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Iran's Foreign Minister slams US & Saudis for talk of deploying forces to Syria

© AFP 2016/ ATTA KENARE
As Saudi Arabia considers deploying ground forces to Syria, Iran's foreign minister has stressed the importance of pursuing a political solution, especially in light of ceasefire reached during the Munich talks.

Early Friday morning, world leaders reached a last minute ceasefire agreement aimed at ending the violence in Syria. Expected to be implemented within one week, the agreement was praised by both US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

But ahead of the talks, Kerry spoke of the need for a backup plan, saying "there has to be consideration of a Plan B." This referred to the possibility of sending ground forces into Syria, something the Saudi Arabian government has expressed a willingness to do.

Comment: Further reading:
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to ramp up support for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, by resuming air strikes in Syria and providing military advisers for Sunni fighters in Iraq and Syria, US Department of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters at a news conference on Friday.

Peace negotiations? UAE to resume air strikes in Syria and train Sunni fighters in Iraq



Snakes in Suits

Peace negotiations? UAE to resume air strikes in Syria and train Sunni fighters in Iraq

© AP
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has agreed to ramp up support for the US-led coalition against the Islamic State, by resuming air strikes in Syria and providing military advisers for Sunni fighters in Iraq and Syria, US Department of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told reporters at a news conference on Friday.

The UAE indicated its willingness "to restart their participation in the air campaign, which is very important," Carter said following a meeting with Defense Minister Mohammed Al Boward. "Secondly, [UAE agreed] to work with us on the ground in various ways."

Comment: So this is how the US negotiates peace settlements:


Radar

U.S. in a tizzy: Russia destroys CIA's arms smuggling operation in Syria


No more CIA-supplied guns for 'moderate' rebels
No wonder Washington is suing for peace

Let's cut to the chase: The closing of the Azaz corridor, a major supply artery for the "moderate rebels" in Syria, should be viewed as a crippling military defeat for the United States.

As analysts have pointed out, US Secretary of State John Kerry repeatedly implored Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov to keep the Azaz corridor open.

The New York Times now explains why Kerry was so anxious:

Comment: U.S. imperial ambitions in Syria are now seeing one failure after the next, after the next. Its also one less revenue stream for U.S. arms companies and the military industrial complex. Keep em coming, Putin!


Rocket

This is how the US negotiates peace: Syrian rebels receive more missiles from Assad's enemies

© Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's foreign enemies have sent rebels new supplies of ground-to-ground missiles to confront a Russian-backed offensive by the government near Aleppo, stepping up support in response to the attack, two rebel commanders said.

The commanders told Reuters the missiles with a range of 20 km (12 miles) had been provided in "excellent quantities" in response to the attack that has cut rebel supply lines from the Turkish border to opposition-held parts of the city of Aleppo.

Facing one of the biggest defeats of the five-year-long war, rebels have been complaining that foreign states such as Saudi Arabia and Turkey have let them down by not providing them with more powerful weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles.

Vader

Henry Kissinger, war criminal extraordinaire: What you need to know about his real history — and why the Sanders/Clinton exchange matters

© Associated Press
Senior war criminal Henry Kissinger and war criminal apprentice Hillary Rodham Clinton interviewed by media shill Charlie Rose
Sanders is right about Kissinger. His civilian death toll nears 4 million, his policies built today's Middle East

Vote Hillary, get Henry. That seemed to be the message Hillary Clinton wants to send; she's spoken highly of Kissinger in her last two debates with Bernie Sanders. Last night, Sanders fired back at Clinton for seeking foreign-policy wisdom from the Vietnam-era secretary of state. "I find it rather amazing," Sanders said, "given that I happen to believe that Kissinger was one of the most destructive secretaries of state in the modern history of this country. I am proud to say that Henry Kissinger is not my friend. I will not take advice from Henry Kissinger."

Maybe Kissinger will be the Dick Cheney of this campaign, angling for a shot at a dark-lord VP, you know, like Cheney himself. I doubt it. Though, at 92 and still a congenital publicity seeker, he must be enjoying himself.

In my most recent book, Kissinger's Shadow, I tried to use Kissinger as a window onto both the collapse of the national security state, brought about by Vietnam, its reconstruction on new footings reading to meet the challenges of 1970s and beyond. It is in that reconstruction, in which Kissinger was key, that one can find the beginning of the militarization of the Persian Gulf - that is, the seeds sprouting the catastrophe we now find ourselves in.

Comment: Of course there is also those famous Kissinger quotes:

"Military men are just dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy."

and

"Control oil, and you control nations; control food and you control the people

Further reading (if you can stomach it):


Magnify

Western diplomatic source: Everyone in EU wants to lift anti-Russian sanctions

© Sputnik/ Vladimir Sergeev
The European Union is willing to lift anti-Russia sanctions as soon as possible, but needs to see progress on the Ukrainian conflict settlement, a Western diplomatic source told Sputnik on Friday.

"Everybody in Europe wants to lift anti-Russia sanctions, but we can't do it without resolving the Donbass issue. But yes — everyone wants those sanctions lifted as soon as possible, and actions are required," the source said.

He added that the Saturday's meeting of the foreign ministers of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference is designed to boost the stalling settlement in the region.

"This meeting is to kickstart the Minsk process, which has stalled," the source pointed out.

Bad Guys

Erdogan losing allies left and right: Turkey put in the cold by US and Russia


Erdoğan has reignited the war against the PKK in Turkey
The underlying tensions between the US and its supposed ally Turkey have once again surfaced after a visit by President Obama's special envoy, Brett McGurk, to the Kurdish PYD (Democratic Union Party) in Kobane in northern Syria.

It was the heroic defence of Kobane by the PYD's military wing, the YPG (People's Defence Units), against Isis which won international admiration.

However, Turkey put a different gloss on the visit, and as President Erdoğan angrily remarked: "Are you on our side or on the side of the terrorist organisations?" Turkey has branded the PYD a terrorist organisation together with its sister organisation, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), which is outlawed in Turkey. While agreeing with Turkey on the status of the PKK, the US clearly differs when it comes to the PYD, as it considers Kurdish fighters to have been some of the most successful in going after Isis inside Syria.

Comment: Is support for the Syrian Kurds plan B for U.S. interventionists? Regime change via terrorist proxies obviously hasn't worked, and is unlikely to, given Russian military support to Assad's Syrian Araby Army. Maybe some slightly less hawkish American policy makers are willing to settle on merely breaking up Syria? A Kurdistan to the north and a 'Sunnistan' to the east? If so, they will have to ensure that ISIS or a suitable facsimile remains in control of Raqqa: Race to Raqqa: A battle the Syrian Army must win

Despite the softening of Washington's tone in recent weeks, you can bet your bottom dollar this is not because they have grown a conscience. They simply have no other options at the moment. As for Erdogan, he is serving his purpose as chaos-creator-in-chief. The U.S. can't openly intervene to the extent they would like. And Erdogan will in all likelihood be thrown out once he has completed his proxy role in escalating the situation.


Handcuffs

US Justice Department releases new controversial engagement guidelines for nation's police

© Flickr/ TCDavis
The Department of Justice's has prepared a series of guidebooks to guide police agencies gain the trust of the communities they serve, US Attorney General Loretta Lynch said in a press release on Friday.

"The series of guidebooks our COPS [Community Oriented Policing Services] office has produced with the Vera Institute of Justice will give officers across the nation a new central resource, informed by deep experience in the field, for building those bonds within their communities," Lynch stated.

Numerous instances of police brutality and misconduct, including killings of unarmed citizens, often caught on video, have spurred protests throughout the United States in the past year and a half as well as calls for police reforms.

President Barack Obama has launched several policy initiatives in the wake of renewed calls to counter police brutality as well as racial bias. The initiatives include investing in body-worn cameras for law enforcement agencies and a plan for addressing segregation in US neighborhoods.

Comment: Apparently these new rules only apply to federal agencies and not local and state police: Re: Concerns with the U.S. Department of Justice Guidance for Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Regarding the Use of Race, Ethnicity, Gender, National Origin, Religion, Sexual Orientation, or Gender Identity


War Whore

Pepe Escobar: Syrian "ceasefire" amid a sea of hostility

© Sputnik
There could hardly have been a more appropriate start for the Chinese Year of the Monkey, geopolitically, than the prime monkey business enacted in Munich between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

The Syrian charade now proceeds under a vague "cessation of hostilities" - which is not a ceasefire - to be implemented within a week. Further on down the road, as this is the real world, "hostilities" will inevitably resume.

As Lavrov stressed multiple times, "we made proposals on implementing a ceasefire, quite specific ones." And yet Washington and the Saudi-Turkish combo relented. A frightened, cornered House of Saud - with its remote-controlled "moderate rebel" gaggle being routed on the ground - even started spinning the ludicrous notion of sending ground troops, a.k.a. a bunch of mercenaries, to "help the US effort" against Daesh (ISIS/ISIL/IS).

The monkey business reached such a level of un-sustainability that Russian premier Dmitry Medvedev felt compelled to tell an interviewer from Germany's Handelsblatt, "The Americans and our [Arab] partners must think hard about this: Do they want a permanent war?"

Light Sabers

Medvedev: Sending foreign troops to Syria will unleash yet another war on Earth

© Ekaterina Shtukina / Sputnik
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
Russian PM Dmitry Medvedev told German media that sending foreign troops into Syria could unleash "yet another war on Earth." The warning follows increasingly aggressive statements made by Saudi Arabia and Turkey amid Bashar Assad's gains in Aleppo.

"All sides must be compelled to sit at the negotiating table, instead of unleashing yet another war on Earth," Medvedev told Germany's Handelsblatt newspaper. "Any kinds of land operations, as a rule, lead to a permanent war. Look at what's happened in Afghanistan and a number of other countries. I am not even going to bring up poor Libya."

The PM was commenting on recent statements from Saudi Arabia claiming that it was ready to send ground troops to Syria, should Washington lead the way.

"The Americans and our Arab partners must think well: do they want a permanent war? Do they think they can really quickly win it? It is impossible, especially in the Arab world. Everyone is fighting against everyone there," Medvedev added. The interview was published on the eve of the International Syria Support Group meeting in Munich, where the cessation of hostilities in Syria became a top item on the agenda.