21st Century Wire
As 21WIRE reported earlier this week, in a historic turning point in a five-year bloody conflict, the Syrian Arab Army liberated the Old City of Aleppo from the hands of occupying terrorists and armed militants. This joint victory by Syria and Russia has caused a panic in Washington, however, as well as in London, Paris, Saudi Arabia and Qatar – all of whom hoped they would eventually destroy the entire city of Aleppo, and win their proxy war in the process. Prior to this week, the US-led ‘Coalition’ still believed that they could somehow force a Syria-Russia military pause, and UN-enforced No Fly Zone or ‘Safe Zone’ – by continuing to back a militant opposition that has been occupying East Aleppo since 2012. Their epic failure has prompted yet another highly dangerous and desperate move by a lame duck US President – signing a new order which could deliver unlimited arms and support to ‘moderate’ terrorists in Syria.
On Tuesday, President Barack Obama issued a White House memorandum (see full text below) to both the US State and Defense departments which waives any arms export control restrictions on providing ‘military assistance’ to any and all ‘foreign forces’ in Syria, according to a White House press release issued today. Presumably, this includes not only guns and ammunition, but also lethal TOW Missiles and RPGs (and anti-aircraft units?) for tens of thousands of extremist foreign fighters and Salafi terrorists currently operating inside Syria, as well as thousands of US-trained and equipped fighters waiting in camp in both Turkey and Jordan.
Not coincidentally, this comes on the same day the US Senate passed a defense bill by a majority vote of 92-7, which authorizes $611 billion in military spending through 2017.
Although in 2016 the US allocated some $500 million in US taxpayer funds in order to “train and equip”(arm) the so-called “moderate rebels” in Syria via the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), it’s still difficult to determine what is the total cost to date of Washington’s support, both overt and covert, for rebel factions in Syria.
This seemingly desperate move by Obama can only mean two things. Firstly, it demonstrates that the US and its allies are doggedly determined to prolong one of the bloodiest and dirtiest wars in recent history. Secondly, it signals a last-ditch act of desperation on the part of a President who will be viewed as a perennial loser in a failed proxy war that lasted over 5 years, costing tens of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives.
The executive action also gives additional weight to this week’s statement by US State Dept spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau who stated:
“Even if Aleppo falls, certainly the war is not over. But our position has not changed on that.”
Is the outgoing White House trying to plunge the next Administration into a deeper commitment to an unwinnable proxy war in the Middle East?
As far as diplomacy is concerned, the agenda couldn’t be clearer. This is an all-too-familiar pattern that we’ve become used to throughout Washington’s endless Syria debacle. While Kerry pretends to negotiate a diplomatic ceasefire or ‘peace deal’ over the table somewhere in Europe, operatives in Washington execute some irrational moves under the table specifically designed to sabotage any real bilateral agreement. Whether it’s an US air strike against Syrian Army, a fabricated chemical weapons claim against the Syrian armed forces, or a false flag attack on a UN Aid Convoy – the US seems to always pull a trick card when the promise of an agreement is near.
According to RT reports from today’s OECD talks in Hamburg, Germany, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (image, right) hit back at a recent allegation made by US State Department spokesman Mark Toner who had accused Russia of not actually fighting Jabhat al-Nusra (Al Nusra) terrorists in Syria, but rather that Russia was instead attacking the US-backed “moderate opposition.” Lavrov replied simply by stating, “As for Jabhat al-Nusra, the US is not only not touching it, but also tried to negotiate our agreements in a way which let al-Nusra remain unpunished.” He then explained that this group is listed by the UN as a designated terrorist organization, adding that, “surely, we cannot accept it.”
Washington’s ‘name game’ of refusing to call a terrorist a terrorist should be old hat by now. Back in September, Lavrov had managed to get US Secretary of State John Kerry to agree to target leading terrorist opposition force Al Nusra Front (al Qaeda in Syria, supported covertly by both the Saudi Arabia and the US/CIA), but this and other provisional ceasefire arrangements quickly collapsed after the US targeted and killed at least 70 Syrian Army soldiers – a brutal operation which allowed ISIS forces to advance towards the key city of Deir el-Zour. This prompted a rather embarrassing public tantrum by Washington’s UN Ambassador Samantha Power.
Once again, Washington drives another impossible wedge into delicate diplomatic negotiations…
Obama’s latest decree stipulates that new arms shipments and military provisions will fall under the banner of “fighting terrorism,” (see the official document below) when in reality, the stated US intention and policies regarding supplying weapons to “moderate opposition” Syria who have never actually fought ISIS. Instead, weapons are transferred to armed opposition paramilitaries (including listed Terrorist groups like Al Nusra Front and its numerous affiliates, and even into the hands of ISIS themselves). In reality, these US Coalition-supplied militants are really fighting against the Syrian Army – and not ISIS, and they do so with the expressed intention of overthrowing the Syrian Government led by President Bashar al-Assad. This same regime change is also the stated policy of the US and its allies, and yet Washington is still carrying on with its political charade regardless.
Here is the Presidential Memorandum posted on the White House website this afternoon:
Presidential Determination and Waiver — Pursuant to Section 2249a of Title 10, United States Code, and Sections 40 and 40A of the Arms Export Control Act to Support U.S. Special Operations to Combat Terrorism in Syria
December 8, 2016
MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
SUBJECT: Presidential Determination and Waiver Pursuant to Section 2249a of Title 10, United States Code, and Sections 40 and 40A of the Arms Export Control Act to Support U.S. Special Operations to Combat Terrorism in Syria
By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 2249a of title 10, United States Code, sections 40 and 40A of the Arms Export Control Act (AECA) (22 U.S.C. 2780 and 2781), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, I hereby:
- determine that the transaction, encompassing the provision of defense articles and services to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals engaged in supporting or facilitating ongoing U.S. military operations to counter terrorism in Syria, is essential to the national security interests of the United States;
- waive the prohibitions in sections 40 and 40A of the AECA related to such a transaction;
- delegate to the Secretary of State the responsibility under section 40(g)(2) of the AECA to consult with and submit reports to the Congress for proposed exports, 15 days prior to authorizing them to proceed, that are necessary for and within the scope of this waiver determination and the transaction referred to herein;
- waive the prohibitions in section 2249a of title 10, United States Code, to the extent necessary to allow the Department of Defense to carry out such support; and
- delegate to the Secretary of Defense the responsibility under section 2249a(b)(2) of title 10, United States Code, to notify the appropriate congressional committees at least 15 days before this waiver takes effect.
The Secretary of Defense is authorized and directed to publish this determination in the Federal Register.
BARACK OBAMA [signed]
During recent peace negotiations in Rome and Hamburg, Sergey Lavrov made it clear that past Washington attempts to deliberately obfuscate and confuse the issue would not work this time – which has no doubt infuriated Washington who has always reserved the right to pull a bait-and-switch, or simply lie its way through negotiations – either to buy time for terrorist ground forces, or simply to railroad any actual agreement before the signing stage. This was certainly the case over the weekend in Rome when, according to RT, Lavrov emphasised that, “John Kerry passed on to us proposals from Washington that are in line with the suggestions [on Syria] from Russia’s experts.” Then, like clockwork, Washington withdrew the proposal two days later.
Accustomed to US double-dealing over Syria, Lavrov seemed to take it stride, saying on Tuesday, “They have withdrawn their document and have a new one. Our initial impression is that this new document backtracks, and is an attempt to buy time for the militants, allow them to catch their breath and resupply.”
Lavrov also chided the UN special envoy to Syria, Staffan de Mistura, to “stop sabotaging” the Geneva Syria peace talks.
Meanwhile, terrorist-occupied East Aleppo was liberated by Government forces. That was Washington’s last card in Aleppo, and now it’s gone.
WESTERN DOUBLESPEAK: “Moderate Rebels” in Syria.
Despite now Washington’s farcical legal evasion claiming how it is shipping arms into Syria in order to help the long-defunct, albeit aspirational construct, the ‘Free Syrian Army,’ in the supposed “fight against ISIS,” bureaucrats can no longer hide their true intentions. It should also be noted that by arming internationally recognized terrorists fighters – Washington and any other allies involved in these illicit operations – are in direct violation of United States Anti-Terrorism laws, as well as similar European and international laws. However, because this has been a bipartisan effort from the beginning, co-steered by key Republicans including John McCain, Ed Royce, and Mike Rogers – no such indictments may ever be brought against Washington’s criminal weapons traffickers. If such a case were ever prosecuted, then every US politician involved in this operation, both Democrat and Republican as well as agency officials, could, in theory, be charged with providing material support and lethal aid to known terrorist entities. Perhaps for this reason, the US and its allies have avoided specifically naming Al Nusra Front and its terror affiliates in most of the language in their official pronouncements of ‘rebel’ support.
RT dispatches added the following statement on Wednesday from retired US Army Colonel Larry Wilkerson, who is urging Washington DC to end the spilling of blood in Syria, citing that all western attempts to oust Assad have failed:
“There is an old theory in international relations that some wars have to be won. Well, this is one that has been won and it has been won by Assad and his allies,” Wilkerson said. The official elaborated that the West should “recognize that to stop the killing, to stop the slaughter, to stop the bloodshed.”
“Stability in this case is better than what we have right now. It would be the same in Libya. We opened Pandora’s box in Libya too and look what we have now.”
Since attempts to drive out the legitimate Syrian President have failed, the international community needs to “make accommodation with him [Assad]”
“We need to bring some stability back to Syria,” Wilkerson concluded.
Only two days ago, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, President Obama could be seen grandstanding, and boasting about all of his supposed ‘security’ achievements at a speech he gave at CENTCOM HQ at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.
“On January 20th, I will become the first president of the United States to serve two full terms during a time of war.” he said.
What Obama seems to forget is that all of his wars were done in absence of any real Article One Section 8 declaration of war by US Congress, only a vague “Authorization of Force”rubber-stamp was applied. This is nothing more than an expedient lawyer’s end-run around the US Constitution. From Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Libya, to Syria, and Yemen (not to mention covert actions in the Ukraine) – all of these are undeclared wars of aggression, for which Germany was also implicated over its actions from 1939, which was also the basis for the draft text in the Nuremberg Principles.
The NYT adds: “He [Obama] defended an approach to fighting wars that did not bankrupt the Treasury or cause thousands of deaths. He noted, for instance, that he has spent $10 billion over the last two years fighting the Islamic State — the same amount of money President George W. Bush spent in just one month fighting the Iraq War.”
So right after he brags to a crowd of hapless US servicemen about how he defeated ISIS on the cheap, Obama signs a blank check to arm legions of murdering terrorists already running amok in Syria.
Is this the final act of a President who fears that his all-important legacy is slipping away in the waning weeks of his own eight year regime?
Obama’s legacy is written already, however. It’s one of overall nonexistent leadership, punctuated by a shifty foreign policy that’s been littered with failure, enabled through executive criminality and repeated lies – and underlined by a total disregard for international law.
This, from a man who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize even before he served a day in office.
That is Obama’s legacy.
EDITOR’S NOTE: See Patrick Henningsen discuss Obama’s latest move with RT International news on Thursday:
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