Critics of Syria Withdrawal Fueled Rise of ISIS

Too many of those protesting the removal of U.S. forces are authors of the catastrophe that tore Syria to pieces, reports Max Blumenthal for Consortium News.

By Max Blumenthal
Special to Consortium News

President Donald Trump’s announcement of an imminent withdrawal of US troops from northeastern Syria summoned a predictable paroxysm of outrage from Washington’s foreign policy establishment. Former secretary of state and self-described “hair icon” Hillary Clinton perfectly distilled the bipartisan freakout into a single tweet, accusing Trump of “isolationism” and “playing into Russia and Iran’s hands.”

Michelle Flournoy, the DC apparatchik who would have been Hillary’s secretary of defense, slammed the pull-out as “foreign policy malpractice,” while Hillary’s successor at the State Department, John Kerry, threw bits of red meat to the Russiagate-crazed Democratic base by branding Trump’s decision “a Christmas gift to Putin.” From the halls of Congress to the K Street corridors of Gulf-funded think tanks, a chorus of protest proclaimed that removing U.S. troops from Syria would simultaneously abet Iran and bring ISIS back from the grave.

Yet few of those thundering condemnations of the president’s move seemed able to explain just why a few thousand U.S. troops had been deployed to the Syrian hinterlands in the first place. If the mission was to destroy ISIS, then why did ISIS rise in the first place? And why was the jihadist organization still festering right in the midst of the U.S. military occupation?

Too many critics of withdrawal had played central roles in the Syrian crisis to answer these questions honestly. They had either served as media cheerleaders for intervention, or crafted the policies aimed at collapsing Syria’s government that fueled the rise of ISIS. The Syrian catastrophe was their legacy, and they were out to defend it at any cost.

Birthing ISIS From the Womb of Regime Change

During the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Clinton, Kerry, and the rest of the Beltway blob lined up reflexively behind George W. Bush. The insurgency that followed the violent removal of Iraq’s Ba’athist government set the stage for the declaration of the first Islamic State by Abu Musab Zarqawi in 2006.

Five years later, with near-total consent from Congress, Hillary enthusiastically presided over NATO’s assault on Libya, cackling with glee when she learned that the country’s longtime leader, Moammar Gaddafi, had been sodomized with a bayonet and shot to death by Islamist insurgents — “We came, we saw, he died!” It was not long before an Islamist Emirate was established in Gaddafi’s hometown of Sirte, while 31 flavors of jihadi militias festered in Tripoli and Benghazi. 

Clinton and Kerry: Architects of chaos in Syria.

While still defending her vote on Iraq, Hillary made the case for arming the anti-Assad opposition in Syria. “In a conflict like this,” she said, “the hard men with the guns are going to be the more likely actors in any political transition than those on the outside just talking.”

In 2012, the CIA initiated a one billion dollar arm-and-equip operation to fund the so-called “moderate rebels” united under the banner of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). A classified Defense Intelligence Agency memo distributed across Obama administration channels in August of that year warned that jihadist forces emanating from Iraq aimed to exploit the security vacuum opened up by the US-backed proxy war to establish a “Salafist principality in eastern Syria” — an “Islamic State,” in the exact words of the memo.  

Referring to Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia’s Syrian affiliate by its name, Jabhat al-Nusra, before Western media ever had, the DIA emphasized the close ties the group had fostered with Syria’s “moderate rebels”: “AQI supported the Syrian opposition from the beginning, both ideologically and through the media. AQI declared its opposition to Assad’s regime from the beginning because it considered it a sectarian regime targeting Sunnis.”

The memo was authored under the watch of then-Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, who was convicted this year of failing to register as a foreign agent of Turkey — an extremely ironic development considering Turkey’s role in fueling the Syrian insurgency. Predictably, the document was ignored across the board by the Obama administration. Meanwhile, heavy weapons were flowing out of the U.S. Incirlik air base in Turkey and into the hands of anyone who could grab them across the Syrian border.

As early as February 2013, a United Nations independent inquiry report concluded, “The FSA has remained a brand name only.” The UN further issued a damning assessment of the role of the United States, UK and their Gulf allies in fueling extremism across Syria. “The intervention of external sponsors has contributed to the radicalization of the insurgency as it has favoured Salafi armed groups such as the al-Nusra Front, and even encouraged mainstream insurgents to join them owing to their superior logistical and operational capabilities,” the report stated.

US Arms, ISIS Caliphate

How ISIS overran large swaths of territory in northeastern Syria and established its de facto capital Raqqa is scarcely understood, let alone discussed by Western media. That is partly because the real story is so inconvenient to the established narrative of the Syrian conflict, which blames Assad for every atrocity that has ever occurred in his country, and for some horrors that may not have ever taken place. Echoing the Bush administration’s discredited attempts to link Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda, some neoconservative pundits hatched a conspiracy theory that accused Assad of covertly orchestrating the rise of ISIS in order to curry support from the West. But the documented evidence firmly established the success of ISIS as a byproduct of the semi-covert American program to arm Assad’s supposedly moderate opposition.

Opposition activists fly flag of the US-backed Free Syrian Army with ISIS flag in center of Raqqa, Dec. 2013.  (Raqqa Media Center)

Back in March 2013, a coalition of Syrian rebel forces representing the CIA-backed FSA, the Turkish and Qatari proxy, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Al Qaeda affiliate, al-Nusra, overwhelmed the Syrian army in Raqqa. Opposition activists declared the city the “icon of the revolution” and celebrated in Raqqa’s town center, waving the tricolor flags of the FSA alongside the black banners of ISIS and al-Nusra, which set up its headquarters in the city’s town hall.

But disorder quickly spread throughout the city as its residents attempted to order their affairs through local councils. Meanwhile, the US-backed FSA had ceded the city to al-Nusra, taking the fight to the front lines against government forces further afield. The chaos stirred by the insurgents and their foreign backers had created the perfect petri dish for jihadism to fester.

A month after Raqqa was taken, the Iraqi zealot and ISIS commander Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi revealed that al-Nusra had been a Trojan horse for his organization, referring to its commander, Mohammed Jolani, as “our son.” Jolani, in turn, admitted that he had entered Syria from Iraq as a soldier of the Islamic State, declaring, “We accompanied the jihad in Iraq as military escorts from its beginning until our return [to Syria] after the Syrian revolution.”

By August, Baghdadi completed his coup, announcing control over the city. According to the anti-Assad website, Syria Untold, the U.S.-backed FSA had “balked in the face of ISIS and avoided any military confrontation with it.” Many of its fighters quickly jumped ship to either the Islamic State or al-Nusra.

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“The [FSA] battalions are scared to become the weakest link, that they will be swallowed by ISIS,” a media activist named Ahmed al-Asmeh told the journalist Alison Meuse. “A number joined ISIS, and those who were with the people joined Jabhat al-Nusra.”

Backing “Territorial ISIS”

As the insurgency advanced towards Syria’s coast, leaving piles of corpses in its wake and propelling a refugee crisis of unprecedented proportions, the U.S. stepped up its arm-and-equip program. By 2015, the CIA was pouring anti-tank missiles into the ranks of Nourredine Al-Zinki, an extremist militia that eventually forged a coalition with bands of fanatics that made no attempt to disguise their ideology. Among the new opposition umbrella group was one outfit called, “The Bin Laden Front.”

Despite all its war on terror bluster, the U.S. was treating ISIS as an asset in its bid to topple Assad. Then Secretary of State Kerry copped to the strategy in a leaked private meeting with Syrian opposition activists in Sept. 2016: “We were watching,” Kerry revealed. “We saw that Daesh [ISIS] was growing in strength and we thought Assad was threatened. We thought, however, we could probably manage, you know, that Assad might negotiate and instead of negotiating, you got Assad, ah, you got Putin supporting him.”

When Russia directly intervened in Syria in 2015, the Obama administration’s most outspoken interventionists railed against its campaign to roll back the presence of Al Qaeda and its allies, comparing it to the Rwandan genocide. These same officials were curiously quiet, however, when Russia combined forces with the Syrian military to drive ISIS from the city of Palmyra, to save the home of the world’s most treasured antiquities from destruction.

At a March 24, 2016, press briefing, a reporter asked U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner, “Do you want to see the [Syrian] regime retake Palmyra, or would you prefer that it stays in Daesh’s [ISIS] hands?”

Toner strung together empty platitudes for a full minute.

“You’re not answering my question,” the reporter protested.

Toner emitted a nervous laugh and conceded, “I know I’m not.”

About a year later, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman openly called for the U.S. to use ISIS as a strategic tool, reiterating the cynical logic for the strategy that was already in place. “We could simply back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria and make it entirely a problem for Iran, Russia, Hezbollah and Assad,” Friedman proposed. “After all, they’re the ones overextended in Syria, not us. Make them fight a two-front war—the moderate rebels on one side and ISIS on the other.”

Giving ISIS ‘Breathing Space’

Palmyra saved twice from ISIS. (Wikimedia Commons)

When the U.S. finally decided to make a move against ISIS in 2017, it was gripped with anxiety about the Syrian government restoring control over the oil-rich areas ISIS controlled across the northeast.

With help from Russia, and against opposition from the U.S., Syria had already liberated the city of Deir Ezzor from a years-long siege by the Islamic State. Fearing that ISIS-occupied Raqqa could be next to be returned to government hands, the U.S. unleashed a brutal bombing campaign while its allies in the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (a rebranded offshoot of the People’s Protection Units or YPG) assaulted the city by ground.

The U.S.-led campaign reduced much of Raqqa to rubble. In contrast to Aleppo, where rebuilding was underway and refugees were returning, Raqqa and outlying towns under U.S. control were cut off from basic government services and plunged into darkness.

The U.S. proceeded to occupy the city and its outlying areas, insisting that the Syrian government and its allies were too weak to prevent the resurgence of ISIS on their own. But almost as soon as U.S. boots hit the ground, ISIS began to gather strength. In fact, a report this August by the UN Security Council’s Sanctions Monitoring Team found that in areas under direct American control, ISIS had suddenly found “breathing space to prepare for the next phase of its evolution into a global covert network.”

This October, when Iran launched missile strikes against ISIS, nearly killing the ISIS emir, Baghdadi, the Pentagon complained that the missiles had struck only three kilometers from U.S. positions. The protest raised uncomfortable questions about what the top honchos of the Islamic State were doing in such close proximity to the American military, and why the U.S. was unwilling to do what Iran just had done and attack them. No answers from the Pentagon have arrived so far.

Target: Iran

With the appointment this August of James Jeffrey, a self-described “Never Trumper” from the pro-Israel Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as Trump’s special representative for Syria engagement, it became clear that the mission to eradicate ISIS was of secondary importance. In testimony before Congress this December, Jeffrey laid out an agenda that focused heavily on what he called “Iran’s malign influence in the region,” “countering Iran in Syria,” and “remov[ing] all Iranian-commanded forces and proxy forces from the entirety of Syria.” In all, Jeffrey made 30 mentions of Iran, all of them hostile, while referring only 23 times to ISIS. It was clear he had regime change in Tehran on the brain.

Trump, for his part, had been mulling a removal of U.S. forces from northern Syria since at least last Spring, when he put forward a vision for an all-Arab military force funded by Saudi Arabia to replace them. But when Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was sawed apart inside his country’s embassy in Istanbul this October, Trump’s plan went to pieces as well. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan exploited the Khashoggi saga to perfection, helping to transform Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed Bin Salman from the darling of America’s elite into persona non grata in Washington. As a result, he arranged a front line position for Turkey in the wake of any U.S. withdrawal.

There are now real reasons to fear that a Turkish advance will ignite a resurgence of ISIS. Turkey was not only a source of aid and oil sales to the jihadist group, it currently oversees a mercenary force of Salafi militiamen that includes droves of former Islamic State fighters. If the Turkish onslaught proves destabilizing, Iran and its allied Shia militias could ramp up their deployment in Syria, which would trigger a harsh reaction from Israel and its Beltway cut-outs.

Then again, the Kurdish YPG is in high level negotiations with Damascus and may team up with the Syrian military to fill the void. From an anti-ISIS standpoint, this is clearly the best option. It is  therefore the least popular one in Washington.

Whatever happens in Syria, those who presided over U.S. policy towards the country over the past seven years are in no position to criticize. They set the stage for the entire crisis, propelling the rise of ISIS in a bid to decapitate another insufficiently pliant state. And though they may never face the accountability they deserve, the impending withdrawal of American troops is a long overdue and richly satisfying rebuke.

Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of books including best-selling Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the PartyGoliath: Life and Loathing in Greater IsraelThe Fifty One Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, and the forthcoming The Management of Savagery, which will be published by Verso. He has also produced numerous print articles for an array of publications, many video reports and several documentaries including Je Ne Suis Pas Charlie and the newly released Killing Gaza. Blumenthal founded the GrayzoneProject.com in 2015 and serves as its editor.

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91 comments for “Critics of Syria Withdrawal Fueled Rise of ISIS

  1. January 1, 2019 at 19:09

    Max, you kind of have a large blind spot in this Syria strategy. I wrote about it in 2015, and it’s the same today.

    http://intpolicydigest.org/2015/11/29/why-isis-exists-the-double-game/

    Oil wells have addresses.

    Yet, they are still functioning, while the US Air Force has controlled the skies above them for half a decade.

    Does that really need further embellishing?

  2. Skip Scott
    December 30, 2018 at 16:41

    Wow! I very rarely bat 1000 in the moderation game. Today is a special day.

  3. Pulsa Denura
    December 30, 2018 at 07:34

    This writer, like Consortium News in general, has no grip on what the Syria conflict is about- nor why it began. Because most of the writers are jewish- like this one- they wont touch the real reason for all of the last 2 decades of war in the M.E.
    ISRAEL.
    One exception is an Army War College vet who laid it out. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BjJFHZ10C5I
    Syrian invasion is just a jewish neocon continuation of the 911 World Trade Center attacks, which justified demolishing “7 countries in 5 years”. Starting w/ Iraq. the FIRST “Arab Spring” was in 2005 and was quickly shut down due to its embarrassing failure as the “democracy domino” debacle devolved into beheadings, car bombs and disaster.
    Wake up Consortium and do some REAL journalism

    • John
      December 31, 2018 at 09:12

      If you think Max Blumenthal is , in any way, pro-Israel, then you really have shown you are so blinded by your anti-Semitism that you have lost all touch with reality.

    • December 31, 2018 at 12:36

      Pulsa Denura,

      The good men and women of the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, joined with millions of rock-solid supporters of truth and justice around the Earth, are historically positioned in 2019 to profoundly transform the world for the better.

      Peace.

  4. David F., N.A.
    December 30, 2018 at 00:38

    Another informative article by Blumenthal.

    Maybe the Qatar government-owned al Jazeera could fuel/steer Arab Spring 2019 in order to camouflage another U.S. attempt at Assad (and other expendable leaders).

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/al-jazeera-criticized-for-lack-of-independence-after-arab-spring-a-883343.html

    https://foreignpolicy.com/2013/05/03/how-syria-ruined-the-arab-spring/

    Al Jazeera, RT, BBC, NBC, Fox, Telemundo… Using fear and wedge issues to steer the block, city, state, nation, globe.

  5. Taras 77
    December 29, 2018 at 22:26

    https://www.globalresearch.ca/obama-isis-and-the-muslim-brotherhood-the-psd-11-secret-blueprint-to-implement-regime-change-across-middle-east/5663991

    Obama and his harpies ranks high on the list for those who fostered the growth of ISIS and still these people are walking around. Engdahl has done a lot of work on huma’s muslim brotherhood connections and probably valerie jarrett-both were well positioned to push the narrative for regime change in the ME. Tragic that all of these harpies are still walking around.

  6. Eddie
    December 29, 2018 at 22:13

    Several of the commenters below have expressed hopes for a ‘war crimes trial’ (ie; similar to Nuremberg’s after WWII) that would try and imprison (or worse) the surviving warlords in this country. I 100% support that sentiment for imprisonment, and feel that it would be the NECESSARY thing for an ethical & moral society to do (leaving aside the obvious question of how such individuals would ever arise in an ethical & moral society). That being said, I also believe it is about as likely to-happen as Jesus (or whichever god-like character you choose) or space-aliens (ala’ “The Day The Earth Stood Still”) intervening in our global politics and ‘setting things straight’ — virtually 0% likelihood.

    The reasons I don’t believe that this will happen (or, at-best for at least for 100’s or 1000’s of years, if-ever) are:
    1.) I know of NO country that has ever done that to its OWN military leaders who were NOT killing DOMESTIC citizens. People are
    fine with persecuting leaders of OTHER countries who did evil deeds, but I know of no example where they did-so when their own
    leaders killed people in FOREIGN countries. Even the ‘truth commissions’ that were setup in some Central & South American
    countries after their despotic military governments lost power were in response to domestic crimes, not international ones.
    2.) The US won’t even join the ICC and, since 1986, won’t accept the UN’s ICJ’s jurisdiction of unless it likes the individual ruling.
    And that’s just fine with the vast majority of the US public, who have little interest in objective application of international
    law. (“U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!!!”)
    3.) The US wouldn’t prosecute leaders like Johnson or Nixon for war crimes even when there was blatant evidence and much
    international condemnation, as well-as 50,000 US deaths. Even individuals like Lt Wm Calley were let-off easy.
    4.) There’s too much of a human ‘us vs them’ ethos, that’s been genetically and culturally encoded in humans. The cave clans
    no-doubt celebrated the top hunter/warrior because he helped the well-being of that clan. The Romans built arches for
    generals who were victorious in international campaigns. Statues commemorating famous battles & generals are commonplace
    throughout the ‘civilized'(?) world. We lionize military figures, and elect them to high positions, even ones like Bob Kerrey who
    admitted to killing ~15 civilians (he says ‘accidentally’, others say intentional orders were given) at Thanh Phong during the
    Vietnam ‘War’.
    5.) Such trials would upset the MIC because money would be lost due to less public support of the military, so of-course it’s a
    non-starter from that sector, which holds a preponderant position in our government.

    I hope I’m wrong, but I have a hard time imagining even a vaguely-realistic scenario where it could happen.

  7. LJ
    December 29, 2018 at 17:29

    Shooting fish in a barrel here .bET YOU NEVER READ THIS ALTHOUGH IT IS COMMON KNOWLEDGE. I was reading analysis and gossip columnsapproximately 6 months before the Arab Spring, from well informed sources, that the USA/Intelligence was planning a coup in Syria and the plot was in the advanced stages and there were boots on the ground. I also remember reading that the USA was creating IS as a pretext to occupy/ send troops/ get into Syria well before Flynn blew the whistle. Of Course, I also remember reading hit pieces coming from former associates that were anti- Flynn long before the FISA warrants were issued to the FBI. I can go further, I remember reading that UK/M6 boots were on the ground in Libya ( mapping) at the same time Tony Blair was rehabilitating Qaddafi and getting two oil fields for BP as part of the deal. Him smiling shaking hands with Qaddafi is a priceless photo. (FrAnce Total was also involved). Now can any of you recall the confidence with which Obama expressed his opinion that Assad would not last a month after he proclaimed that Assad had lost his legitimacy. Soon afterwards there was a bombing of a supposedly secure meeting site that Assad was presumed to attend. This bomb attack killed ASSAD’S BROTHER IN LAW AND BLEW THE LEG OFF OF ASSAD’S YOUNGER BROTHER WHO BARELY SURVIVED. ASSAD’S BROTHER ,THE HEAD OF SYRIA’S MILITARY . SOMEONE ADVISED ASSAD NOT TO ATTEND . PROBABLY IRANIANS OR RUSSIA. LIKE THEY ADVISED SYRIA TO CHANGE THE CODES FOR MILITARY AVIATION clearance from their anti-aircraft defense systems. . DO YOU REMEMBER THE “DEFECTOR’S” PLANE THAT WAS SHOT DOWN in an encroachment INTO SYRIAN AIRSPACE EARLY IN THE TENSION. IF THESE CODES HAD NOT BEEN CHANGE DOUBTLESS THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN AN ATTACK LIKE OCCURRED IN LIBYA in the successful Regime Change there. .Sorry about the typo but what I’m sayin’ is this was planned and going to happen when they were building the meeting room that was destroyed. Probably Turkish Intelligence maybe US/Israel/Saudi collaboration. It was gonna happen and if the lying scum that were the front men in the media were unavailable others would have been enlisted. Peace on it.

  8. Taras 77
    December 29, 2018 at 16:38

    This web site is worth a check now and then-it is the war bugle (WaPo notwithstanding) of the Kagan Klan: rabid neo con warmongers, Robert, his wife nuland (maiden, kiev fame), Fred, his wife kimberley. The family war business is very profitable, huge support from war profiteers, new web site coming in 2019, Robert Perry did a number of articles on this vile family and its business of war!

    http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/
    e.g. http://iswresearch.blogspot.com/2018/12/the-looming-vacuum-in-syria.html

    Also, wikipedia FWIW: (very sparse info, very dated, >info 7-8 yrs old)
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Institute_for_the_Study_of_War

    Note the close relationship with patraeus, afghan war, iraq, syria
    Charitable non-profit 501 (c) (3) org, after all, business of war is charity to small select few.

    • Waldron
      December 30, 2018 at 04:02

      TARAS 77 “business of war…a charity to small select few” Famous last words?

      Our (Sad) Mad Mad Mad (Bad) World sponsored by our guardians; always open for business for a few dollars more

      The return of the Merchants of Death; the day of the locusts? Have gun will travel? Another Century of War?

  9. DC Reade
    December 29, 2018 at 15:11

    Hillary Clinton, from the third presidential debate of 2016- the action starts at 1 hour 18 minutes into the Youtube clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=smkyorC5qwc

    From the transcript: https://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/full-transcript-third-2016-presidential-debate-230063

    Wallace: “Secretary Clinton, you have talked about in the last debate and again today that you would impose a no-fly zone to try to protect the people of Aleppo and to stop the killing there. President Obama has refused to do that because he fears it’s gonna draw us closer and deeper into the conflict. And General Joseph Dunford, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says you want to impose a no-fly zone, chances are you are going to get into a war, his words, with Syria and Russia. So the question I have is first, how do you respond to their concerns? Secondly, if you impose a no-fly zone and a Russian plane violates that, does President Clinton shoot that plane down?”

    Clinton: “Well Chris, first of all, I think a no-fly zone could save lives and hasten the end of the conflict. I am well aware of the really legitimate concerns you have expressed from both the president and the general. This would not be done just on the first day.This would take a lot of negotiation and it would also take making it clear to the Russians and the Syrians that our purpose is to provide safe zones on the ground. We’ve had millions of people leave Syria, and those millions of people inside Syria who’ve been dislocated. So I think we could strike a deal and make it very clear to the Russians and Syrians that this was something that we believe the best interests of the people on the ground in Syria. It would help us in the fight against ISIS…”

    Can anyone inform me as to how Hillary Clinton’s reply provides an answer to the moderator’s question? What is that, anyway?

  10. Abe
    December 29, 2018 at 15:02

    “The US occupation of Syria is only one part of a much larger, decades-long campaign of achieving, maintaining, and expanding US hegemony across North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia – as well as the ultimate goal of encircling and containing both Russia and China […]

    “A genuine withdrawal from the Syrian conflict would signal a seismic shift in US foreign policy and mark an irreversible decline in American hegemony.

    “It is difficult to believe such a seismic shift could happen, and so suddenly.

    “It is also a shift not founded in US foreign policy or fact.

    “There are several key possibilities to consider:
    – A US withdrawal paves way for unilateral Israeli strikes;
    – It also paves the way for an expanded Turkish incursion;
    – US troops won’t be on the ground as targets in the immediate aftermath of any wider conflict Israel or Turkey provokes;
    – US troops can re-enter theater with renewed pretext to fight Damascus directly in defense of allies Israel or Turkey and;
    – US troops can re-enter theater along the better formed and protected front Turkey seeks to create.

    “The above possibilities are drawn not from speculation, but from multiple US policy papers spanning decades.”

    US Withdrawal From Syria Paves Way for Israeli Strikes
    By Tony Cartalucci
    http://landdestroyer.blogspot.com/2018/12/us-withdrawal-from-syria-paves-way-for.html

    • KiwiAntz
      December 30, 2018 at 18:03

      Abe, you might be right with your comments but there’s one thing you haven’t mentioned? It’s also Carte Blanche for the Syrian forces to repel those Israeli attacks or any other attack via the Russian s300 missile defence system, now that the US withdrawal for this Territory will allow Syria to secure its own borders? Russia & it’s policy now of you hit Syria we hit you, tit for tat retaliatory policy has served as a major setback for Israel’s illegal attacks in the region? How many Israeli attacks in Syria has there been since they were given the s300 system? ZERO! And with Israel’s stupidity in shooting down the Russian plane, that has now changed the landscape in which Russia will now, not tolerate any more Israeli attacks on Syria & will launch a corresponding counter attack on Israel in a eye for eye, tooth for tooth response attack ! With the US withdrawal to its bases in Iraq, it will now be a priority by Syria to secure all of it’s Sovereign Territory & borders from foreign invaders & to push ISIS back into Iraq for the much vaunted American forces to deal with? Good luck with that Trump?

    • Taras 77
      December 30, 2018 at 18:27

      Abe:

      Thought you might enjoy this parody:

      https://twitter.com/Bellingdawg

  11. WALDRON
    December 29, 2018 at 11:11

    Everything possible has gone wrong in Syria (too many players) except for Russia and to a lessor extent Iran backing Assad. To say Turkey indirectly supports “militia groups associated with IS” lacks any real credibility in my opinion. Turkey accepts Syria right to back control of its country; Syria never doubted that outcome. The next hurdle rests with Israel if they are willing to further the cause of peace in the Middle East. Difficult but not impossible because many liberal Israelis must be aware Syria has won a great victory against Saudi Arabia. In the final analysis Israel holds the future of the Middle East in its hands especially if the US tired of supporting Saudi Arabia a corrupt country that could easily bankrupt itself. If only…please Israel give peace a chance?

  12. RICHARD A FEIBEL
    December 29, 2018 at 10:38

    THE PROBLEMS MAX ELUDED TO IN SYRIA HAVE ALREADY STARTED. TURKEY HAS SUPPOSEDLY CROSSED OVER INTO SYRIA AND IRAQ HAS SAID ITS SENDING TROOPS TO SYRIA.THE WHOLE SYRIAN CABAL COULD BE A DISTRACTION BY THE US TO KEEP EYES OFF THE BUILD UP TO IRAN.THEY HAVE SENT A CARRIER BACK INTO THE GULF AND IRAN HAS MADE THREATS ABOUT ITS PRESENTS. ISRAEL IS RAISING HELL AGAIN BY BOMBING SYRIAN BASES. I SEE WAR VERY SOON WITH IRAN PERHAPS MARCH 1ST AS IT SEEMS THEY LIKE TO USE MARCH AS A NUMERICAL AGENDA.

    • WALDRON
      December 29, 2018 at 11:22

      Richard A Feibel: With respect your dire prediction of nuclear war between Israel and Iran rates as pure speculation and shocking to suggest such a catastrophic conflict in the making; US in shooting match against Russia by extension. Please understand WW3 “closer than we realize” according to President Putin the man with the largest nuclear arsenal in history. Baseline: Iran is not our mortal enemy.

      • Procopius
        December 30, 2018 at 08:42

        I’m pretty sure you’re mistaken about who has the largest nuclear arsenal. I think the U.S. has more than 3,500 warheads (including “tactical” nukes), while Russia has 1,500. The difference really doesn’t matter, because according to what I’ve read only twenty detonating will be enough to initiate “nuclear winter,” which will probably kill a quarter of the human race. I believe Iran does not have any nuclear weapons, while Israel is reputed to have at least 400. I’m pretty sure if Israel nukes Iran India and Pakistan will attack each other, so civilization will be ended.

  13. mike k
    December 29, 2018 at 09:44

    America is a nation totally dedicated to war. We live in a warfare state. Peace is treated as an enemy. Vicious competition, violence, treachery are our stock in trade. Capitalism – the law of greed and grab – leads to lives of perpetual strife. Our government is simply a huge crime syndicate, a global Mafia. The noble image of America is simply a con game to cover their crimes, and make them appear legitimate to the clueless public. The impressive figures who appear on TV are simply well dressed crime lords and their henchmen. This is the reality, this is the truth of our situation – which most Americans refuse to acknowledge. Most of our populace will go to their graves believing we were the good guys….

    • Alois Mueller
      December 30, 2018 at 09:40

      Simpel truth:
      “To this day, there is no such thing as an independent press in world history. You know it and i know it! There is no one among you who dares to write his honest opinion, and when he does, he knows in advance that it does not appear in print. Every week I get paid to keep my honest opinion out of the newspaper I’m employed by.
      Others of you are similarly paid for similar things, and any one of you so dumb as to write your honest opinion would be on the street right away looking for a new job. If I published my honest opinion in an issue of my newspaper, I would be out of business within 24 hours. It is the business of journalists to destroy the truth, to lie, pervert, slander, lick Mammon’s feet, and sell the land for their daily bread. You know it and I know what madness it is to initiate an independent press.
      We are the tools and vassals of the rich men behind the scene. We are the jumping jacks, they pull the strings and we dance. Our talents, our abilities and our whole life are the property of other people. We are intellectual prostitutes. “

      • KiwiAntz
        December 30, 2018 at 18:14

        Alois, I only have contempt for your comments! Your a sellout whose sold your soul to the Corporate MSM devil but I suppose every man has his price & your been bought & paid off? However there are a lot of journalists who don’t sell out & have the courage to put their conscience, integrity & honesty above financial reward & money? Men such as Robert Parry who couldn’t be bought off, silenced or prevented from publishing the TRUTH? Something that you will never be able to do as in your case you have no decency or conscience?

    • Trigger Warning
      December 30, 2018 at 13:58

      “Capitalism – the law of greed and grab.”

      Rubbish. Capitalism is the production and distribution of goods and services by individuals, co-operatives, or corporations. And it involves far more collusion between entities than it does “vicious competition”.

      War means high taxes, broke customers, closed markets, and stifling regulations. Wall Street suffers just as much as the rest of us.

      You don’t have to like capitalism. But if you’re going to blame capitalism for internationalist foreign policy and other government excesses, you’ll facts, figures, and evidence. Emotionally-driven rhetoric is not enough.

  14. Alois Mueller
    December 29, 2018 at 08:31

    “What are the elements of the automatized management of the Syrian air space that prevent the Israelis and Americans from acting? Syria has received 6 to 8 S-300/PMU2 missiles, with an action range of 250 km. The missiles guarantee the security of planes and Syrian military land targets. However, they are not the most important element.

    Management is assured by the automatized management system, Polyana D4M1. The role of the automatized management system is a necessary interface for the Syrian air units and anti-Air Defense apparatus to work at the same time. Polyana D4M1 can cover an area of 800 km2, following 500 air targets and ballistic missiles and establishing 250 of them. It is thanks to the Polyana D4M1 that command centres of the army of the Syrian Air Force also receive external information from the Russian airplane A-50U (AWACS) and Russian satellites of surveillance.”
    Full story: http://www.voltairenet.org/article204433.html

  15. Taras 77
    December 28, 2018 at 21:41

    Thanks, Max-solid article;

    It continues to be shameful that the country fails to recognize and take action on the criminal behavior of these vile zio cons but we can thank the massive silence and coverups by the msm for this continuing shame before the world.

    Zio cons themselves do not comprehend the concept of shame and continue on in their despicable behavior and lies.

    • Waldron
      December 29, 2018 at 07:11

      No mention in the British press about the impending withdrawal of British forces now in Syria after the US pulls out to reestablish Syrian borders. No mention of Russia and Iran supporting Assad. France to withdraw their forces in Syria? Fair to say Israel not happy with US withdrawal. Our world addicted to world war: more guns less butter? We should thank President TRUMP for over-ruling his high-spending Generals promoting impossible missions; foolish foreign adventures? One trillion dollars spent for each war in IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN somewhat expensive (in the long run) for any military empire living on instant credit? Rome fell for the same reason.

  16. Jeff Harrison
    December 28, 2018 at 20:45

    Here’s the real problem. (1) The US is totally incompetent at managing vassal states. It only knows threats and coercion and those don’t work on nation states who know you’ve already got your hands full. There will be serious blowback from our European vassal states over our indiscriminate use of sanctions, extraterritorial application of US law (the Europeans should have been paying attention when we embargoed Cuba), and our interference with their sovereign decisions. That will cost the US the dollar’s primacy as a reserve currency and will cost us the petrodollar which we’ve made a fortune on over the decades and it may cost us access to the European banking system. It’s gotta be embarrassing to have the US Treasury secretary tell the EU who they may and may not do business with. (2) The US is totally incompetent at managing an empire. The US thinks that cooperation is everybody doing what we say. We also don’t recognize that other countries have agendae of their own that they have no intention of giving up just because we tell them to knock that shit off. The Roman empire worked so well because Rome didn’t try to make everybody be little Romes. And, finally, (3) the US is just incompetent. We were going to show those Ruskies how it’s done when we invaded Afghanistan. And we’ve been showin’ them for the last 17 years. Iraq is going to be a cake walk, just ask Rummy. And, in a sense, he was right. Defeating the Iraqi military was, relatively speaking, a piece of cake. But we were going to Nation Build®! Nobody noticed that, just because they hated Saddam Hussein, didn’t mean that they had warm feelings about the US (we’re making this same mistake with Iran). The Iraqi’s have such warm feelings for the US that they said that Trump’s arrival violated their sovereignty (since he landed at a US military base, I doubt that the Iraqi’s were told that he was coming) and they want us out. I think that all of America’s failures across North Africa and the greater Middle East are fairly well known everywhere except Washington.

    This house of cards where the US never gets it right and we just piss people off isn’t going to last forever.

    • Gregory Herr
      December 28, 2018 at 23:36

      Saddam gained power with help from the usual suspects. He was used against Iran and happened to be supplied necessary precursors for chemical weapons which were used against Iranians with not a peep of protest from Sam. But then he outlived his usefulness. We know the history of the Gulf War, of the criminal devastation of civilian infrastructure and other atrocities. Sanctions produced brutal effects for an already war-strifed population.

      I share your scoff at the notion of the intention of “nation-building”. In the context of 2003 and beyond, it is definitely an Orwellian phrase for the opposite reality. Because the intentions fairly match the reality.

      If we had truly brought help in 2003, despite earlier transgressions, it would have been received. But it was a brutal takeover and occupation. Bremer privatised everything in sight and work was contracted to foreigners. All servicemen were discharged and left without paychecks. There was much neglect in building or rebuilding the medical sector and other basic needs such as power and sanitation. The story unfolds even much more harshly, but I don’t want to recount the horror here.

      No, they make their blood money and got on with their game of exploitation and domination.

      What they did to Iraq wasn’t a “mistake” –at least not in the sense of trying to get something right but being “mistaken” in some way of going about it. It’s like when Vietnam is excused as a mistake. The CIA and Pentagon wanted that war for money, exploitation, and domination.

    • Zhu
      December 29, 2018 at 01:25

      Let’s not our failures in SE Asia, Central Ameri a, etc, etc.

    • Brad Owen
      December 29, 2018 at 08:55

      You present a perfect case of projection. Of course America is an incompetent imperial master of “vassal states” of old Europe…we declared our independence from Empire games over 200 years ago, and have never been forgiven for by that black-hearted land of Empires; EUROPE. It’s those same damnable bloodlines that covertly controls and manipulates the hearts and minds of Europe, the thirteen, the black nobility, and all that. The European empires have all just been reprises of the Roman Empire, and the British Empire was tasked (by those royal bloodlines throughout Europe) with recovering their rogue, break-away colony USA and make it soldier on for THEIR global Empire…mission accomplished, starting upon FDRs death, when the Dulles bros started bringing in agents of the Order of the Black Sun (hence the reversed swastika, an ancient solar symbol, which, when reversed, makes a black sun or black hole sun, the opposite of Light…a hellish evil) to set up the DS, and the long process of undermining USA, putting it through wars of attrition to sap its strength, pursue “free trade” to destroy its industrial base, giving it to China which is run like a giant Company Town with top-down authority, no questions allowed (the preferred managerial method of the thirteen bloodlines, for THEIR global Empire). Moves are now being made to disentangle from this strait jacket of global Empire and resume sovereign status of a national Republic…The Movement that Steve Bannon so accurately describes in his 30 minute speech to “Black Americans for a Better Future”, translated into “Europeanese” as “Yellow Vest”. Trump and The Movement are calling a halt to globalism, which IS the Empire of the thirteen bloodlines and their sick secret society shenanigans, their evil “Black Magic” rituals, and their general depredations upon humanity, which THEY regard as their private livestock to be preyed upon at their pleasure. THAT is the reason for those 60+ thousand sealed indictments, and the re-deployment of military forces back to the homeland. We are not going to soldier for the Empire of the thirteen bloodlines anymore. We’re coming after THEM, starting with their agents over here in America. “Don’t Tread On Me” is still operative over here

    • Realist
      December 29, 2018 at 23:08

      By now, what you say so concisely should be clear to all who have eyes with which to see and a brain with which to think, but most Americans remain willfully obtuse. Thanks for trying to enlighten our thoroughly propagandized zombies before it’s too late. Reality does have a way of eventually catching up to everyone, and our day is coming. Still, don’t be surprised when the crumbling empire tries to blame the coming deluge all on the Russians even in its dying breath because to admit the truth would be to accept responsibility which are virtues now extinct amongst the leadership of this country.

  17. December 28, 2018 at 20:01

    One of the game’s biggest mysteries is specifically why why Phoenix lost his
    badge. Everything WAS fine, until I accidentally ejected the
    AR when it was updating. Unfortunately there really isn’t plenty to go
    on yet. http://www.bshpnr.com/comment/html/?83034.html

    • jose
      December 28, 2018 at 21:38

      I reckon so.

  18. December 28, 2018 at 17:56

    It is very disturbing to see no commentary whatsoever coming from Donald Trump, Theresa May, Benjamin Netanyahu, John Bolton, Mike Pompeo, Nikki Haley, Heather Nauert, etc. in response to the December 20 United Nations meeting which compiled the horrendous crimes of the so-called White Helmets. Will the White Helmets become forced to return the Oscar received after winning “Best Documentary” at the Academy Awards?

    http://webtv.un.org/search/roundtable-discussion-on-the-middle-east-issues-activities-of-the-white-helmets-organization-in-syria/5982221816001/?term=&lan=english&page=2

    • December 28, 2018 at 18:30

      You must be kidding?

      The Oscar was supplied by the same folks who hold a gala dinner every year and turn millions over to the murderous IDF.

      And I suspect the same folks who supplied make-up and video training.

      The war is essentially an Israeli project.

      Sharon was advocating for it with George Bush years ago.

      • kiers
        December 28, 2018 at 23:07

        ….last i checked, Gen Petraeus wasn’t “Israeli”.

        • Zhu
          December 29, 2018 at 01:30

          Yep. No one talks about Christian Zionists, either, or their desire to use Israel to end the world.

      • Trigger Warning
        December 30, 2018 at 14:29

        Does it even matter who wins which Oscar this year? Does anyone care? Can you think of anything any American celebrity has done in the past year that warrants an award?

        Here’s a hot tip for you all: America’s propaganda-entertainment (what the layman would call “Hollywood”) is barely relevant outside of California. The world sees Hollywood for what it is: the propaganda wing of Hilary Clinton’s Democrat party.

    • jose
      December 28, 2018 at 21:39

      I don’t think the white helmets will return that “ill gotten Oscar” any time soon.

  19. Gregory Herr
    December 28, 2018 at 17:36

    How did you get here John Kerry? A Vietnam Veteran Against the War becomes a de facto apologist for the infliction of terrorism upon a peaceable civilian population for rank geopolitical aims. Go get your medals back–they become you.

    • Skip Scott
      December 28, 2018 at 17:48

      Amen Gregory. I can’t believe it’s the same person who sat before congress and said “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” I wonder how he sleeps at night.

      • David G
        December 28, 2018 at 22:05

        I’m not going to do the whole exegesis here, but the more I look at that unavoidable quotation of Kerry’s, the less substance I find in it.

        Which would fit in well with Kerry’s alleged anti-war stance: easy, measured, and politically advantageous at the time. His whole preceding and subsequent life betray a much deeper comfort with U.S. militarism.

    • December 28, 2018 at 18:38

      I understand that he did get them back not long after his showy protest.

      The guy has always been a privileged-family phony.

      He went to Vietnam for a short stint to earn “creds” for running for office later.

      By the way, he got the Silver Star, this “Senator’s son,” for shooting a man in the back.

      A really ethically-impoverished human being.

      America has so few national politicians worth talking about.

      • Zhu
        December 29, 2018 at 01:32

        Worth talking about as psychopaths.

    • Abby Bailey
      December 28, 2018 at 22:30

      I’d like to know the answer to your question too. But I would extend it to people who can sit by and watch what they have created murder millions of innocent civilians?

      To most people Obama is the charming husband and father who just happens to be responsible for many heinous civilian deaths. Plus we just witnessed the glorification of McCain and Bush who were notorious war criminals who should have died in prison instead. But hopefully one day there will be another Nuremberg trial for the leaders of the USA who have committed the same crimes that they hanged others for. Or brought up on treason charges.

  20. Joe
    December 28, 2018 at 17:13

    Max the great …….ever gonna see him on CNN MSNBC or published in the JYT or WoPo? Don’t think so unfortunately. Americans love their ignorance….will kill you to protect it.

  21. December 28, 2018 at 16:19

    Why should Khashoggi’s untidy departure necessarily scotch the Trump plans for an all-Arab force? The “mad prince’s” pr rehab is well underway, and given another few weeks the unfortunate Mr. Khashoggi will be forgotten by all save his Washington Post colleagues.

    The US role in the genesis of IS in Iraq, presumably to counter the Shia majority there, (and further vex Iran) I believe is worth including in the Syria narrative too.

  22. Dunderhead
    December 28, 2018 at 15:36

    Great article as usual from Max, definitely could’ve been a little shorter but summing up has never been part of the lefty playbook however I definitely appreciate the quality journalism. As far as the Washington Beltway goes in regards to the Eastern consensus, one has to wonder at one point these clowns get the clue that their fannies would definitely be in the fire if things were to go terribly wrong which would be likely had we were to stay in Syria and into an open confrontation with Iran. A couple of points just not touched upon in this article, the US Army is broken and to a large degree even those who are dedicated to the service no longer believes in the mission especially in the Middle East and Afghanistan, secondly I don’t Think be has completely registered yet but the giant right turn that the country took over the last 2 1/2 years is in the process of a rebalancing, i.e. The folks of a more democratic persuasion are going to be looking for representatives back in standby the anti-war policies they have campaign on. Lastly the inroads the antiwar right have made in bringing round the evangelical war wing of the Republican Party are striking, these folks will be the sleepers, if this trend continues it will be a new paradigm in American politics.

    • Zhu
      December 29, 2018 at 01:38

      Are Evangelicals losing faith in the Rapture?

  23. mike k
    December 28, 2018 at 15:21

    Failures of military adventures are always blamed on inadequate support for the military. Doubling down on funds and forces is recommended as the battle becomes more hopeless. The inevitable defeat is then blamed on those unwilling to spend our last dollar and human life on the failed enterprise.

    • Rob
      December 29, 2018 at 11:49

      It’s typically referred to by the war lovers as “the stab in the back.”

  24. Brian James
    December 28, 2018 at 15:01

    Banksters propaganda if I have ever heard it which we have since central Banksters and Banking was established and excepted.

    Nov 20, 2015 The One Thing You Need to Know About ISIS ‘America please wake up’!

    https://youtu.be/vkxFT_hJCdQ

    The full document, released to Judicial Watch via FOIA request, and can be found here

    http://www.judicialwatch.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Pg.-291-Pgs.-287-293-JW-v-DOD-and-State-14-812-DOD-Release-2015-04-10-final-version11.pdf?

  25. December 28, 2018 at 13:45

    Excellent historical summation of our completely amoral foreign policy toward Syria and the spawn of satan crew that created and supported it. Good to see Max’s work here. If you haven’t checked out his (gray zone project) it is worth putting on your reading list.

    https://grayzoneproject.com/2018/12/25/senate-report-on-russian-interference-was-written-by-disinformation-warriors-behind-alabama-false-flag-operation/

  26. December 28, 2018 at 13:33

    Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way… stop participating in it.

    Continued US Occupation of the Middle East Does Not Suppress Terrorism, It Causes It

  27. C arl Osgood
    December 28, 2018 at 13:27

    Great article. I would add that ISIS was actually born in Camp Bucca, the US army prison in Iraq where Baghdadi was actually an inmate for a time. Conditions there were perfect for incubating such nihilistic radicalism.

  28. Rob
    December 28, 2018 at 13:17

    As usual, we have a great summary and analysis from Max. The NYT has a piece about how people on both the U.S. left and right are apoplectic about the possible withdrawal of American troops from Syria. This is a perfect example of how the political elite and Big Media narrow the range of acceptable discourse. If the authors of the piece had bothered to look beyond their self-imposed horizon, they would have found many leftists and rightists who want the U.S. to disengage from the destructive and immoral wars that it has been sponsoring and that the Times has been promoting. Keep up the good work, Max, in exposing these A-holes.

  29. December 28, 2018 at 13:00

    A richly informative perspective on the current removal of troops debate and one that should shame the critics who created the need for the difficult decision.

  30. Mario
    December 28, 2018 at 12:51

    Every time I read or hear about ISIS, AlQaeda, the Islamic Caliphate … and so on, I keep wondering where is that so called leader, AlBaghdadi? Why is he is still alive? Why don’t we hear about him more often in the news? Why isn’t the US military, Pentagon,Trump talking about him & going after him? I remember seeing the late John MCCain’s photos in Syria and AlBaghdadi in the same room. I just wonder why isn’t the MSM echoing the whereabouts of this terrorist leader?

    • Seamus Padraig
      December 28, 2018 at 16:45

      Kind of like how we went for years (2005-2011) without hearing a word about Osama bin Laden, until he was supposedly killed by Navy SEALS, isn’t it? Funny how that happens. One could almost get the impression that the bin Ladens and Bagdhadis of this world are little more than useful sock-puppets that are picked up and dropped by Washington at will.

  31. December 28, 2018 at 12:43

    The question is:

    “Will The War Criminals Be Brought To Justice in 2019? Or Is Justice Dead and Buried”?

    It has been said that: “The wheels of justice turn slowly…” but based on the evidence available the “justice” wagon appears to have been deliberately crashed, and it is dead and buried by war criminals in positions of power. These people (are they really people?) are getting away with murdering millions of people in a number of countries. Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen and other countries too are suffering from the depredations and illegal wars planned by them….
    [read more at link below]
    http://graysinfo.blogspot.com/2018/12/will-war-criminals-be-brought-to.html

    • Realist
      December 29, 2018 at 23:31

      Such justified action will simply not happen until the consequences of all the mass murder, maiming, migration and devastation are brought home to their point of origin–the United States. Only when the American people suffer in some meaningful way from the actions they either encouraged, condoned, willfully ignored or carelessly missed will they demand that the political, military and financial charlatans who led them down the garden path be declared guilty and held accountable by all of humanity. I’m afraid that means some sort of collapse, coup, rebellion or revolution must come before any justice is meted out. Seems to be the general sequence of events everywhere such a reset has happened in history. “Ad astra” is always preceded by “per aspera.”

  32. exiled off mainstreet
    December 28, 2018 at 12:13

    This commentary effectively and accurately documents the yankee role of propping up barbarians to achieve its aims. Blumenthal, who personally knows many of and knows the reputations and records of all of those who carried out this policy, should, based on his inside knowledge, be believed more than anybody else in this. The element of the yankee regime backing this policy are not only war criminals but in backing these policies have committed crimes against civilization itself.

  33. Charles Totten
    December 28, 2018 at 11:32

    Obama fired Flynn because he wouldn’t shut up about the dangers of arming terrorists to overthrow Assad. Just one of the revelations contained in this three year old article by Seymour Hersh, since buried under mountains of propaganda. https://www.lrb.co.uk/v38/n01/seymour-m-hersh/military-to-military
    Hersh has had to resort to foreign publishers to get the story out. Thanks to Consortium News and Max Blumenthal for keeping the truth alive here.

    • Seamus Padraig
      December 28, 2018 at 16:49

      Thanks for that link, Charles. It explains a lot about why the establishment so hated Flynn.

  34. HARRY M HAYS
    December 28, 2018 at 09:55

    “At a March 24, 2016, press briefing, a reporter asked U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner, “Do you want to see the [Syrian] regime retake Palmyra, or would you prefer that it stays in Daesh’s [ISIS] hands?””

    Nowhere in the video clip that you link to does this exchange take place, nor does Mr. Toner admit that he is not answering the question, leading one to wonder if you are practicing the same misleading, propagandistic tactics that we have come to expect from the mainstream media.

    As a matter of fact, Toner states, in response to a question asking if defeating Daesh is a good thing no matter who does it, that, although it is kind of a “lesser of two evils thing, “defeating Daesh is our overarching goal, ” and that, “if it is the Syrians army doing it, it is not a bad thing.” He did not equivocate in any manner, form or fashion.

    Please respond and show us the part of the clip where that exchange took place or admit that you made it up.

    • Gregory Herr
      December 28, 2018 at 17:04

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KHZdOXxjgbY

      Start at the 27:45 mark for the question. At the 30:37 mark, Toner says “I’m not gonna lie” prepping himself for the whoppers to come. The part about “liberating Mosul” is a real gem–carpet bombing for freedom! Frankly, the b.s. got so thickly sickening by the 36:00 mark, I couldn’t take another word–but I’d say it’s a safe bet that in the remaining 7 minutes Toner didn’t answer the original question.

      • Skip Scott
        December 28, 2018 at 18:06

        Thanks Gregory. It is nauseating to listen this guy. The “tyranny of Assad” is a prime example. The election of 2014 had Assad chosen by 88% with over 70% turnout, including Syrians voting from abroad voting through their embassies. The west hates Assad because he is a nationalist leader who enjoys the support of his citizenry. Although Assad is an Alawi, his army is majority Sunni, and they don’t want their country to become the next Iraq. Syrians are Syrians first, despite Washington’s best efforts.

        • Gregory Herr
          December 28, 2018 at 18:21

          When Toner referred to the “tyranny of Assad,” a sharp reporter might have interrupted and said, “leaving aside the question of whether or not Assad is a tyrant, can you tell us if the tyrannies of the Shah or Pinochet, or Suharto (for examples) were ‘preferable’?”

        • Gregory Herr
          December 29, 2018 at 16:42

          Skip, I think you’ll appreciate this interview with Mark Taliano. His book “Voices from Syria” is one I recommend.

          https://www.tasnimnews.com/en/news/2018/12/26/1908568/trump-may-be-seeking-a-win-win-outcome-in-syria-canadian-author

          • Skip Scott
            December 30, 2018 at 16:40

            Thanks Gregory-

            Really good interview. It is a shame that so many people never hear the truth.

  35. KiwiAntz
    December 28, 2018 at 06:29

    The Terrorist Organization called ISIS is a American creation, born out of Muslim outrage & the animosity generated by the USA’s illegal, murderous & immoral War, waged against Iraq! A Country that had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks! Trump’s removal of US forces from Syria & the Middle East is the best way to stop Terrorism? If your not meddling in those Countries, there would be no need for Terrorism to exist as the have an excuse to fight against a foreign invader wouldn’t be there! Sounds like a simplistic solution but the best way to stop creating more Terrorists is simply to stop using Terror to impose your will on others!

    • Eddie
      December 29, 2018 at 13:31

      But…how would doing that help to funnel even MORE money into arms sales and support-of Neo-con militarism, one of our few remaining domestic industries, and our major international relationship ‘tool’, respectively? (He asked, rhetorically)

  36. Ian Brown
    December 28, 2018 at 05:43

    Really solid and comprehensive article. Thanks, Max!

    I get to thinking abour these anecdotes I sometimes come across, that many people across the ME believe that the US is behind ISIS, or stories of alleged US airdrops of supplies of ammo to ISIS positions. Could be just a bunch of suspicion, rumor, and hearsay, but then these voices could be a more honest report than what we get in Western media. It certainly makes me wonder to what degree the ISIS phenomenon was an unintended outcome of dumping weapons and funding into the region, and what degree it could have been a deliberately armed and supported proxy against Assad.

    • David G
      December 28, 2018 at 16:44

      There’s no evidence that anything I.S. did in Syria ever troubled U.S. decision makers: the U.S. only moved against them militarily after their utter rout of the *Iraqi* army in Mosul in June 2013, when they were on the doorstep of taking Baghdad, a development the U.S. was not going to permit.

      Since I.S. had erased the Iraq/Syria border in the territory they controlled, I.S. success in Iraq necessarily entailed the U.S. at least modifying its pro-Salafist jihadi program in Syria with respect to them.

      Even then, the U.S. didn’t take such an obvious step as bombing oil trucking from I.S.-controlled Syria into Turkey (a vital source of revenue) until the Russians started doing so, and the U.S. clearly had – and consciously passed on – such other easy opportunities to smash I.S. with air power as when they were making a run over open ground to take Palmyra. Add to those examples the others provided by Max Blumenthal above, and we see the U.S. approach to I.S. in Syria never lost its ambivalence, even after they started killing them in large numbers.

      The basic policy of the U.S. in Syria is pro-Salafist jihadi, with no effective bright line excluding I.S. from that support, although eventually the U.S. did bring massive firepower to destroy their capital of Raqqa (at untold cost to civilians).

      Who ever said U.S. foreign policy was free of such self-defeating contradictions?

      Now that so-called “territorial” I.S. has been shattered, expect the distinction between I.S. remnants and other jihadi monsters in U.S. eyes to fade once again, with all being viewed with a general benevolence by Washington – except to the extent Trump is interested in, or capable of, changing the script.

      • Ian Brown
        December 29, 2018 at 00:13

        I really wish I could remember the source (maybe someone else can), a couple of years ago a Senator (Republican, I think) was interviewed on foreign policy and his response was that the US should not act against ISIS in Syria because they were “Assad’s problem” and thus, a good thing. That was pretty revealing, just wish I could remember the interview.

    • Seamus Padraig
      December 28, 2018 at 17:00

      Here’s a good, brief summary of the case for indicting the US in the creation/support of ISIS: https://www.globalresearch.ca/isis-is-a-us-israeli-creation-top-ten-indications/5518627

  37. Hawaii guy
    December 28, 2018 at 01:42

    The US strategy in Syria is, at its core, a mirror of the Contras trained in Honduras to overthrow the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. Thankfully it didn’t work then and now. And I give massive praise to invertigative journalists like Max, Abby Martin, Ms Beeley, Ms Bartlett, Mark Slaboda, Peter Lavell, and of course the late Mr Parry. Also to those who have died while investigating the truth.. Maybe if Syria calms down they and there allies can send there military backing into Palestine and rip down those apartheid walls, evict illegal nazi settlers dressed as zionist jews etc. Palestinians desperately need the middle easts concerted effort to end its illegal occupation.

    • Bob Van Noy
      December 28, 2018 at 10:20

      Of course you’re right Hawaii guy, thanks. All of us conspiracy theorists who started to wonder what the possible motivation for the regime change continuum was all about, beginning at least in 1947, have slowly but surely been dragged into the realization that the broadcast motive for use of force is just propaganda, that the real object of the overthrow of “regime” is total subservience, usually leading to access to natural resources or geopolitical advantage. Most of us found Robert Parry because he was one of the few reporters who was courageous enough to explain what was true. The other reporters you’ve mentioned fit into the same truth to power category as does Max Blumenthal… There is great reporting here.

  38. Stephen Morrell
    December 28, 2018 at 00:35

    Thanks Max, enlightening as usual.

    According to Seymour Hersh the CIA (along with UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar) was smuggling arms out of Libya into Syria for ‘rebels’ from around mid-2012, before the CIA’s enhanced ‘official’ program, Timber Sycamore, was launched in late 2012. Timber Sycamore included training of the ‘rebels’. Google Timber Sycamore for details.

  39. David G
    December 28, 2018 at 00:17

    “Then again, the Kurdish YPG is in high level negotiations with Damascus and may team up with the Syrian military to fill the void. From an anti-ISIS standpoint, this is clearly the best option. It is therefore the least popular one in Washington.”

    It’s been clear for many months that, with U.S. ambitions in Syria in tatters, it would behoove the Kurds – rather than sit around waiting for yet another historic, Western betrayal – to turn the tables and betray the U.S. instead by coming to terms with the Syrian government, i.e. their legitimate defense against Turkey.

    The Kurds would have had a better negotiating position if they had done this before the U.S. signaled it is pulling out, but Damascus-Rojava rapprochement is still in both sides’ interest, and hopefully we’ll see that rather than a jihadi resurgence or a Turkish rampage (or a second coming of U.S. involvement, whether direct or via proxies and mercenaries).

    • Joe
      December 28, 2018 at 17:38

      I agree with this writer that the Kurds must make nice with Assad…..huge mistake since the beginning to abandon Syria in the hopes of a greater Kurdistan.
      However no matter what agreement can be worked out between the Kurds and the Syrian government that I personally think would be for the good …..Turkey, as well as Iran and Iraq, and I believe Syria also, will NEVER allow an independent and autonomous Kurdistan, NEVER. As a visitor and also business and property owner in Turkey for 30 years that is the one unifying factor to those 4 countries where the Kurdish entity touches their four corners. Regardless of imperialistic fantasy’s of the pseudo Sultan Erdogan ( pronounced Air – dough – awn ) or the strength and resolve of the Turkish army , stopping an independent Kurdistan would summon the deployment of the entire non Kurdish portion of the Turkish republic……you can take that to the bank.
      I think that Russia along with Syria will not allow a long term Turkish presence in Syria or any annexation of modern Syria regardless of any historic Turkish claim. I also think that the Turkish Army is no match for the tried and tested Syrian Army…regardless of numbers or technological solicitation. Al-Assad’s people have risen to the occasion and are close to liberating their country. It is to be commended. No question Russia’s presence helped….still give the devil his due. Although I do not think that this young Assad’s government deserves all the nastiness splashed on it by the West’s mainstream. They can never seem to get it right …

    • Joe
      December 28, 2018 at 17:54

      Another point that is seldom discussed and a blight on Erdogan. Why he abandoned Assad in the first place? IMO simply because Assad is not a Sunni. It was a huge blunder on the part of Turkey and clearly shows the deception and back stabbing of Erdogan. Syria is one of the 4 natural enemy’s of any contemplation of an independent Kurdistan and a natural ally in a concerted prevention of that Kurdish fantasy. Erdogan is a two-faced liar and usurper who blew a chance for a more cohesive ME solidarity against all of their common enemy Israel. His stupidity clearly being exploited by Israel.
      Syria tolerated myriad religious diversity ….there was no killing of Christian priest or other now Alawites. Not until the US backed thugs arrived of course. Much of the arms and people contributing to the mayhem were supplied of transited through Turkey when the shooting started. Erdogan raking in billions in the oil transfers until the Russians arrived and put a decided halt to the scam.

      • David G
        December 28, 2018 at 22:15

        “Another point that is seldom discussed and a blight on Erdogan. Why he abandoned Assad in the first place? IMO simply because Assad is not a Sunni. It was a huge blunder on the part of Turkey …”

        I fully agree with that point, Joe. I’ve never come up with a good reason – no matter how cold-blooded or cynical — for Erdogan having joined in the Western destruction of Syria beyond his primitive Sunni chauvinism.

  40. mbob
    December 27, 2018 at 23:45

    Did I misread this article?

    What I thought I read was that Trump is the only adult in the room. He’s the only one who seems even remotely sane. Hillary, Kerry, Flynn, Obama, Friedman and pretty much everyone else here come across as incompetent mendacious psychopaths.

  41. Raymond Blessin
    December 27, 2018 at 23:07

    Thanks Max! Do you wonder if the “Blackwater” mother fuckers are waiting in the wings?

    • Seer
      December 28, 2018 at 04:42

      Blackwater would be road kill, unless they managed to team up with Turkish forces (wouldn’t be surprised if this is in the plans). But even then there’s still the fact that the Syrian army can pretty much be assured of help from the Russians and Iranians, and this help has proven more than effective.

    • AnneR
      December 28, 2018 at 09:30

      That would not surprise, would it? Anything to bog the Russians, Iranians and Syrians down a la the 1980s in Afghanistan. And allow private mercenary companies to make oodles of boodle off the ordinary taxpayer.

      Meanwhile, Chechen fighters (on RT) appear to have arrived in Ukraine to fight the Russians (in eastern Ukraine and from over the border) alongside the not so neo-Nazis of the Kiev regime. According to George Galloway these Chechen fighters have trained with ISIS. Now would it be overly cynical of me to imagine that the CIA et al have a finger or two in this potential pie?

    • Eddie
      December 28, 2018 at 14:11

      Good point. Methinks this entire brouhaha of Trump’s troop removal in the Middle East is simply the first step that will set the stage for privatizing the eternal wars. Big money for the mercenaries while it keeps the lid of silence on the atrocities that will be dished up by these psychopaths.

      Recently, a Blackwater advertisement appeared in select publications stating in in block letters, “We are coming.” Anecdotally, while speaking with a friend whose son recently completed his hitch in the US Army, she said he was being recruited by one of the mercenary companies.

      Just another day of crazy in the Dystopian States of Profit.

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