Russia says the United States and its western allies rejected Moscow’s proposal to form an advisory center in Jordan for coordinating actions in Syria.
“Our minister proposed holding a telephone conversation with (US Defense Secretary) Ashton Carter on Jan. 19, but we were given to understand that such a talk was not expedient,” Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov was quoted by Interfax as saying on Friday.
Earlier in the day, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg criticized Russia’s military campaign against terrorists in Syria, saying the air raids were “undermining the efforts to find a political solution to the conflict.”
The UN-brokered peace talks between delegates from the Syrian government and divided opposition were suspended on Wednesday only three days after their shaky start. The talks are not expected to resume until February 25.
The Geneva negotiations were halted after the so-called High Negotiations Committee (HNC), a Saudi-backed anti-Damascus opposition group, failed to show up at a meeting.
The Syrian government delegation blamed the opposition for the failure of the peace talks, accusing it of pulling out because it was losing the fight on the ground.
The HNC’s pullout came as Syrian armed forces, backed by Russian air cover, made significant gains against Takfiri militant groups on several fronts. Moscow began pounding terror groups in Syria last September upon a request by Damascus.
Meanwhile, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow supports diplomatic measures to end the conflict in Syria while continuing its military assistance to the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
“Russia is consistently making efforts within the general international framework of seeking a peaceful and political settlement to the situation in Syria. At the same time, Russia is providing support to the legitimate leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic in its fight against terror,” he said.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia are apparently ready to send ground forces to the Syrian battlefield, but although a direct invasion has not yet been launched, an indirect one is already happening, political scientist Yuri Pochta told Radio Sputnik.
“The fact of the matter is that the invasion is already taking place, but it is indirect. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are acting through rebel groups that are fighting against Damascus,” Pochta explained. “These militants have been less active since Russia launched its aerial campaign. They are losing in several regions.”
Indeed, the Syrian Arab Army, assisted by Russian warplanes and Hezbollah fighters, has managed to turn the tide of war in recent months and is currently on the offensive. This year, Damascus-led forces have scored major victories in Latakia and other provinces, while militants from Daesh and other terrorist groups are retreating. Turkey and Saudi Arabia have backed some of these rebels.
Ankara and Riyadh have “apparently decided to ‘save the day’: to launch a direct ground operation in Syria and overthrow President Bashar al-Assad,” he suggested.
Evidence, supporting this sentiment, has surfaced this week. On Thursday, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced that Ankara was “actively,” but covertly preparing to launch a military campaign in Syria. On the same day, Saudi Arabia confirmed its readiness to take part in a ground operation, if the US-led coalition would support one.
Pochta warned that Turkey and Saudi Arabia would further complicate the situation in Syria if they decide to send ground forces to an already overcrowded battlefield. Many experts have long pointed out that resolving Syrian crisis is a major challenge due to the sheer number of stakeholders involved.
“Who will they be fighting against? Will it not turn into a real war, involving Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Syria? Then there is Russia… And Turkey is a member of NATO. The situation is increasingly exacerbated at a time when hundreds of different rebel groups take part in the fighting. Syria is being transformed into a gray zone. Local, regional and global players are all pursuing their own interests. The majority wants to destroy the Syrian state and society. This is tragic,” the analyst added.
“Russia bombing Syria will lead to further radicalization and increased terrorism”. Prime Minister David Cameron, 4th October 2015.
How desperately Prime Minister Cameron has been yearning to bomb the Syrian Arab Republic.
In August 2013 when his aim was defeated in Parliament by a 285-272 vote, his vision of the UK joining US-led strikes bit the dust. His dreams of illegally joining the bigger bully and bombing an historic nation of just 22.85 million people (2013 figures) three and a half thousand kilometers away, posing no threat to Britain, was thwarted.
The US threw a conciliatory bone to the snarling Cameron and according to the BBC (1): “would ‘continue to consult’ with the UK, ‘one of our closest allies and friends.’
France said (that) the UK’s vote does not change its resolve on the need to act in Syria.
After the vote … Cameron said it was clear Parliament did not want action and ‘the government will act accordingly.’
Chancellor George Osborne whined on BBC Radio 4′s flagship “Today” programme that: “there would now be “national soul searching about our role in the world “, adding: “I hope this doesn’t become a moment when we turn our back on all of the world’s problems.
Translation: “Inconsequential politicians on small island only feel like real men when sending off their depleted air force to blow modest populations far away to bits.”
The then Defence Secretary Philip Hammond: “ … told BBC’s Newsnight programme that he and the Prime Minister were “disappointed” with the result, saying it would harm Britain’s “special relationship” with Washington. Ah ha, that tail wagging, panting, lap dog “special relationship” again, for which no body part licking, no crawling on all fours, no humiliation, no deviation of international law is too much.
The excuse for the 2013 rush to annihilate was accusations that the Syrian government had used chemical weapons in March and August of that year, a claim subsequently comprehensively dismissed by detailed UN investigations (2.)
Cameron’s excuse for attack had all the validity of Tony Blair’s fantasy Iraq weapons of mass destruction, but of course he regards Blair as a trusted advisor. Judgement, it might be argued, as Blair’s, is not one of Cameron’s strong attributes.
Then came the Friday 13th November tragedies in Paris and by 2nd December Cameron’s parliamentary press gangs managed to threaten and arm twist through a vote to attack Syria in an action of shame which will surely haunt him as Blair is haunted by Iraq.
As the bombs fell, on 6th December, Cameron celebrated the anniversary of his his tenth year as Leader of the Conservative Party with his very own military action, Libya’s tragedy forgotten and belonging to yesterday. That, as Blair’s Iraq, it is entirely illegal (3) apparently bothers the former PR man not a whit.
As the Parliamentary debate was taking place, before the vote, it was reported that RAF reconnaissance ‘planes had already taken off for Syria from Scotland – of whose fifty nine parliamentarians, fifty seven voted against the attack. Cameron thumbed his arrogant nose to near and far.
Apart from the illegality, did it even cross Cameron’s mind, or did he care, that using the Paris attack not only defied law, it defied reason. To repeat again, the attackers were French and Belgian born, of North African extraction, with no Syrian connections apart from that some of them had been there joining the organ eating, head chopping, people incinerating terrorists. Syria is the victim, not the perpetrator, deserving aid and protection, not cowardly retribution from 30,000 feet.
After the vote, pro-killing MPs reportedly went straight into the Commons bar to celebrate with tax payer subsidized booze. Warned that the main doors in to Parliament had been closed due to anti-war protesters outside, one woman MP apparently shouted gleefully “It’s a lock in.” How lightly mass murder is taken in the Palace of Westminster.
Chancellor George Osborne: “eschewed the celebratory drinks … and joined a carol service in nearby St. Margaret’s Church – in aid of a charity for child amputees. You couldn’t make it up”, wrote a ballistic friend.
Within a week Osborne was in the US addressing the Council on Foreign Relations stating that with the air strikes Britain had “got it’s mojo back” and stood with the United States to “reassert Western values.”
It was he said “a real source of pride” to have the authority for air strikes in Syria.
“Britain has got its mojo back and we are going to be with you as we reassert Western values, confident that our best days lie ahead.”
Britain was prepared to play a “bigger role”, he vowed.
“Mojo” according to varying dictionaries means “a quality that attracts people to you, makes you successful and full of energy”, denotes “influence” and “sex appeal.” The man needs help.
Immediately after the vote during a visit to RAF Akrotiri, the British base in Cyprus from which the airborne killers will take off to drop their human being incinerating ordnance, UK Defence Secretary, Michael Fallon, told military personnel that their mission had the backing of “both the government and the people of Britain.” He lied.
A recent ITV poll showed 89.32 % of British people against bombing. Governmental “mojo” has clearly passed them by.
Pro bombing MPs though, it seems, are anything but warrior material. When angry emails arrived from their constituents condemning the bombing, the heavyweight Deputy Leader of the Labour Party, Tom Watson (pro bombing) complained of “bullying” saying stronger social media policy was needed to prevent such correspondence.
Anti war campaigners had also sent graphic photographs of dead Syrian children to MPs to persuade them not to vote for creating more mutilated little souls. This, the warmongers said, was “intimidation.”
One pro-war parliamentarian said the messages led him to have concerns for the health of his pregnant wife. Beyond pathetic, try being the husband of a pregnant wife, or the wife, in Syria with Britain’s bombs incinerating your neighbourhood.
Another MP was so keen to become a member of the “bullied” club, she was found to have added a death threat to herself at the end of a justifiably angry email from a member of the public. Her attempt to was speedily uncovered. The desire to tarnish those repelled by illegally murdering others is seemingly becoming common currency in the Cameron Reichstag.
A majority of British politicians, prepared to drop bombs on people, blow their children, parents, relatives, villages, towns, homes to bits and are cowed by a few words. As for “bullied”, try being under a bomb Mr Watson, one of the bombs you voted for. “Bullying” doesn’t come bigger than that.
Upset at being sent pictures of dead babies? Imagine being a mother or father holding the shredded remains of theirs. Courtesy the RAF.
Have they any idea of the reality of their “mojo” moment? People tearing at the tons of rubble that was a home, trying to dig friends, beloveds out with bare, bleeding hands?
Further reality is the demented, terrified howls of the dogs who hear the ‘planes long before the human ear can, the swathes of birds that drop from the sky from the fear and vibration, their bodies carpeting the ground, the cats that go mad with fear, rushing from a loving home, never to be seen again. And the children that become mute in their terror, losing the ability to speak for weeks, sometimes months and even years.
Yet David Cameron allegedly called Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn and those who voted against this shameful act of terror: “terrorist sympathisers”, reportedly telling a meeting of a Parliamentary Committee before the vote: “You should not be walking through the lobbies with Jeremy Corbyn and a bunch of terrorist sympathisers.” (5)
This presumably was juvenile pay back time for Corbyn having stated correctly that: “Cameron’s approach is bomb first, talk later. But instead of adding British bombs to the others now raining down on Syria what’s needed is an acceleration of the peace talks in Vienna.”
Cameron also received widespread derision, including from Conservative Parliamentarian Julian Lewis, Chairman of the influential Defence Select Committee, for his claims that there were 70,000 “moderate” fighters on the ground ready to take on ISIS after British bombing.
One government source compared the claim to Tony Blair’s fantasy that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction on the West “in 45 minutes.” Lewis commented: “Instead of having ‘dodgy dossiers’, we now have bogus battalions of moderate fighters.” (6) Another commentator referred unkindly to Cameron’s “70,000 fantasy friends.”
Perhaps the best encapsulation of anger and desperation came from author Michel Faber, who sent his latest book to Cameron (7.)
In searing sarcasm, he wrote in an accompanying letter that he realized: “a book cannot compete with a bomb in its ability to cause death and misery, but each of us must make whatever small contribution we can, and I figure that if you drop my novel from a plane, it might hit a Syrian on the head … With luck, we might even kill a child: their skulls are quite soft.”
“I just felt so heartsick, despondent and exasperated that the human race, and particularly the benighted political arm of the human race, has learned nothing in 10,000 years, 100,000 years, however long we’ve been waging wars, and clearly the likes of Cameron are not interested in what individuals have to say.”
He speaks for the despairing 89.32% who hang their heads in shame. He speaks for those of us who simply cannot find the words.
Defense Secretary Ashton Carter last October said in a little noticed comment that the United States was ready to take “direct action on the ground” in Syria. Vice President Joe Biden said in Istanbul last month that if peace talks in Geneva failed, the United States was prepared for a “military solution” in that country.
The peace talks collapsed on Wednesday even before they began. A day later Saudi Arabia said it is ready to invade Syria while Turkey is building up forces at its Syrian border.
The U.N. aims to restart the talks on Feb. 25 but there is little hope they can begin in earnest as the Saudi-run opposition has set numerous conditions. The most important is that Russia stop its military operation in support of the Syrian government, which has been making serious gains on the ground.
A day after the talks collapsed, it was revealed that Turkey has begun preparations for an invasion of Syria, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. On Thursday, ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said: “We have good reasons to believe that Turkey is actively preparing for a military invasion of a sovereign state – the Syrian Arab Republic. We’re detecting more and more signs of Turkish armed forces being engaged in covert preparations for direct military actions in Syria.” The U.N. and the State Department had no comment. But this intelligence was supported by a sound of alarm from Turkey’s main opposition party, the Republican People’s Party (CHP).
Turkey, which has restarted its war against Kurdish PKK guerillas inside Turkey, is determined to crush the emergence of an independent Kurdish state inside Syria as well. Turkish strongman Recep Tayyip Erdogan stopped the Syrian Kurds from attending the aborted Geneva talks.
A Turkish invasion would appear poised to attack the Syrian Kurdish PYD party, which is allied with the PKK. The Syrian (and Iraqi) Kurds, with the Syrian army, are the main ground forces fighting the Islamic State. Turkey is pretending to fight ISIS, all the while actually supporting its quest to overthrow Assad, also a Turkish goal.
Saudi Arabia then said on Thursday it was prepared to send its ground forces into Syria if asked. Carter welcomed it. Of course Biden, Erdogan, Carter and the Saudis are all saying a ground invasion would fight ISIS. But their war against ISIS has been half-hearted at best and they share ISIS’ same enemy: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. If the U.S. were serious about fighting ISIS it would have at least considered a proposal by Russia to join a coalition as the U.S. did against the Nazis.
The Prize of Aleppo
The excuse of the Geneva collapse is a ruse. There was little optimism the talks would succeed. The real reason for the coming showdown in Syria is the success of Russia’s military intervention in defense of the Syrian government against the Islamic State and other extremist groups. Many of these groups are supported by Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States in pursuit of overthrowing Assad.
These three nations are all apparently poised for a ground invasion of Syria just as, by no coincidence, the Syrian Arab Army with Russian air cover is pushing to liberate perhaps the greatest prize in the Syrian civil war — Aleppo, the country’s commercial capital. The Russians and Syrians have already cut off Turkey’s supply lines to rebels in the city.
The U.S. cannot stand by and watch Russia win in Syria. At the very least it wants to be on the ground to meet them at a modern-day Elbe and influence the outcome.
But things could go wrong in a war in which the U.S. and Russia are not allies, as they were in World War II. Despite this, the U.S. and its allies see Syria as important enough to risk confrontation with Russia, with all that implies. It is not at all clear though what the U.S. interests are in Syria to take such a risk.
From the outset of Russia’s intervention the U.S. and its allies have wanted Moscow out of the Syrian theater. They seem to be only waiting for the right opportunity. That opportunity may be now — forced by events.
Former U.S. national security adviser and current Obama adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski said last October in the Financial Times that, “The Russian naval and air presences in Syria are vulnerable, isolated geographically from their homeland. They could be ‘disarmed’ if they persist in provoking the U.S.”
Turkey’s downing in November of a Russian warplane that allegedly veered 17 seconds into Turkish territory appeared to be very much a provocation to draw Russia into a conflict to allow NATO to drive Moscow out of Syrian skies. But Russia was too smart for that and instead imposed sanctions on Turkey, while urging Russian tourists not to visit the country, which has hurt the Turkish economy.
A Battleground of Empires
As a fertile crossroad between Asia and Africa backed by desert, Syrian territory has been fought over for centuries. Pharaoh Ramses II defeated the Hittites at the Battle of Kadesh near Lake Homs in 1247 BCE. The Persians conquered Syria in 538 BCE. Alexander the Great took it 200 years later and the Romans grabbed Syria in 64 BCE.
Islam defeated the Byzantine Empire there at the Battle of Yarmuk in 636. In one of the first Shia-Sunni battles, Ali failed to defeat Muawiyah in 657 at Siffin along the Euphrates near the Iraq-Syria border. Damascus became the seat of the Caliphate until a coup in 750 moved it to Baghdad.
Waves of Crusaders next invaded Syria beginning in 1098. Egyptian Mamluks took the country in 1250 and the Ottoman Empire began in 1516 at its victory at Marj Dabik, 44 kilometers north of Aleppo — about where Turkish supplies are now being cut off. France double-crossed the Arabs and gained control of Syria in 1922 after the Ottoman collapse.
We may now be looking at an epic war with similar historical significance. All these previous battles, as momentous as they were, were regional in nature.
What we are potentially facing is a war that goes beyond the Soviet-U.S. proxy wars of the Cold War era, and beyond the proxy war that has so far taken place in the five-year Syrian civil war. Russia is already present in Syria. The entry of the United States and its allies would risk a direct confrontation between the two largest nuclear powers on earth.
Joe Lauria is a veteran foreign-affairs journalist based at the U.N. since 1990. He has written for the Boston Globe, the London Daily Telegraph, the Johannesburg Star, the Montreal Gazette, the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @unjoe.
The tiny Persian Gulf state of Bahrain says it is ready to deploy ground forces to Syria under the Saudi leadership as foreign-backed militants are losing ground in the face of the Syrian army advances.
The announcement by Bahraini Ambassador to Britain Sheikh Fawaz bin Mohammed Al Khalifa on Friday came after Saudi Arabia said it was ready to send troops to Syria.
In a statement, Sheikh Fawaz said Manama would commit troops to operate “in concert with the Saudis” in Syria.
The Bahraini diplomat said the Saudi initiative was meant to combat both Daesh and the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
“Under the leadership of Saudi Arabia, the [Persian] Gulf states are determined to take positive action within the region and globally to combat terrorism and extremism, from whatever quarter they emanate,” he said.
Sheikh Fawaz said the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was also ready to commit troops to Syria.
Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are members of the US coalition that has been conducting air raids inside Syria since September 2014 without the Syrian government’s permit or a UN mandate.
They are staunchly opposed to the Syrian government, providing Takfiri militants with arms and funds to topple President Assad.
The Syrian army and allied fighters have made significant advances in recent weeks, especially in the areas near the second city of Aleppo.
In a surprise statement broadcast on the Saudi-owned Al Arabiya news network on Thursday, a spokesman for the Saudi defense ministry suggested that the kingdom could send troops to Syria.
“The kingdom of Saudi Arabia is prepared to participate in any ground operations that the anti-Daesh coalition might agree to carry out in Syria if there is consensus among coalition leaders,” the spokesman, Ahmed Asiri, said.
Pentagon chief Ashton Carter welcomed the offer, saying he looked forward to discussing it with the Saudi defense minister in Brussels next week.
After nearly 15 years of Mideast war – with those conflicts growing ever grimmer – you might expect that peace would be a major topic of the 2016 presidential race. Instead, there has been a mix of warmongering bluster from most candidates and some confused mutterings against endless war from a few.
No one, it seems, wants to risk offending Official Washington’s neocon-dominated foreign policy establishment that is ready to castigate any candidate who suggests that there are other strategies – besides more and more “regime changes” – that might extricate the United States from the Middle East quicksand.
Late in Thursday’s Democratic debate – when the topic of war finally came up – former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton continued toeing the neocon line, calling Iran the chief sponsor of terrorism in the world, when that title might objectively go to U.S. “allies,” such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, all of whom have been aiding Sunni jihadists fighting to overthrow Syria’s secular regime.
Israel also has provided help to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front, which has been battling Syrian troops and Lebanese Hezbollah fighters near the Golan Heights – and Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians has played a key role in stirring up hatred and violence in the Middle East.
But Clinton has fully bought into the neocon narrative, not especially a surprise since she voted for the Iraq War, pushed the disastrous Libyan “regime change” and has sought a limited U.S. military invasion of Syria (to prevent the Syrian army from securing its border with Turkey and reclaiming territory from jihadists and other rebels).
In Thursday’s debate – coming off her razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses – Clinton painted Iran as the big regional threat, putting herself fully in line with the neocon position.
“We have to figure out how to deal with Iran as the principal state sponsor of terrorism in the world,” Clinton said. “They are destabilizing governments in the region. They continue to support Hezbollah and Hamas in Lebanon against Israel. …
“If we were to normalize relations right now [with Iran], we would remove one of the biggest pieces of leverage we have to try to influence and change Iranian behavior. … I believe we have to take this step by step to try to rein in Iranian aggression, their support for terrorism and the other bad behavior that can come back and haunt us.”
Iran, of course, has been a longtime neocon target for “regime change” along with Syria (and before that Iraq). Many neocons were disappointed when President Barack Obama negotiated an agreement to ensure that Iran’s nuclear program remained peaceful (an accord reached after John Kerry replaced Clinton as Secretary of State). The neocons had been hoping that the U.S. military would join Israel in an air war to “bomb-bomb-bomb Iran” — as Sen. John McCain once famously declared.
Yet, there were other distortions in Clinton’s statement. While it’s true that Iran has aided Hezbollah and Hamas in their resistance to Israel, Clinton ignored other factors, such as Israeli acts of aggression against both Lebanon, where Hezbollah emerged as resistance to an Israeli invasion and occupation in the 1980s, and the Palestinians who have faced Israeli oppression for generations.
Silence on the ‘Allies’
In the debate, Clinton also avoided criticism of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey for their military and financial assistance to radical jihadists, including Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State. At the urging of Clinton, the Obama administration also approved military shipments to Syrian rebels who then either turned over or sold U.S. weapons to the extremists.
Iran’s role in Syria has been to help support the internationally recognized government of Bashar al-Assad, whose military remains the principal bulwark protecting Syria’s Christian, Alawite, Shiite and other minorities from possible genocide if Al Qaeda-connected jihadists prevailed.
Clinton also ignored her own role in creating a haven for these terror groups across the Middle East because of her support for the Iraq War and her instigation of the 2011 “regime change” in Libya which created another failed state where Islamic State and various extremists have found a home and started chopping of the heads of “infidels.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who battled Clinton to a virtual tie in Iowa, took a somewhat less belligerent position at Thursday’s debate, repeating his rather naïve idea of having Sunni states lead the fight against Sunni jihadists. On the more reasonable side, he indicated a willingness to work with Russia and other world powers in support of an anti-jihadist coalition.
“It must be Muslim troops on the ground that will destroy ISIS, with the support of a coalition of major powers — U.S., U.K., France, Germany and Russia,” Sanders said. “So our job is to provide them the military equipment that they need; the air support they need; special forces when appropriate. But at the end of the day for a dozen different reasons … the combat on the ground must be done by Muslim troops with our support. We must not get involved in perpetual warfare in the Middle East.”
Sanders continued, “We cannot be the policeman of the world. We are now spending more I believe than the next eight countries on defense. We have got to work in strong coalition with the major powers of the world and with those Muslim countries that are prepared to stand up and take on terrorism. So I would say that the key doctrine of the Sanders administration would be no, we cannot continue to do it alone; we need to work in coalition.”
Sounding Less Hawkish
While Sanders clearly sought to sound less hawkish than Clinton – and did not repeat his earlier talking point about the Saudis and others “getting their hands dirty” – he did not address the reality that many of the Sunni countries that he hopes to enlist in the fight against the jihadists are already engaged – on the side of the jihadists.
Clinton, as she seeks to cut into Sanders’s lead in New Hampshire polls, has been stressing her “progressive” credentials, but many progressive Democrats suspect that Clinton could become a neocon Trojan Horse.
Arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century, has praised Clinton’s aggressive foreign policy.
Kagan, who was made an adviser to Clinton’s State Department (while his wife Victoria Nuland received big promotions under Clinton), said in 2014: “If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue … it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” [For more, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Is Hillary Clinton a Neocon-Lite?”]
Not only did Clinton vote for the Iraq War – and support it until it became a political liability during Campaign 2008 – but she rejoined the neocon/liberal-hawk ranks as President Barack Obama’s Secretary of State. She routinely sided with neocon holdovers, such as Gen. David Petraeus, regarding Mideast wars and Israel’s hardline regime in its hostilities toward the Palestinians and Iran.
In 2011, Clinton pushed for “regime change” in Libya, chortling over Muammar Gaddafi’s torture-murder in October 2011, “We came. We saw. He died.” Since then, Libya has descended into a failed state with the Islamic State and other jihadists claiming more and more territory.
Clinton also favored an outright (though limited) U.S. military invasion of Syria, setting up a “safe zone” or “no-fly zone” that would protect militants fighting to overthrow the secular Assad government. Over and over again, she has adopted positions virtually identical to what the neocons prescribe.
But Sanders, although he opposed the Iraq War, has hesitated to challenge Clinton too directly on foreign policy, apparently fearing to distract from his focus on income inequality and domestic concerns. He apparently has chosen fuzziness on foreign policy as the better part of political valor.
GOP Neocons Score
On the Republican side, the first week of the presidential delegate-selection process saw two candidates who mildly questioned the neocon conventional wisdom face reversals. Billionaire Donald Trump was upset in the Iowa caucuses and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul shut down his flailing campaign.
Trump has noted his opposition to the Iraq War and his willingness to cooperate with Russia in the fight against jihadist terror, while Paul pushed a libertarian-style approach that questioned neocon interventionism but not as aggressively as his father did, apparently hoping to avoid Ron Paul’s marginalization as “an isolationist.”
While Trump and Paul stumbled this week, neocon favorite Marco Rubio surged to a strong third-place finish, catapulting past other establishment candidates who – while largely me-too-ing the neocon orthodoxy on foreign policy – are not as identified with pure neoconservatism as the youthful Florida senator is.
However, even the non-neocons have opted for visceral warmongering. Tea Party favorite and winner of the Republican Iowa caucuses, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, has vowed to “carpet bomb” Islamic State strongholds and promised to see “if sand can glow in the dark,” as he told a Tea Party rally in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. The phrase “glow in the dark” popularly refers to the aftermath of a nuclear bomb detonation.
However, as hardline as Cruz is, he still received a tongue-lashing from the neocon-flagship Washington Post for not doing a “full-neocon” when he suggested that the United States should not focus on “regime change” in Syria. Cruz has worried that overthrowing Assad’s government might pave the way for a victory by the Islamic State and other Sunni jihadist terrorists.
In a Dec. 31, 2015 editorial, the Post’s editors instead hailed neocon favorite Rubio for arguing “forcefully” for Assad’s removal and castigated Cruz for saying Assad’s ouster was “a distraction at best – and might even empower the jihadist.”
A Beloved ‘Group Think’
It is one of Official Washington’s most beloved “group thinks” that Syrian “regime change” – a neocon goal dating back to the 1990s – must take precedence over the possible creation of a military vacuum that could bring the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda to power.
After all, it won’t be the sons and daughters of well-connected neocons who are sent to invade and occupy Syria to reverse the capture of Damascus by the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda. So, the Post’s editors, who in 2002-03 told the American people as flat fact that Iraq’s Saddam Hussein was hiding WMD, engaged in similar exaggerations and lies about Assad in demonizing Cruz for his apostasy.
“Mr. Cruz is arguing for a stridently anti-American and nakedly genocidal dictator who sponsored terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq and serves as a willing puppet of Iran,” the Post wrote.
That is typical of what a politician can expect if he or she deviates from the neocon line, even if you’re someone as belligerent as Cruz. Any apostasy from neocon orthodoxy is treated most harshly.
There is, by the way, no evidence that Assad is “nakedly genocidal” – his largely secular regime has never targeted any specific ethnic or religious group, indeed his government is the principal protector of Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities that have been targeted by Sunni extremists for death.
Nor did Assad sponsor “terrorism against U.S. troops in Iraq.” By definition, terrorism is political violence against civilians, not against a military occupation force. Assad also sought to collaborate with the Bush-43 administration in its “war on terror,” to the point of handling torture assignments from Washington.
But distortions and falsehoods are now the way of the modern Washington Post. The newspaper will say anything, no matter how dishonest or unfair, to advance the neocon cause.
But the most dangerous outcome from these pressures is that they prevent a serious debate about a most serious topic: what the next president must do to bring the costly, bloody and endless wars to an end.
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).
Citizens of the world are being asked to dig deep for humanitarian aid to Syria. After five years of war and millions displaced there is an urgent need for the world to lend a hand, we are told.
At a so-called “donor conference” in London this week, British prime minister David Cameron appealed to the rest of the world to stump up $8 billion to help war-torn Syria.
Among the 60 nations attending the confab were the US, France, Britain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Senior figures from these countries were wringing their hands in anguish over the plight of Syrian refugees.
Washington’s top diplomat John Kerry told delegates: “With people reduced to eating grass and leaves and killing stray animals in order to survive on a day-to-day basis, that is something that should tear at the conscience of all civilized people and we all have a responsibility to respond to it.”
UN chief Ban Ki-Moon adjured nations to “take responsibility to end the crisis in Syria”.
Take responsibility for ending the crisis? How about taking responsibility for beginning it?
Cameron, Kerry and the rest of these charlatans should spare us the emotional blackmail. Most of the governments represented at the London conference are the very instigators and perpetrators of Syria’s destruction.
Why should the rest of the world pay for their crimes?
This is not to suggest that people should simply turn their backs on fellow humans in dire need. But let’s get some straight-thinking here.
Those governments and individual politicians who oversaw regime change in Syria should be paying for their violations, either through massive financial reparations or in jail time. And why not both.
The case is irrefutable. The US-led regime-change plot to subjugate Syria goes back several years, according to numerous sources, such as American diplomatic cables released by the whistleblowing site Wikileaks, former French foreign minister Roland Dumas and ex-NATO supreme commander US General Wesley Clark.
It is only largely due to the dutiful dissembling by the Western news media that such criminality might seem rather outlandish. But it is not outlandish. It is documented and provable. Western governments are culpable in a criminal scheme of regime change in Syria, as they have been in countless other unfortunate countries.
From the outbreak of violence in mid-March 2011, the Arab country has been a charnel house of covert war involving the most vile terrorist mercenaries. Those who take ultimate responsibility for the violence are the authors of the regime-change plot in Syria. Top of the list are Washington, London, Paris, as well as their regional client regimes.
With an estimated 250,000 dead and nearly half of the 23 million population turned into refugees, the total war damage to Syria has been estimated to be at least $100 billion. This is what Washington and its allies owe Syria — and no doubt far, far more — and yet these country-destroying rogue states are trying to wheedle money out of world citizens to pay for their criminal excesses, with the emotional plea of “humanitarian aid”.
Washington and its co-conspirators for covert war in Syria want the rest of the world to pay for their criminal scheming by cajoling the UN, the European Union and anyone else who will listen to fork out “humanitarian aid”. Make no mistake this will eventually translate into ordinary taxpayers, workers and families, paying the bill for their governments’ sanctimonious financial pledges.
In other words, Western powers like the US, Britain and France together with their regional client regimes in Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, unleash mass murder and mayhem on a once peaceful, sovereign country — and instead of being held to account under international law for their criminal aggression, these rogue states are getting the rest of the world to subsidize their evil enterprise.
The “donor conference” in London this week was the fifth in a series going back to 2012. Last year, the fundraiser fell well short of its appeals. This year, British leader David Cameron went out of his way to give the appeal added urgency.
Writing in the Guardian newspaper, Cameron said: “Sufficient funding to guarantee the basics of life that these refugees need must be the bare minimum expected of us.”
The British premier emphasized the need for more aid given to refugee centers in Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey, where nearly five million Syrians have been displaced and are languishing in squalid camps.
Cameron’s apparent concern belies his real worry. He doesn’t want any more refugees streaming into Europe and towards Britain. That’s why the British leader is now calling for more international donations and for the cash to be thrown at Syria’s immediate neighbors in order to keep refugees there.
Going back to UN chief Ban Ki-Moon, he told the London conference:
“The situation in Syria is as close to hell as we are likely to find on this Earth.”
Syria is indeed a hell on Earth. Made by people like Cameron and Kerry with whom Ban Ki-Moon was rubbing shoulders with in London this week.
Turkey was represented by prime minister Ahmet Davutoglu who tried to blame the humanitarian crisis on the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad and Russia’s military intervention. Davutoglu’s lies are particularly nauseating given Ankara’s role in acting as a conduit for terror brigades infiltrating Syria and his country’s ongoing threats of outright military invasion.
NATO member Turkey’s role in fueling Syria’s refugee crisis through its regime-change machinations is acutely reprehensible. And yet Ankara is to receive $3.4 billion from European Union taxpayers, allegedly to help with stemming the flow of refugees into Europe.
This is just one aspect of the general trend that Washington and its allies are establishing with breath-taking audacity. They have all but destroyed Syria with their covert war using terrorist proxies, and yet they are getting the rest of the world to pay for their crimes.
The cost of war and imperialist crimes was always offloaded on to ordinary people by their rulers. In that regard, nothing much has changed. Except that the scam has become even more brazen.
The US defense chief welcomed reports on Thursday about Saudi Arabia’s willingness to deploy troops in Syria, noting that he would discuss the issue with his Saudi counterpart in Brussels next week.
During an interview with the Saudi al-Arabiya TV channel on Thursday, Saudi military spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed al-Asiri said Riyadh “is ready to participate in any ground operations that the coalition may agree to carry out in Syria”.
“That kind of news is very welcome. I look forward to discussing that with the Saudi defense minister next week – and other kinds of contributions that Saudi Arabia can make,” Secretary of Defense Ash Carter told reporters at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada.
Carter is going to meet defense ministers of 26 countries, which are part of the US-led coalition countering the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) takfiri group in Belgian capital Brussels.
The US defense chief acknowledged that the Saudi government has indicated willingness to do more in the fight against ISIL, which western media reports revealed it receives funds from main regional countries including the Saudi.
“I should mention also Saudi Arabia has indicated a willingness to take the lead in marshaling some Muslim-majority countries,” he said.
Carter said that the Netherlands also pledged to support anti-ISIL operations in Syria last week, in addition to the Dutch government’s existing contributions to the campaign in Iraq.
“You see others stepping up, and the reason why I’m going to Brussels next week is to bring the full weight of the coalition behind accelerating the defeat of ISIL,” Carter said.
Ankara’s refusal to allow Russia to conduct an observation flight over Turkish territory under the Open Skies Treaty confirms Moscow’s concerns that Ankara is supporting the Daesh, which is prohibited in numerous countries including the United States and Russia, on the Turkish-Syrian border, a high-ranking source in the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday.
Russian inspectors planned to conduct the observation flight on board an An-30B plane over Turkish territory on February 1-5, but they were refused permission to do so after they arrived in Turkey and announced the flight route.
“This case is of course outrageous because the Open Skies Treaty today is practically one of many mechanisms that continue to operate in the European space and this treaty is valid and allows for acquiring valid information on steps being taken or not being taken by one or another state,” the source told RIA Novosti.
He reminded that in 2015 the West actively accused Russia of illegal activity on the Ukrainian border and NATO member countries requested observation flights over Russian territory, the results of which fully reversed the rumors.
“This once again confirms those concerns that the Russian side has voiced several times on using the Turkish-Syrian border to support Daesh militants,” the source said.
And so the wheels of the Geneva talks came off in spectacular fashion, with all parties blaming each other for the breakdown in the so-called Syrian peace process.
The negotiations in the Swiss city were only into their second day –having opened on Monday, and that after a week-long delay –when UN special envoy Staffan de Mistura announced that the talks would be adjourned until February 25. Take it as read: it’s over.
Washington and Paris immediately sought to blame the Syrian government and its Russian and Iranian allies for “torpedoing” the Geneva talks. US Secretary of State John Kerry accused Syria and its allies of seeking a military solution to the five-year-old conflict. With this background of ongoing air and ground assaults, the Geneva negotiations foundered, according to the US and its partners.
Kerry and his French counterpart, Laurent Fabius, are engaging in reality-inversion, ably assisted by the Western mainstream news media.
The fact is the Geneva talks failed because Washington and its terrorist surrogates fighting for regime change in Syria could not affect a semblance of diplomacy.
Yes, Syrian Arab Army military advances are proceeding apace with the support of Russian air power and ground forces from Iran and Hezbollah. The game-changer was Russian intervention nearly four months ago, which has enabled the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad to recover huge swathes of territory occupied by foreign-backed mercenaries.
The latest military gains this week in northwest Syria have put the Syrian Arab Army within reach of taking back the city of Aleppo, the country’s largest urban centre, second to the capital Damascus.
Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this week that Russian operations in Syria will continue until all “terror groups”are destroyed. Lavrov mentioned Al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front and Daesh (also known as ISIL), but Russia’s scope also extends to a myriad of other militants groups who are integrated with the more well-known terrorist organizations.
These militants are falsely and risibly divided into “moderates”and “extremists” by Western governments and their dutiful corporate-controlled news media. What is moderate about chopping heads of civilians considered to be “infidels”? And this barbarity has been routinely practiced by the so-called moderate rebels of the “Free Syrian Army”. Notably, we don’t hear much about the much-lionized FSA these days. That’s because in reality they don’t exist.
Syrian state forces have every right to extirpate all illegally armed groups on the sovereign territory of Syria. While the Geneva negotiations were in process, the main foreign conduits of military supply to the mercenaries –Turkey and Saudi Arabia –had not desisted from their illegal interference in Syria. That was in flagrant violation of the United Nations Security Council resolutions in November and December calling for a global clampdown on terrorist organizations.
Not only were Turkey and Saudi Arabia continuing to supply illegally armed groups inside Syria, these two Western allies had included terrorist organizations into the so-called “opposition”at the Geneva talks. The grandly named High Negotiating Committee demanded it would only continue participating on the condition that the Assad government eventually stands down. That’s the real, proximate reason for breakdown, no matter what John Kerry might say.
Can you believe it? A bunch of foreign-backed and exile-based terrorists dictating terms to the elected government of Syria. Their foot-soldiers are getting wiped out on the ground –after five years of inflicting destruction on Syria –and yet these impostors are attempting to write the “peace terms”.
Syria and Russia are having none of it. Both are determined to crush an existential threat to Syria from foreign-backed terror groups. And Assad and Vladimir Putin are not going to hand over a victory of regime change at the negotiating table either.
That’s why Kerry is in a fluster. The peace process charade has been upended. Washington and its partners expected Syria and Russia to call off the military pressure in order to give their mercenary proxies some breathing space so that they could relaunch their terror war at a more opportune time, while also issuing ultimatums in Geneva for de facto regime change.
Washington and its allies were never serious about finding a genuine peaceful settlement. Now that the wheels have come off this snake-oil bandwagon, the US and its partners are obliged to find some “explanation” to sell to world opinion.
Hence, blame the Syrian government and its Russian ally for blasting the Geneva talks. But the world is not fooled by such reality-inversion. The Western powers’ plans for regime change in Syria just rolled into another blind alley.
The real danger, however, is that Washington and its allies might now attempt a direct military intervention in Syria out of desperation.
Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. For over 20 years, he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organisations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent.
Delusions on Syria prevail in official Washington
Tulsi Gabbard is one brave Congresswoman. She has challenged her party and the president saying that it’s time for Washington to halt its “illegal, counter-productive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad. I don’t think Assad should be removed. If Assad is removed and overthrown, ISIS, al Qaeda, Al Nustra, these Islamic extremist groups will walk straight in and take over all of Syria … they will be even stronger.”
Indeed, Washington’s senseless policy in Syria has been hanging out there like overripe fruit for quite some time with the mainstream media instead marching at lockstep to the tune being whistled by a large disengaged and unaccountable White House. Gabbard might go one step further to ask why Syria is the way it is in the first place since that would question Administration priorities under Democrats as well as Republicans, both of which have emphasized eliminating al-Assad for no conceivable reason that has anything to do with actual American interests.
Much has been made of Washington groupthink, which is the concept that when a meeting of senior staffers is held everyone will veer towards a point of view that is being espoused by whoever called the meeting, be they the president or one of the cabinet secretaries. It is also reflected in the output of foundations and think tanks, which rely on government access as well as funding from beneficiaries of the war economy. Current groupthink, rejected by Gabbard, is that removing al-Assad is somehow an essential precondition for any settlement of Syria’s torment.
Another prevalent groupthink that is sometimes linked to the Syria issue is that Russia’s Vladimir Putin is somehow a reincarnation of Josef Stalin and that today’s Russia is actually the Soviet Union, ready, willing and able to expand into Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Though considerable opposition to those two viewpoints can be noted in the alternative media it is not listened to in the White House.
Yet another kind of groupthink prevails within the government bureaucracies themselves, compounding the problem. From my own experience, analysts at CIA very often were scrupulous in their judgements on developments overseas but a funny thing would happen at Agency headquarters as information made its way from the ground floor up to the seventh floor where the political appointee mandarins would preside. It would become politicized and any viewpoints diametrically opposed to what prevailed at the consumer level in Congress and in the White House would be mitigated or even excised. Such is the nature of bureaucracy, which exists to support the status quo and inter alia requires a satisfied audience to prosper.
And the press fails to do its part to correct the listing ship. The rubbish that appears in the mainstream media under the rubric of “informed opinion” bears a large part of the blame because it continues to create a mythical magical kingdom in which Americans all wear white hats and go about slaying dragons because it is good for the whole wide world, even if those heathens don’t appreciate it. That is what Americans like to think about themselves apparently, all contrary evidence notwithstanding.
A piece on Syria that appeared in the Washington Post before Christmas exemplifies precisely what is wrong with the punditry that shapes the narrative that appears to drive the national consensus on what to do about terrorism and related issues. It is “Obama and Kerry’s wishful thinking on Syria,” by Frederic C. Hof, currently a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center. Hof was an army officer who had extensive service in the Middle East. He is, somewhat uncharacteristically, an actual expert on the Arab world and speaks Arabic. He joined the State Department in 2009 after an interlude in the private sector as the President and CEO of AALC, limited company, an international business consulting and project finance firm formerly known as Armitage Associates LC. In 2012 Hof served as President Barack Obama’s Special Adviser for Transition in Syria.
Hof is a bright and highly competent guy whose professional life has been closely linked to the U.S. government version of reality, a reality in which Washington calls the shots and is empowered to “draw red lines.” Relative to the U.S., all other governments are either client states or adversaries who can be disregarded or bullied into compliance. In October he wrote: “With regard to ISIL, a professional ground combat component provided by regional powers is desperately needed to work with coalition aircraft to sweep this abomination from Syria and permit a governmental alternative to the Assad regime to take root inside Syria. With central and eastern Syria free of both the regime and ISIL, an all-Syrian national stabilization force can be built. Western desires for a negotiated end to the Syrian crisis would be based, under these circumstances, on more than a wish and a hope. The United States should neither seek nor shy away from confrontation with Russian forces in Syria. Moscow will not like it if its client’s ability to perform mass murder is impeded. Russia will not be pleased if ISIL, its false pretext for military intervention in Syria, is swept from the table. Ideally, Russia will not elect to escort regime aircraft on their mass homicide missions. And it would be difficult for even Russian President Vladimir Putin to articulate outrage if ISIL is crushed militarily. But if Russia seeks out armed confrontation with the United States in Syria, it would be a mistake for Washington to back down. People like Putin will push until they hit steel. And he will not stop in Syria.”
The op-ed is saying several things, which most likely reflect the Washington consensus on foreign policy. First, it advocates a U.S. leading role in Syria in support of a currently non-existent and unlikely to exist regional force to fight ISIS thereby creating an alternative government enabling the removal of al-Assad from power and winding up with a “Western desired” democracy. Second, it characterizes Russia as supporting “mass homicide” in Syria and urges the U.S. to confront it militarily if necessary as Moscow is intent on expansion. That means that Syria somehow has become a vital American interest, important enough to go to war with Russia.
Hof’s more recent foray in the Post makes a number of similar points. First, that the Syrian civil war cannot end as long as al-Assad remains in power is described as an “objective truth” that adversaries like Russia and Iran refuse to accept. Al-Assad is described as a “barrel bomber in chief.” Iran, in particular, should “grasp the chance to become a normal state.” Hof likens the Syrian, Iranian and Russian leadership to Hitler thirty years ago in that they are being given a pass by the West and avers that they “know that Assad is the single greatest obstacle to a united front against Islamic State.” Iran is motivated by propping up a client state while Russia is into the game desirous of “humiliating the United States by preserving Assad.” The op-ed goes on to claim that delaying action for thousands of Syrians will mean “people slaughtered, maimed, stampeded, starved, tortured and raped by Assad’s people” and reiterates the call for “professional ground forces… under U.S. command” to deal simultaneously with both al-Assad and ISIS.
Given all of the above, it is no wonder that many of us find American foreign and national security policy incomprehensible. First of all, by what Act of God does the United States have a Special Adviser for Transition in Syria? Why does that position even exist? How would the White House react if the Chinese or Russians were to create a similar bureaucracy tasked with subverting the manifestly corrupt U.S. institutions and even arming “rebels” to do the job?
One suspects that antagonism towards Damascus is rooted in the fact that the United States government have been working hard in a neoconservative driven effort supported by Israel to subvert the Syrian regime ever since President George W. Bush signed the Syria Accountability Act in 2004. Al-Assad’s alleged use of chemical weapons on his own people is frequently cited as a justification for armed intervention, but there is considerable controversy over the incident at Ghouta in 2013, with many observers believing that the attack was staged “false flag” by the rebels possibly aided by the Turkish intelligence service to implicate the Syrian government. And it is easy to forget that before Syria under al-Assad became an enemy it was considered friendly, having participated in the U.S. led coalition that ousted Saddam Hussein from Kuwait in 1991 and also having supported Washington’s counter-terrorism “rendition” program post-9/11.
It is simplistic to see everything as a problem created by the Syrian government, Russia and Iran, all of whom have been described as “adversaries” of the United States even though they are actively fighting ISIS. That label would be comforting if one were a reader of the Rupert Murdoch media but Tehran’s and Moscow’s desire to stabilize the Syrian government position as a prelude to negotiations for a settlement is not exactly wrongheaded, as Congresswoman Gabbard has noted. And any narrative’s thrust more-or-less depends on where one starts. To my mind the blame for the mess in Syria and Iraq coupled with the rise of ISIS should be put squarely where it belongs: at the White House under our two most recent presidents and their advisers. The rot began in 2003 when Iraq was invaded. At that time both Baghdad and Damascus were quiet, stable and terrorist free even if they were not democracies. Neither threatened the United States and neither threatens the U.S. to this day, which makes one wonder at why al-Assad has been elevated to enemy-in-chief status by the White House and media.
The inside the beltway dismissal of Iran and Russia is classic Washington groupthink. Iran may indeed not be a “normal” nation, but that just might be due to threats against it emanating from the United States and Israel since the foundation of the Islamic Republic in 1978. We are currently witnessing the U.S. Congress and Israel cranking up the pressure to defeat implementation of the nuclear program agreement recently signed with Tehran, an effort that suggests that no matter what it does or doesn’t do Iran will never be seen as normal or even acceptable by most of the power-brokers in Washington.
And the denigration of Russia is another given, complete with the often heard but ridiculous claim that Moscow is out to “humiliate” the U.S., which often comes coupled with a reference to Hitler. Russia may have a government that is not to our liking but it has a serious and legitimate interest in preventing the spillover of Islamic insurgency into its own heavily Muslim southern federated states. Creating a cartoon image of Vladimir Putin as someone who has to be taught a lesson even though he has in fact been a largely realistic, restrained and rational player in his foreign policy, is not a serious argument. Stating that Russia is only interested in propping up a client and enabling mass murder is both sloppy and does not allow for other considerations that might actually be both sensible and legitimate while a willingness to confront major power Russia militarily over unimportant Syria is something closely akin to madness. And attributing all the mayhem in Syria to its government is similarly myopic in that it ignores the other players on the ground, to include groups supported by America’s nominal Arab and Turkish allies that the United States calls “terrorist.”
The apparent willingness among policy makers to put U.S. troops on the ground in Syria against both its government and ISIS flies against all reason given the poor track record of White House initiated military interventions over the past fifteen years. The creation of a “stabilization force” without any current Syrian government participation is laughable as even President Obama has conceded that the identification and deployment of “moderate rebels” is a bit of a fantasy. And Syria is not taking place in a vacuum. Afghanistan is rapidly sliding back under Taliban control, Iraq is chaotic and its closest friend is Iran while Libya is anarchical. Another intervention? No thanks.
© Photo: Youtube/ Russian Defence Ministry
Turkish artillery on Monday shelled a small town in Syria’s northern Latakia province inflicting casualties among civilians, the Syrian Foreign Ministry said.
Earlier in the day, Lebanese Al Mayadeen TV channel reported that one Syrian serviceman was killed and five others were wounded in a shelling from the Turkish territory.
“The Turkish authorities are responsible for artillery shelling of the town of Jabal Oteira in northern Latakia, which caused casualties among peaceful civilians,” the ministry said in statement as quoted by official SANA news agency.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said Monday that it obtained video proof of Syrian civilian areas being shelled from Turkish border posts.The Russian Defence Ministry expects an explanation from NATO, Pentagon and Turkish Armed Forces on the incident. The corresponding statement was made on Monday by the Ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov.
According to the spokesman, the Ministry of Defense recently received the video footage from the Syrian General Staff which shows “self-propelled heavy artillery weapons deployed at the Turkish outpost in question.”