Today in Too Long Don’t Read: It’s hard to tell what’s going on in the world, isn’t it? Whom do you believe when there are competing, totally irreconcilable narratives out there? Are the White Helmets heroes or villains? The mainstream narrative has them as a neutral, unarmed, grassroots (and Oscar-winning) humanitarian group with no political affiliations, nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Independent journalists, notably Vanessa Beeley, Eva Karene Bartlett, Patrick Henningsen, and Khaled Iskef, among a few others, suggest a radically different picture, in which the White Helmets are nothing more than a propaganda front for terrorist groups like the Al Nusra Front. The Guardian, in defense of the heroic narrative, just published a piece by Olivia Solon that turns the propaganda charge against the critics of the White Helmets and refers to them as ‘a network of anti-imperialist activists, conspiracy theorists and trolls with the support of the Russian government.’ I read this article with great interest, wondering whether it would actually back-up its claims and refute the allegations head on. That is what it would do if it were actual journalism. It would give a fair accounting of the allegations and assess the evidence behind them. If it found the evidence lacking, it would say why, it would offer context, additional evidence, show why the supposed facts were wrong, etc. That would be journalism.
On Monday Syrian President Bashar al-Assad described US-backed forces in eastern Syria as ‘traitors’ during a meeting with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin. “When we talk about those referred to as ‘the Kurds’, they are in fact not just Kurds,” Assad said in remarks released through official Syrian government accounts on social media. “All those who work for a foreign country, mainly those under American command… are traitors.” Washington has given substantial military assistance and various supplies to the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), not to mention direct air power and artillery support, which has enabled the SDF to seize a sizable part of eastern Syria, including the cities of Raqqa and Manbij, and many of country’s valuable oil and gas fields. Assad received the Russian delegation headed by Rogozin in Damascus, and said further that the victory over terrorists ‘has created conditions for accelerating the process of restoring the Syrian economy.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.
Authored by Tom Luongo, As she fights for her political life Soon-to-be-ex-Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel will go down swinging against her stiffest political opponents in the European Union, the Poles. *** Merkel and French President Emmanual Macron publicly agreed to back Article 7 proceedings against Poland for refusing to comply with EU immigration quotas and changes to its judicial system. Immigration quotas, I might add, that are becoming harder to defend as the war in Syria is mostly over and the flow of refugees from there has slowed to a trickle. But, those brought in and stranded in camps in Italy and Greece apparently need to go somewhere else. But, no one wants them. And the rest of the EU is trying to bully Poland and the rest of the Visigrad countries – Hungary, Czech Republic and Slovakia – into taking on their ‘fair share.’ The problem with this is that Merkel made this decision unilaterally and foisted it on the rest of the EU.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 19, 2017.
On 17 September 2016 a carefully planned US-led air raid on Jabal al Tharda (Mount Tharda), overlooking Deir Ezzor airport, slaughtered over 100 Syrian soldiers and delivered control of the mountain to DAESH / ISIS. After that surprise attack, the terrorist group held the mountain for almost a year, but did not manage to take the airport or the entire city. US-led forces admitted the attack but claimed it was all a ‘mistake’. However uncontested facts, eye witness accounts and critical circumstances show that was a lie. This article sets out the evidence of this crime, in context of Washington’s historical use of mercenaries for covert actions, linked to the doctrine of ‘plausible deniability’. Syrian eyewitness accounts from Deir Ezzor deepen and confirm this simple fact: the US-led air raid on Syrian forces at Jabal al Tharda on 17 September 2016 was no ‘mistake’ but a well-planned and effective intervention on behalf of the terrorist group ISIS (DAESH in Arabic). After days of careful surveillance a devastating missile attack followed by machine gunning of the remaining Syrian soldiers helped ISIS take control of the strategic mountain, that same day. Mercenary forces – like ISIS and the other jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria – were a staple of US intervention during the early decades of the cold war, deployed in more than 25 conflicts, such as those of the Congo, Angola and Nicaragua. Whatever their claimed aims and ideologies, they allowed for the ‘multiplication’ of US power and were associated with the doctrine of ‘plausible deniability’, where the ‘formal’ denial of the mastermind role in covert operations minimised damage to domestic public opinion and international relations (Voss 2016: 37-40).
Authored by Tom Luongo, Iran is joining the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU). By early next year, February by this account, Iran will join the five founding members of the Union and open the door for Turkey to do so later in 2018. Between this and the end of the war in Syria, it’s not hard to declare the Brzezinski Doctrine of U. S.-led Central Asian chaos as gasping its last breaths. Iran finally joining the EAEU is a response to a number of factors, the most important of which is the continued belligerence by the U. S. Expanded economic sanctions on Iran and the EAEU’s leader Russia has created the need for greater coordination of economic and foreign policy objectives between them. And it is creating the new realities in the region that will reshape the word for the next hundred years. The Nuclear Gambit In the dying days of the Obama administration it looked like the goal was to placate Iran to stop its pivot towards Russia and China. I believe that was the driving force behind Obama’s negotiating the controversial nuclear deal. In effect, Obama tried to trade unfreezing Iran’s hundreds of billions in assets held in Western banks for Iran to ignore our atomization of Syria and the creation of a complete mess there.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.
Mainstream media in 2013: “Conspiracy Theorists!” Mainstream media in 2017: “ISIS Got a Powerful Missile the CIA Bought!” Years late to the party, mainstream media outlets like USA Today, Reuters, and Buzzfeed are just out with “breaking” and “exclusive” stories detailing how a vast arsenal of weapons sent to Syria by the CIA in cooperation with US allies fuelled the rapid growth of ISIS. Buzzfeed’s story entitled, Blowback: ISIS Got A Powerful Missile The CIA Secretly Bought In Bulgaria, begins by referencing “a new report on how ISIS built its arsenal highlights how the US purchased munitions, intended for Syrian rebels, that ended up in the hands of the terrorist group.” The original study that Buzzfeed and other media are referencing comes from a UK-based independent weapons research organization called Conflict Armament Research (CAR) which has had a team of weapons and munitions experts on the ground in the Middle East for years examining arms and equipment recovered from ISIS and other terrorist groups in Iraq and Syria. Using serial numbers, crate shipping markings, and all available forensics data, the CAR experts began finding that as early as 2013 to 2014 much of the Islamic State’s advanced weapons systems as well as small arms were clearly sourced to the United States and the West. ‘Supplies of materiel into the Syrian conflict from foreign parties – notably the United States and Saudi Arabia – have indirectly allowed IS to obtain substantial quantities of anti-armor ammunition,’ states the CAR report. ‘These weapons include anti-tank guided weapons and several varieties of rocket with tandem warheads, which are designed to defeat modern reactive armor.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 15, 2017.
On Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry reported an “Incident” had taken place involving a USAF F-22 over Syria which according to the Russians “actively prevented the Russian pair of Su-25 attack aircraft from carrying out a combat mission to destroy the Daesh stronghold in the suburbs of the city of Mayadin in the airspace over the western bank of the Euphrates River on November 23” with the The F-22 firing off heat flares and released brake shields with “permanent maneuvering, imitating an air battle” to which we said that in the apparent eagerness by the US to re-engage Russia, it is likely that more such near-incidents will take place. Sure enough, on Thursday morning, a Pentagon official confirmed that a pair of U. S. Air Force F-22 Raptor stealth fighters fired flares to chase two Russian Su-25 fighter jets out of restricted airspace over Syria on Wednesday. U. S. OFFICIAL SAYS U. S. F-22 JETS FIRED WARNING FLARES ON WEDNESDAY AFTER RUSSIAN JETS ENTERED AGREED UPON “DECONFLICTION ZONE” OVER SYRIA
This post was published at Zero Hedge by Tyler Durden , Dec 14, 2017.
Via GEFIRA, For some time now Syria and Iraq have been a place where interests of many players are clashing. The region is being devastated by civil war or a war by proxy, fought by a number of participants, where the borderline between friend and foe is sharp or vague as the case may be. The military sorties, airstrikes and other activities are taking place on a day-to-day basis. Conflicting pieces of information that can be gleaned from a variety of sources may reflect both the factual status or the propaganda of the powers that be, hidden behind the media outlets. It is not easy to see the forest for the trees, to filter valuable data in this informational noise. Still, our readers deserve to be informed. With all this in mind, the Gefira team has made an effort to present the current situation in Syria and Iraq in an accessible graphic and textual way according to the best of our ability.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 14, 2017.
Authored by A Z Mohamed via The Gatestone Institute, Saudi influence on American administrations, and relationships between senior officials in both countries, is behind Washington’s ignoring Riyadh’s “well-established… involvement in supporting terrorism and terrorist groups.” – Report by the Institute for Gulf Affairs (IGA), released on June 1. The IGA report, covering the three-year period since then and including extremely serious charges against both Saudi Arabia and previous U. S. administration and security officials, indicates the urgency with which the current administration needs to treat the issue and act upon it. A new investigative report reveals that hundreds of Saudi and Kuwaiti nationals residing in the United States — some with dual citizenship, and most students subsisting on government scholarships — have joined ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria and Iraq during the past three years.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 13, 2017.
Authored by Andrew Korybko via Oriental Review, Russia has every right to withdraw most of its Aerospace Forces from Syria following Daesh’s defeat, with one of the most immediate consequences of this move being that it will prompt President Assad into a ‘political compromise’ with the ‘opposition’. President Putin’s surprise visit to Syria saw the Russian leader announce the large-scale withdrawal of his country’s Aerospace Forces from the Arab Republic, signifying that Moscow truly believes that Daesh is defeated and that its original mission in Syria has been accomplished. It needs to be reminded that Russia’s 2015 anti-terrorist intervention was initiated by the need to destroy this international terrorist threat, although other more locally active terrorist organizations were also targeted for elimination in the course of events as well.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 12, 2017.
Is the US really a superower or just the biggest collection of stupidity on the planet? Syria – ISIS Is Defeated – The U. S. Is Next In Line Washington has already lost the Syrian war once. Now it is about to lose it a second time. A few days ago the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, declared a ‘complete victory’ in Syria: ‘Two hours ago, the (Russian) defense minister reported to me that the operations on the eastern and western banks of the Euphrates have been completed with the total rout of the terrorists.’ The Iranian commander of the forces which support the Syrian and Iraqi governments sent a note to the U. S. to let Washington know that any remaining U. S. forces in Syria will be fought down: ‘The commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corp Brigadier General Haj Qassem Soleimani sent a verbal letter, via Russia, to the head of the US forces commander in Syria, advising him to pull out all US forces to the last soldier ‘or the doors of hell will open up.’’ ‘My message to the US military command: when the battle against ISIS (the Islamic State group) will end, no American soldier will be tolerated in Syria. I advise you to leave by your own will or you will be forced to it.’
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.
Russian President warns that should the terrorists try to ‘rear their heads’ in Syria again, he will strike them as ‘they have never seen before.’ RT International reports… Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered the withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria. He gave the command during a surprise visit to Khmeimim Airbase in Syria’s Latakia province on Monday morning. The Russian president was met by his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu at the airbase, which houses Russian forces assisting Syria in the battle against Islamic State terrorists (IS, formerly ISIS).
A new report from the Institute for Science and International Security has found that 49 countries violated sanctions on North Korea to varying degrees between March 2014 and September 2017. 13 governments including Cuba, Egypt, Iran and Syria were involved in military violations, which as Statista’s Martin Armstrong notes, includes either receiving military training from North Korea or being involved in the import and export of military equipment.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 10, 2017.
Over the past four years, the UK government has poured over 200 million of tax payer funds into a failed proxy military intervention and illegal shadow state-building project in Syria. This week, the penny finally dropped… Going Underground host Afshin Rattansi speaks to guest Vanessa Beeley from 21WIRE about our recent story which forced the government and mainstream media to take evasive action, closing ranks in order to cover-up a wider scandal involving UK Foreign Office funding for the White Helmets and Nusra Front terrorist affiliates in Syria.
Boris Johnson preached to the UK State choir, in the Foreign Office, on the 7th December. In Churchillian tones, Johnson announced ‘when in the course of a prolonged, ambitious struggle, you eventually record a success, it is essential, with due humility and caution, to celebrate that success – so I draw your attention, once again, to the defeat of DAESH in Raqqa and the victory of the 74 member coalition, in which the UK played a proud part’. The sheer sanctimonious humbug contained within that first convoluted utterance should be enough to take our breath away. However, Johnson continued speaking for 36 minutes, turning verbal somersaults of every shade and hue of hypocrisy. This speech comes swift on the heels of the BBC Panorama limping expose of the UK FCO funding of terrorism in Syria that barely scratched the surface of the magnitude of the UK campaign to destablize a sovereign nation and foment insurgency against a ‘regime’ and its allies, that has thwarted Global Britain’s geopolitical ambitions at every turn. BBC Panorama’s ‘Jihadis You Pay For’ was nothing more than a media sleight of hand designed to conceal the bulk of the funding iceberg beneath the decorative tip of a superficial investigation that revealed nothing that had not already been unmasked by independent analysts, investigative journalists, the Syrian Government and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the last 7 years. The BBC, as always, made a ‘molehill out of a mountain’ in order to protect Global Britain’s criminal foreign policy in Syria.
A Russian interceptor was scrambled to stop a “rogue” US fighter jet from actively interfering with an anti-terrorist operation, the Russian Defense Ministry said, describing the latest close encounter between the US and Russian air force. It also accused the US of provoking close encounters with Russian jets in Syria. According to Russia Today, a US F-22 fighter was preventing two Russian Su-25 strike aircraft from bombing an ISIS base to the west of the Euphrates river on Nov. 23, according to the ministry. The ministry’s spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov described the episode as yet another example of the US air force attempting to prevent Russian forces from carrying out strikes against Islamic State. “An American F-22 fighter actively prevented the Russian pair of Su-25 attack aircraft from carrying out a combat mission to destroy the Daesh stronghold in the suburbs of the city of Mayadin in the airspace over the western bank of the Euphrates River on November 23. The F-22 aircraft fired off heat flares and released brake shields with permanent maneuvering, imitating an air battle,” Konashenkov said on Saturday. “The F-22 launched decoy flares and used airbrakes while constantly maneuvering [near the Russian strike jets], imitating an air fight,’ Konashenkov added that the US jet backed down only after a Russian Su-35S fighter jet joined the two Su-25s. The major general went on to say that ‘most close-midair encounters between Russian and US jets in the area around the Euphrates River have been linked to the attempts of US aircraft to get in the way [of the Russian warplanes] striking against Islamic State terrorists.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 9, 2017.
In a decision bound to have far-reaching effects, President Trump announced that the United States would be recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Furthermore, he also stated his intentions of placing an American embassy in the city. The Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has already weighed in on this, and said that such a move by President Trump would not be tolerated. It is difficult to address such an issue in a non-didactic manner that blends theological implications, but there is more at stake here than this being a theological debate, or simply a conflict between Christianity, Muslims, or Judaism, or an ‘end of days’ issue. Politics is statecraft and stagecraft, and this decision has infuriated the Iranians and will potentially provoke them into activity: the invasion of Iran has been desired for three administrations. Obama intended to overthrow Assad in Syria for many reasons: to ingratiate himself to the House of Saud (as the Saudi Arabians hate Assad), to control Northwestern Syria and run a natural gas pipeline through it from Qatar to Europe, and to secure a foothold with which to invade Iran. The Russians have had other plans: Gazprom was the target regarding the Qatar natural gas pipeline, and the Russians reacted by bombing ISIS (an Obama creation) and securing Syria for Assad.
This post was published at shtfplan on December 7th, 2017.
In a historic moment, ignored by much of Western media, Russian military officials have announced the complete and utter defeat of ISIS in Syria. The Russian General Staff issued a statement Wednesday declaring that all territories previously under terrorist control were liberated in a final push by the Syrian Army this week, and with the support of Russian forces. ‘All terrorist units of ISIS on Syrian soil have been destroyed, and the territory is liberated,’ Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Valery Gerasimov said in comments translated and published by RT. “Therefore, as of today, there’s no territory controlled by ISIS in Syria,’ he added. The announcement came during an annual briefing for foreign military attaches, and incidentally on the same day President Trump gave an extremely controversial televised address wherein he gave official US recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, thus it could mean that the demise of one problem could give rise to another in an increasingly volatile and explosive Middle East environment. *** The rapid collapse of ISIS – which once controlled an area the size of Britain stretching from the edges of Aleppo to Mosul in Iraq, and down to Ramadi and Fallujah – began in earnest in early September when the Syrian Army breached ISIS lines around Deir Ezzor city, after which the city was fully liberated by early November. As ISIS retreated in the Deir Ezzor countryside, it lost its previous Syrian capital of Raqqa in mid-October to the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which also struck a deal to allow the quick exit of ISIS terrorists to other parts of Syria and region, according to a report by the BBC.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 6, 2017.
US forces plan to stay in Syria “as long as they need to’ support local partners and to ensure that terrorists will not return, a Pentagon official told AFP on Tuesday. The announcement comes as the Islamic State has ceased to be a reality, and as the Syrian Army is on the cusp of final victory over ISIS in remaining pockets of eastern Syria. ‘We are going to maintain our commitment on the ground as long as we need to, to support our partners and prevent the return of terrorist groups,’ Pentagon spokesman Eric Pahon said. ‘To ensure an enduring defeat of ISIS, the coalition must ensure it cannot regenerate, reclaim lost ground, or plot external attacks.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on Dec 5, 2017.