MENA, MENA, Tekel, Parsin (Middle East, North Africa & other Geopolitical Hotspots) 2018

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Daniel reads the words "MENE, MENE, TEKEL, and PARSIN" and interprets them for the king: "MENE, God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; TEKEL, you have been weighed ... and found wanting;" and "PERES, your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. Then Belshazzar gave the command, and Daniel was clothed in purple, a chain of gold was put around his neck, and a proclamation was made… that he should rank third in the kingdom; [and] that very night Belshazzar the Chaldean (Babylonian) king was killed, and Darius the Mede received the kingdom."[3]

Yemen, Israel, Syria, Iran and Iraq and more

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 05:51 (nine months ago) Permalink

https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/01/22/how-the-us-is-making-the-war-in-yemen-worse

U.S. officials tried to help the Saudis improve their targeting. They eventually expanded a “no strike” list to include thirty-three thousand targets. “We broadened and broadened and broadened that list over time as the Saudis kept striking things that we would have thought they wouldn’t strike,” Konyndyk told me. The State Department sent an expert, Larry Lewis, to Saudi Arabia. When a civilian target was hit, Lewis wanted to help the Saudis implement ways of investigating the incident, to “avoid the same kind of thing happening again,” he said. Lower-ranking Saudis seemed pained by the casualties. “There was definitely a feeling that, of course we want to protect civilians, you know, we’re good Muslims,” Lewis said. The Saudi leadership was less concerned; as Lewis put it, from the rank of lieutenant colonel upward “there was less pressure for change.”

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 05:55 (nine months ago) Permalink

Some 60,000 African migrants entered Israel prior to the construction of a barrier on its southern border with the Sinai in 2012. Israel, which considers them economic migrants, not refugees from persecution, until now has encouraged the Africans to leave by handing them cash — generally about $3,500 — and a plane ticket. About 20,000 have taken the offer, leaving nearly 40,000 in Israel, most living freely.

This month, Netanyahu said those who do not take the deportation offer face jail. Rwanda and Uganda reportedly are the likeliest destinations for deportees, though both governments deny it.

http://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/A-Jewish-philanthropist-furious-at-Israeli-treatment-of-African-refugees-534599

https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-birthright-may-nix-trip-for-african-jews-after-israel-deports-kenyan-convert-1.5630444

Plans to bring a first-ever group of Ugandan Jews to Israel on a Birthright trip are in jeopardy following the recent deportation of a member of their community.

The group of 40 Ugandans had been scheduled to arrive in Israel in late May on the free 10-day trip available to young Jewish adults from around the world. But Birthright officials are now concerned the group may be turned away upon arrival, just as 31-year-old Yehudah Kimani was, because the immigration authorities do not consider them Jewish...In late December, Kimani, who hails from Kenya but lived for a year among the Abayudaya while converting, was detained upon entering Israel and deported the following morning, even though he had a valid tourist visa.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 17 January 2018 06:02 (nine months ago) Permalink

Meanwhile in Afghanistan

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/asia_pacific/a-new-us-air-blitz-in-afghanistan-isnt-stopping-for-winter-but-will-it-stop-the-taliban/2018/01/16/c9bb874c-f4cd-11e7-9af7-a50bc3300042_story.html?utm_term=.bd28d37da643

The huge spike in airstrikes is the product of new rules of engagement, adopted as part of a strategy that President Trump announced in August. U.S. forces can now strike Taliban targets at will, whereas under the Obama administration they were restricted to defending Afghan forces under imminent attack.

“U.S. strategy is so military-centric. Even 100,000 troops couldn’t finish the Taliban, and ever since those days, they have been zealously confident,” said Borhan Osman, senior analyst for Afghanistan at the International Crisis Group. “The U.S. is misreading Taliban psychology. Their whole fight is about saying, ‘We were a legitimate government and you toppled us and installed a puppet government.’ This new U.S. strategy will only make them more willing to fight.”

U.S. military leaders acknowledge that the Taliban controls or contests nearly half of Afghanistan’s districts — a number that has slowly crept higher through the past year,

curmudgeon, Thursday, 18 January 2018 04:19 (nine months ago) Permalink

BBC:

Syria crisis: Why Turkey is poised to attack Kurdish enclave Afrin
Syria 'ready to down Turkish jets attacking Kurds Afrin'
Turkey targets Kurdish forces in Afrin: The short, medium and long story

Am I a bad person for hoping this provides a major distraction to the Trump administration from its North Korea plans?

Sanpaku, Thursday, 18 January 2018 22:26 (nine months ago) Permalink

You're not. Also because as far as distractions go, this one actually *means* something, instead of the 'my dad has a bigger car than your dad' USA-North Korea stupidity.

Fact of the matter is Trump's not spoken out on any of this. Obv for one, he doesn't even know where the hell Syria is, let alone have a plan or idea about it. The US army has handled things on their own pretty well actually, for once showing at least a hint of loyalty to the Kurds who helped push back ISIS.

The interesting thing is: will America budge when Erdogan puts things to the test? Am I a bad person for hoping your buffoon president will stick to his guns and fend off Turkey in this one? Slim chance, but it's one of the instances I find myself hoping Trump's narcissism actually brings something good to the table.

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Thursday, 18 January 2018 23:04 (nine months ago) Permalink

I guess this is not on Fox & Friends...http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-42771469

Plans for the operation were believed to have accelerated when US officials said earlier this month that it would help the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) alliance, which is dominated by the YPG, build a new "border security force" to prevent the return of IS.

Some 25,000 pro-Turkey fighters have joined the offensive, rebel commander Maj Yasser Abdul Rahim told Reuters. It is not clear how many Turkish soldiers are on the ground.

Turkey's military said it had hit 45 targets on Sunday, as part of its campaign.

It earlier said dozens of air strikes had taken out 153 targets belonging to Kurdish militants.

curmudgeon, Monday, 22 January 2018 20:42 (nine months ago) Permalink

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s president, said Turkish troops “will take no step back” and expressed frustration with US calls for restraint, accusing the US of arming Kurdish terrorist groups. Mr Erdogan also said that Russia had given its backing to the operation.

Both Rex Tillerson, the US secretary of state, and Federica Mogherini, the EU foreign policy chief, said they were concerned over the fighting.

There are a number of British and other Western volunteers fighting with Kurdish forces in northern Syria, raising the prospect that Western citizens might kill Turkish troops or be killed by them.

The involvement of Western citizens in the fighting against Turkish forces would likely add more strain to the already-fraught relationship between Turkey and the rest of Nato.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/01/22/us-backed-kurdish-forces-plead-washington-stop-turkish-attack/

curmudgeon, Monday, 22 January 2018 20:45 (nine months ago) Permalink

expressed frustration with US calls for restraint

This fucking guy.

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Monday, 22 January 2018 20:54 (nine months ago) Permalink

If Turkey keeps ignoring US calls for restraint, will Pentagon suggest more forceful action by US? Kurds may get dumped by US again.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 23 January 2018 21:44 (nine months ago) Permalink

There's no way US will stand up against Turkey by using force. Too much 'at stake'. Of course the Kurds will get dumped again. "No friends but the mountains."

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 23 January 2018 21:48 (nine months ago) Permalink

Seeing Pence and Netanyaho galloping hand in hand in the Knesset yesterday, while MP's protesting Pence's presence there were hauled away, made me vomit.

♫ very clever with maracas.jpg ♫ (Le Bateau Ivre), Tuesday, 23 January 2018 21:49 (nine months ago) Permalink

Israel and Egypt working together:

The jihadists in Egypt’s Northern Sinai had killed hundreds of soldiers and police officers, pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, briefly seized a major town and begun setting up armed checkpoints to claim territory. In late 2015, they brought down a Russian passenger jet.

Egypt appeared unable to stop them, so Israel, alarmed at the threat just over the border, took action.

For more than two years, unmarked Israeli drones, helicopters and jets have carried out a covert air campaign, conducting more than 100 airstrikes inside Egypt, frequently more than once a week — and all with the approval of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

The remarkable cooperation marks a new stage in the evolution of their singularly fraught relationship. Once enemies in three wars, then antagonists in an uneasy peace, Egypt and Israel are now secret allies in a covert war against a common foe.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/03/world/middleeast/israel-airstrikes-sinai-egypt.html

curmudgeon, Monday, 5 February 2018 16:51 (eight months ago) Permalink

This Israeli action is still in the news too. They want to send the mostly Sudanese and Eritrean men to Rwanda or Uganda:

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-israel-africa-migrants/cash-or-custody-israel-kicks-off-deportation-of-african-migrants-idUSKBN1FP214

Israel has started handing out notices to 20,000 male African migrants giving them two months to leave the country or risk being thrown in jail.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is offering the migrants, most of whom are from Sudan and Eritrea, $3,500 and a plane ticket to what it says is a safe destination in another country in sub-Saharan Africa.

The fate of some 37,000 Africans in Israel is posing a moral dilemma for a state founded as haven for Jews from persecution and a national home. The right-wing government is under pressure from its nationalist voter base to expel the migrants, while others are calling for them to be taken in.

curmudgeon, Monday, 5 February 2018 16:56 (eight months ago) Permalink

https://i.imgur.com/S6o0EoG.png

to this, add today's news about Israel, Syria, Iran, Russia:

JERUSALEM — Israel’s military said that one of its F-16 fighter jets crashed early Saturday in northern Israel after coming under heavy Syrian antiaircraft fire and after Israel had shot down an Iranian drone that penetrated Israeli airspace from Syria.

The events appeared to be Israel’s first direct engagement with Iranian forces across the increasingly volatile boundary in the Golan Heights, risking a new escalation in Syria’s multifaceted seven-year war in the area.

Early assessments suggested that the Israeli F-16 had been hit by Syrian antiaircraft fire, according to a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, though he added that nothing had been officially confirmed.

...This appeared to be the first time in decades, probably since the early 1980s, that an Israeli jet was downed under enemy fire. In the past, Syria has claimed, falsely, that it had shot down Israeli aircraft.

The jet crash represented a severe blow to Israel’s prestige and could mark a major change after years in which Israel has acted against targets in Syria with relative impunity.

The Israeli military said in statement that it “sees the Iranian attack and the Syrian response as a severe and irregular violation of Israeli sovereignty,” and added that it was “fully prepared for further action.”

After the initial assault on the drone launching facilities, Israel said later Saturday that it had attacked 12 additional targets, including three aerial defense batteries and four Iranian targets “that are part of Iran’s military establishment in Syria.”

Iran, along with Russia — which had helped propped up the government of President Bashar al- Assad in Syria — on Saturday denied any role in shooting down the Israeli jet.

...Israel seized the strategic plateau from Syria in the 1967 war and fought off an invasion there in 1973. Though the area remained quiet for decades, it has become a growing flash point throughout Syria’s war.

Israel has conducted hundreds of airstrikes in Syria during the war, largely targeting what it says are advanced weapons stores or convoys taking weapons to Hezbollah in neighboring Lebanon, but sometimes reportedly hitting Syrian government facilities involved in weapons development.

Syria’s government has always said that it would respond at a proper time and place, and it has occasionally returned fire with antiaircraft guns and missiles.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/02/10/world/middleeast/israel-iran-syria.html

Karl Malone, Saturday, 10 February 2018 17:42 (eight months ago) Permalink

I read that stuff before bed last night and dreamt that Israel had killed Nasrallah with a missile. Feel like one of the potential catastrophic wars that are potentially in the offing is going to start soon (well, remembering the Syrian Civil War has already been a catastrophic years long war).

khat person (jim in vancouver), Sunday, 11 February 2018 02:41 (eight months ago) Permalink

Israel is trying as well diplomatically to get Russia to restrain Iran. Doesn't seem to be working.

curmudgeon, Sunday, 11 February 2018 06:39 (eight months ago) Permalink

Did Israel clear its recent bombing missions in Syria with Russia?

curmudgeon, Monday, 12 February 2018 22:17 (eight months ago) Permalink

So Russia and Russian fighters have been supporting Syria and Iran, but for now Russia is being quiet about the retaliatory strikes by both Israel and the US. They must see them as one-off actions that will not impact their influence

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 22:01 (eight months ago) Permalink

i was thinking that they're likely concerned about escalation as well. things are going pretty tony for them in Syria and it has cost them a significant investment. w/ the sanctions, etc, they are likely v extended and cannot start taking on more conflagration. remember when the turkey stuff went down they ended up not making a huge deal out of it either (as i remember - someone else's recollection may be different). the alternative is that israel is liaisoning about the strikes at least in aggregate and russia is giving the thumbs up.

Mordy, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 22:10 (eight months ago) Permalink

When Israel boasted that it took out half of Syria's air defenses the other day, I saw a semi-conservative tweeter say "why didn't Obama do that when Syria used chemical weapons," although the tweeter then acknowledged that this still wouldn't have totally weakened Assad back then and necessarily changed things completely for the non-Isis (US supported) rebels then

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 22:52 (eight months ago) Permalink

i hadn't heard that boast! tbh i didn't follow it v closely so i didn't realize the campaign was so extensive. i do think iran would like to establish a front with israel from syria but i don't think they can afford to press it. w/ discontent at home, slowly recovering economy, these years of investment in syria, whatever amount they' re actually spending in yemen... i do wonder how extended they are too. it's so hard to measure the stability of these closed regimes but you'd have to think they are pretty thin and can't really afford to now pick a direct fight w/ israel.

Mordy, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 22:55 (eight months ago) Permalink

http://www.chicagotribune.com/la-fg-israel-iran-20180211-story.html#nt=featured-content

Israel estimates that it destroyed nearly half of Syria’s air defense system in a retaliatory air force sortie after one of its F-16 fighter jets was shot down by a Syrian missile, according to a military assessment provided to local news media Sunday.

The fighting broke out Saturday after an Iranian drone, launched from a site controlled by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, flew into Israeli airspace.

Israel said it hit eight Syrian army targets and four Iranian sites in Syria, including an Iranian command trailer at the so-called T4 base, near the ancient city of Palmyra, from which the drone was launched early Saturday. Israeli Apache helicopters downed the drone, and four F-16 jets were dispatched into Syrian territory to bomb the site from which it was launched.

One Israeli F-16 was hit by Syrian fire as it returned to Israel from the mission, leading to the massive Israeli retaliation.

The deputy commander of Israel’s air force, Brig. Gen. Tomer Bar, said Saturday that Israel’s aerial reprisal was “the biggest and most significant attack the air force has conducted against Syrian air defenses” since the 1982 Lebanon War....

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 13 February 2018 23:07 (eight months ago) Permalink

Kommersant is reporting that the attempt to seize the air base was unsanctioned and that the Russian mercs were under the command of a local businessman who wanted to capture nearby oil fields.

There is apparently footage of the bombing raid and it was pretty clear they had no air support, either from Russia or Syria. The story goes that they took out a lot of US and Kurdish soldiers and the US called in air strikes to maintain hold of the base.

I wouldn’t bet against this kind of thing happening again. Russia has done something similar to the US in Iraq and pulled most of their soldiers out - with private contractors filling the void in return for a cut of oil revenue. The controls are so weak, you’re probably going to get mercenaries fighting against each other at some point.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Wednesday, 14 February 2018 18:39 (eight months ago) Permalink

Good piece by Nataliya Valilyeva on the (officially) five Russians who were killed by the US airstrike:

https://apnews.com/410f9f2047d04460907ed08f3a9d3651

They were working for Wagner, the biggest private contractor / mercenary company - essentially Russia's answer to Blackwater.

It looks like there is pressure within the Duma to start properly regulating the contractors:

https://apnews.com/fb4bbb531e5b49df96652536afb66372

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Friday, 16 February 2018 10:10 (eight months ago) Permalink

U.N. security council report on Yemen that was released the other day is grim reading

https://reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/N1800513.pdf

khat person (jim in vancouver), Friday, 16 February 2018 17:39 (eight months ago) Permalink

Ugh.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 February 2018 06:03 (eight months ago) Permalink

Why more Iranians don't use "Ultrasurf" to access the internet

China, the world’s biggest Internet censor, objects to the development of programs that can circumvent its repressive censorship. Obama administration officials admitted that State Department funding decisions in such matters are based, at least in part, on the department’s desire to keep the Chinese from “go[ing] ballistic.” Now similar concerns for Chinese sensitivities appear to be shaping the Trump administration’s response to the Iranian people’s protests for freedom.

Iranians have been using UltraSurf to circumvent the mullahs’ censors, but recently the number of Iranian users has exploded to about 2 million, with daily hits on the website numbering about 1 billion. That’s the good news. The bad news is that because of the lack of funding from State, UltraSurf’s servers are in danger of crashing for lack of capacity to meet the exploding Iranian demand. Too many Iranians have joined the people in other closed societies who are trying to use the software.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/democracy-post/wp/2018/01/06/one-thing-the-trump-administration-can-do-right-now-to-help-protesters-in-iran/?utm_term=.4d1a9049f0d3

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 February 2018 06:09 (eight months ago) Permalink

More on Iran from a kinda neo-con, sometime moderate W. Post columnist Jackson Diehl

Iranians are still nationalists: More than 70 percent still favor developing missiles and a nuclear capacity. Only 16 percent told the pollsters that “Iran’s political system needs to undergo fundamental change.” Yet far fewer support the regime’s foreign adventures. Forty-two percent say “the government should spend less money in places like Syria and Iraq.” A plurality say Iran should negotiate with other countries rather than try to become a regional hegemon. And though 75 percent say the nuclear deal has not improved living conditions, 55 percent still favor it.

What this tells us is that one of the best ways to counter Iran’s interventions in Iraq, Yemen and Syria is to ally with the large bloc of Iranians who oppose them. In part that means helping Iranians find out what their government is up to; the news that it was planning to cut food subsidies while increasing spending on the Revolutionary Guard was one of the triggers of the protests.

Only a tiny number of Iranians — 8 percent, according to the new poll — get information from foreign radio broadcasts, but more than 60 percent depend on the Internet or apps such as Telegram. The United States could do a lot more to help people get around the regime’s attempts to block these channels.
...Rather than pursue such strategies, Trump seems intent on voiding the nuclear deal by May, basically on the grounds that it was negotiated by President Barack Obama. The pact is far from perfect, as I have argued before. For now, though, it has helped to open a rift between the regime and its public and created a potent new source of pressure on Tehran’s foreign adventures. If Trump kills it, expect some quiet celebrations in Tehran.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/global-opinions/the-nuclear-agreement-is-the-worst-deal-ever--for-iran/2018/02/18/b9849abe-1267-11e8-8ea1-c1d91fcec3fe_story.html?utm_term=.1ad3af041aea

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 February 2018 18:18 (eight months ago) Permalink

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/one-of-the-bloodiest-attacks-of-syrias-war-kills-over-100-in-a-rebel-held-damascus-suburb/2018/02/20/966127c2-161e-11e8-942d-16a950029788_story.html?hpid=hp_hp-top-table-main_syriaghouta-1116am%3Ahomepage%2Fstory&utm_term=.30af1600b0fc

Attacks by forces loyal to the Syrian government have killed more than 100 people in a rebel-held Damascus suburb, aid agencies and monitoring groups said Tuesday, calling it one of the bloodiest 24-hour periods in Syria’s seven-year war.

People cowered in their basements and doctors worked around the clock as warplanes pounded the cluster of towns and villages east of Damascus known as Ghouta, which government forces have surrounded for the past four years.

Even by the standards of Ghouta, the opposition’s isolated last bastion outside the capital, the latest assault has been brutal. Just last month, government warplanes killed at least 210 people and sent hundreds fleeing to what remained of the hospitals.

In the latest attack, hospitals appeared to be the target. More than five of them were hit on Monday, according to the Union of Medical Care and Relief Organizations (UOSSM). The France-based charity put the toll of the strikes on Monday at 97 dead and more than 500 injured.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 20 February 2018 18:55 (eight months ago) Permalink

Assad is brutal, and nothing will happen to him.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 15:03 (eight months ago) Permalink

Meanwhile, in another part of Syria--

Turkey warned on Wednesday that pro-Damascus forces would face “serious consequences” for entering Syria’s Afrin region to help Kurdish fighters repel a Turkish offensive.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-afrin/stakes-rise-in-turkeys-afrin-assault-as-pro-assad-militia-arrive-idUSKCN1G50ON

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 15:08 (eight months ago) Permalink

x-post: Got forbid anything happened to him. That would mean regime change.

Frederik B, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 17:43 (eight months ago) Permalink

given that apart from ypg the opposition are all takfiri jihadists there really isn't a "good" outcome to this horrible war

khat person (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 21 February 2018 17:48 (eight months ago) Permalink

http://www.dw.com/en/which-rebel-groups-are-fighting-in-syrias-eastern-ghouta/a-42663501

Of the 5 listed in this article, Faylaq al-Rahman: The Faylaq al-Rahman organization, or al-Rahman Legion, is also based in Eastern Ghouta, looks like the least bad

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 21 February 2018 19:40 (eight months ago) Permalink

there really isn't a "good" outcome to this horrible war

Considering the near-certainty that whoever wins on the battlefield will indulge in mass reprisal murders, even the outcome of "peace" won't bring much peace. As a practical matter, the fact that all sides understand the inevitability of reprisals means there is every motivation to fight on to complete exhaustion. The winners will rule over rubble, but at least they will be alive, and by now that's all this war is about: survival.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 21 February 2018 19:58 (eight months ago) Permalink

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2018/02/21/opinion/syria-ghouta-russia-isis.html?emc=edit_th_180222&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=37355772&referer=

NY Times Editorial Board says Assad and Russia should be charged with war crimes for current attacks on Ghouta

curmudgeon, Thursday, 22 February 2018 16:25 (eight months ago) Permalink

I kinda would like to see Assad out of office and facing a war crimes trial, even if Syria would just become Libya like, or requiring a UN presence to try to hold off all the other bad options. Alas, UN has messed up in Congo, and Russia, Iran and current US government would never support such an idea. A chaotic Syria without Assad using an Air Force to drop barrel bombs, might not be perfect, but it might be slightly less worse.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 22 February 2018 17:37 (eight months ago) Permalink

There's no reason to think it wouldn't be worse. Libya is now a failed state/nightmare of a country.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 18:04 (eight months ago) Permalink

And Syria isn't?

Frederik B, Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:34 (eight months ago) Permalink

In Syria if the jihadists are conclusively defeated - I'm no expert on military affairs but with the help of Russia, Iran, Hezbollah they might well be - Assad's government will be able establish control over the country, with a possibility of something similar to the status quo ante prevailing.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:40 (eight months ago) Permalink

So is an authoritarian state with Assad having an air force that drops barrel bombs, and has support from Russia, Iran, Hezbollah better than Libya? I dunno. Maybe less chaotic I guess, and thanks to Assad's ruthlessness, lots less people around.

curmudgeon, Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:51 (eight months ago) Permalink

The benefits of a central authority, no matter that it is despotic, is better than total chaos and lawlessness.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:56 (eight months ago) Permalink

I also believe, fairly strongly, that if somehow, magically the people rebelling against Assad could gain control over the country, it would be a hellhole.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 20:59 (eight months ago) Permalink

Wikipedia says there's been something like 400.000 people killed in the Syrian civil war and 10.000 in the Libya Civil War. Take that with a BIG grain of salt, but still. And not getting rid of Assad means the country could explode all over again. It's not the first uprising they've defeated.

Frederik B, Thursday, 22 February 2018 21:03 (eight months ago) Permalink

this study from 2015 had casualties at 20k for the Libyan Civil Wars (2011 and 2014-present) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2211419X15000348 Although Syria is more than 3 times more populous than Libya obviously the war there has just been so much more brutal, with huge atrocities from both sides, most notably government forces deliberate targeting of civilians, and targeting of enemy forces in populated areas in ways sure to kill many civilians - war crimes.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 21:14 (eight months ago) Permalink

I also believe, fairly strongly, that if somehow, magically the people rebelling against Assad could gain control over the country, it would be a hellhole.

What do you think Assad turned Aleppo into? What do you think he's doing now to Ghouta?

curmudgeon, Thursday, 22 February 2018 21:38 (eight months ago) Permalink

Yeah I'm aware we're talking about the outcome from the end of the conflict. The outcome of the Civil War in Libya that ousted Gaddafi is a failed state and an ongoing war that has no signs of abating. In Syria this war may finally come to a conclusion soon.

khat person (jim in vancouver), Thursday, 22 February 2018 22:01 (eight months ago) Permalink

only in the sense that it'll become an occupation. assad is still going to need to ongoingly pacify resistance. the war isn't coming to a true *conclusion* imo any time soon, and this is putting aside that iran may be spoiling for a new war right around the corner w/ israel.

Mordy, Thursday, 22 February 2018 22:04 (eight months ago) Permalink

It nicely absolves the British, Ottoman and Russian empires for their behaviour in the 20th century for one thing and sticks all the blame on those inherently-violent Jews and Arabs

Never changed username before (cardamon), Saturday, 30 June 2018 22:23 (three months ago) Permalink

Müslüm Gündüz, the head sheikh of the hardline Aczmendi sect, told the Islamist TV channel Akit TV that those inspired by the founder of the Turkish republic should be forced out of the country, left-wing news site Gazete Tamam said .

“We know the Kemalists well and they know us well. Either they will leave this country or we will. While we are around, the Kemalists cannot be at ease,” Gündüz said.

“Kemalism is against human nature. It is against human morality. It is a system to force Anatolian people to be immoral.”

Kemalism, an ideology named after founding president of Turkey Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, has been a major secular force in Turkish politics since that time.

But the ideology made people into anarchists and terrorists, Gündüz said.

The Kemalist opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) was a “religious movement” trying to compete with Islam, he added.

ogmor, Thursday, 5 July 2018 13:26 (three months ago) Permalink

Basically calling for a purge of secularists?

officer sonny bonds, lytton pd (mayor jingleberries), Thursday, 5 July 2018 13:49 (three months ago) Permalink

He has been saying the same thing since 1996.

I wouldn't bet he has more followers than the average Turkish high school has pictures of Ataturk, tbh.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Thursday, 5 July 2018 15:24 (three months ago) Permalink

let's hope so. I've not heard much good news coming out of turkey

ogmor, Thursday, 5 July 2018 18:44 (three months ago) Permalink

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/israeli-saudi-and-emirati-officials-privately-pushed-for-trump-to-strike-a-grand-bargain-with-putin

During a private meeting shortly before the November, 2016, election, Mohammed bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, floated to a longtime American interlocutor what sounded, at the time, like an unlikely grand bargain. The Emirati leader told the American that Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, might be interested in resolving the conflict in Syria in exchange for the lifting of sanctions imposed in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

Current and former U.S. officials said that bin Zayed, known as M.B.Z., was not the only leader in the region who favored rapprochement between the former Cold War adversaries. While America’s closest allies in Europe viewed with a sense of dread Trump’s interest in partnering with Putin, three countries that enjoyed unparallelled influence with the incoming Administration—Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E.—privately embraced the goal. Officials from the three countries have repeatedly encouraged their American counterparts to consider ending the Ukraine-related sanctions in return for Putin’s help in removing Iranian forces from Syria.

Experts say that such a deal would be unworkable, even if Trump were interested. They say Putin has neither the interest nor the ability to pressure Iranian forces to leave Syria. Administration officials have said that Syria and Ukraine will be among the topics that Trump and Putin will discuss at their summit in Helsinki on July 16th. White House officials did not respond to a request for comment.

curmudgeon, Friday, 13 July 2018 04:33 (three months ago) Permalink

This looks very plausible to me - both sides exploring back-channels, encouraged by shared allies, to see whether they could reach a mutually-beneficial foreign policy arrangement and both coming to the conclusion that they couldn't. I doubt the Trump side has given up hope completely, given how central Iran is to a lot of their thinking, but i can't really envisage Russia changing position.

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Friday, 13 July 2018 12:12 (three months ago) Permalink

Meanwhile, Assad's brutal campaign marches on through Daraa where the revolution first began...

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle_east/syrian-rebels-agree-to-give-up-daraa-cradle-of-2011-revolt/2018/07/12/ae882330-85bf-11e8-9e06-4db52ac42e05_story.html?utm_term=.4dd05a33dedc

For the first time in more than seven years, the Syrian government raised its flag Thursday over Daraa, the first city to revolt against President Bashar Assad in 2011 and plunge the country into its calamitous civil war.

The display is laden with symbolism as the government moves to stamp out the last of the uprising against the 52-year-old Assad who has ruled with an iron fist over Syria for 18 years. His father Hafez Assad was president for three decades before him.

Officials accompanied by state media crews hoisted the two-star flag over the rubble of the city’s main square, allowing it to wave in sight of the shell of the Omari Mosque where protesters first gathered in demonstrations demanding reforms then Assad’s ouster in the spring of 2011.

The mosque has since been destroyed in the government’s brutal crackdown against the city, which ranged from alleged torturing of dissidents to shelling the city with tanks and planes.

curmudgeon, Saturday, 14 July 2018 00:33 (three months ago) Permalink

A (recently turned right-wing) friend of mine posted an article saying that Syria was welcoming back the people who had fled, so why should we give them asylum. The worst.

Leaghaidh am brón an t-anam bochd (dowd), Saturday, 14 July 2018 01:11 (three months ago) Permalink

Welcome back! We kill you now.

A is for (Aimless), Saturday, 14 July 2018 03:42 (three months ago) Permalink

Thought this was really interesting: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/27/sunday-review/obama-egypt-coup-trump.html

Frederik B, Friday, 27 July 2018 16:04 (two months ago) Permalink

Yes, a good article.

And talking of fault lines within an administration...

https://www.dailysabah.com/diplomacy/2018/07/27/turkey-blames-pence-as-brunson-drama-reveals-fault-lines-inside-trump-administration

Wag1 Shree Rajneesh (ShariVari), Friday, 27 July 2018 16:15 (two months ago) Permalink

"Together we can rebuild it... Afrin". #WhiteHelmets are set and ready to go in the city of #Afrin for their latest community work campaigns to restore the city to its former beauty and utility. #Syria pic.twitter.com/wEwR7X3xC2

— The White Helmets (@SyriaCivilDef) August 1, 2018

kind of a gross tweet considering the turks and islamists just ethnically cleansed Afrin

( ͡☉ ͜ʖ ͡☉) (jim in vancouver), Wednesday, 1 August 2018 21:42 (two months ago) Permalink

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/saudi-arabia-ruptures-ties-with-canada-serving-notice-to-would-be-critics/2018/08/06/5ad193f6-99a7-11e8-b55e-5002300ef004_story.html?utm_term=.69f28676839a

It was hardly the first time the kingdom, an absolute monarchy, had been chided for human rights abuses, or even the first time Canada had criticized the Saudi government since it started arresting the female activists in May. But under Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s young crown prince, a kingdom once known for its go-slow approach to foreign affairs has frequently reacted to perceived challenges from abroad with haste, spit and fire, analysts said.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 7 August 2018 02:58 (two months ago) Permalink

"In These Times" re US support of Saudi Arabia in Yemen--

Yemenis require much more than vague assurances and promises. What Yemenis need is for the United States to end all its support to the Saudi-led coalition, which includes pulling out troops from the Saudi-Yemen border, ending all refueling missions and targeting assistance, ending all military contracts involving the training of Saudi military personnel and the maintenance of military vehicles and aircraft, and ending all sales of weapons to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

http://inthesetimes.com/article/21361/yemen-war-national-defense-authorization-act-bombing-civilians-saudi-arabia

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 7 August 2018 03:17 (two months ago) Permalink

How much oil does Yemen have?

(That was rhetorical. It's not much, Nexen Canada operated the main field in Yemen, was bought out by Chinese CNOOC in 2012, who are abandoning it).

Roomba with an attitude (Sanpaku), Tuesday, 7 August 2018 04:50 (two months ago) Permalink

Yep.

curmudgeon, Tuesday, 7 August 2018 18:05 (two months ago) Permalink

Saudis, Al Queda, and the US

The deals uncovered by the AP investigation reflect the contradictory interests of the two wars being waged simultaneously in the southwestern corner of the Arabian Peninsula.

In one conflict, the US is working with its Arab allies - particularly the UAE - with the aim of eliminating al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). But the larger mission is to win the civil war against the Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.

And in that fight, al-Qaeda fighters are effectively on the same side as the Saudi-led coalition and, by extension, the US.

"Elements of the US military are clearly aware that much of what the US is doing in Yemen is aiding AQAP and there is much angst about that," said Michael Horton, a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation.

"However, supporting the UAE and Saudi Arabia against what the US views as Iranian expansionism takes priority over battling AQAP and even stabilising Yemen," Horton said.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/08/report-saudi-uae-coalition-cut-deals-al-qaeda-yemen-180806074659521.html

the [Saudi] coalition cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself.

https://apnews.com/f38788a561d74ca78c77cb43612d50da/Yemen:-US-allies-don't-defeat-al-Qaida-but-pay-it-to-go-away

curmudgeon, Friday, 10 August 2018 03:25 (two months ago) Permalink

I'm sure that'll all be fine

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Friday, 10 August 2018 03:44 (two months ago) Permalink

Pretty much the story of the Sunni Awakening during the Iraq war. Thousands who had been bombing convoys the prior year were put on the payroll. Cheaper to pay them to do nothing than to patch up after IEDs.

Roomba with an attitude (Sanpaku), Friday, 10 August 2018 04:21 (two months ago) Permalink

Meanwhile, Saudi coalition air attacks that kill children continue:

An airstrike from the Saudi-led coalition struck a school bus in northern Yemen on Thursday and killed dozens of people, many of them children, local medical officials and international aid groups said.

The attack sent a flood of victims to overwhelmed hospitals struggling to cope in what the United Nations considers one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.

The coalition said it had hit missile launchers and called the attack a “legitimate military operation,” but the attack and the justification for it were condemned and drew new attention to the tremendous human toll of the war in Yemen, especially on children.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/09/world/middleeast/yemen-airstrike-school-bus-children.html

curmudgeon, Friday, 10 August 2018 12:50 (two months ago) Permalink

Astonishing graphic from @CNN, identifying civilian massacres in Yemen with the bomb makers - Raytheon, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. This should be standard in war reporting. Searing images. https://t.co/EZqkSsAri6 pic.twitter.com/NWJvPuN7ct

— Tim Shorrock (@TimothyS) August 18, 2018

a Mets fan who gave up on everything in the mid '80s (Dr Morbius), Monday, 20 August 2018 19:30 (two months ago) Permalink

For the sort of people who would invest in Raytheon, that's just getting good notices in the press.

A is for (Aimless), Monday, 20 August 2018 19:40 (two months ago) Permalink

The weak crumble, are slaughtered and are erased from history while the strong, for good or for ill, survive. The strong are respected, and alliances are made with the strong, and in the end peace is made with the strong.

— PM of Israel (@IsraeliPM) August 29, 2018

𝔠𝔞𝔢𝔨 (caek), Thursday, 30 August 2018 21:08 (one month ago) Permalink

not creepy at all

Karl Malone, Thursday, 30 August 2018 21:08 (one month ago) Permalink

what in almighty fuck

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 30 August 2018 21:44 (one month ago) Permalink

not creepy nazi at all

difficult listening hour, Thursday, 30 August 2018 21:47 (one month ago) Permalink

How much do you bench

— Scott (@firescotch) August 30, 2018

illegal economic migration (Tracer Hand), Thursday, 30 August 2018 22:05 (one month ago) Permalink

Air raids have pounded areas in Syria's last rebel-held province of Idlib, killing several civilians and raising further concerns that an all-out government offensive is only a matter of time.

The strikes on Tuesday came as the United Nations urged Russia, a Syrian government ally, and Turkey, which backs certain rebel groups in Idlib, to help avert a "bloodbath".

A full-scale military offensive would be devastating for the nearly three million people living in the province, including many rebels and civilians who were bussed out of other areas as they came back under government control.

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/syria-war-warplanes-hit-idlib-targets-fears-battle-mount-180904095502071.html

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 04:50 (one month ago) Permalink

No stopping dictator Assad.

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 5 September 2018 14:09 (one month ago) Permalink

This is what Assad anticipated when he began driving refugees into Idlib.

As a strategy, it was exceptionally effective. He got a modest bit of credit by appearing lenient. The areas the refugees left became much easier to reassert control over and less costly to feed. Idlib was burdened by hundreds of thousands of people where there was no infrastructure to support them. Now they are fish in a barrel and he can finish them off.

A is for (Aimless), Wednesday, 5 September 2018 17:44 (one month ago) Permalink

two weeks pass...

this is worth a read, from a journalist who's been allowed in

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/a-close-up-look-at-the-forgotten-war-in-yemen-a-1228775-amp.html

ogmor, Tuesday, 25 September 2018 16:31 (four weeks ago) Permalink

last year May said she would and could talk about human rights issues with our good friends and trading partners The Saudis. I bet she's got bugger all to say about this.

calzino, Monday, 8 October 2018 10:29 (two weeks ago) Permalink

I would love to be proven wrong, but the reactions that this will be a big crisis for the Saudi/US relationship seems a bit naive? Why would Trump think anything was wrong with killing journalists...

Frederik B, Monday, 8 October 2018 13:35 (two weeks ago) Permalink

Not just a bit. I’m still hoping they don’t start killing journalists here too!

Mordy, Monday, 8 October 2018 15:23 (two weeks ago) Permalink

A friend of mine wrote this:
https://fpif.org/syrias-long-war-will-be-decided-in-these-three-theaters/

Seems like a pretty good update on what is going on in Syria.

DJI, Wednesday, 10 October 2018 21:30 (one week ago) Permalink

The issue for Trump is that the Senate call for an investigation of Kashoggi's disappearance was made to invoke Magnitsky_Act provisions. They're will of course be foot dragging (I'm not sure if the 2017 sanctions on Russia have been enforced yet).

godless hippie skank (Sanpaku), Tuesday, 16 October 2018 16:44 (one week ago) Permalink

Lots of foot dragging

curmudgeon, Wednesday, 17 October 2018 20:21 (six days ago) Permalink

Was reading crazy right-wing nut tweets about their view that Kashoggi was associated with Bin Laden, and even if he wasn't -- the real enemy is Iran not Saudi Arabia...

curmudgeon, Thursday, 18 October 2018 04:23 (five days ago) Permalink

Did the Saudis not realize that Turkey would probably have the consulate bugged? Or did they think Erdogan wouldn’t seize the opportunity to drive a wedge into the Jared-MBS bromance? Seems like total amateur hour. The Russians would never be this clumsy.

o. nate, Thursday, 18 October 2018 15:17 (five days ago) Permalink

https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/national-international/Afghan-Security-Meeting-Shooting-US-Troops-Hurt-497914931.html

Three top officials in the Afghan province of Kandahar were killed by their own guards in an attack at a security meeting that also wounded two U.S. troops, Afghan officials said Thursday.

A Taliban spokesman who claimed responsibility for the attack tells The Associated Press that U.S. Gen. Scott Miller, commander of U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan, was the target. NATO officials say Miller escaped unharmed.

Kandahar's deputy provincial governor Agha Lala Dastageri said powerful provincial police chief Abdul Razik and the province's intelligence chief Abdul Mohmin died immediately in the attack and provincial governor Zalmay Wesa died of his injuries at a hospital.

omar little, Thursday, 18 October 2018 16:55 (five days ago) Permalink

Abdul Raziq, the head of the Kandahar police, had been accused of systematic human rights violations. He was killed by the Taliban who are pretty brutal themselves. Afghanistan, what a mess.

curmudgeon, Friday, 19 October 2018 04:09 (four days ago) Permalink

I'm not sure much of the world would object to a Wall surrounding the Graveyard of Empires.

godless hippie skank (Sanpaku), Friday, 19 October 2018 16:49 (four days ago) Permalink

what fresh hell would have been unleashed if a goddamn US general was killed in that op? when your 17 year old war is going great!

officer sonny bonds, lytton pd (mayor jingleberries), Friday, 19 October 2018 18:58 (four days ago) Permalink

The Russians would never be this clumsy.

The Skripal debacle suggests otherwise.

Alma Kirby (Tom D.), Friday, 19 October 2018 19:08 (four days ago) Permalink

... not to mention Litvinenko's assassins leaving a trail of radiocative polonium throughout London from their hotel room to the place they poisoned him and the two clowns who were recently thrown out of the Netherlands for trying to hack into the lab that was carrying out analysis on Novichok samples left behind by the two geniuses who went after the Skripals

Alma Kirby (Tom D.), Friday, 19 October 2018 19:15 (four days ago) Permalink

I think that the Litvinenko case and maybe the Skripal case as well were intended to be obviously Russian handiwork. I mean you don't poison someone with a rare radioactive isotope that only a government could get a hold of if you don't intend to leave a calling card. I think Putin got about the level of deniability that he intended to get in that case. And if it weren't for some lucky breaks in the Skripal case, it's likely there never would have been an identification of the suspects, and even then it took months. I don't think these cases are really comparable to the total shitshow that the Khashoggi case has been for the Saudis.

o. nate, Monday, 22 October 2018 00:55 (yesterday) Permalink

The Skripal case was a shitshow as well. The targets survived, and two other people died. That is not how assassinations are supposed to go.

Frederik B, Monday, 22 October 2018 07:17 (yesterday) Permalink

Fair point. The attempted cover up with the tv interview of those 2 guys was pretty amateurish as well.

o. nate, Monday, 22 October 2018 15:06 (yesterday) Permalink


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