How Russia Implements the Minsk 2 Agreement, by Scott Humor

 

A few years ago, I was having coffee with my then-business partner. He happened to be in the middle of a process called “enrolling your child in a private school.”

In my naiveté I thought that this process was a fairly straightforward one: you give them your application and a check, and they accept your kid. But apparently, there were more people with money that this particular school was willing to take, and as it happened, his step-daughter didn’t get in the previous year.

“You didn’t accept my daughter last year,” he reminded the head of the admission office.

“I am sorry, but your application came in after the deadline,” she was on speakerphone, so I could hear her clearly. He looked at me and shook his head mouthing, “No, she is lying.”

“Are you aware that I am an alumnus of this school? I was there from kindergarten through high school. After school I served in the Army, got a master’s degree in engineering and I’ve been a military contractor for thirty years.”

“Oh,” she said. “I didn’t know that. Congratulations.”

“I’m also a certified explosives specialist, which means that I know how to defuse explosive devices and also how to set them up. I can make a powerful explosive from several common household items. If you don’t accept my daughter to your school, I am going to blow up your administrative building with all of you inside.”

“Oh,” she said. “I see. Well, there is no need for you to do that. There is no need to blow us up. We are accepting your daughter as we speak. She is already in.”

Later I asked why wasn’t he worried about her reporting him to the feds.

“She is not going to. She got my message. I reminded her that the school is a private club in which I, as part of its alumni, am a member, and she is a hired aid. It costs north of a half a million dollars to go from kindergarten to  graduation in this school. She is getting paid and has her job with the club members’ fees that I pay. If they treat me badly, other alumni will realize that the hired help took power over the club members. As a result, they might withdraw their support, the school will go bankrupt, and all those f-ing servants would lose their livelihood.”

Something similar took place in the UN building to Mr. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign secretary. He was known to smoke before, during, and after meetings, so the UN secretary Kofi Annan declared “a war on smoking” and started gathering petitions among the staff workers to ban smoking inside the UN building.

Everybody understood that the smoking ban was directed personally against Lavrov and everyone knew that this would put additional pressure on him during the long and stressful negotiations.

For 70-some years, no one even thought about banning smoking, and now this. It all, allegedly, ended when Sergey Lavrov told to Kofi Annan that the UN was a common home for its members. I.e., Anon was nothing but a hired manager, a fired help in essence. “Please, don’t try to tell us, the owners of this home, how to behave,” Lavrov said reportedly.

On February 18, a historic event took place that very few people even noticed. In a word, Russia has started implementation of the Minsk 2 Agreement.

A couple of weeks ago, in one of my previous SITREPs,  I wrote that Russia was about to start implementing the Minsk Accord, after the numerous demands to do so coming from the EU and the US parliaments and also from their individual member states.

Russia has the same level of the involvement in this agreement as Germany and France. The agreement was signed by the Kiev authorities and the authorities of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. At the signature time, all three sides had the same questionable level of legitimacy, resulting from the violent armed coup and the civil war.

After the Minsk agreement was signed, Germany, France, the EU and the US imposed political, economic and military sanctions on Russia, which have been completely illegitimate. The sanctions have been imposed under a false pretense of making Russia fulfill the Minsk Agreement, which it is not a part.

Russia, in response, imposed several counter-sanctions on the EU members and the US.

The Presidential executive order to recognize the identification papers issued by the Donetsk and Lugansk Republics is in fact the unilateral sanctions that Russia imposes on Kiev authorities, France and Germany, the EU and the US in order for them to fulfill the Minsk-2 Agreement, which should result in cessation of all armed hostilities and withdrawal of all foreign troops, including all the NATO troops, the US, Polish, German and Canadian military advisers, the CIA and so on.

After the foreign troops have been withdrawn, the federalization of Ukraine will take place with local independent elections.

Again, the Minsk-2 Agreement is a pure genius document that lays out a road map for a peaceful liberation of Ukraine from the foreign military occupation and the transfer of political and state powers from the hands of foreign agents that took the power as a result of an armed coup, and transfer this power back into the hands of the people.

By this presidential order, Putin demonstrates to all the politicians involved in the Ukrainian crisis that people living on the territory called Ukraine are the club members, and the Western politicians subjecting the people to an endless bloody armed conflict are nothing but hired help gone mad.

In the following days more will be written and said about this presidential executive order. There is no doubt that it was a carefully calculated, timed, and prepared event. Below is the outline of the some steps taken before this degree was signed.

 

We have been waiting for this for so long…

Everyone is ready.

 

  1. Anti-terror forces

On Thursday, February 16th, Vladimir Putin took part in an annual expanded meeting of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Board to discuss the FSB’s results for 2016 and the priority tasks for ensuring Russia’s national security.

“Military-political and economic rivalry between global and regional policy makers and between individual countries has increased.

International terrorist groups, essentially terrorist armies, receiving tacit and sometimes even open support from some countries, take active part in these conflicts.

At the NATO summit last July in Warsaw, Russia was declared the main threat to the alliance for the first time since 1989, and NATO officially proclaimed containing Russia its new mission. It is with this aim that NATO continues its expansion.

They have stepped up the deployment of strategic and conventional arms beyond the national borders of the principal NATO member states.

They are provoking us constantly and are trying to draw us into confrontation.

 We see continued attempts to interfere in our internal affairs in a bid to destabilise the social and political situation in Russia itself.

We also see the recent serious flare-up in southeast Ukraine.

What is more, they (the current Ukrainian authorities) speak openly about organising sabotage and terrorism, particularly in Russia. Obviously, this is a matter of great concern.”

  1. Warning to people to stay home

On the same day, 16 February 2017, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a warning for Russian citizens travelling abroad on the risk of detention or arrest in third countries at the request of US law enforcement agencies or intelligence services

“The US continues the unacceptable practice of ‘hunting’ for Russian citizens around the world.”

“The number of such incidents now exceeds 30. In 2016, four Russian citizens were extradited to the United States: Maxim Senakh, Alexander Sergeyev, and Mikhail Serov from Finland, and Mark Vartanyan from Norway. Among the latest cases, we can cite the recent arrest of Stanislav Lisov in Spain.

We strongly recommend that Russian citizens, when planning travel abroad, weigh up carefully all the risks, especially if they have reason to believe that American law enforcement agencies might have demands in their regard. “

  1. Russia’s ultimatum

On February 18, Speaking at the Munich Security Conference Lavrov said:  Moscow as well will not lift counter-sanctions against the EU until Minsk deal is implemented

In essence, this is Russia’s unilateral sanctions against the EU and US. If the EU and US fail to do anything, there will be more sanctions.

“As our European partners are saying in regard to sanctions, I have already spoken on that matter. Since it is quite illogical and artificial to talk about the formula that Minsk agreements should be implemented by Russia then the European Union will lift sanctions. We also want the Minsk agreements to be implemented and our sanctions against the European Union would not be lifted as well until the Minsk agreements are implemented,” Lavrov said speaking at the Munich Security Conference.

  1. Moscow’s decision has been completely unforeseen and unanticipated

Lavrov didn’t mention the subject of validated IDs of Donbass resident at the Munich Security Conference and he didn’t mention this option during the Normandy Four meeting.

View image on Twitter
View image on Twitter

FMs met on sidelines | Главы МИД “Нормандской четверки” встретились «на полях» Мюнхенской конференции по безопасности

“The decree stated clearly this was made out of humanitarian concerns…until Minsk agreements have been fulfilled. The presidential decree validated IDs of Donbass residents so that they could enter Russia legally and use Russian rail transport and air carriers,” he explained.”

After the eruption of the crisis in Ukraine in 2014, over a million of Donbass residents applied for a refugee status and temporary shelter in Russia. According to Russia’s Federal Migration Service, more than 1 million people fled to Russia following the outbreak of the civil war in Ukraine, of whom approximately 600,000 decided to settle there permanently.

  1. A day before, on February 17th, Plotnitskiy and Aleksandr Zakharchenko made a very important statement

“we decided to implement a programme of humanitarian aid and environmental safety for our brothers and sisters living in Ukraine-controlled Donbass areas. The main guidelines for humanitarian assistance are medical and educational services, payments to veterans and assistance to divided families.

We wish to underscore that humanitarian foundations have been set up to support our fellow countrymen. The programme also envisions joint cultural, educational and sport events involving residents on both sides of the contact line.”

This means that people living on the territory of Donbass that is occupied by junta and foreign supra-national organizations like the EU and NATO will be able to get  the republics IDs, and will be able to travel to Russia visa free for work, education or leisure.

This indicates that the Presidential order concerns not just the Donbass republics but an entire population of Ukraine.

Executive Order on recognising documents issued to Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons living in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions

Being guided by universally recognised principles and standards of the international humanitarian law and in order to protect the rights and freedoms of individuals, the President has resolved that temporarily, during the political settlement period of the crisis in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions pursuant to the Minsk Agreements, personal identification documents, education and (or) qualification certificates, birth certificates, marriage, divorce, name change and death certificates, vehicle registration certificates, and vehicle registration plates issued by the corresponding authorities (organisations), valid in the specified district, will be recognised in the Russian Federation as valid for Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in those areas.

Pursuant to the Executive Order, Ukrainian citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in certain districts of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Lugansk regions can enter and leave the Russian Federation without applying for visas upon showing identification documents (birth certificates for children under the age of 16), issued by the corresponding authorities which are valid in the said districts.

The Government of the Russian Federation has been instructed to take the necessary measures to implement this Executive Order.

The Executive Order will come into effect upon its signing.

A few additional points

  1. On February 18th, the Red Star military TV channel posted two videos of what is a clear message from the Defense ministry that MIG-31 is able to fly in stratosphere and to shoot down satellites and ballistic missiles with R33 missiles.

This fighter jet is fully battle ready, it takes them about 7.5 minutes to reach the stratosphere

That’s how the Russian pilots see the earth from 21,500 meters at the speed of 2,500 k/h 

 

  1. Denazification of Ukraine is going at steady path: Ukrainian news sources report that in Munich airport Interpol arrested former commander of the punitive armed formation 11th battalion “Kievskaya Rus” Yuriy Starov. He was detained following the Simferopol court decision, on the charges brought up by FSB against Mr. Starov in relations to his activities during the war on Donbass. He is fighting an extradition, but it looks like the Kiev authorities won’t be able to prevent Germany from extraditing him to Russia, since as a  Crimean he is considered to be a citizen of Russia.
  2. If you are looking for a precedent, the South Ossetia and Georgia come to mind:

“Plainly speaking, Putin sent a wire to Poroshenko, with simple and clear message, “Peter, dot. Remember the South Ossetia, dot. Take care of yourself, dot. Putin, dot.” Upon hearing about this decree, I immediately imagined future developments, based on the experience of the Georgian-Ossetian conflict. Georgia  had “experimented” with the population of South Ossetia prior to the Russian intervention, and tried to “experiment” after, but not for long. It all had started when Russia and South Ossetia signed an agreement on the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure, which implicitly recognized the Republic, and it ended with the Russian troops responding to the direct aggression of Georgia, after which Russia recognized the South Ossetia and Abkhazia. However, in this scenario, Russia didn’t have a need to recognize passports of the South Ossetia, which the Republic started issuing in 2006, as all the residents of the republic at that time have already had the Russian passports.”

Veritas:Meanwhile Porkie invites VP Pence to come to Ukraine and whines about what the Russians are doing in Donbass. The “Normandy 4” all agree steps and again the whinney FM of Ukrnazi land dismisses the meeting to Reuters as soon as he leaves……well I suppose they have insane McCain to keep them warm at night!

The Kulak: “I still think Putin has the radar data showing a (Georgian) Air Force SU25KM, likely with a Georgian pilot, ambushing the airline after being vectored to it from a controller on the ground, most likely at the Dnepro tower controlled by Ihor Kholomoisky. This is why he is acting as if he has a ‘Trump card’ pun intended in the coming negotiations with the Trump Admin over Ukraine.

Someone who did not wouldn’t double down or take a tougher negotiating line as they did over the Munich Security Conference weekend by announcing LDNR citizens will now have their documents recognized in the RF, which of course is a preliminary step as everyone understands to giving Donetsk or Lugansk residents Russian passports. The kompromat Putin has on the false flag group that carried out MH17 (with clear coordination with the CIA, if not direct Langley involvement for deniability purposes, since the CIA’s people orchestrated the media hate campaign that was prepackaged as it were) is along with the Polish/Right Sector combined team Maidan snipers IDs and other Russian SIGINT we don’t know of the ‘high card’ in the coming talks.

Per the Kulak: John Helmer: US Navy releasing no pics/video of latest SU24 flyby incident in Black Sea, USS Porter may’ve been closer to Crimea than USN admits

“The US nuclear-armed missile destroyer, USS Porter, was steaming full-speed across the Black Sea in the direction of the Russian coastline, its Tomahawk firing radars activated, when a Russian airborne signals reconnaissance aircraft and three SU-24 fighter-bombers arrived in three waves. The US European Command headquarters in Stuttgart announced that the incidents had occurred on Tuesday, February 14, calling the Russian flights “unsafe and unprofessional”, putting the vessel and the militaries of the US and Russia at risk of “accident or miscalculation.”  The Pentagon repeated the exact words after daylight broke on the same day in Washington. But that was four days after the incidents had  actually taken place on Friday, February 10. The Russian Defense Ministry replied in the Moscow evening of February 14 that there “were no incidents”.”

This is how NATO ends:  Not with a bang but a whimper

This is how NATO ends: with the quiet shuttering of an irrelevant Brussels office building in September 2020. http://atfp.co/2l3rnuY 

Scott Humor

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There’s a Deep State in America?!

February 18, 2017

by Ramin Mazaheri

There’s a Deep State in America?!

Imagine my surprise when, on my flight back from San Francisco to New York, that’s what my trusty New York Times revealed to me.

My first thought was: I can’t believe how this horrible Donald Trump has set up a Deep State in less than a month?!

Surely Russia was involved in its formation.

Then again, I strangely find myself thinking a lot about Russia these days. I’ll admit it – when my morning breakfast was late it fleetingly occurred to me that the Kremlin was behind this slowdown in my hotel room service.

Putting that aside, I was immediately relieved when by the 3rd paragraph our nation’s paper of record had put to rest my fears of an unprecedented formation of a US Deep State with, “Not quite, experts say….”

Whew.

I just don’t put anything past the evil capabilities of the Donald!

Reading the article I was surprised to find that the Deep State isn’t what I thought it was – apparently it’s only when the government leaks information to the media?

That’s funny, because one time on the SF-NYC “Job Creator Red-eye” I sat next to an Egyptian guy. Of course I was worried, at first, but I found out it he was a Coptic Christian, so that put me at ease. Who even knew they had those?!

This Egyptian told me about his country’s Deep State, and it sounded really bad:

He said that they colluded with “some Western countries” – he didn’t say which and looked kind of uncomfortable as he said it, for some reason – to stop that great Tahrir Square Revolution which was to guarantee that Israel would be safe.

“Mr. Gypsy” said that the Egyptian version of the Deep State was that their military controlled the economy, and that they bribed, imprisoned and killed people to keep their grip on the economy and control over foreign policy.

It sounded pretty bad.

I told him I was happy that Washington was supporting Al-Sisi’s military takeover with billions in aid, and that he didn’t have to thank me personally for that.

A “military” intertwined with the “economy”…I must admit, it did make me think.

Of Russia! I’m nearly certain that Putin created something similar over thereafter he banned elections, so why even verify it with some research?!

But this Egyptian must not have known what he was talking about, because the New York Times article didn’t say anything about the economy?

What they said was:

“Mr. Trump, apparently seeking to cut the intelligence community, State Department, and other agencies out of the policy-making process almost entirely, may have triggered a conflict whose escalation we are seeing in the rising number of leaks.”

Officials, deprived of the usual levers for shaping policies that are supposed to be their purview, are left with little other than leaking.”

Trump was clearly trying to cut public officials out of the democratic process, and they had no choice but to resort to these “illegal” leaks!

I mean, I’m pretty sure you don’t get elected to be a CIA spy or NSA agent, but somebody up top is and…well, I don’t know if they did the leaks…and I don’t know if the leaks are really true or not…but I’m telling you – we have to get Donald out NOW!

Anything that’s bad for Trump must be good. It’s really that simple, so case closed.

“We’re in a world now where the president is playing to the edge of his powers, and I think there are real concerns about the constitutional implications of some of the actions he’s taken,” said somebody who must be totally objective and perfect because why else would the New York Times choose them?

If there’s one thing Obama never, ever, ever did it was to expand his executive authority in ways unbeseeming to the presidential authority.

If Obama had done that, I would have been in the streets, you can bet! Trust me: I have my anti-Trump “pussy hat” in my closet and ready for the next protest!

Don’t bring up “drones”! You’ll just remind me of this guy at work nobody understands – Fazlollah “Lefty” Bittermani – he’s always doing that!

Between you and me, his last name ends in a vowel, so…you know….he may have certain sympathies. That guy really cheeses me off!

What Lefty doesn’t realize is that we are at war – not with Russia, yet – but with – not Muslims – but with…certain people, let’s just say. And the president has the right to fight war however he wants.

But when it comes to waging diplomacy the president must be restricted as much as possible!

We refuse to accept Hillary’s defeat until the Russians give back the Donbass to the Crimeans! This is simply a question of our humanitarian rights!

Trump is trying to make a liar out of not just Hillary, but of Sylvester Stallone and “Rocky IV” – even when the Russians cheat they are still supposed to lose to the Americans!

Was I back on Russia again? I don’t know…I’m like, obsessed with them, or something?

Back to the New York Times, which always reassures me when contradictions confuse me. Just after that last quote they wrote this:

That has forced officials in agencies to ask how far they will go themselves. As each side begins to perceive itself as under attack and the other as making dangerous power-grabs, it will justify more and more extreme behavior.

So clearly, these officials are justified more and more in extreme behavior…because it’s Trump!

I really wish we had some of these great, extreme officials during the Dubya era, but why bring up ancient history?

One thing is certain: During just four weeks in office Trump has clearly destroyed the culture and future of the United States and must be impeached. These officials – even if they are unelected – should absolutely not be listening to their elected leader!

Why? Well just read the next paragraph, another unassailable analyst of the Times:

“In President Trump, you have a president whose behavior shocks even more than the content of his policies.”

Yes! Behavior, not content!

I was telling my son this recently: He came in 19th place in a recent science competition (but out of 24!), and he was upset that his blue ribbon wasn’t an actual trophy.

I told him, “Son, I’m going to buy you that trophy because your behavior was correct, even if you totally screwed up measuring the contents of your volcano experiment, and it exploded and burned the girl next to you.”

I think the girl was Russian, anyway. She was certainly shocked.

Anyway, the Times goes on to say that now this dangerous Trump wants to appoint someone to review our intelligence agencies. Astounding, the gall of this man! I really think he’s psychologically insane.

“It looks, sounds and feels like a political witch hunt,” said Analyst #1 (the White one, not the Egyptian one). “It’s like pouring gasoline on the fire.”

It certainly does!

What else do you call our top elected official trying to find out what work is being illegally done in secret with taxpayer money?

I am certain this is something Putin would do with his KGB.

And that’s why Russia is not free – because the KGB cannot operate freely to undermine Putin’s attempts at diplomacy!

Don’t tell me I’m wrong, comrade!

“Mr. Flynn, in his short tenure, exemplified the breakdown between the president’s inner circle and career civil servants. He kept the National Security Council largely shut out of policy-making and sought sweeping changes in foreign policy.”

This is the US, not the USSR! Our career bureaucrats need to be in charge, not our elected officials!

Trump simply cannot make sweeping changes to foreign policy – even if he was democratically elected on that mandate – because career civil servants should run the show!

The next paragraph:

“For concerned government officials, leaks may have become one of the few remaining means by which to influence not just Mr. Flynn’s policy initiatives but the threat he seemed to pose to their place in democracy.”

Democracy is bureaucracy!

You vote for a person, they appoint an official, the person you voted for gets voted out of office, but the appointed official stays forever and amasses power – democracy!

I tried to explain this to that Egyptian guy, but he said,

“Then what’s the point of demonstrating and facing down gun barrels if the people can’t demand change?”

I kept telling him:

“But Israel is fine these days? Tahrir worked out great!”

He didn’t get it.

Anyway, Egypt is not the country who is threatening American democracy, and I don’t have to tell you who is, because I’ve just taken that pill that helps me with my compulsive psychological issues.

The Times continued:

Even if each individual leak is justifiable, as insubordination becomes more sustained and overt, it inches deeper into the gray zone of counter-democratic activities.

I already had the feeling that every anti-Trump leaks was justifiable, and that we are still many, many inches away from counter-democracy, so thanks Gray Lady! I almost had to take that other pill for my anxiety!

And “insubordination” is clearly justified because, as I said, in 4 weeks Trump has already proven himself to be a new Hitler! Don’t get me started on Steve Bannon!

“I don’t think you can say in advance what inappropriate deep-state activity would look like, because we haven’t seen this before,” said Analyst #1.

Exactly – this is a totally new day, and this was all appropriate deep-state activity. We’ve never seen anything like this in the history of the world, much less America.

I told this to Lefty back at work and he started ranting about Kennedy. I totally did not see what Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy had to do with this, but who can fathom what goes on in the mind of a Fazlollah?

The main thing is that we get Trump before he does damage to free trade, because my corporation and all businesses are totally helpless against the government.

They have no influence at all…unlike Egypt.

“There, ‘the deep state is not official institutions rebelling,’ he said, but rather ‘shadowy networks within those institutions, and within business, who are conspiring together and forming parallel state institutions.’”

We all know that there is absolutely nothing like this which is happening in America.

And that’s why the idea of business being involved in America’s Deep State did not appear until the 7th-to-last paragraph. I almost didn’t read that far!

And that’s why the New York Times finished on this heartening note:

“This war between the intelligence community and the White House is bad for the intelligence community, bad for the White House, and bad for the nation’s security.”

See? Our so-called Deep State has nothing to do with business. The New York Times is right next to Wall Street, so they would surely know, right?

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to make a call to the Pentagon for my work.

No, I’m in defense contracting or anything, but the Pentagon is the world’s largest employer…hard to work around them in the United States!

And the profit margins – wow!

I’m so glad our owners had a personal contact in there.

Frankly, I thought the New York Times’ headline was a bit too alarmist: “As Leaks Multiply, Fears of a ‘Deep State’ in America”.

But I’m glad they immediately put those fears to rest.

With that content, I would have run a headline like: “Internal leaks justified as Trump could affect share prices”.

I think that would have been more accurate.

Frankly I’m a bit surprised such a non-story could bump Russia off the front page?

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.

Trump dreams vs Trump reality – hopes still permitted!

February 19, 2017

Trump dreams vs Trump reality – hopes still permitted!

This article was written for the Unz Review 

For a lot of Trump supporters the past week has been a painful one. Whether we chose to react with abject panic or pretended like nothing happened, something did happen and it was something big: the Tree Letter Agencies pulled-off a de facto coup against Donald Trump by forcing him to fire his most important foreign policy advisor and the man who had dared to declare that he wanted to reform the bloated and largely ineffective US intelligence community.

There is no way of putting a brave face on what happened. Not only because it showed that Trump is not loyal to those who are loyal to him, but because this episode pretty much killed what I would call the “Trump dream”. I chose my words carefully here. I speak of “Trump dream” as opposed to the Trump reality. Let me explain.

The “Trump dream”

When Trump won the elections the spectrum of hopes about his actions was very wide. It ranged from “Trump will forever reshape the international system, end the Empire and bring peace and prosperity to the USA” to “he will never be as bad as Hillary no matter what he does”. On that spectrum, here is what I would list as the key elements of the “Trump dream”:

  1. Draining the swamp: kicking the Neocons down to the basement they crawled out of 24 years ago, reforming the US intelligence community, possibly even dissolving the CIA or, at the very least, subordinating it, and the JCS, to the President.
  2. Making peace with Russia and negotiate a “grand bargain” which would clearly spell out how the USA and Russia would act towards each other and jointly against common threats. At the very least, this would imply an agreement on the Ukraine and Syria.
  3. Work with Russia to create a new European security system which would keep NATO as a political organization, but which would “dilute it” into a new security framework ranging from Portugal to the Ural mountains and which would include a 21st century version of the Conventional Forces Europe treaty.
  4. Stop pouring billions of dollars into the Empire and redirect the immense resources currently wasted on war, aggression and subversion back into the United States and their decaying infrastructure, medical care, education, small business, etc. Until now, the main profitable sectors of the US economy were either the military-industrial complex or finance. The hope was that Trump would kick-start the “real” economy: the production of goods and services.
  5. End what I would call the “dictatorship of the minorities” and replace it with a restoration of the sovereignty of the majority of the American people over their country. The “Rachel Maddows” who used to be the “ideological masters” of the AngloZionist regime would be gently ushered towards the doors and replaced by people most Americans could identify with.
  6. Law and order would be restored to the USA and the uncontrolled flow of immigrants would finally be regulated at least to some degree.
  7. Last, but most definitely not least, Trump would not act on this stupid, counter-productive and self-defeating Iran-bashing and China-bashing rhetoric. Remember – what I am listing here is not a realistic evaluation of what Trump might do once in power, but what I deliberately called the “Trump dream” with emphasis on the second word. Sure, there might be those who wanted Trump to deliver on his threats and possibly even start a war with Iran or China, but I have not met them. (Then again, these are not people I like to be around). Again, this is my, subjective and personal outline of what I think many (most?) Trump supporters were dreaming about, nothing more.

Following the past week, I would say that, for the most part, this dream is now over, especially points 1,2,3 and 5, points 6 and 7 are on life support and only 4 is having of chills and a runny nose but might still live.

They key, of course, is point 1: draining the swamp. In other words, wrestling the power away from the Neocons and the US ‘deep state’ and putting it back where it belongs: in the hands of a President with a mandate of a majority of the American people. That is, alas, the biggest loss we all suffered last week: the man who was supposed to drain the swamp got a humiliating smack-down by a deep state drunk on its own infinite chutzpah. The biggest deal is not that Flynn was sacked, although that is a big deal, but the fact that the deep state forced Trump into publicly betraying Flynn and sacking him instead of those who were involved in this palace coup (including Pence himself).

What the deep state demonstrated this week is that everybody in the Executive Branch serves not at the pleasure of the President, but at the pleasure of the deep state, including probably Donald Trump himself.

By terminating Trump’s #2 the Neocons have now shown the world that everybody else (#3, #4, etc.) and possibly #1 are all here only to the extend that they, the Neocons, let them. I am personally convinced that unless Donald Trump finds in himself the courage to mount a major counter-attack, the Neocons will find a way of kicking him out out the White House before his term ends. That is typically their style: sending “messages” and “making an example”.

If Trump “behaves” they might, possibly, let him do a little of points #6 (law and order) and #4 (redirecting some money to the US homeland). As for point #7 (Iran and China bashing), that is the only part of his program which they will enthusiastically support (thereby also ending the dream of him not acting on that crazy nonsense).

So yeah, this is bad, and barring a miracle, the dream is really over.

However, let’s put that right back in perspective.

The Trump reality

If the *dream* is over, that is hardly a reason to become despondent or to claim that supporting Trump was a mistake. Please always keep in mind what the alternative was: Hillary Clinton.

One of my favorite Russian commentators, Ruslan Ostashko, brilliantly put it when he said:

Not a single rational person was expecting Trump to display true friendship or love for Russia or an immediate recognition of Crimea (as part of Russia). Our joy at the election of Trump was linked to a single factor: with Clinton we would had no chances, none at all, to agree on anything. If Clinton was now sitting in the White House we would not be discussing the issue of the recognition of Crimea or the future of US sanctions. We would be trying to guess when the nuclear war would start, we would be studying our bomb shelter maps, how to use a Geiger counter, and how to count the correct dosage for iodine tablets.

He is absolutely right, of course. This is also exactly what I wrote on November 9th following the election:

So it has happened: Hillary did not win! I say that instead of saying that “Trump won” because I consider the former even more important than the latter. Why? Because I have no idea whatsoever what Trump will do next. I do, however, have an excellent idea of what Hillary would have done: war with Russia. Trump most likely won’t do that.

I never was a “Trump dreamer”. I was merely a Trump *hoper* meaning that I had hopes that Trump would not only be better than Hillary, but that he might deliver on, at least, some of his “dream” message.

But if the choice is the Neocons humiliating Trump or thermonuclear war – then I pick the former, with gratitude.

Furthermore, however unpleasant this thought might be to many Americans, it is an undeniable fact that the United States are currently the host upon which the AngloZionist parasite feeds and which this parasite uses to try to subjugate the entire planet.

What is happening now is that the Neocons and the deep state have succeeded in re-taking control of their host, but only at the cost of a major weakening of that host. And that is objectively good for our planet. Just as the coup in Turkey ended up gutting the military and security services and dramatically curtailing their ability to influence the events in Syria (this is, in part, why Erdogan is now playing ball with the Russians and the Iranians), the ongoing color revolution against Trump is gutting the power of the American host and, thus, of the AngloZionist parasite. For one thing, the entire political establishment is so deeply involved in the struggle for power inside the USA, that very little bureaucratic energy is left to deal with anything else. Furthermore, in political terms, the “indispensable nation” and “city upon the hill” are now the laughingstock of the planet. The next time around some State Department propagandist starts regurgitating the usual chunk of propaganda prolefeed about democracy, human right and fair elections he will be greeted with a hysterical laughter and screams of “physician, heal thyself!!”. And, frankly, God only knows where this process might lead us next. I, for one, would absolutely not exclude the possibility of civil war in the USA. And before that statement gets greeted with jeers and the usual set of ad hominems, let me remind you that I predicted the civil war in the Ukraine when almost everybody else was in total denial (see: The gates of Hell are opening for the Ukraine, written on Nov 20th, 2013). At this point in time, I am not predicting a civil war in the USA, but I am saying that it has become a real possibility.

Civil war or not, all the Neocons and the deep state are doing is accelerating the inevitable collapse of the USA as a world hegemon. True, Trump could not have prevented it, but he could have negotiated it, using the still immense power of the USA to get the best possible deal from the other big actors. If a person falls off a skyscraper, there is no way of preventing him of hitting the ground – but whether he has a parachute or not will make a huge difference to him on how he will land. That is what Trump could have done – making a “descent on the breaks” as the Russians expression goes. The skills to make that happen are straightforward: realism, willingness to negotiate, ability to understand the other guy, the courage to give up that which is not sustainable, etc. That is the exact skillset that the Neocons totally lack. What they can do is double-down, then double-down again, and then double-down some more. And that kind of maniacal attitude always leads to catastrophe.

Whatever may be the case, the big story for the foreseeable future will be the infighting inside the US deep state. Why infighting? Because Trump is also part of the deep state, he did just suddenly pop out of nowhere ex nihilo, he had, and still has, powerful backers. That’s the, comparatively speaking, the good news. The bad news is that the faction of the deep state which is backing Trump appears to be the weaker one. And Trump himself is not exactly a knight in shining armor, to put it mildly. Still, if we imagine that by some aggregate measure of power the anti-Trump forces inside the deep state are, oh, 70% and the Trump supporters are therefore 30%, the infighting between the 70% and the 30% will leave very little energy to either party to deal with Russia, China or Iran.

It is a sweet irony that the big proponents of divide et impera did just that to themselves, is it not?

Conclusion

It is way too early to become despondent. Yes, the “Trump dream” is probably over, it was beautiful as long as it lasted, but now the “Trump reality” is taking center stage and we all need to learn how to operate in this new context. We need to carefully and systematically study this new reality and carefully parse it for all the risk and opportunities it presents us with. And there are a lot of great opportunities, along with very real risks, to be discovered. Just the fact that the leaders of the Empire have turned against each other is a God sent blessing! Let’s use that to the max.

Coincidence or not, but the Duran is reporting that the Chairman of the JCS, General Joe Dunford, and General Valery Gerasimov, the Chief of the Russian military’s General Staff have met in Baku. This is the first such meeting since January 2014 and it took place in a “cordial atmosphere”. In fact, Dunford reassured Gerasimov that there are in fact no plans to deploy US ground troops to Syria (there are, of course, already several thousand US troops on the ground in Syria, both sides know that, but both sides also know what Dunford is referring to: regular armed forces).

Can you imagine such a meeting under Hillary?

What happened is really simple. With the election of Trump, the Neocons suffered a crushing defeat and it took them less than a month to regroup castrate Trump. This is bad and the “Trump dream” is over. But we – the resistance to Empire, as still in very good shape. After all, Trump was never *our* candidate, he was the candidate of the part of the deep state which we, opponents of the US deep state in toto, supported as a lesser evil: and we were right – he was and he still is the lesser evil. Furthermore, the party which really lost the most is the Trump-supporting part of the deep state, and they now enough power left (10, 30 or 45 percent – that does not really matter) to regroup and fight back. And if/when they do fight back, we still have to give them our support simply because that is the moral and pragmatic thing to do. Right now, Trump looks like Yanukovich, true. But I think that he is also a far smarter and much more honorable person than Yanukovich. Call me naïve, but my gut feeling is that Trump cares for the USA and that he wants to do the right thing. I might be wrong, of course. But at least so far I do not see the clear signs of the total rot and corruption which Yanukovich has all over his face. Furthermore, Trump appears to be learning. That is very important. In his latest press conference Trump finally finally showed some real guts and counter-attacked the media, very effectively I would say. And remember how fast Trump learned from his first defeat in the debate against Hillary? Trump might be a fast learner and if that is really the case, then he might learn some most useful lessons from the entire Flynn debacle.

Hopes still permitted 🙂

So hopes are still permitted. Not expectations – those are always bad. But reasonable, reality-compatible hopes. Like all humans, politicians change. If the Neocons don’t succeed in impeaching him, Trump might still end up kicking some ass, so to speak. And if they do impeach him, they will further weaken the Empire. So, all in all, I would say that while we had a very bad week we are still on good shape.

The Saker

The Stakes for Trump and All of Us

By Paul Craig Roberts

February 18, 2017 “Information Clearing House” – We need to understand, and so does President Trump, that the hoax “war on terror” was used to transform intelligence agencies, such as the NSA and CIA, and criminal investigative agencies, such as the FBI, into Gestapo secret police agencies. Trump is now threatened by these agencies, because he rejects the neoconservative’s agenda of US world hegemony that supports the gigantic military/security annual budget.

Our secret police agencies are busy at work planting “intelligence” among the presstitute media that Trump is compromised by “Russian connections” and is a security threat to the United States. The plan is to make a case in the media, as was done against President Nixon, and to force Trump from office. To openly take on a newly elected president is an act of extraordinary audacity that implies enormous confidence, or else desperation, on the part of the police state agencies.

Here you can see CNN openly cooperating with the CIA in treating wild and irresponsible speculation that Trump is under Russian influence as if it is an established fact. http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46476.htm
The “evidence” provided by CNN and the CIA is a “report” by the New York Times that, with little doubt, was planted in the NYT by the CIA.

This is so obvious that it is clear that CNN and the CIA regard the American people as so gullible as to be completely stupid.

Glenn Greenwald explains to Amy Goodman that the CIA is after Trump, because Trump’s announced policy of reducing the dangerous tensions with Russia conflicts with the military/security complex’s need for a major enemy.

“The deep state, although there’s no precise or scientific definition, generally refers to the agencies in Washington that are permanent power factions. They stay and exercise power even as presidents who are elected come and go. They typically exercise their power in secret, in the dark, and so they’re barely subject to democratic accountability, if they’re subject to it at all. It’s agencies like the CIA, the NSA and the other intelligence agencies, that are essentially designed to disseminate disinformation and deceit and propaganda, and have a long history of doing not only that, but also have a long history of the world’s worst war crimes, atrocities and death squads. This is who not just people like Bill Kristol, but lots of Democrats are placing their faith in, are trying to empower, are cheering for as they exert power separate and apart from—in fact, in opposition to—the political officials to whom they’re supposed to be subordinate.

“And you go—this is not just about Russia. You go all the way back to the campaign, and what you saw was that leading members of the intelligence community, including Mike Morell, who was the acting CIA chief under President Obama, and Michael Hayden, who ran both the CIA and the NSA under George W. Bush, were very outspoken supporters of Hillary Clinton. In fact, Michael Morell went to The New York Times, and Michael Hayden went to The Washington Post, during the campaign to praise Hillary Clinton and to say that Donald Trump had become a recruit of Russia. The CIA and the intelligence community were vehemently in support of Clinton and vehemently opposed to Trump, from the beginning. And the reason was, was because they liked Hillary Clinton’s policies better than they liked Donald Trump’s. One of the main priorities of the CIA for the last five years has been a proxy war in Syria, designed to achieve regime change with the Assad regime. Hillary Clinton was not only for that, she was critical of Obama for not allowing it to go further, and wanted to impose a no-fly zone in Syria and confront the Russians. Donald Trump took exactly the opposite view. He said we shouldn’t care who rules Syria; we should allow the Russians, and even help the Russians, kill ISIS and al-Qaeda and other people in Syria. So, Trump’s agenda that he ran on was completely antithetical to what the CIA wanted. Clinton’s was exactly what the CIA wanted, and so they were behind her. And so, they’ve been trying to undermine Trump for many months throughout the election. And now that he won, they are not just undermining him with leaks, but actively subverting him. There’s claims that they’re withholding information from him, on the grounds that they don’t think he should have it and can be trusted with it. They are empowering themselves to enact policy.

“Now, I happen to think that the Trump presidency is extremely dangerous. You just listed off in your news—in your newscast that led the show, many reasons. They want to dismantle the environment. They want to eliminate the safety net. They want to empower billionaires. They want to enact bigoted policies against Muslims and immigrants and so many others. And it is important to resist them. And there are lots of really great ways to resist them, such as getting courts to restrain them, citizen activism and, most important of all, having the Democratic Party engage in self-critique to ask itself how it can be a more effective political force in the United States after it has collapsed on all levels. That isn’t what this resistance is now doing. What they’re doing instead is trying to take maybe the only faction worse than Donald Trump, which is the deep state, the CIA, with its histories of atrocities, and say they ought to almost engage in like a soft coup, where they take the elected president and prevent him from enacting his policies. And I think it is extremely dangerous to do that. Even if you’re somebody who believes that both the CIA and the deep state, on the one hand, and the Trump presidency, on the other, are extremely dangerous, as I do, there’s a huge difference between the two, which is that Trump was democratically elected and is subject to democratic controls, as these courts just demonstrated and as the media is showing, as citizens are proving. But on the other hand, the CIA was elected by nobody. They’re barely subject to democratic controls at all. And so, to urge that the CIA and the intelligence community empower itself to undermine the elected branches of government is insanity. That is a prescription for destroying democracy overnight in the name of saving it. And yet that’s what so many, not just neocons, but the neocons’ allies in the Democratic Party, are now urging and cheering. And it’s incredibly warped and dangerous to watch them do that.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/46476.htm

The United States is now in the extraordinary situation that the liberal/progressive/left is allied with the deep state against democracy. The liberal/progressive/left are lobbying for the impeachment of a president who has committed no impeachable offense. The neoconservatives have stated their preference for a deep state coup against democracy. The media obliges with a constant barrage of lies, innuendos and disinformation. The insouciant American public sits there sucking its thumb.

What can Trump do? He can clean out the intelligence agencies and terminate their license granted by Bush and Obama to conduct unconstitutional activities. He can use anti-trust to breakup the media conglomerates that Clinton allowed to form. If Bush and Obama can on their own authority subject US citizens to indefinite detention without due process and if Obama can murder suspect US citizens without due process of law, Trump can use anti-trust law to break up the media conglomerates that speak with one voice against him.

At this point Trump has no alternative but to fight. He can take down the secret police agencies and the presstitute media conglomerates, or they will take him down. Dismissing Flynn was the worse thing to do. He should have kept Flynn and fired the “leakers” who are actively using disinformation against him. The NSA would have to know who the leakers are. Trump should clean out the corrupt NSA management and install officials who will identify the leakers. Then Trump should prosecute the leakers to the full extent of the law.

No president can survive secret police agencies determined to destroy him. If Trump’s advisers don’t know this, Trump desperately needs new advisers.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts’ latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

 

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Information Clearing House.

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Venezuela – Washington’s Latest Defamation – To Bring NATO to South America?

February 17, 2017

by Peter KoenigVenezuela – Washington’s Latest Defamation – To Bring NATO to South America?

The Trump Administration has just accused Venezuela’s newly appointed Vice-President, Tareck El Aissami, of being involved in drug trafficking, thereby dishing out the usual criminal spiel – illegal sanctions against a foreign dignitary with travel bans and asset seizures. This is Washington’s abject behavior at its best, as are so many others around the world of similar nature.

Therefore, let me say upfront: We can protest as much as we want. The Anglo-Zionist empire in Washington and its European vassals do not care one bit. To the contrary, the more hapless protests there are, the more they laugh to themselves – ‘Bingo! We did it again. – Case closed. And sanctions stay. New ones are invented at will, wherever and whenever it pleases the empire. Because nothing happens from the opponents – other than hot air.

Sanctions – economic sanctions, as most of them are, can only stand and ‘succeed’, as long as countries, who oppose Washington’s dictate remain bound into the western, dollar-based, fraudulent monetary scheme. The system is entirely privatized by a small Zionist-led elite. FED, Wall Street, Bank for International Settlement (BIS), are all private institutions, largely controlled by the Rothschild, Rockefeller, Morgan et al clans. They are also supported by the Breton Woods Organizations, IMF and World Bank, conveniently created under the Charter of the UN.

Few progressive economists understand how this debt-based pyramid scam is manipulating the entire western economic system. When in a just world, it should be just the contrary, the economy that shapes, designs and decides the functioning of the monetary system and policy.

Even Russia, with Atlantists still largely commanding the central bank and much of the financial system, isn’t fully detached from the dollar dominion – yet.

‘Renegades’ of the US-globalized Deep State must de-dollarize and migrate towards the eastern SCO-based economy (SCO = Shanghai Cooperation Organization, including Russia, China, most of Central Asia, Pakistan, Iran; – and India for good or for bad, is a contender), where the future is, where huge and honest prospects of future economic development are emerging, especially the Chinese initiated New Silk Road, or OBOR – One Belt-One Road – that foresees an infrastructure, industrial and technological boom, connecting Vladivostok with Lisbon and Shanghai with Hamburg – and everything in between. China’s President Xi Jinping has opened the door for everyone to join – no force, sheer invitation.

This also means breaking loose from the IMF’s and World Bank’s debt tentacles and the rest of the western monetary gangsters. It doesn’t happen overnight, but steps towards regaining sovereignty should be initiated rather sooner than later – to reduce, speak withstand and eliminate sanction imposed damages. For Russia, despite the Atlantists, sanctions were a blessing. They are the best that could have happened to our economy, Mr. Putin said. They pushed us to promote an economy of self-reliance, especially in agriculture and industrial development. In 2015, Russia was the world’s first wheat exporter.

—–

Back to drugs and fighting drug lords. The Plan Colombia which started in 2000 and has since cost about US$ 20 billion, was officially designed precisely to fight the drug mafia’s coca plantations and drug cartels. Yet, since the Plan begun, the surface of coca plantations has more than doubled in Colombia; and output efficiency today is almost three times what it was in 2000.

Washington’s fake accusations and outrageous slandering of Venezuela’s Vice President, Mr. Tareck El Aissami, are totally absurd. They are aiming in a first instance at further bad-mouthing Venezuela among the uneducated MSM-brainwashed international public. It’s ‘false news’ propaganda, attempting to pull Venezuela into the drug ‘war’ playing out between Colombia, Mexico and Peru – all fomented by Washington.

Up to his recent assignment as Vice-President, Mr. El Aissami was Interior Minister, successfully fighting drug mafias, covertly promoted by the DEA and the CIA. Clamping down on the new Vice-President might be a punishment for his unwavering fight against the US backed drug lords, while he was Interior Minister. In fact, during his ministerial tenure, Tareck Al Aissami, a man of full integrity, has hit hard the cartels of international drug dealers, capturing 102 drug lords, of whom 21 were extradited to the United States. To make things even more ridiculous, apparently Tareck Al Aissimi does not even hold a US visa neither has he any assets in the USA that could be frozen as claimed.

The bigger and larger scale agenda behind this latest defamation scheme maybe a monstrous attempt to bring NATO to South America. Yes, you read right – Pentagon’s European military branch, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. They have absolutely nothing to do in Latin America, but as long as nobody screams murder and acts against it – the impunity of the empire is almost bottomless.

The little publicized fact is that President Manuel Santos of Colombia has recently invited NATO to come to Colombia to help him ‘fight organized crime’ – meaning, most likely a new FARC war, easily revived with a few false flags – as already happened recently (http://thesaker.is/colombia-inviting-nato-to-fight-organized-crime-a-menace-for-latin-america/ ).

This move has been under preparation since 2012 / 2013, right from the beginning of Peace Negotiations between the Santos Government and FARC. It started with a so-called ‘best practice technical assistance agreement’ between NATO and Colombia – extendable to real troops and armory movements into Colombia – meaning automatically NATO spreading all throughout Latin America. The Natoization of LATAM! – What a prospect!

Venezuela with Hugo Chavez was the only country protesting already during Colombia’s initial negotiations with Brussels / NATO. Today, except for Venezuela, I don’t know of any other Latin American country that shouted out in protest. Not that it mattered, as nothing matters to the exceptional nation. But it would help spread awareness about what Washington has in store as its latest oppressing atrocity for Latin America.

Might this be one of the chief purposes of this intimidating defamation launched against Venezuela and her Vice President, whose ethical integrity is proven beyond doubt?

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a former World Bank staff and worked extensively around the world in the fields of environment and water resources. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research, ICH, RT, Sputnik, PressTV, The 4th Media, TeleSUR, TruePublica, The Vineyard of The Saker Blog, and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance.

Russia Now Runs the Peace Process to End Syria’s War (III)

Russia Now Runs the Peace Process to End Syria’s War (III)
ERIC ZUESSE | 17.02.2017 | WORLD

Russia Now Runs the Peace Process to End Syria’s War (III)

Part Three of Three Parts

(Part Two is here.)

AFTER RUSSIA TOOK OVER THE NEGOTIATIONS

The conclusion of the first round of post-U.S.-involvement Syrian peace talks took place in Astana Kazakhstan and ended on January 24th, and included, as governmental participants, Syria, Russia, Iran, and Turkey. Neither the Sauds (who had selected and organized the delegation that supposedly represented ‘the rebels’ in the previous, America-led, talks) nor the United States government (which is the main international representative of the Sauds) participated. (However, America’s Ambassador to Kazakhstan was allowed to be one of the «observers»; America’s master, the Sauds, weren’t granted even this recognition.) The Syrian announcement noted that «Regarding the omission of the reference to Syria’s secularism in the statement, al-Jaafari [Syria’s Foreign Minister] said that this was upon the request of Turkey and the armed groups [these ones not having been selected by the Saud family, but by the four governmental participants], which is odd since the Turkish government claims that Turkey is secular, but when it comes to Syria, it stands against secularism».

Both the U.S. government and the Saudi government — and their respective allies — were totally excluded from any decision-making in the post-U.S. talks. Turkey had been a U.S.-Saudi ally (except against them on Kurdish independence) until the failed 15 July 2016 CIA-backed coup-attempt to replace Turkey’s President Erdogan by a U.S.-Gulen junta that would allow the U.S. aristocracy’s aim of creating a Kurdish nation so as to weaken Syria, Iraq, and Turkey and so allow even more Saudi dominance of the region. Russian intelligence had learned of the coup-plan in advance; and, hours before the coup started, Russian President Putin informed Erdogan that it was about to happen, which saved Erdogan’s life and his regime. This is why Turkey was now cooperating with Russia. (However, Turkey still hasn’t yet left NATO; so, Turkey is now the first and only nation that’s allied with both the U.S. and Russia, at least for the time being. Erdogan, after the coup, is «on the fence». Formerly, he had been pro-U.S., anti-Russia, reliably pro-NATO.)

There was a separate announcement, from Al Jazeera, on January 24th«Astana joint statement by Iran, Russia, Turkey: in Full». It said that the parties:

Reaffirm their commitment to the sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of the Syrian Arab Republic as a multi-ethnic, multi-religious, non-sectarian and democratic State, as confirmed by the UN Security Council;

Express their conviction that there is no military solution to the Syrian conflict and that it can only be solved through a political process based on the implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 2254 in its entirety; …

Reiterate their determination to fight jointly against ISIL/DAESH and Al-Nusra and to separate them from armed opposition groups; …

Support the willingness of the armed opposition groups to participate in the next round of negotiations to be held between the government and the opposition under the UN auspices in Geneva as of February 8, 2017

The resistance, by some religious Muslims, to the Russian delegation’s proposed new Constitution for Syria, which is even more secular than the existing one, caused the February 8th resumption-date in Geneva to be moved back to February 20th.

Here are some provisions of that proposed Russian draft:

* * *

Chapter 1. Basic Principles

Article 1

• The Syrian Republic is an independent sovereign state, based on the principle of the rule of the people by the people and for the people, the rule of law, equality of all before the law, social solidarity, respect for rights and freedoms and equality of rights and duties of all citizens regardless of any differences and privileges. …

Article 2

• The sole source of power in Syria shall be its multinational and multi faith people. … The People of Syria shall exercise their sovereignty in accordance with the Constitution directly by means of a referendum, and through their representatives elected on the basis of universal, equal, direct suffrage by free, secret and personal ballot. …

• No person carrying another nationality, in addition to the nationality of Syria, may occupy the position of a member of the People’s Assembly, a member of the Constituent Assembly, President of the Republic, Prime Minister, a deputy prime minister, a minister, or a member of the Supreme Constitutional Court. …

Article 3

The State shall respect all religions and religious organizations, and ensure the freedom to perform all the rituals that do not prejudice public order. Religious organizations shall be equal before the law. …

Article 5

• The political system of the state shall be based on the principle of political pluralism, and exercising power democratically by secret ballot. …

Article 6

• Ideological diversity shall be recognized in Syria. No ideology shall be proclaimed as State ideology or as obligatory. Public associations shall be equal before the law.

• The State shall ensure security and protect the rights and freedoms of national and religious minorities.

• The establishment and activities of political parties and other public associations whose goals and activities are aimed at the forcible changing of the basis of the constitutional order and at violating the integrity of the State, at undermining its security, at engaging in terrorism, at creating armed units, at instigating religious, social, racial, national, and tribal strife; and that are based on sectarian, regional, class, professional discrimination, or on discrimination by gender or origin, may not be undertaken. Such organizations may not be part of the social and political system in Syria. …

Article 7

• Laws and other legal acts, which are adopted in Syria, must not contradict the Constitution.

• Universally recognized principles and norms of international law as well as international agreements of Syria shall be an integral part of its legal system. …

• Syria shall maintain good neighborly relations with other countries based on cooperation, mutual security and other principles stipulated by international legal rules.

• Syria denounces war as an infringement on other countries’ sovereignty and a means to resolve international conflicts.

Article 10

• The army and other armed forces shall be under public oversight and shall defend Syria and its territorial integrity; they may not be used as an instrument of suppression of the people; they may not interfere in politics or participate in the transfer of power. …

Article 11

• In Syria the freedom of economic activity is guaranteed, and private, State, municipal and other forms of property shall be recognized. Property may not be used to infringe on human and civil rights and freedoms, public and State interests, and human dignity.

• Developing the economy on the basis of different forms of property is aimed at improving the people’s wellbeing. The State shall use market principles to bolster economic development, guarantee freedom of entrepreneurship and prevent monopolization and unfair competition in economic relations. …

• Natural resources shall be publicly owned. The law shall regulate how utilization rights for natural resources or concessions are granted. …

• No discrimination by gender, origin, language or faith shall be allowed. …

• The State shall provide women with all opportunities enabling them to effectively and fully contribute to the political, economic, social and cultural life, and the State shall work on removing the restrictions that prevent their development and participation in building society. …

Article 14

• Protection of the environment shall be the responsibility of the state and society and it shall be the duty of every citizen. …

• The National Bank of Syria is owned exclusively by the State. …

Article 18

• Everyone shall have the right to life, security and freedom and the State shall guarantee these rights. No right can be restricted or denied to a person unless otherwise provided by law and following the decision by the appropriate judicial authority.

• All persons shall be equal before the law without discrimination among them on grounds of gender, race, nationality, origin, color, religion, personal convictions, beliefs or views, and economic and social status. …

Article 20

• Everyone shall have the right freely to seek, receive, transmit, produce and disseminate information by any legal means. In accordance with the law the State ensures freedom of the press and mass media.

• Propaganda or agitation, which incites social, racial, national or religious hatred and hostility, and propaganda of social, racial, national, religious or linguistic supremacy, shall be prohibited. …

Article 22

• Everyone shall have the right to the inviolability of his (her) person, home, personal and family privacy.

• Collecting, keeping, using and disseminating information about the private life of a person shall not be permitted without his (her) consent.

• The State shall guarantee a person’s right to privacy of correspondence, of telephone conversations and of postal, telegraph and other communications. This right may be limited by law to prevent a crime or to uncover the truth when investigating a crime.

• Except when the law says otherwise or when following a court’s order, nobody may enter a home against the will of its occupants. …

Article 23

• Everyone shall have the right to work in conditions, which meet safety and hygiene requirements, and to receive remuneration for labor without any discrimination whatsoever. …

• The law shall regulate employer-employee relations based on economic principles and the norms of social justice.

• The State shall guarantee the right of its people to lawfully form labor associations and unions and to join them. …

Article 26

• Everyone shall be guaranteed social security payments for legal retirement age, in case of illness, disability, loss of breadwinner, incapacitation, unemployment, and in other cases specified by law. Minimum state pensions and social benefits shall be established by law. …

• Everyone has the right to health protection and medical care in state and municipal health institutions. …

• Everyone shall have the right to education. The State shall guarantee free secondary education. …

• Punishment shall be personal; no crime and no punishment except by a law.

• Anyone shall be considered innocent until his (her) guilt is proven and confirmed by a court sentence. …

• No one may be investigated or arrested, except under an order or decision issued by the competent judicial authority. …

• No one may be tortured or treated in a humiliating manner, and the law shall define the punishment for those who do so.

• Any person who is arrested must be informed of the reasons for his arrest and his rights, and may not be incarcerated except by an order of the competent judicial authority.

• Any person sentenced by a final ruling, who has carried out his sentence and the ruling proved wrong shall have the right to ask the state for compensation for the damage he suffered. …

Article 35

• Members of the People’s Assembly shall be elected by the public, secret, direct and equal vote. They shall represent the whole people of Syria. …

Article 49

• The President of the Republic is elected for the term of 7 years by citizens of Syria on the basis of universal, equal, and direct suffrage by secret ballot.

• No person can hold the office of the President of the republic for more than two consecutive terms.

• The candidate who wins the election for the President of the Republic is the one who gets more than one half of votes of those who take part in the elections. If no candidate receives such majority, a rerun is carried out between the two candidates who receive the largest number of votes. …

Article 51

3) the candidacy application shall not be accepted unless the applicant has acquired the support of at least 35 members of the People’s Assembly and (or) the Constituent Assembly. No member of the Assemblies can support more than one candidate. …

Article 59

The President of the Republic might call for a referendum on important issues which affect the higher interests of the country. The result of the referendum shall be binding and come into force as of the date of its announcement by the President of the Republic. …

Article 82

The term in office of the current President of the Republic shall be 7 years from the swearing-in date. He has the right to run again for President of the Republic. The President’s term in office as stated in this Constitution shall apply to him as of the next presidential elections. …

* * *

The U.S. had demanded that the Syrian public be prohibited from being allowed to vote for Bashar al-Assad when elections for Syria’s Presidency will next be held. The U.S. government and its allies had held polls throughout Syria, all of which showed that Assad is by far the preferred person, among all Syrians, to lead the nation. The declaration in Astana commits Syria unqualifiedly to democracy, and also opposes the breaking-up of Syria into ethnic enclaves — Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish — which the U.S. regime (such as in a recent Rand Corporation commentary, but actually ever since at least 1957) had striven for (as the likeliest way to enable the American aristocracy’s allies, the royal families of Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to pipeline their oil and gas through Syria into Europe, and so undercut Russia’s prices in the world’s largest oil-and-gas market — it’s economic war against Russia). (And its being a «Pipeline War» was confirmed in a 3 September 2016 news report from German Economic News, «Energy war over Syria: Fight only along future pipelines».)

Iran, though itself a theocratic-Shiite regime (after the 1953 fascist U.S.-British-installed regime was overthrown in 1979), has never objected to Assad’s secularism. Of course, Russia, a secular nation after having abandoned the Marxist faith in 1990, has no problem at all with a secular ally. Turkey under Erdogan did, however, have a problem with it, until the U.S. tried to overthrow him to help the Sauds and Thanis. But the increased secularism that’s in the Russian-proposed constitutional draft would be especially unacceptable to the jihadists who have been trying to overthrow Assad. Perhaps those jihadists — many if not most of whom have been imported into Syria by the U.S.-Saudi-Qatari alliance — will need to be either killed or expelled from Syria before any such document will be able to be seriously considered. Russia has there, in its proposed draft constitution for Syria, laid down the gauntlet to The West, to decide whose side The West is really on.

Is it on the Sauds’ side, or on Russia’s side?

The swamp strikes back

FEBRUARY 16, 2017

The swamp strikes back

by Pepe Escobar for Sputnik International

The tawdry Michael Flynn soap opera boils down to the CIA hemorrhaging leaks to the company town newspaper, leading to the desired endgame: a resounding victory for hardcore neocon/neoliberalcon US Deep State factions in one particular battle. But the war is not over; in fact it’s just beginning.

Even before Flynn’s fall, Russian analysts had been avidly discussing whether President Trump is the new Victor Yanukovich – who failed to stop a color revolution at his doorstep. The Made in USA color revolution by the axis of Deep State neocons, Democratic neoliberalcons and corporate media will be pursued, relentlessly, 24/7. But more than Yanukovich, Trump might actually be remixing Little Helmsman Deng Xiaoping: “crossing the river while feeling the stones”. Rather, crossing the swamp while feeling the crocs.

Flynn out may be interpreted as a Trump tactical retreat. After all Flynn may be back – in the shade, much as Roger Stone. If current deputy national security advisor K T McFarland gets the top job – which is what powerful Trump backers are aiming at – the shadowplay Kissinger balance of power, in its 21st century remix, is even strengthened; after all McFarland is a Kissinger asset.

This call won’t self-destruct in five seconds

Flynn worked with Special Forces; was head of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA); handled highly classified top secret information 24/7. He obviously knew all his conversations on an open, unsecure line were monitored. So he had to have morphed into a compound incarnation of the Three Stooges had he positioned himself to be blackmailed by Moscow.

What Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak certainly discussed was cooperation in the fight against ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, and what Moscow might expect in return: the lifting of sanctions. US corporate media didn’t even flinch when US intel admitted they have a transcript of the multiple phone calls between Flynn and Kislyak. So why not release them? Imagine the inter-galactic scandal if these calls were about Russian intel monitoring the US ambassador in Moscow.

No one paid attention to the two key passages conveniently buried in the middle of this US corporate media story. 1) “The intelligence official said there had been no finding inside the government that Flynn did anything illegal.” 2) “…the situation became unsustainable – not because of any issue of being compromised by Russia – but because he [Flynn] has lied to the president and the vice president.”

Recap: nothing illegal; and Flynn not compromised by Russia. The “crime” – according to Deep State factions: talking to a Russian diplomat.

Vice-President Mike Pence is a key piece in the puzzle; after all his major role is as insider guarantor – at the heart of the Trump administration – of neocon Deep State interests. The CIA did leak. The CIA most certainly has been spying on all Trump operatives. Flynn though fell on his own sword. Classic hubris; his fatal mistake was to strategize by himself – even before he became national security advisor. “Mad Dog” Mattis, T. Rex Tillerson – both, by the way, very close to Kissinger – and most of all Pence did not like it one bit once they were informed.

A “man of very limited abilities”

Flynn was already compromised by his embarrassingly misinformed book co-written with neocon Michael Ledeen, as well as his juvenile Iranophobia. At the same time, Flynn was the point man to what would have been a real game-changer; to place the CIA and the Joint Chiefs of Staff under White House control.

A highly informed US source I previously called “X”, who detailed to Sputnik how the Trump presidency will play out, is adamant “this decision makes Trump look independent. It is all going according to script.”

“X” stresses how “the NSA can penetrate any telephone system in the world that is not secure. Flynn was a man of very limited abilities who talked too much. You never hear from the real powers in intelligence nor do you know their names. You can see that in Flynn’s approach to Iran. He was disrupting a peace deal in the Middle East relating to Russia, Iran and Turkey in Syria. So he had to go.”

“X” adds, “the Russians are not stupid to talk among themselves on unsecured lines, they assumed that Flynn controlled his own lines. Flynn was removed not because of his Russian calls but for other reasons, some of which have to do with Iran and the Middle East. He was a loose cannon even from the intelligence perspective. This is a case of misdirection away from the true cause.”

In direct opposition to “X”, an analytical strand now rules there’s blood on the tracks; the hyenas are circling; a vulnerable Trump has lost his mojo; and he also lost his foreign policy. Not yet.

In the Grand Chessboard, what Flynn’s fall spells out is just a pawn out of the game because the King would not protect him. We will only know for sure “draining the swamp” – the foreign policy section – is doomed if neocons and neoliberalcons continue to run riot; if neoliberalcons are not fully exposed in their complicity in the rise of ISIS/ISIL/Daesh; and if the much vaunted possibility of a détente with Russia flounders for good.

What’s certain is that the fratricide war between the Trump administration and the most powerful Deep State factions will be beyond vicious. Team Trump only stands a chance if they are able to weaponize allies from within the Deep State. As it stands, concerning the Kissinger grand design of trying to break the Eurasian “threat” to the unipolar moment, Iran is momentarily relieved; Russia harbors no illusions; and China knows for sure that the China-Russia strategic partnership will become even stronger. Advantage swamp.

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