In-depth analysis: US protecting ISIS to weaken rivals, justify and expand indefinite US occupation of Syria – By Steven Chovanec(Insurge Intelligence) (SOTT)

manbij fighters

Fighters of the Euphrates Liberation Brigade, part of the Manbij Military Council, in Manbij, of the Syrian Democratic Forces. Syrian Democratic Forces recently captured the al-Omar oil fields of Deir Ezzor with support from ISIS

The dominant view of the US-led coalition against the Islamic State (ISIS), Operation Inherent Resolve, is that its fundamental goal is the defeat of ISIS.

And so, in the wake of the routing of ISIS from Iraq and Syria, the core justification for an ongoing US military presence in Syria is ensuring that no post-mortem ISIS insurgency arises.

That the US is unequivocally opposed to ISIS is simply taken for granted.

Yet a closer look at the history of US involvement shows that counterterrorism has been a lesser concern relative to geopolitical and strategic goals. Whenever the goals of expanding territorial control or weakening rivals conflicts with the goal of opposing ISIS, the entity was either ignored or even empowered in pursuit of these more paramount concerns.

In some ways, by providing a pretext for extended military operations on foreign soil, and by helping to diminish the military might of the Syrian regime and its allies, some coalition officials have seen the Islamic State as a potentially beneficial phenomenon to the wider ends of weakening the Syrian state and opposing Iranian influence in the Levant.

Leveraging the Caliphate

In 2015, ISIS executed an unprecedented advance in Syria.

Audio leaks would later surface of then Secretary of State John Kerry explaining that the Obama administration saw this expansion as beneficial to the US position.

Seeing that this could be used to pressure Assad, the threat of state-collapse was something to be “watched” and “managed,” rather than deterred. “We were watching,” Kerry said:

“… and we know that this was growing… We saw that Daesh was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage – that Assad would then negotiate.”

Yet this was not simply a case of exploiting events that were entirely out of control. At this time, Obama’s regional allies had been conducting major influxes of support to jihadist factions among the rebels, including ISIS, for years in their bid to oust Assad.

US intelligence oversaw and was well aware of these policies. As Kerry’s observations suggest, the motive was that with “Daesh growing in strength”, the US military would be able to “manage” this development while the expansion of ISIS would mean that “Assad would then negotiate.”

This all changed when Russia, in response to the expanding ISIS movement, intervened. With Russia in the game, regime-change looked like an increasingly dwindling prospect.

Awkwardly, Russia was “carrying out more sorties in a day in Syria than the US-led coalition has done in a month,” while also targeting ISIS oil tankers, something the US-led coalition was reluctant to do – to the point that large convoys of oil trucks carrying ISIS oil were able to operate efficiently and in broad daylight.

The embarrassing contradictions of the “anti-ISIS” campaign were becoming difficult to explain away. Instead of being “degraded” or “destroyed”, ISIS was actually expanding during the bulk of the anti-ISIS campaign.

Durham University’s Dr. Christopher Davidson, one of the world’s leading scholars in Middle East affairs, has explained that:

“… the Islamic State was effectively on the same side as the West, especially in Syria, and in all its other warzones was certainly in the same camp as the West’s regional allies.”

Moreover, “on a strategic level, its big gains had made it by far the best battlefield asset to those who sought the permanent dismemberment of Syria and the removal of [the Iran-leaning] Nouri Maliki in Iraq.”

Therefore, the trick for the West was “trying to find the right balance between being seen to take action but yet still allowing the Islamic State to prosper.”

Citing a prophetic 2008 RAND Corporation report, Davidson explains that the “illusory campaign that would eventually need to be waged against the Islamic State” would therefore mainly consist of “the establishment of certain red lines” along a “contain and react approach.” This would “involve deploying perimeters around areas where there are concentrations of transnational jihadists,” while making sure to limit any action to only “periodically launching air/missile strikes against high-value targets.”

In other words, Russia’s intervention essentially called Washington’s bluff. Seeing this, and also seeing Syria increasingly in a position to reclaim those territories that ISIS had been so effective at denying them, it appeared that it was time to start getting serious about putting an end to the Caliphate.

Bombing Syria… Again

In terms of its proven effectiveness at weakening the militaries of Syria and Hezbollah, and of draining the resources of Syria’s sponsors, gaining maximum strategic benefit from Islamic State’s eradication would depend not only upon handing over administration of retaken territories to proxies on the ground, but also on ensuring that its guns were primarily being pointed towards Syria and Iran.

While ISIS was indeed fought on certain fronts where it sat upon lucrative energy resources and vital infrastructure, its fighters frequently operated away from allies and toward the front-lines of rivals.

For example, during ISIS’ 2015 surge, whose “threat” towards the Syrian Army (SAA) was to be “managed” by the US as leverage, they successfully encircled and besieged Syrian forces in Deir Ezzor.

deir ezzor map

© Newsweek
Figure 1. Map of Syria showing siege of Deir Ezzor (circled in blue) as of August 2015.

Deir Ezzor is important strategically because of its concentration of energy resources, housing the country’s single largest oil deposit, the al-Omar fields.

The only effective force fighting ISIS for the West was the Kurdish YPG militias, also called the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who were concentrated along the country’s northern borders. Therefore, the US “sphere-of-influence” that was to be carved from ISIS’ decline was geographically limited to the territory adjacent to this region.

Since the important Deir Ezzor resources were therefore “in-reach”, it was imperative that the Syrian Army did not persevere against the Islamic State and find themselves in a position to take them before the US-backed SDF were able to.

rojova manbij map

© Daily Kos
Figure 2. Map of US-backed SDF advances vs. ISIS (yellow) in Syria, from September 2015 to March 2016.

It is perhaps not very surprising that an apparent coalition attack on SAA positions in Deir Ezzor occurred only months after ISIS began besieging the city, killing three soldiers and wounding another thirteen. The US-led coalition bombings effectively assisted the ISIS advance at the expense of Assad’s forces.

While the US vehemently denied responsibility for the attack, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), a pro-opposition monitoring group that receives funding from Western governments, the jets that carried out the attack were “likely to be from the coalition.”

While this could admittedly be chalked up to a one-off mistake, it was not the only attack of its kind.

Almost a year later, as the Syrian government was still holding out against the siege, US-led coalition warplanes launched a much larger and sustained attack, dropping over a dozen airstrikes that reportedly killed dozens of Syrian soldiers while wounding at least a hundred others.

The attack was a major boost to the besieging Islamic State, as one British journalist described it: “in the immediate aftermath, Isis swarmed forward and cut the city in half,” further tightening the noose around the SAA while directly threatening their airborne supply-line.

With the facts this time undeniable, and eager to distance themselves from the obvious strategic advantage received, the US admitted culpability but denied it was anything more than a mistake. The media quickly accepted these denials, overlooking major inconsistencies that remained.

For instance, the official report revealed that the US had misled the Russians about the location of the intended strike, ignored intelligence reports saying Syrian soldiers were being targeted, and circumvented normal targeting procedures before the action was taken, downgrading the intelligence requirements needed to launch the strike.

As veteran journalist Gareth Porter pointed out, the “irregularities in decision-making [were] consistent with a deliberate targeting of Syrian forces.”

Another possible explanation pointed towards the open hostility that top Pentagon officials had expressed towards a joint US-Russia ceasefire deal agreed upon days earlier, which collapsed in the wake of the attack. The officials were specifically antagonistic towards requirements of cooperation with the Russian military, therefore displaying motive and ability.

A further possible explanation was provided by the director of Human Rights Watch. Using language not so different than John Kerry’s, and seemingly in agreement with such a strategy, he wrote on his Twitter handle asking: “As US kills 80 Syrian soldiers, is it sending Assad a signal for his deadly intransigence?”

What is certain is that for those committed to weakening Syria’s progress against ISIS in the much coveted northeastern “sphere-of-influence,” the coalition bombings securely tipped the balance of forces against the Syrian Army, who only managed to survive due to Russian air-power.

The strategic dimension of this is that as long as most of Deir Ezzor was occupied by ISIS, and not Syria, the option to retake it remained open. If Syria reestablished its control, taking the area would not be possible for the US-led coalition without a full declaration of war. Within this political dynamic then, the only way to make sure that the area remained “in-reach” of the coalition was by ensuring that the Islamic State remained in control and prevented further Syrian expansion.

And while conventional pundits would routinely dismiss the occurrence of such strategic considerations, they plainly did take place.

The US defense establishment thought-process was best described by the former director of the CIA, Michael Morell. Echoing Kerry’s mindset, Morell said the United States needed “to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria, we need to make the Russians pay a price,” specifically advocating the killing of Iranians and Russians operating in the country to do so. “I want to put pressure on [Assad],” he continued, “I want to put pressure on the Iranians, I want to put pressure on the Russians,” in order to make them “come to that diplomatic settlement.” Importantly, however, this was to be done “covertly,” he said, “so you don’t tell the world about it, right? You don’t stand up at the Pentagon and say, ‘we did this,’ but you make sure they know it in Moscow and Tehran.”

Indeed, these were the very possibilities being discussed among the highest policy-planning bodies within the administration.

John Kerry himself requested on multiple occasions that the US launch missiles at “specific regime targets”, in order to “send a message” to Assad to “negotiate peace.” Like Morell, Kerry suggested the US would not have to acknowledge the attacks, but that Assad “would surely know the missiles’ return address”.

Live to Fight Another Day

The strategic benefits afforded from ISIS were perhaps best described by Thomas Friedman. Writing in the New York Times, he explained that:

“America’s goal in Syria is to create enough pressure on Assad, Russia, Iran and Hezbollah so they will negotiate a power-sharing accord… that would also ease Assad out of power.”

Therefore, since the Islamic States’ “goal is to defeat Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Syria – plus its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies… we could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad.”

His assessment was that the US did not want to defeat ISIS straight away, because “if we defeat territorial ISIS in Syria now, we will only reduce the pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah.”

One way was to leave an open corridor for ISIS fighters to escape through, in areas where US-backed forces were battling the group.

This under-reported aspect of Obama’s official policy toward ISIS has quietly been kept in place during the Trump administration.

Prior to the battle in Mosul, top ISIS leaders were reportedly able to flee the city and find their way into Syria. As the battle was waged, regular ISIS units also apparently had open access to a similar escape route.

Sources described seeing hundreds of fighters fleeing Mosul and entering into Syria, heading towards Deir Ezzor and Raqqa. The strategic rationale was alluded to by Saudi Arabia’s foreign minister, when he told the media “if Daesh were forced out of Mosul, they were likely to go on to Syria.”

The Iraqi commander in charge of the operation would confirm that this indeed had happened. Citing intelligence information he received, the commander said that militants “were fleeing Mosul to Syria along with their families.”

Not long after this, ISIS launched an offensive in Deir Ezzor. The Guardian reported that the fighters breaking through government defenses were “primarily reinforcements coming over the border from Iraq’s Anbar province,” who then “broke through government lines, splitting its territory in half and taking control of the area where the WFP’s [World Food Program] airdrops landed.”

A year later, now during President Trump’s administration, the campaign against ISIS in Tal Afar, Iraq, ended in little over a week. Heralded as a testament to the strength of ISIS’ enemies, it soon became clear that the victory was only made possible by a major ISIS retreat.

In a direct reference to the ‘open corridor’ policy, the Iraqi commander helming the battle told reporters that “significant numbers of fighters were able to slip through a security cordon” and escape. More worryingly, this was made possible because “There was an agreement” with ISIS, according to Major General Najim al-Jobori, between the militant group and Iraqi Kurdish forces. Some of those retreating turned themselves in, while others “fled to Turkey and Syria.”

nyt article


The report is notable given evidence, previously reported by INSURGE, that elements of Iraqi Kurdish authorities had ties to ISIS in relation to the facilitation of oil sales.

Later in Syria, the situation came to a head when the Syrian Army marched eastward and finally broke the three-year-long siege in Deir Ezzor, placing the surrounding oil-fields within their reach at a time when the US-backed SDF were also marching closer.

The New York Times would describe how “a complex confrontation is unfolding, with far more geopolitical import and risk…

“The Islamic State is expected to make its last stand not in Raqqa but in an area that encompasses the borders with Iraq and Jordan and much of Syria’s modest oil reserves, making it important in stabilizing Syria and influencing its neighboring countries. Whoever lays claim to the sparsely populated area in this 21st-century version of the Great Game not only will take credit for seizing what is likely to be the Islamic State’s last patch of a territorial caliphate in Syria, but also will play an important role in determining Syria’s future and the postwar dynamics of the region.”

It was within this context that another agreement was struck ending the battle for Raqqa. The SOHR said it:

“… received information from Knowledgeable and independent sources confirming reaching a deal between the International Coalition and the Syria Democratic Forces in one hand; and the ‘Islamic State’ organization in the other hand, and the deal stated the exit of the remaining members of the ‘Islamic State’ organization out of Al-Raqqah city.”

The SOHR “confirms that this agreement has happened.”

It was later revealed that the agreement included some 50 trucks, 13 buses, 4,000 evacuees and all of the fighters’ weapons and ammunition.

Further information came to light when a high-level participant in the negotiations blew the whistle.

Brigadier General Talal Silo, a former SDF commander who acted as the spokesman for the US’ leading partner in the fight against ISIS, and who has since defected to Turkey, explained that an “agreement was reached for the terrorists to leave, about 4,000 people, them and their families,” all but five-hundred of whom were fighters. He said that a US official had “approved the deal at a meeting with an SDF commander.”

Even more damning, and apparently confirming that specific end-destinations were included within these kinds of agreements, the commander:

“… came back with the agreement of the US administration for those terrorists to head to Deir al-Zor.”

The ISIS evacuees protected under the US-approved agreement were to head towards ISIS-controlled areas “where the Syrian army and forces supporting President Bashar al-Assad were gaining ground.” Here, they would “prevent the regimes advance.” The BBC corroborated this, tracking the convoy to one of these very areas.

Reuters also reported that the front being fought by the Syrian government in Deir Ezzor had “turned into a major base for Daesh militants after the US-backed offensive drove them out of Raqqa.” The deal, in short, directly “boosted the US fight against the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad,” as Newsweek observed.

“According to the Americans,” Brig. Gen. Silo continued, “the regime army could reach Deir ez-Zor in six weeks” at first, “but when the regime army proceeded faster than expected, the US wanted the SDF to begin negotiations with Daesh.” The deal was then endorsed because the US “wanted a swift end to the Raqqa battle so the SDF could move on towards Deir al-Zor.”

Silo also claimed that the US and the SDF had made similar deals on at least 2 other occasions, corroborating a Syrian dissident and human rights activist who earlier claimed that a similar agreement had been reached during the battle for Mosul.

In terms of providing “a swift end to the Raqqa battle” and allowing the SDF to “move on towards Deir Ezzor”, the US-brokered deal proved a success. Just days later the SDF captured the al-Omar fields, the largest and most lucrative Syrian oil deposit.

But according to Elijah Magnier, journalist and war correspondent for the Kuwait-based Al Rai newspaper, after “the United States preceded Russia to the oil and gas Omar oilfield… ISIS then delivered [it] to the Kurds without any resistance.”

Validating this, an SDF spokesperson described how “our forces managed to liberate the fields without notable damages.”

Indeed, according to the SOHR, the “advancement achieved by the Syria Democratic Forces, in which they entered Al-Omar oilfield and took the control of it,” had occurred only “after a counter attack by ISIS [against the SAA], that kept the regime forces away of the outskirts and the vicinity of the field.” It was a tight race though, as “government forces were 2 miles away from the fields” at the time.

The remaining oil-fields and surrounding countryside east of the Euphrates were swept up by the SDF along similar lines, with ISIS voluntarily agreeing to evacuate the areas. SOHR’s sources further clarified “that ISIS prefer[s] handing over the organization-held areas to the SDF instead of handing them over to ‘the Shiite Militia’, in order to prevent the regime forces from advancing towards these area[s].”

As Elijah Magnier reported at the time that:

“US-backed forces advanced in north-eastern areas under ISIS control, with little or no military engagement: ISIS pulled out from more than 28 villages and oil and gas fields east of the Euphrates River, surrendering these to the Kurdish-US forces following an understanding these reached with the terrorist group.”

Furthermore, “this deal was an effective way to prevent the control by the Syrian army” given that “the United States seems determined to hold on to part of the Syrian territory, allowing the Syrian Kurds to control northeast Syria, especially those areas rich in oil and gas.”

Protecting the Pretext

The lines between Russia and the United States were therefore cut in two by the Euphrates; the SDF to the east, the Syrian Army to the west.

As ISIS’ Caliphate reached its final demise, the US established new rules of engagement, announcing it would not allow Syria or its allies to cross into its zone of control.

The US also announced it would continue its occupation of northeastern Syria indefinitely, even after ISIS is gone. The US currently has at least ten small scale military bases set up within the country.

sfd syria map

Figure 3. Map of Northeast Syria showing government-control (red) and SDF-control (light green) as of December 2017.

The overall strategy, according to an analysis by Joshua Landis, a highly-regarded Syria expert and professor at the University of Oklahoma, is aimed at thwarting economic recovery and interconnection within the region, in an attempt “to hurt Iran and Assad.”

The United States’ “main instrument in gaining leverage,” Landis said, are “the Syrian Democratic Forces” and the areas they have conquered in “Northern Syria.” By “denying the Damascus access to North Syria” and by “controlling half of Syria’s energy resources, the Euphrates dam at Tabqa, as well as much of Syria’s best agricultural land, the US will be able to keep Syria poor and under-resourced…

“Keeping Syria poor and unable to finance reconstruction suits short-term US objectives because it protects Israel and will serve as a drain on Iranian resources, on which Syria must rely as it struggles to reestablish state services and rebuild as the war winds down.”

Therefore, by “promoting Kurdish nationalism in Syria,” the US “hopes to deny Iran and Russia the fruits of their victory,” while “keeping Damascus weak and divided.” The US position “serves no purpose other than to stop trade and prohibit a possible land route from Iran to Lebanon,” and to “beggar Assad and keep Syria divided, weak and poor.”

Yet with such an approach in mind, the defeat of ISIS posed a dilemma.

Battling ISIS was the fig leaf under international law that the US relied on to legitimize its military operations on foreign soil without Syria’s consent. With ISIS gone, even this shaky argument does not hold. The US administration was therefore caught between a rock and a hard place.

It is perhaps not a surprise then that the US has, for months, been effectively safeguarding an ISIS contingent pocketed within SDF controlled areas along the northern border with Iraq.

Indeed, the official OIR reports register that virtually no airstrikes have been conducted in this area since at least mid-November 2017, only elsewhere along the eastern banks of the Euphrates, “near Abu Kamal” (see here for easier viewing).

By preventing Russia and Syria from crossing the Euphrates to finish fighting ISIS, and by refusing to attack it in these areas, the US presence has essentially protected the Islamic State from a full territorial defeat in Syria.

In that sense, it is extremely worrying that Defense Secretary Mattis has told reporters that the US will plan to stay in Syria and “keep fighting as long as they [ISIS] want to fight,” because “the enemy hasn’t declared that they’re done with the area yet.”

eir ezzor map

Figure 4. Close-up of ISIS contingent east of the Euphrates (black) not being attacked by US coalition, as of December 2017.

There is also another incentive. Much like the ‘open corridor’ policy, the US has announced “it will not carry out strikes against the militants’ last remaining fighters as they move into areas held by the Assad regime in western Syria.”

This has prompted even US-backed opposition fighters to suspect that:

“… their own side could be allowing small Isis pockets to survive so they can attack and weaken the regime and its main backer in the region, Iran.”

In closing, all of these polices have in one way or another been justified under the need to “protect civilians.”

Yet even within the bounds of official narratives, even if all of what has been presented here is disregarded, this is still problematic, given what Charles J. Dunlap Jr., professor of law at Duke University, has called “the moral hazard of inaction.” Since the end result of these US policies allows ISIS to survive, the notion that they “save civilians” isn’t really valid, since “the ISIS fighters who might have been killed lived on to butcher civilians” at a later time.

Unfortunately, thanks to the evolution of US military strategy, ISIS will continue to have the opportunity to do so.

Steven Chovanec is an independent journalist and analyst based in Chicago, Illinois. He has a bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Sociology from Roosevelt University, and has written for numerous outlets such as The Hill, TeleSur, Consortium News, and others. Follow him on Twitter @stevechovanec

Here’s how Mueller’s latest indictment further discredits the Trump Dossier – By Alexander Mercouris (THE DURAN)

Trump Dossier alleges collusion between Trump Campaign and Russia but fails to report events which actually took place

As the days since Mueller’s latest indictment have passed, the failure of his investigation to make any claim of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia has begun to sink in, even amongst some of Donald Trump’s most bitter enemies.

Even the Guardian – arguably the most fervid of Donald Trump’s British media critics, and the most vocal supporter of the Russiagate conspiracy theory – has grudgingly admitted that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has “once again failed to nail Donald Trump”

There will be understandable disappointment in many quarters that the latest indictments delivered by Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, once again failed to nail Donald Trump. Although the charges levelled against 13 Russians and three Russian entities are extraordinarily serious, they do not directly support the central claim that Trump and senior campaign aides colluded with Moscow to rig the vote.

The Times of London meanwhile has admitted that the latest indictment contains “no smoking gun”

The Department of Justice, however, offered no confirmation to those still smarting from the election in Nov­em­ber 2016, who believe that, in the absence of Russian interference, Hillary Clinton would be in the White House today. Friday’s allegations offered no evidence that the outcome had been affected. Sir John Sawers, former head of MI6, said yesterday that Donald Trump’s victories in the key swing states were his own.

There was further comfort for Mr Trump, which he was quick to celebrate with a tweet. The investigation uncovered no evidence “that any American was a knowing participant in the alleged unlawful activity”. That includes, so far, anybody involved in the Trump campaign. If there is a smoking gun it has yet to emerge, though Robert Mueller’s investigation will grind on. Presi­dent Vladimir Putin is a malign and dangerous mischief maker. It has not been proved that he is an evil genius with the ability to swing a US election.

In fact the latest indictment when considered properly is a further huge nail in the coffin of the Russiagate conspiracy theory and in the already disintegrating credibility of the Trump Dossier, which is the foundation document for that theory.

Notwithstanding claims to the contrary, the Russiagate conspiracy theory is laid out in its most classic form in the Trump Dossier, and it is the Trump Dossier which remains the primary and indeed so far the only ‘evidence’ for it

This theory holds that Donald Trump was compromised by the Russians in 2013 when he was filmed by Russian intelligence performing an orgy in a hotel room in Moscow, and he and his associates Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Michael Cohen subsequently engaged in a massive criminal conspiracy with Russian intelligence to steal the election from Hillary Clinton by having John Podesta’s and the DNC’s emails stolen by Russian intelligence and passed on by them for publication by Wikileaks.

Belief in this conspiracy dies hard, and an interesting article in the Financial Times by Edward Luce provides a fascinating example of the dogged determination of some people to believe in it.  Writing about Mueller’s latest indictment Luce has this to say

……Mr Mueller’s report hints at more dramatic possibilities by corroborating contents of the “Steele dossier”, which was compiled in mid-2016 by the former British intelligence officer, Christopher Steele — long before the US intelligence agencies warned of Russian interference. Mr Steele, who is in hiding, alleged that the Russians were using “active measures” to support the campaigns of Mr Trump, Bernie Sanders, the Democratic runner-up to Hillary Clinton, and Jill Stein, the Green party nominee. Mr Mueller’s indictment confirms that account.

……Likewise, Mr Mueller’s indictment confirms the Steele dossier’s claim that Russia wished to “sow discord” in the US election by backing leftwing as well as rightwing groups. Among the entities run by the IRA were groups with names such as “Secured Borders”, “Blacktivists”, “United Muslims of America” and “Army of Jesus”.

What is fascinating about these words is that none of them are true.

Christopher Steele is not in hiding.

The actual Trump Dossier does not allege “that the Russians were using “active measures” to support the campaigns of Mr Trump, Bernie Sanders, the Democratic runner-up to Hillary Clinton, and Jill Stein, the Green party nominee”.

Bernie Sanders is mentioned by the Trump Dossier only in passing.  By the time the Trump Dossier’s first entries were written Bernie Sanders’s campaign was all but over and it was already clear that Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic Party’s candidate for the Presidency.

Jill Stein is mentioned – again in passing – only once, in a brief mention which refers to her now infamous visit to Russia where she attended the same dinner with President Putin as Michael Flynn.

Nor does the Trump Dossier anywhere claim that “Russia wished to “sow discord” in the US election by backing leftwing as well as rightwing groups”.

On the contrary the Trump Dossier is focused – exclusively and obsessively – on documenting at fantastic length the alleged conspiracy between the Russian government and the campaign of the supposedly compromised Donald Trump to get him elected US President.

Supporters of the Russiagate conspiracy theory need to start facing up to the hard truth about the Trump Dossier.

At the time the Trump Dossier was published in January 2017 little was known publicly about the contacts which actually took place between members of Donald Trump’s campaign and tranisiton teams and the Russians during and after the election.

Today – a full year later and after months of exhaustive investigation – we know far more about those contacts.

What Is striking about those contacts is how ignorant the supposedly high level Russian sources of the Trump Dossier were about them.

Thus the Trump Dossier never mentions Jeff Sessions’s two meetings with Russian ambassador Kislyak, or the various conversations Michael Flynn is known to have had with Russian ambassador Kislyak, some of which apparently took place before Donald Trump won the election.

The Trump Dossier never mentions Jared Kushner’s four conversations with Russian ambassador Kislyak, including the famous meeting between Kislyak and Kushner in Trump Tower on 1st December 2016 (which Michael Flynn also attended) over the course of which the setting up of a backchannel to discuss the crisis in Syria is supposed to have been discussed (Kushner denies that it was).

The last entry of the Trump Dossier is dated 13th December 2016 ie. twelve days after this meeting took place, and given its high level a genuinely well-informed Russian source familiar with the private ongoing discussions in the Kremlin might have been expected to know about it.

Nor does the Trump Dossier mention the now famous meeting in Trump Tower between the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya and Donald Trump Junior – which Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner also attended – which took place on 9th June 2016.

This despite the fact that the Trump Dossier’s first entry is dated 20th June 2016 i.e. eleven days later, so that if this meeting really was intended to set the stage for collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia – as believers in the Russiagate conspiracy theory insist – a well informed Russian source with access to information from the Kremlin would be expected to know about it.

Nor does the Trump Dossier have anything to say about George Papadopoulos, the Trump campaign aide who had the most extensive contacts with the Russians, and whose drunken bragging in a London bar is now claimed by the FBI to have been its reason for starting the Russiagate inquiry.

In fact George Papadopoulos is not mentioned in the Trump Dossier at all.

This despite the fact that members of Russia’s high powered Valdai Discussion Club were Papadopoulos’s main interlocutors in his discussions with the Russians, and Igor Ivanov – Russia’s former foreign minister, and a senior albeit retired official genuinely known to Putin – was informed about the discussions also, making it at least possible that high level people in the Russian Foreign Ministry and conceivably in the Russian government and in the Kremlin were kept informed about the discussions with Papadopoulos, so that a genuinely well-informed Russian source might be expected to know about them.

By contrast none of the secret meetings between Carter Page and Michael Cohen and the Russians discussed at such extraordinary length in the Trump Dossier have ever been proved to have taken place.

Now Special Counsel Mueller has provided further details in his latest indictment of actual albeit unknowing contacts between members of the Trump campaign and various Russian employees of Yevgeny Prigozhin’s Internet Research Agency, LLC, apparently both in person and online.

The Trump Dossier has however nothing to say about these contacts either, just as it has nothing to say about the Internet Research Agency, LLC, Yevgeny Prigozhin, or the entire social media campaign set out in such painstaking detail by Special Counsel Mueller in his indictment.

The only conclusion possible is that if the Trump Dossier’s Russian sources actually exist (about which I am starting to have doubts) then they were extraordinarily ignorant of what was actually going on.

That of course is consistent with the fact – recently revealed in the heavily redacted memorandum sent to the Justice Department by Senators Grassley and Lindsey Graham – that many of the sources of the Trump Dossier were not actually Russian but were American.

John Helmer – the most experienced journalist covering Russia, and a person who has a genuine and profound knowledge of the country – made that very point – that many of the Trump Dossier’s sources were American rather than Russian – in an article he published on 18th January 2017, ie. just days after the Trump Dossier was published.

In that same article Helmer also made this very valid point about the Trump Dossier’s compiler Christopher Steele

Steele’s career in Russian intelligence at MI6 had hit the rocks in 2006, and never recovered. That was the year in which the Russian Security Service (FSB) publicly exposed an MI6 operation in Moscow. Russian informants recruited by the British were passed messages and money, and dropped their information in containers fabricated to look like fake rocks in a public park.   Steele was on the MI6 desk in London when the operation was blown. Although the FSB announcement was denied in London at the time, the British prime ministry confirmed its veracity in 2012.Read more on Steele’s fake rock operation here, and the attempt by the Financial Times to cover it up by blaming Putin for fabricating the story.

Given that Steele was outed by Russian intelligence in 2006, with his intelligence operation in Russia dismantled by the FSB that year, it beggars belief that ten years later in 2016 he still had access to high level secrets in the Kremlin.

What we now know in fact proves that he did not.

I only remembered Helmer’s 18th January 2017 article about the Trump Dossier after I wrote my article about Senator Grassley’s and Senator Lindsey Graham’s memorandum to the Justice Department on 6th February 2018.

This is most unfortunate, not only because Grassley’s and Lindsey Graham’s memorandum resoundingly vindicates Helmer’s reporting, but because it shows that a genuine expert about Russia like Helmer was able to spot immediately the holes in the Trump Dossier, which only now – a whole year and months of exhaustive investigations later – are starting to be officially admitted.

For my part I owe Helmer an apology for not referencing his 18th January 2017 article in my article of 6th February 2018.  I should have done so and I am very sorry that I didn’t.

I have spent some time discussing the Trump Dossier because despite denials it remains the lynchpin of the whole Russiagate scandal and of the claims of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Heroic efforts to elevate Papadopoulos’s case and the meeting between Donald Trump Junior and the Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya into ‘evidence’ of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia which exists supposedly independently of the Trump Dossier fail because as I have discussed extensively elsewhere (see here and here) they in fact do no such thing.

Despite Edward Luce’s desperate efforts to argue otherwise, Mueller’s latest indictment far from corroborating the Trump Dossier, has done the opposite.

With the Trump Dossier – the lynchpin of the whole collusion case – not just unverified and discredited but proved repeatedly to have been completely uninformed about events which were actually going on, why do some people persist in pretending that there is still a collusion case to investigate?

The Duran



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Arrogance: Former CIA chief Woolsey says US meddles in election of other countries ‘for their own good’ (Video) – By Alex Christoforou – The Duran (SOTT)

James Woolsey

© Roger L. Wollenberg/UPI
Former Director of Central Intelligence R. James Woolsey, Jr.

The hubris is amazing.

Former CIA chief James Woolsey was on Fox News to discuss how those devilish Russians meddled in America’s democracy by posting messages on Twitter and Facebook, forgetting about all the CIA coups, false flags, and election meddlings he oversaw when running the CIA.

The hypocrisy was so thick that when Laura Ingraham asked Woolsey if the US ever meddled in elections, the response (and laughter from both of them) was telling…

Comment: The neocons had Woolsey planted near Trump a the beginning of his term, but he didn’t stick. More Woolsey gems:

See Also:

Uranium One: Nuclear scandal fallout hits FBI & Clintons – By RT

Uranium One: Nuclear scandal fallout hits FBI & Clintons
As Democrats and Republicans target each other with accusations of ‘Russian collusion,’ they seize on evidence of the other’s alleged wrongdoing, no matter how flimsy. The latest such case is the Uranium One controversy.

Though Democrats have accused President Donald Trump of “colluding” with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election, which they thought Hillary Clinton was sure to win, they have offered little to no evidence to prove the claim. Meanwhile, Trump has said the real collusion was between Clinton and the Russians on Uranium One, a Canadian-based mining company that owns 20 percent of US uranium deposits.

In 2010, the Obama administration approved the sale of Uranium One to Rosatom, a Russian state energy company. This was the era of the infamous “reset” in US-Russian relations, when Hillary Clinton was the US secretary of state. An FBI informant who worked with the companies involved now says Moscow greased the deal with millions of dollars intended for the Clintons’ charity.

On Wednesday, William Douglas Campbell testified before the Senate Judiciary, the House Intelligence and the House Oversight and Government Reform committees. He was not sworn in and the meeting was held behind closed doors, making it possible for Democrats and Republicans to assert different versions of what happened.

According to The Hill, which says it has a written statement by Campbell in its possession, the informant said he was told by Russian nuclear executives that they had hired a US lobbying firm called APCO Worldwide specifically because it had ties to the Clintons. APCO was paid $3 million a year to lobby for the deal.

“The contract called for four payments of $750,000 over twelve months. APCO was expected to give assistance free of charge to the Clinton Global Initiative as part of their effort to create a favorable environment to ensure the Obama administration made affirmative decisions on everything from Uranium One to the US-Russia Civilian Nuclear Cooperation agreement,” Campbell testified, according to The Hill.

Moreover, Campbell told lawmakers he was personally involved in channeling bribes from the US-based company Transportation Logistics International (TLI) to executives from the Russian company Tenex, which was involved in the Uranium One deal. According to the Department of Justice, TLI executive Daren Condrey and Tenex official Vadim Mikerin pleaded guilty to conspiracy and bribery charges in 2015.

Now, Campbell told the lawmakers that he was “speechless and angry” when the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) decided to approve the Uranium One sale in 2010, given the TLI and Tenex bribery schemes.

“The response I got was that ‘politics’ was somehow involved,” he testified, according to journalist Sara Carter. “I remember one response I got from an agent when I asked how it was possible CFIUS would approve the Uranium One sale when the FBI could prove Rosatom was engaged in criminal conduct. His answer: ‘Ask your politics.’”

All too eager to turn the accusations of “Russian collusion” against their purveyors, Republicans have seized upon Campbell’s testimony as proof of the Clinton’s pay-to-play practices and evidence of a conspiracy to sell the US uranium mines to Russia during the Obama administration.

“You would have to be politically blind not to see the significance of the story, as is alleged the Clinton Global Initiative was a front for receiving illicit payments using the now patented Clinton pay-to-play,” legal and media analyst Lionel told RT. “It will be fascinating to see how the Clinton-friendly mainstream news media handle this most sticky situation.”

Not surprisingly, Democrats and the media have countered that the story is a whole bunch of hot air, that Campbell is an unreliable witness and that Clinton absolutely had nothing to do with anything improper or illegal, because she says so.

“Just yesterday the committee made clear that this secret informant charade was just that, a charade. Along with the widely debunked text-message-gate and Nunes’ embarrassing memo episode, we have a trifecta of GOP-manufactured scandals designed to distract from their own President’s problems and the threat to democracy he poses,” Clinton spokesman Nick Merrill said in a statement.

So the “debunked” texts that clearly show problems within the FBI, and the Nunes memo indicating that the bureau using a Clinton-funded dodgy dossier as key evidence in spying on American citizens are nothinburgers, and the real story here is the “vast right-wing conspiracy” against the Clintons, as Hillary has famously claimed since 1998.

“It is a routine practice of the Clintons to muddle the waters by accusing their political opponents of the committing the same crimes they have committed,” Neil W. McCabe, a national political reporter for Big League Politics, told RT. They do it “it consciously and with malice,” he said.

Once the details of the Uranium One deal are finally known, Americans will see the “Russian collusion hoax for the cheap distraction it always was,” McCabe added.

Interestingly, when Campbell first spoke up about Uranium One, back in October 2017, he was swiftly subjected to a hit piece by Michael Isikoff, the same Yahoo! News reporter who in 2016 published a story based on information from British ex-spy Christopher Steele, later cited by the FBI as “corroborating” Steele’s dodgy dossier, according to the Nunes memo.

“He came out because he thought he was dying from cancer and he wanted his story to be told,” Campbell’s lawyer, Victoria Toensing, told Fox News on Thursday. “They can go attack all they want to. He’s got the truth, he’s got briefings, the FBI has all kinds of videotapes.”

Campbell apparently also tried to sue the DOJ in order to recover approximately $500,000 in bribes that he paid on FBI’s behalf, for which he had not been reimbursed. Then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch wrote that this would violate the confidentiality agreement he signed. That gag order was lifted late last year by the current Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

In January 2016, Campbell said, the FBI handed him a $50,000+ check and commended him on all the work done between 2009 and 2014 to investigate the Russian nuclear energy industry. Now all of a sudden he is being declared an unreliable witness, his information is all wrong, and there’s nothing to see here? How curious.

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True US goal in Syria is control over resources, not fighting ISIS – Russian MoD – By RT

True US goal in Syria is control over resources, not fighting ISIS – Russian MoD
The US-led coalition’s attack on pro-government forces in Syria has again proven that Washington’s true goal is to capture “economic assets” instead of fighting terrorism, the Russian Defense Ministry said.

The MoD was referring to an incident which took place on Tuesday in Deir Ez-Zor province, as a Syrian militia unit was moving against a “sleeper cell” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS). The operation was prompted by a surge in shelling of the positions of Syrian government forces in the area over the past few days, attributed to the covert activities of IS terrorists, the ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

A unit of the pro-government militia was conducting a reconnaissance search mission on February 7 near the former oil processing plant of Al-Isba. While there, “the militiamen came under a surprise mortar and MRLS shelling, and were attacked by helicopters of the US-led ‘international coalition.’”

As a result, 25 members of the pro-government unit were injured. Initial media reports, citing unnamed US officials, suggested that some 100 Syrian soldiers had died in the assault by the coalition forces.

The US Central Command earlier called the attack on Syrian militiamen “self-defense,” claiming that the troops allegedly launched an “unprovoked attack against well-established Syrian Democratic Forces [SDF] headquarters.”

The US version of events, however, raises “lots of questions,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said Thursday.

Following the incident, the Russian military talked to the coalition through the established communication channels, with the latter stating that Al-Isba was under the control of SDF and US troops. The immediate cause of the incident, according to Russia’s Defense Ministry, was the fact that the militia unit acted on its own, without consulting Russian advisers first.

The case exposes a greater problem, however, as according to the MoD the attack by the coalition “once again proved that the true goal of the continuous illegal presence of US forces in Syria is already not the fight against ISIS international terrorist group, but the capture and control of the economic assets belonging solely to the Syrian Arab Republic.”

Damascus has decried the attack as a “war crime” and a “crime against humanity,” SANA reports, citing a letter to the UN issued by the Foreign Ministry. The US-led coalition is illegal and should be disbanded altogether, the ministry stressed.

“We demand [the international community] condemn this massacre and hold the coalition responsible for it,” the ministry said, adding that this is not the first time the US-led coalition has targeted Syrian government forces.

The Syrian government has repeatedly condemned the US-led coalition’s presence on its soil, calling it an act of blatant aggression and violation of the country’s sovereignty.

Damascus has also urged the UN to press the US to leave, especially following the successful defeat of the main IS forces. The US, however, has stated that it may remain in Syria indefinitely to counter what it describes as Iranian influence and to secure “post-Assad leadership” for the country.

Recent developments indicate that the US might be effectively shifting towards partitioning Syria altogether, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned earlier on Wednesday.

“It’s very likely that the Americans have taken a course of dividing the country. They just gave up their assurances, given to us, that the only goal of their presence in Syria – without an invitation of the legitimate government – was to defeat Islamic State and the terrorists,” Lavrov stated.

“Now, they are saying that they will keep their presence until they make sure a steady process of a political settlement in Syria starts, which will result in regime change.”

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US eyes partitioning of Syria, gave up on promise that fighting ISIS ‘only goal’ – Lavrov – By RT

US eyes partitioning of Syria, gave up on promise that fighting ISIS ‘only goal’ – Lavrov
The US appears to be aiming at dividing Syria, as US troops still linger in the country even after its promise to end the mission after driving out Islamic State fighters, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“It’s very likely that the Americans have taken a course of dividing the country. They just gave up their assurances, given to us, that the only goal of their presence in Syria – without an invitation of the legitimate government – was to defeat Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and the terrorists,” Lavrov said.

Regarding pledges to keep a limited military contingent in the war-town state, Lavrov says the US is not being open about their true objectives.

“Now [the Americans] are saying that they will keep their presence till they make sure a steady process of a political settlement in Syria starts, which will result in regime change,” the minister said during a conference in Sochi.

The foreign minister claimed there are “plans of virtual division of Syria.”

“We know of [them] and we will ask our American colleagues, how they are seeing [Syria’s division].”

The US has nearly 2,000 servicemen currently stationed in Syria. In December, the Pentagon announced the troops will remain on the ground for as long as needed “to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups.” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson later reiterated the plan.

Although the Syrian government regards the deployment of US troops on its sovereign territory as “illegal,” Washington justifies its presence under the pretext of fighting IS militants.

Moscow, which operates in the country on the Syrian government’s request, insists that the US has no grounds to have a military presence in the country without the permission of the Syrian government.

Washington has also been arming and funding various groups under the banners of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) and the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

“The US, flirting with various segments of Syrian society that oppose the government with arms in their hands, may lead to very dangerous consequences,” Lavrov warned.

The Turkish-backed FSA is currently engaged in fighting with parts of the SDF forces, namely the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), in Afrin. These issues have caused serious tensions between Ankara and Washington.

Meanwhile, FSA is trying to persuade the US to revive the defunct CIA program which provided cash, weapons and instructors to “moderate” rebels, a high-ranking rebel official told Reuters.

Last July, the Trump administration reportedly ended the respective program launched back in 2013 during Barack Obama’s presidency. 

Moscow has consistently warned against arming the so-called moderate rebel factions in Syria, pointing out that weapons supplied to them often fall into the hands of jihadist groups.

Rights groups allege that some rebel factions might have committed war crimes against civilians. In May 2016, Amnesty International said armed groups surrounding the Sheikh Maqsoud district near Aleppo “have repeatedly carried out indiscriminate attacks that have struck civilian homes, streets, markets and mosques, killing and injuring civilians and displaying a shameful disregard for human life.”

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Switzerland & United States are the world’s most corrupt nations – report – By RT

Switzerland & United States are the world’s most corrupt nations – report
A new study from advocacy group Tax Justice Network reveals that Switzerland is the world’s most-corrupt country, with a “high secrecy score of 76.” It’s followed by the US and the Cayman Islands.

“Switzerland is the grandfather of the world’s tax havens, one of the world’s largest offshore financial centers, and one of the world’s biggest secrecy jurisdictions or tax havens,” said the group’s report ‘Financial Secrecy Index — 2018 Results’.

It explained that “the Swiss will exchange information with rich countries if they have to, but will continue offering citizens of poorer countries the opportunity to evade their taxpaying responsibilities.

“These factors, along with ongoing aggressive pursuit of financial sector whistleblowers (resorting at times to what appear to be non-legal methods) are ongoing reminders of why Switzerland remains the most important secrecy jurisdiction in the world today,” said the report.

The index ranks countries for the assistance their legal systems provide to money-launderers, and to all people who seek to protect corruptly-obtained wealth. The higher the secrecy score, the more corrupt the government is.

In order to create the index, a secrecy score is combined with a figure representing the size of the offshore financial services industry in each country.

According to the report, the United States’ secrecy score (60) is rising, which results in attracting corrupt wealth. In 2013, the US was in the sixth place, and in 2015 it took the third in the rating.

“The continued rise of the US in the 2018 index comes off the back of a significant change in the US share of the global market for offshore financial services. Between 2015 and 2018 the US increased its market share in offshore financial services by 14 percent,” said the report. In total the US accounts for 22.3 percent of the global market in offshore financial services.

“The US provides a wide array of secrecy and tax-free facilities for non-residents, both at a Federal level and at the level of individual states.”

The report added that “Financial secrecy provided by the US has caused untold harm to the ordinary citizens of foreign countries, whose elites have used the United States as a bolt-hole for looted wealth.”

Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Germany, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, and Guernsey closed out the top-10 most corrupt countries.

The least corrupt nations among the 112 covered in the rating were San Marino, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Montserrat.

The countries with the lowest secrecy score were UK (42) and Slovenia (42), Belgium (44), Sweden (45), Lithuania (47), Italy (49) and Brazil (49).

For more stories on economy & finance visit RT’s business section

‘Obama Should Give Back His Peace Prize and Trump – His Presidency’ – Analyst – By Adam Nicholls ( SPUTNIK)

U.S. President Donald Trump delivers his State of the Union address to a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S. January 30, 2018

The US released its Nuclear Posture Review which paves way for the modernization and expansion of US nuclear capabilities. Radio Sputnik discussed the issue with Dr. Peter Kuznick, director of the Nuclear Studies Institute at the American University in Washington.

Sputnik: What are your thoughts regarding the Nuclear Posture Review? Is it a cold war and arms race all over again?

Dr. Pete Kuznick: Donald Trump has been pretty swaggering about nuclear weapons. He has said in the past: what’s the point of having nuclear weapons if you can’t use them? Which to most people means: let’s get rid of the nuclear weapons; to Donald Trump that means: let’s make them usable. And the New Nuclear Posture review definitely makes nuclear weapons more useable. Along the lines that Bush was developing in his 2002 Nuclear Posture Review, Trump is trying to erase the line between conventional weapons and nuclear weapons, trying to integrate nuclear weapons much more into America’s overall strategic posture. And he is talking here, again something that Bush did, about lowering of the size of destructive capabilities of nuclear weapons. He says that Russia’s got 2,000 non-strategic nuclear weapons that can be used in immediate combat without all the devastating effect from these massive nuclear weapons. And the US wants to begin to match some of that.

What he is doing, again, is not that dramatically different, but is significantly different from what Obama was doing. Obama called for the modernization of America’s nuclear arsenal. Obama saw a trillion dollar modernization over 30 years. Trump is talking about a potentially much bigger, a 1.2 trillion dollar modernization over that same period, according to latest congressional budget estimates. And the point of the modernization is not only to make nuclear weapons more accurate, more efficient, more precise. It’s also to make them more useable. So I’d think that Obama should start by giving back his Nobel Peace Prize and Trump should start by giving back his presidency.

Sputnik: Do you think that anything will actually be done to pressure on Trump to rethink this?

Dr. Pete Kuznick: I don’t see it, in the United States, I don’t see any basis for optimism. And this is partly because this has been a bipartisan policy. What Trumps is doing, is doubling down on what Obama did, they’ve increased the range of options and situations in which the US can use nuclear weapons. They’ve lowered the threshold.

Sputnik: Do you see something like this stimulating other countries, on the other hand, to start developing nuclear weapons?

Dr. Pete Kuznick: That’s the danger. Trump, doing the campaign, said: I’m fine if Japan and South Korea develop their own nuclear weapons. Well, look at the situation in South Korea. According to a latest poll, 60% of South Koreans said they want South Korea to develop its own nuclear weapons. 70% want the United States to put its nuclear weapons back into South Korea, which it took out 16-17 years ago. So, there is that threat, there is that danger; we are going to go to nuclear anarchy. Mohamed ElBaradei, when he was the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said that at least 40 countries have the technological capability of developing nuclear weapons.

Can you imagine the world in which everybody had nuclear weapons? We do everything we can to prevent a country like Iran from having nuclear weapons. It’s a good thing. Nobody should have nuclear weapons. But the danger is, of course, everybody will have nuclear weapons and then they are going to be used. And people have entangling alliances and then other countries get involved. China has said on occasion that if the US is the aggressor in an attack North Korea, then China will come to North Korea’s defense. If North Korea is the aggressor, then they won’t. Well, Trump clearly has plans that have come out increasingly. We saw that Victor Cha, who is Trumps’ nominee to be ambassador to South Korea, got it trouble with the Trump administration because he was saying that there is no military option against North Korea. While the Trump people are saying there is a military option, and they are seriously considering using it.

So, how would that play out? Ok, so, the US first started non-nuclear options, and tries to hit the North Korean missile sites where they think they got the weapons stored. And North Korea is going to have to respond, so they use conventional artillery against Seoul, and they kill tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands; and the US says look it’s a regime of madmen that can’t be controlled and then the US goes in there and wipes out Pyongyang.

These situations easily can speed out of control. So, you say ok, there’s going to be a bloody nose strike. Then a bloody nose strike leads to a counter strike and to a counter strike and to a counter strike. Kennedy and Khrushchev understood that. I don’t know what Kim Jong-Un thinks, nobody really knows. But we know that Donald Trump doesn’t think and that his response to everything: ‘I’m gonna blow you up. I’ve got the mother of all bombs, I’m gonna use more cruise missiles.’ And it’s a very frightening time.


The views and opinions expressed by Adam Nicholls are those of the speaker and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

Commando op underway at crash site to trace MANPAD rocket origin – Russian MP – By RT

Commando op underway at crash site to trace MANPAD rocket origin – Russian MP
A Syrian special forces operation is reportedly underway in the area where a Russian Su-25 jet was downed by a MANPAD rocket on Saturday. The goal is to find evidence allowing the weapon to be traced to its origin.

The Russian warplane was downed by a shoulder-fired anti-aircraft rocket, according to the Russian defense ministry. Moscow is very interested in establishing how exactly the weapon system got into the hands of the militant group responsible for attack, Russian MP Vikotor Volodarsky told RIA Novosti.

“The group that had the MANPAD has been destroyed by the Russian Air Force. Now the Syrian commandos are working on the ground. If they find elements of that launcher, we could trace its serial number and establish its origin to the factory in a few days, find out how it got there,” the Russian MP said. He added Russian planes are providing air support to the Syrian troops.

Earlier the US asserted that it did not provide the MANPAD to the group which shot down the Russian plane. “The United States have not provided any of its allied forces in Syria with anti-aircraft weapons,” Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway told TASS.

The incident happened in a part of Idlib governorate controlled by the jihadist group previously known as Al-Nusra Front, according to the Russian military.

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Declassified documents from 1957 reveal CIA-MI6 plot to terrorize Syria, spark fake revolution, assassinate leadership – By Ben Fenton (THE GUARDIAN) (SOTT)


Catapulting the propaganda: Britain’s MI6 has been doing this with their fellow psychopaths in the Mossad and the CIA for a long time…

Documents show White House and No 10 conspired over oil-fuelled invasion plan

Nearly 50 years before the war in Iraq, Britain and America sought a secretive “regime change” in another Arab country they accused of spreading terror and threatening the west’s oil supplies, by planning the invasion of Syria and the assassination of leading figures.

Newly discovered documents show how in 1957 Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria’s pro-western neighbours, and then to “eliminate” the most influential triumvirate in Damascus.

The plans, frighteningly frank in their discussion, were discovered in the private papers of Duncan Sandys, Mr Macmillan’s defence secretary, by Matthew Jones, a reader in international history at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Although historians know that intelligence services had sought to topple the Syrian regime in the autumn of 1957, this is the first time any document has been found showing that the assassination of three leading figures was at the heart of the scheme.

Comment: Oh historians know all about that, do they?

Funny how not a WORD about it was brought up by Western journalists over the last SEVEN YEARS of EXACTLY this scenario playing out in Syria.

In the document drawn up by a top secret and high-level working group that met in Washington in September 1957, Mr Macmillan and President Eisenhower were left in no doubt about the need to assassinate the top men in Damascus.

Part of the “preferred plan” reads:

“In order to facilitate the action of liberative forces, reduce the capabilities of the Syrian regime to organise and direct its military actions, to hold losses and destruction to a minimum, and to bring about desired results in the shortest possible time, a special effort should be made to eliminate certain key individuals. Their removal should be accomplished early in the course of the uprising and intervention and in the light of circumstances existing at the time.”

The document, approved by London and Washington, named three men: Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, head of Syrian military intelligence; Afif al-Bizri, chief of the Syrian general staff; and Khalid Bakdash, leader of the Syrian Communist party.

For a prime minister who had largely come to power on the back of Anthony Eden’s disastrous antics in Suez just a year before, Mr Macmillan was remarkably bellicose. He described it in his diary as “a most formidable report”. Secrecy was so great, Mr Macmillan ordered the plan withheld even from British chiefs of staff, because of their tendency “to chatter”.

Concern about the increasingly anti-Western and pro-Soviet sympathies of Syria had been growing in Downing Street and the White House since the overthrow of the conservative military regime of Colonel Adib Shishakli by an alliance of Ba’ath party and Communist party politicians and their allies in the Syrian army, in 1954.

Driving the call for action was the CIA’s Middle East chief Kermit Roosevelt, grandson of former president Theodore Roosevelt. He identified Colonel Sarraj, General al-Bizri and Mr Bakdash as the real power behind a figurehead president. The triumvirate had moved even closer to Nikita Khrushchev’s orbit after the previous year’s disastrous attempt by Britain and France, in collusion with Israel, to reverse the nationalisation of the Suez canal.

Comment: Kermit Roosevelt also organized the coup d’état against Iran’s democratically elected leader Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953.

By 1957, despite America’s opposition to the Suez move, President Eisenhower felt he could no longer ignore the danger of Syria becoming a centre for Moscow to spread communism throughout the Middle East. He and Mr Macmillan feared Syria would destabilise pro-Western neighbours by exporting terrorism and encouraging internal dissent.

Comment: Which is of course PRECISELY what they were doing. See how psychopaths project onto their intended victim precisely what they are in fact doing?

More importantly, Syria also had control of one of the main oil arteries of the Middle East, the pipeline which connected pro-Western Iraq’s oilfields to Turkey.

The “preferred plan” adds:

“Once a political decision is reached to proceed with internal disturbances in Syria, CIA is prepared, and SIS [MI6] will attempt, to mount minor sabotage and coup de main incidents within Syria, working through contacts with individuals.

“The two services should consult, as appropriate, to avoid any overlapping or interference with each other’s activities… Incidents should not be concentrated in Damascus; the operation should not be overdone; and to the extent possible care should be taken to avoid causing key leaders of the Syrian regime to take additional personal protection measures.”

Comment: “The operation should not be overdone…” Note the perspicacity for discipline. Definitely NOT your garden-variety psychopaths. Precisely the same effort went into the ‘protests’ organized in Deraa and elsewhere in southern Syria to kick-start the phony revolution in 2011.


The report said that once the necessary degree of fear had been created, frontier incidents and border clashes would be staged to provide a pretext for Iraqi and Jordanian military intervention. Syria had to be “made to appear as the sponsor of plots, sabotage and violence directed against neighbouring governments,” the report says. “CIA and SIS should use their capabilities in both the psychological and action fields to augment tension.” That meant operations in Jordan, Iraq, and Lebanon, taking the form of “sabotage, national conspiracies and various strong-arm activities” to be blamed on Damascus.

The plan called for funding of a “Free Syria Committee”, and the arming of “political factions with paramilitary or other actionist capabilities” within Syria. The CIA and MI6 would instigate internal uprisings, for instance by the Druze in the south, help to free political prisoners held in the Mezze prison, and stir up the Muslim Brotherhood in Damascus.

Comment: Syria 2011: check, check, check, and check…

The planners envisaged replacing the Ba’ath/Communist regime with one that was firmly anti-Soviet, but they conceded that this would not be popular and “would probably need to rely first upon repressive measures and arbitrary exercise of power”.

The plan was never used, chiefly because Syria’s Arab neighbours could not be persuaded to take action and an attack from Turkey alone was thought to be unacceptable. The following year, the Ba’athists moved against their Communist former allies and took Syria into a federation with Gen Nasser’s Egypt, which lasted until 1963.

Comment: ‘The plan’ may not have been ‘actionized’, to borrow spook-speak, back then, but it is precisely what happened to Syria half a century later. The reason why there is a 50-year lag between the earlier articulation of this plan and its execution is because Western powers always use the same basic plan. They just didn’t get around to ‘doing’ Syria until other circumstances permitted.

Keep in mind that the CIA’s “fear of the spread of communism” was total BS, of course, just as today’s ‘fear of Russia’ or ‘fear of Islamism’ is.

As explained by former CIA Station Chief John Stockwell, the real goal was to keep Third World countries as Third World countries by fighting a prolonged Third World War. They knew the Soviets were no threat. But the rise of ‘socialist’ policies (that is, policies that actually raised people out of poverty, thus strengthening national independence) threatened the US’ global order.

John Stockwell – CIA’s War on Humans

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