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21 Generals in Iraq, Syrian Ceasefire Crumbling, Libyan Tripoli Government Cedes Power

Next Cold War Roundup 4/6/16

Fighting in Syria between rebels who were covered by the ceasefire agreement who have joined with al Qaeda and the Syrian coalition continues into this week, straining ceasefire agreement to the point where many think it is over. Peace talks are set to resume next week. The mix of officers and troops in Iraq is extremely top heavy, especially for a country that claims to not be involved in conflict. The Defense Dept. is doing a major reorganization of the Pentagon. One of the Libyan governments has ceded power to the newly arrived “unity govnerment” chosen by the UN Security Council. A Syrian fighter jet was shot down with conflicting reports on whether guns, artillery or MANPADS were used.  Yemen’s prime minister was ousted by Yemen’s exiled president. One of the partners of the Mossack Fonseca firm has Nazi ties.

Syria Ceasefire Likely Over

_ Syrian rebels teamed up with al Qaeda in Syria to capture the town of Tal Eis in southern Aleppo last weekend.  On Wednesday the town and its adjacent hill was reported recaptured during a night raid led by Iranian troops  “after a costly battle which preliminary reports indicate brought heavy casualties to both sides.”  There have been “hourly air raids” and three separate assaults to try to reclaim the city over the past two days.

_ Al Qaeda “is screwing up in Syria” as they have gone to war with “a popular Free Syrian Army faction in Idlib,” the 13th Division.

_ An announcement from Syrian Army about the Free Syrian Army (FSA) joining al Nusra and breaking the ceasefire and their intention to “activate all fronts North, West and South and this time no obstacle will hinder the fighting.” Previously they fought only al Nusra and ISIS and avoided the rebel opposition who were covered by the ceasefire. The Syrian Army asked civilians in certain areas to evacuate because they are launching an operation to “liberate Aleppo and her Southern/Western countryside.” It has also been reported that “ISIS is handing territory to Al Qaeda in Aleppo in order to free troops so they can fight” the Syrian Army and Kurdish YPG on other fronts.

_ In State Dept. briefings, spokesman said John Kerry and Sergey Lavrov had spoken on Monday, and that no rebels had been removed from the protection of the ceasefire agreement, as was supposed to happen if they violated it. Peace talks are set to resume on April 11. UN envoy de Mistura was in Moscow on Tuesday. Spokesman said “we’re going to continue to stand by and support the HNC [Saudi-backed High Negotiations Committee] in Geneva in support of its demands.”  Toner (spokesman) on Tuesday was basically forced to admit that while the US believes Assad must go, they are in broad agreement with Russia that the Syrian people should decide and will respect the negotiated political process.

_ Syria’s Grand Mufti accused rebel leadership of “being in league with Israel” and said rebel groups repeatedly offered peace deals ” saying they’d end hostilities if the government agreed to a deal with Israel, including the expulsion of all Palestinian resistance from Syria, and cutting all relations with Hezbollah.”

MANPADS Missiles in Rebel Hands

_ On Wednesday, the pilot, captured by al Nusra, claimed on video that his plane was shot down but not with MANPADS.  Hea says he is Sunni, not Alawi, and pleads not to be killed.

_ In the days after the shootdown of the Syrian fighter jet, there were many claims that the plane was shot down by MANPADS, and claims the jet shot down in March was also shot down by MANPADs.  Charles Lister from Brookings Doha and his rebel sources made several claims about the MANPADS delievered to rebels and shootdowns here, here and here. Others also reported that Ahrar al Sham had shot down the plane with MANPADS.

_ Multiple photos of rebels with MANPADS showed up on social media.

ISIS Attack at Airport East of Damascus

_ ISIS “launched another assault to capture the Dumayr Military Airport in the eastern Damascus countryside on Wednesday.”  ISIS also launched large attacks “at the eastern slopes of the Qalamoun Mountains” to try to “counter the Syrian Arab Army’s successful campaigns at Palmyra and Quraytayn.”

Libya’s “Government of National Accord”

_ One of the two current governments in Libya, the Tripoli government, ceded power to the UN-selected “unity government,” the Government of National Accord (GNA). The other current government in the east has not done so yet.

21 Generals in the War Against ISIS

_ “21 Generals Lead ISIS War the U.S. Denies Fighting.” In Iraq alone, there are allegedly 5,000 US troops and 12 generals, plus their staff and other officers. This is a ” a stunningly high number for a war that, if you believe the White House talking points, doesn’t involve American troops in combat.”  5,000 is roughly the number that one colonel would command. “The Obama administration has frequently argued that the U.S. maintains a so-called light footprint in Iraq to reassure the American public that its military is not back in Iraq. ” These numbers don’t include the generals in Kuwait, Qatar, and Bahrain nor the CENTCOM command generals stateside, Marine generals and Navy admirals who are part of the mission. The anti-ISIS coalition includes 60+ countries and some generals from those countries are in Iraq and the vicinity too.

Joint Chiefs Restructuring


_ Defense Secretary Carter seeks new powers for Joint Chiefs, top commanders in war on terrorism. The Obama administration wants to make it easier for 4-Star commanders to fight across regional commands (CENTCOM, AFRICOM and EUCOM). Carter unveiled his “Goldwater-Nichols reform plan, and the most sweeping changes to the military’s top command in a generation,” in which the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs would be out of the chain of command.  US Cyber Command which is currently under US Strategic Command might become a top level “full combatant command.”  The Goldwater-Nichols’ was enacted in 1986.

Yemen Government Shakeup

_ Yemen’s prime minister, Khaled Bahah, was removed by their exiled president Hadi.  On Tuesday, Bahah rejected the removal and said it “undermined the legitimacy of the state, and was in violation of the nation’s constitution.”

The #PanamaPapers, Mossack Had Nazi and Possible CIA Ties

_ Who is Mossack Fonseca?

Mossack’s father had been a member of the Waffen-SS, the notorious armed wing of the Nazi Party during World War II, according to U.S. Army intelligence files obtained by ICIJ.

After the war the father offered his services to the U.S. government as an informant, the files show, claiming “he was about to join a clandestine organization, either of former Nazis now turned Communist . . . or of unconverted Nazis cloaking themselves as Communists.” An Army intelligence officer wrote that the offer to spy for the U.S. might simply be “a shrewd attempt to get out of an awkward situation.”

Nevertheless, the old intelligence files indicate that Mossack’s father later ended up in Panama, where he offered to spy, this time for the CIA, on Communist activity in nearby Cuba. [Emphasis added]

Bernie Sanders in the South Bronx, March 31st 2016. Photo by Michael Vadon on Flickr.
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Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

Joanne is a blogger with focus on issues of war and peace, a mom, engineer, software developer and amateur photographer.