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Here’s how the Jihadis in Aleppo brought about their defeat

Though the greatest credit for the Syrian army’s victory must go to the soldiers of the Syrian army and to the people of Aleppo, the fanaticism and intransigence of the Jihadis in Aleppo, and the intransigence of their Western backers, contributed significantly to their “total defeat” and the Syrian army’s victory.

Alexander Mercouris

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As ‘the Great Battle of Aleppo’ had ended in total Jihadi defeat, I find myself looking back to an article I wrote for The Duran on 30th July 2016, just after the Syrian army cut the Castello road, the main supply route of the Jihadis to Turkey.

In that article I pointed that the reason the Jihadis had got themselves trapped in eastern Aleppo was first and foremost their own intransigence.

Firstly, the so-called ‘moderates’ amongst the Jihadis repeatedly refused to dissociate themselves from Al-Qaeda, which in the form of its Syrian branch Jabhat Al-Nusra eventually took over the leadership of the whole Jihadi movement in eastern Aleppo.

Secondly, they repeatedly refused to abide by ceasefires negotiated for them, instead using them – as I pointed out in my very first article for The Duran, written on 3rd May 2016 – as an opportunity to resupply and regroup preparatory to going back on the attack.

Thirdly, and most importantly, they always and invariably refused to compromise on their one overriding objective, which they were never in a position to achieve but which they still made their inflexible demand, that Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad be removed from office and that they be installed in his place.

I pointed in my July article that this intransigence was leading the Jihadis down a blind alley, setting them up for inevitable defeat.  This is what I wrote

In February the US and Russia agreed a joint ceasefire plan which was confirmed in a succession of resolutions by the UN Security Council.  This called for a cessation of hostilities in Syria which excluded known terrorist groups such as Daesh and Jabhat Al-Nusra.  It also called for rebel groups in Syria to dissociate themselves and separate themselves from UN declared terrorist groups like Jabhat Al-Nusra, and for negotiations in Geneva to be held between all the Syrian parties to achieve a political settlement.

Since February this process has been deadlocked.  The rebel groups in and around Aleppo refused to dissociate themselves or separate themselves from Jabhat Al-Nusra.  Jabhat Al-Nusra for its part, with the support of the other rebel groups, exploited the cessation of hostilities and the pullout in March of part of the Russian aerial strike force to launch a series of counter-offensives against the Syrian army in and around Aleppo.  The negotiations in Geneva went nowhere, with the Syrian rebels and their Western and Arab backers continuing to insist on the removal of President Assad as a pre-condition for a peace settlement.

Since neither the Syrian rebels nor their Western or Arab backers proved willing or able to implement the agreements made in February, the Syrians and their Russian, Iranian and Hezbollah backers resumed the offensive they interrupted in February.  Since that is what the Russians warned would happen if the February agreement was not honoured it is difficult to understand why this should have come as a surprise.  After all the warning was repeated on 17th March 2016 by no less a person than Putin himself:

“If necessary, of course, Russia will be able to enhance its group in the region in a matter of hours to a size required for a specific situation and to use all the options available.  We would not want to do that. Military escalation is not our choice. Therefore, we still count on the common sense of both sides, on the adherence by both the Syrian authorities and the opposition to a peaceful process.”

Just as the Syrian offensive before the cessation of hostilities in February carried all before it because it had the backing of the Russian air force, of Hezbollah and of the Iranian army, so the Syrian offensive that was launched following the failure of the February agreement has similarly carried all before it and for the same reason – because it has the backing of the Russian air force, of Hezbollah and of the Iranian army.  The result is that the rebels in Aleppo, who had secure supply lines to Turkey at the time the February cessation of hostilities agreement was agreed, have now seen those supply lines cut off and now find themselves encircled and trapped.  Again given the balance of forces on the ground this was entirely predictable and it is difficult to understand why anyone should be surprised.

The reason the war in Syria has gone on for so long, and the reason why the rebels in Aleppo are now trapped and facing total defeat, is ultimately the same: the total intransigence of the Syrian opposition and of their Western and Arab backers.  Though negotiated routes out of the war have repeatedly been offered to them (eg. the Arab League’s Peace Plan of 2011, the Kofi Annan plan of 2012, and this year’s February cessation of hostilities agreement) they have always in the end spurned them.  Instead they have insisted on being given what they have never succeeded in achieving on the battlefield: President Assad’s removal from power and thus total victory.  If they are now instead looking at total defeat then that is only because that is where their refusal to moderate their maximalist demands by even the slightest degree has led them. 

In the Syrian war as in all else those who play for all or nothing risk ending up with nothing.

Today, following the Jihadis’ disastrous defeat in Aleppo, their withdrawal from the city, and the Syrian army’s announcement of victory, I feel justified in saying that every part of this analysis has been proved true.

Though the Jihadis did mount a major offensive in August in an attempt to break the siege of eastern Aleppo, in the end they were no more successful than they had been in preventing the siege from being imposed in the first place.

Subsequently events followed exactly as I predicted, so that today the Jihadis are experiencing “total defeat”.  As I said in my July article “given the balance of forces on the ground” it could not have been otherwise.

The one point I did not make in my July article, and which I should have made because it was already apparent, was that the intransigence which finally doomed the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo was fully matched by the intransigence of their Western backers.

The same intransigence is the true reason for many of the civilian deaths in Aleppo.

As I also mentioned in the July article, the Russians were talking about establishing ‘humanitarian corridors’ to evacuate eastern Aleppo’s civilian population as soon the siege was imposed.  Not only were these proposals spurned, but at the time I wrote my July article they were being derided.  Disastrously, they continued to be spurned and derided in the following months, even as the siege of eastern Aleppo tightened, and even as the position of the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo became ever more desperate.

To be clear, there was no reason why the evacuation of Jihadi fighters and civilians from eastern Aleppo which has just happened could not have happened in September, when Lavrov and Kerry appeared to have agreed to it.

By going back on that agreement and by prolonging the siege pointlessly for 3 more months, the Jihadis and their Western backers – including of course the hardliners in the Obama administration – caused far more suffering and many more civilian deaths than there need have been to no military purpose.  This is the key point to remember whenever the subject of civilian deaths in Aleppo caused by Russian and Syrian bombing is brought up.

The Syrian army’s victory in Aleppo had multiple causes of which the staunchness of the Syrian army and of the population of Aleppo under the terrible conditions of a four year Jihadi siege is by far the most important.  Obviously the Syrian army could not have won the victory it has won now if its defences had crumbled or the population had fled or panicked during the long hard years of the Jihadi siege.

However the key point in military terms is that once the Russians and to a lesser extent the Iranians had become involved the Jihadi position in eastern Aleppo became militarily untenable.  The Jihadis only realistic option at that point was either before July to abide by the February ceasefire, or after July to withdraw.

By refusing to do either of these things the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo doomed many civilians to unnecessary deaths.  By failing to criticise them for doing so, the Western powers colluded with them in doing that.

By refusing to do those things which were realistic and rational, the Jihadis also landed themselves with a “total defeat” and helped secure their own downfall.

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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

RT

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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