Trying to make sense of a world gone mad - my reflections from earlier today.
This Facebook message from RT's Peter Lavelle made an impression on me
Being thoughtful and worried. All it takes for a major world war is now in place. Will hubris and destruction triumph in Washington and its vassal states? I am seriously worried
From Eric Draitser
From Eric Draitser
Russia, the US, and Syria
Eric Draitser of http://StopImperialism.org provides his commentary (Feb. 4, 2016) on the situation in Syria and the impact that Russia's involvement has had. Draitser explains that the US and its allies' demands on Russia emerge from the increasing weakness of the US-NATO position. Draitser also notes some of the strategic issues at play in the ongoing conflict.
An Exasperated John Kerry Throws In Towel On Syria: "What Do You Want Me To Do, Go To War With The Russians?!"
7 February, 2016
“Russian and Syrian forces intensified their campaign on rebel-held areas around Aleppo that are still home to around 350,000 people and aid workers have said the city - Syria's largest before the war - could soon fall.”
Can you spot what’s wrong with that quote, from a Reuters piece out today? Here’s the problem: “could soon fall” implies that Aleppo is on the verge of succumbing to enemy forces. It’s not. It’s already in enemy hands and has been for quite some time. What Reuters should have said is this: “...could soon be liberated.”
While we’ll be the first to admit that Bashar al-Assad isn’t exactly the most benevolent leader in the history of statecraft, you can bet most Syrians wish this war had never started and if you were to ask those stranded in Aleppo what their quality of life is like now, versus what it was like in 2009, we’re fairly certain you’ll discover that residents aren’t particularly enamored with life under the mishmash of rebels that now control the city.
In any event, Russia and Iran have encircled Aleppo and once it “falls” (to quote Reuters) that’s pretty much it for the opposition. Or at least for the “moderate” opposition. And the Saudis and Turks know it.
So does John Kerry, who is desperate to restart stalled peace negotiations in Geneva. The problem for the US and its regional allies is simple: if Russia and Iran wipe out the opposition on the battlefield, there’s no need for peace talks.
The Assad government will have been restored and that will be that. ISIS will still be operating in the east, but that’s a problem Moscow and Tehran will solve in short order once the country’s major urban centers are secured.
As we noted on Saturday, Riyadh and Ankara are extremely concerned that the five-year-old effort to oust Assad is about to collapse and indeed, the ground troop trial balloons have already been floated both in Saudi Arabia and in Turkey.
For their part, the Russians and the Iranians have indicated their willingness to discuss a ceasefire but according to John Kerry himself, the opposition is now unwilling to come to the table.
“Don’t blame me – go and blame your opposition,’” an exasperated Kerry told aid workers on the sidelines of the Syria donor conference in London this week.
America’s top diplomat also said that the country should expect another three months of bombing that would “decimate” the opposition, according to Middle East Eye who also says that Kerry left the aid workers with "the distinct impression" that the US is abandoning efforts to support rebel fighters.
In other words, Washington has come to terms with the fact that there's only one way out of this now. It's either go to war with Russia and Iran or admit that this particular effort to bring about regime change in the Mid-East simply isn't salvageable.
"He said that basically, it was the opposition that didn’t want to negotiate and didn’t want a ceasefire, and they walked away,” a second aid worker told MEE.
“‘What do you want me to do? Go to war with Russia? Is that what you want?’” the aid worker said Kerry told her.
MEE also says the US has completely abandoned the idea that Assad should step down. Now, apparently, Washington just wants Assad to stop using barrel bombs so the US can "sell the story to the public." "A third source who claims to have served as a liaison between the Syrian and American governments over the past six months said Kerry had passed the message on to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in October that the US did not want him to be removed," MEE says. "The source claimed that Kerry said if Assad stopped the barrel bombs, Kerry could 'sell the story' to the public, the source said."
Of course Kerry won't be able to "sell" that story to the Saudis and the Turks, or to Qatar all of whom are now weighing their oppositions as the US throws in the towel. "Kerry’s mixed messages after the collapse of the Geneva process have put more pressure on Turkey and Saudi Arabia," MEE concludes. "Both feel extreme unease at the potential collapse of the opposition US-recognised Free Syrian Army."
Iran: 150,000 Saudi Mercenaries Ready to Enter Syria
Informed sources revealed that Riyadh is holding training courses for 150,000 Saudi, Sudanese, Egyptian and Jordanian forces to prepare them for war in Syria.
6 February, 2016
TEHRAN (FNA)- Informed sources revealed that Riyadh is holding training courses for 150,000 Saudi, Sudanese, Egyptian and Jordanian forces to prepare them for war in Syria.
The Saudi sources told the CNN channel that the 150,000-strong army is now stationed in Saudi Arabia and will soon be dispatched to Syria.
They also said that Morocco, Turkey, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar will also deploy their forces to Syria through the Turkish borders, and Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei will dispatch mercenaries to Saudi Arabia too.
On Thursday, the Saudi Defense Ministry said it stood ready to deploy ground troops to Syria to allegedly aid the US-led anti-ISIL, also known as Daesh, coalition.
Riyadh has been a member of the US-led coalition that has been launching airstrikes against Daesh in Syria since September 2014, without the permission of Damascus or the United Nations. In December 2015, Saudi Arabia started its own Muslim 34-nation coalition to allegedly fight Islamic extremism.
Daesh or ISIL/ISIS is a Wahhabi group mentored by Saudi Arabia and has been blacklisted as a terrorist group everywhere in the world, including the United States and Russia, but Saudi Arabia.
Both Tehran and Moscow have issued stern warnings to Riyadh, stressing that the Saudi intruders, who in fact intend to rescue the terrorists that are sustaining heavy defeats these days, will be crushed in Syria.
Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari said Saudi Arabia doesn’t have the guts to send its armed forces to Syria.
“They claim they will send troops (to Syria) but I don’t think they will dare do so. They have a classic army and history tells us such armies stand no chance in fighting irregular resistance forces,” Jafari told reporters in Tehran on Saturday.
“This will be like a coup de grâce for them. Apparently, they see no other way but this, and if this is the case, then their fate is sealed,” he added.
Jafari, said this is just cheap talks, but Iran welcomes the Saudi decision if they decide to walk on this path.
Not Russian op, but NATO’s incursion in Middle East to blame for Syrian crisis – Moscow
And so, as we said earlier this week, it's do or die time for Riyadh, Ankara, and Doha. Either this proxy war morphs into a real world war in the next two weeks, or Aleppo "falls" to Assad marking a truly humiliating defeat for US foreign policy and, more importantly, for the Saudis' goal of establishing Sunni hegemony in the Arabian Peninsula.
The only other option is for John Kerry to face the Russians in battle. As is evident from the sources quoted above, Washington clearly does not have the nerve for that.
UAE joins chorus of Arab monarchies ready to invade Syria
Following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, The United Arab Emirates (UAE) stated on Sunday that it was ready to ground troops to Syria to fight Islamic State. Damascus earlier said it would send unwelcomed invaders back ‘in coffins.’
The UAE’s preparedness to participate in a ground military operation in Syria was confirmed by Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash, who said that "US leadership on this" would be a prerequisite.
"We are not talking about thousands of troops, but we are talking about troops on the ground that will lead the way ... that will support ... and I think our position remains the same and we will have to see how this progresses," he added, as cited by Reuters.
Earlier this week, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain said they would contribute troops for a ground operation in Syria, should the US choose to start one. The three countries are already participating in the aerial bombing campaign spearheaded by Washington. The US however has repeatedly said it would not send ground troops to fight Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) and wants the Arab nations to do the fighting on the ground.
The Syrian government warned that any foreign army entering Syria without an invitation would be considered an enemy and resisted.
"Let no one think they can attack Syria or violate its sovereignty because I assure you any aggressor will return to their country in a wooden coffin,"
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem said on Saturday.
Iran, the key regional ally of Damascus and a rival of Saudi Arabia, said Riyadh lacked the courage to deliver on the premise.
"(The Saudis) have made such a claim, but I don't think they are brave enough to do so ... Even if they send troops, they would be definitely defeated ... it would be suicide,” Iran's Revolutionary guards Commander Mohammad Ali Jafari said.
Russia, which is providing air support to the Syrian government army in a campaign separate from the US-led coalition, dismissed the Saudi statement, pointing out the lack of progress in its other ongoing military operation in Yemen.
Saudi Arabia sent its warplanes and troops to the neighboring country to fight against the Shiite rebels from the Ansar Allah movement, also known as the Houthis. The intervention, which the UAE is supporting militarily, resulted in significant civilian casualties and a humanitarian crisis, but has not seen a military victory.
UAE TO SEND TROOPS TO SYRIA
Significant successes by the Syrian army, especially in the Aleppo Province.
The threat of total annihilation of their clients (Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda groups, etc.) which will lead to the full victory of Iran and Syria in the region, which would lead to intensifying Shiite struggle in the Arabian Peninsula.
The desire to occupy the oil fields in Syria and Iraq. These territories will probably be transferred almost peacefully from “terrorist opposition” to “terrorist coalition”. Furthermore, Saudi and UAE armies are weak. The only chance they have is to gain a respite for their terrorist clients and use the US and Turkey’s umbrella in the North-East and East Syria.