Connect with us

Latest

Analysis

News

Syria, Turkey, Russia and the Kurds: the struggle for Afrin

Russia tries to broker a diplomatic solution to the Afrin conflict

Alexander Mercouris

Published

on

5,711 Views

The complexities of the fighting in Afrin have – unsurprisingly – confounded most people, to the points where understanding of what is actually going on there is becoming very difficult and is causing much misunderstanding.

Deciphering Russian policy with respect to the Afrin conflict between Turkey and the Kurds is causing special problems.

The most common view I have seen is that Turkey attacked the Kurds in Afrin with Russia’s agreement, with some speculating that the Russians are using the Afrin conflict to drive a wedge between Turkey – a NATO member state – and the US, which is backing the Kurds.

This has supposedly pitted the Russians against the Syrian government and Iran.

The recent movement of Syrian troops into Afrin has even led to some talk of Syria and Iran being now pitted in a conflict in Afrin alongside the Kurds against a supposed “Russian-Turkish” alliance.

This is often accompanied with talk that President Assad has made a serious mistake by sending his troops to fight alongside the Kurds in Afrin.  Supposedly the Syrian military without the support of Russia is incapable of defeating the Turkish military and is risking a serious defeat by fighting the Turks alongside the Kurds in Afrin.

In my opinion this analysis is wrong, and in this article I shall attempt to show why.

Before I do so however there are four key points I must make, without a proper knowledge and understanding of which any analysis of the recent moves in the Afrin conflict must fail.

4 key points about the Afrin crisis

(1) The ‘Russian-Turkish’ alliance in Syria does not exist.

Whilst the Russians and the Turks are in constant contact with each other, and whilst economic relations between Russia and Turkey are becoming ever closer, it is a fundamental mistake to think that Russia and Turkey are pursuing the same goals in Syria, as they would be doing if they were genuinely allies of each other.

On the contrary, the reason why contacts between the Russians and Turks over Syria are so intense is precisely because they have to negotiate constantly with each other because their aims in Syria are completely divergent.

(2) Whatever other criticisms may be made of him, President Assad has repeatedly shown over the course of the Syrian conflict that he is (i) in full control of the Syrian government and military; and (ii) an exceptionally skilful, realistic and well-informed politician and war leader.  He is also by now highly experienced.

It could hardly be otherwise.  After seven years of intense conflict President Assad would not still be leading Syria if he was not all those things.

(3) Having intervened in Syria in 2015 to save President Assad and his government, the Russians are not going to abandon him now when he is on the brink of victory and any thought that they might be thinking of doing so should be firmly put aside.

(4) In the de facto alliance which exists between Russia and Syria, Russia is immeasurably the stronger party.  That means that whilst the Russians have to listen carefully to what President Assad and the Syrians tell them, and to take their concerns into account, in the end it is the Syrians who must accommodate themselves to whatever the Russians decide.

Russian objectives in Syria and the Russian alliance with the Syrian government

Points (3) and (4) inevitably lead to a discussion of Russian objectives in Syria.

Especially now that Russia has committed itself to establishing substantial military bases in Syria the Russians need a Syria which is (1) peaceful and stable, so that it is in a position to safeguard the bases; and (2) friendly to themselves.

Beyond that there is for the Russians the question of their overriding objective in intervening in Syria in the first place.  That was done – as the Russians have said repeatedly – in order to achieve a Syria free of Jihadi terrorist influence, so that it cannot threaten Russia.  Only a strong and stable Syrian government in full control of all of Syria’s territory which is friendly to Russia can achieve this.

If it was not obvious to the Russians before, it is certainly obvious now, that President Assad is the only Syrian political leader who has the skill, legitimacy, support and authority within Syria to deliver all these things.  No substitute or replacement to him has emerged, because none exists.  That guarantees that Russia will stick by him.

To the extent that Russia is allied to any party in the Syrian conflict it is therefore with President Assad and his government.

Evidence for the existence of that alliance is there for all to see in the joint military operations the Syrian military and the Russians conduct together – as for example currently in eastern Ghouta – and in the obvious coordination that goes on between them on political and diplomatic questions.

That does not of course mean that disagreements between the Russians and President Assad’s government do not from time to time arise.  The Russians are known for example to believe that President Assad and the Syrian government should be more accommodating than they have been up to now towards the Kurds.

However the existence of these disagreements should not obscure the fact that on all major issues the Russians and the Syrians work together with each other, and that they are pursuing a common objective in Syria, which is the restoration of the Syrian government’s authority over the whole of Syria’s territory.

Given the presence of US and Turkish troops on Syrian territory, achieving that objective requires considerable diplomatic manoeuvring and finesse if an uncontrolled escalation of the conflict is to be avoided.  However that flexibility in achieving that objective should not cause confusion about what that objective is.   It is a major error to misconstrue tactical moves that the Russians and the Syrians must from time to time make as signs that they are giving up on their joint objective.  On the contrary they are steps towards achieving it.

Once all these points are understood it becomes possible to decipher the recent moves in the Afrin conflict correctly.

Origins of the Afrin conflict in the US’s Plan C

The conflict has its origins in what I have called the US’s Plan C: the US plan to create a powerful quasi-independent and heavily armed Kurdish statelet in northern Syria so as to undermine the Syrian government and to prevent the Syrian government from regaining control of all of Syria’s territory.

As I have previously pointed out, Plan C was hatched by a small group of powerful insiders within the US bureaucracy – President Trump’s National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster seems to have played a key role – and has never been properly discussed or thought through.

The result is that the inevitable strong reaction of Turkey to Plan C – ie to the creation of a heavily armed YPG led Kurdish statelet on its southern border – was grossly underestimated, so that the Turkish military intervention in Afrin and the Turkish demands for a US and Kurdish withdrawal from the strategically important town of Manbij seems to have taken the US by surprise.

Characteristically, despite the increasingly dangerous Turkish moves, the powerful insiders within the US bureaucracy who hatched Plan C have far too much invested in it to draw back, so that despite President Trump’s publicly expressed doubts and Turkey’s growing anger the US continues to pursue Plan C by continuing (despite denials) to arm the Kurds.

That all but guarantees that the conflict between Turkey and the Kurds – and between Turkey and the US – in Syria will continue and will escalate.

The only way that can be prevented is if the Kurds can be persuaded to change their position by distancing themselves from the US and by withdrawing themselves from involvement in the US’s Plan C.

Turkey’s attack on the Afrin and objectives in Syria

Turkey and President Erdogan for their part are making use of the conflict in Afrin not only to prevent the US backed YPG led Kurdish statelet in northern Syria from emerging but in order to pursue their own wider objectives in Syria.

These are to create a zone of territory in northern Syria under effective Turkish control which will act as a safe area for Turkey’s anti-Assad Jihadi proxies.

The Turkish incursion into northern Syria in August 2016 (Operation Euphrates Shield) was in furtherance of this objective, and the latest Turkish advance into Afrin (Operation Olive Branch) is a continuation of it.

The ongoing deployment of convoys of Turkish troops to the Jihadi controlled Syrian province of Idlib – which is clearly intended to block the advance of the Syrian army – is also being undertaken to achieve this objective..

That the Turkish attack on Afrin ultimately targets the Syrian government as much as it does the Kurds was in fact made clear in interviews given to the Guardian by the anti-Assad Arab Jihadi fighters who are participating alongside the Turkish army in the Afrin operation.

See for example this highly revealing discussion of Jihadi objectives in fighting alongside Turkey in Afrin in this Guardian article dated 27th January 2018

The decision to cross over into Syria, and directly intervene in the seven-year-long civil war, has underlined the depth of Turkey’s concern about Kurdish fighters inside Syria. But it has also thrown Ankara’s ambitious training project into relief. According to rebel commanders, Turkey has for nearly two years been supporting the build-up and training of a unified army in Syria capable of resuming the battle against President Bashar al-Assad, now in the ascendant in the long civil war.

The genesis of the idea came in the opening months of Turkey’s first military campaign into Syria, when it launched Operation Euphrates Shield in the summer of 2016. Its troops had orders to both oust Isis from key border towns and limit the Kurdish militias’ westward expansion.

After taking the town of Jarablus near the border, Turkey sought to augment the Euphrates Shield forces – a disparate coalition of rebel militias – with a cadre of trained fighters to tackle Isis and guard the frontiers against Kurdish forces.

Rebel officials say the training programme has continued, building up Euphrates Shield into a force of 10,000 to 15,000 battle-ready soldiers, with an additional 10,000 recent recruits. After major military losses to Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies, the rebels see this force as a lifeline that could allow them to relaunch their waning insurgency. That rebel army, they say, could wage a campaign to eliminate al-Qaida-linked fighters who dominate the opposition-controlled province of Idlib, and go on to fight Assad again.

“We cannot accept military defeat, we have to reinforce and start over,” said one rebel official. “Euphrates Shield is against both terrorism and the regime, and it is the first step to build a state.” But their prime aim of unseating Assad seems increasingly divergent from their Turkish patrons’ focus on attacking Kurdish troops, meaning the force may ultimately amount to nothing but another proxy militia under a foreign power’s command – much like most other groups fighting in Syria…..

Turkey has quietly continued to support the project as it has grown into multiple divisions led by Syrian commanders who coordinate with Turkish officers, and who are spearheading the campaign in Afrin now. Therein lies the dilemma of the rebels leading the ground assault. Abandoned by all their international allies, they see no choice but to follow Turkey’s lead.

While they agree with the rationale of the Afrin campaign, they also hope that taking the Kurdish enclave will open up a ground corridor into Idlib that would allow the national rebel army its first test against their greatest enemies – Assad’s regime, and Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), the former wing of al-Qaida in Syria. Turkey has given them no promises of support for this. Its actions after the Afrin campaign will determine whether it has helped build up the rebel army to be its own proxy force, or to fight against the regime.

“We have to play on the differences between global powers negotiating in Syria,” said one rebel commander, whose group is not in Afrin but intends to join the national rebel army. “It is a strategic interest to open the ground corridor into Idlib, and it coincides with Turkish interests.”

(bold italics added)

These words not only give insight into the motives of the Turkish backed Jihadi forces fighting in Afrin.  They also show the suspicions they have towards President Erdogan and the Turkish government.

However the overall objective is clear enough, and it is also clear that Turkey backs it.  It is to take over Afrin and then use Afrin along with Jarablus (the latter captured by the Turkish army in August 2016 at the outset of Operation Euphrates Shield) as stepping stones towards establishing a Turkish backed Jihadi protectorate over Idlib province (currently a contested zone between ISIS and Al-Qaeda), which can then be used as launch pad for a renewed Jihadi offensive against the Syrian government.

Moreover it seems that a very large Jihadi force numbering up to 25,000 men is being built up with Turkish help to put this plan into effect.

This article in the Guardian vindicates the analysis of the motives behind Turkey’s 2016 Operation Euphrates Shield made at the time by the independent analyst Mark Sleboda (see my discussion made at the time here).

Just as Mark Sleboda said, far from Operation Euphrates Shield being aimed primarily at ISIS and the Kurds – as President Erdogan led everyone at the time to believe – its primary purpose was to rescue the Jihadi insurgency by bringing it under Turkish control, and rebuilding it in a Turkish controlled and Turkish protected safe area in northern Syria under the supervision of the Turkish army.

The current Turkish operation against the Kurds in Afrin is explicitly said by the Turkish backed Jihadi fighters to be in further pursuit of this plan.

The Syrian government and the Kurds: cutting deals with each other

This is what explains the recent deployment of Syrian forces to Afrin, and the Syrian government’s strong opposition to the Turkish operation in Afrin.

Though the Syrian government is obviously deeply concerned about the recent alignment of the Kurdish militia with the US and is determined to do all it can to end it, the Kurdish militia is not an existential threat to the Syrian government or to the Syrian state in the way that the Jihadi groups that Turkey backs are.

Whilst the establishment of a US backed Kurdish statelet in northern Syria would be a major blow to the Syrian government, there is no possibility of the Kurdish militia taking over the whole of Syria or marching on Damascus.

By contrast the Jihadi fighters currently fighting alongside the Turkish army in Afrin make no secret that that is precisely what their ultimate objective is.

For that reason it is overwhelmingly in the interests of the Syrian government to prevent the Turkish army from taking over Afrin, and that is why the Syrian government has facilitated the transfer of Kurdish fighters from other areas of Syria to Afrin, and why it has now deployed pro-government militia forces there.

This deployment of pro-government militia forces to Afrin in fact achieves for the Syrian government a multiplicity of purposes:

(1) It makes it more difficult for the Turkish army to conquer Afrin, something which it is in the Syrian government’s overwhelmingly strong interest to prevent;

(2) It re-establishes a Syrian government presence on the ground in Afrin, furthering the Syrian government’s ultimate objective of re-establishing itself across all of Syria’s territory; and

(3) Despite the YPG’s denials, it is overwhelmingly likely that some sort of deal has been done, enabling the Syrian government to take over territory from the YPG in return for its help in Afrin.

Already there are reports that the YPG has surrendered control of several districts in Aleppo province to the Syrian army.

Assuming that these reports are true – and video footage suggests that they are – then this is probably only the first of many concessions the Kurdish militia has been obliged to make to the Syrian government in order to secure its support in Afrin.  There are now even reports – published by the normally reliable Al-Masdar news agency – that the Kurds are about to hand over to the Syrian military the key town of Manbij, which is a declared objective of Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch.

What then of the fears which are widely expressed that the entry of Syrian militia forces into Afrin is a foolhardy step, setting the scene for an all-out clash between the Turkish military and the Syrian army, which the Syrian army cannot win?

An assessment of those risks requires a discussion of Russian policy in the Afrin crisis.

Russia and Afrin: brokering a compromise?

Any discussion of Russian policy in the Afrin crisis needs to begin with two of the points I made previously:

(1) that it is strongly in Russia’s interests that the Syrian government re-establish its authority across the whole of Syria, and that this is now Russia’s primary objective in the conflict; and

(2) that in the de facto alliance between the Syrian government and Russia it is Russia which is overwhelmingly the dominant partner to whose opinions the Syrian government must defer.

These facts taken together with the fact that President Assad has repeatedly shown a keen understanding of Syria’s need to work with the Russians makes it all but inconceivable that the deployment of pro-government militia forces to Afrin was undertaken by the Syrian government without Russia’s agreement.

That Russia has approved the Syrian government’s decision to send pro-government militia forces to Afrin has now been confirmed by the presence of Russian troops escorting the pro-government militia forces as they redeploy to Afrin in order to deter attacks on them by the Turkish military.

Here is how the reliable and well-informed Al-Masdar news agency has reported the Russian deployment

The 3rd batch of Syrian popular forces made it into the northwestern city of Afrin through al-Ziyara crossing to help defend the predominantly-Kurdish region from the Turkish aggression.

The first two batches have entered Afrin during the past few days as per an agreement concluded earlier between the Syrian government and Kurdish factions.

 Last month, Turkey and its proxy militants have launched a full-scale offensive on Afrin region with the aim to ‘liberate the area from the terrorist Kurdish militiamen”.

The arrival of the Syrian forces will definitely make things harder for the already troubled Turkish-backed militants who failed to make substantial gains on the ground.

Meanwhile, members of the Russian military police were seen escorting the convoys at the Ziyara crossing in order to prevent the Turkish military from targeting the crossing as it was the case a few days ago when the 1st batch arrived.

(bold italics added)

Obviously the Russians have no more wish to see Afrin become a Turkish controlled base area for a Jihadi army capable of threatening the Syrian government than the Syrians themselves do.  That the Russians are therefore quietly assisting in the deployment of pro-government militia forces to Afrin in order to prevent that happening should not be a surprise.

What is true – and what is the source of much of the confusion – is that the Russians have to play their cards very carefully.

The fundamental weakness of the Russians’ Syrian strategy is that they need President Erdogan’s cooperation in order to stabilise Syria and to bring the conflict there to an end.  At the same time the Russians have to work with the fact that President Erdogan’s objectives in Syria – of which the Russians are of course fully informed – are diametrically opposite to their own.

This is what creates the strange shadow-boxing between the Russians and Turkey in Syria, with the Russians and the Turks needing at all times to appear to be on the best of terms with each other even as they constantly manoeuvre against each other for advantage.

It is this tortuous approach which explains why the Russians initially approved the Turkish attack on the Kurds in Afrin but have now approved a Syrian government move intended to thwart that attack.

The Russians will however be anxious to prevent an open clash between the Turkish and Syrian militaries from taking place in Afrin.

The Russians and the Syrian government are of course fully aware that in any one to one clash between the Turkish and Syrian militaries the advantage lies with the Turkish army.  The Russians would be loathe to see such a clash happen not just because it is likely that the Syrian military would be defeated, but because were it to happen they would come under immense pressure from Syria and Iran to come to the Syrian army’s aid.

Were they to do so their relationship with President Erdogan and Turkey would however be damaged probably beyond repair, thereby ending any prospect of their securing President Erdogan’s help to end the conflict in Syria.

This explains the understated nature of Russia’s moves.

It is known that the Russians tried to preempt Turkey’s Afrin operation by trying to persuade the Kurds to hand over Afrin to the Syrian government.  The Kurds however refused, so when the Turks attacked the Russians gave them the green light.

Now that the Kurds in Afrin are coming under pressure they have been forced to turn to the Syrian government.  The Russians have therefore given the Syrian government the green light to deploy its forces there.  At the same time they have almost certainly brokered an agreement whereby the Kurds in return for Syrian help will surrender districts they control in Aleppo and the town of Manbij to the Syrian government.

At the same time the Russians – anxious to maintain a dialogue with President Erdogan and to help him save face – have ensured that the Syrian deployment to Afrin is of a limited nature, being made up exclusively of pro-government militia forces, with no involvement by the Syrian army

The Al-Masdar news agency has confirmed that no Syrian troops are actually present in Afrin, showing that the deployment of pro-government militia forces to Afrin is intended first and foremost as a piece of positioning in advance of negotiations

No Syrian Arab Army (SAA) troops have entered the Afrin region of Aleppo, a military source in Aleppo told Al-Masdar News on Saturday morning.

According to the military source, the Syrian Army has been ordered to remain in Aleppo city and absent from the Afrin front.

The source added that the Syrian Army agreed to stay out of the battle after the Russian military held a meeting with their Turkish counterparts.

While the Syrian Army is absent from Afrin, the pro-government National Defense Forces (NDF) have entered this region to aid the Kurdish-led YPG.

The NDF coordinates with the Syrian Army, but they are not an actual branch of the military, which means they can operate autonomously if need be.

(bold italics added)

Russia’s plan

It is not in fact difficult to see what the Russian plan is.

Turkey’s Operation Olive Branch has now brought the whole of the border area in northern Afrin under Turkish control.

The Russians are now doubtless telling the Turks that this has achieved for Turkey its primary objective, which is to prevent the movement of Kurdish YPG and PKK fighters and supplies from Afrin into Turkey.

However the Russians are doubtless also telling the Turks that further advances deeper into Afrin would be unwise since they will meet with increased resistance not just from the Kurds but from forces loyal to Damascus. They will point to the presence of pro-government militia forces in Afrin to reinforce their point.

Having secured the border, they will be saying to Erdogan and to the Turks that it is now in Turkey’s interests to declare victory and stop.

As for the Kurds, the Russians will be reminding them that when they came under attack from Turkey their US ‘allies’ were nowhere to be seen, so that they had to look for help to the Syrian government and to Russia.

It is not therefore in the Kurds’ interests to get enmeshed in the US’s Plan C.  Better for them to come to terms with the Syrian government – which means accepting its authority – whilst relying on the help of Russia to secure such terms for them as it can.

The Russians will be reminding the Kurds that Russia has always been sympathetic to Kurdish aspirations, and they will be advising the Kurds to listen to Russia’s advice as advice coming from a friend.

As for the Syrian government, any agreement with the Kurds and with Turkey which detaches the Kurds from the US and which results in the establishment of a Syrian government presence in areas formerly under Kurdish control would be for it a good thing, advancing the Syrian government’s eventual goal of re-establishing its control over all of Syria’s territory, whilst if Turkish plans to establish a safe zone for Turkey’s Jihadi proxies in northern Syria can be prevented, then that would be even better.

The Russians will not only be telling the Syrians all this; they will also be telling the Syrians that accepting a limited and ultimately temporary presence of Turkish troops in northern Afrin and making some minor concessions to the Kurds on questions of cultural autonomy and local government is a small price to pay in order to achieve it.

Will it work?

Any negotiation involving President Erdogan and the Kurds is fraught with difficulty.

Both have maximalist objectives – in President Erdogan’s case for the establishment of a Jihadi dominated Islamist state in Syria under Turkish control, in the case of the Kurds for self-rule in an independent Kurdish state – to which they are emotionally deeply committed, and which they are very reluctant to give up.

Moreover there is the further complicating factor that neither President Erdogan nor the Kurds can be trusted to keep whatever agreements they make.  That means that any agreement made with them requires constant effort to be kept effective.

Against this both President Erdogan and the Kurds find themselves in increasing difficulties.

For President Erdogan, whilst Operation Olive Branch has made some important advances in Afrin, it has done so at the price of heavy losses, and against combined Russian, Syrian and Kurdish opposition it is likely to run into increasing difficulties.

President Erdogan must also worry about Turkey’s rapidly deteriorating relations with the US, and may calculate that Turkey therefore needs at least the appearance of a good relationship with Russia in order to protect itself from the US.

Over and above these considerations, following the incident of the downing of the Russian SU-24 President Erdogan knows very well the heavy price Turkey will pay if it crosses Russia.  With Turkey’s economy showing signs of overheating, and heavily dependent on Russia, he has every incentive to keep relations with Russia on track.

As for the Kurds, their recent setbacks in Afrin have shown them that for all their bragging they cannot take on the Turkish military by themselves, and that in a showdown with Turkey they cannot rely on the US to save them.

Both President Erdogan and the Kurds therefore have reasons to draw back, though whether the Russians can persuade them to do so is another matter.

Having said this, both President Erdogan and the Kurds have shown themselves to be willing to make compromises in the past, so the possibility that they can be persuaded to do so again should not be completely discounted.

What is beyond dispute is that Russian diplomacy is working flat out to achieve that very thing.

Not only is the Russian military talking to the Turkish military on the ground, but Alexander Lavrentyev, a top Russian diplomat and President Putin’s personal envoy, has just met with President Assad in Damascus, whilst President Putin and President Erdogan have again spoken to each other, as the Russians gear up for the summit they are trying to convene between President Putin of Russia, President Erdogan of Turkey and President Rouhani of Iran in Istanbul.

Much now rides on the success of this summit.  However the possibility of a breakthrough is there.

Of course if that happens it will be the final end of the US’s Plan C, and the beginning of the end of the war in Syria.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Latest

Venezuela to Iran and Abrams to Pompeo, neocon warmongers had a bad week (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 86.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou take a quick look at neocon foreign policy blunders in Venezuela, and Iran.

Neocon war criminal Elliott Abrams was humiliated and demolished by Rep. Ilhan Omar over his history of illegal Latin American regime change operations. In Poland Vice President Mike Pence and Mike Pompeo were rebuked, as their Iran warmongering conference feel flat to a European audience.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Via Zerohedge


Rep. Ilhan Omar clashed with newly minted Venezuela Envoy Elliott Abrams during a Wednesday hearing in front of the House Foreign Relations Committee discussing the role of the US military in Central America.

“Mr. Abrams, in 1991 you pleaded guilty to two counts of withholding information from Congress regarding your involvement in the Iran-Contra affair, for which you were later pardoned by president George H.W. Bush,” began Omar. “I fail to understand why members of this committee or the American people should find any testimony that you give today to be truthful.”

“If I could respond to that…” interjected Abrams.

It was not a question,” shot back Omar.

After a brief exchange in which Abrams protested “It was not right!” Omar cut Abrams off, saying “Thank you for your participation.”

Omar: “On February 8, 1982, you testified before the Senate foreign relations committee about US policy in El Salvador. In that hearing you dismissed as communist propaganda, a report about the massacre of El Mozote in which more than 800 civilians – including children as young as two-years old – were brutally murdered by US-trained troops. During that massacre, some of those troops bragged about raping 12-year-old girls before they killed them. You later said that the US policy in El Salvador was a “fabulous achievement.”

“Yes or no – do you still think so?” asked Omar.

Abrams replied: “From, the day that Duarte was elected in a free election, to this day, El Salvador has been a democracy. That’s a fabulous achievement.”

Omar shot back: “Yes or no, do you think that massacre was a fabulous achievement that happened under our watch?”

Abrams protested: “That is a ridiculous question—

to which Omar shot back, “Yes or no,” cutting him off.

“No!” exclaimed Abrams, who added “I am not going to respond to that kind of personal attack – which is not a question.”

Omar pushed back: “Yes or no, would you support an armed faction within Venezuela that engages in war crimes, crimes against humanity or genocide, if you believe they were serving US interests as you did in Guatemala, El Salvador and Nicaragua?

I am not going to respond to that question, I’m sorry. I don’t think this entire line of questioning is meant to be real questions, and so I will not reply.” said Abrams.

Watch:

As Joseph Duggan of American Greatness noted two weeks ago;

Abrams is the pre-eminent prophet and practitioner of hyper-interventionist approaches to destabilize or overthrow governments – of foes and friends alike – that do not pass his democracy-is-the-end-all-and-be-all litmus test. His closest friends and associates, from whom his political positions are indistinguishable, include some of President Trump’s most rabid enemies, false-flag “conservatives” Bill Kristol and Max Boot.

Abrams, who had served in the Reagan State Department, faced multiple felony charges for lying to Congress and defying U.S. law in his role as a mastermind of the Iran-Contra debacle.Abrams’ dishonesty almost destroyed Ronald Reagan’s presidency and put Reagan in jeopardy of impeachment. Abrams was allowed to plead guilty to two reduced charges and later was pardoned by George H.W. Bush, who feared impeachment because of his own role in Iran-Contra.

After having expressed antagonism towards nation-building during the 2000 campaign, newly elected President George W. Bush appointed Abrams as deputy national security adviser, where Abrams’ role was essentially nation builder-in-chief.

Abrams was even more consequential as nation-wrecker. He was one of the principal architects of the invasion of Iraq. He is an inveterate advocate of “regime change” against countries whose policies he doesn’t like. He has a track record in attempting to overthrow foreign governments both by covert action and outright military invasion. –American Greatness

Wednesday’s heated exchange followed a controversial week for Rep. Omar, who came under bipartisan fire for her criticism of Israeli money in US politics, which was widely interpreted as anti-Semitic.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

More evidence of Clinton election meddling, as calls for investigation grow louder (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 85.

Alex Christoforou

Published

on

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the real case for Russia collusion before and during the 2016 US Presidential election, not against Donald Trump, but the Clinton’s and the Democrat Party.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Follow The Duran Audio Podcast on Soundcloud.

Authored by John Solomon, via The Hill


With Republicans on both House and Senate investigative committees having found no evidence of Donald Trump being guilty of Democrat-inspired allegations of Russian collusion, it is worth revisiting one anecdote that escaped significant attention during the hysteria but continues to have U.S. security implications.

As secretary of State, Hillary Clinton worked with Russian leaders, including Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and then-President Dmitri Medvedev, to create U.S. technology partnerships with Moscow’s version of Silicon Valley, a sprawling high-tech campus known as Skolkovo.

Clinton’s handprint was everywhere on the 2009-2010 project, the tip of a diplomatic spear to reboot U.S.-Russian relations after years of hostility prompted by Vladimir Putin’s military action against the former Soviet republic and now U.S. ally Georgia.

A donor to the Clinton Foundation, Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, led the Russian side of the effort, and several American donors to the Clinton charity got involved. Clinton’s State Department facilitated U.S. companies working with the Russian project, and she personally invited Medvedev to visit Silicon Valley.

The collaboration occurred at the exact same time Bill Clinton made his now infamous trip to Russia to pick up a jaw-dropping $500,000 check for a single speech.

The former president’s trip secretly raised eyebrows inside his wife’s State Department, internal emails show.

That’s because he asked permission to meet Vekselberg, the head of Skolkovo, and Arkady Dvorkovich, a senior official of Rosatom, the Russian nuclear giant seeking State’s permission to buy Uranium One, a Canadian company with massive U.S. uranium reserves.

Years later, intelligence documents show, both the Skolkovo and Uranium One projects raised serious security concerns.

In 2013, the U.S. military’s leading intelligence think tank in Europe sounded alarm that the Skolkovo project might be a front for economic and military espionage.

“Skolkovo is an ambitious enterprise, aiming to promote technology transfer generally, by inbound direct investment, and occasionally, through selected acquisitions. As such, Skolkovo is arguably an overt alternative to clandestine industrial espionage — with the additional distinction that it can achieve such a transfer on a much larger scale and more efficiently,” EUCOM’s intelligence bulletin wrote in 2013.

“Implicit in Russia’s development of Skolkovo is a critical question — a question that Russia may be asking itself — why bother spying on foreign companies and government laboratories if they will voluntarily hand over all the expertise Russia seeks?”

A year later, the FBI went further and sent letters warning several U.S. technology companies that had become entangled with Skolkovo that they risked possible espionage. And an agent in the bureau’s Boston office wrote an extraordinary op-ed to publicize the alarm.

Skolkovo “may be a means for the Russian government to access our nation’s sensitive or classified research development facilities and dual-use technologies with military and commercial application,” Assistant Special Agent in Charge Lucia Ziobro wrote in the Boston Business Journal.

The FBI had equal concern about Rosatom’s acquisition of Uranium One. An informer named William Douglas Campbell had gotten inside the Russian nuclear giant in 2009 and gathered evidence that Rosatom’s agents in the United States were engaged in a racketeering scheme involving kickbacks, extortion and bribery.

Campbell also obtained written evidence that Putin wanted to buy Uranium One as part of a strategy to obtain monopolistic domination of the global uranium markets, including leverage over the U.S.

Campbell also warned that a major in-kind donor to the Clinton Global Initiative was simultaneously working for Rosatom while the decision for U.S. approval was pending before Hillary Clinton’s department. Ultimately, her department and the Obama administration approved the transaction.

The evidence shows the Clintons financially benefited from Russia — personally and inside their charity — at the same time they were involved in U.S. government actions that rewarded Moscow and increased U.S. security risks.

The intersections between the Clintons, the Democrats and Russia carried into 2016, when a major political opposition research project designed to portray GOP rival Donald Trump as compromised by Moscow was launched by Clinton’s presidential campaign and brought to the FBI.

Glenn Simpson’s Fusion GPS research firm was secretly hired by the Clinton campaign and Democratic Party through their law firm, Perkins Coie.

Simpson then hired retired British intelligence operative Christopher Steele — whom the FBI learned was “desperate” to defeat Trump — to write an unverified dossier suggesting that Trump’s campaign was colluding with Russia to hijack the election.

Simpson, Steele and Perkins Coie all walked Trump-Russia related allegations into the FBI the summer before the election, prompting agents who openly disliked Trump to launch a counterintelligence probe of the GOP nominee shortly before Election Day.

Simpson and Steele also went to the news media to air the allegations in what senior Justice Department official Bruce Ohr would later write was a “Hail Mary” effort to influence the election.

Congressional investigators have painstakingly pieced together evidence that shows the Clinton research project had extensive contact with Russians.

Ohr’s notes show that Steele’s main source of uncorroborated allegationsagainst Trump came from an ex-Russian intelligence officer. “Much of the collection about the Trump campaign ties to Russia comes from a former Russian intelligence officer (? not entirely clear) who lives in the U.S.,” Ohr scribbled.

Steele’s dossier also relied on information from a Belarus-born Russian businessman, according to numerous reports and a book on the Russia scandal.

Steele and Simpson had Russian-tied business connections, too, while they formulated the dossier.

Steele worked for the lawyers for Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska and tried to leverage those connections to help the FBI get evidence from the Russian aluminum magnate against Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort.

The effort resulted in FBI agents visiting Deripaska in fall 2016. Deripaska told the agents that no collusion existed.

Likewise, Simpson worked in 2016 for the Russian company Prevezon — which was trying to escape U.S. government penalties — and one of its Russian lawyers, Natalia Veselnitskaya. In sworn testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Simpson admitted he dined with Veselnitskaya both the night before and the night after her infamous meeting with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in June 2016.

Simpson insists the two dinners sandwiching one of the seminal events in the Trump collusion narrative had nothing to do with the Trump Tower meeting, a claim many Republicans distrust.

Whatever the case, there’s little doubt the main instigators of the Clinton-inspired allegations against Trump got information from Russians and were consorting with them during the political opposition project.

This past week, we learned from Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) that his committee came to the same conclusion as the House: There is no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

But now there is growing evidence — of Democratic connections to Russia. It’s enough that former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) believes a probe should be opened.

There is “obvious collusion the Democrats had through Glenn Simpson and through Fusion GPS, that they were talking directly to Russia,” Nunes told Hill.TV’s “Rising” in an interview to be aired Monday.

Collusion can be criminal if it involves conspiracy to break federal laws, or it can involve perfectly legal, unwitting actions that still jeopardize America’s security against a “frenemy” like Russia.

There is clear evidence now that shows Hillary Clinton’s family and charity profited from Moscow and simultaneously facilitated official government actions benefiting Russia that have raised security concerns.

And there’s irrefutable evidence that her opposition research effort on Trump — one that inspired an FBI probe — was carried out by people who got information from Russia and were consorting with Russians.

It would seem those questions deserve at least some of the scrutiny afforded the Trump-Russia collusion inquiry that is now two-plus years old.


NOTE: This story has been updated from the original to correct that Uranium One is a Canadian company and to clarify that House and Senate investigating committees have cleared the president.

John Solomon is an award-winning investigative journalist whose work over the years has exposed U.S. and FBI intelligence failures before the Sept. 11 attacks, federal scientists’ misuse of foster children and veterans in drug experiments, and numerous cases of political corruption. He is The Hill’s executive vice president for video

 

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Latest

Douma chemical weapons hoax exposed by BBC producer

Very frightening for us all is the coordination of propaganda between the States of US, Britain, France and Israel.

Richard Galustian

Published

on

It is beyond doubt that the White Helmets ‘staged’ the false flag operation at the Douma hospital that caused President Trump to attack Syria last April.

Days after the attack the much to be admired, yet still maligned by many, investigative reporter, Robert Fisk was on the ground in Douma and interviewed countless people, videoed the scene, made it public in the newspapers and by TV the fact of the fake sarin attack.

What happened next were attempts to rubbish Fisk’s story; a almost frightening Orwellian propaganda machine kicked in….and went into overdrive. That is to say a combination of ‘corrupt’ reporters; some just naive or dumb, many of whom had never been to Douma or even Syria, plus the full weight of the US, British and French Governments and finally, not forgetting, one of the greatest fraudsters of this century an absolute nobody, that calls himself Eliot Higgins and his ‘Bellycat Organisation’, all weighed in to accuse Fisk of lying.

Clearly not in order of importance but suffice to say Elliot Higgins, is now obviously ‘used’ as a convenient tool for Russia bashing by certain Western powers, but is a total fraud. Rather than write too much about this person, judge by reading an exposé that couldn’t be more revealing, uncovering his lie in the Daily Telegraph (link:http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/middleeast/syria/10730163/The-blogger-who-tracks-Syrian-rockets-from-his-sofa.html).

Not much more need be said about this con-man turned ‘G-Man’. However later in this piece, I will quote some of the Douma ridiculing propaganda of Higgins/Bellingcat, as it is too crass not to be reminded of the way our governments operate.

So based on a complete lie, President Trump ordered an attack on an Assad controlled area in Syria using several bombs including 66 Tomahawk cruise missiles and 19 JASSM-ER (fired from USAF fighters, air to surface standoff missiles). The price for all was around $200million. Much needed money wasted that belongs to the people of US in these austere times.

That by the way does not include the cost of the coordinated attack by the British and French of a total (together) of 17 stormshadow missiles dropped from fighters. Its worth mentioning that in a pathetic display of oneupmanship directed at the British, the French made a last minute decision to add a meagre three more missile types to their attack; ‘Missiles de Croisière Navals’.

As said earlier it is important to remember the Orwellian ‘anti-truth’ propaganda and instead of commenting on it, I’ll just quote what Higgins/Bellingcat said at the time. “The OPCW-FFM report on the February 4 2018 chemical attack in Saraqib, Idlib, reveals not only information about the Saraqib attack, but also the broader use of chemical weapons in Syria by Assad, and additional evidence to support the theory that Assad’s Syrian government forces were behind the April 7 2018 chemical attack in Douma, Damascus. Consistent with Bellingcat’s earlier investigation into the Saraqib chemical attack, the OPCW-FFM report establishes it was the same case in Douma.”

Nonsense.

This scandal of this and other fake White Helmets videos is developing as more details emerge daily, so expect more facts matched with more disinformation and lies from the US and UK.

What we have is first a copy of a twitter exchange which is self explanatory:

So as to be absolutely clear, on February 13th, BBC Syria’s Producer said he could “without a doubt” prove that the Douma hospital scene was false, a White Helmets (WH) fake event.

He said “the Douma Hospital scene was staged. No fatalities occurred in the hospital. All the WH, activists and people I spoke to are either in Idlib or Euphrates Shield areas.

Only one person was in Damascus.”

The evidence is seen above in the tweet at 05:33 – 13 February 2019, the BBC Producer wrote on his personal, verified Twitter account, which has since been made private or perhaps blocked by persons or governments unknown, anyway someone who controls Twitter.

So some sort of what clearly must have been a false flag attack did happen at Douma but it was like a film scene, staged, using as left over evidence, cylinders filled with say oxygen even chlorine, anything but poison gas and certainly not Sarin gas. The cylinders were left in tact, undamaged as if laid there on the site rather than dropped from thousands of feet from the sky – and who can prove Assad’s airforce dropped them? – and how come they remained undamaged when hitting the ground? – ridiculous; how stupid do our governments think we, the people, are.

“Everything around the attack was manufactured for maximum effect.”

Adding “I can tell you that Jaysh al-Islam ruled Douma with an iron fist. They co-opted activists, doctors and humanitarians with fear and intimidation.”

In fact, one of the 4 people filming the scene was Dr. Abu Bakr Hanan, whom the BBC Producer described as a “brute and shifty” doctor affiliated with Jaysh Al-Islam. The Producer further stating that the narrative should be that “there weren’t enough doctors”. That said, there was one even (seen and filmed) filming and not taking part in the rescue efforts.” A joke!

Why, we must all ask, has no major newspaper or TV any large media outlet in US, UK or France headlined or even mentioned these new facts, that Douma was a lie, that it was staged?

On 9 February, James Harkin, published in ‘The Intercept’ an article where Harkin speaks about Jaysh al-Islam’s rule in Douma, among others. His article ends with “What government pummels its citizens with bombs and chlorine to get them to pressure rebels to leave their city? At the same time, Jaish Al-Islam was sending volleys of improvised rockets into Damascus and snatching activists and members of religious minorities for ransom or to be disappeared. It’s between these two violent truths that the real story of the Syrian conflict begins to emerge not in a bewildering collage of images sent from a war zone, designed to terrify and outrage.”

To conclude, the BBC Producer was so disgusted at pro-rebel activists and rebels’ conduct and the seeming complicity of Western officials, he decide to speak out.

As far as the Russian government is concerned, they now are counter accusing the British government of ordering the White Helmets to fake a chemical attack to help persuade President Trump to unleash cruise missiles. The Russian response was to an allegation by the British government that the “demonisation” of the (thoroughly already discredited) White Helmets comes from the Russian government itself.

Which version do you believe?

Very frightening for us all is the coordination of propaganda between the States of US, Britain, France and Israel.

ALL these wars must stop.

I am neither pro-nor against Russia, but it is very clear to anyone that these wars and attempts at regime changing is a US/British/Israeli idea.

Liked it? Take a second to support The Duran on Patreon!
Continue Reading

JOIN OUR YOUTUBE CHANNEL

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

Amount to donate in USD$:

5 100

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

Advertisement

Quick Donate

The Duran
EURO
DONATE
Donate a quick 10 spot!
Advertisement
Advertisement

Advertisement

The Duran Newsletter

Trending