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American Resistance To Empire

American Troops In Syria Without Govt. Permission Is Act of Aggression

Syrian MP: US Decision to Send Troops Is Act of Aggression

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spec forces to syriaUS Troops Will Head To Syria To Aide in Fight Against ISIS

“When America sends ground forces into Syrian territories without an agreement with the Syrian government it becomes an intervention and aggression,” Shehadeh said by telephone. “Will America allow Russian ground forces to go into America without an agreement? I think the answer is no.”—Sharif Shehadeh, Syrian parliament

 

Russian Air Force Destroys Over 1,600 Islamist Terrorist Targets In Syria Just 1 Month

[SEE:  US Cannot, Or Will Not, Clarify Who Is Terrorist or Who Is Moderate In Syria ; US Bombers Can’t Find An ISIS Target For 3 Days—Russia Hasn’t Stopped Bombing]

Combat report: Over 1,600 terror targets destroyed in 1 month of Russia’s Syria op

Russia-Today

Strike on position area of militants (‪Hama‬ province) © Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation

The Russian Air Force has conducted some 1,400 sorties in Syria since the start of Moscow’s anti-terror operation. They have eliminated more than 1,600 terrorist targets in one month, Russia’s military said.

Among the destroyed targets are 249 command posts, 51 militants’ training camps, 131 ammunition and fuel depots and 786 field bases, Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov of Russia’s General Staff said on Friday.

Twenty-eight of the “most odious” terrorist leaders have been eliminated, the military report said. With the help of Russian airstrikes, the Syrian army managed to free over 50 towns and villages in such provinces as Aleppo, Latakia, Idlib, Homs and Damascus, the General Staff official said, adding that the freed territories make up to around 350 square kilometers (350,000 hectares).

Despite Islamic State’s “considerable losses and mass walkout,” it’s too early to talk about “complete victory” over the terrorists in Syria, Kartapolov stressed, adding the militants are continuing their stand against Syrian government troops in a number of regions. But “all their [terrorists’] efforts of counter attacks have been timely suppressed by the Syrian Army,” the Russian military official said.

In some regions, it is more difficult to defeat the jihadists. Over the years they have turned the areas into powerful organized tactical localities, with a wide network of underground passages and hideouts, Kartapolov said.

Commanders from several militant groups that were part of Al-Nusra Front, have decided to join the ranks of the so-called “moderate opposition,” the General Staff said, adding that in this way they hope “to receive political and financial support from abroad.”

READ MORE: Putin: No need to distinguish between ‘moderate’ & other terrorists

Trying to stop the decreasing number of fighters, Islamic State is redeploying forces into Syria from Iraq and other neighboring countries, Kartapolov said, adding that this move is now being widely observed in the Aleppo province. To prevent their fighters from deserting, Islamic State also publicly executes the militants who try to flee, the Russian military said.

Kartapolov said that Russia’s Defense Ministry was ready to cooperate with all Syrian forces fighting Islamic State and Al-Nusra Front, including opposition forces such as the Free Syrian Army. “We are ready to interact with patriotic opposition in any format, also within a joint information center in Baghdad,” Kartapolov said, adding “all patriotic forces in Syria should act as a united front” in the face of the international terror threat. “Unfortunately, this [unity] hasn’t happened yet,” he said.

READ MORE: Russia offers US ‘broader cooperation’ in Syria, but Washington not ready –© Dmitriy Vinogradov
Drones in Turkey, missiles in Iran & ground op in Syria: More MSM bombs for Russia amid ISIS fight

Over the month of Moscow’s struggle against Islamic State, its efforts have been a target in themselves, with western mainstream media as well as a number of officials attacking Moscow, bombing it with allegations and unconfirmed reports.

Despite the fact that the General Staff immediately and mostly fully informs the public on the actions of the Russian Air Force in Syria, new forgeries appear in the western media almost daily,” Kartapolov said, adding that based on the reports it looks like Russian airstrikes have allegedly destroyed more civilian structures than terrorist-inhabited areas. Such reports lack any proof, the military official added.

READ MORE: Moscow demands US-led coalition in Syria ‘prove or deny’ allegations Russia is ‘bombing civilians’

He showed the media a picture of the mosque in Idlib province that was allegedly bombed by Russian aviation, according to some media reports. The photographs taken after the reports had been published, show that the mosque appeared intact.

The Russian Air Force began carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) targets in Syria on September 30, “in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, Vladimir Putin.” The Ministry of Defense has been providing regular combat reports on the mission, the deadline of which is classified.

Due to the increased amount of confirmed intelligence information on IS facilities, the number of Russian fighter jets sorties has considerably risen since the launch of the mission, with more jihadists’ targets hit and destroyed.

A week into the anti-terror mission, Russian Navy joined Russia’s Air Force in the operation, with four Russian warships having launched missiles against Islamic State in Syria. The attacks came from Russia’s fleet in the Caspian Sea, which borders Russia, Iran and three other littoral countries; the precision weapons hit all intended targets.

With warplanes of the Russian Air Space Forces having destroyed units of military equipment, communication centers, arms and fuel depots belonging to IS terrorists, as well as plants producing explosives, field camps and bases, militants have lostmost” of their ammunition, heavy vehicles and equipment, the Defense Ministry said. Growing numbers of jihadists appeared to have become discontent with their command and reportedly deserted IS ranks.

READ MORE: Demoralized ISIS militants deserting en masse amid Russian airstrikes – Defense Ministry

During the ongoing operation in Syria, with the Russian military providing air support to Syrian Army troops, Syrian President Bashar Assad visited Moscow and held talks with Vladimir Putin. Before Moscow launched its operation in the Middle Eastern country, Syrian government had asked for Russia’s help, which became the legal ground for sending troops to Syria.

Russian Spies Learn of ISIS/Taliban Plan To Surge Into Central Asia

[SEE:  Central Asian Task Force To Send Russian-Led Anti-Terrorism Forces To Tajik-Afghan Border ; New Taliban Offensive Is Laying Siege To TAPI Pipeline Route…Coincidence? ]

INVASION of central Asia: Russia spies discover terror plan

express sunday

 

RUSSIAN intelligence officers claim Islamic State (ISIS) is preparing to take on Central Asia in its latest battle to take on the world in a frightening discovery.

GETTY  ISIS is preparing for a huge invasion of central Asia, Russia claims

Huge numbers of Islamist fighters are massing on Afghanistan’s northern border ready to march into neighbouring states, Russian intelligence officials have revealed.

Moscow’s spy chief Alexander Bortnikov warned fighters from the Taliban, many of whom have pledged allegiance to ISIS, were heavily armed and prepared to pass through porous border controls.

Speaking at a meeting of special services from the Commonwealth of Independent States, he warned: “The international community has now hit a new geopolitical challenge, an international criminal group in the name of the Islamic State.

“This project, which grew out of the ‘Arab Spring,’ has gained momentum thanks to the double standards of certain world regional powers by using ‘a terrorist battering ram’ to reach their own strategic goals in Asia and Africa.

“According to our estimates, citizens from more than 100 countries are currently fighting in the ranks of terrorist structures and the recruits constitute up to 40 percent of their forces.

“The escalation in tensions in Afghanistan has brought on serious dangers. There are numerous criminal groups included in the Taliban movement on the northern borders of this country right now. Some of them have also began operating under the Islamic State flag, which has led to a sharp rise in the threat of terrorists invading Central Asia.”

ISIS fighters
IG

ISIS fighters are massing in northern Afghanistan

A Russian airstrike in Syria
REUTERS 
Russia has been carrying out airstrikes in Syria

The jihadi hate group could be trying to open up a new front to the north of its territories after being pegged back in Syria by Russian airstrikes.

The invasion would be a swipe at Vladimir Puitin as it would take them into the former Soviet states of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, which are still beholden to Moscow.

They would also secure control of lucrative drug trafficking routes taking raw opium from Afghanistan to be sold as heroin on the streets of Russia and Europe.

ISIS has been looking to grow its presence in Asia and has active cells in India, Pakistan and Malaysia

Iraq Didn’t Ask For US Ground Forces, and Doesn’t Want Them

Iraq ‘didn’t ask’ for US ground operations against ISIS

Russia-Today

 

The Iraqi government never asked for and does not need any US involvement in ground operations against Islamic State terrorists. The eye-opening statement came only a day after the Pentagon promised its partner more ground support if it was required.

“This is an Iraqi affair and the government did not ask the US Department of Defense to be involved in direct operations,” spokesman Sa’ad al-Hadithi told NBC News. “We have enough soldiers on the ground.”

Hadithi made it clear that any involvement of US forces that stretches beyond their “train and advise” mission must be cleared with Baghdad – as mandated under international law.

Thus far Iraq has only cleared a US air campaign over its territory against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). For now, Hadithi stressed, Iraq only needs US support in “arming and training [Iraqi] forces.” Around 3,300 US troops are involved in the mission in Iraq.

The statement by the Iraqi government follows a statement made by US Defense Secretary Ash Carter about America’s intent to step up US military activity in Iraq and Syria, where US forces have been conducting air raids against IS targets. Carter’s statement also comes just days after American forces participated in a raid to rescue IS hostages in Iraq.

The US will resort to “direct action on the ground” against ISIS both in Iraq and Syria, if needed, Carter said in a testimony before the Senate Armed Services committee on Tuesday.

Yemen Press Reveals “Colombian Snipers” Are Really Blackwater Agents

[SEE:  Saudis Hire 800 Colombian Sniper Mercenaries To Murder Yemenis]

https://i1.wp.com/www.activistpost.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/Blackwater-small.jpg

Mercenaries “Blackwater” under the name of Colombian soldiers to Yemen

NAKHEL NEWS NAKHEL NEWS

Palm-questioned columnist Abdullah bin Amer in health to be Colombian soldiers and officers to be sent to Yemen to be from Colombia army but mercenaries belonging to the company “Blackwater”.

According to Yemeni site-Presse, quoting Amer, he did not rule out the validity of reports that send Colombia troops to Yemen on the Saudi request, but he believes that Colombia is considered a central hub in attracting recruits “Blackwater” and trained by American influence in this country, which he described a lot of followers as “the Israel of Latin America.”

He noted Amer that “Blackwater” organization that provides military and security services are granted recruits immunity from prosecution under the legal action has been taken under the previous US administration, has turned out its role in Iraq following the US invasion so committed troops massacres ugly against Iraqis, especially in Fallujah, as well as her very bad history in Afghanistan.

Amer talk about Recruiting Colombian soldiers not only the creation of the media and public opinion on the soldiers follow the Colombian system and cover up the fact that these recruits are not only gangs “Blackwater” the most secret organization in the world and take it.

Amer added that there are other reasons to pay states aggression not to talk about the fact of will be recruited from Colombia and those reasons relate to the bad reputation of the company “Blackwater” and that prompted its leadership years ago to think about changing its name after the abuses in Iraq.

He spoke Amer said “Blackwater” services are also offered for all allies of the United States and present elements in most conflict zones, the company is implementing a suspicious roles in favor of the new world order where it was created for this purpose under the Bush Jr. administration and managed by one of the Americans extremists and who has a relationship with Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and has already a presence in Abu Dhabi, 2011 for the purpose of establishing a secret special force of mercenaries are under the command of the UAE system.

He noted Amer that the UAE authorities then contracted with “Blackwater” millions of dollars after fears of expansion of the so-called Spring Arab it is still the relationship list until the moment which enhances the accuracy of the information that talks about call Windows Abu Dhabi to “Blackwater” for control of Aden .

“Blackwater” is the first organization in the world supplying mercenaries and form a private army and make a difference for the assassination and has more than 2,700 recruits and a fleet of planes and combat operations slogan “kill and then make sure that he was the enemy.”

Amer confirmed that the countries of aggression against all standards scandal if you do not stop the import of mercenaries “Blackwater” under the name of Colombian soldiers process, pointing out that everyone will know the truth of these soldiers and the fact that their role sooner or later also revealed the fact that nowadays some Gulf regimes such notorious company link.

He added Amer said there are several indicators confirm that the coming stage will witness conflicts between the countries of the same aggression and between various factions Vastdaa “Blackwater” is not only to carry out guerrilla warfare and assassinations that could affect the leaders of the different factions in order to create the ground for the existence of the power of influence and one controls the Aden specifically and then on rest areas.

US Cannot, Or Will Not, Clarify Who Is Terrorist or Who Is Moderate In Syria

US-led coalition does not know who the terrorists in Syria are – Lavrov

Russia-Today

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov © Ivan Sekretarev
The US-led coalition lacks a common understanding of who the terrorist threat in Syria is coming from, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov believes. He also said that Russia is trying to establish contacts with the Syrian opposition.

“Last Friday I met with [US Secretary of State] John Kerry, Saudi and Turkish foreign ministers in Vienna …and I once again saw that the US-led coalition has no common understanding [about] who poses a terrorist threat in Syria,” Sergey Lavrov said at a press-conference held after talks with his Belarusian counterpart Vladimir Makey.

“One cannot say that there are ‘good’ terrorist which are not to be touched,” the minister said.

“It is also necessary to make clear who the political opposition in Syria is,” Lavrov added referring to the Geneva communique signed in June 2012, which calls for a peace process inclusive of all political groups.

The minister pointed out that the peace process must be “inclusive” – so, it must encompass all political opposition groups as well as all significant foreign countries.

“Some of our partners tried to count on one opposition group completely ignoring other groups and declaring this group the only representative of the Syrian people…There were also attempts to establish a closed club of foreign actors without the participation of other key states influencing the situation in Sirya,” Lavrov said.

“Such speculative patterns are unsustainable,” the minister added.

Lavrov also said that Russia is ready to help all opposition groups fighting against terrorists – not only the Assad regime. “It was not easy to find representatives of such opposition groups – and we are continuing our efforts. We have the first responses,” he said.

“It is necessary to unite everybody in all directions,” Lavrov said speaking about the Russian position in concerning resolution of the Syrian conflict.

The civil war in Syria erupted in 2011 after violent protests which took place as part of the so-called Arab spring. The vacuum of power was seized upon by terrorist organization Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIL/ISIS) which managed to capture huge territories in Syria and Iraq.

On September 30 2015, Russia started a military operation against IS and other terrorist groups in Syria. Last week, the Free Syrian Army (FSA) sent Russia a proposal to hold negotiations in Cairo expressing its readiness to support the Russian initiative to establish an inclusive anti-terror coalition and peace process.

the spectre of World War III

Washington’s South China Sea provocation and the spectre of World War III

world socialist

The US naval incursion yesterday within the 12-nautical-mile limit of territory claimed by China in the South China Sea was a deliberate and reckless provocation that threatens to trigger a far broader conflict between the two nuclear-armed powers.

No credence should be given to Washington’s claims that it is simply exercising its rights under international law to “freedom of navigation.” Unlike China, and many other nations, the United States has not even ratified the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), which it insists it is upholding. Once again, US imperialism has concocted a pretext to pursue its militarist agenda—in this case, maintaining its hegemony in Asia and subordinating China to US economic and strategic interests.

Speaking at a congressional hearing yesterday, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter made clear that the US acts as a law unto itself and that the so-called Freedom of Action operations will continue. “We will fly, sail and operate wherever international law permits,” he declared. “There have been naval operations in that region in recent days and there will be more in the weeks and months to come.”

Ian Storey, a strategic analyst at Singapore’s Institute of South East Asian Studies, underlined the seriousness of the Pentagon’s use of the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen to enter the contested waters. “They’ve gone in heavy. There is not much else heavier than that except an aircraft carrier,” he told the Guardian.

In fact, the US navy had two aircraft carriers not too far away. The USS Theodore Roosevelt had just left the Middle East to resupply in Singapore, adjacent to the South China Sea, and the USS Ronald Reagan is based in Japan.

The decision to risk war by challenging China was made by a war cabal in the US military and foreign policy establishment that operates without any democratic accountability, behind the backs of the American people, who are overwhelmingly opposed to the war policies of the government. For months, top officials of the US Pacific Command have been waging a public campaign denouncing Chinese land reclamation in the South China Sea. Insofar as Obama was involved at all, it was to give the final stamp of approval for the operation.

Speaking to the Financial Times, retired US admiral James Stavridis pointed to the broader objectives, declaring that the US was determined “not to cede international waters off China to an emerging regional power.” Washington is not only unwilling to cede an inch to Beijing, it has engaged in an aggressive diplomatic, economic and military strategy, known as the “pivot to Asia,” aimed at reducing China to a semi-colonial status.

The US has deliberately inflamed dangerous flashpoints such as the South China Sea to provide an excuse for its military build-up throughout the region and to drive a wedge between China and other territorial claimants in East Asia. Having ignored longstanding maritime disputes in the area for decades, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton provocatively declared in mid-2010 that the United States had a “national interest” in securing “freedom of navigation” through the disputed waters.

Over the past five years, Washington has transformed what were minor territorial disputes into a casus belli for war against China, encouraging and assisting the Philippines and Vietnam, in particular, to challenge Chinese claims. This diplomatic offensive has gone hand-in-hand with new basing arrangements with Australia and the Philippines, the strengthening of defence ties throughout the region, and military redeployments to ensure that 60 percent of US naval and air assets are located in the Indo-Pacific by 2020.

Yesterday’s dispatch of the USS Lassen into Chinese-claimed waters is the first phase of Pentagon war plans to counter what it claims is China’s tactic of Anti-Access/Area Denial. Such operations are part of a broader AirSea Battle strategy that envisages a devastating air and missile assault on the Chinese mainland if China retaliates.

Behind the US war drive is the deepening crisis of world capitalism. The American ruling class is responding to its own weakened global position by resorting ever more recklessly to military might in order to undermine its rivals, while at the same time deepening its assault on the democratic rights and living standards of the working class at home.

Even as he warned of further actions in the South China Sea against China, US Defence Secretary Carter declared yesterday that the US would step up its war in the Middle East by allowing American troops to engage in fighting on the ground. Moreover, Washington’s provocations in Asia take place at the same time as NATO forces prepare for confrontations with Russia in Eastern Europe. The whole world has been placed on a hair trigger that could be tripped by an incident, intended or unintended, in virtually any part of the globe.

While its response is largely defensive in character, the actions of the Chinese regime are utterly reactionary. Organically incapable of making any appeal to the working class in China or internationally, the bureaucratic apparatus in Beijing, which represents the interests of a tiny ultra-wealthy layer of oligarchs, resorts to militarism and the whipping up of Chinese nationalism, thus heightening the danger of war. An editorial in the hawkish state-owned Global Times yesterday called on the Chinese leadership to “prepare for the worst” and show the White House that it “is not frightened to fight a war with the US in the region.”

More and more, the world situation resembles the lead-up to World War I and World War II. In an interview in September 1938, on the eve of the Munich conference, Leon Trotsky explained the objective logic of events that was leading to conflict. “It is possible that this time, too, diplomacy will succeed in reaching a rotten compromise. But it will not last long. War is inevitable and moreover in the very near future. One international crisis follows another. These convulsions are similar to the birth pangs of the approaching war. Each new paroxysm will bear a more severe and dangerous character,” he said.

In its statement “Socialism and the Fight against Imperialist War” published in July 2014, the International Committee of the Fourth International (ICFI) explained that the same fundamental contradictions of capitalism—between global economy and the outmoded nation state system on the one hand, and socialised production and the private ownership of the means of production, on the other—were driving the world to war. “Another imperialist bloodbath is not only possible; it is inevitable unless the international working class intervenes on the basis of a revolutionary Marxist program,” it warned.

The ICFI statement outlined the political basis for the building of an anti-war movement of the international working class. “All the great issues confronting the working class—the growth of social inequality, the resort to authoritarian forms of rule—are inseparable components of this struggle. There can be no fight for socialism without a struggle against war and there can be no fight against war without a struggle for socialism. Imperialist war must be opposed by the working class, leading behind it the youth and oppressed masses, on the basis of a socialist program: the fight to take political power, expropriate the banks and major corporations and begin the task of constructing a world federation of workers’ states.”

One year on, that task takes on new urgency. At its very centre lies the necessity of building the ICFI as the revolutionary leadership required to lead this struggle.

Peter Symonds

US Bombers Can’t Find An ISIS Target For 3 Days—Russia Hasn’t Stopped Bombing

Russian bombs batter Syria; US jets silent for 3 days

Ynet

Pentagon: US ‘on the lookout’ for additional targets, attempting to avoid ‘civilian damage’; Russia claims 94 airstrikes in 24 hours.

AFP

US-led coalition forces had not carried out any air strikes in Syria for three days as of Monday, a lull that contrasts with the continued intensity of Russia’s bombing campaign.

According to Pentagon data, the last coalition strike was a drone attack on October 22 that targeted an Islamic State vehicle and a “mortar tube.”

An American F-16 on the ground in Turkey. (Photo: Reuters)
An American F-16 on the ground in Turkey. (Photo: Reuters)

 

Russia, on the other hand, continues to maintain an intense tempo as it nears the end of its first month of bombing in Syria.

The Russian defense ministry said Monday it had hit 94 targets in just the past 24 hours.

US defense officials say Russian sorties have no bearing on coalition actions in Syria, and insist the situation reflects greater discrimination and refinement in terms of which targets are struck.

“It’s not because of Russia,” said Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman.

“Air strikes ebb and flow… We look at intelligence to find out where we have actionable targets, where we have targets that we can hit without causing civilian damage.

Russia war planes deploy bombs against targets in Syria. (Photo: AFP)
Russia war planes deploy bombs against targets in Syria. (Photo: AFP)

 

“We simply haven’t had any (recently)… but that doesn’t mean we are not on the lookout for more – and there will be more.”

The United States has led a coalition of more than 60 countries that since June 2014 has been conducting regular air raids against ISIS positions in Iraq and Syria.

As of Sunday, coalition aircraft had carried out a total of 2,679 air strikes in Syria.

According to Pentagon figures, the coalition launched 359 air strikes in July. The number dropped to 206 in August and 115 in September.

Continuing the downward trend, there have been 91 strikes so far this month.

A Russian bomb strikes an ISIS weapons compound. (Photo: EPA)
A Russian bomb strikes an ISIS weapons compound. (Photo: EPA)

 

“As we continuously seek legitimate targets, it takes time,” said Commander Elissa Smith, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

“The strikes we take are not just randomly against targets; they are part of an organized campaign.”

Russia and the United States last week signed a memorandum of understanding that establishes measures so their pilots steer clear of each other as they conduct separate bombing campaigns in Syria.

Moscow says its bombing campaign that began on September 30 targets ISIS jihadists and other “terrorists,” but the West claims the strikes have focused on moderate rebels fighting Russian-backed President Bashar Assad’s forces.

Russia Destroys Most ISIS Heavy Weaponry, U.S. Promptly Airdrops 50-Tons Of Weapons Into Syria

Russia Destroys Most ISIS Heavy Weaponry, U.S. Promptly Airdrops 50-Tons Of Weapons Into Syria

mint press

A Syrian rebel firing a TOW missle.

Reports this week indicated that Islamic State militants were decimated by recent Russian airstrikes, and have lost “most” of their ammunition, heavy vehicles and equipment in the precision strikes, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

An array of Russian bombers and ground support aircrafts targeted Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) sites in the provinces of Raqqah, Hama, Idlib, Latakia and Aleppo, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The attacks reportedly destroyed command posts, heavy weapons, ammunition and armament depots, military vehicles, plants producing explosives, field camps and bases.

A report by RT stated:

According to intercepted communications, the militants suffer from shortages of ammunition, small arms and grenade guns. Several commanders allegedly say they will withdraw their units unless their ammunition needs are satisfied.

“Russian airstrikes resulted in the elimination of the majority of ISIS ammunition, heavy vehicles and equipment,” the Defense Ministry tweeted.

Russian anti-terror military operations in the Syrian theater were launched on September, 30, at the request of the Syrian government. The United States has since accused Russia of targeting moderate opposition in Syria, but Moscow says it is after terrorist groups such as IS and Al-Nusra Front.

To understand the U.S. position, one has to understand the rapidly evolving U.S. strategy in Syria.

The Obama Administration recently announced that its $500 million plan to train and equip vetted “moderate” rebels was a total failure. Incredibly, the U.S. came up with an even worse plan – remove the training and vetting requirement of the program, and start sending military equipment.

The new protocol embraced by the U.S. would require only leaders of the rebel groups to be vetted. Once the leader of the group is vetted weapons would flow to the group, no questions asked.

Moving quickly to operationalize their new strategy, the U.S. airdropped 50 tons of weapons and ammunition to the newly branded “Syrian Arab Coalition” forces — a U.S. rebel group re-branded, but known for its unreliability and willingness to hand weapons over to al-Qaeda and ISIS.

“Probably 60 to 80 percent of the arms that America shoveled in have gone to al-Qaeda and its affiliates,” according to Joshua Landis, a Syria expert at the University of Oklahoma.

It seems quite obvious that while the U.S. likely supplies al-Qaeda affiliate the al-Nusra front, Ahrar al Shams, and other jihadists in the Syrian combat theater, the idea that the U.S. is once again using the al-Qaeda terror network, similarly to how they were used to fight a proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, should give pause to every American as a potential replaying of past U.S. foreign policy failures.

In addition to the U.S. airdropping 50 tons of weapons to Syrian rebel groups, Saudi Arabia delivered 500 TOW anti-tank missiles to anti-Assad Syrian rebels.

tow

Highlighting the actual motivation behind the U.S. and Saudis supply rebel groups heavy weaponry, TOW anti-tank missiles provided to the rebels by the US and its allies have not been used against ISIS, but to strike Russian-made tanks of the Syrian Arab Army as it fights against al-Qaeda and ISIS.

The goal of U.S. policy in Syria doesn’t get any more clear; the actual mission being supported by the United States in Syria is regime change, not fighting ISIS.

According to a report by the Ron Paul Institute:

The TOW missile program is a CIA program, separate from the failed Defense Department rebel training program. The CIA has been arming and training unvetted rebels — many if not most foreign mercenaries rather than Syrians — to overthrow the Assad government since 2011 or 2012. The shot in the arm it has received from new shipments is obvious, as one rebel commander describes a recent attack on Assad’s forces:

‘It was a tank massacre,’ said Capt. Mustafa Moarati, whose Tajamu al-Izza group says it destroyed seven tanks and armored vehicles Wednesday.

More missiles are on the way, he said. New supplies arrived after the Russian deployments began, he said, and the rebels’ allies have promised further deliveries soon, bringing echoes of the role played by U.S.-supplied Stinger anti-aircraft missiles in forcing the Soviet Union to withdraw from Afghanistan in the 1980s.

The current strategy being undertaken is a virtual instant replay of the 1980s US proxy war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. The U.S.’s arming of Afghan Islamist rebels to defeat the USSR, directly resulted in the attacks of 9/11 and the ongoing global war on terror. It would be a grave mistake for the U.S. to once again repeat the same mistakes of the past.

It’s stunning how quickly American politicians disregard the clear and present dangers of arming Islamist extremists in an effort to spur regime change. The reality that the U.S. government is supplying weapons to the same extremist groups that attacked the twin towers should serve as a wake-up call to the corrupt nature of international power politics.

“Mainstream Civil Society Is Radicalising” As Planned By the Political Elite

Germany’s secret service warns the country ‘is importing Islamic extremism, anti-Semitism, other people’s ethnic conflicts and a different understanding of society’ 

daily mail

  • Security services warn of dire consequences of Berlin’s open-door policy
  • Officials fear integration is impossible as so many live in isolated societies
  • Source: ‘Mainstream civil society is radicalising because the majority don’t want migration’

Germany’s intelligence agencies have expressed serious concerns over the huge influx of migrants harbouring extremist views, it has been reported.

A security document has warned of the damaging consequences of Berlin’s open-door policy which is expected to see around one million refugees enter the country this year alone.

It read: ‘We are importing Islamic extremism, Arab anti-Semitism, national and ethnic conflicts of other peoples as well as a different societal and legal understanding.’

Security sources also fear the integration of migrants ‘is no longer possible’ because so many already live in isolated communities.

Migrants wait at the central registration centre   in Berlin. Germany's security services have expressed concern that the country is 'importing' Islamic extremism by allowing so many refugees into the country

The document, seen by German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, added: ‘German security agencies… will not be in the position to solve these imported security problems and thereby the arising reactions from Germany’s population.’

A senior level security official also told the paper that ‘the high influx of people from all parts of the world will lead to instability in our land’, it was reported by The Jerusalem Post.

The official added: ‘Mainstream civil society is radicalising because the majority don’t want migration and they are being forced by the political elite.’

The concerns have been voiced by the four major security agencies in Germany – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, the Federal Intelligence Service, the Federal Police and Federal Criminal Police Office.

Germany – which is braced for around one million asylum seekers this year – has seen a spike in violence at registration centres in recent weeks as conditions deteriorate and tempers boil over.

Over the weekend, police sprayed left-wing protesters with a water cannon to keep them apart from an anti-Islam demonstration by a far-right group in western Germany.

Supporters of the Pegida movement - an acronym for 'Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamification of the West' - hold a rally in Dresden last week. Tensions have risen dramatically in recent months after Germany agreed to accept around one million refugees this year

Tensions have risen dramatically in recent months after Germany agreed to accept around one million refugees this year

Some 3,500 police in full riot gear were in Cologne yesterday afternoon, sometimes stepping in to keep the two groups from fighting.

About 10,000 people – including many families waving signs reading ‘refugees welcome’ – were protesting the demonstration Sunday by 1,000 from a group called ‘Hooligans against Salafists,’ the dpa news agency reported.

The more-radical offshoot of Dresden’s anti-Islam PEGIDA group had clashed with counter-protesters last year in Cologne, injuring dozens. Police have stepped up measures this year to try and prevent similar violence.

Sex attacks are also now said to be an everyday event while in one state alone there are understood to have been 100 cases of violence in just the last three months.

Some women are even reportedly being forced to become €10-a-day prostitutes, local media reported.

More than 670,000 people have reached European soil this year – many of them fleeing violence in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan – in the continent’s worst migration crisis since World War II.

Slovenia’s premier this weekend warned the European Union that it ‘is weeks away from falling apart’ if the bloc cannot agree on a plan to confront the sudden influx of refugees through the Balkans.

Nine days after Hungary’s move to seal its southern border drove unprecedented migrant flows into tiny Slovenia, Prime Minister Miro Cerar sent out a dramatic call to fellow central and eastern leaders in Brussels for emergency talks.

He said: ‘If we don’t find a solution today, if we don’t do everything we can today, then it is the end of the European Union as such. If we don’t deliver concrete action, I believe Europe will start falling apart.’

Since October 17, more than 62,000 migrants have arrived in Slovenia, with some 14,000 still passing through the country on today alone.

Cerar said Croatia, which has already seen some 230,000 migrants pass through since mid-September, was still waiving migrants through into Slovenia without alerting Slovenia authorities.

A New Order is emerging from the Middle East

A New World Order is emerging from the Middle East

al arabiya

This year is seeing the most drastic reshaping of the geopolitics of the Middle East possibly since WW2. Certainly since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Everything is in flux. Russia and Iran are pushing out the U.S. and NATO in Syria, Iran is already leading the Shiite war effort in Iraq, and the Iraqi government is now considering inviting military assistance from Russia against ISIS as well. This after the hundreds of billions of dollars that the U.S. has spent on the country. Across the entire Fertile Crescent, the U.S. and its allies are being almost entirely marginalized. As are their interests.

Further to the South, lay the traditional allies of the U.S. in the region: Israel, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. These alliances still hold – for now. Though there is obviously no love lost between the U.S. and these countries. None of the governments of these countries now trust the U.S. The Egyptian government is still caught up in the ambivalence of the West between its desire for democracy in the region and its desire for stability and for secular governance. The détente between the U.S. and Iran on the Iranians’ nuclear program has led to Saudi alarm. And the Israelis are hunkering down in their metaphorical bunker as the world around them descends into chaos, and the flames of war are starting to spread to the occupied territories.

When the Middle East became destabilized in the wake of the Arab Spring, the others pounced

Azeem Ibrahim

To the east, Afghanistan is once again in total chaos, with the Taliban emerging as the most likely group to prevail in the country. And Pakistan, formerly the U.S.’s most reliable ally in the region, is being absorbed into the Chinese sphere of influence with the help, once again, of the Iranians. In fact, one could argue, the entire East is being reshaped geopolitically according to the needs of Chinese commerce: pipelines from Russia to China, pipelines from Iran to Pakistan paid for by the Chinese, railways and road infrastructure built by the Chinese in South East Asia in Myanmar to connect them to the deep water port in Kyaukpyu, to the south west with the trade corridor through Pakistan to connect them to the deep water port of Gwadar, and across the whole of Central Asia, as China is rebuilding the Silk Road.

Muscling in

Russia, Iran and China are muscling in on the Middle East, and so far it seems that the U.S. and Europe have neither the capacity, nor the will, to do anything about it. The American Century, at least in the Middle East, seems well and truly over. How did it come to this?

For one, the U.S. has taken the eye off the ball. Invading Afghanistan in the aftermath of 9/11 could have perhaps worked, on its own. The U.S. was able to bring its allies along, and there was a great deal of good will towards the American war aims at the time. But all that was squandered with the insane decision to also invade Iraq. That war clearly overstretched U.S. forces and allowed Iran, Russia and eventually China to flex their muscles in their regional spheres of influence against U.S. interests.

The initial response of the Obama administration to the catastrophic consequences of the Bush-era warmongering was to pursue a more liberal, international law approach to geo-politics. It was the only way that the U.S. could have sustained its status in the international arena. But by then it was already too late. The U.S. had long lost the moral authority to call on other countries to obey international norms, and no longer had the strength to enforce even a semblance of international law. Its rivals had smelled blood and tasted success. And so, when the Middle East became destabilized in the wake of the Arab Spring, the others pounced. And now, China is carving up the East, Russia the Levant, and Iran every country in its neighborhood and around the Jordan River.

Just how the situation will look when the dust settles it is impossible to know. But it is almost certain that there will be very little room left for the U.S. or its European allies in the region. And with that, our access to oil and gas will never be safe or secure ever again. Transitioning to alternative sources of energy is no longer just a matter for the Climate Change “hippies”. It should be the highest priority even for the most hawkish neo-conservatives.

___________
Azeem Ibrahim is an RAI Fellow at Mansfield College, University of Oxford and Research Professor at the Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College.

Saudis Hire 800 Colombian Sniper Mercenaries To Murder Yemenis

The Arabian dream: Colombians taking part in Yemen war

 

Some 800 former Colombian military troops will enter the city port of Aden in Yemen, switching the jungle terrain of their home country for the deserts of Arabia.

The former Colombian army troops will join a coalition of allied international troops fighting Shiite rebels. They will operate under the service of the UAE Armed Forces, donning a Saudi uniform in defense of the Yemeni government.

Domestic hostilities with Shiite rebels that have grown since their initiation in 2004, with the UN reporting the situation to be “on the brink of a civil war.”

After over 50 years of civil war in their home country the Colombian military officials have a vast experience in this area, though a change in scenery will provide a variety of different challenges.

Troops have received training in urban combat in the desert, location control, police raids and security bases and caravans. They will reportedly also face advanced intelligence as they fight to regain the capital city under control of Shia rebels.

“It is a completely different war to that which we live in Colombia in every way.”

A retired commander of the Colombian Armed Forces spoke to El Tiempo about his experiences, “We are called mercenaries, traitors, cowards and opportunists. We are nothing like that. We are men who made a decision in response to the lack of guarantees.”

In return for 3 months on the line survivors the fighters, will receive an additional bursary of $1,000 each week on top of current salaries. For those that survive, they will be granted instant citizenship to the UAE.

The outcome of the civil war in the strategically important oil-rich country of Yemen poses great influence on the West. Reportedly concerned neighboring countries have, as such, joined battle against the rebels.

This is not the first instance of Colombian exports of expertise in war, marketing their military skills for the promise of higher earnings outside of the home country.

“We are even teaching American troops how to fight irregular armies and Chinese troops how to become prime snipers,” Walther Giraldo, commander of Fort Tolemaida said.

Saudi Prince Arrested In Beirut, Smuggling 2 TONS of Captagon, Addictive, Amphetamine Mind-Control Drug

beirut saudi captagon 40 t

5 Saudis Arrested so far:

  • ABDULMOHSIN BIN WALEED BIN ABDULMOHSIN BIN ABDUAIZIZ AL SAUD

    ALHAKEEM, ZEYAD SAMEER A
    AL HARTHE, MUBARAK ALI A
    AL SHAMMARI, YAHYA SHAEM S
    AL SHARARI, MANDAR SALEH M

counterfeit Captagon from Serbia1 

A study was conducted in Jordan by Alabdallah, 2005 at the Forensic Labs (SEE:  Chemical characterization of counterfeit captagon tablets seized in Jordan.). After analyzing 124 batches of Captagon seized and analyzed by Gas Chromatography.
 
His study revealed the absence of fenethylline in all samples analyzed.

[SEE: CAPTAGON—Saudi Mind Control Drug of Choice]

Prince Abdul Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdul Aziz did not escape the duty, but was arrested with drugs in their aircraft.

The prince was arrested with two tons of drugs: “It is for their own use”

expressen.se

He thought he could hide behind its fine title: But duty came to the Saudi Prince bin Abdulaziz with 40 cartons dope.

BEIRUT.

On the package – several cartons – let the prince sticks his own name “His Highness Prince Abdul Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdul Aziz”. He hoped that the load of two tons could go through the airport in Beirut without problems. But no.

He was arrested with two tons of drugs.

– It’s just for my own use, claiming the prince in the first interrogation.

The Saudi Prince and four other people were arrested at Beirut airport today, after trying to smuggle two tons of drugs in his private plane (not pictured).

Lebanese hashish is considered one of the world’s – maybe even the very best of hashish varieties. Better than Afghan hashish. There they experience who have tried it, but also drug dealers. It is grown in the Bekaa Valley, along the border with Syria.

But the young Saudi Prince Abdul Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdul Aziz was flying in their own private planes all the way from Saudi Arabia to Lebanon, but not to buy hash. He was looking for cocaine and drug tablets of type Fenetylline.

“The only thing he did was to paste their own names on the boxes and hope that no one would stop him.”

Drug load was packed down in between the big boxes without using “hiding places” that drug smugglers commonly use. The only thing he did was to paste their own names on the boxes and hope that no one would stop him.

The Prince had with him four Saudi employees, Mubarak bin Ali bin Aied al-Harethy, Ziad bin Samir bin Ahmad al-Hakim, Bandar bin Saleh bin Marzouk al-Shrari and Yehia bin Shaem bin Saadi al-Shemari.

After a few days in Beirut was the load of two tons of drugs prepackaged for transport to the prince’s private aircraft that was parked at the airport in Beirut.

“We have stopped the Prince Abdul Mohsen bin Walid bin Abdul Aziz, who is one of the royal family members. He tried to smuggle two tons of drugs in their own aircraft. “

It writes Lebanese police said in a statement today.

A total seized by the customs 40 boxes full of dope.

Police said that the other four Saudis who were with him also were stopped when they were on their way from Beirut to Saudi Arabia.

A total seized by the customs 40 cartons filled with dope. All five, including the Prince, is now sitting in a jail in Beirut and interrogated by the police.

According to police sources acknowledging the prince that he wanted to transport the cargo to Saudi Arabia.

According to police sources, the prince was calm during the first interrogation, claiming that “the cargo is for myself. It’s for my own use, “and that he was heading to his home town of Riyadh.

The relationship between Saudi Arabia and the official Lebanon is good. It takes polisärt cooperation and exchange of intelligence information, and even the movement of Saudi prisoners apprehended in Lebanon.

“It is not the first time Lebanese police put large drug loads that someone tries to smuggle through the airport in Beirut.”

Since Syria war broke out, the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the Lebanese Hezbollah almost hostile. Hezbollah is deeply involved in the war in Syria and fight the regime. Saudi Arabia supports with arms and money a variety of rebel groups fighting against the Syrian regime. Syria war made the already bad relationship between the Shiite Hezbollah and Wahhabi Saudi Arabia even worse. Saudi Arabia demands that Hezbollah should withdraw from Syria. Hezbollah, for its part accuses Saudi Arabia to massacre the people of Yemen.

It is not the first time Lebanese police put large drug loads that someone tries to smuggle through the airport in Beirut. In Lebanon manufactured drug tablets Fenetylline. Black irony of it all is that drug – largely grown and produced in the areas controlled by Hezbollah – mainly in the Bekaa Valley. Fenetylline sold for less than four crowns in Lebanon. However, it is a different class of cocaine because it is not produced here but smuggled from Latin America to Lebanon and on to the Gulf.

So, who are gossiping about the prince’s large drug load?

In Lebanon, everything is secret but everyone can feel it. It is a small country where nothing can be secret for more than 24 hours.

The interesting question is who has sold the drugs to the prince?

Saudi Arabia had arrested a normal citizen with a few grams of cocaine had this man received the death penalty.

In Lebanon, shall not be sentenced drug traffickers to death, but they can however get long prison sentences.

In the prince’s case, it is doubtful whether he will be tried. If one is to analyze the political game now so you have to make a direct link between the prince’s arrest and Saudi Arabia’s decision to assassinate imam NIMR al-NIMR.

NIMR al-NIMR is a Saudi Arabian dissident imam who is Shiite Muslim – that have the same belief that Hezbollah and Iran.

The captive Saudi prince passport.

Yesterday protested Iran against the verdict and threatened Saudi Arabia to pay a high price if you apply the judgment.

Today was arrested prince with two tons of drugs.

No doubt teach Hezbollah, which has great influence in Lebanese politics, exploiting the arrest of the prince to pressure Saudi Arabia to amend the judgment and, at best, dropping NIMR al-NIMR.

Saudi Arabia is in a difficult situation.

The prince, say, then in preliminary hearings that the drug load is for personal use.

He begins to recognize and uncover several high ranking within the royal family – maybe even the King himself – then it’s a completely different position for bargaining.

Kassem Hamade Kassem Hamade

Pentagon Sails Guided-Missile Destroyer Inside 12 mile Territorial Limit of Nansha (Spratly) Islands

China lodges protest with U.S. on warship patrol in South China Sea

Commentary: U.S. provocative act in South China Sea breaks peaceful commitment

xinhua_logo

USS LASSEN
USS LASSEN, 500′ length, guided missile destroyer, Arleigh-Burke class 

by Xinhua Writer Zhu Junqing

BEIJING, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) — The sailing of a U.S. warship within 12 nautical miles off China’s islands in the South China Sea constitutes a blatant provocation to China’s territorial sovereignty and puts on a show of force under the excuse of testing freedom of navigation and over-flight in the waters.

China has always respected and stood up for the freedom of navigation and over-flight in the South China Sea and other major international passages all countries are entitled to under international law.

In his just-concluded state visit to the United States, Chinese President Xi Jinping has clarified that relevant construction activities China is undertaking on the Nansha Islands do not target or impact any other country.

Moreover, China does not intend to pursue militarization of the Nansha Islands in South China Sea, all its military deployment is necessary, limited and defense-oriented. China is committed to maintaining peace and stability in the region.

During the visit, Xi and his U.S. counterpart, Barack Obama, renewed their commitment to building a new model of major-country relationship featuring no confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect and win-win cooperation.

Thus, the U.S. provocative behavior violated, firstly, the two leaders’ commitment, and will aggravate regional tensions.

In fact, the most important factor militarizing the waters is that some countries flex their military muscles and hold frequent large-scale drills with their allies in the South China Sea.

Secondly, the patrols went against Washington’s public statement that it takes no stand over the territorial claims by six parties in the South China Sea region.

Such patrols, representing a most serious U.S. challenge to China’s territorial sovereignty and lawful and legitimate maritime rights and interests, will impact the other claimants of the issue, and encourage their illegal demands.

Actually, China has never stopped its efforts to peacefully solve the disputes. Last Tuesday, senior diplomats from China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations just consulted on a code of conduct (COC) for the South China Sea, and formulated a list of crucial issues and an outline of the COC.

Thirdly, Washington’s allegation to exert so-called rights of freedom of navigation as the international law allows are outright lies. China has never done anything to infringe upon the freedom of navigation in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

Out of ulterior motives, the U.S. military has been conducting frequent close-in reconnaissance activities against China in the latter’s costal waters and Special Economic Zones, which should be blamed.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged the U.S. side on Tuesday “not to act in imprudent way and not to make trouble out of nothing” in the South China Sea. “We advise the U.S. side to think twice before its action,” he warned.

 

arleigh burke class

Russian Electronic Warfare Jamming All Radar Within 300 km of Latakia?

[SEE:  The Real Buzz About the USS Donald Cook Incident In the Black Sea]

Syria, Putin is flexing its muscles and obscures the NATO radar. Pentagon panic!!!

blasting news BLASTING NEWS

The Russian military intervention in Syria as becomes manifestation of power that overturns the strategic balance in the world.

The Russian military intervention in Syria has become a manifestation of power that overturns the strategic balance in the world: the army of Moscow has “blinded” completely the US and NATO, preventing them to observe what is happening on the ground. Only the Russians and the Syrians have the ability to assess the situation on the ground, warns Thierry Meyssan. Moscow and Damascus intend to make the most of their advantage and thus maintain the secrecy of their operations. They would have been killed at least 5,000 jihadists, including many leaders of Ahrar al-Sham, Al-Qaeda and Isis, while at least 10,000 mercenaries fled to Turkey, Iraq and Jordan. The Syrian army and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah have regained the ground without waiting for the Iranians announced reinforcements. The Pentagon is dazed, “divided between those who seek to minimize the facts and to find a flaw in the Russian system and those who, on the contrary, believe that the United States have lost their superiority in the field of conventional war and that they will need many years to recover. ”

Even ten days ago, Meyssan writes about “Voltaire Network,” the former defense secretary Robert Gates and former adviser to Condoleezza Rice spoke lasicurezza national Russian army as a force of “second class.” How is it possible that Russia is able to produce high-tech weapons that the Pentagon not judge the extent of the phenomenon? “In Washington, the shock is so great that the White House has just canceled the official visit of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and a delegation of the Russian general staff,” adds Meyssan. “The decision was taken after a similar visit to Turkey by a delegation from the Russian military.” In fact, he realizes that “it is useless to discuss the operations in Syria because the Pentagon does not know what is happening.” Furious, the “liberal hawks” and the neocons ‘claim to increase the military budget “, and meanwhile they got from Obama’ stop the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.”

The situation is literally reversing, the analyst continues: “Russia is not doing nothing but save the Syrian people and the other Member proposes to collaborate with them, while the United States held the record when the military imposed its own economic system and destroyed many states. ” There is no doubt that the uncertain statements of Washington during deployment Russian, before the offensive, “should not be interpreted as a slow adaptation of the political official rhetoric,” but what actually expressed: “The Pentagon did not know the territory. He became deaf and blind. ” After the incident at the US naval unit, the USS Donald Cook, broken down over the Black Sea April 12, 2014 after being overflown by a Sukhoi Su-24 equipped with equipment for electronic warfare, showed that ” the Russian air force has a weapon that can overshadow all the radar, control circuits, transmission systems information. ”

At the beginning of his military deployment, Moscow has installed north of Latakia center disorder (radar jamming) very powerful: “Suddenly you are rechecked the incident of Donald Cook, but this time in a radius of 300 km, comprising the NATO base at Incirlik in Turkey. He still goes on. ” Since the event occurred during a sandstorm intensity historic, says Meyssan, the Pentagon initially thought that his detection devices were out of order, before realizing that they were all blacked out. Today, the analyst continues, the modern conventional warfare is based on technology “C4i” or “command”, “control”, “communications”, “computer” and “intelligence”. “The satellites, aircraft and drones, ships and submarines, tanks, and now the fighters are linked by communications permanent allowing states more to drive the battles. Is all this together, the nervous system of NATO, which has now been overshadowed in Syria and in Turkey. ”

Indonesia/India Claim Arrest of Notorious Hindu Crime Lord, Chota Rajan

IANS  |  Mumbai/New Delhi

Absconding mafia don Rajendra Sadashiv Nikhalje alias Chhota Rajan, a former aide who later turned a foe of fugitive Dawood Ibrahim, has been arrested in the Indonesian resort of Bali, the said on Monday.

CBI director Anil Kumar Sinha said Chhota Rajan, who operated out of Mumbai and wanted in India for a series of serious crimes, was taken into custody on Sunday when he was travelling under a false identity — Mohan Kumar.

Home Minister Rajnath Singh thanked Interpol and the Indonesian government for their cooperation in nabbing Chhota Rajan, who began life as a black marketer of movie tickets before embracing murders, extortion, kidnappings and more.

“India was active on this case… I want to thank Interpol and the Indonesian government for this. Post-verification, investigation will be taken forward,” Rajnath Singh told the media in New Delhi.

Chhota Rajan, 55, operated from Chembur and surroundings from the mid-1970s when he became a trusted henchman of Dawood, India’s most wanted don who is reportedly hiding in Pakistan.

Among many crimes to his credit, Chhota Rajan’s name figured prominently in the killing of Mumbai journalist J. Dey in Mumbai on June 11, 2011.

Dawood and Chhota Rajan fell out after the bloody March 1993 Mumbai serial blasts that Dawood ordered to avenge the communal riots in the city two months previously and the earlier Babri mosque razing.

Chhota Rajan, who opposed the Mumbai bombings, slipped out of India in 1995 and remained on the run till his arrest on Sunday.

The CBI chief said the arrest was made by the Indonesian police following a request from India.

According to media reports, the don — declared a wanted man by Interpol since 1995 – flew into Indonesia’s Bali province, home to a large number of Hindus, from Sydney in Australia on Sunday afternoon.

Senior officials in Maharashtra declined to comment on the arrest, which will have both immediate and long-term implications for Mumbai’s underworld.

The Indonesia police acted following a tip from from their Australian counterparts, a Bali police official told the media.

The Australian Federal Police had been keeping a track of Chhota Rajan.

Chhota Rajan began his life of crime as a black marketer of movie tickets over two decades ago. Slowly, he took to murders, extortion, kidnappings and other serious crimes once he joined the Mumbai underworld.

 

Forget China, Saudi Arabia Could Demolish The US Dollar

Forget China, Saudi Arabia Could Demolish The US Dollar

zero hedge

Saudi ArabiaSource: Internations.org

You probably have heard this numerous times before; the Chinese position in US Treasuries is outright dangerous and China could single-handedly force the US Dollar to weaken quite substantially. Whilst that’s definitely correct, it sure looks like one is overlooking the impact the low oil price has on the public finances of Saudi Arabia.

As the country is mainly depending on exporting its oil to keep its government budget balances, the Kingdom has been hit extremely hard by the 60% drop in the oil price as an almost certain budget surplus was suddenly converted in a huge budget deficit. In fact even during the darkest hours of the Global Financial Crisis, not a lot of countries saw their government budgets dip into the red by in excess of 20%!

Saudi Arabia Deficit

Source: The Guardian

The main problem is the fact Saudi Arabia had been using an assumed oil price of $100/barrel to balance its budget and as the current oil price is less than $50/barrel, a lot of government officials will be scratching their heads. A huge budget deficit also means the Saudi’s will be scrambling to get their hands on cash and earlier this year the country has completed the first debt offering in almost 10 years!

But that won’t really help much. Raising a few billion dollars in government debt won’ offset a lot of the expected $150B deficit and the officials in Riyadh will continue to target the country’s sovereign wealth fund (well, it’s not ‘officially’ a sovereign wealth fund, but just an investment division of the central bank) which is the third largest  in the world and had in excess of $750B in assets before the oil price started to fall.

Saudi Arabia Foreign Reserves

Source: tradingeconomics.com

The Saudi Arabian wealth fund was an excellent performer as it yielded an average 11% return over the past 10 years and this might be the country’s best bet to get out of the current oil crisis. But that’s also where the US Dollar comes into play.

Saudi Arabia Reserves

And zooming in:

Saudi Arabia ZoomIn

Source: International Monetary Fund

The original purpose of the fund was to make sure the Saudi economy remained relatively stable, and the assets could and should be monetized to soften sudden economic shocks. To serve this purpose, the country’s cash was invested in low-risk and highly liquid investments, such as US Treasury bills. It’s impossible to know how many hundreds of billions Saudi Arabia has invested in US debt securities as the American government doesn’t want you to know how which gulf country owns how much of the US debt (Government Accounting Office, 1979). But as the Saudi’s have virtually pegged their currency to the US Dollar, we would dare to bet in excess of half of the fund’s assets are held in US debt securities as it fits the bill in terms of a) liquidity, b) ‘safety’ and c) currency protection.

Even if you’d assume Saudi Arabia would be able to raise $30B per year in government debt, it still has a $120B gap to cover and the only decent solution would be to start selling US debt. This could put additional pressure on the financial markets as it won’t be easy to absorb this kind of selling.

That’s yet another reason why the Federal Reserve won’t be able to increase the interest rates anytime soon. Saudi Arabia’s gradual selling could be taken care of by the market but imagine the USA would start to increase its interest rates as well. A snowball-effect isn’t out of the question at all, and the pressure on the government bonds would be even higher and instead of a stronger Dollar, the US Dollar would be weaker. It will be extremely interesting to see more updates from the Saudi’s to see how much of the US treasuries it has already sold and how it plans to tackle its government deficit.

Because no matter what happens (excluding a sudden jump in the oil price), in 4 years from now, Saudi Arabia’s foreign reserves will be depleted. And that will most definitely fuel additional unrest in the Middle East.

To the Al-Saud War Criminals, “Defense” Is Considered “Aggression”

[“Royalty” is NOT USED TO being questioned by INFERIORS, a.k.a., “INFIDELS,” (anyone who gets in the way of their unlimited ambition).  More often than not, all of the so-called “ENEMIES” of the Al Saud family are NOT ATTACKING, THEY ARE DEFENDING against Saudi aggression.   FALSE FLAG attacks are the lubricant that greases the wheels of the Saudi train of attack, enabling the real war criminals to go forward.  (SEE: “Proxy” War No More: Qatar Threatens Military Intervention In Syria Alongside “Saudi, Turkish Brothers”).]

Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister on Monday urged Iran to stop “meddling” in the affairs of the kingdom’s neighbours, warning that Riyadh stood ready to confront Tehran’s actions.

Iran openly backs President Bashar al-Assad in the Syrian war and is accused of also being behind rebels who overran large parts of Yemen last year and early this year.

“We wish that Iran would change its policies and stop meddling in the affairs of other countries in the region, in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Yemen,” Adel al-Jubeir said at joint press briefing with his German counterpart Frank-Walter Steinmeier in Riyadh.

“It is difficult to have positive relations” with Tehran, “when Saudi Arabia and its people are the target of continuous aggression” from the kingdom’s arch rival, said Jubeir.

Saudi Arabia supports rebel groups who are fighting to oust Assad in the Syrian conflict.

“We will make sure that we confront Iran’s actions and shall use all our political, economic and military powers to defend our territory and people,” said Jubeir.

He accused Iran of acting like a “colonising state” in Syria, and demanded it pull its fighters out of the country and stop supplying arms to Assad.

Otherwise, “it will be difficult (for Iran) to play a role” in finding a solution for the conflict in Syria, he said.

Steinmeier, who visited Iran before Saudi Arabia, said it was “very difficult at the moment to really bridge the deep divide between Tehran and Riyadh”.

Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday in a joint news conference with Steinmeier that “Iran does not seek to eliminate Saudi Arabia but also will not let Saudi Arabia eliminate Iran from the region.”

Pro-US, Anti-Russia, Anti-EU, Anti-Immigrant, Poland’s “Eurosceptics” Win

Eurosceptics triumph in Poland vote – exit polls

times of malta
The leader of Poland’s main opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski prepares to address the public as his daughter Marta (left) looks on after the exit poll results were announced in Warsaw, Poland yesterday. Photo: Reuters
The leader of Poland’s main opposition party Law and Justice (PiS) Jaroslaw Kaczynski prepares to address the public as his daughter Marta (left) looks on after the exit poll results were announced in Warsaw, Poland yesterday. Photo: Reuters

 

Poland’s eurosceptic Law and Justice party (PiS) was on course to unseat the ruling Civic Platform (PO) after eight years in power, an exit poll showed late yesterday, a result that could set the country at odds with some of its European allies.

Run by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, the twin brother of Poland’s late president Lech, PiS secured 39.1 per cent of the vote, well ahead of the centrist, staunchly pro-European Union PO on 23.4 per cent, said pollster Ipsos.

A triumphant Kaczynski immediately declared victory. Such a score would give PiS 242 seats in the 460-member lower house of parliament, the exit poll showed, allowing the party to govern alone without the need for a coalition partner.

Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz of PO swiftly conceded defeat.

Poland has seen its economy, the largest in ex-communist central Europe, expand by nearly 50 per cent in the last decade. But PiS was able to tap into widespread anger that the fruits of growth have not been evenly shared among the country’s 38 million people. Distrustful of the EU and an advocate of a strong Nato stance in dealing with Moscow, the party opposes joining the Eurozone any time soon, promises more welfare spending on the poor and wants banks subject to new taxation.e

PiS has opposed relocating migrants from the Middle East to Poland, arguing they could threaten Poland’s Catholic way of life. Mr Kaczynski raised eyebrows this month by warning they could bring disease and parasites with them.

On the campaign trail, Mr Kaczynski and other PiS leaders sought to tap into anger that the economic success is not more evenly shared out and into nationalist sentiment fanned by immigration fears, particularly among young voters.

“There is a broader phenomenon of a return to national, religious, community values being seen all across Europe,” said analyst Aleksander Smolar.

“PiS uses clear… language in this respect.”

PiS advocates a robust Western approach towards Russia, especially following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula in Poland’s eastern neighbour Ukraine.
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Saudi Bribery To Egypt Insufficient To Purchase al-Sisi Disloyalty To Bashar Assad

[SEE:  Sisi’s attempts to rehabilitate Assad… A different tune to the Gulf]

Saudi, Egypt have ‘similar’ stance on Syria

al arabiya

Saudi foreign minister says some progress made toward common position on Syria, and more consultations are needed. (File photo: AP)

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubair said on Sunday both Cairo and Riyadh have a “similar” stance on Syria during his visit to Egypt, Al Arabiya News Channel reported.

In a joint press conference with his Egyptian counterpart, Jubair reiterated Saudi stance that there is “no place” for embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a future and post-civil war Syria.

Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said there were “no differences” between Riyadh and Cairo on Syria and emphasized that they both have a “similar” position.

Jubair’s statement comes after his comments on Thursday saying that Assad’s clinging to power is working as a “magnet” by allowing foreign militants to recruit more fighters, and he must go to rid Syria of ISIS.

Meanwhile, the foreign minister said international talks to find a solution to the conflict in Syria had yielded some progress but more consultations were required.

“I believe that there has been some progress and positions have moved closer on finding a solution to the Syrian crisis, but I cannot say that we have reached an agreement. We still need more consultations … to reach this point,” he told a news conference in Cairo after meeting his Egyptian counterpart.

Moscow says Assad must be part of any political transition and that the Syrian people will decide who rules them.

Washington has said it could tolerate Assad during a short transition period, but that he would then have to then exit the political stage.

In a flurry of diplomatic activity around the Syria crisis, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited Riyadh on Saturday and the two countries agreed to boost support for Syria’s moderate opposition while seeking a political resolution to the four-year-old conflict.

Turkish Industry Partners With Japan In Central Asia

ISTANBUL — Japanese companies are increasingly using Turkey as a steppingstone leading to the resource-rich markets of Central Asia and the Caucasus.

The region boasts a wealth of natural gas, minerals and other resources, and its economies are growing fast. Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan logged growth of 6-10% last year. Kazakhstan’s gross domestic product per capita stands at about $12,000, above the $10,000 mark indicating affluence.

Confirmed natural gas reserves in Central Asia and the Caucasus total roughly 80% of those in Middle Eastern gas giant Qatar, according to BP.

Mitsubishi Corp. and Turkish conglomerate Calik Holding received a $1.3 billion contract Monday from a state-run Turkmenistan chemical company for a large fertilizer plant in Garabogaz, on the shore of the Caspian Sea. Gap Insaat, a unit of Calik, will build the facility, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries will handle design and procure machinery and materials.

The plant will process natural gas from Turkmenistan to make urea, and its entire output will be exported. Its daily capacity is expected to come to roughly 3,500 tons, likely making it one of the world’s largest urea plants. Production is slated to begin in 2018.

Eight countries in Central Asia and the Caucasus boast a total population of 84 million, larger than that of Turkey, whose exports to the region between January and June reached an estimated $4.1 billion.

The region is close to Turkey ethnically as well, with five countries there speaking Turkic languages. Turkish businesses have connections in the region and know how to secure workers.

The Turkish arms of a growing number of Japanese companies are starting to develop markets in Central Asia and the Caucasus.

Achievements such as the world’s largest enclosed Ferris wheel highlight Turkmenistan’s growing economy.

Sales at air conditioner maker Daikin Industries’ Turkish unit jumped 34% last fiscal year to 695 million lira ($321 million). Exports grew 21% overall, but shipments to Central Asia and the Caucasus swelled 58%. Mitsubishi Electric has used Turkey as a base to expand elevator sales, supplying elevators for the Flame Towers in Baku, Azerbaijan.

Toyota Motor’s Turkish subsidiary began exporting the Corolla sedan to Central Asia and the Caucasus in July of last year. It expects shipments to grow 36% next year to around 4,000 units. It had positioned Turkey as a production base for exports to Europe, but it will make an effort to cultivate nearby emerging markets as well.

Russia receives authorization to strike Daesh inside Iraq

Russia receives authorization to strike Daesh inside Iraq

anadolu agency turk state

Iraq has been gripped by security vacuum since June 2014 when Daesh stormed Mosul

BAGHDAD

The Iraqi government authorized Russia to target Daesh convoys coming from Syria, a senior Iraqi official said.

The authorization for Russia to target Daesh inside Iraq comes amid security coordination between Iraq, Russia, Iran and Syria.

Hakem al-Zamli, chief of the Iraqi parliament’s security and defense committee, told Anadolu Agency on Friday that the measure contributed to weakening Daesh by cutting off its supply routes.

Russia, an ally of the Assad regime, began carrying out airstrikes in Syria on Sept. 30. According to the Kremlin, the strikes are aimed at weakening the Daesh militant group, an avowed enemy of the regime.

Turkey and several western countries, however, accuse Russia of targeting moderate groups in Syria opposed to Assad, many of which enjoy the support of Ankara and Washington.

Iraq has been gripped by a security vacuum since June 2014 when Daesh stormed the northern city of Mosul and declared a self-styled caliphate in parts of Iraq and Syria.

Lavrov Offers Russian Air Support To Syrian Opposition That Is “Fighting ISIS”

[Western media have been pushing the idea that Lavrov offered air support to FSA, without clarifying that Sec. Lavrov was addressing only those “fighting ISIS”.]

Lavrov: Russia is ready to offer air support to Syrian opposition

“fighting ISIS”

Russia-Today

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov © Maksim Blinov
Russia says it is ready to provide air support, in the form of airstrikes, to help Syrian opposition forces, like the Free Syrian Army, who are fighting Islamic State, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavorov says.

Russia’s top diplomat also added that Washington is making a big mistake by refusing to coordinate their anti-terror campaign with Moscow.

We are ready to back the patriotic opposition, including the so-called Free Syrian Army, with our air support. However, Washington is refusing to inform us of the locations of the terrorists and where the opposition is based,” Lavrov said in an interview with the Rossiya television channel.

The most important thing for us is to find people who will be true representatives of the armed groups who will confront terrorism among other things,” he added.

According to Lavrov, Russia “has never stopped working” either with Syrian President Bashar Assad, or with the Syrian opposition.

I believe we are probably the only country which supported and will support contacts with all political forces in Syria,” he said.

“Foreign players” cannot decide anything for Syrian people, the Russian Foreign Minister has said.

“We have to make them choose their own process for how their country should live on and protect the interests of every confessional, ethnic or political group. Of course, this work should be done in preparation for elections, both parliamentary and presidential.”

Russia launched airstrikes targeting positions of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants in Syria on September 30 following a formal request from President Bashar Assad. As of October 23, Moscow’s air force has destroyed 819 IS targets in 934 sorties, according to Defence Ministry.

US May Obtain Mary Air Base In Turkmenistan

The Turkmen Mary may receive US base

ng.ru
Viktoria Panfilova

MaryTurkmenistan pipeline Galkinish, US base Turkmen delegation at the talks in Washington to discuss security issues of the country. Photo from the official website of the US Embassy in Turkmenistan

Ashgabat started implementation of the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI). Its resource base will be one of the largest deposits of “Galkynysh”, which will develop Japan and China. Security guarantees will provide the United States. This may cause a confrontation with Beijing Ashgabat, who wanted to personally engage in “Galkinish”, as well as Moscow and Tehran, who opposes traditional appearance or strengthening of the US in the areas of its traditional geopolitical influence.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, October 22-28, in the framework of Central Asian tour to visit Ashgabat. It is expected that negotiations with the leaders of the Central Asian countries will mainly be devoted to energy. Japan wants to get the cooperation of the region according to the formula “technology in exchange for resources.” Tokyo, in particular, is prepared to invest $ 2 billion. To the port of Turkmenbashi. Earlier, an agreement was reached on the participation of Japanese corporations in the projects of construction and oil and gas industry of Turkmenistan. In particular, the corporation Mitsubishi, Chiyoda, Sojits, Itochu and JGC concluded a framework agreement with the State Concern “Turkmengaz” in the arrangement of the field “Galkynysh”, from which will start the TAPI pipeline.

In terms of gas reserves “Galkinish” second only to “South Pars” and is the second in the world in terms of reserves – 21.2 trillion cubic meters. meters of gas. The emergence of Japan as a developer of deposits is unlikely to please China – two years ago, “Turkmengaz” and China Development Bank after talks of heads of state, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov and Xi Jinping signed an agreement under which China agreed to build another branch pipeline from Turkmenistan to China from the field “Galkynysh” , including the agreement on the presence of a third party was not a word.

At the same time, Turkmenistan started construction of main arterial TAPI gas pipeline stretching 1,735 km and a volume of over 30 billion cubic meters. meters of gas per year. Part of the pipe length of 215 km, which will take place on the territory of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat build at its own expense and on their own. This project has been repeatedly postponed due to the unstable situation in Afghanistan. Today the situation in this country, at least not improved, and, apparently, the pipeline is connected with some enhanced security guarantees that Ashgabat has received from Washington during the recent visit of Foreign Minister of Turkmenistan Rashid Meredov in the United States.

Expert on Central Asia and the Middle East, Alexander Knyazev, does not exclude that the Americans promised security and on the border, and for the construction of TAPI in exchange for the placement of its Air Force at the airport Mary-2. “The details are still unknown. All I know is that, apparently, because of this, without explanation canceled the proposed visit to Ashgabat, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, and was promoted the status of the Turkmen-American consultations on which, in fact, everything is discussed, “- said,” NG “Alexander Knyazev . According to him, the US side is happening is planned: just look at what the main points of the base and the US military presence precisely coincide with the route of TAPI. “In the same context, must be considered and the question of the extension of time and an increase in the size of the US presence in Afghanistan after the events in Kunduz, and Faryab, which could also be planned just as a pretext for the US in Afghanistan reincarnation. And the degree of panic around the Tajik-Afghan border in this case can be reduced to the order, the fun will take place in the Turkmen direction, “- said the expert.

Director of the Analytical Center of MGIMO Andrei Kazantsev noted that “there is such an arrangement, based on preliminary agreements: Japan gets the field” Galkynysh “, and begins construction of TAPI, which corresponds to US interests in the framework of the project” Greater Central Asia “. The meaning of it was just hovering in the region of contact between the AfPak (Afghanistan-Pakistan) and post-Soviet Central Asia to stabilize the situation in these countries with the help of energy projects that interest and Kabul and Islamabad. “The United States is to afford a military airport Mary-2, which is claimed for a long time, and give security guarantees to Turkmenistan”, – said the “NG” Andrei Kazantsev.

In his opinion, such a linkage between the geopolitical interests of the US and Japanese economic is not new and is found in Asia quite often. “In favor of the close of the show, not only the visit of the Japanese prime minister to the region and plans for TAPI, and visit of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan in the United States, as well as – the recent statement of the Turkmen Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the President of Kazakhstan Nursultan Nazarbayev (and indirectly, the head of Vladimir Putin) that on the Turkmen-Afghan border, all right, and do not talk about the presence there of some threats, “- said Kazantsev. In his opinion, it is reasonable to assume that this statement Ashgabat hinted Russia and Kazakhstan that they “climbed” in Turkmen affairs, and he is going to agree with everything the West.

Japan and Turkmenistan Govt. Strike Deal To Develop TAPI and Super-giant ‘Galkinish’ gas field

Japanese consortium to equip Turkmen ‘Galkinish’ gas field

VESTNIK KAVKAZA

 Oct 17

Turkmenistan has signed a framework agreement with a consortium of a number of leading Japanese companies, according to which it will equip part of the ‘Galkynysh’ gas field, the Neutral Turkmenistan newspaper writes.

The construction of the gas field will allow an uninterrupted supply of the necessary volumes of natural gas for TAPI. According to preliminary estimates, ‘Galkinish’  is the second-largest gas field in the world according to the amount of gas, with estimated reserves of 21.2 trillion cubic meters of gas.

The Galkynysh Gas Field, formerly known as Iolotan gas field or South Yolotan

[Is the unanticipated, wholly unexplained, sudden, simultaneous resurgeance of the likewise moribund Afghan Taliban movement purely coincidental?  (SEE:  Collusion and Subterfuge Between Fake Taliban, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and US—ALL FOR TAPI )  Watch for the Taliban to suddenly strike-up a peace deal in the ongoing Chinese-brokered Afghan peace negotiations, which will allow TAPI to go forward.  If all of this happens, then it will mean that the new fake Taliban, under “Mullah Mansour,” will have suddenly gotten a lot richer.]

[Japan has breathed new life into the seemingly moribund project (SEE: Engineering-exploration works began on TAPI gas pipeline route—09.03.2015).] 

“A working meeting of experts of SC “Turkmengas” with representatives of Japanese corporations – “Mitsubishi”, “Chiyoda”, “Sojits”, “Itochu” and “JGC” has taken place the other day in the Central building of the Oil and gas complex of Turkmenistan. Interaction with Japanese partners is an important component for our country in a context of development of cooperation of Turkmenistan with the Asian region as a whole. Development of economic partnership, realization of joint projects in gas sphere became a theme of Turkmen-Japanese negotiations. First of all, there was a discussion on the third stage of development of a super huge “Galkynysh” deposit. Issues on use of high technologies in primary cleaning of natural gas produced here and construction of modern gas-purifying plant, as well as feasibility study of this project have been discussed. Results of discussion are closely connected with preparation of resource base for the TAPI pipeline, which will sell 33 billion cubic meters of gas per year.”

Japan: ISIS Recruiting Ground?
Sheik Hasan Nakata“Sheik Hasan Nakata”, a.k.a., Ko Nakata, a former Islamic law professor at Doshisha University

“Doshisha Initiative for Afghan Reconciliation Negotiations”.. Ko NAKATA.

Doshisha Center for Peace and Development In Afghanistan

Is Turkmenistan’s gas line a pipe dream?

“Turkmenistan insists that the pipeline’s construction will start by the end of 2015. The visit in May (20) of Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to Ashgabat seemed to confirm this – both sides pledged to put fast track the project.—-(22 June 2015, attack on the Afghan parliament in Kabul )

Likewise the recent visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Turkmenistan () is also being seen as a boost to the project.

TurkmenGaz, Afghan Gas Enterprise, Inter State Gas Systems (Pakistan) and GAIL (India) are all equal shareholders in the Tapi Pipeline Company which will build, own and operate the pipeline.”

April 18, 2015
suicide bomb attack on a bank branch in Jalalabad–[FAZLULLAH, ISIS] has killed at least 35 people–Taliban condemns ISIS for deadly bombing in Afghanistan

9 April 2015
Gunmen dressed in military uniforms have stormed the office of the attorney general in the northern Afghan city of Mazar-e-Sharif, killing at least 10 people–Afghan attack: Deadly gun battle in Mazar-e-Sharif

24 Mar 2015
Bus passengers killed in Afghanistan attack, 13 people dead in Wardak province–[indicates Fazlullah faction, a.k.a., “ISIS IN AFGHANISTAN”]

Opening Statement  H.E. Daud S. Saba

Minister of Mines and Petroleum of Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

for TAPI 21st Steering Committee Meeting

19March 2015, Delkusha Palace, Kabul, Afghanistan

Afghanistan to deploy 7,000 troops to guard TAPI pipeline
December 13, 2010

 

New Taliban Offensive Is Laying Siege To TAPI Pipeline Route…Coincidence?

(SEE:  Collusion and Subterfuge Between Fake Taliban, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and US—ALL FOR TAPI

A domino effect in Afghanistan

aljazeera

Violence in northern Afghanistan threatens the country’s vulnerable populations and jeopardises nationwide stability.

The rise in militias proves even more corrosive as it loosens the already-tenuous grasp of the National Unity Government, writes Zafar [EPA]The rise in militias proves even more corrosive as it loosens the already-tenuous grasp of the National Unity Government, writes Zafar [EPA]

 

Morwari Zafar

Morwari Zafar is an international security consultant and a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Oxford.

Across a 12,500km expanse of well-irrigated valleys, Faryab province in northern Afghanistan used to be a stable, economically self-sufficient home to nearly one million multiethnic inhabitants.

But today, Faryab simmers dangerously. Against the backdrop of the US government’s latest extension of its military commitment to Afghanistan, it is worth noting that the province is precariously situated along the same political faultlines that recently rattled Kunduz province.

Continued instability in Faryab and its adjacent provinces risks undermining the country at a time when Afghanistan is haemorrhaging on all fronts.

Undermining the government

Why is Obama changing his mind on Afghanistan?

It is no secret that Faryab has been a hotbed of insurgent activity since the civil war of the 1990s. Its lucrative natural resources and agriculturally viable land have been embroiled in a tug-of-war between two political parties, Jamaat-e-Islami and Junbish-i-Mill Islami.

But for several years, the area has also become a safe haven to fighters from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) and the Quetta Shura Taliban who have both sought to establish operational bases in a collaborative attempt to subvert the central government.

In fact, a Quetta Shura leader died in Faryab on October 5, during a battle with the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) following a Taliban assault on Maymana, the provincial capital, in which almost 10 percent of the population live.

This came in the wake of several clashes last month in which the Taliban not only attacked Maymana, but also captured Qaisar and Almar districts from the ANSF, forcing school closures, under Islamic law, and preventing many households from farming – the main source of livelihood in the province.

Roughly 30 percent of the province’s populations live in Qaisar and Almar districts, which serve as strategic supply points for cross-border trade with Turkmenistan.

The current situation represents a drastic escalation of fighting from August of this year, when Afghanistan’s vice president (a member of Junbish-i-Milli Islami) and former Northern Alliance commander, General Ahmad Rashid Dostum, personally led clearance operations in the area with the Afghan military.

But with the ANSF forced to retreat due to insufficient equipment, Faryab remains vulnerable to further infiltration by IMU, Taliban, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), to whom the IMU has pledged support.

Undermining the economy

The political erosion in the north is also an ominous indicator of the decline of President Ghani’s plan for stability and development.

Foreign direct investment fell by 30 percent in the first half of this year and economic growth slowed to two percent from an average of nine percent between 2003 and 2012.

Tucked in the hem of Turkmenistan, Faryab maintains a key geographic position for Afghanistan’s economic interests. Its location and resources are indispensable to the Afghan government’s strategy of regional trade along the historical Silk Road trade route and increasing foreign investment in Afghanistan’s natural resources and extractive industry.

A young Afghan displaced from her home in Faryab province as the Afghan army carries out a full-scale military operation against militants [EPA]

Mostly an agricultural area containing marble and some oil reserves, Faryab is a transit point for the Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistan-India (TAPI) pipeline.

With an estimated revenue yield of $400m a year, the pipeline not only reinforces the regional economic links coveted by Ghani, its revenue would help substantially displace the donor aid that currently furnishes more than 90 percent of Afghanistan’s budget.

Instability in Faryab also threatens to exacerbate a different power struggle. The Sheberghan gas fields in neighbouring Jowzjan province have been tapped as a critical resource in meeting Afghanistan’s projected energy need for 3,000 megawatts (MW) by 2020.

Currently, the country’s capacity is limited to approximately 600MW – Kabul alone operates on a regular 150MW shortage.

According to some reports, Afghanistan demands only five percent of what a country such as the United Kingdom requires, despite serving only double the number of people.

To meet Afghanistan’s energy goals, the Sheberghan Gas Development Project, funded by the United States Agency for International Development, is expected to deliver 200MW of power by the end of 2017, but escalated insecurity could compromise the infrastructure anticipated for power transmission from Sheberghan to Puli Khumri in Baghlan province.

Undermining the population

For the 15,000 Afghans displaced by fighting in Faryab and its surrounding areas, the writing is on the wall. The central government and the military at best represent a filigree of governance, its fragility belied by political platitudes.

The economy fares no better. Security continues to threaten local lives forcing people into resource-poor mountainous areas. While aid organisations like the Norwegian Council on Refugees are doing what they can to remedy the situation, the government still lacks the capacity and infrastructure to handle mass population movements.

The sustained deluges of violence not only stymie efforts to access vulnerable populations, but they also jeopardise any gains in social development, such as education and health provision, including the establishment of the University of Faryab in 2012.

If Faryab collapses, it will unleash a terrifying domino effect in an area Afghanistan cannot afford to lose. The only way the NUG and the international community can get ahead is to pick up the pieces before they fall.

  ipMorwari Zafar is an international security consultant and a PhD candidate in anthropology at the University of Oxford.

Russia Consults with Arab/Middle Eastern Leaders, Except for Qatar

[Notice that Qatar was NOT invited to the phone party (SEE: Qatar Thinks That It Can Threaten Russia with Military Force In Syria and Survive the Attempt).]

Putin discusses situation in Syria with Egyptian, Jordanian, Saudi, Turkish leaders

tass russian news

The conversations took place at Russia’s initiative

© ITAR-TASS/Alexey Druzhinin

MOSCOW, October 21. /TASS/. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday held phone talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, Jordanian King Abdullah II, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Kremlin press service reported.

“The talks focused on the situation in Syria and joint fight against international terrorism,” the Kremlin said.

The conversations took place at Russia’s initiative.

“In that context, the president of Russia informed the partners of the results of yesterday’s talks in Moscow with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,” the statement said.

“The sides agreed to continue contacts on the Syrian issues in various formats,” it said.

The talks between Putin and Assad took place on Tuesday. The head of the Russian state assured his Syrian counterpart that Moscow’s position on Syria is unchanged: long-term settlement may only be achieved on the basis of political process with participation of all political forces, ethnic and religious groups. He also confirmed Russia’s readiness to make its contribution to the fight against terrorism.

Assad thanked Putin for his assistance to Syria. In his view, terrorism, which the region is currently fighting, is a real obstacle on the way to political settlement in the country.

Assad’s visit to the Russian Federation became his first foreign trip since the aggravation of the Syrian crisis in 2011.

Russia’s Aerospace Forces started delivering pinpoint strikes at facilities of the Islamic State terrorist organization in Syria on September 30. The air group comprises over 50 aircraft and helicopters, including Sukhoi Su-24M, Su-25SM and state-of-the-art Su-34 aircraft. Hundreds of terrorist facilities have been hit by Russian aircraft.

On October 7, four missile ships of the Russian Navy’s Caspian Flotilla fired 26 Kalibr cruise missiles (NATO codename Sizzler) at militants’ facilities in Syria. On October 8, the Syrian army passed to a large-scale offensive.

Russia’s Armed Forces act on a request from Syrian President Bashar Assad. The Russian Federation does not plan to take part in ground operations in Syria.

According to UN statistics, fighting between Syrian government troops and militants has killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions since its start in 2011.

An international peace conference on Syria, dubbed Geneva-2, organized by Russia and the United States and designed to negotiate a solution to the Syrian crisis, held in January and February 2014, brought no particular progress.

Qatar Thinks That It Can Threaten Russia with Military Force In Syria and Survive the Attempt

Qatar raises stake in Syrian conflict with talk of military intervention

doha news

Qatar foreign minister Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah

After years of calling for the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Qatar has escalated its rhetoric this week, with a senior official saying Doha would consider using military force to help the Syrian people.

Qatar Foreign Minister Dr. Khalid Al Attiyah made his remarks yesterday in an interview with CNN Arabic, during which he reiterated Qatar’ preference for a “political solution” to the Syrian civil war.

However, he went further by saying:

“Anything that protects the Syrian people and Syria from partition, we will not spare any effort to carry it out with our Saudi and Turkish brothers, no matter what this is,” Al Attiyah said, according to a text of his remarks published in Arabic by Qatar’s state news agency.

“If a military intervention will protect the Syrian people from the brutality of the regime, we will do it,” he added.

Aftermath of Russian airstrike in Syria

While an analyst said it’s unlikely Qatar would actually send its troops into Syria, the minister’s remarks suggest that that the government may increase its support for rebels inside of Syria in response to Russia’s recent bombing campaign.

Earlier this month, Qatar and its western allies accused Russia of targeting Assad’s opposition and called on the nation to “end its aggression” against Syrian rebels and civilians.

In response to Al Attiyah’s remarks, supporters of the Syrian government quickly ratcheted up their own rhetoric, warning of grave consequences if Qatar deepened its involvement in the conflict. On Twitter, pro-Syrian Lebanese politician Wiam Wahhab wrote:

(Translation: “If Qatar executes its threats by intervening militarily in Syria, then Doha will be shelled.”)

Tipping the balance

Michael Stephens, director at the Royal United Services Institute in Qatar, told Doha News that he believes it’s unlikely Qatar soldiers will be deployed to Syria, apart from potentially sending military trainers and individuals to transport weapons to rebels.

However, he said Al Attiyah is leaving the option open for more activity in Syria, such as supplying anti-tank and surface-to-air weapons in partnership with other countries opposed to al-Assad:

“(Qatar) will work with (Saudi Arabia) and Turkey to tip the balance back in favor of the rebels,” Stephens said, adding that Riyadh is leading these efforts.

“Qatar has always kept an open mind on intervention, but this is definitely an escalation in rhetoric. But talk and action are two different things. If Qatar wants to see results in Syria, it has to act (as Russian President Vladimir) Putin has raised the stakes.”

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Qatar has long supported the rebels in Syria with military training, financial assistance and diplomatic support such as UN resolutions and hosting the first opposition-operated Syrian embassy.

These efforts have made it a target for smear campaigns and cyber attacks by individuals loyal to the Syrian government.

More recently, Qatar was reportedly involved in drafting plans with Saudi Arabia and Turkey to oust al-Assad using force.

February 2012 protest against Syrian president Bashar Al Assad.

Al Attiyah previously said Qatar has also allowed some 25,000 Syrians to enter the country since the civil war began in 2011.

However, Qatar and the other Gulf states have come under criticism for not accepting any Syrians as refugees, who are typically given some form of residency status.

By contrast, many Syrians living in Qatar have renewable visitor visas, which prevents them from working.

Assad Moscow Visit Enrages Pro-ISIS Western Leadership

US, Turkey angered by Assad’s ‘red carpet’ visit to Moscow

Russia-Today

 
The US and Turkey, two of the Syrian President Bashar Assad’s key opponents, have not cheered his visit to Moscow, with the White House slamming it as a “red carpet welcome.” Russian and Syrian leaders were meeting for crisis consultations and planning.

The White House criticized the way the Syrian leader was received, saying it resembled a “red carpet welcome.” In that same statement, the US also accused Assad of using chemical weapons against his own people and questioned Russia’s interests in a political transition of power in Syria.

“We view the red carpet welcome for Assad, who has used chemical weapons against his own people, at odds with the stated goal by the Russians for a political transition in Syria,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said.

Assad has stressed on multiple occasions in the past that Western claims that his government had used chemical weapons against the Syrian population are “an insult to common sense” and “nonsense.”

READ MORE: Accusations that Syria used chemical weapon ‘against logic’ – Assad 

The State Department added that it was not shocked by Assad’s visit to Moscow considering the relationship between the two countries. “It’s not surprising that Bashar Assad would travel to Moscow, given the relationship that Syria has with Russia, and given the recent military activities by Russia in Syria on behalf of Bashar al-Assad,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said at a briefing.

In addition, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu offered sarcastic comments on the topic, stating Assad should have “stayed in Moscow” in order to kick start the transition process.

“If only he could stay in Moscow longer, to give the people of Syria some relief; in fact he should stay there so the transition can begin,” Davutoglu told reporters.
Davutoglu once again reiterated that resolving the crisis in Syria should be about Assad’s departure and not about a transition with him remaining in power.

Both the US and Turkey are meeting Russia for negotiations on Friday, along with Saudi Arabia. The foreign ministers of all four countries have also agreed to meet for talks on Syria in Vienna.

Despite the negative rhetoric, these are concrete steps being taken by key players to resolve the crisis in Syria, perhaps signaling a positive shift, RT’s Egor Piskunov said.

“It is quite rare that these key players in the Syrian crisis come together, especially Saudi Arabia, which has been on the side of the rebels fighting against Assad all along, and now they may be talking about a transition,” Piskunov said in a news report. “If we are looking at the creation of a new diplomatic quartet here on Syria, perhaps eventually the Syrian government even may be included into a political resolution of this crisis.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Syrian counterpart Bashar Assad held talks in Moscow on Tuesday.

“Yesterday evening Syrian President Bashar Assad arrived in Moscow for a working visit,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday. “President [Putin] was informed in detail by his Syrian counterpart about the current state of affairs in Syria and the long-range plan.”

Syria is a country friendly to Russia, and Moscow is ready not only to assist with fighting terrorism, but also in reaching a peaceful political settlement to the Syrian conflict in cooperation with other global and regional powers, Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

“The decisive word, without any doubt, must belong solely to the Syrian people,” Putin stressed.

The Russian President and his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, talked about Assad’s trip following the visit.

“The situation in Syria was discussed,” Peskov said. “In this context, the leader of Russia informed his Turkish counterpart about the results of Syrian President al-Assad’s visit to Moscow.”

The two leaders conducted lengthy negotiations, which then continued in the presence of Russia’s top policymakers.

Some experts have been suggesting that the West needs to reconsider its position on Assad if it wants to solve the crisis in Syria. Middle East journalist Karin Leukefeld told RT that Assad’s visit to Moscow needs to be viewed as the Syrian leader showing his willingness to negotiate.

“He wants to signal that he is ready to go outside his country to talk and to find a solution for his country and for the Syrian people. I think it is something the West should consider … The West needs to find a face-saving way to change their political line and to change their attitude towards Syria and to the Syrian president,” Leukefeld said.

Turkey Claims Bust of ISIS Cell In Istanbul, Allegedly Training Tajik Children for Uzbek Interests

They set up camp in Pendik Isidor: 29 arrested

vatan

Pendik’te IŞİD kampı kurmuşlar: 29 gözaltı
Uzbekistan is prepared to go to war in Tajikistan Isidor pure in Istanbul and was captured 24 militants and 29 children.
She trains children in the schools they established group


Istanbul Anti-Terror Branch Directorate teams held a long time to get the physical and technical follow-up and the majority of the Uzbekistani people the night before the group consisting of simultaneous operation. In follow-up made to come to Turkey illegally from eastern provinces Uzbek choose Pendik district of Istanbul as their base, and Tajikistan-born individuals recently through Syria and Iraq Isidor reached the knowledge that in preparation for joining the ranks. Thereupon predetermined Pendik 13, at a site Kayaşehir luxury 5 different addresses were raided. Special Operations teams of the land, the operation held simultaneously with helicopter air support are active under the name of the school was raided many places.
24 operations in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan nationals with children under the age of 18 and 53 people were detained. The group calls made at home gidcek of Syria and Iraq in conflict zones maps and documents that the contacts were seized.

Children Isidor training


Most of Uzbekistan nationals were taken to the Anti-Terror Branch Directorate, Vatan Caddesi 29 to 50 people for questioning. Among those detained were 24 children under the age of 18 were taken to Pendik Children’s Bureau Headquarters. Children are also being investigated by the police allegedly taken to Isidor. Özbekv police terror in pursuit of his Tajik nationals of the people they hire, especially basements in this area and were determined to turn this place into training camp. Children, introduced the organization Isidor was allegedly given training on how to live in an Islamic state.

 

The promise of 30 thousand dollars


Al Qaeda limit extension showing more activity in Afghanistan as the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, last August announced his allegiance Isidor meat. Uzbek intelligence of Uzbek militants in Syria over 5 thousand was reported that the conflict in the ranks of Isidor. Isidor Islamic groups in Uzbekistan promise of money in the reports of 30 thousand to 20 thousand fighters into their ranks to take his asserts.

China Asks: “What On Earth Makes Them Think We Will Tolerate This?”

With US Warships En Route To Islands, China Asks: “What On Earth Makes Them Think We Will Tolerate This?”

zero hedge

Tyler Durden's picture

 

The US is in a tough spot militarily.

In Syria, Russia and Iran have taken advantage of the fact that the plan hatched by the West and its regional allies to destabilize the Assad regime took far too long to develop. The idea was to foment discord and provide covert support for the various armed militias fighting to overthrow the government. But the effort is entering its fifth year and Assad is still there. Not only that, there have been a series of unintended (well, at least we hope they’re unintended) consequences. First, one of the rebel groups the West and its allies supported morphed into an insane band of white basketball shoe-wearing, black flag-waving, sword-wielding desert bandits. Second, the fighting created a horrific refugee crisis that now threatens to destabilize the whole of Europe. Sensing a historic geopolitical opportunity, Moscow and Tehran simply stepped in and outmaneuvered Washington. Now, the US basically has to decide whether it wants to go to war with Russia, because paradropping ammo into the middle of the desert isn’t going to be a viable strategy.

Meanwhile, the US faces another superpower confrontation in the South China Sea.

When Beijing began its land reclamation efforts in the Spratlys, we’re reasonably sure the Pentagon didn’t anticipate the extent to which the effort would quickly become a giant headache for Washington.

As a reminder, it’s not so much the dredging that has Washington’s regional allies in the South Pacific upset. Island building has been done before in the area. Rather, it’s the scope of the project that has everyone unnerved as Beijing has so far constructed over 3,000 acres of new sovereign territory atop which China has built everything from cement factories, to greenhouses, to runways. 

Whether or not the US really cares about this is debatable although these shipping lanes are indeed critical for world trade. But with The Philippines and others crying foul, Washington is left with little choice but to put on a brave face lest the world should get the idea that China can just redraw maritime boundaries at will and establish a Sino-Monroe Doctrine in the process. 

So finally, the US decided that it would sail some warships by the islands just to see if it can do so without getting shot at.

No, really. That’s the whole plan. “Let’s see how far we can push them.”

This is of course orchestrated under the guise of a freedom of navigation operation which, in a way, makes little sense because China has never threatened global trade. Then again, it’s fairly obvious that Beijing has some military role for the new islands in mind.

In any event, China hit back on Thursday, saying the PLA would “stand up and use force” if necessary should the US make a “mistake” with the whole warship plan.

So in short, Washington is now in a staring contest with both Moscow and Beijing and both Russia and China seem to have gotten the idea that the US has lost its resolve lately and will probably blink first in both standoffs.

It’s with all of that in mind that we bring you the following rather amusing op-ed from Beijing out Saturday on Xinhua, presented below with no further comment:

*  *  *

Via Xinhua

The United States’ provocative attempts to infringe on China’s South China Sea sovereignty are sabotaging regional peace and stability and militarizing the waters.

 

The U.S. Navy is reportedly preparing to conduct “freedom of navigation” operations, sending warships within 12 nautical miles of Chinese islands in the South China Sea. The U.S. operations may take place within days, according to reports.

 

Last month, in his response to China’s claim of sovereignty over the South China Sea, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said the United States “will fly, sail and operate wherever the international law allows, as we do around the world.”

 

White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said on Oct. 8 that U.S. warships patrolling close to artificial islands built by China in the South China Sea “should not provoke significant reaction from the Chinese.”

 

Let us not forget that in October 1962, when the Soviet Union was building missile sites in Cuba — not even on U.S. soil — U.S. President Kennedy made it clear in a televised speech that the United States would not “tolerate the existence of the missile sites currently in place.”

 

What on earth makes the United States think China should and will tolerate it when U.S. surface ships trespass on Chinese territory in the South China Sea?

 

China will never tolerate any military provocation or infringement on sovereignty from the United States or any other country, just as the United States refused to 53 years ago.

 

China’s stand on the South China Sea disputes is firm and clear. China’s sovereignty and claims of rights over Nansha Islands and their adjacent waters in the South China Sea have been formed over the long course of history and upheld by successive Chinese governments, and have adequate and solid historical and legal basis.

 

Just as Article 15 of the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea stipulates, delimiting the territorial seas of China and other countries in the South China Sea shall be in accordance with China’s “historic title” to the region.

 

China has always been, in a constructive and effective manner, a firm upholder of the freedom of navigation as well as peace and stability in the South China Sea. And China has vowed to continue to do so in the future.

 

China’s construction of civilian and public facilities on the Nansha Islands and reefs, which fall within the scope of China’s sovereignty, serves not only China but also coastal nations in the South China Sea.

 

For instance, two lighthouses recently built on reefs in the region have helped guide passing vessels from around the world and significantly improved navigation safety.

 

Contrary to U.S. claims, it will be the United States, as an outsider, that further provokes tensions in the South China Sea by sending soldiers and warships to Chinese territory in the name of “freedom of navigation.”

 

This is not the first move by the United States to undermine the regional peace and stability that China has worked so hard for.

 

Over the past several years, the United States has held frequent large-scale drills with its allies in the South China Sea, flexing their military muscles.

 

According to the website of the U.S. Department of Defense, the country has deployed thousands of civilian and military officials, as well as a huge number of weapons, to the Pacific region.

 

To destabilize the region and contain China, the United States has deliberately involved non-party nations, such as Japan, in the South China Sea issue and stirred disputes between China and other parties, including the Philippines.

 

By no means will China let the provocateurs make waves in waters that should be characterized by peace, friendship and cooperation.

 

Last year, the bilateral trade volume between China and members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) exceeded 480 billion U.S. dollars.

 

Concerned nations have no alternative but to jointly deal with disputes in the South China Sea that pose a threat to the development and prosperity of parties in the region.

 

On Sept. 18, in response to remarks made by the commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific on patrolling the South China Sea, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said China, like the United States, upholds freedom of navigation in the waters.

 

However, the spokesman stressed, China opposes any country’s challenge, in the name of freedom of navigation, to China’s sovereignty and security in the South China Sea.

 

During a visit to Europe in March 2014, Chinese president Xi Jinping stressed that his country will “never stir up any trouble, but will resolutely safeguard its legitimate rights” when it comes to sovereignty and territorial integrity.

 

Even though enhancing mutual trust and managing disputes through high-level visits and talks still remains the first option for China, the country will, without any doubt, adopt countermeasures against the United States if it doesn’t stop military provocations that infringe upon China.

 

People with vision in Washington should and must see clearly China’s determination in safeguarding national sovereignty and regional security.

 

US Claims Another Drone Kill of Another Fake Leader of Another Make-Believe Terrorist Outfit

[SEE:  The Khorosan Group Does Not Exist]

“It’s a fictitious name the Obama administration invented to deceive us.”

[SEE:  Syria rebels, experts say US airstrikes hit Al-Nusra Front not “Khorasan”]

“In Syria, no one had ever heard talk of Khorasan until the US media brought it up.”

US Claims Responsibility for Death of Moderate al Qaeda Rebel

russia insider

Al Qaeda members in Syria are either ‘moderate rebels’ when Russia is dropping bombs on them – or terrorists when it’s US doing the bombing

WASHINGTON, October 18, (Reuters) – A U.S.-led coalition air strike has killed Sanafi al-Nasr, a Saudi citizen and the leading financier for al Qaeda and its Khorasan Group offshoot, the Pentagon said on Sunday.

The Pentagon said al-Nasr had organized routes for new recruits to travel from Pakistan to Syria through Turkey and played a significant role in the group’s finances. He was killed in an air strike on Thursday in northwest Syria, it said.

“Al-Nasr was a longtime jihadist experienced in funneling money and fighters for al Qaeda. He moved funds from donors in the Gulf region into Iraq and then to al Qaeda leaders from Pakistan to Syria,” a Pentagon spokesman said in a statement.

Al-Nasr worked for al Qaeda’s Iran-based network before taking charge of the militant group’s finances in 2012 and moving to Syria in 2013, the Pentagon said.

He was the fifth senior Khorasan Group leader killed in the last four months, it said. Khorasan is a term for the area in Afghanistan and Pakistan where al Qaeda’s main council is thought to be hiding. The militants moved to Syria after the civil war erupted there and were believed to be aiding al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Nusra Front.

U.S. officials have described Khorasan as a particularly menacing faction of militants who have been using their sanctuary in Syria to try to organize plots to attack U.S. and other Western targets, possibly including airliners.

The Pentagon said al-Nasr was also known as Abdul Mohsen Adballah Ibrahim al Charekh. An al Qaeda leader by that name was mourned last year by the Nusra Front, after an attack on Syria’s coastal village of Kasab.

Also wanted in Saudi Arabia, he was designated a terrorist last year under sanctions imposed by the U.N. Security Council and the U.S. Treasury Department.

“This operation deals a significant blow to the Khorasan Group’s plans to attack the United States and our allies, and once again proves that those who seek to do us harm are not beyond our reach,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said in a statement.

ISIL Terrorists Shedding Their Beards, Fleeing Syrian Attack Zones

ISIS EVOLUTION

https://twitter.com/HalaJaber/status/653607595429756930/photo/1?ref_src=twsrctfw

jihadi hairjihadi whiskers

Russian
Russian “Beard cutters”

The Islamic State’s combat capabilities were always wildly exaggerated. Although clearly gifted at making head-chopping videos (where the actual head-chopping is edited out, because c’mon, ISIS understands it needs to stay PG-13 if it wants to reach audiences of all ages), ISIS has never faced any serious armed opposition. (They’ve been fighting the Syrian army, of course, but Assad has also been simultaneously battling with 10 other radical groups. And the U.S. dropping bombs on sand dunes doesn’t count.)

With Russia’s entry into the conflict, the months of carefree head-chopping has come to an abrupt end. Now faced with almost certain death, “radical Islamists” in Syria are having second-thoughts about martyrdom. Also, it’s time for a haircut!

Hundreds of ISIL fighters are fleeing Syria for Turkey, as Russia’s Defense Ministry previously said, and reports are popping up that they are leaving their beards behind.

According to reports, more than 100 (beardless?) ISIS fighters flee to Turkey each day — apparently disguised as “refugees”.

What’s the need for disguise, though? Turkey has been funneling weapons to ISIS since the start of this god-awful conflict. Dear ISIS fighters: March home and receive the hero’s welcome you deserve! NATO members always honor their warriors.

ISIL Created to Maintain Israel’s Security

“Were it not because of Iran’s wisdom, Syria would be in the hands of the Americans and Israelis.”

Iran’s Deputy Chief of Staff: ISIL Created to Maintain Israel’s Security

farsnews
Iran's Deputy Chief of Staff: ISIL Created to Maintain Israel's Security

TEHRAN (FNA)- Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Brigadier General Massoud Jazzayeri blasted the western countries for supporting the Takfiri terrorist groups, and said that the West has created the ISIL for the sake of maintaining the security of Israel.

“Today by looking at this issue (of terrorism) from every angle, we see the Americans standing behind the scene of ISIL terrorism in the region; they do this to sway away threats from Israel,” General Jazzayeri said on Friday, addressing the funeral procession ceremony held for two Iranian military commanders killed in Syria.

He pointed to Iran’s military counseling services for Syria and the martyrdom of Iranian military commanders in the Arab country, and said, “Were it not because of Iran’s wisdom, Syria would be in the hands of the Americans and Israelis… .”

On Tuesday, two other IRGC commanders, providing military counseling services to the Syrian forces in their fight against the Takfiri terrorists, were killed in Syria.

Colonel Farshad Hasounizadeh, the former commander of IRGC’s Saberin Special Brigade, was martyred while fulfilling his duty as military adviser in Syria and fighting the Takfiri terrorists in the Muslim country.

Also, the former commander of IRGC Hazrat Hojjat 1 Brigade Hajj Hamid Mokhtar-band, nicknamed Abu Zahra, was killed in Syria.

Both Hasounizadeh and Mokhtar-band were IRGC war veterans and were martyred in Southern Syria.

Their martyrdom comes just days after another IRGC war veteran Brigadier General Hossein Hamadani was martyred during an attack by the ISIL Takfiri terrorists in the outskirts of the city of Aleppo while fulfilling his duty as military advisor and defending the holy Shiite shrines in the country, an IRGC statement said on Friday.

General Hamadani was in Syria to render military advice to the Syrian army and popular forces in their fight against the ISIL terrorists in the Arab country.

According to Iran’s military rules, those missed or killed in operation are promoted to a higher rank and that’s why in a few Persian-language sources, Colonel Hasounizadeh has been referred to as a General.

In September 2014, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Gholam Ali Rashid announced that Iran’s military advisors are present in the friendly regional states to provide those nations with necessary military recommendations.

“Some of our commanders are in the field to give military advice to the Iraqi army, Lebanon’s Hezbollah and the Palestinian resistance movement,” Major General Rashid said, addressing a conference attended by a group of senior military commanders in Tehran.

Yemeni Hits Saudi Base with Scud Missile, Killing 66 Saudi Officers, 17 Fighter Jets, 9 Apache Helicopters

Yemeni Missile Attack Kills 66 Saudi Officers, Destroys 17 Fighter Jets, 9 Apache Helicopters

farsnews

Yemeni Missile Attack Kills 66 Saudi Officers, Destroys 17 Fighter Jets, 9 Apache Helicopters

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Yemeni army and popular forces hit a strategic military air base in Asir province in Southern Saudi Arabia with Scud missiles, killing tens of high-ranking Saudi officers and commanders and destroying over two dozen F-15 fighter jets and Apache helicopters.

At least 66 high-ranking Saudi army officers, including two senior commanders, were killed when the Yemeni missiles hit Khamis Mushait air base in Asir province in retaliation for the kingdom’s aggression against their nation.

The Yemeni forces also destroyed 17 F-15 fighter planes and 9 Apache helicopters.

About 300 Saudi officers were also injured in the Yemeni missile attack on Khamis Mushait air base.

On Thursday, Yemen’s army fired a Scud missile at Khalid bin Abdulaziz air base in Asir province.

Meanwhile, Israeli media reported that there is information confirms that Israel assisted Saudi Arabia in its war against Yemen.

On Wednesday, Saudi warplanes bombed the Yemeni Province of Ta’iz, leaving at least 4 civilians dead.

The four civilians were killed in the airstrikes that hit an airport in Ta’iz, reports said.

Also on Wednesday, Saudi air raids hit the Yemeni Province of Sa’ada, killing at least a civilian and injuring several others.

A civilian was killed and three women were injured in Saudi airstrikes on Sa’ada, sources said.

Two houses were reportedly destroyed in the airstrikes on the province.

Meanwhile, Saudi artillery and missile attacks hit various regions in the same province.

Saudi Arabia has been striking Yemen for 205 days now to restore power to Hadi, a close ally of Riyadh. The Saudi-led aggression has so far killed at least 6,638 Yemenis, including hundreds of women and children.

Hadi stepped down in January and refused to reconsider the decision despite calls by Ansarullah revolutionaries of the Houthi movement.

Despite Riyadh’s claims that it is bombing the positions of the Ansarullah fighters, Saudi warplanes are flattening residential areas and civilian infrastructures.

US and Japanese Aircraft Carriers Prepare To Taunt China In S. China Sea

1413608452-japan-starts-helicopter-carrier-izumo-on-sea-trials--sagami-bay_5973440
JS IZUMO Japanese Helicopter Carrier

American and Japanese aircraft carriers take part in huge naval exercise designed as a warning signal to Beijing

daily mail

  • U.S. and Japan carried out a fleet review on Sunday off the coast of Tokyo
  • It comes amid growing tensions with China over the South China Sea
  • China has constructed artificial islands and military bases in the region
  • The US is planning wider engagement with allies Japan and South Korea

 

The U.S. and Japan carried out a joint display of naval power on Sunday amid rising tensions with China over territorial claims in the South China Sea.

An armada of carriers, cruisers, destroyers and submarines gathered off Japan’s coast in a move signalling wider engagement by the U.S. Navy in the western Pacific.

The so-called Fleet Review in seas near Tokyo was the first major display of Japanese military hardware since Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won lawmaker approval for legislation that will allow Japanese soldiers to defend their foreign allies.

A Japanese destroyer leads a fleet of navy vessels and aircraft during the fleet review held at the weekend

Helicopters land on board Izumo, Japan’s new helicopter carrier and its largest since the Second World War

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center left) and Defense Minister General Nakatani (second left) are escorted by Captain Christopher Bolt (center right), commanding officer of USS Ronald Reagan

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (center left) and Defense Minister General Nakatani (second left) are escorted by Captain Christopher Bolt (center right), commanding officer of USS Ronald Reagan

More Guesswork About Putin’s “Real Intentions”

Putin Officials Said to Admit Real Syria Goal Is Far Broader

Bloomberg Business

russian fighters

File photo showing Russian MIG-29 jet fighters.  Photographer: Krill Kudryavtsev/AFP via Getty Images

As Russia’s air war in Syria nears its fourth week, officials now admit that Moscow’s aim is far broader than the publicly announced fight against terrorist groups.

The Kremlin’s real goal is to help Syrian President Bashar al-Assad retake as much as possible of the territory his forces have lost to opponents, including U.S.-backed rebels, Russian officials told Bloomberg News. Moscow’s deployment of several dozen planes, as well as ships in the Black and Caspian Seas, could last a year or more, one official said.

President Vladimir Putin is willing to run the risk of falling into the kind of quagmire that helped sink the Soviet Union a generation ago for the chance to roll back U.S. influence and demonstrate he can dictate terms to Washington. If the strategy is successful, Russia’s largest military drive in decades outside the former Soviet Union would force the U.S. and its allies to choose between Assad, whom they oppose for his human-rights abuses, and the brutal extremists of Islamic State.

“They’re going to have to recognize that Islamic State is the real threat that has been countered only by the Syrian regular army commanded by President Bashar al-Assad,” said Iliyas Umakhanov, deputy speaker of Russia’s upper house Federation Council, who oversees international relations at the assembly.

No Moderates

A top Russian military official said on Friday that the Kremlin sees no moderate opposition in Syria, leaving only terrorists and the pro-Assad forces Moscow is backing.

“In the West, they talk about ‘moderate opposition,’ but we so far haven’t seen any in Syria,” General Andrey Kartapolov, commander of the Russian operation in Syria, told the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. “Any person who takes up arms and fights the legal authorities, how moderate can he be?”

Moscow’s campaign is designed to initially rout the groups that have threatened Assad’s control over key cities in western Syria, both radical Islamists and the so-called moderate rebels backed by the U.S. and its allies. Later there will be a broader offensive against Islamic State in the north and east of the country, say officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss confidential matters.

“Everybody understands that ‘terrorists’ is a very vague definition which allows Russia to target all groups it needs to fight in order to achieve the main goal — strengthen Syrian army positions and help them restore control over major cities,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, head of the Moscow-based Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, a research group that advises the Russian government.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry warned Monday against backing the Syrian government. “Our fear has always been that Russia is only there to prop up Assad and that that will only attract more jihadists, more chaos, refugees,” he said during a visit to Spain.

Chilly Climate

Russian officials say they expected a cold reception from the U.S. and its allies. Putin is using personal diplomacy — a string of private meetings with top leaders and officials from other capitals — to make his case quietly. Initial indications are that the diplomatic drive has been having some success, with several countries agreeing to military talks to reduce the risks of inadvertent conflict.

Kerry said on Monday he expects to begin talks in the next few days with officials from Turkey, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Jordan on restarting efforts to negotiate a political settlement in Syria. The U.S., Russia and Saudi foreign ministers may meet in Vienna soon, Interfax reported.

On the ground, the military operation is expanding, with Syrian and Iranian forces using Russian air support to advance against rebel forces with the goal of recapturing strategic territory lost around the capital Damascus and the cities of Homs and Hama, as well as retaking Aleppo, the main commercial hub and second-biggest population center.

Over the weekend, Syrian government forces began a major offensive around Aleppo, the state news agency SANA reported. European officials worry that a regime victory there could trigger a big new wave of refugees.

Russia’s air attacks have mainly occurred in areas outside of Islamic State’s control so far. The U.S. State Department declined to comment on Russia’s broader aims in Syria. Earlier this month, U.S. officials said 90 percent of Russia’s strikes were on other rebel groups. Russian officials say the U.S. refuses to cooperate on targeting.

Diplomatic Push

The principal risk for Russia is that Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, who support armed groups fighting Assad’s forces including radical Islamists, will sharply increase their military supplies in response to the Russian intervention, said the Russian officials.

“The Russians have not seen the heat of Syria yet,” said Mustafa Alani, the Dubai-based director of National Security and Terrorism Studies at the Gulf Research Center. “The regional powers can give the Russians limited time to see if their intervention can lead to a political settlement — if not, there is going to be a proxy war.”

Putin’s diplomatic push started shortly after the bombing, with talks with top officials from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

While Saudi Arabia has reservations about the Russian military action, the kingdom is trying to work politically with the Russians to “guarantee the unity of Syria and reach a peaceful settlement in the country even if it comes at the hands of the Russians,” said Anwar Eshki, a retired Saudi general who heads the Middle East Center for Strategic and Legal Studies in Jeddah.

Putin believes that Assad, whose forces currently control a quarter of Syrian territory with 60 percent of the population, must be reinforced to ensure that Russia can exert a dominant role in negotiations on a political settlement in Syria, according to people who attended a private meeting with the Russian leader early this month.

“Even if there isn’t a radical improvement in the regime’s military fortunes, which is unlikely, at the very least the aim is to consolidate its military and territorial positions to remove the question of Assad’s departure as a precondition for a political settlement,” said Mikhail Barabanov, a senior researcher at the Moscow-based Center for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, which advises the Defense Ministry.

In Syria, The Devil Is In the Gas

The need for energy drives Assad regime into a deadly game

After four years of war, Ahmed thought he had finally been given a break when he landed a job at Syria’s national gas company. Then he was assigned his new supervisors: the militant group, Isis.

For $80 a month, the 25-year-old petroleum engineering graduate from Deir Ezzor spent a nightmarish year working at the Tuweinan gas plant — one of several that have in effect become joint ventures between President Bashar al-Assad’s government and the world’s most notorious jihadi group.

The plant is not far from a military base where Isis months earlier had killed dozens of soldiers and displayed their heads on spikes. “It was frightening, but I didn’t have a choice,” says Ahmed in a phone interview. Like all employees interviewed, he asked to change his name for his family’s safety. “For people like me, you basically have no other work opportunities in Syria.”

Isis and the Assad regime remain battleground enemies, but on Syria’s gasfields the need for electricity has forced them into a Faustian bargain.

Gas supplies 90 per cent of Syria’s power grid, on which Isis and the Assad regime depend. Isis controls at least eight power plants in Syria, including three hydroelectric facilities and the country’s largest gas plant. The regime has companies that know how to run them.

Syrian activists and western officials have long accused the regime of making secret oil deals with Isis, which controls nearly all of Syria’s petroleum-producing east. But an FT investigation shows co-operation is strongest over the gas that generates Syria’s electricity. Interviews with over a dozen Syrian energy employees have revealed agreements that are less about cash than about services — something they may find more valuable than money.

The business deals do not translate into a truce. The two sides continually attack one another’s employees and infrastructure. The regime points to these clashes as proof that such understandings do not exist. In a written statement, Syria’s Ministry of Oil and Natural Resources said: “There is no co-ordination with the terrorist groups regarding this matter.” But it acknowledged some of its employees work under Isis “for the sake of preserving the security and safety of these facilities”.

But others describe the fighting as part of a struggle for better terms, where neither seeks to destroy the other. “Think of it as tactical manoeuvres to improve leverage,” said the owner of one Syrian energy company, who met the FT but asked not to be named. “This is 1920s Chicago mafia-style negotiation. You kill and fight to influence the deal, but the deal doesn’t end.”

Isis Syria gas map

Deadly game

The pawns in this deadly game are employees of state-run energy companies and the private groups they contract.

Instead of worrying over valves and pipelines, Ahmed spent much of his time at Tuweinan parsing a high-stakes mind game with his militant overseers. They beat workers regularly, and even killed one in front of his colleagues.

“The worst part is knowing that once you’re there, you belong to no one,” he said. “To both the regime and to Isis, you become untrustworthy.”

Like Ahmed, most workers sent to Isis territory are from Syria’s Sunni Muslim majority, who drove the revolt that spawned Syria’s brutal civil war against the Assad family and elites from their minority Alawite sect that have dominated the state. Many members of Syria’s minorities have supported Mr Assad — especially since Isis overtook the rebellion and branded non-Sunnis infidels.

Marwan, another Sunni engineering graduate who worked for the Syrian Gas Company before fleeing the country this summer, says only minorities and Sunnis with good political connections can secure jobs in government-controlled areas. Less fortunate employees find little sympathy from the state company if they try to avoid a posting in an Isis-controlled plant.

“If you try and complain, they say, ‘Forget about it. Trust me, it’s better in the Isis areas, people are happier there’,” Marwan, a bespectacled 25-year-old, told the FT.

Workers say that in agreements between Isis and the regime, the Syrian state and private gas companies pay and feed their employees and supply equipment to the facilities. The two sides divide the electricity produced from the methane heavy “dry gas”, while Isis gets the fuel products made from the plants’ liquid gas.

For example, employees at Tuweinan say its gas is sent to the Isis-held Aleppo thermal power plant. When facilities are working — there are frequent outages due to the instability in the area — the Tuweinan deal nets the regime 50mw of electricity each day. Isis takes 70mw.

At most plants where the two sides co-operate, Isis gives its daily output of liquid petroleum or cooking gas, and condensate — used for generators — to its own members or sells it to locals. At Tuweinan, unstable conditions mean it currently produces about 300 barrels of condensate but no cooking gas.

Tuweinan is partly run by the Syrian company Hesco, whose owner, George Haswani, is under EU sanctions on suspicion of dealing with the regime and Isis. Several workers said Hesco sends Isis 15m Syrian lira (about $50,000) every month to protect its equipment, which is worth several million dollars.

Michel Haswani, the owners’ son and a manager at Hesco, denies this. He said that claims the company pays Isis or communicates with it in any way are “not true and imprecise”. But he says that Isis was “partly” running the plant.

Isis enforcement

Isis installs “emirs” who monitor operations and negotiate with the regime through mediators. There is an emir for the plant, a religious emir and another from the Hisba, the group’s morality police. Workers say the Hisba emir at Tuweinan, known as Sheikh Haseeb, patrolled the plant to enforce strict Islamic practice. Anyone breaking the rules would receive 75 lashes.

Sheikh Haseeb also allowed gunmen to threaten employees. They particularly targeted the plant’s two dozen Christians, even though workers say Hesco had already paid Isis a poll tax for them in gold. “One guy pointed his knife at an engineer saying, ‘By God we will slaughter you like a sheep,’” one Hesco employee recalled in an interview via WhatsApp. “I never saw him or any of the other Christian employees again.”

The director of operations at Tuweinan, Taha al-Ali, was known as the Syrian Gas Company’s mediator with Isis. A pious man, he was popular with his colleagues, but workers say Isis members suspected him of being a regime collaborator.

When the emir discovered that gas was being diverted to Arak, a plant then held by the regime but now under Isis control, he accused Mr Ali of stealing for the Assad government. He was dragged away by guards. Workers say he returned disheveled three months later, on the day they were forced to witness his execution.

“He was accused of mocking Islam and being a loyalist of the regime,” said one colleague who recounted the event in a telephone interview. “The gunmen shot him in the head, one bullet each. Then Sheikh Haseeb came up and shot him in the stomach. It was terrifying.”

Workers say Tuweinan has continued to function despite the violence. But slowly the number of workers has dropped from 1,500 to about 300 as many have fled.

Many regime supporters insist these dealings are necessary to preserve infrastructure and keep the lights on, and some agreements are extensions of pre-existing deals made with rebel groups that controlled the areas before Isis took over last summer. “There’s no conspiracy, but as the regime guys say, it’s necessary complicity,” said the Syrian energy company owner.

Another oil company official who works with the Syrian regime, says juggling these deals has become a preoccupation for the oil ministry.

“Before it was [rebel groups] Jabhat al-Nusra or the Islamic Front. Nowadays it’s representatives for Isis,” he told the FT in Beirut.

Not all Isis-controlled plants are as miserable as Tuweinan. Employees say treatment is better at the “Conoco” plant in eastern Deir Ezzor. Syria’s biggest gas producer, the plant was named for the US company that first developed it. Employees say its emir, Abu Abdulrahman al-Jazrawi, is a Saudi Arabian with years of experience who holds training sessions and gives workers a barrel of condensate each month in addition to the state salary. A barrel can sell for about $100 — often more than their wages.

Many workers also say that even finding work at regime-controlled facilities is no guarantee of safety, because they are targeted by the jihadis. Marwan worked at the Ebla plant in government-controlled Faruqlus, near Homs, where Isis blew up pipelines and set off a car bomb that killed his manager in April.

“Every day, we went over evacuation plans,” he said. “I’m Sunni — if I fled too quickly, the Alawites would accuse me of being a conspirator. If I waited too long, Isis could catch me.”

The nearby Shaer gasfield, which produces nearly half Syria’s electricity, was taken over by Isis twice in 2014 before the regime recaptured it. Everyone working there disappeared and is presumed dead, according to Marwan and other employees.

When nearby Palmyra fell to Isis this summer, Marwan says many of his friends working at Hayyan, near Shaer, wanted to flee. “The army wouldn’t let them. They said who ever tried to run will be shot dead.”

Back at Tuweinan, Ahmed found events like Mr Ali’s killing too much to bear. “He was one of the few people I’ve met in life I would say was an amazing human being,” he said. A few months later, he and some other workers smuggled themselves across the border to Turkey, crossed the Mediterranean, and trekked to Germany. All say they are now considered fugitives for abandoning state posts.

Officials at the plant have been unable to find someone willing to replace Mr Ali. But the deal goes on.

ISIS Arose Within the Fissures Between Middle Eastern Societies

Competition among major Middle East players fuels the rise of ISIS

Pretty much everyone in the Middle East is supposed to be fighting against Islamic State. Yet, the Sunni extremist group retains large swaths of Syria and Iraq and is spreading elsewhere in the region.

This isn’t because of its military might or strategic sophistication. The explanation is different: For most of the major players in the complicated conflicts ravaging the Middle East, the defeat of Islamic State remains a secondary goal, subordinate to more pressing objectives.

For some of these powers, Islamic State’s existence and its barbarism are actually useful, for now, because they serve as a lever in conflicts with more immediate and dangerous foes.

Though able to take advantage of sectarian fissures in Syrian and Iraqi societies to carve out a territory the size of the U.K., Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, isn’t strong enough to represent a conventional military threat to the region’s biggest nations.

But these countries do live in existential fear of some of their neighbors.

In particular, the Saudi-led bloc of Sunni Arab nations bitterly competes with Shiite-dominated Iran in what has become a zero-sum contest for influence—a contest that Russia has now entered on the Shiite side by supporting the Syrian regime.

That contest is also playing out in Yemen, where a Saudi-led coalition has been battling Iran-supported Houthi militants while Islamic State affiliates strengthen their position and attack both sides.

“Everyone hates their neighbor more than they hate ISIL,” said a senior Obama administration official.

Chessboard In the Middle East

A chessboard Middle East: Russia’s pawn is Syria and U.S. is in a stalemate

seattletime times

russian bear
By Lawrence Pintak
Special to The Times

MODERN Syria is dead. Russia’s intervention into the bloody four-year conflict cements that reality. Now U.S. policymakers must plan for what comes next. And it’s not pretty.

Officially, the Russians say they entered Syria to fight the radical Islamic State. But they come at the invitation of Syria’s besieged president, Bashar al-Assad, and Russian bombing runs targeting U.S.-backed rebel forces underscore the fact that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intervention is really about propping up the Assad regime, Moscow’s only ally in the region.

That pits Washington, D.C., and Moscow in a proxy war reminiscent of conflicts in Southeast Asia and Africa during the Cold War, and it limits the West’s military options in supporting the anti-Assad rebellion and forcing Assad to step down.

All of this effectively means modern Syria has been relegated to the history books. The country has splintered and no amount of diplomatic duct tape is ever going to lash it back together again. The idea that Assad might still be convinced to step down and that all factions will come together and sing Kumbaya is a fantasy.

More than half of Syria’s prewar population has been driven from their homes. Millions languish in refugee camps in neighboring countries. Tens of thousands more are in a desperate scramble to reach Europe. And 30,000 foreign fighters now battle alongside the Islamic State.

There are 29 armed factions engaged in the fighting. Each controls its own little piece of turf. Even before Russia’s intervention, the prospect of a united Syria re-emerging was unlikely at best.

Just look at Syria’s neighbor Lebanon. Four decades after its own civil war erupted — with many of the same factions as in Syria and the same array of regional players stoking the flames — Lebanon still teeters on the brink of collapse.

In his U.N. speech, President Obama warned against “dangerous currents pulling us back into a darker, disordered world.”

The reality is that the U.S. can swim so only hard against the tide. We should have learned that in Iraq and Egypt; both countries are in far worse shape today than before American policy fueled a decade of conflict in one and revolution, counterrevolution and coup in the other.

When it comes to Syria, Western meddling after World War I created conditions that set the stage for today’s chaos. Syria and its neighbors were created when the European powers drew a series of largely arbitrary lines in the sand. Ethnic and religious communities were divided into unnatural entities the big powers declared to be nations. Those lines in the sand are today being erased with blood.

Russian intervention has now raised the stakes: A regional tragedy could be transformed into a new flashpoint between Washington and Moscow.

To avoid a worst-case scenario, American policymakers need to avoid hype about the Russian bear flexing its muscles and acknowledge Russia’s legitimate geopolitical interests in the region.

The U.S. may not have liked Russia’s annexation of Crimea last year, but it was a natural move. As Ukraine tilted West, Putin acted to protect Russia’s only warm-water port and prevent a Western incursion into what he sees as his legitimate sphere of influence. Ditto the Syrian intervention.

At stake is the Russian navy’s access to the Syrian port of Tartus, 60 miles from where Russian troops are busy reinforcing the airport to handle his bombers. If he loses Assad, Putin would likely lose access to his Navy’s front door on the Mediterranean. And by launching the first Russian combat missions outside the Soviet bloc in 70 years, he protects his toehold in the Middle East and in the process cozies up to Assad’s other ally, Iran, the main regional rival to Washington’s Saudi ally.

Safeguard his navy’s Mediterranean presence. Ally with Iran. Checkmate the U.S. That’s called realpolitik.

Granted, it’s not likely to win Putin any friends in a region where he already has few. Headlines across the Arab world highlight the civilians, including children, reportedly killed by Russian bombs — not surprising given that Putin has effectively taken Shiite Iran’s side in its Cold War with the region’s Sunni Arab majority.

Yet there is a grudging respect in a region exhausted by the Syrian carnage. “Russia has a plan for Syria,” wrote a columnist in Lebanon’s Daily Star last week, “while the United States does not.”

For U.S. policymakers, it’s now about the long game: Lead a comprehensive Western response to the humanitarian crisis; confine and crush the Islamic State; acknowledge Russia’s legitimate interests in the region and guard against being sucked into a military confrontation with Moscow; avoid putting boots on the ground in a conflict where there can be no victory; and accept the fact that Washington cannot always redirect the dangerous currents of history.
Lawrence Pintak, a former CBS News Middle East correspondent, is founding dean of The Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University. He just returned from a trip to the Middle East.

IT’S TIME THE US TOOK A LOOK IN THE MIRROR

IT’S TIME THE US TOOK A LOOK IN THE MIRROR

times of swazi

Larry Dludlu

Today, Russia’s stature internationally is growing, it is creating international alliances with China, Iran, and others, becoming increasingly assertive, and it is fast becoming the main focal point of multi polarity, the sort of geopolitical reality that the world seeks.
Consequently, Russia is increasingly projected as a positive force in the world.
The inevitable decline of the United States of America’s hegemony in the world is what the world needs. During the crisis in Libya, Russia repeatedly spoke about the danger of NATO’s military intervention which could cause more chaos and bring Islamists to power.
And now, four years later, Libya lies in ruins, practically ungovernable and has repeatedly called for diplomacy and dialogue with Assad who is the  legitimate authority in Syria which the international community recognises and has stressed that if the US and the West resumes its attempt to ‘export democracy’, it will open the door to Islamic radicalisation.
Now that the Syrian conflict has claimed the lives of more than 300 000 people and the flow of refugees to Europe continues unabated, the US and cronies is without a plan to solve the Syrian conflict.
The US-led coalition efforts against ISIL (also known as ISIS) have, hitherto, failed to achieve any meaningful results.
It is a year now since the so-called coalition against ISIL was launched; ISIL is getting stronger both in Iraq and Syria.
While the US and company is perplexed, the tactical Putin is taking concrete action against ISIL. And he is not only willing to bolster his traditional ally, Basher  al-Assad but also to prevent the spread of ISIL’s influence to the North Caucuses and the emergence of a new major threat to national security.
The US and cronies have cried foul claiming that Russia’s intervention in Syria is counterproductive in that the Russian airstrikes are targeted against the so-called ‘moderate rebels’ which they have been along supporting and it will attract many Islamic fighters from every part of the world, thus sustaining the conflict.
What is puzzling is the US blatant admission that its training and arming programme of the ‘moderate rebels’ has yielded no positive results as about four or five  of the ‘graduates’ made it to the battle front against ISIL as the majority gave away the US supplied weapons to al-Qaeda affiliates and sporadically defecting to al-Nusra and ISIL. To me, such a claim is tantamount to crude, mischievous and ingenuous propaganda aimed at demonising Russia and allies, particularly when one considers that the difference between US and Russia’s involvement in Syria is that Russians were actually invited by the legitimate Syrian Government while the US imposed itself on Syria under the guise of fighting ISIL while seeking to dislodge Assad from power. International law (the UN charter) permits the use of force in a foreign country only if it has been authorised by the UN Security Council, an act of self-defence, or at the behest of the country’s legitimate authorities.
It is imperative for the US and the West to get it that Russia, like them, has a foreign policy and geopolitical interests it must protect.
To expect Russia to sit back and watch in pained silence while same is threatened is frivolous and preposterous.
America maintains hundreds of military bases across the globe and Russia has virtually no bases abroad. Of the two, who is the belligerent and bellicose? It is for you to judge.
Russia’s direct involvement in the Syrian conflict has changed the balance of power in Syria, making it more difficult for the US and company to take any action calculated to dislodge the legitimate Syrian government from power with impunity and consequently, Obama has changed his calculus as a new voice of reason that seeks to keep Assad in power during the transition period is beginning to emerge. Russia has demonstrated its long range cruise missile capabilities in Syria where it was able to hit targets at a distance of 1 500 kilometres from ships located in the Caspian Sea.
The blatant NATO’s expansion towards the Russian borders in Eastern Europe accompanied by the Pentagon’s saber-ratting and muscle-flexing in former Soviet republics is provocative in character, therefore, Russia’s actions in eastern Ukraine are justified. NATO has been holding military exercises at Russia’s doorstep in Poland and Ukraine. Just imagine how the US would react if the Russians were to hold same in Canada, Ooh!
May that day never dawn in our lifetime and that our children. I am sure we would see a replay of the Cuban missile crisis.
While lecturing Russia on foreign policy matters and human rights, the US has been expanding its military presence in Iraq under the pretext of an anti-terror campaign.
At the same time, turning a blindeye to atrocities of the Kiev regime and far right National Guard militants in eastern Ukraine.
Obama has sanctioned considerable military aid to Ukraine and has literally turned a blind eye to the flagrant disregard of human rights by the Saudis in its dealings with its own nationals.
The question remains, whether the US leadership is able to assess the Syrian situation soberly or if Obama’s actions are guided by the principle ‘what is permissible for Jupiter is not permissible for an ox’.
Those who demand that Assad ‘must go’ should remember that one of the principal lessons from Libya and Iraq is that the defeat of a despised regime does not automatically lead to peace, let alone anything resembling democracy.
The insinuation by the US leadership that Russia will soon a pay price in Syria smacks of jealousy and malice on the part of the US.
The US policy makers should remember that in Afghanistan, the stingers and other US aid bought the United States little or nothing in the way of subsequent influence. The US was narrowly and short-sightedly focused on defeating the USSR, while turning a blind eye to the fact that Afghanistan then turned into a 14-year political and military quagmire for Washington.
The US’s refusal to hold direct dialogue on the important political settlement subject with Russia is an indication that the US has its eye not on the defeat of ISIL but on dislodging Assad from power to which the Russians are vehemently opposed citing the Libyan obtaining scenario which happened at the instigation of NATO, a US lapdog.
To me, its current stance on Russia’s direct involvement in the Syrian conflict is motivated by its fear of losing its credibility in front of the international community and its own people after it waged a vicious propaganda war against Putin and Assad.
Under the obtaining status quo in the Middle East, is it not perhaps time for the US leadership to look itself in the mirror?
It is my deep seated conviction that it will find it rewarding as the results will show that it is not a positive force in the Middle East but still languishing in the cold war era. In fact history will judge it harshly.

Putting an end to terrorism in Syria

Putting an end to terrorism in Syria

Cyprus mail

russian embassy cyprus Stanislav Osadchiy is the ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Cyprus

By helping Syria put an end to terrorism, we are protecting all the countries in the region from external intervention and preventing the further spread of misanthropic ideology, extremism and transboundary terrorism. In aspiring to reach this goal, we must launch a specific, clearly oriented political process under UN auspices, based on the Geneva communiqué of June 30, 2012.

Russia is guided by the UN Charter and the fundamental principles of international law and is deeply convinced that the war against terrorism must be conducted on a universal legal basis with the UN Security Council having a leading role.

Russia has come to aid the legitimate government of Syria and has acted at its request and with its consent, and in accordance with Russia’s national legislation.

Our opponents have claimed that the majority of countries do not approve of Russia’s actions, and some Arab world representatives have gone as far as to threaten Russia with a world Sunni jihad. But there is no need to threaten us. The meetings during the 70th session of the General Assembly in New York, including high-level meetings, have clearly shown that many countries are in solidarity with us. They are not enthusiastic about the prospects of demolishing the regional security structure or the rise of an unpredictable extremist ‘Caliphate’ that would replace secular states. This new ‘Caliphate’ would have no respect for international law, state borders or the modern values that seem unshakeable to us. Neither Russia, nor European states or any other countries can feel secure.

The danger of demonising Arabs in particular and Muslims in general raises great concerns. At a time when Europe is shaken by unprecedented numbers of refugees, we may face growing xenophobia, anti-Islamic sentiments and the construction of inter-civilisation barriers. A number of other challenges can be added to this list: the consequences of ISIS actions aimed at forcing Christians out of the Middle East and growing inter-Muslim strife between Sunni and Shiite.

Accusations that the Islamic terrorism represented by ISIS originated from Russia’s “persistent effort” to keep Assad in power could not be further from the truth. Quite the opposite is true: it was the weakening of the authorities under pressure of foreign influence that resulted in a vacuum and the spread of anarchic zones in a significant part of the country’s territory which were quickly taken over by terrorists. If Assad resigns, the terrorists’ appetite is not likely to decrease, but the fighting efficiency of the Syrian army – the only power to actually combat terrorism – will decrease.

Special attention should be drawn to the inefficient, US-ruled anti-ISIS coalition not only in Syria, but also in Iraq. Their operation’s only outcome is the growing number of terrorists. Taking that into consideration, it remains unclear why Americans and their partners refuse to cooperate with Russia or the Syrian army in the war against terrorism. This week, the US refused to receive a high-level delegation from Russia or to send one to Moscow to discuss the situation in Syria.

Russia is frequently accused of not being able to tell ‘good’ terrorists from ‘bad’. Or, for that matter, of consciously avoiding bombarding ISIS yet fighting the Syrian free army, brigades of ‘moderate opposition’ and even civilians. One can hardly imagine greater fabrications. Any attempt to depict Russia as an accomplice of Assad’s regime evokes nothing but perplexity. Those who make statements of this kind should read more thoroughly the comprehensive and absolutely precise information provided by the Russian Federation’s ministry of defence on each operation conducted by Russian military forces.

It should be underlined once again that the air operation in Syria is aimed at eliminating terrorism in the country. Those armed barbarians who execute prisoners, trade people and drugs, bombard residential neighbourhoods and preach cultural and religious genocide can only be called terrorists. They certainly are to us, regardless of the flags they display.

Russia urges the establishment of an extended anti-terrorist front whose members will coordinate effectively and flexibly to achieve their goals and thus prevent nonselective actions and civilian victims. The task of consolidating forces in defeating terrorism requires united action by everyone involved in fighting ISIS: the Syrian and Iraqi armies, Kurdish and Shiite militiamen and brigades of wholesome anti-terrorist opposition in Syria. The Russian initiative of forming such a front could be a uniting factor in the war against the ISIS threat and help to prevent a further worsening of the Syrian crisis.

 

Stanislav V. Osadchiy is the ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of Cyprus

Central Asian Task Force To Send Russian-Led Anti-Terrorism Forces To Tajik-Afghan Border

Joint task force could send Russian troops to Afghan borders
Armenia’s president Serzh Sargsyan (L-R), Belarus’ president Alexander Lukashenko, Kazakhstan’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev, Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and Kyrgyzstan’s president Almazbek Atambayev pose for a family photo at the Burabai resort near Astana, Kazakhstan, on October 16, 2015. Aleksey Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin/Reuters

Joint task force could send Russian troops to Afghan borders

the national

BURABAI // The leaders of ex-Soviet states, led by Russian president Vladimir Putin, responded to growing instability in Afghanistan on Friday by agreeing to create a joint task force to defend their bloc’s external borders if a crisis arises.

The move could mean that Russian troops, as part of collective forces, will be deployed to Afghanistan’s borders as the US-led coalition gradually withdraws from the country, leaving behind a power vacuum.

If Russian troops do move in, it would be a fresh sign of Mr Putin’s new military assertiveness, after his intervention in Syria. The Kremlin says Russia wants to stop the spread of militancy. But Western governments see it as Moscow trying to reassert itself as a global power.

The leaders of ex-Soviet grouping the Commonwealth of Independent States met at the Burabai resort near the Kazakh capital, Astana.

They agreed on the creation of what is described in a summit document as a “grouping of border [forces] and other institutions from CIS member states designed to resolve crisis situations on the external borders”.

There were no details on the composition of the force or on where it would be deployed.

But Sergei Lebedev, the CIS executive secretary, mentioned Tajikistan – which has a border with Afghanistan – as the possible location for the deployment of joint forces.

“Apart from Russia, there are collective forces aimed at supporting Tajikistan against those threats from the south,” he said. “Whether or not Russia is going to return there [to patrol the border] is a matter that will be resolved through bilateral agreements.”

Russian border troops were responsible for security on the Tajik-Afghan border until 2005, when an agreement with the Tajik government lapsed and they pulled out.

Impoverished Tajikistan has the longest border with Afghanistan among the ex-Soviet nations and remains volatile since a 1992-97 civil war between its Moscow-backed secular government and guerrillas.

On the other side of the border, Taliban insurgents have made advances in Afghanistan, including briefly taking over the city of Kunduz late last month.

It remained unclear whether the two other Central Asian nations which border Afghanistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, would also host the new joint task force.

Turkmenistan’s foreign ministry said on Friday it had registered no incidents on its border with Afghanistan.

* Reuters

Turkey Releases Drone Shoot-Down Images, Misidentified As Orlan-10

[Alleged Russian Orlan-10 drone shot-down over Turkey.  Compare this photo supplied by Turkish authorities with real Orlan below and many differences stand-out…primarily, the Orlav has the wings on top of drone, while the other is underneath…Orlav tail tapers down from body, while the other is squared-off from the body…Orlav has two air intakes under prop…other has single intake.]

a84d0da1babec5bd03a32e97892d10d2.

BREAKING Unidentified aircraft has been shot down by Turkish warplanes near Syrian border

airlive.net

Turkey’s air force shot down an unidentified aircraft that had entered Turkish airspace near the Syrian border, Turkish armed forces said in a statement Friday.
The aircraft was shot down after it did not respond to three warnings from the Turkish air force, according to the statement.

United States suspects that plane shot down by Turkey was a Russian drone aircraft, US official tells.

16/10/2015 07:33

All Russian military planes in Syria safely returned to their base, all drones are operating as planned, Russian media reports.

16/10/2015 07:33

Turkish military says an unidentified aircraft was shot down in its airspace after being warned 3 times

Confusing Bloomberg Piece On Growing Popular Support For Russian Syrian Policy

[Notice original title for this article given in the bloomberg link below…The original article cannot be found in cache form…the few sites which posted it have some kind of weird block over them now, even in their caches….WEIRD]

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-14/russia-sees-growing-global-support-for-its-policies-lavrov-says]

Russia Says Warplane Eyeing U.S. Jet in Syria Not Meant to Scare

Bloomberg Business
Ilya Arkhipov
Stepan Kravchenko
Fighter jet flying in Syria approached U.S. plane, Russia says
Russia says broad coalition needed to fight against terrorism

Russia said its warplane flying bombing raids in Syria came close to a U.S jet in the area, highlighting the risks of its military campaign as the former Cold War foes remain at odds over how to coordinate their operations in the Middle Eastern country.

A Russian Su-30 fighter jet flew within about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) to 3 kilometers of a U.S. warplane on Oct. 10 during a mission in Aleppo Province, according to a statement by the Defense Ministry in Moscow on Wednesday. The intention was to identify the plane and “not scare anyone,” with Russian and U.S. officials planning to discuss the incident, it said in the statement.

While Russia’s ready to talk about its campaign with “maps in hand,” the U.S. only wants to hold technical discussions to prevent clashes between the nations’ air forces conducting bombing operations over Syria, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told lawmakers in Moscow on Wednesday. The Defense Ministry said it plans to discuss the close call between the warplanes by video link with the Pentagon.

Russia is sounding alarms about the lack of coordination with the U.S. while intensifying its air strikes in Syria. Russian jets conducted 41 sorties and hit 40 targets in the past 24 hours, destroying what it said were Islamic State training camps in the provinces of Idlib and Aleppo as well as ammunition depots in Hama and Latakia, according to the Defense Ministry.

Ukraine, Syria

Russia’s relations with the U.S. and Europe — already at their worst since the fall of the Berlin Wall over the separatist conflict in Ukraine — have been strained further over President Vladimir Putin’s decision last month to begin airstrikes in Syria in support of President Bashar al-Assad against Islamic State and other militants. Putin accused some states on Tuesday of having “oatmeal in their heads” for failing to understand that Russia’s military campaign aims to defeat terrorism.

The European Union demanded on Monday that Russia stop targeting moderate groups opposed to Assad. U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter warned that Russia’s actions “will have consequences” and the bombing “will only inflame” Syria’s four-year civil war.

Putin’s Offer

The U.S. declined Putin’s offer to dispatch a delegation led by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev to Washington to explain Russia’s operations in Syria, and has no plans to send a team to Russia, Lavrov said. A Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Wednesday expressed “regret” over the American rejection.

Russia’s winning growing global support as a “key player” in world affairs, while attempts by the U.S. and its allies to block the emergence of a more just world order are sowing chaos, Lavrov told lawmakers. Unilateral efforts to fight international terrorism won’t achieve results and a broad coalition is needed to counter what many countries recognized as a fundamental threat at the United Nations general assembly last month, he said.

The U.S. seeks to maintain sole leadership through its foreign policy and meets growing resistance and “sometimes outright rejection” by many states, while Russia isn’t imposing anything on anyone, Lavrov said.

Though Russia got a “cool” reaction to its proposal for a draft UN resolution on forming a coalition against terrorism, progress in settling the crisis in Ukraine “will remove artificial obstacles in the way of finding common answers to real challenges for all countries,” Lavrov said.

Turkey Shoots-Down Unidentified Drone—All Russian Drones Reported As “Operating As Planned”

Drone of unknown nationality reportedly brought down almost two miles inside Turkish air space, with military saying it issued three warnings before firing

Turkish air force jets.
Turkish air force jets. Photograph: Burhan Ozbilici/AP

Turkish warplanes shot down an unidentified drone inside Turkish air space near the Syrian border on Friday, a senior government official said.

The military said earlier in a statement that it had shot down an unidentified aircraft after issuing three warnings, in line with the Nato member’s rules of engagement.

Broadcaster NTV said the drone, with unidentified nationality, had been brought down around 1.9 miles inside Turkish air space.

Amid speculation that the drone was Russian, Moscow said all its planes in Syria had safely returned to base and all its drones were operating “as planned”, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Two Russian jets violated Turkish air space earlier this month, bringing the Syrian conflict across Nato’s borders. Turkey has warned it would respond if the violations continue.

The Russian air force officially informed the Turkish military about the earleir violations on Thursday, saying it would take to prevent a repetition.

Turkey has also reported unidentified aircraft and Syria-based missile air defence systems harassing its warplanes.

Blaming Putin For the God-Awful Mess That Obama Has Made of Everything

Putin might be right on Syria: The actual strategy behind his Middle East push — and why the New York Times keeps obscuring it

SALON

There’s actually common sense and historical vision behind the Putin plan. Not that our media covers it honestly

Patrick L. Smith

 

Putin might be right on Syria: The actual strategy behind his Middle East push -- and why the New York Times keeps obscuring it
(Credit: Reuters/Anatoly Maltsev)

One sentence in a news report the other day on Russia’s assertive new campaign to subdue Islamic extremists in Syria simply will not leave my mind. It was written by Michael Gordon, the State Department correspondent at the government-supervised New York Times. American officials, Gordon reported, are “confident” that Moscow will fail as it tries to return some semblance of order to what is now the world’s most tragic nation. This failure would be a good thing, we are to understand.

Will you think this through with me, please? We want a big-picture look, from the altitude of, say, a Russian jet now flying sorties against one or another terrorist formation operating against the Assad government in Damascus. And we strip out all the names so our minds are free of the limitless propaganda Washington buries us in by way of clerks and gofers such as Gordon.

What are we looking at? What is the thought buried in that sentence?

Very simply, we have one secular nation helping to defend what remains of another, by invitation, against a radical Islamist insurgency that, were it to succeed, would condemn those Syrians who cannot escape to a tyranny of disorder rooted in sectarian religious animosities. And we have the great power heretofore dominant in the region hoping that the insurgency prevails. Its policy across the region, indeed, appears to rest on leveraging these very animosities.

Now we can add the names back in.

In the past week Russia has further advanced its support of Bashar al-Assad with intensified bombing runs and cruise missiles launched from warships in the Caspian Sea. Not yet but possibly, Russian troops will deploy to back the Syrian army and its assorted allies on the ground. This has enabled government troops to begin an apparently spirited new offensive against the messy stew of Islamist militias arrayed against Damascus.

It was a big week for Washington, too. First it pulled the plug on its $500 million program to train a “moderate opposition” in Syria—admittedly a tough one given that Islamists with guns in their hands tend to be immoderate. Instantly it then begins to send weapons to the militias it failed to train, the CIA having “lightly vetted” them—as it did for a time in 2013, until that proved a self-defeating mistake.

The fiction that moderates lurk somewhere continues. Out of the blue, they are now called “the Syrian Arab Coalition,” a moniker that reeks of the corridors in Langley, Virginia, if you ask me.

In Turkey, meantime, the Pentagon’s new alliance with Recep Tayyip Erdoğan government starts to play out just as the Turkish prime minister intended. All the persuasive signs are that the government was responsible for bombs that killed more than 120 people in Ankara last weekend as they protested Erdoğan’s renewed violence against Turkey’s Kurdish minority. The Middle East’s crisis has just spread into another country.

Since Russia reinvigorated its decades-old support for Damascus last month, the vogue among the Washington story-spinners has been to question Putin’s motives. What does Putin—not “Russia” or even “Moscow,” but Putin—want? This was never an interesting question, since the answer seemed clear, but now we have one that truly does warrant consideration.

What does the U.S. want? Why, after four years of effort on the part of the world’s most powerful military and most extensive intelligence apparatus, is Syria a catastrophe beyond anything one could imagine when anti-Assad protests began in the spring of 2011?

After four years of war—never truly civil and now on the way to proxy—Assad’s Syria is a mangled mess, almost certainly beyond retrieval in its current form. Everyone appears to agree on this point, including Putin and Sergei Lavrov, the Russian leader’s foreign minister. There is no putting this humpty-dumpty back on any wall: The Russians readily acknowledge this, acres of groundless journalism to the contrary notwithstanding.

In the meantime, certain realities are essential to recognize. The Assad government is a sovereign entity. Damascus has the beleaguered bones of a national administration, all the things one does not readily think of as wars unfold: a transport ministry, an education ministry, embassies around the world, a seat at the U.N. In these things are the makings of postwar Syria—which, by definition, means Syria after the threat of Islamic terror is eliminated.

Anyone who doubts this is Russia’s reasoning should consider the Putin-Lavrov proposal for a negotiated transition into a post-Assad national structure. They argue for a federation of autonomous regions representing Sunni, Kurdish and Alawite-Christian populations. Putin made this plain when he met President Obama at the U.N. last month, my sources in Moscow tell me. Lavrov has made it plain during his numerous exchanges with Secretary of State Kerry.

Why would Russia’s president and senior diplomat put this on the table if they were not serious? Their proposed design for post-Assad Syria, incidentally, is a close variant of what Russia and the Europeans favor in Ukraine. In both cases it has the virtue of addressing facts on the ground. These are nations whose internal distinctions and diversity must be accommodated—not denied, not erased, but also not exacerbated—if they are to become truly modern. Russians understand the complexities of becoming truly modern: This has been the Russian project since the 18th century.

In the past week Washington has effectively elected not to support Russia’s new effort to address the Syria crisis decisively. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s latest phrase of the moment is “fatally flawed.” If he said it once he said it a dozen times: The Russian strategy is fatally flawed. We heard you the third time, Ash.

As to Obama, he rejects any notion that Washington has effectively ceded leadership on the Syria question—with potentially wider implications—to Moscow. In his much-noted interview with 60 Minutes last weekend, he found Putin foolhardy for risking the lives of Russian soldiers and “spending money he doesn’t have.”

Say what?

Whose strategy in Syria is fatally flawed, Mr. Carter? I assume there is no need to do more than pose the question. (Memo to SecDef: Get a new scriptwriter, someone who allots you more than one assigned phrase a week.)

As to Obama’s remarks, one wishes he were joking. We are $5 trillion into the mess that began with the invasion of Iraq a dozen years ago, and we are counting the fatalities one side or the other of a million. There are roughly 4 million Syrian refugees by the latest count. And Putin’s at fault for risking lives and blowing money? Who puts a smart guy like you up to this, Mr. President?

A lot of interesting people, hailing from unexpected quarters, now come out against the Obama administration’s fateful choice in Syria. One is Lawrence Wilkerson, a retired colonel who served as Colin Powell’s chief of staff when the latter was secretary of state. Earlier this month Wilkerson delivered a speech entitled “The Travails of Empire,” in which he listed all the signs that the U.S. is an imperial power in rapid decline: an insistence on the primacy of military power, overreliance on mercenaries, disproportionate spending on perceived threats, ethical and moral bankruptcy.

It is a moment, surely, when someone such as Wilkerson, who now lectures on government at William and Mary, starts to sound like the late and great Chalmers Johnson. Watch the video of Wilkerson’s presentation here.

Tuesday’s Times carried a remarkable piece called “A Road to Damascus, via Moscow” on the opinion page—remarkable, not least, for appearing in the Times. “Moscow’s intervention in Syria may offer the first glimmer of hope for ending the quagmire,” argue Gordon Adams and Stephen Walt, two noted professors of international affairs. “American officials must end their table-thumping about Russian intrusion, recognize that we are passed the Cold War, and get down to the business of statecraft.”

Clear-eyed, rational, devoid of ideology. Read the piece here. I would remind the two professors of Boutros-Ghali’s mot in the memoir he wrote after Washington bullied him out of the secretary-general’s office at the U.N.: Diplomacy is for weak nations, he wrote. The strong have no need of it.

Here is another way to put our question: Why will the views of insiders such as Wilkerson and smart heads such as Adams and Walt go unheeded? As they will, that is. I see two answers.

One, the world has just been advised that any kind of post-Manichean, straight-ahead rapprochement with Russia, as Kerry and a few others at State plainly advocate, is out of the question. We are beyond Bush II’s biblical references to Gog and Magog and the end-times battle with evil, but only by way of vocabulary.

I will resort to the New Testament myself on this point: He is not defiled who is offended by others. It is our offenses of others that defile us. That is Matthew 15:11. Translation: We can demonize Putin, Russia, Iran, Assad or anyone else we like. We lose in the end, because we destroy our capacity to see and think clearly. What we are doing in Syria today is Exhibit A.

Russia and its leader as Beelzebub is an old story. Obama, after his fashion, has simply bought into it. This is now irreducibly so, and the implications refract all over the place: Ukraine and the prospects for a negotiated settlement, Washington’s long-running effort to disrupt Europe’s extensive and complex interdependence with Russia. The unfolding events in the Middle East weigh heavily against any constructive turn in American policy on such questions.

The second explanation as to why Washington holds to a patently destructive course in the Middle East is more sinister than our practice of modeling foreign policy on the plot of a John Wayne movie. The argument here is that turning the Middle East into a violent anarchy of ethnic and religious rivalries renders the nations wherein these occur weak and incapable of serious political action—in effect, no longer nations. The chaos before us is exactly Washington’s intended outcome.

I do not know where I stand on this theory. It is not new but is now emerging into the light, and there is considerable documentation in support of it. Thomas Harrington, a cultural studies professor (Trinity College) and a frequent political commentator, cites policy papers going back to the 1980s. These include this document from 1996, which argues (among much else) the strategic use of deposing Saddam Hussein and destabilizing Syria; Richard Perle and Douglas Feith, intellectual poseurs during the Bush II administration, are among the co-authors.

“The U.S. strategic goal in Syria is not, as your faithful mainstream media servants … might have you believe, to save the Syrian people from the ravages of the longstanding Assad dictatorship,” Harrington wrote in a comment CounterPunch published Monday, “but rather to heighten the level of internecine conflict in that country to the point where it will not be able to serve as a bulwark against Israeli regional hegemony for at least a generation.”
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It is a teleological argument to say the strategy worked and is therefore authentic. But Syria is as we have it, and it is impossible to say how long it will be before Damascus is able enough to advance such ordinary things as a foreign policy, or a position on the Palestine question. We do have reports now, it must be noted, that Israel is rushing to fill the Golan Heights with settlers, West Bank-style, to take advantage of Syria’s near-total incapacitation.

This line of thinking causes me to reflect on two other questions arising from the Syria conflict.

One concerns the migration crisis combined with incessant insistence that there is, somewhere and the CIA will find it yet, a moderate opposition in Syria. It is time to reconcile these two phenomena.

Were there refugees in any number before the rise of the Islamist anti-Assad formations? Where are the refugees going now that they number in the millions?

Answers: No. As Gary Leupp, a historian at Tufts, argues in a superb piece of commentary CounterPunch also published recently, “The bulk of peaceful protesters in the Syrian Arab Spring want nothing to do with the U.S.-supported armed opposition but are instead receptive to calls from Damascus, Moscow and Tehran for dialogue towards a power-sharing arrangement…. What pro-democracy student activists and their allies fear most is the radical Islamists who have burgeoned in large part due to foreign intervention since 2011.”

Thank you, professor. Now we know why the flow of refugees runs toward secular, democratic Europe and not areas of the nation Assad has lost to rebel militias. The former represents the refugees’ shared aspirations, while the latter fight not as Syrians but as religious fanatics and/or CIA clients. As a friend wrote the other day, “There are likely moderate Syrian forces, but you will I think find them mostly in the coffee shops of Istanbul.”

This brings us to Turkey, a newly significant factor in the Syrian crisis. I cannot help viewing the eruption of sectarian and communal violence since the Erdoğan government signed a cooperation agreement with the U.S. last July in the light of the above-suggested American strategy: Make a mess and keep it messy.

Erdoğan is heir to a singular tradition in Middle Eastern politics. Ataturk, faced with the same religious, ethnic and historic fractiousness as Syria and much of the region today, countered it with a modern notion of citizenship and belonging. It held for three-quarters of a century and its mark remains, obviously. Erdoğan comes along and sees political advantage exactly where Washington sees strategic advantage: in social, religious and cultural division.

Another dimension to the Middle East’s many-sided tragedy. This is Erdoğan’s Turkey, and he has our blessing. I would say Erdoğan is a strange bedfellow except that he does not seem to be.

I am with Lawrence Wilkerson on the nature of our moment: The veil is pulled back, and we witness decline in progress, real time. What is supposed to be “fatally flawed” is the only “glimmer of hope,” and what is supposed to be considered and humane is reckless and cynical.

We all live through history, always. This is by definition. But there are not many passages as fraught as this one. Our leadership thrashes about in desperation. It is dangerous—this by definition, too.
Patrick Smith is Salon’s foreign affairs columnist. A longtime correspondent abroad, chiefly for the International Herald Tribune and The New Yorker, he is also an essayist, critic and editor. His most recent books are “Time No Longer: Americans After the American Century” (Yale, 2013) and Somebody Else’s Century: East and West in a Post-Western World (Pantheon, 2010). Follow him @thefloutist. His web site is patricklawrence.us.

Our Pathologically Lying President Dissembling About the War He Cannot Win

American intelligence failure in Syria: Column

usa_today_long

Obama administration stammers: Putin didn’t surprise us… though we thought he’d turn on Assad… but he’ll sink in Mideast quagmire.

 

The White House insists that Russia’s increasingly bold intervention in Syria is a sign of Russia’s weakness. Obama administration officials will probably keep keep using this kind of double talk right up until Moscow declares victory.

Russia’s move into Syria forced the administration and its defenders to explain why this wasn’t the biggest intelligence failure since the Iraq war. The signs of an impending campaign were there: Russia asking for increased overflight permission from neighboring countries; runways in Syria being lengthened to accommodate large transports and bombers; and advanced fighter aircraft showing up in-country that the Syrians were not trained to fly. In response, the White House chose to “take a wait and see” approach, which is not really an approach so much as doing nothing.

The White House claimed not to have been caught by surprise, though House Intelligence Committee member Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Calif., says it would have been perfectly understandable if they had been.

I don’t know, frankly, that [Russia’s president Vladimir] Putin knew that he was going to do that until he made the decision,” Schiff said. “I’m not sure even Putin’s inner circle would have seen it coming.”

If so, Putin’s invasion is history’s first example of a surprise attack that surprised even the attackers.

Putin had said he was prepared to attack the “terrorists” in Syria, which to the administration meant the Islamic State. But the Russians define terrorists to include anyone fighting Assad, including our CIA-backed rebels, a minor detail lost on the Obama team. The administration was also lulled into a false sense of security by the peculiar belief, perhaps based on disinformation floated by Moscow, that the Russians were going to cut their most loyal ally in the Arab world loose. Even last week an unnamed U.S. official still held out hope that Russia intended to turn on Assad in order to “negotiate a settlement favorable to Russia.” But why should Russia negotiate anything if they are winning?

Another anonymous U.S. official said that Moscow’s move “improves morale” of the CIA-backed rebels because “now they get to fight the Russians.” Yes it must be a real morale booster after having seen Russian forces reduce Grozny, Chechnya, to a lifeless moonscape. Plus with the U.S. rushing to get its assets out of Russia’s way, there will be no possibility of air or fire support. Add to that the fact that the administration is not willing to send sophisticated anti-air weapons to the rebels and their mood must be festive indeed.

Russia is not stronger as a consequence of what they’ve been doing,” President Obama cautioned at his Oct. 2 press conference, all evidence to the contrary notwithstanding. He said that this campaign was simply an attempt to raise Putin’s poll numbers at home; meanwhile Obama’s foreign policy approval ratings remain solidly underwater. He denied that there was a “proxy war” between the United States and Russia, news that might come as a surprise to the insurgent proxies America is supporting against a Russian client state. “This is not some superpower chessboard contest,” Obama declared, “and anybody who frames it in that way isn’t paying very close attention to what’s been happening on the chessboard.” I.e., the chessboard on which there is no contest. Press secretary Josh Earnest later expanded on the board game analogy, saying “I don’t think President Putin is playing chess, he’s playing checkers.” But President Obama is the one who keeps saying “king me.”The White House has a ready critique of all the mistakes the Russians are supposedly making. They are being pulled into a “quagmire.” They are “alienating” the Sunni community. They are “isolat[ing]” themselves globally. But it’s odd how the facts on the ground won’t cooperate with administration spin. Meanwhile regardless of his fumbles, missteps and failures in Syria, President Obama projects the image of unflappable calm, of confidence, of cool and detached control, like the idealized captain of a doomed vessel as it slips beneath the waters.

James S. Robbins is a member of the USA TODAY Board of Contributors and is the author of The Real Custer: From Boy General to Tragic Hero.

Collusion and Subterfuge Between Fake Taliban, Pakistan, China, Afghanistan and US—ALL FOR TAPI

[The fake Taliban are a product of CIA/ISI connivance, being utilized by a China/US plot to forge a quasi-peace in northern Afghanistan, where the long-stalled TAPI pipeline is allegedly going to be constructed.  China is hoping to deliver the bastardized TAPI love-child where Qatar failed.   The newly rejuvenated Taliban is a merger of some Afghan factions with the Fazlullah faction of TTP (who had been chased out of Pakistan by Pak Army).  (SEE:  ISI Concocts Fake Taliban Negotiations In China, Far, Far From Doha )]

“Fazlullah, Omar Khalid Khurasani and Haji Mangal Bagh in a joint consultative meeting agreed on forming an organizing committee that would form a central supreme Shura (Rehbari Shura) and an organizing body.”–3 terrorist factions of Deobandi Taliban agree on reunification

News Analysis: Afghanistan hails Pakistan’s help in restarting peace process

Xinhua net English.news.cn

by Muhammad Tahir

ISLAMABAD, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) — Afghanistan has hailed the remarks made by Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif that he would exert efforts in bringing back the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table.

Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah suggested that Sharif should accompany his remarks with trust-building measures.

“It is good news that Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has announced his readiness to encourage and bring the Taliban back to the negotiating table or facilitating the peace process,” Abdullah told a meeting of the Council of Ministers in Kabul on Monday.

Abdullah also wanted Islamabad’s help in ending the “capability ” of the Taliban in launching major attacks against the Afghan government and people.

The Pakistan-brokered talks between the representatives of the Afghan government and the Taliban were postponed in late July after the Afghan spy agency revealed the death of the Taliban supreme leader Mullah Muhammad Omar.

The Taliban had requested the postponement of the announcement since they were still in the midst of a transition after Omar’s death.

Sharif’s offer to work for the resumption of the Afghan peace process shows that Islamabad is aware that the continued instability in Afghanistan will have a direct impact on Pakistan.

The series of violent attacks in Afghanistan by the Taliban have also affected Afghanistan’s bilateral relations with Pakistan, which is a big challenge for the leadership’s earlier commitment to maintain a good neighborly relationship.

Although Pakistani officials have insisted that they do not have control over the Afghan Taliban, many Afghan leaders still believed that Islamabad has a big influence over the Taliban and can encourage the Taliban leaders to restart the intra-Afghan peace dialogue.

One Pakistani official, on condition of anonymity, said the peace process can be fast-track if the Afghan government itself comes forward with its own strategy on how to go about the peace dialogue.

The official said the Afghan government must also be more transparent and should specify the role that Pakistan and other major countries should play in facilitating the stalled talks.

According to the official, Afghan leaders should be aware that there are some groups who are out to derail the peace negotiations.

“These detractors with vested interests would keep on trying to sow dissension between Pakistan and Afghanistan and this has complicated the whole process,” the official said.

Afghan leaders are right to call for trust with Pakistan, which is a fundamental requirement to push the peace negotiation forward.

Abdullah’s comments reflect the current mood in Kabul, indicating that the Afghan unity government of which Abdullah is a major player continues to recognize the important role of Pakistan in the forging of a permanent peace in Afghanistan.

Afghan leaders had hailed Pakistan after the Taliban agreed for the first time in 14 years to sit face-to-face with the representatives of Afghan government in the scenic Pakistani city of Murree on July 7.

The direct talks were also important as the process had the backing of the (TTP Pakistani, a.k.a., ISIS in Afghanistan) Taliban‘s powerful Rehbari Shura of the Leadership Council.

Afghanistan’s deputy foreign minister, Hekmat Khalil Karzai, a senior member of the government negotiating team had admitted that they had discussions with “real” Taliban representatives when he spoke at a post-talks news conference in Kabul on July 8.

But internal rift within the Taliban over the election of the new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansoor had a negative impact on the peace process.

It is widely believed in Pakistani that Mansoor has ” strengthened” his control over the militant group. Allegiance by the son and brother of Mullah Omar after their initial refusal gave a major boost to Mansoor, who is seen now in a comfortable position to take key decisions including the Taliban’s readiness to restart the peace talks.

The Taliban leadership has said that it was Mansoor who had sent his three senior leaders for the first round of the ice- breaking talks with the Afghan government on July 7.

Mansoor was the acting Taliban chief when the group held initial talks with Kabul.

Another important development is that Mansoor is also in full control of the Taliban political office in Qatar. The former head of the Taliban Qatar office, Sayed Tayyeb Agha, had earlier distanced his team from the Pakistan-brokered talks.

 

US Army General Gives Rosy Afghan Forecast To Enable Pentagon Cut and Run?

NY Times Says Pentagon – i.e., Obama – Lies About Afghanistan

Investors.com_

U.S. Forces-Afghanistan Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. John CampbellU.S. Forces-Afghanistan Resolute Support Mission Commander Gen. John Campbell

CBS News ended up apologizing after accusing Vietnam commander Gen. William Westmoreland in 1982 of low-balling what the Viet Cong’s numbers actually were, for the purpose of maintaining domestic support for the war.

Now we have the spectacle of another general being accused by the press of misleading the public, but to justify “ending” a war.

Tuesday’s New York Times editorial says Gen. John Campbell, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, misled Congress when he said that the NATO-trained Afghan forces doing fine against the Taliban.

The editorial notes that UN data on the Taliban shows “an expanding insurgency that has spread through more of Afghanistan than at any point since the Taliban government was deposed at the end of 2001.”

The Taliban took the northern city of Kunduz from uninspired, battle-shy Afghan government forces two weeks ago.

All of it contrasts sharply with the pretty picture painted by Campbell of “courage and resilience” from an Afghan army “still holding” the Afghan capital, provincial capitals, most other important cities, and the highway connecting them.

The Times harrumphed that “As long as this country has troops and money invested in Afghanistan, Congress and the public need to hear the truth about how the mission is going,” because “trying to hide it just feeds people’s cynicism about government and the military and can produce disastrous policy.”

But it’s not “the truth about how the mission is going”; it’s the truth about ending the mission before it was accomplished. That’s the disastrous policy of President Obama.

Hiding the truth that the Taliban is headed straight back into power supports disinvestment of our troops and money in Afghanistan. It’s the mirror image of the false accusations against Gen. Westmoreland in Vietnam.

Whether Gen. Campbell, hand-picked by Obama a year ago to execute the U.S. exit from Afghanistan, actually believes his own exaggerations or not, they constitute a blessing of Obama’s strategy that Afghan forces will do just fine by themselves against the bloodthirsty terrorists, and that America can leave there with a clear conscience.

And whether or not we let 10,000 or so troops remain after the end of next year, as Campbell advises, it won’t be nearly enough to keep the Taliban at bay.

A remarkable spectacle if it really is true: the U.S. military deceiving the public to lose — not win — a war.

“Erdogan the Dictator” and the Convenience of ISIS

Turks turn on Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the wake of terror blasts

the Australian

AFP

The brother of a mother of two killed in the weekend bombings in Ankara cries over her co

The brother of a mother of two killed in the weekend bombings in Ankara cries over her coffin during her funeral in Istanbul. Source: AP

Anger towards President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over Turkey’s worst terror attack has intensified as authorities raced to identify two male suicide bombers blamed for the bloodshed.

The streets of Ankara filled yesterday with anti-government and pro-Kurdish protesters ­accusing the government of responsibility for the blast that ripped through a peace rally on Saturday night (AEDT). Several shouted “Erdogan murderer” and “government resign”. In Istanbul, a 10,000-strong crowd ­accused the government of failing to protect citizens by providing ­security for the event, carrying placards reading “the state is a killer” and “we know the murderers”.

As tributes poured in from world leaders, Peoples’ Democratic Party leader Selahattin Demirtas was cited as saying “State attacked the people. Condolences recipient should be the people not Erdogan” on the party’s Twitter account.

In an emotional address to mourners in Ankara, Mr Demirtas said citizens should aim to end Mr Erdogan’s rule, starting with November 1 legislative elections.

“We are not going to act out of revenge and hatred. But we are going to ask for (people to be held to) account,” he added, saying the vote would be part of a process to “topple the dictator”.

The party believed the death toll stood at 128, higher than the 97 people the Prime Minister’s ­office said were killed when the bombs exploded as leftist and pro-Kurdish activists assembled by the city’s main train station.

The official toll said 507 people were wounded and that 160 were still in hospital and 65 in intensive care in 19 hospitals. The government, which has denied any responsibility, was attempting to identify the two male suicide bombers it blamed for the bloodshed, but the strike had yet to be claimed by any group.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said groups including Islamic State, the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the far-left Revolutionary People’s Liberation Party-Front were capable of carrying out such an ­attack. “Work is continuing to identify the corpses of the … terrorists who carried out the suicide bombings,” his office said.

The scene of the blasts was littered with ball bearings, indicating the explosions were intended to cause maximum damage.

With the country on edge, Mr Erdogan issued a statement condemning the “heinous” bombings and cancelled a planned visit to Turkmenistan, but he had yet to speak in public since the attack that shocked the nation.

Even before the attacks, the President was under immense political pressure after his Justice and Development Party lost its overall majority in June 7 polls for the first time since it came to power in 2002. Coalition talks failed and Mr Erdogan called new polls. But opinion polls show the outcome may be little different to the previous ballot.

The Ankara death toll surpasses that of the May 2013 twin bombings in Reyhanli on the Syr­ian border, which killed more than 50 people, making the attack the deadliest in the history of the Turkish Republic.

NTV television said the Suruc and Ankara attacks were similar both in style and the type of bombs used. The same forensic experts sent to Suruc were working in Ankara. The Hurriyet and Haberturk dailies said the elder brother of Abdurrahman Alagoz, who carried out the Suruc suicide bombing, could be implicated in the Ankara blasts.

The Suruc bombing caused one of the most serious flare-ups in Turkey in recent times as the PKK accused the government of collaborating with Islamic State and resumed attacks on the security forces after a truce of more than two years. The military hit back, launching a “war on terror” against the Kurdish militants.

The PKK announced at the weekend it would suspend attacks — except in self defence — ahead of the polls. But the Turkish army kept up its campaign.

AFP

Putin’s Syrian Power Play Forces Rethink On All Players

2 powerful Gulf sheikhs talk Syria with Putin

Asia Times

The meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin took Sunday at Sochi on the sidelines of the Russian Grand Prix with the powerful Defense Minister of Saudi Arabia and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud (son of King Salman) signifies a dramatic shift of the templates in the geopolitics of the Syrian question.

Vladimir Putin (R) and Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud at their meeting in Sochi Sunday

The very fact that Mohammed bin Salman travelled to Russia for a second time this year already (ostensibly to watch the Formula 1, but intentionally to meet up with Putin) becomes hugely symbolic against the backdrop of the Russian military operations in Syria.

The bottom line is that Saudi Arabia has far from shifted into a hostile mood vis-à-vis Russia following the latter’s commencement of military operations in Syria.

The scant details available so far make out that Syria figured in Mohammed bin Salman’s talks with Putin, with the visiting Saudi prince maintaining that Riyadh backs a solution to the crisis in Syria, which would result in the formation of a transitional government and the removal of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Now, is there a vague sign of a softening in the Saudi stance? Possibly so. At least, Mohammed bin Salman did not make Assad’s removal a precondition for the transition itself.

According to the Russian account, Mohammed bin Salman said Saudi Arabia desires improvement of ties with Russia and reportedly discussed cooperation in military technology (Russian code for arms deals.)

The most interesting part could be that Mohammed bin Salman flagged the Saudi interest in increased cooperation with Russia in fighting terrorism. The Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Moscow sought to assuage Riyadh’s concerns on Syria and both sides shared the objective of preventing a “terrorist caliphate” from taking root in Syria.

Earlier Sunday, Putin also held a meeting in Sochi with the UAE Crown Prince Mohammad bin Zayed al-Nahyan in which, again, Syria figured.

Conceivably, there would have been some degree of back-to-back consultations between Riyadh and Abu Dhabi prior to Monday’s dramatic diplomatic engagements in Sochi.

Ironically, as recently as Thursday, BBC had quoted a “well-placed Saudi government official” to the effect that Riyadh is set to increase supplies of “lethal’” weaponry to the extremist rebel groups fighting the Syrian government forces to make up for the losses they might be suffering from the Russian air strikes. The recipient groups mentioned were Jaish al-Fatah, Free Syrian Army and the Southern Front.

Equally, the Jerusalem Post newspaper followed up Saturday with an analysis entitled ‘Gulf states boost aid to Syrian rebels’, arguing that the “Sunni world is revving up for an explosive counterattack to have powerful intervention in Syria”.

The visits by Mohammed bin Salman and Sheikh Zayed to Russia would point in an opposite direction. It seems there could be a whole lot of highly motivated assessments floating around lately on the geopolitics of the Syrian question that border on disinformation or propaganda and are out of touch with the reality.

One key point to be noted is that Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the two key GCC powers, have opened a direct line to the Kremlin within no time after the US President Barack Obama summarily decided that the $500 million program to train a Syrian rebel force is being terminated.

Of course, without the US involvement, Washington’s regional allies – Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey in particular – are forced to do some quick rethink. After all, they are sensible enough to know their limits in confronting the Russian military might on own steam.

Secondly, most analysts assessing the Gulf states’ attitude to the Russian build-up in Syria have overlooked that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are seriously overstretched in Yemen. The Saudi-Emirati intervention in Yemen was always a high-risk gambit and a classic dilemma faces them today after over six months into the war – wade deeper into the river of blood by taking the war to the Houthi heartland in the north (which would require deployment of much larger forces) or to cut free by accepting some form of Houthi self-rule in the north.

But then, the specter that is haunting Saudi Arabia and the UAE is also of Yemen undergoing a north-south split as two entities (as they used to be in the Cold War era.) However, acquiescing with a break-up of Yemen would mean that Riyadh will be not only presiding over the split of a fellow Arab state on sectarian lines (which would be precedent-setting and highly damaging to the Saudi prestige) but also demands that Saudi Arabia would have to learn to live with a de facto Houthi state on its southern border which is certain to be hostile.

On the other hand, if the Saudis plunge deeper into the Houthi heartland, they would be taking on a battle-hardened and highly capable guerilla army on its native turf, which also happens to be an extremely difficult terrain. (Indeed, the risks for Saudi Arabia’s finances if it plunges deeper into the Yemeni morass are self-evident, too.)

Suffice it so say, Yemen needs to be brought up before the UN Security Council where, needless to say, Russia would have a decisive role to play in helping the Saudis and the Emiratis to make a decent face-saving exit from the war.

Now, annoying Russia or confronting Russia would be the last thing on the Saudi mind today. Russia has a great tradition in diplomacy and without doubt, Putin’s confidence that the improvement of the security situation in Syria will open the door for negotiations leading to a political settlement is well-founded, contrary to the apocalyptic visions being disseminated by the US media reports.

Conceivably, Obama understands Putin’s game plan but is unable to say so openly. (And in any case, America’s political class and intelligentsia is not a mood to listen to Obama, either.)

Thus, Washington’s move Friday to start removing the Patriot batteries from Turkey; the Pentagon announcement Friday regarding the termination of the covert operation to build a rebel Syrian army to overthrow the Assad government; the US decision to shift its own military operations to northeastern regions of Syria (away from the theatre of the Russian air strikes); Obama’s categorical statement ruling out a proxy war in Syria against Russia (even while estimating that Moscow is risking a quagmire in Syria); Obama’s pledge that the only war US intends to fight in Syria is the war against the Islamic State – all these need to be seen in perspective.

Put differently, the visit by the Saudi Deputy Crown Prince to meet Putin underscores that the prospects for a Moscow-led diplomatic track opening on Syria in a foreseeable future might have significantly improved. To be sure, Obama has no reason to view the Russian-Saudi proximity in zero sum terms. (By the way, Putin disclosed in a TV interview Sunday that the “first steps in the establishment of contacts [with the US] have been made already”.)

The horrific terrorist strike in Ankara on Saturday killing over 95 people would only have brought the Saudis and the other GCC states (and Washington) closer than ever before to Putin’s thinking that fighting the Islamic State is a common cause and should be the top priority today in Syria.

Turkey has pointed the finger at the Islamic State militants for Saturday’s terrorist attacks. Putin has been quoted as saying that his talks with Sheikh Zayed were particularly important “in the light of the recent terrorist acts in Turkey”. It is possible that cooperation with the Russian intelligence has become vital at a practical level too for the Gulf states in the best interests of their national security.

(Copyright 2015 Asia Times Holdings Limited, a duly registered Hong Kong company. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

US C-17s Drop 112 pallets of Ordinance To Syrian Terrorists In Hasakah Province

U.S. delivers 50 tons of ammunition to Syria rebel groups 

cnn

(CNN)U.S. military cargo planes gave 50 tons of ammunition to rebel groups overnight in northern Syria, using an air drop of 112 pallets as the first step in the Obama Administration’s urgent effort to find new ways to support those groups.

Details of the air mission over Syria were confirmed by a U.S. official not authorized to speak publicly because the details have not yet been formally announced.

C-17s, accompanied by fighter escort aircraft, dropped small arms ammunition and other items like hand grenades in Hasakah province in northern Syria to a coalition of rebels groups vetted by the US, known as the Syrian Arab Coalition.

All pallets successfully were recovered by friendly forces, a U.S. official said.

Iraqi AF Deploys Armed Chinese Drones Against ISIS Leadership To Deadly Effect

[SEE: Islamic State: ‘Unclear’ if terrorist group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi killed in air strike, Iraq says ; The Iraqi air force bombed a convoy of the leader of the Islamic State. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi likely to survive  ; Al-Baghdadi’s Son-In-Law Killed Near Hawija (Walhan Waziri was head of IS intelligence activities in the area)]

Iraq uses drone for first time to target ISIS

ANBAR – The Iraqi government has flown its first drone bombing missions on Islamic State (IS) positions in Anbar Province.
On Saturday October 10th, the Iraqi air force launched a drone from Kut in the eastern province of Wasit.
BasNews has learned that Iraqi Defence Minister Khaled al-Obeidi attended the base from where the unmanned aircraft took off.
IS militants seized Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, in May 2015 to expand its territory from northern Iraq to the west of the country.
The Iraqi federal government has ordered 36 F-16 fighter jets from the US to increase its air force capacity and support the ground forces to wipe out the jihadists from Anbar and Mosul.

Iraqi MOD announced today that it has received the CH-4B UAVs from China.
The CH-4B is comparable to the US made MQ-9 Reaper.
he CH-4B is a mixed attack and reconnaissance system with provisions for 6 weapons and a payload of up to 250 to 345 kg.
No information on the number of UAVs received.




Brits Hammered Again In Kabul , As Chopper Crash Follows Deadly Taliban Strike On Convoy

British troops killed in Kabul chopper crash

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British troops killed in Kabul chopper crash
Afghan security forces arrive at the scene of a suicide car bomb attack that targeted foreign military vehicles at Jo-e-Sher in Kabul on October 11, 2015

KABUL – Two Britons were among five NATO troops killed in a helicopter crash in Kabul, a second blow for British forces Sunday after a Taliban suicide bomber targeted their convoy in the capital.

The incidents came just two weeks after the resurgent militant group overran the key northern city of Kunduz, their biggest military victory in 14 years of war.

The helicopter crashed while landing at the NATO headquarters in Kabul, the military coalition said, ruling out any insurgent activity behind the incident.

“The (crash) resulted in the death of five Resolute Support (NATO) personnel and the injury of five others,” it said in a statement, without revealing their nationalities.

The defence ministry in London confirmed that two British Royal Air Force personnel were among those killed, adding that an investigation had been launched into the crash.

The latest deaths bring to 456 the total number of British forces, personnel and defence ministry civilians killed serving in Afghanistan since it joined the US-led invasion of the country in 2001.

The crash came just hours after a Taliban suicide car bomber struck a British forces convoy in central Kabul, wounding at least three civilians including a child, Afghan officials said. No British casualties were reported.

The British defence ministry confirmed their convoy came under attack and said the explosion was caused by an improvised explosive device.

The rush-hour bombing caused a powerful explosion in the capital, sending plumes of smoke into the sky and littering the area with charred pieces of twisted metal.

Resurgent Taliban

The Taliban said Sunday’s attack was carried out to avenge the recent “barbaric bombardment in Kunduz that martyred our civilians and doctors”.

On October 3 a US air strike pummelled a hospital in Kunduz run by Doctors Without Borders (MSF), killing at least 12 staff and 10 patients.

The medical charity shut down the trauma centre in response, branding the incident a “war crime” and demanding an international investigation into the incident, which sparked an avalanche of global condemnation.

The Pentagon announced Saturday it would make compensation payments for those killed or injured in the strike, while suggesting that US forces in Afghanistan could also pay for repairs to the hospital.

But MSF Sunday said it had officially not received any compensation offer, adding that it would not accept funds for repairs in line with its policy of rejecting support from governments.

President Barack Obama has apologised over the strike, with three different investigations — led by NATO, US forces and Afghan officials — currently under way.

The Taliban captured Kunduz city for three days last month, in a stinging blow to Afghan forces, who have largely been fighting on their own since the end of NATO’s combat mission in December.

The emboldened insurgents have stepped up attacks on government and foreign targets since they launched their annual summer offensive in late April.

The Afghan government claims to have wrested back control of Kunduz city but sporadic firefights continue with pockets of insurgents as soldiers, backed by NATO special forces, conduct door-to-door clearance operations.

Putin Meets With Saudi Def. Min. In Sochi

Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Saudi's Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud pose for the media after the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. (Alexei Nikolsky/The Associated Press)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, right, and Saudi’s Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud pose for the media after the Formula One Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi Autodrom, in Sochi, Russia, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015.
(Alexei Nikolsky/The Associated Press)

Putin, Saudi defence minister agree to co-operate in Syria

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SOCHI, Russia — Reuters
Russian President Vladimir Putin met Saudi Arabia’s defence minister on Sunday, in Moscow’s biggest attempt so far to reach out to enemies of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad since Russia joined the conflict with air strikes.

Speaking after the meeting between Putin and Sheikh Mohammed bin Salman, a son of the Saudi king, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said both countries were willing to cooperate in Syria and wanted to prevent the formation of a “terrorist caliphate”.

“On both sides, as far as I can tell, there is an understanding that today’s meeting can advance our cooperation,” Lavrov said.

Russia’s intervention in Syria has infuriated Assad’s regional foes, including Saudi Arabia, who say Russian air strikes have been hitting rebel groups opposed to Assad, and not just the Islamic State fighters Moscow says it is targeting.

Lavrov acknowledged that Saudi Arabia had “concerns” about Russia’s aims but said it was targeting only extremists, including Islamic State and Jabhat al Nusra, a group linked to al Qaeda.

The Russian air strikes derailed a tentative detente between the two countries earlier this year, which aimed to smooth tensions over Syria and relations with Riyadh’s regional rival Iran.

“We expressed our concerns that these operations could be regarded as an alliance between Iran and Russia,” said Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir.

“But in the conversation, our Russian friends explained to us that the main aim is the fight with ISIS and terrorism,” he added, using an acronym for Islamic State.

America’s ‘perpetual war’ in the Middle East must end

America’s ‘perpetual war’ in the Middle East must end

star tribune

Our involvement isn’t helping, and it’s bankrupting our nation.

itemprop

Petros Giannakouris • Associated Press The flood of Syrian refugees, like these arriving in Greece last month, is part of mounting Middle East chaos dramatizing the failure of American policy.

With the rapidly spreading violence and chaos in the Middle East clearly in mind during his address to the United Nations, Pope Francis issued a “grave summons to an examination of conscience [for] those charged with the conduct of international affairs.” For the U.S., an examination of conscience — and facts — reveals a Middle East military policy that one senior intelligence officer starkly summed up as “perpetual war” with no strategic objectives.

Despite our good intentions, our involvement in these thousand-year-old conflicts in which we have no real friends, and where we have been on every side at one time or another, has proved disastrous. The simple truth is that this strategy is bankrupting our nation and prolonging the conflicts.

U.S.- trained Iraqi and Syrian fighters are cutting, running and allowing state-of-the-art American weapons to fall into the hands of our enemies. Syrian refugees are flooding into Europe, with thousands dying on their journeys. The Russians are supplying weapons and aid to the Syrian government against ISIL — positioning Putin as the region’s leader in the war against Islamic terror. With the American-supported Iraqi government teetering on collapse, Iran’s influence continues to grow.

And now come New York Times accounts that senior officials at U.S. Central Command have been skewing reports to the president and Congress in order to downplay these failures.

The facts, according to the Times, are that the real truths intelligence experts have tried to communicate are sobering in the extreme. They’ve concluded that we have no strategy and no idea what “victory” would mean in Iraq and Syria; that the religious nature of these conflicts has been greatly underestimated; that U.S. “boots on the ground” would be totally unrealistic, and that U.S. bombings have done little to disrupt black-market oil sales funding ISIL; instead, they have left the region in a state of “perpetual war.”

Even those who believe it’s in our interest to remain immersed in these battles must now agree that the costs are simply too great. With the money we’ve spent in Iraq and Syria, we could have rebuilt our crumbling roads and bridges, allowed every college student in America to graduate debt-free and still given beleaguered middle-class taxpayers a trillion-dollar tax break.

Instead, our dollars are being systematically and outrageously wasted across the Middle East. Truckloads full of cash have disappeared into the pockets of warlords and corrupt government officials. Iraq even used our money at one point to pay 50,000 “ghost soldiers” who don’t exist.

Meanwhile, the half-billion dollars Congress appropriated to arm and train so-called “friendly” Syrians to battle ISIL has produced a mere handful of combatants left in the field — “four or five,” according to Gen. Lloyd Austin III, commander of U.S. Central Command. The foolishness of thinking we could train and equip a few fighters, and then drop them into a conflict with dozens of groups and hundreds of thousands of soldiers, rebels, and terrorists fighting each other — and expect them to make a difference — defies all reason.

Together with my Republican colleague, Curt Clawson of Florida, I pleaded with the House earlier this year to come to its bipartisan senses and not appropriate another $600 million to the funds that had already been wasted and misspent on this program. We failed, and the taxpayers are forced to keep anteing up.

To its credit, the House did stand up for taxpayers and unanimously pass my amendment to the 2016 defense authorization bill directing the Pentagon to stop supplying and training any military faction in Iraq or Syria that has been found to misuse U.S. arms and resources. At the rate we’re going, misuse will soon be so widespread that this provision will apply to virtually every fighter in Iraq and Syria who can hold or drop a gun.

As the U.S. came within inches of war with Syria two years ago, Secretary of State John Kerry bristled when I suggested that our leaders were suffering from a case of “historical amnesia” — failing to see the obvious parallels between our military involvement in the Middle East and the war in Vietnam, for which we paid so dearly in precious blood and treasure. With our situation in the Middle East progressively worsening, I hope my point has become more clear.

Now one thing is certain. We need to heed Pope Francis’ “grave summons to an examination of conscience” and turn the Middle East’s problems back to the Middle East. We can’t solve them. And we certainly can’t afford to keep paying for them.

Rick Nolan, a Democrat, represents Minnesota’s Eighth Congressional District in the U.S. House.

Obama’s New Plan—FLOOD SYRIA WITH WEAPONS, training is a waste of time

“Under the new plan, the U.S. will no longer vet individual fighters. Instead, it will provide communication equipment, weapons and ammunition to rebel commanders whom the U.S. will vet in an effort to ensure that they do not have links to extremist groups.

If the new plan works, those commanders will receive the equipment, distribute it among their units and push into territory controlled by Islamic State.”

President Obama has decided to end the Pentagon’s failed effort to field its own proxy force in Syria, the administration announced Friday.

Instead of trying to back a moderate Syrian rebel force that the U.S. would train and equip, the administration will focus on supporting the Kurds and other established rebel groups in the country’s civil war, according to officials familiar with the plan.

The Pentagon “will provide equipment packages and weapons to a select group of vetted leaders and their units so that over time they can make a concerted push into territory still controlled by ISIL,” Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook said in a statement, referring to the Islamic State militia that controls large parts of northern and eastern Syria and is the main U.S. target in the country.

“We will monitor the progress these groups make and provide them with air support as they take the fight to ISIL,” Cook said.

The decision comes amid continued heavy fighting in Syria that illustrated the complex, deadly interaction of outside powers that have intervened in the country and the numerous armed groups that are trying to overthrow the government of President Bashar Assad while attacking one another.

In the region around Aleppo in northern Syria, Islamic State extremists stormed positions held by other rebel militias Friday, according to the group and another organization in the Syrian opposition.

Islamic State’s media office in Aleppo province said that “soldiers of the caliphate” had overrun six villages. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a group based in London, described the gain as “one of the largest advances the Islamic State has achieved in Aleppo province for months.”

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, meanwhile, acknowledged in a statement that one of its commanders, Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamadani, had been killed near Aleppo. Iran and Russia have been the two key allies for Assad in his struggle to hang on to power in Syria.

Russia continued its bombardment of the country, with its Defense Ministry saying it had carried out 67 sorties against 60 targets across northern Syria over the preceding 24 hours. The statement claimed that the strikes had killed 300 militants and two senior Islamic State field commanders.

The U.S. wants to see Assad removed from power but has focused its attention on Islamic State militants, who oppose Assad but have also attacked U.S. allies, killed American captives and threatened terrorist attacks. With its Arab allies, the U.S. has conducted airstrikes targeting what it says are Islamic State positions, though the Obama administration has been reluctant to get too closely involved in supporting the various warring militias.

Establishing a U.S.-backed proxy force was seen last year as a significant escalation of American involvement, but the program started slowly and never succeeded.

The plan involved selecting potential fighters from moderate Syrian rebel groups, taking them out of the country to camps and giving them arms, equipment and six weeks of training to create a force that could tackle Islamic State fighters. The effort has been a thorough failure, as officials have conceded.

Just 125 fighters — instead of the originally envisioned 5,400 or more — were trained before the Pentagon put the effort on hold last month.

The first 54 recruits were ambushed by Al Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliate, after they crossed back into Syria. The second class of 71 surrendered much of their U.S.-issued ammunition and trucks to Al Nusra Front fighters in exchange for safe passage.

The program initially was envisioned as a three-year plan to recruit, train and equip fighters at bases in Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

Thousands of rebels applied, but each one had to be vetted by the U.S in a process that often took months. Many were underage or had militant backgrounds, which made them ineligible.

The prospective host countries and many of the fighters disagreed with the U.S. emphasis on fighting Islamic State, saying the training should focus on ousting Assad. As Obama conceded in a recent news conference, many of the fighters objected to U.S. efforts to push them into fighting Islamic State in eastern Syria rather than Assad’s forces in the western part of the country.

In the end, only Turkey and Jordan hosted training. Of the $500 million Congress appropriated last year for the effort, $41.8 million had been spent as of May.

“We have clearly faced challenges with the train-and-equip program,” said one senior administration official familiar with the discussions who was not authorized to speak about the program publicly.

By contrast, the Kurdish militia has proved to be a more organized and trained ground force. With help from U.S. airstrikes, Kurdish fighters in Syria defeated Islamic State forces in the town of Kobani near the Turkish border in January after a yearlong siege. In June, the Kurds beat the militants again in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad and cut a crucial Islamic State supply line for weapons and reinforcements funneling in throughTurkey.

“That’s the kind of more-effective approach we’re looking at,” Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said Friday in London.

“The work we’ve done with the Kurds in northern Syria is an example of an effective approach where you have a group that is capable, motivated on the ground and you can enable their success,” he said. “That’s exactly the kind of example that we’d like to pursue with other groups in other parts of Syria.”

Under the new plan, the U.S. will no longer vet individual fighters. Instead, it will provide communication equipment, weapons and ammunition to rebel commanders whom the U.S. will vet in an effort to ensure that they do not have links to extremist groups.

If the new plan works, those commanders will receive the equipment, distribute it among their units and push into territory controlled by Islamic State.

“A lot of this vetting of key leaders has already taken place,” said a senior U.S. defense official, who discussed the plan on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak about it publicly.

Still, officials acknowledged the risk that arms given to those groups could find their way to militants the U.S. opposes. To reduce the risk, the U.S. will be providing “more basic kinds of equipment to these groups” rather than higher-end materiel, said Christine Wormuth, undersecretary of Defense for policy and a principal assistant to Carter. Other officials did not rule out offering some of the groups weapons such as shoulder-launched missiles in the future.

That approach involves new complications. U.S. aid to the Kurdish fighters in Syria has, for example, been a source of tension with Turkey, which sees the Kurds as a threat. But White House officials insisted that they had discussed the new plans with the Turks.

“We’re working extremely closely with Turkey throughout this process,” said Brett McGurk, deputy special presidential envoy to the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL. Several key operations and tactical positions depend on continued Turkish support, he said.

Meantime, about 1,000 recruits are waiting to complete training and return to Syria, according to U.S. officials. Fighters now at the U.S.-run training camps will remain there for an undetermined period as the Pentagon rolls out its new program, the officials said.

Rebels connected to groups supported under a separate CIA program said Friday that the change in the Pentagon’s plans would not affect them.

Hennigan reported from London and Parsons from Washington. Times staff writer Brian Bennett in Washington and special correspondent Nabih Bulos in Beirut contributed to this report.

US Officials Gloating Over ISIS Murder of High-Ranking Iranian General In Aleppo Terrorist Attack

 

  • A U.S. official says the death also highlights the extent of Iranian involvement in Syria
  • Iran has become increasingly public about its aid to Syria’s government

Washington (CNN) — The death of a top Iranian military commander in Syria this week has dealt a “psychological blow” to elements backing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, according to a U.S. intelligence official.

The killing of a commander in the Revolutionary Guards Corps at the hands of ISIS also highlights the extent of Iranian involvement in Syria and the dire straits in which Assad finds himself, Washington-based analysts say.

Brig. Gen. Hossein Hamedani was killed outside Aleppo, Syria, where he was advising the Syrian army in its fight against extremists, Iranian state media reported Friday.

Iranian media carried messages of condolence from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who described Hamedani’s death as a big loss and applauded the senior commander for his bravery.

“He was in charge of [Iranian] operations inside Syria,” said former CIA officer Reuel Marc Gerecht. “He’s been involved in this from A to Z, so in the short term, it’s probably a fairly significant loss.”

The current U.S. intelligence official said the general’s death would be a setback for fighters supporting the government.

“There’s no doubt that it is a psychological blow to pro-regime forces in Syria,” he said.

Analysts say the high-level loss highlights the extent of Iran’s involvement in the fighting.

“The fact that you have a senior Iranian general shows both the desperation of the regime, as well as now the degree of Iranian involvement now in Syria,” said Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

The United States and Iran both say they are fighting ISIS terrorists, but in practice they have different goals: The United States is supporting rebels trying to oust Assad, while Assad’s close ally Iran became involved to defend his regime.

“I’m not sure it’s the Iranian objective to beat ISIS,” said Gerecht. “I think the primary Iranian objective is to ensure that Assad does not fall.”

Iran has become increasingly public about its aid to Syria’s government, at first not disclosing flights to Syria in 2012 which Washington believed to be full of advisers and weapons. Now, however, Iranian officials praise their officers for assisting and advising Syrian regime forces.

“It’s harder for the Iranians to hide when it’s someone like that who has real visibility,” said Dennis Ross, former adviser on Iran to President Barack Obama.

Suruc Attack II—same circumstances, same timing, same targets

[The July bombing of a pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) rally and today’s bombing are nearly identical events, which should help the Kurds avoid the next similar attack (SEE:  PKK Calls ISIS Turkish Intelligence Agents In Different Clothes).  In all of the articles that I have read this morning on the attack, the similarity of the events seems to jump out and grab you.  The first bomb blew as the joyous political party-goers were line-dancing, just as it was in Suruc.  Somewhere, I read that the bomb was in a trash can…the Suruc bombs were in trash cans.  Probably, just like before, the Kurds will react violently, killing a few Turkish soldiers or Policemen, justifying the next wave of govt repression.  This cycle will not be broken until the Kurds resist the impulse to avenge another false flag.] 

Twin blasts kill 30 at Ankara peace rally

aljazeera

Explosions in the centre of the Turkish capital kill at least 30 people, injure more than 120, interior ministry says.

An online video showed the moment one of the blasts at the peace rally in Ankara [Via @dokuz8haber]

Two explosions have rocked a road junction in the centre of the Turkish capital Ankara, killing at least 30 people and injuring dozens of others, the interior ministry said.

The blasts took place several minutes apart, with the first going off at around 10:00am (0700 GMT),  local media reported.

A video on social media showed the moment of one explosion: young people were dancing and waving banners as a massive fireball erupts.

The explosions occurred near a train station where people were gathering for a peace march to protest against the conflict between the state and Kurdish fighters in southeast Turkey.

Video footage on social media showed several bodies lying on the ground, as survivors tried to give first aid to the wounded.

Emergency crews were at the scene, responding to the injuries, with ambulances rushing off to several local hospitals. There were reports of shortages of blood and calls for donations.

‘Barbaric attack’

“We heard one huge blast and then one smaller explosion and then there was a a great movement and panic. Then we saw corpses around the station,” said Ahmet Onen, 52.

“A demonstration that was to promote peace has turned into a massacre, I don’t understand this,” he said, in floods of tears.

Demonstrators angered by the attack on their fellow activists shouted “police murderers!” at the scene of the blasts but were then dispersed as the security forces intervened.

The rally was organised by several leftist groups, including the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

https://twitter.com/HayalTamir/status/652749600680493056/photo/1?ref_src=twsrctfw

suruc II
“We are faced with a huge massacre. A barbaric attack has been committed,” said the HDP’s leader Selahattin Demirtas.

The attack came with Turkey on edge ahead of November 1 polls and a wave of unrest over the past few months.

An attack in the predominantly Kurdish town of Suruc on July 20 targeting pro-HDP activists and blamed on Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) fighters killed 32 people and wounded a hundred others.

The armed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) accused Ankara of collaborating with ISIL and resumed attacks on the Turkish security forces after observing a two-year ceasefire.

Over 140 members of the security forces have since been killed while Ankara claims to have killed over 1,700 Kurdish fighters in weeks of bombardments of PKK targets in southeast Turkey and northern Iraq.

‘Upcoming elections’

There had been suggestions that the PKK was about to announce a new ceasefire to help the HDP boost its score in the upcoming election.

The HDP performed strongly in the last vote on June 7, winning 80 seats to deprive President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) of an outright majority for the first time since it came to power in 2002.

The AKP then failed to form a coalition in months of talks, prompting Erdogan – who had been hoping for a large majority to push through reforms to boost his powers – to call another election on November 1.

Initial reports on Saturday’s blasts spoke of a single explosion but Turkish media said later there had been two separate blasts in short sequence.

The authorities were exploring the possibility that the blasts could have been caused by a suicide bomber, the official Anatolia news agency said.

Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had been briefed over the blast by Health Minister Mehmet Muezzinoglu, Anatolia said.

“We are investigating the explosion and will share our findings with the public as soon as possible,” a Turkish official said, without giving further details.

Source: Al Jazeera And Agencies