In bid to save proxy forces in Syria, US discusses pact with Russia

United States Secretary of State John Kerry met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow Thursday evening for discussions over a US-Russian military pact in relation to Syria. The pact had been proposed by the Obama administration in early July.

The Obama administration is, in words at least, holding out the offer of a common front against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the Al Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate. The White House proposal includes the establishment of a joint US-Russian command center, located in the US-allied Kingdom of Jordan, which would run “integrated operations,” supposedly coordinating military and intelligence operations in Syria.

Since Russia launched its bombing campaign in Syria in September 2015, Washington has accused it of focusing on the so-called moderate opposition, elements armed and funded by the CIA and US regional allies, who are in most cases in alliance with the Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate and encamped directly alongside it. Moscow’s repeated requests for the Pentagon to provide coordinates for the so-called moderates so that it could avoid striking them have until now invariably been rejectedIn exchange for the proposed American collaboration, Russia would scale back its bombing campaign, insist that Assad end most operations by the Syrian Air Force and accept a military cooperation agreement that would give Washington some degree of control over the targeting of Russian strikes.

In comments to media, the two, Kerry and the Russian president, issued dubious assurances that an agreement, in some form, is at hand. Putin expressed “hope” that “progress” and “possible headway” would emerge from the talks.

“Hopefully, we’ll be able to make some genuine progress that is measurable and implementable and that can make a difference in the course of events in Syria,” Secretary Kerry said.

Whatever promises are made by the White House, it is impossible to believe that the US will engage in a serious joint bombardment with Russia against Al Nusra. Such a campaign would devastate the leading anti-Assad formation, closing the book on the insurgency fomented against Damascus by Washington.

According to Faisal Itani of the Atlantic Council, “combined attacks against Nusra would effectively end the Syrian opposition, cementing Mr. Assad’s grip on power.”

The Nusra group has functioned as an instrument of the US war plan since the beginning of the imperialist-orchestrated insurgency in 2011. Al Nusra has emerged as “one of the most effective anti-Assad forces,” and the proposed deal would “bring American firepower to bear against the strongest anti-Assad military force and a sometime partner of Washington’s allies,” the New York Times reported on Friday.

The White House proposals represent a tactical maneuver, aimed at salvaging the remnants of the anti-Assad forces, the backbone of which is composed of ISIS and the Al Qaeda-linked Nusra fighters.

Nonetheless, the fact that the Obama administration has offered such a deal is significant in itself, powerfully underscoring the disastrous position of the American-backed forces on the ground. The Russian-backed Syrian military is tightening the noose around the American-backed opposition forces, and Syrian Army units are encircling opposition militias inside the key city of Aleppo, trapping hundreds of thousands of civilians in the process.

A US-Russian coordination pact would enable Washington to manage and constrain the Russian air campaign, in a last-ditch effort to preserve some portion of the opposition until after the upcoming 2016 US elections. Once the political hurdle of the election has passed, a newly installed presidential administration will have a free hand to escalate the war, renewing the push against Damascus through fresh deployments of US ground troops and an intensified air campaign.

Whatever the twists and turns in its short-term policy, the American ruling class will never willingly accept the re-stabilization of the Assad government or indeed the consolidation of any Russian-aligned regime in Damascus, which Washington views as an obstacle to US hegemony in the Middle East.

Factions of the US elite clearly remain committed to the violent overthrow of Assad, and deeply hostile to any compromise with the Putin government. As the Times noted Friday, the Obama plan “has generated deep unease at the Pentagon and in some quarters of the State Department.”

By Thomas Gaist

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/07/16/ussy-j16.html

 

M.A.

 

The West’s ‘Massacre of the Innocents’ in Syria

On the 12th of May a massacre was committed in the town of al-Zara in the southern countryside of Hama, Syria. Women and children were slaughtered by Takfiri death squads branded by the Western media as ‘moderate rebels’. There was no mention of the massacre in the Western press. There was no need to mention it because it was of no use to them. Often, the Western-backed terrorists film their massacres or post pictures of the dead children on social media. These pictures are then displayed across all the front pages of corporate newspapers and flashed across television screens. People’s emotions are aroused.

Al-Nusra being presented to West as ' moderate'

After splitting with Al-Qaeda, Al-Nusra is being presented to the West as a moderate force. It’s nothing of the sort. The jihadist force's reputation is being cleaned up, to suggest it is deserving of CIA support

So ol‘ Doc Ayman al-Zawahiri, Osama bin Laden’s chief executive successor, has told the Syrian Jabhat al-Nusra that it can dissociate itself from Al-Qaeda. Good public relations: Nusra doesn’t like the Isis “caliphate” very much, but as long as it remains a Qaeda clone, it can’t get off America’s terrorist list and qualify to join the (non-existent) 70,000 Syrian “moderates” dreamed up by David Cameron and a lot of American television networks.

Qatar's relations with Nusra raises questions. It denies direct ties with the group, and yet six months ago the Qatari Al-Jazeera channel interviewed Nusra’s leader, Mohamed al-Jolani, who said that it had nothing against Christians, Alawites or Americans.

Have no doubts about the Qatar link. Nusra boys have just released three Spanish journalists held in northern Syria for the past 10 months, after which the Qatari state news agency boasted that the Qatari authorities were involved in freeing them. You bet they were. Had the unlucky three fallen into the hands of those other morbid sons-of-the-desert, Isis (for whom many Saudis seem to have an unhappy affection), then the reporters would have had their throats cut on videotape against a soundtrack of yet more mushy "nasheed" music. 

When a group of Christian nuns fell into Nusra hands in Syria in 2013, Qatar helped to bail them out via Lebanon – at a reported price of more than $1m a nun – and was duly thanked by the Lebanese security authorities. If readers are getting a little bit suspicious, perhaps wondering if the Qataris are trying to take over the armed Syrian opposition from Isis and its Saudi Salafist brothers, they may well be right.

The Unspoken Truth is that America is Supporting Al Qaeda

By: Tim Anderson

Heavy Propaganda Rages in the Battle for Aleppo and the Terrorists Are Portrayed as “Freedom Fighters”

Heavy propaganda accompanies the strategic battle in Aleppo between the Syrian Army and its allies (Russia, Iran, Hezbollah and other supporting forces) and the Saudi-Turkey-NATO backed terrorist groups (Jabhat al Nusra, Jaysh al Islam, Ahrar as Sham and ISIS).

Fighting escalated in late April when the armed groups sent hundreds of mortars into Syria’s second city, and the Syrian Army responded with its long awaited offensive.

Western media now claim that Aleppo’s citizens are under threat from the Syrian Army, while Syrian sources show civilians, reeling from constant mortar attacks, demanding that the Army roots out all terrorist groups.

Former Qatari PM's bombshell on Syria revisited

The former Qatari prime minister’s bombshell in a recent interview with the Financial Times largely went unnoticed but Arab observers are calling for explanations about the Saudi role in the Syria crisis.

Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim Al Thani suggested that the 2012 crisis in Syria, which has claimed about 400,000 lives so far, was a political game and not a revolution as claimed by the West and its allies.

How US covered up Saudi role in 9/11

In its report on the still-censored “28 pages” implicating the Saudi government in 9/11, “60 Minutes” last weekend said the Saudi role in the attacks has been “soft-pedaled” to protect America’s delicate alliance with the oil-rich kingdom.

That’s quite an understatement.

Actually, the kingdom’s involvement was deliberately covered up at the highest levels of our government. And the coverup goes beyond locking up 28 pages of the Saudi report in a vault in the US Capitol basement. Investigations were throttled. Co-conspirators were let off the hook.

Case agents I’ve interviewed at the Joint Terrorism Task Forces in Washington and San Diego, the forward operating base for some of the Saudi hijackers, as well as detectives at the Fairfax County (Va.) Police Department who also investigated several 9/11 leads, say virtually every road led back to the Saudi Embassy in Washington, as well as the Saudi Consulate in Los Angeles.

Yet time and time again, they were called off from pursuing leads. A common excuse was “diplomatic immunity.”

Those sources say the pages missing from the 9/11 congressional inquiry report — which comprise the entire final chapter dealing with “foreign support for the September 11 hijackers” — details “incontrovertible evidence” gathered from both CIA and FBI case files of official Saudi assistance for at least two of the Saudi hijackers who settled in San Diego.

Some information has leaked from the redacted section, including a flurry of pre-9/11 phone calls between one of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego and the Saudi Embassy, and the transfer of some $130,000 from then-Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar’s family checking account to yet another of the hijackers’ Saudi handlers in San Diego.

Divided PLO unable to manage Yarmouk crisis

 

The invasion by ISIS of the Palestinian settlement of Yarmouk, in the southern suburbs of Damascus, has exposed serious divisions within the Palestinian leadership. An apparent agreement to confront the new crisis, with the Syrian Government, was rapidly disowned by the PLO leadership in Ramallah.

In the absence of a united Palestinian response it is highly likely that the Syrian Army, with allied Palestinian factions, will impose a ‘security solution’ to the area. This may mean near complete evacuation of the area and heavy bombardment. Only about 18,000 of the pre-crisis population of 160,000 actually remain inside Yarmouk.

PLO Executive Committee member Ahmed Majdalani on 9 April announced a joint Syrian and PLO response to the ‘obscurantist terrorists’ who had seized the camp. He said the Syrian leadership had been dealing with Yarmouk ‘with a high level of sensitivity’ given its special status and as it symbolically stands as the capital of Palestinian Diaspora’. Because of that sensitivity, there had been no ‘security solution’ so far. However all attempts at a ‘political solution’ had been aborted by the terrorist groups.

Within hours the PLO in Ramallah effectively washed its hands of the matter, saying that it refused to ‘drag our people and their camps into the hellish conflict that is taking place in Syria’.  Yet some sectarian Palestinian groups bear great responsibility for the Yarmouk crisis.  They were the ones who invited Jabhat al Nusra snipers into Yarmouk, leading to Syrian Army security clamp-downs on the area.