US Forces Block Syrian Army Advance in Preparation For Syria Partition

A U.S.-backed operation near Raqqa aims to “block any advance by Syrian government forces from the west”. The Balkanization of Syria begins

Global Research, March 27, 2017
Russia Insider 27 March 2017
Syrian-Rebels-US-Army-Training

The road to Raqqa is now blocked by U.S. forces and their allies. The chances that Raqqa (and the surrounding region) will be returned to Syria are now slim to none. Foreign armies and their proxies are sharpening their carving knives.

U.S. Special Forces and Syrian Kurdish and Arab fighters have just captured a “strategic air base” from Islamic State in northern Syria; in doing so, they have also “blocked” the advance of the Syrian Army as it approaches Raqqa from the west:

The Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) announced on Sunday that they captured the Tabqa air base, 45km west of Raqqa, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group’s de facto capital in Syria.

Earlier this week, US forces airlifted SDF fighters behind ISIL lines to allow them to launch the Tabqa assault, and on Friday the alliance reached one of the dam’s entrances.

SDF forces were within 10km of Raqqa from the north, and aimed to effectively surround the city before launching an assault.

But as RFE/RL quietly notes:

Besides recapturing the dam, SDF said the U.S.-backed operation also aimed to block any advance by Syrian government forces from the west.

The landing forces airdropped into Syria seized four small villages in the area west of Tabqa and cut a main highway that links the provinces of Raqqa, Deir al-Zor, and Aleppo, Scrocca said.

The SDF cut the last main road out of Raqqa earlier this month, narrowing in on the city from the north, east, and west.

The only way in or out of Raqqa now is over the Euphrates River that borders the city to the south.

Incredible, isn’t it? A foreign army that is illegally operating in a sovereign nation can just march in and cut off the legitimate army of said sovereign nation from liberating its own city from terrorists.

What a world — and so much for international law.

It will be interesting to see Moscow’s reaction. Was this always part of the “deal” in Syria? Or is Washington hoping that Syria, Iran and Russia will accept Raqqa’s U.S.-ordained fate?

Stay tuned.

Lavrov Calls Out USA/NATO’s Role in Afghanistan Drug Trafficking

Lavrov Calls Out NATO’s Role in Afghan Drug Trafficking

Russia’s Foreign Minister says that NATO tolerates drug trafficking in Afghanistan — which continues to fund extremism in the region

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov always finds the most diplomatic ways to point out Washington’s innumerable international crimes.

During a discussion with Russian military officers last week in Moscow, Lavrov pointed to Afghanistan as an example of Washington’s longstanding policy of “managed chaos” in the Middle East. In the process, he also blew the whistle on NATO’s extremely high tolerance for drug trafficking:

The US operation against the Taliban and al-Qaeda was supported by all countries. It’s another matter that after receiving the international approval, the United States and its NATO allies, which took over in Afghanistan, started acting rather inconsistently, to put it mildly. During their operation in Afghanistan, the terrorist threat has not been rooted out, while the drug threat has increased many times over. The drug industry prospered. There is factual evidence that some of the NATO contingents in Afghanistan turned a blind eye to the illegal drug trafficking, even if they were not directly involved in these criminal schemes. Afghanistan is a separate case, although the current developments there, which are a result of the NATO operation’s failure, despite the carte blanche the bloc received from the international community, can be considered an unintended cause of managed chaos. In Iraq, Syria and Libya, this chaos was created intentionally.

Lavrov is being too gentle.

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As Wired magazine reported back in 2013, current U.S. policy in Afghanistan is to allow poppy fields to grow — and prevent Afghan forces from destroying them. You can’t make this stuff up:

[U.S. soldiers are] not allowed to actually step foot in [the Afghan farmer’s] many acres of poppy fields or damage the fields in any way.

They can’t even threaten to destroy the fields or send in Afghan troops to burn, plow under or poison the delicate, pastel-colored flowers.

Nor can they discourage poppy farmers, however gently, from growing their illicit crop, which is hardier and commands a higher price than alternatives such as wheat. Poppy cultivation has been illegal in Afghanistan since 2001 but still represents a full quarter of the country’s gross domestic product and a major source of revenue for the Taliban, to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Many of the middlemen who buy up raw poppy paste for onward sale to heroin-producers hail from the insurgent group.

Watch Lavrov “diplomatically” blow the whistle on this insane racket

What a Racket! $10 Trillion Missing from Pentagon and No One, Not Even the DoD, Knows Where It Is

$10 Trillion Missing from Pentagon and No One — Not Even the DoD — Knows Where It Is

Source: Claire Bernish

Over a mere two decades, the Pentagon lost track of a mind-numbing $10 trillion — that’s trillion, with a fat, taxpayer-funded “T” — and no one, not even the Department of Defense, really knows where it went or on what it was spent.

Even though audits of all federal agencies became mandatory in 1996, the Pentagon has apparently made itself an exception, and — fully 20 years later — stands obstinately orotund in never having complied.

Because, as defense officials insist — summoning their best impudent adolescent — an audit would take too long and, unironically, cost too much.

“Over the last 20 years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when an audit would be completed,” Rafael DeGennaro, director of Audit the Pentagon, told the Guardian recently. “Meanwhile, Congress has more than doubled the Pentagon’s budget.”

Worse, President Trump’s newly-proposed budget seeks to toss an additional $54 billion into the evidently bottomless pit that is the U.S. military  — more for interventionist policy, more for resource-plundering, more for proxy fighting, and, of course, more for jets and drones to drop more bombs suspiciously often on civilians.

Maybe.

Because, without the mandated audit, the DoD could be purchasing damned near anything, at any cost, and use, or give, it — to anyone, for any reason.

Officials with the Government Accountability Office and Office of the Inspector General have catalogued egregious financial disparities at the Pentagon for years — yet the Defense Department grouses the cost and energy necessary to perform an audit in compliance with the law makes it untenable.

Astonishingly, the Pentagon’s own watchdog tacitly approves this technically-illegal workaround — and the legally-gray and, yes, literally, on-the-books-corrupt practices in tandem — to what would incontrovertibly be a most unpleasant audit, indeed.

Take the following of myriad examples, called “plugging,” for which Pentagon bookkeepers are not only encouraged to conjure figures from thin air, but, in many cases, they would be physically and administratively incapable of performing the job without doing so — without ever having faced consequences for this brazen cooking of books.

To wit, Reuters reported the results of an investigation into Defense’s magical number-crunching — well over three years ago, on November 18, 2013 — detailing the illicit tasks of 15-year employee, “Linda Woodford [who] spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.”

Woodford, who has since retired, and others like her, act as individual pieces in the amassing chewed gum only appearing to plug a damning mishandling of funds pilfered from the American people to fund wars overseas for resources in the name of U.S. defense.

“Every month until she retired in 2011,” Scot J. Paltrow wrote for Reuters, “she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio, office of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service, the Pentagon’s main accounting agency. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow DFAS accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s – a balancing-the-checkbook maneuver required of all the military services and other Pentagon agencies.

“And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from. ‘A lot of times there were issues of numbers being inaccurate,’ Woodford says. ‘We didn’t have the detail … for a lot of it.’”

Where a number of disparities could be corrected through hurried communications, a great deal — thousands each month, for each person on the task — required fictitious figures. Murkily deemed, “unsubstantiated change actions” — tersely termed, “plugs” — this artificial fix forcing records into an unnatural alignment is common practice at the Pentagon.

Beyond bogus books, the Pentagon likely flushed that $10 trillion in taxes down the toilet of inanity that is unchecked purchasing by inept staff who must be devoid of prior experience in the field of defense.

This tax robbery would eclipse the palatability of blood money — if it weren’t also being wasted on items such as the 7,437 extraneous Humvee front suspensions — purchased in surplus over the inexplicable 14-year supply of 15,000 unnecessary Humvee front suspensions already gathering warehouse-shelf dust.

And there are three items of note on this particular example, of many:

One, the U.S. Department of Defense considers inventory surpassing a three-year supply, “excessive.”

Two, the stupefying additional seven-thousand-something front suspensions arrived, as ordered, during a period of demand reduced by half.

Three, scores of additional items — mostly unaccounted for in inventory — sit untouched and aging in storage, growing not only incapable of being used, but too dangerous to be properly disposed of safely.

Worse, contractors greedily sink hands into lucrative contracts — with all the same supply-based waste at every level, from the abject disaster that is the $1 trillion F-35 fighter program, to the $8,123.50 shelled out for Bell Helicopter Textron helicopter gears with a price tag of $445.06, to the DoD settlement with Boeing for overcharges of a whopping $13.7 million.

The latter included a charge to the Pentagon of $2,286 — spent for an aluminium pin ordinarily costing just $10 — the irony of whose 228.6 percent markup cannot be overstated.

Considering all the cooking of numbers apparently fueled with burning money stateside, you would think Defense channeled its efforts into becoming a paragon of economic efficiency when the military defends the United States. Overseas. From terrorism. And from terrorists. And terrorist-supporting nations.

But this is the Pentagon — and a trickle of telling headlines regularly grace the news, each evincing yet another missing shipment of weapons, unknown allocation of funds, or retrieval of various U.S.-made arms and munitions by some terrorist group deemed politically less acceptable than others by officials naming pawns.

In fact, so many American weapons and supplies lost by the DoD and CIA become the property of actual terrorists — who then use them sadistically against civilians and strategically against our proxies and theirs — it would be negligent not to describe the phenomenon as pattern, whether or not intent exists behind it.

Since practically the moment of nationalist President Donald Trump’s inauguration, the ceaselessly belligerent of the military-industrial machine have been granted a new head cheerleader with a bullhorn so powerful as to render calls to apply the brakes effectively, if not unpatriotically, moot.

Sans any optimistic indication thus far lacking from the Trump administration it would reverse course and move toward, rather than against, transparency, the painstaking audit imperative to DoD accountability remains only a theory — while the Pentagon’s $10 trillion sits as the world’s largest elephant in apathetic America’s living room.

For now, we know generally where our money is going: war. Which aspect of war — compared to the power of your outrage about its callous and reckless execution in your name — matters little

Trump = Obama = Bush = Clinton On 4 Core Issues

Trump = Obama = Bush = Clinton On 4 Core Issues

Source: Washington’s Blog

On a superficial level, Trump and Bush couldn’t be more different from Clinton and Obama.  Indeed, pollsters say that many people voted for Trump because they wanted change … Just like they voted for Obama because he promised “hope and change” from Bush-era policies.

But beneath the surface, Trump, Obama, Bush and Clinton are all very similar on 4 core issues.

More War

Bush intentionally lied us into the Iraq war … a war which had no relation with U.S. security or defense.

Clinton and Obama intentionally lied us into various “humanitarian wars” … which had nothing to do with our security or defense.

And the same idiots who lied us into the Iraq war are now trying to lie us into a cold (or maybe even hot) war with Russia.

And what about Trump?

He campaigned on peace and non-interventionism …

But he’s already ramped up the war in Syria.

And the war in Yemen. … where the U.S. and Saudi Arabia are committing war crimes.

And he’s already increased drone strikes by 432%.

And Trump’s top advisor is predicting war with China and Russia. He said:

We’re going to war in the South China Sea … no doubt

So it doesn’t look like peace is going to break out any time soon.

And sadly, top experts say the geopolitical policies pursued by Trump – which are very similar to those pursued by Obama, Bush and Clinton – will lead to more terrorism.

Lap Dogs for Wall Street … Making the Rich Richer

Obama, Bush and Clinton all pushed economic policies which made the rich richer, and the poor poorer.

Bush and Obama bailed out the big banks, threw fistfuls of money at the banksters, and otherwise rewarded Wall Street and penalized Main Street.

Clinton repealed the Depression-era law which separated regular deposit banking and speculation (Glass-Steagall), allowed the giant banks to grow into mega-banks, and acted as a cheerleader for unregulated derivatives. And Clinton – like Bush and Obama – decided that white collar financial fraud didn’t exist, or at least shouldn’t be prosecuted.

What’s the effect of these policies?

Rick Baum notes, using official U.S. governments statistics, that inequality steadily increased under all 3 presidents:

 

Inequality Clinton Bush Obama

 

Real wages plummeted through the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

What about Trump?

He’s appointed the same old bankster cronies.  Nothing will change. (And unfortunately, it’s not too early to criticize a new president.)

Spying On Americans

The NSA’s mass surveillance on Americans started by 1999 or earlier … under the Clinton administration.

3 months before 9/11, the head of the NSA admitted that the NSA was collecting so much information from spying that it was drowning in too much data.

Mass surveillance expanded under Bush … and then even more under Obama.

It’s gotten to the point that the government is spying on virtually all of our electronic communications and transactions.

And Trump?

Given that he’s called for whistleblowers like Snowden and Assange to be executed for treason, and quickly implemented gag orders as soon as he took office, he is almost certain to continue the expansion of mass surveillance on the American people.

In other words, a president who severely punishes anyone trying to reveal the extent of spying on Americans probably has no intention of reigning it in.

Supporting Dictators Who Support Terrorism

Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest sponsor of radical Islamic terrorists. The Saudis have backed ISIS and many other brutal terrorist groups. And the most pro-ISIS tweets allegedly come from Saudi Arabia.

According to sworn declarations from a 9/11 Commissioner and the Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry Into 9/11, the Saudi government backed the 9/11 hijackers (see section VII for details). And declassified documents only amplify those connections. And the new Saudi king has ties to Al Qaeda, Bin Laden and Islamic terrorism.

Saudi Arabia is the hotbed of the most radical Muslim terrorists in the world: the Salafis (both ISIS and Al Qaeda are Salafis).

And the Saudis – with U.S. support – back the radical “madrassas” in which Islamic radicalism was spread.

And yet the U.S. has been supporting the Saudis militarily, with NSA intelligence and in every other way possible through the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations.

Trump?

He’s selling them massive amounts of arms, keeping them off of the list of restricted countries for immigration, and supporting Saudi war crimes in Yemen.

It appears that the voters have been played … again.

Postscript:  If you think that the presidents are more different than we’re giving them credit for, then you must conclude that they have been overridden by other forces. In that case, you may wish to consider consider whether the Deep State and big banks have more power than democratically-elected officials

US Jews disappointed that 150 bomb threats in USA since early January were fake & made by an israeli jew

US Jews wrestle with arrest of Jew in bomb threats case
Jewish groups had pointed to scores of bomb threats against their communities as the most dramatic example of what they considered a surge in anti-Semitism. Some blamed a far-right emboldened by President Donald Trump. Now, that picture has been complicated by the arrest of an Israeli Jewish hacker who authorities say is responsible for the harassment.

Israeli police said the motive behind the threats was unclear. An attorney for the 19-year-old man, who was arrested Thursday, said her client had a “very serious medical condition” that might have affected his behavior. Earlier this month, U.S. law enforcement had arrested a former journalist in St. Louis, Juan Thompson, on charges he threatened Jewish organizations as part of a bizarre campaign to harass his former girlfriend. But Israeli police say the Jewish teen is the primary suspect in the more than 150 bomb threats in North America since early January.

Previously, Jonathan Greenblatt, chief executive of the Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-Semitism and monitors extremism, had partly blamed Trump for creating an atmosphere that fueled the bomb threats and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, among other recent harassment. “His well-documented reluctance to address rising anti-Semitism helped to create an environment in which extremists felt emboldened,” Greenblatt wrote last month.

On Feb. 28, in a meeting with state attorneys general, Trump had suggested the phoned-in bomb threats may have been designed to make “others look bad,” according to Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. The remark raised concerns that Trump was downplaying bigotry. That same night, Trump opened his address to Congress with a strong condemnation of the threats and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, which occurred in suburban St. Louis, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

In a phone interview Thursday from Washington, where Greenblatt was discussing anti-Semitism with members of Congress, he said, “It’s not the identity of the culprit that’s the issue,” but the outcome of threats themselves, which terrified Jews and disrupted Jewish life.

He said anti-Semitism remained a serious concern, pointing to other recent incidents around the country. Swastikas were drawn throughout a New York City subway car with messages such as “Jews belong in the oven.” In South Carolina, a white supremacist with felony convictions was charged with plotting an attack on a synagogue that officials said was inspired by the massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston. A Seattle synagogue was vandalized with a spray-painted message, “The Holocaust is fake history.”

Steven Goldstein, executive director of the Anne Frank Center for Mutual Respect, a civil rights and social justice group based in New York, said the arrest in Israel doesn’t change Trump’s record of being slow and insufficiently forceful in condemning anti-Jewish prejudice and bigotry in general. The center had repeatedly pointed to the bomb threats as evidence of “a national emergency of anti-Semitism” and accused Trump of failing to recognize the “real evidence” behind the problem.

“Nobody has said that Donald Trump himself has spray-painted swastikas or tipped over gravestones or that he picked up the phone and made bomb threats,” Goldstein said. “What we were condemning was the silence. Organizations had to shame Donald Trump into responding.”

The White House has not commented on Thursday’s arrest.

Melissa Plotkin, director of community engagement and diversity at the York Jewish Community Center in Pennsylvania, which was the target of a bomb threat last month, said it was “troubling” to find out the suspect was Jewish. “I’m trying to make sense of it and wonder what was going through the mind of the person when they were carrying this out,” Plotkin said. The Jewish Federations of North America called the case “heartbreaking.”

Rabbi Joshua Hammerman of Temple Beth El in Stamford, Connecticut, said the case was an uncomfortable reminder of what he had been through. In 1999, medical waste marked with swastikas was left in his synagogue parking lot. The incident prompted an outpouring of support from religious leaders and others in the community. But then police charged a member of his congregation, an outcome Hammerman described as “somewhat embarrassing” and “difficult.”

The rabbi expressed concern that the arrest of the Israeli-American teen would fuel denial of anti-Semitism and the Holocaust. Goldstein said his office had received emails Thursday claiming all reports of anti-Semitism were “fake news.”

“I think we should never jump to conclusions as to who did a particular act and allow the process of investigation to play itself out,” Hammerman said in a phone interview. “On the other hand, we should be equally vocal in calling out those who seem to condone such activity or at least don’t explicitly condemn it.”

Andrew Rehfield, chief executive of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, said “finding out this guy was Jewish was baffling to us.” Rehfield was among local leaders who organized the community’s response to the cemetery vandalism last month, which drew donations and offers of help from Christians and Muslims, and political leaders from around the country. Some Jewish institutions in Missouri had also received bomb threats.

Rehfield worried that efforts to combat anti-Semitism would be undermined not only by the identity of the bomb threat suspect, but also the partisan prism through which such incidents are viewed. Rehfield had been criticized by opponents of Trump for accompanying Vice President Mike Pence on a visit to the vandalized cemetery. Then on Thursday, Rehfield said a Jewish Trump supporter distributed an email demanding Jewish leaders apologize to the president now that police say a Jew was responsible for the threats.

“I think it does speak to the extremism on either side and the lack of charity and the lack of nuance,” Rehfield said. “None of us attributed this to Trump. None of us attributed this to (White House chief strategist Steve) Bannon. None of us attributed it to David Duke. I’m not going to apologize for wanting the administration to clearly condemn anti-Semitism.”

 

US Support Lets Global Terrorism Flourish

US Support Lets Global Terrorism Flourish

by Stephen Lendman

America created ISIS, al-Qaeda, al-Nusra and other terrorist groups. It maintains support for the scourge it claims to oppose.
Its so-called war on terrorism is a fabricated hoax. The way to defeat it isn’t by terror-bombing cities to rubble on the phony pretext of combating it.
It’s by ending support. Without it from America, NATO, Israel and other regional rogue states, these groups will wither and fade away.
Instead, they flourish because Washington uses them as imperial foot soldiers. Instead of cooperating with Russia in combating them, America and its rogue allies continue supplying them with weapons, munitions and other material support.
At her weekly press briefing, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova praised the constructive conflict resolution approach shown by Syria.
Opposition representatives aren’t cooperating, she explained, saying:
“We unfortunately must note – and this is obvious – that not all parties are pleased with the fact that the political process has restarted.”
“We regularly record attempts to stymie its progress through certain representatives of the opposition who are continuing to make all sorts of preconditions verging on ultimatums.”
“The militants are continuing to receive arms and ammunition, new members of criminal groups and, above all, funding from abroad.”
Zakharova blasted America, Britain and France for “refus(ing) to condemn the bloody terrorist attacks in Damascus (earlier) in March and the suppression of these events, as well as of the use of chemical agents by ISIS terrorists in Syria and Iraq…”
They reject “tak(ing) effective steps to confront the terrorist threat, which remains extremely high.”
“Clearly, not all parties want peace in Syria,” she stressed. Without naming names, she means America, Britain, France, Israel, other regional rogue states and terrorists they support.
She expressed outrage over new US sanctions on eight Russian companies for engaging in what the State Department calls “proliferation” activity with Iran, Syria and North Korea, saying:
“This step runs counter to the statements we hear from Washington that emphasize the fight against terrorism, in particular in Syria, where it has gained a foothold.”
“On the contrary, it is completely at odds with such declarations and undermines the prospects of setting up comprehensive multilateral cooperation to destroy Islamic State and other terrorist groups that pose a threat to all countries, including the US.”
Talks to resolve Syria’s conflict began in 2012. Multiple rounds in Geneva from then to now failed – no breakthroughs achieved, no face-to-face negotiations.
Ongoing Geneva IV and Astana, Kazakhstan talks remain stalemated. Syrian army-rebuffed attacks by US-supported terrorists trying to reach central Damascus aimed to undermine peace efforts.
Despite years of futility, chief Syrian negotiator Bashar al-Jaafari stressed his delegation will never cease working for resolving years of conflict diplomatically.
Yet he said continued “terrorist attacks…are pushing everybody towards a total failure and fiasco in the political and diplomatic process.”
He blasted the illegitimacy of US troops and terror-bombing in northern Syria, explaining government and allied forces, greatly aided by Russian airpower, alone are combating terrorism.
America’s “assault on Raqqa is unlawful if not coordinated with Damascus,” he stressed.
Washington wants Raqqa destroyed, not liberated, the same strategy employed in attacking Mosul.
Endless US wars continue in multiple theaters, Trump as committed to militarism and aggression as his predecessors. 
Prospects for resolving conflicts in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere are dim. War profiteers want them continued endlessly.

Washington is Killing More Civilians than Terrorists in the Middle East

Washington is Killing More Civilians than Terrorists in the Middle East

 

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