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Trump couldn’t engage in detente with Russia, but America’s Middle East allies have

Russia is ‘leading from the front’ by creating partnerships with states in the Middle East, just as the US ‘lead from behind’ strategy of employing non-state proxy actors to achieve its aims, has failed.

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Over the last two months, Russia has been using increasingly direct language to state the following:

–The US spares terrorists in Syria including al-Nusrea

–The biggest attacks on Syrian and Russian troops in Deir ez-Zor come from US-proxy SDF held positions

–The US and its proxies collude on the battle field with ISIS

–ISIS moves freely around US controlled areas in Syria and attacks Syrian and Russian forces from those positions

These are incredibly serious allegations, although they are little different than what the Syrian government has been saying for many years. The allegations amount to backing up Damascus, Wikileaks and some of things said by candidate Trump, implying that the US is seriously in cahoots with ISIS, that the known US proxy SDF is a also in cahoots with ISIS and is de-facto a militant group working to undermine Syria’s security and territorial unity and that the US is not actually fighting terrorism in Syria, contrary to boasts from Washington.

In this sense, Russia has seemingly given up on trying to insensitivity the US into cooperation and is instead telling blunt truths about the negative role the US plays in Syrian conflict, truths that Russia had previously been less reticent to spell out so overtly. While Russia has more or less given up on Washington, Moscow remains highly eager to work with traditional US allies throughout the Middle East and Eurasia, many of whom are now equally eager to work with Russia and take advantages of the many benefits of good relations with the Eurasian super-power.

Israel, which is a close US ally and a country that still maintains good relations with Russia, has also weighed in on this new reality. Hardline, Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman has recently said that the US must do more in the region to counter Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and refreshed Arab powers like Syria. While Israel does not necessarily mind Russia’s military presence in the region, Tel Aviv is well aware that Russia’s geo-political strategy in the Middle East is one balance and generally, one of fairness. This contrasts with the adversarial US approach, which virtually always takes Israel’s side over that of any country having a dispute with Tel Aviv. With Russia becoming a more important player in the region and with the US slowly but surely coming to realise its own failures, Israel will have to get used to the Russian language of compromise becoming increasingly prominent. Clearly Israel would prefer US language of undying pro-Israeli rhetoric, but realities are changing and Israel knows this.

While all this is being said, America’s two most prominent state allies in the region, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, are speaking more and more like Russia. Turkey is now standing with Iran and Iraq in saying Ankara has a commitment to the territorial integrity of Syria, Iraq and the wider Arab world and just yesterday the Saudi Foreign Minister said the same, even going further stating that Riyadh supports the stability of the political institutions of Syria. When decoding the diplomatic language, Saudi is essentially saying that it has dropped its long held militant opposition to the secular government of Syrian Prettiness Bashar al-Assad. During a recent meeting of the so-called Syrian opposition in Saudi, the Saudi regime delegates more or less said the same thing.

Saudi FM offers thinly veiled criticism of US during press conference with Sergey Lavrov

Just as Russia’s new found partnership with Turkey has brought Ankara’s leadership closer to Moscow’s regional partners, namely Iran, it is now highly probable that the wide ranging meeting between Saudi and Russian leaders in Moscow, could help ease tensions in the Persian Gulf.

Earlier this year, the Qatari Foreign Minister praised Russia’s role of being a neutral power in the Saudi, Bahraini, Emirati and Egyptian row with Qatar. Furthermore, Saudi Arabia which has led the boycott of Qatar, is now also praising Russia, using incredibly warm language, especially when one considers Saudi’s recent positions in the region which ran totally contrary to that of Russia.

In this sense, if any major power is going to ease tensions between Riyadh and Doha, this will likely be Russia.

As I explained yesterday, by creating an intertwined relationship between Saudi and Russia, this is actually good for Iran, as it gives Russia the ability to use economic incentives to quietly tell Saudi to tone down its anti-Iranian rhetoric. In other words, just as Russia brought Turkey and Iran together, that same economic and geo-political influence can now help to at least ease tensions between Riyadh and Tehran. For clear ideological reasons, Tehran and Riyadh will likely never be partners, but nor do they need to live in a state of constant tension. This is now increasingly possible.

Russia and Saudi Arabia: A case of ‘PEACE FOR OIL and OIL FOR PEACE’

Russia has also exposed a great many failures in Saudi’s own 20 year + geo-strategy. For all the money that Saudi has poured into proxy militant and terrorist groups, in attempts to foment regime change, none of it has worked, particularly in Syria. Iraq’s predominately Shi’a government is stabilising and has an ally in not only non-Arab Shi’a Iran but also now in non-Arab Sunni Turkey. Saudi is increasingly having to accept this reality. In Syria, Saudi’s failure is America’s failure and while it was Turkey’s failure, Ankara has saved face by more or less switching to the winning side, before the conflict officially ends.

In respect of Libya, this was always far more of a Qatari “project regime change” than a Saudi one and Saudi’s increasingly close relations with Sisi’s Egypt which supports the secular Libyan House of Representatives, effectively makes Riyadh’s machinations in Libya redundant, as Egypt has taken the lead. Saudi can do little more than tacitly consent to Egypt’s support for Libya’s leading secular faction, led by Khalifa Haftar.

Finally, with oil prices continuing to fall and with China’s progress in renewable energy threatening to keep the oil price down for many years to come, Saudi has found that as a non-OPEC energy producer, Russia may be a more useful economic partner than the United States, not least because quietly many in the Saudi deep state are privately upset that the US deep state favours former Crown Prince Mohammad bin Nayef (MBN) over the current Crown Prince and lead Saudi policy maker, Mohammad bin Salman (MBS).

After years of close relations with the US, Saudi is now discovering what it is like when leading figures in Washington seek to control the internal political workings of one’s state, and the pro-MBS faction which apparently includes the elderly Saudi King, are not entirely happy about that. Hence. the Saudi Foreign Minister stated that both Saudi and Russia are similar in that they do not seek to interfere in the internal workings of other countries, nor impose alien political systems upon foreign states.

Forgetting the fact that in Saudi’s case, this is historically untrue, the intent of the statement is far more crucial than the context. Saudi is saying that it respects Russia’s hands off approach to the internal realities in the countries it works with, while Saudi is expressing its growing exacerbation over US aims for Saudi which some are saying may go as far as to foment a palace coup in Riyadh in favour of MBN and his supporters.

In this sense, one could say that the US observed the Qatar crisis as a test to see how united a Gulfi country’s elites would be in respect of supporting an embattled leader. In Qatar, the Emir has not fallen and this means that the US might have more difficulty than originally thought if they really seek to foment a palace coup in Saudi Arabia.

Russia is also aware that as oil prices inevitably fall in coming years and as Saudi at least attempts to diversify its economy in line with MBS’ ‘Vision 2030’ programme, Saudi may increasingly fall into Russia’s orbit in the next decade.  As an energy producer desperate for unity among non-OPEC producers such as Russia and also as a country that will rely increasingly on the expertise of countries like Russia (and its ally China) to diversify an economy that since the inception of the Saudi state, has been entirely dependant on energy exports, Riyadh may well find itself embracing the so-called ‘eastern’ model of global commerce.

Saudi Arabia may need Russia more than it needs America

Saudi’s keenness to buy Russian weapons and also to purchase a licence to manufacture Kalashnikov automatic riffles, is a further sign that Riyadh seeks military independence from the United States. Unlike the case with Turkey, where Russian weapons were a more economic option, for Saudi Arabia, money is still essentially no object. In this sense, the weapons deals made with Russia are more of a symbolic gesture than an economic one, even when one accounts for the fact that in many instances, Russian weapons are simply more durable and better crafted than more ornate US made devices.

In this sense Russia is playing the long game which necessitates an understanding of where trends in the oil market will bring Saudi (whether they like it or not) in future years, while also playing the immediate term game of ‘leading from the front’ in the Middle East.

While the US has mastered the art of ‘leading from behind’ in the Middle East, first with Sunni jihadists and now Kurdish militants in Syria and to a degree Kurdish secessionists in Iraq, Russia is leading from the position of working openly with the major state players in both the Middle East and Eurasia. This includes Russia’s traditional allies like Syria and increasingly with its old Iraqi ally,  with rejuvenated Eurasian players like Iran and Pakistan and now with traditional US allies Turkey and Saudi.

Ultimately, the Russian strategy seems to be consolidating more meaningful geo-political as well as economic gains than the US strategy. In this sense, America’s failure to respect the sovereignty of states and even the internal political workings of its own allies, has put the US in a position of having to work with proxies and militants in order to attempt and attain its aims.

Russia’s position of respecting all states, no matter how seemingly different a particular state’s geo-politics are from Russia, has paid off and ultimately, unless a proxy force is as strong as that of a state, the state will always win. Russia’s traditional thinking has once again proved to be a more timeless way of doing geo-politics than the dismemberment inducing proxy strategies of Washington. Distrust is often the first step before isolation. If these trends continue, the US may one day be as isolated from Saudi, as it seemingly already is from its once unshakeable ally Turkey.

Furthermore, this is the price the United States is paying for being unwilling and unable to engage in meaningful detente with Russia. Donald Trump’s failure to actively engage with Russia has led Russia to simply engage directly with US allies throughout the world from Turkey and Pakistan and Saudi Arabia and South Korea.

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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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‘Hell on Earth’: MSF doctor tells RT of rape, violence, inhumane conditions in Lesbos refugee camp

One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

Alex Christoforou

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Via RT


One toilet for over 70 people, rape, and mental health issues – a doctor from Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and an aid worker told RT about the dire conditions in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp in Greece.

The overcrowded camp on the island of Lesbos, built to accommodate 3,100, houses around 9,000 people. “It’s a kind of hell on Earth in Europe,” Dr. Alessandro Barberio, an MSF clinical psychiatrist, said, adding that people in the camp suffer from lack of water and medical care. “It is impossible to stay there,” he said.

According to Barberio, asylum seekers are subjected to violence “during night and day.””There is also sexual violence”which leads to “mental health issues,” he said, adding that all categories of people at the camp may be subjected to it. “There is rape against men, women and children,” and the victims of sexual violence in the camp often have nightmares and hallucinations, Barberio told RT.

Asylum seekers in Moria “are in constant fear of violence,” and these fears are not groundless, the psychiatrist said. “Such cases [of violence] take place every week.”

There is “one toilet for 72 people, one shower for 84 people. The sanitation is bad. People are suffering from bad conditions,” Michael Raeber, an aid worker at the camp, told RT. They suffer from mental health problems because they are kept for a long time in the camp, according to Raeber.

“There is no perspective, they don’t know how their case will go on, when they will ever be able to leave the island.” The camp is a “place where there is no rule of law,” with rampant violence and drug addiction among the inhabitants, Raeber said.

In its latest report, MSF, which has been working near Moria since late 2017, criticized the unprecedented health crisis in the camp – one of the biggest in Greece. About a third of the camp population consists of children, and many of them have harmed themselves, and have thought about or attempted suicide, according to the group.

Barberio was behind an MSF open letter on the state of emergency in Moria, released on Monday, in which he writes that he has never “witnessed such overwhelming numbers of people suffering from serious mental health conditions.”

Calling the camp an “island prison,” he insisted that many of his patients in the camp are unable to perform basic everyday functions, “such as sleeping, eating well, maintaining personal hygiene, and communicating.”

A number of human rights groups have strongly criticized the conditions at the camp and Greece’s “containment policy”regarding asylum seekers.

Christina Kalogirou, the regional governor of the North Aegean, which includes Lesbos, has repeatedly threatened to shut down the facility unless the government improves the conditions. On Tuesday, government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that Greece will move 2,000 asylum seekers out of the severely overcrowded camp and send them to the mainland by the end of September.

Greece, like other EU states, is experiencing the worst refugee crisis since WWII. According to International Organization for Migration estimates, 22,000 asylum seekers have arrived in Greece since the start of this year alone.

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