US troops, tanks, and artillery arrived in Poland. More Marines will deploy to Afghanistan. JSOC conducted a raid in Deir Ezzor and ISIS launched a major offensive. MSM unleashed a “dodgy dossier” of #FakeNews on Trump who is at war with the Deep State. And more in our global war news roundup…
Syria: JSOC Raid on the Euphrates Near Deir Ezzour
_ Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC)-controlled Expeditionary Targeting Force, which is the “Pentagon’s special operations force charged with gathering information about Islamic State group,” conducted a raid on “focused on [Islamic State group] leadership” near Deir Ezzour on Jan. 8. Sec. Carter described this JSOC group in December, 2015 as “a group of about 200 Iraq-based commandos tasked with conducting raids, freeing hostages, gathering intelligence and capturing Islamic State leaders.” (Stars & Stripes)
_ A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis, said news reports of 25 ISIS militants killed was “grossly exaggerated.” He also denied reports from Syrian news that some ISIS fighters were arrested and captured in the raid, and hostages released.
_ A member of the “Iraqi Facilitators Network” reported that US special operations forces killed Abu Anas al-Iraqi, the ISIS finance minister, “head of beit al-Mal,” in Deir Ezzor.
_ At The Intercept, Matthew Cole published a long form article on “The Crimes of Seal Team 6,” where he tells the “never previously reported” story of Operation Bull, in the early days of the post-9/11 war in Afghanistan and other insider stories uncovered during his investigation. Cole spent 2 years interviewing 18 current and former members of SEAL Team 6 and other military and intelligence officials. Most SEALS did not commit any atrocities but the “problem was persistent and recurrent” after 9/11 and the “command has proven to be incapable and unwilling to hold itself accountable for war crimes.”
Syria: Deir Ezzor
_ ISIS launched an attack on the enclave held by Syrian forces in Deir Ezzor, successfully splitting their territory and surrounding them and cutting off supply routes. The Syrian forces suffered significant losses over the weekend and the fighting in Deir Ezzor is the most intensive seen in an year. The Syrian army is defending about 150,000 civilians in Deir Ezzor and holding a military base.
Iraq: Army Advancing Rapidly in Mosul
_ The Iraqi army is advancing rapidly in Mosul and is now within “now within striking distance of Saddam Hussein’s Presidential Palace in Mosul; this is the first time in nearly two-and-a-half years that the government forces have seen this site.”
_ Kevin Baron of Defense One recalls many conversations with troops and officers at a US military base without a name in Erbil. They helped formulate and want to continue the Obama Doctrine, in which the US and coalition military forces fight ISIS “by, with, and through local forces,” and at a “patient” pace. Baron noted that the covert base at Kurdistan International Airport is growing into a permanent base and “it seems the U.S. military is in Iraq to stay.” Temporary quarters “are being replaced with permanent buildings” to accommodate “American forces — including special operators, CIA agents, and private military contractors.” The troops also include “Germans, Italians, Finns, and Brits.”
Syria: Government Forces in Wadi Barada
_ After previous sabotaged attempts, the “town elders of Al-Husseniyah negotiated a deal with the Syrian Arab Army after the jihadist rebels refused to end the violence plaguing the Wadi Barada area” where a battle over critical water sources continues. The Syrian army was allowed to raise a flag and set up checkpoints. There are still some jihadi forces in the area who, according to the Syrian government, killed a Syrian army general sent by Damascus to negotiate in the latest round of talks on Saturday night. The opposition forces deny killing him.
Syria: Israeli Missile and Air Strike on Syrian Air Base Near Damascus
_ Israel launched missiles into Syria from the Lake Tiberias area in northern Israel, damaging a “crucial military facility.” The Mezzeh air base is “located west of Damascus, just 5 kilometers from the Presidential Palace.” Syria’s Republican Guard and special forces are housed at the base which was hit around midnight on Thursday/Friday.
_ Journalists on the ground report air strikes as well as missile strikes. Some said that both Israel and the Syrian opposition were attacking at the same time.
_ More than 100,000 people under siege by ISIS for years now have depended on air drops of food and aid from the World Food Program (WFP) with permission from the Syrian government. WFP just announced: “We have put on hold the air drop operation in Deir Ezzor for security operational reasons […] There is heavy fighting ongoing in and around the landing zone… It is simply too dangerous to do this now.””
Afghanistan: More Marines Deployed to Helmand
_ 300 Marines from Camp LeJeune will deploy to Helmand province in Afghanistan to “advise and assist” the Afghan forces struggling against the Taliban, which controls 85% of the province now (a year ago controlled 20%). Helmand is the province where most of the poppies for heroin are grown. Marines left this province in Afghanistan as part of Pres. Obama’s promised 2014 withdrawal. Some of the 300 Marines have been deployed here before and some will stay at Camp Leatherneck, which was turned over to the Afghan forces in 2014.
United States: Latest “Dirty Dossier” Stunt By Media & US Intelligence on Trump “Collapsing Like a Paper Bag in the Rain”
_ State Dept. veteran, Peter Van Buren, who was retaliated against after writing a book criticizing reconstruction projects in Iraq, notes that the latest stunt against President-elect Trump by the US intelligence community leaders, has “collapsed like a paper bag in the rain.” A senior intelligence official told NBC that the salacious opposition research “addendum” to the dossier used in the alleged Russian hack briefing last week was not given to Trump, nor was it included in the oral briefing.
_ Numerous US media outlets, CNN, and 3 big name byline journos in the New York Times claimed that the “chiefs of America’s intelligence agencies last week presented” both Pres. Obama and Pres.-elect Trump “with a summary of unsubstantiated reports that Russia had collected compromising and salacious personal information about Mr. Trump.”
_ Trump reacted by blaming the intelligence agencies for leaking the “fake news” addendum to the classified dossier and by saying on Twitter: “Are we living in Nazi Germany?” The Kremlin spokesman denied the claim that Russian didn’t have the alleged compromising information on Trump and called the story a “fake information, a fabrication and complete nonsense […] This is called pulp fiction.”
_ The name of the former British spy who prepared the “dirty dossier,” Christopher David Steele, was revealed, but he was given time to flee his home in Surrey and go into hiding before the revelation, according to the Telegraph. Steele is the co-founder of Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd. and was hired by a firm in Washington first by Trump’s Republican enemies and then by Democrats backing Hillary Clinton, who “shopped it to the media.”
_ Things are stirred up over this in Britain as well. British intelligence are helping Steele hide. Nigel Farage says they shouldn’t help him. And the BBC’s security correspondent, Frank Gardiner, claimed that the dodgy dossier wasn’t so dodgy when it was written and didn’t have the bad spelling and “ludicrous scenarios,” suggesting that “it woz the Yanks wot rewrit it,” according to an account of the BBC reporting from a commenter at Sic Semper Tyrannis. British media headlines refer to the whole affair as the4″dirty dossier.”
_ The Telegraph reports that Whitehall and Downing St. were aware of the dossier. The Russian embassy in London tweeted that Christopher Steele still works for MI6. Just days ago, Russia claimed they knew of ‘an impending official anti-Russian witch-hunt, involving the British special services’.
_ MI6 chiefs are distancing themselves from Christopher Steele, The Sun tabloid reported, according to anonymous sources. One senior intelligence source called him an idiot.
_ Early on, The Guardian reported that well known uber-hawk Senator John McCain “passed documents to the FBI director […] alleging secret contacts between the Trump campaign and Moscow and that Russian intelligence had personally compromising material on the president-elect himself.” McCain “was informed about the existence of the documents separately by an intermediary from a western allied state, dispatched an emissary overseas to meet the source” and gave the document to FBI director Comey on Dec. 9.
_ McCain wants a special select Senate committee to be formed to investigate Trump campaign connections to the Kremlin. If he can’t get that he says he will use the Armed Services committee that he chairs and other committees will investigate too. On Thursday, during a confirmation hearing for Gen. Mattis as Sec. Defense, McCain told Mattis that Vladimir Putin “will never be our partner.”
_ DNI James Clapper issued a public statement reporting that he had called Trump and denounced the media leaks as “extremely corrosive and damaging to our national security,” said he believed that the intelligence community (IC) had not leaked the material to the media, that Congress had these materials before the IC, expressed his “profound dismay” and assured Trump that “America’s spies stand ready to serve him.”
_ Russian studies expert Stephen Cohen told Tucker Carlson on FoxNews that this is the “endgame in the last chapter in an attempt to destroy Trump’s presidency,” but considering the numerous post-election attempts to prevent Trump from taking office, a week is a long time and there are likely to be more.
_ CIA’s mouthpiece at the Washington Post, David Ignatius, published an op-ed on Jan. 12, laced with Hamlet quotes and analogies, … something rotten in the state of Denmark… as if anyone needs to be hit over the head with Shakespeare quotes to realize there’s something very wrong. He says the FBI had the dodgy dossier in September, their investigation is still open, and it would be scandalous to close it. Ignatius then gets to the point, and cites an anonymous “senior U.S. government official” saying retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn has had contact with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak “several times” and may have “undercut” the sanctions Pres. Obama aimed at Russia and/or discouraged “counter-retaliation.” In his last “question” Ignatius asks if the Russians “fed the former MI6 officer’s controversial dossier deliberately, to sow further chaos.” In other words, the purpose of the op-ed was to cast doubt on and warn Flynn, and to try to shift blame onto Russia for CIA blunders that backfired on them
_ In an update, Ignatius says the Trump campaign told him that Flynn offered condolences for the killing of the Russian ambassador in Turkey and for the “shoot-down of a Russian plane carrying a choir to Syria.” It’s interesting that Ignatius described it as a “shoot-down.” The cause of the crash is yet to be determined by the Russian defense ministry. The update also revealed that a Trump official said the Russian ambassador invited them to a “conference” in Kazakhstan, likely the Syrian peace talks. [Emphasis added]
_ Ignatius did appearances on PBS News Hour with the same messaging, and on MSNBC, during which an audio glitch caused him to repeat the word “Russia Russia Russia” over and over until MSNBC cut the feed.
United States: Intel Veterans Reiterate Emails Were Leaked, Not Hacked
_ Ray McGovern and Bill Binney wrote an op-ed, published by the Baltimore Sun on Jan. 10, reasserting that the DNC and Podesta emails were leaked, not hacked.
United States: Heroin Overdose Deaths Doubled Since War in Afghanistan
_ Drug overdose deaths in the United States have doubled between 1999 and 2014, with the majority of deaths involving an opioid, increasingly heroin. And since 2014, the number of overdose deaths has only continued increasing, with 47,000 deaths in 2014, and 52,000 in 2015. Between 2002 and 2015, heroin overdose deaths in the US increased by a steep “6.2 fold.” These happen to be the years during which the US military has been fighting in Afghanistan, whose poppy production “accounts for more than 90 percent of the world’s heroin.” [Emphasis added]
GRAPHIC: Drug overdose deaths in the United States, 1999 and 2014.
(Source: The Guardian) pic.twitter.com/GwgWeKwnsG
— The Int'l Spectator (@spectatorindex) January 9, 2017
Cuba: Flurry of Small Deals Put in Place Before Trump Takes Office
_ Cuba and foreign partners began drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and there are concerns that the US would not be able to participate in oil spill responses because of remaining sanctions. An “oil spill pact” was signed by the Obama administration and the Cuban government to “prepare joint disaster plans, test them and train personnel, among other measures.” This is one of “a flurry of small deals in recent weeks” being put in place before the Trump administration takes control, since Trump “has threatened to scrap a still-fragile detente between the two countries unless Cuba makes further political and economic concessions.”
Brazil: Temer Government Might Not Survive
_ The Temer government is in trouble. A significant loss to Congress on the budgets, a loss of support, a campaign wrongdoing investigation, and Temer taking his case to the media about his potential removal are signs that his government might not survive to the end of his term in 2018, according to Arthur Pinheiro Machado at Forbes. A failed government would be another crisis in a series of recent crises in Brazil.
Eastern Europe: US Army Armored Brigade Arrives in Poland
_ The U.S. Army, 4th Infantry Division’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (3rd ABCT) with its 3,500 soldiers and equipment has arrived in Drawsko Pomorskie, Poland for Operation Atlantic Resolve to “deter Russian aggression,” according to Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO supreme allied commander-Europe, who also said “I would like to thank our allies and commend them on this historic moment […] it is great to see our Army at the front, integrated with the combined and joint air and naval forces of the United States, our allies and partners.”
_ Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said “tanks, trucks and other equipment” were scheduled to arrive in Europe on the weekend of Jan. 7-8 for a 9 month rotation, and it “marks the beginning of the continuous presence” of the ABCT and “back-to-back rotations of U.S. troops and equipment in Europe.” The personnel and equipment traveled from Germany to Poland. They will later “be relocated throughout the region for training and exercises with European allies” as part of European Reassurance Initiative and will “maintain persistent, rotational presence of air, land and sea forces in Central and Eastern Europe.”
Ukraine: Kiev Tried to Influence US Elections in Favor of Hillary Clinton
_ Ukraine officials are “scrambling to make amends with the president-elect after quietly working to boost Clinton.” Kenneth Vogel and David Stern at Politico Europe say that Ukrainian “efforts to sabotage Trump” have backfired. Alexandra Chalupa, a Ukrainian-American former Clinton administration employee, former DNC staffer, now consultant to DNC, worked on opposition research against Trump and coordinated with the Ukrainian embassy. The DNC told Politico that she did it all on her own, not at their direction.
_ Journalist Mark Ames described the activity as an “influence operation, using kompromat dumps, to manipulate US elections and elect Hillary Clinton,” which is, of course, the same accusation made by the Clinton campaign and Pres. Obama’s intelligence agencies against Russia. Ironically, Ames’ accusation is based on factual information described in the Politico article, while the accusation against Russia has still not been backed by solid evidence.
Europe: Ex-Leaders Warning Letter to Trump
_ European ex-leaders sent a letter to warn Trump against restoring relations with and lifting sanctions on Russia. They tried to convince Trump that somehow “a deal with Putin will not bring peace. On the contrary, it makes war more likely.” They also said: “Putin does not seek American greatness. As your allies, we do.”
_ The letter was signed by only 1 current European leader, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev. Other signatories are former leaders and foreign ministers, including some well known NATO-connected war enthusiasts like Carl Bildt, and Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
_ RT reported that former Polish official Radoslaw Sikorski also signed the letter. Washington Post (WaPo) neocon journalist Josh Rogin didn’t mention that name, which is an interesting detail in itself. Sikorski has been discredited and is well known for his uber hawkish attitude toward Russia. Sikorski is also the spouse of Anne Applebaum, a journalist who sat on the WaPo editorial board and still gets published there. Last week WaPo published her op-ed: “An existential moment for the Euro-American alliance.” So the letter was signed by some of the band leaders of the march toward war with Russia in recent years.
Nigeria: Air Force Bombed a Refugee Camp
_ The Nigerian air force bombed a refugee camp “killing more than 100 refugees and wounding aid workers, a Borno state official said.” In addition to the civilians killed, among the wounded and dead were 20 Red Cross workers, 2 soldiers and Nigerians working for Doctors Without Borders. Villagers reported “near-daily bombardments” in northeastern Nigeria, part of the counter terrorism mission against Boko Haram. Maj. Gen. Lucky Irabor confirmed the accidental bombing, which is believed to be the first time that Nigeria’s military has admitted such a mistake.
Somalia: Expanding Drought
_ In Somalia, “expanding drought conditions have left thousands of Somalis facing severe food and water shortages.” 5 million people are “in need of relief” and 3.3 million lack adequate access to health care and “improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene.” At least 1.1 million are internally displaced. The UN says that only early intervention will “avert another catastrophe.”
South Africa: Carlyle Group Will Control SA’s Largest Credit Agency
_ The Carlyle group, with $169 billion in assets, is a “U.S. buyout fund,” will become the largest shareholder for Global Credit Ratings (GCR), South Africa’s largest pan-African ratings agency. GCR is the “only ratings agency to have a strong presence in multiple geographies across Africa.” Carlyle Group is one of the largest private equity funds in the world, with ties to the Bush dynasty, and has been featured in documentaries because they were conducting a conference at a Washington hotel during the September 11 terror attacks in the US, and Osama bin Laden’s brother was in attendance. Carlyle also has investments in the defense industry.
China: Foreign Policy Clash With Trump
_ In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, President-elect Trump said that everything is open to negotiation with US policy on China, including the “One China” policy on Taiwan. China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Hong Kong media that “The one-China principle is the cornerstone of the healthy development of [Sino-US] relations, and we do not want any interference or destruction of this political foundation.” Trump mocked the fact that the US sold $2 billion in arms to Taiwan but can’t accept a congratulatory phone call from rhe head of state. In the past Trump has accused China of being a currency manipulator but said he wouldn’t officially designate them as such without talking to them first.
_ The statement on Taiwan issued by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang left no room for doubt: “The one-China principle, which is the political foundation of the China-U.S. relations, is non-negotiable.”
_ Greg Djerejian of the Belgravia Dispatch believes that the “amount of economic ‘leverage’ garnered by dangling One-China as a ‘chip’ is zero (or worse). Wholly separate track that will torpedo former.”
PODCASTS, FILMS, BOOKS, INTERVIEWS
_ Shadowproof writers, Dan Wright and Joanne Leon, published episode 4 of the new Around the Empire podcast. They interviewed journalist Ben Norton on the war and the situation in Yemen. Episode 5 was published this week where the issue of Donald Trump vs. the Deep State is discussed. with David Chibo. You can find the podcast on Patreon and here on Shadowproof.com.
_ On the Loud & Clear podcast, Abby Martin describes the US intelligence agencies’ unclassified report on alleged Russian interference in US elections as “audaciously ridiculous.” Martin’s show, Breaking the Set, was cited as one of the reasons Hillary Clinton lost the election, even though her show hasn’t been on the air for nearly 2 years. Some of the “intelligence” in the report was nearly 5 years old.
_ In their weekly talk about the new Cold War on the John Batchelor Show, on Jan. 4, in an episode titled: “Did Putin Really Launch a ‘Cyber–Pearl Harbor’ Against America?” Stephen Cohen and John Batchelor talked about how the “hysteria over Russia’s alleged hacking of the 2016 presidential election may make this US-Russian crisis more dangerous than the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.” (Podcast standalone link)
_ The Jan. 10 weekly talk between John Batchelor and Stephen Cohen coincided with CNN and other media outlets breaking the story of alleged compromising information held by Russia on President-elect Trump and the leaking of the detailed (and unsubstantiated) opposition research “dirty dossier.” Batchelor said it was “way, way, way over the top” of anything he thought he’d ever see from the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and The Guardian, and it was a “strange evening.” Cohen said it was a “dark night in the history of the American Republic.” In Cohen’s write up at The Nation: “Who Are the Real Enemies of US National Security?” he says the “new allegations that President-elect Trump can be controlled by the Kremlin through compromising information are unprecedented in American history and policy-making.” (Podcast standalone link)
_ An excellent interview with Prof. Joshua Landis on the US strategy in Syria.
_ President-elect Trump sat for an interview with the Wall Street Journal: “Trump Open to Shift on Russia Sanctions, ‘One China’ Policy.” Trump said he’d keep Russian sanctions in place for some period of time but he will meet with Vladimir Putin and if Russia is helpful in fighting terrorism and with other goals, he might do away with them. Trump: “If you get along and if Russia is really helping us, why would anybody have sanctions if somebody’s doing some really great things?” As for US policy with China, Trump said “Everything is under negotiation including One China.” Trump’s point of view is that our companies can’t compete because China manipulates their currency.
ANALYSIS & OPINION
_ Leonid Bershidsky, at Bloomberg View, says: “Tillerson’s remarks at the hearing are the clearest, most coherent statement of intent in U.S. policy vis-a-vis Russia heard so far this century.”
_ Russian-American journalist and activist, Masha Gessen, well known for her opposition to Vladimir Putin, criticizes the so called evidence of Russian hacking influencing the 2016 election in a NY Review of Books article titled: “Russia, Trump & Flawed Intelligence.” Gessen says “if the report’s vague assertions were clarified and its circular logic straightened out, nothing would be left.”
_ Gilbert Doctorow, a foreign policy “realist,” has 2 recent, important analyses on the shift in foreign policy under a Trump administration, focusing on Henry Kissinger, Rex Tillerson’s confirmation hearing, and Trump’s interview with Bild and the Sunday Times. First, “Trump and Revenge of the ‘Realists’,” and more recently: “Trump’s Remaking of US Foreign Policy.” Doctorow believes that the US had to pivot from a suicidal foreign policy and Trump’s team will try to make that pivot.