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Thursday, June 30

"They attack us politically then they send their officials to deal with us under the table"

June 30 - Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad said the contradiction seen between the Australian officials’ statements and the official Australian stance towards Syria is an expression of the double standards followed by the West in general.

“They attack us politically, and then they send their officials to deal with us under the table, especially their security officials -- including their government,” added the President in an interview with the Australian SBS TV channel due to be aired on Friday.

“All of them do that as they don’t want to upset the US … In fact, most of the Western officials only repeat what the US wants them to say,” he said.

The full interview will be posted on the Syrian Presidency’s official Facebook page at 12: 30 pm on Friday (Damascus time) at the same time the interview will be aired on the Australian TV channel (Canberra time).

H. Said
[END REPORT]

Afghan security: Pakistan supporting Islamic State fighters in Afghanistan

By Ayesha Tanzeem
June 29, 2016
Voice of America

Afghanistan’s national security adviser has accused Pakistan, without directly naming the country, of providing financial and logistical support to Islamic State (IS) fighters in Afghanistan.
Hanif Atmar told journalists Wednesday in Jalalabad, the capital of eastern Nangarhar province, that his country’s security forces this week arrested three IS fighters led by a militant from the central Asian country of Tajikistan, and interrogations of the men revealed they were receiving support from abroad.
“We know where they received their training, who gave them arms, who gave them money, and who supported them,” Atmar said. The majority of IS fighters in Afghanistan, he added, came from Pakistan and had identity documents that proved their citizenship. The Pakistani militants, he said, were joined by militants from Central Asian and Middle Eastern countries.
Afghan forces in fierce battles this week in Nangarhar’s Kot district claimed to have killed more than 135 IS fighters. Officials also confirmed the killing of at least 12 security personnel.
Atmar blamed Pakistan for providing safe havens to elements who carried out “terrorist operations” inside Afghanistan. Afghan authorities have long accused Pakistan of supporting the Afghan Taliban and giving top leaders safe refuge. However, authorities have not previously accused Pakistan of supporting IS, which opposes the Afghan Taliban.
Atmar also touted some success in countering IS and said the group, which previously had a membership in thousands, was now reduced to mere hundreds. Most of them, he said, had either been killed or had run away.
Pakistani officials deny the allegations of supporting IS but say they need to study Atmar’s statement before issuing a formal rebuttal.
[END REPORT]

Fog of war Aleppo

FARS reported yesterday:
The Syrian army's artillery units, for their part, opened heavy fire at Castello supply line of militants and cut off the road.
SouthFront reported yesterday: 
The situation remains tense in and around Aleppo City. After the liberation of the Mallah Farms, the Syrian Army troops are now deployed in only 1,5 km from the militants’ last supply line to Aleppo City – the Castello road. This poses a significant threat to Al Nusra and its allies in Aleppo. 
If pro-government forces are able to cut off the Castello road, the militants will be besieged in the northeastern part of the city without any supplies.
Nonetheless, the recent attempts of pro-government forces, supported by Russian fighter jets, to develop momentum have not led to any gains yet. In turn, militants are consolidating efforts for a large counteroffensive to recapture the strategic area and defend the strategic supply line.
Also, FARS headlined their report that the SAA coalition had captured "over 60 percent of Al-Malaah [Mallah] Farms," which doesn't mean they'd "liberated" it as SouthFront reported, although it's possible the SouthFront report was filed hours after the FARS one.

As to SANA's report on the Battle for Castello Road -- Castello Road who? Nothing about Al-Malaah or Castello Road at the official Syrian government website as of 1:30 AM EDT on the battle -- indeed no mention of SAA operations in Aleppo.  However, they have a very nice sitrep (June 28) of fighting in regions other than Aleppo.  

To return to FARS, the Iranian site reported yesterday:

Syrian Army at Gates of Jamiat Al-Zahra Town in Aleppo

TEHRAN (FNA)- The Syrian army and popular forces advanced to the nearby areas of Jamiat al-Zahra town in Western Aleppo, a field source said.
"The Syrian army, supported by the Syrian and Russian fighter jets, advanced towards Jamiat al-Zahra town, the industrial centers and the road which links the Western Aleppo to Jamiat al-Zahra and the surroundings of the two towns of Qabtan al-Jabal and Dar al-Izza," the source said on Wednesday.
Noting that the Syrian troops have reached Rasoul Azam grand mosque, the source said that this region is the main target of the terrorist groups since it is the gate of Aleppo from the West and they make their upmost attempts to advance towards it.
The source added that the terrorist groups have made efforts to advance towards Jamiat al-Zahra town by special operations, blowing up a tunnel and destroying several buildings in Western Aleppo but their attempts were foiled by the army and popular forces.
In a relevant development in Aleppo, the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) continued to advance against the ISIL in the Southwestern districts of the town of Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo, capturing more strategic centers in the town, SDF's spokesman said Wednesday.
"The SDF, mainly comprising of Kurdish fighters, beat the ISIL back from Manbij traffic police building after hours of on non-stop clashes," Shirwan Darvish said, adding, "The SDF fighter, meantime, entered two neighborhoods of al-Karameh and al-Hazaweneh."
He further added that the SDF fighters are now engaged in fierce clashes with the ISIL.  [END REPORT]
******** 

Documents found in N.E. Aleppo document Turkish support for Islamic State

"Certain elements linked to terrorists in Syria are still shipping weapons and supplying their logistics from Turkey," the Turkish-language daily, Karshi, cited a police report to the country's public prosecutor about its operations in the city of Diyarbakir.

June 29, 2016 - 3:39 (local time)
FARS

TEHRAN (FNA)- Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have found a series of documents in the Russian language in a newly-liberated position in Manbij in Northeastern Aleppo that prove close cooperation of the ISIL [Islamic State] with Turkish traders, informed sources said Wednesday.

"As soon as capturing and cleansing Manbij silos, the SDF fighters found the house of a senior Russian commander of the ISIL," the sources said, adding, "The SDF found further a series of secret documents including bill[s] of lading, proforma invoice[s] and other financial documents that show the ISIL had imported a large number of items from Turkey."

"Based on these documents the Turkish trading company of Anvar Kargo Firma in Gaziantep was involved in exports of various kinds of goods to the ISIL-held regions in Syria," the sources went on to say.

"[The documents also show] that Anvar company had been exporting its cargoes to the ISIL-held city of Mosul in Iraq," they further added.

The secret reports of the Turkish police indicated on Tuesday that the Al-Nusra Front and ISIL terrorists used Turkey's both legal and illegal border crossings to transfer weapons and ammunition to Syria.

"Certain elements linked to terrorists in Syria are still shipping weapons and supplying their logistics from Turkey," the Turkish-language daily, Karshi, cited a police report to the country's public prosecutor about its operations in the city of Diyarbakir.

The newspaper [also reported] that certain communities ... provided financial support for the terrorists fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

The daily also said the Al-Nusra and ISIL terrorist groups established bases in Turkey to train recruits, adding that many explosive devices were even manufactured and assembled on Turkish soil.

[END REPORT]    

Wednesday, June 29

Everybody's pointing at Islamic State for the Ataturk airport attack. Except Gregory Copley.

Listen carefully to Gregory Copley's explanation as he fingered a Kurdish resistance group as the perp. And while he didn't come right out and say that Obama is trying to -- er. rehabilitate Erdogan or at least clean up his image for the upcoming NATO summit, I think it's clear from the discussion that this is what Obama is intent on doing. 

Well if that is indeed the case Gregory Copley made clear to John Batchelor's radio audience that it's not working. Woe betide Europe and Russia and the Middle East, Erdogan is incorrigible.  

********

Tuesday, June 28

Just found: Youssou N'Dour's rousing musical tribute to Doudou N'Diaye Rose



Uh oh, Moon of Alabama not drinking its Kool-Aid

Well that's one way to avoid barfing while reading a NYT report.

From the irrepressible b at MoA:

"Jordan Bad," Officials Tell NYT - Pressure For A New Southern Front Attack?

U.S. officials called up the New York Times. They requested to send two reporters to take down dictation. The reporters dutifully stenographed what they were told and copied it into some publishable format.

The main purpose of the story seems to be to blame the Jordan intelligence service that CIA supplied weapons for "Syrian rebels" are ending up in weapon markets and with the Islamic State.

But the officials are also giving a limited hangout, confirming some already known facts to obfuscate and hide others. The reporters never bother to explain that to their readers. They leave all major assertions unchallenged even while those contradict reports already in the public record. "Why confuse the reader with facts?" they might have thought.

Thus we now read that Jordanian intelligence people "stole" weapons the CIA intended to deliver to "moderate" Syrian rebels. Jordan intelligence "sold" those on the "black market". Unfortunately some of these weapons have recently been used against U.S. CIA contractors.

You see, the always bumbling empire and its incompetent CIA never-ever manage to do something right. They have all these good intentions but always make these stupid mistakes like losing arms that then somehow end up with the Islamic State and other Jihadis. Whatever the U.S. does, any negative consequences are -by definition- unplanned or done by some other bad actors.

That weapons for "moderate rebels" end up and are sold to by Jihadis, even on Facebook, was predictable from the get-go and has been known for a long time. It is not a Jordanian problem.

Other myths the piece tries to plant include:
  • the CIA only started to train Syrian rebels and to deliver weapon to them in 2013
  • the weapons all came from eastern Europe via some Gulf countries
  • those U.S. dependent Gulf countries were acting randomly and only since 2013 did the CIA, thankfully, take the lead and set things straight
  • the Jordan state lets the officers who systematically "stole" weapons keep their pensions and the profits from the deal because that's what that weird Jordan state does
There has been quite a bit of reporting that contradicts those fairy tales:
  • the international operations rooms to coordinate the Syrian rebels in Turkey and Jordan started in 2012
  • the CIA supervised smuggling of weapons from Libya to Syria in 2011/12
  • the Gulf countries depend in the U.S. for their intelligence and defense; they do not "go rogue" unnoticed and unchallenged unless it is in U.S. interests
  • no state, not even Jordan, will pamper officers who "stole" and sold weapons if these deeds were against orders and the interests of the state
An open question is why this story was created now. It provides some limited hangouts but its real purpose seems to be to plant the story "Jordan officer stole weapons that killed U.S. people" which makes Jordan look bad. The NYT report was written in collaboration with the Qatari outlet Al Jazeerah.

There are doubts in Jordan that continuing the war against Syria is in its interest. A vehicle used in a recent suicide bombing against a Jordanian border station was earlier officially given to "moderate" Syrian rebels. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. Jordan cannot expect anything good from a continuing war and wants to wind it down.

So was this story planted to put pressure on Jordan to again change its mind? Does it convey U.S. and Qatari pressure to renew a "Southern Front", which has been quiet for a while, and for a new rebel attack from Jordan against Damascus?

Don't bet on the NYT stenographers to answer such questions.

[END ANALYSIS]

Breaking News: Two explosions and gunfire reported at Ataturk Airport UPDATED 4:10, 4:24, 4:38, 4:35, 5:18, 5:23, 7:10, 8:15, 9:25 PM EDT

UPDATE 9:25 PM
Latest report from CBS news website; verbal report from CBS correspondent J.J. Green on WTOP local 9 PM news -- One American killed in the bombing. This isn't (yet) posted at the CBS website.  

UPDATE 8:15 PM
The death toll has changed again, with the current confirmed number at 36.   

UPDATE 7:10 PM 
Latest on Ataturk Airport bombings - "nearly" 50 dead, 60 wounded (NYT) although RT live updates page is now reporting "at least" 50 dead and "100+ injured."  

Exactly what happened is still unclear -- conflicting reports from major media but the gist is that airport police spotted two or three people acting suspiciously on their way to the security x-ray check-in line and when they approached the group the terrorists opened fire with automatic weapons with police returning fire.  At some point in the melee one detonated a suicide vest and another who fled detonated his vest in the car park or just outside the terminal. But there are unconfirmed reports of more than two blasts (see below RT report) and up to four terrorists or more could still be at large.  

Right now authorities are leaning toward Islamic State as the perp rather than Kurdish insurgents.

See my earlier updates [below] for more details.

From RT:

28 June 2016
  • 22:52 GMT
    Traveler Laurence Cameron described what he saw when he stepped off a plane at Ataturk to CNN.
    "It was just a massive crowd of screaming people. Some were falling over themselves. A poor chap in a wheelchair was just left, and everyone just rushed to the back of the building, and then people ran the other way and no one really seemed to know what was going on," he said. "Where you normally hail a taxi, that is where the attack happened. The ground is just kind of shredded. There is bloodstains on the floor as well."
  • 22:18 GMT
    One of the attackers "randomly opened fire" in the terminal building before the explosions, a witness told Reuters. There were two explosions, followed by more shooting, then a third explosion.
  • [...]

UPDATE 5:23 PM - From CNN report last updated 5:15 PM EDT
-- At least 28 people have been killed and 60 others wounded in the attack on Istanbul Ataturk Airport in Turkey, according to Turkey's semi-official news agency Anadolu. The report says six of the wounded are in a critical condition. A total of 49 ambulances were sent to the site.
-- Turkey's Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag earlier said at least 10 people were killed and 20 others injured. The two suicide bombers were also killed. Bozdag said one attacker "first opened fire with a Kalashnikov then detonated himself" at the airport entrance.
    -- In total two bombs exploded. One of them was located just outside the terminal on the pavement, the other was at the security gate at the entrance to the airport.
    -- Authorities said no bombs exploded within the airport building itself, according to the minister.
    -- A video posted to Twitter shows a view from a camera inside the airport terminal. A few dozen people are walking around when a bright flash and fireball erupt in the background.
    -- A Turkish official told CNN that police fired shots at suspects near the international terminal in an effort to neutralize them.
    -- Videos posted on social media show travelers sitting on the airport floor. A man shouts, "Get down! Get down!" Someone cries as a gunshot rings out.
    -- Ataturk Airport is "one of the most secure airports in the world," CNN senior law enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes says. But the airport has been "very overwhelmed for several decades with terrorism from PKK."
    -- The U.S. embassy in Ankara, the Turkish capital, is sending consular officers to the airport to account for any potential U.S. victims. But there are no indications of any American casualties at this point, a senior State Department official told CNN's Elise Labott.
    -- The attacks happened on a warm summer night at the airport, east of Istanbul, that is the 11th busiest in the world in terms of passenger traffic. CNN's Ali Veshi says it is a modern, sophisticated airport. "There are all of the major European and American boutiques there," said Velshi, who has traveled through Turkey many times. "... You see people of all shapes and colors, in all sorts of dress. If you want to target the cosmopolitan nature of Istanbul, this is possibly the most cosmopolitan, heavily populated part. You can target tourist areas, but this is the part where the world comes together."
    [...]
    UPDATE 5:18 PM - From verbal report on local WTOP newscast at 5:00 PM by J.J. Green CBS correspondent - 

    • at least 10 dead, at least 60 wounded.
    • Ataturk International Airport is "tenth or eleventh" busiest airport in the world.  Entire airport for both incoming and outgoing flights has been shut down.
    • U.S. State Dept officials checking on whether any Americans were harmed in the attack.
    • [one account of what happened] airport police noticed 2 men [or three] acting suspiciously at airport entrance, when they approached a third man joined them and the group opened fire, police returned fire.
    • 1 attacker then detonated suicide vest inside airport, another detonated in the car park area. 

    UPDATE 4:35 PM - From NBC News report filed 4:22 PM EDT


    [...] A person who works for a contractor inside the airport told NBC News that he saw three suicide bombers.
    The man, who identified himself as Omar, said he heard an explosion and then saw police jump on a man who then blew himself up. People then tried to stop another person who appeared to be wearing explosives.
    Another witness gave a similar account to NBC News, and said he heard a third explosion outside.
    One witness told national broadcaster TRT that he saw two attackers open fire and then blow themselves up as authorities responded at a security checkpoint outside the international terminal. At least one of the gunmen was armed with an AK-47, TRT said, quoting the justice minister.
    The account could not be immediately confirmed by NBC News.
    Video posted to social media purports to show travelers hiding in a store inside the airport amid the chaos: 
    [...]
    A senior U.S. counterterrorism official told NBC News the Istanbul attack "fits the ISIS profile, not PKK."
    "There are only two groups capable of carrying out such a large-scale attack. This does not fit the PKK profile, they go after Turkish targets, not international targets," the official said.
    "This is indiscriminate, which fits the ISIS profile," the official added.
    [...]
    UPDATE 4:30 PM
    From RT live updates 20:19 GMT entry: now Turkey's Justice Minister is saying 20 were wounded (not 40).  Still fog of war, conflicting reports. 

    UPDATE 4:24 PM EDT
    from reuters report filed 4:13 PM EDT

    • Broadcaster CNN Turk said Turkish officials suspected that suicide bombers were behind the attack but there was no official confirmation of this.
    • Pictures posted on social media from the site showed wounded people lying on the ground inside and outside one of the terminal buildings.
    • Ataturk is Turkey's largest airport and a major transport hub for international travelers. 
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-turkey-blast-idUSKCN0ZE2J1

    Update 4:10 PM EDT 

    RT television breaking news 4 PM EDT: attack happened around 10:15 PM local time; at least 2 of the explosions were terrorists detontating suicide bombs; some witnesses report gunfire was from airport security trying to stop suicide bombers. Four "gunmen" seen running from the scene. Turkish officials report at least 10 dead and at least 40 wounded.  

    From RT print report last edited time: 28 Jun, 2016 19:53

    At least two explosions have been reported at Istanbul’s Ataturk Airport. Many people have been wounded, according to Turkish media.

    The blasts occurred in the airport’s International Arrivals Terminal.

    A Turkish official confirmed to Reuters that two explosions have hit the airport. According to some Turkish media, the blasts were terrorist attacks targeting two separate locations in the airport.

    More than 40 people have been injured in explosions at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, broadcaster Haberturk reports.

    Many people caught in the blasts and near the airport posted photos and videos from the scene, showing the destruction caused by the explosions as well as people hiding in various places in search of safety.  [See RT website for some photos of the blast damage.]


    Gunfire was heard from the car park near the airport, CNN Turk reports, citing the witnesses. Four armed men were reportedly seen running away from the terminal building after the explosions, according to Turkey’s NTV channel.

    [END REPORT]

    Sputnik 22:24 - 28.06.2016

    A pair of explosions and gunfire have been reported at Istanbul's Ataturk airport.

    Taxis are reportedly carrying injured people away from the airport.
    [END REPORT]

    The Taliban is inside the White House, CIA and State Department

     REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
    “What may appear at first blush to be a lack of competence on behalf of the State Department now appears fully intentional and coordinated,” according to an exclusive copy of a part of the report that alleges the administration stonewalled Gowdy’s probe.
    [...]
    The panel also found that former senior officials in the defunct Qadhafi regime helped evacuate Americans to safety, a surprising finding given that the U.S. was backing the rebels fighting against the regime. The GOP committee staffer noted that the rebel forces State had worked to befriend did not come to the Americans’ aid.
    The quotes are from Politico's report today, Final Benghazi report details administration failures: The Clinton campaign dismissed the report as a partisan conspiracy theory.

    The final report runs 800 pages so it's unlikely that it will be read by many Americans; it's the same for a 51 page summary (pdf) including "additional views" of the report's conclusions by House Republicans Jim Jordan and Mike Pompeo. For Americans who can't be bothered with reading the summary either, here's The Federalist's 5 big takeaways from the summary. 

    The majority of Americans are psychologically incapable of facing what their government has become; this is particularly so for Americans who voted Barack Obama into the White House on the belief he would stop their government's strategy of using unrestricted warfare to achieve foreign policy goals.  

    All Obama did was find ways to conduct unrestricted warfare without using large numbers of American troops; that this included using thousands of U.S. mercenaries and foreign proxy fighters drawn from the most committed radicals and even terrorist groups -- this is something Americans who voted him into the White House a second time can't acknowledge because to do so means acknowledging the blood of innocents is on their hands. 

    How many innocents? Does it matter?  And would a President Romney have done things differently? It's something like the effect of crack cocaine, the ability to wield vast power over the lives of people without facing personal consequences when there are major screw-ups. It's highly addictive.  From Salon, June 10:
    The FBI has been conducting a criminal investigation into Hillary Clinton’s handling of classified information for months.

    An explosive new report reveals just what it is that the FBI is looking to: emails in which then-Secretary of State Clinton approved CIA drone assassinations in Pakistan with her cellphone.
    From 2011 on, the State Department had a secret arrangement with the CIA, giving it a degree of say over whether or not a drone killing would take place.
    The U.S. drone program has killed hundreds of civilians in Pakistan and other countries.
    Under Sec. Clinton, State Department officials approved almost every single proposed CIA drone assassination. They only objected to one or two attacks. [...]
    As to how the CIA and State Department came to supplant the U.S. military in Obama's method of unrestricted warfare, does it matter?

    From Jake Tapper's report for ABC News, October 10, 2012
    In a heated and dramatic congressional hearing today, witnesses who served with the U.S. diplomatic corps in Libya and pushed for a stronger security presence repeatedly faulted the State Department for standing in their way - one even referring to the State Department officials he described as obstructionist as if they were Taliban terrorists.

    The former regional security officer in Libya, Eric Nordstrom, recalled talking to a regional director and asking for twelve security agents.
    "His response to that was, 'You are asking for the sun, moon and the stars.' And my response to him - his name was Jim - 'Jim, you know what makes most frustrating about this assignment? It is not the hardships, it is not the gunfire, it is not the threats. It is dealing and fighting against the people, programs and personnel who are supposed to be supporting me.
    And I added [to] it by saying, 'For me the Taliban is on the inside of the building.'"
    Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Wood, the commander of a Security Support Team (SST) sent home in August - against his wishes and, he says, the wishes of the late Ambassador Chris Stevens - said "we were fighting a losing battle. We couldn't even keep what [security] we had."
    Nordstrom agreed, saying, "it was abundantly clear we were not going to get resources until the aftermath of an incident. And the question that we would ask is again, 'How thin does the ice need to get until someone falls through?'"

    As an example, earlier Nordstrom had said he was "specifically told, 'You can't request an SST extension.' How I interpreted that was there was going to be too much political cost." [...]
    Photo credit: REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

    ********

    Monday, June 27

    UK electoral commission: no legal authority for petition for second Brexit referendum vote

    June 27, 2016
    Sputnik

    The United Kingdom's Electoral Commission has told Sputnik that the petition to have a re-run of the referendum on Britain's membership of the European Union has no legal authority.

    The petition — which had garnered more than 3.7 million signatures by Monday (June 27) — calls "upon HM Government to implement a rule that, if the Remain or Leave vote is less than 60 percent based on a turnout less than 75 percent, there should be another referendum." 
    The petition was originally started by a campaigner for the Leave group, William Oliver Healey, in May, when it appeared that the Remain group was leading the polls. However, he has said it has now been hijacked by the Remain group, unhappy at the outcome.
    Sputnik asked the Electoral Commission if there was any such law or rule that suggested another referendum could be called if turnout did not reach 75 percent or that the vote is less that 60 percent.
    A spokeswoman for the commission confirmed to Sputnik that "there is no such threshold in referendum legislation."
    The petition has already passed the 100,000 mark, triggering a government debate on the issue, but is being investigated by parliamentary authorities, after it was discovered that 77,000 signatures were fraudulent, with many coming from the Cayman Island, Iceland and Tunisia.

    The Vatican — with a population of just 800 — returned more than 39,000 signatures. 
    Fraudulent Signatures
    Helen Jones, the chair of the petitions committee, said:

    "The Government Digital Service are taking action to investigate and, where necessary, remove fraudulent signatures. People adding fraudulent signatures to this petition should know that they undermine the cause they pretend to support.
    "It is clear that this petition is very important to a substantial number of people. The petitions committee will be considering the petition at its meeting next week, and will decide whether or not to schedule a debate on it." 
    Although the many non-fraudulent signatures exceed the trigger point of 100,000 for a parliamentary debate, this [does not mean] politicians in the Houses of Parliament will actually do anything about it. 
    [...]
    *********

    Erdogan apologizes to Putin for death of Russian pilot

    It looks as if Ankara is fulfilling all the demands from Moscow about what it would take to normalize relations between Turkey and Russia. The three major demands are an official apology including acknowledgment of responsibility, reparations for the family of the murdered pilot, and bringing criminal charges against the person(s) responsible for the murder. That last is a tall order but from the RT report (below) Ankara is scaring up at least one sacrificial lamb.  

    From an RT 'breaking news' television report within this hour, it sounds as if Erdogan's regime has shifted the blame for the Russian jet's downing to Davutoğlu, who is now gone from the regime. In any case Ankara is moving with alacrity to mend fences with Moscow.   

    Here's analysis of the apology from Russia Today (RT) and Reuters.

    ********

    Fast and Furious transplanted to CIA screwing around in Syria

    CIA "running arms smuggling team in Benghazi when consulate was attacked"
    The CIA has been subjecting operatives to monthly polygraph tests in an attempt to suppress details of a reported US arms smuggling operation in Benghazi that was ongoing when its ambassador was killed by a mob in the city last year, according to reports.
    Hey, that's the wrong report; that one's from 2013. This is the report: 

    C.I.A. Arms for Syrian Rebels Supplied Black Market, Officials Say
    By MARK MAZZETTI and ALI YOUNES
    JUNE 26, 2016
    The New York Times

    AMMAN, Jordan — Weapons shipped into Jordan by the Central Intelligence Agency and Saudi Arabia intended for Syrian rebels have been systematically stolen by Jordanian intelligence operatives and sold to arms merchants on the black market, according to American and Jordanian officials.
    Some of the stolen weapons were used in a shooting in November that killed two Americans and three others at a police training facility in Amman, F.B.I. officials believe after months of investigating the attack, according to people familiar with the investigation.
    The existence of the weapons theft, which ended only months ago after complaints by the American and Saudi governments, is being reported for the first time after a joint investigation by The New York Times and Al Jazeera. The theft, involving millions of dollars of weapons, highlights the messy, unplanned consequences of programs to arm and train rebels — the kind of program the C.I.A. and Pentagon have conducted for decades — even after the Obama administration had hoped to keep the training program in Jordan under tight control.
    The Jordanian officers who were part of the scheme reaped a windfall from the weapons sales, using the money to buy expensive SUVs, iPhones and other luxury items, Jordanian officials said.
    The theft and resale of the arms — including Kalashnikov assault rifles, mortars and rocket-propelled grenades — have led to a flood of new weapons available on the black arms market. Investigators do not know what became of most of them, but a disparate collection of groups, including criminal networks and rural Jordanian tribes, use the arms bazaars to build their arsenals. Weapons smugglers also buy weapons in the arms bazaars to ship outside the country.Continue reading the main story
    The F.B.I. investigation into the Amman shooting, run by the bureau’s Washington field office, is continuing. But American and Jordanian officials said the investigators believed that the weapons a Jordanian police captain, Anwar Abu Zaid, used to gun down two American contractors, two Jordanians and one South African had originally arrived in Jordan intended for the Syrian rebel-training program.
    The officials said this finding had come from tracing the serial numbers of the weapons.
    [At that point I threw up so I don't know whether the reporters ask whether the CIA had any tracking protocols in place]
    ********

    Sunday, June 26

    Assad breaks bread with frontline troops: "Best meal I've ever had in my entire life"

    One of the pix AMN posted on the surprise visit



    In pictures: Syria’s Assad makes daring visit to Ghouta frontline
    By Zen Adra
    26/06/2016
    AMN

    Syrian President Bashar Assad made a surprising – and equally adventurous – visit to a raging battlefield deep in the rebel-held Eastern Ghouta. Army soldiers fighting Islamist rebels in Kharabo village near Marj al-Sultan military airbase were struck to see their leader in simple casual clothes touring the trenches.

    Assad shared Iftar meal with his Republican Guard soldiers after being briefed about the military situation by field commanders.

    “This is the best meal I have ever had in my entire life”, he commented.

    Assad has previously made such controversial visits to Army troops fighting Islamist rebels in Homs, Darayya and Jobar.

    [END REPORT]

    Fallujah 'fully liberated' from ISIS

    Gah, there's not much left to liberate but congratulations anyway to Iraqi coalition

    .(AP Photo/Hadi Mizban) (The Associated Press)

    "From the center of al-Julan neighborhood, we congratulate the Iraqi people and the commander in chief ... and declare that the Fallujah fight is over," al-Saadi told Iraqi state TV, flanked by troops.

    Iraqi commander: Fallujah 'fully liberated' from ISIS
    by Associated Press
    June 26, 2016

    Five weeks after a military operation began, a senior Iraqi commander declared Sunday that the city of Fallujah was "fully liberated" from the Islamic State group, giving a major boost to the country's security and political leadership in its fight against the extremists.

    Recapturing Fallujah, the first city to fall to the Islamic State group more than two years ago, means that authorities can now set their sights on militant-held Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city.
    Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, visiting central Fallujah with the celebrating troops, vowed that the Iraqi flag would next be raised above Mosul. But that campaign has been progressing in fits and starts, revealing the deep divisions among the different groups that make up the security forces.
    Iraqi troops entered Fallujah's northwestern neighborhood of al-Julan, the last part of the city under IS control, said Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, head of the counterterrorism forces in the operation.
    The operation, which began May 22, "is done, and the city is fully liberated," al-Saadi told The Associated Press.
    [...]
    *******

    Meanwhile, Voltaire Network comes up with conspiracy theory about Brexit

    Consider the source, but given the mayhem over there in the U.K. nothing would surprise me at this point. However, VN might be a little behind the fast-moving events, which today are pointing to a second British referendum vote given the first one didn't turn out to Brussels' liking.

    The White House and NATO prepare the sabotage of Brexit
    VOLTAIRE NETWORK | 25 JUNE 2016


    Leaving the European Union, the UK ends its "special relationship" with the United States. But London is also a member of the agreement of the "Five Eyes" from the Atlantic Charter and co-founder of NATO (the British share all information concerning the Stay Behind network). Releasing the UK therefore means the collapse of the entire Anglo-Saxon system of world domination.

    The National Security Council of the United States has developed a plan to secure the UK to Atlantic structures. It was decided to do everything to prevent the Downing Street appointment of the Conservative Brexit leader, Boris Johnson, and to promote a "consensus" personality able to "reconcile" the British. This personality would negotiate the terms of the exit from the European Union. For its part, the Union would propose to replace the current agreements with almost identical provisions. Following this process, the United Kingdom would have lost his seat on the European Council, but would remain de facto in the Common Market.

    President Obama has appointed the German Chancellor Angela Merkel to conduct operations within the EU and George Osborne, the current number two of the Government to organize the ’consensus’ in the UK. Already, Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to resign before the US presidential election, while the Scottish Executive and the European press highlight the risk of secession to justify the call for a "consensus personality. "

    The European Council was convened by the President of the Union, Donald Tusk, June 29, in the presence of the Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg.

    [END REPORT]

    Political mayhem in U.K. as Corbyn counter-coup against Benn triggers mass resignations

    Hilary Benn simply wasn't fast enough; Corbyn beat him to the punch. But now things are -- very unsettled.  The Telegraph is live-blogging the mayhem right this moment. 

    EU referendum Labour crisis: Jeremy Corbyn to hold crisis talks with Tom Watson as Hilary Benn coup triggers ten resignations - with more expected to follow
    By Laura Hughes, political correspondent, Barney HendersonRob Crilly
    26 JUNE 2016 • 9:15PM
    The Telegraph
    9:25 PM The hokey cokey

    Just published: front page of the Financial Times, international edition, Monday 27 Jun epic.twitter.com/5bzlh0CvKu— Financial Times (@FT) June 26, 2016

    9:13 PM - Day of Turmoil in Labour Party: Jeremy Corbyn's leadership has been plunged into crisis as a string of shadow ministers quit Labour's top team saying they had no confidence in his ability to win a general election.

    Karl Turner became the latest senior figure to announce he could no longer work with the Labour leader following criticism of Mr Corbyn's "lacklustre" anti-Brexit campaign.

    He was the eleventh shadow minister to quit or be sacked in 24 hours.

    The party's deputy leader Tom Watson said he was to hold emergency talks with Mr Corbyn on Monday to "discuss the way forward" after ten members of the shadow cabinet announced they were resigning - with more expected to follow.

    [...]

    *****
     Lots and lots more in the report for those who can't get enough mayhem.

    See also

    BBC 6/26: Brexit: Hilary Benn sacked as Corbyn faces 'no confidence' pressure

    CNN 6/25: Brexit: EU leaders demand quick UK exit as economic fallout grows

    ********


    The attempt to reverse Brexit vote

    In what passes for democracy in the European Union, the government keeps calling for a vote until the vote comes out right. Which is to say there are very powerful forces now seeking to reverse the Brexit vote.   

    "In law, the UK could change its mind before withdrawal from the EU and decide to stay in after all." 

    To Brexit or Regrexit? A dis-United Kingdom ponders turmoil of EU divorce
    LONDON | By GUY FAULCONBRIDGE
    June 26, 2016 - 3:20 PM EDT

    Reuters

    To leave, or not to leave: that is the question. Still.

    After Britain's historic vote to leave the European Union, there is no indication that a so-called Brexit will happen soon. It maybe never will.

    Prime Minister David Cameron, who is resigning, has said he will not take the formal step to an EU divorce on the grounds that his successor should. Because the referendum is not legally-binding, some politicians are suggesting a parliament vote before formally triggering Brexit.

    A petition on the UK government's website on holding a second referendum has gained more than 3 million signatories in just two days.

    European leaders, facing the biggest threat to European unity since World War Two, are divided over how swiftly divorce talks should start. Paris wants haste and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is urging patience. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said he wanted to "start immediately".

    And on Sunday, Scotland's leader said Scotland may veto Brexit altogether. Under devolution rules, the parliaments of Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales are required to consent to any EU divorce, according to a report by the House of Lords.

    Most British politicians agree such a decisive 52-48 win for Leave in the referendum means a divorce must happen. Anything less would be a slap in the face of democracy.

    "The will of the British people is an instruction that must be delivered," a choking Cameron said in his resignation speech, which marked the most tumultuous end to a British premiership since Anthony Eden resigned in 1957 after the Suez crisis.

    Still, the upswell of chatter - #regrexit is trending big on twitter - over whether Britain might be able to reconsider speaks to the disbelief gripping this continent in the wake of a vote that has unleashed financial and political mayhem.

    Sterling has plunged, and Britain's political parties are both crippled. Cameron is a lameduck leader, and the main opposition Labour party on Sunday attempted a coup against its leader, with nine top officials resigning.

    "The kaleidoscope has been shaken up not just in terms of our relationship with the EU but in terms of who runs our parties, who governs the country and what the country is made up of," said Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics and Foreign Affairs at King's College London.

    "It is very hard to see where the pieces are."

    ARTICLE 50


    The law provisioning an EU member country's exit from the union is Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty that is effectively the EU's constitution. It has never been invoked before.

    Before the vote, Cameron had said Article 50 would be triggered straight away if Britain voted to leave. Over the weekend, several EU officials also said the UK needed to formally split right away - possibly at a Tuesday EU meeting.

    But officials of the Leave campaign - including former London mayor Boris Johnson - are stepping on the brakes. They say they want to negotiate Britain's post-Brexit relationship with the EU before formally pulling the trigger to divorce.

    European officials and observers say such a deal is unlikely, especially considering the thorny issues involved.

    For example, it is unlikely that the EU would grant Britain access to the single market - key to allowing Britain trade goods and services in the EU - without London accepting the free movement of EU workers. But the biggest issue for those who voted to leave the bloc was limits on immigration - something the Leave campaigners promised.

    DIVIDED UK

    On Sunday, a petition to call for a second referendum was gaining supporters, reaching 3.3 million signatories by the afternoon. David Lammy, a lawmaker for the opposition Labour Party, said it was within parliament's powers to call a second referendum and urged that it be done.

    Perhaps the most vocal resistance to a British exit is coming from Scotland.

    Scotland, a nation of five million people, voted to stay in the EU by 62 to 38 percent, compared to the 54 percent in England who voted to leave.

    Under the United Kingdom's complex arrangements to devolve some powers to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, legislation generated in London to set off an EU divorce would have to gain consent from the three devolved parliaments, according to a report by the House of Lords' European Union Committee.

    Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon told the BBC on Sunday that she would consider urging the Scottish parliament to block such a motion. It is not clear, however, whether such a scenario would ever materialize or be binding. Sturgeon's spokesman later said that the British government might not seek consent in the first place.

    Moreover, Sturgeon is simply laying out the groundwork for a new referendum on Scottish independence from the United Kingdom --something the first minister said was "highly likely."

    WITHDRAWAL

    While there is no precedent for Article 50, the House of Lords has discussed how any Brexit would work. In May, it published a report after consultations with legal experts.

    In the report, Derrick Wyatt, one of the professors involved, said that while it would be politically difficult, the law allows the UK to change its mind after invoking Article 50.

    "In law, the UK could change its mind before withdrawal from the EU and decide to stay in after all," said Wyatt.

    (Editing by Alessandra Galloni)

    [END REPORT]

    Saturday, June 25

    The Big Canadian Business of War

    Foreign Policy Hypocrisy: Canada Becomes Second-Largest Weapons Exporter To Middle East
    By Kit O'Connell
    June 24, 2016
    MintPress

    "[E]verybody knows that there is rank hypocrisy right at the core of U.S. foreign policy but I don't think everybody knows that about Canada," one anti-war activist said.

    OTTAWA — Despite its reputation as our less war-inclined neighbor to the north, Canada has become second only to the United States in weapons exports to the Middle East.
    The increase in military equipment and weapons sales was noted by IHS Jane’s in its annual “Global Defence Trade Report,” published June 13 by IHS, Inc., a corporate data analysis think tank.
    “Canada is the second-largest exporter of defence equipment to the Middle East with $2.7 billion in sales, moving the UK down the table to fourth place, just behind France,” IHS reported in a press release.
    Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against Arms Trade told Sputnik News on June 16 that the report suggests Canada is undeSserving of its nonviolent reputation:
    “The Canadian Government is regarded as a more peaceful one than the US. It’s regarded as a more liberal one than the US, everybody knows that there is rank hypocrisy right at the core of US foreign policy but I don’t think everybody knows that about Canada,”
    Against the objections of some members of Parliament, Canadian-made arms have ended up in the hands of the Saudi-led coalition that’s waging a brutal war in Yemen which has killed thousands of civilians, many of them children, and left thousands more at risk of starvation.
    Watch “NDP’s Hélène Laverdière on Canadian arms exports to Saudi Arabia” from Hélène Laverdière: [See Mint Press website]
    According to the IHS report, defense equipment sales are up worldwide, hitting a record-breaking $65 billion in 2015. At $21.6 billion in imports, the Middle East received the lion’s share of that materiel.
    “The global defence trade market has never seen an increase as large as the one we saw between 2014 and 2015,” said Ben Moores, senior analyst at IHS, in the company’s press release.
    Jane’s and IHS reported that Saudi Arabia is the top recipient of imported arms and equipment, receiving $9.3 billion in military equipment in 2015. The Gulf kingdom has imported $36 billion in defense equipment over the last decade, making it the world’s top arms importer during that period, and it’s expected to import another $10 billion in arms this year.
    Canada’s arms and military equipment sales reached new heights under Conservative Party Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who forged a number of deals with Saudi Arabia, including a $15 billion sale of armored vehicles that’s opposed by most CanadiansArms exports increased 89 percent under Harper, according to a January analysis by iPolitics.
    But despite sometimes speaking out against war, Harper’s successor, Liberal Party Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, refused to back down from the armored vehicle deal.
    Smith told Sputnik that Saudi Arabia is “one of the most brutal, violent oppressive dictatorships in the entire world.”
    He also warned that Canada’s arms sales aren’t just a financial concern, but suggest the country’s implicit backing for the Gulf kingdom’s repressive rulers.
    “Canada isn’t just selling these countries weapons, it is also sending them a message of political support,” he said.
    Watch “The Canadian Business of War: CANSEC” from Motherboard:






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