Mattis Resigns

From Patrick Lawrence at Consortium News:

The U.S. is not closing down its military presence in Syria. It is digging in for an indefinite period, making Raqqa the equivalent of the Green Zone in Baghdad…

As Trump finishes his second year in office, the pattern is plain: This president can have all the foreign policy ideas he wants, but the Pentagon, State, the intelligence apparatus, and the rest of what some call “the deep state” will either reverse, delay, or never implement any policy not to its liking.

From Zero Hedge:

From the WSJ:

“More than 7,000 American troops will begin to return home from Afghanistan in the coming weeks, a U.S. official said. The move will come as the first stage of a phased drawdown and the start of a conclusion to the 17-year war that officials say could take at least many months. There now are more than 14,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan…”

The United States has spent well over $840 billion fighting the Taliban insurgency while also paying for relief and reconstruction in an “endless war” that has become more expensive, in current dollars, than the Marshall Plan, which was the reconstruction effort to rebuild Europe after World War II.

From MoA:

Trump did not “capitulate”. He always wanted to pull the U.S. troops out of Syria. He said so many times. When he was finally given a chance to do so, he grabbed the opportunity…

Erdogan had planned to only occupy a 10 miles deep strip along the Syrian-Turkish border. Some 15,000 Turkish controlled ‘Syrian rebels’ stand ready for that. He would need some 50-100,000 troops to occupy all of east Syria northward of the Euphrates…

Kurdish population in Syria is only 5% whereas the land they now control is 30% of the country.

From Ray McGovern:

Mattis was simply incapable of acknowledging the self-destructive, mindless nature of U.S. “endless war” in the Middle East, which candidate-Trump had correctly called “stupid.” In his resignation letter, Mattis also peddled the usual cant about the indispensable nation’s aggression being good for the world…

Trump ought to unleash Mattis now, and make sure Mattis keeps his distance from the Pentagon and the Military-Industrial Complex, before he is asked to lead an insurrection against a highly vulnerable president — as Gen. Smedley Butler was asked to do back in the day. Butler said no.

From Finian Cunningham:

Just as President Donald Trump announces this week that he is pulling out American troops from Syria (illegally present there for the past four years), the same administration is stepping up its military involvement in Ukraine…

On Dec 18, Russian State Television announced that Poroshenko’s attack on the Donbas of eastern Ukraine is expected on Dec 24/25 as Poro’s marshal-law-period approaches end and after large military buildup of 150 tanks and associated artillery pieces and call for “volunteers”.

From Elijah Magnier:

Trump is intentionally leaving behind a very chaotic situation in the Levant, and is setting a deadly trap for Russia in the first place, but also for Iran and Turkey…

Moscow has already warned Turkey against moving into the northeast Syria…

If Erdogan doesn’t coordinate with Russia and Iran, the Idlib front will be opened…

Last February, Damascus ordered its forces to cross the Euphrates in an attempt to attack ISIS and control the oil and gas fields. These were attacked by the US coalition, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Syrian and Russian Wagner contractors.  

From Elijah Magnier:

“There will be no other army on the Syrian territory but the national Syrian Arab Army”, were the instructions of President Bashar al-Assad to the Syrian delegation engaged in dialogue with the Kurds, according to this source…

Russia informed President Erdogan that it will not accept any crossing into the province, and that it will be up to the Syrian army to move in if the US withdraws its troops from the occupied area”…

Up to now the Kurds had been prepared to rely on any foreign country, including Israel, to provide them with independence, rather than remaining loyal to Syria, the country that has hosted them for decades.

From Russia Today:

Russia’s Defense Ministry has said Israel carried out airstrikes on Syrian targets as two civilian flights were landing in Beirut and Damascus, putting passengers at risk…

The Israeli Air Force used as many as 16 US-made laser-guided GBU-39 bombs, but only two of them reached their targets. Most were intercepted by Syria’s air defenses, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Two precision munitions hit a logistics compound 7km away from Damascus, injuring three personnel there…

In September, a tragic sequence of events led to the downing of a Russian surveillance Il-20 plane, which killed all 15 crew on board. The plane was shot down by Syrian air defense units as Israel’s F-16s effectively used it as cover during the attack on its neighbor.

From South Front:

Since November, the Kiev regime has repeatedly claimed that Russia is about to invade Ukraine and openly prepared for the resumption of hostilities in the region by deploying additional troops and equipment in eastern and southern parts of the country. Top Ukrainian officials also threatened to stage fresh military provocations in the region, like a naval operation to break the nonexistent “Russian siege” on the Sea of Azov.

However, Poroshenko’s plans found little if no support among Western states, in particular in the United States. This became on of the main factors limiting the chances of a new hot conflict in the region.

From Zero Hedge:

“Russia was forced to develop the Avangard (hypersonic glider) after the US withdrew from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002,” Putin explained, adding, “the Trump administration’s plan to scrap a treaty on medium-range missiles could lead to a new arms race…”

Shortly after the test, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov told Rossiya 24 TV channel that the new glider could strike a target at 30,000 km/h or 19,000 mph, reported RT.  Borisov said the excellent mobility makes the Avangard one of the hardest targets to hit. He explained: “There’s almost no missile that can shoot it down at such speeds.”

From MoA:

To prevent a Turkish onslaught, the local armed groups, who collaborated with the U.S. military, invited the Syrian army to take over. This pattern will repeat elsewhere…

To cover the withdrawal from Syria the U.S. military established two new bases in Iraq. These are also blocking positions designed to prevent over land traffic between the Levant and Iran. It is unlikely that the U.S. will occupy those bases for long. The Iraqi parliament is already moving to again throw out all U.S. forces from its country.

From Elijah Magnier:

None of the three Iraqi leaders (Prime Minister Adel Abdel Mahdi, Speaker Mohammad al-Halbusi, President Barham Salih) came to receive Trump as all three rejected US conditions for such a meeting…

To have met on the US-controlled part of the Iraqi-US base would have made Abdel Mahdi appear as an invited guest in his own country…

They felt insulted and have called for the withdrawal of US forces from the country.

From Zero Hedge:

On Sunday Assad took the controversial step of authorizing Iraqi forcesto attack terror targets inside Syria at will, according to state-run SANA “without waiting for permission from authorities in Damascus” while the two allies coordinate action against remaining ISIS pockets in the country’s east.

Quickly on the heels of that decision, Iraqi fighters jets bombed ISIS positions across the Syrian border on Monday.  

From Pat Buchanan:

Seven years and 500,000 dead Syrians later, it is Obama, Sarkozy, and Cameron who are gone. Assad still rules in Damascus…

Muqtada al-Sadr, the [Iraqi] cleric with American blood on his hands from the fighting of a decade ago, is leading the charge to have us booted out.

From Elijah Magnier:

In response to domestic pressure, Trump agreed to extend the deadline for withdrawal of thousands of US troops from the northeaster Syrian province of al-Hasaka from the initial 30 days previously announced until April this year…

Indeed, president Donald Trump did not consult with his European allies and certainly not with the YPG/SDF Kurds of Syria before deciding on withdrawal of his forces…

The sooner US troops pull out the better, if they wish to avoid a vindictive reaction from those who offered themselves as human shield for years and lost thousands of men and women for their dream of Rojava.  

From Russia Insider:

Trump reportedly seeks counsel from [Rand] Paul because Paul is one of the few in Congress who agrees with him…

“These commanders have been singing this tune year after year for 17 years of occupation, and secretaries of Defense have kept agreeing with them,” Andrew Sullivan writes regarding the U.S. presence in Afghanistan. “Trump gave them one last surge of troops—violating his own campaign promise—and we got nowhere one more time. It is getting close to insane.”

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