opening corridors to fuck assad, amazing

Syrian forces prepare to open corridors out of Aleppo
AP, Oct 19 2016

BEIRUT – Syrian government forces and their Russian counterparts prepared Wednesday to open corridors out of the besieged districts of Aleppo, in the hope that fighters and civilians will evacuate the contested city’s rebel-held quarters after weeks of bombardment has left the area in ruins. The city’s eastern quarters experienced relative peace for the second consecutive day in the run-up to the hoped-for evacuation Thursday. Russia’s military said two corridors would be opened for militants to flee to the neighboring, rebel-held province of Idlib, between 8 am and 7 pm. The government’s overture to rebels and civilians trapped in Aleppo’s east follows a pattern of evacuations around the country that the UN has likened to “forced displacement.” On Wednesday, some 2,000 residents of the once autonomous Moadamiyeh suburb of Damascus were carried by government buses to Idlib as part of an arrangement to restore government control after years of siege at the hands of the military. Hassan Ghandour, a former Moadamiyeh resident who liaised between the suburb and besieging forces, said Wednesday the evacuees included 700 gunmen. He said the government is to release all detainees from the suburb in exchange for the evacuation. Several activists also left with the convoy. Wassim al-Ahmad told AP would be “impossible” to live again under government authority, saying he didn’t trust official promises for amnesty. Some of those remaining in Moadamiyeh struck a defiant tone. A man calling himself only Mahmoud said:

I’m not going to settle anything with the government. I’m going to stay in my home. I’ve spent five years of my life besieged here. I’ve been through war, siege, starvation, bombardment, and poison gas. I’ve survived with all this so I can stay here.

Government forces Nusra or Daesh gassed the suburb along with two others with Sarin on the night of Aug 21 2013. About 1,300 people, mostly civilians, suffocated to death around the capital. Some 28,000 people remain in the Moadamiyeh, down from a pre-war population of 105,000, according to the government. In Aleppo, government buses queued at checkpoints leading to the besieged east prepared to take evacuees to Idlib on Thursday, according to the media arm of Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside the government in Syria. The government’s foreign ministry said soldiers were withdrawing from the designated corridors to reassure evacuees. Civilians will also be allowed to evacuate to the city’s government-controlled western districts. It is unclear how many people will take up the government’s offer after weeks of siege and bombardment pulverized the east and shattered its medical network. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 640 people, including 128 children, have been killed in rebel-held parts of Aleppo and the surrounding rural areas since Sep 19. It said 88 people, including 14 children, were killed in retaliatory shelling on government-held Aleppo. Bassam Heji, a member of the Nour el-Din al-Zinki rebel faction, said the Russian offer is ap that only reflects its intention to exterminate the residents of the eastern, rebel-held Aleppo neighborhoods. The arrangement follows a proposal by de Mistura to allow Nusras to leave Aleppo in exchange for a truce and local autonomy for the city’s eastern districts. Rebels, along with many residents, rejected the offer. But Russia and Syria moved ahead unilaterally with the evacuation arrangements without making any promises for an extended ceasefire or self-administration. Russian Foreign Ministry spox Maria Zakharova said the break in fighting should allow the moderate opposition in the east to sever ties with militants. Erdogan said his government would work with Russia’s government to evacuate Nusra from the east. Erdogan warned about the possibility of an influx of at least one million people to Turkey in the event of a population movement from Aleppo. He said:

We cannot pay this cost. Those who incite this must sit down with Turkey and talk.

Kurdish-led forces meanwhile pressed their campaign to drive ISIS militants from areas in northern Aleppo province, expanding the front line with rival Turkish-backed opposition fighters also operating in the area, according to local rebels and activists. The Russian military accused a Pindo airstrike of killing six civilians in Hassajek, hours before the announcement that the village had been taken from Daesh. Despite the brief lull in the fighting for Aleppo, most of the surrounding province has become Syria’s hottest theater of combat, showcasing the complexity of the terrain where rival forces are vying for control. In the area of Hassajek, three rival groups are battling Daesh: the Kurdish-led forces, Turkey-backed Syrian rebels and troops loyal to Assad. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Kurdish-led forces, known as the Syrian Democratic Forces, gained control of Hassajek, killing at least 10 Daesh in fighting there. One of the fighting units in SDF, the rebel army, said in a statement that the clashes with Daesh continued for the third straight day further to the south. It said its troops also seized weapons and ammunition from Daesh. The advance by the Kurdish-led forces has widened the front line between them and rival Syrian rebels, who in recent weeks have pushed into northern Aleppo backed by Turkish tanks and aircraft, driving out Daesh from villages and towns it controlled. The Turkey-backed offensive also aims to undercut Kurdish aspirations for a contiguous and independent east-to-west stretch of territory in Syria. The Russian military’s Reconciliation Center in Syria said the strike on Hassajek also wounded four people and destroyed two houses. Russian military surveillance spotted two Belgian F-16 fighter jets over the area at the time of the strike, the center said, adding that Russian and Syrian warplanes were not flying over the area. TASS reported from Brussels that the Belgian defense minister denied Belgian aircraft had struck the area.

Russia rules out extending bombing pause in Aleppo unilaterally
Reuters, Oct 19 2016

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Wednesday that Russia ruled out extending a pause in bombing of Aleppo unilaterally, Interfax quoted him as saying. Ryabkov also said Moscow did not yet see any point in a meeting between Sergei Lavrov and Jackass Kerry on Syria.

actual clusterfuck

Jackass plays down Syria deal hopes as Russia joins Geneva talks
Stephanie Nebehay, Lesley Wroughton, Reuters, Oct 19 2016

GENEVA/WASHINGTON – Jackass Kerry played down expectations of a new Syrian ceasefire deal with Russia after talks in Geneva aimed at agreeing on how to separate Nusra from opposition fighters in Aleppo. After two failed ceasefire agreements, a new round of talks includes Toads & Thanis. Iran was not invited, a Western diplomat said. Jackass told a news conference in Washington following meetings with South Korean ministers:

I’m not approaching this with a high sense of expectation and nothing is based on trust. I urge Russia to sit at this table in Geneva and be serious about finding a simple way which we are offering to make sure that those who are genuinely terrorists are in fact separated out, isolated.

Jackass misspoke as a senior NATO diplomat, citing Western intelligence, said that Russian warships off the coast of Norway were carrying fighter aircraft that are likely to reinforce a final assault on Aleppo in two weeks. The Geneva talks follow a meeting between Jackass and his Arab and European vassals on Tuesday that sought to coordinate efforts toward a new ceasefire after Russia unexpectedly announced it had halted air strikes on rebel-held areas of Aleppo. Michael Ratney led Faschingstein’s delegation in the talks in Geneva, while Moscow sent military experts whose names were not released. It was not clear if the talks would continue on Thursday. Russia favors a UN proposal to evacuate Nusra from the besieged zone of eastern Aleppo in return for a ceasefire. De Mistura told Svenska Dagbladet:

Important countries like the Turks, Toads & Thanis, which have influence over the mainstream rebel groups, are in a position to suggest to those groups to tell Nusra that it is time to go to Idlib, and therefore take away any alleged justification or alibi for the heavy bombing of urban areas of eastern Aleppo. The Russians have no interest in getting to a point where they have to participate in the destruction of a city in order to fight a small group of fighters listed as terrorists by the UN and be remembered in history for that.

Russia has said a planned eight-hour ceasefire on Thursday will be extended if other rebels clearly distance themselves from Nusra, but it will not prolong the pause unilaterally. The task of separating “moderate” rebels from Nusra is complicated because they have long fought side by side, and there is little agreement on the number of their combatants in Aleppo. The UN says there are up to 900 Nusra out of a total of 8,000 rebels in eastern Aleppo, but diplomatic sources have told Reuters there are far fewer, probably a maximum of 200. One aid official told Reuters:

They are calling the shots in Aleppo.

clusterfuck detail

On Syrian border, rebel goals not all shared by Turkish backers
Humeyra Pamuk, Reuters, Oct 19 2016

JARABLUS, Syria – Two months after driving Daesh from this Syrian border town, the young rebel fighters patrolling its streets nurse an ambition beyond the aims of their Turkish backers: to break the siege of Aleppo. These FSA fighters, some in their teens, others hardened by years of war, swept into Jarablus almost unopposed in August. They were part of Turkey’s “Operation Euphrates Shield” meant to clear the jihadists from the border and prevent Kurdish militias gaining ground in their wake. But for them, that operation was a means to an end, just the start of a journey that would ultimately see them battle their main enemy, Assad, and come to the aid of hundreds of thousands of civilians encircled in opposition-held eastern Aleppo. Such ambitions leave Turkey in a difficult position as it restores relations with Moscow. Long one of Assad’s fiercest opponents, Ankara’s main priority appears to have shifted towards preventing Kurdish territorial gains and away from pushing for his immediate departure, putting it at odds with the fighters it supports. Ismail, a commander from the Sultan Murad group, an FSA faction, told Reuters in Jarablus:

Our most important target is to break the siege of Aleppo. There, our FSA brothers are trapped. This is our own idea, but in the coming days we will discuss this with our Turkish brothers.

The answer may not be what he wants to hear. Erdogan and Putin agreed at a meeting in Istanbul last week to try to seek common ground on Syria, despite backing opposing sides, although there has been little sign of concrete progress. Erdogan said he had spoken with Putin on Tuesday and agreed to try to help meet a Russian demand that Nusra be removed from Aleppo. Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara:

The necessary orders were given to our friends, and they will do what is needed.

Such willingness to do Moscow’s bidding is unlikely to go down well with the FSA fighters Turkey is backing. Sighli Sighli, another commander from the Sultan Murad brigade, told Reuters in Jarablus, said:

Russia says they are bombing terrorists, but be it Nusra or Ahrar al Sham, these are people who have fought with us to save our land. We are grateful for the backing of the Turkish military. Our recent advances could not have been achieved without it. But Aleppo is the strategic goal. It’s not possible for us to accept what Russia or Iran or the PYD wants to do with our country. This land belongs to Syrians, not Russians or Iranians.

Some of the civilians in Jarablus, where shops have gradually reopened selling fruit and cloth as rebel fighters patrol the streets on foot and in pick-up trucks, are also suspicious of Ankara’s warming ties with Moscow. One Turkmen resident who gave his name only as Yahya, said:

My wife and five children are starving in Aleppo. Thousands are starving. Erdogan has left our people there to die. He has abandoned us. He sold Aleppo off to the Russians and Iranians. They made a deal and they no longer care about Aleppo.

Rebel fighters who have benefited from Turkish firepower in recent weeks are less skeptical, convinced that they will go on to battle Assad in Aleppo once Turkey’s ambition of flushing Daesh from its border is achieved. Bessam Muhammed, a 40-year-old rebel fighter, told Reuters in the garden of a Turkish-run field hospital:

We have put aside our desire to fight Assad just for now. We haven’t abandoned it. It’s not like we’ve dropped our target. We haven’t come all the way and fought this war to seize Jarablus and then stay here.

Operation Euphrates Shield has made good progress. Backed by Turkish tanks and warplanes, the rebels captured the village of Dabiq, southwest of Jarablus, from Daesh on Sunday. Turkey’s military has said border security has now been largely achieved. But as the offensive moves towards al-Bab, 35 km north-east of Aleppo, the battle may get harder. Mahmut, an FSA fighter, said:

The fight here for Jarablus was easy, but the fight for al-Bab will be much harder. Here there wasn’t much resistance. They fled the town and we moved in. We don’t want to stop here or in al Bab. Next is Aleppo.

Turkey Strikes Syrian Kurds as Multifaceted Conflict Rages On
Emre Peker, WSJ, Oct 20 2016

ISTANBUL — Turkish jets bombed Pindo-backed Syrian Kurds battling Daesh overnight, as Ankara and Washington’s competing priorities in the multi-sided Syria conflict strain ties between the two NATO vassals. There were conflicting reports about what was hit, and the death tolls varied significantly. As many as 200 Kurdish People’s Protection Units, or YPG, fighters were killed in 26 strikes on 18 targets, the Turkish military said, in what would appear to be Turkey’s deadliest strike yet on Syrian Kurdish fighters. However, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF, mostly YPG) contested Turkey’s claim, with spox A H Araj putting the casualties at 15 people, including civilians. The death toll couldn’t be independently verified. At least nine people were killed and two dozen injured in the airstrikes, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. Turkey’s attack comes as Erdogan charts an increasingly assertive role in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts, sparring with Baghdad and NATO allies while threatening to act unilaterally if the Pindo-led coalition against Daesh fails to address Ankara’s concerns. Citing threats to Turkey’s security from Syria and Iraq, Erdogan said:

We will not wait for troubles to come knocking on our door. We will see to it that the threats are destroyed, resolved at their source.

Fighting a three-pronged war in Syria, Turkey wants to topple Assad, quash Daesh, and prevent Syrian Kurds from establishing autonomy on its southern border. Ankara’s Arab allies, the Toads & Thanis, back the effort war against Assad, and Turkey is part of the international campaign against Daesh. But on the fight against the Syrian Kurdish YPG, Turkey is largely alone. The YPG is affiliated with the PKK, but it enjoys Western support. Erdogan has repeatedly slammed Pindostan for partnering with the YPG on the fight against Daesh, saying Washington is choosing a terrorist organization over its NATO vassal. On Monday, he said Turkey will take matters into its own hands unless Pindostan convinces them to halt their westward push to link their territories in north-eastern Syria with the Afrin region they control in the northwest. Biden said during an August visit to Ankara that the YPG must withdraw from Manbij, which it had liberated from Daesh, if it wants continued Pindo support. While SDF claims to have evacuated the frontier town bordering areas controlled by Daesh to the south and Turkish-backed Syrian rebels to the north, Turkey contends that YPG maintains a presence. The Turkish airstrikes late Wednesday came as SDF pushed east from Afrin into Daesh territory toward Manbij, according to SDF’s Araj and the Turkish military. The attack highlights Ankara’s determination to prevent Syrian Kurds from consolidating their territory while Turkey pushes to establish a de facto safe zone for Syrian rebels on its southern border.

wikileaks: entirely a matter for leslie gelb and the army

WikiLeaks says Jackass pressured Ecuador on leaks
Michael Levenson, Boston Globe, Oct 19 2016

The Russian government has loomed large in the WikiLeaks hacking scandal, cast by the Pindosi government as a nefarious superpower bent on stealing Pindo political secrets in a brazen effort to influence the presidential election. But on Tuesday, WikiLeaks alleged that Jackass Kerry pressured a much less powerful country, Ecuador, to stop the leaks of Hillary Clinton’s campaign e-mails, which have helped Donald Trump by revealing Clinton’s close ties to Wall Street. WikiLeaks said that Ecuador, at Kerry’s urging, abruptly cut off Julian Assange’s Internet connection at the country’s embassy in London, where Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, has been holed up for more than four years. The accusations, offered without proof and vehemently denied by the State Dept, added another intriguing twist to what has emerged as a sprawling international subplot to the Clinton-Trump battle. Adm (retd) Kirby said Tuesday:

While our concerns about WikiLeaks are longstanding, any suggestion that Jackass or Foggy Bottom were involved in shutting down WikiLeaks is false. Reports that Jackass had conversations with the little brown brothers about this are simply untrue. Period.

Ecuadorean officials released a statement Tuesday confirming they had “temporarily” unplugged Assange’s Internet connection. It said:

The Government of Ecuador respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states. It does not interfere in external electoral processes, nor does it favor any particular candidate. This temporary restriction does not prevent the WikiLeaks organization from carrying out its journalistic activities.

Some political observers said the move was a sign that Pres Correa may be worried about the appearance that his country is aiding Russian meddling on behalf of Trump, who is not popular in Latin America. Carlos Espinosa, a professor of history and international relations at Universidad San Francisco de Quito, said:

It seems to be that Assange overstepped the limits of what Ecuador could consider appropriate behavior by intervening in an election on behalf of a candidate who is considered reactionary. Ecuador is interested in maintaining its reputation as a progressive state, and it doesn’t want to face a very high cost for supporting a candidate who is not viewed favorably by the left or by other Latin American countries.

Ecuador granted asylum to Assange in Aug 2012, when he was wanted for questioning in Sweden on accusations of rape and sexual molestation. Correa has said that he wanted to protect the WikiLeaks founder from the possibility he might have his due process rights violated and face the death penalty if he were ever charged for his leaks in Pindostan. Politically, the move allowed Correa to flex his muscles on the international stage and burnish his anti-American credentials at home, according to Latin American political observers. J D Bowen, a political scientist at St Louis University:

He thought this was a low-cost way of kind of poking Pindostan without generating real consequences, but instead, everyone got themselves into a stalemate here.

Leslie Gelb of the CFR said Pindostan should shut down Ecuador’s embassy, in retaliation for helping Assange distribute internal Clinton campaign e-mails stolen by the Russians. Gelb said:

Assange has done us a lot of damage and Ecuador, by letting him stay there and granting him effectively diplomatic immunity, allows him to do this, and we ought to put pressure on Ecuador to throw him out. Let the Russians find another means of transmission.

But others who view Assange as a crusader against government secrecy applauded Ecuador for protecting him in the face of international pressure. Marc Becker, a professor of Latin American history at Truman State University in Missouri, said:

I think it’s quite admirable. It indicates the principled nature of the foreign ministry in Ecuador, in defense of the freedom of information.

Despite some strained relations with Pindostan, Correa, who has a doctorate in economics from the University of Illinois, warmly welcomed Clinton when she visited Ecuador as Sec State in 2010. In an interview with teleSUR in July, Correa made clear he wasn’t endorsing Trump. He said:

If you ask me what’s better for Latin America, the answer I give may shock you: Trump. He is so crude that this will generate a reaction in Latin America which will build more support for progressive governments. But for the sake of Pindostan and the world in general, I hope Hillary Clinton wins.

isn’t it awful how assad & the russians won’t let anyone leave aleppo etc etc etc

Hundreds of rebels leave Syrian town of Mouadamiya
Reuters, Oct 19 2016

Hundreds of insurgents and their families left the besieged Syrian town of Mouadamiya near Damascus on Wednesday, witnesses said, in the latest rebel withdrawal from remaining pockets of opposition around the Syrian capital. Under an amnesty deal with the government, 1,800 people including 700 rebels left Mouadamiya for Idlib, the largest area under control of the myriad insurgent groups seeking to oust Assad, the witnesses said. Assad has in recent months used siege and bombardment to force rebels from areas they control around Syria’s main cities, allowing them to leave with their families and light weapons and surrendering territory to the government. In the last two months, while attention has focused on the battle for Aleppo further north, rebels pulled out of Daraya, west of Damascus, and two suburbs to the north, allowing Assad to consolidate control around the capital which his opponents came close to encircling at one stage in the five-year conflict. Rebels still hold areas south and east of Damascus. Assad has made a similar offer to the besieged rebels in eastern Aleppo, where the army backed by Russian jets, have been launching an offensive and where they have declared temporary ceasefires to encourage residents to depart. Rebels have accused the government of compelling them to accept such deals or face full scale assaults on besieged areas risking very high civilian casualties. They also say the deals are designed to remove Sunnis from sensitive areas in cities, a charge the government denies. Wednesday’s departure of rebels from Mouadamiya was not officially covered by state media and there was no announcement of the terms under which they and their families left for Idlib. Previous agreements, including the one for neighboring Daraya in August, allowed rebels to take with them light weapons and offered civilians the option of also traveling to Idlib or moving to new accommodation in government-held areas. Smaller groups of people have been leaving Mouadamiya since September under agreements struck with the government, including displaced people from Daraya who had sought refuge after their own homes were threatened. Last week hundreds of insurgents and their families left two towns on the northern outskirts of Damascus, Qudsiya and al-Hama under a similar agreement.

a clusterfuck of WW3 proportions

Mosul offensive threatens to inflame sectarian conflicts in Iraq and Syria
Jordan Shilton, WSWS, Oct 19 2016

The offensive by the Pindos & their vassals to retake Mosul continued Tuesday, as leading participants acknowledged the fighting could take months, and aid organizations issued dire warnings of the impact on the more than 1 million civilians living in Iraq’s second largest city. Since ground operations were launched at dawn on Monday by the Iraqi army, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters under the control of the Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) and various ethnic-based irregular militias, advancing troops have captured 20 villages from Daesh. Peshmerga forces captured part of the road connecting Irbil, the KRG capital, to Mosul Tuesday. The Pindo-led military operation is preparing the ground for a war crime of enormous proportions. An assault is to be waged on a city with an estimated population of 1.3 million, including 600,000 children, by some 30,000 ground force, backed up by aircraft from Pindostan and other imperialist powers their Eurostani lackeys, among them France, Britain, Germany and Canada. For those lucky enough to survive the initial onslaught, virtually no plans have been made to deal with the 1 million expected to be turned into refugees, let alone how Mosul and its ethnically diverse surroundings will be governed following its recapture from Daesh. Obama made his first public comments on the Mosul offensive yesterday, acknowledging at a joint press conference with Italian PM Renzi:

Mosul will be a difficult fight and there will be advances and setbacks.

Ignoring the destruction wrought by previous anti-Daesh operations, such as the sieges of Ramadi and Fallujah, which left both cities largely in ruins, he remarked blandly on the impact on civilians:

Executing will be difficult and no doubt there will be instances where we see some heartbreaking circumstances. … It’s hard when you leave your home.

The wall-to-wall coverage in the Western media about ISIS’s use of civilians as human shields conceals the fact that the humanitarian catastrophe developing in Mosul is of the imperialist powers’ own making. The Pindo-led invasion of 2003 and Washington’s subsequent fomenting of ethnic divisions between Shia and Sunni cost the lives of hundreds of thousands and created the conditions in which Daesh could flourish and claim to be liberating Sunni areas of western Iraq. Pindostan and its coalition allies are now dropping leaflets on Mosul urging civilians to flee under conditions where the Iraqi government is said to be suspecting any male aged 14 or over leaving the city as a potential ISIS supporter. Beyond Iraq, the Pindo-led intervention in Syria and the Toad-led military operations Washington has backed in Yemen have deepened regional conflicts and plunged the Middle East into a bloodbath that threatens to draw in the major powers in a wider war. These conflicts are being exacerbated by the Mosul offensive. Lavrov and Syrian army sources charged the Pindo-led coalition with planning to enable thousands of ISIS fighters based in Mosul to flee across the border into Syria. Noting that the west of the city remained unguarded, Lavrov warned that Russia would be forced to adopt “political and military” measures if this eventuality came to pass. Lavrov said:

As far as I know, the city is not fully encircled. I hope it’s because they simply couldn’t do it, not because they wouldn’t do it. But this corridor poses a risk that Daesh fighters could flee from Mosul and go to Syria.

While other sources have reported that Shia militias kept out of the offensive due to the fear of sectarian reprisals have been deployed to the west of Mosul to cut off the escape route, it can by no means be excluded that the US has reached such an arrangement. Fashingstein worked closely with Jihadis in 2011 to topple the Gaddafi regime in Libya, and many of these elements were later transported to Syria with the help of the CIA before going on to form ISIS. Moreover, the Obama administration has shown its readiness to collaborate with Jihadi forces in the five-year civil war to oust the Assad regime in Damascus. As well as potentially inflaming the war in Syria, the retaking of Mosul threatens to deepen already bitter ethnic, regional and religious divisions within Iraq itself. Many of the ethnically based militias that have been armed and trained by Western powers engaged in bloody sectarian fighting in the wake of the 2003 Pindo invasion and are pursuing antagonistic interests that could well result in the ethnic partition of Iraq, which would have devastating consequences for the already desperate population. Even commentators in the bourgeois media have been compelled to note that the retaking of Mosul will resolve none of the problems that have led to Iraq’s essential partition into Kurdish, Shia and Sunni enclaves and could in fact prepare a new wave of bloodletting. David Gardner writing in the Financial Times observed that Iraqi PM Abadi’s hope that Iraqis would unite around the capture of Mosul was “optimistic.” He described the various militias involved in the offensive as being “at each others’ throats” and warned that the battle for control of the region, which is rich in energy reserves and is home to an ethnically diverse population including Sunnis, Shia, Kurds and Christians, could be “explosive.” The Peshmerga fighters, who have previously been accused of atrocities against Sunni villagers, are to be kept outside of Mosul in a bid to avoid ethnic violence, but the KRG is determined to use their involvement in the offensive to strengthen its position with the central government in Baghdad. This was the message contained in an interview published Tuesday by al-Jazeera with KRG FM Bakir. He stated when asked about the role of the KRG after its recapture:

We have a stake in Mosul. Mosul is important and has a direct impact on Irbil and Dohuk, and the KRG as a whole, in terms of security, the economy, a social impact. Therefore, we need to be there.

He also left no doubt that the KRG would give little quarter to civilians fleeing the fighting because everyone would be suspected of carrying ISIS sympathies. Bakir told al-Jazeera:

Having talked about IDPs coming in, we have a security concern. Those who have lived under ISIL come with baggage. Some have been recruited, therefore we have to be able to distinguish between real and genuine IDPs and those who come in disguised as IDPs.

Sharp divisions also exist between Baghdad and Ankara. The Turkish government has deployed roughly 700 troops to the northeast of Mosul and also trained a local Turkmen militia to support it. The Shia-dominated Iraqi government has denounced Ankara’s presence, and a demonstration of several thousand Sadrists was held in front of the Turkish embassy in Baghdad yesterday. Some of the Shia militias, which are heavily backed by Iran, have vowed to fight a Turkish intervention. Turkey has refused to back down, insisting that it has a right to participate in the Mosul operations and subsequent talks over its final status. In so doing, it is aiming to restrict the activities of the PKK in northern Iraq and extend Ankara’s influence in Sunni areas. Noting Turkey’s 350 km border with Iraq, Pres Erdogan said Monday:

We will not be responsible for the negative consequences that will emerge from any operation that doesn’t include Turkey. We will be involved both in the operation and at the table afterward. It is not possible for us to stay excluded.

Primary responsibility for the disastrous state of affairs in Iraq lies with Pindo imperialism, which laid waste to the country in its reckless pursuit of regional and global hegemony. But the involvement of all of the major imperialist powers in the region will only exacerbate the sectarian conflicts and increase inter-imperialist rivalries. Alongside approximately 5,000 Pindo SOF involved in the onslaught on Mosul, troops from Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany and Italy are also deployed to Iraq. French FM Ayrault, who has been at the forefront in charging Russia with war crimes over its involvement in Aleppo over the past month, announced a planned meeting jointly hosted with the Iraqi government on Oct 20 to discuss plans for Mosul’s future.

feel free to skip this if it bores you :-)

Faschingstein moves to silence WikiLeaks
Bill Can Auken, WSWS, Oct 19 2016

The cutting off of Internet access for Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, is one more ugly episode in a Pindo presidential election campaign that has plumbed the depths of political degradation. Effectively imprisoned in the Ecuadorian embassy in London for over four years, Assange now is faced with a further limitation on his contact with the outside world. On Tuesday, the Foreign Ministry of Ecuador confirmed WikiLeaks’ charge that Ecuador itself had ordered the severing of Assange’s Internet connection under pressure from the Pindo government. In a statement, the ministry said that WikiLeaks had “published a wealth of documents impacting on the Pindo election campaign,” adding that the government of Ecuador “respects the principle of non-intervention in the internal affairs of other states” and “does not interfere in external electoral processes.” On that grounds, the statement claimed, the Ecuadorian government decided to “restrict access” to the communications network at its London embassy. This statement from the bourgeois government of Ecuador’s Pres Correa is a study in hypocrisy and cowardice. By abetting the Pindo government’s suppression of WikiLeaks, Quito has intervened in the Pindo elections on the side of the ruling establishment and against the rights of the Pindo sheeple. If Correa expects that his professed sensitivity toward the “principle of non-intervention” will be reciprocated, he should recall the fate of Honduras’ Pres Zelaya, who was toppled in a coup orchestrated by then-Sec State Hillary Clinton in 2009. WikiLeaks cited reports that Jackass Kerry had demanded that the government of Ecuador carry out the action “on the sidelines of the negotiations” surrounding the abortive Colombian peace accord last month in Bogota. The Pindosi government intervened to prevent any further exposures that could damage the campaign of Clinton, who has emerged as the clear favorite of the Pindo military and intelligence complex as well as the Wall Street banks.

Whether the State Dept was the only entity placing pressure on Ecuador on behalf of the Clinton campaign, or whether Wall Street also intervened directly, is unclear. The timing of the Internet cutoff, in the immediate aftermath of the release of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches, may be more than coincidental. In the spring of 2014, the government of Ecuador agreed to transfer more than half of its gold reserves to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. for three years, in an attempt to raise cash to cover a growing deficit brought on by the collapse in oil prices. It reportedly sent 466,000 ounces of gold to Goldman Sachs, worth about $580m at the time, in return for “high security” financial instruments and an anticipated profit on its investment. It is hardly a stretch of the imagination to believe that such a relationship would give Goldman Sachs considerable leverage in relation to the Ecuadorian government. In any case, it is evident that the ruling Pindosi establishment is growing increasingly desperate to stanch the flow of previously secret emails and documents that are exposing the real character not only of Clinton, but of capitalist politics as a whole.

While WikiLeaks has released over 17,000 emails from the account of Clinton campaign manager and top establishment Democrat John Podesta, it is believed that there are more than 33,000 still to come. The transcripts of Clinton’s speeches to Goldman Sachs and other top banks and employers’ groups, for which she was paid on average $200,000 per appearance, are the most incriminating. They expose the workings of the oligarchy that rules America and the thinking and actions of a politician prepared to do anything to advance the interests of this ruling stratum, while simultaneously accruing ever greater riches and power for herself. While on the campaign trail, Clinton has postured as a “progressive,” determined to hold Wall Street’s feet to the fire. But in her speeches to Goldman Sachs, she made clear her unconditional defense of the banks and financial houses. Under conditions of popular outrage against the bankers and their role in dragging millions into crisis in the financial meltdown of 2008, Clinton gave speeches praising the Wall Street financiers and insisting that they were best equipped to regulate themselves. She apologized to them for supporting the toothless Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law, saying that it had to be enacted for “political reasons.” In front of her Wall Street audiences, Clinton made clear she had no inhibitions about ordering mass slaughter abroad. While telling her public audiences that she supports a “no-fly zone” in Syria as a humanitarian measure to save lives, she confidentially acknowledged to her Goldman Sachs audience that such an action is “going to kill a lot of Syrians” and become “a Pindosi and NATO involvement where you take a lot of civilians.” In the same speech she declared her willingness to bomb Iran. The emails have laid bare the nexus of corrupt connections between the State Dept, the Clinton Foundation, her various campaigns and her network of financial and corporate donors, which together constitute a quasi-criminal influence-peddling enterprise that could best be described as “Clinton Inc.”

The revelations contained in the WikiLeaks material have been ignored or downplayed by the corporate media, which instead has focused unrelentingly on the charges of sexual misconduct leveled against Donald Trump. The Clinton camp itself has sought to deflect any questions regarding what the candidate said in her speeches or the corrupt operations of her campaign by claiming, with no evidence whatsoever, that the material released by WikiLeaks had been hacked by the Russian government and therefore cannot be trusted. This line of argumentation serves not only to divert attention from the WikiLeaks material, but also to further the Clinton campaign’s neo-McCarthyite claims of Kremlin intervention on behalf of Trump and advance a propaganda campaign aimed at preparing popular opinion for a direct military confrontation with Russia. There is an air of desperation in the attempt to quash the WikiLeaks material. CNN news anchor Chris Cuomo, an open supporter of Clinton, went so far as to lie to his audience, claiming it was illegal for them to access the emails and insisting they could obtain any information on them only through the filter of the corporate media. Well before the release of documents related to the Democrat Party, the determination of ruling circles to suppress WikiLeaks had found repeated and violent expression. State Dept officials have come forward with a report that in 2010, in the midst of WikiLeaks’ mass release of State Dept cables exposing Pindo imperialist operations around the world, Clinton, then Sec State, asked subordinates, “Can’t we just drone this guy?” She recently said she could not remember the remark, but if she made it, it was a joke. During the same period, however, Clinton supporter and longtime Democrat campaign operative Bob Beckel declared in a television interview in relation to Assange:

A dead man can’t leak stuff. This guy’s a traitor, he’s treasonous, and he has broken every law in Pindostan. … There’s only one way to do it: illegally shoot the son of a bitch.

To this point, the Pindosi ruling class has limited itself to judicial frame-ups and character assassination, counting on the help of its servants within both the media and the pseudo-left, large sections of which have either joined the witch-hunt against Assange or downplayed his victimization. The principal vehicle for this campaign of persecution had been fabricated allegations of sexual misconduct pursued by Swedish authorities acting in league with the Pindo and British governments. Earlier this year, the UN’s Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued findings that Assange had been “deprived of his liberty in an arbitrary manner,” meaning the body had reached the conclusion that the Swedish case constituted a politically motivated frame-up.

In the midst of the current attempt to silence Assange, an even more bizarre and filthy frame-up has been concocted, attempting to smear the WikiLeaks founder with charges of taking Russian money as well as pedophilia. At the center of these allegations is a little-known online dating service called, which first attempted to lure Assange into a supposed deal to film an ad for the site, for which he supposedly would be paid $1m, to be provided by the Russian government. When WikiLeaks rejected this preposterous provocation, the same site claimed that Assange had been charged with inappropriate contact through the site with an eight-year-old Canadian child visiting the Bahamas. This accusation was then invoked in an attempt to pressure the UN to drop its demand for an end to the persecution of Assange. Even a cursory investigation makes clear that these allegations constitute a grotesque fabrication. Bahamian police have stated that there are no charges or any case whatsoever against Assange. The dating service has no business address, working phone number or corporate presence anywhere in Pindostan, having all the earmarks of a dummy company created by Pindo intelligence for the purpose of hounding Assange. The use of such tactics is a measure of how terrified the Pindosi ruling class has become in the face of growing mass hostility to both major political parties and their two abhorrent candidates. Their fear is that the relentless exposure of the inner workings of a government of the rich, by the rich and for the rich is robbing the existing political set-up of what little legitimacy it had left among the population, and creating the conditions for a political radicalization within the working class, and for social upheavals, whoever is elected on Nov 8.


UK student leaders reject “partisan” anti-Semitism report
Asa Winstanley, Electronic Intifada, Oct 19 2016

161018-maliabouattia_1NUS president Malia Bouattia. (NUS)

Hundreds of officers and activists in the UK’s National Union of Students are defending their president, Malia Bouattia. In an open letter, the student leaders condemn an influential parliamentary committee’s “selective and partisan” report on anti-Semitism in the UK, which was published on Sunday. The NUS itself has also criticized the report’s politicized approach to anti-Semitism. The student leaders say that the Home Affairs Select Committee’s report is an attempt “to delegitimize NUS and discredit Malia Bouattia as its president.” The parliamentary committee is dominated by the governing Conservative Party. Despite admitting there is no evidence that Labour under left-wing leader Jeremy Corbyn is any more prone to anti-Semitism than any other party, the report overwhelmingly focuses on the Labour Party. Corbyn on Sunday hit back that the select committee was guilty of “politicizing anti-Semitism” and neglecting to combat it in the Conservative Party. The report has also come in for flak over its call to outlaw criticism of Zionism. First published Sunday night, the open letter has now garnered the signatures of almost 400 student leaders.

The select committee’s report claims that Bouattia’s characterization of the University of Birmingham as an outpost of Zionism “smacks of outright racism.” In a 2011 blog post, Bouattia wrote that the leadership of the university’s Jewish society was “dominated by Zionist activists.” The open letter demands a “revised report that is impartial” and the retraction of what it says are false statements about NUS policy on campus anti-Semitism, “along with an apology to those who have been vilified by the inaccuracies and partisan biases it contains.” The report includes a large section on anti-Semitism in UK universities, which mostly focuses on Bouattia. It criticizes her record as a campaigner for Palestinian rights, saying her “choice of language” suggests “a worrying disregard for her duty to represent all sections of the student population and promote balanced and respectful debate.” Bouattia, an advocate of BDS, has faced attack from right-wing media and Israel lobby groups since she was elected NUS president in April.

In their open letter, the student leaders say they are “alarmed” at how Bouattia “is being singled out for her views on Israel by the Committee in its report, and depicted as the source of anti-Semitism in higher education.” On Sunday, an NUS spox said the report “fails to address the reality for students” and that it was “partial and inaccurate in relation to NUS work in tackling anti-Semitism.” Bouattia welcomed parts of the report, saying that its “data on increasing anti-Semitism and targeting of the Jewish community is deeply concerning.” She affirmed that “there is no place for anti-Semitism in the student movement.” The student leaders’ letter said that the report’s focus on the Labour Party and the NUS “casts doubt upon its authors’ intentions.” They reject the parliamentary committee’s recommendation suggesting that “legitimate criticism of Zionism … be considered as hate-crimes by the government, effectively equating them with anti-Semitism.” The student leaders state:

Zionism is a political ideology that continues to express itself through the actions of the state of Israel. It is one that is held or rejected by both Jewish people and non-Jewish people. As with all political ideologies, it should be open to discussion, scrutiny and debate.

Plus this, h/t Lisa:

more from the evil ones

The Cyber-War on Wikileaks
Srecko Horvat, Counterpunch, Oct 18 2016

screen-shot-2016-10-18-at-12-46-10-pmSrećko Horvat & Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London
(Photo: Sunshine Press Publications)

When the ruling class is in panic, their first reaction is to hide the panic. They react out of cynicism. When their masks are revealed, instead of running around naked, they usually point the finger at the mask they wear. These days, the whole world could witness a post-modern version of the infamous quote “Let them eat cake.” As a reaction to WikiLeaks publishing his emails, John Podesta, the man behind Hillary Clinton’s campaign, posted a photo of a dinner preparation, saying “I bet the lobster risotto is better than the food at the Ecuadorian Embassy.”

A similar version of vulgar cynicism emerged earlier this month, when Hillary Clinton reacted to the claim that she reportedly wanted to “drone” WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (“Can’t we just drone this guy?”) when she was Sec State. Instead of denying her comments, Clinton said that she doesn’t recall any such joke, saying:

It would have been a joke if it had been said, but I don’t recall that.

One doesn’t have to read between the lines to understand that if Hillary Clinton had said that, she would have considered it a joke. But when emperors joke, it usually has dire consequences for those who are the objects of their “humor.” During the last few months I have visited Julian Assange in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London several times and each time I came out of the Embassy, where he is spending his fifth year in political asylum under legitimate fear he might be extradited to Pindostan, my thought was the following one: although he lives, without his family, in a post-modern version of solitary confinement (even prisoners are allowed to walk for up to one hour a day), although he has no access to fresh air or sunlight for more than 2000 days, although the Pindo government recently denied him safe passage to a hospital for an MRI scan, if his access to the internet would be cut off this would be the most severe attack on his physical and mental freedom. The last time I saw him, which was only two weeks ago, he expressed the fear that because he had already published leaks concerning Pindo elections and with more to come, Pindostan might find various ways to silence him, including pressuring Ecuador or even shutting down the internet. What seemed a distant possibility only two weeks ago, soon became a self-fulfilling prophecy. When the Obama administration recently announced that it was planning, in Biden’s words, an “unprecedented cyber covert action against Russia,” the first victim was not Putin but precisely Julian Assange, whose internet was cut off just a day after Biden’s self-contradictory proclamation. No wonder Edward Snowden reacted immediately by saying:

Nobody told Joe Biden what ‘covert operation’ means.

According to the DoD’s Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, a covert operation is “an operation that is so planned and executed as to conceal the identity of or permit plausible denial by the sponsor.” It is no secret anymore that the Ecuadorian government has come under extreme pressure since Assange leaked the DNC email database. We don’t know yet whether Pindostan pressured Ecuador to shut down the internet, but it is clear that the present Pindo government and the government to come is fighting a war with WikiLeaks which is anything but “covert.” Is it really a coincidence that Julian Assange’s internet access was cut off shortly after publication of Clinton’s Goldman Sachs speeches? If at the beginning we still had a “soft” version of post-modern McCarthyism, with Hillary calling everyone opposed to her campaign a Russian spy (not only Assange, but also Donald Trump and Jill Stein), then with Obama’s recent intervention it became more serious. With Obama’s threat of a cyber-war, the “soft” McCarthyism didn’t only acquire geopolitical significance, but at the same time a new mask was revealed. Obama is obviously trying to cement the public debate and make the Russian threat “real” or at least to use it as a weapon in order to help Clinton to get elected.

Moreover, this new twist in something that has already become much more than just the pindo elections, shows not only how Obama is ready to strengthen Hillary’s campaign, but it also reveals that a cyber-war is already in the making. It is not a cyber-war with Russia, but with WikiLeaks. And it is not the first time. In 2010, when the Collateral Murder video was published, the Afghan and Iraq war logs were released, and we witnessed one of the most sinister attacks on freedom of speech in recent history. Visa, Mastercard, Diners, American Express and Paypal imposed a banking blockade on WikiLeaks, although WikiLeaks had not been charged with any crime at either state, federal or international level. So if the Pindosi government successfully convinced payment companies representing more than 97% of the global market to shut down an independent publisher, why wouldn’t they pressure Ecuador or any other state or company to cut off the internet? It is worth to check out the Assassinate Assange video for evidence of the verbal masturbation of Pindo boxtops. Pindostan is not only rhetorically trying to “get” Assange, he poses a serious threat to the major elite factions in Pindostan to remain in power. No wonder panic is rising in Pindostan, which is now going even so far that a 16-year-old boy has been arrested in Britain on criminal charges related to the alleged hacking of email accounts used by DCI Brennan, which WikiLeaks published in Oct 2016.

What WikiLeaks obviously successfully challenged is what the Prussian general and military theorist Carl von Clausewitz would call the “centre of gravity” (Schwerpunkt) which is the “central feature of the enemy’s power.” Maybe one day it will be learned in military strategy, or maybe not: “history is written by the victors,” remember? Instead of speaking about the Russians, we should start speaking about the Schwerpunkt of the actual leaks, their real essence. Just take the following quotes by Hillary Clinton exposed by WikiLeaks, which reveal her true nature and the politics behind her campaign. She said “We are going to ring China with missile defence,” she said “I want to defend fracking,” she said climate change environmentalists “should get a life,” she said “you need both a public and a private position,” and she said “my dream is a hemispheric common market, with open trade and open borders.” What WikiLeaks has shown is not only that Hillary is a hawkish warmonger, first it was Libya (over 1,700 of the 33,000 Clinton emails published by WikiLeaks reference Libya), then it was Syria (at a Goldman Sachs conference she explicitly stated she would like to intervene in Syria), tomorrow it will be another war. It is now clear, and this is the real “centre of gravity” where we should focus our attention, that the future Clinton cabinet may already been filled with Wall Street people like Obama’s was. No wonder WikiLeaks revelations create utter panic not only in the Democrat Party itself but also the Obama administration.

One question remains, isn’t WikiLeaks, by leaking all these dirty secrets, influencing the Pindo elections? Yes, it certainly is, but the current criticism misses its point: isn’t the very point of organisations such as WikiLeaks to publish the material they have and to influence public opinion? The question should finally be turned around: isn’t the Pindo mainstream media the one influencing the Pindo elections? And isn’t Obama, by announcing a cyber-war with Russia, influencing the elections? WikiLeaks is not only influencing the Pindo elections, but transforming the Pindo elections, as they should have been from the very beginning into a global debate with serious geopolitical consequences at stake. What WikiLeaks is doing is revealing this brutal fight for power, but, as the old saying goes, “when a wise man points at the Moon, the idiot looks at the finger.” Instead of looking at the finger-pointing to Russia, we should take a look at the leaks themselves. If democracy and transparency means anything today, we should say, let them leak!

satmar are also the ppl with the metzitzah bal peh issue

Satmar v Israel Lobby in New York Congressional Primary
Richard Silverstein, Tikun Olam, Oct 18 2016

Last June, Rep Jerrold Nadler ran the race of a lifetime to defeat a primary challenger and retain the Congressional seat he’s held for a quarter-century. He won a massive victory, earning 88% of the vote. So far, this is standard NYJ Democrat politics. But there were two unusual factors in this race. First, Nadler was the only NY Congress crittur who supported the Obama nuclear deal with Iran. This left his challenger, Oliver Rosenberg, a gay Yeshiva University alum and former Goldman Sachs banker, with a major opening. The Israel Lobby and Israeli government pulled out all the stops against the deal and planned to punish whoever stood in its way. That’s why Nadler faced his first primary challenge in 20 years. Rosenberg tagged Jackie Mason to make robocalls for him which questioned Nadler’s Jewishness, claimed that he was short and fat, and warned voters that an Iranian hydrogen bomb would rain down on them because of their Congressman’s vote. But Nadler had his own “weapon” in the form of the sizable Satmar Hasidic constituency living in Brooklyn precincts in his district. The Satmars are ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists who believe that the State of Israel is a secular abomination that usurps the holy relationship between God and the Jewish people. They put together a robocall of their own on Nadler’s behalf and it was eye-opening. It raised the specter of dual loyalty and accused Nadler’s opponent of being an agent of a foreign power:

A heartfelt plea to our dear brothers, Satmar Chassidim in Boro Park. We are all witnessing this dirty campaign led by a few irresponsible individuals against our devoted congressman, Jerry Nadler, because he didn’t accommodate 100% Bibi Netanyahu with regard to the Iran deal last summer. If, G-d forbid, Nadler loses the Boro Park votes, it will be a terrible chillul Hashem. It’ll give the impression that specifically Orthodox Jews are the most loyal to Israel and are ready to jeopardize their own interests all for the agenda of the Zionist state. The fact is that Satmar today has the biggest communities here in the city. We can clearly control the outcome of the election and perform a kiddush Hashem. Satmar Yidden will follow the posuk (Yirmiyahu 29) ‘Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.’ Peaceful, faithful Jews will vote this Tuesday for Jerry Nadler for Congress and send a message to the whole world that we are not voting for a foreign interest. We are voting for local interest.

I’ve always found it interesting that the anti-Zionist among the ultra-Orthodox are so much closer to secular anti-Zionists than they are to their fellow Orthodox and even ultra-Orthodox Jews who are Zionist. The Satmar are among those who absolutely reject any coöperation between themselves and the State. They refuse to serve in the IDF and refuse to accept State funding for their educational institutions or social service agencies. They do this because they are waiting for the messiah and the establishment of a Torah-true state (something that would be anathema to secular anti-Zionists). Anything short of this is impermissible, including a secular Jewish state. In this attack on Israeli Orthodox political parties by the Satmar representative in Israel, the rhetoric sounds precisely like that of secular anti-Zionists:

The groups that reproach us, those are the groups that took over the Yishuv by means of terror organizations like the Lehi, the Etzel and the Haganah. These are groups that are no different from Hamas. We suggest that they move to Uganda, or anywhere else. The people of the Old Yishuv settled here in order to fulfill the Torah and the commandments and not to violate the holiness of the land. We think that the right to live in the Holy Land is reserved for religious people, who know among other things that salvation has not yet arrived and that we must not provoke the nations that surround us. Whoever does not keep the Torah and the commandments has no moral right to live here.

Interesting that there are Jews aside from us “leftists” who raise the specter of Israeli intervention in domestic Pindosi politics as a danger to Pindosi Jews. I want to warn readers from making the mistake that some anti-Zionists make in assuming that sects like Satmar or Neturei Karta represent a major constituency among Jews worldwide. They are a minority. And because many of the ultra-Orthodox anti-Zionists generally hold themselves aloof from much of the rest of the Jewish world, they’re even less influential than they otherwise might be. Nevertheless, I think their views are significant and worth understanding. NOTE: My first piece published at The New Arab deals with the first semi-official acknowledgement by Israel about the origin of its Jericho missile program. It also notes a new lawsuit demanding the Pindosi government cut off aid to Israel for violating nuclear protocols, which require it to sign the NPT. The New Arab is the media outlet founded by Azmi Bishara after the Shabak drove him into exile.