It will be a crying shame if WW3 gets fought over an incident that never happened. Nikki "Don't Bother Me With Facts" Haley is perpetuating the Douma Massacre illusion and laying blame at the feet of that "monster Assad." Meanwhile, Russian envoy Vassily Nebenzya made it crystal clear that Russia has not seen one shred of evidence that any such massacre has taken place at all. In the middle of all of this, #QAnon is dropping hints that a benevolent children's charity has been used by McCain to smuggle chemical weapons internationally. Unravel the diversions here.Read More
Alexandr Dugin may not be 'Putin's brain' as some have called him, but he remains an influential figure in Moscow. Dugin's Katehon think tank and Tsargrad TV's patron, 'God's oligarch' Konstantin Malofeev, is quite connected in what we would call Orthodox Christian-patriotic 'Kremlin circles'.Read More
NOTE: This post was updated at 01:30 Eastern time Sunday, August 21, 2016 to better reflect the broader context of Russia, China and Iran's closely coordinated military moves in the Mideast.
The Eurasian axis continued to broaden the cooperation among its members this week as Russia began operating out of an Iranian air base to bomb ISIS and other jihadist targets in Syria. The deployment of the Tu-22M-3s "Backfire" bombers to Nojeh Air Base outside Hamadan, Iran significantly reduces fuel costs and flight time for the crews and increases the bomb loads they can carry. It also increases the tempo of 'carpet bombing' strikes the Russian Air Force can carry out whenever ISIS masses to attack supply lines to Palmyra or Aleppo.
Most importantly for the Middle East and global geopolitics, Moscow and Tehran are again affirming to Washington, Riyadh and Tel Aviv that their alliance is real and enduring in Syria, as well as in other flashpoints like Yemen.Read More
No wonder the Guerrilla Economist and Team RogueMoney's friend John B. Wells of the Caravan to Midnight program calls them 'USIS' --
The Islamic State has released video it says shows the shoot down of a Russian piloted Syrian Air Force Mi-24 helicopter gunship east of Palmyra this weekend. The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that the two pilots on board were killed when the chopper crashed after making a low altitude strafing run in support of the Syrian Arab Army units engaged in combat with the Daesh terrorists. Several things are notable about this incident but it's interesting to notice:
1) The Russian Defense Ministry says ISIS used a TOW anti-tank missile, of the type that the CIA supposedly only supplied to vetted 'moderate' Syrian rebels, but which also was used to down a Russian rescue helicopter last November after Turkey's ambush downing of a SU-24 bomber inside Syrian air space. The perpetrators of that ambush who were part of the 'Free Syrian Army' Latakia 'Coastal Brigades' were caught by the Syrian Arab Army.
2) The usual neocon (Trotyskite and now pro-Sunni Salafist sectarian), NATO-linked Atlantic Council Bellingcat and supposed ISIS expert commentators are letting the masks slip, tweeting 'Free Syrian Army' fanboys' glee over the shoot down:Read More
As has become evident to all military analysts who understand the cautious nature of the Turkish high command, Turkey's military will only mount an invasion of northern Syria in force if the U.S. gives it assurances of providing American troops as human shields from Russian, Iranian and Syrian counterattack. Unfortunately for Turkish President turned dictator Recep Tayyip Erdoğan's neo-Ottoman ambitions, the Pentagon does not appear willing to throw its YPG Kurdish allies entirely under the bus after arming and training them and affiliated Arab tribes of the non-Assad linked Self-Defense Forces (SDF) to fight Daesh. Thus, the Turkish offer of joint operations with U.S. Special Operations Command (JSOC) against ISIS has apparently been turned down by Washington...Read More
Russia's diplomatic efforts, including a proposal directly from Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu to conduct joint air strikes by the U.S. and Russian Air Forces against Al-Qaeda's Syrian affiliate Jabhat-al-Nusra, have placed Washington in an awkward position. Al-Nusra, unlike the so-called 'moderate' jihadist groups such as Ahrar-al-Sham that the State Department continues to defend despite their Salafist ideology and recent civilian massacres, is NOT a party to the United Nations brokered ceasefire agreement that Washington and Moscow agreed to jointly monitor.Read More
To a great extent, whether for jobless Spanish professionals or Syrian refugees, Germany has become 'the promised land' of modestly prosperous living to those fleeing mass unemployment or civil war at home. But the dark side of mass migration, crushing political correctness endlessly exploiting World War II guilt and a Chancellor who promotes disastrously open borders has yet to fully sink in from the Rhine to the Oder.Read More
In August we wrote an article which correctly forecast that Turkey, after trying unsuccessfully to play the Americans and Russians off against each other, would get thrown under the bus by Washington. As we wrote then somebody has to take the fall for the spectacular rise of ISIS, and Erdoğanis the perfect fall guy.After years of profiting from the Afghan heroin trade and serving as a partner in crime to Washington and the Persian Gulf Arab states' destruction of Syria, the man who would have been sultan of the new Ottoman Empire Erdoğan discovers that there's no honor among thieves. In just a few short years Erdoğanhas found a way to alienate or anger the governments of not only of Syria but China (cancelled SAM arms deal), Russia (backing out of Turkstream and lowballing Gazprom on price), Iran (its top natural gas supplier after Moscow, whose soldiers are being killed with Turkish weapons outside Aleppo), Israel (2009 Gaza flotilla/MV Mavi Marmama stunt), Egypt (support for the Muslim Brotherhood takeover that Sisi's military coup crushed), and now the entire EU, thanks to the Turks opening the floodgates for Mideast migrants in what European Union President Donald Tusk calls a campaign of 'hybrid warfare' to extract concessions or even membership from the transnational bloc.
Whatever else you want to say about Erdoğan, the man sure knows how to make enemies. Since the United States is both Turkey's NATO ally and at odds with Ankara over the Kurdish issue (with Vice President Joe Biden famously asking why not create a Kurdish state out of Iraq and possibly Syria), you can add Washington to the list of 'frenemies'. Particularly now that Obama pulled a classic Barry Zero stunt, by sending just enough soldiers to the Syrian Kurds to piss Ankara off...but not enough make any difference or satisfy Sens. John McInsane and his mini-me, Ms. John McCain from South Carolina Lindsey Graham:
"Half-assed" -- Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) rages against the Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Dunford over their unwillingness to start World War III with Russia in Syria. 'Light in the loafers' Lindsey should be happy at least some jihadists intent on overthrowing Assad got U.S. weapons, even if they happen to be members of the Islamic State
This weekend the question is: with both Western and Russian news and propaganda outlets highlighting Recep Tayyip's suppression of the Kurds, cartoonish war on free speech and the press, and not so secret dealings with ISIS, are we going to see the Sultan fall at the polls this weekend? Or will Erdoğan's ruling Law and Justice (AKP) coalition pull out a victory this Sunday because no Turk wants to support the Kurdish party and the opposition cannot agree?
Either way the polls go in Turkey, relations between Washington and Ankara are entering a deep freeze. There's no way any Turkish government could interpret President Barack Hussein Obama's announcement of 30 U.S. special operations soldiers deploying to Syrian Kurdistan on the Friday before Turks go to the polls as anything other than a slap to Ankara's face.
Whether the Turks will start to create logistical or other headaches for U.S. and 'anti-ISIL coalition' forces operating out of Incirlik AFB in southern Turkey in retaliation is an interesting question. One thing the Turks have vowed to do is keep bombing the Kurdish YPG -- the same force Washington para-dropped many tons of ammo to a week ago, whenever they threaten ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra (aka Al-Qaeda in Syria) supply lines by crossing the Euphrates River:
Istanbul, October 28 (Reuters) - Turkey will “do what is necessary” to prevent U.S.-allied Syrian Kurdish rebels from declaring autonomy in the town of Tel Abyad near the Turkish border, including conducting further military operations, President Tayyip Erdogan said on Wednesday.
NATO member Turkey is part of the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State militants in Syria, but it sees advances by autonomy-seeking Kurds, led by the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as a threat to its own national security, fearing they could stoke separatism among Turkish Kurds.
Turkish jets recently hit the Syrian Kurds' armed People's Protection Units (YPG) targets twice after they defied Ankara and crossed west of the Euphrates River.
“This was a warning. 'Pull yourself together. If you try to do this elsewhere - Turkey doesn't need permission from anyone - we will do what is necessary,'” Erdogan said, signaling he could defy Washington's demand that Ankara avoid hitting Syrian Kurds and focus its military might on Islamic State targets.
No doubt numerous negotiations are underway between the Pentagon and Turkish militaries to ensure the lucrative business of faux warmaking on ISIS continues. But the problem remains that the force Washington is counting on to actually show some results in the ISIS war lest the Russians steal all their thunder has been threatened and treated as sworn enemies by Ankara. And new revelations about an alleged secret oil pipeline from ISIS-held parts of Syria to Turkey plus stepped up Iraqi bombing of these lucrative crude channels for the super terrorist group are only going to add to the pressure in Ankara to come clean about what role Turkish intelligence and military played in ISIS rise.
NATO's Twitter troll army swings into action, including a few Soros plants on the so-called 'Left' all insisting Turkey and Saudi Arabia couldn't possibly have manufactured and delivered sarin nerve gas to use for a falseflag attack blamed on Assad in August 2013. Eventually somebody's going to leak the location and photos of Turkey's Saudi-funded secret sarin plant and Mr. Kazseta and Bellingcat's Eliot Higgins are going to look pretty stupid
Certain sacrificial lambs in the form of lower level crude oil traders in Istanbul may have to be offered up by a newly formed (post Erdoğan?) government as a sign of Turkey's good faith. Meanwhile, the usual US/NATO government sock puppets and shills will keep on denying Turkish opposition activists' allegations that Ankara and Riyadh were behind the 2013 East Ghouta chemical attack falseflag -- and their own sources of funding.
Remember, there's no honor among thieves or as they're known in Iraq 'Ali Babas'. Therefore if the Obama Administration believes it can throw the wily Turks under the bus and not be embarrassed by Turkish leaks on the CIA's own efforts to direct or arm ISIS against Assad Washington and Langley have got another thing coming.
If the SAA and its Iranian/Hezbollah allies can keep the road to Aleppo open rebel held parts of the city will almost certainly fall within weeks to months, and Daesh/Jabhat al-Nusra will get slaughtered by the Russian air force and Syrian artillery/MLRS vainly trying to attack the Aleppo highway
This week the Russian air force continues to increase the number of daily sorties and targets hit, including jihadist positions not far from the Israeli held Golan Heights. Fortunately, we're confident Fox News did not report on the proximity of these Russian strikes to Israel and thereby spared many of its neocon guests and 'friends of Israel' GOP base viewers from any cognitive dissonance from this development. No one in Washington after all wants to think that Benjamin Netanyahu has either been defanged or has made a deal with Putin's military to take out the human trash the IDF helped pile up on Syria's southern border.
Russian bombing of the Islamic State helped Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and National Defense Forces (NDF) loyalist militiamen take back parts of a vital highway to Aleppo. The Khanasser-Ithriyah highway came under attack from a combined ISIS-Jabhat al-Nusra assault.
While Washington has tried to separate al-Nusra from Daesh and claim the two groups have fought each other and thereby try to depict Russia's bombing of Nusra targets as 'targeting moderates' this narrative failed to withstand the reality of the two jihadist gangs joining forces in their failed bid to stop the SAA's advances. While the SAA had to delay some operations around Aleppo due to less ammunition, the highway assault opened the jihadists up to Russian air strikes on Wednesday and Thursday. More importantly, ISIS and al-Nusra's failed counterattack may have revealed far more than Washington would want the world to know about how ISIS has been resupplying and sending more fighters to the Syrian front from Iraq without any interference from U.S. airpower whatsoever.
As German blogger Moon of Alabama reports:
During the last days a large attack on the Syrian government supply line to Aleppo city was carried out by Jabhat al-Nusra (aka al-Qaeda in Syria) and the Islamic State seemingly in coordination with the U.S. military.
During September the U.S. anti-IS coalition carried out an average of 4.2 airstrikes on IS in predominately east Syria. This after an average of 6.8 per day in August. The rate in October was about the same as in September until Thursday October 22. Then, according to the U.S. Military Times, the strike rate decreased markedly...
The Islamic State used the lull in airstrikes in east Syria to move hundreds of fighters and heavy equipment towards the supply line that connects Damascus with the government held areas (green) of Aleppo.
After two days of no U.S. airstrikes in east Syria the Islamic State (purple) attacked the government supply corridor from the east while at the same time and at the same main point Jabhat al-Nusra (orange) attacked the supply corridor from the west. The attacks started with suicide car bombs against Syrian army checkpoints which suddenly had to defend themselves to the front and the rear.
On Saturday October 24 Almasdar news reported:
For the first time in three months, the Syrian Arab Army’s (SAA) main supply route along the Khanasser Highway was closed due to an obstruction by the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS); this chaotic situation forced the pro-government forces to call on hundreds of reinforcements from the Aleppo Governorate to help push back the encroaching terrorists.
Initially, the Syrian Armed Forces were successful in repelling both ISIS and the Syrian Al-Qaeda group “Jabhat Al-Nusra” after they attacked from different axes in the Hama Governorate; however, ISIS regrouped near the Al-Raqqa Governorate border in order to launch another massive assault on the Khanasser Highway.
ISIS’ second assault on the Syrian Armed Forces’ defensive positions proved successful, as they cutoff the Khanasser Highway and pushed further west towards the strategic city of Ithriyah in east Hama.
The Islamic State fighters killed about a dozen government troops and captured several armed vehicles (gruesome photos here). [The Russia Analyst can insert here that the sickening Ukro-Nazi propagandist 'Jihadi Julian' Roepcke of the German tabloid Bild cheered on the Daesh attacks on his Twitter account - JWS]
The Syrian army send reinforcements from the Palestinian resistance militia Liwaa Al-Quds to help clear the road. This was only somewhat successful as bad weather and a sandstrom on the 25th prevented air support.
The operations room in Damascus was not too unhappy with the situation even though the road was still cut. The thought was that having IS and Nusra fighters concentrated in an otherwise wide open rural area would help to eliminate them. On the 26th and 27the Russian and Syrian air forces flew some 90 attacks within 24 hours against the enemy held parts of the road.
These attacks cleared the IS held parts of the road but the Islamic State concentrated more forces on another part of the road further north and on October 27 it suicide-bombed another government checkpoint and again blocked the road. Additional support from Hizbullah arrived during the next days and the road is now mostly cleared though still endangered.
The closed supply route led to hardship for the nearly two million people inthe government held parts of Aleppo as prices for produce and gasoline exploded.
According to the Syrian Arab Army command, which earlier this week had accused Washington's allies Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar of flying 500 ISIS terrorists from Iraq to Yemen, there's even more damning evidence of coordination between the Pentagon and Daesh. As it turns out a great deal of the widely advertised 50 tons of ammo and supplies dropped from C-17s to a brand new Arab coalition bordering Kurdish held territory actually ended up with -- surprise! -- ISIS.
America the duplicitous: this is what millions of Russians saw on the number one nightly news show in the country, First Channel (Pervy Kanal)
This latest 'oops' American supply drop to ISIS came on the heels of U.S. jets destroying a power plant in Aleppo supposedly occupied by ISIS fighters that plunged parts of the city into darkness and knocked out power for the soon to be recaptured polity's water and sewage treatment facilities. It also comes after U.S. jets accidentally bombed Iraqi troops who were advancing against Daesh near Ramadi, while pro-Syrian rebel sources accuse Russia of deliberately targeting rebel field hospitals. Moscow angrily denies the accusation saying that neither the rebels nor U.S. government run media citing them like RFE/RL have offered any proof that nine hospitals were hit.
Both the Red Cross and Medecins Sans Frontieres have rejected claims that Russia is responsible for bombing their medical facilities in Syria. So why does the U.S. State Department stubbornly insist otherwise? (You know why.) Here is an entertaining anecdote:
On Thursday, spokesman for the US State Department John Kirby was asked to provide sources to substantiate its grave allegations that Russia was responsible for damaging hospitals.
Kirby said that “we have seen some press reporting to that end,” and referred to “Syrian civil society groups” and “other operational information” which led the US administration to make the allegations, but was unable to provide any evidence.
Kirby was asked for substantiation after Red Cross Director Dominic Stillhart said that its personnel on the ground had not reported any airstrikes by Russian planes on civilian targets, including hospitals.
The war of words continued as the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Gen. Maj. Igor Konashenkov told his counterpart, Pentagon spokesperson Col. Steve Warren, to put up evidence that Russia was hitting civilian areas with cluster munitions or shut up. Moscow also told Washington its plans to send troops to fight ISIS inside Syria's sovereign territory were illegal and a violation of international law, since it had no permission from Damascus to operate inside the country. Zerohedge summed up the increasing absurdity of Washington's moves this way:
Alright, so let’s see if we can untangle this. Washington intends to send in the Apaches to bolster Iraqi forces both Peshmerga and otherwise. Or at least that’s what it sounds like. The Pentagon is also considering the placement of American ground troops with “moderate” rebels and with the YPG in Syria.
As we’ve detailed extensively (and this isn’t exactly a secret), Iran effectively runs the Iraqi military via its various Shiite militia proxy armies. That’s not an exaggeration. As Reuters reported earlier this month, “the Fifth Iraqi Army Division now reports to the militias’ chain of command, not to the military’s, according to several U.S. and coalition military officials.” So when the Apaches and their crews aren’t supporting the Kurds, they’ll be openly supporting Iran-backed fighters.
Only that isn’t at all consistent with placing US ground troops with Syria’s “moderate rebels” like the Free Syrian Army because after all, they’re fighting the very same Iran-backed Shiite militias. So the US would be bolstering the militiamen in Iraq with Apache gunship support and then firing on those exact same militiamen across the border in Syria in support of the “moderate” rebels battling to oust the Assad regime.
It’s beyond absurd.
And then of course there’s the whole Kurd/Turkey problem. The US is, i) fighting alongside the Peshmerga in Iraq and intends to support them going forward with Apache helicopters, ii) paradropping guns and ammo to the YPG in Syria (as part of a ridiculous ruse that involves the largely made-up SAC mentioned above by WSJ), and now iii) may even send in ground troops to fight with the YPG. But Turkey just bombed the YPG yesterday. Additionally, the US is flying sorties from Incirlik which sets up the insanely ridiculous possibility that if the US embeds troops with the Syrian Kurds, US jets could be taking off from the same base as Turkish warplanes only the US warplanes would be supporting the YPG, while Turkish warplanes bomb them.
So, yeah. This is should all go swimmingly.
Finally, there’s the possibility that if the US puts boots on the ground in Syria in support of the “moderate” rebels, those troops will be killed by Russia and Iran (which Dunford said on Tuesday likely has “more than 1,000 [soldiers] on the ground in Iraq [and] something less than 2,000 in Syria”), and with that, we close with several comments from Chairman of the Russian Upper House committee for foreign affairs, Konstantin Kosachev (via RT):
Commenting on the potential involvement of US ground troops against ISIS in Iraq and Syria, Kosachev once again highlighted that, when it comes to Syria, the US-led anti-ISIS campaign is already violating international law. Potential troops on the ground, Kosachev believes, will further violate international regulations
Um, wait, what? Iraq says Pentagon simply announced a plan to send more troops and Apache gunships to their country without any consultation
The Iraqis declared this week that they had not been consulted on any Washington plans to send more troops or Apache attack helicopters to their country. The Iraqi statement illustrated the level of distrust between Washington and Baghdad, which has led to the Iraqis inviting Russia in to their air space for 'hot pursuit' strikes of Daesh fighters crossing the Syrian border and could eventually lead to a Russian presence in Iraq similar to Moscow's force in Syria.
As the Russia Analyst has forecasted in previous posts, a Russian presence in Iraq in addition to the successful joint operations center with the Iraqis, Iranians and Hezbollah in Baghdad could open the door for Chinese air strikes against Daesh and other forms of intervention in Mesopotamia later.
The roots of the mistrust run deep, and include the Shi'a government's knowledge of ex-Saddam loyalist Baathists now running ISIS operations who were on Washington's payroll for the so-called 'Surge' (mostly of pallet loads of cash to pay off Sunni tribesmen) or 'Anbar Awakening' under Gen. David Petraeus in 2006. Washington for its part blames Iraqi Shi'a 'sectarianism' and Iranian domination of Baghdad for driving Sunnis into the arms of Daesh. Adding to the suspicions this week, an American air strike 'accidentally' killed over 20 Iraqi servicemen who were advancing on Daesh near Ramadi.
Meanwhile, the Iraqis cannot feel great about the competency or chain of command in Washington if Secretary of State John F. Kerry appeared to not know about the White House announcement Friday that 30 special forces troops were being sent to fight ISIS in Syria. Russia Today has the video from Vienna, Austria where peace talks are being held over the future of Syria.
Either John F. Kerry is once again admitting he's clueless, or he wants the world to think so after making a cry for help -- not unlike his plea several months ago for an Iran deal or else the petrodollar goes poof!
The business end of a Mi-24P from #Brutalistan...