The Syrian Test of Trump-Putin Accord

Exclusive: The U.S. mainstream media remains obsessed over Russia’s alleged “meddling” in last fall’s election, but the real test of bilateral cooperation may come on the cease-fire in Syria, writes ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

The immediate prospect for significant improvement in U.S.-Russia relations now depends on something tangible: Will the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria succeed in doing so again, all the better to keep alive the “regime change” dreams of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists?

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with U.S. President Donald Trump at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, on July 7, 2017. (Screen shot from

Or will President Trump succeed where President Obama failed by bringing the U.S. military and intelligence bureaucracies into line behind a cease-fire rather than allowing insubordination to win out?

These are truly life-or-death questions for the Syrian people and could have profound repercussions across Europe, which has been destabilized by the flood of refugees fleeing the horrific violence in the six-year proxy war that has ripped Syria apart.

But you would have little inkling of this important priority from the large page-one headlines Saturday morning in the U.S. mainstream media, which continued its long obsession with the more ephemeral question of whether Russian President Vladimir Putin would confess to the sin of “interference” in the 2016 U.S. election and promise to repent.

Thus, the headlines: “Trump, Putin talk election interference” (Washington Post) and “Trump asks Putin About Meddling During Election” (New York Times). There was also the expected harrumphing from commentators on CNN and MSNBC when Putin dared to deny that Russia had interfered.

In both the big newspapers and on cable news shows, the potential for a ceasefire in southern Syria – set to go into effect on Sunday – got decidedly second billing.

Yet, the key to Putin’s assessment of Donald Trump is whether the U.S. President is strong enough to make the mutually agreed-upon ceasefire stick. As Putin is well aware, to do so Trump will have to take on the same “deep-state” forces that cheerily scuttled similar agreements in the past. In other words, the actuarial tables for this cease-fire are not good; long life for the agreement will take something just short of a miracle.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will have to face down hardliners in both the Pentagon and CIA. Tillerson probably expects that Defense Secretary James “Mad-Dog” Mattis and CIA Director Mike Pompeo will cooperate by ordering their troops and operatives inside Syria to restrain the U.S.-backed “moderate rebels.”

But it remains to be seen if Mattis and Pompeo can control the forces their agencies have unleashed in Syria. If recent history is any guide, it would be folly to rule out another “accidental” U.S. bombing of Syrian government troops or a well-publicized “chemical attack” or some other senseless “war crime” that social media and mainstream media will immediately blame on President Bashar al-Assad.

Bitter Experience

Last fall’s limited ceasefire in Syria, painstakingly worked out over 11 months by Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and approved personally by Presidents Obama and Putin, lasted only five days (from Sept. 12-17) before it was scuttled by “coalition” air strikes on well-known, fixed Syrian army positions, which killed between 64 and 84 Syrian troops and wounded about 100 others.

Secretary of State John Kerry (right) and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. (U.N. photo)

In public remarks bordering on the insubordinate, senior Pentagon officials a few days before the air attack on Sept. 17, showed unusually open skepticism regarding key aspects of the Kerry-Lavrov agreement – like sharing intelligence with the Russians (an important provision of the deal approved by both Obama and Putin).

The Pentagon’s resistance and the “accidental” bombing of Syrian troops brought these uncharacteristically blunt words from Foreign Minister Lavrov on Russian TV on Sept. 26:

“My good friend John Kerry … is under fierce criticism from the U.S. military machine. Despite the fact that, as always, [they] made assurances that the U.S. Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama, supported him in his contacts with Russia … apparently the military does not really listen to the Commander in Chief.”

Lavrov specifically criticized Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Joseph Dunford for telling Congress that he opposed sharing intelligence with Russia despite the fact, as Lavrov put it, “the agreements concluded on direct orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama [who] stipulated that they would share intelligence.” Noting this resistance inside the U.S. military bureaucracy, Lavrov added, “It is difficult to work with such partners.”

Putin picked up on the theme of insubordination in an Oct. 27 speech at the Valdai International Discussion Club, in which he openly lamented:

“My personal agreements with the President of the United States have not produced results. … people in Washington are ready to do everything possible to prevent these agreements from being implemented in practice.”

On Syria, Putin decried the lack of a “common front against terrorism after such lengthy negotiations, enormous effort, and difficult compromises.”

Lavrov’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, meanwhile, even expressed sympathy for Kerry’s quixotic effort, giving him an “A” for effort, after then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter dispatched U.S. warplanes to provide an early death to the cease-fire so painstakingly worked out by Kerry and Lavrov for almost a year.

For his part, Kerry expressed regret – in words reflecting the hapless hubris befitting the chief envoy of the world’s “only indispensible” country – conceding that he had been unable to “align” all the forces in play.

With the ceasefire in tatters, Kerry publicly complained on Sept. 29, 2016: “Syria is as complicated as anything I’ve ever seen in public life, in the sense that there are probably about six wars or so going on at the same time – Kurd against Kurd, Kurd against Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Sunni, Shia, everybody against ISIL, people against Assad, Nusra [Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate]. This is as mixed-up sectarian and civil war and strategic and proxies, so it’s very, very difficult to be able to align forces.”

Admitting Deep-State Pre-eminence

Only in December 2016, in an interview with Matt Viser of the Boston Globe, did Kerry admit that his efforts to deal with the Russians had been thwarted by then-Defense Secretary Ashton Carter – as well as all those forces he found so difficult to align.

Former U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter.

“Unfortunately we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation [of the ceasefire agreement] extremely hard to accomplish,” Kerry said. “But it … could have worked. … The fact is we had an agreement with Russia … a joint cooperative effort.

“Now we had people in our government who were bitterly opposed to doing that,” he said. “I regret that. I think that was a mistake. I think you’d have a different situation there conceivably now if we’d been able to do that.”

The Globe’s Viser described Kerry as frustrated. Indeed, it was a tough way for Kerry to end nearly 34 years in public office.

After Friday’s discussions with President Trump, Kremlin eyes will be focused on Secretary of State Tillerson, watching to see if he has better luck than Kerry did in getting Ashton Carter’s successor, James “Mad Dog” Mattis and CIA’s latest captive-director Pompeo into line behind what President Trump wants to do.

As the new U.S.-Russia agreed-upon ceasefire goes into effect on Sunday, Putin will be eager to see if this time Trump, unlike Obama, can make a ceasefire in Syria stick; or whether, like Obama, Trump will be unable to prevent it from being sabotaged by Washington’s deep-state actors.

The proof will be in the pudding and, clearly, much depends on what happens in the next few weeks. At this point, it will take a leap of faith on Putin’s part to have much confidence that the ceasefire will hold. 

Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington.  As a CIA analyst for 27 years, he led the Soviet Foreign Policy Branch and, during President Ronald Reagan’s first term, conducted the early morning briefings with the President’s Daily Brief.  He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

128 comments for “The Syrian Test of Trump-Putin Accord

  1. Abe
    July 10, 2017 at 14:04

    Attention Ray McGovern and other VIPS,

    Please contribute an article explaining just how easy it is to “fix” intelligence using Bellingcat’s “Open Source Verification and Investigation Tools, Resources and Methods”

  2. Wilma Schrover
    July 10, 2017 at 08:24

    Who’s running the show in the US and, as a result, in the rest of the world? For the alleged global guardian of democracy, it’s a disgrace that democracy is a farce at home. Neocons and liberal interventionists are the true enemy for peace in the Middle East. Mainstream media and so called humanitarian ngo’s their vicious propagandamachines.

  3. Danny Weil
    July 9, 2017 at 17:01

    Will the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria succeed in doing so again, all the better to keep alive the “regime change” dreams of the neoconservatives and liberal interventionists?”


  4. Michael K Rohde
    July 9, 2017 at 12:10

    It is clear that there are forces within our government dedicated to the proposition that Assad has to go. That is also the expressed foreign policy of one of our “allies” who has apparently been able to persuade enough players within the respective bureaucracies that anything else is unacceptable. That we have a government within our government that is apparently more responsive to a foreign government than to our own is a concern that is long passed being addressed. The fact is if you try to execute 2 policies at the same time one or both is bound to fail. We need to take back control from these unelected actors doing the bidding of foreign governments.

    • July 9, 2017 at 21:34

      Just want to thank you all for the thoughtful comments and helpful added detail you have provided. If is always worth my while to read through, and often be educated by, you input. ray

  5. Michael Kenny
    July 9, 2017 at 10:34

    Everything depends on Putin’s moves in Ukraine. Ukraine is the “main event”. Syria is a sideshow. The only point of attacking Putin in Syria is to force him out of Ukraine. Up to now, Putin has shown no inclination whatsoever to get out of Ukraine or even accept the tacit “deal” which has been on the table from day one: abandon Donetsk and Lugansk and keep Crimea under some sort of classic, face saving European “fudge” with Ukraine. The US controls the agenda in Syria. It can agree to a ceasefire whenever it wants and it can end a ceasefire any time it wants. Judging from the arguments put forward by Putin’s American supporters at the time, Putin’s military support of Assad was just a means of elbowing his way into the war on terror as a US ally and claiming his “reward” in Ukraine. Trump’s message seems to be “give up Ukraine and you can keep Assad”. Putin, on the other hand, seems to be saying “you can have Assad if you let me keep Ukraine”. In other words, they’re at cross purposes and one or the other has to capitulate, which neither can afford to do. If Putin backs down, he destroys himself in the eyes of his elderly Soviet-generation supporters back home. If Trump backs down, he destroys the American superpower, with all the political and economic consequences that that entails. Also, since Putin’s American supporters have successfully (sic!) branded him as Putin’s stooge, any abandonment of Ukraine will fuel Russiagate. So, unless Putin steps down when his term expires next May, they have to fight it out and Syria is probably the least bad place to do that. So the ceasefire is great. It keeps Putin bogged down and ending it whenever the US wants to is to Putin’s disadvantage.

    • F. G. Sanford
      July 9, 2017 at 13:05

      Wow. I didn’t know they still make blotter acid.

    • Joe Average
      July 9, 2017 at 14:02

      Let’s hope Sunday premium is worth the effort of writing such a long (nonsensical) text.

    • Skip Scott
      July 10, 2017 at 09:50

      Back to hiding out at the bottom of the comment stream, I see. Just hoping to tuck your BS in at the bottom and have no one notice. Hope you’re selling your soul for a decent paycheck at least.

  6. July 9, 2017 at 06:32

    Personnally at 78 years old, I am no more too concerned about that shit. I only worry about what we will leave for the future générations.
    Idiots, arrogant, phony like that US made drone Macron don’t give a dam about it…

  7. July 9, 2017 at 06:24

    Let us not forget than practically all medias belong to the billionare oligarks who do not particularly appreciate the working class…
    Please ! Explain to those europeans dummies what is the Kallergy plan which concern them all directly…

  8. July 9, 2017 at 06:15

    The medias are also part of that FUCKEN BRAINWASHING SYSTEM.

  9. July 9, 2017 at 04:54

    As usual you forgot the two main points. 1) America meddle in all élections taking place all over the World. (Mostly in Russia).
    2) The US Military Industrial Complex run Washington and need to keep huge financial benefits for its military industries. Its waste more money on that subject than the rest of the World put togheder (With corruptions and buying foreign playmates its reach nearly 1000 billions dollars annualy). All humans who are not US Citizen must boycott everything made in that fucken country (Until de decent, abused American people. wake up and clean the mess. In my view, this is the only left possibility to avoid in a very short time the ultimate holocauste)…

    • July 9, 2017 at 06:13

      I notice than not very many peoples reply at my thoughfull remarks. In the Western countries people are as dumb as their décisions makers who brainwash them accordingly…

      • Sam F
        July 9, 2017 at 08:10

        I think that most readers here agree with you already.
        If you focus on the points, and leave out words of anger, dialog will occur.

  10. F. G. Sanford
    July 9, 2017 at 02:42

    At the heart of the desire to partition, Balkanize or Bantustanize Syria and eliminate Assad is the elimination of a legitimate government which can exercise a historical claim to Golan. Israel has no intention to relinquish Golan. It continues to appropriate Palestinian territory by authorization of new settlements, and its expansionist ambitions no doubt extend to territory in Lebanon and perhaps Jordan as well.

    The “ceasefire agreement” as I understand it only applies to areas in the southwest of Syria, where there is already a “deconfliction zone”. A brief look at a map confirms that the area in question is in proximity to Golan, where Israel has repeatedly made hostile incursions into Syrian territory based on the flimsiest of excuses. One of these excuses has been “errant projectiles” which, while causing no damage to Israel, have apparently landed in Israeli occupied territory. In other words, Israel demands the right to attack Syria based on a perceived threat to territory which belongs to Syria.

    So, in other words, the “agreement” is merely a restatement of an understanding which was already in place…if I understand correctly. It may have been violated prior to the current re-agreement, but I’m not clear on that. Pardon my pessimism. Even if President Trump reels in the deep state – an unlikely proposition without indictments and convictions – he has shown little tendency to curb his deference to Bibi Netanyahu.

    This comment will add little to the discussion at hand, nor will it appreciably enlighten anyone whose mind is already made up. If I’m correct, it will have “I told you so” value, but if we all end up dead, what difference will that make? Does anybody really believe that, after getting us twenty trillion in debt, these military geniuses are going to stop now? They think it’s a slot machine, and they’ve pumped in too many quarters to just walk away. So…no, this won’t end amicably. Hope I’m wrong.

    • Sam F
      July 9, 2017 at 08:06

      Good points; no real change of or within the players, so no likely change of outcome.
      Plainly the politician statements mean nothing; their past acts tell the story.
      Dark state control is unlikely without indictments and convictions.
      US military will always demand thousands more troops here and there, unable to cite any path to a final goal.
      US politicians are >97% traitors working for Israeli/MIC/WallSt bribes.
      The US oligarchy are all traitors, stealing from the people of the United States.

      There will be no accords until the US is completely embargoed and defeated on all fronts.
      Then its oligarchy can refocus its corruption and rob what little its own people have left.

    • mike k
      July 9, 2017 at 10:02

      Your slot machine analogy is quite apt Sam. Those addicted to power and wealth display all the characteristics of alcoholics, gamblers, and all addicts. Rationality is out the window for those so afflicted. Reality can kick them in the head again and again, but they will keep coming back for more, more, more…..

      • mike k
        July 9, 2017 at 10:04

        Oops. That reply was directed to F.G. not Sam.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 9, 2017 at 22:36

      Are you kidding, you bring something interesting each time you post your comments here F.G.. Please forgive the flattery, but if your like most of us, you can use it once in awhile.

      When you mention Israel and the Golan, and how the Golen belongs to Syria, I stop to wonder how our news media will describe that particular geographical location. I mean will our media spin in such away as to make it sound like the Golan does belong to Israel, or will our media spin the ownership of the Golan as though Israel is better deserving of that place?

      About that 20 trillion dollar debt tab, that our government has allowed to grow ever higher all because of these wars, in my little brain I can’t see for the life of me, how our American society will ever pay that down. I have read, and heard, economists try and speak to how to bring that obscene number down, but I’ve never been convinced that any of these high paid accountants knows what they are talking about. I mean how could they? I mean when was the last time a number that high was hatched down to saw dust? So, I regret that my generation is leaving my grandchildrens generation with a bank full of hurt.

      Always enjoy reading your comments Joe

  11. Alister
    July 9, 2017 at 02:11

    More evidence that “our” democracy is a farce and does not function. What dirt did the deep state have on Obama to force the military hand to scuttle the cease fire. What should have happened is that the President should have fired the insubordinates in the military and CIA and had them charged with treason. This is what needs to be done, in the open, so that some semblance of democracy is restored. We have no strong leaders, not one will stand up and take a public position that supports Americans and not the special interest agenda and Zionist policies that they are corralled into taking.

  12. Tom
    July 8, 2017 at 22:26

    The only way to get rid of Al-Assad is political. Kerry lost all credibility when he said that the US is not responsible for the continuing chaos in Libya after overthrowing/killing Ghaddafi.

    • Skip Scott
      July 9, 2017 at 07:51

      He had lost all credibility with me long before that.

  13. desert mary
    July 8, 2017 at 21:52

    The U.S. is now totally under the control of the Deep State and the military, which Dwight D Eisenhower had warned against….if the younger generations of Americans were smart, they would leave this country and live elsewhere…in a country that is ‘generic’ with a beautiful climate and no world military (or otherwise) ambitions.
    Under the current shadow government, the U.S. is and will continue to be a living hell.

    • Sam F
      July 9, 2017 at 08:15

      Truman also regretted creating the CIA; but he had much more to regret in leading off the cold war.

  14. Herman
    July 8, 2017 at 21:28

    I always thought that the cure for US aggression would have been the criminal prosecution of George Bush and his handlers who invaded Iraq based on lies, clear for all to see. The United States, acting as a nation of laws to have tried the alleged criminals and punished in the same manner as with the Nurenberg trials. Such an act would have been a warning to all those who would and have sent men and women to die that there is a price to pay.

    As to the Vickie Hailey’s and others bent on stoking the fires. the only hope is that when they disobey the President, they will be fired. Showing such courage could lose the Presidency for Trump but I doubt it because he could take his case to the people and raise a helluva ruckus, enough to get some real changes in Washington.

    That the President would act in this manner is highly unlikely, still no one else other than the President can clean up the mess.

    • Sam F
      July 9, 2017 at 08:22

      Yes, prosecution of the Iraq warmongers is essential but our oligarchy mass media say nothing of that.
      Trump could control the dark state if he wished, and apparently is instead persuaded by them.
      Presidents are surrounded socially by the NSC et al; Trump was apparently not prepared to take control.

  15. occupy on
    July 8, 2017 at 21:21

    Thank you Ray McGovern for again giving us the realities of US foreign policy. Thank you for reminding us of the almost 90 Syrian soldiers who were killed by our war planes on the last day of the ceasefire test that the US and our stated proxies in Syria had agreed to (with, apparently no intention of honoring). The US has a sordid history this century in the Middle East. It’s time for us to quit being warlord of the world, quit helping Israel deconstruct the strong Arab secular nations around themselves (Oded Yinon Olan 1982), and start living up to the tenets of the United Nations.

  16. Jean-David
    July 8, 2017 at 21:11

    Each member of the deep state who is in the chain of command under the President of the United States, and who disobeys, can probably be convicted of treason and punished according to the law. If the President of the US cannot make an agreement with the President of another country, what can he do. If the President is a servant of the deep state, the US as a constitutional government has been overthrown.

    • Skip Scott
      July 9, 2017 at 07:49

      It happened on Nov. 22nd 1963.

    • Sam F
      July 9, 2017 at 08:31

      Yes, the US has completely lost democracy: WWII and and the MIC/zionist/WallSt oligarchy led us into cold war, endless war, and dark state: Truman regretted it all, and Kennedy could not end it.

    • Joe Tedesky
      July 9, 2017 at 22:58

      About that constitutional government being overthrown, well some people peg the pivot to that to when in 1913 the Federal Reserve was voted in while congress was out of secession, and it took all but three votes to put it in place. Another pivotal moment, for some, is when in 1944 the conniving and cajoling militarists Democrates forced Henry Wallace off the Democratic vice presidential ticket, to replace him with the always agreeable Harry Truman. Then for me, I see JFK’s assassination, along with his brother Bobby, and Martin Luther King, as being one hell of a pivotal moment in our nations history, for these regretful deaths pretty well secured to who is left in charge.

      911 of course is pivotal to putting us into this world of fighting terrorism, but it could be argued that everything I previously mentioned had to happen in order for 911 to happen…yes I believe 911 was an inside job.

      No matter whether it’s 1913, 1944, or 1963, we have in our great nation a cabal who’s interest isn’t determined by what the people of this nation want, but what is good for the cabal, and nothing more. I might add this disclaimer, that I continue to call the U.S. great because of it’s people, but not great because of it’s government.

      Keep posting Jean-David you bring up interesting items to discuss. Joe

    • Bob Van Noy
      July 10, 2017 at 09:03

      Exactly Jean-David. And thanks to all for the linkage…

  17. John Culp
    July 8, 2017 at 21:08

    This is a very insightful article .. and it stands unfortunately alone in the big media .. but maybe they will see the light, too .. it would be easier for them to have read Ray McGovern’s analysis first .. and save a lot of their and our wasted time .. so .. hats off to Ray for such a great article! .. by the way .. I look forward to hearing his keynote speech personally once again at the upcoming Stopp Ramstein demonstration in Germany .. Stopp Ramstein 2017: 08-10 September 2017 starting in Karlsruhe .. last year we had over 5000 demonstrators .. and this year it looks like we’ll more than double that .. meanwhile .. it is very encouraging to see that Consortium keeps us plugged into the outstandingly balanced and informed voices of the truth! !

    • Sam F
      July 9, 2017 at 08:37

      Presumably Stopp Ramstein seeks to oust the US base at Ramstein. Even if it cannot overcome wishes for a US presence to defend Germany, it should restrict such bases to purely defensive activity. If you can show that US fake “defense” is the aggression that alone requires a defense of Germany, then perhaps support to oust the base will increase, as in Japan and the Philippines.

    July 8, 2017 at 19:57

    There is no such animal as an ex CIA operative.
    They were and always are part of it.

    • mike k
      July 9, 2017 at 09:47

      We need to keep a rein on our paranoia, otherwise it can mislead us.

    July 8, 2017 at 19:53

    A cease fire mans time for US to fully supply its terrorist allies, so when they break it those groups will put more pressure upon Syrian Gov.
    Whrre is Israel, being as how they bomb and Russia and Dyrias allies with impunity, what becomes of its intent to steal more Syrian lands.
    Will the US support the Ramping up of invasion of Lebsnon, as patt of their terrorist wsr on Hezbola?
    How easily we let the professional propagandist lead us into mentslly masturbation games while they hide behind their media outlets. There are so many ongoing military activities, all part of one overiding strategy that of our Empire building.
    Wow how lucky we when they produce our next reslity progrsm.

    • mike k
      July 9, 2017 at 09:48

      Try using spell check.

  20. Roger Annis
    July 8, 2017 at 19:43

    Canada’s state-run broadcaster, the CBC, is repeating the gloomy theme it sounded in Sept 2016 saying prospects for a lasting ceasefire are dim. This time, it adds that the previous ceasefire (no date or info) failed. Though, of course, no mention of what and who caused it to fail.
    Writer Caitlin Johnstone sounds a similar and necessary note of caution to Ray’s article.

    July 8, 2017 at 19:13

    In plain street gutter talk Kerry has always been an lying opportunist polical ass, using Viet Era anti-war groups inorder to gain elected office he very quickly sold them down the tube and became just another establishment protector.
    Bye the bye: the medals he supposedly through over White House fence hung behind his desk chair for years.
    Where and the heck is Syrian Presidents Assads’ imput as he watches US and Russia divide his nation.? Yes I know he and his now broken nation were never wealthy enough to join worlds top 20.
    As Putin stated when being interviewed by one of many US boobs for bombs; “We are not there to protect Assad, we are there to protect Syria.
    And later he conceded to US all airspace on one side of Euphrates.
    US has bases that are damn permanent looking in what was once Syria and now is part of what will be another Kurdistan; both of which will be no more than US/Israel protectorates.
    As us ramps up its military forces in Somalia in order to protect Qatars’oil rights, the sooner Assad is taken out both US and Russia will each be granted base and boh save face; letting US free up its forces to kill more browns and blacks in Somalia.
    Russia is a paper teddy bear when it comes to actually confrontig US Empire military and economic forces.

    • Skip Scott
      July 9, 2017 at 07:46

      I doubt very much that Putin will actually allow Assad to be removed, unless it is well into the future, and it is done through a democratic process. Russia is no paper teddy bear, they are formidable, and Putin knows there is no future for Syria if Assad is removed by force.

  22. Polly Ester
    July 8, 2017 at 19:00

    Nothing has changed the Pentagon is directed by neoconservatives and Israel–the peace agreement will be sabotaged. That’s probably why it has not been played up by the mainstream media news. CNN and MSNBC are CIA controlled.

    • Adrian Engler
      July 8, 2017 at 20:02

      I think that the terms of the ceasefire for the Southwest of Syria, which probably mean that Hezbollah and other militias backed by Iran won’t go there, are to a significant degree an attempt to appease Israel. I think this is a wise move. Israel repeatedly attacked the Syrian army in the area that will be covered by the ceasefire, and it has stated that it does not want Hezbollah in that area. Of course, it can be seen as unacceptable that Israel, which is already occupying a part of the Golan Heights that is internationally regarded as Syrian territory now even makes demands about a further buffer zone into which some of the forces that support the Syrian government should not go, and there is hardly any legal justification for the Israeli attacks on Syrian forces in that area. But often, it is good to be pragmatic and to make compromises. If the areas in Syria that are closest to Israel are policed by Russia in collaboration with countries Israel trusts even more, the US and Jordan, that is probably fine with many people in Israel, and that probably also takes away a significant part of neocons’ motivation for violent regime change in Syria, which could have terrible consequences. The ceasefire in the Southwest will make it easier for the Syrian army to concentrate its efforts in other areas, retaking more territories from Daesh, and if it works, it should also diminish the threat from Israel and US forces aligned with the neocons. At the same time, the fact that Russia will be strongly involved in that area, even if it is in collaboration with the US and Jordan, should give a certain degree of guarantees that the demarcation of that special zone will not be a first step of a permanent division of Syria.
      Of course, there are some forces in Israel and among the US neocons that still cling to the idea of violent regime change in Damascus, and they may well want to sabotage the ceasefire. But making compromises towards one key demand of Israel – that Hizbollah should not be close to the Golan Heights annexed by Israel – could lead to such internal divisions in Israel and among US neocons that the more moderate forces may prevail. By keeping Hezbollah out of that area, one key goal of Israel is reached, and any breakdown of the ceasefirecould endanger that again, so that Israel may also have a certain interest in the success of the ceasefire in that area.
      It may seem strange that it is so important to Israel that Iranian-backed forces do not come close to the Golan Heights annexed by Israel. After all, Hezbollah is already directly at Israel’s border in Lebanon, and it is strong enough that mutual deterrence should deter both sides from attacking each other (otherwise, it would be very bad both for Lebanon and Israel). Therefore, it is not immediately clear why it would change Israel’s situation so much if Hezbollah was also in the proximity of the Golan Heights. But it seems that in Israel the prevailing assessment is that this would be a significant deterioration of its strategic position.

  23. Litchfield
    July 8, 2017 at 18:55

    I do not understand why there are no consequence for insubordination.
    Is there anyone out there who can deliver Military Discipline 101 Cliff Notes?
    I thought that those who refuse to follow orders are subject to court martial.
    Why doesn’t Trump make clear that he is not going to play these games, and like it or not, he is the commander-in-chief. I should think that such an assertion of power would be right up Trump’s alley, and would be very effective way to cast the adolescent Obama into relative (and somewhat shameful) obscurity for a good long time. Mattis isn’t the only general around, and Trump would be a lot better off with a civilian secdef.

    • Skip Scott
      July 9, 2017 at 07:41

      Yeah, that’s it in a nutshell. Except you have to remember Schumer’s “6 ways from Sunday”. In the end, the President is no longer commander in chief, and the puppet masters pull the strings. There are consequences for insubordination, but it is Trump who is subordinate to the Deep State.

  24. Helen Marshall
    July 8, 2017 at 18:20

    Ash Carter was appointed by Obama, who presumably had some idea of what kind of man he was putting in power. And if Clinton were sitting in the White House now it is most unlikely that she’d be interested in anything but regime change in Syria and we might be even closer to war with Russia. Hard to be an optimist. Putin being clearly a realist can hardly be an optimist…remembering the old saw, a pessimist is an optimist who now understands the facts of the situation.

    • Realist
      July 8, 2017 at 19:06

      It’s even worse than that. Obama not only knew he was inserting a Russophrenic arch neocon into that office, the man he extracted, Chuck Hagel, was long an advocate of peace with Russia, being a board member of the American Committee for East-West Accord. Obama clearly and deliberately tilted towards war and away from peace. The Nobel Committee ought to rebrand Obama’s “peace prize” the “war prize,” or else rescind it. Let the money grubbing liar keep the cash. He’ll need it to continue his non-stop retirement party at the ritziest resorts for billionaires on the planet. You know, those half-million dollar speaking fees and book deals can only stretch so far.

    • incontinent reader
      July 9, 2017 at 21:17

      Helen: As a followup to your optimist-pessimist comment, here is one from Vladimir Putin at the October, 2014 Valdai Club:

      “We have the following anecdote about the pessimist and the optimist: The pessimist drinks cognac, winces and says, “It smells of chinch. – the optimist catches the bug, crushes him on the wall, sniffs it and says: “it smells of cognac “. I’d rather be a pessimist who drinks cognac, than an optimist who sniffs bugs. Although, of course, it seems that optimists live happier, but still, probably our goal (not abusing on alcohol) to live at some decent level. To do this, we must move away from crisis’, deal together with challenges and threats, and design such interactive conditions, which would help us solve these problems on the international arena”. (Source: (See the original article at Translated by Diana Vard)

  25. Abe
    July 8, 2017 at 18:11

    Before departing for the G20 summit in Hamburg, US Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson issued a statement on “the current situation in Syria”.

    Tillerson stated that the United States “believes Russia, as a guarantor of the Assad regime and an early entrant into the Syrian conflict, has a responsibility to ensure that the needs of the Syrian people are met and that no faction in Syria illegitimately re-takes or occupies areas liberated from ISIS’ or other terrorist groups’ control. Russia also has an obligation to prevent any further use of chemical weapons of any kind by the Assad regime.”

    Not content with that already precipitous level of delusion, Tillerson further remarked that the United States is “prepared to explore the possibility of establishing with Russia joint mechanisms for ensuring stability, including no-fly zones”

    Tillerson has thereby claimed that he efforts of the internationally recognized Syrian government to restore its territorial sovereignty are considered “illegitimate” by the US, and that Russia must ensure it does not happen.

    Ray McGovern states above that Tillerson “will have to face down hardliners in both the Pentagon and CIA”.

    Given the hard line that Tillerson already has declared, how much worse can it get?

    We know. It can and likely will get much, much worse before the Syrian people cease to suffer the agonies of assault by US/NATO-backed terrorist proxy forces.

  26. Cal
    July 8, 2017 at 16:58

    ” Yet, the key to Putin’s assessment of Donald Trump is whether the U.S. President is strong enough to make the mutually agreed-upon ceasefire stick. As Putin is well aware, to do so Trump will have to take on the same “deep-state” forces that cheerily scuttled similar agreements in the past.”>>>>

    in addition to the Deep State you have the ‘cockroaches’ who scurry around for cash crumbs…

    What were a Saudi prince, a former Republican House Speaker and a former Democratic vice-presidential candidate doing together in a suburb of Paris last weekend?
    Would you be surprised to discover that Prince Turki Bin Faisal, Newt Gingrich and Joe Lieberman were speaking on behalf of a group of Iranian exiles that was officially designated a “Foreign Terrorist Organization” by the United States government between 1997 and 2012?
    Iran hawks long ago fell head over heels for the Mojahedin-e Khalq, known as the MEK, and loudly and successfully lobbied for it to be removed from the State Department list of banned terror groups in 2012. Formed in Iran in the 1960s, the MEK, whose name translates to “Holy Warriors of the People,” was once an avowedly anti-American, semi-Marxist, semi-Islamist group, pledged to toppling the U.S.-backed Shah by force and willing to launch attacks on U.S. targets. The MEK even stands accused of helping with the seizure of hostages at the U.S. embassy in Tehran; the group condemned the hostages’ release as a “surrender” to the United States. But after the Iran’s clerical rulers turned on the group in the early 1980s, its leaders fled the country and unleashed a series of bombings across Iran.
    You might understand why a Saudi prince, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, or uber-hawk and former Bush administration official John Bolton — who all attended the Paris rally — might be willing to get behind such a weird collection of fanatics and ideologues. But what would make a liberal Democrat from Vermont such as Howard Dean — who has suggested Maryam Rajavi be recognized as the president of Iran in exile — want to get into bed with them? Or Georgia congressman and civil rights hero John Lewis, who spoke out in favor of the MEK in 2010?

    Could it be because of the old, if amoral, adage that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”? Perhaps. Could it be the result of ignorance, of senior U.S. figures failing to do due diligence? Maybe.

    Or could it be a consequence of cold, hard cash? “Many of these former high-ranking U.S. officials — who represent the full political spectrum — have been paid tens of thousands of dollars to speak in support of the MEK,” revealed a wide-ranging investigation by the Christian Science Monitor in 2011.
    Candidate Trump, who blasted George W. Bush’s Middle East wars of aggression, has been replaced by President Trump, who appointed Iran hawks such as James Mattis and Mike Pompeo to run the Pentagon and the CIA, respectively; counts MEK shills such as Giuliani and Gingrich among his closest outside advisers; and appointed Elaine Chao, who took $50,000 from the Rajavis for a five-minute speech in 2015, to his cabinet”

    Howard Dean takes the Nobel for scummiest and stupidest imo.

    • July 8, 2017 at 18:14

      …very informative, Cal…thanks

  27. elmerfudzie
    July 8, 2017 at 16:34

    Let’s deliberately skip endless diatribes about the Syrian conflict and what really amounts to, future pipeline (gas/oil) distribution rights. Rather consider this, why permit the Chinese (Silk Road) to do all the high speed rail manufacture and integration between the the EU and second world countries? I hope Trump and Putin will work together and get the ball rolling on creating their own rail system, traversing northern Russia, across the Bering Strait into Alaska, Washington and Oregon, perhaps as far south as northern California?. Eventually there will be ample numbers of solid middle class Russians, who’ll discover the “snow bird thing”. For half the year, they will migrate to our US northern coast instead of trying to all jamb into Sochi. Coastal real estate values won’t be subject to “bubble economics” anymore- a speculative strategy that has left Chinese property investors, reeling. At the same time, our famous Northwestern vineyards and tourist industries will flourish. Passport free, visa free, three hundred pound carry on luggage limit per visitor!!, duty free for all alcohol products… So Comrades! bring down barrels of Stoli with you, perhaps we’ll set up bartering tents next to the farmers markets! a boozers dream come true !!!

    • July 8, 2017 at 17:12

      Brilliant… and obvious, now that you’ve pointed it out. Even I could have thought of that, had I thought about it! Not being facetious either…

    • Sam F
      July 8, 2017 at 18:35

      The general idea is good, although that’s rather a long rail trip; even flying across the Pacific is quite costly and time-consuming. Russians might do better to vacation in SE Asia or Turkey.

      Cooperation with Russia and China in development projects anywhere is far better than allowing US tyrants to whomp up fears about them. The US should be massively aiding infrastructure development in S America, and we all could aid Africa.

      • elmerfudzie
        July 8, 2017 at 21:52

        Sam F: The phrase missing in this discussion is!…..Electrodynamic suspension. In short, the rail-cars will move, on average, about 350 mph or travel ~4,000 miles during an over night-er. ASIDE: If memory serves, in grad school, I distinctly remember just how impressed I was with English translations of Russian scientific papers. The clarity and lovely expression/articulation discovered in research abstracts, materials and methods and conclusions…Now, the combined efforts of the South Koreans (they know a lot about modern train technology) Russian engineers, arguably the best in the world, AND that good old American, can-do spirit, will all come together and create a splendid cargo and passenger rail system. A twenty four hour stint across Mother Russia, the Bering Straits and Coastal Alaska, can easily tally up to about eight thousand plus topographic miles!…Geeeee, that kind of speed can get you anywhere! Let us dismiss the hype propaganda about 787’s, forget their battery problems and those abominable airport crowds, groping(s) and X ray machines…Drones will finally have a good purpose here, constantly monitoring remote areas of rail traffic, in search of highwaymen, stalled vehicles in the wrong place and bad weather…Dream baby, dream!…we can do this!

        • Joe Tedesky
          July 8, 2017 at 22:28

          Imagine if we had sunk half of the trillions we have spent on war over these last twenty five years into such a project, as you have described.

        • Sam F
          July 9, 2017 at 08:50

          Maglev has been around for generations now, but for intercontinental routes it appears to compare unfavorably with air travel: slower, longer routes, more energy needed, more vulnerable to poor maintenance and sabotage.

          But I agree that there are many major projects for superpower cooperation: most of them involve infrastructure in the developing world, communications, and energy/food/scientific/medical research.

    • Realist
      July 8, 2017 at 18:49

      I love your vision for the future. Unfortunately for me at age 70, I’d need another lifetime in which to see it come to fruition. With all the fabulous new technology being developed, humanity can create a golden age. Or it can destroy itself, or large segments thereof. Better to limit population growth than to cull the herd, which is what TPTB seem to have in mind.

    • irina
      July 8, 2017 at 21:32

      Rail across the tundra won’t work as the permafrost is melting too fast.
      And at least in Alaska, we can’t even take care of our few hundred miles of highway.

      A rail link from Fairbanks east is a real possibility except for all the permitting nightmares.

      But the real future might be — modern day dirigibles, which Russia is (once again) ahead of the game on developing.

      • Elmerfudzie
        July 9, 2017 at 10:02

        Irina, no problem-support beams down to the bedrock-can do!

        • irina
          July 9, 2017 at 22:35

          Um, maybe you should come up here and drive around for a while.
          Permafrost is tricky stuff. (We know, we build houses on it. With vertical supports.)

          Dirigibles leave very little environmental footprint and can do heavy lifting in remote areas :

          Just building a railroad bridge across the Tanana River at Salcha cost over $40 million in permitting alone a few years ago. The Tanana is a big, muddy, glacial silt river but there were environmental concerns about turbidity, among other things. . . Can you imagine actually trying to get anywhere these days with an overland project ? (Said bridge does not
          connect to the existing Alaska Railroad terminus at Eielson Air Force base and will not for quite a while, even
          with the military’s might behind pushing the permitting process through. And that’s only a matter of several miles).

          Dirigibles do not even require a runway, would function very well in the winter (cold air = better lift), and are not
          limited to already established routes like rail and air . . .

          • elmerfudzie
            July 10, 2017 at 01:34

            Irinia, defeatist attitudes are not permitted.!.. We (USA) are a Can Do Nation and with Russian and Korean help, unstoppable. No technical problem is too difficult, and financially speaking, it’s a simple matter to transfer a trillion or two dollars out of various pentagon budgets and direct monies, at long last, towards a more practical and better cause. Gold- Moscow has plenty of it, oil too…No, the cost is NOT prohibitive. Only an old “cold war” mindset, obsolete paradigms within a clique of banksters such as, the City of London (central business district), Federal Reserve, IMF, IBRD, World Bank v.s. everyone else s’ piggy bank. As a group almost a commonwealth-entity, they remain the single and REAL obstacle, not only to world peace but actual world integration WITHOUT “globalization”.

    • Alister
      July 9, 2017 at 05:43

      Your assuming that the people of Asia and Central Asia actually want goods from the USA…I have been doing business there for many years and I can tell you first hand they don’t. What are we going to sell them besides an iPhone….which is made entirely in China… what can we export besides fast food…..snacks…crappy Starbucks coffee, and obesity…I always ask people I meet with in Asia what they thInk about the US and Europe and the politics with Russia….and guess what the answer always is…. We don’t really care….they say their future is bright…they have an improving life, they make money, educate their kids and save money…. So tell me how the heck do we compete with that… with our cities full of violence, third world infrastructure, kids who feel entitled to get what they want without and work, a economic system based on debt as opposed to savings… You can build your rail system but no one will come….it will meet the same fait as the Alaskan Bridge to Nowhere……

      • Sam F
        July 9, 2017 at 08:44

        Yes, the US has no goods to sell, only marketing and mass media lies, and no one is in need of that.
        A disgraced government that betrays its people for oligarchy, the US has nothing to offer and is not trusted.

  28. Realist
    July 8, 2017 at 15:56

    It should prove interesting when the US military refuses to abide by whatever agreements Trump may make with Putin, just as they sabotaged Obama. Trump’s response will tell us a lot about whether the Deep State has succeeded in “getting his mind right” about who really runs the executive branch of government. If he rolls over, they may let him keep his titular job. If he causes any public unpleasantness, look for the impeachment talk to pick up again. If they really want him gone, I suspect they can fabricate any evidence needed, which the media will solidly support even if badly crafted, and the entire House and Senate can be arm-twisted to “do the right thing.”

    • incontinent reader
      July 8, 2017 at 16:14

      Maybe it’s a false hope, but I suspect our military will exercise more discipline under Mattis than under Carter (who probably gave the green light to the attack on the SAR at Deir Ezzor, or at least would not have discouraged it). If that is the case, and Mattis, as our top military man, is less likely to break a deal he makes with the Russian military (another assumption) – then maybe things will hold a bit, though the wild card is still Israel and its jihadists in the South, and the influence they might exercise over Trump to cause him to trip into another Khan Sheikhoun.

      Note also that General Antonov is slated as Ambassador Kislyak’s replacement, who, by virtue of his experience, is well positioned to negotiate collaboration between our two countries for combatting terrorism in Syria and elsewhere.

  29. robert
    July 8, 2017 at 13:57


    ….helping the refugees should be the priority.

    ……most G20 leaders seem content to blow up the middle east.

    …least they could do is to speed the refugees onward to the country of their choice.

    • July 8, 2017 at 15:54

      There was a huge wave of Syrian refuggees when donor nations refused to donate the pennies per day it took to feed the million or so Syrians in the UN refugee camps leaving men with no food.

  30. July 8, 2017 at 13:47

    I don’t see much reason to be hopeful at this point.

    Putin-Trump Chemistry and baby steps toward peace leave much to be desired. What are US objectives? Why the secretiveness? Why has’t Trump walk back his inducement to Jihadi’s to conduct a false flag cw attack? (see, for example:

  31. July 8, 2017 at 13:33

    “… Kremlin eyes will be focused on Secretary of State Tillerson, watching to see if he has better luck than Kerry did in getting Ashton Carter’s successor, James “Mad Dog” Mattis and CIA’s latest captive-director Pompeo into line behind what President Trump wants to do.”

    The previous article on Consortium News offers little hope of that (see:

    “… in Trump’s near-half-year in office, he has slid more into line with the war hawks both by continuing to beat his chest over his own application of military force and by shifting control over many attack decisions to military field commanders and the Pentagon high command…. With Mattis at the Pentagon’s helm, the Trump administration has rapidly shifted toward a military dynamic, taking aim at many of the old neocon targets, including Syria and Iran. Mattis’s combative perspective seems to be at the core of these policies…”

  32. Mark Thomason
    July 8, 2017 at 13:05

    “the forces that sabotaged previous ceasefire agreements in Syria” were more than just the neocons. The complexity of interest groups means that just shutting down the neocons would not be enough to save Syria.

    There is the Turkish-Kurd problem. There is the Saudi-Iran problem. There is the Israel-Yinon Plan problem including designs on the rest of the Golan. There is the Wahhabi problem, separate from the Saudi rivalry with Iran, that attacks the Syrians for being secular. There is the Israeli-Iran problem, seeking a route to Iran. There is the Israeli design on Lebanon, and so Hezbollah and Syria are key.

    It has become a giant nightmare. It keeps getting worse. The neocons stoked all that. They succeeded in spinning this up. Now it is up.

    • Dave P.
      July 8, 2017 at 23:37

      Mark Thomason: Yes. There are complex forces in this equation. I think U.S. has all the weight in the forces marshaled for a regime change in Syria – the God Father Don Corleone. I also think U.S. is going to cast aside the Kurds and side with Turkey on that.

      • Brad Owen
        July 10, 2017 at 07:30

        Dave I don’t think The Donald personally gives a flying eff about regime change wars, and wants to crush terrorist movements, not fully realizing they are Deep State assets. But he is preoccupied with the attacks upon his Presidency and is letting the Pentagon run on auto-pilot (bad decision) while preparing his defense against charges leading to impeachment or 25th amendment (he’s not so thrilled with the Presidency anymore…more of a survival and reputation challenge now). The Synarchists of Wall Street, City-of-London and other financial centers throughout EU won’t let Kurds go, as they will be instrumental in ejecting Turks from Anatolia Province and Constantinople, in their long-range plans for a new, Napoleonic, Holy Roman (completely corporate-fascist) Empire. Kurds are secular as they have significant Zoarastrian, Yasnavian, Christian, Jewish religions within their sunni muslim ranks. They are the ancient Medes by descent.

  33. July 8, 2017 at 12:50

    Thanks for the astute analysis of the complexity of the Syrian situation and the particularly interesting insight into the infighting between the State Dept. and the Pentagon under the Obama administration. I would be interested to hear Ray’s take on how Erdogan might be dealt with by the State Dept. and whether the Kurds are likely to once again be abandoned after accomplishing their mission on the ground.

    • Litchfield
      July 8, 2017 at 19:07

      “infighting between the State Dept. and the Pentagon under the Obama administration”

      This infighting was already a feature of the runup to the invasion of Iraq.
      The Pentagon refused to listen to the STate Department’s assessments and basic info on the internal situation in Iraq. The Pentagon was already running amok. In fact, pre-9/11 it was already out of control and amok. What happened to the . . . was it $2 trillion, or $3??

      • July 8, 2017 at 21:46

        Yes, I remember…there were no auditing of expenses and Colin Powell was used as a shill for the invasion…but during the first Obama administration it seemed Chuck Hagel tried to put reins on military expenses until Ash Carter took over and Obama lost interest in overseeing foreign policy. It seems like the fall of Mosul in 2014 was basically the reason for the change. If Obama had secured Mosul instead of taking the attitude that it was then Iraq’s responsibility, I don’t believe the hawks like McCain in congress would have had their way. The war was a Bush/Cheney fiasco but it was still Obama’s responsibility as Commander in Chief to pursue peace in an orderly way.

  34. Abe
    July 8, 2017 at 12:42

    “If recent history is any guide, it would be folly to rule out another ‘accidental’ U.S. bombing of Syrian government troops or a well-publicized ‘chemical attack’ or some other senseless ‘war crime’ that social media and mainstream media will immediately blame on President Bashar al-Assad.”

    Mainstream media and social media are hard at work, falsely claiming the Syrian government for “lying” and “stalling” investigation into the Khan Shaykhun incident

    Real investigative journalism has been mostly AWOL on the matter of fake “citizen investigative journalism” Eliot Higgins and his Bellingcat “online investigation” propaganda generator.

    When will Mr. McGovern and his intelligence veteran colleagues produce a focused, detailed critical analysis of the “open source intelligence” scams perpetrated by Higgins and Bellingcat?

    Higgins has been at it since 2012, and VIPS still hasn’t officially weighed in on the matter. Please tell us: Why?

    • Abe
      July 8, 2017 at 15:34

      Eliot Higgins is busy Tweeting:

      Funny how the mainstream medias’s leading conspiracy theorist Higgins and his army of stenographers at the “First Draft” media coalition (Washington Post, New York Times, CNN, UK Guardian, BBC, Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab, Kiev’s StopFake, et cetera ad absurdum) never mention the fact that Syria, Russia, and Seymour Hersh’s sources in the intelligence community all agree:

      Sarin was not used by the Syrian Air Force in the 4 April 2017 bombing of Khan Shaykhun.

      Higgins gets paid to promote US/NATO conspiracy theories about phantom Syrian bombs and magic Russian missiles.

    • Abe
      July 8, 2017 at 15:42

      Higgins and Brian Whitaker, the Guardian’s former Middle East editor, have a long history of willful misrepresentation of the US/NATO dirty war in Syria

    • Abe
      July 8, 2017 at 15:55

      The U.S. Intelligence Community (IC) is responsible for gathering and analyzing the intelligence necessary to conduct foreign relations and national security activities.

      The ability of the President and the Secretary of Defense to understand and respond to specific threats as quickly as possible is severely compromised by the production of “Government Assessment” documents based on inaccurate information.

      Previous memoranda from Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) have addressed the “Government Assessment” political documents employed by the White House:

      “Is Syria a Trap?” (6 September 2013)

      “Sarin Attack at Ghouta on Aug. 21, 2013” (22 December 2015)

      “Releasing an Intelligence Report on Shoot-Down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17” (22 July 2015)

      “Syria: Was It Really ‘A Chemical Weapons Attack’?” (11 April 2017)

      Of urgent concern is the body of information used to manufacture “Government Assessment” documents. The United States Government’s assessments appear to have relied primarily on videos, social media reports and journalist accounts.

      Open-source intelligence (OSINT) is defined by both the U.S. Director of National Intelligence and the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), as “produced from publicly available information that is collected, exploited, and disseminated in a timely manner to an appropriate audience for the purpose of addressing a specific intelligence requirement.”

      OSINT is intelligence collected from publicly available sources. In the intelligence community (IC), the term “open” refers to overt, publicly available sources (as opposed to covert or clandestine sources).

      The US Intelligence Community’s open-source activities (known as the National Open Source Enterprise) are dictated by Intelligence Community Directive 301 promulgated by the Director of National Intelligence.

      The “Government Assessment” political documents employed by the White House in August 2013 and July 2014 appear to have relied on an extra-governmental species of “open source intelligence” largely supplied by bloggers based in the United Kingdom.

      Assessments of chemical use in Syria in 2013 (Brown Moses blog) and the downing of Flight MH17 and its aftermath in 2014 (Bellingcat blog) were supplied by UK citizen Eliot Higgins of Leicester.

      Higgins’ collaborator Dan Kaszeta, a US-UK dual national based in London, provided additional claims of “chemical attacks” in Syria for both the Brown Moses and Bellingcat blogs.

      Since 2013, self-appointed “chemical weapons expert” Kaszeta and “citizen investigative journalist” Higgins have continued to make claims about “chemical attacks” in Syria.

      Immediately following the the 4 April 2017 chemical incident at Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib Syria, Kaszeta was cited as a go-to “expert” by the BBC, UK Guardian, CNN, Time magazine, NPR, Germany’s Die Welt and Deutsche Welle, Business Insider, Popular Science, Asia Times and the Associated Press.

      Not content with merely quoting Kaszeta, BBC News online went so far as to publish an essay authored by Kaszeta titled “Syria ‘chemical attack’: What can forensics tell us?” At the end of his BBC News essay, in a furtive effort to quickly “tie the whole narrative together”, Kaszata mentioned that “In 2013, the chemical hexamine, used as an additive, was a critical piece of information linking the Ghouta attack to the government of President Assad.” This intriguing tidbit linked to a December 2013 New York Times article quoting Kaszeta’s own claims about the “very damning evidence” of hexamine.

      However, Kaszeta’s claims about hexamine were already debunked in 2014. Kaszeta continues to claim that Hexamine was used in the 2013 Ghouta attack, despite the evidence that Hexamine is not soluble in alcohols, making it ineffective for this purpose.

      Accurate analysis of all primary and secondary evidence relating to the 21 August 2013 chemical incident at Ghouta indicates it was carried out by Al Qaeda terrorist forces (Al Nusra Front or Jabhat al Nusra, also known as the Jabhat Fateh al Sham).

      Accurate analysis of evidence relating to the 4 April 2017 chemical incident at Khan Shaykhun indicates it was carried out by Al Qaeda terrorist forces (Hay’at Tahrir al Sham, the latest rebranding of Al Nusra).

      Higgins and Kaszeta have vigorously backed the narrative of an air-dropped chemical bomb in Idlib. However, none of Kaszeta’s articles on Bellingcat, nor any of the numerous citations of Kaszeta by mainstream media, address the complete absence of evidence of an aerial bomb.

      The alleged “Sarin bomb” hole in the road in Idlib has been photographed numerous times from multiple angles. The size, depth and shape of the hole are clear evidence that it was not produced by a falling object such as an air-dropped bomb.

      MIT physicist and Theodore A. Postol has pointed out that there is “no evidence that this attack was the result of a munition being dropped from an aircraft”.

      Despite the fact that Higgins and Kaszeta’s previous claims about chemical attacks in Syria were repeatedly debunked, they continue to be cited as “experts” by mainstream media, human rights organizations, and Western governments.

      Disinformation provided Kaszeta and Higgins enabled the Trump administration to launch its Tomahawk missile attack against Syria without significant resistance from the American public.

      On 19 April 2017, an anonymous Israeli military official provided an evidence free briefing to reporters in Jerusalem. He said that an “Israeli intelligence” claimed that Syrian military commanders ordered the Khan Shaukun attack with President Assad’s knowledge. He also said Israel “estimates” Syria still has “between one and three tons” of chemical weapons. Two other anonymous Israeli defense officials “confirmed” this “assessment”.

      The Associated Press (AP) report of the Israeli briefing included an interview with Bellingcat’s Kaszeta. Josef Federman, AP bureau chief for Israel since 2014, wrote:

      “Dan Kaszeta, a U.K.-based chemical weapons expert, said the Israeli estimate appeared to be conservative, but nonetheless was enough to be highly lethal.

      “‘One ton of sarin could easily be used to perpetrate an attack on the scale of the 2013 attack. It could also be used for roughly 10 attacks of a similar size to the recent Khan Sheikhoun attack,’ he said.”

      The fact that Kaszeta is now backing evidence free “Israeli intelligence” claims that Syria still possesses chemical weapons points to collusion between Israel and the fake “citizen investigative journalists” at Bellingcat.

      Reckless military actions based on fake “open source intelligence” supplied by UK-based possible deception operatives, and evidence free “assessments” from Israel, obviously represent a grave national security concern for the United States.

      • Virginia
        July 9, 2017 at 09:43

        Just want to add my thanks, Abe. Very educational!

    • incontinent reader
      July 8, 2017 at 15:58

      Abe – Your comments are always incisive and well sourced. Why not take the initiative and come up with a list of instances of Bellingcat’s fakery and also look for articles rebutting them (some of which have been authored by Bob or Ray, or otherwise published by Consortium News) and then look at the various techniques and sources (…and funding) on which Bellingcat. From what you’ve posted here, I’m sure you could write a great article.

      • July 8, 2017 at 17:04

        I second that, please do write an article, even a short one.

      • Abe
        July 8, 2017 at 17:38

        For upwards of 20 sourced comments detailing instances of Higgins and Bellingcat propaganda on chemical incidents in Syria, including Higgins’ collaboration with “First Draft” media coalition stenographers at the New York Times, Washington Post, UK Guardian:

        • incontinent reader
          July 9, 2017 at 00:33

          Abe- Kudos for a great job.

      • Abe
        July 8, 2017 at 19:18

        Consortium News features many of the world’s leading investigative journalists and political analysts.

        Abundant material on Higgins’ “open source” charades is available for any contributing journalist or analyst. I’ve been tracking Higgins’ series of “digital forensics” and “online investigation” scams since 2013.

        Bellingcat is now infamous for its multiple “conspiracy theories” about Syria and Ukraine. Higgins is already well past his propaganda expiration date, but his “partners” at the “First Draft” coalition and NATO-member state governments all get paid to not notice the fact.

    • Abe
      July 9, 2017 at 20:53

      Bellingcat fanboy Joel Harding and Eliot Higgins busy giving each other handjobs

      In the article eagerly Tweeted by Higgins, Harding claims:

      “Bellingcat uses open source imagery to find and fix Russian positions inside Ukraine. Google Earth gives many military programs a challenge. This has proven highly irritating to Russia in their illegal invasion and operations in Ukraine.”

      Harding conveniently neglects to mention that actual experts have repeatedly debunked Higgins’ fun and games with Google Earth.

      But that doesn’t inhibit Higgins and Harding from massaging each other, producing blog loads of “user generated content”

  35. mike k
    July 8, 2017 at 12:31

    There are ways to deal with very bad karmic debts that are much less damaging to all concerned, but they all begin with acknowledgement of the reality and truth of one’s misdeeds. The problem is that the rich and powerful are in no way willing to take this essential step; they are locked into the death-spiral they have created…..

    • Dave P.
      July 8, 2017 at 23:09

      mike K: Yes. But they – these rich and powerful you refer to – live in their own Crooked World, oblivious to all the pain and suffering they are inflicting. They are Evil incarnate, and beyond redemption.

      • mike k
        July 9, 2017 at 08:10

        I tend to agree Dave, The odds against any of these oligarchs having a revelation and giving everything to the poor are astronomical. This leaves us with the problem that has hung over us for millennia: How do we stop the few from destroying the many? Unseating the oligarchs is our key problem if we want a sustainable world.

  36. John wilson
    July 8, 2017 at 12:27

    Since when cease fires last for more than a couple of months? You can be sure the deep state are already planning the next fake chemical attack through their terrorist pals and the fake white helmets

    • Virginia
      July 8, 2017 at 13:36

      Yes, I’m very skeptical, too.

      New topic, …has anyone heard whether sanctions on Russia were discussed at G-20?

    • July 8, 2017 at 15:48

      Or as in one previous cease fire bombing Syrian troops ( and possibly Russian advisors) allowing Da-esh to take an important airport.

  37. mike k
    July 8, 2017 at 12:23

    When a nation has woven over many years such a deep, evil, and convoluted karma as the US has done, the unraveling of it’s inevitable results is going to be messy in the extreme, and it will put the survival of all humans on the planet at great risk of extinction. As Einstein said, in the resulting situation the living may come to envy the dead……

    • July 8, 2017 at 16:59

      Small point here, but it was Kruschev who said that, I do believe.

      • mike k
        July 9, 2017 at 07:54

        Good point, thanks. “During those days people will seek death but will not find it; they will long to die, but death will elude them.” Revelations 9:6 Research turned up a lot of folks who said something similar, but not Einstein.

    • Dave P.
      July 8, 2017 at 17:54

      mike K: Thanks. ” When a nation has woven over many years such a deep, evil, and convoluted karma as the US has done . . . “. You have expressed in very true words the spiritual dimensions of the deeds.

      • mike k
        July 9, 2017 at 07:56

        Thanks Dave, I try to keep coming back to the big picture. It’s so easy to get lost in the details.

  38. Joe Tedesky
    July 8, 2017 at 12:09

    This insubordination the military generals have, was proven by Michael Hastings Rolling Stone article back in 2010, which you may all recall revealed a very arrogant and determined General Stanley McChrystal. I personally think that the out of mind accident which killed Michael Hastings, was either retribution or he was murdered out of fear of what his journalistic talents could uncover in future government debacles. Regardless, we citizens loss a great champion for truth, when we loss Michael Hastings.

    These cease-fires are like happy news, but with a yawn. Like wake me up when one of these cease-fires get observed, and proves to be successful. Deir ez-Zor was a crime on many proportions. Yet, no one, at least to my knowledge, please correct me if I’m wrong, ever was punished for this deliberate act of insubordination. How does that happen? We brag we have the best military in history, yet where is the highly praised military code of conduct? Where is the chain of command? Why is not a Colonel or General held to the same standard as a lowly Pfc., or a Seaman Apprentice? Where is the Honor?

    The one advantage Trump may have over Obama and Kerry’s tryst at a cease-fire is Trump has Mattis over Obama having Carter, and I think Ray McGovern brought that out. Regardless, Putin probably by now knows what a monster machine he is dealing with, and Putin will no doubt hold to whatever agreement he makes with Trump and then just wait for the Americans to screw it up….that would mean Putin is right where he started with the Americans, so what else is new? On the other hand if Trump can make this work, America, Russia, and the rest of the world could benefit greatly if only these two world superpowers were to unite.

    • Virginia
      July 8, 2017 at 12:16

      And if these two superpowers will not unite, there may be two others who will!

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 8, 2017 at 12:30

        Considering their geographical locations it makes perfect sense. Plus funny how the Chinese are pushing a project which looks very much deserving of any praise that an FDR anti-colonialists plan may have received, if had not for Truman’s derailment of those beautiful dreams come crashing down to destroy this plan for every nations sovereignty to be valued, as we so badly need. Sorry, just had to go there, but yes there is a new club on the rise and if the U.S. continues to insist to no change and join it, it will be a dark Century for America.

        • Bob Van Noy
          July 9, 2017 at 09:20

          Virginia and Joe, I certainly agree, and I’m going to link a very encouraging article from The Defend Democracy Press that thoroughly describes a linking process where people can unite to oppose outrageous behavior like constant and unjustified war.

        • Bob Van Noy
          July 9, 2017 at 09:38

          I have been following general world wide economic management for a very long time realizing the total significance of getting it right. I’m nowhere near an economic genius, but I did, over time, come to realize, that the US (My Very Own Beloved Country) was hindering rather than helping economic scenarios. My deep investigation of JFK and general interest in Economics led me in the Same direction, which unbelievably now, shouldn’t have surprised me. At any rate, it seems that the opportunity for a real and substantial World cooperation is at hand…

          • Joe Tedesky
            July 9, 2017 at 09:58

            I’ll never forget how back in 2003 while we were watching our military bomb the hell out of Iraq an electrical engineer friend of mind had a wonderful idea of how to create energy. My engineer friend needed a truck alternator and some foot levers along with an air bellows, and well with out giving away his invention, his idea was pragmatic and had lots of potential. What finally killed my friends prototype was his day job, and when his employer assigned him to a project requiring he spend more time working on that instead of on his idea, well his dream machine went asunder.

            What I did come away with though, was imagine if the money that were spend on just a few of those bombs which got dropped on Baghdad were redirected towards creating worthwhile life supporting projects like my engineer friends, and how even my friends idea could possibly come to fruition, and who knows how many barrels of oil my friends idea would have replaced, but then there go I.

            Bob there is so much good we could do, but yet we still settle our humanly difference like a bunch of poorly brain developed cavemen. Until our conversation becomes the worlds conversation nothing much will get better, but then there are people such as yourself who are trying the best they can to change all of that. I’d prefer to see the glass half full, and pray the grandchildren get it right. Before we leave this earth we could at least try and give these youngsters a fair start. Keep up the good work Bob, and I owe you an email soon.

            Take care Joe

          • Bob Van Noy
            July 9, 2017 at 10:01

            Thank you Joe…

          • Bob Van Noy
            July 9, 2017 at 10:10

            ‘’Bob there is so much good we could do, but yet we still settle our humanly difference like a bunch of poorly brain developed cavemen.”

            True Joe but read this….

          • Joe Tedesky
            July 9, 2017 at 11:49

            Bob when I was growing up a neighborhood man who was my dad’s dearest friend Uncle Ed, and who was a banker, told me a story about a young J&L Steel chemist who retired early in life. What happened was this chemist came up with a oil system for combustible engines whereas you never needed to change the oil. Imagine 6 quarts and your done, for the rest of the lifetime of the vehicle. Well, this young chemist sold his patent off to Standard Oil back in 1927 ninety years ago, and then his product disappeared never to be seen. With that I always think that when we gang brain our heads together frantically looking for new alternatives, that maybe we should first go down into the basesments of every major corporation there is, and see just exactly what it is they have stored away down there…kind of like Morgan Freeman’s character in the Batman movies, if you need a visual.

            Oh no, there is nothing that isn’t conceivable, it’s a matter of taking creative ideas and then turning them into realities. We should take all of the Einsteins and geniuses who work for Wall Streets financial sector, and the many overly smart who work for the nuclear defense industry, and put them onto clean water campaigns, and renewable energy projects, and call it a day.

            Hopefully the next best invention, or life saving application, it’s creator will read this and find encouragement to further pursue their crazy ideas….we need that, and no war Bob. Joe

    • ME Janssen
      July 8, 2017 at 15:33

      Joe Tedesky, agree with you about Putin waiting for the Americans to screw it up. I think that is why the “cease fire” covered only a small part of Syria in the southwest. If we keep to the agreement, great. If we don’t, the Russians and Syrians are not greatly disturbed and can keep on bombing ISIS elsewhere in the country. Either way, Putin is not making a big gamble.

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 8, 2017 at 19:51

        It appears to be like a blind man inserting the thread through the eye of needle, when it comes down to analyzing our American involvement in Syria. To further complicate matters, everyone who is part of the NATO/GCC coalition is there in Syria for different reasons. Why some coalition members can’t even stand some of the other coalition members, and with that group of scattered ideologies and interest it is a wonder that they can even bear to say they are on the same side when the photo op comes about.

        Just look at the disconnect between our country’s president as to the Pentagon. Deir ez-Zor is one example of that disconnect. So the problem of cohesion isn’t just with our so-called allies, but the problem of accomplishing the same mission is certainly to be found inside our own government and it’s military. Let’s face it, America has fought this war for so long, that now the focus of whatever the mission was is now gone. Now I am back to that blind man I talked about earlier, do you see the similarity of the metaphor?

    • Dave P.
      July 9, 2017 at 11:22

      Joe, On your question regarding U.S. military, ” Where is the chain of command? “. I wonder about the the whole U.S. Government these days – where is the chain of command? Just like in Soviet Union, the votes in the senate on these military matters have been 98-1, 99-1 , and so on – they all raise their hands just like they used to do in Soviet Union. At least they knew in Soviet Union where the chain of command was. They had some coherence to foreign policy and other matters. What we are watching now is like that everything is in a muddle. It seems like that there is one constant though that we still have: It is that we do want to rule the Earth.

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 9, 2017 at 13:01

        I think it’s because the donor class has bought them all off. Our problem in this country is all about money. We value material, and money, more than we do life. Look at the Dakota Access people being ripped from their land and water, all because of oil. Oil over water, imagine that. This is just one example of putting money interest over human necessities. We need to have a national discussion on what really matters, and to put our priorities to work where it really is needed.

        Dave thanks for the reply Joe

    • Kripke
      July 10, 2017 at 04:17

      America is a continent from Canada in the north to Argentina in the south. USA is one country on that continent. When you say that Americans are breaking all deals this is not true for Canadians or Mexicans or the people of Chile and so on. It’s just the USA.

      • Joe Tedesky
        July 10, 2017 at 09:01

        I know, but we in the U.S. are still referred to as Americans confusing I know, but that’s the way it is. I mean 98.9% of the news media, and the world call us that. When I go to foreign countries they call me American. Like watch the Olympics. I could say I’ll never do it again, but then I’ll forget no doubt, and you will need to remind again…so forgive me, but deal with it, plus you knew what I meant. Joe

        • Kripke
          July 11, 2017 at 15:02

          Dear Joe,
          I like your posts and share your opion many times. But as an analytic philosopher (I really am although my real name isn’t Kripke) I focus very much on language.
          There are many empirical studies about this topic. One example is this one:
          The conclusion of it is: ‘The results provide further evidence of the tight relationship between language and cognition.’
          Like Kant, Wittgenstein, Williams, Nagel, Kripke and others showed one’s cognition and hence one’s world is not only influenced but construed by one’s words and language.
          Maybe I’m annoying but I point out the difference between America and USA many times because in my point of view this reflects the problem sometimes refered to as seeing Latin America as ‘backyard of the US’ attitude. From United Fruits to Contra and many other examples.
          best regards

  39. mike k
    July 8, 2017 at 12:09

    The disarray of the US Government highlighted. The turmoil in Washington transcends anything Trump had to deal with on a TV reality show. The fake boss of the show turns out to be at sea in the deep waters of DC. The naïve idea that the President calls the shots and runs the show does not hold in our governmental madhouse. The internal struggles for wealth and power may be just as decisive in bringing down the American Empire as our crazy involvement in military adventures round the world. Our reality has become a Soap Opera beyond all previous fantasy creations. That the human tragedies it involves are very real seems lost on the players, so obsessed are they with their game of thrones.

  40. Seamus
    July 8, 2017 at 12:09

    Ahh Good ole Ray. The only restraining influence in adopting the knee jerk ( and unjustified ) reaction of labelling all US citizens war mongering, ultra violent thugs. Another insightful piece highlighting how the MSM have deliberately missed the big story and the REAL challenges any US administration faces when attempting to act with honour in Syria.

  41. July 8, 2017 at 12:06

    World leaders.. Superpower Russia, US coming together in harmony, consensus, unanimity for peace in Syria. The Good News. Good life. It’s indomitable.

  42. Virginia
    July 8, 2017 at 12:04

    Thanks, Ray, for alerting us on what to expect, or not to, from the ceasefire on Syria. Also, for giving the background on what was going on behind the scenes in Washington undermining the work Kerry was trying to achieve in Syria.

    I’ve been searching the internet this morning in sunny California (meaning Pacific time) to see what Lavrov or Putin had to say about the G-“2” meeting. The best I found was a news conference Putin held in which he fielded numerous questions. He had some good things to say about Trump. Other “news” seemed to report how Putin was using Trump, which made me think of how the deep state and MSM are the ones who are using — pressuring, manipulating — him. All depends on one’s perspective and whom you believe — and looking behind for the motives — doesn’t it?

    If anyone wants to see the Putin YouTube news conference, I think I accessed it through

    • J. D.
      July 8, 2017 at 19:45

      The flaw in this analysis is that it accepts the notion that Barack Obama actually sought cooperation with Russia, This president that unleashed provocation after provocation, the State Sept orchestrated coup in Ukraine, Obama never repudiated his stated intention to overthrow the government of Syria, and following his role in the destruction of Libya and murder of its President, organizeded the flow of arms and terrorists into Syria. Moreover, insofar as Sec. Kerry’s honest intentions provided a fig-leaf for collaboration, the criminal bombing of the Syrian arming was carried out by the Obama administration, no matter who gave the order. No apology from Obama was ever forthcoming and the agreement allowed to collapse. Meanwhile Obama piled on to the Russia hysteria until his final day in office, trying to cripple ever effort by the incoming president to work out a cease-fire

      • backwardsevolution
        July 10, 2017 at 01:15

        J.D. – good post, I agree. And why is Ashton Carter not behind bars?

        • Groucho
          July 11, 2017 at 15:08

          Good points all around. I think the question that is being brought to light by this article and others is how much is the president really in control of what happens regarding US foreign policy? I’ve always believed that Obama was a well branded tool of the establishment but I wouldn’t rule out that he had some altruistic if naïve inclinations. To whatever extent that is true they were clearly torpedoed by the deep state. And nobody is punished for it. That doesn’t bode well for Trump. We have already seen him being contradicted by members of the administration. See Nikki Haleys comments immediately after Trump says it’s time to cooperate with Russia. Her head should have been on a platter for that.

    • Peter Loeb
      July 9, 2017 at 06:21


      It is difficult to comprehend why there is any optimism and indeed why
      there is any “accord” in a real sense at all.

      President Trump proceeds as though he is “making a deal” in the
      private sector. He is confident he will “win” and has maneuvered to
      make his opponent helpless in his grasp. I swee no reason whatsoever
      for assuming that Trump has any so-called “peaceful” intentions
      in Syria. (Meanwhile, the US continues supplying anti-Assad militants
      with weapons and technical training which it knows are shared
      with al Queda militants. See Sy Hersh in “Die Welt”, online
      in English).

      Why Trump (the US and “the West”) expect Rusia to deliver
      Syria in broken pieces is hardly convincing.Syria is not the
      property of Russia. Russia has bases there and has for years
      just as the US has bases in hundred of nations around the globe).

      If the US wants anything at all from Syria and particularly from
      the Assad government, it should recognize Syria as a sovereign
      nation. It does not now.

      (Why doesn’t the US tell Israel what it must do for world peace—
      beyond rhetoric??)

      As for Vladimir Putin, I seriously doubt that beyond very fragile and
      temporary “cease fires” (without a quid pro quo such as the
      withdrawal of the US in every aspect of its coup of the Ukraine for
      example)—the US “aggression” or the complete unfunding
      of the Saudi coalition .)

      I admire Putin as a seasoned and clever politician on the
      world stage. I doubt he will abruptly surrender to an unreliable
      bully who is currently President of the US.I am confident that
      whatever “cease fires” in the immediate future, Putin has plans
      beyond both with the coalition and with the rest of
      the Shanghai Cooperative Organiztion (SCO).

      Recent experience has not shown that US “Secretary of State
      has independent power. He appears more like a worried and
      obsequious clerk somewhere down in the bowels of an authoritarian
      company dependent on the whims and ego of boss Trump.

    • Brad Owen
      July 9, 2017 at 08:00

      Trump should have asked Putin how HE managed to checkmate his deep-state actors and THOSE who benefit from deep-state operations; those who are called, in Russia, “the oligarchs” (over here, the beneficiaries of deep-state operations would be the financiers, and the MIC…what FDR knew to be the self-named Synarchie Internationale, progenitors of fascist/NAZI movements, gathered from 1940 intelligence operations by combined OSS and French Intel operatives, before we even entered the war, but convincing FDR that a war was necessary, the threat reaching what was merely unfolding on the present battlefield of Europe).

      • Brad Owen
        July 9, 2017 at 08:56

        Meant to say what was reaching far beyond, in time and geography, what was merely unfolding upon the present WWII battlefields of Europe.

    • John
      July 12, 2017 at 14:09

      Hopefully in a month or two we will be able to say, “Yes Virginia there IS a Santa Claus.”

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