Drawing a stark contrast between himself and his counterpart in the US, Russian President Vladimir Putin made a surprise appearance at Khmeimim Airbase in Syria – which has traditionally been used by the Russian air force – on Monday morning, where he ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria, now that the ISIS insurgency that once controlled roughly one-third of the country’s land area has been effectively dismantled.
The Russian president was met by his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu at the airbase. Russian forces fighting with the Syrian Army during the country’s civil war were stationed at the base. Putin ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops to begin immediately, according to Russia Today.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 11, 2017.
It’s been quite a week geopolitically. From Angela Merkel admitting she can’t form a coalition and calling for new elections to Syrian peace talks opening up in Astana. From the poppy fields of Afghanistan to the Syrian oil fields east of the Euphrates River there is a hint of fresh air in U. S. foreign policy emanating from the Oval Office. We’re a couple of days out from Thanksgiving here in the States but a quick perusal of the headlines since then has me thinking we’ve turned a corner in Syria. On Tuesday Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad held a meeting with their respective military commanders to prepare for the peace talks in Sochi. Putin and Trump held an hour-long phone call that concentrated on Syria while touching on a lot of other topics. But, we can see the outcome of that phone call in today’s headline that Trump has pledged to Turkey that we would stop arming Kurdish forces in eastern Syria.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 26, 2017.
Authored by Tom Luongo, I’m not a terribly religious man. But, I’d like to believe there is a special corner in Hell reserved for those that fomented the Syrian Civil War. From its beginnings in Libya with gun-funneling through the U. S. embassy in Benghazi to yesterday’s meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, this entire affair will be remembered as one of the most cynical and abusive periods of history. *** The Syrian ‘Civil War’ was meant to be the crowning achievement of U. S./Israeli/Saudi policy in the Middle East, the apotheosis of neoconservatism. Had it succeeded it would have transformed the world into a living hell governed by the likes of Hillary Clinton, George Soros, Angela Merkel and the U. S./U. K. banking cartel.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 23, 2017.
One day before meeting with the leaders of Iran and Turkey in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russian President Vladimir Putin held a surprise meeting with his Syrian counterpart, Bashar al-Assad, kicking off a diplomatic drive this week to outline the terms of an end to the Middle Eastern country’s bloody civil war. The two leaders discussed the political process in Syria, with the Russian leader saying that the fight against terrorism in the crisis-stricken country is close to completion. Perhaps even more notably, Putin said he would speak by phone with President Donald Trump later Tuesday. Assad’s visit, which wasn’t publicly announced until the following day, echoed a similar trip to Russia that he made in 2015 shortly after Putin launched his air and ground campaign in Syria. The campaign turned the tide in the war in favor of the embattled Syrian president, whom western nations have long sought to see removed.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Nov 21, 2017.
Carl von Clausewitz (1780 – 1831)  meant that war is the continuation of politics by other means. Instead in this modern episode, politics acts as the continuation of war: At the same rhythm in which the Syrian army and Russian forces, as well other allies, progress its irreversible military victory, the losing parties in the conflict seemingly attempt to compensate for their defeat by means of salacious political manoeuvres. The strategy of deposing the secular republic presided by Mr Bashar al-Assad, via financing pro-sharia fundamentalists that for years terrorized the Syrian population, did not work. The shift in the plan appears to consist in a multiple international effort to discredit the winners, politically and ad-hominem. Specifically, this has been pursued via allegations of ‘chemical attacks’, no matter how preposterous, or evidence-deprived, these claims may be. The most recent episode is a report of the ‘UN Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM)’  recently discussed at the Security Council. There are multiple reasons why to question the work of the JIM, as well of the ‘UN-Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic’ (COI),  now centred on the alleged incidents in Khan Shaykhun of April 2017. These reasons have to do with logical and methodological contradictions showed in the reports it self; some others are referred to political motivations and bias exercised by those commissions; and finally, related to serious flaws pertinent to the primary source for the allegations, principally the West-founded propaganda organization ‘White Helmets’.
Sharmine Narwani American Conservative Western-backed militants are in retreat, Bashar al-Assad remains president, Hezbollah has stretched its wings regionally, Israeli power is in decline, and Iran is on the rise. Not a pretty result for Washington’s multi-billion dollar investment in the Syrian conflict, especially if it was intended to change the map of the region to favor U. S. interests. The Trump administration is therefore moving to hit its regional adversaries on alternative, non-military fronts – mainly, employing the sanctions tool that can cripple economies, besiege communities, and stir up public discontent. The first step was to decertify the nuclear agreement struck between Iran and the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1), which would open up a pathway to further U. S. sanctions against Iran. The second step is to resuscitate the Hezbollah ‘threat’ and isolate the organization using legal maneuvers and financial sanctions – what one pro-U. S. Lebanese Central Bank official calls ‘the new tools of imperialism.’ The U. S. listed Hezbollah as a ‘terrorist organization’ 20 years ago this month. Most other states, as well as the United Nations Security Council, have not.
Plainly, Syria’s success – notwithstanding the caution of President Bashar al-Assad in saying that signs of success are not success itself – in resisting, against the odds, all attempts to fell the state suggest that a tipping point in the geopolitics of the region has occurred. We have written before how the Syria outcome dwarfs that of Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah, significant though the result of that war was, too. Both events taken together have brought America’s unipolar moment in the Middle East to an end (though not globally, since the U. S. still retains its necklace of military bases across the region). The successes have corroded badly, the reputation of the Gulf States and have discredited fired-up Sunni jihadism as a ‘go-to’ political tool for Saudi Arabia and its Western backers. But, aside from the geopolitics, the Syria outcome has created a physical connectivity and contiguity that has not existed for some years: the border between Iraq and Iran is open; the border between Syria and Iraq is opening; and the border between Lebanon and Syria, too, is open. This constitutes a critical mass both of land, resources and population of real weight.
21st Century Wire says… Political and media advisor to the Syrian President, Bashar al Assad, Dr Bouthain Shaaban has thrown down the gauntlet to the US proxies inside Syria. In a statement to Al Manar TV, Dr Shaaban made it perfectly clear that Syria would not tolerate any challenge to the full and final cleansing of Syrian territory from the US Coalition-funded terrorist brigades and co-opted factions. ‘Whether it’s the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), or Daesh or any illegitimate foreign force in the country… we will fight and work against them so our land is freed completely from any aggressor,’ ~ Dr Shaaban At the same time, reports are coming in that over 1000 militants have surrendered and defected to the Syrian Arab Army as they see their US coalition-shored-up defences crumbling across Syria. The following report is from Press TV: ‘The political and media adviser to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad says government troops, backed by fighters from allied popular defense groups, will fight any force, including the US-backed militia, to fully liberate the Arab country plagued with terrorism for over six years.
President Putin, saying ‘I am confident that through our joint efforts, we will achieve victory and restore peace and stability to the Syrian territories.’ DAMASCUS,(ST)- H. E. President Bashar Al-Assadreceived a letter from his Russian Counterpart, H. E. President Vladimir Putin; the letter was conveyed by the Defence Minister of Russia, Sergey Shoigu. In the letter President Putin congratulated President Assad on the breaking of the siege imposed on Deir Azzour for more than 3 years by daesh (ISIS) terrorists. The plans as to continue the joint struggle, fight and cooperation between the Syrian Arab Army and Russian forces as to liberation of all of Deir Azzur from terrorism was discussed during the meeting.
An international war crimes prosecutor has resigned from her position on the U. N.’s Investigative Panel into human rights abuses in Syria over her frustration regarding the perceived impotence of the commission and the lack of ability to prosecute war criminals. Essentially, Carla Del Ponte is resigning because she and her panel have not been able to overcome Russian objections to framing Bashar al-Assad for crimes committed by America’s terrorists. While admitting that Western-backed terrorists are made up ‘mostly’ of extremists and that they have been guilty of war crimes, Del Ponte also peddled the disproven narrative that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and that it is engaged in ‘terrible crimes against humanity.’ In her remarks announcing her resignation, Del Ponte, who is 70 years old, also admitted her own bias against the Syrian government since the beginning of the crisis.
By ending the ‘secret’ CIA program to arm and train Syrian rebels attempting to topple Bashar al-Assad in Syria, the Trump administration has accepted defeat in Syria, according to the Century Foundation, a prominent New York-based think tank. The Century Foundation believes this signals an end to America’s commitment to achieving regime change in Syria and claims Washington’s attempt to topple Assad was half-hearted to begin with. That being said, the Century Foundation also concedes that the program was doomed from the outset, stating: ‘The problem with the program, which was reportedly running the CIA nearly a billion dollars a year, was not that it was under resourced or ‘insufficient in scale.’ The problem was that its logic was wrong and out of sync with the basic dynamics of the insurgency.’ [emphasis added] Whatever the program had going for it, its ludicrous nature came to light after the conflict took full swing and opposition groups gathered momentum, as the think tank explained:
After a quiet few hours contemplating the National Scout Jamboree, President Trump just unleashed ‘hell’ once again at Jeff Bezos, The Washington Post, and Amazon.com. *** President Trump took his first shot at what appears to be referencing an article about his decision to end a CIA program that backed Syrian rebels. The Post reported last week that Trump shuttered a CIA program to support Syrian rebels in the fight against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a major victory for Russia. Russian officials had reportedly seen the program as an attack on the country’s interests…
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 24, 2017.
In what may be one of the most significant foreign policy decisions of his first year in office, Trump is shutting down the CIA’s covert program to arm rebels fighting the Syrian government. This would constitute a monumental shift in terms of US priorities in Syria which throughout most of the 6-year long war have focused on removing Bashar al-Assad. The Washington Post reports: Officials said Trump made the decision to scrap the CIA program nearly a month ago, after an Oval Office meeting with CIA Director Mike Pompeo and national security adviser H. R. McMaster ahead of a July 7 meeting in Germany with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The move is consistent with signals coming out of the White House over the past months, as well as in keeping with Trump’s early campaign promises that he would seek to wind down the war in Syria by making ISIS the only objective, and not the removal of Assad. There have been additional hints at willingness to work closer with Russia in a strategic anti-terror partnership in Syria. Secretary of State Tillerson’s said in an April interview with ABC News, as well several weeks ago, that Assad’s fate would be up for the Syrian people to decide, adding that: In that regard, we are hopeful that we can work with Russia and use their influence to achieve areas of stabilization throughout Syria and create the conditions for a political process through Geneva in which we can engage all of the parties on the way forward, and it is through that political process that we believe the Syrian people will lawfully be able to decide the fate of Bashar al-Assad.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 19, 2017.
Chances for progress in drawing down the Syrian war have improved after the latest round of U. N.-led negotiations, with a main opposition delegation dropping the demand for immediate regime change, Russia’s ambassador in Geneva, Alexei Borodavkin, told the press on Saturday. The seventh round of talks, concluded in Geneva on Friday, saw a significant change in approach from the primary delegation for the Syrian opposition, the High Negotiations Committee, a Saudi-backed outfit based in Riyadh. ‘The essence of this correction is that during this round the opposition never once demanded the immediate resignation of President Bashar al-Assad and the legitimate Syrian government,’ Borodavkin said. There are currently three delegations that represent the opposition in talks, complicating the task of UN mediator Steffan de Mistura in coordinating the negotiations, and preventing direct discussion between the Syrian regime and the fragmented opposition. In addition to the HNC, two other groups known as the Cairo and Moscow platforms represent different parts of the opposition.
Crucial to the Western narrative of the Syrian conflict is the assertion that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a brutal dictator who has taken to killing his own people over the course of Syria’s six-year-long conflict. This allegation has been the crux of the ‘humanitarian’ justification for foreign military intervention in Syria that would seek to depose Assad’s government, a justification frequently used by the U. S. and its allies prior to an invasion or the toppling of an extant regime. While this narrative has been pervasive in media coverage of the Syrian conflict, it is now being debunked by the very Syrian refugees that the media purported were fleeing Assad in the first place. According to a recent statement from Andrej Mahecic, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, an estimated 440,000 displaced Syrians who remained in the country have returned to their homes since the year began. In addition, 31,000 refugees in neighboring countries also returned to Syria in the first half of the year, with 260,000 having returned to Syria from other nations since 2015. UN Refugee Agency: Almost 500,000 Syrian refugees have returned home. Find out why: #UNHCR #standwithrefugees — UNA-USA San Diego (@UNASanDiego) July 1, 2017
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 5, 2017.
And so, three months after the US State Department famously flip-flopped, when first at the end of March Rex Tillerson said at a news conference that ‘the longer term status of President Assad will be decided by the Syrian people” adding that “our priority is no longer to sit and focus on getting Assad out” only to follow one week later with Tillerson’s warning to Russia that “coalition steps are underway to remove Assad” which in turn segued into the first US attack on Syrian soil with the launch of no less than 59 cruise missiles, the US has done it again and according to Foreign Policy, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has once again told the U. N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres that the fate of Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad now lies in the hands of Russia, and that the Trump administration’s priority is limited to defeating the Islamic State. The striking reversal was announced during a private State Department meeting last week, according to three diplomatic sources cited by FP. And, as FP adds, “the remarks offer the latest stop on a bumpy U. S. policy ride that has left international observers with a case of diplomatic whiplash as they try to figure out whether the Trump administration will insist that Assad step down from power. Nearly three months ago, Tillerson had insisted that Assad would have to leave office because of his alleged use of chemical weapons.”
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jul 3, 2017.
As if on cue, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons – putative watchdog of world government use of the noxious agents in its very name – announced Thursday sarin gas, or a sarin-like substance, had indeed caused the deaths of nearly 100 people in a supposed chemical ‘attack’ in Khan Sheikhoun in Syria in early April, which the U. S. and Western allies insist had been carried out against innocent civilians at the behest of the Assad regime. Except, gaping holes and unavoidable discrepancies paint the report. In fact, the entire incident constitutes a monstrous propaganda campaign to enjoin support for ousting President Bashar al-Assad – an objective dear to the United States – no matter the repercussions. According to the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission – which refused to assign responsibility for the attack until further collaboration with the United Nations – sarin or a sarin-like substance killed and injured scores of civilians in an ‘alleged’ attack on April 4 in the Idlib Province town. Superficially, this confirms an account by the Trump administration, which used the ‘attack’ to justify launching 59 retaliatory Tomahawk missiles into the sovereign nation – incidentally, also killing and injuring scores of innocents – in the first act of direct military aggression by the U. S. since a coalition of Western-backed forces entered the fray.
The Syrian and Russian governments have responded to allegations by White House officials made earlier this week that the Syrian regime was planning to carry out a chemical weapons attack, with the Russians threatening retaliation to any ‘preemptive’ American strike. ‘We will react with dignity, in proportion to the real situation that may take place,’ Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said at a press conference on Wednesday. ‘I expect that our partners in the region – American, European – will also have an open and comprehensible approach, aimed at de-escalation through normalization of the humanitarian situation,’ Lavrov added, perhaps charitably. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters he was ‘not aware of any information’ about a chemical attack, adding that ‘such threats to Syria’s legitimate leaders are unacceptable.’ The claims initially emanated from the White House on Monday, when officials said they had intelligence that indicated the Syrians were preparing for a chemical weapons attack and warned that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would ‘pay a heavy price’ if his military did so.
Authored by Aaron David Miler and Richard Sokolsky via The Strategic Culture Foundation, Pursuing an ambitious mission against all three adversaries in Syria is dangerous, imprudent and unnecessary The idea du jour circulating inside the Trump administration and among terrorism experts and Syria watchers alike is that ISIS cannot be destroyed in Syria unless Bashar al-Assad is removed from power and Iran’s presence and influence are drastically curtailed. And in a perfect world, this indeed would be the best possible outcome to prevent ISIS and other jihadi groups, including Al Qaeda, from ensconcing themselves there. But needless to say, the Middle East isn’t a perfect world. U. S. retaliation against another chemical-weapons attacks, as the White House threatened late Monday, would be both necessary and justified. (Assad and his military would ‘pay a heavy price,’ the statementread.) But pursuing an ambitious mission against Iran, Assad and the Russians in Syria is dangerous, imprudent and unnecessary to protect vital American security interests. Here are five compelling reasons why.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Jun 30, 2017.
Well, we can all rest easy – the chemical weapons attack mainstream media predicted Assad would carry out against his own people has been successfully thwarted by mainstream media, which credited mainstream media’s original pre-crisis reporting for successfully averting the crisis. Per Reuters: ‘U. S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Wednesday that the Syrian government of President Bashar al-Assad appeared so far to have heeded a warning this week from Washington not to carry out a chemical weapons attack.’ Phew. That was close. Of course, it was the feckless and secretive Trump administration nurtured the story, having given birth to the latest dish of propaganda for mainstream media to spoon feed the somnambulant masses, and – despite the ongoing Fake News Battle Royale between the two petulant entities – the synergistic non-story played out like a flaccid tabloid cherry bomb to the wicked delight of anyone weary for the days when news was actually news. Antics like these – baseless prognostication Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would gas his own people with deadly, noxious chemicals – have grown stale.