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21 December 2016


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A good response to that is pointing out Trump won 30 of the popular vote contests, and since the US is a Federal Republic that is what counts. The electoral college is actually a democratic mechanism because it distributes limits the scale of democracy geographically, and thus prevents discrete concentrations of citizens permanently lording it over their peers.

mike allen

Christmas preparations in al-Qosh, Assyrian town north of Mosul:


English Outsider

Dodgy site. Full of stuff about some "Anglo-Zionist" conspiracy that I don't believe a word of - all I see from where I am is the usual chancers, of whatever stripe, grabbing what they can abroad and using their pull with their various governments to help them along - but it's a site that was invaluable in the early days of the Ukrainian shambles and that still comes up with instructive articles.

This is one such article. The interviewee is perhaps giving a partial or carefully constructed view but behind that there's a run-down of how some Lebanese Christians see their future.

Does the article also illustrate a general tendency becoming apparent in the ME?

We’re told that at first the Sykes-Picot or colonial creations were for those who lived in the ME little more than lines on a map. Under the pressure of continual interference from outside are those artificial creations becoming nations in their own right? We hear for example a little less of people identifying themselves as Alawi or Shia or Sunni and a little more of them identifying themselves as just Syrians. Perhaps this is for propaganda purposes but such propaganda can turn into reality. There is a recognition among some of those groups subject to outside pressure that unless they band together to defend themselves, irrespective of their fiercely held local creeds or loyalties, they are going to be steam-rollered out of existence.

Is that analogous to the process the Palestinians underwent? Maybe the Israeli apologists are right and there was originally little national consciousness among the Palestinians; but under the pressure of expulsion and dispossession a nation coalesced. It is sometimes claimed that Palestinian nationalism was born in the terrorist training camps of Algeria but it might be more accurate to say that it was a survival response; that if they didn't hang together, no matter how ineffectually to date, they were all for a surety going to hang separately.

There is therefore a hope that the Arabs might find out that it's a mug's game allowing their local animosities to be played on by outside forces for the benefit of those outside forces. As in the Ukraine, that way lies impoverishment, insecurity, and maybe ultimate disintegration. The survival of their cherished local creeds and communities might now depend on the survival of those originally artificial national units imposed on them in colonial times.

Recently Israeli politicians and soldiers have made it clear that for the sake of their own security they'd rather see Syria under attack than see it united and at peace. That fits with what we in the West generally are doing in the ME. "Shatter and rule" does seem to be our method of choice for keeping the ME as a whole incapable of resisting whatever schemes we have in mind for it. Is there, among those here who are in touch with political currents in the ME, any sense that the various peoples there are beginning to realise that they are in truth being played for mugs; and that the luxury of internecine strife, or even at times of using Western intervention to give them an edge in that strife, is a luxury they can no longer afford if autonomy or even survival is to be their aim?


It is worth noting that the Armenian community is celebrating even though it is not their Christmas, which actually is sometime in January. It has been traditional in recent decades for Christians in some Arab countries to celebrate Christmas according to the Orthodox or Western calendar in alternate years so everyone can get a day off work and enjoy the event together. Ditto for Easter.

Christmas tidings to all of them. jcg

The Beaver


A bit OT:


The following-named Career Members of the Senior Foreign Service of the Department of State for the personal rank of Career Ambassador in recognition of especially distinguished service over a sustained period

So she is there to stay - good thing HRC didn't win or else she would have been the next Samantha Power at the UN or deputy of whomever would have been nominated .

Babak Makkinejad


Another plan from another Western Analyst for Syria:



New year obviously


If any Californians or New Yorkers feel disenfranchised by the electoral college they can do something about it for the next round. They can start moving to Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma......


"Trump wants to collaborate with Russia—which only works if Syria is broken up into autonomous zones."

Babak, I think this neocon avid supporter of Iraq war O' Hanlon, a self declared ME analyst did not bother to read Moscow Declaration just announced by Russia, Iran and Nato ally Turkey, one major in that declaration is that the 3 countries guarantee Syria' integrity, and unity as a single country. but this guy still think we should make Russia to agree to break up syria. By the way this is the same guy, after his recommendation to invade Iraq failed, he wanted to brake Iraq to three countries.

"The three countries agreed to take on the role of guarantors to facilitate the process preserving the territorial integrity of Syria and spreading the cessation of hostilities to all parts of the country. Other states are welcome to join. "


Aleppo evacuation by the numbers:

110,000 civilians evacuated to government-held areas.

28,000 rode the buses to Idlib, including 2823 local and 1400 foreign jihadists.

2700 jihadists surrendered.

456 jihadists were captured while wearing women's clothes.



I recommend Michael O'Hanlon to at least read yesterday' report by WP


"Lavrov then declared that there was now a consensus that regime change should not be the priority in Syria, and he read a joint declaration by the three foreign ministers that affirmed a dedication to Syrian sovereignty, territorial integrity, opposition to terrorism and commitment to a secular and pluralistic Syrian political structure. There was no mention about the fate of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad."

“Yesterday’s declaration is quite shocking. It’s diametrically opposite to what Turkey has been arguing vis-a-vis Syria since 2011,” said Erdemir. “This is basically Turkey coming to accept Assad.”

Chris Chuba

The best refutation of O'Hanlon's op-ed that Assad has too much blood on his hand to be be considered legitimate to by the people to rule Syria is the recent liberation of Aleppo. There were 100,000 civilians in the eastern Aleppo pocket and about 85,000 opted to stay in govt held territory. Upon reading more articles, I found that the 25,000 who were bused out included both people who stayed in and left govt held areas.

"All-in-all, tens of thousands of civilians were safely transported to government and militant-held areas inside the provincial capital, ending the two month long humanitarian crisis that was at the forefront of many media networks."

Chris Chuba

double tap strikes against the White Helmets
After the "60 Minutes" story, I decided to look for videos to see if any double tap strikes were actually recorded. After all, since the White Helmets constantly record their rescues and if this is a common SAA tactic, having a guy stand off and record these atrocities is an obvious thing to do. I mean they know where Assad is going to strike.

Here is what I found, has anyone else searched for these events?
1. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gYaArAnkvQ
- This is a double tap strike by the Saudis against the Yemenis. This was the most convincing video of the lot. The explosion was loud, and off camera, and did not have a staged feel to it but you be the judge.

2. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/double-tap-air-strike-yemen-funeral-saudi-coalition-video-a7353206.html
- A claimed double strike by the Saudis against the Yemeni funeral procession. I say claimed because it wasn't obvious that there were rescue workers there when the bomb hit but it looked like a real bomb strike.

3. http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/video-what-double-tap-strike-994234738
- An infomercial by the White Helmets, if I had any reservations that they were anything other than Flying Monkeys unleashed by the Neocons this pretty much erased it (Wizard of Oz reference).

4. https://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2016/4-march-moment-doubletap-saa-strike-on-douma-injuring-2-scd
- Claimed to be a double tap against the White Helmets. Possibly a real airstrike but no evidence that it was a double tap.

My google search found a gazillion stories about double taps against White Helmets but not video recordings of actual attacks.

I think that differentiating between a true double tap and a case of a plane just making another approach because it's his job and he doesn't know there are rescue workers down there is a little sketchy. In any case, if anyone else has any more material or thoughts on this subject please let me know. I am just exploring this topic, not claiming to be an expert.



Michael O'Hanlon in my opinion is a trumped up budget analyst. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I agree, the fellow has completely taken leave of his senses.

I wonder, does one go to Princeton University to become stupid or is that a requirement before admission?

Babak Makkinejad

I just posted that piece to share with others what passes as analysis in the United States; and by implication, in the Fortress West.

Where do they get these people and the man is not a complete imbecile; he even knows French and has Peace Corp experience?

I met several Peace Corp volunteers decades ago and none of them where anything like this MICHAEL O’HANLON.

Babak Makkinejad

I hope that Turkish leaders have altered course in earnest.


For Chris Chuba:

Most of the video that I've seen of bomb strikes in Syria have been single bomb drops. If precision munitions are used, one bomb might be enough. If iron bombs are used, multiple passed would be the norm for the aircraft with the air controller adjusting the pilot between drops. The only times that I would have a pilot "ripple all" would be if he only had fuel for one pass or the situation on the ground was so dire that I hoped to shock the enemy. In the later case I'd only ripple all if I had additional aircraft on station to sustain the attack.

I did watch the video of the Saudi attack in Yemen. That appeared to be precision munitions with the 2d strike targeting emergency personnel.


Graphic depiction of Pundita watching US Syria policy unfold:


Come to think of it, defense policy under the Borg should properly be called "Bates Motel School."

Also, the Guardian reports today on former UK Amb. to Syria Peter Ford's most recent slam on British policy in Syria. It's a joy to behold.


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