Monday, August 8, 2016


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The Tremblers Union: A global service designed specifically for autocrats. Our members are already cowed and reigned-in. You supply the fear. We supply the sheep.  Note: we work closely with the administrators of Scaredy-Cat Anonymous – a support group for the perennially insecure.


UNDESIRABLE: Japan wants to expel 24-year-old Kurdish asylum seeker Mazlum Balibay, seen here with his sister Suzan in their apartment in Kawaguchi, north of Tokyo. Balibay has been working on building sites since he came to Japan seeking refuge in his early teens. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Banned from working, asylum seekers are building Japan's roads and sewers. There is always much hypocrisy involved when people choose to turn their backs on refugees. The developed world can benefit a lot from hosting refugees and it has the capacity to host millions of them. But, we cannot ignore the social, cultural and political ramifications. Education is needed.


Michael Morell, former deputy director of the CIA, suggested on Monday that the United States should support more aggressive action by Syrian rebels in the civil war. "When we were in Iraq, the Iranians were giving weapons to the Shi'a militia, who were killing American soldiers," Morell told "CBS This Morning" co-host Charlie Rose. "The Iranians were making us pay a price. We need to make the Iranians pay a price in Syria. We need to make the Russians pay a price." He went on to explain making them "pay the price" would mean killing Russians and Iranians, and said he wants to make Syrian president Bashar al-Assad uncomfortable. "I want to go after those things that Assad sees as his personal power base. I want to scare Assad."

Scaring Bashar Al-Assad was exactly what needed to be done back in 2011, and is still necessary to get beyond the conflict today. The proposal by Michael Morell is exactly what’s needed in Syria even today in order to support a serious political process that could bring the conflict to an end. The problem here is that this position constitutes quite the about-face for Morell who until last year was proposing working with Assad and Russia in order to combat IS. Why the change?


This filtered image of more than a million people captures the mood in Turkey. Filtered images of filtered realities. Filter is all.


BBC News has obtained exclusive photographic evidence, showing for the first time British special forces operating inside Syria. They have been working alongside moderate rebel fighters of the New Syrian Army in the battle against so-called Islamic State. The BBC has obscured the faces of the special forces to protect their identities.


A screengrab of a video showing RBK-500 ZAB-2.5SM incendiary munitions, believed to contain thermite, on a Russian jet in Syria. CREDIT: RT

“At the [Turkish] border yesterday we counted tens of trucks bringing in weapons,” said one Syrian activist, who crosses between Syria and neighbouring Turkey. “It’s been happening daily, for weeks... weapons, artillery were not just talking about some bullets or guns.

Of course outside forces helped rebels break the siege of Aleppo. This is a proxy war after all, isn’t it? Russia and Iran have their clients and mercenaries; Saudi and Turkey have theirs. And the Obama administration is more than happy to just watch on, even as Obama gets more and more grey hairs. Erdogan might want to “reset Russia ties from clean slate,” but that’s no reason not strengthen his hand in any talks about the future of Aleppo and Turkish influence in northern Syria.  

As for those who object to Turkey’s and Saudi’s willingness to support Jihadis, even those with Al-Qaeda connections, it’s not really clear why should this be more appalling than Iran’s and Russia’s support for the Assad regime whose war crimes dwarf anything that Al-Qaeda and its affiliates have done so far in Syria and Iraq. True, Al-Qaeda might pose more direct threat to the outside world than the Assad regime, but I doubt if that makes any difference to Assad’s Syrian victims, or their families. Those appalled by Saudi’s and Turkey’s actions but not Iran’s and Russia’s seem to think that their lives and interests matter more than Syrian lives and interests, or, to be more blunt and in tandem with the spirit of the times, Syrian Arab Sunni lives and interests.  

Be that as it may, and depending on how talks between Erdogan and Putin will proceed, among other ongoing talks, this might be the right time for another round of official talks in Geneva. For breaking the Aleppo siege comes as a tactical recalibration and does not constitute a turning point in the conflict, as some might think. For just as regime gains in Aleppo were reversed, rebel gains can also be reversed, especially should the political opposition fail to see them in their proper context.

Meanwhile, and just to drive the latter point home, expect Russia and Iran to react to their recent reversals through increased escalation, with the former intensifying its airstrikes using more horrible and banned munitions, and the latter sending more Shia militias, including Hezbollah elite units, to support the embattled regime death squads.


From the Holy Deliricon: Czarsultanism is back in vogue, Purdogan is a thing again and other old terms.

Czarsultanism: An acute case of megalomania often observed among certain members of Zoa Autocrata, a subspecies of the human genus known for its inherent, nihilistic and perennial need for control and notice at any cost, especially when said cost can be passed to other members of the said subspecies or members of other subspecies of the said genus.

Feardogan: According to Turkish mythology, the Feardogan is a ghoul who seeks to inspire fear in the people around him but ends up inspiring ridicule instead. His looks, his attitude and the way he takes himself seriously all combine to make him look ridiculous. And though a creature like him may not afford to look ridiculous, considering that lives in that infamously dangerous part of the jungle, Holybush, there is little that he can do about that. He keeps on trying, he keeps on failing. He keeps on flailing in anger and disappointment, and the world keeps on laughing.

Purdogan: The political equivalent of Bennifer or Brangelina, minus the sex appeal. That is, unless one has a fetish for fiends or ghouls. Purdogans are known for their continuous struggle with self-loathing which often compels them to lash out against all those standing around them within a circle a million mile in radius, before taking their own lives, often by proxy.

Purdogatory: An extreme reaction to irony characterized by repeated and vicious recourse to self-flagellation by proxy.

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