A de facto ceasefire between the US and the SAG


 "On December 27, UK Army Major General Felix Gedney, deputy commander of strategy and support in the US-led coalition, announced during a press briefing that the coalitions will not conduct operations in the areas held by the Damascus government.

“We will continue to prevent conflicts with Russians, but we don’t intend to continue operations in areas controlled by Assad,” Maj. Gen. Felix Gedney said, according to the Russian news agency Sputnik.

During the briefing, Maj. Gen. Gedney also accused the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) of allowing ISIS fighters to move through its areas north of the US-led coalition base in al-Tanaf, near the Syrian-Iraqi border. Moreover, the US-led coalition commander called on the SAA to clear these areas from ISIS.

“We are seeing the movement of a limited number of militants westwards. They seem to be moving with impunity through the regime-held territory, showing that the regime is clearly either unwilling or unable to defeat Daesh [ISIS]within their borders,” Maj. Gen. Gedney said.

The US-led coalition is trying to establish the current situation in eastern Syria as a de-facto border between the SAA and the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). This could be the first step in a US plan to separate the SDF-held areas from Syria in order to form a Kurdish-dominated enclave within the country."  SF


Pilgrims, we have been indicating here at SST that there is a tacit understanding between DJT and the Rooshians as to a desired outcome in Syria.  Like just about all successful lone wolf entrepreneurs he does not tell "his people," (in this case; Tillerson, McMaster, Mattis et al) what he is really going to do.  From his point of view, why should he?  They probably would try to foist some fancy-pants theory off on him when all he wants is a good deal.  From his point of view they are all flunkies.  Haley may think what he tell her is literally true. She doesn't care.  The big apartment in the Waldorf Towers is its own reward.   No wonder he wants fewer bureaucrats!  Ah, a revelation!

In this case, the war in Syria will end with the "processing" of yet more jihadis by the SAG and its allies (R+6) in a variety of pockets around the country and generally west of the Euphrates watershed. Idlib will continue to be a main focus.   While that occurs the US led coalition will hang onto the country east of the Euphrates and north of Raqqa until the various diplomatic processes yield an agreement that contains an autonomous area for the SDF/YPG.  Turkey will not be happy, but tant pis pour eux.  I never said that Turkey would be successful in using its weapons purchases as leverage against Russia.  Russia is too big, too near and probably offers the best deals for that to work, and they have Putin.

My friends tell me that actual foreign policy in the DJT era rolls downhill from The Boss wherever he might be and often arrives at theater level as an unexplained surprise.  Well, tant pis pour eux aussi.  In this case a Brit general was sent out to talk about this policy so that the Americans (probably unhappy about it) would not have to do so.  pl 


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57 Responses to A de facto ceasefire between the US and the SAG

  1. Heros says:


    “General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s general staff and deputy defense minister, said Wednesday that the U.S. was gathering defeated ISIS fighters in order to regroup the militants under a new banner and challenge the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad”

    Just as with the relocation of the US embassy to Jerusalem, if Trump is acting on his own accord, it won’t have anything to do with “America First”. It looks to me like once again the US is being set up as a dupe for another war for Israel. Syria seems to be a diversion for now, the real cross hairs having always been on Iran.

  2. nard says:

    …maybe got a dose of reality after the Russians just painted our F-22’s with SA-300 batteries in eastern Syria? (almasdar report)

  3. turcopolier says:

    Sid Finster
    They don’t get to decide and that is why you don’t tell them what you intend to do. pl

  4. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Col. Lang, SST;
    I wonder what the ziocons want with such an abbreviated enclave. It will be very hard to supply. Unless this kurdish enclave gets a path to the Med, and has the means to buy the Arabs and Turkomans in the area -both rather unlikely scenarios- they might be unable to sustain themselves. The economic position of Iraqi kurds is one data point.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  5. pl,
    I don’t see this announcement as a change in US policy, just a logical step in the changing nature of the war in Syria. That changing nature is dictated by R+6 actions rather than anything the US has done. The US and Russia have been working under a deconfliction regime for quite a while now with the goal of preventing any US-Russia incidents.
    The difference in the US approach is our recent announcement of dropping support for the FSA. Unfortunately, I fear we are just replacing one unicorn herd for another. We seem to be still organizing, equipping and directing the New Syrian Army around Shaddadi and Tanf as an armed opposition to Assad. That was one of the main points of Gerasimov’s latest interview.
    In another report by A. Dunon, a long time reporter of Kurdish news, I see that a “YPG commander Sipan Hamo is in Moscow on an official visit to participate in a ceremony where he will be given medal by Russia for being commander during YPG’s fight against ISIS. Hamo is expected to take part in a series of meetings while in Moscow.” This appears to be another step by Russia to woo the Kurds over to an accommodation with Assad.
    Bottom line is that I doubt the US or Trump’s position has fundamentally changed. We still insist that Assad must go as an appeasement to Israel. With the current Israeli effort to appeal to Trump’s ego by naming stuff in his honor, I don’t see Trump changing this long standing US policy.

  6. Hood Canal Gardner says:

    Pat..is it a “wait and see” or a pretty much “given” that DT is in way over his head in cleaning-out the cold war librarians and their benefactors. Ie where would they go to play monopoly “if.”

  7. Fredw says:

    “They probably would try to foist some fancy-pants theory off on him..”
    Syria is one area in which I have a lot of sympathy for this attitude. If Trump were to argue that the US military and intelligence professionals have repeatedly pursued utterly incompetent programs, then I would be forced to agree. Since it was established (at the start) that there was no consensus on an outcome acceptable to us, US actions have been increasingly unhinged from the actual balance of forces. Why did we put resources into schemes so obviously doomed to failure?

  8. Sylvia 1 says:

    Colonel–I noted you stated above “and they have Putin”. I don’t know if you would be willing to share, or to take the time to respond–but I what is your assessment of Vladimir Putin?
    I understand if you chose not to respond. I ask because we read and hear lots of what can be called meme’s, factoids, and “permanent lies” designed to demonize Putin and Russia. Most of this seems contrary to what I have gleaned from reading his interviews, speeches, and and from extensive reading focusing on the period after the fall of the USSR. I have just become involved in an organization that sponsors people to people contacts between the US and Russia in hopes of improving US/Russian relations. Talking with people who have traveled extensively in Russia and who have had contact with thousands of Russians–I don’t see much support for all this demonization.
    I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.
    BTW–here’s a brief history of the organization I referred to above. https://ccisf.org/brief-history/

  9. robt willmann says:

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had an interview published by the Interfax group today (28 December) in which he basically repeats Russia’s position on Syria. He does mention having more talks about Syria in Sochi, Russia, and that the U.S. should leave when “the remnants of terrorist activities are fully eliminated there – which really shouldn’t be long in coming.” —
    “Q.: The United States has said it is not thus far planning to leave Syria. Is Russia prepared to get along with the Americans in Syria and successfully interact with them to completely destroy the terrorists and maintain peace and security in this country in the post-conflict period?
    “A.: We’ve reaffirmed repeatedly and at different levels that if the goal the Americans are pursuing in Syria is fighting terrorism, as they have declared themselves, then we objectively have opportunities for cooperation with them in this field.
    “Presidents Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump made a joint statement at the APEC summit in Da Nang on November 11, which indicates the two countries‘ common determination to continue working together on Syria. Furthermore, Russia, the U.S., and Jordan on November 8 signed a trilateral memorandum on principles of de-escalation in the south of Syria, which is intended to consolidate the success of the ceasefire initiative in this region. The de-escalation area that has in fact functioned there since summer has fully proven its efficiency.
    “We presume that the Americans must leave Syrian soil as soon as the remnants of terrorist activities are fully eliminated there – which really shouldn’t be long in coming. I’d remind you that the UN Security Council has not authorized the activity of the U.S. or the coalition it leads in Syria, and the legitimate Syrian government also did not invite them.
    “In this context, Pentagon chief James Mattis’s statement on the intention of U.S. military units to remain in Syria until progress is made in the political settlement process looks surprising – as if Washington has claimed the right to determine the degree of such progress and wants to hold part of Syrian territory until it has achieved the result it needs. That‘s not the way it works. In keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 2254, the adoption of which the U.S. championed, only the Syrian people can make a decision on Syria‘s future arrangement. We will keep adhering to this understanding in our contacts with the Americans.”

  10. SmoothieX12 says:

    Any aircraft, F-22, F-35, what have you, has been painted and not for once by most AD systems Russia deployed to Syria, once they were in range, this is not to mention during air contact with RUAF which are regular. This is not the news, what is the news and huge ones at that is a double failure of Saudi Patriot to intercept even in 5-missile salvo Yemeni (Iranian) obsolete Scud knock-offs. That is by far more important and telling than well-known fact that SU-35C Irbis radar can see F-22 (let alone F-35) just fine, not to talk about something of S-300, let alone S-400 caliber.

  11. turcopolier says:

    That would be a reasonable assumption by a reasonable man, but I happen to know that the policy directive to stay away from R+6 held territory was a surprise to CENTCOM. pl

  12. turcopolier says:

    I am told that timing is flexible depending on levels of cooperation. pl

  13. ann says:

    This reminds me of the young lady who wrote a letter to Gorbachev, I believe it was in 1988, and then went to Russia to meet the man. Was she with your organization? She died in a plane crash in the late 1980’s. Do you remember or was she with your organization?

  14. turcopolier says:

    Sylvia 1
    IMO he is a hard hearted empath in the way that skilled HUMINT people either are or become. He was an officer of the 2nd Main Directorate of the KGB. IOW he was a CI type but at the more sophisticated levels of the CI world, as opposed to the espionage world (1st Main Directorate) much the same skills are sought and developed. After watching him for some time I think he is a very sophisticated thinker who finds many American leaders to be childishly unsophisticated people who see the world in black and white terms. IMO he is a Russian patriot who would like to have better relations with the US but if that is not possible he will nail us to the wall if he thinks it necessary. To put someone like GW Bush in contact with him and expect that Putin will not take advantage of him if the opportunity presents is just silly. pl

  15. Alaric says:

    The Russians have no intention of fragmenting Syria, of creating an SDF/YPG autonomous zone. That would give the US and Israel a vehicle/platform to repeat the war that just occurred. They certainly will not allow the Kurds to control 20% of Syrian land and numerous vital oil resources nor will Iran.
    The particular path they will employ to restablish gov control is going to consist of stopping US flights in Syria, cutting off US supply routes to Syria, and negotiations but the heavy lifting will be done via proxies (Turkey, Iran affiliated Shi’a militia in Iraq and Iran, Assad affiliated Arab tribes and Kurds, etc). The SDF/YPG cannot defeat the R + 6 and that will become especially evident once they are cut off from the US aid and air support.
    Putin celebrated the defeat of ISIS a month ago to tell the US it needs to leave. Lavrov was more direct today in an interview with Interfax. The Russians are not idiots and they have the stronger position in Syria. The US will be forced out and the SDF/YPG will have no choice but to accept Assad though maybe with some semi autonomous rights.

  16. turcopolier says:

    “going to consist of stopping US flights in Syria, cutting off US supply routes to Syria, and negotiations but the heavy lifting will be done via proxies (Turkey, Iran affiliated Shi’a militia in Iraq and Iran, Assad affiliated Arab tribes and Kurds, etc).” Tell me king of the Visigoths, how the Russians are going to cut off US supplies to our forces in Syria. pl

  17. pl,
    What was CENTCOM thinking? Did they really think they were going to start operating on R+6 held territory? Since they have not done so up to this point, except for that suspicious air attack on SAA positions in Deir Ezzor a while back, I don’t see where they would start taking on the R+6. I would see closing the training base at Tanf and turning over that territory and the nearby refugee camp as evidence of a real policy change.

  18. turcopolier says:

    As we know a lot of these ops guys are not deep thinkers. They are essentially SJ (MB classification)types and they assumed that they would wage war against the “regime forces.” pl

  19. Wow. What good news.
    The Angry Staff Officer wrote https://angrystaffofficer.com/2017/12/15/what-is-worth-fighting-for/
    It’s a good question to ask. Service members take an oath to defend the U.S. Constitution. I cannot recall any existential threat to the U.S. Constitution since WWII.
    Left alone, the Sunni and Shia will work things out one way or another. ISIS poses no existential threat to the U.S. Constitution.
    Should they actually form a Caliphate that picks a fight with the U.S. then based upon our history I don’t think we’ll hesitate to use nuclear weapons should they attack us militarily.

  20. Christian Chuba says:

    A timely link on Drudge
    Scoop: U.S. and Israel reach joint plan to counter Iran
    The only reason I think it is worth posting is because of its claimed source … “A senior U.S. official said that after two days of talks the U.S. and Israel reached at a joint document which included understandings on countering Iranian actions in the region”
    I don’t know the lingo for anonymous sources, what type of person is a ‘senior U.S. official’, Congressman, aid, cabinet member, …?
    Some of the more interesting claims …

    “The working group will deal with possible covert steps against the Iranian nuclear program. ”

    I hope this doesn’t mean espionage since there is no indication that Iran has a weapons program, espionage is an act of war even if it against a country you don’t like.

    ” Countering Iranian ballistic missiles development and the Iranian “precision project” aimed at manufacturing precision guided missiles in Syria and Lebanon for Hezbollah to be used against Israel in a future war. ”

    Is this a greenlight for arbitrary bombing in Lebanon and Syria? Again, this is an act of war, there are only so many times you can do this without provoking a retaliatory strike.

    “Joint U.S.-Israeli preparation for different escalation scenarios in the region concerning Iran, Syria, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Gaza.”

    I can understand Gaza but how is Lebanon our business? What, if Hiz wins an election or is accused of doing something nefarious there what are we and Israel going to do, assassinate someone. I probably shouldn’t make too much of this one since it is rather vague, just don’t like the tone.
    If Axios is notorious for producing junk stories, I apologize ahead of time. Just posting because of the claimed source and it sounds plausible.

  21. pl,
    Yes, I know the type. CENTCOM has been full of them for as long as I remember. They just can’t stand being confined to their HQ in Tampa.

  22. pl and Sylva 1,
    I couldn’t agree more with that description of Putin. He wants to have a cooperative relationship with us. Barring that, he’ll settle for a US lacking the capability to pursue an aggressive and expansionist policy towards Russia. From a Russian point of view and even a worldwide point of view, that’s a reasonable and prudent policy to pursue.

  23. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Samantha wrote to Andropev.

  24. SmoothieX12 says:

    Samantha Smith. Russians of my age were in love with this incredibly beautiful inside and outside, little peace warrior. News of her death were a real tragedy. I mean many of us were in disbelief that such a life was lost. She wrote a letter to Andropov, at the time when things were not going well. Still hurts to know that such a life was cut so short.
    I still have couple of Soviet postage stamps issued with her.

  25. I agree. I don’t see this as any fundamental change.
    The bottom line is that the Syria war is about Iran and Israel. And we all know Trump and every one of his advisers is anti-Iran and pro-Israel.
    I also find it difficult to believes that Trump is aware of the bases the US has in Syria in any detailed way. Trump gets his information from briefings and the briefings are controlled by his immediate advisers. So I rather doubt his decisions come as a “surprise” to those advisers who control the information flow to him.
    At the very least, I think the US is keeping the Al Tanf base (and others) to conduct “mischief” of various kinds against the Assad government – intelligence gathering, at the very least.
    I find it amusing that the US accuses Assad of not doing enough against ISIS, so the US response is…we won’t do anything against ISIS either in Syrian-controlled territory. Convenient, I’d say. If that isn’t supporting ISIS, I don’t know what is.
    Especially in light of what General Gerasimov directly accused the US of using Al Tanf to take in ex-ISIS fighters and convert them to new Islamist insurgent groups.
    If we’re advised to take a “wait and see” approach to Trump’s decisions, I suggest it’s too soon to make a determination that Trump is going to withdraw from Syria any time soon.

  26. Sylvia 1 says:

    You may be thinking of Samantha Smith. She wrote Yuri Andropov in 1982. She died in 1985. She has a Wiki page. CCI wasn’t organized until 1983. My involvement with CCI is both very recent and very minor at this point although I plan to become much more involved in the future.

  27. Keith Harbaugh says:

    PL, I hope you are right about DJT and his operations. I have no reason to doubt you on this.
    However, on a slightly different aspect of U.S. ME policy, there is this rumor:
    Any thoughts?
    Oh, and a very belated Very Merry Christmas wish to you!

  28. Sylvia 1 says:

    Thank you. He does appear to be a sophisticated thinker–and a strategic one as well. When he became President in 1999, Russia was flat on it’s back. Many people were predicting that Russia would be not be able to revive itself or to progress given the collapse of the 1990’s and the resulting rise of the Mafiya to Oligarchs and the lawlessness and corruption they represented. One article in the Atlantic in 2001 went so far as to say “Russia Is Finished”. https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2001/05/russia-is-finished/302220/ Looking at the situation today–this does not seem to be the case.

  29. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Yes, the Good die young and the Not-so-Good linger on to make Life miserable for everyone.

  30. Babak Makkinejad says:

    The operative word here is not “is”, but “was”; viz the war is over.
    Trump tried several times to meet with Rouhani but Iranians did their best to avoid that.
    He is breft of manners and I am not sure how he could have expected anything else.

  31. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Much ado about nothing…

  32. ann says:

    Thank you. I remember the name Samantha, but I remember it later. Thanks for the clarification.

  33. ann says:

    Thank you, yes that is the person. Best of luck.

  34. turcopolier says:

    ttg will be comforted by your approval. pl

  35. Alaric says:

    Belated merry christmas Colonel. You have the king of the Visigoths at your service.
    The Russian will simply request that the US stop violating Syrian air space and the US will listen. I’m sure some “coaxing” will be involved like improving Syrian/Russian air defenses and chasing off and playing chicken with US fighters but US leadership will eventually listen because the US gov has no legal right to be there and (more importantly) there is no popular support in the US or the US military for a war against an allied Russia, Iran, and Syria. The Russians will step up pressure and increase measures gradually I’m sure with ample use of diplomatic and information war tools and while the Syrian gov scores some more battlefield victories.
    Put another way, the Russians are going to call our bluff and I expect we will wisely back down. It will mark the end of the Wolfowitz “doctrine” and the absence of US air support will force the YPG to negotiate with the Syrian gov. I suspect they are doing this already through Russia.
    To the best of my knowledge, the last land route for supplying YPG/SDF in eastern Syria is through Kurdish territory in Iraq. Borders will be closed, by the Iraqi gov or by Shia militia, and shipments will be attacked by Iranian proxies and allies of the Syrian gov if needed.
    The US is going to get booted from Syria. The only question is how soon.

  36. confusedponderer says:

    ah, yes. Yesterday I read a Russian report that the US is training currently 1.000 or so ISIS type of fighters, and another report that had a US or british general accusing Assad of not fighting ISIS, either because they don’t want to, or collaborate or are incapable of. Can’t find the links atm.
    Still, I found this:
    MOSCOW – The chief of the Russian General Staff has accused the United States of training former Islamic State fighters in Syria to try to destabilize the country.
    General Valery Gerasimov’s allegations, made in a newspaper interview, center on a US military base at Tanf, a strategic Syrian highway border crossing with Iraq in the south of the country.
    Russia says the US base is illegal and that it and the area around it has become “a black hole” where militants operate unhindered.
    Islamic State has this year lost almost all the territory it held in Syria and Iraq. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday the main part of the battle with Islamic State in Syria was over, according to the state-run RIA news agency.
    The United States says the Tanf facility is a temporary base used to train partner forces to fight Islamic State. It has rejected similar Russian allegations in the past, saying Washington remains committed to killing off Islamic State and denying it safe havens.
    But Gerasimov told the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper on Wednesday that the United States was training up fighters who were former Islamic State militants but who now call themselves the New Syrian Army or use other names.

    If that’s true then Assad could fight and win along, and still not getting rid of these IS folks. I’d call that “mischieveous US policy”. IMO neither the Borgs or Trump’s crew are beyond that.
    And likely, as soon as they call that policy as ‘fighting back Iran’ the US can count on Israeli and Saudi support. The Israelis are so happy about Trump’s embassy move to Jerusalem they’ll name a train station after Trump. That’s embarassing, no, that’s GRAND SUCCESS!

  37. turcopolier says:

    Let me know when you are going to sack Rome again. I want to go have dinner at “Abruzzi” one last time. all of your forecast sounds plausible but you never told me how US supply routes into occupied east Syria are going to be cut off. pl

  38. turcopolier says:

    The US is not trying to hide its conversion of former IS tribals into useful forces. The alternative to doing that is to kill them all. pl

  39. LeaNder says:

    I think he is a very sophisticated thinker who finds many American leaders to be childishly unsophisticated people
    Yes, that is striking. How comparatively grown up he comes across. I surely have rather selective impressions in mind… My impressions no doubt rely on what journalists observed as more or less deliberately humiliating activities by Western players towards him as representative of Russia over the years.
    What does the C in CI stands for, Pat. Critical, competitive come to mind.

  40. turcopolier says:

    Counter Intelligence = CI these are the spy catchers as opposed to the positive HUMINT people like me and TTG. Our job was to recruit foreign human assets and use them to spy on their own governments. The CI people on the other hands try to catch the recruited assets. This is the same everywhere. Most CI people are basically cops who carry a badge and a gun and have arrest authority but some small number of them catch the spes, turn them around and “play” them back at the group that recruited them. Putin was one of those. “Offensive counterintelligence is having identified an opponent’s efforts against the system, trying to manipulate these attacks by either “turning” the opponent’s agents into double agents or feeding them false information to report.[10] ” wiki on CI pl

  41. SmoothieX12 says:

    Ain’t that a truth. A sad one.

  42. robt willmann says:

    As far as a legal definition is concerned, it is in Title 50, U.S. Code, section 3003(3)–
    “(3) The term ‘counterintelligence’ means information gathered, and activities conducted, to protect against espionage, other intelligence activities, sabotage, or assassinations conducted by or on behalf of foreign governments or elements thereof, foreign organizations, or foreign persons, or international terrorist activities.”
    All of this type of thing is in and from the National Security Act of 1947, which is more or less in Title 50, U.S. Code, Chapter 44–
    The FBI has a description–
    The CIA has a description–

  43. Sylvia 1,
    In both the United States and Britain, a great deal of very good analysis of the Soviet Union, and subsequently of the post-Soviet space, has been done by ‘open source’ organisations associated with the military.
    On your side, what was originally the Soviet Army Studies Office at Fort Leavenworth became the Foreign Military Studies Office. On our, the Soviet Studies Research Centre at Sandhurst became the Conflict Studies Research Centre. It was incorporated into an organisation called the Advance Research and Assessment Group in 2006 – which was then however disbanded in 2010.
    (At the risk of going OT, the history of the destruction of the ARAG is a case study in the corruption and contempt for genuine expertise – in particular for expertise that might tell power holders what they did not want to hear – that was a defining feature of ‘New Labour.’
    See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Advanced_Research_and_Assessment_Group .)
    Much CSRC and ARAG work was published openly. It included a paper entitled ‘Vladimir Putin & Russia’s Special Services’, published in August 2002 by a very fine analyst called Henry Plater-Zyberk, under the pseudonym ‘Gordon Bennett.’
    (See https://www.files.ethz.ch/isn/96481/02_Aug_4.pdf .)
    At the outset of his discussion, Plater-Zyberk complained about the propensity of Western journalists and commentators to listen to what the ‘chattering classes in Moscow and St. Petersburg’ said, rather than looking at the evidence.
    And he went on to argue that a more open-minded approach might have led to a very different evaluation of Putin at the outset. Further, Plater-Zyberk argued:
    ‘It might also have argued that Russia run by a group of ex-KGB officers could be much better off than Russia run by former CPSU apparatchiks or ideological free-marketers tinkering with the country’s economy, and that the KGB employed intelligent, well trained, highly motivated and competitive people, many of whom would have been successful in any political system.’
    Unfortunately, successive British governments have preferred to take seriously the kind of ‘return of Karla’ view adopted by MI6. It is fascinating now to see how, trying to wriggle out of the rather awkward questions raised by the crucial role of the dossier supposedly authored by Christopher Steele, people are trying to claim that he swallowed cunning disinformation from the FSB.
    In relation to the final memorandum in the dossier, which is the subject of the post by ‘Publius Tacitus’ which follows this one, I think there may be something in this. However, if people like Dokuchaev were feeding disinformation, it would have been far more likely that it would have been through the FBI, with whom FSB cyber people had regular and quite proper contact, than through Steele.
    The claims now being made by Konstantin Koslovsky are obviously crucial to making sense of this whole history. My – admittedly preliminary – reading of them is that they are most naturally explained as a desperate attempt to rescue the preposterous ‘narrative’ according to which the DNC materials came to WikiLeaks through a hack, rather than a leak.
    In so doing, I suspect, they are exploiting the fact that the Russian security services have attempted to up their actual role in the history by accusing the people who exploited the gullibility of idiots like the Ohrs, Strzok and his ‘bit on the side’, Steele et al, of treason.
    What however slightly irks me is that people who now attempt to rescue the ‘Russiagate’ story by claiming that Steele was a ‘patsy’ do not draw the obvious conclusion: that an organisation who appoints one of nature’s ‘useful idiots’ to be head of its Russia Desk is clearly completely dysfunctional.
    But if one draws this conclusion, a further one logically follows: that everybody in the American ‘intelligence community’ who took any product by Christopher Steele at any point seriously has to be under suspicion of being as incompetent as him.
    A really bizarre part of the whole situation is the automatic assumption that because someone was former KGB he was necessarily anti-Western. For the reasons that Plater-Zyberk gave, it was precisely among people in that organisation that the awareness that the 1917 revolution had led Russia into a dead end was very strong.
    A question this raised, however, was whether Western policies towards the Soviet Union essentially reflected hostility towards communism (in which case the West was essentially in the right), or whether underneath the ideological professions there were other emotions and agendas.
    On this point, the view of Putin – as of many others in Russia – has clearly moved from the first position towards the second. A concomitant, of course, is that he has moved from looking for a viable role for Russia in the ‘Pax Americana’, to trying to think of ways of undermining it.

  44. Christian Chuba says:

    I posted the same story from axios, James thinks it’s neocon porn, there is a link to the ‘Times of Israel’ (which is also Neocon porn) that claims McMaster and Ben-Shabbat agreed to terms and in addition to these maniacal plots, affirmed that Trump will terminate the JCPOA ‘shortly’.
    Who knows. At this point in time, the advantage that Russia and Iran have is that if we actually try to follow such a strategy, we are showing ourselves to be complete and total idiots while they are pragmatic and sensible. It may take a while but eventually cream floats to the top. The biggest risk for Iran would be if this Ayatollah has to be replaced (for health reasons) and the successor is a wallapalooza.

  45. Barbara Ann says:

    The accusation re infiltration to al Tanaf is useful. The mission needs an ongoing supply of Daesh to process (see CJTFOIR announcement on the same day) in order to continue to justify it’s existence. It is my suspicion that a steady supply of bad hombres will materialize out of the desert for some time yet.
    Meanwhile it looks like SAA is making progress in Idlib in the south – is Khan Shaykun the short term goal?

  46. Barbara Ann says:

    David Habbakuk
    Gordon Bennett – a great nom de plume and the man was/is clearly a highly competent analyst, as you say. That document is a serious piece of work. The contrast between such a valuable paper being freely published in 2002 and the garbage firms like Orbis put out for paying clients, some 14 years later, says a lot about the road we have travelled.
    I’ll try and read it all, but already one section had a particular sense of irony for me, given PT’s next post – just tweak the acronym and change the country name:

    “In recent years the FSB has been criticized for sloppy or illegal procedures and operational rules in several well publicized cases in which Russian nationals were accused of espionage. Bound by old internal rules, the FSB doggedly pursued individuals in several cases which in most democratic countries would have been thrown out of court due to lack of evidence or inadmissible procedural mistakes. The Russian lawmakers are reluctant to look more closely at the FSB regulations and procedures to which counterintelligence officers have to adhere. The prosecutors accept sloppily presented cases and the courts bend over backwards to accommodate the accusers.”

  47. Barbara Ann says:

    Oops, think I may have committed a cardinal sin in HTML, hopefully this fixes it

  48. The Syria war is not over if the US and Israeli decide to attack Hizballah in Lebanon – and then extend the attacks to Hizballah in Syria. This is another way they can get a war started with Syria which was the goal of the entire Syrian civil war.

  49. Croesus says:

    re “Maj. Gen. Gedney also accused the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) of allowing ISIS fighters to move through its areas north of the US-led coalition base in al-Tanaf, near the Syrian-Iraqi border.”
    BBC reports that coalition allowed/assisted ISIS to leave Raqqa, fleeing into Syria, hoping to get to Turkey.
    BBC interviewed truck drivers and shot some film of the convoy

  50. LeaNder says:

    thanks Pat. I should have realized. His time in East Germany was on my mind. Maybe the Allied and USSR military Missions over here distracted me slightly this time.

  51. LeaNder says:

    Thanks Robert. Appreciated.

  52. rjj says:

    what is the trick for fixing this? can’t the close format codes be embedded in the javascript[??] source [??] form code.

  53. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Israel will not undrtake any major attacks.

  54. LeaNder says:

    It is fascinating now to see how, trying to wriggle out of the rather awkward questions raised by the crucial role of the dossier supposedly authored by Christopher Steele, people are trying to claim that he swallowed cunning disinformation from the FSB.
    David, I consulted my German IT media friends, on the Bundestag Hacks. To pick up more arbitrarily on *stevenhacks.
    Partly I felt obliged to do so, initially it was triggered by my more spontaneous objection to TTG’s argumentative media links. The larger context in one of the US article made no sense once you looked at the linked/or alluded to document. On first sight.
    Time went by, and I looked back on matters. … For instance into the wisdom of the “attributive science” in the IT sector. I didn’t keep notes. I rarely do.
    But in the multitude of articles I followed vaguely from “my German friend’s c’t” base there was this one tiny hint, more complex global matters too, that a UK firm alerted the Germans that documents from the Bundestag were hosted on some type of suspicious server, which seems to have partly triggered the closer look. For this curious un/disinformed nitwit the targets seemed to make no sense as big espionage affair, let’s say versus Merkel’s mobile/Iphone.
    A really bizarre part of the whole situation is the automatic assumption that because someone was former KGB he was necessarily anti-Western. For the reasons that Plater-Zyberk gave, it was precisely among people in that organisation that the awareness that the 1917 revolution had led Russia into a dead end was very strong.
    I’ll read Plater-Zyberk, after I have finished my current book. Not least since one sentence by a historian that burned itself into my mind, for whatever reason. … My current book is the most extensive look at an event in 1935. Complex a multitude of players, lots of people selling whatever pseudo wisdom too. Not in Germany, by the way.
    A question this raised, however, was whether Western policies towards the Soviet Union essentially reflected hostility towards communism (in which case the West was essentially in the right), or whether underneath the ideological professions there were other emotions and agendas.
    ???? the good Whites versus the bad Red?
    Is there something I do not understand about something you, Babak and quite possibly Chao, try to tell me? Since you drew the larger historical line from 1917 to today. For instance about Brexit and Trump too?

  55. Barbara Ann says:

    I am in your debt @rjj – that did the trick. Seems posting another pair of open/close tags cancels the (matching) one left open. Shame Typepad seems not to have comment preview capability. A markup menu to save messing with raw HTML would be better still, but mea culpa anyhow.

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