Sir Winston Churchill famously said jaw jaw is better than war war. What we see in the Middle East today is both jawing and warring -- an escalation in multiple theaters of proxy war at the same time as negotiations on the region's future, from Syria to Iraq to Yemen and far beyond.Reuters Lies, Claims Russia Declared It Would Only Target the Islamic State
The City of London/British government propaganda wire Reuters reported on October 23, "Kerry Sees New Syria Talks Next Week, Does Not Rule Out Iran Role":
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Friday he expects new talks on Syria to begin as soon as next week, and did not rule out participation by Iran, President Bashar al-Assad's closest ally, which has been kept away from past peace conferences.
Along with counterparts from allies Saudi Arabia and Turkey, Kerry met for two hours on Friday in Vienna with Sergei Lavrov, foreign minister of Russia, which has transformed momentum in the 4-year-old Syrian civil war by bombing Assad's enemies.
So far all diplomatic efforts to end the conflict have foundered over the demand by the United States, European countries, Arab states and Turkey that Assad leave power as a pre-condition for peace, which he refuses to consider.
The Reuters article goes on to state that, "Russia describes all its bombing targets as belonging to Islamic State." which is a flat out lie. At no point did the Russians explicitly state they were only targeting ISIS, in fact the Russian Defense Ministry's social media accounts and press releases have mentioned the Al-Qaeda in Syria faction Jubhat al-Nusra on multiple occasions. All one needs to do is click on the @MoD_Russia Twitter feed and scroll down.
It is such silly abuses of journalistic integrity in the service of US/NATO propaganda that have lowered Reuters in my eyes these past eighteen months -- including the wire service's predilection for reporting whatever alleged military gains or Russian military incursions the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced in the Donbass war as fact, without visual evidence to back up their reports. But hey, when you're reporting that Russian cruise missiles crashed in Iran hundreds of miles from their targets, or tweeting about a half dozen or so downed Russian Hind gunships and Russian servicemen killed or wounded all over Latakia region, who needs visual evidence? And if Fox News and the neocon hipsters at The Daily Beast insist Cuban troops are fighting for Assad now, it must be true, right Sen. Ted Cruz?
Skipping the Propaganda of Both Sides, and Reading Between the Lines -- Russia and the Iranians are Increasing the Pressure on Turkey, Saudi Arabia to Cut Off their Syrian Jihadi Proxies
Were it not for the degraded and failing state of U.S. propaganda, as well as the looming death of the petrodollar underlying the mainstream media, Secretary of State John F. Kerry would not be bowing to Russian demands that Iran participate in the negotiations. And make no mistake, Vladimir Putin is under no illusions that Assad can permanently secure a Syrian ally for Russia from Western and Gulf Cooperation Council sponsored proxy war unless there are Sunni interlocutors willing to make their coreligionist proxies listen. To that end, we have seen Putin in intensive telephone conversations with Washington and London's man in the Middle East, King Abdullah of Jordan, as well as with the Saudis and Turks. The contents of those calls are unknown to us (though probably not the NSA/GCHQ on the non-encrypted Middle Eastern leaders' lines).
However, with Vladimir Vladimirovich knowing full well that the details of the call will be either listened to by or conveyed to the U.S. government, it's a safe bet that Putin is trying to persuade Ankara and Riyadh that their strategies to overthrow Assad through arming and funding jihadist 'rebels' have failed miserably. And that the only logical move to secure their own regime and economic stability is through making peace in Syria. The alternative, the continuation of the Sunni-Salafi jihadists fight to the bitter end, will only result in more refugees, casualties, and the socio-economic exhaustion of all participants. Such an outcome -- fighting Assad and Iran to the last Syrian Sunni willing to die -- may be attractive to Washington. The core conceit of whose strategists has been that the supply of Sunni cannon fodder for fighting Assad and by extension Iran in Syria was essentially limitless. But it is clearly not in the interests of Turkey or Saudi Arabia, if only because both parties to the conflict fear being richly repaid in their own coin: proxy war.
Hou-thi Wants a Long Proxy War? Or Why the Saudis Have Oh So Much to Lose
As we've pointed out many times here at RogueMoney and on the Guerrilla Radio broadcasts, the Turks have to worry about the Kurds, and the Saudis are already bogged down in a bloody war with the Houthi and allied Yemeni tribes they cannot win. Moreover, the ill-conceived war is not staying in Yemen, but spilling over into the Kingdom's southern regions, while bleeding Riyadh's finances are hemorrhaging red ink thanks to the Saudis' own 'war on shale'. The Saudis may be able to hire Sudanese and Colombian mercenaries to fight in Yemen as their own coddled soldiers try to avoid contact with the Yemeni militants, but mercenaries throughout history have famously proven reluctant to die for their employers.
Fighting or guarding narco traffickers was so much easier than this s--t: Colombian mercenaries reportedly deploy to KSA's Yemen war
Not to worry about those Houthis blowing up tanker trucks and armored cars of the Saudi Army -- the Sudanese will soon sort them out...
And more Yemeni tribes 'rising up' as Dave from the X22 Report says, to kick some Saudi butt
Talk about hedging bets, and sending a message to the Saudis: Russian Foreign Ministry welcomes Yemeni/Houthi delegation to Moscow
Furthermore, any MANPADs and TOWs sent to Saudi financed jihadists in Syria to 'kill Russians' can be massively repaid in kind with the Houthis getting Iglas and Kornets with which to attack Saudi tankers and pilots. As we said in our last RM post on the Syria war, the coastline of Yemen is long, rocky, and easily accessible via 'cigarette boats' the Saudi/UAE flotilla would have a hard time stopping from making nighttime gun runs from Oman or even across the Bab-al-Mandeb strait from Africa. All it takes is sufficient quantities of money, weapons, and fast boats -- three things we know Iran has in spades -- to dispense with slower and easier to bomb overland re-supply of the Houthis. We sincerely hope CIA Director John Brennan, himself a Sunni Muslim convert during his days as Riyadh station chief and reportedly very close to the Saudi royals, comprehends that container ships and warehouses full of freshly delivered U.S. arms for Syrian jihadis could blow up anytime -- with some Shi'a militant group nobody's heard of taking responsible for the handiwork of Iranian or Russian spetsnaz teams. That is the message Putin is subtly conveying by hosting Houthis in Moscow.
We should also note here, as we did on Friday, that after the Qataris threatened Damascus with air strikes and direct military intervention in support of their jihadis inside Syria, a Lebanese politician tweeted out that Doha would be shelled in retaliation for such foolishness. And while the mainstream media continues to cover rumblings of discontent and palace coups inside the Saudi Kingdom, the British and American tabloids are having a field day with the psychotic, fart-in-face-fetish prince of Beverly Hills. Given how much the Kingdom pays for publicity and public relations every year -- in the hundreds of milllions if not billions if you include bribing Western politicians -- we'd have to say the ranking royals haven't been this unhappy about the Saudi brand since 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers turned out to have had Saudi passports.
All of this bad press is popping before the Kingdom starts getting hit with truthbombs that break through the mainstream media barriers regarding its sponsorship of Al-Nusra and ISIS. No, if DCI Brennan thinks he can re-live the 1980s glory days with the Saudis of a smoothly running proxy war against the Russians, he and other U.S./UK 'Deep Staters' are bound to find just how brittle is the medieval Saudi monarchy in 2016-17. Putin and the Iranians are more than capable of seeing to that -- and we detect the hand of Gen. Qasem Soleimani in the stepped up Houthi/Yemeni attacks on Saudi positions this past week.
Jordan's Agreement to Coordinate Air Missions Over Syria with Moscow a Clear Sign U.S. Mideast Coalition Cracking -- and the Jordanians May Become the Key Go-Between for Assad to Make Peace with Non-ISIS/Al-Nusra Sunni Groups
Returning to the subject of this post, the diplomatic windows opened by Russia's bold military move in Syria, we see that Russia and Jordan are establishing a joint coordination center in Amman. RT reports:
Russia and Jordan agreed to create a coordination center in Amman, which will be used by the two countries to share information on the counter-terrorism operations, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.
Russia is already in touch with Iran, Iraq and Syria through a Baghdad-based center used for the same purpose.
Lavrov said Jordan would play a positive part in finding a political solution to the Syrian conflict through negotiations between Damascus and opposition forces, an outcome that Russia itself is pursuing.
“Under an agreement between His Majesty King Abdullah II and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, the militaries of the two countries have agreed to coordinate their actions, including military aircraft missions over the Syrian territory,” Lavrov said. His Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh said the center would serve as an efficient communication tool for the militaries of the two nations.
While 'de-confliction' like what the U.S. and Russian militaries are trying to establish and the hotline between the Russians and Israelis was set up to ensure is the stated purpose of this 'center', we believe there's a much larger game afoot. Given that the Saudis are one of the largest if not the biggest investors in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan which acts as the geographic and (until recently, before direct sharing between Mossad and KSA) intelligence go-between Israel and Saudi Arabia..it's highly unlikely King Abdullah would take these steps towards Moscow without Riyadh's tacit or explicit consent. What that means in practical terms is that the Jordanians are setting themselves up to be the intermediaries between the Russians, Assad and Iran on one side, and the non-terrorist 'moderate' opposition to Assad (if the 'Free Syrian Army' actually exists) on the other side of the table.
As we wrote prior to the start of Russian military action in Syria on September 7, Putin's end game would never be to kill or drive out all of Assad's armed opponents. The mighty Soviet Union might not have been able to accomplish that, and the more modern but much smaller Russian military cannot and won't do it either. Instead, Russia is leveraging force in an incredibly bold bid to end the Saudi-Iran proxy wars that together with American interventions and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have ravaged the Middle East for years, and restore some semblance of order to the region. An order that may include Egyptian peacekeepers accompanied by Jordanian observers entering the Sunni parts of Syria to establish a buffer zone between the rebellious and pro-government areas of the country -- but only AFTER Russia, the SAA and Iran have mopped the floor with the jihadists.
Putin is 'All In' for Everything But Ground Troops to Get the Job Done in Syria -- While Washington is Struggling to Respond
Blogger Elijah J. Magnier (not certain if that's his real name or a pseudonym), describes himself as a "Senior Political Risk Analyst with over 32 years’ experience covering Europe & the Middle East. Acquiring in-depth experience, robust contacts and political knowledge in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Sudan and Syria". He wrote a post this week based on what he says is a source close to the Assad government. In the article published Thursday, "What Putin and Assad discussed during their meeting in Moscow?" he wrote the following:
According to the source “President Putin offered himself as the guarantor to fight and defeat terrorism in Syria as a first priority. It was also agreed between the two Presidents that the political process is a necessity after the elimination of more than twenty to thirty thousand foreign fighting in the ranks of the “Islamic State” group (ISIS) and al-Qaeda in the Levant (Jabhat Al-Nusra Front). Mr. Assad expressed to Mr. Putin his readiness to engage in a political process and reform the existing law, giving guarantees and powers to those within the Syrian opposition but without any link to Salafi – jihadist, including those who are participating and currently engaged in the war in Syria”.
” The early departure of President Assad is not conceivable for both Russia and Syria. Neither side has mentioned this topic. Nonetheless, the Syrian President expressed to his counterpart his readiness for an early election to ensure a place for all, after proposing an amendment of the Constitution. By then, all Syrian armed organisations, which have disengaged from al Qaeda and ISIS, have returned under the roof of the Syrian state with the guarantee of Russia. Mr. Putin will present this offer to the regional countries engaged in financing the war in Syria, knowingly that Russia will continue supporting the ongoing military campaign to put an end to the control of the rural areas of Latakia, Aleppo, Hama, Idlib and Daraa”, confirmed the source.
That this Russian-Chinese led new order for the Middle East will leave the U.S. Empire and possibly Turkey and Israel as the biggest losers is understood by the Washington Establishment. That's why Jeb Bush was rambling on Fox News this past week about not letting the "USSR" (clearly meaning Russia) expand its influence into Syria.
Elijah J. also makes it clear that any attacks on Russian jets using surface to air missiles supplied by Saudi Arabia, Qatar or Turkey would be treated as an attack by these countries on Russia itself, and would face proportionate retaliation (all emphasis added by us):
“Mr. Putin is aware of every detail of the situation in Syria and the strength and the equipment provided to the Syrian rebels. He explained that Russia has used intercontinental cruise missiles to show to all players with proxies fighting on the ground in Syria its determination to target any regional country providing extremists with anti-air missiles (MANPADs) that can damage or shoot down any Russian jet.Any country that supports terrorists exposing Russian jets at risk would be a legitimate target to Russia.
War is one of the tools that serve the political track and that the struggle between Iran and Saudi Arabia and between the United States and Russia conflict are based on competing interests and influence in the region...the United States’ foreign policy and involvement is in a significant decline “, said the source.
American decline: A senior moment for Jeb Bush, going Back to the Future 1985 on Fox News viewers by describing Russia as 'the Soviet Union'
The Syrian Arab Army Advances on the Golan Heights Front -- Due to Israel Being Forced to Ditch the Al-Nusras or Get Truth Bombed and Have Some of its 'Invincible' Air Force Get Shot Down?
We wanted to reiterate here our statements on the Friday, October 16 Guerrilla Radio report with special guest 'W' the Intelligence Insider. Towards the halfway mark of the first hour we mentioned signs that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been told by Vladimir Putin to stand down his military from attacks on the Syrian Golan Heights, and the advances the SAA and Syrian National Self-Defense Force guardsmen were making there are fairly strong evidence Bibi has backed off. So is last week's report by Israel's YNet media source that Russian jets informed Israeli reconnaissance flights not to violate Lebanese or Syrian air space near Lebanon's border. But the best proof by far are the pictures posted on pro-SAA social media accounts showing SAA/NDF fighters triumphantly advancing to within a stone's throw of the Israeli Golani Brigade's observation posts (one of which we visited back in the early 2000s, looking down on Syria from an Israeli-held hilltop popular with tourists and visiting Congressional junkets from Washington).
Take a good look at the pictures below. Not a single IAF F-16 or F-15 in the skies above. The IDF's howitzers which once shelled the SAA on the pretext of being fired upon but in actuality to support the jihadists -- are silent:
Netanyahu's clearly got his own problems now...without getting Israel further involved in the Syria mess
Another Sign the U.S. Position in the Mideast is Crumbling -- Iraqi Parliamentarians Pressure PM to Invite in Russian Bombers After , While U.S. Sends Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman to 'Persuade' Iraqis to Stick with Uncle Sam or Else
Besides U.S. regional allies like Jordan turning to Moscow and others like Israel and Saudi Arabia being forced to grudgingly acknowledge the new balance of power for lack of alternatives, there's another sign that Washington is rapidly losing control of the Mideast. And this is a development the Hillary Clintons, Jeb Bushes and McInsanes crying for a 'no fly zone' or other foolish attempts to save face in Syria cannot remedy: a growing number of Iraqi parliamentarians want to invite the Russians to bomb the Islamic State in their country.
The Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi has vocally complained to France24 TV and other Western media outlets that Washington's air campaign against ISIS in support of Iraq's offensives has been grossly inadequate. Despite thousands of U.S. sorties since the start of the humorously named 'Operation Inherent Resolve', barely 20% of the American sorties against ISIS have involved dropping bombs. And the Russian sortie rate since the start Moscow's campaign, nearly all of which are bomb-dropping missions, has more than exceeded America's daily rate while not matching the total quantity of ordinance dropped. Moscow also, unlike the U.S., has the benefit of ground forces actually engaged with ISIS beyond the Kurds in the north, with the Syrian 'Cheetah' unit and other fighters converging on the Kuweires military airport northeast of Aleppo drawing fire from ISIS jihadists besieging the facility's perimeter. The Russians have been able to use Syrian units to draw out the Islamic State jihadists from their tunnels and other positions to make it easier for airpower and massed artillery to kill them.
All the same, looking over at Iraq and how long it took Baghdad's forces to take the oil refinery and city of Baiji on the highway to Mosul, progress has been painfully slow and the U.S. has clearly been reluctant to help Iranian-armed and financed Iraqis to crush the Islamic State with air strikes. Many Iraqis look at the U.S. refusal to provide effective air support and conclude that just maybe Washington doesn't really want to defeat ISIS so much at all.
As German blogger Moon of Alabama reports:
Yesterday [October 20 - JWS] saw a huge defeat of the Islamic State but "western" media hardly noted it.
Footage aired by the state-run TV showed Iraqi troops waving flags from rooftops in Baiji as thick black smoke billowed into the air. ... Baiji is the second most significant area recaptured in Salahuddin over the past months as pro-government forces retook the provincial capital of Tikrit in late March after weeks of clashes with the militants. The liberation of Baiji could be a prelude to Iraq’s highly-anticipated offensive into Mosul, which has served as the de-facto capital of Daesh in Iraq. The road from Baghdad to Mosul runs south to north through Balad, Samara, Tikrit and Baiji. Tikrit was liberated in March and the fight about the Baiji refinery and Baiji city had waged since. The victory now opens the road towards Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city and in the hand of the Islamic State.
The success can be attributed mostly to Iraqi militia supported by Iran. The 4+1 intelligence and operations room in Baghdad, where Iraq, Iran, Russia, Syria and Hizbullah as well as the Hashd coordinate their efforts, advised throughout the operation. The U.S. was not involved as it does not want to work with the Hashd militia and Iran.
When looking through the dailystrikereports of the U.S. lead operation Inherent Resolve one finds hardly any air strikes against IS forces around Baiji. The few that took place hit some IS "machine gun position" or "tactical fighting position". Hardly the effort that was needed to free the city. Indeed it took the Iraqi air force to do the real work:
Zaid Benjamin @zaidbenjamin Inherent Resolve Spx Steve Warren: Dealing with small pockets in #Beiji refinery. Iraqi air-force mounted 40 airstrikes & the coalition 4. Iraqi militia did the groundwork and the Iraqi air force covered the attack. The operation proceed under advice from Russia and Iran.The U.S. was not involved. It is no wonder then that "western" media are mostly silent about it.
According to Elijah J. Magnier the joint operations and intelligence sharing center that Russia has established in Baghdad with the Iraqis, Iranians, and top Hezbollah commanders is a few steps away from American diplomats and military officers. Small wonder then the 'butthurt' extends from the heavily fortified U.S. Embassy in Baghdad all the way back to the Pentagon and Foggy Bottom:
Baghdad is hosting a military intelligence operational room led by Iraqi and Iranian Generals, with the presence and coordination of a Russian General and his staff, as well as Syrian and Hezbollah officers. The aim of such a military operational room is to gather a bank of objectives and collect intelligence information on the organogram (?) and ISIS controlled area.
The source confirmed that the U.S was informed about the “Baghdad room” without necessary having any level of coordination. American diplomats and officers are within hundred meters from their once fiercest enemies (Iranian IRGC, Hezbollah) and now competing with Russia. It would be unlikely that the U.S would accept to see any success to these forces.
Now we have a better understanding as to why, instead of swallowing its pride and helping the Iraqis regardless of the Russian information operations center's support to them, the Obama Administration sent the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, to tell the Iraqis: "if Russia helps you fight ISIS, we can't".
Setting aside what that CBS headline reveals about the main U.S. priorities in the Middle East, and how seriously America takes the war on the super-terrorist group, it isn't even clear if Abadi can knuckle under to Washington's will without being voted out by his own party back benchers (who of course, if we're honest, are likely on the Iranians payroll like many if not most Shi'a majority Iraqi politicians). RT has captured this montage quite hilariously in the short video clip below:
If Washington continues to dig in as the Russia Analyst expects, despite Mr. Kerry's diplomatic initiatives, the Iraqis could double the humiliation for the Americans. As of this writing, we expect the Iraqi parliament to vote on inviting the Russians in to bomb ISIS before the end of November (the Thanksgiving recess of Congress would make for clever timing on the Persians and Iraqis part). The Russians and Iraqis have already agreed, according to pro-Assad/Iranian Shi'a news source Al-Masdar News, to some sort of 'hot pursuit' whereby Russian planes can bomb Daesh fighters right on or as they're crossing the (ignored by ISIS) border:
The Chinese military will probably be invited in by an Iraqi parliamentary vote as well. Direct Chinese participation in the war on Daesh will most likely come from Iranian bases, via long range (or air to air refueled) J-11 fighters and H-6K bombers. It will also depend in no small part on what happens in the South China Sea over the next few weeks and the successes of the Syrian Army campaign this winter. On Friday we also thought the Chinese were waiting to see what the U.S. Navy would do in the South China Sea: would the Navy follow up on the anonymous brass boasting of sailing through the 12-mile territorial waters Beijing has unilaterally established around its man-made island bases?
Turns out, we didn't have to wait very long to get an answer: from the looks of things the U.S. Navy isn't going to be 'bowing up' to the Chinese any time soon, as the People's Liberation Army Navy says hello to its latest port call...in Florida.