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it was absolutely the middle of the night almost everywhere when I wrote this, but I have updated it

This story has not been edited and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed, more or less – RB

Russia Keeps On Bombing Despite Truce, Bashar Vows To Fight On
Thomson Reuters, Feb 13 2016

MUNICH – Despite agreement on Friday to a pause in combat in Syria, Russia pressed on with bombing in support of Pres Assad, who vowed to fight on until he regained full control of the country. The “cessation of hostilities” agreement does not take effect for a week, at a time when Assad’s government is poised to win its biggest victory of the war with the backing of Russian air power. If implemented, the deal would allow humanitarian aid to reach besieged towns. It was described as a rare diplomatic success, but several Western countries said there was no hope for progress without a halt to the Russian bombing, which has decisively turned the balance of power in favour of Assad. Jackass Kerry said that if the peace plan fails, more foreign troops could enter the conflict. He told Dubai-based Orient TV (This is absolutely typical of the sententious, moralizing way they talk, generating imaginary oughts and oughtn’ts out of their own self-interested policies and enunciating them as if they were universal moral truths handed down by some fifth-dimensional lizard from Mount Sinai – RB):

If the Assad regime does not live up to its responsibilities, and if the Iranians and the Russians do not hold Assad to the promises that they have made … then the international community obviously is not going to sit there like fools and watch this: there will be an increase of activity, to put greater pressure on them, (and) there is a possibility there will be additional ground troops.

Obama has ruled out sending Pindo ground troops to Syria, but the Toads this month offered ground forces ‘to fight ISIS’ (of course, what else? – RB). White House spox E Schultz called the agreement “an important step” but added (exactly the same moralizing bollocks – RB):

In the coming days, we will be looking for actions not words, to demonstrate that all parties are prepared to honour their commitments.

Rebels said the town of Tal Rifaat in northern Aleppo province was the target of intensive bombing by Russian planes on Friday morning. The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said warplanes believed to be Russian also attacked towns in northern Homs. AFP quoted Assad as saying he would continue to fight terrorism while talks took place. He said he would retake the entire country, although this could take a long time. Another week of fighting would will give Syria’s government and its Russian, Lebanese and Iranian allies time to press on with the encirclement of Aleppo, which they are now on the verge of capturing. They are also close to sealing the Turkish border, a lifeline of rebel territory for years. Those two victories would reverse years of insurgent gains, effectively ending the rebels’ hopes of dislodging Assad. The cessation of hostilities agreement falls short of a formal ceasefire, since it was not signed by the main warring parties, the opposition and government forces. Russia has suggested it might not stop its air strikes even when the cessation of hostilities takes effect in a week’s time. Sergei Lavrov said Russia would not stop bombing ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, neither of which were covered by the cessation deal. He said:

Our airspace forces will continue working against these organisations.

Moscow has always said that these are the principal targets of its air campaign. Western countries say Russia has been attacking mostly other insurgent groups. Turkey’s foreign minister said on Friday Russia was targeting schools and hospitals. NATO Sec-Gen Stoltenberg said Moscow must halt strikes on insurgents other than ISIS for any peace deal to work. He said:

Russia has mainly targeted opposition groups and not ISIS. Air strikes of Russian planes against different opposition groups in Syria have actually undermined the efforts to reach a negotiated, peaceful solution.

Britain and France said a peace deal could be reached only if Russia stops bombing insurgents other than ISIS. Ashtray Carter said on Friday he expected the Toads and the UAE to send commandos to help recapture Raqqa from ISIS. Assad said he believed the Toads & Turks were planning to invade his country. Russia has said that the entry of Toad ground troops would make the war last forever. The Toad foreign minister said in an interview with a German newspaper published on Saturday that Russia’s military interventions will not help Assad stay in power. He said flatly:

There will be no Bashar al-Assad in the future.

Jackass started the Munich talks by pushing for a rapid halt to fighting, with Western boxtops saying Moscow was holding out for a delay. The tactic of agreeing to a break in hostilities while battling for gains on the ground is one Moscow’s allies used in eastern Ukraine only a year ago. A ceasefire there eventually took hold, but Russian-backed separatists overran a besieged town after the deal was reached. Boxtops from countries backing the plan met on Friday to discuss sending urgent humanitarian aid. Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, chaired the meeting in Geneva. He said:

Convoys can go very soon, if and when we have the permission and the green light from the parties.

The Winner
El Murid, Feb 12 2016 15:44 MSK

The Pindosis have figured out (вчухали) how to manage temperamental (закуклившимися) Russian rulers: banal flattery. You need to praise them and call them great where they do something in the interests of Pindostan. The bloated feelings of self-importance and the green toad is the best object for manipulating. This is nothing new, the Pindosis did not invent it: flattery works great against the nobodies, and in regard to the father of the nation, these guys figured that out. Methods like in the Bantustan. Comrade Molotov, it seems, expressed himself like this: “If our enemies criticize us, it means we are doing something right.” The current rulers are not worth the little finger of the former Titans, so here Pindostan has room for any activity. In principle, it seems that the situation in Syria is similar to the end of the summer of 2014 in the Donbass. Now Aleppo will be playing the role of Mariupol. Not far away (in the near future lies Syria’s equivalent of) Minsk-1, the withdrawal of weapons with a caliber of over 100 mm, and general hide-and-seek (смотрим туда – видим здесь). For completeness, instead of Assad, the Kremlin needs to install some local bandits or strongmen as bosses of certain areas of the Syrian Arab Republic, and they can end the balagan (this word is too good to discard: it means farce, chaos, political knockabout, comic and perhaps tragic disorder in the state, something the Jews are good at causing – RB). Well, not immediately; there will be more Syrian Debaltsevos first, but then definitely a new development, all of it according to the script, and all of it will be a victory. McFaul will write a couple of tweets for the viewing pleasure of the Papuans. It isn’t hard to do (ему несложно).

Preparations for the truce
El Murid, Feb 13 2016 14:11 MSK

The ceasefire declared in Syria looks downright strange: with those you can fight, but with these we shall talk. It is not surprising that Jackass and Lavrov needed all their diplomatic skills to make more or less clear statements out of this. Meanwhile, it is possible to say that the truce in one week, the immediate surrender of (the Russian demand that it start on) Mar 1, suggests very strongly that the Kremlin is really afraid of blackmail. A rather nervous Medvedev told the Germans of the likelihood of global war if the truce will not happen, which indicates the uncertainty of the Russian leadership. No one offers to laugh at our Iskanders and their role in the joke. Once blackmail has been attempted, the result shows who is worth what. The main thing has already happened: Moscow has demonstrated a willingness to bend. In this case, the TV no longer plays any role. It is only useful for brainwashing the electorate, but the leaders our rulers need to look at the realities. The Toads & Turks withdraw their decision to start a ground operation (maybe – RB). The British refused to answer questions about the ‘exercises’ (RB) they are currently carrying out in Jordan. Turkey today stated that Toad aircraft have arrived at the Turkish base (Incirlik – RB) ‘to fight ISIL’ (El Murid’s sneer quotes – RB). Russia has already demonstrated that it is possible to target ISIS with 20% or so of its strikes, and the various pro-Western terrorists with the remaining 80%. It is easy to assume that the Toads & Turks also can take the Pareto Principle as the basis of their actions. That is, they do some photo-ops of ‘bombing ISIS’, then drop the rest of their bombs on the Syrians and the mercenaries. You need to consider that the operation around Aleppo is in general mainly by mercenaries or “paramilitaries.” The strike force created for the attack on this site is composed of Hazaras and Iranians. Further bombing of ISIS will be particularly scrutinized, while there is no indication that it’s over. While it is possible to say that the Kremlin gave in to the blackmail, which in itself is extremely dangerous. Now we need to wait for new ultimatums and possibly action.

But the main thing is if the Turks & Toads finally launch their actions in Syria, even the tentative plans of the Kremlin to force the West to negotiate on Syria under Russian conditions, can be safely scrapped (смело ставить крест). The problem will not be how to divide up Syria, but how to avoid getting kicked out altogether (а как унести ноги). I have repeatedly seen analysis of the probable collision scenarios of Russia and Turkey. All are completely stupid, like “But we would want Topol-M,” until (someone has yet to make) quite professional comparison of the combat capabilities of the navies and ground forces. They are all (guilty of) one sin: (they imagine that) there will be no full-scale confrontations with Turkey; either the Kremlin finally will break the thread, or in Syria will be some “Black Swan” character analogous to Strelkov in the Donbass, which will break all advance plans for an amicable get-together. But where is Syria, where the Donbass? All the evidence suggests that the Turks & Toads intend to act solely on Syrian territory, which means no naval battles, no tank wedges, everything will be decided on the level of tactics. And the Syrian theatre for us is definitely losing, is not the slightest chance of (winning). Too small group, too vulnerable supply lines. Plus Turkey to speak about the introduction of a no-fly zone without prior arrangement over all of Syria in the event of the operation. After the Turks had shot down our plane, there is no reason to doubt in their words, just as there is no doubt in our answer: all we can do is to (stop the import of) Turkish tomatoes, the Kremlin is too weak for anything more muscular than that. These are the actions of the parties, and they should be considered in any collision scenarios. A Topol-M or a fleet are out of the question. At least for our tall-fur-hatted one (Senka Shapka, Сеньке шапка, presumably Putin as usual – RB). To steal something or quietly shit under the door, yes, it is safe to turn to that. But seriously, you can safely ignore the Kremlin. Not publicly, (but privately, now) she would do anything. After the meeting of our Patriarch and the Pope, I wouldn’t be surprised if our Orthodox (Christians) awoke one fine morning to find themselves Catholics. That would please the West.

The truce in Syria or successful blackmail
Anatoly Nesmiyan (El Murid, Fontanka, Feb 13 2016

The sequence of events also gives no reason for optimism. The impetus for them was the establishment of the blockade of Aleppo from the north after Syrian troops (or rather, the “paramilitary” groups of Hazaras, Iranians and Iraqis) were able to sever the supply corridor and cut off the city from the Turkish border. Turkey rejected all the conventions and began to prepare for the invasion of Syria. Turkish cooking was supported by Toads and the “Islamic coalition.” Preparations of the Turks & Toads for the first time did not look like a bluff, began to outline the contours of the invasion. Against this background, the Russian leadership openly flinched and offered a truce starting Mar 1, which was immediately rejected. The meeting between Lavrov and Jackass concluded by moving forward the start of the truce. It should start in a week. However, it is not clear what is meant by a truce: fighting will continue against ISIS and Nusra. How to distinguish the fighters from one gang from those of another is unclear. Turkey, realizing that Russia faltered, put forward a direct ultimatum: in her opinion, a truce means a cessation of bombing of the entire “moderate opposition” and therefore the attack on Aleppo should be shuttered permanently. To occupy a city of half a million without aircraft, using ground-based “paramilitary” groups alone, is an almost impossible task, especially because the blockade is not yet completed finally. In general, the war in Syria more and more becomes one of the most unsuccessful wars in Russia’s history. Unclear goals and objectives from the start were not given the opportunity to understand what will be considered victory, and what is not. Bomb the villages, barns and carts, pretending them to be strategic goals and the fight against terrorism, only on TV. In TV can tell you about thousands and tens of thousands fleeing militants and other this-time raspberries (разлюли малину). In reality, after four months, the Syrian offensive remains so far unable to recapture the territories lost in the spring offensive of 2015. At that time, Assad lost the province of Idlib completely. There is no question of a general Idlib offensive to take it back.

(Despite some) tactical successes, none of the operational tasks of the Syrians have been achieved. They have not taken control of the border with Turkey, (though) troops destroyed some Jihadis in the north. In such circumstances, to fight with ISIS is meaningless: to create a strike force for war with ISIS is impossible without freeing the army from fighting with “moderates.” The truce means that the military objectives of the offensive are not attained, so accordingly there is nothing to negotiate about. Negotiations make sense either from a position of strength, or exhaustion of the parties. Without solving military tasks, to talk about the position of strength is not possible. The Jihadis also do not look exhausted, whatever is said on TV. Every step of the Syrians is made with great difficulty. The truce itself in such conditions looks like a collapse of all previous plans. It is really beginning to look like the memorable “Annan plan” of 2012, by which the West saved the militants in Homs, and allowed the summer offensive on Damascus and Aleppo to begin. This is very reminiscent of the halting of the militia of Donbass in the summer of 2014, when the defeated AFU were saved by the Minsk process, and today the rebuilt Ukrainian army is hanging over the Donbass, Crimea and Transnistria. The main thing is that the truce in the background of the actual ultimatum by the Turks & Toads looks like a “surrender” to blackmail by our adversaries, and it is the most dangerous (behaviour possible), as a successful blackmail will be repeated again and again. By the way, this is not a theory. In practice, the Toads have already started the deployment of ground forces and aviation at the Turkish base. Announced today. Grouping of Toad military in Jordan also hangs over the southern border of Syria. Jackass Kerry today stated that the Syrians have lost the opportunity to negotiate. The pressure will not go away, it grows. Blackmail, once acceded to, will continue indefinitely.

the absolutely inside-out contortions of these propagandists who just as in syria declare an elected government redundant and set about ousting it, without regard to any sort of legality whatsoever

Venezuela leader gets emergency powers, rivals vow ouster
Maria Isabel Sanchez, AFP, Feb 12 2016

CARACAS – Venezuela’s opposition on Friday vowed to speed up efforts to oust Pres Maduro after he defied them by securing emergency powers to intervene in the crisis-hit oil state’s economy. The maneuvers intensified a political standoff that has raised fears of who knows what. The Supreme Court on Thursday overruled the National Assembly by approving Maduro’s decree to place the country in a 60-day state of economic emergency. Maduro’s decree gives his administration special temporary powers to take over private companies’ resources and impose currency controls among other measures. The opposition reacted with outrage, accusing Maduro of expanding economic policies that they say are ruining the country. Henry Ramos, the opposition leader of the National Assembly, told a news conference Friday:

In the next few days, we will have to present a concrete proposal for the departure of that national disgrace that is the government.

In response Maduro told sympathizers in Caracas:

(Let us) not underestimate the threats Henry Ramos made today against peace and stability of the Republic. The Supreme Court of Justice has spoken, its word is holy and must be respected by all parts of society and all institutions.

Ramos and other leaders in the opposition MUD coalition had promised to devise a way to oust Maduro within six months, possibly through a new constitution or a referendum, before his current mandate expires in 2019. Ramos said Friday:

Nobody doubts now that that six-month time-frame is too long.

It was not clear however how they proposed to overcome resistance from the court, which they said was packed with Maduro’s supporters. Henrique Capriles, another major opposition boxtop, said Friday:

I expected the court would overrule a constitutional amendment against Maduro and that a referendum would be better. Certainly there are obstacles to a referendum. The electoral authorities in charge of such a vote are under Maduro’s influence. But the moment has come. This government does not want to change anything, and every day the situation gets worse.

Pindostan, which Maduro has accused of interfering in Venezuela’s affairs, expressed dismay at the court ruling. Pindo Asst Sec State for Jewish Affairs in the Western Hemisphere, Roberta Jacobson, wrote on Twitter:

I am dismayed Venezuela Supreme Court is interfering with National Assembly. Separation of powers and democratic process must be respected.

Because of the fact that it has the largest known oil reserves in the world, Venezuela is under perpetual acute financial attack by Pindostan and its vassals, and indeed by the entire Global ZOG. Citizens are suffering shortages of basics. Inflation is higher than 140%, according to the government’s latest estimate. Orien Amundarain, a teacher in Caracas, said:

We are not going to get our breakfast, lunch and dinner through laws. This argument about who is right or wrong will not get us anywhere.

Maduro has admitted Venezuela is in a catastrophic economic state, but says his emergency plan will allow the government to shore up its health, housing, education and food services. The political stand-off threatens to worsen the hardship that drove voters to hand the opposition a landslide election victory in December. Asdrubal Oliveros aka Ecoanalitica says:

The problem Venezuela has is that it lacks a mediator to settle the conflict of power, which complicates the situation even further.

Boxtops have warned of the risk of a repeat of violent street clashes that left 43 people dead in 2014. In a worsening recession, Venezuela has been seized by a political deadlock since the opposition took majority control of the assembly in early January. Maduro has chipped away at that majority through challenges in the Supreme Court. Ramos on Friday accused the government of “doing all it can to provoke a coup,” but insisted the opposition would only oust him by constitutional means.

the jpost’s sam sokol actually collects these things, the orgs send them to him

Spanish cartoon shows Israeli soldiers molesting Jesus, urinating on Plastelinans
Sam Sokol, JPost, Feb 12 2016

ktys

The Spanish Jewish community is threatening legal action for a Nazi-style cartoon published by a Barcelona- based satirical magazine portraying hook-nosed IOF goons urinating on Plastelinans and physically abusing Jesus. In the most recent issue of the popular left-wing El Jueves, a publication similar in many respects to Charlie Hebdo, illustrator Julio Serrano harshly criticizes the (so-called) Jewish state, including allegations that the Israel Museum in Jayloomia preserves a Torah scroll wrapped in “the skin of my holy testicles” and that any Jew who marries an Arab is stripped of his citizenship and expelled. David Hatchwell, the head of the Jewish community of Madrid, told the JPost on Thursday:

This is absolutely outrageous and obviously we are going to be seeking legal remedies. While magazines lambasting religion and politics in an irreverent style are fine, (this is an) absolutely unacceptable, anti-Semitic attack and slanders against the Jewish people. This could be taken from the Nazis’ Der Stürmer and nobody would notice the difference.

He was referring specifically to El Jueves’s portrayal of Jews as having long hooked noses and seeking to dominate their gentile neighbours. In one panel an Israeli soldier, wearing what appears to be a German-style helmet, can be seen holding his genitals in his hands as he urinates on a cowering Arab and cries out:

You don’t understand, Plastelinan! My grandparents were in a concentration camp!

Serrano wrote in the magazine:

Okay, the Holocaust was horrible and resulted in the creation of the State of Israel so that the Jews could live in peace, but that doesn’t give you the right to hassle the non-Jewish people who live there. Israel is like the child who watched in horror as his father beat his mother, and now as an adult he beats his wife. Under Israeli law, Jews have preferential treatment as regards education, health, homes and work, and if you are not Jewish in the State of Israel, you are fucked.

Regarding politics in Israel, Serrano wrote:

The Jews have it all tied up. Non-Zionist parties are banned, so let’s forget about the cannabis party.

Another illustration showed an IOF goon kicking an Arab woman and a Jew in ultra-orthodox garb. Explaining that Israel constitutes “Apartheid 2.0” and adding a picture of a long-nosed Jew pushing a beaten Jesus next to a checkpoint, the illustrator averred:

No Israeli can marry a Plastelinan. (Should) such a union take place, the Israeli loses his citizenship and is obliged to emigrate. The Plastelinans are forced to use secondary roads, which are studded with checkpoints at which IOF goons exercise an iron control over the movements of those who are not Jews. There is no real protocol of behaviour, and the soldiers do whatever they want with the Plastelinans. They can forbid them from passing, detain them, take their things away and worse. It has been calculated that every Plastelinan spends some four hours a day stopped at these controls.

Hatchwell responded:

These are lies, totally non-factual, and it’s done in a sophisticated enough way that people who know nothing about the conflict will think that Israelis are Nazi-like oppressors, and it affirms every myth in Europe for thousands of years. (This) pure anti-Semitism (should be) anathema to the values of modern Spain.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center issued a statement to the JPost, calling the cartoons “classic anti-Semitism camouflaged as ostensibly legitimate criticism of Israeli policies.”

those damn russkies! they think they’re CIA or something

Russia forging alliance with Taliban
James Kitfield, Yahoo ‘News’, Feb 12 2016

a04846a0-d1c2-11e5-a5c6-417d9741e3fb_russia_taliban_160212A representation of the inside of the author’s brain – RB

The Taliban’s capture of the Kunduz last September was shocking. Their first seizure of a major city in nearly 15 years of fighting suggested unexpected boldness on the part of new leader Mullah Akhtar Mansur, and badly rattled the Afghan public’s faith in their Pindo-trained security forces. A few weeks after the Taliban offensive, Obama publicly announced a dramatic slowing in the withdrawal of Pindo forces, and new plans to keep at least 5,500 troops in Afghanistan into 2017, abandoning hope of bringing troops home before leaving office (his main election pledge – RB). Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the Taliban offensive in Kunduz was its location. The Taliban are from the Pashtun tribe, and their traditional strongholds are in the south and east. Kunduz Province is a region near the northern border with Tajikistan that is made up primarily of Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazaras and Turkmen, along with some Pashtuns, and it is part of the home turf of the Taliban’s natural enemies in the former Northern Alliance. Pindo boxtops looking for answers to that puzzle have found evidence of the most shocking aspect of the Kunduz offensive by far: Russia’s training, arming and support of elements of the Afghan Taliban, in many cases members or descendants of members of the Afghan Mujahidin. A knowledgeable boxtop said:

With the Taliban intensifying their attacks and making advances in recent years, Russian intelligence has been reaching out to the group and renewing their contacts from the days in the 1980s when they worked with the Afghan communists. When ISIS emerged in Afghanistan last year, the Russians stepped up that outreach, alarmed that many of the ISIS fighters were Chechens recruited from Russia’s Caucasus region. The Taliban remain focused on Afghanistan, and view ISIS leaders and foreign fighters as intruders. ISIS, by contrast, has (supposedly, of course – RB) adopted AQ’s ambitions of a global Jihad against nonbelievers. The Russians provided money and weapons to the Afghan Taliban to fight ISIS, and are providing training camps for the Taliban in Tajikistan, where Moscow retains a lot of influence. (We’ve seen) Taliban fighters brandishing new AK-47 rifles with synthetic stocks made only in Russia, as well as new Russian PK machine guns and RPGs. We’re 100% sure that Russia is supporting certain elements of the Afghan Taliban, and we believe they are encouraging the group to operate along the northern border where they are easy to resupply from Tajikistan, and can act as a buffer against ISIS.

A de facto alliance between Russia and Islamist extremists who are fighting Pindostans and NATO in Afghanistan, and who are in many cases the sons of Afghan Mujahedin whom Pindostan once armed and supported in their fight against the Soviet Army, is likely viewed as payback in the Kremlin. The long war and defeat of the Soviets in Afghanistan helped pave the way for the collapse of the Soviet Union, which Putin once described as “a major geopolitical disaster of the century.” On Dec 31 2015, Putin signed a new Russian national security strategy that for the first time unequivocally identifies NATO as a threat. Dmitri Simes, a real old anti-Soviet warhorse from somewhere inside the jungle of Beltway warriors, told Yahoo News:

The fact that Moscow has publicly identified NATO and Pindostan as its enemy in a strategic document represents a big shift in thinking, and what that means practically is more initiatives like Russia’s support for the Taliban, which I have on good authority is real. Russia will still cooperate with Pindostan if both countries interests align, but the two antagonists are back to the kind of zero-sum mindset that prevailed during the Cold War. When the Russians can poke a stick in the eye of Pindostan and NATO, and the costs aren’t perceived as too high, they will do so because frankly it makes them feel good. From Moscow’s perspective, its support for the Taliban is no different than Pindo support for rebels fighting their close ally Assad in Syria, or arming and training Ukrainian troops who are fighting Russian-backed rebels in eastern Ukraine. If those are the rules that Pindostan wants to go by, Russia is showing that they can play that game.

An important and brightly coloured boxtop contacted for this article said that the Pindo intelligence community is aware that Russia is concerned about the stability of Afghanistan, and reaching out to many players there, and that may include elements of the Taliban. In Feby 9 testimony before the Senate, DNI Clapper referred obliquely to that Russian outreach, saying:

Central Asian states remain concerned about the rising threat of extremism to the stability of their countries, particularly in light of a reduced Coalition presence in Afghanistan. Russia shares these concerns and is likely to use the threat of instability in Afghanistan to increase its involvement in Central Asian security affairs.

By most accounts, the Russians began their outreach to the Taliban in earnest after the establishment of the 2016 deadline for NATO’s planned exit from Afghanistan. The point man in the outreach is reportedly Russia’s envoy to Afghanistan, Zamir Kabulov, who was the KGB’s top-ranking officer in Kabul during the Soviet Army’s 1980s war against the Mujahidin. Zabuluv negotiated with Mullah Omar and his top lieutenants in the mid-1990s, after they captured a Russian aircraft and took seven Russians hostage. Russia’s contacts with the Taliban intensified last year, when ISIS began making inroads in Afghanistan. The UN estimates that ISIS now has a presence in 25 out of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, and Pindo commanders estimate that it has between one thousand and three thousand fighters in the country, many of them recruited from Taliban ranks after the group began splintering following last year’s announcement of the death of Mullah Omar. The international scope of ISIS is of great concern to Moscow, which estimates that some 2,400 extremists from the Caucasus have joined it. In January, Kabulov conceded the unlikely alliance with Islamist extremists in remarks he made to the Independent. He said:

Taliban interests objectively coincide with ours. Both the Afghan and Pakistani Taliban have said they don’t recognize ISIS. … That is very important. ISIS is undoubtedly training militants from Russia in Afghanistan as part of its plans to expand into Central Asia. We have communications channels with the Taliban to exchange information.

The alliance reportedly moved well beyond just intelligence-sharing last May when a Taliban delegation visited the Tajik capital of Dushanbe. In exchange for releasing four Tajik border guards it had captured, the Taliban reportedly received a large cache of Russian weaponry. Such transactions are the basis for numerous tactical alliances in war-torn Afghanistan. The Daily Beast quoted a Taliban sub-commander in Kunduz named Qari Omar as saying:

Of course the weapons we got freshly from the Afghan-Tajik border played a key role in the fight for Kunduz.

Pindo boxtops say Russia is also hedging its bets. A knowledgeable boxtop reports that Moscow has reached out to senior generals in the Afghan security forces and regional Afghan governors, offering to also put them on its payroll. Last October, Afghan Vice Pres Dostum, an Uzbek warlord and long-time adversary of the Taliban, was warmly received in Moscow, where he also sought pledges of arms and money. While reaching out to numerous and sometimes competing players in Afghanistan in hopes of gaining influence with an eventual winner, Russia also increasingly seems intent on pushing its newly-declared enemy NATO away from its neighbourhood. A great big boxtop with full colour inserts told us:

I don’t buy the argument that Russia’s alliance with the Taliban is only driven by its concerns about ISIS. Moscow doesn’t want NATO and Pindostan anywhere near its southern border, nor a pro-Pindosi Afghan government in charge in Kabul, and they are thus finding common cause with the Taliban and others trying to push us and our allies from power. It’s classic Putin.

With a war-weary Pindostan and its presumed or supposed NATO vassals eyeing the exit doors in Afghanistan, and ISIS gaining a foothold, such “enemy of my enemy is my friend” calculations are sure to increase, accruing in many cases to the benefit of the Taliban. Multiple boxtops tell Yahoo News that Iran has also offered to support Taliban factions, an unusual development in that obviously they are sworn enemies and so on. But in the wild fantasy of the forest or ‘wilderness of boxtops’ as it is known, nothing is impossible. Milt Bearden, the former CIA station chief in Islamabad in the 1980s, opined that having already been badly burnt in its decade-long occupation of Afghanistan, Moscow seems to have taken that lesson in proxy warfare to heart. He said:

We Pindosis are always naively looking for so-called moderates in white hats to support in these conflicts, but unless we want to keep 5,000 troops in Afghanistan for the next 5,000 years, we should also reach out to the people who are going to stick around. If I were sitting in the Kremlin and worried that ISIS is gaining strength near my soft underbelly of the Caucasus, I wouldn’t look to Pindostan and the Afghan army to take care of my problem. I’d probably reach out to the Taliban to help beat them back.

this is being tucked away inside other stories as though it did not alter the authors’ indignation of the idea of the defenders of syria re-arming as well

Rebels say get more missiles from Assad’s enemies
Tom Perry, Reuters, Feb 12 2016

I found this illustration, to show that the truck mounting is not so fancy – RB
122mm-rocket_001

BEIRUT – Pres Assad’s foreign enemies have sent rebels new supplies of ground-to-ground missiles to confront a Russian-backed offensive by the government near Aleppo, two rebel commanders told Reuters. They said that missiles with a range of 20 km (that means Grads, though conceivably not truck-mounted – RB) had been provided in “excellent quantities” in response to the attack that has cut rebel supply lines from the Turkish border to opposition-held parts of the city of Aleppo. One of the commanders said:

It is excellent additional firepower for us.

The other said:

The missiles are being used to hit army positions beyond the front line. They give the factions longer reach.

Assad’s enemies have been supplying ‘vetted’ (RB) rebel groups with weapons via a Turkey-based operations center. Some of the ‘vetted’ groups have received military training overseen by the CIA. The Syrian government says it aims to seal the border to cut rebel supply routes from Turkey. While the Grad missiles (sic – RB) fall short of the rebels’ demands for anti-aircraft systems, one of the commanders said they had “a significant impact on the army’s rear positions.”

maybe this is not another 27 so-called “militants”, but the same 27 from before

Turkish military says killed 27 “PKK militants” in south-east
Daren Butler, Reuters, Feb 12 2016

ISTANBUL – Turkish military have killed 27 “PKK militants” in the mainly Kurdish south-east, the army said on Friday, a day after the interior minister said army operations had finished in the town of Cizre. The army said 16 “PKK fighters” had been killed in Cizre. It said it had retrieved the bodies of another 24 “PKK militants” killed earlier, along with rifles, machines guns and rocket launchers. Another five “PKK guerrillas” were killed on Thursday in the Sur district of Diyarbakir, and six more in Hakkari province, near the Iraqi border, said the army. Interior Minister Efkan Ala had said the day before that the army had completed their operations against “PKK militants” in Cizre, after weeks of fighting, raising hopes that the lockdown placed on Cizre and Sur in Dec 2015 could be lifted. More than 800 “PKK militants” have been killed in Cizre and Sur, the army said. The opposition HDP Party says 128 civilians have been killed during the curfews, which were imposed in a bid to root out “PKK militants” who had dug trenches and erected barricades. The violence forced thousands of local residents to flee. A ceasefire with the PKK collapsed in July, wrecking a 30-month peace process. About 40,000 people, mainly Kurds, have died since the PKK took up arms in 1984.

one certainly does not want to burden one’s page with op-eds by david ignatius & dennis ross, so this is ideal

Why Are Neocons So Desperate To Rescue AQ in Syria?
Daniel McAdams, Ron Paul Institute, Feb 12 2016

Reading Dennis Ross and David Ignatius is a good reminder that the neocons live in a different world than the rest of us. They do not conform their analysis to reality, but rather they conform reality to their view of the world. Where most people would be encouraged to read that Aleppo in Syria was about to be liberated from its 3.5 year occupation by AQ’s Syrian franchise (ie Jabhat al-Nusra, the object of this whole article – RB), the neocons see a disaster. On the brink of AQ’s defeat in Aleppo, the Wa Po’s Ignatius is furious:

President Obama won’t approve military tactics that could actually shift the balance.

Yes, he wants to shift the balance toward AQ, because like the other neocons he is so invested in the idea of regime change in Syria that he would even prefer turning the country into another Libya than to see government forces defeat his Jihadi insurgent buddies. Failing to “shift the balance” toward AQ in Aleppo only brings “greater misery for the Syrian people,” in the world of Ignatius. The WaPo has never seen a potential war it did not want to see turned into an actual war. thinks it a tragedy that the Syrian army’s advance on AQ-occupied Aleppo has “cut off all vital routes of supply from Turkey to the rebel-held areas of the city.” Those would be Turkish supplies in support of AQ and ISIS rebels, but the WaPo is too deceptive to mention that fact. It is as dishonest an inversion of reality as anything printed in Pravda of old.

In the same vein as Ignatius, former Bush/Clinton/Obama Administration Middle East “expert” Dennis Ross writes to tell us “what Putin is really up to in Syria.” In this article the LA Times does not reveal that Ross is hardly an objective observer of the situation, as one of the founders of WINEP and a current counsellor to that organization. Ross strongly supports AIPAC’s position in favour of regime change in Syria and Israel’s active role in assisting the Jihadis in their efforts to overthrow Assad. So what does regime-change neocon Dennis Ross want us to believe is happening in Syria? The Russians, he asserts, are playing a dirty game by stepping up their bombing campaign against ISIS- and AQ-affiliated rebels instead of pushing for a ceasefire. How funny that when the Pindo-, Turk-, Toad- and Israel-backed Jihadis were on the verge of taking over all of Syria not that long ago, there was no talk from neocon quarters about a ceasefire or a negotiated political solution. Only now that AQ’s stronghold in Aleppo is on the verge of liberation by government forces are the neocons screaming that diplomacy should be given a chance. Ross writes:

(Russian operations) are designed to strengthen the Assad regime and weaken the non-ISIS Sunni opposition in different parts of the country.

He doesn’t mention that, particularly when it comes to Aleppo, the “non-ISIS Sunni opposition” means Nusra and other AQ-affiliated forces. By relentlessly bombing ISIS and other Jihadi groups seeking to introduce Sharia law into secular Syria, says Ross:

Putin is … undercutting our aim of isolating ISIS and having Sunnis lead the fight against it.

Read that again. By attacking ISIS he is preventing Pindostan from isolating ISIS. Doublespeak. What is Putin really up to in the world of Dennis Ross? He is not sincere about defeating Islamist extremism in Syria or even helping Assad’s forces win the war. No!

(Putin) aims to demonstrate that Russia and not Pindostan is the main power-broker in the region, and increasingly elsewhere.

Ah yes, the old argument about Russian expansionism. Baltic invasion, restoration of the USSR. All the neocon tripe. And here is where Ross plants his seed, whispering intp the Administration’s neocon-power-brokers’ ears:

Certainly, were Russia’s costs to increase, Putin might look for a way out.

Hmm, now we see what he’s getting at:

(I)t is time we make it clear to the Russians that unless they impose a ceasefire on Assad and Hezbollah and insist that humanitarian corridors are open, we will have no choice but to act with our partners to create a haven in Syria, for refugees and for the organization of the Syrian opposition.

In other words, tell Russia if you do not stop fighting AQ and its affiliates in Syria, we will face off in a WW3-threatening stance to establish a “Jihadistan” in part of Syria from where the hundredth or so version of a rebel fighting force can be re-assembled. Ross’s plan is not for the weak of heart:

(W)e cannot threaten to create a haven without following through if Putin refused to alter his course.

Meaning of course that we must be willing to actually go through with WW3 if Putin does not blink, back down and pull out of Syria, just as Russia’s intervention is meeting its objective. Surrender when on the verge of victory in Syria, or face a nuclear war with Pindostan. No one ever accused the neocons of thinking small. But (even) with much of the Middle East a smouldering ruin due to the disastrous interventions they lied us into, no-one should count out even their most insane-sounding plan being seriously considered somewhere in Washington.

the usual ‘philanthropists’, i suppose we could say

Democrat groups move to ramp up financial firepower for Clinton
Matea Gold, Tom Hamburger, Paul Kane, WaPo, Feb 12 2-16

Two powerful organizations within the Democrat Party establishment announced steps Friday that have the potential to provide substantial financial firepower to Hillary Clinton by drawing on the support of wealthy donors and corporate interests. While providing a likely boost to Clinton, this gives Bernie Sanders fresh fodder to highlight her relationship with Wall Street and other special interests. Priorities Pindostan Action, the main super-PAC supporting Clinton, unleashed a $5m infusion of spending on her behalf, abruptly deciding not to wait until the general election. The move calls attention to growing concern within the party’s leadership that her campaign may be in trouble, and it underscores how crucial several upcoming contests have become in Clinton’s battle with Sanders. In addition, the DNC announced that it had rolled back restrictions first introduced by Obama when he was a candidate in 2008, that banned donations from federal lobbyists and PACs. Both actions offer the potential for financial benefit for Clinton. But both also could backfire. Sanders has gained traction with his core argument that special interests have rigged the economy against the lower and middle classes. Although Clinton has repeatedly denied that she has been influenced by donations or speaking fees from Wall Street, the likely new flow of money to her campaign could add grist to Sanders’s case. As if to prove the point, the Sanders campaign issued a news release Friday with this headline:

Clinton Wall Street-Funded Super-PAC Enters Democratic Primary Against Sanders.

Later in the day, Sanders’s campaign communications director, Michael Briggs, said:

(The DNC decision is) an unfortunate step backward. We support the restrictions that Pres Obama put in place at the DNC, and we hope Sec Clinton will join us in supporting the president.

Sanders has received the vast majority of his funding through online, small-dollar donations. He has said regularly on the campaign trail that the average donation to his campaign is $27. Although Clinton carried a financial advantage for most of the campaign, Sanders has outpaced her in fundraising since the year began. During Thursday night’s PBS debate in Milwaukee, Clinton attempted to distance herself from Priorities Pindostan and the donations it has received from Wall Street players, noting:

It’s not my PAC. It was first started to support Obama’s reelection.

The early engagement by Priorities Pindostan marks the first major infusion of super-PAC money on Clinton’s behalf. The independent committee is spearheading a $4.5m push to drive early turnout of Black, Latino and female voters in March primary states, in partnership with the League of Conservation Voters and Emily’s List. Separately, the super-PAC is spending $500k to launch a radio ad campaign in South Carolina beginning Friday, casting Clinton as the candidate to build on Obama’s legacy. Guy Cecil, chief strategist for Priorities Pindostan, said:

The new ads will solely focus on positive messages about Clinton. The early-vote campaign is an effort that will also pay dividends this fall. It’s very clear for us that Black, Latino and female voters will be important parts of the Clinton coalition, both in the primary and the general election.

The DNC’s decision, meanwhile, was made months ago but announced Friday. It allows the party to collect money from lobbyists and PACs in preparation for the general election, a move that would benefit Clinton if she was the nominee. Sanders has condemned the decision and called on the DNC to reverse it. The 2008 lobbyist ban was a symbolic way for Obama to put his stamp on the party during a campaign in which he promised voters that “we are going to change how Washington works.” At the time, lobbyists complained about the ban and other limitations imposed by the new administration. The only portion of the ban now remaining in place is a rule that lobbyists and PAC reps cannot attend events that feature Obama, Biden or their spouses, according to Mark Paustenbach, deputy communications director for the DNC. Paustenbach said in an email:

The DNC’s recent change in guidelines will ensure that we continue to have the resources and infrastructure in place to best support whoever emerges as our eventual nominee. Electing a Democrat to the White House is vital to building on the progress we’ve made over the last seven years, which has resulted in a record 71 straight months of private-sector job growth and nearly 14 million new jobs.

The decision allows lobbyists and PACs to contribute to the Hillary Victory Fund, a joint fundraising committee between the Clinton campaign and the party that raised $26.7m through the end of 2015. Sanders has set up a similar joint fundraising committee, but Federal Election Commission records show that it has not been active, raising just $1k. Campaign finance reform advocates decried the new DNC policy of accepting money from lobbyists, suggesting that it is a relaxation of ethical standards in place since 2008 and citing contributions already provided to the Hillary Victory Fund. Veteran reform advocate Fred Wertheimer said:

Influence-buying … Six-figure contributions to the Hillary Victory Fund … It is a major step in the wrong direction, and it is completely out of touch with the clear public rejection of the role of political money in Washington.

Wertheimer called on Obama on Friday to reverse the DNC’s decision. White House deputy spox E Schultz said a new set of party leaders will have to make such decisions. Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin emphasized the grass-roots nature of her campaign (of course – RB) and her commitment to campaign finance reform. In an emailed statement Friday, he said:

(The campaign) is driven by the 750,000 people across the country who have contributed, mostly with low dollar donations. Hillary Clinton has fought for campaign finance reform her entire career and, as President, will make it a priority to overturn Citizens United and restore the role of everyday voters in elections.

The DNC’s recent decision to lift the ban on donations from lobbyists and political action committees was confirmed by three Democrat lobbyists who said they had already received solicitations from the committee. The lobbyists said the committee’s decision has been otherwise kept quiet. For the most part, they said, the DNC has returned to business as usual, pre-2008. It has even named a finance director for PAC donations who recently emailed prospective donors to let them know that they can contribute again, according to an email that was reviewed by the WaPo. While Clinton has many small donors, her campaign, her supporting super-PACs and the Hillary Victory Fund also draw from wealthy interests (you don’t say – RB). Several of her biggest backers have given the maximum to the Hillary Victory Fund and also contributed to her allied super-PACs. Among them are George Soros, who has given $7m to Priorities Pindostan, $343k4 to the Hillary Victory Fund and the maximum $2k7 for her primary election campaign. Other donors who gave to all three Clinton-related entities include Haim and Cheryl Saban, who together gave $5m to the super-PAC and $696k8 to the joint committee. Hedge-fund manager Donald Sussman has given $2.5m to the super-PAC so far, and $343k4 to the Hillary Victory Fund. Sanders, who decried the DNC decision to accept lobbying money Friday, has set up a similar joint fundraising committee, but records show that it has not been active, raising a total of just $1k. In recent months, Sanders’s supporters have accused the DNC of trying to prevent more primary debates, in an attempt to tilt the race in Clinton’s direction. Just this week, his backers were enraged that the DNC allowed the senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus to use the committee’s Capitol Hill headquarters to announce that their PAC had endorsed Clinton over Sanders. (In fact, the Caucus has no control over the PAC, and said so – RB).

devious critturs think toads & turks should go in deniably, as it were, without even asking uncle sam’s permission

Critturs sceptical of increased Toad commitment
Karoun Demirjian, WaPo, Feb 12 2016

Some Congress critturs are sceptical of the commitment by the Toads to reinvigorate their air campaign and grow Arab ground forces ‘against ISIS’ in Syria, even after the Toad foreign minister made a series of personal visits on Capitol Hill this week. The Toads said earlier this week that they would be willing to commit ground troops to fighting ISIS. But their promise is contingent on Pindostan increasing its own commitment to send more SOF into Syria. And that has a few critturs wondering if the Toad help will actually materialize. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker responded derisively when asked what he thought of the Toads’ promise to commit troops:

I hear a lot of talk.

Ranking committee member Ben Cardin paused to consider his words when asked the same question, before responding:

We obviously will judge their commitment by what they deliver.

Corker and Cardin are two of about a dozen senators and two members of the House who spoke with the Toad Foreign Minister in Washington during a series of wide-ranging meetings which homed in on the anti-ISIS campaign. That fight has reached a critical juncture, as Pindostan and Russia agreed Thursday to a halt in hostilities on the ground. Jubeir said in an interview this week:

We said that if the Pindo-led coalition is going to send ground troops into Syria, we are prepared to send SOF, so now we are waiting to see what the plan looks like, but we have said yes, we’re prepared to provide SOF as part of the ground operations in Syria.

Pentagon officials were particularly encouraged by the Toad vow. Toad troop commitments are potentially critical to bringing other Arab nations still on the fence on board (sic – RB). In the last several weeks, Russian airstrikes have cut off key opposition supply lines and enabled an advance by pro-government forces, who now have the city of Aleppo under siege. Pindo envoy-to-nothing Brett McGurk told House critturs Wednesday that Russia’s campaign was having “a detrimental effect” on the fight against ISIS. Late Thursday, Pindostan and Russia agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” to get humanitarian aid to besieged areas to begin within the next week. It’s unclear whether allies on the ground will observe it. The announcement came after coalition partner nations gathered in Brussels to hear Ashtray Carter outline the Pindo strategy. Boxtops hoped the nations would agree to enhance their commitment to the cause. But many Congress critturs wondered why the Toads were hinging their resources on Pindostan making the first move. Sen Tim Kaine, who also met with the Toad, said:

I don’t know why Pindostan has to make the first move on the chessboard. Whose region is this? And who has the principal responsibility with it? We want to be partners with nations in the region tackling their own terrorist threat, but the notion they will be producing only if we play the leadership role, it kind of makes me question, how did that get to be?

Congress is currently grappling with questions of its own about the fight against ISIS, with the answers often breaking down along partisan lines. Kaine, one of the chief advocates for Congress to pass a new AUMF to fight ISIS, opposes broad expansion of Pindo ground forces in Syria and Iraq. But Walnuts McCain, who has already urged Pindostan to commit thousands of ground troops to the anti-ISIS campaign in Syria, sees no problem with the Toads wishing to see whether Pindostan will commit more of its own forces. He said:

We’d have to do something in concert with them. Not first, not last, but with them.

The Toad commitment is potentially pivotal in securing the help of other nations, but recent congressional testimony from top boxtops shed some uncertainty on how strategically important the Toad forces would be to the (purported) ISIS fight, especially at a time when they are committing significant resources to their ongoing annihilation of Yemen. The Toads and the UAE already pulled back on their participation in the air campaign in Syria as their annihilation of Yemen intensified. DDI Stewart told Armed Services Committee senators on Tuesday:

I do not assess that the Toad ground forces would have the capacity to take this fight on. I think the idea is, how do you get more Pindo skin in the game?

Pushing the administration to commit more resources to an anti-ISIS strategy is something that many of the critturs want to see happen anyway. Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr said:

They’re not going to do something unless we’re doing it, but they will pull their weight in what we decide the coalition should do. I think what they said was a diplomatic way of saying when you get a strategy, we’ll participate.

excuse me but once again, a deliciously hideous headline i couldn’t resist

Pindostan committed to aid Pakistan despite terrorism charge
Arun Kumar, IANS, Feb 12 2016

Mark-C.-TonerState Dept spox Toner, looking miserable & no wonder – RB

State Dept Spox Toner Thursday declined an invitation to comment on whether Jackass had received a certain letter from Senate Foreign Relations committee Chairman Bob Corker or not. (Perhaps, “to have received” already implies something in diplomatic code, but I can’t imagine what – RB). In the letter, Corker threatened to block proposed sale of F-16 fighter jets to Pakistan over its alleged support for terrorist groups. Instead, Toner said:

Pindostan is committed to deliver security assistance to its key ally, Pakistan. As a matter of policy, though, we don’t comment on proposed arms sales or transfers, or even our preliminary consultations with the Hill, with Capitol Hill, prior to any formal congressional notification. We are committed to working with Congress to deliver security assistance to our partners and our allies that we believe furthers Pindo foreign policy interests by building the capacity to meet shared security challenges.

Corker in his Feb 9 letter to Jackass notified the sagacious beast of his intention to block the F-16 sale. Citing Islamabad’s relationship with the Haqqani network, he wrote:

After years of pressuring the Pakistanis on this point, the Haqqani terrorists still enjoy freedom of movement, and possibly even support from the Pakistani government. This is highly problematic given the Haqqani’s clear involvement in killing the very Afghan army and police we have worked for years to train.

Asked about Corker’s charges, Toner said:

We believe that Pindo security assistance to Pakistan actually contributes to their counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations. These operations reduce the ability of militants to use Pakistani territory as a safe haven to carry out terrorist attacks and as a base of support for the insurgency in Afghanistan. So we believe these operations are in the interests of both Pakistan and Pindostan, and in the interests of the region more broadly.

Asked if he had a figure how many fewer Pindo personnel had been killed inside Afghanistan by terrorist groups because of Pindo assistance to Pakistani forces, Toner said:

Not in front of me. But no country in the region has been more touched by terrorism than Pakistan. We believe it’s in our vital national security interests to support Pakistan in carrying out its efforts to destroy these terrorist networks. (Pakistan is) an important partner in the region in achieving a stable and secure Afghanistan. We would welcome Pakistan’s efforts to support Afghan-led reconciliation talks, for example. (Pakistan has carried out) multiple operations against some of these terrorist networks that are operating on their soil. We believe that destroying, eliminating those networks is in our national security interests, as well as the security interests of the region.

The Pakistani Embassy in Washington Thursday denied Corker’s charge and criticised it as unfounded and ill-advised. Embassy spox Nadim Hotiana told ForeignPolicy.com:

Insinuations of facilitating the destabilizing role of Haqqani network in Afghanistan in any way are indeed unfortunate.

Following a recent trip to Afghanistan, Corker said he would shelve the funding needed to finance the F-16 deal but lift his hold on the sale of the warplanes itself. Corker was quoted by FP.com as saying in the letter (this is not a ban, whereas in the letter he wants a ban – RB):

If they wish to purchase this military equipment, they will do so without a subsidy from the Pindosi taxpayer.

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