Putin Derangement Syndrome is the imperialist gift that keeps on giving. It was created in the American war party laboratory because Vladimir Putin made it clear he would not be the next target for regime change. That logic of self-preservation is problematic when dealing with the United States. The act of protecting a nation’s sovereign rights has placed many a world leader in America’s cross hairs.
Of course Putin fought back when the American-allied government of Georgia attacked the South Ossetia region in 2008. When the United States overthrew the Ukrainian president in 2014 Putin reacted by annexing Crimea, where a Russian naval base was in need of protection from United States and NATO adventurism.
Putin has been a useful foil ever since and the corporate media happily carry Barack Obama’s water whenever he wants to evoke the bogeyman image in pursuit of his ulterior motives. Putin has been accused of murdering a London based Russian exile who was in fact targeted by oligarchs, shooting down an airliner over Ukraine even though there is no proof of Russian involvement and now scheming to rig the upcoming presidential election.
It would all be amusing if it weren’t so dangerous. Only the reviled Donald Trump asked a simple and reasonable question about United States/Russian relations: Why must the two countries be enemies? A much needed reconsideration of foreign policy orthodoxy has gone unaddressed because facts don’t suit the imperialist cause beloved by both sides of the duopoly.
Now the full court press of Putin-bashing is serving another purpose: assuring victory for Hillary Clinton. Her surrogates are eagerly using Russophobia to demonize Putin and Trump, lest voters take a look at her dismal record and dubious activities. When emails from the Democratic National Committee proved that party’s allegiance to Hillary’s candidacy and not the needs of the of rank and file, Putin was accused of hacking. Suddenly, words like “Russian digital fingerprints” appeared in the media and were readily accepted as being valid. The New York Times, Washington Post, MSNBC and their cohorts went into overdrive mode, making sure that the substance of the revelations was ignored. They repeated the fable of a Romanian hacker who suddenly became Russian and not just any Russian but one in Putin’s employ.
Julian Assange and Wikileaks have also been targeted in order to protect the Clinton candidacy from unknown shoes dropping. Only Russia benefits when western secrets are revealed, at least according to hyperventilation from the New York Times. Joy Ann Reid at MSNBC is so eager to please that she forgets the Soviet Union collapsed 25 years ago and ranted endlessly on twitter about “communist Russia.” Even the National Geographic channel has strayed from nature photography to present an hour long anti-Putin screed.
The press hysteria gives credence to every official lie. Despite the double talk of “isolating Putin” the Obama administration is in fact talking to Russian government representatives on a regular basis. The high school clique at the G8 group of nations may have kicked Russia out of their cool kids clubhouse, but Putin and Obama always end up talking when they are in the same place. The world is fortunate to have at least one leader who does his job despite being constantly insulted by an erratic and violent country. In a sane nation the fact of Putin’s relevance would silence foolish posturing.
The risks of American obstruction and pursuit of hegemony are already evident. It was bad enough that the United States killed Syrian soldiers as part of that ongoing regime change effort. Obama’s United Nations ambassador Samantha Power then went into full attack mode which made America’s culpability obvious. She offended her Russian counterpart, calling his demand for a Security Council meeting a stunt. She shrieked that Russia was to blame for its ally being the victim of American aggression. Without a hint of irony the New York Times then complained that the Russians and Syrians used the incident for propaganda purposes.
Despite nonsense about the media “normalizing” Donald Trump, it is the awful Barack Obama and his even worse would be successor who are being given a pass. Endless war has been normalized. Revival of the cold war has been normalized. The corporate media behaving like an arm of the government is normalized. Vladimir Putin is being used to normalize imperialism and to get Hillary in the oval office. Two birds dead with one stone.
The real loser is democracy, or rather what is left of it. Hillary’s campaign and its big tent of the ruling elites exposes the true nature of American politics. The Russians aren’t even in the same league.
Margaret Kimberley can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley(at)BlackAgendaReport.com.
Does the failure of the U.S.-backed, major insurgent August “push” on Aleppo – and the terms of the consequent ceasefire, to which some in the U.S. only irascibly agreed – constitute a political defeat for the U.S. and a “win” for Russia?
Yes, in one way: Moscow may, (just may) have cornered America into joint military air attacks on Al Qaeda in Syria, but in another way, one would have to be somewhat cautious in suggesting a Russian “win” (although Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s diplomacy has been indeed tenacious).
Secretary of State John Kerry’s Syria agreement with Lavrov though, has sparked virtual open warfare in Washington. The “Cold War Bloc,” which includes Defense Secretary Ash Carter and House Speaker Paul Ryan, is extremely angry.
The Defense Department is in near open disobedience: when asked in a press teleconference if the military would abide by the terms of the agreement and share information with the Russians after the completion of the seven-day ceasefire, Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, the commander of the U.S. Air Forces Central Command, which is directing the bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria, responded: “I think … it would be premature to say we’re going to jump right into it. And I’m not saying yes or no.”
But President Obama wants to define some sort of a foreign policy historical “legacy” (and so does Kerry). And the President probably suspects (with good cause possibly) that his legacy is set to be trashed by his successor, whomsoever it be – the minute he steps down from office.
In brief, the Establishment’s dirty washing is hanging on the line in plain sight. And it does not look great: Ash Carter, whose Department would have to work jointly with Russia in Syria, last week at Oxford University, accused Russia of having a “clear ambition” to degrade the world order with its military and cyber campaigns.
House Speaker Paul Ryan called Russian President Vladimir Putin an “adversary” and an “aggressor” who does not share U.S. interests. There is a U.S. media blitz in train, with powerful forces behind it, which paints Putin as no possible partner for the U.S.
Only in the coming days will we see whether Obama still has the will and clout to make the Syria ceasefire agreement stick. But the agreement did not appear out of the blue. One parent was the failure of America’s military “Plan B” (itself a response to the failed February ceasefire), and the other “parent” was Kerry’s wringing of a further concession from Damascus: Obama supposedly agreed to the separation of U.S. insurgent proxies from Al Qaeda (the former Nusra Front now called Jabhat Fateh al-Sham), and to their joint targeting, in return “for the what the Obama administration characterized as the ‘grounding’ of the Syrian air force in the current agreement,” as Gareth Porter has reported.
The U.S. and its Gulf allies – in pursuit of Plan B – had invested enormous effort to break Damascus’ operation to relieve Aleppo from the jihadists’ hold in the northeastern part of the city. The two sides, here (Russia and U.S.), were playing for high stakes: the U.S. wanted its Islamist proxies to take Aleppo, and then to use its seizure by the jihadis as political leverage with which to force Russia and Iran to concede President Bashar al-Assad’s ouster. Plan B, in other words, was still all about “regime change.”
Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city, has from the outset of this conflict been strategically pivotal – its loss would have pulled the rug from under the Syrian government’s guiding objective of keeping the mass of the urban population of Syria within the state’s orbit.
America’s long-standing objective thus would have been achieved – albeit at an indescribable price paid by the inhabitants of western Aleppo, who would have been overrun by the forces of Al Qaeda. Thus, the Syrian government’s recovery of all Aleppo is a major strategic gain.
In the end, however, the U.S. and its Gulf allies did not succeed: their much vaunted Plan B failed. And in failing, the insurgents have sustained heavy loss of life and equipment. Indeed, such are the losses, it is doubtful whether a “push” on this scale could again be mounted by Qatar or Saudi Arabia (despite the post-Aleppo “push” in Hama) .
In spite of the failure of Plan B, the U.S. was not ready to see Al Qaeda isolated and attacked. It wanted it protected. The U.S. ambiguity towards the jihadists of being “at war with the terrorists”; but always maneuvering to stop Syria and Russia from weakening the jihadists was plain in the letter sent by the U.S. envoy to the Syrian opposition Michael Ratney to opposition groups backed by the United States.
The first letter, sent on Sept. 3, after most of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement had already been hammered out, “makes no reference to any requirement for the armed opposition to move away from their Al Qaeda allies, or even terminate their military relationships, and thus implied that they need not do so,” Porter wrote.
A second letter however, apparently sent on Sept. 10, reverses the message: “We urge the rebels to distance themselves and cut all ties with Fateh al-Sham, formerly Nusra Front, or there will be severe consequences.”
Will it happen? Will the agreement be observed? Well, the Syrian conflict is but one leg of the trifecta that constitutes the “new” Cold War theatre: there is the delicate and unstable situation in Ukraine (another leg), and elsewhere NATO is busy building its forces on the borders of the Baltic Republics (the third leg). Any one of these pillars can be wobbled (intentionally) – and crash the delicate political framework of all the others.
Which brings us to the complex question of the current demonization of Russia by the Cold War Bloc (which includes Hillary Clinton) in the U.S. presidential election campaign.
Gregory R. Copley, editor of Defense & Foreign Affairs has described the situation as one in which the U.S. Establishment is deliberately and intentionally “sacrificing key bilateral relationships in order to win [a] domestic election,” adding “in my 50 odd years covering the US government, I have never seen this level of partisanship within the administration where a sitting president actually regards the opposition party as the enemy of the state.”
In short, the stakes being played here – in demonizing Russia and Putin – go well beyond Syria or Ukraine. They lie at the heart of the struggle for the future of the U.S.
There is practical evidence for such caution – for, three days before the Syrian artillery was scything the ranks of Ahrar al-Sham near Aleppo on Sept. 9 to close the chapter on America’s Plan B – (and four days before Ratney’s letter to the Syrian insurgents telling them to separate from Al Qaeda “or else”), Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in addressing the Ukrainian parliament, the Rada in Kiev, was eviscerating the Minsk II accords, brokered by German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande as the only possible political solution to the Ukrainian civil war.
“Moreover, in a difficult dialogue,” Poroshenko said (see here and here), “we have convinced our western allies and partners that any political settlement must be preceded by apparent and undeniable progress on security issues: a sustainable ceasefire, withdrawal of Russian troops and equipment from the occupied territories, disarmament of militants and their family – and finally the restoration of our control over our own border” (emphasis added.)
Poroshenko, in other words, unilaterally turned the accord on its head: he reversed its order completely. And just to skewer it further, he told Parliament that any decision would be “exclusively yours” and nothing would be done “without your co-operation” – knowing full well that this Ukrainian parliament never wanted Minsk II in the first place.
And Kiev too is deploying along the entire borders of Donetsk and Lugansk. (A description of the military escalation by Kiev can be seen visually presented here).
Is Poroshenko’s U-turn the American “revenge” for Russia’s “win” in Syria – to heat up Ukraine, in order to drown President Putin in the Ukraine marshes? We do not know.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden has boasted: “I think I tend to be in more direct conversation, for longer periods of time with the President [Poroshenko], than with my wife. (Laughter.) I think they both regret that (Laughter).”
Is it possible that Biden was not consulted before Poroshenko made his annual address to the Rada? We do not know, although within 48 hours of Poroshenko’s making his Rada address, Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in London, recommitting to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as he signed a “bilateral partner concept” with the Ukrainian defense minister.
What we do know however, is that this is – and is intended to be – a direct provocation to Russia. And to France and Germany, too. Within a week, however, Poroshenko was backtracking as “coincidentally” a new IMF loan was being floated for Kiev, just as the German and French Foreign ministers insisted on the Minsk formula of “truce – special status – elections in Donbass – control of the border” be respected – and as the Donetsk and Lugansk leadership unexpectedly offered a unilateral ceasefire.
But Poroshenko’s “backtrack” was itself “backtracked” by Sept. 16, when the French and German visiting Foreign Ministers were reportedly told that Ukraine’s government now refused to implement the Minsk accord as it stood, as it now insists that the order be fully reversed: “truce – control of the border – elections.”
The American bitter internal election “civil war” is now shaking the pillars of the tripod on which America’s – and Europe’s – bilateral relations with Russia stand. It would therefore seem a stretch now for Obama to hope to prevail with any “legacy strategy” either in the Middle East or Ukraine that is contingent on cooperation with Russia.
The U.S. Establishment seems to have come to see the very preservation of the global status quo as linked to their ability to paint Trump as President Putin’s instrument for undermining the entire U.S. electoral system and the U.S.-led global order.
To the world outside, it seems as if the U.S. is seized by a collective hysteria (whether genuine, or manufactured for political ends). And it is not clear where the U.S. President now stands in this anti-Russian hysteria having likened Putin to Saddam Hussein, and having accused the Republican nominee of trying to “curry favor” with the Russian president – for having appeared on “Larry King Live” which is now broadcast by Russia Today.
But the bigger question is the longer-term consequence of all this: some in the “Hillary Bloc” still hanker for “regime change” in Moscow, apparently convinced that Putin’s humiliation in either Syria (not so likely now), or in Ukraine, could see him deposed in the March 2018 Russian Presidential elections, for a more Atlanticist, more “acceptable” leader.
It is unadulterated wishful thinking to imagine that Putin could be displaced thus – and more likely, Ukraine (with its prolific ‘kith and kin’ ties to Russians) used as a lever to “humiliate” President Putin will prove counter-productive, serving only to harden antagonism towards the U.S., as ethnic Russians die at the hands of rightist Ukrainian “militia.”
But it is certainly so that this campaign is strengthening the hand of those in Russia who would like to see President Putin taking a less “conciliatory line” towards the West. So, we may be heading towards more troubled waters.
Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum, which advocates for engagement between political Islam and the West.
Russian and Syrian warplanes did not launch airstrikes on an aid convoy that was attacked en route to Aleppo, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The ministry added that only the militants who control the area had information regarding the location of the convoy.
“Russian and Syrian warplanes did not carry out any airstrikes on a UN humanitarian aid convoy in the southwest of Aleppo,” Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in a statement Tuesday.
The Russian Center for Reconciliation said that it had used drones to accompany the convoy because its route passed through territory controlled by the rebels, but only to a certain point.
“Around 13:40 Moscow time (10:40 GMT) the aid convoy successfully reached the destination. The Russian side did not monitor the convoy after this and its movements were only known by the militants who were in control of the area,” Konashenkov added.
The Red Cross said that at least 20 civilians and one aid worker had been killed after what the organization believed was an airstrike struck the 31-truck convoy.
The aid worker was identified as Omar Barakat, the director of a sub-branch of the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC), which was helping with the delivery of aid intended to reach rebel-held areas of Aleppo.
“Today, the Red Cross and Red Crescent is in mourning. In solidarity with the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, we are calling on the international community to ensure the protection of humanitarian aid workers and volunteers. We are not part of this conflict,” Tadateru Konoe, the president of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said in a statement.
Benoit Matsha-Carpentier, the head of communications at the IFRC spoke to RT and said there has been a loss of life, but it is difficult to understand fully what has happened.
“We have very diverse information and it is quite difficult to get a full picture of the situation,” he said. “Very tragically, we have volunteers from the Red Crescent who have been attacked. We have information that several people have died, but we don’t have confirmation on the identities.”
The SARC said it would suspend aid deliveries in Syria for three days in protest at the airstrikes on the convoy.
Meanwhile, the UN said it will be suspending all its aid convoys while the security situation in Syria is assessed.
“As an immediate security measure, other convoy movements in Syria have been suspended for the time being pending further assessment of the security situation,” UN humanitarian aid spokesman Jens Laerke said. He added that the UN had received permission from the Syrian government to deliver aid to all areas of the country.
The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is also postponing an aid convoy that was to deliver supplies to four besieged Syrian towns.
Earlier, the Kremlin said it was assessing the situation, while Vladimir Putin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said it would be incorrect to make hasty conclusions when trying to apportion blame.
“I do not think it is possible and correct to make unfounded conclusions. At the moment, our military is checking information regarding the airstrike and I hope they are getting concrete information from first-hand sources that were present in order to present their own findings,” he said.
Peskov also pointed out that terrorists from Jabhat Al-Nusra (Al-Nusra Front) had been firing rockets at areas under the control of the Syrian government.
“We know that the Syrian armed forces, who for the whole week have been the only party to have kept to the terms of the ceasefire, had to respond to this offensive,” he said.
After several years of arming and supporting Syrian rebel groups that often collaborated with Al Qaeda’s Nusra terror affiliate, the United States launched an illegal invasion of Syria two years ago with airstrikes supposedly aimed at Al Qaeda’s Islamic State spin-off, but on Saturday that air war killed scores of Syrian soldiers and aided an Islamic State victory.
Yet, the major American news outlets treat this extraordinary set of circumstances as barely newsworthy, operating with an imperial hubris that holds any U.S. invasion or subversion of another country as simply, ho-hum, the way things are supposed to work.
On Monday, The Washington Post dismissed the devastating airstrike at Deir al-Zour killing at least 62 Syrian soldiers as one of several “mishaps” that had occurred over the past week and jeopardized a limited ceasefire, arranged between Russia and the Obama administration.
But the fact that the U.S. and several allies have been routinely violating Syrian sovereign airspace to carry out attacks was not even an issue, nor is it a scandal that the U.S. military and CIA have been arming and training Syrian rebels. In the world of Official Washington, the United States has the right to intervene anywhere, anytime, for whatever reason it chooses.
President Barack Obama has even publicly talked about authorizing military strikes in seven different countries, including Syria, and yet he is deemed “weak” for not invading more countries, at least more decisively.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has vowed to engage in a larger invasion of Syria, albeit wrapping the aggression in pretty words like “safe zone” and “no-fly zone,” but it would mean bombing and killing more Syrian soldiers.
As Secretary of State, Clinton used similar language to justify invading Libya and implementing a “regime change” that killed the nation’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, and unleashed five years of violent political chaos.
If you were living in a truly democratic country with a truly professional news media, you would think that this evolution of the United States into a rogue superpower violating pretty much every international law and treaty of the post-World War II era would be a regular topic of debate and criticism.
Those crimes include horrendous acts against people, such as torture and other violations of the Geneva Conventions, as well as acts of aggression, which the Nuremberg Tribunals deemed “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Justifying ‘Regime Change’
Yet, instead of insisting on accountability for American leaders who have committed these crimes, the mainstream U.S. news media spreads pro-war propaganda against any nation or leader that refuses to bend to America’s imperial demands. In other words, the U.S. news media creates the rationalizations and arranges the public acquiescence for U.S. invasions and subversions of other countries.
In particular, The New York Times now reeks of propaganda, especially aimed at two of the current targets, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Russian President Vladimir Putin. With all pretenses of professionalism cast aside, the Times has descended into the status of a crude propaganda organ.
On Sunday, the Times described Assad’s visit to a town recently regained from the rebels this way: “Assad Smiles as Syria Burns, His Grip and Impunity Secure.” That was the headline. The article began:
“On the day after his 51st birthday, Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria, took a victory lap through the dusty streets of a destroyed and empty rebel town that his forces had starved into submission.
“Smiling, with his shirt open at the collar, he led officials in dark suits past deserted shops and bombed-out buildings before telling a reporter that — despite a cease-fire announced by the United States and Russia — he was committed ‘to taking back all areas from the terrorists.’ When he says terrorists, he means all who oppose him.”
The story by Ben Hubbard continues in that vein, although oddly the accompanying photograph doesn’t show Assad smiling but rather assessing the scene with a rather grim visage.
But let’s unpack the propaganda elements of this front-page story, which is clearly intended to paint Assad as a sadistic monster, rather than a leader fighting a foreign-funded-and-armed rebel movement that includes radical jihadists, including powerful groups linked to Al Qaeda and others forces operating under the banner of the brutal Islamic State.
The reader is supposed to recoil at Assad who “smiles as Syria burns” and who is rejoicing over his “impunity.” Then, there’s the apparent suggestion that his trip to Daraya was part of his birthday celebration so he could take “a victory lap” while “smiling, with his shirt open at the collar,” although why his collar is relevant is hard to understand. Next, there is the argumentative claim that when Assad refers to “terrorists” that “he means all who oppose him.”
As much as the U.S. news media likes to pride itself on its “objectivity,” it is hard to see how this article meets any such standard, especially when the Times takes a far different posture when explaining, excusing or ignoring U.S. forces slaughtering countless civilians in multiple countries for decades and at a rapid clip over the past 15 years. If anyone operates with “impunity,” it has been the leadership of the U.S. government.
On Sunday, the Times also asserted as flat fact the dubious charge against Assad that he has “hit civilians with gas attacks” when the most notorious case – the sarin attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013 – appears now to have been carried out by rebels trying to trick the United States into intervening more directly on their side.
A recent United Nations report blaming Syrian forces for two later attacks involving chlorine was based on slim evidence and produced under great political pressure to reach that conclusion – while ignoring the absence of any logical reason for the Syrian forces to have used such an ineffective weapon and brushing aside testimony about rebels staging other gas attacks.
More often than not, U.N. officials bend to the will of the American superpower, failing to challenge any of the U.S.-sponsored invasions over recent decades, including something as blatantly illegal as the Iraq War. After all, for an aspiring U.N. bureaucrat, it’s clear which side his career bread is buttered.
We find ourselves in a world in which propaganda has come to dominate the foreign policy debates and – despite the belated admissions of lies used to justify the invasions of Iraq and Libya – the U.S. media insists on labeling anyone who questions the latest round of propaganda as a “fill-in-the-blank apologist.”
So, Americans who want to maintain their mainstream status shy away from contesting what the U.S. government and its complicit media assert, despite their proven track record of deceit. This is not just a case of being fooled once; it is being fooled over and over with a seemingly endless willingness to accept dubious assertion after dubious assertion.
In the same Sunday edition which carried the creepy portrayal about Assad, the Times’ Neil MacFarquhar pre-disparaged Russia’s parliamentary elections because the Russian people were showing little support for the Times’ beloved “liberals,” the political descendants of the Russians who collaborated with the U.S.-driven “shock therapy” of the 1990s, a policy that impoverished a vast number of Russians and drastically reduced life expectancy.
Why those Russian “liberals” have such limited support from the populace is a dark mystery to the mainstream U.S. news media, which also can’t figure out why Putin is popular for significantly reversing the “shock therapy” policies and restoring Russian life expectancy to its previous levels. No, it can’t be that Putin delivered for the Russian people; the only answer must be Putin’s “totalitarianism.”
The New York Times and Washington Post have been particularly outraged over Russia’s crackdown on “grassroots” organizations that are funded by the U.S. government or by billionaire financial speculator George Soros, who has publicly urged the overthrow of Putin. So has Carl Gershman, president of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which funnels U.S. government cash to political and media operations abroad.
The Post has decried a Russian legal requirement that political entities taking money from foreign sources must register as “foreign agents” and complains that such a designation discredits these organizations. What the Post doesn’t tell its readers is that the Russian law is modeled after the American “Foreign Agent Registration Act,” which likewise requires people trying to influence policy in favor of a foreign sponsor to register with the Justice Department.
Nor do the Times and Post acknowledge the long history of the U.S. government funding foreign groups, either overtly or covertly, to destabilize targeted regimes. These U.S.-financed groups often do act as “fifth columnists” spreading propaganda designed to undermine the credibility of the leaders, whether that’s Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh in 1953 or Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
That’s not to say that these targeted leaders were or are perfect. They are often far from it. But the essence of propaganda is to apply selective outrage and exaggeration to the leader that is marked for removal. Similar treatment does not apply to U.S.-favored leaders.
The pattern of the Times and Post is also to engage in ridicule when someone in a targeted country actually perceives what is going on. The correct perception is then dismissed as some sort of paranoid conspiracy theory.
Take, for example, the Times’ MacFarquhar describing a pamphlet and speeches from Nikolai Merkushkin, the governor of Russian region of Samara, that MacFarquhar says “cast the blame for Russia’s economic woes not on economic mismanagement or Western sanctions after the annexation of Crimea but on a plot by President Obama and the C.I.A. to undermine Russia.”
The Times article continues: “Opposition candidates are a fifth column on the payroll of the State Department and part of the scheme, the pamphlet said, along with the collapse in oil prices and the emergence of the Islamic State. Mr. Putin is on the case, not least by rebuilding the military, the pamphlet said, noting that ‘our country forces others to take it seriously and this is something that American politicians don’t like very much.’”
Yet, despite the Times’ mocking tone, the pamphlet’s perceptions are largely accurate. There can be little doubt that the U.S. government through funding of anti-Putin groups inside Russia and organizing punishing sanctions against Russia, is trying to make the Russian economy scream, destabilize the Russian government and encourage a “regime change” in Moscow.
Further, President Obama has personally bristled at Russia’s attempts to reassert itself as an important world player, demeaning the former Cold War superpower as only a “regional power.” The U.S. government has even tread on that “regional” status by helping to orchestrate the 2014 putsch that overthrew Ukraine’s elected President Yanukovych on Russia’s border.
After quickly calling the coup regime “legitimate,” the U.S. government supported attempts to crush resistance in the south and east which were Yanukovych’s political strongholds. Crimea’s overwhelming decision to secede from Ukraine and rejoin Russia was deemed by The New York Times a Russian “invasion” although the Russian troops that helped protect Crimea’s referendum were already inside Crimea as part of the Sevastopol basing agreement.
The U.S.-backed Kiev regime’s attempt to annihilate resistance from ethnic Russians in the east – through what was called an “Anti-Terrorism Operation” that has slaughtered thousands of eastern Ukrainians – also had American backing. Russian assistance to these rebels is described in the mainstream U.S. media as Russian “aggression.”
Oddly, U.S. news outlets find nothing objectionable about the U.S. government launching military strikes in countries halfway around the world, including the recent massacre of scores of Syrian soldiers, but are outraged that Russia provided military help to ethnic Russians being faced with annihilation on Russia’s border.
Because of the Ukraine crisis, Hillary Clinton likened Vladimir Putin to Adolf Hitler.
Seeing No Coup
For its part, The New York Times concluded that there had been no coup in Ukraine – by ignoring the evidence that there was one, including an intercepted pre-coup telephone call between U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt discussing who should be made the new leaders of Ukraine.
The evidence of a coup was so clear that George Friedman, founder of the global intelligence firm Stratfor, said in an interview that the overthrow of Yanukovych “really was the most blatant coup in history.” But the Times put protecting the legitimacy of the post-coup regime ahead of its journalistic responsibilities to its readers, as it has done repeatedly regarding Ukraine.
Another stunning case of double standards has been the mainstream U.S. media’s apoplexy about alleged Russian hacking into emails of prominent Americans and then making them public. These blame-Russia articles have failed to present any solid evidence that the Russians were responsible and also fail to note that the United States leads the world in using electronic means to vacuum up personal secrets about foreign leaders as well as average citizens.
In a number of cases, these secrets appear to have been used to blackmail foreign leaders to get them to comply with U.S. demands, such as the case in 2002-03 of the George W. Bush administration spying on diplomats on the U.N. Security Council to coerce their votes on authorizing the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a ploy that failed.
U.S. intelligence also tapped the cell phone of German Chancellor Angela Merkel, whose cooperation on Ukraine and other issues of the New Cold War is important to Washington. And then there’s the massive collection of data about virtually everybody on the planet, including U.S. citizens, over the past 15 years during the “war on terror.”
Earlier this year, the mainstream U.S. news media congratulated itself over its use of hacked private business data from a Panama-based law firm, material that was said to implicate Putin in some shady business dealings even though his name never showed up in the documents. No one in the mainstream media protested that leak or questioned who did the hacking.
Such mainstream media bias is pervasive. In the case of Sunday’s Russian elections, the Times seems determined to maintain the fiction that the Russian people don’t really support Putin, despite consistent opinion polls showing him with some 80 percent approval.
In the Times’ version of reality, Putin’s popularity must be some kind of trick, a case of totalitarian repression of the Russian people, which would be fixed if only the U.S.-backed “liberals” were allowed to keep getting money from NED and Soros without having to divulge where the funds were coming from.
The fact that Russians, like Americans, will rally around their national leader when they perceive the country to be under assault – think, George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks – is another reality that the Times can’t tolerate. No, the explanation must be mind control.
The troubling reality is that the Times, Post and other leading American news outlets have glibly applied one set of standards on “enemies” and another on the U.S. government. The Times may charge that Bashar al-Assad has “impunity” for his abuses, but what about the multitude of U.S. leaders – and, yes, journalists – who have their hands covered in the blood of Iraqis, Libyans, Afghans, Yemenis, Syrians, Somalis and other nationalities. Where is their accountability?
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
Washington’s lie about seeking a genuine ceasefire in Syria is in danger of being exposed for the world to see. So, hilariously, a charade is being hurriedly orchestrated in order to hide this ignominy. As usual, the Syrian government is being scapegoated for the real cause of violence in the country. That real cause is Washington’s state-sponsored terrorist-fueled war for regime change.
After four days of continuing deadly breaches by US-backed «rebels» since the Kerry-Lavrov ceasefire deal was implemented last Monday, Washington and the dutiful Western mainstream media are preparing the inevitable excuses.
Rather than focusing on ongoing «rebel» violence in contravention of the truce, US Secretary of State John Kerry fingered the Syrian government for preventing humanitarian access to insurgent-held eastern Aleppo as the reason for why the ceasefire is in danger of collapsing.
Kerry accused the Syrian government of causing «unacceptable repeated delays» in delivery of humanitarian aid convoys to the northern city. Some 300,000 people are estimated to be stuck in dire conditions in the eastern side of Aleppo, which has become a key battleground in the five-year war.
Western media reports followed suit with Reuters reporting: «Syria ceasefire deal in balance as Aleppo aid plan stalls». Another publication, USA Today, made the more pointed claim: «The regime has broken its pledges on the distribution of life-saving supplies».
So, in Washington’s artful spin of events, it is the Syrian government of President Bashar al Assad which is reneging on the ceasefire arrangement by blocking food and medical supplies to starving civilians. This, of course, plays handily into the broader Western narrative that the Syrian «regime» is the ultimate villain of the piece. The vile Assad is mercilessly denying children food and water, goes the spin.
Based on that premise, Washington is giving notice that it will not follow through on its ceasefire commitment to join with Russian air forces for targeting terror groups like ISIS (Daesh) and al Nusra Front. Those anticipated «joint operations» between US and Russian aircraft were supposed to be the highlight of the ceasefire plan worked out last weekend in Geneva by Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
But that supposed «breakthrough» is now in doubt. McClatchy News reported at the end of the week: «US to Russia – Syria military cooperation not guaranteed».
US State Department spokesman John Kirby told reporters four days into the truce: «If, by Monday we have continued to see reduced violence and no humanitarian access, there will be no Joint Implementation Center [with Russian military]».
Washington is mendaciously trying to pretend that there have been no breaches of the ceasefire and that the whole problem revolves around «no humanitarian access» being granted by the Syrian authorities. If the US does indeed backtrack from its stated prior commitment to cooperate with Russian forces for targeting terror groups then it is safe to assume that the entire ceasefire «deal» will be dead, even as a rhetorical concept.
Admittedly, the level of violence in Aleppo and across the country subsided when the US-Russian ceasefire pact came into effect on September 12. Russian and allied Syrian forces halted their campaign of air strikes. Opposition violence appeared to abate too. Nevertheless, the truce was reportedly violated multiple times by anti-government militias, not just in Aleppo, but in other locations, such as Latakia, Hama and Homs.
Furthermore, there was no apparent distinction between so-called US-backed moderate rebels and recognized terror groups in carrying out these violations. All insurgents groups were engaging in sporadic attacks – in contravention of the putative ceasefire.
Credible Russian military reports confirmed that Syrian army units had observed the truce and had begun demilitarizing a major access road into eastern Aleppo. Syrian troops are being replaced by Russian units to safeguard the route. However, it is the militants who are refusing to withdraw from the Castello Road area, which would provide the humanitarian aid convoys access to the city.
Indeed, insurgent factions openly declared that they would continue shelling and sniping in the Castello Road precisely in order to prevent the aid convoys arriving because they opposed the ceasefire accord even being implemented.
Russia has correctly criticized the US as using a «verbal smokescreen» to conceal why the ceasefire is failing. The point is that Washington has negligible control over its declared moderate rebels. In fact, there is no control because in practice there is no distinction between the myriad illegally armed insurgents.
Like the ceasefire called earlier this year in February, this latest one is breaking down because all the militants continue to breach any cessation. As Lt General Vladimir Savchenko, chief of the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Syria, points out, the US-backed opposition is using the ceasefire simply as an opportunity to rearm and regroup.
And Washington’s policy is impotent about altering that. The CIA and Washington’s allies in Britain, France, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey armed the anti-government insurgents, including the known terror groups. The regime-change conspirators created a veritable Frankenstein monster over which they now have little control even to the point of getting it to at least appear to be complying with a ceasefire for tactical reasons.
The latest ceasefire is floundering like the previous attempt because Washington’s assertions about «moderate rebels» dissociating from «terror» groups is total and utter humbug.
Risibly, as one could have predicted, John Kerry’s bombastic appeal last weekend for US-backed «rebels» to «separate» from the extremists so that American and Russian forces could then get on with the task of eliminating the terrorists has been subsequently shown to be the consummate delusion that it is.
Washington and its allies are being caught out spectacularly in their lies over the Syrian conflict. The stone-cold truth is that they have been sponsoring terrorist proxies for the criminal purpose of regime change.
So conspicuous and damning is Washington’s nefarious role in Syria’s conflict – which has resulted in 400,000 dead and millions turned into desperate refugees – that this crime has to be covered up at all costs. But covering it up is becoming futile because of the increasing glaring reality.
Syria’s ceasefire is flawed because Washington, the supposed co-architect of the truce along with Moscow, is not motivated by finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict. The conflict is all about regime change and deploying terrorist agents to achieve that. That is why the ceasefire is failing – yet again.
The unbearable truth about Washington and its criminal gang of state-sponsors of terrorism has to be concealed from public view. And that is why Washington and the dutiful Western media lie machine are cranking up the «explanation» for the ceasefire unravelling as being due to the fault of the Syrian «regime» and its Russian ally for not delivering on humanitarian commitments.
This American smokescreen has been pumped out for nearly six years in Syria. It is really galling to hear the likes of John Kerry and Barack Obama talk about «human suffering» and the need for humanitarian ceasefires.
The suffering and violence in Syria will stop when Washington is seen for the criminal regime that it is. That day is coming. The American smokescreen is dissipating with each passing day because of its absurd contradictions.
And the terrorists – state sponsors and proxies alike – are finally being exposed.
The US’ sudden attempt to “help” the Syrian army fighting ISIS in the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, which resulted in a strike that killed and injured dozens of soldiers, does not look like an honest mistake, Russia’s UN envoy told journalists at the UNSC meeting.
“It is highly suspicious that the United States chose to conduct this particular air strike at this time,” Russia’s ambassador Vitaly Churkin said.
Churkin questioned why the US suddenly chose to “help” the Syrian army defend Deir ez-Zor after all these years, recalling how American forces just observed terrorists’ movements and did “nothing when ISIS advanced on Palmyra.”
“It was quite significant and not accidental that it happened just two days before the Russian-American arrangements were supposed to come into full force,” Churkin added.
Vitaly Churkin spoke to journalists after briefly leaving the closed-door UN Security Council meeting, which was convened by Moscow to give Washington a chance to offer an explanation for the actions of its military.
However, instead of discussing the issue, US ambassador Samantha Power immediately left the room to address the press and accuse Russia of hypocrisy.
The US envoy to the UN spent some 30 seconds expressing “regret” over the unfortunate coalition airstrike that resulted in the loss of the lives of Syrian soldiers, and insisting that even if the ongoing investigation proves the US military is indeed to blame, it had never been their “intention” to strike Syrian military.
After that, Power spent the next 15 minutes slamming Moscow’s “uniquely hypocritical and cynical” attempt to make Washington explain itself at an urgent UNSC meeting.
“Why are we having this meeting tonight? It is a diversion from what is happening on the ground. If you don’t like what is happening on the ground then you distract. It is a magician’s trick… we encourage the Russian Federation to have emergency meetings with the Assad regime and deliver them to this deal,” said Samantha Power.
“What Russia is alleging tonight is that somehow the United States is undermining the fighting against ISIL. The Russian spokesperson even said that the United States might be complicit in this attack … this is not a game,” she added, before going into details of how Assad government is to blame for the dire situation in Syria.
© Sputnik/ Alexei Druzhinin
Russia says that the situation in Syria is worsening finding that the rebels have intensified their attacks since the ceasefire came into force on September 12 and laying the blame at the feet of Washington for failing to crackdown on jihadists.
The Russian Foreign Ministry issued a scathing response to the Obama administration after a US Central Command statement suggested that the US-led coalition had warned Russia prior to the airstrikes against Syrian Army positions at Deir Ez-Zor that left some 62 Assad regime soldiers dead.
The statement by the Foreign ministry comes in the wake of accusations by Russia that the United States has not been dealing in good faith in the ceasefire agreement with Russian General Vladimir Savchenko saying that “the situation is worsening” with rebel forces escalating their attacks since the agreement went into force on September 12.
“Russia is exerting all possible effort to restrain Government troops from returning fire,” Senior Army General Viktor Poznikhir said.
The harsh response by Russia comes not only after the United States attempted to flip the blame on Moscow for the attack that killed 80 forces according to the SANA news agency, but also after reports that Daesh terrorists engaged in a major offensive right after the American airstrike crippled the Assad regime’s forces.
Speaking on Rossiya 24 Television the Rusisan Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said: “If earlier we had suspicions that the Nusra Front is protected this way, now, after today’s airstrikes on the Syrian army we come to a really terrifying conclusion for the entire world: the White House is defending IS [Islamic State or Daesh).”
US-led coalition jets have bombed Syrian government forces’ positions near the eastern city of Deir ez-Zor, killing 62 troops and “paving the way” for Islamic State militants, the Syrian Army General Command told the state television.
According to Syria’s official SANA news agency, the bombing took place on al-Tharda Mountain in the region of Deir ez-Zor and caused casualties and destruction on the ground.
Sixty-two Syrian soldiers were killed and over 100 injured in the airstrike by the US-led coalition, Russia’s Defense Ministry spokesman, Major-General Igor Konashenkov, said, citing information received from the Syrian General Command.
“We are aware of the reports and checking with Centcom and CJTF (Combined Joint Task Force),” the Pentagon told RT.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Saturday that the aircraft which carried out the bombings had entered Syrian airspace from the territory of Iraq.
Four strikes against Syrian positions was performed by two F-16 jet fighters and two A-10 support aircraft, it added.
“If the airstrike was caused by the wrong coordinates of targets than it’s a direct consequence of the stubborn unwillingness of the American side to coordinate with Russia in its actions against terrorist groups in Syria,” Konashenkov stressed.
The Defense Ministry also confirmed a report by SANA that an Islamic State offensive began right after Syrian Army positions were hit from the air.
“Immediately after the airstrike by coalition planes, Islamic State militants launched their offensive. Fierce fighting with the terrorists is currently underway in the area of the airport where for a long a time humanitarian aid for civilians was parachuted,” Konashenkov said.
The Syrian General Command has called the bombing a “serious and blatant aggression” against Syrian forces, and said it was “conclusive evidence” that the US and its allies support IS militants.
Earlier on Saturday, Russia accused the US of being reluctant to take measures to force rebels under its control to fall in line with the terms of the Syrian ceasefire.
Numerous Russian appeals to the American side remain unanswered, which “raises doubts over the US’s ability to influence opposition groups under their control and their willingness to further ensure the implementation of the Geneva agreements,” senior Russian General Staff official, Viktor Poznikhir, said.
Poznikhir also said that the truce is being used by the militants to regroup, resupply and prepare an offensive against government troops.
Last week, Moscow and Washington agreed to influence the Syrian government and the so-called moderate rebel forces respectively in order to establish a ceasefire in the country.
Since then, Russia has repeatedly complained that the US is failing to keep its part of the bargain. The US, on its part, has blamed Russia for not pressuring Damascus enough to facilitate humanitarian access to Syria.
The US is still reluctant to take measures to force rebels under its control to implement the Syrian ceasefire, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, adding that if things do not change, Washington will be the sole side responsible for the failure of the truce.
“After five days of the ceasefire, it has to be noted that only the Russian and Syrian sides have been fully implementing their commitments. On its own initiative, Russia prolonged the cessation of hostilities for 48 hours, and yesterday it was extended for another 72 hours,” senior Russian General Staff official, Viktor Poznikhir, said at a briefing in Moscow.
But, according to Poznikhir, it is very different on the American side as “the US and the so-called moderate groups under their control didn’t fulfill a single commitment undertaken in the framework of the Geneva arrangements.”
The Russian official pointed out that “the main priority of the Russian-American agreements of September was the division of territories controlled by IS (Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Jabhat al-Nusra, and the areas controlled by the ‘moderate opposition,’ as well the separation of the ‘moderate opposition’ from Jabhat al-Nusra.”
Such a division is essential for the implementation of the ceasefire in Syria because “without it, the hands of the government forces are tied. They can’t fight the terrorists without knowing which of them joined the truce and who didn’t,” he explained.
Numerous Russian appeals to the American side remain unanswered, which “raises doubts over the US’s ability to influence opposition groups under their control and their willingness to further ensure the implementation of the Geneva agreements.
“Russia is making every possible effort to hold off government troops from the use of force in return [to opposition attacks]. If the US does not implement the necessary measures to fulfill their obligations under the September 9 agreements, the responsibility for the failure of the ceasefire will be solely America’s,” Poznikhir said.
The inaction of the American side has already led to a worsening of the situation in Syria, the General Staff official stressed.
“Tensions are rising in Syria, especially in the provinces of Aleppo and Hama, where opposition groups are using the cessation of hostilities to regroup forces, refill their stocks of ammunition and weapons and are preparing an offensive in order to capture new territories,” he said.
“In the past 24 hours, the number of attacks has increased drastically. The positions of government troops, the people’s militia, and civilians were fired at on 55 occasions,” Poznikhir added.
Last week, Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, and US Secretary of State, John Kerry, agreed to influence the Syrian government and the so-called moderate rebel forces respectively in order to establish a ceasefire in the country.
Since then, Russia has repeatedly complained that the US is failing to keep its part of the bargain. While the US, on its part, blamed Russia for not pressuring Damascus enough to facilitate humanitarian access to Syria.
Lavrov talked to Kerry on the phone Saturday, urging Washington to start influencing the opposition in Syria in order to expand humanitarian access in the country, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The FM also called on the American side to actively participate in monitoring the Syrian ceasefire instead of merely accusing Syrian government forces of violations.
“Due to Washington’s continuing claims of ceasefire violations by the Syrian government forces, the Russian Foreign Minister urged them to go beyond accusations and to ensure the US military’s full-fledged participation in the ceasefire control mechanism created as far back as February and March and to take action against violations,” the ministry said in a statement.
Lavrov also stressed that “as result of Russia’s efforts, the issues of putting on track cooperation between the Syrian authorities and the United Nations in the area of broader humanitarian access are being solved, though not without difficulty.”
Farida Islamova, widow of murdered mayor Vladimir Petukhov
However much the likes of the Guardian try to portray Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky as a champion of freedom who suffered under the yoke of government oppression before escaping tyranny for the freedom of the West, the fact remains he was and is more Capone than Solzhenitsyn; a greedy robber-baron and willing tool of US hegemony, who exploited his country’s darkest hour, cheated his workforce and eventually served a well-deserved term in prison for fraud, tax-evasion and money-laundering, before scuttling out of his mother-land to live the life of a celebrated “pro-democracy” exile.
It’s less widely understood that there are even darker things being laid at his door than corruption, theft and opportunistic lying for profit. Murder for example. But yes, in 2015, Russian Interpol put Khodorkovsky on a wanted list in connection with the murder of a Siberian city mayor in 1998.
Vladimir Petukhov was the first mayor of oil-rich Nefteyugansk. Popular locally and considered to be a man of the people, he was shot dead on his way in to work, June 26, 1998. A subsequent criminal investigation described the killing as an assassination, and implicated two members of Khodorkovsky’s Yukos Oil Company in a plot to be rid of the Mayor.
A court eventually sentenced Alexei Pichugin to life in prison for multiple murders and attempted murders. His boss Khodorkovsky was not accused of, or prosecuted for, any involvement, though many have claimed he may have known more than he claimed. According to Pravda :
In May 1998 Petukhov accused Yukos of tax evasion, which resulted in the shortage of funds in the local budget to pay wages to employees of state-run enterprises. The mayor went on a hunger strike demanding chairmen of municipal and district tax offices be dismissed from their positions and a criminal case against Yukos be filed on counts of tax evasion.
Vladimir Petukhov was shot dead on June 26 on his way to work.
Local residents took to the streets soon after the assassination of their mayor. Many attempted to seize the local office of Yukos. The Office of the Prosecutor General of the Russian Federation brought assassination charges against an employee of Yukos’s security service, Aleksei Pichugn, only in 2005.
Petukov’s wife, Farida Islamova was and is convinced Mikhail Borisovitch was involved in the plot to murder her husband, and for many years she has been trying to have him brought to justice. She has even written a book – Khodorkovsky, who killed my Husband?, given an English language translation in 2014. In it she says:
Vladimir Petukhov, Mayor of Nefteyugansk, was shot down on his way to work, not far from the municipal administration building. The killer fired several submachine gun bursts from the cover of nearby bushes. Later on, the investigators would find 18 empty cases at the crime scene. In the face of such fire-power, the unarmed security man, Vyacheslav Kokoshkin, was helpless, he himself took several bullets, has never recovered from his wounds… At that time he was only 30 years old, and still today lives with one of these bullets – a sort of a message from Khodorkovsky – in his body…..
Vladimir Petukhov died in the hospital several hours after the attempt. That was a planned contract assassination…
Unsurprisingly, Farida has had little success in getting the English-language media to take interest in her story. No mainstream outfit has covered her book. Her wait for justice drags on as the western media continues to fete Mikhail Borisovich, embezzler of state funds, tax-evader and suspected murderer, as a symbol of the values they hold most dear.
Then again – maybe that’s not as stupid as it first sounds.
The wrap on the long-awaited China-Russia naval exercise in the South China Sea has been lifted, finally. From what Beijing disclosed today regarding the eight-day exercise (codenamed Joint Sea-2016), beginning on September 12, it is anything but a routine exercise. Make no mistake, it marks a leap forward in Sino-Russian military ties and signals a significant show of strategic congruence.
The Chinese Navy spokesman revealed that the exercise will be held “off southern China’s Guangdong Province”, without elaborating. Both navies are deputing surface ships, submarines, fixed-wing aircraft, ship-borne helicopters marine corps and amphibious armored equipment for the exercise.
The announcement said the two navvies will “undertake defense, rescue, and anti-submarine operations, in addition to joint island seizing and other activities…(and) in particular, will carry out live-fire drills, sea crossing and island landing operations, and island defense and offense exercises among others”. (Global Times )
China’s South Sea Fleet and Russia’s Pacific Fleet will be the participants. The SSF, of course, plays a major role in the disputed waters of the South China Sea and, in fact, was instrumental in occupying the Paracel Islands in 1974.
The exercise is taking place against an extraordinary backdrop. Only six days ago, Russia came out with a stance on the South China Sea issue, which is completely to China’s satisfaction. It was hugely symbolic that President Vladimir Putin personally articulated it – and from Chinese soil, as he was leaving for home after the G20 summit in Hangzhou. Putin said in reply to a query from a journalist:
- I’ve developed a very good relationship based on trust with President Xi Jinping. I would say a friendly relationship. However, he has never – I would like to underscore this – he has never asked me to comment on this (South China Sea) issue or intervene in any way. Nothing of the kind has ever passed his lips. Nevertheless, of course, we have our own opinion on this. What is it? First of all, we do not interfere. We believe that interference by any power from outside the region will only hurt the resolution of these issues. I believe the involvement of any third-party powers from outside the region is detrimental and counterproductive. That’s my first point.
- Second, as far as the Hague Arbitration Court and its rulings are concerned, we agree with and support China’s position to not recognise the court’s ruling. And I’ll tell you why. It is not a political but a purely legal position. It is that any arbitration proceedings should be initiated by parties to a dispute while a court of arbitration should hear the arguments and positions of the parties to the dispute. As is known, China did not go the Hague Court of Arbitration and no one there listened to its position. So, how can these rulings be deemed fair? We support China’s position on the issue. (Kremlin website)
It is a calibrated stance that does not take any side on the disputes as such and simply ignored UNCLOS, et al, but it pointedly snubs Washington’s interference. It serves Beijing’s purpose, while for Moscow it no way jeopardises Russia’s developing strategic ties with Vietnam or with the ASEAN. Beijing is pleased. The Chinese Foreign Ministry lauded Putin’s remarks. (MFA)
Moscow and Beijing kept fine-tuning the details of the exercise, presumably taking into account the fluidity in the regional security. One reason could be the US’ decision to depute the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to South Korea for a naval exercise in mid-October. The drill is projected as a show of strength to North Korea but it is being held at a time of heightened regional tensions over North Korea and the USS Reagan is part of a Japan-based American strike group and the only forward-deployed aircraft carrier in the region.
Interestingly, the visiting speaker of the upper house of Russia’s parliament Valentina Matviyenko stated in Beijing on Friday that Russia and China have identical positions on North Korea. A day later, on Saturday, Russian Foreign Ministry issued a joint appeal with China calling for avoidance of precipitate moves.
Putin’s remarks on South China Sea were by no means ex-tempore. The big question is whether Moscow and Beijing could be exploring the matrix of an alliance that is unlike a formal alliance but prepares them nonetheless to push back at a probable shift in the US’ policies in a pronounced interventionist direction and a greater readiness to use military power under the next US president. The deployment of the THAAD missile defence system in South Korea is a matter of common concern for Russia and China. Again, despite the seamless charm offensive by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, Putin does not intend to make any territorial concessions to Japan over the Kuriles.
Indeed, the idea of a Sino-Russian alliance is not new. In 2014, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu explicitly aired the idea of a common front with China to fight terrorism and counter US-sponsored ‘color revolutions’. In a significant reference just before the visit to Hangzhou, Putin described Russia’s relations with China as “a comprehensive partnership and strategic cooperation”. Again, at the meeting with Putin in Hangzhou on September 4, Xi explicitly called for closer, tighter strategic alignment between the two countries. (Xinhua )
By Finian Cunningham | Sputnik | September 11, 2016
Tough negotiations between America and Russia’s top diplomats have managed to produce a tentative ceasefire plan for Syria. But Washington doesn’t really want a ceasefire. More likely, a respite for its regime-change proxies.
After more than 13 hours of intense discussions in Geneva this weekend, on top of months of back-and-forth talks, US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov emerged in a joint press conference to announce that a cessation in fighting would begin this week.
A previous attempt at implementing a truce back in February failed within days of that initiative because anti-government insurgents affiliated with the al-Qaeda terrorist network refused to abide by that earlier agreement.
There is no reason why this second ceasefire attempt should otherwise succeed in holding.
There may well be a temporary lull in violence simply because opposition militia will avail of the opportunity to regroup and repair. But the core of the insurgents are dominated by terrorist groups like Jabhat Fatah al Sham (formerly al-Nusra Front) and Daesh and numerous other affiliates.
These proscribed terror groups have no interest in negotiating a political transition in Syria with the incumbent government of President Bashar Assad. Their whole purpose is to overthrow the state and turn it into a so-called caliphate ruled by fear.
This gets to the kernel of why the ceasefire deal worked out by Kerry and Lavrov is fatally flawed.
Arguably, the Russian side is negotiating in good faith with the genuine intention of achieving a peaceful resolution to the nearly six-year-old conflict, which has resulted in 400,000 dead and millions displaced from their homes. But not so the American side.
We must always keep firmly in mind that the conflict in Syria was instigated in the first place by the US and other foreign powers for the objective of regime change against the Assad government – a long-time ally of Russia and Iran.
Recall that former French Foreign Minister Roland Dumas revealed in 2013 that the foreign conspiracy for regime change in Syria was hatched at least two years before the violence erupted in March 2011.
This US-led criminal agenda for regime change has not changed. When John Kerry talks about getting Russia to sign up to a “political transition” he means a process which will culminate in the ouster of the Assad government.
At the Geneva press conference this weekend, the US diplomat clearly said that he was coordinating his efforts with those of the exiled opposition group called the High Negotiations Committee. Days before, the Saudi-backed HNC unveiled yet another “vision” demanding “transition” and Assad’s departure.
On the Geneva meeting this weekend, the Washington Post reported: “Kerry acknowledged the truth of the Russian charge that some opposition groups are fighting in tandem with the [al-Nusra] Front and said it was incumbent on them to now make a choice.”
The paper also noted: “Both Kerry and Lavrov emphasized that outside supporters of all non-terrorist [sic] belligerents would have to bring their allies in line.”
Without this putative separation of “moderates” and “terrorists” then there can be no feasible premise for a substantive cessation of violence. The proposal for US and Russian forces to subsequently cooperate in carrying out air strikes against terror groups is therefore a non-starter.
The confidence for this assertion is because, as Kerry half-acknowledged, there is no distinction between “moderate rebels” and “terrorists”. They are all part of the same regime-change proxy army that the US and its NATO and regional allies orchestrated from the outset of this reprehensible conflict.
Expecting these proxies to somehow sort themselves into “good guys” and “bad guys” is a ludicrous conception of how and why the war was instigated and prosecuted.
Washington and the Western news media engage in euphemisms of how these groups are “intermingled”, “overlap” and “marbled”. But such attempts at differentiation are either deluded or deceitful. For virtually all the anti-government insurgents are integrated into the same terrorist front. That’s why months of Russian admonitions to the US to segregate its supposed moderates from the terrorists have resulted in no separation.
For John Kerry to propose at this late stage for “non-terrorist belligerents” to get onboard with the ceasefire is nothing but a cynical ruse.
So what is Washington really seeking? Part of the proposed deal involves Russian and Syrian forces calling off their offensive against eastern Aleppo – the so-called “lifting of the siege” and supplying “humanitarian aid” to insurgent-held areas.
Cynically, but realistically, those provisions are less about halting violence and humanitarian effort and more about giving the foreign-backed regime-change forces a much needed breathing space.
Ever since Russia sent its forces into Syria at the end of last year, the US-led regime-change war has turned into a losing campaign.
What Washington and its other foreign co-conspirators – Britain, France, Turkey, Israel and Saudi Arabia – badly need is to give their proxies a respite from the withering offensive of the Syrian army and its Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah allies.
A reasonable conjecture is that the Pentagon and CIA war planners – Kerry’s ultimate bosses – want a holding and reorganizing position until Hillary Clinton is elected as the new president. Lame-duck Obama has been too much of a ditherer and not sufficiently gung-ho about regime change in Syria.
Clinton, on the other hand, has vowed to step up American military intervention in Syria. She has called for setting up of no-fly zones and a tougher stance towards Assad and Russia.
But if Syrian and Russian forces continue their rate of attrition against the regime-change proxies, there may be little of these foreign assets left by the time Clinton takes office early next year. Hence, the insurgents must be salvaged from their precipitous defeat – and this is what really pertains to the “ceasefire” that Kerry has appeared so keen to accomplish.
The conjecture of a “holding, reorganizing position” also tallies with the recent invasion by Turkish military forces into northern Syria and the joint US-Turk annexation of territory. It suggests that a greater war effort for regime change is being anticipated for when Clinton takes office. (Assuming Donald Trump’s candidacy can be wrecked by the relentless US media vilification he is being subjected to.)
Which begs the question: why have Russia and the Syrian government apparently gone along with this latest ceasefire arrangement? If, that is, it is a cynical ruse for regime change?
Why don’t Syria and Russia just drive on with their very effective offensive to defeat the terrorist regime-change front?
Perhaps, Syria and Russia have their own calculations for regrouping and refining tactics for resuming even greater offensive power.
Or perhaps, Russia knows all too well, privately, that the Americans are full of claptrap. This latest ceasefire proposal has no chance of working because of the inherent flaws. But Russia’s international reputation has little to lose from “giving peace a chance”. [a likelier conjecture]
So, let Washington’s proposal for “separation” of insurgents fail, fail, and fail again, and let the world come to see the utter fallacy and criminality of American policy.
The trouble, however, is that more delay gives more leverage to a Clinton presidency and what promises to be a far more warmongering next White House administration.
Finian Cunningham is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England. For nearly 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.