Category: Iran
The United States of… False Flags
US President Donald Trump delivers remarks at the National Republican Congressional Committee March Dinner in Washington, US, March 21, 2017.

The United States of… False Flags

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Finian Cunningham
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The United States government is the world leader in purveying false flags and propaganda stunts. Or, more generally, downright, systematic lies. To justify the outrageous violation of international law, wars and aggression.

Current president and Commander-in-Chief, Donald Trump, is himself the object of fraudulent US intelligence, accused of “collusion with Russian agents.” In a rare admission, the Washington Times this week described the US intel dossier against Trump as “riddled with fiction.”Yet, ironically, Trump, in turn, serves as a shameless conduit for US propaganda to fuel conflict with Syria and North Korea.

In the latter case, a world war could break out at any moment as a result of insane American goading. The dispatch of a US nuclear-powered submarine to the Korean Peninsula this week is just another reckless provocation by Trump.

On Syria, the Trump administration has slapped on more economic sanctions over an alleged chemical weapons incident earlier this month. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the “sweeping sanctions” were because of “Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad’s horrific chemical weapons attack on innocent men, women and children.”Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said the latest US sanctions were “unfounded” since there is no proof that the Syrian government used chemical weapons in Idlib Province on April 4.

Indeed, several respected international authorities, such as American professor Theodore Postol, a weapons expert at MIT, have dismissed official US claims about the chemical incident. The only “proof” provided by the US government and Western media are videos of alleged victims. That is, videos supplied by al Qaeda-linked terrorists and their media agents known as the White Helmets. This terror nexus is a creation of US, British and French military intelligence, financed with Saudi and Qatari money.

Thus, the April 4 chemical incident in Idlib was plausibly a “false flag” staged by Western-sponsored terrorist proxies to elicit American military attack on Syria. In other words, innocent people, including children, were murdered with lethal chemicals, and the whole macabre spectacle videoed for dissemination by the Western news media. It would not be the first time. The August 2013 “chemical weapons” incident near Damascus was probably also another macabre set-up by the terror groups.So, here we have an American president citing a false flag orchestrated by his own intelligence agencies to justify his subsequent order for a missile strike on Syria on April 7. And now we see the US government slapping punitive sanctions on Syria as a further warped response.

Of huge significance is the fact that the US, Britain and France have blocked Russian, Iranian and Syrian demands for an impartial on-site investigation to be carried out in the town of Khan Shaykhun where the chemical incident allegedly happened. As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov pointed out, the Western powers do not want to find out what really happened because that would interfere with their agenda for regime change in Syria.By way of shoring up the false narrative on Syria, this week US media carried “reports” alleging that North Korea has been supplying the Syrian government with chemical weapons technology. As usual, no verifiable evidence is presented, just more bombastic assertions and concocted claims.

But we can see where this is going. US intelligence, mouthed by its president and controlled media, are laying down dots to entice the Western public to join up with false logic and prejudice, all so that the US authorities can give themselves a legal, moral mandate to justify aggression. Conveniently, the contrived North Korea-Syria connection allows for two birds to be hit with one stone.

US Interventions in World Politics: Infographic
© AFP 2017/ AHMAD AL-RUBAYE

The pattern of deception here by the US government, aided and abetted by propagandizing “news services,” is classic modus operandi. Time and again, down through history, the US ruling class have used false flags, distortion and outright lies to promote their hegemonic desires of inciting war, conflict and aggression.For a country like the United States, which has been waging war on other foreign nations for over 95 per cent of its history since its foundation as a modern state in 1776, it only stands to reason that such an astounding record of belligerence, decade-after-decade, must inevitably require a concomitant warmongering propaganda system in order to make it all possible.

We could mention, for example, the deliberate sinking of one of its own warships, the USS Maine, in Havana Harbor in 1898, which was used to instigate the Spanish-American War. That war was key to the US emerging as an imperial power in the Western Hemisphere.

The later sinking of the civilian passenger ship, the Lusitania, in 1915 off Ireland is another case of deliberate sabotage, to frame-up the Germans, which the US then used to launch itself into the First World War.More recently, the fabricated US claims of Afghanistan sheltering al-Qaeda terrorists and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were invoked to sell American wars of revenge for 9/11 terror attacks in New York, which were themselves most probably propaganda stunts staged by US intelligence.

Another flagrant case of US authorities mounting a false flag was the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which served as a pretext for American escalation of the Vietnam War. In 1964, communist North Vietnam was framed up for allegedly firing on a US navy vessel. That incident allowed the US government to dispatch conventional armed forces to Vietnam. Some 50,000 US troops were killed in that 10-year war, as well as three million Vietnamese. The only beneficiaries were US corporations and the Pentagon war machine.

Of course, the US is not unique in using false pretexts to cover for acts of war and criminality. But there can be little doubt from any objective study of history that the US stands out – without any compare – as the biggest purveyor of false flags, lies and propaganda to promote its warmongering. Warmongering that has destroyed dozens of countries around the world and inflicted tens of millions of deaths.Today, we are on another cusp of US-led war. Syria has been set up with a brazen false flag over chemical weapons, which in all probability is a sickening charade by Western-sponsored terror groups.

Russia and Iran, by extension, are smeared as part of an “axis of evil” by the US propaganda system owing to their otherwise principled alliance with Syria to defeat Western-backed terrorist proxies.

Most alarming is the US false flag effort against North Korea. This small, independent nation, which is not at war with anybody, is, in fact, a victim of American aggression – an aggression involving the sailing of nuclear-powered submarines and warships to its coastal waters.And yet US President Trump, whose country has thousands of nuclear weapons enough to destroy the entire planet, is labeling North Korea as the “world’s number one threat.”

The United States is the most dangerous terrorist force on Earth, largely because it is run by rulers who forge lies all the time for waging wars and obliterating humans. The supposed Commander-in-Chief President Donald Trump is himself a target of US lies. Can you get any more deranged than that?

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

‘$64 question: Where is US evidence Assad behind Idlib chemical attack?’
‘$64 question: Where is US evidence Assad behind Idlib chemical attack?’
Trump’s ‘Wag the dog’ gambit in Syria echoes the 1983 Reagan invasion of Grenada to distract attention from the tragedy of US marines being blown up in Lebanon. It is also a signal to China and Iran, says historian Gerald Horne.

The US says its missile strike on the Syrian airbase was in retaliation for the chemical attack in Idlib province which killed scores of civilians on Tuesday. However, Damascus firmly rejects any involvement.

America’s UN envoy Nikki Haley held up images, purporting to show child victims of the chemical incident. She said it bears all the hallmarks of the Assad regime’s use of chemicals.

The Russian Foreign Ministry stressed that no probe into Syrian government involvement in the Idlib attack had been conducted yet. Spokesperson Maria Zakharova pointed out that, despite the US calling for an investigation, the country then went on to destroy the planes they wanted to investigate, adding that it has nothing to do with establishing the truth.

The US ambassador to the UN insists though that the evidence exists.

RT: Nikki Haley referred to “classified” evidence proving that Bashar Assad was responsible for the chemical incident in Idlib province. If they really have this evidence, why do you think they are withholding it from the UN?

Gerald Horne: That is the $64 question. It reminds us that after the last chemical attack in August 2013, the highly regarded journalist in the US Seymour Hersh did an investigation which pointed to the culprits in that particular attack was not the Damascus regime or President Assad but in fact, the rebels assisted by their external allies. Then, of course, there is a legal question. That is to say, where the UN resolution that authorized this attack on Syria is? I take it that there was no imminent threat of a Syrian attack on the US. So, I am wondering what is the legal justification in international law for the US attack in Syria. Then there is the question of domestic law. That is to say the US Constitution gives Congress the right and the authority to allow the US to go to war, there is no existing credible resolution from Congress that would have authorized this attack on Syria. And then there is a political question. It is well-known Trump was facing a range of scandals, and it is also well-known that there is a history of US presidents facing difficulties at home waging war abroad. This was the plot of the widely popular movie of 1997 called Wag the Dog and certain pundits are calling this the ‘Wag the Dog’ gambit by Mr. Trump. And I also recall that in 1983, the day after US marines were blown up in Lebanon, Ronald Reagan, the US president invaded the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada to distract attention from that tragedy. This attack on Syria has echoes of 1983.

RT: Despite the bombardment, the al-Shayrat base is still functional, and planes have been taking off from there. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said it’s a “serious mistake”. What’s the logic behind that? Should Assad be getting permission from Washington to use his own base in his own country?

GH: Obviously, that is ridiculous and ludicrous, but we have to keep our eye on the ball and recognize that there is a larger game at play. Keep in mind that there had been repeated confrontations in the first few months of 2017 between Iranian speed boats and US vessels in the Persian Gulf. It is no secret Mr. Trump is hostile to the Iranian regime. It is no secret that he would like to see regime change in Tehran. And since Iran is a major supporter of the Damascus-based regime, it seems to me that these missiles aimed at Damascus were also incidentally aimed at Tehran. Likewise, I don’t find it coincidental or accidental that President Xi Jinping was in Florida at the same time that Mr. Trump authorized this attack on Syria. Not only because Mr. Trump was placing pressure on China to place pressure on its ally in North Korea…But also there is a lot of hysteria in the US about the rise of China. And this muscle-flexing on the part of Mr. Trump was also a signal to China just as in 1999 the US “accidently” attacked the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade as a way to give a signal, not so subtle, to China.

Iranian political scientist Kaveh Afrasiabi, commented on the US ambassador to the UN’s statement that the US needs to “get the Iranian influence out” of Syria: “I could only conjecture that she means the US is going to increase its creeping intervention inside Syria and throw its weight behind various rebel groups in order to roll back against what the Syrian government, with the backing of Russia and Iran, has made over the past two years.”

“This reflects the roll-backing strategy on the part of the US that is very unfortunate because it transpires at a very delicate time in the peace process when the talks between the Syrian government and opposition in Astana are proceeding as well as a parallel track in the European capitals,” he continued.

In Afrasiabi’s view, the US’ attack on the Syrian airbase “was meant to torpedo the peace process” which is part of the strategy “held by the leadership in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.”

“They see growing Iranian influence, and they want to reverse that,” Afrasiabi told RT.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Daesh, Creature of the West
| March 24, 2017 | 9:28 pm | Analysis, Iran, political struggle, Russia, Syria, Turkey | No comments
This image posted online on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2016, by supporters of the Islamic State militant group on an anonymous photo sharing website, purports to show a gunman firing at an unseen target, east of of Palmyra, east of Palmyra city, in Homs provence, Syria

Daesh, Creature of the West

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James Shea, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Emerging Threats at NATO – now that’s a lovely title – recently gave a talk at a private club in London on the Islamic State/Daesh. Shea, as many will remember, made his name as NATO’s spokesman during the NATO war on Yugoslavia in 1999.

After his talk Shea engaged in a debate with a source I very much treasure. The source later gave me the lowdown.

According to Saudi intelligence, Daesh was invented by the US government – in Camp Bacca, near the Kuwait border, as many will remember — to essentially finish off the Shiite-majority Nouri al-Maliki government in Baghdad.

It didn’t happen this way, of course. Then, years later, in the summer of 2014, Daesh routed the Iraqi Army on its way to conquer Mosul. The Iraqi Army fled. Daesh operatives then annexed ultra-modern weapons that took US instructors from six to twelve months to train the Iraqis in and…surprise! Daesh incorporated the weapons in their arsenals in 24 hours.In the end, Shea frankly admitted to the source that Gen David Petraeus, conductor of the much-lauded 2007 surge, had trained these Sunnis now part of Daesh in Anbar province in Iraq.

Saudi intelligence still maintains that these Iraqi Sunnis were not US-trained – as Shea confirmed – because the Shiites in power in Baghdad didn’t allow it. Not true. The fact is the Daesh core – most of them former commanders and soldiers in Saddam Hussein’s army — is indeed a US-trained militia.

True to form, at the end of the debate, Shea went on to blame Russia for absolutely everything that’s happening today – including Daesh terror.

Mr. Sykes and Monsieur Picot, you’re dead

Now let’s go back to the proclamation of the Daesh Caliphate in June 29, 2014. That was choreographed as a symbolic abolition of the Sykes-Picot border that split the Middle East a century ago. At the same time, abandoning the option of a military push to take Baghdad, Daesh chose to regionalize and internationalize the fight, creating their own transnational state and denouncing regional states as “impostors”. All that coupled with the amp up of any chaos strategy capable of horrifying Western public opinion.For large swathes of a Sunni Arab audience, this was powerful stuff. Daesh was proclaiming themselves, in a warped manner, as the sole real heir of the different Arab Springs; the only totally autonomous regional movement, depending exclusively on its own local base, made up of numerous Bedouin tribes.

But how did we get here?

Let’s go back once again – now to Iraq in the 1990s, during the Clinton era. The strategic logic at the time spelled out an instrumentalization of UN resolutions — with Washington de facto controlling Iraq’s oil, manipulating the price as a means of pressure over trade competitors much more dependent on Iraqi oil such as China, Japan and selected European nations.9/11 turned this state of affairs upside down – leading to the 2003 neocon ideological stupidity and subsequent amateurism managing an occupation in total ignorance of history and the ultra-complex dynamics between the Iraqi state and society. Saddam Hussein was the de facto last avatar of a political arrangement invented by imperial Britain in 1920. With the invasion and occupation, the Iraq state collapsed. And the Cheney regime had no clue what to do with it.

There was no Sunni alternative. So Plan B, under major pressure by Shiites and Kurds, was to give voice to the majority. The problem is political parties ended up being religious and ethnic parties. The partition of power, Lebanese-style — Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds – turned out to be a dysfunctional nightmare.

Between 2005 and 2008, this American attempt to rebuild the Iraqi state yielded a horrendous confessional civil war between Sunnis and Shiites. The Sunnis lost. And that largely explains the subsequent success of Daesh in creating a “Sunniland”.

The US occupation-Arab Spring love affair

Now let’s turn to the Syrian version of the Arab Spring in February/March 2011. Initial protests against Assad’s iron rule were peaceful – multi-communitarian and multi-confessional. But soon anti-Alawite rancor started to radicalize a significant part of the Sunni majority.

As historian Pierre-Jean Luizard, a specialist in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon at the French CNRS reminds us, Syria was the favorite land of Hanbalism – a most conservative branch of Sunni Islam that highly influenced the emergence of Wahhabism in the Arabian Peninsula. That implies a virulent anti-Shiism. Thus the emergence among the Syrian armed opposition of multiple Salafi-jihadi groups, most of all Jabhat al-Nusra – a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria.

Meanwhile, Assad fine-tuned a message to the West and his own Sunni bourgeoisie oscilating between allegiance and dissidence; it’s me, or chaos. Chaos ensued, anyway; horrendous structural violence, all-around institutional decrepitude, total territorial fragmentation.

So it’s fair to argue that both US occupation and the Syrian Arab Spring ended up producing the same result. With some differences; in Iraq, Daesh enjoys the (silent) support of a majority of Sunni Arabs. In Syria, Sunnis are divided; Daesh may rule the desert — Bedouin culture, but it’s Jabhat al-Nusra that captured significant Sunni support in big urban centers such as Aleppo. In Iraq, the borders between the three large communities – Sunni, Shiite, Kurd – are more or less frozen. In Syria, it’s a never-ending jigsaw puzzle.

What happens next is a mystery. The de facto independence of Iraq Kurdistan may solidify. The Baghdad government may increasingly represent only Shiites. Yet it’s hard to see Daesh consolidating its control of Sunni Iraq – not with the ongoing Battle of Mosul.

Blowback rules the wilderness of mirrors

It’s easy to dismiss Daesh as the apex of barbarian cultural idiosyncrasies. Even wallowing in gruesomeness, Daesh has been able to project a universalist dimension beyond its Sunni Arab Middle Eastern base. It’s like the clash of civilizations playing in a wilderness of mirrors. Daesh amplifies the clash not between East and West, or the Arab world and the Atlanticist hegemon, but mostly between a certain (warped) conception of Islam and assorted infidels. Daesh “welcomes” everyone, even Catholic Europeans while persecuting Arab infidels and bad Muslims.

It’s no wonder the Caliphate — a concrete utopia on the ground – finds an echo among young lone wolves living in the West. Because Daesh insists on the colonial Franco-British – and then neocolonial American — history of Muslims being trampled upon by a dominating, infidel West, they manage to channel a diffuse sentiment of injustice among the young.

Everyone – US, France, Britain, Russia, Iran — is now at war with Daesh (Turkey only half-heartedly, as well as the House of Saud and the GCC petrodollar gang; for them this not a priority.)But this is a war without a serious political long-term perspective. No one is discussing the place for Sunni Arabs in an Iraq dominated by the Shiite majority; how to put the Syrian state back together; or whether private donors to Daesh from Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the Emirates will simply disappear.

The encirclement of Raqqa and the re-conquest of Mosul will mean absolutely nothing if the causes of Daesh’s initial success are not addressed. It starts with the West’s mission civilisatrice as the cover story for unbounded colonial domination, and it straddles the methodical, inexorable, slow motion American destruction of Iraq. Blowback will continue to reign over the wilderness of mirrors; an attack near the British Parliament by a knife-carrying lone wolf “soldier answering “its call” killing four people mirrored by US jets bombing a school near Raqqa killing thirty-three civilians.

Petraeus may have trained them in the deserts of Al-Anbar. But most of all that rough beast, slouching towards Camp Bacca to be born, bore the touch of a Western mind.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

The ‘Birth Pangs’ of a New Middle East, Remixed
Villages in north-eastern Syria liberated from ISIL

The ‘Birth Pangs’ of a New Middle East, Remixed

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You all remember former US Secretary of State Condi Rice’s notorious 2006 prediction about “birth pangs of a New Middle East.” True to the George “Dubya” Bush/Cheney regime, Condi got it all spectacularly wrong, not only about Lebanon and Israel but also Iraq, Syria and the House of Saud.

The Obama administration duly maintained a tradition that we could, light-heartedly, call The Sex Pistols School of Foreign Policy (“no future for you”). That’s perfectly exemplified by unflappable Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in just a few sentences.Zakharova points out how Team Obama “didn’t have a consistent Syrian strategy in entire eight years: one day we bomb it, the next day we don’t, one day we pull out of Syria, the next day we go in.” That’s because “one branch of government did not understand what the other branch was doing.” And in the end “they just went ahead and dropped all Syrian politics without seeing it to its logical end. Then they focused on Aleppo, but not on resolving this situation, but solely on building up hysteria and an information campaign geared exclusively to the elections.”

And that leads us to the adults in the room in the Trump era, the ones that are actually monitoring the birth pangs of the real new Middle East: Russia.

That Iranian base in Latakia

Let’s start with the recent visit by Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu to President Putin.Bibi hit Moscow infused with biblical wishful thinking, essentially trying to seduce Putin to ditch the strategic partnership with Iran – complete with joining the much advertised, US-led from behind “Arab NATO” anti-Iran, anti-Shiite coalition featuring Israel coupled with the GCC petrodollar racket plus minor associates (Jordan and Morocco).

Bibi is desperate because Iran, with facts on the ground (Iranian and Hezbollah fighters) in partnership with Russian facts in the air, is actually winning the Syria proxy war for Damascus. And whatever happens next, post-Astana negotiations, Tehran will keep a permanent foothold in Syria – much to the ballistic outrage of the NATO-GCC-Israel combo.

A parallel implication is that Israel can’t attack southern Lebanon anymore. Last month, in Tehran, I had the confirmation that Hezbollah has now up to 40,000 fighters stationed and/or monitoring a maze of underground installations ready to defend Lebanon from everything; that’s up to ten times more than in 2006, an invasion that resulted in a humiliating Israeli retreat.

Ther’s nothing that Bibi could have offered Putin – apart from a hazy, unsubstantiated promise to order the powerful Israeli lobby in D.C. to soften hysterical, 24/7 Russia demonization.

Meanwhile, reports emerged that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad gave the green light for an Iranian naval base in Latakia, close to the Hmeymim airbase used by Russi’s Aerospace Forces. That came after Mohammad Bagheri, Chief of Iran’s General Staff, stressed that the Iranian Navy would soon need bases in Syria and Yemen.

Tehran sent mostly military advisers and instructors to Syria but the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) also contributed with hardcore soldiers.In Tehran, I had the pleasure of meeting Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari, the top IRGC commander and a supreme tactician/organizer specialized in asymmetrical warfare, his vast experience acquired during the Iran-Iraq war and Hezbollah success in Lebanon in 2006.

That’s like meeting Marine Corps. Gen Joseph Dunford, the head of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff – but without the pomp and circumstance. A courteous, graceful man, Jafari did not have time to get into details, but other sources confirmed that without his battle-hardened knowledge Damascus by now would have been in big trouble.

What Russia wants in Syria

Then there’s an interview by Russian Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Mikhail Bogdanov, former ambassador in Tel Aviv and Cairo, and now also Putin’s special representative in the Middle East, that has, metaphorically, parted the Red Sea all over again.

Bogdanov offered to Arab audiences a concise guide to Russia’s Middle East policy – the absolute opposite of loony US neocon regime change dementia.

He compared the “tens of thousands” of foreign Salafi-jihadi mercenaries at war with Damascus to the Russia-Iran military presence officially request by “the legitimate government.” He dismissed the warped notion of Iran exporting the Islamic revolution (that applied to the early 1980s). He stressed how Moscow wants some sort of US-Iran entente cordiale – with (unlikely) the House of Saud on board. Negotiations could be held in Moscow or elsewhere.

The Kremlin, as Bogdanov expressed it, wants a secular Syria, beyond sectarianism, springing up out of free and fair elections supervised by the UN. Predictably, his words barely masked Moscow’s exasperation with Washington’s obsession in keeping Tehran out of Syrian peace negotiations. And he firmly dismissed the “moderate rebels,” whose only goal is “Assad must go” to stand trial in The Hague (“With this goal, the war can go on forever”).

And then, the clincher: “Russia wants to abide by international legitimacy. We are committed to the principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of any country, including non-interference in our internal affairs. We respect the democratic process and not color revolutions.”

Team Trump members might entertain the wishful thinking notion that Moscow will ditch Tehran – not only in Syria but in terms of Eurasia integration. Not a chance. Yet tell that to the House of Saud.

The House of Saud spent fortunes investing in Salafi-jihadi provoked regime change in Syria and an unwinnable war on Yemen conducted with US weapons that has generated a massive famine. Moscow might be able, with time, to instill some geopolitical sense into Riyadh. Once again, not a chance. Because the House of Saud is now convinced their best ally is President Trump.Geopolitically cornered, unable to shackle itself off its trademark paranoia, the House of Saud decided to go on the offensive, with King Salman investing in a lavish Asian tour, Beijing included, where he signed a rash of deals, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman – actually The Warrior Prince, responsible for the civilian tragedy in Yemen – courting Trump in Washington.

The resulting spin now rules that Saudi Arabia will be an influential “close consultant” to Trump on Middle East security and economy, including the Palestinian tragedy and the Iran nuclear deal. No Dante circle of hell could have provided a more perfect “birth pangs” recipe for unmitigated disaster in a new Middle East.

All eyes on the Syrian Kurds

Predictably, neither Moscow nor Tehran was invited for the anti-Daesh meeting of 68 nations hosted by Washington next week. Yet another chapter of hardcore information war; for US public opinion, Russia and Iran simply cannot be allowed to be perceived as actually fighting – and winning — a real war on terror.Smash Daesh is a major Trump campaign promise. He won’t do it with several hundred US Marines with their sights on Raqqa – by the way, technically a minor invasion, because Damascus did not request their presence. So it’s back to Plan A, a.k.a. the Syrian Kurds.

First the top US commander in the Middle East, General Joseph Votel, went to Kobane to pledge Pentagon support for the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Then the Pentagon released its (revised) Trump-ordered strategy to defeat Daesh, which boils down to No Sleep Till Raqqa.

That implies a brand new geopolitical alignment. Team Obama – especially the CIA and the State Department — was hostage to Turkey’s view of the Syrian Kurds as “terrorists.” Not Trump. And not Bogdanov, by the way: “Why Turkey agreed on Iraqi Kurdistan, but does not agree to the Kurdistan in Syria? I think that this is not their business. This is an Iraqi affair and Syrian affair. Syrian people and not the Russian or Turkish state should decide.”

The Pentagon is, to put it mildly, fed up with Ankara. For many reasons: from the non-stop purges (which get rid of strategically placed American assets) to the Turkey-Russia rapprochement, inbuilt in Erdogan’s threat to pivot East for good in case Washington supports the Syrian Kurds and/or does not extradite Fethullah Gulen, accused by Erdogan of being the mastermind of the failed 2016 military coup against him.

So how about the taste of the new blueberry cheesecake in town; Washington, Moscow and Tehran all allied behind the Syrian Kurds.

It’s complicated, of course. In the Astana negotiations, Turkey, Russia and Iran are theoretically on the same side. Yet Tehran backs some sort of Kurdish autonomy in Syria – an anathema for Erdogan, for whom the only acceptable Kurdish autonomy is for his Barzani-controlled friends in Iraqi Kurdistan.

So it’s up to Moscow to strike a balancing act – trying to explain to Ankara that there’s no other way apart from Syrian Kurd self-administration in a future Syrian federal state. The concept is extremely ambitious; Moscow aims to show East and West how the Syrian Kurds, as a real non-Islamist, secular Syrian actor, are the perfect instrument to fight Daesh and other forms of Salafi-jihadism.

No wonder Saudi Arabia is not impressed; fighting Daesh was never their priority. But what really matters is that Ankara is not convinced.

Erdogan has his total focus on the upcoming referendum that may turn him into a sort of Presidential Sultan. To win decisively he must court Turkish nationalism by all means necessary. At the same time, geopolitically, he cannot go against Russia/Iran and Washington in one go.Only a few weeks ago no one would have imagined the Syrian Kurds harboring potential strategic leverage capable of turning Middle East geopolitics – linked to Asia, Africa and Europe — upside down. China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) – that building frenzy of ports, pipelines, high-speed rail — firmly targets the Southwest Asia passage, from Iran (a key hub) to Saudi Arabia (China’s top oil supplier). Syria is also a future OBOR hub – and for that Syria must be peaceful and free of Salafi-jihadis. In silent, discreet Eurasia integration fashion, China supports what Russia and Iran are deciding.

By now it’s much clearer who’s configuring the birth pagans of a new Middle East. It’s not Israel. It’s not the House of Saud. And it’s not exactly Trump.

 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

On Contact: The Hidden Tragedy of the Vietnam War with Nick Turse
| January 15, 2017 | 2:37 pm | Analysis, Imperialism, Iran, Iraq, Vietnam | No comments

Back to the Future: From the USSR to the Eurasian Century
| January 4, 2017 | 9:37 pm | Analysis, China, Iran, political struggle, Russia, USSR | No comments
15:57 25.12.2016(updated 16:02 25.12.2016)
Pepe Escobar
A quarter of a century ago, on the night of December 25, 1991, the red flag was lowered from the Kremlin cupola – and the USSR was no more. Arguably what President Putin later described, in 2005, as “the biggest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” doubled as the most comprehensive fall of an empire in modern history. Way beyond the historical archives of Marxism-Leninism suddenly being besieged by graphic, glitzy signs of conspicuous consumption, what developed on a personal level was a “real drama” (again, Putin’s words) of millions of Russians suddenly thrown out of the federation, dispersed among 12 new republics scattered across Eurasia. The world went unipolar in a flash; one form of totalitarianism disappeared to the profit of another, supported by two key pillars; NATO, propelled to the role of global Robocop, and the exorbitant privilege of printing the US dollar as a fiat currency. Breathless neo-Hegelian functionaries of Empire hastily proclaimed the end of History. To widespread neocon glee, that seemed to erase the 1987 verdict of Yale historian Paul Kennedy in The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, who stressed that the global American empire, like all empires that came before, was declining. Everyone remembers December 25, 1991. Please allow me a brief personal interlude. On that fateful winter night, I was by the Ganges, in Varanasi, immersed in more spiritual matters. Being on the road non-stop, across Southeast Asia, and then in India, Nepal and booming China, way before the 24/7 instant com era, I only grasped the enormity of what had happened after I boarded the Transiberian from Beijing and arrived in USSR-deprived Moscow over two months after the fact. It was that trip that made me leave the West to learn Asia from the inside, and follow what I would later characterize as The Eurasian Century. The go-go 1990s were heady times. Bill Clinton gleefully implemented the neocon Wolfowitz doctrine. Russia was raped by a bunch of Western remote-controlled oligarchs. NATO progressively reveled in its deeper role, as Lord Ismay had conceptualized, of “keeping the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down”. After all, since Dr. Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski had led David Rockefeller to install the Trilateral Commission in 1973, the Big Picture was always to secure US power to prevail over every other national state, thus conforming what was dubbed “global governance”. That was further expanded early in the new millennium via the Pentagon’s Full Spectrum Dominance doctrine. By then Vladimir Putin, in 2000, had stepped onto the geopolitical stage. Only three years ago, Mikhail Gorbachev stressed Putin “saved Russia from disintegration”. Arguably, he engineered much else. Twenty-five years after the fall of the USSR, Putin is the one and only geopolitical king maker; the prime deconstructor of the myth of Western liberal “democracy” – be it of the neocon or the neoliberalcon, “humanitarian imperialistic” variety; and the smasher-in-chief of the Mother of All Geopolitical Myths: the supposedly God-given, exceptional, perennial domination of the unipolar superpower. Pentagon vs. Pentagon The 2008 casino capitalism-provoked financial crisis, plus the American “resolve” to remake the so-called Greater Middle East through wars of choice, regime change and covert ops miserably failed. As we wait for the dawn of the Trump era – an almost intergalactic geopolitical question mark – what’s certain is that the War Party US deep state won’t admit defeat. And the key geopolitical riddle to be answered is how strident internal American tensions will deal with the hub of progressive Eurasia integration: Russia, China and Iran. Key to watch will be the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joseph “Fighting Joe” Dunford, and how he will interpret the US National Military Strategy. The crucial part of the strategy is a five-part annex detailing America’s top existential threats. In Pentagonese, they are the “four-plus-one”: Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and (the “plus one”), “VEOs” — violent extremist organizations. The Pentagon itself is divided. For the National Military Strategy, and for “Fighting Joe”, the top threat is Russia. For “Mad Dog” Mattis, the new head of the Pentagon, it’s Iran. For a lot of Joint Chiefs of Staff officers, it’s actually the VEOs, especially ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. So the crucial question is who will Trump be really listening to. Putin already cut to the chase – when he spoke at the defense ministry’s HQ in Moscow before the holiday season; “We can say with certainty: we are stronger now than any potential aggressor.” And he added; “Anyone.” This after Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stressed Russia “for the first time in its history” has fully protected the extensive Russian borders with early warning anti-missile systems. The Pentagon must be processing the information with extreme seriousness. That means, essentially, that before the S-500s were fully rolled out, Moscow could not but exercise extreme prudence. Now Russian air space seems to be effectively sealed. Putin could not actually admit on the record that Russia is the strongest military power in the world until the rollout of the S-500s is complete. All US offensive missiles and stealth aircraft as it stands are rendered useless. And that does no even take into account nuclear weaponized Russian silent submarines. Putin’s frank admission is extremely surprising, because the nature of Russian strategy is always to conceal strength. Yet in the new, geopolitical configuration, possibly a preamble to post-Cold War 2.0, the most important element was to send a clear preemptive “message” to the Pentagon. At his year-end presser, Putin also remarked that, “what we have between Russia and China is more than just a strategic partnership.” That was another subtle but clear message to any actors, inside or around the US deep state, Brzezinski included, or inside or lateral to the Trump administration, bent on deploying the usual Divide and Rule tactics to play Russia against China; moreover, the three crucial Eurasian actors, Russia, China and Iran, have already agreed on a mutual defense policy. So any fancy Pentagon ideas on Iran instantly hit a no-go area. We might be reaching a possible geopolitical configuration where it’s not far-fetched to expect some sort of Grand Bargain involving the US and the three key hubs of Eurasia integration; a sort of Interregnum Détente before an extended Cold War 2.0, instigated by the US deep state, picks up again. It was only 25 years ago today. That was not the end of History; rather the preamble for a brand new historical drama. Get ready, because the thick of the action starts now. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position of Sputnik.

Read more: https://sputniknews.com/columnists/201612251048980320-ussr-eurasian-century/

None of Trump’s Foreign Policy Appointment Match Campaign Rhetoric
| November 20, 2016 | 6:41 pm | Analysis, Donald Trump, Iran, Iraq, political struggle, Syria | No comments