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CONFIRMED: Vladimir Putin denies Russian military’s request to bomb Aleppo

Dissension within the Russian government exposed as Russian President Putin resists public pressure from the Russian military to allow bombing of Aleppo.

Alexander Mercouris

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News media reports are circulating that Russian President Vladimir Putin has for the moment refused the Russian military’s request to resume bombing in Aleppo.

These reports are based upon reported comments made by Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov in answer to journalists’ questions. 

Peskov’s comments are not completely clear and leave considerable scope for ambiguity.  For that reason I will first republish his comments as the official Russian news agency TASS is reporting them:

“Considering that terrorists have announced the planned intensification of combat actions and also that they have really switched partially to active offensive operations, the Russian president proceeds from the fact that in case of emergency the Russian side reserves the right to use all available forces and resources to counter the terrorist groupings’ provocative actions and provide due support to the armed forces of the Syrian Arab Republic.  The Russian president believes that it would be inexpedient at the moment to resume airstrikes against Aleppo. The president believes that it would be possible to extend the ongoing humanitarian pause for the withdrawal of wounded people and militants wishing to leave the city as well as most importantly to give our American partners a chance to implement earlier assumed obligations and made promises on separating the so-called moderate opposition from terrorist groups.”

TASS then reports Peskov saying that Russia reserves the right to help the Syrian military:

“……using all means and at a proper level considering recent statements made by militants on their intentions to step up military actions……decisions regarding further (Russia’s) actions will depend on the unfolding developments.”

In certain very surprising comments, Peskov then explained the different roles in decision making of the President and of the General Staff:

“The General Staff will certainly be in charge of operational command but as for the setting of strategic tasks and the adoption of strategic decisions, they will certainly be set and made by the (Supreme) Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces (ie. Putin the President)”

To which all one can say is: did anyone ever question this?

Peskov then went on to say:

“The top priority task, from the point of view of the president, is evacuation of the wounded and safe exit for the militants who wish to leave the city.”

Peskov then confirmed that though Russia is keeping the US military informed of its actions, it is not engaged in discussion with the US government on the subject of Aleppo at a political level, and that there are no ongoing plans for direct contacts to discuss Syria between Obama and Putin.  He then pointedly reminded journalists that the bombing pause only affects Aleppo.

“The humanitarian pause is in force only around Aleppo.”

This is – intentionally – a very complicated statement, a fact which points to a furious row within the Russian government.

Unpacking it, it seems that Putin has rather grudgingly given the General Staff a general permission to resume bombing in Aleppo if the Syrian military gets into trouble and needs urgent help, but has “asked” it not to do so for the moment (“it would be inexpedient at the moment to resume airstrikes against Aleppo”).  His “request” (which is of course an order) does not however prevent the Russian air force bombing Jihadi forces provided they are some distance from the city.

What is Putin up to and what explains this surprising decision?

The big event in Aleppo on 28th October 2016 was the Al-Qaeda led Jihadi counter-offensive intended to break the siege of the Jihadi controlled eastern districts of the city. 

The Russian military is reporting that it has failed to make much headway, and this seems to be confirmed by reports from the city.  If so Putin may be calculating that air support from the Russian air force for the moment simply isn’t needed, though he is trying to cover his position by giving the Russian military the option to intervene immediately if the situation changes.

Whilst that makes a kind of sense, it still begs many questions. 

Having resisted Western pressure to call off the bombing in Aleppo for several weeks, it is difficult to believe Putin has now buckled, especially as nothing has happened that would obviously cause him to change his approach, and especially as there is no indication that this latest move has been coordinated with or welcomed by the West.  Besides Putin’s comments at Valdai show that though he has been stung by Western criticism of the Russian bombing of Aleppo, his response is one of cold anger and defiance, not retreat.

Peskov’s comments suggest Putin may still be hoping that he can somehow negotiate (with the Turks?) the withdrawal of the Jihadis from eastern Aleppo – the objective of his diplomatic strategy since the early summer.   Possibly he hopes the eventual defeat of the Jihadi counter-offensive will suffice to persuade the Jihadis’ backers (Turkey, Saudi Arabia, the US etc) to pull them out.

If Putin really does think this, then he is probably the last person left on earth who does so.  However he would not be the first or the last statesman to cling to a diplomatic strategy in which a huge amount of time and effort has been invested beyond the point where it has ceased to be viable.

Regardless, this episode clearly shows one thing: the persistent Western claim that Putin is a dictator and an autocrat and that he is Russia’s hardliner is a myth. 

On the contrary it is clear that Putin is now coming under intense pressure from the Russian military to call off the bombing halt in Aleppo, and that the military feel sufficiently strongly about this to go public, to the point where they made public a “request” to Putin to allow them to resume bombing in a way that clearly showed that this is what they want to do.  

The fact that Putin is resisting the military’s public request is a clear sign that he did not prompt it, and that the request was not welcome to him, and was made to him by the military as a form of pressure. 

What that of course shows is that the military is becoming increasingly impatient with Putin’s Aleppo strategy, which they obviously interpret as foot-dragging, and that they are no longer bothering to conceal the fact.

This is not the first time the military has made known its displeasure with some of Putin’s diplomatic moves. The delay in the visit of General Gerasimov – the Russian Chief of General Staff – to Turkey in September was almost certainly intended to signal the Russian military’s unhappiness with the way Putin had allowed Erdogan to steal a march on them by launching Operation Euphrates Shield.

Though Putin obviously feels able for the moment to resist the military’s pressure, the extraordinary complexity of Peskov’s statement – with its strange insistence that Putin is in charge (“strategic tasks and the adoption of strategic decisions will certainly be set and made by the (Supreme) Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces”) – shows how strong the pressure on him is.  It is doubtful he can go on resisting it for much further.

What that means is that barring some completely unexpected development, Russian bombing in Aleppo will resume soon.

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Deep State insurrection defying POTUS Trump’s order to release unredacted FISA docs (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 113.

Alex Christoforou

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Deep State officials like ex-CIA chief John Brennan are in panic mode.

Deep State DOJ tool Rod Rosenstein refuses to comply with Trump’s executive order as afforded him by the US Constitution.

Establishment Democrats are all over the mainstream media channels calling the act of releasing documents criminal.

The US President wants every American citizen to see the full, unredacted version of the FISA documents used to spy on Carter Page. Trump is simply asking for full transparency, in what has become a two year, multi-million dollar witch hunt, to find collusion where there is none.

This is all you need to know about the hoax that was and is Trump-Russia collusion and the Robert Mueller special counsel investigation.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the insurrection taking place at the US Department of Justice, as Democrats, ex-Obama officials, and DOJ directors are doing everything in their power to make sure the truth, about how the FISA warrant to spy on Carter Page was obtained, remains hidden from the eyes of the American public.

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Via Zerohedge


Despite President Trump’s Monday order for the “immediate declassification” of sensitive materials related to the Russia investigation, “without redaction,” the agencies involved are planning to do so anyway, according to Bloomberg, citing three people familiar with the matter.

The Justice Department, FBI and Office of the Director of National Intelligence are going through a methodical review and can’t offer a timeline for finishing, said the people, who weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the sensitive matter. –Bloomberg

Trump ordered the DOJ to release the text messages of former FBI Director James Comey, his deputy Andrew McCabe, now-fired special agent Peter Strzok, former FBI attorney Lisa Page and twice-demoted DOJ official Bruce Ohr.

Also ordered released are specific pages from the FBI’s FISA surveillance warrant application on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page, as well as interviews with Ohr.

The DOJ and the FBI are expected to submit proposed redactions to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence – which will prepare a package for Trump to sign off on.

“When the president issues such an order, it triggers a declassification review process that is conducted by various agencies within the intelligence community, in conjunction with the White House counsel, to seek to ensure the safety of America’s national security interests,” a Justice Department spokesman said in a statement. “The department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are already working with the Director of National Intelligence to comply with the president’s order.”

The agencies are likely to cite national security concerns over revealing classified “sources and methods” pertaining to the Russia investigation – which will put them in direct conflict with Trump’s order. Trump, as president, has the power to override the agencies and declassify material on his own.

Trump’s order to release the documents comes after months of requests from GOP lawmakers, while the DOJ has repeatedly denied their requests for more transparency.

The FBI’s spy…

According to Bloomberg, the DOJ is interpreting Trump’s request to include information about the use of confidential informant (spy) Stephan Halper during the early stages of the Trump-Russia investigation. After taking in over $400,000 from the Obama Pentagon under the auspices of a research contract, Halper befriended and spied on members of the Trump campaign, including aides Carter Page and George Papadopoulos.

Showdown?

Top Congressional Democrats Nancy Pelosi, Chuck Schumer, Adam Schiff and Mark Warner penned a joint letter to ODNI Director Dan Coates, Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein and FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding that the agencies defy President Trump.

In the letter, the lawmakers “express profound alarm” at the decision to “intervene in an ongoing law enforcement investigation that may implicate the President himself or those around him.”

“Any decision by your offices to share this material with the President or his lawyers will violate longstanding Department of Justice polices, as well as assurances you have provided to us.”

The letter then demands that the agencies brief the Gang of Eight before releasing the materials “to anyone at the White House.”

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Trump Weighs In On The Single Worst Mistake In American History

Trump hits Bush: Invading Iraq ‘the single worst decision ever made’.

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Via Zerohedge


In a wide ranging interview with The Hill on Tuesday conducted in the Oval Office, President Trump was asked to give his take on the biggest mistake in American history.

Considering just how open-ended a question that is, it’s perhaps surprising that he merely went back less than a couple decades into the Bush presidency, though Trump’s base will certainly welcome it as it hearkens back to his “America First” foreign policy vision of the campaign trail.

“The worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country: going into the Middle East, by President Bush,” the president during his interview with Hill.TV.

“Obama may have gotten them (U.S. soldiers) out wrong, but going in is to me the biggest single mistake made in the history of our country,” he said.

Trump explained the reasoning behind this choice, and why it wasn’t something like the civil war or another defining and devastating event reaching far into American History.

“Because we spent $7 trillion in the Middle East. Now if you wanna fix a window some place they say, ‘oh gee, let’s not do it. Seven trillion, and millions of lives — you know, ‘cause I like to count both sides. Millions of lives,” the president explained.

Some scholars and humanitarian groups estimate that over one million Iraqis were killed in the US invasion and occupation of Iraq starting in 2003. A 2008 Opinion Research Business (ORB) poll, for example, found that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war.

“To me it’s the worst single mistake made in the history of our country. Civil war you can understand. Civil war, civil war. That’s different. For us to have gone into the Middle East, and that was just, that was a bad day for this country, I will tell you.”

Various estimates on the Iraq war’s cost have put the total taxpayer bill as low as near $2 trillion, but none dispute that it is in the multiple trillions, and estimates will vary widely depending on if veteran care is factored into it.

The comments echo things Trump said on the campaign trail in 2016. For example during one of his first major foreign policy speeches then candidate Trump said, “I will never send our finest into battle unless necessary, and I mean absolutely necessary, and will only do so if we have a plan for victory with a capital V.” And referencing the famous quote of John Quincy Adams, he said during the same speech, “The world must know that we do not go abroad in search of enemies.”

He had previously shocked pundits for being the first Republican nominee for president to trash George W. Bush’s decision to go to war in Iraq, and has more recently likened it to “throwing a big fat brick into a hornet’s nest”.

All of this is a hopeful sign considering the extremely heightened and dangerous tensions over Syria this week, and given Trump seems to have vacillated between “bringing the troops home” and getting more involved. On Monday Trump hinted that a decision on the U.S. role in Syria is coming soon.

Commenting on the over 2,000 troops now in Syria ostensibly as part of the “anti-ISIL” coalition campaign, Trump indicated this mission could end soon: “We’re very close to being finished with that job,” he said. He followed with: “And then we’re going to make a determination as to what we’re going to do.”

We consider it a hopeful and a good sign that Trump is possibly revisiting his “America First” foreign policy pledges by identifying the Iraq War as the worst mistake in US history.

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Brett Kavanaugh eleventh hour smear begins to fall apart (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 112.

Alex Christoforou

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US President Trump is urging the woman accusing Brett Kavanaugh to testify and be heard.

Trump said he wants to hear from Christine Blasey Ford, noting that it would be “unfortunate” if she does not testify before a Senate committee. Trump told reporters Wednesday as he left the White House to view hurricane damage in North Carolina…

“If she doesn’t show up, that would be unfortunate.”

“If she shows up and makes a credible showing, that would be very interesting.”

From Trump’s lips to God’s ear…Blasey Ford came out to issue a statement essentially saying that she will not testify to Congress, either in an open or closed door session.

Furthermore it appears that Ford will not even allow Senate investigators to fly to California and obtain her statement from the comfort of her own home (as Senator Grassley has offered to do).

Ford is demanding an FBI investigation into an allegation with no date, time or place attached to it. 

RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss the dangerous game of identity politics being played by the establishment, Democrat left, and their mainstream media minions.

The premise that a four decades old accusation is all that is needed to destroy a person’s entire life, threatens to tear down the most basic foundational values adhered to from within the US Constitution, and propel the United States of America towards a fascist state where censorship, citizen surveillance, and evidence free accusations are used to keep the establishment left in power and the American population cowered in fear.

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According to Zerohedge, Democrats’ Hail Mary play to stymie the confirmation of Trump SCOTUS pick Brett Kavanaugh is beginning to fizzle out. As angry Dems demanded that a Monday hearing on the allegations against Kavanaugh be delayed until the FBI has a chance to investigate, turncoat Republicans (on whom the Dems had been depending for votes) instead withdrew their support and fell in line after Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley declared that he would not honor Democrats’ request. Grassley revealed his intention to stand firm late Tuesday after lawyers for Palo Alto University professor Christine Blasey, who is claiming that Kavanaugh attempted to sexually assault her 35 years ago when the two were 17-year-old high school students, said their client wouldn’t be wiling to appear at Monday’s hearing.

According to the HillGrassley said Tuesday that there was “no reason” to delay the hearing now that Republicans have invited both Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, his accuser, to testify publicly. However, while Ford’s attorneys have insisted that their client has taken a polygraph test and “deserves to be heard”, Ford has bizarrely insisted that the FBI should have an opportunity to investigate her claims before she appears before the committee in order to spare her the “trauma” of confronting her alleged assailant.

Ford’s lawyers conveyed her request in the form of a letter sent to the committee, a copy of which was obtained by CNN.

Senator Grassley said he would refuse this request as several Republicans who had appeared to be on the cusp of defecting said they wouldn’t support further delays should Ford prove unwilling to testify.

Via the Hill…

“Republicans extended a hand in good faith. If we don’t hear from both sides on Monday, let’s vote,” said GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.), who was one of the first Republicans to call for the Judiciary Committee to hit pause on Kavanaugh’s nomination on Sunday.

GOP Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) told reporters earlier Tuesday that Ford’s lack of response to the committee about testifying was “puzzling.”

And GOP Sen. Jeff Flake, who had threatened to vote against Kavanaugh if Ford wasn’t given the chance to be heard, told CNN that he expected the committee to move on if she doesn’t appear.

“I think we’ll have to move to the markup,” he told CNN. “I hope she does (appear). I think she needs to be heard.”

Via Zerohedge…

Kavanaugh has denied Ford’s allegations and insisted he didn’t attend the party where the physical assault allegedly took place. Patrick Smyth, a fellow former Georgetown Prep student whom Ford alleges was also in attendance during the party issued a statement via his lawyer standing up for Kavanaugh. And in a separate letter to Grassley and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, not only does Smyth repudiate Ford’s allegations, but he adds that he doesn’t remember this party even taking place.

Of course, Feinstein – who admitted last night that she couldn’t say for certain that Ford’s story is entirely truthful – sat on Ford’s allegations for three months before referring them to the FBI and sharing them with other lawmakers (who purportedly “leaked” it to the press). President Trump on Tuesday said that he “feels sorry” for Kavanaugh, adding that he doesn’t want to “play into [Democrats] hands”, presumably by giving them more time to drag out the confirmation process.

“They should have done this a long time ago, three months ago, not now. But they did it now. So I don’t want to play into their hands,” Trump said.

Without the support of their Republican allies, Democrats will lack the votes on the committee to hold up the nomination past Monday. Though bizarrely, Kavanaugh himself hasn’t said yet whether he would or wouldn’t testify, which begs the question: If neither Kavanaugh nor Ford appear at the hearing, what exactly will lawmakers discuss?

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