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Explaining Israel’s Syrian strike: Israel tries to reverse shift in military balance

All the indications are that the latest Israeli strike was primarily intended to defeat Syria’s increasingly effective air defence system, and as not principally targeted at Iran

Alexander Mercouris

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Eric Zuesse has done an expert job untangling the web of lies and obfuscation surrounding the recent Israeli missile strike on Syria, and the various counter strikes.

To my mind Zuesse has shown clearly that the Israeli claim to have retaliated against an Iranian missile strike on Israel is most unlikely to be true.

What then is happening?

Firstly, it should be said clearly that the recent Israeli strike on Syria was many orders of magnitude bigger than other Israeli strikes on Syria which we have reported recently.

The most detailed account of the strike has been provided by Russia’s Defence Ministry, which makes clear its scale.

Participating in the air raid were 28 Israeli planes F-15 and F-16, which fired more than 60 air-to-surface missiles on different parts of Syria. Also Israel launched more than ten tactical surface-to-surface missiles.  The attacks were against the deployment sites of Iranian armed groups and also Syrian air defenses in the area of Damascus and in southern Syria

Note that the Israelis are not disputing the numbers of Israeli forces committed to the strike which the Russians are giving

This seems to me to be as good a point as any to highlight one very important fact which the recent US led missile strike on Syria and which this latest Israeli strike have highlighted.

Within hours of the strikes and before the US and Israel had provided details the Russians released what gives every appearance of being highly accurate information about the strikes, detailing the number of missiles launched, the number and types of aircraft used, and the other military assets which participated.

By way of example, in the case of the US led missile on Syria the Russians reported almost immediately that 103 missiles had been launched by the US led coalition against Syria.

The actual number turned out to be 105: a figure so similar to the one the Russians claimed as to make no practical difference (the discrepancy may be accounted for by the fact that two missiles malfunctioned).

The US has denied that it shared information with the Russians about the strike before it took place.

That confirms that the information the Russians gave about the strike was obtained by their own intelligence.

It is highly likely that the same is true about the information the Russians are giving about the latest Israeli strike.

The accuracy of the details the Russians provided about the US led strike confirms that the Russians have what amounts to complete knowledge in real time of what is happening in the skies and on the seas in and around Syria.

That is an extremely impressive achievement, and also a very important fact.  It confirms the technological potency of the air defence system the Russians have brought with them to Syria, and the effectiveness of the radar systems and other electronic surveillance devices it uses.

The fact that the Russians have such total knowledge of what is happening in the air and on the seas in and around Syria is a good reason for taking their claims about the number of missiles they say the Syrians have shot down seriously.

In the case of the US led missile strike the Russians initially claimed that the total number of missiles the Syrian air defence shot down was 71.  Following an on-site investigation Russian investigation that number was reduced to a still very impressive 66.

In the case of the latest Israeli strike the Russians say the Syrian air defence shot down “more than half the Israeli missiles”.

Since the Russians say 70 missiles were launched, that would mean that the Syrian air defence shot down over 35.

In both cases the US and Israel of course deny the Russian claims – the US claims all its missiles hit their targets – but have failed so far to provide a detailed refutation.

Given the completeness of Russian knowledge about what is happening in the skies and on the seas in and around Syria, it is all but inconceivable that the Russian are simply mistaken about their claims about the numbers of missiles shot down.

That means that either the Russians are lying about the number of missiles they say the Syrians have shot down or they are telling the truth.

In the case of the US led missile strike one recent US action which has passed by almost completely unnoticed suggests that the Russian may be telling the truth.

On 9th May 2018, whilst Russia was celebrating Victory Day, the US announced a further range of sanctions against Russian companies and individuals involved in producing systems for Russia’s air defence complex.

Bizarrely two Russian entities which were sanctioned were two Russian military units: the 183rd Guards Anti Aircraft Missile Regiment and the 11th Training Centre of Russia’s Anti Aircraft Missile Forces.

It is surely not a coincidence that these are the two Russian military units which have recently provided training to Syria’s air defence forces.

It is also surely not a coincidence that the reason given for sanctioning one of the Russian companies named in the sanctions appears to be that it is involved in the supply of advanced Pantsir-S1 systems to Syria.

This latest wave of US sanctions has resulted in a stiffly worded statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry which draws the obvious conclusions

Washington has imposed additional sanctions against Russia, allegedly for violating the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act, which has no connection to Russia. In effect, this US decision has been precipitated by a trivial desire to get even with Russia over the failed missile attack on Syria, which the United States, Britain and France launched on April 14 in violation of international law.

Evidence of this is the inclusion in the sanctions list of the Gatchina Surface-to-Air Missile Training Centre at the Mozhaisky Military Aerospace Academy and the 183rd Guards Air Defence Missile Regiment of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. In all likelihood, they are being punished for providing good training and instructions to the Syrian air defence forces, which shot down the majority of the missiles launched by the Western aggressors.

It is notable that the sanctions list also includes the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian General Staff and Rosoboronexport (ROE). It appears that our American colleagues have forgotten that they imposed sanctions against these parties before and are seeking to intimidate us with the same threats that have failed.

Washington continues to nurture the illusion that economic or military pressure can prevent Russia from upholding its own interests and supporting its partners. A desire to maintain its unilateral global domination despite the costs involved is prompting the United States to take irrational and openly dangerous steps. We would like to tell US politicians that trying to “punish” everyone who pursues an independent policy is not a good idea. The latest sanctions essentially amount to recognition of the combat capabilities of the Soviet and Russian weapons used by the Syrian air defence crews on April 14, when they shot down the bulk of the incoming missiles.

(bold italics added)

In my opinion it is the growing potency of the Syrian air defence system, and its increasing success in shooting down Israeli aircraft, and US and Israeli missiles, which is almost certainly the true reason for the latest Israeli strike.

The revelation of the growing potency of the Syrian air defence system, and its recent successes against both the US and Israel, appears to be sending shockwaves throughout the US and Israeli defence establishments, which have become accustomed to taking their hitherto unchallenged air superiority in the Middle East for granted.

The result is a petulant decision to impose sanctions on those Russians the US thinks are responsible for this change in the situation, and a series of ever bigger Israeli strikes on Syria intended to reverse this and to restore at least the impression of Israeli aerial primacy over Syria, which had existed before.

It seems that the latest strike – involving no fewer than 28 aircraft and launched against a far larger range of targets than the earlier US led strike – was principally intended to defeat the Syrian air defence system.

It is notable that the video from the strike which the Israelis have published, and which they have ensured has been given the most international publicity, is one which shows a successful missile strike on a Russian supplied Syrian Pantsir-S1.

It is this small but potent point defence system which appears to be shooting down a disproportionate number of US and Israeli missiles, and which is threatening to nullify the effectiveness of these missiles in Syrian air space.  Not surprisingly, its presence in Syria appears to be causing the US and Israeli defence establishments the most concern.  Release of the video appears to be intended to provide reassurance – not least to the personnel of the US and Israeli militaries – that like all weapons systems the Pantsir-S1 is not invincible and can be beaten.

As for the role of Iran in these military exchanges, in my opinion too much should not be made of this.

Iran has become Israel’s and the US’s all purpose alibi in justifying their continued attacks on Syria.

Doubtless – as the Russians say – some Iranian or Iranian controlled facilities in Syria really were attacked as part of this latest strike, presumably in order to give some substance to this alibi.

However this constant dragging in of Iran to explain or excuse Israeli attacks on Syria should not mislead about what is really going on.  It was Syria and its air defence system not Iran which appears to have been the target.

In the aftermath of the US missile strike on Syria’s Al-Shayrat air base last year the Russians said they would take steps to upgrade Syria’s air defence system.

It seems the Russians have been as good as their word, with the result that – as I have discussed previously – there has been a shift in the military balance between Syria and Israel in Syrian air space against Israel.

The Israelis are pulling out all the stops to reverse this, and this looks to be what was behind their latest big strike.

If Russian claims about the number of Israeli missiles shot down are true – and as we have seen there is reason to think they might be – then this latest Israeli strike appears to have failed.

If so then It is most unlikely to be the last one.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Via Zerohedge

Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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Why Joe May be Courting Stacey

Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Patrick J. Buchanan

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Authored by Patrick Buchanan via The Unz Review:


Of 895 slots in the freshman class of Stuyvesant High in New York City, seven were offered this year to black students, down from 10 last year and 13 the year before.

In the freshman class of 803 at The Bronx High School of Science, 12 students are black, down from last year’s 25.

Of 303 students admitted to Staten Island Technical High School, one is African-American.

According to The New York Times, similar patterns of admission apply at the other five most elite high schools in the city.

Whites and Asians are 30 percent of middle school students, but 83 percent of the freshman at Bronx High School of Science, 88 percent at Staten Island Technical and 90 percent at Stuyvesant.

What do these numbers tell us?

They reveal the racial composition of the cohort of scientists and technicians who will lead America in the 21st century. And they tell us which races will not be well represented in that vanguard.

They identify a fault line that runs through the Democratic Party, separating leftists who believe in equality of results for all races and ethnic groups, and those who believe in a meritocracy.

Mayor Bill de Blasio has expressed anger and frustration at the under-representation of blacks and Hispanics in the elite schools. But Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature have ignored his pleas to change the way students are admitted.

Currently, the same test, of English and math, is given to middle school applicants. And admission to the elite eight is offered to those who get the highest scores.

Moreover, Asians, not whites, are predominant.

Though 15 percent of all middle school students, Asians make up two-thirds of the student body at Stuyvesant, with 80 times as many slots as their African-American classmates.

The egalitarian wing of the Democratic Party sees this as inherently unjust. And what gives this issue national import are these factors:

First, the recent scandal where rich parents paid huge bribes to criminal consultants to get their kids into elite colleges, by falsifying records of athletic achievement and cheating on Scholastic Aptitude Tests, has caused a wave of populist resentment.

Second, Harvard is being sued for systemic reverse racism, as black and Hispanic students are admitted with test scores hundreds of points below those that would disqualify Asians and whites.

Third, Joe Biden has a history on compulsory integration dating back to the 1970s that Sen. Jesse Helms called “enlightened.”

Here are Biden’s quotes, unearthed by The Washington Post, that reflect his beliefs about forced busing for racial balance in public schools:

“The new integration plans being offered are really just quota systems to assure a certain number of blacks, Chicanos, or whatever in each school. That, to me, is the most racist concept you can come up with.

“What it says is, ‘In order for your child with curly black hair, brown eyes, and dark skin to be able to learn anything, he needs to sit next to my blond-haired, blue-eyed son.’ That’s racist!

“Who the hell do we think we are, that the only way a black man or woman can learn is if they rub shoulders with my white child?

“I am philosophically opposed to quota systems. They insure mediocrity.”

That was 44 years ago. While those views were the thinking of many Democrats, and perhaps of most Americans, in the mid-’70s, they will be problematic in the 2020 primaries, where African-Americans could be decisive in the contests that follow Iowa and New Hampshire.

Biden knows that just as Bernie Sanders, another white male, fell short in crucial South Carolina because of a lack of support among black voters, he, too, has a problem with that most loyal element in the Democratic coalition.

In 1991, Biden failed to rise to the defense of Anita Hill when she charged future Justice Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment. In the Senate Judiciary Committee, he was a law-and-order champion responsible for tough anti-crime legislation that is now regarded as discriminatory.

And he has a record on busing for racial balance that made him a de facto ally of Louise Day Hicks of the Boston busing case fame.

How, with a record like this, does Biden inoculate himself against attacks by rival candidates, especially candidates of color, in his run for the nomination?

One way would be to signal to his party that he has grown, he has changed, and his 2020 running mate will be a person of color. Perhaps he’ll run with a woman of color such as Stacey Abrams, who narrowly lost the 2018 governor’s race in Georgia.

An ancillary benefit would be that Abrams on the ticket would help him carry Georgia, a state Donald Trump probably cannot lose and win re-election.

Wrote Axios this morning:

“Close advisers to former Vice President Joe Biden are debating the idea of packaging his presidential campaign announcement with a pledge to choose Stacey Abrams as his vice president.”


Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Nixon’s White House Wars: The Battles That Made and Broke a President and Divided America Forever.”

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