Friday 24th of November 2017

delicate diplomacy...

US-SYRIA-RUSSIA

a tense war of words, with some bleeding...

Moscow and Washington were yesterday engaged in a tense war of words over the conflict in Syria, trading barbed accusations over each other's role in arming opposing sides.

In an indication of the breakdown in international diplomatic efforts to resolve the crisis, the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, hit back at accusations by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, that his government was "patently" lying about its weapons shipments to Syria and escalating the situation by supplying attack helicopters to the regime.

Speaking during a visit to Tehran, Mr Lavrov claimed that the US was responsible for an increase in bloodshed, accusing Washington of supplying weapons to the Syrian opposition.

Consensus that the situation on the ground constitutes a full-blown civil war is mounting, with the new French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, yesterday joining the UN peacekeeping chief as defining it as such. Syrian state television yesterday said it had "cleansed" the embattled Latakia town of Al Haffa of "terrorist groups", with troops said to be rounding up scores of men and raiding houses.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/moscow-returns-fire-by-accusing-us-of-arming-syrias-rebel-forces-7848860.html

She put a little spin on it...

Copters in Syria May Not Be New, U.S. Officials Say By , and

WASHINGTON — When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accused Russia on Tuesday of shipping attack helicopters to Syria that would “escalate the conflict quite dramatically,” it was the Obama administration’s sharpest criticism yet of Russia’s support for the Syrian government.

What Mrs. Clinton did not say, however, was whether the aircraft were new shipments or, as administration officials say is more likely, helicopters that Syria had sent to Russia a few months ago for routine repairs and refurbishing, and which were now about to be returned.

“She put a little spin on it to put the Russians in a difficult position,” said one senior Defense Department official.

Mrs. Clinton’s claim about the helicopters, administration officials said, is part of a calculated effort to raise the pressure on Russia to abandon President Bashar al-Assad, its main ally in the Middle East. Russia has so far stuck by Mr. Assad’s government, worried that if he were ousted, Moscow would lose its influence in the region.

In response to Mrs. Clinton’s allegations, the Russian foreign minister, Sergey V. Lavrov, accused the United States of hypocrisy on Wednesday, saying it had supplied weapons that could be used against demonstrators in other countries in the region. Mr. Lavrov, during a visit to Iran, repeated Russia’s claim that it is not supplying Damascus with any weapons that could be used in a civil war.

“We are not providing Syria or any other place with things which can be used in struggle with peaceful demonstrators, unlike the United States, which regularly supplies such equipment to this region,” Mr. Lavrov said. He singled out a recent delivery to “one of the Persian Gulf states” — perhaps a reference to Bahrain. “But for some reason the Americans consider this completely normal.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/14/world/middleeast/copters-in-syria-may-...      

the crusader indignation used in Iraq...

The Sunni-Shia faultline has growing and frightening salience. Iran is Shia. So is the majority in Iraq. So is the Lebanon-based militant movement Hezbollah. By contrast, most of the West's traditional Arab allies are Sunni: Turkey, Egypt, Jordan and arms-supplying Gulf states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia. But, to complicate matters, al-Qa'ida is Sunni, too, so the West is nervous that those who replace Assad might turn out to be fundamentalist jihadists. There is a very real danger that the violence in Syria could turn to all-out sectarian war. And that could spread through the Arab world.

Which of these threads is easiest to unpick? Despite what is widely said about the intransigence of Russia's support for Assad, the most malleable element could be Moscow. The Kremlin is determined not to lose Syria as the centre of its Middle Eastern sphere of influence. It has $20bn in investments there. It sells 10 per cent of its arms exports to Syria, which gives Russia its only naval base on the Mediterranean.

Moscow, which feels it was tricked into abandoning Gaddafi in Libya, is determined not to make the same mistake over Assad. The West has not been very skilful here. The harsh words of Hillary Clinton last week were typical. She announced that Russia had "dramatically" escalated the crisis by sending attack helicopters to Syria – but then had to admit that it was only sending parts for existing aircraft. The West's rhetoric has reverted to the Crusader indignation used in Iraq rather than the careful language about self-determination in Libya. It has put Russian backs up.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/paul-vallely-the-russians-will-help-us-in-syria-only-if-we-help-them-7856470.html

the CIA selecting the blood bath rebels...

 

C.I.A. Said to Aid in Steering Arms to Syrian Opposition


By

WASHINGTON — A small number of C.I.A. officers are operating secretly in southern Turkey, helping allies decide which Syrian opposition fighters across the border will receive arms to fight the Syrian government, according to American officials and Arab intelligence officers.

The weapons, including automatic rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, ammunition and some antitank weapons, are being funneled mostly across the Turkish border by way of a shadowy network of intermediaries including Syria’s Muslim Brotherhood and paid for by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, the officials said.

The C.I.A. officers have been in southern Turkey for several weeks, in part to help keep weapons out of the hands of fighters allied with Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups, one senior American official said. The Obama administration has said it is not providing arms to the rebels, but it has also acknowledged that Syria’s neighbors would do so.

The clandestine intelligence-gathering effort is the most detailed known instance of the limited American support for the military campaign against the Syrian government. It is also part of Washington’s attempt to increase the pressure on President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, who has recently escalated his government’s deadly crackdown on civilians and the militias battling his rule. With Russia blocking more aggressive steps against the Assad government, the United States and its allies have instead turned to diplomacy and aiding allied efforts to arm the rebels to force Mr. Assad from power.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/21/world/middleeast/cia-said-to-aid-in-st...    

see toon at top... I suppose the CIA thinks it's clever to pick and choose but it's most likely that the rebels would end up sharing the weapons anyway... 

 

Ad Domari...

Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat: 'They broke my hands to stop me drawing Assad' - video

Ali Farzat founded in 2001 Syria's first satirical weekly, Ad Domari. In August 2011, he was attacked by Bashar al-Assad's militia who broke his hands. The incident prompted international condemnation of the Assad regime. Farzat was awarded the European parliament Sakharov prize for freedom of thought

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/video/2012/jun/21/drawing-syria-revolution-ali-farzat-video

more massacres...

The Sana state news agency cited sources as saying the victims had been abducted earlier on Friday from Darat Izza, a village in Aleppo province.

Activists said 26 government supporters had been shot dead by rebels.

The joint UN-Arab League envoy on Syria Kofi Annan said it was "time for countries of influence to raise the level of pressure" over Syria.

Mr Annan, who has seen his six-point plan to end the conflict unravelled by violence, said the time to act was now - the process could not be open-ended.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-18551693

paying the rebels...

Saudi officials are preparing to pay the salaries of the Free Syria Army as a means of encouraging mass defections from the military and increasing pressure on the Assad regime, the Guardian has learned.

The move, which has been discussed between Riyadh and senior officials in the US and Arab world, is believed to be gaining momentum as a recent flush of weapons sent to rebel forces by Saudi Arabia and Qatar starts to make an impact on battlefields in Syria.

Officials in the Saudi capital embraced the idea when it was put to them by Arab officials in May, according to sources in three Arab states, around the same time that weapons started to flow across the southern Turkish border into the hands of Free Syria Army leaders.

Turkey has also allowed the establishment of a command centre in Istanbul which is co-ordinating supply lines in consultation with FSA leaders inside Syria. The centre is believed to be staffed by up to 22 people, most of them Syrian nationals.

 

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/jun/22/saudi-arabia-syria-rebel-army

out of control...

His story was as revealing as it was frightening. Damascus was about to be attacked. But the fighters were out of control. There were drug addicts among them. "Some of our people are on drugs," the visitor said. "They will take anyone out. We can't guarantee what some of these men will do. If they went into Malki [a mixed, middle-class area of central Damascus], we couldn't protect any of the people who live there. We are against the Salafists who are fighting – there are good Syrians, Druze and Ishmaeilis [Alawites] who are with us. But if we capture Damascus, we don't know how to run a small town, let alone a country."

It was a true civil war story. There were bad guys among the good guys and good guys among the bad. But sectarianism is biting into the Syrian revolution. At the end of last week, one Syrian told me that "they are bayoneting people in the villages around Damascus". Women, they say, have been raped outside the city of Homs – one estimate puts the number of victims as high as 200 – and the rapists are on both sides. The Syrian in Beirut knew all this and gave his visitor the following advice.

"Organise neighbourhood committees, well-dressed men who must be clearly identified and who must protect everyone, Christians, Druze, Sunnis, Alawites, everyone."

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-sectarianism-bites-into-syrias-rebels-7964251.html

destruction of history...

Congratulations to Cameron, Hague , Obama et al for supporting the rebels who are financed by those well known democratic, feminist , respect to all religions Governments of Saudi Arabia and Qatar. If ever it was true that oil is the motivating force behind by our foreign policy decisions this is the classic case as otherwise there is no explanation as to why we would want to overthrow a secular reasonably modern government with a bunch of people who want to introduce strict Islamic principles , get rid of minorities ( especially Christians if in doubt check what is happening in Egypt ) and put women back to the 19th century . Assad might not be perfect but he and his Government are far better than the possible alternative. Under his rule the antiquities of the country were protected ,do you think they wil be with the new lot ( see what is happening in Mali where the extreme islamists are destroying the antiquities of Timbuktu). Why do you think Al-Madiq castle and Saladin's Citadel were shelled by the Syrian army because the rebels were using them as strong points.

http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-syrias-ancient-treasures-pulverised-8007768.html

siding with rebels...

Britain will expand its support to the Syrian political opposition fighting President Bashar Assad with an extra £5 million of non-lethal practical assistance, the Foreign Secretary William Hague said today.

William Hague said the financial assistance would help protect civilians from "some of the worst of the violence".

He said: "So now in the absence of diplomatic progress, the United Kingdom will do much more. We will expand our support to the Syrian people and the Syrian political opposition with an extra £5 million in non-lethal practical assistance.

"This will help protect unarmed opposition groups, human rights activists, and civilians from some of the worst of the violence.

"This is in addition to, and separate from, our humanitarian assistance."

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/uk-gives-5m-in-aid-to-syria-rebels-8030663.html

on the road to damascus...

 

Proclamation Against Syria and Israel (Isaiah 17)...

17 The burden against Damascus.

Behold, Damascus is taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap.
2  The cities of Aroer are forsaken: they shall be for flocks, which shall lie down, and none shall make them afraid.
3  The fortress also shall cease from Ephraim, and the kingdom from Damascus, and the remnant of Syria; They shall be as the glory of the children of Israel, says the Lord of hosts.
4  And it shall come to pass, that the glory of Jacob shall be made thin, and the fatness of his flesh shall wax lean.
5  And it shall be as when the harvestman gathereth the standing corn, yea, it shall be as one gleaneth ears In the Valley of Rephaim.
6  Yet there shall be left therein gleanings, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries at the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost branches of a fruitful tree, saith the Lord, the God of Israel.
7   In that day shall a man look unto his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel.
etcetera, etcetera.... 
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Meanwhile at chapter 18, isaiah is giving the US the shits:... Lucky we can stop the rot... but can we? 
http://www.isaiah18.com/
This of course leaves me completely flabbergasted... I was there, living my little life in the corner of a small pebble in an unfathomable relative universe, worrying about a global warming that will kick in massively (way after I'm six foot under and feeding worms) — and this "revelation" falls upon me like a ton of bricks...
Okay fellows, can some of you nuts let off this ancient crap? Can you for a moment come back to the real present where we don't have to still fight these ancient silly battles? Can we place that evolved monkey cap on our head instead of this fallen child of god illusion mad-hat that distorts our perfectly reasonable non-purposed lovely existence?
Brother...

 

can you smell the gas from the UMIS?...

The same fantasy specialists who didn’t warn us about 9/11 but insisted that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction in 2003: “unnamed military intelligence sources”. Henceforth to be acronymed as UMIS.

....

Yes, the bigger the lie, the better. Certainly we journos have done our duty in disseminating this bunkum. And Bashar – whose forces have committed quite enough iniquities – is about to be accused of another crime which he has not yet committed and which his father never did commit. Yup, chemical weapons are bad news, folks. That’s why the US supplied Saddam with the components for them, along with Germany (of course).

That’s why, when Saddam first used gas on Halabja, the UMIS told CIA officers to blame Iran. And yes, Bashar probably does have some chemicals in rusting bins somewhere in Syria. Madame Clinton has been worrying that they may “fall into the wrong hands” – as if they are presently “in the right hands”. But the Russians have told Bashar not to use them. Would he piss off his only superpower ally?

And by the way, which was the first army to use gas in the Middle East? Saddam? Nope. The Brits, of course, under General Allenby, against the Turks in Sinai in 1917. And that’s the truth. 

http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/syria-bashar-alassad-and-the-truth-about-chemical-weapons-and-who-may-or-may-not-have-them-8393539.html

misreading the slop...

 

The cat’s out of the bag. During Libya‘s rebellion, the White House OK’ed the arming of rebels fighting the Gaddafi regime to Arab partners in the Gulf, and rumors have abounded ever since over the identity of some of the recipients of weapons sent by U.S. allies. Now, a story in the Wednesday’s New York Timesclaims to have confirmed rumors that some of the arms supplied by Qatar and the United Arab Emirates ended up in the hands of Libyan Salafi groups. There’s no evidence these arms were actually used in the attack on the Benghazi consulate on Sept. 11, but the Times report will fuel speculation. It may also help explain why the Obama Administration has been dancing around the Benghazi incident as if were a grenade with the pin pulled.

It seems perfectly possible to me that some weapons sent from the Gulf could have found their way to Ansar al-Sharia, the group currently blamed for the Benghazi attack. That creates a problem for the White House. If such a link surfaces, the Obama Administration may try to blame Gulf Allies. Those countries, in turn, can be expected to say the White House ignored warnings the weapons might fall into the wrong hands.

http://world.time.com/2012/12/07/if-you-thought-benghazi-was-bad-watch-syria/

Just to place things, like selling arms to rebels, in perspective...

Rimbaud was a passionate and tortured individual who found his poetic voice early. By the age of 17 he had already written his accomplished poemLe Bateau ivre. In 1870, at the outbreak of the Franco-Prussian war, he ran away from home and lived for almost a year as a vagabond.

 

In 1871 he met fellow poet Paul Verlaine and they embarked on a tempestuous love affair. (He had previously sent poems to Verlaine.) During their time together they made two trips to London and it was here that Rimbaud began his famous prose poem A Season in Hell. However, Rimbaud and Verlaine quarrelled frequently and during a visit to Brussels Verlaine shot Rimbaud in the wrist. Verlaine subsequently went to prison for two years.

 

Incredibly, by the age of 20, Rimbaud abandoned poetry and spent the rest of his life as a nomad in Europe and Africa. He worked as a trader, explorer and even as an arms dealer.

In 1891 he contracted cancer in his right leg and died following an amputation.

On his deathbed, Rimbaud agreed to talk to a couple of priests but it is not known for certain whether he actually reverted back to Catholicism.

Rimbaud's legacy was enormous. He was one of the main early exponents of vers libre and was a major symbolist poet. He was also an influence upon the surrealist poet André Breton and upon American songwriters Jim Morrison and Bob Dylan.

http://www.poetsgraves.co.uk/rimbaud.htm

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Mercenaries, arms dealers, soldiers of fortune, poets, have existed throughout recorded history... Even the Knights Templars were soldiers of fortune who had little altruism in their daggers, but a "legendary" faith (by this I mean bordering on ficticious and fallacious) and a coveted grand prize in their sight (Jerusalem)... These days, that states like the US fart above their democratic ideals is in the same stupid shaff bag... What happened in Benghazi was not a diplomatic mistake, just a loopy strategy that forgot two main rules in such situations...: Never trust anyone — and always be armed (or protected ) to the teeth when in politically unsettled places, especially when there had been a "conflict" going on, in which you supported one side against another but in fact there was more than ten factions fighting together and each others... If you could make sense out of the mess that was there, then you'd be able to solve the most mysterious parts of the Rusky revolution...

 

 

supporting one or the other devil for profit...

 

As for Russia, ruler Vladimir Putin has offered no public hint that he has any inclination to reverse his support for Mr. Assad. It’s not just that the Kremlin has interests to protect in Syria; Mr. Putin’s priority is to prevent what he views as another U.S.-sponsored regime change. Even were he to decide to cooperate with Mr. Obama, it’s doubtful that Mr. Putin could induce the Assad clique and its principal backer, Iran, to give up what the dictator himself has called a fight to the death.

A slim chance for a political settlement may still exist but only if the United States and its allies take measures that decisively, and relatively quickly, shift the momentum of the war. Only when the Assad army is defeated and the regime crumbles will a deal be possible. Supplying arms to the rebels, as Mr. Obama is said to be considering, would be a step in that direction but probably not a big enough one. Without stronger U.S. measures, the most likely outcome is the fragmentation of Syria into warring fiefdoms, with some turf controlled by Iran and some by al-Qaeda.

What’s needed is what the opposition has repeatedly requested: a no-fly zone in parts of Syria, or other measures — such as attacks with missiles and stealth bombers — to ground the Syrian air force. Yes, such measures would have to be taken without a United Nations resolution, and they would upset Mr. Putin. But if Mr. Obama continues to pursue a policy of awaiting U.N. consensus and deferring to Russia, the result will be more crossings of his red line — and grave damage to U.S. interests.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/us-policy-on-syria-still-lacks-coherence/2013/05/01/dbda6cfc-b27b-11e2-bbf2-a6f9e9d79e19_print.html

 

Grave damage to the US interests?...

At this stage, it's a battle of will between Iran "that we don't like" supported by Russia (which annoys us senseless) and Al Qaeda that "we hate so much we killed its leader Bin laden" but who is supported by our friends the Saudis "that we like"(because they have oil we want)... Decision, decision... Meanwhile, the innocent blood is spilled by the gallons...

So Far, one has to say that Assad and his despotic regime is the legitimate government of Syria, recognised by the United Nations,  whether we like it or not...  And up to about three years ago, we ingratiated ourselves to... and with...

 

See toon at top...

 

the key will be a political settlement...

Would U.S. intervention--no-fly zones, arms, aid to the opposition forces--make things better? It depends on what one means by better. It would certainly intensify the civil war. It would also make the regime of Bashar Assad more desperate. Perhaps Assad has already used chemical weapons; with his back against the wall, he might use them on a larger scale. As for external instability, Landis points out that if U.S. intervention tipped the balance against the Alawites, they might flee Syria into Lebanon, destabilizing that country for decades. Again, this pattern is not unprecedented. Large numbers on the losing side have fled wars in the Middle East, from Palestinians in 1948 to Iraq's Sunnis in the past decade.

If the objective is actually to reduce the atrocities and minimize potential instability, the key will be a political settlement that gives each side an assurance that it has a place in the new Syria. That was never achieved in Iraq, which is why, despite U.S. troops and arms and influence, the situation turned into a violent free-for-all. If some kind of political pact can be reached, there's hope for Syria. If it cannot, U.S. assistance to the rebels or even direct military intervention won't change much: Syria will follow the pattern of Lebanon and Iraq--a long, bloody civil war. And America will be in the middle of it.

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,2142505,00.html#ixzz2S8RjSda2

blood borders...

 

As Syria continues its descent into an anarchic civil war and Iraq is increasingly ravaged by sectarian infighting, a terrifying vision of the future of the Middle East is increasingly coming into view. In his 2008 book "Israel and the Clash of Civilizations", the veteran British journalist, Jonathan Cook, cites a 1982 policy paper by former Israeli foreign ministry official Oded Yinon which seems to presciently forecast the monumental events gripping the region today:

"The total disintegration of Lebanon into five regional localized governments is the precedent for the entire Arab world… Iraq can be divided on regional and sectarian lines just like Syria in the Ottoman era. There will be three states in the three major cities."

The Sykes-Picot Agreement - which divided the Ottoman Empire after World War I and created the Middle East as we know it - is today violently breaking apart in front of the eyes of the world. The countries of Syria and Iraq; formerly unified Arab states formed after the defeat of their former Ottoman rulers, exist today only in name. In their place what appears most likely to come into existence - after the bloodshed subsides - are small, ethnically and religiously homogenous statelets: weak and easily manipulated, where their progenitors at their peaks were robustly independent powers.

Such states, divided upon sectarian lines, would be politically pliable, isolated and enfeebled, and thus utterly incapable of offering a meaningful defence against foreign interventionism in the region. Given the implications for the Middle East, where overt foreign aggression has been a consistent theme for decades, there is reason to believe that this state of affairs has been consciously engineered.

The end of Iraq

Away from the focus of major news media - numbed as it has become to stories of unconscionable Iraqi suffering - Iraq this past April recorded its deadliest month in five years, with over 700 killed in sectarian violence throughout the country. Describing the aftermath of a deadly car bombing in his neighbourhood, school teacher Ibrahim Ali gave voice to the dread and foreboding felt by many Iraqis for their country:

"We asked the students to remain inside the classrooms because we were concerned about their safety… [they] were panicking and some of them started to cry…. We have been expecting this violence against Shiites due to the rising sectarian tension in the country."

The unacknowledged truth behind the past decade of bloodletting in Iraq is that the country itself effectively ceased to exist after the 2003 US invasion. The northern province of Iraqi Kurdistan is today an independent country in all but name and is increasingly moving towards formal recognition of this fact - while Sunni and Shia Iraqis have come to see themselves more as distinct entities than as part of a cohesive nation. Iraqi Sunnis, a once-empowered minority, have taken up arms in recent months against the Shia-dominated government of Nouri al-Maliki and have staked their terms in a manner which acknowledges the irredeemable nature of a continued Iraqi state. In the words of Sunni cleric Mohammad Taha at a rally in Samarra:

"Al-Maliki has brought the country to the abyss... this leaves us with two options: Either civil war or the formation of our own autonomous region."

There is evidence to suggest that this state of affairs was not an unintended consequence of the 2003 invasion. The American architects of the Iraq War - while couching their justifications for war in the rhetoric of liberation - had for years previously openly acknowledged and predicted that an invasion would result in the death of Iraq as a cohesive state. In a follow-up to their 1996 policy paper"A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm" - a report published by leading neoconservative intellectuals, including Richard Perle, Douglas Feith and David Wurmser, which advocated a radical reshaping of the Middle East using American military power - the report's authors acknowledged the inevitability of Iraq's demise post-invasion. 

Predicting that after violently deposing the country's government: "[Iraq]… would be ripped apart by the politics of warlords, thieves, clans, sects and key families" - the same individuals would nonetheless become the leading advocates of just such an invasion. The post-invasion decisions by the occupying authority to dissolve the army, patronise sectarian militias and death squads and destroy Iraq's civilian infrastructure viewed in this light are far more comprehensible. The chaos which has enveloped the country since 2003 has not been an unintended consequence, but rather the one which was predicted years earlier by the war's architects and then perfectly executed. Today the partition of Iraq is mapped out by American think-tanks seeking put a final end to that country and divide it into its contingent ethnic and religious parts.

In this light it is worth contrasting the sectarian powder-keg Iraq is described as today with Iraqi attitudes during the early days of the American invasion. A 2004 New York Times article entitled "Sunni-Shiite Cooperation Grows, Worrying US Officials" described the broad-based support provided by Shia Iraqis to their Sunni co-citizens under siege by American forces in the country. In the words of one Iraqi regarding the supposed religious bifurcation in the country:

"These [sectarianisms] were artificial distinctions. The people in Fallujah are starving. They are Iraqis and they need our help."

The need to counter and undermine such episodes of inter-religious national unity in order to achieve the objectives of the invasion was recognised early by US military officials. As stated by Lt General Ricardo Sanchez:

"The danger is we believe there is a linkage that may be occurring at the very lowest levels between the Sunni and Shia… we have to work very hard to ensure that it remains at the tactical level."

The handiwork of such efforts is evident today in the horrific charnel house into which the country has descended today. Where Iraqis once saw themselves as citizens of a contiguous nation, the unconscionable events of the past decade have given primacy to religious identity over all else. Iraq's once vibrant and influential Christian community has been nearly driven to extinction, while Sunnis and Shias are locked in a seemingly intractable sectarian conflict which appears ready to rip the country into its final pieces. In the words of one Iraqi man, who initially welcomed the invasion with its promises of liberation only to watch in horror as his own family was torn apart by American bombs and bullets:

"I wish the Americans had never come. They ruined our country. They planted divisions… They made us cry for the days of Saddam Hussein."

The dissolution of Syria

When Syrians, swept up in the once-transcendent spirit of the Arab Spring uprisings, undertook their own revolution against the corrupt, myopic regime of Bashar al-Assad, few had any idea it would lead to the dystopian reality of massacres and foreign predations the country faces today. The revolution - a legitimate, democratic uprising against a despotic government - provided a prize opportunity for the country's neighbours to violently exploit Syrian unrest to further their own venal interests.

The tragic result of this situation is the vicious proxy war playing out today in the streets of Aleppo, Homs, Deir ez-Zor and countless other cities and towns throughout the country. A once-proud nation - long recognised as the cultural and historical jewel of the Levant - has been reduced to a grim battlefield between the West and its Gulf allies on one hand and the Syrian government and its allies in Iran, Russia and Hezbollah on the other. The Israeli airstrikes perpetrated with impunity onto Damascus this past week are yet another illustrative example of the depths of turmoil to which Syria has sunk.

As analysts openly discuss the "Somaliasation" of Syria and growing factions within the country call for military intervention to break the state up into small ethnic and religious enclaves - literally, "into pieces" - the prospect of a united Syria grows more remote by the day. Again, just as in Iraq, the benefactors of Syria's dismemberment will be the external actors which seek hegemony in the region and have never hidden their desire to see the country collapse.

As early as 2011, a particularly frank prescription for the future of Syria was given by Lawrence Solomon, who called for a radical redrawing of the country's borders to facilitate Western interests:

"There is a better end game… Syria's dismemberment into constituent parts. US and NATO countries… should confine Alawites to a state in the central Western part of the country where they are predominant… the West has no cause to favour appeasement… over the many gains to be had through a dismemberment of Syria."

As risible as Solomon's suggestions seemed at the time, the unfathomable reality is that today just such a situation is occurring - as analysts dispassionately discuss the possibility of an independent Alawite state in Lattakia and the fragmenting of the rest of the country into separate portions for Kurds, Sunnis, Shias, and the many other ethnic and religious groups which once made up the diverse tapestry of modern Syria.

In the background of this all echoes the policy plan for Syria illustrated in "A Clean Break", whose influential authors counselled open confrontation with Syrian interests throughout the region and explicitly called for menacing the country's territorial integrity itself. 

Oded Yinon's prescription for dissolving Syria and Iraq - which at one time appeared arrogantly grandiose - today seems almost inevitable. The legitimate democratic aspirations of the Syrian people have been overtly hijacked by a foreign agenda which long predated their own revolution - and which increasingly looks ready to dissolve the country they sought to liberate.

Towards a new balance of power

In a 2007 piece for The New Yorker, the Pulitzer-Prize winning American investigative journalist, Seymour Hersh, reported on what White House insiders called "the Redirection" of US policy in the region. Seeking to reassert influence in the aftermath of the disastrous invasion of Iraq, the US deliberately became party to the fomentation of sectarian conflict throughout the Middle East.

In words that today seem utterly prescient, Hersh wrote:

"The US has taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to al-Qaeda."

The extremist groups fighting today in Syria - many of whom openly state their allegiance to al-Qaeda and who have terrorised not just the Syrian government, but also the secular activists who were the progenitors of the revolution itself - are the fruit of this explicitly sectarian policy.

Furthermore, as Hersh noted this policy has: "brought Saudi Arabia and Israel into a new strategic embrace", a claim widely viewed as impossible at the time but which over the intervening years has become increasingly acknowledged by both sides. Indeed, official recognition of this new alliance appears to be increasingly imminent, as reports emerged this week of a US-brokered defence pact between Israel, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the UAE to guarantee mutual interests in the region.

These changes represent no less than a sea change in Middle Eastern politics, as the old order experiences its final violent convulsions and makes way for a new Western-backed alliance to exert its hegemony over the region. In this new environment, once-cherished concepts of self-determination and independence will be suffocated under the financial, political and military might of an unprecedented new axis of control exerted from the centers of power in Washington, Tel Aviv and Riyadh.

The nations of Syria and Iraq today are little more than political fictions, crushed underfoot by foreign military and political intervention and devoured from the inside by politically-fomented sectarian hatreds. The same terrifying dynamic increasingly threatens to envelop Lebanon as well, as the former Arab states continue their fragmentation into innumerable weak and ethnically-homogenous political enclaves.

For the people of the region, the scenes playing out on the streets around them and being broadcast to the world at large represent nothing less than the end of Sykes-Picot borders and the dissolution of the Middle East as they once knew it. As war continues to spread from the borders of Iraq and Syria and into the countries beyond, the endgame for the regions upheaval - when it finally, mercifully, comes - looks increasingly as though it will entail the establishment of many of the "Blood Borders" which Oded Yinon and his ideological peers have long sought to create.

http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/05/2013567200437919.html

The Sykes–Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France,[1] with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire duringWorld War I. The negotiation of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916.[2] The agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.[3]

The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of future British and French control or influence.[4] The terms were negotiated by the French diplomatFrançois Georges-Picot and British Sir Mark Sykes. The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party to the Sykes–Picot agreement, and when, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the agreement, 'the British were embarrassed, the Arabs dismayed and the Turks delighted.'[5]

read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sykes–Picot_Agreement

 

 

arabs fighting the persians...

By sending help to Syria's warring factions, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are struggling to gain influence in the Middle East. The conflict between Sunnis and Shiites has become a proxy war over strategic regional goals.

At the moment, several conflicts are being fought simultaneously in Syria. The civil war began more than two years ago as a power struggle between the government and opposition forces. But it didn't take long for other states to get into the mix, turning the internal fight into a regional and international struggle for influence.

In addition to Western countries as well as Russia and Turkey, neighboring countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Qatar have become involved. The three countries are fighting a proxy war for regional dominance. The religious division between Sunnis, Shiites and Alawites only plays a minor role.

Syria is a strategically important country for Iran. The regime of President Bashar al-Assad is Tehran's only ally in the Arab world. In addition, Syria is an important link to the pro-Iranian Hezbollah movement in Lebanon, said Stephan Rosiny, a Middle East expert at the Hamburg-based GIGA Institute for Middle East Studies. Speaking to DW, he added that Tehran, Damascus and Hezbollah see themselves as the resistance front against Israeli and Western interests in the region.

Fall of Syrian regime would be a blow to Iran

Saudi Arabia and Qatar, on the other hand, want to curb Iran's attempts at regional domination and thereby increase their own influence. An overthrow of the Assad government would be a major blow for Iran, and so the two monarchies have been quite openly backing the Syrian opposition. And not just in Syria - they have even been promoting anti-Iranian groups in Lebanon and Iraq.

According to Rosiny, though, both countries have pursued different strategies. For decades, Saudi Arabia had lent its support to radical Salafist groups, but ever since bad experiences with al Qaeda and Saudi volunteer fighters in Afghanistan, the monarchy has become more cautious.

On their return after the fighting, many veterans considered the Saudi state as their new enemy. As a result, many Saudis have gone to fight as volunteers in Syria.

"That's why Saudi Arabia has somewhat moderated its support of these groups," said Rosiny. Qatar, in comparison, has been less indiscriminate and has partially supported radical groups.

http://www.dw.de/middle-east-countries-fighting-proxy-war-in-syria/a-16848708

 

see also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Iran

blind to the radicalisation of aussie army members...

 

A serving Australian soldier has been killed fighting with rebels in Syria.

The ABC has been told that the man was an infantry soldier who was still a member of the Australian Defence Force when he travelled to Syria to fight against the regime of Bashar al-Assad.

The Defence Force would not confirm or deny the death, and directed the ABC's inquiries to the Attorney-General's Department and the Australian Federal Police, neither of which would respond to direct questions about the man's fate.

It is unclear whether he was a reservist or a full-time soldier, or what special skills he may have learned in his Defence Force service. However, it is understood that he died two months ago.

The death raises questions about the ability of the Defence Force to recognise the signs of radicalisation of its members.  

The vast majority of foreign fighters who travel to Syria have no combat or military experience, making any military training in a recruit an asset to the rebel groups.

In January, it was reported that a Dutch soldier of Turkish origin who was disgusted by the West's failure to halt the killing in Syria had quit the army and travelled to the battle zone, where he was training rebels.

Last year, a former United States soldier who fought with Syrian rebels, Eric Harroun, served a brief stint in an American prison after pleading guilty to minor charges involving conspiracy to transfer defence articles and services. 

But the Australian is believed to be the first serving member of a Western army to be killed while fighting with the rebels.

A number of Australians have been killed in Syria while supplying aid or fighting for factions within the rebel movement. 

Sydney man Caner Temel, 22, was killed in January, allegedly while fighting for the extremist group the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant against more moderate rebels.

His death came days after the killing of Sydney man Yusuf Ali and his young wife Amira near Aleppo. The circumstances in which the couple died are still unclear, but it was reported they were also killed during fighting between rebel factions.

Roger Abbas, 23, a well-known kickboxer from Melbourne, reportedly went to Syria to do aid work, became involved with the Jabhat al-Nusra group, and was killed in October 2012.

Another Melbourne man, Yusuf Toprakkaya, was shot dead by a sniper while fighting for a rebel group in December 2012.

Sydney preacher Mustafa al-Majzoub was killed by a rocket while doing what his family says was humanitarian work in Syria in August 2012

And a Brisbane man is suspected of being the first Australian suicide bomber, after blowing up himself and a number of Syrian soldiers at a checkpoint last September.

It is believed there are dozens more Australians fighting in Syria, and that some have reached senior positions in extremist Islamic groups.

ASIO has also confiscated the passports of some Australians to stop them travelling to Syria and the wider region.

In December, Sydney man Hamdi Al Qudsi was arrested and charged with assisting people travelling to Syria to fight in the long-running conflict.

He faces seven charges under the Crimes Act relating to foreign incursions and recruitments.

Between June and August last year, Al Qudsi is accused of helping Yusuf Ali enter Syria "with the intent to engage in a hostile activity, in particular engaging in armed hostilities".

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-03-18/serving-australian-soldier-killed-in-syria/5329184

--------------------------------

Meanwhile:

 

The Syrian army has made fresh gains in its battle against foreign-backed militants in the town of Yabroud in Damascus countryside, Press TV reports.

Many parts of the southwestern town are now under control of the Syrian forces, but the battle continues between the army and militants.

A large number of militants have been killed over the past few days as the army continues its tangible advance in the eastern parts of the town in the mountainous region of Qalamoun.

The al-Amal hospital, a local Orthodox Church and an industrial zone as well as the strategic Mar Maroun mountainous region have come under control of the Syrian army.

Syrian forces managed to enter the eastern districts of Yabroud on Saturday.

On March 12, Syrian forces backed by fighters from the Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah took full control of farmland on the northern edge of Yabroud.

The new gains for the Syrian army come days after forces loyal to the government of President Bashar al-Assad regained control of the town of al-Zareh following days of fierce clashes with militants in the central province of Homs.

Securing the town would mean cutting the supply line of militants in the area and putting an end to weapons smuggling from Lebanon.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2014/03/16/354854/syria-army-gains-ground-in-yabroud/

 

See toon and story at top...

 

 

putin is doing the west a favour, by supporting assad...

 

WASHINGTON — Dozens of seasoned militant fighters, including some midlevel planners, have traveled to Syria from Pakistan in recent months in what American intelligence and counter-terrorism officials fear is an effort to lay the foundation for future strikes against Europe and the United States.

“We are concerned about the use of Syrian territory by the Al Qaeda organization to recruit individuals and develop the capability to be able not just to carry out attacks inside of Syria, but also to use Syria as a launching pad,” John O. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, told a House panel recently.

The extremists who concern Mr. Brennan are part of a group of Qaeda operatives in Pakistan that has been severely depleted in recent years by a decade of American drone strikes. But the fighters still bring a wide range of skills to the battlefield, such as bomb-building, small-arms tactics, logistics, religious indoctrination and planning, though they are not believed to have experience in launching attacks in the West.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/world/middleeast/qaeda-militants-seek-syria-base-us-officials-say.html?hp&_r=0 

 

arming the moderates in moderation...

President Barack Obama has asked the US Congress to approve $500m (£294m) to train and equip what he described as "moderate" Syrian opposition forces.

The funds would help Syrians defend against forces aligned with President Bashar al-Assad, the White House said.

The aid would also counter Islamist militants such as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isis), it added.

Isis's advance in neighbouring Iraq has led some in Congress to press Mr Obama to take action.

Tens of thousands of people have died and millions more have been displaced in three years of civil war in Syria, as rebels fight troops loyal to Mr Assad.

'Increase our support'

"This funding request would build on the administration's longstanding efforts to empower the moderate Syrian opposition, both civilian and armed," the White House said.

It will also "enable the Department of Defense to increase our support to vetted elements of the armed opposition".

The money will help stabilise areas under opposition control and counter terrorist threats, the White House said.

The rebels that would receive the funds would be vetted beforehand in order to alleviate concerns of equipment falling into the hands of militants hostile to the US and its allies, the White House said.

Mr Obama has been under strong pressure from some members of Congress to increase assistance in the area, although it is unclear whether and when Congress would act on his request.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-28042309#

 

Let Assad survive as the President of Syria, Mr Obama. The alternative is an even bigger mess than Egypt, Iraq, Palestine, Libya, ... Do not supply weapons or training. It will come back to bite you. Full stop.

america's nut job...

 

Syria's army and its allies have broken a three-year rebel siege of two Shia towns in northwest Syria, the government and rebel groups said, cutting off a main supply route to nearby Turkey.

The breakthrough comes after days of rapid military gains north of the major city of Aleppo, with Russian air strikes playing a key role in the advance.

The two towns of Nubul and Zahraa, with an estimated 60,000 population, are connected to the border by areas under the control of Kurdish militias that provided access.

The Levant Front rebel said the siege was broken "after three days of legendary resistance by the revolutionaries facing the Russian military machine, and after more than 500 raids by Russian air planes", Reuters news agency reported.  


READ MORE: Syria peace talks plunged into new crisis


Syria's state news agency SANA reported on Thursday "mass celebrations in the streets of Nubul and Zahraa welcoming army troops and celebrating the breaking of the siege".

The Al-Manar television station of Lebanese militia Hezbollah broadcast what it said was exclusive footage of Syrian government and allied fighters entering the towns. The channel showed crowds embracing soldiers and militiamen who fired into the air as they arrived.

The two towns had been besieged by rebels since 2012, and reaching them had long been a goal of the government, which has also sought to sever key rebel supply routes into Aleppo from Turkey.

Al Jazeera's Zeina Khodr, reporting from Gaziantep, Turkey, said that in taking the towns, the government achieved in three days what it's been trying to do for three years.

"There is no doubt this is a decisive turning point because at the end of the day, Turkey is the lifeline for the opposition. What we understand from pro-government sources is that this is just the beginning - the aim is to reach the Turkish border."

Meanwhile, UN-mediated talks in Geneva to end the war in Syria were paused on Wednesday until February 25.

US Secretary of State John Kerry blamed the Syrian government and its Russian allies for the stall in negotiations.

"The continued assault by Syrian regime forces - enabled by Russian air strikes - against opposition-held areas, as well as regime and allied militias' continued besiegement of hundreds of thousands of civilians, have clearly signalled the intention to seek a military solution rather than enable a political one," Kerry said in a statement.

 

read more: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/02/syrian-forces-break-rebel-siege-key-towns-160204033945944.html

 

----------------

Yes Mr Kerry, three bags full... "Seek a military solution rather than a political one?"... Hypocrite! You're the F&^%$#@ING bastard who armed the opposition to Assad, you clod. 

And YES, THERE ARE ALLIED MILITIA FIGHTING FOR ASSAD...

 

And see the toon at top from nearly four years ago...

 

caring like crabs in a basket...

 

joint statement by CARE International, the International Rescue Committee, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, and Save the Children argues that assisting in the reconstruction of Syria under current conditions will bolster the regime and thus “risks doing more harm than good.”

In remarks at the end of a September 18 meeting of the U.S.-led “Friends of Syria,”British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said: “We believe that the only way forward is to get a political process going and to make it clear to the Iranians, Russians and Assad regime that we, the like-minded group, will not support the reconstruction of Syria until there is such a political process and that means, as Resolution 2254 says, to a transition away from Assad.”

Supporters of this strategy apparently believe that a victorious Assad regime will now surrender the peace in order to win access to the coffers of the West and the privilege of being drawn and quartered at The Hague.

Read more

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/our-enemies-are-winning-...

Yes now that the Russians have helped win the war against the various US/Saudi guises, from the "moderate" rebels to ISIS, they are going to leave Syria to the Western wolves... This ain't going to happen. The reconstruction of Syria can happen WITHOUT the West and its pseudo-caring organisations. The Russians and the Chinese have the cash and the will to work together and reconstruct Syria away from the US war-lovers... I know, road blocks and sabotage will be instigated by the Western powers to prevent MOST of the Syrian to be happy under Assad. It's called sour grapes at the level of this stupid Haley woman Trump uses as a stupid mouth piece at the UN. She should be ashamed of herself... 

 

in one and the same trench...

Some of the military aid sent to the Syrian opposition by Qatar, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the US may have ended up in the hands of Al-Qaeda-affiliated Al-Nusra terrorists, the Qatari foreign minister has admitted.

The revelations, which are the first of their kind to emerge, were contained in a statement by Hamad bin Jassim bin Jaber Al Thani, who served as Qatari foreign minister between 1992 and 2013. When the conflict started in Syria back in 2011, Hamad bin Jassim said that he went straight to the late Saudi King Abdullah, who then supported Doha’s plan on Syria.

While Qatar is now being accused by the Gulf kingdoms of backing terrorism, Hamad bin Jassim insists that when the Syrian crisis broke out, Doha, Riyadh and Washington were “in one and the same trench” in their vision on supporting anti-Assad militants. He made the comments during a television interview with Qatar TV in October. 

read more...

https://www.rt.com/news/408240-qatar-minister-nusra-aid-syria/

US had a seemingly willful ignorance of Syrian history...

 

Russia’s multifaceted involvement in the Syrian war has now tipped the advantage decisively in favor of the government led by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Its well-considered system of local ceasefires and “reconciliations”—little more than glorified surrenders—between the regime and all manner of defeated members of the opposition has been fortified by a “de-escalation” regime, joined by Turkish, Iranian, and American junior partners in expanding perimeters throughout the country.

This effort is capped by a Russian-led diplomatic juggernaut in the Kazakh capital of Astana that is out-performing the moribund U.S.-led Geneva process. Russian President Vladimir Putin has defined Russian objectives clearly and resolutely, and marshaled inferior resources with skill and determination—much to the consternation of Washington.

During the just completed seventh round of talks in Astana, Putin’s plan for an All Syria Conference later this month in Sochi to discuss a new constitution for post-war Syria, was placed on the table. Members of the Syrian opposition will boycott his parley at their peril.

The Astana process marks only the latest example of what has been a seminal failure of U.S. diplomacy and its military effort to establish Washington as the arbiter of Syria’s future—a dubious prize to be sure, but one that two American presidents have deemed of national interest to fight for since civil war bloke out in 2011.

Iran, along with Turkey and Russia, are Astana’s guarantors. Even the para-state Hezbollah is today better positioned than Washington to affect the nature and composition of the postwar regime Moscow is attempting to shepherd. Washington is relegated to the gallery that Putin, whose military intervention in September 2015 was derided by Defense Secretary Ash Carter as “doomed to fail,” has assembled.

Yet despite the headlines, Syria has never been a zero sum contest between Washington and Moscow. Once the Obama administration’s feverish demand for the destruction of the ruling Ba’ath Party security regime was abandoned, a foundation for U.S.-Russian “de-confliction” in the battle against ISIS was established. The Russian draft constitution, released earlier this year, offers important elements aimed at meeting Kurdish interests within a unified Syrian state that under other circumstances could find favor in Washington.

But as Syria’s endgame unfolds, Washington’s outsized dreams are crashing to earth. It is literally basing its future on premises that are untenable in the long-term, and which are betrayed by a seemingly willful ignorance of Syrian history.

Read more:

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/washington-relegated-to-bystander-status-in-syria-talks/

One does not know what action of sour grapes the US will take, overtly or covertly (via the Saudis? or Israel?) — even assassination squad in Syria or an "accidental" bombing of the "palace"... The USA are sore losers and one needs to be prepared... Read from top.

 

a dignified way out...

The new US-Russian joint statement on Syria may allow Washington to “save face” and exit the country without sustaining a “crushing defeat”, according to a Syrian legislator.

Syrian MP Muhannad al Haj Ali told Sputnik Arabic that the joint statement on Syria issued by Russia and the US essentially means that Moscow is allowing Washington "to exit Syria without a crushing defeat and to save face."

"Syria needs to continue conducting military operations and to deal with the Kurdish issue. It should be noted that not all Kurds seek to secede, so it is important to distinguish between separatists and those loyal to the government," the MP explained.

Russian journalist Andrei Ontikov also added that the US won’t abandon its attempts to achieve either federalization or the division of Syria, as indicated by Washington’s ongoing support of the Kurdish forces in the country under the pretext of anti-Daesh campaign.

 

He pointed out however that Russia continues to insist on maintaining Syria’s territorial integrity, and that Damascus will likely be able to grant Kurds and other ethnic minorities the kind of rights that would render the US unable "to put pressure on them or to tempt them with the prospects of secession."

 

Read more:

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201711131059064498-syrian-conflict-re...