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Sat, 30 Jul 2016
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Will China step in to fix Afghanistan? Taliban delegation visits China for talks

A delegation from the Taliban visited China earlier this month to discuss the situation in Afghanistan, where the insurgent movement is fighting the Western-backed government in Kabul, sources in the Taliban said.

A delegation led by Abbas Stanakzai, head of the Taliban's political office in Qatar, visited Beijing on July 18-22 at the invitation of the Chinese government, a senior member of the Taliban said.

"We have good terms with different countries of the world and China is one among them," said the Taliban official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

"We informed Chinese officials about the occupation by invading forces and their atrocities on Afghan people," he said. "We wanted the Chinese leadership to help us raise these issues on world forums and help us get freedom from occupying forces."

Info

Propaganda alert: Russia plans to "seize" Aleppo after civilian evacuation

© AFP
Syrian rebels pose with the children they're holding hostage in Aleppo.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov denied allegations that Russia and Syria are preparing to storm Syria's Aleppo after clearing civilians out of the city under the guise of a humanitarian operation.

U.S. officials and Syrian rebel groups have suggested Russia's and Syria's creation on July 28 of so-called "safe corridors" where they have invited an estimated 250,000 civilians trapped amidst fighting to evacuate may be part of a plan to depopulate the city so that the Syrian army, which has surrounded and besieged the city, can seize it.

"I categorically deny the allegation that some storm is being prepared," Ryabkov told Interfax late on July 29.

"Our American partners, due to their own stagnancy and suspiciousness toward Russia, are beginning to attribute some nonexistent designs to us. We cannot accept that things should be formulated this way. We are pursuing the ends that have been declared - not more but not less," he said.

Comment: The reason for the outcry is that it seems to have taken the Americans by surprise. And it doesn't fit their narrative of choice. The Russians and Syrians covered all bases: humanitarian aid, safe passage for civilians, safe passage for militants who don't want to surrender, full amnesty for militants who do surrender. There's no way the Russians and Syrians come out looking bad, so the West and their minions have had to work overtime to come up with ways to spin this straightforward humanitarian operation, and you can see just how far they're willing to stretch the truth and spout absurdities to get there.

1) Some civilians have already used the corridor (i.e., Russians and Syrians look good), 2) 14 metric tons have been distributed at the checkpoints (i.e., Russians and Syrians look good), 3) some militants have already surrendered and received amnesty (i.e., Russians and Syrians look good - they keep their word), 4) rebels are preventing other civilians from leaving and using them as human shields (i.e., rebels and Americans look bad), 5) no reports of the Russians and Syrians killing civilians at the checkpoints (i.e., Americans look bad - they're opportunistic liars of the worst sort).

For a glimpse into just how far a "Contra"/death-squad-loving mind can slip into hysterical delusion, just take a glance at Bild journalist Julian Roepcke's Twitter account. Hard to know whether to laugh, cry, or scream.


Snakes in Suits

Thailand: US-funded election 'monitors' exposed

Thailand faces an upcoming referendum regarding a new national charter meant to put the country back on track after over a decade of political conflict revolving around US-backed proxy Thaksin Shinawatra. Shinawatra and his foreign sponsors have increased pressure on the Thai government as the vote in early August nears. This includes maneuvering into place overt fronts engaged in political agitation, and leveraging the West's monopoly over the international media to portray any attempt to crackdown on such fronts as heavy-handed and unjust. Bangkok-based English newspaper the Nation in their article, "Thai junta refuses to accredit election monitors in referendum vote," reports that:
The Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL) said that repeated attempts to gain accreditation to monitor the August 7 referendum, Thailand's first trip to the polls since the military took power in 2014, were met with silence.
What the Nation does not report is who ANFREL is, who funds them, or the obvious conflicts of interest involved in their "monitoring" work across all of Asia, including Thailand.

Die

The truth about the Aleppo siege: It's the rebels' own fault

© AFP 2016/ GEORGE OURFALIAN
The Syrian rebels and their Western and Arab backers, through their continued intransigence, provoked a joint Syrian-Iranian-Russian attack on them that they could never defeat.

Following the Syrian army's encirclement of the jihadi rebels in eastern Aleppo a predictable outcry has begun in the West in which the Syrian government and Russia are being accused of aiming to starve Aleppo into submission. The Syrian-Russian plan for setting up humanitarian corridors of the city is being derided, and there are mounting calls for the siege to be lifted.


As a general rule Western governments and the Western media tend not to make such calls when the besiegers are Western militaries or are aligned with the West. They did not for example demand an immediate stop of the shelling and sieges of population centres and cities in eastern Ukraine by the Ukrainian army during the conflict there. Nor did they make similar demands during the Iraqi military's recent US-backed siege of the Daesh controlled Iraqi city of Ramadi.

In passing I should say that there is some dispute about the number of people in the rebel controlled area of eastern Aleppo. Most reports say the number is 300,000. However the Guardian's Martin Chulov - a journalist who tends to be sympathetic to the rebels - puts the number much lower, at about 40,000.

Info

Corbett interview: Christoph Germann on the Turkish coup fallout

From the Turkish Armed Forces's Chief of Staff hanging the plot on Erdogan to the drama at Incirlik and the NBC psyops, Christoph Germann of the New Great Game blog is here to update us on all the latest news, views and reactions to this month's failed coup attempt in Turkey.


Star of David

US boosts Israeli shield at the expense of US domestic security

© jpupdates.com
David's Sling: One more Israeli missile defense system paid for by the USA.
The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) has been spending an increased portion of its limited budget to fund Israeli missile defense systems at the expense of US domestic security, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) said in a report on Friday.

"Assistance for Israeli missile defense occupies an increased percentage of MDA's budget," the report stated. The report's primary author, Thomas Karako, explained that "US programs tend to get cut as a kind of bill-payer for a larger Israeli program."

The result of MDA's growing foreign assistance to Israel "puts US missile defense and Israeli missile defense in competition," for the same limited funds, the report noted. The United States has been assisting Israel in developing and procuring a number of missile defense systems including Iron Dome, David's Sling, and David's Arrow.

Between 1998 and 2011, MDA foreign assistance to Israel accounted for 1 to 3 percent of the agency's budget. By 2014, the Missile Defense Agency was spending 5.5 percent of its budget, or $729 million, on the Israeli systems.

The CSIS report suggested the United States may "renegotiate the terms" of US military aid to Israel when it expires in 2018. The renegotiation would involve budgeting strategies to shift the financial strain off of MDA, as the agency faces increasing demands amid a shrinking budget. The MDA came into existence in 2004 following the US unilateral withdrawal of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia.

Comment: Every man, woman and child in the USA feels so much better having sacrificed their domestic security so Netanyahu can have two...no, three...no, four or more...missile defense systems for stolen territory slightly larger than the state of New Jersey.


Eye 1

Claim by Turkish prosecutor: CIA, FBI trained coup plotters

© www.stripes.com
The Accused: Retired US Army General John F. Campbell, the former commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan, and head of US Central Command, General Joseph Votel
A Turkish prosecutor has claimed that the CIA and FBI provided training for the followers of powerful US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara blames for the coup attempt earlier this month. The indictment, prepared by the Edirne Public Prosecutor's office and accepted by the local Second Heavy Penal Court, seeks the harshest possible punishment for 43 suspects that have allegedly been linked to the failed coup attempt on July 15, including the coup's supposed mastermind, Fethullah Gulen, the arch-nemesis of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The prosecutor said on Thursday that members of what it describes as "the Fethullah Terrorist Organization" were trained by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). "The CIA and FBI provided training in several subjects to the cadre raised in the culture centers belonging to the Gulen movement. The operations carried out by prosecutors and security officials during the Dec. 17 process can be taken as a good example of this," the document says, referring to a high profile corruption probe that targeted senior government officials between December 17 and December 25 of 2013, as reported by the Turkish Hurriyet daily.

The investigation affected many officials linked to the Turkish Cabinet, which was headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan at that time. Erdogan, who is now Turkey's president, called it "a judicial coup" attempt, while accusing Gulen and his movement of orchestrating it with the help of some "foreign forces."


Comment: "Purge-itory" in Turkey is certainly rounding up and clearing out the Turkish 'guilty' but the US/NATO footprint still remains. Unsubstantiated allegations do not mean the allegations are necessarily false. But, as long as there is no concrete proof that the US or NATO were involved, trained plotters, colluded or planned the coup, it may be years before anything is admitted or done about it. Look at 9/11.


Pirates

Gang leader-ISIS member in Syria, killed in Dagestan

© twitter.com
Kamaldin Kazimagomedov
A gang leader, who fought alongside terrorist group Islamic State in Syria and is suspected of attacks on both civilians and police in Russia, has been killed in the southern republic of Dagestan, law enforcers reported.

Kamaldin Kazimagomedov's body was identified after he was killed in a firefight on a hill in the south east of Dagestan close to the border with Azerbaijan. A police patrol stopped him for an ID check, after which he drew an assault rifle and opened fire and was killed in response, according to the National Antiterrorism Committee.

The 26-year-old militant studied at the famous Al-Azhar University in Cairo and later surfaced in Syria, where he was fighting in a group pledging allegiance to the terrorist group Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), the report said. In 2014 he used fake papers to return to Russia.

By February 2015 he became the leader of one of militant gangs operating in the turbulent Russian republic. He was suspected of several attacks against police officers and civilians, including the murder of five hunters in September 2015, the report said.

Police searched the area where Kazimagomedov was found and discovered a cache full of ammo, IODs and provisions, the committee added.

Some parts of southern Russia have a long-term insurgency problem fueled by foreign sponsorship. The threat of Russian-born fighters, who went to Syria and Iraq to fight for IS and later returned with combat experience and established links to the terrorist group was one of the reasons cited by Moscow, when it deployed its warplanes in the region following a request from the Syrian government.

Comment: Given the origins of ISIS, and the countries involved in the care and maintenance of it, its network and its affiliates, it is fair to say this malignant militancy has Russian infiltration on the top of its target list. Consider it a scouting party for the big showdown, a distraction with consequences, a deniable penetration of Russian borders by those who puppet from a distance.


Info

Will anyone listen? Retired French general calls for NATO's liquidation and join anti-terror alliance with Russia

© REUTERS/ PHILIPPE WOJAZER
NATO's present format and the alliance's continuing expansion eastward is beneficial only to the United States, which seeks to keep Russia and Europe at odds, says retired French Army General Jean-Bernard Pinatel. Accordingly, he suggests the alliance be liquidated or 'Europeanized', and the creation of a European-Russian alliance against terror.

Interviewed by Le Figaro, Pinatel, a retired officer who now works as an expert in geopolitics and economic intelligence, recalled that if Russia and the European countries had succeeded in forming an alliance in the 1990s, following the collapse of the Soviet Union, they would have been able to effectively challenge US pretentions to global hegemony.

Now, the retired general emphasized, the threat of radical Islamist terrorism has once against opened a discussion on global leadership, and whether the US truly deserves its hegemonic position in Europe. According to Pinatel, the spate of attacks in Europe has clearly demonstrated to the French, and to other NATO members, that the US-led alliance is helpless in the struggle against the terrorist threat.

Bomb

US Army investigating missing guns stolen from base in Germany

© Jen Pippin
The US Army Criminal Investigation Command (CID) is investigating the apparent theft of guns and other military equipment from its base in Stuttgart, Germany, US military news website Stars and Stripes reported on Friday.

CID spokesman Chris Grey said that the investigation into the theft earlier this month at Panzer Kaserne, part ofUS Army Garrison Stuttgart, is still ongoing.

"Several semi-automatic pistols, one small-caliber automatic rifle and a shotgun were among the items taken," from an armory room on the base in Stuttgart, he said.