Turkish Attack On Russian Plane Reveals Allied ISIS Support, Deceptions

 

While most Americans were enjoying a Thanksgiving holiday last week, dramatic developments unfolded in the Middle East that affect the region's long term future.

Even so, the mainstream media have failed to report the most significant implications, including reaction of leading 2016 U.S. presidential candidates to vitally important issues involving terrorism.

That should not be surprising. Media outlets work in tandem with U.S. policymakers for the most part to put a rosy glow on initiatives supported by the bipartisan foreign establishment that generally advocates war in the Middle East and increased military spending elsewhere, ostensibly to fight "terrorists" like ISIS and Al Qaeda.

So, the most influential media readily side-step developments that do not match official narratives. In contrast, the analysis below draws heavily from the facts unfolding. 

The possibility of hostilities between Russia and NATO members gave new prominence last week to Western commentators who argue that rogue elements within the United States government and its allies — including Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel — are secretly supporting the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh) and its Al Qaeda affiliates. Today's column explores this topic and Russia's reaction to the deaths of two of its military personnel at the hands of Turkey and U.S.-supported rebels last week.

On Nov. 24, two U.S.-supplied F-16 Turkish fighter planes shot down a Russian Su-24 supersonic bomber (of the type shown in the adjoining Russian military photo) that, at most, crossed a narrow peninsula of Turkish territory in Hatay province for a few seconds in the kind of incident that does not normally prompt a fatal response.

In an apparent war crime forbidden under international law, Turkmen Brigade rebels on the ground then fatally shot the Russian pilot while he was parachuting to earth as a helpless target. The rebels used U.S.-supplied weaponry also to kill a Russian marine attempting a helicopter rescue of the pilot and his navigator.

Russian Su-24 bomberRussia reacted in part by deploying an advanced weapons system in Syria that may be creating, in effect, a Russian-controlled No Fly Zone. This would preempt an allied-controlled buffer and/or No Fly Zone that many Turkish and American politicians have previously advocated to protect rebels seeking to overthrow Syria's government.

As reported in Russia “Violated” Turkish Airspace Because Turkey “Moved” Its Border, Turkey had declared that it has already extended its border unilaterally eight kilometers into Syria to, in effect, create a protected zone for rebels. Other nations do not recognize this informal extension.

The Russian government and the rescued plane navigator, Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin, said the Russian plane never crossed into Turkish territory at all.

Middle East Eye editor Gareth Porter wrote in The real reason for Turkey's shoot-down of the Russian jet that the Turks' true motive in a pre-planned strike against the Russians was to protect foreign fighters in Syria affiliated with Turk-backed rebels fighting Syria's government via the Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra Front. Dr. Porter, an independent journalist, wrote also that the Obama administration is well aware of Turkey's dubious claims, "But the administration is far too committed to its policy of working with Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to force regime change to reveal the truth about the incident."

Whatever the case, Russia reacted to the brutal Syrian rebel shootings by deploying the S-400 advanced anti-aircraft system that Israel, in particular, has long feared as a military “game changer” in the region. The system (shown below at right) could endanger Israeli and allied military flights.

For years, Israel had successfully persuaded Russia to delay delivery to Syria and Iran of the predecessor S-300 missile systems developed in 1979 and contracted for sale to those countries. The much more advanced S-400 entered limited service in 2004.

Russian S-400 antiaircraft systemRussia said it has now deployed the systems. The S-400 deployment in Syrian and concurrent deployment of the S-300 to Iran coincided last week with Russia’s increased bombing runs against the land-based Syrian rebels who are allied with Turkey, NATO and other Middle Eastern governments seeking the overthrow of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia, invited into the fray by Assad, is allied with Iran and Hezbollah fighters from Lebanon in defending Syria against rebels that include jihadists reportedly drawn from more than 70 nations, including Russia, Britain, France and the United States. It has recently been disclosed that the CIA for four years has been supporting rebels secretly against Assad.

Russia also deployed a cruiser with anti-aircraft missiles in the nearby Mediterranean Sea and stated that future bombing runs against terrorists in Syria would be accompanied by advanced fighters that could destroy attackers from the air. Further, it announced economic sanctions against its trading partner Turkey, including a potential hold on a major pipeline project through Turkey to Europe. Additionally, commentator Paul Craig Roberts reports that a former U.S. Air Force expert has informed him that Russia has twice shown recently that it has a new stealth technology that can disable all radar and satellite communications by allies in the most important regions of Western Syria.

But Russia vowed no tit-for-tat military reprisal against Turkey for what Russian President Vladimir Putin called "a stab in the back." But Putin did announce economic reprisals putting at risk $30 billion in trade ties between the two countries.

American Critics Speak Out

In the wake of the shootdown, American critics of government policy are reminding their audiences that American political, military and intelligence leaders at the highest levels have secretly hidden basic facts from the Western public about government complicity with jihadists — and that the threat is so dangerous that true patriots must bypass the complicit mainstream media and warn the public.

David PetraeusOur own research indicates that those American officials hiding such secrets clearly include the Obama White House, 2016 Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton, her major GOP opponents, congressional leaders of both parties, and top CIA and military leaders.

They have repeatedly deceived the American public about foreign assistance that the United States and its allies have used in their so-far unsuccessful effort to overthrow Syria’s president beginning four years ago in a covert operation supervised by then-CIA Director David Petraeus, shown in an official photo before his forced resignation in November 2012.

The result of the U.S.-concocted rebellion in Syria has been an estimated 300,000 Syrian lives lost, with many millions more now refugees from their destroyed or unsafe homes and workplaces.

Refugees include hundreds of thousands from Syria roaming through Europe, many of them shipped out by Turkey from relief camps. The migration is causing chaos in Europe. Legitimate Syrian refugees are mixed in with equally forlorn economic refugees from Libya and other nations that NATO destabilized in Africa and the Middle East.

Angry jihadists and other cultural warriors are undoubtedly a major part of the mix also. They are not likely to be detected for the most part, however, until they become more rooted and active in new communities. As a result, European popular fury is growing against the Turk, U.S. and other NATO leaders for their Middle Eastern war-mongering that created the Syrian refugee crisis and such threats as the Paris terrorist bombing earlier this month.

Impoverished refugees are en route to also to North America. Many Americans fear that a deceptive and divided federal leadership in Washington, DC cannot cope with complex security and financial issues, especially given the government's track record of repeated failures and false promises, especially on immigration policy.

Those following such issues know also that Petraeus, his successor John Brennan, and Obama’s special anti-ISIS Syran Special Envoy John Allen, a former general and close ally of Petraeus, have an especially dangerous record of advancing sinister agendas under the guise of fighting terrorism.

Their top priorities have been to please their neoconservative supporters by conducting a secret war against Assad while they quietly coddle Al Qaeda and ISIS elements that function at times as bogeyman generating public fear and bigger budgets for counterterrorism.

Petraeus, now CEO of a Wall Street firm and also a thought-leader in national security circles, advocated this month that the United States ally with al Qaeda groups in Syria (Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS) — as if the public could so easily forget that the Bush-era "War on Terror" was to target Al Qaeda. The successors to the U.S.-sponsored rebels fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the early 1980s are radical jihadists by most definitions, not "moderate" rebels.

At this point, much more scrutiny is merited for the supposed experts and allies who guide our foreign policy while coddling the barbaric practices of radical Islam's killers, rapists, sex slave traffickers, and torturers.

The Puppet President Obama Reconsiders

Obama, meanwhile, continues to hide his past as a puppet of the U.S. intelligence and banking sectors, as documented in our 2013 book, Presidential Puppetry: Obama, Romney and Their Masters.

Presidential Puppetry by Andrew KreigAlthough conservatives of all kinds correctly portray Obama as hiding his past and indecisive in foreign policy, only those who know his actual biography can appreciate that he is far more experienced in the dark arts of covert intelligence than commonly reported by the corporate-controlled mass media.

They thrive on confusing the public by framing important civic issues into two-sided partisan battles between Democrats and Republicans. In fact, the puppet masters control much of both parties and the media. So, what's portrayed about foreign policy intrigues typically omits key facts that make stories understandable.

Obama's indecision on Syria often arises from his knowledge that the policies sought by his special interest backers are based on many deceptions and fond hopes, and thus may not work. This is comparable to the popular misconception about the central character in Shakespeare's Hamlet. Yes, Prince Hamlet was indecisive through much of the story. But that was because Hamlet's enemy, his step-father the king, would have killed Hamlet if he had undertaken rash action without a good plan.

Three years ago, the White House published the photo below with this caption: “President Barack Obama talks on the phone with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey in the Oval Office, July 30, 2012.” White House representative Jay Carney stated after being pressed by reporters about a possible hidden meaning to the Obama baseball bat that Obama was a baseball fan. It was later explained that the posted photo was to ‘highlight the ongoing close relationship’ between Obama and Erdogan. bo-erdogan-baseball-bat-7-30-2013-wh-photo

Most notable among Obama's controllers are the Wall Street and their allied intelligence conduits that secretly fostered his early career.

The public knows little about this part of the story because the mainstream media have promoted the half-truth that a part-time law school instructor and former radical community organizer named Obama leveraged his partial first term in the Senate into a two-term presidency by his inspirational personal charisma. In fact, bankers and their confederates in the foundation and intelligence sectors promoted Obama behind the scenes, including a successful nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize during his first month in office. The Nobel award eight months later helped enable Obama free rein to pursue Middle Eastern wars with minimal criticism. This was part of a long-term strategy whereby the ultra-rich control the public agenda no matter which political party wins elections.

Obama's supporters have included important players within the Persian Gulf monarchies and Israel, which play the game of controlling American politicians, often via incentives for the aides and appointees upon whom any administration must rely. Thus Reuters reported last week, Saudi king showered Obamas with $1.3 million in gifts in 2014. Although a president is forbidden to accept such jewelry and other outright bribery, the gaudy gifts show the Obama family the bright future ahead for them if he and his team keep cooperating.

What does that entail? For one thing, politicians are keeping up the charade that the United States opposes Assad purely because he is undemocratic and cruel. That could not possibly be the main reason. Many U.S. allies are doing the same things or worse. For example, the Saudis are currently using U.S. weapons and intelligence to inflict a genocide war on Yemen endangering the lives of over half the country with no valid basis for the bombing under international law. The Saudis last week sentenced more than 50 people in their own country to beheading, as reported in US Ally Saudi Arabia's New King Likes Beheading People More Than His Predecessor. None of that seems to matter to the Obama administration, congress or the mainstream media.

Similarly, just three U.S. senators and only 19 members of the House in the current congress dare support the pending resolutions to release the 2002 Joint House-Senate report on who funded the 9/11 Rand Paulterror attacks on the United States. Details reported in Rand Paul, 2 Other Senators: Expose Financiers Of 9/11 Hijackers. The attacks generated the recent U.S. wars against Middle Eastern nations and gutted the U.S. Constitution with the 2001 Patriot Act. Although any member of congress who discloses what's in that House-Senate report can be imprisoned — even those who wrote the report — word has gradually leaked out that the Saudis funded at least some of the accused 9/11 hackers.

In other words, the United States "anti-terrorism" efforts are hopelessly compromised by puppet politicians who do not dare act on behalf of the public. Instead, they mouth platitudes calling for more war and "homeland security" spending.

This is all being done not simply on behalf of the Saudis, Turks, and contractors, of course, but also to benefit the ideologies and financiers of allied Western interests. One of the more important are the "neoconservatives," which are U.S. ideologues heavily involved in finance, government and media who generally support the agendas of Israel's ultra-right parties far more than most other Americans. "Neoliberals" are those who similarly support Israel's government but also work through the U.S. Democratic Party for to exercise influence instead of the Republican Party.

The Obama administration's military, intelligence and foreign policy top ranks are heavily dominated by both groups, often drawn from the Petraeus-founded Center for a New American Security (CNAS).

Obama, however, forced Petraeus to resign in 2012 ostensibly because of a sex scandal but really because Petraeus and his team were caught being disloyal regarding the Benghazi scandal and related matters, as we and others have often reported.

In a similar decision little reported except by the alternative media, Obama replaced the Petraeus crony Allen as leader of the anti-ISIS effort. The new special envoy for Syria is Michael Ratney, a career diplomat. Just three weeks after Allen's departure, the U.S. began bombing the notorious ISIS oil truck smuggling caravans to Turkey that presented such an obvious target. The new

Many traditional conservatives, including Paul Roberts, Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul in columns cited below, are wary of foreign wars draining American resources and endangering military personnel. Few are willing to grant Obama much credence because of his Democratic and deceitful cooperation with globalists and neocons. But their larger critique of bipartisan Washington foreign policy resonates with a war weary public legitimately dubious about White House and congressional leadership.

Russia's Entry Sept. 30 Into Syria's War

Russia entered the Syrian war Sept. 30 at the invitation of Syria's president. On Nov. 18, Russia's government announced that it had bombed during recent days some 500 ISIS fuel trucks being used to smuggle oil from jihadist locales to market and netting ISIS some $320 million per year. Details: Russian warplanes disrupt ISIS oil sales channels; destroy 500 terrorist oil trucks in Syria.

The announcement raised a logical question: why had not the U.S. anti-ISIS coalition under John Allen undertaken the same kind of bombing during his 14 months in charge? Later, in an embarrassing snafu, the PBS network reported that the United States had bombed targets also, but it used as illustrated Russia's bombing runs, as reported by the Mint Press News. The U.S. bombing campaign against the trucks began in mid-November, resulting in the U.S. bombing of 116 ISIS trucks under Allen's successor, according to a New York Times account, U.S. Warplanes Strike ISIS Oil Trucks in Syria.

These developments have heightened international scrutiny of this oil smuggling. A number of reports claim that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (shown in a file photo) authorized a marketing relationship with ISIS, placed his Recep Erdoganson Bilap Erdogan in charge of the ISIS smuggling, and became furious with Russia for disrupting it with their bombing attacks that threaten to destroy the ISIS and affiliated radical Islamist rebellion against Assad that Erdogan has helped foster with the help of Gulf monarchy funding and U.S.-led NATO support.

Hence, the shootdown of the Russian bomber Nov. 24, a momentous day in which the elder Erdogan transformed his cabinet following a Nov. 1 election victory. He made his son Bilap Erdogan Energy Minister and arrested on spy charges two prominent journalists who had reported arms smuggling into Syria.

Although the elder Erdogan has had reason to believe NATO leaders, including those from the United States, would welcome his dictatorial methods he appears to be committed provoked the Russians too much.

One analyst thus wrote, "In shooting down the Russian Su-24, Turkey’s President Erdogan has blundered badly. He has caused the Russians to reinforce in Syria and is feeding Western doubts about him. He has exposed himself to his Western allies as a dangerous and unpredictable ally." Details: Here Is Why Erdogan's Ambush of Russian Jet Was a Massive Blunder.

John R. Allen CNAS photoEven Obama has displayed second-thoughts about the strategy pursued by his neo-con advisors. Effective Oct. 23, Obama removed John Allen, a former general and close ally of Petraeus shown in a file photo, from leading the allied anti-ISIS effort.

Additionally, a diverse group of conservative, mainstream and progressive Americans are becoming increasingly vocal in opposing those forces advocating continued war against Assad as a priority equivalent to destroying ISIS.

Wesley Clark official photoFormer NATO commander Wesley Clark (shown in an official photo), former GOP presidential candidate and congressman Ron Paul, Libertarian CATO Institute scholar Doug Bandlow, and former GOP presidential candidate and White House advisor Pat Buchanan are among those denouncing Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the bipartisan foreign policy establishment during recent days.

Clark has described in a famous video how Pentagon officials were planning wars against Syria and six other Muslim nations as early as the fall of 2001. See:  General Wesley Clark: The US will attack 7 countries in 5 years.  Separately, the title of a column Buchanan published Nov. 27 was "Stumbling to War With Russia?"  

Additionally, former Deputy CIA Director Michael Morell, who twice served recently as the agency's top official on an interim basis, said it was time for America to rethink its anti-ISIS strategy and perhaps drop the U.S. insistence that Assad must go. Along the same line, a Republican and Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee have introduced a bill urging that the U.S. stop trying to overthrow Assad and instead focus on destroying ISIS jihadists.

These are the themes of today’s column, which draws on a diverse range of expert opinion contained in this column’s appendix. The comments are from mainstream, alternative, and international sources, including English-language media from Russia and Israel.

The number of citations reflects the importance of this week’s events, as well as the varying interpretations of military and diplomatic actions that are inherently secret and controversial.

Alternative and international media have been best at reporting recent developments, but mainstream U.S. and U.K. accounts are included for comparison. Washington Post oped columnist Colbert King, for example, published a remarkably obtuse column in the paper's Nov. 28 print edition predicting that the loss of an airplane Nov. 24 exemplified how Putin and his nation doomed to defeat soon in Syria and globally.

By contrast, former Wall Street Journal associate editor and columnist Paul Craig Roberts, a conservative scholar frequently quoted here, published an interview the same day in which he predicted, Putin And The Russians Crushing The U.S. As The West Destroys Itself.  Roberts, whose latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order, said, “It could well be that this is going to work out so much in Russia’s favor that Putin will send a letter of thanks to the Turkish President and say, ‘Thank you very much. You’ve done us a huge favor.  We lost a pilot and a naval marine but we sure have gained a lot. That was only two deaths for winning a war.”

From the left come similar examples of such commentary from authors Webster Tarpley and Wayne Madsen. Madsen, a former Navy intelligence officer and defense contracting executive, has recently published books documenting the sinister influence of financier and philanthropist George Soros, as well as books on the CIA's assassination program, a secret alliance between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and the hidden influence of Christian Zionists on foreign policy.

The mainstream commentary from such outlets as the Washington Post consistently downplay many major factors not congruent with neocon and neoliberal policies. Thus, any news about U.S. and allied complicity in the rise of jihadist fighters such as Al Qaeda and the Islamic State is almost totally suppressed. Also, claims of wrongdoing and weakness by Putin and Assad are heavily emphasized, as in the Washington Post's column by Colbert King in its Nov. 28 print edition predicting that last week's events in Syria presage the demise of "Putinism" worldwide.

Another theme repeatedly emphasized by leading American mainstream media involves their campaign to remove Syria’s Assad, the British-educated medical doctor who inherited leadership of the country from his father, a longtime dictator allied with the Soviets.

The United States, its NATO allies, Turkey, and the Gulf oil monarchies frame their interference in terms of support for democracy and human rights. But the real reasons include destruction of Syria’s territorial integrity. Among more specific motives, destruction of Syria lessens Russian influence and expands the territorial, religious and oil/gas opportunities for neighboring states. More generally, it fulfills a longstanding neoconservative / neoliberal goal preventing a contiguous alliance of nations extending from Iran to Lebanon and also pushes what has been a secular regional power into religion-driven chaos. Some 300 different groups are reputed to exist in Syria.

The hidden agendas of the U.S.-led coalitions have led to remarkable foreign policy deceptions and hypocrisies that have undermined international law worldwide and threaten to legitimize even more than currently a “might makes right” approach that inherently fosters terrorism in response.

One major deception inherent in Western policy regarding Syria is that opposition to Assad is from the local populace without significant outside help. In fact, the CIA, Turkey, the Saudis and others have Hillary Clinton Benghazi Committee CNN Pompeo 10-22-15fostered for years a pipeline of arms and jihadist fighters to overthrow Assad and his government. Much like the Iran-Contra smuggling to Central America in the 1980s, Benghazi was part of that pipeline, as the Justice Integrity Project and others in the alternative media have reported for years.

But the true story of Benghazi is never mentioned by mainstream media, even during such newsworthy moments as the House Benghazi hearings in October featuring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the witness chair. She is shown in a file photo from the hearing.

Western policymakers and establishment media also suppress discussion of international legal requirements for military engagements. Russia is fighting in Syria at the request of its longtime ally, the Assad government, which remains in power following the latest in numerous elections of its president and his late father. True, outsiders can legitimately argue that the elections were not transparent or otherwise fair. But the same complaint can be registered against many other nations, including the U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia that are at least as brutal.

By contrast, the U.S. and its allies have neither sought nor achieved a right under traditional international law, or even with a self-serving congressional resolution, to bomb or invade Syria. The shootdown of the Russian plane for violating Turkish airspace for at most a few seconds makes the larger issue particularly dramatic since Turkey and Western allies repeatedly violate Syrian airspace and, via some leaders, argue that they have an inherent right unilaterally to declare a “No Fly Zone” over large parts of Syria.

The mainstream Western media's behavior has been especially shocking in accepting uncritically the dubious claim that Assad used sarin gas in 2013 to kill civilians, including many children, in a Damascus suburb. In Why Puppet Masters Need Presidents, we reported here at the time that the United States only narrowly avoided a new war based on what appeared be bogus claims by war mongers. The media also routinely use as a supposedly independent news source the so-called Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which is a one-man operation run in Great Britain by an Assad opponent who by his own admission has not been in Syria for 15 years.

The United States and other NATO powers justify their efforts to overthrow Assad with the claim that they are merely providing non-lethal aid to “moderate” rebels who seek to govern the nation in a democracy. In fact, scant evidence exists of such forces. Evidence instead abounds that Turkish President Erdogan in particular has been assisting both ISIS and Al Qaeda forces (in part by enabling their access to the outside world, including their smuggled oil). Erdogan has sought further to expand his Islamist goals by killing U.S.-allied Kurds and trying to emesh NATO into a military confrontation with Russia via a “No Fly Zone” and the shootdown of the Russian fighter Nov. 24.        

Is Turkey Desperate Over ISIS Setbacks?

The high stakes have prompted Russian initiatives that set in motion other efforts, including from the United States, that threaten to destroy the murderous ISIS cult. Thus, Turkey’s military action may have been a desperate attempt to pick a fight with Russia in hope that Turkey's NATO allies would rally to Turkey’s side under the NATO charter's Article 5 mutual assistance provision. Regarding Russia's actions:

First, Russia is proceeding to ramp up its campaign against Al Qaeda affiliates and ISIS in effective ways that also comply with international law since they are at the invitation of the Assad government. Russia has reported, for example, that it destroyed about 500 ISIS oil tanker trucks smuggling oil to Turkey to fund ISIS terrorist activities. Under Allen, appointed in mid-2014 to fight ISIS, the United States could have bombed these same tank trucks but did not, presumably because of the heavy anti-Assad neoconservative and neoliberal influence within the U.S. military, CIA,  State Department and White House.

Second, Russia's military and economic efforts are difficult for either Turkey or NATO to counter. Some anti-Russian, anti-Assad commentators are trying to argue that Russian public opinion will force Putin to kowtow to Turkey and the West before this week's sanctions have impact. In response, one might note that Russia lost more than 20 million in World War II before victory, along with a civilian airplane to ISIS this month in the Sinai terror bombing. That history is not likely to be forgotten soon.

Third, Russia appears to have taken the necessary military and diplomatic steps to create in effect its own “No Fly Zone” in the populous western part of Syria adjoining Turkey, Lebanon and Israel. Future Russian air-to-ground bombers will have fighter escorts. If, as seems likely, Russia and allied Syrian, Lebanese and Iranian ground troops close off the smuggling corridor between the ISIS capital of Raqqa and Turkey along the Euphrates River ISIS could quickly wither without new fighters, supplies and money from the outside world. It is this smuggling corridor that GOP Republican candidates and Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton want the United States to declare a “No Fly Zone.” But such a U.S.-initiative becomes increasingly difficult if its most obvious purpose is to help preserve a lifeline for ISIS zealots.

Finally, there are indications that Erdogan in particular and the anti-Assad coalition in general have over-played their hand too long, and especially in the shootdown this week. True, President Obama and NATO’s leadership issued statements that publicly disparaged Russia after the shootdown. But, as indicated by commentaries below, these public remarks were mostly rhetoric to reassure powerful war hawks and did not signal that Turkey has succeeded in instigating a wider war to advance Erdogan's goal of transforming Turkey's traditionally non-religious government into an expansionist Islamist one.

U.S. Elections and Candidates

In a U.S. election year, there are limits to what war advocates can accomplish when the public opposes (according to polls) a new war in the Middle East. So, despite the occasional Gen. Philip Breedlove Official Photoharsh rhetoric of U.S. European Commander Philip M. Breedlove (shown in a file photo) and some of his colleagues, rogue elements that occasionally arise within the U.S. military and intelligence agencies do not appear to be acting like the 1960s cast of Seven Days in May, much less as in the film popularly known as Dr. Strangelove.

U.S. presidential candidates can achieve a brief news splash, particularly given a compliant mainstream media, by calling for supposedly tough military actions sought by well-funded special interests, including the war industry. But those holding ultimate responsibility for war making, whether in the White House, NATO or in their counterpart agencies overseas, realize that no one wins in a war between major powers.

Bluster and bluffing are now meeting reality. CNN, as typical of Western news accounts, implied that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu kept up his strong man image by pressuring Putin at their closed door meeting in Moscow Sept. 21 to keep advanced weapons like the S-300 missile out of the hand of Hezbollah. Israel’s policy has been to preserve the Israeli Air Force’s ability to bomb Lebanon and Syria whenever it claims a security threat.  

President Obama and other Western leaders responded to Turkey’s shootdown of the Russian fighter plane by blaming Russia. Yet insider reports suggest that NATO leaders more privately have become concerned over the danger that Turkey’s behavior could trigger a wider war. Few except ideologues are likely to support allowing Turkey to, in effect, draw the United States and the rest of NATO into a war Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaiiwith Russia and its allies over a relative trivial border incident or even the long-sought neocon goal of ousting Assad.

In Congress, U.S. Reps. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) (shown in a file photo) and Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA), both members of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced H.R. 4108, a bipartisan bill to end U.S. efforts to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic led by Assad. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed combat veteran, said the intent of the bill is to “Bring an immediate end to the illegal, counter-productive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad.”

Scott, shown in an official photo, said, “Our primary mission should be the war against ISIS, al Qaeda, and radical Islamic extremists that have operations both inside and outside of Syria and Iraq. Those groups have carried out attacks on American allies, and are currently threatening attacks on our homeland. This represents a clear and present danger to our citizens, and I support eliminating these radical Islamic terrorists through any means necessary. Working to remove Assad at this stage is counter-productive to what I believe our primary mission should be.”

In Syria, Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin, an air navigator of the Russian SU-24 frontline bomber which was shot down by the Turks, told reporters Nov. 26 that he was eager to return to bombing, as reported in 'I have a debt to repay for the Commander.'

In Texas, former Texas congressman and 2012 GOP presidential candidate Ron Paul provided a hard-hitting radio dialog attacking the leadership of both U.S. political parties for their Syrian policies. What’s Next?’ Paul asked in an interview below from his Liberty Report.

In sum, Americans are entitled to be extra thankful this week. A Turkey got out of control for a while. But no wider war broke out. 

 
 
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Related Updates

Harper's, Mountain Ambush, Andrew Cockburn, Dec. 4, 2015. “Looking at the detailed Russian timeline of what happened,” says defense analyst Pierre Sprey, “I’d say the evidence looks pretty strong that the Turks were setting up an ambush.”  

On November 24, a Turkish F-16 fighter jet shot down a Russian Su-24 bomber near the border of Turkey and Syria. In the immediate aftermath, officials from the two countries offered contradictory versions of what transpired: Russian president Vladimir Putin claimed that the plane was flying over Syrian territory when it was downed; Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan countered that it was inside Turkey’s border and had been warned ten times to alter its course. Hours later, President Obama threw his support behind Erdogan. “Turkey,” he said, “has a right to defend its territory and its airspace.”

I asked Pierre Sprey, a longtime defense analyst and member of the team that developed the F-16, to examine what we know about the downing and determine what actually occurred that morning.

Unz Review, Week Nine of the Russian Intervention in Syria: The Empire strikes back, The Saker, Dec. 5, 2015. Considering the remarkable success of the Russian intervention in Syria, at least so far, it should not have come as a surprise that the AngloZionist Empire would strike back. The only question was how and when. We now know the answer to that question.

On November 24th the Turkish Air force did something absolutely unprecedented in recent history: it deliberately shot down another country’s military aircraft even though it was absolutely obvious that this aircraft presented no threat whatsoever to Turkey or the Turkish people. The USA and NATO immediately took “ownership” of this attack by giving their full support to Turkey. NATO went as far as to declare that it would send aircraft and ships to protect Turkey as it it had been Russia who had attacked Turkey. As for the USA, not only did it fully back Turkey, it now also categorically denies that there is any evidence that Turkey is purchasing Daesh oil. Finally, as was to be expected, the USA is now sending The Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group into the eastern Mediterranean, officially to strike Daesh but, in reality, to back Turkey and threaten Russia.

So what is really going on here?

Simple: the Empire correctly identified the weakness of the Russian force in Syria, and it decided to use Turkey to provide itself an element of plausible deniability. This attack is probably only the first step of a much larger campaign to “push back” Russia from the Turkish border. The next step, apparently, includes the dispatching of western forces into Syria, initially only as ‘advisors,’ but eventually as special forces and forward air controllers. The US and Turkish Air Forces will play the primary role here, with assorted Germans and UK aircraft providing enough diversity to speak of an “international coalition”. As for the French, stuck between their Russian counterparts and their NATO “allies,” they will remain as irrelevant as ever: Hollande caved in, again (what else?). Eventually, NATO will create a de facto safe heaven for its “moderate terrorists” in northern Syria and use it as a base to direct an attack on Raqqa. Since any such intervention will be completely illegal, the argument of the need to defend the Turkmen minority will be used, R2P and all. The creation of a NATO-protected safe heaven for “moderate terrorists” could provide the first step from breaking up Syria into several smaller statelets.

If that is really the plan, then the shooting down of the SU-24 sends a powerful message to Russia: we are ready to risk a war to push you back – are you ready to go to war?

Zero Hedge, Turkey Detains Russian Ships In Black Sea, Blasts Moscow For Brandishing Rocket Launcher In Strait, Tyler Durden, Dec. 6, 2015. Exactly a week ago, we warned that Turkey does have one trump card when it comes to dealing with an angry Russian bear that’s hell bent on making life miserable for Ankara in the wake of Erdogan’s brazen move to shoot down a Russian Su-24 near the Syrian border. Turkey, we explained, could move to close the Bosphorus Strait, cutting one of Moscow’s key supply lines to Latakia. We went on to explain, that such a move would probably be illegal based on the 1936 Montreux Convention, but as Sputnik noted, "in times of war, the passage of warships shall be left entirely to the discretion of the Turkish government."

Obviously, Turkey and Russia haven’t formally declared war on one another, but the plane “incident” marked the first time a NATO member has engaged a Russian or Soviet aircraft in more than six decades and given the gravity of that escalation, one would hardly put it past Erdogan to start interfering with Moscow’s warships, especially if it means delaying their arrival in Syria where the Russians are on the verge of restoring an Assad government that’s Turkey despises.

Well sure enough, the tit-for-tat mutual escalation that’s ensued since the Su-24 crash has spilled over into the maritime arena with Moscow and Ankara detaining each other's ships.

Zero Hedge, Iraq May Seek "Direct Military Intervention From Russia" To Expel Turkish Troops, Tyler Durden, Dec. 6, 2015. Turkey just can’t seem to help itself when it comes to escalations in the Mid-East. First, Erdogan intentionally reignited the conflict between Ankara and the PKK in an effort to scare the public into nullifying a democratic election outcome. Then, the Turks shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border. Finally, in what very well might be an effort to protect Islamic State oil smuggling routes, Erdogan sent 150 troops and two dozen tanks to Bashiqa, just northeast of Mosul in a move that has infuriated Baghdad.

We discussed the troop deployment at length on Saturday in “Did Turkey Just Invade Iraq To Protect Erdogan's ISIS Oil Smuggling Routes? Here was our conclusion:The backlash underscores the fact that Iraq does not want help from NATO when it comes to fighting ISIS. Iraqis generally believe the US is in bed with Islamic State and you can bet that Russia and Iran will be keen on advising Baghdad to be exceptionally assertive when it comes to expelling a highly suspicious Turkish presence near Najma.

ISIS truck convoyISIS truck convoy

OpEdNews, NATO Defending Turkey, ISIS Oil Trade, Michael Collins, Dec. 3, 2015. By reinforcing the Turkish military presence along the routes of ISIS oil to Turkey, NATO is protecting the illicit ISIS oil trade that supports the reviled terrorist organization. NATO announced Tuesday that it would send patrol aircraft and missile defense systems to bolster Turkey's air defenses at that nation's border with Syria. This announcement was made on the same day that the Russian Defense Ministry produced satellite imagery and other evidence showing what has been claimed for months, namely that Turkey is receiving oil sent by truck from ISIS oil wells in Iraq and Syria.

The United States government dismissed the Russian evidence consisting of images of miles of oil trucks originating at ISIS oil wells then crossing the Turkish border. ISIS oil ends up at two primary destinations, the Batman oil refinery in southeastern Turkey and Mediterranean ports near Turkey's Adana province. The value of the oil trade via Turkey is estimated between $50 and $100 million a month. Without this income, ISIS would face considerable obstacles to its ongoing military aggression, terrorist activities around the world, and subjugation of Syrians and Iraqis living under ISIS rule.

The inevitable conclusion of this series of events is simple: By reinforcing the Turkish military presence along the routes of ISIS oil to Turkey, NATO is protecting the illicit ISIS oil trade that supports the reviled terrorist organization. Remarkably, NATO defense ministers endorsed the move without reference to the oil issue. If ISIS is truly an enemy of NATO countries, why does NATO protect a member state that, at the very least, enabled nearly $1.0 billion of ISIS oil sales? That sounds more like trading among allies than trading with the enemy.

National Press Club, Air Force secretary cites air power success against ISIS, but sees strains on the smallest force since 1947Deborah Lee James, Dec. 2, 2015. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James underlined the importance of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in the fight against Daesh, the Arabic acronym for the terrorist organization ISIS, in a National Press Club luncheon speech Dec. 2. James, just returned from a tour of the Middle East, Africa and Europe, said that Air Force commanders in war zones are asking for more “ISR,” as she termed the three information-gathering activities. The information forms the basis of the daily Air Targeting Orders that control air strikes against the terrorists, she said. Targeting, she explained, begins with study and collection of data, which commanders analyze to form assessments of the prospects for success of individual sorties. s evidence, she cited the diminished size of the Daesch area of operation. It has been reduced by 20 percent to 25 percent from a year ago, she said.

AFP via Yahoo, IS child soldiers kill captives in gruesome video, Staff report, Dec. 3, 2015. he Islamic State group on Thursday posted online a gruesome video showing six of its child soldiers killing Syrian security forces held captive by the jihadists. Titled "To the Sons of Jews," the slickly-produced video shows dozens of boys, who appeared to be about 10 years old, studying religious texts and learning hand-to-hand combat. Six of the boys are chosen by their instructor to "send a message" to IS's opponents by executing security forces held by the group. IS's "Cubs of the Caliphate" program provides intense military and religious training to children throughout the jihadist group's areas of control in Syria. In the video, each of the six selected boys is depicted individually running through a crumbling fortress, with dramatic music and grim action shots, until he finds a captive. Footage appears of each captive giving his name, his year of birth and describing his role in the security forces or in pro-government militia. The boys are then each shown killing the captives. Five are shot to death, and one has his throat slit.
 

Establishment Criticism of Bipartisan U.S. Anti-Assad Foreign Policy

BBC (London), Jeremy Corbyn: Syria strikes will not solve the problem, Andrew Marr speaks to Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn on the debate over air strikes in Syria, Nov. 29, 2015 (17 min. video).

Telegraph (London), Jeremy Corbyn tells shadow Cabinet 'I will choose position on Syrian air strikes, Ben Riley-Smith, Nov. 29, 2015. Jeremy Corbyn has warned his shadow cabinet that only he will make the final decision about whether to back Syrian air strikes as the civil war raging inside Labor intensified. Despite previously insisting he would listen to colleagues, the Labor leader declared he would choose the party’s policy on Syria, saying: “It is the leader who decides.”

He also hit back at Labor MPs plotting his downfall by saying they failed to realize the party had “changed” since his election, warning the rebels: “I am not going anywhere.” Mr. Corbyn's defiant appearance on BBC One’s Andrew Marr program escalates the public row at the top of the Labor Party about whether to back Syrian air strikes. Around two-thirds of the Labor shadow cabinet are convinced by the argument for bombing ISIL targets in the country – but Mr. Corbyn and a handful of close senior allies are fiercely opposed. Mr. Corbyn warned that there could be jihadists among the 70,000 opposition forces in Syria which [UK Prime Minister] David Cameron cited in his 36-page case for war and warned that striking the ISIL stronghold of Raqqa could “make the situation worse.”

Mr. Corbyn revealed 70,000 people had responded to his letter on Friday asking for Labor supporters’ views on Syria air strikes and dismissed claims the move undermined his shadow cabinet, saying they had kept the media “fully informed” with their views.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, Reps. Tulsi Gabbard, Austin Scott Introduce Legislation to End Illegal U.S. War to Overthrow Syrian Government of Assad, Nov. 19, 2015. Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) and Rep. Rep. Austin Scott (R-GA)Austin Scott (R-GA), both members of the House Armed Services Committee, introduced H.R. 4108, a bipartisan bill to end U.S. efforts to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic led by President Bashar al-Assad. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, a twice-deployed combat veteran, said the intent of the bill is to “Bring an immediate end to the illegal, counter-productive war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad.”

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard explained,“The U.S. is waging two wars in Syria. The first is the war against ISIS and other Islamic extremists, which Congress authorized after the terrorist attack on 9/11. The second war is the illegal war to overthrow the Syrian government of Assad. “The war to overthrow Assad is counter-productive because it actually helps ISIS and other Islamic extremists achieve their goal of overthrowing the Syrian government of Assad and taking control of all of Syria — which will simply increase human suffering in the region, exacerbate the refugee crisis, and pose a greater threat to the world.  Also, the war to overthrow Assad is illegal because Congress never authorized it.”

Congressman Austin Scott, shown in an official photo, said, “Our primary mission should be the war against ISIS, al Qaeda, and radical Islamic extremists that have operations both inside and outside of Syria and Iraq. Those groups have carried out attacks on American allies, and are currently threatening attacks on our homeland. This represents a clear and present danger to our citizens, and I support eliminating these radical Islamic terrorists through any means necessary.  Working to remove Assad at this stage is counter-productive to what I believe our primary mission should be.”

Forbes, Turkey Downs Russian Plane, Joins With Islamic State: U.S. Should Drop New Ottoman Empire As Ally, Doug Bandow, Nov. 25, 2015. Turkey’s rash decision to shoot down a Russian plane for allegedly violating its airspace isn’t likely to trigger World War III. But Ankara has demonstrated where it stands. With the Islamic State and against the West. The justification for Turkey’s membership in NATO and America’s defense guarantee for Ankara long ago passed. Turkey’s irresponsible action proves that it is no U.S. ally. The Obama administration’s war against the Islamic State is turning into another interminable conflict that serves the interests of other nations far more than America. U.S. policy has been impossibly incoherent, attempting to do everything: oust Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, shove aside next door Iran, defeat vicious jihadist insurgents, promote ineffectual “moderate” forces, convince the Gulf States to act against the extremists they’ve been supporting, promote diplomacy without participation by Damascus and Tehran, and convince Turkey to serve U.S. rather than Islamic interests.

While Russia’s September entry into the war outraged Washington, Moscow showed clarity and realism. Russia simply sought to bolster Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad against insurgents dominated by radical Islamists. Ironically, this approach was far more likely than the administration’s confused policy to advance America’s core interest of defeating ISIL and al-Qaeda affiliates such as al-Nusra. The U.S. had little choice but to accommodate Moscow, despite nutty proposals from some Republican presidential candidates to shoot down Russian planes. Shooting down the Russian aircraft was even more irresponsible. Whatever the circumstances of the alleged incursion, Ankara knew that no attack on Turkish forces was planned. President Putin stated the obvious when he declared: “our pilots, planes did not threaten Turkish territory in any way. It is quite clear.” Downing the plane was a direct attack on Moscow for supporting the Assad government against various insurgents, of whom the Turkish-supported radicals are the most important. Whether to punish Russia for opposing Ankara’s objectives or deter Moscow from taking further action, the attack raises tensions not only with Turkey but also NATO, including America, the alliance’s most important member. Striking nuclear-armed Russia for an alleged overflight lasting just a few seconds appears to be seeking war. The U.S. should shun Ankara for playing chicken with Moscow.

Fox News via Alex Jones Radio Show, Top U.S. Air Defense Commander: Turkey’s Shootdown of Russian Jet “Had to Be Pre-Planned,"  Nov. 26, 2015. McInerney knows how to tell innocent from hostile incursions by foreign fighter jets. Lt. General Tom McInerney is an expert on handling threats from fighter jets. In his role as Norad commander for Alaska, McInerney dealt with more Russian fighter jet incursions (which he calls “bear penetrations”) than anyone else in the world.

So McInerney knows how to tell innocent from hostile incursions by foreign fighter jets, standard rules of engagement of foreign fighter jets, how to read radar tracks, and the other things he would need to know to form an informed opinion about the shootdown of a foreign jet. Yesterday, McInerney told Fox News – much to the surprise of the reporter interviewing him — that assuming the Turkish version of the flight path of the Russian jet is accurate, Russia wasn’t threatening Turkey, and that Turkey’s shoot down of the Russian jet “had to be pre-planned”, as the jet wasn’t in Turkish air space long enough for anything other than a premeditated attack to have brought it down.

 

Other U.S. / U.K. Mainstream Media News and Comment

Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image/DCMA)

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Russian President Vladimir Putin with ISIS backdrop (Press TV image via DCMA)

OpEdNews, Who is Right in Syria? Lawrence Davidson, Nov. 29, 2015. Lawrence Davidson is a history professor at West Chester University in Pennsylvania. He is the author of Foreign Policy Inc.: Privatizing America's National Interest; America's Palestine: Popular and Offical Perceptions from Balfour to Israeli Statehood; and Islamic Fundamentalism. Here is the situation in Syria as I see it: Russia is taking a long-range view and wants stability in post-ISIS Syria. France and the United States are taking the short-range view and really have no achievable plans for Syria's future stability. Turkey appears to have given little thought to Syria's future. Ankara may be willing to see indefinite chaos in Syria if it hurts the Assad regime on the one hand and the Kurds on the other.

Sinclair Broadcasting via KUTV-TV (Salt Lake City), Full Measure: Terror attacks renew calls for '28 pages' release, Sharyl Attkisson (shown in a file photo), Nov. 29, 2015. Fourteen years after Sept. 11, 2001, Sharyl Attkissonone of the last, great mysteries surrounding the terrorist attacks has yet to be unmasked: 28 pages from the Congressional probe that have been kept secret from the public under two U.S. administrations. The pages were classified under the George W. Bush administration -- and are still hidden from public view today under President Obama. In the wake of recent terrorist attacks, claimed by ISIS, there are bipartisan calls to make the 28 pages public. There are also accusations that those who want to keep them classified aren't protecting national security interests, but something--or somebody--else.

It was the morning of September 11, 2001. As the eyes of the world were fixed on the terrorist attacks, a special election was being held in Massachusetts where Stephen Lynch quietly won a vacant Congressional seat. So it may be fitting that today, Congressman Lynch is devoting a great deal of effort to revealing long held secrets from Congress' 9/11 investigation. Lynch says that when he read the 28 pages, "I thought this information is something that the public should have." No ordinary American can view them. And members of Congress, sworn to secrecy, are only permitted to read the 28 pages under strict conditions.

"You had to make an appointment with the Intelligence Committee," says Lynch. "And also go to a secure location. They take your pen, paper, (and) electronics. You sit in a room and they watch as you read it." In October of 2013, Lynch went to the secret room in the basement of the U.S. Capitol and began reading. The censored material begins on page 395 under the heading, "Certain Sensitive National Security Matters." Lynch says, "It gave names of individuals and entities that I believe were complicit in the attacks on September 11th. They were facilitators of those attacks and they are clearly identified. How people were financed, where they were housed, where the money was coming from, you know the conduits that were used and the connections between some of these individuals."

Individuals, he says, who were never brought to justice. But who are they? And why would the U.S. government want to keep the information secret?

Former Senator Bob Graham thinks he knows. He co-authored the Congressional report, including the 28 pages. In a news conference earlier this year, Graham said, "Here are some facts. The Saudis know what they did. Second, the Saudis know that we know what they did." Graham has become a relentless advocate for releasing the records. He goes so far as to say the 9/11 Islamic extremist hijackers were only successful due to direct support from prominent Saudis named in the 28 pages. The Saudis deny that.

Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi. Their leader, al-Qaeda mastermind Osama bin Laden was part of a powerful Saudi family with close ties to the royal family. "The position of the United States government has been to protect Saudi Arabia at virtually every step of the judicial process," said Graham. And that may be the problem--could the 28 pages unravel the alliance between the U.S. and a close Arab ally in the Mideast? Terry Strada of New Jersey thinks that relationship is secondary to her right to know what's in the withheld pages. She lost her husband Tom, a bond broker, in the World Trade Center on 9/11. The couple's third child was just four days old.

We asked Lynch if somebody has put out an official reason why the pages are still classified. "Having read the 28 pages, I think it's to allow those individuals to escape accountability," Lynch replied. Plenty of Democrats and Republicans have supported the need for secrecy over the years on national security or other grounds. We contacted more than a dozen key members of Congress, but none of them would discuss their position on camera.

Bob Graham, Steve Lynch, Walter JonesFormer Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, left, fields a question Jan. 7 as a press conference on Capitol Hill. U.S. Reps. Steven Lynch, center, and Walter Jones joined Graham and 9/11 family members in advocating for a resolution demanding that President Obama release a congressional study in 2002 identifying funders for 9/11 hijackers (Photo courtesy of LaRouche PAC).

Washington Post, Putin signs sweeping economic sanctions against Turkey, Andrew Roth, Nov. 28, 2015. Russian President Vladimir Putin on Saturday signed into law sweeping economic sanctions against Turkey as relations between the two countries plummet after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane over the Syrian border this past week. Putin, who called the attack a “stab in the back,” struck back with the sanctions, taking aim at more than $30 billion in trade ties between the two countries. The sanctions bill, posted on the Kremlin’s Web site, targets Turkey’s tourism industry, cancels visa-free travel between the two countries, bans many Russian companies from hiring Turkish citizens and blocks imports of some Turkish goods. Russian government agencies are expected to submit lists of banned goods and exclusions from the new sanctions on Monday.

The fallout will be particularly painful for Turkish tourism. More than 3 million Russian tourists visit Turkey each year, many of them traveling on all-inclusive, week-long resort vacations starting at $1,000, for a couple, including airfare. Putin on Saturday banned charter flights to Turkey, and travel companies were ordered not to sell tours to the country. Last week, Russian Finance Minister Alexei Ulyukayev said the sanctions would also freeze some prestige projects between the two countries, including a joint venture to build Turkey’s first nuclear power plant and a Russian-Turkish gas pipeline called Turkstream. Putin signed the gas deal with Turkey in December after the European Union blocked the pipeline.

New York Times, E.U. Offers Turkey 3 Billion Euros to Stem Migrant Flow3 Billion Euros to Stem Migrant Flow, James Kanter and Andrew Higgins, European Union leaders met with Turkey’s prime minister on Sunday, promising aid and other inducements in exchange for Turkish action to clamp down on asylum seekers. Under heavy pressure from Germany to get a grip on Europe’s migrant crisis after months of dithering, European Union leaders met in Brussels on Sunday with Turkey’s prime minister to complete a deal that German Chancellor Angela Merkel hopes will slow the chaotic flood of asylum seekers into the 28-nation bloc.

The meeting, the seventh gathering of European leaders since the spring regarding the highly divisive question of migration, took place days after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane and added a new element of uncertainty to a crisis that has overwhelmed Europe’s slow decision-making process.  Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, according to diplomats, will be promised 3 billion euros in European aid and other inducements in exchange for Turkish action to stop migrants, most of them from the Middle East and Afghanistan, from reaching Greece and other countries on Europe’s outer fringe. Mr. Davutoglu is standing in for Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, at the Brussels meeting. Some 1.5 million migrants entered the European Union this year.

 

Barack Obama and Saudi King Abdullah White House June 29, 2010

Barack Obama and Saudi King Abdullah White House June 29, 2010

Reuters via Yahoo News, Saudi king showered Obamas with $1.3 million in gifts in 2014, Olivier Knox, Nov. 27, 2015. President Obama often receives curious gifts from foreign dignitaries. But when the State Department published its annual accounting of gifts from foreign notables to American government officials on Wednesday, what stood out wasn’t so much the “What the heck is that?!?” as the “Wait, they gave how much?!?” That’s because, throughout 2014, Saudi King Abdullah and top kingdom officials spent a fortune on gifts for Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and their daughters — roughly $1.35 million on the list.

Washington Post, Russian foreign minister calls warplane downing ‘planned provocation,’ Andrew Roth, Hugh Naylor and Brian Murphy, Nov. 25, 2015. The Kremlin sharpened its accusations Wednesday in the wake of Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane, as Moscow’s top diplomat called the incident a “planned provocation” that has dealt a major blow to already fragile relations with NATO. But Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov also tamped down speculation of a military response by Russia after the jet broke apart in flames along the Turkish-Syrian border. “We’re not going to war against Turkey,” he said after talks with his Turkish counterpart.

Still, Russia moved to strengthen its forces in Syria, saying new anti-missile systems would be deployed at an air base less than 20 miles from the Turkish frontier. Lavrov’s comments offered the clearest signals that Moscow views the downing as more than an accidental mishap while Russia steps up its airstrikes in Syria to support the embattled government of President Bashar al-Assad. In a show of Russia’s deepening military involvement, it plans to deploy powerful S-400 anti-missile systems to Russia’s Khmeimim airbase in northwestern Syria. The batteries — with a range of 250 miles — has the potential to create headaches for Turkish and other aircraft in the U.S.-led coalition targeting the Islamic State.

Washington Post, Russian provocations led to the downing of its fighter jet by Turkey, Editorial board, Nov. 25, 2015. Following Turkey's shoot-down of a Russian military jet Tuesday, Western leaders rightly addressed themselves to heading off an escalation between Moscow and a NATO member. In the process, they were not as clear as they could have been about where responsibility for the incident lay. So we’ll say it: The first shoot-down by a NATO member of a Russian plane in 60 years is the result of the reckless and increasingly dangerous behavior of Vladi­mir Putin’s regime.

New York Times, Turkey Shoots Down Russian Warplane Near Syrian Border, Ceylan Yeginsu and Neil MacFarquhar, Nov. 24, 2015. President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia confirmed that an F-16 Turkish fighter jet brought down a Russian jet, but he said it had remained in Syrian airspace and never threatened Turkey’s territory.

Washington Post, Obama: Turkey has the right to defend its airspace, Juliet Eilperin and Karen DeYoung, Nov. 24, 2015. During a joint news conference with French President Francois Hollande, President Obama reassured the public that the Islamic State will be defeated. Addressing the American public directly, Obama said "We cannot and will not succumb to fear, nor can we allow fear to divide us."
President Obama urged Russia and NATO allies to take all steps Tuesday to “discourage any escalation” after a Russian warplane was downed along Turkey’s border with Syria. The incident has been denounced by Russian President Vladmir Putin as a “stab in the back.” “Turkey like every country has the right to defend its territory and its airspace,” Obama said during a joint news conference in Washington with French President François Hollande. Their talks focused on the Paris attacks and the broader strategies against the Islamic State.

Guardian, Putin condemns Turkey after Russian warplane downed near Syria border, Kareem Shaheen, Shaun Walker and Julian Borger, Nov. 24, 2015. Russian president calls Turkey ‘accomplices of terrorists’ and says it was ‘obvious’ that plane posed no threat, Russian fighter jet shot down near Turkey-Syria border. Vladimir Putin (shown in a file photo) has called Turkey “accomplices of terrorists” and warned of “serious consequences” after a Turkish F-16 jet shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday morning, the first time a Nato country and Moscow have exchanged direct fire over the crisis in Syria. The Russian president, speaking before a meeting with King Abdullah II of Jordan in Sochi, said the plane had been shot down over Syrian airspace and fell 4km inside Syria. Putin said it was “obvious” the plane posed no threat to Turkey. “Our military is doing heroic work against terrorism....But the loss today is a stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists. I can’t describe it in any other way,” he said. Putin suggested the Turks were shielding Islamic State terrorists from Russian attacks, saying: “Do they want to make NATO serve ISIS?”

The Turkish military said it scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after a plane entered Turkish airspace in the province of Hatay at 9.20 am on Tuesday, warning it to leave 10 times in five minutes before shooting it down. A government official said: “In line with the military rules of engagement, the Turkish authorities repeatedly warned an unidentified aircraft that they were 15km or less away from the border. The aircraft didn’t heed the warnings and proceeded to fly over Turkey. The Turkish air forces responded by downing the aircraft. This isn’t an action against any specific country: our F-16s took necessary steps to defend Turkey’s sovereign territory.” Russia’s defense ministry, in a series of tweets, confirmed that a Russian Su-24 had been shot down, but insisted the plane had never left Syrian airspace and claimed that fire from the ground was responsible. “At all times, the Su-24 was exclusively over the territory of Syria,” the defense ministry said. “The Su-24 was at 6,000 meters and preliminary information suggests it was brought down by fire from the ground. The circumstances are being investigated.” There were unconfirmed reports that both pilots were killed after parachuting from the jet. A graphic video purporting to show a dead Russian pilot has been widely circulated.

Wall Street Journal, Russia Says Marine Killed During Mission to Find Downed Pilots, Thomas Grove, Nov. 24, 2015 (subscription required). Defense Ministry says marine killed when helicopter fired upon during search for Su-24 fighter pilots.

Washington Post, Turkey says it shot down Russian warplane near Syrian border, Hugh Naylor, Andrew Roth and Daniela Deane, Nov. 24, 2015. Turkish warplanes shot down a Russian jet Tuesday after NATO-member Turkey says it violated its airspace near the border with Syria, a major escalation in the Syrian conflict that could further strain relations between Russia and the West. Russian officials confirmed that a Russian Su-24 warplane had been shot down but insisted it had not violated Turkish airspace.

The downing highlights a scenario feared by the Pentagon and others: a potential conflict arising from the overlapping air Syrian missions between Russian warplanes and the U.S.-led coalition conducting airstrikes the Islamic State. It also could complicate a diplomatic push by France to bring greater international coordination to the fight against the Islamic State, which has claimed responsibility for the Nov. 13 Paris attacks that claimed at least 130 lives.The Russian Defense Ministry said the plane, flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters (nearly 20,000 feet), was likely shot down “due to shelling from the ground.” It said it wanted to “stress that the plane was over the Syrian territory throughout the flight.”

US AC-130 Gunship Defense Department PhotoUS AC-130 Gunship Defense (Department Photo)

New York Times, U.S. Warplanes Strike ISIS Oil Trucks in Syria, Michael R. Gordon, Nov. 16, 2015. Intensifying pressure on the Islamic State, United States warplanes for the first time attacked hundreds of trucks on Monday that the extremist group has been using to smuggle the crude oil it has been producing in Syria, American officials said. According to an initial assessment, 116 trucks were destroyed in the attack, which took place near Deir al-Zour, an area in eastern Syria that is controlled by the Islamic State.

The airstrikes were carried out by four A-10 attack planes and two AC-130 gunships based in Turkey. Plans for the strike were developed well before the terrorist attacks in and around Paris on Friday, officials familiar with the operation said, part of a broader operation to disrupt the ability of the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, to generate revenue to support its military operations and govern its territory. American officials have long been frustrated by the ability of the Islamic State to generate tens of million of dollars a month by producing and exporting oil.

Russian plane in SyriaReuters via Yahoo!, Russian warplanes in Syria destroy U.S.-trained rebels' weapons depots: commander, Dasha Afanasieva, John Davison and Tom Perry, Oct. 7, 2015. Russian air strikes have destroyed the main weapons depots of a U.S.-trained rebel group in Syria, their commander said on Wednesday, in an expansion of Russian attacks on insurgents.

The Liwa Suqour al-Jabal, whose fighters have attended military training organized by the Central Intelligence Agency in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, was also hit last week by Russian raids as Moscow began its air campaign in support of Damascus. New strikes targeted the group's main weapons depots in western Aleppo province and completely destroyed them late on Tuesday, its commander Hassan Haj Ali told Reuters on Wednesday via Internet messaging service. "These were considered the principal depots of the Liwa," he said in an audio recording obtained separately.

Defense One, Allen Quits ISIS War Envoy Job, One Year After Calling for Group’s Destruction, Kevin Baron, Sept. 22, 2015. Kevin Baron is executive editor of Defense One. He is also national security/military John R. Allen CNAS photoanalyst for NBC News and MSNBC. The retired general begged President Obama to “destroy” ISIS and was then appointed to help do it. More than a year after publicly pressing President Barack Obama to “destroy” the Islamic State with swift and decisive American military intervention in Iraq and Syria, retired Gen. John Allen reportedly will step down from the special-envoy job created to do just that. Allen leaves behind an arguably more powerful and influential ISIS and a White House once again searching for a new strategy. Obama tapped Allen with the title of special presidential envoy for the global coalition to counter ISIL following Allen’s war cries in 2014.

First seen as the leader of the ISIS effort, Allen quickly faded from spotlight as he went to work building the coalition while ISIS continued to win territory, resources and tens of thousands of recruits from the region to its fight. Allen, 61, was retired from uniform and serving the Pentagon as a go-between for Israeli and Palestinian defense leaders for the Middle East peace process in August 2014. He was on his way to the Pentagon to resign that post and begin as co-director of a new Brooking Institute security center when Secretary of State John Kerry called him with a new command: help put together the anti-ISIS coalition. Allen never shied from public attention, but was not a war general in the vein of Gens. Norman Schwarzkopf or David Petraeus. The war’s top commander remains U.S. Central Command’s Gen. Lloyd Austin, in Tampa, Fla, who rarely appears in public or speaks to the media about his wartime command. Mostly, Allen continued quietly as a warrior-diplomat working in the Middle East.

Daily Beast, Petraeus: Use Al Qaeda Fighters to Beat ISIS, Shane Harris and Nancy Youssef, Aug. 31, 2015. To take down the so-called Islamic State in Syria, the influential former head of the CIA wants to David Petraeusco-opt jihadists from America’s arch foe. Members of al Qaeda’s branch in Syria have a surprising advocate in the corridors of American power: retired Army general and former CIA Director David Petraeus (shown in an official photo). The former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly, told the Daily Beast. The heart of the idea stems from Petraeus’s experience in Iraq in 2007, when as part of a broader strategy to defeat an Islamist insurgency the U.S. persuaded Sunni militias to stop fighting with al Qaeda and to work with the American military.

But al Qaeda in Iraq was later reborn as ISIS, and has become the sworn enemy of its parent organization. Now, Petraeus is returning to his old play, advocating a strategy of co-opting rank-and-file members of al Nusra, particularly those who don’t necessarily share all of core al Qaeda’s Islamist philosophy. However, Petraeus’s play, if executed, could be enormously controversial. The American war on terror began with an al Qaeda attack on 9/11, of course. The idea that the U.S. would, 14 years later, work with elements of al Qaeda’s Syrian branch was an irony too tough to stomach for most U.S. officials interviewed by The Daily Beast. They found Petraeus’s notion politically toxic, near-impossible to execute, and strategically risky. Yet Petraeus and his plan cannot be written off. He still wields considerable influence with current officials, U.S. lawmakers, and foreign leaders. The fact that he feels comfortable recruiting defectors from an organization that has declared war on the United States underscores the tenuous nature of the Obama administration’s strategy to fight ISIS, which numerous observers have said is floundering in search of a viable ground force.

ISIS members marching in Raqqa, January 2014

ISIS members marching in Raqqa, January 2014

U.S. State Department, U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Michael Ratney's Trip to Moscow, Media relations staff, Aug. 28, 2015. U.S. Special Envoy for Syria Michael Ratney [a career diplomat, shown in an official photo] visited Moscow August 28 for consultations Michael Ratneywith Russian officials on the ongoing conflict in Syria. These meetings in Moscow are part of consultations to follow up on Secretary Kerry’s recent discussions with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov in Doha and Kuala Lumpur, as well as ongoing efforts to support the Syrian opposition and to work toward greater convergence of views among both foreign governments and the Syrians themselves on a political transition in Syria and the defeat of extremists. The United States remains strongly committed to achieving a genuine, negotiated political transition away from Bashar al-Assad that brings an end to the violence and leads to a future that fulfills Syrians’ aspirations for freedom and dignity.

U.S. Alternative News and Comment

Middle East Eye, The real reason for Turkey's shoot-down of the Russian jet, Gareth Porter, Nov. 29, 2015. The data supports Putin's assertion that the shoot-down was prepared in advance due to Russian bombing of Turkey-linked rebels in Syria. Although the Obama administration is not about to admit it, the data already available supports the Russian assertion that the Turkish shoot-down was, as Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted, an “ambush” that had been carefully prepared in advance.

The Turkish threat to retaliate – not against Russian penetration of its airspace but in response to very broadly defined circumstances on the border – came amid the latest in a series of battles between the Syrian government and religious fighters. The area where the plane was shot down is populated by the Turkmen minority. They have been far less important than foreign fighters and other forces who have carried out a series of offensives in the area since mid-2013 aimed at threatening President Assad's main Alawite redoubt on the coast in Latakia province.

The Turkish shoot-down was thus in essence an effort to dissuade the Russians from continuing their operations in the area against al-Nusra Front and its allies, using not one but two distinct pretexts: on one hand a very dubious charge of a Russian border penetration for NATO allies, and on the other, a charge of bombing Turkmen civilians for the Turkish domestic audience.

King World News, Paul Craig Roberts: Putin And The Russians Crushing The U.S. As The West Destroys Itself, Eric King interview of Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Nov. 28, 2015. Roberts: “It could well be that this is going to work out so much in Russia’s favor that Putin will send a letter of thanks to the Turkish President and say, ‘Thank you very much. You’ve done us a huge favor. We lost a pilot and a naval marine but we sure have gained a lot. That was only two deaths for winning a war....Europeans have put a big deal of distance between themselves and Turkey. This has scared the State Department to death. It could make the NATO alliance undone. Now State Department is learning how dangerous NATO can be be....There's really nothing Washington can do except make a fool out of itself by supporting ISIS."

Antiwar.com, Stumbling to War With Russia? Pat Buchanan, Nov. 27, 2015. Conservative commentator Patrick J. Buchanan, shown in a file photo, Patrick J. Buchananis the author of "Churchill, Hitler, and The Unnecessary War: How Britain Lost Its Empire and the West Lost the World." Turkey’s decision to shoot down a Russian warplane was a provocative and portentous act. That Sukhoi Su-24, which the Turks say intruded into their air space, crashed and burned — in Syria. One of the Russian pilots was executed while parachuting to safety. A Russian rescue helicopter was destroyed by rebels using a U.S. TOW missile. A Russian marine was killed. "A stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists," said Vladimir Putin of the first downing of a Russian warplane by a NATO nation in half a century. Putin has a point, as the Russians are bombing rebels in northwest Syria, some of which are linked to al-Qaida.

As it is impossible to believe Turkish F-16 pilots would fire missiles at a Russian plane without authorization from President Tayyip Recep Erdogan, we must ask: Why did the Turkish autocrat do it? Why is he risking a clash with Russia?

Answer: Erdogan is probably less outraged by intrusions into his air space than by Putin’s success in securing the Syrian regime of Bashar Assad, whom Erdogan detests, and by relentless Russian air strikes on Turkmen rebels seeking to overthrow Assad. Imperiled strategic goals and ethnicity may explain Erdogan. But what does the Turkish president see down at the end of this road? And what about us? Was the U.S. government aware Turkey might attack Russian planes? Did we give Erdogan a green light to shoot them down?

These are not insignificant questions. For Turkey is a NATO ally. And if Russia strikes back, there is a possibility Ankara will invoke Article V of NATO and demand that we come in on their side in any fight with Russia. And Putin was not at all cowed. Twenty-four hours after that plane went down, his planes, ships and artillery were firing on those same Turkmen rebels and their jihadist allies.

Zero Hedge, US Ally Saudi Arabia's New King Likes Beheading People More Than His Predecessor, Tyler Durden, Nov. 27, 2015. Saudi Arabia is planning to execute dozens of people in a single day, according to Amnesty International who warn that "it is clear that the Saudi Arabian authorities are using the guise of counter-terrorism to settle political scores." As The BBC reports, 55 people were awaiting execution for "terrorist crimes", while a now-deleted report by al-Riyadh said 52 would die soon; which is on top of the "at least 151 people" who have been put to death since Saudi Arabia's current King Salman rose to power after the death of King Abdullah in January 2015, dramatically higher than the total of 90 in 2014.As Vice News reports, Amnesty International criticized the wave of executions, calling it "a grim new milestone in the Saudi Arabian authorities" use of the death penalty.

OpEdNews, Why did Turkey shoot down a Russian Air Force jet?  George Abert, Nov. 26, 2015. George Abert is a former Air Force Intelligence officer. Turkey is so militarily inferior to Russia that it is unlikely Turkey would commit an act of war against Russia without encouragement from Washington. We might think that Turkey would feel shielded by NATO, but it is doubtful that many European members of NATO would risk nuclear annihilation by going to war with Russia in order to save Turkey from the consequences of such a reckless and irresponsible act as shooting down a Russian military aircraft and lying about it.

Turkey has issued no apology and no believable explanation. Unless Erdogan has lost his mind, Washington is behind the shootdown, and the reason is Washington's desperation to decode the new Russian technology that gives Russian forces total control over a battlefield, whether on land, sea, or air. When the Russians deployed their forces to Syria they also deployed some new stealth technology. So far as I know they've only used this technology in Syria twice, once during their first sortie and one other time when some Israeli Air Force jets entered what they knew was Russian operational airspace. I suspect somebody wants the Russians to start using this stealth technology more often, often enough for its weaknesses to be exposed. Shooting down that Russian jet might just get the Russians motivated to do that.

Consortium News via OpEdNews, Turkey Provokes Russia, Robert Parry, Nov. 25, 2015. President Barack Obama -- always sensitive to neocon criticism that he's "weak" -- continues to edge the world closer to a nuclear confrontation with Russia as he talks tough and tolerates more provocations against Moscow, now including Turkey's intentional shoot-down of a Russian warplane along the Turkish-Syrian border.Rather than rebuke Turkey, a NATO member, for its reckless behavior -- or express sympathy to the Russians -- Obama instead asserted that "Turkey, like every country, has a right to defend its territory and its airspace."

It was another one of Obama's breathtaking moments of hypocrisy, since he has repeatedly violated the territorial integrity of various countries, including in Syria where he has authorized bombing without the government's permission and has armed rebels fighting to overthrow Syria's secular regime. Obama's comment on Turkey's right to shoot down planes -- made during a joint press conference with French President Francois Hollande on Tuesday -- was jarring, too, because there was no suggestion that even if the SU-24 jetfighter had strayed briefly into Turkish territory, which the Russians deny, that it was threatening Turkish targets. Russian President Vladimir Putin angrily called the Turkish attack a "stab in the back delivered by the accomplices of terrorists." He warned of "serious consequences for Russian-Turkish relations."

Further provoking the Russians, Turkish-backed Syrian rebels then killed the two Russian pilots by riddling their bodies with bullets after they parachuted from the doomed plane and were floating toward the ground. Another Russian soldier was killed when a U.S.-supplied TOW missile brought down a Russian helicopter on a search-and-rescue mission, according to reports.

But Obama, during the news conference, seemed more interested in demonstrating his disdain for Putin, referring to him at one point by his last name only, without the usual use of a courtesy title, and demeaning the size of Putin's coalition in helping Syria battle the jihadist rebels. Obama and the U.S. mainstream media also have pretended that the only terrorists that need to be fought in Syria are those belonging to the Islamic State (also known as ISIS, ISIL or Daesh), but Al Qaeda's Nusra Front and its ally, Ahrar al-Sham, which was founded in part by Al Qaeda veterans, make up the bulk of the Turkish-and-Saudi-backed Army of Conquest which was gaining ground -- with the help of those American TOW missiles -- until Russia intervened with air power at the request of Syrian President Assad in late September.

Alex Jones Radio Show, Mafia Don Erdoğan Retaliates for Russian Strike on Family Crime Syndicate, Kurt Nimmo, Nov. 25, 2015. Dirty business deals and terrorism by the Erdoğan clan. Like a vengeful Mafia don, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan shot down a Russian plane and nudged the Middle East a step closer to all-out war. A few hours after the attack Obama climbed up on his soap box and said Turkey has a right to protect its national sovereignty. Erdoğan’s attack, however, had nothing to do with sovereignty or airspace. It was retaliation for Russia messing with his family business.

The son of Turkey’s president is accused of making a fortune on the sale of oil stolen by the Islamic State. “Bilal Erdoğan owns several maritime companies,” writes F. William Engdahl. “He has allegedly signed contracts with European operating companies to carry Iraqi stolen oil to different Asian countries. The Turkish government buys Iraqi plundered oil which is being produced from the Iraqi seized oil wells. Bilal Erdoğan’s maritime companies own special wharfs in Beirut and Ceyhan ports that are transporting ISIS’ smuggled crude oil in Japan-bound oil tankers.”  According to Gürsel Tekin, the vice-president of the Turkish Republican Peoples’ Party, “Bilal Erdoğan is up to his neck in complicity with terrorism, but as long as his father holds office he will be immune from any judicial prosecution.”

Tekin explains Bilal’s maritime company dealing in stolen oil and trading with the Islamic State, BMZ Ltd, is “a family business and president Erdoğan’s close relatives hold shares in BMZ and they misused public funds and took illicit loans from Turkish banks.”

In addition to working with a fundamentalist Turkish Muslim sect to train Islamic State fighters and providing logistical support, Erdoğan “organized the pillage of Syria, dismantled all the factories in Aleppo, the economic capital, and stole the machine-tools,” according to Thierry Meyssan. “Similarly, he organized the theft of archeological treasures and set up an international market in Antioch.” The Russians are threatening to put these Mafia operations out of business and that provided the motivation to shoot down a Russian jet and stir the cauldron that is the Syrian “civil war,” in fact a manufactured proxy war designed to carve up the country and turn it over to a gang of psychopaths who follow a deviant sect of Saudi Wahhabism.

Wayne Madsen Report (WMR), Turks and ISIL have in common the downing of Russian aircraft, Wayne Madsen, Nov. 24, 2015 (subscription required). Wayne Madsen, a widely published author and commentator, has authored 13 books and is a former Navy intelligence officer. Turkey, a NATO member, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), which has been aided and abetted by Turkish military, intelligence, recruitment, and logistics support, have shown they have something in common: both have downed Russian aircraft in the last three weeks.

Antiwar.com, Turkey’s Stab in the Back: Downing of Russian plane by Turkey augurs World War III, Justin Raimondo, Nov. 24, 2015. War is the great clarifier, and in the case of the battle against Islamist insurgents, including ISIS and al-Qaeda in Syria, the downing of the Russian war plane by the Turkish military has demonstrated this principle quite dramatically. The U.S.and its NATO allies, including Turkey, claim to be fighting ISIS, otherwise known as the “Islamic State,” but the Turks’ main fire has been directed at the Kurds and the Syrian regime itself. Turkey has been the main conduit for aid to the Islamic State, and the Turkish intelligence agency has long collaborated with Islamists in the region.

This incident has revealed what the real sides are in the Syrian civil war: who is fighting whom, and for what. The Russian plane crashed into Syrian territory and one of the pilots was shot from the skies as he parachuted: this barbaric act was captured on video by the rebels. The area is controlled by an alliance of rebel forces dominated by the al-Nusra Front, which is the official Syrian affiliate of al-Qaeda. The jihadists took control of the area in March of this year, and it has been the focal point of recent fighting between al-Qaeda and Syrian government forces backed by the Russian air offensive. Yes, folks, your tax dollars are going to support Islamist crazies in Syria. The same people who attacked Paris are being aided and abetted by the US – and if that isn’t a criminal act, then there is no justice in this world.

Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov 2010 State Department photoSecretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in 2010 (State Department photo)

Breitbart, Roger Stone: New Media Holding Hillary Accountable for Arming ISIS, Putting Americans in Danger, Tony Lee, Nov. 23, 2015. Political strategist and author Roger Stone says the rise of new media outlets such Breitbart News and cable television will prevent the mainstream media from giving President Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton a pass for enabling ISIS’s rise and putting Americans in danger. Stone, the author of The Clintons’ War on Women, told host and Breitbart News Executive Chairman Stephen K. Bannon on Monday’s Breitbart News Daily that “America is in danger” and the ISIS terror threat reveals the “the wide dichotomy between the American media and the American people.”

He said that when there were just three television networks in the 1960s, “they said Oswald killed Kennedy and there was no alternative theory that was ever allowed to be examined.”

“So it is with ISIS,” Stone said. “You have the New York Times and the three networks parroting the administration line.” On Monday, President Barack Obama even asked the media to help get out the administration’s spin on terrorism, which would have been a lot easier in a world in which there were only three networks that served as gatekeepers. Stone said that “this is not some abstract concept,” but since 9/11 happened a long time ago, “unfortunately people forget” and “their views soften… they begin to believe that we are safe again.”

 

Turkey-Syria Border with buffer zone (Global Research map)

Turkey-Syria Border with new buffer zone unilaterally and informally declared by Turkey to control Syrian territory in violation of international law (Global Research map)

Global Research, Russia “Violated” Turkish Airspace Because Turkey “Moved” Its Border, Syrian Free Press, Nov. 24, 2015. Global Research Editor's Note: This article, originally published on October 7, 2015, is of utmost relevance in understanding the action taken by Turkey to down a Russian jet fighter over Syria airspace. One Russian plane may even indeed have slightly crossed the border [in October] while maneuvering. But the real reason why the U.S. military official and Turkey claim the above “violations” is because Turkey unilaterally “moved” the Turkish-Syrian border five miles south: "Turkey has maintained a buffer zone five miles inside Syria since June 2012, when a Syrian air defense missile shot down a Turkish fighter plane that had strayed into Syrian airspace. Under revised rules of engagement put in effect then, the Turkish air force would evaluate any target coming within five miles of the Turkish border as an enemy and act accordingly."

"If Syrian rules of engagement would “move” its northern border up to the Black Sea would any plane in eastern Turkey be in violation of Syrian air space? No one would accept such nonsense and that is why no one should accept the U.S.-Turkish bullshit [sic] here."

PaulCraigRoberts.org, Turkey Has Destroyed Russia’s Hope Of Western Cooperation, Paul Craig Roberts, Nov. 24, 2015. The conservative scholar Dr. Roberts is the author of a new collection of his columns, "The Dr. Paul Craig RobertsNeoconservative Threat to World Order: Washington's Perilous War for Hegemony." Turkey’s unprovoked shoot-down of a Russian military aircraft over Syria raises interesting questions. It seems unlikely that the Turkish government would commit an act of war against a much more powerful neighbor unless Washington had cleared the attack. If the attack was cleared with Washington, was Obama bypassed by the neocons who control his government, or is Obama himself complicit? Clearly the neoconservatives are disturbed by the French president’s call for unity with Russia against ISIL and easily could have used their connections to Turkey to stage an event that Washington can use to prevent cooperation with Russia.

Washington’s complicity is certainly indicated, but it is not completely out of the question that the well-placed Turks who are purchasing oil from ISIL took revenge against Russia for destroying their oil tanker investments and profitable business.

The responses to the shoot-down are also interesting. From what I heard of Obama’s press conference, Obama’s definition of “moderate Syrian rebels” includes all the extremist jihadish groups, such as al Nursa and ISIL, that are the focus of the Russian attacks. Only Assad is an extremist. Obama, following the neocon line, says that Assad has too much blood on his hands to be allowed to remain president of Syria.

And what about the blood on Obama’s hands? Here we are talking about a very large quantity of blood: the blood of entire countries — Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria, and the blood that Obama’s puppet government in Kiev has spilled of the ethnic Russian inhabitants of Ukraine, not to forget the Palestinian blood spilled by Israel using US supplied weapons. If the blood on Assad’s hands disqualifies Assad from office, the much greater quantity on Obama’s hands disqualifies Obama. And Cameron. And Hollande. And Merkel. And Netanyahu.

CounterPunch, An Invisible U.S. Hand Leading to War? Turkey’s Downing of a Russian Jet was an Act of Madness, Dave Lindorff. Nov. 24, 2015. In considering the terrifying but also sadly predictable news of a Flag of TurkeyRussian fighter jet being downed by two Turkish fighters, let’s start with one almost certain assumption — an assumption that no doubt is also being made by the Russian government: Turkey’s action, using US-supplied F-16 planes, was taken with the full knowledge and advance support of the US. In fact, given Turkey’s vassal status as a member of US-dominated NATO, it could well be that Ankara was put up to this act of brinksmanship by the US.

What makes the downing of the Russian jet, and the reported death of at least one of its two pilots (the other was reportedly captured alive by pro-Turkish Turkmen fighters on the Syrian side of the Syria-Turkish border, and will presumably be returned to Russia) so dangerous is that as a member of NATO, supposedly a “mutual assistance” treaty that binds all members to come to the defense of one that is attacked, if Russia were to retaliate by downing a Turkish military plane, NATO countries including the US would be obligated to come to Turkey’s defense.

Russia knows this, and that is why so far the Russian response to the downing has been muted. Had it been a Jordanian, Saudi or Kuwaiti jet that downed the Russian SU-24, Russia’s response would have been instantaneous. The guilty party would have had some of its planes shot down, or perhaps even bombed on the ground. But President Putin so far has limited himself to demanding a meeting, to warning that Russian-Turkish economic relations would be threatened, etc.

This restraint is good, but clearly, Vladimir Putin will not stop there. Even putting aside domestic considerations (imaging the public clamor for a military response here in the US if some small country shot down a US plane!), he will have to respond or his whole project — so far stunningly successful — of restoring Russia to its pre-USSR-collapse position as a global power, would be a failure.

National Journal, Leaderless, Ron Fournier, Nov. 23, 2015. I once asked, “What if Obama can’t lead?” The answer after Paris is painful. Per­son­ally, I’m no hawk. I’m not con­vinced the United States needs more ground troops in the Middle East, cer­tainly not without a rad­ic­al re­think­ing of how the war against IS­IS would re­quire shared sac­ri­fice. I am sym­path­et­ic to the fact that Obama faces no easy op­tions after in­her­it­ing Pres­id­ent Bush’s ill-con­ceived war in Ir­aq. And I’ve got ab­so­lutely no pa­tience for the GOP pres­id­en­tial field’s hy­per­bol­ic, dis­hon­est, and big­oted rhet­or­ic.

But there is only one com­mand­er-in-chief, and ours is stub­bornly cling­ing to a strategy against IS­IS that lacks clar­ity, cre­ativ­ity, and ur­gency. There is only one pres­id­ent, and ours doesn’t seem to know how to rally us to a com­mon cause.

TruthDig, Why the U.S. Owns the Rise of Islamic State and the Syria Disaster, Gareth Porter, Oct. 8, 2015. Pundits and politicians are already looking for a convenient explanation for the twin Middle East disasters of the rise of Islamic State and the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria. But over the past three decades, U.S. covert operations and war have entered repeatedly and powerfully into the chain of causality leading to Islamic State’s present position. The causal chain begins with the role of the U.S. in creating a mujahedeen force to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Osama bin Laden was a key facilitator in training that force in Afghanistan. Without that reckless U.S. policy, the blowback of the later creation of al-Qaida would very likely not have occurred. But it was the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq that made al-Qaida a significant political-military force for the first time. The war drew Islamists to Iraq from all over the Middle East, and their war of terrorism against Iraqi Shiites was a precursor to the sectarian wars to follow.

Seymour HershSeymour Hersh (shown in a file photo) reported last year that an unpublished addendum to the Senate Intelligence Committee report on Benghazi revealed a covert CIA operation to arm Syrian rebels, in cooperation with Sunni allies’ intelligence services. In early 2012, Hersh reported, following an agreement with Turkey, then-CIA Director David Petraeus approved an elaborate covert operation in which Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar would fund the shipment of weapons to Syrian rebels from stocks captured from the Gadhafi government. The scheme employed front companies set up in Libya to manage the shipments of arms in order to separate the U.S. government from the operation. An October 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report released by the Department of Defense to Judicial Watch confirmed the shipments of Libyan weapons from the port of Benghazi to two Syrian ports near Turkey beginning in October 2011 and continuing through August 2012.

Justice Integrity Project, Rand Paul, 2 Other Senators: Expose Financers Of 9/11 Hijackers, Andrew Kreig, June 9, 2015. The campaign to expose the financiers of the 9/11 attacks has heated up as GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul and two other senators co-sponsored legislation to require release of a 2002 joint House-Senate report that has remained secret. Paul, shown in an official photo, spoke at a June 2 press conference on Capitol Hill with representatives of 9/11 families to urge his senate colleagues and President Obama to release the report, which reputedly states that Saudi Arabia funded several of the accused 9/11 hijackers in Florida and California. “Information revealed over the years does raise questions about [Saudi Arabia’s] support, or whether their support might have been supportive to these Al Qaeda terrorists,” said Paul, whose legislation co-sponsors are Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York and Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. Neither of the two Democratic senators was present.

Justice integrity Project, Senator, Pentagon Unit: U.S. Helped Al Qaeda, Predicted ISIS, Andrew Kreig, May 29, 2015. A Republican presidential contender is talking up U.S. complicity in the rise of Al Qaeda and its more radical successor ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party who gave arms indiscriminately,” U.S. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky (shown in a photo) alleged during an interview on MSNBC.

Justice integrity Project, Middle East Failures Show Disastrous, Deceptive Bipartisan Foreign Policy, Andrew Kreig, May 27, 2015. The U.S. foreign policy advocated by leaders of both major parties is experiencing serious setbacks in multiple nations, especially in the Middle East and Central Asia. Recent military losses in Iraq, Afghanistan and Yemen exemplify a joint Obama/Bush foreign policy disaster with no easy solutions.

Michael SpringmannJustice Integrity Project, Shocking New Book Links Illicit U.S. Visas To Terrorists, Current Wars, Andrew Kreig, March 2, 2015.  A former State Department foreign service officer’s new book provides a shocking, timely, and credible circumstantial case that ties the U.S. training of Islamic radicals to our nation’s major foreign policy disasters in the Mideast during the past quarter century. The book is Visas for Al Qaeda: CIA Handouts That Rocked the World — An Insider's View. Author J. Michael Springmann is the former chief of the visa section at the U.S. consulate in Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. He launched the book last week with his first lecture and book-signing, which admirers organized at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

Justice Integrity Project, Why Puppet Masters Need Presidents, Andrew Kreig, Sept. 12, 2013. President Obama did Americans a favor by bungling his recent attempt to please his powerful backers who have long wanted the United States to overthrow the Assad dynasty in Syria. Global and domestic critics thwarted the U.S. military action, at least for the time being. Obama and his team were not able to prove that U.S. and global interests required a bombing attack —  or even that fatal gas deaths of civilians in Syria were caused beyond a reasonable doubt by the ruling government. In fact, rebels just released a Belgian hostage who blames his captors for the fatal Aug. 21 gas attacks, according to an interview on YouTube.

 

Russian News and Comment

RT, Prosecutors ban Soros Foundation as ‘threat to Russian national security,’ Staff report, Nov. 30, 2015. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office has recognized George Soros’s Open Society Institute and another affiliated organization as undesirable groups, banning Russian citizens and organizations from participation in any of their projects. Prosecutors launched a probe into the activities of the two organizations -- both sponsored by the well-known US financier George Soros -- in July this year, after Russian senators approved the so-called “patriotic stop-list” of 12 groups that required immediate attention over their supposed anti-Russian activities. Other groups on the list included the National Endowment for Democracy; the International Republican Institute; the National Democratic Institute; the MacArthur Foundation and Freedom House. The Soros Foundation started working in Russia in the mid-1990s, but wrapped up its active operations in 2003.

RT, No US airstrikes in Syria since Russia deployed S-400 systems, Staff report, Nov. 28, 2015. An S-400 air defense missile system is deployed for a combat duty at the Hmeymim airbase to provide security of the Russian air group's flights in Syria. Both the American and Turkish air forces halted their strikes on Syrian territory around the time Russia deployed S-400 air defense complexes at the Khmeimim airbase, from which it stages its own incursions against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). A spokesperson of the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) told Sputnik on Friday that the absence of anti-IS coalition airstrikes “has nothing to do with the S400 deployment” in Syria. As CJTF-OIR reported on Friday, the US-led coalition had made no sorties against targets in Syria since Thursday, while airstrikes against Islamic State in Iraq continued, with the coalition making 18 strikes on terrorist positions.'

Russia Insider, Here Is Why Erdogan's Ambush of Russian Jet Was a Massive Blunder, Alexander Mercouris, Nov. 27, 2015. Turkish president actually undermined his Western support. In shooting down the Russian SU24 Turkey’s President Erdogan has blundered badly. He has caused the Russians to reinforce in Syria and is feeding Western doubts about him. He has exposed himself to his Western allies as a dangerous and unpredictable ally.

Tass, Russia ready to consider steps to close Turkish-Syrian border: Lavrov, Staff report, Nov. 25, 2015. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (shown in a file photo) has described as correct the offer of French President Francois Sergey LavrovHollande to take steps to close the Syrian-Turkish border. He said as much while talking to reporters on Wednesday. "Going back to the news conference of Presidents of France and the United States Francois Hollande and Barack Obama in Washington, I noticed that the French president suggested taking steps to close the Turkish-Syrian border to stop both the flow of militants and terrorist financing," the Russian minister said. "It is significant that President Obama did not respond to this in any way, but I think it’s the right suggestion." "I hope that President Hollande will brief us on the issue tomorrow (during the meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin)," the Russian foreign minister said. "We would be ready to seriously consider the steps necessary for this." "Many say that, by closing this border, we will effectively curb the terrorist threat in Syria," Lavrov added.

Tass, Russian forces make airstrikes on 472 terrorist facilities in Syria over past 2 days, Staff report, Nov. 23, 2015. Aircraft of the Russian aviation group in Syria have made 141 sorties over the past two days and delivered airstrikes on 472 terrorist facilities in the country, spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov said on Monday. According to him, over the past two days the Russian aviation group continued active additional reconnaissance of targets and delivering airstrikes on separate facilities of terrorist groups operating in Syria. He added that all the Russian warplanes safely returned to the Hmeimim airbase after their combat missions. In Konashenkov's words, terrorists in Syria over the past two days have sustained the heaviest losses in three provinces: Deiz ez-Zor, Raqqah and Aleppo.

The Russian air group’s missile and bombing strikes inflicted the most serious losses on terrorist gangs in the area of Serakab, Idlib province, and Qalaat al-Madiq, Hama province. "Most gangs have quit positions in these areas in defiance of threats from their warlords and been getting rid themselves of Islamic State clothes, symbols and emblems and trying to mix with the local population," Konashenkov said. Islamic State is outlawed in Russia as a terrorist organization. Konashenkov said that in the area of Aleppo Russian air strikes had wiped out the terrorist forces’ control system. The terrorists are disorganized and have been retreating into the areas still under their control trying to consolidate themselves there. Objective monitoring indicates high effectiveness and considerable losses the militants have sustained in the whole territory of Syria after last week’s air strikes, Konashenkov said.

Russian FlagRT, Moscow to deploy S-400 defense missile system to Khmeimim airbase in Syria, Staff report, Nov. 25, 2015. The Russian Air Force base in Latakia will be reinforced with S-400 SAM system, which will soon be deployed there, Russia's Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said on Wednesday. Earlier on Tuesday, the Russian Su-24 was shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet near the Turkish-Syrian border. One pilot died in the incident. The second one was rescued and brought to the Russian airbase in Latakia. Moscow maintains the jet did not violate Turkey's airspace. It ditched on Syria's territory four kilometers from the border.

Shortly afterwards, the Ministry of Defense announced three steps to be taken following the attack on the Russian Su-24 bomber, including providing aerial cover by fighter jets for every airstrike, boosting air defense by deploying guided missile cruisers off the Latakia coast, and suspending all military-to-military contacts with Turkey.

The S-400 is Russia's most advanced anti-aircraft defense system. It is as an upgrade of the S-300 Growler family, designed and developed by Almaz Antei. The S-400 is employed to ensure air defense using long- and medium-range missiles that can hit aerial targets at ranges up to 400 kilometers. The S-400 is capable of hitting tactical and strategic aircraft as well as ballistic and cruise missiles. The system includes a set of radars, missile launchers and command posts, and is operated solely by the Russian military.

RT, Russia deploys missile cruiser off Syria coast, ordered to destroy any target posing danger, Staff report, Nov. 24, 2015. Moscow plans to suspend military cooperation with Ankara after the downing of a Russian bomber by Turkish air forces, Russian General Staff representatives said on Tuesday. Further measures to beef up Russian air base security in Syria will also be taken. Sergey Rudskoy, a top official with the Russian General Staff, condemned the attack on the Russian bomber in Syrian airspace by a Turkish fighter jet as “a severe violation of international law.” He stressed that the Su-24 was downed over the Syrian territory. The crash site was four kilometers away from the Turkish border, he said. Additionally, according to the Hmeymim airfield radar, it was the Turkish fighter jet that actually entered Syrian airspace as it attacked the Russian bomber. The Turkish fighter jet made no attempts to contact Russian pilots before attacking the bomber, Rudskoy added.

South Front via The Saker, The air navigator of the SU-24: 'I have a debt to repay for the Commander,' video pool interview, Nov. 26, 2015. Today at the Latakia air base, Capt. Konstantin Murakhtin, an air navigator of the Russian SU-24 frontline bomber which was shot down by the Turks, gave his first interview with Russian media, in which he stated that there is no way that his plane violated Turkish airspace. "No. It is not possible, not even for one second," he said, as translated. "Especially because we were flying at around 6.000 meters, the weather was clear, as we say in our jargon a day in a million, our whole flight up to the moment that the rocket hit us was completely under my control. I saw the border and our exact location perfectly both on the map and on the surroundings. There was not even the threat of crossing over into Turkey," he told reporters. "We have carried out combat missions there many times, we know the area inside out, we perform combat missions and return on the reverse route to the air base. As the navigator, I know practically every elevation over there. I can even navigate without instruments," he said.

The pilot said that the Turkish missile hit the plane suddenly and it was not possible for the crew to avoid it and there was no advance warning from the Turkish side. In fact there were no warnings at all – not by radio traffic and not visually, there was just no contact. For this reason we went on combat course in regular mode. You need to understand how fast a bomber is and how fast a F16 fighter is. If they had wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves, by holding a parallel course, but there was nothing like that. In effect, the missile suddenly came at the tail of our plane anyway. We didn't even observe it visually, which might have allowed us to carry out an anti-missile maneuver, said the pilot.

Captain Murakhtin added that he himself feels, all in all, OK now. "I wait impatiently for them to discharge me to return to duty immediately," he continued. "I will ask command headquarters to leave me at this airbase, I have a debt to repay for the commander."

RT via Mint Press News, Epic Bombing Fail: PBS Uses Russian Footage To Depict US Airstrikes On ISIS Oil Fields, Staff report, Nov. 23, 2015. PBS NewsHour spliced Russian Defense Ministry’s video of airstrikes against ISIS oil infrastructure into their report. PBS News Hour used this footage of Russian airstrikes, but claimed the bombing was carried out by U.S. forces. Apparently being unable to find any footage of the US Air Force strikes against Islamic State’s oil infrastructure, PBS NewsHour spliced Russian Defense Ministry’s video into their report – but it did not go unnoticed. The PBS report last week used two objective control videos made by Russian drones while Sukhoi bombers based at Khmeimim airfield in Latakia bombed out an oil storage facility in Syria used by ISIS and a large camp of oil trucks.

RT, Russian warplanes disrupt ISIS oil sales channels; destroy 500 terrorist oil trucks in Syria, Staff report, Nov. 18, 2015. Around 500 fuel tanker vehicles transporting illegal oil from Syria to Iraq for processing have been destroyed by Russia’s Air Forces, the General Staff said. “In recent years, Islamic State and other extremist groups have organized the operations of the so-called ‘pipeline on wheels’ on the territories they control,” Russian General Staff spokesman Colonel General Andrey Kartapolov said. Hundreds of thousands of tons of fuel have been delivered to Iraq for processing by trucks and the revenue generated from these illegal exports is the one of the terrorists’ main sources of funding, he said.

 

 

Israeli News and Comment

Times of Israel, Russia deploys S-400 missile battery in Syria, state media says, Judah Ari Gross, Nov. 26, 2015. Placing of sophisticated system in Latakia would grant Russia aerial control over Syria, Lebanon and Israel FlagCyprus, and stretch as far as Israel’s international airport. The Russian military has deployed its sophisticated S-400 missile battery and radar array in Syria, a Russian state-run media outlet claimed Thursday. Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had announced Wednesday that the system would be deployed in Latakia, in northwest Syria, in response to Turkey shooting down a Russian warplane the day before. 

The advanced missile system, completed in 2007, is capable of detecting and destroying aircraft some 400 kilometers (250 miles) away. Its deployment in Latakia will grant Russia aerial control over practically all of Syria, Lebanon and Cyprus, over half of Turkey, parts of Iraq and Jordan — and, of course, Israel: Planes flying in and out of Ben Gurion International Airport — approximately 395 kilometers (245 miles) from Latakia — would be within Russian sights.

“Do we have something to fear? The answer is: yes and no,” Russia expert Zvi Magen told The Times of Israel on Wednesday. “If [the S-400] is indeed deployed,” Magen explained before Moscow’s state-run media announced the system’s deployment, “it will be a game-changer.” Anything from an F-15 fighter jet to a B-2 stealth bomber that comes into the range of the S-400 is at risk of being blown out of the sky. For Israel, the threat is not one of inevitable conflict: Russia is, after all, not an enemy. The threat is in the potential, said Magen, now a researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies. If the state-run Russian media reports are true, Israel will not have the freedom to send in aircraft to Syria unannounced; nor will the United States, United Kingdom, France and the other members of the coalition bombing the Islamic State in Syria.“Maybe he’ll take advantage of an opportunity to hit them here and there,” Magen said, “but the response will likely be political and economic, not a military conflict.”

Times of Israel, France, Russia to tighten cooperation, Staff and wire reports, Nov. 26, 2015. The presidents of France and Russia agreed Thursday to tighten cooperation in the fight against the Islamic State group, although they remained at odds over their approach toward Syrian President Bashar Assad. IS has claimed responsibility for deadly attacks against both of the countries’ citizens in recent weeks: the November 13 shootings and suicide bombings in Paris which killed 130 people, and the October 31 bombing of a Russian passenger jet over Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula that claimed 224 lives.
French President Francois Hollande has been on a diplomatic drive since the Paris attacks to increase cooperation in tackling IS, which holds swathes of territory in both Syria and Iraq. He has met this week with President Barak Obama, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi before flying to Moscow on Thursday for talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Hollande and Putin agreed on increasing intelligence sharing, intensifying their airstrikes against IS in Syria and cooperating on selecting targets — two days after Turkey downed a Russian warplane near the Syrian border. “We agreed on a very important issue: To strike the terrorists only, Daesh and the jihadi groups only, and not to strike the forces and the groups that are fighting against the terrorists,” Hollande said after the meeting, referring to IS by its Arabic acronym. “And we are going to exchange some information about that: what can be struck, and what must not be struck.”

Israel National News, Game changer? Russia says it deployed S-400 in Syria, Ari Yashar, Nov. 26, 2015. Despite US concerns that it will put all aircraft - including those in Israel - under Russian threat, Moscow deploys system to its base.  Flaunting the concerns of the US, Russia's state-owned RIA Novosti news agency announced on Thursday that Moscow has deployed its advanced S-400 anti-aircraft missile system to a base in Syria. The S-400 anti-missile system, known to NATO as the SA-21 "Growler," is said to have a maximum range of 250 miles, and can bring down airplanes at up to 90,000 feet - more than double the height of a cruising commercial airliner. The range puts Israel squarely in the system's sights.

Russia's decision to deploy the system to its base in Latakia, located in western Syria where it is propping us Bashar al-Assad's regime, comes after Turkey downed a Russian Su-24 fighter jet on Tuesday near the Turkish-Syrian border, killing one pilot. The system has been placed in a region some 50 kilometers (just over 30 miles) from Turkey, adding extra urgency to the tensions between Russia and Turkey. An American official on Wednesday said there are "significant concerns" over the deployment, and spokesperson William Stevens of the US Embassy in Moscow said earlier on Thursday that the deployment "will further complicate an already difficult situation in the skies over Syria." The S-400's range covers most of Syria, southern Turkey, the eastern portion of the Mediterranean Sea, much of Israel and the British airbase of Akrotiri in Cyprus. No less than 300 targets can be tracked simultaneously by the radar complex of the S-400, which sports six anti-aircraft missile launchers.

New Eastern Outlook, Israeli Colonel Caught with IS Pants Down, F. William Engdahl, Nov. 25, 2015. This was definitely not supposed to happen. It seems that an Israeli military man with the rank of colonel was “caught with IS pants down.” By that I mean he was captured amid a gaggle of so-called IS – or Islamic State or ISIS or DAESH depending on your preference – terrorists, by soldiers of the Iraqi army. Under interrogation by the Iraqi intelligence he apparently said a lot regarding the role of Netanyahu’s IDF in supporting IS.

In late October an Iranian news agency, quoting a senior Iraqi intelligence officer, reported the capture of an Israeli army colonel, named Yusi Oulen Shahak, reportedly related to the ISIS Golani Battalion operating in Iraq in the Salahuddin front. In a statement to Iran’s semi-official Fars News Agency a Commander of the Iraqi Army stated, “The security and popular forces have held captive an Israeli colonel.” He added that the IDF colonel “had participated in the Takfiri ISIL group’s terrorist operations.” He said the colonel was arrested together with a number of ISIL or IS terrorists, giving the details: “The Israeli colonel’s name is Yusi Oulen Shahak and is ranked colonel in Golani Brigade… with the security and military code of Re34356578765az231434.”

CNN, Netanyahu visits Putin amid concerns about Russian involvement in Syria, Holly Yan, Oren Liebermann and Greg Botelho, Sept. 21, 2015.  With Russia apparently beefing up its military presence in Syria, some countries are getting nervous about what could happen -- including Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday to discuss "the Middle East peace process and the fight against the global terrorist threat," the Kremlin said. But in a rare move, Netanyahu brought several top Israeli military and security officials with him to Moscow.

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, IDF Director of Military Intelligence Maj. Gen. Hertzi HaLevi and National Security Adviser Yossi Cohen accompanied the Prime Minster, Netanyahu's office said. The meeting, which was closed to the media, came after satellite pictures showed a rapid buildup of an air force base in Syria, with loads of Russian military equipment moving in. Among the Russian equipment are advanced Russian Sukhoi Flanker fighter jets.

 

News and Comment About and By Syria

 

Bashar Assad with RAI Journalist 11-19-15

The photo, released by Syria’s official news agency SANA on November 18, 2015, shows Syrian President Bashar al-Assad answering questions during an interview with Italian TV channel RAI UNO. Excerpted below are English-language treatments of the interview from British and Iranian media.

  • BBC (London), Syria crisis: Assad says no transition while 'terrorists' remain, Staff report, Nov. 19, 2015. Syria's President Bashar al-Assad has said a political process to end the country's bloody civil war cannot begin while it is occupied by "terrorists."  Mr. Assad told Italian state television the timetable for elections "starts after starting to defeat terrorism." It is unclear whether he was referring only to Islamic State (IS) militants or also to Western-backed rebels. Last week, 19 countries -- including Mr. Assad's allies -- set a deadline of 1 January for the start of peace talks. They signed a UN statement that calls for a ceasefire to Syria's Flagbe agreed by 14 May 2016 and for free elections to be held a year later. Neither the Syrian government nor opposition were invited to take part in the event in Vienna so that the countries could present a unified message.

In an interview with Rai TV broadcast on Wednesday night, the Syrian president stressed that no deadline for the start of a political transition could be set while parts of the country were not controlled by his government. "This timetable starts after starting defeating terrorism. You cannot achieve anything politically while you have the terrorists taking over many areas in Syria," he said. "If we talk after that, one year and a half to two years is enough for any transition." Mr. Assad has in the past used the term "terrorists" to describe both jihadist groups like IS, which controls large swathes of Syria, and Western-backed rebel forces.

  • Press TV (Iran), Daesh has no social incubator in Syria: President Assad, Nov. 19, 2015. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has assured that there is no social breeding ground in his country for the Daesh terrorist group. “I can tell you Daesh doesn’t have the natural incubator, social incubator, within Syria. This is something very good and very assuring,” he said in a recent interview with the Italian TV channel RAI UNO, as reported by SANA. Assad also said foreign-backed terrorist groups operating in Syria are the main obstacle to finding a political solution to the country’s crisis. “You cannot achieve anything politically while you have the terrorists taking over many areas in Syria, and they’re going to be – they are already – the main obstacle to any real political advancement,” he said. President Assad criticized the West’s “double standards” toward terrorism in different parts of the world, citing the Paris attacks as an example.

“We’ve been suffering from that (terrorism) for the past five years. We feel for the French as we feel for the Lebanese a few days before that, and for the Russians regarding the airplane that’s been shot down over Sinai. Does the world, especially the West, feel for those people, or only for the French?” The Syrian president was referring to the terrorist bombings in Beirut on November 12, when at least 43 people were killed and nearly 240 were injured. Elsewhere in his remarks, the Syrian leader censured Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the West for supporting “terrorists in different ways since the beginning of the crisis.” President Assad also touched on his trip to the Russian capital, Moscow, on October 20, describing it as “fruitful.”

Syria 360, President Al-Assad’s Interview with Valeurs Actuelles, Staff report, Nov. 19, 2015. President al-Assad added in an interview with the French Magazine Valeurs Actuelles Thursday that you cannot fight terrorism while you follow or pursue the wrong policies that support terrorism directly or indirectly. Following are excerpts from the interview's full text:

Question 1: I want to have your comment on this: when our President Mr. Hollande, said that President Assad couldn’t be the solution because he was part of the problem. Does this represent a general view for you, and how you see this? What’s your reaction?

President Assad: First, the first part of my reaction is: was Hollande assigned by the Syrian population to speak on their behalf? That is the first question. Would you as a French citizen accept a similar comment from any other politician in this world, to say that President Hollande shouldn’t be the French President? Isn’t it a humiliation to the French people? We look at it the same way. It’s a humiliation to the Syrian people when he says such a thing. Doesn’t it mean that he doesn’t recognize them?

Second, for France as a country that’s always proud of its traditions and the principles of the French Revolution and maybe democracy and human rights, the first principle of that democracy is that peoples have the right to decide who leads them. So, it’s a shame on him, for somebody who represents the French population, to do and say something which is against the principles of the French republic and the French people. Second, it’s a shame on him to try to humiliate a population with a civilized, long, deep history for thousands of years like the Syrian people. So, that’s my reaction, and I think it will not affect the facts in Syria, because the facts will not be affected by certain statements.

Question 2: If you had a message, one message, for Mr. Hollande and Mr. Fabius [French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabiusius], especially after what happened yesterday in Paris? Is it “please cut your relations urgently with Qatar and Saudi Arabia?”

My message to Hollande and Fabius: be serious when you talk about fighting terrorists

President Assad: First of all, this message has many aspects. The first part of this message is a question: are they independent to send them a message they can implement? Actually, the French policy these days is not independent of the American one. This is first. So, sending a message will lead nowhere. In spite of that, if I have a hope that there will be some political change in France, the first one is go back to the real, independent, friendly politics of France toward the Middle East and toward Syria. Second, be away from the American, how to say, methodology, of double standards. So, if you want to support the Syrian people – allegedly – regarding democracy and freedom, it’s better to support the Saudi people first.

If you have a problem about democracy with the Syrian state, how could you have good relations and friendship with the worst states in the world, the most underdeveloped states in the world which are the Saudi and Qatari states? So, this contradiction doesn’t give credibility.

 

News and Comment About and By Turkey

Reporters Without Borders (RSF), RSF launches international appeal for release of Cumhuriyet journalists, Staff report, Dec. 1, 2015. At a press conference held in partnership with the Turkish Association of Flag of TurkeyJournalists (TGC) today in Istanbul, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) launched an international appeal for the release of Cumhuriyet journalists Can Dündar and Erdem Gül and all their fellow journalists unjustly detained in Turkey. The list of initial signatories, consisting of NGOs and international public figures, has been posted on RSF’s website. The general public can support the appeal by signing the petition in English, Turkish and French at this address. Editor's Note: The Justice Integrity Project is among petition signers.

The signatories accuse the Turkish authorities of “persecuting journalists of all colors in an increasingly ferocious manner” and urge them “to free Can Dündar and Erdem Gül without delay, to drop all charges against them, and to free all other journalists who are currently detained in connection with their journalism or the opinions they have expressed.” They also condemn this spiral of oppression in “a country that is ranked 149th out of 180 countries in the Reporters Without Borders press freedom index.”

“The Turkish authorities are targeting the wrong enemy,” RSF secretary¬general Christophe Deloire said. “The judicial system seems to prosecute journalists more often than the accomplices of Daesh (Islamic State). Turkey is a great country, with democratic institutions and a very open civil society. We appeal to the government, as a matter of honour, to restore all the conditions of pluralism, starting with freedom for journalists.” TGC president Turgay Olcayto added: “With globalization, the Turkish media’s problems could one day become the problems of western journalists. It is vital that we join forces to defend free journalism before it is too late.”

AP via Huffington Post, Turkey's Erdogan Expresses Regret Over Russian Plane Downing, Staff report, Nov. 28, 2015. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday voiced regret over Turkey's downing of a Russian warplane, saying his country was "truly saddened" by the incident and wished it hadn't occurred. It was the first expression of regret by the strongman leader since Tuesday's incident in which Turkish F-16 jets shot down the Russian jet on grounds that it had violated Turkey's airspace despite repeated warnings to change course. It was the first time in half a century that a NATO member shot down a Russian plane and drew a harsh response from Moscow.

He renewed a call for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a climate conference in Paris next week, saying it would be an opportunity to overcome tensions. Erdogan's friendly overture however, came after he again vigorously defended Turkey's action and criticized Russia for its operations in Syria. "If we allow our sovereign rights to be violated ... then the territory would no longer be our territory," Erdogan said.

Putin has denounced the Turkish action as a "treacherous stab in the back," and has insisted that the plane was downed over Syrian territory in violation of international law. He has also refused to take telephone calls from Erdogan. Putin's foreign affairs adviser, Yuri Ushakov, said Friday that the Kremlin had received Erdogan's request for a meeting, but wouldn't say whether such a meeting is possible. On Friday, Reuters reported that Erdogan warned Russia not to "play with fire," comments that look more likely to inflame than quell the dispute over a downed Russian bomber this week. Russia's lower house speaker, Sergei Naryshkin, said on Friday that Moscow had the right to make a military response, calling the incident an "intentional murder of our soldiers."

 

Bilal ErdoganBilal Erdogan, son of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan

Zero Hedge, Meet The Man Who Funds ISIS: Bilal Erdogan, The Son Of Turkey's President, Tyler Durden, Nov. 26, 2015. Russia's Sergey Lavrov is not one foreign minister known to mince his words. Just earlier today, 24 hours after a Russian plane was brought down by the country whose president three years ago said "a short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack," had this to say: "We have serious doubts this was an unintended incident and believe this is a planned provocation" by Turkey.

But even that was tame compared to what Lavrov said to his Turkish counterparty Mevlut Cavusoglu earlier today during a phone call between the two (Lavrov who was supposed to travel to Turkey has since canceled such plans). As Sputnik transcribes, according to a press release from Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Lavrov pointed out that, "by shooting down a Russian plane on a counter-terrorist mission of the Russian Aerospace Force in Syria, and one that did not violate Turkey’s airspace, the Turkish government has in effect sided with ISIS."

It was in this context when Lavrov added that "Turkey’s actions appear premeditated, planned, and undertaken with a specific objective." More importantly, Lavrov pointed to Turkey’s role in the propping up the terror network through the oil trade. Per the Russian statement: "The Russian Minister reminded his counterpart about Turkey’s involvement in the ISIS’ illegal trade in oil, which is transported via the area where the Russian plane was shot down, and about the terrorist infrastructure, arms and munitions depots and control centers that are also located there."

Others reaffirmed Lavrov's stance, such as retired French General Dominique Trinquand, who said that "Turkey is either not fighting ISIL at all or very little, and does not interfere with different types of smuggling that takes place on its border, be it oil, phosphate, cotton or people," he said.

Mirror (London), Turkey moves 20 tanks to its border and sends 18 fighter jets on patrol as Russia crisis continues, Anthony Bond, Nov. 26, 2015. Military sources from Turkey said the tanks were moved by rail to an armored brigade at its western border with Syria. Reports also say 18 fighter jets were sent on a patrol exercise near the border. A military source told Turkey’s Anadolu agency: "Accompanied by police and gendarmes, 20 tanks were sent by rail from Turkey’s western provinces by railway to Gaziantep in the south of the country, and then redirected to the Syrian border." Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet on Tuesday morning close to the Syrian border leading to a crisis between the two countries. Russia yesterday started bombing Syrian rebels in the area close to where its fighter jets was shot down. Missiles have been fired from Russian warships in the Mediterranean and fighters jets have also been launching raids in Syria's Latakia province. At least 12 air strikes hit Latakia's northern countryside, the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. A Turkmen commander said missiles fired from Russian warships in the Mediterranean were also hitting the area, as well as heavy artillery shelling.

Telegraph (London), Turkey arrests editors over reports Ankara supplied weapons to Syrian fighters, Raziye Akkoc, Nov. 26, 2015. Two journalists from an opposition Turkish newspaper have been arrested, accused of spying by an Istanbul court following reports that Turkey's intelligence agency sent weapons to Islamist rebel groups in Syria. In another case of journalists facing criminal charges and censorship, editor-in-chief Can Dundar and Erdem Gul, the newspaper's Ankara bureau chief, were taken into custody on Thursday night, Turkish media reported. The two men are accused of spying and "divulging state secrets," according to reports, as well as being members of a terror organization. Another charge included the violation of state security after the release of the footage. In January 2014, Turkish security forces intercepted the trucks sent by National Intelligence Agency (MIT) twice following tip-offs to prosecutors that they were illegally taking arms to Syria. The stories made the front page and since then, Turkey has often been accused of supporting Islamist Syrian rebels fighting against Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian president.

Turkey disputes the front-page allegations, claiming the arms were aid for Syrian Turkmen, a Turkic minority in the country's northern areas, and described the actions of the security forces as "treason" and "espionage," according to the English-language Turkish newspaper Today's Zaman. In the video released in May, authorities can apparently be seen opening crates in the trucks and finding what Cumhuriyet described as weapons and ammunition, it was reported. When the two men were arrested on Thursday night, Dundar tweeted: "We have been arrested" in Turkish. The two men appeared in court on Thursday and before their appearance, defended their actions as "journalistic activity," adding they were not spies.

"We are accused of ‘spying.’ The president said [our action is] ‘treason.' We are not traitors, spy, or heroes; we are journalists. What we have done here was a journalistic activity,” Dundar said before appearing in court to testify on Thursday, in comments carried by Hurriyet Daily News. “We came here to defend journalism. We came here to defend the right of the public to obtain the news and their right to know if their government is feeding them lies. We came here to show and to prove that governments cannot engage in illegal activity and defend this,” Dundar added. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish president, said the reports by the newspaper were an act of "betrayal," adding that whether they had weapons or not was irrelevant. He has repeated the claims by authorities that Bayırbucak Turkmens were the intended recipients of aid from the truck.

ISIS victims in June 2014Slaughtered ISIS Victims in June 2014

World Crisis Radio / Tax Wall Street Party, Erdogan of Turkey, facing short-term military collapse of his ISIS / Daesh irregular army, shoots down Russian warplane flying over Syria, Webster G. Tarpley, Nov. 25, 2015. The Turkish action was likely a deliberate and calculated provocation, seeking to mobilize additional support for the Syrian terrorist rebels, who function as a kind of irregular army or private militia for Turkish President Erdogan. It is estimated that a partial military collapse (at minimum) of the rebels in this sector is awaited for late autumn or early winter. Erdogan’s behavior demonstrates this, since the Turkish government did not attempt to clarify the incident with Moscow, but rather turned immediately to the NATO ministerial council, which met later today. The intent here is clearly yet another bid to drag the United States and other powers in to back up the treachery and adventurism of the Erdogan gang, who are proposing to create a modern version of the Ottoman Empire, starting with territory carved out of Syria. Fortunately, the NATO Council did not go beyond some rhetoric, including the notion that there should be no escalation.

At the press conference held at noon in the White House by Obama with the French President Hollande, both presidents stressed that any escalation must be avoided. Both presidents also mouthed some ritual boilerplate rhetoric about the need for President Assad to step down, but there was nothing specific proposed in this direction. Hollande stressed his commitment to cooperation with Russia, which would imply a softening of the strident anti-Assad position expressed in recent months by Foreign Minister Fabius of the Quai d’Orsay. On the whole, if we discount the ritual litanies recited to protect vested interests, this press conference could have been much worse. A Trump, a Cruz, a Carson or some other desperate demagogue might have catapulted things all the way to World War III by spouting lunatic Republican Party rhetorical formulas.

Today’s events illustrate why the NATO alliance is not a source of security to the United States, but rather a clear and present danger. Under the North Atlantic Pact of 1949, the United States is theoretically obligated to come to the assistance of madman Erdogan if he succeeds in goading Russia into some kind of military retaliation. Right now the chances of that might be relatively modest, but they need to be multiplied by the existential threat which is now posed to too many countries by the Syrian conflagration. Obama ought to issue a stern ultimatum to Erdogan to back off, and to accept the verdict of the battlefield for his ISIS puppets. Turkey will do just fine within its current borders, without annexing an inch of Syrian territory. Obama should also declare that Article 5 of the NATO treaty will not be operative in cases of aggression by a NATO member state, such as Turkey.

 

Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meets with PM Ahmet Davutoglu Nov. 24, 2015 AFP

A photo released by the Turkish Presidential Palace Press Office shows Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (L) meeting with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
in the capital, Ankara, on November 24, 2015. (AFP photo).

Press TV, Turkish President Erdogan approves new cabinet, son-in-law named energy minister, Nov. 24, 2015. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has approved a new elected cabinet, following a victory by his Justice and Development Party (AKP) in recent parliamentary elections. Erdogan on Tuesday approved a list presented by Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu. According to some Turkish sources, Berat Albayrak, a son-in-law of Erdogan, has been appointed as the energy minister, while Ali Babacan, the once popular and powerful head of the economy, is not included in the list. Babacan’s portfolio will go to former Finance Minister Mehmet Sismek. Mevlut Cavusoglu has returned to the government as the foreign minister, while Volkan Bozkir will act as the European Union minister.

The AKP stormed to victory in the November 1 elections and regained its parliamentary majority, which it had lost in June. Erdogan had ordered the snap votes after Davutoglu failed in his efforts to form a coalition government. Before the Tuesday announcement, the Turkish prime minister was heading an interim cabinet. The approval of the new cabinet came only hours after the Turkish military said it had downed a Russian fighter jet after, Ankara stated, the aircraft violated Turkey’s airspace.

National Press Club, Club calls on Turkish government to protect press freedom, John Hughes, Nov. 2, 2015. The National Press Club is deeply concerned the Oct. 28 raid on the Koza-Ipek media group in Ankara is politically motivated and is another sign of the deteriorating press freedom in Turkey. An Ankara court recently ordered the seizure of the company's assets as part of an ongoing investigation that accuses it of financing terrorism and promoting terrorism propaganda. The Koza-Ipek media group is linked to Fethullah Gulen, a political rival of Erdogan. The government has not yet provided any proof of criminal activity that could warrant the take-over of the holding company by a government-approved board of trustees and it continues to persecute journalists who are trying to do their job.

After Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) lost its majority in June in a general election the government called for a snap election set for Nov. 1. Since then however, the Intercept reports at least 40 journalists have been detained. That's a sixfold increase compared to last year in a country where press freedom has already been a concern for international observers. The AKP declared victory after preliminary results from the Nov. 1 election showed it winning. The Press Club urges the government of Turkey to immediately present evidence to show the seizure is indeed related to a criminal investigation and not a politically-motivated move to clamp down on press freedom. Without such evidence the government should hand back Koza-Ipek to its executives and allow its journalists to continue their work. “Without a free and independent media the Turkish people are deprived of real discourse and oversight of the democratic process,” Hughes said.

Turkey Election Results Nov. 1, 2015 Anadolu Agency

Turkey Election Results Nov. 1, 2015 Anadolu Agency

BBC, Turkey election: Ruling AKP regains majority, Staff report, Nov. 1, 2015. Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has won a critical parliamentary election, regaining the majority it lost in June. With almost all ballots counted, state-run Anadolu Agency said AKP had won 49.4% of the vote, with the main opposition CHP on 25.4%. Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the result was a "victory for our democracy and our people." The pro-Kurdish HDP crossed the 10% threshold needed to claim seats. The nationalist MHP will also take seats in Ankara. Polls had indicated the AKP would received only between 40-43% of the vote, in line with how it fared in June when it lost its majority for the first time in 13 years.

Attempts to form a coalition government after the June election failed. With almost all of the results counted, the AKP is set to win substantially more than the 276 seats needed to win a majority, allowing it to form a government on its own. However, it will fall just short of the amount of seats needed to call a referendum on changing the constitution and increasing the powers of the president, AKP founder Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The AKP's opponents had said the vote was a chance to curb what it sees as the increasingly authoritarian tendencies of Mr. Erdogan.

 

Paris Bombings

 

World Crisis Radio, How France Must Retaliate Against Terrorism: Cut the ISIS Supply Lines Crossing the Syrian-Turkish Border Between Jarablus and Aleppo, Quickly Destroy the Islamic State, and Bring the War in Syria and Iraq to an End, Webster G. Tarpley, Nov. 15, 2015.

President Obama, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Susan Rice confer in Turkey 11-15-15

President Barack Obama meets with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on the sidelines of the G20 Summit at Regnum Carya Resort in Antalya, Turkey, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. National Security Advisior Susan E. Rice listens at left. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza.)

AP via Washington Post, Paris attacks deepen GOP opposition to Syrian refugee influx, Laurie Kellman, Nov. 16, 2015. Governors across the country are scrambling to close off their states to resettled Syrian refugees in the wake of the deadly terror attacks in Paris that are linked to Islamic State extremists. The list of states climbed quickly to 23 by Monday evening, after President Obama said that the U.S. would continue to accept refugees and denounced efforts to stop those fleeing violence from coming to the United States as "shameful."

Washington Post, France launches fierce assault on ISIS targets in Syria in coordination with U.S. defense officials, David Nakamura and Karen DeYoung, Nov. 15, 2015. French warplanes launched a ferocious retaliatory assault late Sunday on targets in Raqqa, Syria — the Islamic State’s de facto capital — after coordination with U.S. defense officials who helped with the targeting. The French Defense Ministry said that 10 aircraft dropped 20 bombs on facilities used by the militant group, which has claimed responsibility for Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, striking a command center, a militant-training facility and an arms depot.

Opposition activists reached in Raqqa said they counted at least 30 bombs, which they said had hit, among other things, a local football stadium, a museum and medical facilities. They said the strikes had knocked out electricity in the city of about 200,000 people. The French statement said the operation, launched from bases in the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, was conducted in coordination with U.S. forces, which have compiled an extensive target list in Raqqa. American officials, speaking at the G-20 summit here that President Obama is attending, said the French operation was discussed between the two militaries.

The Hill, Former CIA deputy director: ISIS strategy not working, Bradford Richardson, Nov. 15, 2015. A former deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) says the U.S. strategy toward the Islamic Michael MorelState in Syria (ISIS) “is not working.” Michael Morell said recent attacks by the terrorist group in Paris and on a Russian passenger plane show it’s time for the U.S. to reconsider its strategy. “I think it’s now crystal clear to us that our strategy, our policy vis-à-vis ISIS is not working, and it’s time to look at something else,” Morell said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. He said the U.S. may need to rethink its opposition to Syrian President Bashar al Assad.

“You know, clearly he’s part of the problem, but he may also be part of the solution, right?” said Morell, shown in a file photo. “An agreement where he stays around for a while and the Syrian army, supported by the coalition, takes on ISIS may be the best result here.” He said the U.S. needs to take seriously the sophisticated attacks ISIS has proven capable of carrying out. “You’ve got a large number of operatives. They have to get explosives. They have to get weapons. They have to communicate among themselves and communicate back to Iraq and Syria,” Morell said. “This is a level of sophistication that we have not seen since the London bombings in 2005.”

JohnPilger.com, From Pol Pot to ISIS: The blood never dried, John Pilger, Nov. 16, 2015. Following the ISIS outrages in Beirut and Paris, John Pilger (shown John Pilgerin a file photo) updates this prescient essay on the root causes of terrorism and what we can do about it. In transmitting President Richard Nixon's orders for a "massive" bombing of Cambodia in 1969, Henry Kissinger said, "Anything that flies on everything that moves." As Barack Obama wages his seventh war against the Muslim world since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and Francois Hollande promises a "merciless" attack on the rubble of Syria, the orchestrated hysteria and lies make one almost nostalgic for Kissinger's murderous honesty.

As a witness to the human consequences of aerial savagery — including the beheading of victims, their parts festooning trees and fields — I am not surprised by the disregard of memory and history, yet again. A telling example is the rise to power of Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, who had much in common with today's Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). They, too, were ruthless medievalists who began as a small sect. They, too, were the product of an American-made apocalypse, this time in Asia.

ISIS has a similar past and present. By most scholarly measure, Bush and Blair's invasion of Iraq in 2003 led to the deaths of at least 700,000 people — in a country that had no history of jihadism. The Kurds had done territorial and political deals; Sunni and Shia had class and sectarian differences, but they were at peace; intermarriage was common. Three years before the invasion, I drove the length of Iraq without fear. On the way I met people proud, above all, to be Iraqis, the heirs of a civilization that seemed, for them, a presence.

Bush and Blair blew all this to bits. Iraq is now a nest of jihadism. Al-Qaeda — like Pol Pot's "jihadists" — seized the opportunity provided by the onslaught of 'Shock and Awe' and the civil war that followed. "Rebel" Syria offered even greater rewards, with CIA and Gulf state ratlines of weapons, logistics and money running through Turkey. The arrival of foreign recruits was inevitable. A former British ambassador, Oliver Miles, wrote, "The [Cameron] government seems to be following the example of Tony Blair, who ignored consistent advice from the Foreign Office, MI5 and MI6 that our Middle East policy — and in particular our Middle East wars — had been a principal driver in the recruitment of Muslims in Britain for terrorism here."

Paul Craig Roberts.org, “Paris Changes Everything,” Say Merkel’s German Political Allies, Paul Craig Roberts (shown in file photo), Nov. 15, 2015.  Dr. Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy in the Reagan Administration. He was associate editor and columnist with the Wall Street Journal, columnist for Business Week and the Scripps Howard News Service. In my recent writings I have explained the many agendas served by the false flag Paris Paul Craig Robertsattack. I also predicted that other countries would follow France’s lead in closing their borders, thus dispossessing the dissenting political parties of their issue and preserving the political power and control of the European establishment. Germany is now moving in the direction of repulsing refugees. By the time the Paris attack and all that will come in its wake run their course — new military measures against ISIL, Western intervention without Syrian government approval, PATRIOT Acts for European countries, and possibly a new and more draconian PATRIOT Act for the US, increased association of dissent with ISIL terrorism — Trump and Sanders will no longer command attention. Pushed aside, they will not regain the limelight.

Just as with 9/11, Charlie Hebdo and the Boston Marathon Bombing, the media was scripted with the story and ready to go the minute the happening was reported. There is no investigation, no questioning, just the media moving in lockstep with the scripted official story. Again, the perpetrators conveniently leave their ID. Again, the attack coincides with an official drill of the attack. No matter how transparent the false flag attack and the agendas served by it, patriotism whipped to a frenzy blinds people to the reality.

 

 

French President Francois Hollande after 11-13-15 attack

A television watcher sees French President François Hollande after attacks on Nov. 13, 2015

Reuters via Huffington Post, Islamic State Claims Responsibility For Deadly Paris Attacks, Eric Knecht, Nov. 14, 2015. The militant group also redistributed a video threatening to attack France if bombings continue. Islamic State claimed responsibility on Saturday for attacks that killed 127 people in Paris, saying it sent militants strapped with suicide bombing belts and carrying machine guns to various locations in the heart of the capital. The attacks were designed to show the country would remain in danger as long as it continued its current policies, Islamic State said in a statement. "To teach France, and all nations following its path, that they will remain at the top of Islamic State's list of targets, and that the smell of death won't leave their noses as long as they partake in their crusader campaign," said the group.

Washington Post, Hollande: Paris attacks an ‘act of war’ by Islamic State, Pope: Attacks leave scars from ‘piecemeal Third World War,’  Maura Judkis, Griff Witte and Brian Murphy, Nov. 14, 2015. The deadliest attacks in France since World War II have had a ripple effect in Europe and beyond as border checks were imposed, and Iran's president canceled a planned trip. Extra security measures are also in place in major Parisian Bombing 128 DeadU.S. cities. French President François Hollande decried the massacres across Paris as an “act of war” by the Islamic State, amplifying signals Saturday of a major response from France and its allies after coordinated gunfire and bombings that killed at least 127 people.

Moments later, a message attributed to the Islamic State asserted responsibility for the worst attacks in France since World War II and among of the most deadly terrorist strikes on Western soil since Sept. 11, 2001.

Left behind were the latest scars, said Pope Francis, from the “piecemeal Third World War.” One survivor described the gunmen coldly picking off hostages in a packed concert hall as if “we were birds.”