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Thanks to the BBC Propaganda Show, the Plausibility of the Door Handle Theory Just Plummeted to Freezing Point

By Rob Slane | The Blog Mire | November 25, 2018

Having now watched the rest of the BBC Panorama programme, Salisbury Nerve Agent Attack – the Inside Story, I have to say that I’m really very thankful. Thankful that after being subjected to an hour of what can only be described as relentless propaganda, half-baked truths, and fully-baked untruths, I have lived to tell the tale and emerged to come up for air.

One of the worst aspects of this programme was the fact that the BBC is surely well aware that large numbers of people have been sceptical about the Government and Metropolitan Police narrative from the start. Yet you wouldn’t know from the show that there was ever any room for doubt, and the number of questions that the nation’s public service broadcaster asked which might have represented the views of the many people who have had nagging doubts was less than one.

I want to make one big observation about the programme, which I believe pretty much destroys The Met’s narrative, but before I do here are 10 other points.

First: At one point the presenter, Jane Corbin, stated the following:

“In Salisbury, it takes two weeks of painstaking investigation for scientists and police to work out exactly how the Skripals came into contact with the Novichok.”

Dept Asst Commissioner Dean Haydon is then seen saying:

“To find the source of the Novichok, actually was our first breakthrough. We identified that it was Novichok on the front door the front door handle of their home address.”

This two week period makes little sense. From the moment it was known that Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey had been poisoned, it should have been very straightforward to start zeroing in on the location of the poisoning. The reason for this is that logically it could only have been in a place that both he and the Skripals had been. And according to Mr Bailey’s story, which was completely different than what many officials previously told us about his movements, this can only have been at the house (not even the bench according to his testimony, as he now apparently wasn’t there when the Skripals were). And so the house should have been locked down, with swabs taken as early as 6th March, and the location of the poison identified. But instead, we got two weeks of “it could be here, it could be there” — all in various places which couldn’t possibly have been the location because Mr Bailey hadn’t actually been to them.

Second: Despite the fact that the programme portrayed “Novichok” as “deadly,” “lethal,” “10X more toxic than any nerve agent created before or since,” “unique in its ability to poison individuals at quite low concentrations,” “the tiniest dose can be fatal,” there is of course the fact that it singularly failed to kill a 65-year-old, overweight diabetic, his daughter, and Mr Bailey. In order to get around this, Mrs Corbin interviewed one of the men who worked on the original Foliant (not “Novichok”) project, Vil Mirzyanov, who said:

“Maybe the dose was not high enough. Salisbury was rainy and muggy. Novichok breaks down in damp conditions, reducing its toxicity. It’s the Achilles Heel of Novichok.”

Perhaps it is the Achilles Heel of Novichok. But if it is, it is also the Achilles Heel of the whole premise of the Panorama programme, since it raises two vital questions: firstly, given that the English weather in general is often damp, and the weather conditions on that weekend in particular were very damp, how likely exactly do you think it is that professional assassins would place a substance that breaks down in damp conditions on an outside door handle? And secondly, if the substance had already broken down within an hour of its application, as The Met’s case relies on to explain how a deadly nerve agent didn’t kill, how exactly were the OPCW able to find traces of the toxic chemical which they described as high purity and with “almost complete absence of impurities,” nearly three weeks later after much rain, much snow, and much general dampness?

Third: I was struck by the fact that Mrs Corbin stood by the bed of Mr Skripal’s mother, and heard that clearly very distressed lady say that she just wanted to hear her son’s voice, and yet it did not appear to occur to Mrs Corbin to ask anyone in officialdom back home, “Why won’t you let the son talk to his mother?”

Fourth: Mrs Corbin claimed of Yulia Skripal that in her Reuters statement, she:

“appears in public, to deny continuing Russian claims that the Skripals have been abducted by the British.”

This is simply a falsehood. You can look at that video or the transcript and you will find no such statement from Yulia Skripal.

Fifth: The ex head of MI6, Sir John Sawers, who in the immortal words of Anne Widdecombe about Michael Howard, appears to have “something of the night” about him, stated the following:

“The GRU probably chose a time when she [Yulia] was coming here and would be in the house, because that would give them certainty that Sergei Skripal would be in the house as well. They weren’t targeting Yulia Skripal, but she was entirely dispensable.”

The first part of this statement may well win the prize for the most ridiculous statement of the whole programme. I’ll leave you to work out why. As for the second part, in the light of his comments, Sir John should explain the following: If it’s the case that the GRU carried out this reckless attempt on her father’s life, and viewed her as entirely dispensable, why is it that Yulia has, on numerous occasions, expressed a desire to go back to live in Russia? Has MI6 failed in its attempt to persuade her who was behind the poisoning and why this means she can never go back?

Sixth: A reconstruction of the alleged events on 4th March was shown, including the two suspects at Salisbury train station, followed by  the Wilton Road, and then on the bridge at Fisherton Street. This was accompanied by a comment from Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, who said:

“I don’t think they were expecting to be captured on CCTV in the way they have.”

Here, he was seemingly vying with Sir John for the title of silliest comment on the programme, since:

a) Britain is well known for being the CCTV capital of the world, and the GRU are likely to be aware of this, and

b) It’s not like Petrov and Boshirov made attempts not to be seen, but got caught all the same, as Mr Haydon’s comment implies. No, the most obvious point about the men in the footage is that at no point do they make any attempt to keep their identities hid from the cameras.

Seventh: Mr Haydon also made the following comment during the “reconstruction”:

“Past the petrol station, what the CCTV shows is the two suspects on the way to Christie Miller Road. On the way to the Skripals home.”

This is simply misleading. The CCTV does not show them “on their way to Christie Miller Road”. When you see the two men walking next to the garage, Christie Miller Road is roughly perpendicular to them, about 400-500 yards away. It is true that they might have crossed the road and gone up Canadian Avenue, and then onto Christie Miller Road, but this CCTV doesn’t show this, and no other evidence was presented to show that this is what they actually did. And so without any further evidence that they crossed the road to go to Christie Miller Road, it is simply misleading to say that it “shows them on the way to Christie Miller Road.”

What the CCTV does do, however, is almost certainly rule out one of the possible routes they might have taken to get to Christie Miller Road, which is to go through a passageway just past the Shell garage, which leads to Montgomery Gardens and then onto Christie Miller Road. To take this passage, they would have had to cross the road, and the easiest way of doing this would be to cross to a small island just opposite the garage. But as you can see from the footage, they are walking straight on, and there is no sign whatsoever of them crossing to this island. Though not conclusive, it makes it extremely doubtful that they were intending to, or ever did, walk through this passage.

I also have to say that if I was walking that way up Wilton Road (as I have done), and wanted to go up Canadian Avenue, I would cross at that small island, since it is by far the easiest way to get there.

Eighth: One of the more glaring things about the programme was who was missing. Although Mr Bailey’s appearance was something of a surprise, hardly any of the key witnesses at the bench were interviewed, nor was Charlie Rowley, who seems to have disappeared after his claim about the bottle he found being cellophane wrapped kind of muddled things up a bit. And then of course Yulia Skripal, who has been mysteriously silent since July, when she informed her cousin that she finally understood what had happened. And the biggest one of all — Sergei Skripal himself. Strangely, Mrs Corbin expressed no surprise that he has not been seen of or heard of during this whole saga, and she made no reasonable attempt to explain why she had not been given access to him for an interview.

Ninth: Mrs Corbin asserted the following:

“Within a few weeks, the investigative website, Bellingcat, reveals their [Petrov and Boshirov] true identities.”

The odd thing about this, however, is that in their latest statement released on 22nd November, The Met does not mention the identities Bellingcat has claimed for them. They still refer to the two as Petrov and Boshirov, and although they state that these are aliases, they make no mention of the names Chepiga and Mishkin. I find it odd that these identities have yet to be confirmed or denied officially, but even odder that the BBC went with Bellingcat and not the official investigators.

Tenth: Deputy Assistant Commissioner Haydon stated the following:

“My ambition remains to bring these two individuals, and anybody else involved in this attack to justice through the British Criminal Justice System. I will not give up.”

Very difficult to stop oneself bursting out laughing at this point. There was Mr Haydon, taking part in a programme that, with its cast iron claims of guilt against the two suspects making it absolutely impossible for a fair trial to ever take place, saying that his aim is to see justice done. Hmm!!!

Now to the big revelation in the programme — the one that made it worth watching. This was it, from Mrs Corbin, describing the reconstruction of the moment that the two suspects went to the house:

“The Skripals are at home, oblivious to what is happening right outside.”

Aha! So they were at home were they? Since this programme was put together with the assistance of The Metropolitan Police, we can therefore assume that it is their official position that the Skripals were at home at 12:00pm and following, before they left some time around 13:30 to go to the City Centre.

There are many interesting things about this, not least of which is that it’s the first time that we have been officially told where the Skripals were before they went into town. In the early days of the inquiry, a few appeals were made for information as to what the pair were doing that morning, before their car was seen driving into town at just after 13:30. But that timeline was never completed, and quietly forgotten after the last update, which was on 17th March (last time I looked, even this incomplete timeline was no longer on their website).

So why did the Met, for the first time, come out with this piece of information, and what is its significance?

On the first question, my hunch is that the answer is connected with Mr Skripal’s best friend, Ross Cassidy. Here’s an extract from an article that appeared in the Mail, just after the police released their timeline of the two suspects back in September:

“Police say Novichok was sprayed on to the front door handle of the Skripal’s house the following afternoon between midday and about 1pm. Sergei and Yulia became ill around three hours later.

But Mr Cassidy questions the police timeline. It is his understanding that Sergei and Yulia were at home until 1pm. And he said Mr Skripal’s ‘heightened state of awareness’ would have frustrated any attack in broad daylight.”

I believe that Mr Cassidy put a bit of a spanner in the works of the Met’s claims with this interview. As I stated back here:

“For the claims of the Metropolitan Police to be true, that these two men were the assassins and that they placed “Novichok” on Mr Skripal’s door handle, two things must be shown to be true:

Firstly, the Skripals must have been out between the hours of 12:10 and 13:30.

Secondly, the Skripals must have returned at some point between these two times.

Why so?

Firstly, if the Skripal’s were at home before 12:10, the claims collapse since firstly the “assassins” would almost certainly not have targeted them whilst they were at home (Mr Skripal’s garage was used as an office, and so the car would be in the drive), but more crucially both Sergei and Yulia could not have both touched the outside door handle.

Secondly, if the Skripals were out at 12:10, but did not return between then and 13:30, again the claims would be proven false since there would be no possible way that they could have touched the door handle.”

Yet because Mr Cassidy somehow knew that they were in between 12:00 and 13:00, the BBC could hardly come out on a programme going out to millions and say that they were not there at the time. Why, Mr Cassidy and perhaps some neighbours might have popped up to say that actually they were in. How embarrassing would that be?

To get around this, the BBC employed what you might call a little craft. Prior to the reconstruction section, Mrs Corbin made the following statement, after talking about Yulia leaving Moscow:

“In Salisbury, her father has no idea how much danger he is in.”

But this is yet another of the programme’s many deceptions. Numerous reports stated that in the weeks prior to the incident, Mr Skripal began to get very nervous and to even change his routine. Apparently, he very much knew that he was in danger, and we can see this very clearly by once again turning to the interview with Ross Cassidy:

“Sergei was very apprehensive. It was as though he knew something was up. Had he been tipped off or heard that things were moving against him back in Russia? One thing is for sure. He was unusually twitchy. He was spooked …

Something had spooked Sergei in the weeks prior to the attack. He was twitchy, I don’t know why, and he even changed his mobile phone.”

You might say the precise timings [about when the alleged door handle daubing took place] don’t matter. But they do matter because they don’t currently make sense.’”

He’s dead right, they don’t make sense. All the more so when you consider what he had to say about the possibility of a daylight assassination with the Skripals at home:

“However, I was surprised that they said the Novichok was placed on the Sunday lunchtime. I have always thought it was placed on the Saturday afternoon when we were collecting Yulia from Heathrow, or even Saturday night. These guys are professional assassins. It would have been far too brazen for them to have walked down a dead-end cul-de-sac in broad daylight on a Sunday lunchtime. Sergei’s house faces up the cul-de-sac. He had a converted garage that he used as his office — this gives a full view of the street. Almost always, Sergei used to open the door to us before we had chance to knock. Whenever we visited, he’d see us approaching [my emphasis].”

So even under normal circumstances, because of the position of the house, Mr Skripal would see people approaching. But factor in that Mr Skripal was “very apprehensive,” “unusually twitchy,” “spooked,” “knew something was up,” and “even changed his mobile phone,” and now ask yourself these three questions:

1. What are the chances that two people could have walked up to Mr Skripal’s house, in broad daylight, gone right up to the door, whilst the “twitchy” Mr Skripal and his daughter were inside, and sprayed a chemical on the handle, without being noticed?

2. What are the chances that two highly trained GRU assassins would walk up to a door in broad daylight, with people inside the house, and the car in the drive, and spray a chemical which breaks down in damp conditions, onto the door handle in damp conditions, in order to try to kill one of the occupants (apart from anything, the driver car door handle would have been far more targeted)?

3. And if either of these ridiculously implausible scenarios had hypothetically happened, what are the chances that both of them would have come out of the house and touched the door handle, in order to have got said chemical on their hands?

This, in my view, is the significance of the admission, for the very first time, that the Skripals were at home when the suspects were alleged to have done their deed. This was the real big takeaway from this programme. What it does is effectively relegates the door handle theory to the realm of “crackpot conspiracy theories not to be believed by rational people”. The chances of it happening were already low, given that the Skripals went for a drive, a duck feed, a meal and a drink after apparently becoming contaminated. I would say that, thanks to this BBC propaganda show, its plausibility as an explanation just plummeted even further, all the way to freezing point.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Fake News, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment

Russian MoD Confirms Chlorine Used in Aleppo Attack, Dispatches Army Chem Team

Sputnik – 25.11.2018

MOSCOW – Russian military chemists arrived in the Syrian city of Aleppo, at which militants fired shells filled with poisonous agents on Saturday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Sunday.

“Groups from the observation posts of the radiation, chemical and biological protection units with special equipment stationed in Syria arrived to the area of shelling urgently. They work with the injured taken to medical institutions, monitor the situation in the area where the militants used poisonous substances,” Konashenkov said.

The symptoms of those injured shows that most likely, the shells had been filled with chlorine, he added.

“According to preliminary confirmed data, in particular, by the symptoms of poisoned victims, the shells that were fired at residential areas of Aleppo had been filled with chlorine,” the spokesman said.

He stressed that earlier the Russian side had drawn attention to the fact that the White Helmets organization had been trying to organize provocations using chemical agents in the demilitarized zone around Idlib to accuse government forces of using chemical weapons against the local population.

“It is clear that the White Helmets are directly connected with terrorist organizations operating in Syria, and in particular, in the Idlib de-escalation zone,” he said.

Russian specialists conduct a thorough monitoring of the situation around the Idlib de-escalation zone, for which the Turkish side is responsible, Konashenkov said.

According to the information of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Syrian reconciliation, at 21.50 on Saturday, terrorist groups located in the Idlib de-escalation zone fired 120-millimeter shells at the northwestern districts of Aleppo from the southeastern part of the demilitarized zone (near the village of Al-Buraykat, controlled by the militants of Hayat Tahrir Ash-Sham, former Nusra Front).

Shells filled with poisonous substances exploded in the area of Nile Street in the quarter of Al-Khalidia.

“As a result of the shelling, 46 people, including 8 children, received a chemical damage. All the victims were taken to medical institutions of the city of Aleppo, where they received medical assistance,” Konashenkov said.

Earlier, Konashenkov reported that six special radiation, chemical and biological reconnaissance vehicles had been deployed to Russian observation posts in the immediate vicinity of the demilitarized zone in the province of Idlib, which would regularly carry out an assessment of the radiation, chemical and biological conditions.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | , | 2 Comments

Aleppo Governor Says Chlorine Attack Proves Militants Possess Chemical Weapons

Sputnik – 25.11.2018

DAMASCUS – The governor of the Syrian province of Aleppo, Hussein Diyab, reported an increase in the number of injured civilians in the attack by militants with chlorine-filled shells, saying that this is confirmation of the possession of chemical weapons by terrorists.

“The terrorists’ missiles contained poisonous gases, which proves that the terrorists possess chemical weapons,” the governor said, as quoted by Al Ekhbariya broadcaster, when he arrived at the ar-Razi hospital where the victims were hospitalized.

On Saturday, militants from terrorist groups fired shells at neighborhoods of al-Khalidiye and Al Zahraa as well as the Nile Street. At least four children were hospitalized with asphyxiation and other symptoms typical for poisoning.

The head of the health department of the Syrian city of Aleppo, Ziad Haj Taha, said Saturday that 50 residents of the city were injured in the attack by militants with chlorine-filled shells at the city’s residential areas.

“Of those injured, 25 were hospitalized to ar-Razi hospital, 25 to Aleppo University Hospital. Ambulance services continue to provide assistance to victims of poison gas use by terrorist groups, presumably chlorine,” Taha said.

Meanwhile, the number of victims with poisoning symptoms has reached 55, local media reported Sunday.

The city of Aleppo was liberated by the Syrian government troops from militant and terror groups in 2016 but militants continue to shell the city from their positions in Aleppo’s suburbs.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | War Crimes | | Leave a comment

Haneyya: We will confront deal of the century

Palestine Information Center – November 24, 2018

GAZA – Head of Hamas’s political bureau Ismail Haneyya has affirmed that his Movement will not allow the deal of the century to be implemented and will use armed resistance to prevent it.

Haneyya made his remarks in a televised speech during the 32nd Islamic Unity Conference that kicked off on Saturday in Tehran.

“We want to build a strong and strategic alliance that brings together all the forces to face the challenges surrounding the Palestinian cause,” Haneyya said.

He stressed that the Palestinian people have open options to defend their holy sites and stand like “an impenetrable dam” against any attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause.

The Hamas official also underlined that all forms of resistance would remain his Movement’s strategic choice.

“We have one compass pointing towards the liberation of the land and the establishment of the Palestinian state, and every party sharing this goal with us is our ally,” he added.

He called on the organizers of the conference to adopt an Islamic strategy to confront Israeli schemes, strengthen the Palestinians’ steadfastness in Jerusalem and protect the Aqsa Mosque against Judaization.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 8 Comments

The Rehabilitation of Robert Mueller

By Kit Knightly | OffGuardian | November 24, 2018

The “Resistance” – the loose affiliation of liberals, progressives and neo-conservatives dedicated to opposing Donald Trump – is NOT a grass-roots movement. They don’t speak for the everyman or the poor or the oppressed. They are a distraction, nothing more. A parlor game. The face to Trump’s heel.

The Resistance is the voice of the Deep State – Pro-war, pro-globalisation, pro-Imperialism. It just hides its true face behind a mask of “progressive values”. They prove this with their own actions – opposing Trump’s moves toward peace with North Korea and finding common ground with Russia.

In fact, though the resistance lives to criticize the Trump administration, they have been notably quiet – even in favour of – three key issues: The bombing of Syria, the tearing up of the INF treaty and the prosecution of Julian Assange.

They tell us, in clear voices, who they are and what they want and millions of people refuse to listen. So totally brain-washed by the “Orange Man Bad” hysteria, that they will side with anyone hitting the same talking points, spouting the right buzzwords, using the same hashtags.

This process has contrived to turn hard-line, inveterate warmongers into a pantheon of “liberal” heroes. John “bomb bomb Iran” McCain was mourned across the media as if he were a champion of civil rights, while Bill Kristol and his ilk are suddenly regular guests on notionally “liberal” channels.

… and Robert Mueller receives a glowing write-up in the Guardian, being praised as “America’s straightest arrow”.

The painful prose paints a blurry picture of Mueller. Slapping ounces of vaseline onto the lens of reality. It praises his hair and his clothes and his 35 dollar watch. It declares him a soldier “forged in combat”, regaling us with tales of the bravery of Mueller’s marine regiment – “The Magnificent Bastards”.

Vietnam is reduced to a movie set – nothing but a backdrop for Mueller’s courage under fire. He won a bronze star, you know. Apparently while “The Magnificent Bastards” strode around the Vietnamese jungle, burning villages down and watching the napalm fall from the sky, a couple of angry farmers shot back and Mueller was wounded.

Taking a bullet in the leg from a terrified peasant who just wants you to sod off out of his country will always win you medals, but it shouldn’t.

Voluntarily signing on to enforce Imperial foreign policy in a war of conquest will always have the media paint you as a hero, but it shouldn’t.

What flaws the author does ascribe to Mueller are those we all happily admit to having ourselves. He’s a “micromanager” and he’s “too tough”.

Yes, and I’m sure he works himself too hard and doesn’t suffer fools gladly and always speaks his mind as well.

Read the column if you want, but I’d suggest not eating for a few hours first. A more nauseating panegyric I have not witnessed, at least since Barack Obama left office.

Far more telling than what it does say… is what it does not say. It mentions Mueller’s role as head of the FBI during the launch of the “war on terror”, but doesn’t go into any of the abuse of human rights that accompanied (and still accompanies) the increasingly authoritarian powers granted to US intelligence agencies by the Patriot Act.

Let’s be clear: Mueller’s FBI was complicit in rendition, torture, Gitmo. All of it.

Given that, it’s rather unsurprising that the article doesn’t mention the word “Iraq” once. A breath-taking omission, considering Mueller’s testimony in front of congress played a key role in spreading the lie of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction”:

It doesn’t matter how many Vietnamese peasants took pot-shots at him, it doesn’t matter how tidy his hair is, or how cheap his watch. It doesn’t matter if he looks like Cooper or speaks like Eastwood or walks like Wayne. He is a proven liar – a man culpable in the greatest crime of the 21st century. He is, and always will be, a servant of the Deep State.

A proven liar. A proven killer. An Imperialist. A criminal.

Is this the stuff of which political heroes should be made?

Only in “the Resistance”.

Obviously, Trump’s administration is dangerous – it still stokes warlike approaches to Iran and Russia. It has directly threatened Venezuela and Cuba. But you can’t fight the right-hand of the Deep State by clasping the left. They all join in the middle. They’re the same monster.

Anti-Trumpers, all over the world, need to take a good look at WHO they’re fighting alongside, and ask themselves WHAT they are fighting for.

Kit Knightly is co-editor of OffGuardian. The Guardian banned him from commenting. Twice. He used to write for fun, but now he’s forced to out of a near-permanent sense of outrage.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | 12 Comments

US creates new facts on the ground in Syria

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | November 24, 2018

The Trump administration is making a determined effort to engage with Turkey, which used to be the anchor sheet of American regional strategies in the Middle East for several decades. Without a robust partnership with Turkey, US policies remain ineffectual on several regional fronts – ranging from the Black Sea and Eastern Mediterranean to post-conflict Syria, Iran oil sanctions and Gulf security — and even Khashoggi affair.

Turkey has a long list of grievances – real, feigned or imaginary. But President Trump senses that Turkish president Erdogan prioritizes two core issues – demand that a) Washington should extradite his arch political rival Islamist preacher Fetullah Gulen (who he alleges plotted the failed coup against him in 2016); and, b) that the so-called Halkbank case in a Manhattan court should be wound up.

Trump has lately signaled that he is acting on both issues. Gulen is a tough call for Trump insofar as he has been an “asset” of the CIA. The Halkbank file may be relatively easy to handle.

(Fetullah Gulen’s ‘retreat center’ in Pennsylvania)

In turn, Erdogan is holding the trump card in the Khashoggi affair, which has potential to undermine the US’ grand Middle East strategies. A top Saudi establishment commentator Abdulrahman Al-Rashed wrote in the Saudi daily Asharq Al-Awsat, “Turkey has been using the (Khashoggi) crime to push Trump to make concessions to release a convicted Turkish banker or hand over an opposition figure in exchange of stopping its campaign against Saudi Arabia.” Clearly, Trump expects Erdogan to stop fueling the Khashoggi affair.

Erdogan has now let it be known that he is open to meeting with the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Argentina on November 30.

However, the Turkish-American engagement has a much bigger backdrop — Syrian conflict. How far the tango over Khashoggi helped US to address the Syrian situation is hard to tell, but American diplomacy has a way of juggling several balls. In particular, the Pentagon’s alliance with Syrian Kurdish groups worries Turkey and Erdogan has been threatening to move against them.

Now, the US has come up with an innovative idea to work with Turkish military apropos any terrorist threats from Syria. Two days ago, US defence Secretary James Mattis unveiled the idea with disarming simplicity during an interaction with the media:

“Turkey is a NATO ally and they have legitimate concerns about terror threats… from Assad’s Syria… And Turkey has a lot of reasons for concerns, being the NATO country with a border right along Syria. And we don’t dismiss any of their concerns. We are putting in OPs up in northern Syria, this is the change now, okay? We are putting in observation posts in several locations up along the Syria border — northern Syria border because we want to be the people who call the Turks and warn them if we see something coming out of an area that we’re operating in. This is closely collaborated – we are consulting closely with Turkey, military and State Department. Both were consulting with them.”

“We are going to track any threat that we can spot going up into Turkey. That means we will be talking to Turkish military across the border. They will be very clearly marked locations day and night so that the Turks know where they’re at.”

Meanwhile, Voice of America also reported on November 22 that “a large military convoy from an Arab country was deployed last week to the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour” in the region under US control.

Prima facie, the US is pre-empting any excuse by Turkey to attack the Kurdish groups by offering a CBM. But the bottom line is that the US is marking as its exclusive preserve a vast swathe of territory in Syria’s northeastern region — roughly one-third of entire Syria — which is rich in hydrocarbon reserves and water resources, and it expects Turkey to respect the ground reality.

(Who controls what in Syria.)

Without doubt, an entity is being carved out of Syria that is beyond the reach of Damascus, with the Arab Forces providing the “steel frame” for internal security and acting as deterrent against any Turkish attacks against the Kurdish militia, while the US monitors the border region with Turkey.

Mattis claimed that Turkey is on board. But Turkey strongly supports Syria’s unity. Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar has openly voiced disquiet over the US move to set up observation posts on Turkish-Syrian border. Akar disclosed that Turkey conveyed its “discomfort” to the Pentagon:

“We have stated that the observation points to be established by the US troops on the Syrian border will have a very negative impact… and in the course of our discussions we expressed that it could lead to a perception that US soldiers are somehow protecting terrorist YPG (Syrian Kurdish) members and shield them.”

Equally, could an Arab force’s – most likely Saudi and Emirati troops – deployment (just when the war is ending) have been without prior consultation between Washington and Ankara? The point is, Turkey has troubled relations with both Saudi Arabia and the UAE and will resent their deployment of troops to its border regions with Syria.

In sum, the US’ newfound role as the gatekeeper of the Turkish-Syrian border means the Pentagon is creating new facts on the ground, which signals a long-term US occupation of northern Syria. There are serious implications for Syria’s unity and territorial integrity. Indeed, the last thing that Turkey wants is an independent entity along its border with Syria where the Kurds enjoy autonomy. Turkey has a congruence of interests with Russia and Iran in this regard.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

UK Commits Extra Military Forces to Ukraine: Irresponsible Policy, Dangerous Repercussions

By Arkady SAVITSKY | Strategic Culture Foundation | 24.11.2018

Ukraine’s Constitutional Court green-lighted a bill on amending the country’s main law by enshrining into it the final goal of obtaining NATO and EU membership. The decision was announced the next day after the UK and Ukraine’s defense ministries made a joint statement, stressing the need to expand military cooperation. The defense chiefs agreed that Operation Orbital, the Army training program started in 2015, was a success to be continued at least till 2020. Instructors from the British Army, most of who have significant experience in participating in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, have trained over 9,500 Ukrainian servicemen. An unspecified number of UK soldiers would be sent to train Ukrainian special forces and marines, in addition to the 100 personnel deployed currently in the country.

A multi-role hydrographic survey ship will be deployed in the Black Sea next year to demonstrate Britain’s support for Ukraine and ensure “freedom of navigation”. HMS Echo is not a warship but it flies the naval ensign. In September, Great Britain made known it planned to increase the warships’ presence in the Black Sea next year with increasingly frequent port calls to Odessa.

NATO naval presence there is seen as provocative by Russia amid increasing tensions in the Azov Sea. A conflict appears to be imminent and the West has taken the side of Ukraine despite the fact that it was Kiev who has been provoking it. EU High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini believes many vessels flying European Union flags were threatened to make Brussels consider “appropriate targeted measures” to be taken as a signal to Moscow.

The increase in UK military presence goes against the letter and spirit of Minsk accords, which state that the conflict in Ukraine should be managed through diplomatic and political means.

The US military already runs a maritime operations center located within Ukraine’s Ochakov naval facility designed to deliver flexible maritime support throughout the full range of military operations. Hundreds of US and Canadian military instructors are training Ukrainian personnel at the Yavoriv firing range. The US is to transfer two Oliver Hazard Perry-type frigates to Ukraine. The move will actually ensure constant NATO naval presence in the Black Sea going around the restrictions imposed by the Montreux Convention because the vessels will have America sailors onboard carrying out “training missions” and remain under US command, despite official sources saying otherwise. All in all, ten ships of that class are available for export. In September, the US Coast Guard transferred two Island-class cutters, armed with .50-caliber machine guns and 25mm deck guns. The transfers urge Kiev to challenge Moscow militarily.

Nobody in Washington or London asks why an industrialized nation and a large arms exporter, with abundant resources and fertile land should depend on foreign assistance unable to defend itself. Weapons are supplied and training is provided to the country, where corruption is rampant. Even the US State Department’s recent report says it is.  Popular protests are commonplace. The conflict in Donbass is used to distract the people from domestic woes. The frustration with Kiev’s reluctance to introduce much-needed reforms and curtail the political influence of the oligarchs is rapidly growing. The common people of Ukraine need political and economic reforms, not increased foreign military presence on their soil.

The only reason for the West to keep the failed Ukraine afloat is its obsequiousness and readiness to be converted into a springboard to threaten Russia with an aggression. Despite Ukraine’s multiple problems, the country has recently been rewarded with an official status in NATO. The 2018 North Atlantic Alliance’s summit confirmed its support for Ukraine’s full-fledged membership to make a mockery of the so called “NATO standards.”

The UK government is going through hard times. It has just achieved as a draft agreement on post-Brexit relations with the EU. The deal has a little chance to make it through the Commons. Nobody knows exactly how it will end up if the MPs say no. There may be no Brexit at all finally. Chancellor Philip Hammond believes “If the deal is not approved by parliament, we will have a politically chaotic situation… In that chaos that would ensue, there may be no Brexit.” Or there may be endless negotiations, reconciliation conferences, delays and postponements. It’ll be a large order for the government to stay. There are supporters of no-confidence vote in parliament. You never know how it’s all going to pan out.

Nothing unites a divided nation better than an external threat, such as Russia. The Brexit deadline is March 29 to launch a 21-months transition period with Britain still a member. The events in Ukraine are needed to fuel the fire. Making people think that the UK is lending a helping hand to a poor nation under attack is a way to improve the government’s image and approval ratings. The cabinet members never tell their people that by rendering military assistance to Kiev their country becomes an accomplice to a conflict that has nothing to do with its national security or interests. The UK military aid eggs the Ukrainian government on to seek a military solution.

Russia is not watching idle. If the Minsk accords are washed out, it will have each and every reason to recognize the Lugansk and Donetsk self-proclaimed republics as independent states eligible for military cooperation agreements, including stationing Russian military bases on their soil, if their governments ask for it. No international law would be violated.

Ukraine’s government is ramping up tensions because President Petro Poroshenko is running for re-election in March 2019 on a national security platform. So he takes a tougher line on Azov. Those who rush to provide him with military assistance become accomplices in his adventurist actions that could have disastrous consequences. The UK will bear responsibility for goading Kiev into taking a confrontational approach and turning the Azov Sea into a flashpoint that can spark at any minute.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment

UK Provided ‘Extremely Flimsy’ Evidence in Skripal Poisoning Case – Journalist

Sputnik – November 24, 2018

Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey, one of the first people to be hospitalized in the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia in Salisbury in March, has given his first-ever interview to the BBC Panorama programme.

In the interview, which aired on Thursday evening, Bailey says he was contaminated by the poison as he inspected the Skripals house, after they were found ill on a park bench in Salisbury city centre.

The British government and media were quick to blame the Russian state for the poisonings of Yulia and Sergei, declaring that the substance was the nerve agent a-234, or ‘novichok’ which had been smeared on the door handle of the Skripals’ house by two Russian military intelligence officers.

The two suspects’ identities were later put forward by the blogger website Bellingcat, which British state broadcaster the BBC widely promoted.However for some, there are still many questions remaining in the British version of the Skripal case. Columnist for the Independent and Guardian newspapers, Mary Dejevsky spoke to Sputnik about her reservations with the British media’s representation and analysis of the Skripal case.

Sputnik: Mary you tweeted recently that the BBC Panorama programme aired on Thursday night and showing an interview with Detective Sergeant Nick Bailey was ‘close to propaganda’; what made you say that?

Mary Dejevsky: Although the UK doesn’t have a state television service, this came pretty close.

My particular problem with this programme was that it posed none of the questions that have been hanging in the air ever since the attack on the Skripals in Salisbury happened back in March.

There are an awful lot of questions that are open; there is a lot of the official version put out by the government which has been challenged, and rightly challenged because there are huge questions. But the programme on the BBC posed none of these questions.

Sputnik: Why do you think it is that there has been no real analysis from British mainstream media of the Skripal case?

Mary Dejevsky: Even when there was the death of Alexander Litvinenko there were a few people that were actually questioning the official version and it wasn’t really until after the enquiry that a lot of the questions closed down.But with the Skripal case it seems to me that there has been an extraordinary consensus from the very beginning. One of the reasons I think is that the government seemed so certain about its case, and supposedly they presented evidence which mobilized this international diplomatic action where there was coordination of countries expelling Russian diplomats who were, it was claimed, working undercover – undeclared members of the Russian security services – working under diplomatic cover.

Now it’s not clear to me because I think there have been reports from Germany for instance that there was no additional evidence provided by Britain other than what they presented to parliament which was extremely flimsy.

Sputnik: What questions remain unanswered in the Skripal case?

Mary Dejevsky: There are dozens of questions. One of the most obvious is that the CCTV footage of the two alleged GRU agents going from London to Salisbury and back again twice is highly selective.

We have no CCTV footage that’s been made public of the Skripals in central Salisbury that day, even though it is apparently known that the CCTV cameras were working efficiently across Salisbury that day. We were told that the two Russian agents went to the Skripals’ house and put novichok on the door handle.The only CCTV footage that has been produced of the two has been, at the closest, half a kilometer away from the Skripals’ house. There is enormous questions, in my view, about the whole version of whether novichok or anything was put on the door handle of the Skripals’ house.

How come that they apparently went in and out of the house, it’s not clear at what times, but how come they were apparently found together collapsed on a bench several hours later as the victims of what was supposed to be a potentially fatal substance that could kill anyone that went near it, in minutes?

Sputnik: A letter was written to The Times on 14th March by Dr Stephen Davies, consultant in Emergency Medicine at Salisbury hospital, saying ‘May I clarify that no patients have experienced symptoms of nerve agent in Salisbury, and there have only been three patients with significant poisoning’ – this really is a discrepancy in the story is it not?

Mary Dejevsky: Yes, this has always been in the background in this story, this letter that was published in The Times that denied that anyone was treated for nerve agent poisoning, and there have been various suggested explanations given since, including that when they were taken to hospital they had symptoms of fentanyl poisoning, not nerve agent poisoning, and that this explains the doctor’s letter.And there have been various attempts to square the circle, but to my mind none of them has been entirely convincing. We also have the question of the chemical weapons’ agency’s findings and whether the substance that the OPCW agency tested was actually the substance that the Skripals were poisoned with.

It doesn’t appear that there is a completely secure chain of evidence from as it were, start to finish, that nothing might have sort of inserted into the process. So there are all these questions and none of them were asked on the BBC programme.

November 24, 2018 Posted by | Deception, False Flag Terrorism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , | 1 Comment