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US media claims American troops will stay in Syria to aid Kurdish insurgents

The US is on the verge of revealing what everyone in the region and wider world already knew. The question now is how shall the Astana Group act to contain unilateral US imperialism in Syria?

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It has long been assumed, though never overtly confirmed by the United States, that US troops plan to remain illegally on Syrian territory for an indefinite period of time, in order to use Kurdish proxies as a means to destroy the territorial and political unity of the Syrian Arab Republic.

Yesterday’s meeting of the Presidents of the Astana group, likewise confirmed that Russia, Iran and Turkey are now all in favour of preserving Syria as a unitary state with no internal divisions or otherwise Balkanised statelets.

This unity is now threatened by Washington’s failure to withdraw troops from Syria, something that was widely expected and feared. This reality has seemingly been confirmed by an ominous piece in the Washington Post.

Key elements of the piece read as follows,

“The Trump administration is expanding its goals in Syria beyond routing the Islamic State to include a political settlement of the country’s civil war, a daunting and potentially open-ended commitment that could draw the United States into conflict with both Syria and Iran.

With forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad and his Russian and Iranian allies now bearing down on the last militant-controlled towns, the defeat of the Islamic State in Syria could be imminent — along with an end to the U.S. justification for being there.

U.S. officials say they are hoping to use the ongoing presence of American troops in northern Syria, in support of the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), to pressure Assad to make concessions at United Nations-brokered peace talks in Geneva. The negotiations there are set to resume at the end of this month after sputtering along for more than three years without result”.

The piece from the Washington Post further states,

“An abrupt US withdrawal could complete Assad’s sweep of Syrian territory and help guarantee his political survival – an outcome that would constitute a win for Iran, his close ally. To avoid that outcome, US officials say they plan to maintain a US troop presence in northern Syria… and establish new local governance, apart from the Assad government, in those areas”.

If the findings in the piece are accurate, it means that the US intends to essentially maintain a totally illegal colonial presence in Syria for “years” using Kurdish ethno-nationalists as the fig-leaf for plans which essentially seek to deprive Syria of its sovereignty and territorial unity and which will hinder economic re-development plans, including those from China which seeks to peacefully integrate Syria into One Belt–One Road.

Implicit in this plan is a US government that is willing to throw away what very little remains of its traditional partnership with Turkey. Turkey is not only dead set against a Kurdish statelet on its borders, but is opposed to Kurdish participation in the Syrian National Dialogue Congress which will take place in Sochi and attempt to hammer out a lasting settlement between Syria and members of the so-called “opposition”.

As of yesterday, while Russia is moving towards a position of sympathy to Turkey’s views on the Kurds, there are still issues to be ironed out as I described in the following way:

“As for Turkey, Ankara still maintains sympathy for some of the sectarian Sunni so-called “opposition” in Syria, however, while Russia is willing to allow Kurdish militant groups to participate in dialogue with the Syrian government, Turkey is dead set against this.

For Turkey, the primary terrorist threat to the region are the pro-PKK Kurdish fighters currently operating in northern Syria. When Erdogan spoke of terrorism threatening OUR countries, he was clearly referring to Kurdish insurgents.

In this sense, there may be room for proverbial horse trading between Damascus, Ankara and Moscow. In return for Turkey dampening its support for crypto-Takfiri groups, Russia could, on behalf of Syria, move to a position that is more sympathetic to treating Syria’s Kurdish issue as a post, post-conflict problem, thus not allowing Kurdish agitations to become a point of contention at future dialogue sessions. In this sense, Russia could help Syria and Turkey to slowly normalise relations by de-emphasising any latent sympathies to the Kurds that still lingers in some Russian circles. This would be beneficial for Russia’s long term relationship with both Turkey and Syria, something that is frankly worth ‘losing’ clout among Kurds who have shown an almost blind wilful submission to their western and Zionist clients.

This of course will require supreme tact by all sides, but as Moscow is in a position to speak with both Ankara and Damascus, Moscow withdrawing any remaining sympathies with the Kurds, could be vital in helping Turkey to ease into a position wherein it acts as a restraining rather than an encouraging force in respect of the so-called “opposition” among which, Turkey continues to command respect.

In respect of Iran, one sees a power that has zero sympathies with any crypto-Takfiri “opposition” figures, but also one which is increasingly willing to cooperate with Turkey over Kurdish insurgents who threaten the peace and security of Iran and Turkey. Iran recently cooperated with Turkey in building a border wall designed to prevent Kurdish terrorists in Iran from supplying their compatriots in Turkey and vice versa.  Iran and Turkey also jointly cooperated with Iraq in subduing ethno-naturalist Kurds in northern Iraq, in a mission that was both swift and successful.

In this sense, Iran can help to assure Syria that Turkey’s position in favour of crypto-Takfiris can and will be restrained, while Iran can also assure Turkey that Tehran will effectively communicate a message of genuine worry over Kurdish terrorism to Moscow”.

Presidents of Russia, Iran and Turkey meet to discuss peace for Syria: FULL REPORT AND ANALYSIS

Now that it is all but confirmed that the US seeks to undermine Syria’s sovereignty and the joint peace process of Russia, Iran and Turkey, which Syria supports, the Astana Group, along with Syria must become more united than ever against a common threat–that of the United States and its Kurdish proxies. Here are some ways this can be accomplished.

1. Russia green lights Turkey’s anti-Kurdish manoeuvres in Syria 

It has long been the case that Turkey’s primary motive for maintaining a strong troop presence in Idlib and parts of Aleppo Governorate, is for the purpose of restraining, containing and taking territory from Kurdish insurgents who have unilaterally occupied parts of Syria and set up shadow regimes.

While Russia had previously sought to include Kurds in a final settlement, because at this point, Kurdish militants and US imperialists are now largely interchangeable terms, Russia has all the more incentive to allow Turkey to do the ‘dirty work’ it has taken upon itself to do and neutralise the Kurdish threat to Syria.

If Turkey is able to neutralise Kurdish insurgents, the US would lose its fig-leaf for the continued illegal occupation of Syria. Because Iraq, with international support from both Iran and Turkey, crushed a would-be insurgency from Kurdish ethno-nationalists with comparative ease and in short order, there is an existing precedent for Kurdish insurgencies to fizzle-out when met with a strong united front on the battlefield.

Kurds in Syria, if left to their own devices would likely be rapidly destroyed by Turkish forces, especially if given a green light from Turkey’s other two Astana partners, Russia and Iran. This could also help pave the way for the eventual normalisation of relations between Ankara and Damascus.

The biggest problem here remains: will the US fight Turkey for the sake of its Kurdish proxies?

If the US were to truly go all-in for the creation of a would-be Kurdish statelet, it could mean war between two states which are still NATO members. This would almost certainly lead to Turkey withdrawing from the alliance, as it would permanently change the balance of power in the region and beyond.

Turkey has previously stated that if during its battles against Kurdish militants in Syria, Turkish troops were to accidentally fire on American targets, that this would be collateral damage that Ankara is willing to live with. While received wisdom at the time was that these remarks were intended to deter US support for Syrian Kurds, clearly this has not worked. Furthermore, no one should underestimate how seriously Turkey takes the issue of pro-PKK Kurdish insurgents on its border.

If Turkey is willing to engage the US and their proxies in Syria in the medium term, Russia and Iran could barely do anything to stop it from a military point of view, even if they wanted to. The difference is that Russia and Iran do not underestimate Turkey, although the US apparently does. The war in Syria would therefore become a conflict between Turkey and the United States, unless the US refused to back Kurdish militants being attacked by Turkey.

2. Russia convinces Turkey it can disarm Syrian Kurds and bring about a peace process in spite of US ambitions 

With the US effectively stating its position vis-a-vis Kurdish militants, Russia could offer Turkey an alternative to fighting US proxies and possibly the US itself in Syria.

If Russia were to convince Turkey that by bringing Kurdish factions into the Syrian National Dialogue Congress and including them in the Astana peace process, that it could militarily neutralise Kurds and even draw them away from the US, this, if presented in a very careful manner, might convince Turkey that it is better to let Russia handle the Kurdish problem diplomatically than for Turkey and the US to sling it out on the field of battle.

If successful, drawing the Kurds into a peace process would also totally eliminate America’s already flimsy argument that the only reason Washington continues to illegally occupy Syria is to insure a peace process which covers the Kurdish question. As Syria had previously stated that it is willing to discuss internal grievances among Kurds in a de-militarised pots-war environment, if presented correctly to Syria, this could likewise placate Damascus while maintaining Russian prestige for the foreseeable future among both Syria and Turkey.

This could be a diplomatic way to take the remaining wind out of US sails while showing Turkey that it is Russia and not the US that has listened respectfully to Turkey’s legitimate concerns.

3. The Astana Group gives the US an ultimatum to quit Syria 

While the word “ultimatum” sounds threatening, depending on the context in which it is presented, it needn’t be so.

Furthermore, this option is not mutually exclusive to the previous two scenarios. If the Astana Group effectively said that the US has no mandate in Syria and that one way or another, the issues regarding all self-identified factions in Syria, including the Kurds, will be dealt with by the Astana Group in line with UN Resolution 2254, it would deal another large blow to what very little remains of US prestige on a Syrian peace settlement.

While asking the US to leave Syria, something which Russia has effectively already done using firm yet diplomatic language, it would not guarantee a US exit. But if all of the elements of UN Resolution 2254 were satisfied in accordance with the wishes of all parties, the US would be clearly in Syria for no reason at all–even more so than it is at present and that is saying quite a lot.

This would have the effect of bringing wider public opinion against continued US occupation of Syria, including opinion among many Americans. This is after all what happened in the US war on Vietnam when both international and US public opinion turned fully against America’s presence in South East Asia.

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

Interestingly, both Russia and Turkey are using increasingly strong language to publicly call for a US withdrawal from Syria. Turkish Member of Parliament Metin Kulunk even recently stated that if the US remains in Syria, it will face a “new Vietnam”.

Turkish MP from Erdogan’s party praises Russian, Iranian and Turkish unity on Syria – calls US the major problem

Conclusion:

When it comes to the question of Turkey decided to run the risk of engaging the US militarily in Syria or else accepting a Russian political solution to neutralise the Kurdish threat, this will all be contingent on how much Russia can convince Turkey that Moscow is able to control the Kurdish problem. For the moment, Turkey is already going after Kurdish factions while the peace process continues simultaneously. The aggregate effect is to grind down Kurdish ambitions by effectively pinning them between a Turkish tank and the Astana Group’s collective diplomacy, all while Syrian Kurds will remember the defeat of their ethno-nationalist brethren in Iraq.

In either case, the US has isolated itself on the Syria issue, with all major powers calling for a US withdrawal. If the US  believes that its Kurdish proxies can withstand the long-term force of total opposition to US manoeuvres in Syria, then Turkish MP Metin Kulunk is absolutely correct: the US will eventually face a new Vietnam in Syria, because they continue to forget the lessons of 1975.

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BREXIT chaos, as May’s cabinet crumbles (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 18.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a quick look at the various scenarios now facing a crumbling May government, as the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is forcing cabinet members to resign in rapid succession. The weekend ahead is fraught with uncertainty for the UK and its position within, or outside, the European Union.

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If Theresa May’s ill-fated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement is eventually rejected this could trigger a vote of no confidence, snap elections or even a new referendum…

Here are six possible scenarios facing Theresa May and the UK (via The Guardian)

1 Parliament blocks Theresa May’s draft withdrawal agreement and political declarations

May faces an enormous task to win parliamentary approval, given that Labour, the SNP, the DUP and 51 Tories have said they will not vote for it.

If the remaining 27 EU member states sign off the draft agreement on 25 November, the government will have to win over MPs at a crucial vote in early December.

If May loses the vote, she has 21 days to put forward a new plan. If she wins, she is safe for now.

2 May withdraws the current draft agreement

The prime minister could decide that she will not get the draft agreement through parliament and could seek to renegotiate with the EU.

This would anger Tory backbenchers and Brussels and would be seen as a humiliation for her government. It might spark a leadership contest too.

3 Extend article 50

May could ask the European council to extend article 50, giving her more time to come up with a deal that could be passed by parliament – at present, the UK will leave on 29 March 2019.

Such a request would not necessarily be granted. Some EU governments are under pressure from populist parties to get the UK out of the EU as soon as possible.

4 Conservative MPs trigger a vote of no confidence in the prime minister

If Conservative MPs believe May is no longer fit for office, they could trigger a no-confidence vote.

Members of the European Research Group claim that Graham Brady, the chair of the powerful 1922 Committee, will receive the necessary 48 letters this week.

A vote could be held as soon as early next week. All Tory MPs would be asked to vote for or against their leader. If May wins, she cannot be challenged for at least 12 months. If she loses, there would be a leadership contest to decide who will become prime minister.

5 General election – three possible routes

If May fails to get support for the current deal, she could call a snap general election.

She would table a parliamentary vote for a general election that would have to be passed by two thirds of MPs. She would then set an election date, which could be by the end of January.

This is an unlikely option. May’s political credibility was severely damaged when she called a snap election in 2017, leading to the loss of the Conservative party’s majority.

Alternatively, a general election could be called if a simple majority of MPs vote that they have no confidence in the government. Seven Tory MPs, or all of the DUP MPs, would have to turn against the government for it to lose the vote, triggering a two-week cooling-off period. May would remain in office while MPs negotiate a new government.

Another route to a general election would be for the government to repeal or amend the Fixed-term Parliaments Act which creates a five-year period between general elections. A new act would have to be passed through both the Commons and the Lords – an unlikely scenario.

6 Second referendum

May could decide it is impossible to find a possible draft deal that will be approved by parliament and go for a people’s vote.

The meaningful vote could be amended to allow MPs to vote on whether the country holds a second referendum. It is unclear whether enough MPs would back a second referendum and May has ruled it out.

 

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Brexit Withdrawal Agreement may lead to Theresa May’s downfall (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 151.

Alex Christoforou

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The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement has been published and as many predicted, including Nigel Farage, the document is leading to the collapse of Theresa May’s government.

During an interview with iTV’s Piers Morgan, remain’s Alistair Campell and leave’s Nigel Farage, were calling May’s Brexit deal a complete disaster.

Via iTV

Alastair Campbell: “This doesn’t do remotely what was offered…what is the point”

“Parliament is at an impasse”

“We have to go back to the people” …”remain has to be on the ballot paper”

Nigel Farage:

“This is the worst deal in history. We are giving away in excess of 40B pounds in return for precisely nothing. Trapped still inside the European Union’s rulebook.

“Nothing has been achieved.”

“In any negotiation in life…the other side need to know that you are serious about walking away.”

“What monsieur Barnier knew from day one, is that at no point did Theresa May intend to walk away.”

“Fundamental matter of trust to the electors of our country and those who govern us.”

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Theresa May’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and why the deal is a full on victory for the European Union and a document of subjugation for the United Kingdom.

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Coming in at 585 pages, the draft agreement will be closely scrutinized over the coming days but here are some of the highlights as outlined by Zerohedge

  • UK and EU to use the best endeavours to supersede Ireland protocol by 2020
  • UK can request extension of the transition period any time before July 1st, 2020
  • EU, UK See Level-Playing Field Measures in Future Relationship
  • Transition period may be extended once up to date yet to be specified in the text
  • EU and UK shall establish single customs territory and Northern Ireland is in same customs territory as Great Britain

The future relationship document is less than seven pages long. It says the U.K. and EU are seeking a free-trade area with cooperation on customs and rules: “Comprehensive arrangements creating a free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation, underpinned by provisions ensuring a level playing field for open and fair competition.”

The wording might raise concerns among Brexiters who don’t want regulatory cooperation and the measures on fair competition could amount to shackling the U.K. to EU rules.

As Bloomberg’s Emma Ross-Thomas writes, “There’s a clear sense in the documents that we’re heading for a customs union in all but name. Firstly via the Irish backstop, and then via the future relationship.”

Separately, a government summary of the draft agreement suggests role for parliament in deciding whether to extend the transition or to move in to the backstop.

But perhaps most importantly, regarding the controversial issue of the Irish border, the future relationship document says both sides aim to replace the so-called backstop – the thorniest issue in the negotiations – with a “subsequent agreement that establishes alternative arrangements for ensuring the absence of a hard border on the island of Ireland on a permanent footing.”

On this topic, recall that the U.K.’s fear was of being locked into the backstop arrangement indefinitely in the absence of a broader trade deal. The draft agreement includes a review process to try to give reassurance that the backstop would never be needed. Basically, the U.K. could choose to seek an extension to the transition period – where rules stay the same as they are currently – or opt to trigger the backstop conditions. In fact, as Bloomberg notes, the word “backstop,” which has been a sticking point over the Irish border for weeks, is mentioned only once in the text.

As Bloomberg further adds, the withdrawal agreement makes clear that the U.K. will remain in a single customs area with the EU until there’s a solution reached on the Irish border. It’s what Brexiteers hate, because it makes it more difficult for the U.K. to sign its own free-trade deals, which they regard as a key prize of Brexit.

Predictably, EU Commission President Juncker said decisive progress has been made in negotiations.

Meanwhile, as analysts comb over the documents, Jacob Rees-Mogg, chairman of the European Research Group, has already written to Conservative lawmakers urging them to vote against the deal. He says:

  • May is handing over money for “little or nothing in return”
  • The agreement treats Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the U.K.
  • It will “lock” the U.K. into a customs union with the EU
  • It breaks the Tory election manifesto of 2017

The full document…

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4 resignations and counting: May’s government ‘falling apart before our eyes’ over Brexit deal

The beginning of the end for Theresa May’s government.

The Duran

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Via RT


Four high profile resignations have followed on the heels of Theresa May’s announcement that her cabinet has settled on a Brexit deal, with Labour claiming that the Conservative government is at risk of completely dissolving.

Shailesh Vara, the Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office was the first top official to resign after the prime minister announced that her cabinet had reached a draft EU withdrawal agreement.

An hour after his announcement, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab – the man charged with negotiating and finalizing the deal – said he was stepping down, stating that the Brexit deal in its current form suffers from deep flaws. Esther McVey, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, submitted her letter of resignation shortly afterwards. More resignations have followed.

Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office minister, Jon Trickett, predicted that this is the beginning of the end for May’s government.

The government is falling apart before our eyes as for a second time the Brexit secretary has refused to back the prime minister’s Brexit plan. This so-called deal has unraveled before our eyes

Shailesh Vara: UK to be stuck in ‘a half-way house with no time limit’

Kicking off Thursday’s string of resignations, Vara didn’t mince words when describing his reservations about the cabinet-stamped Brexit deal.

Theresa May’s EU withdrawal agreement leaves the UK in a “halfway house with no time limit on when we will finally become a sovereign nation,” his letter of resignation states. Vara went on to warn that the draft agreement leaves a number of critical issues undecided, predicting that it “will take years to conclude” a trade deal with the bloc.

“We will be locked in a customs arrangement indefinitely, bound by rules determined by the EU over which we have no say,” he added.

Dominic Raab: Deal can’t be ‘reconciled’ with promises made to public

Announcing his resignation on Thursday morning, Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted: “I cannot in good conscience support the terms proposed for our deal with the EU.”

Raab claimed that the deal in its current form gives the EU veto power over the UK’s ability to annul the deal.

No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime.

Former Conservative Party leader Iain Duncan Smith said that Raab’s resignation as Brexit secretary is “devastating” for May.

“It sounds like he has been ignored,” he told the BBC.

Raab’s departure will undoubtedly encourage other Brexit supporters to question the deal, political commentators have observed.

Esther McVey: Deal ‘does not honor’ Brexit referendum

Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey didn’t hold back when issuing her own letter of resignation. According to McVey, the deal “does not honour” the result of the Brexit referendum, in which a majority of Brits voted to leave the European Union.

Suella Braverman: ‘Unable to sincerely support’ deal

Suella Braverman, a junior minister in Britain’s Brexit ministry, issued her resignation on Thursday, saying that she couldn’t stomach the deal.

“I now find myself unable to sincerely support the deal agreed yesterday by cabinet,” she said in a letter posted on Twitter.

Suella Braverman, MP Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Department for Exiting the EU © Global Look Press / Joel Goodman
Braverman said that the deal is not what the British people voted for, and threatened to tear the country apart.

“It prevents an unequivocal exit from a customs union with the EU,” she said.

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