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IDLIB: Where sectarian wars, proxy wars and international cooperation collide

The battle for Idlib will likely be the most fraught of all remaining fights to liberate Syria.

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Ankara has announced that as part of its rights and obligations, in line with the most recent Astana agreement, Turkey will be sending further troops into Syria’s fraught Idlib Governorate. According to Ankara, Turkish troops in Idlib will work along with long-time Turkish proxy forces in the governorate who tend to call themselves FSA, although as with all proxy forces in Syria, the names of any given set of militants is highly fluid.

Idlib is unique among the Governorates of the western half of Syria, insofar as it is the one part of the region which remains almost totally controlled by terrorist factions. What’s more is that as al-Qaeda and FSA terrorists have been shoved out of much of western and southern Syria, competing terrorist factions within Idlib, have turned on one another in what amounts to a civil war between terrorist factions, each vying for control of land, resources and international attention.

Added to this mix, the geographic location of Idlib makes it well placed to act as a kind of buffer zone against Kurdish attempts to annex or else dominate the northern frontier of Syria. Earlier this year, Kurdish groups in Syria confirmed their ambitions to create Kurdish enclaves which stretch along the Turkish border to the Mediterranean. Such a development, were it to come to fruition, would be equally opposed by both Turkey and Syria.

While much of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s rhetoric on his new operation in Idlib sounds markedly similar to that which he employed during the height of Operation Euphrates Shield, an illegal Turkish incursion into Syria designed to destabilise the Syrian government, the facts of Turkey’s current operation are greatly different, albeit in subtle yet profound ways. When it comes to testing Erdogan’s rhetoric against his foreign policies, one only needs to see how closely Turkey is currently cooperating with the Shi’a dominated government in Iraq, a country which is a close Iranian ally. Furthermore, Turkey and Iran are cooperating closely in Iraq and other areas concerning economic and security matters. If Erdogan was purely a Sunni extremist as some of his domestic rhetoric suggests, he would not be cooperating with Iran or Iraq, but he is. This reality speaks for itself: Erdogan is more pragmatic in his executions of policy than he is when describing them to his base at home.

First of all, while Euphrates Shield was illegal, openly anti-Syrian and for all intents and purposes serving the interests of both the US and Israel, Turkey’s current operations in Idlib are part of the legal framework of the Astana Agreements which were reached with Syria’s long time allies Russia and Iran. Furthermore, Damascus gave its approval to the recent Astana Agreement as it has done in respect of all previous such agreements.

Turkey has said openly and in some respects even pridefully, that its Idlib operation is being coordinated with Russia and Iran. Furthermore, Russian Aerospace Forces are working with Turkish troops on the ground against targets in the region.

The practical difference between the current Turkish operation and Euphrates Shield is that Turkey has swapped a dangerous and unrealistic goal of destabilising Syria through the use of proxy Sunni supremacist terrorists, for a realistic and legitimate goal of creating a buffer zone on the Syria-Turkey border which will contain the Syria based Kurdish YPG, an armed group which is allied with the Turkey based Kurdish terrorist organisation PKK.

Today, the Turkish President admitted that this is a major goal of his current operation in Syria. He said,

“YPG is a terrorist organization, which wants to create a terrorist corridor from Afrin to the Mediterranean Sea. We will not allow that and are forced to destroy this corridor. We do not want to seize these territories but we will ensure the security of our borders”.

With Russia acknwoelding that the YPG dominated US proxy force SDF is both colluding with and in other places failing to fight ISIS and with Iran being consummately opposed to the SDF: Turkey, Iran and Russia, along with Syria, all now have a common enemy in the form of the Kurdish led US proxy militia SDF. In this sense, one ought to realistically see Turkey’s new operation in Idlib as a preemptive and possibly soon, an active battle between Turkish and Turkish proxies, against Kurdish positions in Syria, all being done with the direct approval of Russia and Iran and also the tacit approval of Syria.

Whether so-called FSA fighters who in Idlib are little more than mercenaries working for Turkey, actually fight al-Qaeda groups or not, remains to be seen. As it is, Idlib is already a blood bath whose contents are a mixture of blood spilt in a manifold conflict between rival elements of al-Qaeda, the FSA and armed Muslim Brotherhood factions. Put simply, there are no ‘good guys’ in Idlib and haven’t been for some time.

The fact remains that it will not be until the kind of Russo-Syrian cooperation that has been successful in Aleppo, Homs, Hama and Deir-ez-Zor, commences in Idlib, that the world will witness a meaningful liberation of Idlib. Furthermore, because of the manifold nature of the sectarian conflict between terrorist groups in Idlib, there is increasingly little to liberate at this point in time. Here, one can point to Syria and Russia playing a long game, waiting for others, including Turkey, to weed out various factions in order to make the fighting to liberate Idlib more straightforward at a later (but not that much later) date.

Another important factor to remember is how meaningless the title FSA really is. Throughout Syria, various factions call themselves FSA simply to allude to the fact that they are jihadists who are not necessarily directly aligned with the command structure of al-Qaeda nor ISIS. That being said, many of the fighters between various groups are interchangeable.

Just as the US toys with various names for its jihadist proxies ranging from FSA to NSA (New Syrian Army), Turkey is playing the same game of misleading and ultimately inconsequential alphabet soup. What is important to remember is that on the whole, Turkish proxies in Idlib are little more than Turkish mercenaries. So long as Turkey provides the money and/or weapons, they will fight under Turkish orders and at present, in spite of the typical militant Sunni rhetoric that Erdogan offers to his domestic base, in reality. the Turks are going back into Idlib to create a buffer zone against the Kurds and this means, so too will their proxies/mercenaries.

There is always the chance that some factions of the Turkish proxies in Idlib will ‘go rogue’, perhaps even with the tacit consent of some Turkish commanders and align with al-Qaeda as they have done in the past. While this would be an objectively harmful thing, the fact remains that the scope of any such operation would be limited by the prevailing circumstances in Syria.

Everyone from elements of the US State Department to the leaders of France and Germany to the Turks themselves, to the Saudi Foreign Minister, now acknowledge that the Syrian government is not going to fall.

Instead of asking weather Erdogan will revert to his ‘old ways’, a more pertinent set of questions is as follows:

–Will Idlib become a second Golan Heights only substituting Israel for Turkey? 

–Will Idlib fall to Kurdish militants who are on the whole, little more than US and by extrapolation, Israeli proxies? 

–Will Idlib eventually be liberated by legitimate actors and returned to a part of a unitary Syria in line with Syria’s legal position and the stated aims of Russia and Iran? 

The answers to the questions depend on first of all, how successful Turkey is at restraining Kurdish ambitions along the Syrian border and secondly, how committed all of the Astana parties are to respecting Syrian territorial unity.

The best outcome is the full restoration of Idlib under Syrian control. The worst that could happen is a perpetuation of the long time status quo of Idlib being a terrorist no-man’s land. As the US continues to be squeezed out of Syria, it is becoming increasingly unlikely that Washington or Tel Aviv will be able to fully get its hands on Idlib, not least because Turkey is now an adversary of both in all but name and right now Turkey is boss in Idlib, along with two other opponents of US ambitions against Syria, Russia and Iran.

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Can America Ever Come Together Again?

The people who cheer Trump believe the country they inherited from their fathers was a great, good and glorious country, and that the media who detest Trump also despise them.

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


If ex-CIA Director John Brennan did to Andrew Jackson what he did to Donald Trump, he would have lost a lot more than his security clearance.

He would have been challenged to a duel and shot.

“Trump’s … performance in Helsinki,” Brennan had said, “exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was … treasonous.”

Why should the president not strip from a CIA director who calls him a traitor the honor and privilege of a security clearance? Or is a top-secret clearance an entitlement like Social Security?

CIA directors retain clearances because they are seen as national assets, individuals whose unique experience, knowledge and judgment may be called upon to assist a president in a national crisis.

Not so long ago, this was a bipartisan tradition.

Who trashed this tradition?

Was it not the former heads of the security agencies — CIA, FBI, director of national intelligence — who have been leveling the kind of savage attacks on the chief of state one might expect from antifa?

Are ex-security officials entitled to retain the high privileges of the offices they held, if they descend into cable-TV hatred and hostility?

Former CIA chief Mike Hayden, in attacking Trump for separating families of detained illegal immigrants at the border, tweeted a photo of the train tracks leading into Auschwitz.

“Other governments have separated mothers and children” was Hayden’s caption.

Is that fair criticism from an ex-CIA director?

Thursday, The New York Times decried Trump’s accusation that the media are “the enemy of the people.”

“Insisting that truths you don’t like are ‘fake news’ is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists ‘the enemy of the people’ is dangerous, period,” said the Times.

Fair enough, but is it not dangerous for a free press to be using First Amendment rights to endlessly bash a president as a racist, fascist, sexist, neo-Nazi, liar, tyrant and traitor?

The message of journalists who use such terms may be to convey their detestation of Trump. But what is the message received in the sick minds of people like that leftist who tried to massacre Republican congressmen practicing for their annual softball game with Democrats?

And does Trump not have a point when he says the Boston Globe-organized national attack on him, joined in by the Times and 300 other newspapers, was journalistic “collusion” against him?

If Trump believes that CNN, MSNBC, The New York Times and The Washington Post are mortal enemies who want to see him ousted or impeached, is he wrong?

We are an irreconcilable us-against-them nation today, and given the rancor across the ideological, social and cultural chasm that divides us, it is hard to see how, even post-Trump, we can ever come together again.

Speaking at a New York LGBT gala in 2016, Hillary Clinton said: “You could put half of Trump’s supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables … racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic … Some of those folks … are irredeemable, but … they are not America.”

When Clinton’s reflections on Middle America made it into print, she amended her remarks. Just as Gov. Andrew Cuomo rushed to amend his comments yesterday when he blurted at a bill-signing ceremony:

“We’re not going to make America great again. It was never that great.” America was “never that great”?

Cuomo’s press secretary hastened to explain, “When the president speaks about making America great again … he ignores the pain so many endured and that we suffered from slavery, discrimination, segregation, sexism and marginalized women’s contributions.”

Clinton and Cuomo committed gaffes of the kind Michael Kinsley described as the blurting out of truths the speaker believes but desperately does not want a wider audience to know.

In San Francisco in 2008, Barack Obama committed such a gaffe.

Asked why blue-collar workers in industrial towns decimated by job losses were not responding to his message, Obama trashed these folks as the unhappy losers of our emerging brave new world:

“They get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

These clingers to their Bibles, bigotries and guns are the people the mainstream media, 10 years later, deride and dismiss as “Trump’s base.”

What Clinton, Cuomo and Obama spilled out reveals what is really behind the cultural and ideological wars of America today.

Most media elites accept the historic indictment — that before the Progressives came, this country was mired in racism, sexism, homophobia and xenophobia, and that its history had been a long catalog of crimes against indigenous peoples, Africans brought here in bondage, Mexicans whose lands we stole, migrants, and women and gays who were denied equality.

The people who cheer Trump believe the country they inherited from their fathers was a great, good and glorious country, and that the media who detest Trump also despise them.

For such as these, Trump cannot scourge the media often enough.

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Are the mainstream U.S. ‘news’ media evil?

Mainstream media refuses to give airtime to intelligence professionals who can prove the current Russia-DNC narrative is a complete fabrication.

Eric Zuesse

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Eric Zuesse, published originally by The Saker:


William Binney, the U.S. National Security Agency’s former technical director for global analysis, has, for the past year, been globe-trotting to investigate the actual evidence regarding the official Russiagate investigations, and he finds that the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller, who is prosecuting Russia’s Government, can only accuse Russian officials, not convict any of them on at least the important charges, because conclusive evidence exists and has already been made public online, making clear that the important accusations against those officials are false. However, Binney can’t get any of the U.S. major ‘news’ media’s interest in this fact, nor even into openly discussing it with them. Apparently, they don’t want to know. Binney is knocking on their doors, and they refuse to answer.

Patrick Lawrence, at the non-mainstream U.S. newsmedium Consortium News, headlined on Monday August 13th, “‘Too Big to Fail’: Russia-gate One Year After VIPS Showed a Leak, Not a Hack” and he reported what Binney has found and has been trying to get the major U.S. ‘news’media to present to the American public.

The “VIPS” there is Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity, and they are 17 whistleblowing former high officials of the CIA, NSA, State Department, and other U.S. officials with top secret national-security clearances, who jointly signed and published on 24 July 2017, their report, which likewise was at Consortium News, “Intel Vets Challenge ‘Russia Hack’ Evidence”, in which they confirmed the validity of a 9 July 2017 report that had been published by Elizabeth Vos of Disobedient Media . com, which was titled “New Research Shows Guccifer 2.0 Files Were Copied Locally, Not Hacked” and which I then reported in more ordinary language seven days later under the headline “Russiagate Exposed: It’s a Fraud”. I quoted there the analysis’s basic finding “that the DNC computer network which the media tells us and the DNC tells us was hacked by the Russians, … was physically accessed by someone within close proximity of the DNC” and not outside the United States (Russia or anywhere else). The original research-report had been done by an anonymous person who called himself “the forensicator,” and he had sent it to Adam Carter, another highly technically knowledgeable person, who happened to be at Disobedient Media, and who then worked with Vos to prepae her article on it.

Binney, as the nation’s now-retired top NSA expert in the analysis of such matters, then followed up, during the past year, in order to probe more deeply, by contacting various individuals who had been involved behind the scenes; and Patrick Lawrence’s article was a report of what Binney had found. It’s this:

The forensic scientists working with VIPS continued their research and experiments after VIPS50 was published. So have key members of the VIPS group, notably William Binney, the National Security Agency’s former technical director for global analysis and designer of programs the agency still uses to monitor internet traffic. Such work continues as we speak, indeed. This was always the intent: “Evidence to date” was the premise of VIPS50. Over the past year there have been confirmations of the original thesis and some surprises that alter secondary aspects of it. Let us look at the most significant of these findings.

At the time I reported on the findings of VIPS and associated forensic scientists, that the most fundamental evidence that the events of summer 2016 constituted a leak, not a hack, was the transfer rate—the speed at which data was copied. The speed proven then was an average of 22.7 megabytes per second. …

The fastest internet transfer speed achieved, during the New Jersey–to–Britain test, was 12.0 megabytes of data per second. Since this time it has emerged from G-2.0’s metadata that the detected average speed—the 22.7 megabytes per second—included peak speeds that ran as high as 49.1 megabytes per second, impossible over the internet. “You’d need a dedicated, leased, 400–megabit line all the way to Russia to achieve that result,” Binney said in a recent interview. … That remains the bedrock evidence of the case VIPS and others advance without qualification. “No one—including the FBI, the CIA, and the NSA—has come out against this finding,” Binney said Monday. …

The identity of Guccifer 2.0, who claimed to be a Romanian hacker but which the latest Mueller indictment claims is a construct of the GRU, Russian military intelligence, has never been proven. The question is what G–2.0 did with or to the data in question. It turns out that both more, and less, is known about G–2.0 than was thought to have been previously demonstrated. This work has been completed only recently. It was done by Binney in collaboration with Duncan Campbell, a British journalist who has followed the Russia-gate question closely.

Peak Speed Established

Binney visited Campbell in Brighton, England, early this past spring. They examined all the metadata associated with the files G–2.0 has made public. They looked at the number of files, the size of each, and the time stamps at the end of each. It was at this time that Binney and Campbell established the peak transfer rate at 49.1 megabytes per second. … “Now you need to prove everything you might think about him,” Binney told me. “We have no way of knowing anything about him or what he has done, apart from manipulating the files. …

The conclusions initially drawn on time and location in VIPS50 are now subject to these recent discoveries. “In retrospect, giving ‘equal importance’ status to data pertaining to the locale was mistaken,” Ray McGovern, a prominent VIPS member, wrote in a recent note. “The key finding on transfer speed always dwarfed it in importance.” … 

How credible are those indictments in view of what is now known about G–2.0?

Binney told me: “Once we proved G–2.0 is a fabrication and a manipulator, the timing and location questions couldn’t be answered but really didn’t matter. I don’t right now see a way of absolutely proving either time or location. But this doesn’t change anything. We know what we know: The intrusion into the Democratic National Committee mail was a local download—wherever ‘local’ is.” That doesn’t change. As to Rosenstein, he’ll have a lot to prove.”

However, yet another technically knowledgeable analyst of the available evidence, George Eliason, claims that to assert that there were only “leaks” and not also “hacks” would clearly be wrong, because there were both. On August 14th, he bannered at Washington’s Blog, “Beyond The DNC Leak: Hacks and Treason” and he wrote:

There were multiple DNC hacks. There is also clear proof supporting the download to a USB stick and subsequent information exchange (leak) to Wikileaks. All are separate events.

Here’s what’s different in the information I’ve compiled.

The group I previously identified as Fancy Bear was given access to request password privileges at the DNC. And it looks like the DNC provided them with it.

I’ll show why the Podesta email hack looks like a revenge hack.

The reason Republican opposition research files were stolen can be put into context now because we know who the hackers are and what motivates them.

At the same time this story developed, it overshadowed the Hillary Clinton email scandal. It is a matter of public record that Team Clinton provided the DNC hackers with passwords to State Department servers on at least 2 occasions, one wittingly and one not. I have already clearly shown the Fancy Bear hackers are Ukrainian Intelligence Operators.

This gives some credence to the Seth Rich leak (DNC leak story) as an act of patriotism. If the leak came through Seth Rich, it may have been because he saw foreign Intel operatives given this access from the presumed winners of the 2016 US presidential election. No political operative is going to argue with the presumed president-elect over foreign policy. The leaker may have been trying to do something about it. I’m curious what information Wikileaks might have.

Eliason’s analysis doesn’t support Robert Mueller’s indictments any more than the others do. All are essentially incompatible with the accusations (including ones which now have become also indictments) from Mueller. Moreover, as Patrick Lawrence noted, “Indictments are not evidence and do not need to contain evidence. That is supposed to come out at trial, which is very unlikely to ever happen. Nevertheless, the corporate media has treated the indictments as convictions.” Maybe that’s the biggest crime of all.
—————
Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

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The social media ‘DEPLATFORM’ end game: Self-censorship (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 82.

Alex Christoforou

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Alex Jones’ account was put in “read only” mode and will be blocked from posting on Twitter for seven days because of an offending tweet. Twitter declined to comment on the content that violated its policies.

A Twitter spokesperson told CNN the content which prompted the suspension was a video published Tuesday in which Jones linked to within his tweet saying, “now is time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag”.

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey last week defended Twitter’s decision to not suspend Infowars and Alex Jones from the platform, claiming they had not violated Twitter policies.

Dorsey refused to take down Alex Jones and his popular Infowars account, even as his Silicon Valley buddies over at Apple, Facebook, YouTube and Spotify were colluding to remove any sign of Jones or Infowars from their platforms…

“We’re going to hold Jones to the same standard we hold to every account, not taking one-off actions to make us feel good in the short term, and adding fuel to new conspiracy theories,” Dorsey said in a tweet last week. He later added that it was critical that journalists “document, validate and refute” accounts like those of Mr. Jones, which “can often sensationalize issues and spread unsubstantiated rumors.”

According to Zerohedge, still after a CNN report identifying numerous past tweets from Infowars and Jones that did violate Twitter’s rules, those posts were deleted. Tweets by Infowars and Jones deleted last week included posts attacking transgender and Muslim people; a claim that the 2012 shooting massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School was a hoax perpetrated by “crisis actors”; and a video calling David Hogg, a survivor of the Parkland, Fla., high-school shooting, a Nazi.

Dorsey finally caved overnight, with a “temporary suspension”, which will likely become permanent upon Jones’ next violation.

Twitter’s crackdown came more than a week after technology companies, including Apple, YouTube and Facebook removed content from Jones and his site, Infowars. As the WSJ notes, the actions against Infowars intensified a growing debate over what role tech companies play in policing controversial content on their platforms while they simultaneously support the principle of free speech.

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou examine the aggressive purge of conservative right, libertarian, and progressive accounts from Silicon Valley social media platforms, and how Alex Jones’ was the first step towards driving so much fear into the population, that self censorship takes over and authoritarian rule over the Internet takes hold.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Via Zerohedge

In the latest media pit stop, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey sat down with NBC News Lester Holt, where he defended the company’s decision to put Infowars’ Alex Jones under a seven-day timeout over an offensive tweet linking to a video in which Jones encourages his audience to “act on the enemy before they do a false flag,” and to get “battle rifles” ready.

Dorsey said that despite calls to ban Jones last week amid a seemingly coordinated multi-platform blacklisting, he resisted until now.

“We can’t build a service that is subjective just to the whims of what we personally believe,” Dorsey told Holt, while saying he believes a suspension can be an effect deterrent which can change user behaviors.

“I feel any suspension, whether it be a permanent or a temporary one, makes someone think about their actions and their behaviors,” Dorsey added – though he admitted he has no idea if Jones’ timeout will result in any changes in behavior.

Dorsey stated: “Whether it works within this case to change some of those behaviors and change some of those actions, I don’t know. But this is consistent with how we enforce.”

Jones was banned or restricted from using the services of at least 10 tech companies this month, including Facebook and YouTube. Twitter had been the most high-profile holdout, until it announced on Tuesday that Jones was suspended from posting for seven days.

Dorsey later clarified on Twitter that he was “speaking broadly about our range of enforcement actions” with regards to the company’s use of timeouts.

in a follow-up question on weighing the importance of Twitter’s rules versus its moral obligation, Dorsey said the company has “to put the safety of individuals first in every single thing that we do, and we need to enforce our rules and also evolve our rules around that.” –NBC News

Jack Dorsey said on Twitter.

“I don’t assume everyone will change their actions. Enforcement gets tougher with further reported violations.”

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