Midnight in Damascus

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MIDNIGHT IN DAMASCUS

Imagine you are part of a hardcore, heavily weaponized Islamist outfit in Syria.

You would have had until noon this Friday to contact the US and/or Russia military and win a prize; be part of a “cessation of hostilities,” ersatz “ceasefire” that does not apply to ISIS/ISIL/Daesh and Jabhat al-Nusra, a.k.a. al-Qaeda in Syria, as well as assorted remnants of the former Free Syrian Army (FSA) who are for all practical purposes embedded with al-Nusra.Compounding the drama, as background noise you have US Secretary of State John Kerry bluffing that Plan B is the partition of Syria anyway. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov once again had to call for order in the court.

So what do you do? You’re a Washington-approved “moderate rebel”. So you re-label yourself as FSA. Will you fool the task force set up by the US and Russia — hotline included — to monitor the “ceasefire”? Well, at least you’ve got a shot. The “ceasefire” mostly applies to the Syrian Arab Army (SAA), unspecified “moderate rebels” and the Syrian Kurds. Everyone must de-weaponize by midnight this Friday.

If you’ve skipped the deadline, you may be in serious trouble. Because for the Russians, that qualifies you as an ally of Salafi-jihadis. You will be bombed to smithereens. And there’s nothing Uncle Sam can do to save you.

This positively Dadaist development is what passes for a road map to peace in Syria — even though odds are on Washington and Moscow will be seeing red on virtually every noon and cranny of it.

What this might spell out though goes way beyond Syria; it’s all about the White House, the Pentagon and NATO’s spectacular demise as exceptionalist arbiters and executioners — using Shock and Awe, R2P (responsibility to protect) or straight-up regime change — of geopolitical tangles.

Or is it?

Position of Syrian army at village of Salma and city of Zabadani
© Sputnik/ Michael Alaeddin

A hefty case can be made whether the “ceasefire” benefits Damascus and Moscow — considering the “4+1” (Russia, Syria, Iran, Iraq plus Hezbollah) has been heavily on the offense. The “ceasefire” may certainly benefit Washington if the hidden agenda — to re-weaponize gaggles of “moderate rebels” — still applies. After all Pentagon supremo Ash “Empire of Whining” Carter, Marine General Joseph Dunford and CIA Director John Brennan are terminal Russophobes who will never admit defeat.The vague terms of the “cessation of hostilities” do not explicity specify that Washington, London and other members of the US-led-from-behind “coalition” should stop bombing Syrian territory. And there’s nothing about suicide bombs and chemical weapons routinely used by any outfit, from ISIS/ISIL/Daesh to “moderate rebels”, against the civilian Syrian population.

So there’s got to be some heavy-duty horse-trading between Washington and Moscow behind all the shadowplay. And none of it has leaked, at least not yet.

Daddy Stole My Invasion

Meanwhile, the much-ballyhooed joint invasion of Syria by Turkey and Saudi Arabia is not going to happen because His Masters’ Voice vetoed it — as Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was forced to explain. He essentially admitted that the invasion would need the agreement of all members of the US-led-from-behind coalition fighting ISIS/ISIL/Daesh. Unfortunately, they are scared to death of being decimated by the Russian Air Force. So they might as well cozily revert to the “cessation of hostilities” charade.

On what really counts — the Syrian theatre of war — the most pressing issue is whether the SAA will finally be able to control Aleppo and environs, continue to rule in Latakia, and manage to configure Idlib as a Saudi remote-controlled Army of Conquest enclave cut off from almost all sides and depending solely on Ankara, which for its part won’t dare a face-to-face with the Russian Air Force.

It’s no wonder Turkey’s Sultan Erdogan fears this ceasefire business like the plague. Because he’s got nothing; at best a vague promise, extorted by Team Obama, that Syrian Kurds won’t keep advancing to smash either ISIS/ISIL/Daesh along the border, or pockets of al-Qaeda in Syria.In return, Ankara shall desist from its Syrian invasion and that dream of a 10 km “safe zone” inside Syrian territory to keep away the Kurds and facilitate the re-weaponizing of its Islamist proxies. Ankara’s favorite Jabhat al-Nusra, by the way, remains active north of Aleppo, and in the Turkmen regions of Latakia and Azaz (in the Turkish-Syrian border).

What Team Obama seems to have finally understood — and “seems” is the operative word — is that neither ISIS/ISIL/Daesh nor al-Nusra could ever “unify” Syria; assuming 60% of Syria’s population is Sunni, what matters is that over half are secular and do support Damascus against all those Turk/Saudi-supported Salafi-jihadi crazies.

Will this all be enough to assure the success of the “cessation of hostilities” charade? Hardly. Keep calm and carry on (watching). Plan B remains Return of the Living Dead material.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do notnecessarily reflect the official position of UNRULY HEARTS.

 

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Tags:
cessation of hostilities, forecast, military, ceasefire, Daesh, United States, Damascus, Russia, Syria

BERNIE SANDERS, THE EARLY YEARS

 

 

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“Everybody knows what’s happening — who wants to know,” Bernie Sanders wrote in June 1972 in Movement, an irregular Liberty Union Party newsletter he edited. “A handful of people own almost everything … and almost everybody owns nothing. A handful of people make the decisions and the vast majority of people have virtually no control over their lives.” Dating all the way back to the 1960s and ‘70s in Vermont, a formative time for Sanders, the message of the surging socialist presidential candidate has been startling consistent. “The rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer, and the vast majority in the middle are having a harder and harder time,” he said — in 1974, and ever since.

Above, 1963: Economic justice has been the central focus of Sanders’ 40-plus-year political career—as a young activist at the University of Chicago, though, Sanders agitated more for racial equality. In 1963 he was arrested during a demonstration protesting the city’s segregated schools. He also traveled to Washington—his first time in D.C.—to hear Martin Luther King speak at the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom.

The Washington Post

Bernie Sanders has led Hillary Clinton in this major national poll nearly all month

 

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, acknowledges the cheering crowd after a rally Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Henderson, Nev. The Democratic presidential candidate has preferred rabble-rousing to the schmoozing required to get bills passed. So it’s not surprising that his 25-year congressional career is defined by what he’s opposed _ big banks, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, tax cuts for the wealthy _ rather than what he’s accomplished. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., center, acknowledges the cheering crowd after a rally Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, in Henderson, Nev. The Democratic presidential candidate has preferred rabble-rousing to the schmoozing required to get bills passed. So it’s not surprising that his 25-year congressional career is defined by what he’s opposed _ big banks, the Iraq War, the Patriot Act, tax cuts for the wealthy _ rather than what he’s accomplished. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Since Iowa, Sanders has overtaken Clinton for the majority of the month in the Reuters daily tracking poll

Bernie Sanders finds himself in a familiar place once again. Far away from home on the campaign trail in South Carolina and Missouri on Wednesday, Sanders is once again fighting off a rush of pundits and political talkers looking to write off his presidential campaign after an upset in Nevada last weekend — but according to one new national poll, Sanders has only been growing more popular all month.

“What I would ask of the media,” Sanders said during a press conference in South Carolina Wednesday morning, “is not to look at it state-by-state.”

“We are going to win some states, we are going to lose some states,” Sanders asserted. “Let’s kind of look at the longterm thing … look at the polls, and state-by-state you know what you are seeing, the gaps are narrowing.”

“Clinton is still in the lead, but her lead is narrowing,” Sanders said, arguing his campaign is still on the “path to victory.”

And new national poll from Reuters showing Sanders leading Hillary Clinton by 6 points among Democrats — his largest lead of the primary so far — backs him up.

According to the poll of 998 voters from across the country over five days released on Tuesday, Sanders has the support of 41.7 percent of Democrats compared to Clinton’s 35.5 percent.  A Reuters/ISPOS poll conducted earlier this month, immediately following the Iowa caucus, found Sanders had jumped from 30 percent support at the beginning of the year to 43 percent support, all but vanquishing Clinton’s commanding lead. Reuters also features a daily tracking feature which illustrates that Sanders has led Clinton nationally for a majority of days in February.

And it isn’t just Reuters that shows Sanders with a national edge over Clinton. A Quinnipiac national poll released last week showed Sanders two points ahead of Clinton, as did a Fox News poll released on Friday. In fact, according to RealClearPolitics polling averages, Sanders is gaining ground on Clinton at roughly the same pace Barack Obama did in 2008 as the then Illinois senator was leading Clinton nationally by only 3 points between February 22 and February 24, 2008.

 

Although the next Democratic showdown does not look promising for the Sanders campaign, the Vermont senator looks to blunt any sense of momentum Clinton may have after a win in both Nevada and South Carolina by picking off crucial Super Tuesday states. Sanders has been steadily gaining ground in Georgia and Texas, which award approximately 20 percent of total delegates between the two of them.

In the critical swing state of Colorado, where Sanders once trailed Hillary Clinton by as much as 28 points prior to the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary, Sanders is now ahead of Clinton by 6 points, according to one poll. In Massachusetts, Sanders is leading Clinton by 7 points, according to a Public Policy Poll poll conducted between February 14 and February 16. And the same PPP poll that had Sanders ahead in Massachusetts also shows Sanders with an insurmountable 76-point lead in his home state of Vermont.
 Still, Sanders has some serious work to do in states with large black electorates — Clinton is leading in 10 of those 12 early primary states surveyed by PPP.