Introduction: Prospects for Syria in light of elections and the Geneva talks

© Hassan Ammar/Associated Press
A Syrian woman casts her vote at a polling station during the Syrian parliamentary election in Damascus, Syria, Wednesday, April 13, 2016.

In Syria, elections were carried out last Wednesday, quite free and fair in respect to theprimaries in the US. The numbers of women, Christians, and Sunnis elected ought to dispel the calumnies of the Western press, that the Assad regime is strictly Alawite sectarian. (To begin with, Bashar al-Assad is married to a Sunni.) These elections harbor a tenuous promise that is echoed by the semi-success of the Syrian ceasefire.

However, as the Geneva talks resume, few have hopes for quick permanent fixes. The crucial parties to the negotiations have not yet been settled in a logical manner. Kurds have been sidelined and the Saudi-assembled HNC have been included, and several foreign powers seem intent to pour fuel on the fire of still simmering tensions. Most manifestly, these naysayers and provocateurs include Turkey and Saudi Arabia, but the US and other NATO allies are also continuing their covert support for ISIS, al-Nusra and other terrorist factions. They still want Assad out, and are happy to use the vilest means to get there.

Sad to say, despite a tenuous but mostly successful 6-week ceasefire in Syria, the US and its allies also continue to talk out of both sides of their mouths, as they try to wriggle out of the corner into which they have been forced by the events of the last six months. Having been forced to acknowledge the success of Russia, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its Iranian and Hezbollah allies in mostly clearing the terrorists from the corridor of important cities in the west of Syria, the US now tries to claim credit for these successes as much as the gullible Western press will swallow that lie.

The US State Dept also continues to propose, or threaten rather, a literally and forthrightly divisive “Plan B”, which is essentially the Western Plan A regurgitated in the wake of Assad’s successes. This still envisions the fragmentation of Syria into minute and powerless statelets, including a tiny Alawite one for Assad (not recognizing that much of his cabinet, many of his generals, and most of his army are Sunni, or even Christian.)

The West continues to act in support of several opposing sides of the conflict; “their” Kurds and “their” takfiri terrorists are now fighting each other with US arms, as I mentioned last time. Raytheon can’t complain, but this does not seem just the usual omnivorous profit-seeking motive of the military-industrial complex. Rather, it may reflect deep fissures in the Western alliances, and within the US power structure itself.

Deconstructing US “Walks” and “Talks” Following the Ceasefire

In recent weeks, the US has engaged in sporadic anti-terrorist activity, mainly aimed at high profile terrorist leaders who may harbor incriminating information about their puppet-masters, while continuing to stream arms to its anti-Assad proxies, including ISIS and Jubhat al-Nusra. These are the two groups all parties at Geneva have been forced to conclude are ‘terrorist’. These two groups continue to be fair game even during the truce.

Some US cooperation with Russia is creeping into relations after stark refusals to cooperate six months ago, but this plainly is only because the US is now cornered, its covert operations increasingly rendered overt. The US does not want to be subject to the terrifying “information warfare” waged by Russia against Erdogan after their fighter was shot down over Syria. Kerry gave unusual compliments to Putin recently, and Putin returned them to Obama. Russia and the US are now exchanging intel on Jubhat al-Nusra, even though many, hier bei uns[here with us], are still reluctant to call David Petraeus’ favorite proxy “terrorists”.

In fact, the US is up to its old tricks, even as fresh background has emerged about USArms-Running International, from Eastern Europe to ISIS in Syria and Iraq. Poland plays an important role in this as well as its better-known anti-Russian role as chief puppet belligerent among the old Warsaw Pact members now beholden to “Western democracy”.

In other old news, newly emerging, a former CIA operative who says he had “infiltrated” both Taliban and al-Qaeda, complains that we could havetaken out Assad in 2012 with these connections, but Obama refused to grant the go-ahead.

In other ongoing duplicitous behaviour, the US and its partners continue to engage in a terrorist “catch-and-release” program. You couldn’t get [to] Ankara, Paris or Brussels without the help of police and intel officialdom which is plainly collaborative with Erdogan’s thugs.

I often have commented on the oil-for-arms trade that implicates Turkey most obviously, along with the US Gulf allies, but which also could not operate without Western banks, intelligence agencies, and political apparati. I too have linked several times to VT’s reporting on Turkey’s dismantling and theft of entire Syrian factories. But, perhaps surprising given my background (or expected), I have not mentioned another avenue of terrorist-trade-with-the-West: in stolen antiquities. At least 26 million dollars worth, it is estimated, have been shipped from Syria through Turkey mostly to Western connoisseurs. Erdogan no doubt gets as much a bargain on these as he does ISIS-Barzani oil thefts from Baghdad and Damascus.

Despite a few high profile attacks on ISIS compounds and leaders, US forces have been caught supplying and supporting the terrorists in numerous ways over the last several weeks of “ceasefire.” Iraqi police have photographed US aircraft dropping “tons of weapons” to ISIS groups, in one report. US food shipments have been found in the Beiji oil refinery in Iraq, recently re-captured from ISIS, in another. In Yemen, the US also continues to supply ISIS in a time-honored way, by leaving vast quantities behind while suddenly fleeing. Several accounts report ongoing shipments of US weapons and supplies to Jubhat al-Nusra, the other terrorist group outside the ceasefire.

“PLAN B”

This is in fact, precisely what the US has said it would do, in so many words. We must merely note that it continues to call ISIS and al-Nusra “moderate rebels” when it makes public announcements about fresh attempts to send weapons and recruits to Syria. As the Wall Street Journalreported, telling more than it knows, “the CIA and its regional partners” plan to ship more powerful weapons to Syria, including the anti-aircraft weaponry McCain has requested many times. (In fact, the Turkish intel agency MIT operates with the same impunity and autonomy and perhaps independent sources of illegal funding that the CIA does). Now, think about flying over the Middle East with Manpads in the hands of these nutcases and mercenaries.

“Diplomatically”, the State Department threatens a Plan B of Syrian fragmentation while militarily the Pentagon has revived its arm-and-equip training program for ‘rebels’. If the Obama-Dempsey consensus was to let the proxies do our fighting, and the nagging Bushies and Clintonites were ‘boots on the ground’ kind of people, present policy seems to be “a little bit of everything.“The US continues to enhance its military operations and that of its allies both in eastern Europe and the Middle East. B-52s, great for carpet bombing, are going to the US airbase in Qatar.

Twelve US generals are already in Iraq. After keeping the US presence under wraps, officials now admit several thousand troops are in Iraq, and several dozen SpecOps in Syria. The actual numbers are have been much higher, of course, but now Obama announces that more troops and Apache helicopters — all unasked for and unwanted by the Iraqi government — are headed that way. Even though in respect to the CIA (10,000 terrorists trained and equipped), the Pentagon failed miserably to put viable fighters on the ground (only “four or five”; that’s single digits, not hundreds or thousands), General Allen is braving ridicule and proposing to dust off the old program and give it another go.

Far more threatening than the curiously inept Pentagon programs are those hailing from Langley, VA. The CIA is leading the movement to supply our terrorist proxies with anti-aircraft weaponry. This comes as the US tells Russia to back off from its ceasefire attacks on al-Nusra in Aleppo, because some FSA fighters, protected by the truce, have been embedded with al-Nusra and are dying in the SAA attacks. These FSA now sue for renewed war.

© AFP 2016/ Fabrice Coffrin

Plan B is ready and will be operative if the truce fails, CIA director John Brennan toldRussian officials. This bellicosity is echoed by the State Department and the White House in a rare synchronization of rhetoric. “All bets will be off” Brennan says, and “the outside patrons will double and triple down” throwing more lethal weaponry, including anti-aircraft missiles, into Syria. Of course, all sides fail to say that those “outside patrons” include US, as well as the fingered, but unnamed Turkey and Saudi Arabia.

Of course, it is easy to see the US is doing everything it can to undermine the ceasefire so it may proceed with Plan B, identical in most respects to the Deconstruct Syria plan of Brookings Institute resident idiot Michael O’Hanlon. You can see him here on Peter LaVelle’s Crosstalk, avoiding questions and withering under the criticism of the host and guests Michael Maloof, and Kamal Alam.

Plan B is the Deconstruct Syria plan of fragmentation in the guise of federalization. It is an old tactic of the ‘divide-and-conquer’ type; a set of petite mini-states unable to oppose Israel and other allied interests. These plans are various; those emanating from Israel are well-known predecessors to O’Hanlon’s, but also plans for a strictly Syrian Kurdistan, under Ankara’s thumb in the manner of Erbil, has been a long-runningjoint venture of France’s neo-colonial elites and Turkey.

Houses Divided at Home: Karmic Retribution

If Iraq and Syria are houses divided, so has the US been similarly cursed, a befitting karmic retribution. The ‘battles’ between neo-cons and liberal interventionists in 21st century US policy have been pillow fights mostly; they agreed that world conquest and plunder was the aim but differed only on the means.

A deeper fissure now perhaps appears between the insane and the merely imperial, the chickenhawks, Pentagon warhawks and the CIA leadership on the one side, and those who realize what the global chessboard really looks like on the other. Some still hope and pray for the arrival of the mythical ‘white hats’ in these agencies who actually intend to work with Russia to clean Syria of ISIS and other terrorist factions and who actually respect national sovereignty of foreign nations and international law. Don’t hold your breath.

At least we must ask, if the fact that the US both supports and occasionally batters ISIS reflects a duplicitous or a fragmented policy, or rather, if it reflects two entirely separate policies and strategies conjured up by entirely different factions within the military and intel ‘communities.’

As the battle for northern Syria enters its final chapter, Pentagon-backed Kurds are now battling CIA-backed al-Nusra fighters, even as Turkish backed Turkmen battle Turkish backed ISIS in order to forestall the Kurdish re-possession of their homelands.

While the US press makes the US out to be the only rational player in the area, readers of alternative and world press are aware that, on the whole, the US strikes the most bellicose pose, not only in Syria and along other parts of the Russia frontier, but in the South China Sea as well.

Before addressing further ‘what divides Obama’s house’, let us look at the official ‘unified’ line on dividing Syria.

Certainly Turkey and Saudi Arabia, both teetering in their official approval ratings, still have avid supporters in the administration, and by all appearances, especially in the CIA. This long has been a command center of the Bush syndicate and the neo-con paranoiac-aggressive complex. Indeed, the CIA was the operational front of Empire even in the preceding Age of Allen Dulles.

The “deconstruct Syria” narrative is maintained on the basis, in part, of a historical lie, that ancient and in-erasable Sunni-Shi’a difference is behind the problem that only US conquest and asset-stripping can solve. (In fact, under the Ottomans and for most centuries previous, Sunni and Shia, Alawi and Druze, Christian and Jew, occupied Syria peacefully with many sects among each group.

Ex-Pentagon chief Robert Gates recently reiterated the false narrative that the rise of ISIS was due to the anti-Sunnism of the Iraqi government under PM al-Maliki. We may agree that sectarian tensions were greatly exacerbated by the destruction of Iraq by US forces, without suggesting that Sunnis necessarily become liver-eating idolators when Shi’a assume the Prime Ministry.

This contradicts DIA reports, confirmed by Defence Intelligence Agency chief General Michael Flynn, that the rise of assessment also ISIS was the“willful intent” of US officialdom, despite the contrary wishes of his agency. (As I mentioned last post, the DIA seems to have its head on relatively straight. It was on their recommendation that Obama backed off on attacking Damascus in 2013 in the wake of shoddy intel concerning the chemical weapons attacks in Ghouta.) Much the same message is found in Sy Hersh’s articles on the Obama administrations support for radical and unvetted extremists to throw at Assad.

But lo and behold, a process of Syrian unification is actually occurring on the ground, as the recent elections testify, and military successes foretell further gains. Do the deconstructionists recognize this? They would like not to.

With Russian air support the SAA took back the ancient desert emporium, Palmyra, from ISIS. The US State Department spokesman Mark Toner was simply unable to contain his ambivalence or rather displeasure about the change of hands of Palmyra, the crucial capture before a projected attack on Deir Ezzor. Now, the US is now asking Russia to go easy on the terrorists in Aleppo however, even though most belong to Jubhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda in Syria, with whom General Petraeus publically called for alliance several months back.

Bona-fide US attitudes are also mirrored in their support for terrorist groups still represented in international negotiations. For instance, Jaysh al-Islam, which all sides acknowledge used chemical weapons against Kurdish civilians last week, continues to be claimed as ‘moderate’ by the West and its disruptive antics supported at Geneva.

Duplicity is characteristic throughout the US-led alliance. So is internal division, just what they wish on their principle ‘others.’

Of course, Turkey’s support for the terrorists of Syria and Iraq will continue at least as long as the House of Erdogan (so different that the House of Osman and so much like the House of Bush) subsists in power in Turkey. However, in this war of all against all (just what the corporate military complex loves) Erdogan’s proxies for once have taken active measures against ISIS, with which, as we have several times reported, Erdogan long has carried on a lucrative arms-for-oil business, with the help of the Barzani regime in Erbil, BP, HSBC, and steady Israeli oil purchases.

In this case, hatred for the Kurdish YPG ran deeper than love of takfiri terrorism. If the Kurds control the northern Syria borders, this will constitute an existential threat for Turkey as dire as the mere existence of Russia does for the US neo-cons.The SAA continues to inch towards the capture of Aleppo, and, with the help of the Kurds, to seal off the supply corridors north to Turkey. ISIS and al-Nusra, both equipped with US arms by Turkey, have been hit hard in these areas.

So, in recent weeks, Turkey pushed its Turkmen proxies to pre-empt a Kurdish occupation of former takfiri terrorist territory on its southern frontiers. Unfortunately for them, their acclaimed capture of the town of al-Rai from ISIS, was reversed a few days later. As we will see, Turkey is not the only country whose proxies and perhaps national operatives are working on both sides of the conflict. The US is similarly dis-united.

Until Azaz and the border regions north of Aleppo are taken, fresh ‘rebel’ recruits, and steady arms shipments will continue to enter Syria through these routes, even though they seem ever less capable of replacing takfiri losses. Nevertheless, the steady supplies enflame a Syria in truce only in precious portions of the country.

Russia and Syria in the views of US officialdom : Between Bellicosity and Deceit

The US press has adjusted its tone, just slightly, in regards to Putin, and has been forced to regard his Syrian intervention more positively. So has US officialdom in a more constrained fashion, even as many still hold to the old US tenets that Assad must go, and ISIS may stay. Obama concurred with Jeffrey Goldstein in his legacy Atlantic interview that the Russian leader who has so badly outplayed the West on the world stage was “nasty, brutish, and short,” but Kerry recently acknowledged he had learned something from his trip to Moscow, where he was ribbed by Putinfor “carrying his own baggage”, a mysterious briefcase Kerry clutched while descending from the plane upon arrival for meetings with Putin and Russian officials.

Following those meetings, Kerry said: “It’s fair to say that today we have a better understanding of the decisions made by Russian President Vladimir Putin and recognize which path we should take going forward. …We have before us a long path, but I’m leaving with a better understanding of what steps we need to implement with our partners.”

Kerry rarely pronounces words in Moscow that are not reversed once he returns to DC. His are the threats that a Plan B, including the partition of Syria to be achieved by renewed supplies of arms to rebels, is forthcoming if the ceasefire does not hold. At the same time, the US does all it can to undermine the ceasefire, and justify its meddling with words contrived narratives and well-practiced bellicosity.

Though the CIA is the main operational front of US terrorist support, the Pentagon is the less competent face of “train-and-equip” programs, and its top brass the brassiest voices of imperial delusions. General Breedlove, soon thankfully to be relieved of his command of US NATO forces in Europe, continues his usual brand of paranoiac and apocalyptic threats. The Department of Defense has enwrapped the globe with its military and therefore Breedlove follows protocol in calling offense defense and deterrence aggression.Calling the build-up of US and NATO forces in Europe along the Russian border a transition from “assurance to deterrence”, Breedlove remains among the most histrionic of the “Russians are coming” delusional factions of the over-armed US military elite.

Even though it is an ocean and a continent away from the US, Russia also constituted an “existential threat” for the US during last year’s confirmation hearing for a seemingly more reasonable General Dunford, Obama’s new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

While the call for fresh US troops and arms for “moderate rebels” can be heard across the spectrum of US officialdom and the military brass, the US simultaneously has been trying to take credit for the decimation of ISIS by Russian, Iranian, and SAA forces. General Dunford testified before Congress that “better intelligence” is the reason for “our” great recent successes. This testimony came before Warhog-in-Chief John McCain’s Senate Armed Services Committee, the principle above-the-board appropriations platform for terrorist funding through the Pentagon. (Vastly larger resources are channeled, more covertly, through the CIA, as my posts at the end of last year reported.)

In less vituperative environments, Dunford has followed his “cautious” predecessor General Martin Dempsey, in urging restraint with US overseas adventures, at least when they involve US “boots on the ground”, the favorite de-humanizing characterization of our day. (As in “lost a couple more boots today”) He has also acknowledged the serious limitations of the present command structure, the implicit mea culpa needed to explain the poor showing of the US and its 62-country coalition in Syria, in respect to the efficient campaign carried out with minimal concrete intervention by the Russians.

Of course, the official narrative still assumes we are actually fighting ISIS, not supplying and supporting them. The US’ true feelings are expressed more in its reluctance to congratulate Syria and Russia on the re-capture of Palmyra.

These two-faced charades hide a duplicitous US power elite — or perhaps, an internally divided and violently feuding one. Certainly, the participants of a crumbling alliance of NATO members, Israel, and the West’s Sunni Gulf puppets, are also jockeying and bickering. Many indications suggest the US is ready to hang the Saudis out to dry, if the pseudo-serious 60 Minutes is now broaching the subject of the infamous 28 pages redacted on the Senate 9/11 report, then changes may be afoot. (These pages will tell us very little we do not already know, however they will bring Prince Bandar “Bush” and Prince Turki and the whole sordid issue back into public awareness.)

The US press also condemns a few of the most egregious of Turkish Boss of Bosses Erdogan’s abuses; the Russian information onslaught, showing the family’s trade in terror is a potato too hot for the US to handle. Thereby Ankara now is shaking hands with Israel, its truest friend in the region (As far as Erdogan personally was concerned, his association with the Gaza relief vessel Mavi Marmara was for show. IMHO, he has always been a man of Zion, probably a dönme).

The cease-fire, the partial Russian withdrawal, the Western failure to completely command the Geneva talks, were but the latest shocks to set the US and its allies back on their heels, exposing an ever greater gap between word and deed in each of them, and an gap in sovereign interests between them.

After the issue was raised by Donald Trump in his blasts against the Bush family, 9/11 has tentatively re-emerged as a domestic campaign meme, and in recent days, has quickly re-cast US relations with the House of Sa’ud. After the US threatened to expose Saudi Arabia’s (actually minor) role in 9/11, the Warrior Prince Muhammad bin Salman (Escobar’s title) has said he would start dumping US Treasuries the day after. King Salman, of course, smiles on with a senile gaze.

Economic ‘Blowback’ (Or was that also planned?)

Odd coincidence that. This may play into a larger set of chaotic strategizations underway across a globe already well into WW3. Tomorrow, on Tuesday April 19 China is going to open the new Shanghai Gold Fix, which will provide an alternative to the obviously corrupt Western based systems. These have kept the price of gold artificially low in respect to the reserve currency, the US paper petro-dollar. This is a fiat currency made increasingly worthless with QE, but since it is reserve currency of the world’s single hyperpower, it remains irrationally ‘strong’ in the currency markets. Since their debt is in dollars, the airy-fairy dollar rise over the last years is increasingly debilitating for many countries, especially the emerging market economies associated with BRICS whose revenues are dependent on commodity prices, now falling precipitously.

As tensions are really ramping up in the South China Sea and around the world, a few speculate that the Chinese may not stop with the gold fix, but may that very day also announce a new gold-backed yuan, aiming to replace the US dollar and ultimately collapse it. While the US public is taught to regard precious metals as “so 19th century”, many elites — and sovereign funds — are desperately accumulating them. This week too, already-troubled and junk-derivative dependent Deutsche Bank admitted guilt in the manipulation of silver markets, and then a few hours later, of gold markets. DB swore it would identify other culprits. It will be hard to find big banks who weren’t involved, I imagine. Central banks are also implicated. Ben Bernanke’s former advisor said recently the US public would be stunned to know to what degree the Federal Reserve is privately owned. Most of the creme de la creme of US banks have recently failed their “living will” exams. The Fed has sent a “frightening” letter to JP Morgan (stocking up on precious metals), but this went unreported in the US press.

According to unofficial reports but a good deal of evidence, the Chinese have accumulated 20-30,000 tons of gold while our 8000+ likely has been stolen. (That’s why we don’t ‘audit the Fed’.) China certainly has vastly more than the 3000+ tons officially announced since they mine 500/year. If the Chinese do eventually present the world with a gold-backed yuan, declaring open war far beyond the present currency wars, then one would assume they too would start dumping US Treasury bonds, like the Sa’ud are threatening to do if we release the 9/11 report on them. Death of the dollar would be days away.

Now this full combo of actions would be an economic nuclear strike, as it were, so I don’t think its likely, but the new gold fix by itself is big news, a major blow to the imperial corporate state run out of banking houses in the US and Europe. Hopefully its effects, which will surely see sharp rises in gold and a falling of faith in the phoney-money of the fiat dollar system, will be muted. The petrodollar was backed only by US military might, but the prodigal and magical age of QE and ZIRP revealed to me and many others its inherently worthless character, just like that of the gangbankster scum who have run this country unopposed since the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913. The death of the dollar will be the curtain call of the US Empire, whether that occurs this week, this year, or this decade. Hopefully it won’t play out too chaotically and too violently, and hopefully a quick awakening to the historical causes will lead to quick action towards resolution. Nevertheless, it is amazing we are so far into WW3 and most of America has not yet woken up to the fact.

About the author

Steven Wolf is an Ottoman urban historian. He writes geopolitical commentary about ongoing events in Turkey and Syria, his areas of historical specialization, at CaravansarayPosts.com.