Analysis of Turkish-American FBI Whistleblower Sibel Edmonds on Russian Ambassador’s Assassination; Time for Washington Policymakers to Stop Believing Their Own Propaganda on Syria and Acknowledge Their Incompetence as Russia-Iran-Turkey Plan Settlement

“In this edition of Newsbud Spotlight, Sibel Edmonds covers the recent assassination of the Russian Ambassador to Turkey in Ankara.  Discussion includes the critical timing of the hit, the known facts, the motives and who benefits from this assassination as well as other questionable deaths of high ranking officials on both sides. ”

This was an intriguing and in-depth analysis.  It is interesting to note what Edmonds had to say about the fact that Al Qaeda/Al Nusra has reportedly claimed responsibility (I believe she may have misspoken and said ISIS) for the assassination in retaliation for Russia’s actions in Syria.

Speaking of Russia’s actions in Syria, an official inquiry requested by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, has determined that Russia was not responsible for the air attack on an aid convoy in Aleppo this past September, despite the immediate and baseless claims of various Washington officials – reminiscent of the immediate hysterical accusations, without any possible evidence yet gathered, against the Syrian government for the 2013 Ghouta chemical attack and against the Russian government and Donbass rebels for the 2014 downing of the MH17 airplane.  Similar to this incident, later investigations and evidence did not support those initial accusations. According to the analysis of international law expert, Alexander Mercouris:

At the time of the attack I pointed out that this rush to condemn the Russians was made before any investigation of the incident had taken place, before any attempt had been made to secure the place where the attack happened, and in the absence of any inspection of the area….I was also openly skeptical about the chances of any inquiry into the incident being set up….

….On the last point it turns out I was wrong, because on 21st October 2016 – more than a month after the attack on the convoy had taken place and with minimal publicity – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon did set up a Board of Inquiry.

That Board of Inquiry has now reported, though its report too is being barely reported.  Ban Ki-moon has however provided a summary of its report, and it can be found here.

In brief, the reason the Inquiry and its report are receiving minimal publicity is because its results satisfy do not satisfy certain powerful governments.

It says the convoy was destroyed as the result of an air attack.  It completely exonerates the US and the other Western powers.  It also completely exonerates the Jihadis of staging the incident. However it also indirectly but nonetheless clearly exonerates the Russians.

Whilst it puts the blame for the attack – though only indirectly – on the Syrians, it makes it clear that it believes they attacked the convoy unintentionally and in error.

It also confirms that Western governments pressured the Board of Inquiry to try to get it to implicate the Russians in the attack on the convoy, which however the Inquiry refused to do.

The Board of Inquiry’s findings are open to challenge.  This is because of the delay in setting up the inquiry and the failure to secure the crime scene.  As a result the Board of Inquiry was unable to carry out a physical inspection of the crime scene.  Here is what the report says about this

The Board was not allowed to visit the scene of the incident in Urem al-Kubra, the [Syrian] Government stating that it was unable to ensure the safety of the Board, given the ongoing military operations at that location. In this regard, the Board noted that 11 weeks had already elapsed by then since the date of the incident, by which time damaged vehicles had been removed and some destroyed structures had been repaired or rebuilt. Subsequent actions had therefore adversely affected the integrity of the site of the incident and consequently the availability of physical evidence. A visit to the site might therefore not have yielded commensurate results.  The Board accordingly developed alternative methods of evidence collection.

All this is true but it is also deeply regrettable.  As I said in my article of 26th September 2016 (see above) securing the crime scene immediately following the attack ought to have been the immediate priority.  Realistically that would have required cooperation by all the Great Powers (including the US, Russia, Syria and Turkey) and probably a Resolution of the UN Security Council.  The way the Western powers politicised the incident and sought to make political capital out of it made all that impossible, which is why an inspection of the crime scene has never happened.

Unfortunately without a proper inspection of the crime scene the Inquiry report is incomplete, and its findings open to challenge.

The Board of Inquiry has set out how in the absence of an inspection of the crime scene it undertook its investigation

The Board was not allowed to visit the scene of the incident in Urem al-Kubra, the Government stating that it was unable to ensure the safety of the Board, given the ongoing military operations at that location. In this regard, the Board noted that 11 weeks had already elapsed by then since the date of the incident, by which time damaged vehicles had been removed and some destroyed structures had been repaired or rebuilt. Subsequent actions had therefore adversely affected the integrity of the site of the incident and consequently the availability of physical evidence. A visit to the site might therefore not have yielded commensurate results.  The Board accordingly developed alternative methods of evidence collection.

 The Board was only able to travel to the Syrian Arab Republic from 5 to 9 December 2016, as the issuance of visas by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic was only confirmed on 28 November 2016.  The Board travelled to Damascus, where the Board met with the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic, including the High Relief Committee, SARC Damascus and the United Nations Country Team.  At the Russian Embassy in Damascus, the Board also met military officers from the Russian Military airbase in Hmeimim.  In West Aleppo City, the Board met the Governor of Aleppo, members of the local relief committee and the Commanding General of the Russian Reconciliation Centre, Hmeimem. The Board also interviewed primary witnesses in West Aleppo.

The Board also met with the members of the High Negotiations Committee for the Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (HNC) and the National Coalition of Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces (SOC). Furthermore, the Board met with representatives of armed opposition groups. It interviewed primary witnesses (eye witnesses) in Gaziantep and Reyhanli.

The Board also collaborated with UNITAR-UNOSAT, which provided technical capabilities to analyse satellite imagery and ground photography.

The Board used the following materials and methods to arrive at its findings: (i) satellite images; (ii) over 370 photographs and videos; (iii) interviews conducted by the Board of a total of 16 persons who were either eye witnesses to the incident or who were in the vicinity of Urem al-Kubra on the evening of 19 September 2016; (iv) interviews conducted by the Board of a total of 19 secondary witnesses, including United Nations personnel and  representatives of armed opposition groups; (v) information from Member States, including information on their air assets; (vi) air tracks shared with it by the Government of the Syrian Arab Republic; (vii) an oral briefing by the Syrian Government regarding their national investigation into the incident, which was still on-going, together with copies of autopsy reports;  (viii) information from the SARC.; (ix) documents from the United Nations Country Team for Syria; and (x) open-source information.

The Board declined to accept physical evidence, such as munitions remnants that were alleged to be from the site of the incident, as the chain of custody for these items could not be established.

This speaks of a proper and thorough investigation, with the opinions of all parties carefully sought and all the right questions asked.  However it cannot fully make up for the failure to examine the crime scene.

Continue reading Mercouris’s  analysis here

Last Tuesday, representatives from Iran and Turkey met in Moscow to try to lay the groundwork for a settlement of the Syrian proxy war, excluding both the US and the UN.  RT reported the following details on the meeting:

The text of a Moscow declaration on immediate steps in resolving the Syrian crisis is being prepared. Russia, Turkey and Iran are ready to be guarantors of its implementation, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu has announced.

“Today, experts are working on the text of the Moscow declaration on immediate steps toward resolving the Syrian crisis. This is a thorough, extremely necessary document,” Shoigu said at the meeting with his Iranian counterpart Hossein Dehghan.

According to Shoigu, all previous “attempts to agree on joint efforts undertaken by the US or their partners were doomed.”

“None of them exerted real influence on the situation on the ground,” he said.

The approval of the declaration at the level of defense and foreign ministers shows a willingness to “act as guarantors and jointly resolve the urgent issues of the Syrian crisis,” Shoigu said. “That’s why we support the adoption of this declaration.”

Shoigu also met with the minister of National Defense of Turkey, Fikri Isik, who praised the operation on liberating eastern Aleppo. “Now we are observing a very successful operation to liberate eastern Aleppo from fighters, the evacuation of the families of the opposition from Aleppo,” Isik said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavusoglu is currently in Moscow for talks with Russia’s Sergey Lavrov and Iran’s Mohammad Javad Zarif. He said that the trilateral cooperation has proven its effectiveness in eastern Aleppo and called for it to spread to other parts of Syria. “A political solution is the best solution, this is what we believe,” Çavusoglu said. He added that the ceasefire should be implements in all parts of Syria, adding that the truce doesn’t concern Islamic State or Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly known as Al-Nusra Front).

On that same day, Press TV reported that the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs announced that the Syrian government authorized the sending of more UN staff to monitor the ongoing evacuations from E. Aleppo:

In another development on Tuesday, Jens Laerke, the spokesman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), said the Syrian government had authorized the world body to send an additional 20 staff to eastern Aleppo, where they will monitor evacuations from the formerly militant-held region. The new deployment would “almost triple” the number of international staffers” in Aleppo, Laerke told a news briefing in the Swiss city of Geneva, adding, “The task is to monitor and observe the evacuations.”

On Monday, the UN Security Council unanimously approved a resolution urging the quick deployment of monitors.

The evacuations are part of the fragile Aleppo ceasefire deal, brokered by Turkey and Russia, that also includes the evacuation of the residents of the villages of Foua and Kefraya in Idlib Province, which have been under terrorists’ siege. Some 750 people have been taken out of the two villages so far, where 20 buses headed to early on Tuesday morning, he noted.

In recent days, the Russian Defense Ministry has announced that mass graves have been discovered in liberated E. Aleppo, containing the tortured bodies of civilians:

Mass graves with dozens of bodies of civilians subjected to brutal torture have been discovered in Aleppo neighborhoods left by militants, the Russian Defense Ministry said Monday.


Many of the corpses were found with missing body parts, and most had gunshot wounds to the head, according to a statement by Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov.

“The completion of a uniquely large-scale humanitarian operation by the Russian Center for Reconciliation in Aleppo will destroy many of the myths that have been fed to the world by Western politicians,” Konashenkov said in a statement. “The results of only an initial survey of Aleppo neighborhoods abandoned by the so-called ‘opposition’ will shock many.”

In addition to the massacres on militant-held territory, the area had been extensively mined: streets, cars, the entrances to buildings and even children’s toys had been booby-trapped.

In one small area, three tanks, two cannons, two multiple rocket launchers and numerous homemade mortars were found.

So, more evidence of what people who have been paying attention have known for a while – that the “rebels” Washington was supporting were not simply some democracy-loving, guitar-strumming hippies but mostly ruthless Islamic jihadists, many of whom were not even Syrian.
But those of us who have tried to speak out about the false narrative that government officials and their corporate media lackeys were feeding people about the Syrian war (among other issues) – and the dangerous potential consequences – have largely been verbally intimidated in subtle and not so subtle ways to sit down and shut up.
Writer and academic Louis Allday has written an excellent piece, posted over at MRZine (Monthly Review), detailing how this propaganda trick is utilized by its adherents:


One of many truths lost within this discourse is the reality that the creation of a no-fly zone would, in the words of the most senior general in the U.S. Armed Forces, mean the U.S. going to war “against Syria and Russia”. I wish to be clear from the outset that I write this as someone who has previously lived in Syria and cherishes deeply the memories of my time there. I remain in touch with many Syrian friends, most of whom are now refugees outside of the country. So it is particularly difficult for me to swallow accusations of callousness towards the plight of Syrians and their country: nothing could be further from the truth.

In the current environment, to express even a mildly dissenting opinion, point out basic but unwelcome facts such as the presence of significant public support for the government in Syria, or highlight the frequently brutal acts of rebel groups, has seen many people ridiculed and attacked on social media. These attacks are rarely, if ever, reasoned critiques of opposing views; instead they frequently descend into personal, often hysterical, insults and baseless, vitriolic allegations. Generally, a set of core arguments are used to denounce those who question the dominant narrative: they include the notion that it is somehow Islamophobic to criticise the actions of rebel groups or to label them as extremists, and that to highlight the central role of U.S. imperialism in the conflict is Orientalist as it denies Syrians their ‘agency’. Often, legitimate criticism is simply dismissed outright as ‘fascist’, ‘Stalinist’, ‘Putinist’ or all three. The policing of acceptable opinion in this way has a simple and practical function: to foster a climate in which people feel too intimidated to speak out, thus allowing the dominant narrative to remain unquestioned so that, crucially, it can continue to be utilised to generate public support for further Western intervention in Syria.

Of course, this is a strategy with a well-established precedent; the treatment given to many opponents of NATO’s assault on Libya in 2011 and the U.S./UK invasion of Iraq in 2003 are obvious recent examples. Unfortunately, it remains an effective means to stifle dissent and establish the acceptable parameters of mainstream debate. Its success has meant that those in favour of greater Western intervention in Syria have virtually monopolised the popular debate and control the narrative. I know several people who have admitted to me that they are too intimidated to write or speak honestly about Syria in public and so either limit what they say or, if possible, do not broach the topic at all. I am certain that many reading this will have noticed a glaring difference between private conservations they have with friends and acquaintances that work on Syria in some capacity, and the statements that they make in public.

Allday also corrects the factual record in relation to the myths reinforced by the mainstream propaganda narrative on Syria. Read the complete piece here

An even more in-depth breakdown of the myths about the Syrian war, “The Revolutionary Distemper That Wasn’t,” can be found over at Stephan Gowans’ blog.  This is long but well worth the read.  The information is taken from a forthcoming book by Gowans on this topic – which I’ve already pre-ordered.

Forthcoming April 2017 from Baraka Books.

Investigative reporter, Gareth Porter, who specializes in the Middle East and has done some great work on Syria, published an article today with information provided by a former Obama administration insider who confirmed what I have suspected for the past few years watching the administration’s policies with respect to Syria and Russia:  Obama’s foreign policy advisers are utterly incompetent:

The former official revealed that when Obama made the first move toward supporting the arming of Syrian opposition forces, the president failed to foresee the risk of a direct Iranian or Russian intervention on behalf of the Syrian regime in response to an externally armed opposition – because his advisors had failed to take this likelihood into account themselves.

The story of this policy failure begins after military resistance to the Assad regime began in spring and summer 2011.

In August 2011, national security officials began urging Obama to call on Assad to step down, according to the former official.

Obama did make a statement suggesting that Assad should step aside, but he made it clear privately that he had no intention of doing anything about it. “He viewed it as simply a suggestion, not a hard policy,” the ex-official said.

But soon after that, a bigger issue arose for the administration’s policy: how to respond to pressure from Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar for a US commitment to help overthrow Assad.

In September 2011, the Saudis and Turks not only wanted the US to provide arms to the opposition. “They wanted the US to provide anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles,” recalled the ex-official.

Turkey even offered to send troops into Syria to overthrow Assad, but only if US and NATO agreed to create a “no-fly zone” to protect them.

But Obama refused to provide US arms to the Syrian rebels and also opposed the Sunni foes of Assad providing such heavy weapons. “He wasn’t willing to go along with anything except small arms,” said the former official.

Apparently to assuage the dissatisfaction of the Sunni allies, then-director of the CIA David Petraeus devised a plan, which Obama approved, to help move the small arms from Libyan government stocks in Benghazi to Turkey.

Confirming the 2014 story by Seymour Hersh, the ex- official, recalled, “It was highly secret but officials involved in the Middle East learned of the programme by word of mouth.”

The combination of those two policy decisions committed Obama – albeit half-heartedly- to the armed overthrow of the Assad regime.

More importantly, when Obama was making crucial Syria policy decisions in September 2011, no one on his national security team warned him that Iran had a very major national security interest in keeping the Assad regime in power that could draw the Iranians into the war, according to the former official.

Obama’s advisers assumed instead that neither Iran nor Russia would do more than offer token assistance to keep Assad in power, so there was no risk of an endless, bloody sectarian war.

Not one supposed expert out of this bunch advising (arguably) the most powerful person in the world had the most basic understanding of geography or the history and politics of the region? And none of the Russia experts (like, say, Celeste Wallander, who serves on Obama’s NSC) had gotten the memo that this was no longer the 1990’s and Russia was not just passed out drunk on the sidewalk anymore, but could now actually do something to protect its perceived interests?  Seriously?


Jan Oberg & Vanessa Beeley Report on the Ground from E. Aleppo; Patrick Cockburn on Propaganda as Opposed to Reporting Out of Syria; Putin’s Plan for Syria Peace Settlement; Robert Parry & Ray McGovern Counter Russian Hacking Claims; Russian Ambassador Gunned Down in Turkey

Eastern Aleppo in December 2016 (photo by Jan Oberg on Facebook)

Eastern Aleppo in December 2016 (photo by Jan Oberg on Facebook)



After battlefield pauses, failed ceasefires and the shelling by jihadists of Shia militia fighters leaving by bus per agreement, independent western reporters have made their way to east Aleppo to report on the situation.   Swedish journalist and peace advocate, Jan Oberg, filed the following on-the-ground report on December 15th:

Western media tell you about regime killings and mass murder, only bad things about the Syrian regime. But I saw another side today:

Syrian Arab Army soldiers participate in the humanitarian work at the Jibrin Reception Center in Aleppo that receives people from Eastern Aleppo. All with whom I talked today expressed their joy over their freedom from the four-year siege and for the assistance the government, army and also university student volunteers provide them – as many as 90,000 to 100,000 people.

I was free to talk with and photograph anyone I chose and I was there without any security, police or other protection. Kind and professional officials who thanked me for being in Aleppo exactly now and bringing their stories out. Not one declined to be photographed, many asked me to.

More from Oberg can be read here 

British journalist, Vanessa Beeley, who has reported numerous times from all over Syria, shared the following report from Aleppo on December 12th:

On the morning of the 12th December we headed for Sheikh Saeed in East Aleppo. This area had been the scene of very fierce fighting between the Syrian Arab Army and their allies, particularly Hezbollah and the terrorist factions that have brutally occupied East Aleppo for the last four years. Terrorist factions such as Nusra Front [Al Qaeda], Nour al Din Zinki [child beheaders] Ahrar Al Sham [ethnic cleansers of all minorities in areas they occupy] and other lesser militants, all funded and armed by NATO and Gulf states and focused upon wholesale destruction of Syrian infrastructure and the abuse, imprisonment & massacre of the Syrian people.

The whole area had only been fully liberated the day before. There was still a large degree of tension on the ground and Syrian and Russian jets were still flying overhead, gunshot and mortar fire can be heard in the video. The destruction was shocking.

We were taken up on to a rooftop for the Syrian military press briefing. While the commander was talking to the press, a young Syrian Army soldier came to speak to me…

Do these young men, fighting for their country, their families and their people, really look as if they are capable of then executing, raping and murdering the people they would give their lives to save from their incarceration under a NATO and Gulf state imposed terrorist regime? [View video, two and a half minutes, at weblink here.]

Veteran middle east journalist for the Independent of London, Patrick Cockburn, has written about the clever (and successful) policy by the jihadists who controlled E. Aleppo of killing and/or intimidating journalists so as to deter them from having a presence in the areas they occupy, thereby creating a vacuum of information that can be filled by those who are either supporters or appeasers of the jihadists:

The foreign media has allowed – through naivety or self-interest – people who could only operate with the permission of al-Qaeda-type groups such as Jabhat al-Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham to dominate the news agenda.

The precedent set in Aleppo means that participants in any future conflict will have an interest in deterring foreign journalists who might report objectively. By kidnapping and killing them, it is easy to create a vacuum of information that is in great demand and will, in future, be supplied by informants sympathetic to or at the mercy of the very same people (in this case the jihadi rulers of east Aleppo) who have kept out the foreign journalists. Killing or abducting the latter turns out to have been a smart move by the jihadis because it enabled them to establish substantial control of news reaching the outside world. This is bad news for any independent journalist entering their territory and threatening their monopoly of information.

Meanwhile, Putin, who was just named Forbes‘ most powerful person in the world for the fourth year straight, is reportedly planning to organize a meeting in Kazakhstan in which Iran, Turkey, Russia, the Syrian government and the non-jihadi opposition will negotiate a settlement of the Syrian conflict, leaving Washington and the EU out in the cold.
I will keep an eye on developments relating to this story.
Ray McGovern, former 30-year veteran CIA analyst specializing in the Soviet Union and now a member of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) gave a 17 minute interview to WHDT‘s Mark Maxwell in which he explains how the corporate media and Washington politicians’ narrative of Russia having hacked the DNC and Podesta emails to tilt the election toward Donald Trump does not stand up to technical scrutiny and is still bereft of evidence.   Watch the interview here:
Investigative journalist Robert Parry, who has kept on this story, among others, with the diligence and skepticism required of a real reporter, had this to say about the possible motivation for the leaks – as explained in a recent Scott Horton interview with diplomat Craig Murry – as well as the motivation for pinning them on a Russian hacking conspiracy:


At the center of this controversy is the question of who leaked or hacked the DNC and Podesta emails. The CIA has planted the story in The Washington Post, The New York Times and other mainstream outlets that it was Russia that hacked both the DNC and Podesta emails and slipped the material to WikiLeaks with the goal of assisting the Trump campaign. The suggestion is that Trump is Putin’s “puppet,” just as Hillary Clinton alleged during the third presidential debate.

But WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has publicly denied that Russia was the source of the leaks and one of his associates, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan Craig Murray, has suggested that the DNC leak came from a “disgruntled” Democrat upset with the DNC’s sandbagging of the Sanders campaign and that the Podesta leak came from the U.S. intelligence community.

Although Assange recently has sought to muzzle Murray’s public comments – out of apparent concern for protecting the identity of sources – Murray offered possibly his most expansive account of the sourcing during a podcast interview with Scott Horton on Dec. 13.

Murray, who became a whistleblower himself when he protested Britain’s tolerance of human rights abuses in Uzbekistan, explained that he consults with Assange and cooperates with WikiLeaks “without being a formal member of the structure.”

But he appears to have undertaken a mission for WikiLeaks to contact one of the sources (or a representative) during a Sept. 25 visit to Washington where he says he met with a person in a wooded area of American University. At the time, Murray was at American University participating in an awards ceremony for former CIA officer John Kiriakou who was being honored by a group of former Western intelligence officials, the Sam Adams Associates, named for the late Vietnam War-era CIA analyst and whistleblower Sam Adams.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern, a founder of the Sam Adams group, told me that Murray was “m-c-ing” the event but then slipped away, skipping a reception that followed the award ceremony.

Reading Between LInes

Though Murray has declined to say exactly what the meeting in the woods was about, he may have been passing along messages about ways to protect the source from possible retaliation, maybe even an extraction plan if the source was in some legal or physical danger.

Murray has disputed a report in London’s Daily Mail that he was receiving a batch of the leaked Democratic emails. “The material, I think, was already safely with WikiLeaks before I got there in September,” Murray said in the interview with Scott Horton. “I had a small role to play.”

Murray also suggested that the DNC leak and the Podesta leak came from two different sources, neither of them the Russian government.

“The Podesta emails and the DNC emails are, of course, two separate things and we shouldn’t conclude that they both have the same source,” Murray said. “In both cases we’re talking of a leak, not a hack, in that the person who was responsible for getting that information out had legal access to that information.”

Reading between the lines of the interview, one could interpret Murray’s comments as suggesting that the DNC leak came from a Democratic source and that the Podesta leak came from someone inside the U.S. intelligence community, which may have been monitoring John Podesta’s emails because the Podesta Group, which he founded with his brother Tony, served as a registered “foreign agent” for Saudi Arabia.

“John Podesta was a paid lobbyist for the Saudi government,” Murray noted. “If the American security services were not watching the communications of the Saudi government’s paid lobbyist in Washington, then the American security services would not be doing their job. … His communications are going to be of interest to a great number of other security services as well.”

….In reference to the leak of the DNC emails, Murray noted that “Julian Assange took very close interest in the death of Seth Rich, the Democratic staff member” who had worked for the DNC on voter databases and was shot and killed on July 10 near his Washington, D.C., home.

Murray continued, “WikiLeaks offered a $20,000 reward for information leading to the capture of his killers. So, obviously there are suspicions there about what’s happening and things are somewhat murky. I’m not saying – don’t get me wrong – I’m not saying that he was the source of the [DNC] leaks. What I’m saying is that it’s probably not an unfair indication to draw that WikiLeaks believes that he may have been killed by someone who thought he was the source of the leaks … whether correctly or incorrectly.”

Though acknowledging that such killings can become grist for conspiracy buffs, Murray added: “But people do die over this sort of stuff. There were billions of dollars – literally billions of dollars – behind Hillary Clinton’s election campaign and those people have lost their money.

“You have also to remember that there’s a big financial interest – particularly in the armaments industry – in a bad American relationship with Russia and the worse the relationship with Russia is the larger contracts the armaments industry can expect especially in the most high-tech high-profit side of fighter jets and missiles and that kind of thing.

“And Trump has actually already indicated he’s looking to make savings on the defense budget particularly in things like fighter [jet] projects. So, there are people standing to lose billions of dollars and anybody who thinks in that situation bad things don’t happen to people is very naïve.”

….There’s another possibility in play here: that the U.S. intelligence community is felling a number of birds with one stone. If indeed U.S. intelligence bigwigs deemed both Clinton and Trump unfit to serve as President – albeit for different reasons – they could have become involved in leaking at least the Podesta emails to weaken Clinton’s campaign, setting the candidate up for the more severe blow from FBI Director Comey in the last week of the campaign.

Then, by blaming the leaks on Russian President Putin, the U.S. intelligence leadership could set the stage for Trump’s defeat in the Electoral College, opening the door to the elevation of a more traditional Republican. However, even if that unlikely event – defeating Trump in the Electoral College – proves impossible, Trump would at least be weakened as he enters the White House and thus might not be able to move very aggressively toward a détente with Russia.


In Ankara earlier today, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was shot dead during a public appearance by a member of the Turkish police.  The gunman reportedly shouted comments in regard to the war in Syria.  According to an early report by the New York Times:

ISTANBUL — Russia’s ambassador to Turkey was assassinated at an Ankara art exhibit on Monday evening by a lone Turkish gunman shouting “God is great!” and “don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria!” in what the leaders of Turkey and Russia called a provocative terrorist attack.

The gunman, described by Turkish officials as a 22-year-old off-duty police officer, also wounded at least three others in the assault on the envoy, Andrey G. Karlov, which was captured on video. Turkish officials said the assailant was killed by other officers in a shootout.

The assassination, an embarrassing security failure in the Turkish capital, forced Turkey and Russia to confront a new crisis tied directly to the Syrian conflict, now in its sixth year.

A subsequent report by the Washington Post had the first public reaction from both Putin and Erdogan:

The leaders of Turkey and Russia say the killing of the Russian ambassador in Turkey has been intended to ruin Russia-Turkey ties.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking in televised remarks during a meeting with senior officials, said that the killing of Ambassador Andrei Karlov was a “provocation aimed at derailing Russia-Turkey ties and the peace process in Syria.”

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in a video message being shown on several Turkish TV channels, says that “this is a provocation to damage the normalization process of Turkish-Russian relations. But both the Russian and Turkish administrations have the determination not to fall for this provocation.”

Both leaders said that Russian investigators will be part of the official probe into the assassination of Russian Ambassador Andrei Karlov in Ankara.

The Washington Post also reported on Washington’s reaction to the assassination:

The White House is strongly condemning the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Andrei Karlov, saying “this heinous attack on a member of the diplomatic corps is unacceptable.”

National Security Council spokesman Ned Price says the United States government’s thoughts and prayers are with the families and loved ones of Karlov and the other victims.

Price says “we offer our condolences to the Russian people and government.”

Price also says the U.S. government stands united with Russia and Turkey in its determination to confront terrorism in all of its forms.

Jihadists Admit Defeat as Syrian Government Takes Effective Control of All Aleppo & Over 50,000 Civilians Evacuate East; Still No Evidence of Russian Interference in Election But Lots of Hot Air; Netherlands Likely to Thwart EU-Ukraine Association Agreement

People gather to leave Al-Salhen neighborhood in eastern Aleppo on Dec 8, 2016 (European Pressphoto Agency-EPA)

(People gather to leave Al-Salhen neighborhood in eastern Aleppo on Dec 8, 2016 (European Pressphoto Agency-EPA))

Starting around December 8th, approximately 50,000 civilians fled eastern Aleppo via humanitarian corridors set up by the Syrian and Russian government forces as over 1200 “rebel” fighters laid down arms.  RT reported what the representative of the Russian Defense Ministry stated on this, in addition to some comments in which the spokesman vented his spleen in response to recent criticisms by the EU foreign policy chief about the Syrian and Russian government operations in the country:

Over the past 48 hours, up to 50,000 people have been evacuated from eastern Aleppo, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov has reported. “More than 20,000 residents left eastern Aleppo in the first part of Saturday, and 1,217 militants laid down their weapons,” Konashenkov said.

“The Russian Center for Reconciliation, through humanitarian corridors near Karim El-Hun and Mahayar, has organized the evacuation of civilians from the eastern parts of Aleppo to the safe areas of the city,” Konashenkov added. “We warn terrorists and militants of the so-called ‘moderate opposition,’ and also their patrons: Do not attempt any provocations, especially attacks on civilians leaving through humanitarian corridors,” the Russian Defense Ministry statement says.

Konashenkov also addressed those who, over the past few months, have declared their readiness to send humanitarian aid to Aleppo. “Representatives of the US, UK, France, Canada, the European Union, and international organizations: Over the past two days, nearly 50,000 civilians have been evacuated by the Russian Reconciliation Center from the eastern parts of Aleppo. They are in need of the humanitarian assistance you promised. It is time to check the validity of your intentions.”

The statement added that the Syrian government now controls 93 percent of Aleppo, and the civilians who exited eastern Aleppo have been placed in special humanitarian centers where they are provided with hot food and medical help.

The Russian Reconciliation Center is monitoring the evacuation of civilians from the blocked districts round-the-clock with the use of drones.

Earlier this week, Moscow slammed a statement by EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, who said the EU was the only party providing aid to Syria. “It’s outrageous twisting of facts which ignores what Russia has been doing for a long time,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Thursday.

The Russian Foreign Ministry noted that Russia, “unlike other international players, has been actively supplying thousands of tons of humanitarian aid to various regions across Syria, including the liberated areas in eastern Aleppo, at the risk of Russian military lives.

“If the high representative [Mogherini] means providing assistance to terrorists and extremists, then we don’t participate in this, indeed,” the statement added.

Further reports in the past 48 hours indicate that the jihadists are now confined to an area of eastern Aleppo that is less than a mile wide and are themselves admitting defeat.  Alexander Mercouris provides the following details:

Reports from the Jihadis themselves say that they are now confined to an area less than a mile wide between the River Aleppo and the Salaheddin district near the main sports stadium.  Even they now admit that their resistance is almost entirely at an end.  The Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, a monitoring group that has consistently sided with the Jihadis throughout the Syrian conflict, is reporting it in this way

“The battle of Aleppo has reached its end. It is just a matter of a small period of time . . . it’s a total collapse.”

If the Syrian authorities have indeed at this eleventh hour refused to let the Jihadis leave Aleppo, then this is a reflection of the bankruptcy of US diplomacy.  Earlier in the day Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov made the following withering statement about US diplomatic actions 

“The problem is very simple.  We say – let us first of all agree on what corridors will be provided to militants, given the previous experience when gunmen used any pause for regrouping, receiving replenishment from abroad and terrorising the civilian population even more furiously.

We can coordinate this with Americans very quickly. We undertake commitments to guarantee that these corridors won’t be attacked by Syrian armed forces, while Americans undertake commitments together with their regional allies to get militants’ consent to leave eastern Aleppo via these safe corridors.

….As the “Great Battle of Aleppo’ approaches its end – which will probably come tomorrow – there could not be a sharper contrast between the way in which the news of the Syrian army’s victory is being celebrated in Syria, and the gloom and anger with which it is being received in the West.

In Aleppo itself film shows joyful Syrians flooding onto the streets to celebrate the Syrian army’s victory and the coming end of the fighting in their city.  Here is one such video published by the Russian news agency Sputnik:

According to a report from the Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) of yesterday, 3,000 more civilians fled eastern Aleppo:

ALEPPO – Three thousand civilians who had been besieged by terrorist organizations have got out from the eastern neighborhoods of Aleppo city through humanitarian corridors set by the Syrian Army in cooperation with the Russian side. A SANA reporter in Aleppo said that the civilians’ exit started today at dawn and is continuous, adding that army units and concerned authorities are transferring them to makeshift centers in Jibrin and providing them with the requirements of residence in the centers.

….The statement clarified that since the beginning of the military operations, 110,000 civilians, including 44367 children, have been evacuated from the eastern neighborhoods, while more than 7000 people returned to their houses in the areas restored by the Army.

Hoopla about Russia interfering in the recent U.S. presidential election continues.  Robert Parry over at Consortium News clarifies what the media and Democratic Party operatives are really talking about when they accuse Russia of having interfered in our elections – it’s not having hacked voting machines or stuffed ballot boxes for Trump, it is the fact that information was released, via Wikileaks and others, that exposed Clinton’s dubious political and financial relationships, putting her at a supposed disadvantage to Trump .  He also points out the hypocrisy of those now jumping up and down about the election results after having jumped up and down when Trump said during a campaign debate that he would wait and see if he accepted the election results:


His [Trump’s] refusal to commit to accepting the results was front-page news for days with leading editorialists declaring that his failure to announce that he would abide by the outcome disqualified him from the presidency.

But now the defeated Democrats and some anti-Trump neoconservatives in the Republican Party are jumping up and down about how Russia supposedly tainted the election by revealing information about the Democrats and the Clinton campaign.

Though there appears to be no hard evidence that the Russians did any such thing, the Obama administration’s CIA has thrown its weight behind the suspicions, basing its conclusions on “circumstantial evidence,” according to a report in The New York Times.

The Times reported: “The C.I.A.’s conclusion does not appear to be the product of specific new intelligence obtained since the election, several American officials, including some who had read the agency’s briefing, said on Sunday. Rather, it was an analysis of what many believe is overwhelming circumstantial evidence — evidence that others feel does not support firm judgments — that the Russians put a thumb on the scale for Mr. Trump, and got their desired outcome.”

In other words, the CIA apparently lacks direct reporting from a source inside the Kremlin or an electronic intercept in which Russian President Vladimir Putin or another senior official orders Russian operatives to tilt the U.S. election in favor of Trump.

The absence of such hard evidence opens the door to what is called “confirmation bias” or analytical “group think” in which the CIA’s institutional animosity toward Russia and Trump could influence how analysts read otherwise innocent developments.

For instance, Russian news agencies RT or Sputnik reported critically at times about Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, a complaint that has been raised repeatedly in U.S. press accounts arguing that Russia interfered in the U.S. election. But that charge assumes two things: that Clinton did not deserve critical coverage and that Americans – in any significant numbers – watch Russian networks.

Similarly, the yet-unproven charge that Russia organized the hacking of Democratic National Committee emails and the private email account of Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta assumes that the Russian government was responsible and that it then selectively leaked the material to WikiLeaks while withholding damaging information from hacked Republican accounts.

Here the suspicions also seem to extend far beyond what the CIA actually knows. First, the Republican National Committee denies that its email accounts were hacked, and even if they were hacked, there’s no evidence that they contained any information that was particularly newsworthy. Nor is there any evidence that – if the GOP accounts were hacked – they were hacked by the same group that hacked the Democratic Party emails, i.e., that the two hacks were part of the same operation.

That suspicion assumes a tightly controlled operation at the highest levels of the Russian government, but the CIA – with its intensive electronic surveillance of the Russian government and human sources inside the Kremlin – appears to lack any evidence of such a top-down operation.

Second, WikiLeaks editor Julian Assange directly denies that he received the Democratic leaked emails from the Russian government and one of his associates, former British Ambassador Craig Murray, told the U.K. Guardian that he knows who “leaked” the Democratic emails and that there never was a “hack,” i.e. an outside electronic penetration of an email account.

Murray said, “I’ve met the person who leaked them, and they are certainly not Russian and it’s an insider. It’s a leak, not a hack; the two are different things.”

But even if Assange did get the data from the Russians, it’s important to remember that nothing in the material has been identified as false. It all appears to be truthful and none of it represented an egregious violation of privacy with some salacious or sensational angle.

The only reason the emails were newsworthy at all was that the documents revealed information that the DNC and the Clinton campaign were trying to keep secret from the American voters.

….So, how does giving the American people truthful and relevant information undermine American democracy, which is the claim that is reverberating throughout the mainstream media and across Official Washington?

Presumably, the thinking is that it would have been better for the American people to have been kept in the dark about these secret maneuverings by the DNC and the Clinton campaign and, by keeping the public ignorant, that would have ensured Clinton’s election, the preferred outcome of the major U.S. news media.

There’s another double standard here. For instance, when a hack of — or a leak from — a Panamanian law firm exposed the personal finances of thousands of clients, including political figures in Iceland, Ukraine, Russia and other nations, there was widespread applause across the Western media for this example of journalism at its best.

The applause was deafening despite the fact that at least one of the principal “news agencies” involved was partly funded by the U.S. government. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), a USAID-backed non-governmental organization, also was earlier involved in efforts to destabilize and delegitimize the elected Ukrainian government of President Viktor Yanukovych.

Read the complete article here

Glenn Greenwald contributed his own scathing analysis of what’s wrong with the Washington Post’s latest reporting of unsubstantiated claims by the CIA:

THE WASHINGTON POST late Friday night published an explosive story that, in many ways, is classic American journalism of the worst sort: The key claims are based exclusively on the unverified assertions of anonymous officials, who in turn are disseminating their own claims about what the CIA purportedly believes, all based on evidence that remains completely secret.

These unnamed sources told the Post that “the CIA has concluded in a secret assessment that Russia intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency, rather than just to undermine confidence in the U.S. electoral system.” The anonymous officials also claim that “intelligence agencies have identified individuals with connections to the Russian government who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of hacked emails” from both the DNC and John Podesta’s email account. Critically, none of the actual evidence for these claims is disclosed; indeed, the CIA’s “secret assessment” itself remains concealed.

A second leak from last night, this one given to the New York Times, cites other anonymous officials as asserting that “the Russians hacked the Republican National Committee’s computer systems in addition to their attacks on Democratic organizations, but did not release whatever information they gleaned from the Republican networks.” But that NYT story says that “it is also far from clear that Russia’s original intent was to support Mr. Trump, and many intelligence officials — and former officials in Mrs. Clinton’s campaign — believe that the primary motive of the Russians was to simply disrupt the campaign and undercut confidence in the integrity of the vote.”

Needless to say, Democrats — still eager to make sense of their election loss and to find causes for it other than themselves — immediately declared these anonymous claims about what the CIA believes to be true, and, with a somewhat sweet, religious-type faith, treated these anonymous assertions as proof of what they wanted to believe all along: that Vladimir Putin was rooting for Donald Trump to win and Hillary Clinton to lose and used nefarious means to ensure that outcome. That Democrats are now venerating unverified, anonymous CIA leaks as sacred is par for the course for them this year, but it’s also a good indication of how confused and lost U.S. political culture has become in the wake of Trump’s victory.

Given the obvious significance of this story — it is certain to shape how people understand the 2016 election and probably foreign policy debates for months if not years to come — it is critical to keep in mind some basic facts about what is known and, more importantly, what is not known:

Read the rest of Greenwald’s breakdown here

Moreover, it is being reported in more than one major outlet that both the office of the Director of National Intelligence, which oversees all 17 intelligence agencies, and the FBI, have not endorsed the CIA’s assessment.  Additionally, VIPS (Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity) has now published its own memorandum challenging the reported claims of the CIA.  The VIPS memorandum is authored by, among others, William Binney who had served as the NSA’s technical director for years and is one of the foremost experts who could weigh in on this:


In what follows, we draw on decades of senior-level experience – with emphasis on cyber-intelligence and security – to cut through uninformed, largely partisan fog. Far from hiding behind anonymity, we are proud to speak out with the hope of gaining an audience appropriate to what we merit – given our long labors in government and other areas of technology. And corny though it may sound these days, our ethos as intelligence professionals remains, simply, to tell it like it is – without fear or favor.

We have gone through the various claims about hacking. For us, it is child’s play to dismiss them. The email disclosures in question are the result of a leak, not a hack. Here’s the difference between leaking and hacking:

Leak: When someone physically takes data out of an organization and gives it to some other person or organization, as Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning did.

Hack: When someone in a remote location electronically penetrates operating systems, firewalls or any other cyber-protection system and then extracts data.

All signs point to leaking, not hacking. If hacking were involved, the National Security Agency would know it – and know both sender and recipient.

In short, since leaking requires physically removing data – on a thumb drive, for example – the only way such data can be copied and removed, with no electronic trace of what has left the server, is via a physical storage device.

Again, NSA is able to identify both the sender and recipient when hacking is involved. Thanks largely to the material released by Edward Snowden, we can provide a full picture of NSA’s extensive domestic data-collection network including Upstream programs like FairviewStormbrew and Blarney. These include at least 30 companies in the U.S. operating the fiber networks that carry the Public Switched Telephone Network as well as the World Wide Web. This gives NSA unparalleled access to data flowing within the U.S. and data going out to the rest of the world, as well as data transiting the U.S.

In other words, any data that is passed from the servers of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) or of Hillary Rodham Clinton (HRC) – or any other server in the U.S. – is collected by the NSA.  These data transfers carry destination addresses in what are called packets, which enable the transfer to be traced and followed through the network.

….The bottom line is that the NSA would know where and how any “hacked” emails from the DNC, HRC or any other servers were routed through the network. This process can sometimes require a closer look into the routing to sort out intermediate clients, but in the end sender and recipient can be traced across the network.

The various ways in which usually anonymous spokespeople for U.S. intelligence agencies are equivocating – saying things like “our best guess” or “our opinion” or “our estimate” etc. – shows that the emails alleged to have been “hacked” cannot be traced across the network. Given NSA’s extensive trace capability, we conclude that DNC and HRC servers alleged to have been hacked were, in fact, not hacked.

The evidence that should be there is absent; otherwise, it would surely be brought forward, since this could be done without any danger to sources and methods. Thus, we conclude that the emails were leaked by an insider – as was the case with Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Such an insider could be anyone in a government department or agency with access to NSA databases, or perhaps someone within the DNC.


The Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, is seeking assurances from the other EU members that Ukraine will not be granted EU membership or included in any security commitments, if he facilitates the override of the Dutch public vote against the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement earlier this year, through a parliamentary endorsement.  Reuters reports:

Rutte is trying to free himself from a political bind after Dutch voters, concerned about the costs, rejected the so-called association agreement in a referendum in April. If his demands are met, he plans to go back to his parliament to win an endorsement that would overwrite the negative vote.

The Dutch are therefore seeking a legally binding decision by the 28 EU leaders that the association agreement is “not a stepping stone” to EU membership for Kiev, one source said. This is not to the liking of Poland, a key supporter of Ukraine.

….A draft document for the EU leaders to approve, prepared by the Dutch and seen by Reuters, also rules out financial or security guarantees for Ukraine and spells out that Ukrainians are not being given the right to live and work in the bloc.

CCI: Détente Now: A New Call for Peace, Security, and Cooperation

Vladimir Putin and Jean-Claude Juncker

From the Center for Citizen Initiatives:

The Nation

Civic and religious leaders in Germany are spearheading a new initiative to avoid war between Russia and the West.

By Gilbert Doctorow, Ute Finckh-Krämer, Ludger Volmer, Rolf Ekéus and Noam Chomsky

transatlantic appeal for a new policy of détente with Russia has been launched. The declaration’s authors invite the general public to join leading political figures and social activists who have publicly rallied to support the call.

The initiative was born in Berlin several months ago in the days of deepest gloom engendered by confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, the Baltic countries, and Syria, with major war exercises held around Russia’s borders and bellicose language from both sides that suggested imminent hot war. As German Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank Walter Steinmeier (SPD) said in an interview with Bildnewspaper on October 8, present times are more dangerous even than during the Cold War that ended in 1990: “Previously, the world was divided, but Moscow and Washington knew each other’s red lines and respected them. In a world with many regional conflicts and dwindling influence of the great powers, the world becomes more unpredictable.”

The roll-out of the initiative called Détente Now aims at bringing civil society on two continents into play both to enforce and to support approaches to pursue dialogue and compromise with Russian counterparts, e.g., on confidence- and security-building measures between Russia and its neighbors. Détente Now will be a powerful voice for change of direction in foreign policy within Europe, and within Germany in particular….

….Starting this month, the declaration will be published on various homepages, and public collection of more signatures of support will start. A German version can be found here, with an English version here.

To read the rest of this post go here


Putin Calls on Erdogan to Back Down in Syria; Syrian Government Getting Close to Defeat of Jihadists in E. Aleppo as Russia Gives Them Ultimatum to Surrender; More Empty Promises from Washington; Ukrainian Fascists Prevent Yanukovich from Testifying About Maidan; WaPo Reports Pentagon Hid Study Showing $125B in Waste; Just When You Thought You’d Heard it All

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meet in Rome, Italy on Dec 2, 2016 (Gregorio Borgia, Reuters)

(Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (R) meet in Rome, Italy on Dec 2, 2016 (Gregorio Borgia, Reuters))

At the end of November, Erdogan had a phone call with Putin concerning Syria in which it appears Erdogan never made any claims about seeking regime change in Syria.   However, according to Alexander Mercouris, the call was initiated by Erdogan and and its purpose was to complain about the alleged Syrian airstrike on Turkish troops that reportedly resulted in casualties.

It is in fact known that what happened was that Erdogan telephoned Putin to complain about the alleged Syrian air strike on Turkish troops north of Al-Bab, which the Turks say killed and wounded several Turkish soldiers. 

The terse Kremlin account of the conversation suggests that there was a furious row, with Putin reminding Erdogan that unlike Russian troops, who are in Syria legally at the invitation of Syria’s legitimate government, Turkish troops are present in Syria illegally and contrary to the wishes of Syria’s legitimate government, and that for this reason the Russians are not in a position to help them.

Mercouris goes on to explain that this angered Erdogan, which in turn, prompted his comments a couple of days later claiming that the purpose of the Turkish Operation Euphrates Shield was to overthrow Assad.

Erdogan’s comments about the Turkish troops being in Syria to overthrow President Assad were almost certainly provoked by this row with Putin.  It seems Erdogan came away smarting from his conversation with Putin and – as is his character – tried to save face by saying more than it was wise of him to say.

The result was another furious telephone conversation between Putin and Erdogan yesterday.

….However on this occasion we have more information about the call from Putin’s aide Yury Ushakov

“I can only say that a telephone conversation between our president and Erdogan took place yesterday, and the topic [of Turkey’s presence in Syria] was addressed. Yes, he [Erdogan] gave an explanation.”

Today Erdogan has made public what that “explanation” was.   Turkish newspaper Hurriyet reports him telling a meeting of village elders at his Presidential palace in Ankara

“The aim of the Euphrates Shield Operation is no country or person but only terror organisations. No one should doubt this issue that we have uttered over and over, and no one should comment on it in another fashion or try to [misrepresent its meaning].”

In other words Erdogan has backed down.  After his conversation with Putin he has now been forced to deny the truth of what he said just the day before yesterday: that he is seeking to overthrow President Assad. 

Erdogan continues with his mercurial shenanigans.  I’m sure there will be more to report on Turkey in the near future.

As for Syria, it is looking like the government has regained control of approximately 3/4 of the territory of eastern Aleppo that was once held by the jihadists, with reports of Al Qaeda/Al Nusra commanders negotiating surrender.  Many are predicting that Aleppo will be completely liberated by the end of this month.

As The Duran reports:

Further reports of Syrian army advances suggest that the fighting in Aleppo may be drawing to an end with Jihadi resistance in eastern Aleppo close to collapse.

It seems that over the course of the day Syrian troops have recaptured two more districts west of Aleppo airport – Karam al-Jazmati and Karam al-Tarab – bringing them within 2 km of the Aleppo citadel in the centre of the city, which throughout the Syrian conflict has remained in the possession of the Syrian army, as a salient of the western section of the city which has always been under the Syrian army’s control.

Following these latest advances it is now confirmed that the Syrian army now controls more than half of the former Al-Qaeda controlled pocket of eastern Aleppo. 

It seems that the Syrian army’s objective is to advance west from the districts it has just recaptured to the Aleppo citadel, slicing what is left of the Jihadi pocket once more in two. 

At that point the Jihadis in eastern Aleppo will be forced to withdraw even further into the southern areas of their former pocket, which would however become so diminished in size as to be rendered increasingly indefensible.

More details are provided by military analyst Moon of Alabama:

Since the start of the Syrian army offense on the Takfiri held east-Aleppo some 21,000+ civilians have left towards the government held areas in the western part. Several news accounts confirm that these civilians had been held hostages by the Takfiris and had to flee under fire:

“We were under pressure by all means, psychological and financial. The gunmen were trying to prevent us from leaving until the army came,” said 36-year-old Amina Rwein, who fled with her husband, seven daughters and three sons.”We came under fire from the gunmen as we were leaving and the army hit the minaret from where the sniper was shooting, and then we crossed,” she said.

About 500 fighters among those civilians gave themselves up to the Syrian army. 480 of them were locals and where led go after they pledged to end all fighting.

The remaining rebels want to stay in the city and continued fighting until the end. This sabotages plans by Secretary of State Kerry who tries to get another ceasefire in which some al-Qaeda fighters would leave but other Takfiris kept in control of east-Aleppo. Kerry was late anyway. That deal was no longer on the table. The EU has even worse ideas – it wants to bribe the Syrian government to keep some Jihadis alive and in power. What a joke! The Russian and Syrian forces will not leave any enemy fighter in the area alive or any inch of Aleppo city grounds occupied by them. Later the same will apply to all of Syria.

New controlled exits for civilians and fighters who want to leave will be set up soon. All the old exit areas in the northern parts are now completely under Syrian government control.

I doubt that there are many, if any civilians left. As my original estimated from October 15 said:

Based on the Daraya numbers and those of other sieges in Syria there are probably no more than 4-5,000 fighters and some 3-5 civilians per fighter, i.e. their immediate families, in east-Aleppo. The real total could easily be as low as 20,000.The UN Refugees Agency and UN officials told fairy tales of some 270,000 civilians under siege in east-Aleppo. Numbers every “western” media repeated without caveats. More than 60% of the areas have been liberated. The International Red Cross went there and they were empty. Where are all those hundred-thousands civilians the UN envisioned now?

As reported by TASS on December 5th, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov made it clear that, in discussions with Washington, no ceasefire will be agreed to until after all jihadists have agreed to withdraw.   There were initial signals made by Washington that it would agree to the removal of the jihadists from Aleppo.

MOSCOW, December 5. /TASS/. Those militants who refuse to leave Eastern Aleppo will be regarded as terrorists, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said, adding that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s proposal handed over to him in Rome concerned “coordination of specific routes and dates for the pullout of all militants without any exceptions from eastern Aleppo.”

“Those groups which refuse to leave eastern Aleppo will be treated as terrorists,” Lavrov said. “By refusing to walk out from eastern Aleppo they will in fact go ahead with armed struggle. We will treat them accordingly, as terrorists and extremists, and support the Syrian army in its operation against such armed gangs.”

“We proceed from the assumption the Americans, when they put forward their initiative for letting all militants leave eastern Aleppo, were well aware what steps they and their allies will have to take to influence the militants entrenched in that party of the city,” he added.

However, that proposal has now been rescinded by Washington (possibly due to the fact that Washington cannot force those jihadists to leave who have chosen to stay and go down with the ship as it were).

RT reported on Washington’s pullout from the agreement on the following day:

Just as the US and Russia were preparing to discuss a solution for Aleppo, which was to involve free passage for all rebels from the part of the city still under their control, Washington abruptly withdrew its own proposal, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

According to Lavrov, the Americans are currently working on an alternative plan for the city. He said the Wednesday consultations are canceled at this point.

They have withdrawn their document and have a new one. Our initial impression is that this new document backtracks, and is an attempt to buy time for the militants, allow them to catch their breath and resupply,” Lavrov said.

The minister remarked that there would apparently be no serious discussion of the Syrian crisis with the administration of outgoing US President Barack Obama.


The same thing happened with our agreement of September 9,” Lavrov explained. “The thing that the Americans offered on paper and what we backed is now somehow not OK for them. It’s difficult to understand who makes decisions there, but apparently there are plenty of those who want to undermine the authority and practical steps by John Kerry.”


Ousted Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovich was scheduled to give evidence by video link to a court in Kiev last Friday (December 2nd) regarding the events on Maidan that led to the massacre of protesters and police and the subsequent coup.

However, his testimony was thwarted when, according to The London Times,

…a handful of camouflage-clad Ukrainian nationalists blockaded the detention centre holding the accused officers, preventing their arrival in court.

Mr Yanukovych was asked to return on Monday, but a nationalist spokesman suggested that a second prison blockade was likely.

“Personally, I think the video interrogation is an absolute disgrace,” Zorian Shkiryak, chief adviser to the internal affairs ministry, said.


The Pentagon January 2008.jpg

(The Pentagon in January 2008;

The Washington Post has published an article about a Pentagon report on waste that was commissioned and later buried by the DOD to avoid possible defense budget cuts:

The Pentagon has buried an internal study that exposed $125 billion in administrative waste in its business operations amid fears Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget, according to interviews and confidential memos obtained by The Washington Post.

The report, issued in January 2015, identified “a clear path” for the Defense Department to save $125 billion over five years. The plan would not have required layoffs of civil servants or reductions in military personnel. Instead, it would have streamlined the bureaucracy through attrition and early retirements, curtailed high-priced contractors and made better use of information technology.

The study was produced last year by the Defense Business Board, a federal advisory panel of corporate executives, and consultants from McKinsey and Company. Based on reams of personnel and cost data, their report revealed for the first time that the Pentagon was spending almost a quarter of its $580 billion budget on overhead and core business operations such as accounting, human resources, logistics and property management.




MSC 2014 Brzezinski Kleinschmidt MSC2014.jpg


And just when I thought I’d heard everything, it has been announced that Henry Kissinger and Zbigniew Brzezinski will be honored by the Nobel Institute and Oslo University on December 11th.  These two old buzzards will be asked to speak on — get this — “The United States and World Peace After The Presidential Election.”

As Jan Oberg, whose article made me aware of this, comments:

These two experts on warfare and interventionism will – Orwellian style – speak about “The United States and World Peace After The Presidential Election”.

This is the country that, since 1980, has intervened violently in Iran, Libya, Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Sudan, Kosova/Serbia, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, i.e. 14 Muslim countries. It has some 630 base facilities in 130+ countries. It has its US Special Forces (SOF) in 133 countries.

It has used nuclear weapons without apology and owns the second largest arsenal of nuclear weapons.

The US stands for about 40% of the world’s military expenditures, is the world’s leading arms exporter and has killed more people than anybody else since 1945. It’s the master of (imprecise) drone strikes. It presently supports Saudi Arabia’s bestial war on Yemen and conducts a military build-up in Asia and the Pacific planning, as it seems, for what looks like a future confrontation with China. And not with terribly positive results in its Middle East policies since 1945.

So with all these credentials, please tell us about world peace!

I wonder if barf bags will be included for the attendees at this soiree.