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Morell: US Should Kill Iranians and Russians in Syria; Trump Was Recruited by Putin

Next Cold War 8/9/16

Syrian rebels, led by al Nusra (aka al Qaeda aka Fatah al-Sham) reversed the siege situation in Aleppo as part of a long-planned and major offensive heavily supplied by foreign powers. There are some curious reports and contradictions about the extent of the involvement of Turkey, where Erdogan is in the midst of repairing relations with Russia, and where Russia, Iran and Turkey are holding high level meetings. There’s an odd story about a journalist and/or spy captured in Syria and a rescue operation. The former acting CIA director and strong Hillary Clinton supporter, Michael Morell, did a Charlie Rose interview where he laid out some plans to escalate tensions with Iran and Russia. Wars and the 2016 election are increasingly becoming intertwined in the same narratives.

Morell Tells Charlie Rose US Should Kill Iranians and Russians in Syria, Trump has been “recruited by Putin”

_ The former acting CIA director who recently endorsed Hillary Clinton and accused Donald Trump of being a foreign agent told Charlie Rose in an interview on Aug. 8 that he wants Iran and Russia to “pay a price” in Syria. He recommends plans for covertly killing Russian and Iranian personnel in Syria by directing CIA-backed rebels. He also says he wants to bomb “things that Assad needs to survive” and let Assad know that “this is not going to end well for him.” Morell mentioned Assad’s presidential plane, offices and presidential guard. On the killings, Morell says we “don’t tell the world about it”  but make sure Moscow and Tehran know it.

_ Morell told Charlie Rose that he resigned from a CBS job and some boards in order to do a strong endorsement of Hillary Clinton because he felt that Trump would be a threat to our national security and because he thinks “some of the perceptions that are out there about her are just not true” and he wanted to speak out about them.  He says there are many people who share his view but are afraid to speak out.  He said he wants Trump to denounce Putin’s “military incursion into Ukraine,” “denounce Putin’s annexation of Crimea,” “Putin’s assistance to rebels in eastern Ukraine that resulted in the shootdown of the Malaysian airliner,” “renounce what Putin is doing in Syria, supporting a butcher and a dictator,” “stand up and denounce Putin.” Putin would have more respect for Trump if he did this, advised Morell.

_ Morell repeated the accusation that Trump is an “unwitting agent of the Federation. He’s been recruited by Putin. That’s why he’s taken the positions he’s taken.” [Emphasis added]

Conflicting Reports on Turkish Support for Syrian Rebels 

_ Erika Solomon at the Financial Times has an expose on “outside help” for the long-planned rebel offensive on Aleppo which was being prepared as John Kerry went along with the peace talks in Geneva. Today the offensive is beng hailed as a “stunning success for ragtag forces” that was “masterminded” by al Qaeda (aka al Nusra aka Fatah al-Sham aka Fateh al-Sham).  Solomon provides this understatement: “But the offensive against President Bashar al-Assad’s troops may have had more foreign help than it appears;”. Solomon says, and backs up with an anonymous quote from a western diplomat, that the fact that the offensive was led by al Nusra was known by US officials but they “turned a blind eye” because they wanted the opposition to “maintain a foothold in Aleppo” and put pressure on Russia.

_ Solomon quotes anonymous rebels saying that the cash and heavy weapons, artillery, ammunition and supplies has been flowing across the Turkish border daily, for weeks, from regional backers. She also quotes an “opposition figure based in Turkey” saying that a lot of money was paid to the rebel groups to coerce them into working together.  A military analyst source who studied videos of rebel artillery strikes of the offensive said : “That is not a crappy rebel group. That’s a well-trained force.”

_ Solomon weaves a narrative about how the foreign backers grew impatient with the peace talks, cites the August 1 Assad “transition” deadline mentioned by John Kerry a few months ago, and claims that Moscow ignored the deadline and instead the US and Russia were discussing a plan to jointly attack al Nusra and ISIS. This narrative is weak because we know that large US arms shipments were flowing in thru Jordan since December and January and that arms and fighters flowed throughout the talks.

_ Solomon wraps up the article with a quote from an exiled Syrian “activist” from the “Raqqa is Being Slaughtered Silently” group. This group documents ISIS atrocities but in the quote the activist talks about how the terrorists are the ‘saviours of the people of Aleppo.’ The activist doesn’t mention that the vast majority of the people of Aleppo live in the government-held side of Aleppo who are shelled regularly by these “saviors” or that civilians on the rebel-held side testified that they were prevented from leaving. But even without that omission, it’s easy to see how the opposition and their boosters are having a really difficult time crafting a story that will resonate with the public in the West about the “stunning success” of the jihadi offensive in Aleppo. As a Syria analyst said: “A siege was lifted on 40k in East Aleppo and now 1 million are in danger of Al-Qaeda jihadist taking over their city.” The reports of 300,000 people in rebel-held East Aleppo are false. Multiple western journalists have reported from there and said the number is in the low tens of thousands.

_ The reports from Financial Times sources about strong Turkish support for the rebel offensive in Aleppo contradict other reports about a slowdown in the flow due to obstruction by Turkey. Moon of Alabama does a long analysis of this contradiction and the possible games being played (post-coup attempt) to confuse Syria, to interfere with the Turkish foreign policy pivot and high level talks between Turkey and Russia, Iran and Russia.

US Rescue at Turkish Border

_ Hurriyet reports that a  female US intelligence agent was wounded in Syria on Aug. 3 and called for evacuation from a location in the Turkmen Mountains in northwest Syria. A US search & rescue operation began on Aug. 5. Turkish army gave permission for the US to operate 2 US drones armed with Hellfire missiles “ as a precaution against possible Syrian troops in the region near the agent” and 2 helicopters which “were on standby on the Turkish side of the border” in the Yayladagi district of Hatay province. The “agent and U.S. officials were unable to meet” and she approached the border on Aug. 7 where Turkish border guards later delivered her to the US officials nearby. She was then taken to Incirlik Air Base.

_ A female video journalist, Lindsey Snell, who does work for various news organizations including VICE and Vocativ tweeted on Aug. 5 that she had escaped from Al Nusra (al Qaeda) prisons, and she noted that it was odd that they let her keep her phone and tweet from their prisons.

_ Later the two stories were connected with reports that the rescued woman was Lindsey Snell. The irony is that her reporting has allegedly been pro-al Nusra.  Moon of Alabama adds that she works for Vocativ, which he calls “basically U.S./Israeli spy shop mascarading as new media.”

_ A Turkish daily, “controlled by the Erdogan family,” reported that “Snell Lindsteyler” was jailed on charges of illegal border crossing. There’s something very odd about this story.

Anti-ISIS Airstrikes in Raqqa

_ Four Danish fighter jets conducted airstrikes from Incirlik Air Base targeting “ISIL command and control facilities” and “had also targeted weapons stocks and enemy personnel” in Raqqa. The Danish jets have been stationed at the Turkish base since June but this was their first combat mission.

Turkey’s Foreign Policy Pivot

_ On the eve of his visit to Russia in an interview with Russian media TASS, Turkish President Erdogan says he wants to reset relations with Russia, and “repeatedly referred to Putin as ‘dear’ or ‘respected’ Vladimir and called him a friend […] “A new page will be opened in Russo-Tukish ties. This new page will include military, economic and cultural cooperation.”

_ A Financial Times article cites rebels and activists saying that trucks full of arms and supplies for al Qaeda and rebels continue to flow across the Turkish border. Russia is bombing these jihadis.

_ Hurriyet article explains who was involved in the shuttle diplomacy that led to the apology letter and improvement in relations between Erdogan and Putin. The letter was first delivered to Putin at a Shanghai Cooperation summit in Uzbekistan.  The people involved were Turkish businessman Cavit Caglar, Turkey’s Chief of General Staff Gen. Akar, Putin advisor Ushakov, Dagestani president Abdulatipov, and Kazakhstan president Nazarbayev.

_ EU is pressuring Turkey. The Danish ruling said Turkey should be removed from the list of EU candidate countries. “The red line is crossed for what should be a minimum for an EU candidate country.” Austria’s foreign minister “threatened to block EU negotiations with Turkey.” They cite Erdogan’s undemocratic initiatives and his consideration of the death penalty for coup conspirators.

Rumors of Partition of Syria

_ A pro-Syrian opposition Georgetown School of Foreign Service graduate student and Bellingcat contributor (therefore take with a big grain of salt) says the rumor is that northern Syria will go to Turkey

Persian Gulf – Black Sea Transportation Corridor

_ Pepe Escobar reports that Iran has been busy building a transportation corridor from the Persian Gulf, through the Black Sea, and into Europe.

“Iran, among other development matters, is busy planning a new transportation corridor from the Persian Gulf to the Black Sea, connecting to Armenia, Georgia and Bulgaria, and positioning the nation as a key trade hub connecting the Arab world in the south and west; Central Asia in the north; and Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east, all the way to Europe. Once again, Eurasian integration on the move.”


_ Ukraine army may incorporate neo-fascist Right Sector militia which is now accepting Chechen fighters who claim to have trained with ISIS.

War and Elections

_ Russian media ran an opinion piece about Stephen Cohen’s 7/30 CNN appearance on 7/31, focusing on the point that the Clinton campaign is using their McCarthyite smears to drown out Trump’s anti-Cold War message: “Is Trump Trying to Prevent a New Cold War?”

_ Former British diplomat Alastair Crooke has an important article, “Stalling Obama’s Overtures to Russia,” on the underlying dynamics of the Syrian war, the new Cold War, and the ‘Trump is a foreign agent’ assertions in the 2016 election. Crooke says that “Washington’s foreign policy mavens” are “thwarting President Obama’s moves to work with Russia to resolve the Syrian war.” He quotes CIA director John Brennan and Sec. Defense Ash Carter reviving the ‘Assad must go’ meme, and says they represent the US Establishment who wants to “keep the Syria war going until (they hope) Hillary takes office” and to nurture the new Cold War so that the “options to maintain America’s traditional foreign policy the way it is are not foreclosed to her on taking office.” Crooke explains that rapprochement with Putin could “collapse America’s entire foreign policy,” NATO, the “rules-based global order,” and even the “presently shaky, U.S.-led, global financial order and governance,” all of which now depend on the Russian threat. Crooke cautions that the whole ‘Trump is Putin’s tool’ meme “is not some whimsical campaign gig — it is deadly serious.” It’s also dangerous and few are willing to say this “for fear of being labelled Putin’s ‘useful idiots,’ too.” [Emphasis added]

The commentary by Professor Cohen also raises another important question whether Trump, even with all of his truculent rhetoric, is the reckless candidate that is sacrificing America’s safety and security as is often portrayed in Western media outlets or is it, in fact, Hillary Clinton who is playing politics with the country and the world’s leading diplomatic and defense crisis imperiling the lives of millions for the hope of securing a handful of extra votes.”

_ Pepe Escobar analyzes the expected war plans of a Hillary Clinton White House, based on the CNAS think tank “Extending American Power” plan laid out by Michele Flournoy in May. He also cites some of his sources, news of a Saudi visit to Israel, and Erdogan’s apparent post-coup attempt pivot toward Russia and Iran. Escobar believes the US will attack the common Saudi-Israeli enemy first — Iran.

_ Micah Zenko believes that Hillary is looking forward to being a war president. I think most would agree: “Hillary the Hawk: A History.”

_ Journalist and media critic, Carl Beijer, writes about “The blatant racism of liberal Russophobia” after Carnegie Endowment for International Peace vice president Andrew S. Weiss launched the latest McCarthyite smear on a political foe. Beijer warns that “Liberals may be comfortable with shrugging off racism against the Russian people as a trivial or necessary evil, but they are playing with fire” because these forces are “hard to reign in once they’ve been unleashed” and can “metastasize into forms of bigotry that are even more widespread and oppressive.”

Joanne Leon

Joanne Leon

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