties.

4--  Turkey turning its eyes to implementation of deals with US on Syria: Erdoğan

“Holding negotiations is surely valuable but we are most interested in results. Our main interest is in implementation [of the agreements] and developments in the field. In this process, the ones who need to correct their mistakes and to pull themselves together is our [U.S.] counterpart,” Erdoğan said in an address at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) provincial convention in Ankara on Feb. 18....

“A terror organization cannot be defeated through the support of another terror organization. We told them that they would be remembered notoriously because of this alliance. We also said they shouldn’t deny the weapons delivered and training given [to the YPG]. This policy should be abandoned immediately,” Erdoğan added.

“We have enough sources and capabilities to fight all kinds of terrorists, as long as no soldiers from our allied countries stand with them,” he also said

5--Mad Dog meets The Sultan

“We concur with Turkey on the need for locals taking control of the liberated areas. We are going to work with Turkey on locals taking control, and with Turkey on every other irritant, diversion, or distraction,” Mattis said.

We have many areas of absolute concurrence too,” Mattis told reporters en route to Washington, according to a statement from the Department of Defense.

6--Outta gas?  Saudis look to nuclear power

7--Israel looks to support Kurdish statehood 

Iran is now closer than ever to securing a land corridor that will connect it to the Mediterranean through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. This corridor will expand its sphere of influence from the Strait of Hormuz in the east to the Mediterranean in the west, and will ensure that Israel is surrounded by land and sea.
Israel would do well to eye Rojava with interest, and not only to confront Iran’s penetration. Rojava and Iraqi Kurdistan are the only entities in the Middle East, apart from Israel, that enjoy open, secular, and liberal rule granting considerable rights to the opposition, women, and minorities. This is particularly notable in a region where radical and totalitarian ideologies prevail.

Should Israel strengthen its relationship with the Syrian Kurds, its gains would extend beyond strategic, political, and security benefits. Rojava’s natural resources, especially its oil, can contribute to Israel’s energy supply and be invested in projects such as an oil pipeline through Jordan to Israel. US troops are stationed at several military bases in Rojava, which could offer an alternative to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey. Kurdish leaders regularly stress that US forces will remain in their areas for a long time, indicating that this is not an “understanding of necessity” dictated by provisional circumstances.
For the past six years, Israel has followed a policy of non-intervention in Syria except when the security of its northern borders is challenged. Its efforts to strike alliances with effective groups on the ground have failed. Tehran is clearly determined to establish a foothold on Israel’s northern border and set up bases for Hezbollah, which would amount to a Syrian version of the Lebanese militia. It appears abundantly clear that the Kurds are the most qualified, if not the only, candidate in Syria on which Israel can count for support.
Even if Netanyahu backs the efforts of the Kurdish people to achieve their own state in Iraq, it goes without saying that the Israeli government should listen attentively to former IDF deputy chief, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, who refuses to label the PKK a terrorist organization. Israel should act swiftly to support the emerging Kurdish region in Syria and draw a distinction between its relations with Ankara on one side and the Kurds on the other – an effort that has become necessary in light of Erdoğan’s persistent advocacy for Hamas...

Thus, any Israeli influence in Rojava could be valuable. Iraq is ruled by Tehran’s allies, and Turkey is cozying up to Iran. It is very much in Israel’s interest to have a reliable and trustworthy friend in the new Syria. If Jerusalem hopes, together with its ally in Washington, to prevent Tehran from establishing its long-sought land corridor, it will need to strengthen its influence in the Syrian Kurdish region to serve as a wall blocking Iran’s ambitions.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Today's links

1--Mueller indicts some Russians; clears Trump campaign of collusion

A recurring pattern of the Russiagate investigation is that whenever pressure increases on the FBI and on Special Counsel Mueller an indictment appears.

This happened in October when following the FBI’s admission that the Trump Dossier – the keystone in the “evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – could not be verified and the Wall Street Journal called for Special Counsel Mueller to resign, indictments against Paul Manafort, Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos appeared.
It happened again in December when growing demands from Congress – from Senator Lindsey Graham in particular – for another Special Counsel to be appointed were followed by the indictment of Michael Flynn.

It has now happened again...
The second thing to say about the indictment is that as even Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has admitted, it makes no claim that any US citizen or any member of the Trump campaign in any way colluded with Russia or with any of the persons named in the indictment either before or after the election....

Rosenstein was very clear about this in the press conference he held directly following the publication of the indictment
Now, there is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity. There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election…..

ROSENSTEIN: Again, there’s no allegation in this indictment that any American had any knowledge. And the nature of the scheme was the defendants took extraordinary steps to make it appear that they were ordinary American political activists, even going so far as to base their activities on a virtual private network here in the United States so, if anybody traced it back to that first jump, they appeared to be Americans....

there is nothing here that ties any of the individuals or entities named by Rosenstein to the Russian government.
The arch conspirator is said to be a Russian businessman called Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is alleged to have masterminded and funded the whole project.

Prigozhin has in fact long been identified in Russia as the owner of the notorious Internet Research Agency, LLC, the supposed Russian “troll farm” operating out of a nondescript building in St. Petersburg (shown in caption photograph).
It has moreover often been suggested in Russia that Internet Research Agency, LLC, is Prigozhin’s own personal project....

The social media advertisements mentioned in the indictment appear to have been par for the course during the election, and to have attracted no special interest.
The indictment fails to give numbers for any of the rallies which the persons who have been indicted allegedly tried to organise via social media; that suggests that the number of persons who attended these rallies was insignificant.

The whole project seems to have cost around $1.2 million a month, spent it appears mostly on salaries in Russia, a trivial amount compared to the $2.4 billion spent in the 2016 US Presidential election as a whole, of which $768 million was spent by Hillary Clinton’s campaign, and $398 million by Donald Trump’s...

ROSENSTEIN: Well, haven’t I (ph) identified for you the allegations in the indictment? There’s no allegation in the indictment of any effect on the outcome of the election....
, the latest indictment to have come from Special Counsel Mueller’s team, far from causing problems for President Trump, actually helps him.

In the one part of the Russiagate conspiracy theory in which some evidence of Russian activity exists – the part relating to social media – it turns out that President Trump’s campaign was not involved, and those members of his campaign who got drawn into the activities of Prigozhin and his people were completely innocent dupes.

As for the activity itself, the indictment shows that it was carried out on far too small a scale and in far too amateur and disorganised a way for it to have had any impact on the election, and the US authorities do not claim that it did....

no evidence of collusion between anyone in the Trump campaign and Russia appears in the latest indictment, and that the activities catalogued in the indictment can have had no effect on the outcome of the election, and the US authorities do not say that they did.

2--  Russian men’s hockey squad trounces US 4-0 in Pyeongchang 

3--S. Korea all smiles at Olympics, but troops stay ready in massive SE Asia drills

4--The truth about those Maidan snipers

5--Mueller’s Investigation A Farce: Files Joke Indictment Against Russian Trolls

r As this author previously noted, the definition of Russian interference has shifted from unsubstantiated claims of Russian hacking, to Russian collusion, and finally to Russian social media trolling...

The New York Daily News put the matter most bluntly: “Hillary Clinton camp now paying online trolls to attack anyone who disparages her online.” The LA Times described the active election interference: “It is meant to appear to be coming organically from people and their social media networks in a groundswell of activism, when in fact it is highly paid and highly tactical.”

Despite the millions of dollars poured into a pro-Clinton ‘outrage machine’ bent on her support, Clinton inexplicably lost the election to Donald Trump, a fact which still seems not to have sunk in for the former First Lady and Secretary of State.

But why bring up this apparently old news, in the face of Mueller’s latest mockery of the American judicial process and the First Amendment? Because it reveals in the words of the legacy press that by definition Mueller’s circus has zero interest in campaign or election integrity and is solely interested in getting scalps for Clinton and for the unelected powers she represented....

Despite obvious hypocrisy given the actions of Shareblue and David Brock’s Correct The Record, corporate media ignored all double standards and attempted to report on “Russian twitter trolling” with a straight face. Business Insider wrote: “Russian Twitter Trolls Tried To Bury Or Spin Negative Trump News Just Before Election,” as if that wasn’t what Correct The Record spent millions on doing for the benefit of Clinton....

The double standards applied to Clinton for her benefit goes beyond hypocrisy. Many have claimed that constantly metamorphosing allegations of Russian interference represents an insidious effort to silence dissent and anti-establishment political discourse: for example, by turning third-party, anti-establishment or conservative voices into “Russians” by proxy of their opposition to Clinton.

By converting legitimate American free speech into insidious “Russian bots,” a pretext is created to silence dissent across the board. Without the Russian interference circus, the efforts to breach the First Amendment would be overtly authoritarian and would be inexcusable even by the most corrupt establishment media standards.

The results of such a clamp-down on free and effective speech have manifested in censorship crackdowns across large social media platforms including Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook, with Twitter admitting to actively censoring roughly 48% of tweets that included the “#DNCEmails” hashtag. It seems anyone with an opinion the establishment doesn’t like is liable to be memory-holed

6--Insane Anti-Trumpists Call For Even More Escalations Against A Nuclear Superpower

7--Strike Two: US Again Launches 'Defense' Attack on Russian and Syrian Forces in Syria

8-- US Again Launches 'Defense' Attack on Russian and Syrian Forces in Syria

For the second time in a week, US military forces occupying northeast Syria have attacked Syrian government forces, blowing up a Russian-made T-72 battle tank on Saturday. According to a statement made today by Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of US Air Forces Central Command, US forces saw a Russian tank in Syria that "took a shot at us" and the US side called in an airstrike in "self-defense." ...

US actions in northeastern Syria make it clear that Washington intends to carve out a large chunk of Syrian territory to control, with its proxy Kurd forces acting as boots on the ground. The name of the game is increasingly clear: deny the Syrian government the ability to consolidate its control over large parts of the country now that ISIS is defeated. ...
The purpose? Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made it clear that the ultimate US goal in Syria was, as it has been for more than ten years, regime change.

9--Mueller Indictment - The "Russian Influence" Is A Commercial Marketing Scheme

10--A train crash between Turkey and the US put on hold 

Just hours after the Mattis-Canikli meeting, Tillerson met Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu in an unusual setup, with no translator or note-taker present in the room. It was not clear whether the Turks pushed for such a set up – in which Çavuşoğlu did the translation for Erdoğan – or whether Tillerson decided for it. The U.S. media has been quick to criticize Tillerson for breaking protocol by going to such a critical meeting alone.

The next day presented a peculiarly optimistic picture in Ankara. There we saw Tillerson and Çavuşoğlu almost completing each other’s sentences in front of the cameras, while announcing that the countries have “come to terms” to normalize ties. Both politicians referred to Manbij, the Syrian town on the west bank of the Euphrates River, as the main priority area to work on. Manbij is currently controlled by the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which is largely composed of YPG fighters.

Tillerson’s remarks at the joint press conference were full of powerful promises, as he underlined that the U.S. and Turkey would no longer be “acting alone” in Syria. Going forward it will be interesting to watch how Washington is going to juggle a common vision with the Turks in Syria while still relying on the human resources of the YPG Kurds on the battlefield. Tillerson defined Manbij as a strategic spot for U.S. interests in Syria and said it should be under the control of the global coalition
The reported Turkish proposal to push the YPG out of Manbij and in their place station Turkish troops together with U.S. troops will be a hard one for the Trump administration to sell to U.S. commanders on the ground. Not only would this mean a dramatic shift in the U.S. warfare strategy, there is also little trust in the Turkish military at CENTCOM, which has been running the show in Syria.

11-- Turkey, US revisit long abandoned strategic partnership

An intense, week-long series of diplomatic exchanges between Turkey and the United States has yielded a fresh mechanism tasked to resolving outstanding issues in the bilateral relationship. To this end, U.S President Donald Trump’s national security advisor H.R. McMaster met President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s chief foreign policy advisor İbrahim Kalın last weekend in Istanbul; and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli held a meeting in Brussels on Feb. 14.

The last leg of these diplomatic sessions was undertaken by U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson, who paid an important visit to the Turkish capital on Feb. 15 and 16. In Ankara, Tillerson held more than a three-hour long meeting with Erdoğan and later held a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.
Following a long two-year course of troubled bilateral ties, the outcome is that Turkey and the U.S. have decided to stop the rot with a joint statement that stresses the “Turkey-U.S. strategic partnership.”

“The Republic of Turkey and the U.S., as allies and strategic partners, reaffirm their mutual and unequivocal commitment to each other’s security and defense. As Allies within NATO and strategic partners for over 65 years, both nations consider their relations as vital to furthering their shared goals and interests, as well as to the promotion of democracy, rule of law and individual freedoms throughout the world,” read the joint statement.

Revisiting the pillars of the Turkish-U.S. partnership, the joint statement also admits that certain issues need to be resolved through the establishment of what it calls “a results-oriented mechanism.”
This mechanism will be activated within the first half of March.
There are many issues to address, though it seems the disputes stemming from Syria will gain priority. The mechanism will first seek to overcome a potential conflict between Turkey and the U.S. in the Manbij area of Syria where the latter’s troops are stationed alongside the People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara sees as a terror group.

To this end, Turkey has proposed a joint Turkey-U.S. control of Manbij but only after the YPG has fully withdrawn from the city to the eastern Euphrates. Tillerson did not respond to this proposal but stressed that this strategic city of Syria should be kept under the control of allied forces.

It should not be forgotten that Manbij was one of the first spots in Syria liberated from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) by the U.S.-backed YPG troops in early 2016. At that time, the U.S. administration had promised Turkey that YPG elements would be pulled back to the eastern Euphrates once Manbij was freed from the jihadists. Unfortunately, this promise was never fulfilled.
It can therefore be said that Turkey and the U.S. are now addressing one of the core elements of strain in their ties. During the two years of strain, the U.S. has been training, equipping and arming the YPG, which has control of approximately a quarter of the entire Syrian territory, and could seek a form of autonomy.

The YPG has become an existential threat for Turkey, which is why the Turkish military launched “Operation Olive Branch” in Syria’s Afrin district and announced that Manbij was next on the list.

12--Tillerson declares US-Turkey relations in “crisis”

13--Marx’s analysis of the laws of capital and the share market crisis

14-- Indictment of Russian nationals used to campaign for censorship and war

15--NYT--Turkey and U.S. in Talks on Worsening Syria Crisis

“We’re not going to act alone any longer. We’re not going to be the U.S. doing one thing and Turkey doing another,” Mr. Tillerson said. “We’re going to act together from this point forward. We’re going to lock arms. We’re going to work through the issues that are causing difficulties and we’re going to resolve them and we’re going to move forward....

The Trump administration has also been perturbed by Mr. Erdogan’s creeping authoritarianism, his increasingly cozy relations with Moscow, his security detail’s brazen attack in Washington on peaceful protesters, and Turkey’s arrests of American citizens and State Department employees...
Mr. Tillerson’s visit is part of a flurry of high-level meetings between top American and Turkish officials in recent days. In Brussels on Thursday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with his Turkish counterpart, while the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, met on Sunday in Istanbul with Turkey’s senior presidential adviser, Ibrahim Kalin.....

With the Iraqi Army in shambles, the Americans reached out to the Kurdish militias, the only force in the region not aligned with Iran that was able and eager to fight. The Americans knew that their use of Kurdish forces might one day lead to a reckoning with Baghdad and Ankara, but felt they had little choice.

In Iraq, that day came in October, when the Iraqi army attacked the oil-rich and ethnically divided city of Kirkuk, driving Kurdish forces out. In Syria, the trouble has only just started.
American officials have tried to mollify the Turks by insisting that their support of the Kurds is limited in time and resources. But news that Washington was preparing to create a 30,000-strong Syrian border force out of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or Y.P.G. — a plan since disavowed by the Trump administration — was the “last straw,” Fahrettin Altun, a columnist for a pro-government newspaper, Daily Sabah, wrote Thursday. That announcement directly precipitated Turkey’s military offensive against Kurdish militias in the enclave of Afrin in western Syria, Mr. Altun wrote.

Turkey views the Y.P.G. as an arm of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or P.K.K., an insurgent group in Turkey that has carried out attacks here for decades. The Turkish view of the connection between the two groups was bolstered this week by an American intelligence assessment equating them and concluding they “probably will seek some form of autonomy” — exactly what Turkey fears.

The last time Mr. Tillerson was in Ankara, the Turkish news media was in a frenzy about a leaked phone record that to them suggested American collusion in the 2016 coup attempt, an accusation American officials found almost laughable. This time, newspapers were filled with references to the “Ottoman slap.” Public expressions of anti-American sentiment here have become routine and intense since 2016.

In an indication of just how far apart the two sides remain, Mr. Cavusoglu said that Mr. Tillerson had promised that the Y.P.G. would soon leave the strategically important city of Manbij.
“Once the Y.P.G. leaves there, we will have trust,” Mr. Cavusoglu said. “This is a commitment that the United States of America has made to us and we will be talking about how this implementation will be made.”

In his own remarks, Mr. Tillerson would say only that security around Manbij was “a topic of discussion going forward.”

Friday, February 16, 2018

Today's Links

I do not have to rely on mere inference. I know from a source well placed in the intelligence community that Brennan was peddling the Steele memo and had no independent alternative source for such information. In fact, the intel backing up the audacious claims of Brennan and DNI Chief James Clapper was so weak that only a hand picked group of analysts were allowed to review and write up their analysis of that material.

“It is clear that the United States has some strategy which I believe entails staying in Syria forever with its armed forces… They are gearing up for separating a huge part of Syria from the rest of the country, violating Syria’s sovereignty of territorial integrity. There they will create quasi-local authorities, will try to create autonomy based on the Kurds,” Lavrov told Euronews

The Russian Foreign Minister has added that the US aims to entrench militarily in Syria with an ultimate goal of staying there "for ages." He stressed that Washington has deployed its forces in the war-torn country without a sanction from the United Nations of a request from the legitimate Syrian government in Damascus.

Abandoning the YPG completely and withdrawing from Syria is not plausible, not when the United States has limited options on the ground, which will be particularly important for the stabilization and reconstruction of the country and not when the regional security architecture is in flux. That would be reckless and irresponsible. Further, a PKK and YPG separation is implausible at this stage. Even if the two groups were to splinter somehow, that would not register among Turkish policymakers, as it misses the crux of the problem from their perspective: Kurdish secessionism and state-building that is driven and dominated by the PKK, its affiliate groups and cadres, no matter their shape or form.

Containing the crisis (and the YPG) is possible though, at least until Turkey and the PKK revisit the 2014 peace process that could still be revitalized and provide a lasting solution. The United States can prevent Syrian Kurdistan from becoming a one-party, YPG dominated statelet, and that requires a greater embrace of good governance and institution-building in order for it to deploy a proactive, forceful strategy that oversees Syrian Kurdistan’s political development and ensures the YPG does not monopolize and appropriate local institutions, the economy, and reconstruction aid.

Politics and security overlap. Turkey, for its part, must realize that its incursions not only further radicalize its Kurdish population and the PKK’s support bases, but also risks unifying otherwise divided Kurdish groups in Syria. Turkey’s incursion may end up positioning the PKK as the champion of Kurdish nationalism in the region, to the detriment of other Kurdish groups in the region that Turkey and the West have historically partnered with, particularly in Iraqi Kurdistan. Moving forward, the United States must aim to repeat history by establishing a political strategy for Syria’s Kurds in much the same way it did with Iraq’s Kurds, lest that political vacuum is filled by its rivals.

9--Why a bloody nose would fail

Beyond the immediate loss of human life and property, there are the long-term ripple effects.  A war in Northeast Asia would affect the world’s second, third and 12th largest economies—

China, Japan, and South Korea—and throw the global economy into a tailspin. Moreover, a war that started because of U.S. action could lead to the collapse of the U.S.-South Korea alliance and the loss of U.S. standing and credibility in Northeast Asia. Washington would be seen as gambling with our allies’ security, particularly as the Trump administration has yet to articulate the military and political objectives, how a military strike would achieve them, the triggering events for an attack, the parameters of military action, and how to mitigate against a North Korean or Chinese military response.

If the U.S. attacked without notifying our allies or over their objections, it would play into Kim Jong-un’s goal of driving a wedge between the U.S., South Korea and Japan. An attack would also feed into Beijing and Moscow’s narrative that Washington, not Pyongyang, is the source of regional instability and tension, and make it more difficult for Washington to ensure future Chinese and Russian cooperation on pressuring North Korea.

Notes---- "Israel would welcome another state in the region that shares its concerns about the rising power of Iran, including the threat of Iranian-backed Shia militias in Iraq," says Frantzman. "Reports have also indicated that oil from Kurdistan is purchased by Israel

Indeed, it was just this week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “the Kurds have been and will continue to be reliable and long-term allies of Israel since they are, like us, a minority group in the region.”

He added that the referendum is “the legitimate efforts of the Kurdish people to attain a state of its own.”

n a bid to stave off the influence of neighboring anti-Zionist Arab countries, Higgins explained, Israel began creating an “alliance of the peripheries.”

“In order to undermine the idea of a united pan-Arab socialist state,” he said, one that supports the Palestinian struggle, “Israel (sought) to make ties with non-Arab Muslim actors.”

That policy of undermining pan-Arabism, which, according to Higgins, has expanded now into undermining the “Axis of Resistance” — that is, Iran, Syria, as well as Lebanese and Palestinian resistance movements — explains Israel’s underlying motive for supporting Iraqi Kurds.
Indeed, it was also this month that Israeli General Yair Golan openly said that an independent Kurdish region in Iraq would stem the influence of Iran.
“Given Iran’s presence in the east and instability in the region, a solid, stable, coherent Kurdish entity in the middle of this quagmire is not a bad idea,” the general stated during an event at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.


Damascus has also urged the UN to press the US to leave, especially following the successful defeat of the main IS forces. The US, however, has stated that it may remain in Syria indefinitely to counter what it describes as Iranian influence and to secure “post-Assad leadership” for the country.
Recent developments indicate that the US might be effectively shifting towards partitioning Syria altogether, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned earlier on Wednesday.
“It’s very likely that the Americans have taken a course of dividing the country. They just gave up their assurances, given to us, that the only goal of their presence in Syria – without an invitation of the legitimate government – was to defeat Islamic State and the terrorists,” Lavrov stated.
“Now, they are saying that they will keep their presence until they make sure a steady process of a political settlement in Syria starts, which will result in regime change.”
Putin cohen
Russian Military: US-led Coalition Struck Syrian Troops Conducting Operation Against ISIS Cells In Deir Ezzor PRovince
Afrin operation?

After Nine Months, Only Stale Crumbs in Russia Inquiry
Exposing The Man Behind The Curtain
Throwing a Curveball at ‘Intelligence Community Consensus’ on Russia
Leaked NSA Report Is Short on Facts, Proves Little in ‘Russiagate’ Case
The idea tha
Just a reminder that in the infamous audio tape of Sy Hersh, he explicitly declared the entire Russiagate nonsense to be a CIA disinformation campaign run by Brennan. I believe he also described the NSA head as an "f'ing moron."
The fun part is this nonsense: "a cyber campaign to disrupt and discredit the U.S. presidential race." Absolutely zero evidence has been produced to back that up on any level, let alone tying it to the Russian government or Putin.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Today's Links

"The US government has been instrumental in the growth of Daesh and terrorism in the Middle East. Its misadventures and illegal interventions across the region, especially Iraq, Libya, Lebanon, Afghanistan and Syria, are destabilizing and have had disastrous consequences for these countries and the region."  Alireza Miryousefi, a spokesman for Iran's UN mission

"The US decision on military intervention in Syria was illegitimate and unilateral under the pretext of fighting the Daesh terrorist organization, then Washington declared that it wants to establish military bases to preserve the strategic security and the security of its allies and later on it made clear that they are in Syria to create armed militias which will control oil, gas and water resources and establish a mini-state." Bashar Ja’afari, Syria’s ambassador to the UN

1-- When Spies Turn into TV 'Experts'

In September 2016, the two men reportedly were involved in obtaining information on Page and it has also been suggested that Brennan sought and obtained raw intelligence from British, Polish, Dutch and Estonian intelligence services, which might have motivated FBI’s James Comey to investigate the Trump associates. Brennan and Clapper, drawing on intelligence resources and connections, might have helped the FBI build a fabricated case against Trump....

Brennan has behaved predictably in his new role. In his first appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday he said that the Steele dossier did “not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessment that was presented to President Obama…” which is a lie.  He denounced the release of the so-called “Nunes memo” by the House Intelligence Committee because it was “exceptionally partisan,” which is true, and because it exposes secrets, which it does not...
Brennan is also a leader of the blame Russia movement. He has claimed without providing any evidence that Russia “brazenly interfered” in the 2016 election and he can be counted upon to be yet one more anti-Russian voice on the mainstream media.
Brennan, who was hated by much of the CIA’s rank-and-file during his tenure as director, does not have much of a reputation for truth-telling. He lied  about how the Agency under his leadership tried to spy on and disrupt the Senate’s investigation into CIA torture.
He was also the driving force behind the Obama administration “kill list” of U.S. citizens selected for assassination. Concerns that Brennan will represent the Agency’s viewpoint on NBC News are largely irrelevant as the network should have instead considered his credibility and judgment before hiring him

2--The Russian Doping Scandal and how the IOC betrayed the Olympic Movement

Twelve days ago, shortly after the Court of Arbitration for Sport (‘CAS’) cleared 28 Russian athletes of the doping allegations which had been made against them, I expressed the hope that sanity would prevail and that the International Olympic Committee would reconsider its decision to exclude some of these athletes from the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

After all the International Olympic Committee’s own Schmid commission had reported that there was no proof of a government organised state sponsored doping conspiracy in Russia, and since the athletes had been cleared of the doping allegations there seemed no reason to exclude them.
In the event sanity – or at least justice – did not prevail.  Not only did the International Olympic Committee refuse to allow the cleared athletes to attend the PyeongChang Games, but Thomas Bach – the IOC President, who is himself a lawyer – not only criticised CAS’s decision in intemperate terms but actually called for CAS to be reorganized...

Bach then went on to insinuate that the 28 Russian athletes who had been cleared by CAS might not be clean after all
……[the absence of CAS sanctions does not mean that the Russian athletes are entitled to receive an invitation from the IOC] because receiving this invitation is a privilege of clean Russian athletes

5-- Will the US Invade Venezuela?

A military attack on Venezuela from its Colombian and Brazilian borders is not far fetched. In January, the NY Times asked, “Should the US military invade Venezuela?” President Trump said the US is considering US military forceagainst Venezuela. His chief of staff, John Kelly, was formerly the general in charge of Southcom. Tidd has claimed the crisis, created in large part by the economic war against Venezuela, requires military action for humanitarian reasons.
War preparations are already underway in Colombia, which plays the role of Israel for the US in Latin America. The coup government in Brazil, increased its military budget 36 percent, and participated in Operation: America United, the largest joint military exercise in Latin American history. It was one of four military exercises by the US with Brazil, Colombia and Peru in Latin America in 2017. The US Congress ordered the Pentagon to develop military contingencies for Venezuela in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.
While there is opposition to US military bases, James Patrick Jordan explains, on our radio show, the US has military bases in Colombia and the Caribbean and military agreements with countries in the region; and therefore, Venezuela is already surrounded.
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson arrived in Ankara on late Feb. 15 to hold talks with senior Turkish officials, including President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, a day after Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis met Defense Minister Nurettin Canikli in Brussels.
“I believe we are finding common ground and there are areas of uncommon ground, where sometimes war just gives you bad alternatives to choose from,” Mattis told reporters on the sidelines of a NATO meeting after his meeting with Canikli....
Ignoring Ankara’s concerns, U.S. President Donald Trump in May 2017 signed a decree to allow the armament of the YPG, adding more fuel to ties already strained over Washington’s reluctance in cooperating for the extradition of Fethullah Gülen, the mastermind of the July 2016 coup attempt....
According to Canikli, Mattis suggested that the U.S. could dissociate the YPG from the PKK and could even let it fight against the PKK. “I told him that this is not a realistic approach. The YPG is part of the PKK and it’s impossible that they would fight each other,” the Turkish minister said.
Canikli made  clear that Turkey’s demand from its ally is to “end its cooperation with the YPG and to stand with Turkey against its existentialist terror threats.”...
During the meeting, the U.S. side expressed concerns that the Turkish army’s operation could undermine the anti-ISIL fight across Syria. Canikli brushed off U.S. concerns and claimed the YPG and ISIL cooperated in some areas in recent months, stressing that the YPG had secured armed ISIL members’ evacuation from Raqqa when the jihadist group was ousted from their de facto capital by the Kurdish militia in October 2017..

The deputy prime minister also commented on the situation in Manbij where American troops are stationed alongside YPG militants. “American troops should not be there [during a potential operation into Manbij]. If they are there, of course, we will not ask anybody’s ID during the operation. Our fight is against terrorist
This came just weeks after the publication of the Pentagon’s National Defense Strategy, which declared, “Inter-state strategic competition, not terrorism, is now the primary concern in US national security.”
However, the implications of this great-power conflict are not simply external to the US “homeland.” The document argues that “the homeland is no longer a sanctuary,” and that “America is a target,” for “political and information subversion” on the part of “revisionist powers” such as Russia and China.

Since “America’s military has no preordained right to victory on the battlefield,” the only way the US can prevail in this conflict is through the “seamless integration of multiple elements of national power,” including “information, economics, finance, intelligence, law enforcement and military.”
In other words, America’s supremacy in the new world of great-power conflict requires the subordination of every aspect of life to the requirements of war. In this totalitarian nightmare, already far advanced, the police, the military and the intelligence agencies unite with media and technology companies to form a single seamless unit, whose combined power is marshaled to manipulate public opinion and suppress political dissent.....
Tuesday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on “Global Threats and National Security” was an exercise in right-wing hysteria aimed at promoting the claim that all social opposition in the United States is the product of foreign subversion. This fraudulent narrative was advanced to justify censorship and police state repression.
Not since the McCarthyite witch hunts of the 1950s has Congress seen such a vitriolic denunciation of supposed foreign subversion. Russia, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats told the committee, “perceived its past efforts [at manipulating the 2016 elections] as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target.”
It is necessary to “inform the American people that this is real,” Coats proclaimed, and that “resilience is needed for us to stand up and say we’re not going to allow some Russians to tell us how to vote, how we ought to run our country.”
One after another, senators pressed the assembled intelligence officials about purported Russian and Chinese plots to “sow divisions” within American society, calling on the intelligence agencies to work with technology companies to censor the Internet and prevent the dissemination of “divisive content.”....
All of these accusations were made without the slightest attempt at proof or substantiation. This is because they are simply made up.
The basic claim of the liars and frauds on Capitol Hill is that the US would be a peaceful and healthy democracy if it weren’t for the nefarious operations of Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping