بنود الاتفاق بين وفد المصالحة والمجموعات المسلحة في وادي بردى

DAMASCUS:  You have all heard that the rodent infestation in the Baradaa Valley has ended triumphantly for the Syrian people.  Engineers are now working night and day to restore power to the pumps which deliver delicious, clean, cold water to the population of Damascus.   It is all over now for the rats who thought they could employ thirst in order to extort concessions from the government.  The rats were grasping at straws.  There would be concessions.  The army was ordered to eradicate the rats fully and finally.

On Friday night, the SAA had just completed the process of softening up terrorist positions and had entered the northern shoulder of the town.  All terrorist fortifications were destroyed leaving no barrier to the tank force assembling under the leadership of the 4th Mechanized Armored Division led by Maj. Gen. Maaher Al-Assad.  The rodents knew they would see no mercy.  Notables tried again and again to convince the simian trash to either surrender their positions to the SAA or face ineluctable death.  The rats could be heard arguing over what to do.  As a result, an agreement was reached by members of the Ahraar Al-Shaam gang of criminals who had defected to Nusra/Alqaeda and the Jihadist cannibals of the latter group.  1200 rodents decided to accept an offer of amnesty and join the PDC to fight all foreign supported savages in the Damascus area.  The agreement finally concluded between the parties consisted of these clauses:

1.  A cease fire will be observed in all areas of the Baradaa Valley with the SAA reserving the right to counter any violations with military might;

2.  The SAA would not be impeded in its entry into the ‘Ayn Al-Feeja to raise the flag of the republic over all buildings;

3.  Equipment and engineers would enter the ‘Ayn Al-Feeja pumping station after all IEDs and mines were dismantled;

4.  Amnesty would be granted to the 1200+ rodents who agreed to sign a covenant not to fight the government again and to join forces with the Popular Defense Committees in the war against terrorism.  Those who opted out of the agreement would be bused to Idlib where they could feed off one another;

5.  The area would be declared “safe and secure” and all terrorist groups would ensure that such a new classification would be upheld by all;

6.  The rodents would provide the army with charts disclosing the location of all IEDs and mines;


The mayor of Rural Damascus Province confirmed this agreement in his declaration.  Water is expected to start running normally by Monday, January 30, 2017.


The High Command of the Syrian Armed Forces confirmed the liberation of all these areas in the Baradaa River Valley:  Baseema, ‘Ayn Al-Khadhraa, Dayr Muqrin, ‘Ayn Al-Feeja, Dayr Qaanoon, Kafeer Al-Zayt, Al-Husayniyya, Kafr Al-‘Awaameed, Birhilyaa, Afra and Sooq Waadi Baradaa.  In all, 400 square kms were liberated from the stench and plague of British-and-Zionist-aided terrorism.



AL-KATEEBAT AL-THAALITHA AL-MAHJOORA:   It is called the “Third Abandoned Brigade”.  It is located north of the ‘Ulab Al-Tiyaas Hills near Palmyra.  I read a report today which indicated a large loss of rodent life among the ISIS excrement.

Also, heavy fighting reported as SAA and PDC pursued a grouping of ISIS cockroaches at the juncture of Homs and Damascus Provinces in the desert and, also, at the axis of Al-Naasiriyya-Al-Qaryatayn.



DAYR EL-ZOR:  The SAA and SAAF conducted joint operations over this area yesterday and today with ISIS losing rats and materiel necessitating resupply from northern Iraq.  SAAF is now flying drones to properly track the movement of trucks laden with Iraqi army weapons from Mosul – a task one would think would be a priority for the IA.

30+ ISIS rodents were killed in fighting over Al-Huwayqa, Huwayjat Sakr, ‘Ayyaash Warehouses, Al-Rushdiyya Quarter, Panorama, Al-Tharda Mountain, Airbase.  8 pickup trucks with 23mm cannons were reportedly counted among the destroyed vehicles belonging to ISIS.  Also, at Al-Kannamaat, the SAAF annihilated several warehouses loaded with weapons and ammo.  This took place also at the targeted areas of Al-‘Urdhi and Al-Muhandisseen Quarter.

At Muraatt Village and at the Conoco field in the desert near Khashshaam Village, the SAAF swooped down on gathering rats and delivered fire and brimstone.





Patrick Henningsen adds more to the MSC mess and propaganda with this one and it’s excellent:

Susan Dirgham sent us this article by email about the death of the mythology of a “moderate opposition”:

Dimitri Porfyris emailed this great article quoting the commander of SAA forces which liberated ‘Ayn Al-Feeja.  Enjoy the photos, too:





Saudi Arabia reportedly offering large bribes to Syrian MPs to oppose Assad – By SPUTNIK

© REUTERS/ Mukhtar Kholdorbekov

Saudi Arabia attempted to bribe parliamentarians in order to persuade them to oppose the Syrian government, an MP tells Sputnik.

Mohammed Kheir Jasim al-Nadir said that while some Syrian leaders have indeed taken bribes from Saudi Arabia and stayed in the country, he refused the offer and went to serve Syria instead.

“Saudi Arabia offered us money to break away from Assad and oppose the Syrian government. We were offered it (the bribe) at the house of the Syrian ambassador to Riyadh Mahdi Dakhlallah,” al-Nadir said.

“They tempted us with houses and money. They gave us a blank check which could be filled out with any sum, if we announced a U-turn. But, as they say, a person who is good does the right thing for their country, for their people. Nobody can be separated from their people, nobody can abandon their homeland. We are with Syria, with our land, with the valiant Syrian army.”

“Unfortunately, some Syrian leaders left for Saudi Arabia because of money. I had a Saudi passport, but I left everything and went to Syria,” al-Nadir said.

Earlier this week representatives of the Syrian government and opposition factions meet in Astana for talks brokered by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran, following a ceasefire in the crisis-torn country endorsed by the UN Security Council on December 31, 2016.

As the talks ended on Tuesday, Syrian government and opposition representatives signed a declaration on a ceasefire monitoring mechanism to uphold the nationwide ceasefire agreement.

Russia, Iran and Turkey also decided to establish a trilateral mechanism to monitor the ceasefire in Syria as result of the Astana talks, which are to be followed by a UN-mediated meeting in Geneva expected to take place on February 8.

Comment: What a surprise!





Al-Rasheeda Village:  Spotters delivered coordinates to the SAA’s vaunted artillery corps who took action immediately to pulverize ISIS groupings around 4 tanker trucks hauling oil and gas to other terrorist gangs for use in their vehicles of death.  4 tanker trucks arriving from Homs Province were struck dead on by lethal mortar, Howitzer and rocket fire killing a confirmed 16 ISIS rats and destroying all the trucks and their payloads.  This area is 38 kms east of the capital of Suwaydaa` City.  Many ISIS vermin were seen leaving the area driving banshee-like into the open desert.  SAAF helicopters continued to follow them.  No details are available.


Al-Qassr Village:  Yesterday, northeast of Suwaydaa`, the SAA nearly surrounded a nest of ISIS maggots and forced them to flee leaving whole boxes of ammunition and light weapons which will be distributed to our militias in order to kill Wahhabists.




The Arabian lie machines of Al-Jazeera, Al-‘Arabiyya and other repugnant sources of disinformation claimed falsely that the ISIS terrorists had managed to retake Khanaasser Town and, thus, block the movement of vehicles to and from Aleppo City.  As I wrote, it is completely and utterly false.  Traffic is moving very normally according to all reliable sources in Aleppo.




Kassaaraat Al-Manqoora:  In the East Qalamoon area, the SAA wiped out fortifications built by the ISIS rodents managing, in the process, to target a pickup with 23mm cannon aboard, killing 2 occupants.  Also, the army confirmed the destruction of a heavy bus used to transport the filth.


Qarn Al-Kabsh:  (Ram’s Horn) 14 IEDs dismantled after the SAA captured several Nusra/Alqaeda rodents who confessed very quickly to the locations of the bombs.


Al-Naassiriya-Palmyra Road:  Way to the farthest reaches of Damascus Governorate, the SAA engineers found 3 IEDs and dismantled them.


West Qalamoon:  A perfectly executed ambush caught a pack of ISIS rodents unawares killing 5 of them.  The rest escaped leaving weapons and ammunition.


Khaan Al-Manqoora-Palmyra Triangle Road:  ISIS took a big hit here losing 17 rodents and 2 pickups with 23mm cannons.




Image result for tulsi gabbardWhen Tulsi Gabbard finally admitted that she met Dr. Bashar Al-Assad in Damascus, we were free to discuss what we knew about her trip.  At first, we respected her deliberate efforts to obscure the fact that she met with the Prez.  But, she also met with President-elect Trump who told her that he wanted her to deliver a message.  The first message was that Dr. Assad had nothing to fear from the United States.  The U.S. will not truck with any party out to change governments.  This is why Boris Johnson, the U.K.’s foreign minister, has just declared that the U.K. had no objections to Dr. Assad running again for the office of the president.  Leave aside the fact that we don’t care about the opinions of some limey aristocrat or elitist, we do care about the U.K.’s constant violations of international law by its facilitating terrorism.  In any case, Donald Trump has delivered his message successfully to Dr. Assad.

The second message has to do with Trump’s willingness to help the Syrian government to control the out-flux of refugees by establishing a “safe zone” for Syrians in areas controlled by either the Syrian Army or the Russian Air Force.  I have been informed that Dr. Assad has accepted this kind of benign interference as long as it was coordinated with the Syrian government.

The third message she carried to Dr. Assad was that the U.S. is intent upon wiping out every vestige of ISIS and Alqaeda, and, that it would do so in coordination with Russia and the Syrian government.

The Zionist Khazars, whose DNA is inevitably Ukrainian, Polish, German or Russian, have gone berserk over this issue. While never condemning John McCain – the drunken mass-murdering pilot who killed Vietnamese civilians in the thousands – for his trespass on Syrian soil without so much as a visa – Tulsi Gabbard took the trouble to secure Syrian permission to enter the SAR and, thus, entered legally and properly.  Only Zionist child molesters and drug addicts attack a woman so courageous and, yet, so punctilious in the way she conducts her affairs.

With Marine LePen slated to trounce the cowardly vipers of Paris in the next elections, expect a great year for Syria and its people.  Expect that kraut schlampe, Merkel, to go down the sewer straight into the cesspool of history this time around.



Diana Barahona sent me this shockeroo about Trump calling Dr. Assad brave in a conversation with President Sisi:

“Presidential sources in Cairo have said that U.S. President Trump, when he phoned Egyptian President Sisi, told him that he supported the fight against terrorism, and that the United States will fight terrorism in the Middle East. Washington will also carry out military operations against terrorism in Iraq and Syria in coordination with Russia. He supports the congressional decision that the Muslim Brotherhood is a terrorist organization.

When the two leaders spoke about the situation in Iraq, Trump said that the United States will support the Iraqi army with aerial bombing and warplanes to end terrorism in Iraq.

As for Syria, the president told President Sisi: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a brave man who stood firm in the face of terrorism, but the circumstances do not allow me access to him.

Trump added: I’ll be in touch with Russian President Vladimir Putin together to coordinate military action in Syria against terrorism and terrorists and the Daesh organization.

Egyptian presidential sources concluded that President Trump told President Sisi that Assad was brave, because Sisi conveyed the words of the American president in a message to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.”

And from Dimitri Porfyris this article in French:

And from Afraa Dagher the reason why the USA is helping ISIS to take Dayr El-Zor.  However, Donald Trump has put an end to that:

Waf sends this article and video showing our army ambushing and killing 10 ISIS rodents in DZ at the Panorama Axis:

Patrick Henningsen sends more to us about the disgraced MSM:

Want to know more about Tusa Gabbard’s trip to Syria?  (Thanks, Patrick Henningsen)

You’re going to love this article from Syrianews about illegal terrorist aliens and even mentions McCain:

Brandon attacks Trump’s “safe zone” policy in Syria and analyzes it.  I think we will deal with this subject soon in a post by Ziad. Not to worry. It’ Trump now:




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From Maverick To Lapdog: Trump Is Already Serving The Agenda Of America’s Oligarchs – By Whitney Webb

He campaigned on promises to ‘drain the swamp’ and radically alter the United States’ course in the world, but not even a week has passed and President Donald Trump has already made it clear that he’ll be following a very familiar agenda.

President-elect Donald Trump waves to supporters during a rally in Grand Rapids, Mich., Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

WASHINGTON — On the campaign trail, Donald Trump successfully wooed many Americans desperate for an end to Obama’s brand of neoliberalism. However, his nationalist “maverick” persona has quickly unraveled as his allegiance to the country’s real decision makers has become more evident with each passing day of his young presidency.

Within his first week, Trump has announced plans to build a missile defense system to guard against attacks from Iran and North Korea and entered into the early stages of moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to East Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. He’s made clear departures from his promises of anti-interventionism and neutrality in the Israel/Palestine conflict, among other things.

Despite some positive moves, like calling for peace with Russia and removing the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a deeper look at Trump’s policies reveals a continuation of policies that suit the political elite.

While Trump’s about-face on some issues may come as a disappointment to his supporters, it is not altogether surprising given that the vast majority of past U.S. presidents have conformed to the same general strategy of ensuring the continuity of American imperialism regardless of political party affiliation or campaign trail promises. The most recent example of such a drastic turnaround was Barack Obama’s rejection of his own campaign rhetoric: His promises to bring change and reform to Washington ultimately fell flat as he expanded the drone war, brought catastrophe to the Middle East, and launched a chilling crackdown on whistleblowers and journalists.

This uniform, over-arching agenda is and has been set by the same handful of powerful American oligarchs who rose to unprecedented prominence on the heels of industrialization. Many of these titans of industry and their descendents went on to establish influential foundations and organizations that continue to guide U.S. political consensus. Their hold over not just U.S. politics, but global politics, grew following the formation of oligarch-owned central banks and private international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.

While these institutions claim to work for the benefit of all humanity, their actions are directed by a handful of “economic and political heavyweights” who use loans, debt, and other financial tools to force the hands of governments throughout the world. As the chief vehicle for manifesting this imperialist agenda, the United States is no exception. Indeed, private banking interests have had a stranglehold on the American economy since the formation of the Federal Reserve in the early 20th century.

It should come as no surprise that Trump has surrounded himself with Bush-era neoconservatives, including several architects of the Iraq War and signatories of the highly imperialist and pro-war Project for a New American Century. These individuals, John Bolton, Bill Bennett, and James Woolsey among them, consistently proved their dedication to the advancement of U.S. corporate and “deep state” interests during the Bush years. Far from “draining the swamp,” Trump’s actually filling it with an administration that promises to allow the nation’s wealthiest inhabitants to continue to dominate political decision-making.


Allegiance to Washington insiders and elite

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives at the residence of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Wednesday, May 18, 2016, in New York. (AP/Mary Altaffer)

But for those who have been paying attention, Trump’s allegiance to Washington insiders and the elite has been evident for some time.

Trump’s shift from populist to globalist was heralded by his numerous meetings with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, a war criminal responsible for illegal bombings in Cambodia, a bloody coup in Chile, and the expansion of the Vietnam War. It was Kissinger, in fact, who set the precedent for U.S. foreign policy founded on perpetual war.

In a November interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakaria, Kissinger defended Trump. He urged that “one should not insist on nailing [Trump] into positions he had taken in the campaign” as Trump is undergoing “the transition from being a campaigner to being a national strategist.”

Also indicative of Trump’s true allegiances are the shifting attitudes of pro-Clinton oligarchs and power brokers who are now glowing about the dawning of the Trump era.

Larry Summers, secretary of the Treasury under Clinton and loyal servant to international banking interests, told Bloomberg News on Jan. 20 that he has been “very troubled by the attitude of business people from the U.S.”

“People who were terribly afraid of what [a Trump presidency] would mean for America’s place in the world are now hailing those who surround Donald Trump as great geniuses,” Summers said.

It seems much of that fear was assuaged by Trump’s numerous “flip-flops” on key issues following his election in November.

While many Trump supporters continue to insist that the president has maintained his independence, as evidenced by his attempts to restore diplomatic relations with Russia, for example, much of his action so far ultimately serves the agenda of the American ruling class. This agenda, which aims to ensure the continuation of American hegemony and military superiority, is too important to the global elite to let any one man — president or otherwise — stand in its way.


Trump: President of the Zionist States of America

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the 2016 American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference at the Verizon Center, on Monday, March 21, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Former Vice President Joe Biden once said, “You don’t have to be a Jew to be a Zionist. The embrace of Zionism, a belief in the establishment of a Jewish-majority nation in the Biblical “Holy Land,” is a common bond not just among U.S. presidents, but among the nation’s entire political establishment, transcending party affiliation. This explains why U.S. politicians often ignore Israel’s egregious war crimes, illegal activities, and apartheid regime despite the United States’ purported interest in spreading “democracy” and protecting human rights.

The practically unbridled power of the Zionist Israel lobby has ensured the prominence of Zionism in the U.S. political landscape, thanks to its potent influence and near-limitless financial support from many American oligarchs, many of whom are themselves Zionists. The organizations that comprise this lobby, the most well-known of which are the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, or AIPAC, and the JStreet PAC, contribute millions of dollars to politicians annually. JStreet alone contributed $3.4 million to U.S. politicians between 2015 and 2016. Sheldon Adelson, a casino magnate, avowed Zionist, and political mega-donor, contributed more than $92.8 million to conservative politicians during the 2012 election cycle and, together with his wife Miriam, $77.7 million in the 2016 cycle.

Largely for that reason, U.S. presidents have nearly always prioritized Israel’s concerns, which partly explains why Israel continues to receive unparalleled amounts of U.S. military aid — subsidized by U.S. taxpayers — that funds much of its domestic activities and regional war machine.

To the outside observer, Trump’s campaign promises to “Make America Great Again” and “Put America First” seem in clear conflict with the established U.S.-Israel relationship. Indeed, on the campaign trail, Trump shied away from this position, promising to be the “neutral guy” regarding Israel’s continuing occupation of Palestine. A handful of disagreements with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the condemnation he received from American Jewish groups over his ties to Steve Bannon, created the perception among many American voters that this would be the case.

A sign hangs on a building under construction in Jerusalem congratulating U.S. President Donald Trump, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. Trump has vowed to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. (AP/Ariel Schalit)

However, Trump’s transition from campaign trail persona to commander-in-chief has indeed shown him to be a staunch supporter of Zionist causes. The shift from promised neutrality to Israel’s “true friend in the White House” has been marked most notably by Trump’s announcement of his plans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, an extreme stance that Trump senior aide Kellyanne Conway insisted was “a big priority” for Trump.

In addition, Trump’s support for Israel’s encroachment of Palestinian lands could bring about the end of the feasibility of the “two-state” solution as right-wing Israeli politicians, particularly those of the Jewish Home party, are already seeking to annex more illegal settlements thanks to Trump’s position on the internationally contentious issues.

Even more troublesome than Trump’s support for Israel’s crimes would be his support for Israel’s long-standing geopolitical goals in the region. If Trump follows the agenda set out for him, it could plunge the world into chaos.

Robbie Martin, a journalist and director of “A Very Heavy Agenda,” a documentary series which explores how neoconservatives tied to the banking and military industries influence the media establishment and political landscape, told MintPress News that “Trump’s recent embrace of Zionism is opportunistic.”

“It speaks to the strong influence of neoconservatives in the Trump administration,” Martin continued.

These same neoconservatives, following the lead of the oligarchs who exert undue influence on U.S. and Israeli affairs, have already pushed Trump and key members of his Cabinet to embrace what Netanyahu has designated the “supreme goal” of the state of Israel: the containment of Iran.


‘Inevitable’ war with Iran & North Korea

President-elect Donald Trump, center, listens to a member of the military in the stands as he watches an Army-Navy NCAA college football game at M&T Bank Stadium, Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, in Baltimore. (AP/Andrew Harnik)

Trump, who on the campaign trail painted himself as an anti-interventionist, has recently emerged as strongly hostile toward Iran, continuing the decades-long U.S. policy of isolating the Islamic Republic. Just minutes after his inauguration, the Trump administration announced that it would be developing a state-of-the-art missile defense system to protect Americans from Iran and North Korea.

Leaders of the Gulf monarchies are also “optimistic” that Trump will confront Iran, with some even going as far as to hail Trump as “another Ronald Reagan.” During his first weekend as president, Netanyahu spoke with Trump, focusing mainly on Iran — likely to gauge Trump’s commitment to Israel’s “supreme goal” of stopping the Iranian “threat” despite Israel having an untold number of nuclear warheads at its disposal.

For much of the past few decades, U.S. antagonism against Iran has been a driving force in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Since Iran’s 1979 revolution which ousted the U.S.-installed dictator the Shah of Iran, Iranian politics has been bolstered by the belief that third-world dependence on the West was an intrinsic result of neocolonialism and monopoly capitalism, with the only remedy being “working class internationalism.”

In the process, Iran staunchly spoke out against the new colonialist project in the Middle East: the creation of Israel, its military occupation of historic Palestine, and Western meddling in Iranian politics and industry.

Despite these historical tensions, U.S. and Israeli politicians alike have often expressed their disdain for Iran as born out of concern for the threat of nuclear disaster that presents to Israel, despite the fact that the CIA and Israel’s Mossad have stated that Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapons program nor has it ever been interested in one.

Though it often goes overlooked, one of the main reasons behind the hostility toward Iran is the independence of Iran’s central bank. Iran is one of the few nations that are not totally beholden to the global oligarchical interests tied to the global banking establishment which constitutes the U.S. empire.

Even more telling is Trump’s stated belief that “we’ll end up going to war with Iran.” In a 2013 interview with Fox Business, Trump said the inevitability of an armed conflict was due to the weak negotiation skills of the Obama administration — the administration which would go on to seal the controversial Iran nuclear deal in 2015.

Although Trump’s presidency remains in its infancy, his posturing thus far reveals the significant oligarchical influence on his developing stance on Iran, a nation that doesn’t have nuclear weapons and has never threatened to attack the United States or Israel.


The illusion of Trump’s independence

A couple kisses in front of graffiti depicting Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, on the walls of a bar in the old town in Vilnius, Lithuania, Saturday, May 14, 2016. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis)

Diplomatic relations with Russia plunged to new lows under Obama, and Trump’s work to mend those ties drew supporters across the nation who were weary of Obama’s wars.

From his nomination of Rex Tillerson as secretary of state to his stated goal of working together with Russia in Syria to eviscerate Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist organization known as ISIS or ISIL in the West), all indications seem to suggest that Trump is genuine in his desire to resolve the tensions that nearly escalated into an armed conflict between the two military powers.

Yet, upon further examination, this too falls in line with the predominating geopolitical strategy of American oligarchs. As journalist Pepe Escobar pointed out in a Jan. 19 piece for The Saker, the ultimate goal of this maneuvering is to “seduce Russia away from its strategic partnership with China, while keep harassing the weakest link, Iran.”

Daniel McAdams, director of the Ron Paul Institute for Peace and foreign policy expert on U.S. empire, echoed Escobar’s analysis in an interview with MintPress, saying that “Trump’s tilt towards Russia is a classic ‘grand strategy’ type of move to attempt to peel Russia away from China” — a textbook case of the divide and conquer strategy.

The U.S. Embassy building is reflected in a window of a Russian military outerwear shop "Armia Rossii" (Russian Army) displaying a poster of Donald Trump, in downtown Moscow, Russia, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, hours ahead of Donald Trump being sworn in as president of the United States, The poster reads: "10 percent discount to the embassy employees and US citizens on the Inauguration Day". (AP/Pavel Golovkin)

Indeed, the intelligence community, Congress, and the mainstream media continue to play “bad cop” on the Russians, vilifying Moscow at every turn in order to manipulate them into cooperating with Trump, who plays the role of the “good cop.” Of course, the added bonus of this is that Trump gets to look like a great negotiator, diplomat, and an anti-interventionist of sorts while still allowing him to advance neoconservative goals of containing the threat to American hegemony presented by a China-Russia-Iran alliance.

However, as McAdams noted, it remains to be seen if Russia will ultimately fall for the ruse. That, he said, “depends on how the Russians can balance their desire for improved U.S. relations with a sober look at their long-term regional interests and the veracity of U.S. promises.”

Other commonly cited evidence of Trump’s “independence” from globalist plans has been his efforts to bring U.S. jobs back from overseas. Recently, Ford Motor Co. canceled a planned $1.6 billion factory in Mexico, choosing instead to expand an existing plant in Michigan in what was widely viewed as a capitulation to Trump. In addition, Trump’s removal of the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership and his promise to re-negotiate NAFTA have often been taken as proof that he is indeed putting America first.

However, an anonymous but high-ranking source told Escobar that U.S. oligarchs need jobs to return to the United States from Mexico and Asia chiefly because the shift of labor overseas is a major reason why the United States has “lost control of the seas and cannot secure its military components during a major war.” Essentially, the same financial elite who grew wealthy as a result of the initial labor transfer also stand to gain financially from shifting jobs back to the United States as part of a strategic decision to mitigate the strength of China and its regional allies.


Serving the establishment, not the people

President Donald Trump talks with reporters n the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2017, before signing an executive order on the Keystone XL pipeline. (AP/Evan Vucci)

Many Trump supporters fell for the same promises of “Hope” and “Change” that got Obama elected in 2008. While Trump has a unique persona that sets him apart from prior presidents, his actions so far indicate that he is willfully following a path laid out for him by the nation’s wealthiest inhabitants.

Like Obama, Trump won the presidency through attempts to paint himself as a maverick, an outsider. The widespread condemnations of Trump from the U.S. political establishment and the mainstream media were strategic, granting Trump the ability to appear anti-establishment even when he advances the goals of the establishment.

“This strategic antagonism has given Trump the ability to use the press and U.S. political elite as a foil. This allows him to negate his critics in a way unimaginable in previous administrations,” Robbie Martin warned.

This unconventional setup is just the latest iteration of the public cover needed for a U.S. president to advance the agenda of American oligarchs while convincing his supporters and large swaths of the American public that he’s really working for them.



Settler leaders find warm welcome in Trump’s Washington – By Michael F. Brown

Billionaire settlement financier Sheldon Adelson, far left, applauds as Donald Trump arrives for his swearing in as president of the United States at the US Capitol, on 20 January.

Aude Guerrucci Polaris

US President Donald Trump made clear at his poorly attended inauguration that despite his tough law-and-order message some forms of law-breaking will be rewarded during his administration.

Among those invited to watch the reality TV star take the oath of office in Washington on Friday were Oded Revivi, chair of the Yesha Council – the body that represents Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank – and Benny Kasriel, mayor of the mega-settlement Maaleh Adumim.

Also reportedly joining the delegation was Yossi Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council. Yehuda Glick, a lawmaker from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud, who is part of the movement to build a Jewish temple in place of Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque, attended inauguration events through a separate invitation.

Revivi told VICE News that his invitation came from “close circles around the president-elect.”

On landing in the Washington, DC, area, Revivi tweeted an unexpected meeting with Representative Trent Franks, a member of Congress from Arizona.

He also thrilled to the fact that Israeli settler groups are now getting “the VIP treatment.”

“You could basically argue that it has taken 50 years, since 1967, to be recognized on such a level for such an event,” Revivi enthused.

Billionaire funder

The invitations normalize settlement activity from day one of the Trump administration.

Settlements are illegal according to international law, a fact reaffirmed last month in UN Security Council resolution 2334, to the dismay of most members of the US Congress.

Republicans overwhelmingly rejected the resolution as did most Democrats – the Trump-Netanyahu wing of the “resistance” party.

Seated immediately behind Trump during his inauguration speech was Miriam Adelson. She and her husband, Sheldon, also present on the dais, are billionaire funders of the Republican Party.

Sheldon Adelson is among a number of individuals and entities currently being sued by a group of Palestinians and Palestinian Americans for financing settlements, and other alleged violations of US and international law ranging from money laundering to ethnic cleansing and genocide.

The Adelsons were among a handful of billionaire Trump donors rewarded with VIP seating at the inauguration.

“King of United States”

According to VICE News, Likud lawmaker and West Bank settler Yehuda Glick was part of a group whose trip was financed by HaYovel, a Missouri-based Christian evangelical organization that purportedly helps Christian volunteers travel to Israel to assist farmers.

In fact, many of the projects the group touts are based in settlements in the occupied West Bank – referred to by HaYovel as “Judea and Samaria.”

Tommy Waller, who heads HaYovel, claimed to VICE News that Trump’s transition team was aware of the settler presence and “they’re very happy about it.”

HaYovel has promoted the work of Luke Hilton, the producer of a short video which calls the Palestinian-led boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement “anti-God.”

One character in the film, conflating God with modern-day Israel and its human rights abuses, asserts: “If you really want to boycott Israel, then getting rid of your Bible and rejecting God would be a great place to start.”

These relationships highlight the close ties between the settler movement and far-right Christian Zionists in the US.

Speaking at a Washington church along with fellow Israeli lawmaker Sharren Haskel, on Thursday, Glick proclaimed Trump “king of the United States of America.”

While in the US, Glick promoted his activities to gain a foothold at the al-Aqsa mosque compound, which Jews call the Temple Mount.

An assassination attempt against Glick in 2014 is thought to have been tied to his efforts to build a Jewish temple where the Muslim holy places, including the al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock, now stand.

On Thursday, the pair was hosted at a US Congressional office building by a pro-Israel group funded by the Adelsons.

“The appearance of Israeli parliamentarian Yehuda Glick, one of the most prominent leaders of the messianic, fundamentalist Jewish movement to replace the Dome of the Rock with a Jewish temple, at a recent Capitol Hill briefing is deeply disturbing,” Josh Ruebner, policy director of the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights, told The Electronic Intifada.

Ruebner noted that the briefing could only have taken place with approval from at least one member of Congress. “It is shocking to realize that his extremist positions have the support of any of our elected representatives,” Ruebner said.

Glick is also a supporter of ethnically cleansing Palestinians.

According to the Forward, he supports paying Palestinians to emigrate permanently from their homeland.

Glick believes that Israel should formally annex the West Bank – a prospect more plausible today thanks to decades of unconditional support for Israel as it colonized the occupied territory, from both Democratic and Republican administrations.




Get Ready for the First Shocks of Trump’s Disaster Capitalism – By Naomi Klein



We already know that the Trump administration plans to deregulate markets, wage all-out war on “radical Islamic terrorism,” trash climate science and unleash a fossil-fuel frenzy. It’s a vision that can be counted on to generate a tsunami of crises and shocks: economic shocks, as market bubbles burst; security shocks, as blowback from foreign belligerence comes home; weather shocks, as our climate is further destabilized; and industrial shocks, as oil pipelines spill and rigs collapse, which they tend to do, especially when enjoying light-touch regulation.

All this is dangerous enough. What’s even worse is the way the Trump administration can be counted on to exploit these shocks politically and economically.

Naomi Klein explains how the Trump administration might take advantage of coming crises to Jeremy Scahill at the Women’s March, Jan. 21, 2017.

Speculation is unnecessary. All that’s required is a little knowledge of recent history. Ten years ago, I published “The Shock Doctrine,” a history of the ways in which crises have been systematically exploited over the last half century to further a radical pro-corporate agenda. The book begins and ends with the response to Hurricane Katrina, because it stands as such a harrowing blueprint for disaster capitalism.

That’s relevant because of the central, if little-recalled, role played by the man who is now the U.S. vice president, Mike Pence. At the time Katrina hit New Orleans, Pence was chairman of the powerful and highly ideological Republican Study Committee (RSC). On September 13, 2005 — just 14 days after the levees were breached and with parts of New Orleans still under water — the RSC convened a fateful meeting at the offices of the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Under Pence’s leadership, the group came up with a list of “Pro-Free-Market Ideas for Responding to Hurricane Katrina and High Gas Prices” — 32 policies in all, each one straight out of the disaster capitalism playbook.

Vehicles form a line at an Exxon gas station off of Interstate 55 in Jackson, Miss., Tuesday, Aug. 30, 2005. The station was one of the few in the city with both power and gas one day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall. (AP Photo/The Calrion Ledger, Rick Guy)

Vehicles form a line at an Exxon gas station off of Interstate 55 in Jackson, Miss., Aug. 30, 2005. The station was one of the few in the city with both power and gas one day after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.

Photo: Rick Guy/The Calrion Ledger/AP

To get a sense of how the Trump administration will respond to their first crises, it’s worth reading the list in full (and noting Pence’s name right at the bottom).

What stands out in the package of pseudo “relief” policies is the commitment to wage all-out war on labor standards and on the public sphere — which is ironic because the failure of public infrastructure is what turned Katrina into a human catastrophe. Also notable is the determination to use any opportunity to strengthen the hand of the oil and gas industry.

The first three items on the RSC list are “automatically suspend Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws in disaster areas,” a reference to the law that required federal contractors to pay a living wage; “make the entire affected area a flat-tax free-enterprise zone”; and “make the entire region an economic competitiveness zone (comprehensive tax incentives and waiving of regulations).”

Another demand called for giving parents vouchers to use at charter schools, a move perfectly in line with the vision held by Trump’s pick for education secretary, Betsy DeVos.

All these measures were announced by President George W. Bush within the week. Under pressure, Bush was eventually forced to reinstate the labor standards, though they were largely ignored by contractors. There is every reason to believe this will be the model for the multi-billion-dollar infrastructure investments Trump is using to court the labor movement. Repealing Davis-Bacon for those projects was reportedly already floated at Monday’s meeting with leaders of construction and building trade unions.

Back in 2005, the Republican Study Committee meeting produced more ideas that gained presidential support. Climate scientists have directly linked the increased intensity of hurricanes to warming ocean temperatures. This connection, however, didn’t stop Pence and the RSC from calling on Congress to repeal environmental regulations on the Gulf Coast, give permission for new oil refineries in the United States, and to green-light “drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.”

All these measures are a surefire way to drive up greenhouse gas emissions, the major human contributor to climate change, yet they were immediately championed by the president under the guise of responding to a devastating storm.

The oil industry wasn’t the only one to profit from Hurricane Katrina, of course. So did a slew of well-connected contractors, who turned the Gulf Coast into a laboratory for privatized disaster response.

The companies that snatched up the biggest contracts were the familiar gang from the invasion of Iraq: Halliburton’s KBR unit won a $60 million gig to reconstruct military bases along the coast. Blackwater was hired to protect FEMA employees from looters. Parsons, infamous for its sloppy Iraq work, was brought in for a major bridge construction project in Mississippi. Fluor, Shaw, Bechtel, CH2M Hill — all top contractors in Iraq — were hired by the government to provide mobile homes to evacuees just ten days after the levees broke. Their contracts ended up totaling $3.4 billion, no open bidding required.

And no opportunity for profit was left untapped. Kenyon, a division of the mega funeral conglomerate Service Corporation International (a major Bush campaign donor), was hired to retrieve the dead from homes and streets. The work was extraordinarily slow, and bodies were left in the broiling sun for days. Emergency workers and local volunteer morticians were forbidden to step in to help because handling the bodies impinged on Kenyon’s commercial territory.

And as with so many of Trump’s decisions so far, relevant experience often appeared to have nothing to do with how contracts were allocated. AshBritt, a company paid half a billion dollars to remove debris, reportedly didn’t own a single dump truck and farmed out the entire job to contractors.


NEW ORLEANS - AUGUST 31:  People wait for assistance after being rescued from their homes a day earlier in the Ninth Ward as a small fire burns after Hurricane Katrina August 31, 2005 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Devastation is widespread throughout the city with water approximately 12 feet high in some areas. Hundreds are feared dead and thousands were left homeless in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida by the storm.  (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

People wait for assistance after being rescued from their homes a day earlier in the Ninth Ward as a small fire burns after Hurricane Katrina Aug. 31, 2005 in New Orleans.

Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

Even more striking was the company that FEMA paid $5.2 million to perform the crucial role of building a base camp for emergency workers in St. Bernard Parish, a suburb of New Orleans. The camp construction fell behind schedule and was never completed. When the contractor was investigated, it emerged that the company, Lighthouse Disaster Relief, was actually a religious group. “About the closest thing I have done to this is just organize a youth camp with my church,” confessed Lighthouse’s director, Pastor Gary Heldreth.

After all the layers of subcontractors had taken their cut, there was next to nothing left for the people doing the work. For instance, the author Mike Davis tracked the way FEMA paid Shaw $175 a square foot to install blue tarps on damaged roofs, even though the tarps themselves were provided by the government. Once all the subcontractors took their share, the workers who actually hammered in the tarps were paid as little as $2 a square foot. “Every level of the contracting food chain, in other words, is grotesquely overfed except the bottom rung,” Davis wrote, “where the actual work is carried out.”

In Mississippi, a class-action lawsuit forced several companies to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in back wages to immigrant workers. Some were not paid at all. On one Halliburton/KBR job site, undocumented immigrant workers reported being wakened in the middle of the night by their employer (a sub-subcontractor), who allegedly told them that immigration agents were on their way. Most workers fled to avoid arrest.

This corruption and abuse is particularly relevant because of Trump’s stated plan to contract out much of his infrastructure spending to private players in so-called public-private partnerships.

In the Katrina aftermath, the attacks on vulnerable people, carried out in the name of reconstruction and relief, did not stop there. In order to offset the tens of billions going to private companies in contracts and tax breaks, in November 2005 the Republican-controlled Congress announced that it needed to cut $40 billion from the federal budget. Among the programs that were slashed were student loans, Medicaid and food stamps. In other words, the poorest people in the United States subsidized the contractor bonanza twice: First, when Katrina relief morphed into unregulated corporate handouts, providing neither decent jobs nor functional public services; and, second, when the few programs that directly assist the unemployed and working poor nationwide were gutted to pay those bloated bills.

Jenny Bullard carries a pair of boots from her home that was damaged by a tornado, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Adel, Ga. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal declared a state of emergency in several counties, including Cook, that have suffered deaths, injuries and severe damage from weekend storms. (AP Photo/Branden Camp)

Jenny Bullard carries a pair of boots from her home that was damaged by a tornado, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Adel, Ga.

Photo: Branden Camp/AP

This is the disaster capitalism blueprint, and it aligns with Trump’s own track record as a businessman all too well.

Trump and Pence come to power at a time when these kinds of disasters, like the lethal tornadoes that just struck the Southeastern United States, are coming fast and furious. Trump has already declared the U.S. a rolling disaster zone. And the shocks will keep getting bigger, thanks to the reckless policies that have already been promised.

What Katrina tells us is that this administration will attempt to exploit each disaster for maximum gain. We’d better get ready.


Portions of this article were adapted from The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism.

Top photo: In this 2005 photograph, a man watches a house burn on Napoleon St. as helicopters try to extinguish the fire in Hurricane Katrina-ravaged New Orleans.

Contact the author:

Naomi Klein@NaomiAKlein






el valle del río Barada

Baradaa River Valley where all the water is.  (Thanks, Silvia)

Ayn Al-Feeja:  With 5.5 million citizens crying for water, you would think there would be anger against the Syrian government.  Not so, says Monzer, who lives in Damascus.  He writes to me about how the hatred is not directed at the government, but, at the engineers of this catastrophe – the devil-worshipers of Nusra/Alqaeda and the defected vultures of Ahraar Al-Shaam.  All venom is spat out at the rats and only them.

This morning, the SAA and allied forces (HZB) rushed JN positions who were dug in around apartment buildings in the north of the town and stunned the sleeping, huddled, cringing rodents with artillery fire, then infantry assault and then paratroop drops forcing the enemy to try and regroup, and failing that, speed away to temporary safety in the east of the town.   As the SAA pursued the fleeing vermin, there were some who tried to hold ground and the fighting became quite violent and bloody for the rats.  By the time it was over, 14 carcasses were counted and an estimated 40+ would need medical care that was not available.





الجيش السوري يسيطر على الأبنية الشمالية المحيطة بنبع الفيجة

Cemeteries:  The SAA was able to liberate an important hill overlooking the cemeteries today.  All told, 12 ISIS rat carcasses were counted, a PKC cannon destroyed and a whole arsenal of side arms were seized after a field assessment was accomplished.

Panorama Roundabout:  Rodents trying to infiltrate to an area filled with trenches at the southeast entrance to the provincial capital were foiled and pushed back with 11 dead one of whom was called:

“Abu Yusuf”

Muhassan Town:  The SAAF targeted a command-control center here near the Al-Busayyid Mosque killing 12 rodents:

Raaghib Ahmad Al-Hammaad

Badr Hameed Al-‘Alyawi

‘Abbood Al-‘Alyawi

Raaghib Al-‘Areef

Salaah Al-Mahmoud Al-Turki Al-Saalim


comment image

(Thanks, Daniel Rich)


6 TU-22-3M intercontinental bombers flying out of Russian airbases fired missiles at ISIS warehouses and arsenals destroying all their targets.


(Photo courtesy: SANA)

Al-Qooriyya Village:  The day before yesterday, near the Al-Bu’awwaad Mosque, the Syrian Army killed 2 ISIS rats:

Kassaar Al-Haddaawi

and his adjutant.




وفد الجمهورية العربية السورية يغادر إلى الأستانة

Dr. Bashar Al-Ja’afari leaves Damascus International Airport with the Syrian delegation after consultations with his principals and heads for the Kazakh capital of Astana to begin the Russian and Iranian sponsored talks with the opposition.  


The Syrian delegation was made up the following individuals besides Dr. Al-Ja’afari:

Ahmad ‘Arnoos (Advisor to the Foreign Minister)

Dr. Riyaadh Haddaad (Syrian Ambassador to Moscow)

Ahmad Kusayri (Member of the People’s Assembly)

Haydar ‘Ali Ahmad

Usaamaa ‘Ali

Amjad ‘Issa

Brig. Gen. Saleem Harbaa (frequently seen commentator on military matters)

Brig. Gen. ‘Adnaan Hulwa

Col. Saamer Buraydi

This is one conference where nothing is going to happen.  The rodent opposition is represented by none other than Jaysh Al-Islam’s disgraced former leader, Muhammad ‘Alloosh.  His approach is so diplomatic and appropriate that Dr. Al-Ja’afari had to point to it as some kind of deviation from ordinary civilized speech.  This murdering criminal ‘Alloosh should not even be allowed to sit with dying hyenas.  He demanded a resolution to label all foreign groups in Syria, including HZB, as terrorists.  I am told the Syrian delegation could hardly keep from laughing out loud at that suggestion by a declared child molester and rapist.

So far, the proceedings are largely ceremonial.  Dr. Al-Ja’afari, in his opening statement mentioned that Kazakhstan was the tomb of the great Mameluke King and general, Al-Malik Al-Zhaaher Ruknuddeen Baybars Al-Bunduqdaari.  In truth, Baybars is buried in Damascus at the Al-Zhaahiriyya Library.  That’s about all we can think of in terms of remarkable events.

It is the purpose of this meeting to strengthen the cease fire which has really not taken a hold over all Syria.  One of the reasons is that Jaysh Al-Islam, a Saudi creation, continues to violate the agreement by opening fire on Syrian ground forces trigering a response.  This is all a waste of time and money.


RETIRED ARMY NON-COMMISSIONED OFFICER SFC STEVEN M BARRY (USA Ret) rails against U.S. machinations: (Sent to Ziad via email. Edited by Ziad only for grammar)

What if another Country did to the United States what the United States has been doing to other countries for the past thirty years? Or, to more tightly focus on the subject: what if another Country did to the United States what the US has done to Syria?

Another country’s equivalent of USAID, and its satellite “NGOs” work for a decade to undermine and subvert government by organizing and training “activists” — of whatever stripe — and then stage a “populist” “color revolution” out of which “suddenly” and “spontaneously” springs an armed opposition. Then, when the legitimate government cracks down on the “activist” and armed “opposition” that government is denounced as “tyrannical” and “oppressive,” a regime that must be changed. In order to ensure regime change in the US that Other Country translates into mercenary armies (that it trained and organized — and leads) of hundreds of thousands to the US in support of the “activists” and when the US Army (justly) responds the US regime is accused in the Other Country’s press of “killing its own people.”

It gets better.

Then, in response to the armed opposition that the Other Country created and set in motion, the Other Country declares a “war on…(fill in the blank)” and grants itself the “responsibility to protect (R2P)” the people of the United States who are being terrorized and murdered by the Other County’s own armed opposition mercenary army (which of course is blamed on the US Army). The Other Country then begins a bombing campaign in the US; nominally against its own armed opposition mercenary army — so the story hangs together in the media — but in reality bombing US civilian infrastructure and occasionally (by “accident” of course) the US Army. The civilian infrastructure soon laid waste, large portions of the population, desperate to escape the Other Country’s R2P, find themselves in the unhappy condition of refugee. (Real refugees, not so called “migrants” the US wrings its hands about.)

There is no need to amplify.

Syria is being saved from the malice of the United States by its friend and long term ally, Russia — much to the white-hot fury of the United States. But here is something to consider. What sane country would come to the assistance of the US (given its history of regime change) if it were the victim of regime change by an Other Country acting like the United States? What sane country would succor American refugees?

Justice is defined as rendering to another what is his due. The United States is owed justice – in spades.



Hans Hilffer sends us this Al-Mayaadeen video interview with Vanessa Beeley about the White Helmets:

Read about a 3 year old girl in Al-Faw’ah murdered by Obama’s cannibals.  (From Waf Halabi)

Here’s Eva Bartlett’s coverage of the children of Faw’ah and Kafarayyaa:  (From Patrick Henningsen)



One sunny day in January, 2017, an old man approaches the White House from across Pennsylvania Avenue where he’d been sitting on a park bench. He speaks to the U.S. Marine standing guard and says,

“I would like to go in and meet with President Obama.”

The Marine looks at the man and says,

“Sir, Mr. Obama is no longer president and no longer resides here.”

The old man says,

“Okay,” and walks away.

The following day the same man approaches the White House and says to the same Marine,

“I would like to go in and meet with President Obama.”

The Marine again tells the man,

“Sir, as I said yesterday, Mr. Obama is no longer president and no longer resides here.”

The man thanks him and again walks away.

On the third day, the same man approaches the White House and speaks to the very same U.S. Marine, saying,

“I would like to go in and meet with President Obama.”

The Marine, understandably agitated at this point, looks at the man and says,

“Sir, this is the third day in a row you have been here asking to speak to Mr. Obama. I’ve told you already that Mr. Obama is no longer the president and no longer resides here. Don’t you understand?”

The old man looks at the Marine and says,

“Oh, I understand. I just love hearing it.”

The Marine snaps to attention, salutes, and says,

“See you tomorrow, Sir!”




Strange Bedfellows: US, Saudi, Al-Qaida & ISIS Interests Align In War On Yemen – By Catherine Shakdam

The people of Yemen continue to suffer amid a humanitarian catastrophe created by foreign and domestic forces alike — almost all of whom stand to profit as long as war and chaos have a hold on the impoverished country.

Making a joint statement on Yemen, with left - right, US Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson and UN Special Envoy for Yemen Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, at Lancaster House in London Sunday Oct. 16, 2016. (Justin Tallis/AP)

LONDON — (Analysis) As Yemen remains entrenched in the protracted, multi-fronted military conflict led by Saudi Arabia and funded by the United States, socio-political dynamics and economic realities have evolved according to the needs of competing factions — often to the detriment of civilian populations.

Since the Saudi-led coalition began dropping bombs on Yemen on March 25, 2015, 3.2 million Yemenis have been displaced and more than half of the country is suffering from food insecurity and malnutrition.

As of August, at least 10,000 civilians have been killed — that’s 13 civilians a day.

The war has taken a particularly devastating toll on children. With hundreds of thousands of schools closed, 2 million school-age Yemenis are being denied an education. In its most recent briefing on Yemen, “Struggling to Survive: Stories from Yemen’s collapsing health system,” Save the Children reported that 14.8 million people, 55 percent of whom are children, are “currently deprived of access to even the most basic health care.”

Emphasizing the human costs of war and the systematic targeting of vital civilian infrastructure, the children’s rights NGO warned:

“Yemen is in the grip of the largest humanitarian catastrophe in the world right now. 18.7 million people — including 10 million children — are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance or protections — that’s more than one third of the entire population.”

Edward Santiago, Save the Children’s Yemen director, noted:

“Even before the war tens of thousands of Yemeni children were dying of preventable causes. But now, the situation is much worse and an estimated 1,000 children are dying every week from preventable killers like diarrhoea, malnutrition and respiratory tract infections.”

Indeed, Yemen is a bleeding wound in the region, abandoned and shunned by the powers which profit most from the war waged by the Saudi-led coalition — namely, the United States and United Kingdom.

While the war on Yemen has brought a litany of suffering to Yemenis, it has also given rise to a flourishing black market. This shadow economy is tied up and firmly embedded in the terrorism inspired by Wahhabism, the dominant faith of Saudi Arabia for more than two centuries and the cornerstone of the violent jihadist movement embodied by al-Qaida and Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group known as ISIS or ISIL in the West). It’s the nexus of terrorism which calls for the annihilation of all those who oppose its diktat.

Al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula, an al-Qaida offshoot of militant extremists known as Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen, has increasingly adopted the structure and behaviors laid out in Syria and Iraq by Daesh. Like so many Wahhabi-inspired terror groups, AQAP has reportedly taken its cues from Saudi Arabia, serving as a proxy of war for the kingdom and its foreign patrons.

A still from a video released from Al Qaeda In The Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) showing battles with Houthi rebels in Baydha Province, Yemen.

And with a weapons industry and political blank check that feed the Saudi military complex, the U.S. corporate empire sits at the very core of such dynamics. Data gathered from the Congressional Research Service, Department of Defense Fiscal Year Series, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, and Defense Security Cooperation Agency, revealed that the U.S. sold an excess of $100 billion worth of weapons to Saudi Arabia from 2009 to 2015, Bryan Schatz reported for Mother Jones in September.

Often overlooked by the mainstream media is the economic agenda carried out by Riyadh against its impoverished neighbor. Beyond the frenzied bombing of a nation and the systematic targeting of its institutions and infrastructure, has sat a cold determination to allow terrorist forces to usurp Yemen’s resources and capital.

The Saudi-led war on Yemen operates far beyond any military or geopolitical narrative. It’s steeped in breathing new life into the most inhumane of trades on which the Saudi economy depends: human trafficking, sexual exploitation, drugs and weapons smuggling, and Wahhabi terror financing.

Yemen has long been earmarked for complete annihilation so that the Gulf kingdom can achieve these ends.

“Behind the slaughtering of a people, Riyadh is really testing world powers’ patience and Western capitals’ propensity to rationalize genocide under such labels as ‘national security,’” Sheikh Shabbir Hassanally, a U.K.-based political analyst and commentator on Middle East affairs, told MintPress News.

The war on Yemen has become a struggle for national survival against state actors like Saudi Arabia and non-state actors like Daesh and AQAP. In this new paradigm of asymmetrical warfare driven by a neo-imperialistic agenda, the grand Wahhabist kingdom of Saudi Arabia has worked to anchor its caliphate’s economic system deep within Arabia, establishing a new, violent form of hyper-capitalistic imperialism through heinous exploitation.


‘War … is a blessing for al-Qaida’

A Yemeni militant holds an ISIS banner as he stands behind bars during a court hearing in Sanaa, Yemen. (AP/Hani Mohammed)

With its territorial and national identity compromised by a rising narrative of sectarianism, tribalism, and regionalism, Yemen’s descent into socio-economic, political, and even sovereign instability has empowered radical elements within its borders. Groups like al-Qaida and Daesh have found an ever-expanding space in which to live and breed.

Forced into a reactionary economy, Yemen’s resistance movement has had to withdraw behind enemy lines to find economic breathing space. From behind an iron curtain, the movement has staked its survival on the reinvention of its institutions outside the matrix of the global economy. Under siege by the Saudi-led coalition, Yemen was forced to break away and affirm its sovereign rights, as did Iran, Argentina, Cuba, and other nations targeted by imperialism’s onslaught.

Yemen’s resistance movement, represented by Ansarullah, is a loose coalition of tribal leaders, clerics, and political parties united in the rejection of Saudi Arabia’s military interventionism. It’s an umbrella for groups including the Houthis, members of the General People’s Congress (the former ruling party) still loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, as well as a slew of tribes and activists. Like Yemen itself, the movement is socially, politically, and religiously diverse.

Speaking through his office, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, president of the Revolutionary Committee, which currently controls Yemen, told MintPress: “Out of every vacuum this war has created, it is al-Qaida and ultimately its patrons which have risen stronger still.”

He continued:

“Yemen’s war has become too much of a liability to regional stability for parties to still  entertain the notion that further military entrenchment will generate positive results. War at this stage is a blessing for al-Qaida and those parties benefitting from the annihilation of Yemen’s national sovereignty. Such an eroding of Yemen’s nation-state could have terrible repercussions, since it could allow for the rise of another socio-political system – that of the Islamic Caliphate. Beyond all blame and culpability, Yemen’s biggest threat remains terror.”

A Map of Bab-el-Mandeb, the world’s primary oil route connecting the Red Sea to the Aiden Sea.

Yemen sits on Bab-al-Mandeb, the world’s primary oil route, and its waterways offer openings to Africa, Europe, and Asia, so the country on the tip of the Arabian Peninsula cannot be allowed to further fall. While assigning blame and demanding accountability are important, sovereign restoration — economic, institutional, or social — is vital.

Whether world powers have the courage to realize it or not, the Saudi leadership is attempting to institutionalize the caliphate’s black economy and breathe into existence an atrocious new financial network.

Speaking to MintPress, Sheikh Shabbir Hassanally stressed: “Yemen’s run-in with terror today is more than an ideology, it is becoming an institutional reality hungering for sovereignty — there lies a danger too great for any of us to ignore.”

“It is our ability to see through the muddied waters of imperialism and engineered terror which ultimately will determine whether we will defeat this new evil or fall under its yoke.”

Hasan al-Sa’adi, an official with the former ruling party, the General People’s Congress, told MintPress:

“While it has often been assumed that only the Houthi/Saleh complex, aka Yemen’s resistance movement, has dabbled into less than holistic activities to sustain their war efforts, careful investigating determined that while individuals within the resistance had a hand in the looting of Yemen’s sovereign economy, the resistance movement, as a whole, has proven loyal to its goal: freeing Yemen. As for those parties in league with Riyadh, their default setting has been criminality.”

Further, a certain fluidity has been observed between self-proclaimed warring factions as far as financial interests are concerned. Where very clear lines may have existed in the early stages of the conflict (individuals, tribal entities, political factions, and coalition groups sat on very distinct sides), military and humanitarian needs and an imperious desire to generate money to overpower the opposition have often led opposing sides to negotiate “access” to resources.

For example, weapons dealers based in southern Yemen, areas which are under Saudi occupation, have smuggled weapons, ammunition, diesel, and other supplies to northern Yemen via old tribal trading routes, thus betraying their alliance to resigned President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, Riyadh’s patsy in Yemen.

While such activities betray immediate military interests, it appears the war has created a space too lucrative for any one party to ignore, except maybe those invested in peace.


‘Criminality has been a default setting for many of the parties involved’

In this picture provided by the office of the Egyptian Presidency, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, left, talks to Yemen's exiled President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi following a ceremony unveiling a major extension of the Suez Canal in Ismailia, Egypt,, Aug. 6, 2015. (Egyptian Presidency via AP)

Yemen’s national economy suffered a series of crises and mismanagement well before the current chaos erupted. Yemen has not only been economically starved, its national currency been targeted so the country is unable to survive the Saudi-led, U.S.-backed war.

War has been a driving factor in Yemen’s national impoverishment, but it’s certainly not the only factor. Political factions on all sides have greatly benefited from the chaos and instability generated by the conflict, notwithstanding a widespread lack of judicial accountability. In short, this chaos allowed an already grand degree of criminality to reach new heights, elevating embezzlement into an artform.

No party can claim innocence in the race to control Yemen’s resources and institutions. Officials on all sides, at all levels, all across the country have much to answer for, as the Yemeni people have been held hostage by war capitalists and others for whom civilian interests are no matter of importance.

War profiteers, both foreign and domestic, have graced all sides and played every narrative to ensure their paydays.More often than not, malfeasance and wrongdoing have overlapped and financial interests have aligned, making it more difficult to prosecute any single party. It would be morally and legally hypocritical to hold one party to certain standards and offer another immunity on account of politics. Ultimately, Yemenis will have to decide how justice should be served.

When speaking about the crisis in Yemen, the media has focused its coverage on pitting former President Ali Abdullah Saleh and the Houthis against the renegade, twice-resigned, Saudi-backed President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, who is described as the head of “the legitimate government.”

 Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, left, talks with Saudi Defense Minister Mohammed bin Salman as he arrives in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Thursday, March 26, 2015. (AP Photo/SPA)

However, Kim Sharif, a lawyer and activist heading Human Rights for Yemen, told MintPress that Hadi’s claim on power “remains subject to contention as per Yemen’s customary law, one needs to stress that criminality has been a default setting for many of the parties involved.”

She further noted that if Yemen is to heal its broken institutions, closure needs to take place. But there can be no closure without some degree of justice. Yemen would need a grand political cleanse — the departure of the state, individuals, and entities who drove Yemen to its financial death — to begin anew on healthy footing.

The northern governorates of Yemen have suffered under an unprecedented liquidity crisis that has been worsening since June, following calls by Hadi loyalists for the head offices of the Central Bank of Yemen to be moved in Aden. The move, which took place in September, ambitioned to starve Yemen’s currency market and cripple the Ansarullah resistance movement — including the Houthis, in particular.

Hadi has so far escaped scrutiny, yet his financial dealings and those of his close associates demand close inspection. Often painted as a grand criminal among grand criminals, Hadi is said to have systematically dipped his hands into the proverbial cookie jars, leaving his people to starve in a landscape of fire and lead.

A former Saleh man, Hadi is in the process of recreating his predecessor’s nepotist oligarchy and building himself a fortune from behind Riyadh’s shadow bank.


All sides operate in the shadow economy, drain the national economy

Rogue militiamen loyal to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi ride on an army vehicle on a street in Aden, Yemen. (AP/Yassir Hassan)

Even before Saudi Arabia declared war on Yemen in March of 2015, the Ansarullah movement was unable to sell Yemen’s oil due to a series of sabotage attacks and structural damage. And Yemen faced a security crisis posed by al-Qaida and AQAP well before the resistance assumed power over the capital, Sanaa, and by extension the running of the country.

Hadi and his loyalists have benefited from this instability. Tribal sources told MintPress that Hadi has sold several Yemeni provinces to al-Qaida in exchange for cash since the Saudi-led bombing campaign started in March of 2015. His network has amassed a fortune on the black market, dealing in weapons, drugs, and other contraband. Speaking to MintPress, Abdullah Shaban, a high-ranking Houthi officer, confirmed these allegations.

Cut off from the world oil market, the resistance turned to the shadow economy.

Yemen has a natural right to resist foreign oppression, and true legitimacy can only be rooted in popular will — a concept adherents to the notion of American exceptionalism have been keen to reject so they could better claim to exercise it.

While the resistance has syphoned millions of dollars out of the mainstream economy, it has also used state funds to run the country’s affairs — at least, as much as it could. The same cannot be said of Hadi, whose sole aim has been to exploit, loot, and disappear Yemen’s riches.

Hasan al-Sa’adi, the official linked to the General People’s Congress, told MintPress that the Houthis and Saleh first looked abroad for funding for their efforts against Hadi. Both Russia and Iran were approached as early as March of last year, shortly before Riyadh moved in against Yemen. Despite some reports in mainstream media of a proxy war set-up involving Iran or Russia, there have been no indications that any deals were reached.

Indeed, other than to offer political support, Iran and Russia have stayed out of the Yemeni theater. In the light of developments in Syria and Iraq it would be logical to assume that both powers would acknowledge it if they had any involvement in Yemen.

In December of 2015, Gareth Porter, a historian and investigative journalist focusing on U.S. foreign policy, exposed this construct when he debunked Saudi Arabia’s war narrative and the concept of an Iranian proxy war in Yemen. He wrote in Truthout:

“The allegation of Iranian arms shipments to the Houthis – an allegation that has often been mentioned in press coverage of the conflict but never proven – was reinforced by a report released last June by a panel of experts created by the UN Security Council: The report concluded that Iran had been shipping arms to the Houthi rebels in Yemen by sea since at least 2009. But an investigation of the two main allegations of such arms shipments made by the Yemeni government and cited by the expert panel shows that they were both crudely constructed ruses.”


Forging alliances despite diverging agendas

Mohammed Ali al-Houthi, who heads the Houthi rebels' powerful Revolutionary Council, center, attends the funeral procession of victims who were killed from triple suicide bombing attacks that hit a pair of mosques in Sanaa, Yemen.(AP/Hani Mohammed)

With no hope for foreign help, Yemen’s resistance took steps to fix the country’s faltering economy.

In August of 2015, Mohammed Ali al-Houthi announced a new tax of four Yemeni rials per liter on sales of all petroleum products. The tax immediately generated an estimated $237 million.

By October of 2016, 20 liters (5.28 gallons) of gasoline sold for 3,600 rials (just over $14) through legitimate sources and for as much as 7,000 rials on the black market. And since October, Abdel-Malek al-Houthi, a Houthi leader, has overseen the fuel black market to ensure that all profits are directed to the war efforts.

If the resistance has clearly played into illegal markets to generate income, the group has largely done so to sustain its war efforts against Saudi Arabia and allow for civilian life to return to some degree of normality under the humanitarian blockade. Suffocated under a punishing blockade, Yemen, which imports 90 percent of all of its food, has been starved so that Riyadh could win its colonial war.

Though accused of looting and property damage, Yemen’s resistance movement is actually a model of restraint compared to Hadi’s cold capitalistic ambitions. Where the resistance has, for example, re-routed humanitarian aid toward resistance forces to feed the war efforts and allow for fair distribution in parts of northern Yemen made most vulnerable by famine, Hadi loyalists in Aden have committed grand treason.

In the summer of 2015 residents in Aden complained that food aid was being sold to supermarkets with links to Hadi’s militias rather than distributed to the poor. Speaking to MintPress from Aden, Dr. Abdel-Mageed Kulaib said, “Whatever aid the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia sent to the seaport of Aden never actually made it, as it was requisitioned by the military under strict orders from Hadi’s high-ranking officers.”

It would be wrong to look upon the Houthis and Saleh as more than an alliance forged out of political and military necessity. Despite their alliance, it’s important to note that the resistance movement and Saleh are pursuing very different agendas.

Unlike Saleh, who has reverted to his default setting of corruption, the Houthis seek to fundamentally reform Yemen and restore political self-determination to the country. They also yearn for social justice — a basic human right the former regime long denied its people. And where Saleh seeks to replenish his personal coffers with the profits of war, the Houthis and the broader resistance movement are working to ensure their political survival.

Humanitarian aid has been used by the Houthis and Saleh to create profits. In a December 2015 interview with Fatik al-Rodaini, a former journalist who now serves as co-director of the Mona Relief Organization, he explained how the NGO has established that the Houthi-Saleh complex accelerated their withholding of humanitarian aid to civilians to boost sales on the black market in the city of Taiz.

Meanwhile, Hadi has exploited his al-Qaida connections to oppose the advances of resistance troops. This allowed for AQAP to establish pockets of influence in and around Taiz as a buffer against Sanaa.

More troubling still is Hadi’s insistence on appointing al-Qaida affiliates to government positions within the territories he controls. Hadi has repeatedly shown a propensity to support AQAP in southern Yemen, using terror as a weapon of asymmetrical warfare. There, one must say, Hadi has taken his cue from Riyadh.

On Dec. 28, 2015 Hadi appointed Nayif Salih Salim al-Qaysi as governor of al-Bayda. The U.S. Department of the Treasury identified the well-known al-Qaida supporter as responsible for providing financial support to terrorist organizations in May of 2016.

“As of 2016, al-Qaysi was a senior AQAP official and a financial supporter of AQAP,” according to the statement issued by the State Department, which further accuses al-Qaysi of raising money for AQAP, delivering aid to AQAP, facilitating access through his position as governor of al-Bayda, and enabling the terror group’s expansion in the province and beyond through infiltration.

Hadi also favored another target for Treasury sanctions, Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad, aka Abd al-Rahman al-Humayqani, secretary general of al-Rashad Union, a Salafi political party with ties to al-Qaida.

His name was added to the list of al-Qaida supporters in December of 2013, around the same time that Hadi nominated al-Humayqani as a member of the National Dialogue Conference, giving al-Qaida a foothold in Yemen’s political arena. In 2015, al-Humayqani represented the “government in exile” in U.N.-sponsored peace talks in Geneva.

Here, one must discuss Taiz. The city sat at the heart of violent controversy in which mainstream media, activists, and politicians have been keen to portray the efforts of the resistance toward “breaking Taiz” as criminal, genocidal, and tyrannical.

Yet the presence of al-Qaida forces within the walls of the city has gone largely ignored. Voices echoing in the mainstream have failed to clarify al-Qaida’s ambitions of gaining a foothold in the key strategic chokepoint in Yemen. In Syria, it’s Aleppo; in Yemen, it’s Taiz.

Behind the mainstream media’s subservient peddling of Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabist agenda lies a truth few have had the courage to acknowledge, let alone internalize: the rise of al-Qaida and Daesh which Riyadh seeks to enable in Yemen.

In a letter dated Nov. 11, 2016, Brig. Adnan al-Hamadi, commander of the 35th armoured camp in Taiz, asks Hadi to approve the promotion of Sheikh Adel Abdo Faria, aka Abo al-Abas, to the rank of colonel, citing Hadi’s verbal promise to do so. Known as one of al-Qaida’s princes by Yemeni security services, Abo al-Abas was among al-Qaida’s jihadi fighters in Afghanistan.

The kingdom realized long ago that Wahhabism would need to take hold of Yemen if the Saudi elite were ever to control the whole of Arabia. To this end, the House of Saud has become a grand architect of terror, planning the death of a nation-state with total impunity.


The terror economy goes digital

Last year, sources, including the U.N. Security Council, attested to a rising trend of asset flight in Yemen through previously unidentified channels.

Facing heightened pressure from the United Nations in regards to unlawfully obtained financial holdings, members of Yemen’s deep state and militants have sought new ways to hide their transactions and holdings.

According to a forthcoming report which this writer helped to prepare for the United Nations Security Council’s Yemen Panel of Experts, al-Qaida — specifically, AQAP — has resorted to the “dark web” and the use of bitcoins to conduct several high-volume financial dealings, including cash transfers through a series of agents and shell companies. Recent scrutiny has forced al-Qaida to pursue more sophisticated technologies to prevent these transactions from being traced and their locations being uncovered.

Meanwhile, like so many average people who have turned to bitcoin instead of corporate banking and paper trails, the cryptocurrency has long been considered criminals’ preferred method for laundering money, trading in counterfeit currencies, and committing credit card fraud. In 2013, Stephen Mihm reported for Bloomberg: “Criminals, it turns out, really like bitcoins, which can be exchanged for nefarious purposes on the ‘Dark Web,’ with complete anonymity and, it seems, impunity.”

Those criminals, of course, include al-Qaida.

This writer conducted research in association with the Shafaqna News Association, an English-language Shiite news organization based in the United Kingdom, which established that al-Qaida traded weapons, precious artifacts, and drugs with bitcoin as the currency.

Once purchased, the items would be trafficked in and out of Yemen by smugglers via the Horn of Africa and Oman. Yet Yemen is under a complete blockade. As that blockade is manned by Saudi Arabia, it is safe to assume that Riyadh knows exactly what is happening. (The full findings of this report will be presented in February at the New Horizon Conference in Tehran.)

According to research conducted in association with Shafaqna and shared with the UNSC’s Yemen Panel of Experts, while the resistance has been instrumental in collecting new taxes by playing the black market to generate revenue and other schemes, it has done so to finance its legitimate war efforts against both Saudi Arabia and al-Qaida. Although it is evident that individuals within the resistance movement have abused their positions of power to embezzle funds, the resistance movement as a whole is not to blame.

Sources in southern Yemen have pointed to terrifying developments, including accusations that Hadi has been trading Yemen’s state secrets for a profit. Selling out his nation for a buck is a particular type of treachery that Yemenis will certainly have a difficult time getting over.

If such claims may seem far-fetched in that they betray an imperialistic agenda, one should note that Yemen is not terrorism’s first victim. Since grabbing hold of Afghanistan, then spreading through the Greater Middle East, terror has developed a sophisticated financial system. Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan all attest to this reality.

Yemen is merely the newest piece of the puzzle, another cog into the terror machine.


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Russian Prime Minister Medvedev bids farewell to Obama in scathing FB post, damns him with no praise – By Alexander Mercouris

Russian Prime Minister Medvedev and former US President Obama

In scathing final assessment Russian Prime Minister Medvedev accuses former US President Obama of wrecking US-Russian relations by paying no heed to Russian concerns and by underestimating Russia.

Observing Russian practice, Russian President Putin has been careful to avoid making any personal comments about Barack Obama, now no longer President of the United States.

I would add that it is a courtesy that was not reciprocated. Obama on occasion personally, and his officials frequently – including especially Vice-President Biden – spoke of Putin, and did so in the most offensive terms.

It has therefore been left to Prime Minister Medvedev to sum up the Russian government’s view of Obama and his administration in – of all places – a Facebook post.

The administration of US President Barack Obama has come to a close and the results are decidedly mixed. I would like to give my assessment of Russia-US relations during this period, especially since I was directly involved in many events.

On the one hand, Russia and the United States managed to work together to resolve a number of major international problems. Our countries signed a nuclear weapons reduction treaty, and Russia and the United States played a leading role in resolving the controversy surrounding the Iranian nuclear programme. We achieved the elimination of chemical weapons in Syria. These outcomes are important for the entire world.

On the other hand, US-Russia relations completely fell apart by the end of the second term of the Obama administration. Everyone is aware that the United States has always tried to” steer” almost all global processes, brazenly interfering in the internal affairs of various countries and waging multiple wars on foreign soil. Iraq, the Arab Spring, Ukraine, and Syria are just a few examples of such reckless policies in recent years. We can still see their consequences, which range from the complete collapse of the political systems in these countries to wars which claimed tens of thousands of lives.

There is only one explanation for such actions: the interests of the United States. An explanation which is entirely defensible in America itself, though much less so in other countries.

But the real issue lies elsewhere – the failure to understand one’ s own true interests.

The Obama administration was completely short-sighted on such an important and complex issue as relations with Russia. There was hope that it would be smarter, more circumspect, and more responsible – despite differing assessments of complex international processes, varying approaches to key decisions, the role of emotion and the pressure exerted by various political forces. The most important thing was to remember that Russia is not a banana republic (even though equal dialogue is a must with all members of the international community).

It is unacceptable to talk to a country which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council in such a manner. A country with defensive capabilities equal to the United States. It is important to remember that Russia-US relations, without exaggeration, determine the fate of major international initiatives. Often, we may like or dislike some of the policies of our key partners, but we must be aware of our common responsibility. This is something that the Obama administration failed to do.

The pressure on our country has reached unprecedented proportions. Ill-considered economic sanctions, which did no one any good, have reduced our cooperation to zero. There were the ridiculous individual sanctions that nobody paid attention to. And it doesn’t get any dumber than restricting entry to the United States for the leadership of the Russian parliament, ministers, and businessmen, thus deliberately reducing the possibility of full-fledged contacts and closing the window to cooperation. The bet was on brute force and sheer pressure. It is impossible to imagine such actions even during the Cuban missile crisis, even though the situation was much more serious then…

Who benefited from this? No one. Certainly not the United States. It didn’t work.

Conclusion: The Obama administration has destroyed relations between the United States and Russia, which are at their lowest point in decades. This is its key foreign policy mistake which will be remembered by history.

We do not know yet how the new US administration will approach relations with our country. But we are hoping that reason will prevail. And we are ready to do our share of the work in order to improve the relationship.

Medvedev’s claim that the level of bitterness and acrimony in US-Russian relations has come to exceed the worst levels of the Cold War (the Cuban missile crisis) is absolutely true.

His criticism of the “ridiculous individual sanctions that nobody paid attention to” is also true. Not only do the individuals in question have no assets in the US or EU for the sanctions to bite on, but as Medvedev correctly says restricting travel and contacts at the highest levels of the US and Russian governments makes no sense.

I would add that nothing like that happened during the Cold War, when the whole impetus of US and Western policy was to increase contacts with the Russians – and to persuade Russian leaders to travel more, not less, outside their country – rather than reduce them.

Obama, if he reads Medvedev’s post (which is doubtful) will find a particular cause for bitterness in it. One of the major objectives he set himself during the period of the so-called Reset was to foster “reform” (ie. pro-US) policies in Russia by trying to play Medvedev (supposedly a pro-Western liberal) and Putin off against each other. He even sent Vice-President Biden to Russia to threaten Putin not to stand for President in 2012, so that Medvedev could continue as President.

The whole idea of playing Medvedev off against Putin was doomed from the start. Not only is Medvedev personally loyal to Putin, but quite simply he doesn’t have the support in Russia to go against Putin even if he wanted to. As Medvedev’s Facebook post shows, the whole idea that Medvedev is more pro American than Putin – though widely held – is anyway wrong.

In any event, all Obama’s foolish meddling in the relationship between Putin and Medvedev actually achieved was to antagonise Putin unnecessarily whilst undermining Medvedev’s standing in Russia. That may explain some of the bitterness in Medvedev’s words about him in the Facebook post.

In truth, as Medvedev’s words say, the underlying cause of the breakdown in relations between the US and Russia during Obama’s second term – which has cast a pall of failure over Obama’s whole Presidency – is that Obama was both disastrously ill-informed about Russia (and was fundamentally uninterested in learning more about it) and completely underestimated it. Medvedev sums it up well

The most important thing was to remember that Russia is not a banana republic (even though equal dialogue is a must with all members of the international community).

It is unacceptable to talk to a country which is a permanent member of the UN Security Council in such a manner. A country with defensive capabilities equal to the United States. It is important to remember that Russia-US relations, without exaggeration, determine the fate of major international initiatives. Often, we may like or dislike some of the policies of our key partners, but we must be aware of our common responsibility. This is something that the Obama administration failed to do.

As Obama’s Presidency recedes into the past, the accuracy of this assessment will become ever more apparent.

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“Exclusive to Syrper” by Canthama



The Tiger Forces have been slowly advancing in the eastern Aleppo countryside for the past few days during which they liberated over 6 villages: Rasm Al-‘Alam, Mushayrifa, ‘Aabid, Afreen, Barlaheen and the critical village of Shaamir, the bottom point of the triangle Shaamir-Marraan-Sooraan, the 3 most important villages in all the so called “Sooraan salient”.


Map credited to Islamic World News @A7_Mirza


Last night the Tiger Forces liberated Sooraan (map above), placing enormous pressure on ISIS defenses in nearby villages, resulting this early morning in the further liberation of 6 more villages: Marraan, Sarja Sagheera, Tunbur, Haleesa, Haj Hassan and Sarja Kabeera. Though some combat is still ongoing on their outskirts as part of an ISIS defensive line collapse and retreat.


Analyzing the last Eastern Aleppo advances by the Tiger Forces, it is possible to conclude that there is a preference for driving the fiercest attacks through the available roads. Confirming this assumption, it is possible to conclude that the following villages will be liberated very soon:



Waadi Al-Rajj

Sahl Al-Rasm

Umm ‘Adas

Khaan Ufra

Dayr Antah

All of the above villages will be targeted for liberation the next day or so in order for the main forces to advance toward the probable future front line at Sirbus and Al-Madyoona villages.




With bad weather in Deir El-Zor during the weekend, there was a  limitation placed on close air support (CAS), which opened up the opportunity for high altitude bombing by the strategic bombers of the Russian Air Force on Saturday. They were aiming at the rear-guard of the ISIS terrorists, destroying convoys, terrorists’ gatherings and camps. The effectiveness of the bombing was felt by a reduced ISIS activity in storming SAA’s positions.


Map credited to The ‘Nimr’ Tiger @Souria4Syrians


There are many maps from the supposed front line in Deir El- Zor, some with a large gap between the two pockets, though it is very hard to have maps on a fluid battle front. I found the map above a most likely picture of the Deir El-Zor total pocket. The critical Workers’ Housing District is an isolated pocket still held by the SAA with the N4 highway clearly contested and with both the smaller Al- ‘Arabi and Maysaloon districts under partial ISIS  control at the N4, which in fact creates a virtual cut-off from the airbase making these areas the focus of fighting at the moment.

The main fights yesterday and today were at the Panorama roundabout and the main cemetery, the former resisting well to all assaults, the latter an extremely fluid area due to its vital status in the overall battle for Deir El-Zor. Most of the air attacks are happening at this very same area.

In the past few days several cargo deliveries were either dropped by parachute from large airplanes or landed through helicopters (mostly reinforcements).  This is the on-going life line for the SAA and allies at the moment. 

Though the estimated 120,000 civilians in Deir El-Zor are still going through severe deprivation in food and goods as has been the case for over 4 years, and being driven to extremes at the moment, the moral of the citizenry continues to be very high, with several videos and pictures of civilians arming themselves to help the SAA and allies in any way possible to resist the advance of ISIS. 

Time is critical for the Deir El-Zor pocket. The current situation, though stable, is still risky. The SAA has not received armored vehicles to replenish its losses for at least the past 2-3 years and the dwindling number of tanks and BMPs makes it harder to counter-attack in the desert.




The Republican Guards and SAA have reached the outskirts of the main ‘Ayn Al-Feeja water spring, though fighting remains intense. They have fire control of it which means soon all ‘Ayn Al- Feeja will be liberated and the engineers will be able to work safely to resume the water supply to Damascus.







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