Operation “Grand Dawn” Post 4 – TTG


"BEIRUT, LEBANON (5:45 P.M.) – Syria and Jordan have entered into talks mediated by Russia to reopen the Nassib Border-Crossing, Al-Masdar learned today from a military source. If the talks are successful, the rebel forces at the Nassib Border-Crossing will be ordered to withdraw from the area by their Jordanian partners.

Reopening the Nassib Border-Crossing would have a positive impact on Syria’s strained economy, as both countries were once key trade partners in the region.

While the two governments discuss economic rapprochement, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) has resumed its offensive in the Dara’a Governorate, today, targeting the eastern part of the provincial capital in a bid to expel the rebel forces from the area." (Al Masdar News)


Leith Fadel and Al Masdar News are fairly reliable sources. A second source, Ivan Sidorenko, provided what appears to be a machine translation of an Arabic language report of a more far reaching development in this area. 


“Daraa: A ceasefire is looming in the horizon, a ceasefire will start tomorrow at 12 PM from both sides (the regime by Russia’s mediation and the states funding the Southern front), the first stage of this ceasefire will be a 48 hours ceasefire, after that, a meeting will be organized to introduce a complete ceasefire. The ceasefire will include the stopping of reinforcements from both sides, stopping the barrel bombs & the warplanes strikes & heavy machines shelling by the regime, but will the “Bunian al-Marsous” operation command accept this? We shall see in the next upcoming hours”  (@IvanSidorenko1)


Sounds like good news… or wishful thinking. The R+6 is slamming the rebel forces in Daraa with aerial, artillery and rocket strikes. They are making progress on the ground and are massing for an even larger offensive. If this all happens, it will be due to the negotiating power of Russia backed up by determined threat of serious R+6 military force in this area. I would think Jordan is not at all comfortable with the 31st Guards Air Assault Brigade sitting so close to their border. I also believe many of the rebels in this area do not have their heart in the fight and only continue fighting because of the diehard AQ units among them. I don’t think Jordan’s heart is in this fight, either.

If this ceasefire does come to fruition, this will be a major success for Operation Grand Dawn. It will secure another section of Syria’s southern border and will facilitate the implementation of the southernmost de-escalation zone. It will also free up some major firepower for the eastward push to Al Bukamal and Deir Ezzor.




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79 Responses to Operation “Grand Dawn” Post 4 – TTG

  1. Lemur says:

    Meanwhile, in Washington…
    “(((Ezra Cohen-Watnick))), the senior director for intelligence on the National Security Council, and Derek Harvey, the NSC’s top Middle East advisor, want the United States to start going on the offensive in southern Syria, where, in recent weeks, the U.S. military has taken a handful of defensive actions against Iranian-backed forces fighting in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
    Their plans are making even traditional Iran hawks nervous, including Defense Secretary James Mattis, who has personally shot down their proposals more than once, the two sources said.”
    “For Iran hawks in and outside the administration, the civil war in Syria represents a pivotal moment that will determine whether Iran or the United States exerts influence over Iraq and Syria. These Iran hawks fear that if Washington stands by, Tehran will emerge as the dominant player with a land corridor through Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.
    But pursuing a wider war against Iranian-backed fighters in Syria would be ‘both unnecessary and extraordinarily dangerous,’ said Colin Kahl, who served as national security advisor to former Vice President Joe Biden.” – Foreign Policy magazine.
    Sounds like a war within the Trump administration is in progress between realists and an ultra Zionist faction on the emergence of a regionally dominant Iran.

  2. anonymous says:

    In the corner pocket they go.where it all started.triangles can be deadly though.

  3. Annem says:

    Where is McMaster in all this “free associating” by these NSC types? I thought he accepted his job understanding that he had to keep this Watnick guy, but that he was in charge.
    When Russia entered the fray in Syria, one reason was said to be their concern about the burrowing in of Iran in Syrian military and security apparatuses, not a healthy development in a country they consider is theirs. After all, a lot of officers still speak Russian, not so Persian. It sounds like they would like to constrain Iran to some degree when the fighting is over. If the US is truly paranoid about Iran, then working with Russia makes sense. In any case, an Iraq type failed state in Syria would be a disaster.

  4. turcopolier says:

    I am surprised that Harvey has developed into an ultra-Zionist. He must be surprised to be somehow in his present job and perhaps is being influenced by Watrick. pl

  5. pl,
    This all consuming hatred for Iran seems to have spread throughout the military and certainly into this administration. Harvey seems to be only one of many who have been consumed by this hatred. I thought he would know better. I find it short sighted and unhealthy.
    The recent full blown embrace of the Saudis is also disconcerting. Except for a short stint at the grazing fire level in the 80s, I was never a student of the Middle East. When I arrived at DIA in 95, I was given the Iraq-Iran and Arabian Peninsula portfolio. I came to view the Saudis with more distrust than any other country in my portfolio.

  6. All,
    Al Masdar is now confirming the proposed truce in Daraa between the SAA and the rebels. They are also confirming the Iraqi PMU is now in full control of the Al Waleed Border Crossing opposite Al Tanf.
    I believe we can expect Israel to do all it can to derail any ceasefire in Daraa and rapprochement between Damascus and Amman. Perhaps one of our Arabists can shed more light on this Arabi21.com article about “In Iran’s plan to control the Middle East what is the role of Jordan?” Here’s a Google Translate rendition of most of the article.
    “Israel’s top national security analyst, Yossi Melman, expressed concern about the image of the commander of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, General Qassim Soleimani, who was captured in Syria near the border triangle between Jordan, Iraq and Syria, along with fighters from an Afghan Shiite militia called the Fatimids, (Soleimani recruited to defend Bashar Assad’s regime).
    “This could be the picture of Iran’s victory if it succeeds in strengthening its control of the border crossings between Iraq and Syria, and thus will assert its supreme control over this part of the Middle East,” Melman said in an article in the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv. The scenario is a nightmare for Israel. ”
    “For years, Iran has been trying to establish a land link that starts from Iran and passes through Iraq and Syria, and from there to Lebanon and the Mediterranean, and when it does, it can be said that there is a Shiite crescent.”
    Read more: Has the road from Iran to Lebanon become a reality?
    He added: “It is true that Iran can continue its relationship with Assad and Hezbollah, also through the air, as it has done so far, but the ground communication will ease them in sending fighters and weapons, and it will be difficult for Israel to harm these missions. He explained that Israel’s concern about increasing the Iranian presence in Syria is double, noting that this presence may encourage Iran to get a foothold also near the border with Israel.
    “This presence means reviving the north-east front, which has ceased to be a threat since the collapse of Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq and the civil war in Syria, and the IDF will have to prepare,” Milman said. As appropriate to the new threat in the north-east, and the readiness of the Israeli army is very expensive. ”

  7. turcopolier says:

    I knew Melman when he was covered as a student attached to the Israeli military attaché’s office. he was a funny little wise guy, always filled with snotty attempts at humor. pl

  8. Nightsticker says:

    Keep the excellent analysis/commentary coming.
    USMC 65-72
    FBI 72-96

  9. JMH says:

    Well don’t trust anybody over 30.
    Ezra Asa Cohen-Watnick is the Senior Director for Intelligence Programs for the United States National Security Council. Wikipedia
    Born: May 18, 1986 (age 31)

  10. Gene O says:

    Regarding the al-Waleed crossing:
    syria.liveuamap is saying that the Iraqi PMU that took the border crossing were tribal Sunni PMU, with help from Iraqi border guards, Iraqi Army Aviation, Iraqi Air Force AND US-led coalition aircraft.
    The source they say is Iraq Joint Operations.

  11. LeaNder says:

    A pretty close friend of mine killed himself, around a month before getting 30. … apparently that wasn’t ever Ezra’s road in life.
    Question to Trump supporters, or maybe, the ones voting on this basis: every change is better then no change at all.
    What did I miss, if it felt that concerning Iran Trump always offered basic continuity with the hawks?

  12. Tyler P. Harwell says:

    A curious way to go about setting up a “de-escalation zone”, if you ask me, with a barrel-bomb blitz, and the massing of troops for an all-out assault on a city under siege. I have never understood the language of force. But it seems to me there is less change to the Syrian approach to solving these problems than meets the eye. Perhaps all that is different is the way it is talked about.
    The news accounts I read last night stated that the SAA forces had stated an intention to declare a unilateral 24 hour cease fire. That I regarded as unexceptional news as if true it would be perfectly consistent with their way of doing business, seen time again, most recently in the area of Aleppo. When they are on the verge of triumph, or so they think, or wish, they make such displays of magnanimity. To those besieged, it comes as an offer they can not refuse; and so, of course, we should expect to read the follow on report that it has been agreed to – by someone, if not everyone.
    What does require some de-cyphering is the near-coincidental report you have referred to that states that the government is in discussions with Jordan about opening the nearest border crossing. That might be regarded by some as a case of counting your chickens before they hatch; by others, as a war rumor; by some as disinformation intended to unsettle who do not welcome it; and by still others, as an out-and-out threat. I rather think the Jordanians may fall in to that latter camp.
    Prior to an all-out assault that will leave Dera’a destroyed and uninhabitable by nearly all, this ceasefire is being offered as an inducement to leave. But those who are there now have their backs up against the wall, and if they do try to escape will have nowhere to go other than in to Jordan. We may surmise that those eligible consist of “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly”. But that is all the same to both Syria and Jordan, as neither wants them. Thus the brief ceasefire (and it will be brief) serves the purpose of the Assad regime in ridding itself of undesirable elements within its population, and perhaps again, by pushing them in to Jordan. The follow up story about border talks adds a note of urgency to the decision to accept the offer, as paradoxically, once it is opened to “normal”, which is to say, Assad controlled, traffic, it will be closed to everything else.
    In the final analysis, there is no news here.

  13. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Tyler P. Harwell,
    re: “undesirable elements within its population”
    Are you sure that those resisting SAA are Syrian nationals? Please provide proof for any speculation.
    If they are not:
    1-Where did they come from?
    2-Who is supporting them and why?
    3-Do they have any right to claim legal combatant status?
    Thank you.
    Ishmael Zechariah

  14. different clue says:

    Tyler P. Harwell,
    What if the SAR government offers and gives all the goodbad uglies safe passage and transport to the Idlib Sump? That would get them away from the Syria-Jordan border area and raise the number of CLEJs even more in one concentrated area. Perhaps the SARgov is willing to take the risks of ongoing festerization in Idlib till the whole rest of the country is cleaned up and all the CLEJs are drained into the Idlib Sump. At which point the R + 6 can concentrated all its forces and attention on Pumping The Sump and draining it all the way dry.

  15. Peter AU says:

    According to publicly available figures the pre war population of Syria was around 24 million.
    Of these approx 16 million live in government controlled areas. that includes, according to the UN, about 6 million internal refugees. There are 4.5 million external refugees that may be sympathetic to one side or the other or merely escaping the war.
    That leaves about 3.5 million. Kurds? according to wikipedia they were 10 to 15% of the syrian population = 2.5 – 3 million.
    Islamist “moderate” opposition? Not a lot of numbers left. .5 to 1 million.
    According to the DIA report obtained by judicial watch, the driving force behind the insurgency in Syria in 2012 was al Qaeda. I take it AQ is the undesirable portion of the Syrian population?

  16. Kooshy says:

    US’ Iran policy is not about Trump, Obama, or any other presidents before them. In its principal it haven’t changed a bit ever since Teddy Kennedy shouting “who lost Iran”. And I don’t think it will change soon , this is, since US feels it’s been stratigicly defeated in ME, all fault of Iranian revolution, so the goal the policy is to reverse the revolution with no hole (hope) bared. IMO, they are right, my experience of it is, this defeatism was propagandised out of context and implanted in the American mind. Genies don’t back in bottle easy.

  17. Barish says:

    “A curious way to go about setting up a “de-escalation zone”, if you ask me, with a barrel-bomb blitz, and the massing of troops for an all-out assault on a city under siege. I have never understood the language of force. But it seems to me there is less change to the Syrian approach to solving these problems than meets the eye. Perhaps all that is different is the way it is talked about.”
    What you seem to omit here is that “those under siege” – an incorrect description, the southern portion of Daraa city in the grip of the various insurgent bands is not besieged by the “regime” at all – did not just very vocally reject that de-escalation zone, but were the ones to re-ignite a stale front far in advance of said zone being established in the first place. And given that this same lot time and time again comes up with an inghimasi- and SVBIED-blitz, it very much seems that force is the only language this lot understands.

  18. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Peter AU,
    If you have not read this link on the recent history of Syria, and the complex climate, population, and migration issues involved, it’s well worth your time.

  19. Babak Makkinejad says:

    US cannot even accept the new Russia, let alone Iran.

  20. Peter AU says:

    Thanks for the link. it is interesting that Polk as a history Professor makes no mention of Ambassador Ford’s rabble rousing activities in Syria which is available at the State Department website and also various news article interviews with Ford.
    Some time ago, I searched news articles from the period to find the casualties from the first violence at protests in Syria.
    After a lot of searching I found an article from that time at an Israeli news site. The numbers were four police/security dead, 3 protestors dead.
    that leaves the question of how unarmed, peaceful protestors killed those police.
    Polk seems determined that the war in Syria is a civil war caused by drought and poor governance. The more this is looked into, the scene was merely set to enable outside powers to initiate a war in Syria, using Syrians and foreign fighters as proxies, in an attack on Syria by foreign powers.

  21. Peter AU says:

    I see down in the references Polk does have this piece so I find it odd that he refers to the Syrian war as a civil war caused by drought.
    “18 So far, few of them have been revealed to the American public although many are of course known to other governments including the Syrian. Wikileaks published one “primer” on subversion called “Influencing the SARG [Syrian Arab Republic Government] by the senior American official in Damascus, William Roebuck, on November 30, 2006. This and other leaked documents are quoted by Kevin Gosztola in the August 5, 2011, The Great American Disconnect, focus primarily on “dirty tricks,” the spread of rumors and other means to divide the supporters of the regime, other actions, notably by the CIA, allegedly in conjunction with moves by the Israelis, Qataris and Saudis were more direct and violent.”

  22. Tyler P. Harwell says:

    Correct me, if I am wrong, but isn’t Dera’a the town where the boys spray-painted the graffiti on the wall that said “You’re next, doctor” in Arabic ? And then street protests ensued ? And shots were fired in to the protesters from roof tops ??
    Or was that Homs….
    In answer to your question, no I am not sure that those resisting the SAA in Dera’a are Syrian nationals; at least, not all of them. Now to my question: Do you claim that the SAA is entirely made up of Syrian nationals ? Including its air force ? And are the ground troops presently poised to take Dera’a formed of units entirely consisting of Syrian nationals ? If not, answer your own questions with respect to them.
    I try not to speculate. It is a fools errand to attempt to prove a speculation. I would say, however, based on my limited knowledge, which is entirely second-hand, never having been there, that at the beginning of the uprising against the Assad regime, the people living in Dera’a were mostly Syrian nationals. Whether there be any left there now I consider an open question. If there are, I would consider them to be quite unfortunate. They indeed may be quite few.
    Have you been to Dera’a recently ? Thank you for any reliable information which you can share regarding this subject.

  23. Gene O says:

    TPH –
    Homs. But there was something similar in Hama, and also in the Syrian expat community in Cairo. So perhaps that graffiti was also seen in Daraa?

  24. Tyler P. Harwell says:

    Thank you for this information. I see you are rather tied up now. We can take it up later, if you wish. But yes, moderation does seem to be a commodity in rather short supply these days.

  25. turcopolier says:

    Tyler P Harwell
    I don’t care what the “boys” painted on anything in Deraa or Homs. The revolt in Deraa was run out of the salafist mosques, fired up by Saudi and Qatari money and Ambassador Ford in his efforts to induce a repetition of the glories of the “Arab Spring.” pl

  26. Tyler P. Harwell,
    Yes, Dera’a is one of the places where it all began. Homs was also a birthplace of the resistance.
    For your other questions, the SAA is almost entirely Syrian nationals as is the Syrian Air Force. The foreign troops are Hebollah and some IRGC formations and various Iraqi militias. Of course there are many Russian and IRGC advisors within the SAA and other militias Within Dera’a the inhabitants are Syrian nationals including many Syrian Druze and a sizable population of Palestinian refugees.

  27. Tyler P. Harwell says:

    No doubt, as that seems all that is spoken. The articles in question seem to take it for granted that there is still a way out from Dera’a, it being so close to the Jordanian border, as is evident from the discussion of negotiations over the border crossing. So, perhaps the encirclement of Dera’a is not complete, but that does not seem to be what you are driving at.
    What that is, is not perfectly clear. You seem to need an editor. Would you like me to re-write your comment for you, so that I may respond to it properly ?

  28. Tyler P. Harwell says:

    I don’t know. You tell me.

  29. turcopolier says:

    Tyler P Harweel
    I believe Barish is a German or Russian. How good is your German? You seem new here. A rule of the house is that denigrating remarks to others will get you banned by me. Do it again and you will be gone. pl

  30. turcopolier says:

    Tyler P Harwell
    “Attitude” will also get you banned, or just ban your self and save me the trouble. pl

  31. Kooshy says:

    I voted for Trump and I knew US’ Iran policy wouldn’t change, if I even voted for Jesus Christ and he got elected to be the president. But I voted for Trump, to change the US policy for US, I wanted to defeat the Borg and make them headache, in that I did. I have no regret.

  32. Tyler P. Harwell says:

    Someone seems to have cared. Besides the families, that is. I would suppose the mosques is where the hotheads were to be found. But I would never have guessed the State Department.
    Are you telling me we are trying to put out the fire that we started ? Or something else ? And if something else, just what are we trying to do, now that there is a new team in charge, supposedly averse to our former ways ?

  33. Gene O says:

    TPH –
    The salafis were quick to take advantage of the Daraa boys that you speak of. In 2011 fifteen boys, ages ten to fifteen, from well-to-do and large Daraa families were arrested and beaten because of graffiti on grain silos. Security forces fired on the families of the missing boys who marched to the governor’s house. The head of the secret police in Daraa, Atef Najeeb, was a cousin of President Assad. That started a tribal blood feud. But that was quickly followed by a significant takeover of the disaffected tribes by the headchoppers – almost like a mini-version of the Bolshevik takeover 100 years ago.

  34. Kooshy says:

    Colonel Lang, I always thought you are somewhere mix of Brando and John Wayne, but I think you also got a lot of Eastwood in your style. BTW I don’t want to get banned over this comment.

  35. Tyler P. Harwell,
    We are certainly not trying to put out any fire. We and our Gulfie friends are still all in on the “Assad must go” strategy. The new team appears to be even more wedded to the neocon interventionist policies in the ME than the old team.

  36. Barish says:

    No need for that, just to clarify the key point: in the beginning of this year, 2017, the insurgents launched an offensive they dubbed “Death Rather Than Humiliation” primarily targeting the Manshiyah-district. Before then, not much of any activity was evident in the area for the better part of a year, leaving it a “stale front”, as I said, made active again by the insurgents’ own actions.
    Now, given the negative signals Jordan, their key logistics rear, has been sending toward overtly supporting this offensive, with this agreement with Damascus in the making the latest such, one would think that the insurgents would rethink continuing their armed operations and reassess just what their ultimate goal here is. Yet, given the grandiose name of their offensive and Nusra/HTS being a key actor like all too many times before it’s of course quite possible that martyrdom in a blaze of glory is the extent of it. Then again, it’s entirely possible some foreign operatives whipped them up to launch it, given this latest admission by Mr Hamad Bin Jassim al-Thani, former PM of Qatar, of how the war was organised – see in the following link from 7:30 onwards:
    By the by, he also gives a fairly clear motive at 8:58 as to why Jordan may have gotten uneasy about further continuing to serve insurgents’ needs.
    Be that as it may, the current insurgency within the country has long moved past the unrest of 2011 and little to do with it anymore, already by virtue of it having progressed – with more than a little openly admitted help from abroad, see above! – into a state of war.

  37. FourthAndLong says:

    Very off topic but it’s too good not to share. Multiple (over 13) Russian assassinations carried out on U.K. soil, suppressed by MI 6 and US intel from early oughts onward, and elsewhere.
    First of several Buzz Feed pieces.
    From Russia With Blood.
    Lavish London mansions. A hand-painted Rolls-Royce. And eight dead friends. For the British fixer Scot Young, working for Vladimir Putin’s most vocal critic meant stunning perks – but also constant danger. His gruesome death is one of 14 that US spy agencies have linked to Russia – but the UK police shut down every last case. A bombshell cache of documents today reveals the full story of a ring of death on British soil that the government has ignored.

  38. Peter AU says:

    I spent a bit of time digging for opal. There was a bit of potch, or common opal about the place which is worthless. First hole I dug, I went down to twenty foot with crowbar and shovel. Set up a windlass and my youngest daughter, about twelve at the time and easily conned by her old man, wound the buckets of dirt out. At twenty feet it seemed like hard work so I bought a jackhammer. Found nothing at 42 ft.
    Another hole about 12ft deep and a 40 ft tunnel following a seam of potch hoping to see some colour.
    Next hole hit a small pocket of gem quality opal at 8ft and said to the daughter “this is the real deal”
    Hollywood (I don’t go much on fiction) I compare to potch.

  39. LeaNder says:

    That’s an interesting statement, Kooshy.
    Semi irony alert: My guess would be that close to 75% of potential voters around here voted for Trump. Thus, no surprise there. Admittedly I found myself somehow puzzled by what may have been pro Clinton hypes. Meaning, strictly I can understand somehow. Although confronted with the task I, me, myself, would probably have joined the camp of non-voters. … third parties, seriously?
    Concerning Teddy Kennedy’s ‘shout’, would you be so kind to give me a little context? Without sending me into the wilderness of Cold War studies?

  40. Anna says:

    Great compilation in a sprit of Borgists’ battle cry “Russians did it.” The insinuation that Russian federation and Russian mafia are the same is particularly touching. Stylistically the compilation is identical to other well-publicized pieces inspired by unnamed high-level officials and promoted by the Empire of FedReserve to keep the flame of Russophobia. The sweet and moving memories of Yeltsin times of a grandiose thievery of Russian resources is palpable throughout the paper. What was the average life-span of men in Russia under Yeltsin – 57? And then the grand heist has been stopped and the Russian federation has started its recovery, which is intolerable for the ziocons.

  41. Babak Makkinejad says:

    It is like this US Congressman said two days ago; the desirability of Shia and Sunni Muslims to kill each other.

  42. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Before that, there was the cry of “Who lost China?”
    I wonder if that sentiment of owning foreign people and countris is real in US.
    And, if so, is that another manifestation of Puritanism?

  43. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think it is fair to say that in spite of the best efforts of the Western Fortress and its local allies to create an alternative legitimate authority in Syria to SAR, the “Doctor’s” government remains the only legitimate authority – after 6 years of war.
    With the failure of that effort, the Western & Co. Policy has become one of trying to bleed R+6.

  44. FourthAndLong,
    The ‘BuzzFeed’ piece to which you link is a rather transparent attempt by corrupt elements in the American and British intelligence services to prevent the British intervention in your electoral process backfiring spectacularly.
    As to the claims. I produced rather conclusive evidence that the Russian government did not deliberately assassinate Alexander Litvinenko in a preliminary discussion of the report by Sir Robert Owen into the affair which was posted on SST back in January 2016.
    (See http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/01/david-hakkuk-on-sir-robert-owens-inquiry.html .)
    If you look through my responses to comments, you will see that I provide rather cogent reasons to believe that three of the other deaths referred to in the ‘BuzzFeed’ piece – those of Stephen Curtis, Arkadi ‘Badri’ Patarkatsishvili, and Boris Berezovsky – are unlikely to have been the responsibility of the Russian government. I can expand on the evidence relating to all three deaths if anyone is interested.
    As I really do not want to see constitutional government in the United States subverted by devious Brits attempting to cover their backsides, it seems appropriate to produce both some more background and also updating in the light of recent developments.
    One fundamental problem with the British intervention is that the different parts of it were not coordinated.
    Both GCHQ, and their former employee Matt Tait, devoted their energies to trying to support the claims made by ‘CrowdStrike’ and Dmitri Alperovitch that ‘Fancy Bear’, supposedly linked to the GRU, had played a central role in hacking both the DNC and a range of other organisations. So it was Tait who ‘discovered’ the presence of the initials of the founder of the Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky, in the ‘metadata’ of the documents produced by ‘Guccifer 2.0.’
    (For his account, see https://www.lawfareblog.com/need-official-attribution-russias-dnc-hack .)
    There is an irony here, in that the ‘Cheka’ did incalculable damage both to the Red Army and, specifically, to Russian military intelligence. A good account comes in a June 2016 paper by a leading contemporary Russian security intellectual, Andrei Kokoshin, on ‘The German Blizkrieg Against the USSR, 1941.’
    In this, he quotes the Chief of the General Staff of the Red Army during the Second World War, Marshal Aleksandr Vasilevsky, remarking that, but for the repressions of 1937, ‘the war of 1941 might not have happened at all’.
    (See http://www.belfercenter.org/sites/default/files/legacy/files/Blitzkrieg%20Final.pdf .)
    The current holder of the position once held by Vasilevsky is General Valery Gerasimov. As Chief of the General Staff, he has overall control of the GRU.
    Besides betraying a fundamental ignorance of the history of relations between the military and the ‘organs’ in Soviet times, the notion that the metadata of Dzerzhinsky could be easily identified by the likes of Matt Tait in an operation for which Gerasimov is responsible requires one to believe that he would put a key operation in the hands of incompetents.
    So we have, I think, further evidence that GCHQ is, at the least, complicit in a ‘false flag’ operation.
    Unfortunately, they failed to coordinate with MI6 – the claims about the supposed Russian role in hacking the DNC and other organisations in the dossier published by ‘BuzzFeed’ in January both contradict those made by Alperovitch and Tait, and are also self-contradictory.
    Summarising accounts from ‘informants’ – real or fictional – a memorandum dated 15 July 2015 (it seems Orbis Business Intelligence doesn’t proof-read) explains:
    ‘Russia has extensive programme of state-sponsored offensive cyber operations. External targets include foreign governments and big corporations, especially banks. FSB leads on cyber within Russian apparatus. Limited success in attacking top foreign targets like G7 governments, security services and IFIs but much more on second tier ones through IT back doors, using corporate and other visitors to Russia.’
    So, the GRU is not involved, and in any case it would seem that the DNC probably wasn’t successfully penetrated. (This could be come from an actual source, for once, although I much doubt that the Russians have been that unsuccessful against ‘top foreign targets’.)
    However, in the final memorandum, dated 15 December 2016, it was claimed that:
    ‘[Redacted: 39 characters] reported that over the period March-September 2016 a company/Webzilla and its affiliates had been using botnets and porn traffic to transmit viruses, plant bugs, steal data and conduct “altering operations” against the Democratic Party leadership. Entities linked to one Aleksei GUBAROV were involved and he and another hacking expert, both recruited under duress by the FSB, Seva KAPSUGOVICH, were significant players in this operation. In Prague. COHEN agreed contingency plans for various scenarios CO protect the operation. but in particular what was to be done in the event that Hillary CLINTON won the presidency.’
    (For a searchable version of the dossier, see https://cryptome.org/2017/01/Steele-Trump.htm .)
    Clearly, this contradicts the 15 July report.
    Moreover, in their eagerness to incriminate Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen – who appears not to have been in Prague at the time in question – the author(s) of the dossier gave a massive hostage to fortune. Predictably, Aleksej Gubarev (note the transliteration he uses, quite different from that in the dossier) and his company XBT sued ‘BuzzFeed’ in Florida, and Christopher Steele in London.
    Subsequently, the Alfa Group oligarchs – Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aveb and German Khan, also sued, as their company – again wrongly transliterated, Alpha’ – had also featured in one of the ‘BuzzFeed’ memoranda. It would seem to beggar belief that someone who had, it appears, been head of the MI6 Russia Desk between 2004 and 2009 could make such an elementary error about one of the most prominent Russian business groups. But hell, this is not the GRU, it’s MI6: we don’t expect competence.
    At first, those who were behind this ‘information operation’ appear to have thought that publicising the relationship between Christopher Steele and Litvinenko would help them. When, shortly after the dossier was published, the former was named as its author, and promptly disappeared into hiding, the account of his career in the ‘Telegraph’, having among other things described how during his time in Moscow in the early ‘Nineties he ‘worked closely’ with Alex Younger, now head of MI6, explained that:
    ‘His expertise on Russia remained valued, and he was selected as case officer for the FSB defector Alexander Litvinenko, whose state-sponsored assassination in 2006 affected him deeply.’
    (See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/12/christopher-steelethe-former-british-spy-created-donald-trump/ .)
    However, when Steele emerged out of hiding in March, the ‘Guardian’ gave a different version:
    ‘Several of the lurid stories about him that have appeared in the press have been wrong, said friends. The stories include claims that Steele met Alexander Litvinenko, the Russian dissident who was murdered in 2006 with a radioactive cup of tea, probably on Putin’s orders.
    ‘As head of MI6’s Russia desk, Steele led the inquiry into Litvinenko’s polonium poisoning, quickly concluding that this was a Russian state plot. He did not meet Litvinenko and was not his case officer, friends said.’
    (See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/01/12/christopher-steelethe-former-british-spy-created-donald-trump/ .)
    Likewise, claims about the role of the former British Moscow Ambassador Sir Andrew Wood, who showed the dossier to John McCain, are contradictory.
    As a ‘Fox News’ report on 9 June noted, in the ‘Defence’ submitted by Steele in response to the ‘Particulars of Claim’ submitted on behalf of Gubarev and XBT, Wood is described as ‘an Associate of Orbis.’ (Their report links to both documents.) In this capacity, it is suggested, he was aware of Steele’s ‘intelligence gathering for the pre-election memoranda.’
    According to ‘Fox News’, however, in e-mail exchanges on 6 June, Wood ‘told a different story’:
    ‘“I have had no professional relationship with Orbis,” he wrote. “You refer to me as an ‘Associate’ (capital A) and draw some conclusions as to my role, which go beyond what it has been, that of a friend to Christopher Steele and a person among others with whom I have from time to time discussed Russian affairs.”’
    (See http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/06/09/comey-testimony-leaves-questions-unanswered-about-anti-trump-dossier.html .
    What you have is a bunch of incompetent and corrupt British officials who are now having to confront the possibility that their claims made be tested in front of judges less patently biased than Sir Robert Owen.
    Unsurprisingly, ‘BuzzFeed’ are cooperating with elements in British and American intelligence in a massive exercise in mendacity designed to save all their skins.
    Don’t be fooled.

  45. rkka says:

    Indeed, the Anglosphere Foreign Policy Elite & Punditocracy (AFPE&P) pine for the days of the compliant government of Boris Yeltsin. As Leon Aron of the American Enterprise Institute put it, when his American ‘partners’ told him to do something, first he would yell& shout, then he would pout & sulk, and then he would cave in. You could count on it. And the fact that Russians were dying off at the rate of a million/year during the ‘FreeMarketDemocraticReforms’ bothered no one with any clout among the AFPE&P.
    But now that the ‘FreeMarketDemocraticReformers’ have been deprived of power and Dick Cheney’s golden boy Mikhail Khodorkovsky the convicted tax fraud has been deprived of his Russian assets before he could sell half of them to Exxon-Mobile, and Russian power has recovered, the AFPE&P are in a permanent star of fury agains Putin & all his works.

  46. Kooshy says:

    Thank you for asking
    Back in 1980 primary ,Teddy was running against Jimmy, it was just after the Iranian revolution and Shah was going country to country begging for a home, if I remember correctly, Teddy’ campaign was the first questioning “who lost Iran” blaming Carter for losing Iran to the revolution. In that I mean American politicians across the party lines including the ones they weren’t even burn at time, blame Iranian revolution for taking part of America from them (they took our Iran). This group feeling on Iran, has now become a chronicle part of the American mentality. And that’s the main reason why American policy on Iran wouldn’t change, the exact opposite to this is the American feeling for Israel. BTW the new SOS Trex just announced US policy on Iran is now officially regime change and reversing the revolution.

  47. plantman says:

    This appeared this morning on almasdar news. It looks like the SDF is trying to block the SAA from retaking Deir Ezzor, which means there could be face off between the two armies. Colonel, do you think this could be important?
    News: According to a military source, if the Syrian Democratic Forces continue to push south towards the strategic town of Resafa, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) will open fire on them because this would be a clear attempt by the US-backed forces to cut them off from the road to Deir Ezzor.
    By cutting off the Syrian Army from the road to Deir Ezzor, the US-backed forces will have access to several oil fields that are desperately wanted by the Syrian government.
    Since the US-backed rebels failed to slow the Syrian Army down in southern Syria, the US is now relying on the Kurdish forces to obstruct Damascus’ expansion eastward.

  48. Croesus says:

    Iran had been one of Israel’s key pillars in its periphery doctrine.
    1. Ronen Bergman wrote in “Thirty Years War” how destabilized Israel was when it was shut out of its former intimate access to Iranian politics and finance. Bergman wrote that Israel had learned to resolve such an intelligence blockage by selling arms to a state, despite its adversarial status. Such a relationship re-opened access to Iran’s most private and crucial decision-making. (The JCPOA also provides for Israel & USA a very wide window into Iran, via IAEA. Let’s not be naive that IAEA keeps its findings confidential, or that only nuclear matters are the subject of surveillance).
    2. Two years ago Yossi Alpher analyzed the present status of Israel’s periphery doctrine. Two things he said were striking:
    a. Israel was moving closer to Saudi Arabia, to protect its periphery; and
    b. Israel’s “loss” of Iran strikes to the heart of Israeli zionist identity. In an interview Bruce Reidel asked Alpher to expand on Israel’s “Iran nostalgia, the desire to get back to the good old days.”
    Alpher responded:

    “[Many senior Israelis] . . . believe to this day that the Islamic Republic is an aberration and a temporary one, and if you somehow push the right military or sanctions button or whatever, they will fall and the good guys will come back to power. . . .
    We Israelis, again, back to that isolation — we Israelis, to this day, have a need to — a deep need to be recognized and accepted by the region. You see, Bibi’s demand, which is supported by most Israelis, that the Palestinians recognize us as a Jewish state, or the state of the Jewish people — the nation-state of the Jewish people — this goes way back, this need to be recognized. It explains our relationships with some of the Christian and Kurdish and Druze minorities as well, and so at the height of the periphery doctrine, when things are going well, there’s this sense that the ancient peoples of the Middle East have created an alliance, the people who precede the Arabs, okay. We go back with Iran, we just celebrated Purim, all right, we go back 2,600 years with Iran. The Egyptian, the Ethiopian national narrative is King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba.
    So, this is almost a biblical — a new biblical chapter.
    This is how some people in Israel felt.
    . . . Everybody in Tehran and in Addis and in Ankara were cynical practitioners of realpolitik. They did not reciprocate. They said, we kidded ourselves that they did. And we still do to this day, because if you believe that . . . — we are somehow Middle Eastern, ancient blood brothers, then who’s Khomeini? This wasn’t meant to be.”

    According to Alpher, it is part of the Israeli identity that they share the legacy of Iran, but Khomeini is an interloper. Overturning the Islamic revolution Khomeini led will reaffirm the Iran-linked identity of Israeli Jews. This is neither military nor geopolitical, it is a psychodynamic.

  49. The Beaver says:

    FWIW: As it happened
    1. 31/01/2011: In interview with Wall Street Journal, Bashar al-Assad suggested that Syria was immune to what happened in Tunisia and Egypt.
    2. 17/2/2011: Dozens chant “Syrian people will not be humiliated” in an unprecedented protest in Damascus after shopkeeper is beaten by police
    3.28/2/2011: 13 opposition activists killed by regime while smuggling injured out of Homs, including British journalist Paul Conroy
    4.15/03/ 2011: In an unprecedented protest in Damascus, dozens chanted “Syria is free!” as they march through Souk al-Hamidiyyah.
    5. 8/3/2011: Anti-regime uprising erupts from Daraa w/ protests against arrest of schoolchildren for anti-regime graffiti. Two protesters killed
    6.19/3/2011: Thousands in Daraa participated in funeral of Hussam Ayyash & Mahmood Jawabra, 1st protesters to be killed in anti-regime uprising
    7. 23/03/2011: Security forces storm #Daraa’s al-Omari mosque, focus of anti-regime protests. 9 protesters killed; dozens arrested.
    8. 24/3/2011: SAG promised reforms incl. potential lifting of emergency law in press conference by Presidential spokeswoman Buthaina Shabaan
    9.25/03/2011: Anti-govt protests spread to several Syrian cities. For 1st time, a statue of Hafez al-Assad in #Daraa is destroyed.
    10. 30/03/2011: In 1st speech since anti-Assad protests began, Assad speaks of a foreign conspiracy, says no reform under pressure.
    11.31/03/ 2011: SAG said that it will form committees to investigate deaths during Daraa protests, and to study lifting emergency law.
    12. 6 /04/ 2011: SAG released hundreds of prisoners, raised salaries of public employees, revoked ban on veiled teachers in public schools.
    upheavals continued and Syrian opposition had long known that an American military intervention on their side had highest odds of toppling Assad for them but that hope was dashed on 18th August 2011 when POTUS decided to state where his administration stood wrt the then 3 months old war
    “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step ASIDE”…….not GO or DOWN.
    but the Borg and the R2P crowd heard something else and we saw:
    24/2/2012: “Friends of Syria” group holds first meeting in Tunis, supports Arab peace plan, calls for safe passage for humanitarian aid.

  50. The Beaver says:

    FWIW: As it happened
    1. 31/01/2011: In interview with Wall Street Journal, Bashar al-Assad suggested that Syria was immune to what happened in Tunisia and Egypt.
    2. 17/2/2011: Dozens chant “Syrian people will not be humiliated” in an unprecedented protest in Damascus after shopkeeper is beaten by police
    3.28/2/2011: 13 opposition activists killed by regime while smuggling injured out of Homs, including British journalist Paul Conroy
    4.15/03/ 2011: In an unprecedented protest in Damascus, dozens chanted “Syria is free!” as they march through Souk al-Hamidiyyah.
    5. 8/3/2011: Anti-regime uprising erupts from Daraa w/ protests against arrest of schoolchildren for anti-regime graffiti. Two protesters killed
    6.19/3/2011: Thousands in Daraa participated in funeral of Hussam Ayyash & Mahmood Jawabra, 1st protesters to be killed in anti-regime uprising
    7. 23/03/2011: Security forces storm #Daraa’s al-Omari mosque, focus of anti-regime protests. 9 protesters killed; dozens arrested.
    8. 24/3/2011: SAG promised reforms incl. potential lifting of emergency law in press conference by Presidential spokeswoman Buthaina Shabaan
    9.25/03/2011: Anti-govt protests spread to several Syrian cities. For 1st time, a statue of Hafez al-Assad in #Daraa is destroyed.
    10. 30/03/2011: In 1st speech since anti-Assad protests began, Assad speaks of a foreign conspiracy, says no reform under pressure.
    11.31/03/ 2011: SAG said that it will form committees to investigate deaths during Daraa protests, and to study lifting emergency law.
    12. 6 /04/ 2011: SAG released hundreds of prisoners, raised salaries of public employees, revoked ban on veiled teachers in public schools.
    upheavals continued and Syrian opposition had long known that an American military intervention on their side had highest odds of toppling Assad for them but that hope was dashed on 18th August 2011 when POTUS decided to state where his administration stood wrt the then 3 months old war
    “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step ASIDE”…….not GO or DOWN.
    but the Borg and the R2P crowd heard something else and we saw:
    24/2/2012: “Friends of Syria” group holds first meeting in Tunis, supports Arab peace plan, calls for safe passage for humanitarian aid.

  51. FourthAndLong says:

    I didn’t succumb. This latest piece hardly makes an airtight case. Buzzfeed definitely has earned the need to be spelled bracketed with inverted commas.
    My initial reaction was “smear campaign, ch 2”, your CYA insight rounds now rounds that out. Many thanks for yr insight and links.
    This piece will broaden and intensify the Russophobia considerably, regrettably.

  52. FourthAndLong says:

    Should add that I dismissed the Owen inquiry entirely at the time simply on the basis of Owen’s claims that Putin was homosexual.
    I could not believe what I was hearing, that a head of state of a superpower was being publicly defamed so grotesquely in open court in Great Britain and if you will forgive me, wondered if the tragic mad cow disease outbreak yrs ago didn’t leave a deeper impact than has been widely appreciated.
    Something similar seems to have occurred here stateside as well.
    I look forward to reading yr 2016 post, and can’t thank you enough for the Barbarossa analysis in PDF.

  53. blowback says:

    “one reason was said to be their concern about the burrowing in of Iran in Syrian military and security apparatuses”
    That sounds like a typical Washington Borg explanation just like the dream that Washington can split Russia and China apart with economic carrots. The reason expressed at the time by Russia was that the pro-rebel countries, Turkey, etc. had escalated by inserting their own forces directly into the proxy war and it looked like the Syrian regime would fall, so Putin did the same.
    One reason that the Russians and Iranians have not sent large numbers of their regular army units to Syria is their concern at being accused of occupation and both understand that the SAA should be as self-financing and capable as possible to be able to survive once Russia and Iran withdraw when this war is over, so I doubt “burrowing in” is on Iran’s agenda.

  54. different clue says:

    Tyler P. Harwell,
    I don’t know, either. Therefor I am in no position to tell you, just as you are in no position to tell me.
    Unfolding events over the next half-year or so should tell us both. If the SARgov transports bunches of Cannibal Liver Eating Jihadis to the Idlib Sump, it should be visible and would hopefully be mentioned or referenced here if it happens.

  55. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    re Croesus, quoting Yossi Alpher: “– we Israelis, to this day, have a need to — a deep need to be recognized and accepted by the region. You see, Bibi’s demand, which is supported by most Israelis, that the Palestinians recognize us as a Jewish state, or the state of the Jewish people — the nation-state of the Jewish people — this goes way back, this need to be recognized.”
    Ya think it might help if they stopped treating everyone else in the region like s**t?

  56. blowback says:

    “3.28/2/2011: 13 opposition activists killed by regime while smuggling injured out of Homs, including British journalist Paul Conroy.
    I think you’ll find that was 2012 not 2011.

  57. FB Ali says:

    It appears that the US has given up on the SDF moving up from Jordan and (backed by US air power) taking large areas of Syria. Instead it has switched to the PKK Kurds, whom it was supporting in the assault on Raqqa.
    For the time being the Kurds are adopting the SDF label, but their operations in both North (Raqqa) and South Syria (Deir Ezzor) are in furtherance of Kurdish goals. They appear to have dropped their earlier plans to limit themselves to retaking only Kurdish areas, and are now openly conquering Arab areas as well, in the hope of retaining them. This article in Der Spiegel is worthwhile: http://tinyurl.com/y76965p5 .
    It appears that Central Command is keeping up the fiction that the Kurds/SDF, with US air support, are still pursuing US goals. In fact, the Kurds are setting up their own mini-state in Syria. They’ll take US support so long as it suits them, but will go their own way when necessary.
    There’s not much that Russia can do about this Kurdish freelancing.

  58. pmr9 says:

    This timeline of events in Daraa in March 2011 is somewhat one-sided. The article by Tim Anderson linked below cites many reports, most in foreign media not supportive of the regime, of attacks on security forces from mid-March onwards. These began with the killing of seven policemen on 17-18 March, followed by ambushes and massacres from late March onwards. Weapons including grenades and automatic rifles were reported to have been found in the al-Omari mosque when it was stormed.

  59. robt willmann says:

    As James noted above, a Syrian SU-22 was shot down by a U.S. F/A-18E Super Hornet today (18 June) at about 6:43 p.m. Syrian time, preceded by a “show of force” to stop an R+6 advance on the town of Ja’Din–
    I have not yet found that press release on the “Combined Joint Task Force” web site, but there is one from earlier today on military strikes the last couple of days–

  60. robt willmann,
    Here’s the CJTFOIR statement.
    The same twitter account says the pilot was captured by SDF forces with a broken leg. This could have been a lot worse. We’ll see what happens as the Tiger Forces continues towards the Euphrates and Deir Ezzor.

  61. robt willmann says:

    And, this press release from Al-Masdar News claims that fighting is going on between the Syrian army and the SDF near the town of Resafa, which is apparently west of Al-Raqqa. It notes that the SAR was trying to rescue a fallen pilot, and it is not clear if the pilot is the one who was shot down by the U.S. earlier today, although that incident may have happened further south–

  62. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Well, life is tough all over.

  63. The Porkchop Express says:

    Is there any particular reason this is being reported now when no one would touch this story 3-4 years ago?

  64. Mikey says:

    Resefa village: 35°37’29″N 38°45’34″E
    Ja’din: 35°40’57″N 38°41’17″E
    These two locations are about 5.5 miles apart.

  65. Gene O says:

    Les –
    As I said in my comment, the salafis were quick to take advantage i Daraa. On the other hand, ahtribune.com is a known publisher of conspiracy theories: they claim Trump’s grampa was a pimp, claim 9/11 was a hoax, claim the holocaust and the Armenian genocide never happened. So I take anything they say with a million grains of salt.

  66. EEngineer says:

    Signaling to the faithful.

  67. FourthAndLong,
    It wasn’t homosexuality, but paedophilia – and the suggestion was not that the accusation was necessarily true, but that it might have provided motive for Litvinenko to be murdered. However, to say that gave it a kind of credibility, and, as you say, Owen’s performance was extraordinary.
    As with the claim that Romano Prodi was a KGB/FSB agent, which he mentioned, and the allegation that Putin had been attempting to equip Al Qaeda with a ‘mini nuclear bomb’, which was produced in evidence but left out of the report, the obvious conclusion was that Litvinenko was a totally unreliable witness.
    In relation to the ‘BuzzFeed’ dossier, what is important is that anything with which Steele is involved quite patently merits zero credibility.
    What Americans need to realise is what kind of animal he is – a superannuated Oxbridge students’ union politician. For a vivid picture of what such people are like, see a report in the ‘Mail’ by Claudia Joseph from February, entitled ‘He took a fact and blew it up into a story that wasn’t true: Former British spy behind Trump dirty dossier is accused of smearing a Cambridge University political rival 32 years ago.’
    (See http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4181272/Trump-dossier-spy-smeared-Cambridge-rival-32-years-ago.html .)

  68. wisedupearly says:

    The Independent headlines “Russia vows to shoot down all flying objects”
    deconfliction hotline suspended, again.

  69. robt willmann says:

    The Russian Ministry of Defense issued a statement today (19 June), if these posts are genuine, that it is not going to cooperate with the de-confliction agreement with the U.S., as a result of the U.S. shooting down a Syrian military jet yesterday. Part of its statement allegedly says–
    “Moreover, at that time the aircraft of the Russian Aerospace Forces were also performing combat missions in the air space of Syria. However, the Command of the coalition forces did not use the existing channels of communication between the Command of the Al Udeid Air Base (Qatar) and the Hmeymim Air Base Command to prevent air incidents in the air space of Syria.
    The Russian party considers those actions of the US Command as an intentional failure to fulfill its obligations within the Memorandum on prevention of incidents and providing of flight security during the operations in Syria dated October 20, 2015.
    Since June 19, 2017, the Russian Defence Ministry has stopped the cooperation with the American party within the Memorandum on prevention of incidents and providing of flight security during the operations in Syria and demands a thorough investigation of the incident by the US Command with further providing of information on its results and the taken measures.
    In the combat mission zones of the Russian aviation in the air space of Syria, all kinds of airborne vehicles, including aircraft and UAVs of the international coalition detected to the west of the Euphrates River will be tracked by the Russian SAM systems as air targets.”
    Not being a Russian speaker, I do not know if this is the same thing–
    Sputnik News says this is now the case–
    The RT news website also says so–

  70. Pundita says:

    robt willmann,
    See TASS for complete, definitive announcement:
    “Russia cuts deconfliction channel with Washington after US downs Syrian jet”
    In case anyone missed this:
    “Tillerson: US Working for Regime Change in Iran”
    Says Specifics of US Policy Are Still Under Development
    Jason Ditz
    Posted on June 15, 2017
    Speaking to the House Foreign Affairs Committee yesterday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was asked about whether or not the Trump Administration’s policy is one of trying to impose regime change on Iran. While Tillerson insisted that the specifics of administration policy on Iran are still under development, he did confirm that the goal remains regime change.
    Exactly how they expect to pull that off remains to be seen, but Tillerson said the US policy as it stands is to rely on “elements inside of Iran” who can be supported toward the end goal of regime change, with the hope it would be a “peaceful transition of that government.”
    The rest is Ditz’s analysis. The webpage has the C-SPAN video of Tillerson’s remarks.
    Tillerson’s remarks, made in public, were very specific but he had to know Tehran was taking note.
    In any case, so much for Trump’s “no more regime change.”

  71. hvd says:

    And how does this differ from the supposed heinous interference of Russia in US politics?

  72. b says:

    This comes at the same time or shortly after the YPG Kurds make nice with the Saudis and want (got?) money from them.

  73. Gene O says:

    Syrian Army (Tiger Forces?) took Resafa a few hours ago.
    Plus there is word that the SDF will repatriate the Syrian pilot that bailed out over their lines after being splashed by the F-18.

  74. FB Ali says:

    According to the Der Spiegel article (linked above), all the different labels used by various Kurd factions are irrelevant – they are all essentially PKK Kurds. Specifically:
    “All groups are under the control of the same Kurdish leadership that has holed up in the expansive Qandil Mountains since the 1990s, from where they provide military and, of particular importance, ideological training to volunteers from Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. All of them revere PKK founder Abdullah “Apo” Öcalan…”
    Despite this (or, because of it?), the Kurds have always made the fatal error of allying themselves, and relying upon, some outside power (ie, from outside the region). This gives them some initial successes, but ultimately proves deadly when the outside power (usually the US) changes its policies, and drops them. This is likely to happen again in Syria.

  75. Pundita says:

    Brig. Ali – I found the Spiegel report to be very helpful, very illuminating. And it pointed up a situation that had been missed by the US media. i wonder how much it’s been understood by the American military command all these many months, and by the Syrian and Russian commands.
    Well, after the Spiegel report, everyone should be up to speed by now.
    [chuckling] I can imagine Erdogan emailing copies of the report to everyone at NATO/CENTCOM with the remark, ‘What have I been trying to tell you?!!’
    The question is how the US and Syrian coalitions are going to react to the Kurdish land grabs.

  76. Pundita says:

    What was Tillerson — or Trump — thinking? Not only did Tehran hear what he said, they responded. The only good news is that Tehran’s response, at least from what Sputnik quoted of it, was surprisingly mild: (I note Sputnik’s brief report tactfully avoided mentioning the specific term “regime change.”)
    From Sputnik, June 20
    “Tehran Summons US Representative Over Tillerson’s ‘Unwise’ Remarks on Iran”
    The Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Swiss charge d’affaires, who represents the United States diplomatically in Iran, to protest the US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson remarks on Iran, local media reported citing Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi.
    On Wednesday Tillerson said that Iran played a destabilizing role in the region and promised that the United States would support those elements inside the Islamic Republic which would bring about peaceful government transition.
    The Tasnim news agency reported that the ministry slammed the remarks on Monday as “unwise and clear meddling in Iran’s internal affairs.”

  77. fanto says:

    I took the time and looked up some of the intriguing cases of sudden deaths which were made public. Of course one can suspect that there are many more cases which never see the light of day. The Western media present almost nothing (correct me if I am wrong) of suspicious deaths in the Asian or African world. The BuzzFeed with its diagram of suspicious lethal events needs (irony alert) help from volunteers like me and maybe some of the SST authors and contributors; the nice curvy lines linking this person to that, should definitely be made into a wider net. I am contributing below the list of names. I start this list with a very old “cold” case of Ivar Krueger (or Kreuger?) – who died under suspicious circumstances in his Paris home, possibly forced to write his suicide note. I include him because of the connections between banks, governments, high finance world. The list is made randomly.
    Ivar Krueger
    Ivars Bruder Torsten Kreuger vertrat die Ansicht, sein Bruder sei ermordet worden. Obwohl Details von Kreugers Tod ungeklärt blieben, wird dies überwiegend als eine Verschwörungstheorie angesehen. Die Vermutungen darüber, wer der Auftraggeber eines Mordes gewesen sei, reichen von der schwedischen Industriellenfamilie Wallenberg über das amerikanische Bankhaus J.P. Morgan bis hin zu Josef Stalin. Unbestreitbar ist, dass Kreuger zahlreiche mächtige Feinde hatte.
    Uwe Barschel
    This reference has curious mention of a possible linkage to the Iran Contra affair.
    Robert Maxwell
    Edmond Safra
    Udo Ulfkotte
    Juergen Moellemann
    … In the 2002 national election, he produced a flyer criticizing Ariel Sharon’s actions against Palestinians and Michel Friedman’s endorsement of those actions; the flyer was regarded as “antisemitic” by some, and the debate surrounding these events led to Möllemann leaving the FDP in March 2003 and resigning his position as NRW party leader; however, he kept his seat in the Bundestag without party affiliation, despite promises to resign from it.
    Möllemann, a passionate and experienced skydiver, died on 5 June 2003 in a parachuting incident at Marl-Loemühle.[1] His death was investigated by the Essen district attorney’s office, which published a final report on 9 July 2003. While outside interference was ruled out, no definite verdict was reached on whether Möllemann committed suicide or had an accident.[2]..”
    David Kelly
    Schloter, Wauthier, Eicher
    „…But the Swiss countryside has not been a picture of calm lately. On July 23, five weeks before Wauthier’s death, Swisscom CEO Carsten Schloter, 49, hanged himself in his home in rural Fribourg, near the capital Bern. (Six weeks earlier, Schloter’s friend Daniel Eicher, CEO of ABC Verlag, a greeting-card company, committed suicide at home in Bern, though little has been reported about his death.) Like Wauthier, Schloter left a suicide note, reportedly short and vague…”
    Andrzej Lepper
    Lepper was against globalisation and for friendly relations with Russia, also rumors of anti-semitism.
    Clifford Baxter: suicide

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