FTAC: Syria – “Expect ‘Mission Creep'”


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Posted to YouTube by The New York Times, April 7, 2017.


The public presentation of conflict may attempt to keep separate Syria, Ukraine, Russia, and Iran, but I don’t think the Kremlin (this is a good comment for Kremlin Watch) has an “Off” button in association with the defense of the autocratic feudal past that each dictatorship represents. Expect “mission creep”.

The inflammatory header now running in the UK’s The Sun: “‘ONE STEP FROM WAR’ Furious Russia warns Trump he has ‘completely ruined’ relations with Moscow after Syria gas attack revenge bombing – as Putin sends warship to the Med” – https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/3275613/donald-trump-us-attacks-syria-chemical-attack-sarin-latest-news/

And at this time in the more moderate European News:



FTAC – Syria and the Checking of Feudal Political Absolutism


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Leave the Left (and Far Right) alone!

Post-Soviet “Active Measures” and related infiltration into EU / NATO intellectual assets may account for the promotion of polarized “Brown v Red-Green” politics.

The post-Cold War narrative arc spans American Administrations, but the general public (I’ve become accidentally a little bit specialized) tends to see the moment, i.e., a span of months to years, when it should be seeing decades of process in removing the holdovers from the Soviet Era.  For good reasons, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Qaddafi are gone, but it’s at Assad’s Syria, the gateway to Iran in the old politics coming apart, that Putin visibly returned to the old KGB walk and the reinforcement of old relationships. As no one in the west has wanted another “cold war” or a strong “Moscow” on the tracks that it’s on, the purchase of time combined with sanctions and deflated oil pricing has substantially weakened the Moscow-Damascus-Tehran (more truly, “Moscow-Tehran” axis).

Now: enter Trump.

Just so it’s known: Moscow’s cash reserves have been deeply drawn down not only by years of reduced oil revenues and political sanctions but by the regime’s own abuse of the nascent Russian business system and the flight of capital from it. Most of what isn’t at hand has been parked in the western (rule-of-law) banking system or similarly stable high-value assets (most obviously real estate), and that may add to the discouragement of Moscow’s propensity for armed aggression. However, Putin is a bit of a wildcard as regards his own behavior, and he knows that when faced with a nuclear gambit, the United States will stand firm but elide the issue, returning that aspect of war to equilibrium.

For the Cold War days, moving “Jupiter rockets” sufficed to fully resolve the Cuban Missile Crisis. http://nsarchive.gwu.edu/nsa/cuba_mis_cri/moment.htm

In this day, NATO may have forward dual use conventional-nuclear warheads, giving paranoid Moscow perhaps some legitimate fits as regards its own state of risk. Here is the kind of article one runs into when encountering the nuclear arms control field:


To stay (in the old sense of that word) the course toward nuclear exchange, diplomacy and indirect confrontation have held off the contemplation of direct conflict engagement between Russian and NATO and western forces, but as history tells time and again with despots, that kind of leadership busts through its own boundaries, internal, psychological, external, political until firmly checked.

I think what you’re going to see in Syria will be the “checking” of Moscow’s revanchist (Soviet-style) ambitions and encouragement for it to engage the west in a once again responsible fashion.

It may help to keep in mind, whatever conclusions may be drawn here, that Russia has its own robust internal politics now forming up some challenge to the regime even though the regime holds the strong hand in its expression of absolute power.

The Obama Administration for both political and practical purposes put off confrontation in the field with the “phantoms of the Soviet” most likely to buy time, encourage change, and both financially and politically weaken the regimes that require politics in the feudal mode to sustain their own kleptocracies (“Different Talks — Same Walk!” is the BackChannels trope for how those relationships hold together).

Arguments about the legitimacy of political power are arguments about the future:

“What is to be done?”

“How are we to live?”

“Moscow”, the metonym for the Russian State as devised and held together by President Putin, knows how to make itself look good in superficial ways, but its less remarked positions have not been so wonderful.

Web search “Russia, Economy” brought up these three news pieces a few minutes ago:




Related on BackChannels





Related Opinion

http://www.russia-direct.org/opinion/why-does-russia-continue-protect-assad-syria 4/20/2016


FTAC – The Decentralizing of ISIS


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Something to know about ISIL: https://conflict-backchannels.com/2016/12/09/syria-assad-isil-background/

ISIL — the “Islamists” — have been long “played” by Moscow and Tehran as a goad to the west and a useful foil in their feudal struggle to sustain the medieval political absolutism that in turn supports their respective dictatorships.

President Trump’s bearing down on ISIS threatens to remove that plaything from the Moscow-Tehran (old “Red-Green Alliance”) toy box. Under pressure, and as much may have taken place in St. Petersburg earlier today, ISIS has now to displace and redistribute its criminal program.

The kind of manipulation involved between Moscow and an assortment of terrorist organizations may often be indirect. As the editor of Back-Channels, I believe that the al-Qaeda presence in Syria was “incubated” of de-emphasized in Syria’s combat planning, so as to shape and “frame” the look of the developing civil war. That’s what the piece is about, and there’s more online to support it.

Regarding the St. Petersburg train bombing — today’s event — there are some tweets now crediting ISIS with the attack.

The prompt: the suggestion that ISIS was finished in Iraq.

Jared Kushner’s visiting Iraq may be overshadowing the battlefield story.

There may be more signs likes this one, however — http://www.iraqinews.com/iraq-war/islamic-state-kills-imam-mosque-western-mosul/ — that ISIS, ever murderous and disinterested in the fates of the living, has grown desperate in Iraq and gone in for “motivating” resistance by summarily killing those unwilling to cooperate in their own suicides.

Reliant on the open source, BackChannels has been finding it difficult to obtain data regarding the ISIS presence in Mosul and elsewhere in the combined Syrian-Iraq Theater of War.   This may be the closest one may get with today’s field reporting:


Some posters on Isis forums linked the explosions to Russia’s backing of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad, who is fighting Isis as well as other groups in the Syrian civil war.

The group hasn’t yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but often takes as long as a day to do so. If it does claim responsibility for the incident – which it has done with attacks that officials have later said it had no role in – it would be far from the first time it has done so, after it said it had inspired attempted attacks in Chechnya and Russia earlier this year.


“Syria conflict: Raqqa’s civilians foresee last days of Isis: City residents describe a kind of anarchy as jihadis prepare for final battle”: https://www.ft.com/content/db290a58-1847-11e7-a53d-df09f373be87

Note: Undated URL’s were published on the same day as the BackChannels post.


St. Petersburg Metro Blast – Ten Dead, Thirty Injured – Whodunit?


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BackChannels doesn’t know which way to go with the latest reports of the bombing of a subway car in St. Petersburg — cynical or sincere?

False flag (remember the “Moscow Apartment Bombings“) or authentic independent action by an enemy of the state?

Islamic terrorists or domestic dissenters?

For catching up:





BackChannels may experiment here with watch-write updating on this post.

This is a complicated attack made more so by the foreknowledge that the Russian State, if true to form, will frame it for the public and neither the public nor the sincere among police may have access or authority in the investigation launched.

In the west, the public would trust involved security services to get to the truth and to tell the truth.  In Russia, one may expect absolute authority to say what it may and for the public to nod agreeably or mumble away in political impotence.

(more to come)





Also in Media: “There’s An Emerging ‘Alt-Jihad’ Movement In The U.S. – But It’s Not Muslims Who Are Pushing It…” | Independent Journal Review | by M. Zuhdi Jasser | Mid-March 2017


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These two characteristics, like the apologists, only end up serving entrenching the global jihad and its Islamist monopoly from which the alt-jihadists claim to want to save the world.

The alt-jihad consists of non-Muslims who refuse to leave room for even the remote possibility of branding Islam and any faithful Muslims into modernity. The alt-jihad is simple, simplistic, self-serving and dangerous. It attempts to deny Muslim dissidents any space, hope, or support whatsoever we so urgently need to make headway.

Their parroting of Islamist tyrannical rhetoric and their slash-and-burn approach only strengthens the hold Islamist extremists have on Muslim communities.The alt-jihad does not sincerely seek for Muslims to find solutions to the problems plaguing our communities, but rather seeks the containment, if not the elimination, of Islam as a faith. Some even seem to advocate that this happen “by any means necessary.” For the alt-jihad, there is no hope for modernization of Islam – there are terrorist Muslims, and terrorist Muslims-in-waiting.

Don’t take BackChannels’ word for it.  Go directly to the Source: There’s An Emerging ‘Alt-Jihad’ Movement In The U.S. – But It’s Not Muslims Who Are Pushing It…


Also in Media: “UPenn Professor Rejects Islamic Supremacism” | Jihad Watch | March 31, 2017


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“We don’t only want to be Muslim and eradicate anything before or after,” stated the University of Pennsylvania’s Lauder Arabic Language and Culture Program Director Amel Mili about the historical Muslim conquest of her native Tunisia. She and a fellow Tunisian offered a refreshing rebuttal of the hackneyed Islamic supremacist dogmas dominating Middle East studies at a conference in Washington, DC earlier this month.

Mili addressed a small breakout panel at the Policy Studies Organization’s Middle East Dialogue 2017. Her lecture examining a 1982 Tunisian court decision denying a woman her inheritance on the basis of sharia law shed light on the difficulty of reinterpreting Islamic scriptures for the modern world.

Source: UPenn Professor Rejects Islamic Supremacism

Video Relay: “Senate Intelligence Committee Open Hearing on Russian Intelligence Activities”, March 30, 2017


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Publisher: President Trump Speeches & Press Co., – 3/30/2017

C-Span source: https://www.c-span.org/video/?426227-1/senate-intelligence-panel-warned-russians-play-sides (Morning Session) Afternoon Session as recorded at this posting: https://www.c-span.org/video/?426227-101/former-nsa-director-testifies-russian-interference-capabilities&vod

Related Online



General News






Also in Media: “I am an Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations” | Victoria Herrmann | Opinion | The Guardian | March 28, 2017


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At first, the distress flare of lost data came as a surge of defunct links on 21 January. The US National Strategy for the Arctic, the Implementation Plan for the Strategy, and the report on our progress all gone within a matter of minutes. As I watched more and more links turned red, I frantically combed the internet for archived versions of our country’s most important polar policies.

I had no idea then that this disappearing act had just begun.

Since January, the surge has transformed into a slow, incessant march of deleting datasets, webpages and policies about the Arctic. I now come to expect a weekly email request to replace invalid citations, hoping that someone had the foresight to download statistics about Arctic permafrost thaw or renewable energy in advance of the purge.

Source: I am an Arctic researcher. Donald Trump is deleting my citations | Victoria Herrmann | Opinion | The Guardian – 3/27/2017