#2521
i can't get my head around this idlib business, i've given up trying. conflicting reports (as always). the guardian have really thrown a tantrum, they can't believe assad is going to launch an assault when his army is exhausted and on the verge of defeat for the 7th year in a row. the bbc took a surprisingly measured tone, fully copped to the jihadist presence there, but took pains to explain how russia and iran are getting cold feet at the prospect of the assault now their objectives have been met elsewhere (didn't give much detail what these objectives are). NYT and others very careful to lay out all the main players but not explain the connections between them. and turkey are almost universally exculpated in each narrative - they support the rebels, sure, and there are jihadists embedded with these rebels, of course, but you're some kinda assadist maniac if you think turkey are therefore supporting jihadis. the possibility of chinese involvement seems to have largely dropped off the radar so idk what to make of that now.

at its most basic assad wants to retake it, but russia wants to cut a deal. is that fair? not covered in any report: i hear tell the syrian government has tried opening up humanitarian and refugee corridors several times and the rebels have attacked fleeing civilians each time.
#2522
https://www.bbc.com/news/av/world-middle-east-45815979/syria-war-why-i-fight-alongside-assad-s-forces-near-idlib

BBC conveniently distancing itself from the Syrian opposition now that its pretty clear to the general public that all that remains are AQ and groups fighting alongside them.
#2523
judging from the frenzy of msm articles getting realistic about climate change, the assad curse might outlast human civilisation
#2524
hoping by posting "assad must stay" that it will have the opposite effect and i will live forever
#2525

dimashq posted:

the assad curse is the best curse of the 2010s


agreed

#2526
Anyone have any idea what’s up between Saudi Arabia and the West? A couple weeks ago, Trump was saying the Saudi’s would collapse without US support, now you’ve got this business with the journalist getting murdered in the Saudi consulate and MSM doing the opposite of hushing up crimes of American client regimes.
#2527

dimashq posted:

Anyone have any idea what’s up between Saudi Arabia and the West?



#2528
The short version is that the Saudi royal family runs a client state of the U.S. that’s tied to powerful leaders of both major bourgeois parties in the United States, but among those in either party like Trump who aren’t completely dependent on the traditional core of the U.S. political fund-raising establishment, it’s hard to go wrong bashing Saudi Arabia in front of voters. Same with U.S. mainstream media.

I’d love to say that’s because the Saudi royals suck, because they do, but it probably works for those media outlets and politicians more because of widespread anti-Arab racism among Western liberals. The narrative is usually that the virtuous United States government has been manipulated by wily oil thieves who helped 9/11 happen.

Really, though, the one thing the Saudis can do in response is mess with oil prices, which likely won’t happen so soon after a major production agreement between Washington and OPEC, and both Washington and Riyadh are engaged in fighting a couple wars right now with the goal of putting pressure on Tehran and preserving the position of U.S. client states in the Middle East.

Given the position of the Trump administration on Iran, I doubt that that any grumbling from them about the Saudis is going to turn into action or that there’s even really any will to do anything more than complain. Lack of Washington-consensus finesse in public foreign policy statements is just something people have come to expect from the Trump White House, but in terms of what they do instead of just what they say, belligerence toward Iran is one place where Trump’s administration is in line with much of the D.C. elite.

The only counter-tendency in Washington was one of slight degree instead of kind, meaning the Obama/Democrat line of measured, calculated belligerence against Iran, and not even Hillary Clinton thought that was enough, so it’s effectively dead in the water right now as the Democrats try to run a bunch of Troops to prove they’re better at shooting and bombing foreigners than the President is.
#2529
about the opec, i thought it was the exact opposite, like saudis (and the rest of opec) refuse to ramp up production which means the price of oil will stay high and iran would suffer less, which was why trump was rambling about the oil stuff recently. not that it would be enough to cause a policy reversal about the saudis
#2530
I posted some about that a while back, but the Saudis cut a deal after that and now they’re ramping up production to (supposedly at least) fill the gap left by new sanctions against Iran plus the added impact of a lot of “stealth” sanctions against Venezuela through rules established by U.S. executive-branch agencies.

The price of oil is still way up though, and the interesting thing about that to me is that Russia is also increasing production as part of the current push, and Russia selling more oil without the price dropping is a big part of how its national-bourgeois government maintains its social spending under sanctions from the U.S./EU. The Russian government apparently conducted its own one-on-one talks with the Saudis to plan out what’s happening now.

Since cuts to pensions are what’s causing the Russian government the most grief from voters at the moment, and more strife in Russian politics is something U.S./EU policy-makers desperately want, the oil market is currently demonstrating the sort of issues that come up again and again for the bourgeoisie in the West, even for a net exporter of oil like the U.S. recently became under Obama. It’s not surprising that they’re still committing so much cash to military hardware and proxy death squads in oil-rich regions even after limited success in choking off the economies of Iran and Venezuela.
#2531
marginal digression: I will always take the opportunity to shill for (former US army prof/analyst) Stephen C. Pelletiere's "Iraq and the International Oil System" whenever anyone has any questions about the nature of OPEC and US foreign policy, it's excellent as both an introductory and reference text.
#2532

dimashq posted:

Anyone have any idea what’s up between Saudi Arabia and the West? A couple weeks ago, Trump was saying the Saudi’s would collapse without US support, now you’ve got this business with the journalist getting murdered in the Saudi consulate and MSM doing the opposite of hushing up crimes of American client regimes.


The media got assmad because MBS killed one of their own. While they would have been willing to turn a blind eye to hundreds of thousands of dead yemeni people or the direct funding of terrorism, and while they literally would high five the Saudis for shuttling jihadists into syria, this one dead bougie writer was their friend so now theyre melting down. Result of all this: None. Trump liked it

#2533
tbf i appreciate trump's candour and will be campaigning for him on the election date
#2534
How chemical weapons have helped bring Assad close to victory

Lol
#2535
lol
#2536
Le bourgeois media: Assad's Got An Actual Wunderwaffe (YOU WON'T BELIEVE THIS FIND)!!!
#2537
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/world-middle-east-45857729/yemen-could-be-worst-famine-in-100-years

the US and UK have probably helped to kill more people in yemen than have died in syria. the real death toll is tens of thousands higher than the UN or the media will say. nothing will happen tho because nothing matters.
#2538

jiroemon1897 posted:

How chemical weapons have helped bring Assad close to victoryLol


the forensic scientist they cite to explain the effects of chlorine is a former commander in Ahrar Al-Sham

#2539
I think that Washington was happy to let MBS run amok for a while before they were sure that they could reverse the Obama Iran policy, but since theyve used Saudi to help carry out UAE-Israeli goals and Syria is dying down they want to put him in his place, his predecessors were much more shrewd and less volatile. Plus there are likely competing royal factions trying to get rid of him with Washington's help, maybe they're thinking to cut him loose and this is the start.
#2540
The MeKification of the YPG continues, with Saleh doubling down on counter-threats with Syria's FM. Call me naive but I still hope for a diplomatic solution for the Syrian (Arab) Republic and the YPG-controlled regions that is in favour of both parties, but any sane and rational observer can see that isn't going to eventuate.

#2541
From what I read they have had an inflow of Washington and Israeli spooks for a while now
#2542
Well, yeah, it's almost Halloween! And things are getting spoooooky!
#2543
wtf I thought they had a deal
#2544
I think MBS is about to get whacked
#2545
Im still really fucking baffled about why they chose to torture Khashoggi to death... the backlash is actually incredibly relieving, if this had just been swept under the rug they may have gotten bolder and started murdering non-saudi journalists too.

I don't get the logic behind it, it must just be incompetence mixed with even more shameless barbarity than usual.
#2546

Caesura109 posted:

it must just be incompetence mixed with even more shameless barbarity than usual.


often in intelligence work a given task will pass through enough catspaws, proxies, and fuckups that by the time a given agency's orders (get somebody to shut up this inconvenient journalist) winds up with the lunatics who are going to actually make it happen, the end result is far more chaotic than originally intended

#2547
the elephant in the room is, what did he know? i doubt they were just unhappy with his reporting or whatever. just spitballing here but i would not be shocked to discover khashoggi was a saudi intelligence asset and he fell out of favour really badly. clearly he was close enough to the americans to have residency so i'm sure there's real reasons they're upset too (you can't tell me they really give a shit about journalists)
#2548

Petrol posted:

the elephant in the room is, what did he know? i doubt they were just unhappy with his reporting or whatever. just spitballing here but i would not be shocked to discover khashoggi was a saudi intelligence asset and he fell out of favour really badly. clearly he was close enough to the americans to have residency so i'm sure there's real reasons they're upset too (you can't tell me they really give a shit about journalists)


that's possible, but it really might also just be a total fuckup.

the fiction archetype of the calm, cool professional who receives clear orders for a Big Mission and executes it with careful, traceless precision as he flounces around doing Fancy Spy Shit is a myth. usually what actually happens is a chain of bureaucrats with humanities degrees shuffle papers around with objectives like "reduce the influence of hostile media." eventually some operator for a region interprets this directive into some actionable task, and it gradually trickles down to some deranged local psychopath who probably isn't the ideal person to actually do the job but at the time seems like the most gullible, expendable, and deniable resource on hand. this nutcase will do, uh, something, safer if we don't ask don't tell, while everyone else's ass stays covered. nothing could possibly go wrong.

#2549

Caesura109 posted:

Im still really fucking baffled about why they chose to torture Khashoggi to death... the backlash is actually incredibly relieving, if this had just been swept under the rug they may have gotten bolder and started murdering non-saudi journalists too.

I don't get the logic behind it, it must just be incompetence mixed with even more shameless barbarity than usual.



we'll notice tho that the 18 million on the brink of famine in yemen weren't enough to prompt this (extremely tepid) sea change, nor the violent repression of feminists and dissidents in saudi arabia. it's taken MBS whacking a connected journalist, a made guy, to trigger anything approaching self-crit on the part of the western intelligentsia and (some members of the) political class.

i can only see MBS falling if continues to be such an embarrassment to the media and political operatives who've spent so much time boosting and fellating him in the op-ed section of the anglo/american press. add to this how western states have thrown the full weight of their military, finance and media behind KSA's war in yemen and all the kingdom has managed to do is carve out a tiny slice of the country and get their guys merked relentlessly by the houthis, idk if he's long for this world.

then again we live in the dumbest possible timeline, so it's entirely possible they'll feign indignation for another week or so and get back to business as usual. odd tom friedman is a good weather vane i/t/r and he seems to be opting for mild disapproval and insistence on the need to give MBS a little more time to establish his reformer credentials.

#2550

ghostpinballer posted:

friedman is a good weather vane i/t/r and he seems to be opting for mild disapproval and insistence on the need to give MBS a little more time to establish his reformer credentials.


you need to understand that an autocratic monarch of a repressive theocracy is working at a disadvantage in our fast paced contemporary political climate, so it's only fair that they get a sizeable handicap.

so while in a slick, modern (possibly overpowered?) nascent people's republic even a single arrested enemy of the state should be considered an absolute crime against humanity that will forever stain that state and its political legacy with evil, the Saudis should get the benefit of the doubt with a couple dozen mulligans for execution of political dissidents, ethnic cleansing, and illegal wars of aggression.

the developers are confident that the present game state is balanced, if anything socialism is probably still too strong and needs more nerfs. expect more trotskyists in the next update.

#2551

ghostpinballer posted:

we'll notice tho that the 18 million on the brink of famine in yemen weren't enough to prompt this (extremely tepid) sea change, nor the violent repression of feminists and dissidents in saudi arabia. it's taken MBS whacking a connected journalist, a made guy, to trigger anything approaching self-crit on the part of the western intelligentsia and (some members of the) political class.

i can only see MBS falling if continues to be such an embarrassment to the media and political operatives who've spent so much time boosting and fellating him in the op-ed section of the anglo/american press. add to this how western states have thrown the full weight of their military, finance and media behind KSA's war in yemen and all the kingdom has managed to do is carve out a tiny slice of the country and get their guys merked relentlessly by the houthis, idk if he's long for this world.

then again we live in the dumbest possible timeline, so it's entirely possible they'll feign indignation for another week or so and get back to business as usual. odd tom friedman is a good weather vane i/t/r and he seems to be opting for mild disapproval and insistence on the need to give MBS a little more time to establish his reformer credentials.



Thats exactly what I mean. He had the bacming of liberal bullshitters but went ahead with something so goddamn stupid and shot himself in the foot. A fucking child could tell you that the West cares more about a WaPo columnist and Washington insider than 18 million civilians starving in Yemen, but somehow the Crown Prince and his legion of morons can't? All they had to do was smuggle him to Saudi and put him under house arrest or whatever.

I don't really think Khashoggi knew anything particularly damning about MBS, he certainly knew quite a lot of damning things about the royals in general though. But he was their man, even if he pushed mild liberal reforms - radical for Saudi. I can't see him having lived in Washington, brushed shoulders with higher levels of U.S government and closely associated himself with Muslim Brotherhood exiles in Turkey and elsewhere and not have been killed earlier. From the details they started torturing him to death almost immediately. They could have just shot him or something. So fucking stupid.

#2552
this should probably be in the konspiracy thread but here's some wild speculations on the khashoggi affair:
i suspect he was a cia asset in the saudi court for decades along with his relative adnan the arms dealer. when mbs started making moves to take over, khashoggi probably sided with anti-mbs factions in court intrigue and after mbs took over, he moved to wapo to be directly under his handlers which means that he (and the CIA) knew mbs wanted to liquidate him. mbs' plan to take khashoggi out was cartoonishly immature but the desperation only means that mbs needs to purge moles completely inside and opposition outside.
khashoggi worked in washington for the last year, got hacked in istanbul and then the leaks of his murder also appeared in wapo (and now nyt) but not so much in arabic/turkish media. the media outrage makes no sense as solidarity for another journo. 'saudi journalist' is an oxymoron - there was no journalism there to begin with and this incident only shows that anglo media agenda is set more and more by intelligence agencies. apart from the white noise generated as the ambient discourse of russiagate (guess who wrote an article comparing mbs to putin?), cia elders like brennan are pushing an anti-mbs line explicitly about this on msnbc everyday. today brennan assured hayes that the cia has a grip on the situation 'now', which means they've confirmed with the israelis what went down and how much turkey knows about it.
i think the problem that the amerikan deep state is facing is that the trump family is keeping them out of the loop. supposedly kushner (who has been funding settlers on the west bank) had an untapped line with mbs. mbs needed to get khashoggi away from cia. turkey got a twin opportunity - they let the saudis think they could get away with murder and now turkey's got leverage with them as well as embarrassing U$A which has been causing them economic difficulties.
anyway, mbs got away with abductions and disappearances using the same m.o for quite a while before this botched op humiliated cia in public.
#2553
word, thats what i was getting at
#2554
https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/10/16/no-future-left-syria-conversation-family-refugees/

first question:

P: Could you tell me about March 2011, when the revolution started in Syria ?

F: The war changed everything… Islamists from all over the world came to Syria, they started killing everyone, they wanted to create an Islamic state. They came through Turkey, some through Jordan. They entered the villages and started killing everyone who wasn’t Sunni; Christians, Alawites, Kurds, Druze, Shi’a. In one village, close to Idlib, they only killed Shi’a. They changed the demography of these places forever.



i thought bellingcat was a stooge? am i thinking of someone else?

#2555

ghostpinballer posted:

https://www.bellingcat.com/news/mena/2018/10/16/no-future-left-syria-conversation-family-refugees/first question:

P: Could you tell me about March 2011, when the revolution started in Syria ?

F: The war changed everything… Islamists from all over the world came to Syria, they started killing everyone, they wanted to create an Islamic state. They came through Turkey, some through Jordan. They entered the villages and started killing everyone who wasn’t Sunni; Christians, Alawites, Kurds, Druze, Shi’a. In one village, close to Idlib, they only killed Shi’a. They changed the demography of these places forever.



i thought bellingcat was a stooge? am i thinking of someone else?


I think it's just a simple case of there's no longer a reason to peddle the myth of the freedom-loving Jeffersonian contra.

#2556
I skimmed the interview and can't see anything that contradicts the official narrative apart from the fact he doesn't really acknowledge the existence of 'good' rebels, the important thing from Bellingcat's perspective is he's not pro-Assad
#2557

Caesura109 posted:

ghostpinballer posted:

we'll notice tho that the 18 million on the brink of famine in yemen weren't enough to prompt this (extremely tepid) sea change, nor the violent repression of feminists and dissidents in saudi arabia. it's taken MBS whacking a connected journalist, a made guy, to trigger anything approaching self-crit on the part of the western intelligentsia and (some members of the) political class.

i can only see MBS falling if continues to be such an embarrassment to the media and political operatives who've spent so much time boosting and fellating him in the op-ed section of the anglo/american press. add to this how western states have thrown the full weight of their military, finance and media behind KSA's war in yemen and all the kingdom has managed to do is carve out a tiny slice of the country and get their guys merked relentlessly by the houthis, idk if he's long for this world.

then again we live in the dumbest possible timeline, so it's entirely possible they'll feign indignation for another week or so and get back to business as usual. odd tom friedman is a good weather vane i/t/r and he seems to be opting for mild disapproval and insistence on the need to give MBS a little more time to establish his reformer credentials.

Thats exactly what I mean. He had the bacming of liberal bullshitters but went ahead with something so goddamn stupid and shot himself in the foot. A fucking child could tell you that the West cares more about a WaPo columnist and Washington insider than 18 million civilians starving in Yemen, but somehow the Crown Prince and his legion of morons can't? All they had to do was smuggle him to Saudi and put him under house arrest or whatever.

I don't really think Khashoggi knew anything particularly damning about MBS, he certainly knew quite a lot of damning things about the royals in general though. But he was their man, even if he pushed mild liberal reforms - radical for Saudi. I can't see him having lived in Washington, brushed shoulders with higher levels of U.S government and closely associated himself with Muslim Brotherhood exiles in Turkey and elsewhere and not have been killed earlier. From the details they started torturing him to death almost immediately. They could have just shot him or something. So fucking stupid.


They kidnapped the PM of Lebanon. I think they just figure they can do whatever they feel like doing, especially with Trump in power, and hell, they're probably right.

#2558
Khashoggi's death IS all over Arabic media, mostly outlets affiliated with Qatar, since more state-controlled outlets (which is all the major ones) have incentive to kindly not mention it and stay "impartial" during diplomatic spats.

Kidnapping the PM of Lebanon was another utterly baffling move too, can't believe it didn't do them lasting harm. Khashoggi being a U.S intelligence asset is plausible and explains why people like Lindsay Graham and Rubio would come out vocally against his murder.

Edited by Caesura109 ()

#2559

ilmdge posted:

They kidnapped the PM of Lebanon.



jfc, i can't believe i had pretty much forgotten that weirdness, feels like it happened a lifetime ago. And that was during a wave of Pro-MBS propaganda too, when everyone who cares about this stuff was looking right at him. What a fucking moron. Astounding.

Too much shit is happening, can barely keep track of it all.

#2560
brown moses will be the first to tell you that bellingcat takes a "balanced" view of the syria conflict and frequently runs coverage contrary to the official line. lamentably this coverage never seems to attract very much attention and he hardly ever gets credit for having such a high standard of impartiality. crazy