By Micah Zenko for Reader Supported News. As President Obama enters the final weeks of his presidency, there will be ample assessments of his foreign military approach, which has focused on reducing U.S. ground combat troops (with the notable exception of the Afghanistan surge), supporting local security partners, and authorizing the expansive use of air power. Whether this strategy “works”—i.e. reduces the threat posed by extremists operating from those countries and improves overall security and governance on the ground—is highly contested. Yet, for better or worse, these are the central tenants of the Obama doctrine. In President Obama’s last year in office, the United States dropped 26,171 bombs in seven countries.
By Mintpress News. WikiLeaks brought renewed attention to an audio recording in which Secretary of State John Kerry admits not only that he supported war in Syria for the purpose of overthrowing the government, but that the United States knew about the strength of terrorist groups in the region and allowed them to grow yet more powerful. Originally leaked to The New York Times in late September and published in its entirety by CNN shortly after, the recording is of a meeting the secretary of state had with Syrian civilians at the Dutch Mission to the United Nations in September. CNN has since removed the audio, but left a description of its contents along with an editor’s note claiming the file had been removed “at the request of some of the participants out of concern for their safety.”
By Louis Allday for MR Zine – Since 2011, the torrent of ill-informed, inaccurate and often entirely dishonest analysis of events in Syria has been unremitting. I have written previously about the dangers of using simplistic explanations to make sense of the conflict, a problem that has surfaced repeatedly over the past five years. However, there is a greater problem at large. The mainstream discourse on Syria has become so toxic, detached from reality and devoid of nuance that anyone who dares to even question the constructed narrative of ongoing ‘revolution’, or opposes the arguments of those who advocate for the imposition of a no-fly zone by the West, can expect swift retribution.
By Staff of Reuters – MOSCOW/ANKARA, Dec 29 (Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a ceasefire between Syrian opposition groups and the Syrian government starting at midnight on Thursday. The parties were also prepared to start peace talks, Putin said, after Moscow, Iran and Turkey expressed readiness to broker a deal to settle the nearly six-year-old Syrian war. The Syrian army announced a nationwide halt to fighting but said Islamic State and ex-Nusra Front militants and all groups linked to them would be excluded from the deal. It did not say which unnamed groups would be excluded. Several rebel officials told Reuters they had agreed to the ceasefire, due to come into effect at 2200 GMT on Thursday.
By Andrew Flood for Anarchist Writers – As they have driven ISIS back in northern Syria / Rojava the Kurdish YPG and their allies in the SDF have won increasing visibility in western media. While such reports often mention the key role in this fight played by women in the YPJ, there is otherwise little examination of the revolution happening behind the front lines in Rojava. That revolution is why they stood and fought ISIS rather than fleeing. This can be true of a lot of alternative media coverage. In part this is due to the limited amount of information on what this revolution involves. but it’s also in part because photographs of women with guns are judged to be more striking than women workers in a co-operative bakery or a community assembly.
By William Boardman for Reader Supported News – On December 13, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power offered up yet another stark exercise in imperial deceit, shedding crocodile tears for those suffering in the besieged Syrian city of Aleppo, while continuing her strategically amoral silence about much greater suffering in the country of Yemen. The basis for this unconscionable choice is simple. Russia, Syria, and Iran are attacking Aleppo. The carnage in Yemen is led by Saudi Arabia, allied with eight other Sunni Muslim states (supported by another seven countries including Canada, UK, France, and Turkey) – but this 16-state war of aggression would be impossible without the exceptional 17th enemy of Yemen, the US…
By Brandon Turbeville for Activist Post. After having left Syria, Bartlett took part in a press conference organized by the Syrian mission to the United Nations. After giving a brief statement about what she has observed in Syria and how she is aware firsthand of the Western media’s deception in terms of coverage of the crisis, she was questioned by a Norwegian journalist, Christopher Rothenberg, who challenged her claims that the Western media was lying…After having left Syria, Bartlett took part in a press conference organized by the Syrian mission to the United Nations. After giving a brief statement about what she has observed in Syria and how she is aware firsthand of the Western media’s deception in terms of coverage of the crisis, she was questioned by a Norwegian journalist, Christopher Rothenberg, who challenged her claims that the Western media was lying. “You talk the corporate media, the Western media, the lies, and all of this. Could you explain what might be the agenda from us in the Western media and why we should lie,” Rothenberg asked. “Why the international organizations on the ground should lie? Why we shouldn’t believe all these absolutely documentable facts that we see from the ground? These hospitals being bombed. These civilians that are talking about the atrocities that they have been experiencing. How can you justify calling all of us liars?” Bartlett’s epic response can be viewed here: She begins by admitting that there are “certainly honest journalists among the very compromised establishment media.” Bartlett then addresses Rothenberg’s second question first, by asking him to name one international organization on the ground in Eastern Aleppo. Rothenberg, of course, could not answer the question; so, after a long pause of silence, Bartlett proceeded to point out that there are none. She then dismantled the reliability of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (staffed by one man in Coventry, UK on the Internet) and the notorious terrorist support group known as the White Helmets.
By Joe Lauria for Consortium News – For five years, President Obama has resisted neocon/liberal-interventionist pressure to go to war against Syria, but – as his departure grows near – the hawks see more “regime change” wars coming into view, says Joe Lauria Through five years of war in Syria, President Obama has been in a constant internal struggle with hawks in his administration who want the U.S. to directly intervene militarily to overthrow the Syrian government.
By John LaForge for Counter Punch – This month, the Pentagon admitted it has used uranium weapons in attacks inside Syria — violating its public promise last year that it would not use DU there, and contradicting the claim that US bombing is done in defense of the Syrian people, according to the Int’l Campaign to Ban Uranium Weapons. Like the Pentagon’s past denials of the dangers of the chemical weapon Agent Orange, US military officials still claim publicly that its uranium weapons are not known to cause health problems.
By Belén Fernández for FAIR – As she marches toward the US presidency, Hillary Clinton has stepped up her promotion of the idea that a no-fly zone in Syria could “save lives” and “hasten the end of the conflict” that has devastated that country since 2011. It has now been revealed, of course, that Clinton hasn’t always expressed the same optimism about the no-fly zone in private. The Intercept (10/10/16) reported on Clinton’s recently leaked remarks in a closed-door speech to Goldman Sachs in 2013
By William Hartung for Tom Dispatch. War, what is it good for? In America, the answer is that, much of the time, you’ll probably never know what it’s good for — or, in some cases, even notice that we’re at war. Right now, the U.S. is ever more deeply involved in significant conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Somalia, Libya, and increasingly Yemen — at least five ongoing wars in the Greater Middle East. Yet, in the midst of Election 2016, with the single exception of the long-proclaimed, long-awaited Iraqi-Kurdish offensive against Islamic State militants in the city of Mosul (with U.S. advisers on the frontlines and U.S. Apache helicopter crews in the air), the rest of our spreading military actions might as well be taking place on Mars.
By Sarah Aziza for Waging Nonviolence – Just hours after Secretary of Defense Ash Carter announced that the United States is preparing to launch an offensive against the Syrian city of Raqqa, Abdalaziz Alhamza, a 25-year-old Raqqa native, spoke to a New York City audience about his hometown. Before the Islamic State captured the city in 2014, he recalled, few people outside of Syria had heard of Raqqa, “but now, most people hear about our city as the capital of ISIS.”
By Murtaza Hussain and Marwan Hisham for The Intercept – YASSIN AL-HAJ SALEH has lived a life of struggle for his country. Under the Syrian regime of Hafez al-Assad, he was a student activist organizing against the government. In 1980, Saleh and hundreds of others were arrested and accused of membership in a left-wing political group. He was just 19 years old when a closed court found him guilty of crimes against the state. Saleh spent the next 16 years of his life behind bars.
By Rick Sterling for True Publica – Unknown to most people, the White Helmets brand was conceived and directed by a marketing company named “The Syria Campaign” based in New York. They have managed to fool millions of people. Walt Disney might have made a great movie about this: unarmed volunteers fearlessly rescuing survivors in the midst of war without regard to religion or politics. Like most other “true life” Disney movies, it is 10% reality, 90% fiction.