Welcome!

Dear Readers:

Welcome to Awful Avalanche, here is my blog concept and what I do:

I scan online newspapers from Russian-language press, in search of interesting stories and political topics.  These are stories which Russians themselves are reading and commenting upon.

I translate or at least summarize into English the content therein.

My target audience:  Russophiles, or anybody else who is interested.

I pick stories and analysis which interest me, generally from the following categories (this might evolve):

  • Breaking News,
  • Celebrity Gossip
  • True Crime,
  • Cat Fighting,
  • Human Interest Stories,
  • maybe even some Cute Animal Stories too!

Sincerely yours,

yalensis

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Russia Income Inequality = Greatest in the World? – Part II

Dear Readers:

We continue reading this piece from Komsomolskaya Pravda.  The author is Evgeny Chernykh.  The title of the piece is:

The Heritage of the USSR Was Squirelled Away in Offshores

Recall that French economist Thomas Piketty, along with two other colleagues, penned a monograph describing how the specific method of restoring capitalism in Russia, has resulted in a huge theft of the national wealth, and subsequently resulted in a nation that has the greatest income inequality in the entire world.

Exactly 100 years ago, in 1917, Russia embarked on a unique experiment (aka Communism), intended to do away, once and all, with the curse of human inequality.  A curse which has haunted mankind ever since groups of people began separating into social classes; with some small groups of people “owning” the riches of our planet, and the vast majority of others assigned to labor for those self-appointed or hereditary owners.  The irony is that Russia, the cradle of Communism, today holds the world’s record in income inequality.  Is this simply the inevitable Dialectic at work?  Or is it due to less mystical reasons, such as the specific manner in which privatization was carried out in the 1990’s?  Was it due to human decisions, human greed, and human folly?  Or any of a series of rhetorical questions?

Despite the Mikado’s brutal rule, Japan is an egalitarian society.

The rest of the KP piece comprises Chernykh’s interview with Russian analyst Elena Larina, author of a book entitled “How to survive the War of the Elites”.  Larina:  71% of all the personal assets in Russia belong to 1% of the wealthiest Russians.  For comparison, with the latter number remaining 1%:

In India the corresponding number is 49%.  In Africa taken as a whole, the indicator is 44%, in the United States a relatively egalitarian 37% (!); in China and Europe 32%.  Japan comes out as the most egalitarian nation, at 17%.

These numbers are somewhat subjective, she warns.  However, most economic analysts are in agreement that Russia (along with China, India and Brazil) enters in the list of most unequal nations, in terms of asset ownership.  Russia is also noted for having a 5% elite which owns up to 82.5% of all the personal wealth in the nation.

And still another dubious distinction:  There are 96 Russian billionaires who own 30% of all the personal assets of Russian citizens.  This is 15 times higher than the world average.

Billionaire Boys Club – Russian style

And these numbers are just the ones on paper and recorded by world financial institutions.  These are the legal numbers.  In reality, the situation is most likely even worse, because these numbers don’t reflect the illegal export of capital out of Russia.  During the years 1992-2016 a minimum of $1.7 trillion dollars was stolen out of Russia via illegal financial schemes, including a specific scheme which Larina explains, the English translation is “Transfer Pricing”.   This term might mean something to Economics students.  The Russian term is Трансфертное ценообразование — Russian wiki defines it as a delivery of goods or services between mutually-dependent parties at an internally-discounted price that is other than the market price.  The main goal is to avoid paying taxes on the transfer.

Before continuing with the Larina interview, I wish to adduce a quote from a famous American work of literature, see if you can guess what it is.  This quote, I believe, encapsulates the essence of where that mysterious thing called “wealth” comes from.  Despite all attempts to mystify wealth and surround with obscure financial schemes, in essence, wealth is something that comes from the Earth.  Or, in this particular case, from the Sea:

New Bedford was built on whale oil.

(…) New Bedford is a queer place. Had it not been for us whalemen, that tract of land would this day perhaps have been in as howling condition as the coast of Labrador. As it is, parts of her back country are enough to frighten one, they look so bony. The town itself is perhaps the dearest place to live in, in all New England. It is a land of oil, true enough: but not like Canaan; a land, also, of corn and wine. The streets do not run with milk; nor in the spring-time do they pave them with fresh eggs. Yet, in spite of this, nowhere in all America will you find more patrician-like houses; parks and gardens more opulent, than in New Bedford. Whence came they? how planted upon this once scraggy scoria of a country?  Go and gaze upon the iron emblematical harpoons round yonder lofty mansion, and your question will be answered. Yes; all these brave houses and flowery gardens came from the Atlantic, Pacific, and Indian oceans. One and all, they were harpooned and dragged up hither from the bottom of the sea.  (….)

In New Bedford, fathers, they say, give whales for dowers to their daughters, and portion off their nieces with a few porpoises a-piece. You must go to New Bedford to see a brilliant wedding; for, they say, they have reservoirs of oil in every house, and every night recklessly burn their lengths in spermaceti candles.

And continuing this thought…  Just as whale meat was packed away and salted; and the whale oil siphoned off into barrels and shipped off — so too Russian natural resources were sliced off the carcass, salted or smoked, pickled, poured, syphoned away, and shipped to offshore banks, but now in the form of pieces of paper.  Or even more abstractly, digital numbers stored in computers.

[to be continued]

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Russia Income Inequality = Greatest in the World? – Part I

Dear Readers:

Today I start a new series, based on this piece from Komsomolskaya Pravda.  The author is Evgeny Chernykh.  The title of the piece is:

The Heritage of the USSR Was Squirelled Away in Offshores

The subtitle claims that Russia has the greatest income inequality of all capitalist nations on the planet.  Let us start to work through this piece, which touches on many interesting issues:

As the centennary approaches of the Great October Revolution, an international collective of experts headed by Thomas Piketty, has published an important monograph entitled From Soviets to Oligarchs: Inequality and Property in Russia, 1905-2016.  This work is available only by subscription, the abstract reads thusly:

Economist Thomas Piketty

This paper combines national accounts, survey, wealth and fiscal data (including recently released tax data on high-income taxpayers) in order to provide consistent series on the accumulation and distribution of income and wealth in Russia from the Soviet period until the present day. We find that official survey-based measures vastly under-estimate the rise of inequality since 1990. According to our benchmark estimates, top income shares are now similar to (or higher than) the levels observed in the United States. We also find that inequality has increased substantially more in Russia than in China and other ex-communist countries in Eastern Europe. We relate this finding to the specific transition strategy followed in Russia. According to our benchmark estimates, the wealth held offshore by rich Russians is about three times larger than official net foreign reserves, and is comparable in magnitude to total household financial assets held in Russia.

Thomas Piketty, a French economist and author of the best-seller Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has been called the “Karl Marx of the modern century”.  His specialty is wealth and income inequality.  After analyzing capitalism in Europe and the United States, he has recently turned his anaytical tools to the Russian situation.

A very yount Karl Marx was considered the Marx of his generation.

Piketty is currently a Professor of the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in France, and also has an Associate Chair at the Paris School of Economics, as well as being a visiting professor at the London School of Economics.  He calls himself a socialist and proposes a peaceful, non-revolutionary solution for gross inequality, via a progressive global tax on wealth.  His proposals would certainly be most welcome to most of the denizens of our planet, I reckon; however, not among the tiny 2% whose opinions actually matter.  [That last sentence just my personal opinion.]

Piketty’s biography shows an interesting political evolution [quoting liberally here from his wiki]:  From “socialism” to “capitalism” and back to “socialism” (sort of).  Born in 1971, in Paris, to “Trotskyite” parents.  Remember, though, that we are talking about France, where “Trotskyism” is not necessarily real Trotskyism; nor is socialism real socialism.  France is also the land where woman-beating is considered an art form.  Bad-boy Piketty himself was taken to court for smacking his girl friend (2009).  But he manned up, apologized to her, and she withdrew the complaint.

Piketty’s parents, in fact, grew out of their youthful Marxism even before Thomas was born; and Thomas himself, when visiting Russia for the first time as a 20-year-old student in 1991, declared himself to be a “firm believer in capitalism, private property, the market.”

Humanity’s bleak future?

However, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree, it seems; and some lingering socialism in his genes has turned Piketty in the direction of “fixing” humanity’s age-old problem of wealth inequality.  Well, I reckon we can use all the help we can get.  Otherwise, as I have said before, if we keep going at this rate, then we will live to see a future not unlike those sci-fi dystopias, in which all 10 billions of us work for just one guy; and slave away our painful lives mining uranium on some god-forsaken asteroid.  Or something close to that.

London: a center of Russian wealth

But back to Piketty and his collective, which also includes economists Filip Novokmet (Paris, France) and Gabriel Zucman (Department of Economics, Berkeley, CA).  According to their research, the collapse of Soviet Communism, and the specific way the Market was introduced into Russia, led to a situation of gaping inequality.  The situation is very dire:  Russia’s natural resources have been literally stolen out from under the noses of the people, salted into capital, and the capital then stashed away in offshore accounts.  The point of which being, that once capital is secured in offshores, then it won’t be taxed.  The thief is able to prance about in his counting-house and enjoy his loot with complete impunity.

“The volume of offshore capital of Russian [citizens] exceeds, by approximately 3 times the level of currency reserves of the nation,” Piketty writes.  “By the year 2015 the volume of assets stashed away in offshores, comprised around 75% of Russia’s national wealth.”  By “offshores” we don’t necessarily mean tropical islands:  “Russia’s wealth lives in places like Great Britain, Switzerland, Cyprus, and various other places.  Of the money owned by Russia’s wealthiest citizens — there is as much of it in these offshore locations, as is owned by the entire population of Russia within its own country.”

[to be continued]

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Yatsenyuk alibi for Chechnya?

Dear Readers:

A couple of years ago, when I was still a fledgling blogger, one of my earliest posts was this story about then-Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, who was alleged to have been fighting against Russia in Chechnya in the 1990’s.  That was so early in my blogging career that I still hadn’t figured out how to format photographs properly into the text!

Prosecutor Bastrykin: Would like to get his hands on Yats

Anyhow, Yats had/has a warrant out for his arrest, issued by the Prosecutor-General of the Russian Federation; and if the Russians ever get their hands on him, he will probably be brought to trial because of this accusation.  The charge is that Yats, along with other members of the Ukrainian Nationalist terrorist group UNA-UNSO, illegally entered Chechnya in the 1990’s, fought alongside jihadists; captured, tortured and murdered Russian soldiers.  The Russian soldiers were there legally, fighting against a foreign-backed insurgency; the Ukrainian irregulars not so much.

Whatever evidence Prosecutor-General Bastrykin has against Yats (and he claims to have a lot of it), one meaty exhibit is a photograph showing a man who looks just like a young Yats, clustered in a group of UNA-UNSO fighters, against the backdrop of the Caucasus Mountains.

When these charges were first laid unto Yats, the pro-Russia blogosphere had a field day posting “photozhabas” (“photoshops”) of Yats with air-brushed-on jihadist beard, etc.  Although, the beard wasn’t really the point; nor did anyone actually believe that Yats had converted to Wahhabism.  The (undisputed) alliance of the Ukrainian Nationalists (who are, in the main, Catholics) with Saudi-backed Chechen Wahhabists is/was simply a military alliance of convenience between two anti-Russian geo-political forces.

The guy in the red circle is alleged to be Yats

A couple of months after that first Yats-related post of mine, I posted this other piece about Yats, about which I am particularly proud.  Because, to my knowledge, I was the only blogger who picked up on this inadvertent molecule of “circumstantial evidence” pointing to Yatsenyuk’s guilt in the Chechnya matter.  Granted, it was a very tiny point; and no prosecutor would be able to make a compelling case based solely on this slip of the tongue by Avakov.  And, as propagandists from the other side of the fence have pointed out, Avakov could have been just jesting around.  Still, it was definitely worth mentioning as a curiosity.

Fair and Balanced

Today, in the interests of fairness I am presenting this piece, which I just saw yesterday.  It’s from a pro-Ukrainian newspaper fraza.ua, and purports to be Yatsenyuk’s alibi for the Chechnya allegation.

Artemenko: The nerdy guy standing behind Dmitry Korchinsky

His alibi is the classic “It weren’t me in that photo!”  According to fraza, that nerdy bespectacled guy in those pics, was NOT Arseny Yatsenyuk.  Rather, it was a guy named Vyacheslav Artemenko.  Artemenko himself, when asked, averred:  “Yup, that’s me in those old photographs!”

So, who is Vyacheslav Artemenko?  Not much is known about him.  If you google his name, all you get is this same story.  Allegedly he is some obscure Ukrainian Nationalist who fought against Russia on two fronts:  in Transnistria and in Chechnya.

Reporters from fraza interviewed the secretive Artemenko.  He told them that he used to be friends with Dmitry Korchinsky.  Who is Dmitry Korchinsky?  In the above photograph, he is the moustached guy tossing the improvised bomb.

Korchinsky today: Pro-Nazi terrorist

According to his wiki, Korchinsky used to be the leader of UNA-UNSO, but was expelled in 1997.  After which he went on to found his own Ukrainian Nationalist-Religious movement called “Bratstvo” (“Brotherhood”).  After Maidan, Korchinsky founded the St. Mary Battalion to fight against Donbass Separatists.  Russia has a warrant out for his arrest on charges of terrorism.  Korchinsky is also a poet and writer.  His literary works are banned in Russia, because, again — terrorist.

Vyacheslav Artemenko told the fraza reporters that he himself (=Artemenko) is mentioned in one of Korchinsky’s writings about the war.  A book called “War in the Crowd”.  This fact, if true, also adds corroborative evidence that Artemenko actually exists, and is who he says he is.  Although he stresses that he is not interested in politics any more, seeks anonymity, and engages in a peaceful life now, just growing watermelons for a living.  When asked to corroborate his story with his own photographs from the battlefronts, Artemenko demurred, explaining that he himself never took any photographs, although he appeared in other people’s photographs.

Yats: “My friends tell me I look a lot like Artemenko.”

Artemenko’s story is corroborated by Korchinsky, in an interview with “Ukrainian Pravda” newspaper.  Yup, he says, that’s his old pal Artemenko in the Transnistria and Chechnya photos.  It ain’t Yatsenyuk.

While this new evidence seems convincing enough, it is doubtful that it will put a dent in the Russian case against Yatsenyuk.  In addition to those photos, which are now under question, Bastrykin claims to have tons of other evidence against Yatsenyuk, including statements made by Right Sektor leader (now deceased) Alexander Muzychko.

And also not to forget Avakov’s slip of the tongue when discussing Yatsenyuk’s alleged Balls of Steel!

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Nelly Is (Partially) Free!

Dear Readers,

Just a quickie today, but a good one!  A couple of weeks ago, I did a post calling for the release of Ukrainian political prisoner Nelly Shtepa.  Today I saw this piece in PolitNavigator.  I am happy to report that Nelly is at least partially free.  That is to say, after three years of confinement, Shtepa has been let out to 24/7 house arrest, with a tracking bracelet on her ankle.  Which is not perfect, but at least she is safer now, from the brutality of the Ukrainian prison guards.

Nelly behind bars

Nelly apparently has a good attorney, who has succeeded in mitigating her confinement.  They appeared in the “Leninsky” Court (I guess the Ukrainian nationalists didn’t get around to changing that name yet) in Kharkov.  The prosecutor argued that Shtepa should remain in prison confinment, while awaiting trial, since Ukrainian law does not allow for any other type of confinement, for those accused under Article 110 (=attacking Ukrainian sovereignty/territoriality in  a way that results in the death of people).  Fortunately for Nelly, the judge did not listen to the prosecutor’s B.S.

Bad-boy Vyacheslav Ponomarev

In addition to Article 110, Shtepa is also charged with Article 258-3 (creating a terrorist group or grouplet on Ukrainian soil).  Also a great laugh-fest, since the current “government” of the Ukraine was brought to power illegally, precisely by groups and grouplets of Nazi-based terrorists.

Anyhow, Nelly has never even been brought to trial, she has just been rotting in jail all this time waiting for her trial.  And meantime, several generations of judges have recused themselves or retired, because they didn’t want to touch this case with a 10-foot pole.

Nelly’s fellow Slavyansk hostage, Irma Kratt, who also tasted the power of Vyacheslav Ponomarev’s fists, took Nelly’s side in this legal dispute.  While Shtepa is a former Party of Regions functionary, and Kratt is a fanatical Maidanite, the two women apparently came to some kind of mutual sympathy during their Slavyansk confinement.  At the very least, Kratt knows what it is like to be a prisoner; and that hostages cannot necessarily be held accountable for actions which they committed, or things that they said, while under duress.

Once Nelly is completely free and out of danger, then it will be interesting to hear her side of the story:  What actually happened to her, and what are her actual political beliefs.

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Americans Suffered A Series of Defeats In Syria – Part V

Dear Readers:

Today finishing off Krutikov’s anaytical piece about the Pentagon’s blooper reel in the Syrian conflict.

As mentioned, the Americans, as a last desperate gambit, and reaching very deeply into the old playbook from Vietnam, decided to send “advisors”  onto Syrian soil (illegally, I might add) to train Kurdish militias.  These militias were ordered to take the non-Kurdish city of Raqqa  away from the ISIS militias.  As Krutikov has pointed out in some of his earlier pieces as well, the Kurds as a people are monomaniacal — the only thing they are interested in is carving out their own homeland on traditionally Kurdish territory.  Of which, Raqqa is not one.  The Americans had to really flog and beseech them to fight for Raqqa.

Kurdish fighters arrive in Raqqa

Krutikov calls the Kurds “eccentric, laconic, and cunning” people.  Kurds are the kind of people who will die bravely for each other, but not for outsiders.  They guys are now pretty much the only card left in the American deck.  Americans have assigned them the task of capturing as much sovereign Syrian territory as possible; this will give them more bargaining chips when the time comes to negotiate with Damascus about the boundaries of the Kurdish autonomy.

The Americans are already laying out plans for the political and economic infrastructure of Kurdistan, much to the consternation of Turkey.  (Turkey’s attitude towards a future Kurdistan has always been the same:  “Over my dead body.”)  Hence, the Americans are building a top-secret airbase at Kobanî, which lies on the northern border, between Syria and Turkey.  The airbase is large, but, due to local geographical features, can only accept helicopters.  The Americans are so obsessed with the secrecy of the Kobanî base, that they even got Google to exclude this area from Google Maps.  And satellites are not allowed to photograph it, although one photo from a commercial satellite did somehow inadvertently sneak through the filter.  Which, by the way, as a sidebar, proves that Google cannot be trusted; nor can their archived maps be considered as gold coin when used to prove or disprove one conspiracy theory or another.  But that is all for a different discussion.

In addition to Kobanî, two other major infrastructure objects of the American military have been spotted in Northern Syria.  One of which is capable of receiving an F-35.  The number of American advisors there is estimated to be several hundred persons.  Who generally carry light weapons and drive around in Hummers.  Krutikov claims these American advisors have been overheard complaining about the horrendous conditions of their daily lives.  Well, it was never meant to be the Ritz.

The Great Game

In addition to their Kurdistan efforts, the Americans — as is their wont — also have some stuff going on in the South of Syria.  This one is sort of an echo of the “Sycamore” project and involves setting up some kind of bases in Jordan.  And also involves Arabs, instead of Kurds.

Earlier this year (spring of 2017), the Pentagon suddenly fell in love with an armed group nobody had heard of before.  They call themselves Maghawir al-Thawra, which apparently mean, in Arabic, “Commanders of the Revolution”.  When I was trying to figure out how to transliterate these words from Russian (Мугхавейр ат-Тавра) to English, I figured out, by poking around (I can’t read Arabic, unfortunately) the al-Thawra portion of the name (which is Arabic for “Revolution”) and i subsequetly hit upon this link in Google.  According to which, al-Thawra is an “experimental crust punk” band (whatever that means) from Chicago, Illinois.

Hm… probably not the group that Krutikov had in mind.  Maybe these guys.  Says that they “received training and advanced weaponry” from something called the “Authenticity and Development Front”.  In which case, whether these guys are a crust punk band or a “Authenticity” front group, either way, they sound more and more like a more demented episode from some insane American TV show written by, say, J.J. Abrams.

Syrian soldiers celebrate their victory at Deir ez-Zoar

Be that as it may, this particular punk band crossed over the border from Jordan into Syria, occupied a small town called Al-Taif, and were handsomely rewarded by the Americans with the Holy Grail itself:  TOW anti-tank complexes!  Not bad for an experimental doom-crust Muslim punk band from Chicago!  Except that the punkers were soon chased out of the area by the Syrian regular army forces and their Persian allies.  Who have proved in the past, for example at the Palmyra gig, that they prefer Bach and Prokofiev and such-like classics to edgier “crust” music.

In the game score so far, the Americans and their punk allies lost Al-Taif, but do seem to be settling in to a “Kurdistan” area.  This is their singular mini-success so far.  But the game is not over yet, and the Syrian government has vowed to cleanse the American soldiers out altogether.  There is no place for them or their punk bots in a unified, secular, and multi-ethnic Syria.

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Americans Suffered A Series of Defeats In Syria – Part IV

Dear Readers:

Continuing to read through Evgeny Krutikov’s piece in VZGLIAD, about the American military’s failed strategy in Syria.  These strategic errors were committed mostly in the Obama administration and continued unto the Trump administration.

Where we left off, Krutikov mentioned, as one of a string of failures, Operation Timber Sycamore, which was intended to (secretly) purchase aging Soviet weapons in Eastern Europe, using money that Congress had not formally approved in the budget.  Weapons intended for Kurdish fighters ended up all over the place, including Jordan, and mostly in the wrong hands.  Krutikov compares this operation to the famous Iran-Contra Affair of the 1980’s.  There are significant differences, however, in the two cases.

Leaving Krutikov aside for a few paragraphs and

Strolling down memory lane…   The Iran-Contra Affair revealed a rather queer relationship between the Reagan Administration, and the nation of Iran, which was supposed to be a pariah.  The essence of the matter is that Reagan and his minions (using Israel as an intermediary) were caught red-handed illegally selling arms to Iran (which was under an international arms embargo), and then using the money thus obtained, to equip the Contra forces in Nicaragua.  According to wiki, the following arms were sold to Iran:

  • August 20, 1985 – 96 TOW anti-tank missiles
  • September 14, 1985 – 408 more TOWs
  • November 24, 1985 – 18 Hawk anti-aircraft missiles
  • February 17, 1986 – 500 TOWs
  • February 27, 1986 – 500 TOWs
  • May 24, 1986 – 508 TOWs, 240 Hawk spare parts
  • August 4, 1986 – More Hawk spares
  • October 28, 1986 – 500 TOWs

Reagan hated Ortega more than he hated the Ayatollahs.

The beneficiary of the revenues from these arms sales, the Contras, were your usual ultra-violent “militant” and guns-in-hand types normally favored by the Americans in their regime-change operations.  Except these guys weren’t Muslims or jihadists, of course; being Central Americans they were fanatical anti-Communists, the types who normally act as trained thugs of the banana landowners and such like.  The type of people who rape and murder campesinos and Nuns, while parading as “pro-democracy forces”.  The Contra bullies were sicced against the Sandinistas, a rather mild-mannered social-democratic government which sought to better the lives of the workers and peasants in this highly patriarchal and class-stratified area of the Spanish Civilizational World.  However, their friendship with Cuba made the Sandinistas a target of American regime change.  Left-wing governments typically don’t last very long in America’s back yard.  Cuba being the one exception to that rule.

Americans have long supported such retrograde forces in South and Central America, so no surprise there.  The only paradox was the Reagan administration’s seeming coziness with America’s legitimate foe, the Iranians.  Those same Iranians who had invaded the American Embassy in 1979 and taken American diplomats as hostrages.  Which action was not only a gross violation of international law and all the rules of diplomacy, but also served as, to my knowledge, one of the few times in recent history when the Americans actually had a legitimate beef  and were actual victims as opposed to perps.  Granted the Iranians were just getting even for some bad stuff the Americans had done to them in the past (Shah of Iran, long story…)  But still, attacking somebody’s Embassy is still a big no-no, however great the provocation.  And also serves as perhaps the only time in history that the Persians/Iranians actually did something overtly aggressive against the United States of America, and thus places a stain on their otherwise good record.

Given all that, it was quite astonishing that, just a few years later, Saint Ronnie was cutting a deal with those same Iranian “Shiites” and “Ayatollahs” that the American public had come to know and despise.  There are tons of conspiracy theories out there concerning Reagan’s ties with the Ayatollahs, perhaps even pre-dating his election to the Presidency.  Dirty deeds afoot, in other words…

The Kurdish Gambit Part II

But back to Krutikov…  After the failure of Timber Sycamore — it is estimated that the Obama administration wasted  half a billion dollars on that white elephant –, the Americans decided on a new play, this time also involving the Kurds.  In May 2015 the Commander of the American Forces in the Middle East, Joseph Votel, secretly (and illegally) flew to Syria in a helicopter and met with the commanders of the two main Kurdish militias and their Arabic-speaking tribal allies.  The Arabs, in particular, were expecting and hoping for heavy weapons transfers.  Instead, Votel proposed for them an even better gift:  American advisors and trainers – yay!

The fight for Raqqa…

The Kurds reluctantly agreed.  Thus, in October 2015 a small group of 15 American trainers landed in Syrian Kurdistan.  And since that time the Americans have placed all their bets on the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF).

And the Kurds even got some of those heavy weapons after all:  During the siege of Raqqa, American howitzers and HIMARS started to appear among the Kurdish forces.  But only under the strict supervision of American personnel.

[to be continued]

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Americans Suffered A Series of Defeats In Syria – Part III

Dear Readers:

Continuing to read Evgeny Krutikov’s piece in VZGLIAD, about the string of setbacks in Syria.  On the part of the American government and military.  From the point of view of the Syrian government and military, it’s been a very long slog from defeat to victory.

Osama/Obama enjoyed the services of the same Polish prostitute.

We start this discussion with a broad proposition:  That the American government, for whatever reason (and that would be a very long discussion) had decided on a policy of “regime-change” in Syria.  To replace a government perceived as hostile to American-Saudi interests with a friendlier one.  Using pretty much the same jihadists as the ones who overthrow the Gaddafi government in Libya.  After Iraq and Libya, Syria was next in line.  Just for the record:  According to the Brzezinski-Kissinger plan, the list of target nations went something like this, not necessarily in this exact order:  Serbia, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Iran, North Korea, Russia, China.  After which, when all these dominoes have fallen, the world will rest happy and secure in the blissful Pax Americana/Pax Saudica.

SUBROUTINE SYRIA

Plan A:  The Assad government will be overthrown by the same towel-head jihadists as did away with Colonel Gaddafi, using the Libyan city of Benghazi as their springboard.

John Kirby

Then something went terribly wrong.  Where we left off, ISIS had decapitated (and posted on gruesome videos) a group of American and British hostages, at least some of whom were most likely assets of their respective intelligence agencies, working the Syrian theater.  Later data coming in showed that the terrorist leader “Jihad John” had previously contacted the American government, demanding millions of dollars in ransom; which had been refused.  At that time, the official representative of the Pentagon war Rear Admiral John Kirby.  Normally a man like Kirby would be forced to fall upon his sword, with such a failure as the hostage executions; but Kirby was able to shift the blame to the CIA.  To be clear, the way I interpret Krutikov’s point:  the executions themselves were not the failure here, nor the policy of not paying ransom to terrorists, which is probably a sensible one — the real failure was that these intelligence assets were “made” by the terrorists and captured in the first place.  They were supposed to be under cover.  This showing the failure of the “HumInt” portion of the Western secret services, especially in the Middle Eastern arena.

Kurds are real people, and they like to smoke.

Plan B:  The Obama Administration next tried the Free Syrian Army gambit, pretending that there was a moderate, secular, non-jihadist wing of the anti-Assad opposition.  Who would win the war and bring a “democratic” pro-American government to power in Syria.  That gambit failed too, and very few people were fooled by that whole “Moderate Terrorist” jive.

Plan C:  The next group of designated “saviors” were the Kurds.  As a professional to a professional, Krutikov “approves” of this plan, it was actually the only rational one that the Americans came up with.  Why?  Because, unlike “Moderate Terrorists”, who are on the order of “imaginary friends”, Kurds actually exist.

It was called “Operation Timber Sycamore“.  President Obama and his Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, personally signed off on this plan.  Saudi Arabia also pitched in and was a big supporter.  According to Krutikov, the plan was fairly much a word-by-word repeat of  the Iran-Contra Scheme (aka the “Oliver North Affair”) of the 1980’s.  A scheme which was apparently taught in Soviet spy textbooks as object lesson in how NOT to perform total Idiocy.  The key point in schemes of this type is to hide the money trail, from American Congress, among others (although Congress in modern decades is more pliant than even servile Congress of the Reagan era, so why bother even hiding money?).  Aging Soviet weapons purchased in Eastern Europe (on the Saudi dime) flooded Syria.  They were meant primarily for the Kurds, but, as per expected, and as prophesied by Chaos Theory, which predicts a world in which Zombies battle Dinosaurs in the Latter Days, things soon got out of hand.

The degree of theft was amazing.  Literally millions of dollars of equipment was simply filched from its “rightful” recipients.  The nation of Jordan was the worst hit.  Intelligence Army officers became millionaires overnight and started driving around in Ferraris.  Local mafias engaged in mob wars over control of the stolen loot.  Military bases became the centers of mafia shoot-em-ups.

Ramifications this huge could not be kept hidden.  Like the Bible says, “For nothing is secret, that shall not be made manifest; neither any thing hid, that shall not be known and come abroad.” [Luke 8:17]

In all this mess, Hillary Clinton’s dirty laundry was exposed to the world [metaphorically only, I hope].  Wikileaks dug up tons of dirt on her, and her despicable role in all of this.

Plan D:  Kurds again.  But since the Kurds never actually received the cache of weapons that were intended for them in “Sycamore”, well, let’s try again.  But this time offering them land-based support…

[to be continued]

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