NGOs listed below support US-led imperial ruthlessness to topple Assad and destroy Syrian sovereign independence.
How else to explain their disgraceful joint statement, wanting Russia’s membership on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) ended when its term expires at yearend.
On October 28, General Assembly members will select new members, Hungary and Croatia competing with Russia to represent Eastern Europe.
Washington’s dirty hands likely pressured and/or bribed the NGOs below to oppose renewing Russia’s HRC membership – unjustifiably blaming it for “routinely target(ing) civilians and civilian objects” – high crimes committed by Pentagon warplanes, its “coalition” partners, and terrorist foot soldiers.
Nations combating Syrian sovereign independence are unfit to serve on any human rights body. Why aren’t the below listed NGOs opposing the HRC membership of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the UAE – rogue states guilty of horrendous human rights abuses at home and abroad, including against millions of Syrians?
Russia deserves high praise for combating the scourge of US-led terrorism, a lonely struggle with few allies, disgracefully denigrated for doing the right thing.
Accusations NGOs made in their statement are baseless, reprehensible, and malicious Big Lies – showing support for US-led imperial lawlessness, its genocidal rape and destruction of Syria, an endless conflict claiming more lives daily, systematically undermining Russia’s forthright efforts for diplomatic resolution.
The NGOs complicit with US imperial ruthlessness are as follows:
1. Abrar Halap Association for Relief and Development
2. Ahl Horan
3. Al Seeraj for Development and Healthcare
4. Alkawakibi Organization for Human Rights
6. Antiwar Committee in Solidarity with the Struggle for Self Determination
7. Attaa Association
8. Attaa for Relief and Development (ARD)
9. Balad Syria Organization
10. Basmet Amal Charity
11. Baytna Syria
12. Bihar Relief Organization*
14. CARE International
15. Council for Arab-British Understanding
16. Damascene House Foundation for Society Development
17. Darfur Bar Association
18. Deir Elzzor United Association (FURAT)
19. Education Without Borders (MIDAD)
20. Emaar Al Sham Humanitarian Association
21. Emissa for Development
22. Enjaz Development Foundation
23. EuroMed Rights Paris
24. Fraternity Foundation for Human Rights
25. Ghiath Matar Foundation
26. Ghiras Al Nahda
27. Ghiras Foundation for Childcare and Development
28. Ghiras Syria
29. Hand in Hand for Syria
30. Help 4 Syria
31. Hivos People United
32. Human Rights Watch
33. Human Rights First Society
34. Humanitarian Relief Association (IYD)
35. Insan for Psychosocial Support
36. International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
37. International Humanitarian Relief
38. International Supporting Woman Association (ISWA)
39. Irtiqaa Foundation
40. Just Foreign Policy US
41. Karam Foundation
42. Kesh Malek
43. Local Development and Small Projects Support – LDSPS
44. Maram Foundation for Relief & Development
45. Mayday Rescue Foundation
46. Middle East Desk Broederlijk Delen – Pax Christi
47. Montreal Institute for Genocide and Human Rights
48. Mountain Foundation
49. Najda Now International
50. Nasaem Khair
51. Orient for Human Relief
53. Qitaf Al Khair Relief Association
54. Refugees International
55. Rethink Rebuild Society
56. Saed Charity Association
57. Save a Soul
58. Sedra Association for Charity
59. Shafak Organization
60. Shama Association
61. Snabel Al Khyr
62. STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities
63. Syria Charity
64. Syria Civil Defence – The White Helmets
65. Syria Relief
66. Syria Relief Organization
67. Syrian Education Commission (SEC)
68. Syrian Engineers For Construction and Development Organization (SECD)
69. Syrian Expatriate Medical Association (SEMA)
70. Syrian Institute for Justice
71. Syrian Medical Mission
72. Syrian Network for Human Rights
73. Syrian Orphans Organization
74. Syrians for Truth and Justice – STJ
75. Takaful Al Sham Charity Organization
76. The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information*
77. The Syria Campaign
78. The Violations Documentation Center in Syria (VDC)
79. The Syrian Establishment for Human Care & Enhancement (MASRRAT)
81. Tuba Dernegi*
82. Unified Revolutionary Medical Bureau in East Gouta
83. Union of Syrians Abroad
84. Vision GRAM International
85. White Hands – Beyazeller
86. Women Now for Development
These groups are more imperial agents than NGOs. Boycott their fundraising requests when asked.
Syria Civil Defence – The White Helmets (No. 64 above) have been called “Al-Qaeda with a facelift,” complicit with its high crimes, aided from US funding and other disreputable sources.
Stephen Lendman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is titled Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.
Probably the most influential weekly political magazines in the United Kingdom are The Economist, The Spectator, and The New Statesman. All have published their latest editions in the last couple of days. Here are the results. Putin’s ‘winning in propaganda’ it says at the bottom of The Spectator’s cover. I think not.
An Associated Press story parroted by hundreds of mainstream media outlets today is symbolic of all that is wrong in world news today. Sarah El Deeb paints a heroic portrait of a jihadist stronghold with, calling the embattled city the “Jewel” of Syrian rebellion. With personal touches and misleading nuance, the AP writer condemns Russia and Assad’s Syrian army, while at the same time creating 270,000 holdouts at a modern Alamo. The piece is ludicrous in its clear propaganda speak.
Russia and Syria have been bombing the streets of eastern Aleppo into rubble, as Al Nusra and other extremists congealed against Assad’s legitimate government are holed up with tens of thousands of hostages at gun and knife-point. Ordinary residents held hostage, not even allowed to leave as humanitarian corridors open up, are lumped in with the “head choppers” and snipers, and the suicide bombers Washington and its allies have sponsored.
The writer makes use of an infant born in Aleppo, the child of Ibrahim al-Haj, in order to add credibility to utter contrivance. Mother’s milk, starvation, and an uncertain future from the AP are provocative indeed. Then, there it is again, the “jewel” emblem:
“Families like al-Haj’s across Aleppo’s opposition-held eastern districts are wrestling with how to get by day to day. They’re also weighed down with the fear that all their dreams for the crown jewel of the opposition’s territory are on the verge of collapse.”
In the midst of the most horrific regime change in the last 30 years, Associated Press pounds out a fantasy tale of a “shining city” at peace with the world before the current siege began. El Deeb spins a handsome tale of Aleppo, independent from horrid Assad, and trading with Turkey and the world on its own accord! Reading the fantasy my mind wanders to the uneducated reader in America, and whole people’s wondering why the great hope America has not rode in guns blazing already. Then I snap-to and wonder at how many people Associated Press has gotten killed these last 5 years?
The AP cocktail is a mix of liquid democracy, Operation Inherent Resolve, and soap opera detergent sales turned to TOW Missile request. The relentless Russian air assault, brutal Syrian soldiers feared for their massacring ways, and little Laith the infant make for a powerful propaganda punch. At least, that is, if one knows nothing about what has happened in Syria. The author ends the piece with a domestic note of husband-wife squabbling straight out of NBC afternoons studios. Bickering over there being no bread, unfortunate family featured in this are leveraged like crowbars in order to pry tears and anger from American readers.
There’s no mention in the article about hospitals turned into terrorist triage centers and sniper nests. Sarah El Deeb, whose work also appears in The Times of Israel and Military Times, never goes so far as to tell readers about how Laith and his family cannot leave, even with a ceasefire, for fear of being gunned down by these “rebels”. No, these little children and their parents are Jihadists too, at least in her eyes. The whole of east Aleppo is united as one, like Texans holding out against the evil Mexican President General Antonio López de Santa Anna. The former ARD German Radio producer is not the only biased reporter on the Aleppo beat though. From the BBC to the Boston Herald everybody has the same story. Unfortunately the story is not accurate, and because it is not many more people are going to die.
Russia’s Ministry of Defense was blamed not long ago for bombing an aid convoy. Like most such stories, it went away after some scrutiny. Even though the US broke a previous ceasefire and even attacked Assad’s forces, AP fails to carry that side. When the humanitarian corridors opened up this time, the Russian Ministry of Defense was ready, live streaming the checkpoints so there could be no false flag or provocation before the world. Next we heard reports of killings in east Aleppo, and no civilians taking their bombarded children from the militarized zone. Still, the mighty members of the Associated Press corps were silent. The News York Times, the US State Department, and even France’s Francois Hollande scream and scream; “Those barbarian Russians! War crimes, war crimes!”
But the real crime is committed with the mighty pen, at least its digital equivalent. The New York Times picks up an AP report and tells of the mysterious evacuation that isn’t. It’s as if everyone left there is waiting to be tucked under Obama’s or Hillary Clinton’s wing. Maybe they are willing to sacrifice their children to the Jihad, but somehow I doubt it. The Associated Press is culpable, and I hope each and every one of them takes my admonition personally. This is the end of truth in media, the carnage of the pen.
It has become crystal clear.
For the record, here it is.
She has big ambitions, which she does not spell out for fear of frightening part of the electorate, but which are perfectly understood by her closest aides and biggest donors.
She wants to achieve regime change in Russia.
She enjoys the support of most of the State Department and much of the Pentagon, and Congress is ready to go.
The method: a repeat of the 1979 Brezinski ploy, which consisted of luring Moscow into Afghanistan, in order to get the Russians bogged down in their “Vietnam”. As the Russians are a much more peace-loving people, largely because of what they suffered in two World Wars, the Russian involvement in Afghanistan was very unpopular and can be seen as a cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union.
This led to the temporary reign of the drunken Boris Yeltsin who – as recounted in Strobe Talbott’s memoirs – was putty in the hands of Bill Clinton. Hillary would like to renew that sort of relationship. Putin is an obstacle.
The new version of this old strategy is to use Russia’s totally legal and justifiable efforts to save Syria from destruction in order to cause enough Russian casualties to incite anti-Putin reaction in Russia leading to his overthrow. (Note State Department spokesman John Kirby’s recent warning that Russia will soon be “sending troops home in body bags”.)
That is the prime reason why the United States is doing everything to keep the Syrian war dragging on and on. The joint Syrian-Russian offensive to recapture the rebel-held Eastern sections of Aleppo might lead to an early end of the war. U.S. reaction: a huge propaganda campaign condemning this normal military operation as “criminal”, while driving ISIS forces out of Mosul with attacks from the East, so that they will move westward into Syria, to fight against the Assad government.
Ukraine is another theater for weakening Putin.
Hillary Clinton’s ambition – made explicit by her own and her close aides’ statements about Libya in emails at the time – is to gain her place in history as victorious strategist of “regime change”, using open and covert methods (“smart power”), thus bringing recalcitrant regions under control of the “exceptional, good” nation, the United States.
This ambition is backed by possession of nuclear weapons.
I am by no means saying that this plan will succeed. But it is very clearly the plan.
The electoral circus is a distraction from such crucially serious matters.
Diana Johnstone is the author of Fools’ Crusade: Yugoslavia, NATO, and Western Delusions. Her new book is Queen of Chaos: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton. She can be reached at email@example.com
Russophobic rants by some European Union leaders and their willful distortion of events in Syria is a reflection of why the 28-member bloc is careering toward disaster. We are witnessing a crisis of appallingly inept leadership.
German, British and French leaders were among the most hawkish voices at the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels this week, denouncing what they claimed were Russian “war crimes” in Syria and calling for additional economic sanctions on both Moscow and Damascus.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Russian-backed Syrian air strikes were “inhumane and cruel,” while Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May took the “most shrill prize” with her condemnation of Moscow’s “sickening atrocities.”
French President Francois Hollande echoed their calls for the EU to slap more sanctions on Russia – in addition to those the bloc has implemented over the Ukraine conflict.
This came only days after Belgian F-16 fighter jets reportedly killed six civilians in the Aleppo countryside, adding to a catalog of illegal aggression committed in Syria by French, British and American warplanes bombing the country without any legal mandate.
In the end, good sense among certain member states prevailed, and the EU summit concluded without imposing additional punitive measures. As the Financial Times reported: “Italy’s Renzi forces a retreat from new sanctions on Russia… Germany, France and UK rein in demand for fresh EU sanctions over Aleppo bombardment.”
Italy, Spain, Austria, Hungary, Greece, Malta and Cyprus were some of the EU members wary of escalating economic and political problems already incurred from loss of trade with Russia over the Ukraine debacle.
Britain’s premier May gave a particularly asinine speech in Brussels. She called for a “robust and united European stance in the face of Russian aggression.” This from the leader of a government currently embroiled in bitter rows over its divorce from the EU.
So, the British leader wants to bequeath even more tension and economic hardship between the people of Europe and Russia, just before she packs up Britain’s membership.
In the Russophobic rousing, European Council President Donald Tusk also excelled. Despite the EU summit rejecting the adoption of more sanctions against Russia over Syria, Tusk was later threatening that such measures remained an option. Tusk had regaled the summit with a list of alleged Russian “misdemeanors” including “air-space violations, disinformation campaigns, cyber-attacks, interference in the EU’s political processes and beyond. Hybrid tools in the Balkans, to developments in the MH17 investigation.”
Then he declared: “Given these examples, it is clear that Russia’s strategy is to weaken the EU.”
Please note that Tusk is supposed to be a leading light for the EU as it negotiates a raft of existential problems, from intractable international trade deals, migration and border disputes, anti-EU political parties, and ongoing economic stagnation for 500 million citizens.
But if Tusk and other EU leaders like Merkel and Hollande can come out with such inane views on Russia, what chance has the bloc got in dealing effectively with other challenging issues? No wonder, EU citizens are losing respect and faith in political leaders when they are seen to be so utterly incompetent and detached from reality.
Yet to make matters even worse, Tusk and his Russophobic ilk turn around and blame the imploding EU crisis on alleged Russian plots to “weaken and divide.”
Just ahead of the EU leaders’ summit in Brussels, Merkel and Hollande met Russian President Vladimir Putin in Berlin for a conference on the Ukraine crisis. The Kiev regime’s President Petro Poroshenko was also in attendance.
The Berlin meeting did not result in any progress toward resolving the Ukraine dispute. While the German and French leaders wanted to penalize Russia over alleged violations in Syria, they seemed oblivious to hundreds of attacks by Kiev’s armed forces on civilian centers in breakaway eastern Ukraine. The assassination of a military commander in the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic last week by suspected Kiev agents has heightened fears of a return to all-out war.
Where are Merkel and Hollande’s condemnations and calls for sanctions on the Kiev authorities whom they patronize with billions of dollars in financial aid and NATO military support?
Also, Merkel, Hollande and Britain’s May have little to say about recorded “cruel, inhumane, sickening” massacres in Yemen committed by the Saudi coalition bombing that country. Their silence no doubt is owing to the fact that their governments sell billions of dollars worth of weapons to the Saudi regime even as it slaughters women and children in Yemen.
And, indeed, let’s talk about Syria and the besieged northern city of Aleppo.
The crimes that European leaders allege against Russia and its Syrian ally are based on unverified claims issued by dubious networks evidently under the control of the anti-government militants. The militants besieging east Aleppo are dominated by head-chopping terrorist groups like the internationally proscribed Jabhat Al-Nusra.
When Russia unilaterally implemented a temporary ceasefire this week in Aleppo, an innovative live-streaming broadcast from the appointed humanitarian corridors proved once again the real nature of the violence.
Civilians trapped in the militant-held areas were shown to be held as “human shields” by the insurgents. While buses and other vehicles were waiting to ferry civilians out of the conflict zone, video footage recorded militants shelling and sniping at the humanitarian aid effort.
Those violations corroborated what citizens in east Aleppo have been saying for a long time – that they are being held against their will by the gunmen. Besieged people are even calling on the Syrian and Russian forces to continue in their operations to break the hostage situation and liberate that part of the city.
All across Syria, hundreds of villages and towns have been liberated by the Syrian army and its Russian allies since Putin ordered his air force to intervene in the stricken country at the end of last year.
One of the recent successes was the town of Qudsaya near the capital Damascus. Last week, thousands of residents rallied in the main square cheering President Bashar Assad, the Syrian army and Russia for their “liberation” after the foreign-backed mercenaries were routed from the town.
The foreign backers of the mercenary army that has plunged Syria into horror since March 2011 – with perhaps half a million dead – include the supposedly leading EU members Britain and France. Hollande is on record for admitting that France supplied weapons to insurgents in Syria as far back as 2012, when the siege of Aleppo began, and in breach of a European arms embargo.
What is going on in Syria is a military victory over a foreign-sponsored terrorist war on that country. Russia’s role in the liberation of Syria is principled and commendable.
Those who should be facing prosecution for war crimes include pious, pompous government leaders, past and present, in London and Paris.
If such prominent EU governments can be so wrong and distorting about something so glaringly obvious as Syria and Russia’s support, then no wonder the EU is in free-fall over so many other pressing matters. With criminally incompetent politicians in power, the EU is a bus with its driver slumped at the wheel.
Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s call for improved relations with Russia during his third debate with rival Hillary Clinton was sneered at as having a “bromance” with Russian President Vladimir Putin, US President Barack Obama said in a speech.
“Your [Republican] party’s nominee for president was kissing up to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, the former KGB officer,” Obama said while campaigning for Clinton at Miami Gardens in Florida on Thursday.
Obama ridiculed Republicans for supporting a presidential candidate who had repeatedly advocated having good relations with Russia and its leader.
“You [Republicans] are OK with your nominee having a bromance with Putin,” he added to cheers from his audience.
In his debate with Clinton on Wednesday night, Trump said he had never met Putin and repeated his previously expressed opinion that good relations between the United States and Russia were desirable. Trump has also called for cooperation with Russia in fighting the Islamic State terror group.
Wow, the world gets crazier every moment! Stephen Lewis, former socialist NDP leader from Canada’s province of Ontario was asked about PM Justin Trudeau’s letter to the UN asking for a special General Assembly meeting, as reported by the CBC yesterday:
The Canadian Mission to the United Nations has submitted a rare request asking the president of the General Assembly for a meeting of all 193 member states to “explore concerted action to apply pressure on the parties of the violence [in Syria],” now in its sixth year.
ON CBC this morning (Friday, October 14, 2016) Lewis was briefly interviewed by the CBC and clearly and distinctly chose the U.S. /NATO / western imperialist /mainstream media (MSM) position on Syria. He called Canada’s moves “artful and important.” His reasons were shallow and demonstrated clearly that his socialist ideals – at least as an international socialist – are not very near and dear to his heart.
He commented that “war crimes are being committed by Russia” but hopefully that “Russia may at some point be forced to reconsider,” its position. When questioned further on this he said he did not think that Russia – more specifically Putin, our now necessary evil ‘other’ personified as one man – would change its actions. Why? Because “Putin doesn’t care”, he wants to show that “Russia is back” and that is a “terrifying proposal.”
Double standards abound
Apparently the letter was co-sponsored by 68 other countries. All of them for sure sycophantic allies of the U.S. empire…. but perhaps underneath something unintended may occur.
Lewis said the meeting of the UN would “allow the world to express its outrage” at Russia’s war crimes, at the “destruction of children…the murder of children.” Most interesting here is that while Russia is being singled out with this narrative, the history of the U.S. empire over the past several decades appears to be getting a clear pass.
Does anyone remember the war in Iraq, an illegal war (all initiators of wars are war criminals) that caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (many children obviously, as most populations consist of about fifty per cent children)? And before that, an estimated 500 thousand children died as a result of U.S. sanctions against the Hussein regime. When questioned about this, then U.S. Secretary of State said the deaths were worth it for U.S. interests. War crimes? Absolutely.
And what about Libya and the war crimes committed there, with the destruction of civilian infrastructure and attacks against the government that went well beyond the UN sanctioned no-fly zone. More war crimes, more severe unintended consequences – although it did play into U.S. plans to eliminate Syria.
Back to Afghanistan where the U.S. “war on terror” simmers on. War crimes and crimes against humanity were committed there by U.S. forces and its “coalition” forces, including Canada. Afghanistan as you should well know, is now a mess of factional fighting with the Taliban controlling about a third of the country.
Before all those, Serbia was bombed illegally by NATO (which the U.S. leads and in which Canada played a major role), attacking civilian structures such as bridges, industrial plants, public buildings, businesses, and as an aside, the Chinese embassy. This was supposedly a “right to protect” operation, proved to be a preconceived excuse in order to weaken the Serb Republic and further contain a soon to be resurgent Russia. An estimated 500 civilians were killed – sorry, no child count there. But definitely a war crime.
And I probably shouldn’t mention Israel as I will instantly be labelled anti-Semitic, but the war crimes against civilians there – both in the West Bank and Gaza – have been ongoing for decades. The notable case here at least as seen from the MSM perspective, have been the Israeli attacks against the open air prison of Gaza (population now at 2 million). Hundreds of children have been slaughtered there using many “made in the U.S.A.” weapons, including chemical warfare (modified tear gas, phosphorous bombs), serving as well as a testing/proving ground for Israeli manufactured materials in support of their militarized economy. More U.S. supported war crimes.
The U.S. has committed war crimes of an overt or covert nature in 50 countries since WW II, disposing of non-compliant governments with violence against citizens of those sovereign states.
Careful what you wish for
Perhaps, just perhaps, the unintended consequences of the UN meeting might be the bringing to light the war crimes of the U.S., against children, against civilians, against sovereign governments. I don’t expect that as the U.S. controls the MSM for the western world. But to focus a call on Russian war crimes is the height of arrogance and hubris from a nation (Canada) that has supported U.S. war crimes and committed some of its own.
Yes, indeed, let’s have a special General Assembly meeting on war crimes, but let’s do it for the whole world and not just the sycophantic interests of an increasingly belligerent member of the U.S. imperial coalition.
The world does need to express its outrage – at war crimes committed by the U.S., about U.S. support for Saudi war crimes in Yemen, about U.S. support for Saudi support of the various salafist jihadi groups around the world.
Russia is back
Well, yes and no. Russia endured three major invasions from Western Europe (Napoleon, Wilhelm, Hitler), more invasions after WW I from western nations, and suffered under the “shock doctrine” of U.S. neoliberalism. The latter came about as the result of U.S. influence on the drunkard Yeltsin and created a country in decline ruled by oligarchs who stole much of the wealth of the country (Khodorkovsky, Magnitsky among them). Currently, the U.S. has a first strike nuclear policy with missile bases in Poland and Romania within minutes of the Russian heartland.
Not exactly a great history of western accommodation. And now NATO has expanded towards Russia’s borders, yet accuse Russia of aggression (??) – logic not being a strength of the MSM or the politicians of the west. The U.S. initiated the coup in Ukraine, just ask Victoria “F**k the EU” Nuland, partner of Robert Kagan, known neocon warmonger.
The MSM across the west, in collusion with the political elites, are doing their best to create an evil Putin leading an evil Russia trying to regain its empire. That they have succeeded in this image is a testament to the power of the MSM, the ignorance of the people of the west (most particularly in Canada and the U.S.), and the arrogance, hubris, and wilful ignorance of the elite class.
Russia is back (and Canada postures)
– and is scaring the bejesus out of the U.S. and its allies. It has obviously revived its military power, and in many cases is considered to be well ahead of the U.S. It’s economy, in spite of the best intentions of U.S. sanctions, is doing reasonably well as its home grown industries are being forced to develop more, and its agricultural sector has benefited from counter sanctions against EU products. Western action against China have created a Sino-Russian alliance stronger than it ever was during the Sino-Soviet era.
The latter has serious implications for the U.S. desire to be the global hegemon with full spectrum dominance over – everyone and everything. And for that, it is good that Russia is back.
For Canada and Trudeau to attempt to corral the western MSM message into the UN is simply political posturing. Whether it comes from wilful ignorance and arrogance, simple ignorance, simple stupidity, or a pretty boy posturing as the good guy Canadian mediator is difficult to discern. But it is definitely posturing – it is the U.S. that has created the mess in the Middle east, it is the U.S./NATO that has created the belligerence towards Russia, it is the U.S. military /industrial /political /financial complex that has created a world of fear and terror in order to attempt its global hegemony. Finally someone is capable of standing up to that – which unfortunately, given the U.S. propensity for nuclear sword threats, may result in the U.S. having created the perfect storm to induce world war last.
Copyright © Jim Miles, Global Research, 2016
If the dangers weren’t so great – a possible nuclear war that could exterminate life on the planet – The New York Times over-the-top denunciation of all things Russian would be almost funny, like the recent front-page story finding something uniquely sinister about Russia using inflatable decoys of military weapons to confuse adversaries.
The Oct. 13 article, entitled “Decoys in Service of an Inflated Russian Might,” was described as part of a series called “DARK ARTS … How Russia projects power covertly,” suggesting that the nefarious Russians aren’t to be trusted in anything even in the case of “one of Russia’s lesser-known military threats: a growing arsenal of inflatable tanks, jets and missile launchers.”
The bizarre article by Andrew E. Kramer, one of the most prolific producers of this anti-Russian propaganda, then states: “As Russia under President Vladimir V. Putin has muscled its way back onto the geopolitical stage, the Kremlin has employed a range of stealthy tactics. … One of the newer entries to that list is an updating of the Russian military’s longtime interest in operations of deceit and disguise, a repertoire of lethal tricks known as maskirovka, or masking. It is a psychological warfare doctrine that is becoming an increasingly critical element in the country’s geopolitical ambitions.”
What is particularly curious about Kramer’s article is that it takes actions that are typical of all militaries, going back centuries, and presents them as some special kind of evil attributable to the Russians, such as Special Forces units not dressing in official uniforms and instead blending in with the surroundings while creating deniability for political leaders.
American and European Special Forces, for instance, have been deployed on the ground in Libya and Syria without official confirmation, at least initially. Sometimes, their presence is acknowledged only after exposure because of casualties, such as the death of three French soldiers near Benghazi, Libya, in July.
Indeed, one could argue that the United States has excelled at this practice of stealthily entering other countries, usually in violation of international law, to carry out lethal operations, such as drone assassinations and Special Forces’ strikes. However, rather than condemning U.S. officials for their sneakiness, the Times and other mainstream Western publications often extol the secrecy of these acts and sometimes even agree to delay publication of information about the covert attacks so as not to jeopardize the lives of American soldiers.
U.S. Propaganda Network
The U.S. government also has built extensive propaganda operations around the world that pump out all sorts of half-truths and disinformation to put U.S. adversaries on the defensive, with the American financial hand kept hidden so the public is more likely to trust the claims of supposedly independent voices.
Much of that disinformation is then promoted by the Times, which famously assisted in one major set of lies by publishing a false 2002 front-page story about Iraq reconstituting its nuclear weapons program as a key justification for the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. Yet, the Russians are called out for activities far less egregious than what the U.S. government – aided and abetted by the Times – has done.
You could even view the Times’ article citing inflatable weapons as proof of Moscow’s perfidy as itself an example of another U.S. psychological operation along the lines of the Times’ article accusing Iraq of obtaining aluminum tubes for nuclear centrifuges, when the tubes were actually unsuited for that purpose. In this new case, however, the Times is heating up a war fever against Russia rather than Iraq.
Yet, as in 2002, this current psy-op is not primarily aimed at a foreign adversary as much as it is targeting the American people. The primary difference is that in 2002, the Times was helping instigate war against a relatively small and defenseless nation in Iraq. Now, the Times is whipping up an hysteria against nuclear-armed Russia with the prospect that this manufactured outrage could induce politicians into further steps that could lead to nuclear conflagration.
As German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier wrote in a recent opinion piece, the current tensions between Washington and Moscow are “more dangerous” than during the Cold War.
“It’s a fallacy to think that this is like the Cold War,” Steinmeier wrote. “The current times are different and more dangerous” because there were clear “red lines” during the Cold War where the rival nuclear powers knew not to tread.
Though Steinmeier, as a part of the NATO alliance, puts most of the blame on Moscow, the reality is that Washington has been the prime instigator of the recent tensions, including pressing NATO up to Russia’s borders, supporting an anti-Russian putsch in neighboring Ukraine, and helping to arm rebel groups fighting in Syria alongside Al Qaeda’s affiliate and threatening Russia’s allied Syrian government.
‘Regime Change’ in Moscow?
Further feeding Russia’s fears, prominent Americans, including at least one financed by the U.S. government, have called for a “regime change” project in Moscow. Yet all Americans hear about is the unproven allegation that Russia was responsible for hacking into Democratic Party emails and exposing information that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has tried to keep secret, such as the content of her speeches to Wall Street investment banks and other special interests.
Vice President Joe Biden has announced Washington will retaliate with some information-warfare strike against Moscow. But the reality is that the U.S. government, working hand-in-glove with the Times and other mainstream American publications, has been waging such an information war against Russia for at least the past several years, including promotion of dubious charges such as the so-called Magnitsky case which was largely debunked by a courageous documentary that has been virtually blacklisted in the supposedly “free” West.
The Times also has embraced the U.S. government’s version of pretty much every dubious claim lodged against Moscow, systematically excluding evidence that points in a different direction. For instance, regarding the shootdown of the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, the Times ignored a published Dutch (i.e. NATO) intelligence report stating that the only powerful anti-aircraft missiles in the area capable of hitting MH-17 were under the control of the Ukrainian military.
While it may be understandable that the Times opts to embrace claims by a Ukrainian-dominated investigation that the Russians were responsible – despite that inquiry’s evidentiary and logical shortcomings – it is not journalistically proper to ignore official evidence, such as the Dutch intelligence report, because it doesn’t go in the preferred direction. If the Times were not acting as a propaganda vehicle, it would at least have cited the Dutch intelligence report as one piece of the puzzle.
The Times’ relentless service as the chief conveyor belt for anti-Russian propaganda has drawn at least some objections from readers, although they are rarely acknowledged by the Times.
For instance, Theodore A. Postol, professor emeritus of science, technology, and national security policy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, tried to lodge a protest with the Times’ editors about the “inflatable weapons” story.
In the email, a copy of which he forwarded to me, Postol wrote: “This article is a very good example of the misleading foreign policy reporting that has unfortunately become a hallmark of the New York Times.
“The complete lack of sophistication of this article, coupled with the implication that the use of such decoys is somehow an indication of a Russian cultural bias towards deception is exactly the kind of misleading reporting that cannot possibly be explained as a competent attempt to inform Times readers about real and serious national security issues that we are today facing with Russia.”
Postol attached to his email a series of photographs showing decoys that were used by the Allies during the Battle of Britain and the D-Day invasion. He noted, “There is a vast popular literature about this kind of deception in warfare that is available to even the most unsophisticated nonexperts. It is simply unimaginable to me that such an article could be published in the Times, yet alone on the front page, if the oversight mechanisms at the Times were properly functioning.”
Postol, however, assumes that the editorial system of the Times wishes to provide genuine balance and context to such stories, when the pattern has clearly shown that – as with Iraq in 2002-2003 – the Times’ editors see their role as preparing the American people for war.
Putin: Moscow to keep counter sanctions, Clinton chose aggressive stance on Russia to distract from domestic problems
Russian President Vladimir Putin attending BRICS summit in Goa, India © Mihail Metzel / Sputnik
While meeting the media in Goa, southwest India, the Russian president was asked to comment on hot issues such as the US elections, the situation in Ukraine and Syria, and his refusal to visit France, rather than Moscow’s relations with its BRICS partners.
Deteriorating Russia-US relations: ‘It all started from Yugoslavia’
Relations between Moscow and Washington did not deteriorate because of or during the Syrian conflict, Putin said in a remark to a journalist, adding: “Just remember what was going on about Yugoslavia, it all started from there.” The Russian leader said that it’s not about any third side in particular, but relations worsen because “one country” wants to impose its policy and decisions upon the rest of the world.
“We are not against this country, but we oppose that decisions are made on a unilateral basis and are not thought through considering historic, cultural and religious peculiarities of one country or another,” even if there is a conflict within the affected nation, Putin said.
‘Sanctions aim to suppress Russia’s strength’
The US does not accept compromises, which is necessary to solve issues in world politics. Rather, it chooses a “counterproductive” policy of sanctions, Putin said. “Apparently, they don’t want to compromise, they only want to dictate. Such a style has formed over the past 15-20 years in the US, and they still can’t deviate from it,” Putin said, adding that restrictive measures never achieve the aims that those who impose them hope for.
“Regarding sanctions against Russia, whatever they are said to be linked to, be it events in Ukraine or Syria, I assure you, the aims of those who formulate such a policy [of restrictions] do not solve any concrete problem,” Putin told the media. Saying that “sanctions are aimed not at solving anything, but at suppressing Russia’s strengthening” as a robust participant in international affairs, the president said that such intentions against Russia would never be fulfilled.
Moscow, in turn, does not plan to ease its retaliatory measures, caused by western policies, the Russian leader told the journalists in Goa. “No way, they can get lost,” he said.
‘US officials snoop and eavesdrop on everyone’
Russia’s president was not surprised with US Vice President Joe Biden’s recent threats towards Moscow, and said that it’s not the first time Russian-American relations have been “sacrificed” for the sake of a US presidential campaign. “One can expect anything from our American friends. What has he revealed that is new? Don’t we already know that US officials snoop and eavesdrop on everyone,” Putin said, adding that Washington “spends billions of dollars” on its secret services “spying not only on its potential opponents, but on its closest allies as well.”
Russia portrayed as US enemy to divert voters’ attention from domestic problems
Meanwhile, Russia is not going to meddle in the American presidential elections in any way, the president told reporters, adding that Moscow has no idea what could happen after a new US leader is elected. So far Hillary Clinton has chosen “an aggressive stance on Russia,” and Donald Trump has called for cooperation, “at least in fighting terrorism,” but “no one knows what it will be like after the elections,” according to Putin, who said that both candidates might change their rhetoric.
Creating an enemy out of Russia is a means by which to distract attention from domestic problems during election campaign season, according to Putin. “There are many problems [in the US], and in these circumstances, many choose to resort to the tried and tested system of diverting voters’ attention from their own problems. That’s what we are currently witnessing, I think.”
“Portraying Iran and the Iranian nuclear threat as an enemy didn’t work. [Portraying] Russia [as an enemy] seems more interesting. In my opinion, this particular card is now being actively played,” Putin said.
It will be hard to settle the conflict in southeastern Ukraine with President Poroshenko’s propensity to avoid political commitments adhering to the Minsk peace deal, Putin once again warned. Recently, the Ukrainian leader has said that Kiev would not proceed with a political process in the region, as the issue of security has not been solved in the troubled part of the country.
“I think it’s only a pretext to not do anything in the political sphere,” the Russian president said, recalling Kiev’s obligations to amend Ukraine’s constitution, as mentioned in the peace deal. “If it’s not done, it means that the current government are not ready to solve the problem once and for all,” Putin said.
Commenting on future meetings with European partners to discuss the situation in Ukraine, the Russian president said that he had agreed with his French and German counterparts that it would be “viable” to meet only if the leaders’ aides manage to make progress in preparing some preliminary agreements.
On canceled Paris visit: ‘French side refused to take part in joint events’
Moscow is “always ready to talk with anyone,” but attending meetings on issues that have been originally out of the agenda is “senseless,” Putin said, answering a journalist’s question as of why he canceled his Paris visit recently.
“The main reason for my planned visit to France was the opening of our religious and cultural center, and visiting an exhibition of Russian artists. So the main aim of the visit was joint participation [with the French president] in these events. But because of the known Syrian issues the French side decided not to join the events,” Putin said, adding that “if the main reason for the visit dropped out,” there was no reason to go.
Catastrophe and Conflict in Aleppo
Tuesday’s House of Commons debate in Britain was filled with the hollow anguish of impotence, fresh with statements about Russian war criminality tossed about like freshly made blinis. Ever easy to point to, Russian support for a regime which Western powers wish to remove, at the expense of further catastrophe, has accelerated the ruthless disposition of the conflict. Peace talks have died in utero; the agents’ actions lack conviction and they pursue, instead, the moral outrage that only impotence engenders.
Hence the scenes of pent up indignation in the Commons, with members running up flags of desperation against a force they see as the Assad monster, backed to the hilt by bully boy Russia and theocratic Iran. At points, the descriptions of desperation became more insistent on a direct military confrontation with Russia, oblivious about the dangerous escalation of the entire conflict.
Aleppo has been raised to be a spectre of cruelty and devastation, a point that was driven home by members of the House after Russia’s veto of a UN resolution calling for a ceasefire in the eastern part of the city.
Individuals such as former international development secretary, Andrew Mitchell, have been pushing for a no-fly zone for months. Erroneously, and dangerously, Mitchell assumes that such zones of aerial engagement can be controlled and delicately managed, despite a proposed tracking of Russian jets by UK warships off the Syrian coast.
On BBC Radio 4’s programme, Mitchell claimed, “No one wants to see a firefight with Russia, no one wants to shoot down a Russian plane.” This is the same Mitchell who claimed that the UK, having learned hard lessons from Iraq, had a plan for post-Qaddafi Libya.
One would hate to have seen the alternative, though anyone with a sense of history’s nasty surprises would be wary about hyperventilating rhetoric on the moral register. For Mitchell, Russia’s behaviour regarding Aleppo matched “the behaviour of the Nazi regime in Guernica in Spain.”
The parliamentary proceedings during Tuesday’s three-hour emergency debate contained an element of farce, though foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, urged members to remember that “the mills of justice grind slowly, but they grind small”. He had held to the firm line, at least so far, that no-fly zones were simply too risky a proposition, an open invitation to expanded conflict and dangerous encounters.
That said, to help the grind towards some form of indignant justice just that little bit, Johnson urged protests outside the Russian embassy. The ledger board for political points was obviously something Johnson had in mind, arguing that other organisations needed to have their voice heard against Russian shelling and bombing.
This view has been appended to a growing list of calls by such company as US Secretary of State John Kerry and French President and François Hollande, who wish to Russia accountable for war crimes in the International Criminal Court.
This rather rich and discriminatory assertion is not so much focused on the regular civilian deaths occasioned by the airstrikes as the attack on an aid convoy that scuttled the latest Russia-US led ceasefire. Details have been traded and questioned, often with infantile fury, but the facts, as with so much in the Syrian war, remain grimly obscured.
The business of finding war criminals would, in any case, be a tough one, since these same powers assist a fair share of brutal rebels who have a good complement of atrocities under their belts as well. Sponsorship from Paris, Washington and London has never been doubted, and their efforts to destabilise the region more broadly have are a given.
What, then, of the no-fly zone proposition? Even the Democratic presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, has conceded privately about how devastating it could be in the Syrian conflict. In her 2013 speech to yet another shindig at Goldman Sachs, acknowledgment was made how the carnage would be significant in the event such a zone was implemented with any degree of effectiveness.
They’re getting more sophisticated thanks to Russian imports. To have a no-fly zone you have to take out all of the air defenses, many of which are located in populated areas. So our missiles, even if they are standoff missiles so we’re not putting out pilots are risk – you’re going to kill a lot of Syrians.
The result is clear, even from Clinton’s sometimes tortured logic: bodies, and more bodies: “So all of a sudden this intervention that people talk about so glibly becomes an American and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.”
As is evidenced by Clinton’s own scepticism, the no-fly zone for Syria is a cul-de-sac of sanguinary doom. Her initial comments came before the full blooded commitment of Russia’s air force had commenced. To implement such a plan now would not only amplify the massacre; it would ensure a regional conflict of ever greater savagery.
Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge. He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The events in the Middle East, Syria and Aleppo are the focus of global attention. Rarely has a battle been so decisive to the outcome of a war and the fate of hundreds of millions of people around the world
Hillary Clinton in the last presidential debate repeatedly called for the establishment of a no-fly zone (NFZ) in Syria. The concept, reiterated several times, clashes with the revelation contained in her private emails admitting that the implementation of a NFZ would entail the increased deaths of Syrian civilians. In a recent hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, General Philip Breedlove was asked what kind of effort would be required for the US armed forces to impose a NFZ over Syrian skies. With obvious embarrassment, the General was forced to admit that such a request would involve hitting Russian and Syrian aircraft and vehicles, opening the door to a direct confrontation between Moscow and Washington, a decision the General was simply not willing to take. The military leadership has always shown a readiness to implement the military option; so this time they must have sniffed the danger of a direct conflict with Moscow.
The Kremlin has publicly admitted to deploying in Syria the S-400 and S-300V4 advanced anti-aircraft and anti-missile systems respectively. The presence of the defense complex was intentionally announced as a factor of deterrence and is a logical strategy. The message to Washington is clear: any unidentified object in Syrian skies will be shot down. The United States bases much of its military strength on the constant need to project power, making its opponents believe that it possesses capabilities that others do not hold. Therefore it is very unlikely that the Pentagon would want to reveal to the world the worth of their stealth systems and their ‘legendary‘ American cruise missiles when faced with the S-300V4 or S-400. The Kosovo War serves to remind us of the F-117 that was shot down by Soviet systems (S-125) dating from the 1960s.
Hillary Clinton’s threats against Moscow were not the only ones. The present policy makers in Washington continue to make aggressive statements demonstrating their total loss of touch with reality. In recent weeks, hysterical reactions were recorded by the Pentagon, the State Department, top military generals, and even representatives of American diplomacy. To emphasize the unhappiness prevalent in some Washington circles, several articles appeared in The Washington Post and The New York Times calling for the imposition of a US no-fly zone in Syria, ignoring the consequences highlighted by Dunford. There are two hypotheses under consideration: hitting the Syrian army air bases with cruise missiles, or the use of stealth planes to bomb Damascus’s A2/AD installations.
Behind Washington’s frantic reactions and vehement protests is the probability of military defeat. The US does not have any ability to prevent the liberation of Aleppo by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Russian Federation. In the last fifteen days, the SAA and Russia have achieved significant progress, and it is this that has led to an escalation of tensions. Some of the most significant episodes reflecting this over the last few days include: jets of the international coalition hitting the SAA, causing 90 deaths; US government officials threatening Russia with the downing of her planes and the bombings of her cities, resulting in Russian civilian deaths; and the blaming of Moscow for an attack on a humanitarian convoy. The climax seemed to have been reached at the United Nations where the US representatives prevented a Russian resolution condemning the terrorist attacks on the Russian embassy in Damascus. It is interesting to note that fifteen years after the attacks of September 11, 2001, Washington finds itself defending Al Nusra Front (AKA Al Qaeda) in an official United Nations meeting; something to ponder. But apparently there is no limit to provocations, and a few days after this incredible denouement, the Pentagon was keen to point out that the possibility of a preventive nuclear strike against Russia is still valid.
It therefore seems almost simplistic to emphasize that because of the success of the SAA, Washington, Ankara, Riyadh, Doha and Tel Aviv are showing unprecedented signs of weakness and nervousness. Their commitment to overthrowing the legitimate government of Assad has failed. The combined action of the Syrian and Russian ground, air and sea forces pushed Washington and the corporate media to move from words of condemnation to increasingly open threats.
Last month the situation against the terrorists quickly changed in the north of Syria thanks to the Syrian Arab Army and its allies supported by the West. In Aleppo, the SAA continues to work every day with great success toward the city’s liberation. Neighborhoods and large areas are back under government control. The relentless advances of the troops loyal to Assad are altering the course of the war in Syria in favor of Damascus, eliminating the US attempts to remove the legitimate Syrian government. A victory in Aleppo would mean the near certainty of defeat for the terrorists in the remaining areas of the country. The closing of the border with Turkey would cut the supply lines, with consequences and repercussions throughout Syria. What would still remain open are a few crossing areas in the south of the country near the border with Jordan that have always been a supply source for terrorists. However, it would be very difficult for this supply line alone to sustain the conflict or adequately replace the one closed north of Aleppo. Especially in the north through Turkey, and to the west through the uncontrolled border with Iraq, the terrorists receive continuous supplies. The liberation of Mosul by the Iraqi army, Aleppo by the SAA, and Der Al-Zur in the near future, will pave the way for the strategic recapture of Raqqa, the last bastion of Daesh, thereby defeating even the Plan B to partition the country.
With the failure of the northern front, the terrorists will be faced with the probable prospect of the complete collapse of their operations nationwide. Some will continue to fight, but most will throw down their weapons knowing that they have lost the war. Once this is achieved, the liberation of the rest of Syria should be a matter of a few months. It should be remembered that the recapture of Aleppo would guarantee a crushing defeat for the regional sponsors of international terrorism (Qatar and Saudi Arabia).
Still, it is not only the advance of Aleppo that is cause for concern for enemies of Syria. Obama and his administration are now irrelevant, also because of one of the most controversial presidential elections in recent history. The uncertain future of Washington’s foreign policy has prompted partners such as Riyadh, Doha, Ankara and Tel Aviv not to hesitate in further adding fuel to the Syrian conflagration, worried about any future inactivity from Washington and eager to advance their own military solution to the conflict.
In the case of Ankara, the invasion of Iraq and Syria is a serious danger that risks plunging the region into further chaos and destruction, with the Iraqi prime minister not hesitating to label the Turkish move reckless and warning of the conflict expanding into a regional conflict. Saudi Arabia’s problems are even greater, as it does not have the ability, in terms of men and means, to intervene directly in Syria because of its disastrous involvement in the war in Yemen. The speed with which confidence in Riyadh is crumbling is unprecedented. Her large currency reserves are dwindling, and it seems it is because tens of billions of dollars have been squandered in financing the military action against Yemen. Another example of independent military action concerns Israel. Four years into the Syrian conflict, Israel continues its secret war against Hezbollah and Iranian troops, who are engaged in areas bordering Israel in fighting al-Nusra Front and Daesh. For Tel Aviv, there are still two options desirable to the Syrian crisis, both in line with their strategy, namely, the continuation of chaos and disorder, or a balkanization of Syria. In both cases, the objective is to expand Israel’s sphere of influence far beyond the Golan Heights, which were occupied illegally years ago.
The unsuccessful attempts of Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia to change events in Syria have highlighted the growing strategic misunderstandings between the United States and regional partners, misunderstandings that often oblige Ankara, Riyadh and Tel Aviv to turn to the Russian Federation for confidential dialogue, since Moscow is the only player able to adjust the delicate Middle East equilibrium.
In the near future, it remains evident to Moscow and Damascus that some risks still exist, despite a well-considered overall strategy. The acceleration in the liberation of Aleppo also has an ancillary purpose that aims to minimize maneuverability for the next American administration. In a certain way, it is a race against time: Aleppo must be liberated in order to chart the way towards the end of the conflict before the next US president comes into office in January 2017. It is yet to be seen whether Clinton or Trump plan to go beyond Obama’s empty threats, but understandably Damascus and Moscow have no intention of being caught off guard, especially with a probable Clinton presidency.
After years of negotiations with the schizophrenic diplomacy of the US, Moscow and Damascus have decided to protect themselves against any sudden decisions that may come from the American «deep state». Deploying the most advanced systems existing in air defense, Moscow has called Washington’s bluff as no one has done in years. The red line for Moscow was crossed by the tragic events of September 17 in Der al-zur. The creation by the Russians of a no-fly zone over Syrian skies has been repeatedly suggested. But incredibly, in the hours immediately after the cowardly attack against Syrian troops, the US Department of Defense and the State Department proposed the creation of a no-fly-zone that would serve to ground Russian and Syrian planes. It was a brazen and provocative proposal for Damascus and Moscow if there ever was one.
Sensing the danger in these words, Moscow acted immediately, deploying cutting-edge systems to protect Syrians skies with equipment that can shoot down cruise missiles, stealth aircraft, and even ballistic missiles (S-300 and S-400). To make sure Washington fully understood the message, the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) reiterated what was already publicly announced, namely that any unidentified object would be shot down immediately, as there would not be any sufficient time for Russian operators to verify the original launch, trajectory and final target of any objects detected. It is a clear warning to the US and its long-standing strategy that requires the use of large amounts of cruise missiles to destroy anti-aircraft systems in order to pave the way for a no-fly zone as was seen in Libya. The Russian MoD has even specified that American fifth-generation stealth aircraft could be easily targeted, alluding to a radius of operation of the S-200 systems, S-300 and S-400 (and all variants) that would surprise many international observers. This statement also seems to indirectly confirm another theory that remains pure speculation, which is that during the September 17 attack by the US on the SAA in Der Al-Zur seem, some jets from the international coalition were targeted by Russian or Syrian air-defense systems (perhaps S-200s or S-400s), forcing the airplanes to retreat before facing the prospect of being shot down.
Whatever the intentions that are hidden behind Washington’s hysterical threats, Moscow has suggested several asymmetrical scenarios in response to a direct attack on its personnel in Syria. In addition to the S-300 and S-400 systems, the MoD has openly declared its knowledge of the exact locations of US special forces in Syria, a clear reference to the Syrian and Russian ability to strike US soldiers operating alongside terrorists or ‘moderate’ rebels.
All of Major-General Igor Konashenkov’s recent press conferences have clearly shown new systems deployed in Syria for air defense, a more than intentional advertisement. Aside from deterrence continuing to be one preferred instrument adopted by Moscow, the unusually strong, direct and unambiguous words of the Russian MoD easily show how the patience of Moscow and Damascus has been exhausted, especially following the recent sequence of events as well as repeated threats.
In such a scenario, the US can only rely on one weapon: complaints, threats and hysterical crying amplified by the mainstream media, generals and the official spokespeople of dozens of agencies in Washington. Nothing that can actually stop the liberating action of the SAA and its allies.
The United States has no alternatives available to prevent an outcome to the conflict that is undesirable for it. Whichever route it chooses, there is no way to change the events in Syria. Even American generals had to admit that a no-fly zone in Syria is out of the question. It is easy for US State Department spokesperson Admiral Kirby to launch empty threats, but it is more difficult for the military to act on these threats while avoiding a nuclear apocalypse. Whatever the outcome of the upcoming presidential elections, the war in Syria for the United States and its regional partners is irretrievably lost, and the hysteria and provocations of recent weeks is symptomatic of the frustration and nervousness that has not been common for Americans in recent years.
The Russian President Vladimir Putin’s interview with the French TV this week almost entirely dwelt on the Syrian situation – fighting in Aleppo, in particular. Putin was frank about the US’ doublespeak – especially, its covert dealings with Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, and the calculated hour-long attack by US jets on a Syrian military base two weeks ago in tandem with ground operations by Islamic State fighters. The interview is an eye-opener. (Transcript)
Given the complete breakdown of trust in Russian-American dealings on Syria at the diplomatic and political level, it is hard to see what purpose would be served in the FM-level meeting being scheduled in Lausanne on Saturday, involving Iran, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Russia and the US. (Middle East Eye )
Perhaps, one ray of hope could be that the UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura’s formula that the rebel fighters, including those belonging to Nusra, be allowed safe passage to evacuate from Aleppo with their weapons so that the fighting can somehow be brought to an early end. Russia favors the idea and it seems Turkey is on board, too. Moscow has taken Tehran’s okay as well. If Mistura’s formula takes wings, there could be ceasefire in Aleppo.
But the broad thrust of the Russian-Iranian-Syrian campaign cannot conceivably be anything short of taking control of Aleppo. The one factor that goes in favour of some positive tiding coming out of Saturday’s meeting is that the Obama administration has run out of options on Syria and Washington is under compulsion to be seen as ‘proactive’ on Syria. (Times )
The control of the Syrian air space by Russia means that any military intervention may risk confrontation with Russia. Besides, US-Turkey relations too are on a roller coaster and without Turkey’s cooperation, Americans can’t go very far on Syria. On Wednesday, President Recep Erdogan warned Washington that Turkey will “resort to very serious steps” if the Obama administration drags its feet on the extradition of the Islamic cleric Fetullah Gulen. (Sputnik )
The following excerpts of an Iranian commentary (Fars news agency) bring out the US’ predicament:
- US officials are terrified to see eastern Aleppo fall into the hands of Syrian armed forces. They are furious about the allied forces of Iran, Syria, Russia and Hezbollah hitting its so-called “moderate rebels,” who are heavily armed and backed by the Pentagon… who have long been working with Al-Nusra and ISIL, shared their western arms supplies with these two groups and staged joint military operations with them everywhere in Aleppo, and every day you see one of them declares formal allegiance to either Al-Nusra or ISIL; the last one was Jund Al-Aqsa half of whom joined Al-Nusra on Sunday and the rest arrived in Raqqa on Wednesday to join the ISIL. The only way to stop the crushing defeat of its terrorists at the hands of the Syrian army and its allies is for Washington to establish a no-fly zone, which they cannot.
Clearly, the threats by US Secretary of State John Kerry to put Russia and Syria on trial for ‘war crimes’ and to impose fresh sanctions against Moscow over the Aleppo fighting, etc. – and, least of all, the veiled threat that US may have a ‘Plan B’ – are turning out to be bluster. With Russia’s decision to establish a full-fledged naval base at Tartus and a “permanent deployment” of Russian air force in the Hmeimin air base, it becomes a high-risk venture for the US to challenge Russian supremacy in Syria. Moscow’s politico-military objective in the 2-3 months that lie ahead will be to forestall even an interventionist US president such as Hillary Clinton.
Meanwhile, the realignments in regional politics also strengthen Russia’s position. Egypt’s decision to join hands with China and Venezuela to support the Russian resolution on Aleppo at the UN Security Council in the weekend – and, more important, to oppose the French resolution demanding end to air attacks on Aleppo (which Moscow vetoed) – has strained Egypt-Saudi Arabia relations. Since the vote, the Aramco, government-owned Saudi oil company, suspended oil aid to Egypt. The Saudi ambassador to Egypt left Cairo on Wednesday for consultations in Riyadh, prompting speculation about chill in Saudi-Egyptian ties. Russia is due to hold its first-ever military exercise on Egyptian territory next week.