Friday, July 29, 2016

Symphony for the Devil

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The Russian Air Force’s Philharmonic Orchestra: Now playing on the ruins of a hospital near you.

12:35 am

09:16 pm

A source with access to White House officials said the administration acknowledges that partnering with Russia could worsen the dynamics on the ground, but that the president was just trying to cover his bases until he steps down in November. The source said the White House feels it cannot not be seen to be doing nothing against an Al-Qaeda affiliate at a time of heightened national security in America. Were there to be an attack in the United States that was claimed by Al-Qaeda, even if not Jabhat al-Nusra, the president's legacy would be destroyed, they explained. Hillary Clinton will reset Syria policy against 'murderous' Assad regime:

And covering one’s bases at this stage seems to call for covering up Russia’s multiplying war crimes in Syria as well. This is clearly not a strategy meant to help the Syrian people, but one designed to help Obama protects his precious legacy. But no matter hard Obama tries, there’s no escaping the fact and the shame that the Syrian Genocide unfolded on his watch and due, in part, to his inability to empathize with the Syrian people. There were many moments when he could have done thing to prevent or stop this tragedy, and he did nothing. Even now, the only thing he cares about is “covering his bases.”

The only silver lining here is that Hillary seems genuinely interested in revisiting the Syria policy one in office taking note of the “murderous” nature of the Assad regime, that is, if she gets elected. Meanwhile, thousands will die with their bases uncovered.

08:55 pm

Why is China building a New Silk Road? “It is not an economic project, it is a geopolitical project — and it is very strategic,” Nadège Rolland, an analyst at the National Bureau for Asian Research, told He's not alone in suspecting China of a tactical repositioning in the global economy; it's clear that relationships with the ASEAN region, Central Asia and European countries stand to improve significantly if China directs more of its capital into developing infrastructure overseas.

The success of such large-scale geopolitical projects requires much more flexible political systems to manage than the one prevailing in China and many of the countries involved or affected by it. Their eventual failure will usher political turmoil on a similar scale.

07:10 pm

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02:20 pm

Trumpcasm: A foolish comment that often smacks of treason and is made by a public figure, often a politician or someone running for political office. In response to the public uproar it inevitably engenders, the comment is often recanted and dismissed as having been sarcastic in nature by the figures in question or their spokespeople. Not to be confused with Trump Chasm: the wide gulf separating certain public figures from sanity and decency.

12:50 pm

In Syria the challenge facing us is about bringing a terrible conflict to an end and containing the humanitarian disaster that it engendered. It’s not about identifying the moderates, or sifting moderates and extremists. After 5 years of fighting and intervention from a myriad international and regional power, armed with conflicting agendas and no desire to compromise, there are no moderates to be found on the battlefield. There are, however, millions of innocent civilians that need protection, and tens of thousands of prodemocracy activists who cannot lift their heads because, at this stage, they are being targeted by all: IS, Al-Nusra, Islamist rebels, and, most assuredly, the original extremist/terrorist group, and still the biggest of them all: the Assad regime and its loyalist sectarian and mercenary militias funded by Iran and backed by Russia’s airpower.

The idea of focusing on destroying IS rather than ending the conflict is ludicrous magical thinking. As long as the conflict rages on in Syria (and Iraq), and as long as killers like Bashar al-Assad are allowed to act with impunity, the battlefields will continue to attract and produce extremists who will continue to pose a serious security threat to the world.

12:10 pm

The loss of Aleppo will constitute a major blow to rebels in Syria, but it will neither end the rebellion nor the civil war. In fact, feeling betrayed and let down by their allies, many rebels, in Aleppo and elsewhere, will be radicalized, far more than they are today. This means that the ranks of the Islamic State, Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups, even as they face their own existential challenges, will swell, and other fronts will heat up.

Damascus in particular can expect serious escalations, as attacks against the civilian population, and on vital infrastructure, such the all too vulnerable water supply sources and routes, are bound to increase. Aleppo itself will not be completely pacified, and some reversals should be expected. In some instance, the besiegers could find themselves besieged, at least by terror. Few will stay not to mention return. Most of the city will be a deserted wasteland, and its ethnic makeup will be drastically altered.

On the political level, opposition groups will have another thing to cry foul about. But their cries, as usual will continue to fall on deaf ears.

Irrespective of popular impressions and populist agitation, Syrian refugees in neighboring countries as well as Europe have actually been well-behaved, and have so far refrained from taking part in any criminal or terrorist activities. The fall of Aleppo could change that as desperation sets in. And the tragic Syrian saga of letting worst case scenarios become self-fulfilling prophecies will continue, aided by continued reliance on short-sighted policies that fail to even tackle the symptoms not to mention fight the disease.

In short, the loss of Aleppo will constitute a pyrrhic victory than a decisive blow, and could heat things up rather than calm them down. The Syrian conflict will not end in accordance with any existing vision or plan, even one backed by Russia and the United States. After all, regional forces have been the main drivers of the conflict, and they are not ready to end it yet.

01:10 am

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