Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 16, 2017

Libya - How U.S.-Russian Cooperation May (Re-)Unite The Country

By Richard Galustian

On January 20th Trump will be sworn in as President. US Foreign Policy will crystallize when the full cabinet is approved by the U.S. Congress. The Russians will try and make their moves on the world chess board during this transition period to further their interests.

As far as Libya is concerned will Russia’s now overt support for the LNA (Libyan National Army) and 74 years old General Khalifa Haftar, a former(?) CIA asset, cause a problem? The U.S. has up to now supported the UN installed GNA (Government of National Accord) which has little following in the country. Could Russia's LNA support put it at odds with the incoming Trump administration or will this be a welcome and calculated play from Trump's perspective?

Haftar and the LNA are also supported by Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Last week Blackwater founder Erik Prince allegedly provided private mercenary pilots in armed agricultural aircraft to bomb Western Libya's Islamist extremists. Prince's mercenary air force is paid by the UAE. He is a brother Betsy DeVos, the U.S. president-elect Donald Trump’s nominee to be secretary of education.

What will change as a result in the complicated ground war in Libya between the various warring factions in south, east and west Libya?

What of ISIS relatively small presence in the Sirte and Sabratha regions?

What of the tentative potential thawing of US/Russia relations put on edge by last week's inevitably doubtful allegations of Trump's being blackmailed by Russia.

The first three months following the inauguration will be the most telling.

Until then, let us hazard a guess as to what will unfold:

Cont. reading: Libya - How U.S.-Russian Cooperation May (Re-)Unite The Country

Posted by b at 05:27 AM | Comments (11)

January 15, 2017

"It Can't Happen Here" - Color Revolution By Force

The "Donald Trump likes Russia" and "Russia bad" strategy was propagated by the Clinton election campaign. It build on constant U.S. incitement against Russia after the U.S. coup in Ukraine partially failed and after the Russian intervention on the side of the government in Syria. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State was the main force behind the original anti-Russian campaign. When Clinton lost the election to Trump the theme connecting Trump and Russia was continued and  fanned by parts of the U.S. intelligence community.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the FBI published a propaganda report claiming nefarious Russian cyber activities during the election without providing any evidence. The report came together with the expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats by the Obama administration. The DHS then planted a false story of Russian cyber-intrusion into a Vermont utility with the Washington Post.

The Director of National Intelligence Clapper followed up with a "report" of alleged Russian interference with the election. Even the Putinphobe Masha Gessen found that to be a shoddy piece of implausible propaganda. The DNI then helped to publish an MI6 "report" of fakes asserting Russian influence on Trump. In an unprecedented threat escalation the Pentagon sends a whole brigade and other assets to the Russian border.

Now the head of the Central Intelligence Agency, John Brennan, warns the President elect to "watch his tongue". Is there any precedence of some "intelligence" flunky threatening a soon to be President?

This has been, all together, a well though out propaganda campaign to reinforce the scheme Clinton and her overlords have been pushing for quite some time: Russia is bad and a danger. Trump is aligned with Russia. Something needs to be done against Trump but most importantly against Russia.

Propaganda works. The campaign is having some effects:

Americans are more concerned than they were before the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign began about the potential threat Russia poses to the country, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Friday. The Jan. 9-12 survey found that 82 percent of American adults, including 84 percent of Democrats and 82 percent of Republicans, described Russia as a general "threat" to the United States. That's up from 76 percent in March 2015 when the same questions were asked.

Such extensive and expensive campaigns are not run by chance. They have a larger purpose.

Originally the campaign was only directed against Russia with the apparent aim of reigniting a (quite profitable) cold war. Seen from some distance the campaign now looks more like the preparation for a typical CIA induced color-revolution:

In most but not all cases, massive street protests followed disputed elections, or requests for fair elections, and led to the resignation or overthrow of leaders considered by their opponents to be authoritarian.

What is missing yet in the U.S. are the demonstrations and the large civilian strife.

Unlike the earlier CIA launched color revolutions in Georgia (2003), Ukraine (2004) and elsewhere, all recent U.S. instigated "color-revolutions", i.e. putsch attempts, have been accompanied by the use of force from the side of the "peaceful protesters". Such color-revolutions by force were instigate in Libya, Syria and Ukraine.

A common denominator of these was the primary use of violence occurred from the "good side" against the "bad side" while the propagandists claimed that it was the "bad side" that started the shooting and strife. The "good site" is inevitably "demonstrating peacefully" even when many policemen or soldiers on the "bad side" die. Thus was the case in Libya where the U.S. and its Gulf proxies used al-Qeada aligned Jihadis from Benghazi as "peaceful demonstrators" against the government, in Syria where the NATO and Gulf supported Muslim Brotherhood killed policemen and soldiers during "peaceful demonstrations" in Deraa and in Ukraine where fascist sharpshooters killed demonstrators and policemen from a hotel roof in the hand of the opposition. All three happened while Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State.

There have been claims of an upcoming color-revolution in the U.S. from different extremist sides of the political spectrum. Before the election Neocon Jackson Diehl claimed that "Putin" was preparing a color-revolution against a President-elect Clinton to enthrone Donald Trump. But as Trump won fair and square and Clinton lost that plot did not make it to the stage. After the election the conspiracy peddler Wayne Maison immediately "discovered" that Clinton and George Soros were launching a color-revolution against Trump.

Remnants of the Clinton campaign have called for a large anti-Trump demonstration during the inauguration on January 20 in Washington DC.

Mass shootings in the United States by this or that type of lunatics happen every other month. There are no wild conspiracy theories or nefarious plots necessary to consider some what-if questions around such an event.

So what happens after some "Trump supporter" on January 20 starts to shoot into the demonstrating masses (and also into the police cordons)?

What if the CIA, DHS and DNI then detect and certify that the ensuing "massacre" was a "Russian plot"?

Posted by b at 12:28 PM | Comments (139)

January 14, 2017

Open Thread 2017-02

News & views ...

Posted by b at 11:00 AM | Comments (200)

January 13, 2017

"35 Pages" Attack Against Trump Fails - Foreign And Domestic Losses

UPDATED (at end of original)

The tale about the fake accusations about Russian influence on the U.S. presidential election becomes more gripping by each day. The are part of a larger war between various groups of the "elites" but also include infighting between U.S. government organizations.

We know that there was heavy Ukrainian influence on the side of Clinton in the election and in the current smear campaign against Trump and Russia. But it certainly wasn't Ukraine alone that is behind this. There are more international connections.

The "former" desk officer for Russia in the British MI6 Christopher Steele was the one who prepared the 35 pages of obviously false claims about Russian connections with and kompromat against Trump. There are so many inconsistencies in these pages that anyone knowledgeable about the workings in Moscow could immediately identify it as fake. Putin personally started working on Trump five years ago when Trump had no political role or hope whatsoever? A Trump associate met Russian officials in Prague even though he has never been in the Czech Republic?

Steele spread the fakes throughout the press corps in Washington DC but no media published them because these were obviously false accusations.

Steele then decided to hand the papers to the FBI and to talk to its agents hoping they would start an official investigation. He cleared his move (or was ordered to proceed?) at the highest level of the British government:

Cont. reading: "35 Pages" Attack Against Trump Fails - Foreign And Domestic Losses

Posted by b at 09:34 AM | Comments (229)

January 11, 2017

The Deep State Versus Donald Trump - New Smears And The Ukrainian Connection

UPDATED (3x) (at end of original)

As remarked on January 6:

When Hillary Clinton was defeated in the U.S. presidential election the relevant powers launched a campaign to delegitimize the President elect Donald Trump.

The ultimate aim of the cabal is to kick him out of office and have a reliable replacement, like the Vice-President elect Pence, take over. Should that not be possible it is hoped that the delegitimization will make it impossible for Trump to change major policy trajectories especially in foreign policy. A main issue here is the reorientation of the U.S. military complex and its NATO proxies from the war of terror towards a direct confrontation with main powers like Russia and China.

The deep state campaign against Trump opened new grounds today with the publication of completely fake and thereby unverifiable anonymous assertions which include the smear that Trump had some fun in a Moscow hotel and that Russian secret services is using that to manipulate him.

Like many smears against Trump via proxies of the Clinton presidential campaign these new ones seem to origin from Ukraine related sources and Ukrainian "nationalist" (aka fascist) putsch supporters.

The new assertions about Trump come in 35 pages of "reports" by an anonymous (claimed) former British intelligence operator working for a private U.S. company with dates ranging from June 20 2016 to December 13 2016. They say that Russia has some tapes of Trump watching sex games in 2013, they claim that Trump campaign officials coordinated the Clinton campaign leaks with Russia and that the Russian President Putin was highly involved in all of this.

Here is how the claimed former intelligence operator typically describes his sources in these "reports":

Speaking to a trusted compatriot in June 2016 sources A and B, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level Russian intelligence officer still active inside the Kremlin respectively, the Russian authorities had been cultivating and supporting U.S. Republican presidential candidate, Donald TRUMP for at least five years. Source B asserted that the TRUMP operation was both supported and directed by Russian President Vladimir PUTIN.

The anonymous former British operator hears from an anonymous asserted compatriot what two anonymous sources, asserted to have access to inner Russian circles, claim to have heard somewhere that something happened in the Kremlin.

They assert that Trump was supported and directed by Putin himself five years ago while even a year ago no one would have bet a penny on Trump gaining any political significant position or even the presidency.

There is a lot more of such nonsense in these new Hitler diaries. It is bonkers from a to z.

Neocon senator John McCain, friend of Ukrainian fascists and Trump enemy, passed (<-details) the "report" to the FBI and thereby made it into an official document.

Even as they are obvious fake the FBI tried to use these "reports" to get a wide warrant from the foreign intelligence surveillance (FISA) court to listen in on Trump campaign officials. The court thankfully denied or at least narrowed down the request.

Cont. reading: The Deep State Versus Donald Trump - New Smears And The Ukrainian Connection

Posted by b at 07:39 AM | Comments (344)

January 09, 2017

ISIS, Al-Qaeda And The U.S. Airforce Wage War On Syria's Public Utilities

There is a campaign underway to destroy Syria's public utilities. Al-Qaeda, ISIS and the U.S. airforce are involved. Their action is coordinated.

That is an outrageous statement? No such coordination would ever happen?  Consider:

The idea of the Islamic State was "born" in the U.S. military prison camp Bucca in Iraq. Many of its future leader were interned there and had time and space to develop their philosophy and to plan their future operations.

In 2012 the Defense Intelligence Agency warned of the rise of an Islamic State entity in Syria and Iraq:

THERE IS THE POSSIBILITY OF ESTABLISHING A DECLARED OR UNDECLARED SALAFIST PRINCIPALITY IN EASTERN SYRIA (HASAKA AND DER ZOR), AND THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT THE SUPPORTING POWERS TO THE OPPOSITION WANT, IN ORDER TO ISOLATE THE SYRIAN REGIME…”.

In an August 2014 NYT interview with Thomas Friedman President Obama said that the U.S. knew about the dangers of ISIS but did nothing to stop its expansion in Iraq because it could be used to oust then Prime Minister Maliki:

The reason, the president added, “that we did not just start taking a bunch of airstrikes all across Iraq as soon as ISIL came in was because that would have taken the pressure off of [Prime Minister Nuri Kamal] al-Maliki.

In a recent talk with some U.S. paid members of the Syrian opposition Secretary of State Kerry (video - 25:50) made a similar point but wuth regard to Syria:

"And we know that this was growing, we were watching, we saw that DAESH was growing in strength, and we thought Assad was threatened" Kerry told the Syrians. "(We) thought, however," he continued. "we could probably manage that Assad might then negotiate. But instead of negotiating he got Putin to support him."

There are doubts that the U.S. was only watching from afar. The beginning and growth of ISIS was financed by U.S. Gulf "allies" which are subordinated to U.S. wishes. When the Obama administration had to start bombing ISIS after it killed a U.S. journalist the few bombs its airforce dropped were hitting an "ISIS fighting position" or an "ISIS excavator". That wasn't a serious campaign. Meanwhile thousands of Turkish tanker trucks were waiting in the deserts to load oil from ISIS controlled wells to sell it to Turkey. Only after the Russian President Putin showed satellite pictures of those huge truck columns to his colleagues at a G20 meeting did the U.S. start to attack this major source of ISIS finances.

At the end of last year the U.S. military bombed a Syrian government position in Deir Ezzor where some 100,000 Syrians are besieged by ISIS. It killed more than Syrian 100 troops and enabled ISIS to take important hill positions that may eventually help it to conquer the city. This was an intentional strike.

Currently a campaign is waged by the Takfiri forces opposing the Syrian government and by the U.S. to deprive the people under its protection of all public utilities - water, gas and electricity. After the start of the current blocking of the water supplies to Damascus and its 5-6 million inhabitants we noted:

This shut down is part of a wider, seemingly coordinated strategy to deprive all government held areas of utility supplies. Two days ago the Islamic State shut down a major water intake for Aleppo from the Euphrates. High voltage electricity masts on lines feeding Damascus have been destroyed and repair teams, unlike before, denied access. Gas supplies to parts of Damascus are also cut.

This campaign against basic infrastructure has since continued. U.S. support "rebel" groups take part in it. Al-Qaeda in Syria, aka Jabhat al Nusra, does its share in Wadi Barada. The U.S. military just bombed another Syrian power station. In 2015 it had already waged a campaign against such installations creating huge material damages. Since three days Deir Ezzor and surroundings have no electricity at all. Yesterday ISIS again joined the campaign and blew up a huge gas processing facility in Hayyan in east Homs. Hayyan is the largest such station in Syria and provided electricity, heating gas and cooking gas for all of south Syria including the capital Damascus.

This is a systematic, wide ranging campaign against Syrian infrastructure designed to deprive the people living under government protection of the basic necessities.

If you would ask the U.S. government it would of course say that such a campaign does not exist and is totally not coordinated by the U.S. and its Gulf proxies. It is just coincidence that U.S. supported "rebels", al-Qaeda, ISIS and the U.S. airforce all hit the same category of targets in Syria at the very same moment of their war against the Syrian people.

In knowledge of the top U.S. sources quoted above I would be inclined to doubt such an assertion.

The campaign is in prelude to the next stage of the war for which all involved parties currently prepare. As Obama still gives the orders we can expect it to be more vicious and with even more propaganda support than his failed "defense" of his proxy forces in east-Aleppo.

Posted by b at 03:39 PM | Comments (174)

January 07, 2017

Intelligence Report On Russian Election Influence Is A Flop

Yesterday the U.S. Director of National Intelligence, the CIA, the NSA and the FBI released a report about alleged Russian hacking of the Democratic National Council and on Russian influence operation on the U.S. presidential election. The report failed to convince anyone. It is indeed a public relation disaster for the Intelligence Community.

John Harwood covers "the economy and national politics for CNBC and the New York Times." More then 100,000 people follow him on Twitter. He is known as Hillary Clinton supporter and chummy with John Podesta who ran Clinton's election campaign.

Harwood set up a simple poll. It is not statistically representative but gives a picture of a general sentiment.

This result surely shows the limits of power of the so-called Intelligence Community. But it is worse: yesterday's "Russian hacking" claims failed to convince even its most ardent and anti-Russian supporters.

Daily Beast: U.S. Spy Report Blames Putin for Hacks, But Doesn’t Back It Up

Kevin Rothrock (Moscow Times):

Cont. reading: Intelligence Report On Russian Election Influence Is A Flop

Posted by b at 08:50 AM | Comments (211)

January 06, 2017

New Intelligence Report Adds No Evidence Of "Russian Hacking" (Updated)

UPDATE: Up to today there is no public evidence that Russia hacked the Democratic National Council and/or released DNC material to Wikileaks. After today's new intelligence report (pdf) there is still no such evidence. (One third of the report is dedicated to criticize the Russian government's TV outlet Russia Today for criticizing Hillary Clinton. The RT viewer numbers claimed in the report are evidently false from 2012 and thereby completely irrelevant.) There are rather wild assertions and a lot of conjecture but zero facts that could be accepted as proof.

Alexi de Sadesky saz: "ноль + ноль = ноль"

 

End-update

When Hillary Clinton was defeated in the U.S. presidential election the relevant powers launched a campaign to delegitimize the President elect Donald Trump.

The ultimate aim of the cabal is to kick him out of office and have a reliable replacement, like the Vice-President elect Pence, take over. Should that not be possible it is hoped that the delegitimization will make it impossible for Trump to change major policy trajectories especially in foreign policy. A main issue here is the reorientation of the U.S. military complex and its NATO proxies from the war of terror towards a direct confrontation with main powers like Russia and China.

The cabal consists of President Obama, the defeated candidate Hillary Clinton, neoconservatves like the State Department's cookie dispenser Victoria Nuland, the Republican senators McCain and Lindsay and the military-industrial complex. (One of the few neocons planted near to Trump, former CIA director James Woolsey, threw the towel today and left the Trump transition team.)

A major role in directing the plot has fallen to Obama's consigliere John Brennan, the current director of the CIA. Another role has been delegated to the various military and NATO think tanks like the Atlantic Council and the British RUSI and reliable proxies within the media.

The current emphasis of the campaign is on the release of emails and papers from the Clinton campaign through Wikileaks. It is alleged that some releases were gained through hacking, planned and executed by the Russian government. Trump had announced that he plans to seek good relations with Russia, the power that the cabal had earlier chosen as the new enemy de jour.

But there is a problem. There is no real evidence that a "hack" ever happened. There is no evidence that Russia is involved. None at all.

Three cases of paper releases have to be differentiated:

Cont. reading: New Intelligence Report Adds No Evidence Of "Russian Hacking" (Updated)

Posted by b at 10:48 AM | Comments (161)

January 05, 2017

Open Thread 2017-01

News & views ...

Posted by b at 02:22 PM | Comments (272)

January 04, 2017

The Enemy Du Jour Is Always Hacking

Three pieces in the same leading newspaper show how little changes with "hacking" stories when the powers-that-are decide that some country is now the "enemy."

1. By NYT staff reporter Erich Lichtblau: Increase in Electronic Attacks Leads to Warning on Hackers and U.S. Safety

Intelligence officials are concerned that a recent rise in electronic attacks against government and military computer networks in the United States may be the work of pro-[country] hackers and could signal a "potential crisis" in national security, according to a classified F.B.I. assessment.

The assessment, prepared last week by the National Infrastructure Protection Center at the Federal Bureau of Investigation, warned intelligence officials that the attacks, which have been relatively limited, are likely to grow more widespread and "more dangerous" as tension over a possible war against [country] grows.

American intelligence analysts say they have long been concerned by the notion that Al Qaeda could use computers to wage terror -- disrupting water treatment plants or nuclear facilities, for instance. Experts say the link between [country] and computer hacking may have been underestimated and poses a growing threat to United States security.

"[Country] is certainly among the places in the world that we think a cyberattack might well be launched from," Representative Robert E. Andrews of New Jersey, a Democrat on the House Armed Service Committee who has been active on cyberwarfare issues, said in an interview.

Mr. Andrews noted that computer attacks were difficult to trace and could be damaging, which he said met 's goals. "A cyberattack really fits [country]'s [leader] paradigm for attacking us," he said.

2. By NYT staff reporter Nicole Perlroth: Cyberespionage Attacks Tied to Hackers in [country]

SAN FRANCISCO — An elaborate, three-year cyberespionage campaign against United States military contractors, members of Congress, diplomats, lobbyists and Washington-based journalists has been linked to hackers in [country].

The campaign compromised the computers of some 2,000 victims and went unnoticed since 2011, according to a report to be released Thursday by iSight Partners, a computer security firm in Dallas.

American intelligence officials have long said [country]'s hackers are a serious threat, [..]
...
[L]ast year, American officials said [country] hackers were behind a wave of attacks on several American oil, gas and electricity companies,that officials described as probes looking for ways to disrupt critical processing systems.

3. By NYT staff reporter Erich Lichtblau: Computer Systems Used by Clinton Campaign Are Said to Be Hacked, Apparently by [country]

WASHINGTON — Computer systems used by Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign were hacked in an attack that appears to have come from [country]’s intelligence services, a federal law enforcement official said on Friday.

The apparent breach, coming after the disclosure last month that the Democratic National Committee’s computer system had been compromised, escalates an international episode in which Clinton campaign officials have suggested that [country] might be trying to sway the outcome of the election.
...
Clinton campaign officials have suggested that [leader] of [country] could be trying to tilt the election to Mr. Trump, who has expressed admiration for the [country]'s leader. But the campaign officials acknowledge that they have no evidence. The Trump campaign has dismissed the accusations about [country] as a deliberate distraction.

The first piece was published on January 17 2003, the country is Iraq and the leader is Saddam Hussein.

The second piece was published on May 29 2014, the country is Iran.

The third piece was published on July 29 2016, the country is Russia and the leader is Vladimir Putin.

Posted by b at 02:46 PM | Comments (114)

January 03, 2017

U.S./UK Paid "White Helmets" Help Blocking Water To 5 Million Thirsty Syrians

The blockade of water from Wadi Barada to 5 million people in Damascus is taking an interesting turn. The U.S. and UK financed White Helmet organization seems to be directly involved in it. This increases the suspicion that the illegal blockade of water to civilians in Damascus is part of a organized campaign under U.S. command. The campaign is designed to block utilities to government held areas as revenge for the liberation of east Aleppo.

As we described it yesterday:

After the eastern part of the city of Aleppo was liberated by Syrian government forces, the local rebels and inhabitants in the Barada river valley were willing to reconcile with the Syrian government. But the al-Qaeda Takfiris disagreed and took over. The area is since under full al-Qaeda control and thereby outside of the recent ceasefire agreement.

On December 22 the water supply to Damascus was suddenly contaminated with diesel fuel and no longer consumable. A day later Syrian government forces started an operation to regain the area and to reconstitute the water supplies.

Photos and a video on social media (since inaccessible but I saw them when they appeared) showed the water treatment facility rigged with explosives. On Dec 27th the facility was blown up and partly destroyed.

The Syrian government is ready to send repair teams to rehabilitate the water flow to the millions of civilians in Damascus. But access to the site is denied and the Syrian army is now trying to push al-Qaeda and its allies away from it.

Curiously some "civil" groups today offered access under several (not agreeable) conditions:

Hassan Ridha @sayed_ridha - 2:10 AM - 3 Jan 2017

Wadi Barada statement: we will let teams to fix water spring if SAA-Hezb stop attack, siege lift & monitor ceasefire by intl observers
[attachment]

EHSANI2 @EHSANI22 - 6:43 AM - 3 Jan 2017

Offer by opposition to trade access to water source for #Damascus with halting of military operations by army
[attachment]

Here is the attachment to both tweets. Note who signed it:

Cont. reading: U.S./UK Paid "White Helmets" Help Blocking Water To 5 Million Thirsty Syrians

Posted by b at 01:23 PM | Comments (146)

January 02, 2017

Al-Qaeda Cut Leaves 5 Million Thirsty In Damascus - Western Media Unconcerned

There is a humanitarian catastrophe unfolding in Syria and the "western" media ignore it.

On December 22 al-Qaeda aligned Takfiris in the Wadi Barada valley shut down the main water supply for the Syrian capital Damascus. Since then the city and some 5-6 million living in and around it have to survive on emergency water distributions by the Syrian government. That is barely enough for people to drink - no washing, no showers and no water dependent production is possible.

This shut down is part of a wider, seemingly coordinated strategy to deprive all government held areas of utility supplies. Two days ago the Islamic State shut down a major water intake for Aleppo from the Euphrates. High voltage electricity masts on lines feeding Damascus have been destroyed and repair teams, unlike before, denied access. Gas supplies to parts of Damascus are also cut. A similar tactic was used by the Zionist terrorists of the Haganah who in 1947/48 poisoned and blew up the water mains and oil pipelines to Palestinian Haifa.

Wadi Barada is a river valley some 10 miles west of Damascus at the mountain range between Lebanon and Syria. It has been in the hands of local insurgents since 2012. The area was since loosely surrounded by Syrian government forces and their allies from Hizbullah.

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Two springs in the area provide the water for Damascus which is treated locally and then pumped through pipelines into the city's distribution network. Since the early 1990s there is a low level conflict over the water diversion of the Barada river valley to the ever growing Damascus. The drought over the last years has intensified the problems. Local agriculture of the water rich valley had to cut back for lack of water as this was pumped into the city. But many families from the valley moved themselves into the city or have relatives living there.

The local rebels had kept the water running for the city. Al-Qaeda aligned groups have been in the area for some time. A propaganda video distributed by them and taken in the area showed (pic) the choreographed mass execution of Syrian government soldiers.

After the eastern part of the city of Aleppo was liberated by Syrian government forces, the local rebels and inhabitants in the Barada river valley were willing to reconcile with the Syrian government. But the al-Qaeda Takfiris disagreed and took over. The area is since under full al-Qaeda control and thereby outside of the recent ceasefire agreement.

On December 22 the water supply to Damascus was suddenly contaminated with diesel fuel and no longer consumable. A day later Syrian government forces started an operation to regain the area and to reconstitute the water supplies.

Cont. reading: Al-Qaeda Cut Leaves 5 Million Thirsty In Damascus - Western Media Unconcerned

Posted by b at 02:42 PM | Comments (88)

December 31, 2016

A Happy New Year To All Moonkind

To all commentators here a big THANKS for giving me so much!

My wish: May the next year be more peaceful than this one.

A Happy New Year to all moonkind!

Posted by b at 11:41 AM | Comments (142)

New Russian Hacks? No, Old Ukrainian Malware Found.

All recent claims of "Russian hacking" are either outright false or are based on "evidence" that only shows run-of-the-mill attacks by some anonymous basement hacker.

The year 2016 saw the person elected U.S. president who Jeff Bezos' propaganda rag, the Washington Post, hated most. To celebrate the end of this very bad year its writers and editors decided to put more egg on their faces.

It first published the piece promoted on the left and some three hours later the fundamentally "corrected" one on the right.

The claim in the first piece, based on anonymous "officials", was that Russia hacked into the U.S. electricity grid through a utility company in Vermont. But then the utility companies in question, Burlington Electric, issued a statement that a recent scan of its IT systems had found only one laptop with some malware and that the laptop in questions was not connected to its networks at all. There was nothing found on any net-connected system. It had reported the find to the federal U.S. government. (Some very shortsighted "officials" immediately abused the confidential company information to miss-inform the Washington Post.) The utility company found the malware by scanning for a malware signature published in a lame recent assessment by Homeland Security and the FBI.

Dubious claims of foreign hacking of the electricity grid have already been made in 2009. Its an old trick of the Obama administration to achieve some political aims.

The Washington Post was obviously so eager to publish another of its daily "Russian hacking" fakes that it did not even ask the two Vermont utilities in question before pushing the stenographed piece out of the door.

That may well have been because the lead editorial of that day was warning of Putin hacking the U.S. electricity network and (again) hitting at Trump:

For any American leader, an attempt to subvert U.S. democracy ought to be unforgivable — even if he is the intended beneficiary. Some years ago, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta warned of a “cyber-Pearl Harbor,” and the fear at the time was of a cyberattack collapsing electric grids or crashing financial markets. Now we have a real cyber-Pearl Harbor, though not one that was anticipated.

Pearl Harbor was followed by the U.S. entry into a world war. Do the editors want to repeat that when alluding to it?

The editorial also pushed a bunch of wholly invented conspiracy theories:

Cont. reading: New Russian Hacks? No, Old Ukrainian Malware Found.

Posted by b at 11:17 AM | Comments (72)

December 30, 2016

Master Judoka Putin "The Gracious" Outclasses "Lame Duck" Obama

The typical pettiness and vengefulness of the Obama administration was at full display with yesterday's expulsion of 35 Russian diplomats and the closing of two Russian estates in New York and Maryland. Obama also sanctioned the Russian external intelligence service FSB and the military intelligence service GRU as well as some of its leaders for doing their job.

The move was ostensibly over alleged but completely unproven Russian "hacking" to influence the U.S. election. But the real reason is likely Obama's loss of face after being left out of the successful negotiations of a new ceasefire in Syria.

True to form the Russian government responded with high-class trolling and generosity.

The first move came through the Russian Embassy in the United Kingdom. It tweeted about the current status of the Obama administration:


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The tweet gained so far more then 17,000 retweets and 19,000+ likes - certainly a "best of the year" candidate.

In response leaks and speculations appeared in the U.S. aligned media about the bad, bad Russian responses to Obama's moves.

CNN claimed that Russia would close the American school in Moscow:

Cont. reading: Master Judoka Putin "The Gracious" Outclasses "Lame Duck" Obama

Posted by b at 09:03 AM | Comments (136)

December 29, 2016

U.S. Embassy Turkey Openly Lies About U.S. YPG Support

U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Turkey - December 28 2016

The truth regarding misinformation in Turkish media concerning United States and Coalition operations against ISIL in Syria:

There is considerable misinformation circulating in Turkish media concerning U.S. and Coalition operations against ISIL in Syria. For those interested in the truths, here are the truths:
...
The United States government has not provided weapons or explosives to the YPG or the PKK – period.

Washington Post - December 28 2016

On the road to Raqqa:

At the heart of the issue is the U.S. military’s policy of sending arms to the area controlled by the main Syrian Kurdish militia, the People’s Protection Units, widely known as the YPG.

The decision has paid off so far. The YPG — which constitutes the Kurdish component of the SDF — has proved to be the United States’ most effective military ally in Syria, and it has retaken vast swaths of territory.

The embassy statement denying weapon and ammunition support for the YPG is obviously a lie. That the U.S. provides and provided weapons and ammunition to the YPG since 2014 is definitely true.

The same U.S. Embassy statement also denied that the U.S. supports or supported ISIS aka DAESH:

Cont. reading: U.S. Embassy Turkey Openly Lies About U.S. YPG Support

Posted by b at 12:11 AM | Comments (99)

December 28, 2016

Syria - Peace Talk Rumors And Parameters

Since February 2016 Russia had negotiated with the U.S. about a peace deal on Syria. The main agreed upon point was to fight together against the Takfiris, mainly ISIS and al-Qaeda. The U.S. in turn promised to separate the "moderate rebels" it supported from their close al-Qaeda ally. But that promise was never fulfilled. The U.S. delayed and delayed and enabled new attacks by al-Qaeda and U.S. proxy forces on Aleppo and elsewhere. It also instigated Kurdish YPG forces to attack the Syrian government in Hasakah. This was the strategic overreach that doomed the Kurds to a minor role in any upcoming solution.

Russia finally had enough and pulled the plug on further negotiations with the U.S. The Syrian forces and their allies besieged Aleppo and liberated it. At the same time Turkey was allowed to invade Syria in the north eastern Aleppo governate to prevent a connection of Kurdish areas in the north-east and north-west of Syria. The probably U.S. instigated putsch attempt against the Turkish government contributed to this change of alliances. Turkey decided to work with Russia and Iran to end the Syrian crisis (and to get as much out of it as possible.)

Before Christmas Erdogan met with Putin followed by a meeting of the Russian, Turkish and Iranian foreign and defense ministers. They decided to initiate peace talks:

Turkey said it will facilitate contacts between Syria’s government and opposition groups in preparation for peace talks organized together with Russia and Iran that aim to reach a nationwide cease-fire as the first step to ending an almost six-year civil war.
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Russia, Turkey and Iran agreed in Moscow last week to seek a truce in Syria and hold peace talks in the Kazakh capital, Astana, in a joint approach that sidelines the U.S.

Turkey today leaked further details of the talks (again providing that it is not trustworthy):

Citing anonymous sources, reports said that the two sides have reached agreement on a draft plan for the implementation of a nationwide ceasefire in Syria, with the aim to extend the ceasefire deal in Aleppo throughout the country.
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The sources said that Turkey and Russia will aim to ensure that the ceasefire takes effect starting Wednesday night. Later on, Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said that the deal could be reached at any moment soon and reiterated that Turkey is in favor of a political solution.
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Terrorist organizations will be excluded from the ceasefire, the sources added.

Among lots of rumors, leaked by interested sides, the parameters that evolve seem to be the following:

  • a ceasefire will be called (and broken here and there) starting tomorrow night;
  • Turkey will guarantee for the "moderate rebels" it controls while Russia will guarantee for the Syrian government forces and their allies;
  • al-Qaeda, ISIS, the Kurdish YPG and the areas in which these groups are dominant are excluded from the ceasefire;
  • Ahrar al Sham, which is internally split about joining al-Qaeda, will have to decide its position;
  • all parties of the deal commit to fight the above terrorists (or at least not to hinder others from doing it);
  • talks, including the above groups, will begin in Astana in mid January;

There are several points that are unclear and left to further negotiations:

  • Turkey (officially) still wants Assad to go while Syria and Iran insist that he stays, Russia does not care about this point;
  • Syria insists that "rebel" held areas around Damascus are not included in the deal and will continue to clean them up; "moderate rebels" insist that the areas must be included;
  • Turkey will want future "influence" zones in Syria that other will no want to give to it.

Neither the Syrian government nor Iran has yet officially agreed to the outlined deal. Some "moderate rebel" groups agreed to it while others (Ahrar) claim they have not yet been asked. Russia says the deal is still not sealed and needs more work.

While the deal is unfinished there is already some movement on the ground that shows that it is likely real:

  • ten "moderate rebel" groups in north-Syria (without Ahrar al-Sham) have started negotiations to unite to present a common position;
  • Kurdish YPG forces stationed in the Aleppo city neighborhood of Sheikh Maqsoud began leaving the city and are heading to the Kurdish enclave of Afrin in north-wast Syria;
  • Ahrar al Sham has attacked and detained forces of certain "moderate rebel" groups that helped Turkey in its invasion against Kurds and ISIS in the eastern Aleppo governate.

The talks and ceasefires will be on and off throughout the next months. All parties will try to gain the maximum for their side. At times the negotiations will take place on the battle field. But unlike the U.S. which would not deliver on its promises but kept supporting every "rebel" offense, Turkey can and likely will likely deliver. It has no where else to go. It also has the power to close its borders and to deny its "rebels" as well as al-Qaeda the resupplies needed for continued fighting.

Syria and its allies are in a military superior position and will have to keep on the pressure, especially on the al-Qaeda controlled Idleb region, to press the other parties to stick to a deal.

The real significance of the deal is that it is excluding the U.S. and EU from these talks. That has not happened on a Middle East issue for a long time. The U.S. has overreached with Secretary of State Kerry promising this and that but never delivering on his words. The U.S. lost the game. The Obama administration is miffed and will certainly try to throw in some spoilers and to make it as difficult as possible for the upcoming Trump administration to change course.

It is still a long way to peace in Syria but the perspective is now more promising than it has been for a long time.

Posted by b at 11:07 AM | Comments (82)

December 27, 2016

Syria Roundup: Aleppo Liberated - Turkey's Problems Increase

As planned by the Russian forces the liberation of east-Aleppo was completed before Christmas. There are no longer beheadings by Takfiris in East-Aleppo. Instead a Christmas mass could be held in the damaged Elias Cathedral in the Old City in east-Aleppo.


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A total of about 88,000 people left the area during the evacuation of east-Aleppo. According to the International Committee of the Red Cross some 35,000 (13,000 militants and their immediate families) left to al-Qaeda held areas in Idleb governate. The UN Humanitarian Relief Organization found that 54,000 entered the government held west Aleppo.

Cont. reading: Syria Roundup: Aleppo Liberated - Turkey's Problems Increase

Posted by b at 02:01 PM | Comments (84)

 
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