“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Sunday, January 24, 2016

After the Ass-stabbing Turks shot down a Russian plane, Russia deployed its cutting-edge air defense systems, S-400s, to an air base near Latakia: It looks as if Turkey stabbed itself in the ass.

Turkey-Russia Tensions Spike as Russia moves into Northern Syria

By Juan Cole | (Informed Comment) | – –

Russian air strikes in Syria are coming closer and closer to the Turkish border in Latakia in the northwest, and there are rumors that Russia is looking at establishing an airbase at Qamishli in the largely Kurdish northeast of Syria. Turkey risks having Russia as a neighbor all along the Syrian border to Turkey’s south, as well as beyond the Black Sea to its north.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said at a news conference, “We have said this from the beginning: we won’t tolerate such formations (in northern Syria) along the area stretching from the Iraqi border up to the Mediterranean. . .”

Over on the Mediterranean side, Russian air strikes have enabled the Syrian Arab Army of the Bashar al-Assad regime to move back into northern Latakia Province, taking a large number of villages in the far northern areas of Turkmen Mountain and Kurd Mountain. 

The strategic city of Rabia was surrounded on three sides by government troops.

Syrian government sources maintained that 150 rebels had been killed in the fighting, including guerrillas of the Nusra Front, while others had fled across the border into Turkey.

It was to protect the anti-regime Turkmen fighters of Turkmen mountain that last fall the Turkish air force shot a Russian fighter jet out of the air. 

The SAA has also retaken Salma in the east of Latakia Province. Salma had been in rebel hands for 3 years and is in higher land and so was a useful way for the rebels to dominate the surrounding area.

Russian strategy since last October has been to intervene from the air to give courage to the Syrian troops and allow them to push back the rebels from the key port city of Latakia in the province of the same name. The al-Qaeda-allied Army of Conquest (Jaysh al-Fateh) has the neighboring province of Idlib to the east and has a key position in Jisr al-Shughour, a town in the highlands overlooking Latakia from which an assault could easily be launched. One of the Army of Conquest coalition partners is the Nusra Front or the Support Front, the chief al-Qaeda franchise in Syria, which reports to Ayman al-Zawahiri (one of the masterminds of the 9/11 attacks on the US).

The Nusra Front has been flooding fighters also into northern, mountainous Latakia, where Turkmen villages are split, with about half in the ranks of the anti-regime rebels. Turkmen speak a language close to Turkish and came into the Arab world as nomads from the 8th century forward, originating in Inner Asia.

The Syrian Arab Army on Friday made substantial advances in Turkmen Mountain in the far north of Latakia Province near the Turkish border, taking numerous villages and expelling al-Qaeda and allied fighters. This drive to reestablish regime control so close to the Turkish border has alarmed the Turkish government, which had been arming and supporting the rebellious Turkmen.

As of Friday, Turkey’s proxies seemed to be losing very badly, and it is unclear what options Ankara now has except Erdogan’s bluster.



    U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reiterated support for ally Saudi Arabia as he finished a visit to the country Sunday, saying the two nations have as strong a friendship as ever.

    Kerry said “nothing has changed” as a result of the agreement the U.S. and five other world powers made with Iran to curb its nuclear program in exchange for lifting billions of dollars in sanctions.

    His comments were similar to ones he made Saturday as he met with Saudi and other Gulf officials in Riyadh.

    The meetings in Riyadh come on the heels of a flurry of Iran-related activity, including implementation of the nuclear deal, Tehran’s temporary detention and release of 10 U.S. sailors, and a negotiated swap that resulted in freedom for four Americans jailed in Iran. A fifth American was released by Tehran around the same time, last week.

    In spite of these developments, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir said, “I don’t see a coming together of the United States and Iran.”

    Jubeir commented as he and Kerry sat side-by-side in a Saturday news conference.

    “I don’t believe the United States is under any illusion as to what type of government Iran is,” he added.


    Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Israel: A new alliance in the region?

    Ankara's recent steps to reposition itself in the region is looking increasingly like a comprehensive strategy to counter Iranian efforts and Russian aggression that, together, undermine the area's stability and threaten vital Turkish interests in Syria.

    First, Turkey stepped up its efforts to reconcile with Israel over the 2010 Mavi Marmara raid. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan for the first time in many years declared last week that Turkey needs Israel as a friend in the region. Second, Erdoğan strengthened his country's alliance with Saudi Arabia by establishing a strategic partnership council between the two countries. To his advantage, the U.S.'s regional allies, which include Saudi Arabia, Israel and the Gulf countries, are not happy with the current U.S. policy in the Middle East. It is viewed as a weak approach focused on appeasing Iranian ambitions in the area.

    U.S. President Barack Obama's administration expects Iran's help to ease Israeli concerns about possible nuclear aggression and to push Syrian President Bashar Assad to the negotiating table. However, Saudi and Israeli officials, along with those from Arab countries, are dissatisfied with this approach because they believe Iran's ambitions in the region threaten their national security. Following Saudi Arabia's King Salman's decision to severe diplomatic ties with Iran, a Saudi insider in Washington told The Associated Press on Monday: "Every time Iran does something, the United States backs off." The insider certainly has a point because last week the U.S. administration backtracked on the implementation of a new wave of sanctions on Iran for its recent ballistic missile tests, which were in complete disregard for the United Nations prohibition on such actions.

    Of perhaps greater concern was that the White House also kept the public in the dark about the USS Harry S. Truman's recent encounter with an Iranian battalion in the Strait of Hormuz. The Iranians had tried to provoke a U.S. response by launching a rocket within approximately 1,370 meters of the ship.

  3. What a bad week for the war party. Darn you, Iran! The country that the armchair warriors most love to hate refuses to play the villain’s role assigned by the neoconservatives, “humanitarian” interventionists, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the establishment media

    First Iran quickly released 10 U.S. sailors whose armed boats had violated Iran’s territorial waters near the militarily sensitive Farsi Island in the Persian Gulf. (Never mind why the boats were there; the official explanation keeps changing, but don't dare suggest the reason was anything but innocent.) Next Iran was found in full compliance with the nuclear agreement, killing its nonexistent nuclear-weapons program. Then it released five Americans held in Iran in exchange for seven Iranians held in American prisons. (None of the 12 should have been jailed.)

    What’s a war party to do when the Official Enemy won’t act like it? Where are militarists who seek the presidency to turn if they can’t count on their tacit allies, Iran’s hardliners, to sabotage the constructive actions of the reasonable Iranian president and foreign minister?

    The U.S. government and its closest ally, Israel, have threatened to attack Iran for decades. Meanwhile they have conducted covert, proxy, and cyber war against the Islamic Republic. But Iran wouldn't take the bait. George W. Bush hoped to bomb Iran into regime-change before he left office, but the U.S. intelligence apparatus documented that Iran was not building a nuclear weapon, leaving Bush's plans in tatters.

    The warmongers just can't catch a break, but Iran's un-enemy-like conduct doesn't deter them. As true-believers, they are unfazed by facts.

    1. Hillary Clinton is to be included in this group. In one of her presidential debates she listed Iran among the enemies she’s most proud to have made—odd coming from a former secretary of state who says she helped prepare for the nuclear talks.

      In the midst of the good news last weekend, she called for new sanctions because Iran had tested a long-range allegedly nuclear-capable missile in supposed violation of a UN resolution. (The Obama administration obliged, although Iran protests that the missile is not nuclear-capable.)

      It unclear why the arms-merchant United States and its Mideast allies are allowed to have long-range missiles, but Iran is not. It's also unclear why that UN resolution is so special when the U.S. government has no problem with Israel's 50-year-old defiance of UN resolutions regarding the oppressed Palestinians. Israel, of course, is the Middle East's nuclear monopolist, refuses (unlike Iran) to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty, and thus is not subject to inspections, as Iran long has been. One also wonders what Iran could do with a long-range missile armed with a conventional warhead except to perhaps deter the long-threatened U.S. attack. Iran has a small military budget and no offensive capability.

      The Republican presidential contenders saw aggression in everything the Iranians did last week and appeasement in everything President Obama did. We should be accustomed to such nonsense by now. You'd have thought Iran crossed into American waters or repeatedly threatened the United States. If under similar circumstances an American president did what the Republicans apparently think Iran should have done—presumably, ignore the intruding boats—they'd be screaming for impeachment. If, as they say, Turkey was justified in shooting down Russian military jets that briefly violated its airspace (it wasn't), why are they upset when Iran peacefully apprehends armed U.S. naval craft in their waters?

      Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio all struck tough-guy poses, demonstrating once more why they and Clinton must be kept far from U.S. military power. Against Iran, the Republicans expressed their support for the barbaric theocratic Saudi Arabia, although it subsidizes bin Ladenites and commits genocide with U.S. support in Yemen.

      Contrary to the hawks, Iran is the aggrieved party in the relationship with the United States. It tried to cooperate with America many times, including after 9/11, but was rebuffed consistently.

      To be sure, Iran's regime is an authoritarian theocracy, but Saudi Arabia is worse. Tehran, not Riyadh, has churches and synagogues, and Iranian women have far more freedom than Saudi women. Iran's regime, an unfortunate reaction to CIA subversion of Iranian secular democracy in 1953, is no threat to Americans.

      It’s past time for detente. If Israeli and Saudi Arabia don’t like it, too bad.


  4. Weasels ?

    Looks like an alliance of Sunnis to me, with some Jews thrown in, understandably, as the Shits have vowed to wipe them from the Face of the Earth, all of them, Jew and Sunni alike.

    And, USA too.

    "Death to the USA"

    This shit has been going on for 1400 years.

    The only surprising or shocking thing about it is that anyone would be surprised or shocked about it.

    1. Isaac, just to inform you, the USA is only a couple of hundred years old.
      The current United States of America was founded in 1788 with the ratification of the Constitution. That makes the USA 228 years old.
      How does that relates to 1,400 years of "Death to the USA" ?

      You are a confused individual, Isaac, reminding me a lot of Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

  5. Thomas Paine said, “The whole religious complexion of the modern world is due to the absence from Jerusalem of a lunatic asylum.”

    Anything descended from the shitbird Abraham belongs in the Axis of Wrasels

  6. Speaking of which, I predict that seven days from now your television screen will be full of Hillary exiting the Methodist Church of Des Moines, carrying the biggest damned Bible this side of Constantinople.

    And, it looks like the Siege of Mosul will begin a bit earlier than some of us had anticipated. It looks like Obama would really like for that city to be retaken before the General Election Campaign gets fully underway.

    Ain't Politics Grand? :)

  7. We got hammered with the storm. I was in vegas for the week and came home early to beat the airport closing.

    The First Americans, AKA “Indians”, AKA “Mexicans”, AKA “undocumented workers” are busting their asses this morning cleaning the walks and driveways of about 24 inches of snow and 36 inches of drift.


    Erdogan: Turkey Won’t Tolerate Russian Build-up in Northern Syria

    Urges US to ‘Prevent’ Russia From Backing Kurdish YPG

    by Jason Ditz, January 22, 2016

    Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan today laid out his agenda for Saturday talks with Vice President Joe Biden, saying a Russian military build-up in northern Syria, which reported involves “up to 200” Russian troops, is threatening to Turkey and “won’t be tolerated.”

    Erdogan expressed particular concern about reports of a team of Russian military engineers arriving in Qamishli, in Hasakeh Province, to investigate the possibility of expanding the runway and capacity of the airport to serve as a Russian air base in northeastern Syria.

    The US has recently taken over a base in the same area of Hasakeh from the Kurdish YPG, and Russia seems keen to get a base there as well, as they’ve similarly backed the YPG against ISIS. Erdogan, however, insisted that “There is no difference between PYD, YPG, PKK, or ISIS.”

    If the meeting ends up focusing on Russia, the likelihood is that the US will back more NATO deployments into southern Turkey, and probably push for more troops along Russia’s borders in Eastern Europe too just so the Baltic states don’t feel left out.

    In practice, Turkey’s government may insist it won’t “tolerate” Russia having a base in Kurdish northeast Syria, but can’t actually do anything about it.

  9. Did the Americans, tired of fucking around with Obeidi, threaten to green-light the Kurds' "liberation" of Mosul, absent Iraqi action?

    I'm kind of thinking they might have.


    The Iraqi prime minister has cast doubt on Turkey’s willingness to combat ISIS terrorists, saying Ankara should focus on fighting the Takfiri group instead of targeting its Kurdish population.

    Haider al-Abadi said in an interview with CNBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Thursday that Turkey viewed the Kurdish population within its border as a greater problem than Daesh.

    “The Turks are telling us otherwise, (that) they’re eager to fight Daesh. But I’m telling them frankly, I’m not seeing evidence of that. I hope to see more evidence of that,” Abadi said.

    The Iraqi premier further urged officials in Ankara to take Daesh threats seriously and “shift their priority from considering the Kurds as their problem” to battling the Takfiri terror group, which has seized swathes of land in Iraq and neighboring Syria since 2014.

    Abadi also expressed Baghdad’s willingness to improve relations with Ankara, but made clear that Turkey’s extension of its troop deployment to Iraq was “not helpful at all.”

    “I think Turkey is looking to go back to the Ottoman Empire thing, I don’t think there’s a place in the region for that,” he added.

    Last month, Turkey deployed some 150 soldiers, equipped with heavy weapons and backed by 20 to 25 tanks, to the outskirts of Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s Nineveh province.

    Ankara claimed that its troops had been deployed in northern Iraq to train Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters against Daesh.

    Abadi has said Turkish troops deployed to northern Iraq were causing a “lot of tension,” adding there was no reason for their deployment deep inside the Iraqi border.

    Turkish warplanes routinely carry out attacks on what they claim to be Daesh targets in northern Iraq. The raids have repeatedly drawn an angry reaction from Baghdad, which has denounced Ankara for violating the country’s sovereignty.


    “The Islamic Republic of Iran will never forget China’s cooperation during the time of sanctions.”

    AhlulBayt News Agency - Ayatollah Khamenei, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution, met Saturday afternoon with Xi Jinping, the President of the People’s Republic of China, and his accompanying delegation. President Rouhani was also present at the meeting.

    Speaking at the meeting, His Eminence referred to the long and ancient history of commercial and cultural relations between the two peoples of Iran and China, reiterating: “The government and people of Iran have always looked and are still looking for expanding relations with independent and trustworthy countries like China and on this basis, the agreement between the presidents of Iran and China for the establishment of a 25-year strategic relation is completely correct and wise.”

    The Leader of the Islamic Revolution described the statements of the President of the People’s Republic of China about the necessity to revive the silk road and to develop relations among the countries located on this route as a completely reasonable and acceptable idea, further saying: “The Islamic Republic of Iran will never forget China’s cooperation during the time of sanctions.”

    ---- The US public is stuck with the two or three trillion dollar bill and the continued murder and mayhem in the ME so that the Zionist Adventure can prosper at the expense of everyone else involved. The security, wealth, safety and prosperity of hundreds of millions sacrificed for Israel.

  12. Those terrorists have to get into Syria some way.

    Turkey has supported ISIS every step of the way.

    1. As have the Israeli.

      Little wonder the Republican controlled Congress will not authorize the use of force against the Islamic State.

  13. You must have had a "Winning" trip, Deuce.

    Any red-blooded American Man would have "Delayed" his return if he was losing. :)

  14. 18 ISIS elements killed in aerial bombardment in center of Mosul

    ( Nineveh – The Kurdistan Democratic Party announced on Saturday, that 18 fighters of the so-called the Islamic state in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were killed in an aerial bombardment carried out by the international coalition aviation backed by the Peshmerga forces in the center of Mosul city in Nineveh Province (405 km north of Baghdad).

    The Kurdistan Democratic Party’s Spokesman in Mosul Saeed Mamouzini said in a statement received by, “Today, international coalition aviation carried out air strikes on ISIS headquarters in the neighborhoods of al-Quds, Kokgli and al-Karama in the center of Mosul, killing ten ISIS fighters.”

    Mamousini added, “A force from the Peshmerga forces bombed a gathering of ISIS fighters in Bashiqa area (17 km north of Mosul) with artillery, killing eight fighters of the ISIS.”


  15. Replies
    1. Germany was a Democracy.

      Arguably, the most advanced country on earth.

      Home of some of the smartest, most sensible, people on earth.


    Earlier this month, Fox News released a poll showing Ted Cruz leading Donald Trump by four points. The two had a sizable lead over everyone else in the state, and the poll was confirming what others were showing: Cruz had an advantage.

    On Sunday, Fox released another Iowa poll, with substantially different results. Now, Trump is up by 11 points, a 15-point swing in the two weeks between surveys. This poll, too, mirrors the recent trend: Trump has regained the advantage.

    It's still a surprising development. Trump's gained a lot, across the board, while most of his competitors have slipped. Cruz is still over-performing with conservatives and tea partiers (meaning that his support among those groups is 11 and seven points higher than his overall support), but Trump gained 11 and 17 points with those groups over the past two weeks. Cruz's support among the groups fell.


    Iran plans to buy 114 aircraft from the European company Airbus by March, and is looking for other deals, senior Iranian officials said on Sunday as their country emerges from sanctions and international isolation.

    The republic could need 500 new planes over the next three years, lawmaker Mahdi Hashemi, the chairman of the parliament’s development commission, said at Tehran’s first major post-sanctions gathering of global business people.

    The transport minister, Abbas Akhoondi, told journalists Tehran would discuss details with Airbus next week and was also interested in negotiating with the US plane maker Boeing for aircraft.

    Tehran has long said it will need to revamp an ageing fleet, hit by a shortage of parts because of trade bans imposed by Washington and other western powers.

    Its fleet has suffered several fatal crashes in recent years.

    Hashemi said Iran could place an order in the next two months, confirming plans announced earlier this month ahead of a nuclear sanctions deal.

    He also urged international investors and airlines to move quickly into Iran after the lifting of sanctions.

    “Come with your proposals. We would like to have new contracts and serve them immediately and make up for the losses that we suffered from in the past,” Hashemi said.


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    1. Trump is going to win everything.

      Trump is going to be the next President.