“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, April 16, 2017

One week on and still no evidence on sarin gas bombing in Syria by Assad - Jihadis now have a template to further play Trump


Over 100 Killed as Car Bomb Targets Buses Full of Syrian Evacuees

Shi'ites Departing Idlib Province Attacked in Rebel-Held Area

Spending some two years under siege by al-Qaeda and its allied forces in Idlib Province, Shi’ite civilians from the towns of Foua and Kfraya began a mass evacuation as part of the “town swap”  deal, but didn’t get far outside of Idlib before they were attacked in a massive car bombing which killed at least 100 people.

The convoy of buses were heading into government territory, but were targeted with the huge explosion in a rebel-controlled area outside of Aleppo. The attack reportedly killed not only a large number of civilians in the convoy, but between 20 and 30 rebels who were present to “guard” the convoy.

The whole population transfer is apparently in limbo after the blast, with rebels accusing the government of “violating” the deal by not sending enough security to escort the rebel fighters and their families out of the towns near Lebanon which are being evacuated on the other side of the deal. As a result, the rebels had stopped the Shi’ite convoy at the time of the attack.

This means that in the wake of the attack, and its huge casualties, thousands of Shi’ites are basically stranded in rebel-held territory not particularly far from the towns they were forced to abandon, and while the Red Crescent is providing food while they wait, many say they’ve been gone for some 30 hours, and have no access to toilets.

Despite this being a bombing attack on pro-government Shi’ites in a rebel-held area, the rebels were quick to blame the Syrian military for the attacks, calling for international intervention against them .



Death toll from Aleppo bomb attack at least 112: Observatory

The death toll from a bomb blast on a crowded Syrian bus convoy outside Aleppo reached at least 112 people, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said on Sunday.
Syrian rescue workers the Civil Defence said that they had carted away at least 100 bodies from the site of Saturday's blast, which hit buses carrying Shi'ite residents as they waited to cross from rebel into government territory in an evacuation deal between warring sides.

The British-based Observatory said the number was expected to rise.

Those killed were mostly residents of the villages of al-Foua and Kefraya in Idlib province, but included rebel fighters guarding the convoy, the Observatory said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which pro-Damascus media said was carried out by a suicide car bomber.

The convoy was carrying at least 5,000 people including civilians and several hundred pro-government fighters, who were granted safe passage out of the two Shi'ite villages which are besieged by rebels.

Under the evacuation deal, more than 2,000 people including rebel fighters were granted safe passage out of Madaya, a town near Damascus besieged by government forces and their allies.

That convoy was waiting at a bus garage in a government-held area on Aleppo's outskirts, a few miles from where the attack took place. Madaya evacuees said they heard the blast.

(Reporting by John Davison; Editing by Alison Williams)



  1. Exposure to smoke munitions that create phosphine gas when in contact with moisture can cause neurological symptoms that mimic those of sarin, because they both damage the body’s ability to produce the enzyme cholinesterase.

    Both the Syrian Army and the Al-Nusra Front fighters in the Aleppo area, moreover, had abundant stocks of phosphine-producing smoke munitions in 2013, as was documented by German journalist Alfred Hackensberger of Die Welt. Furthermore, both ISIS (also known as Daesh) and al-Qaeda in Aleppo have been reported to have access to phosphine-based weapons.

    These phosphine-producing munitions can be lethal if humans are exposed in confined space, and they have the smell of garlic or rotting food. That is precisely the smell that was reported by eyewitnesses in Khan Seikhoun. Sarin, on the other hand, is normally odorless.

    Gareth Porter, an investigative historian and journalist specializing in US national security policy, received the UK-based Gellhorn Prize for journalism for 2011 for articles on the U.S. war in Afghanistan. His new book is Manufactured Crisis: the Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. He can be contacted at


    US Sending Troops to Somalia; First Time In 24 Years
    AFRICOM Says Deployment Is a 'Training Operation'


    The “Mother of All Bombs” (MOAB) by US forces against eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province was done without approval from President Trump, Pentagon officials insist, saying that they believe they didn’t need any such approval.

    Cost to US taxpayers for the bomb $ 18,000,000


    Donald Trump repeated his call to "drain the swamp," knocking the "failed elites in Washington" for being wrong about everything from foreign policy to health care.

    "The people opposing us are the same people — and think of this — who’ve wasted $6 trillion on wars in the Middle East — we could have rebuilt our country twice — that have produced only more terrorism, more death, and more suffering – imagine if that money had been spent at home," Trump said at a Oct. 26 rally in Charlotte, N.C.

    "We’ve spent $6 trillion, lost thousands of lives," Trump said. "You could say hundreds of thousands of lives, because look at the other side also."

    1. Those are LA Times "Dollars:"

      "The US's Massive Ordnance Air Blast bomb does not cost $314 million, or $16 million, but $170,000 a unit, the US Air Force told Business Insider on Friday.

      The weapon, whose acronym inspired the nickname "Mother of All Bombs," was produced by the Air Force, not by a third party like Lockheed or Boeing, "so we don't have a standard procurement cost associated with them," an Air Force official said.

      The $170,000 figure makes sense considering a general-purpose 1,000-pound MK-83 costs about $12,000. The MOAB simply features more high explosives and larger fins to direct the GPS-guided munition."

  4. Trump doesn't know shit about the real US military because he wasn't there. Trump did his marching in Wayne Pennsylvania wearing a toy soldier's uniform.

    Among older Baby Boomers, those born before 1955, at least three-quarters have had an immediate family member—sibling, parent, spouse, child—who served in uniform.

    Today, it is a fraction. I can state this, if more members of Congress, business, or media elites had been in uniform or had children in uniform, these wars would not exist.

    Most military actions do not go well. There is a simple test. If the action was well thought out and executed, it is over and done fast. The opposite indicates a FUBAR.

    How long and how many do we have in action this Easter morning 2017? When did they start? When will they finish? How much have they cost to date? What will they cost in the future?

    Has anything remotely close to this idiotic mess happened before? No, it has not.

    Trump is taking a disaster and amping it up to a catastrophe. The odds and past events can come to no other conclusion.

    Those of us who voted against another Clinton are shell shocked by the last 80 days. We were had, taken and reeling from Trump's three card monty. Trump has to be stopped.

    Happy Easter.

  5. Happy Easter !

    The Profound Connection Between Easter and Passover
    It’s not just that the Last Supper was a Passover Seder. Both holidays are
    about the dead rising to new life

    ‘The Last Supper’ by Bartolome Carducho. PHOTO: BRIDGEMAN IMAGES
    By R.R. Reno
    April 14, 2017 8:45 a.m. ET

    Easter stalks Passover. They arrive together every spring, like the
    daffodils and magnolia blossoms. This year, Easter Sunday falls as the
    eight-day Jewish festival nears its end. Over the years, I have come to
    see that Christianity’s most important day recapitulates Passover. Both
    holidays face head-on the daunting power of death—and both announce God’s
    greater power of life.

    In March, my wife, who is Jewish, was on the phone, herding her parents,
    uncles, brothers and cousins. “No, it’s not Tuesday. The first night of
    Passover is on Monday this year.” She made arrangements for the Seder, the
    festive meal with a traditional liturgy that retells the familiar story of
    the Exodus. Emails and texts were exchanged to sort out who would bring
    what, and this past Monday night we sang and recited the age-old prayers
    and set out a cup for Elijah, the harbinger of the messianic era. We
    ended, as always, with the declaration: “Next year in Jerusalem!”

    Now, just a few days later, the holiest days of the year for Christians
    are under way. As the solitary Catholic in my Jewish household, I’m
    planning to head to church on Saturday night for the Easter Vigil—where
    I’ll be celebrating Passover once again.

    In Romance languages, the connection between the Jewish and Christian
    holidays is explicit. The Hebrew word for Passover is Pesach. In French,
    Easter is Paques. In Italian it’s Pasqua. In many other languages, the
    word for Easter is simply a transliteration of the Greek word for Easter,
    Pascha. English is among the exceptions. Our word, Easter, is German in
    origin, coming from the archaic word for new life, which is to say,

    In the New Testament, Passover and Easter are tied together. Jesus enters
    Jerusalem and gathers his disciples to celebrate the Passover meal,
    memorialized by Christians as the Last Supper. Soon, he is arrested, tried
    and executed on the cross, dying just before the beginning of the Jewish
    Sabbath. Then, on Sunday morning, his followers are astounded to find
    their teacher appearing to them as one alive, not dead.

    Some early Christians repeated the sequence exactly, marking Easter on the
    same day as Passover, regardless of the day of the week. Others adopted a
    different kind of rigor, insisting that Easter dawn on a Sunday, as it had
    for Jesus’ disciples. They celebrated Easter on the first Sunday after
    Passover, as we do as well (with rare exceptions). The difference ignited
    fierce debates in the early centuries of the Church. But all agreed on the
    central point: The lunar cycle that sets the date for Passover also
    determines Easter.

    1. The relation between Passover and Easter runs deeper still. Because I’m
      married to a Jewish woman who decided that having a Christian husband was
      a reason to become more Jewish, not less, I’ve been repeating the biblical
      pattern for more than 30 years. This has led me to see that Easter doesn’t
      just share the same week with Passover. They are about the same thing: In
      both, the dead rise to new life.

      This profound connection is not evident to most Christians. Our
      understanding of Passover emphasizes the blood of the Passover lamb, which
      Moses commands the Israelites to put on their door frames so that the
      Angel of Death, sent to kill the firstborn of Egypt, will “pass over”
      them. This image—the lamb whose blood saves—is taken up in the New
      Testament, especially in the Gospel of John and the Book of Revelation.

      The north apse of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate

      As a consequence, the religious imagination of most Christians connects
      Passover to Good Friday, the day on which we remember the crucifixion and
      death of Jesus. The theological meaning is plain: Jesus himself is the
      Passover lamb, offered as a sacrifice for the whole world.

      Origen, a profoundly influential early Christian thinker, reinforced this
      interpretation. He thought that the Greek word for Passover, pascha,
      stemmed from the word for suffering, paschein, which the New Testament
      uses to describe Jesus’ agonizing death. In medieval paintings, John the
      Baptist is often portrayed pointing up to Jesus on the cross with the
      words of John 1:29 emblazoned: “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away
      the sins of the world.”

    2. It took me many years to realize that my Christian assumptions were almost
      entirely wrong. Blood and sacrifice are integral to the meaning of Jesus’
      death, to be sure. But that turns out to have very little to do with the
      way in which Jews actually celebrate Passover.

      The reason has to do with history. During the time of Christ, Jews came
      from the surrounding provinces to bring lambs to the Temple in Jerusalem
      for the Passover sacrifice. It was at this time that Jesus shared a
      sacrificial meal with his disciples. Not long after the time of Jesus,
      however, a Jewish political uprising prompted the Romans to take the
      drastic measure of destroying the Temple in Jerusalem and consecrating the
      city to their own gods.

      This forced a revision of Passover. With no Temple, sacrificing lambs was
      not possible. The Jewish authorities in ancient times refocused the
      Passover celebration on the shared meal. The result is the Seder, the set
      order of prayer and scripted retelling of the Exodus story that Jews now

      The blood of the lamb is mentioned in the Passover Seder, but only in
      passing. What comes to the fore instead is the obligation to recall what
      God has done for his people: “We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the
      Lord, our God, took us out from there with a strong hand and an
      outstretched arm.”

      Put in Christian terms: The Passover Seder recalls and celebrates the
      resurrection of the people of Israel.

      Today we tend to think of slavery strictly as an injustice, which of
      course it is, and some modern Seders treat the Passover as the triumph of
      justice over oppression. But this is not the traditional view. In the
      ancient world, slavery was not just a hardship for individuals but a kind
      of communal death. An enslaved nation can survive for a time, perhaps, but
      they have no future. A people in bondage is slowly crushed and


    3. At Passover Seders, Jews eat unleavened matzah and spill out drops of wine
      in symbolic memory of the biblical 10 plagues. PHOTO: DPA/ASSOCIATED PRESS

      The notion of slavery as a form of death is accentuated in the story told
      in the Passover Seder. The small clan descended from Abraham settles in
      Egypt. They are fruitful and multiply, becoming numerous and mighty. The
      glow of life in the people of Israel arouses Egyptian resentment. Set upon
      and subjugated, they are ground down by hard labor and harsh oppression.
      But the descendants of Abraham call out to God—and he raises them up out
      of slavery, parts the Red Sea, and delivers them from Pharaoh’s murderous

      Judaism is realistic. Passover does not promote a dreamy optimism or
      cheery confidence that God will keep everything neat and nice. Even the
      chosen people are vulnerable to oppression and murderous hatred. There’s
      room in Passover for Auschwitz.

      The New Testament makes a bold promise. Whoever believes in Jesus shall
      not perish but will have eternal life. But Christianity also takes an
      honest approach, which makes believers take a long, hard look at death.
      The central symbol of Christianity, the cross, evokes a brutal execution.
      For Catholics, the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter is the only day
      of the year on which the Eucharist, the power of eternal life, is not
      provided. On that day we must endure death’s awful emptiness, in a
      spiritual way, just as, sooner or later, we must feel death’s terrible
      blows in brutal, literal ways.

      It is a mistake to think that Christian faith somehow denies or evades the
      reality of death. In a church in Isenheim, Germany, there is an early
      16th-century altarpiece by Matthias Grünewald. It depicts Jesus dead on
      the cross, his fingers gruesomely contorted in final agony. For
      Christians, the crucified Messiah is the dead soldier, half buried in mud,
      his face contorted and body torn. He is amid the bodies uncovered in mass

      The early Christians did not celebrate Easter with sunrise services. They
      gathered in the deepest darkness, long before dawn, for the Easter Vigil,
      which has been restored in many churches, including the Catholic Church.
      In the Vigil, Christians are like the Israelites fleeing with Pharaoh’s
      army. Easter begins in a night-darkened church. We are in the valley of
      the shadow of death.

    4. In the story of Exodus, the Israelites make it through the split waters of
      the Red Sea to dry land. But they are not simply safe. God releases the
      waters, and Pharaoh’s army is destroyed.


      The Profound Connection Between Easter and Passover April 14, 2017
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      So it is at the Easter Vigil. A chant known as the Exultet announces that
      the darkness shall not triumph. “Be glad, let earth be glad, as glory
      floods her.” With a haunting refrain, the ancient song links Passover to
      Easter: “This is the night,” we are told, “when once you led our
      forbearers, Israel’s children, from slavery in Egypt and made them pass
      dry-shod through the Red Sea.” And “this is the night when Christ broke
      the prison-bars of death and rose victorious from the underworld.”

      Passover does not teach Jews that oppression is not real and suffering not
      bitter. The lesson is more powerful: God favors the people of Israel with
      his Torah, and its sweetness outweighs every setback, evil and disaster.

      Nor, then, is Easter a simple springtime celebration of life. The
      resurrection of Jesus reveals something more urgent and shocking: God
      favors the sons of Adam with a triumphant love in the person of Jesus, the
      Christ. And that love does not fend off or parry death, but destroys it,
      just as light overcomes darkness.

      We live within a mortal frame, which means that Jews and Christians do not
      experience God’s triumph over suffering and death, at least not directly.
      Instead, we perform it, entering into its reality in a partial but
      authentic way.

      For Jews, there is a prayer said for the dead, the Mourner’s Kaddish. It’s
      an astounding statement, for it does not mention death. It’s an arrogant
      refusal to acknowledge death’s claim upon our anguished souls, extolling
      instead the power and goodness of God. At the grave of someone he loves, a
      Jew’s head may be bowed with grief, but as he recites the Mourner’s
      Kaddish, his prayer looks joyfully upward. He does not deny psychological
      realities. Death brings terrible suffering. It oppresses us. But his
      prayer denies those realities a final say: God has raised up Israel.

      A Catholic funeral enacts the same pattern with equal intensity. Most
      religions regard death as profane and keep it far from their sacred
      sanctuaries. Christians, by contrast, allow death to come into their

      At a Catholic funeral, the casket sits in the middle of the church. The
      priest undertakes the prayers and rites that make Christ present, and the
      mourners come forward to receive the Eucharist, the body of Christ and
      bread of life. It’s a bold defiance. To receive the Eucharist only a few
      feet from a dead body puts a stick in death’s eye. This does not mean
      ignoring the tears and anguish that death brings, but it denies them the
      final say: Christ has been raised from the dead.

      There is an ancient sermon about Easter by an unknown preacher. It
      recounts the traditional image of the crucified Jesus descending to Hell
      to break the chains that hold the dead in bondage. He seeks Adam and Eve,
      the original man and woman. Finding them in the deepest tomb, he smashes
      down the prison door. He shakes them awake with these words: “You were not
      made for death!”

      We were not made for death. The Almighty delivers his people. He unlocks
      the prison of darkness and shatters the power of death. This is the
      meaning of Easter, the Christian Passover.

      Mr. Reno is the editor of the religious journal First Things. He was
      formerly a professor of theology and ethics at Creighton University.

      Wall Street Journal

      Happy Passover !

  6. .


    Trump doesn't know shit about the real US military because he wasn't there.

    Trump doesn't know shit about anything except possibly real estate development.


    Trump (after talking to Xi Zingpin at Mar-a-lago): "“After listening for 10 minutes, I realized it’s not so easy,”

    Observations from The Daily Beast:

    1. Trump thought China could fix North Korea until the Chinese president politely informed him that North Korea is in fact complicated.

    2, Trump seems to have required the leader of China to explain basic facts to him that he could have Googled, or at least asked one of the many US government North Korea experts about.

    3. Trump came to a profound realization about one of the most dangerous conflicts on earth after a 10-minute conversation.

    4. Trump is getting his information about East Asian affairs from the leader of America’s largest rival in the region.


    After the fiasco that was the AHCA, Trump said, "Nobody knew health care could be so complicated."

    Well, that's not entirely true, Mr. President. Everyone knew it with the possible exception


    The Trump administration was indicating that the Assad administration was one it could work with in the fight against ISIS. Well, right up to the point where Trump saw video of children suffering from a chemical agent attack in Idlib AND the news media started asking him what he was going to do about it.

    After one video, Trump changes his views on Syria and Assad. Or did he?

    Trump (and the gang who couldn't shoot straight, Tillerson, Haley, Spicer, Mattis) have spent the last week sending mixed messages on Syria/Assad...

    Assad has to go...
    Our policy regarding Assad hasn't changed...
    There's no possibly solution to the Syrian conflict that involves Assad...
    Our policy remains the same...

    These are just recent examples.

    Trump is clueless. Everything he does is ad hoc. All his moves are driven by the media and perceptions. Since the missile attack on the Syrian airstrip received positive press and political support, you can expect to see more of them. Had something gone wrong or the press coverage been bad, Trump would have blamed the 'generals' as he did on the Yemen raid.

    Another example of this was how he handled question on the MOAB drop on Afghanistan. When asked if he authorized the drop, he said he allows his generals to make those decisions. Of course, Trump authorized it but his public statement allows him to bask in any glory yet evade responsibility if anything goes wrong.

    Right now, the country is on cruise control but you never know when its going to veer off course.


    1. Trump doesn't know shit about anything except possibly real estate development.

      Give the man a break, jeez.

      He did know how to become President on his first try at elective office.

    2. The Easter Bunny's a Dick!

  7. What would Umberto say ?

    April 16, 2017
    Anti-Trump protesters beat apparent Trump supporter
    By Rick Moran

    Black clad thugs, many wearing hoods and masks, catch up to a Trump supporter at a rally in Berkeley yesterday and put a beating on him.

    It appears that anti-Trump protesters - many clad in anarchist black - initiated much of the violence.

    Needless to say, the press portrayed the riot a little differently.

    "These Trump people are here because they want to start things," Jeff Vernon of Berkeley said.

    But Stephanie Edd, also of Berkeley, viewed the protest as an attempt "to co-opt the history of free speech."

    By midday, Allston Way between Milvia Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way was blocked, as protesters moved from the park to the streets, followed closely by officers. Police urged residents to avoid the area of Center and Miliva streets. Soon the warning extended to include Shattuck Avenue and Center Street.

    NBC Bay Area's SkyRanger captured people burning flags — with one man posing for a selfie beside the torched cloth — and others punching each other and using helmets and skateboards as weapons. Demonstrators were also seen tipping over a garbage can and igniting its contents.

    An investigation into Saturday's violence is ongoing. Police are asking the public to submit photos and video of the protests to help them identify additional suspects.

    The anarchists are professional rioters while the Trump supporters are ordinary Americans. Who do you believe was responsible for most of the violence?


  8. ‘Just Because You Suck Black D*ck Doesn’t Mean You’re Not Racist’ Hits Anti-Blackness Hard

    UC Santa Barbara’s Pride Week hosted an event centered on combatting anti-blackness in the LGBTQ community this past Wednesday in the Student Resource Building.

    I'm hot for the girl in the pink shirt:

  9. Since Trump doesn't know shit, this is where we must turn to Quirk to tell us exactly what to do -

    April 16, 2017
    Dateline South Korea: What's Trump's Endgame Here?
    By Daren Jonescu

    Your opportunity to strut your stuff, Quirk.

    The confused turn their eyes to you.

    1. Don't forget Administration after Administration has 'negotiated' with the Kims for 20 years or more to no good result whatsoever.

      You must now tell us what to do.

      Cause you know some shit.

  10. Many, many Syrian children have just been killed, by ISIS, and ...

    Not a word written in condemnation by Robert "Draft Dodger" Peterson.

    No calls for "Carpet Bombing" those anti-Assad forces which killed those Syrian children.
    No calls for US intervention against the killers of those murderers of Syria children

    Your hypocrisy is legend, Robert "Draft Dodge" Peterson.

    1. Happy Easter there, Dead Beat Dad !

      You know my position.....I called for the creation of safe zones and eventually dividing the god awful place up long ago, before the Russians arrived, and was called a warmonger for the thought by SMIRK'n'QUIRK.

      So, since Quirk knows some shit, I turn to him, on this, and the Korean situation too.

      You obviously don't know shit, DBD, cause you predicted ISIS would be gone from Iraq so long ago the memory gags thinking of it.

      So there's no sense turning to you on anything.

      You made a total fool of yourself.

      Besides you are a liar, and need psychological help, as nearly all here recommended.

      Ciao (later)

  11. Would Quirk give this his imprimatur ?

    April 16, 2017
    The Deal of the Century
    By Ted Belman

    There is no end in sight for the Syrian War because both sides have a lot of fight left in them. This is due in part to the fact that losing is not an option for either and both sides are being financed by oil money.

    What started as a civil war in 2011 quickly escalated in a sectarian war between Shiites, (Iran, Alawite Syria, and Hizb'allah) and local Sunnis aided and abetted by Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states and from time to time Turkey. Almost from the start, President Obama backed the ouster of Assad by Turkey and some Gulf states with the intention of installing the Muslim Brotherhood to run it just as he installed the Muslim Brotherhood to run Egypt.

    Victory was almost within the Sunni grasp until Russia entered the fray on the side of the Shiites and turned the tables. At some point along the way, Obama, in pursuit of the Iran Deal, backed away from original plans to oust Assad. This deal greatly strengthened Iran by giving it $150 billion and a license for seeking hegemony.

    This conflict between Shiites and Sunnis dates back to a dispute over succession to Muhammad as a caliph of the Islamic community upon his death in 632. The dispute intensified greatly after the Battle of Karbala, in which Hussein ibn Ali and his household were killed by the ruling Umayyad caliph Yazid I, and the outcry for revenge divided the early Islamic community.

    Today at least 85% of the 1.5 billion Muslims are Sunni, but the Shiites are concentrated in Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, and Bahrain.

    The eight-year Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between Iran and Iraq lasting from 22 September 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, to August 1988. The war was motivated by fears that the Iranian Revolution in 1979 would inspire insurgency among Iraq's long-suppressed Shi'ite majority, as well as Iraq's desire to replace Iran as the dominant Gulf state.

    In 2003 President Bush removed Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq and attempted to transform Iraq into a democracy. The end result was that the majority Shiites were put in power and Iranian influence in Iraq dramatically escalated. This action, in effect removed the most important bulwark to Iran’s hegemonic ambitions.

    In contrast the Syrian War is in its sixth year.

    The turmoil in Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq can rightly find its roots in the Sykes-Picot agreement which Britain, France, and Russia signed in 1916 believing that they would defeat the Ottoman empire in WW I. Essentially, in it, they divided up the spoils into three spheres of influence, one for each of them. When Russia withdrew from the war, it were no longer part of the agreement.

    1. Due to the hue and cry that followed when this agreement became public, Sykes-Picot morphed into the division of the Ottoman Empire into Mandates, namely the Palestine, Syria, and Iraq mandates, in which the ultimate goal was to usher in independence for the inhabitants of each area. No regard was held for the Shiite/Sunni divide. And thus we have sectarian conflict in Syria and Iraq.

      Although Palestine was originally intended by the mandate to be a Jewish state, Britain thwarted this goal by restricting Jewish immigration and encouraging Muslim immigration. And thus we have sectarian conflict in Israel. This conflict has resulted in many wars and has defied resolution.

      For six years now the conflict in Syria and Iraq has defied resolution because there are no good choices.

      Frank Gaffney Jr., in a recent interview in which the removal of Assad was the topic, said:

      “The choices, unfortunately, seem to be more of the same. At best, it’s an Assad-Lite, supported by the Russians, supported presumably by the Iranians, supported by Hezbollah. Or, alternatively, it’s sharia supremacists of the Sunni stripe supported by the Saudis, supported by the Turks, supported by perhaps al-Qaeda or the Islamic State, or simply the Muslim Brotherhood. All very bad choices, in my judgment.”

      He did, however, support the creation of an independent Kurdistan in both Syria and Iraq.

      “I personally think the President of the United States ought to be thinking about a Kurdistan in at least the parts of Syria – and maybe even Iraq or Iran for that matter – that are Kurdish, that have the opportunity or the basis for being safe havens for minorities that are currently very much at risk and are being helped by the Kurds.”

      But what to do with the Sunni populated territories.

      He worried that Trump would abandon his goal of defeating radical Islamic terrorism and its ideology.

      “I think the president is now being buffeted by individuals who have come in who apparently do not agree with his priority of defeating radical Islamic terrorism, as he calls it, and who have, instead, have the view that we should align ourselves with people who are the prime movers behind radical Islamic terrorism. That would include, by the way, the Saudis. It would include the Turks. It would include the Qataris and others in the region. I think that’s a grave concern.”

      I share his concerns but have some suggestions to make.

      At the beginning of the Syrian War, Turkey had visions of taking over Syria and recreating the Ottoman Empire. Why not play into that?

      Let’s say, President Trump, the master of the deal, approaches Turkey with the following deal:

      Turn from your Islamist drift to a 'neo-Ottoman jihad state' and reestablish the modern, secular nation-state of Turkey based on the reforms of Kemal Ataturk instituted in 1923.

      Allow the secession of southern Turkey where 10 million Kurds live so they can have their independence and join the New Kurdistan if they so choose.

      In return, the U.S. will assist you to take over the Sunni areas of Syria and Iraq and to annex them if you so wish.

      That would leave Alawite Syria as a state in which Russia could maintain their port and airfield.

      What’s not to like? Turkey would get rid of a decades long insurgency and a financial liability and would gain far more territory than it gave up. Russia would keep what matters to them. The Alawites would have their own state and Assad would remain in power there. Israel would share a border with expanded Turkey with whom they have normal diplomatic ties. The Kurds would finally have a state of their own with a population at least double that of Israel. America would have pro-American allies Israel and Kurdistan as bookends to the problematic areas.

      And finally, Trump would have brokered the deal of the century.



  13. Hawaii panel asks state to prepare for North Korea attack

    I can't sleep!