Sunday, August 7, 2016

Wrath Putin

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Wrathmania: An annual competition that pits irrelevant and deranged autocrats against their favorite windmills.


Another Syrian making headlines in #Rio2016: The Torchbearer


A recent run in with a Trump supporter on Twitter: The following conversation unfolded after I compared Trump's followers to Assad's, saying both types are misinformed and unaware of it - which was the point of an article I read about Trump's supporters. And as the article argues as well, both types seem equally unreachable at this stage.


The Holy Deliricon:

WrathPutin: A forever wannabe Czar that will never be Czar as he keeps mistaking thuggery for power, guile for wisdom and popular adulation for meaningful achievement.  


Putin’s Blind Spot

Freezing the conflict in Aleppo in its current form is a tactic out of Russia’s traditional operational playbook. Frozen conflicts have been successfully instrumentalized by Moscow in the post-Soviet Union space and have proved their effectiveness when it comes to manipulating the political process. Long-term examples of this can be found in Moldova and the South Caucasus, and more recently in Ukraine.

The trick is to freeze the conflict in manner that helps you advance your agenda. The reversal suffered by the Assad regime in Aleppo undermines Putin’s plans, but improves America’s hand. As Putin seems intent on seeking revenge rather than learning the lesson, escalation will lead to escalation as today’s gains become tomorrow’s reversals. Putin will not have his way, but Aleppo might have to turn to rubble before he accepts that.  Why should he care, it’s not Moscow, and he may not give a damn even if it were.


Putin’s Revenge


Unless these mercenaries are transported by Iranian cargo planes, there is no way for them to reach Aleppo in time. What’s clear is that the Assad regime is teetering on the verge again, despite continuing Iranian and Russian logistical, financial and military support, and despite all the thousands upon thousands of sectarian Shia militias now fighting on its side. Good time for serious talks in Geneva, provided they are not used to buy time for Russians and Iranians to once again bolster the regime’s sagging position. All this tragedy of escalation and counter-escalation cold have bene avoided had Russia and Iran’s leaders held talks with opposition groups early on, rather than bet on Assad. They would have found much more understanding of their concerns then they could ever find now.


Hundreds of Thousands Rally in Turkey in Support of President Erdogan. Anti-coup but not necessarily prodemocracy, and that’s the nature of the current conundrum.


While [Obama] is correct that the sanctions barred him from sending Iran a check or wire transfer, that is not all they forbid — not by a long shot. They also make it illegal to do what he did… the sanctions prohibit transactions with Iran that touch the U.S. financial system, whether they are carried out in dollars or foreign currencies. The claim by administration officials, widely repeated in the press, that Iran had to be paid in euros and francs because dollar-transactions are forbidden is nonsense; Americans are also forbidden to engage in foreign currency transactions with Iran.

Obama had our financial system issue U.S. assets that were then converted to foreign currencies for delivery to Iran. Both steps flouted the regulations, which prohibit the clearing of currency of any kind if Iran is even minimally involved in the deal; here, Iran is the beneficiary of the deal.

The regs further prohibit supplying things of value to Iran, regardless of whether it is done “directly or indirectly.” Expressly included in the “indirect” category are transfers of assets to another country with knowledge that the other country will then forward the assets, in some form, to Iran. That’s exactly what happened here, with Obama pressing the Swiss and Dutch into service as intermediaries.

… By his own account, President Obama engaged in the complex cash transfer in order to end-run sanctions that prohibit the U.S. from having “a banking relationship with Iran.” The point of the sanctions is not to prevent banking with Iran; it is to prevent Iran from getting value from or through our financial system — the banking prohibition is a corollary. And the point of sanctions, if you happen to be the president of the United States sworn to execute the laws faithfully, is to follow them — not pat yourself on the back for keeping them in place while you willfully evade them. The president’s press conference is better understood as a confession than an explanation.

12:33 pm

This is what breaking the siege means to the 300,000 civilians still trapped in Aleppo, Syria: food, life.  Naturally, Russian airstrikes are now targeting this true humanitarian corridor.

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