Monday, 8 February 2016

Towards World War 3?

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
Peter Lavelle is worried

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

Russia, the US, and Syria 
Peace Talks

Eric Draitser of 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 oppositionaccording 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 grĂ¢ce 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

Russia's Su-25 aircraft take off from Hmeimim airbase escorted by Syria's MiG-29 fighter jets.  © Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation
Russia's Su-25 aircraft take off from Hmeimim airbase escorted by Syria's MiG-29 fighter jets. © Ministry of defence of the Russian Federation / Sputnik

7 February, 2016

Russia’s Defense Ministry has slammed NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, labeling as ‘nonsense’ his comments that the Russian air operation in Syria is causing tensions and undermining the peace process in the country.

The NATO Secretary General made the controversial statement on Friday when he arrived at the EU defense ministers meeting in Amsterdam.

"The intense Russia air strikes, mainly targeting opposition groups in Syria, are undermining the efforts to find a political solution to the conflict… also causing increased tensions and violations of Turkish airspace,” Stoltenberg said.

The comments that the Russia air operation is the source of tensions in Syria is “nonsense,” Major General Igor Konashenkov, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, said on Sunday.

If anybody in Syria is ‘tense’ today because of the actions of the Russian Air-Space Forces in Syria, it’s the terrorists,” he stressed.

As for, why the NATO countries feel as ‘tense’ as the terrorists – it’s a question to be addressed to Stoltenberg himself,” he dded.

The spokesman reminded of the openness with which the Russian air operation in Syria is being carried out, including daily briefings and release of video and photos.

We would like to remind Mr Stoltenberg that it’s not the Russian Air-Space Forces operation, which are source of the crisis in Syria, but the reckless actions of NATO that plunged the whole Middle Eastern region into chaos,” Konashenkov said.

According to the spokesman, the possibility of peace talks between the Syrian government and opposition wasn’t even discussed in the West before Moscow sent its warplanes to the country.

Only the deadline for the complete destruction of the country (Syria), in accordance with the Libyan scenario where NATO countries have been freely establishing Western-style ‘democracy,’ was specified,” he said.

The Russian involvement made the Syrians “start believing that it’s still possible to fight and eliminate international terrorism in their country.”

At a request of President Bashar Assad, Russia has been bombing Islamic State and other terror targets in Syria since September 30, 2015.

The Russian air operation has allowed Syrian government forces to launch a massive counter offensive against the jihadists, recapturing many important towns and villages in recent months.

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

UAE soldiers © Karim Sahib
UAE soldiers © Karim Sahib / AFP

7 February, 2016

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.


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7 February, 2016
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) said on Sunday it was ready to supply ground troops to help support and train an international military coalition against Islamic State in Syria provided such efforts were led by the United States.
Asked whether the UAE could be expected to send ground troops to Syria, and if so under what circumstances, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “I think that this has been our position throughout … that a real campaign against Daesh has to include ground elements,” he said.
Accordingly, UAE is ready to join Saudi Arabia’s ground operation initiative  in Syria. They are going to fight against terrorists together.  It is hardly plausible that two states that are well known for backing of some radical Sunni terror groups, like Jabhat al-Nusra, and strongly  oppose to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, are actually going to fight against their own clients. The real reasons are the recent developments on the ground, specifically:
  1. Significant successes by the Syrian army, especially in the Aleppo Province.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
We expect Qatar to say it is ready to supply ground troops to Syria next week.


ISIS in Crisis: Oil Routes Destroyed, Capital Now Vulnerable to Attack
With oil deliveries being destroyed before they can reach Turkey, the “Islamic Caliphate” in Syria is quickly running out of money — and options

7 February, 2016

Once free to transport millions of dollars of oil across the border to Turkey, ISIS now finds itself increasingly cut off from its Turkish "business partners". Without a steady stream of cash, the glorious "Islamic Caliphate" might not be around for much longer. The SAA and its alliesare now raining down serious hurt on the terror group's primary cash cow:

Syrian Air Force jets pulverized Daesh positions in the eastern part of Aleppo province on Saturday, causing serious damage to the main road used by the militants to send oil tankers into neighboring Turkey.

The news comes just days after Russia conducted 36 straight hours of airstrikes against defensive positions held by "moderate" rebels in northern Homs.
If the SAA can maintain its momentum, even the "Islamic Caliphate" is a potential target. The Independent is reporting that ISIS strongholds are nowvulnerable to attack:
[H]ow soon will the Syrian army, its Hezbollah allies and the Russian air forceset their course for the Isis “capital” of Raqqa?  Isis, which holds Palmyra, must be learning of the extraordinary developments of the past few hours with deep concern. The everlasting Sunni “Islamic Caliphate” in Syria doesn’t look so everlasting any more.

The Syrian Arab Army is on the offensive — and even western news outlets begrudgingly admit that they are making steady progress.
ISIS is still alive and kicking, but for how long?

Talking Syria on "Comment" with George Galloway (Feb. 4, 2016)

Eric Draitser of chats with George Galloway (Feb. 4, 2016) about Syria, who's repsonsible, and where it's going. Draitser discusses the role of regional proxies of the US-NATO, as well as the role of the corporate media in keeping people ignorant of the facts. He also notes the rising tide of fascism in Europe, and how the scapegoating of refugees must be confronted.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent web site. So good to watch you on youtube. My thanks for all your reporting. Now that I have departed Washington D.C. I can't even add a bit more to the increasing amount. So glad you are not in the USA it will be worst at first in Northern Hemisphere. Bless you for the amount you continue to give. Be well till the end.