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Direct attack on Damascus could trigger conflict between US, Russia

The fear is that the US and Russia may accidentally step into a more “escalated” confrontation.

Alex Christoforou

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“While I still believe that a direct nuclear confrontation is a remote (low percentage) possibility, the fear is that we may accidentally step into a more “escalated” confrontation,” said Alex Christoforou, a writer and political commentator withTheDuran.com, in an interview with the Tasnim news agency.

“I believe that both Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin understand that a nuclear confrontation is out of the question. Right now the United States is under the firm belief that it can wage a contained war within Syria’s borders, against the Syrian Army, Russia and Iran.”

Following is the full text of the interview.

Tasnim: Recently, there has been talk of a scenario in which the US would directly target the Syrian Arab Army. Earlier, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, “I would recommend our colleagues in Washington to carefully weigh possible consequences of the fulfillment of such plans”. Later, Washington brushed off the Russian warning, saying, “We’ll continue to conduct our operations as we have for months now over Syria, and we’ll continue to do so taking every possible step we need to ensure the safety of our air crews.”

In similar remarks, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, told a news conference in Moscow on Thursday that any threat against its forces in Syria will not go unanswered after the High Negotiation Committee (HNC), a foreign-backed opposition group, requested anti-aircraft weapons.

In one of your latest interviews you said, “We are moving towards a conflict between the United States and Russia and that would be NATO and Russia…”. Experts believe that the growing tensions between the United States and Russia may lead to a nuclear war and destroy humankind. What is your take on this? What the future may hold and what should Russia prepare for? Kindly explain.

Christoforou: While I still believe that a direct nuclear confrontation is a remote (low percentage) possibility, the fear is that we may accidentally step into a more “escalated” confrontation.

I believe that both Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin understand that a nuclear confrontation is out of the question. Right now the United States is under the firm belief that it can wage a contained war within Syria’s borders, against the Syrian Army, Russia and Iran.

Where things get scary is if Hillary Clinton comes into office. Hillary is the ultimate neocon and has publicly been pushing for a no-fly zone in Syria…in private email leaks Clinton has admitted that a no-fly zone will not work. In Hillary Clinton we have an unstable warhawk who has admitted to having “a public and private” opinion on policy matters. The question is, with regards to Syria, will Hillary’s public desire for a no-fly zone win out over her private admission that a no-fly zone will be an utter disaster.

If neocon Hillary Clinton goes forward with a no-fly zone over Syria, then the conflict has escalated to dangerous levels where a nuclear confrontation becomes a very real possibility.

There is no doubt that we have a full scale proxy war playing out in Syria. We have great powers fighting very different agendas. Russia, Iran and the Syrian Army (which is the internationally recognized government) are fighting to preserve the sovereign nation state of Syria.

The United States is fighting a proxy war in Syria to remove Assad. This means funding, arming and coordinating with Al Qaeda (Al Nusra rebranded) and ISIS (also Daesh or ISIL) elements.

Turkey at first got involved in Syria to cement its place as the regional power player and energy hub into Europe, but then as the Kurdish forces began to make gains, Erdogan shifted his concern towards beating back the Kurds. A Kurdish state in northern Syria is an existential threat to Turkey’s very existence and to this end Turkey will do whatever it takes to prevent this from happening.

And of course we have the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Qatar who are the principle trouble makers in Syria, the states that illegally began the conflict and help it escalate to the tragedy we see today. The principle goal was to place a Wahhabi satellite state in power in Syria and furthermore begin t move energy (gas and oil) via Syria into Turkey and onwards to Europe. Follow the money and you find the bad actors in this war.

This benefits the US petrodollar which is deeply aligned with the Saudi Kingdom as well as removes Europe’s dependence on Russian natural gas. A double win for America, and a big negative for Russia should this have happened.

We also cannot forget that should a black flag fly over Damascus, then Saudi Arabia and The United States would have a very big territorial Launchpad to export terror jihadists and further destabilize regional neighbors like Iran, as well as the Caucus states in the southern underbelly of Russia.

Tasnim: In recent weeks, western countries, Britain and France in particular, have started an anti-Russian campaign, accusing Moscow of war crimes in Syria’s Aleppo. It seems that these countries are part of a blame game policy pursued by the US to save terrorists and undermine Moscow as Syrian troops, backed by Russian warplanes, are making major advances on the ground. What do you think?

Christoforou: Let’s not forget the sinister role that the UK and France played in the illegal destruction of Libya. A once prosperous African nation has now been torn into pieces. The EU was squarely behind this illegal action and the UK and France lead the charge to destroy Libya. Cameron and Sarkozi even made an appearance in Libya once Ghaddafi was murdered by western sponsored jihadist terror gangs, and began proclaiming the beginning of Libyan democracy.

The entire exercise in the demolition of Libya was to colonize the very prosperous and independent African nation. So once again follow the money. In Syria, as in Libya, the UK and France smell the riches of a Saudi – Qatar pipeline into Europe. Russia, Iran and Assad are getting in the way of what could be an energy geo-political game changer. If European states had succeeded in removing Assad, Iran would be next on the regime change list.

Remember when US General Wesley Clark famously rattled off a list of countries that the US and its “partners” had targeted for regime change. Guess what, Syria and Iran are on that list. As was Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya.

This is European/American nation state colonization for the 21st century…and its deadly, destructive and dangerous….and it’s not working out very well either.

Tasnim: It is no secret to anyone that Saudi Arabia and Turkey have now turned into two major regional players given their geographical positions in the Middle East region. According to confirmed reports, they are, directly or indirectly, backing the terrorists in the Arab country, fanning the flames of the ongoing crisis. What are these two states pursuing in Syria? What repercussions such hostile acts may bring about?

Christoforou: It is no secret whatsoever that Saudi Arabia and Qatar sponsor ISIS. The recent Wikileaks Podesta emails even have Hillary Clinton admitting as much to her presidential campaign staff…and i quote…

“While this military/para-military operation is moving forward, we need to use our diplomatic and more traditional intelligence assets to bring pressure on the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia, which are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL and other radical Sunni groups in the region.”

We know who is behind ISIS, and the energy politics behind the desire to overthrow Assad and instil a Wahhabi puppet government in Syria. The “progressive-liberal” west is illegally supporting the regime change of a secular government for that of a brutal monarchy dictatorship. This is why “progressive-liberal” values are nothing more than western media spin. The UK and French governments are complete and utter hypocrites.

Turkey as I outlined above was at one point delusional about its new Ottoman Empire desires. This has now been readjusted to focus on Erdogan’s war on the Kurds. Turkey at this point does not care about ISIS, Al Qaeda or Assad…Turkey just wants to prevent any type of Kurdish state forming in north Syria and Iraq. Should this happen then we are looking at the end of Turkey as we know it.

Via: http://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2016/10/17/1213631/direct-attack-on-damascus-could-trigger-conflict-between-us-russia-analyst

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FBI recommended Michael Flynn not have lawyer present during interview, did not warn of false statement consequences

Flynn is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 18.

Washington Examiner

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Via The Washington Examiner…


Former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who arranged the bureau’s interview with then-national security adviser Michael Flynn at the White House on Jan. 24, 2017 — the interview that ultimately led to Flynn’s guilty plea on one count of making false statements — suggested Flynn not have a lawyer present at the session, according to newly-filed court documents. In addition, FBI officials, along with the two agents who interviewed Flynn, decided specifically not to warn him that there would be penalties for making false statements because the agents wanted to ensure that Flynn was “relaxed” during the session.

The new information, drawn from McCabe’s account of events plus the FBI agents’ writeup of the interview — the so-called 302 report — is contained in a sentencing memo filed Tuesday by Flynn’s defense team.

Citing McCabe’s account, the sentencing memo says that shortly after noon on Jan. 24 — the fourth day of the new Trump administration — McCabe called Flynn on a secure phone in Flynn’s West Wing office. The two men discussed business briefly and then McCabe said that he “felt that we needed to have two of our agents sit down” with Flynn to discuss Flynn’s talks with Russian officials during the presidential transition.

McCabe, by his own account, urged Flynn to talk to the agents alone, without a lawyer present. “I explained that I thought the quickest way to get this done was to have a conversation between [Flynn] and the agents only,” McCabe wrote. “I further stated that if LTG Flynn wished to include anyone else in the meeting, like the White House counsel for instance, that I would need to involve the Department of Justice. [Flynn] stated that this would not be necessary and agreed to meet with the agents without any additional participants.”

Within two hours, the agents were in Flynn’s office. According to the 302 report quoted in the Flynn sentencing document, the agents said Flynn was “relaxed and jocular” and offered the agents “a little tour” of his part of the White House.

“The agents did not provide Gen. Flynn with a warning of the penalties for making a false statement under 18 U.S.C. 1001 before, during, or after the interview,” the Flynn memo says. According to the 302, before the interview, McCabe and other FBI officials “decided the agents would not warn Flynn that it was a crime to lie during an FBI interview because they wanted Flynn to be relaxed, and they were concerned that giving the warnings might adversely affect the rapport.”

The agents had, of course, seen transcripts of Flynn’s wiretapped conversations with Russian then-ambassador Sergey Kislyak. “Before the interview, FBI officials had also decided that if ‘Flynn said he did not remember something they knew he said, they would use the exact words Flynn used … to try to refresh his recollection. If Flynn still would not confirm what he said … they would not confront him or talk him through it,'” the Flynn memo says, citing the FBI 302.

“One of the agents reported that Gen. Flynn was ‘unguarded’ during the interview and ‘clearly saw the FBI agents as allies,'” the Flynn memo says, again citing the 302.

Later in the memo, Flynn’s lawyers argue that the FBI treated Flynn differently from two other Trump-Russia figures who have pleaded guilty to and been sentenced for making false statements. One of them, Alexander Van der Zwaan, “was represented by counsel during the interview; he was interviewed at a time when there was a publicly disclosed, full-bore investigation regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election; and he was given a warning that it is a federal crime to lie during the interview,” according to the memo. The other, George Papadopoulos, “was specifically notified of the seriousness of the investigation…was warned that lying to investigators was a ‘federal offense’…had time to reflect on his answers…and met with the FBI the following month for a further set of interviews, accompanied by his counsel, and did not correct his false statements.”

The message of the sentencing memo is clear: Flynn, his lawyers suggest, was surprised, rushed, not warned of the context or seriousness of the questioning, and discouraged from having a lawyer present.

That is all the sentencing document contains about the interview itself. In a footnote, Flynn’s lawyers noted that the government did not object to the quotations from the FBI 302 report.

In one striking detail, footnotes in the Flynn memo say the 302 report cited was dated Aug. 22, 2017 — nearly seven months after the Flynn interview. It is not clear why the report would be written so long after the interview itself.

The brief excerpts from the 302 used in the Flynn defense memo will likely spur more requests from Congress to see the original FBI documents. Both House and Senate investigating committees have demanded that the Justice Department allow them to see the Flynn 302, but have so far been refused.

In the memo, Flynn’s lawyers say that he made a “serious error in judgment” in the interview. Citing Flynn’s distinguished 30-plus year record of service in the U.S. Army, they ask the judge to go along with special counsel Robert Mueller’s recommendation that Flynn be spared any time in prison.

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Macron offers crumbs to protestors in bid to save his globalist agenda (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 36.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at French President Macron’s pathetic display of leadership as he offers protestors little in the way of concessions while at the same time promising to crack down hard on any and all citizens who resort to violence.

Meanwhile France’s economy is set for a deep recession as French output and production grinds to a halt.

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Via Zerohedge


As if Brussels didn’t have its hands full already with Italy and the UK, the European Union will soon be forced to rationalize why one of its favorite core members is allowed to pursue populist measures to blow out its budget deficit to ease domestic unrest while another is threatened with fines potentially amounting to billions of euros.

When blaming Russia failed to quell the widespread anger elicited by his policies, French President Emmanuel Macron tried to appease the increasingly violent “yellow vests” protesters who have sacked his capital city by offering massive tax cuts that could blow the French budget out beyond the 3% budget threshold outlined in the bloc’s fiscal rules.

Given the concessions recently offered by Italy’s populists, Macron’s couldn’t have picked a worse time to challenge the bloc’s fiscal conventions. As Bloomberg pointed out, these rules will almost certainly set the Continent’s second largest economy on a collision course with Brussels. To be clear, Macron’s offered cuts come with a price tag of about €11 billion according to Les Echos, and will leave the country with a budget gap of 3.5% of GDP in 2019, with one government official said the deficit may be higher than 3.6%.

By comparison, Italy’s initial projections put its deficit target at 2.4%, a number which Europe has repeatedly refused to consider.

Macron’s promises of fiscal stimulus – which come on top of his government’s decision to delay the planned gas-tax hikes that helped inspire the protests – were part of a broader ‘mea culpa’ offered by Macron in a speech Monday night, where he also planned to hike France’s minimum wage.

Of course, when Brussels inevitably objects, perhaps Macron could just show them this video of French police tossing a wheelchair-bound protester to the ground.

Already, the Italians are complaining.  Speaking on Tuesday, Italian cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti said Italy hasn’t breached the EU deficit limit. “I repeat that from the Italian government there is a reasonable approach, if there is one also from the EU a solution will be found.”

“France has several times breached the 3% deficit. Italy hasn’t done it. They are different situations. There are many indicators to assess.”

Still, as one Guardian columnist pointed out in an op-ed published Tuesday morning, the fact that the gilets jaunes (yellow vest) organizers managed to pressure Macron to cave and grant concessions after just 4 weeks of protests will only embolden them to push for even more radical demands: The collapse of the government of the supremely unpopular Macron.

Then again, with Brussels now facing certain accusations of hypocrisy, the fact that Macron was pressured into the exact same populist measures for which Italy has been slammed, the French fiasco raises the odds that Rome can pass any deficit measure it wants with the EU now forced to quietly look away even as it jawbones all the way from the bank (i.e., the German taxpayers).

“Macron’s spending will encourage Salvini and Di Maio,” said Giovanni Orsina, head of the School of Government at Rome’s Luiss-Guido Carli University. “Macron was supposed to be the spearhead of pro-European forces, if he himself is forced to challenge EU rules, Salvini and Di Maio will jump on that to push their contention that those rules are wrong.”

While we look forward to how Brussels will square this circle, markets are less excited.

Exhausted from lurching from one extreme to another following conflicting headlines, traders are already asking if “France is the new Italy.” The reason: the French OAT curve has bear steepened this morning with 10Y yields rising as much as ~6bp, with the Bund/OAT spread reaching the widest since May 2017 and the French presidential election. Though well below the peaks of last year, further widening would push the gap into levels reserved for heightened political risk.

As Bloomberg macro analyst Michael Read notes this morning, it’s hard to see a specific near-term trigger blowing out the Bund/OAT spread but the trend looks likely to slowly drift higher.

While Macron has to fight on both domestic and European fronts, he’ll need to keep peace at home to stay on top. Remember that we saw the 10Y spread widen to ~80bps around the May ’17 elections as concerns of a move toward the political fringe played out in the markets, and the French President’s popularity ratings already look far from rosy.

And just like that France may have solved the Italian crisis.

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Watch: Democrat Chuck Schumer shows his East Coast elitism on live TV

Amazing moment in which the President exhibits “transparency in government” and shows the world who the Democrat leaders really are.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the reasons Donald Trump was elected to the Presidency was because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – against Democrat policy decisions and “stupid government” in general.

One of the reasons President Donald Trump is reviled is because of his pugnacious, “in your face” character he presented – and promised TO present – in the American political scene.

In other words, there are two reactions to the same characteristic. On Tuesday, the President did something that probably cheered and delighted a great many Americans who witnessed this.

The Democrats have been unanimous in taking any chance to roast the President, or to call for his impeachment, or to incite violence against him. But Tuesday was President Trump’s turn. He invited the two Democrat leaders, presumptive incoming House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and then, he turned the cameras on:

As Tucker Carlson notes, the body language from Schumer was fury. The old (something)-eating grin covered up humiliation, embarrassment and probably no small amount of fear, as this whole incident was filmed and broadcast openly and transparently to the American public. Nancy Pelosi was similarly agitated, and she expressed it later after this humiliation on camera, saying, “It’s like a manhood thing for him… As if manhood could ever be associated with him.”

She didn’t stop there. According to a report from the New York Daily News, the Queen Bee took the rhetoric a step below even her sense of dignity:

Pelosi stressed she made clear to Trump there isn’t enough support in Congress for a wall and speculated the President is refusing to back down because he’s scared to run away with his tail between his legs.

“I was trying to be the mom. I can’t explain it to you. It was so wild,” Pelosi said of the Oval Office meet, which was also attended by Vice President Pence and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “It goes to show you: you get into a tinkle contest with a skunk, you get tinkle all over you.”

This represented the first salvo in a major spin-job for the ultra-liberal San Francisco Democrat. The rhetoric spun by Mrs. Pelosi and Chuck Schumer was desperate as they tried to deflect their humiliation and place it back on the President:

With reporters still present, Trump boasted during the Oval meeting he would be “proud” to shutdown the government if Congress doesn’t earmark cash for his wall before a Dec. 21 spending deadline.

Pelosi told Democrats that Trump’s boisterousness will be beneficial for them.

“The fact is we did get him to say, to fully own that the shutdown was his,” Pelosi said. “That was an accomplishment.”

The press tried to characterize this as a “Trump Tantrum”, saying things like this lede:

While “discussing” a budgetary agreement for the government, President Donald Trump crossed his arms and declared: “we will shut down the government if there is no wall.”

While the Democrats and the mainstream media in the US are sure to largely buy these interpretations of the event, the fact that this matter was televised live shows that the matter was entirely different, and this will be discomfiting to all but those Democrats and Trump-dislikers that will not look at reality.

There appears to be a twofold accomplishment for the President in this confrontation:

  1. The President revealed to his support base the real nature of the conversation with the Democrat leadership, because anyone watching this broadcast (and later, video clip) saw it unedited with their own eyes. They witnessed the pettiness of both Democrats and they witnessed a President completely comfortable and confident about the situation.
  2. President Trump probably made many of his supporters cheer with the commitment to shut down the government if he doesn’t get his border wall funding. This cheering is for both the strength shown about getting the wall finished and the promise to shut the government down, and further, Mr. Trump’s assertion that he would be “proud” to shut the government down, taking complete ownership willingly, reflects a sentiment that many of his supporters share.

The usual pattern is for the media, Democrats and even some Republicans to create a “scare” narrative about government shutdowns, about how doing this is a sure-fire path to chaos and suffering for the United States.

But the educated understanding of how shutdowns work reveals something completely different. Vital services never close. However, National Parks can close partly or completely, and some non-essential government agencies are shuttered. While this is an inconvenience for the employees furloughed during the shutdown, they eventually are re-compensated for the time lost, and are likely to receive help during the shutdown period if they need it. The impact on the nation is minimal, aside from the fact that the government stops spending money at the same frenetic pace as usual.

President Trump’s expression of willingness to do this action and his singling out of the Dem leadership gives the Democrats a real problem. Now the entire country sees their nature. As President Trump is a populist, this visceral display of Democrat opposition and pettiness will make at least some impact on the population, even that group of people who are not Trump fans.

The media reaction and that of the Democrats here show, amazingly, that after three years-plus of Donald Trump being a thorn in their side, they still do not understand how he works, and they also cannot match it against their expected “norms” of establishment behavior.

This may be a brilliant masterstroke, and it also may be followed up by more. The President relishes head-to-head conflict. The reactions of these congress members showed who they really are.

Let the games begin.

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