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Moscow Has Upped the Ante in Syria

As Syrian forces backed by Russia launch the final showdown in Syria against jihadist extremists in Idlib province, the potential for a U.S.-Russia confrontation has never been greater, as VIPS warns in this memo to the president. September 9, 2018

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MEMORANDUM FOR: The President

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity

SUBJECT: Moscow Has Upped the Ante in Syria

Mr. President:

We are concerned that you may not have been adequately briefed on the upsurge of hostilities in northwestern Syria, where Syrian armed forces with Russian support have launched a full-out campaign to take back the al-Nusra/al-Qaeda/ISIS-infested province of Idlib.  The Syrians will almost certainly succeed, as they did in late 2016 in Aleppo.  As in Aleppo, it will mean unspeakable carnage, unless someone finally tells the insurgents theirs is a lost cause.

That someone is you. The Israelis, Saudis, and others who want unrest to endure are egging on the insurgents, assuring them that you, Mr. President, will use US forces to protect the insurgents in Idlib, and perhaps also rain hell down on Damascus.  We believe that your senior advisers are encouraging the insurgents to think in those terms, and that your most senior aides are taking credit for your recent policy shift from troop withdrawal from Syria to indefinite war.

Big Difference This Time

Russian missile-armed naval and air units are now deployed in unprecedented numbers to engage those tempted to interfere with Syrian and Russian forces trying to clean out the terrorists from Idlib. We assume you have been briefed on that — at least to some extent. More important, we know that your advisers tend to be dangerously dismissive of Russian capabilities and intentions.

We do not want you to be surprised when the Russians start firing their missiles.  The prospect of direct Russian-U.S. hostilities in Syria is at an all-time high.  We are not sure you realize that.

The situation is even more volatile because Kremlin leaders are not sure who is calling the shots in Washington.  This is not the first time that President Putin has encountered such uncertainty (see brief Appendix below).  This is, however, the first time that Russian forces have deployed in such numbers into the area, ready to do battle.  The stakes are very high.

We hope that John Bolton has given you an accurate description of his acerbic talks with his Russian counterpart in Geneva a few weeks ago. In our view, it is a safe bet that the Kremlin is uncertain whether Bolton faithfully speaks in your stead, or speaks INSTEAD of you.

The best way to assure Mr. Putin that you are in control of U.S. policy toward Syria would be for you to seek an early opportunity to speak out publicly, spelling out your intentions.  If you wish wider war, Bolton has put you on the right path.

If you wish to cool things down, you may wish to consider what might be called a pre-emptive ceasefire. By that we mean a public commitment by the Presidents of the U.S. and Russia to strengthen procedures to preclude an open clash between U.S. and Russian armed forces.  We believe that, in present circumstances, this kind of extraordinary step is now required to head off wider war.

For the VIPS Steering Group, signed:

William Binney, former Technical Director, World Geopolitical & Military Analysis, NSA; co-founder, SIGINT Automation Research Center (ret.)

Marshall Carter-Tripp, Foreign Service Officer (ret.) and Division Director, State Department Bureau of Intelligence and Research

Philip Giraldi, CIA Operations Officer (retired)

James George Jatras, former U.S. diplomat and former foreign policy adviser to Senate Republican leadership (Associate VIPS)

Michael S. Kearns, Captain, U.S. Air Force, Intelligence Officer, and former Master SERE Instructor (retired)

John Kiriakou, Former CIA Counterterrorism Officer and Former Senior Investigator, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Matthew Hoh, former Capt., USMC Iraq; Foreign Service Officer, Afghanistan (associate VIPS)

Edward Loomis, NSA Cryptologic Computer Scientist (ret.)

Linda Lewis, WMD preparedness policy analyst, USDA (ret) (Associate VIPS)

David MacMichael, Senior Estimates Officer, National Intelligence Council (ret.)

Ray McGovern, Army/Infantry Intelligence Officer and CIA Presidential Briefer (retired)

Elizabeth Murray, Deputy National Intelligence Officer for the Near East, National Intelligence Council (retired)

Todd E. Pierce, MAJ, US Army Judge Advocate (ret.)

Coleen Rowley, FBI Special Agent and former Minneapolis Division Legal Counsel (ret.)

Ann Wright, retired U.S. Army reserve colonel and former U.S. diplomat who resigned in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq War

Appendix: 

Sept 12, 2016:  The limited ceasefire goes into effect; provisions include separating the “moderate” rebels from the others. Secretary John Kerry had earlier claimed that he had “refined” ways to accomplish the separation, but it did not happen; provisions also included safe access for relief for Aleppo.

Sept 17, 2016: U.S. Air Force bombs fixed Syrian Army positions killing between 64 and 84 Syrian army troops; about 100 others wounded — evidence enough to convince the Russians that the Pentagon was intent on scuttling meaningful cooperation with Russia.

Sept 26, 2016:  We can assume that what Lavrov has told his boss in private is close to his uncharacteristically blunt words on Russian NTV on Sept. 26. (In public remarks bordering on the insubordinate, senior Pentagon officials a few days earlier had showed unusually open skepticism regarding key aspects of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement – like sharing intelligence with the Russians (a key provision of the deal approved by both Obama and Putin).   Here’s what Lavrov said on Sept 26:

“My good friend John Kerry … is under fierce criticism from the US military machine. Despite the fact that, as always, [they] made assurances that the US Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, supported him in his contacts with Russia (he confirmed that during his meeting with President Vladimir Putin), apparently the military does not really listen to the Commander in Chief.”

Lavrov went beyond mere rhetoric. He also specifically criticized JCS Chairman Joseph Dunford for telling Congress that he opposed sharing intelligence with Russia, “after the agreements concluded on direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Barack Obama stipulated that they would share intelligence. … It is difficult to work with such partners. …”

Oct 27, 2016:  Putin speaks at the Valdai International Discussion Club
At Valdai Russian President Putin spoke of the “feverish” state of international relations and lamented: “My personal agreements with the President of the United States have not produced results.” He complained about “people in Washington ready to do everything possible to prevent these agreements from being implemented in practice” and, referring to Syria, decried the lack of a “common front against terrorism after such lengthy negotiations, enormous effort, and difficult compromises.”

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) is made up of former intelligence officers, diplomats, military officers and congressional staffers. The organization, founded in 2002, was among the first critics of Washington’s justifications for launching a war against Iraq. VIPS advocates a US foreign and national security policy based on genuine national interests rather than contrived threats promoted for largely political reasons. An archive of VIPS memoranda is available at Consortiumnews.com.

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Hideo WatanabeCudwieserWilliam KierathTEPRic Recent comment authors
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drew currah
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drew currah

Good letter.
Unfortunately, the Anglo/Zionists are not reasonable people.

Richard Steven Hack
Guest
Richard Steven Hack

Waste of everyone’s time to print this: no one in US authority will see it and everyone else is preaching to the converted.

Floyd Breker
Guest

Succinctly put, I would also say fairly unprecedented. Things are getting rather desperate and the fact that the U.S. in particular seems to have little if any overt clue as to the RF’s military capability is shocking.

Cudwieser
Guest
Cudwieser

They know fine well what Russia are capable of and how measured they’ll be. Be shocker is how willing a sacrafice the West is willing to make to justify their BS. What would send a chill up them is a war on their home ground.

William Kierath
Guest
William Kierath

If you never said anything else the most significant thing was “What would send a chill up them is a war on their home ground”…….. The US has never had any “International” war on their soil and they expect their “Exceptionalism” dictates there will not be any “WAR on their soil”. As a result the concept there could be will be more than chilling but Revolutionary……..We will see?

Cudwieser
Guest
Cudwieser

That’s not entirely true. The Brits were sent packing centuries before, but that were local militia defying tyrany from without. What America will face is a war against the tyrany within. The people must (and will) oppose the globalists and the duplicitus war mongers that would throw the American people to the wolves (or bears in Russias case).

John Nolan
Guest
John Nolan

Further evidence that the imbeciles controlling Amazia are completely out of their cotton picking minds, Chump is a little dog on a chain, doing just what he is told, and, one suggests, is Amazia’s last president. Christians, in Russia, Auzlazia, etc.are expecting the termination of this now battered, tired planet, looking for the return of the LORD,Who is coming, not to fix this mess, but observe the beasts destroy it, through their lust for power, war, violence, etc. The photo above,of an enraged, psychotic killer says it all, and, people, get ready to kiss your children, for this Chump is,it… Read more »

Cudwieser
Guest
Cudwieser

Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity
What a title. If it means anything the education will be very real and very effective, not to mention lasting and dangerous.

Vince Dhimos
Guest

It is of course useful to present opinions of American leaders regarding US-Russian relations. However, what is needed is a look behind the scenes in Russia and what the Russian commentators and analysts are saying that is intended purely for domestic consumption. THAT is what we need to know because it often foreshadows what the Duma and Kremlin will later decide to do vis-a-vis the US. Here is a case in question: http://www.newsilkstrategies.com/news–analysis/russia-wont-be-americas-whipping-boy-any-more-part-1 Not only did the Duma transform Kedmi’s suggestion (aired on Russian TV) into practice but they went further and decided to change the old “rules of engagement”… Read more »

Prince
Guest
Prince

This open letter is a Zionist trick I think

Bill Keidan
Guest
Bill Keidan

An excellent letter, if it reaches the eyes of President Trump, I hope he will act on it. At the moment I believe him to be hostage to the Deep State but if these 51,000 sealed indictments become activated there may then be room to do what he knows to be right.

Ric
Guest

Dont worry Trump knows what is going on.He recently started preparedness month in the US,
He plays a word game,you never know what he will do next.Yes I will means the opposite and vise versa.
We are about to see where Trump really is and who he works for.

TEP
Guest
TEP

He needs to publicly address the US population in a live broadcast asking (as Commander in Chief) his military to stand down and withdraw from Syria. Anything less will be pushed aside by false flags, intelligence ‘received’, ‘unnamed sources’ etc etc. If his military will not do as he asks, then the population and broader world will clearly see that others are ‘in charge’ and that those people are pushing for perpetual illegal war.

Hideo Watanabe
Guest

I find some familiar names among VIPS but their following statement sounds to me very peculiar because no matter what Trump says, Putin is not naive enough to take it as the commitment of the US, which I think these VIPS know well. “If you wish to cool things down, you may wish to consider what might be called a pre-emptive ceasefire. By that we mean a public commitment by the Presidents of the U.S. and Russia to strengthen procedures to preclude an open clash between U.S. and Russian armed forces. We believe that, in present circumstances, this kind of… Read more »

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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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Erdogan accepts Syria DMZ off-ramp, in deal with Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 111.

Alex Christoforou

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The deal struck in Sochi averts a large scale Syria’s offensive on Idlib, as Turkey gives it guarantee to monitor what will effectively become a demilitarized zone.

According to the agreement, troops from Russia and Turkey will enforce a new demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Idlib, from which ISIS/Al Qaeda rebels will be required to withdraw by the middle of next month.

Speaking alongside Erdogan, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the 15 to 20 km-wide zone would be established by October 15th. The DMZ would require a complete “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib, including the rebranded Al-Qaeda affiliated Hay’et Tahrir al-Sham (HTS).

Putin also noted that heavy weapons would be withdrawn from the DMZ by all opposition forces by October 10th, which is a move supported by the Syrian government.

The Russian President described the agreement as a “serious result” further saying that “Russia and Turkey have confirmed their determination to counter terrorism in Syria in all its forms”.

Erdogan said both his country and Russia would carry out coordinated patrols in the demilitarized zone:

“We decided on the establishment of a region that is cleaned of weapons between the areas which are under the control of the opposition and the regime.”

“In return, we will ensure that radical groups, which we will designate together with Russia, won’t be active in the relevant area.”

According to Al Jazeera Iran’s foreign minister has hailed an agreement between Turkey and Russia to avert an assault on the Syrian rebel-held Idlib province, as an example of “responsible diplomacy”.

An agreement to halt plans for an offensive on the last major rebel-held stronghold was announced in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Monday after a meeting between the Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

On his Twitter account, Zarif wrote: “Intensive responsible diplomacy over the last few weeks-pursued in my visits to Ankara & Damascus, followed by the Iran-Russia-Turkey Summit in Tehran and the meeting (in) Sochi-is succeeding to avert war in #Idlib with a firm commitment to fight extremist terror. Diplomacy works.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the agreement reached in Sochi, which for now avoids full scale conflict in Idlib, Syria. Who won, who lost, and which interests were met with the DMZ agreement?

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Via Xinhuanet

An anticipated Syrian military offensive on the northwestern province of Idlib is on hold after Turkey and Russia reached a deal following Ankara’s guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, experts said.

The deal was reached Monday by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, as the two sides agreed to create a demilitarized buffer zone in Idlib, the last rebel stronghold.

This agreement brings Turkey to a position of giving a guarantee on behalf of the rebel groups, the experts said.

“Moscow is convinced that it would not be able to handle the burden of a humanitarian tragedy in case of a military offensive in Idlib,” said Metin Gurcan, a Turkish security analyst with the Istanbul Policy Center of Sabanci University.

Russia has also secured its airbases in northern Syria, including its airbase in Hmeymim as a guarantee by Turkey under the Sochi agreement, he said.

Gurcan recalled a trilateral summit of Turkey, Iran and Russia held in Iranian capital Tehran early September, which ended without agreement as Erdogan’s call for a ceasefire in Idlib was rejected by Moscow and Tehran.

Erdogan’s proposal for a ceasefire by all parties in Idlib was rejected by Putin on the grounds that those groups were not represented at the table there, he said.

“Now Turkey has given a guarantee on behalf of radical groups which Putin earlier said that ceasefire cannot be discussed because they were not represented at Tehran meeting,” Gurcan said.

Now everyone is curious how Turkey has given guarantee to Moscow and how will those radical groups accept a proposal for demilitarization by surrendering heavy weapons and withdrawing from the demilitarized zone, Gurcan noted.

“Ankara has given this promise relying on its military power on the ground and on its capacity to convince armed opposition groups,” he said.

Turkish army has reinforced its presence in Idlib in the past few months, and Turkey has 12 military outposts with 1,200-1,300 troops on the border line of the province separating the rebel stronghold from the pro-Iran militia-controlled South of Aleppo and the government-controlled southeast, Gurcan said.

Rebel groups, including the Free Syrian Army, in the region are gathered with Turkish backing under the banner of the “National Front for Liberation.”

Putin and Erdogan agreed on Monday in Sochi to create a 15-20 km buffer zone along the line of contact between rebels and regime troops by Oct. 15.

The agreement entails the “withdrawal of all radical fighters” from Idlib as well as “heavy weaponry from this zone,” Putin said at the joint press conference after signing the deal with Erdogan.

By the end of the year, transportation routes between the key port of Latakia and Aleppo as well as the city of Hama must be restored, Putin added.

The Russian leader also said all heavy weapons had to be withdrawn from the zone by Oct. 10, according to Erdogan’s proposal.

Ankara has been warning against any military offensive by Russia-backed Syrian regime forces in Idlib, warning that it would lead to a humanitarian crisis and refugee influx to the Turkish border.

Turkey and Russia, along with Iran, are guarantors of the Astana deal which declared ceasefire in four de-escalation zones in Syria, including Idlib.

Turkey will deploy more troops in Idlib province after the Sochi deal, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Tuesday.

“We will need extra troop reinforcements. Turkey and Russia will patrol on the border areas. Civilians and moderate (opposition) will stay here,” Cavusoglu said.

Another outcome of the Sochi deal is that Turkey and Russia prevented a possible attack by the United States in Idlib, Naim Baburoglu from Aydin University said.

He recalled that the U.S. was giving signals that it wanted to intervene in the situation in Idlib, if Syrian government troops launch an assault on the rebel stronghold.

Washington recently threatened to take swift and decisive actions against any use of chemical weapons in Idlib.

“This agreement showed that the U.S. has room for maneuver only in the east of Euphrates and Manbij region,” Baburoglu said.

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Pat Buchanan: “The Late Hit” On Judge Kavanaugh

Wha exactly is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via Buchanan.org:


Upon the memory and truthfulness of Christine Blasey Ford hangs the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, his reputation and possibly his career on the nation’s second-highest court.

And much more. If Kavanaugh is voted down or forced to withdraw, the Republican Party and conservative movement could lose their last best hope for recapturing the high court for constitutionalism.

No new nominee could be vetted and approved in six weeks. And the November election could bring in a Democratic Senate, an insuperable obstacle to the elevation of a new strict constructionist like Kavanaugh.

The stakes are thus historic and huge.

And what is professor Ford’s case against Judge Kavanaugh?

When she was 15 in the summer of ’82, she went to a beer party with four boys in Montgomery County, Maryland, in a home where the parents were away.

She says she was dragged into a bedroom by Brett Kavanaugh, a 17-year-old at Georgetown Prep, who jumped her, groped her, tried to tear off her clothes and cupped her mouth with his hand to stop her screams.

Only when Kavanaugh’s friend Mark Judge, laughing “maniacally,” piled on and they all tumbled off the bed, did she escape and lock herself in a bathroom as the “stumbling drunks” went downstairs. She fled the house and told no one of the alleged rape attempt.

Not until 30 years later in 2012 did Ford, now a clinical psychologist in California, relate, in a couples therapy session with her husband, what happened. She says she named Kavanaugh as her assailant, but the therapist’s notes of the session make no mention of Kavanaugh.

During the assault, says Ford, she was traumatized. “I thought he might inadvertently kill me.”

Here the story grows vague. She does not remember who drove her to the party. She does not say how much she drank. She does not remember whose house it was. She does not recall who, if anyone, drove her home. She does not recall what day it was.

She did not tell her parents, Ford says, as she did not want them to know she had been drinking. She did not tell any friend or family member of this traumatic event that has so adversely affected her life.

Said Kavanaugh in response, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time.”

Mark Judge says it never happened.

Given the seriousness of the charges, Ford must be heard out. But she also needs to be cross-examined and have her story and character probed as Kavanaugh’s has been by FBI investigators as an attorney for the Ken Starr impeachment investigation of Bill Clinton, a White House aide to George Bush, a U.S. appellate judge and a Supreme Court nominee.

During the many investigations of Kavanaugh’s background, nothing was unearthed to suggest something like this was in character.

Some 65 women who grew up in the Chevy Chase and Bethesda area and knew Kavanaugh in his high school days have come out and spoken highly of his treatment of girls and women.

Moreover, the way in which all of this arose, at five minutes to midnight in the long confirmation process, suggests that this is political hardball, if not dirt ball.

When Ford, a Democrat, sent a letter detailing her accusations against Kavanaugh to her California congresswoman, Anna Eshoo, Ford insisted that her name not be revealed as the accuser.

She seemingly sought to damage or destroy the judge’s career behind a cloak of anonymity. Eshoo sent the letter on to Sen. Diane Feinstein, who held it for two months.

Excising Ford’s name, Feinstein then sent it to the FBI, who sent it to the White House, who sent it on to the Senate to be included in the background material on the judge.

Thus, Ford’s explosive charge, along with her name, did not surface until this weekend.

What is being done here stinks. It is a transparently late hit, a kill shot to assassinate a nominee who, before the weekend, was all but certain to be confirmed and whose elevation to the Supreme Court is a result of victories in free elections by President Trump and the Republican Party.

Palpable here is the desperation of the left to derail Kavanaugh, lest his elevation to the high court imperil their agenda and the social revolution that the Warren Court and its progeny have been able to impose upon the nation.

If Kavanaugh is elevated, the judicial dictatorship of decades past, going back to the salad days of Earl Warren, William Brennan, Hugo Black and “Wild Bill” Douglas, will have reached its end. A new era will have begun.

That is what is at stake.

The Republican Senate should continue with its calendar to confirm Kavanaugh before Oct. 1, while giving Ford some way to be heard, and then Kavanaugh the right to refute. Then let the senators decide.

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