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Russia, China defeat U.S. attempt to save Jihadis in Aleppo

By supporting a Resolution in the UN Security Council on Monday intended to preserve the Jihadi pocket in eastern Aleppo, the US showed that it did not mean seriously the proposals it made over the weekend to withdraw Jihadi fighters from Aleppo.

Alexander Mercouris

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Confirmation that the US has backtracked on its own proposal to withdraw Jihadi fighters from Aleppo comes just hours after a vote in the UN Security Council in which China joined Russia to veto a Western backed Resolution which would have imposed a 7 day ceasefire on the fighting in Aleppo.

It is clear from the UN Press Office’s summary of the discussion in the UN Security Council that the ceasefire, though initially for just 7 days, would have been subject to further extensions thereafter. 

Moreover, though it seems the Resolution specifically referred to Aleppo, the ceasefire was intended to be more all-encompassing, and would have extended to every part of Syria, though groups specifically designated ‘terrorist groups’ – ie. ISIS and Al-Qaeda’s local branch Jabhat Al-Nusra – would have been excluded from it.

A few days ago I suggested that the latest US diplomatic initiatives – including the proposals made to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov a few days ago in Geneva by US Secretary of State Kerry – were intended to delay the fall of the Jihadi pocket in eastern Aleppo until after US President Obama quit the US Presidency in January.  Here is how I explained it

“In reality – as Lavrov almost certainly knows – Kerry’s latest proposals probably are a last desperate bid to get the Russians to agree to a ceasefire in Aleppo so that what is left of the Jihadi pocket can be preserved intact until after Obama’s final departure in January.

That way Obama would be spared the humiliation of having the Jihadi pocket fall whilst he is still President, so that the blame for its eventual fall can be passed on by him and the members of his administration onto Donald Trump.

Lavrov’s comments suggest that the Russians are in no mood to help Obama in this way, and given the appalling state relations between the US and Russia have fallen to under his Presidency, it is difficult to see why they would do so.”

Yesterday’s manoeuvre in the UN Security Council appears to bear this out.

According to Russian ambassador Vitaly Churkin, the draft Resolution was presented to the UN Security Council on the same morning as the vote, violating a rule that Resolutions must be circulated 24 hours before they are voted on.

In addition the Western powers somehow succeeded in getting Egypt to co-sponsor the Resolution.  Egypt is a country with which Russia has had exceptionally good relations, and which has tended to side with Russian over the conflict in Syria.  Indeed there are even some reports that Egyptian pilots have now joined the Syrian air force in Syria.

All this suggests an attempt to fast-track the Resolution through the UN Security Council before the Russians fully realised what was going on, whilst fooling the Russians into thinking that because Egypt had co-sponsored the Resolution that meant that it was in accord with Russian objectives.

The intention clearly was to get a ceasefire in Aleppo to preserve the Jihadi pocket there.  Though the ceasefire would have been limited to only 7 days, the provision in the Resolution for its renewal would have exposed the Russians to tremendous criticism and pressure if at the end of that period they had refused to renew it.  That pressure would then have been maintained right up to Trump’s inauguration in January, at which point – if the ceasefire was called off – the blame would have fallen not on Obama but on Trump.

If this is all correct then Kerry’s offer to Lavrov in Geneva to withdraw the Jihadis from Aleppo was never intended seriously but was simply a part of this game, intended to fool the Russians into thinking that the Resolution proposed to the UN Security Council yesterday was intended to complement this offer.

If this was the game the US and the Western powers have been playing over the last few days, then they should have known that Lavrov and Churkin are far too experienced and far too wise to these sort of tricks to fall for them.

Moreover this particular diplomatic manoeuvre was so patently dishonest that very unusually it also provoked a Chinese veto, notwithstanding that China generally prefers to hide behind Russia’s veto and abstain in UN Security Council votes where it is in a minority.   

The extent of Chinese anger was made clear in the unusually pointed rebukes Chinese ambassador Liu Jeiyi addressed during the Security Council session to the ambassadors of the US and Britain.  Here is how the UN Press Office reports them.

“Liu Jeiyi (China) called for more intensive efforts to forge a Syrian-owned and Syrian-led political solution to the complex, sensitive and grave situation.  Council action should complement current diplomatic efforts, he said, adding that efforts for a consensus within the Council should have continued. 

An integrated approach was needed, he stressed, asking the United Kingdom’s representative what right he had to distort the positions of other countries, and requesting that he stop poisoning the atmosphere in the “august body”.

[R]eferring to the statement by the representative of the United States, [he] asked where the genesis of the situation in Syria lay and how the problems in other Middle Eastern countries had begun.  There was a clear record that could not be distorted, he emphasised, adding that he would not repeat China’s position.”

(bold italics added)

If this analysis is correct, then it would explain why the US today (Tuesday) backtracked on proposals it made as recently as the weekend.  Since the proposals failed to trick the Russians into letting yesterday’s Security Council Resolution pass, there was no further point to them, so the US – which never intended them seriously – just dropped them. 

Quite obviously Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov was right to be skeptical about these proposals, and to insist that they be fleshed out with a concrete timetable and proposals, when they were presented to him by Kerry in Geneva on Saturday and Sunday.

All in all this latest US diplomatic debacle shows why there is still a war going on in Syria.  Instead of working with the Russians to achieve a realistic objective – saving the lives of the Jihadis and civilians in eastern Aleppo by withdrawing the Jihadis from the city – the Obama administration in its final days prefers to engage in complex and deceitful manoeuvres aimed at securing for the outgoing President a better public image.  Obviously so long as diplomacy is conducted in this way genuine agreement between the US and Russia to end the war in Syria is impossible.

That this is not the right way to conduct diplomacy should anyway hardly need saying. That against hard bitten professionals like Lavrov and Churkin such manoeuvres have no possibility of success, and that all they do is sour the international atmosphere and lose the US the trust of countries like Russia and China, does not however appear to worry those who engage in them.

The big mystery in all this is the role of US Secretary of State John Kerry.  Lavrov’s comments today suggest the Russians see him as a dupe of the dishonest tactics cooked up by others rather than as their originator and perpetrator, and that if anything they feel sorry for him. 

If that is so (and I have my doubts) then his continued loyalty to an administration that repeatedly uses him in this way is astonishing.

Regardless of Kerry’s exact role, this episode shows why the Russians will not be sorry to see Obama go. 

It remains to be seen whether Donald Trump and his new Secretary of State, whoever that turns out to be, can repair the damage.

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Putin, Trump meet in Helsinki for first bilateral summit

The Helsinki summit is the first ever full-fledged meeting between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump. Their previous encounters were brief talks on the sidelines of the G20 and APEC summits in 2017.

Vladimir Rodzianko

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Russian President Vladimir Putin and US President Donald Trump are meeting in the Finnish capital of Helsinki for their first bilateral one-on-one meeting.

Trump arrived in the Finland capital a day early, while the jet of Putin, who wrapped up his nation’s hosting of the World Cup Sunday, touched down around 1 p.m. local time and the Russian president’s motorcade whisked him straight to the palace where the two world leaders are meeting.

Trump signed an August 2017 law imposing additional sanctions on Russia. The law bars Trump from easing many sanctions without Congress’ approval, but he can offer some relief without a nod from Congress.

Almost 700 Russian people and companies are under U.S. sanctions. Individuals face limits on their travel and freezes on at least some of their assets, while some top Russian state banks and companies, including oil and gas giants, are effectively barred from getting financing through U.S. banks and markets.

The agenda of the summit hasn’t been officially announced yet, though, the presidents are expected to discuss global crises, such as the Syrian conflict and Ukraine, as well as bilateral relations.

Stay tuned for updates…

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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.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

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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