U.S. Continues Supplying Military Aid to Kurdish Forces in Northern Syria against Turkey, a US Ally and NATO Member State

By Firas Samuri
Global Research, April 18, 2019

The mass media has been widely covering the details of the disastrous humanitarian situation in Rukban refugee camp over recent months. By the way, the crisis in other sites deserves more considerable attention. Al-Hol refugee camp located in Al-Hasakah province and run by the Syria Democratic Forces is one of them.

Every single day from 10 to 20 people, mainly women and children die due to the lack of drinking water, essential goods, and medicine. Only for the past two months, 250 children passed away in the camp. According to estimates, now more than 50,000 refugees reside there, although initially it was designed only for 25,000.

It turned out that the catastrophe of Al-Hol residents is caused by the illegal actions of the U.S. authorities. Their homes and shelters in the northern and north-eastern part of Syria have been destroyed by the indiscriminate airstrikes of the U.S.-led international coalition.

Apart from Rukban camp situated in the 55-kilometre zone near Al-Tanf, the American servicemen organized ’humanitarian assistance’ for the people in Al-Hol. However, it is really hard to believe in support of Washington to the locals. On the way to supply their bases in other parts of the country, American trucks allegedly deliver humanitarian aid to the camp. Meanwhile, under the guise of good intentions, weapons and military equipment for Kurdish militias flow from Iraq to Syria.

Since March 1, 2019, the United States has already delivered from Iraq six convoys with 100 Humvee jeeps, 150 pickup trucks equipped with machineguns, as well as small arms and grenade launchers, the local activists report.

In fact, Al-Hol residence received no humanitarian aid, and only a small part of the armament fell into the hands of the American soldiers deployed at Sarrin and Harab Isk military bases in the area of Manbij.

Three-quarters of the shipment was delivered to the Kurdish militias in Al-Hol camp and then moved to the settlements of Tell Abyad and Ras Al Ain at the border with Turkey. According to the Middle East experts, these towns could become the starting point of the Turkish army and its proxies’ large-scale military operation against Kurds in northern Syria.

Amid deterioration of the U.S.-Turkish relations, Washington continues to support SDF, that in response keep holding the oil fields in favour of the United States.

The Turkish side repeatedly expressed concern over the long-term and stable relations between the Americans and Kurds. By the way, the Pentagon has announced the allocation of $ 300 million for the train-and-equip program for the Syrian Democratic Forces. Moreover, half of the budget will be spent on the purchase of military transport.

It was also reported that the number of SDF is planned to be doubled – from 61,000 to 121,000 fighters. Exactly after this announcement, first messages on the forced recruitment in north-eastern Syria appeared.

Based on these data, the version of the secret weapons supply by the U.S. to SDF seems quite reasonable. This armament will be enough to disrupt Ankara offensive and create chaos in the north of Syria. Unfortunately, it is happening under the guise of humanitarian aid delivery to the people in need locked in Al-Hol refugee camp.

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الأسباب الأميركية للحرب على لبنان تزداد؟

أبريل 15, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

هذا الاحتمال ليس تهويلاً لأنه يستند إلى حاجات أميركية وإسرائيلية طارئة لا يمكن «تدبّرها» الا بالمزيد من التصعيد.

رأسُ هذه الحاجات هو وصول الحصار الأميركي المفروض على إيران الى أوج «مرحلة ما قبل الصدام العسكري» مباشرة، واتجاهه في شهر أيار المقبل لمزيد من التحرّشات العسكرية في مياه الخليج التي لن يُحمد عقباها.

هناك حاجات أخرى شديدة الحساسية منها ما يتعلق برغبة الرئيس الأميركي ترامب التجديد لنفسه لولاية جديدة، وهذا يتطلب منه الانخراط الإضافي في تأييد «إسرائيل» بمنحها مزارع شبعا وكفرشوبا اللبنانية والقسم اللبناني من قرية الغجر، مع تبني محاولاتها للسطو على آبار مشتركة من النفط والغاز عند الحدود والبحرية والبرية المشتركة بين فلسطين المحتلة ولبنان.

ما يثير البيت الأبيض هنا ليست فقط هذا الخلاف على الآبار بل ولادة محاولات لبنانية لتأسيس حلف لموارد الطاقة مع قبرص واليونان بالتعاون مع سورية لتأسيس مواقع إنتاج ومدّ أنابيب لنقل النفط والغاز من لبنان وقبرص وسورية عبر اليونان باتجاهات أوروبية مختلفة، وهذا يزعج الأميركيين والأتراك و»الإسرائيليين».

نعم، يزعجهم لخروجه عن تغطيتهم وبروز دور روسي في الخلفية المباشرة بدليل أنّ شركة روسية نفطية تشارك مع شركتين إيطالية وفرنسية في التنقيب في بعض المواقع البحرية اللبنانية ولأنه يستبعد أيضاً «إسرائيل» من هذه الشراكة المتوسطية بعد رفض لبناني لأيّ عمل إنتاجي مشترك معها مباشرة، أو بالواسطة، كما أعلن الرئيس ميشال عون.

أما تركيا التي تسيطر عسكرياً على ثلث قبرص فتعتبر أنّ حقول النفط فيها هي للقبارصة الأتراك، يتبقى الوضع اللبناني الداخلي، وهو عامل متفجّر بذل وزير الخارجية الأميركي بومبيو في زيارته الأخيرة للبنان، جهوداً كبيرة لبناء حلف من قوى داخلية لبنانية تتولى مجابهة حزب الله بدعم أميركي مفتوح، ففهم الكثيرون هذا التحريض وكأنه دعوة إلى وقف صعود حزب الله في الدولة وذلك عبر تفجير حرب أهلية داخلية ضدّه.

كما حاول بومبيو دفع الدولة اللبنانية إلى عدم التعاون مع حزب الله على أساس أنه حزب إرهابي متجاهلاً أنه جزء من المؤسسات الدستوريّة اللبنانيّة في مجلس النواب والحكومة ويحوز على ثقة غالبية اللبنانيين بناء على دوره التحريري.

إنّ ما أصاب الأميركيّين بقلق هو رفض الدولة المطالب الأميركية بخصوص حزب الله وتلكؤ القوى اللبنانية بالاستجابة للتحريض الأميركي بذريعة العجز وعدم القدرة على مثل هذه الأدوار.

فهل يكتفي الأميركيون بهذا المشهد «النفطي» الخارج عن سيطرتهم والسياسي الذي يبدو حزب الله فريقاً أساسياً فيه؟ فهذا لا يمنح ترامب دور «منقذ إسرائيل» كما يقدّمه لوسائل الإعلام، خصوصاً أنه يقول إنّ نجاح اليمين الإسرائيلي في الانتخابات الأخيرة والعودة المرتقبة لنتنياهو الى رئاسة الحكومة، هما دافعاه إلى اعترافه بإسرائيلية القدس المحتلة والجولان السوري المحتلّ، لذلك من المعتقد أنّ شهر أيار المقبل هو موعد تشكل الظروف المتكاملة لاندلاع حرب على لبنان قد لا تنحصر في إطاره وتمتدّ إلى سورية وإيران.

لماذا؟

لن يتأخّر ترامب في إعلان «إسرائيلية» مزارع شبعا وكفرشوبا والغجر مع تأييده للترسيم الاسرائيلي للحدود مع لبنان في البرّ والبحر، هذا بمواكبة إصدار قرارات أميركية جديدة بمقاطعة المؤسسات السياسية والدستورية والاقتصادية التي يشارك فيها حزب الله في لبنان. فهذا وحده كافٍ لعرقلة علاقة الدولة بالخارج السياسي والاقتصادي بما يؤدّي الى انهيار اقتصادي كامل، وشلل المؤسسات السياسية، واهتزاز التضامن السياسي والاجتماعي الداخليين.

وقد يكون هذا السيناريو مناسباً لهجوم «إسرائيلي» خاطف على حزب الله بمواكبة حرب أميركية على إيران تتبلور ملامحها في الأفق القريب، كما تروّج وسائل الإعلام الخليجية و»الإسرائيلية» ومكاتب دراسات بعض الأميركيين من أصول لبنانية منحازين لـ»إسرائيل» منذ عقود عدة.

إذا كانت هذه العوامل مشجّعة على حرب أميركية «إسرائيلية» على لبنان ترتدي طابعاً سياسياً واقتصادياً قد يغطي حرباً عسكرية مرتقبة، فكيف يعمل الطرف الآخر؟

يجتاز حزب الله أفضل المراحل، ففي سورية نجح في دحر الإرهاب داعماً الدولة السورية مشكلاً من لبنان قوة أساسية لردع أيّ عدوان «إسرائيلي» إلى جانب الجيش اللبناني وهو دور سبق وألحق هزيمتين متتاليتين بـ»إسرائيل».

سياسياً يشكّل حزب الله قوة أساسية في لبنان بدأت تشارك في التفاعلات السياسية الداخلية من باب الالتزام بقضايا الناس وبأساليب شفافة لم يسبقه إليها أحد من القوى الداخلية، بمراقبته للإنفاق وتصدّيه للفساد.

عسكرياً ازداد الحزب قوة على مستويي الخبرة المحترفة في القتال والتجهيز بالتقاطع مع بنية عسكرية تعمل في إطار الجهاد من أجل مشروع وطني. وهذا يعني أنّ لـ «إسرائيل» القدرة على شنّ حرب لكن السؤال هنا يتعلق بمدى قدرتها على كسبها، أو الخروج منها سليمة، هذا مع الإقرار بأنّ «إسرائيل» قوة أساسية في الشرق الأوسط، بينما يتمتع حزب الله بقدرات في «حروب الغوار» تلغي الإمكانات الكلاسيكية للجيوش الكبيرة.

فهل يدفع الأميركيون المنطقة الى حرب؟

مهاجمتهم لإيران في الخليج من شأنها دفع كامل المنطقة الى حروب بالجملة، وليس مستغرباً على رئيس متهوّر مثل ترامب أن يضع إمكانات بلاده الداخلية والخارجية كافة من أجل إقناع اليهود الأميركيين بانتخابه في 2020 ووضع إمكاناتهم الإعلامية والمصرفية في خدمة مشروعه الخاص، وهذا يحتاج الى حرب في «الشرق الأوسط» يغطيها الأميركيون.

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Erdogan worked “hand in glove” with ISIS in Syria, claims former emir

‘Islamic State’ terror group liaised directly with Turkish intelligence according to commander

By Nafeez Ahmed

In an explosive interview, a former ISIS commander has claimed that the terror group cooperated directly with Turkish state intelligence agencies for years on areas of “common interest”.

The source said that senior Turkish government officials had numerous meetings with ISIS representatives to coordinate activities and that this also involved providing support and safe harbour to foreign fighters in the country. President Erdogan “was working hand in glove with ISIS” according to the US government counter-terrorism consultants who interviewed the ex-ISIS official.

The relationship raises questions about Turkey’s role as a NATO ally in the Syria conflict.

The source, who served as an ISIS emir for three years, Abu Mansour al Maghrebi, was interviewed by Professor Anne Speckhard, director of the International Center for the Study of Violent Extremism (ICSVE) and a long-time US government counter-terrorism consultant for NATO, the CIA, FBI, State Department and Pentagon, as well as by Dr Ardian Shajkovci, the ICSVE’s director of research.

Although not all of al-Maghrebi’s claims can be verified, most of them are corroborated by the claims of other whistleblowers and former ISIS personnel as previously reported by INSURGE.

Speckhard and Shakovci described Abu Mansour as a sort of ISIS diplomat to Turkey based in Raqqa, Syria.

“My issue[duties] was our [Islamic State’s] relationship with Turkish intelligence. Actually, this started when I was working at the borders,” he explained.

Originally from Morocco, Abu Mansour was an electrical engineer who went to Syria in 2013 to join ISIS. His first job with the terror group involved handling foreign fighters coming to join ISIS via Turkey. This involved liaising with a network of ISIS-paid operatives inside Turkey who would direct fighters from Istanbul to the Turkish border towns of Gaziantep, Antakya, Sanliurfa, and so on.

“Most of them were paid by Dawlah[ISIS],” Abu Mansour said, but said that those working in Turkey were usually motivated by money rather than ideology. But he acknowledged: “Many in Turkey believe and give their bayat[oath of allegiance] to Dawlah. There are ISIS guys living in Turkey, individuals and groups, but no armed groups inside Turkey.”

Abu Mansour later travelled to Raqqa in 2015 where he facilitated Turkish medical treatment of ISIS fighters after high-level meetings with Turkish state intelligence. Abu Mansour claimed to have received his orders straight from Mohamed Hodoud, a representative of ISIS’ Majlis al Shura, and also to have briefly met the terror group’s elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. He told his interviewers:

“There were some agreements and understandings between the Turkish intelligence and ISIS emni about the border gates, for the people who got injured. I had direct meeting with the MIT [the Turkish National Intelligence Organization], many meetings with them.”

He added that these regular meetings occurred between a range of agencies, including Turkish intelligence and the Turkish military:

“There were teams. Some represent the Turkish intel, some represent the Turkish Army. There were teams from 3–5 different groups. Most meetings were in Turkey in military posts or their offices. It depended on the issue. Sometimes we meet each week. It depends on what was going on. Most of the meetings were close to the borders, some in Ankara, some in Gaziantep.”

Abu Mansour described having complete impunity to travel between Syria and Turkey, leading Speckhard to describe him as in effect an ISIS ‘Ambassador’. “I passed the borders and they let me pass”, he said. “[At the border], the Turks always sent me a car and I’m protected. A team of two to three people from our side were with me. I was in charge of our team most of the time.”

Although Abu Mansour denied being a “big guy”, he admitted that his reach on behalf of ISIS potentially extended to President Erdogan himself:

“I was about to meet him but I did not. One of his intelligence officers said Erdogan wants to see you privately but it didn’t happen.”

The interview with Abu Mansour was published on March 18th2019 in Homeland Security Today, the magazine of the Government & Technology Services Coalition (GTSC) — a trade association of CEOs including former US government officials which work in the US national security sector.

A strategic partnership

Abu Mansour argued that his role was to coordinate a relationship between ISIS and Turkey where “both sides benefit.” Abu Mansour said that Turkey saw ISIS as a strategic tool to expand Turkey’s influence in northern Syria as the centre for a renewed empire:

“We are in the border area and Turkey wants to control its borders — to control Northern Syria. Actually they had ambitions not only for controlling the Kurds. They wanted all the north, from Kessab (the most northern point of Syria) to Mosul… This is the Islamists’ ideology of Erdogan. They wanted all of the north of Syria. That is what the Turkish side said [they wanted], to control the north of Syria, because they have their real ambitions. Actually, we talked about what Erdogan said in public [versus what he really desired.] This part of Syria is part of the Ottoman states. Before the agreement following the Second World War, Aleppo and Mosul were part of the Turkish Ottoman Empire. The agreement Sykes Picot [in which they lost these regions] was signed for one hundred years. In our meetings, we talked about reestablishing the Ottoman Empire. This was the vision of Turkey.”

Abu Mansour added that although this vision was routinely attributed to Erdogan was not necessarily shared across the Turkish government:

“I cannot say that this is the vision of the whole Turkish government. Many are against interfering to bring this project to reality. They say we will try to defeat the PKK and Kurds. We are afraid of the union between Kurds and that they may make a Kurdish state, but they also expanded to Aleppo… Since they are a NATO state they cannot make NATO angry against them. So, they cannot deal directly with the situation, but they want to destroy the Kurdish ummah, so they deal with the situation [via ISIS] and get benefits from the Islamic State.”

ISIS saw the covert alliance with Turkey as a “big benefit”, as “they could protect our back. Approximately 300 km of our border is with them. Turkey is considered a road for us for medications, food — so many things enter in the name of aid. The gates were open.”

Turkey’s open gate with ISIS

ISIS fighters routinely obtained medical treatment in Turkish hospitals across the border. The Turkish government also supplied water to the terror group and allowed it to sell tens of millions of dollars of oil via Turkey.

“We negotiated to send our fighters to the hospitals [in Turkey]”, said Abu Mansour. “There was facilitation — they didn’t look at the passports of those coming for treatment. It was always an open gate. If we had an ambulance we could cross without question. We could cross [into Turkey] at many places. They don’t ask about official identities. We just have to let them know.”

Turkish state intelligence was intimately involved in this process, he claimed:

“The MIT was made aware of every critical situation and they sent the ambulances to the border. There were also hospitals close to the border. Those who received critical care were treated there and they [the MIT] sent the others all over Turkey depending on their needs. There were very interested doctors, Syrian and Turkish, who wanted to help. So, if there were not facilities to serve them on the border, they would be sent further into Turkey for this.”

Medical bills were largely paid for by ISIS, but “some Turkish public hospitals took these fighters for free. It was not only for our fighters but also for the victims of bombings. I don’t know how many were treated in Turkey, but it was routine… I just know this agreement to open the gates for our wounded and that there were ambulances sent for them. It was a ‘state- to- state’ agreement regarding our wounded. I negotiated these agreements. For the wounded, medical and other supplies to pass, and I negotiated about water also, the Euphrates.”

Water supplied by Turkey allowed ISIS to farm and even generate electricity from dams:

“Actually we [Syria] had an agreement with Turkey for 400 cubic meters per second [of water] into Syria. After the revolution, they started to decrease the quantity of water to 150 cubic meters per second. After our negotiations [in 2014] it returned to 400. We needed it for electrical power and as a vital source of living.”

ISIS water agreement with Turkey “took a long time to negotiate,” according to Abu Mansour. In return ISIS gave the Turkish government guarantees that the country would be “safe and stable” from ISIS attack. “In negotiations I could not say I would attack Turkey. This is the language of gangs, but I would say we will try to keep Turkey from the field battle, we will not see Turkey as an enemy. They understood what we are talking about. We said many times, ‘You are not our enemy and not our friend.’”

Abu Mansour further claimed Turkey was the primary conduit for ISIS oil sales: “Most of the Syrian oil was going to Turkey, and just small amounts went to the Bashar regime…. This happened spontaneously. There are many traders to do that and Turkey was the only market in which to send oil. Their traders paid for the oil that went into Turkey.”

Most of these deals occurred via Turkish middleman who were sanctioned by the authorities:

“Oil that went to the Syrian government — some went by pipes, some by trucks. Oil sent by Dawlah [ISIS] to Turkey was arranged by traders from Turkey who came to take the oil with our permissions. Traders came from the Syrian side also.”

Oil sales via Turkey, Abu Mansour confirmed, were instrumental in bankrolling ISIS’ military onslaught. “In Syria the oil was enough to pay for the weapons and everything needed,” he said. “[Our oil revenues] were more than 14 million dollars per month and half of this oil money is more than enough to pay for everything needed for our weapons expenditures.”

These claims lend credence to an earlier INSURGE investigation into ISIS oil sales which raised questsions not just about Turkish state complicity, but also that of a number of Iraqi Kurdish and Western companies.

However, Abu Mansour denied that ISIS received weapons or funding directly from Turkey. Instead he claimed that weapons were routinely obtained by ISIS from sources inside armed opposition groups: “Anti-government Syrian people provided us with weapons; many mafias and groups traded weapons to us.”

A familiar story

Abu Mansour’s claims about Turkish military intelligence’s direct support for ISIS have been corroborated by other sources. In 2016, I interviewed Ahmet Sait Yayla, Chief of the Counter-Terrorism and Operations Division of Turkish National Police between 2010 and 2012, who went on to become Chief of the Public Order and Crime Prevention Division until 2014.

Yayla told me in extensive detail how he had witnessed first-hand that his own police counter-terrorism operations were scuppered due to Turkish intelligence liaisons which protected ISIS fighters, routinely granted them free passage in and out of Turkey, and provided them medical treatment in Turkish hospitals.

He had however gone much further in describing how he had seen evidence of direct Turkish military and financial sponsorship for some ISIS operations. Yayla’s detailed testimony suggests that Abu Mansour’s role as chief negotiator with Turkish intelligence did not cover certain key strategic issues such as direct military and financial support, which would explain why Abu Mansour was not aware of it.

My story on Yayla was banned in a Turkish court order last year sent to US tech and social media companies.

INSURGE has previously reported other emerging evidence from Western intelligence sources indicating Turkish state complicity in the expansion of ISIS across Syria.

The new revelations reinforce questions about why Western governments have ignored the evidence of state-sponsorship of ISIS — within NATO no less — despite international laws requiring firm action against entities found to be supporting terrorism.

The double game

In 2014, Abu Mansour alleges that Turkey was allowing foreign fighters into Syria while pretending to take measures against them:

“Turkey wanted to make it easy for foreign fighters to cross the borders… They just want to control, they need to be known, and how they enter, so they ask me to tell who has entered and where. Actually, the Turkish side said, ‘You should reduce, change the way you do it, the way you cross. For example, don’t come with a group to enter because it’s clear that a bunch of people entered. Enter only specific gates. Come without any weapons. Don’t come with long beards. Your entry from north to south should be hidden as much as possible.’”

Once again, Turkish intelligence was directly involved: “[In 2014,] they opened some legal gates under the eye of Turkish intel that our people went in and out through. But, entry into Syria was easier than return to Turkey. Turkey controlled the movements.”

ISIS terrorist attacks in Turkey orchestrated by Turkish MIT agents?

Perhaps Abu Mansour’s most controversial claim is that ISIS attacks inside Turkey — on Istanbul airport, at the Reina nightclub and on the streets in Ankara and Istanbul — were not in ISIS’ own interests, but were likely carried out under the orders of Turkish intelligence officers who had infiltrated ISIS:

“The ISIS external emni ordered it. And I think that there were Turkish MIT guys inside the external emni. I suspected that the striking at the airport was not for the benefit of IS, but Turkish groups of IS who wanted to strike Turkey, or they were affected by other agencies that don’t want a relationship between Dawlahand Turkey. It makes no sense, otherwise, because most of our people came through that airport.”

His explanation for this is that the orders for the attack did not come from ISIS leadership proper, but from Turkish MIT officers:

“These orders for these attacks in Turkey were from those MIT guys inside Dawlah but not from our political side. They didn’t want to destroy Erdogan, just change his road in the matter of the Syrian issue. They wanted him to use his army to attack Syria, and to attack Dawlah. The airport attack makes a good excuse for him to come into Syria.”

To be sure, there is no way to independently verify Abu Mansour’s extraordinary allegations against Turkish state intelligence, but they are partly corroborated by the claims of another former ISIS operative, Savas Yildas, who was captured by the YPG during the ISIS attack on the Kurdish province of Gire Spi (Tel Abyad) in Syria. Abu Mansour added that during his imprisonment in Kurdish YPG prisons, he had heard “that the Turkish government, after they were in Raqqa, took 40 persons out that were part of Turkish security agencies.”

The new revelations contradict years of a conventional narrative which has portrayed ISIS as a spontaneous movement erupting without significant state support.

Turkey is hardly the only state which Western intelligence agencies knew were financing ISIS — others include Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

Will the Trump Administration Go to War Next?

 • APRIL 11, 2019

Ever since Mr. MAGA made it to the White House, I have been awed by the level of sheer stupidity and, frankly, the immorality of this administration. Obama was almost as incompetent and evil, but Trump truly brought about a qualitative change in what we could loosely refer to as the “average White House IQ.” The best thing I can honestly say about Trump is that stupid can be good. Alas, it can also be extremely dangerous, and that is what is happening now. Just check out these recent headlines:

I have to admit that this last one is my favorite, really! How cool is that? The US threatens a NATO member state with war (that is what “devastating/serious consequences” means in diplotalk).

Pompeo (surely one of the most evil and delusional idiots in the Trump Administration) was probably trying to emulate the role-model of this entire Administration, Bibi Netanyahu, who once even threatened *New Zealand* with war (well, kinda, I know, they did not really mean “real” war, but they did use war language, which, for a politician, is irresponsible at best).

This would all be very funny if not for the fact that it is pretty obvious that the US is already engaged in a covert military/terrorist campaign against Venezuela and that the fact that the Maduro government has successfully foiled the “Guaidó revolution” (at least so far) only further enrages the likes of Pompeo. Besides, the fact that the US military does not appear to have the stomach for a ground invasion does not at all mean that they cannot trigger a Kosovo or Libya type of bombing and missile campaign against Venezuela.

Will the covert war against Venezuela soon turn into an overt one?

Those who now claim that three Russian S-300 air defense battalions (equipped with the export version of the S-300VM – the “Antey-2500”) or even thousands of Russian-made MANPADS can stop the US simply don’t understand warfare in general and air-defense operations specifically. What these folks do is to take a few figures about, in this case, the theoretical capabilities of the Venezuelan S-300s and then compute how many aircraft/missiles these systems could shoot down. That is not how air defenses work.

I won’t write a detailed explanation about this topic here. My friend Andrei Martyanov can do that much better than I, but I will just say that to be truly effective, any air defense system has to be 1) multi-level and 2) integrated. Furthermore, such pseudo-analyses as mentioned above always overlooks the importance of all other factors besides the number and characteristics of the missiles themselves. But in reality, electronic warfare, network integration, signal processing, combat management systems, etc. play an absolutely crucial role in air defenses. Even deceptive measures (such as inflatable “tanks” or wooden “aircraft”) can play a central role in the outcome (as it did in Kosovo and Iraq). The same goes for offensive air operations, of course. Thus no evaluation of a possible US air attack on Venezuela can be made without analyzing US capabilities, training, procedures, etc. The truth is that what military experts call “bean counting” is what only pretend-experts engage in. From a military point of view this is entirely useless and futile]

The sad truth is that absent a multi-level integrated air defense system like Russia has, air defense operations typically turn into a simple numbers game: X number of defensive missiles vs. Y number of attackers. Keep in mind that effective EW (especially SEAD) will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of any air defenses. The same applies to whatever number of Su-30 or even Su-35s Russia might deliver to Venezuela.

Now, look at a map and see for yourself: Venezuela is literally in the US’s backyard (at least in military terms), and the US can bring HUGE numbers of whatever it wants (missiles, bombs, SEAD aircraft, etc.) to the fight. Not only that, but the Venezuelans lack any real counter-attack options, which means that Uncle Shmuel can fire off as many missiles as he wants for weeks and months without ever having to worry about a counter-strike.

It is only political factors protecting Venezuela from an overt US attack, not military factors. The latter are not irrelevant, of course, and I discussed them here. In military terms, Venezuela is a sitting duck which might be able to deter a ground operation, but which can do nothing against US standoff striking capabilities, at least not against a determined US effort. Against a pretend-strike, like what the Israelis and the US did in Syria, the Venezuelans could probably meaningfully degrade the number of US bombs/missiles reaching their targets. But that is all they can reasonably hope for.

What about Syria?

Well, the AngloZionists sure lost the first phase of this war, but they remain unwilling to come to terms with that fact. So now they have defined-down their objectives from “a new Middle-East” or the “animal Assad must go” to “we will never allow peace to break out in Syria.” Not much of a strategy, but that’s is good enough for the Israelis, and that’s all that really matters to Trump or his masters. I don’t want to cover Syria in detail right now, but the simple fact that Pompeo is issuing threats against Turkey really says it all. The Turkish reaction was quite predictable: Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay declared that “The United States must choose. Does it want to remain Turkey’s ally or risk our friendship by joining forces with terrorists to undermine its NATO ally’s defense against its enemies?”

Feel the love?!

Yes, these are only words, and Turkey remains under NATO/CENTCOM occupation (CENTCOM, which the Iranians have – quite logically- just declared a terrorist organization!). Still, between the S-400 vs. F-35, the Kurdish issue, the CIA continuous support for Fethullah Gülen or the fact that the (US-controlled) EU never accepted Turkey, all create a potentially explosive background which even a small spark could ignite.

It is equally clear that both the US and Israel will continue to conduct airstrikes, assassinations, support for Takfiri terrorist groups, etc., in Syria for the foreseeable future. Trump’s famous withdrawal from Syria will end up like all his promises: tossed down the memory hole. As for the Israelis, it is absolutely vital (for psychological and ideological reasons) for them to continue to subvert not only Syria but the entire Middle-East. Furthermore, we should never forget the Israeli end-goal: to use the US to destroy any country daring to resist Israeli aggression. On top of that list, there is, of course, Iran.

Simply put: there will be no peace in the Middle-East as long as Palestine is occupied by a gang of racist thugs whose contempt for international law or even basic norms of civilized behavior is as total as their total reliance on deception and violence to subjugate the region and, eventually, our entire planet. Of course, Russia and China will help, as will Iran, but that is unlikely to be enough to achieve a lasting peace (if anything, the latest Israeli statements about annexing even more of Palestine are an indicator of more bad things to come).

The truth is that while the Empire does not have the power to break the will of the Syrian people, it has plenty enough strength left to prevent peace from breaking out in Syria.

Or Iran?

Who knows? It is possible to predict the actions of a rational actor. “Rational” implies a minimal degree of intelligence and sanity. The problem is that we cannot be sure about the intelligence of the folks currently remaining on duty at the Pentagon while we can be absolutely sure that the Israelis are completely insane and delusional (as racists always are). So far, the Israelis have failed to get the US to attack Iran. Clearly, there were some intelligent and sane people at the Pentagon (in the tradition of Admiral Fallon) but how sure can we be that by now they have not all been purged (or corrupted) by the Neocon regime?

When I speak of the stupidity of the US leaders, I don’t mean that as an insult. I mean that in a diagnostic sense: these folks are simply not very bright. Check out Dmitry Orlov’s excellent “Is the USS Ship of Fools Taking on Water?” for a very good discussion of the increasingly important role stupidity is playing in the actions of the Empire. And Orlov is not the only one thinking this. By now most Russians are pretty convinced that stupidity and gross incompetence is what best characterizes US decision-making. If it wasn’t for the very real risks of war, the Russians would spend their time laughing at the cluelessness of the “indispensable nation’s” leaders…]

When I look at the fact that, at least so far, the US has not dared overt military aggression against Venezuela, I cannot imagine anybody at the Pentagon or CENTCOM having the stomach for a war against Iran. But, again, I am assuming intelligence and sanity, which applies neither to Mr. MAGA nor to the Israelis.

The DPRK? The Ukraine? Libya? Country X?

In strategic analysis, one should never say never, but I submit that the chances of a full-scale US military attack on the DPRK, in the Ukraine, in Libya or against Country X (replace X with whatever country you like) are slim. Frankly, that train has already left the station. Of course, “Country X” is vague enough to remain a possibility at least in theory (maybe some new tiny “Grenada” can be identified to, in Michael Ledeen’s immortal words “throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business” (after all, that is what this great American hero – Reagan – did after the US had to run from Lebanon), but unless the Trump Administration reaches a new level of incompetence, arrogance, and insanity, I don’t see where Uncle Shmuel might decide to “restore democracy” next.

Any guess as to where these “indispensable” folks will restore democracy next?
Any guess as to where these “indispensable” folks will restore democracy next?

Conclusion: Venezuela still in the cross-hairs or already under attack?

When dealing with a terminally dysfunctional administration like the Trump Administration (just look at how often people get sacked or resign from it! Check herefor the latest case), we have to assume that it is capable of the worst, most illogical, and even catastrophically self-defeating actions. An overt attack on Venezuela would undoubtedly fall into this category. We, therefore, need to set aside all the many statements made by various US officials (whether threatening or appeasing) and look at what the US is actually already doing. When we do that, we see that the US is already engaged in warfare against Venezuela, even if this warfare is mostly covert. Furthermore, this covert warfare has failed, at least so far. However, and even more worrisome, the US has paid very little, if any, political price for its completely illegal aggression against Venezuela. So the real question is not whether the US will decide to launch a full-scale overt military aggression against Venezuela but whether there are any factors which would inhibit the US from crossing the deniability threshold?

I can think of at least one such factor: the inevitable blow-back against any “Yankee” military intervention in the Latin American public opinion and the subsequent and potentially severe consequences for US puppets (à la Bolsonaro for example) and various comprador regimes (in Colombia for example) on the continent. Other than that, my biggest hope is that the debacle in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere will be sufficient to persuade US officials that one more military disaster would not yield any benefits to their interests.

The clock is running and the Neocon gang in the White House has to decide either way – blame it all on somebody else (the Venezuelan people, the Russians, the Chinese, Hezbollah, Iran, Martian extraterrestrials, etc.) and leave or try an overt military intervention and hope that things go better than they always do.

What do you think? Will the Trump Administration go to war and, if yes, where?

 

PS: quick Ukrainian update: neither Poroshenko nor Zelenskii have anything resembling a real program (albeit Zelenskii just released a 10-point “plan” which is simply silly, no point in discussing it now). Since both of them will be US puppets, this is not a big problem: the course of the Ukraine will not change as a result of this election anyway. Poroshenko’s campaign in weak, he is trying to cater to the Russian speaking population (he even goes as far as sometimes speaking in Russian, which is technically illegal for him!), but that is way too late by now: everybody hates him and the regime he represents. Zelenskii, in contrast, has a very dynamic and effective campaign – mostly videos – in which he says stuff which Poroshenko could never say. Most observers, including myself, think that since the 2nd round of voting is a competition of anti-ratings (negative perception) Zelenskii will win. Time is running out for Poroshenko, he better come up with something dramatic, or he needs to run. As for Yulia Vladimirovna, she clearly is in discussions with the Zelenskii people to see if they can form a political coalition in the Rada. I believe that these negotiations will be kept secret until the 2nd tour, at which point a “coalition of Zelenskii supporting factions” will be created in the Rada.

Finian Cunningham: “Kurds in Fateful Triangle as US Moves to Redeploy IS Terror Groups”

Written by Finian Cunningham; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

Kurdish fighters have been used by the US to ostensibly defeat the remaining Islamic State holdouts in eastern Syria. But what is emerging is not a final defeat of the terrorists, more a redeployment to further destabilize the Arab country.

Potentially, the Kurds could wind up not with the regional autonomy they desire, but as part of a rebranded American dirty war army whose ranks include the very terrorist the Kurdish militias have been successfully battling against.

Finian Cunningham: "Kurds in Fateful Triangle as US Moves to Redeploy IS Terror Groups"

President Donald Trump has been lately crowing about how US-backed Kurdish forces have wiped out the IS self-proclaimed caliphate around Baghouz in eastern Syria. “They’re losers… they’re gone tonight,” he boasted about supposedly vanquishing the jihadists.

However, things are not that clear-cut. Syria’s envoy to the United Nations Bashar al Jaafari dismissed Trump’s victory celebrations as a “bluff”. He said that IS was not defeated in areas under US control, but rather were being shunted off to various camps for retraining.

There are credible reports that thousands of jihadists who surrendered or were captured in the fighting around Baghouz have since been relocated by US forces to its military base at al Tanf near the border with Iraq and Jordan, as well as to nearby refugee camps such as Rukban, where some 40,000 detainees are held. Suspiciously, the Americans are refusing international access to these camps, even for UN humanitarian relief agencies. As Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov pointed out recently, the detention centers are being used by the Americans as a pretext for illegally occupying Syrian territory.

We can also add the purpose of clandestine military recruitment for US proxies.

Despite Trump’s announcement four months ago that US military was pulling out of Syria, there seems no sign that his plan is being implemented. That’s why Moscow reacted angrily to Washington’s demand for Russian troops to leave Venezuela. The Kremlin responded testily that the US should first deliver on its promise to withdraw from Syria, where its forces are illegally present unlike Russian personnel in Venezuela under bilateral agreement.

In Syria’s supposedly post-war scenario what seems to be happening is the US seeking to find a way to reconfigure its destabilizing intervention in the Arab country. The past eight years of US-sponsored covert war has failed in its objective for regime change against President Bashar al Assad, who is allied with Russia and Iran. What the US is aiming to do now is keep military footprints in the country, effectively annexing swathes of territory, especially in the oil and gas-rich eastern region around the Euphrates River.

That accounts for why supposedly defeated enemy terrorists are being retrained by US special forces at al Tanf. They are reportedly being tasked with capturing the oil and gas fields in Deir ez-Zor province as well as production infrastructure in Homs province.

This puts the Kurdish forces in an invidious position. There is little doubting the courage and fighting ability of the Kurdish men and women who make up the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and its spearhead YPG militias. The Kurds have managed to liberate up to 30 per cent of Syria’s territory in the northeast and east from the IS jihadists. They have dealt a decisive blow to the residual caliphate at Baghouz. American air power augmented the Kurds in their offensive.

But what the US is maneuvering to do is to combine the defeated jihadists with the Kurds in order to push its agenda for breaking up Syria and controlling its eastern mineral-rich resources.

The Special Monitoring Mission to Syria reports that IS militants captured by the SDF are being redeployed by the Americans for seizing oil and gas production facilities.

Still another crucial objective for Washington is to control the Deir ez-Zor east-west corridor from Iraq to Damascus so as to contain Iranian presence in Syria.

This is the context for Trump’s brazen declaration recognizing Israel’s annexation of Syria’s southern Golan Heights. Washington’s game plan is to keep Syria destabilized and fragmented, partly to appease Israel and partly for the US’s own imperial designs for dominance in the region.

In this insidious US maneuvering, the Kurds face a potentially treacherous situation. They have been well armed and supported by Washington, but are finding they are being used like a disposable asset. The Kurds may have calculated that accepting Washington’s patronage in recent years was a way to earn political capital for building a future separate independent Kurdish state. What seems to be emerging, however, is that the Americans only intend to exploit the Kurds as a fighting force to do its dirty work of breaking up Syria – in the same way that the Americans have covertly used jihadist terror groups in other parts of Syria.

The Kurds have been very effective in routing IS in the latter’s remaining strongholds in eastern Syria. But the result is the Kurds are being used as a recruitment agency for the Americans to redeploy the “defeated” terrorists in its ongoing covert war against the Syrian state.

There are signs, though, that the Kurds are well aware of the treacherous danger in dealing with Washington. When Trump made is troop withdrawal announcement, there were palpable concerns among the Kurds about being betrayed to the mercy of Turkey. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly threatened to send his military forces into Syria to crush the SDF and YPG militia whom Ankara views as “terrorist” affiliates of its own separatist Kurdish movement, the PKK.

It’s not clear if the US will implement a withdrawal of its estimated 2,000 troops in Syria. There are indications it won’t happen, despite Trump’s claims. Nevertheless, the surprise announcement was enough to undermine Kurdish confidence its patron. With the result that Kurdish leaders have begun reaching out to the Assad government in Damascus in the hope of dialogue producing a future federal arrangement.

The Kurds have reportedly requested Russia to mediate with the Syrian government.

Kurdish forces have not heretofore been at war with the Syrian Arab Army. They share the same common enemy of IS and assorted jihadist terror groups.

In the past, President Assad has rebuffed Kurdish aspirations for regional autonomy. But apparently, Damascus has shifted to be more open on forming a new federal constitution for Syria in which the Kurds would gain important regional independence – in a way analogous to the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq.

In this fateful political triangle that the Syrian Kurds find themselves, they would be advised to throw their lot in with the Damascus government. If a mutual pact could be established that would bring the two major chunks of Syria’s territory back into territorial integrity.

If, on other hand, the Kurds accede to Washington’s nefarious agenda, they run the risk of losing independence and being eviscerated from exploitation in endless dirty-war machinations by the Americans. An ominous sign is that after bravely fighting to rout IS, the Kurdish militia are being set up to form a devil’s bargain with the same terrorists – to satisfy Washington’s geopolitical interests.

The Kurds would do well to remember a cynical maxim in Washington, whereby the US “does not have allies, only interests”.

Iran Is Working To Restore Hamas Ties With Damascus – Report

Iran Is Working To Restore Hamas Ties With Damascus – Report

Hamas members. FILE IMAGE: AP

South Front

03.04.2019

The Palestinian Hamas Movement is working to restore its ties with the Damascus government after strengthen its relations with Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran recently, Al-Monitor reporter on April 3.

Hamas’ leadership declared its support for the Syrian opposition and closed its offices in the Syrian capital in the first months of the Syrian crisis. Damascus also says that the Palestinian group was responsible for training several militant groups throughout Syria, especially in the period from 2011 to 2012.

An Iranian official told Al-Monitor that Iran has been mediating between the Syrian government and Hamas since early 2017. However, the official admitted that Damascus continues to view the Hamas attitude in the early years of the crisis as a stab in the back.

“The Iranian mediation, and Hezbollah’s mediation, have eased Damascus’ stance toward Hamas,” the source, who declined to be named, added.

The new leadership of Hamas, which was elected in May 2017, managed to recover the group’s relations with Iran and Hezbollah and adopted a new stand on the Syrian issue. Last month, the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh rejected U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights.

“The Golan will remain an integral part of the Syrian territory … We stand by Syria in the face of the US arrogance that does not abide by international norms, covenants and laws,” Haniyeh said on March 25, according to Al-Monitor.

Ali Baraka, a member of the Hamas’ political and Arab relations bureau, declined to speak about the Iranian and Hezbollah efforts to restore the relations between the group and Damascus. However, he affirmed that there is high-level coordination among the so-called “resistance axis” to counter U.S. actions in the Middle East.

Despite these efforts by Iran and Hezbollah, local observers believe that restoring Hamas ties with Damascus will not be an easy task. Government supporters accuse the Palestinian group of committing multiple war crimes in the early years of the war. This public image of Hamas also impacts negatively any efforts regarding the restoration of ties between the two sides.

More on this topic:

 

اسطنبول وأنقرة تهزمان «العثمانية» الجديدة

أبريل 3, 2019

د. وفيق إبراهيم

الطموحات العثمانية الاخوانية للرئيس التركي رجب طيب اردوغان في مرحلة اهتزاز عميق، لم يسقط بضربة انتخابية قاضية حتى الآن، لكنه تلقى لكمة لها طابع مستقبلي أصابت جانبي وجهه: العثماني والاخواني الإسلاموي.

فالقراءة الدقيقة لنتائج الانتخابات البلدية في تركيا تكشف بوضوح عن صراع متفاقم بين تيارين كبيرين: الأول قومي تاريخي ديني والثاني يجسد تركيا «الأوروبية» المتأثرة بالاقتصاد والتقسيم الطبقي.

ما هو واضح ولا يمكن نكرانه هو أن حزب العدالة والتنمية الذي يترأسه اردوغان حاز على 51 في المئة من أصوات المقترعين متحالفاً مع حزب الحركة القومية بما مجموعه 9,23 مليون صوت.

فيما نال منافسه الحزب الجمهوري المتحالف مع حزب «الجيد» 4,17 مليون صوت مقابل 10,82 ملايين لأحزاب اخرى.

ما تجب قراءته في هذه النتائج ليس التفوق الواضح في الأصوات فقط، فمن الضروري ربطها بمكانة حزب العدالة والتنمية الذي يحكم تركيا منذ 15 عاماً متواصلاً مسيطراً على 95 في المئة من وسائل الإعلام المتنوّع وقوة الجيش التركي مليون جندي والأمن الداخلي والمخابرات، والإدارات، بالإضافة الى 300 ألف معتقل زجّ بهم اردوغان في السجون بذريعة تأييدهم «للداعية» فتح الله غولن الموجود حالياً في الولايات المتحدة الأميركية، ويتندر الأتراك في هذا الصدد أن اردوغان اعتقل كل المواطنين باستثناء زوجته «أمينة».

لقد بدا واضحاً أن اردوغان صاحب مشروع تاريخي عثماني وقومي تركي واخواني إسلامي باعتبار ان حزبه العدالة والتنمية ينتمي الى فدرالية «الاخوان» في العالمين العربي والإسلامي ويديرها سورية، العراق، مصر، تونس، اليمن، ليبيا، السودان، الجزائر… هذا ما دفعه الى التحالف مع حزب الحركة القومية الذي يجب ان يتناقض «ايديولوجيا» مع الاممية الإسلامية الاخوانية بما يكشف الاصرار الاردوغاني على أممية إسلامية بزعامة عثمانية حصرية يقودها سلطان البر والخافقين الرجب الاردوغاني.

لذلك كان من الطبيعي أن يولي الرئيس التركي الجانب المؤدي الى تظهير عثمانية في التحشيد الداخلي التاريخي والتحرك السياسي والعسكري والديني في المدى العربي والإسلامي المجاور.

فتجسّد هذا الجانب في أدوار تركيا في سورية والعراق لأنهما البلدان المجاوران مباشرة مستعملاً فيهما التحريض الطائفي سنة وشيعة ومسيحيين وعلويين ودعم تنظيمات الإرهاب والاخوان، والاحتلال العسكري المباشر لقسم من أراضيهما.

أما في مصر فحاول بواسطة الاخوان فيها السيطرة على الدولة، وكذلك في اليمن الإصلاح وليبيا وتونس والسودان، اجتاحت تركيا عسكرياً بعض انحاء البلدان المتاخمة لها وبواسطة الاخوان مجمل الدول الأخرى وصولاً الى الصومال وتشاد ونيجيريا.

إن تناقض المشروع الاردوغاني مع المشروع الأميركي الأوروبي الإسرائيلي استولد له عداء خليجياً وحذراً سياسياً واقتصادياً حال دون انتسابها للاتحاد الأوروبي وصولاً الى فرض عقوبات اميركية استهدفت بعض قطاعاتها.

يتبين ان المشروع القومي المختبئ خلف أبعاد دينية وعثمانية تسبب لتركيا تقلصاً في المديين الأوروبي والأميركي الى جانب كثير من الإنفاق التركي على تمويل حركات الاخوان المسلمين والتحركات العسكرية في العالم العربي الإسلامي. وهذا استتبع ضموراً في الواردات انسحب على حركة الإنفاق في الداخل التركي فأصيبت كل الطبقات التركية بتراجع.

واذا كانت الفئات الريفية المنتمية الى أسفل السُلم الطبقي والعمال في المدن تستجيب كحالها في معظم دول العالم للتحشيد الوطني والقومي والديني وتتحمل المصاعب الاقتصادية، فإن الطبقة الوسطى التركية المشابهة لمثيلاتها الأوروبية تمتاز بقدرتها على تجاوز أساليب التحشيد العثماني والقراءة المتعمقة للتراجع الاقتصادي. هذا بالإضافة الى تقليدها للنموذج الأوروبي على المستوى الحياتي الاجتماعي، وبالتالي السياسي وهذا جلي في الفوارق السياسية والايديولوجية بين حزبي العدالة والتنمية والحركة القومية المتحالفين على أساس الجمع بين التاريخ العثماني والقومية التركية، مقابل حزبي الجمهوري والجيد العاكسين لتركيا من الستينيات حتى مطلع القرن الحادي والعشرين أي الدافعين نحو نظام جمهوري مدني قاعدة الانقسام فيه هي الطبقات الاجتماعية وليس المشروع الديني القومي.

ألا تعكس هذه القراءة نتائج الانتخابات الأخيرة في تركيا؟

وإلا كيف يُمكن تفسير نجاح الحزبين الجمهوري والجيد في مدينتي اسطنبول والعاصمة انقرة، حيث الغلبة فيهما للطبقة الوسطى مقابل استئثار حزب العدالة الاخواني في الأرياف والبلدات الصغيرة، التي يقيم فيها قرويو تركيا وريفيوها؟

هناك نقطة إضافية تتعلق بالفارق بالإمكانات المادية والرسمية بين حزب اردوغان الذي يسيطر على كل مصادر التحشيد في الدولة والأمن والإعلام فيما لا تمتلك القوى الحزبية المنافسة أي إمكانات تأثير رسمية او حتى خاصة وإعلامية.

يتبين بالنتيجة ان خسارة اردوغان للمدن، اكثر من رسالة رفض لمشروعه العثماني الاخواني وإشعار مسبق بانتصار المستقبل التركي على التاريخ العثماني البائد.

فهل يذهب اردوغان نحو التخفيف من حركته الخارجية والتركيز على الداخل التركي؟

يبدو أنه تأخّر ومن المعتقد أن أي استدارة جديدة لن تكسبه المدن التي كشفته بعد عقد ونصف من حكمه وقد تطرده من الأرياف التي أصبحت معتادة على التحشيد، أما لجهة الاخوان المسلمين فهؤلاء ذاهبون نحو عودة سريعة الى عالم الظلام والاختباء في دهاليز التاريخ.

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