Connect with us

Latest

News

Staff Picks

Russian FM Sergey Lavrov calls John Kerry’s bluff, demands concrete proposals on Syria

US Secretary of State Kerry’s latest offer for all Jihadis to leave Aleppo appears to be an attempt to get the Russians to agree to a ceasefire in order to preserve the Al-Qaeda controlled pocket in eastern Aleppo until after Obama leaves the Presidency in January. However Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov called Kerry’s bluff by demanding that the US come up with concrete proposals and a definite timetable for the Jihadis’ withdrawal.

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

4,131 Views

As news filters in of the Syrian army’s capture of another formerly Jihadi controlled district of eastern Aleppo, and of talks between the Russians and Jihadi representatives in the Turkish capital Ankara, there comes news of further discussions between Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov and US Secretary State Kerry in Geneva.

That Lavrov and Kerry are talking at all may come as a surprise to many people.  Just a few weeks ago – on the eve of the US Presidential election – all the talk was of the US refusing to talk to the Russians further, and of the Russians being arraigned on war crimes charges.

Now Lavrov is saying that Kerry came to Geneva on 2nd December 2016 and “finally presented proposals on Aleppo in line with Russia’s stance”.

In reality, though the fact has been little reported in the media, the last few weeks have witnessed frantic diplomatic activity, with the UN repeatedly calling for a ceasefire in Aleppo to enable it to send humanitarian supplies there, further denunciations of Russia’s actions by the US and other Western governments, and a further attempt by the French to propose a Resolution to the UN Security Council to impose a ceasefire.

The reason this activity has attracted so little attention is that they are action carried out by ghosts. 

No one takes seriously the diplomatic manoeuvres of US and French governments that are in the last weeks and months of their respective lives, and which are likely to be replaced by new governments that take a diametrically opposite view of the Syrian conflict than they do.

There is also the factor that with the military situation in eastern Aleppo approaching its endgame, no one any longer seriously believes these diplomatic manoeuvres are going to change anything.

Possibly the most surreal event of all was a bizarre debate in Britain’s House of Commons, called at the insistence of a group of over 200 British MPs who demanded that the British air force air drop supplies to “relieve the suffering” of eastern Aleppo.

The idea that the British air force could challenge the Russians where even the mighty US air force refuses to go is beyond ridiculous, and the whole debate – complete with the government’s failure to call the demand ridiculous, and the heckling of a government minister when he tried (weakly) to explain some of the realities – shows just how delusional on the subject of Aleppo and Syria some people in Britain have become. 

In light of this it comes as no surprise to read in The Economist that there were even some people presumably in Britain (since The Economist is a British magazine) who apparently seriously proposed building tunnels to eastern Aleppo to send supplies there

“Out-manoeuvred, Western diplomats have discussed lifting the siege by digging tunnels…..” (!)

As for the proposals Kerry presented to Lavrov, we have no details but Lavrov has made absolutely clear what the Russian demands are

“Moscow is ready to immediately send our military experts and diplomats to Geneva to work out joint actions with our US colleagues in line with the [new] American proposals, which would ensure the withdrawal of all militants without exception from eastern Aleppo, and would provide unimpeded humanitarian supplies to the city’s residents and ensure the establishment of normal life in eastern Aleppo.”

(bold italics added)

This has been the consistent Russian demand since at least the summer, as reported by The Duran, but so far as I know nowhere else.

As we have also previously explained, the US appeared to accede to this demand in the Kerry-Lavrov agreement of this September.  However the US failed to do what it had agreed to do, which was get the Al-Qaeda led Jihadis to withdraw from eastern Aleppo by way of the Castello road.  The reasons for this was divisions within the US administration, with the hardline group in the ascendant acting in a way that was intended – as Lavrov today also said

“…[to] take the heat off Al-Nusra, which directs the militants in the un-liberated parts of eastern Aleppo,…”

Will this latest offer from Kerry amount to anything?  The Russians are insisting that before anything happens there must be a concrete agreement on a timetable for the Jihadis’ withdrawal.  Though Lavrov is offering to send experts to Geneva to work on this offer, he made it clear that any meeting must not be a meeting for a meeting’s sake

“It must not be a meeting for the sake of a meeting. It is necessary to agree on a detailed timeline of steps.”

These comments of Lavrov’s highlight the deep mistrust the Russians now have towards the Obama administration.  Plainly what they will not agree to is a ceasefire with the terms and the timetable of the withdrawal left to be discussed later.  They are insisting on a definite commitment – one binding on the Jihadis – for them to withdraw completely from eastern Aleppo by a specific date.

In reality – as Lavrov almost certainly knows – Kerry’s latest proposals probably are a last desperate bid to get the Russians to agree to a ceasefire in Aleppo so that what is left of the Jihadi pocket can be preserved intact until after Obama’s final departure in January. 

That way Obama would be spared the humiliation of having the Jihadi pocket fall whilst he is still President, so that the blame for its eventual fall can be passed on by him and the members of his administration onto Donald Trump.

Lavrov’s comments suggest that the Russians are in no mood to help Obama in this way, and given the appalling state relations between the US and Russia have fallen to under his Presidency, it is difficult to see why they would do so.

Advertisement
Comments

Latest

Clapper Turns On Brennan: “John And His Rhetoric Have Become An Issue”

Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper threw former CIA Director John Brennan under the bus on Sunday.

Published

on

Via Zerohedge


Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper threw former CIA Director John Brennan under the bus on Sunday, telling CNN‘s “State of the Union” that “John and his rhetoric have become an issue in and of itself,” adding “John is subtle like a freight train and he’s gonna say what’s on his mind.”

Somebody wants to keep their security clearance…

Brennan’s latest “rhetoric,” of course, is his Sunday morning threat to sue the Trump administration following the stripping of his security clearance.

That said, Clapper empathized with Brennan over shared concerns regarding what they say is a threat to the United States from the Trump administration.

“I think that the common denominator among all of us [in the intelligence community] that have been speaking up … is genuine concern about the jeopardy and threats to our institutions,” said Clapper.

Brennan’s increasingly inflammatory commentary of late has also drawn the attention of Congressional GOP. On Thursday, Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) slammed Brennan for “purport[ing] to know, as fact, that the Trump campaign colluded with a foreign power.”

If his statement is based on intelligence he has seen since leaving office, it constitutes an intelligence breach. If he has some other personal knowledge of or evidence of collusion, it should be disclosed to the special counsel, not The New York Times,” said Burr, who added that Trump had the “full authority” to rescind Brennan’s clearance if the former CIA Director’s statements were “purely politicial and based on conjecture.”

President Trump promptly tweeted Burr’s statement:

On Friday’s broadcast of MSNBC‘s “Rachel Maddow Show,” Brennan defiantly stood behind his statement that Trump committed treason during the Helsinki summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, which he called “nothing short of treasonous,” before walking it back moments later.

“After Helsinki, you were stark, and even a little bit scary in your criticism of his behavior. You said it rose to treason,” said Maddow.

“I said it was nothing short of treasonous,” replied Brennan.

Maddow pushed back: “In this current controversy, that specific comment has been singled out by a number of people as a comment that maybe, by you, crossed the line, that was maybe –.”

“Crossed what line?” Brennan responded.

Maddow said that she wasn’t going to question Brennan’s right to his remarks, though then asked “But do you stand by that consideration, and can you explain, can you elaborate what you mean by treasonous? It’s a very serious allegation.”

Brennan answered: “I know what the Russians did in interfering in the election. I have 100% confidence in what they did. And for Mr. Trump to stand on that stage in Helsinki, with all the world’s eyes upon him, and to basically [say] he wouldn’t — he doesn’t understand why would the Russians interfere in the election. He’s given Mr. Putin and the Russians a pass time after time after time, and he keeps referring to this whole investigation as a witch hunt, as bogus, as — and to me, this was an attack against the foundational principle of our great republic, which is, the right of all Americans to choose their elected leaders. And for Mr. Trump to so cavalierly just dismiss that, yes, sometimes my Irish comes out, and — in my tweets, and I did say that it rises to and exceeds the level of high crimes and misdemeanors and is nothing short of treasonous. … I didn’t mean that he committed treason, but it was a term that I used, nothing short of treasonous.

Is Brennan starting to come apart at the seams.

Continue Reading

Latest

Afghanistan: The War That Shames America

After 17 bloody years, the longest war in US history continues without relent or purpose in Afghanistan.

Published

on

Authored by Eric Margolis via EricMargolis.com:


There, a valiant, fiercely-independent people, the Pashtun (Pathan) mountain tribes, have battled the full  might of the US Empire to a stalemate that has so far cost American taxpayers $4 trillion, and 2,371 dead and 20,320 wounded soldiers.  No one knows how many Afghans have died. The number is kept secret.

Pashtun tribesmen in the Taliban alliance and their allies are fighting to oust all foreign troops from Afghanistan and evict the western-imposed and backed puppet regime in Kabul that pretends to be the nation’s legitimate government.  Withdraw foreign troops and the Kabul regime would last for only days.

The whole thing smells of the Vietnam War.  Lessons so painfully learned by America in that conflict have been completely forgotten and the same mistakes repeated.  The lies and happy talk from politicians, generals and media continue apace.

This week, Taliban forces occupied the important strategic city of Ghazni on the road from Peshawar to Kabul.  It took three days and massive air attacks by US B-1 heavy bombers, Apache helicopter gun ships, A-10 ground attack aircraft, and massed warplanes from US bases in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar and the 5th US Fleet to finally drive back the Taliban assault.  Taliban also overran key military targets in Kabul and the countryside, killing hundreds of government troops in a sort of Afghan Tet offensive.

Afghan regime police and army units put up feeble resistance or ran away.   Parts of Ghazni were left in ruins.  It was a huge embarrassment to the US imperial generals and their Afghan satraps who had claimed ‘the corner in Afghanistan has finally been turned.’

Efforts by the Trump administration to bomb Taliban into submission have clearly failed.   US commanders fear using American ground troops in battle lest they suffer serious casualties.  Meanwhile, the US is running low on bombs.

Roads are now so dangerous for the occupiers that most movement must be by air.  Taliban is estimated to permanently control almost 50% of Afghanistan.  That number would rise to 100% were it not for omnipresent US air power.  Taliban rules the night.

Taliban are not and never were ‘terrorists’ as Washington’s war propaganda falsely claimed.  I was there at the creation of the movement – a group of Afghan religious students armed by Pakistan whose goal was to stop post-civil war banditry, the mass rape of women, and to fight the Afghan Communists.  When Taliban gained power, it eliminated 95% of the rampant Afghanistan opium-heroin trade. After the US invaded, allied to the old Afghan Communists and northern Tajik tribes, opium-heroin production soared to record levels.  Today, US-occupied Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium, morphine and heroin.

US occupation authorities claim drug production is run by Taliban.  This is another big lie.  The Afghan warlords who support the regime of President Ashraf Ghani entirely control the production and export of drugs.  The army and secret police get a big cut.  How else would trucks packed with drugs get across the border into Pakistan and Central Asia?

The United States has inadvertently become one of the world’s leading drug dealers.  This is one of the most shameful legacies of the Afghan War.  But just one.  Watching the world’s greatest power bomb and ravage little Afghanistan, a nation so poor that some of its people can’t afford sandals, is a huge dishonor for Americans.

Even so, the Pashtun defeated the invading armies of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, the Mogul Emperors and the mighty British Raj.  The US looks to be next in the Graveyard of Empires.

Nobody in Washington can enunciate a good reason for continuing the colonial war in Afghanistan.  One hears talk of minerals, women’s rights and democracy as a pretext for keeping US forces in Afghanistan. All nonsense.  A possible real reason is to deny influence over Afghanistan, though the Chinese are too smart to grab this poisoned cup.  They have more than enough with their rebellious Uighur Muslims.

Interestingly, the so-called ‘terrorist training camps’ supposedly found in Afghanistan in 2001 were actually guerilla training camps run by Pakistani intelligence to train Kashmiri rebels and CIA-run camps for exiled Uighur fighters from China.

The canard that the US had to invade Afghanistan to get at Osama bin Laden, alleged author of the 9/11 attacks, is untrue.  The attacks were made by Saudis and mounted from Hamburg and Madrid, not Afghanistan.  I’m not even sure bin Laden was behind the attacks.

My late friend and journalist Arnaud de Borchgrave shared my doubts and insisted that the Taliban leader Mullah Omar offered to turn bin Laden over to a court in a Muslim nation to prove his guilt or innocence.

President George Bush, caught sleeping on guard duty and humiliated, had to find an easy target for revenge – and that was Afghanistan.

Copyright  Eric S. Margolis   2018.

Continue Reading

Latest

The CIA Owns the US and European Media

The CIA invented fake news.

Paul Craig Roberts

Published

on

Authored by Paul Craig Roberts:


William Blum shares with us his correspondence with Washington Post presstitute Michael Birnbaum. As you can tell from Birnbaum’s replies, he comes across as either very stupid or as a CIA asset.

When I received my briefing as staff associate, House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, which required top secret clearance, I was told by senior members of the staff that the Washington Post was a CIA asset. Watching the Washington Post’s takedown of President Richard Nixon with the orchestrated Watergate story, that became obvious. President Nixon had made too many overtures to the Soviets and too many arms limitations agreements, and he opened to China. Watching President Nixon’s peace initiatives water down the threat level from the Soviet Union and Maoist China, the military/security complex saw a threat to its budget and power and decided that Nixon had to go. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy had resulted in far too much skepticism about the Warren Commission Report, so the CIA decided to use the Washington Post to get rid of Nixon. To keep the clueless American left hating Nixon, the CIA used its assets in the leftwing to keep Nixon blamed for the Vietnam war, a war that Nixon inherited and did not want.

The CIA knew that Nixon’s problem was that he could not exit the war without losing his conservative base, which was convinced of the nonsensical “Domino Theory.” I have always wondered if the CIA concocted the “Domino Theory,” as it so well served them. Unable to get rid of the war “with honor,” Nixon was driven to brutal methods to force the North Vietnamese to accept a situation that he could depart without defeat and soiling America’s “honor” and losing his conservative support base. The North Vietnamese wouldn’t bend, but the US Congress did, and so the CIA succeeded in discrediting among both the leftwing and righwing Nixon’s war management. With no one to defend him, Nixon was an easy target for the CIA.

Here is Blum’s exchange with Birnbaum. It is possible that Birnbaum is neither stupid nor a CIA asset, but just a person wanting to hold on to a job. The last thing he can afford to do is to disabuse readers of the “Russian Threat” when Bezos’ Amazon and Washington Post properties are dependent on the CIA’s annual subsidy of $600 million disquised as a “contract.”https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-12-20/cia-washington-post-and-russia-what-youre-not-being-told

The Anti-Empire Report # 159
Willian Blum

The mind of the mass media: Email exchange between myself and a leading Washington Post foreign policy reporter:
July 18, 2018

Dear Mr. Birnbaum,
You write Trump “made no mention of Russia’s adventures in Ukraine”. Well, neither he nor Putin nor you made any mention of America’s adventures in the Ukraine, which resulted in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in 2014, which led to the justified Russian adventure. Therefore …?
If Russia overthrew the Mexican government would you blame the US for taking some action in Mexico?
William Blum

Dear Mr. Blum,
Thanks for your note. “America’s adventures in the Ukraine”: what are you talking about? Last time I checked, it was Ukrainians in the streets of Kiev who caused Yanukovych to turn tail and run. Whether or not that was a good thing, we can leave aside, but it wasn’t the Americans who did it.
It is, however, Russian special forces who fanned out across Crimea in February and March 2014, according to Putin, and Russians who came down from Moscow who stoked conflict in eastern Ukraine in the months after, according to their own accounts.
Best, Michael Birnbaum

To MB,
I can scarcely believe your reply. Do you read nothing but the Post? Do you not know of high State Dept official Victoria Nuland and the US Ambassador in Ukraine in Maidan Square to encourage the protesters? She spoke of 5 billion (sic) dollars given to aid the protesters who were soon to overthrow the govt. She and the US Amb. spoke openly of who to choose as the next president. And he’s the one who became president. This is all on tape. I guess you never watch Russia Today (RT). God forbid! I read the Post every day. You should watch RT once in a while.
William Blum

To WB,
I was the Moscow bureau chief of the newspaper; I reported extensively in Ukraine in the months and years following the protests. My observations are not based on reading. RT is not a credible news outlet, but I certainly do read far beyond our own pages, and of course I talk to the actual actors on the ground myself – that’s my job.
And: yes, of course Nuland was in the Maidan – but encouraging the protests, as she clearly did, is not the same as sparking them or directing them, nor is playing favorites with potential successors, as she clearly did, the same as being directly responsible for overthrowing the government. I’m not saying the United States wasn’t involved in trying to shape events. So were Russia and the European Union. But Ukrainians were in the driver’s seat the whole way through. I know the guy who posted the first Facebook call to protest Yanukovych in November 2013; he’s not an American agent. RT, meanwhile, reports fabrications and terrible falsehoods all the time. By all means consume a healthy and varied media diet – don’t stop at the US mainstream media. But ask yourself how often RT reports critically on the Russian government, and consider how that lacuna shapes the rest of their reporting. You will find plenty of reporting in the Washington Post that is critical of the US government and US foreign policy in general, and decisions in Ukraine and the Ukrainian government in specific. Our aim is to be fair, without picking sides.
Best, Michael Birnbaum

======================= end of exchange =======================

Right, the United States doesn’t play indispensable roles in changes of foreign governments; never has, never will; even when they offer billions of dollars; even when they pick the new president, which, apparently, is not the same as picking sides. It should be noticed that Mr Birnbaum offers not a single example to back up his extremist claim that RT “reports fabrications and terrible falsehoods all the time.” “All the time”, no less! That should make it easy to give some examples.

For the record, I think RT is much less biased than the Post on international affairs. And, yes, it’s bias, not “fake news” that’s the main problem – Cold-War/anti-Communist/anti-Russian bias that Americans have been raised with for a full century. RT defends Russia against the countless mindless attacks from the West. Who else is there to do that? Should not the Western media be held accountable for what they broadcast? Americans are so unaccustomed to hearing the Russian side defended, or hearing it at all, that when they do it can seem rather weird.

To the casual observer, THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA indictments of July 14 of Russian intelligence agents (GRU) reinforced the argument that the Soviet government interfered in the US 2016 presidential election. Regard these indictments in proper perspective and we find that election interference is only listed as a supposed objective, with charges actually being for unlawful cyber operations, identity theft, and conspiracy to launder money by American individuals unconnected to the Russian government. So … we’re still waiting for some evidence of actual Russian interference in the election aimed at determining the winner.

The Russians did it (cont.)
Each day I spend about three hours reading the Washington Post. Amongst other things I’m looking for evidence – real, legal, courtroom-quality evidence, or at least something logical and rational – to pin down those awful Russkis for their many recent crimes, from influencing the outcome of the 2016 US presidential election to use of a nerve agent in the UK. But I do not find such evidence.

Each day brings headlines like these:

“U.S. to add economic sanctions on Russia: Attack with nerve agent on former spy in England forces White House to act”

“Is Russia exploiting new Facebook goal?”

“Experts: Trump team lacks urgency on Russian threat”

These are all from the same day, August 9, which led me to thinking of doing this article, but similar stories can be found any day in the Post and in major newspapers anywhere in America. None of the articles begins to explain how Russia did these things, or even WHY. Motivation appears to have become a lost pursuit in the American mass media. The one thing sometimes mentioned, which I think may have some credibility, is Russia’s preference of Trump over Hillary Clinton in 2016. But this doesn’t begin to explain how Russia could pull off any of the electoral magic it’s accused of, which would be feasible only if the United States were a backward, Third World, Banana Republic.

There’s the Facebook ads, as well as all the other ads … The people who are influenced by this story – have they read many of the actual ads? Many are pro-Clinton or anti-Trump; many are both; many are neither. It’s one big mess, the only rational explanation of this which I’ve read is that they come from money-making websites, “click-bait” sites as they’re known, which earn money simply by attracting visitors.

As to the nerve agents, it makes more sense if the UK or the CIA did it to make the Russians look bad, because the anti-Russian scandal which followed was totally predictable. Why would Russia choose the time of the World Cup in Moscow – of which all of Russia was immensely proud – to bring such notoriety down upon their head? But that would have been an ideal time for their enemies to want to embarrass them.

However, I have no doubt that the great majority of Americans who follow the news each day believe the official stories about the Russians. They’re particularly impressed with the fact that every US intelligence agency supports the official stories. They would not be impressed at all if told that a dozen Russian intelligence agencies all disputed the charges. Group-think is alive and well all over the world. As is Cold War II.

But we’re the Good Guys, ain’t we?

For a defender of US foreign policy there’s very little that causes extreme heartburn more than someone implying a “moral equivalence” between American behavior and that of Russia. That was the case during Cold War I and it’s the same now in Cold War II. It just drives them up the wall.

After the United States passed a law last year requiring TV station RT (Russia Today) to register as a “foreign agent”, the Russians passed their own law allowing authorities to require foreign media to register as a “foreign agent”. Senator John McCain denounced the new Russian law, saying there is “no equivalence” between RT and networks such as Voice of America, CNN and the BBC, whose journalists “seek the truth, debunk lies, and hold governments accountable.” By contrast, he said, “RT’s propagandists debunk the truth, spread lies, and seek to undermine democratic governments in order to further Vladimir Putin’s agenda.”

And here is Tom Malinowski, former Assistant Secretary of State for democracy, human rights and labor (2014-2017) – last year he reported that Putin had “charged that the U.S. government had interfered ‘aggressively’ in Russia’s 2012 presidential vote,” claiming that Washington had “gathered opposition forces and financed them.” Putin, wrote Malinowski, “apparently got President Trump to agree to a mutual commitment that neither country would interfere in the other’s elections.”

“Is this moral equivalence fair?” Malinowski asked and answered: “In short, no. Russia’s interference in the United States’ 2016 election could not have been more different from what the United States does to promote democracy in other countries.”

How do you satirize such officials and such high-school beliefs?

We also have the case of the US government agency, National Endowment for Democracy (NED), which has interfered in more elections than the CIA or God. Indeed, the man who helped draft the legislation establishing NED, Allen Weinstein, declared in 1991: “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” On April 12, 2018 the presidents of two of NED’s wings wrote: “A specious narrative has come back into circulation: that Moscow’s campaign of political warfare is no different from U.S.-supported democracy assistance.”

“Democracy assistance”, you see, is what they call NED’s election-interferences and government-overthrows. The authors continue: “This narrative is churned out by propaganda outlets such as RT and Sputnik [radio station]. … it is deployed by isolationists who propound a U.S. retreat from global leadership.”

“Isolationists” is what conservatives call critics of US foreign policy whose arguments they can’t easily dismiss, so they imply that such people just don’t want the US to be involved in anything abroad.

And “global leadership” is what they call being first in election-interferences and government-overthrows.

https://williamblum.org/aer/read/159

Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

Advertisement

Your donations make all the difference. Together we can expose fake news lies and deliver truth.

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

Waiting for PayPal...
Validating payment information...
Waiting for PayPal...

Advertisement
Advertisements

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement

Advertisements

The Duran Newsletter

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending