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Hollow victory: US ‘liberates’ Raqqa by destroying it

Campaign to free Raqqa from ISIS ends with total destruction of the city

Alexander Mercouris

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My colleague Adam Garrie has written a vivid description of the footage showing the destruction of the Syrian city of Raqqa, once capital of ISIS’s self-proclaimed ‘Caliphate’ and now reduced to an almost total ruin.  As Adam Garrie rightly says, Raqqa has not been liberated so much as totally destroyed.

This gives rise to many bitter thoughts.

Firstly, it is only last year that Western governments and the Western media were furiously denouncing the Russians for their supposed indiscriminate bombing of the Syrian city of Aleppo, of which a section was at that time occupied by Jihadi fighters aligned with Al-Qaeda.

As I remember all too clearly, the Russians and the Syrian military were regularly accused of committing war crimes in Aleppo, with particular stress given to the supposedly deliberate killing of civilians in Aleppo and the bombing of hospitals the matter.

The question of Aleppo regularly came up in the UN Security Council, leading to angry exchanges and abuse of the Russians there, with the situation becoming so charged that President Putin even felt obliged to put off a visit to France when he was told that French President Hollande would refuse to speak to him.

Meanwhile those Western journalists such as Vanessa Beeley and Eva Bartlett who actually travelled to Aleppo and reported that the situation there was completely different from the way it was  being described were subjected to relentless abuse (which still continues) by the Western media, even as the lurid and on occasion fantastic claims of Russian and Syrian government atrocities which poured out of the Jihadi controlled enclave were given instant credence.

The reality is that Aleppo after the fighting ended there in December emerged intact, and is now once more a populous and industrious city, with the great majority of its buildings still standing, most of its people still there (in fact they remained there throughout the four years of the Jihadi siege) and many of its people who fled coming home.

Though the task of reconstruction is enormous, there is at least a city still left to rebuild, as even the BBC is reporting.

The contrast with Raqqa could not be starker.  Not only is Raqqa all but completely destroyed (the UN says 80% of its buildings have been destroyed, with other eyewitness reports saying there is hardly a building left standing) but it has all happened in total silence, with no words of condemnation from Western governments or the Western media whilst it was happening or since then..

By way of example, David Gardner in the Financial Times has only this to say

…..after a five-month siege spearheaded by Syrian Kurdish fighters under the cover of US air strikes, the black flags have gone, the Isis reign of terror is over, but much of Raqqa lies in rubble

This apparently is a sufficient statement to describe the total obliteration of a whole city.

As for the Guardian – in Britain perhaps the most relentless critic of Russia’s operation in Aleppo last year – in an editorial welcoming ISIS’s defeat in Raqqa it has nothing to say about the city’s destruction at all.

Perhaps given the kind of organisation ISIS is there was no alternative way to defeat it in Raqqa other than to destroy the city.  That is the argument made for example by a commentary by CTV News

……the spectacular devastation of the depopulated city raised questions about the cost of victory against a fanatical opponent and laid bare the difficulties of rebuilding areas where the jihadis put up a ferocious defence, leaving scorched earth and traumatized societies in their wake.

From Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq to Kobani, Manbij and Raqqa in Syria, protracted military campaigns that eventually succeeded in flushing out the militants have left behind a trail of destruction so vast that they appeared to have been undertaken with little regard for the day after….

Still, whether there was another way to wrest control of the city from the extremists is debatable.

Perhaps so, but one wonders why in that case the same argument – or excuse – did not apply last year to Aleppo where the devastation was far less than in “Fallujah, Ramadi and Mosul in Iraq (and) Kobani, Manbij and Raqqa in Syria”.

In reality it is difficult to disagree with the assessment of Major General Igor Konashenkov, the Russian Defence Ministry’s spokesman, who spoke of the “liberation” of Raqqa in this way

Washington’s imagination is that IS controlled in Syria only Raqqa – a provincial city, where about 200,000 lived before the war, and by beginning of the coalition’s five-months operation to liberate it – not more than 45,000.  Compare: Deir ez-Zor with the vast suburbs by the Euphrates before the war had a population of more than 500,000, and it took the Syrian forces with support from the Russian Aerospace Force ten days to liberate all that territory.

The Syrian army’s rapid sweep through territory once held by ISIS, and its successful and rapid liberation with a minimum of destruction of formerly ISIS controlled towns like Palmyra, the ISIS controlled area of Deir Ezzor, and ISIS’s alternative ‘capital’ of Mayadin, does in fact make for a remarkable contrast.

Here it is important to reiterate a point which in all the various discussions about ISIS’s defeat in Raqqa gets almost completely forgotten.

This is that the US had no legal authority to bomb ISIS in Raqqa in the way it did.  Raqqa is a Syrian city in Syria, and its population are (or were) Syrians.  The US nonetheless bombed Raqqa to destruction in order to ‘liberate’ it from ISIS, even though it did so without the agreement of the Syrian government or of the UN Security Council.

By any objective assessment the US’s bombing of Raqqa violated international law, a fact all but confirmed by the convoluted arguments US lawyers have come up with in order to justify the US’s armed intervention in Syria (I discussed these arguments in detail right at the start of the US intervention in Syria and showed why these arguments are wrong in an article I wrote for Sputnik which can be found here).

During the furore last year over the bombing of Aleppo there was much wild talk of Russian officials being prosecuted for war crimes.  In reality Western governments have produced no evidence that the Russians committed any war crimes in Aleppo, a fact which a parliamentary report in Britain has admitted.

By contrast there is at least a prima facie case that the bombing of Raqqa – illegal, disproportionate and obviously indiscriminate as it clearly was – is indeed a war crime, though needless to say there is no possibility that any US official will be prosecuted for it.

The outstanding question about Raqqa, and the one which is the most difficult to answer, is why the city had to be destroyed in the way it was.

There are disagreements about the number of ISIS fighters in Raqqa but the highest total I have seen is that there were 6,000 before the battle began (other estimates are much lower; one I saw put the number as low 2,000).

This is significantly less than the total number of Jihadi fighters engaged in the ‘Great Battle of Aleppo’ last year, which at its peak may have been as high as 30,000.

Given the relatively small number of ISIS fighters in Raqqa, why did the siege take so long (four months) leaving the city so completely destroyed?

Possibly the Kurdish fighters the US used to fight ISIS in Raqqa were simply not up to the job.  There may not have been enough of them, and they may not have been adequately trained.  The YPG – the core of the ‘Syrian Democratic Forces’ which ‘liberated’ Raqqa – is ultimately a locally raised militia rather than a trained army, and – like the Peshmerga in Iraq – it may not be the formidable force it is sometimes made out to be.

There are also reports that some elements of the Arab population of Raqqa were less than happy that their ‘liberators’ were Kurds, and that this made them less forthcoming with intelligence about ISIS positions than had been expected.  By contrast one of the reasons the Syrian army has been fighting ISIS so successfully in eastern Syria is because of the abundant intelligence it receives from local people.

Possibly the US was obliged to make up with air power for the failure of the Kurds on the ground, and their inability to obtain good intelligence about ISIS’s positions.

However judging from the history of US wars it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the reason Raqqa was so completed destroyed was because the US ultimately didn’t care whether it was destroyed or not.

This has been the recurring pattern of US war fighting ever since the Second World War: unconstrained bombing to achieve mostly ill-though-out political objectives heedless of the cost or the consequences for the local people.

The result is wars that seem to go on forever amidst terrible destructiveness, and which in the end almost invariably fail.

Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s former President, at Russia’s Valdai Forum recently described this style of war-fighting and its terrible effect

But soon, we began to get troubles. Extremism arrived again, violence erupted again, terrorism arrived again. And the US did not pay attention to where it was coming from. It began bombing Afghan villages, it began killing Afghan people, it began putting Afghan people in prisons. And the more they did the more we had extremism.

Raqqa was destroyed because ultimately the US military knows no other way.

The result in Raqqa is there for all to see.  The US made a desert, and calls it peace.

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Defeat in Bavaria delivers knockout punch to Merkel’s tenure as Chancellor (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 136.

Alex Christoforou

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The stunning CSU defeat in Bavaria means that the coalition partner in Angela Merkel’s government has lost an absolute majority in their worst election results in Bavaria since 1950.

In a preview analysis before the election, Deutsche Welle noted that a CSU collapse could lead to Seehofer’s resignation from Merkel’s government, and conceivably Söder’s exit from the Bavarian state premiership, which would remove two of the chancellor’s most outspoken critics from power, and give her room to govern in the calmer, crisis-free manner she is accustomed to.

On the other hand, a heavy loss and big resignations in the CSU might well push a desperate party in a more volatile, abrasive direction at the national level. That would further antagonize the SPD, the center-left junior partners in Merkel’s coalition, themselves desperate for a new direction and already impatient with Seehofer’s destabilizing antics, and precipitate a break-up of the age-old CDU/CSU alliance, and therefore a break-up of Merkel’s grand coalition. In short: Anything could happen after Sunday, up to and including Merkel’s fall.

The Financial Times reports that the campaign was dominated by the divisive issue of immigration, in a sign of how the shockwaves from Merkel’s disastrous decision to let in more than a million refugees in 2015-16 are continuing to reverberate through German politics and to reshape the party landscape.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the stunning Bavarian election defeat of the CSU party, and the message voters sent to Angela Merkel, the last of the Obama ‘rat pack’ neo-liberal, globalist leaders whose tenure as German Chancellor appears to be coming to an end.

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Via Zerohedge

Voters in Germany’s economically dominant southern state of Bavaria delivered a stunning rebuke to the ruling Christian Social Union, in an election that delivered another crushing blow for the parties in Angela Merkel’s grand coalition in Berlin.

With all eyes on Sunday’s Bavaria election, moments ago the first exit polls showed a historic collapse for the ruling CSU party, which has ruled Bavaria continuously since 1957, and which saw its share of the vote collapse from 47.7% in the 2013 election to just 35.5%, losing its absolute majority and suffering its worst result since 1950, as voters defected in their droves to the Greens and the far-right Alternative for Germany.

German newspaper Welt called the election “the most painful election defeat of the past 50 years for the CSU”. As predicted in the polls, the CSU experienced a “historic debacle” in the Bavarian state elections, according to Welt. The CSU was followed by the Greens which soared in the election, more than doubling to 18.5% from 8.6% in 2013, the Free Voters also rose to 11% from 9.0%, in 2013.

Meanwhile, the nationalist AfD are expecting to enter Bavaria’s parliament for the first time ever with 11% of the vote, and as such are setting up for their post-election party. Party leader Alice Weidel already is having the first beer in the small community of Mamming in Lower Bavaria.

Establishment party, left-of-center SPD also saw its support collapse from 20.6% in 2013 to just 10% today.

The full initial results from an ARD exit poll are as follows (via Zerohedge):

  • CSU: 35.5 %
  • Grüne: 18.5 %
  • FW: 11.5 %
  • AfD: 11.0 %
  • SPD: 10.0 %
  • FDP: 5.0 %
  • Linke: 3.5 %
  • Sonstige: 5.0 %

The breakdown by gender did not show any marked variations when it comes to CSU support, although more women voted for the Greens, while far more men supported the AfD:

There was a greater variation by educational level, with highly educated voters tending more towards the green GRÜNE (G/EFA) and liberal FDP (ALDE) then the average, while low/middle educated voters tended more towards CSU (EPP) and AfD (EFDD).

This was the worst result for the CSU since 1950.

Zerohedge further reports that alarmed by the rise of the anti-immigration, populist AfD, the CSU tried to outflank them by talking tough on immigration and picking fights with Ms Merkel over asylum policy.

But the strategy appeared to have backfired spectacularly by alienating tens of thousands of moderate CSU voters and driving them into the arms of the Greens.

Meanwhile, as support the CSU and SPD collapsed, the result confirmed the Greens’ status as the rising force in German politics. Running on a platform of open borders, liberal social values and the fight against climate change the party saw its support surge to 18.5%, from 8.4% in 2013. Meanwhile the AfD won 11%, and for the first time entered the Bavarian regional assembly.

“This is an earthquake for Bavaria,” said Jürgen Falter, a political scientist at the University of Mainz.

The CSU had governed the state with an absolute majority for most of the last 60 years. “It was Bavaria and Bavaria was the CSU. That is now no longer the case.”

The latest collapse of Germany’s establishment parties highlights the shaky ground the grand coalition in Berlin is now resting on as all three parties in the alliance, Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union, the CSU and the SPD, are haemorrhaging support. Some are now questioning whether the coalition, already frayed by personal rivalries and near constant bickering over policy, can survive a full term in office.

“This outcome throws ever more doubt on the future of the grand coalition,” said Heinrich Oberreuter, head of the Passau Journalism Institute and an expert on the CSU. “Based on current polls, if an election were held now, the CDU, CSU and SPD would not even command a majority in the Bundestag.”

The CSU will now be be forced to form a coalition government — a humiliating outcome for a party that has run Bavaria single-handedly for 49 of the last 54 years. Its preference is probably for a three-party coalition with the Free Voters, a small party that is mainly focused on local politics. It could also team up with the Greens, though it would be highly reluctant to do so: the two parties are deeply divided over immigration, transport and environmental policy.

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Elizabeth Warren’s DNA ploy backfires big time (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 1.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at Senator Elizabeth Warren’s ‘genius’ idea to accept POTUS Trump’s ‘Native American DNA’ challenge. Let’s just say that Warren will never recover from this self-inflicted wound.

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The Cherokee Nation issued a statement crushing Elizabeth Warren for her “continued claims of tribal heritage.”

“A DNA test is useless to determine tribal citizenship. Current DNA tests do not even distinguish whether a person’s ancestors were indigenous to North or South America. Sovereign tribal nations set their own legal requirements for citizenship, and while DNA tests can be used to determine lineage, such as paternity to an individual, it is not evidence for tribal affiliation. Using a DNA test to lay claim to any connection to the Cherokee Nation or any tribal nation, even vaguely, is inappropriate and wrong. It makes a mockery out of DNA tests and its legitimate uses while also dishonoring legitimate tribal governments and their citizens, who ancestors are well documented and whose heritage is prove. Senator Warren is undermining tribal interests with her continued claims of tribal heritage.

– Cherokee Nation Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin, Jr

Zerohedge reports that Elizabeth Warren just owned herself after releasing a DNA test confirming that she’s as little as 1/1024th Native American – about half the percentage of the average white person.

What’s more, the DNA expert she used, Stanford University professor Carlos Bustamente, “used samples from Mexico, Peru, and Colombia to stand in for Native American” as opposed to, say, DNA from a Cherokee Indian which Warren has claimed to be throughout her career.

Adding to the absurdity are two major corrections by the Boston Globe (which has become the media mouthpiece of Warren’s 2020 damage control efforts of late), letting readers know that “Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 10th generation relative. It should be 1/1,024,” and later updating it to “between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.”

Adding to the absurdity are two major corrections by the Boston Globe (which has become the media mouthpiece of Warren’s 2020 damage control efforts of late), letting readers know that “Due to a math error, a story about Elizabeth Warren misstated the ancestry percentage of a potential 10th generation relative. It should be 1/1,024,” and later updating it to “between 1/64th and 1/1,024th Native American.”

Elizabeth Warren’s got trolled by Trump in the most epic fashion, pushing the Senator to make a blunder that will follow her for the rest of her career.

The Daily Caller’s Benny Johnson exposed Elizabeth Warren’s history of lies in 10 simple tweets…

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Hillary Clinton: Democrats have been TOO CIVIL with GOP (VIDEO)

Civil war becomes more likely as Clinton calls for greater civil unrest after weeks of absolutely insane behavior from leftist activists.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Former presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton just called for an end to civil behavior towards Republicans and conservatives. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour of CNN expanded on in a piece by USA Today, the failed candidate had this to say:

“You cannot be civil with a political party that wants to destroy what you stand for, what you care about… That’s why I believe, if we are fortunate enough to win back the House and / or the Senate, that’s when civility can start again.”

Clinton said that Senate Republicans under Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., “demeaned the confirmation process” and “insulted and attacked” Christine Blasey Ford – who testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about a sexual assault she alleges Kavanaugh committed in 1982 – along with other “women who were speaking out.”

It should be pointed out here that Clinton told a lie. The Senate Republicans did everything possible to hear out Dr Ford’s testimony, and no one has gone on record with any sort of insults or demeaning comments about her. Every Republican Senator who stated anything agreed that something happened to her, but they also agreed that there was no corroboration showing that Judge Kavanaugh was actually involved in any misdoings. USA Today’s piece continues:

Clinton compared the handling of Kavanaugh’s confirmation to “Republican operatives shutting down the voting in 2000,” the “swift-boating of John Kerry,” attacks on former Arizona Sen. John McCain in the 2000 Republican primary and “what they did to me for 25 years.

“When you’re dealing with an ideological party that is driven by the lust for power, that is funded by corporate interests who want a government that does its bidding, you can be civil but you can’t overcome what they intend to do unless you win elections,” she told Amanpour.

Clinton compared Kavanaugh’s swearing-in ceremony at the White House on Monday to a “political rally” that “further undermined the image and integrity of the court.”

She told Amanpour the effect on the court “troubles” and “saddens” her “because our judicial system has been viewed as one of the main pillars of our constitutional government.”

“But the President’s been true to form,” Clinton added. “He has insulted, attacked, demeaned women throughout the campaign – really for many years leading up to the campaign. And he’s continued to do that inside the White House.”

Here, Clinton told at least two more incendiary whoppers.

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First, no one has been specifically after her, and second, President Donald Trump’s record with women including in the White House has been nothing short of stellar and gentlemanly. Nikki Haley, who supported Marco Rubio in the 2016 campaign and has at times been openly critical of Donald Trump, yesterday announced her full support of his 2020 campaign and her intent to campaign with and for him.

By all accounts, Mrs. Haley is a woman.

The first American Civil War had economic policy and states’ rights as its central focus. Slavery was a part of that issue, though slavery was practiced in the North as well in the South before this war began.

Now a new civil war is coming, but perhaps it should be called the American Social War. It is not about any real policy matter at all. It is hysteria, but it appears to be hysteria with a purpose.

The first American Social War has two apparent sides and allying forces and groups:

The Left:

  • pro-gay marriage
  • pro-death (in other words, pro-abortion)
  • anti-Christian, especially Christianity that says these first two issues are wrong
  • anti-GOP / Republican / Conservative
  • “victim class” – feminists, some millenials
  • supporters of legalized use of mind-altering / mood-altering drugs
  • appears to support overreaching socialist style government, featuring “fair” wages, such as a $15.oo minimum wage
  • anti-traditionalist
  • Mainstream media is strongly allied here
  • George Soros is a supporter
  • social media outlets, like Facebook and Twitter are supporters through “scrubbing” of media content
  • anti-white, anti-male, and if you are white, male and Christian, look out. You are Enemy Number One
  • supports and executes violence against all these people they are against, including family members.
  • very zealous, and very monolithic in terms of alignment and energy

The Right:

  • Conservatives
  • people who generally want the government to leave them alone
  • generally favors life, considering abortion tragic and to be avoided, though some consider that it should be made illegal
  • marriage has always been between one man and one woman and it should not be redefined to fit the whims of a few
  • God is sovereign (though many conservatives would never make this connection)
  • No real animus against the left, but at the same time, fed up with being hectored by the left all the time, as we saw in Senator Lindsey Graham’s explosive confrontation against Senate Democrats
  • Generally Republican by party affiliation, though many libertarian and conservatives are also present as well as a number of conservative democrats.
  • seeks to avoid violence. While there do exist a very few neo-Nazi types, their numbers are infinitesimal, and their behavior is rejected by the Right
  •  generally against drug use, though many have unfortunately moderated on the matter of actual illegality

The main characteristic of this approaching war, as stated before, is little more than some sort of outrage over identity politics and perceived victimization. This is something both new and old, as there is always a party in any war that claims that they are fighting because they are in fact the aggrieved party, under the other side’s aggression and suppression.

That factor exists with this war too. However, the reality of that aggression or suppression is that it does not exist, and this makes it very difficult for the “perceived aggressors” to ramp up the zeal needed to carry out the fight.

This factor is often very maddening for conservative people. As a whole they do not wish to fight. They wish to be left alone. The left on the other hand insists that everything must be fought for because the right has somehow managed to take it away from them, or is keeping it away from them.

This is purely fiction but it is almost impossible to convince a leftist that this is so. Tucker Carlson expands on this matter in this report. He makes reference at 6:37 about how Hillary Rodham Clinton is now openly calling for civility to the GOP to end (as if it hasn’t already!), but the entirety of this report begs to be seen to give perspective to the look and feel of this crisis:

This is unfamiliar territory in many ways, and it is unclear how far this will go. But one this is clear: it is testing all available limits, and it may come to real fighting, and real killing, for no reason better than perceived victimization.

It should be understood that the advocates for violence are all people that reject God and traditional values openly. There is certainly a connection.

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