Next Cold War Roundup 4/11/16
B-52 long range bombers have arrived in Qatar, first time since 1991 Gulf War since these long-range bombers have been based in the Middle East. Syrian peace talks set to resume in Geneva. US and Russia’s interests are converging. Neither wants to be blamed for collapse of peace talks and ceasefire. Turkey and Syria rumored to be engaged in backroom talks. Ukraine’s collapsing government sees a resignation announcement from PM Yatsenyuk and he may be replaced by an EU-friendly minister rather than the anticipated takeover by American finance minister Jaresco. Some fighting continues in Syria with ISIS taking a dozen villages from rebels, and a large military operation building to reclaim Aleppo. Rockets were fired and shots heard as Sec of State Kerry was leaving Afghanistan after a surprise visit. Romanian hacker involved in Clinton email server case was extradited to the US.
Ukraine’s Yatsenyuk Government Collapses
_ Yats is out. Ukraine’s prime minister Yatsenyuk will resign after months of turmoil and having narrowly survived a no confidence vote on Feb. 16. Yatsenyuk announced that he would resign on April 12. In February, Ukraine’s president Poroshenko, on shaky ground himself, said that Yatsenyuk had lost the support of the coalition. The New York Times (NYT) characterizes the situation as such: “But the revolution’s leaders soon turned on each other […] Ukraine’s Western allies eventually sided with Mr. Poroshenko and pushed Mr. Yatsenyuk to step aside.” Yatsenyuk said he would support Vladimir B. Groisman (Volodymyr Groysman), a member of Poroshenko’s party, for prime minister. NYT also noted that “there https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timothy_Garton_Ashare many procedural tricks that could keep Mr. Yatsenyuk in power.” Yatsenyuk announced a resignation once before in July, 2014 and the Rada did not accept it.
_ In February, IMF’s Lagarde said further IMF bailout payments were at risk without “major new efforts to improve governance and tackle the country’s endemic corruption.” British prof and Hoover Institute fellow Timothy Ash said “Yatsenyuk timed his departure to ensure the maximum hit to President Petro Poroshenko” and his resignation statement was “scathing of the support he had received from some of his so-called partners in the ‘reform” camp.'” Ash also says that Poroshenko will no longer be able to deflect blame for failures. If Groysman is elected prime minister, it is likely that incumbent American finance minister “Natalie Jaresko will be moved aside, likely in favour of the former Slovakian finance minister, Ivan Miklos” or Jaresco might fill another role. Miklos has ties to the EU.
_ The Kremlin “hopes that the resignation of Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk will not hamper the implementation of the Minsk Agreements that is already stalling, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday.” The Kremlin spokesman had some unflattering words for Yatsenyuk’s contribution to the implementation of Minsk and the Ukrainian crisis. Russia doesn’t seem very sad. Sputnik News published an listicle: “Yatsenyuk’s Top-7 Awkward Moments as Ukraine’s Prime Minister.”
_ Radio Free Europe did a segment on “A prime minister resigns in Ukraine. The Panama Papers continue to reverberate in Russia. And the Crimean Tatars hold a congress — in Lithuania.” In the podcast conversation, commentators expressed concern that American Natalie Jaresco seemed to be a shoe-in and now seems to be out of the running. Commentators (and Ash in the KyivPost op-ed above) seemed uncertain about how this will play out.
Obama Doesn’t Regret Overthrowing Gaddafi But Failing to Plan For ‘Day After’ Was Biggest Mistake of Presidency
_ When asked what was the biggest mistake of his presidency, Pres. Obama said: “Probably failing to plan for the ‘day after’, what I think was the right thing to do, intervening in Libya.” Libya descended into chaos and al Qaeda and then ISIS moved into the destabilized Libya. Last month Obama blamed France and the UK in Atlantic magazine’s “Obama Doctrine” article for the disaster in Libya.
ISIS Abducted Workers Near Damascus
_ ISIS abducted 300 workers in a cement plant in Dumier, near Damascus, an area where they had launched some attacks against the government forces this week.
Syria Peace Talks
_ Three Western and Russian diplomats said “Russia and the U.S are working on drafting a new constitution for Syria.” The Saudi-backed opposition High Negotiating Committee “said it opposes a process of defining the new constitution that’s driven by the U.S. and Russia.” They want to form a transitional government “with full executive powers” that they control and create the new constitution themselves. After Sec. of State Kerry’s recent visit to Moscow, a spokesman said they “agreed on a framework schedule for a Syrian-led political transition by August, which would include a new constitution.”
_ Peace talks are set to resume in Geneva this week. The Syrian foreign minister said Damascus is ready to resume the talk without any preconditions.
_ The New York Times has an op-ed by the leader of the Kurdish PYD party in Syria protesting the fact that they have not been included in the peace talks because of Turkey’s objections and the US and EU’s desire to placate Turkey.
B-52 Stratofortress Long-Range Bombers Based in Middle East for First Time Since 1991 Gulf War
_ “U.S. deploys B-52 bombers to Qatar for fight against Islamic State” First time they’ve been deployed to the Middle East since the Gulf War in 1991. The air force declined to say how many B-52 Stratofortress bombers will be based at Al Udeid Air Base.
_ From the air force web site:
“The B-52 offers diverse capabilities including the delivery of precision weapons. The aircraft and its crew have deployed in support Operation Inherent Resolve. This deployment is the first basing of the B-52s in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility in 26 years.”
Obama’s Visit to Saudi Arabia and the 28 Pages and Saudi Alleged Involvement in 9/11
_ CBS 60 minutes aired a segment on the still classified 28 pages of the 9/11 Commission Report that allegedly implicates Saudi Arabia for support of hijackers inside the U.S. and other support. They interviewed members of the commission former senator Bob Graham, former Sec. of Navy John Lehman, former senator Bob Kerrey, lawyers for 9/11 families Jim Kreindler and Sean Carter, and Porter Goss who was the Republican co-chair of the House Intelligence committee and later the director of the CIA. President Obama is has a schedule visit to Saudi Arabia in 10 days. (Video)
_ The cessation of hostilities went into effect at midnight on Sunday. Shortly afterward, clashes were reported in Taiz and airstrikes by Saudi Arabia.
_ 16 US ships, including the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, that aided in Operation Tomodachi, the post-tsnami humanitarian aid operation in Japan, are still contaminated with radiation from the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant. “13 Navy and three Military Sealift Command vessels still have some signs of contamination, mostly to ventilation systems, main engines and generators.” The USS Reagan underwent two separate cleaning and decontamination operations in Puget Sound and in San Diego.
War in Syria
_ An Algerian online publication reported “Turkish and Syrian governments have been secretly conducted meetings in Algiers to discuss the federalist government the Kurdish PYD regime was promoting inside northern Syria.” Reportedly, Turkey requested the meeting to ease tensions between the countries.
_ There are reports of a large military operation building to retake Aleppo.
_ Speculation about MANPADS being used to down Syrian air force jet in Syria seems to be confirmed:
— Elijah J. Magnier (@EjmAlrai) April 8, 2016
Rockets Fired as Kerry Left Kabul on Surprise Visit to Afghanistan
_ No end date for interim unity government brokered by Sec. of State John Kerry in Afghanistan, Kerry said during a surprise visit to Kabul. The expectations were that a jirga assembly would be convened after two years. The interim ministers, who are rivals, will remain in place. There were explosions and gunshots as Kerry’s plane left the country. Two rockets exploded after he left, according to a police official. NBC says:
“The challenges in Afghanistan mirror those in Iraq. The U.S. invaded both countries over a decade ago, hoping to install stable democracies. Neither has panned out. Afghanistan’s Taliban insurgency persists; Iraq is struggling with ISIS — while sectarian and personal rivalries threaten both governments.”
Romanian hacker “Guccifer” Extradited to U.S.
_ Romanian hacker, Marcel Lehel aka Guccifer, who hacked into Sid Blumenthal’s email account, was extradited to the United States and appeared in court in Alexandria, Virginia last Tuesday. FoxNews’ “intelligence source close to the case” claims that the extradition is related to the FBI investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server and could help make the case that the server was “compromised by a third party, one that did not have the formal backing and resources of a foreign intelligence service such as that of Russia, China or Iran.” Lehel lives in a poor area of Romania. Romanian media reported that the extradition request “came on or about Dec. 29, 2015″ and the Romanian government said the request came from the FBI. Guccifer also hacked the email accounts of George W. Bush’s sister, Colin Powell and ” targeted U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski, a senior UN Official, members of the Rockefeller family, former FBI and Secret Service agents, as well as the brother of Barbara Bush, CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz, and former Miss Maine Patricia Legere.”
Iran Receives Russian Air Defense Systems
_ Iran confirmed delivery of the first shipment of Russian S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile system.
_ Andrew Bacevich: Vicious Cycle: Why it is Time for Washington to Get Out of the Middle East
_ Jim Lobe: “The Wrong Messengers for Erdogan”
_ Ibrahim Halawi: “Lebanon is not in a political stalemate, the changes are too quick to grasp.”