On Sunday, Former CIA Director John Brennan and Former National Intelligence Director (NID) James Clapper appeared on CNN’s morning talk show, State of the Union, to discuss Donald Trump’s brief meeting with Vladimir Putin in Vietnam. The two ex-Intel chiefs were sharply critical of Trump and wondered why the president did not “not acknowledge and embrace” the idea that Russia meddled in the 2016 elections. According to Brennan, Russia not only “poses a national security problem” for the US, but also “Putin is committed to undermining our system, our democracy, and our whole process.”
Naturally, CNN anchor, Jake Tapper, never challenged Brennan or Clapper on any of the many claims they made regarding Russia nor did he interrupt either man while they made, what appeared to be, carefully scripted remarks about Trump, Putin and the ongoing investigation.
There were no surprise announcements during the interview and neither Brennan or Clapper added anything new to the list of allegations that have been repeated ad nauseam in the media for the last year. The only time Tapper veered off course at all was when he asked Brennan whether he thought “any laws were broken by the Trump campaign? Here’s what Brennan said:
I’m just a former intelligence officer. I never had the responsibility for determining whether or not criminal actions were taken. But, since leaving office on the 20th of January, I think more and more of this iceberg is emerging above the surface of the water, some of the things that I knew about, but some of the things I didn’t know about, in terms of some of the social media efforts that Russia employed. So, I think what Bob Mueller, who, again, is another quintessential public servant, is doing is trying to get to the bottom of this. And I think we’re going to find out how large this iceberg really is.
In other words, after an arduous 12 month-long investigation involving both Houses of Congress, a Special Counsel, and a small army of high-paid Washington attorneys, the only straw Brennan has found to hold on to, is a few innocuous advertisements posted on Facebook and Twitter that had no noticeable impact on the election at all. That’s a very weak foundation upon which to build a case for foreign espionage or presidential collusion. It’s hard not to conclude that the public has been seriously misled by the leaders of this campaign.
The Intel bosses continue to believe that they can overcome the lack of evidence by repeating the same claims over and over again. The problem with this theory is that Brennan’s claims don’t match the findings of his own “Gold Standard” report, the so called Intelligence Community Assessment or ICA which was published on January 6, 2017 and which supposedly provides rock solid evidence of Russian meddling. The greatly over-hyped ICA proves nothing of the kind, in fact, the report features a sweeping disclaimer that cautions readers against drawing any rash conclusions from the analysts observations. Here’s the money-quote from the report:
Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact. Assessments are based on collected information, which is often incomplete or fragmentary, as well as logic, argumentation, and precedents.
So, while Brennan continues to insist that the Kremlin was involved in the elections, his own analysts suggest that any such judgments should be taken with a very large grain of salt. Nothing is certain, information is “incomplete or fragmentary”, and the entire report is based on what-amounts-to ‘educated guesswork.’ Is Brennan confused about the report’s findings or is he deliberately trying to mislead the American people about its conclusions?
Here’s Brennan again on Sunday:
I think Mr. Trump knows that the intelligence agencies, specifically CIA, NSA and FBI, the ones that really have responsibility for counterintelligence and looking at what Russia does, it’s very clear that the Russians interfered in the election. And it’s still puzzling as to why Mr. Trump does not acknowledge that and embrace it, and also push back hard against Mr. Putin. The Russian threat to our democracy and our democratic foundations is real.
There appears to be a significant discrepancy between Brennan’s unshakable belief in Russian intervention and the findings of his own “hand picked” analysts who said with emphatic clarity:
Judgments are not intended to imply that we have proof that shows something to be a fact.
Why is it so hard for Brennan to wrap his mind around that simple, unambiguous statement?
The reason Brennan’s intelligence analysts admit that they have no proof, is because they have no proof. That might sound obvious, but we have to assume that it isn’t given that both Houses of Congress and a Special Counsel are still bogged down in an investigation that has yet to provide even a solid lead let alone any compelling evidence.
We also have to assume that most people do not understand that there is not sufficient evidence to justify the massive investigations that are currently underway. (What probable cause?) Adds placed in Facebook do not constitute hard evidence of foreign espionage or election rigging. They indicate the desperation of the people who are leading the investigation. The fact that serious people are even talking about social media just underscores the fact that the search for proof has produced nothing.
These investigations are taking place because powerful elites want to vilify an emerging geopolitical rival (Russia) and prevent Trump from normalizing relations with Moscow, not because there is any evidence of criminal wrongdoing. As the Intel analysts themselves acknowledge, there is no proof of criminal wrongdoing or any other wrongdoing for that matter. What there is, is a political agenda to discredit Trump and demonize Russia. That’s the fuel that is driving the present campaign.
Russia-gate is not about ‘meddling’, it’s about politics. And Brennan and Clapper are critical players in the current drama. They’re supposed to be the elder statesmen who selflessly defend the country from foreign threats. But are they or is this just role-playing that doesn’t square with what we already know about the two men? Here’s thumbnail sketch of Clapper written by former-CIA officer Ray McGovern that will help to clarify the point:
Clapper played a key role in the bogus Iraq-WMD intelligence when he was head of the National Geo-spatial Agency and hid the fact that there was zero evidence in satellite imagery of any weapons of mass destruction before the Iraq invasion. When no WMDs were found, Clapper told the media that he thought they were shipped off to Syria.
In 2013, Clapper perjured himself before Congress by denying NSA’s unconstitutional blanket surveillance of Americans. After evidence emerged revealing the falsity of Clapper’s testimony, he wrote a letter to Congress admitting, “My response was clearly erroneous – for which I apologize.” ….
Clapper also has demonstrated an ugly bias about Russians. On May 28, as a former DNI, Clapper explained Russian “interference” in the U.S. election to NBC’s Chuck Todd on May 28 with a tutorial on what everyone should know about “the historical practices of the Russians.” Clapper said, “the Russians, typically, are almost genetically driven to co-opt, penetrate, gain favor, whatever, which is a typical Russian technique.” (“Mocking Trump Doesn’t Prove Russia’s Guilt”, Ray McGovern, Consortium News)
For nearly a year, Hillary Clinton failed to admit that her campaign and the Democratic National Committee had provided funding for the notorious dossier that alleged Trump colluded with Russia to win the 2016 presidential election. Then, two weeks ago, the Washington Post published a blockbuster article that proved that Clinton had been misleading the public about her Campaign’s role in producing the report. Here’s a snippet from the article in the Post:
“The Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee helped fund research that resulted in a now-famous dossier containing allegations about President Trump’s connections to Russia and possible coordination between his campaign and the Kremlin, people familiar with the matter said.”
Following the article’s publication, Clinton went into hiding for more than a week during which time she huddled with her political advisors to settle on a strategy for dealing with the crisis. On Wednesday, she resurfaced on the Daily Show where she was treated with kid gloves; no hardball questions were asked and she was given plenty of time to recite her prepared remarks without challenge. Naturally, she downplayed her role in contributing to the year-long “hacking-collusion” investigation that has tied up both Houses of Congress, implicated the nation’s main law enforcement and intelligence agencies, and deepened divisions between Washington and Moscow. Here’s part of what Hillary said in the interview:
“When Trump got the nomination of the Republican Party, the people ‘doing it’ (gathering raw intelligence for the dossier) came to my campaign lawyer, and said, would you like us to continue it. He said ‘Yes’. He is an experienced lawyer and knows what the law is. He knows what opposition research is. It’s part of what happens in a campaign where you get information that may or may not be useful and you try make sure anything you put out in public arena is accurate. So this thing didn’t come out until after the election and its’ still being evaluated.”
Clinton wasn’t asked why her campaign tried to obfuscate their role in financing the dossier or whether she felt any remorse for the way the Russia hacking allegations had ballooned into 4 major investigations on Capitol Hill. She wasn’t even asked to comment on the motives of the people who continued to fund the dossier after the DNC terminated their contract in November 2016. Wasn’t she suspicious that these new financiers might have more nefarious objectives in mind, after all, who continues a smear campaign after the election is over, unless, of course, they intend to inflict even more damage on the two main targets, Trump and Russia? Wouldn’t Hillary have figured that out?
Technically speaking, Clinton was right, it was opposition research, which in political parlance means ‘digging up dirt on one’s opponent.” And, yes, it is perfectly legal. But the Trump dossier was much more than that. It was presented as the work of intelligence professionals who were unattached to any political organization. Had the public known that the dossier was financed by the Clinton campaign, they would have known that it was a “malicious and defamatory” hit-piece aimed at improving Clinton’s chances of winning the election.
And when Hillary opines that the dossier was not released before the election, it is certainly not from lack of trying. Her colleagues made every effort to shop the piece to their friends in the media before the balloting, but all of them backed away. The report was simply too lurid and far-fetched to be believed. (In October, just weeks before the election, former M16 agent, Christopher Steele, who authored the dossier, met with reporters from The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Yahoo News.)
The Democrat leaders have not won any friends in the media by concealing their support for the dossier. According to an article at The Hill:
“The New York Times senior White House correspondent Maggie Haberman and reporter Kenneth Vogel are slamming Hillary Clinton’s campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC), saying they lied about funding for the so-called Trump dossier….
“Folks involved in funding this lied about it, and with sanctimony, for a year,” Haberman tweeted to her more than 650,000 followers on Tuesday….
(NYT journalist Kenneth Vogel offered this comment on Twitter) “When I tried to report this story, Clinton campaign lawyer @marceelias pushed back vigorously, saying ‘You (or your sources) are wrong,’ ” Vogel tweeted, referring to Clinton campaign lawyer Marc Elias. (“New York Times reporters blast Dems over Trump dossier funding claims”, The Hill)
Clearly, Clinton did not want the American people to know the real origins of the dossier for fear that they would dismiss its findings as politically-motivated and unreliable. So they lied, and by lying, they helped to fuel the anti-Russia hysteria that’s swept across the country sabotaging any chance for rapprochement between the two nuclear-armed superpowers.
But, why? Why would Hillary persist with the “hacking-collusion” meme after she had already lost the election and had nothing to gain by smearing Trump?
That’s not a question that can be easily answered, but I suspect it has less to do with Hillary’s presidential ambitions than it does with the way her campaign found common cause with powerful members of the intelligence community who wanted to use the hacking narrative to pursue their own geopolitical strategy of isolating, punishing and demonizing Russia. “Russian meddling” became the perfect rallying cry for the CIA’s broader information operation (IO) that was designed to poison public opinion against “Russian aggression” and to reign in Trump’s plans to normalize relations with Moscow. The fact that the CIA had essentially extracted a credible narrative from sections of the notorious dossier, left Hillary with no other option except to play-along even after the votes had been counted. As a result, Clinton became the “fall guy” in a darker, deep-state propaganda campaign for which she is only partially responsible. Here’s a little background from Joe Lauria’s “must read” article “The Democratic Money Behind Russia-gate”:
“…the Steele dossier was shared with the FBI at some point in the summer of 2016 and apparently became the basis for the FBI to seek Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrants against members of Trump’s campaign. More alarmingly, it may have formed the basis for much of the Jan. 6 intelligence “assessment” by those “hand-picked” analysts from three U.S. intelligence agencies – the CIA, the FBI and the NSA – not all 17 agencies that Hillary Clinton continues to insist were involved….
If in fact the Steele memos were a primary basis for the Russia collusion allegations against Trump, then there may be no credible evidence at all.” (Consortium News)
So, were “the Steele memos the primary basis for the Russia collusion allegations against Trump”? This is the pivotal question that still remains largely unanswered. As Lauria notes, the FBI did in fact use the “salacious and unverified” dossier to obtain at least one FISA warrant. This is from The Hill:
“The FBI used the dossier alleging Russian ties to President Trump’s campaign associates to help convince a judge to grant a warrant to secretly monitor former campaign aide Carter Page, CNN reports.
Did the United States warn Russia to stay out of Syria?
Yes, they did.
Did they tell the Russians that if they joined the war against ISIS and helped Bashar al Assad the US would make them pay a heavy price?
Did US agents and diplomats warn their Russian counterparts that Russian troops would “come home in body bags” and that the western media would launch a propaganda campaign against them?
Did US officials say the western media would concoct a phony story about “Russian hacking” that would be used to persuade the American people that Russia was a dangerous enemy that had to be reined in with harsh economic sanctions, provocative military maneuvers, and threats of violence?
No, but it’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which the CIA would pursue such a strategy. After all, the Intel agencies, the media and the entire political establishment have been hammering on Russia for over two years now. Isn’t it possible that elements of these three factions decided to pool their resources in order to poison the public’s perception of Russia? Hasn’t the US government dabbled in these type of psychological operations (PSYOPS) many time before?
Of course, they have. And in prior incidents, the facts were fixed to fit the policy just as they have been in this case. For example, the Bush administration had already decided to topple Saddam long-before they cooked up their fake stories about mobile weapons labs, Niger uranium, aluminum tubes and “Curveball”. Doesn’t the same rule apply here? Haven’t the “facts” about collusion, Pokémon Go and Facebook all been concocted after-the-fact to support the original thesis, that Russia meddled in the election?
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. What we know is that high-ranking members of the US State Department and Pentagon threatened Moscow prior to Russia’s military intervention in October, 2015. US diplomats made it clear that if Russia helped the Syrian government, Washington would use the media and its other assets to retaliate. According to Russia’s Foreign Affairs Spokesperson, Maria Zakharova:
We were asked to pass on to you the most serious warnings that Russia will be hurt by its actions.. We will make sure that Russia really knows what pain is……Keep in mind that everything you do will be manipulated by the media which will cancel out the real (positive) effects of your work. ..You are going to fight terrorists, but you will be made to look like the bad guy.
These threats were delivered to us many times in 2015 as part of the discussions with the Russia’s Representative of Foreign Affairs and his international counterparts. (During Kerry-Lavrov meetings)
We’re talking about the world’s elite who told us these things.
When we told them exactly what targets we planned to strike, they launched a disinformation media campaign against us. Officials from the White House and State Department directly threatened to hurt us. They promised that we’d “come home in body bags” not only diplomatic representatives but also the Secretary of Defense…..The US showed us that the strongest military has unlimited rights to create evil in the world.”
(See the whole interview on YouTube.
Zakharova’s admission is interesting for many reasons. First, it confirms that the US did not want to see the jihadist extremists defeated by Russia. These mainly-Sunni militias served as Washington’s proxy-army conducting an ambitious regime change operation which coincided with US strategic ambitions.
Second, Zakharova confirms that the western media is not an independent news gathering organization, but a propaganda organ for the foreign policy establishment who dictates what they can and can’t say. When Zakharova says, “everything you do will be manipulated by the media”, she is tacitly acknowledging that the MSM works in concert with the US government shaping a message that best achieves US imperial objectives. In this case, the obvious goal is the removal of Bashar al Assad and the partitioning of the state consistent with US plans to redraw the map of the Middle East. Russian intervention derailed that plan which is why Russia is despised.
Third, Zakharova’s comments suggest a motive for the Russia hacking campaign. Russia has become an insurmountable obstacle to Washington’s plans for global hegemony. It has blocked US progress in Ukraine and rolled backed US proxy-forces in Syria. Additionally, Russia has united the countries in Central Asia (EEU) and threatens to economically integrate Europe and Asia into the world’s biggest free trade zone spanning from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Here’s a quote from Putin that explains what’s going on:
“Russia is an inalienable and organic part of Greater Europe and European civilization. Our citizens think of themselves as Europeans…That’s why Russia proposes moving towards the creation of a common economic space from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, a community referred to by Russian experts as ‘the Union of Europe’ which will strengthen Russia’s potential in its economic pivot toward the ‘new Asia.’”
Putin’s dream of Greater Europe is the death knell for the unipolar world order. It means the economic center of the world will shift to Central Asia where abundant resources and cheap labor of the east will be linked to the technological advances and the Capital the of the west eliminating the need to trade in dollars or recycle profits into US debt. The US economy will slip into irreversible decline, and the global hegemon will steadily lose its grip on power. That’s why it is imperative for the US prevail in Ukraine– a critical landbridge connecting the two continents– and to topple Assad in Syria in order to control vital resources and pipeline corridors. Washington must be in a position where it can continue to force its trading partners to denominate their resources in dollars and recycle the proceeds into US Treasuries if it is to maintain its global primacy. The main problem is that Russia is blocking Uncle Sam’s path to success which is roiling the political establishment in Washington.
The US wants to retaliate for the defeat of its proxy army in Syria but it’s not prepared for a military clash. Not yet, at least. And, keep in mind, Washington’s Sunni proxies were not a division of the Pentagon; they were entirely a CIA confection: CIA recruited, CIA-armed, CIA-funded and CIA-trained. The defeat is not a loss for the US Military, but a blot on the record of CIA Director John Brennan, the architect and main proponent of the failed project to remove Assad. Brennan’s whole scheme has gone down in flames.
Why is that important?
Because it suggests that Brennan had a strong motive to strike back at Moscow. He had “a dog in the fight”, and his dog lost. And since he couldn’t win on the battlefield, his only choice was to launch an asymmetrical attack via the media. Isn’t this where the Russia hacking idea originated?
If it did, then there should be footprints that lead back to Brennan himself, the primary source of the psyops. Check out this excerpt from The Washington Times:
What caused the Barack Obama administration to begin investigating the Donald Trump campaign last summer has come into clearer focus following a string of congressional hearings on Russian interference in the presidential election.
The Senate Intelligence Committee has made it clear that it is not conducting an open and independent investigation of alleged Russian hacking, but making a determined effort to support a theory that was presented in the January 6, 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment. Committee Chairman Senator Richard Burr (R-N.C.) admitted as much in a press conference last Wednesday when he said:
We feel very confident that the ICA’s accuracy is going to be supported by our committee.
Burr’s statement is an example of “confirmation bias” which is the tendency to interpret information in a way that confirms one’s own preexisting beliefs. In this case, Burr and his co-chair, Senator Mark Warner have already accepted the findings of a hastily slapped-together Intelligence report that was the work of “hand-picked” analysts who were likely chosen to produce conclusions that jibed with a particular political agenda. In other words, the intelligence was fixed to fit the policy. Burr of course has tried to conceal his prejudice by pointing to the number of witnesses the Committee has interviewed and the volume of work that’s been produced. This is from an article at The Nation:
Since January 23,… the committee and its staff have conducted more than 100 interviews, comprising 250 hours of testimony and resulting in 4,000 pages of transcripts, and reviewed more than 100,000 documents relevant to Russiagate. The staff, said Warner, has collectively spent a total of 57 hours per day, seven days a week, since the committee opened its inquiry, going through documents and transcripts, interviewing witnesses, and analyzing both classified and unclassified material.
It all sounds very impressive, but if the goal is merely to lend credibility to unverified assumptions, then what’s the point?
Let’s take a look at a few excerpts from the report and see whether Burr and Warner are justified in “feeling confident” in the ICA’s accuracy.
From the Intelligence Community Assessment:
We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the US presidential election. Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump. We have high confidence in these judgments.
This is the basic claim of Russia meddling that has yet to be proved. As you can see, the charge is mixed with liberal doses of mind-reading mumbo-jumbo that reveal the authors’ lack of objectivity. There’s a considerable amount of speculation about Putin’s motives and preferences which are based on pure conjecture. It’s a bit shocking that professional analysts– who are charged with providing our leaders with rock-solid intelligence related to matters of national security– would indulge in this type of opinionated blather and psycho-babble. It’s also shocking that Burr and Warner think this gibberish should be taken seriously.
Here’s more from the ICA:
Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012, and because he holds a grudge for comments he almost certainly saw as disparaging him.
More mind-reading, more groundless speculation, more guessing what Putin thinks or doesn’t think. The ICA reads more like the text from a morning talk show than an Intelligence report. And what is it about this report that Burr finds so persuasive? It’s beyond me. The report’s greatest strength seems to be that no one has ever read it. If they had, they’d realize that it’s nonsense. Also, it would have been better if the ICA’s authors had avoided the amateur psychoanalysis and stuck to the point, Russia hacking. Dabbling in the former seriously impacts the report’s credibility.
To their credit, however, Burr and Warner have questioned all of the analysts who contributed to the report. Check out this excerpt from The Nation:
“We have interviewed everybody who had a hand or a voice in the creation of the ICA,” said Burr. “We’ve spent nine times the amount of time that the IC [intelligence community] spent putting the ICA together.… We have reviewed all the supporting evidence that went into it and, in addition to that, the things that went on the cutting-room floor that they may not have found appropriate for the ICA, but we may have found relevant to our investigation.” Burr added that the committee’s review included “highly classified intelligence reporting,” and they’ve interviewed every official in the Obama administration who had anything to do with putting it together. (“Democrats and Republicans in Congress Agree: Russia Did It”, The Nation)
That’s great, but where’ the beef? How can the committee conduct “100 interviews, comprising 250 hours of testimony and resulting in 4,000 pages of transcripts” without producing a shred of evidence that Russia meddled in the elections? How is that possible? The Committee’s job is to prove its case not to merely pour over the minutia related to the investigation. No one really cares how many people testified or how much paperwork was involved. What people want is proof that Russia interfered with the elections or that members of the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow. That’s the whole point of this exercise. And, on the collusion matter, at least we have something new to report. In a rare moment of candor, Burr blurted out this gem:
“There are concerns that we continue to pursue. Collusion? The committee continues to look into all evidence to see if there was any hint of collusion. Now, I’m not going to even discuss any initial findings because we haven’t any.”
Think about that. After “100 interviews, 250 hours of testimony, and 4000 transcript pages” there’s not the slightest hint of collusion. It’s mindboggling. Why isn’t this front page news? Why haven’t the New York Times or Washington Post run this in their headlines, after all, they’ve hyped every other part of this story?
Could it be that Burr’s admission doesn’t mesh with the media’s “Russia did it” narrative so they decided to scrub the story altogether?
But it’s not just collusion we’re talking about here, there’s also the broader issue of Russia meddling. And what was striking about the press conference is that –after all the interviews, all the testimony, and all the stacks of transcripts– the Committee has come up with nothing; no eyewitness testimony supporting the original claims, no smoking gun, no proof of domestic espionage, no evidence of Russian complicity, nothing. One big goose egg.
So here’s a question for critical minded readers:
If the Senate Intelligence Committee has not found any proof that Russia hacked the 2016 elections, then why do senators’ Burr and Warner still believe the ICA is reliable? It doesn’t really make sense, does it? Don’t they require evidence to draw their conclusions? And doesn’t the burden of truth fall on the prosecution (or the investigators in this case)? Isn’t a man innocent until proven guilty or doesn’t that rule apply to Russia?
For more than six years, Syrians have made great sacrifices to defend their country in the face of a terrorist war of unprecedented brutality…. The Syrian people have stood their ground, against all odds, because they knew that this was a war that sought to eliminate their country, and with it, their own existence. They are an example to follow by any people who might face, now or in the future, similar attempts to break their will and deny them their freedom and sovereignty.
— Walid Al-Moualem, Syria’s Deputy Prime Minister, Statement at the UN General Assembly
Washington has delayed its project to throw up an iron curtain along the eastern banks of the Euphrates River in order to deploy its Kurdish shock troops deep into Deir Ezzor province. The Syrian Defense Forces or SDF have been blitzing southward for nearly a week to head off the steady advance of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and their elite Tiger Forces. The SAA’s stunning triumph in Deir Ezzor has knocked Washington for a loop triggering all manner of erratic behavior including rocket and mortar attacks on SAA troop positions, a US-coordinated stealth attack in Idlib province, and numerous other provocations meant to divert attention from the main strategic objective, the lucrative Euphrates Valley oil fields.
At present, the SDF is in the best position to liberate the oil fields from ISIS’s control. One must ask, however, why the SDF has suddenly diverted its attention from the siege of Raqqa and hastily send its troops south to the oil fields if their intention was not to claim ownership of those fields and to prevent the regime’s forces from retaking them? That, in fact, is the only logical explanation for their behavior.
Clearly, the SDF is not acting on its own behalf, but merely following Washington’s orders putting itself at great risk (of direct aerial bombardment by the Russian Airforce) simply to placate Washington’s insatiable lust for oil. Here’s more from South Front:
“Tensions are rapidly growing between the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) and Syrian government forces in the province of Deir Ezzor, north of the provincial capital.
Last week, the SDF used the intense fighting between the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and ISIS and seized Isba and Tabiyeh oil and gas fields located north of Khusham village on the east bank of the Euphrates.” (South Front)
The actions of the SDF confirm that the US-backed militia can no longer be seen as a Syrian ally assisting in the fight against ISIS. The SDF is yet another hostile, insurgent group that is implementing Washington’s imperial agenda. The only question is whether the Syrian Army and their allies will deal with the group as harshly as they have with ISIS. But, of course, the SAA has no choice in the matter since the SDF is trying to seize vital resources that are crucial to the Syria’s survival. In short, US-backed proxies and Russian-backed coalition members are going to clash militarily because Washington has eliminated any other option. Here’s more from South Front:
“On Monday, the (mainly Kurdish) SDF media wing directly accused the Russian Aerospace Forces of bombing its positions near the Conico gas factroy….The SDF Command released a statement accusing Russia of supporting ISIS against the SDF:
“The Russian and regime forces launched an attack on our fighters in Conico Factory… with cannons and warplanes. The bombardment resulted in martyring and wounding a number of the fighters. It is worth noting that we are advancing in coordination with the Global Coalition Forces…
We strongly condemn the Russian aggressive attacks and their allies that serve terrorism, and we assure that we would not stand idly by, and we would use our right in the lawful defense.” (South Front)
The so called “Global Coalition Forces” is a Washington invention that was never invited to fight in Syria and which violates Syria’s sovereignty. Also, the claim that the SDF will ‘lawfully defend’ itself against the forces of the sovereign government is not worthy of a comment. The SDF has no legal right to conduct military operations on Syrian territory.
Also, by its own admission, the SDF is trying to seize the Conico Gas Factory. And, on Monday, they continued their surge southward capturing Ibsah and Taibah oil fields and pushing further towards Jafra fields.
Does Washington think that Assad and Putin are too blind to see what’s going on?
Of course, not. Washington is focused on oil, and its proxies are doing its handiwork. It’s as plain as the nose on your face. But, there’s one glitch: If Washington wants Syria’s oil, it’s going to have to fight for it.
On Sunday, The Russian Ministry of Defense released aerial images showing that US Army special forces are either collaborating or have reached some kind of accommodation with ISIS units in the Deir Ezzor area. It’s an interesting story, but it is hard to draw any clear conclusions based on the photos. What is undeniable, however, is that the US-backed forces seem much more focused on oil than they are on ISIS. Not surprisingly, ISIS has taken full advantage of the situation by launching a lethal decapitation attack on the Russian high-command. This is from Moon of Alabama:
“Last night a Russian three-star general and two colonels were killed in a mortar attack while they visited a Syrian army headquarter in Deir Ezzor:
Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov, of the Russian armed forces, has been killed after coming under shelling from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants near Deir ez-Zor, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced. In its statement, the ministry said that Asapov was at a command outpost manned by Syrian troops, assisting commanders in the liberation of the city of Deir ez-Zor.
Lieutenant-General Valery Asapov is the highest-ranking Russian officer to be killed in the Syrian campaign. He was a commander of the 5th Army in Russia’s Eastern Military District.”
For three years ISIS had besieged Syrian troops in Deir Ezzor city and its airport. It had not once managed to successfully attack the Syrian headquarter or to kill high ranking officers. Now, as U.S. proxy forces “advised” by U.S. special forces, have taken position north of Deir Ezzor, “ISIS” suddenly has the intelligence data and precision mortar capabilities to kill a bunch of visiting Russian officers?
That is not plausible. No one in Damascus, Baghdad, Tehran or Moscow will believe that…” (“Syria – U.S. CentCom Declares War On Russia”, Moon of Alabama)
Moscow has already drawn its own conclusions about Washington’s role in the General’s death. There will be retaliation, that much is certain. More important, the mask of US involvement has been stripped away leaving the two adversaries standing face to face. Lines of communication remain open, but they’re useless when both parties are determined to capture the same scrap of land. Disputes like this, are typically settled on the battlefield which is where this one is headed.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.