Will US Grasp Putin’s Syria Lifeline?

Exclusive: The neocons’ obsession with “regime change” in Syria is driving another one of Official Washington’s “group thinks” toward rejecting Russia’s offer to help stabilize the war-torn country and stem the destabilizing flood of refugees into Europe, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Russian President Vladimir Putin has thrown U.S. policymakers what amounts to a lifeline to pull them out of the quicksand that is the Syrian war, but Official Washington’s neocons and the mainstream U.S. news media are growling about Putin’s audacity and challenging his motives.

For instance, The New York Times’ lead editorial on Monday accused Putin of “dangerously building up Russia’s military presence” in Syria, even though Putin’s stated goal is to help crush the Sunni jihadists in the Islamic State and other extremist movements.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek on Sept. 13, 2013. (Photo credit: Press TV)

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani (left) shakes hands with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek on Sept. 13, 2013. (Photo credit: Press TV)

Instead, the Times harrumphs about Putin using his upcoming speech to the United Nations General Assembly “to make the case for an international coalition against the Islamic State, apparently ignoring the one already being led by the United States.”

The Times then reprises the bizarre neocon argument that the best way to solve the threat from the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and other jihadist forces is to eliminate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his military who have been the principal obstacles to an outright victory by the Sunni terrorist groups.

The dreamy Times/neocon prescription continues to be that “regime change” in Damascus would finally lead to the emergence of the mythical “moderate” rebels who would somehow prevail over the far more numerous and far better armed extremists. This perspective ignores the fact that after a $500 million training project for these “moderates,” the U.S. military says four or five fighters are now on the battlefield inside Syria. In other words, the members of this U.S.-trained brigade can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

But rather than rethink Official Washington’s goofy “group think” on Syria or provide readers a fuller history of the Syrian conflict the Times moves on to blame Putin for the mess.

“No one should be fooled about Russia’s culpability in Syria’s agony,” the Times writes. “Mr. Putin could have helped prevent the fighting that has killed more than 250,000 Syrians and displaced millions more, had he worked with other major powers in 2011 to keep Mr. Assad from waging war on his people following peaceful antigovernment protests. Mr. Assad would probably be gone without the weapons aid and other assistance from Russia and Iran.”

This “group think” ignores the early role of Sunni extremists in killing police and soldiers and thus provoking the harsh retaliation that followed. But the Syrian narrative, according to The New York Times, is that the “white-hat” protesters were simply set upon by the “black-hat” government.

The Times’ simplistic storyline fits neatly with what the influential neoconservatives want the West to believe, since the neocons have had Syria on their “regime change” list, alongside Iraq and Iran, since the list was compiled as part of Israeli leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s 1996 political campaign. The Times’ narrative also leaves out the crucial role of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other U.S. “allies” in supporting Al Qaeda and its Islamic State spinoff.

Bush’s Unaccounted-for Cash

Further complicating Official Washington’s let’s-blame-Putin Syrian narrative is the unintended role of President George W. Bush and the U.S. military in laying the groundwork for these brutal Sunni extremist movements through the invasion of Iraq last decade. After all, it was only in reaction to the U.S. military presence that “Al Qaeda in Iraq” took root in Iraqi and then Syrian territory.

Not only did the ouster and execution of Sunni leader Saddam Hussein alienate the region’s Sunnis, but Bush’s desperation to avert an outright military defeat in Iraq during his second term led him to authorize the payment of billions of dollars to Sunni fighters to get them to stop shooting at American soldiers and to give Bush time to negotiate a U.S. troop withdrawal.

Beginning in 2006, those U.S. payments to Sunni fighters to get them to suspend their resistance were central to what was then called the “Sunni Awakening.” Though the program preceded Bush’s “surge” of troops in 2007, the bought-and-paid-for truce became central to what Official Washington then hailed as the “successful surge” or “victory at last.”

Besides the billions of dollars paid out in pallets of U.S. cash to Sunni insurgents, Bush’s “surge” cost the lives of another 1,000 U.S. soldiers and killed a countless number of Iraqis, many just going about their daily lives until they were blown apart by powerful American munitions. [See, for example, the “Collateral Murder” video leaked by Pvt. Bradley/Chelsea Manning]

But what the U.S. intelligence community is only now assessing is the collateral damage caused by the bribes that the Bush administration paid to Sunni insurgents. Some of the cash appears to have become seed money for the transformation of “Al Qaeda in Iraq” into the Islamic State as Sunnis, who continued to be disenfranchised by Iraq’s Shiite-dominated government, expanded their sectarian war into Syria.

Besides the Iraqi Sunnis, Syria’s secular government, with Assad and other key leaders from the Alawite branch of Shiite Islam, also was set upon by home-grown Sunni extremists and foreign jihadists, some of whom joined the Islamic State but mostly coalesced around Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and other radical forces. Though the Islamic State had originated as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” (or AQI), it evolved into an even more bloodthirsty force and, in Syria, split off from Al Qaeda central.

Intelligence Reporting

U.S. intelligence followed many of these developments in real time. According to a Defense Intelligence Agency report from August 2012, “AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media. AQI declared its opposition of Assad’s government because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”

In other words, Assad’s early complaint about “terrorists” having infiltrated the opposition had a basis in fact. Early in the disorders in 2011, there were cases of armed elements killing police and soldiers. Later, there were terrorist bombings targeting senior Syrian government officials, including a July 18, 2012 explosion deemed a suicide bombing by government officials that killed Syrian Defense Minister General Dawoud Rajiha and Assef Shawkat, the deputy defense minister and Assad’s brother-in-law.

By then, it had become clear that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other Sunni-ruled countries were funneling money and other help to jihadist rebels seeking to oust Assad’s regime, which was considered a protector of Christians, Shiites, Alawites and other minorities fearing persecution if Sunni extremists prevailed.

As the 2012 DIA report noted about Syria, “internally, events are taking a clear sectarian direction. The salafist, the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria. The West, Gulf countries, and Turkey support the opposition; while Russia, China, and Iran support the regime.”

The DIA analysts already understood the risks that AQI represented both to Syria and Iraq. The report included a stark warning about the expansion of AQI, which was changing into the Islamic State or what the DIA referred to as ISI. The brutal armed movement was seeing its ranks swelled by the arrival of global jihadists rallying to the black banner of Sunni militancy, intolerant of both Westerners and “heretics” from Shiite and other non-Sunni branches of Islam.

As this movement strengthened it risked spilling back into Iraq. The DIA wrote: “This creates the ideal atmosphere for AQI to return to its old pockets in Mosul and Ramadi [in Iraq], and will provide a renewed momentum under the presumption of unifying the jihad among Sunni Iraq and Syria, and the rest of the Sunnis in the Arab world against what it considers one enemy, the dissenters [apparently a reference to Shiite and other non-Sunni forms of Islam]. ISI could also declare an Islamic State through its union with other terrorist organizations in Iraq and Syria, which will create grave danger in regards to unifying Iraq and the protection of its territory.”

Facing this growing Sunni terrorist threat — which indeed did spill back into Iraq — the idea that the CIA or the U.S. military could effectively arm and train a “moderate” rebel force to somehow compete with the Islamists was already delusional, yet that was the “group think” among the Important People of Official Washington, simply organize a “moderate” army to oust Assad and everything would turn out just great.

On Oct. 2, 2014, Vice President Joe Biden let more of the cat out of the bag when he told an audience at Harvard’s Kennedy School: “our allies in the region were our largest problem in Syria the Saudis, the emirates, etc., what were they doing? They were so determined to take down Assad and essentially have a proxy Sunni-Shia war, what did they do? They poured hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of tons of military weapons into anyone who would fight against Assad, except the people who were being supplied were Al Nusra and Al Qaeda and the extremist elements of jihadis coming from other parts of the world.” [Quote at 53:20 of clip.]

In other words, much of the U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition actually has been involved in financing and arming many of the same jihadists that the coalition is now supposedly fighting. If you take into account the lost billions of dollars that the Bush administration dumped on Sunni fighters starting in 2006, you could argue that the U.S.-led coalition bears primary responsibility for creating the problem that it is now confronting.

Biden made a similar point at least in reference to the Persian Gulf states: “Now all of a sudden, I don’t want to be too facetious, but they have seen the lord.   Saudi Arabia has stopped funding. Saudi Arabia is allowing training [of anti-Islamic State fighters] on its soil the Qataris have cut off their support for the most extreme elements of terrorist organizations, and the Turks [are] trying to seal their border.”

But there remain many doubts about the commitment of these Sunni governments to the cause of fighting the Islamic State and even more doubts about whether that commitment extends to Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front and other jihadist forces. Some neocons have even advocated backing Al Qaeda as the lesser evil both vis a vis the Islamic State and the Assad regime.

Blaming Putin

Yet, the Times editorial on Monday blamed Putin for a big chunk of the Syrian mess because Russia has dared support the internationally recognized Syrian government in the face of vicious foreign-supported terrorism. The Times casts no blame on the United States or its allies for the Syrian horror.

The Times also hurled personal insults at Putin as part of its equally one-sided narrative of the Ukraine crisis, which the editorial writers have summarized as simply a case of “Russian aggression” or a “Russian invasion” ignoring the behind-the-scenes role of neocon Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland in orchestrating the violent overthrow of Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014.

In Monday’s editorial, the Times reported that President Barack Obama “considers Mr. Putin a thug,” though it was President Obama who boasted just last month, “I’ve ordered military action in seven countries,” another inconvenient fact that the Times discreetly leaves out. In other words, who’s the “thug”?

Yet, despite all its huffing and puffing and calling Putin names, the Times ultimately concludes that Obama should test out the lifeline that Putin has tossed to Obama’s Syrian policy which with all its thrashing and arm waving is rapidly disappearing into the quicksand. The editorial concluded:

“Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking in London on Friday, made it clear that America would be looking for ‘common ground’ in Syria, which could mean keeping Mr. Assad in power temporarily during a transition. The Russians should accept that Mr. Assad must go within a specific time frame, say six months. The objective is a transition government that includes elements of the Assad regime and the opposition. Iran should be part of any deal.

“America should be aware that Mr. Putin’s motivations are decidedly mixed and that he may not care nearly as much about joining the fight against the Islamic State as propping up his old ally. But with that in mind there is no reason not to test him.”

Kerry’s apparent willingness to work with the Russians a position that I’m told Obama shares is at least a sign that some sanity exists inside the State Department, which initially mounted an absurd and futile attempt to organize an aerial blockade to prevent Russia from flying in any assistance to Syria.

If successful, that scheme, emanating from Nuland’s European division, could have collapsed the Syrian regime and opened the gates of Damascus to the Islamic State and/or Al Qaeda. So obsessed are the neocons to achieve their long-held goal of “regime change” in Syria that they would run the risk of turning Syria over to the Islamic State head-choppers and Al Qaeda’s terrorism plotters.

However, after the requisite snorting and pawing of hooves, it appears that the cooler heads in the Obama administration may have finally asserted themselves and perhaps at The New York Times as well.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

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34 comments for “Will US Grasp Putin’s Syria Lifeline?

  1. ltr
    September 22, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    The disdain for and hatred of Russia among the political elite in the United States is remarkably self-defeating as well as being diplomatically and ethically wrong. I am appalled.

    President Putin is only a way of symbolizing our hatred of Russia. New York Times writers have used the term “thug” to characterize Mr. Putin repeatedly.

    • ltr
      September 22, 2015 at 7:17 pm

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/opinion/david-brooks-snap-out-of-it.html

      September 22, 2014

      Snap Out of It
      By David Brooks

      President Vladimir Putin of Russia, a lone thug sitting atop a failing regime….

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/opinion/thomas-friedman-putin-and-the-pope.html

      October 21, 2014

      Putin and the Pope
      By Thomas L. Friedman

      One keeps surprising us with his capacity for empathy, the other by how much he has become a first-class jerk and thug….

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/opinion/sunday/thomas-l-friedman-whos-playing-marbles-now.html

      December 20, 2014

      Who’s Playing Marbles Now?
      By Thomas L. Friedman

      Let us not mince words: Vladimir Putin is a delusional thug….

      http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/opinion/paul-krugman-putin-neocons-and-the-great-illusion.html

      December 21, 2014

      Conquest Is for Losers: Putin, Neocons and the Great Illusion
      By Paul Krugman

      Remember, he’s an ex-K.G.B. man — which is to say, he spent his formative years as a professional thug….

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/opinion/thomas-friedman-czar-putins-next-moves.html

      January 27, 2015

      Czar Putin’s Next Moves
      By Thomas L. Friedman

      ZURICH — If Putin the Thug gets away with crushing Ukraine’s new democratic experiment and unilaterally redrawing the borders of Europe, every pro-Western country around Russia will be in danger….

      • Kiza
        September 22, 2015 at 9:07 pm

        The facts that the neocons are calling Putin all these ugly names only means that he is doing a great job. I would be much more worried if they were calling him nice names. Anyone with half a brain and ability to follow the real developments, without relying on MSM, knows that Putin is not only the Russian President, he is the leader of the World Resistance to neocon machinations. That is all we need to know.

        Perry’s article just forgets to mention Israel together with “the West, the Gulf countries, and Turkey [who] support the opposition [consisting of Islamic extremists in Syria]”. In fact, Israel is the gang-leader in the lot.

      • Erol Arkan
        September 23, 2015 at 10:50 pm

        Vladimir Putin is the voice of sanity, whereas U.S. foreign policy in Syria is like a child playing with matches. Get ready for the blowback!

    • Henry Jacobs
      September 22, 2015 at 8:04 pm

      Do you know why? According to this great Christian country it is Very simply they are a godless country and completely deserve all the mistrust and hatred we can show towards Russian. This is beyond the fact they kept Hitler from taking over the world.

      • Bob Van Noy
        September 22, 2015 at 8:59 pm

        Thanks Henry Jacobs; I don’t think many Americans are aware of that fact. Thanks to McCarthyism and “In God We Trust”…
        When we in the 50’s were crawling under our desks; it was very clear who the enemy was. Only recently have I learned the rational side of Nikita Khrushchev and how he was working the back channels with JFK to bring understanding between the Russia and the USofA.
        Oswald himself may have been part of an elaborate plan regarding the U2 flight that ruined President Eisenhower’s plans for reconciliation…

        • Tom Welsh
          September 23, 2015 at 11:35 am

          Bob Van Noy: I am not sure that Khrushchev had an irrational side. He was an intelligent, practical man. By the way, did you know that he was one of the political commissars who kept the Russian soldiers fighting and supplied during the Battle of Stalingrad? In other words he played a significant role in winning what was probably the most important single battle in WW2. Whereas President Kennedy – through no fault of his own – contributed by having his PT boat cut in two by a Japanese destroyer.

          • Bob Van Noy
            September 23, 2015 at 3:29 pm

            Thanks Tom Welsh, I didn’t know that; I thought I knew it all at 21, but I’ve been learning that I was wrong…

      • george Archers
        September 23, 2015 at 8:41 am

        “fact they kept Hitler from taking over the world.”–no wonder—a sap is born every second. listen fella–In 1932 Jews declared war on Germany. In 1937 Germany invaded part of Poland which belonged to Germany. In 1938 France England declared WAR on Germany and set many German cities a blaze
        Now, if you were Germany–what would you do–sit on your as* and do nothing?
        Go do some research before you go silly.

    • September 25, 2015 at 7:03 am

      Things were going splendidly for Israel until Russia arrived on the scene as the great ‘spoiler’.

      Iran’s take on Russian build-up in Syria:

      http://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2015/09/25/521866-irans-take-on-russian-build-up-in-syria/

  2. ltr
    September 22, 2015 at 5:36 pm

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/23/opinion/david-brooks-snap-out-of-it.html

    September 22, 2014

    Snap Out of It
    By David Brooks

    President Vladimir Putin of Russia, a lone thug sitting atop a failing regime….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/10/22/opinion/thomas-friedman-putin-and-the-pope.html

    October 21, 2014

    Putin and the Pope
    By Thomas L. Friedman

    One keeps surprising us with his capacity for empathy, the other by how much he has become a first-class jerk and thug….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/21/opinion/sunday/thomas-l-friedman-whos-playing-marbles-now.html

    December 20, 2014

    Who’s Playing Marbles Now?
    By Thomas L. Friedman

    Let us not mince words: Vladimir Putin is a delusional thug….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/22/opinion/paul-krugman-putin-neocons-and-the-great-illusion.html

    December 21, 2014

    Conquest Is for Losers: Putin, Neocons and the Great Illusion
    By Paul Krugman

    Remember, he’s an ex-K.G.B. man — which is to say, he spent his formative years as a professional thug….

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/28/opinion/thomas-friedman-czar-putins-next-moves.html

    January 27, 2015

    Czar Putin’s Next Moves
    By Thomas L. Friedman

    ZURICH — If Putin the Thug gets away with crushing Ukraine’s new democratic experiment and unilaterally redrawing the borders of Europe, every pro-Western country around Russia will be in danger….

    • ltr
      September 22, 2015 at 8:31 pm

      Forgive the double post, I did not understand the initial post was accepted.

    • Call A Spade
      September 23, 2015 at 6:30 am

      The New York Times is a rag if you get all your information from it you are misguided.

      • george Archers
        September 23, 2015 at 8:51 am

        more like a sheet of toilet paper-use once and flush.
        Not New but JewDork Times. Enough clowning–NY’s editors have an important god’s agenda–greater Israel–smear/weaken all the Arab countries.
        Sad only Iran remains stable, as yet standing tall.

        • zman
          September 23, 2015 at 9:52 am

          I get ‘news updates’ all the time from most major ‘news outlets’. This includes NYT. There is no argument as to the pure propaganda and misleading stories, as well as outright lies in said rag, but if you want to read some real horse hockey, read the Washington Times. They throw in some RW christian BS as well…at least they try to cover all the bases. I get all these updates to keep up on the co-ordinated responses and propaganda the corrupt MSM are constantly issuing. By just scanning the headlines from all of them, you get to see a pattern and you can see where they are going. To say American ( as well as Euro MSM) are disingenuous would be an understatement of massive proportions. They are much worse, being collaborators in international crime and should be held as accountable as the actual order giving criminals themselves.

  3. Rexw
    September 22, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    If the USA does reject any move towards using the good offices of Russia to stabilise the Syrian conflict and perhaps bring some level of peace to that part of the world, then we will know without any doubt that the US has passed the point of no return, that is it on a path for war and that there is no intention of turning back.

    The fact that any one in the media in terrorist USA can accuse Putin of “dangerously building up Russia’s military presence”by its support for Syria is almost laughable.

    Look at any map of Europe and see the total encirclement of Russia by NATO bases and missile installations. The concentration on the US-engineered war in Ukraine is just another example of how this part of the world gives the US just another step to move against Russia.

    Yes, apathy reigns supreme in the USA thanks to media corruption and foreign ownership and control, but surely a total population are not that stupid.

    Get active people. The Zionist influenced (controlled) Congress, almost all your corrupt politicians, are dragging you into another war, this time a real one.

  4. Roberto
    September 22, 2015 at 7:29 pm

    The New York Times is a rag.

  5. david t. krall
    September 22, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Sounds alot like SE Asia, to some degree, in late 1963 and/or early 1964…before things got real ugly and things REALLY escalated…The French, The North Vietnamese Gov. The Russians, even the Chinese thru Eastern Europeans and a well as the Soviets also thru their proxies were willing for a limited time, to “help” ( very quietly) the US from expanding and escalating its “mission” and role in SE Asia…that “knew” what was coming…a huge war-quagmire (just like the French).

    Unfortunately all that changed in late 1963 and into 1964…

    • Bob Van Noy
      September 22, 2015 at 9:04 pm

      Exactly! david t. krall. We are exactly in the same position that we were in on November 22, 1963 when Everything Changed!

    • Kiza
      September 22, 2015 at 9:20 pm

      The neocon plan is actually quite simple, using the US threats, the US blood and the US treasure:
      1) convert all secular governments in the region and wider, into cesspools of Islamic extremism,
      2) grab additional water, oil and gas deposits, and
      3) control the newly established Islamic extremists using the US blood and the treasure – constant wars, all the while lining their own pockets (neocon defense contractors).

      As always, there is much talk about ideology, even name calling, but the essence is the same old thievery (the resources of others), by means of your cost (other peoples’ money and blood) – my benefit.

      Nothing changes in this World.

      • zman
        September 23, 2015 at 9:59 am

        I believe you hit the proverbial nail on it’s head. Of course, the name of this plan is PNAC.

  6. W. R. Knight
    September 22, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    Anyone who thinks that Assad’s responses to the terrorist actions of Sunni (or any other religious) extremists was extreme should think about what U.S. responses would be to extremists or terrorists who kill our policemen or soldiers. (Think about our response to 9/11) Can you imagine Obama or better yet Bush saying “Gee whilikers, guys, we need to sit down and talk about this.” Or can you imagine the NY Times editorial saying that the world should have insisted that our president step down and let the extremists take over?

    What these fools don’t understand is that neither side is in it for the benefit of the people. It’s all about power. Nothing else matters. And as soon as you remove a head of government, anarchy immediately moves in to fill the power vacuum. Witness Iraq, Libya, and all the other countries “liberated” by the U.S.

  7. Antiwar7
    September 22, 2015 at 9:57 pm

    This is not a comment about this article, but I wanted to point out that the Donate solicitation for this website is not showing up on the mobile version of the main page.

    • Druid
      September 22, 2015 at 11:44 pm

      Absolutely!

  8. Joe Tedesky
    September 23, 2015 at 12:59 am

    In one years time the U.S. has flown over 6,700 sorties over Syria. So, why is there still an ISIS/Daesh terrorist still left to fight us ‘good guys’ there in Syria? The reason the U.S. and it’s allies can’t join Putin and his Collective Security Treaty Organization, is because then we would be fighting ourselves. Squaring off with the Russians in Syria could be away of testing out all that new Russian Defensive War equipment that the Russians have developed. I’m sure that there are some brass within America’s NATO forces who wouldn’t mine finding out just how defensive this new Russian armament is, but what if the damn stuff works? Would we wake up freaking out too discover the Russians invented the ‘Off Button’. If the U.S. we’re to want and aid Russians fight the terrorist, well then stop the support and training of these mercenary creeps, and seriously create some peace in this world.

  9. posa
    September 23, 2015 at 2:18 am

    Indeed, the policy is Operation Clean Break (why did Parry hide the name of the policy in a link) … and yes, the policy is non-stop regime change in the Middle East to “secure the realm for Israel” … and secure Afro-EurAsia for the US Imperium.

    The US has always been in an alliance with fanatical Jihadi to use as handy shock troops… that’s why there’s a war refugee crisis in the US. Putin has drawn in the sand for principled as well as less altruistic reasons (military bases and pipeline politics).

    But Putin’s War on ISIS is a far better option than Operation Clean Break. Syria now becomes another front line for confrontation between the US and the Russians… any miscalculation could lead to nuclear confrontation… Has the world ever been in a more dangerous condition that the gathering storm right now?

  10. Brendan
    September 23, 2015 at 5:32 am

    More bad news for $500 million campaign to train “moderate” rebels.
    “Capture or betrayal? US-trained Syrian rebels with weapons end up in hands of Nusra jihadists”
    “Around 70 US-trained Syrian rebel fighters allegedly surrendered a weapons stockpile to the extremist Jabhat al-Nusra group after crossing the Turkish border. There have been conflicting reports as to whether the recruits betrayed the US or were captured.
    The Telegraph cited sources claiming that the “moderate” rebel group, known as Division 30, had surrendered their weapons to the Al-Qaeda affiliated fighters in Syria.”
    https://www.rt.com/news/316247-us-syrian-rebels-surrender-nusra/

    In case anyone thinks that that’s just pro-Assad Russian propaganda from RT, a similar story is reported in the Daily Beast by Michael Weiss of the anti-Kremlin Interpreter website.
    “Did a U.S.-Trained Syrian Rebel Commander Defect to al Qaeda?”
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/09/22/did-a-u-s-trained-syrian-rebel-commander-defect-to-al-qaeda.html

    This humiliation for Division 30 comes less than two months after another group of their fighters was killed or captured by Al Nusra.
    “US-trained Syrian rebels killed and leaders captured by al-Qaida affiliate”
    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jul/31/us-trained-rebels-killed-captured-syrian-al-qaida-affiliate-nusra

  11. Paul
    September 23, 2015 at 11:43 am

    As always, Parry simply assumes that the US leadership does not intend the chaos it ‘unintentionally’ creates.

    • Bill Rood
      September 24, 2015 at 12:22 am

      The alleged goals of American “exceptionalism,” stability, protection of human rights and the establishment of democracy, are never achieved. Nor are the less advertised but sometimes avowed goals to protect access to resources or global hegemony, as oil exports always decline in countries at war and the US does not enjoy hegemony (control) in Iraq, Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan, Libya, Syria or Ukraine. Our leaders are sane, so they do not take the same actions over and over again expecting different results. Our avowed goals are not achieved, but our policies are wildly successful when measured against the institutional imperatives of the MIC:

      1) profits for arms manufacturers and other military contractors, 2) career enhancement for military brass, civilian employees of the CIA, Pentagon, State Department, and militarist thinktanks, 3) blockbuster movies and sensational headlines to sell media (and also contribute to the necessary fear and jingoism), 4) pork for politicians and 5) attendant high paying jobs guaranteed by ITAR (International Traffick in Arms Regulations) for “US persons” that keep those employees loyal to the system.

      Our leaders are not insane, just depraved.

  12. Christopher C. Currie
    September 23, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    There is another alternative for solving the mess that the US Government created in Iraq and Syria. That is to have a UN peace conference to redefine the national borders in the Middle East, that is to undo the MASSIVELY BLOODY ERROR that Britain and France made following WWI when (for their own financial gain) when they unrealistically created borders for Turkey, Iraq and Syria and Iran, which were designed to split up the religious and ethnic groups that had co-existed (pretty much peacefully) for centuries in that part of the world. Once an agreement is reached as to what those new borders should REALLY be, UN Peace Keeping Forces can be deployed to help create a peaceful transition to the new boarders. Once those opposing forces recognize that such an agreement would enable them to LEAGALLY have their own oil resources, they will be far more likely to agree to such a deal. And part of that deal can be for ISIS to stop murdering/persecuting religious sects.

  13. September 23, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    In contrast to the movers and shakers on Wall Street and in Washington D.C., Putin is not an adrenalin driven high risk player, and he puts all the right stones into the right position before making a move. So one should not be surprised if Chinese soldiers show up in Syria to join the fight against IS. A Chinese military vessel already entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal.

    There’s no guarantee that an inclusion of China in the war against IS will prevent rouge elements of the Western coalition to direct some missiles towards elements of the eastern coalition, but the repercussions of resulting Chinese casualties will be enormous and will probably force President Obama to rein in the rouge elements and accept the defeat of IS.

    This is Putin’s calculus, based on the assumption that President Obama still cares a little bit about his legacy and prefers to have a legacy of some sort instead of being the last president of the United States and having no legacy at all.

  14. September 23, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Corrected version (sorry for the spelling error)

    In contrast to the movers and shakers on Wall Street and in Washington D.C., Putin is not an adrenalin driven high risk player, and he puts all the right stones into the right position before making a move. So one should not be surprised if Chinese soldiers show up in Syria to join the fight against IS. A Chinese military vessel already entered the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal.

    There’s no guarantee that an inclusion of China in the war against IS will prevent rogue elements of the Western coalition to direct some missiles towards elements of the eastern coalition, but the repercussions of resulting Chinese casualties will be enormous and will probably force President Obama to rein in the rogue elements and accept the defeat of IS.

    This is Putin’s calculus, based on the assumption that President Obama still cares a little bit about his legacy and prefers to have a legacy of some sort instead of being the last president of the United States and having no legacy at all.

  15. Richard Steven Hack
    September 23, 2015 at 5:03 pm

    As I’ve mentioned many times, there is no chance the US will cooperate with Russia on Syria. The goal of the Syrian crisis is to degrade Syria’s military so that it cannot be an effective actor in an Iran war. That degradation will also enable Israel to attack Hizballah in Lebanon by crossing Syrian territory into the Bekaa Valley, the goal also being to render Hizballah an ineffective actor in an Iran war.

    The end result is a war between Israel and Iran, with the US doing the heavy lifting for Israel, so Israel gets to have a “cheap war” with Iran, while the US pays four times the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan combined per year for another decade-long war.

    Obama’s deal with Iran will be reneged on by the next administration, just as Clinton’s deal with North Korea in the 1990’s was reneged on by both Clinton and Bush. He only negotiated it to get a foreign policy “win” for his “legacy” – despite his legacy having been the destruction of four countries on his watch: Libya, Syria, Ukraine, and Yemen.

    Obama’s willingness to attack Syria over bogus “chemical attacks” in 2013 clearly shows he was on board for a war with Iran. Putin out-maneuvered him by getting Assad to get rid of his chemical weapons. This is one reason Obama started the Ukraine crisis – he’s furious that Putin made him look like a fool.

  16. Herbert Davis
    September 24, 2015 at 3:33 pm

    The endgame is to create a problem so big that Israel has to create “greater Israel”…with our help of course….Check out their holy book or Google it before you dismiss this idea.

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