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Turkish proxies and US Kurdish proxies are engaged in heavy combat in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate

This is a further symptom of Russia’s pivot away from the Kurds and a pragmatic move closer to Turkey.

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As of 17.30 Damascus time, intense fighting continues between Turkish proxy militants and the Kurdish led US proxy militia group SDF in Syria’s Aleppo Governorate.

Although Turkish backed militants had previously exchanged fire with the SDF, the ensuring battle in the town of Ain Daknah appears to be the most intense instance of fighting to-date, between Turkish and US proxies.

Al-Masdar reports that heavy artillery fire is being exchanged between the SDF and Turkomen dominated groups flying under the SDF flag in addition to the pro-Turkish Sunni militant group Ahrar Al-Sham.

This development does not come as surprise, as Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remarked that among the top priorities for Turkey in Syria is fighting Kurdish militants who in many cases have openly expressed solidarity with the Turkey based Kurdish terrorist group PKK.

Turkey prepares military operation against Syrian Kurds as Iraqi Kurds surrender

Erdgoan has been unambiguous in his refusal to allow Syrian Kurds the ability to gain any territorial or geo-political upper hand in Syria and other members of his government have been even more abrasive in stating their lack of reservations in respect of directly confronting a proxy militia of the United States, a fellow NATO member.

Turkey’s own position as a US “ally” and NATO member has become increasingly tenuous over the Kurdish issue, over which Ankara and Washington find themselves on opposite sides of what for Turkey is a supremely important issue of national security, something that both Erdogan’s AKP and the secular Kemalist opposition CHP agree upon. While Erdogan does and likely will still occasionally offer domestically aimed anti-Ba’athist rhetoric in respect of Syria, at this point this is just fodder for Erdogan’s core supporters who continue to represent a Muslim Brotherhood style ideology with Turkish characteristics.

As for Turkey’s actual role in Syria, it is now to restrain or even make gains against Kurdish militias. While this has caused extreme friction between Ankara and Washington, with Ankara accusing Washington of being behind Gulenist plots against Turkish sovereignty, the real decisive factor in Turkey’s war against Syria Kurds will be Russia.

Turkey is next in line to be a Pakistan style “frenemy” of the US

Turkey’s relationship with Russia continues to grow strong and crucially, Russia itself seems to be pivoting away from its historic sympathies with Middle Eastern Kurds and towards a cautious and pragmatic embrace of the reality that all of the major regional players, except for Israel, are now dead set against any Kurdish ethno-nationalist agitations. This is one of the few things that both Syria and Turkey agree upon, even though Ankara and Damascus still do not have diplomatic relations, stemming from Turkey’s erstwhile support for Takfiri lead illegal regime change in Damascus.

On Monday of this week, Presidents Erdogan and Putin met in Sochi, a symbolic Russian city on the north cost of the Black Sea which is just a warm water boat-ride away from Turkey.

In the aftermath of the meeting, I described Russia’s pivot away from latent Kurdish sympathies in the following way,

“During the most recent Astana meeting, Turkey openly objective to the participation of Kurdish groups in the so-called “pan-Syrian dialogue” which Russia has called for.

These objections are one of the unique areas where Iran, Turkey and Syria have a clear point of view while Russia’s view is far more nuanced. Iran, Turkey and Syria are now on the same page in so far as they consider armed Kurdish led, US proxy militias in Syria to be a terrorist threat and a long-term security issue.

Russia by contrast, has previously welcomed the participation of “moderate” Kurdish factions in a political process to end the Syrian conflict and had previously been somewhat sympathetic to Kurdish demands for federal autonomy in post-conflict Syria.

The rationale for this much over-hyped and gradually closing schism is obvious enough. Syria, Iran and Turkey all have militant Kurdish terrorist groups operating on their own soil and the clear fear is that if one group gets an upper-hand over their respective central government, this could set a dangerous precedent in the region. This is why Turkey and Iran cooperated with Iraq on subduing ethno-nationalist Kurds in northern Iraq in the autumn of 2017.

Russia has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, but at the same time, due to historic links with Kurdish groups, Russia was willing to facilitate the meeting of some Kurdish demands, if possible. This is because, Russia would prefer Kurdish groups to see Russia as a guarantor of peace, rather than the United Stats which Iraqi Kurds have openly said let them down. It is also because in the past, Russia had explored the possibility of a Kurdish buffer-zone between traditional Arab allies and Turkey in order to add one more layer of protection against a once hostile NATO member in the region.

Today, both of these Russian rationales have largely been changed due to new realities on the ground. Russia’s long-time ally Syria has recently stated that it views armed Kurdish groups occupying Syrian territory as no different than Takfiri groups doing the same, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda. In naming Kurdish militants as terrorists, Syria has affirmed that it is not planning on taking a soft-line against Kurdish ethno-nationalists after the conflict against Takfiri groups is inevitably won. With Iraq, Iran and Turkey all taking the same line, Russia is not about to fight for a non-state group against four states whose friendship with Russia is key to Moscow’s ability to have good relations in the region and balance out would-be power struggles in the Middle East.

Secondly, with Turkey’s relationship with Russia and its relationship with Iran improving at a fast pace and with Ankara’s relations with Washington downgrading at an equally frantic pace, the idea of a ‘buffer zone’ is becoming largely outdated. Any would-be Kurdish statelete would be US/Israeli puppet state that would only strain the regional balance of power that Russia is so keen to stabilise.

Turkey and Iran will both be happy by Russia abandoning its moderate version of Project Kurd. In return, Russia will no be well placed to insure that after remaining issues are settled, Turkey does not end up permanently occupying Syria’s Idlib, thus alleviating a grave concern of Damascus.

A longer term issue will be balancing out Iran’s legal partnership with Syria against Israel’s illegal but seemingly unstoppable threat to continue to occupy and strike Syrian targets under the pretext of Iran’s presence (however limited) in Syria.

In this sense, Russia’s deal-making with Turkey, could prove to be a useful precedent in working out a solution that keeps Syria safe once the conflict formally ends, while also insuring that Russia maintains good will with Iran, while acting to quietly restrain Israeli aggression. The progress Russia has made in terms of turning Turkey from an outspoken enemy of Syria into a country that cooperates with both Russia and Iran (as Syrian allies) is a significant achievement. Convincing Israel to cease its hostility against Syria while allowing Syria and Iran to pursue their alliance will be the next great task of Russia, as Russia is the only power capable of speaking on friendly terms with all parties in the Middle East, including the occupier entity.

It is clear that while Turkey and Russia still have a fair share of disagreements on regional security, that Turkey and Russia are now the key leaders on ‘both sides’ of the international community who will help to bring the conflict to the close in Syria”.

Turkey replaces the US as Russia’s key Middle Eastern partner from the “other side”

This is not to say that Russia gave Erdogan a “green light” for further attacks on the Kurdish dominated SDF such as the one currently taking place, however it does indicate that Russia will not step in, even in a quiet capacity to restrain such attacks as it may have done previously. To be sure, Russia will continue to seek a balance of powers in the region, but Russia’s patience with the Kurds appears to have run out.

Instead, Russia is moving into a position whereby, Moscow will use the Kurds as leverage against protecting Syrian territory from future Turkish incursions. Turkey has been quietly setting up shop in Syria’s Idlib Governorate  in what can only be described as a prelude to an attempt at long term occupation. This has included the appearance of state-run Turkish post offices on Syrian territory. This is something Syria finds totally unacceptable and it is something that increasingly frustrates both Russia and Iran.

The United States, which previously endorsed Turkey’s military adventurism in Syria, now realises that the presence of Turkish Army troops and paid up Turkish proxies in Idlib and elsewhere in Syria, is going to be one of the biggest long-term stumbling blocs to setting up a Kurdish zone of occupation in northern Syria, one which Kurds have said they hope will stretch from eastern Syria to the Mediterranean.

Against this background, Russia is in a position to both effectively guarantee a hands-off ‘wink and a nod’ approach to Turkey going after the SDF in Syria, while using this as future leverage to force a Turkish withdrawal from Idlib and nearby areas of occupation in Syria.

Turkey cannot afford to alienate Russia and the US at the same time and as Turkey and Russia’s relationship is steadily becoming one of strategic and economic importance, while Ankara’s relationship with the US is becoming one that is increasingly seen by Turkey as an infuriating dead-end, the choice for Turkey is becoming obvious.

Turkey has already expressed solidarity with Russia’s calls for the US to leave Syria. This became most clearly expressed when the Turkish Prime Minister slammed the US for helping ISIS terrorist to safely evacuate from Raqqa. The statement was crucially made only hours after Sergey Lavrov blasted the US along roundly similar lines.

Russian FM Lavrov slams “most dangerous” illegal US presence in Syria – seeks US withdrawal

Turkey therefore is demonstrating that its statements on Syria are increasingly in-line with those of Russia, this is especially true in respect of statements intended for an international audience, as opposed to Erdogan’s domestic rhetoric which ought to always been listened to in its appropriate context. Russian political leaders tend to speak in generally similar styles whether their remarks are intended for domestic or international consumption. The opposite is true of many Turkish leaders, including Erdogan.

Ultimately, Russia is allowing Turkey to do Syria’s ‘dirty work’ while preserving the public status quo of Turkey and Syria being at odds, something which serves the domestic purposes of both the leaders of Turkey and Syria. At the same time, in failing to restrain Turkey, Russia is showing that it has dropped its opposition to Turkey’s hard-line against Syrian Kurds, which itself is an admission of Syrian Kurds being disproportionately loyal to the United States whose goals in Syria are becoming increasingly and ever more stridently opposed by Russia.

Russia does not want Turkey to expand its influence in Syria but nor does Russia want a permanent or semi-permanent occupation of Syria by a US military using Kurdish ethno-nationalists as a fig leaf for their ambitions.

Syria, Turkey and the Kurds: A Devil’s Triangle that only Russia can navigate

In this sense, just as Turkey under Erdgoan has chosen Russia over the US as an important superpower with whom to form a strategic partnership, so too has Russia chosen to deal with Turkey’s concerns regarding Syria as a priority over those of the US with whom Russia cannot see eye to eye. By contrast, Russia can make important “win-win” or near “win-win” compromises with Turkey. This appears to be the immediate result of the most recent Putin-Erdogan meeting.

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“Foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails (Video)

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx): Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails was hacked by foreign actor, and it was not Russia.

Alex Christoforou

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A stunning revelation that hardly anyone in the mainstream media is covering.

Fox News gave Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) the opportunity to explain what was going on during his questioning of Peter Strzok, when the the Texas Congressman stated that a “foreign entity, NOT RUSSIA” hacked Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Aside from this segment on Fox News, this story is not getting any coverage, and we know why. It destroys the entire ‘Russia hacked Hillary’ narrative.

Gohmert states that this evidence is irrefutable and shows that a foreign actor, not connected to Russia in any way, intercepted and distributed Hillary Clinton’s cache of 30,000 emails.

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Via Zerohedge

As we sift through the ashes of Thursday’s dumpster-fire Congressional hearing with still employed FBI agent Peter Strzok, Luke Rosiak of the Daily Caller plucked out a key exchange between Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Tx) and Strzok which revealed a yet-unknown bombshell about the Clinton email case.

Nearly all of Hillary Clinton’s emails on her homebrew server went to a foreign entity that isn’t Russia. When this was discovered by the Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG), IG Chuck McCullough sent his investigator Frank Ruckner and an attorney to notify Strzok along with three other people about the “anomaly.”

Four separate attempts were also made to notify DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz to brief him on the massive security breach, however Horowitz “never returned the call.” Recall that Horowitz concluded last month that despite Strzok’s extreme bias towards Hillary Clinton and against Donald Trump – none of it translated to Strzok’s work at the FBI.

In other words; Strzok, while investigating Clinton’s email server, completely ignored the fact that most of Clinton’s emails were sent to a foreign entity – while IG Horowitz simply didn’t want to know about it.

Daily Caller reports…

The Intelligence Community Inspector General (ICIG) found an “anomaly on Hillary Clinton’s emails going through their private server, and when they had done the forensic analysis, they found that her emails, every single one except four, over 30,000, were going to an address that was not on the distribution list,” Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas said during a hearing with FBI official Peter Strzok.

Gohmert continued..

“It was going to an unauthorized source that was a foreign entity unrelated to Russia.”

Strzok admitted to meeting with Ruckner but said he couldn’t remember the “specific” content of their discussion.

“The forensic examination was done by the ICIG and they can document that,” Gohmert said, “but you were given that information and you did nothing with it.”

According to Zerohedge “Mr. Horowitz got a call four times from someone wanting to brief him about this, and he never returned the call,” Gohmert said – and Horowitz wouldn’t return the call.

And while Peter Strzok couldn’t remember the specifics of his meeting with the IG about the giant “foreign entity” bombshell, he texted this to his mistress Lisa Page when the IG discovered the “(C)” classification on several of Clinton’s emails – something the FBI overlooked:

“Holy cow … if the FBI missed this, what else was missed? … Remind me to tell you to flag for Andy [redacted] emails we (actually ICIG) found that have portion marks (C) on a couple of paras. DoJ was Very Concerned about this.”

Via Zerohedge

In November of 2017, IG McCullough – an Obama appointee – revealed to Fox News that he received pushback when he tried to tell former DNI James Clapper about the foreign entity which had Clinton’s emails and other anomalies.

Instead of being embraced for trying to expose an illegal act, seven senators including Dianne Feinstein (D-Ca) wrote a letter accusing him of politicizing the issue.

“It’s absolutely irrelevant whether something is marked classified, it is the character of the information,” he said. Fox News reports…

McCullough said that from that point forward, he received only criticism and an “adversarial posture” from Congress when he tried to rectify the situation.

“I expected to be embraced and protected,” he said, adding that a Hill staffer “chided” him for failing to consider the “political consequences” of the information he was blowing the whistle on.

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Donald Trump plays good cop and bad cop with a weak Theresa May (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 55.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK was momentous, not for its substance, but rather for its sheer entertainment value.

Trump started his trip to the United Kingdom blasting Theresa May for her inability to negotiate a proper Brexit deal with the EU.  Trump ended his visit holding hands with the UK Prime Minister during a press conference where the most ‘special relationship’ between the two allies was once again reaffirmed.

Protests saw giant Trump “baby balloons” fly over London’s city center, as Trump played was his own good cop and bad cop to the UK PM, outside London at the Chequers…often times leaving May’s head spinning.

Even as Trump has left London, he remains front and center in the mind of Theresa May, who has now stated that Trump advised her to “sue” the European Union to resolve the tense negotiations over Brexit.

Trump had mentioned to reporters on Friday at a joint press conference with Theresa May that he had given the British leader a suggestion that she found too “brutal.”

Asked Sunday on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show what that suggestion was, May: “He told me I should sue the EU. Not go into negotiation, sue them.” May added…

“What the president also said at that press conference was `Don’t walk away. Don’t walk away from the negotiations. Then you’re stuck.”‘

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris summarize what was a state visit like no other, as Trump trolled the UK PM from beginning to end, and left London knowing that he got the better of a weakened British Prime Minister, who may not survive in office past next week.

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Via CNBC

It wasn’t exactly clear what Trump meant. The revelation came after explosive and undiplomatic remarks Trump made this week about May’s leadership — especially her handling of the Brexit negotiations — as he made his first official visit to Britain.

In an interview with The Sun newspaper published Thursday — just as May was hosting Trump at a lavish black-tie dinner — Trump said the British leader’s approach likely “killed” chances of a free-trade deal with the United States. He said he had told May how to conduct Brexit negotiations, “but she didn’t listen to me.”

He also praised May’s rival, Boris Johnson, who quit last week as foreign secretary to protest May’s Brexit plans. Trump claimed Johnson would make a “great prime minister.”

The comments shocked many in Britain — even May’s opponents — and threatened to undermine May’s already fragile hold on power. Her Conservative government is deeply split between supporters of a clean break with the EU and those who want to keep close ties with the bloc, Britain’s biggest trading partner.

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Deep State poster boy Peter Strzok gives bizarre testimony that goes viral (Video)

The face of the Deep State.

Alex Christoforou

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If you were not convinced that the Deep State exists, then look no further than Peter Strzok’s bizarre, yet revealing, congressional testimony, showcasing the arrogance and smugness of a powerful FBI agent who worked diligently to push a fake Trump-Russia narrative onto the American public.

Via Zerohedge

While Peter Strzok’s marathon Congressional testimony was full of bickering, chaos and drama – mostly between members of the House Judiciary and Oversight committees – a clip of the disgraced FBI agent’s seemingly giddy reaction after answering a question is creeping people out.

Some have suggested that Strzok’s reaction was “Duper’s delight” – a hidden smirk that slips out at an inappropriate moment when a liar celebrates a successful manipulation.

Watching Peter Strzok, its hard, if not impossible to believe that this man is not a psychopath, who hated Trump so much that he was willing to forward a collusion story that has cost American taxpayers millions, and torn American society apart.

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The video clip even had Donald Trump Jr retweeting it, as he labeled Strzok “the creepiest person in America.”

Via RT

One particular moment from Peter Strzok’s raucous congressional hearing left Twitter users confounded and disturbed, even prompting Donald Trump Jr to label the FBI agent “the creepiest person in America.”

Strzok faced the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees on Thursday to answer questions about his conduct during the 2016 investigations into Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

The lengthy hearing quickly descended into a partisan shouting match, as Republicans and Democrats interrupted each other’s questions, heckling or applauding Strzok.

Strzok’s peculiar reaction to one question caught the eye of viewers and many took to Twitter to confirm that their eyes weren’t deceiving them.

Strzok’s facial expressions were also noticed by the congressmen in the room and prompted one of the most dramatic moments of the hearing when Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas) accused Strzok of outright lying.

“I can’t help but wonder when I see you looking there with a little smirk; how many times did you look so innocent into your wife’s eyes and lie to her about Lisa Page,” Gohmert told Strzok, referring to the agent’s extramarital affair with his former colleague Lisa Page, with whom he exchanged anti-Trump text messages. Gohmert’s comment sparked vociferous objections from Democrats.

The hearing evoked a significant reaction, with many describing it as a farce. Former New York mayor and current attorney to US President Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani, labelled it a “disgrace” and said it “taints the entire Mueller witch hunt.”

“President Trump is being investigated by people who possess pathological hatred for him. All the results of the investigation are ‘fruit of the poison tree’ and should be dismissed,” he added.

Democrats seemed to agree with that sentiment, as California Congressman Ted Lieu said it was “a stupid and ridiculous hearing.”

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