Grand Bargain Update: As Stakes Rise in Syria So Does the Fake News, by Tom Luongo

Will the US manage a graceful exit from Syria? From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

The hardest part of this job is the predictability of it.  Syria’s ‘civil war’ is nearly over.  As forces gather to begin ridding Idlib province of Al-Qaeda and other ‘rebel’ factions, the posturing and rhetoric become more overblown.

Israel and the U.S. need to make a show of force here to prove to the world they are still in some measure of control over Syria’s fate.  That manifests itself as threats from senior U.S. officials, like Crazy John Bolton, to President Bashar al-Assad to not use chemical weapons again.

The Russians pre-empted this narrative by imploring the U.S. to simply stay out of the way in Idlib and the problem of Al-Qaeda in Syria will be over soon.  It worked well in Dara’a just a few weeks ago.

But, at the same time the Russians moved pro-actively to defuse any potential false flag chemical weapons attack by releasing its proof not just to its press but also to the U.N. and the OPCW – Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

“We have presented concrete facts obtained from various sources both to the UN and to The Hague, where the OPCW (Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons) headquarters is located,” {Russian Foreign Minister Sergei} Lavrov said, while speaking about the risk of a false-flag attack involving the use of chemical weapons in Syria, adding that “these facts are congruent”, RT reported.

Lavrov added that “there is no doubt that such provocations are being prepared”.

He explained that terrorist groups entrenched in Syria’s Northwestern province, including Al-Nusra Front (now known as Tahrir al-Sham), are trying to derail the separation of terrorists from other armed groups “in every possible way”.

But, that was the older news in this story.  Russia has been beating this horse for days now.

To counter this Israel has planted now one, but two stories involving Iran and its ballistic missiles.  One is a Reuters story of dubious quality (aren’t most of them?) which details Iran’s handing ballistic missiles to Shia militia in Iraq, moving them into position to fire on both Tel Aviv and Riyadh in case of any overt military actions against Iran.

The article is filled with quotes from ‘senior officials’ from all sides but no comments from anyone officially.  While I don’t doubt Iran is making moves like this it is the timing of a prominent “Exclusive Report” from Reuters timed with another obvious piece of Israeli disinformation that makes it significant to support the narrative it is necessary to remain in Syria.

The second piece of ‘fake news’ to hit the wires is Israel’s frankly insane claim that Iran is building surface-to-surface ballistic missiles in Syria under the umbrella of Russia’s S-300 and S-400 missile defense systems in Latakia.

The article at Zerohedge tries mightily to keep a straight face in reporting Israel’s claims but it’s obvious this is nothing more than war propaganda designed to prep the ground for further U.S. intervention in Syria and justify stopping the Idlib operation.

Alternate Futures

So, here’s your planned time-line of events from the perspective of the war-mongers.

  1. The Pro-Syria coalition begins its operations in Idlib this week.
  2. Once it starts winning, MI-6 and the White Helmets (both directly and openly implicated by Russian intelligence) stage a false flag chemical weapons attack.
  3. The forty-plus kidnapped Syrian children will show up dead on the scene prompting an emotional outburst by Trump using “Three Strikes and You’re Out” rhetoric against Assad.  Trump will call Assad an “Animal” again in an early morning tweet.
  4. This creates the call for Assad’s head, more U.S. and French chest-thumping to derail the burgeoning political process which Germany is now ready to join, abandoning the U.S. and France.
  5. Diplomatic ties between Russia and the U.S. will officially be cut off.
  6. This prompts a major airstrike from both U.S. naval and Israeli air forces on not just Syrian airbases but also Damascus proper as a show of force to get Assad to step down.  Civilians will be killed this time.

The other time-line of events now goes like this:

  1. The Pro-Syria coalition begins its operations in Idlib this week
  2. The U.S. and Israel thump their chests and continue making threats about ‘stern responses if Assad doesn’t act responsibly.
  3. The operation goes just as smoothly as the one in Dara’a did a few weeks ago as Turkey withdraws all support from Tahrir al-Sham and other groups.
  4. Germany joins the Sochi/Astana peace talks officially, giving the EU’s stamp of approval on the post-war political process
  5. Trump declares victory, saying his previous strikes and military posturing forced Assad to act responsibly this time versus the previous times.
  6. Continued negotiations through back channels between the U.S. and Syria on a U.S. withdrawal plan results in first a pull-out of U.S. forces at the al-Tanf border crossing.
  7. Iran declares it is sending its military advisors home due to the job being finished.
  8. The SDF/U.S. forces east of the Euphrates River have a massive victory over the last ISIS stronghold.
  9. Trump makes good on a campaign promise to kick out ISIS and start bringing the troops home just in time for the mid-term elections.
  10. Assad offers the U.S. rebuilding contracts but no oil.

There Will be Peace

And here’s the reason why the second scenario is the more likely one.  Russia is now openly naming names by calling out MI-6 and British Deep State forces directly.  The cat is coming out of the bag that so much of the, frankly, offensive geopolitical moves of the past two years can be laid directly at the feet of the U.K. maneuvering the U.S. and Europe into bad decisions vis a vis Russia.

From the Skripal poisoning, to the Trump Dossier, to the White Helmets and the chemical weapons attacks, all of these things can be laid directly at the feet of British Intelligence and British monied interests.

Trump is running the same play book here that he used with North Korea.  He has a crappy hand of cards and his instincts tell him Syria is not only a mess but a mess we created for other people’s benefit.

Here’s the second reason why things will not spiral out of control.  Defense Secretary James Mattis.  Mattis has skillfully maneuvered around the neocon crazies in the White House *cough* John Bolton *cough* and his men on the ground in Syria have an excellent working relationship with Russian military men there as well.

The fact that after three years there have been so few actual, verifiable conflicts between the U.S. and Russia in such a crowded airspace as Syria is a testament to the skill and commitment by both sides to not allow this situation escalate to a hot war, no matter how much the spooks want it.

The Art of the Deal is all about leverage.  And when you don’t have any you need to realize it quickly and get out of the situation.  Geopolitically, for a hyper-power like the U.S., that means backing out while saving face.  Trump needs a way out of Syria that preserves the illusion of U.S. primacy in the face of defeat.

His opponents know that allowing him an out here strengthens him to fight another day against the insane level of opposition he’s facing domestically.

Notice that where he has real leverage he’s getting exactly what he wants — a new NAFTA deal with Mexico, concessions on trade from Germany, European countries pulling out of business deals with Iran.

But where he has no leverage, Syria, Afghanistan, Ukraine, Nordstream 2, all he can do is bloviate and allow the U.S. foreign policy machinery to run its ruinous course and pick up the pieces after everything has failed.

So, ignore the “fake news” from Israel and the U.S. State Department.

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