Spartacus on Deir Ez-Zor Express; Kerry Demands NFZ; Predator Drone Near Convoy
Next Cold War Roundup 9/21/16
The White House blames Russia for attacks on a humanitarian aid convoy. Russia denies and says a US predator drone was flying in the area at the time of the attack. Kerry called for a no-fly zone. Three “Spartacus” countries stepped up to say they may have participated in the airstrikes on Deir Ez-Zor.
UN Week continues and a televised UN Security Council meeting was contentious. Syria and Russia declared the ceasefire over after US airstrikes on the Syrian military in Deir Ez-Zor and a Nusra offensive in Aleppo, and after declaring that the US had not delivered on any of the terms. Samantha Power and Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova had a verbal battle.
UN Security Council: Kerry Calls For No-Fly Zone, Lavrov “No Unilateral Pauses”, Wants Investigation
_ At a televised (video of full session) UN Security Council session on Sep. 21 during UN week, John Kerry said (Kerry video, transcript) the only way to salvage the ceasefire for Russia and Syria to ground their planes over unspecified battle zones. Kerry used the attack on an aid convoy, (offering no evidence of responsibility) to make the claim that Russia and Syria could not live up to their obligations in the US-Russia deal.
_ Kerry said the “spoilers” are Assad, ISIS and al Nusra. The NY Times reports it as a “Middle East Moment of Truth.”
_ Kerry calls for a no-fly zone, presumably in Aleppo.
“So I believe that to restore credibility to the process, we must move forward to try to immediately ground all aircraft flying in those key areas in order to de-escalate the situation and give a chance for humanitarian assistance to flow unimpeded. And if that happens, there is a chance of giving credibility back to this process. In Geneva, Russia related that Assad was prepared to live by the cessation of hostilities and would accept the idea of not flying over agreed-upon areas. But because of what’s happened in the last few days, my friends, we have no choice but to try to do that sooner, not later […]” [Emphasis added]
_ Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at the UN Security Council meeting (video) said Russia that the aid convoy attack requires an impartial investigation instead of making emotional accusations without evidence. Russia has provided all the detailed evidence they have. There have been hundreds of ceasefire violations by rebel groups, especially by Ahrar al-Sham who refuse to agree to the ceasefire agreement and work with al Nusra and should be reconsidered for the terrorist list. Lavrov said “there will not be any unilateral pauses.” Lavrov:
“Attempts by some participants [of the talks] to put forward certain preconditions or ultimatums, to sabotage the UN Resolution 22/54, are unacceptable […] We should not give in to this blackmail. The talks must be resumed immediately.”
_ Russian ambassador Churkin said Kerry distorted Russia’s words and that “hasty accusations, which are unconfirmed by any facts, are designed, among other things, to distract attention from a strange ‘error’ made by pilots of the US- led anti-ISIS coalition on September 17.”
_ The high dudgeon today between the US and Russia continues. The Samantha Power speech, the UN Security Council battle between Kerry and Lavrov, and the statements being issued by the White House and the Syrian and Russian governments do not indicate that there will be a resolution any time soon. The volume just keeps rising.
Attack on Humanitarian Aid Convoy
“Airstrikes” on Humanitarian Aid Convoy Story Was Spread by UN “Humanitarian” Spokesman
_ After thousands of headlines and shocking stories about Syria or Russia bombing a humanitarian aid convoy, a UN humanitarian spokesman, Jens Laerke, admits he had no evidence for the attack being airstrikes after all. it must have been a “drafting error.”
Aid Convoy Brings Peace Deal to Brink of Collapse
_ Reuters: “The attack on Monday evening prompted the U.N. to suspend all aid shipments into Syria and brought the latest peace efforts to the brink of collapse.” The “airstrikes” story was yet another report that came from Syrian “activists”.
No Telltale Signs of Airstrikes
_ The Russian defense ministry studied footage of the attacks and said there were no telltale signs of airstrikes, such as craters, the type of damage to the trucks, and that the cargo had been set on fire at the same time that al Nusra (al Qaeda) launched a major offensive in Aleppo, pointing a finger at the so called rescue workers associated with al Qaeda, called the “White Helmets,” who then filmed the aftermath.
Russian defense ministry: “Only representatives of the ‘White Helmets’ organization close to the Nusra Front who, as always, found themselves at the right time in the right place by chance with their video cameras can answer who did this and why.”
Aid Convoy Attack Now Attributed to “Barrel Bombs”
_ Buzzfeed’s well known propagandist, Mike Giglio, has turned the airstrikes into the infamous “barrel bombs”. The reporting on the Syrian war in some pro-interventionist corners of western media has risen to the level of the absurd. But they keep publishing it. The “White Helmets” might even be nominated for Nobel Peace Prize.
Aid Convoy May Have Been Unofficial
_ Southfront reports that the trucks might not have been part of any official aid convoy: “There are no facts proving that the bombed convoy was authorized and inspected by the Syrian government and the UN.” In a UN Security Council meeting on Tuesday, John Kerry said it was a “fully authorized humanitarian mission near Aleppo.”
US Predator Drone in Area Near Aid Convoy Attack
_ On Wednesday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson, Igor Konashenkov, “stated that a US-led coalition drone was flying over Aleppo province when a UN humanitarian convoy was attacked in the area.” Russian FM cannot does not have the capability of doing sorties at night and Russia can provide the evidence that they did not carry out strikes against the convoy and they want an impartial investigation.
White House Says Airstrike But Offered No Evidence Yet
_ Ben Rhodes said ” all of our information indicates clearly that this was an airstrike” and the White House holds Russia responsible for airstrikes on the convoy because it was their responsibility to ground operations where humanitarian aid was flowing.
Syrian Rebels Used Humanitarian Aid Convoy As Cover to Relocate Heavy Weaponry
_ Russian defense ministry set up a drone and other monitoring cameras in Aleppo. and have now released drone footage of the humanitarian aid convoy. Footage shows a pickup truck “with a mortar” was following and riding alongside the convoy. Russian defense ministry spokesman claims that the “large-caliber mortar” was being relocated by Syrian rebel opposition, using the convoy as cover.
UN General Assembly
_ The 71st United Nations general assembly proceeds this week in New York, along with many “sideline” meetings. Syria will be a focus. On the agenda is a summit on refugees and migrants on Monday, Sep. 19.
_ On Tuesday, during UN week, John Kerry will hold a meeting of the International Syria Support Group, the foreign powers involved in the Syrian war.
_ The Syrian foreign ministry sent 2 letters to the UN Security Council and to Ban Ki-Moon about the incident. The foreign ministry was not happy with Ban Ki-Moon’s opening speech at the general assembly and issued a statement: “the Syrian people don’t need the preachment of Ban Ki-Moon who has withdrawn a report that condemns Saudi Arabia in return for some dollars.”
Deir Ez-Zor: US Coalition Attack on Syrian Army
4 Airstrikes on Long-Held Syrian Military Position
_ On Saturday, the Syrian government reported that the US coalition carried out 4 severely damaging airstrikes on a long held and well known Syrian military position south of Deir ez-Zor (Dir Al Zor, Dayr Az Zawr) by US anti-ISIS coalition fighter jets. 60-80 Syrian soldiers were killed, equipment destroyed, and more than 100 injured. The strikes caused an uproar across the Middle East.
_ Hours later, the US admitted to the airstrikes, claimed it was a mistake and said that Russia was given advance notice that strikes would be carried out in that area. US claims that as soon as Russia notified them that they were bombing the Syrian military, they stopped the mission.
_ At some point late Saturday night, CENTCOM published on their web site, the full statement that had been partially quoted earlier in a news article.
_ Operation Inherent Resolve sent out a link (via social media) to the CENTCOM statement just before midnight.
ISIS Never Held This Position, Russia Says They Weren’t Notified
_ The US CENTCOM command claims (via Defense Dept. news article) that they have bombed this position before is challenged by Middle East journalists and analysts who say that ISIS has never held this position, Al Thadah in Deir Ezzor. The Russian foreign ministry denied that Russia was informed about the airstrikes beforehand.
_ The Pentagon press secretary published a statement.
“[…] While we are still trying to determine all the facts, if we mistakenly struck a Syrian military position we regret doing so, especially the loss of lives.
As Centcom previously disclosed, the coalition aircraft conducting the mission believed they were striking ISIL forces near Dayr Az Zawr. In addition, the coalition air operations center earlier in the day notified Russian officials that coalition aircraft would be operating in that area, and no concerns were voiced at that time.”
Coalition Airstrike Report
_ Operation Inherent Resolve published their airstrikes report for Sep. 17 the following day. For Deir Ez-Zor they reported 3 airstrikes:
“Near Dayr Az Zawr, three strikes destroyed seven ISIL oil tanker trucks and damaged eight supply routes.”
ISIS Attacked Immediately After Airstrikes
_ ISIS immediately launched an offensive and advanced on the Syrian-held position bombed by the US coalition, benefiting greatly from the airstrikes, according to Russian general Savchenko.
_ Saturday evening, the Syrian commander made a public statement saying that Daesh (ISIS) had immediately capitalized on the US airstrikes. Iranian media reported that a military source said ISIS attacked within 7 minutes of the attack and the ground and air attacks were coordinated.
Russian Foreign Ministry – US is Defending ISIS
_ The Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said the US is defending ISIS:
“If previously we had suspicions that Al-Nusra Front is protected this way, now, after today’s airstrikes on the Syrian army we come to a really terrifying conclusion for the entire world: The White House is defending IS [Islamic State, formerly ISIS/ISIL] We demand a full and detailed explanation from Washington. That explanation must be given at the UN Security Council.”
NY Times: Errant Strikes Shine Light on Incoherent Strategy
_ David Sanger, Mark Mazzetti and Ben Hubbart at the New York Times (NYT): “Errant bombing of Syrian Troops Weakens U.S. Effort to Curb Violence.” They say that the US had thought the US-Syria deal would “reveal Russia’s duplicity” but instead it has exposed the White House’s “struggle to put together a coherent strategy in a multisided war” and the conflicting goals of defeating ISIS and ousting Assad. The loud calls for Assad to go have been “muted” because of fears that a “power vacuum in Damascus would be exploited by jihadists.” Russia and the Syrian government have been given a “propaganda bonanza.”
_ The detailed NYT article also repeats the claim that the US military notified the Russian military of the impending Deir ez-Zour airstrikes, a claim the Russians denied immediately after it was made. NYT cites Andrew Tabler from the War Party/Israeli lobby think tank, WINEP, suggesting the Russians were told about the strike but didn’t inform the Syrian military.
Retaliation for Shootdown of Israeli Planes?
_ FortRuss seems to reported as Russian military source and that the US airstrikes against the Syrian army may have been retaliation for Syrian military shooting down Israeli aircraft as they were bombing the Syrian military near the Golan Heights.
_ Military expert Moon of Alabama notes that on the same day the US hit the Syrian army in Deir ez-Zour, Israel conducted airstrikes in the Golan Heights, rebels in eastern Aleppo shelled the government-held side of the city, and even more troubling, on the following day, artillery fire was launched from Turkey to the Syrian province of Latakia. The Syrian Army announced that 1000 troops were deployed to Deir ez-Zor to liberate it from ISIS.
_ The Pentagon began to spin the story on Monday: “U.S May Have Killed Prisoners, Not Troops, in Syria Strike,” and Nancy Youssef dutifully reported it in the Daily Beast.
Spartacus on the Orient Express Bombed Deir Ez-Zor
_ In the days after the Deir Ez-Zor attacks, 3 more countries have stepped up and declared that they are Spartacus and might have been involved in the airstrikes on the Syrian army in Deir Ez-Zor, along with the US.
_ BBC initially reported that Royal Air force jets may have been involved. Then the UK ministry of defence said “RAF Reaper drones were involved in the weekend airstrike.” Australian and Danish jets were allegedly also involved, even though the UK and Australia don’t have F-16s, the Denmark said they would not bomb any targets in Syria, and only the US flies A-10s.
_ Military expert and analyst Moon of Alabama (MoA) believes this is a ruse to make it more difficult to hold the US accountable for the attack: “Obviously someone in a U.S. command phoned up U.S. allies and asked them to please share the blame for the ‘mistaken’ U.S. air support for the ISIS ground attack: ‘If all are guilty, no one is guilty and no one can be punished.'” MoA compares the situation to the multiple culprits from the “Murder on the Orient Express” plot.
_ Al Masdar News reports that even some anti-Assad mainstream news in Australia do not believe the strikes were an accident.
Emergency UN Security Council Meeting
_ Russia called an emergency UN Security Council meeting for Saturday night, on the eve of the opening of UN week as world leaders arrive in New York for the UN general assembly.
Samantha Power vs. Maria Zakharova
_ Ria Novosti reported Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s statement after the airstrikes:
“We are reaching a really terrifying conclusion for the whole world: That the White House is defending Islamic State. Now there can be no doubts about that.”
“Russia really needs to stop the cheap point scoring and the grandstanding and the stunts and focus on what matters, which is the implementation of something we negotiated in good faith with them.”
“Indeed, the Russian spokesperson, I believe, came out and thought somehow that we were complicit and that we were even trying to protect ISIL. Really? … This is serious for us; it is not a game. And that spokesperson who suggested complicity really should be embarrassed […]”
“Dear Samantha Power, in order to know the meaning of the word ’embarrassed,’ I highly encourage you to travel to Syria and talk to the people there for yourself. And by that I do not mean the Al-Nusra Front militants, nor the moderate opposition, whose humanitarian situation Washington seems to be so worried about. I likewise am not referring to the Western warriors for justice for Syria. I’m referring to the actual people that continue to live there in spite of the bloody experiment that has been waged on their homeland for over six years, with active participation by Washington.”
“Let’s go there together [Zakharova offers to pay for the trip] Do say yes. Don’t be frightened. Nobody will lay a finger on you in my presence. Unless, of course, your guys don’t again ‘mistakenly’ strike the wrong target. You’ll make lots of new memories. And find out what ‘embarrassed’ means in the process.”
_ John Kerry went on cable news shows on Sunday, the morning after Samantha Power’s disastrous speech at the UN, and echoed the same message. He told Russia to stop “grandstanding” and accused them of not pushing Assad hard enough and allowing him to “go after opposition, pretending that they are Nusra.” Kerry blamed Assad for the faltering deal and repeatedly has blamed him for the humanitarian aid that can’t get through until there is calm.
Ceasefire in Syria; US-Russia Deal
_ Military Times: “U.S. military commanders are ‘pissed off’ about the mission creep in Syria” (the mission creep created by the US-Russia deal).
_ At a Sep. 17 Putin press conference (transcript):
“We see attempts to regroup among these terrorists, to switch one label for another, one name for another and keep their military capacity. [Washington] “
_ Over the weekend, the Russian foreign ministry said the ceasefire and the whole US-Russia deal is in jeopardy, and urged Washington to exert the needed pressure on “on the illegal armed groups under its patronage” to implement the ceasefire unconditionally. Some of the biggest and most extreme rebel groups have rejected the deal and the groups held a conference last week and issued demands. The airstrikes are getting widespread coverage in western media.
_ “For any real peace agreement in Syria to last, Turkey, Russia and the US must strike a deal on the Kurds.” (Source: Kurdistan24)
_ Southfront considers the ceasefire “collapsed” as of Sep. 19, tha al Nusra launched an offensive in south Aleppo and that the Syrian and Russian air forces responded by resuming airstrikes and “up to 120 airstrikes have been conducted since the collapse of ceasefire.”
_ On Wednesday, the White House (via Ben Rhodes) blamed Russia for the failure of the ceasefire and is “significantly concerned by the complete failure to demonstrate good faith on the Russian side” but said the ISSG group is looking for a way for the ceasefire to continue. Rhodes said the military cooperation between the US and Russia, widely reported to be protested by the Sec. of Defense, is on hold for now and if the ceasefire isn’t resumed “clearly we will not be able to move forward with the terms of the agreement.”
_ Analysts said the US is “desperately pumping humanitarian smokescreen for failing Syria ceasefire” and the US is lying about “seeking a genuine ceasefire.”
_ On Monday, the Syrian government media reported that the general command of the Syrian armed forces declared that the ceasefire was over and that the “terrorist” rebel groups did not adhere to any of the ceasefire terms.
_ Southfront reports that Syrian government declared the ceasefire over after the Russian military said on Sep. 19 that “there is no reason for the Syrian government forces to observe the ceasefire, unilaterally” when ” United States and US-backed opposition groups have not met any of the commitments of the agreements.”
Russia Deploys Aircraft Carrier to Mediterranean
_ Russia announced that their only aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, will be deployed to the eastern Mediterranean Sea and will join “at least six warships and three or four support vessels from all fleets” already there. In July, Russian media TASS “issued similar reports”.
Operation Euphrates Shield
_ In northern Aleppo, Turkish-backed “rebels” took 2 more ISIS-held towns, Qantarah and Tathumus, with no opposition from ISIS, according to war correspondent Eljah Magnier.
Raqqa and Mosul
_ Pro-Erdogan Turkish media, Yeni Safak, claims that Turkey (using FSA as ground troops) will take Raqqa and Mosul from ISIS, with air support from Turkey and the NATO, and funding from Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
“Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United States will launch an operation against the Daesh terrorists in Mosul and Raqqa […] The details of the operation became definite during the G20 Summit […] final details will be determined during the United Nations (UN) Summit to be held in New York between September 13 and 20..”
_ Iraqi security analyst Haidar Sumeri believes that “if Erdogan makes a Euphrates Shield-type move towards Mosul then a direct confrontation between Turkey and Iraq’s forces is guaranteed.”
_ Turkish media Yeni Safak (very pro-Erdogan) reported that “Ankara says Manbij should be under control of local forces as the city is critical for any possible operation to liberate Raqqa from the Daesh terrorists.” This seems to confirm that Turkey plans to participate in the battle for Raqqa.
Which FSA Rebel Groups Threatened US Special Forces?
_ As we reported in Friday’s Next Cold War Roundup, US and Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army rebels threatened to slaughter US special operations forces as they joined the Turkish coalition in Operation Euphrates Shield (the Turkish military intervention in the Syrian war), to clear border areas of ISIS militants in Syria. The US mission was named Operation Noble Lance.
_ Abdullah Bozkurt: “In the video, rebels from Nour al-Din al-Zenki, Jaish al-Tahrir, Hamza division, Sham Front, & Sultan Murat Brigade protest US troops.”
_ Elijah Magnier: “Al-Hamza FSA brigade and Div51 forced the US out of Al-Raei.”
_ Guardian story says the US troops who entered al-Rai were attacked by the rebel group “Ahrar al-Shariya group, who originally came from Deir ez-Zor” and the US troops had previously fought alongside Kurdish forces who clashed with the rebel group elsewhere. The coalition of Turkish troops, US troops and “Arab militias backed by Ankara” were planning to advance to al-Bab, via Dabiq. Dabiq is the town that ISIS believes is the “preordained site of a showdown between Muslims and Christians that will eventually lead to the apocalypse.”
_ ISIS uses as propaganda the prophecy from the hadith on the apocalypse which says the “infidel hordes” will come to Dabiq, which leads to Armageddon or “malahim”.
_ Syrian government media reported that a Syrian fighter jet “fell down” during a mission against ISIS “to the east of Qalamoun area in Damascus Countryside.” The pilot was rescued. ISIS claimed that they shot down the plane. “Local reports said the MIG-21 was downed using a 23mm anti-aircraft gun” while it was flying at low altitude.
American Flags Flying in Syria, Reports that Turkey Fired on US Troops
_ In last Friday’s Next Cold War Roundup, we reported that American flags had controversially shown up on some buildings in northern Syria.
_ Pro-Erdogan media Yeni Safak reported on Saturday, just 2 days after 4 American flags were hoisted over a building in the northern Syria border city of Tal Abyad, that some of the flags have been taken down and Turkey “demands that the U.S. and its terror ally, PYD/PKK, evacuate the city of Manbij and pull back their forces to the east side of the Euphrates.” Yeni Safak described the location as the “the village of Rafe, north of the liberated city of Manbij, 25 kilometers (15 miles) from the west bank of the Euphrates River.”
_ Kurdish media, Kurdistan24, said on Friday that its correspondents in Kurdish-controlled town of Tal Abyad (aka Gire Spi in Kurdish), reported that “US military units” who ‘allegedly belonged to US Marines’ had entered the town in about 15 SUVs and “raised flags on many public buildings, including on the border with Turkey.” The US troops reportedly raised “many US flags” along the Syrian-Turkish border in the village of Munbatih, which is on the outskirts of Tal Ayad/Gire Spi. A Kurdish official said the US troops were deployed there to monitor the Turkish troops movements and they reportedly met with the governing council of Tal Abyad/Gire Spi.
_ Kurdistan24 cited a Turkish media (Hurriyet) report that Dept. of Defense sources told them Turkey had fired at the US soldiers as they hoisted the flag, but there is no link to the source and we could not locate it via a news search.
_ On Friday, Sep. 15, the day after the flags were reported, Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said he wasn’t aware of the situation in Tel Abyad, but implied that American flag raising by Kurds had happened in the past, and called on “our partner forces not to fly the American flag on their own.”
_ On Sep. 20, the Pentagon finally confirmed that the flags were put there by American troops. CENTCOM spokesman told HuffingtonPost: “I can confirm last week that U.S. forces operating in northern Syria used flags to denote their positions.”
Al Qaeda on Mainstream Media
_ Al Nusra’s (Al Qaeda in Syria, now rebranded as Jabhat Fateh/Fath al-Sham, JFS) commander has been given the opportunity to speak on at least 2 mainstream media channels recently: Al Jazeera broadcast an interview with Nusra’s commander (and former ISIS) Al-Jolani (Joulani). BBC Newsnight broadcast an “in-depth” interview (in perfect English) with Nusra’s “Director of Foreign Media Relations,” Mostafa Mahamed, and he tweeted (in English) links to it to promote it.
_ In the BBC interview, the narrator mentions that Nusra (he calls it JFS) has “officially severed ties with al Qaeda,” even though the Pentagon and US government has not bought into the rebranding and still refers to them as Nusra or al Qaeda.
_ During the Al Jazeera interview, Jolani said the Syrian people and rebels don’t want food aid. Middle East journalist Hala Jaber said it’s easy for a chieftain to say they don’t want food because he has access to it, but it’s the people he claims to be speaking for who suffer. There have been numerous reports, including on the street interviews with civilians who escaped rebel-held areas saying that rebels seized humanitarian aid, kept what they wanted, and sold food to civilians at exorbitant prices in areas under siege. It has also been common for rebels to overstate the number of civilians in the besieged areas, so it’s likely that when humanitarian aid got through, the amounts were for a larger number of people than were actually there.
Israel, Golan, Lebanon and Palestine
_ In June, according to The Times of Israel, Israel’s defense minister, Moshe Ya’alon, publicly admitted that Israel was aiding al Qaeda rebels in Syria, with the understanding that they “don’t get too close to the border and that they don’t touch the Druze [on Israel’s side of the Golan].” This has caused major problems between the Druze and Israel who protest Israel’s support for al Qaeda and who attacked an Israeli ambulance carrying wounded Syrian rebels. Also in June, Ya’alon was replaced by a new, more hardline defense minister, Soviet-born (Moldova) Avigdor Lieberman, after his party joined the government coalition.
_ War correspondent Elijah Magnier wrote an article about how “Israel is pushing jihadist and rebels toward Lebanon to engage Hezbollah, and Moscow warned Tel Aviv” and the missiles fired by the Syrian military were the first part of that warning. Magnier reports from a “decision maker” source in that area that the goal of the joint rebel-Israeli operation is to create a secure zone in southern Syria which would extend to Beit Jann and allow attacks on Hezbollah and the eventual occupation of the Sheba area in Lebanon.
_ In an interview on the Scott Horton show, lawyer and Middle East expert Stanley Cohen said that “90% of the West Bank is either de facto or de jure annexed right now in violation of international law. There are 800,000, illegal, so called settlers, living in the West Bank. Less than 10% of the West Bank is under control (and that’s even illusory) of the Palestinian Authority. I do not believe there’s a snowball’s chance in hell of two-state resolution. I think it’s either going to end up being a one-state or a binational state resolution.” He said that he sees an apartheid there that is worse than South Africa, and that Israel will have legal problems as people will not just sit by and watch this happen. He thinks there will be formal investigation by the International Criminal Court and that the BDS movement will continue to grow.
_ Ben Caspit at Al-Monitor, Yakov Hirsch at Mondoweiss, and Uri Avnery at Anti-War.com wrote stories about the internal conflict in Israel, going as far as to say civil war is brewing between the Left and the Right. The “trial of Sergeant Elor Azaria for the killing of a Palestinian lying incapacitated on the street in Hebron last March” is the issue that has brought things to a head. A war between Israel’s PM Netanyahu and former military and intelligence officers has broken out, over the self destruction and trajectory of Israel. Stanley Cohen recalls a report that said half the homes in the West Bank settlements are empty during the winter and are basically summer condos in the Holy Land. At this time of year, according to Cohen, you can observe significant numbers of Hasidic Jews at the New York airports, returning with their families to begin the school year.
_ Right Sector rioting outside the Russian consulate in Odessa were also attacking police.
_ Hillary Clinton met with Ukraine president Poroshenko and vowed to stand with Ukraine against Russian aggression and they discussed “‘Russia’s broader attempts to weaken Europe and destabilize its periphery.'”
Analysis and Opinion
_ New York Times editorial board: “The Afghan War Quagmire.” The editorial reminds that in 2008 Pres Obama promised to “wind down” the war in Iraq and double down on Afghanistan and notes that there has been no debate in 2016 on the issue of our longest war and the next administration must carry out a “top-to-bottom review of the war, one that unflinchingly addresses fundamental questions” because the current strategy has only offered “good intentions, wishful thinking and ever-worsening results.”
_ Sharmine Narwani, Middle East analyst: “From religion to politics, Saudi Arabia feeling chill of isolation.”
_ New York Times op-ed by Vli R. Nasr, the dean of Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies: “A Russian-Iranian Axis.” Nasr says this new military axis could “upset hopes for stability in the Middle East, and for containing Russia’s global ambitions.” Nasr says the US and Russia “are nowhere near a new Cold War.” Many would disagree. He also mentions that Russia might establish naval bases in the Persian Gulf. What he doesn’t mention is that Russia’s navy and military overall are tiny compared with the United States and NATO. The same is true of their economy. In the end, Nasr recommends that the US end the Syrian war and help Iran make economic gains promised by the Iran deal but in exchange force Iran to deny Russia any foothold (“soil or ports”) in Iran.
_ Nassim Nicholas Taleb on the members of the intelligentsia who can’t find a coconut on Coconut Island: “The Intellectual Yet Idiot.”