By Todd Richmond for Associated Press – MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A federal judge on Friday blocked President Donald Trump’s administration from enforcing his new travel ban against a Syrian family looking to escape their war-torn homeland by fleeing to Wisconsin. The ruling likely is the first by a judge since Trump issued a revised travel ban on Monday, according to a spokesman for the Washington state attorney general, who has led states challenging the ban. A Syrian Muslim man who was granted asylum and settled in Wisconsin has been working since last year to win U.S. government approval for his wife and 3-year-old daughter to leave the devastated city of Aleppo and join him here…
By Jason Ditz for AntiWar.com. Instead of directly deploying thousands of additional ground troops into Iraq or Syria, the sort of precipitous escalation that might get Congress voting on the war, the Trump Administration appears to have decided that the solution is to send thousands of US ground troops to Kuwait, and let the commanders in Iraq and Syria just take what they want. Early reports of this strategy emerged Wednesday, when officials said there were considerations of sending around 1,000 troops into Kuwait for this operation. Just two days later, the figure was up to at least 2,500, with signs that it is continuing to grow all the time. While President Obama was micromanaging the escalations, particularly in Iraq, where every couple of weeks another hundred or two troops would be sent, the Trump Administration appears to be throwing the troops into a big pile and leaving the deployments up to the commanders.
By Nadia Prupis for Common Dreams – Deployment may be signal that Trump administration will give Pentagon more flexibility in calling shots in fight. U.S. marines are in Syria to augment the fight against the Islamic State (ISIS) in the battle for Raqqa, the militant group’s de facto capital, having quietly arrived in the country weeks ago, defense officials confirmed to the Washington Post on Wednesday. About 400 new troops have been deployed overall, in addition to the 500 already on the ground. The plan had been in the works “for some time,” according to the Post’s Dan Lamothe and Thomas Gibbons-Neff.
By Staff for Hands Off Syria Coalition. We call on all peace loving people throughout the world to unite and take action during the International Days of Action (March 11-19) against U.S. intervention in Syria and throughout the Middle East, against Islamophobia, and against the refugee Travel Ban, e.g. Initiate local actions together with civil rights and peace activists — demonstrations, teach-ins, workshops, panel discussions, video presentations — to oppose War, occupation and Islamophobia, and to reveal their connections; Tell the U.S. President Trump and Congress that you oppose the Travel Ban and that you want the U.S. to pursue peaceful relations with Syria, Iran and all the nations of the Middle East; Ask your Congressional Representatives to support Rep. Tulsi Gabbard’s bill, (H.R. 608). Please both call your Congressional Representative’s office directly AND sign the petition in support of STOP ARMING TERRORISTS ACT and more.
By Staff of WashingtonsBlog – The U.S. Carried Out Regime Change In Syria In 1949 … and Tried Again In 1957, 1986, 1991 and 2011-Today. The CIA backed a right-wing coup in Syria in 1949. Douglas Little, Professor, Department of Clark University History professor Douglas Little notes: Recently declassified records… confirm that beginning on November 30, 1948, [CIA operative Stephen] Meade met secretly with Colonel Zaim at least six times to discuss the “possibility [of an] army supported dictatorship.” [“Cold War and Covert Action: The United States and Syria, 1945-1958,” Middle East Journal, Winter 1990, p. 55]
By Rick Sterling for Dissident Voice – The Netflix movie The White Helmets may win an Oscar in the “short documentary” category at the Academy Awards on Sunday February 26. It will not be a surprise, despite the fact that the group is a fraud and the movie is a contrived infomercial. The White Helmets are a “feel good” story like a Disney hero movie: 90% myth and fabrication. Most of what is claimed about the Syrian rescue group is untrue. They are not primarily Syrian; the group was initiated by British military contractor James LeMesurier and has been heavily funded (about $100 million) by the USA, UK and other governments. They are not volunteers; they are paid. This is confirmed in the Al Jazeera video which shows some White Helmet “volunteers’ talking about going on strike if they don’t get paid soon.
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.