Re. Syrian SAM Shoot-Down of Russian Surveillance Aircraft


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Moscow (CNN)Syria inadvertently shot down a Russian military plane after an Israeli attack on Syrian positions, killing 15 people on board, Moscow said.
The Russian military said Tuesday that the Russian maritime patrol aircraft was shot down by Syrian regime anti-aircraft artillery amid the Israeli attack on Monday, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

Moscow blamed Israel for putting its aircraft in the line of fire, Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

Starr, Barbara, Ryan Browne and Nathan Hodge. “Syria accidentally shot down a Russian military plane.” CNN Politics, September 18, 2018.

While it’s good that the IDF took out advanced weapons manufacturing facilities focused on producing missiles intended to challenge Israel’s existence (from the CNN report: “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon”), the attack will bring into focus the greater east-west conflict and run-up, perhaps, to greater direct engagement between Russian and Israeli (western-backed) forces.

Here’s the verbatim from earlier comment the editor made on Facebook:

Clearly, “Assad v The Terrorists” has half destroyed Syria (in the years since 2011 — give him a few more years in power, and the state will be gone altogether) but in a surreal fashion clings to the hope of destroying Israel and the Jews. The IDF’s target(s) appears to have been advanced weapons manufacturing facilities from which the output would have been used to challenge Israel.

Medieval Russia has been trying to recover its imperial and imperious attitude in its middle east presence. It may be suggested — at least I will do it — that it may have been shielding the Syrian manufacturing site with the presence of its surveillance aircraft. If true — and we may never know — that would account for Israel short notification to Russian military.

In the larger window: Washington has closed the PLO office serving as a proto-embassay and expelled its representative, a move congruent with the expulsion of Russian spies in the past couple of years. Before that closure, there has been of course the advancing of the U.S. Embassy into Jerusalem, another step forward toward forcing a conclusion to the middle east conflict.

This latest attack may represent further progress against what I have been calling the “phantoms of the Soviet”, i.e.,the continuation of older KGB-managed arrangements in the middle east.

What’s happening between Moscow and Washington and Damascus and Jerusalem is always war, as such may be in the nature of the political lives of nations, but this morning BackChannels feels it is seeing an amplification of conditions.  CNN last week reported a build-up in the presence of Russian warships off the Syrian coast (September 13, 2018).  About two months ago, the west appears to have  evacuated Syrian civilians and White Helmet volunteers into Jordan from  Assad’s theater.  Clearly, the west has been with the Syrian people — and Syrian Sunni Arabs — against the ravaging sadism of the Assad regime and its chief enablers in Moscow and Tehran.

This morning, one of BackChannels contacts said in a brief audio exchange, “The Syrian people are closer to the west anyway.  They would rather have Israel prevail in Syria rather than Assad and Iran.”

BackChannels doubts that Vladimir Putin, whose forces have bombed so many Syrian hospitals and abetted so much horror, pain, and sorrow visited on the children of Syria — adults and children — that the west would have him were he to somehow pivot westward.  Again, he has engaged in or produced active — blood soaking — conflicts in Syria and Crimea and appears to be surrounded in the chaos and horror he himself may have wanted as the “Phantom of the Soviet”.

Also from the awesome conversation:

The timing of this news is propitious, for today marks the evening start of Yom Kippur. The Jewish high holy days remain ever the target dates for anti-Semitic aggressors, essentially pulling the IDF and their support out of the synagogues and away from family on the most cherished and respected of religious observances.

Update – September 18, 2018

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Tuesday that Israel did not shoot down a Russian military reconnaissance plane with 15 people on board, saying the downing of the plane by Syrian air defenses was a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”

Agencies and TOI Staff. “Putin says Israel did not shoot down Russian plane, calls it a tragic accident.” The Times of Israel, September 18, 2018.

Related comment from The Still Awesome Conversation:

Putin knows that to hold Russia’s place and avoid further ruin, he has to make Russia THE responsible actor in a different kind of competition with the west. In the TI piece, he may have signaled a small shift toward the west. No one knows, but now he has as much as said that he’s not going to act — at least not rashly — for Assad and Khamenei. He’s not going to play Erdogan demanding an apology from Israel for the Mavi Marmara incident — and, in retrospect, what a hideous thing that apology was!

Update, September 23, 2018

AP. “Russian Blames Israel for Downing of Plane by Syrian Forces.” VOA, September 23, 2018.

But Konashenkov on Sunday accused Israel of using the hotline to mislead Russia about its plans. He said the Russians were unable to get the Il-20 to a safe place because an Israeli duty officer had misled them, telling them of an Israeli operation in northern Syria while the jets were actually in Latakia, in the country’s west.

Konashenkov said an Israeli fighter jet flying over Syria’s Mediterranean coast shortly before the downing deliberately used the Russian plane as a shield, reflecting “either lack of professionalism or criminal negligence.”


Nigeria: Ethnic Cleansing of Christians: “Bribed? Scared? Sabotaged?” — “Order From Above”


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For the Christian communities of Nigeria’s semi-arid northern margins: death by a thousand cuts, but just a few at a time.

And what in Nigerian conflicts constitutes “a cut”?

There are over 5,000 persons who have been displaced and these people are being camped at Numan. So far, we have buried 27 persons; these are corpses of men, women and children recovered from Gon, Nzumosu, Bolki and Nyanga.

Above: Adamawa Assembly Representative Sodom Tayedi as quoted yesterday by Hindi Livinus in Punch “ICYMI: 27 buried after Adamawa herdsmen attacks”.

The “cuts” — the atrocities — have been taking place across Nigeria’s portion of the “middle belt” of Africa for years without resistance and without end.

Apparently in store for the Christian population in general: rape and rapine designed to break hearts and spirits and move the feet toward the unknown sea of humanity abused, driven off, ignored, loathed, perhaps, as the expensive and unwanted detritus of chaos and conflict.

Nigeria’s military and police services appear to avoid or deny responsibility in relation to the repeated success of the employment of Kalashnikov and burning petrol in making the land fit for cattle and the Fulani herdsman who own them.

Bold italics added by BackChannels:

The lawmaker, however, accused security agencies of stationing in Abbare of negligence noting that she wonders why they could not prevent the attack which has been consistent from that axis.

Police authorities could not confirm the attack as calls put through to the police spokesman, Habibu Musa, were not answered.

Oladele, David. “Suspected hersdsmen reportedly invade 3 communities in Adamawa.”, September 14, 2018.

Dozens of women are reportedly being held by suspected Fulani herdsmen after a raid on Gwon, Bolki and Nzumosu communities in Numan local government area of Adamawa State.

The member representing Numan constituency at the state House of Assembly, Mrs. Sodom Tayedi confirmed the incident.

She explained that the villages were attacked during the week and that the exact casualties’ figure was yet to be ascertained as locals scampered to safety in the bush.

Odunsi, Wale. “Herdsmen reportedly hold dozens of women captive in Adamawa.” Daily Post, September 14, 2018.

Adamawa State (Wikipedia link).

Earlier this year (bold added) —

YOLA- Four communities in Numan local government area of Adamawa state, have been completely razed by suspected herdsmen, killing no fewer than 15 persons.

Fleeing residents disclosed that the attackers numbering over 50 came in hilux vans to commit the heinuos acts and razed down many buildings in the affected villages. They alleged that the attackers stormed the area shortly after troops of the Nigerian Army ransacked the villages to enforce the disarmament of citizens in line with a presidential directive.

Yusuf, Umar. “15 feared dead, 4 communities razed as suspected herdsmen overrun Adamawa villages.” Vanguard, May 2, 2018.

Buhari-Nepotism-180917-0806-316x.jpgI asked a source about police not answering what must have been a distress or emergency call:  “Bribed?  Scared?  Sabotaged?” — “Order from above,” he said.

Today, opinions about President Buhari’s nepotism in related hiring appear abundant in the Nigerian press.  Critics feel the president has been slowly feeding Christian communities in the north to equipped, experienced, and deeply sadistic  Muslim raiders representing the interests of Fulani herdsman.

The records of top executives in state security, military, and police roles may add credence to the complaint.  Here is a remark published in relation to Ibrahim Kpotun Idris, Nigeria’s Inspector-General of Police:

With Idris at the helm, there has also been a disturbing increase in the arrest of journalists and bloggers in Nigeria. His reign has been a threat to free speech for journalists. This Idris is committing so many atrocities in the name of maintaining law and order, while the places in need of law and order are becoming national atrocities.

Global rankings for press freedom has gotten worse under Buhari and this IGP. Nigeria now sits at 122 of 180 countries surveyed, falling from 111 under former president Goodluck Jonathan and ex-IGP, Solomon Arase.

“Are these the real reasons Buhari won’t let go of IGP Ibrahim Idris?” The Cable, March 14, 2018.

An op-ed concerning Nigeria’s Minister of Defense Alhaji Mansur Dan Ali leads this way:

ONCE again, Alhaji Mansur Dan Ali, Minister of Defence, has demonstrated his characteristic insensitivity to the feelings of thousands of people who lost relations, homes and other material belongings to the murderous adventures of the herdsmen militia groups in some states in the North.

On Tuesday, June 5, 2018, Dan Ali shocked Nigerians, particularly, the traumatised survivors of the mass attacks and killings by herdsmen with the suggestion that the law prohibiting open grazing passed by Taraba, Benue and Ekiti states governments be suspended as precondition for the killings to stop. He offered the suggestion on his way out of a security meeting held at the Presidential Villa in Abuja, suggesting, perhaps, that this may have been the decision taken at the meeting.

Michael, Danasabe. “A minister in the eye of the storm.” Vanguard, June 27, 2018.

A kind boilerplate appears in the press for the newly appointed Director-General of Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS), Yosuf Magaji Bichi.  The DSS serves as the the seat of intelligence and secret police operations for the state.  So far, it would seem it too has failed to provide security to Nigeria’s now battered and embattled Christian communities of interest to “herdsmen”.  Whether or not DG Bichi will turn that tide toward civility and modern economic and political possibility, BackChannels does not know but may suggest that expectations for improved law enforcement are not high as regards what BackChannels has referred to as the “Fulani Land Pirates” and their lengthening record of atrocities.


FTAC: Forked: Loyalty to a United States President v Obligation to the Constitution of the Nation


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President Donald J. Trump at Rally, Evansville, Indiana, August 30, 2018

President Donald J. Trump at Rally, Evansville, Indiana, August 30, 2018.

President Trump’s own behavior x actions x associations x utterance speaks for him, and the so-called “biased media” is only turning up what may be associated with his real estate enterprises and his name.

Perhaps some Americans demand to see a memorandum of understanding between Putin and Trump that doesn’t exist, but the Trump associates going to jail, plea bargaining their way down, or hiding behind some convoluted national security screen (Felix Sater) very much exist (ask their kids) and the impression of collusion (much like the appearance of conflict of interest that executives should seek to avoid) only worsens.

If the east-west conflict game of choice is chess, then perhaps Americans have been forked between the obligation to defend the Constitution of the United States and continued loyalty — when it matters — to a President suspect, at least, of eliding the law for his business interests and treating issues concerning himself as if he were the unquestionable leader of a feudal estate.

Also Related on BackChannels

Related Online

Glader, Paul. “10 Journalism Brands Where You Find Real Facts Rather Than Alternative Facts.” Forbes, February 1, 2017.


FTAC: A Short Note on “Returning” Jerusalem to Muslims


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Jerusalem is not even Israel’s to “return” to anyone but the Hebrews who created her 5,778 years ago. It cannot be returned to the Canaanites who melded with the Hebrews; it cannot be returned to the Romans who burned and sacked it early in the Common Era; it cannot be returned to the Nazis or the Ottomans who no longer exist but in the fantasies of a few bigoted Germans and Turks; and it cannot be returned to an “Ummah” that did not even think to exist until the 7th Century and that today finds itself bullied, controlled, slaughtered by its own zealots.

In the medieval mode, the evil demands property . . . just because.


Screen capture – Jerusalem-GMap-180912-1014v1-900x.


Mafia “Don”? Laundering the Authoritarian President’s Image


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all I can do is ask the question my people came to me dan coates came to me and some others they said they think it’s Russia I have president putin he just said it’s not russia i will say this i don’t see any reason why it would be I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today and what he did is an incredible offer he offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the people I think that’s an incredible offer

Guardian News. “Key moments from the Trump-Putin press conference.” Start: 0:0:07.  Transcript machine generated.  July 16, 2018.

BackChannels has lived long enough to see “Active Measures” become a movie, “alternative facts” obtain traction in the arguments of some lost souls, and the “Fake News!” rise up en masse to denounce the source of the accusation.  Now the whole ugly stain attending the deeply foreign influenced election of America’s president has begun to seep and spread from the infernal nucleus of the Russian marriage between State and Mob and now a hint of the presence of the same in the United States of America.

How soon will the journalists be asking of the Russian mafia — and mafia generally — in America, “How broad, how deep, how high, how powerful?”


“Dear friends, respected colleagues!” Nikonov said.  “Three minutes ago Hillary Clinton admitted her defeat in US presidential elections and a second ago Trump started his speech as an elected president of the United States of America and I congratulate you on this.”

Even though Nikonov did not add what many in the Kremlin already knew, his brief statement was greeted by enthusiastic applause.  Donald J. Trump had just become Vladimir Putin’s man in the White House.

Unger, Craig. House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia. Page 1.  New York: Dutton, 2018.

While readers may not find evidence quite so “hard” as a memo or recording between “Don” and “Vlad”, the darkly glittering atmosphere brewed by dirty or shady businesses, related events, FBI and other investigations, and innumerable lawsuits in all directions (with Trump Administration scandals, even the lawyers have needed lawyers) the preponderance of the evidence — in the worlds of investigators and journalists alike, the character of personal associations and relationship — becomes inescapable.


The art of reading has been changed by “broadband Internet”: these days, one may snooze between the hardcovers but also depart from any event or noun mentioned to find source and related materials online — or to chat with the “journal” should the same be so nice and unhurried as regards giving up a piece of the time o’ day.  With a book as rich in coverage as Craig Unger’s, there are mentions aplenty for mining.  Page 147, for example, a simple flip-open (it could have been any other page or chapter), makes mention of somebody “Nogueira” and a Reuters investigation — and a minute later, now listed in reference, Brad Brooks’ piece comes up (and may be read separately).  Of the man noted, here’s one more excerpt from Unger’s new book:

According to conversations secretly recorded by a former business partner, in 2013 Nogueira said he had laundered tens ofr millions of dollars through real estate.  “More important than the money from real estate was being able to launder the drug money — there were much larger amounts involved,” he said in the recording.  “When I was in Panama I was regularly laundering money for more than a dozen companies.”

Nogueira told Reauters that he became the leading broker for the project thanks in part to the support of Trump’s daughter Ivanka, who appeared in a promotional video with him.

What did Donald Trump do?

Trump licensed his name — attractive and synonymous with glamour, power, and wealth — to the project of interest and many others worldwide.  What crime could there have been in that?  His organization also held management contracts on real estate projects, but here BackChannels will leave the details to the curious among readers, but the same litmus applies: he nailed a service contract: so what?

On the other hand, perhaps the “so what?” is in the “with whom” and the true “for what”.

At the end of his book, Unger notes, “Donald Trump has repeatedly said he has nothing to do with Russia.  Below are fifty-nine Trump connections to Russia” (p. 265).  “Below” begins with Roman Abramovich and ends with Viktor Yanukovych.


Brooks, Brad. “Former broker in Trump Panama project under investigation in Brazil.” Reuters, November 17, 2017.

Drehle, David Von. ” Trump resume is rife with mob connections.” Op-ed. The Washington Post, August 10, 2018.

Goldberg, Jeffrey. “Donald Trump’s Mafia Mind-Set: Listening to a legendary American mobster and hearing the president of the United States.” The Atlantic, August 23, 2018.

Graham, David A. “The Many Scandals of Donald Trump: A Cheat Sheet.” The Atlantic, January 23, 2017.

Hettena, Seth. “Michael Cohen, Lanny Davis and the Russian Mafia.” Rolling Stone, August 28, 2018.

Johnston, David Cay. “Just What Were Donald Trump’s Ties to the Mob?” Politico Magazine, May 22, 2016.

Locker, Ray. “New book looks into ties between Donald Trump, Russia, but there’s more smoke than fire.” Review. USA Today, August 14, 2018.

O’Harrow, Jr. Robert and Shawn Boburg. “The man who showed Donald Trump how to exploit power and instill fear.” The Washington Post, June 17, 2016.

Unger, Craig. House of Trump, House of Putin: The Untold Story of Donald Trump and the Russian Mafia. New York: Dutton, 2018.

Unger, Craig. “Trump’s Russian Laundromat.” The New Republic, July 13, 2017.

Vesoulis, Abby. “Trump’s Team Keeps Using Mafia-Inspired Language — to Defend Itself.” Time, August 1, 2018.

Waldman, Paul. “President Trump brings mafia ethics to the GOP.” Op-ed. The Washington Post, August 23, 2018.


Keatinge, Tom. “We cannot fight cross-border laundering with local tools.” Op-ed. Financial Times, September 9, 2018.

Unger, Craig. “Understanding Trump vs. Bruce Ohr: Think Russia’s top crime boss, Semion Mogilevich.” Just Security, August 30, 2018.


FTAC: Despots – Different Talks –> Same Walk!


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Different talks — same walk! When it comes to dictators, all are malignant narcissists.

Many want to keep repeating old arguments, especially, yawn, “communism v capitalism” but the truth is more like “sweet words — foul deeds”.

Add incitement, the role played by anti-Semitic cant and libel by despots through the ages.

In the eastern tradition too — I have in mind the Golden Horde — there appears to have been no difference in treatment between persons and property, and, in fact, for some (reference Richard Pipes books on Russian history) proof of sovereignty might be made to lie in the senseless destruction of either with impunity. And I would cite as another characteristic of the “authoritarian” breed the ability to visit suffering on others at will and with impunity.

On the street, they’re bullies; in office, presidents for life.


FTAC: A Brief Encouragement for Hindu and Islamic Civilizations


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. . . in 12th Century Hungary, laws designed by Christians to discriminate against Jews were upon activation applied equally to Muslims (ref.: Rafael Patai, _The Jews of Hungary_).

What may be important for this group is differentiating between feudal and medieval political modes, much including attitudes and beliefs about religion and about ourselves, and modern political and spiritual possibilities.

At this point — right now — Muslims have become themselves first in the path of Islamic extremists. That’s something to think about when both demonizing Islam, which in its strict inception would seem to go against the grain of humanity, and ennobling its victims. The medieval world — and the feudal politics of clans, families, and tribes through the ages — has been a bloody business. As much has been part of our humanity, and we’re stuck with it, but we can transform too and produce less anger, less grievance, less horror in the world.


FTAC: Inspiration for Conscience: Netanyahu, et al.


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Heller, Aron. “Duterte visit showcases Netanyahu’s roster of tough-guy pals.” The Republic, September 2, 2018.

Given Judaism’s natural promotion for ethical and moral arguing and the “speaking of truth to power”, why would an Israeli president court the favor of the world’s most emergent autocratic leaders?

Here’s one approach to an answer.

I would not blame Netanyahu for Putin’s development of centrality in the adjacent conflict zones. Neither Israel, the more general “west” nor the Palestinians (and now the Syrians) will ever escape the effects of Soviet meddling in the middle east on the heels of the cessation of WWII. While it may be to Putin’s credit (and Lavrov’s) that the Kremlin has shifted some policies concerning the Jews, it is certainly to the west’s discredit that so little interference (to none) has forestalled the depths of the agony experienced in Syria by Syrians of all backgrounds.

The above noted, I liked the article. For my purposes, it underscores the powerful drift backward in the world toward feudal absolute power. Modern liberal Israel may not itself have the power to express pique or impose sanctions with effect: it is the smallest of states as regards that kind of financial or military power. The best it may do — and appears to be doing — is to walk the MaligNarcs (“malignant narcissists”) through a little bit of history from the Jewish perspective and to encourage the autocratic to reconsider what each budding or established dictator  appears to be missing in conscience.