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Russia is Waiting for Trump in Syria

Russia’s military campaign in Syria is heavily conditioned by hopes of cooperation with the US which can only be achieved in the event of Donald Trump’s victory in the US Presidential election.

Oliver Richardson

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Information has been published on social media claiming that Russia’s high rate of supplies shows a readiness for a return to its pre-withdrawal level of activity. Whilst this information on supplies may be accurate, it merely shows what replenishing the stocks of 1000+ personnel looks like.

As things stand, Russia is unable to up the ante in Syria due to the US’ unwillingness to coordinate their actions. Even though the Kremlin recently announced an agreement with the US for enhanced cooperation, in reality the US wants Russia to be its Air Force where it is needed. No cooperation really exists between Russia and the US. The only thing that can change this is Obama clearing his desk in November for Trump.

Russia’s campaign in Syria began on September 30th, 2015, when a contingent of military advisors, artillery, helicopters, and jets made the long journey to the Levant, setting up camp in the western province of Latakia. This would later become known as the Khmeimim Air Base, where 10 fueling trucks, refueling stations, warehouses for supplies, mobile kitchens, and even a bakery would appear. But the real reason the air base was created was to host over 50 aircraft including Su-34, Su-24M, Su-25, Mi-35m, Ka-52, Mi-24, and many others.

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The first mission for the Russia Air Force was to clear out Latakia, in particular the areas surrounding the air base. This operation involved the destruction of ISIS’ oil supplies coming from Turkish territory. Russia made Turkey’s role in fueling the war in Syria perfectly clear to the world. This led to the notorious “stab in the back”, when a Russian Su-24 was shot down by a Turkish F-16 on the Turkey/Syria border. This incident was the catalyst for the deployment of the S- 400 long-range surface-to-air missile system at the air base. From this moment on, Russia had de-facto created a no fly zone in the entire region.

After Latakia had been cleared out, Russia did something that took the West by surprise – they “withdrew” the majority of their air forces. The reason why Russia did this is multifaceted:

A) Economy of Force. Russia had many idle units sitting at the airbase after the primary mission to disrupt ISIS’ funding and Turkey’s position in the region had been completed. In order to keep Russia’s operation optimized, Shoigu exchanged jets for helicopters, which would lead to the campaign in Palmyra.

B) Aiding the political process. The “withdrawal” served to show that Russia’s presence in Syria is flexible and temporary – it is not an occupation (they have Assad’s permission anyway). In actuality, Russia could bring back anything they moved, and thus it never was a “withdrawal”, just a reshuffling. But of course, the Western media liked to use the “weak Russia” analogy until exhaustion.

C) An agreement with the US. The Higher Negotiations Committee (Saudi Arabia’s faux opposition group with Salafi representatives of Ahrar al-Sham etc.) would not budge an inch unless Russia’s presence was thinned out. This worked out fine for Russia because of point A.

Shortly after the withdrawal, which annoyed Iran and Hezbollah as they were close to capturing key areas and subsequently had to reorganize and relocate, the city of Palmyra and its outskirts were fully liberated and de-mined. Russia’s helicopters would operate in groups of two so that, should one be attacked, the other one could hone in on the perpetrator. A Russian orchestra would play at the famous ruins to illustrate to the world’s media that Russia’s presence in Syria was very real, and not a farce like the US’ incursions in Iraq.

After the core of Palmyra was liberated, Russia then focused its attention on Aleppo. Turkey and Saudi Arabia issued rhetoric threatening an invasion. Iran then sent 6000 “Al-sabereen” troops to Aleppo to totally block such a possibility. By this time, the US’ proxies – both the “moderate rebels” and Al-Nusra – had started to create demarcation lines, which the US aims to use to partition the country. This resulted in Aleppo being split into two – North and South, with the latter being a source of Takfiri infighting (Jaish al Islam and Faylaq Al-Rahman). Due to Russia’s “withdrawal” and a lack of air support for the Syrian Arab Army, Jabhat Al-Nusra was able to reclaim what it had lost when Russia initially began its campaign. This created a scenario where Russia was forced to focus on North Aleppo in order to help cut the supply off to the South. Fortunately, the Syrian Army was able to capture some key areas in Aleppo such as Al-Mallaah Farms, thus cutting major terrorist supply routes.

Despite these successes, Russia now finds itself in a testing situation. The US wanted Russia to enter Deir Ezzor at the same time as its units were aiding the YPG in Raqqa. Russia was unwilling to do this as priorities change all the time, and at this moment Aleppo is the “mother of all battles”. The benefit of liberating Deir Ezzor would be securing the highway that goes to Iraq, as well as a key area near Raqqa. As a result, Russia did something that angered many – they signed a ceasefire deal with the US. It is this deal that leads us to the main point: Russia is waiting for Donald Trump’s election victory in November.

The Obama administration stubbornly refuses to cooperate with Russia; John Kerry told Lavrov in no uncertain terms that it is a pointless exercise to bomb the “moderates”, because the US will simply arm them time and time again. In other words, regardless of Russia’s progress elsewhere, it is a zero sum game. The US is actually more interested in liberating Fallujah, and soon Mosul. Both these conquests will give Obama the legacy he wanted, and it is still possible that Putin and Obama will liberate Raqqa together, since no party in Syria wants to approach the caliphate’s “capital” alone. Consequently, Russia signed a ceasefire with the US to buy time – 3 months initially to be precise. This allows some legal framework to be in force to reduce civilian casualties, to allow humanitarian aid to enter the besieged areas, and to give Russia time to badger the US to separate its proxies.

The US’ main stratagem in Syria is to blend Al Qaeda and the “FSA” Trojan Horse together so as to usurp Russia’s strict adherence to International Law. The latter’s role is to supply arms to the former. Russia is struggling to separate AlNusra from the “moderate rebels” in Aleppo, mainly due to the US’ reluctance to put certain groups (e.g. Jaish al-Islam) on the UN known terrorist organizations list. This would allow Russia to bomb them without having to worry about Washington crying “oh my god you killed our guys!” The other reason for Russia’s sticky situation is the fact that Aleppo is being organized by the US and allies for partition, and so bombing the city not only implicates innocent civilians, but also is ineffective due to the guerrilla tactics being employed by groups like Al-Nusra, whose leader al-Joulani isn’t the bumbling idiot we all think he is.

In order to progress before November, Russia will send its only aircraft carrier, Admiral Kuznetsov, with 12 jets to Syria from October 2016 until January 2017. This will allow Russia to reverse the “withdrawal” and (hopefully) avoid harsh critique from self-proclaimed military experts. This also gives Russia another point of attack instead of relying on Khmeimim Air Base. If Russia can secure the use of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, via mediation from Iran and Israel, it will open up even more possibilities for the future liberation of Aleppo. But a lot depends on the US election, and only Donald Trump is willing to actually work with Russia to end this mess once and for all.

The partition of Syria is still a very real possibility, and it could play out like it did in the civil war in Lebanon in the 1980’s, or even like Berlin post WW2. As the US is still pursuing a federalized Kurdish state, Turkey has seemingly abandoned their ambitions to annex Aleppo and reset relations with Russia. This could prove to be the deciding factor later down the line. One thing is certain – there is still a long way to go in the war, and Russia, for the sake of the multipolar future, knows that Syria and the region in general absolutely must not suffer Sykes-Picot 2.0.

The author is an editor and translator for Fort Russ – a popular independent news portal reaching more than 40,000 unique readers a day – with a focus primarily on the ‘world-island’ of Eurasia.  He is a also the website manager of the Eurasianist Internet Archive – a volunteer initiative dedicated to translating into English and disseminating the works of historical and contemporary Eurasianist thinkers.

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European Court of Justice rules Britain free to revoke Brexit unilaterally

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that Britain can reverse Article 50.

RT

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Via RT…


The UK is free to unilaterally revoke a notification to depart from the EU, the European Court has ruled. The judicial body said this could be done without changing the terms of London’s membership in the bloc.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) opined in a document issued on Monday that Britain can reverse Article 50, which stipulates the way a member state leaves the bloc. The potentially important ruling comes only one day before the House of Commons votes on Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal with the EU.

“When a Member State has notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the European Union, as the UK has done, that Member State is free to revoke unilaterally that notification,” the court’s decision reads.

By doing so, the respective state “reflects a sovereign decision to retain its status as a Member State of the European Union.”

That said, this possibility remains in place “as long as a withdrawal agreement concluded between the EU and that Member State has not entered into force.” Another condition is: “If no such agreement has been concluded, for as long as the two-year period from the date of the notification of the intention to withdraw from the EU.”

The case was opened when a cross-party group of British politicians asked the court whether an EU member such as the UK can decide on its own to revoke the withdrawal process. It included Labour MEPs Catherine Stihler and David Martin, Scottish MPs Joanna Cherry Alyn Smith, along with Green MSPs Andy Wightman and Ross Greer.

They argued that unilateral revocation is possible and believe it could provide an opening to an alternative to Brexit, namely holding another popular vote to allow the UK to remain in the EU.

“If the UK chooses to change their minds on Brexit, then revoking Article 50 is an option and the European side should make every effort to welcome the UK back with open arms,” Smith, the SNP member, was quoted by Reuters.

However, May’s environment minister, Michael Gove, a staunch Brexit supporter, denounced the ECJ ruling, insisting the cabinet will not reverse its decision to leave. “We will leave on March 29, [2019]” he said, referring to the date set out in the UK-EU Brexit deal.

In the wake of the landmark vote on the Brexit deal, a group of senior ministers threatened to step down en masse if May does not try to negotiate a better deal in Brussels, according to the Telegraph. The ministers demanded that an alternative deal does not leave the UK trapped within the EU customs union indefinitely.

On Sunday, Will Quince resigned as parliamentary private secretary in the Ministry of Defense, saying in a Telegraph editorial that “I do not want to be explaining to my constituents why Brexit is still not over and we are still obeying EU rules in the early 2020s or beyond.”

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Seven Days of Failures for the American Empire

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


On November 25, two artillery boats of the Gyurza-M class, the Berdiansk and Nikopol, one tugboat, the Yany Kapu, as well as 24 crew members of the Ukrainian Navy, including two SBU counterintelligence officers, were detained by Russian border forces. In the incident, the Russian Federation employed Sobol-class patrol boats Izumrud and Don, as  well as two Ka-52, two Su-25 and one Su-30 aircraft.

Ukraine’s provocation follows the advice of several American think-tanks like the Atlantic Council, which have been calling for NATO involvement in the Sea of Azov for months. The area is strategically important for Moscow, which views its southern borders, above all the Sea of Azov, as a potential flash point for conflict due to the Kiev’s NATO-backed provocations.

To deter such adventurism, Moscow has deployed to the Kerch Strait and the surrounding coastal area S-400 batteries, modernized S-300s, anti-ship Bal missile systems, as well as numerous electronic-warfare systems, not to mention the Russian assets and personnel arrayed in the military districts abutting Ukraine. Such provocations, egged on by NATO and American policy makers, are meant to provide a pretext for further sanctions against Moscow and further sabotage Russia’s relations with European countries like Germany, France and Italy, as well as, quite naturally, to frustrate any personal interaction between Trump and Putin.

This last objective seems to have been achieved, with the planned meeting between Trump and Putin at the G20 in Buenos Aires being cancelled. As to the the other objectives, they seem to have failed miserably, with Berlin, Paris and Rome showing no intention of imposing additional sanctions against Russia, recognizing the Ukrainian provocation fow what it is. The intention to further isolate Moscow by the neocons, neoliberals and most of the Anglo-Saxon establishment seems to have failed, demonstrated in Buenos Aires with the meeting between the BRICS countries on the sidelines and the bilateral meetings between Putin and Merkel.

On November 30, following almost two-and-a-half months of silence, the Israeli air force bombed Syria with three waves of cruise missiles. The first and second waves were repulsed over southern Syria, and the third, composed of surface-to-surface missiles, were also downed. At the same time, a loud explosion was heard in al-Kiswah, resulting in the blackout of Israeli positions in the area.

The Israeli attack was fully repulsed, with possibly two IDF drones being downed as well. This effectiveness of Syria’s air defenses corresponds with Russia’s integration of Syria’s air defenses with its own systems, manifestly improving the Syrians’ kill ratios even without employing the new S-300 systems delivered to Damascus, let alone Russia’s own S-400s. The Pantsirs and S-200s are enough for the moment, confirming my hypothesis more than two months ago that the modernized S-300 in the hands of the Syrian army is a potentially lethal weapon even for the F-35, forbidding the Israelis from employing their F-35s.

With the failed Israeli attack testifying to effectiveness of Russian air-defense measures recently deployed to the country, even the United States is finding it difficult to operate in the country. As the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War confirms:

“Russia has finished an advanced anti-access/area denial (A2AD) network in Syria that combines its own air defense and electronic warfare systems with modernized equipment. Russia can use these capabilities to mount the long-term strategic challenge of the US and NATO in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea and the Middle East, significantly widen the geographic reach of Russia’s air defense network. Russia stands to gain a long-term strategic advantage over NATO through its new capabilities in Syria. The US and NATO must now account for the risk of a dangerous escalation in the Middle East amidst any confrontation with Russia in Eastern Europe.”

The final blow in a decidedly negative week for Washington’s ambitions came in Buenos Aires during the G20, where Xi Jinping was clearly the most awaited guest, bringing in his wake investments and opportunities for cooperation and mutual benefit, as opposed to Washington’s sanctions and tariffs for its own benefit to the detriment of others. The key event of the summit was the dinner between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump that signalled Washington’s defeat in the trade war with Beijing. Donald Trump fired the first shot of the economic war, only to succumb just 12 months later with GM closing five plants and leaving 14,000 unemployed at home as Trump tweeted about his economic achievements.

Trump was forced to suspend any new tariffs for a period of ninety days, with his Chinese counterpart intent on demonstrating how an economic war between the two greatest commercial powers had always been a pointless propagandistic exercise. Trump’s backtracking highlights Washington’s vulnerability to de-dollarization, the Achilles’ heel of US hegemony.

The American-led world system is experiencing setbacks at every turn. The struggle between the Western elites seems to be reaching a boil, with Frau Merkel ever more isolated and seeing her 14-year political dominance as chancellor petering out. Macron seems to be vying for the honor of being the most unpopular French leader in history, provoking violent protests that have lasted now for weeks, involving every sector of the population. Macron will probably be able to survive this political storm, but his political future looks dire.

The neocons/neoliberals have played one of the last cards available to them using the Ukrainian provocation, with Kiev only useful as the West’s cannon fodder against Russia. In Syria, with the conflict coming to a close and Turkey only able to look on even as it maintains a strong foothold in Idlib, Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United States are similarly unable to affect the course of the conflict. The latest Israeli aggression proved to be a humiliation for Tel Aviv and may have signalled a clear, possibly definitive warning from Moscow, Tehran and Damascus to all the forces in the region. The message seems to be that there is no longer any possibility of changing the course of the conflict in Syria, and every provocation from here on will be decisively slapped down. Idlib is going to be liberated and America’s illegal presence in the north of Syria will have to be dealt with at the right time.

Ukraine’s provocation has only strengthened Russia’s military footprint in Crimea and reinforced Russia’s sovereign control over the region. Israel’s recent failure in Syria only highlights how the various interventions of the US, the UK, France and Turkey over the years have only obliged the imposition of an almost unparalleled A2AD space that severely limits the range of options available to Damascus’s opponents.

The G20 also served to confirm Washington’s economic diminution commensurate with its military one in the face of an encroaching multipolar environment. The constant attempts to delegitimize the Trump administration by America’s elites, also declared an enemy by the European establishment, creates a picture of confusion in the West that benefits capitals like New Delhi, Moscow, Beijing and Tehran who offer instead stability, cooperation and dialogue.

As stated in previous articles, the confusion reigning amongst the Western elites only accelerates the transition to a multipolar world, progressively eroding the military and economic power of the US.

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Is Silicon Valley Morphing Into The Morality Police?

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

The Duran

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Authored by Adrian Cohen via Creators.com:


Silicon Valley used to be technology companies. But it has become the “morality police,” controlling free speech on its platforms.

What could go wrong?

In a speech Monday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said:

“Hate tries to make its headquarters in the digital world. At Apple, we believe that technology needs to have a clear point of view on this challenge. There is no time to get tied up in knots. That’s why we only have one message for those who seek to push hate, division and violence: You have no place on our platforms.”

Here’s the goliath problem:

Who gets to define what words and phrases protected under the First Amendment constitute hate — a catchall word that is often ascribed to any offensive speech someone simply doesn’t like?

Will Christians who don’t support abortion rights or having their tax dollars go toward Planned Parenthood be considered purveyors of hate for denying women the right to choose? Will millions of Americans who support legal immigration, as opposed to illegal immigration, be labeled xenophobes or racists and be banned from the digital world?

Yes and yes. How do we know? It’s already happening, as scores of conservatives nationwide are being shadow banned and/or censored on social media, YouTube, Google and beyond.

Their crime?

Running afoul of leftist Silicon Valley executives who demand conformity of thought and simply won’t tolerate any viewpoint that strays from their rigid political orthodoxy.

For context, consider that in oppressive Islamist regimes throughout the Middle East, the “morality police” take it upon themselves to judge women’s appearance, and if a woman doesn’t conform with their mandatory and highly restrictive dress code — e.g., wearing an identity-cloaking burqa — she could be publicly shamed, arrested or even stoned in the town square.

In modern-day America, powerful technology companies are actively taking the role of the de facto morality police — not when it comes to dress but when it comes to speech — affecting millions. Yes, to date, those affected are not getting stoned, but they are being blocked in the digital town square, where billions around the globe do their business, cultivate their livelihoods, connect with others and get news.

That is a powerful cudgel to levy against individuals and groups of people. Wouldn’t you say?

Right now, unelected tech billionaires living in a bubble in Palo Alto — when they’re not flying private to cushy climate summits in Davos — are deciding who gets to enjoy the freedom of speech enshrined in the U.S. Constitution and who does not based on whether they agree with people’s political views and opinions or not.

You see how dangerous this can get — real fast — as partisan liberal elites running Twitter, Facebook, Google (including YouTube), Apple and the like are now dictating to Americans what they can and cannot say online.

In communist regimes, these types of folks are known as central planners.

The election of Donald Trump was supposed to safeguard our freedoms, especially regarding speech — a foundational pillar of a democracy. It’s disappointing that hasn’t happened, as the censorship of conservative thought online has gotten so extreme and out of control many are simply logging off for good.

A failure to address this mammoth issue could cost Trump in 2020. If his supporters are blocked online — where most voters get their news — he’ll be a one-term president.

It’s time for Congress to act before the morality police use political correctness as a Trojan horse to decide our next election.

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