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Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

MoA – OPCW Manufactured A Pretext For War By Suppressing Its Own Scientists’ Research

Posted by M. C. on December 2, 2019

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/11/opcw-manufactured-a-pretext-for-war-by-suppressing-its-own-scientists-research.html

Moon of Alabama

OPCW Manufactured A Pretext For War By Suppressing Its Own Scientists’ Research

Leaks from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) prove that the OPCW management ignored or manipulated reports its Fact Finding Mission had written about the April 2018 Douma incident in Syria.

The history of the Douma incident and the OPCW and media manipulation around it is available from the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media under the headline: How the OPCW’s investigation of the Douma incident was nobbled. Our own posts around the incident are linked below.

The OPCW management ignored that the technical, chemical and medical analysis of its own specialists exculpated the Syrian government from the allegation that it poisoned some 40 people in Douma by dropping Chlorine canisters from a helicopter.

The OPCW scientific staff found that dropping the canisters could not have created the damage that was found. Those canisters must have been placed by hand. The amount of chlorinated organic chemicals found at the two scenes was very low and it is very unlikely that they are the result of a reaction with chlorine gas. The medical symptoms of the casualties as was seen in various videos at the time of the incident were inconsistent with death by chlorine inhalation.

The OPCW management twisted the interim and the final OPCW report on the incident to make it look as if the Syrian government was guilty of dropping chlorine canisters. The detailed internal technical analysis was ignored. It was replaced by external analysis from unknown sources who claimed the opposite of what the OPCW engineers and chemists had found. The wording of the report suggests that high levels of chlorinated organic chemicals were found without giving the very low concentrations (in parts per billions) that were actually found. The internal medical analysis was eliminated from the official report.

OPCW emails and documents were leaked and whistleblowers came forward to speak with journalists and international lawyers. Veteran journalist Jonathan Steele, who has spoken with the whistleblowers, wrote an excellent piece on the issues. In the Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens picked up the issue and moved it forward:

New sexed-up dossier furore: Explosive leaked email claims that UN watchdog’s report into alleged poison gas attack by Assad was doctored – so was it to justify British and American missile strikes on Syria?.

The ‘citizen journalists’ of the U.S. government financed Bellingcat propaganda shop made a laughable attempt to refute the claims the whistleblower made. Caitlin Johnstone took it apart.

Hitchens also responded to the Bellingcat scam: Bellingcat or Guard Dog for the Establishment?.

Quoting Bellingcat Peter Hitchens (PH) writes:

Bellingcat:
However, a comparison of the points raised in the letter against the final Douma report makes it amply clear that the OPCW not only addressed these points, but even changed the conclusion of an earlier report to reflect the concerns of said employee.PH:
Apart from the words ‘a’, and ‘the’, everything in the above paragraph is, to put it politely, mistaken. Bellingcat have been so anxious to trash the leak from the OPCW that they have (as many did when the attack was first released) rushed to judgment without waiting for the facts. More is known by the whistleblowers of the OPCW than has yet been released, but verification procedures have slowed down its release. More documents will, I expect, shortly come to light.

One, which I have seen, is very interesting. It is a memorandum of protest, written many months after the e-mail of protest published at the weekend. This was sent to the OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias (there is some doubt about whether it ever reached him) by an OPCW investigator (one of those who actually visited Douma), on 14th March 2019. It has reached me through hitherto reliable sources. This is nearly two weeks *after* the release of the ‘final’ report (on Friday 1st March 2019) which is supposed to have resolved the doubts of the dissenters.

In his discussion of the issue Hitchens also mentions this blog:

[The OPCW report claim] ‘Various chlorinated organic chemicals were found in samples from Locations 2 and 4, along with residues of explosive. These results are reported in Annex 3. Work by the team to establish the significance of these results is ongoing.’ resulted in some quite remarkable media reports. These are explored here:https://www.moonofalabama.org/2018/07/syria-many-media-lie-about-watchdog-report-on-the-chemical-attack-in-douma.html

Bellingcat and its supporters may not like the source, and I do not much like it myself, but it is a unique record, as far as I know, of the initial media response to the issue of the July 6 report. I have in fact checked its claims with Reuters and the BBC and they do not dispute what it says, though they say they later corrected the output.

It is sad, Peter, that you don’t like this blog much but I am afraid I can do nothing about it.

A few hours ago Hitchens published another piece: In defense of journalism – ‘Citizen journalists’ are no such thing. In it he again takes on Bellingcat and other such ‘citizen journalists’ and ‘researchers’ to then reveal that he himself has now talked to an OPCW whistleblower:

Luckily for me I have had the backing of people who know deep down that journalism must take risks to be any good. Someone had to say ‘yes’ to me when I headed off at short notice a few days ago, on my complicated way to a safe house somewhere in a major city on the European continent.Someone had to fork out for my train fares and my cheap station hotels. Someone had to have the guts to let me tell my story about what I found when I got there — which was an honest man in turmoil. His job was to tell the truth and he was being prevented from doing so. So I could help him. In four decades of journalism, I have seldom felt closer to the Holy Grail, truth that had to be told, and truth that would shake power. Here it was. A pretext for war had been manufactured by suppression of research.

The “pretext for war” can not refer to the missile strike F-UK-US launched on April 16 2018, 8 days after the Douma incident and before any OPCW inspectors had visited the site.

Hitchens must refer to an upcoming war that was supposed to be based on the now disgraced OPCW report.

There is indeed a possible path to war…

The OPCW scientists found serious evidence that the Syrian government can NOT be guilty of the Douma incident. Under U.S. pressure the OPCW management suppressed its scientists’ technical reports or replaced them with those from “external experts” to make it look as if the Syrian government caused the incident. The new attribution group at the OPCW will use that manipulated report to find Syria guilty of causing the incident. The U.S. and others could then use that guilty verdict as pretext to launch a war.

We only learned of this plan because courageous scientists and engineers at the OPCW do not want to see their organization abused to find pretexts to wage wars on the innocent. They came forward and told the public what it needs to know. They deserve our gratitude.

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The Small But Brave Cadre of Conservative Anti-War Republicans – The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on November 21, 2019

424 are pro-war, pro-interventionism, anti-peace.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-brave-cadre-of-conservative-anti-war-republicans/

They didn’t put their finger to the political wind when it came to Syria and Yemen.

Rep. Thomas Massie, R-Ky., speaks to reporters, Tuesday, May 28, 2019. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

A comparative case study has demonstrated that only one political party has a principled (albeit small) contingent of legislators who care more about ending U.S. intervention overseas than partisan positioning.

In February, the House of Representatives voted in favor of House Joint Resolution 37, which directed “the removal of United States Armed Forces from hostilities in the Republic of Yemen that have not been authorized by Congress.” This, along with its complementary senate vote, was the first congressional invocation of the War Powers Act in the law’s history.

Then last month, the House voted in favor of House Joint Resolution 77, a resolution condemning “the decision to end certain United States efforts to prevent Turkish military operations against Syrian Kurdish forces in Northeast Syria.” This vote was in opposition to President Donald Trump’s announced withdrawal from the Syrian-Turkish border.

 

Neither U.S. involvement in the Syrian Civil War, nor U.S. material support for the Saudi-led war on Yemen have been authorized by Congress, making them illegal American wars. The Trump administration opposed both resolutions, and stopping House Joint Resolution 37 was only the second veto of Donald Trump’s presidency.

Out of the House’s 435 members, only 11 voted to end both the war in Yemen and to draw down in Syria. They are Andy Biggs of Arizona, Mo Brooks of Alabama, Warren Davidson of Ohio, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Louie Gohmert of Texas, Trey Hollingsworth of Indiana, Jim Jordan of Ohio, Thomas Massie of Kentucky, Mark Meadows of North Carolina, Alex Mooney of West Virginia, and Bill Posey of Florida.

Notice anything? They’re all Republicans. But that shouldn’t surprise you.

“There is a long and honorable tradition within the Republican Party of anti-interventionism, of nationalism, what’s sometimes called isolationism, which technically isn’t a friendly or accurate term,” explains historian Jeff Taylor, who chairs the Department of Political Science at Dordt University.

“Back to the Progressive Era, even before the rise of the modern conservative movement, you had an anti-establishment; I would call it a populist-nationalist movement within the Republican Party,” Taylor says. “Back then [it was] led by men such as Robert La Follette in the U.S. senate, and there were others . . . Hiram Johnson of California and William Borah of Idaho.”

“This was a tradition that had eloquent individuals who had fiercely held beliefs, and some of them had positions of power.”

Another example in this lineage is Ohio Senator Robert Taft who opposed U.S. entry into the NATO alliance and called the Korean War unconstitutional. Taft, son of the former president and a three-time national candidate in his own right, was so associated with the GOP and its Midwestern base that he was known as “Mr. Republican.”

In the modern era, this same spirit imbued the presidential campaigns of both Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul—the former in his fight against the Gulf War and George H.W. Bush’s aspirations towards a New World Order, and the latter in his opposition to the War on Terror and its resultant overseas regime changes.

Today, there is an 11-person cadre of Republican congressmen willing to put constitutional devotion, fiscal sanity, and ethical antipathy to feckless wars above political expediency…

Massie is correct. No Democrat voted to continue intervention in Yemen, and simultaneously no Democrat voted to defend withdrawing from northern Syria. Every member automatically took the inverse view of the Trump administration. Democratic opposition to war is partisan, not principled.

Hawaii representative and Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard voted in favor of the Yemen resolution in February and did not vote on House Joint Resolution 77 regarding Syria. Her office did not return a request for comment to explain her absence. Gabbard has since introduced her own Syria withdrawal resolution.

Republican-turned-Independent representative from Michigan Justin Amash voted “Present” on both resolutions. Amash’s haughty attitude stems from his contention that such resolutions present a “false choice.” This did not prevent the congressman from calling President Trump a “fraud” for vetoing the same Yemen resolution he refused to support.

Both Republican voters and the broader peace movement ought to be proud that there is a resolute core of House members continuing the non-interventionist legacy of the Old Right. In the words of the late Justin Raimondo, it’s incumbent upon us to continue “reconstructing a conservative philosophy centered around liberty and the authentic American character, rather than a lust for power and an addiction to war.”

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The Hugely Important OPCW Scandal Keeps Unfolding. Here’s Why No One’s Talking About It. – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on November 18, 2019

Investigators experienced pressures against saying anything about their mounting findings that no chemical attack occurred, with Alex calling it “the elephant in the room which no-one dared mention explicitly”.

https://caitlinjohnstone.com/2019/11/17/the-hugely-important-opcw-scandal-keeps-unfolding-heres-why-no-ones-talking-about-it/

The Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons is now hemorrhaging evidence that the US and its allies deceived the world once again about yet another military intervention, which should be a front-page story all over the world. Yet if you looked at American news media headlines you’d think the only thing that matters right now is indulging the childish fantasy that Donald Trump might somehow magically be removed from office via supermajority consensus in a majority-Republican Senate.

CounterPunch has published an actual bombshell of a report by journalist Jonathan Steele containing many revelations about the OPCW scandal which were previously unknown to the public. Steele is an award-winning reporter who worked as a senior foreign correspondent for The Guardian back before that outlet was purged of all critical thinkers on western imperialism; he first waded into the OPCW controversy last month with a statement made on the BBC revealing the existence of a second whistleblower on the organisation’s investigation into an alleged chemical weapons attack in Douma, Syria.

If you haven’t been following this story you can click here for a timeline of events to fully appreciate the significance of these new revelations about the Douma incident, but just to quickly recap, in April of last year reports surfaced that dozens of civilians had been killed in that city by chemical weapons used by the Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad. This immediately drew skepticism from people who’ve been paying attention to the narrative manipulation campaign against Syria, since Assad had already won the battle for Douma and had no strategic reason to employ banned weapons there knowing that there would be a military strike in retaliation from western powers. True to form, a few days later the US, France and the UK launched airstrikes on the Syrian government.

The OPCW released its final report on Douma in March of this year, but that report has been contradicted by two separate whistleblowers from the Douma investigation. The first surfaced in May of this year with a leaked Engineering Assessment claiming the chlorine cylinders found at the crime scene were unlikely to have been dropped from the air, and that it was far more likely that they were manually placed there, i.e. staged, by the occupying opposition forces in Douma. The second whistleblower came forward last month with a day-long presentation in Brussels before a panel of experts assembled by the whistleblowing defense group Courage Foundation, the findings of which were published by WikiLeaks.

This new report by Steele focuses on information provided to him by the second whistleblower, who is going by the pseudonym “Alex” out of fear for his safety. The information provided by Alex has turned out to be far more incendiary even than the leaked Engineering Assessment. Here are seven major highlights (hyperlinks go to the relevant article text they reference):

1- US government officials attempted to pressure OPCW investigators into believing that the Assad government was responsible for the Douma incident. The officials were placed in the same room as the investigators by the OPCW’s then-cabinet chief Bob Fairweather, which the investigators of course felt was a grossly inappropriate breach of the OPCW’s commitment to impartiality. For the record the US government already has a known history of bullying the OPCW, an ostensibly independent and international body, to force it to allow the advancement of pre-existing regime change agendas.

2- Alex reports that internal dissent on the OPCW’s official publications on the Douma incident was far more ubiquitous than previously known, saying “Most of the Douma team felt the two reports on the incident, the Interim Report and the Final Report, were scientifically impoverished, procedurally irregular and possibly fraudulent.”

3- All but one member of the team agreed with the Engineering Assessment that it was far more likely that the chlorine cylinders were manually placed on the scene by people on the ground.

4- Ian Henderson, the South African ballistics expert whose name was signed on the leaked Engineering Assessment, seems to have been responsible for leaking it. The identity of the leaker was not previously known to the public.

5- Investigators experienced pressures against saying anything about their mounting findings that no chemical attack occurred, with Alex calling it “the elephant in the room which no-one dared mention explicitly”.

6- The OPCW’s Final Report on the Douma incident explicitly claimed the investigation found “reasonable grounds that the use of a toxic chemical as a weapon took place. This toxic chemical contained reactive chlorine. The toxic chemical was likely molecular chlorine.” Yet according to Alex the levels of chlorinated organic chemicals found on the scene “were no higher than you would expect in any household environment” and were in fact “much lower than what would be expected in environmental samples”, comparable to or even lower than the World Health Organisation’s recommended chlorine levels for drinking water. This extremely crucial fact was actively and repeatedly omitted from the OPCW’s public reporting in a way Alex describes as “deliberate and irregular”.

7- Steele mentioned last month that he’d unsuccessfully reached out to the OPCW for comment on the second OPCW whistleblower’s revelations, and in his new article he confirms that the organisation is still dodging him, with both Fairweather and the OPCW’s media office refusing to respond. La Repubblica‘s Stefania Maurizi has also been reporting that the OPCW is dodging the press on this important matter. The OPCW did respond to press inquiries after the first whistleblower surfaced in May, but it appears that someone has given the order to cease doing so with the claims of this second whistleblower.

If there were any correlation between newsworthiness and actual news coverage, the OPCW scandal would be making front-page international headlines today. Instead, the mounting evidence that the US and its allies committed a war crime based on false information and that a supposedly independent watchdog organisation helped them cover it up barely registers. Why is that?

If you ask Syria narrative managers like The Guardian‘s George Monbiot or The Intercept‘s Mehdi Hasan, this isn’t a big story because even if Assad wasn’t responsible for the Douma incident, it doesn’t matter because he’s still a very bad man. But this is an extremely intellectually dishonest obfuscation on their part, because this has nothing to do with whether or not Bashar al-Assad is a nice person. The OPCW covering up its findings exculpating the Syrian government on Douma wouldn’t be significant because it would mean that Assad is a good person, it would be significant because it would mean the US deceived the world about yet another military intervention. And it would make it much harder for the US to manufacture public support for other military interventions in the future.

Which is of course the real reason the political/media class is ignoring the OPCW scandal. Military violence is the glue that holds the US-centralized empire together, which means it is of utmost strategic importance that that empire retain the ability to manufacture consent for military violence going forward. Because plutocrat-controlled news media outlets are set up in such a way that their employees know their careers depend on protecting the empire upon which the plutocratic class is built, the OPCW scandal is an obvious no-go for anyone who wishes to remain in the business.

The only way this story will get mainstream coverage is if it goes viral without the assistance of the mainstream media, at which point the propagandists will be forced to report on it to save face and begin the near-impossible task of trying to regain control of the narrative. This will only happen if enough of us work together to shove the OPCW scandal into mainstream attention. I think this would end up being a very good thing for the world.

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Uncle Sam’s ‘Moderate Rebels’ Make a Comeback in Syria, But Now They’re the Bad Guys | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on November 16, 2019

However, Turkey’s army is not executing the mission on the ground, instead outsourcing the job to mercenaries. While rebranded from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to the Syrian National Army (SNA) in late 2017, the Turkish-backed force now condemned for its brutal assault on the Kurds is the very same “moderate” Sunni Arab opposition supported and armed by the Obama administration earlier in the conflict. Indeed, the SNA fights under the same “revolutionary flag” flown by the FSA when it served at the pleasure of the United States.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/uncle-sams-moderate-rebels-make-a-comeback-but-now-theyre-the-bad-guys/?fbclid=IwAR2CHyQIQersf_tpJUlJhaGID5Cv9yWjO8rJLrrDY-YIoVSWsjaNU1cf_Og

By

Will Porter

Washington’s former opposition quislings in Syria have been cast in the role of villainous thugs in the corporate press as they take part in Turkey’s cross-border incursion against Kurdish fighters, despite years of fanfare from the Beltway Blob, which hailed the rebels as heroic “moderates.”

Meet the new rebels, same as the old rebels

Initially a crusade to oust President Bashar al-Assad, the American mission in Syria has seen a number of radical revisions over the years, shifting between regime change, defeating the Islamic State, protecting Israel, stopping Iranian arms shipments to Lebanon and now – the pundits say in unison – protecting Kurdish proxies from a Turkish onslaught.

Ankara’s “Operation Peace Spring,” launched October 9 to clear US-backed Kurdish groups from the Syrian-Turkish border, appears to have triggered a partial reshuffling on the battlefield, forcing Washington to vacate Kurdish areas in the northeast which long served as a bastion for US forces and, in some towns, allow the Syrian Arab Army to take its place.

However, Turkey’s army is not executing the mission on the ground, instead outsourcing the job to mercenaries. While rebranded from the Free Syrian Army (FSA) to the Syrian National Army (SNA) in late 2017, the Turkish-backed force now condemned for its brutal assault on the Kurds is the very same “moderate” Sunni Arab opposition supported and armed by the Obama administration earlier in the conflict. Indeed, the SNA fights under the same “revolutionary flag” flown by the FSA when it served at the pleasure of the United States.

To the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars – much of that provided by the Saudis – Obama’s CIA carried out operation “Timber Sycamore,” training up rebel fighters and flooding the battlefield with weapons and gear. Turkey, Jordan, the UAE, Qatar, France and the UK also had a hand in the project, transforming the conflict from an internal civil war to a multinational proxy bonanza.

The CIA mission was conducted despite clear signs that the Syrian opposition was lacking in democracy-loving moderates, and lousy with radicals and head-chopping war criminals. A 2012 memo produced by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) sternly warned that a “Salafist principality” – a term synonymous with “Islamic state” – could emerge from the jihadist-dominated opposition in Eastern Syria. Astonishingly, the document deemed that a desirable outcome in terms of the Obama administration’s policy goals, as it might help to “isolate” the Syrian government.

The United States watched as the rebels plunged deeper into insurgency, stoking a conflict in which hundreds of thousands of civilians and combatants were killed on all sides, yet the weapons kept flowing. The most radical factions – including the DIA’s “Salafist Principality,” the Islamic State – were soon awash in American arms, too, as FSA units defected and joined their ranks, or sold their weapons on the black market.

Writing on the wall

Though some analysts in the DIA, not to mention in the alternative media, could see that extremist elements dominated the Syrian opposition from early in the conflict, with the benefit of hindsight that fact is even clearer now to anyone who cares to look.

In the spring of 2013, a video surfaced online underscoring the “moderate” essence of the US-backed opposition. In the clip, rebel commander Abu Sakkar, then with a FSA break-off faction, the al-Farouq Brigades, is seen consuming the heart of a dead Syrian soldier. He then calls on his cohorts to follow his example to strike fear into the apostate Alawites. Farouq, like many of the FSA’s subgroupings, later merged with even more radical factions, and for a time fought alongside the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra).

The War Party is scrambling to keep the game going, clinging to oil fields in Syria’s north and a base in the south, but the US occupation project is suffering convulsions and the conflict is entering an increasingly post-Washington phase…

it becomes clearer by the day that the United States cannot remain in Syria forever, and now simply has no productive role to play there. It never did.

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Syria’s Bashar al-Assad Reflects on Civil War, Oil, Terrorism and America in Rare Interview – Sputnik International

Posted by M. C. on November 12, 2019

https://sputniknews.com/middleeast/201911111077273037-syrias-bashar-al-assad-reflects-on-civil-war-oil-terrorism-and-america-in-rare-interview/

Having endured a deadly, drawn-out civil war which is gradually drawing to a close, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is facing the daunting task of reuniting and reconstructing a devastated nation, filling in the power vacuum in newly-liberated parts of the country and overcoming a Western-imposed economic blockade.

The Presidential Palace in Damascus overlooks the Syrian capital, but the most troubled parts of the war-ravaged country are out of sight.

The future of those lands, as well as the broader question of how to solve the ongoing political imbroglio and rebuild Syria, are on Bashar al-Assad’s mind as he speaks in his first interview to foreign media in over a year.

The president talks to RT’s Afshin Rattansi about the origins of the conflict that engulfed his country and the role of Western governments in it, and gives his take on the recent and future developments in Syria and elsewhere.

On the interview embargo

Bashar al-Assad, who turned 54 in September, last gave an interview to a foreign news outlet in June 2018. He says he had stopped speaking to Western media completely because of their hunt for a “scoop”, but feels now that “public opinion in the world, and especially in the West, has been shifting during the past few years”.

“They know that their officials have told them so many lies about what’s going on in the region, in the Middle East, in Syria, in Yemen,” he says of the Western public. “They know there is a lie, but they don’t know the truth; so, I think, it’s time to talk about this truth.”…

On chemical attacks

As the fighting intensified, a series of alleged chemical attacks occurred in opposition-held areas in 2013. Damascus and Moscow both suggested that the March attack in Khan al-Assal was a false flag operation by the opposition-aligned militias, which blamed the government in turn.

When UN investigators arrived on the ground to investigate the incident, their visit coincided with an even larger-scale sarin attack in Ghouta on 21 August, which reportedly led to hundreds of casualties. The United States was quick to accuse the Syrian government and was on the brink of a military intervention, averted only when Damascus agreed to surrender all of its chemical weapons…

On the US’ role in terrorist insurgence

The president reiterates a widespread assumption that those terror groups emerged as a direct consequence of the CIA arming the mujahedeen in Afghanistan in the 1980s as a counterbalance to the Soviet Union.

He says of the American policy: “They invaded Afghanistan, they got nothing. They invaded Iraq, they got nothing, and they started to invade other countries but in different ways.

“The problem with the Unites States now is that they fight a survival war from their point of view because they are losing their hegemony…

On the ‘looting’ of Syria’s oil

During the war, terrorists have captured large swathes of oil-rich territories in northeast Syria; they have since been ousted from there by US-backed Kurdish militias which apparently continue extracting and smuggling out Syria’s oil.

US President Donald Trump has made it clear in recent weeks that “securing” Syria’s oil (i.e. keeping it in the hands of Kurds and away from the Damascus government) is his major priority in Syria. Moscow has recently exposed Washington’s efforts to keep the oil fields under its military control, describing them as “banditry.”…

On Turkey’s invasion

Fighting is still going on in some parts of the country, particularly in the rebel-held north-west province of Idlib and in the north-east, where Turkey recently launched an offensive against Kurdish fighters who it designates as terrorists.

It drove the Syrian Democratic Forces – a Kurdish-led alliance of militias that includes Arab groups – to seek protection from Damascus, whose forces have moved into the areas vacated by American troops and Kurds.

Al-Assad views the Turkish encroachment as a violation of Syria’s sovereignty but refuses to lay the blame on the Turks altogether.

“The Turkish people are our neighbours, and we have a common history, and we cannot make them the enemy,” he says. “The enemy is Erdogan and his policy and his coteries. So, being against those [terrorist] groups in Turkey and in Syria does not mean that we see eye to eye in another aspect, especially after he invaded Syria, publicly and formally.”

On the Kurdish deal

Al-Assad, now probably in a much stronger military position than ever in the past nine years, has ruled out a power-sharing agreement with Kurds. He says the deal with the SDF is intended for the Syrian government to restore “full sovereignty” over the previously Kurdish-held territories and pull the Kurds from the Turkey border in order to “remove the pretext for the Turks to invade Syria.”

He adds he has also invited Kurds to join the government forces; some heeded the call and some did not…

On attacks by Israel

Tel Aviv, which is at loggerheads with Damascus over the Golan Heights, has on many occasions bombed targets in Syria throughout the war that it believes are signs of Iran’s military presence in the country.

Asked if Israel provides a direct support to terrorists, al-Assad says: “Every time the Syrian army advanced against those Al-Nusra terrorists in the south, Israel used to bombard our troops, and whenever we advance somewhere else in Syria, their airplanes started committing air strikes against our army.”

In his opinion, this indicates that there was a “correlation” between the operations of Israel’s army and Syria-based terrorists.

On Iranian tanker arrest

Al-Assad took a back seat over the summer when headlines from the Middle East were mostly dominated by Iran’s stand-off with the US and the UK.

Syria was indirectly implicated in a spat between Tehran and London over a tanker seized by the Royal Marines off Gibraltar on suspicion of shipping Iranian oil to Syria in violation of EU sanctions.

The president strikes a tone similar to that of his allies in Iran, calling Britain’s actions an act of “piracy.” He suggested that the UK “wanted to affect the people in Syria” in “the last-ditch attempt” to turn them against his government…

On rebuilding Syria

Cornered by Syrian troops and Russian airstrikes, the Idlib terrorists are posed to surrender sooner or later. And however preoccupied President al-Assad may be with the restive province, a transition from war to peace will be needed next.

That transition is complicated by international sanctions, but al-Assad is adamant that Syria will be able to overcome it – with a little help from its friends.

“We have the human resources enough to build our country,” the president reassures, “so I would not worry about this embargo, but definitely, the friendly countries like China, Russia and Iran, will have priority in this rebuilding.”

When asked whether the EU member states would be allowed to participate, he answeres flatly: “Every country which stood against Syria will not have a chance to be part of this reconstruction.”

What about Britain?

“Definitely not.”

*Daesh is a terror group banned by Russia, the US, and numerous other states.

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Yah, MORE OIL! That’s what I want, MORE OIL!

 

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Media Silent As Nobel Prize Winning OPCW Found “Fixing” Its Own Findings On Syria – Collective Evolution

Posted by M. C. on November 11, 2019

The U.S. also previously forced Bustani from the OPCW in 2002 for contradicting their claims on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration under Secretary of State John Bolton seemingly threatened to kill his family if he did not resign: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you. We know where your kids live,” John Bolton told him.

https://www.collective-evolution.com/2019/11/09/media-silent-as-nobel-prize-winning-opcw-found-fixing-its-own-findings-on-syria/

This article was written by Alan-Macleod for mintpressnews.com where it was originally published.  Posted here with permission. 

In Brief

  • The Facts:Evidence suggests that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) deliberately suppressed evidence and testimony that contradicted the U.S. and mainstream media narratives regarding chemical weapons attacks in Syria.
  • Reflect On:Why is there so much information manipulation by mainstream media? How much of a stranglehold does mainstream media have on the perception of the masses with regards to various global events?

Douma, Syria, April 2018. Dozens of people die in a suspected chemical weapons attack in the eastern suburb of the capital Damascus. The United States and many European countries immediately identify President Bashar al-Assad as responsible for the attacks, and respond with deadly violence of their own, starting a bombing campaign against his forces. Yet new evidence leaked from whistleblowers suggests that not only is the Western story on shaky ground, but the report into the incident from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) deliberately suppressed evidence and testimony that contradicted the U.S. narrative.

Founded in 1997 to represent the collective position of its 193 member states, the OPCW oversees and verifies adherence to the strict rules that regulate the use of chemical weapons, which it hopes to eliminate.

After its fact-finding mission was complete, the OPCW issued a report on the alleged Douma attack. While far from conclusive or damning (it refused even to speculate on who was responsible for the attacks), it did suggest there was “likely” a chlorine attack carried out by dropping gas canisters from the air. This seems to contradict its interim findings that stated, “No organophosphorus nerve agents or their degradation products were detected, either in the environmental samples or in plasma samples from the alleged casualties.” Nevertheless, some insinuated that the new report implicated government forces, the only groups likely to possess both the chemicals and the helicopters necessary to carry out such an attack.

But others criticized the findings. Piers Robinson, Co-Director for the Organization for Propaganda Studies and formerly Chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at Sheffield University claimed the OPCW report contained “significant anomalies” and was “unpersuasive, to put it mildly”, noting contradictions on analysis of chemicals used, the method of delivery, and more.

Robinson’s fears appear to have been confirmed and on October 15 an OPCW whistleblower met in secret with a panel of international experts, including the first Director-General of the organization, Dr. Jose Bustani. After seeing the evidence provided by the whistleblower, the panel came to the conclusion that the OPCW had suppressed and distorted its data, analysis and conclusions, noting that “key information” about chemical analysis, toxicology, ballistics investigations and witness statements were suppressed, “ostensibly to favor a preordained conclusion.” The panel also expressed alarm at efforts to exclude certain inspectors from the investigation or from allowing them to express differing opinions and observations. Dissenting assessments that concluded that the gas canisters were probably placed in Douma, rather than dropped from aircraft – suggesting an altogether different scenario to the one the U.S. government was presenting – were suppressed

The U.S. also previously forced Bustani from the OPCW in 2002 for contradicting their claims on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration under Secretary of State John Bolton seemingly threatened to kill his family if he did not resign: “You have 24 hours to leave the organization, and if you don’t comply with this decision by Washington, we have ways to retaliate against you. We know where your kids live,” John Bolton told him

The Media Demands War

The whistleblower’s testimony goes directly against the way in which corporate media presented the Douma attack. Unquestioningly accepting the Trump administration’s line, media claiming to be the custodians of truth and defenders of democracy, immediately began to clamor for a military response.

Even as the dust in Douma was still settling, the Washington Post’s editorial board claimed that “President Trump will deal another blow to US global leadership if he does not follow through” on bombing the country. The New York Times’ editorial team appeared to be trying to goad him into action, noting, “The president should know by now that tough talk without a coherent strategy or follow-through is dangerous.” In other words, “talk is cheap, it is time for action.” For the Guardian, considered at the left extreme of the mainstream spectrum, even waiting for a report to ascertain what truly happened was “irresponsible obfuscation”; its top foreign affairs commentator and former foreign and U.S. editor, Simon Tisdall insisting that, “After Douma, the West’s response to Syria’s regime must be military…there can be no more excuses.” He also condemned Obama’s hesitance to commit to more U.S. involvement in Syria as “a blot on his record.”

This article was written by Alan-Macleod for mintpressnews.com where it was originally published.  Posted here with permission. 

 

 

 

 

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David Stockman on How the Deep State Really Works

Posted by M. C. on November 8, 2019

It’s not even mentioned because, as I say, the Warfare State machinery essentially squelches any kind of debate, suffocates any kind of thought that at all deviates from the status quo.

The big issue in the world today is war and peace, and we’re facing a campaign in 2020 where it won’t even be mentioned.

https://internationalman.com/articles/david-stockman-on-how-the-deep-state-really-works/

by David Stockman

International Man: Last year, President Trump took the unusual step of bypassing his advisors to announce his intention to withdraw all US troops from Syria quickly. The decision rattled Washington and the mainstream media. It caused former Defense Secretary Mattis to resign. Almost a year later, the US has withdrawn only a token number of soldiers. It still has thousands of troops occupying the part of the country where oil fields are located. What is going on here?

David Stockman: Well, that’s the Deep State at work.

Donald Trump is all by his lonesome. He’s home alone in the Oval Office. Now, half of it, he can blame himself. If he hires someone, a known idiot like John Bolton, what does he expect is going to happen except that everything he wanted to do is going to be undermined.

Nevertheless, he can’t seem to find anybody who can articulate on a day-to-day basis a pathway to the more restrained America First posture that he had in mind.

He’s surrounded by people who constantly countermand his orders. You have James Jeffery, the US Ambassador and special envoy to Syria saying, “Well, Trump didn’t mean that when he said he wanted the troops out of Syria.”

We have the same thing with North Korea. Trump finally said, here we are, 66 years after the armistice and we still don’t have a peace treaty, and we’re still occupying the Korean peninsula, which is of no interest to our national security one way or the other.

You have to do what I would call “contrafactual history.” In other words, if you understand what could have happened the other way, then maybe you’re not going to be so impressed with all this threat inflation.

I go back to why the Korean War happened, because I think it’s important to this whole thing going on now, with Trump trying to make a deal with Kim Jong-un.

In the late ’40s, Washington officials said that Korea is outside our sphere of influence, the line between North and South hastily drawn at the Potsdam war conference in July 1945. Dean Acheson, the US secretary of state in the late 1940s, said it was a mere surveyor’s line; it’s of no strategic influence. What if common sense had prevailed, instead of the hot-headed advice that President Truman got?

What if Truman had said, “Okay, we’re vacating this damn peninsula”? Well, it would have become a quasi-province of China, just like all the rest of them.

They’d probably be making all kinds of stuff, sending it to Walmart today, and nobody would know the difference.

Instead, we had a war. If I remember right, 54,000 servicemen were killed. The whole peninsula was pummeled, carpet bombed, and literally destroyed. It was like a wasteland in the north. There are reasons why the Kim family has survived all these years, because they hate us for what happened. People remember. It was really scorched earth. I mean, it was in some sense genocide, even then.

So, all of that happened, and Eisenhower comes in and is astute enough to say that we don’t really have national security on the line. He negotiated an armistice, and yet the War Party kept tension on the DMZ for all those years because it had to be in the playbook of threats.

I remember well when I was fighting the big Reagan defense build-up, back when I was budget director. It was always, we need all these different new tanks and attack aircraft and resupply logistics capabilities, because we have to have the ability to fight two and a half wars.

Well, where was the half war? I knew where the other ones were. The half war was in Korea. Well, why did we have to have a half war in Korea? But nevertheless, that was part of the rationalization—justification—for this massive military force that really is a tool of empire and not a tool of homeland defense.

Today, we have Trump finally saying, let’s let the Koreans decide how to run the future of Korea—and back off this long-running, 65-year confrontation.

And yet as courageous in some ways as he has been, he’s constantly being undermined by his own people, who as soon as he’s not looking send real nasty messages to the North Koreans—that will only set Kim back on his heels—and therefore nothing gets done. Even though it could very easily be done…

International Man: What kind of role do you see foreign policy playing in the 2020 election?

David Stockman: It won’t be the normal sense of debating policy—where there’s usually the bipartisan duopoly, with nuanced shades of difference that they like to debate and pretend are meaningful.

That isn’t even going to happen this time. Foreign policy has been totally taken over by the Democratic paranoia about Russia and Putin and meddling in our elections.

Now it’s extended to the whole impeachment inquiry and Ukraine-gate. That’s what the whole debate is going to be about. The debate is going to be about a sideshow.

The underlying issues are why we are constantly steaming warships into the Black Sea. That’s like the Gulf of Mexico to Russia.

Why are we sending warships into the Baltic?

Why are we constantly doing big maneuvers in Poland and in the Baltic states, right on Russia’s doorsteps with these tens of thousands of forces going through these maneuvers and exercises? What the hell are we doing all this for?

Those are the issues. But they’re not even going to get debated.

One last point: Trump had raised the question, isn’t NATO obsolete? The Soviet Union is gone. The 50,000 tanks allegedly on the central front facing western Europe have been melted down for scrap. And yet, he can’t even do anything about NATO.

He’s had to double-talk his way into saying, “Well, the other countries are going to commit some more money they don’t have. They’re going to waste more money on defense.” That’s all that’s come of it.

The point is we ought to be debating what the hell are we doing with NATO 25 years after the Soviet Union disappeared from the face of the earth?

Why isn’t Washington and the president leading the world with this disarmament conference so that we can begin to reduce this massive expenditure for weapons that nobody can afford?…

Be seeing you

https://www.rt.com/usa/465597-navy-carrier-ford-cant-launch/

The US Navy’s new $13 billion aircraft carrier was delivered with only two of its 11 elevators –vital to get munitions to its deck– operational. For the Navy, it’s the latest in a series of costly embarrassments.

 

 

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Syria Is Lost. Lebanon’s Gold Is Next – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on November 6, 2019

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/11/no_author/syria-is-lost-lebanons-gold-is-next/

By Steve Brown

The largest reserve gold traders on the planet are the six bullion banks. A bullion bank is a large multi-national bank authorized to serve as a conduit through which Central Banks – and the Fed primary dealers – loan their gold out into the market. All central banks lease gold, to maintain their balance sheet and to provide sovereign collateral when a currency swap or paper trade won’t work. It’s called the gold carry trade.

There are currently six clearing banks on the LBMA handling gold lease transactions: Barclays, Scotia, Deutsche Bank, HSBC, JPM, and UBS all of which are primary Fed Dealer Banks, too. Central Banks need real money as collateral – physical gold holdings – to back paper (debt instruments) and as guarantor of foreign exchange sovereign liquidity, or when dealing with failed or semi-failed states.

The Bullion Banks not only guarantee and lease their own gold reserves, but require adjustments to physical gold holdings based on Geopolitical events particularly during times of war. For example, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Egypt and the Ukraine have all turned over their physical gold holdings to the IMF – which acts by proxy for the Fed and G7 Central Banks – for favorable lending terms or settlement of debt to the West, or their gold is seized by force of arms.

Nixon officially closed the US international sovereign gold trading window in 1971, alleged to be temporary, now ostensibly never to re-open. Officially Nixon’s gold closure still applies to US gold trading, but the “official” world is not the real world. Thus, the US engages in covert gold trading shrouded in secrecy, generally by proxy to the IMF and via gold carry trade gold swaps.  (Also see: IMF voting rights and reform and the Exchange Stabilization Fund)

The international gold window is not about a “gold standard” but about international trade in gold. That trade is to support currency swaps to manipulate currency markets; to enhance interest returns by leveraging other debt products providing a higher return; or to build or deplete foreign exchange reserves held by a sovereign or Central Bank. Thus, the international gold window still exists in the form of the gold carry trade.

But the international gold window is much more than a trade and collateral window, the international gold window is still an essential factor in Geo-politics. Conflicts and alliances require the gold carry trade to operate by covert, by proxy, or by overt means. The gold carry trade market also operates by acquiring the gold reserves of failed states such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, Afghanistan, or Ukraine, at prices subsidized by the US taxpayer.

Or the cost of their lost treasure is borne by the unknowing, unaware local population partaking in a “colour revolution” or the “Arab Spring” for example, on behalf of Washington.

The banking crisis in Lebanon is one recent example, where geopolitics and finance – especially relating to gold – intersect. Lebanon has relatively high physical gold reserves relative to its economy and relative to other Middle Eastern states, and Lebanon has been a player in the carry trade for many years.

However, according to one confidential source and many reports, Lebanon has dialed-back its carry trade activities since 2015. By scaling back its carry trade activity, Lebanon has provoked the ire of western Central Banks, and made it more difficult for Lebanon to protect its currency.

The reason for Lebanon’s de-leveraging in the gold carry trade is unknown, but one can only speculate that along with US sanctions versus Lebanon, the international currency cartel has its eye on Lebanon’s gold reserves. By extension, The Neocon-Neoliberal ‘Blob’ believes that by harming Lebanon, the Blob can likewise curtail Hezbollah’s influence.

Israel too, currently subject to its own self-induced purgatory in leadership, desperately needs a visible geopolitical victory, and no doubt US and Israeli central bankers see Lebanon’s finance as low-hanging fruit, since Hezbollah cannot be militarily defeated. How do we know? …well, David Ignatius tells us so…

Germany

Germany demanded return of its gold reserves from New York (called repatriation).  In reality repatriation ends the lease conditions by which the Federal Reserve holds German gold. That Germany leased approximately 300 tonnes of gold to the US Exchange Stabilization Fund during the US financial collapse is well known, and the ESF undoubtedly disposed of that German gold by carry trade means, to support the US dollar and stock market. Effectively the US government may sell or lease any “commodity” as it sees fit, in its possession, whether strategic oil reserves or gold – even if that gold “belongs” to a foreign power…

Ukraine

Long a hotbed of corruption, shady dealings, and political intrigue, the Ukraine has leveraged its gold reserves via the carry trade and leasing system for many years now.  Falling prey to the IMF predatory system of capital is another Ukraine specialty, since Ukraine’s gold is its only real strategic asset, besides it location adjacent to Eastern Europe…

Argentina

Likewise, the IMF was the worst possible option for Argentina. Argentina was forced to sell 1/3rd of its physical gold reserves from 2009-2013, to prevent a replay of 2001 by placating US bond holders. Argentina’s gold reserves played a major role in keeping the country somewhat liquid, but now western powers want the rest of that gold – represented by bondholder lawsuits – since Argentina just defaulted again.

Netherlands

In 2014 the Dutch Central bank announced that 122 metric tonnes of gold had been repatriated from the United States. The DCB’s loss of confidence in the US likely relates to the collapse of the US financial system from 2008-2009.  It’s likely too that the Netherlands loaned some sovereign gold reserves to the Fed/ESF during that crisis, and has not seen its gold returned.

Venezuela

Half of Venezuela’s reserves are in gold. The structural and fundamental problem is that Venezuela cannot lease gold via the bullion banks because the physical gold was repatriated, and the gold still present in US /London vaults is sanctioned…

Summary

Trouble is, most of the third world and Non-Aligned Movement – with the exception of Iran, Lebanon, and Venezuela – have already turned over their gold to the West. So, there is little physical gold for Washington to cajole, appropriate, or steal from destabilized sovereign entities or failed states Washington creates…

Be seeing you

What if US had raised interest rates? | A Wild Duck

 

 

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What Should We Learn from 40 Years of U.S. Intervention in the Middle East? | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on November 3, 2019

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/middle-east-watch/what-should-we-learn-40-years-us-intervention-middle-east-41542

The presence of America’s vaunted military cannot necessarily shape the political orientation and structure of societies.

…These criticisms fail to take stock of the lessons that emerge from forty years of U.S. military action in the greater Middle East region. The presence of America’s vaunted military cannot necessarily shape the political orientation and structure of societies. Iraq and Afghanistan are obvious examples. Unrivaled American military power also has failed to contour the decisions of other actors in the theater. The United States failed to sufficiently influence the behavior of sectarian actors in Lebanon during its expedition there. The United States has failed to change Iranian foreign policy even after decades of relative military encirclement. Even after inflicting arguably the most humiliating and decisive military victory in modern history, American soldiers watched from just beyond the border as Saddam defied Washington and violently cracked down on Kurdish and Shia uprisings.

The notion that the United States could use its control on the north to shape the postwar Syrian state and expel Iran has always been a theoretical concept with no clear path to implementation.  In fact, many of the forces that have been deemed Iranian-backed are composed of Syrian citizens. Where would they be expelled too? Most likely, Damascus and its allies will work to secure the rest of the country while waiting America out. The simple fact that has been determinative to much of the conflict is that countries like Iran and Russia have more vital interests in Syria than a faraway superpower.

Others argued that Trump’s “strategy of retreat” from Syria, as the New York Times’ David Sanger called it, will result in chaos and terrorism as the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq did. Mimicking Bush administration talking points, Sanger claimed that “deployed forces are key to stopping terrorists before they reach American shores.” Ilan Goldenberg, a former State Department official and Clinton acolyte, took this line of reasoning to its natural conclusion. He wrote that, “[u]ltimately, the answer in the Middle East is to stay, but in a smaller more sustainable and cheaper way. We may need to have a few thousand troops in some of the various trouble spots in the region such as northeastern Syria for years to come. Their job will not be to ‘win’ but simply to muddle through.” Retired Marine General John Allen, president of the Brookings Institution, argued that “U.S. global leadership and, where necessary, its forces” are needed in ISIS-influenced territory across Asia and Africa “until the idea of the caliphate has been defeated.”

ISIS was quickly defeated because its messianic state building delusion deprived it of strategic flexibility. In having to defend fixed positions, its forces could not focus on the kind of asymmetrical strategies that have been so effective for non-state actors in the region. What’s left of it has already made clear it will not make the same mistake. But indefinite American military occupation of broad swaths of the Middle East is not a simple antidote to anti-U.S. militant action or chaos. In fact, the connective tissue between many of non-state actors is aggressive opposition towards the influence or direct or indirect military presence of the United States or its key allies. A diverse array of non-state actors including Hezbollah, the Taliban and al-Qaeda in Iraq have strengthened or even been established under the noses of American soldiers and marines. In fact, the Sunni Arabs of northern Syria are already chafing under heavy-handed America-enabled Kurdish rule—even “ethnic cleansing”—and the long-term continuation of this trend will invite trouble.

One oft-cited criticism was that it was a betrayal of the very Kurdish group in question. “The West owes them a debt for the price they’ve paid,” argues an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal. The Kurdish groups in northern Syria, the YPG, decried the original decision as a “blatant betrayal.” But the sponsor-client relationship is inherently bidirectional; they form due to convergences of interests. The Kurds fought ISIS because it posed an existential threat to their communities, not as an expression of loyalty to America. ISIS had once pushed the Syrian Kurds all the way to the Turkish border at many points, and in Iraq, they came close to sacking Erbil.

The overzealous alliance reinforcement ethos that permeates Washington and demands every strategic cooperation be treated as a treaty alliance (or an emotional commitment) demanding America’s unrestricted moral fidelity to the demands and ambitions of the client, is neither necessary for alliance management nor in keeping with U.S. interests…

Moreover, why shouldn’t public opinion be a factor in American military decisionmaking? Due to a series of reasons, such as its military prowess and providential location, America faces little in the way of existential threats and, therefore, can entertain a spectrum of options on how to address interests and security challenges. A de facto occupation of one-third of Syrian territory was never the only or the obvious course of action…

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‘I Like Oil, We’re Keeping the Oil’: Trump Confirms US Wants Syria’s Oil, Not to Patrol Its Borders – Sputnik International

Posted by M. C. on November 2, 2019

Shock Headline: Its all about the oil.

9/11 what?

https://sputniknews.com/world/201911021077207222–i-like-oil-were-keeping-the-oil-trump-confirms-us-wants-syrias-oil-not-to-patrol-its-borders/

Last week, after the US president made repeated statements about the importance of “securing” Syria’s oil, the Russian military released satellite intelligence on an illegal Pentagon and CIA-sponsored oil smuggling scheme which the defence ministry described as nothing short of “international state banditry” on Washington’s part.

US President Donald Trump has reiterated the US’s lack of interest in patrolling the Syrian-Turkish border, saying the US’s main interest was in controlling the country’s oil.

“The ceasefire has held very nicely. We’ve kept the oil. We’ve stayed back and kept the oil. Other people can patrol the border of Syria, frankly, and Turkey, let them – they’ve been fighting for a thousand years, let them do the border, we don’t want to do that. We want to bring our soldiers home. But we did leave soldiers because we’re keeping the oil. I like oil. We’re keeping the oil,” Trump said, speaking to reporters on the White House lawn on Friday.

Trump said the US was working effectively with both its Kurdish and Turkish partners, and recalled the recent operation to take out former Daesh* leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, whom he called “maybe the number one terrorist for the last fifty years”. The president added that al-Baghdadi’s second-in-command had also been killed, and said that the US already has “number three in our sights”.

Russia and Turkey began join patrols in northern Syria on Friday, in line with an agreement between Presidents Putin and Erdogan last month facilitating the withdrawal of Kurdish militants to 30 km from the Turkish-Syrian border area in exchange for a halt to the Turkish military operation…

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