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Here’s why there are no “moderate rebels” in Aleppo or anywhere else in Syria

Given the insistence by militant Jihadists in Syria of imposing their own extremist version of Sharia law, co-existence between them and so-called “moderates” is actually impossible.

Alexander Mercouris

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On the subject of the Syrian war there has been much deserved mockery of the name change by Jabhat Al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s local Syrian branch, to its new name: “Jabhat Fateh al-Sham”.   It has been rightly pointed out that this name change, and the organisation’s attempt to distance itself from its Al-Qaeda parent, is a transparent fraud made all the more obvious by the fact that Ayman Al-Zawahiri, Al-Qaeda’s leader, has given it his blessing.

A point hardly anyone makes however is that these name changes and re-labellings of Jihadist groups in Syria go on all the time.  Our contributor Afra’a Dagher – a Syrian writer who actually writes for The Duran from Syria – wrote about this phenomenon weeks ago on 17th May 2016, long before Jabhat Al-Nusra announced its latest name change:

“In Syria fighters call themselves the “Free Syrian Army” or “Islamic state fighters” or Daesh or by any other name that suits them.  There is nothing “magical” about this.  It is just a  kaleidoscope of names intended to cause confusion.  In reality it is always the same people calling themselves by these different names.

The US and its allies of course know this.  They keep up this game of names so that they can go on pretending that there are “moderates” in Syria who they can support in place of the terrorists they actually support, and that these so-called “moderates” are fit to form a transitional government in place of the legitimate Syrian government and can also be persuaded to fight Daesh.  In Syria nobody is fooled by any of this.

The truth is that the Syrian people are being slaughtered by cold-blooded mercenaries.   They may call themselves the “Free Syrian Army,” “Ahrar Al Sham”,  “Ahlo Al Sonna”, “Jaish Al Esalm” or any of a myriad of other names all of which however simply designate factions affiliated with Al-Qaeda’s local franchise the Al Nusra front.  They are however always the same cold-blooded mercenaries pouring into Syria from Turkey paid for the Gulf Arab states to commit aggression upon Syria’s people.”

The primary purpose of this constant shifting of names and labels is – as Afra’a Dagher says – to give the impression that there are moderate groups in Syria fighting the Syrian government when in fact there are none. 

There is a Syrian opposition based mainly in Istanbul and London which is distinct from the groups that are actually fighting in Syria, though it maintains contacts with them.  However it is debatable how much support in Syria it actually has.  It is difficult to avoid the impression that the reason this opposition insists so intransigently on President Assad’s removal from power as a pre-condition for a political settlement is because it knows that he has far more support inside Syria than it does, and that in any genuinely free and fair election against any candidate it supported he would easily win. 

There was also once a genuine domestic non-sectarian predominantly leftist opposition within Syria.  However it too appears to have been small.  My impression is that under the pressure of the war the great majority of its supporters and some of its leaders have quietly gone over to the side of the government.

There were of course also factional disputes before the war within the government itself, which got an undue amount of attention in the Western media even though factional infighting is universal amongst all Arab governments.  Today these factional disputes have become irrelevant as all sections of the Syrian government have united together to fight the common enemy in the war.

Lastly, there are also large numbers of local village militias led by local strongmen that appeared all over the Syrian countryside as government authority collapsed with the withdrawal of the Syrian police and army to defend the cities.  Some of these militias, in order to get access to Western supplies and to supplies from the Gulf, have claimed allegiance to the otherwise largely fictional “Free Syrian Army” – an ephemeral group set up at the end of 2011 by Western intelligence agencies and certain Arab governments from deserters from the Syrian army. Most of these militias in reality have little or no real commitment to any side in the war.  Since the announcement of the “cessation of hostilities” in February many of them have quietly made their peace with the government in local deals often brokered by the Russians.

The overwhelming majority of fighters actually waging war against the Syrian government in Syria are and always have been Jihadi Salafists.  This has been true ever since the war began in earnest in the spring and early summer of 2012 with the rebel attempts to storm Aleppo and Damascus.  As for the 2011 protests which preceded the war, they were never as peaceful as is of often claimed, and seem to have been dominated by religious groups like the Muslim Brotherhood, though some sections of the non-sectarian leftist opposition were also initially involved in them.     

The overwhelming preponderance of Jihadi Salafist fighters amongst the rebels continues in Aleppo today, just as it continues in the areas of Syria further east which are controlled by Daesh. Given the fanatical insistence by Jihadi Salafist groups in Syria on imposing their brutal and extremist version of Sharia law on everybody they come across in the areas of Syria they control, their co-existence with so-called “moderates” is actually physically impossible.  Any genuine “moderates” who found themselves in areas controlled by these Jihadi Salafists, or who even came into contact with them, would quickly find themselves dead.

Not only do the groups these Jihadi Salafist fighters belong to frequently change their names but the fighters themselves move easily from one group to another.  Though the majority of these fighters are (probably) native Syrians a significant minority are foreigners.  What are by far the two best organised and most powerful Jihadi groups fighting the Syrian government in Syria – Jabhat Al-Nusra (or“Jabhat Fateh al-Sham”) and Daesh (or the “Islamic State” or ISIS or ISIL) – are both foreign based.  In the case of Jabhat Al-Nusra it owes ultimate allegiance to Al-Qaeda, which is based in Pakistan or Afghanistan and which is led by Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who is Egyptian.  In the case of Daesh it owes its allegiance to the man who once called himself Ibrahim Abu-Bakr Al-Baghdadi but who now calls himself “the Caliph Ibrahim”.  He is Iraqi, as are most of his associates.   As it happens most of the territory Daesh controls – including Mosul, the biggest city within its so-called “Caliphate” – is also in Iraq. Though Raqqa in Syria is sometimes referred to as Daesh’s “capital”, most of Daesh’s leadership – including “the Caliph Ibrahim” – actually seem to be based in Iraq, which is not surprising given that they are mostly Iraqis.

On this occasion Jabhat Al-Nusra’s re-labelling was just too transparent even for the US and other Western supporters of the regime change policy in Syria to go along with it.  However the leadership of Jabhat Al-Nusra could be forgiven for expecting otherwise given that what they have just done has worked so often before. 

To avoid confusion I will continue to call the organisation “Jabhat Al-Nusra”, which is the name by which it is best known.

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James Woods Suspended From Twitter Over Satirical Meme That Could “Impact An Election”

James Woods crushes Jack Dorsey: “You are a coward, @Jack.”

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Outspoken conservative actor James Woods was suspended from posting to Twitter over a two-month-old satirical meme which very clearly parodies a Democratic advertisement campaign. While the actor’s tweets are still visible, he is unable to post new content.

The offending tweet from July 20, features three millennial-aged men with “nu-male smiles” and text that reads “We’re making a Woman’s Vote Worth more by staying home.” Above it, Woods writes “Pretty scary that there is a distinct possibility this could be real. Not likely, but in this day and age of absolute liberal insanity, it is at least possible.”

According to screenshots provided by an associate of Woods’, Twitter directed the actor to delete the post on the grounds that it contained “text and imagery that has the potential to be misleading in a way that could impact an election.

In other words, James Woods, who has approximately 1.72 million followers, was suspended because liberals who don’t identify as women might actually take the meme seriously and not vote. 

In a statement released through associate Sara Miller, Woods said “You are a coward, @Jack,” referring to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. “There is no free speech for Conservatives on @Twitter.

Earlier this month, Woods opined on the mass-platform ban of Alex Jones, tweeting: ““I’ve never read Alex Jones nor watched any of his video presence on the internet. A friend told me he was an extremist. Believe me that I know nothing about him. That said, I think banning him from the internet is a slippery slope. This is the beginning of real fascism. Trust me.”

Nu-males everywhere non-threateningly smirk at Woods’ bad fortune…

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Another witness named by Ford becomes third person to deny being at party

A woman believed to have been one of five people at a party 35 years ago where Ford claims she was assaulted by Kavanaugh is now the fourth person to deny being at any such party.

The Duran

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Via The Washington Examiner


A witness, reportedly named by Christine Blasey Ford as one of the people at the high school party where Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh allegedly sexually assaulted her, told the Senate Judiciary Committee on Saturday she was not there.

The attorney for Leland Ingham Keyser told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Keyser does not remember being at the party Ford described as the location of the alleged assault.

“Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford,” Keyser said in the statement. CNN reported Keyser is a lifelong friend of Ford’s.

Keyser, whom the New York Times reported is one of the people Ford named as being in attendance at the party, is the third witness who has denied knowing about the alleged assault. Mark Judge and Patrick Smyth said earlier this week they did not remember the party in question.

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegation.

The news comes after Ford, through her attorneys, tentatively agreed to testify on Thursday, after days of negotiations over the timing and conditions of her

Committee chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, had repeatedly extended deadlines set for Ford’s team on the decision, including three on Friday and one at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Grassley threatened to proceed with a committee vote on Kavanaugh’s nomination Monday if he did not hear from Ford.

“Five times now we [have] granted extension for Dr Ford to decide if she wants to proceed [with] her desire stated one [week] ago that she wants to tell senate her story,” Grassley tweeted Friday. “Dr Ford if u changed ur mind say so so we can move on I want to hear ur testimony. Come to us or we to u.”

The extended discussions have been labeled a delaying tactic by some Republicans.

Ford’s attorneys and Grassley’s aides will reportedly continue negotiations Sunday on the details of the conditions of Ford’s testimony, per the New York Times.

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Was NYT Story About Rosenstein ‘Coup Attempt’ A Setup?

The New York Times is reporting that Rod Rosenstein pushed a plan to record President Trump and invoke the 25th Amendment to remove Trump from office.

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Via Zerohedge


Is the FBI trying to goad President Trump into firing the man in charge of supervising the Mueller probe? That’s what Sean Hannity and a handful of  Trump’s Congressional allies think.

According to a report in Politico, Republicans in Congress are approaching a story about Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein attempting to organize a palace coup with extreme caution, despite having twice nearly gathered the votes to remove him in the recent past.

On Friday, the NYT reported a bombshell story alleging that Rosenstein had tried to recruit administration officials to secretly tape conversations with the president in order to help justify removing Trump under the 25th amendment. Rosenstein vehemently denied the story, which was largely based on confidential memos written by former Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe. And others who were reportedly in attendance at meeting between McCabe and Rosenstein said the Deputy AG was being “sarcastic” when he suggested that the president be taped.

Meanwhile, Trump allies including Ohio Congressman Jim Jordan and Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz are saying that the story should be treated with suspicion. Jordan and Freedom Caucus leader Mark Meadows once filed articles of impeachment against Rosenstein. But now, both Meadows and Jordan intend to proceed with caution, telling Politico that he would like to see the memos that the story was based on.

House Freedom Caucus leaders Mark Meadows and Jim Jordan, who led a charge to impeach Rosenstein this summer, have said they want to hear from Rosenstein and see documents allegedly describing the comments before they decide what to do.That’s awarded Rosenstein a courtesy they’ve never given him in the past.

“I think Rod needs to come before Congress this week and explain under oath what exactly he said and didn’t say,” Meadows said at the Values Voters Summit Saturday.

The newfound hesitation to oust Rosenstein highlights a cautious approach Trump allies have adopted as the Republican party barrels toward a potential bloodbath in the midterms. Some Republicans fear Trump firing Rosenstein now would only further energize Democrats making the case to voters that the president is corrupt and needs to be reined in by a Democratic House.

[…]

In a Friday interview, Jordan, one of Rosenstein’s fiercest critics in Congress, sidestepped questions about whether the House should revisit Rosenstein’s impeachment or try to hold him in contempt of Congress. Rather, he said, a more focused push to obtain sensitive documents from the Justice Department — which Trump’s allies say would expose anti-Trump bias and corruption the FBI — is the most urgent priority.

“I want to see those memos and evaluate them,” said Jordan, who has clashed publicly with Rosenstein over access to documents and accused him of threatening House Intelligence Committee staffers, an allegation Rosenstein denied.

Politico cites two possible explanations for lawmakers’ hesitation: Republicans are running out of time before members devote themselves full-time to their reelection campaigns. Republicans are worried that the story could have been intentionally planted to provoke Rosenstein’s firing in order to improve Democrats’ chances of retaking the Senate AND the House (Trump actively moving to crush the Mueller probe would be quite the propaganda win for the Dems).

Sean Hannity took this latter theory a step further during his show on Friday evening, where he urged Trump not to fire Rosie and instead insisted that the story could have been a “trap”. He added that he had been told by “multiple sources” that the story was planted by unspecified “enemies of Trump.”

“I have a message for the president tonight,” Hannity said Friday night. “Under zero circumstances should the president fire anybody…the president needs to know it is all a setup.”

Still, a handful of conservative commentators, including Laura Ingraham, urged Trump to fire Rosenstein immediately. And for Trump’s part, he hinted at a rally Friday night in Missouri that he planned to “get rid” of the “lingering stench” at the DOJ, which many interpreted as a hint that his firing is imminent.

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