Massenbach-Letter: NEWS 19.02.16

Massenbach-Letter. News – AlertàN24: Per Zug an die Grenze: Balkanländer vereinbaren Flüchtlingstransport Richtung Deutschland.

“Most of the stuff on television is low-grade rubbish.” John Kemp, Reuters

“The bandwidth to broadcast programmes has grown faster than the budget to create high-quality content ensuring television channels mostly feature repeats and low-cost junk. But occasionally there are programmes with deep insight.

Decadence and Downfall: the Shah of Iran’s Ultimate Party, broadcast on BBC Four on Feb 14, provides by far the best insight into modern Iran, with unrivalled archival footage, including contemporary interviews with the Shah and his ministers, as well as footage from the extraordinary party held at Persepolis in 1971 to celebrate the 2,500th anniversary of Cyrus the Great.

“O Cyrus, great King, King of Kings, Achaemenian King, King of the land of Iran. I, the Shahanshah of Iran, offer thee salutations from myself and from my nation. Rest in peace, for we are awake, and we will always stay awake,” were the words the Shah addressed to Cyrus’ tomb in front of a cast that included dozens of heads of state from around the world.

To understand revolutionary Iran, you have to understand what went before. I cannot recommend this programme, lasting 1 hour 15 minutes, highly enough. Forget reading anything else this week. It remains available via BBC iPlayer: (readers in North America might need to find another way to access the programme).”

John Kemp -Senior Market Analyst – Reuters

· Munich Security Conference- Syria – Russia – US – Turkey


· Balkans – Serbia


· STRATFOR: Ruthless and Sober in Syria

Massenbach*Munich Puts Stamp on Tightened US-Russian military cooperation in Syria.

DEBKAfile Special Report February 12, 2016, 10:09 AM (IDT)

At the end of hours of debate in Munich, US Secretary of State John Kerry announced early Friday, Feb. 12, that the US, Russia and other powers had agreed to a “cessation of hostilities” in Syria’s civil war to take place next week and immediate humanitarian access to besieged areas.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov added: The cessation would go into effect next Friday, Feb. 19 but, he stressed, “terrorist” groups would continue to be targeted.

Possibly for the first time in his diplomatic career, Kerry termed an international document he initiated “words on paper” because, he said, “the proof of commitment will come only with implementation.”
The document was signed by 17 nations, including Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubayr for the Syrian opposition and Iran’s top diplomat Muhammed Javad Zarif in the name of the Assad regime.

Lavrov listed the terrorist groups that will continue to be targeted as the Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Since Jabhat members are integrated in many non-jihadi rebel groups, debkafile’s analysts infer enough caveats in the paper to be used as carte blanche for Russia, Syria, Iran and Hizballah to carry on fighting the Assad regime’s enemies, even after the ceasefire goes into effect.

The nub of the Munich accord was therefore the parties authorized to name the terrorists. This was spelled out as follows: “The determination of eligible targets and geographic areas is to be left up to a task force of nations headed by Russia and the United States.”
This puts the entire agreement in the joint hands of the US and Russia. Lavrov emphasized, “The key thing is to build direct contacts, not only on procedures to avoid incidents, but also cooperation between our militaries.”

The Munich accord therefore provided the framework for expanding the existing US-Russian coordination on air force flights over Syria to cover their direct collaboration in broader aspects of military operations in the war-torn country.

Lavrov mentioned a “qualitative” change in US military policy to cooperate with Russia in continuing the fight against the Islamic State, but it clearly goes beyond that.

debkafile’s military sources report that this collaboration has been in place since December, when Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin concluded a secret pact for working together to end the Syrian war.

This pact was first revealed by DEBKA Weekly as setting out a division of military responsibility between the two powers: The Americans took charge of areas east of the Euphrates, leaving the Russians responsible for the territory east of the river. The Munich accord provides this pact with a formal framework

A glance at the attached map shows the specifics of their arrangement:
The Russians military is in control of all the land in southern, central and western Syria, including Damascus, the southern town of Daraa, Homs, Hama and Latakia in the center and Aleppo in the north.
The US military has control of the Kurdish towns of Hassakeh and Qamishli in the north, the ISIS de facto Syrian capital of Raqqa and the border regions between Syria and Iraq. The Syrian-Turkish border district is divided between the Russians and Americans.

Therefore, behind the diplomatic bombast, the Munich accord for ending hostilities in Syria provided a rubber stamp for the hostilities to continue, amid the ramping up of US military intervention in the war, both by air and on the ground, in close collaboration with Russia.

Neither Kerry nor Lavrov referred to the massive refugee crisis building up primarily on the locked Syrian-Turkish frontier, indicating Ankara’s exclusion from the Munich deliberations and the big power planning for Syria’s future.

Lob für Moskaus Einsatz in Syrien –

Kujat: Ohne Russlands Bomben kein Frieden

Viele Beobachter sehen das Eingreifen der Russen in Syrien kritisch: Stützt Moskau lediglich das Assad-Regime? Ex-Bundeswehr-Generalinspekteur Kujat sieht das anders: Der "Sperrriegel" an Oppositionskräften verhindert demnach einen Sieg über den IS.

Der frühere Generalinspekteur der Bundeswehr, Harald Kujat, hat die Rolle Russlands im Syrien-Konflikt gelobt. "Die Russen haben mit ihrem militärischen Eingreifen den Friedensprozess erst ermöglicht", sagte er der "Passauer Neuen Presse". Bis September 2015 habe dort Stillstand geherrscht. "Weder die Amerikaner noch die Europäer hatten eine Strategie für ein friedliches Syrien und waren auch nicht bereit, sich massiv zu engagieren. Die Russen haben es gemacht und damit ein Fenster für eine politische Lösung aufgestoßen", sagte Kujat.

Vor dem russischen Eingreifen habe die syrische Armee vor ihrem Ende gestanden. "Ich hätte ihr nur noch wenige Wochen gegeben. Dann wäre Syrien kollabiert und der IS hätte das Land übernommen." Das nächste Ziel wäre nach Kujats Worten der Libanon gewesen – und das übernächste Israel. "Das hätte weitreichende Folgen auch für uns gehabt."

Kujat widersprach auch der Vermutung, der russische Präsident Wladimir Putin habe mit den Bombardements in Aleppo gezielt versucht, die Lage zu verschärfen. Russland gehe in Syrien nach einem strategischen Plan vor: "Putins Ziel lautet, den Vormarsch der syrischen Truppen in Richtung IS-Gebiet zu unterstützen. Aleppo ist auf diesem Weg bisher wie ein Sperrriegel gewesen, weil die Stadt von der syrischen Opposition gehalten wurde."

Eine Beteiligung der Nato an dem Syrienkonflikt mit Awacs-Aufklärungsflugzeugen lehnt Kujat aber ab. Am Montag hatte er der "Neuen Osnabrücker Zeitung" gesagt: "Wir dürfen uns nicht in Trippelschritten in einen Konflikt hineinziehen lassen, ohne zu wissen, was der nächste Schritt sein wird und was am Ende dabei herauskommt." Die Nato-Staaten müssten sich zunächst fragen, welches strategische Ziel sie erreichen wollten. Klar sei, dass der von den USA geforderte Einsatz von Awacs-Aufklärungsflugzeugen alleine nicht ausreiche, so Kujat.

Bataille d’Alep : le ton monte.

Il aura fallu l’irruption de la Fédération de Russie sur le champ de bataille

pour que la duplicité de la coalition occidentalo-arabe anti-État islamique apparaisse finalement au grand jour.

Jean-Michel Vernochet


Ancien grand reporter au Figaro Magazine

L’armée arabe syrienne a lancé le 1er février, avec l’appui de l’aviation russe, une vaste opération pour libérer Alep, ancienne capitale économique syrienne et place forte de la rébellion depuis 2012. Comme toujours, les médias se sont complaisamment apitoyés sur les colonnes de ceux qui fuyaient les combats et l’avance des troupes gouvernementales. Manquait au tableau l’image de ces Aleppins des quartiers ouest restés fidèles à Damas dont la « la foule en liesse » accueillait les troupes gouvernementales en libératrices !

Vivement ému, le secrétaire d’État américain John Kerry exigeait aussitôt l’arrêt des bombardements russes au motif de pertes civiles. La vérité est plus prosaïque, car si Alep se trouve complètement encerclée par les forces gouvernementales, le couloir de ravitaillement des rebelles avec la Turquie se verra coupé. À savoir les deux axes routiers Mayer/Anadan et Azaz/Alep par lesquels les unités salafo-wahhabites reçoivent leurs renforts en personnels, armes et munitions expédiés par les islamo-kémalistes de l’État profond turc. Autant dire que la rébellion court maintenant le risque d’un effondrement à court terme, surtout que l’armée de Damas est parvenue, le 4 février, à briser l’encerclement (en place depuis 2012) par les djihadistes de deux petites villes chiites, Nouboul et Zahra, dont la population a reçu les soldats loyalistes sous des pluies de riz et de fleurs. Ce qui signifie que plusieurs milliers, 5.000 peut-être, miliciens chiites seront disponibles pour joindre leurs forces à celles des assiégeants d’Alep.

Lire aussi : Syrie : le grand tournant

Notons qu’il aura fallu l’irruption de la Fédération de Russie sur le champ de bataille pour que la duplicité de la coalition occidentalo-arabe anti-État islamique apparaisse finalement au grand jour. D’un côté, les gouvernements euratlantistes essuient d’une main des larmes sèches au spectacle des naufragés de la mer Égée (tout en ouvrant les portes de l’Europe à la submersion de vagues migratoires dont on sait officiellement que 60 % n’ont aucun droit à demander l’asile, selon un rapport Frontex), et de l’autre, ferme les yeux sur le trouble jeu d’Ankara en Syrie aux côtés des terroristes modérés, selon l’expression de M. Kerry.

Au final, l’offensive gouvernementale et la débâcle prévisible des rebelles de l’Armée syrienne libre constituent un grave revers pour la Turquie… qui aujourd’hui refuse cyniquement d’ouvrir ses frontières à ceux qui fuient Alep. Une attitude qui pourrait, en fait, être dialectiquement l’occasion de réaliser le grand projet du sultan Erdoğan, soit la création d’une zone tampon en territoire syrien dans laquelle les réfugiés seraient confinés. Cela signifie concrètement l’entrée de troupes turques en territoire syrien et l’instauration d’un espace d’interdiction de vol. Une poche établie sous la couverture de l’OTAN et à partir de laquelle Ankara aurait tout loisir de livrer une guerre sans merci aux irrédentistes kurdes du PKK. Autant dire un défi lancé à la Russie, dont la présence et l’action en Syrie sont parfaitement légitimes au regard de la légalité internationale, Moscou intervenant à la demande expresse de Damas. Les réfugiés sont donc un formidable outil de chantage pour obtenir de l’OTAN et de l’Union européenne (outre 3 milliards d’euros d’aide à la rétention des migrants) le feu vert pour une opération terrestre à laquelle des forces spéciales saoudiennes seraient associées. La chose pourrait, d’ailleurs, se décider cette semaine à Bruxelles.

Le ton monte, en effet. Sur CNN, le ministre saoudien des Affaires étrangères, Adel al-Joubeir, déclare sans ambages que Riyad étudie l’envoi de forces spéciales en Syrie. En réponse, le général Konachenkov, porte-parole du ministère de la Défense russe, convaincu que la Turquie s’apprête à envahir la Syrie, pose à brûle-pourpoint la question suivante : « Quelle sera la réaction de l’OTAN lorsque les forces syriennes et russes détruiront les forces turques et éventuellement contre-attaqueront en territoire turc ? »

Jean-Michel Vernochet . –,237573

STRATFOR: Turkey: Military Shells Kurdish Militias In Northern Syria.

February 14, 2016 | 00:27 GMT . Turkey has shelled Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) in northern Syria and demanded the group retreat from territory it has seized, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Feb. 13, BBC reported. Among the targets shelled by Turkey was the Menagh air base, which the YPG seized from Syrian Islamist rebels. The United States urged Turkey to stop the shelling and focus on fighting the Islamic State. Meanwhile, Turkey’s foreign minister also said Feb. 13 that Turkey was mulling a ground invasion of Syria with Saudi forces. World powers agreed on Feb. 12 to push for a cessation of hostilities in Syria within a week, though the chances of the cease-fire working long term are dim. ( ) ( )

Russian-Turkish clash building up over Syria

DEBKAfile Special Report February 14, 2016, 12:02 PM (IDT)

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan clearly took a calculated risk when he ordered a two-our cross-border artillery bombardment Saturday, Feb. 13 of Syrian army forces positioned around the northern Syrian town of Azaz and the Kurdish YPG militia units which two days earlier took control of the former Syrian military air base of Minagh some six kilometers from the Turkish border.

Kurdish troops backed by the Russian air force seized that base last week from rebel militias as part of the operation for cutting the rebel groups under siege in Aleppo from their supply routes. The Turkish bombardment was therefore an indirect attack on the Russian forces backing pro-Assad forces against the rebels in the Syria war.

Erdogan knows that Moscow hasn’t finished settling accounts with Turkey for the shooting down of a Russian Su-24 on Nov. 24 and is spoiling for more punishment. After that incident, the Russians deployed top-of-line S-400 ground-to-air missile batteries and advanced Sukhoi Su-35 warplanes to their base in Latakia near the Turkish border. Ankara therefore limited its strike to a two-hour artillery bombardment from Turkish soil, reasoning that a Turkish warplane anywhere near the Syrian border would be shot down instantly.
Emboldened by the delay in the Russian response, the Turks took another step: Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu threatened the Kurdish YPG militia with more attacks if they failed to withdraw from the Menagh air base.

Although the Turkish prime minister had called on “allies and supporters” to back the operation against the Russian-backed Syrian Kurds, Washington took the opposite line by urging Turkey, a fellow member of NATO, to desist from any further attacks.

Washington’s concern is obvious. An outright clash between Turkey and Russia would entitle Ankara to invoke the NATO charter and demand allied protection for a member state under attack.
The Obama administration would have had to spurn this appeal for three reasons:

1. To avoid getting mixed up in a military clash between two countries, just as the US kept its powder dry in the Russian-Ukraine confrontation after Moscow’s annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014.

2. To avoid upsetting the secret Obama-Putin deal on the allocation of spheres of influence in Syria: the Americans have taken the regions east of the Euphrates River, and the Russians, the west.
The Kurdish YPG militia forces near Aleppo and the city itself come under the Russian area of influence.

3. Regional tensions were tightened another notch Saturday by Russian comments: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said that his country and the West have “slid into a new Cold War period,” and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a third World War is actually underway -“I call this struggle a third World War by other means.,” he said.
Washington will avoid any action that risks further stoking this high state of international tension, but will act instead to de-escalate the cross-border Turkish-Russian confrontation over Syria.

All eyes are now on Moscow, Much depends on Russia’s response to the artillery bombardment of its Syrian and Kurdish allies. It is up to Putin to decide when and how to strike back – if at all.

Putin, Obama agree on cooperation to implement Syria agreement.


MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President Barack Obama agreed to intensify diplomatic and other cooperation to implement an agreement on Syria struck at talks in Munich, the Kremlin said Sunday. "In particular, a support was expressed to efforts of two target groups: for ceasefire and humanitarian aspects," the Kremlin said.

Kremlin added that during the talks, the need to establish close working contacts between Russia’s and U.S. defense ministries was underlined, which would allow them to "successfully fight the ISIS and other terrorist organisations."

The Kremlin also said that Putin spoke with Obama about the importance of creating a unite anti-terrorism front. They also discussed the situation in Ukraine, the Kremlin said.

While Kerry Talks Ceasefire, US Allies Secretly Ship Grad Missiles to Syria Rebels.

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

According to the agreement:

The [International Syria Support Group] members agreed that a nationwide cessation of hostilities must be urgently implemented, and should apply to any party currently engaged in military or paramilitary hostilities against any other parties other than Daesh, Jabhat al-Nusra, or other groups designated as terrorist organizations by the United Nations Security Council. The ISSG members commit to exercise influence for an immediate and significant reduction in violence leading to the nationwide cessation of hostilities.

Now today — just one day after the ceasefire agreement — we discover that a massive shipment of ground-to-ground "Grad" missiles has been sent by US allies (and the CIA?) to rebels fighting against the Syrian government.

Reuters reports:

‚It is excellent additional fire power for us,‘ said one of the commanders, who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter. The second rebel commander said the missiles were being used to hit army positions beyond the front line. ‚They give the factions longer reach,‘ he said.

What are we to conclude by this dramatic turn of events? Two possibilities.

One, that since the deal is not finalized on paper the foreign powers backing regime change for Syria did not feel the need to halt the shipment and in fact may have hastened the delivery.

Two, that the "rebels" being supplied do not fall under the terms of the agreement spelled out above. In other words, the ceasefire does not apply to ISIS or al-Qaeda or affiliated forces, so perhaps the foreign Grad suppliers decided this is a two-way street: if Russia is still free to bomb the terrorist groups, then Saudi Arabia, Turkey, etc. are still free to provide them weapons.

Does anyone have any confidence in this kind of ceasefire when either the "moderates" or named terrorist groups are being armed to the teeth on the eve of its implementation? Will the Russians begin to doubt the veracity of their western partners‘ commitment to halting the violence in Syria when they learn of this massive weapons shipment?

02-15-16 Russian-German News (compiled).pdf