U.S. warns Syria against fighting rebels

It looks like Washington has officially taken sides in Syria's civil war. We are now on ISIS's side.

The United States warned Syria on Friday it would take “firm and appropriate measures” in response to ceasefire violations, saying it was concerned about reports of an impending military operation in a de-escalation zone in the country’s southwest.
Washington also cautioned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against broadening the conflict.

“As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement late on Friday.

A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported on Wednesday that Syrian government forces fresh from their victory this week against an Islamic State pocket in south Damascus were moving into the southern province of Deraa.

The Assad government has taken all the suburbs of Damascus, plus all of Homs. So the next obvious region of Syria controlled by rebels, that isn't directly protected by either Turkey or U.S. forces, is in the south.
The Syrian government has massed troops near Daraa, and intend to take back the area regardless of U.S. threats.

A Syrian state-run newspaper said Monday that the government will keep fighting “terrorists” despite U.S. warnings against a new offensive against rebels in southern Daraa province, while Russia said Syrian troops should deploy in the country’s southwest, near Israel.

Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Syrian troops should be positioned on the border with the Golan Heights, which have been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Mideast war. The area between Daraa and the Golan Heights has emerged as a flashpoint in a wider standoff between Israel and Iran, and the United States has warned it will take action to protect a cease-fire there.

While it's true that the Daraa area is a cease-fire zone, there is an exception in that agreement - ISIS.
One of the last area's in Syria under ISIS control is on the border of Israel and Jordan. Much of the surrounding area is controlled by al-Qaeda.
Thus, by preventing a Syrian offensive in the Daraa area we are protecting ISIS.

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Meanwhile in nearby U.S.-controlled al-Tanf

Russia and the United States are conducting a dialogue at the diplomatic and military level regarding the situation in Syria’s al-Tanf region, Lavrov stated.

"We are witnessing an increasing number of armed groups appearing in this region, including the Rukban refugee camp, which according to our information, is related in one way or another to Daesh* and other extremist structures," he noted.

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@gjohnsit @gjohnsit
defying Washington again

Russian state gas giant Gazprom (GAZP.MM) said on Saturday it had signed a protocol with the Turkish government on a planned gas pipeline and agreed with Turkish firm Botas to end an arbitration dispute over the terms of gas supplies.

India says FU Trump

India said on Monday it abided by sanctions imposed by the United Nations but not those imposed by any other country, such as those announced by the United States against Iran.
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detroitmechworks's picture

with official seals and everything. Probably had an intern get yelled at for a typo at some point. They do that every day in their nice secure offices, thousands of miles from the battle and plan their campaigns with a globe and a tape measure.

They might have to show up to a funeral if it goes south, so please think of the poor politicians...

/snark

(Forgot... song uses a lot of slurs openly and stupidly. Makes the point about morons, which is the reason I posted it.)

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I do not pretend I know what I do not know.

Azazello's picture

if from the Institute for the Study of War, a part of the Kagan family pro-war propaganda operation. If they were honest, all the green zones labeled "Rebel forces" would be labeled "US-occupied".
US jihadi-protection zones are around a third of Syrian territory.

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Now it has continual fuck-ups all the time. Please forgive my use of the four letter Anglo-Saxon expletive, but in this case it's too perfect to not use. You can almost count on the US doing the wrong thing. Is there any overlap (Intersection) of the set of things that the US does and the set of things that are internationally lawful? If there were an even bigger country than the US doing things that the US does, the US would be squealing like a pig, it's illegal, it's illegal you can't do that. There have been times in the past when the US went off the rails and Congress tried to bring the train back onto the track. That seems like a zero possibility today. Maybe that's how empires die, when homeostasis stops functioning. I think that the term positive (reinforcing) feedback loop seems to apply to everything.

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Capitalism has always been the rule of the people by the oligarchs. You only have two choices, eliminate them or restrict their power.

Amanda Matthews's picture

government that they can’t defend their country against some head-chopping terrorist invaders?

That is so wrong it is surreal. Let’s see what Russia has to say about this one.

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I'm tired of this back-slapping "Isn't humanity neat?" bullshit. We're a virus with shoes, okay? That's all we are. - Bill Hicks

Politics is the entertainment branch of industry. - Frank Zappa

@Amanda Matthews

and perhaps a few short-sighted others - is going to support a US-backed terrorist take-over of another country. Dunno if even the Nazi's in the Ukraine would be comfortable with that.

But so very many of the wrong-headed things the US PTB are doing are backfiring - as they must for human planetary survival.

The US PTB's creation, use of and support for terrorists is no big secret anymore.

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/427541-iran-trump-war-sanctions/

US tries to bully the world into attacking Iran
Rania Khalek
Rania Khalek is an American journalist, writer and political commentator based in the Middle East.
Published time: 23 May, 2018 13:32
Edited time: 24 May, 2018 07:51

...Unlike the US, Iran is a part of the Middle East. It has every right to engage with its neighbors, certainly more of a right than the US, a country that is on the other side of the world yet constantly meddles in Middle Eastern affairs to secure its interests.

It’s also important to emphasize the difference between Iranian and American actions in the region. For the last several years, the US and its regional allies backed an armed rebellion in Syria made up of a collection of Salafi Jihadist groups in an effort to collapse the Syrian state. This policy gave rise to groups like Al-Qaeda and ISIS in Syria as well as Iraq. If not for Syrian allies like Iran and Russia, the Syrian state would have likely collapsed and been taken over by Al-Qaeda or ISIS. In other words, the US made a huge mess in Syria and Iraq and Iran played a crucial role in cleaning up that mess in both countries through its support for the Syrian government and its backing of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) in Iraq that were integral to the defeat of ISIS. Yet the US has the audacity to portray Iran as a destructive force in the region, when in reality it is the US and its allies that play the most disastrous role in bringing chaos to the Middle East with regime-change wars and support for Gulf monarchies, like Saudi Arabia, that spread extremism. ...

...In the lead-up to Haley’s speech, as citizens in Lebanon went to the polls in early May, one article after another in the Western press warned of the looming threat of Iran’s influence in the election.

After the results came in and it was clear that the political wing of the Lebanese paramilitary group Hezbollah and its allies made gains, the election in Lebanon was framed by many Western media outlets as though it was a violent Iranian coup.

“Hezbollah allies gain in Lebanon vote, underscoring Iran sway,”said Reuters, to give just one example.

This implies that Hezbollah seized power in Lebanon against the will of the people.

While Hezbollah is certainly in a stronger position in Lebanon politically, this was the result of democratic elections, the kind of elections the US regularly demands of countries in the region. Lebanese citizens voted for Hezbollah.

The repeated references to Iranians when talking about Hezbollah is pure propaganda. Hezbollah is a Lebanese political and armed group that is part of the Lebanese government, has a popular grassroots base of support in Lebanon and is made up of Lebanese citizens. Yes, it receives support from Iran, but it is not an Iranian group or an Iranian proxy as the Western press likes to insinuate. It is a thoroughly Lebanese group that is regionally a partner of Iran because they have similar interests. But first and foremost, Hezbollah protects Lebanon’s borders and sovereignty and works with the Lebanese state to do so.

It also erases how Hezbollah played a critical part in protecting Lebanon’s border from genocidal insurgents in Syria and preventing the collapse of the Syrian state, which would have spilled even further into and destabilized Lebanon, which helps explain why Hezbollah did well in the Lebanese election. ...

... Fifteen years after the US destroyed Iraq, the country is finally beginning to emerge from the trauma and held democratic elections, something the US had been demanding from Iraq for years in the lead-up to the 2003 US invasion. Now that Iraq has democracy (not because of Western regime change but in spite of it) the Western press seemed outraged about the potential results. It appears democracy is only good when the results please the US State Department.

Iran is portrayed in the same menacing light with regard to its support for the government in Syria, where the real escalation between Iran and its adversaries is playing out. ...

This isn't hypocrisy, it's a pathological condition.

https://www.rt.com/business/427467-steel-aluminum-tariffs-russia-us/

Russia & other countries can demand $3.5bn in compensation from US over tariffs
Published time: 22 May, 2018 19:01
Edited time: 23 May, 2018 09:22

Turkey, Japan and Russia have calculated how much US tariffs would add to the cost of steel and aluminum exports to America, and submitted their claims to the World Trade Organization.

The countries followed similar moves by the European Union, India and China. Russia estimated that it would lose $538 million because of the US tariffs, which President Donald Trump imposed in March. Japan reported $440 million, while Turkey added a further $267 million. ...

https://www.rt.com/business/426888-petroyuan-china-iran-sanctions-petrod...

US sanctions on Iran behind yuan-traded oil futures gain on petrodollar
Published time: 16 May, 2018 12:27

The share of yuan-backed crude oil contracts has soared to 12 percent of global trading since US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, compared to eight percent in March.

Beijing launched its yuan-denominated crude futures in Shanghai on March 26, with the aim to challenge rival benchmarks Brent and WTI as well as the US dollar, the predominant settlement currency for oil contracts.

Last Wednesday, daily trade volumes in INE (Shanghai International Energy Exchange) oil futures hit a record of over 250,000 lots. That’s double what they were on Tuesday in Asia before the news of the renewed US sanctions. ...

https://www.rt.com/business/427649-russia-alternative-swift-sanctions/?s...

Russian central bank boasts of alternative to SWIFT as ready-made defense against US sanctions
Published time: 24 May, 2018 12:35
Edited time: 24 May, 2018 14:00

Russia has managed to develop a national system for money transfers that could protect its banking from the possible cut off from SWIFT transfer services in case of tougher US penalties, the central bank chief said at SPIEF.

“There are risks in using the global financial networks, the global financial system, of which Russia is a part,” the Central Bank of Russia's governor, Elvira Nabiullina, said at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF).

“Therefore, since back in 2014, we have been developing our own systems, including a payments system. Inside Russia we have created a system for transferring financial data, which is similar to SWIFT.”

Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT), is the financial network that provides high-value cross-border transfers for its members across the world. The Belgium-based cooperative supports most interbank messages, connecting over 11,000 financial institutions in more than 200 countries and territories.

The probable cut off from SWIFT entered Russia's political agenda as early as in 2014. Back then, Washington and Brussels imposed the first round of anti-Russian sanctions over the country’s alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis and the reunification with Crimea. ...

https://www.rt.com/business/427004-russia-stock-market-rise-sanctions/

Russian stock market brushes off US sanctions, trading near all-time high
Published time: 17 May, 2018 14:01
Edited time: 24 May, 2018 12:09

The Russian economy is proving to be resilient and showing a strong recovery from the initial shock of the latest round of US sanctions targeting the business sector.

The ruble-traded MOEX reached 2,358 points this week, which is very close to an all-time high of 2,376.96 seen in February. The dollar-traded RTS index is still over 10 percent down from the February highs, but has also been recovering.

Analysts are pointing at the good signs in the Russian economy and growing price in crude oil. “The victorious march in the market goes on. In my opinion, this happens because of the influx of new investors in shares following the good situation in commodities and stable macroeconomic indicators,” said Freedom Finance analyst Georgy Vashchenko in a note. “If the trend does not break, MOEX can reach record high 2,400 points.

The US rating agencies are also remaining positive about the Russian economy. In February, S&P upgraded the Russian sovereign rating back into investment grade at BBB and has not revised it since then. Moody's said on April 19 that Russia can weather the new sanctions. On Wednesday, it added that Russian corporate liquidity “remains strong.” ...

There comes a point where the rest of the kids realize that they outnumber the schoolyard bullies, no matter how big and brutal some individuals might be, and that enough of them only need to stand together to face - or take - them down. The rest, and the manner in which the bullies are 'defused' depends upon how stupid the biggest bullies are, so we'll hope for some residual brights somewhere in (and behind) the US/British governments.

Now, if only they'd have the brights to take the money and run to some isolated uninhabited island on Mars and leave the rest of us alone to do what we can with the wreckage they've already created.

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

Bisbonian's picture

@Ellen North

There comes a point where the rest of the kids realize that they outnumber the schoolyard bullies, no matter how big and brutal some individuals might be, and that enough of them only need to stand together to face - or take - them down.

I don't think it will be pretty, but necessary, in the long run. If we still have a long run.

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"I’m a human being, first and foremost, and as such I’m for whoever and whatever benefits humanity as a whole.” —Malcolm X

Azazello's picture

@Bisbonian
Indeed. It's looking bleaker every day.
Fire season has started, it could be pretty bad this year.
The water level in Lake Mead is dangerously low yet people keep moving to Phoenix.
It's a hard rain gonna' fall.

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snoopydawg's picture

@Ellen North

Don't think anyone is going to support a US-backed terrorist take-over of another country

Guess who is running Libya right now after we used terrorists to help us overthrow Gaddafi? Yep that's right ... terrorists. The destruction of Libya has had so many devastating consequences for the people not only of Libya, but in many of the countries that share borders with it. Guess how many of our allies helped us do that?

I haven't heard from any of the leaders of those countries that helped destroy Libya saying anything about the heinous conditions that the Libyans are living with.

After Hillary's crew helped liberate Gaddafi's weapons from the embassy in Benghazi, including sarin and other chemical weapons, the left over military equipment that we supplied to our "moderate rebels" have found their way into the hands of other terrorist organizations.

One group from the U.K. who helped overthrow Gaddafi were free to come and go from the U.K. and it was one of the kids from that terrorist group that blew himself up at the Manchester concert. This is why the British police were able to make arrests so quickly. They knew where those guys lived.

Dunno if even the Nazi's in the Ukraine would be comfortable with that.

This is just astounding, isn't it? That this country helped put in power in Ukraine after we overthrew its government and installed our puppet "Yatz" whose job it was to open up Ukraine to outside corporations to steal its resources the same group of Nazis that our grandparents fought against.

It's so very obvious that this country is no longer one of the rule of law because so many people would be charged with treason if it was. There's that oath that they swore to defend the country from enemies foreign and domestic and yet they give aid and comfort to our sworn foreign enemies and they work with the domestic ones.

I wonder what the Founding Fathers would think of the people in our government and in charge of the military?

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery

@Ellen North

for these resources. Here is an article about Italy and its experience with neoliberalism:

https://consortiumnews.com/2018/05/29/this-is-the-new-italy/

This is the New Italy
May 29, 2018

Years of neoliberal economic policies imposed by Brussels and by Italian politicians alike have devastated numerous industrial towns and the very fabric of Italian society, reports Attilio Moro.

By Attilio Moro Special to Consortium News
in Brussels

Sesto San Giovanni, a town on the outskirts of Milan, used to be one of the industrial capitals of Italy.

With around 200,000 inhabitants (45,000 blue collar workers, and a robust middle class), it was the headquarters of some of the most dynamic Italian companies, including Magneti Marelli, Falck, Breda and many more.

Today Sesto is an industrial desert – the factories are gone, the professional middle class has fled, many stores have shut down...

Twenty-three kilometers (14 miles) to the north of Sesto, the town of Meda was the seat of various symbols of Italian excellence: Salotti Cassina and Poltrona Frau, both of which exported high-quality furniture all over the world and employed tens of thousands of workers and designers. They fed a number of small family-based companies providing parts and highly qualified seasonal labour. Today both companies are gone.

Montezemolo: Public enemy.
Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, a former chairman of Ferrari, Fiat and Alitalia, and now a public enemy because of his dismissal of the “Made in Italy” label, acquired both companies and moved them to Turkey, choosing profit over quality—and Italian jobs. Montezemolo, of aristocratic background, is a champion of Italian neoliberalism, having founded the influential “free market” think tank Italia Futura (Future Italy) in 2009.

Another victim is the town of Sora, with a population of 25,000, 80 km. (50 miles) east of Rome. Until recently Sora was an affluent commercial city, with medium-sized paper factories and hundreds of shops. Today, all of the factories are gone and 50 percent of shops have closed.

All over Italy, the neoliberal policies that led to the economic crisis and resulting social decadence have accelerated in the wake of the financial collapse of 2007.

Once The Stalingrad of Italy

Sesto San Giovanni used to be known as ‘the Italian Stalingrad’, due to the strength of its working class and the Communist Party receiving over 50 percent of the vote. Now the strongest party in town is the Lega (The League), a right wing, xenophobic party. This has been accompanied by a demographic shift, as Sesto has lost almost one third of its population, but acquired tens of thousands of immigrants, which today constitute almost 20 percent of its population.

The Italian Communist Party, once the strongest in the capitalist world, has in the meantime disappeared, together with the working class. There is also the destitution of a dwindling middle class accompanying the breakdown of the social fabric with rampant corruption. All the traditional political parties have been wiped away...

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@Linda Wood

Funny the way neoliberalism invariably has the same ultimate effect, of draining everything it touches and running away when it all collapses as a result.

So, can we ask the proponents: are people 'doing it wrong' and just need to keep trying, or does that not work anymore, once collapse occurs'? Maybe it only works on Mars?

https://www.rt.com/op-ed/428040-italy-crisis-euro-eu/

Brussels-Rome war: EU holds back Italy’s anti-euro tide for now
Steve Keen
Steve Keen is an Australian economist and author. He’s professor and Head of the School of Economics, History and Politics at Kingston University in London. You can support his attempts to build a new economics https://www.patreon.com/ProfSteveKeen.
Published time: 28 May, 2018 15:44
Edited time: 29 May, 2018 07:58

By pushing a presidential veto of Rome’s proposed new government, Brussels may have secured the euro’s status in Italy, for now. However, it may prove to be only a stay of execution.

As I write, a constitutional crisis has erupted in Italy after its President – who normally fulfils only a ceremonial role – refused to allow the prospective new coalition government to appoint Paolo Savona as finance minister.

Superficially, this is a ridiculous decision: Savona is a distinguished 81-year-old economist who has worked at Italy’s Central Bank and Treasury, created the first model of the Italian economy, and – among numerous other honors – was a minister in a previous Italian government in 1993-94. Was his age the problem?

No, President Sergio Mattarella’s problem with Savona is that he is a critic of the euro. And Mattarella’s obstructionism is a problem for the prospective coalition government of the self-described anti-establishment Five Star Movement (founded by the satirist and activist Beppe Grillo) and the originally secessionist, but now federalist, Lega Nord (Northern League) – because about the only thing they have in common is opposition to the euro and the austerity policies that have come with it following the 2008 crisis.

In round one of what will be a protracted battle, the prospective prime minister Giuseppe Conte has resigned; the leader of Five Star has called for the president to be impeached; and the president has invited former International Monetary Fund director, Carlo Cottarelli, to form a government instead.

This conflict won’t end by making Cottarelli interim prime minister. He gained the nickname of “Mr Scissors” when he was put in charge of reviewing government spending by a previous, short-lived government in 2013. He is a vocal critic of the Five Star/Northern League proposals, but these parties hold a majority of seats in the parliament. They will almost surely vote him out of office.

The likely short-term outcome is the calling of fresh elections – three months after the vote which made Five Star the largest political party in Italy.

Opening Salvo

The first battle in the war between Brussels and Rome has thus been won by Brussels: I have little doubt that Mattarella was lobbied very strongly by EU figures to block Savona, because he is capable of developing the real weapon that Five Star/Northern League could bring to bear against the euro – the “mini-BOT.” Named in reference to Italy’s “buoni ordinario del tesoro,” which are short-term government bonds, these would be government-issued notes valued at between €1 and €500, which would be issued to people and companies owed tax refunds by the government. These, in turn, would be valid for paying taxes, buying train tickets, getting petrol at government-owned fuel stations, and so on.

These sidestep the euro’s monopoly as legal tender in the eurozone because a vendor does not have to accept these if they are tendered in an exchange. But they can be accepted, perhaps at a discount to face value, and thereby become an alternative means of payment to the euro.

This is a weapon that Greece prepared, but never used, because Yanis Varoufakis, in what he describes in Adults in the Room as “Mea Maxima Culpa” (“my most grievous fault”) decided to leave the decision to Alexis Tsipras. Tsipras demurred, and the result was a Greek tragedy. ...

...By the time this war between Brussels and Rome is over, that might change. Brussels has won the first round, with the boxing equivalent of not merely a below-the-belt punch, but of the referee knocking out the winner and declaring his opponent the victor. The next round will go to Brussels as well, as Mattarella appoints Cottarelli as prime minister. Round three will go to the Five Star/League as they vote to impeach Mattarella. Round four will be the campaign for the subsequent election, which will further polarize Italian politics: Brussels and its local allies will attempt to undermine or divide Five Star and the League with scandals and official opprobrium, while the Five Star/League will try to harness outrage at the undemocratic forces controlling Italy to increase their vote.

Brussels will seek to blame the anti-euro rebels, but the real villains of this crisis are the euro itself and the Maastricht Treaty. As the rebel British economist Wynne Godley stated back in 1992 when the Treaty was signed:

“If a country or region has no power to devalue, and if it is not the beneficiary of a system of fiscal equalization, then there is nothing to stop it suffering a process of cumulative and terminal decline leading, in the end, to emigration as the only alternative to poverty or starvation.” (Wynne Godley, ‘Maastricht and All That’ London Review of Books, October 1992)

Emigration, poverty, or starvation? There is a fourth alternative: leaving the euro. Brussels has blocked this for today, but the odds of it happening in the near future have risen dramatically thanks to Mattarella’s veto of Savona.

Countries are not 'trade blocs; they consist of their people and require responsive local government working for the public good, or the whole mess falls apart.

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Psychopathy is not a political position, whether labeled 'conservatism', 'centrism' or 'left'.

A tin labeled 'coffee' may be a can of worms or pathology identified by a lack of empathy/willingness to harm others to achieve personal desires.

@Ellen North

Again, you have summed up the dilemma:

Countries are not 'trade blocs; they consist of their people and require responsive local government working for the public good, or the whole mess falls apart.

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