Syria Spotlight: US Suspends Talks with Russia – What’s Really Going On?
I present both sides of the debate and an interesting video.
The New York Times reports U.S. Suspends Talks With Russia on Syria.
The United States followed through on Monday with its threat to formally suspend talks with Russia about Syria because of the Russian military’s role in the assault on the besieged city of Aleppo. The United States also shelved plans for the joint military targeting of jihadists.
“The United States is suspending its participation in bilateral channels with Russia that were established to sustain the cessation of hostilities,” John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said in a statement, referring to the agreement on Syria reached with Russia on Sept. 9.
“This is not a decision that was taken lightly,” Mr. Kirby said. “The United States spared no effort in negotiating and attempting to implement an arrangement with Russia aimed at reducing violence, providing unhindered humanitarian access, and degrading terrorist organizations operating in Syria,” including fighters of the Islamic State and the Levant Conquest Front, an affiliate of Al Qaeda also known as the Nusra Front.
“Unfortunately, Russia failed to live up to its own commitments,” the statement added. “Rather, Russia and the Syrian regime have chosen to pursue a military course, inconsistent with the cessation of hostilities, as demonstrated by their intensified attacks against civilian areas, targeting of critical infrastructure such as hospitals, and preventing humanitarian aid from reaching civilians in need.”
US Suspends Syria Talks with Russia
Similarly, the Financial Times reports US Suspends Syria Talks with Russia
The State Department said that Russia was either “unwilling or unable” to get the Syrian regime to adhere to the deal and had instead decided to intensify military action against the opposition.
The US announcement comes as Syrian regime forces advanced on Sunday into areas of Aleppo city held by the rebels following several days of intense bombing.
It also follows Russia’s decision on Monday to scrap an agreement with the US to dispose of weapons-grade plutonium, another sign of deteriorating relations between Moscow and the west.
The US had offered to co-operate with Russia on air strikes against jihadi groups in Syria, something Moscow had long been pushing for, in return for Russia getting the Assad regime to halt operations in several contested areas of the country.
Within days of being announced, however, the ceasefire came under threat, first when US aircraft attacked Syrian forces in the east of the country — an incident the Pentagon said was a mistake — and then when Russian and Syrian planes bombed Aleppo, including a strike on an aid convoy.
The Kremlin said it would restore the treaty if the US reduced the size of Nato forces in eastern Europe, ended sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian conflict, and cancelled the Magnitsky Act, which angered the Kremlin by targeting officials implicated in a $230m tax fraud. The bill also demands that the US compensate Russia for losses incurred as a result of the sanctions.
Bill Browder, the London-based financier who lobbied for the Magnitsky Act, tweeted: “[The] Magnitsky case is the ‘canary in the coal mine’. Putin will use [the] nuclear card to openly extort the west in all areas as his influence wanes.”
Samantha Power, US ambassador to the UN, accused Russia of “barbarism” and war crimes in Syria, while Russia has said that the Pentagon worked to undermine the agreement which was negotiated by secretary of state John Kerry.
What follows next is a lengthy guest post, written September 30, by Bernhard at the Moon of Alabama Blog. The end of the guest post is marked. My comments and a video follow.
Begin Guest Post
Syria – The U.S. Propaganda Shams Now Openly Fail
The Obama administration, and especially the CIA and the State Department, seem to be in trouble. They shout everything they can against Russia and allege that the cleansing of east-Aleppo of al-Qaeda terrorist is genocidal. Meanwhile no mention is ever made of the famine of the Houthis in Yemen which the U.S. and Saudi bombing and their blockade directly causes.
But more and more major news accounts support the Russian allegation that the “moderate rebels” the U.S. is coddling in Syria are actually in cahoots with al-Qaeda if not al-Qaeda itself.
Reuters reports (though only at the end of a longer story):
In Aleppo, rebels in the Free Syrian Army are sharing operational planning with Jaish al-Fatah, an alliance of Islamist groups that includes the former Syrian wing of al Qaeda.Meanwhile, in nearby Hama province, FSA groups armed with U.S.-made anti-tank missiles are taking part in a major offensive with the al Qaeda-inspired Jund al-Aqsa group.
The Wall Street Journal is more direct and headlining: Syria Rebels Draw Closer to al Qaeda-Linked Group
Some of Syria’s largest rebel factions are doubling down on their alliance with an al Qaeda-linked group, despite a U.S. warning to split from the extremists or risk being targeted in airstrikes.
Some rebel groups already aligned with Syria Conquest Front responded by renewing their alliance. But others, such as Nour al-Din al-Zinki, a former Central Intelligence Agency-backed group and one of the largest factions in Aleppo, pledged allegiance for the first time to the front in recent days.
Indeed the al.Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham announced publicly that the CIA’s Nour el-Din Zinki and Suqour al-Sham joined its Jihad.
As little back as August the State Department defended Zinki after some of its member abducted a Palestinian boy from a hospital near Aleppo and beheaded him in front of a video camera:
[I]n State Department briefings, [..] spokesman Mark Toner downplayed the incidents, or the possibility that the US would stop arming Nour al-Din al-Zinki just because they beheaded a child..
Toner insisted [..] “one incident here and there would not necessarily make you a terrorist group.”
The new news reports follow after an interview by the German former politician and journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer with an al-Qaeda commander published in English on this site. The commander said that Nusra (aka al-Qaeda) were directly supplied, via a subgroup, with U.S. TOW missiles. He added about such groups:
They are all with us. We are all the al-Nusra Front. A groups is created and calls itself “Islamic Army”, or “Fateh al-Sham”. Each group has its own name but their believe is homogeneous. The general name is al-Nusra Front. One person has, for example, 2,000 fighters. Then he creates from these a new group and calls it “Ahrar al-Sham”. Brothers, who’s believe, thoughts and aims are identical to those of al-Nusra Front.
Another interview recently published by the former military Jack Murphy was with a Green Beret soldier who served in Turkey and Syria. The Green Berets are special forces of the U.S. army. They are specialists in training and fighting with indigenous guerrilla groups against governments the U.S. dislikes. The soldier interviewed was ordered to train “moderate Syrian rebels” in Turkey. Parts of the interview (paywalled) are quoted here:
“No one on the ground believes in this mission or this effort”, a former Green Beret writes of America’s covert and clandestine programs to train and arm Syrian insurgents, “they know we are just training the next generation of jihadis, so they are sabotaging it by saying, ‘Fuck it, who cares?’”. “I don’t want to be responsible for Nusra guys saying they were trained by Americans,” the Green Beret added.
Murphy states bluntly: “distinguishing between the FSA and al-Nusra is impossible, because they are virtually the same organization. As early as 2013, FSA commanders were defecting with their entire units to join al-Nusra. There, they still retain the FSA monicker, but it is merely for show, to give the appearance of secularism so they can maintain access to weaponry provided by the CIA and Saudi intelligence services. The reality is that the FSA is little more than a cover for the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra. …
It is one thing when Russia says somesthing, but another when Reuters, WSJ, and independent German and U.S. subject experts report this as facts. The first can be shunned as “Putin lies” but the others are extremely hard to refute.
The Russians are right. The U.S. did not separate the “moderate rebels” from al Qaeda, as it had agreed to in the ceasefire agreement, because the “moderates” and al-Qaeda are the same. The “moderates” are al-Qaeda. This was not unknown. The 2012 Defense Intelligence Analysis said as much. The CIA of course knew this all along. But the Saudi tool heading the CIA, John Brennan, can not admit such as his masters in the Gulf are also the ones who finance al-Qaeda.
They buy the weapons Brennan’s people had over to al-Qaeda. The “end-user” according to this certificate for a weapon buy in Ukraine is Saudi Arabia. But who will believe that the Saudi dictators need for example 100 obsolete T-55 tanks? The weapons on the certificate, for an estimated $300-$500 million, are obviously for al-Qaeda in Yemen and in Syria. (Did Joe Biden or his son, both heavily engaged in Ukraine, get a provision from the deal?)
As the facts accumulate how long can the New York Times and Washington Post keep up with their propaganda claims. One has to admit, they really try their best. Unfortunately for them, their best is only mediocre. The NYT today found out that Vladimir Putin Relishes His Role as Disrupter. How does the NYT know what Putin “relishes”? The reporter did not ask Putin himself. But he did ask some knowledgeable experts with insight into Putin’s inner mind and those assured the author that this is indeed the case. They know exactly how Putin feels. They are Richard Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations, James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, James B. Comey, the F.B.I. director and Robert Kagan, leading voice of of the neocons and Clinton promoter. Some “experts”.
Add that to dozens of stories on how “Russia indiscriminately bombs civilians/hospitals/bakeries in east-Aleppo” but never hits any “rebels” because none occur in these stories at all. A recent NYT piece of that kind had 14 “voices” in it. Eight belonged to various propagandists associated with the “White Helmets”, four were “western” diplomats, one Syrian government official and a Russian spokesperson were quoted at the end. No Russian military and no one from west-Aleppo, where by far most people in the city live under government protection and daily rocket hail by the “rebels”, were even asked.
But all those tales we hear about the devilish Russians MUST be true! Even the 7 years old Bana Alabeb now tweets from east-Aleppo about her tragic fate under indiscriminate Russian assaults. This in perfect English and with an excellent WiFi and Internet connection as her many “White Helmets” photo attachments and her videos attest. But the whole city is devastated and in ruins she says, with phosphor bombs going off right in front of her house.
But Bana is a very responsible little lady:
Here “mother” phoned up the Daily Mail for an “exclusive” and assures us that this is all true. The Telegraphhas her in a slideshow with sad music and the Guardianpromotes her too. Another Gay Girl in Damascus media fail. In 2011 the Guardian also was part of that scam. If that 7-year old girl is in east-Aleppo and not in Denmark or the UK, I must be on Mars. No sane reader will take such a stunt serious. What Public Relation company came up with this sorry flimflam?
Like the “moderate rebels” fantasy, such tales and the nonsense the “White Helmet” propaganda outlet distributes, are starting to fail. The UAE’s National, a well established international newspaper, recently dug a bit around the White Helmet’s creator, a “former” British military agent working for Gulf defense interests. That does not sound charitable. This is noticeable report, even as it still lacks any details, as it is the first in a major paper that shows some auspiciousness against that outlet.
The Obama administration’s lies about the “moderate rebels” are now openly discussed in major media. The propaganda of #HolocaustAleppo (isn’t abusing the holocaust meme anti-semitic?) is turning into a laughing stock.
Russia is upping its stake in Syria. Additional Russian SU-24, SU-25 and SU-34 jets are arriving. Nearly 6,000 Russian soldiers are on the ground. The CIA’s al-Qaeda “rebels” are losing in east-Aleppo and are in stalemate and under pressure elsewhere. They will be bombed to smithereens. A few new BM-21 multiple missile launchers and heavier anti-air artillery was delivered to them. But those are just band-aids on lethally bleeding wounds. Even MANPADs will not change the situation one bit.
The U.S., the Saudis and especially Brennan’s CIA have lost that fight. Will Obama and Kerry admit it? Or will they throw another Hail Mary and do something crazy?
End Guest Post
Damning Case Against US Policy
All things considered, that’s a very damning case against US policy whether or not Russia is also guilty.
Also consider this video by “Syrian Girl”, even if you dislike the makeup.
Play the video for at least 2:30 or skip forward to the 1:50 minute mark where “Syrian Girl” discusses Hillary’s proposed “No Fly Zone”.
That is obviously a bit of pro-Syrian propaganda, but how much of it is outright wrong?
The clip from 1:50 to 2:32 is a Q&A of US senator Roger Wicker questioning Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford at at Armed Services Committee a few days ago.
Senator Roger Wicker: “What about the option of controlling the air space so barrel bombs cannot be dropped. What do you think of that option?”
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: “For us to control all of the air space in Syria, would require us to go to war, against Syria and Russia. That’s a pretty fundamental decision I am not willing to make.”
The look on Wicker’s face and the lengthy pauses by Dunford when answering the question are both notable.
Regarding Hillary’s proposed no-fly zone, Gen. Joseph Dunford commented, “That’s a pretty fundamental decision I am not willing to make.”
If you seek a war with Russia, vote for Hillary.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock