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Sun, 23 Oct 2016
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Snakes in Suits

Washington's game of good terrorists versus bad terrorists

© Hamid Khatib / Reuters
When you reach the stage of making a distinction between good terrorists and bad terrorists, not only are you defending the indefensible, you are engaged in the ugly business of sowing dragon's teeth.

Jahbat Al-Nusra, which recently changed its name to Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, is a terrorist organization dripping in the blood of men, women, and children - people it has butchered across Syria over the past five years for the crime of praying to a different God than them, or else the same God in a different way. Such an organization, you would automatically think, has no place in this world, with its eradication a priority for all right-thinking humanity. Not so when it comes to Washington.

During a press briefing in Washington on October 20, US State Department spokesman, John Kirby, was asked by a reporter, "Is the US fighting al-Nusrah [sic] in Syria at this time?" Kirby replied, "Our efforts militarily in Syria, as I said today, is against ISIS, against Daesh."

Kirby also said, "The only thing that stands between where we are now and a permanent and enduring ceasefire in Syria is Bashar al-Assad and his supporters," Kirby said. "We recognize Al-Nusra as a spoiler, we have concerns about co-mingling, I've talked about this ad nauseam."

Snakes in Suits

WikiLeaks 16: Fresh batch of emails from Clinton campaign chair

© Carlos Barria / Reuters
The whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has released a new tranche of emails from the hacked account of Hillary Clinton's campaign chair, John Podesta.

The organization had already released more than 26,000 emails by Saturday in a series of 15 consecutive daily releases.

Sunday's leak includes Clinton aides corresponding about former Republican Party candidate Marco Rubio and concerns over President Barack Obama's Afghanistan strategy.

The leaks have offered extraordinary insight into the operations of Clinton's campaign team, revealing details about Clinton's Wall Street speeches, 'pay for play' discussions, Hillary's "Achilles heel", and addressing her server scandal through jokes.

Георгиевская ленточка

US misreading Russia: thinks it can kick it out of Syria without a fight

Somehow Washington always think it can strike at whomever it wants and these won't retaliate in other ways

Despite the signs that the U.S. and Russia are on the verge of a military confrontation in Syria, Washington is counting on Moscow to back down in the event that it decides to intervene. However, this betrays a lack of understanding both of the significance of Syria for the Kremlin and of the way public opinion is formed in Russia.

For now a military clash between Russia and the United States seems very unlikely. However, some events can already be interpreted as the preparation of public opinion for a direct armed conflict with Russia in a local theater of military actions. On Oct. 13 the British Foreign Secretary recommended that "military options" be considered to solve the Syrian question.

The fall of 2016 has brought several strange events, beginning with America's mystification over Russia's bombing of the UN humanitarian convoy near Aleppo and ending with an extremely dangerous situation involving the maneuvering of a Ukrainian passenger plane in Syria's skies. Too much in the latest information wave around "the genocide of civilians in Aleppo" reminds us of the "shelling of the Sarajevo market" in April 1995, which led to the bombing of former Yugoslavia.

Comment: Wishful thinking at its finest.

Snakes in Suits

US deadly word game: 'Collateral damage' and 'enemy combatants'

© Lee Jae-Won / Reuters
Western media will never portray the real human toll in Daquq, Iraq, where a funeral procession was targeted. It will be brushed under the carpet or explained as 'collateral damage,' says Steve Topple, independent journalist and political analyst.

In Iraq, an alleged US-coalition strike on Saturday hit a funeral procession at a shrine in the northern city of Daquq killing over a dozen civilians.

This comes when Iraqi forces, backed by America, are also conducting a massive anti-ISIS operation in the area focusing on Mosul and surrounding villages. That is being widely covered by major news outlets - unlike the funeral attack that claimed 15 civilian lives, many of them women and children and also left 50 more injured.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the procession was likely mistaken for terrorists by coalition forces. It also added that according to its data there are no ISIS fighters in the area. Russia slammed the incident as a war crime.

Monkey Wrench

Manufactured discontent: Syrian people never desired revolution

Apparently, the US Left has yet to figure out that Washington doesn't try to overthrow neoliberals. If Syrian President Bashar al-Assad were a devotee of the Washington Consensus - as Counterpunch's Eric Draitser seems to believe - the United States government wouldn't have been calling since 2003 for Assad to step down. Nor would it be overseeing the Islamist guerilla war against his government; it would be protecting him.

There is a shibboleth in some circles that, as Eric Draitser put it in a recent Counterpunch article, the uprising in Syria "began as a response to the Syrian government's neoliberal policies and brutality," and that "the revolutionary content of the rebel side in Syria has been sidelined by a hodgepodge of Saudi and Qatari-financed jihadists." This theory appears, as far as I can tell, to be based on argument by assertion, not evidence.

A review of press reports in the weeks immediately preceding and following the mid-March 2011 outbreak of riots in Daraa—usually recognized as the beginning of the uprising—offers no indication that Syria was in the grips of a revolutionary distemper, whether anti-neo-liberal or otherwise. On the contrary, reporters representing Time magazine and the New York Times referred to the government as having broad support, of critics conceding that Assad was popular, and of Syrians exhibiting little interest in protest. At the same time, they described the unrest as a series of riots involving hundreds, and not thousands or tens of thousands of people, guided by a largely Islamist agenda and exhibiting a violent character.

Bad Guys

No peace for Yemen: Saudi-led coalition resumes airstrikes despite UN call to extend truce

© AP Photo/ Hani Mohammed
The Saudi Arabia-led coalition resumed its airstrikes against Houthi positions in Yemen on Sunday despite the UN calls to resume truce active in the country for the past days, local media reported.

According to the SABA news agency, on Sunday morning the coalition conducted at least 9 airstrikes in various regions of Yemen. A ceasefire in Yemen started in the early hours of October 20 and lasted for 72 hours.


More Wikileaks #Podesta emails: Clinton staffers aimed for 'moral high ground' in Benghazi testimony

© Joshua Roberts / Reuters
U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton exhales while testifying to the House Select Committee on Benghazi on Capitol Hill in Washington October 22, 2015.
A leaked email thread from Hillary Clinton's staff and lawyers reveals that her team disagreed over elements of her Benghazi testimony and sought to achieve the 'moral high ground' ahead of the hearing.

The email chain, released in the latest batch of leaked emails from her campaign chair John Podesta, began on October 16, 2015 and ended on October 20, 2015 - just two days before the former Secretary of State testified in front of the House Select Committee.

US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, US Foreign Service Information Management Officer Sean Smith and CIA contractors Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty were killed during an Islamic militant attack on the US diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya in 2012. Clinton was Secretary of State at the time.

Snakes in Suits

UK outrage after govt admits training Saudi pilots despite war crimes allegations

© Abduljabbar Zeyad / Reuters
The UK is still training the Saudi Air Force despite growing evidence of the Saudi-led coalition's crimes against civilians in Yemen, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon admitted, replying to an MP's question. The statement outraged the opposition.

Fallon was responding to the written questions asked by Stephen Doughty, Labor MP for Cardiff South and Penarth, on the UK involvement in the Yemen military intervention, when he admitted that "UK has provided training to the Royal Saudi Air Force (RSAF) both in the UK and in Saudi Arabia," in particular, to "improve their targeting processes" and ensure its better compliance with international law.

At the same time, Fallon denied that UK military has been involved in decision-making process in the Saudi-led campaign in Yemen, saying that UK "has not provided training on political authorization of military operations."

Comment: Of course there is outrage but there is nothing being done to stop the weapons sales or training which is even more outrageous.

Star of David

Clinton to drop Israel from 'public' speeches, put it back in 'with donors'

Joel Benenson, Clinton pollster
I've been on the road for days, and a few more Clinton emails have thudded down from the Wikileaks heavens revealing deliberations about Israel inside the Clinton braintrust. Some day we will put together a leatherbound edition with morocco covers of Clinton's Israel emails, but for now we're just trying to chase the latest.

And these three are stunners because they baldly expose the importance of Israel to donors and the party establishment.

First, there was this amazing email thread among top strategists from May 2015 about revising Clinton's talking points in her speeches at rallies and fundraisers in the weeks before she officially launched her candidacy. You just gotta read these comments as they fall. The conversation started out on a bunch of different talking points, but everyone quickly turned to Israel, and the public and private messaging.

Comment: More information about Zionist influence on US elections:

2 + 2 = 4

President Assad interview with Swiss SRF 1 TV: 'Fighting terrorists is the way to protect civilians in Aleppo' (VIDEO)

Damascus, - President Bashar al-Assad stressed that protecting civilians in Aleppo necessitates getting rid of the terrorists.

Speaking in an interview with the Swiss SRF 1 TV channel, the President said "Of course, it's our mission according to the constitution and the law. We have to protect the people, and we have to get rid of those terrorists in Aleppo. That's how we can protect civilians."

He added that it goes without saying that the way to protect the civilians in Aleppo is to attack the terrorists who hold the civilians under their control and are killing them.

Following is the full text of the interview:

Journalist: Mr. President, thank you very much for having welcomed Swiss Television and our program Rundschau here in Damascus.

President Assad: You are most welcome in Syria.

Question 1: First, please, allow me to clarify one thing: may I ask you every question?

President Assad: Every question, without exception.

Comment: Assad really proves his mettle here by answering such obviously uninformed and Western narrative-slanted questions with such rigor and aplomb.