A month ago the Obama administration took a step back and acquiesced to Russian ‘facts on the ground’ in Syria, signaling a sidelining of hardliners such as Senator John McCain. However, since that time, the US has planted its back foot and has not budged. Indeed, in the last week, rabid and resurgent neo-cons in the Obama administration and/or warhawks in his military ranks, have redoubled their efforts to undermine Russia’s advances in Syria and the region. Defense Sect’y Ash Carter, seemingly the highest ranking neo-con, said beefed-up arms-drops and more raids by the 3000 soldier US contingent in Iraq are to be expected. Last week, an American Special Forces officer died in a raid run alongside Kurdish fighters which liberated 69 prisoners from a prison near Kirkuk.
I gave some few indications for hope yesterday, and I’ll give a few more today, but hardliners are retrenching in many areas, even as the Russian and Syrian campaigns have become more difficult due in large part to the Stinger and TOW missiles provided by the US.
Since the Russian bombing raids began, McCain has been threatening to arm our proxies, but of course, we have been doing that all along. Although Russian bombing has exposed the tip US covert operations in Syria, made more public by the outcry of US neo-cons, in fact, most US activity remains hidden beneath public awareness and beyond that which can be accessed via the internet. What does break the silence of the mass media warrants attention too, of course.
Unsurprisingly, the rescue raid and combat death got front-page coverage. Almost two weeks ago, US also quite publicaly announced it had dropped 50 tons of weaponry in the desert near al-Hasaka intended for a new coalition, or rather a coalition of coalitions, of Kurdish YPG forces, Syrian Arabs, and Assyrian Christians. This was designed for a future march by US-supported “moderate Syrian forces” on Raqqa, the ISIS headquarters in Syria.
Raqqa is still in US sights, as Ash Carter reiterated yesterday. Testifying before a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Carter also said that while the “train-and-equip” program had been abandoned, a new approach is to work with “vetted leaders of groups that are already fighting ISIL” equipping and sometimes training them. As for the 50 ton arms drop, nobody knows where they have wound up. On the other hand, the US may have been too public with that announcement.
The Russians reacted angrily, of course, assuming the arms would wind up in the hands of ISIS, who are near the drop location. The Turks reacted angrily, since it considers the YPG, the Kurdish group working closely with the US, as little more than the Syrian counterpart of the PKK, and thus a terrorist group. The US then said (to Turkey), “Oh, we didn’t actually drop them to the Kurds, just the Syrian Arabs”. Then the Kurds said “we got the arms”. Then the Arabs said: “we never got ours.” It is still not clear where the arms are. Russian aerial campaigns also revealed another curiosity, an area that had been leveled in repeated bombing campaigns. It has often been charged that US covert support for ISIS meant their overt air campaigns were dropping their bombs in the desert. It appears that might be the case.
But most disturbing are reports of what the US Air Force itself has been up to: the destruction of Aleppo’s power station, exposing a city swollen to 3 million to cholera, and bombing an Iraqi army unit, killing 22. The latter was supposedly “friendly fire” accident. The US has not admitted the first.
On a positive note, an articulate voice of reason has emerged in the US Congress, and thankfully Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii) sits on the Armed Services and Foreign Wars Committee. I’ll attach here an article and here a video clip of an interview with Wolf Blitzer wherein she rejects renewed US calls for a Syria no-fly zone. The link is in the last sentence, not in the image.)
And while I am speaking of American politicians that truly lead; here is an interview with former Congresswoman, newly minted Ph.D., Cynthia McKinney, who would be my top choice for presidential pick, perhaps on a ticket with Dennis Kucinich. The interviewer is “the Saker”, a high-level, anonymous military source and analyst.