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Wednesday, October 26

"The (UK) Guardian cites terrorist leader to prove there are no terrorists in Aleppo"

Ah! I see from the above that SouthFront is finally developing a sense of humor. This gives me hope the nice young people (I'd guess they're mostly 20-30ish Somethings) who run the site have a chance to remain sane for the duration of the Syrian War. 

Here, SF describes the Guardian in one of its Full Monte reports.


Tuesday, October 25

Jerry Lee Lewis worried that his music would lead people to Hell

Oddly for an album featuring an American musician that rock music journalists have dubbed one of the greatest rock 'n' roll albums (some went even further in their praise), Jerry Lee Lewis Live at the Star, Hamburg (Germany) didn't become available in the USA until 2014. It was because of a legal issue. And unfortunately the performance wasn't filmed -- or if it was, the film hasn't been released in this country. 

There are technical criticisms of the album, which was recorded at a club in 1964 under primitive conditions. But Lewis' piano playing is so incredible I think it takes the ear of a professional music critic or sound engineer to notice the record's flaws, at least on the first listen. See Wikipedia's article about the album for details, but one complaint was that the band that accompanied him, the Nashville Teens (actually a British group), was hard to hear. 

After I listened to the recording it struck me Lewis is a great musician; a visit to Wikipedia indicated that my opinion is in large company. Indeed, Lewis (age 81), the ultimate outsider, might live to hear himself hailed as one of America's greatest pianists. 

It turns out that Lee was a child musical prodigy. He was mostly self-taught. His parents recognized his talent and mortgaged their farm in Louisiana to buy a piano for him. But his wild-man antics at the piano, coupled with his rowdy lifestyle, tended to distract from the fact that he's a serious pianist and a music pioneer. 

He created a sound that is to American music what bouillabaisse is to Louisiana. One part rock 'n roll, one part boogie-woogie, one part gospel, one part country, one part jazz, one part blues, and one part indefinable but very distinct. As a musician once observed, every type of music that Lee touches on the keyboard becomes unmistakably his. 

But for a long time it was the gospel music part that gave him trouble. As Wikipedia recounts:
His mother enrolled him in Southwest Bible Institute, in Waxahachie, Texas, so that he would be exclusively singing evangelical songs. But Lewis daringly played a boogie-woogie rendition of "My God Is Real" at a church assembly.
For that, he was expelled the next day.

From other remarks in the Wikipedia bio I wonder if he believed the Devil made him do it. At any rate, after he shot to stardom he did agonize over whether his music was leading his youthful audiences to Hell.     

Later in his career he found himself able to play pure gospel music. But now let's turn the clock back to 1964, to a club in Hamburg that was about to make rock 'n roll history.  

Monday, October 24

"King Bhumibol built a powerful role by force of example rather than by force itself"

The king and queen of Thailand, circa 1970s. They spent eight months out of every year visiting the country's villages, no matter how many miles they had to walk to reach the remote ones  

Not a word did the writer of the following article say about the Communist insurgency in Thailand. It's as if it never happened! To learn about the king's amazing answer to the Communists' attempt to take over Thailand, see this October 19 Pundita essay 1979 BBC documentary on the work of Thailand's king and queen to save a nation. 

King Bhumibol of Thailand’s real legacy: remarkable political legitimacy
By Nigel Gould-Davies
October 22 at 5:00 AM
The Washington Post

Thailand is mourning its beloved King Bhumibol Adulyadej, who died last week after 70 years on the throne. During his long reign, Thailand shifted from a poor agricultural economy to a prosperous upper-middle-income country. The king’s greatest achievement, though, was to create a unique form of political legitimacy that helped Thailand weather rapid changes in a turbulent region.
Here’s why legitimacy is the most important foundation for any political system. It gives an answer to the question: “What right does the state have to rule, and why are citizens obliged to obey it?”
If the people consider a system legitimate, the country is more likely to remain stable even if the government is ineffective or unpopular. But if large numbers reject the government’s right to rule in principle, disorder or civil war may follow.
Alternatives to “rule by the people”
Modernization creates educated and questioning publics that are able to organize themselves and assert their interests. They ask more insistently why those who govern them are in power. One answer — the modern democratic one — is that legitimate rule is “rule by the people.” We are obliged to obey the government because we ourselves chose it in free and fair elections.
Authoritarian governments around the globe have had to respond to this challenge. Many have pretended to be democratic, going through the motions of electionsmanipulated to ensure they remain in power. Others have appealed to the past (by ruling in the name of tradition), to the future (by building an ideal, usually communist, society), or to eternity (by ruling in the name of God). A few charismatic leaders have been able to inspire by virtue of their personal qualities.
But all these solutions have limitations. Appeals to the past become less compelling as societies modernize; communism has proved to be a god that failed; God himself is now invoked to justify rule only in parts of the Islamic world; and charisma is a rare commodity that attaches to individuals, not entire systems.
Thailand’s unique solution
Thailand found a unique solution: a revered monarchy that combines several sources of legitimacy — tradition, divinity and charisma — while accommodating rapid economic growth and fitful democratization. These different sources of legitimacy together created a role with enormous moral authority far beyond its formal constitutional powers.
But by working tirelessly for the most deprived regions, and by leading a modest and exemplary personal life, the young king gradually built up a deep popular respect and broadly based loyalty that grew into a source of power in its own right.
This was much more than usable legitimacy. The king’s words and actions — critical of corruption, committed to the poor — were an implicit rebuke to the greed of military and business elites. The king’s call for a “sufficiency economy” after the 1997 financial crisis, for example, set out a middle way for meeting basic needs through balanced development in response to the manias of hyper-globalization.
The power to rule quietly
Most remarkable of all, at crucial moments, this moral force could prevail over the men with guns. The most dramatic example was the king’s intervention in the Black May crisis of 1992. In the midst of violent street confrontations in Bangkok, the king summoned Prime Minister Suchinda Kraprayoon and opposition leader Chamlong Srimuang to admonish them, defusing the crisis and prompting Suchinda’s resignation.
No other country has seen such a mixing of the “dignified” and “efficient” parts of its constitution. The “bicycle monarchs” of Western Europe, in contrast, are figureheads who may be admired but wield no power. Where powerful figures do exert informal influence, they are ex-leaders enjoying a political afterlife, as in Singapore. King Bhumibol managed to build a powerful role by force of example rather than by force itself.
For political scientists, classifying the Thai political order has long proved difficult — above all because the king’s unique role defies orthodox interpretation. The deeply personal, even enchanted, reverence for the Thai king and his role in the country are alien to Western ways of understanding politics. The ordinary focus on interests and institutions has little place for a charisma of goodness, tradition and semi-divinity that can wield real political power.
Paradoxically, King Bhumibol during his long reign presided over the highest rate of constitutional turnover in the world, but in a deeper sense it helped preserve stability. In a region beset by turmoil, Thailand avoided the grim military rule of Burma, the conflict and genocide ofIndochina, and the episodes of extreme bloodshed ofIndonesia. Thailand’s unique form of monarchical legitimacy helped it navigate the dangers of the Cold War and the road to modernity with less upheaval than most of its neighbors.
The key question now is how Thailand will sustain and adapt this system of government after the passing of the revered king who built it.
Nigel Gould-Davies teaches at Mahidol University International College in Thailand and is an associate fellow of Chatham House.

Sunday, October 23

Soul Has No Color, Jazz Has No Gender

"OK so what are the odds that one of the top five most beautiful women on the planet would also be one of the top five best sax players....boy you really get you some value for money when you go to a Candy Dulfer concert !!!"

That's a comment by one Kevin Fisher, posted 9 months ago at a YouTube recording of a live concert version of the Isley Brothers' For the Love of You done by Candy Dulfer and Angie Stone. 

I'd heard of R&B singer Angie Stone, who was probably singing gospel music before she could walk.

But Dulfer's name was new to me. From her introduction to the set Dulfer's accent sounded from a part of the Bronx I wasn't familiar with. Wikipedia informed me that she isn't from the Bronx. She's Dutch, born in Amsterdam in 1969; her father is Hans Dulfer, a jazz tenor saxophonist:
She began playing the drums at the age of five. As a six-year-old she started to play the soprano saxophone. At the age of seven she switched to alto saxophone. ...  Dulfer played her first solo on stage with her father's band De Perikels ("The Perils"). At the age of eleven, she made her first recordings for the album I Didn't Ask (1981) by De Perikels. 
In 1982, when she was twelve years old, she played as a member of Rosa King's Ladies Horn section at the North Sea Jazz Festival. According to Dulfer, King encouraged her to become a band leader herself. In 1984, at the age of fourteen, Dulfer started her own band, Funky Stuff.  ... Dulfer is mostly a self-taught musician except for some training in a concert band and a few months of music lessons.
However, it's one thing to have been a child prodigy. It's another to take on For the Love of You. No one I'd heard who's tried over the decades has been able to do justice to the original version by the Isleys.

Well. Life is full of surprises.


Friday, October 21

"Chaos ensues in Kirkuk as ISIS claims to have captured half the city"

By Paul Antonopoulos
October 21, 2016

ISIS have claimed to have captured half the city of Kirkuk after entering 5 new neighbourhoods, known as the unofficial capital for Kurds in Iraq.

Kurdish police have claimed to have so far killed 6 ISIS militants, who were sleeper cells.

ISIS terrorists have also claimed to have stormed an electricity company in the Dibs district in northern Kirkuk, killing all people. Reports have said power is out in Kirkuk.

Alalam have reported that of the 16 people killed, 4 were Iranian technicians.

ISIS terrorists seized Dar al-Salam hotel in the center of Kirkuk city.

ISIS have also claimed to have a hit a convoy of Peshmerga forces in the Dibs District of northern Kirkuk, 25km north of the oil-rich city.

Meanwhile in footage captured, the sounds of gunfire and explosions can be heard.

[AP footage; video posted at YouTube; 1:13 long]

Local ground sources have claimed they have seen the Iraqi air force in action, however this could not be verified by Al-Masdar News.

Anti-terrorist units have begun operations to normalize the situation in the southern sector of the city, despite images of ISIS terrorists roaming freely.

Kirkuk authories have announced a curfew and for all people to remain home whilst anti-terrorist operations are underway.


RT report:

ISIS fighters enter Kirkuk mosques, kindergarten, take civilians hostage – report
Published time: 21 Oct, 2016 08:17
Edited time: 21 Oct, 2016 13:38


“It was expected that ISIS sleeper cells would make a move one day in Kirkuk now that the Mosul offensive has started and they want to boost their own morale this way,” Kirkuk Governor Najmaldin Karim told Rudaw earlier on Friday.

“Some of [the militants] have hidden themselves inside mosques and tall buildings and try to shoot as snipers, but our forces are in control and in places where escalations were feared it was all controlled. Strong forces combined of security, police, and anti-terrorism are all inside Kirkuk today,” he said.

“They were sleeper cells...many women and children fled to Kirkuk as refugees and it is possible that some militants had come with them,” Kiruk added, referring to the attackers.

The city’s police chief and governor have called on residents to stay in their homes until the situation is under control.

The unrest has so far led to the deaths of at least 28 people – six policemen, 12 militants, and 16 power station workers, according to reports from Rudaw and AFP. The workers were killed in the nearby town of Dibis, located 55 kilometers (34 miles) from Kirkuk.


However, Kirkuk’s governor reported the station had been attacked by four militants, of whom one blew himself up and three were killed. The station is now under the control of Peshmerga Kurds.

Kirkuk is located 174 kilometers (108 miles) from Mosul.

The city has accepted some 700,000 displaced people from the country’s central and southern provinces since Islamic State took control of one-third of Iraq in mid-2014, according to Rudaw. It had been home to about half a million people before the outbreak of hostilities.

The oil-rich city is claimed by both the Iraqi government and Kurds in the region. Kurdish forces assumed full control of the city in the summer of 2014, as the Iraqi army crumbled before an IS advance.


Syria warns it will "down Turkish planes next time"

The US, Turkey’s NATO ally, has meanwhile distanced itself from the airstrikes, with State Department spokesperson John Kirby tweeting on Thursday that “contrary to some reports, US was not involved in Turkey airstrikes last night.”

Syria warns it will ‘down Turkish planes next time,’ calls bombing of Kurds ‘flagrant aggression’
Published time: 20 Oct, 2016 23:57 Edited time: 21 Oct, 2016 00:04

Damascus has reacted harshly to the bombing of Kurdish militias in northern Syria on Thursday morning by Turkey’s air force, vowing to intervene next time Ankara sends its planes over its border.

In a statement, the Syrian Defense Ministry accused Turkey of “flagrant aggression, which targeted innocent citizens,” saying that it considers it “a dangerous development that could escalate the situation.”

“Any attempt to once again breach Syrian airspace by Turkish war planes will be dealt with and they will be brought down by all means available,” warned Damascus, whose planes, which have flown in concert with a Russian expeditionary force, have been avoiding direct confrontation with unauthorized NATO jets.

Turkish artillery guns have been firing at Kurdish militias, who are now fighting against Ankara-backed rebels over territory won back from Islamic State in northern Turkey on Wednesday. Turkey said that the airstrikes took out up to 200 Kurds, though the YPG, the Kurdish militia, initially put its losses at 15. 

[Pundita Note: the senior Kurdish commander interviewed by Associated Press for what seems to have been the first Western report on the bombings, published around 5 AM EDT yesterday, with 8 AM update, put the number of Kurdish militia KIA at 10. I didn't keep up with later reports yesterday.]

Syria called the victims “150 innocent civilians” and said that “these irresponsible acts will have dire consequences that will threaten the region's stability and security.”

The US, Turkey’s NATO ally, has meanwhile distanced itself from the airstrikes, with State Department spokesperson John Kirby tweeting on Thursday that “contrary to some reports, US was not involved in Turkey airstrikes last night.”

Kirby added that US “called on all parties on the ground to avoid uncoordinated movements,”adding that they “only benefit” Islamic State terrorists.

Turkish aerial incursions into Syria have grown more frequent, as fighting has intensified around Aleppo, with at least four factions vying to take control of northern Syria, all with their own agendas.

Since the beginning of the Syrian conflict in 2011, tensions have been on the rise between the two neighboring countries, with Ankara backing armed rebels opposing the legitimate Syrian government. 

[Pundita Note: Tensions were high long before 2011, even before Bashar al-Assad was put in power by his father -- which was in 2000 if I recall without checking at Wikipedia. But yes the tensions did escalate around 2011 when Erdogan took advantage of the chaos created by the French-engineered uprising in Syria. He sent goon squads into Aleppo to wreck the city's industrial base and steal all equipment they could get their hands on from the factories there, and ship the plunder to Turkey. 

When called out on such behavior he maintains that Aleppo actually belongs to Turkey. Not a Westphalian State kind of person. In fact he's very like the Chinese in his outlook. Everywhere he looks he sees Turks.

Now as to whether Beijing sees Turks as a long-lost tribe of Chinese -- see, I keep warning Tehran about the Chinese but do they listen to Pundita. Mark my words but never mind; the Persians will have to find out the same way the Tibetans did that they are actually Chinese.

Where were we? Early '21st' Century. All right, to continue with RT's report:]

On several occasions, shelling from heavy fighting spilled over the border and into Turkey, further inflaming the situation.

In June 2012, Syria downed a Turkish military jet on reconnaissance mission over Syrian territorial waters 1 kilometer from its coast. While Syria insisted that it was acting in defense of its borders, Ankara accused it of breaching international law. 

Turkey later confirmed that the jet did enter into Syrian airspace by mistake but claimed that it was shot down in international airspace after it had left Syrian territory.

READ MORE: ‘S-300, S-400 air defenses in place’: Russian MoD warns US-led coalition not to strike Syrian army

READ MORE: Downing of Russian Su-24 bomber contributed to delay of Ankara’s Syria op – report


Thursday, October 20

Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ustad Tari Khan on the same stage. Wow.

Now this is how to play the tabla. It's less than 8 minutes but so fortunate it was videotaped -- and posted to YouTube. Ustad Nusrat's younger brother, Farrukh Fateh Ali Khan, accompanying on the harmonium.

Note how the Syrian government does things

And this is how the Syrian government has always done it, as long as I've been following the nightmare called the Syrian War. Yes, Mr and Ms America and Europe, your governments have lied to you. They have lied and lied and lied and lied and when they couldn't lie any more, they lied some more about Assad and Syria.  

Several rebels receive amnesty in key Damascus suburb
By Leith Fadel
October 20, 2016 - 1:00 AM local time

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (1:00 A.M.) - Several rebels had their criminal cases settled by the Syrian government in the Mo'adhimiyah Al-Sham suburb of Damascus on Thursday.

According to an Al-Masdar correspondent, the rebels that chose surrender to the Syrian Arab Army were granted amnesty by the government on Thursday, thus allowing them to remain in the Mo'adhimiyah Al-Sham suburb.

Based on the terms of their amnesty, the former rebel fighters will have to refrain from obtaining weapons again and they must disassociate themselves from their former factions.

As a result of this amnesty offer, several rebels and their families will be allowed to stay in Mo'adhimiyah Al-Sham as the government rebuilds this suburb.


"Heavy Clashes Reported Among Terrorists Over Relocation from E. Aleppo City"

(Note: The 'humanitarian pause' has now been extended to 24 hours, and several more militants have evacuated E. Aleppo through the safe corridors. See this Pundita post for both reports. )

October 20, 2016 - 4:27
Tehran - FNA


A military source confirmed reports on Thursday that the terrorists stationed in the Eastern parts of Aleppo city are blocking the path of the people and other militants who want to leave the region.

"The terrorists have launched 20 mortar attacks on Bostan al-Qasr corridor while the ceasefire has not been violated in the Castello road and the government buses and ambulances are transferring people to the safer areas," the source said on Thursday.

"The terrorists also targeted al-Jandoul square which has been one of the safe corridors opened by the Syrian army for the militants to leave the region," the source said, adding that the terrorists have also attacked a Syrian army position in Eastern Aleppo.

Some reports also said that the militants have deployed snipers in certain areas to prevent the evacuation of their comrades and civilians and have announced that they would set fire on houses of those people who want to leave Aleppo.

This is while the Syrian army is inviting the terrorists to lay down their arms and leave Aleppo's Eastern regions.

The Syrian State news agency also reported that several militants (who had laid down their arms) and a number of wounded people and patients were transferred from Eastern Aleppo through the declared corridors.

The Syrian Army General Command announced on Thursday that the suspension of the air strikes on militants in the Eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo.

The Command said in a statement that the humanitarian pause in the Eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo started on October 20, at 08:00 AM.

It called on all gunmen in the Eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo to throw their weapons and benefit from the amnesty decree.

The statement pointed out that the General Command has accurate information on the gunmen’s places, gatherings and their weapon caches in the Eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo city, stressing that each gunman who does not seize the opportunity of the pause will face his fatal destiny.

Earlier, Head of the Russian General Staff Main Operations Department Sergey Rudskoy said that the Syrian and Russian military men have decided to expand the humanitarian pause for three hours to evacuate civilians from the Eastern neighborhoods after receiving many requests from the international organizations.


Several militant groups leave E. Aleppo. Safe corridors extended 24 hours

Law enforcement officers near cars and ambulances in a humanitarian corridor for civilians and militants along the Castello Road in northern Aleppo, Syria, October 20, 2016.
Photo: Michael Alaeddin / Sputnik

Several Groups of Militants Leave Eastern Aleppo through Safe Corridors
October 20, 2016 - 7:50
TEHRAN (FNA)- Tens of militants and their families started leaving Eastern Aleppo through the specified safe corridors established by the Syrian Army in the Eastern part of the flashpoint city.

The Syrian television said on Thursday that several groups of militants have started to leave Aleppo with their families through the Bostan al-Qasr checkpoint near the Castillo Road.

The militants' withdrawal from Eastern Aleppo came after Syrian President Bashar Assad issued an order of impunity for the militants that leave the Eastern Aleppo before the ongoing ceasefire expires.

Meanwhile, sources in Aleppo reported that heavy clashes have erupted among the terrorist groups after tensions rose over leaving or remaining in the city.

Sources in the city said the terrorists in certain areas engaged in armed clashes and opened fire at the people and other militants who intended to leave Aleppo.

According to the sources, the terrorists also launched mortar attacks on the safe corridors opened by the army for the passage of the people and militants.

"Bostan al-Qasr passage has been declared by terrorists as a war zone, and this has caused panic and horror among the people who have evacuated the streets and went to their houses now," a source in the region said.

Meantime, a source said that "2,000 to 2,500 people who sought to leave Aleppo had gathered in Bostan al-Qasr corridor, but the Fatah al-Sham (formerly known as al-Nusra) Front militants opened fire at them, wounded a number of them and didn’t allow them to evacuate the city".

The terrorists have also declared curfew in the Eastern parts of Aleppo and threatened the residents not to approach the corridors.

The army has not yet shown any reaction to the terrorists' aggressive moves in the region.


Published time: 20 Oct, 2016 13:35
Edited time: 20 Oct, 2016 18:37

Russia has decided to extend the humanitarian pause around Aleppo, Syria, for another 24 hours, the Russian defense minister has said. Militants killed 14 local officials and wounded three Russian officers on the first day of the pause.

“On an order from the commander-in-chief of the Russian military, Vladimir Putin, we have decided to extend the humanitarian pause for one more day. The extension of the humanitarian pause in Aleppo was supported by the leadership of the Syrian Arab Republic,” Sergey Shoigu said.

Three Russian military officers were lightly wounded when militants opened fire targeting a humanitarian corridor leading from Aleppo, near the El-Masharka government checkpoint, the Russian Center for Reconciliation reports.

"Their lives are out of immediate danger," the center stated.

Inside Aleppo, Ahrar ash-Sham militants publicly executed 14 local officials for calling on locals to leave the western part of the city, the center also reported.
Eight wounded militants left Aleppo via one of the humanitarian corridors on the first day. According to the Center for Reconciliation, they were provided medical aid, fed and delivered to an area under rebel control.



"Russian MoD livestreams from Aleppo as civilians leave militant-held areas"

As to where all the civilians are, see last report below

Photo montage: Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation

Published time: 20 Oct, 2016 08:38
Livestream videos from web cameras installed along ‘humanitarian corridors’ in Aleppo, as well as real time drone footage, are now available at Russia’s MoD website, providing a closer look at what is happening in the city amid a provisional ceasefire.
Four web cameras have been set up on the western part of the Castello Road in Aleppo, showing ‘humanitarian corridors’ and a Syrian army checkpoint in the Marsharqa neighborhood.
READ MORE: Planned humanitarian pause in Aleppo extended by 3 hours, 8 corridors to open – Russian military
A separate camera mounted on a surveillance drone brings you a bird’s eye view of the area meant to help civilians, as well armed militants, leave eastern Aleppo.
You can watch any of the livestreams at the Defense Ministry’s website.
Al-Nusra Front Terrorists Open Fire at Civilians Leaving Aleppo - Militia
13:36 20.10.2016 (updated 13:41 20.10.2016)

Al-Nusra Front militants have opened fire at civilians who wanted to leave Aleppo via the Bustan al-Qasr humanitarian corridor, a militia source told RIA Novosti.

Several people have been wounded, the source said. "Some 2,000 – 2,500 civilians who wanted to use the corridors and flee eastern Aleppo gathered in Bustan al-Qasr. Al-Nusra [Front] militants opened fire and did not allow them to leave. Several people were wounded," the source said.

Earlier, Aleppo residents told RIA Novosti that Jabhat Fatah al-Sham terrorist group formerly known as al-Nusra Front threatened to shoot Syrian civilians planning to leave eastern Aleppo through six allocated humanitarian corridors.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu declared on Tuesday that an eight-hour pause in Russian and Syrian airstrikes would be observed starting early Thursday to allow aid agencies bring lifesaving aid to Aleppo and evacuate the sick and the wounded. On Wednesday, it was extended by three hours. A total of eight humanitarian routes have been opened to allow people escape the besieged city – six are intended for civilians and two for militants willing to lay down their arms.


No One Using Aleppo Exit Routes Hours After Humanitarian Pause Comes Into Force
13:04 20.10.2016 (updated 13:05 20.10.2016)

No one so far has used exit routes from Aleppo, hours after a humanitarian ceasefire had come into force in the Syrian city, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported on Thursday.

ALEPPO (Sputnik) — Buses and ambulances are still waiting for evacuees, ready to bring them to safety, the correspondent said. No fighting has been reported near the Castello road in northern Aleppo.


Now, now, President Erdogan, please don't hit Ashton Carter with your yo-yo

I keep telling people it's something in the water over there but nobody wants to listen. 

Turkish president blasts U.S.-led campaign against Islamic State ahead of Ashton Carter’s visit
By Carlo Muñoz and Guy Taylor
The Washington Times
Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter will be walking into diplomatic buzz saw Thursday when he arrives in Turkey a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a blistering critique of the U.S.-backed campaign to oust the Islamic State group from neighboring Iraq and demanded a bigger role for Turkish military forces.

Mr. Erdogan’s remarkable outburst was the latest sign of difficulties the Obama administration faces in keeping the various members of its regional coalition pushing in the same direction in the fight to oust the Islamic State from its strongholds in Iraq and Syria and find a way to end Syria’s bloody civil war.

“From now on, we will not wait for problems to come knocking on our door, we will not wait until the blade is against our bone and skin, we will not wait for terrorist organizations to come and attack us,” Mr. Erdogan said in a fiery speech from his presidential palace in Ankara.

His comments prompted concern among U.S. officials already wary about a series of provocative moves by Mr. Erdogan that analysts say have been driven — at least in part — by a desire to pressure Washington into giving Turkey its way against Syrian and Iraqi Kurds. Mr. Carter’s visit will also be his first to Ankara since a failed military coup nearly ousted Mr. Erdogan and his ruling AKP party from power this summer.
[The report goes on and on from there. Riveting stuff if you have an interest in following the ups and downs of yo-yo contests with the Pentagon.]  

"Iraqi-Turkish split points to distrust among Mosul forces"

This October 20 - 5:47 AM EDT Associated Press report is a 'must read' for those following the Mosul operation and Iraq's situation in general. 

See also AP's report today filed at 5:10 AM EDT,  The Latest: Turkey 'displeased' with US support for Kurds

The Obama regime has a royal mess on its hands.


US-backed Kurds bombed in Syria by Turkey dispute high death toll number from Ankara

Syria Kurdish commander says Turkey pounding his forces
By The Associated Press 
October 20, 2016 | 5:00 AM EDT
via CNS News

BEIRUT (AP) — Turkish jets have struck the U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish militia north of the embattled city of Aleppo, claiming to have killed as many as 200 militia members, Turkey's state-run news agency reported Thursday.

A senior commander of the main Syria Kurdish militia, which has been supported by the United States, confirmed Turkish jets and artillery were still attacking his forces north of Aleppo, but disputed the casualty count saying no more than 10 of his fighters were killed so far.

Commander Mahmoud Barkhadan of the People's Protection Units told The Associated Press that Turkish tanks have been shelling the Kurdish-led forces in the area since early Wednesday. He said jets joined overnight and continue to pound his forces in the area. He said more than 30 aerial attacks had taken place so far and that early reports suggest no more than 10 fighters were killed and 20 were wounded. There was no word on civilian casualties yet.

The bombardment was a major escalation by Turkey just as the offensive to recapture the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants in Iraq was intensifying. Iraqi Kurdish forces have carried the brunt of the fighting so far in the Mosul offensive.

Kurdish forces in Syria have also carried out most of the fighting against IS and made significant territorial gains, including advances in the last few days against IS militants in Aleppo province, much to Turkey's fury in recent months. Turkey, which is dealing with a homegrown Kurdish insurgency, has been trying to prevent an expansion of Kurdish influence in Syria.

"We will not back down," Barkhadan said in a telephone interview from the area. He accused Turkey of aiding IS militants by diverting the fight into a Turkish-Kurdish one. "We are fighting Daesh, why are they striking at us?" he asked, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

The Anadolu Agency, quoting military officials, said the raids were carried out late Wednesday night, attacking 18 targets in the Maarraat Umm Hawsh region in northern Syria. Between 160 and 200 militia fighters were killed in the raid. The targets hit were in areas that the Syrian forces recently took over as they pressed ahead with their campaign to drive Islamic State militants from areas north of Aleppo.

The Syrian Kurdish force has been an ongoing source of tension between NATO allies Turkey and the United States.

The U.S. considers the militia group, known as the People's Protection Units or YPG, to be the most effective force in the fight against the Islamic State group in Syria. Turkey says the group is an extension of its own outlawed Kurdish militants who have carried out a series of deadly attacks in Turkey over the past year and considers it to be a terrorist organization.

Ankara has grown increasingly wary as the YPG succeeded in securing large portions of territory along the Syrian-Turkish border. In August, Turkey sent troops and tanks into northern Syria to help Syrian opposition forces drive the Islamic State group away from an area bordering Turkey, and to curb the Syrian Kurdish forces' territorial expansion.

The Turkish attack came after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would not "wait for terrorists to come and attack" but would go after them before they have the chance to strike.

Anadolu said the 18 Syrian Kurdish targets hit included nine buildings used as headquarters, meetings points, shelters or arms depots as well as five vehicles.


"Fraser reported from Ankara, Turkey." [No first name given in CNS version of report]


This NBC report repeats information but I want to include it:

Turkey Bombs U.S.-Backed Kurds in Syria's Aleppo Province
OCT 20 2016, 5:49 AM ET
by Alexander Smith
NBC News

Turkish jets bombed U.S.-backed Kurdish militants in Syria overnight — with each side offering vastly different figures on how many fighters were killed.
The NATO member's military said it killed between 160 and 200 Kurdish militants north of Aleppo, according to the Anadolu Agency, Turkey's state-run press service.
Warplanes dropped 26 bombs on 18 targets, including nine buildings being used as headquarters, shelters and an arsenal, Anadolu cited a military statement as stating.
But Mahmoud Barkhadan, a senior Kurdish commander, told The Associated Press that the death toll was far lower, putting it at no more than 10.  [See above AP report] 
He said Turkish tanks had been shelling their positions since Wednesday and that the assault was joined by jets overnight. Barkhadan said around 20 of his fighters were injured.
The strikes came in Aleppo province, north of the embattled city, where the Kurds have been making advances against ISIS in recent days, the AP reported.
Both Turkey and the Kurdish militia, known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG, are fighting against ISIS in Syria. The Kurds and Syrian rebels also share a common enemy in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
But despite these shared goals in Syria's complex civil war, Turkey also sees the Kurds in Syria as a growing threat as the militants recapture territory from ISIS along the Syria-Turkey border.
Furthermore, Ankara views the Syrian Kurds as an extension of its own banned Kurdish militant group, the PKK, which it considers a terrorist organization.
This has caused friction between Turkey and its NATO ally the United States, which backs the Syrian Kurds as the most effective force battling ISIS.
In August, Turkey launched an assault with jets, tanks and artillery in Syria, targeting both ISIS and the Kurdish militants.

NATO member Turkey bombs up to 200 Kurdish fighters in Syria. (UPDATED 6:45 AM EDT)


Sr. commander of US-backed Kurdish militia disputes death toll number given by Ankara, says no more than 10 of his fighters have been killed.  See AP report for details.


09:05 20.10.2016 (updated 09:06 20.10.2016) 

Turkish airstrikes killed up to 200 Kurdish fighters in northern Syria, according to Ankara's General Staff.
ANKARA (Sputnik) — An estimated 160-200 Kurdish self-defense forces have been killed in Turkish airstrikes in northern Syria, Turkey's General Staff said Thursday.
"Our Air Force as part of the Euphrates Shield operation carried out 26 strikes on 18 targets of the Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces — the Kurdistan Workers' Party, killing 160-200 militants," the General Staff said. Nine buildings controlled by the Kurdish formations, five vehicles and arms depots have been destroyed in the strikes, it added.
On August 24, Turkish forces, backed by US-led coalition aircraft, began a military operation dubbed Euphrates Shield to clear the Syrian border town of Jarablus and the surrounding area of Daesh, outlawed in Russia and many other countries. As Jarablus was retaken, the joint forces of Ankara, the coalition and Syrian rebels continued the offensive southwest. The intervention prompted accusations of invasion from Damascus and Syrian Kurds.
However comma the Kurds said back in August there was something fishy about the quick Turkish victory in Jarablus. Just "something?" The whole operation reeked of rotting red herring.


No evidence that Russians hacked US Democratic National Committee sites

There was discussion of the issue during Steve Cohen's 10/18 conversation with John Batchelor during the latest JBS installment of the 'New' Cold War. The consensus from IT sources Steve quoted is that if the hacking is done by a sophisticated state actor, it's technically impossible to trace to the source. 

Batchelor added that it's suspicious that Russian 'fingerprints' were left on the hack(s) given that real Russian hackers wouldn't leave fingerprints.

Steve also mentioned MIT professor. Theodore Postol's authoritative statements regarding the identity of the hackers, which Postol maintains is impossible to trace. 

He also makes the point that the US government is is using 'weasel language' when it 'reasons' that the hacking must be Russian because it's 'consistent with Russian motives.' 


The discussion about hacking starts at the 13:00 minute mark on the JBS show podcast.

In short there is no evidence linking Russian actors with the DNC hacks. However, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the Obama administration is using the claim of Russian hacking against the DNC as an excuse to as much threaten war with Russia. Much of Batchelor's discussion with Steve on October 18 was about just this issue.  

In a further exercise of weasel language the Obama Regime's claim that Russians were the hackers gave them an excuse to pressure Ecuador's government. NBC News broke the story last night just after 7:00 PM EDT:
Quiet pressure from the U.S. government played a role in Ecuador's decision to block WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange from using the internet at Ecuador's London embassy, U.S. officials told NBC News.
"It was a bit of an eviction notice," said a senior intelligence official.
Ecuador's government said Tuesday it had partly restricted internet access for Assange, the founder of anti-secrecy group WikiLeaks, who has lived in the South American country's London embassy for more than four years.
A source familiar with the situation says the Ecuadoran government has been frustrated with Assange and his presence at the embassy in London for months and has been considering how best to proceed.
The action came after U.S. officials conveyed their conclusion that Assange is a willing participant in a Russian intelligence operation to undermine the U.S. presidential election, NBC News has learned.
U.S. intelligence officials believe Assange knows he is getting the information from Russian intelligence, though they do not believe he is involved in helping plan the hacking, officials told NBC.
"The general view is he is a willing participant in the Russian scheme but not an active plotter in it. They just realized they could use him," said a senior intelligence official.
From that point on the report is quite strange, with other Obama administration officials denying that they pressured the Ecuador government. 

However, the NBC report is a model of sense next to the one Sputnik reported yesterday, Newsweek Journalist Claims US Intelligence Fed Him False Putin-Trump Conspiracy. This story is so convoluted that after reading it twice I still don't understand and refuse to keep trying. But for those who like London Sunday Times crossword puzzles here's the lede:
An error made by a Sputnik News editor has revealed shocking information that US intelligence agencies may actively be trying to manipulate the presidential election while also spying on Sputnik’s staff of US citizens.
Will at least some of this nuttiness subside once the U.S. presidential election is over? I hope so because it's giving weasels a bad name. Remember: weasels, as well as cats, fought armies of rodents that staged raids on granaries in ancient times.

Just think, all that hard work to save civilization ended up with today's American democratic campaign process and the media establishment.    


"Terrorists shell humanitarian corridor with mortars as civilians near Aleppo try to flee" BREAKING NEWS (UPDATED 3:20 AM EDT)

Sputnik's report has a little more information than the RT breaking news report below (emphasis mine):

Terrorists opened fire from mortars and small arms at a humanitarian corridor in the Bustan al Qasr neighborhood in the Syrian city of Aleppo, a RIA Novosti correspondent reported Thursday.

ALEPPO (Sputnik) — At least six mines have detonated in Bustan al Qasr west of the Sour al Hal market since early Thursday. Meanwhile, terrorists opened fire at the humanitarian pause checkpoint from a distance of 650 feet.

A more quiet atmosphere is observed at the second humanitarian corridor near the Castello Road in northern Aleppo ahead of the scheduled evacuation. A planned 11-hour pause in airstrikes on terrorist positions came into effect in Aleppo at 05:00 GMT to let civilians leave the city along six corridors, in addition to two corridors opened for militants.



October 20, 2016
Published time: 20 Oct, 2016 06:57
Edited time: 20 Oct, 2016 07:07

Islamist militants have shelled a ‘humanitarian corridor’ set up to allow civilians to escape from the eastern Aleppo, RIA Novosti reported. The shelling came amid a ceasefire declared the by Syrian military and Russian Air Force.

At least six mortar shells were fired into the ‘humanitarian corridor’ by militants in the Bustan al-Qasr neighborhood of eastern Aleppo. Small arms fire was also directed at a Syrian army checkpoint, RIA Novosti reported on Thursday.

The exit from the corridor is approximately 200 meters from Islamist positions and apparently within reach of their small arms and mortar fire, according to the report.


READ MORE: Planned humanitarian pause in Aleppo extended by 3 hours, 8 corridors to open – Russian military



I'm sorry but this isn't the Battle of Algiers

Somalia is an example of the "failed states" the U.S. now creates wherever it goes. 

During recent weeks Moon on Alabama's anonymous author "b" has been firing off one devastating critique after another of U.S. 'defense ' policy, which translates into colonial-era policies gussied up in modern tactics.

None of his points are new, but he's gathered them into arrow-sharp observations that bring home the depths to which the United States has sunk in the post-World War Two eras.  

My parents served in the U.S. military in the second world war. Yet for most of my life I've watched helplessly as my country has gone from redeemer nation to rogue state. So try to imagine how it makes me feel to have to agree with b -- who is a German national. 

Yet there's an area where I'm in strong disagreement. To choose one arrow in his quiver, in the following essay b lays out the American blueprint for waging war in an era when not one government, not one coalition, is able to stand up to the United States. However, he ends on a hopeful note:
No matter what new ways of war the U.S. applies, those attacked will always find ways to hit back.
A quarter century ago, maybe, but it's now too late, given the huge size of the U.S. population and vast natural resources it commands when those factors are coupled with modern technologies. 

Of course, barring disgruntled communists very few could have thought a quarter century ago that American defense policy was already set on a dark path. No matter how much people outside this country criticized U.S. policies, most believed Americans were fundamentally good.

Yet it's folly to use a moral judgment as a measure of a government's policies. What can be done is try to gauge how awake the majority of the governed are. By that measure Americans have sleepwalked themselves into a war policy that even in the days of the West European colonialists was incredibly destructive.

Can anything stop the policy in its tracks? Certainly not the romantic idea of guerrillas fighting this era's version of the Battle of Algiers. 

For Pete's sake, hasn't b ever read "Disaster Capitalism?" Not that I agree with everything in the book but the general idea applies. Let's say there are 10 terrorist attacks in the USA next year -- no, make it 20. The U.S. defense industry, the U.S. military, the U.S. war lobbies, would be in clover. Same with cyber attacks. The NSA would add 30,000 new jobs.

Meanwhile, U.S. freedoms would be curtailed to the point where there was no freedom. Then what? The people would revolt? That's a joke, right? Holed up at Last Stand Ridge with AR-15s and a year's worth of ammo and pizza deliveries from Domino's while the feds say on the phone, 'We know you're upset but you're surrounded.'

What about a nuclear attack? Crash the United States, crash the rest of the world. I doubt Kimmie would care but the Chinese certainly would. He indicates that he's seriously thinking of nuking the USA, the PLA will take him out. 

Look, eventually a Buddhist will become President of the United States. 

The New U.S. Way Of War
October 17, 2016
Moon of Alabama

A recommendable New York Times piece looks at the mostly hidden way the U.S. is now waging wars. The example is Somalia, where the U.S. has been at war with the people of that country for over 25 years. But, as the authors note, the same modus operandi applies elsewhere.
The Obama administration has intensified a clandestine war in Somalia over the past year, using Special Operations troops, airstrikes, private contractors and African allies in an escalating campaign against Islamist militants in the anarchic Horn of Africa nation.
Would that "anarchic" nation Somalia still be "anarchic" if the U.S. would end its endless fighting there? That is very unlikely. Without outer interference Somalia would have been peaceful again many years ago. But the war continues, run not with regular U.S. forces, but with mercenaries, proxies, drones and a few U.S. Special Forces.

Somalia is an example of the "failed states" the U.S. now creates wherever it goes. A "failed state" then justifies further involvement. The "model" applies around the world:
The Somalia campaign is a blueprint for warfare that President Obama has embraced and will pass along to his successor. It is a model the United States now employs across the Middle East and North Africa — from Syria to Libya — despite the president’s stated aversion to American “boots on the ground” in the world’s war zones. This year alone, the United States has carried out airstrikes in seven countries and conducted Special Operations missions in many more.
Such wars are mostly "off the book". Congressional oversight does not happen for them as the impact within the U.S. is too small. The media are practically excluded. The money comes out of secret CIA and special forces accounts or is shaken out of some friendly U.S. client state like Saudi Arabia. No one will find out what methods of force or "interrogation" are used and as those prisoners vanish in some local warlord's dungeon, no one is likely to ever find out:
About 200 to 300 American Special Operations troops work with soldiers from Somalia and other African nations like Kenya and Uganda to carry out more than a half-dozen raids per month, according to senior American military officials. The operations are a combination of ground raids and drone strikes.
The Navy’s classified SEAL Team 6 has been heavily involved in many of these operations.
Once ground operations are complete, American troops working with Somali forces often interrogate prisoners at temporary screening facilities, including one in Puntland, a state in northern Somalia, before the detainees are transferred to more permanent Somali-run prisons, American military officials said.
Force is applied willy-nilly. It doesn't matter much who gets hit or why. Lack of local knowledge, language and politics are the norm. No one ever gets punished for getting things wrong:
[A]n airstrike last month killed more than a dozen Somali government soldiers, who were American allies against the Shabab.
Outraged Somali officials said the Americans had been duped by clan rivals and fed bad intelligence, laying bare the complexities of waging a shadow war in Somalia.
The responsibilities that legally come with warfare are handed off to private parties. The use of mercenaries prevents accountability:
At an old Russian fighter jet base in Baledogle, about 70 miles from the Somali capital, Mogadishu, American Marines and private contractors are working to build up a Somali military unit designed to combat the Shabab throughout the country.
Soldiers for the military unit, called Danab, which means lightning in Somali, are recruited by employees of Bancroft Global Development, a Washington-based company that for years has worked with the State Department to train African Union troops and embed with them on military operations inside Somalia.
Michael Stock, the company’s founder, said the Danab recruits received initial training at a facility in Mogadishu before they were sent to Baledogle, where they go through months of training by the Marines. Bancroft advisers then accompany the Somali fighters on missions.
What the piece misses are the media measures - or propaganda - which accompanies all such U.S. campaigns. That is not unwittingly as the NYT is always an integral part of such campaigns. The usual justification is "terrorism" or the "moral" need to eliminate a "brutal regime". The piece accordingly lists a few alleged terrorism incidents with origin in Somalia to justify the massive, decades-long uprooting of a whole country.

The scheme visible in Somalia is the same one that is applied in Libya, in Syria and in the Ukraine. The U.S. hires some group willing to wage war for a decent pay, lots of weapons and a chance - maybe - to grab a lot of power for itself. It sends some mercenary company to "train" those forces, PR agencies get hired to provide the necessary media background, U.S. military forces are silently involved but only from far away via drones, or in mini-special force formation that train and direct the local proxies.

The CIA is usually in the lead with the U.S. military providing firepower as needed. The State Department handles the diplomatic hurdles, pampers the proxies and so called allies and, together with the Treasury, generously applies devastating sanctions to bend the people to its will.

The methods are not dissimilar to those used during the last century mainly in south America. But the wars are now more open with more brute force applied.

The big question for the rest of the world is how such mostly hidden wars can be countered. They are very difficult to win by force on the ground. The U.S. will not change course just because a few of its mercenaries get eliminated. 

The obvious answer is to increase the price the U.S. directly has to pay. The hurt must be painful enough to raise above the public negligence level that usually applies. Terrorism within the U.S. can and has been used. But I expect new, more subtle methods to be a part of the future answer. The cyber realm is ideal for asymmetric forces. A few knowledgeable fighters are sufficient. To counter them is difficult. The U.S. is probably the most sensitive target for cyber mayhem while the nations the U.S. attacks are mostly insensitive to such attacks.

No matter what new ways of war the U.S. applies, those attacked will always find ways to hit back.



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