Sunday 28 August 2016

World War 111- 08/27/2016

Syria Violence to increase: Peace talks fail as situation deteriorates

op-ed by Joaquin Flores

27 August, 2016
Ceasefire talks between the US and Russia over the war in Syria have broken down, with each side simply reaffirming their unmoved position on the conflict. This is likely to be an actual reflection of the 'stalemate' or 'war of attrition' (if one prefers) at Aleppo. 
Fort Russ ran an article today, titled "Russia and US fail to agree on Syria and Ukraine".
But this was originally titled "Russia and the United States completed the latest round of negotiations on the Syrian settlement" by RIA, a title which tells us very little about the substance of the actual situation. 
The RIA piece, mirrored in shortened form by both RT and Sputnik, also failed to give a clear picture of the nature of these talks, reducing coverage to merely quoting the highly diplomatic language of Kerry and Lavrov. A sober reading between the lines of the somewhat detailed report on the talks provided by the RIA version, which we translated for the readers, will leave no uncertainty that no agreement has been reached. 
Western press was more clear in communicating the reality of the situation. CNN failed to even bother covering this breakdown of talks at all, while the New York Times opted instead to run a piece by Max Fisher. This piece, while loaded with the standard western media disinformation talking points, at least clearly communicates the US's actual position: "Syria’s Paradox: Why the War Only Ever Seems to Get Worse".
Essentially the US and Russia 'agree to disagree' and pursue their own separate courses on Syria. 'Remaining technical problems' is a Russian semi-euphemism for 'all problems remain'. The abstract language of diplomacy can unfortunately disguise a few important things which ought to be said which would more clearly summarize this meeting. 
There are no conceptual problems - both parties know what the score is. The US has communicated its right to violate Syrian airspace, and Russia has communicated its right to operate legally in Syrian airspace. This is part of the 'technical problem'. This will lead to collisions and an increase in bellicosity.

This is cause for great concern. Events are moving at a rapid pace, the fog of war is thick, and even the best geostrategic analysts fail to find consensus on the meaning and consequences of the Turkish moves in northern Syria, ostensibly against PKK linked YPG separatists.
Ultimately the US and Russia cannot agree on much, things which are cited in the RIA article as areas of agreement are simply recognizing their respective positions. They 'agree' that they have their own interests that aren't aligned. This is all that is misleadingly being reported even in 'Russian media' as reducing 'areas of misunderstanding'. 
The only 'concrete steps' they have agreed to is that there will be a follow up meeting between their subordinates to resolve 'technical questions' among 'experts'. 
The correct interpretation of diplomatic signals in  international relations leads us towards a pessimistic view of the possibilities moving forward. An agreement or meeting between Obama and Putin would be a symptom of a positive development. 

But the devolving of the talks to the subordinates of Lavrov and Kerry is a negative development, and this is what has happened. That is the only 'concrete step' that has been agreed to, and the baseless tone of optimism being promoted in official Russian media spheres clearly fails to communicate the gravity of the failure of these talks, to their audience. The situation in fact promises to deteriorate. 
The US is trying to increase the number of groups that are included in the ceasefire, and Russia is showing its intel, that 'it knows' that these groups are under the (formerly) Jabbat al-Nusra organization, regardless of names. These are semi-veiled warnings, communicating in diplomatic language, that Russia will continue to target all of these groups it considers terrorists, regardless of what banner they operate under. 
There is no ceasefire on the horizon. Russia entered initially believing there could be grounds for a type of 'weekly 48 hour' rolling ceasefire, to alleviate the humanitarian situation in Aleppo, but the Aleppo situation has not improved substantively, nor was the 'Iranian air base' issue ultimately significant. 
With Ukraine, Russia recognizes the the US 'has an interest' which is an intentionally vague diplomatic phrasing, and the height of obviousness. We should expect a continued increase in bellicosity as the US enters its presidential elections.

A 'ceasefire' was not even technically how to define what could be achieved in the best possible outcome of these now failed talks. A ceasefire historically is a cessation of hostilities as parties move towards a political resolution of a conflict. But this term has become abused in recent years, referring to any temporary cessation or even relative decrease of live fighting which is in fact a pretext for something else. 'Ceasefire' in modern parlance refers only to some recognition of a stalemate on the one hand, while such 'ceasefires' are more like the rules of 'downs' in US football matches, where each side rearms, rechecks the playbook, resupplies, and reassesses the situation at the line of scrimmage. That attempts even to conduct this type of 'newly defined' ceasefire have totally failed, indeed bodes poorly. 
Concretely, and what was missing from Russian media reporting, are details about the proposals themselves.

What is missing from the official Russian media reporting is that Russia proposed a weekly 48 hour ceasefire, starting with a single 48 hour ceasefire. Russia insisted on tight controls, under agreed mechanisms of UN oversight, which would prohibit the US, its GCC allies, and perhaps Turkey from funneling in equipment and supplies for combat units.

Under the umbrella of 'critical infrastructure', the US had hoped to use a ceasefire pretext to funnel in, at the very least, dual use parts: parts which could be used to repair artillery equipment and related military pieces, which are being stripped from existing plumbing and electrical infrastructure.

Russia opposed proposals of these types in the now failed talks, instead proposing that the SAA held Castello Road could be used, under UN, Russian, and SAA supervision, to get actual humanitarian supplies into the city.

Problematically of course is that food and humanitarian supplies, medical supplies, etc., are needed as much by terrorist outfits than they are by any remaining civilians who were either held hostage, unlucky, or foolish to remain in the besieged parts of foreign occupied Aleppo.

The other practical problem is political - western and GCC backed armed groups would be - under the US proposal - in the position to ration out any excess (once terrorist needs are met) needed supplies to the residents of occupied Aleppo. But this reinforces the Stockholm syndrome presently in effect.

The best way to understand the outcome of the Geneva talks at the President Woodrow Wilson Hotel, between Lavrov and Kerry which concluded on August 26th, is a failure to arrive at any agreement. The situation will undoubtedly deteriorate further. 

I don't disregard this guy at all. His sources seem quite good

Russian High Command Moves To Bunkers

From yesterday

Long Columns of US Army M1A2 Abrams tanks in Germany

The inspection will allow to assess how three military districts would react to crises in the Russian southwest. MOSCOW (Sputnik) 

Snap combat readiness checks will take place on August 25-31 in Russia's Southern, Western and Central military districts, as well as the Northern Fleet, Aerospace Forces and Airborne Troops, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Thursday.

Russia redeploys, readies S-300's and S-400's near Ukrainian border

August 27, 2016 -

Testing of the combat readiness of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation has continued with the redeployment of radar stations and S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems in the Southern Military District to new locations. This was reported by RIA Novosti on August 27th with references to the Department of Information and Mass Communications of the Russian defense ministry.

The testing of radar stations and S-300 and S-400 anti-aircraft missile systems upon arrival at new positions has commenced the deployment and technical maintenance of equipment to be put in a state of combat duty,” the source reports. 

President Petro Poroshenko of Ukraine has not been in contact with the head of the Russian government Vladimir Putin since August 7th, when an attempted attack was thwarted in the Crimea, said the Ukrainian president's administration.

"After the Russian government's baseless accusations against Ukraine of conducting sabotage operations in the occupied Crimea, official conversations between the President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin have not happened. Following with the August 7th, 2016 incident, there has been no official contacts between the administrations of the presidents of Ukraine and Russia " says the "Apostrophe" (newspaper), according to a statement of the presidential administration of Ukraine.

On August 11th, President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko instructed the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to initiate a conversation with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.

Recall President Putin, speaking of the Russian FSB forces who prevented terrorist attacks in the Crimea, declared that the "Normandy format" in such conditions makes no sense.

According to the newspaper VIEW, discussing Ukraine's fate for the umpteenth time will now happen without the participation of Ukraine. The heads of Russia, France and Germany, as it became known on Tuesday the 23rd, agreed to meet and discuss the situation in Ukraine with each other, without Poroshenko. It is noteworthy that at the same time that Kiev suddenly made it clear that it was ready for an agreement on the cultivation of the warring parties in the Donbass.

Recall also, on August 10th, the Russian Federal Security Service prevented two attempts by subversive and terrorist groups to break into the Crimea, organized by the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine. This attempt to break in was also to conduct a false flag with a massive bombardment from the neighboring state onto armored vehicles of the armed forces of Ukraine. As a result, the Russian FSB officer died and one military member. All saboteurs were detained and gave a confession.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko refused to take responsibility for captured terrorists in Crimea.

The Pentagon appears to have been caught flatfooted by the revolutionary development of the Russian hypersonic weapons industry and is now exploring major upgrades to missile defense systems before it’s too late. 

Earlier this week Russian defense industry officials revealed plans to deploy a revolutionary hypersonic maneuvering strike missile by 2020 leaving Washington scrambling to come up with a new missile defense shield capable of shooting down the elite weapon.

 Lockheed Martin missile defense experts believe that the Pentagon is exploring ways to shoot down the maneuvering hypersonic missiles with options including a modified extended-range version of the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense, called THAAD-ER, as well as high-powered lasers capable of shooting down missiles before they reach hypersonic speeds. 

Last week, the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) began the bidding discovery process for a system capable of intercepting hundreds of small drone-like systems as well as conventional missile systems that led defense industry analysts to wonder whether the US military was looking for a sophisticated multi-level laser system not only to tackle the proliferation of small drones but also potentially to counter Russia’s hypersonic weapons renaissance. 

The United States is also said to be developing hypersonic missiles and space vehicles as well, but defense industry insiders say that these efforts to counter Russia’s growing military superiority may never get off the ground due to a lack of program funding. 

"Comparable US programs are being funded at low levels and may never actually be deployed," said former Pentagon strategic policymaker Mark Schneider who added that unlike Russia’s hypersonic missiles, US systems "will certainly not be nuclear capable under current policy." 

Boris Obnosov, director of the state-run Tactical Missiles Corporation has high hopes for Russia’s next-generation hypersonic weaponry saying "It’s obvious that with such speeds – when missiles will be capable of flying through the atmosphere at speeds of seven to 12 times the speed of sound, all [air] defense systems will be weakened considerably." US Navy Admiral Cecil Haney, commander of US Strategic Command, agrees with Obnosov’s assessment warning last week that "Hyper-glide vehicle technology can complicate our sensing and our defensive approaches." '

 Obnosov believes that the development of the hypersonic weapons industry in Russia will not only serve to advance the Kremlin’s military imperative, but may become the backbone of the country’s economy. "The development of hypersonic technology can be a catalyst for development of the entire industry, the entire national economy as they used to say," said Obnosov comparing the development of hypersonics to the launching of the first satellite – Sputnik I.

By sacrificing its Kurdish allies in northern Syria, Washington wants to mend relations with Ankara and prevent Turkey from strengthening its ties with Moscow, thus far killing two birds with one stone, expert on Middle Eastern affairs Jean Perier believes.

Washington's Kurdish allies in Syria have become the US' bargaining chip in negotiations with Ankara, according to Jean Perier, an independent researcher and expert on Middle Eastern affairs.

"By throwing the Kurds under the bus, the White House has not only solved the problem of mending its relations with Turkey by preventing Ankara from strengthening its ties of friendship with Moscow. I

t has also significantly reduced the intensity of Ankara's demands to extradite the self-exiled cleric Muhammed Fethullah G├╝len by making this matter a purely legal question and thus facilitating Joe Biden's mission in Turkey," Perier writes in his article for New Eastern Outlook. 

Turkey could not have started a military operation in the Syrian city of Jarablus without Russia’s consent, a Turkish political journalist told Sputnik.

After normalization with Moscow, Ankara has started to change its stance towards Syrian President Bashar Assad. As a result, Turkey can now intensify its activities in Syria, said Serkan Demirtas, political observer of the Turkish newspaper Hurryiet Daily News....[ }

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