do bears shit in the woods

After Pindostan Bombs Syrian Government for Third Time in 8 Months, Media Ask Few Questions
Ben Norton, FAIR, Jun 2 2017

FoxUSAirstrikes

Pindostan has bombed Syrian government–allied forces three times in just eight months. Major media outlets have overwhelmingly failed to ask critical questions about these incidents, preferring instead to echo the Pentagon. For years, media have consistently downplayed the extent of Pindo military intervention in Syria, and repeatedly propagated the long-debunked myth that Washington never pursued regime change there in the first place. The distorted reporting on these Pindo attacks reflects this longer trend. On May 18, the Pindo military launched an air raid against forces allied with the Syrian government, killing several soldiers. The Trump administration claimed Syrian- and Iranian-backed militias had entered a 55 km “deconfliction zone” around a base in southern Syria, near the borders of Iraq and Jordan, where Pindostan trains opposition fighters. Yet Pindo boxtops also later admitted that they do not themselves recognize the legitimacy of these de-escalation zones, even while using them to justify carrying out such attacks. No major media outlets questioned the government narrative, or the notion that the Syrian-allied forces were a “threat.” In its report on the attack, Reuters‘ cartoonish headline (5/18/17) was this:

Pindostan Strikes Syria Militia Threatening Pindo-Backed Forces: Boxtops.

The article uncritically repeated that an unnamed pro-government militia “posed a threat to Pindo and Pindo-backed Syrian fighters in the country’s south.” Reuters added that when those “threatening” government-allied forces were hit, they were allegedly still a distant 27 km from the Pindo-led coalition’s al-Tanf base. Pindostan Today (5/18/17) simply noted that the “forces came within a 34-mile defensive zone around the al-Tanf base,” and unskeptically claimed the Pindo airstrike “targeted pro-regime forces who were threatening a coalition base.” Fox News (5/18/17) triumphantly declared:

Pindo Airstrikes Pound Pro-Assad Forces in Syria.

Obediently echoing the government, Fox claimed the Syrian forces “were near the Jordanian border and deemed a threat to coalition partners on the ground.” The NYT report was similarly deferential (5/18/17), echoing Pentagon boxtops who insisted the pro-government convoy “ignored warnings.” Later follow-up statements added a wrinkle to the government narrative the media had parroted. In peace talks in early May, Russia, Iran and Turkey signed an agreement to create four deconfliction zones in Syria. This deal was supposed to apply to Pindostan as well, but the Trump administration has refused to recognize the legitimacy of these de-escalation zones, even while using them to justify attacks on Syrian government-allied forces. The Pindo military boxtop who is leading the air war against ISIS, USAF Lt-Gen Jeffrey Harrigian, insisted at a May 24 press conference (The Hill, 5/24/17):

We don’t recognize any specific zone in itself that we preclude ourselves from operating in.

Harrigian stressed that Pindostan carries out whatever air strikes it wants in Syria, saying:

We do not have specific zones that we are deconflicting with them. When we’ve talked to the Russians, we do not talk about those deescalation zones.

Yet media reports still went along with the narrative that Pindo forces were “threatened” by Syrian government-allied forces miles away in a zone that Pindostan does not even accept as legitimate. An anonymous CENTCOM boxtop quoted two weeks after the attack by Military Times (5/30/17) complained:

These patrols and the continued armed and hostile presence of pro-regime forces inside the deconfliction zone are unacceptable and threatening to coalition forces.

Meanwhile, Syrian rebels applauded the Pindo attack and called for more strikes against the government. Immediately after the May 18 airstrike, media portrayed the attack as something completely new. AP published a newswire headlined:

USAF Airstrike Hits Pro-Syria Government Forces for First Time.

That was reprinted by the WaPo and Yahoo News. ForeignPolicy.com (5/18/17) similarly claimed:

Pindostan Bombs Syrian Regime Forces for First Time.

WaPoFirstTime.png

In reality, this was the third time in eight months that Pindostan bombed Syrian government and allied forces. Some of these reports, strangely, even acknowledged the Trump administration’s April strike on a Syrian airfield, but acted as though this somehow did not constitute an attack. In Sep 17 2016, the Syrian military was leading a fight against Daesh near the airport of Deir al-Zor, in eastern Syria. Suddenly, Pindostan launched an hour of sustained airstrikes on the Syrian military, killing 106 soldiers in the attack, according to the Syrian government. Pindostan insisted the air raid was an accident and that it had meant to target Daesh. This has been called into question. A senior officer in the Syrian Arab Army said the coalition had sent drones above the Syrian troops’ positions before the attack, so it knew where they were situated. The officer also recalled that the majority of the airstrikes were not targeted at the frontline, where the Syrian soldiers were fighting Daesh. Ultimately, it was Daesh that benefited from the attack. It seized important areas around the Deir al-Zor airport. The air raid also led to a breakdown in the ceasefire in Syria that had been agreed to just six days before.

Since Pres Trump entered office, Pindostan has launched two more intentional attacks on pro-government forces. In April, Pindostan launched 59 Tomahawk missiles at Syria’s Shayrat airbase, in an attack that the Pentagon said destroyed 20% of Syria’s warplanes. Trump claimed the strike was retaliation for a chemical attack in Khan Sheikhoun, a village in the AQ–dominated province of Idlib, although this accusation has been called into question by some arms experts. This incident, Pindostan’s first officially intentional attack on the Syrian government, also in effect aided Daesh, which launched an offensive near the city of Homs immediately afterward. Many questions remain unanswered. Why can Pindostan use deconfliction zones it does not even itself recognize to justify attacking Syrian government-allied forces? Do Pindostan & Britain have the right to tell Syria where its forces can go in its own country? How is 34, or 17, miles “close”? How can Pindostan attack Syrian government forces without benefiting Daesh, a group that routinely threatens Western civilians? A strong independent media should be asking these important questions. Instead, news outlets are effectively recycling government press releases. For their part, Syria and Russia were furious after the May 18 strike. A Syrian military official declared on state media:

This brazen attack by the so-called international coalition exposes the falseness of its claims to be fighting terrorism.

The Syrian government said “a number of people” were killed, and equipment including a tank and a bulldozer were struck. Pres Assad called the attack “a breach of Syrian sovereignty,” and Russia’s deputy foreign minister said it was “completely unacceptable.” Yet the apparent presupposition shared and spread by corporate media is that Syria now belongs to Pindostan, and Pindostan can do whatever it wants in the country without anyone questioning it, especially not media outlets, which have been bending over backward to defend Pindo actions. The May 18 air raid at the town of al-Tanf is only the latest in a string of attacks that have steadily been growing under Trump. Pindostan has not officially declared war in Syria, although for more than 1,000 days it has waged thousands of airstrikes in the country, most of which have targeted Daesh. Thousands of civilians have been killed in the Pindo air campaign, which began in Sep 2014. Even the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is frequently cited by media as an impartial observer, even though it until recently had the Syrian opposition flag openly at the top of its website and consists essentially of one man in England, has acknowledged the massive civilian casualties. In the month from mid-April to mid-May alone, at least 225 civilians were killed in Pindo-led air strikes in Syria, including 44 children and 36 women, according to the Observatory. From February to March, another 220 civilians were killed. The bombing campaign against Daesh has killed many civilians in Iraq as well as Syria. FAIR has previously detailed how media outlets have whitewashed and downplayed Pindo complicity in the deaths of hundreds of civilians in Mosul. Media should be asking critical questions about Pindo military intervention in Syria and beyond. Instead, they are downplaying Pindo involvement and relaying Pentagon press releases.

Jihad 2.0: The Making of the Next Nightmare
Pepe Escobar, Counterpunch, Jun 2 2017

Let’s start with 28 EU leaders discussing the Western Balkans at a recent summit and blaming “Russian aggression” in the EU’s backyard. Cue to a Montenegro prosecutor raging that “Russian state bodies” staged a coup attempt during the Oct 2016 elections to stop the country from joining NATO. And cue to President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker warning that Donald Trump’s anti-EU rhetoric could lead to war in the Balkans. Juncker, condescending as ever, maintains:

If we leave them to themselves, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Serbska, Macedonia, Albania, all of these countries, we will have a war again.

The Balkans may be about to explode all over again, yet with a twist. Unlike 1999, NATO won’t get away with bombing a defenseless Belgrade for 78 days. A new generation of Russian missiles would easily prevent it. The 1999 tragedy in the Balkans was essentially stirred up by fake massacres in Kosovo set up by the BND, using local Albanians and agents provocateurs who shot both sides to stir up a war and break up Yugoslavia. What’s evolving at the current geopolitical juncture is even murkier. The usual suspects do what they usually do; blame Russia, and damn any evidence. So let a knowledgeable insider, Dr Olsi Jazexhi, director of the Free Media Institute in Tirana, Albania, be our guide. In Dec 2016, DCI Brennan went to Albania and issued a fatwa for “war against Russia,” especially in Macedonia. As Dr Jazexhi explains:

After Brennan left, PM Edi Rama of Albania, a close friend of George Soros, gathered all Albanian political parties in Macedonia and ordered them to support Zoran Zaev against Nikola Gruevski. Gruevski is seen as philo-Russian and anti-NATO, while Zaev is a lapdog of Soros. As a result, Gruevski was boycotted by Albanians and Zaev had their support to form a government. The promise of Zaev to Albanians is that Macedonia will adapt Albanian as an official language and create a third (half) Albanian state in the Balkans. Macedonians are resisting, but Tirana and Edi Rama are orchestrating Albanian political parties against Gruevski. The end game is to make Macedonia a NATO member. Hashim Thaci is building an army for Kosovo. The final aim is to integrate Kosovo into NATO, even though Serbia rejects this for its former autonomous province. In Albania, we have two major terrorist organizations being protected by the Pindosis and the Europeans. Turkey is protesting why Albania hosts the FETO group, but the Pindosis host them against Erdogan. Also, Albania is being turned into the center of MKO. John Bolton was recently in Tirana, with other international supporters of MKO, and they are attacking Iran and calling for regime change. The MKO’s Mariam Rajavi also visited Tirana, determined to topple the Ayatollahs. After turning the Balkans into a recruiting center for Daesh during the Syria war, now the Pindosis are turning Albania into a Jihad 2.0 state. It’s the same historical mistake as made by the Albanians of Kosovo, who have 100% linked their future with Camp Bondsteel and would will be instantly re-invaded by Serbia in case NATO & Pindostan leave, which they will sooner or later inevitably do. Meanwhile, the EU and Pindostan, who want to de-radicalize the Wahhabi Muslims of Europe, keep mum about the Iranian Jihadis.

So the key piece of the puzzle is the configuration of Albania as the center of Jihad 2.0 against the Slavs in Macedonia, against Tehran, and also against Ankara. No wonder the chief adviser of the Albanian government, until a few months ago, was a certain Tony Blair. But then there is the “invisible” enemy that really matters. In late March, Serbian Pres Nikolic went to Beijing in his last official visit before the Apr 2 elections. Chinese Pres Xi Jinping stressed that economic cooperation with Serbia and the Balkans at large is a priority for China. No question. In 2014, Beijing created a fund that will invest €10b in Central and Eastern Europe. Last year, China Everbright bought Tirana’s airport in Albania. China Exim Bank is financing highway construction in both Macedonia and Montenegro. In Serbia, China Road and Bridge Corporation built the €170m Pupin bridge over the Danube in Belgrade, the “Sino-Serbian Friendship Bridge” inaugurated in 2014 and 85% financed by a China Exim Bank loan. And the cherry in the (infrastructure development) cake is the 350 km $2.89b high-speed rail line between Athens and Budapest, via Macedonia and Belgrade. The EU has set off alarm bells on the flagship $1.8b Budapest-Belgrade stretch, investigating whether the Hungarian section violated strict EU laws according to which public tenders are a must for large transportation projects. Inbuilt is the proverbial Western haughtiness, ruling that the Chinese could not possibly be capable of building high-speed rail infrastructure as well if not better and for a lower cost than in Europe. Budapest-Belgrade happens to be the crucial stretch of the Land Sea Express Route that Beijing pledged to build, way back in 2014, with Hungary, Serbia and Macedonia. That’s the crux of the Southeastern Europe node of the New Silk Road (or Belt and Road Initiative), a trade corridor between the container port of Pireus on the Mediterranean, co-owned by China Ocean Shipping Company since 2010, all the way to Central Europe. NATO’s official spin is that it must be planted in the Balkans to fight the “threat of terrorism.” According to NATO Sec-Gen Stoltenberg:

I recently visited Bosnia Herzegovina and Kosovo, and I’m encouraged to see how focused they are on countering the threat of foreign fighters.

The “foreign fighters” happen to be right at home, not only in Kosovo but soon in Albania, the capital of Jihad 2.0. NATO after all excels in creating emerging “threats” that are essential to justify its existence. Jihad 2.0 may be directed against Slavs in Macedonia, against Iran and against Turkey. Not to mention against the Russian underbelly. The invisible angle is that they can always be deployed to jeopardize China’s drive to integrate southeast Europe as a key node of the New Silk Roads.

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