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Russia slams US “occupation” of Syria after reports suggest the US will not leave Syria

Russia continues to use strong language to criticise Washington’s illegal actions in Syria.

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Russian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Maria Zakharova has slammed a report from the Washington Post which claims the US is planning to stay in Syria for “years” in an attempt to occupy and destabilise the country using the ethno-nationalist ambitions of their Kurdish proxies as a flimsy ‘justification’. This is something which was categorically rejected by the members of the Astana Group which includes Russia, Iran and Turkey.

Today Zakharova stated in response to the report,

“They are there not only without permission from Damascus, but also in direct violation of the wishes of the Syrian government. In fact, what they are doing could be described as occupation”.

She further stated,

“US Defense Secretary openly said on November 13 that the American troops will not leave Syria until progress is made with a political resolution. The conditions of which, we presume, the US wants to dictate arbitrarily.

We have noted on numerous occasions that such statements cast a serious doubt about what the true goals of the US-led coalition are in Syria”.

This represents yet a further strongly worded admonition of US policy in Syria from Russia, after Sergey Lavrov effectively told the US it is time to prepare an orderly withdrawal during statements made last week.

Hours ago, I wrote about the possible manners in which Russia and fellow Astana group members Iran and Turkey could respond to the latest threats from the United States. Below is the entire piece reoccurred in its entirety:

US media claims American troops will stay in Syria to aid Kurdish insurgents

It has long been assumed, though never overtly confirmed by the United States, that US troops plan to remain illegally on Syrian territory for an indefinite period of time, in order to use Kurdish proxies as a means to destroy the territorial and political unity of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Yesterday’s meeting of the Presidents of the Astana group, likewise confirmed that Russia, Iran and Turkey are now all in favour of preserving Syria as a unitary state with no internal divisions or otherwise Balkanised statelets.

This unity is now threatened by Washington’s failure to withdraw troops from Syria, something that was widely expected and feared. This reality has seemingly been confirmed by an ominous piece in the Washington Post.

Key elements of the piece read as follows,

“The Trump administration is expanding its goals in Syria beyond routing the Islamic State to include a political settlement of the country’s civil war, a daunting and potentially open-ended commitment that could draw the United States into conflict with both Syria and Iran.

With forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies now bearing down on the last militant-controlled towns, the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria could be imminent — along with an end to the U.S. justification for being there.

U.S. officials say they are hoping to use the ongoing presence of American troops in northern Syria, in support of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to pressure Assad to make concessions at United Nations-brokered peace talks in Geneva. The negotiations there are set to resume at the end of this month after sputtering along for more than three years without result”.

The piece from the Washington Post further states,

“An abrupt US withdrawal could complete Assad’s sweep of Syrian territory and help guarantee his political survival – an outcome that would constitute a win for Iran, his close ally. To avoid that outcome, US officials say they plan to maintain a US troop presence in northern Syria… and establish new local governance, apart from the Assad government, in those areas”.

If the findings in the piece are accurate, it means that the US intends to essentially maintain a totally illegal colonial presence in Syria for “years” using Kurdish ethno-nationalists as the fig-leaf for plans which essentially seek to deprive Syria of its sovereignty and territorial unity and which will hinder economic re-development plans, including those from China which seeks to peacefully integrate Syria into One Belt–One Road.

Implicit in this plan is a US government that is willing to throw away what very little remains of its traditional partnership with Turkey. Turkey is not only dead set against a Kurdish statelet on its borders, but is opposed to Kurdish participation in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress which will take place in Sochi and attempt to hammer out a lasting settlement between Syria and members of the so-called “opposition”.

As of yesterday, while Russia is moving towards a position of sympathy to Turkey’s views on the Kurds, there are still issues to be ironed out as I described in the following way:

“As for Turkey, Ankara still maintains sympathy for some of the sectarian Sunni so-called “opposition” in Syria, however, while Russia is willing to allow Kurdish militant groups to participate in dialogue with the Syrian government, Turkey is dead set against this.

For Turkey, the primary terrorist threat to the region are the pro-PKK Kurdish fighters currently operating in northern Syria. When Erdogan spoke of terrorism threatening OUR countries, he was clearly referring to Kurdish insurgents.

In this sense, there may be room for proverbial horse trading between Damascus, Ankara and Moscow. In return for Turkey dampening its support for crypto-Takfiri groups, Russia could, on behalf of Syria, move to a position that is more sympathetic to treating Syria’s Kurdish issue as a post, post-conflict problem, thus not allowing Kurdish agitations to become a point of contention at future dialogue sessions. In this sense, Russia could help Syria and Turkey to slowly normalise relations by de-emphasising any latent sympathies to the Kurds that still lingers in some Russian circles. This would be beneficial for Russia’s long term relationship with both Turkey and Syria, something that is frankly worth ‘losing’ clout among Kurds who have shown an almost blind wilful submission to their western and Zionist clients.

This of course will require supreme tact by all sides, but as Moscow is in a position to speak with both Ankara and Damascus, Moscow withdrawing any remaining sympathies with the Kurds, could be vital in helping Turkey to ease into a position wherein it acts as a restraining rather than an encouraging force in respect of the so-called “opposition” among which, Turkey continues to command respect.

In respect of Iran, one sees a power that has zero sympathies with any crypto-Takfiri “opposition” figures, but also one which is increasingly willing to cooperate with Turkey over Kurdish insurgents who threaten the peace and security of Iran and Turkey. Iran recently cooperated with Turkey in building a border wall designed to prevent Kurdish terrorists in Iran from supplying their compatriots in Turkey and vice versa.  Iran and Turkey also jointly cooperated with Iraq in subduing ethno-naturalist Kurds in northern Iraq, in a mission that was both swift and successful.

In this sense, Iran can help to assure Syria that Turkey’s position in favour of crypto-Takfiris can and will be restrained, while Iran can also assure Turkey that Tehran will effectively communicate a message of genuine worry over Kurdish terrorism to Moscow”.

Now that it is all but confirmed that the US seeks to undermine Syria’s sovereignty and the joint peace process of Russia, Iran and Turkey, which Syria supports, the Astana Group, along with Syria must become more united than ever against a common threat–that of the United States and its Kurdish proxies. Here are some ways this can be accomplished.

1. Russia green lights Turkey’s anti-Kurdish manoeuvres in Syria 

It has long been the case that Turkey’s primary motive for maintaining a strong troop presence in Idlib and parts of Aleppo Governorate, is for the purpose of restraining, containing and taking territory from Kurdish insurgents who have unilaterally occupied parts of Syria and set up shadow regimes.

While Russia had previously sought to include Kurds in a final settlement, because at this point, Kurdish militants and US imperialists are now largely interchangeable terms, Russia has all the more incentive to allow Turkey to do the ‘dirty work’ it has taken upon itself to do and neutralise the Kurdish threat to Syria.

If Turkey is able to neutralise Kurdish insurgents, the US would lose its fig-leaf for the continued illegal occupation of Syria. Because Iraq, with international support from both Iran and Turkey, crushed a would-be insurgency from Kurdish ethno-nationalists with comparative ease and in short order, there is an existing precedent for Kurdish insurgencies to fizzle-out when met with a strong united front on the battlefield.

Kurds in Syria, if left to their own devices would likely be rapidly destroyed by Turkish forces, especially if given a green light from Turkey’s other two Astana partners, Russia and Iran. This could also help pave the way for the eventual normalisation of relations between Ankara and Damascus.

The biggest problem here remains: will the US fight Turkey for the sake of its Kurdish proxies?

If the US were to truly go all-in for the creation of a would-be Kurdish statelet, it could mean war between two states which are still NATO members. This would almost certainly lead to Turkey withdrawing from the alliance, as it would permanently change the balance of power in the region and beyond.

Turkey has previously stated that if during its battles against Kurdish militants in Syria, Turkish troops were to accidentally fire on American targets, that this would be collateral damage that Ankara is willing to live with. While received wisdom at the time was that these remarks were intended to deter US support for Syrian Kurds, clearly this has not worked. Furthermore, no one should underestimate how seriously Turkey takes the issue of pro-PKK Kurdish insurgents on its border.

If Turkey is willing to engage the US and their proxies in Syria in the medium term, Russia and Iran could barely do anything to stop it from a military point of view, even if they wanted to. The difference is that Russia and Iran do not underestimate Turkey, although the US apparently does. The war in Syria would therefore become a conflict between Turkey and the United States, unless the US refused to back Kurdish militants being attacked by Turkey.

2. Russia convinces Turkey it can disarm Syrian Kurds and bring about a peace process in spite of US ambitions 

With the US effectively stating its position vis-a-vis Kurdish militants, Russia could offer Turkey an alternative to fighting US proxies and possibly the US itself in Syria.

If Russia were to convince Turkey that by bringing Kurdish factions into the Syrian National Dialogue Congress and including them in the Astana peace process, that it could militarily neutralise Kurds and even draw them away from the US, this, if presented in a very careful manner, might convince Turkey that it is better to let Russia handle the Kurdish problem diplomatically than for Turkey and the US to sling it out on the field of battle.

If successful, drawing the Kurds into a peace process would also totally eliminate America’s already flimsy argument that the only reason Washington continues to illegally occupy Syria is to insure a peace process which covers the Kurdish question. As Syria had previously stated that it is willing to discuss internal grievances among Kurds in a de-militarised pots-war environment, if presented correctly to Syria, this could likewise placate Damascus while maintaining Russian prestige for the foreseeable future among both Syria and Turkey.

This could be a diplomatic way to take the remaining wind out of US sails while showing Turkey that it is Russia and not the US that has listened respectfully to Turkey’s legitimate concerns.

3. The Astana Group gives the US an ultimatum to quit Syria 

While the word “ultimatum” sounds threatening, depending on the context in which it is presented, it needn’t be so.

Furthermore, this option is not mutually exclusive to the previous two scenarios. If the Astana Group effectively said that the US has no mandate in Syria and that one way or another, the issues regarding all self-identified factions in Syria, including the Kurds, will be dealt with by the Astana Group in line with UN Resolution 2254, it would deal another large blow to what very little remains of US prestige on a Syrian peace settlement.

While asking the US to leave Syria, something which Russia has effectively already done using firm yet diplomatic language, it would not guarantee a US exit. But if all of the elements of UN Resolution 2254 were satisfied in accordance with the wishes of all parties, the US would be clearly in Syria for no reason at all–even more so than it is at present and that is saying quite a lot.

This would have the effect of bringing wider public opinion against continued US occupation of Syria, including opinion among many Americans. This is after all what happened in the US war on Vietnam when both international and US public opinion turned fully against America’s presence in South East Asia.

Interestingly, both Russia and Turkey are using increasingly strong language to publicly call for a US withdrawal from Syria. Turkish Member of Parliament Metin Kulunk even recently stated that if the US remains in Syria, it will face a “new Vietnam”.

Conclusion:

When it comes to the question of Turkey decided to run the risk of engaging the US militarily in Syria or else accepting a Russian political solution to neutralise the Kurdish threat, this will all be contingent on how much Russia can convince Turkey that Moscow is able to control the Kurdish problem. For the moment, Turkey is already going after Kurdish factions while the peace process continues simultaneously. The aggregate effect is to grind down Kurdish ambitions by effectively pinning them between a Turkish tank and the Astana Group’s collective diplomacy, all while Syrian Kurds will remember the defeat of their ethno-nationalist brethren in Iraq.

In either case, the US has isolated itself on the Syria issue, with all major powers calling for a US withdrawal. If the US  believes that its Kurdish proxies can withstand the long-term force of total opposition to US manoeuvres in Syria, then Turkish MP Metin Kulunk is absolutely correct: the US will eventually face a new Vietnam in Syria, because they continue to forget the lessons of 1975.

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Clinton-Yeltsin docs shine a light on why Deep State hates Putin (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 114.

Alex Christoforou

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Bill Clinton and America ruled over Russia and Boris Yeltsin during the 1990s. Yeltsin showed little love for Russia and more interest in keeping power, and pleasing the oligarchs around him.

Then came Vladimir Putin, and everything changed.

Nearly 600 pages of memos and transcripts, documenting personal exchanges and telephone conversations between Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin, were made public by the Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Dating from January 1993 to December 1999, the documents provide a historical account of a time when US relations with Russia were at their best, as Russia was at its weakest.

On September 8, 1999, weeks after promoting the head of the Russia’s top intelligence agency to the post of prime minister, Russian President Boris Yeltsin took a phone call from U.S. President Bill Clinton.

The new prime minister was unknown, rising to the top of the Federal Security Service only a year earlier.

Yeltsin wanted to reassure Clinton that Vladimir Putin was a “solid man.”

Yeltsin told Clinton….

“I would like to tell you about him so you will know what kind of man he is.”

“I found out he is a solid man who is kept well abreast of various subjects under his purview. At the same time, he is thorough and strong, very sociable. And he can easily have good relations and contact with people who are his partners. I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the nearly 600 pages of transcripts documenting the calls and personal conversations between then U.S. President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin, released last month. A strong Clinton and a very weak Yeltsin underscore a warm and friendly relationship between the U.S. and Russia.

Then Vladimir Putin came along and decided to lift Russia out of the abyss, and things changed.

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Here are five must-read Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges from with the 600 pages released by the Clinton Library.

Via RT

Clinton sends ‘his people’ to get Yeltsin elected

Amid unceasing allegations of nefarious Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election, the Clinton-Yeltsin exchanges reveal how the US government threw its full weight behind Boris – in Russian parliamentary elections as well as for the 1996 reelection campaign, which he approached with 1-digit ratings.

For example, a transcript from 1993 details how Clinton offered to help Yeltsin in upcoming parliamentary elections by selectively using US foreign aid to shore up support for the Russian leader’s political allies.

“What is the prevailing attitude among the regional leaders? Can we do something through our aid package to send support out to the regions?” a concerned Clinton asked.

Yeltsin liked the idea, replying that “this kind of regional support would be very useful.” Clinton then promised to have “his people” follow up on the plan.

In another exchange, Yeltsin asks his US counterpart for a bit of financial help ahead of the 1996 presidential election: “Bill, for my election campaign, I urgently need for Russia a loan of $2.5 billion,” he said. Yeltsin added that he needed the money in order to pay pensions and government wages – obligations which, if left unfulfilled, would have likely led to his political ruin. Yeltsin also asks Clinton if he could “use his influence” to increase the size of an IMF loan to assist him during his re-election campaign.

Yeltsin questions NATO expansion

The future of NATO was still an open question in the years following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and conversations between Clinton and Yeltsin provide an illuminating backdrop to the current state of the curiously offensive ‘defensive alliance’ (spoiler alert: it expanded right up to Russia’s border).

In 1995, Yeltsin told Clinton that NATO expansion would lead to “humiliation” for Russia, noting that many Russians were fearful of the possibility that the alliance could encircle their country.

“It’s a new form of encirclement if the one surviving Cold War bloc expands right up to the borders of Russia. Many Russians have a sense of fear. What do you want to achieve with this if Russia is your partner? They ask. I ask it too: Why do you want to do this?” Yeltsin asked Clinton.

As the documents show, Yeltsin insisted that Russia had “no claims on other countries,” adding that it was “unacceptable” that the US was conducting naval drills near Crimea.

“It is as if we were training people in Cuba. How would you feel?” Yeltsin asked. The Russian leader then proposed a “gentleman’s agreement” that no former Soviet republics would join NATO.

Clinton refused the offer, saying: “I can’t make the specific commitment you are asking for. It would violate the whole spirit of NATO. I’ve always tried to build you up and never undermine you.”

NATO bombing of Yugoslavia turns Russia against the West

Although Clinton and Yeltsin enjoyed friendly relations, NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia tempered Moscow’s enthusiastic partnership with the West.

“Our people will certainly from now have a bad attitude with regard to America and with NATO,” the Russian president told Clinton in March 1999. “I remember how difficult it was for me to try and turn the heads of our people, the heads of the politicians towards the West, towards the United States, but I succeeded in doing that, and now to lose all that.”

Yeltsin urged Clinton to renounce the strikes, for the sake of “our relationship” and “peace in Europe.”

“It is not known who will come after us and it is not known what will be the road of future developments in strategic nuclear weapons,” Yeltsin reminded his US counterpart.

But Clinton wouldn’t cede ground.

“Milosevic is still a communist dictator and he would like to destroy the alliance that Russia has built up with the US and Europe and essentially destroy the whole movement of your region toward democracy and go back to ethnic alliances. We cannot allow him to dictate our future,” Clinton told Yeltsin.

Yeltsin asks US to ‘give Europe to Russia’

One exchange that has been making the rounds on Twitter appears to show Yeltsin requesting that Europe be “given” to Russia during a meeting in Istanbul in 1999. However, it’s not quite what it seems.

“I ask you one thing,” Yeltsin says, addressing Clinton. “Just give Europe to Russia. The US is not in Europe. Europe should be in the business of Europeans.”

However, the request is slightly less sinister than it sounds when put into context: The two leaders were discussing missile defense, and Yeltsin was arguing that Russia – not the US – would be a more suitable guarantor of Europe’s security.

“We have the power in Russia to protect all of Europe, including those with missiles,” Yeltsin told Clinton.

Clinton on Putin: ‘He’s very smart’

Perhaps one of the most interesting exchanges takes place when Yeltsin announces to Clinton his successor, Vladimir Putin.

In a conversation with Clinton from September 1999, Yeltsin describes Putin as “a solid man,” adding: “I am sure you will find him to be a highly qualified partner.”

A month later, Clinton asks Yeltsin who will win the Russian presidential election.

“Putin, of course. He will be the successor to Boris Yeltsin. He’s a democrat, and he knows the West.”

“He’s very smart,” Clinton remarks.

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New Satellite Images Reveal Aftermath Of Israeli Strikes On Syria; Putin Accepts Offer to Probe Downed Jet

The images reveal the extent of destruction in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport.

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Via Zerohedge


An Israeli satellite imaging company has released satellite photographs that reveal the extent of Monday night’s attack on multiple locations inside Syria.

ImageSat International released them as part of an intelligence report on a series of Israeli air strikes which lasted for over an hour and resulted in Syrian missile defense accidentally downing a Russian surveillance plane that had 15 personnel on board.

The images reveal the extent of destruction on one location struck early in attack in the port city of Latakia, as well as the aftermath of a prior strike on Damascus International Airport. On Tuesday Israel owned up to carrying out the attack in a rare admission.

Syrian official SANA news agency reported ten people injured in the attacks carried out of military targets near three major cities in Syria’s north.

The Times of Israel, which first reported the release of the new satellite images, underscores the rarity of Israeli strikes happening that far north and along the coast, dangerously near Russian positions:

The attack near Latakia was especially unusual because the port city is located near a Russian military base, the Khmeimim Air Force base. The base is home to Russian jet planes and an S-400 aerial defense system. According to Arab media reports, Israel has rarely struck that area since the Russians arrived there.

The Russian S-400 system was reportedly active during the attack, but it’s difficult to confirm or assess the extent to which Russian missiles responded during the strikes.

Three of the released satellite images show what’s described as an “ammunition warehouse” that appears to have been completely destroyed.

The IDF has stated their airstrikes targeted a Syrian army facility “from which weapons-manufacturing systems were supposed to be transferred to Iran and Hezbollah.” This statement came after the IDF expressed “sorrow” for the deaths of Russian airmen, but also said responsibility lies with the “Assad regime.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express regret over the incident while offering to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report — something which Putin agreed to.

According to Russia’s RT News, “Major-General Amikam Norkin will arrive in Moscow on Thursday, and will present the situation report on the incident, including the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event and the pre-mission information the Israeli military was so reluctant to share in advance.”

Russia’s Defense Ministry condemned the “provocative actions by Israel as hostile” and said Russia reserves “the right to an adequate response” while Putin has described the downing of the Il-20 recon plane as likely the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” and downplayed the idea of a deliberate provocation, in contradiction of the initial statement issued by his own defense ministry.

Pro-government Syrians have reportedly expressed frustration this week that Russia hasn’t done more to respond militarily to Israeli aggression; however, it appears Putin may be sidestepping yet another trap as it’s looking increasingly likely that Israel’s aims are precisely geared toward provoking a response in order to allow its western allies to join a broader attack on Damascus that could result in regime change.

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“Transphobic” Swedish Professor May Lose Job After Noting Biological Differences Between Sexes

A university professor in Sweden is under investigation after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded”

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Via Zerohedge


A university professor in Sweden is under investigation for “anti-feminism” and “transphobia” after he said that there are fundamental differences between men and women which are “biologically founded” and that genders cannot be regarded as “social constructs alone,” reports Academic Rights Watch.

For his transgression, Germund Hesslow – a professor of neuroscience at Lund University – who holds dual PhDs in philosophy and neurophysiology, may lose his job – telling RT that a “full investigation” has been ordered, and that there “have been discussions about trying to stop the lecture or get rid of me, or have someone else give the lecture or not give the lecture at all.”

“If you answer such a question you are under severe time pressure, you have to be extremely brief — and I used wording which I think was completely innocuous, and that apparently the student didn’t,” Hesslow said.

Hesslow was ordered to attend a meeting by Christer Larsson, chairman of the program board for medical education, after a female student complained that Hesslow had a “personal anti-feminist agenda.” He was asked to distance himself from two specific comments; that gay women have a “male sexual orientation” and that the sexual orientation of transsexuals is “a matter of definition.”

The student’s complaint reads in part (translated):

I have also heard from senior lecturers that Germund Hesslow at the last lecture expressed himself transfobically. In response to a question of transexuallism, he said something like “sex change is a fly”. Secondly, it is outrageous because there may be students during the lecture who are themselves exposed to transfobin, but also because it may affect how later students in their professional lives meet transgender people. Transpersonals already have a high level of overrepresentation in suicide statistics and there are already major shortcomings in the treatment of transgender in care, should not it be countered? How does this kind of statement coincide with the university’s equal treatment plan? What has this statement given for consequences? What has been done for this to not be repeated? –Academic Rights Watch

After being admonished, Hesslow refused to distance himself from his comments, saying that he had “done enough” already and didn’t have to explain and defend his choice of words.

At some point, one must ask for a sense of proportion among those involved. If it were to become acceptable for students to record lectures in order to find compromising formulations and then involve faculty staff with meetings and long letters, we should let go of the medical education altogether,” Hesslow said in a written reply to Larsson.

He also rejected the accusation that he had a political agenda – stating that his only agenda was to let scientific factnot new social conventions, dictate how he teaches his courses.

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