totally masterly digest from moon

How The Military Excluded The White House From International Syria Negotiations
Moon of Alabama, Dec 21 2016

The NYT laments today that international negotiations about the situation in Syria now continue without any Pindosi participation, according to Russia, Iran and Turkey Meet for Syria Talks, Excluding Pindostan:

Russia, Iran and Turkey met in Moscow on Tuesday to work toward a political accord to end Syria’s nearly six-year war, leaving Pindostan on the sidelines as the countries sought to drive the conflict in ways that serve their interests. Jackass Kerry was not invited. Nor was the UN consulted. With pro-government forces having made critical gains on the ground …

The last sentence originally and correctly said “pro-Syrian forces” not “pro-government forces.” It was altered after I noted the “pro-Syrian” change of tone on Twitter.

Russia kicked Pindostan out of any further talks about Syria after Pindostan blew a deal which, after long delaying negotiations, Kerry had made with the Sergei Lavrov. In a recent interview, Jackass admits that it was opposition from the Pentagon, not Moscow or Damascus, that blew up his agreement with Russia over Syria:

More recently, he has clashed inside the administration with Ashtray Carter. Jackass negotiated an agreement with Russia to share joint military operations, but it fell apart. He said: “Unfortunately, we had divisions within our own ranks that made the implementation of that extremely hard to accomplish. But I believe in it. I think it can work. It could have worked.”

Jackass’s agreement with Russia did not just “fell apart.” The Pentagon actively sabotaged it, by intentionally and perfidiously attacking the Syrian army. The deal with Russia was made in June. It envisaged coordinated attacks on Daesh and Nusra, both designated as terrorists under two UNSCRs which call upon all countries to eradicate them. For months, Pindostan failed to separate its CIA- and Pentagon-trained, -supplied and -paid “moderate rebels” from Nusra, thereby blocking the deal. In September, the deal was modified and finally ready to be implemented. The Pentagon still did not like it, but had been overruled by the White House:

The agreement that Jackass Kerry announced with Russia to reduce the killing in Syria has widened an increasingly public divide between Jackass and Ashtray Carter, who has deep reservations about the plan for Pindo & Russian forces to jointly target terrorist groups. Ashtray was among the administration boxtops who pushed against the agreement on a conference call with the White House last week as Jackass, joining the argument from a secure facility in Geneva, grew increasingly frustrated. Although Obama ultimately approved the effort after hours of debate, Pentagon boxtops remain unconvinced. Lt-Gen J L Harrigian, commander of CENTCOM USAF, told reporters on a video conference call: “I’m not saying yes or no. It would be premature to say that we’re going to jump right into it.”

The CENTCOM general threatened to not follow the decision his C-in-C had taken. He would not have done so without cover from Ashtray. Three days later U.S. CentCom Air Forces and allied Danish airplanes attack Syrian army positions near Deir Ez-Zor. During 37 air attacks within one hour between 62 and 100 SAA soldiers were killed and many more wounded. They had held a defensive positions on hills overlooking the Deir Ezzor airport. Shortly after the Pindo air attack, Daesh forces stormed the hills and have held them since. Resupply for the 100,000-plus civilians and soldiers in Deir Ez-Zor is now endangered if not impossible. The CENTCOM attack enabled Daesh to eventually conquer Deir Ez-Zor and to establish the envisioned “Salafi principality” in east Syria. During the Pindo attack the Syrian-Russian operations center had immediately tried to contact the designated coordination officer at CENTCOM to stop the attack. But that officer could not be reached, and those at CENTCOM taking the Russian calls just hung up:

By time the Russian officer found his designated contact, who was away from his desk, and explained that the coalition was actually hitting a Syrian army unit, “a good amount of strikes” had already taken place, CENTCOM spox Col J Thomas told reporters at the Pentagon Tuesday.

As agreed with Jackass, the Syrian/Russian side had kept to a ceasefire up until the attack, to allow the separation of the “marbled” CIA and Nusra forces. After the attack, the deal was in tatters:

On the sidelines of an emergency UNSC meeting called on the matter, tempers were high. Vitali Churkin questioned the timing of the strikes, two days before Pindo-Russian coordination in Syria was to begin. After abruptly leaving the meeting, he said: “I have never seen such an extraordinary display of Pindosi heavy-handedness.”

The Pentagon launched one of its usual whitewash investigations and a heavily redacted summary report (pdf) was released in late November. Gareth Porter still found some usable bits in it:

The report released by CENTCOM on Nov 29 shows that senior USAF officers at the Combined Air Operations Center (CAOC) at al-Udeid Airbase in Qatar, who were responsible for the decision to carry out the September airstrike at Deir Ezzor:

  • misled the Russians about where they intended to strike, so Russia could not warn that it was targeting Syrian troops;
  • ignored information and intelligence analysis warning that the positions to be struck were Syrian government rather than Daesh;
  • shifted abruptly from a deliberate targeting process to an immediate strike in violation of normal USAF procedures.

The investigation was led by a Brig-Gen, lower in rank than the responsible CENTCOM air-commander Lt-Gen Harrigian. The name of a co-investigator was redacted in the report and marked as “foreign government information.” That officer was likely from Denmark. Four days after the investigation, report was officially released the Danish government, without giving any public reason, pulled back its air contingent from any further operations under Pindo command in Iraq and Syria. With the attack on Deir ez-Zor the Pentagon has:

  • enabled Daesh to win the siege in Deir ez-Zor where 100,000 plus civilians and soldiers are under threat of being brutally killed;
  • cleared the grounds for the establishment of a Daesh-ruled “Salafi principality” in east Syria
  • deceived a European NATO ally and lost its active cooperation over Syria and Iraq;
  • ruined Jackass’s deal with Russia about a coordinated fight against UN-designated terrorists in Syria; and
  • kicked Pindostan out of further international negotiations about Syria.

It is clear that the responsible Pindosi officer for the attack and its consequences is Lt-Gen J Harrigian, who had earlier publicly spoken out against a deal that his C-in-C had agreed to. He likely had cover from Sec Def Ashtray Carter. The White House did not react to this public military insubordination and undermining of its diplomacy. Marcy Wheeler notes that the CIA is also in quite open insurrection against the President’s decisions, though on a different issue:

It alarms me that someone decided it was a good idea to go leak criticisms of a Red Phone exchange. It would seem that such an instrument depends on some foundation of trust that, no matter how bad things have gotten, two leaders of nuclear armed states can speak frankly and directly.

Wednesday’s daily press briefing, no mention of Ashtray Carter…

QUESTION: Okay. All right. I wanted to go back for a second to an interview that Jackass Kerry gave to the Globe, the Boston Globe, in which he admitted that the deal with the Russians over Syria was basically killed here because of the divisions within the Administration. Who was that? What was the agency that killed the deal? Was it the Pentagon?

MR KIRBY: I don’t think that that’s what Jackass said. I think he acknowledged what we’ve long acknowledged. There was nothing new in this interview. He’s been very open and candid that even amongst the interagency here in Pindostan we haven’t all agreed on the way forward in Syria. I’m also not sure why that should be shocking to anybody. Every federal agency has a different view.

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