Category Archives: Foreign Policy

The Great Game Comes to Syria, by Conn Hallinan

An alliance between Russia, Turkey, and Iran may emerge from the Syrian war. Such an alliance would be inimical to US interests, but the US would have only itself to blame. From Conn Hallinan at counterpunch.org:

Photo by Freedom House | CC BY 2.0

An unusual triple alliance is emerging from the Syrian war, one that could alter the balance of power in the Middle East, unhinge the NATO alliance, and complicate the Trump administration’s designs on Iran. It might also lead to yet another double cross of one of the region’s largest ethnic groups, the Kurds.

However, the “troika alliance”—Turkey, Russia and Iran—consists of three countries that don’t much like one another, have different goals, and whose policies are driven by a combination of geo-global goals and internal politics.  In short, “fragile and complicated” doesn’t even begin to describe it.

How the triad might be affected by the joint U.S., French and British attack on Syria is unclear, but in the long run the alliance will likely survive the uptick of hostilities.

But common ground was what came out of the April 4 meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Meeting in Ankara, the parties pledged to support the “territorial integrity” of Syria, find a diplomatic end to the war, and to begin a reconstruction of a Syria devastated by seven years of war. While Russia and Turkey explicitly backed the UN-sponsored talks in Geneva, Iran was quiet on that issue, preferring a regional solution without “foreign plans.”

“Common ground,” however, doesn’t mean the members of the “troika” are on the same page.

Turkey’s interests are both internal and external. The Turkish Army is currently conducting two military operations in northern Syria, Olive Branch and Euphrates Shield, aimed at driving the mainly Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) out of land that borders Turkey. But those operations are also deeply entwined with Turkish politics.

Erdogan’s internal support has been eroded by a number of factors:  exhaustion with the ongoing state of emergency imposed following the 2016 attempted coup, a shaky economy, and a precipitous fall in the value of the Turkish pound. Rather than waiting for 2019, Erdogan called for snap elections this past week and beating up on the Kurds is always popular with right-wing Turkish nationalists. Erdogan needs all the votes he can get to imlement his newly minted executive presidency that will give him virtually one-man rule.

To continue reading: The Great Game Comes to Syria

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What Will Weapons Inspectors Find in Syria…And Does it Matter? by Ron Paul

The US will bomb when and where it wants, regardless of whether there is or is not conclusive evidence that “justifies” the bombing. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Inspectors from the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have finally arrived in Douma, Syria, to assess whether a gas attack took place earlier this month. It has taken a week for the inspectors to begin their work, as charges were thrown back and forth about who was causing the delay.

Proponents of the US and UK position that Assad used gas in Douma have argued that the Syrian and Russian governments are preventing the OPCW inspectors from doing their work. That, they claim, is all the evidence needed to demonstrate that Assad and Putin have something to hide. But it seems strange that if Syria and Russia wanted to prevent an OPCW inspection of the alleged sites they would have been the ones to request the inspection in the first place.

The dispute was solved just days ago, as the OPCW Director-General released a statement explaining that the delay was due to UN security office concerns for the safety of the inspectors.

We are told that even after the OPCW inspectors collect samples from the alleged attack sites, it will take weeks to determine whether there was any gas or other chemicals released. That means there is very little chance President Trump had “slam dunk” evidence that Assad used gas in Douma earlier this month when he decided to launch a military attack on Syria. To date, the US has presented no evidence of who was responsible or even whether an attack took place at all. Even right up to the US missile strike, Defense Secretary Mattis said he was still looking for evidence.

In a Tweet just days ago, Rep. Thomas Massie expressed frustration that in a briefing to Congress last week the Director of National Intelligence, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense “provided zero real evidence” that Assad carried out the attack. Either they have it and won’t share it with Congress, he wrote, or they have nothing. Either way, he added, it’s not good.

We should share Rep. Massie’s concerns.

To continue reading: What Will Weapons Inspectors Find in Syria…And Does it Matter?

MSM Is Frantically Attacking Dissenting Syria Narratives, And It Looks Really Bad, by Caitlin Johnstone

The Bureau of Propaganda known as the mainstream media is perturbed that unauthorized people are asking unauthorized questions about the US’s latest Syrian misadventure. From Caitlin Johnstone at medium.com:

I write a lot about how, in a political environment that is saturated in disinformation and propaganda, it’s important to ignore people’s words and watch their actions instead to get a clear picture of what’s really happening. You could not ask for a better illustration of this than the recent behavior of the mass media with regard to Syria.

The always excellent Moon of Alabama put out a piece yesterday detailing the immense deluge of attack editorials disguised as information that have been churned out recently about anyone who questions the establishment Syria narrative, including a single day in which no less than seven smear pieces were issued by prominent publications. Seven. In one day.

If you look at the words within these smear pieces, you will gather that there has been a sudden disturbing emergence of evil bloggers, tweeters and activists who are hell bent on deceiving you into falling in love with Bashar al-Assad and pledging allegiance to the Russian flag. If you look at what these outlets are actually doing, however, you see a very different picture indeed: an aggressive, spurious campaign to inoculate the English-speaking world against the influence of anyone who disagrees with yet another war against yet another Middle Eastern country.

And people are noticing. It’s getting too blatantly obvious, like a stranger coming up to you and talking about climate change while openly masturbating; what he is doing would eclipse interest in whatever he is saying. The frenetic publication of hit pieces against anyone who fails to fall in line with the establishment Syria narrative is fast becoming the real story here.

In the span of a few days the UK government, using its media arm coordinated an attack on multiple anti-war activists, Journalists and Academics, including myself @partisangirl, @VanessaBeeley, @Ian56789, @sahouraxo, @Tim_Hayward_ and @PiersRobinson1. This IS A #FakeNewsStorm.

— @Partisangirl

To continue reading: MSM Is Frantically Attacking Dissenting Syria Narratives, And It Looks Really Bad

Korean Summit: It’s Not About Us, by Justin Raimondo

The real diplomatic story on the Korean Peninsula is this week’s summit between the North and South Korean leaders, not the summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Yesterday they told us that President Trump was intent on war – he was about to invade Korea¸ unleash “fire and fury,” and millions would die.

Today many of these very same people are telling us that President Trump has been “snookered” by the wily Kim Jong-un, who doesn’t really mean all the pre-summit concessions he’s already made quite publicly. Trump, they say, is about to give away the farm to the North Koreans without getting anything in return.

The only constant note emitted by the Trump-hating chattering classes is their obsessive focus on That Man in the White House. Yet this development actually has little to do with Trump, at least in its origins: indeed, it’s not about us. The Korean summit came out of the election victory of President Moon Jai-in, whose signature campaign issue was reintroduction of the late lamented “Sunshine” policy of rapprochement with the North.

Moon and Kim will meet this week in a preliminary summit leading up to the supposedly bigger event, the Trump-Kim super-summit. Or so the conventional wisdom would have it: after all, isn’t everything in the world really about us?

Well, no, but you’ll have a hard time telling the pundits and policy wonks that. They don’t realize that the real summit is taking place this week in Korea, as the two leaders form a united front against Washington’s War Party – hoping to enlist Trump on their side.

As for the President, he’s optimistic but rightly says “we’ll see if it works out,” even as he lists the concessions already made by the North, which include:

  • A commitment to complete denuclearization
  • A pledge to end nuclear testing
  • A pledge to end ICBM tests.
  • A statement dropping their longtime demand for the withdrawal of US troops from South Korea.

Significantly, the office of President Moon and the North Koreans have jointly declared their intention to formally end the Korean war, presumably by signing a peace treaty, replacing the current armistice.

Prediction: Trump will make a big show of accepting it, and implicitly taking credit for it. But, hey, the Koreans don’t care who gets the credit, nor do they care about the vagaries of American politics except as they affect the ability of the Korean nation to reunite and recover from their national trauma.

To continue reading: Korean Summit: It’s Not About Us

Lies and Deception in the Failed US Strike on Syria, by Federico Pieraccini

There are all sorts of holes in the US government’s official account of its most recent Syria bombing. From Federico Pieraccini at strategic-culture.org:

At 4am on April 14, the United States, France and the United Kingdom executed a strike on Syria. The Syrian Free Press reported:

US Navy warships in the Red Sea and Air Force B-1B bombers and F-15 and F-16 aircraft rained dozens of ship- and air-launched cruise missiles down on the Syrian capital of Damascus, an airbase outside the city, a so-called chemical weapons storage facility near Homs, and an equipment-storage facility and command post, also near Homs. B1-Bs are typically armed with JASSM cruise missiles, which have a 450 kg warhead and a range of 370 kms. US Navy warships launched Tomahawks, which have 450 kg warheads and an operational range of between 1,300 and 2,500 kms. The British Royal Air Force’s contingent for the assault consisted of four Tornado GR4 ground-attack aircraft armed with the Storm Shadow long-range air-to-ground missile, which the UK’s Defense Ministry said targeted ‘chemical weapons sites’ in Homs. These weapons have a range of 400 kms. Finally, France sent its Aquitaine frigate, armed with SCALP naval land-attack cruise missiles (SCALP is the French military’s name for the Storm Shadow), as well as several Dassault Rafale fighters, also typically armed with SCALP or Apache cruise missiles. According to the Russian defense ministry, the B-1Bs also fired GBU-38 guided air bombs. Undoubtedly weary of the prospect of having their aircraft shot down after Israel lost one of its F-16s over Syria in February, the Western powers presumably launched their weapons from well outside the range of Syrian air defenses, with all the targets located just 70-90 kms from the Mediterranean Sea, and having to fly through Lebanon first.

Recapping the information on the strike, the US and its allies used the following assets:

● 2 destroyers (USS Laboon, USS Higgins)

● 1 US cruiser (USS Monterey)

● 1 French frigate (Georges Leygues)

● 5 Rafale jets

● 4 Mirage 2000-5F

● 4 British Tornado fighter-bombers

● Virginia-class submarine USS John Warner

● 2 US B-1B bombers

Their ordnance brought to bear consisted of the following:

● The cruiser Monterey launched 30 Tomahawk missiles

● The destroyer Higgins 23 Tomahawks

● The destroyer Laboon 7 Tomahawks

● The submarine John Warner 6 Tomahawks

● 2 B-1 bombers 21 JASSM missiles

● 4 British Tornado GR4 fighter bombers 16 Storm-shadow missiles.

● The French Languedoc fired 3 MdCN land-attack missiles.

The US Pentagon reports the strike group targeted:

– 76 missiles at the Barzah research center in Damascus:

(Source)

– 22 missiles at an undefined “chemical” structure:

(Source)

– 7 missiles against an undefined “chemical bunker”:

(Source)

To continue reading: Lies and Deception in the Failed US Strike on Syria

Useful Idiots? New Yorker Magazine Fails Litmus Test for Media Impartiality on Syrian War, by Robert Bridge

Mainstream media has failed every impartiality test in the book for years. The New Yorker has joined this inglorious roster. From Robert Bridge at strategic-culture.org:

When America’s top thinking man’s journal fails to consider at least one possible alternative as to who may have been responsible for the latest alleged chemical attack in Syria, aside from the ‘Assad regime,’ then we may conclude that the entire mainstream media complex is receiving its marching orders from above.

In an April 14 article in the erstwhile prestigious New Yorker magazine (“Russia’s ‘Madman’ Routine in Syria May Have Averted Direct Confrontation with the U.S., For Now”), author Joshua Yaffa singlehandedly proves there is absolutely no straying from the government-approved narrative that Syrian President Bashar Assad is guilty of carrying out an alleged chemical attack in Douma on April 7. He also manages to pull Russia into the elaborate conspiracy theory, which is now accepted as bona-fide truth in the Western world.

“Moscow welcomes Assad’s defeat of the rebels, and has little concern for how he achieves it, but the use of chemical weapons is an embarrassment and source of unwelcome consequences for the Kremlin,” Yaffa writes with breathtaking arrogance, refusing to entertain the much more likely scenario that the rebel terrorists were responsible for the purported attack. “One unresolved question is whether Russia … got assurances from Syria that it would refrain from using chemical weapons in the future.”

For any person with even a limited amount of critical thinking skills, this cannot be considered objective and impartial journalism in any sense of the word. Yet it is a prime example of what Western readers are being force-fed on a daily basis: Assad is guilty of carrying out a chemical attack on innocent civilians, nothing else to look at here, please move along [Thus far, there has been one notable exception to this rule, which has not been picked up by the US media, and never will be. Robert Fisk, a veteran British reporter of the Middle East, traveled to Douma for a first-hand account of the alleged attack for The Independent. After a lengthy fact-finding trip, which included interviews with numerous witnesses and medical staff, Fisk revealed what so many people had suspected: there was no chemical attack. The event was entirely staged by the notorious White Helmets ‘rescue group’].

To continue reading: Useful Idiots? New Yorker Magazine Fails Litmus Test for Media Impartiality on Syrian War

Did the West Just Lose World War III by Forfeit? by James George Jatras

The declare-victory-and-go-home option is looking better and better in Syria. From James George Jatras at strategic-culture.org:

In the fall of the year 1480, at a point not far from Moscow, two armies faced each other on the opposite banks of the Ugra River.

On the one side were the forces of the Grand Duchy of Moscow, whose ruler, Grand Prince Ivan III (known as “the Great” and the “gatherer of the Russian lands”), had recently rejected further payment of tribute to the Great Horde.

On the other were the forces of Grand Khan Ahmed bin Küchük, who had come to lay waste to Moscow and instruct the impudent Prince Ivan to mend his ways.

For weeks the two assembled hosts glared at one another, each wary of crossing the water and becoming vulnerable to attack by the other. In the end, as though heeding the same inaudible signal, both withdrew and hastily returned home.

Thus ended more than two centuries of the Tatar-Mongol yoke upon the land of the Rus’.

Was this event, which came to be known as “the great standing on the Ugra River,” a model of what happened in Syria last week?

Almost immediately upon reports of the staged chemical attack in Douma on April 7, speculation began as to the likely response from the west – which in reality meant from the United States, in turn meaning from President Donald J. Trump. Would Trump, who had repeatedly spoken harshly of his predecessors’ destructive and pointless misadventures in the Middle East, and who just days earlier had signaled his determination to withdraw the several thousand Americans (illegally) stationed in Syria, see through the obvious deception?

Or, whether or not he really believed the patently untrue accusations of Syrian (and Russian) culpability, would Trump take punitive action against Syria? And if so, would it be a demonstrative pinprick of the sort inflicted almost exactly a year earlier in punishment for an obvious false flag chemical attack in Idlib? Or would we see something more “robust” (a word much beloved of laptop bombardiers in Washington) aimed at teaching a lesson to both Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his ally, Prince Ivan III’s obstreperous heir Russian President Vladimir Putin?

To continue reading: Did the West Just Lose World War III by Forfeit?