Syria

The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: Syria: Turks Invade, US Occupy

While the American media is busy with #Memogate, the already complex situation in Syria has become even more confusing. It seems like everyday a “US-backed”, “Pro-Syrian” or Russian force is attackedbombed or almost killed by some faction within Syria, almost setting off an international incident.

I thought it would be important to follow the ever-changing situation there, because one day it will be front page news on CNN, and when that day comes they won’t tell you the whole story.

Places like Steemit are filled with worthy content on the subject, from @saltycat@lordoftruth@haseeb96, to @clarityofsignal and many others, this quick write-up will be more of a resource center than a long-winded piece on the recent events. There is also this amazing real-time map of the conflict I’ve been used to follow the war day by day, along with Southfrontover on Youtube, which @clarityofsignal was a part of previously.

The latest stage in the conflict is the invasion of Turkish troops of Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria. Specifically, the region of Afrin.

President Erdogan of Turkey has declared (past and present) that the Kurds will never control territory west of the Euphrates River. Erdogan has always had issues with the Kurdish population within Turkey, and that doesn’t change when we move south. Erdogan sees the Kurdish YPG in Syria as an extension of his long-time enemy the PKK in Iraq.

Erdogan’s issues with the Kurds may stem from his belief in “Pan-Turkic”, or the idea that all people from Turkish decent should live under a single banner. The man wants Turkey to extend all the way to China, and be a Muslim state.

Since the attempted coup in his country, crackdowns on the disloyal haven’t really stopped. The recent invasion of Syria (fittingly named Operation “Olive Branch”) has only grown those numbers. Critics and protesters of the invasion have been arrested and jailed. The violence has even reached Europe, with a rather intense fight breaking out between Kurds and Turks in a German airport terminal:

Afrin

Operation “Olive Branch” began with the invasion of the northwestern “canton” of Afrin. The Kurdish held region is isolated from the other canton’s under YPG and SDF (Syrian Defense Force) control by a 60 mile area under the control of the FSA (Free Syrian Army) backed by Turkey. Afrin contents no US special forces, and is home to the city of Aleppo. This should be name familiar to everyone not named Gary Johnson.

The Turkish invasion force includes a mix of Turkish army regulars, air power and rebel “shock troops”, some reportedly former ISIS members, evident by the inhumane treatment of civilians and the mutilation of Kurdish female fighters.

The Russians have given the Turks the green light for air strikes over the region, something not unheard of in this conflict: a foreign power having decision making power in a sovereign nation. The weird mix of relationships in Syria makes for an even more complicated situation.

For example, the Russians are allied with Assad, while the US is allied with the Kurds and their own rebels. Separately, the Turks and the Russians are becoming fast friends over oil and arms deals, but the rebels the Turks are backing see the regime in Damascus as their enemy. Still following?

Manbij & US Policy

Here is where the United States comes in. Manbij is the canton directly east of the 60 mile FSA/Turk controlled region separating Afrin from the rest of YPG territory. Manbij is the home of actual US troops, with the number of US troops rising the more east towards the Iraqi border you go.

Erdogan has warned the United States to leave Manbij immediately, stating that once he is done with Afrin it’s on to Manbij. In the same week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson announced the United States has no plans to leave Syria, citing multiple reasons for the illegal occupation of the eastern part of the country.

The US presence in Syria is completely illegal under international law. The Trump administration has used the AUMF from 9/11 as its excuse for staying in Syria. Opposition to the US staying in Syria has raised the theory that the United States has plans to create an area in Northeastern Syria outside of the control of Assad, using the Kurds and a 30K strong border force manned by the SDF to do so. Much like in Iraq previously, the Kurds are used as simple pawns by the United States (and Israel) to advance its policy. The idea of splintering Syria apart is nothing new, cited in “A Clean Break” and laid out in the Wikileaks documents from the mid-2000s.

Tillerson lists the following reasons for the decision to stay in Syria:

  • Keeping a defeated ISIS from growing again
  • Holding Iranian power in the region in check
  • Eventually overthrow of Assad

The third reason is really a geopolitical move directed at Russia. In simple terms, and this is important:
the United States government has illegally invaded another country to destabilize and overthrow the regime in charge. This is nothing new, but all Americans need to focus and understand that this is out in the open this time around. No discussion in Congress, no UN vote, nothing. While you and I were busy deciding if we trust Devon Nunes, our government just doubled-down in Syria.

The Validation of the Sarin Gas Scandal

Maybe more shocking than the lack of media coverage of the US occupation, is the admission by General Mattis that the United States has NO EVIDENCE that Assad used sarin gas on his own people. Fittingly, this story broke in the Washington Post, the same rag that pushed the sarin narrative dating back to 2013.

This admission should end all support for the US presence in Syria, but the American people are completely distracted at the moment.

What it does do is validate the great reporting work of the late-great Robert ParrySeymour HershPhil GiraldiAntiwar.com, and tons of other true journalists who’s credibility was questioned by the complicit mainstream media.

What this all means for the future of the geopolitical chessmatch in Syria is yet to be seen, but in this week’s episode I give my thoughts.

Content

This episode can be found on here, with the full archive on Podomatic and ITunes.

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The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: Biblical Proporations

Sinai

This episode is focused mostly on the recent attack on a Sufi Islamic mosque in the Egyptian village of Biral-Abud. The village is located on the Sinai Peninsula, an area of Egypt that the central government in Cairo has little control over. What has grown in place of the military dictatorship Sinai has been Al Qeada, and more recently ISIS.

This attack was carried out by an regional ISIS cell which the newspapers call “Sinai Province”. Lead by Muhammad al-Iswai, this group has been expanding their control over the northern part of the Sinai. This is the area closest to the Gaza Strip, and of course Israel. An attack this one, or the more shocking downing of a Russian jetliner, definitely gets the attention of Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States.

It is important to remember the Sinai Peninsula borders the Red Sea, which has a large tourism economy. The eastern coast of the Suez Canal also sits in on the Peninsula. An unstable Sinai is an international issue. Since Al Qeada began operating in the region in 2011, gas pipelines, the Canal and US troops have been in danger of attacks by Al Qeada and now ISIS.

Because of the disfranchisement of the Bedouin tribes of the Sinai, Cairo is dealing with a situation much like the tribal areas of Iraq or Afghanistan. Tribal leadership is the law of the land, and tribes either cooperate with the extremist groups or they fight them. The Sinai is no different. Stories of violence by Bedouin tribes against ISIS men in Sinai is not uncommon.

The reasons we can draw for the attack are many. Sufi Islam was founded in this small village, which groups like ISIS see as a crime against Islam. A more secular reason could be that that the Sufis have been working with the central authorities in Cairo to stop the growth of ISIS. This seems to me to make more sense, with religion has the cover. Further still, ISIS has been moving into tribal gang turf, as the Bedouins are in control of the smuggling of goods in Gaza. Attacks have taken place on both sides over these smuggling operations.

Israel has taken special interest in the Sinai, going back to the wars of the late 60s and 70s. The results of the Camp David Accords of 1979 still hold, as Egypt has to get Israeli approval for troop numbers within the Sinai. Israel has had talks about purchasing the Sinai Penensula from Egypt, helping to bring the right-wing in Israel it’s “fix” for the Gaza situation. The “Greater Gaza” idea is a real one, and includes moving the Arab population from Gaza to the Sinai, or at least expand the Strip south. By expanding Gaza, the hope is for the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem to relocate, giving Israel full open range to settle the West Bank.

The “Greater Gaza” plan has the blessing of the United States. As does closer cooperation with Egypt and Israel. Joining this group more publicly then previously has been Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been working more closely with Israel, and with MSB at the head of the royal family, he is cracking down on the extremist element within his Kingdom. This has to be at the request of Washington and Tel Aviv.

The attack has been used by MSB to help sell his new counter-terrorism group, which includes 40 Muslim countries.

Quick Hits

  • The Pentagon has been caught trying to cover up child abuse by Afghan security forces. Troops had admitted in an Inspector General’s report that they had been ordered to “ignore” the sexual abuse of children by the security forces they train.
  • Also in Afghanistan, the Trump administration has decided to start bombing opium production in the country. Once a crop our troops protected, recently the Taliban has taken over the trade from US allies, making the Pentagon have to make a 180 on heroin production in Afghanistan. This does give the military another excuse to continue the occupation that has gone on for over a decade.
  • Peace talks in Geneva about the war in Syria went “nowhere” this week. With the West still pushing for Assad to step down, there is no chance for any agreement on terms while Assad holds a major upper hand on the ground in Syria.
  • News has surfaced confirming what most already knew, the Pentagon has been lying about the number of troops in Iraq & Syria. The “official” numbers showed 500 troops in Syria, with another 5000 in Iraq. In reality, the numbers in Syria total 1700, with over 9000 in Iraq. This should be bigger news, but with CNN busy “getting” Trump, this story won’t become a scandal.

Content

Episode can be found here…The full episode archive can be found here and on ITunes.

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The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: The U.S.S. Liberty Gets a Win & Other News

In this week’s episode, I discuss a little-known story of murder on the high seas, the next stage in the Syrian conflictIsraeli continuing to go rougeMyanmar becomes the next geopolitical hot-spot, and how I believe the EU is going to break up.

Episode link here.

Full podcast archives can be found here. The podcast can also be downloaded from ITunes on any of the podcast apps you use.

I also want to take a minute to link to a few longer stories I think are worth your time:

Three Years After the War: Gaza Youth Speak Out – by Ramzy Baroud – Ramzy Baroud is editor of the Palestine Chronicle. His latest book is My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press).

The USS Liberty Wins One! – by Philip Giraldi

Syria: Deir Ezzor Siege by Daesh Finally Broken by Syrian Army & Russian Airforce – by Sarah Abed/@sarahabed

I also want to point my listeners on Steemit over to VetsConnect by @stay-in-the-gray. It is an attempt to create a community/pipeline within Steemit for combat veterans to support their fellow vets.

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Episode Preview: The Voluntary Exchange Podcast – Week of 9/3/2017

Good morning!

Tonight (or tomorrow) I will be putting out the next episode of the podcast. A bunch of new stories to discuss this week, along with a major update out of Syria. I hope you will check it out!

This week’s topics include:

Please don’t be shy in leaving interesting topics for me to research in the comment section. Deep dives in geopolitical situations is my guilty pleasure.

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The Voluntary Exchange Podcast: Lords of War

In this episode I discuss the discovery of a gun running operation from The Balkans to Syria and the gangster Bulgarian reporter that uncovered it (and was fired). I touch on Trump and Kim never-ending over who has the bigger missile. Shifting gears, I explain what the president means by “take the gloves off” in Afghanistan by pointing to Mosul, Iraq. A place where that policy has already been implemented. The conflict in Syria is also noted, updating you on the new geopolitical struggle between Russia/Syria and Israel.

Episode link here

Full podcast archives can be found here. The podcast can also be downloaded from ITunes on any of the podcast apps you use.

I also want to take a minute to link to a few longer stories I think are worth your time:

350 Diplomatic Flights Carry Weapons for Terrorists – The story that got Dilyana Gaytandzhieva fired.

End Times in Mosul – Patrick Cockburn details the horror the civilian population of Western Mosul endured under ISIS control and during Mosul’s “liberation” by US-backed Shite forces.

Syrian Man Recounts 33 Days Of Torture At Hands Of CIA-Backed FSA – @sarahabed tells the story of a Syrian man named Shadi’s journey from Syria, back to Syria, only to be kidnapped and tortured by the US-back Free Syrian Army.

Memories of Palestine – @evehuman tell her story of her time in Palestine.

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Funding Al Qaeda: The American Way.

Trump actually ended the CIA program to fund Al Qaeda in Syria in an attempt to overthrow a government. Too bad he “did it for Moscow”.

We finally get a war slowed, and the Washington Post, CNN and their unnamed US officials tell us it’s a bad thing.

I wonder if the regime change policy put into place back in 2001 has anything to do with the Russia narrative.

Business As Usually for the US Empire Under Trump

Now I know it is shocking to read an article title such as this with a Republican in the White House. With all of Trump’s talk of trying not to get bogged down in Middle East conflicts and business of empire, he is doing a terrible job so far.

Save maybe his stance toward Russia, Trump’s administration is continuing to signal that not much is going to change in the next four years.

Starting with his first week in office, Mr. Trump signed off on the raid in Yemen without any intelligence which left civilians dead, including the young daughter of previously slain Anwar Al-Awlaki. This raid was a sloppy mess, producing no usable intel and included even a US casualty; the US Navy Seal Trump attempted to use as a political chess piece at his first speech to Congress.The target of the raid was not even killed, as in early March he released audio taunting the president.

Trump’s next Clinton-like idea came in the form of “safe zones” in Syria. An idea which much like Clinton’s “no-fly zone” would need to be administered over sovereign Syrian terrorist. All to help destabilize the hold the government has on it’s own country there.

Moving to this week, we see the rest of the policy coming into form. I previously wrote about the US airstrikes in Mosul that killed dozens of civilians. Well, that number is now in the HUNDREDS and has been confirmed by coalition forces. Any idea that Trump would be shifting policy in Iraq seemed to go out the window when the man that Trump defers to on all things military, General Mattis, stated that US troops will need to stay in Iraq “for years”. This will not be nation-building Mattis says, but just “stabilization”. We don’t know to pull out like that wimp Obama and create another vacuum for ISIS to fill…

As we move to the African continent, we are introduced to the great military mind US African Commander Gen. Thomas Waldhauser. This genius is petitioning the president to keep US forces in Libya to help combat ISIS, which has a presence of 200 total men in a country the size of the Northeast. This is to help “stabilize” the nation, and also to keep Russia from influencing the government there. Something that is supposed to the job of the United States.

Commander Walhauser also wants expanded presence in Somalia. Doubling down on the Syria-type engagement strategy here. Arming rebels, embedding US Special Forces, airstrikes and drones. This keeps the Marines off the ground and allows for some PR space back home.

As you can see from the laundry list of bad ideas, not much is going to change under Trump. Not that this is shocking to anyone. If anything, it helps to highlight how the empire works. No matter who is sitting in the Oval Office, the policy stays the same.

The only saving grace with Trump was supposed to be his views on Russia and NATO. But even that seems to just be window dressing. Yes, he is annoying our NATO and EU allies with his brash behavior during his meeting with German Chancellor Merkel and his applause for Brexit. But this isn’t keeping his underlings from moving the status quo forward.

Newly confirmed Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley can be found on video threatening sanctions on Russia unless they “give back” Crimea and “leave” Ukraine:

Lets not forget about the rouge-element within Congress in the form of John McCain. Sen. McCain has been cheer-leading for more NATO expansion in eastern Europe, including the welcoming of Montenegro into the alliance. A move that will surely be approved by Congress and the president, no matter what Rand Paul’s feelings are on the subject.

Sen. McCain has become the leading voice for Neo-Conservative, Liberal-Internationalist wing of Washington with Trump in office. Just this Friday, McCain spoke out in Brussels repeating his support for more EU and NATO cooperation in the region. Going as far as to say that the world “cries out for American and European leadership” and that “The New World Order is under enormous strain”. Music to my ears but disaster in McCain’s eyes.

As the Trump presidency continues to unfold, focus at least some of your attention away from the dumpster-fire which is domestic politics, and watch to see if there is any change in the foreign policy of the Empire.

The Reason Attacks Like London Will Not End Anytime Soon – 33 Civilians Dead in US Airstrike in Syira

My reaction to the attack in London today is sure to come with the comments I usually receive: “How can you blame the victim?!” “This is about their religion!” “So you are blaming the US (Britain)!?” Of course, that is not what I am doing. I have become a bit numb to the complete horror of these attacks. I do go directly to the idea of “Blowback” that was introduced by the CIA, and further introduced to me by Ron Paul.

While the mainstream media and extreme left will cover this attack as if it is an irrational attack by an individual from a small minority of an otherwise peaceful culture or religion, the radical viewpoint on this that will come both from the right and left will be to directly attribute this attack to he religion of Islam.

I reject both of these as stated earlier. As I wrote in my previous post, the rational explanation of why these types of attacks take place can be found in the daily news coming out of the Middle East.

I went over to Antiwar.com and read the following article posted today: “US Airstrike Kills 33 Civilians Sheltering in Syrian School“. The article covers the most recent idiotic military operation by the US in Syria. Ready for this? The US airdropped Kurdish fighters into ISIS-controlled Raqqa in an attempt to “liberate” the city. To clear the are for the airdrop, the US first provided airstrikes. One airstrike struck a school housing refugees, killing 33 people according to The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The indifference in which we treat these massacres carried out by our governments lead to the lashing out of the violently oppressed. I won’t get into who the refugee crisis in Europe is directly related to the destruction of the refugees’ countries. A six year old can figure that out on their own.

On the surface this is a tragedy in its own right. But the response and reaction by the US military, media and Westerners alike is the real story. Responsibility is not taken for the airstrike, even denial is in the cards. CNN, FOX or MSNBC won’t touch this story.

Because of this, the everyday Westerner won’t have any reaction. There will be no hashtags or profile picture changes.

They will say that this is “the price of empire” or that this is just what happens in that part of world. Well, I can sadly say that attacks like the one in London is the real price of empire, and it too is just what happens in THAT part of the world.

“At Least She Isn’t Trump”

Watching Trump speak all I kept thinking is his lack of a foreign policy is still less George W Bush-like than Hillary Clinton. The Democrat. Who “sensible” people will vote for. Literally wants to repeat the Iraq War in Syria. Still. Even after ISIS. Still wants to overthrow the secular government. Still wants to surround Russia and place more missiles in Eastern Europe.

Stay Home America 2016

Washington To Arm Syrian Rebels With The Ability To Call In US Air Strikes

Dennis Kucinich in 2013 when interviewed about US aid to Syrian “moderate” rebels: “So what, we’re about to become Al Qaeda’s air force now?” It’s official.

The US is planning to train some 5000 Syrian fighters a year under the plan as part of an effort to strengthen the fractured rebel movement against the government of President Bashar al-Assad and extremist groups.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the initial training would focus on helping rebels hold ground and resist fighters allied with the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Isil).

 The first training sessions are to last between six and eight weeks. The training will focus on helping the rebel forces hold territory and counter Islamic State fightersnot to take on the Syrian army.

 Four to six-man units will be equipped with rugged Toyota Hilux vehicles, GPS and radios so they can identify targets for airstrikes. “The way we envision it, it would be very similar to Kobane,” a senior military official told the newspaper.

So the ousting of Bashar al-Assad from Syria on behalf of Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar and their oil pipeline interests is more important than NOT aiding rebels groups allied with ISIS and Al Qeada (or Al Nusra), or aiding rebel groups that will hand over these weapons to these groups. The vetting process for these “moderate” rebels is a jokes and has been debunked multiple times.

This is treason. The butchers of New York, the planners and cheerleaders of 9/11 are now given the power to call in American B-1B bombers.

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