Russia

The site of American neo-Nazis The Daily Stormer was deprived of a domain in Russia at the request of Roskomnadzor

The site of American neo-Nazis The Daily Stormer was deprived of a domain in Russia less than a day after the transfer to the .ru zone. This was reported by RU-CENTER.

The representative of the registrar said that on August 17 Roskomnadzor applied to them and “demanded to consider the possibility” of blocking The Daily Stormer.

Officially Roskomnadzor states that the site was blocked, as it incites “racial, national and other types of social strife”. In this case, the agency refers to paragraph 5.7 of the registration rules , which allows you to block only sites with phishing schemes, viruses and child porn.

The site http://dailystormer.ru/ was not available until the lock. This is due to the fact that the Cloudflare service refused to support the resource , which protected it from hacker attacks.

The Daily Stormer was forced to register in Russia, when it refused to serve American companies GoDaddy and Google. Companies did not like how Andrew Anglin, the founder of the site, spoke about a woman who died during the riots in Charlottesville.
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Kevin Strom on Russia & Ukraine

prank4,311 words

Translations: PolishRussian

Kevin Strom is one of White Nationalism’s best writers. I seldom disagree with his work, and even when I do, I find it highly valuable as a clear synthesis and statement of beliefs I oppose. A case in point is his August 16, 2014 American Dissident Voices podcast “Jewish Aggression,” Part 2, on the conflict between Ukraine and Russia.

Strom seeks to reduce the Ukraine crisis to a conflict between international Jewry and a Jew-wise Russia. To argue this thesis, Strom dismisses other actors and motives on the Ukrainian side and offers a false picture of the relationship between Russia and Jewry.

Strom begins, “In order to weaken Russia, and eventually install a pro-Jewish government there, the Jewish/US axis has engineered a coup d’etat in Ukraine.” This is wrong on three counts:

  1. The United States and Jewry did not “engineer” the Maidan protests that led to the fall of Viktor Yanukovych’s government. The initial small protests on the Maidan against Yanukovych’s policies attracted little attention. But when they were brutally dispersed by police, Ukrainians of all political convictions, from far Left to far Right, gathered to protest police brutality and generalized corruption, and the protests grew into a revolution. The Maidan protests were not initially or primarily pro-EU or anti-Russian. They were against Yanukovych’s corruption and lawlessness and for honest government.
  2. Once the Maidan protests were underway, the US government and other Jewish-dominated organizations tried to shape the outcome. But it is simply untrue to say that they “engineered” them.
  3. Beyond that, it is false to claim that Yanukovych was ousted by a coup d’etat.  In truth, as the death tolls mounted, he lost his nerve and fled the capital. Describing Yankovych’s fall as a “coup” and the interim government that followed him as a “junta” is just lying Russian propaganda that should not be used by discerning individuals.

Strom continues:

Russians have historically been among the most Jew-aware people on Earth. A century ago the Imperial Russian government set many restrictions on Jewish activity there to prevent the exploitation of its citizens.  When that government was overthrown and Russia was converted into the Soviet Union by the Jewish-dominated Bolsheviks in 1917, a period of overt Jewish rule took place in which millions of the best men and women in Russia were killed, imprisoned, and had their property stolen. Under Communism, “anti-Semitism” was a capital offense.

When a non-Jew, Stalin, evidently an even more vicious player of power politics than his Jewish “comrades,” took control, he distrusted the tribally-focused Jews and proceeded to systematically reduce their power, killing quite a few of them in the process. When faced with the German invasion in 1942, and realizing that more than a few Russians and Ukrainians (Ukraine was then a part of the Soviet Union) were welcoming the Germans as liberators, Stalin ditched much of the Communist party line and embraced Russian nationalism. As a result the post-war Soviet Union became less and less Jewish-controlled and more and more under the control of Russian nationalists. Despite still paying lip service to Marxism, by the 1960s Russian leaders were openly opposed to Zionism, and Jews, no longer favored, were queuing up by the thousands to leave the country. . . .

This is a very misleading picture which conceals the fact that Jews have always been a privileged people in Russia. They were privileged under the Tsars. They were privileged under Stalin and the post-Stalin Soviet regime. And they are privileged under Putin. One has to treat Jewish claims of Russian anti-Semitism very skeptically, since Jews are hardly scrupulous in throwing that epithet around.

According to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Two Hundred Years Together — ably and extensively reviewed by F. Roger Devlin here and here — there were practically no Jews in Russia until the partitions of Poland in 1772, 1793, and 1795, which brought Russia vast territories overlapping today’s Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, and Belarus. The partitions took place during the reign of Catherine the Great, who set the foundations of subsequent imperial Jewish policies.

From the start, Jews were free subjects of an empire in which most whites were serfs. (Serfdom was only abolished in 1861.) In 1785, Jewish communities were granted self-government. In 1786, public offices were opened to Jews.

In 1790, merchants in Moscow petitioned the Empress for relief from Jewish competition, which was granted in Russia proper, laying the foundations of the Pale of Settlement, which encompassed the former Polish-Lithuanian territories, plus “New Russia,” i.e., Ukrainian territories conquered by Catherine the Great from the Turks.

Although Russians were protected from Jewish competition by the Pale, the relationship was reciprocal: Jews within the Pale were protected from Russian economic competition. In short, the Pale of Settlement was a vast area given to Jews for unlimited and ruthless economic exploitation of whites, leading to massive poverty and misery.

If Jews were a privileged people in Imperial Russia, whence the perennial kvetchingabout Russian anti-Semitism? Simple: Jews did not think they were privileged enough. They wanted to exploit the whole of the Russian Empire, which they duly seized during the Bolshevik revolution.

Given the overwhelmingly Jewish nature of Bolshevism, when Stalin purged the party, he of necessity purged many Jews who opposed him. After the foundation of Israel, Stalin purged Jews for Zionist tendencies. But Jews who did not oppose Stalin were not purged and indeed enjoyed positions of power and trust throughout his regime.

For example, the Ukrainian-born Jew Lazar Kaganovich, one of history’s great butchers, was the architect of the Ukrainian famine and the Gulag. He enjoyed Stalin’s confidence to the very end. He may have had a hand in Stalin’s death. It is even claimed that Stalin married a shadowy Kaganovich sister named Rosa. After Stalin’s death, Kaganovich remained on the Politburo until 1957, when he tried to engineer a party coup against Khrushchev. In 1961, he entered an evidently comfortable and secure retirement and died at the age of 97, just after the fall of Communism.

If Jews were a privileged people under Stalin, what is the basis of claims of Stalinist anti-Semitism? Again, Jews simply felt that they were not privileged enough. Also, Jews propagate the idea of Soviet anti-Semitism to obfuscate the overwhelming Jewish culpability in the crimes of communism. Finally, Stalin may not have hated Jews as such, but many Jews hated Stalin, and that is sufficient ground to be called an anti-Semite

After Stalin, Jews remained a privileged people as well. After all, what other group could emigrate en masse from Russia?

Under Putin today, Jews remain a privileged group. Yes, when Putin came to power, he redistributed some of the ill-gotten wealth of largely Jewish oligarchs, and some of the oligarchs have predictably squealed about anti-Semitism. But Putin’s policies were certainly not anti-Semitic per se, as a new crop of Jewish oligarchs has emerged under Putin’s tenure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin visits Israel

Even Strom admits that “Putin speaks highly of Jews and disparagingly of anti-Semitism, though he keeps some pet Jews (with no trace of real power) in his circles [Who are these Jews, and how does Strom know they have no real power? Does one appease people who have no “real power”?], and though he has outlawed ‘extremism’ as a versatile way of cementing his rule . . .” But Strom has convinced himself that Putin doesn’t really mean it. Because Putin acted against some Jews, Strom is convinced that he really opposes all Jews as Jews.

putinwailingwall

Strom claims that the aim of the “Jewish/US axis” is “to weaken Russia, and eventually install a pro-Jewish government there” and “the Jewish power structure is most anxious that Russia be surrounded, its government overthrown, and a new ‘democracy’ installed there.” But this does not hold water, since there is already a pro-Jewish government in Moscow. As far as Russian Jews are concerned, Putin is quite pro-Jewish. There are Jews on the American side, Jews on the Russian side, and Jews on the Ukrainian side of this conflict. No matter what the outcome, Jews are positioned to benefit. This is one meaning of Jewish hegemony. But it also means that the events in Ukraine cannot be reduced to a simple “Jews versus Russia” opposition.

Strom has also convinced himself that Putin’s foreign policy is based not on calculations of Russia’s national interests, but on a desire to combat international Jewry:

. . . in the last few years, every time the US/Israeli warmongers were attempting to start another war in the Middle East — first in Iran and then in Syria — Vladimir Putin checkmated them. For these things, the Jews cannot forgive him. They are very worried about a resurgent, nuclear-armed, and Jew-aware Russia — and any alliances she may build in an increasingly Jew-aware world.

Putin’s policies certainly irritate the Israelis. They irritate American neoconservatives. And they irritate the broader American Jewish community, which harbors extremely irrational anti-Russian hatreds going back to the 19th century. But Putin’s policies are not directed at Jews as such. Instead, Putin regards the United States as his primary adversary, Israel as a US client, and international Jewry as a divided community whose favors he ardently seeks to woo.

Strom has even convinced himself that Putin might not really mean it when he says he is fighting against “fascism” in Ukraine, or that by being a good nationalist, he is effectively a fascist, even if he denies it:

Vladimir Putin, whatever he may believe personally, is forced by political necessity to praise the “heroic Soviet soldiers” who “saved the Motherland from Hitler.” Russia has quite as many “my country is always right” patriots as does America, where the fighters in the “good war” (which wasn’t good at all) must be praised in Politically Correct terms by all politicians or those politicians will face political suicide. Putin therefore presents himself as (and may even believe himself to be) an “anti-Fascist” even while he pursues essentially nationalist policies, simply because those are the policies that are objectively good for Russia, even going so far as to decry the low White birthrate and implement laws designed to increase it.

Putin has adopted a range of sensible policies, but the fact that he is committed to maintaining Russia as a multiracial, multicultural empire means that all these sound policies actually work against the racial interests of Russian whites, who suffer from catastrophically low fertility and are being outbred by Muslims from the Caucasus and Orientals in the East. (Incentives to raise birthrates will not help if they are applied equally to more fertile non-Russians as well.)

Putin’s form of conservative, race-blind, Jew-friendly civic nationalism is actually the worst case scenario for whites, since it places an essentially anti-white system on firmer political and economic foundations, which will allow its anti-white, ethnocidal trends to proceed more efficiently until Russia’s white population is biologically beyond recall. But Putin doesn’t think this way, because he is not a “fascist,” i.e., a racial nationalist — not even an “implicit” one.

Thus when Putin claims that he is battling against fascism and anti-Semitism in Ukraine, he really means it. And, as a “fascist” and anti-Semite, Strom needs to take him at his word. Vladimir Putin is not our “secret friend.”

What does Strom have to say about the real “fascists” and anti-Semites in the Ukraine crisis, namely the political party Svoboda (Freedom) and its radical break-away group Right Sector?

Since late last year, the Jewish power structure, through its puppet, the United States, was trying to overthrow the legitimate elected government of Ukraine [This reads like Russian boilerplate. Since when does the National Alliance recognize elections as legitimating anything?], which had taken a position of moderate and positive engagement with Russia [a rather delicate description of Yanukovych selling his country’s alignment to the highest bidder]. Hundreds of millions of US taxpayer dollars were expended to recruit a group of supposedly “right wing fascist” mercenaries [Is Strom asserting that the US created and/or pays and/or controls Right Sector? What is the proof?], who were carefully watched at all times by Jewish and US intelligence operatives [Sounds like a likely deduction being passed off as fact], since they were not entirely trusted. These groups were politically and philosophically descended from the Ukrainians who joined the German forces in World War 2 to liberate their country from Communism. [And should thus have Strom’s default sympathy.] The understanding of the members of these groups ranged from full awareness that the Jews were responsible for the historical starvation and enslavement of Ukrainians — to jingoistic petty nationalists who blamed everything on “Russians.” Frustrated by political impotence [Svoboda has actual elected officials] and long-fooled by American anti-Communist rhetoric [or perhaps merely alarmed by Russia’s paeans to the glories of Stalininsm], they were ripe for exploitation. These mercenaries were provided with weapons and other military hardware. They provided much of the “muscle” for the overthrow of Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych last February.

. . .

The naive nationalists in Ukraine were fooled. They were tricked into fighting the wrong enemy. They were fooled by promises of support from their real enemy — the regime in Washington. They were fooled because they were petty nationalists, not racial-nationalists. I pray that some of them are racial-nationalists now. They were fooled — not unlike the way their grandfathers were fooled into thinking that the Russian foot soldiers who enforced the Jews’ orders to starve Ukraine were the real enemy. They didn’t see the big picture.

Strom wishes to argue that Jews, not Russians, are responsible for all the evils of Communism, thus Ukrainians who dislike and distrust Russians are being “petty” and deluded.

  1. This is contradicted by Strom’s own claim that during World War II “Stalin ditched much of the Communist party line and embraced Russian nationalism” in order to beat the Axis and regain control over Ukraine. If there really was a point that the USSR ceased being a recognizably Jewish regime and became a Russian nationalist regime instead, then why is it not reasonable for Ukrainians to resent specifically Russian domination?
  2. Moreover, Russian domination over Ukraine goes back to the 18th century, and Ukrainians remember that it was the Russians who created the Pale of Settlement, confirming and expanding Jewish exploitation in Ukrainian lands.
  3. Finally, Ukrainians have every reason to dislike and distrust Russians for their actions today. It is Russians who seized control of Crimea (a real coup), sending in Russian troops operating as partisans (without uniforms), and legitimating it with a farcical referendum which only offered two choices — Crimean independence or being absorbed by Russia — and then probably rigging the whole thing, just to be sure. It is Russians who have incited unrest in Eastern Ukraine, providing troops and weapons to separatists (and lying about it all the while), leading to the needless deaths of thousands.

As for Svoboda and Right Sector, they are not perfect, but in terms of their ideological roots, principles, and goals, they are Jew-wise racial nationalists. Yet Strom is willing to make excuses for what he assures us are Putin’s merely strategic nods to Jewish power and Russian petty nationalism, but he is unwilling to accord Svoboda and Right Sector similar courtesies.

It means nothing to Strom that Putin puts a beanie on and prayerfully presses his hand to the Wailing Wall like every other white leader. “We can trust Vlad,” Strom whispers assuringly, “because he’s just lying to the Jews and the Russians.” But if the leader of Svoboda — an actual member of the interim government — meets with John McCain, or if the leader of Right Sector engages in some wink-wink, nudge-nudge to calm the local Jews, Strom intuits treason in their hearts.

Why the double standard? Why the indulgence for Putin and jaundice toward Ukrainian White Nationalists?

Even as Russia claims to be fighting against anti-Semitism in Ukraine, pro-Russian propagandists seem anxious to sway foreign anti-Semites to their side by making a great deal of the Jews involved in the Ukrainian interim government, the subsequently elected government, and the outside parties that have tried to shape the Ukrainian Revolution.

For instance, Volodymyr Groysman is a deputy prime minister, and Ihor Kolomoisky is governor of the Dnipropetrovsk region. Both of them are Jews. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of casual dishonesty among anti-Semites, which leads to many false accusations. For instance, Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, President Petro Poroshenko, and Kiev Mayor Vitaly Klitschko have all been called Jews, but no firm evidence has been offered for these claims. (If Klitschko is a Jew, it is rather odd he named one of his sons after Max Schmeling.) American Jewish neocon Victoria Nuland — whom anti-Semites tiresomely refer to by her family’s original German name Nudelman, as if it were somehow more “Jewish” than Nuland — was on the scene and certainly up to no good during the Maidan protests.

But what does this all mean? The Maidan Revolution was made by a wide coalition of groups, including Ukrainian White Nationalists, and the subsequent governments have reflected the different strands of this coalition. Yet pro-Russian/anti-Ukraine propaganda treats the involvement of Jews as revealing the essence of the Ukrainian regime. They refer to the government as “Jewish,” tout court, and shamelessly slander Ukrainian White Nationalists as Jewish puppets, stooges, and collaborators.

But the involvement of Jews in the Putin regime is treated as accidental and negligible. Strom assures us that they are mere “pets” with “no trace of real power.” It is hard to judge such claims, of course, because Strom does not name names. Using English, French, and German sources, it is actually quite difficult to discover the ethnicity of many of Putin’s ministers, which itself is suspicious. But two are explicitly identified as Jews even by Wikipedia: Igor Levitin (Transportation Minister, 2004–2012) and Mikhail Fradkov (Director of Foreign Intelligence from 2007 on). Director of Foreign Intelligence is certainly not a position with “no trace of real power.” You can be assured if Ukraine had a Jewish Director of Foreign Intelligence or Transportation Minister, we would never hear the end of it.

Again, why the double standard? If there are Jews on both sides of the Russia-Ukraine conflict, why does the presence of Jews in the Ukrainian government prove that is is “Jewish” while the presence of Jews in the Russian government apparently means nothing at all (lest it undermine the false narrative that Russia is “Jew-wise” and working to counter international Jewry)?

The fact-fudging rush to brand the Ukrainian government “Jewish” aims to obscure the true nature of the Ukrainian situation, namely, that Ukraine has a parliamentary system with a number of different parties, in which common aims and enemies can lead to unlikely coalitions. Most importantly, it seeks to obscure the fact that the Ukrainian Revolution is by no means over. The situation in Ukraine is fluid and developing. It is too soon to say that Ukraine will be sucked into NATO and the EU, that it will lose its independence to the West, that it will be flooded with non-white immigrants and asylum seekers, etc. Certainly not if Ukrainian nationalists have anything to say about it.

Unfortunately, ongoing Russian intervention has pushed Ukraine closer to the West, caused the various parties to set aside their differences to pose a united front, and disproportionately absorbed the energies of the nationalists. But when the insurgency in the East is over, then the nationalist struggle for an independent Ukrainian third way will resume. In the meantime, it is simply intellectually dishonest to pretend that one already knows the outcome.

But let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that in the end, the nationalists will lose and Ukraine will become absorbed by the West. Is it really the position of Strom and other Russia apologists that Svoboda and Right Sector should have never even tried? The Putin apologists claim that it is futile for Ukraine to ever seek national self-determination, that Ukraine is doomed either to be a Russian satellite or an American one. My question is: Do they think that nationalism is futile in all cases? Is it futile in France? Is it futile in Germany? In Denmark? In Sweden? Do they think that it is futile for Americans to try to build an alternative to the Democrat vs. Republican hegemony?

What kind of White Nationalists believe that White Nationalism is futile everywhere it is tried? Such people obviously are in no position to lead, so they should step down. Or, since they presumably believe that Russian nationalism, at least, is not futile, perhaps they should simply become full-time apologists for Russia. Unfortunately, some websites are already drifting in that direction.

Or do these White Nationalists believe that our cause is futile only in Ukraine? If so, why? The answer is obvious: because they are engaged in special-pleading for Russia. (Presumably they would say the same thing about Belarus, too, should that nation grow restive in Moscow’s shadow.)

So both options really reduce to the same shameful toadying for Russian petty imperialism under the delusional conviction that it is really a battle for all whites against America and international Jewry.

This delusion is the “big picture” that Strom thinks the Ukrainian nationalists have missed and that the whole world should see:

The big picture of Jewish power ranged against the freedom and self-determination of all peoples — and against the very survival of our race itself. That’s the reality of what’s happening in Ukraine — that’s the reality of what’s happening all around the world today, from Cleveland to Gaza to Stockholm to Vladivostok: the Jewish war against our freedom, against our future, and against our very existence. And showing our people that reality is our highest duty.

I agree fully with Strom’s general point that Jewish power is arrayed against the freedom and self-determination of all peoples, and this is the chief impediment to white survival. But that is not the battle in Ukraine today. Russia is not fighting against international Jewry. Putin is engaged in petty imperialist aggression against a former vassal state that wishes to assert its legitimate rights to freedom and self-determination.

Being an independent nation means being able to make decisions your neighbors dislike. Respecting the independence of other nations is easy when they only make decisions that please you. The hard part is accepting decisions that displease you. And Russia consistently fails this test with the former Soviet Republics and Warsaw Pact nations. Even though around a quarter century has passed since communism in Europe began its implosion, the Russians have not mentally adjusted to the fact that they cannot boss their neighbors around.

Even more alarmingly, the Russians continue to identify themselves with the Soviet Union—even the regime of Stalin, one of the evilest men in human history—and this identification has been growing stronger, not weaker, with time. For instance, Russia angrily protests—and local Russians have actually rioted—whenever its former imperial subjects move, destroy, or deface Soviet-era monuments to the Red Army that brought slavery, torture, deportations, and death to their countrymen—or when they try to honor their countrymen who joined the Axis crusade against communism. Thus it is somewhat beside the point to blame Jews for the crimes of communism when today’s Russians are happy to claim them. In truth, all the efforts of George Soros and the US government pale by comparison to Russia’s ongoing NATO recruitment drive.

Thus I completely sympathize with the desire of Russia’s neighbors to enter NATO. They would be fools not to. Every nation must worry about securing its basic sovereignty before it can turn its attention to remoter dangers and larger civilizational issues, and Russia’s former dominions are right to see her as the primary threat.

If Russia did not want NATO extended to her borders, she should have been a better neighbor. But it is never too late to start.

Moreover, NATO expansion is not a threat to Russia’s sovereignty and legitimate interests. It is arrant nonsense for Strom to claim — and here he is just following standard Russian propaganda — that the purpose of the “coup” in Ukraine is “to encircle and conquer Russia.” Russia has the second largest nuclear arsenal on the planet, which is enough to deter any conquest. The claim that Russia is in danger of conquest is no more credible than the Jewish claim that “another holocaust” is around the corner if Jews do not get their way – as if Israel’s mountain of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons were not a sufficient deterrent either.

It would be wonderful if a powerful nation like Russia really were fighting international Jewry and its minions in the name of the self-determination of all peoples. But that is not the case. Strom’s account of the Ukraine-Russia crisis is a tissue of delusions and distortions. But I do not wish to pick on Kevin Strom, who is merely expressing views that are widely held in the White Nationalist community due to intense Russian propaganda efforts. (We should be flattered, I guess, that they think us worthy of deceiving.) I have chosen to respond to Strom in particular simply because of the virtues of his argument: as always, he states his views clearly and compellingly. But in this case, he fails to convince.

Further Reading on Counter-Currents

My Writings:

Greg Johnson, “The Ukraine Crisis” (Translations: CzechSpanish)

Greg Johnson, “The Ukraine Crisis: Taking Our Own Side

Greg Johnson, “What We Don’t Know About Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 . . .” (Czech translation here)

Other Authors:

Kerry Bolton, “Geopolitics and Oligarchy in the Ukraine Crisis” (Czech translation here)

Émile Durand, “White Nationalist Delusions about Russia” (German translation here)

Émile Durand, “The Crimea Annexation: Putin Profits from Stalin’s Crimes

Émile Durand, “Look to Ukraine

Émile Durand, “On Russia, Ukraine, and Honor

Guillaume Faye, “Ukraine: Understanding the Russian Position

Guillaume Faye, “On the Russian Annexation of Crimea” (Czech translation here)

Fria Tider, “Swede Patrols Ukraine’s Streets with Right-Wing Militia

Andrew Hamilton, “Russia, Ukraine, and White Nationalism

Collin Liddell, “Vladimir Putin and the Sane Man Theory” (Czech translation here)

Collin Liddell, “False Flags and Dull Facts

Leo Yankevich, “A Hundred Since the First

REPORT: IRAN AND RUSSIA VIOLATED UN WEAPONS SANCTIONS

 

The Islamic Republic of Iran and Russia used a smuggling route to transport offensive weapons, allegedly in violation of UN Resolution 2231, German’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday.

The broadsheet paper cited “Western intelligence services” saying Iran delivered “offensive weapons systems” to Russia via a military air base in Syria.

“In June, two airplanes from Iran flew directly to the Khmeimim Air Base [southeast of Latakia] – the most important Russian military base in Syria – in order to bring the military equipment for transport to Russia,” the paper said.

According to Welt am Sonntag, the heavy military goods were loaded onto trucks and taken to the Syrian port of Tartus. The Russian ship Sparta III then delivered the weapons a few days later to Russia’s main Black Sea port of Novorossiysk.

The paper said the weapons were sent to Russia for “service maintenance.”

It is unclear what types of weapons the Iranian regime sent to Russia. The Iran-Russia transport route was termed “a new smuggling route.”

The exclusive report showed satellite images of an Iranian Boeing airplane at Khmeimim. The US airplane giant Boeing seeks to sell $3 billion in airplanes to an Iranian airline. The revelations of Iran’s allegedly illicit use of a Boeing airplane could jeopardize the deal that faces fierce opposition in the US Congress. Last year, Reps.

Jeb Hensarling of Texas and Peter Roskam of Illinois wrote in a letter to Boeing: “American companies should not be complicit in weaponizing the Iranian regime.” The European airplane company Airbus is holding negotiations to sell 48 helicopters to Tehran.

Russia was part of the P5+1 group of world powers that signed the nuclear deal with Iran in July 2015.

The accord imposed restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for significant sanctions relief.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 2231 was passed that month as part of the nuclear deal’s architecture to restrict Iran’s missile and arms-related activities.

The Jerusalem Post reported last month on Iran’s illicit nuclear and missile weapons procurement activities in Germany during 2016.

According to the state of Hamburg’s intelligence agency: “there is no evidence of a complete aboutface in Iran’s atomic polices in 2016” [after it signed the nuclear deal]. Iran sought missile carrier technology necessary for its rocket program.”

An intelligence report from the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg stated, “Regardless of the number of national and international sanctions and embargoes, countries like Iran, Pakistan and North Korea are making efforts to optimize corresponding technology.”

According to the Baden-Württemberg report, Iran sought “products and scientific knowhow for the field of developing weapons of mass destruction as well as missile technology.” The 181-page document cites Iran’s illicit cyberware, espionage, terrorism and weapons of mass destruction procurement activities 49 times.

A telling example of Iran’s sanctions evasion strategy involved the assistance of a front company. The intelligence agency wrote that a Chinese import-export company contacted a firm in the southwestern German state that sells “complex metal producing machines.”

The Baden-Württemberg report said the technology would aid Iran’s development of ballistic missiles.

Germany’s Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control issued an end-use receipt for the Chinese purchase. Intelligence officials notified the manufacturer that the merchandise was slated to be illegally diverted to Iran. “This case shows that so-called indirect- deliveries across third countries is still Iran’s procurement strategy,” wrote the intelligence officials. Sophisticated engineering and technological companies are situated in Baden-Württemberg and it has long been a target for illicit Iranian procurement efforts.

A third state intelligence report from June said that in the 2016, “German companies located in Rhineland-Palatinate were contacted for illegal procurement attempts by [Pakistan, North Korea and Iran]. The procurement attempts involved goods that were subject to authorization and approval on account of legal export restrictions and UN embargoes. These goods, for example, could be used for a state’s nuclear and missile programs.”

The Trump administration will decide in October whether the Iran nuclear deal should again be certified for continuation. US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley is slated to travel to Vienna this month to meet with officials from the International Atomic Energy Agency – the UN nuclear watchdog organization – to discuss Iran’s compliance with the 2015 nuclear pact.

Russia says Syrian government doubled territory it controls

The Syrian government has increased the size of the territory under its control by two and a half times in just two months, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu says, as Syrian forces backed by regional allies and the Russian air force seized thousands of square miles (kilometers) from the Islamic State group in the center of the country.

Syrian government forces supported by Iranian-organized militias and the Russian air force have recaptured much of the country’s central Homs province from the Islamic State group in 2017. Most of the province is desert. It contains several energy fields as well as phosphate minerals.

Syrians walk and drive past destroyed buildings in the government held Jouret al-Shiah neighbourhood of the central Syrian city of Homs on September 19, 2016. (AFP PHOTO/LOUAI BESHARA)

They are driving toward the city of Deir el-Zour, kept under siege by IS militants since 2015.

Shoigu, in an interview on Russian state-owned Rossiya 24 TV, says recapturing Deir el-Zour “will say a lot, if not everything, about the end of the battle with” the Islamic State group.

IRAN AND RUSSIA TO ENHANCE MILITARY TIES AFTER NEW US SANCTIONS

 

In light of new US sanctions on Iran and Russia, the two countries have vowed to enhance their already-deep military cooperation, according to state-run media of both countries.

In July, American lawmakers passed a bill placing sanctions on Russia for the country’s alleged interference in the 2016 US presidential election, while also extending those placed on the country for its 2016 invasion and annexation of Crimea. In response, Russia announced its expulsion of more than 700 US embassy employees.

Sanctions on Iran are meant to punish the country for its continued testing and development of ballistic missiles. Iran has lashed out at the US, saying the sanctions are an affront to the landmark nuclear deal reached two years ago, which the Iranians say they are abiding by.

Sanctions were also extended to North Korea, which continues to launch ballistic missiles that experts have said may now be capable to reaching the United States.

Iran and Russia have a history of military cooperation, stemming from their respective isolation from Western countries. Iran has purchased several billion dollars worth of military equipment, and last year Russia began construction on new nuclear plants in Iran. In addition to regularly holding joint military exercises in their respective countries, Iran and Russia are fighting together with the Assad regime in Syria.

According to Russia Today, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin held talks with Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan. The officials reportedly discussed new supplies of Russian arms to Iran.

They agreed upon the implementation of deals boosting military and technological cooperation, according to Iran’s Fars news agency.

While in Tehran, Rogozin attended the inauguration of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who just began his second term as the country’s leader. He is also is set to meet with Iranian Vice President for Science and Technology to discuss technology sharing between the two countries.

Tillerson: US to respond to Russia’s ouster of diplomats

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that Washington will respond by Sept. 1 to Russia’s move to force a major reduction in American diplomatic staff, a move that echoed former President Barack Obama’s action to kick out Russian diplomats for Moscow’s meddling in the 2016 American election.

Russia said recently it was forcing the US to cut its embassy and consulate staff in Russia by 755 people. But there’s been confusion because the US is believed to have far fewer than 755 American employees in Russia.

Tillerson spoke to reporters during a visit to the Philippines. He said he communicated US plans to respond by that deadline to Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov when they met Sunday in Manila. Tillerson said he told Lavrov that the US still hasn’t decided how it will respond. He added that he asked Lavrov “several clarifying questions” about the act of Russian retaliation.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump grudgingly signed what he called a “seriously flawed” package of sanctions against Russia. The legislation is aimed at penalizing Moscow for interference in the election and for its military aggression in Ukraine and Syria, where the Kremlin has backed President Bashar Assad.

Lavrov told reporters that despite strained relations with Washington, his country was ready for more engagement with the United States on North Korea, Syria, Ukraine and other pressing matters. Lavrov said Russia and the US had agreed to resume a suspended high-level diplomatic channel and Washington would send its Ukraine envoy to Moscow for negotiations.

Lavrov’s upbeat assessment came amid what the U.S. has called a diplomatic low point unseen since the end of the Cold War.

“We felt that our American counterparts need to keep the dialogue open,” Lavrov said. “There’s no alternative to that.”

Trump’s administration has argued there’s good reason for the US to seek a more productive relationship. Tillerson has cited modest signs of progress in Syria, where the US and Russia recently brokered a cease-fire in the war-torn country’s southwest, as a sign there’s fertile ground for cooperation.

The Syrian cease-fire reflected a return of US-Russia cooperation to lower violence there. The US had looked warily at a series of safe zones in Syria that Russia had negotiated along with Turkey and Iran — but not the US.

Lavrov cited upcoming talks involving Russia, Iran and Turkey about how to ensure the truce in the last safe zone to be established, around the north-western city of Idlib. He predicted “it will be difficult” to hammer out the details but that compromise can be reached if all parties — including the US — use their influence in Syria to persuade armed groups there to comply.

Tillerson said Russian meddling in the election had “created serious mistrust between our two countries. A US Justice Department investigation is moving ahead into Russia’s election interference and potential Trump campaign collusion. Trump denies any collusion and has repeatedly questioned US intelligence about Moscow’s involvement.

“We simply have to find some way to deal with that,” Tillerson said. “Now, having said that, we also have very important national security interests in the Middle East, in Syria, and we have important national security interests in Afghanistan and that region of the world, and we have serious needs to begin to address the situation in Ukraine. The Russians have indicated some willingness to begin to talk with us about the way forward on Ukraine.”

Word that US special representative Kurt Volker plans to visit the Russian capital was the latest sign that Washington is giving fresh attention to resolving the Ukraine conflict. The US cut military ties to Russia over Moscow’s annexation of Crimea and accuses the Kremlin of fomenting unrest in eastern Ukraine by arming, supporting and even directing pro-Russian separatists there who are fighting the Kiev government.

In recent days, the Trump administration has been considering providing lethal weaponry to Ukraine to help defend itself against Russian aggression.

In their meeting, Lavrov said, Tillerson agreed to continue a dialogue between US Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov. That channel was created to address what the U.S. calls “irritants” preventing the two countries from pursuing better ties. Russia had suspended the talks after the US tightened existing sanctions on Russia related to its actions in Ukraine.

Lavrov and Tillerson met on the sidelines of an Asian regional gathering in the Philippines. It was their first face-to-face conversation since Congress passed new sanctions legislation in July that makes it harder for Trump to ever ease penalties on Russia. Trump signed the bill last week, but called it “seriously flawed.”

The White House said Trump’s opposition stemmed from the bill’s failure to grant the president sufficient flexibility on when to lift sanctions. Trump’s critics saw his objections as one more sign that he is too eager to pursue closer ties to Russia, or to protect the former Cold War foe from penalties designed to punish Moscow for its actions in Ukraine, election meddling and other troublesome behavior.

US, Russia hurtle toward dangerous escalation

Washington (CNN) The United States and Russia are plunging deeper into their worst crisis since the Cold War, with politics in both nations outpacing the capacity of either government to mitigate the danger.

President Donald Trump’s grudging signature on new sanctions punishing Russia for alleged meddling in last year’s US election sparked an explosive rhetorical response in Moscow on Wednesday.
But the perilous situation is also being exacerbated by the lack of a clear White House approach toward Russia. A simultaneous policy of accommodation and confrontation toward Moscow combined with a tussle for influence between Congress and the President threaten to sow confusion that could increase the chances of a miscalculation between the two nuclear-armed foes.
“I think it is very unclear exactly where the administration intends to go in our dealings with Russia or how it intends to put together a coherent strategy for dealing with Moscow,” said George Beebe, a former director of Russia analysis for the CIA.
“I think there is actually a very real risk that we could get into an escalatory spiral that would be difficult for either country to control,” said Beebe, now with the Center for the National Interest.
Moscow’s protests on Wednesday after Trump signed the sanctions bill reflected fury at the new constraints on the Russian economy — and perhaps also political pressures that left the government little option but to escalate the situation.
And for the first time, there was a note of personal contempt for Trump himself, which may reflect disappointment in Moscow that the President was unable to make good on his promise to improve relations with Russia.
“The Trump administration has shown its total weakness by handing over executive power to Congress in the most humiliating way. This changes the power balance in US political circles,” said Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in a Facebook post. “The US establishment fully outwitted Trump; the President is not happy about the new sanctions, yet he could not but sign the bill.”
The attack followed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement on Sunday that the US must cut its diplomatic staff in Russia by 755 people, in a delayed response to the seizure of Russian compounds and the expulsion of 35 diplomats by the Obama administration to punish the alleged election meddling.
The sanctions bill, passed with veto-proof majorities in Congress, reflected bipartisan skepticism over Trump’s motivations toward Russia and fueled impressions the White House can’t control its own foreign policy.
Trump released a signing statement and press release, arguing that the measure, which limits his power to ease the sanctions, posed constitutional questions. And the President refused to abandon his position that improving relations with Russia — which most people in Washington regard as a serious threat to US interests — was a laudable foreign policy goal.
“We hope there will be cooperation between our two countries on major global issues so that these sanctions will no longer be necessary,” Trump wrote.
But top lawmakers gave little ground.
“The concerns expressed in the President’s signing statement are hardly surprising, though misplaced,” said Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said, “We make the laws, not the President of the United States.”
Wednesday’s events will fuel impressions in both Washington and Moscow that Trump’s weakened political position is threatening his capacity to carry out his own core foreign policy goals.
They are also raising new questions about Trump’s willingness to accept the limits on his own power inherent in the US system of government.
It’s not unusual for a President to register frustration with congressional attempts to force his hand on national security issues — both George W. Bush and Barack Obama used signing statements.
But discord between a president and Congress is more unusual when it comes to the questions of economic sanctions against a rival power.
“Given the statements out of the White House today, Trump detractors could view this as a bit chaotic and as further proof that the executive branch needs congressional oversight on foreign policy issues,” said Lawrence Ward, a partner at Dorsey & Whitney, a firm specializing in US national security law.
“So, by extension, it is fairly easy to envision how other parts of the world could be wondering whether it is President Trump or Congress pulling the foreign policy strings,” Ward said.
Still Ward noted that Trump did sign the sanctions and, in doing so, he presented a united front with Congress toward Moscow — a point also made by Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Bob Corker.
“I’m satisfied with what’s happened and have no concerns whatsoever,” the Tennessee Republican said.
But the sense of uncertainty around a Russia policy for the United States is being compounded by conflicting messages from the administration.
While Trump was talking about future cooperation with Moscow, his vice president has been spelling out a far more hawkish and conventional Republican line toward Moscow during a trip in Eastern Europe this week.
“No threat looms larger in the Baltic states than the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east,” Vice President Mike Pence said in Estonia on Monday.
His comments were far more robust than any made in Europe by Trump, who has been solicitous to Russia for his entire presidency. Yet on Wednesday, Pence also left open the door for engagement with Moscow, telling The Washington Post the President was taking a “we’ll see” attitude toward Russia.
Lawmakers meanwhile reacted angrily Wednesday to reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is not spending money at his disposal to counter Russian disinformation.
Another sign the administration wants to keep Russia on its side came at the G20 summit last month, when the President had a prolonged conversation with Putin at a leaders’ dinner.
At earlier formal talks, the leaders agreed upon a ceasefire deal in southwest Syria. Then Trump ended covert US aid to Syrian rebels trying to topple Assad, seemingly playing into another Russian foreign policy goal.
Yet in April, Trump ordered military action against Russian-backed Syrian forces to punish the use of chemical weapons. And there have been multiple reports the Pentagon and State Department are pushing to send lethal aid to the Ukrainian government — a move that would likely further inflame US-Russia relations.
Short of such a step however, it is not certain that Moscow-Washington ties are headed for a renewal of the Cold War. Both presidents have sent subtle signals in recent days they want to contain the damage.
Putin ordered the cuts in US diplomatic staff before Trump signed the sanctions bill — so it looked like he was responding to Congress and not Trump. The fact that Medvedev — not Putin — issued a tirade against the new sanctions may also be significant.
Trump meanwhile signed the bill behind closed doors, and is yet to respond to Putin’s move on US diplomats — a possible sign that he also wants to avoid a personal escalation with his Kremlin counterpart.
Yet an uncontrollable spike in tensions remains a real danger.
“The situation’s been bad, but believe me, it can get worse,” Tillerson told reporters on Tuesday, paraphrasing his warning to Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov during a meeting in Moscow in April.
“And it just did.”

Russia: U.S. Sanctions Tantamount to ‘Full-Fledged Economic War’

LONDON — Russia’s prime minister has called U.S. sanctions tantamount to economic war on his country, adding that measures signed into law by President Donald Trump reveal the American administration’s “total impotence.”

“The hope that our relations with the new American administration would improve is finished,” Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday on his Facebook page.

Image: Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Alexei Nikolsky / AP

“Trump’s administration has demonstrated total impotence by surrendering its executive authority to Congress in the most humiliating way,” he wrote.

“The U.S. establishment has fully outwitted Trump — the president is not happy about the new sanctions, yet he could not but sign the bill,” he added. “New steps are to come, and they will ultimately aim to remove him from power.”

Medvedev, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, is not considered as powerful as the president, and has seen his reputation tarnished at home with the opposition alleging he was involved in large scale corruption.

The Russian Foreign Ministry put out a more measured response to the sanctions, saying they reserve “the right to other countermeasures.”

The statement on the ministry’s website added: “It is high time the American fans of sanctions, which have plunged the United States into Russophobic hysteria, got rid of their illusions and realized that no threats or attempts to exert pressure will compel Russia to change its course or sacrifice its national interests.”

Earlier, Trump put to rest questions about whether he would support the legislation passed overwhelmingly by Congress last week. But he still excoriated the measure, which limits the ability of the president to lift the sanctions unilaterally, calling it “significantly flawed.”

The bill sanctions Russia — citing its cyberhacking and involvement in Ukraine and Syria — while also slapping new sanctions on North Korea and Iran.

The president signed the bill behind closed doors, afterward stating he did so “for the sake of national unity.”

In one White House statement released after the signing, referred to as the official signing statement, the president called some of the provisions “clearly unconstitutional.”

In a second statement the president said: “The Framers of our Constitution put foreign affairs in the hands of the President. This bill will prove the wisdom of that choice.”

Lawmakers pushed the sanctions in spite of the president’s conciliatory tone toward the country whose government U.S. intelligence agencies concluded meddled in the 2016 presidential election. Russian government officials have denied the allegations, both in the press and to Trump directly.

Last week, Putin accusing the U.S. of attempting to use “geopolitical advantages in competition to pursue economic interests at the expense of [U.S.] allies.”

Trump has hedged repeatedly on the question of Russian responsibility for election meddling last year, saying it is possible Russia was involved but other countries could have had a role.

American Neo-Nazis Are on Russia’s Facebook

An online group called “United Aryan Front” recently warned readers that “the wolves are closing in…and we are the sheepdog” and followed with a call for recruits: “If you are not a part of an organization but would like to join us…you can!! White Lives Matter is the largest organization of whites in the world.”

The post wrapped up with a smattering of hashtags like #WhiteLivesMatterAcrossAmerica.

But the site where this rant was posted isn’t based in America. United Aryan Front, along with scores of other American extremist groups, is on VK, also known as VKontakte—otherwise known as Russia’s version of Facebook. The social network has become a home for white-power groups who were pushed off of Facebook for hate speech, or who want to connect with fellow racists in other countries.

The move to VK is part of the growing tendency of white supremacists to interact in online forums, rather than through real-life groups like the KKK, according to Heidi Beirich, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s anti-terror  Intelligence Project. Through the early 2000s, skinheads and other groups would host dozens of events per year with hundreds of attendees, she says, but now there are only a handful of those rallies each year. “People online are talking about the same kinds of things that used to happen at the rallies, but now they’re doing it completely through the web,” she said.

Jessie Daniels, a sociologist who studies cyber racism, has also noticed that racist groups are now much more active online than in the streets. In this way, they reflect overall trends in society: The rest of us might be Bowling Alone, but white supremacists are rallying alone. For the supremacist groups, the benefits include anonymity, ease, and an opportunity to connect with extremists in other nations. Take, for example, John Russell Houser. Before he killed two people at a showing of Trainwreck in Louisiana last July, he appears to have posted frequently about the Golden Dawn, a far-right Greek political party.

“The internet has made it possible for white people around the globe to identify with trans-local whiteness,” Daniels said.

The most striking evidence of the shift was Dylann Roof, who killed nine African-Americans in a church in Charleston, South Carolina, last April. According to Beirich, Roof had no ties to “real-world” extremists. Instead, he had simply Googled phrases like “black on White crime” and perused sites such as the Council of Conservative Citizens, which traffics in racist rhetoric.

Last year, the overall number of hate groups rose for the first time in five years, according to the SPLC’s annual count. Hits to Stormfront.org, a white nationalist hub with 300,000 registered users, have ticked up since Donald Trump announced his candidacy for president, Beirich said. According to an SPLC study, in the past five years members of Stormfront have murdered nearly 100 people. White nationalists have also taken to Twitter and other sites that host discussion forums. Facebook itself is not immune to white-power groups, who often use coded language like “new Europe.”

Beirich and her group have found that newcomers are sometimes radicalized by these sites, much like some people who debate with ISIS online instead get sucked into its orbit. “It can be someone who posts a banal racist comment and people will swarm them,” she said.

White supremacists began migrating to VK over the past three years, Beirich said, when Facebook cracked down on hate speech. The platform offers a similar user experience as Facebook, complete with profiles and groups, but with seemingly less enforcement. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, which also tracks extremist groups online, gave VK a D- grade for policing hate on its annual report card, but Facebook got a B-.

VK did not return a request for comment by deadline.

Although VK’s terms of service prohibit information “which propagandizes and/or contributes to racial, religious, ethnic hatred or hostility, propagandizes fascism or racial superiority,” Beirich said the site appears to turn a blind eye.

“Certainly from our perspective the site seems like a free-for-all,” she said. “And that is what white supremacists think, too.”

A few quick searches on VK reveal groups dedicated to preserving the Aryan race and honoring the legacy of Hitler. The news site Vocativ has counted 300 or so pro-Hitler groups on the site. Of the 202 followers of the “NSM USA Public Action” Nazi group on VK, 38 list their location as the U.S. And 243 of the more than 14,000 fans of “Aryan Girls” on the site appear to be American. A post on Stormfront claims VK is “used by 70 million white racialists everyday!” [sic]

Two years ago, an Adolf Hitler fan page on VK attempted to hold a “Miss Ostland” beauty pageant, but the page was shut down after Vocativ published a story about the event. Today, the “NSM [National Socialist Movement] USA” page on VK is alive and well. Its latest post was on May 17 —a video of a speech by American neo-Nazi commander Jeff Schoep.

IS WASHINGTON CEDING SYRIA TO RUSSIAN INFLUENCE?

 

US President Donald Trump this week appeared to confirm a number of recent media reports suggesting that the US has scrapped the long-standing covert CIA program to provide weapons and training to Syria’s rebels.

There was much subsequent merrymaking regarding Trump’s supposed ‘revelation’ of the program via his preferred medium of Twitter. This commentary was not serious. The existence of the program, if not its details, has been an open ‘secret’ for a while.

Nevertheless, the decision to scrap the CIA program, now confirmed by General Raymond A. Thomas, head of US Special Operations Command, is a significant development.

So is the US exiting the Syrian stage, and ceding the area in its entirety as a zone of influence to Russia. What will this mean for Syria? Does it imply the eclipse in the entirety of anti-Assad forces and an overall victory for the dictator in the long civil war in Syria?

Observation of the available facts suggests that it isn’t that simple. The CIA program, dubbed ‘Timber Sycamore,’ was created in early 2013 and was intended to support ‘moderate’ units from among the Syrian Sunni rebels, at a time when Islamist and jihadi forces had already become entrenched and prevalent among them.

The first groups of fighters armed by Timber Sycamore began to appear in southern Syria in September 2013. Operating out of military operations centers in Jordan and Turkey, the program involved the vetting and training of Syrian rebels by US personnel, and from 2014, the provision of sophisticated weaponry.

The first reports, for example, of TOW anti-tank missiles in the hands of the rebels, appeared in April 2014. Media reports suggested the involvement of Saudi Arabia in the project, with Riyadh providing arms and money and the Americans responsible for training.

The precise extent of weaponry provided, the list of groups supported, the type of training offered, and the affiliations of the US personnel involved in the training remain classified. However, the impact of the program can be estimated from the results on the ground.

In northern Syria, US-supported groups never managed to dislodge the dominant Salafi-jihadi groups, supported by Qatar and Turkey, most importantly the Ahrar al-Sham group and the al-Qaida-affiliated Jabhat al-Nusra (subsequently renamed Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, after formally ending its al-Qaida allegiance).

Instead, the US-supported groups became de facto partners with these organizations.

In southern Syria, where Salafi jihadi Islamism was weaker, the program has had a greater impact.

With US personnel responsible for training, mainly through the Southern Front of the Free Syrian Army, the US-supported forces (also supported by Jordan and Israel) have succeeded in largely preventing the Assad regime and its allies from reconquering Deraa and Quneitra provinces.

Parallel to the CIA program, the Pentagon has been running its own train-and-equip operation for the war against ISIS. This project, after some initial hiccups, has been notably successful and is slowly and relentlessly driving Islamic State back in its ‘capital’ city of Raqqa.

The beginnings of success for the Pentagon program, however, coincide with the commencement of US cooperation not with the Sunni Arab rebels, but rather with the Kurdish YPG (People’s Protection Units).

This unlikely partnership, which began in October 2014, enabled the US to work with a ready-made coherent force on the ground, rather than to try to help establish and shape one. Subsequently, the Defense Department program has surrounded this Kurdish core with a variety of additional Arab forces, creating the multi-ethnic force which is now known as the Syrian Democratic Forces.

This program has in addition offered training and support to rebel forces in southeast Syria wishing to fight Islamic State. At present, two Arab rebel militias, Maghawir al-Thawra and Shohada al-Quartayn, are receiving training and aid from the US and allied (reportedly British and Norwegian) forces in the desert of southeast Syria.

This train-and-equip program is not being wrapped up. That is, the US is not pulling out of involvement in Syria in toto. Rather, a particular project is being terminated.

So where is this likely to have an impact? For obvious reasons, in the area east of the Euphrates, where the Pentagon train-and-equip program is the relevant project, the termination of Timber Sycamore will have no impact at all.

It will also have little noticeable effect on the remaining rebel enclaves in northwest Syria.

There, the US-supported groups are largely irrelevant. The growing force in Idleb Province is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, which just this week drove the rival Ahrar al-Sham from 31 villages and consolidated its control in Idleb City, the last major urban center in the hands of the rebellion.

The area where the end of Timber Sycamore may have the largest impact is in southwest Syria, in the region adjoining the Golan Heights and the border with Jordan.

Here the decision to end the program seems to follow from the cease-fire concluded on July 7, and the subsequent deployment of Russian ‘military police’ (i.e. re-designated Russian soldiers) to enforce the ‘de-escalation.’ Israel has benefited from the previously existing balance of forces in the southwest, which provided a rebel presence as a kind of buffer against the advance of the regime and its Iranian, Hezbollah and Shia militia allies.

The ending of Timber Sycamore and the de-escalation agreement might tip this balance.

However, this is not a certainty even in the southwest. Firstly, it is possible that the vacuum left by the faltering CIA program may be replaced by another US channel of support, sufficient to prevent rebel collapse in the southwest.

Secondly, Israeli, Jordanian and Gulf support for the rebels may continue to play a similar role.

Thus, the impact of the demise of the ill-fated ‘Timber Sycamore’ project may be somewhat less than might be immediately apparent. The main question facing Syria today is whether the regime (which really means Iran, Hezbollah and allied militias) will continue to expand its area of control under the cover of Russian support and in the face of confusion and lack of strategic clarity from other forces.

The end of the covert CIA program of support for the rebels removes one of the less consequential barriers to this, without making it inevitable.