sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Friday, December 9, 2016

Poles Apart

Virtual Mirage reports Russian views to blog visitors because mainstream international media in English do not report them. They provide a different and useful perspective. To paraphrase the special advisor to the UN special representative for Syria, the Russians and the Americans have two entirely different interpretations about what is happening in Syria. They are “poles apart.”

In any confrontation, the other side has a say in the outcome. In this confrontation, the other side -- Russia and Syria -- has clearly stated goals and is on the verge of achieving them. 

First, let's talk about Turkey

Turkey-Syria: Anadolu news agency reported on 8 December that Turkey is sending 300 more special forces soldiers to northern Syria to reinforce Operation Euphrates Shield. The special forces soldiers of 11th Command Brigade from Cardak Military Airport in western Turkey were airlifted to the Syrian border.
Remember that the Turks are fighting against the Kurds (American allies), not ISIS or the other Syrian militias.
President Erdogan is doubling down on his Syrian policy. The Turkish forces and their Free Syrian Army (FSA) proxies claim to have secured a safe area of 1,800 square kilometers (694 square miles). That is just over half the area of Rhode Island.

Based on open source reporting, the number of Turkish soldiers in Syria will exceed 1,000 men and about 25 tanks.

Meanwhile, Syrian Kurdish fighters remain in Manbij, are on the outskirts of al Bab and are cooperating with the Syrian army in northern Aleppo to seal it as an avenue of escape for the hard-core militants in eastern Aleppo.

Back to the Russians in Syria

On 8 December, Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov met US Secretary of State Kerry briefly on the sidelines of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) foreign ministers’ conference in Hamburg, Germany. US and Russian representatives plan to meet in Geneva on Saturday, 10 December, to discuss the situation in Aleppo.

A European diplomat said, “We are witnessing talks on Aleppo which are just trying to tailor and to manage the Syrian and Russian victory.”

During a press conference in Hamburg, Lavrov again blasted the US-led Coalition and the UN special representative. In response to a question about Russia’s strategy for Aleppo, Lavrov said, “"Our strategy is very simple. It is totally based on the UN Security Council resolution that decreed that terrorists along the Syria axis are to be hit mercilessly and ruthlessly until their complete annihilation”

“In parallel, the civilian population's humanitarian problems are to be addressed and a political process is to be launched. All these actions, in these three tracks, must be carried out without any preliminary conditions. And this is precisely what Russia is doing. We are actively fighting terrorism.”

Concerning the al-Nusra Front, Lavrov said, "As regards Jabhat al-Nusra, not only is the USA not touching it at all, but throughout all of our talks it has in every way tried to draft agreements in such a way that Nusra - Jabhat al-Nusra - could avoid retribution and could be taken out of the line of fire. Naturally, we cannot accept this. Jabhat al-Nusra is a terrorist organization, recognized as such by the UN, in the USA, the Russian Federation and other countries." 

My editorial question is, why is the US giving al Qaeda a pass? Barack? How come? 

Lavrov said Russia is the only country actually providing relief. He said UN-sponsored efforts are tied up in political and ideological discussions that prevent aid deliveries. “The third area is the political process. I think I have lost my voice urging UN special envoy for Syria Stefan de Mistura to stop sabotaging political talks. He was instructed to do this. As a matter of fact, he has no other work to do. I am saying this openly because I say the same to his face. I said this to him in Rome recently.”

Our conscience is clear. “"Therefore, to respond to the German TV, our conscience is clear concerning all three areas assigned to us by the UN Security Council. That far from all countries are acting in this way does not reflect well on them and means that far from everyone is prepared to conscientiously implement the decisions taken by the highest authority dealing with issues of the preservation of peace and security."

The Russians drive the point that their forces are the only foreign state forces operating legally in Syria because they were invited in and signed formal agreements. 


Boeing's Self-Licking Ice Cream Cone

I don't think that the Beltway Bandits took President Trump seriously when he said that he wanted to drain the swamp. Their problem with The Donald is that whenever he tweets or speaks, it goes around the world a dozen times or more.

Thus the price tag of the new VC-25 aircraft on order (Air Force One) and it's summary rejection, blasted out of the lobby at Trump Tower, may have been a bit like slapping Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO of Boeing, in the face with a dead flounder.

VC-25A

Air Force One is a flying billboard for Boeing...and at $2 billion per aircraft, one can only opine that they were trying to build a self-licking ice cream cone. And President Trump just wanted an airplane that doesn't need all of those extra seats for the White House Press Corps. A VIRTUAL MIRAGE EXCLUSIVE: The soto voce comment off camera was "We'll take two or three of those hacks. The rest of those bastards including CNN and NBC can rent an airplane if they want to follow". Screwing with the president-elect endlessly has consequences.

So does offering him a self-licking ice cream cone, as Boeing learned the hard way.
President George W. Bush began the process of looking into a redesign of Marine One, the presidential helicopter, an H-3 that was about 30 years old. It was time to upgrade. But the program quickly went way over budget — although the problem wasn’t with Sikorski. The original contract was for 28 helicopters for $6.1 billion. But, “numerous Pentagon-mandated changes ballooned the price tag to $11.2 billion.”  Barack canceled the program as being too expensive and today, those H-3s are still flying for the White House.
I can only guess that Boeing will sharpen its pencils and will return with something that President Trump can live with...without plush accommodations for the Press Corps.