Saturday, August 27, 2016

With a song in their hearts


Brought to you by…

The Brotherhood of Smug Mess-Makers: We kick the can down the road and up your ass, while smiling.

22:25

Now This: Iran’s Parliament Speaker Says Russia Continues To Use Iranian Base. Speaking at a session of the parliament on August 23, Larijani suggested Russian bombers were still using the military base in Hamadan. “It hasn’t stopped,” he said, adding that Tehran and Moscow were united in their “fight against terrorism.”

22:17


The world of Islam is being shaped in part by the competition between various extremist interpretations, some supported by Saudi Arabia’s Wahhabi Establishment, others by Iran’s Mullah Establishment. We should never lose sight of either side’s contributions to radicalism.

21:55





And this diagram doesn't even show the hidden network of support that IS/Daesh and some Jihadi groups have.

21:53

This democracy’s for sale!


21:23

Staying Positive



16:47

Obama’s New Mess in Syria

Washington who had objected last year to Turkey plan for intervention in Syria, had to approve of them this time around, even though the move is basically targeting Washington’s Kurdish allies, the YPGs, more than IS/Daesh, and even though the move is bound to undermine the fight against IS/Daesh, considering that YPGs form the backbone of the SDF, the on-the-ground rebel coalition conducting that fight. Why? Hassan Hassan explains:

In addition to the tension between the United States and Turkey over Fethullah Gulen, the cleric accused by Erdogan of staging the coup last month, Ankara’s talks with Moscow and Tehran strengthened Turkey’s standing.

As a result,

[d]uring Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to Ankara on the day of Turkey’s intervention, the U.S. not only approved of the military campaign inside Syria, but it also finally acted on its promise to ask the YPG to leave the areas west of the Euphrates River, a move that would have prevented much tension between the two countries and possibly even the need to intervene militarily.
  
Still, the current Turkish operations, which include use of Turkish air force, have primarily been targeting YPGs’ positions around Jarablus and Manbij, than IS/Daesh units located further south and east.

16:27






16:08

No Complicated Challenges, Please!

Turkish soldiers drive a tank towards the Syrian border from the Turkish city of Karkamis in the southern region of Gaziantep, on August 27, 2016 (AFP Photo/Bulent Kilic)


"That is still off the table because of the implied military commitment that it would require in order to effectively enforce it," White House spokesman Josh Earnest replied when asked if President Obama has reconsidered his opposition in light of Syrian fighter jet aggression against U.S. troops.

"The concern is that while it sounds simple to maintain that kind of area, ultimately you're responsible for protecting the borders of that safe zone and then policing that safe zone once it's been created," he explained. "That would be work-intensive to say the least. It would be dangerous."

Doing so also "would likely require a greater U.S. military commitment. And all of that would come at the expense of our ongoing efforts to focus on degrading, ultimately destroying, ISIL," Earnest said.

The level of stupidity, arrogance, willful blindness and irresponsibility involved in maintaining this position is staggering. By refusing to tackle certain challenges due to their complex nature, and because they’d require continuous commitment over the long haul, the Obama Administration has made all but certain that the Syrian conflict will become more bloody and complicated than it would have been, and that its resolution would ultimately require much more commitment on part of the United States and its NATO and regional allies. But so long as such commitment did not happen on the Administration’s watch, Mr. Obama and his top advisers can claim success.

In the real world though, the one abandoned by the administration, this act of wantonness has created a major humanitarian disaster and a multifaceted security challenge that need to be handled by future administrations – a task that will require embarking on exactly the kind of commitment that the Obama administration chose to avoid. Through the surge, George W. Bush has tried to own his debacle in Iraq and take responsibility for it in order to avoid passing it to the future president of the United States. President Obama, on the other hand, refuses even to acknowledge that a mistake was made. By pointing to the increased amount of white hairs in his head and tying it to the Syrian conflict, it seems as though he seems himself as the ultimate victim. Perhaps he even expects an apology from the Syrian people for mistiming their revolution.  

15:47

In Brief




14:28

Turkish army tanks make their way towards the Syrian border town of Jarablus, Syria August 24, 2016. © Revolutionary Forces of Syria Media Office / Reuters

Why Turkey Went to War in Syria. “It’s fear of a Kurdish state — even more than the Islamic State. But things could get complicated with Washington supporting Kurdish rebels.

The quick pullout by IS from Jarablus indicates that its particular units there were only meant as place-holders for the Turks for when the time came for their direct entry into the Syrian theater. Now these units can go elsewhere to carry on their primary fight against YPGs. Indeed, it seems that Turkish army units that have already entered Jarablus are now engaged in shelling Kurdish units that are still gathered in the vicinity of the town. YPGs units also withdrew from Manbij, following Biden’s warnings to them during his recent visit to Turkey. Would Turkish units now move in to secure this won as well? Perhaps. But since the tow is no now under the control of local councils and FSA units close to Turkey this may not be necessary at this stage. Still, by entering into Jarablus Turkey seems bent on establishing its now zone of influence in northern Syria, one that splits Kurdish enclaves in the northwestern and northeastern parts of the country undermining the Kurdish Party’s PYD’s attempt at establishing a Kurdish-controlled federal entity in the northern parts of Syria, which seems to be the goal. 

14:21

Note 3: Obama’s behavior in Syria is reminiscent of Hafiz Al-Assad’s behavior in Lebanon: at one point or another in the conflict every combatant side was an enemy or an ally, depending on a variety of conditions. But here is where the similarities end. In Lebanon, Assad’s tactics made him loathed but feared and in some quarters even respected. Obama’s tactics, on the other hand, earned him neither fear nor respect, be it in Syria, Lebanon, or the entire region. Moreover, Assad’s tactics helped him emerge as the primary power in charge in Lebanon. The same cannot be said of Obama’s tactics, as the U.S. is hardly in control of anything taking place in Syria. In fact, it seems clear to most that Iran and Russia have more leverage there than the United States.

14:13

Note 2: Within the context of the Syrian civil war, the preponderance of war crimes, including summary mass executions and even head chopping are perpetrated by the Assad regime and its death squads, not ISIS, Al-Nusra, or any rebel group. The fact that all sides are committing crimes at this stage should not distract from this fact and from the issue of proportionality in general, lest we end up confusing cause for effect.  Without a major shakeup within the Assad regime, one that includes a change on the very top, there could be no resolution to this conflict, and no end to the war crimes. No amount of lipstick can ever make the pig that is Syria’s genocidaire become acceptable. Although some scenarios for ending the conflict might require us to forgo the issue of holding him accountable for his heinous crimes in exchange for his relinquish of power, this should be the only concession that could ever be provided to him. The Obama administration might have chosen to pivot away from this proposition as well as from the conflict in Syria as a whole at this stage, but the next president of the United States should not.

Note 1: When examining the growing list of war crimes in Syria, we should bear in mind that the same human rights activists and organizations are responsible for documenting all abuses irrespective of the party committing them, be it the Assad regime, the Russians, Hezbollah and other Iran-funded Shia militias, the Islamic State (Daesh), Al-Nusra and other extremist organizations, Islamist groups, rebels units (FSA), Kurdish militias (YPGs) or the NATO members taking part in the anti-ISIS Western alliance. Despite their pro-revolution sympathies, these groups and individuals have been doing a stellar and professional job at tremendous risk to their lives, as they have often been targeted by all and sundry, but especially the Assad regime, IS/Daesh and Al-Nusra.

13:24

For those enthralled by “iconic moments,” few more from… where else? Syria.


This step is bound to strengthen the Assad regime’s resolve, supported by Iran, to keep fighting for control of Damascus, and would make any negotiations over transition an exercise in futility, unless, as Fabrice Balanche argues, Assad’s control, of Damascus is threatened. But threatening Damascus risks transforming it into another Aleppo. A forced removal of Assad from the scene through an internal coup or assassination might be the only alternative left to save Damascus and the rest of Syria, and end the conflict. 

Boys mourning their brother who died in a barrel bomb attack


Another Traumatized Child


12:54 pm

She wears a not so itsy tiny weeny yellow polka dot burqini… and why the hell not?

The personal politics of wearing a burkini. “The burkini is not a political project, but will become one if it is banned. As for enslavement, the last time I checked, feminism was about empowering women to make choices for themselves – free of coercion from the state. Burkini-clad women aren’t enslaved or political projects – they’re just women who are retaining their modesty while having fun by the pool or at the beach.

Burkini ban comes as part of an anti-radicalization move in France. But the Burkini is actually rejected by radical Islamists who think it’s un-Islamic, since it is meant to allow for Muslim women to go to public beaches where they can intermingle with non-Muslims men and women. The ban, therefore, in effect, discriminates against practicing conservative Muslims, that is, the very segment of the Muslim population that is actively being courted by radicals and that is trying to resist by finding ways to integrate into the larger society without comprising its values. The decision by the French highest administrative court to suspend the ban is a welcome measure, but does not mark the end of the phenomenon as other town council might end up adopting bans even at the risk of seeing them suspended by the courts. The battle continues.

12:33 pm

In Brief

Remembering Mika and Syria's tragedy. “Japanese journalist Mika Yamamoto one of more than 100 journalists killed while trying to report on Syria's civil war.Almost all foreign journalists killed covering Syria were killed by Assad regime, by being targeted or caught under bombardment from its planes and cannons.

Iran Vessels Harassed U.S. Destroyer Near Persian Gulf, Navy Says. Fifth Fleet spokesman calls interaction ‘unsafe and unprofessional.’ Considering the price that the Obama Administration was willing to pay for it, namely allowing for the genocide in Syria to proceed, the increased belligerency shown by Iran’s leaders should come as no surprise.

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