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Tyler Durden

CIA, Saudis To Give ‘Select’ Syrian Militants Weapons Capable Of Downing Commercial Airliners

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Wednesday brought a veritable smorgasbord of “new” information about the Russian passenger jet which fell out of the sky above the Sinai Peninsula last weekend. 

First there was an audio recording from ISIS’ Egyptian affiliate reiterating that they did indeed “down” the plane. Next, the ISIS home office in Raqqa (or Langley or Hollywood) released a video of five guys sitting in the front yard congratulating their Egyptian “brothers” on the accomplishment.

Then the UK grounded air traffic from Sharm el-Sheikh noting that the plane “may well” have had an “explosive device” on board.

Finally, US media lit up with reports that according to American “intelligence” sources, ISIS was probably responsible for the crash.

Over the course of the investigation, one question that’s continually come up is whether militants could have shot the plane down. Generally speaking, the contention that ISIS (or at least IS Sinai) has the technology and/or the expertise to shoot down a passenger jet flying at 31,000 feet has been discredited by “experts” and infrared satellite imagery. 

But that’s nothing the CIA can’t fix.
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US Officials Outline 'Secret' Summer Operation To Stop Flow Of Dollars To ISIS

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Over the last five or so weeks, Washington has been in panic mode with regard to America’s “fight” against ISIS. Once the Russians arrived at Latakia and began to provide air cover for Iranian ground troops operating in Syria it was clear that the clock was ticking on the strategy of using Sunni extremists to overthrow the Assad regime. 

That was bad news for Washington and its regional allies for a number of reasons. First, it meant that Iran was set to preserve the “Shiite crescent” and therefore Tehran’s supply line to Hezbollah. Second, it meant that the installing a “friendly” puppet government in Damascus was no longer in the cards and that doesn’t bode well for lucrative energy deals like the Qatar-Turkey natural gas pipeline. Third, it raised the possibility that the public would begin to get wise to the rather peculiar arrangements in place between Saudi Arabia and Qatar and the various Sunni militias fighting in Syria - including ISIS. 

That last point is critical. If the US electorate ever gets anything that even looks like definitive evidence that Washington is knowingly supporting the group that’s been held up as the scourge of humanity they’ll be a public outcry the likes of which America hasn’t seen since Vietnam. So, Washington has done its best to suggest that the US is set to step up the fight. The campaign began with helmet cam footage depicting a successful raid on an ISIS prison in northern Iraq and swiftly morphed into an announcement from the Obama administration that America would soon put boots on the ground in Syria, presumably to be embedded with the Kurdish YPG.
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NATO Looks To Station Thousands Of Troops On Border With Russia

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Russia’s dramatic intervention in Syria has served to push the conflict in Ukraine (a country that is now partially governed by Star Wars characters) to the back of the world’s collective mind. After all, separatists exchanging fire with government forces and/or far-right “volunteer” battalions every couple of days against a dreary backdrop of rundown Eastern European towns isn’t nearly as exciting as Sukhois dropping bombs on sword-waving desert bandits and so, Ukraine’s crisis has gradually receded into the background.

That said, it’s important to remember that one of the principal reasons for deteriorating relations between Moscow and the West is the conflict in Ukraine. 

Indeed, Russian “aggression” in the region has triggered a series of snap drills on NATO’s part, the most amusing of which involved a set of war games centered around the capture of a fictional Ukrainian separatist leader called “Birdman” who lived in a shack in the forest. But all humor aside, NATO has also moved to beef up its capabilities near Russia’s border, as the US prepares to place heavy weapons in Poland and the Pentagon runs simulations to determine who would win a Balkan battle.
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General In Charge Of 'Total Failure' Syrian 'Train And Equip' Program Gets Promotion

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The US effort to train and equip Syrian freedom fighters battling to bring democracy to Damascus and usurp a brutal dictator has been a smashing success (count the instances of sarcasm there).

Take ISIS for example. The Pentagon knew that the opposition groups the West and its regional allies were supporting could morph into something beyond anyone’s control. Recall the following passage from a secret DoD document dated 2012: “If the situation unravels, there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

Well, the situation did “unravel” and sure enough, one group of former “freedom fighters” metamorphosed into a band of sword-wielding, black-flag waving desert bandits who did indeed establish a Salafist Principality in eastern Syria with a “capital” at Raqqa.

And while that surely takes the top spot on the list of “most absurd outcomes from US meddling in Syria,” a close second was this year’s “train and equip” program run by the Pentagon.

This was a separate program from those run by the CIA (which supports the Free Syrian Army that’s now under siege by Russia and Iran) and the aim was to appropriately “vet” as many as 5,400 anti-ISIS (supposedly) fighters by the end of the year.
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CNN Anchor Demands Americans ‘Stop Swooning Over Putin’

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We’ll just put this bluntly: when you, as a country, do something incredibly stupid from a foreign policy perspective, you open the door for your global critics and adversaries to i) call you out on it publicly, and ii) use your gross incompetence and general disregard for anything that even approximates common sense, to their geopolitical advantage. 


And make no mistake, in Syria, Washington, Riyadh, and Doha did something incredibly stupid.

They financed, armed, and trained a hodgepodge of Sunni extremists in Syria in an attempt to destabilize a regime that was deemed to be unfriendly to the interests of the West and its regional allies. 

Not to put too fine a point on it, but from the perspective of human suffering, the results have been simply horrific: hundreds of thousands dead and millions displaced.

From a reputational perspective, the results have been equally catastrophic. Not only did the US, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar have a hand in creating the group that ultimately morphed into what we never tire of characterizing as an insane band of white basketball shoe-wearing, black flag-waving, sword-wielding desert bandits bent on establishing a medieval caliphate, but subsequent efforts to arm and train “moderate” rebels were wildly unsuccessful, and the entire effort culminated in the embarrassing admission that the Pentagon’s latest “program” - designed to field 5,400 fighters by the end of the year - had only managed to produce “four or five” soldiers at a cost to the US taxpayer of $41 million.
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ISIS In ‘Retreat’ As Russia Destroys 32 Targets While Putin Trolls Obama As ‘Weak With No Strategy’

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Perhaps the most amusing thing about Russia’s intervention in Syria is the degree to which it made the world wake up and question the West’s “anti-ISIS” strategy. 

While everyone has been quick to characterize Moscow’s actions as the latest and perhaps greatest example of Vladimir Putin calling Washington’s bluff, it’s important to understand exactly why that’s an accurate characterization here. That is, this is more than just Moscow betting it could support Assad and Washington would simply move out of the way.

This was Russia and Iran realizing that the only reason the US and its regional allies have been able to keep up appearances in the eyes of the public with regard to the “campaign” against ISIS, is because the public has never seen what happens when someone powerful makes a serious effort to eradicate the group. Once Russia moved in, gave the superpower greenlight for Iran to abandon all pretense that it isn’t also directly involved, and began racking up gains in a matter of days, the Western public was left to wonder why the US couldn’t accomplish in 13 months what Russia appeared to have accomplish in a matter of (literally) 72 hours.
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ISIS 'Ally' Turkey Seeks NATO Support As Two-Front 'War' Escalates

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NATO representatives met in Brussels on Tuesday after Turkey made a rare Article 4 request which compels treaty parties to convene in the event a member state is of the opinion that its "territorial integrity, political independence or security" is being threatened. 

That’s the case in Turkey, where the security situation has rapidly deteriorated over the past two weeks following a suicide bombing in Suruc (claimed by Islamic State) and the murder of two Turkish policemen in the town of Ceylanpinar (at the hands of the PKK, which claims the officers were cooperating with ISIS). Ankara responded by launching airstrikes against both Islamic State and PKK. 

In many ways, the suicide bombing and retaliatory action by the Kurdistan Workers' Party - which both Ankara and the West have designated as a terrorist group - is representative of the complex web of alliances that makes understanding the conflict in Syria so difficult. As The Economist notes, the PKK "have been fighting an on-and-off guerrilla war against the Turkish government for decades," but the group’s Syrian Kurdish militia arm (YPG) has helped the US coordinate airstrikes against ISIS targets near the border town of Kobani.
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ISIS, Assad Regime Now Fighting Together In Syria, US Alleges

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When last we checked in on the situation in Syria, ISIS (who a secret Pentagon document recently revealed was, and probably still is, considered a US “strategic asset”) was supposedly on the move, emboldened by recent successes in the ancient city of Palmyra and the conquest of Ramadi in Iraq, where, you’re reminded, Iraqi forces showed “no will” to fight according the Pentagon. 

Recent reports also indicated that the militants may have commandeered 2,300 humvees worth more than $1 billion when the group sacked Mosul last summer, a convenient “loss” for the US which can now justify four times that amount in arms sales to allies who will now need to counter a ‘better-equipped’ ISIS. 

On the heels of Palmyra, Ramadi, and a suicide bombing at a Saudi mosque, the US military  and Congressional war hawks have ratcheted up the calls for American boots on the ground in Iraq.
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This Is How You 'Boost' GDP: US Sells Over $4 Billion In Weapons To Israel, Iran, And Saudi Arabia

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War, what's it good for?

Aside from countless deaths of innocent civilians of course, it means a GDP boost for the biggest exporter of weapons on earth, the United States, and even more profits for the US military-industrial complex. Profits which mean the shareholders of America's arms manufacturers get even richer.

Which is why following months of middle-eastern sabre ratling and numerous quasi-wars already raging in the region, moments ago the U.S. State Department approved the sale of 10 MH-60R Seahawk helicopters to Saudi Arabia for $1.9 billion, the first step in "a major multibillion-dollar modernization of the Saudi navy's eastern fleet."

According to Reuters, the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notified lawmakers on Thursday about the possible arms sale, which has been discussed for years.
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US Army Sends 100 Tanks To Eastern Europe To 'Deter Russian Aggression'

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The ink on Barack Obama's Chuck Hagel termination letter hasn't dried yet but already the US president's new, and seemingly far more hawkish advisors, are having their warmongering presence felt. Case in point: the Eastern European theater of (Cold) war, where Military.com reports that the new Army commander in Europe plans to bolster the U.S. armored presence in Poland and the Baltic states and keep rotations of U.S. troops there through next year and possibly beyond to counter Russia. Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges, who replaced Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell  earlier this month as commander of U.S. Army Europe, said the Army was looking to add about 100 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the forces in Eastern Europe.

"We are looking at courses of action for how we could pre-position equipment that we would definitely want to put inside a facility where it would be better maintained, that rotational units could then come and draw on it and use it to train, or for contingency purposes," Hodges said in a briefing from Vilnius, Lithuania.

So "better maintained... or for contingency purposes." Got it. That probably also explains why as NATO is seeking to deliver 100 tanks to Eastern Europe, it has already added several squadrons of fighter jets just minutes away from Russia's border. For "contingency purposes."
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