Next Cold War Roundup – 3/30/16
American military and diplomatic families were ordered to evacuate Incirlik air base in Turkey and two other locations. Syrian president Assad says Syria is not ready for federalism and the Syrian opposition demands that a transitional government controlled by them should take over. China, Russia, Japan and the US tensions in the South China Sea rise as Japan deploys radar systems and Russia may build a naval base in a disputed territory north of Japan. Some of Libya’s new unity government arrived in Tripoli by boat after the existing government shut down airspace.
American Military and Diplomatic Families Ordered to Evacuate Turkey
_ The Pentagon and Dept of State ordered a mandatory evacuation of American families from Incirlik air base and two other smaller locations. They cited security reasons. Israel issued a travel advisory telling all citizens to leave Turkey as soon as possible and to avoid travel there.
_ US relations with Turkey have been deteriorating. Earlier reports said Pres. Obama refused a one-on-one meeting with Turkey’s president Erdogan. A formal meeting with VP Biden would be held instead. On Tuesday the White House spokesman reported that Obama and Erdogan might have an informal meeting during his visit for a Nuclear Security Summit with more than 50 world leaders in Washington on Thursday and Friday. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the lack of a formal meeting is not a snub but “There obviously is a lot of important work to do with our allies in Turkey … It also includes continuing to intensify our coordination on key aspects of our counter-ISIL strategy, including ramped-up efforts to secure the Turkey-Syria border.”
_ In five days, Turkey will “start taking back illegal migrants from Greece under a landmark deal with the European Union” but there is still uncertainty about “how many will come, how they will be processed, and where they will be housed.” The mayor of the Dikili, where the migrants will land says he has no information from authorities and doesn’t know how the current infrastructure will support the operation. Turkish Red Crescent said it will be a registration center and the first migrants will be housed in hotels and “holiday camps” and Syrians would be free to settle outside of camps. “A new law gives migrants permission to work in Turkey, although there are limitations on where and in which sectors.”
British Don’t Want to be Shut Out of Palmyra Restoration Contracts
_ Boris Johnson, mayor of London, trashes Syrian president Assad as he congratulates the Syrian coalition for recapturing Palmyra and says British archaeologists must be part of the restoration projects and reconstruction contacts. He plans to build a “digitally reproduced” arch made of resin in Trafalgar Square based on the destroyed Temple of Bel to demonstrate how much the British deserve to get these contracts, even though Britain was part of the project to destroy Syria.
_ AP article “An infant’s 5-month life points to hunger’s spread in Yemen” illustrates a tragic example of the widespread suffering of the Yemeni people at the hands of their former ruler, their Saudi neighbors and the United States.
_ Yemen’s nominal president Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi has an op-ed in the New York Times, shifting blame for the massacre and starvation of the Yemeni people, and trying to convince the international community to believe that he has always wanted peace, and now needs a lot of money.
Libya’s UN Elected Government Can’t Get in the Country to Take Over
_”Flights were suspended at Mitiga Airport for periods on both Sunday and Monday.” The UN-selected unity government accused authorities in Tripoli of closing down airspace to prevent them from coming to Libya from Tunisia to start their rule. “There have also been fresh clashes between armed groups in and around the capital in recent days.”
_ In the early hours Wednesday, blasts and heavy gunfire were heard in Tripoli.
_ The Saudi-backed High Negotiating Committee (HNC), a Syrian opposition umbrella group, again demands that Syria needs a “transitional ruling body with full executive powers and not a participatory government under President Bashar al-Assad.” The HNC wants to control this transitional government with presidential powers. The Assad government wants a participatory government.
_ “Damascus plans to rebuild Palmyra’s ancient sites destroyed by ISIL“. Giovanni Boccardi of UNESCO described the damage surveyed via drone footage after the Syrian coalition recaptured the city last weekend. He says restoration will be “a very challenging thing.” He said “looting has been going on on an industrial scale” during the time that ISIS held that territory but the “situation has dramatically improved” now. UNESCO hopes that the international community will come together to restore the site for all of humanity. He said the quarries are still there and there is a very good record of what the monuments looked like so a restoration is probably possible.
_ Bashar al-Assad told Russian media that Syria is not ready for federalism.
_ The Syrian army and coalition continue to move and “launched a joint assault that targeted the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham’s (ISIS) defenses near the Quraytayn Orchards” as they advance toward the city of Quraytayn.
_ Sharmine Narwani on how false or manipulated narratives killed the Syrian people.
More US Proxies Killing Other US Proxies in Syria
_ CIA director John Brennan went to Moscow in early March and “raised the issue of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad leaving power.” The Kremlin spokesman said Brennan had no contact with the Kremlin while he was there. The CIA said his objective was “to emphasize with Russian officials the importance of Russia and the Assad regime following through on their agreements to implement the cessation of hostilities in Syria” and to reiterate American support or “genuine political transition in Syria [and] Assad’s departure in order to facilitate a transition that reflects the will of the Syrian people.”
_ Retired Col. Lawrence Wilkerson says proxy groups turning on each other is not all that unusual “but let me hasten to add too that the coordination between the Pentagon and CIA in particular, is often bad, and the bureaucratic jealousies between the two entities is often rampant. I ought to know. I was there for 31 years … and you get some problems with interpretation.” He said if the Pentagon and the CIA differ in who is the best group to arm there is no adjudicating force because the National Security Council won’t do it and “often times at that level they don’t even know what’s going on on the ground. Increasingly that’s true with what the CIA does.”
_ The Daily Beast reports that Iraqi soldiers fled during one of the early operations to retake Mosul and the details about the operation. When the Iraqi soldiers used artillery and advanced on the village, they turned around and fled later. The article has statements from Shia militia and Peshmerga fighters, not happy with the Iraqi army. The Peshmerga use this to make the argument that they should get more money, arms and support. The article concludes by saying maybe more US troops are needed and more support for the Kurdish Peshmerga,
_ The Daily Beast article also blames the US marine death on the Iraqi army, saying that a week earlier, Iraqi soldier abandoned their base, “which forced the United States to send in more Marines in support, and one of them was killed.”
_ Iranian media reports that US airstrikes killed Iraqi soldiers.
_ Al Masdar, a media outlet more sympathetic to the Iraqi government, reports that the Iraqi army foiled three ISIS suicide attacks near the city of Baiji.
_ Peter Lee explains why China is not leaving the South China Sea.
_Japan “switched on a radar station in the East China Sea, giving it a permanent intelligence gathering post close to Taiwan and a group of islands disputed by Japan and China” and China reacted negatively calling it “provocative behavior.” This is part of a broader military build-up by Japan that boost Japan’s ability to monitor the South China Sea. Russia’s defense minister said Russia “would study the possibility of building a naval base, and deploying advanced missile systems on what it calls the Kurile islands.” This island chain is just north of Japan and was seized by the USSR at the end of WWII and has been the subject of a territorial dispute between Russia and Japan. Japan reacted negatively to this.
— U.S. Army (@USArmy) March 29, 2016
Netanyahu Headed to Moscow
_ Seems like everybody is headed to Moscow. “Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on April 21 to discuss security issues in the Middle East“. Israeli president Rivlin visited in March. An anonymous Israeli source told Al Arabiya that they discussed peacekeeping forces in Syria.
Lawrence Wilkerson Interview With Salon
_ Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell and now frequent critic of American foreign policy says he is tired of “the corporate interests that we go abroad to slay monsters for.” He says he thinks Smedley Butler was onto something.