ThereAreNoSunglasses

American Resistance To Empire

Bringing Barack Obama To Justice For War Crimes Committed and Crimes In Progress

war criminals

Where is the hope for humanity when “the leader of the free world” actually leads a global war of aggression?

What else could you call the war on terror but a war of aggression, when it is clearly a war of the wealthiest nations against the poorest, a class-war of nations?

aleppo-abandoned-ghost-town-3What do you call it when the richest nations use their modern militaries to devastate poor, backward (Third World) nations, pounding them into dust in order to subjugate them?

Palestinian women sit on the rubble of their home in Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, Friday, Aug. 1, 2014. A three-day Gaza cease-fire that began Friday quickly unraveled, with Israel and Hamas accusing each other of violating the truce. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

When there is no power on earth capable of stopping, or reversing this global process of dehumanization, then what hope do our children and grandchildren really have in this world?

wolves-eatingIn this brave new world, all of them will either be one of the wolves, or one of the sacrificial lambs.  Is it humane or moral to will such a legacy to our own children, or to the children of other fellow human beings?

Is it time to pray for divine intervention, or time “MAN UP” and do the right thing for a change?

SANLIURFA, TURKEY - JANUARY 30 : Syrian kids fled from the civil war, living in Suruc refugee camp are seen in Sanliurfa, Turkey on January 30, 2015. Syrian kids will be able to continue their education with the Foreign Students Education Operation System in Turkey. (Photo by Orhan Cicek/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

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Obama’s Participation In the Ongoing War Crimes In Yemen

On July 30, 2015, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power, famous for decrying genocide as the greatest scourge of humanity, feigned concern over the desperate plight of millions in Yemen who currently risk starvation due to the Saudi-led air strikes and siege upon that country. Thus, Power (@AmbassadorPower) sent out the following tweet:

7/30/15, 8:15 AM
.@UNReliefChief described the critical situation in #Yemen: Of a population of 26m, 21m are in need of aid bit.ly/1Mu1wDm

This message by Ambassador Power, written as it is in the passive tense, is quite curious in that it attempts to put distance between Power herself and the Yemeni crisis, though, in fact, the very author of this crisis is none other than Power’s own boss, the U.S. President.

As the LA Times reported today, the

Saudi-led military offensive against Houthi rebels in Yemen has scored major gains this month . . . after the Pentagon more than doubled the number of American advisors to provide enhanced intelligence for airstrikes.

The role of about 45 U.S. advisors, up from 20, at joint military operations centers in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain has been vastly overshadowed by the far larger U.S.-led air war against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. So has Yemen’s toll of civilian casualties and refugees.

The LA Times further relates that:

The Obama administration is providing intelligence, munitions and midair refueling to coalition aircraft, and U.S. warships have helped enforce a blockade in the Gulf of Aden and southern Arabian Sea intended to prevent weapons shipments from Iran to the Houthis. . . .

Human rights groups say the sea cordon also cuts Yemen off from imports of basic commodities, including food and fuel, adding to the nation’s miseries.

Indeed, the Saudi-led war against Yemen for which the U.S. is providing critical support cannot be understated. Thus, as Reuters just reported:

“The humanitarian situation is nothing short of catastrophic. Every family in Yemen has been affected by this conflict,” [International Committee of the Red Cross President] Maurer said in a statement.

Some 4,345 people have been killed and 22,110 injured since March 19, the World Health Organization said on Tuesday, citing figures from Yemeni health care facilities.

Moreover, the airstrikes and blockade the U.S. is assisting with may actually constitute war crimes, in that they appear to be a means of intentionally starving out the Yemeni population. Again, Reuters relates that

Hilal Elver, United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, said 12.9 million people in Yemen lacked basic food supplies and 850,000 children faced acute malnutrition.

Sieges in a number of governorates, including Aden, Al Dhali, Lahj and Taiz, have been preventing staple food items, such as wheat, from reaching the civilian population, while air strikes have reportedly targeted local markets and trucks laden with food items,” Elver said in a statement.

She said the “deliberate starvation of civilians” caught in armed conflict might constitute a war crime.

In short, the U.S. is contributing to the deaths of quite possibly millions of civilians in Yemen, including nearly a million children. And yet, one barely hears a peep from the mainstream media over this. And meanwhile, you have the curious figure of Samantha Power — for me, the symbol of the U.S.’s moral hypocrisy — who claims to be a warrior for human rights, at least when U.S. enemies are allegedly violating them, but who remains silent in the face of the U.S.’s role in gross human rights abuses.

As a human rights lawyer and instructor, I am deeply concerned about how human rights is increasingly being used by the West, and especially by the U.S., as a bludgeon to justify armed intervention against other nations (e.g., Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Ukraine) while these interventions generally result in a worse humanitarian situation than existed prior to the intervention, and while the human rights violations of countries like the U.S. are generally ignored if not outright tolerated. Yemen is a quintessential example of such a destructive “human rights” doctrine, and Samantha Power is the quintessential apologist and enabler of it.

Obama’s “Shock and Awe”—Skeletonized Human Beings Line the Beach Near Tripoli, Libya

EXCLUSIVE: The Mediterranean’s grim tide – shocking never before seen pictures of migrants’ bodies washed up on beach in Libya

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  • WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
  • Bodies of hundreds of migrants who drowned trying to reach Europe by sea are washing up on Libyan beaches
  • Volunteers from the Libyan Red Crescent Society collect the remains every day along a 100-mile coastline stretch 
  • Remains, some just piles of bones, handed to authorities who record the deaths and bury them in unmarked graves

The dead bodies of desperate migrants who were bundled onto overcrowded boats destined for Europe, which capsized killing those on board, are washing up on Libya’s beaches.

Their bones, half submerged in the sand, will be buried in unmarked graves, their relatives unaware their loved ones have perished.

 

Volunteers from Libyan Red Crescent Society collect the bodies which were swallowed and spat out by the Mediterranean Sea as they risked their lives on the perilous journey from Libya bound for the island of Lampedusa off the Italian coast.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 men, women and children who were able to survive treacherous journeys to Europe continued to be rescued off the coasts of Italy and Greece each day.

Remains: Some of the bodies have been reduced to just piles of bones after they were swallowed and spat out by the Mediterranean sea

Bodies: Migrants desperate to reach Europe take on the treacherous journey across the Mediterranean but hundreds of their bodies have washed up on the beaches of Libya

Heartbreaking: Many migrants are forced to board dilapidated boats with their children, knowing that they may not reach their destination

Buried: The migrants’ bones poke out from under the sand after they drowned while desperately trying to flee their war-torn homelands

Shocking new photographs taken in Zuwara, on the west coast of Libya close to the Tunisian border, show the true extent of the migrant crisis.

Bodies, some of which are barely more than a pile of bones, are being picked up on a 100-mile stretch of the war-torn country from Garaboli to Zuwara.

One heartbreaking picture is of a skeleton, which has been washed up on the beach with the still wearing the pair of yellow trousers and black leather belt they set off in.

Taha Sultan, head of health at Libyan Red Crescent Society, an organisation working on the ground to help the country’s vulnerable population, said hundreds of bodies had been washing up over the past year.

Speaking to MailOnline from Benghazi in the east of the country, he said: ‘We have been dealing with this for more than a year along the west coast.

‘It happens every day. These kind of things happen all the time in Libya.’

Desperate: More than 1,000 people are rescued off the coasts of Italy and Greece every day, but many don’t manage to finish their journeys

Unidentified: Bodies of the migrants are collected by volunteers along the Libyan coastline and are buried by authorities in the country

Record highs: The number of migrants who have successfully arrived in Europe by sea so far this year is already approaching 250,000

Explaining the mindset of the people who board the boats, sometimes with their young families, Mr Sultan said: ‘People are desperate to leave because it’s dangerous, or they fear for their lives.

‘We have war – people get killed and there is no help coming. We also have ISIS here now. It’s very dangerous to live here.’

Libya is split between two governments backed by armed factions fighting each other but which control limited territory.

Islamic State and other armed groups have exploited a growing security vacuum on the ground to expand.

Libya Dawn, an alliance of armed groups, drove the internationally recognised government out of the capital, Tripoli, and declared its own government a year ago, leaving the oil-rich country on the verge of anarchy.

Libya: Bodies are washing up on a 100-mile stretch of the west of the war-torn country from Garaboli to Zuwara, near the Tunisian border

Volunteers: Workers from the Libyan Red Crescent Society, an organisation working on the ground, are collecting more bodies every day

Tragedy: Many of the migrants attempting to gain access to Europe are fleeing violence, natural disasters and poverty in their homelands

Mr Sultan said that those who try to leave the country by legal means are unable to get visas, so opt for dangerous trips across the sea on rickety ships.

Migrants who have arrived in Italy say human traffickers based in lawless Libya charge them between £770 and £1,150 for a place on the deck of boats. Those crammed in the hold pay about half as much as those above.

On Saturday, more than 40 migrants died in the Mediterranean off the Libyan coast after suffocating below the deck of an overcrowded boat.

The vessel was carrying around 400 people when it was intercepted south of the Italian island of Lampedusa.

Footage of the rescue showed two navy vessels helping men, women and children off the dangerously overcrowded ship.

The boat was ‘starting to sink’ when it was spotted by an Italian navy helicopter, around 21 miles off the Libyan coast.

Rescuers discovered the dead migrants when the boarded the boat.

Collected: The bodies are removed from the beaches and are handed over to the authorities in the country to be buried in unmarked graves

Deaths: On Saturday, 40 migrants died off the Libyan coast after suffocating below the deck of an overcrowded boat, carrying 400 people

Frequent loss: Hundreds of bodies of migrants have washed up on the beaches of the western coast of Libya over the past year

Survivors of such hazardous journeys have told of how traffickers lock migrants who paid less for the journey in the hold underneath.

These people endure extreme heat in the ship’s hold and there is a high risk of death if it capsizes.

And around 200 migrants were presumed killed earlier this month off the coast of Libya when their boat capsized.

According to the International Organization for Migration, the number of migrants and asylum seekers who have arrived in Europe by sea so far this year is approaching 250,000.

The death toll has risen to at least 2,300, but the figure is likely to be higher because some of the dead are never recovered.

Mr Sultan explained that the bodies are handed over to authorities, which photograph them and document the deaths before burying them.

More than 100,000 migrants have crossed the Channel of Sicily from Libya to reach safety in Italy so far this year.

Death toll: At least 2,300 migrants are known to have died this year while trying to reach Europe by sea, but the real figure will be higher

Frequent fatalities: About 200 migrants were presumed killed earlier this month off the Libyan coastline when their boat capsized

Route: An estimated 102,000 migrants have successfully crossed the Channel of Sicily from Libya to reach safety in Italy this year

The Impulse Towards Fascism and the Homogenized Society

Why aren’t we living in H.G. Wells’ scientific dictatorship?

IEET


Rick Searle

By Rick Searle
Utopia or Dystopia

 

One of the more depressing things to come out of the 2008 financial crisis was just how little it managed to effect our expectations about the economy and political forms of the future. Sure, there was Occupy Wall Street, and there’s been at least some interesting intellectual ferment here and there with movements such as Accelerationist Marxism and the like, but none have really gone anywhere. Instead what we’ve got is the same old system only now with even more guarantees and supports for the super rich. Donald Trump may be a blowhard and a buffoon, but even buffoons and blowhards can tell the truth as he did during last Thursday’s debate when he essentially stated that politicians were in the pocket to those with the cash, such as himself, who were underneath it all really running the show.

The last really major crisis of capitalism wasn’t anything like this. In the 1930’s not only had the whole system gone down, but nearly everyone seemed convinced that capitalism, (and some even thought the representative democracy that had emerged in tandem with it) was on the way out.

Then again, the political and economic innovation of the early 20th century isn’t the kind of thing any of us would wish for. Communists, which to many born after 1989 may seem as much like antiquated creatures from another world as American revolutionaries in powdered wigs, was by the 1930’s considered one of the two major ways the society of the future would likely be organized, and its’ competitor over the shape of the future wasn’t some humane and reasoned alternative, but the National Socialism of Hitler’s dark Reich.

things to come

If one wants to get a sense of the degree to which the smart money was betting against the survival of capitalism and democracy in the 1930’s one couldn’t do much better than that most eerily prescient of science-fiction prophets – H.G. Wells. In many ways, because he was speaking through the veneer of fiction Wells could allow himself to voice opinions which would have led even political radicals to blush. Also, because he was a “mere” fiction author his writings became one of the few ways intellectuals and politicians in liberal societies could daydream about a way out of capitalism’s constant crises, democracy’s fissiparousness and corruption, and most importantly for the survival of humanity in light of the nation-state’s increasingly destructive wars.


Well’s 1933 The Shape of Things to Come,

published not long after the Nazis had come to power in Germany, is perhaps his best example of a work that blurs the boundaries between a work of fiction and a piece of political analysis, polemic, and prediction. In the guise of a dream book of a character who has seen the future of the world from the 1930’s to the middle of the beginning of the 22nd century, Wells is able to expound upon the events of the day and their possible implications- over a century into the future.

Writing six years before the event takes place Well’s spookily imagines World War II beginning with the German invasion of Poland. Also identifying the other major aggressor in a world war still to come, Wells realizes Japan had stepped into a quagmire by invading China from which much ill would come.

These predictions of coming violence (Wells forecast the outbreak of the Second World War to be 1940- one year off) are even more chilling when one watches the movie based upon the book, and know that the bombings of cities it depicts is not some cinematographer’s fantasy, but will no doubt have killed some of those who watched the film in theaters in 1936- less than five years later.

Nevertheless, Wells gets a host of very important things, not only about the future but about his present, very wrong. He gets it ass backwards in generally admiring the Soviet Union and seeing its’ problem not being the inhuman treatment by the Communist regime of its citizens, but the fact that they have wed themselves to what Well’s believes is an antiquated, dogmatic theory in Marxism.

Indeed, Wells will build his own version of dictatorship in The Shape of Things to Come (though versions of it can be seen in his earlier work) using the ideas of two of Soviet communism’s founders- Trotsky’s idea of a global revolutionary movement which will establish a worldwide government and Lenin’s idea of an intellectual nucleus that will control all the aspects of society.

Nor, did Wells really grasp the nature of Nazism or the strange contradiction of a global alliance of fascist regimes that ostensibly worship the state. Wells saw Hitler as a throwback to a dying order based on the nation-state. His only modernity being

“…control by a self-appointed, self-disciplined élite was a distinct step towards our Modern State organization.” (192)

Wells therefore misses the savagery born of the competition between world shaping ideologies and their mobilization of entire societies that will constitute the Second World War and its aftermath.

Ironically, Wells mistakenly thinks WWII will be short and its fatalities low because he gets his technological predictions right. He clearly foresees the role of the importance of the tank, the airplane, and the submarine to the future war and because of them even anticipates the Nazi idea of blitzkrieg. At one point he seems to have a glimmer of the death spirit that will seize over humankind during the war when he compares the submarine to a sacrificial altar:

The Germans supplied most of the flesh for this particular altar; willing and disciplined, their youngsters saluted and carried their kit down the ladder into this gently swaying clumsy murder mechanism which was destined to become their coffin. (70)

Nevertheless, he fails to see that the Second World War will unleash the kinds of violence and fanaticism formerly only seen in religious wars.

Two decades after Wells’ novel many would think that because of the introduction of nuclear weapons wars would be reduced to minutes. Instead conflict became stretched out across multiple decades. What this is should teach us is that we have no idea how any particular technology will ultimately affect the character of war – especially in terms of its intensity or duration- thus those hoping that robotic or cyber weapons will return us to short decisive conflicts are likely seeing a recurrent mirage.

Wells perhaps better understood than other would be revolutionaries and prophets of the time just how robust existing societies were despite their obvious flaws. The kind of space for true political innovation had seemingly occurred only during times of acute stress, such as war, that by their nature were short lived. A whole new way of organizing society had seemingly revealed itself during World War I in which the whole industrial apparatus of the nation was mobilized and directed towards a particular end. Yet the old society would reassert itself except in those societies that had experienced either defeat and collapse or Pyrrhic victory (Italy, Japan) in the conflict.

Wells thus has to imagine further crises after economic depression and world war to permanently shatter Western societies that had become fossilized into their current form. The new kind of war had itself erased the boundary between the state and the society during war, and here Wells is perhaps prescient in seeing the link between mass mobilization, the kinds of wars against civilians seen in the Second World War and insurgency/terrorism. Yet he pictures the final hammer blow not in the form of such a distributed conflict but coming in the form of a global pandemic that kills half of the world’s people. After that comes the final death of the state and the reversion to feudalism.

It is from a world ruled by warlords that Wells’ imagined “Air Dictatorship” will emerge. It is essentially the establishment of global rule by a scientific technocracy that begins with the imposition of a monopoly over global trade networks and especially control over the air.

To contemporary ears the sections on the Air Dictatorship can be humorously reminiscent of an advertisement for FedEx or the US Navy. And then the humor passes when one recalls that a world dominated by one global straddling military and multinational corporations isn’t too far from the one Wells pictured even if he was more inspired by the role of the Catholic Church in the Dark Ages, the Hanseatic League or the what the damned Bolsheviks were up to in Russia.

Oddly enough, Wells foresaw no resistance to the establishment of a world-state (he called it The Modern State) from global capitalists, or communists or the remnant of the security services of the states that had collapsed. Instead, falling into a modernist bias that remains quite current, Wells sees the only rival to the “Modern State” in the form of the universal religions which the Air Dictatorship will therefore have to destroy. Wells’ utopians declare war on Catholics (Protestants oddly give no resistance) forcefully close Mecca and declare war on Kosher foods. And all this deconstruction to be followed by “re-education” Wells thinks could be done without the kinds of totalitarian nightmares and abuses which are less than two decades away from when he is writing The Shape of Things.

I am not particular fan of the universal confusion called post-modernism, but it does normally prevent most of us from making zingers like Wells’ such as this:

They are going to realize that there can be only one right way of looking at the world for a normal human being and only one conception of a proper scheme of social reactions, and that all others must be wrong and misleading and involve destructive distortions of conduct. (323)

Like any self-respecting version of apocalypse, Wells imagines that after a period of pain and violence the process will become self sustaining and neither will be required, though most honorably for the time Wells thinks this world will be one of racial equality that will never again suffer the plague of extreme want.

Analogous to the universal religions, after the establishment of the Modern State all of humankind will become party to ultimate mission of the scientific endeavor which the protagonist in the movie version sums up manically in this crazy speech at the end of the film:

For man, no rest, he must go on. First this little planet and its’ winds and ways, and then all of the laws of mind and matter that restrain him. Then the planets above and at last out across immensity to the stars. And when he conquers all the depths of space and all of time still he will not be finished.

All the universe or nothing! Which shall it be?

(As a side note Ken Stanley Robinson seems to think this modernist’s dream that the destiny of humanity is to settle the stars is still alive and kicking. In his newest novel he is out to kill it. Review pending. )

To return to our lack of imagination and direction after 2008: we, unlike Wells, know how his and similar modernist projects failed, and just how horribly they did so. Nevertheless, his diagnosis remains largely sound. It might take a crisis the scale none of us would wish for to engender real reform let alone the taking of radically new directions. Given historical experience such crises are much more likely to give rise to monsters than anything benign.

Anarchists seem to grasp the shape of the time but not its implications. In a globalized world power has slipped out of the grasp of democratic sovereignty and into the hands of networked organizations- from multinational corporations, to security services, to terrorists and criminal groups able to transcend these borders. Yet it is tightly organized “machine like” organizations rather than decentralized/anarchic ones that seem to thrive in this feudal environment, and whereas that very feudalism and its competition makes achieving a unified voice in addressing urgent global problems even more difficult, and where despite our current perceptions, war between the armed groups that represent states the gravest existential threat to humanity, we, unlike Wells, know that no one group of us has all the answers, and that it is not only inhumane but impossible to win human unity out of the barrel of a ray gun


Rick Searle, an Affiliate Scholar of the IEET, is a writer and educator living the very non-technological Amish country of central Pennsylvania along with his two young daughters. He is an adjunct professor of political science and history for Delaware Valley College and works for the PA Distance Learning Project.

The Dismemberment of Syria

Syria’s new diplomacy

jerusalem p

Iran and Saudi Arabia have put forward rival peace plans for Syria, but their aims are irreconcilable and no end to the conflict is in sight.

assadSyrian President Bashar Assad waves to supporters in Damascus. (photo credit:REUTERS)

As the civil war over the ruins of Syria grinds on into its sixth year, the fighting seems nowhere near an end.

Indeed, there is no longer a single war taking place in the country. Rather, as Syria physically divides into separate entities, so the conflict, too, further subdivides, spawning new conflicts.

There are today no less than five conflicts taking place within the borders of the country: the contests between the Sunni Arab rebels and the Assad regime/Hezbollah/Iran (the original war which brought about the others); the Kurdish YPG’s fight against Islamic State; intermittent clashes between the Sunni Arab rebels and Islamic State; Islamic State’s own war against the Assad regime; and now the renewed war between Turkey and the PKK, which is being played out partly on Syrian soil.

The presence of these five interlocking conflicts notwithstanding, efforts to make diplomatic progress toward some form of settlement, or at least freezing of the conflict, are under way.

Recent days have seen details emerge of two rival “peace plans” for Syria. One of these is sponsored by the Iranians, the main supporters of the Assad regime, the other is the handiwork of Saudi Arabia, which wants the removal of the regime and supports elements among the Sunni Arab rebellion against it.

Neither plan stands much chance of implementation. But the content of the plans and their very existence demonstrate that the Syrian situation is not static. They also indicate the extent to which the aims of the backers of the combatant sides are currently irreconcilable.

The Iranian proposal, according to a report in the Araby al-Jadid newspaper on Monday, constitutes a plan for the freezing of the conflict in place and the subsequent de facto partition of Syria. According to the newspaper, the plan is being promoted by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif during his current round of meetings with regional officials.

The plan proposes that each side would hold on to its current areas of control, except for the city of Aleppo, which would come under international supervision.

The regime and the rebels would then cooperate with the international coalition in the fight against Islamic State. Negotiations between the sides would continue, with the intention of forming a “national government, writing a new constitution and holding nationally monitored elections.”

The regime, according to the plan, would keep control of “Damascus, the Syrian-Lebanese border, Qalamoun, western Ghouta, Zabadani, Homs and the area to its west all the way to the Syrian coast, and Tartus Port.”

This is in essence the area controlled by the regime today. The apparent willingness of the regime’s backers to “settle” for this area rather than to continue to hold out for the eventual reconquest of the entire country (Syrian President Bashar Assad’s aim throughout the war) reflects the declining military fortunes of the Assad regime.

The regime now controls only just over 20 percent of the area of Syria.

In the north, it is reeling from the hammer blows inflicted by the Jaysh al-Fatah (Army of Conquest) rebel coalition.

This coalition includes some of the strongest Islamist rebel forces in Syria. Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian franchise of al-Qaida, is a component part of it, as is Ahrar al-Sham, the most powerful of the homegrown Salafi groups on the Syrian battlefield.

It is supported by Qatar, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The Saudi provision of US Tow antitank missiles, transported across the border from Turkey, is playing a telling role in the fighting, reducing the regime’s advantage in heavy weaponry.

As of now, Jaysh al-Fatah is attempting to destroy the final regime positions on the Al-Ghab plain. Loss of these positions raises the frightening prospect for the regime of the front line moving into the populated parts of Latakia province, the heartland of its support.

Already, the Alawi villages in Latakia are within range of the rebels’ missiles. Entry into Latakia would effectively end Assad’s hopes of preserving intact a safe area of the country for the members of his sect and other supporters of the regime.

Should the pivotal Joureen base in Ghab fall to the rebels, the regime would then face the possibility of its supply lines to the city of Hama further south being cut off.

The regime is therefore fighting desperately to hold its positions on the flat, barren Sahel al-Ghab. Hezbollah fighters are there, fighting alongside Shi’ite “volunteers” from as far afield as Afghanistan.

The motley collection of regime defenders in Ghab reflect the key difficulty which Assad has faced since the commencement of the war. The narrow base of support of his regime has meant that he has faced severe challenges in mustering sufficient manpower to defend the areas under his control.

The solution until now has been to reduce these areas. At a certain point, of course, the shrinking size of the regime’s domain raises the question of its continued viability.

This point may now be approaching.

The Saudis, however, have made clear that the current Iranian proposals are unacceptable. The sticking point, as Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir outlined in a statement this week, is that Riyadh wants Assad’s immediate departure from power rather than a continued role for him in any transitional phase.

“There is no place for Assad in the future of Syria,” Jubeir said, speaking in Moscow after meeting Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“Assad is part of the problem, not part of the solution.”

Saudi counterproposals, as reported in the Al-Hayat newspaper this week, envisage the immediate cessation of Iranian and other outside support for the regime and the departure of Hezbollah fighters from Syria, followed by new, UN-supervised presidential and parliamentary elections, after the stepping down of Assad.

The differences are familiar and not yet close to being bridged. The diplomacy, as ever, mirrors the military situation on the ground.

Assad’s fortunes have declined.

This is leading to reduced ambitions and consequently increased flexibility on the part of his backers.

But there are no signs yet that his allies are about to desert him, nor that their reduced demands are anywhere close to being acceptable to the forces behind the rebels. So the fight goes on.

More important, it should be remembered that the war between Assad and the Sunni rebels is now only one of the several conflict systems that have torn Syria apart. So even if Assad’s declining fortunes were to lead to his departing the scene, the war for Syria’s succession, and the suffering of its inhabitants, would almost certainly not be at an end.

Turkish Civil War?

[SEE:  “We Have A Civil War”: Inside Turkey’s Descent Into Political, Social, And Economic Chaos ]

Huge explosion as police safely detonate bomb-laden vehicle in eastern Turkey

todays zaman

Huge explosion as police safely detonate bomb-laden vehicle in eastern Turkey

Turkish police department safely detonated a bomb-laden vehicle parked along the Diyarbakır-Batman highway on Friday. (Photo: DHA)

TODAYSZAMAN.COM / ISTANBUL
Turkish bomb disposal experts were taken aback on Friday when the controlled explosion of a car bomb in the Kurdish-dominated southeast caused a massive blast that scattered debris and caused panic amongst bystanders.

After sealing off the area in the southeastern region of Batman, experts transported the abandoned car to an open space and set off a controlled detonation, the private Dogan news agency reported.

But the blast unleashed a huge ball of fire and smoke, with video footage by Dogan showing bystanders running in panic.

The powerful explosion shattered the windows of nearby buildings and one person was wounded by broken glass, Dogan said.

There was no immediate claim for who set the bomb but the incident comes amid a spate of daily attacks in Turkey carried out by the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

Police were alerted after a car rental company’s owner called to report a suspicious person who had hired a vehicle.

The suspect said he was renting the car to travel to Hasankeyf, a major historic site on the Tigris River now partially flooded by dam waters.

Police were still searching for the suspect.

Ankara is waging a two-pronged offensive to bomb Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and PKK rebels in northern Iraq and southeast Turkey following a series of deadly attacks.

So far, the operation has focused largely on the Kurdish rebels, who have responded by tearing up a 2013 ceasefire and waging a bloody campaign against the security forces.

Obama Now Erdogan’s “Bitch” Over ISIS/KURD Deception

“A Turkish officer entered the allied headquarters in the air war against ISIS and announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately,” the source said. “We were outraged.”

Senior US military official: Turkey ‘needed a hook’ and tricked us on ISIS

business insider

turkey pkkREUTERS/Umit BektasA woman after having her nails painted with the colors of the flag of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), during a gathering celebrating Newroz, which marks the arrival of spring and the new year, in the border town of Suruc, Sanliurfa province, on March 17.

A senior US official has accused Turkey of pulling a bait-and-switch by using a recent anti-Islamic State agreement with the US as a “hook” to attack the Kurdish PKK in northern Iraq, The Wall Street Journal reports.

“It’s clear that ISIL was a hook,” the senior military official told The Journal, referring to the Islamic State (aka ISIS, ISIL, or Daesh).

“Turkey wanted to move against the PKK, but it needed a hook.”

On Tuesday, an American military source told Fox News that US military leaders were “outraged” when Turkey began its bombing campaign, giving US special forces stationed in northern Iraq virtually no warning before Turkish jets started striking the mountains.

“A Turkish officer entered the allied headquarters in the air war against ISIS and announced that the strike would begin in 10 minutes and he needed all allied jets flying above Iraq to move south of Mosul immediately,” the source said. “We were outraged.”

The confrontation highlights the tension growing between the US and Turkey, which became a reluctant ally in the fight against ISIS after years of turning a blind eye to the militants’ illicit activity on its southern border during the Syrian civil war.

Ankara officially joined the coalition fight against ISIS on July 24, striking ISIS (and the PKK) on the same day. It also recently began allowing the US to use the Incirlik airbase in Turkey to carry out strikes against ISIS.

But Turkey has conducted 300 strikes against the PKK and three against ISIS since July 24, according to data compiled by IRIN news. All three ISIS strikes occurred on the first day of the campaign.

Nearly 400 Kurdish militants have been killed, IRIN reports, compared with nine ISIS militants.

When asked about Turkey’s commitment to fighting ISIS, a senior defense official said “there are still question marks out there. Our folks are very eager to put it to the test.”

And if Turkey keeps going after the PKK while trying not to provoke ISIS, “it will leave the US without a Syria strategy,” geopolitical expert Ian Bremmer told Business Insider by email.

“Access to Incirlik airbase matters, but the additional bombing it enables will only help contain ISIS, not roll it back,” Bremmer added. “And it will leave Washington without the improved relations with Ankara that the Obama administration is hoping for.”

ISIS map as of July 27 2015Reuters

The ongoing bombing campaign against PKK strongholds in northern Iraq came as a surprise, but it probably shouldn’t have: Turkey has long seen the PKK — a designated terrorist organization that waged a three-decade insurgency inside Turkey — as more of an existential threat than ISIS, which refrained from launching attacks inside Turkey even as its militants lived and operated along the border.

“The PKK is a bigger threat to us, as it is active within the country,” a Turkish official told The Wall Street Journal. “They stage attacks on our security forces on a daily basis, in many cities. ISIS is more active in Syria, and is therefore less urgent now.”

kurds kurdish populationREUTERS

Moreover, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s bombing campaign — capitalizing on the nationalist, anti-Kurd sentiment that has been steadily growing inside Turkey — could help him regain his AKP party’s absolute majority in parliament now that coalition talks have failed and snap elections are likely.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, also a member of the AKP, said on Thursday he would prefer an election to be held “as soon as possible”, Reuters reported.

“The AKP needed the Kurdish angle to sell the war to ultranationalists inside Turkey,” whose main priority is to curb Kurdish territorial gains along its southern border, Jonathan Schanzer, vice president for research at Foundation for Defense of Democracies, told Business Insider last month.

But Erdogan’s gamble has come at a price: Nearly 40 Turkish police officers and military officials have been attacked and killed by PKK militants since the war began, and that number is increasing every day.

turkeyREUTERS

Erdogan has also complicated his party’s relationship with Washington further: While the White House was relieved when Turkey announced it would allow the US to launch airstrikes against ISIS from Incirlik airbase in its southeast, the PKK is a politically contentious target.

The militia was working with US-backed Kurdish fighters to repel ISIS from northern Iraq and is also closely linked to the Kurdish YPG militia, which, backed by US airstrikes, has proved to be the most effective force fighting ISIS on the ground in northern Syria.

Now the US is reportedly embracing an all-out partnership with the YPG to make up for the failures of its $500 million Syrian train-and-equip program — a move that is sure to anger Ankara and inflame tensions even further.

“To fully embrace a Kurdish force would complicate an already fragile strategy, two [US] defense officials concluded,” Nancy Youseff of The Daily Beast reports.

“The Turks … would not welcome an emboldened Kurdish force on its southern border. Neither would many of America’s Arab allies, who are also threatened by Kurdish sovereignty movements.”

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