Tuesday, September 18, 2018

War Weary


Recent statements from the Trump administration suggest that the United States is now preparing to go to war against the International Criminal Court (ICC) itself, motivated largely by an effort to silence investigations into alleged American war crimes committed in Afghanistan, as well as alleged crimes committed by Israel during the 2014 war in the Gaza Strip. In a speech at a D.C. event held by the Federalist Society on Monday, Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton denounced the ICC as “illegitimate” and expressed his intentions toward the institution in no uncertain terms. “We will not cooperate with the ICC,” Bolton said. “We will provide no assistance to the ICC. We will not join the ICC. We will let the ICC die on its own. After all, for all intents and purposes, the ICC is already dead to us.”
In addition to this death wish against the court, Bolton said that the United States would retaliate against any ICC investigations into U.S. activities by sanctioning the travel and finances of ICC officials, even threatening to prosecute them in American courts.  Thanks Eleni.

Keep watching. An information-war for America's "hearts and minds" is about to take place, leading into November elections.
The House Intelligence Committee will release transcripts and documents for approximately 70 witness interviews conducted during their investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election.
"We believe that the depositions that we took, I think for nearly about 70 people those need to be published, and they need to be published I think before the election," Nunes told Fox News's "Sunday Morning Futures."
"By published I mean put out for the American people to review, so that they can see the work that we did and they can see all of the people that were interviewed by us, and there are answers to those questions. I think full transparency is in order here so I expect to make those available from our committee to the American public here in the next few weeks," Nunes continued.

Moon of Alabama explains the rationale behind the delay of the liberation of Idlib provence. This is where all of the problems that were not sorted out were moved, then parked with 2 million civilians. It is also an area critical to the transport of gas by pipeline from the Pars Gas Fields to Europe. Whose pipeline?
Here are some limited excerpts from an extensive analysis of Turkish strategy and actions in Syria, and the bordering provinces within Turkey.
When the Syrian conflict began, Turkey turned its own territory, particularly the border zone, into infrastructure used to this day by armed formations for training, rest, and medical support. The Istanbul-Gaziantep route, unofficially dubbed the “jihad-express”, was the main stream of jihadists heading for Syria in 2014-16. The Kilis-Azaz border crossing was also a major logistical hub for militants moving to Syria. Moreover, many Turkish border settlements were de-facto bases where militants were assembled and prepared for crossing the border...
It’s also telling that since the start of the conflict, Turkey has sharply increased the intake of water from the Euphrates, which soon caused many Syrian cities and villages to suffer from serious shortages. As soon as the SDF took control of northeastern Syria, the intake of water reached its maximum levels. However, when ISIS was in control of this area, Turkey was keeping the water and electricity supply...
In 2012-2016, the main source of financing was aid from foreign sponsors. Ankara was not too shy to use funds from the US, Persian Gulf monarchies, domestic or foreign volunteers supporting these or other groups. One should also include the CIA program worth $500 million to train “Syrian insurgents”. The 2015-16 migration crisis led to EU-Turkey negotiations on financial aid to Ankara, in return for which Turkey housed the refugees. Turkey asked for €30 billion up front, to be followed by annual payments of €3 billion, but it’s not known how much Turkey actually received, though there was an agreement on €3 billion in 2016 and another €3 by 2018. Considering the numerous world media reports on the terrible conditions for refugees in Turkey, it’s likely the money is mostly being used to finance groups fighting Assad, while refugees are given the lowest priority...
Ankara de-facto controls part of Syria, with the fight against Kurdish armed groups and the expansion of own influence in the war-torn country being the motives. Turkey also lacks a UNSC mandate or a permission from Damascus to deploy forces in the country. These are undoubtedly violations of Ankara’s commitments to the Astana agreements and of Syria’s sovereignty...
 Neo-Ottomanism is the most appropriate term to describe Turkey’s foreign policy ideology and actions. Ankara seeks to become a world power, and that goal drives its activities, particularly concerning the Arab Spring and the war in Syria...
There are many potential clashes of interests between Turkey and Syria, including the Kurdish issue, mutual territorial claims, and ideological and political incompatibility. Since the very start of the protests in Syria, Turkey has rendered and continues to render help to the armed groups and political opposition. Moreover, the bilateral relations are made more complicated by the Euphrates river (nearly half the water is taken by Turkey which deprives countries downstream of water), the looting of industrial enterprises of the manufacturing center of Syria – Aleppo (equipment from nearly 1,000 factories were transported to Turkey). Ankara still believes Assad ought to leave his post, although in the last year its rhetoric concerning Assad’s legitimacy has softened...
Turkey has already transformed the agglomeration of its proxies into something like a unified opposition, with whom Ankara imagines Assad will discuss the future of Syria, thus giving it a place in the war-destroyed country and thus ensuring Turkey’s interests are safeguarded.
In the contemporary military and diplomatic reality surrounding the Syrian crisis, Ankara is pursuing the following tactical goals:
-To eliminate or at least disarm and limit influence of US-backed Kurdish armed groups in northern Syria;
-To strengthen a united pro-Turkish opposition Idlib and to eliminate any resistance to it, including in some scenarios the elimination of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies;
-To facilitate return of refugees from Turkey to Syrian areas under its own control;
If these goals are achieved, Ankara will significantly increase its influence on the diplomatic settlement of the crisis and on the future of the post-war Syria. The returned refugees and supporters of militant groups in the Turkish-controlled part of Syria will become an electoral base of pro-Turkish political figures and parties in case of the implementation of the peaceful scenario. If no wide-scale diplomatic deal on the conflict is reached, one must consider the possibility of a pro-Turkish quasi-state in northern Syria, confirming the thesis that Erdogan is seeking to build a neo-Ottoman empire.

Russia and Turkey have agreed a “demilitarized zone” between militants and government troops in Syria’s Idlib, President Vladimir Putin said after hours-long talks with Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan focused on solving the crisis.
“We’ve focused on the situation in the province of Idlib, considering presence of large militant groups and their infrastructure there,” Putin said at a press conference after the talks.
“We’ve agreed to create a demilitarized zone between the government troops and militants before October 15. The zone will be 15-20km wide, with full withdrawal of hardline militants from there, including the Jabhat Al-Nusra.”
As part of solving the deadlock, all heavy weaponry, including tanks and artillery, will be withdrawn from the zone before October 10, Putin said. The zone will be patrolled by Turkish and Russian military units.
The agreement has received “general support” from the Syrian government, according to Putin.

​A​ Russian il-20 turboprop aircraft, with crew of 15, was carrying out a routine nighttime surveillance mission over the Syrian border, near Latakia, when Israeli F-16s rushed it's airspace to carry out a missile attack on Syria. Defensive antiaircraft missiles fixed on it's larger radar image and shot it down. 
Israel says "it's Syria's fault". The Russian Ministry of Defense holds Israel responsible for 15 Russian deaths:  “The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” the statement said, adding that 15 Russian military service members have died as a result.

On Tuesday evening, Putin spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone. He urged Israel to avoid such incidents in the future and said that Tel Aviv’s military endeavors in Syria violate the country’s sovereignty.

​40 members of Congress have sent a letter to President Trump pointing out that Congress declares war and he should seek congressional approval before carrying out any act of war upon Syria (It's late for that, but good-show, mates!)​

​The BUK missile that is reported to have shot down Flight MH-17 over Ukraine had enough of nose and tail section parts pieced back together to get it's serial number. It was made in 1986. Shipped by rail to Ukraine in 1986, and never left Ukrainian possession.​

​North Korea seems to be circumventing (costly, no doubt) at least some of the sanctions/embargo/blockade, set up against it, back when it was testing nuclear devices and missiles. It stopped. Most people noticed that.
​More about the Chinese deal to manage the port of Haifa, a really good, deep water port, starting in 2021.​ Belt-and-Road.
Haifa is actually the natural port of export for the oil of the Middle East, and only due to the political situation that this potential is not actualized.

The "Everything Bubble" threatens $400 trillion in "assets". (Real things don't go "POOF", but most of these "assets" will.)

The EU needs a stability and wellbeing pact, not more growth.
238 academics call on the European Union and its member states to plan for a post-growth future in which human and ecological wellbeing is prioritised over GDP
​Making Plowshares​

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