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Syria and Iraq are now de facto allies against both ISIS and the US

Coordinated moves by Syrian and Iraqi militaries towards the Syrian-Iraqi border show that the two countries have become de facto military allies against ISIS and the regional intrigues of the US.

Alexander Mercouris

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One of the most striking turnarounds in the Middle East is the sudden close rapprochement between Syria and Iraq, who in their moves along the Syria-Iraqi border are increasingly coordinating together against both ISIS and the US.

To be clear, this is a major turnaround.  Since the Second World War Syria and Iraq have more often been in bitter conflict with each other than allied with each other.

In the 1960s the antagonism between the two countries sharpened when they each came to be led by rival branches of the Baath party.  There is nothing more calculated to intensify hostility than an ideological split as the history in the twentieth century of the world Communist movement can testify, and in the case of the hostility between the rival Baathists of Syria and Iraq the antagonism became murderous, with former Syrian President Hafez Al-Assad and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein loathing each other.

Suffice to say that the single episode that most cemented Saddam Hussein’s reputation as a psychopathic tyrant was his public round up and execution in 1979 of 68 Iraqi Baathist officials who had supported a rapprochement between Syria and Iraq.  A video derived from an Iraqi television broadcast of this episode exists, and it still makes chilling viewing.

One of the consequences of the antagonism between Syria and Iraq was that the US was repeatedly able to play the two off against each other.  Though Saddam Hussein has now come to be thought of as an opponent of the US, before his invasion of Kuwait in 1990 this was not really so, with Saddam Hussein repeatedly disrupting Syrian attempts to set up an Arab ‘rejectionist front’ to oppose the US and Israel because of his pathological hostility to Syria’s Baathists.

Suffice to say that the alliance between Syria and Iran which emerged in the 1980s – and which has held firm despite all attempts by the US, Israel and the Sunni Gulf States to break it – has its origins in the shared fear and hostility of both Syria and Iran towards Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which in the 1980s appeared to be an existential threat to both.

Following Saddam Hussein’s fall the increasingly Shiite dominated governments in Iraq have tilted more closely towards Iran, and this has gradually brought Iraq closer to Iran’s ally Syria.  Already in 2015 this was having an effect, with Iraq agreeing to allow overflights of Russian aircraft heading to Syria across its territory.

However what was in 2015 limited cooperation between Syria and Iraq has now evolved into an outright de facto military alliance as both Syria and Iraq step up efforts to regain control of their territories occupied by ISIS whilst at the same time manoeuvring to block US attempts to establish autonomous Sunni enclaves in these territories, or to play the Kurds off against both of them.

The first concrete expression of this military alliance was the Iraqi air strikes on ISIS in eastern Syria in February, which it is now known were carried out with the approval of the Syrian government.  It seems that the Iraqi F16s which carried out the strike had a shorter distance to fly to reach ISIS targets in eastern Syria than the Syrian and Russian aircraft flying from their bases on Syria’s western coast, making an Iraqi air strike on ISIS positions more effective than a Syrian or Russian air strike would have been.

However the most dramatic illustration of the de facto military alliance between Syria and Iraq – and the fact that it is targeted as much at blocking the regional manoeuvres of the US as at defeating ISIS – is the obviously coordinated moves the Syrian and Iraqi militaries are making in order to establish joint control of the Syrian-Iraqi border.

The Moon of Alabama has explained how the sudden dash of the Syrian army to the Syrian-Iraqi border – carried out at lightning speed, with some Syrian troops apparently moving an extraordinary 180 kilometres over the course of a single day – not only took the US completely by surprise, but has negated US attempts to carve out a zone of control for itself and its proxies in eastern Syria.

A key point about this advance is however that it has clearly been coordinated with the Iraqi military, who have carried out a parallel advance towards the Syrian-Iraqi border from their side of the border.  There are now reports of thousands of pro-Iraqi government militia pouring into the area to reinforce the Iraqi military’s presence there.

The speed of the Syrian army’s advance to the the Syrian-Iraqi border is being attributed – almost certainly correctly – to help from Russia, with claims that Russian Special Forces were directly involved in countering US moves in southern Syria.  The parallel moves of the Syrian and Iraqi militaries towards the Syrian-Iraqi borders appear so obviously coordinated that it is difficult to avoid the impression that the Russians – who have excellent relations with Iraq – were involved in coordinating them.

The big question is how long this de facto alliance between Syria and Iraq will last?  In the Middle East alliances tend to be transient whilst enmities unfortunately tend to be permanent.  However one alliance – the one between Syria and Iran – has now held firm for over 35 years, and done so moreover under intense pressure even after the original reason for this alliance – Syria’s and Iran’s joint fear of Saddam Hussein – has gone.

With Iraq closely allied to Syria’s ally Iran, it is at least possible that the current de facto alliance between Syria and Iraq could also evolve into something more permanent.

There has been some lurid talk in recent years of a supposedly menacing ‘Shiite crescent’ stretching all the way from Lebanon through Syria and Iraq to Iran.

This is a wild fantasy.  The Syrian government is not Shiite but secular, and is supported by many and probably most of Syria’s Sunnis.  Though there are Shiite sectarians in Iraq, and though they are for the moment in the ascendant, opinion polls show that the majority of Iraqis – Sunnis and Shiites – reject religious sectarianism, and oppose attempts to divide them on religious grounds.

I would add that the supposed conflict between Shiites and Sunnis in the Middle East is anyway largely misunderstood in the West, which wrongly interprets it through the prism of early modern Europe’s very different Protestant-Catholic conflict.  In reality non-Salafi/Wahhabi Sunnis – who are the great majority of Sunnis – have theologically far more in common with Shia Muslims than they do with the Salafi/Wahhabi Sunni Muslims who make up the various Jihadi movements.

Though it is wrong therefore to speak of a ‘Shiite crescent’, it does seem that an evolving geopolitical alignment pitting Iran, Iraq, Lebanon and Syria against Israel and a group of Arab states led by Saudi Arabia may be in the process of forming.

If so then that will be a direct result of US and Saudi policy, which in the case of Syria and Iraq, by trying to weaken both, is bringing these former foes together.

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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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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Via RT


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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