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Daniel McAdams

Guess Who's Violating the Syria Ceasefire?

...the Turks, of course. According to Qadri Jamil, one of the leaders of the opposition Syrian Popular Front for Change and Liberation, the temporary ceasefire in Syria is for the most part holding. But the main violator of the agreement thus far, he says, is the Turkish government...
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The Incredible Shrinking Syrian 'Ceasefire'

The Syria "cessation of hostilities" agreement seems all the stranger as huge unanswered questions regarding signatories, partners, monitoring, reporting, adjudication, and enforcement are raised. It seems more and more like something cobbled together without much thought as to how it might work in practice. 

Indeed, the people who are paid to explain to us how it might work seem to be as confused as we are. Take State Department Spokesman Mark Toner. Asked whether the ceasefire requirements of the agreement would apply to Turkey, which has for the past week been bombing US-allied Kurds in Syria, he was unable to give a clear answer beyond the following confusing bit from Monday's press briefing:
Well, Turkey is a member of the ISSG, the stakeholders group. Ultimately, to be a part of that, you have – you’ve committed to implementing the cessation of hostilities. So again, it – we’ve talked about this a lot – it’s not just – we certainly point a finger at Russia quite often, and other members who are, we believe, taking counterproductive actions on the ground in Syria, but it’s incumbent on all members of the ISSG to buy into a cessation of hostilities.
How's that for clear diplomacy?
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Showdown: Justice Department Escalates Against Apple

The US Justice Department escalated its standoff with Apple today, filing a motion to compel Apple to create software that would facilitate the Federal Government's breaking the encryption of an iPhone in the possession of one of the San Bernardino shooters. Apple has argued that no one could depend on being secure from the prying eyes of government should it comply with the Federal government's orders. Wrote Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a letter to customers this week, "in the wrong hands, this software – which does not exist today – would have the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession."

The Justice Department's counterargument appears to be that this is a special case and they can be trusted to never use this "key" to our iPhones again. But ironically, this heightened encryption feature was incorporated into iPhones in response to revelations by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden that the federal government had been illegally spying on American citizens. But apparently we are supposed to trust them this time.
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While Kerry Talks Ceasefire, US Allies Secretly Ship Grad Missiles to Syria Rebels

The big news yesterday was that after some five hours of intense negotiation on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, an agreement was reached between the major powers on a "cessation of hostilities" in Syria within the next week or so. 

According to the agreement:
The [International Syria Support Group] members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council. The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.
Now today -- just one day after the ceasefire agreement --  we discover that a massive shipment of ground-to-ground "Grad" missiles have been sent by US allies (and the CIA?) to rebels fighting against the Syrian government.
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You Won't Believe What This US Ambassador Said About al-Qaeda's Syrian Allies

Robert Ford was US Ambassador to Syria when the revolt against Syrian president Assad was launched. He not only was a chief architect of regime change in Syria, but actively worked with rebels to aid their overthrow of the Syrian government. 

Ford assured us that those taking up arms to overthrow the Syrian government were simply moderates and democrats seeking to change Syria's autocratic system. Anyone pointing out the obviously Islamist extremist nature of the rebellion and the foreign funding and backing for the jihadists was written off as an Assad apologist or worse.
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Al-Qaeda Allies to Represent Opposition in Upcoming Syria Peace Talks

A Saudi-backed opposition committee representing the rebels fighting to overthrow the Assad government in Syria have agreed on a chief negotiator for peace talks scheduled to begin in Geneva next week. The rebels will be represented by Mohammed Alloush, political leader of Jaysh al-Islam, when the talks begin. 

Mohammed Alloush's brother, Zahran, led Jaysh al-Islam until he was killed in an airstrike at the end of December. Under Zahran's rule, Jaysh al-Islam was a fiercely Islamist group that insisted strict Sharia law must govern Syria. He maintained close ties with the al-Nusra Front, otherwise known as al-Qaeda in Syria.
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That Didn't Take Long: US to Impose New Sanctions on Iran

Just one day after "Implementation Day" of the Iran nuclear agreement, where international sanctions were removed with the certification that Iran had met all of its obligations under the agreement, the US has slipped back into its old habits. Citing Iran's work on ballistic missile development, the US Treasury Department announced yesterday that the US was imposing a new round of sanctions on the country. Several firms that are helping Iran develop its missile capability are also falling under the Treasury hammer.

Announcing the new sanctions, President Obama said, "We will continue to enforce these sanctions vigorously. We are going to remain vigilant about it."

The sanctions are being imposed because the ballistic missiles tested by Iran in October are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. But, as Moon of Alabama blog points out, the UN certification on Saturday means that Iran does not have nor will it pursue a nuclear weapon. So the point is completely moot.
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Hillary's Africa Genocide Problem


Hillary might have some explaining to do to her base, with the latest batch of emails released from her days as Secretary of State. Her supporters in the Democratic Party are particularly attuned to minority issues and the social and economic struggles of those in developing countries. Additionally, nearly two-thirds of African-American voters went Democrat in the last election, a demographic the party has come to rely on over the years.

Imagine how damaging it should be to Hillary, then, if the mainstream media decides to pick up on probably the most explosive revelation from Hillary's latest server dump: She knew that the Libyan rebels her State Department backed were systematically committing genocide against black Africans in Libya and she did nothing about it!
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They Just Can't Stop It: US Planning New Rebel Training Program For Syria

After innumerable failed schemes to train rebels to overthrow the Syrian government (and then training more rebels to take on the rebels they had previously trained who went over to ISIS and al-Qaeda), the US appears to be on the verge of launching yet another regime-change rebel training operation. According to the Wall Street Journal, the US is considering adopting a Turkey-originated plan to create an Arab fighting force in northern Syria to seal up the border and -- more importantly -- to counter the increasing influence and power of Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG) in the area.

Once considered proxy US boots on the ground, the YPG has always been feared and loathed by the Turks. Now, they may become victims of their own success if the new plan is implemented. The new US-created group would be tasked with limiting Kurdish advances in northern Syria which would in turn appease the Turks, who have long been more worried about the Kurds than ISIS.
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Delusional State Dept: 'We Brought Peace to Syria in 2015'

This gem from over the holidays may have passed under your radar screens. In the final State Department press conference for 2015, spokesperson John Kirby outlined the Department's "pivotal foreign policy moments of 2015." To be fair, some achievements warranted a mention by Foggy Bottom: re-establishing diplomatic relations with Cuba and finalizing the Iran deal are two bright spots in the otherwise foul witches brew called "US foreign policy 2015."

However in amongst taking credit for eliminating ebola and saving the Arctic from global warming, Spokesman Kirby let loose with this zinger -- an "achievement" called, "Bringing Peace, Security to Syria."
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