The five-year Syrian civil war, faces its most critical moment. Saturday, Feb. 6, a combined force of Syrian army and Hizballah troops and an Iraqi Shiite militia under Iranian officers, were led by Russian air and Spetsnaz (special forces) officers into pressing forward to encircle 35,000 rebels trapped in Aleppo, the country’s largest city. As they tightened the siege, 400,000 Syrian civilians were also trapped and forced to bear heavy Russian air bombardment and savage artillery fire from the ground forces closing in on the city.
Rebel supply routes were cut off Thursday and Friday when Syrian and Hizballah forces captured the Azaz Corridor connecting Aleppo and all of the northern province of Idlib to the Turkish border.
Tens of thousands of refugees fleeing from the beleaguered town are massing at Bab al-Salama, the last Turkish border crossing to be closed against them. This is the largest Syrian refugee exodus since the start of the civil war.
The rebels under siege are painfully short of weaponry for fighting off the massive, combined offensive, DEBKAfile’s military sources report. Their only remaining recourse is to surrender or be ground into submission as the conquering force knocks over their positions and takes over street after street.
Once the combined forces fighting with Bashar Assad’s army take Aleppo and northern Syria, the opposition will have suffered its heaviest defeat since the war began. The rebels groups’ capacity to continue fighting the regime will be gravely diminished.
Their desperate plight - and the fresh surge of Syrian refugees in unmanageable numbers – cut short the conference in Geneva for a settlement of the Syrian conflict, before it got underway – and prompted reactions from sponsors of rebel groups.
In Riyadh, Brig, Gen. Ahmed Asiri, adviser to Saudi Defense Minister Muhammed Bin Salman, announced Friday that Saudi Arabia is ready “to participate in any ground operations that the international coalition launches against ISIS.” This offer was taken as a veiled response to the SOS from the rebel stronghold in Aleppo.
In Washington, State Department circles, in a briefing to US media, said the time had come to establish a no-fly security zone in northern Syria. They said: “Once a zone were established we do not believe Russia would challenge the stronger US and NATO forces, particularly if they were operating mainly from Turkey.”
The next day, Friday, Moscow came back with a sharp response: Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said: “Russian air defense systems enable early detection of threats to Russian aircraft flying combat missions over Syria and provide adequate measures to ensure flight safety.”
This was a reminder of the sophisticated air defense S-400 and S-300 missile systems Russia installed at its Syrian air base after the Turkish air force downed a Russian warplane in November.
Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem put it more crudely: “Any foreign troops entering Syria would return home in wooden coffins.”
He advised armed opposition groups fighting the government offensive in the area to lay down their weapons because, he said, “government advances signal that the five-year-old Syria war is nearing its end.”
Saturday, US Secretary of State John Kerry urged Russia to implement a ceasefire in Syria, saying its bombing campaign was killing women and children in large numbers and "has to stop." He told reporters on his return from a trip to Europe: "Russia has indicated to me very directly they are prepared to do a ceasefire,” adding "The Iranians confirmed in London just a day and a half ago they will support a ceasefire now."
DEBKAfile’s military sources have seen no sign of any ceasefire or even a slowdown in the Russian-led Syrian-Iranian Aleppo offensive.
DEBKAfile’s military sources have seen no sign of any ceasefire or even a slowdown in the Russian-led Syrian-Iranian Aleppo offensive.
More than 300 members of the al-Nusra Front terrorist group were killed in clashes near the Syrian city of Retyan in the Aleppo province.
The death of the militants occurred as a result of heavy fighting near the city of Retyan in the province of Aleppo, a source told TV channel Al-Mayadin under condition of anonymity.
"The militants have confirmed the death of 300 al-Nusra Front in the battle for Retyan in the north of Aleppo," the channel reported, citing the source as saying.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is facing increasing pressure as voters are doubtful that the government is able to tackle the refugee crisis.
But now "she lost contact with reality. And this is always something very dangerous," Hoffmann said in an exclusive interview with Radio Sputnik. "Anyone who dares to speak differently is being kicked out".
"Basically this is a typical mistake of people who get to powerful," the expert said.
Recent studies revealed that in the worst case scenario Germany is expected to spend about 50 billion euros for refugees annually. Thus, spending for health care, accommodation, language courses and other expenses related to the migrants' inflow may reach an unprecedented level by the beginning of the next year.
According to the expert, Merkel's stance towards migrants could negatively affect the prospects of her party to win the next elections, as many voters will support other factions out of frustration.
Regarding Merkel's pressure on other states to take in refugees, Hoffmann said that it contradicts the democratic principles, which the EU is based on.
Looking at numerous and often contradicting statements that world leaders make about the ongoing conflict in Syria and the fight against ISIL sometimes even an experienced analyst would struggle to discern what is really happening in the Middle East.
Last week we witnessed a veritable barrage of such statements made by various parties against the backdrop of the failed Geneva talks that were aimed at bringing peace to the country that has been suffering a bloody conflict against Islamists for five long years. In fact, the actual negotiations haven’t even started despite the best efforts of the United Nations special envoy for the Syria crisis Staffan de Mistura, since the High Negotiations Committee (HNC) members decided that they would be better off heeding the belligerence of their masters in Riyadh.
The reason for these actions is clear – the successful offensive of Syrian troops both in the north (Aleppo) and south (Daraa), has made it possible to cut radical militants from their supporters in Washington, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey. Under these preconditions, the negotiations would be nothing more than the acknowledgement of the fact that the so-called opposition has means to achieve a military victory, which would have forced it to follow the road of political compromise that was proposed by Russia, which could allow Syria to preserve its government institutions, while opening a way for democratic reform.
These Western “partners”, primarily the United States and the globalists of the Bilderberg group couldn’t allow this to happen as in this case they would be presented with a rather unpleasant perspective: Russia, which stands behind the recent successes of the Syrian armed forces, would finally achieve a major objective – the defeat of all terrorist forces and the restoration of peace and Syria’s territorial integrity at the same time. This would be the end of the civil war in Syria, which would jeopardize the entire hegemonic concept of induced regime changes that the West tested in Serbia back in 90s and has been using extensively during the events of the so-called “Arab Spring” in 2010-2014.
If the US would lose this tool of perpetuating its “exceptionalism” which has so far allowed it to bring down unwanted governments worldwide, Washington would be forced to admit that the world has finally become multipolar, and the era of American domination on the international stage was all but over. What’s even more important is that the international community would be returned to the Westphalian system of national sovereignty, bringing back the concept of checks and balances, with Russia playing one of the key roles as a “balancer”.
Certain representatives of globalist circles, such as Henry Kissinger, are clearly aware of this fact. It’s no coincidence that in the day of radical change on Syrian fronts, Henry Kissinger visited Moscow and met with Vladimir Putin, giving a lengthy interview afterward to the National Interest:
“Many commentators, both Russian and American, have rejected the possibility of the U.S. and Russia working cooperatively on a new international order. In their view, the United States and Russia have entered a new Cold War.
The danger today is less a return to military confrontation than the consolidation of a self-fulfilling prophecy in both countries. The long-term interests of both countries call for a world that transforms the contemporary turbulence and flux into a new equilibrium which is increasingly multipolar and globalized.. “
In the emerging multipolar world, Kissinger notes, Russia should be seen as a key element of a global equilibrium, but not as a threat to the United States.
What we have witnessed then was a major shift in the rhetoric of British diplomats. The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs Philip Hammond has virtually changed his position overnight, going from condemning Russia one day to saying that the “key role” in Syria belongs to Moscow the other.
And now, in the light of Russia’s triumphant return to the Middle East, British think tanks are doing all they can to find ways for the US to beat Moscow in the burning sands of the Middle East, while staying safely behind its “Big Brother”.
But it turns out that they failed to come up with any new plans aside from the proposition to accelerate the ongoing US policy of reformatting the region which began with the defeat of Saddam Hussein. The main goal of this policy is to divide the Middle East into weak, failed states, that would be fully dependent on Washington.
On January 30th the United States committed a deliberate act of aggression against China when it sent the guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur within the 12 nautical mile territorial limit of one of the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea. The islands are claimed historically by China, though Vietnam also has filed claims to the islands under the Law of the Sea Convention. The Americans state that Taiwan also claims the islands but since Taiwan is just a province of China I will ignore that claim here.
The Chinese have the superior historical and present claim and the islands have long been administered by China. Chinese forces, either Kuomintang or communist, have occupied them since 1946. The Chinese have both civilian and military facilities located on the largest of them, Woody Island, including a hospital, a bank schools, an airport, a seaport and a town hall and have built a large sea port on Duncan Island. The islands are also popular with Chinese tourists.
Nonetheless, the point is that the United States recognises that all nations are entitled to claim a 12 nautical mile territorial limit as China claims over the Paracel Islands. Even if the competing claim by Vietnam was valid the limit still applies. Yet the Americans now arrogantly claim that they can go where they please and do as they like and that these limits do not apply with respect to these islands, or, in fact, to any Chinese borders.
The American government, as reported by CNN, stated that it sent its war ship into the 12-mile limit to challenge “excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the US and others.” Who the others are was not stated. The statement was absurd on its face since no nation can send its war ships into another nations 12-mile limit without permission of that nation. To do so is considered a hostile act, an act of war.
The American government and media bragged about the fact that “neither China, nor Vietnam was notified of their (US) intention to send their war ship inside the 12 mile limit.” The only right foreign ships, and in particular foreign military vessels, have to pass inside the 12 mile limit is in a case of “innocent passage” that is when a ship is merely transiting the area and it must be with the permission of that nation. But no war ship can pass inside territorial waters in a show of power or for any hostile reason whatsoever. But this is exactly what the American ship did, crossed into Chinese territory with hostile intent.
So, while the Americans blow hard about complying with international law it is they who, once again, vigorously violate it. The Chinese government has rightly and strongly protested this hostile act. Foreign Ministry spokesman, Lu Kang, stated the next day that the “United States is …pursuing maritime hegemony in the name of “freedom,” which was opposed by all developing countries and added that the American action was “both dangerous and irresponsible.”
The United States is pushing China to respond to its aggression but the Chinese have exercised a great deal of restraint over the years in the face of a series of American provocations from spy planes over-flying its air space to a series of naval exercises in the Pacific and South China Sea that are clearly aimed at China and are all part of America’s “pivot to the Pacific,” a shifting of the concentration of its military forces to confront China, in fact a preparation for war on China. The question is how far the Americans are willing to push.
For those not paying attention to the build up of fire-power by both Russia and China consider what we know. If we take a look at some of the technological advances these countries have made it is no wonder Dr. Roberts explained how Russia dominated the U.S. in Pentagon performed war games. Russia didn’t just beat the U.S., they did it sixteen times out of sixteen scenarios! You read that right, sixteen times the U.S. lost in Pentagon performed war games.
And the Grand-Daddy of them all, , is the Russian energy directed weapon that makes a mess of all things digital.
Few are yet willing to accept the harsh reality that the world has sunk back into crisis. The VIX ended the week at a somewhat elevated but non-crisis 23.38. Credit spreads have widened meaningfully but for the most part remain at a fraction of 2008 crisis levels. Indeed, markets remain hopeful that “whatever it takes” central banking is waiting in the wings to trigger rallies at the moment things turn disorderly. My view that crisis has reemerged is based on the analysis that de-risking/de-leveraging dynamics have reached a point of self-reinforcing momentum beyond the control of central bank policies. In short, The Adjustment Cycle has commenced and there’s little left at this point to hold it back.
A multi-decade Credit Bubble is coming to an end. The past seven years has amounted to an incredible blow-off top...Importantly, global financial and economic imbalances – already unmatched by 2008 – went to even more precarious extremes.
Bubbles inflate both perceived wealth and future expectations. Meanwhile, in the real economy sphere, myriad Bubble facets work to destroy wealth. Mal-investment, over-investment and associated wealth destruction remain largely concealed so long as financial asset inflation persists. This is true as well for wealth redistribution. The unfolding adjustment process will deflate asset prices so as to converge more closely with deteriorating underlying economic fundamentals.
There’s a reasonable probability that global Credit growth is moving toward the weakest expansion in at least 60 years. U.S. Credit growth will be the weakest since at least 2009. And while Credit growth has slowed markedly in the U.S. over the past year, securities and asset prices (“perceived wealth”) over this period were bolstered by unprecedented international flows. “Money” has been fleeing China, EM, euro & yen devaluation, and the world more generally. At the same time, I suspect that hundreds of billions of leveraged speculative flows inundated “king dollar” U.S. securities markets.
Candidly, I don’t enjoy writing in these circumstances. It’s reminiscent of the buildup to the 2008 market crash. It wasn’t entirely clear how things would unfold back then, but I knew tens of millions would be badly hurt. Nowadays I fear for hundreds of millions, and the associated geopolitical… So far, the public hasn’t panicked. Why would anyone sell now when stocks always recover? The Adjustment Cycle is just getting underway.