Thu, 17 Mar 2016 03:25 UTC
On Monday, Putin ordered Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu to start withdrawal the Russian air group from Syria the following day as it had completed its assigned tasks.
Commenting on Putin's order, Faisal Devji, a New York-based historian from the University of Oxford, said that the crucial lesson to be learned from this decision was that the Russian leader did not believe in zero-sum games.
Comment: Further reading:
While the United States appears to be manipulating the Middle East for its own advantage, it may be inadvertently losing influence."Empires all go down the same path. They overreach themselves," Anderson says. "The main, interesting thing that seems to me to come out of the failure of the US in Syria is that they are losing Iraq also."
West's failure in Syria: 'Empires all go down the same path'
Wed, 16 Mar 2016 22:12 UTC
The outcome of Super Tuesday II, when US voters charged off to choose their nominee in the Republican and Democratic primary elections in five key battleground states, was already determined before the day began. That did not stop the pundits from setting the stage for an epic Sanders letdown following his improbable victory one week earlier in the Michigan race.
What pundits do not explain is that, in politics more than anything else, the process is what really matters. The process, the timeline, and early voting had decided the election long before the last voters trudged to the polls Tuesday evening.
Tue, 15 Mar 2016 21:29 UTC
"It was said from the beginning that the intervention would be until the mission was accomplished. In other words, it wasn't a US-type intervention where they'd stay for a decade," Dr. Anderson tells Loud & Clear host Brian Becker, referring to Russian President Vladimir Putin's surprise order to begin withdrawing troops from Syria on Tuesday.
"So I think that that timing and the signals that it sends to the peace process, and the fact that [Russia] say[s] they have effectively broken the back of the terrorist groups in most of the key areas of Syria, that's what's significant." It's an important political statement.
As the new round of peace talks take place in Geneva, some have expressed concern that Russia's withdrawal could embolden Syrian opposition fighters, Anderson believes these groups to have been effectively worn down by Moscow's air campaign. "[The Syrian opposition's] logistics have been severely damaged. They have a lot of problems in Raqqa at the moment...The situation has changed quite dramatically on the ground," he says. "They are in disarray at the moment."
It's also worth noting that Russian airstrikes were operating in service of the Syrian Army on the ground. "Of course the Russian presence has been extremely important - bombardment almost every day for the last five and a half months, tremendous impact - but let's remember those mainly Syrian people on the ground that are carrying this war through," Anderson says.
Comment: The US started a nice little war...and everyone then went home. Well, that's the fantasy part, except for Russia. It is not a nice little war and it has proliferated to many countries like an out of control infection that overwhelms the organism until it dies. US Empire. What it sows for others, it also reaps for itself. It's a mere matter of time.
Wed, 16 Mar 2016 21:51 UTC
ISIS and Al-Qaeda reportedly have a small presence inside the provincial capital; however, they can only be seen fighting against the Yemeni Army's Republican Guard and their popular committees (including the Houthis).
The bodies of dead Houthi and Yemeni Army soldiers have been videotaped by the terrorist group being dragged in the streets of Ta'iz; this has been the extent of their propaganda in the provincial capital.
Comment: It's not surprising that Saudi Arabia has call in some of the forces it has so lavishly funded. The Yemenis are proving a fierce foe, handing the Saudis many unexpected defeats, which is bleeding the oil-dependent Saudi treasury dry.
Moon of Alabama
Wed, 16 Mar 2016 20:49 UTC
A Russian source on the ground explains how this fits into a larger plan:
Russia has managed to turn the balance of power up side down in six months of its intervention in Syria. Regardless the control of a vast strategic land to the regime in Damascus, the Kremlin forces all parties to sit with Assad representative around the Geneva table when these were rejecting the idea for the last four years of war. Russia is pushing for a free election, within the area under the regime and the rebels' control, under the supervision of the United Nations.We will see if the U.S. is really committed to this plan. Will it stop arming al-Qaeda or will it launch another crazy attempt to achieve "regime change" in Syria.
Russia, according to high-ranking sources, informed Washington, Damascus and Tehran of its step of reducing forces in Syria. The Kremlin expects from the United States to exert its promises to impose on regional parties, i.e. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey, to stop all sorts of weapons and financial supply to all rebels without exception. The USA is confident to obtain from its regional allies in the Middle East this commitment at the cost of joining the bombing, with Russia, of all those willing to continue fighting and violate the open-date Cease-fire in Syria. Saudi Arabia and Turkey see no longer Syria as a possibility to implement their old plans and agreed to act accordingly.
Mon, 14 Mar 2016 00:00 UTC
Mon, 14 Mar 2016 00:00 UTC
Jeffrey Goldberg's newly published book-length article on Barack Obama and the Middle East includes a major revelation that brings Secretary of State John Kerry's Syrian diplomacy into sharper focus: it reports that Kerry has sought on several occasions without success over the past several months to get Obama's approval for cruise missile strikes against the Syrian government.
That revelation shows that Kerry's strategy in promoting the Syrian peace negotiations in recent months was based on much heavier pressure on the Assad regime to agree that President Bashar al-Assad must step down than was apparent. It also completes a larger story of Kerry as the primary advocate in the administration of war in Syria ever since he became Secretary of State in early 2013.
Goldberg reports that "on several occasions" Kerry requested that Obama approve missile strikes at "specific regime targets," in order to "send a message" to Assad - and his international allies - to "negotiate peace." Kerry suggested to Obama that the U.S. wouldn't have to acknowledge the attacks publicly, according to Goldberg, because Assad "would surely know the missiles' return address."
Comment: Nothing says "peace" like bombing the hell out of someone, someplace.
Goldberg reports that Kerry had "recently" submitted a "written outline of new steps to bring more pressure on Assad." That is obviously a reference to what Kerry referred to in Senate testimony in February as "significant discussions" within the Obama administration on a "Plan B" to support the opposition that would be more "confrontational." Kerry made no effort in his testimony to hide the fact that he was the chief advocate of such a policy initiative.
Comment: Is Kerry a hard-nosed tool for AIPAC, a fanatic war hawk like McCain, a pathological liar like Hillary or really Obama's alter-ego? Maybe all of the above, but certainly not a diplomat. Real diplomacy and real negotiations can never come from a place of pointless provocations, unprovoked military force, deliberate destruction and reckless massacres. More of the same does not change anything - it creates war without end. But to some, it is perceived as an advantage.
Wed, 16 Mar 2016 18:58 UTC
The bill is the first of its kind to be passed by a European Union member state following developments in the EU parliament last month, where MEPs voted in favor of a bill demanding a complete arms embargo on Saudi Arabia.
The Dutch bill cited a UN Panel of Experts report in January, which found that 119 sorties carried out by the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen had violated international law, while MPs also pointed to Riyadh's continued use of the death penalty as reasons behind the decision.
Following the passing of the bill, the government has now been asked to place a ban on all arms sales to Saudi Arabia, as well as any other exports that could violate human rights.
Human Rights Watch: US support and selling of arms to Saudi Arabia makes them responsible for war crimes in Yemen
Wed, 16 Mar 2016 18:50 UTC
A Saudi-led coalition has been carrying out a military campaign in neighboring Yemen since March 2015, after large swaths of the country fell under the control of the Houthis — a religious-political extremist group hostile to the Saudis.
The Gulf kingdom, together with Egypt, Morocco, Jordan and other Middle Eastern and North African countries, initially launched a series of airstrikes on the Houthi-held areas, as well as imposing an air and naval blockade of the country.
From the beginning, the US provided the coalition with intelligence, airborne fuel tankers and bombs. It is thought that apart from supporting its longtime ally Saudi Arabia, the Obama administration's move was a bargaining chip aimed at appeasing the Saudis over the US-Iran nuclear deal.
Geneva talks: Saudi-backed 'opposition' member calls for Assad's murder, Syrian rep calls for return of Israeli-occupied Golan Heights
Wed, 16 Mar 2016 18:45 UTC
Comment: The Jaish al-Islam cretin Alloush needs no help exposing the Saudi-backed "Syrian opposition" as a bag of bandits and lunatics. (These are the guys that paraded Alawite civilians in cages to use as human shields in Eastern Ghouta...) In stark contrast, Syria's request is eminently reasonable: the return of the Golan Heights from arch-bandit-nation Israel.
A threat made by one of the representatives of the Riyadh-formed Syrian opposition to kill President Bashar Assad violates a number of UN Security Council resolutions, head of Damascus delegation to Geneva talks on the Syrian settlement Bashar Jaafari told Sputnik on Wednesday.
"Yesterday, the person who represents Jaysh al-Islam made an irresponsible statement in which he threatened to kill the president of Syria. He was inciting to commit a terrorist act. This is a violation of the SC resolution 2253, 2299, 2278, 1989, 1924," Jaafari said.
On Tuesday, Mohammed Alloush, a member of Jaysh al-Islam, which is part of the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) opposition group, made a statement in which he threatened to kill the Syrian leader.
Wed, 16 Mar 2016 18:33 UTC
Russia's military campaign in Syria was launched in September 2015 in response to an official request from the legitimate, democratically-elected Syrian government, and it has revealed a lot about the country's foreign policy approach, writes Nikolay Pakhomov, a Russian International Affairs Council expert.
"One can argue about reasons for Russia's actions, but Moscow followed the procedures of international and domestic law. It was logical, then, that the pullout announcement was followed by the news of President Assad thanking Russia for its support... Russia's actions have shown that it is effective to deal with states according to the international law, rather than via slogans in editorial pages," Pakhomov writes in his article for The National Interest.
Summing up the results of Russia's aerial campaign in Syria, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu underscored that more than 9,000 flights have been carried out in the course of the operation.