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Russia doesn’t care enough to respond to the US shooting down an Iranian drone. Here’s why.

Russia will not respond to the shooting down of the Iranian drone with the same strength it responded yesterday to the shooting down of the Syrian SU-22 provided the US remains in its base in al-Tanaf.

Alexander Mercouris

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The strong Russian reaction to the shooting down of the Syrian SU-22 near Rusafa in northern Syria is unlikely to be matched by a similarly strong Russian response to the US shooting down of an Iranian built drone near the US base in southern Syria at al-Tanf.

As my colleague Adam Garrie has rightly pointed out, this base was established by the US illegally on sovereign Syrian soil without permission from the Syrian government or the UN Security Council.  Moreover a senior Russian official – Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov – has today made the same point

It is absolutely illegal.  There is neither a United Nations Security Council resolution nor a request from Syria’s legitimate authorities to this effect.  It’s a principle of international law.  We are present there at the request from the legitimate authorities.  Any presence, especially military presence, on the territory of a sovereign state is possible only when there is a corresponding resolution of the United Nations Security Council or a request or consent from the legitimate authorities

The Russians nonetheless are most unlikely to respond harshly to this incident, and the location explains why.

Whereas the US shooting down of the Syrian SU-22 fighter near Rusafa was clearly intended to deter the Syrian army from capturing Rusafa – a vital point in the battle for Deir Ezzor – the shooting down of an unmanned Iranian built drone – whether operated by the Syrians, the Iranians, Hezbollah, or someone else – close to a US base in southern Syria will not concern them anywhere near so much.

Provided the US military stays in al-Tanf and does not interfere in Syrian army operations against ISIS or other Jihadi groups either on the Iraqi border, or on the road to Deir Ezzor, or in the bitterly contested southern Syrian town of Dara’a, the Russians will leave them alone.

As I said in my article discussing the Russian reaction to the shooting down of the Syrian SU-22 fighter, though their possession of a powerful air defence system in Syria gives them the whip hand in their dealings with the US in Syria, “the Russians must act carefully so as not to provoke the US into an unnecessary confrontation which would serve no-one’s interest”.

That this is the Russian policy in relation to the US base al-Tanf is shown by the fact that this is the second Iranian built drone shot down by the US in this area.  The first such drone was shot down by the US on 8th June 2017, without this provoking any Russian reaction.  I am sure the same will happen in this case.

Indeed I would not be surprised if the Russians are angry with whoever it was who sent the drone close to the US’s al-Tanf base possibly seeing in it a provocation intended after yesterday’s warning to push them into extending the area covered by the warning to al-Tanf as well.  If so they will undoubtedly make known their anger to whoever was responsible.

As every chess player knows, the end game in chess is the most difficult and requires a particularly cool head.  The Russians – consummate chess players that they are – know this well, and they will be weighing their moves carefully.

I would finish by making a few further points.

Inevitably since the Russians gave their warning yesterday there have been many claims that it is no more than a bluff.  This article by my colleague Alex Christoforou provides typical examples of such claims made by people working for neocon think-tanks.

The military of the US led Coalition does not consider the Russian warning a bluff.  The Australian air force has now suspended its air operations in Syrian air space as a result of the Russian warning, there is some talk of Britain doing so also, and this article in the London Times confirms what was said by Coalition spokesman Colonel Ryan Dillon yesterday, that following the Russian warning the US is redeploying its aircraft out of harm’s way.

What is more true is that the Russians have not said that they will actually shoot down US aircraft if they fly west of the Euphrates.  Claims that the Russians have declared some sort of ‘no-fly zone’ west of the Euphrates are untrue.

What the Russians have said is that they will treat US and Coalition aircraft which fly west of the Euphrates as potentially hostile targets, and will track them accordingly.

That is not something the Russians have ever done in Syria before – though close to their own borders they do it all the time – and US pilots flying west of the Euphrates knowing that they are being tracked by the Russians – with the alarm systems in their aircraft telling them as much – are bound to feel threatened by it.

Lastly, I cannot forbear to mention the rather pathetic US attempt to maintain the illusion that the ‘de-confliction’ hotline between the US and Russian militaries in Syria is still in effect notwithstanding that the Russians suspended it yesterday.  Note the tortuous language the US uses about the ‘de-confliction’ hotline in the statement announcing the shooting down of the drone which it issued today

The Coalition has made it clear to all parties publicly and through the de-confliction line with Russian forces that the demonstrated hostile intent and actions of pro-regime forces toward Coalition and partner forces in Syrian conducting legitimate counter-ISIS operations will not be tolerated.

There is a de-confliction mechanism in place with Russian forces to reduce uncertainty in this highly contested space and mitigate the chances of strategic miscalculation.

These words convey the impression that the ‘de-confliction’ hotline is still operating without actually saying that it is.

It reminds me of the situation following the Al-Shayrat cruise missile attack when the US could never quite bring itself to admit publicly that the Russians had turned off the ‘de-confliction’ hotline and repeatedly gave the wrong impression that it had been turned back on weeks before it actually was.

The very fact the US is engaging in this sort of language shows how dependent the US is on the ‘de-confliction’ hotline for the smooth operation of its air campaign in Syria, and how unwilling it is to admit that this puts the Russians in Syria in a position of advantage.

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Moment of Truth on Second Referendum: The Plan All Along or a Head Fake?

If we assume a third meaningful vote goes ahead next week that included the provision for a second referendum, and that it passes with a majority, the motivation for extending Article 50 would then be clear.

The Duran

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Authored by Steven Guinness:


The news that Theresa May has officially requested an extension to Article 50 until the end of June has been in the making since the European Court of Justice announced in December 2018 that the UK has the right to unilaterally revoke the article at any point prior to the UK leaving the EU.

In an article published at the time, I argued that the ECJ’s decision was designed to begin the process of the government legislating for a second referendum. To quickly summarise what has happened since, in the past three months the Brexit withdrawal agreement was rejected twice by the House of Commons, Theresa May survived a series of no confidence votes, parliament stated its opposition to both a no deal scenario and holding a second referendum before supporting an extension to Article 50, and finally speaker John Bercow announced that the government would only be allowed to put the Brexit withdrawal agreement to parliament again if it contained a ‘new‘ proposition.

Regular readers will know that since last year my position on Brexit has been consistent, in that I believe a no deal exit from the EU is the most likely outcome and that a ‘People’s Vote‘ could be used to facilitate this eventuality.

One explanation for why the Prime Minister has requested only a three month extension to Article 50 is that it would avoid the UK having to take part in upcoming EU parliamentary elections. Whilst this is possible, I do not think it is the primary reason.

Last week, Independent MP Sarah Wollaston tabled an amendment that called for Article 50 to be extended and for a second referendum on Brexit to be held. The amendment was comprehensively defeated, with the majority of the opposition Labour party abstaining from the vote. Elements of the party and The People’s Vote campaign went on record as saying that the timing of the amendment was too soon, and so as a result they did not rally behind it.

As with other supposed set backs to another vote, critics rounded on the news believing that the result killed off any prospect of another referendum from materialising. As I have stressed before, this interpretation is I believe premature.

On the same day as Wollaston’s defeated amendment, parliament voted by a majority to take no deal ‘off the table‘. But this was only in relation to the exit date of March 29th. It did not account for an extension of Article 50 and with that a new exit date.

It also needs to be stressed that the motions against a no deal and a second public vote were non-binding on the government. What neither did is definitively rule out the possibilities.

A month ago I wrote how on March 23rd a ‘Put it to the people‘ march is taking place in London that will call for a referendum on the government’s Brexit withdrawal agreement. With just a couple of days to go, the line from the European Union is that a request to extended Article 50 would only be granted by its 27 member states for a specific purpose. To extend in order to just give more time for negotiations on an non-negotiable deal would not be acceptable.

Tied in with this was House of Commons speaker John Bercow’s announcement that he would dismiss a motion for a third meaningful vote on the withdrawal agreement unless it was markedly different from what has already been rejected.

Asked by MP Geraint Davies if a meaningful vote would be ‘intrinsically different‘ if it included the provision for the final say going to a public vote, Bercow responded by saying that he would look at the specifics but would ultimately abide by the principle that the proposition should be ‘different‘ and ‘not the same or substantially the same‘.

In other words, Bercow has left open the possibility. It is highly unlikely that either he or the European Union would reject a proposal that would legislate for an act of ‘democracy‘.

With the last ‘People’s Vote‘ march this Saturday, it appears to now be designed to move sentiment in favour of a second referendum prior to the original exit day of March 29th. Potential evidence for this comes from EU Commission President Jean Claude Junker, who has strongly intimated that a decision on whether to grant an extension to Article 50 will not be taken until next week,which means after the referendum march. Assuming an extension is approved, the EU may then go on to state that it is a one time deal to accommodate a public vote and that it cannot be extended for a second time.

As for Theresa May’s proposal of extending Article 50 until June 30th, EU Council President Donald Tusk has said a short extension is possible but would be ‘conditional on a positive vote on the withdrawal agreement in the House of Commons‘.

Many parliamentarians who twice rejected the withdrawal agreement have indicated that they would support it a third time round if it included the proposition for the public to have the final say. This seems to be the direction of travel and the only way in which the deal would be accepted by the speaker as a new proposition.

Of more interest to me, though, is the motivation behind an extension to Article 50 that would only last until June 30th.

It was a few of weeks prior to Donald Trump securing the U.S. presidency that I first mentioned how when the 2016 EU referendum took place, it occurred at the same time central bank chiefs were gathering in Basel for the Bank for International Settlements annual conference. This is a conference that always takes place in the latter part of June.

At the start of January I raised the suggestion that a June referendum could become a reality. My suspicion is that if a second vote goes ahead, it would take the form of a streamlined campaign, one that would offer the public the options of supporting Theresa May’s deal (assuming it still stands), remaining in the EU or leaving on World Trade Organisation terms. This would mean a second referendum taking place in around twelve weeks time.

Should this be the case, then the vote would likely coincide with the movements of the BIS once more. And if my prediction of a no deal exit from the EU is proven correct, the economic fallout from this scenario would require close coordination between central banks, given that currency and equity markets would be heavily impacted.

What Brexit and Trump’s victory showed is that in the background key globalist institutions were convening. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that moves to extend Article 50 are coinciding with the EU Council Summit on March 21st and 22nd – the same two days where a meeting in Cambridge is scheduled between the BIS, the Bank of England, Cambridge University and the University of Basel. The topic? ‘New Economics of Exchange Rate Adjustment‘. The Bank of England and the Federal Reserve also meet this week to decide on interest rates.

If we assume a third meaningful vote goes ahead next week that included the provision for a second referendum, and that it passes with a majority, the motivation for extending Article 50 would then be clear.

Something else to consider is that under this scenario, those in parliament who want to remain in the EU would have to vote in support of leaving the union just so they can secure a referendum for which they would campaign to remain in the bloc. The sense of betrayal already felt by swathes of the electorate would only be heightened if they witnessed MP’s using the deal as nothing more than an opportunity to cancel Brexit altogether.

The next round of theatrics would be over the question on the ballot paper. Recall that in previous weeks the likes of Lord Kerr (author of Article 50 and a member of the Executive Committee of the Trilateral Commission), Chuka Umunna, founder of Best for Britain Gina Miller and ex Prime Minister Tony Blair have all raised the prospect of the ballot containing three options – one of which would be for a ‘hard‘ Brexit.

The popular consensus is that another referendum would offer just two options, to either leave with the negotiated deal or remain in the EU. This would eliminate from the campaign the possibility of a no deal Brexit, something which I have reasoned is beneficial to globalists as they would use it to scapegoat the vehicles of resurgent nationalism / protectionism as being responsible for a major impending economic downturn, but also as an opportunity to further centralise power.

For this reason, I expect a no deal option would be presented to the British public. As in 2016, opinion polls all point to the electorate wanting to remain in the EU. They were wrong then and I believe would be wrong again.

A new leave or ‘hard‘ Brexit campaign would play upon the desires of many to ‘take back control‘ of the United Kingdom from the ‘elites‘ and to talk up the prospects of the country, whereas a remain campaign runs the risk of being condescending to the public by pushing the narrative that they were conned the first time round, or worse were ignorant in their societal outlook.

In the middle would sit Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement. If indeed it was carried forward to a referendum, it is feasible that it would become a theatrical tug of war between hard ‘Brexiteers‘ and remainers to convert those minded to support the deal over to their side.

Growing public sentiment is that the establishment have been doing everything it can to overturn the first referendum result. Faith in politicians has never been lower than it is today. In such a febrile atmosphere, if you give voters the option of voicing their discontent through the ballot box, the chances are that they will deliver in kind.

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Trump Demands Tribute from NATO Vassals

The one thing that we should all understand, and which Trump perfectly and clearly understands, is that the members of NATO are a captive audience.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Tim Kirby via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Regardless of whether one loves or hates President Trump at least we can say that his presidency has a unique flavor and is full of surprises. Bush and Obama were horribly dull by comparison. Trump as a non-politician from the world of big (real estate) business and media has a different take on many issues including NATO.

Many, especially in Russia were hoping that “The Donald’s” campaign criticism of NATO would move towards finally putting an end to this anti-Russian alliance, which, after the fall of Communism really has no purpose, as any real traditional military threats to Europe have faded into history. However, Trump as President of the United States has to engage in the “realpolitik” of 21st century America and try to survive and since Trump seems rather willing to lie to get what he wants, who can really say which promises from his campaign were a shoot and which were a work.

So as it stands now Trump’s recent decision to maintain and build US/NATO bases across the world “and make country X pay for it” could mean anything from him trying to keep his campaign promises in some sort of skewed way, to an utter abandonment of them and submission to the swamp. Perhaps it could simply be his business instincts taking over in the face of “wasteful spending”. Making allies have to pay to have US/NATO forces on their territory is a massive policy shift that one could only predict coming from the unpredictable 45th President.

The one thing that we should all understand, and which Trump perfectly and clearly understands, is that the members of NATO (and other “allies”) are a captive audience, especially Germany, Japan and South Korea, which “coincidentally” are the first set of countries that will have to pay the “cost + 50%” to keep bases and US soldiers on their soil. Japan’s constitution, written primarily by American occupation forces forbids them from having a real military which is convenient for Trump’s plan. South Korea, although a very advanced and wealthy nation has no choice but to hide behind the US might because if it were to disappear overnight, then Gangnam would be filled with pictures of the Kim family within a few weeks.

In the past with regard to these three countries NATO has had to keep up the illusion of wanting to “help” them and work as “partners” for common defense as if nuclear and economic titan America needs countries like them to protect itself. Trump whether consciously or not is changing the dynamic of US/NATO occupation of these territories to be much more honest. His attitude seems to be that the US has the possibility to earn a lot of money from a worldwide mafia-style protection scam. Vassals have no choice but to pay the lord so Trump wants to drop the illusions and make the military industrial complex profitable again and God bless him for it. This level of honesty in politics is refreshing and it reflects the Orange Man’s pro-business and “America will never be a socialist country” attitude. It is blunt and ideologically consistent with his worldview.

On the other hand, one could look at this development as a possible move not to turn NATO into a profitable protection scam but as a means to covertly destroy it. Lies and illusion in politics are very important, people who believe they are free will not rebel even if they have no freedom whatsoever. If people are sure their local leaders are responsible for their nation they will blame them for its failings rather than any foreign influence that may actually be pulling the real strings.

Even if everyone in Germany, Japan and South Korea in their subconscious knows they are basically occupied by US forces it is much harder to take action, than if the “lord” directly demands yearly tribute. The fact that up to this point US maintains its bases on its own dime sure adds to the illusion of help and friendship. This illusion is strong enough for local politicians to just let the status quo slide on further and further into the future. Nothing is burning at their feet to make them act… having to pay cost + 50% could light that fire.

Forcing the locals to pay for these bases changes the dynamic in the subconscious and may force people’s brains to contemplate why after multiple-generations the former Axis nations still have to be occupied. Once occupation becomes expensive and uncomfortable, this drops the illusion of friendship and cooperation making said occupation much harder to maintain.

South Korea knows it needs the US to keep out the North but when being forced to pay for it this may push them towards developing the ability to actually defend themselves. Trump’s intellectual “honesty” in regards to NATO could very well plant the necessary intellectual seeds to not just change public opinion but make public action against US/NATO bases in foreign countries. Japan has had many protests over the years against US bases surging into the tens of thousands. This new open vassal status for the proud Japanese could be the straw to break the camel’s back.

Predicting the future is impossible. But it is clear that, changing the fundamental dynamic by which the US maintains foreign bases in a way that will make locals financially motivated to have them removed, shall significantly affect the operations of US forces outside the borders of the 50 States and make maintaining a global presence even more difficult, but perhaps this is exactly what the Orange Man wants or is just too blind to see.

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Tucker Carlson summarizes the Trump and Russian collusion saga [Video]

Tucker Carlson excoriates the slander against President Trump, but goes farther to call out the establishment elite in their crimes.

Seraphim Hanisch

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Speculation this week has been rather strong that Special Counsel Robert Mueller III is about to release his report concerning his investigation in to the allegation that Donald Trump and his campaign colluded with elements of the government of the Russian Federation to…?

What, exactly?

That is where things get a little unclear. The narrative line says to “influence the 2016 presidential elections”, or “to steal the election from Hillary Clinton” – but that is about as far as any official narrative line goes. This ambiguity, masquerading as clear language, has created a further belief among a very large number of Americans that what actually happened was that this collusion actually extended into some form of vote-tampering, and amazingly, a recent poll Tucker Carlson mentions in his video we offer here says that some 53% of Americans actually believe that somehow the election results were altered by the Russians.

The question Tucker Carlson leads his report with is, “did the President betray his country?” However, as one goes through the list of events, insinuations, fabrications, attacks and nonstop innuendo that has led the US and Russian relations to their worst point since the Cold War, for no specifically stated and verified reason, one wonders who is doing the betrayal.

Now, in one sense, America owes no allegiance to Russia. But Russia also owes no allegiance to America, and the idea that Russia should is part of this effort by the American establishment. That establishment seems to believe that all the world should owe allegiance to the United States, at least as shown by words and actions of the Americans vis-a-vie foreign policy matters. But the truth is much closer to President Trump’s own notion of a brotherhood of nation-states rather than hegemony. He stated this noble thought in his first UN address in 2017:

Being in a brotherhood relationship with Russia and China is apparently beyond the pale for the American political establishment, hence, the Russia collusion investigation and over two years of nonstop slander, ostensibly designed to keep this from happening.

This is one reason why the notion that Mr. Mueller will actually release a report now is being met with a lot of distrust. We have heard rumors from DC for probably well over one year that the “report was imminent”, but nothing ever came of it. Even this week, Vox reported that the Mueller office asked for an eleven-day filing deadline extension for some reason.

To be blatantly speculative, the likelihood is that the report is every bit of a non-event as the pro-Trump crowd believes it is. However, bringing a stop to the President’s hoped-for policy is something that must not happen. The chances are therefore that whatever is released (if anything) will also be somehow curiously coincidental with some very similar allegation coming from somewhere that shows that while Mueller didn’t find anything, someone else did… and then the full-on media blocking has a new basis for continuing its efforts to disrupt and even destroy the work of the current administration.

As a parenthetical side note, Tucker Carlson is known for excellence in reporting and following stories like this one. What is particularly striking in this video is the directness with which he calls out other examples of very bad policy and actions that resulted in zero punishment for the people who did it. In particular, he calls out the whole 2003 Iraq War noting that the narrative of “weapons of mass destruction” was similarly false, costing thousands of American lives (not to mention the hundreds of thousands that died in Iraq) and a trillion dollars wasted, yet the chief players in that event, such as John Bolton still hold important posts in US government today. The bitter truth is that there remains a strong “untouchability” in Washington, and there is nothing that is likely to change that except President Trump.

Perhaps that is the reason for the resistance to his presence there.

 

 

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