Russia Warns of Escalation With US Coalition West of the Euphrates In Syria

Moscow has spoken out about the Syrian jetted dropped from the sky by the United States Military and they are none too thrilled, but their anger is the stuff of theatrics. RedState’s Streiff gave a thorough overview of the situation and asks the pivotal question

On the whole, we can expect this to result in nothing. The deconfliction channel will be quietly reestablished because the Russians have more to lose than the Syrians by not playing. The real question is whether this modifies the behavior of the Russians and Syrians or inspires them to seek retaliation.

All the parsing of words over US enforced “deconfliction zones” vs Russian suggested “deescalation zones” are a matter of labeling. During last year’s presidential election they were referred to as “No-fly zones” and were quite a hot topic for partisan bickering. Unlike in 2016, none of this is being done for the cameras and now the rubber has been formally introduced to the road. So, what are Russia’s motivations and options?

Russia’s mission in Damascus has little to do with a simmering sectarian divide that is very close to boiling over into a full-scale regional conflict involving nations not proxies but more to do with showcasing its weapons on the global stage and selling their brand of security and stability. In September of 2016, during an Obama State Department brokered “ceasing of hostilities,” Moscow was so threatened by the words of, then Secretary of state, John Kerry that their response to the “agreement” was to send their only aircraft carrier off the coast of Syria. Foreign Policy Magazine reported on the move and put it firmly in context.

The Soviet-built Indian carrier INS Vikramaditya and the INS Vikrant (being built in an Indian shipyard) both use Russian MiG-29Ks, but the Indian government has a long list of complaints over the performance of the aircraft. New Delhi shelled out $2.2 billion for 45 fighters in 2004 and 2010, but the planes have suffered a litany of problems, from faulty engines to poor flight availability, and the government has pushed back hard against Moscow.

And

A successful combat deployment of the Russian MiG-29s might assuage some of India’s concerns, once it sees what the plane can do in action.

That’s Moscow’s motivation, to show the world their weapons are worth buying — a question that is never asked of American made weapons because they are the industry gold standard — and Russia wants in on the market cornered by United States arms manufacturing. There is no debate on which country’s weapons are the better purchase and engaging in direct conflict with the United States would completely ruin their efforts to gain a bigger share of the arms market. Why would nations around the world looking to beef up their military place an order for more Russian jets after seeing them decimated in the skies of Syria?

And they most certainly will be destroyed if Moscow continues to choose the path of escalation. It is not a wise move for them or their arms industry which has already looked like a bush-league upstart who rattles nuclear sabers anytime America bristles at their aggression in Syria. The reality is stark for Moscow: be humiliated in Syria or cause a nuclear holocaust, but even they are not so nihilistic, rather just less competent than their American rivals.

Moscow’s Options

The Russians have a hard choice to make here and they have 3 options. First, is to back up their bluster which means engaging the United States directly in the air and having their force in Syria as well as their client states destroyed in quick fashion. Not a good look for Moscow’s brand of security and stability that they are trying to sell to the global community.

Moscow’s second option is to continue with the laughable “talks” in Anstana, Kazakhstan where the US has been invited to the meeting between Moscow, Tehran, and Ankara as an “observer” only, in July. That plan is the same nonsense these emboldened regional actors tried, with some success, to use against the Obama administration — something both Secretary of State Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Mattis likely won’t go for. The risk here is that Moscow can’t control its client states and those clients could provoke action from the US-led coalition which, again, would prove what they’re selling an inferior product.

Third, and probably wisest of the 3 options, is to quietly, but firmly recognize and respect the boundaries the United States has set forth while it completes its mission to destroy the remnants of the Islamic State. This maintains the small share of the arms market Moscow currently has because the world will not see just how inferior their product is and preserves its forces in the event its European neighbors should ever grow tired of Russia meddling in all their affairs.

Moscow doesn’t care about the Shia-Sunni sectarianism or the Iranians’ national dream of a land route from their homeland to the Mediterranean. It cares about money, retaining its naval presence in the harbor of Tartus, and returning to the global stage as a forced to be reckoned with in the arms industry. Risking it all to protect what is left of the Syrian government would be a terrible business decision that will cost more than money, but also the lives of those they send to sell their brand of security.

Russia should think very long and very hard before it makes its next move and it appears they have done just that.

 

 

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American-Backed Syrian Democratic Forces Enforce De-Confliction Boundaries

Recently RedState has been covering the mounting tensions concentrated in pockets of the Euphrates Basin which straddles Iraq and Syria, where forces emboldened by Shiite supremacy wrapped in Iranian nationalistic fervor threaten to drastically complicate the United States’ efforts to bring down the Islamic State. Operation Inherent Resolve is a coalition force led by the United States and the coalition has instructed the Damascus Alliance to maintain a 55 kilometer “de-conflicted” zone at all times something both Iranian-backed militias and the regular Syrian army has ignore 4 times.

And now, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the primary US proxy fighting ISIS, is engaged in clashes with the Syrian Government Forces (SAA) in a place near Resafa. The SAA wants their pilot back and is willing to enter the de-conflicted zone to get him. It would behoove those who have access to the back channels with Russia to set up freely giving him or his remains back to the Syrians and remind the SAA the de-conflicted zones are not a request or a suggestion.

Because some in the media are hell-bent on claiming this escalation is coming from the United Sates. When the United States Military takes a notion to escalates a situation it unmistakable and one-sided.

That is Max Blumenthal sharing Moscow’s talking point, conservative readers may remember him form Clinton email revelations and being publicly humiliated by Andrew Brietbart who once said Blumenthal was “programmed by some ungodly creature”, and he is also unapologetically pro-Assad. His slant is obviously anti-american and reflects the alt-right on foreign policy more than any average Conservative voter ever could. He most certainly advocates for the SAA to breech the de-conflicted zone causing more Syrian deaths and placing American service members in harms way. Blumenthal made a living accusing any American opposing Obama of racism and 5 years later he is defending what looks like a Sunni genocide. It boggles one’s mind how a voice like his is still listened to by anyone.

The condition of the Syria pilot shot down by an American F-18 is unknown much like the legal authority of the United States to fire on a sovereign countries military. That is why it is crucial for President Trump to ask Congress from a clear mandate on how to handle aggression from the Assad regime, Iranian Military. and Shia militias, all of which have amassed in force around Americans and their proxies.

Perhaps both sides of the American political spectrum should put the political theater on pause for a moment and concentrate our collective fire outside the tent. The Americans at al-Tanf, Resafa, and other places along the Syrian/Iraqi border are not bait. If they are not to be given a clear directive of how to operate the White House should remove them from harms way. These vague half-measures are starting to resemble the Obama era.

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Iran: Taking High Risks With Low Tech

Just now the United States military via a press release from Operation Inherit Resolve, the coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), confirmed that it shot down a Russian made SU-22 flown by the Syrian Air Force with a F/A-18E, both manned aircrafts. The first air-to-air incursion the United States has seen in a very long time. It was action taken in defense of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a mostly Kurdish proxy force backed by the United States to dislodge and defeat ISIS in Syria.

The American forces tried to contact the Syrian forces by way of the Russians for over an our before interceding on the behalf of the SDF who suffered several wounded and were forced out of Ja’Din. This is the 4th time the US has engaged Iranian-backed forces in just a few weeks. Claims of US-backed forces and US soldiers themselves being encircled have been swirling for weeks and now Iran claims to have fired a missile at Deir ez Zor, Syria in retaliation to the ISIS attacks on their parliament that can theoretically also target the surrounded forces at al-Tanf and the Waleed border crossing. The missile is an obsolete Russian design that can be defended against.

All this comes on the heals of Iran revealing its desperate national need for an overland route to Lebanon. The New Yorker wrote this last week

The Iranians have sought to create such a sphere since the end of the Iran-Iraq War, in 1988, which they saw as a Western-backed effort to destroy their regime. That’s why Iranians helped create Hezbollah, the Shiite militia that dominates Lebanon, and trained and directed Shiite militias that attacked American soldiers during their occupation of Iraq. The Iranian push into the Arab Middle East has helped aggravate the Sunni-Shiite schism that is fracturing the region. The attack in Tehran this week by isis militants is emblematic of the enmity with which Sunni militants regard the Iranian regime.

No Iranian trucks or other vehicles have apparently used the route yet, and no Iranian official has spoken publicly about it.

Iran has likely not mentioned it’s route because it will trigger a preemptive action from Israel who has one of the best air forces in the world. Harassing American efforts to destroy ISIS, inflaming internal politics in Bahrain and Qatar, and aiding its Yemeni Houthi proxies has very much left Iran’s neighbors fed up with the countries regional meddling. While the missile fired at Deir ez Zor may seem terrifying from the photos, its actually low-tech by superpower standards.

Here is the former Iranian Ambassador to Iran championing the narrative of Iranian nationalism.

These are very poor decisions Iran is making. They are attempting to provoke stronger powers to attack them to justify using low-tech weapons on coalition missile defense systems and civilian areas. In March of this year, the European Union issued a report outlining all the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles Iran was sending to Yemen. The sub-header reads: ‘Kamikaze’ drones used by Houthi forces to attack Coalition missile defense systems

These findings support assertions that Iran continues to provide enhanced military capabilities to Houthi and Saleh-aligned forces.

Containment is a pillar in the conservative principals of foreign policy and conservatives need to start remembering how their greatest hero, Ronald Reagan, spent all 8 years in office trying to contain Iran. Conservative principals only work when conservatives have the fortitude to implement them and congress must clarify what authority the president and the military has at its disposal at the same time sending a message to those in the region who might harm the American efforts in Syria.

Conservative commentator, Noah Rothman, pointed out the need for a republican congress to act back in April when 59 Tomahawks were fired at a Syrian airbase.

The War Powers Act provides the White House all legal justification needed to pursue the limited action it has taken, but only politics would prevent lawmakers from taking up a more legally sound AUMF targeting the Syrian government.

The escalation from Iran is coming whether the world wants it or not and Congress should act accordingly.

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Dodo.com Accidentally Sends A Pro-Life Message

Dodo.com tweeted out a rather heart-warming video of dogs waiting on babies to be born and being excited once the bundle of joy has arrived. It is friggin cute and well worth watching.

“NINE” in all caps — which apparently means dogs know life begins which is in the womb –except to a dog a human pregnancy lasts 5.25 years.

Dodo’s mission statement: “For animal people who want to make a difference, Dodo Impact is the advocacy-focused side of The Dodo. We want our audience to feel empowered to help animals in need”, according to their website, but no positions on humans. Dodo.com has denounced late-term abortions in the past…but only for monkeys .

Vet technician David Roebuck told local news station WINK News that his job at Primate Products included performing regular C-section abortions on late-term pregnant female monkeys. The company then dissected the babies to harvest their organs, which they freeze dried and sold to pharmaceutical companies.

Holy cow! That is graphic and uncomfortable to comprehend.

“When I got involved in that, I knew I just couldn’t live with myself if I was going to be doing that,” Roebuck told WINK News, adding that the facility had two deep freezers filled with baby monkey parts.”

This whistle-blower might need therapy. But as costume dictates, the public will have to attack his online history and sexual preferences, it is known as the Holly O’Donnell rule.

 Thank the heavens, there is legal recourse. It’s not like a federal law – like say 42 U.S. Code § 289g–2 or anything – it is obscure and doesn’t address the ethics of what is happening, but there is still hope for the pro-monkey movement.
Perhaps someday other activist will be able to use these methods and tactics, like enforcing arbitrary zoning laws and taking whistle-blowers seriously, to defend the lives of unborn human children.
But watch the video, it’ll make you smile. Dodo.com may not have meant to be pro-life but they most certainly were with that video.

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Iran Finally Got Something Right; Because Zumba Is an Awful Thing

We’ve all seen our social media timelines filled with photos, promotions, and invitations to Zumba classes, which is essentially meeting somewhere and dancing to Latin music until the whole class is really sweaty. Zumba.com’s description of their brand is as follows.

Pretty much the most awesome workout ever. Dance to great music, with great people, and burn a ton of calories without even realizing it.

Speaking plainly, Zumba comes across as a creepy workout cult that has achieved corporate status, not unlike CrossFit. Both fitness communities are a scourge on the pages of American social media and should be opposed with vigilance and hostility and the Iranians have done just that.

The New York Times reported how the Iranian Director of Sports for All Federation, Ali Majd Ara, issued an edict banning the exercise format saying:

Considering that activities such as Zumba, performance of rhythmic movements and dancing in any form and under any title lacks legal credibility, I request that you issue an order to ban such movements

In America, it is almost impossible to swing a dead cat without hitting a girl who is gyrating her hips to Latin music to burn calories because this country has been overrun by radical fitness extremists and, as with other brands of extremism like ISIS, Iran has taken it upon itself to lead the charge. Iran’s plan is to kill the movement in its cradle. 33-year-old extremist, Sepideh Heydari, said:

“I like it because it’s fun. I become happy, and my spirit is uplifted when I dance, that is probably exactly why they disapprove of it”

Chilling rhetoric from a true believer. People engaging in “fun” and efforts to uplift their spirits and be “happy” seems like an ideology that can not be defeated, but as a country who has been taken over by happy and healthy women, we wish Iranians the best in their Sisyphean task.

 

**Editors Note**

There is also the very boring matter of sanctions the United States has placed on Iran making it illegal for companies, like Zumba, to do business in Iran. This is an issue that matters a great deal to American conservatives as it was the central criticism that that disqualified Carly Fiorina in the 2016 Republican presidential primaries.

The one measure sometimes used in pulling off bloodless regime change is violating one’s own sanctions to aid the opposition. The Green Revolution once held the media high ground and they needed printers to spread the message of their movement. Aiding revolutionary movements inside hostile countries is done clandestinely by nature and the world may never know why printers were being sent into Iran at the end of second Bush administration.

 

 

 

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Breaking: Israeli Solders Wounded, 3 Palestinians Dead After Soldiers Attacked

Breaking news out of Jerusalem where reportedly 4 Palestinians attacked Israeli soldiers forcing the defense force to open fire with thousands of people visiting Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest city in Sunni Islam.

The best coverage in English so far is a Twitter user with Palestinian sympathies. However, he indicates that over 300,000 Muslims were at the mosque when the attack happened. It’s the 50th anniversary of the Six Day War and tension are high. Al-Monitor reported 

The biggest Israeli flag ever,” measuring 180 square meters (2,034 square feet) and weighing 40 kilos (88 pounds), was flown on Ammunition Hill, a symbol of Israel’s victory in the Six-Day War.

And just last month their was a scuffle over Israelis singing their national anthem on Jerusalem day outside Al-Aqsa Mosques.

Security was tight but attackers still managed to get through and attack soldiers protecting the crowd and keeping order.

Here is a video that is from right outside of the Mosque posted on twitter

It translates to “First moments from the scene of the operation

This post will be updated when more concrete details emerge in English.

 

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One Cable TV Host Shows How We Can Engage With the Other Side

The national tension and devolving rhetoric has been an issue since the presidency of George W. Bush, when opposing him was en vogue and it was fashionable to raise the bar of rhetoric in protest of a Republican commander-in-chief. The tension simmering finally materialized at the Occupy Wall Street protest in New York City at the end of Bush’s second term, but quickly fizzled out as Barack Obama assumed office. The rhetoric was still ugly and mean spirited through the first 6 years of Obama’s presidency, but there was a feeling that it had plateaued and the nastiness, especially towards conservatives, was the new normal. However, Americans learned that was not the case in August of 2014 when the protest in Ferguson, Missouri was a snap-back to reality and that reality was, and still is, that America is divided along the lines of partisan identity politics and our rhetoric seems to force that chasm to grow deeper and wider day-by-day.

Since the events of Ferguson, America feels as if it is careening into a place the country has not been in a long time. That careening felt like it started picking up speed on November 9th, 2016 to the point by the time the inauguration rolled around on January 20th, 2017 it was perfectly acceptable to punch a neo-nazi in the face — some even encouraged the violent activity. Which brings the timeline to Wednesday morning in Alexandria, Virginia where an “angry little man” who was fanatically ant-Trump tried to kill Republican lawmakers who were playing baseball.

The attack was hard enough to wrap one’s head around, but the way anti-Trump Americans were spiteful in the denunciation of a radical from their ranks was breathtaking and heart breaking to behold. Many conservatives were stupefied that this attack was blamed on their portion of a rhetorical arms race in the war of words. It was easy to see how Americans were seriously beginning to thinking their country was past some unknown “point of no return” and that there was no honest opposition on the progressive American left still around to engage.  Chris Hayes spoke up for what conservatives were saying, he reach over the partisan chasm and tried to comfort and engage his fellow Americans who were shocked and deeply insulted.

Chris Hayes is a formidable media advisory for American conservatives. He unflinchingly defended the Obama administration’s ideas and gives as good as he gets in a modern media setting. But, through it all, the guy seems sincere and sincerity matters when Republican leaders are a target for assassination, simply for being Republicans, at a charity baseball game by a man rabidly opposed to Donald Trump.

Decision Desk’s, John Ekdahl made a note of Hayes’s sincerity in reference to the New York Times Editorial Board article titled America’s Lethal Politics, in which they used a proven lie to accuse Sarah Palin, again, of creating a political ad that inspired an attack on Representative Gabbi Giffords. The Daily Beast, which is pretty far from conservative and is in no way kind to Palin, debunked this, days after the claims were made. The New York Times’ take was insincere or lazy, both of which are insulting in a time like this and do nothing to help the national discourse.

He is not well-regarded on the right, but Chris Hayes consistently calls a fair game. After the tense summer of 2014 when Michael Brown was shot to death the following year was about the “National Conversation” America had to have on race and policing. The Department of Justice’s report on Ferguson had just been released in March of 2015 and former RedState Editor Leon Wolf took an honest look at the report. He told his own party how they were ignoring their conservative values and Hayes gave him larger a platform that allowed progressive voters to see conservatives were ideologically behind them on the case against the system in Ferguson.

Hayes allowed Wolf to state both truths, which were: 1) the media narrative of what happened was a complete falsehood and 2) the Ferguson police department was using taxation through citation to prop up an economically failing St. Louis County municipality. Both are facts and Hayes had given his platform to a conservative who was asking to have the honest conversation. What else can be asked of one’s honest opposition?

Wolf pointed out two years ago that both sides of the ideological spectrum were talking past each other refusing to see the big picture and it was negatively affecting our national dialogue. Then the very next month Baltimore burned in riots protesting the murder of Freddie Gray. Though cities won’t burn, today’s tragedy was a gut-check for all and it reminded us how divided we are on some issues like guns and how the media frames a tragedy. Hayes affirmed that conservatives are not inventing this bias in the media it actually occurring.

His honesty should grant him good will among conservatives and his gesture of honest dialogue should be reciprocated if for no other reason than the benefit of national dialogue.

The right should also have hope that because he shared his platform to allow a conservative to speak honestly about conservative values that he would also use his platform to speak honestly to progressives. Of course, Hayes will meet conservatives on the battlefield of ideas again but even he would agree the only battlefield Americans should be in hurry to rush towards is the battlefield of ideas.

 

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Gillespie Wins Virginia Republican Primary

The Decision Desk has declared Ed Gillespie as the winner of the Republican primary for Governor of Virginia.

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Tragic Fire Engulfs London Apartment

A terrible fire has destroyed a high rise apartment in London, England. The cause of the blaze is still unknown.

Initial reports put the number injured at 30.

Gut-wrenching reports are already start to surface.

It is a devastating blow to a city already reeling from tragedy. Emergency services are still standing by.

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The Senate Quietly Refuses to Block Arms Sales to Saudi Arabia

Amid the intense media focus on United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ testimony at a Senate hearing today something was missed — the Senate actually acted, or rather refused to act, but still required a vote.  The 53-47 vote was the Senate’s refusal to block the sale of smart-bombs and other precision-guided munition technology to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This is what Reuters reports the numbers to be:

The 2015 sale included more than 8,000 Laser Guided Bombs for the Royal Saudi Air Force. The package also includes more than 10,000 general purpose bombs, and more than 5,000 tail kits used to inexpensively convert “dumb” bombs into laser or GPS-guided weapons.

The deal was blocked by the Barack Obama administration over concerns over civilian casualties in Yemen, according to this December 2016 New York Times article.

The Obama administration has deepened its rift with its Gulf allies over the ongoing conflict in Yemen, blocking a transfer of precision munitions to Saudi Arabia because of concerns about civilian casualties that administration officials attribute to poor targeting.

Quite an opener, the Obama administration’s solution to curbing civilian deaths in a war that was long in the making was to refuse to sell an old ally the best technology on the planet for aiming a bomb. Sound logic, indeed. All this happens while the American-led coalition enforces the 55 km de-escalation zone maintained by American air power that has thrice been tested.

The vote by the United States Senate to affirm Trump’s reversal of Obama’s policy that angered the Gulf Cooperation Council and embolden Iranian regional mobility is instantly politicized — especially as to conservatives who will be framed as caving to the whims of an unpopular and impulsive president. But it is hardly so simple.

This move falls in line with two core conservative principals of foreign policy. First, it is a stabilizing move meant to deter Iran who is moving thousands of Hezzbolah fighters most anywhere they please save a few pockets that have American Special Forces present. Second, it is in line with current Israeli policy.

Israel has been quiet about the moves happening between Egypt and Saudi Arabia over the strategic islands in the Red Sea changing hands back to the Saudis who gave them to Egypt in 1950 over fears Israel would seize control of the islands. Which they did in 1967 in The Six Day War, but returned control to Egypt under the Camp David Accords. Safe to assume with such a violation of the agreement that the silence is its own answer from Israel.

Human rights are actually a concern for conservatives and it is good, sound policy to urge Saudi Arabia, Iran, Russia, and Syria to seriously address how they govern and treat minority populations in their countries, but if human rights violations disqualified business transactions that would severely limit the “global” economy. The entire Gulf Cooperation Council is in a re-branding and reforming effort, but Iran is still trying to push Israel into the Sea.

 

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