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RichardPrins
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Posted: Jan 29, 2016 - 5:38pm

You Won’t Believe What This US Ambassador Said About al-Qaeda’s Syrian Allies

Robert Ford was US Ambassador to Syria when the revolt against Syrian president Assad was launched. He not only was a chief architect of regime change in Syria, but actively worked with rebels to aid their overthrow of the Syrian government.

Ford assured us that those taking up arms to overthrow the Syrian government were simply moderates and democrats seeking to change Syria’s autocratic system. Anyone pointing out the obviously Islamist extremist nature of the rebellion and the foreign funding and backing for the jihadists was written off as an Assad apologist or worse.

Ambassador Ford talked himself blue in the face reassuring us that he was only supporting moderates in Syria. As evidence mounted that the recipients of the largesse doled out by Washington was going to jihadist groups, Ford finally admitted early last year that most of the moderates he backed were fighting alongside ISIS and al-Qaeda. Witness this incredible Twitter exchange with then-ex Ambassador Ford:

Then late last year the McClatchy News Service ran an article in which Ambassador Ford admitted that his “moderates” regularly collaborated with ISIS and al-Qaeda to the point where he no longer thought the US government should be arming them.

So those who pointed out that the rebellion in Syria was foreign-driven and jihadist from the start were no longer crazy conspiracy theorists, but were rather conspiracy factists.

Did that stop Ford from pushing radicals, though? Hardly!

As the Syria peace talks are scheduled to begin within days in Geneva, with a main sticking point being whether to admit groups that have allied with al-Qaeda to the negotiating table as potential leaders of “new Syria,” it is extremely instructive to recall what Ambassador Ford said about one such group, Ahrar al-Sham, to a BBC interviewer last October.

Ahrar al-Sham, according to experts including those at Stanford University, “was founded by members of Al Qaeda and maintains links to AQ’s core leadership.” The group vigorously rejects the notion of an elected government in Syria after the overthrow of Assad, instead calling for:

…a Divine system prescribed for his Caliph and slaves… It is the system where the rule is for the pure Islamic law. Allah’s law is complete, and you need only consider the texts and derive rules.

Ahrar al-Sham has been reported by Christian rights groups in Syria to have executed Christians in Idlib, Syria, after they captured the town last year. The Christians committed the “crime” of not following Sharia law.

Sounds like a pretty bad group, but nevertheless it still has its Western cheerleaders…including Ambassador Robert Ford!

Here’s Ford in an interview with the BBC last October about Ahrar al-Sham (emphasis added):

Stephen Sackur BBC: “Ok, let me ask bluntly, Ahrar al Sham (The Free Men of Syria) group, one of the most powerful groups you would call “moderate”, is it really moderate when a group like that proclaims its desire to see Sharia as the driving force of a “future Syria”.. which clearly makes comments which suggest that Alawites and Christians would find it very difficult to find a place in their Syria…. Are these moderate?? You regard this as moderation?”

Robert Ford: “This is how I define as a moderate in the Syrian context, Stephen; a moderate is a group that accepts there has to be a political negotiation and there has to be a political process after a transition government is set up.. a political process to determine the future permanent government of Syria.. That there must be pluralism in that process… and it’s one that works with other groups/ factions in a pluralistic setting… I don’t agree at all with Ahrar al Sham’s desires to set up an Islamic State (in Syria).. but I have to admit that they accept the needs to be a political negotiation.. I have to admit they’re willing to work with other groups and they do on the ground with great effect…This is one of the reasons, they’re strong as they are, as you mentioned… It’s not a group I ever want my daughter to marry into… I don’t agree with their vision of society…but I would not call them Jihadis, they’re not looking to impose an Islamic State at sword point… Different, they’re therefore, from al Qaida… Different therefore from the Islamic State..And they’re willing to accept even such things as Parliament…and some kind of government institutions… So, yes they want Sharia … but the kind of Sharia they want may in fact, in the end, not look like the kind of Sharia the “Islamic State” already imposing over most of central and Eastern of Syria…”

Is it any surprise that Syria is in the current disastrous state, where hundreds of thousands have died in a war instigated by those who knew from the beginning would only benefit radical Islamist extremists? Is there no justice for those who push such murder and mayhem on such a grand scale? Today, as civilized people recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day, is Nuremberg dead?

Daniel McAdams is director of the The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity. Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.


RichardPrins
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Posted: Jan 28, 2016 - 1:03pm

Top 5 Ways Putin has won big in Syria and why Europe is embracing him | Informed Comment

Russia is so far winning big in Syria, and making Moscow’s projection of force in the Middle East a reality that the other great powers have to recognize. As Russia has emerged as a major combatant against Syrian al-Qaeda and against Daesh (ISIS, ISIL), it is being accepted back into a Europe traumatized by two major attacks on Paris. France is signalling that it hopes to end sanctions on Russia over Ukraine by this summer. While the Minsk peace process is going all right, the motivation here is to ally more closely with Moscow against Muslim radicals in the wake of Russia’s successes against them in Syria.

Russia’s intervention in Syria last October was in many ways a desperate measure and a gamble. It is said that in mid-summer of 2015, Iranian special forces commander Qasem Soleimani flew to Moscow with a blunt message. The Syrian regime was going to fall if things went on the way they were going and Iran did not have the resources to stop it.

syriaVladimir Putin, still smarting from having lost Libya as a sphere of influence, was determined to stop the fall of Syria.

The regime of Bashar al-Assad has to to control a y-shaped area and set of transportation routes if it is to survive. The ‘Y’ is anchored at the bottom by Damascus, the capital. In its metropolitan area, given shifting population, live around 5 million Syrians who are afraid of the two major forces battling the regime, al-Qaeda (the Nusra Front) and Daesh (ISIS, ISIL).

The trunk of the ‘Y’ stretches up to Homs and then veers off to the left, to the key port city of Latakia. The right branch of the ‘Y’ goes up through Hama to Aleppo, a city of 4 million before the war, which is divided in half, with the west in the hands of the regime.

Controlling this huge ‘Y’ where 70% of Syrians live is a tall order. It is vulnerable at several key points, of which the rebels have attempted to take advantage.

1. Deraa province to the south of Damascus is largely Sunni and rural and its clans could sweep up and take the capital, with Jordanian, US and Saudi support. If that happened, game over.

2. The Army of Islam, backed by Saudi Arabia, has strong positions besieging the capital just to its north. If it could come down into Damascus, game over.

3. If the rebels could take and hold Homs and Qusayr in the middle of the ‘Y’, they could cut Damascus off from resupply by truck from the port of Latakia.

4. If the rebels, who took all of Idlib Province in the northwest last April, could move west from Idlib and take Latakia, they could cut Damascus off from its major port and deny it ammunition, arms, even some foodstuffs.

5. If the rebels can move from south of Aleppo to cut off the road from Hama and strangle West Aleppo, they could take all of the country’s largest city, making it difficult for the regime to survive.

Along this Y set of trunk roads, the most effective fighting force has been al-Qaeda in Syria, which reports to 9/11 mastermind Ayman al-Zawahiri. This affiliate, called the Support Front or the Nusra Front, is formally allied with other Salafi jihadis in the Army of Conquest coalition and is tactically allied with many small groups in what’s left of the Free Syrian Army. The CIA has sent medium weaponry, including T. O. W. anti-tank weapons to 30 “vetted” groups in the FSA, via Saudi Arabia. Many of these weapons have made their way into the hands of al-Qaeda and been used against regime tanks and armored vehicles to devastating effect.

So when Soleimani when to Moscow, it seemed that the road from Hama to West Aleppo had been lost and Aleppo would fall. Al-Qaeda had also made advances in the south, taking al-Sheikh Miskin just south of Damascus, and preparing for a push on the capital. Idlib had fallen and Latakia might well have been next.

So when Putin sent in his air force, it concentrated on protecting the red ‘Y’ in the map above. It mainly hit al-Qaeda, the primary threat to regime control of the Y, but also struck at Free Syrian Army groups backed by the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, which were tactically allied with al-Qaeda. This move was necessary to defend the ‘Y’. It drew howls of protest from Washington, Ankara and Riyadh demanding to know why Russia wasn’t instead targeting Daesh/ ISIL.

The answer was simple. Except at Aleppo and at a point below Hama, Daesh for the most part posed little threat to the ‘Y’. Al-Qaeda and its allies were the big menace, so Putin concentrated on them.

Air support to a determined local ground force can be an effective strategy. It worked for Bill Clinton in Kosovo. It worked for George W. Bush in Afghanistan in 2001, when the US-backed Northern Alliance handily defeated the Taliban. It worked again in March-April 2003, when US air support to the Kurdish Peshmerga guerrillas, allowed them to defeat the Iraqi Baath army in Kirkuk, Mosul and elsewhere in the north.

And so this strategy has been working for Putin. He appears to have rearmed and retrained the Syrian Arab Army, which has new esprit de corps and is making significant headway for the first time in years. It is of course aided by Hizbullah, over from Lebanon, and by a small contingent of some 2000 Iranian spec ops forces (many of them actually Afghan).

So what has the Russian air force accomplished?

1. It allowed the reopening of the road from Hama to West Aleppo, ending the siege of that regime-held part of the city and pushing back the rebels from it.

2. It retook most of Latakia Province, safeguarding the port. Yesterday came the news that the major northern al-Qaeda-held town of Rabia had fallen to the government forces, meaning that Latakia is nearly 100% in government control. These advances into northern Latakia involved hitting Turkmen proxies of Turkey, which is why Turkey shot down a Russian plane last fall. Likely the next step will be to take back cities in Idlib like Jisr al-Shughour, which fell last spring to an al-Qaeda-led coalition, and which could be used as a launching pad for the taking of Latakia port.

3. It strengthened regime control of Hama and Homs, ensuring the supply routes south to Damascus.

4. It hit the Army of Islam as well as al-Qaeda and Daesh around Damascus, forcing the latter two to withdraw from part of the capital and killing Zahran Alloush, leader of the Army of Islam.

5. It hit al-Qaeda and FSA forces in Deraa Province and yesterday the key town of al-Sheikh Miskin fell to the Syrian Arab Army. This is a Deraa crossroads and its loss affects the rebels ability to maneuver in this province.

The Russian air force, in conjunction with Syrian troops and Hizbullah and a few Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps fighters has therefore profoundly braced regime control of the ‘Y’ where most Syrians live and along which the capital’s supplies flow. If in July through September it appeared that the regime could well fall, and quickly, now al-Assad’s minions are on the march, pushing back their opponents.

It shouldn’t need to be said, but I want to underline that the above is analysis, not advocacy. Be that as it may, in the past 4 months, Putin has begun winning in Syria, which means so has al-Assad. And the spillover effects on Russian diplomacy are huge.

No-fly zone
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Posted: Jan 8, 2016 - 4:49pm

War Gains: Bulgarian Arms Add Fuel to Middle East Conflicts :: Balkan Insight

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Posted: Jan 8, 2016 - 1:54pm

Madaya: Syria allows aid to reach city facing starvation, says U.N.

The graphic images of death and starvation coming out of the besieged Syrian town of Madaya have not been independently confirmed by aid groups or CNN. However the United Nations on Thursday said it has received "credible reports" of people dying of starvation and that the Syrian government had agreed to allow aid convoys into the besieged cities of Madaya, Foah and Kefraya.


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Posted: Dec 23, 2015 - 2:45am


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Posted: Nov 20, 2015 - 4:10am

Brilliant!
How do we pay for the refugees?
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 10:14pm

 ScottFromWyoming wrote:

Cud & Paste

 
{#Notworthy}
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 9:46pm

 Steely_D wrote:

(How come I didn't nest all the other responses?)

 
Cud & Paste
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 9:21pm

 ScottFromWyoming wrote:

What's your beef? Just trying to lighten the mood.

 
By being bossy?

(How come I didn't nest all the other responses?)
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 9:05pm

 bokey wrote:
 haresfur wrote:
 Lazy8 wrote:
 ScottFromWyoming wrote:

I will not be cowed!

Kittened, maybe.

  
Just trying to steer the conversation
  
Geez will you quit milking it?There's anudder thread for puns.

 
What's your beef? Just trying to lighten the mood.
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 1:52pm

 haresfur wrote:
 Lazy8 wrote:
 ScottFromWyoming wrote:

I will not be cowed!

Kittened, maybe.

 
Just trying to steer the conversation
 
Geez will you quit milking it?There's anudder thread for puns.
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 1:51pm

 ScottFromWyoming wrote:



 
Not in the moo'd for this udder nonsense,,,
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 1:49pm

 Lazy8 wrote:
 ScottFromWyoming wrote:

I will not be cowed!

Kittened, maybe.

 
Just trying to steer the conversation
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 12:08pm

 ScottFromWyoming wrote:

I will not be cowed!

Kittened, maybe.
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 12:03pm

 Lazy8 wrote:
The vicious sectarian civil war in Syria is reminiscent of an earlier war, next door in Lebanon. Which was fueled, in large part, by the government of Syria as it sought influence and hegemony over the region. Lebanon burned, bled refugees, and suffered. We looked on that (when we looked at all) with horror. The rulers of Syria had blood on their hands.

...

It doesn't change anything that there is more blood on other hands. We can't control what Russia and Iran and Saudi Arabia do, we can only control what we do. And we need to face up to our responsibilities.

We can be just another empire treading heavily around the world, or we can be a force for positive change and a refuge for people who seek it. Even if we could bomb Syria into safety for these people (let's cut to the chase: we can't) asylum would be far cheaper, both in blood and treasure. If they come here they will do as previous waves of refugees have done:make us stronger, smarter, more energetic, more creative. We were afraid of them too.

 
You know it really screws up my concept of reality when I agree with you. {#Wink}

I don't want to trivialize terrorism, but, the generations before us put up with a lot worse for what they believe.
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 10:34am

 meower wrote:

you've been tagged

 

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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 10:26am

 Lazy8 wrote:
 meower wrote:
May I repost this?

Be my guest.

 
you've been tagged
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 10:15am

 meower wrote:
May I repost this?

Be my guest.
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 10:13am

 Lazy8 wrote:
The vicious sectarian civil war in Syria is reminiscent of an earlier war, next door in Lebanon. Which was fueled, in large part, by the government of Syria as it sought influence and hegemony over the region. Lebanon burned, bled refugees, and suffered. We looked on that (when we looked at all) with horror. The rulers of Syria had blood on their hands.

It's tempting to look at a country like Syria and try to take it off the world stage by meddling in its internal politics, as Iran, Russia, the gulf oil sheikdoms, Iran, and now the US and Europe have done. To punish its leaders and eliminate them as a threat. Tempting...until dead babies wash up on your shore.

Which they have. And some live ones are coming too.

We have a large, ugly movement gaining momentum to deny entry to the refugees fleeing this conflict. I'd like to take them at their words, that they are simply afraid of bad actors entering with this crowd, that this isn't just bigotry masquerading as cowardice but actual cowardice. How's that for the benefit of the doubt? I'm being more charitable than they are.

But one thing we can't claim is that these refugees aren't our problem. We don't get to meddle and walk away from the wreckage, not and claim to be moral actors. We fed this fire, doing so with the best of intentions, but there is blood on our hands.

It doesn't change anything that there is more blood on other hands. We can't control what Russia and Iran and Saudi Arabia do, we can only control what we do. And we need to face up to our responsibilities.

We can be just another empire treading heavily around the world, or we can be a force for positive change and a refuge for people who seek it. Even if we could bomb Syria into safety for these people (let's cut to the chase: we can't) asylum would be far cheaper, both in blood and treasure. If they come here they will do as previous waves of refugees have done:make us stronger, smarter, more energetic, more creative. We were afraid of them too.

 
May I repost this?
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Posted: Nov 19, 2015 - 9:48am

 Lazy8 wrote:
The vicious sectarian civil war in Syria is reminiscent of an earlier war, next door in Lebanon. Which was fueled, in large part, by the government of Syria as it sought influence and hegemony over the region. Lebanon burned, bled refugees, and suffered. We looked on that (when we looked at all) with horror. The rulers of Syria had blood on their hands.

It's tempting to look at a country like Syria and try to take it off the world stage by meddling in its internal politics, as Iran, Russia, the gulf oil sheikdoms, Iran, and now the US and Europe have done. To punish its leaders and eliminate them as a threat. Tempting...until dead babies wash up on your shore.

Which they have. And some live ones are coming too.

We have a large, ugly movement gaining momentum to deny entry to the refugees fleeing this conflict. I'd like to take them at their words, that they are simply afraid of bad actors entering with this crowd, that this isn't just bigotry masquerading as cowardice but actual cowardice. How's that for the benefit of the doubt? I'm being more charitable than they are.

But one thing we can't claim is that these refugees aren't our problem. We don't get to meddle and walk away from the wreckage, not and claim to be moral actors. We fed this fire, doing so with the best of intentions, but there is blood on our hands.

It doesn't change anything that there is more blood on other hands. We can't control what Russia and Iran and Saudi Arabia do, we can only control what we do. And we need to face up to our responsibilities.

We can be just another empire treading heavily around the world, or we can be a force for positive change and a refuge for people who seek it. Even if we could bomb Syria into safety for these people (let's cut to the chase: we can't) asylum would be far cheaper, both in blood and treasure. If they come here they will do as previous waves of refugees have done:make us stronger, smarter, more energetic, more creative. We were afraid of them too.

 
{#Clap}
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