Russia Brings Turkey to the Right Side of History – Terrorists and Israel React Badly to Sochi Agreement on Idlib – ByAndrés Perezalonso – Sott.net

Putin erdogan netanyahu

© Fort Russ News

With Turkey’s military presence in northern Syria and its support of militant groups in Idlib, it was to be expected that the Syrian Army offensive in the region would be postponed until a compromise was reached between Erdogan and Assad’s allies, as I explained earlier. Russian president Vladimir Putin held talks with his Turkish counterpart Erdogan, for the third time in less than a month, in Sochi on September 17th. They agreed to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib; later, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed to journalists there would not be a large military operation in the province.

According to Russian diplomatic sources who spoke with Al-Watan newspaper, the Russian-Turkish agreement will be implemented in three stages:

  1. The first stage will go into effect by mid October to create a 15 to 20 km weapons-free zone along the contact line between militant groups and government forces. All radical groups, including ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra/Al Qaeda will have to leave this zone, which will be patrolled jointly by Russian and Turkish military units.
  2. In the second stage the heavy weapons will be collected from the region until November 10 and the militants will leave civilian areas.
  3. In the third stage, lasting to the end of this year, state institutions will resume activities in Idlib.

Notice that for the completion of all three stages, the cooperation of militant groups is necessary. This is the point that may result in the partial or complete collapse of the demilitarization efforts – but that is not necessarily a failure.

South Front reports that pro-militant sources claim that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (the coalition affiliated with Jabhat al-Nusra, Al Qaeda in Syria) and some other groups, including the Islamic Turkistan Party (composed of die-hard Uyghur Muslims from China) have rejected the agreement. (It was originally reported that Jaish al-Izza, a Free Syria Army group, had also rejected it, but now that appears to be incorrect). Furthermore, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian Reconciliation warned after the Putin-Erdogan meeting that the White Helmets and members of Al-Nusra were still preparing a false-flag chemical attack to blame the Assad government. This is not surprising; after all, Syria is dealing with jihadi factions – literally terrorists – not with a mix of “moderate rebels” and a few bad apples as the Western narrative insists. By definition, terrorists are uncooperative to say the least, especially when asked to give up their weapons and let the state do its job.

Uyghur jihadis

© Radio Alwan
Uyghur jihadis: some shy, some not

If the information on the reaction of the terrorist groups is correct, the Turkey-sponsored and FSA-affiliated Jabhat al-Wataniya al-Tahrir (aka the National Front for Liberation) and Jaish al-Izza would be the only parties potentially willing to go along with the plan. In fact, Putin and Erdogan never expected or intended to make deals with groups everyone recognizes as radical – particularly with Al-Nusra, which was singled-out by Putin at the Sochi press conference, while Erdogan vowed to “clear these territories of radical elements”. Therefore, in the context of Idlib, when we hear Russia or Turkey discuss ‘moderate rebels’, they mean Turkish proxies.

Before the latest Sochi summit, Erdogan demanded a political solution to the situation in Syria, ostensibly for humanitarian reasons, when in reality he had three objectives:

  1. To salvage the forces in the area loyal to Turkey.
  2. To minimize the amount of refugees and jihadists crossing the border into Turkey.
  3. To retain as much influence on the future of Northern Syria as he could.
putin erdogan

Clearly, Putin understood that Turkey would not simply leave the region of its own accord, and thus the Idlib offensive would have risked a dangerous direct confrontation between states. So he agreed to proceed via the ‘political route’, fully aware that Turkey would then have to commit to join the fight against groups officially recognized as terrorists – even those Turkey directly or indirectly supported in the past – while pulling the reins on its proxies or even turning its guns against those who rebelled. Furthermore, Turkey takes another step towards Russia, Iran and Syria, and away from NATO and its machinations in the Middle East. Ultimately, the crucial point of the agreement is not how many militants will give up their weapons or not, but that Turkey is now on board with the liberators of Syria. One could say that Putin ‘gently coaxed’ Erdogan into doing the right thing.

Lose The Match, Knock Over The Board

Of course, there is another advantage to calling off a major offensive in Idlib: It makes it harder – though not impossible – for Western countries and their allies to protest, threaten, and retaliate against some imaginary war crime, and for terrorists to stage an attack on civilians, inviting such retaliation.

syria map

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.

Some geopolitical players bent on war seem to have taken the news hard enough to make significant mistakes. There are a number of observersincluding an advisor to Erdogan – who believe that Israel’s latest insanely criminal stunt, which resulted in the downing of a Russian Il-20 military plane and the death of 15 Russian servicemen, was a response to the Sochi agreement reached a few hours earlier. Indeed, there are barely any coincidences in politics, although we must not forget that on the same day (Monday, September 17th) the Russian Ministry of Defense presented evidence countering the Dutch report on the MH17 flight tragedy over Ukraine – a non-negligible event that may have inspired Machiavellian Israeli minds to distract the public from such data.

The tragedy of the Russian Il-20 was the product of typical duplicitous, cowardly Israeli military ‘strategy’. While on an illegal and unprovoked bombing operation against government targets in Syria – of which the Russian MOD was notified with less than a minute’s notice – four Israeli F-16 fighter jets flying at low altitude “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region… The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” an MOD statement said. The reaction of Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu was bitter:

“The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side,” the Russian minister said. “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”

Evidently, the Israelis were intentionally looking to cause trouble for the Russian military. However, judging by the amount of time they took to officially respond to an angry Russia, it appears they miscalculated and did not expect that a Russian aircraft would be lost, nor did they expect Russia blame them. This was Israel’s big mistake: Russia is likely to forcefully make difficult or even obstruct any future Israeli operations in or above Syria. Putin’s words about boosting the safety of Russian personnel in Syria and taking “steps that everyone will notice” point in that direction.

A bad situation was made worse when an arrogant Israeli response finally came. No apologies were offered; all Russia got was an expression of “sorrow” and much blaming of third parties:

To add insult to injury, the Israelis disputed the Russian version of the facts. Somebody is lying here, and I doubt it is the aggrieved party:

There is another interesting fact to this story, that seems to be rapidly slipping out of media reports. The French Navy’s frigate “Auvergne” was in the region at the time, and according to the Russian MOD, several missile launches were detected from that ship. At what were those missiles aimed? What role did the French Navy play in Monday night’s bombing of Syria and/or the loss of the Russian Il-20?

With diplomatic skill, Putin again managed to solve the ‘Turkey problem’ in Syria – at least for now. Unfortunately, it will be much harder to fix the ‘Israel/NATO problem’. The discourse and behavior of neocons and zionists shows that they have no interest whatsoever in a stable, prosperous Syria – or in a peaceful Middle East. While commenting on US politics, Putin once observed that is “difficult to have a dialogue with people who confuse Austria and Australia”. We could add that it is even harder to reason with people who confuse war with peace and truth with lies.

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Andrés Perezalonso

Andrés Perezalonso has been a contributing editor for Signs of the Times in both its English and Spanish versions since 2007. He holds a PhD in Politics, an MA in International Studies, a first degree in Communication, and has a professional background in Media Analysis. He thinks that understanding world events is not unlike detective work – paying attention to often ignored details and connections, and thinking outside of the box. He was born and raised in Mexico and currently resides in Europe.

As Twitter Purges Real Iranians, US-Backed MEK Cult Revealed to Run Anti-Iran Troll Farm – By Elliot Gabriel – MINT PRESS

Iran Social Media Bans
#YouAreBots

 

While “actual” Iranians face social media bans, countless bots and anti-government accounts belonging to the US-backed former terror group, MEK, have been permitted to run rampant across Twitter and other platforms.

TIRANA, ALBANIA – Iran is once again being subject to double standards as part of an ongoing effort to deprive it of access to media platforms where it can influence audiences overseas – in this case, on Twitter.

The effort has seen hundreds of Iranian accounts allegedly tied to Iranian pro-government “propaganda” efforts subject to a massive cull across platforms owned by Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc., and Google parent company Alphabet Inc.

Those purged from the platforms include profiles, channels, and accounts belonging to Iranian nationals who have been accused of involvement in alleged “coordinated manipulation” of information related to Middle Eastern events and ”divisive social commentary.”

 

On YouTube, this has included accounts belonging to media entities owned by Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, the state media corporation that operates such channels as the English-language PressTV and Spanish-language HispanTV.

Watch | Al Jazeera on Albania’s Iranian Regime Change Bot Factory

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/g-D5s_yCTQM?rel=0&showinfo=0&start=834

Yet while “actual” Iranians face bans from social media, countless bots and anti-government accounts belonging to U.S.-backed opposition groups posturing as the “Iranian people resistance” have been permitted to run rampant across the web.

 

#YouAreBots

Last month, nearly 800 accounts based in Iran were suspended by Twitter for allegedly violating the network’s policies, per an investigation alongside “industry peers” that allowed the social media giants a better “understanding of these [Iranian] networks.” Twitter hasn’t been forthcoming about the methods it used to investigate the networks tied to such alleged “Iranian interference,” but users including patriotic university student SeyedMousavi7 and Press TV journalist Waqar Rizvi were among those suspended.

On Sunday, Foreign Minister Zarif directly addressed Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey in a tweet aiming to highlight the contradiction:

Hello @Jack. Twitter has shuttered accounts of real Iranians, incl TV presenters & students, for supposedly being part of an ‘influence op’. How about looking at actual bots in Tirana used to prop up ‘regime change’ propaganda spewed out of DC? #YouAreBots”

Another tweet by Iranian legislator Amirhossein Ghazizadeh Hashemi addressed to the Twitter chief said:

You suspended my official account as MP of Iran for my violation of not determined twitter rules, but why you have not blocked bots of MEK in Tirana, a group that killed 17000 Iranian people, used to prop up ‘regime change’ propaganda? #YouAreBots”

The tweet followed a report by Al Jazeera English which detailed how monitors and researchers were able to pinpoint a sharp uptick in a trend of actual social media manipulation.

 

The Wizard Behind the “Resistance” Curtain – Maryam Rajavi and the MEK Cult

The report connected the growing phenomenon to the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) or People’s Mojahedin Organization of Iran (PMOI), a cultish group of Iranian exiles that was listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. until 2012 and have been based in a camp outside the Albanian capital, Tirana, since the U.S. began openly backing it in 2013.

The group has long enjoyed the backing of the Iranian government’s enemies, ranging from toppled dictator Saddam Hussein to Israel and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Hiding behind various front groups like the France-based “parliament-in-exile,” The National Council of Resistance of Iran, the MEK has sought to depict itself as a representative, democratic coalition that speaks for all of Iran’s religious, ethnic, and political groups proportionately” and is committed to a secular, pro-market, and free Iran.

MEK Maryam Rajavi and Rudy Giuliani

The group has paid a number of top Trump administration officials to speak at its functions and echo its calls to enact a “regime change” in Tehran, including former New York City Mayor and top White House lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, and National Security Advisor John Bolton, among a long list of U.S. lawmakers and officials.

Yet the group, which have also been described as “skilled manipulators of public opinion,” are said by ex-members to tolerate little internal dissent and are seen by many as little more than a well-funded, mafia-style cult commanded by self-styled “Iranian President-in-Exile” Maryam Rajavi and backed by her friends across Western and Gulf capitals.

Some who escaped the MEK and remain stranded in Tirana spoke to Al Jazeera and described the manner in which the cult orchestrated what appeared to be a trending wave of support for the group and its anti-regime message toward the end of last year, when Iranians took to the streets to protest adverse economic conditions largely caused by a mixture of domestic legislation and intense pressure by Washington.

Much of this trend was clearly fueled by bots – accounts that are often fraudulent and behave in an automated fashion, amplifying messages through swarm-like behavior such as retweeting, liking, and republishing videos and articles posted alongside hashtags such as #FreeIran and #IranRegimeChange.

In many cases these trends – which sought to focus, variously, on the plight of Iran’s national or religious minority groups ranging from Kurds to Christians, women’s rights groups, and dissidents –grew as a direct result of work by MEK members toiling away in an Albanian troll farm to boost their group’s online propaganda.

Former MEK militant Hassan Heyrani told the outlet:

Overall I would say that several thousand accounts are managed by about 1,000-1,500 MEK members … It was all very well organized and there were clear instructions about what needed to be done.”

Another former “keyboard warrior,” Hassan Shahbaz, added:

Our orders would tell us the hashtags to use in our tweets in order to make them more active … It was our job to provide coverage of these protests by seeking out, tweeting and re-tweeting videos while adding our own comments.”

 

Useful Tools in the Age of Trump

Journalist, writer and scholar Azadeh Moaveni told Al Jazeera that the 2016 election of former real estate mogul Donald Trump, who surrounded himself during his campaign with a range of zealous anti-Iran and pro-Israel hawks, was a turning point in such anti-IRI media operations.

“Once it became clear that there would be heightened hostility with Iran, there was a profusion of new accounts, anonymous accounts who were single-mindedly and purposefully going after people who wrote about, talked about Iran with nuance,” she noted.

Whether the report, or Iran’s demands, will have any impact on the continued backing of MEK by Iran’s opponents remains yet to be seen. In the last year alone, a bevy of U.S. figures including late Senator John McCain, former FBI Director Louis J. Freeh, and various senators have visited the Rajavi cult’s compound in Albania as U.S. rhetoric against Iran’s “regime” has escalated and the U.S. has unilaterally withdrawn from the six-party Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or nuclear accord.

In the meantime, social media networks like Twitter and Facebook have squirmed as the same U.S. lawmakers have sought to crack down on alleged Russian and Iranian “interference” online.

Without a doubt, the troll farms of the MEK will remain an important weapon in the arsenal of those seeking to manufacture the illusion of widespread anti-government fervor in an Iran under the gun of economic sanctions, media terrorism, and the low-intensity warfare of sustained “regime change” efforts.

Top Photo | Iranians surf the Internet at a cafe in Tehran, Iran, Sept, 17, 2013. Ebrahim Noroozi | AP

Elliott Gabriel is a former staff writer for teleSUR English and a MintPress News contributor based in Quito, Ecuador. He has taken extensive part in advocacy and organizing in the pro-labor, migrant justice and police accountability movements of Southern California and the state’s Central Coast.

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STUNNING DOUBLE AMBUSH BY AF INTEL IN HOMS REVEALS AMERICAN CRIMINAL CONDUCT; ATTACK ON LATAKIA STILL MUDDLED – By Ziad Fadel

HOMS:

If you want proof of American criminal conduct in Syria, look no further than the events of yesterday when a group of ISIS grubs set off from American-occupied Al-Tanf on motorcycles in the direction of the Western Plantations with their goal being to reinforce ISIS positions near Al-Raqqa (via the Abyadh Al-Tuwaynaan Valley) where the other pro-American SDF is located.  Talk about playing two sides against the other!  The ambush was sprung about 30 kms west of Palmyra (Tadmur) by elements of Air Force Intelligence-Special Operations Units.  The terrorist rodents were especially vulnerable on their motorcycles as expertly positioned commandos opened light arms fire at them killing two instantly and forcing another two to wipe out on the road.  The two taken into custody started warbling like nightingales explaining their relationship with American officers at Al-Tanf.

http://wikimapia.org/#lang=en&lat=33.437888&lon=38.835554&z=14&m=w&search=al-tanf

The second ambush took place in the area of Al-Furoo’ east of Palmyra by about 70 kms.  There, the terrorists were not so interested in confrontation.  They surrendered to the Security Services commando units and gave up 10 motorcycles, weapons and ammo, 146 rolls of hashish, 14 bags of Captagon which amounted to 10,000+ tablets.  I guess they were going to cater a party. They are now warbling like starlings.

Now that a new prime minister in Iraq is in office, we are hoping the Baghdad government stops affording the U.S. privileged status permitting it to supply and occupy the Al-Tanf base.  The Hashemites in Jordan are a lost cause, but, Iraq is not yet that far gone.  There is still hope that Muqtadaa Al-Sadr and his allies will re-assume their mantles as Iraq’s only truly populist movement.  The U.S. has been truly injured by the fall of Al-‘Abbaadi’s government after so many lobbying efforts – efforts to intervene in Iraqi elections.

___________________________________________

LATAKIA:

The night before yesterday, somebody fired some rockets at a military research-and-development center in Latakia.  Syrian radar picked up the approaching missiles and fired Pantsir anti-missile rockets at them, bringing most down, according to sources in Latakia.  Yet, the atmosphere is still somewhat murky.

That evening, amidst the melee, an Ilyushin aircraft carrying 14 crew members and enlisted men was downed in the Mediterranean near the coast of Syria.  A search and rescue operation is now in progress.

This is what happened.  Nobody was expecting any attack by the Zionist Settler State.  There were no weapons being transferred to HZB from any research center in Latakia City.  The Humaymeem AB was on alert, as usual, but, as I wrote, there were no causes for concern.  A French missile boat was in the international waters outside Syria’s coastline and there was no expectation it would fire at any target, especially where there was a danger of striking Russia’s military.

Russia detects missile launches from French frigate off Syria’s coast in Mediterranean

(Photo:  French Navy)

The French ship was the Auvergne, an Aquitaine Class ship.  If any of you remember your history, it was at Aquitaine (then northwards to Poitier and Tours) where Charles Martel blunted the Umayyad Caliphate’s effort to conquer Europe from Andalusia in 732 AD. Well, anyways, there is a lot of history behind that name.

Zionist military planners noted that the Il-20 aircraft was scheduled to depart Humaymeem at around 5 p.m.  It would be the perfect cover.  The attack on the research center was approved by Prime Minister Mileikowski (a/k/a Netanyhu).  When the Il-20 was in the air, so were 3 F-16s.  The idea was to shadow the transport aircraft and fire at the base.  But, what happened became a nightmare.

Syrian air defense units were not told about the Russian airplane.  When Zionist aircraft appeared on their screens, they perfunctorily fired at the targets.  It is evident from the swift Zionist retreat that there was realization that Syrian air defense missiles could hit the Russian aircraft.  And they did, causing the Ilyushin to crash into the Mediterranean.

Initial Russian reaction was to blame the French who were accused of firing cruise missiles at Latakia even though the “false flag” CW event had not taken place.  This could mean that the CW event was scheduled to take place on Monday, but, that the Turkish-Russian agreement at Socchi aborted that.  It is possible and it is an indication of just how incompetent the French really are.

It is also obvious now that the Kremlin is fuming over this.  Mileikowski constantly crows about how much coordination exists between Russian and Zionist forces in Syria.  This was an example of how treacherous these Zionists really are.

Target Syria Will a new war be the October Surprise? – By Philip Giraldi – THE UNZ REPORT

BlogviewPhilip Giraldi Archive

Syrian Army

It’s official. The Syrian Army assisted by Russian air support is closing in on the last major pocket of terrorists remaining in the country in the province of Idlib near Aleppo. The United States, which has trained and armed some of the trapped gunmen and even as recently as a year ago described the province as “al-Qaeda’s largest safe haven since 9/11,” has perhaps predictably warned Syria off. The White House initially threatened a harsh reaction if the Bashar al-Assad government were to employ any chemical weapons in its final attack, setting the stage for the terrorists themselves to carry out a false flag operation blamed on Damascus that would bring with it a brutal response against the regime and its armed forces by the U.S., Britain and France.

In support of the claims relating to chemical weapons use, the Trump Administration, which is itself illegally occupying part of Syria, is as usual creating a bogus casus belli. U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said in a news conference that “This is a tragic situation, and if they [Russia and Iran] want to continue to go the route of taking over Syria, they can do that. But they cannot do it with chemical weapons. They can’t do it assaulting their people and we’re not going to fall for it. If there are chemical weapons that are used, we know exactly who’s going to use them.” As with all Haley commentary, the appropriate response should be expressing wonderment at her ability to predict who will do something before it occurs followed by “Not quite Nikki.” She should familiarize herself with her own State Department’s travel warning on Syria which states explicitly that “tactics of ISIS, [al-Qaeda affiliate in Idlib] Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and other violent extremist groups include the use of…chemical weapons.”

Setting the stage for a false flag provoked attack on a country that does not threaten the United States was bad enough, but now Washington has apparently hardened its line, indicating that any use of the Syrian Army to clear the province of rebels will “…not be tolerated. Period.” Haley again spoke out at the United Nations, saying “…an offensive against Idlib would be a reckless escalation. The regime and its backers must stop their military campaign in all its forms.” In support of its inflexible stance, the White House has been citing the presence of a large civilian population also trapped in the pocket even though there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone in Washington actually cares about Syrian civilian casualties.

And there is always Iran just waiting to get kicked around, when all else fails. Haley, always blissfully ignorant but never quiet, commented while preparing to take over the presidency of the U.N. Security Council last Friday, that Russia and Syria “want to bomb schools, hospitals, and homes” before launching into a tirade about Iran, saying that “President Trump is very adamant that we have to start making sure that Iran is falling in line with international order. If you continue to look at the spread Iran has had in supporting terrorism, if you continue to look at the ballistic missile testing that they are doing, if you continue to look at the sales of weapons we see with the Huthis in Yemen — these are all violations of security council resolution. These are all threats to the region, and these are all things that the international community needs to talk about.”

And there is the usual hypocrisy over long term objectives. President Donald Trump said in April that “it’s time” to bring American troops home from Syria -once the jihadists of Islamic State have been definitively defeated. But now that that objective is in sight, there has to be some question about who is actually determining the policies that come out of the White House, which is reported to be in more than usual disarray due to the appearance last week of the New York Times anonymous op-ed describing a “resistance” movement within the West Wing that has been deliberately undermining and sometimes ignoring the president to further Establishment/Deep State friendly policies. The op-ed, perhaps by no coincidence whatsoever, appeared one week before the release of the new book by Bob Woodward Fear: Trump in the White House, which has a similar tale to tell and came out on Amazon today.

The book and op-ed mesh nicely in describing how Donald Trump is a walking disaster who is deliberately circumvented by his staff. One section of the op-ed is particularly telling and suggestive of neocon foreign policy, describing how the White House staff has succeeded in “[calling out] countries like Russia…for meddling and [having them] punished accordingly” in spite of the president’s desire for détente. It then goes on to elaborate on Russia and Trump, describing how “…the president was reluctant to expel so many of Mr. Putin’s spies as punishment for the poisoning of a former Russian spy in Britain. He complained for weeks about senior staff members letting him get boxed into further confrontation with Russia, and he expressed frustration that the United States continued to impose sanctions on the country for its malign behavior. But the national security team knew better – such actions had to be taken to hold Moscow accountable.”

If the op-ed and Woodward book are in any way accurate, one has to ask “Whose policy? An elected president or a cabal of disgruntled staffers who might well identify as neoconservatives?” Be that as it may, the White House is desperately pushing back while at the same time searching for the traitor, which suggests to many in Washington that it will right the sinking ship prior to November elections by the time honored and approved method used by politicians worldwide, which means starting a war to rally the nation behind the government.

As North Korea is nuclear armed, the obvious targets for a new or upgraded war would be Iran and Syria. As Iran might actually fight back effectively and the Pentagon always prefers an enemy that is easy to defeat, one suspects that some kind of expansion of the current effort in Syria would be preferable. It would be desirable, one presumes, to avoid an open conflict with Russia, which would be unpredictable, but an attack on Syrian government forces that would produce a quick result which could plausibly be described as a victory would certainly be worth considering.

By all appearances, the preparation of the public for an attack on Syria is already well underway. The mainstream media has been deluged with descriptions of tyrant Bashar al-Assad, who allegedly has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people. The rhetoric coming out of the usual government sources is remarkable for its truculence, particularly when one considers that Damascus is trying to regain control over what is indisputably its own sovereign territory from groups that everyone agrees are at least in large part terrorists.

Last week, the Trump White House approved the new U.S. plan for Syria, which, unlike the old plan of withdrawal, envisions something like a permanent presence in the country. It includes a continued occupation of the country’s northeast, which is the Kurdish region; forcing Iran plus its proxies including Hezbollah to leave the country completely; and continued pressure on Damascus to bring about regime change.

Washington has also shifted its perception of who is trapped in Idlib, with newly appointed U.S. Special Representative for Syria James Jeffrey arguing that “. . . they’re not terrorists, but people fighting a civil war against a brutal dictator.” Jeffrey, it should be noted, was pulled out of retirement where he was a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) spin off. On his recent trip to the Middle East he stopped off in Israel nine days ago to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The change in policy, which is totally in line with Israeli demands, would suggest that Jeffrey received his instructions during the visit.

Israel is indeed upping its involvement in Syria. It has bombed the country 200 times in the past 18 months and is now threatening to extend the war by attacking Iranians in neighboring Iraq. It has also been providing arms to the terrorist groups operating inside Syria.

And Netanyahu also appears to be preparing his followers for a bit of bloodshed. In a recent ceremony, he boasted that “the weak are slaughtered” while “the strong” survive — “for good or ill.” Commentators in Israel noted that the words were very close to those used by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf in a chapter describing the historical inevitability of domination by the Aryan race. They also observed that Netanyahu, like Trump, also needs a war to free himself from his legal problems.

Taking the president, the U.N. Ambassador, the Israeli Prime Minister and the U.S. Special Representative for Syria at their words, it would appear that the Washington Establishment and its Israeli manipulators have narrowed the options for dealing with Syria and its regional supporter Iran to either war or war. Add to that the closing time window for doing something to ameliorate the Trump Administration’s panic over the impending midterm election, and it would seem that there is a certain inevitability regarding the process whereby the United States military will again be on the march in the Middle East.

Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is inform@cnionline.org.

 

The Real Problem For Syria’s Idlib Offensive is Turkey -By Andrés Perezalonso- Sott.net -SOTT

Noor i Alaa na prosvjedima protiv antiterorističke kampanje u Idlibu

© Twitter

After liberating the region of Daraa and the border with the Golan Heights in the south-west of the country, the Syrian Army has turned its attention to the northern province of Idlib, the last stronghold of ‘rebels’ – these ones backed by Turkey – and Al Qaeda-affiliated terrorist groups. The ‘Battle for Idlib’ has been expected for weeks – yet against all talk of a build-up of troops, and the alarmist declarations of Western powers, the offensive may take some time to begin. When it does, it may more resemble a careful, patient and strategic hunt rather than ‘shock-and-awe’.

The Independent‘s Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk is, as far as we know, the first and only Western journalist to have assessed the situation from the front-line of Idlib. Rather than witnessing the 100,000 Syrian soldiers said to be amassing for the assault, he came across a contingent of some 200 Syrian soldiers with no armored vehicles or heavy weaponry. Not much else out of the ordinary was to be seen that would indicate that the storming of Idlib was imminent. Only preparatory Russian and Syrian airstrikes targeting jihadi positions between Hama and Idlib have been reported.

It was to be expected that the attack would not begin before presidents Vladimir Putin of Russia, Hassan Rouhani of Iran and Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey met in Teheran on the 7th of September to discuss a common strategy for Syria. Before and after the meeting, the government of Turkey echoed the West’s opposition to the offensive in the name of avoiding civilian casualties. This is of course a hypocritical narrative, as the US showed no such concern when leveling Raqqa last year with the help of Kurdish militias; and Turkey is illegally occupying the northern area of Syria around Afrin, and has a vested interest in protecting Jabhat al-Wataniya al-Tahrir (aka the National Front for Liberation), a ‘rebel’ coalition it created and which controls about half of the territory of Idlib (the other half is in the hands of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, the latest incarnation of Al-Qaeda-in-Syria).

military map northern Syria Idlib

© Suriye Gundemi
Military situation in northern Syria: September 2018

For a high resolution image of the map above, see here.

Turkey’s original reason for stepping into Syria was to drive Kurdish militias away from its borders. While this has worked so far, it has also had interesting consequences. One is that Turkey has placed the US forces in the northeast of Syria in a difficult position by being unable to defend their Kurdish proxies against a fellow NATO member. Another is that the Kurds and the central Syrian government have found common cause, besides defeating ISIS, in ridding the north of Turkish forces. What both of these effects have in common is that they obstruct America’s infamous ‘Plan B‘ of slicing a Kurdistan out of Syria in order to turn it into a US/Israel client state.

Turkey, Russia and Iran are joining forces in regards to certain key issues apart from Syria – for example, in ditching the dollar for their commercial transactions. While Syria is determined to recover the entirety of its territory, it naturally does not need a direct confrontation with Turkey. Therefore, if there is no hurry to start the ‘Battle of Idlib’, it is probably because Russia, Syria and Iran are attempting to reach a compromise with Turkey.

As they buy time, the liberators of Syria will be especially interested in avoiding any inconvenient escalations that disturb the process of reconciliation. This would explain in part why Russia has been insisting so much that the threats of US and European officials – John Bolton, Mike Pompeo and Nikki Haley among others – to retaliate against Syria if it uses chemical weapons, will be met with a false-flag provocation organized by terrorist groups and the White Helmets in Idlib, as they did earlier this year in Douma. As I write this, the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria has announced that the White Helmets have shot nine videos of a staged chemical attack in the town of Jisr al-Shughur. Russia has warned against such tricks in the past, but the amount of detail about the nature and timing provided on this occasion seems to be intended to discourage or postpone their publication by preemptively destroying their credibility, therefore disrupting a US/UK/French aggression on Syrian forces.

If and when ‘F.UK.US’ perform airstrikes against Syria, we will most likely see a repeat of the limp display we saw back in April, although the possibility of escalation is ever-present. Still, at this point in time what Turkey does next is more critical to the end of the Syrian war than anything American and European forces could do.

Unfortunately, Turkey is not making things easy for itself or its neighbors. The following video, dated September 11th, shows Turkish military convoys purportedly building up their forces inside Idlib and Aleppo.

By supporting terrorist groups in Syria, Erdogan has made a deal with the devil and will now have to pay the price. Sooner or later, either by force or diplomacy, Turkish forces will have to leave Syria. But when that happens, what will become of the remnants of the soon-to-be destroyed Jabhat al-Wataniya al-Tahrir and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham? What of the refugees? Will they cross the border into Turkey, even if it is without its consent? And once there, what will they do? It’s entirely possible that Turkey is being blackmailed by the USA and its Gulf allies: if it refuses to side with their agenda, it may find itself overrun by jihadis, just like Syria. Perhaps by now Erdogan has understood that helping to set your neighbor’s house on fire carries the risk of burning down your own.

Syrian rebel threatens Erdogan against ‘selling Idlib’

A militant from an unspecified group stationed in Idlib has issued a threat to Turkish President Recep Tayyip, warning that militants in northwestern Syria have dug a tunnel stretching into Turkey’s Hatay province.

He went on to explain that in the event of Erdogan “selling Idlib”, militants will use the tunnel to cross into Turkey, to potentially carry out attacks against civilians and security forces.

“Reyhanli [a town in Hatay province] is behind me. As you know, us [militants] from Ghouta are good at digging and since you’ve built a 960-kilometer border barrier… We want to tell you: if you sell Idlib or other opposition-held areas, we’re going to buy Reyhanli from you. I won’t give you more details, but this is your warning,” the militant said in video footage circulating on social media.

The video was published just days after a trilateral summit in Tehran, attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Iranian and Turkish counterparts, to discuss the situation in Idlib, ahead of the Syrian Army’s impending offensive.

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Andrés Perezalonso

Andrés Perezalonso has been a contributing editor for Signs of the Times in both its English and Spanish versions since 2007. He holds a PhD in Politics, an MA in International Studies, a first degree in Communication, and has a professional background in Media Analysis. He thinks that understanding world events is not unlike detective work – paying attention to often ignored details and connections, and thinking outside of the box. He was born and raised in Mexico and currently resides in Europe.

Russia helping Syria modernize its air defense system, ambassador says – By TASS

September 07, 20:51 UTC+3

Much is yet to be done because everything was in utter devastation, but certain results can already be seen, Alexander Kinshchak said

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© AP Photo/Hassan Ammar

DAMASCUS, September 7. /TASS/. Russia is helping Syria restore and modernized its air defense system, Russia’s Ambassador to that country, Alexander Kinshchak, told TASS on Friday.

“We are helping our Syrian partners to restore, modernize and boost the efficiency of the integrated air defense system,” he said when asked how well Syria is protected against possible airstrikes by Western nations.

“Much is yet to be done because everything was in utter devastation, but certain results can already be seen,” he said.

In late April, chief of the main operations directorate of the Russian General Staff, Sergei Rudskoi, said that Syria would soon receive new air defense systems and promised that Russian specialists would help the Syrian military to master them. He refrained from details of the systems, saying only that the S-125, Osa and Kvadrat systems used by the Syrian army had been restored and modernized with Russia’s assistance.

In late August, the Russian Defense Ministry warned about a possible provocation plotted in the Syrian Idlib governorate by militants under supervision of British special services. Thus, according to the ministry, militants were planning to simulate the use of chemical weapons against civilians by Syrian government troops to furnish the United States, the United Kingdom and France with a pretext to deliver an airstrike on Syrian government and economic facilities.

More:
http://tass.com/defense/1020544

Russia, Central Africa Sign New Military Cooperation Agreement – By Alex Gorka – Strategic Cultural Foundation

Russia, Central Africa Sign New Military Cooperation Agreement
Alex GORKA | 22.08.2018 | WORLD / Africa

Russia and the Central African Republic (CAR) signed a military cooperation agreement on August 21. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu and his CAR counterpart Marie-Noelle Koyara met on the sidelines of the Army 2018 defense expo outside of Moscow to finalize that agreement. According to the Russian defense chief, Central Africa “is a promising partner on the African continent.” The document covers arms shipments and personnel training. Central African officers will undergo training courses at Russian military academies and colleges. This year, Russia has already sent light arms, rocket launchers, and anti-aircraft guns for two battalions. It has 175 military and civilian instructors deployed in that country to train the personnel.

In mid-December, the United Nations granted Russia an exemption to the arms embargo on the CAR, paving the way for deliveries of weapons to that war-torn country that is still immersed in an internal conflict. The embargo is effective until Jan. 31, 2019.

The UN ranks the CAR as the least-developed country in the world despite its minerals reserves. Fourteen thousand UN peacekeepers are stationed within its borders, but the government, led by President Faustin-Archange Touadera, believes that that operation is ineffective. He has relied more on Russia’s help.

This agreement is part of that trend. Russia’s regional influence is increasing. The Democratic Republic of Congo has recently decided to revive its 1999 agreement on military cooperation with Russia. In April, Mozambique agreed to open its ports to Russian naval vessels. It was recently reported that Niger is interested in purchasing Russian helicopters and firearms, including grenade launchers. Russia and Guinea are working on a military agreement, which would include free access for Russian military ships to the country’s ports, training, and other security-related issues. Russia exports Mil Mi-8/17 and Mi-24/35 helicopters to Angola, Mali, Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, and Rwanda.

The Russian Federation has military partnerships with Cameroon, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria, Kenya, Burkina Faso, Uganda, South Sudan, Mozambique, and Angola. In 2017, Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir asked Russia to protect his country “from the aggressive acts of the United States.” All in all, Russia is responsible for 30% of all arms supplies to the region.

The military cooperation goes hand-in-hand with progress in other areas. In March, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov went on a five-day African tour to visit Namibia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Mozambique, and Ethiopia. He signed trade agreements with Angola and Mozambique and also strengthened diplomatic ties with Zimbabwe’s new government.

Russian companies are exploring the Darwendale platinum deposit, one of the largest in the world. Russia’s Alrosa is present in Angola, a country rich in diamonds. Moscow and Luanda are engaged in talks over cooperation in hydrocarbon production. Last October, Russia signeda $20 billion agreement to construct two nuclear power plants in Nigeria.It recently established a special relationship with Rwanda toreconnect Russia with the East African community.

Benin, Ethiopia, Guinea, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Zambia, among others, have all been recipients of Russian debt relief over the past decade. Russia is working with Zimbabwe’s and Guinea’s mining industries and also cooperates on nuclear power with Sudan.

Russia and the African Union (AU) are currently in the process of drafting a conceptual framework cooperation agreement. Moscow can offer its growingability to support peacekeeping operations and training for the African Union personnel, as well as the sharing of intelligence data about foreign terrorists with the African International data bank. The Russian Federation contributes to the UN peacekeeping operations in Western Sahara, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia, Sudan, and South Sudan.

Russiashowcased African business at the 2018 St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. It is set to host a Russian-African Union forum in 2019. According to Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov, the forum will roll out a comprehensive, strategic road map for more economic cooperation and a wide range of investment possibilities, plus effective ways of addressing regional security issues and improving public diplomacy in Africa.

Russia’s relationship with the Southern African Development Community is also on the rise.

The states of the region are seeking to diversify their foreign relationships. Moscow is helping them to achieve this goal, as it enjoys a reputation as a reliable and pragmatic partner that is able to weigh in on regional matters both diplomatically and militarily. It maintains good relations with everyone in the region, making Russia the right choice when seeking a partner for a peacekeeping operation. Russia’s burgeoning influence in sub-Saharan Africa is a part of broader picture, as its clout has grown immensely in the Middle East and North Africa.

The Afghan Quagmire Gets Deeper, Denser and Bloodier – By Brian CLOUGHLEY (Strategic Culture Foundation)

The Afghan Quagmire Gets Deeper, Denser and Bloodier

In April 1971 John Kerry, who served gallantly in Vietnam and was later Secretary of State, stood in front of a US Senate Committee and asked “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die in Vietnam? How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

Today, we could do with a John Kerry to ask the same question about the war in Afghanistan.

On August 5 it was reported that “a suicide bomber has killed three Czech NATO soldiers in an attack in eastern Afghanistan. The victims were targeted while on a routine foot patrol alongside Afghan forces, NATO officials said in a statement. A US soldier and two Afghan soldiers were wounded in the attack in Charikar, the capital of Parwan province.”

Just what is being achieved by Czech soldiers on fighting patrols 5,000 kilometres from home is not explained by any of the authorities responsible for their deployment — and thus for placing them in jeopardy of their lives — but the usual nauseating platitudes were promptly mouthed by some of them.

The Czech prime minister, Andrej Babis, declared that the dead soldiers were “heroes who fought against terrorism so far from home.” Well, he should know about operating far from home. Forbes lists him as being worth four billion dollars and owning “a Michelin-starred restaurant, La Paloma, in the French Riviera” which is no doubt some consolation to the relatives and friends of the men who were killed. Babis, of course, sent his “deepest condolences to their families,” as did the ever-ready General John Nicholson, the sixteenth commander in Washington’s seventeen years of war, who, never at a loss for futile banality, babbled that “Their sacrifice will endure in both our hearts and history and further strengthen our resolve.” What utter garbage.

The “sacrifice” of these Czech soldiers won’t be felt by any hearts other than those of their grieving families, and it is insulting to claim that it will. And their deaths won’t get even the tiniest footnote in history. As to “strengthening our resolve” — resolve to do what? — to carry on mouthing phoney inanities about the utter chaos in Afghanistan?

This tawdry exhibition of fake emotion sticks in the gullet — but it’s not as sickening as the observation in The Economist that the war’s “current cost — roughly $45 billion and around a dozen lives a year — is modest enough to invite little interest from Congress or the media. That suggests Mr Trump’s strategy is sustainable.”

The talented intellectuals of The Economist think that the deaths of a dozen American soldiers every year in the unwinnable Afghan War indicate that the policies of Trump and the Pentagon can be maintained indefinitely. What’s a dozen lives, after all?

Well, listen to me, you clever little intellectuals and you swaggering military strategists, because I’m going to tell you a few home truths.

The soldiers who have died — and those who are going to die —have relatives who love them. They have parents, brothers, sisters, wives, partners, children, all of whom suffer when the lives of their nearest and dearest are sacrificed by a bunch of no-hopers as part of a “modest” cost in a supposedly “sustainable strategy” in a country that is ungovernable.

The Costs of War Project at Brown University estimates that more than 100,000 people have died in the war in Afghanistan. They weren’t all soldiers, of course, because in conflicts like this, the civilian population always suffers from action by both militants and the armed forces involved. In July, the UN reported that 1,692 Afghan civilians were killed, and 3,430 injured in the first six months of 2018, which is the record for that period in the seventeen years of this catastrophe.

But let’s get back to the soldiers who are dying.

On August 9 it was finally acknowledged by the Kabul government that over twenty Afghan soldiers had been killed in an insurgent attack on August 3 in Uruzgan province. There were no US-NATO troops involved, so there has been little reporting of the disaster by the western media, and no mention of it whatever by NATO headquarters, but it is the most serious setback suffered by the Afghan Army for several months.

Consider what happens to the dependant families of dead Afghan soldiers: the widows are entitled to pensions, of course — but Afghanistan is the third most corrupt country in the world. Do you imagine for a moment that these anguished women receive a fraction of the tiny amount to which they are entitled? Of course they don’t. Usually, they don’t get a bean, because the money is stolen by crooked and heartless government officials. What have you to say to that, General Nicholson? Does it strengthen your resolve to do anything?

As reported by the Japan Times, “Help for Afghan Heroes, an Afghan non-profit organization supporting 5,000 families of wounded or dead security forces, said corruption is a key reason many women do not receive assistance.” Nasreen Sharar, special projects officer for the group, said that “they are asked to pay a bribe to get the application processed and they often don’t have the money.”

Of course they don’t have the money. They are just tiny inconsequential and stricken blobs in a “sustainable strategy” that costs $45 billion and “around a dozen lives a year.”

Hashratullah Ahmadzai, spokesman for Kabul’s Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs, Martyrs and Disabled, told Arab News “We are in a state of war. The number of women who become widows is increasing. Those who fight on the government side and those on the side of the Taliban and the militants have wives and mothers too. People on both sides suffer and women on all sides are affected more than anyone in this war.”

But what about the Czech army soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan? The western media carried the 130 word Reuter‘s report about their deaths, and then forgot all about them, which makes a sick joke of Nicholson’s pompous pronouncement that “Their sacrifice will endure in both our hearts and history.”

They were Staff Sergeant Martin Marcin, 36, and Corporals Kamil Benes, 28, and Patrik Stepanek, 25, about whose deaths the Czech Defence Minister Lubomir Metnar declared that “We have witnessed a tragedy that can hardly be prevented when you serve in the army.” I would really like to be able to put that grubby politician on a patrol in Afghanistan, along with the intellectuals of The Economist and all the other smart-assed commentators to whom soldiers’ lives and grieving widows mean nothing.

Not that the Czech government told us much about the widows or other relatives of the soldiers Mr Metnar sent to die in Afghanistan. All that was reported by Czech Radio was “One leaves behind a widow and a three-month-old baby.”

At least, she’ll probably be paid her pension, unlike so many widows of Afghan Army soldiers who also died for… What?

In all the years of useless conflict in Afghanistan the western media has never listed the names of Afghan Army soldiers killed in action, because these soldiers don’t matter in the greater scheme of things — the “sustainable strategy” — in which they are but inconsequential pawns, as are all the civilians who are killed by bombing, whether on the ground by the Taliban, or from the sky by Afghan-US-NATO airstrikes.

The BBC reports that “Since President Trump announced his Afghanistan strategy . . . the number of bombs dropped by the US Air Force has surged dramatically. New rules of engagement have made it easier for US forces to carry out strikes against the Taliban” and this surge in aerial blitzing has certainly had an effect.

In the first six months of 2018 the UN documented “353 civilian casualties (149 deaths and 204 injured) from aerial attacks, a 52 per cent increase from the same period in 2017. The mission attributed 52 per cent of all civilian casualties from aerial attacks to the Afghan Air Force, 45 per cent to international military forces, and the remaining three per cent to unidentified Pro-Government Forces.”

While Afghan and foreign air forces blitz the country, and the Taliban and other militants wreak havoc with their constant attacks, all that happens politically is that corruption thrives and the murderously criminal vice-president, Abdurrashid Dostum, returns from self-imposed exile to create further chaos. The place is ungovernable, and the foreigners should get out, now.

As John Kerry said, almost fifty years ago: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”


Ten Years After Georgia, NATO Still Pushes War – By Strategic Culture Foundation

Ten Years After Georgia, NATO Still Pushes War

On the tenth anniversary this week of the Russo-Georgian War, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev issued a serious, albeit commonsensical, warning. He said the proposed membership of Georgia in the US-led NATO military alliance could result in a “horrible conflict”.

However, Western news media sought to portray Medvedev’s cautionary words as conveying a sinister intent. Britain’s Independent headlined: “Russia threatens [sic] ‘horrible’ conflict if Georgia joins NATO”.

Other news outlets, such as Reuters and Associated Press, did not go as far as using the word “threatens”. But their implied tone relaying Medvedev’s remarks was one of Russia flexing its muscles with intimidation towards the South Caucasus state.

That mischievous insinuation fits in with the wider Western narrative of Russia’s alleged “malign activity” and “threatening posture” towards Eastern European countries in the Baltic, Balkans and Ukraine.

Both the United States and European Union this week reiterated accusations that Russia was illegally occupying Georgian territory owing to Moscow’s support for the two breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which border with Georgia in the South Caucasus region.

To mark the 10th anniversary of the five-day war in August 2008, the foreign ministers from Poland, the Baltic states and Ukraine’s Kiev regime were reportedly in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi to demonstrate their solidarity over what they called “Russian aggression”.

Georgia is continually cited – along with Ukraine – by American and European politicians as two examples that purportedly prove Russian malfeasance, and thereby justify the relentless buildup of NATO forces along Russia’s Western flank. In other words, Georgia and Ukraine are cause célèbre for NATO’s existence, and for the American and European policy of sanctions against Russia.

Indeed, both Georgia and Ukraine have been cordially invited to join the NATO alliance. The fast-track invitation was reiterated at the NATO summit in Brussels last month where the two countries were hosted as guests of honor by the 29-member bloc.

Subsequently, following the NATO summit, Russian President Vladimir Putin repeated Russia’s well-known opposition to such a further expansion of the US-led military alliance. The proposed additions of Ukraine and Georgia could potentially lead to the installation of American missiles and warplanes smack on Russia’s borders. Putin said that Russia would respond vigorously to such a move, although he did not specify what the “consequences” would entail.

Similarly, Dmitry Medvedev issued a warning this week regarding Georgia and NATO.

Nevertheless, Russia’s reasonable position of perceiving NATO’s expansion as an offensive threat is bizarrely distorted and turned on its head by Western governments and media.

By merely pointing out its grievance stemming from US-led military forces moving ever-closer to its national territory, astoundingly, Russia is portrayed in Western media as the one that is making the threats. It’s quite a feat of mental engineering.

If we listen to Medvedev’s words, he is patently not conveying any sinister intent, as Western media tried to make out.

“There is an unresolved territorial conflict… and would they bring such a country [Georgia] into the [NATO] military alliance?” said Medvedev. “Do they understand the possible implications? It could provoke a horrible conflict.” 

The Russian premier is simply stating what should be an obvious fact: namely, that NATO membership by Georgia in the midst of a territorial dispute with its pro-Russian neighbors, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, would lead to a dangerous conflict.

What Western governments and news media need to do is critically examine the whole premise of NATO’s eastwards expansion since the end of the Cold War in 1991.

That expansion violated commitments given by American leaders to Russian counterparts at the end of the Cold War, first by George Bush Senior and later Bill Clinton.

It is precisely the doubling membership of NATO based mainly on the absorption of former Soviet countries that has so alarmed Russia about military encirclement. Given the relentless anti-Russian rhetoric out of Washington and some of its European allies casting Russia as an enemy it is by no means alarmist that Moscow sees the entire trajectory over the past two decades as a strategic offensive.

Recall too that existential threats to Russia over the past two centuries have come from an eastward expansion of armies out of Europe, under Napoleon and then Nazi Germany. Given the loss of up to 30 million of its people from Nazi imperialist aggression, it is perfectly understandable that Russia today is deeply wary of any military advancement on its territory. And NATO fits that nefarious pattern.

On the specific cases of Ukraine and Georgia, NATO has been very much the instigator of conflicts there, yet it is NATO that poses now as a defender. That inversion of reality is made possible in part because of Western news media distorting historical events, just as they did again this week with regard to reporting Medvedev’s comments on NATO and Georgia.

Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, Ukraine and Georgia have been solicited by Washington, the EU and NATO, as with other former Soviet states. That soliciting has created tensions and instability, not least because that was supposed to be what American leaders said they wouldn’t do.

The conflict in Ukraine came about from American and European Union support for a coup against an elected government in February 2014. The CIA and NATO were also instrumental. The ongoing conflict in Ukraine between the NATO-backed Kiev regime and pro-Russian separatists in the Eastern self-declared republics of Donetsk and Luhansk is not due to Russian aggression; it is a result of the irresponsible and provocative intervention by Washington and its European allies.

The West accuses Russia of “annexing” Crimea, an historical part of Russia, whenever it was the West that allowed a faction of Neo-Nazi Ukrainians to annex Kiev and its government. The ongoing four-year conflict in Ukraine which has killed over 10,000 people is a direct result of NATO imperialist meddling.

On Georgia, after the Western-backed so-called Rose Revolution in 2004 which brought the mercurial Mikhail Saakashvili to power, the former Soviet Republic suddenly became a staunch proponent of NATO. Saakashvili was enthusiastically supported by Washington with weapons and finance. He also made the retaking of Abkhazia and South Ossetia into Georgian territory his big mission. The three neighboring states broke up after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia requested the Russian Federation to recognize their statehoods in March 2008, prompted by the American and European recognition of Kosovo in the Balkans as a self-declared state during the previous month in February 2008. Kosovo broke away from Serbia largely as a result of the military intervention of NATO. Again, NATO was setting the precedent, not Russia.

At Washington’s bidding, Georgian leader Saakashvili sent NATO-backed troops to attack Tskhinvali, the capital of South Ossetia on August 8, 10 years ago this week. The rapid intervention by Russian troops along with Abkhaz forces repelled the Georgian offensive. Wisely, NATO declined to push its support for Saakashvili any further. The war was over in five days, resulting in the formal recognition by Russia of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Today, the US and Europe continue to accuse Russia of illegally occupying Abkhazia and South Ossetia and of violating Georgia’s sovereignty.

Western media make an upside-down analogy with Ukraine. The real analogy is that both Georgia and Ukraine have been destabilized by NATO expansionism, not Russian.

But such are the lies, distortions and self-serving propaganda churned out over and over by Western media in the service of their governments and NATO, there is an appalling failure in the West to learn from history.

When Russia warns that NATO’s expansion is risking horrible conflict that is a straightforward, reasonable observation which is borne out by history. Tragically, thousands of lives have been destroyed by not heeding this warning.

And thousands more – perhaps millions – continue to be put in danger because the Western media willfully misinterpret and misrepresent Russia.

Photo: Twitter

Trump’s Sanctions Admit the End of US Military Dominance – By Tom LUONGO – (Strategic Culture Foundation)

Trump’s Sanctions Admit the End of US Military Dominance
Tom LUONGO | 08.08.2018 | FEATURED STORY

On March 1st Russian President Vladimir Putin changed the geopolitical game. During his speech he unveiled new weapons which instantly made obsolete much of the U.S military’s physical arsenal.

And the panic in Washington was palpable.

Since that speech everything geopolitical has accelerated. The US government under Trump has shifted its strategies in response to this. No longer were we threatening North Korea with military invasion.

No, Trump sat down with Kim Jong-un to negotiate peace.

On Russia, Iran, China, Turkey, Venezuela and even Europe Trump’s war rhetoric has intensified. Trump is only talking about economic sanctions and tariffs, however, leveraging the dollar as his primary weapon to bring countries to heel.

There’s no hint of US invasion, no matter how much John Bolton whispers in his ear or Bibi Netanyahu bangs his shoe on the table.

Why?

Because US military dominance has always been enforced not by technology but by logistics. Those bases, while expensive, are also the real strength of the US military. They are a financial albatross which the ‘Axis of Resistance’ is using to win a war of attrition against US hegemony.

And now, Putin’s new weapons rendered them obsolete in a moment’s time. Once fully deployed there will be no going back to the old world order.

So, that’s why Trump talked to North Korea yesterday and why he will talk with Iran tomorrow.

The End of Leverage

With his latest escalation — “Anyone doing business with Iran will not do business with the US” – Trump is waving the White Flag on using the military to enforce his vision of world order.

This is the Nuclear Option of Financial Warfare. Going nuclear is a losing strategy because you have to back it up.

In the same way Trump threatened fire and brimstone on North Korea, but ultimately went to Singapore.

So, what’s he going to do? Sanction Apple for selling an iPhone in Tehran?

Because that’s what’s implied in that statement.

The cost of compliance to these sanctions will cripple banks and businesses the world over. We saw a preview of it in April when Trump tried to cut Rusal from the aluminum market.

In that same tweet, though, he revealed his hand, finally, that he wants world peace.

But, like the Beauty Queens he used to manage, Trump says a lot of things people want to hear, but does he really know how to go about bringing that dream to reality.

Financial warfare is just as devastating as physical warfare. And a peace won through subjugation via the sword or the futures contract is still a false one. It wasn’t won through respect and acquiescence to all parties’ needs, it was done through the worst kind of bullying.

It will have blowback.

At this point it is hard to tell whether Trump understands this or not.

Of course, this erratic behavior is exactly his plan. It is the Art of the Deal on the geopolitical stage.

But, the Art of the Deal requires leverage and Trump has only financial leverage.

And financial leverage can only erode over time. Every transaction made in another currency, every bank that survives being sanctioned by the US erodes that leverage a little more.

By going nuclear Trump has told the entire world he will destroy it to save it.

And if he’s serious it means today everyone with three brain cells to rub together is making alternate plans.

What looks invincible today, the dollar, is obsolete tomorrow. Currencies are fungible. They are easily cross-shopped in the end.

What most geopolitical commentators choose to forget in their strategic calculations is that the post-WWII institutional order has been maintained by the interplay between US financial dominance via the IMF, the BIS and the World Bank and the military logistical archipelago of bases and carrier strike groups circling the globe.

Nicolas Maduro in Venezuela is trying to rebuild his country without resorting to the extortion rackets of the global banking system via the Petro and Sovereign Bolivar. The jury is out whether he’ll be successful. If he is, expect the US to put more sanctions on Venezuela. But, since there are no dollars in country, what would be the point?

Again, you can’t force someone to use your currency.

Trump realizes the military portion of this system is aligned all wrong. It’s wasteful and it has destroyed the US back home. He wants it to end.

But, at the same time, he wants America to win in all deals and retain financial dominance through the energy trade. So, destroy Venezuela, Iran and stymie Russia to allow the US to keep control of the oil and gas trade via the petrodollar.

Moreover, I agree The problem is no one else in Washington D.C., Tel Aviv, New York, the City of London or Brussels has.

So, how does he make everyone happy while tearing down the parts of the world order he doesn’t like while using its remnants to shore up those he does?

By backing every demand Israel makes on Iran, that’s how. He placates the neocons in D.C. and Tel Aviv this way. But, he’s not fooling anyone really.

They are still convinced he’s not on their side and use independent means to put more pressure on Russia and him. They want control of the Congress after the mid-terms and need the narratives to hold through November.

Case in point, the recent announcement that the British government will demand extradition of the mythical Russian agents who poisoned the Skripals earlier in the year. There’s no proof, but the British Deep State continues on, to distract from reality.

The cries of treason for Donald Trump meeting with Vladimir Putin. The new sanctions bill introduced by Senator Lindsay Graham, said to throw everything at Putin to make him know the US is serious.

Like Putin hasn’t gotten that idea yet?

Trump is still being targeted for impeachment by shutting down dissent domestically (Alex Jones, Ron Paul) while he attempts to pursue a somewhat independent foreign policy.

And that’s why he has to go nuclear in his use of sanctions because Trump, despite all appearances, is not interested in any more Americans dying overseas for the dreams of the Empire. And he knows that’s what will happen if any military option is on the table with Iran.

There is little hope of the kind of makeover of US and European leadership Mr. Crooke feels is necessary to change the dynamic between the US and its geopolitical rivals. So, Trump will pursue this sanctions strategy to the bitter end.

Because, Iran, like Venezuela, Russia and China will not negotiate with someone who has nothing to offer except the back of his hand.

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