How Syria’s Victory Reshapes Mideast

The failure of the U.S.-Israeli-Saudi “regime change” project in Syria changes the future of the Mideast, possibly ushering in an era of greater secularism and tolerance, writes ex-British diplomat Alastair Crooke.

By Alastair Crooke

Plainly, Syria’s success – notwithstanding the caution of President Bashar al-Assad in saying that signs of success are not success itself – in resisting, against the odds, all attempts to fell the state suggest that a tipping point in the geopolitics of the region has occurred.

Map of Syria.

We have written before how the Syria outcome dwarfs that of Israel’s 2006 war against Hezbollah, significant though the result of that war was, too.

Both events taken together have brought America’s unipolar moment in the Middle East to an end (though not globally, since the U.S. still retains its necklace of military bases across the region). The successes have corroded badly the reputation of the Gulf States and have discredited fired-up Sunni jihadism as a “go-to” political tool for Saudi Arabia and its Western backers.

But, aside from the geopolitics, the Syria outcome has created a physical connectivity and contiguity that has not existed for some years: the border between Iraq and Iran is open; the border between Syria and Iraq is opening; and the border between Lebanon and Syria, too, is open. This constitutes a critical mass both of land, resources and population of real weight.

The region will listen intently to what these victors will have to say about their future vision for the region – and for Islam. In particular, how Syria articulates the lessons for Middle Eastern societies in light of its war experience will have a profound import.

This discussion has barely begun in Syria, and has not reached a conclusion – and may not, for some time; but we can speculate a little.

At present, talk is divided between Levantism, which is based in the idea of cultural diversity, such as has existed – alongside periodic acute tensions – in Lebanon and Syria, and Arab nationalism. The framework for both concepts being understood to be a non-assertive secularism within a state structure, encompassing equality before the law.

Arab nationalism looks toward a wide Arab cultural unity, rooted primarily in the Arabic language. Levantism essentially was an Ottoman inheritance. Then (in Ottoman times), there was no “Syria” (in the sense of a nation–state), but viliyat (Ottoman provinces), which were more like city-states that were permitted a large quota of self-administration and discretion for diverse societies and sects to live in their own cultural and spiritual ways, including the right to speak their individual languages. (Syrian diversity historically represented the legacy of many foreign occupations, with each leaving behind something of their DNA, their cultures and religion).

Colonial Strategies

Under the subsequent French colonial rule, the colonizers first created separate mini-statelets of these Syrian minorities, but when that policy failed, they reversed into forced unification of Syria’s diverse parts (apart from Lebanon), through a stratagem of imposing the French language instead of Arabic; French law instead of the Ottoman law and mores; and of promoting Christianity in order to undercut Islam. Inevitably, this created the pushback that gave Syria its characteristic suspicion of foreign intervention and its determination to recover a vision of what it was to be Syrian. (The French “regime-changed” Damascus in 1920, 1925, 1926, and 1945, and imposed martial law during most of the pauses in between the coups).

French diplomat Francois George-Picot, who along with British colonial officer Mark Sykes drew lines across a Middle East map of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, carving out states with boundaries that are nearly the same as they are today.

But the nationalism, which the French repression had provoked into life, pulled in two different directions: the Muslim Brotherhood, the major Islamic movement, wanted to grasp Syria as a Sunni Islamic state, while, in contrast, the more Westernized urban élites wanted to “take” Syria – as not exactly a separate nation-state – but more a part of the whole Arab world, and to be domestically organized as a unified, secular, and at least partly Westernized state.

As Patrick Seale noted in The Struggle for Syria: “Above all, [for the secular nationalists], disunity had to be overcome. Their answer was to try to bridge the gaps between rich and poor through a modified version of socialism, and between Muslims and minorities through a modified concept of Islam. Islam, in their view, needed to be considered politically not as a religion but as a manifestation of the Arab nation.

“Thus, the society they wished to create, they proclaimed, should be modern (with, among other things, equality for women), secular (with faith relegated to personal affairs), and defined by a culture of ‘Arabism’ overriding the traditional concepts of ethnicity.”

In short, what they sought was the very antithesis of the objectives of the already strong and growing Muslim Brotherhood. And by 1973, in an attempt to square the circle between conservative, assertive Sunnism and the nationalist “soft” Islam, the fatwa (by a Shi’i cleric) asserting Hafez al-Assad to be Shi’i Muslim (rather than heretic as Sunnis viewed all Alawites to be), exploded the situation. (The French brokered constitution required that the head of state be “Muslim”).

A Cycle of Violence  

The Muslim Brotherhood was beside itself in anger at the designation of then President Hafez Assad as Muslim, and thus began a cycle of bloody violence with organized terrorist attacks on the government, and on al-Assad’s inner circle – and retaliatory attacks by the government – which, in effect, is only now coming to a conclusion with the defeat of militant, jihadi Sunnism’s attempt to seize the state and to oust the “heretic” Alawite.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad before a poster of his late father, Hafez Assad.

The outcome of this iconic struggle has profound regional implications (even if we cannot, now, see how the deliberations about the vision for the future of the Levant will finally conclude).

We can say, firstly, Islamism generally is the major loser in the struggle for the Levant. Both in Syria and Iraq, ordinary Levantine Sunnis have been sickened by intolerant, puritan Islam. This orientation of Islam (Wahhabism) that demanded (on pain of death) a linear singularity of meaning to Islam, which asserts its “truth” from the certainty conveyed from a mechanical, procedural, approach to validating selected “sayings” of the Prophet Mohammad (known as “scientific” Salafism), has failed.

Armed jihadism has failed to leverage this linear singularity as the “idea” with which to crush the polyvalent Levantine model and replace it with a rigid, monovalent literalism. Just to be clear, it is not just the non-Muslims and the minority Sunni and Shi’i sects who have had enough of it: Sunni Syrians and Iraqis, more generally, have too (especially after the experience of Raqa’a and Mosul).

The public reaction to the Wahhabi interventions in both nations is likely to push Sunni Islam firstly to embrace polyvalence in Islam more tightly (even to the extent, possibly, of looking to Iran and its “mode of being” as a possible model); and secondly, to embrace further the Arab secular “way,” too. In short, one “fallout” may be a more secular style of Islam, in contrast to the Muslim Brotherhood’s emphasis on external, visible, exclusionary, identity politics.

But, if the Syrian and Iraqi nationalist Islamic impulse is over, what of the other “double aspect” to Syria — its legacy of Levantine diversity and polyvalence versus the secular nationalist perspective that diversity constitutes a primary cause of national weakness. And which sees its primary task as that of integrating the population into a single political and social structure.

Israel’s New Scheme

Well, much in this latter respect will hang on Washington: the French colonists leveraged the Syrian minorities against the Syrian majority (in the French interest). And now America seems intent – with Israel pushing hard from behind – to leverage the Kurds against the Syrian State (in the interest of limiting the extent of Iranian presence within Syria, and even to try to break the contiguity between Iraq and Syria).

President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu talk together prior to President Trump’s address, May 23, 2017, at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)

That latter prospect seems unlikely. The U.S.-Israeli Kurdish “project” in Syria may fail, as Kurds (much less concentrated in northeastern Syria than they are in northern Iraq), conclude that it would be better and wiser to come to terms with Moscow (and therefore find some modus vivendi with Damascus), rather than trusting to the constancy of American promises of autonomy – amid the almost universal regional hostility to this high-risk independence project. Ultimately, it must be obvious to the Kurds that it is Russia (and Iran) that represent the incoming tide into the northern tier states.

The Syrian Kurds never were in the Masoud Barzani camp and long have had working relations with the Syrian army and Russian forces (versus ISIS), during the conflict. It seems, in any event, that the U.S. main focus is shifting away from Syria to Iraq, as the locus in which they hope to push back against Iran. Again, the prospects there for the U.S. to achieve this aim are poor (Iran is well dug in) – and if mishandled, the Kurdish independence “project” easily could spin into violence and region-wide instability.

Barzani’s leadership is not secure (the Turks are livid at his double-cross of pretending that the referendum was only to strengthen his negotiating hand with Baghdad). And the risk of wider conflict, were Barzani to be removed from power, would be contingent on who ultimately succeeded to the leadership.

In sum, the U.S.-Israeli Kurdish “project” seems – paradoxically – more likely forcefully to strengthen the nationalist impulse across the Levant, Turkey and Iran and to make it more assertive – but not in the old way: there is no going back to the status quo ante in Syria. The processes of de-escalation and reconciliation facilitated by Russia – in and of themselves – will change fundamentally the politics of Syria.

A Shift Toward Diversity

If in the past, politics was top-down, it will now be bottom-up. This is where we see something of a synthesis taking place between Levantism and nationalism. The needs of local politics, in all its diversity, will be much more the future drivers of politics. One can see already that this shift to bottom-up politics is already becoming apparent in Iraq, too. (Again, it has been accelerated by the war against the extreme jihadism of ISIS, but now may become further energized by Kurdish claims to disputed Iraqi territories.)

A Russian orchestra performs a concert at Palmyra’s ancient Roman theater on May 5, 2016, after Syrian troops, backed by Russian air power, reclaimed the ancient city from the Islamic State. (Image from RT’s live-streaming of the event)

In some respects, the “ground” in Iraq – the mobilization of the people against these reactionary armed movements – is running ahead of, and away from the Iraqi political leadership, be it political or religious. The unrest may grow, and the government – any government – will have to bend to pressures from their base.

The Western leveraging of minorities against the state – now the Kurds – has already had a major geostrategic impact: that of bringing Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran into close political and military alliance in order to stop this “Kurdish project” from materializing and dissolving the outlines of major states, precisely at their most sensitive juncture.

Essentially, this represents another case where the interests of Israel do not coincide with those of Europe or America. The pursuit of this “Kurdish project” is empowering an alliance – including a major NATO state – that will be explicitly hostile to these American aims (though this does not imply any increase of hostility to the Kurds as a people – though that too may result). The alienation of these states would hardly seem to be in the Western interest, but nonetheless, this is what is occurring.

And finally, the “fallout” from the Syria conflict has prompted the northern tier states to “Look East” – as President Assad recently instructed his diplomats so to do. For Iran it may be primarily to China (as well as to Russia), but for Syria, it is more likely to be Russia in a predominantly cultural way, with China seeing Syria as an “important node” in its Belt & Road Initiative.

This represents a historic shift in the Middle East. Western officials may imagine that they have a hold over Syria by holding reconstruction funding hostage to having their way with Syria’s future: if this is so, they will as wrong about this as they have been on almost everything pertaining to Syria.

Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat who was a senior figure in British intelligence and in European Union diplomacy. He is the founder and director of the Conflicts Forum.

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72 comments for “How Syria’s Victory Reshapes Mideast

  1. Abe
    September 30, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    “With a permanent US military base on Israeli soil, plausible deniability and the illusion of an independent Israeli foreign policy vanishes completely. This may signal a much more blunt approach by Washington regarding any upcoming aggression against both Syria and Iran.

    “Regional Consolidation in Preparation for What?

    “The US finds itself overtly consolidating its positions in the Middle East at a time when the global balance of power teeters dangerously close to irrevocably undoing American hegemony.

    “Preparing the Middle East for war with Iran has been a work-in-progress since the end of the Cold War. It is an agenda that has transcended multiple US presidencies and has included everything from US-backed terrorism in the form of organizations like Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK), to US-backed color revolutions like the ‘Green Revolution’ in 2009, to the current proxy war being waged against Syria and the ongoing diplomatic maneuvering surrounding the Iranian ‘nuclear deal.’

    “Radical shifts in US policy regarding Iran are not owed to new occupants in the White House, but rather the shifting geopolitical realities as the US declines and other nations incrementally rise upon the world stage. Today, the US has exhausted its international clout, repeatedly abused international mechanisms for conflict resolution, and is openly pursuing a war in Syria with the aid of militant groups internationally designated as terrorist organizations. As its ability to wage war against Ian behind a smokescreen of legitimacy dwindles, the likelihood of it openly carrying out an act of aggression increases.

    “US policymakers may hope that after consolidating its positions in the Middle East, it can carry out a single, sweeping act of military aggression Iran’s allies will be unable or unwilling to contest.

    “Desperate hegemons are dangerous hegemons.”

    The Iran “Nuclear Deal” Leads to War, Not Peace
    By Tony Cartalucci
    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2017/09/the-iran-nuclear-deal-leads-to-war-not.html

    • WC
      September 30, 2017 at 3:58 pm

      While both Abe and Zac make very good points what realistically (not idealistically) can be done to solve the problem? Israel is not going to go back to the 1948 borders and US hegemony depends on a strong Israeli presence in the ME. There is also the petro dollar status in the mix along with a cast of characters that make a Loony Tunes cartoon pale by comparison. As usual, this situation will be solved by might makes right. Morality be damned.

      • Delia Ruhe
        October 1, 2017 at 5:17 pm

        I would depend on neither US hegemony nor the petrodollar status — at least, not for much longer, what with the northern their nations “looking east” and the financial institutions emerging there with a view to rivalling both that hegemony and the status of the Yankee dollar.

    • mike k
      September 30, 2017 at 4:15 pm

      The collapse of the American Empire will be violent and catastrophic in direct proportion to the Hubris of the Empire – which is huge. The only way to avoid this is a measured adoption of realism and it’s concomitant humility – which is highly unlikely. Our leaders have surrendered their sanity to the forces of death and destruction, and we are in for an unprecedented global disaster, which may supervene at any moment now.

      The leaders of Russia and China are modeling for us how to back away from this apocalypse, and enter a multipolar world, but again our overweening exceptionalism and false belief in our destiny to rule the world stands in our way of joining them. We can only view them as evil obstacles to our righteous mission of world domination.

      • anon
        September 30, 2017 at 6:58 pm

        Yes, but US exceptionalism seems to be backfiring nicely. The US effort to conquer Iraq and surround Iran instead brought them together, and now the “US-Israeli Kurdish project… to break [up] Iraq and Syria” is backfiring in “bringing Turkey, Syria, Iraq and Iran into … alliance.”

        Now if the US protects Israel further by invading Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Gaza & West Bank to create divisions and destroy infrastructure, gets itself thrown out yet again at enormous expense, and accidentally leaves them heavily armed and unified with the Shia crescent against Israel, we may bring democracy to Israel.

        But I wonder whether benevolence, reason, and diplomacy might be cheaper.

      • Brad Owen
        October 2, 2017 at 4:33 am

        We may have a softer landing, as the hubris of the American Empire is huge only within the Washington Concensus Establishment (stretching back into Wall Street Lords of Finance). We might see something more like a palace coup (actually a counter-coup, as The Concensus is itself a Post-WWII coup over traditional American Interests) to eject and arrest the Concensus members. People here are as sick of war as the ordinary Sunni Muslims are. THAT was what propelled Trump into the White House: enough people being sick to death of the goddamn Washington Concensus, War, and Geopolitical Empire Gaming, instead of tending to National business (minding our own goddamn business for a change, what with hurricanes and earthquakes and floods and drought, and crumbling infrastructure…)

    • Abe
      September 30, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      The points raised by WC merit comment.

      Three key Israeli Hasbara propaganda talking points regarding 50-year illegal military occupation of Palestinian territory seized by Israel during the 1967 War:
      – Spurious claims about “what realistically (not idealistically) can be done”
      – Insistence that “Israel is not going to go back to the 1948 borders”
      – Claims that the US “depends on a strong Israeli presence”

      A leading canard of Hasbara propaganda and the Israeli right wing Neo-Zionist settlement movement is the notion of an “unconditional land grant covenant” entitlement for Israel.

      Land ownership was far more widespread than depicted in the fictions of Israeli propaganda. In reality, the Israeli government knowingly confiscated privately owned Palestinian land and construct a network of outposts and settlements.

      Israel’s many illegal activities in occupied Palestinian territory encompass Neo-Zionist settlements, so-called “outposts” and declared “state land”.

      The United Nations has repeatedly upheld the view that Israel’s construction of settlements constitutes a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (which provides humanitarian protections for civilians in a war zone).
      The 1967 “border” of Israel refers to the Green Line or 1949 Armistice demarcation line set out in the Armistice Agreements between Israel and Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria after the 1948 Arab–Israeli War.

      The Green Line was intended as a demarcation line rather than a permanent border. The 1949 Armistice Agreements were clear (at Arab insistence) that they were not creating permanent borders. The Egyptian–Israeli agreement, for example, stated that “the Armistice Demarcation Line is not to be construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary, and is delineated without prejudice to rights, claims and positions of either Party to the Armistice as regards ultimate settlement of the Palestine question.”

      Similar provisions are contained in the Armistice Agreements with Jordan and Syria. The Agreement with Lebanon contained no such provisions, and was treated as the international border between Israel and Lebanon, stipulating only that forces would be withdrawn to the Israel–Lebanon border.

      United Nations General Assembly Resolutions and statements by many international bodies refer to the “pre-1967 borders” or the “1967 borders” of Israel and neighboring countries.

      According to international humanitarian law, the establishment of Israeli communities inside the occupied Palestinian territories – settlements and outposts alike – is forbidden. Despite this prohibition, Israel began building settlements in the West Bank almost immediately following its occupation of the area in 1967.

      Defenders of Israel’s settlement policies, like David Friedman, the current United States Ambassador to Israel, argue that the controversy over Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory is overblown.

      The Israeli government and Israel Lobby advocates like Ambassador Friedman claim the built-up area of settlements comprises only around 2% of the West Bank.

      This Hasbara “2%” argument is at best ignorant, and at worst deliberately disingenuous.

      The “2%” figure is misleading because it refers restrictively to the amount of land Israeli settlers have built on, but does not account for the multiple ways these settlements create a massive, paralytic footprint in the illegally occupied Palestinian territory of the West Bank.

      Since 1967, Israel has taken control of around 50% of the land of the West Bank. And almost all of that land has been given to the settlers or used for their benefit. Israel has given almost 10% of the West Bank to settlers – by including it in the “municipal area” of settlements. And it has given almost 34% of the West Bank to settlers – by placing it under the jurisdiction of the Settlement “Regional Councils.”

      In addition, Israel has taken hundreds of kilometers of the West Bank to build infrastructure to serve the settlements, including a network of roads that crisscross the entire West Bank, dividing Palestinian cities and towns from each other, and imposing various barriers to Palestinian movement and access, all for the benefit of the settlements.

      Israel has used various means to do this, included by declaring much of the West Bank to be “state land,” taking over additional land for security purposes, and making it nearly impossible for Palestinians to register claims of ownership to their own land.

      The Israeli Supreme Court has repeatedly used the term “belligerent occupation” to describe Israel’s rule over the West Bank and Gaza. Indeed, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that the question of a previous sovereign claim to the West Bank and Gaza is irrelevant to whether international laws relating to occupied territories should apply there.

      Rather, the proper question – according to Israel’s highest court – is one of effective military control. In the words of the Supreme Court decision, “as long as the military force exercises control over the territory, the laws of war will apply to it.” (see: HCJ 785/87, Afo v. Commander of IDF Forces in the West Bank).

      The Palestinian territories were conquered by Israeli armed forces in the 1967 war. Whether Israel claims that the war was forced upon it is irrelevant. The Palestinian territory has been controlled and governed by the Israeli military ever since.

      Who claimed the territories before they were occupied is immaterial. What is material is that before 1967, Israel did not claim the territories.

      Ariel Sharon, one of the principal architects of Israel’s settlement building policy in the West Bank and Gaza, recognized this reality. On May 26, 2003, then Israeli Prime Minister Sharon told fellow Likud Party members: “You may not like the word, but what’s happening is occupation [using the Hebrew word “kibush,” which is only used to mean “occupation”]. Holding 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation is a bad thing for Israel, for the Palestinians and for the Israeli economy.”

      Whether one believes that these territories are legally occupied or not does not change the basic facts: Israel is ruling over a population of millions of Palestinians who are not Israeli citizens. Demographic projections indicate that Jews will soon be a minority in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.

      What can be done is for the United States government to immediately sanction Israel for its 50-year military occupation of Palestine.

      The United States can require Israel to withdraw its forces to the 1967 line, and honor the right of return to Palestinians who fled their homeland as a result of Israel’s multiple ethnic cleansing operations.

      In addition, the United States can demand that immediately surrender its destabilizing nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons arsenal or face severe U.S. punitive action.

      • WC
        September 30, 2017 at 9:26 pm

        Thanks Abe for taking the time to layout your version of the facts. I say “your version” not to say you are wrong, but I am not as familiar with the details as you are. You make a good case for a withdrawal to the ’67 line and that might very well happen if Israel sees this in their best interests. As for the US telling the Israelis what to do might be a bit more wishful now that the bankers have Uncle Sam firmly by the balls. :)

        The whole middle east scenario must have some end game in mind for the opposing parties. This would probably play in with an economy that has been kept on QE life support, along with a number of other factors no one is bothering to tell us about. If we are to view it as a regional issue only and not tied in with something bigger there may be some room for compromise as you well point out. I’m just suspicious of something else in the works.

        Always enjoy your comments and insights on this site. :)

      • john wilson
        October 1, 2017 at 5:08 am

        Abe is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks the US will do anything to upset Israel. The Israel lobby in the USA is as powerful as any political party or even the deep state. Some people believe the ‘deep state’ is run entirely by Israel. Don’t kid yourselves folks, the Yanks and the Israel’s are one and the same thing and I can assure you, they collectively regard the set back for their lack of success in Syria as a temporary blip and one way or another they will be back. I suspect they are right now planning to smash North Korea to pieces and leave the land complete desolate and murder all its inhabitants. They will use this as an example to other nations as to what’s in store for them if they don’t capitulate. I have long since come to the conclusion that the Americans are completely mentally disturbed. They have no soul or any kind of empathy or decency towards any other human beings except themselves. The Americans are the scourge of man kind and I believe they are Satan’s vanguard for the coming destruction of planet earth.

        • October 2, 2017 at 10:46 pm

          @ John Wilson: “Abe is living in cloud cuckoo land if he thinks the US will do anything to upset Israel. The Israel lobby in the USA is as powerful as any political party or even the deep state.”

          I disagree. The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (“BDS”), begun in July, 2005, has been enormously successful internationally and is quickly gaining strength in the U.S. as well. If it tracks true with the earlier South African BDS movement, the U.S. will be the last holdout (largely true already), but a time will come when even the U.S. bends to its demands. And the Israel Lobby in the U.S. has already been significantly weakened by Mr. Netanyahu’s decision to align the Israel Lobby with the Republican Party. Democratic members of Congress are increasingly voting against the Lobby. Likewise, nearly half of the U.S. electorate now supports economic sanctions against Israel on the settlements issue. See e.g., https://972mag.com/nearly-half-of-americans-support-sanctions-on-israel-poll-finds/123472/ (.) The critical mass moment approaches quickly.

          The BDS Movement seems to me to be the only solution to the Palestinian question with a strong likelihood of success. Its goal is a single state covering the entirety of the former British Mandate Territory of Palestine with equal rights for all. It may be that Israel will agree to some sort of two-state solution with a Palestinian Bantustan as a last-gasp attempt to preserve its own government; but I don’t see that as a viable solution, in no small part because a negotiated solution defies international law as regards to the Palestinian right of return and the establishment of the settlements. See e.g., 4th Geneva Convention Article 47 Article 47 (“Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, *nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the Occupying Power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.* The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”). http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/380?OpenDocument

          That right is in line with the rights that existed even under the now-obsolete Law of Conquest: “It may not be unworthy of remark that it is very unusual, even in cases of conquest, for the conqueror to do more than to displace the sovereign and assume dominion over the country. The modern usage of nations, which has become law, would be violated; that sense of justice and of right which is acknowledged and felt by the whole civilized world would be outraged if private property should be generally confiscated and private rights annulled. The people change their allegiance; their relation to their ancient sovereign is dissolved; but their relations to each other and their rights of property, remain undisturbed.” United States v. Percheman, 32 U.S. 51, 86-87, 7 Pet. 51, ___ (1832), https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/32/51/case.html

          In other words the right of return is a personal right of the landowners and their heirs; it cannot lawfully be negotiated by governments. And the only way to remedy violation of the prohibition against transportation of Israeli citizens into the Occupied Territory is to remove them.

      • October 1, 2017 at 1:57 pm

        UN takes first step to end Israel’s impunity writes Ali Abunimah

        “After decades of Palestinian dispossession and Israeli military occupation and apartheid, the United Nations has taken its first concrete, practical step to secure accountability for ongoing Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights,” said Omar Barghouti, a founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement. “Palestinians warmly welcome this step.”

        https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/un-takes-first-step-end-israels-impunity

  2. Abe
    September 30, 2017 at 1:29 pm

    It is entirely premature to speak about “Syria’s victory”. This war is far from over.

    In fact, despite the recent advances by the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies, the overall battle space in Syria indicates that United States military maneuvers in the region are coordinated with proxy forces on the ground that include Al Qaeda (Al-Nusra and allied armed terrorist groups), Kurdish militants and ISIS:

    “It’s no secret that the latest success achieved by Syrian troops near Deir ez-Zor, where they have managed to break the blockade of the city and liberate the better part of its outskirts from the so-called “Islamic State” (ISIS), may turn out to be a temporary success. The situation on the ground remains difficult due to the fact that Damascus was required to take troops from other fronts using the most combat capable units in order to make this breakthrough possible, weakening the defenses of its flanks in the ongoing struggle with militant terrorists. In spite of a number of positive statements made over the last couple of months by Syria’s officials, it’s still too early for celebrating. This has been proven by the unraveling military crisis near Deir ez-Zor which occurred at the end of this month.

    “As Damascus relieved Deir ez-Zor, various military experts suggested that an easy victory achieved in this city occurred largely due to a change in the tactics employed by ISIS. And they were right. ISIS simply withdrew all of its elite combat-ready units from the city, leaving behind local militia and mercenary units. The withdrawn forces would then block the advancement of Syrian-Iranian-Russian troops, preventing them from reaching the settlement of Abu Kamal on the very border with Iraq. This city is instrumental in Tehran’s plan of supplying Damascus with weapons across Iraq. But the advancement was stalled due to this ISIS resistance which was also supported by forces dispatched from Raqqa, which is now also being defended by local ISIS-aligned militias. Yet, the pro-American SDF forces are still unable to capture the city. Apparently it will take them at least 2-3 more weeks.

    “All this led to ISIS militants launching an offensive across a broad front from Palmyra to Deir ez-Zor at the very end of September, targeting Syrian communication lines in a bid to cut off the main Syrian military supply route […] It’s clear that ISIS is planning to occupy as-Suhna in the coming weeks if allowed. If their offensive is not stopped we may see Palmyra besieged yet again. For ISIS, Palmyra represents a major prize, since after its liberation Damascus rebuilt and restocked massive supply and ammunition depots in this city.

    “It’s only natural that under those circumstances the confrontation with local Kurds militants groups attempting to capture Syrian oil fields becomes secondary. The Syrians are not able to fight at once with two opponents, especially while its forces suffer losses, for instance, the loss of at least 4 tanks during the Deir-ez-Zor assault.

    “It’s clear that Washington, aiding in no way as Russia and Syria struggle against ISIS militants, is secretly hoping that Moscow deploy a massive airborne task force to prevent the situation on the ground from becoming disastrous. However, such a move could be potentially catastrophic […] Russia’s paratrooper forces may suffer serious casualties, which will mean that Russia will be drawn deeper into the Syrian war, triggering a possible Soviet-Afghan War scenario, which would be highly beneficial for Washington. […]

    “The situation in Deir ez-Zor is aggravated further by the counterattacks launched by Jabhat al-Nusra militants and other armed groups. Russian warplanes have been hitting armed groups in Idlib for days to prevent them from launching an assault on Deir ez-Zor.”

    It Seems that ISIS has No Intention of Surrendering Deir ez-Zor
    By Alexander Orlov
    https://journal-neo.org/2017/09/30/it-seems-that-isis-has-no-intension-of-surrendering-deir-ez-zor/

    • Realist
      October 1, 2017 at 7:53 am

      Yes, unfortunately more articles are coming out suggesting that Washington’s last hurrah in Syria has not yet been staged. They seem pretty serious about throwing an alliance of the Kurds, ISIS, the SDA and probably US special ops forces at the SAA along a wide front, but focussing on taking everything east of the Euphrates, including the oil fields, from Syrian control. While Syria rushes troops to this zone of conflict, the American proxies are hitting them there AND behind the lines to the South. Syria may not have the manpower needed to prevail on these multiple fronts. Russia probably cannot match what Washington can bring to the fight if it decides to go for broke. The Saker never thought so. Remember that Israel can move in for the kill if the tide turns. Turkey may have stopped fighting against Syria, but probably won’t fight for them, even to wax the Kurds. This talk of “Syria’s victory” may be premature. And, with some Russian analysts discussing fallback measures Russia can take against the American alliance in the Persian Gulf, it seems like the confidence of a few days ago is dissipating. The last thing Putin wants is to be forced to expand the war, while Washington can opt for that at any time. Americans won’t protest it. With all the anti-Russian slander in the fake news, they’ll cheer it. Never assume Uncle Sam is defeated until you personally drive the stake through his heart and all his vitals flatline. He can always steal more resources from his own people to carry on endless comebacks. I’m surprised we haven’t re-invaded Vietnam. Articles like these have me concerned.

      http://www.unz.com/mwhitney/washingtons-iron-curtain-on-the-euphrates/

      • October 1, 2017 at 2:04 pm

        US Defense Secretary A?sh Carter arrived in Erbil yesterday unannounced. ?My question is will Erdogan sacrifice business interests to put political pressure ?

        “Erdogan will get what he wants; the oil, and no independence. Barzani’s hand is not exactly brilliant” avers, Asia Times Roving Eye correspondent Pepe Escobar.

        Masoud Barzani has overplayed his hand – no regional powers are going to assent to partition of Iraq. Expect major turbulence ahead.

        See: Unraveling the riddle of the Kurds’ Iraqi pipedream

        https://www.veteransnewsnow.com/2017/09/29/1015693-unraveling-the-riddle-of-the-kurds-iraqi-pipedream/

    • Abe
      October 1, 2017 at 5:57 pm

      The Russians are clearly not eager to stage on the Euphrates a Syrian Arab Army reenactment of the Wehrmacht’s 1943 march to the Volga.

      (Most people are unaware that the panzers and infantry of the German Sixth Army had already bled heavily before reaching the gates of Stalingrad.)

      The Russian moves are canny, displaying awareness of the very close cooperation between the U.S. and its two major armed proxy forces in the area: the Kurds and ISIS.

      • Abe
        October 1, 2017 at 7:19 pm

        CORRECTION: In 1942, Wehrmacht General Friedrich Paulus’ Sixth Army advanced across the Don river towards the city of Stalingrad on the Western bend of the Volga river.

        The Wehrmacht advance on Stalingrad was impeded by Soviet resistance and supply shortages. The Sixth Army came up against the first Soviet defensive lines around the city on 17 August , and were then locked in street fighting for the next months until they reached their offensive limit on November 18. On 19 November, the Soviets launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged counter-offensive against the flanks of Sixth Army. Hitler ordered Sixth Army to remain on the defensive, rather than try to break out. After a successful encirclement and siege by the Soviets, the Sixth Army ran out of supplies. General Paulus surrendered to the Soviets at the end of January, and the remainder of the Sixth Army capitulated on 2 February 1943.

  3. Zachary Smith
    September 30, 2017 at 1:37 pm

    This represents a historic shift in the Middle East. Western officials may imagine that they have a hold over Syria by holding reconstruction funding hostage to having their way with Syria’s future: if this is so, they will as wrong about this as they have been on almost everything pertaining to Syria.

    This seems to be an accurate statement – when I make a google search the results are a tide of Western nations boasting of how they’re not going to help with Syrian “reconstruction” unless Assad is on his way out. This is just moronic, and also another way of saying despite spending billions to destroy Syria for Israel, they’re not going to spend a dime fixing things.

    Fact is, there are lots of other people with construction equipment. Russian is one, and so is China. China has shown it can do things on a massive scale with those built-from-scratch islands in the South China Sea. I’ve no idea if China wants to set up a base in Syria, but it has shown a lot of expertise doing that too.

    “State-of-Art Fortress: Chinese Army Prepared for All Eventualities in Africa”

    China ‘Demonstrates Outstanding Engineering Capabilities’

    In fact, the Chinese project shows how to get the most out of the 36-hectares territory, rented by Beijing from the government of Djibouti, Kashin stressed.

    “The design of the base provides maximum security for the object,” he explained, adding that the only drawback to the Chinese military base in Africa is the absence of an airfield.

    h**ps://sputniknews.com/analysis/201709271057757059-china-military-base-africa-djibouti/

    The author seems to focus on the Israel project of using the Kurds as a pawn, and in my opinion misses another major issue.

    “Israel Is Struggling to Adapt to the End of the Syrian Conflict “

    In the past 35 years, beginning with the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in June 1982, the cycle of conflict between the Zionist state and the pro-Iranian Hezbollah has undergone several distinct phases, marked by short periods of sharp escalation and a much longer period of uneasy peace.

    The former has occurred roughly every ten years, as demonstrated by the sixteen-day Grapes of Wrath operation in April 1996 and the longer and more intense war of summer 2006.

    Israel is understood widely to have lost the 2006 war, at least in terms of asymmetric warfare, an outcome that has had a decisive influence in containing Israeli aggression towards Lebanon.

    h**p://russia-insider.com/en/military/israel-struggling-adapt-end-syrian-conflict/ri21059

    The contents of this article mirror my own – Israel is a historical loser in Lebanon, and this time around the Mowing Of The Grass is going to change that. The stories I’ve been seeing say that this time around the little cesspool of a nation is going to concentrate on smashing Lebanon right down to the bedrock. Since it can’t defeat Hezbollah in a fight, it’s going to use the strategy of the US Army during the time of the western Indian wars – destroy the base. In the US West this involved effectively exterminating the buffalo. In Lebanon they’ll adopt what Bush Daddy and Junior did in Iraq – destroy water plants. electrical generating plants, everything. Rest assured the New York Times and the Jeff Bezos Post will cheer them on, and help with stories that the murderous Israelis are REALLY attacking only Hezbollah when carpet bombing of the cities is happening before our very eyes. (Since when has lying about reality bothered either one of those rags?)

    Mass murder is scheduled, and since the Israeli swine have gotten away with it every time they’ve done it till now, why would they assume this time would be any different. All the congress-critters will be pressuring Trump to resupply Holy Israel with US bombs and airplanes. I’d expect my very own Senator Joseph Simon Donnelly Sr. (D-Israel) to be leading the charge.

    This is worrisome, for it could quickly get out of hand. I’ve got a “gut” feeling Israel will see some really substantial retaliation this time. No evidence at all, but still that nagging notion that Hezbollah has been been doing a rope-a-dope during the attacks it has endured. If Israel uses its nukes on anybody, there is just no telling how it will end.

    • Blue
      October 1, 2017 at 5:09 am

      I suspect Erdo?an and Turkey are angling for reconstruction projects also. This may also be a reason for Erdo?an’s tempered vision of Syria’s Assad.

      Turkey’s economy has been driven by construction projects since Erdo?an and the AKP have come to power, and has been prominent in the ME and Russia, so it would not be unreasonable to see them in Syria, if Erdo?an continues to “behave”.

  4. Paranam Kid
    September 30, 2017 at 1:42 pm

    With a permanent US military base on Israeli soil, plausible deniability and the illusion of an independent Israeli foreign policy vanishes completely.
    You put it the wrong way round: the illusion of an independent US foreign policy in the ME vanishes completely. It is Israel that has been guiding & pushing the US to engage in the endless wars in the ME, it is Israel that got the US to set up military shop in Israel.

    Preparing the Middle East for war with Iran has been a work-in-progress since the end of the Cold War.
    Sure, and who has been the driving force behind that?

    Remarkable how you leave Israel out of your spiel, as if it is the US, and only the US, that decides the strategy in & for the ME.

    • Abe
      September 30, 2017 at 2:30 pm

      “Remarkable how you leave Israel out of your spiel”
      https://blog.codinghorror.com/content/images/2015/04/obvious-troll-is-obvious.jpg

      Inverted Hasbara (fake “anti-Israel”) propaganda troll “Paranam Kid” tries to generate noise anywhere there is valid, fact-based, logically sound, and rational critique of Israeli policies, Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine, or Israel Lobby influence.

      Israel Lobby influence is a primary reason why there is no independent US foreign policy in the Middle East.

      The masquerade of Inverted Hasbara “strawman sockpuppets” like “Paranam Kid” reveal the profound inner rot of Israeli state policy and the corruption Israel Lobby.

      The CN comments section for Israel’s Stall-Forever ‘Peace’ Plan (September 23, 2017) on CN displays the antics of “Paranam Kid” and all his Hasbara troll army pals.

      • anon
        September 30, 2017 at 7:28 pm

        Please moderate your judgment of “hasbara troll” Abe; you have made some very unfair statements. I reviewed your spat with Paranam Kid in the 9/23/17 article and saw no evidence that he was defending Israel; he was strongly criticizing Israel and reacting to your attacks.

        To impute a devious strategy requires more evidence. If someone is insufficiently critical on some point, just say so. I find that most trolls are pretty plain about it, and those who are not usually make silly points and diversions and platitudes, which can be ignored unless clearly deceptive in intent.

        I am quite sure that you are both good people and can interact moderately despite any real differences. If we assume good intentions wherever possible, a humorous suggestion or clarification is sufficient.

        • Paranam Kid
          October 1, 2017 at 5:56 am

          The irony is that I agree with some of Abe’s comments, not all mind you, like the one above, but he has something about real hasbara trolls, which I understand, and what he terms “inverted” trolls, which I don’t understand.

          Indeed, the one country in the world I hate with a passion is Israel & its, what I call, nazi-onists. I feel sorry for the true anti-Zionists in Israel because they are having to endure the nazi-onists’ totalitarianism.

          I suspect Abe is probably what some call a “liberal” Zionist, who likes to pretend to be “critical” of Israel, sometimes with good arguments, sometimes with bogus ones, but who does not accept others’ harsh criticism of the “country”. His way of dealing with that is to pile his “inverted” hasbara garbage on the person. And if that fails, in desperation he uses that clichéd tool, the ultimate accusation: antisemitism or anti-Jewish, as you can see from his reaction. He does not know that coming from a person like him, I could not care less if he uses that tool because it just confirms that he has run out of real, fact-based arguments. People like him in effect just keep stoking the fire of real anti-Jewish racism.

          Anyway, I want to thank you for your concern, but as you can see from his reaction, he will stay on his track like a broken record, poor chap.

        • Abe
          October 1, 2017 at 5:08 pm

          Whilst repeating the favorite Inverted Hasbara propaganda epithet – “nazi-onists” – the obvious troll mentions so-called “liberal” Zionism.

          In fact, both “liberal” or “left-wing” Zionism and conservative” or “right-wing” Zionism enthusiastically support Israel’s illegal occupation and settlement project on Palestinian territory.

          For a better appreciation of both “left” and “right” Israeli Zionist greed for Palestinian land, see the following:
          http://mondoweiss.net/2017/09/liberated-occupied-territories/

      • Abe
        September 30, 2017 at 9:36 pm

        Hasbara troll army activity in comments at
        https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/23/israels-stall-forever-peace-plan/

        Hasbara propaganda has two forms:

        – Conventional Hasbara is “pro-Israel” and “pro-Zionist” propaganda activity

        – Inverted Hasbara “defends” Israel with false flag “anti-Israel”, “anti-Zionist”, and often overtly “anti-Jewish” or “anti-Semitic” propaganda.

        Inverted Hasbara propagandists masquerade as “strong critics of Israel” or “harsh critics of Zionism”.

        Inverted Hasbara propaganda employs fake “anti-Zionist” and fake “anti-Israel” verbiage, peppered with fake “anti-Jewish” and fake “anti-Semitic” epithets, including frequent use of the word “nazi”.

        The Hasbara troll team no doubt finds finds all this most “unfair”.

        • anon
          October 1, 2017 at 11:50 am

          It is unfair when applied by mistake, and the “inverted troll” concept does not allow ready distinction of the strong critic from the troll who might make excessive criticism so as to discredit such criticism.

          I would assume that strong criticism is sincere unless there are strong signs of intent to discredit itself, such as drifting off into looney concepts, celebrating discredited figures such as Hitler, etc. Then one can ignore it, point out the most obvious nonsense, or call out the troll. I did not see that in the 9/23 comments.

    • Abe
      October 1, 2017 at 2:53 pm

      Inverted Hasbara – false flag “anti-Zionism” – is one of Israel’s tools of deception in its propaganda campaign against the BDS movement, Palestinian human rights activism, the campaign to end Israel’s illegal 50-year military occupation of Palestinian territory, and anti-Zionist activism in general

      Inverted Hasbara is pro-Israel propaganda masquerading as “hate” for Israel and Zionism.

      The false flag “anti-Israel” and “anti-Zionist” deception of Inverted Hasbara often uses overt “anti-Jewish” and “anti-Semitic” racist statements.

      The usual online targets for these “passionate” expressions of false flag “hate” are independent investigative journalism sites and political blogs that examine the policies of the state of Israel, Israel’s military actions and illegal 50-year military occupation of Palestinian territory, the workings of the Israel Lobby and its influence on American foreign policy in the Middle East.

      The obvious question about Israeli propaganda’s campaign of false flag “hate” is: why the masquerade?

      The purpose of Inverted Hasbara is two-fold:

      1) To discredit real anti-Zionist activism and true independent journalism that is critical of Israel

      2) To promote enactment of laws to suppress “hate speech”

      Why should this be of concern?

      Because “hate speech” laws are being used to outlaw activism against Israeli policy and critical journalism on the grounds that it allegedly constitutes “anti-Semitism” and hatred against people for their national origin.

      This is already happening in Europe, where BDS activists have been convicted of “inciting racial hatred” for actions as innocuous as applying boycott stickers to produce imported from Israel.

      The Israel Lobby desperately wants U.S. officials or courts vested with the power to ban “hate speech”.

      Efforts to suppress alleged “hate speech” has been examined Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept: https://theintercept.com/2017/08/29/in-europe-hate-speech-laws-are-often-used-to-suppress-and-punish-left-wing-viewpoints/

      So back to Inverted Hasbara troll “Paranam Kid” who somehow just isn’t quite able to “understand” all this “garbage”.

      Two examples just from today demonstrate how this false flag “anti-Zionist” troll operates:

      Today’s comment from “Paranam Kid” for “Israel’s Stall-Forever ‘Peace’ Plan” reads: “FYI the Zionists who infested Palestine & proceeded to fraudulently create Israel were AshkeNAZI Jews”

      Today’s comment for “How Syria’s Victory Reshapes Mideast” reads: “the one country in the world I hate with a passion is Israel”

      I am a progressive Jew with over three decades of direct anti-war and social justice activism who embraces very harsh but fact-based and fair criticism of Israel and Zionism. I have not witnessed not one single person spew any form of mere “hate” for Israel, Zionism and Jewish people as such.

      There is indeed a factual basis for comparison of certain Israeli and Zionist policies with the genocidal actions of the Nazis. Even senior officials in the military and government in Israel have acknowledged such concerns about specific Israeli policies.

      But the comments of “Paranam Kid” on this and other sites – which include open admission of “hate” – indicate that this is not a merely the “passion” of a “strong critic”.

      “Paranam Kid” has specifically targeted websites like CN, Mondoweiss, Foreign Policy Journal, +972, and TruthDig with his “passion”: frequent troll comments mostly consisting of loud condemnations of the ever nefarious “AshkeNAZI Jews”, “Zionazis”, and “the Jews” generally, with plenty of “hatred” for Israel.

      In short, Inverted Hasbara troll “Paranam Kid” operates as a conspicuous false flag poster child for “hate speech” – one of many Inverted Hasbara propaganda operatives busy generating examples of “hate” for “Israel, Zionism and the Jews” that judges or officials can wave before passing legislation to “regulate” the alleged problem of “widespread” online “hate speech”.

      Of course, an Inverted Hasbara troll does not operate alone.

      There are always plenty of Hasbara troll army comrades ready to insist that it’s all “unfair”.

      • Paranam Kid
        October 2, 2017 at 11:39 am

        Our fellow commenters must be so happy to have been informed by you, CN’s resident unemployed investigator/specialist verbal diarrhoea generator where else Paranam Kid states the basic truths about your beloved “country”, viz. that it is a genocidal, apartheid, nazi-onist state that has lack legitimacy from the day it was fraudulently created. Our fellow commenters will have improved their understanding of the israel/Palestine issue now that they know where else I comment. Keep up the good work cowboy, you’ll there 1 day.

    • Abe
      October 1, 2017 at 11:59 pm

      Interesting to note, the term “Ashke-Nazi Jews” has its origin in Israeli political culture.

      Inverted Hasbara (fake “anti-Israel” and false flag “anti-Zionist”) propaganda capitalizes on the “banalization of Hololocaust rhetoric” in Israeli national identity discourse.

      Cultural historian Steven Aschheim noted that right wing Israeli settlers in occupied Palestinian territories after 1967, vehemently uttered the “nazi” epithet at both Arab Palestinian residents and the Israeli military:

      “paradoxically, the same right-wing settlers who most dramatically annexed the Nazi analogy in the struggle against the Arabs, hurled that very accusation against their own army and the Israeli soldiers sent to control their demonstrations and illegal activities in the occupied territories”
      – Culture and Catastrophe: German and Jewish Confrontations with National Socialism and Other Crises (1996), pg. 26

      The use of “nazi” rhetoric, “racist” epithets and “hate” discourse occurs not only among Zionist extremists in Israel and illegal settlers in occupied Palestinian territory, but also among “supporters of Israel” in the United States:
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R611drTEHPA

  5. September 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    It will be difficult to put Humpy Dumpty back together again but I believe it’s more possible in Syria than Iraq. Russian brokerage of any agreement is necessary as Alastair Crooke suggests and Erdogan and Putin already seem to have agreed on something that remains obscure.Erdogan remains the wild card in Syria. Can he control the Wahhabist Sunnis and respect the current borders? I believe that Crooke is correct about the YPG Syrian Kurds being amenable to an agreement with Damascus but believe the Israeli/neocon scheme with Barzani is more likely a bluff(on Barzani’s part) to strengthen his own position. Of course, as the resident Kurdish troll I have a bias, so here’s an excellent interview on RT’s “Worlds Apart” where Oksana Boyko pops some very pertinent questions to Prof. Brendan O’Leary who I think does a good job of explaining Barzani’s position.
    https://www.rt.com/shows/worlds-apart-oksana-boyko/404853-kurdish-language-independence-referendum/

    • Abe
      September 30, 2017 at 2:50 pm

      “The Iraqi Kurds, under Masoud Barzani, were complicit in the mid 2014 Islamic State takeover of Mosul and the Sinjar region inhabited by Kurdish speaking Yezidis. They saw it as an opportunity to take more oil and declare their own independence from Baghdad. Only after the Islamic State marched towards the Kurdish “capital” Erbil, where U.S. and Israeli intelligence as well as western oil companies have their regional headquarters, did the Barzani Kurds start to oppose the Islamic State.

      “They then used the fight against the Islamic State to widen the area they controlled by 40%. Minorities like the Yezidi and Assyrians, which were driven away from their homes by the Islamic State, are now denied to return to their areas by Kurdish occupiers.”

      By The Grace Of Israel – The Barzani Clan And Kurdish “Independence”
      http://www.moonofalabama.org/2017/09/by-the-grace-of-israel-the-barzani-clan-and-kurdish-independence.html

      • September 30, 2017 at 4:22 pm

        I wouldn’t argue with most of the facts in the article despite the anti-Kurdish stance. At that time the Kurds were only given basic arms and no heavy weapons because Washington was still favoring Baghdad and didn’t want to alienate al-Maliki. ISIS was being supplied superior weapons by their rich Saudi allies and the defense of Singar was strategically impractical. As the article points out the Isis came very close to capturing Erbil.

        “They then used the fight against the Islamic State to widen the area they controlled by 40%. Minorities like the Yezidi and Assyrians, which were driven away from their homes by the Islamic State, are now denied to return to their areas by Kurdish occupiers.”

        Yes, of course they would claim those areas that they helped to liberate. Do you really think the minority Christians and Yezidis would prefer to live in a Sunni dominated area of Iraq after the ISIS occupation even, if they felt “betrayed” by the Kurdish troops that abandoned Singar to ISIS?

        I don’t believe the second part of the statement is correct. They are not “denied to return to their areas by Kurdish occupiers” because of any ethnic cleansing. Their homes were booby-trapped by ISIS and need to be cleared before their return. This can be confirmed by RT news.

        • Abe
          September 30, 2017 at 6:03 pm

          Glad we’re not arguing about facts.

          It is interesting how a “pro-Kurdish” stance can interfere with a person’s ability to process basic factual information.

          The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are the umbrella for several militias of the so-called Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, most commonly known as “Rojava” (the Kurdish word for the Northern Syria region)

          Rojava’s most important defense militia is the People’s Protection Units (YPG). The YPG was founded by the PYD party after the 2004 Qamishli clashes, but it was not active until 2012 after the Syrian government troops withdrew to fight against Al Qaeda terror assaults elsewhere in Syria.

          Closely related to Rojava is the Syriac Military Council (MFS), an Assyrian militia.

          The YPG, the MFS, and all other militias and subsidiary groups in Rojava all fight under the SDF label.

          Northern Syria is polyethnic and home to sizable ethnic Kurdish, Arab, Syriac-Assyrian and Turkmen populations, with smaller communities of ethnic Armenians, Circassians and Chechens.

          Despite such ethnic diversity, Kurdish nationalists regard Rojava as Western Kurdistan, one of the four parts of “Greater Kurdistan” alongside southeastern Turkey (Northern Kurdistan), northern Iraq (Southern Kurdistan), and northwestern Iran (Eastern Kurdistan).

          The “pro-Kurdish” stance of the SDF clearly aligns with Western interests’ “regime change” plans for Syria.

          The “Kurdish stance” in battle in Syria and Iraq does display a unique feature: When ISIS advances, the Kurds fall back. When Kurds advance, ISIS falls back. A heck of a lot of ground gets covered that way.

          At least, that’s clear for anyone paying attention.

          • September 30, 2017 at 6:38 pm

            Abe,…I’m sure you’ll be amazed that I was aware of these facts, but most of these minorities are not very consequential to the fighting(except for the radicalized foreigners)and they remain victims defending their own village(often from SDF fanatics). My “pro-Kurdish stance” doesn’t deny that many Kurds have a dream of a greater Kurdistan, but I believe the circumstances on the ground have made the YPG more realistic.

          • September 30, 2017 at 6:49 pm

            “The “Kurdish stance” in battle in Syria and Iraq does display a unique feature: When ISIS advances, the Kurds fall back”…as far as this goes(if true) it’s quite understandable that the Kurds are tired of doing someone else’s dirty work(especially on land they don’t claim).

          • Abe
            September 30, 2017 at 8:41 pm

            “as far as this goes (if true) it’s quite understandable”

            Enthusiasm for the “Kurdish project” obviously involves not only a “stance”, but a “glance” and a discernible “dance”.

            Quite understandable to not pay attention to the fact that the Kurds are well paid for dirty work on behalf of “friends” in two very dirty wars still raging in Iraq and Syria.

            Let’s start with that RT video reference that Bob paid such careful attention to.

            Political science professor Brendan O’Leary is no mere interested bystander.

            O’Leary is an “advisor” to the Kurdistan National Assembly, responsible for advising on the constitutional “reconstruction” of Iraq and Kurdistan.

            In fact, following the United States’ successful “reconstruction” of the Iraqi state in 2003, professor O’Leary edited a most inspiring text, The Kurdistan Region: Invest in the Future (2008)

            http://www.polisci.upenn.edu/ppec/PPEC%20People/Brendan%20O%27Leary/publications/Invest_in_the_Future_2008.pdf

            The future was so bright that the phrase “bright future” was repeated four times in the text as the Kurdistan Regional Government pledged its sincere “commitment” to make the future bright for international “friends” seeking access to Kurdish oil and gas.

            Starting in 2014, the campaigns of ISIS further weakened the Iraqi central government, allowing the Kurds to expand their territory, demonstrate their heroics as ISIS obligingly retreated when necessary, and keep all oil and gas secure for Kurdistan’s “friends”.

            Maybe its my “anti-Kurdish” view…

            It has not escaped my attention that Kurdish forces in Iraq demonstrate the same battlefield “stance”, “glance” and “dance” as the Kurdish forces in Syria:

            ISIS advances as the Kurds withdraw, then ISIS withdraws as the Kurd advance, with U.S. advisors close at hand on the ground and U.S. assets ever watchful in the air.

            And ISIS always appears to “escape”.

            What remains is devastation and depopulation, an ethnic cleansing two-step dance that serves Kurdish interests while advancing the interests of their “friends”.

            For example, in the RT video discussion of the Israel-backed Kurdish referendum, O’Leary dryly notes that whatever purportedly “weakens Iranian influence will be welcomed by Israel”.

            Of course, Kurdish and Israeli “friendship” goes way back. Big deal. Move along, nothing to see here.

            Stance. Glance. Dance.

            The future couldn’t be brighter for Kurdistan, which has such an important role to play in “reconstructing” the map and forging the “New Middle East”.

            To suggest anything untoward in all this is “absurd” and downright “anti-Kurdish”.

          • September 30, 2017 at 9:11 pm

            ‘the Kurds are well paid for dirty work on behalf of “friends” in two very dirty wars still raging in Iraq and Syria.”
            …I sincerely doubt your average peshmerga would think so

            “O’Leary is an “advisor” to the Kurdistan National Assembly, responsible for advising on the constitutional “reconstruction” of Iraq and Kurdistan.”…so what?…don’t they deserve an advocate?

          • turk151
            October 1, 2017 at 12:02 pm

            The Kurds were instrumental in the Armenian Genocide. The Turks marched the Armenians through Kurdish territory who slaughtered the Armenians at the behest of the Pasha. While there are many good Kurdish people, there is a very nasty element permeating that culture. Theirry Meyssan has a 3 part expose on the dark side of the Kurdish leadership.

          • October 1, 2017 at 9:38 pm

            Turk101,…I realize that and don’t contest your statement, but some peoples evolve. I also believe that the present borders of Turkey should be respected, but Erdogan is doing nothing to entice the Turkish Kurds to integrate further into Turkish society. I believe they would be much more amenable to remaining a part of Turkey if they had their own autonomous region. In my opinion the fear of a greater Kurdistan is overblown. they need to have their own homeland and then face up to reality.

        • Bill
          October 3, 2017 at 8:46 pm

          The Yezidis ARE Kurds.

      • Abe
        September 30, 2017 at 5:28 pm

        Such a stance clearly adds to tensions as evidenced here: https://consortiumnews.com/2017/09/24/vote-by-iraqi-kurds-adds-to-tensions/

        But don’t worry, you still get the benefit of the doubt, Bob. Nary a whisper of the “t” word. No need to blog about it.

        Anyhoo, since you’re still not paying attention:

        The Syrian Democratic Forces, commonly abbreviated as SDF or QSD, are a multi-ethnic and multi-religious alliance of predominantly Kurdish but also Arab and Assyrian/Syriac militias, as well as some smaller Turkmen, Armenian, Circassian and Chechen groups,

        The SDF is mostly composed of, and militarily led by, the People’s Protection Units (YPG), a mostly Kurdish militia.

        According to the Pentagon, Kurds made up 40% of the SDF and myriad “Arabs” 60% in March 2017
        [Source: U.S. Department of Defense Press Briefing by Gen. Townsend via teleconference from Baghdad, Iraq, 1 March 2017]

        Other sources estimate the “Arab” components of the SDF to be at a significantly lower number.

        Founded in October 2015, the SDF states its mission as fighting to create a secular, democratic and federal Syria, along the lines of the Rojava Revolution in northern Syria. The updated December 2016 constitution of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria names the SDF as its official defense force.

        • September 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm

          Yes, but you also know that the SDF was largely formed as a single unit by the Pentagon, the same people that didn’t know the difference between a Shia and a Sunni when they invaded Iraq and then surprise, surprise their Syrian Democratic Forces were infiltrated by Islamic militants, the most effective fighting forces(albeit terrorists)apart from the Kurds. They only recently realized the Kurds were the only ones making progress against ISIS. The Pentagon’s current statistics may include the Kurds as part of SDF but that doesn’t mean the YPG doesn’t have its own agenda. The Chechen groups must be a real concern to Putin and part of the reason the Russians are in Syria.

        • Abe
          October 1, 2017 at 3:33 pm

          According to the Pentagon’s “dance” choreography, “the Kurds were the only ones making progress against ISIS”.

          Never mind the fact that “progress” involves ISIS somehow always managing to “escape” the Pentagon’s glorious new “moderate” Kurdish proxy force.

    • Abe
      October 2, 2017 at 1:07 pm

      “Attempts have been made – and have mostly failed – to foster greater conflict between Syria’s Kurdish minority and the government in Damascus. While seizing back every inch of Syrian territory may not be realistic in the near future, it is very possible in the intermediate future as America’s ‘guarantees’ to the Kurds become increasingly irrelevant and as Damascus works on a deal to bring various groups, including the Kurds, back under the protection and prosperity of a unified Syrian state.

      “Syria’s Kurdish minority can only realistically hold small swaths of Syrian territory, confined mainly in the northeast. The Kurdish forces may have pushed toward Raqqa and even further south toward Deir ez-Zor with the help of significant US military support, but they now find themselves trying to occupy territory with no demographically significant Kurdish population present. A mainly Kurdish administration, or an Arab administration dependent on Kurdish military protection, is unsustainable.

      “With such an unsustainable grasp on the territory US proxies are attempting to hold, cracks both between these proxies themselves and as the Syrian government begins reasserting control over its own territory further east, this grasp will weaken further.

      “[…] Syria’s Kurds face an unsustainable future as America’s proxies inside what is essentially an American ‘safe zone.’ Syria’s Kurds have a much more sustainable future should they strike a deal with Damascus for greater autonomy. It is a crossroad quickly approaching, and one that will decide whether Syria faces years more of foreign-driven conflict, or the prospect of internal peace and prosperity.”

      Safe-Zone Judo as Syrian Forces Cross the Euphrates
      By Tony Cartalucci
      http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2017/10/safe-zone-judo-as-syrian-forces-cross.html

  6. D5-5
    September 30, 2017 at 2:36 pm

    NEO Sept 28 indicates Trump’s order in July to cancel assisting terrorist groups has found alternatives to continuing the alliance:

    “An organization called the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) have revealed the results of an extended investigation into the various terrorist groups in Syria, and more particularly, how and from whom they receive their seemingly endless flow of weapons and ammunition.

    The weapons and ammunition used by the terrorists, the study revealed, have been organized by the CIA and the Pentagon, using two channels in particular, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and a little known weapons supply company, Picatinny Arsenal, based in New Jersey.

    The weapons are purchased in a number of East European countries, all with NATO membership, and they are all weapons described as “non-standard” which is the NATO euphemism for weapons manufactured in East Europe, primarily Russia and the Czech Republic.

    These non-American sources give an added layer of deniability when the weapons are captured from the terrorists.

    The weapons that are purchased are then transported to Syria, using a network of arms dealers, shipping companies, US military bases, and a Bulgarian airline called Silk Way Airlines. Under the terms of the UN Arms Trade Treaty, which the US has signed but not ratified, the end user of all weapons is required to be shown on all export certificates. None of the SOCOM certificates name any Middle Eastern country. The BIRN Report however, makes it clear that that is precisely where the weapons are destined.

    The weapons and related armaments are typically either shipped into friendly ports, or flown into US bases in Turkey and Jordan and then shipped overland to their terrorist group destinations.

    In July 2017 Trump ordered that the CIA cease supplying weapons to Syrian terrorist groups. The cessation of this program, known as Operation Sycamore, was welcomed at the time as one signal of the US’s changed policy regarding Syria. The program however, has simply carried on under different guises and using different conduits, of which Silk Way Airlines is merely one.”

    h*tps://journal-neo.org/2017/09/28/us-and-terrorist-groups-in-desperate-rearguard-actions-in-syria/

    • October 2, 2017 at 11:19 pm

      @ “The weapons and ammunition used by the terrorists, the study revealed, have been organized by the CIA and the Pentagon, using two channels in particular, the Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and a little known weapons supply company, Picatinny Arsenal, based in New Jersey.”

      NEO got part of that wrong. Picatinny Arsenal is not a weapons supply company; it is a U.S. government facility, the headquarters of the United States Army Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center and of the US Army Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Directorate. See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picatinny_Arsenal

    • Abe
      October 3, 2017 at 1:05 am

      Picatinny Arsenal is the center for the US Department of Defense’s research, development and acquisition of guns and ammunition, with a workload more than an order of magnitude greater than any other DOD facility in this area. It also is home to the DOD’s single manager for conventional ammunition:

      “Picatinny Arsenal provides close to 90% of the lethal mechanisms used in Army weapon systems and other military services”
      http://www.militarybases.us/army/picatinny-arsenal/

  7. Abe
    September 30, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    The Russian Ministry of Defence has released photos that show U.S. forces and ISIS working alongside one another against Russian and Syrian forces in Deir ez-Zour:

    CONFIRMED: ISIS, the United States and SDF unite on the battle field against Syria and Russia
    By Adam Garrie
    http://theduran.com/russia-releases-photos-proving-ussdfisis-collusion-deir-ez-zor/

    The photos depict the SDF and American Special Forces working together in ISIS-controlled territory. What is notable is that neither forces have faced resistance from ISIS nor have they come under attack by the terror organization.

    In addition, neither the SDF nor the U.S. forces appeared to have maintained defensive positions, perimeters, or patrols, indicating that they are quite confident that the jihadists in the surrounding areas will not attack them. The latter aspect seems to lend credence to the idea that both forces are working with ISIS, not simply having entered into a truce with them since a truce would still necessitate the construction of a defensive perimeter. They are, in effect, moving amongst one another as allies tend to do.

    • September 30, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      “The fact of the matter is that, the Kurdish led SDF and ISIS now share the same strategic goals, in spite of apparent ideological differences.”. I have seen no report that Syrian Kurdish forces have been integrated with the SDF and the prospect that they “now share the same strategic goals” with the SDF or ISIS is absurd.

  8. September 30, 2017 at 3:19 pm

    I believe Syria was a war crime perpetrated by the West and its “allies.”
    Therefore I ask:
    “When Are The Past and Present Leaders of a Number of Countries Going To Be Arrested For Financing, Training, Arming and Assisting Terrorists?”
    [more info at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2017/07/when-are-past-and-present-leaders-of.html

    • mark
      September 30, 2017 at 9:59 pm

      Never.
      You only have to face war crimes charges if you have a black face and come from a weak African country that is not a US stooge.

  9. Abe
    September 30, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    As reported earlier in September by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), funded by the Open Society Foundations of billionaire philanthropist George Soros and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID):

    “The Pentagon has relied on an army of contractors and sub-contractors – from blue-chip military giants to firms linked to organized crime – to supply up to US$ 2.2 billion worth of Soviet-style arms and ammunition to Syrian rebels […]

    “Arms factories across the Balkans and Eastern Europe – already working at capacity to supply the Syrian war – are unable to meet the demand. In response, the US Department of Defense (DoD) has turned to new suppliers like Kazakhstan, Georgia, and Ukraine for additional munitions while relaxing standards on the material it’s willing to accept […]

    “Reporters have pieced together the Pentagon’s complex supply line to Syria using procurement records, ship-tracking data, official reports, leaked emails, and interviews with insiders. This program is separate from a now-defunct CIA effort to arm rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad.

    “The Pentagon is buying the arms through two channels: the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which oversees special operations across all services of the US military, and the Picatinny Arsenal, a little-known US Army weapons facility in New Jersey.

    “The munitions are being transported by both sea and air from Europe to Turkey, Jordan and Kuwait. They are then distributed to US allies in northern and southern Syria by plane and truck.

    “Reporters discovered that the US is using vaguely worded legal documents which obscure Syria as the weapons’ final destination – a practice experts say threatens global efforts to combat arms trafficking and puts the Eastern European governments who sell the weapons and ammunition at risk of breaching international law.”

    https://www.occrp.org/en/makingakilling/the-pentagon-is-spending-2-billion-on-soviet-style-arms-for-syrian-rebels

    The OCCRP report claims that the arms shipments are to supply U.S. allied forces “fighting a sprawling war against the Islamic State (ISIS)”.

    However, evidence on the battlefield clearly indicates that U.S. proxy forces are not only NOT fighting ISIS, they may actually be channeling weapons to the Islamic State forces to supplement recent ISIS arms losses during clashes with the Syrian Arab Army.

    • Susan Sunflower
      September 30, 2017 at 3:41 pm

      I suspect this flooding of arms is actually money-laundering in reverse, if you will. I’ve never gotten an answer wrt the CIA in Benghazi, but they were supposedly taking control of heavy weaponry (from various pre-war and and post-war arsenals — the registry of these weapons unmentioned) from various miltias, but how exactly they were taking possession (and staying alive) was never mentioned, leaving open the (IMHO, likely) possibility that we were buying (back) heavy weapons previously sold to Gadhafi and the other regional players (how much originating in American “aid” and/or of American manufacture). Seemed unlikely they (the CIA) were playing repo-man type games and staying alive. (Apparently they were considerably “less secret” than portrayed).

      Similarly, I suspect these dumped weapons are quickly converted to cash or bartered on the black market for “whateever your heart desires” … which would be a truly loathsome escalation of international underworld corruption (in contrast to actual state agencies/government, also corrupt, but less able to deliver). Dreadful.

      Using used weapons, like selling used cars, muddies the provenance.

      • Susan Sunflower
        September 30, 2017 at 3:51 pm

        I’d add that these areas and groups have been awash in weapons for more than a decade, but what I suspect they find in short supply from time to time is larger-scale ammunition and cash money to pay salaries … The flush militias (Saudi funded) in Syria were paying “volunteers”, irrc, twice or more the money available from the rock-bottom … failure to make payroll did happen and encouraged “loyalty” shifts.
        Strange in hindsight to realize how much “ideologically driven” may have been a faux narrative.

    • Abe
      September 30, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      Susan, I agree with your point concerning the faux narrative.

      All these “regime change” projects to forge a “New Middle East” are seething with terrorists who clearly are far more mercenary than “ideologically driven” in their motivations.

      The recent purchases of Soviet-style arms and ammunition are from suppliers in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, all areas bordering Russia.

      Regardless if reverse money-laundering is “actually” a part of the picture, concerns about the use of these arms in terrorism are valid.

      What is abundantly clear is that these arms are being supplied to terrorist forces to advance the U.S. “regime change” agenda.

      The OCCRP, Soros’ Open Society and USAID are conspicuously unconcerned about the terrorist aspect of the project.

  10. September 30, 2017 at 3:49 pm

    Info at link below on the past and present war criminals in positions of power
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.ca/2016/10/the-evidence-of-planning-of-wars.html

  11. fudmier
    September 30, 2017 at 6:01 pm

    Abe September 30, 2017 at 1:07 pm signals a brunt USA approach to control and regulate the gooodes of the Middle East.
    Zachary Smith September 30, 2017 at 1:37 pm The author [Alastair Crooke] seems to focus on the Israel project of using the Kurds as a pawn, but suggests the major issue has been missed which is the retaliation to Israel resulting from Israelis attempt to destroy Lebanon, but fudmier thinks the reason for the military base in Israel is to cover up the massive dollars being drained from American citizens to fund the military in these foreign wars.
    BobH September 30, 2017 at 1:56 pm I think the Erdogan Putin plan was just Trumped by the information in following links.
    http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/30/537036/Iraq-Kurds-referendum
    http://www.presstv.ir/Detail/2017/09/30/537033/Hezbollah-is-now-in-its-strongest-position-Nasrallah
    the Barzani, the Mosaud, Usa, Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Netanyohu were way ahead of the game in the Kurd independence.

  12. September 30, 2017 at 6:30 pm

    An incredibly informative analysis, that connects the pathway dots to understanding “the big picture” in tomorrow’s Middle East.

  13. LJ
    September 30, 2017 at 8:25 pm

    The US is still trying to destabilize Syria. It ain’t over. Now this Kurdish card with Barzani does seem stupid with Turkey aligned with Russia and Iran at present. That may be why the USA is playing footsie with Qatar and Saudis Young viceroy is getting nervous. It is about oil and water and gas fields but Iraq , Iran and Turkey can shut their borders and stop the oil flow and that means the money. . The Kurds respond and Turkey takes over the border militarily . What can the USA do then? He’s correct that Iran/ the Shia are entrenched in Iraq and Syria now, He does not mention that Kurdish Iraq doesn’t have enough oil to function as an independent country without Kirkuk and it’s oil fields and they can’t hold the territory so this mess (that began with the No-Fly Zone under GHW Bush) will probably have to play out violently. There are other groups that need a voice, like Druze, Turkmen , Assyrian Christians, Palestinian refugees these groups are not subservient to governments. They operate on tribal lines of authority with familial and clan loyalties most important. This is the basis of the confessional model the French set up that did not work. The social society there has been working out it’s contradictions for hundreds of years. This new input of hiring Islamist mercenaries to force regime change is somewhat different but the real destabilizing factor was, is and will continue to be blow back from the creation of the State of Israel and US support of the Zionist Project. Israel is not a good neighbor. They hurt. That is the 2000 lb gorilla in the Middle East and until baby Frankenstein learns how to behave I see little hope that the USA, the UN or the Europeans ( England, France, Germany) will attempt to force a long lasting peace in the Middle East. In short, sorry. This mess ain’t even close to resolving itself . In my opinion there is very little chance of predicting what is going to occur even in the short term. Good article anyway.

  14. Gilbert Doctorow
    October 1, 2017 at 1:47 am

    Kudos to the author for a very helpful expert analysis of what comes next in Syria and the broader M iddle East!

  15. Ponomarev
    October 1, 2017 at 5:25 am

    This is an excellent analysis of an ongoing radical shift in the political realities of the Middle East. The critical role of Russia in this process is clear, not only from a military perspective but also as described by this excerpt: “The processes of de-escalation and reconciliation facilitated by Russia – in and of themselves – will change fundamentally the politics of Syria.” This is in marked contrast to the policies of the U.S. and its vassal states, which focus on “divide and conquer” and creating chaos.

    • Gregory Herr
      October 1, 2017 at 3:36 pm

      “de-escalation & reconciliation” contrasted by “divide & conquer” is instructive

  16. mike k
    October 1, 2017 at 7:39 am

    The declining US Empire has no intention to facilitate peace anywhere in the world, it is preparing for the final War.

    https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2017/09/30/us-takes-new-steps-to-dismantle-open-skies-treaty.html

  17. Michael Kenny
    October 1, 2017 at 10:18 am

    Abraham Lincoln once said that the hen is the most intelligent of all the animal kingdom: it doesn’t cackle until the egg is actually laid! Claims of an Assad “victory” and a concomitant Israeli “defeat” are rather premature. The price of this “victory” is that Putin is hopelessly bogged down in Syria. He has no choice now but to prop up Assad for all time and against all comers. The US (and, by extension, Israel) has the initiative. It can lower the boom on Putin at any time and as often as it likes into the indefinite future. Putin no choice but to sit there and react to whatever the US throws at him. That’s why I think that, the spooks having failed to prop up Putin by installing a Putin stooge in the White House, their next move will logically be to try to install a Putin stooge in Israel. They’ll probably be no more successful in Israel than in the US but they’re abviously scared silly of Putin being taken down (why?), so they have to resort to desperate throw of the dice after desperate throw of the dice.

    • Abe
      October 2, 2017 at 4:16 pm

      Oodles of “Putin” cackle from our resident strange hen “Michael Kenny”

      “Putin is hopelessly bogged”
      “lower the boom on Putin”
      “Putin no choice”
      “installing a Putin stooge”
      “try to install a Putin stooge”
      “Putin being taken down”

      After all the usual clucking and egg laying, our desperate hen crows:

      “The US (and, by extension, Israel) has the initiative.”

      Sounds like “caca doodle doo!”

  18. Orion
    October 1, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    The scenario painted by the author was long obvious to most people with some interest in geopolitics, and with some grasp of the changing contours of the Syrian conflict. The irony is that it took this long for a seasoned diplomat to admit the obvious. But the British, unlike the Americans, have longer colonial experience to know they have lost, lick their wounds and retreat to fight some other day. The Eurasia / Europe economic union is too big a threat to the US/UK/west to give up yet, and more devastation may yet unfold along the central Asia and middle east.

    • LJ
      October 1, 2017 at 4:30 pm

      This guy is a Brit. They always get paid. Hard to know who is paying and why or what the goal is. Israel always figures prominently with Brits. How can anyone realistically predict anything at this point?. Will Israel attack Lebanon/Hezbollah now that the Democratic majority is in power in Lebanon headed by the Anti American Christian General Aoun? Do not count it out. Is a coup about to happen in Saudi Arabia? Do not count it out. The USA wants the present KSA Regime out, so say the Tea Leaves. The USA still wants Assad out. The USA loves Netanyahu hates Hezbollah, hates Iran. The Kurds are a chip to play in a poker game. Partition has been on the table since long before Senator Joe Biden was advocating the partition of Iraq on Meet the Press back when he was in the opposition party when GW Bush was President. Hezbollah ‘s Hassan Nasrallah two days ago in a speech said that the Kurdish Referendum was the beginning of the partition of Iraq. If you do a cursory review of his speeches and prognostications you will see that he does not lie for ideological press points. . He’s rather like Putin in that regard. Often respected doctors treat symptoms rather than the underlying disease. They aren’t like the guy in House. I think this author is one of those Doctors.

  19. Drew Hunkins
    October 1, 2017 at 4:25 pm

    Expect a dangerous and violent counter attack from the Washington-Zio-militarist bloc. Perhaps targeting for destabilization a few of the “stans” that generally run along Russia’s southern border regions.

    The Kremlin and Putin have become enemy number one now that they may be on the verge of beating back the regime change plans against the secular (and relatively pro Palestinian) Assad.

    Tel Aviv will bleed the American treasury dry in waging all sorts of bloody counter offensives around the globe, targetting independent pro Palestinian leaders wherever they may reside.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 2, 2017 at 10:51 pm

      The “counterattack” may have started in Syria.

      “Drone strike kills at least 10 Hezbollah fighters in Syria”

      An early guess is that this wasn’t an ISIS toy drone carrying a hand grenade, but something from Israel or the US. I’d say that Israel really wants a reaction so as to start the carpet-bombing. Idle thought – what if this drone was a “stealth” type and almost invisible to radar?

      h**p://www.thestatesman.com/world/drone-strike-kills-least-10-hezbollah-fighters-syria-1502504070.html

      Another story from Syria is that Russia has sent in a second S-500 unit. It’s sitting in the mountains with a much better view.

      h**p://www.janes.com/article/74500/second-russian-s-400-in-syria-confirmed

      I just hope none of Trump’s uniformed boys are “End Timers”.

  20. Carroll Price
    October 3, 2017 at 10:09 am

    …and the person who hinted at injecting some measure of decency and common sense into US foreign policy turns out to be another George W. Bush – with orange hair.

    • Zachary Smith
      October 3, 2017 at 12:35 pm

      It’s a shame that 2016 voters had a choice between a candidate who essentially promised more Mid-East violence and another who said he would taper off the mindless violence —- but lied.

  21. LJ
    October 4, 2017 at 2:12 pm

    And now for something completely different> a link to Russian approved fact based news from RT: https://www.rt.com/op-edge/405651-masoud-barzani-kurds-turkey/ . Question? How many people died when IS overran Iraqi territory and occupied Mosul? How many of those who didn’t run were tortured, abused and/or murdered under IS occupation of Mosul? The Iraq Army (Shiites)withdrew when their positions were rendered indefensible because the Kurds had already abandoned Mosul before ISIS attacked. As ISIS were heading across the desert in hundreds of new Toyota trucks mounted with Machine Guns, the USA had no knowledge of what was happening of course. This was a total surprise and it most definitely wasn’t coordinated with the Saudis (KSA Intelligence and the CIA, MI6, etc.) and whoever it was that bought and paid for all the military equipment and training and planning . Of course it wasn’t and our government and the Obama Administration were completely surprised by the whole operation. And Barzani and his family, the Iraqi Kurdish Regional government that is, had absolutely no foreknowledge that this attack would be occurring and certainly had not ordered the complete abandonment of all defensive positions by Kurdish peshmerga even though that was exactly what happened. Right. WE really are that stupid. We are so stupid in fact that we cannot even connect the dots and draw a picture with color crayons . WE are really stupid but we are well informed and we can find accurate information on an as need to know basis. This is comforting for me and I hope for you all as well. Stay safe .

  22. silvanus
    October 5, 2017 at 11:09 pm

    Really, Syria has victory? Where? Cooke is watching something in the M.E. that I haven’t seen. Victory in Syria? I don’t see it. May be I am missing something here. Turkey and Iran with the help of Russia according to Cooke has now liberated Syria from the U.S., Israeli, Kurdish, led coalition from attaining their goals of hegemony. ISIS of course has been defeated in Syria, and Iraq, and now the Kurds are in control of the big prize and that of course is Nothern Iraq’s oil fields. So really this new Kurdistan in Northern Iraq which is opposed by Syria, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq must now begin a new war with the Kurdish Peshmerga and let’s face it world opinion is on the side of the Kurds. The Kurds will not under any of these threats relinguish their right to their own soverignty, and let’s face it over 30,000,000 Kurds can’t be wrong now can they Cooke?

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