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05 May 2017

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pmr9

I

From this report in the Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/may/04/conservatives-seek-fresh-commons-vote-after-election-to-bomb-syria) it appears that a "Whitehall source" expects "Assad" to launch another chemical attack after the UK general election on 8 June, when it is expected that an increased Conservative majority will ensure that the House of Commons will vote for war with Syria.

Ambassador Yakovlenko understands the situation perfectly (http://www.rusemb.org.uk/ambarticles/522):-
It has to be borne in mind that the British Foreign Secretary recently hypothesized on joining another US action in Syria in response to another chemical incident, which means that an order for it has already been placed.

J

Colonel,

Here is a hypothetical 'escalation' between NATO and Russia over 'errors/mistakes' from NATO forces that starts the tumbling of the dominoes opening Pandora's box.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2VZ3LGfSMhA&feature=youtu.be
Nuclear Attack Emergency Broadcast - Live Breaking News from London (fiction)

jld

This is CRIMINALLY STUPID and the whole channel of Ben Marking is full of such "fiction" videos.
Not only this may be confusing to many idiots but excerpts may be made wich would support even more damaging disinformation.
I don't buy at all the (supposed?) well meaning intent of warning about dangerous events.


Annem

It looks like this SAA advance on Deir ez Zor stands to complicate the effort of US-Saudi-Jordanian-backed Syrian forces to take Zor from the south. Will this mean a race to get there first?

kooshy

Colonel, Russia has declared that the designated safe zones will be no fly zones to US and her coalition, as well as Syrian air force, as a result one can believe this designation was pre arranged and agreed by US, otherwise the real mother of all wars could have started. What I can’t understand why Turkey agreed to this arrangement, this safe zones means Erdo’ air force no longer can bomb the Kurds, do you think that’s why US agreed, to prevent Turkey to attack Kurds? In mean time Israel can still attack Syrian troops and allies?

kooshy

Missed the related link

"Syria’s Skies Will Be Mostly Off Limits to U.S. and Allied Planes, Russia Says"
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/05/world/middleeast/syria-deescalation-zones-russia-iran-turkey.html?_r=0

b

The nice thing with this de-escalation ploy is that Turkey is now integrated on the side of Syria, Iran and Russia. Erdogan is really pissed at the U.S. support for the YPG/PKK. He again changed sides (but given it is Erdokhan he may change yet again later on.)

Erdogan also stopped the U.S. NGO meddling in Idleb. One wonders how much he will restrict the weapon flow. He can hardly let it run openly while making nice again with Putin.

The Russian told U.S. airplanes to stay out of the new "no-fly" de-escalation zones. They will have to take down a U.S. drone or two to make that point stick.

The al-Qaeda rebels will now sit in those areas and cook in their own juice. They will fight each other. Many will leave to their home countries or Europe. Those who will attack SAA lines will get hammered by the Russian/Syrian airforce.

The next dangerous moment may come when the SAA makes a run to Deir Ezzor and the Pentagon tries to cut that off by moving from Jordan north towards Raqqa. One hopes that the Russian MoD has some plans on how to react to such a provocation.

Stumpy

Colonel,

Response from State:

The United States was represented at the Astana conference by Acting Assistant Secretary Stuart Jones. We were not a direct participant in the negotiations and are not, at this point, a party to the agreement.

https://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2017/05/270647.htm

Sounds like a non-committal rollover with a poke at Iran, although the tone towards Russia somewhat conciliatory. Trump looking forward to good times with Putin ahead. I imagine that the Pentagon has plans, regardless.

Somewhat related, Clausewitz's term "friction":

Army Gen. Raymond Thomas, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, called the rate at which special operations forces are being deployed “unsustainable” and said the growing reliance of the U.S. military on its elite troops could produce a dangerous strain.

The WH relies on Special Ops to do the dirty work off-screen while the brass works the fatigue issue to angle for increased conventional forces, my read.

There must be a distinction between aid as force multipliers vs. free weapons and money. You have to have a force to multiply before that model works, methinks.

Dmcna

This is a gift for President Trump. Having consistently called for such safe zones he can easily agree and get back on a more sensible course than sending missiles and raising conflict with President Putin. The two seem to be co-operating quite well already on keeping Turkey out of parts of northern Syria. So all the rebels will be neatly contained by international monitors, freeing up SAA to deal with other problems until the question again becomes separating the jihadis. This time separating the jihadis in the deconfliction zones one at a time. What will the Saudis have to say to President Trump?

Marko

I hope this works but I don't trust Erdogan one bit. He can happily sign on to the deal and then blow the whole thing up with another blockbuster sarin action film.

I doubt that Putin and Lavrov trust him either , so at least they should be on high alert for foul play.

Babak Makkinejad

Russians offered a fig leaf to Erdogan too, helping him to climb down from his perch.

turcopolier

b

You have agreed with me twice now. feeling all right? pl

Account Deleted

Looks like Kurds are outside all 4 zones, so Turkey would not be constrained by them. Has anyone found a better map than this btw?
http://syria.liveuamap.com/en/2017/5-may-russian-ministry-of-defense-map-of-deconflicting-zones

mauisurfer

Just how advanced are Russian air defenses? Did most of the USA tomahawk missiles fired at Syria end up in the Med? Is that what the USA attack was really about, testing the Russian defenses? This Greek writer/politician seems to think so.
quote
The Pentagon insists that all the Tomahawk missiles found their target. However, this is refuted not only by the images that the Pentagon itself released, but also by the announcements of the Russian Ministry of Defence that only twenty three Tomahawks found their target. What happened to the rest? They certainly did not hit other targets: neither the Pentagon claims such a thing, and nor have the Syrian authorities shown any craters created by Tomahawks, apart from those at the airport.
http://dissidentvoice.org/2017/05/what-are-they-hiding-about-the-usa-attack-on-syria/

Account Deleted

Relief of Deir Ezzor after 2+ year siege would be Hollywood gold - if only they were on 'our' side. Guess I'll have to watch the movie dubbed from Arabic or Russian when it does come out.

FkDahl

Is S400 the prize for the Turkish cooperation? Trust but verify most definitely applies to Turkish border control visavi jihadists

Kooshy

Now, this might be the leash Putin put around Erdo' neck, I suppose he still can bark as much as he wants, but with the income from gas pipe, it would be hard to wander too far of the front yard. Like the old Persian saying " Putin cuts off heads with cotton balls".

Gazprom to begin Turkish Stream construction in next few days
https://www.rt.com/business/387260-russia-gazprom-turkish-stream/

Tel

I think I mentioned before, they just don't have the resources for an all out attack on Idlib. Thus, if you cannot win outright the only other choice is to stabilize and negotiate a border.

It makes sense... they have been shipping Sunnis into Idlib and shipping everyone else out at the same time. They will draw a line in the sand I think.

Better to put those limited resources into cleaning up pockets of insurgency all over the place, reduce the number of active fronts to be fighting.

eakens

Yes, the second he thinks Assad might fold, he'll switch teams again. He's done it twice now.

Chris Chuba

I wonder what will come of this enormous reservoir of bad will that our Pentagon is building up in the eyes of the public regarding the Russians/Iran/Assad. If we really believed our own B.S. then how can we even suggest that we would ever work with these baby killing, terrorist, genocidal maniacs.

Six months ago, the Russians were mischievous imps, content with undermining our Democracy and targeting moderate rebels instead of ISIS. But now, according to our military, they are complicit in a chemical weapons attack on children, are protecting the lunatic who did it, and are arming the Taliban in Afghanistan to kill U.S. soldiers. This amounts to aiding Al Qaeda (actually phrased like that in Congressional testimony). Remember, I don't believe this but this is what our Generals are saying.

So yes, it's great that the Russians/Iranians are taking care of the facts on the ground but I wish the Russians would be more aggressive about countering this insane narrative. It is a waste of energy to counter all of the falsehoods but the WMD incident at Khan Shaykhun is something that they must pay attention too.

Does it matter that the U.S. public has been thoroughly propagandized? I think so, we just launched a bombing attack and the only question the MSM asked is why didn't we try to kill the Russians who were at the base along with the Syrians.

Valissa

Interestingly, retired diplomat MK Bhadrakumar has this to say about Stuart Jones being at the conference...

Trump warms to taking Putin’s help in Syria http://www.atimes.com/trump-revisits-pledge-take-putins-help-fighting-isis/
The US formally joined talks in Astana this week on the Syrian ceasefire. Its participation was substantive, at the ambassadorial level, with the talks attended by Stuart Jones, acting assistant secretary of state heading the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. He is a career diplomat and “Arabist” whose  previous assignments have been in Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey as well as a stint in the State Department’s Eurasian Bureau (dealing with Russia.)

What lends enchantment to this scenario is that in Astana, Jones was  sitting across the negotiating table from Iranian diplomats. Evidently, Trump is wading into the Syrian whirlpool. This is one thing.

Second, Trump intends to take a hands-on role. He and Putin tasked their foreign ministers to brief them “promptly” on “any progress achieved” on Syria. Tillerson and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will meet as early as next week on the sidelines of the Arctic Council’s ministerial meeting in Fairbanks, Alaska, on May 10 and 11.

Most important, Trump and Putin are hopeful of a “personal meeting” during the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7-8.
Clearly, all this marks a defining moment. Trump is revisiting his campaign pledge to forge a special relationship with Russia – and Putin in particular – to defeat the terrorist groups in the Middle East and bring peace to Syria.

... [OTOH] There isn’t much hope left in Moscow of reaching a grand bargain with Trump, given the pervasive Russophobia in the US as well as the signs that the Trump administration is going “mainstream”. Within Trump’s team, the military brass is visibly in the driver’s seat on foreign-policy issues and the Pentagon harbors an enduring hostility toward Russia and is quite comfortable with an adversarial relationship with Moscow.
-----------

Here's a related MKB post... Trump’s ‘America First’ reappears centre stage http://blogs.rediff.com/mkbhadrakumar/2017/05/04/trumps-america-first-reappears-centre-stage/
Quietly but insistently, Tillerson also put on the table Trump’s determination to stabilise and improve the US’ relations with Russia. No doubt, it is a problematic relationship but Tillerson flagged that a comprehensive US-Russia engagement on the range of issues, including intractable issues, will be commencing shortly. Of course, Tillerson spoke cautiously – as if Senator John McCain might have been eavesdropping — but he has re-introduced Trump’s new thinking over the US-Russia relationship, the lurking danger notwithstanding that the very thought of normalization with Russia might raise dust in the Beltway all over again. Simply put, Trump seems to be estimating that the high tide of Russophobia is behind him.

Right at the outset of his remarks, Tillerson underlined that the US policies will not be driven by “exceptionalism”. Nor will they be ideology-driven. He expounded that values matter – democracy, human rights, etc. – but they are not to be mixed up with foreign policy. “I think it’s really important that all of us understand the difference between policy and values.” Plainly put, there is no regime-change agenda, no interest in humanitarian interventions, no intentions to be a global policeman.
---------------

If MKB is correct in his interpretations, then it looks like Trump has not yet been fully assimilated and is still trying to accomplish some of the foreign policy goals he campaigned on.

plantman

So many questions....

It appears that someone on this site was right in saying that the SAA was spread too thin (I think it was the Colonel?) This gives loyalist forces the chance tp consolidate and scramble for deir Ezzor. But why Deir Ezzor before Idlib? Does Putin suspect that Mattis and McMaster will thrust ntwrd with Jordanian troops on the border??

And who is advising Trump on the details of the safe zones?
McMaster?

If so, then the US might look for a way to put the kibosh on the deal mainly because McMaster might already have plans for E Syria. (Occupation?) Or is that too far fetched?

In any event, this is riveting to follow in real time.

Game on!

johnf

Perhaps the celebrations are too early:

b US Dismisses Ban on Aircraft Over Syrian Safe Zones

http://news.antiwar.com/2017/05/05/us-dismisses-ban-on-aircraft-over-syrian-safe-zones/

The link to the story which antiwar.com bases this article on does not work, however.

J

It's not any different than some of the doomsday scenarios portrayed by several Hollywood movies. Theatrics, yes, fiction, yes, but anything is probable especially with soft-headed politicians. Each person can watch and reach their own conclusions without the need of an information gatekeeper.

IMO what is really Criminally Stupid is the British PM thinking that nuclear first strike is a viable option. Such errant thinking on the PM's part can unduly influence other soft-headed politicians who have never been in war and had to kill somebody, that nuclear first strikes are an ok thing.

IMO what is really Criminally Stupid is the continuation of NATO after the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and NATO's use today by armchair politicians who think they are generals to prod and poke unnecessarily at the Russian Bear, bringing the world closer to the brink of nuclear war than in all of mankind's history.

IMO what is really Criminally Stupid is that D.C. at the urging of soft-headed European politicians, continues to feed the hog-trough known as NATO and bring the globe closer to the brink of insanity. Which is not in U.S. interests.

IMO what is really Criminally Stupid is the lack of a formal alliance between the U.S. and Russia, as the security of the U.S. goes through Russia, and Russia's security goes through the U.S.. Such an alliance is in the interests of both nations.

We need more discourse regarding the insanity of nuclear confrontation, and the less information gatekeeping. The more discourse, the more common sense and outrage at the lunacy that is nuclear war which will split our planet in half.

If one doesn't like or agree with their videos, they don't have to watch them. I just thought it was some good food for thought.

LondonBob

Not really, the investigation into overspending on certain close seats in the last election are coming to conclusion in a matter of weeks. The various police forces are going to find against the Conservative Party resulting in by elections having to be held, wiping out the small Conservative majority. Given they hold a substantial lead in the polls they have decided to call a general election. Now this will result in a bigger majority giving the government a stronger hand in Brexit negotiations, and way down the list conceivably Syria.

Of course the Arab and Israeli lobbies remain as strong as ever, and unlike the people our politicians continue to desire to grandstand on the world's stage, however the reality is we have limited military and diplomatic resources to do anything. Bojo embarrassing himself a few weeks ago when demanding new sanctions on Russia, and the fact we have only managed to launched a handful of airstrikes on ISIS illustrates the reality our politicians and media won't acknowledge.

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