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US General says we plan on “governing Raqqa” after takeover. Set up safe zones to train Al Qaeda

Mixed messages as to what happens after Raqqa is liberated is coming out of Washington.

Alex Christoforou

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What are the real motivations behind America’s push to take over Raqqa. For public consumption, the Raqqa, Syria offensive will be branded as an operation to rid the area of ISIS.

Behind the curtain, Raqqa may potentially be used as part of a larger safe zone area where America, Turkey and Saudi allies continue to train “moderate rebels” also known as Al Qaeda / Al Nusra jihadist terrorists.

The end goal…to keep the war in Syria alive, and keep the diminishing hopes of overthrowing Assad in play, irregardless of the inevitable fact that the legitimate government in Damascus will soon control the major urban western hubs of the fractured nation.

It’s a sinister plan that is certain to lead to more problems than solutions…but so is American foreign policy when it comes to Syria, Iraq and the wider Middle East.

It’s also a plan that the US State Department appears to not be onboard with.

US State Department spokesman Mark Toner said in a daily press briefing…

“How the liberation takes place, how we get local governance re-established after the liberation: our expectation, as has been elsewhere, is that outside forces would then withdraw.”

“We don’t want to see semi-autonomous zones. The reality is, though, as territory is liberated from [Islamic State], you’ve got to get some kind of governance back into these areas, but by no means are we condoning… any kind of semi-autonomous areas in northern Syria.”

“Ultimately, we want to see a sovereign, intact Syria.”

Here is a suggestion for Mark Toner and the US State Department, how about letting the internationally recognized government of Syria govern a city located in the sovereign state of Syria.

US General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff met with his Turkish counterpart General Hulusi Akar in Ankara on Sunday, and sang a much different tune than Toner…

Dunford said that taking and holding Raqqa requires a “predominantly Arab and Sunni Arab force.”

“The coalition and Turkey will work together on the long-term plan for seizing, holding and governing Raqqa.”

“And there are forces like that. There is the moderate Syrian opposition, the vetted Syrian forces and the Free Syrian Army forces, and there is some initial outreach to forces in Raqqa proper.”

There are no “moderate forces” in Syria…this lie has been well established. There are Al Qaeda forces in Raqqa, who can continue the war in Syria with the right American, Turkish and Saudi Arabian supervision.

General Dunford made the claim that he does not see any group as capable of governing Raqqa after it is liberated…

“We always knew the SDF wasn’t the solution for holding and governing Raqqa. What we are working on right now is to find the right mix of forces for the operation.”

And the right mix will not involve the Syrian government, but Turkey…

“They [Turkey] will be helpful in identifying the right forces to do that [govern Raqqa].”

RT reports on the divergence of perspective with regards to the operation taking place in Raqqa…

US officials are split over the future of Raqqa, Syria, with some claiming all international forces will leave the city once it is freed from terrorists, and others announcing plans to stay to ‘govern’ it along with Turkey.

As Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters, backed by US advisers and coalition airstrikes, slowly advance on the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) stronghold of Raqqa, US officials have been voicing their opinions on what will happen to Raqqa once it is liberated. The US State Department says that after the terrorists are defeated, all foreign forces will leave the city to let the Syrians run it.

The US military’s position, however, differs slightly from that of the State Department.

 

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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