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Condemning Trump on Syria? It’s “buffet outrage”

By Stephen Kinzer – Boston Globe – October 17, 2019

Several years ago, the United States hired Kurdish fighters to be our mercenaries in Syria. This month we decided we don’t need them anymore, and abandoned them to their fate. Turkey, which considers Kurdish militancy a mortal threat, quickly began bombing them. This set off a veritable orgy of indignation in Washington. It is a classic example of “buffet outrage,” in which one picks and chooses which horrors to condemn.

Among those shedding crocodile tears, often accompanied by vivid threats against Turkey, are politicians and pundits who have never uttered a peep about American bombs laying waste to Yemen or American sanctions devastating lives in Iran. The United States deserves condemnation for abandoning its promise to the Kurds. Much of it, however, is a hypocritical blend of anti-Trump fanaticism and frustration over the emerging reality that we have lost the Syrian war.

Abandoning the Kurds is not a policy that materialized out of thin air. It is the product of two long chains of American error, one dating to the beginning of the Syrian war and the other even further back. The deeper history of our Middle East tragedy begins in 1980, when President Carter declared that any challenge to American power in the Persian Gulf region would be repelled “by any means necessary, including military force.”

A generation later, President George W. Bush recklessly ordered the invasion of Iraq, which set the region afire and led to the creation of ISIS.
The more recent set of causes for our Kurdish misadventure began in 2011, when President Obama ordered President Bashar Assad of Syria to “step aside.” Beyond the arrogance that leads American presidents to think they can and should decide who may rule other countries lay the utter impossibility of achieving that goal.

The head-chopping death cults that fought alongside our partners in Syria, including Jabhat al-Nusra, the local al-Qaeda franchise, and Ahrar al-Sham, which seeks to “build an Islamic State” based on “Allah’s Almighty Sharia,” have as part of their agenda the murder of every Shia Muslim. Since the population of nearby Iran is 90 percent Shia, it should have been obvious from the beginning that Iran would use every ounce of its considerable power to assure Assad’s survival. If Obama had looked at Syria realistically rather than succumbing to fantasy, he would have understood that Assad and his Iranian backers would do whatever necessary to defeat the American project. Instead he plunged ignorantly into a conflict that we had no prospect of winning.

Following the example his predecessor set when invading Afghanistan, Obama looked for “partners” who would fight the anti-Assad war for us. Many of the militias we hired and armed were connected to jihadist terror gangs. That made sense, because the Assad government is resolutely secular and those fanatics hate secularism. We also hired Syrian Kurds. They agreed to fight not because they wanted to commit genocide against Shia Muslims and other infidels, but for a completely different reason. They had watched their Kurdish cousins in northern Iraq establish a mini-state, and dreamed of doing the same in northern Syria. If they supported the American war against Assad, they reasoned, the United States might reward them by helping them turn their piece of Syria into an autonomous region or quasi-independent state.

This was never a realistic possibility. The country that Syrian Kurds wanted to carve out for themselves, which they called “Rojava,” did not have nearly the size, population, or military strength to survive in the unforgiving Middle East. Kurdish leaders understood this, but believed they would thrive anyway because their American friends would defend them. That was a pitifully naive miscalculation. The United States has repeatedly made lavish promises to the Kurds and then betrayed them — most notably in the 1970s, when we encouraged Iraqi Kurds to rebel against Saddam Hussein’s government and then abandoned them when Saddam made an accommodation with our ally, the Shah of Iran.

Yet Kurds never seem to learn. Their childlike trust in American promises brings to mind the cartoon character Charlie Brown, whose so-called friend Lucy pulls the football away at the last moment every time he tries to kick, but who nonetheless keeps believing this time will be different.

Although the Kurds did not foresee this betrayal, Assad did. “We say to those groups who are betting on the Americans, the Americans will not protect you,” he warned in a speech nine months ago. The Kurds should have listened. In fact, seeking Assad’s protection was always their Plan B. Now, very late in the game and after taking thousands of casualties fighting for their alluring but unfaithful American “friends,” they are doing it. They have effectively surrendered to the Syrian army and asked for its help in defense against Turkey, which thought it had a chance to crush them and establish itself as the de facto ruler of “Rojava.” The Kurds’ alliance with the United States was doomed from the start. Alliance with Assad makes more sense. He may not be the world’s most reliable ally, but he is more trustworthy than the feckless United States.

Although the Kurds’ decision to ask pardon from Assad and join him in rebuilding a secular state is years overdue, it is welcome and wise. It brings Syrians a step closer to the only solution that can end their suffering: reunification. This war will only end when the government re-establishes its authority over all of Syrian territory and hostile foreign forces withdraw. Syria Kurds have belatedly recognized this truth. We should do the same.

Stephen Kinzer is a senior fellow at the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Why Withdrawing US Troops from Northern Syria is GOOD

By Rick Sterling | Dissident Voice | October 17, 2019

The foreign policy elite is in an uproar. They claim “we have abandoned our allies”. They question “how can America be trusted?” They say the decision to withdraw from northern Syria was a “gift” to Russia, Iran, and Assad, even ISIS. It is true that the policy of US/NATO interventionism is failing. But that has been true since the invasion of Iraq or earlier. After the disastrous invasions and attacks on Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, and the 8 year undeclared war on Syria, isn’t it time to  question the foreign policy elite?

If one believes in restoring international law and the UN Charter, it is GOOD that US military forces have been withdrawn from  northern Syria. Here are some facts and history which explain why.

Basic fact: It’s not our country and US troops were never authorized by the sovereign government. Whether or not Washington likes Damascus is irrelevant. Under international law those troops have no right to be there. Even the overflights of Syria by the US air coalition violate international agreements. It’s up to  Syrians to defend their country against invading Turkey. If they choose to get support from another country, that is their right.

Another fact: President Obama was correct when he said that “putting boots on the ground” in Syria would be a “profound mistake”. Later he said, “We have a very specific objective, one that will not lead into boots on the ground or anything like that.” But the hawks prevailed. There were not only “boots on the ground”, there was a shifting rationale why they had to be there.

The US and allies have done all they could, short of direct invasion, to overthrow the Syrian government. They have spent tens of BILLIONS of dollars in weapons, training, equipment, recruitment, etc. This is in violation of international law. More than one hundred thousand Syrians have died defending their country against a foreign sponsored army of mercenaries and foreign fighters.

An astonishing fact: The US encouraged the emergence of the Islamic State. Why? Because it put pressure on Damascus and because it justified the entry of the US.  While the US carpet bombed Raqqa, it looked the other way as hundreds of trucks conveyed oil from eastern Syria into Turkey to fund the Islamic State. The US air coalition attacked the Syrian Arab Army in the midst of a critical battle against ISIS near Deir Ezzor. In  a secretly recorded conversation in New York with Syrian “activists”, John Kerry admitted they were watching ISIS and hoping to use it to pressure Damascus. In other words, US foreign policy was duplicitous and used terrorism as a tool. This is well documented in the book The Management of Savagery.

After the US-backed “Free Syrian Army” failed, the US looked for another means to destabilize Syria. They started to fund  the Syrian Kurdish militias known as the Peoples Protection Unit (YPG /YPJ). They gave the militias a new name, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), and encouraged the secessionist tendency. Meanwhile in Turkey, which has the largest Kurdish community,  most Kurds want to have their rights within Turkey and have formed a political party (Peoples Democratic Party – HDP) which unites progressives of all ethnicities. In the 2015 Turkish election this party emerged as the third most popular party and stopped Erdogan’s election domination. Currently the HDP is campaigning against Turkey’s invasion of Syria. As of 13 October the Syrian Kurdish militias have come to an agreement to work with Damascus to combat the Turkish invasion. The agreement specifies that the Syrian Arab Army will control and defend the entire area from Jarablus on the Euphrates River to the far eastern border with Iraq.

Advocates of US intervention claim that the Kurds were fighting and dying “for us.” That is not true. They were defending their own community. To the extent that they accepted and welcomed US air support, equipment, weaponry, etc. it was for their own benefit. There were two parties trying to use each other.

Whenever the US attacks or occupies a country it needs a rationalization. In 1991 there were false claims about incubators being stolen by Iraqi troops in Kuwait. In 2003 there were false claims about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. In 2011 there were false claims of civilians being threatened by Libyan troops in Benghazi. All these claims were subsequently found to be exaggerated or entirely false.

One of the main justifications for continuing US presence in Syria is “keeping our word” and not “abandoning” the Kurdish forces. This is a favorite rationalization for war. In Cuba, the CIA trained Cuban exiles that attacked Playa Giron “were counting on us.” Fortunately, JFK resisted the pressure and said “No”. In Vietnam, the US continued the war for a decade because we could not let down our “ally”, the government of Saigon. Millions of Vietnamese were killed plus 55,000 US troops because we could not “abandon” a government that in reality was a proxy.

In the Democratic Debates (15 October) Joe Biden said that the  withdrawal of US troops from northern Syria was “the most shameful thing any president has done in modern history in terms of foreign policy.” This is absurd. Over one million died in Iraq including 4500 and at least 100,000 severely injured US soldiers. Joe Biden was an influential supporter of the 2003 Iraq  invasion. Later, as Vice President, he supported the overthrow of the Libyan government. The country is still in chaos with tens of thousands dead.  These two countries were devastated by US actions. It is evidence of shameless unaccountability in media and politics that Joe Biden is a serious candidate for President after he destroyed so many lives at a cost of trillions. In the same Democratic debates Tulsi Gabbard was honest and accurate as she said that the plight of the Kurds in northern Syria is “yet another consequence of the regime change war we’ve been waging in Syria”.

Despite the howls of indignation and disinformation, withdrawing US troops from northern Syria is a step in the right direction.

Rick Sterling is an investigative journalist who has visited Syria several times since 2014. He lives in the SF Bay Area and can be reached at rsterling1@gmail.com.

October 17, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

House of Representatives votes 354-60 against Trump’s withdrawal of US troops from Syria

RT | October 16, 2019

Democrats and 129 of the Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to pass a non-binding resolution disapproving of President Donald Trump’s pullout of US troops from Syria – never authorized by Congress to be there.

The House Joint Resolution 77 describes the presence of US troops in northeastern Syria as “certain… efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces,” and formally voices opposition to their withdrawal, but does not offer an alternative. Instead, it demands the White House present a “clear and specific plan for the enduring defeat” of Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

The IS “capital” of Raqqa was liberated by US-allied Kurdish militias in October 2017, and the last IS enclave was declared secured in December 2018, but traces of the presence of the self-declared “caliphate” remain in both Syria and Iraq, weakened by years of war and sanctions.

The House resolution asks the White House to continue providing “humanitarian support” to the Kurds and ensure that Turkey “acts with restraint,” while also demanding of Ankara to stop its “unilateral military action” in Syria.

Trump has maintained he never gave the “green light” to Turkey to invade Syria, and defended the withdrawal as protecting the lives of American soldiers in a region where they had no business being anymore. He has also threatened to “destroy” Turkey’s economy with sanctions and tariffs over the invasion.

Congress has never voted to authorize the US troop presence in Syria, which is not sanctioned under international law and is based only tenuously on old resolutions allowing military action against Al-Qaeda terrorists following the 9/11 attacks. Damascus considers the US presence a violation of its sovereignty, unlike the Russian force that was invited back in 2015.

While the resolution does little to change the situation in Syria, the fact that so many Republicans chose to back Democrats against the sitting president from their party is being held up as a possible barometer for the Democrat-led impeachment process, even though House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has repeatedly refused to hold an actual floor vote on the matter.

October 16, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

And now, a message from our wannabe masters about Syria

The Saker | October 16, 2019

this just came to my inbox:

Dear The Saker,

The American Jewish Congress opposes the U.S. decision to withdraw troops from Syria and strongly condemns Turkey’s actions in Syria against the Kurds. In addition to endangering a U.S. ally, the Kurds, it also poses a great threat to Israel and to the region’s stability overall. Israel shares a border with Syria and is affected by what happens within Syria.

Syria has become a hotbed of Hezbollah and Iranian activity, which poses a direct threat to Israel; as a result of this decision, Turkey, Iran and Hezbollah win while Israel loses. Ultimately, the impact of this decision may come to outweigh President Trump’s historic actions in support of Israel. Regional stability and the security of our allies must be paramount for U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Jack Rosen
President
American Jewish Congress

American Jewish Congress
745 5th Ave., 30th Floor
New York NY 10151 United States

October 16, 2019 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 6 Comments

The Russian Masterpiece in Syria: Everyone Wins

By Federico Pieraccini | Strategic Culture Foundation | October 16, 2019

“Moscow and Damascus have always maintained they are against any form of partition or illegal foreign presence in Syria.”

Moscow has managed to maintain contacts with all parties in the conflict, even in spite of its stance against partition and illegal foreign presence. Trilateral talks between Iran, Turkey and Russia occurred in Astana at Moscow’s urging. Putin managed to bring together in Sochi the Syrian government and opposition groups to discuss the future of Syria. In Geneva, Moscow mediated between Damascus and the international community, shielding Syria from the diplomatic skulduggery of the US and other enemies of Syria.

Turkey, solely as a result of its defeat in Syria, now finds itself in active dialogue with Moscow and Tehran. As Ankara experiences worsening relations with Washington and other European capitals, Moscow saw a great opportunity to bring Turkey closer to Damascus.

Russia’s operation was complicated and required a lot of patience; but thanks to negotiations supervised by Russia, together with the bravery and courage of Syrian soldiers, almost all of the terrorist pockets scattered around Syria have been progressively overcome.

Other than the Idlib province, the main problem for Damascus lay with the US occupation in the northeast of the country, under the pretext of protecting the Kurds (SDF) from the “Assad regime”, as well as to “fight Daesh”.

Erdogan currently finds himself boxed in, squeezed in by a collapsing economy, threatened by his allies (the purchase of the Russian S-400 system irritated many in Washington and in NATO): he desperately needs to present some kind of victory to his base.

This may be the primary reason behind Erdogan’s decision to move into Syria under the pretense that the YPG is a terrorist organization linked with the PKK — proceeding to create a buffer zone on the border between Syria and Turkey and declaring “mission accomplished” to boost popularity ratings.

With Trump, he is desperate to shift attention away from the impeachment proceedings (a hoax), and similarly needs to present some kind of victory to his base. Why, what better way to do this than with a mini withdrawal of US troops from Syria, leaving the Kurds to their destiny (Trump’s care factor regarding SDF is minimal, as they are more connected to his political opponents in the Democratic Party), while claiming victory over Daesh for the umpteenth time in recent months?

Trump, with a handful of tweets directed against the Pentagon’s “crazy spending” and America’s past wars, finds himself and his base giving each other high fives on their commitment to the doctrine of “America First”.

Erdogan and Trump have also solved the embarrassing internal conflict within NATO between Turkey and the US, probably reestablishing personal relationships (the tough talk from the White House notwithstanding).

The agreement between the Kurds (SDF) and Damascus is the only natural conclusion to events that are heavily orchestrated by Moscow. The deployment of Syrian and Russian troops on the border with Turkey is the prelude to the reconquest of the entirety of Syrian territory — the outcome the Kremlin was wishing for at the beginning of this diplomatic masterpiece.

Washington and Ankara have never had any opportunities to prevent Damascus from reunifying the country. It was assumed by Moscow that Washington and Ankara would sooner or later seek the correct exit strategy, even as they proclaimed victory to their respective bases in the face of defeat in Syria. This is exactly what Putin and Lavrov came up with over the last few weeks, offering Trump and Erdogan the solution to their Syrian problems.

Trump will state that he has little interest in countries 7,000 miles from the homeland; and Erdogan (with some reluctance) will affirm that the border between Turkey and Syria, when held by the Syrian Arab Army, guarantees security against the Kurds.

Putin has no doubt advised Assad and the Kurds to begin a dialogue in the common interests of Syria. He would have no doubt also convinced Erdogan and Trump of the need to accept these plans.

An agreement that rewards Damascus and Moscow saves the Kurds while leaving Erdogan and Trump with a semblance of dignity in a situation that is difficult to explain to a domestic or international audience.

Moscow has started joint patrols with the Syrian Arab Army on the borders with Turkey for the purposes of preventing any military clashes between Ankara and Damascus. If Ankara halts its military operation in the coming days, Damascus will regain control of the oil fields.

The world will then have witnessed one of the greatest diplomatic masterpieces ever conceived, responsible for bringing closer the end of the seven-year-long Syrian conflict.

October 16, 2019 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , | 1 Comment

Russia, Damascus Ensure Safe Pullout of Foreign Troops From Syria’s North-East

Sputnik -October 15, 2019

The Russian military and the Syrian authorities have taken the necessary measures to ensure the safe withdrawal of foreign troops from northeastern Syria as the evacuation of US servicemen continues, the Russian centre for Syrian reconciliation said Tuesday.

“The evacuation of US forces from the northeastern parts of the Syrian Arab Republic is continuing. US troops have left bases in Dadat and Umm-Mial locations in the Manbij district of Aleppo province and have departed towards the Syrian-Iraqi border,” Maj. Gen. Alexey Bakin, the head of the centre, said at a daily briefing.

“The Syrian authorities  and the Russian command are taking all necessary measures to ensure the safe withdrawal of foreign military personnel,” the general stressed.

Earlier, a senior US state department official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that US troops had completely pulled out from the northern Syrian city of Manbij. However, he added that the US still retains control over the airspace in north-eastern Syria.

On October 9, Turkey launched an offensive in northern Syria in a bid to create a safe zone along the border that would be free of Kurdish militias. Soon after US President Donald Trump announced the withdrawal of US troops from their bases in Syria.

Turkey considers the Kurdish forces to be an extension of the Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK), which it has classified as a terrorist organization.

October 15, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

It’s curtains for US in Syria. Russia, Iran owe big thanks to Erdogan

By M. K. BHADRAKUMAR | Indian Punchline | October 15, 2019

The scenario agreed on behind the curtains through months of confidential exchanges, often one-on-one, between the Russian and Turkish leaders regarding north-eastern Syria is entering a critical phase with the agreement between the Kurds and the Assad regime.

We have a complex scenario where on the one hand the Turkish army and the Syrian opposition units loyal to Ankara are relentlessly continuing their southward offensive expanding control over Syria’s border regions populated by the Kurds. According to Turkish President Recep Erdogan 1000 sq.kms. of territory previously under Kurdish control have been “liberated”.

On the other hand, following up on the agreement with the Kurds, the first columns of Syrian government forces have moved into the north of the country toward the Turkish border.

Prima facie, Damascus is challenging the Turkish offensive — as it should — and, in principle, a confrontation can ensue. But things are never really quite what they appear on the surface in Syria.

A clash between the Turkish and Syrian forces is simply out of the question. That is not how the game is being played. A Turkish Defence Ministry statement on Monday disclosed that the military chief Gen. Yasar Guler and his Russian counterpart Gen. Valery Gerasimov were in contact on the phone and discussed the “security situation in Syria and recent developments.”

No further details have been divulged but the picture that emerges is that Russia proposed and Turkey agreed that Russian units will be patrolling between Turkish and Syrian forces in northern Syria after the withdrawal of the US troops from the area.

Accordingly, Moscow’s Defense Ministry has revealed that its military police in the Kurdish town of Manbij have begun patrolling along the Syria-Turkey border and interacting with Turkish authorities. Russian troops entered Manbij town with the Syrian government forces on Monday.

More importantly, through Russian mediation, Ankara and Damascus will prefer to agree on dividing the zones of control in northern Syria. That is to say, things are broadly moving in the direction of what the Adana Agreement of 1998 (over the Kurdish question) between Turkey and Syria had envisaged, namely, that the security of the Syrian-Turkish border will be a bilateral affair between Ankara and Damascus.

In the given situation, Turkey’s imperative need is to prevent a contiguous “Kurdistan” emerging on its borders. The so-called “safe zone” aimed at frustrating the US plans to create a Kurdistan in Syria akin to what it succeeded in Iraq in the Saddam Hussein era.

Arguably, there could be a congruence of interests between Ankara and Damascus on this score. (Tehran too has common interests with its two neighbours in this regard.)

Indeed, for Damascus all this is a bonanza insofar as the “deliberate withdrawal” (as Pentagon put it) or the eviction of the US troops in the northern regions of Syria, triggered by the Turkish incursion, enables it to reoccupy parts of the northeast regions, especially those parts that are well-endowed with water resources and hydrocarbon reserves, which the American military had designated as its exclusive zone.

For President Bashar al-Assad, this is a great leap forward in the fulfilment of his pledge to reclaim control of entire Syria. (See the Euronews commentary Damascus is looking stronger than ever’: What next for Syria as Kurds join forces with Assad?)

As for the Kurds, they have nowhere to go but to settle with Damascus. They are simply no match for the highly professional Turkish army.

Clearly, the Turkish incursion and impending offensive against Kurds has made continued American military presence in northern Syria untenable and Russia has leveraged the situation to bring about the agreement between Kurds and Damascus.

Having succeeded in this endeavour, Russians have taken Turks into confidence. Unsurprisingly, President Recep Erdogan is nonchalant about the agreement between the Kurds and Damascus and has shrugged off the Syrian troop movements close to Turkey’s borders. He evasively referred to Vladimir Putin’s assurances.

In the final analysis, the Americans are paying a heavy price for being clever by half — stringing Turkey along in the recent years while methodically consolidating the ground for the creation of an autonomous Kurdistan on its borders, apart from arming and training the Kurdish militia to shape up a regular army.

Erdogan gave a long rope to the Americans to hang themselves literally. When he struck, the contradictions in the US policy got exposed overnight — the game plan to balkanise Syria and overthrow Assad; the Faustian deal with a terrorist group that has been bleeding a NATO ally; and the geopolitical agenda to sever Iran’s axis with Syria and the Levant.

Suffice to say, the eviction of the US forces from northern Syria, the Turks have achieved something that Russia and Iran (and Damascus) all along wished for but couldn’t realise. From this point, Russia and Iran will prevail upon Ankara to reconcile with Damascus.

The West has belatedly understood that Turkey has summarily terminated its 8-year old intervention in Syria to overthrow the Assad regime. The vitriolic reaction by Trump and US defence Secretary Mark Esper (here and here) is self-evident.

But the threat of US sanctions will not deter Erdogan, as the spectre of Kurdistan on its borders threatened Turkey’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and there is no scope for compromise when national security is under threat. By the way, the domestic opinion is overwhelmingly supportive of Erdogan.

Turkey was uncharacteristically patient with the US, hoping that the latter would give up the nexus with YPG (Kurdish militia) now that the fight against ISIS is over. It is not Trump so much as the Pentagon who is responsible for the breakdown in trust between Turkey and the US. Like on most foreign policy issues, Washington had two policies on Syria — Trump’s and the US security and defence establishment’s.

The US has no locus standii under international law to keep a permanent military presence in Syria and when Trump first announced the troop withdrawal, it should have been implemented. But, instead, the Pentagon undercut Trump’s decision, whittled it down and finally ignored it altogether.    

Erdogan knows that the US will huff and puff but will get used to the “new normal” in Syria. The West won’t have an alibi, either, as Russians will never allow the ISIS to surge in Syria. Trump is reportedly deputing V-P Mike Pence to travel to Turkey seeking a “negotiated settlement” — whatever that may mean in tackling the fait accompli that Erdogan has created.

October 15, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 1 Comment

Trump imposes sanctions on Turkey in response to Ankara’s “Operation Peace Spring” in Syria

By Sarah Abed | October 15, 2019

On Monday, after a weekend of bloody chaos in northeastern Syrian brought on by Turkey’s cross border military incursion “Operation Peace Spring” which included airstrikes, ISIS prison breaks, and a continuation of the exodus we’ve seen over the past few days of over a hundred thousand civilians fleeing their homes, President Trump signed an Executive Order authorizing sanctions against current and former Turkish government officials and anyone who is contributing to Turkey’s actions in destabilizing northeast Syria.

In a formal statement, published by the White House, President Trump went on to say that steel tariffs will be increased back to 50%, which is the level they were at prior to a reduction in May of this year. President Trump also said negotiations led by the Department of Commerce which include a $100 billion trade deal with Turkey, would cease immediately.

The Order goes beyond sanctions and would also authorize consequences including blocking of property and barring entry into the United States on anyone Washington deems to be involved in serious human rights abuses including obstructing ceasefires, preventing displaced people from returning to their homes, and forcing the repatriation of refugees etc.

President Trump mentioned a few times during the past few days that the United States and their partners are the ones that brought Daesh to their knees and are responsible for eliminating 100% of their territorial caliphate.

Each time I hear this claim, I justify its inaccuracy by saying even though this is categorically false, and the United States has protected and helped Daesh on more than one occasion and the previous administration supported extremist groups which bore Daesh, that if taking credit and feeding his enormous ego means that US troops will withdraw from Syria, then by all means give President Trump all the credit, perhaps even an award, or a trophy, heck add on a Nobel Peace Prize, just as long as he withdraws US troops, which will help end this monstrous western-manufactured war.

President Trump also cautioned Turkey against indiscriminate targeting of civilians, destruction of civilian infrastructure and targeting ethnic or religious minorities. He also mentioned that refugees must be returned in a safe, voluntary and dignified manner. President Trump announced again that he would be withdrawing remaining US service members from northeast Syria and that they will be redeployed while remaining in the region to monitor the situation to prevent a resurgence. Trump stated that a small number of troops will remain in southern Syria at Al Tanf Garrrison to disrupt remnants of ISIS.

Repeating his threat to destroy Turkey’s economy if they continue down this “dangerous and destructive path” could just be more posturing by President Trump and distancing Washington from Ankara’s war crimes.

Vice President Mike Pence on Monday announced he would be leading a delegation to Ankara where they will be discussing with Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan the US’s demands which include an immediate ceasefire and negotiating with the Kurds in Syria.

Just the notion of asking President Erdogan to negotiate with Kurdish militias is preposterous considering their history. Turkey will most likely say that they do not negotiate with terrorists, considering they see the Kurdish militias in Syria as an offshoot of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey who they have been at war with for over three decades.

Secondly, the Kurdish militias are now in talks with the Syrian government. It’s a little too late for the US to try to win them back. I would hope that after seeing how many times the United States has left them out in the cold that the YPG/SDF/PYD would know by now not to put their trust in them again.

It’s worth mentioning that corporate media and war hungry politicians have intentionally focused on the “plight of the Kurds” and highlighted their cause above and beyond any other ethnicity in Syria. This begs the question, why is 7-10% of the population given an unequal amount of attention when “the Kurds” are not even a homogenous group of people.

There’s no mention of how Kurds migrated to Syria in waves and sought refuge and stayed for decades. Rather than telling you how they bought property, studied in Syrian schools, received benefits that are awarded to all Syrian citizens regardless of ethnicity and religion, propagandists will try to convince you that they were systematically oppressed.

There’s also little to no mention of the war crimes committed by the Kurdish YPG and the SDF in Syria against the indigenous populations including closing the vast majority of schools, enforcing a non-authorized Kurdish curriculum, forced conscription, theft of property and businesses, kidnapping of children to turn them into soldiers, etc, much like the PKK in Turkey.

Reporting has been very one-sided and has portrayed them as the leading fighters against terrorist groups in Syria and although they did play a part the Syrian Arab Army and their allies are the ones that did the heavy lifting and made the most progress, but they get trashed in the media.

And, many are surprised to learn that there are Syrian Kurds that are in the Syrian Army that categorically reject the notion of establishing a US/Israeli sponsored Kurdistan on sovereign Syrian land. They oppose the wrongdoing of the Kurdish militias and stand with the Syrian government and army.

Celebrations erupted once news was received that the SAA was on their way to northern towns. Even tribal leaders came out in support of the SAA, saying the SAA were the only true protectors of the land.

On Monday the SAA entered Manbij, Tal Tamr and towns in Raqqa’s countryside. Videos showed US armored vehicles exiting the area while Syrian troops were entering, in a peaceful almost poetic re-alignment of power. The American-Israeli backed “Kurdistan” dream was destined for failure from the beginning.

October 15, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , | Leave a comment

US Working With Russia to Handover Patrols Between Turkish and Syrian Armies in Manbij

By Patrick Henningsen | 21st Century Wire | October 15, 2019

This morning, Russian military officials announced they are now patrolling the region surrounding Syria’s northern town of Manbij, specifically in the areas which separate Turkish troops and the Syrian Arab Army soldiers.

According to a Russian Defense Ministry statement issued Tuesday, Russian military police are being positioned as a ‘buffer’ around the area northwest of Manbij, “along the line of contact between the Syrian Arab Republic and Turkey.” Officials also indicated that they are in communication with the Turkish military leadership to ensure that patrols are observing necessary deconfliction protocols.

More interestingly, US reports suggest that the Pentagon has been working together with Moscow in order engineer a seamless handover to Russian military police of positions previously held by US forces.

According to one senior Pentagon official who spoke to Newsweek, some US personnel have stayed to behind to assist Russian forces, noting that US special forces “having been in the area for longer, has been assisting the Russian forces to navigate through previously unsafe areas quickly.”

“It is essentially a handover,” said the official. “However, it’s a quick out, not something that will include walk-throughs, etc., everything is about making out with as much as possible of our things while destroying any sensitive equipment that cannot be moved.”

This latest move by Moscow to install a security buffer should allay any international concerns that Trump’s sudden withdrawal of US forces would create a power vacuum that might lead to some sort of Turkish ‘massacre’ of ethnic Kurds in northern Syria. The sheer volume of alarmist western propaganda promoting that scenario has been incessant over the last week. The UK’s Guardian newspaper even went so far as to promote the idea that a US withdrawal would result in “genocide” of Syrian Kurds.

Also helping to promulgate the idea of an impending Turkish-led massacre was America’s ABC News, who used old footage from a Kentucky gun range – claiming it was Turkey firing on the Kurdish population in Syria.

This latest news comes immediately on the heels of a new deal struck yesterday between Kurdish officials in northeastern Syria and the government in Damascus allowing the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to takeover key strategic positions along Syria’s northern border with Turkey. The new security agreement also includes disbanding and abolishing the previously US-backed SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces), and with remaining militias to be incorporated into the Syrian Republic’s Armed Forces including “all the current Kurdish forces and military groups joining the 5th Corps (Assault Legion) under Russian control.”

As a newly unified SAA and Russian military police establish positions around Manbij, the threat still remains of advancing platoons of Turkish-backed former FSA (Free Syrian Army) ‘opposition’ fighters who are now rebranded as ‘Syrian National Army.’  These opposition militants could still cause problems in maintaining peace and stability along proscribed battle lines.

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Author Patrick Henningsen is an American writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). He has written for a number of international publications and has done extensive on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East including work in Syria and Iraq.

October 15, 2019 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | Leave a comment

One out, another one in: Retreating US military meets advancing Syrian Army

RT | October 14, 2019

An unlikely road meeting of US and Syrian troops was captured in northern Syria as the American vehicles were retreating from the Kurdish-held town of Kobani, while the Syrians rushed to protect it from the Turkish-led offensive.

Getting American and Syrian government forces into a single image is quite a difficult task despite the protracted – and illegal – US military presence in the war-torn country. Nonetheless, RT’s video agency Ruptly managed to snap a rare shot at a highway between northern Syrian towns of Tabaqqa and Kobani.

The short clip from the scene shows a US military convoy of several armored vehicles leaving the border town of Kobani. A Syrian military unit, transported on apparently less fancy vehicles, is seen heading towards the town.

It was not immediately clear if the servicemen somehow reacted to seeing one another, as both parties seemed to be in a rush.

The US military has been withdrawing from northeast Syria following the orders by President Donald Trump, issued last Monday. The withdrawal has been sped up by the Turkish-led military operation against the Kurdish militia, one-time ally of the US, that incidentally heads the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) controlling around one-third of Syria’s territory. Washington used the SDF as a ground force in the fight against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS).

Ankara regards Kurdish militia groups as terrorists over links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been waging insurgency in Turkey’s southeast for decades, ultimately seeking secession from the country. However, the Turkish incursion into Syria, which aims to establish a 30-km wide “safe zone” and plant previously displaced refugees and Ankara-backed Islamist rebel groups there, was not met with open arms by Damascus.

After apparently striking a deal with the Kurds, the Syrian Army said it was moving in to secure the strategic border area and entered the towns of Qamishli and Manbij. Kobani, once famously besieged by ISIS, is likely to become a hotspot of conflict again due to its position right on the Syrian-Turkish border.

Moscow on Monday said it never approved of the occupation of Kobani in security discussions with Ankara, with the Defense Ministry dismissing reports that such a question was ever brought up.

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

Washington’s Sum of All Fears: Kurdish Militants Cut a Deal with Damascus

By Patrick Henningsen | 21st Century Wire | October 14, 2019

Last night, Kurdish officials in northeastern Syria issued a statement that an agreement has been reached with the government in Damascus allowing the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) to takeover key strategic positions along the Syria’s northern border with Turkey.

Not surprisingly, cheers can he heard from Damascus to Moscow, and Tehran too, while leaving Washington’s foreign policy blob visibly moaning in agony.

The reality of the situation is that Turkey sprung a trap set by Damascus and its allies. In doing so, Turkey helped to clean up what was previously a near impossible situation for Damascus.

While much of the western mainstream media has laboured over ‘Trump’s decision‘ to pull-out US troops from Syria, there are other factors which have been driving the current situation. If you’ve been monitoring the Turkish press over the last few years, you would know that Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has been eager to fire-up his AKP base at home and project Neo-Ottoman power regionally, so this latest Turkish foray into Syria can be seen as a resumption of the ‘New Turkey‘ – the AKP’s gradual transformation of Turkey from a secular Kemalist state, to an Islamic one. This gradual revolution is not confined within Turkey’s own borders though, as it hopes to extend its micro-colonial project of Sunnification to include areas in question located inside and along Syria’s northern border with Turkey. Hence, Ankara has moved its forces into Syrian territory for the third time in as many years, this time dubbed “Operation Peace Spring,” and with Erdogan justifying the move under the auspices of ‘fighting terrorism,’ vowing once again to secure the country’s national security by stamping-out the Kurdish YPG-PKK ‘terrorist threat’ embedded in northern Syria. He may have achieved some marginal success in this department, but not in the way most mainstream pundits think.

Unknowingly perhaps (or not), Turkey helped towards resolving at least three separate problems which had been grating at Damascus and Moscow for at least the last three years. Firstly, the Turkish incursion has finally displaced uninvited US military forces that had begun illegally occupying northeastern Syria since late 2016, effectively propping-up their SDF (Syrian Democratic Forces) Kurdish-led proxy militants, many of whom share membership with Kurdish YPG/PKK militant groups. This weekend has shown the world that without its US protection, Kurdish-led forces are not as viable as they have been depicted in the western media, now exposed to the painful reality that their ‘autonomous’ status in northeastern Syria is on borrowed time, evidenced by the fact that they failed to protect Kurdish residents from the Turkish military and their jihadi vanguard ground forces, formerly known as Free Syrian Army (FSA), who’ve rather cynically rebranded themselves now to the ‘Syrian National Army’. With Syrian Kurdish forces now on their back heels, they were left with no other option than to approach Damascus to negotiate an alliance. That agreement was inked this weekend, with the SAA now heading towards key towns and cities in the northeast of Syria including one of the centers of fighting – the hotly contested Syrian border town of Kobani. This new reality also means that Turkish military will not willingly fire upon SAA forces inside of Syrian sovereign territory, although Turkey’s jihadist FSA/SNA militias might engage with its old nemesis. Those side skirmishes could prolong instability, but they are not nearly as insurmountable as entrenched US forces in the area.

Reports show the SAA’s arrival in these areas as being met with cheers from crowds – which is a public relations disaster for Washington and its Kurdish ‘Rojava’ nation-building project in northern Syria.

Lastly, aside from securing its key northern border crossings, Damascus in now one step closer to reclaiming its oil and gas fields situated north of the Euphrates river near the city of Deir Ezor, and which have been continuously occupied by ISIS and SDF forces respectively since 2014. Liberating its own domestic energy supply will go a long way towards helping Damascus mitigate some of the economic suffering felt as a result of the imposition of joint EU-US  sanctions, a punitive embargo designed by western powers to strangle the country and foment more domestic unrest.

A New Middle East

The Kurdish request for Damascus protection also flies in the face of years of western propaganda which tried to justify Washington’s policy of military occupation and nation-building by convince the world that the Syrian government was unwelcome in the northeastern region of its own country, and that “Kurdish independence” was a fait accompli. Moreover, Damascus is a step closer to securing previously vulnerable stretches of is eastern border with Iraq which the US was previously ‘managing’ and which allowed ISIS the move through and use as a staging ground for attacks further afield in areas like Sweida and Al Tanf. If a mutual security arrangement can be reached between Syria and Iraq to secure its shared border, then this would potentially revolutionise political and economic affairs in the region, and even globally.

If these events do come to pass, it would be a complete defeat for decades of Washington-led efforts in the region. Together with its allies, the US has worked long and hard to keep this part of the Middle East unstable and divided. It was in this US-led and Saudi and Israeli-engineered environment of destablisation that both al Qaeda and ISIS terrorists were able to emerge and thrive for so long. Its adversaries should remain vigilant though, as history demonstrates, both Washington and Israel are not above provoking instability in order to achieve their shared short-term and long-range goals for the region.

Regardless, the board has been flipped in Syria. Unable to either hold territory or keep thousands of ISIS prisoners in custody, US-backed SDF militias have been exposed as the latest in a long lineage of hapless pawns of Washington in the Great Game. Once new ground locations are secured by SAA forces, then Damascus could invite Russian air support to secure this airspace – an outcome which can only mean that terrorists’ days will be numbered going forward. Any remaining ISIS or Al Qaeda terrorists brigades active in north of the Euphrates will have few remaining escape routes, other than north to seek refuge in the various AKP-sanctioned terrorist enclaves located across the border in southern Turkey.

As this author said back in early 2018, the US-Kurdish dance in northeastern Syria was always a game of musical chairs, and sooner or later, someone had to leave. And that someone is the USA, and immediately followed by ISIS.

As President Bashar al-Assad said already, Syria is determined to reclaim “every inch” of its territory. So it might behoove western powers not to underestimate the will and determination of a country and army which has withstood eight years of a fully internationalised regime change war waged against it.

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Author Patrick Henningsen is an American writer and global affairs analyst and founder of independent news and analysis site 21st Century Wire, and is host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally over the Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR). He has written for a number of international publications and has done extensive on-the-ground reporting in the Middle East including work in Syria and Iraq.

October 14, 2019 Posted by | Illegal Occupation | , , , | 2 Comments