Tag: Civil War

Another Step Back from the Slaughter in Yemen

President Biden has reversed Trump’s designation of the Yemeni Houthis as terrorists.

This is significant in a number of ways:

  • It facilitates humanitarian aid in the war-ravaged nation.
  • It simplifies any US role in negotiations regarding a permanent resolution of the conflict.
  • It is a rebuke to the House of Saud.

 It’s pretty clear that Biden is less favorably inclined toward Riyadh than either Trump of Obama.  (It should be noted that Obama’s go to on intelligence while in office was John Brennan, who was for his entire career a fanatical supporter of the Saudi royal family)

To the degree that the US can disentangle its foreign policy from slavish devotion to the House of Saud, this is a good thing.

Well, It’s a Start

The Biden administration has announced that it is reducing support for military operations by the House of Saud in Yemen.

The details are not in yet, but it appears that the scope of this reduction in support is limited.

It would be nice if US administrations didn’t spend their time coddling the incompetent boy prince of the the Riyadh regime:

Joe Biden has announced an end to US support for Saudi-led offensive operations in Yemen, as part of a broad reshaping of American foreign policy.

In his first foreign policy speech as president, Biden signaled that the US would no longer be an unquestioning ally to the Gulf monarchies, announced a more than eightfold increase in the number of refugees the country would accept, and declared that the days of a US president “rolling over” for Vladimir Putin were over.

“America is back,” Biden declared in remarks delivered at the state department, capping a whiplash fortnight of dramatic foreign policy changes since his 20 January inauguration. “Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.”

Biden said the conflict in Yemen, which has killed more than 100,000 Yemenis and displaced 8 million, had “created a humanitarian and strategic catastrophe”.

“This war has to end,” Biden. “And to underscore our commitment, we’re ending all American support for offensive operations in the war in Yemen, including relevant arm sales.”

However, he said the US would continue to provide defensive support to Saudi Arabia against missile and drone attacks from Iranian-backed forces. US forces will also continue operations against al-Qaida in the Arabian peninsula.

There is a whole lot of wiggle room for a whole lot of mischief by the petty Persian Gulf potentiates to continuing to prosecute their war against the people of Yemen.

The distancing of Washington from Riyadh is one of the most conspicuous reversals of Donald Trump’s agenda, but it also marks a break with the policies pursued by Barack Obama, who had backed the Saudi offensive in Yemen, although he later sought to impose constraints on its air war.

A bipartisan majority in Congress had previously voted to cut off support to the Saudi campaign, citing the civilian death toll and the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. But Trump used his veto to block the move.

The US will also freeze arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and name a special envoy to Yemen, to put more pressure on the Saudis and Emiratis and the Houthi forces they are fighting, to make a lasting peace agreement.

We’ll see how long that lasts.

With Saudi money flooding the lobbying channels inside the Beltway, I expect pushback from the very serious people, and a walk-back from the White House.

Turkey Launches Offensive to Protect al Qaeda

Turkey has initiated major military operations (an invasion) of Idlib province in Syria.

Turkey has a number of justifications, including concerns about an additional influx of refugees, but any any realistic assessment would strongly suggest that this is about installing client mini-states along the Turkish border as a part of Erdogan’s desire for greater sway in the area, along with his desire to enforce Sunni hegemony in Syria.

It should be noted that the rebels are al Nusra/al Qaeda in the Levant/Jabhat Fatah al-Sham/ Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, and as such are al Qaeda.

Turkey is looking for Nato support, because ……… Everything is f%$#ed up and sh%$.

In related news, Turkey is aggressively moving refugees to the the Greek border in an attempt to coerce the EU into supporting his adventure.

This will not end well.

Burying the Lede

In a report on the Syrian army pushing the Jihadist rebels out artillery range of Aleppo, the New York Times waits until paragraph to mention that the people or Aleppo were literally dancing in the streets over their new found safety:

Syrian President Bashar Assad congratulated his forces Monday for recent gains in northwestern Syria that led to his troops consolidating control over Aleppo province, pledging to press ahead with a military campaign to achieve complete victory “sooner or later.”


In the past few weeks, government troops backed by Russian air power have captured more than 1,500 square kilometers (580 square miles) in the northwest, consolidating their hold over Aleppo province after capturing over 30 villages and hamlets in the western countryside in a single day Sunday. The advance secured the provincial capital that had for years remained within range of opposition fire.

The new gains, along with securing a key highway through rebel territory, are set to better link northern and southern Syria, including the city of Aleppo, which was Syria’s commercial center before the war. The highway, known as the M5, links the country’s four largest cities and population centers and is key to controlling Syria.

The developments sparked late-night celebrations in the streets of Aleppo that continued through Monday, with state media showing residents waving flags and dancing in roads packed with vehicles.

“We should not rest, but continue to prepare for the coming battles, and therefore the battle of liberating Aleppo countryside and Idlib will continue, despite the empty noise that is coming from the north (Turkey),” Assad said.

The refugees Idlib are little more hostages to Erdogans delusion that he is the rebirth of the Ottoman caliphate.

It is profoundly depressing that the best alternative for Syria is Bashar al-Assad, but considering the people who conspired to foment civil war in Syria, Erdogan, the House of Saud, the regime change mousketeers of various western state security apparatuses, it is not a surprise.

Burying the Lede

In a story about the rapidly unfolding debacle in northern Syria, they weight until the 9th paragraph to note that the US is looking at evacuating the nuclear weapons stored at Incirlik Air Base in response to the instability and chaos in the region:


And over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border, according to two American officials.

Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.

“I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at US forces,” Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies wrote last week.

For his part, Mr. Erdogan claims nuclear ambitions of his own: Only a month ago, speaking to supporters, he said he “cannot accept” rules that keep Turkey from possessing nuclear weapons of its own.

“There is no developed nation in the world that doesn’t have them,” he said. (In fact, most do not.)

This is unbelievably dangerous.

Also, given the nature of the potential nuclear exchanges these days, the forward deployment of nuclear weapons, particularly in a country run by a delusional megalomaniac, seems to be a profoundly unfortunate decision.

It Seems That the House of Saud Thinks That It Was the Houthis

Seriously, the only reason for the House of Saud to agree to a cease fire in Yemen is that they are worried about further attacks on their critical infrastructure coming from the Houthis:

Saudi Arabia is moving to enact a partial cease-fire in Yemen, say people familiar with the plans, as Riyadh and the Houthi militants the kingdom is fighting try to end a four-year war that has become a front line in the regional clash with Iran.

Saudi Arabia’s decision follows the Houthis’ surprise declaration of a unilateral cease-fire in Yemen last week, just days after they claimed responsibility for the Sept. 14 drone and cruise-missile strike on Saudi Arabia’s oil industry.

If the mutual cease-fire in these areas takes hold, the Saudis would look to broaden the truce to other parts of Yemen, the people familiar with the plans said. Enforcing the cease-fire will require Saudi Arabia to reach out to its Yemeni allies on the ground to ensure that they adhere to Riyadh’s dictates.

The new cease-fire faces steep odds, as similar arrangements have crumbled before. But the Houthis’ unexpected unilateral move for a cease-fire last week raised hopes in Riyadh and Washington that the Yemeni fighters might be willing to distance themselves from Tehran.

After the Sept. 14 attack on the Saudi oil facilities, Houthi leaders initially said they were responsible. Saudi, U.S. and European officials dismissed the claims as an attempt to obscure Iran’s role in the strike. Yemeni fighters, these officials say, have neither the weapons nor the skills to carry out such a sophisticated strike.

Which is why the Saudis are folding lime overdone pasta to the Houthis, because they, “Have neither the weapons nor the skills to carry out such a sophisticated strike.”

Sounds convincing to me.

The Definitive Statement on Venezuela

When a CIA-backed military coup is attempted by a long term CIA puppet, roared on by John Bolton and backed with the offer of Blackwater mercenaries, in the country with the world’s largest oil reserves, I have no difficulty whatsoever in knowing which side I am on.

Craig Murray

Even ignoring the catastrophic human toll of such efforts, CIA backed regime change operations have ended up making the United States less secure in the long term.

It Would Be Nice to See this Validated in the Courts

In what is an extremely rare rebuke, the House of Representatives voted to invoke the War Powers Act to prevent further aid to the House of Saud’s brutal war in Yemen.

It’s good policy, and good politics:  The actions in Yemen are indefensible, and it shows  Trump’s pretense of opposition to foreign wars to be false.

While I do not expect this to go very far in the Senate, it does a good job of jamming Trump and the Republican Party up.

Well played.

A Stopped Clock is Right Twice a Day

ISIS/ISIL/Daesh/Whatever has been eliminated as a proto-nation state/caliphate.

It is now a diffuse terrorist organization, and as such, the only remaining justifications for keeping 2-3000 (and probably more off the books) troops on the ground are promulgating regime change and doing the House of Saud’s dirty work in their hundreds of years long battle with Iran.

As such, I think that Trump’s announcement that they are pulling ground troops from Syria, effective immediately, is a good thing, even if is (probably) being done for the most base of reasons:

The United States will move quickly to withdraw all forces from Syria, the White House abruptly announced Wednesday, as President Trump defied warnings from his top advisers and upended plans for a continued mission against the Islamic State.

The move plunged U.S. allies into uncertainty and created the potential for greater regional instability even as it provided Russia and its ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a chance to cement greater control over the country.

“Our boys, our young women, our men, they’re all coming back and they’re coming back now, we won and that’s the way we want it,” Trump said in a video message on Twitter, an unusual format for the president. “That’s the way we want it, and that’s the way they want it,” he said, pointing to the sky in an apparent reference to American soldiers killed in Syria.

To quote John Kerry, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

The decision also delivers on the president’s repeated threat this year to pull out troops. Since before taking office, Trump has promised to conclude the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS, and questioned the value of costly and dangerous military missions overseas.


Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the ranking members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Senate Armed Services Committee, respectively, warned in a statement that the decision would benefit Russia and Iran, Assad’s other major patron.

I use the tears of the regime change Mousketeers to sweeten my coffee.

Of course, the wing of U.S. officialdom known as, “The Blob,” are doing their level best to prevent a sudden outbreak of peace:

President Donald Trump may have declared the so-called Islamic State “defeated,” sparking talk of a U.S. withdrawal from the former ISIS stronghold of northeastern Syria. But administration officials, several of whom were taken by surprise, indicated an effort was underway to stop or slow a pullout.


Yet the official added a harder-edged warning suggesting that military force against Iran in Syria remained an option: “Iran knows the U.S. stands ready to re-engage at all levels to defend American interests.”

OK, Mr. Anonymous Official, name 3 significant American interests in Syria, and you cannot use, “Iran’s there,” or, “Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud’s dick won’t suck itself.”

Tweets that Make You Go Hmmmmm

Very strange… Iran fired missiles at ISIS in Syria. Killed several ISIS leaders – almost killed Al-Baghdadi. US complained (!!) saying Iran was reckless, cuz the strike was within 3 miles of US troops.

But why was ISIS leader Baghdadi feeling so safe so close to US troops????

— Trita Parsi (@tparsi) October 5, 2018

You know, the fact that we are effectively allied with ISIS might be a small indicator that our policies in Syria are not in the national interest.

H/t naked capitalism.

The Last Time We Did This, We Created Al Qaeda

If this sounds familiar, this is exactly the same policy promulgated by Jimmy Carter and Zbigniew Brzezinski when they decided to foment a civil war in Afghanistan, which directly led to the formation of Al Qaeda, and indirectly to the 9/11 attacks:

As the Syrian tragedy lurches toward a bloody final showdown in Idlib province, the Trump administration is struggling to check Russia and the Assad regime from an assault there that U.N. Secretary General António Guterres warns would be a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

The administration’s efforts are so late in coming, and so limited, it’s hard to muster much hope they can reverse seven years of American failure. But at least the administration has stopped the dithering and indecision of the past 18 months and signaled that the United States has enduring interests in Syria, beyond killing Islamic State terrorists — and that it isn’t planning to withdraw its Special Operations forces from northeastern Syria anytime soon.

Right now, our job is to help create quagmires [for Russia and the Syrian regime] until we get what we want,” says one administration official, explaining the effort to resist an Idlib onslaught. This approach involves reassuring the three key U.S. allies on Syria’s border — Israel, Turkey and Jordan — of continued American involvement.

(emphasis mine)

Note that the author of this piece, David Ignatius has been a tool of the CIA for his entire career, and the US state security apparatus in general, and the CIA in particular, has been agitating for regime change since the start of unrest in Syria, and they are unwilling to let it go.

Once again, I return to this quote about the intelligence establishment:

It is not the story of men and women who have a better and deeper understanding of the world than we do. In fact in many cases it is the story of weirdos who have created a completely mad version of the world that they then impose on the rest of us.

Has Anyone Else Noticed a Pattern in Syria

Damascus achieves some military successes, Trump makes noises about scaling back US involvement, and suddenly there is another “chemical weapons attack” in Syria:

A gas attack on the last rebel-held town in Ghouta has left at least 40 people dead, with entire families reportedly found suffocated inside their homes, Syrian opposition activists and medical services say. The alleged attack on the town of Douma, which comes after Syrian government forces resumed an offensive in the area late Friday, left more than 500 people seeking medical attention, according to the Civil Defense and the Syrian American Medical Society. The Syrian American Medical Society put the death toll at 49, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 80 people had died, though many of them are said to have died from their shelters collapsing. The Syrian government has denied allegations it used chemical agents to attack the town, calling the claims “fabrications” aimed at undermining government advances in the area. The U.S. State Department has said it is closely following the “horrifying” reports, and if a gas attack is confirmed, it would “demand an immediate response by the international community.”

We’ve had unconfirmed reports of a missile strike on a Syrian airfield as well.

There is a regular pattern to this, as Bernhard at Moon over Alabama observes:

An alleged new ‘chemical incident’ in Syria reminds of a similar series of events we saw last year. We are told to believe that each time the U.S. pulls back from the war on Syria the Syrian government is responding with a ‘chemical attack’ that pulls the U.S. back in.

I am not suggesting that the DoD or the CIA is engineering these attacks, but I am suggesting that anti-Assad forces, with the active collusion of the “White Helmets”, knows how to read American news websites and understand the political dynamics at play.

Syria war: Assad’s government accuses US of massacre

The US just launched airstrikes against Syrian and allied forces:

The closer the U.S. gets to its original goal in Syria of defeating the Islamic State group, the murkier its end game. New layers of complexity are descending on a shifting battlefield, as demonstrated by a deadly barrage of American air and artillery strikes on a shadowy attacker.

The Pentagon insists it is keeping its focus on defeating IS, but Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday U.S.-backed fighters in eastern Syria faced a “perplexing” overnight assault by about 300 pro-Syrian government fighters whose nationalities, motives and makeup he could not identify. A number of U.S. military advisers were present alongside local allied forces, and the Americans led a punishing response that other officials said killed about 100 of the assailants.

Mattis asserted the episode was an aberration that should not be seen as an expansion of the U.S. war effort. But Trump administration critics disagreed. The Pentagon boss also dismissed any suggestion that Russia, the Syrian government’s most powerful military ally, had any control over the mysterious attacking force.

“I am gravely concerned that the Trump administration is purposefully stumbling into a broader conflict, without a vote of Congress or clear objectives,” said Sen. Tim Kaine, a Virginia Democrat, who has challenged the legal grounds on which American troops can operate in Syria for post-IS operations.

Mattis rejected Kaine’s suggestion the U.S. is being drawn into a broader war.

“It was self-defense,” he said. “We’re not getting engaged in the Syrian civil war.”

I’m going to call bullsh%$ on this.

Given that many elements in the US military, diplomatic, and state security apparatuses are determined to promulgate regime change in Syria, the juxtaposition of events that led to these airstrikes seems to me to be AWFULLY contrived.

There have simply been too many Gulf of Tonkin type events for me to believe that they have been unintentional.

Have I Mentioned that the Middle East is F%$#ed Up and Sh%$?

First, we have an al Qaeda linked group shooting down a Russian jet with a US missile:

Syria’s former al-Qaeda affiliate claimed responsibility Saturday for the downing of a Russian warplane in northern Syria, apparently using a surface-to-air missile to target the aircraft.

The pilot was killed after he ejected and exchanged gunfire with militants on the ground, the Russian Defense Ministry and a monitoring group said.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, a powerful rebel alliance that publicly split from al-Qaeda last year, said it had used a shoulder-fired weapon to down the Su-25 fighter jet as it flew low over the opposition-held town of Saraqeb.


It also raises questions about the source of the apparent “man-portable air-defense system,” or MANPADS, a shoulder-fired weapon for which Syria’s rebels have repeatedly pleaded from their international backers. The United States has been strongly opposed, fearing that antiaircraft weapons could fall into the hands of the country’s extremist groups.

State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said any allegation that the United States has provided MANPAD missiles in Syria was untrue, and she denied that U.S. equipment was used in shooting down the Russian plane.

Considering the fact that the CIA has been supporting groups that the US military has been attacking, so take that with a grain of salt.

The rather more shocking news today though is that Israel has been conducting airstrikes in the Sinai with the affirmative assent of the Egyptian government:

The jihadists in Egypt’s Northern Sinai had killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, briefly seized a major town and begun setting up armed checkpoints to claim territory. In late 2015, they brought down a Russian passenger jet.

Egypt appeared unable to stop them, so Israel, alarmed at the threat just over the border, took action.

For more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign, conducting more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt, frequently more than once a week — and all with the approval of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The remarkable cooperation marks a new stage in the evolution of their singularly fraught relationship. Once enemies in three wars, then antagonists in an uneasy peace, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe.

The Israeli airstrikes are not that unusual, but the fact that there has been official (though not public)n approval, and not just grudging acknowledgement, of the Egyptian government.

The obvious conclusion here is that the Egyptian Government (particularly el-Sisi) is desperate, which indicates that the government is far less secure than it would like to proclaim.

Here Is Hoping That This Ruling Sticks

About 4 months ago, a US citizen was detained in Syria, and has been held incommunicado for months, and now a federal judge has granted ACLU lawyers access to him:

A federal judge has taken a major step toward rejecting the Trump administration’s campaign to prevent an American citizen detained indefinitely as an enemy combatant from challenging his captivity in court.

Not only did Judge Tanya Chutkan of the District of Columbia district court order the Pentagon to permit access to the anonymous man for his would-be attorneys, she also barred the administration from making an end run around the U.S. legal system that it has long been considering – as a tactic to avoid precisely the defeat in court that Chutkan has now delivered.

Whether and how the Trump administration complies with Chutkan’s order is the latest drama in an extraordinary case that has seen the resurrection of sweeping government claims of detentions power. The last time the government argued it could hold an American citizen in military detention without access to the courts was the early years of George W. Bush’s administration, and the Supreme Court in 2004 rejected the contention in landmark 2004 case.

Late on Saturday night, the 103rd day of the man’s captivity, Chutkan instructed the Pentagon to provide the American Civil Liberties Union with “temporary, immediate and unmonitored access” to the man, whom the military is holding somewhere in Iraq without ever releasing his name – another aspect of the government’s efforts to prevent legal intervention in the case.

The behavior of the Trump administration, and the Pentagon, have been truly contemptible in this this matter, even by the standards of the past sixteen years.