Syria: A Ray Of Hope

There is news and then there is NEWS…..over the weekend there was some major news only it has been shuffled to the background thanx to the antics of the political process and the political games….

Syria has been a mess for years….everyone fighting everyone else to the point that it is more confusing than a plot on Reality TV……but through all this death and destruction a small ray of hope has broken through……

Russia and the US announced plans for a ceasefire in the five-year Syrian civil war Friday, CNN reports. Under the agreement—which both the Syrian government and opposition groups have tentatively agreed to—calls for an end to hostilities starting at sundown on Monday. Secretary of State John Kerry says the “bedrock of the agreement” is the government’s cessation of air force missions in any areas occupied by rebel groups. “That should put an end to…the indiscriminate bombing of civilian neighborhoods,” Kerry says. According to the AP, Kerry calls the ceasefire a possible “turning point” in the war that has killed more than 500,000 people.

The announcement came after “intensive” talks in Geneva, the BBC reports. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov gave journalists waiting for the end of 13 hours of negotiations pizza “from the US delegation” and vodka “from the Russian delegation.” The ceasefire will allow the UN to deliver humanitarian aid to hard-hit areas, including Aleppo, where nearly 700 civilians—160 of them children—have been killed in the past 40 days. If the ceasefire lasts a week, the US and Russia will start planning joint military operations against al Qaeda and ISIS fighters in Syria. But such ceasefire agreements have failed in the past. “We think [the arrangement] has the capability of sticking, but it’s dependent on people’s choices,” Kerry says. “It is an opportunity and not more than that.”

Beginning sundown today……A nationwide cease-fire by Assad’s forces and the U.S.-backed opposition is set to begin across Syria at sundown Monday. That sets off a seven-day period that will allow for humanitarian aid and civilian traffic into Aleppo, Syria’s largest city and commercial capital, which has faced a recent onslaught.

Fighting forces are to also pull back from the Castello Road, a key thoroughfare and access route into Aleppo, and create a “demilitarized zone” around it.

Also Monday, the United States and Russia will begin preparations for the creation of a Joint Implementation Center that will involve information sharing needed to define areas controlled by the radical Nusra Front and opposition groups in areas “of active hostilities.”

The center is expected to be established a week later, and is to launch a broader effort toward delineating other territories in control of various groups.

As part of the arrangement, Russia is expected to keep Syrian air force planes from bombing areas controlled by the opposition. The United States has committed to help weaken the Nusra Front, an extremist group that has intermingled with the U.S.-backed opposition in places.

A resumption of political dialogue between the government and opposition under U.N. mediation, which was halted amid an upsurge in fighting in April, will be sought over the longer term.

Now the part that should the blogs in multiple directions is the fact that US and Russia are working in partnership (for now)……..

The United States and Russia working in lockstep against ISIS and al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria. A rejuvenated truce that will compel President Bashar Assad’s air and ground forces to pull back. New flows of badly needed humanitarian aid. Those details emerged Saturday as US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov capped another marathon meeting in Geneva to present their latest ambitious push to end Syria’s devastating and complex war, the AP reports. The potential breakthrough deal, which promises a new US-Russian counterterrorism alliance, launches a nationwide cessation of hostilities by sundown Monday.

The military deal would go into effect after both sides abide by the truce for a week and allow unimpeded humanitarian deliveries. Then, the US and Russia would begin intelligence sharing and targeting coordination, while Assad’s air and ground forces would no longer be permitted to target Fath al-Sham, formerly known as the Nusra Front; they would be restricted to operations against ISIS while the US and Russia target both groups. The deal will hinge on compliance by Assad’s Russian-backed forces and US-supported rebel groups, plus key regional powers such as Turkey, Iran, and Saudi Arabia—though as with previous blueprints for peace, Saturday’s plan appears to lack enforcement mechanisms.

What could possibly go wrong (he asked smilingly)……

What are the chances of success with this effort?  Now there is a good question.

In order to evaluate the value of the Kerry-Lavrov effort, we only have the patterns of previously exerted efforts, conducted separately or in a minimum de-confliction mode, to assess the extent of the individual impact of each power, then proceed to explore the potential impact of both combined.

In the case of Russia, its recent intensive air raids around Aleppo and Hama have not achieved their purpose on either front. The armed opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra, has made very impressive progress on both battle fields.

In the case of the US, the state of play in northern Syria shows a very limited ability to influence the dynamics of the on-the-ground-course of the fight: Turkey’s incursion – the defection of hundreds of Arab Syrian fighters from the US-backed, predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) to join the Turkish-assisted opposition west of the Euphrates – previous failed US attempts to train Syrian forces in order to set them up against terrorist forces – these are but a few examples of a long list of trials and failures for US involvement in Syria.

Therefore, it is safe to say that Russia’s heavy bombardment plus Assad’s and Iran’s repeated offensives on multiple fronts have not reversed the dynamics on the ground in any substantial way. The US has not fared any better. Neither have its attempts to train forces, play the SDF off pro-Turkish forces, and other shallow and similar tactics changed the dynamics.

Considering such a dismal record for the two powers on the ground, independently, it is only natural to review whether together they can achieve any degree of success in fighting terrorism jointly. In other words, we must return to examining the link between the two powers, either working together or alone, on the one hand, and the course of the actual conflict on the ground as it progresses.

(MEBriefing.com)

Time will tell if this will be a successful endeavor……my guess is there are too many players with too many goals for it to be successful…..and I hope I am mistaken.

But am I?

One group has already rejected the truce……

An influential Syrian rebel group, the hardline Islamist Ahrar al-Sham, on Sunday rejected the truce deal brokered by Russia and the United States hours before it was due to begin.

A high-ranking member of the group, which works closely with former Al-Qaeda affiliate Fateh al-Sham Front, said in a statement on YouTube that the deal would only serve to “reinforce” the regime of President Bashar al-Assad and “increase the suffering” of civilians

Not a good start, huh?

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The New McCarthyism

How many of you young’ns even know what the term “McCarthyism” means?

The term is named after Sen. Joseph “Tail Gunner Joe” McCarthy a senator from Wisconsin and his witch hunts for “communists” hiding in plain sight within our society…..

He used the House Un-American Activities Committee as a cover for his witch hunts…..

“Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist party?”

In the 1950s, thousands of Americans who toiled in the government, served in the army, worked in the movie industry, or came from various walks of life had to answer that question before a congressional panel.

Senator Joseph McCarthy rose to national prominence by initiating a probe to ferret out communists holding prominent positions. During his investigations, safeguards promised by the Constitution were trampled.

Source: McCarthyism [ushistory.org]

I bring this up because there are some the see a return of the days of McCarthyism….the demonization and the accusations abound.

The New Cold War and its fellow-traveler, the New McCarthyism, are arriving on the hawkish wings of The New York Times and other mainstream U.S. media outlets, writes Robert Parry.

Traditional U.S. journalism and the American people are facing a crisis as the preeminent American newspaper, The New York Times, has fully lost its professional bearings, transforming itself into a neoconservative propaganda sheet eager for a New Cold War with Russia and imposing a New McCarthyism on public debate.

The crisis is particularly acute because another top national newspaper, The Washington Post, is also deeply inside the neocon camp.

Source: New York Times and the New McCarthyism – Consortiumnews

I have long said that the MSM is nothing but a propaganda tool for the neocons and the defense industry…..they use the MSM to make the case for intervention and conflict……plus they are used to further the anti-Russian dialog and anyone that disagrees is somehow a “Russian apologist” (have I heard the term before?)

I have long said that the NYTimes and WaPo were nothing but tools that gave up all claim to fair journalism…..and they are not alone……just the most visible of the MSM……

The Media Is Giving Hillary Clinton a Free Pass

Did you really think I was going to give Clinton a pass?

How many times have you heard the piss ants on the Trump bandwagon piss and moan about the treatment he gets from the MSM?  Well to be fair…I wrote a post saying that Mr. trump was getting a free ride from the MSM……guess what?  So is Hill baby!

It is no secret that I do not support her nor do I think very well of her…..but the accusations about her getting a free ride from the MSM may have some validity………………

Much of the media have internalized the fantasy that the Hillary Clinton campaign is treated tougher than the Donald Trump campaign.

David Harsanyi writes:

Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton was finally asked a tough question during NBC’s commander-in-chief forum, so naturally the establishment media immediately coagulated around the notion that NBC’s Matt Lauer was the worst moderator ever.

An Air Force and Navy veteran, who said he held “the top secret sensitive compartmentalized information clearance,” said to Clinton regarding her acts as secretary of state, “Had I communicated this information not following prescribed protocols, I would have been prosecuted and imprisoned.” He then asked, “Secretary Clinton, how can you expect those such as myself who were and are trusted with America’s most sensitive information to have any confidence in your leadership as president when you clearly corrupted our national security?”

Source: The Media Is Giving Hillary Clinton a Free Pass: New at Reason – Hit & Run : Reason.com

I hate that I would have to agree with the bobblehead crew of the Trump camp…..but he is not the only one that is targeted by the MSM…..Johnson and Stein get NO coverage no matter how much they try……that is unless they screw up then the MSM jumps at the situation to show that they are not ready for prime time politics.

So much for “fair and balanced”….but then when has the media ever been so inclined?

End of the Free Ride

2016 is an election like NO other…..we have had just about everything that could possibly happen do so…….I have been watching the different interviews that the candidates give and one thing sticks out above anything else….the MSM seem reluctant to ask real questions of the candidates…..

The worse example is with Trump….the media will not ask a probing question….it is like they are afraid of this person……..

There are a few questions that need to be asked and especially answered without the manure that is usually spread….platitudes and slogans……

The news media has come under a lot of fire for journalistic malpractice when it came to Donald Trump. In March, Nick Kristof, a New York Times columnist wrote a piece on that subject called “My Shared Shame: The Media Helped Make Trump.” He accused the mainstream media of giving Trump undeserved free coverage while somehow skipping over the candidate’s obvious shortcomings.

Our first big failing was that television in particular handed Trump the microphone without adequately fact-checking him or rigorously examining his background, in a craven symbiosis that boosted audiences for both.

The truth is, the media has needed Trump like a crack addict needs a hit.”

Source: End of the Free Ride: 19 Questions the Mainstream Media Should Have Been Asking Donald Trump | Nomadic Politics

The media needs to stop being a willing participant in the propaganda machine of the candidates and start acting like something they use to be……a news organization…..they are NO longer entertaining….

Sept. 11 Legacy: One Endless War Against Many Radical Enemies

Last Sunday we observed the 9/11 attacks that caught the country by surprise…..those attacks led to the endless wars that we are fighting today and will probably last for a generation or more……

I read an excellent piece in NPR (you know them…the demon that the GOP has been fighting for decades)…..the article talks about our endless war of revenge (or some may call justice)……

The U.S. went to war after Sept. 11 and has now been fighting for 15 years, the longest unbroken period in its history. Despite disappointing results, there’s broad consensus it should continue.

Source: Sept. 11 Legacy: One Endless War Against Many Radical Enemies : Parallels : NPR

More perspective on the years following the attacks of 9/11……

From its opening salvo, in other words, this conflict has been an air war. With its 75% success rate, al-Qaeda’s 9/11 mission was a historic triumph, accurately striking three out of what assumedly were its four chosen targets.  (Though no one knows just where that plane in Pennsylvania was heading, undoubtedly it was either the Capitol or the White House to complete the taking out of the icons of American financial, military, and political power.)  In the process, almost 3,000 people who had no idea they were in the bombsights of an obscure movement on the other side of the planet were slaughtered.

Source: Bombs Away! A 9/11 Retrospective of America’s 15-Year Air War | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

Sad thing is that there is NO end in sight…..is our wars after 9’11 actually done anything to benefit the planet?

US Special Ops in Africa

For those that are not aware of the fact that US special ops are operating in Africa….all of Africa……that means US troops are doing their thing in Africa….But it is Africa and “no one cares about Africa” to quote a movie villain….

It was September 2014. The sky was bright and clear and ice blue as the camouflage-clad men walked to the open door and tumbled out into nothing. One moment members of the U.S. 19th Special Forces Group and Moroccan paratroopers were flying high above North Africa in a rumbling C-130 aircraft; the next, they were silhouetted against the cloudless sky, translucent green parachutes filling with air, as they began to drift back to earth.

Those soldiers were taking part in a Joint Combined Exchange Training, or JCET mission, conducted under the auspices of Special Operations Command Forward-West Africa out of Camp Ram Ram, Morocco. It was the first time in several years that American and Moroccan troops had engaged in airborne training together, but just one of many JCET missions in 2014 that allowed America’s best-equipped, best-trained forces to hone their skills while forging ties with African allies.

Source: Mission Impossible: Keeping Track of US Special Ops in Africa – Antiwar.com Original by — Antiwar.com

As long as I am posting on Africa I would like to expand your knowledge about the conflict in Mali…..

Image result for Mali

 

The conflict in Mali encompasses all parts of the country……but the hottest areas are the North and Central Mali……

In Central Mali their is an uprising that few are paying attention to……

While attention has focused on northern Mali, armed violence is escalating at an alarming rate in the centre of the country, long neglected by the state. The management of natural resources has given rise to multiple conflicts that the government and local elites are unable to control. For the past several months, a jihadist uprising has capitalised on the state’s lack of legitimacy and extended its influence. State representatives are being chased out of rural areas. Yet, violence also stems from settlings of scores, banditry and a growing number of self-defence militias. The peace agreement signed in Bamako in June 2015 applies primarily to northern regions and disregards the centre of the country. Mali’s government and its principal partners should renew their efforts to restore the state’s authority and legitimacy among all the communities of the area. Absent appropriate action, central Mali – an area more densely populated than the north and vital to the economy – risks becoming a source of protracted instability.

Source: Central Mali: An Uprising in the Making? | International Crisis Group

Speaking of Northern Mali…..child soldiers are being used in the fight…….

Abdallah is a 15-year-old boy with black curls and a shy, questioning look in his eyes. He has just arrived for the second stay in the giant refugee city in the Mauritanian desert. Before coming back, he had returned to Mali — as a skinny boy with a Kalashnikov around his neck. Abdallah was a child soldier.

Friends had told him about the Tuareg’s fight against the government and he returned with them to Mali where, upon reaching his hometown, he joined an armed group. Abdallah had gone to fight in the same war that had prompted his family to flee.

Source: Refugees in Mauritania and Child Soldiers in Mali – SPIEGEL ONLINE

It is a shame that the American people have so little knowledge of what is happening in Africa……there is more going on than the media is willing to cover.

The International Crisis Group does an excellent job tracking conflicts around the world….I recommend them for anyone that is caring enough to check out the rest of the world.