A British airstrike by an RAF Reaper drone, pictured, has killed ISIS fighters in Syria. It is the first time they have been struck since MPs voted to launch air strikes in the country
DDGD January 2, 2016
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A Preview of 2016
by the world’s most famous think tanks and intelligence analysts
Does France’s recent strike against oil IS installations in Raqqah
contradict the thesis I present in this article? No. The sites were
of minor significance, and of the type previously targeted by
the U.S. and Russia, that is,they consist of sotrage facilities and
small separation units. IS has quite of them, and, relatively speaking,
they are easy to replace and relatively cheap.
* Experts at the CSIS, the Brookings Institution, the Woodrow Wilson Center and the Carnegie Endowment for World Peace, among other American think tanks, predict that the term of President Obama in office will finally come to an end sometimes during the last quarter of 2016; with their indicators indicating that he will likely be succeeded either by a Republican or a Democrat.
* Professional sanctimonious bastard and occasional GOP presidential candidate, Donald Trump, predicts that 2016 will be “uuuuuge” for him, and his family. However, experts are not sure if he was referring to the size of his ego, or his chances at actually winning the nomination. What they are certain of, however, is that the size of his actual dick is definitely not the issue here, as Mr. Trump’s compensatory manners have always been easy to read.
* The strategic whatchamacallit, Stratfor, forecasts that people will keep on consuming water, eating food and breathing throughout 2016 despite the inherent risks to the environment. They also note that the likelihood of holding an international conference to ban such dangerous activities is still not in the cards for that year.
* Financial analysts at the IMF and the World Bank are forecasting that the world financial systems will witness another meltdown sometimes during 2016, but, they note, that the meltdown will take place during a global economic uptick and increased investments in securities and bonds, a phenomenon which may or may not help to counterbalance the potential effects of the possible meltdown at a time of growing insecurity and rapid repeated fluctuations of stock prices and markets stability.
* Meanwhile, foreign policy experts have unanimously predicted that the world will witness quite a bit of turbulence in 2016 due to conflicts and sheer assholery and incompetence on part of so many world leaders and “those pesky terrorists.” In response, they advise the current administration to do everything it can and want to do, and absolutely nothing that it cannot or does not want to do, in order to ensure that American interests, defined as those things that are particularly interesting to certain segments of the interested public, are protected.
* Finally, and in regard to Syria, Syria experts are seriously predicting that 2016 will be a year of more Syria predictions made by an ever multiplying number of Syria experts who by now should know more or more likely less about Syria than they had few bloody Syrian years ago when they all advocated a policy of active involvement in producing more Syria experts in order to expertly analyze the Syrian situation in a manner that could lead to a greater understanding of the sheer courage and intellectual travails of Syria experts and the difficult challenges they often encounter in a world where their expertise and their growing mental anguish as a result of having to continuously monitor the quagmire that is today’s Syria, on their own, is so callously shunned and ill appreciated by all and sundry, despite being consistently devoid of any common sense, decency or accuracy, that is, the very stuff that news agencies and outlets are always in the hunt for ad with which they continuously bombard us.
The Assassination of Naji Al-Jarf by the Coward Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi: Syria anti-Islamic State documentary maker 'assassinated' in Turkey “Naji Jerf was killed in Gaziantep, only a couple of months after Isil claimed responsibility for killing Ibrahim Abdelkader and a friend in southern Turkey.”
The killing of Naji has united many Syrians from different ideological persuasion in grief, and sparked few conspiracy theories, with some seeing the timing of his killing a day before he left for France, a reason to be suspicious, and positing that perhaps other actors could be behind the tragic event.
But, there is little reason for conspiratorial thinking here, and the act that he died a die before his trip to Paris, a city he visited before, seems incidental. Those who know Naji, or, at least, of him, as is the case with me, know pretty well that IS had some very good reasons to want him dead: he was a secular intellectual who supported like-minded activists in Raqqa, city and governorate, who were busy chronicling IS quiet slaughter of the spirit of a place known for its rebellious and independent streak. Through Hintah, the journal he edited, he also provided young secular activists with an important platform to debate ideas and to expose both IS and Assad’s crimes. His connection to Western organizations was also anathematic to the organization, which, like the Assad regime, prefers to deal with an isolated and docile population. Naji was not the kind of person who could give anyone such satisfaction. The campaign against figures like Naji was began by the Assad regime and long before the revolution. In fact, it has always been a hallmark of the security state that the Assad built in Syria, transforming what was one a potentially viable albeit struggling democracy into a failed-state project. Fascists sustain themselves by killing the hope in our hearts and the light in our minds. That’s why people like Naji live with an X mark on their foreheads, theirs is always a death foretold.
Hot. Hot. Hot.
What was really achieved in Paris COP21?
The implications of the Paris Agreement on climate change: Since the whole idea is to move beyond fossil fuel (coal, oil and natural gas) dependency by 2050, one cannot but wonder as to the potential fate of all those states who depend on fossil fuel production and sales to keep their economies functioning. Were they given enough time to make the transition beyond this particular dependency? More importantly, and setting aside the sole reliance on a “name and shame” policy as the only “enforcement” tool, how economically feasible for certain states to make such a transition, or to ditch their dependency on fossil fuel?
In practical terms, the agreement signals the beginning of a century long multifaceted and complicated competition pitting fossil fuel producers against each other, against consumers and against those countries that can actually afford to make the transition. In fact, when the transition begins to hurt, many countries will regard the agreement as Western-led conspiracy.
To fund the transition, producer counties will have to keep prices at a certain level and control the flow, increasing or decreasing it, developing new fields or opposing such development, all according to their immediate needs, or whatever inter-mediate or long-term plans they have. The personalities of different leaders and ideological predilections will add another layer of complexity. It is these countries that need to “conspire.” Their interactions will play out on different levels ranging from diplomatic pressures, to economic sanctions, to military intervention and support to terrorist groups. The intervention of Iran, Russia, Qatar and Saudi Arabia in Syria seems to be fueled, in part, by such considerations.
Meanwhile, countries like China may not be able to afford the transition at such an “early” date, and/or might require an intermediate step: finding its own cheap fossil fuel sources other than coal to keep itself going. This could translate into greater assertiveness in the South China Sea, and beyond over the next few decades. What about other countries in the area? How about Nigeria? Venezuela? Brazil? Turkmenistan? Azerbaijan? The Arctic?
Whatever the answers are, and irrespective of the necessity of the Paris Agreement and the transition itself from an environmental perspective, the immediate outcomes of the Paris Agreement in practical terms is more state failures, more conflicts, more atrocities and more tragedies – all happening at a time when the international order is in complete disarray, democracies are retrenching, and illiberal forces are reasserting themselves on the global scene. The environmental consequences of all that might nullify whatever benefits that could be derived from a reduction in dependence on fossil fuel.
No matter what we do, there is not running away from the need of establishing a strong international system for managing the transition with all its complications. We need to reinvent the UN. But first we need to find and empower the right caliber leadership, morally and strategically, to make this possible.
Whackamolia: A land that would have been considered mythical and fantastical had it not been all too real. It in effect overlays the known world imposing a new reality on it that allows for certain security threats to seem defeated in certain locations, only to emerge, almost simultaneously, elsewhere, where it metastasizes and fractures giving birth to new entities that will develop lives and minds of their own. Once all attention is shifted to them, the original threatening entity soon reemerges in its old habitats, even as it continues to spread elsewhere as well. One has to develop two, three, ten hands and keep on developing hands, as it tries to whack this mole that keeps gnawing at its skin.
Not to be confused with Guacamolia – a new restaurant chain dedicated to celebrating the countless ways in which Guacamole can enchant the human pallet by fusing together different cuisines from the Far East to the rugged West. The chain will be launched once a certain author and activist wins the lottery, finds the right partners and learns how to cook.
Druncula: A smug and vicious tyrant going through a particularly repressive and bloody period in his rule, and relishing every bit of it.
The Daily Delirynth
Syriosis: U.N. Sets Syrian Peace Talks as Fighting Complicates Task. They will talk, they will spit / And we’ll all wallow in their shit / For the mess they have made / Will linger long after they fade.
Syria: A top rebel's death casts doubt over Bashar al-Assad's intentions. Oh come on. Bashar's intentions have always been clear, ever since he became the heir apparent even. There’s no point in raising this issue anymore. We are dealing with a genocidal killer, pure and simple, a man whose’ sole interest is to remain in play as an "indispensable leader," even if that called on him to whore himself, and the tattered remains of the country that he continues to treat as his personal fiefdom, to the Iranians and Russians. The Annals of Shame is stock-full of maniacal figures yet, and despite his mediocrity in our world, there… there he shines.
The lavish side of Syria that Americans never see. “The documentary, "Inside Assad's Syria," opens with young Syrians drinking and dancing at a rooftop bar in Damascus, which seems unfathomable with the contrasting footage of constant bombing and tank fighting going on in the capital city. It also shows lavish resorts, wealthy Syrians enjoying the Mediterranean beach, and regime loyalists attending the national symphony.” Well, that gives a new meaning to the term “dances despite her wounds,” which was the title of a movie directed by my late father back in the early 1970s. The difference here of course is that the dancers are not the ones who are injured, and that there is nothing heroic or admirable in their dancing while their country falls apart, and they continue to celebrate and lionize, so to speak, the man responsible for it all. My father’s movie was meant as socialist celebration of a marginalized and reviled figure in our society: the belly-dancer, by showing her human, noble and self-sacrificing side. It condemned both the elite and traditional morality. How things have changed! Under Assad rule, the country became chockful of dancers of all types, but none of them is noble, not to mention heroic. And their new morality is much worse than the traditional one. IS, Al-Nusra and other extremist groups are but pale mirror reflections of Assad’s loyalists, and to a lesser extent, the rest of us as well. Those who cheer are worse than those who do the actual killing. They are all drenched in guilt.
Gyanu Reshmi Magar, 25, was trafficked to Syria from Nepal. ‘All I did was work and sleep. I didn’t leave the house for seven months.’ Photograph: Pete Pattisson
And this is another side of Syria’s lavish side: Nepalese women trafficked to Syria and forced to work as maids “Unscrupulous agents lure women into conflict zones with promises of employment abroad only to leave them working long hours for little or no pay.” I guess, Assad’s wealthy loyalists, and those loyalists by proxy, that is, through their silence, don’t have enough access to enough downtrodden Syrians to abuse; they now have to import them. Poor Assad & loyalists. Or, in the parlance of the international left, the real revolutionaries and the true face of the legitimate resistance to imperialism. Sometimes true colors are as ugly as the various shades of shit.
Hezbollah Fighters Are Fed Up With Fighting Syria’s War. Well, dying for an Ass is as appetizing as dying for few dozen virgins, and Hezbollah fighters know they are dying for an Ass. But in the meantime, Hezbollah fighters are playing in active part in the siege of Madaya: War in Syria: Up to 40,000 civilians are starving in besieged Madaya, say campaigners “Miles from the border with Lebanon, residents of a Syrian town are being forced to eat insects, plants and even cats after a siege lasting six months, hemmed in by land mines and Hezbollah forces.” Their comrades in nearby Zabadani recently had to surrender to the inevitable as part of a deal. The same scenario seems to be in the works here.
And when one is dealing with an Ass one is bound to confront Assholery. There is what the Talentless Mr. Shitly has just done: Syria Arrests Opposition Figures on Way to Riyadh Meeting, then, Syria releases prominent opposition figures. Yeah, it’s a catch and release program for autocrat entertainment. For at end of the day, it’s the very assholes who initially broke it who will end up talking about how to further break it. They will talk, they will spit…
The Kurds Are Coming: Turkey may finally be 'accepting the inevitable' in Syria. Leave it to my senescent country of origin and a lingering passion to turn everybody into a fatalist. But the sum total of my experiences so far, and the few insights that I have managed to draw from it, inform me that the inevitable is more often a haphazard creation than a haphazard occurrence, a product of unintended, semi-intended, or not really intended, at least not for now, consequences.
Finally, Syria said goodbye to 2015 with over 55,000 dead.
Of Juju and Mojo: State Dept. counts 'bringing peace' to Syria as a 2015 win. What is that powerful Juju that you do do at the Obama Administration that makes you feel soooo outta this world, man? So much so that you see peace in havoc, victory in failure, wisdom in amoral folly, and a great ambassador for women’s empowerment in the Muslim World in a person as angry and, perhaps, self-loathing, as Ayan Hirsi Ali? Wrong Mojo!
Regarding Syria, my objection should be obvious, but perhaps not to an administration run by a President like Mr. Barack Slug-on-Crack Obama and a Secretary of State like Mr. Johnny Obviously. They see wasteland, made by others admittedly but allowed to happen through their indifference, and they call it peace, and their acceptance of the consequences of their acceptance victory.
Regarding Ayan, I understand why she should feel how she feels, I was in her position at one point in my life, that period when you get disillusioned with something that was part of your life for so long (albeit as a woman and a victim of FGM, her personal experiences are far tougher than mine). It’s normal to feel angry at the time, and to hold that thing in particular disdain for a while thereafter. But continuing to do so for so long, and to intellectualize it even, is quite pathological. I am so over that particular period in my life, I cannot even remember how it felt, or understand the appeal. But that my autistic part, I guess. I mean I feel the same about my literal yesterday at this stage. Others are bound to have some lingering feelings and sensations. Still, to have so much anger inside of you to this day, as to continue seeing Islam as particularly toxic, does give me pause. There are far more objective reasons for the toxicity imbuing the lives of people of in Muslim-majority countries and communities that are far more relevant than Islam. Islam is only a small part of the problem, and treating it with so much anger and disdain is counterproductive. Not that I am against heresy and ridicule, hell now, I am against the negative exceptionalism projected onto Islam.
No, Islam is not particularly evil, and the great majority of our problems will not be over if we turned away from it towards other faith systems. The rule of reason doesn’t completely require a disbelief in the metaphysical, it simply demands that we be less assertive about it, or, at very least, nonviolent in our assertion of it. When faith breeds anger and hate rather than serenity and confidence, there is something definitely wrong with it, but that seems a problem with the particular faithful lot involved rather than the faith itself. The same observation holds true for faithlessness.
I am not trying to vilify Ayan, but being fellow heretics should not spare us from each other’s criticism, even if vehement. We can bicker and still stand by each other’s right to have different opinions.
UmReeka: US warns Russian strikes in Syria killing civilians. The US? Who’s the US? Why should anyone care about her warnings? What will she do? Bitch about it?
The Tall Tales of Vladdipus The Annoying Murderous Puss: Vladimir Putin’s Quotes: A Collection for the Discerning Russian Official. Oh yeah, he drank his Kool Aide. He really really did. And his bearable cost is overbearing somehow: U.S. sees bearable costs, key goals met for Russia in Syria so far. For it consists of too much “collateral damage”: U.S. blasts Russian "indiscriminate attacks" in Syria.
And to top it off, here he is Vladdie the Ethnic Cleanser, with a purpose, the Child Killer, only as “collateral damage”, the Enclaves-Maker, for strategic purposes only, the Stalwart Defender of Autocrats, big and small, smart and dumb, cocky and cock-eating (think Assad and you won’t be wrong), the Voracious Feaster on the West's Indifference and Folly (where supplies are bounteous these days)... delivering a message to President Obama the Reluctant, the Walk-Backer of Promises and Threats, the Wise beyond everyone else’s years that his wisdom ends up losing its relevance to any reality at all, and all illusions – a message, or to put it in political French, un mensonge, calling for cooperation (is there really a word for that in the Russian political lexicon?) in order to "successfully take on new challenges and threats." The new challenges and threats that people like them will keep generating, Vladdie and ilk through their aggression, and Obama and comrades through their indifference. Quite the timely message indeed.
The Faqihnameh: Iran appoints new commander in Syria. “Following the “large number of IRGC casualties in Syria, especially the death of General Hossein Hamedani, commander of the Iranian regime’s forces in Syria, and injury to Commander of the IRGC Quds Force (QF) Qassem Soleimani, Ayatollah Khamenei appointed IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Jafar Assadi the IRGC commander in Syria,” the opposition group National Council of Resistance of Iran said.” So, this is our new Faqih-in-Chief. Well, enchanté, and charmed I am sure! What a fortuitous development! An Assadi for Assad? Wow! Talk about a match made in the lowest depths of the highest of hells.
And there’s no stopping the faqihs now: Iranian Revolutionary Guards fired rockets near U.S. warships in Gulf - U.S. Such acts may not make a difference for Obama & Co., but their domestic, regional and international impact is enormous. Iran is the new boy in the hood now. It creates a meaningless little showdown with America in the Gulf, and intimidates a region. Obama may not care, but there are Saudis fulminating, and others quaking in their boots. That will dictate the nature of future actions by all, and that will have a strategic impact of which the U.S. should be mindful, and which may not be positive.
But for now, it’s back to the usual fake mystified responses: “Missile test! What missile test? We never tested no freakin’ missile!” and the usual game of sanctions: Obama Administration Preparing Fresh Iran Sanctions “Nearly a dozen companies and individuals targeted over ballistic-missile program.” And the usual show of indignant defiance: Rouhani Says Iran Has Right to Develop Missiles, Expands Program. Ah the deal that keeps on... dealing. The more things change the more they stay as shitty as they had been all along.
Iran's Plan for Syria Without Assad. Let’s make this clear: Assad has long become dispensable, and Iran has for long been planning for a Syria without him. I first raised this issue back in a report published on January 15, 2013. In it, I referred to Iran’s ongoing efforts at the time to build a command structure under Assad made up of loyalist militia leaders and some new rising “stars” within the Alawite security establishment. The report concluded with this statement:
Once the new structure is consolidated, or is close to consolidation, Assad himself and perhaps some of his close advisers, might be seen as liabilities, and Assad as a martyr might just prove more relevant and useful to the cause of Alawite Pride than his continued survival. With his martyrdom, there will be no risk of him doing or saying anything that can jeopardize the movement and the new power structure.
But in order for Iran and Russia to divest themselves of Assad, they still need to be seriously pressured into it, or be given something in return from the other side. No, not the rebels, or even their regional supporters, such as Turkey, Qatar and Saudi Arabia, but from the Unite States and her Western allies, that is, the countries that have long called on Assad to step down, and which can offer something of consequence: such as certain concessions in eastern Ukraine, or perhaps even Moldova. For now that Iran and Russia are strongly present in Syria, they need no concessions from anyone there. Recent changes in the Obama Administration’s position on Assad and peace talks come as clear acknowledgement of that.
But that acknowledgement is actually a dual edge sword. By giving up Syria, and adopting their own independent strategy vis-à-vis IS in Syria, knowing that Iran has to coordinate with them in regard to the situation in Iraq for its own interests, the administration can longer be pressured by the Russians and Iranians through Syria.
What all this boils down to, in regard to Assad is this: he is staying, not because he is indispensable, but because there is no really reason to dispense of him at this stage, and because he might still has some uses. This situation will continue until either the U.S. rediscovers a need for demanding his ouster again, and a way to convince the Russians and Iranians to play along, or at least the Russians, or, until Assad, in some fit of foolishness to which he is often prone, makes himself too much of a nuance to his patrons, and their plan to consolidate their hold on the enclave they are creating.
Saudocalypse: Saudi Arabia's mounting security challenges. No. Saudi is not in good shape. Of that much has been written of late, and most of it true. Saudi finds itself where even shortcuts are well-nigh impossible. Can she buy a readymade nuclear program? Will Pakistan agree to sell it? Can she still prevail upon it to do some of its biddings at least and for the usual payoff, or thereabouts? Can she have what it takes to make the transition to a post-oil economy, ow that the world has agreed to do so by 2050? Can she survive until then? Hell, can she even survive next year? Oh, there are so many minds and pockets (and perhaps some dicks even – geopolitical ones of course) that want to know.
In the meantime, and while every bit of reasonable advice being offered to the Saudis demand that they impose certain limits on the activities of the Wahhabi preachers, the problem that is being encountered here is not merely an ideological one, and not merely about the need to obtain much needed legitimate from the Wahhabi establishment. The problem is that the Wahhabis are not merely a religious establishment, it has long grown into a full-fledged clan with its own alliances, tribal, ideological and blood-based (including many marriages to various Saudi princes), and its own finances, based on a large and quite diverse investment portfolios. It’s simply speaking the Other Ruling Family. Saudi Arabia has long become Saudi-Wahhabi Arabia, and any talk of a split between the two is talk of an actual civil war that will doom the country, and the region. And that will empower the Faqihs. But a Shia minority, no matter how organized and well-funded, cannot dominate a heavily Sunni-region, even when torn by all manner of strife without recourse to systematic repression, ethnic cleaning, mass killing, and support to terrorist groups and petty dictators.
Whackamolia: As U.S. Focuses on ISIS and the Taliban, Al Qaeda Re-emerges. “The scope of Al Qaeda’s deadly resilience in Afghanistan appears to have caught American and Afghan officials by surprise. Until this fall, American officials had largely focused on targeting the last remaining senior Qaeda leaders hiding along Afghanistan’s rugged, mountainous border with Pakistan.” And in Syria, it is Al-Nusra Front, Al-Qaeda’s official representative there until recently, and Ahrah Al-Sham, a close affiliate of both, that are benefiting from hits on IS.
Meanwhile, losing leaders, as is the case here: Airstrike kills Islamic State leader in Syria with ties to the Paris attacks, U.S. sayswhile disruptive, may not actually seal the deal, as IS, among other Islamist groups in the country, seems to have developed ways for ensuring rapid and effective succession on all levels of leadership. Let’s not forget here the rapid resurgence of Ahrar al-Sham shortly after the assassination of all its top leaders in one go a year ago.
British air strikes ‘kill ISIS fighters in Syria for the first time’ “Militants believed to be inside checkpoint destroyed by Reaper drone on Christmas Day.” Finally, the Brits have lost there IS-virginity. Now British pilots can hold their heads up hi when they walk alongside their American and French counterparts, or when they chat online with Russian and East European prostitutes.
But a little further to the West, Jihadis are having a ball: Jihadists Deepen Collaboration in North Africa.
Quote of the Day
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has documented death of nearly 55,219 persons since 01/01/2015, until 31/12/2015. The casualties are as follows: Civilians: 20,977 civilians, including 2,574 children, 1,944 female over the age of 18 and 8931 male over the age of 18. Rebel and Islamic fighters: 7,728. Defected soldiers and officers: 70. Regime soldiers and officers: 8,819. Combatants from Popular Defense Committees, al-Ba’eth battalions, National Defense Forces, al Shabiha, pro-regime informers and the “Syrian resistance to liberate the Sanjak of Alexandretta”: 7,275. Militiamen from Hezbollah guerrilla: 378. Pro- regime Shia militiamen from Arab and Asian nationalities, Al Quds Al Felastini Brigade and other pro-regime militiamen from different Arab nationalities: 1,214. Arab, European, Asian, American and Australian fighters from the ISIS, al-Nusra Front, Junoud al-Sham battalion, Jund Al-Aqsa battalion, Jund al-Sham organization and the Islamic Turkestan Party: 16,212. Unidentified dead people (documented by photos and footages): 274.
Tweets of the Day
Unfortunately, for Vladdie Come Lately, Muslims have beat them to it, and established a mosque in the Arctic in Inuvik, Canada, back in 2010.
Video(s) of the Day
This video in Arabic was taken by activists in the town of Hamourieyh, one of the many towns besieged by pro-Assad militias in the region of Eastern Ghoutah, in eastern Damascus. It’s a humorous video meant to mark the New Year’s celebrations. In it, local activists roan through the streets asking the baffled people about where they intend to celebrate the New Year’s Eve. The baffled responses include the expected “at home,” “in bed,” “with family and friends,” “fighting,” “surviving,” but then, there is this one: It depends on the nature of the particular MIG bombing us. If it belongs to the regime, then, I’ll hitch a ride to Qardaha (the Assad’s family hometown) and celebrate there, but if it’s a Russian-owned MIG, then, I’ll hitch a ride to St. Petersburg, I hear they have excellent museum there. And there it is: that famous Syrian gallows humor. It’s been in vogue for a while: