Some guy in Canada thinks the reports of U.S. nukes being moved to Romania are bogus. Our response? Steffan Watkins' blog post assumes a lot about consistency across the board in American nuclear weapon handling procedures and that any Romanian (or Bulgarian) base used to store U.S. B61 nukes moved out of Incirlik would be permanent, rather than a temporary set up before the bombs are permanently relocated to Germany or other NATO countries. We have no idea why he assumes only the C-17s based at McChord AFB in Washington state are the only units capable of flying B61s around for the U.S. military. - JWS
One could also say, never believe anything you read until you see it at Breitbart.com -- fast becoming the right wing bête noire of good little globalists everywhere, thanks to its co-founder Stephen Bannon signing up as Donald Trump's campaign manager this past week, and Breitbart London's hard hitting coverage of the rapefugee epidemic across Europe. Still, the mainstream media found a couple of bright spots over the weekend in the great hegemonic chest puffing game.
1. The Pentagon informed the press that two F-22 stealthy fighter jets were sent to chase off Syrian Arab Air Force SU-24s bombing a PKK-linked Kurdish faction that was attacking pro-government Arab and Assyrian fighters representing a substantial minority of residents in the town of Hasakah. About these clashes, which have the hallmarks of the U.S. deliberately playing the Kurdish card against the Turks and Syrians, the German blogger at Moon of Alabama has written an excellent piece, "No ISIS There -- Are U.S. Troops in Hasakah 'Advising' Kurds to Attack the Syrian Army?".
After this close encounter between the F22s and Syrian SU24s the Department of Defense let it be known through the usual channels that not only had they contacted the Russians to warn their Syrian clients against bombing anywhere close to U.S. troops, but that next time no warning would be given to the SyAAF if its aircraft were judged to be bombing in close proximity to American forces. Next time according to the U.S. commander responsible for Syria Lt. Gen. Stephen Townshend, the Syrians might be shot down. U.S. media began proclaiming a small American no fly zone over the Kurds in Hasakah. In response, the SAA reportedly moved SA-11 BUK systems, of the same type that the MSM insists shot down Malaysian Airlines flight MH17, closer to the area.
Of course, as the Moon of Alabama headline implies, ISIS is nowhere near Hasakah anymore, and yet the Americans are still there. One wonders, given the Daily Beast and their allies if not handlers at the Atlantic Council's penchant for bashing the Russians for ever bombing any jihadi group but ISIS, why the carving out a Syrian Kurdistan project the U.S. is engaged in isn't receiving more scrutiny. What's clear is that the Kurds fighting ISIS there or who had been cooperating with the SAA in Aleppo are not exactly on the same page ideologically with the rabidly anti-Assad grouping of Kurds in Hasakah. This faction appears to enjoy direct U.S. air support far beyond their numbers.
Meanwhile in Manbij, as the town was completely liberated last week the U.S. backed SDF Kurds allowed a very large convoy of Islamic State terrorists and their Toyota jihad pickups to roll out of the besieged town. While the terrorists' numbers weren't huge, perhaps in the high hundreds to around a thousand, the truce will no doubt be seen in Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran if not Moscow as Uncle Sam permitting the Daeshbags to live and be free to fight another day. To counter such grumbling attributing bad motives to Washington, the UK Guardian helpfully published this article, "ISIS appears to use civilians as human shields to flee Syrian town". But many of the 'hostages' that rolled out of Manbij with Daesh were likely their families or camp followers.
Perhaps not coincidentally this week, one of the SDF spokesmen came out and admitted the U.S. has forbidden his group from maintaining contacts with the Russians as a condition of receiving continued arms, special forces training and salaries for its fighters. So much for the fight against the common enemy in ISIS superceding Cold War 2.0, even at the Pentagon which has been more keen to kill the enemy than the State Department and CIA who've waged a half-assed to fake 'counter-ISIL' campaign every step of the way.
2. While Washington stirs the PKK Kurdish pot and moves towards its Plan B or more likely Plan C endgame of carving up whatever chunks out of Syria it can, even if Russia and Iran keep Assad in power, the media is being consoled with 'don't get cocky you bad Russians' as well as sob stories. In what appeared to be a carefully coordinated PR campaign, a photograph of a Syrian boy allegedly wounded in a Russian or Syria air force bombing raid on the jihadi dominated portion of east Aleppo went viral on social and print media last week. However, the story about how the boy's brother had died as the result of the bomb that wounded him quickly fell apart.
To make matters worse for the 'Assad must go' activists that we know work closely with the British Foreign Ministry's social media/PR agency teams, it turns out the same man who photographed the boy was tight with the Harakat Nour al-Din al-Zenki terrorist group which beheaded a Palestinian boy as an Assad 'spy'. It would appear Washington needs a better breed of social media activist to carry its water in Aleppo, preferably ones who aren't psychopaths who get off on filming child beheadings.
None of this is to deny, as the mainstream media likes to do when it cherry-pick 'debunks' one story that makes Washington or its 'moderate rebel' or 'Ukrainian freedom fighter' clients look bad and pretends it's 'debunked em' all'...that a number in the low thousands of civilians in Syria have been killed by U.S. AND (more recently) Russian bombs since the start of the 'anti-ISIL' air campaign nearly two years ago. It's just that unlike the U.S., Russia does not pretend that civilian deaths are entirely avoidable with the use of 'smart bombs'. Moscow's 'dumb bombs' dropped with using the GLONASS and wind speed calculating SVP-24 system aren't as inaccurate compared to a standard JDAM as the Pentagon's propaganda would imply. Since September 2014, the U.S. concern about civilian casualties has often been used as a cynical cover for bombing empty desert or not bombing enormous ISIS tanker truck convoys into Turkey until the Russians shamed Washington into doing so.
After the Turkish government once again raised the possibility of hosting the Russian Air Force at Incirlik Air Base in an awkward anti-ISIS mission cohabitation with their "sworn partners" the Americans, the media kicked into face saving overdrive. The U.S. Secretary of the Air Force, a lady I had never heard of before this weekend, said it would be "not OK" for the USAF to share its most prized base in the Middle East with Moscow.
On Sunday Yahoo! News and other pages prominently featured the Iranian Defense Minister's complaint that the Russians were implying that the Hamedan base in western Iran was a permanent, rather than temporary installation. No doubt much was lost in translation from Farsi to English and a mild rebuke for the consumption of pro-Western Iranians was turned into a huge split in the Russo-Persian/Eurasian alliance reported by the New York Times (the Izvestia to the U.S. Deep State's Pravda on the Potomac, the Washington Post).
After announcing their TU22 and SU34 long range bombers had returned to Russia from their mission at Hamedan, the Russians continue to leave the option open of further bombing ISIS and other jihadist targets in Syria from Iran. At least, that's according to Joaquin Flores of the Belgrade-based Center for Syncretic Studies:
The Russians know the Arab/Persian phrase, "Dogs bark, but the caravan moves on" very well. Therefore we leave RogueMoney readers with the comments of PolitRussia's Ruslan Ostashko, who speaks in the Russian language video published last week reproduced with a Ft. Russ translation below:
August 21st - Fort Russ News -
From words to deeds: Tehran-Beijing-Moscow Axis changes everything
- Ruslan Ostashko, PolitRussa - translated by J. Arnoldski
"Putin unites China and Iran into an anti-American coalition in the Middle East"
"Over the span of just a few days, the situation in the Middle East in general and Syria in particular has undergone radical changes. What’s more, these are good changes which we can be proud of, ones which many in the Pentagon are losing sleep over. Putin is taking full advantage of the institutional paralysis which is engulfing the United States during election campaigns and is, literally in front of dumbfounded Americans’ eyes, redistributing spheres of influence in one of the key regions of the world."
"Let’s start with the reports that Russia has just set up its own air force base in Iran. Honestly speaking, this isn’t the case. This is not our base. Iran has “loaned” it to us for some time in order for bombing ISIS terrorists and their friends in Syria to be easier. The context of these reports is key. In general, it is no secret to many that Iran has long since closely cooperated with Russia in Syria and opened its airspace for the passage of Russian Caliber rockets, just like its airfields were already being used last year by our transport and bombers for refueling."
"But there is a nuance. Iran and Russia have tried not to advertise this, apparently so as to not create additional tension during the process of Syria negotiations, and so that Iran can still continue the tedious and difficult work of defrosting their Western assets since sanctions have been lifted. But the situation has radically changed now."
"First of all, Russia has obtained the official right to use the airfield for basing Russian bombers, including strategic ones capable of carrying nuclear weapons. The last time that Iran decided to allow foreign troops onto its territory was 70 years ago. This is a sign of great trust and the very high level of relations between our countries. This move fits well into the general context of Russian-Iranian relations. This benefits the - let’s call things by their names - future competition to the Suez Canal, the “North-South” transport corridor, which needed a military “roof” (kryshe) and has now got it."
"Secondly, the presence of Russian aircraft on Iranian territory is now known to the whole world, and this changes the configuration of what is happening in the Middle East to a certain extent. Another Russian base in the region, a base which moreover could host bombers with nuclear weapons, causes great strain not so much for the US as for our Saudi and Qatari partners who will now feel very uncomfortable."
"In fact, this is being done very publicly for the first time. Tehran and Moscow are sending a clear signal to our American partners in the region, and the State Department has already spoken out against these actions, advising that the redeployment of Russian bombers was “carried out too quickly” and, most importantly, without consulting the Americans. The Americans have been offended, but while they are busy with elections, Putin is stitching together a new anti-American alliance, among which even such countries with difficult relations with each other, like Iran and Turkey, have a place."
"And now the second important element of the puzzle. For the first time during the Syrian crisis, Beijing has moved from diplomatically supporting Moscow and Damascus to military supporting them. These are still just the first steps, and it is not worth expecting the People’s Liberation Army of China to land in Aleppo tomorrow, but this gesture by the Chinese has meaning. A representative of the Central Military Commission of the People’s Republic of China, Guan Ufa, flew to Damascus this weekend and promised Assad humanitarian assistance from China as well as assistance in “strengthening personnel training.”
"Syrian authorities and the Syrian Army really benefit from this. We should also consider that the Chinese prefer to intervene in international conflicts only when they have no other choice and know exactly who will win. It is obvious that Beijing took the opportunity to avoid direct participation in the Syrian crisis for the sake of not creating another point of tension between them and the United States. Logic dictates that this means that Beijing is now confident that the anti-American coalition in the Middle East will win."
"Now, based on such a forecast, they’ve decided to offer some assistance which they can turn into a certain influence in the region later. We aren’t bothered by this. We have no claims to global hegemony. Squeezing American influence out of the Middle East will be much easier with Beijing’s help. Right now, thanks to the Kremlin’s diplomatic efforts, a coalition of countries who are ready to fight against American hegemony is forming not only in words, but in deeds. The Americans do not like this, but they will have to get used to it. Sooner or later, they, and not us, will find themselves in complete international isolation."