A good place to start is Alison Smale's concise "Syria Accord Looms Over Europe Security Meeting," which appears in this morning's national edition of The New York Times. Smale reports from Munich's annual security conference. Two of the big headlines generated by the conference were 1) Russian prime minister Dmitri Medvedev warning Europe about the West's reboot of the Cold War, and 2) France's refusal to participate in the German plan to redistribute refugees among EU member nations.
What makes Smale's story helpful and refreshingly clear is that she articulates the origin the two issues above -- the New Cold War and the disintegration of the Europe's Schengen Agreement -- as the Turkish-backed false flag sarin attack in the Damascus suburb of Ghouta followed by Obama's decision to accept Lavrov's offer to have Syria relinquish its chemical weapons stockpile (rather than bombing the Assad government into an unlikely submission):
Other speakers at the conference singled out the Obama administration for failing to act in 2013 after Mr. Obama said the use of chemical weapons by Mr. Assad would cross a “red line” that demanded American action.
Back then, Russia again intervened, using its influence to get Mr. Assad to agree to put all chemical weapons under United Nations supervision for removal and destruction. Mr. McCain said that that move had destroyed Washington’s credibility, particularly with Saudi Arabia, who he claimed had planes ready to fly air raids on Syria when Mr. Obama accepted the Russian-backed plan on chemical weapons.Since the summer of 2013 things have gone from bad to worse. ISIS took Fallujah and Raqqah in January 2014. Neo-Nazis took control of the Kiev in a February coup that year, while in June ISIS captured Mosul in a blitzkrieg.
The Obama administration and its allies among the Gulf monarchies have worked tirelessly to bolster the jihadis and the fascists. The principal canard, the "big lie," is that the United States is aiding a "moderate" opposition. For instance, during both the Democratic and Republican debates last week, Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush attacked the evil Putin for bombing "the moderate opposition" in Aleppo. Neither the moderators, nor the other candidates (other than Trump saying, "We don't know who we are bombing.") corrected Bush-Clinton by pointing out, as Smale does in her piece today, and what has been regularly mentioned in press accounts since the Munich ceasefire was announced last week, that Aleppo is controlled by Syrian Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra:
As for a pause in fighting, [Staffan de Mistura, United Nations mediator for Syria] said he expected it to apply to “all areas of Syria except for areas controlled by ISIS and Al Nusra,” referring to the Islamic State militant group and the Nusra Front, which the United States and Russia regard as terrorist groups.
That provision would allow Russian and Syrian forces to continue airstrikes over parts of Aleppo, where Nusra fighters are thought to be present. A State Department official said last week that different rebel groups are “intermingled” on the battlefield.Or this from a Q. & A. by Karen Zraick and Anne Barnard, "Syrian War Could Turn on the Battle for Aleppo," that appeared in Sunday's paper:
The rebel groups that the West considers relatively moderate are strongest around Aleppo. But they are intertwined in places with the Nusra Front, which is linked to Al Qaeda and which the United States and Russia both consider a terrorist group. The deal reached in Munich, for a “cessation of hostilities,” leading to a cease-fire, excludes the Nusra Front and Islamic State.
The rest of Aleppo Province is a patchwork of zones of control. Kurds have the area around Afrin in the northwest, Islamic State holds the east, the government and its allies have advanced in the south, and other insurgent groups hold the west.Or this from an Anne Barnard story, "In Syria, Skepticism That Cease-Fire Will Stop Fighting,"
that appeared on Saturday:
With the proviso that the Nusra Front, Al Qaeda’s branch in Syria, can still be bombed, Russia puts the United States in a difficult position; the insurgent groups it supports cooperate in some places with the well-armed, well-financed Nusra in what they say is a tactical alliance of necessity against government forces. So Russia can argue that many of them are, in effect, Nusra affiliates.Never has there been such a sustained, day-after-day acknowledgement in the flagship of the U.S. press, The New York Times, that the United States is is engaging in military combat alongside its "existential foe." In the past, there have been stories about the Free Syrian Army giving up their U.S.-supplied MANPADS and armored vehicles to Nusra, and there have always been mentions scattered here and there about CIA-backed rebels participating in Jaish al-Fatah, the Army of Conquest, the main fighting group in northern Syria led by Nusra and Ahrar al-Sham, another Salafist outfit, but nothing like the open acknowledgement following the Munich announcement of cessation of hostilities.
In other words, for anyone paying attention (members of Congress?) there is a clear, public record that the United States is -- despite the post-9/11 Authorization for the Use of Military Force which justifies its military presence in Iraq and Syria because the nation is at war with Al Qaeda and its affiliates -- operating in a military alliance with an Al Qaeda affiliate.
It is an upside down, chaotic, destabilizing situation that the U.S.-Saudi war on Syria has created. Turkey, as Alison Smale mentions, is now shelling the Kurdish forces that are the principal military ally of the Obama administration in its fight against ISIS:
Highlighting the complexity of the situation in Syria, Turkey over the weekend shelled positions held by a Kurdish militia that is backed by the United States in northern Syria. Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said Turkish artillery units fired at Kurdish fighters in the Syrian town of Azaz in Aleppo Province, saying it was in response to incoming Kurdish fire, The Associated Press reported.NATO-ally Turkey is at war with U.S.-proxy Kurdish militias.
And the upside-downess doesn't step there. Anne Barnard reported on Friday, "Death Toll From War in Syria Now 470,000, Group Finds," that the Kurds, who the Turks are now shelling, overran Minakh airbase outside Aleppo which was being held by CIA-backed rebels, creating a situation which the U.S. specializes in -- backing fighters on both sides of a conflict:
The airstrikes on Tal Rifaat, 17 miles south of the Turkish border, came a day after Bouthaina Shaaban, a longtime adviser to President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, told Reuters that Syrian troops would take back control of the Turkish border and reclaim the city of Aleppo. She rejected any talk of a cease-fire as an effort to aid terrorists.
Also advancing on the rebel-held northern countryside of Aleppo were fighters from the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces, or S.D.F., a coalition the United States is backing to fight the Islamic State.
A group that is part of the S.D.F., called Jaish al-Thuwwar, or the Revolutionaries Army, took Minakh air base, which Islamist insurgents abandoned after Russian airstrikes. There were conflicting reports over whether the S.D.F. forces clashed with the insurgents or simply took ground that they had left undefended.
Those advances created the confusing picture of one American-backed force taking territory from allies of another American-backed force. Minakh was held by Islamist groups that had fought alongside the rebel groups deemed moderate enough to take part in a covert C.I.A. program providing salaries and weapons in cooperation with European and Middle Eastern allies.
That entanglement poses an increasingly thorny problem for Syrian insurgents and the United States, as Russia continues to reserve the right to hit not only Islamic State fighters but any group it sees as hard-line Islamists or that it deems affiliated with them.
Rebel groups accused the Kurdish-led S.D.F. of siding with the government and taking advantage of Russian airstrikes. But the group — dominated by fighters aligned with a Kurdish political party that recently opened an office in Moscow — issued statements saying that it was not working with the government but that it was seizing the land to prevent it from being taken by government forces.
The group told Syrian opposition outlets that it was helping civilians from rebel-held areas to pass through Kurdish-held areas to relative safety. Kurdish groups have generally sought to maintain a détente with all sides, focusing mainly on establishing semiautonomous zones along the Turkish border.
Also on Thursday, Russia accused the United States of bombing a clinic in Aleppo and blaming Russia. An American military spokesman said the allegation was fabricated and that no United States airstrikes had been carried out in Aleppo Province in the last day.Back in the salad days of the present administration, Obama was frequently spoken of as a master of three-dimensional chess. Such talk largely stopped after the sequester and fiscal cliff negotiations revealed POTUS to be thoroughly wedded to the same old picture of the haves gorging themselves on the have-notes.
In Syria Obama has trapped himself between the sheikh-neocon delusion of a reinvigorated U.S.-Saudi regional hegemony and the reality of a rising multi-polar world led by Russia, China, India and Iran. Watch what happens to Europe in 2016 to see if the world is in store for more reality or more delusion. My guess, as the U.S.-project of a European Union continues its disintegration, is reality.