Welcome to Sott.net
Sun, 14 Feb 2016
The World for People who Think

Puppet Masters
Map

Attention

Iran releases new photos of detained crying US sailors in Persian Gulf

© AP Photo/ IRIB News Agency
Tehran has released provocative new photographs and video of the US sailors who were detained in the Persian Gulf hours before President Obama's State of the Union Address last month, after they strayed into Iranian waters.

The photos and video were aired on state television and shared to social media by Iranian reporters. Some of the images feature one of the sailors emotionally wiping away tears.

Yoda

Putin's gamble in Aleppo pays off big

Last week's game-changing triumph in northern Syria has moved the Russian-led coalition to within striking distance of a decisive victory in Aleppo. After breaking a 40 month-long siege on the cities of Nubl and Zahra, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has encircled the country's industrial hub and is gradually tightening the noose. Crucial supply-lines to the north have been cut leaving the Sunni extremists and anti-government militias stranded inside a vast, urban cauldron. It's only a matter of time before these disparate renegades are either killed or forced to surrender. A victory in Aleppo will change the course of the war by restoring government control over the densely-populated western corridor. This is why the Obama administration is frantically searching for ways to either delay or derail the Russian-led juggernaut and avoid the impending collapse of US policy in Syria.

Recent peace talks in Geneva were convened with one goal in mind, to prevent Syrian President Bashar al Assad and loyalist forces from retaking Aleppo. The negotiations failed, however, when Washington's mercurial allies, the so called "moderate" rebels, refused to participate. According to the Wall Street Journal, the Syrian opposition withdrew "under pressure from Saudi Arabia and Turkey, two of the main backers of the rebels." The WSJ's admission was later confirmed by Secretary of State John Kerry who according to a report in the Middle East Eye "blamed the Syrian opposition for leaving the talks and paving the way for a joint offensive by the Syrian government and Russia on Aleppo."

Comment: Yes the war is far from over, and yes it is only a matter of time before the U.S. and its regional allies miscalculate again and effectively create more misery and death for some part of the world's population - but right now we can imagine and relish the fact that after many decades of bullying the world, the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today is scuttling around with its tail between it legs. That's something.


Jet2

Russia 'destroyed' plans for regime change in Syria, now citizens will decide their future - Russian diplomat

© Alexander Kots/Komsomolskaya Pravda via AP
Syrian government troops fire at terrorists' positions near Mahin
The Russian air task force's operation in Syria has destroyed plans for the military solution to the crisis in that country, Russia's Ambassador to Syria Alexander Kinshchak told TASS on Tuesday.

"The start of the Russian air task force's operation in Syria has prompted radical changes in the balance of forces both 'in the field' and in the political sphere," the Russian diplomat said.

"All the sides involved in the Syrian crisis became aware that there would be no quick fall of the regime of Bashar Assad. Many of those who earlier counted on the military solution have realized that now this will hardly happen," the ambassador said.

Comment: Routing the terrorists was a natural first step in achieving a solution to the Syrian conflict. But the terrorists themselves were just pawns in a larger game, and some of the bigger players still have their sights set on regime change. See:
It's possible that some in the Obama administration and the military/intelligence hierarchy see the way the wind is blowing and would be willing to give up on their "Assad must go" policy. But like MoA points out above, there are some for whom this is not an option, including factions within the U.S. power structure. Any softening of their line is likely to be only skin deep. The real test will be whether Obama actually does anything productive. We'll just have to wait and see how the U.S. responds to Russia's "concrete plan" to end the war in Syria.

You and whose army: Turkey's Erdogan threatens war with Russia and Iran



Radar

US Defense Intel admits Russia has shown 'tremendous' capabilities in Syria

© Dmitriy Vinogradov / Sputnik
SU-34
Russia is demonstrating significant military capabilities in its operations in Syria, US Defense Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant General Vincent Stewart told the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) at a hearing on Tuesday.

On September 30, Russia launched an air campaign against terrorist groups in Syria following a request from President Bashar Assad. Russian authorities have stressed that the military operation will continue as long as the Syrian Armed Forces continue their offensive liberating the country's regions from militant groups.

"We are seeing Russia demonstrates tremendous capabilities as they've done their out-of-area deployment in Syria," Stewart state.

Comment: Further reading:
"The leaders of NATO member states and a number of European countries, especially Britain, the Nordic countries, the Baltic counties neighboring us, Poland, Romania and some others, are whipping up 'Russia's threat' myth, as well as the idea that we are planning to use our nuclear weapons to intimidate Sweden and the Baltic countries," Sergei Lavrov said in an interview with the Moskovsky Komsomolets daily.

"There is the impression that Russia is nearly the main stumbling block in international relations, because today the dominant media sources spread news from only the Western point of view," he added.

Lavrov: West whips up hysteria over myth of Russian nuclear threat



Quenelle - Golden

Lavrov sets the record straight: Don't blame Russia - Turkey's responsible for refugee crisis & Syrian conflict

© Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
The leaders of Islamic State maintain a constant liaison with the Turkish government, working out a new approach to the war in Syria as the Russian Air Force cuts off traditional smuggling routes, says Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

Moscow has intelligence that Islamic State's (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) command continues to hold backdoor negotiations with the Turkish leadership, Lavrov told Russian newspaper MK in a vast interview in honor of Diplomats' Day.

The airstrikes of the Russian Air Force in Syria have severely disrupted "traditional smuggling routes," so the Turks are discussing in all seriousness creation of "IS-free zones" in Syria.

Comment: Further reading: You and whose army: Turkey's Erdogan threatens war with Russia and Iran


TV

South Front: Turkey's intervention in the Syrian war, the Russian battle for the Arctic

Foreign Policy Diary - Turkey's Military Intervention to Syria


Comment: Further reading: You and whose army: Turkey's Erdogan threatens war with Russia and Iran


Vader

FBI confirms it is investigating Clinton private emails

© Unknown
The FBI formally confirmed that its investigation connected to Hillary Clinton's private email server remains ongoing in a letter released on Monday.

The letter from FBI general counsel James Baker comes one day before the New Hampshire primary.

The message does not offer new details about the probe, which the bureau has been reluctant to discuss. However, it represents the FBI's formal notification to the State Department that it is investigating the issue.

Since last September, "in public statements and testimony, the Bureau has acknowledged generally that it is working on matters related to former Secretary Clinton's use of a private e-mail server," Baker wrote to the State Department.

Mr. Potato

You and whose army: Turkey's Erdogan threatens war with Russia and Iran

The Syrian campaign against the foreign supported terrorists continues with the help of Russia, Iran and other associated forces. This campaign is aimed at killing all terrorists and their associated forces as demanded by the United Nations Security Council resolution 2254.
[r]eiterates its call in resolution 2249 (2015) for Member States to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da'esh), Al-Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings, and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, [...] and to eradicate the safe haven they have established
The U.S. for now seems to go along with that resolution and lets Syria and Russia do what they must. But there are others who are more invested in Syria than the Obama administration. The immediate aim of the Syrian forces is to close the border with Turkey and to liberate Aleppo city from the Jihadi insurgents. 6,000 additional soldiers from Iran have arrived to support that effort. A major campaign is planned to launch during next months. But the Saudis, Qataris, Turks and Israelis want to fight the Syrian government down to the last Syrian rebel and foreign mercenary. They will not give up the dreams and the very large investments they made to bring Syria down. The Syrian insurgent groups were just summoned to Ankara to receive new orders.

Comment: It's possible that some in the Obama administration and the military/intelligence hierarchy see the way the wind is blowing and would be willing to give up on their "Assad must go" policy. But like MoA points out above, there are some for whom this is not an option, including factions within the U.S. power structure. Any softening of their line is likely to be only skin deep. The real test will be whether Obama actually does anything productive. We'll just have to wait and see how the U.S. responds to Russia's "concrete plan" to end the war in Syria.

In the meantime, some European countries are softening their tone when it comes to Russia:


Stormtrooper

As Russia and Syria continue to win the war against ISIS, the West now tries a new narrative of Russia bombing civilians to justify their war of aggression

© AFP 2016/ GEORGE OURFALIAN
Western politicians, media and the Turkish regime are full of it. The latest wave of refugees on the Syrian-Turkish border are, we are told, terrified civilians fleeing Russian air strikes.

No doubt civilians are caught up in this war. But many of those portrayed as refugees fleeing now from the northern city of Aleppo are actually retreating militants, who are capitulating because of Russian and Syrian military success in terminating their insurgency.

As ever distorting reality, the Western news media are transmitting a classic psychological operation in their coverage of the latest stage in what is actually the foreign-backed war of aggression on Syria.

Incredibly, Russia and the Syrian Arab Army are painted as the "bad guys", and in turn this narrative is used to build a pretext for "responsibility to protect" - the faux humanitarian cover to allow for unwarranted foreign intervention.

That intervention could be either in the form of a US-led military invasion into Syrian territory; or in the form of political, legalistic pressure on Russia and Syria to stop their otherwise very effective offensive against illegally armed groups.

Magnify

Despite Western lies, Syrian army is defending Aleppo not attacking it

© AFP 2016/ GEORGES OURFALIAN
The Syrian conflict has seen many media distortions but there is one especially which I must take vigorous issue with. The news media in the West portrays the recent fighting around Aleppo as a Syrian army attack on Aleppo.

Sometimes there is an admission that the government controls part of Aleppo. However overall the impression given is that Aleppo is a rebel city and that the Syrian government's army is attacking it.

This often comes with lurid claims of the Syrian airforce terror bombing ("barrel-bombing") its people — something that has now become part of the standard Western critique of President Assad.

This is an inversion of the truth.