AuthorTopic: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball  (Read 29098 times)

Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2016, 12:39:54 AM »
So the US doesn't "rush in and bomb the hell out of a place", not like in Fallujah, or Kobane.  And it's Russia's fault that the moderate rebels have been driven into the arms of al-Nusra.

https://www.rt.com/usa/361269-nusra-moderates-intermingled-aleppo/
US admits not targeting Nusra, blames Moscow for own failure to separate ‘moderates’ from terrorists
1 Oct, 2016

The US is not targeting al-Nusra terrorists in Syria because they have become too “intermingled” with moderates and civilians, the US State Department claimed, accusing Moscow of causing the mess which prevents Washington from separating the groups.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov once again stressed in an interview with the BBC on Friday that Washington never delivered on its obligation to separate Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (known before the rebranding as al-Nusra Front) and other extremist groups from the so-called “moderate” rebels, to whom the US provides support.

However, this time Lavrov went a step further and implied that Washington has been sparing terrorists in Syria on purpose, should they ever come in handy in terms of potentially overthrowing the government of Bashar Assad.

“They still, in spite of many repeated promises and commitments ... are not able or not willing to do this and we have more and more reasons to believe that from the very beginning the plan was to spare al-Nusra and to keep it just in case for ‘Plan B’ ... when it would be time to change the regime,” the Russian minister said.

The US State Department has dismissed Lavrov’s statements as “absurd”, instead accusing Russia of driving the “moderate” opposition to intermingle with terrorist fighters on the battlefield against the Syrian government forces.

Claiming that the US exerted every possible effort to influence and separate moderates from terrorists, State Departments spokesman Mark Toner told reporters at a daily briefing on Friday, that the “moderate opposition” have been “driven more or less into the arms” and have no other choice but to “turn to Nusra, fight side by side.”

Toner admitted that the US had not targeted al-Nusra for months because its members had become “intermingled” with other groups and civilians.

“We did carry out strikes initially, back in 2014-2015, against Nusra. But absolutely, you’re correct in that, as they became intermingled and as they became intermingled in civilian areas, we’ve always sought to limit the possibility of civilian casualties in any of our airstrikes,” Toner said.

“We wanted to work in a very strategic fashion about how to take out senior Nusra leadership like we’ve done pretty effectively against ISIL. And that doesn’t include just laying waste to populated areas that may be under Nusra’s control,” Toner added.

The latest seven-day truce in Syria brokered by US and Russia expired two days after a US-led coalition airstrike on Syrian army positions near the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) frontline at Deir Ezzor killed over 60 soldiers and allowed for a major jihadist offensive.

On September 19, an aid convoy was attacked while heading to Aleppo. The US was quick to blame Russia and Syria for the attack, demanding that both countries’ air forces operating in the area be grounded immediately. Despite Russia’s demands that an investigation be conducted, according to Lavrov, US Secretary of State John Kerry claimed that while a probe might take place, they already “know who did it, namely the Syrian Army or Russia, and that it was Russia's fault in any case.”

Since then, amid intensified military operations in Aleppo, the US has been threatening to cut ties with Moscow in seeking a political solution to the settlement. Bilateral ties are on “life support,” Toner said, adding that “it’s not flatlined yet,” as he urged Russia to end “horrific” strikes on Aleppo.

“If we do pronounce the diplomatic process dead, then what we don’t want to see is an escalation in the violence, and that could very well be the result,” Toner said.

As Russia plans to beef up its aircraft group in Syria, according to Izvestiya daily, CIA director John Brennan has called for further US actions against the Kremlin.

“I think that pushing back against a bully is appropriate,” Brennan told Reuters. “I think that is very different than rushing in and bombing the hell out of a place.”

Meanwhile, Secretary of State John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov spoke by telephone for a third straight day, trying to normalize the situation in Aleppo in spite of a diplomatic deadlock.

During the conversation, Lavrov recalled that the previous ceasefire has been “repeatedly violated” by militants in the eastern part Aleppo, which is controlled by al-Nusra, whose members “are preventing the delivery of humanitarian aid and threatening attacks on UN convoys.”

While reaffirming Russia’s readiness to continue to seek a diplomatic solution, Lavrov underscored that the “numerous 'periods of silence,' which have been declared in the past for two or three days, were used by al-Nusra to regroup.”

The “inaction” on behalf of US to separate the rebels, the FM stressed, allowed “Jabhat al-Nusra to take cover behind other armed opposition groups with which Washington collaborates.”
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Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #16 on: October 03, 2016, 09:51:21 PM »
So the US suspends cooperation with Russia over Syria, and Russia blames US of working with terrorists all along.  I hope there is an understanding on where the US can and cannot fly in Syria, otherwise we are going to see US planes being shot down by Russian S-400 missiles, and the US response to that.

https://www.rt.com/usa/361482-bilateral-suspended-syria-ceasefire/
US suspends bilateral contact with Russia over Syria
3 Oct, 2016

Washington has “suspended” bilateral contacts with Moscow over the Syrian crisis, the US State Department said. Russian Foreign Ministry said it was "disappointed" by the decision and accused the US of seeking to shift blame for its own failure in Syria.

US officials had threatened for a week to withdraw from the Syrian peace process, after the latest ceasefire negotiated by Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Secretary of State John Kerry collapsed amid bloody fighting.

While contacts between US and Russian military to “deconflict” encounters between their aircraft in Syrian skies will continue, the US is withdrawing personnel that was dispatched for the purpose of setting up the Joint Implementation Center (JIC) for the ceasefire, agencies reported citing the State Department.

There is "nothing more for the US and Russia to talk about" in Syria, White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Monday.

Russia has made efforts to preserve the September 9 ceasefire agreement, while repeatedly urging Washington to live up to its obligations, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow said on Monday.

“It turns out that Washington has failed to fulfill the key condition of the agreement to ease humanitarian situation for the residents of Aleppo” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova. “And now, apparently, having failed to honor these agreements that they themselves worked out, [the US] is trying to shift the blame.”

The JIC would have been located in Geneva, Switzerland, with the purpose to coordinate military cooperation and intelligence-sharing between Russia and the US-led coalition fighting Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) in Iraq and Syria.

Washington has dragged its feet on setting up the JIC, however, with State Department spokesman John Kirby telling reporters on September 16 that its establishment was contingent on humanitarian aid reaching Aleppo, while the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Joseph Dunford, told lawmakers the US had “no intention of having an intelligence-sharing agreement with the Russians.”

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin suspended Moscow’s participation in a program for disposing of plutonium from decommissioned nuclear warheads, citing “the radical change in the environment, a threat to strategic stability posed by the hostile actions of the US against Russia, and the inability of the US to deliver on the obligation to dispose of excessive weapons plutonium under international treaties.”

The White House called the decision “disappointing.”



https://www.rt.com/news/361502-syria-us-devil-terrorists/
‘Deal with the devil’: US ‘ready to ally with terror’ to overthrow Assad – Russia Foreign Ministry
3 Oct, 2016

Moscow has accused Washington of sabotaging the Syria ceasefire deal, saying that the US will be responsible for any new terror attacks in Syria, as by taking no action against Al-Nusra terrorists it shows it is ready “to make a deal with the devil.”

Washington “has never exerted any real pressure on Jabhat Al-Nusra, done nothing for delineation to succeed and taken no action against its militants,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday, following the US decision to suspend cooperation on Syria.

Besides failing to deliver on its part of the deal, the US were hampering Moscow’s efforts to stop the terrorists, the Russian Foreign Ministry said, calling Washington’s decision a “reflection” of the Obama administration’s inability to meet the key condition for Russia-US cooperation on the Syrian peace process.

The way the situation has been unraveling in Syria in the past few weeks has made Moscow doubt what Washington’s real intentions are, according to the ministry.

“We are becoming more convinced that in a pursuit of a much desired regime change in Damascus, Washington is ready to ‘make a deal with the devil’,” the Foreign Ministry said. For the sake of ousting Syrian President Bashar Assad, the US appears to be ready to “forge an alliance with hardened terrorists, dreaming of turning back the course of history.”


While Jabhat Al-Nusra, a designated terrorist organization, has been known as an Al-Qaeda affiliate for many years, Washington “is not in a hurry to separate US-oriented anti-government forces from it,” Moscow points out. On the contrary, even though Al-Nusra has never been a part of any peace deal, Washington “covers it with the shield of opposition groups which formally confirmed their participation in the cessation of hostilities.”

Meanwhile, Russia's Permanent Representative to the UN, Vitaly Churkin, who on Monday assumed the post of the President of the UN Security Council, expressed his concerns over the halt in Russia-US cooperation in Syria.

At the same time, he insisted that the current setback in Syria will not lead to another “Cold War” between Moscow and Washington.

“I think you are dramatizing the nature of our disagreements with the US,” Churkin said, replying to a reporter at a press conference, adding that there’s still a chance to revive the cooperation.

“I hope there will not be a new Cold War,” he added.

For now, the main objective in Syria for Russia is to thwart Al-Nusra’s latest offensive in Aleppo, which has seen increasing number of terrorist attacks in the wake of the ceasefire’s collapse.

"In the process of the past few weeks, after the September 9 arrangements were reached, we have seen numerous violations by Nusra and others cooperating with Nusra of the cessation of hostilities regime”, Churkin said, adding that about 1.5 million people are currently stand the risk of being besieged by its militants south of Aleppo.

“We must make sure that Nusra’s influence is not going to continue to spread,” he stressed, describing the situation in Aleppo as “extremely dramatic.”

On a broader scale, Russia’s long-term aim in the region is to “throw the terrorists out” of Iraq and Syria, as it is the only way to secure the lives of civilians, living there in constant danger from extremists.

To mitigate the impact of one of the terrorists’ most powerful weapons, propaganda, Russia has submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council designed “to counter terrorist ideology and the ideology of violent extremism,” Churkin said.

Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is set to visit Moscow this week. However, she is expected to discuss solely Ukraine and implementation of the Minsk agreements, according to the State Department’s press release.
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #17 on: October 04, 2016, 01:51:42 AM »
So the US suspends cooperation with Russia over Syria, and Russia blames US of working with terrorists all along.  I hope there is an understanding on where the US can and cannot fly in Syria, otherwise we are going to see US planes being shot down by Russian S-400 missiles, and the US response to that.

https://www.rt.com/usa/361482-bilateral-suspended-syria-ceasefire/
US suspends bilateral contact with Russia over Syria
3 Oct, 2016

//

https://www.rt.com/news/361502-syria-us-devil-terrorists/
‘Deal with the devil’: US ‘ready to ally with terror’ to overthrow Assad – Russia Foreign Ministry
3 Oct, 2016

//Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is set to visit Moscow this week. However, she is expected to discuss solely Ukraine and implementation of the Minsk agreements, according to the State Department’s press release.

The heavy hand of the Zionist neocons continues to be evident. It's a shame that no one in this country will ever hear this POV.

And what would you give to be a fly on the wall at the meeting with Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland.
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #18 on: October 04, 2016, 02:29:11 AM »
Juan Cole on this story.

US breaks off Military Cooperation with Russia in Syria

 

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

The Arab press reacted to the announcement on Monday by the US government that it was ending its military cooperation with the Russian Federation in Syria. Masr al-Arabiya noted that the US underlined that that the step did not imply that all sorts of joint activity would be ended. For instance, multilateral talks will continue under UN auspices. Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said that the American goal remained to restart the ceasefire and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged populations.

On 9 September the US and Russia had reached an ceasefire agreement to be implemented for 48 hours and capable of being renewed twice. If it extended to 7 days, the US would have implemented full coordination with Russia in fighting Daesh (ISIL, ISIS) and the al-Qaeda-linked Levant Conquest Front. But the Syrian regime announced the end of the truce on 19 Sepetmeber and since that time it has launched round after round of heavy aerial bombing of rebel-held East Aleppo. Hundreds of civilians have been killed, including women and children.

The siege and bombardment of rebel-held East Aleppo threatens the lives of its some 250,000 residents.

For their part, the Russians accused the Americans of never following through on their pledge to separate the moderate Free Syrian Army units from Salafi Jihadi groups like the Levant Conquest Front.

But I fear that this Russian statement is propaganda. Nothing the US did required the Syrian regime and its Russian backers abruptly to bomb the bejesus out of East Aleppo, hitting two hospitals and killing hundreds, including women and children.

Rather, it appears that rebel advances north of Hama and of Salafi Jihadis and their allies into part of East Aleppo may have decided the regime and the Russians that Obama’s ceasefire was helping the enemy. But note that East Aleppo is not held by an al-Qaeda-linked group but by remnants of the old Free Syrian Army (admittedly fundamentalists). Moreover, the Levant Conquest Front was never part of the agreement, so how could its actions invalidate the agreement? Russia and the Damascus regime have increasingly made it clear that nothing less than conquest of East Aleppo is acceptable to them, and such an expansionist attitude is incompatible with a ceasefire.

——

Related video:

Euronews: “US suspends Syria talks with Russia over Aleppo offensive”

 
"It is difficult to write a paradiso when all the superficial indications are that you ought to write an apocalypse." -Ezra Pound

Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #19 on: October 04, 2016, 06:38:50 AM »
In the Bush era, Juan Cole was merciless in his logically presented facts and his deep knowledge of ME history.  When Obama came in he was appointed to a panel of academics/experts with direct access to Obama, and instantly he changed, while Obama continued doing what Bush had done.  I wrote frequently in the comments on his blog about his change, but in the end I left him too it.

"Spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said that the American goal remained to restart the ceasefire and to ensure the delivery of humanitarian aid to besieged populations."

Cole knows very well that the President doesn't give a flying fuck about humanitarian aid to besieged populations when the US and its allies are doing the besieging, only when its forces are being besieged.  What did Kobane look like when the US had finished with it?  What about humanitarian aid to Yemen, currently being bombarded by Saudi Arabia's air force, assisted by US intel - hospitals, water treatment plants and sewerage pumping stations all targeted.

Cole now lives on the dark side.
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Offline agelbert

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #20 on: October 04, 2016, 10:11:44 AM »
So the US suspends cooperation with Russia over Syria, and Russia blames US of working with terrorists all along.  I hope there is an understanding on where the US can and cannot fly in Syria, otherwise we are going to see US planes being shot down by Russian S-400 missiles, and the US response to that.

https://www.rt.com/usa/361482-bilateral-suspended-syria-ceasefire/
US suspends bilateral contact with Russia over Syria
3 Oct, 2016

//

https://www.rt.com/news/361502-syria-us-devil-terrorists/
‘Deal with the devil’: US ‘ready to ally with terror’ to overthrow Assad – Russia Foreign Ministry
3 Oct, 2016

//Meanwhile, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland is set to visit Moscow this week. However, she is expected to discuss solely Ukraine and implementation of the Minsk agreements, according to the State Department’s press release.

The heavy hand of the Zionist neocons continues to be evident. It's a shame that no one in this country will ever hear this POV.

And what would you give to be a fly on the wall at the meeting with Victoria "Fuck the EU" Nuland.


Russia understands the situation and has the moral high ground here. The U.S. is not now, or ever has been, an honest broker in Syria.

The U.S. is the out of control, predatory capitalist, neocon crazy uncle here.

That said, I firmly believe that the tools in out insane military and state department pushing this confrontation will soon be deciding to "spend more time with their families".

There still are some people in our intelligence community that are as sane and sober as the Russians. WWIII ain't gonna happen. Mark my words.
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if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #21 on: October 05, 2016, 12:58:49 AM »
http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-10-04/obama-warned-defuse-tensions-russia-unintended-consequences-likely-be-catastrophic
Obama Warned To Defuse Tensions With Russia, "Unintended Consequences Likely To Be Catastrophic"
Tyler Durden
Oct 4, 2016

A group of ex-U.S. intelligence officials is warning President Obama to defuse growing tensions with Russia over Syria by reining in the demonization of President Putin and asserting White House civilian control over the Pentagon.

    ALERT MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

     

    FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

     

    SUBJECT: PREVENTING STILL WORSE IN SYRIA

     

    We write to alert you, as we did President George W. Bush, six weeks before the attack on Iraq, that the consequences of limiting your circle of advisers to a small, relatively inexperienced coterie with a dubious record for wisdom can prove disastrous.* Our concern this time regards Syria.

     

    We are hoping that your President’s Daily Brief tomorrow will give appropriate attention to Saturday’s warning by Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova: “If the US launches a direct aggression against Damascus and the Syrian Army, it would cause a terrible, tectonic shift not only in the country, but in the entire region.”

     

    Speaking on Russian TV, she warned of those whose “logic is ‘why do we need diplomacy’ … when there is power … and methods of resolving a problem by power. We already know this logic; there is nothing new about it. It usually ends with one thing – full-scale war.”

     

    We are also hoping that this is not the first you have heard of this – no doubt officially approved – statement. If on Sundays you rely on the “mainstream” press, you may well have missed it. In the Washington Post, an abridged report of Zakharova’s remarks (nothing about “full-scale war”) was buried in the last paragraph of an 11-paragraph article titled “Hospital in Aleppo is hit again by bombs.” Sunday’s New York Times totally ignored the Foreign Ministry spokesperson’s statements.

     

    In our view, it would be a huge mistake to allow your national security advisers to follow the example of the Post and Times in minimizing the importance of Zakharova’s remarks.

     

    Events over the past several weeks have led Russian officials to distrust Secretary of State John Kerry. Indeed, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who parses his words carefully, has publicly expressed that distrust. Some Russian officials suspect that Kerry has been playing a double game; others believe that, however much he may strive for progress through diplomacy, he cannot deliver on his commitments because the Pentagon undercuts him every time. We believe that this lack of trust is a challenge that must be overcome and that, at this point, only you can accomplish this.

     

    It should not be attributed to paranoia on the Russians’ part that they suspect the Sept. 17 U.S. and Australian air attacks on Syrian army troops that killed 62 and wounded 100 was no “mistake,” but rather a deliberate attempt to scuttle the partial cease-fire Kerry and Lavrov had agreed on – with your approval and that of President Putin – that took effect just five days earlier.

     

    In public remarks bordering on the insubordinate, senior Pentagon officials showed unusually open skepticism regarding key aspects of the Kerry-Lavrov deal. We can assume that what Lavrov has told his boss in private is close to his uncharacteristically blunt words on Russian NTV on Sept. 26:

     

    “My good friend John Kerry … is under fierce criticism from the US military machine. Despite the fact that, as always, [they] made assurances that the US Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, supported him in his contacts with Russia (he confirmed that during his meeting with President Vladimir Putin), apparently the military does not really listen to the Commander in Chief.”

     

    Lavrov’s words are not mere rhetoric. He also criticized JCS Chairman Joseph Dunford for telling Congress that he opposed sharing intelligence with Russia, “after the agreements concluded on direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama stipulated that they would share intelligence. … It is difficult to work with such partners. …”

     

    Policy differences between the White House and the Pentagon are rarely as openly expressed as they are now over policy on Syria. We suggest you get hold of a new book to be released this week titled The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by master historian H. W. Brands. It includes testimony, earlier redacted, that sheds light on why President Truman dismissed WWII hero Gen. Douglas MacArthur from command of U.N. forces in Korea in April 1951. One early reviewer notes that “Brands’s narrative makes us wonder about challenges of military versus civilian leadership we still face today.” You may find this new book more relevant at this point in time than the Team of Rivals.

     

    The door to further negotiations remains ajar. In recent days, officials of the Russian foreign and defense ministries, as well as President Putin’s spokesman, have carefully avoided shutting that door, and we find it a good sign that Secretary Kerry has been on the phone with Foreign Minister Lavrov. And the Russians have also emphasized Moscow’s continued willingness to honor previous agreements on Syria.

     

    In the Kremlin’s view, Russia has far more skin in the game than the U.S. does. Thousands of Russian dissident terrorists have found their way to Syria, where they obtain weapons, funding, and practical experience in waging violent insurgency. There is understandable worry on Moscow’s part over the threat they will pose when they come back home. In addition, President Putin can be assumed to be under the same kind of pressure you face from the military to order it to try to clean out the mess in Syria “once and for all,” regardless how dim the prospects for a military solution are for either side in Syria.

     

    We are aware that many in Congress and the “mainstream” media are now calling on you to up the ante and respond – overtly or covertly or both – with more violence in Syria. Shades of the “Washington Playbook,” about which you spoke derisively in interviews with the Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg earlier this year. We take some encouragement in your acknowledgment to Goldberg that the “playbook” can be “a trap that can lead to bad decisions” – not to mention doing “stupid stuff.”

     

    Goldberg wrote that you felt the Pentagon had “jammed” you on the troop surge for Afghanistan seven years ago and that the same thing almost happened three years ago on Syria, before President Putin persuaded Syria to surrender its chemical weapons for destruction. It seems that the kind of approach that worked then should be tried now, as well – particularly if you are starting to feel jammed once again.

     

    Incidentally, it would be helpful toward that end if you had one of your staffers tell the “mainstream” media to tone down it puerile, nasty – and for the most part unjustified and certainly unhelpful – personal vilification of President Putin.

     

    Renewing direct dialogue with President Putin might well offer the best chance to ensure an end, finally, to unwanted “jamming.” We believe John Kerry is correct in emphasizing how frightfully complicated the disarray in Syria is amid the various vying interests and factions. At the same time, he has already done much of the necessary spadework and has found Lavrov for the most part, a helpful partner.

     

    Still, in view of lingering Russian – and not only Russian – skepticism regarding the strength of your support for your secretary of state, we believe that discussions at the highest level would be the best way to prevent hotheads on either side from risking the kind of armed confrontation that nobody should want.

     

    Therefore, we strongly recommend that you invite President Putin to meet with you in a mutually convenient place, in order to try to sort things out and prevent still worse for the people of Syria.

     

    In the wake of the carnage of World War II, Winston Churchill made an observation that is equally applicable to our 21st Century: “To jaw, jaw, jaw, is better than to war, war, war.”

For the Steering Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Fred Costello, Former Russian Linguist, USAF

Mike Gravel, former Adjutant, top secret control officer, Communications Intelligence Service; special agent of the Counter Intelligence Corps and former United States Senator

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC, Iraq & Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Larry C. Johnson, CIA & State Department (ret.)

John Kiriakou, former CIA counterterrorism officer and former senior investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret.) (associate VIPS)

Edward Loomis, NSA, Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

Ray McGovern, former US Army infantry/intelligence officer & CIA analyst (ret.)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for Middle East, CIA (ret.)

Todd Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Coleen Rowley, Division Counsel & Special Agent, FBI (ret.)

Kirk Wiebe, former Senior Analyst, SIGINT Automation Research Center, NSA, (ret.)

Robert Wing, former Foreign Service Officer

Ann Wright, U.S. Army Reserve Colonel (ret) and former U.S. Diplomat

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Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #22 on: October 05, 2016, 02:54:08 PM »
One option being considered in Washington is: "... bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships ... carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said."   Covertly?!!! - how on earth do they expect to do it covertly with the world's TV cameras pointed at it 24 hours a day?

In response the Russians have brought in more S-300 batteries (see below).

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/josh-rogin/wp/2016/10/04/obama-administration-considering-strikes-on-assad-again/
Obama administration considering strikes on Assad, again
Josh Rogin
October 4 2016

U.S. military strikes against the Assad regime will be back on the table Wednesday at the White House, when top national security officials in the Obama administration are set to discuss options for the way forward in Syria. But there’s little prospect President Obama will ultimately approve them.

Inside the national security agencies, meetings have been going on for weeks to consider new options to recommend to the president to address the ongoing crisis in Aleppo, where Syrian and Russian aircraft continue to perpetrate the deadliest bombing campaign the city has seen since the five-year-old civil war began. A meeting of the Principals Committee, which includes Cabinet-level officials, is scheduled for Wednesday. A meeting of the National Security Council, which could include the president, could come as early as this weekend.

Last Wednesday, at a Deputies Committee meeting at the White House, officials from the State Department, the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff discussed limited military strikes against the regime as a means of forcing Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad to pay a cost for his violations of the cease-fire, disrupt his ability to continue committing war crimes against civilians in Aleppo, and raise the pressure on the regime to come back to the negotiating table in a serious way.
Two different drone views tell the tale of Syria

The options under consideration, which remain classified, include bombing Syrian air force runways using cruise missiles and other long-range weapons fired from coalition planes and ships, an administration official who is part of the discussions told me. One proposed way to get around the White House’s long-standing objection to striking the Assad regime without a U.N. Security Council resolution would be to carry out the strikes covertly and without public acknowledgment, the official said.

The CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, represented in the Deputies Committee meeting by Vice Chairman Gen. Paul Selva, expressed support for such “kinetic” options, the official said. That marked an increase of support for striking Assad compared with the last time such options were considered.

“There’s an increased mood in support of kinetic actions against the regime,” one senior administration official said. “The CIA and the Joint Staff have said that the fall of Aleppo would undermine America’s counterterrorism goals in Syria.”

There’s still great skepticism, however, that the White House will approve military action. Other administration officials told The Post this week that Obama is no more willing to commit U.S. military force inside Syria than he was previously and that each of the military options being discussed have negative risks or consequences.

The State Department announced Monday that it was suspending bilateral channels of communication with Russia related to the failed cease-fire deal struck last month. The United States will now bring back all of the personnel from Geneva who have been waiting for weeks to begin a new project of military and intelligence cooperation with the Russians that was to accompany the cease-fire if it had held.
State Department: 'Russia failed to live up to its own commitments'

Two administration officials told me that the suspension was set to be announced last Friday, but Secretary of State John F. Kerry asked for a delay after speaking on the phone with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Kerry wanted more time to work out an extension of the cease-fire but failed, leaving the administration without a clear path forward.

Last week, Kerry was caught on tape telling a group of Syrian activists that he had argued for military strikes against the regime but that he “lost the argument.” Kerry had supported limited strikes against the regime in 2013 as punishment for Assad using chemical weapons against his own people. But while Congress was deliberating an authorization, the president withdrew his request and decided to strike a deal with Moscow instead.

This time around, Kerry has not favored using U.S. military force against the Assad regime, two administration officials said. He now prefers continued diplomacy with Russia, even in the face of what he says is Moscow’s willingness to “turn a blind eye” to, if not participate directly, in war crimes in Aleppo.

Kerry does support increasing pressure on the Assad regime, officials said.

The National Security Council’s senior coordinator for the Middle East, Rob Malley, and the president’s special envoy to the coalition for the fight against the Islamic State, Brett McGurk, are also said to be against any military escalation against the Assad regime, officials said. There’s no consensus on what options should be sent to the president’s desk. Other options include increased weapons for some Syrian rebel groups and an increase in the quality of such weapons, to allow rebels to defend Aleppo’s civilians.



https://www.rt.com/news/361586-russia-s300-supplied-syria/
Moscow delivers S-300 missile system to Syria for defense of Russian naval base
4 Oct, 2016

A battery of Russian S-300 air defense missile launchers has been transported to Syria, Russia’s Defense Ministry said in a statement. Its sole purpose is to defend a Russian naval base and warships, the ministry added.

The information about the S-300’s deployment was confirmed by ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov.

“Indeed, the Syrian Arab Republic received an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system. This system is designed to ensure the safety of the naval base in [Syrian city of] Tartus and ships located in the coastal area [in Syria]…” he told the media.

Konashenkov said it is unclear why the deployment of the missile system has created such a fuss in the West.

“The S-300 is a purely defensive system and poses no threat,” he said.

He recalled that before the deployment of S-300, Russia had delivered Fort air defense missile systems to Syria.

The statement comes after a report by Fox news that a Russian S-300 was deployed to Syria. The media cited three US officials who claimed that Moscow “continues to ramp up its military operations in Syria.”

In November 2015, Moscow deployed its newest S-400 air defense missile system to Khmeimim in Syria as part of a security boost following the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey near the border with that country. At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the S-400 systems are not targeting Russia's partners, “with whom we fight terrorists in Syria together.”

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Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #23 on: October 06, 2016, 05:33:53 PM »
Russia effectively declares a no-fly zone over territory controlled by the Syrian Government, with S400, S-300, S-200 and Buk anti-aircraft and anti-missile capabilities, with "the weapons reach may be “a surprise” to all unidentified flying objects."  As for 'stealth' aircraft, "And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality”.

https://www.rt.com/news/361800-russia-syria-usa-aistrikes/
‘S-300, S-400 air defenses in place’: Russian MoD warns US-led coalition not to strike Syrian army
6 Oct, 2016

Russia’s Defense Ministry has cautioned the US-led coalition of carrying out airstrikes on Syrian army positions, adding in Syria there are numerous S-300 and S-400 air defense systems up and running.

Russia currently has S-400 and S-300 air-defense systems deployed to protect its troops stationed at the Tartus naval supply base and the Khmeimim airbase. The radius of the weapons reach may be “a surprise” to all unidentified flying objects, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov said.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, any airstrike or missile hitting targets in territory controlled by the Syrian government would put Russian personnel in danger.

The defense official said that members of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria are working “on the ground” delivering aid and communicating with a large number of communities in Syria.

“Therefore, any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen.”

“Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time to determine in a ‘straight line’ the exact flight paths of missiles and then who the warheads belong to. And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality,”  Konashenkov added.

He also noted that Syria itself has S-200 as well as BUK systems, and their technical capabilities have been updated over the past year.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s statement came in response to what it called “leaks” in the Western media alleging that Washington is considering launching airstrikes against Syrian government forces.

“Of particular concern is information that the initiators of such provocations are representatives of the CIA and the Pentagon, who in September reported to the [US] President on the alleged controllability of ‘opposition’ fighters, but today are lobbying for ‘kinetic’ scenarios in Syria,” he said.

He cautioned Washington to conduct a “thorough calculation of the possible consequences of such plans.”

US-led coalition jets bombed positions of the Syrian government forces on September 17, resulting in the deaths of 83 servicemen. Washington said the airstrike was a mistake, however Damascus claimed the incident was a “blatant aggression.”

The relocation of the S-300 system in order to protect Russian ships and the naval base in Syria was confirmed by Russian defense officials on October 4. Konashenkov assured that the S-300 is a “purely defensive system and poses no threat.” Russia also has S-400 missile defense systems at Khmeimim base that were placed there after Turkey downed a Russian SU-24 jet in November of 2015.
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #24 on: October 06, 2016, 06:40:58 PM »
A warning to "those around the world who want to destroy our way of life ... we will stop you, and we will beat you harder than you’ve ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that.”

https://www.rt.com/usa/361849-army-chief-threatens-rivals-enemies/
‘We will stop you…beat you’: US Army chief offers stark warning to potential rivals and enemies
6 Oct, 2016

The US Army Chief of Staff warned the enemies of the United States that “we will beat you harder than you’ve ever been beaten before.” The list of rivals and foes is predictably Russia, Iran and China. He also admitted that the US Army’s readiness to fight had been eroded recently.

The US Army Chief of Staff, Mark Milley delivered his remarks before the army’s annual meeting on Tuesday in Washington, DC, and said it was the military’s aim “to deter war but if deterrents fail we as an army, we as a nation must be prepared to fight.”

General Milley said deterrents were expensive but more expensive was fighting a war, and then fighting and winning a war but most expensive is fighting and losing a war.

“Our readiness to fight a war against a high-end, near peer adversary has eroded in the last 15 years as we fought and continue to fight against terrorists and guerillas in Afghanistan Iraq and elsewhere,” said Gen. Milley. “We were highly successful in ripping apart Saddam’s military in 1991, ejecting him from Kuwait and we shattered his army in 2003. Similarly, we destroyed the Taliban and Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in very short order.”

The general admitted they had problems consolidating gains and adapting to an insurgent fight, and that the army’s future was being jeopardized by budget cuts.

“Other countries - Russia, China, Iran, North Korea – went to school on us. They closely watched how we fought in ’91 and ’03. They studied our doctrine, our tactics, our equipment, our organization and our training and our leadership and in turn they revised their own doctrines and they are rapidly modernizing their military today to avoid our strengths and hopes of defeating us at some point in the future,” said General Millay.

Gen. Millay said the military had taken a number of steps over the last year to increase “our readiness in the total army,” with training and combat readiness.

“I want to be clear to those around the world who want to destroy our way of life, and that of our allies and friends,” said Gen. Millay. “The United States military, despite all our challenges, despite our off-tempo, despite everything we have been doing, will stop you, and we will beat you harder than you’ve ever been beaten before. Make no mistake about that.”
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #25 on: October 06, 2016, 06:58:06 PM »
https://www.rt.com/news/361827-third-ship-syria-op/
3rd Russian Black Sea fleet ship leaves for Mediterranean to join anti-ISIS op
6 Oct, 2016


Guided-missile corvette Mirazh of the Russian Black Sea fleet in Sevastopol. © Vasiliy Batanov / Sputnik

A third Russian warship – the corvette ‘Mirage’ – has left the port of Sevastopol and set sail for the Mediterranean Sea to assist in Russia’s anti-Islamic State operations, the Russian Black Sea Fleet has confirmed.

“The fast-attack guided missile craft (FAC) of the Black Sea, ‘Mirage’, has left Sevastopol and set out on a long Mediterranean journey, after having completed a round of preparations,” the interim head of the information department for the Black Sea fleet, Captain 2nd-rank Nikolay Voskresensky said.

“It is planned that the vessel will go via Black Sea straits and enter the Mediterranean, where it will join the standing naval force of the Russian Fleet in the region,” he added.

The ‘Mirage’ is aimed at protecting sea communications and convoys, and can also fight attack vessels in coastal areas. It is equipped with Malakhit cruise missile launchers and the Osa-M air defense system and artillery.

‘Mirage’ is well-known due to its participation in the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict back in 2008.

This month, ‘Mirage’ went on a two-week trip to the Mediterranean, taking part in the Black Sea drills.

The latest news about ‘Mirage’ comes just a day after the Russian Navy announced that two ships had joined the Russian sea force in Syria: the ‘Serpukhov’ and the ‘Zeleny Dol’.

In September, the Russian Navy said that the aircraft carrier ‘Admiral Kuznetsov’ would be joining up with the country’s naval group operating in the eastern Mediterranean as well, and is to set sail in the middle of October.

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #26 on: October 09, 2016, 07:12:18 AM »
https://www.rt.com/news/362090-lavrov-syria-us-terrorists/
No sign US is seriously battling Al-Nusra; calls not to fly over Aleppo suspicious – Lavrov
9 Oct, 2016

Russia can’t see that the US is seriously fighting militants from the Al-Nusra terrorist group in Syria, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that, though American fighter jets make a lot of flights, they don’t hit many targets.

Moscow “doesn’t see any facts that the US is seriously battling Al-Nusra [now known as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham],” Lavrov said in an interview aired on Channel One Russia on Sunday.

Russia is also suspicious about Washington’s calls for Russia and the Syrian Air Force to cease their bombing runs against terrorists in Aleppo, the Russian Foreign Minister said.

“And it’s also suspicious that they call on us and the Syrian air force not to fly over Aleppo because, yes, the main force of Al-Nusra front is there, but there are also allegedly representatives of the ‘moderate opposition,’ who are surrounded and have nowhere to go except to Al-Nusra,” Lavrov said.

“So don’t touch Al-Nusra, because it is not humane in relation to the normal guys [‘moderate opposition’], and we will fight Al-Nusra later,” Lavrov said, as if mimicking Washington officials.

“And this ‘later’ never comes. [Washington] promised to separate these normal guys from Al-Nusra back in February,” he added.

Lavrov said that he has repeatedly asked US Secretary of State John Kerry if the US has some special plan for Al-Nusra Front.

“I asked Kerry if [the US] has some hidden plan to save Al-Nusra… so that at some point to make it a main force to overthrow Assad. He swore that this was untrue, and that they are really fighting Al-Nusra.”

Lavrov noted that, though US fighter jets frequently carry out attacks on Islamic State militants, the efficiency is quite low.

“US bombers very often return to the Incirlik Air Base [in Turkey] or to other bases they use, with unspent ammunition. There is a high frequency of flights, but the efficiency is very low. Some estimates put it at 15 to 20 percent,” he said.

On Saturday, the UN Security Council (UNSC) vetoed two rival resolutions proposed by Russia and France on dealing with the escalating situation in Syria, and the war-torn city of Aleppo, in particular.

The French proposal called for “upgraded” coordination of monitoring of the situation in Syria and reactivating the cessation of hostilities in Aleppo. One of the key points of the proposal was putting a halt to Syrian and Russian bombing raids in East Aleppo.

Russia, in turn, submitted a counter-resolution on Syria to the UNSC, in which Moscow called for bringing an immediate halt to the violence in war-ravaged Aleppo, but not for a ceasing anti-terrorist strikes there. Monitoring should then be evaluated by the International Syrian Support Group (ISSG), the document said. The proposal also stressed the urgent need to a separate the ‘moderate rebels’ from terrorist groups like Al-Nusra in Aleppo, as was agreed upon between Moscow and Washington on September 9 in Geneva.

Moscow has repeatedly insisted that any peace plan for Syria and Aleppo, in particular, will not bear fruit until the US-backed rebels clearly distance themselves from Al-Nusra.

Moscow is certain that Washington doesn’t want a military scenario in Syria, Lavrov said.

“I am sure that US Secretary of State john Kerry and President Barack Obama wouldn’t welcome such a move [military scenario]. Obama has repeatedly told Russian President Vladimir Putin that he stands for a political solution to the crisis,” he said.

Commenting on rumors recently appearing in the media claiming that Washington is planning to bomb Syrian army airfields, Lavrov said that Russia has assets to protect its two bases in Syria – the Khmeimim Air base and Tartus naval base.

“This is a very dangerous game, given that Russia, being in Syria at the invitation of the legitimate government of this country and having two bases there, has air defense systems there to protect its assets.”

US’ aggressive Russophobia behind suspension of plutonium disposal deal

Aggressive Russophobia, which affects Russia’s national interests and endangers its safety and security, prompted Moscow to suspend the Russia-US deal on plutonium disposal, Lavrov said.

We noticed “aggressive Russophobia,” which is now in the core policy of the US towards Russia, he said.

“It’s not rhetorical Russophobia, but aggressive steps which really concern own national interests and endanger our security. This NATO enlargement and [location of] NATO military infrastructure next to our borders…,” he said.

“This deployment of US heavy weapons [next to the Russian border]… and the deployment of a missile defense system – these are all a display of unfriendly, hostile actions,” Lavrov concluded.

According to the foreign minister, Russia will never use plutonium falling under the deal with the US for military purposes.

Russia suspended a post-Cold War deal with the US on disposal of plutonium from decommissioned nuclear warheads earlier in October. The decision was explained by “the hostile actions of the US” against Russia. It may be reversed, if such actions cease.

The treaty between the US and Russia, which regulates how the two countries are to dispose of plutonium from nuclear warheads decommissioned as part of a parallel reduction of the two countries’ Cold War arsenals, was signed in 2000. Each country is required to dispose of over 34 tons of fissile material by turning it into so-called MOX fuel and burning it in nuclear reactors.

However, the cost of building a facility at the Savannah River Site in South Carolina, where the US was supposed to produce MOX fuel from its plutonium, spiraled out of control. Under the Obama administration, the US decided that it would use a cheaper reversible process instead, arguing that it was in line with the spirit of the deal with Russia.
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #27 on: October 10, 2016, 08:36:18 PM »
Turkish Stream is back on track and speeding up.  They even agree on getting rebels out of Aleppo - very odd.

https://www.rt.com/news/362285-putin-erdogan-turkey-meeting/
Putin: Russia, Turkey call for urgent end to bloodshed in Syria
10 Oct, 2016

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan have urged a swift end to the bloodshed in war-torn Syria, following talks between the two leaders in Istanbul on Monday.

“Both Russia and Turkey stand for the earliest cessation of bloodshed in Syria. In Russia we think that the switch to a political settlement must happen as soon as possible. We suppose that everybody, who wants peace, should support this proposal,” Putin said.

According to Putin, both Moscow and Ankara backed the proposal of UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura, regarding the removal of militants from Aleppo.

“Together with the Turkish president we agreed to do everything to support de Mistura’s initiative on the withdrawal of military units, which refuse to lay down their arms, from Aleppo in order to end violence,” he said.

The Russian president said that he and Erdogan had agreed to strengthen contact between the countries’ militaries and intelligence agencies.

He added that Moscow is ready to develop large-scale military-technical cooperation with Ankara and the sides are now studying various projects.

The Turkish military operation in Syria and ways to cooperate in providing aid to civilians in the city of Aleppo were discussed during the talks in Istanbul on Monday, Erdogan said.

The Russian and Turkish militaries, as well as intelligence services and diplomats from the two countries, will continue to work together on the provision of humanitarian aid in Syria, he added.

“We thoroughly discussed the Syrian issue. We talked about the [Turkish] Euphrates Shield operation and evaluated ways we can cooperate in this direction. We specifically talked about what strategy we may choose in order to help, from a humanitarian point of view, the inhabitants who are in a dire situation, especially in Aleppo,” Erdogan said.

“We have a common stance [with Turkey] regarding what must be done to deliver humanitarian aid to Aleppo. The issue is ensuring security for the deliveries of this cargo,” Putin said.

During the talks, the two leaders agreed to “speed up the work” on construction of such vital joint projects as the Turkish Stream gas pipeline and the Akkuyu Nuclear Power Plant, the Turkish president said.

Before the two leaders addressed the media, an intergovernmental agreement on the Turkish Stream pipeline was signed in their presence.

Regarding the signing of the Turkish Stream pipeline deal, Putin said that Moscow and Ankara are moving forward with plans to create a major energy hub in Turkey.
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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #28 on: October 11, 2016, 01:02:17 AM »
http://thesaker.is/russian-options-against-a-us-attack-on-syria/
Russian options against a US attack on Syria
The Saker
October 05, 2016

This article was written for the Unz Review: http://www.unz.com/tsaker/russian-options-against-a-us-attack-on-syria/

The tensions between Russia and the USA have reached an unprecedented level. I fully agree with the participants of this CrossTalk show – the situation is even worse and more dangerous than during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Both sides are now going to the so-called “Plan B” which, simply put, stand for, at best, no negotiations and, at worst, a war between Russia and the USA.

The key thing to understand in the Russian stance in this, an other, recent conflicts with the USA is that Russia is still much weaker than the USA and that she therefore does not want war. That does not, however, mean that she is not actively preparing for war. In fact, she very much and actively does. All this means is that should a conflict occur, Russia you try, as best can be, to keep it as limited as possible.

In theory, these are, very roughly, the possible levels of confrontation:

    A military standoff à la Berlin in 1961. One could argue that this is what is already taking place right now, albeit in a more long-distance and less visible way.
    A single military incident, such as what happened recently when Turkey shot down a Russian SU-24 and Russia chose not to retaliate.
    A series of localized clashes similar to what is currently happening between India and Pakistan.
    A conflict limited to the Syrian theater of war (say like the war between the UK and Argentina over the Malvinas Islands).
    A regional or global military confrontation between the USA and Russia.
    A full scale thermonuclear war between the USA and Russia

During my years as a student of military strategy I have participated in many exercises on escalation and de-escalation and I can attest that while it is very easy to come up with escalatory scenarios, I have yet to see a credible scenario for de-escalation. What is possible, however, is the so-called “horizontal escalation” or “asymmetrical escalation” in which one side choses not to up the ante or directly escalate, but instead choses a different target for retaliation, not necessarily a more valuable one, just a different one on the same level of conceptual importance (in the USA Joshua M. Epstein and Spencer D. Bakich did most of the groundbreaking work on this topic).

The main reason why we can expect the Kremlin to try to find asymmetrical options to respond to a US attack is that in the Syrian context Russia is hopelessly outgunned by the US/NATO, at least in quantitative terms. The logical solutions for the Russians is to use their qualitative advantage or to seek “horizontal targets” as possible retaliatory options. This week, something very interesting and highly uncharacteristic happened: Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Chief of the Directorate of Media service and Information of the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, openly mentioned one such option. Here is what he said:

    “As for Kirby’s threats about possible Russian aircraft losses and the sending of Russian servicemen back to Russia in body bags, I would say that we know exactly where and how many “unofficial specialists” operate in Syria and in the Aleppo province and we know that they are involved in the operational planning and that they supervise the operations of the militants. Of course, one can continue to insist that they are unsuccessfully involved in trying to separate the al-Nusra terrorists from the “opposition” forces. But if somebody tries to implement these threats, it is by no means certain that these militants will have to time to get the hell out of there.”

Nice, no? Konashenkov appears to be threatening the “militants” but he is sure to mention that there are plenty of “unofficial specialists” amongst these militants and that Russia knows exactly where they are and how many of them there are. Of course, officially, Obama has declared that there are a few hundred such US special advisors in Syria. A well-informed Russian source suggests that there are up to 5’000 foreign ‘advisors’ to the Takfiris including about 4’000 Americans. I suppose that the truth is somewhere between these two figures.

So the Russian threat is simple: you attack us and we will attack US forces in Syria. Of course, Russia will vehemently deny targeting US servicemen and insist that the strike was only against terrorists, but both sides understand what is happening here. Interestingly, just last week the Iranian Fars news agency reported that such a Russian attack had already happened:

    30 Israeli, Foreign Intelligence Officers Killed in Russia’s Caliber Missile Attack in Aleppo:

    “The Russian warships fired three Caliber missiles at the foreign officers’ coordination operations room in Dar Ezza region in the Western part of Aleppo near Sam’an mountain, killing 30 Israeli and western officers,” the Arabic-language service of Russia’s Sputnik news agency quoted battlefield source in Aleppo as saying on Wednesday. The operations room was located in the Western part of Aleppo province in the middle of sky-high Sam’an mountain and old caves. The region is deep into a chain of mountains. Several US, Turkish, Saudi, Qatari and British officers were also killed along with the Israeli officers. The foreign officers who were killed in the Aleppo operations room were directing the terrorists’ attacks in Aleppo and Idlib.”

Whether this really happened or whether the Russians are leaking such stories to indicate that this could happen, the fact remains that US forces in Syria could become an obvious target for Russian retaliation, whether by cruise missile, gravity bombs or direct action operation by Russian special forces. The US also has several covert military installations in Syria, including at least one airfield with V-22 Osprey multi-mission tiltrotor aircraft.

Another interesting recent development has been the Fox News report that Russians are deploying S-300V (aka “SA-23 Gladiator anti-missile and anti-aircraft system”) in Syria. Check out this excellent article for a detailed discussion of the capabilities of this missile system. I will summarize it by saying that the S-300V can engage ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, very low RCS (“stealth”) aircraft and AWACS aircraft. This is an Army/Army Corps -level air defense system, well capable of defending most of the Syrian airspace, but also reach well into Turkey, Cyprus, the eastern Mediterranean and Lebanon. The powerful radars of this system could not only detect and engage US aircraft (including “stealth”) at a long distance, but they could also provide a tremendous help for the few Russian air superiority fighters by giving them a clear pictures of the skies and enemy aircraft by using encrypted datalinks. Finally, US air doctrine is extremely dependent on the use of AWACS aircraft to guide and support US fighters. The S-300V will forces US/NATO AWACS to operate at a most uncomfortable distance. Between the longer-range radars of the Russian Sukhois, the radars on the Russian cruisers off the Syrian coast, and the S-300 and S-300V radars on the ground, the Russians will have a much better situational awareness than their US counterparts.

It appears that the Russians are trying hard to compensate for their numerical inferiority by deploying high-end systems for which the US has no real equivalent or good counter-measures.

There are basically two options of deterrence: denial, when you prevent your enemy from hitting his targets and retaliation, when you make the costs of an enemy attack unacceptably high for him. The Russians appear to be pursuing both tracks at the same time. We can thus summarize the Russian approach as such

    Delay a confrontation as much as possible (buy time).
    Try to keep any confrontation at the lowest possible escalatory level.
    If possible, reply with asymmetrical/horizontal escalations.
    Rather then “prevail” against the US/NATO – make the costs of attack too high.
    Try to put pressure on US “allies” in order to create tensions inside the Empire.
    Try to paralyze the USA on a political level by making the political costs of an attack too high-end.
    Try to gradually create the conditions on the ground (Aleppo) to make a US attack futile

To those raised on Hollywood movies and who still watch TV, this kind of strategy will elicit only frustration and condemnation. There are millions of armchair strategists who are sure that they could do a much better job than Putin to counter the US Empire. These folks have now been telling us for *years* that Putin “sold out” the Syrians (and the Novorussians) and that the Russians ought to do X, Y and Z to defeat the AngloZionist Empire. The good news is that none of these armchair strategists sit in the Kremlin and that the Russians have stuck to their strategy over the past years, one day at a time, even when criticized by those who want quick and “easy” solutions. But the main good news is that the Russian strategy is working. Not only is the Nazi-occupied Ukraine quite literally falling apart, but the US has basically run out of options in Syria (see this excellent analysis by my friend Alexander Mercouris in the Duran).

The only remaining logical steps left for the USA in Syria is to accept Russia’s terms or leave. The problem is that I am not at all convinced that the Neocons, who run the White House, Congress and the US corporate media, are “rational” at all. This is why the Russians employed so many delaying tactics and why they have acted with such utmost caution: they are dealing with professional incompetent ideologues who simply do not play by the unwritten but clear rules of civilized international relations. This is what makes the current crisis so much worse than even the Cuban Missile Crisis: one superpower has clearly gone insane.

Are the Americans crazy enough to risk WWIII over Aleppo?

Maybe, maybe not. But what if we rephrase that question and ask

Are the Americans crazy enough to risk WWIII to maintain their status as the “world’s indispensable nation”, the “leader of the free world”, the “city on the hill” and all the rest of this imperialistic nonsense?

Here I would submit that yes, they potentially are.

After all, the Neocons are correct when they sense that if Russia gets away with openly defying and defeating the USA in Syria, nobody will take the AngloZionists very seriously any more.

How do you think the Neocons think when they see the President of the Philippines publicly calling Obama a “son of a whore” and then tells the EU to go and “f*ck itself”?

Of course, the Neocons can still find some solace in the abject subservience of the European political elites, but still – they know that he writing is on the wall and that their Empire is rapidly crumbling, not only in Syria, the Ukraine or Asia, but even inside the USA. The biggest danger here is that the Neocons might try to rally the nation around the flag, either by staging yet another false flag or by triggering a real international crisis.

At this point in time all we can do is wait and hope that there is enough resistance inside the US government to prevent a US attack on Syria before the next Administration comes in. And while I am no supporter of Trump, I would agree that Hillary and her evil cabal of russophobic Neocons is so bad that Trump does give me some hope, at least in comparison to Hillary.

So if Trump wins, then Russia’s strategy will be basically justified. Once Trump is on the White House, there is at least the possibility of a comprehensive redefinition of US-Russian relations which would, of course, begin with a de-escalation in Syria: while Obama/Hillary categorically refuse to get rid of Daesh (by that I mean al-Nusra, al-Qaeda, and all their various denominations), Trump appears to be determined to seriously fight them, even if that means that Assad stays in power. There is most definitely a basis for dialog here. If Hillary comes in, then the Russians will have to make an absolutely crucial call: how important is Syria in the context of their goal to re-sovereignize Russia and to bring down the AngloZionist Empire? Another way of formulating the same question is “would Russia prefer a confrontation with the Empire in Syria or in the Ukraine?”.

One way to gauge the mood in Russia is to look at the language of a recent law proposed by President Putin and adopted by the Duma which dealt with the issue of the Russia-US Plutonium Management and Disposition Agreement (PMDA) which, yet again, saw the US yet again fail to deliver on their obligations and which Russia has now suspended. What is interesting, is the language chosen by the Russians to list the conditions under which they would resume their participation in this agreement and, basically, agree to resume any kind of arms negotiations:

    A reduction of military infrastructure and the number of the US troops stationed on the territory of NATO member states that joined the alliance after September 1, 2000, to the levels at which they were when the original agreement first entered into force.
    The abandonment of the hostile policy of the US towards Russia, which should be carried out with the abolition of the Magnitsky Act of 2012 and the conditions of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014, which were directed against Russia.
    The abolition of all sanctions imposed by the US on certain subjects of the Russian Federation, Russian individuals and legal entities.
    The compensation for all the damages suffered by Russia as a result of the imposition of sanctions.
    The US is also required to submit a clear plan for irreversible plutonium disposition covered by the PMDA.

Now the Russians are not delusional. They know full well that the USA will never accept such terms. So what is this really all about? It is a diplomatic but unambiguous way to tell the USA the exact same thing which Philippine President Duterte (and Victoria Nuland) told the EU.

The Americans better start paying attention.
The State is a body of armed men

Offline Palloy

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Re: Syria - superpowers eye-ball to eyeball
« Reply #29 on: October 11, 2016, 09:26:26 PM »
RT puts the boot in on US blatant hypocrisy.

https://www.rt.com/usa/362443-saudi-yemen-russia-syria/
‘It’s different’: US justifies Saudi ‘self-defense’ in Yemen, slams Russia’s actions in Syria
12 Oct, 2016

The US says Saudi Arabia’s bombing of Yemen was an act of “self-defense” against Iranian missiles on its border. While there are similarities with the Syrian conflict, Washington sees “differences” between the deaths of over 150 civilians, blamed on Riyadh, and the situation in Aleppo.

“It is different,” the State Department’s John Kirby has told AP’s Matt Lee, when asked whether Capitol Hill sees a difference between the recent attack in Yemen and “what you accuse the Russians and the Syrians and the Iranians of doing in Syria, particularly Aleppo?”

The question specifically referred to an airstrike that targeted a funeral service in the Yemeni capital, Sana’a, killing more than 150 civilians and injuring over 525.

Located on opposite sides of Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Syria bear few similarities, but have one thing in common: a civil conflict between their governments and rebels, which later evolved into larger-scale wars, with the intervention of foreign forces. However, the rules of the game appear to be different for each case.

For the State Department, the Saudi pledge to investigate the bombing seems to offer some reduction in the significance of its actions.

“The Saudis publicly said that they were going to investigate this as – for the potential of it being, in fact, wrongly implemented and wrongly executed,” Kirby said. That is something, he added, he hasn’t seen the Syrian army or the Russian military do “not once.”

When asked about Russia’s recent demand for an investigation into an attack on a humanitarian convoy in Syria, Kirby said “it’s not exactly been a clarion call.”

Addressing the attack in Sana’a, the UN called the bombing “outrageous” and pointed out constant strikes, specifically at places of mass congregation, which lacked proper recourse.

“Since the beginning of this conflict in Yemen, weddings, marketplaces, hospitals, schools – and now mourners at a funeral – have been hit, resulting in massive civilian casualties and zero accountability for those responsible,” the UN said in a statement Monday.

Yet, when it comes to Saudi Arabia and its intervention in Yemen, the State Department said it is important to remember that Riyadh has a “pressing requirement for self-defense” because of threats it faces from Iranian missiles launched by Houthi rebels near the border.

However, there is no similar judgment regarding Syria, where rebel groups along with Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists presumably hold people at gunpoint in Aleppo.

Kirby accused Moscow and the Assad forces of “a concerted” and “very deliberate” effort to take “to subdue” the city by force.

As RT learned from locals still living in western Aleppo, it was not Russian forces that terrified them.

“Some people managed to escape, but rebels snipers are shooting at them when they see them,” a man told RT. “They don’t let civilians leave.”

A woman said that everyone trying to get water from a well was also shot at while children described shells destroying their house.

RT has asked the State Department to comment on whether the people were effectively being “held” in Aleppo.

“I can’t confirm that report. You know I don’t get into battlefield reports; I’m not going to do that,” Kirby. “And your question about being held hostage, there should be – and I’ve seen reports that they’re allowed to leave,” he added, blaming the Syrian government and the Russian military.

The Department’s spokesman also declined to speak about Al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, who remain in the area along with anti-Assad rebels. Moscow has unsuccessfully been asking the US to dissociate terrorists from the so-called moderate opposition.

Kirby says it’s unlikely they would want to leave Aleppo, hinting that the responsibility also lay with Russia.

“They’re not likely to want to leave while they’re continuing to be bombed,” he said.

When specifically asked whether it was America’s strategy to let Al-Qaeda run the area, Kirby declined to answer.

Washington has been supplying rebels with arms, some of which it has admitted ended up in the hands on terrorists.

In September, a US military spokesman said that rebels surrendered six pick-up trucks and about one-quarter of their ammunition to Al-Qaeda linked Al-Nusra Front, now known as Jabhat Fatah al Sham, in exchange for safe passage.

When it comes to Yemen, the US also played, though indirectly, its part in the conflict aiding Saudi Arabia and its coalition partners with weapons, often used in attacks targeting civilians. Following the airstrike, the White House said it would reassess its help to Saudi Arabia.

Despite massive casualties and some opposition among lawmakers, US-Saudi arms sales have been thriving with the Senate just recently blocking a bipartisan bill that would stop the deal with Riyadh.
The State is a body of armed men

 

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