Where it may have begun —
How it may have been sustained —
Where it may have ended this day —
Related on BackChannels
Where it may have begun —
How it may have been sustained —
Where it may have ended this day —
The Phantoms of the Soviet may be found making messes and stumbling around the places long associated with the Soviet Bloc, its captive states, sphere of influence, and its key trading partners, all linked then by their devotion to a nominal “Communism” and a realpolitik of theft by Party elites, the “nomenklatura” that effectively ran — or rubber-stamped policy — through the Soviet Era. The basket cases that come most quickly to mind: Crimea, Ukraine; Syria, whatever is left of it; Venezuela, where the well-behaved “socialists” beneath the boot of the Maduro regime have been reduced to starvation and flight while the mafia and military and state officials continue to clean up quite nicely between shipments of cocaine bound for El Norte and sex slaves trafficked out to the Caribbean Basin or beyond it.
The Phantom — and the phantoms — have multiple roles to play as the world either continues winding down down into feudal chaos, which is the way some (with the loot) would seem to have it, or as it turns and with anger and resolve recovers from the “Active Measures”, “Hybrid Warfare”, and “Reflexive Control” methods that have brought post-Cold War East-West Conflict back to life with frightful — and unfolding — prospects for the world’s future.
Moscow has returned itself and much that it touches back to political horror. It has been arming the Taliban in Afghanistan; committing murder in Great Britain (and elsewhere); courting Islam and brutalizing it at the same time (in a cosmic sense); ditto for Turkey; and to what end? Only God and Putin know, and of the two and who might know Russia’s future best, I’d rake the chips over to Putin.
Alexander Litvinenko, Boris Berezovsky, Sergei Skripal come to mind as victims of “hits” by Russian security forces operating on British soil, but other deaths have been similarly associated with or suspect in relation to Russian operations.
Earlier this week, we revealed that US spy agencies had handed the British government high-grade intelligence that the Russian whistleblower Alexander Perepilichnyy, who died in Surrey in 2012, was likely assassinated on the direct orders of the Kremlin – but the authorities sidelined that and other evidence pointing to murder, instead declaring that he had died of natural causes. Today, we can reveal that US intelligence officials suspect a further 13 people – including Berezovsky and eight members of his circle – have been assassinated on British soil by Russia’s security services or mafia groups, two forces that sometimes work in tandem.Blake, Heidi. “From Russia with Blood: The Kremlin’s Ruthless Assassination Program and Vladimir Putin’s Secret War on The West.” BuzzFeed News, June 15, 2017.
The same would seem to be the work of the “phantoms of the Soviet” — GRU, KGB/FSB not only remain in business as in the Soviet Era but may be perhaps insufficiently challenged on their host’s turf. ” The story of this ring of death illuminates one of the most disturbing geopolitical trends of our time – the use of assassinations by Russia’s secret services and powerful mafia groups to wipe out opponents around the globe – and the failure of British authorities to confront it,” wrote Blake back in 2017.
So here on the anniversary of the official announcing of the passing of the Soviet Union into Russia’s history — and the world’s — it would seem the more nefarious of old habits — creating wars, operating in the shadows, dominating and plundering political space with barbarous violence and ruthless ambition remain intact — and, according to BuzzFeed, more covered over by authorities than given the play deserved.
Clibbon, Jennifer. “New Gorbachev biography profiles reformer who helped end Cold War but has no place in today’s Russia.” CBC, October 15, 2017. Book review of William Taubman’s Gorbachev: His Life and Times (W.W. Norton & Company, 2017).
“I think we had forgotten how organically ruthless the Russians could be,” said Peter Zwack, a retired military intelligence officer and former defense attaché at the United States Embassy in Moscow, who said he was not aware of the unit’s existence.
Bukovsky, Vladimir. Judgment in Moscow: Soviet Crimes and Western Complicity. California, 2019.
Gaddis, John Lewis. The Cold War: A New History. New York: The Penguin Press, 2005.
Grigas, Agnia. Beyond Crimea: The New Russian Empire. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2016.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Old Regime: The History of Civilization. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1974.
Pipes, Richard. The Russian Revolution. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990.
Polishchuk, Arkady. Dancing on Thin Ice. Los Angeles, Doppel House Press, 2018.
Remnick, David. Lenin’s Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire. New York: Random House, 1993.
Smith, Hedrick. The Russians. New York: Times Books, 1983.
Soldatov, Andrei and Irena Borogan. The New Nobility: The Restoration of Russia’s Security State and the Enduring Legacy of the KGB. New York: Public Affairs, 2010.
For additional volumes, see the “Russian Section” of the library that has accompanied the development of this blog.
The inspiration for this post was a “Stop the Lies” (Facebook Group) video showing a well-informed Israeli taking apart an argument made by a pro-BDS type standing up for the “suffering of the Palestinians under occupation”, an Orwellian trope if ever was. Here’s the truth:
The nationalism may be off-putting for showing little regard for the Palestinian main base — those who are ruled — in light of the politically corrupt and suppressive atmospheres maintained by both the PLO/PA (the “phantoms of the Soviet”) and the Islamist Hamas. Israelis may benefit from more widely acknowledging the general political insecurity of the Palestinians (whose repression really is hideous) and the intent of their leaders to keep them intellectually disinformed, misguided, and deeply weaponized (the basic message being “The Jews stole your land and God wants you to take it back!”).
Palestinian laws associated with collaboration and cooperation with Israelis have been barbaric (I haven’t looked in a while, but the general condition remains that of war and thus the military occupation and [COGAT] presence in aspects of Palestinian life (http://www.cogat.mod.gov.il/en/about/Pages/default.aspx ).
Pro-Israel liberals may wish to look over the “talking point” that would be the defense of Pro-Israeli Palestinians and Palestinian dissidents who need security for speaking their minds and for civil action.
“Medieval v Modern”
It’s a trope here on BackChannels, and it has an analog:
“Feudal Political Absolutism v Democratic Checked and Distributed Power”
More state of mind than state, “Kurdistan” has already its “Medieval v Modern” civil separation, and perhaps unwittingly, the Soviet-Era PKK, a NATO and U.S. State Department designated terrorist organization, remains mired in the flipped absolutism of the Bolshevik Revolution.
Another BackChannels trope, this one about Russia: “Two major revolutions in one-hundred years (1917-2017), three forms of government, and not one change in the nation’s affections in relation to ‘paternal authoritarianism'”.
For that last label, “paternal authoritarianism”, credit the late scholar Richard Pipes, but BC will not be looking up the specific source at this time.
The affection for strongmen — and perhaps helplessness before their “politically absolute” organizations — has the medieval world clawing the modern one backward.
Of course, the defectors from medieval worlds, those made refugee by them, those left bereft and without defenses, essentially drain the tapped resources of the same, leaving those worlds to become spiritually hollow, absent of conscience, lacking in their own humanity, and burnt out and purposeless.
Moscow, that “Third Rome”, has deals — call it what it is: “leverage” — with everyone: Assad, Khamenei, Hezbollah — low-hanging fruit: the “Syrian Tragedy”, BackChannel’s term, could not have taken place without Moscow’s endorsement and direct military support in arms and occasional actions (like bombing hospitals); Erdogan: “Turkish Stream” – Big Energy project demanding Ankara’s cooperation with Moscow: France – Marine Le Pen and the Newest Nationalism — but France is more brave in its defense of its still revolutionary democracy — Le Pen lost her bid for the presidency; Germany – energy supply dependence; Hungary – Orban’s bromance and narcissism; USA – only Mueller knows . . .
The text about to be quoted accompanied as introduction on the BackChannels reading page on Facebook the URL to Roy Gutman’s December 28, 2018 political analysis in The Intercept in which he lays out aspects of character and control by the PKK that had been long supported by Moscow through the end of the Soviet Era and, obviously, 26 years beyond.
The problem BackChannels has seen has been that of Moscow operating the Syrian Theater in a way that perpetuates the existence of ISIS for as long as it remains a politically useful tool against the liberal and open democracies of the west.
In essence, it appears the Soviet methods in power imparted to the PKK during Russia’s Communist Party Era have become ingrained and difficult for western or liberal allies of the Kurds to displace.
In response and with reference to https://theintercept.com/2018/12/28/syria-withdrawal-kurds-pkk/
The Phantoms of the Soviet, a government dissolved in bankruptcy more than 26 years ago, continue to haunt or shadow the Kurdish Community in its bid for survival against the emergent Turkish Sultanate, as BackChannels views it, still supported by NATO, and ISIS, which is “handled” by Damascus as flanked by Moscow and Tehran.
In the ganglion of the Syrian Tragedy, too many threads lead back to Moscow — and Moscow has well demonstrated its peculiar absence of conscience in the general support of Assad the Tyrant, its own repeated bombings of Syrian hospitals, and its defense of Iranian advanced missile manufacturing.
Moscow has also partnered with Ankara on the Turkish Stream energy project.
The true battle is one having to do with time: the medieval world of feudal absolute power — the power known to the world’s dictatorships, none of them responsible to either the Earth or Humanity — wishes to overrun the modern one built on the freedom accompanying democratically checked and distributed power.
According to Gutman, the Kurds appear stuck with both old habits of mind and with the organizational habits that have flowed down from the Soviet Era.
Of late, Kurdish representatives online have taken to pairing the United States and NATO with the backing of Turkey, a state no longer even proto-democratic and one long bent on the cultural annihilation of the Kurds. While the rhetoric may be shrugged away, the character of the PKK, well described by Roy Gutman (as cited) but also by Kyle Orton (as referenced below) may not be so easily covered over or glossed.
What portion of the Kurdish People remain behind or with the PKK?
That’s an open question for BackChannels.
Defectors from the conscripted ranks of the organization apparently (so noted by Gutman) have some options within “Kurdistan”, but the impression made by the Soviet affiliate would today repulse all humanity-, freedom-, and peace-loving advocates of influence in western politics who would otherwise more enthusiastically support a true indigenous people’s striving for autonomy and self-determination.
The flag better known to represent “Kurdistan” in the west (as judged at least by the “Flag of Kurdistan” page on Wikipedia):
During the seven-year course of the KGB Theater’s Production — call it “guided” (most likely) — of “Assad v The Terrorists”, Bashar al-Assad has managed to barrel bomb half his state into rubble and destroy or displace nearly half of his population (as known in 2011). He has won for his efforts the expansion of Russian and Iranian military interests on his formerly sovereign property and through related sadism — reference: Sednaya Prison — lost entirely the respect of the modern world.
As regards Soviet / post-Soviet alignment with Moscow, much less Damascus, the Kurds may not expect to sustain their alignment with the ruthless (who would even provide the useful enemy known as ISIS) while currying the favor of the democratic, humanist, liberal, and deeply socialized west.
dictatorship, feudal absolute power v democratic distribution, feudal political absolutism, medieval v modern, Omar al-Bashir, Phantoms of the Soviet, responsive and responsible governance, Sudan, Sudan protests, tyranny, Ukraine and Sudan
The Sudanese have only to look toward Syria to know how bad revolution before a tyrant may become. While the spectacle of the Syrian Tragedy may have been expected to quell enthusiasm for a similarly motivated revolution in Sudan, it appears to BackChannels at this hour that caught between starvation and a tyrant, the Sudanese motivation — and perhaps the motivation of the military as well — may grow the violence and the level of direct threat encountered by President(-for-Life) Omar al-Bashir.
One blogger, Martha Leah Nangalama, has already picked up on a Middle East Monitor post reporting today Bashir’s evacuation from a mosque.
Of particular and peculiar interest in that story may be the bonding expressed between dictatorships
In Ankara, deputy chairperson of the ruling Justice and Development party Cevdet Yilmaz also expressed support for Al-Bashir’s government after a meeting with the Sudanese ambassador on Wednesday
“We support the legitimate government of Sudan. Turkey has faced similar ploys many times,” Yilmaz said, adding that Turkey is confident that the government is sensitive to the demands of the Sudanese people and would avoid violence.
Although Erdogan’s Turkey exploits NATO for its military defense from Russian aggression in that dimension, it has effectively destroyed democracy in the state and bonded with Russia — or leveraged itself — with the “Turkish Stream” energy project. Basically for the Turks, liberal democracy and freedom have died in their homeland, and they have become part of an increasingly family-run business masquerading some as a sultanate.
“In most of Sudan’s almost 170 cities and big towns, someone has been shot. In some of them, more than 15 people have been shot. The shooting is happening through unofficial types of militia that the regime is using,” says Khansaa Al Kaarib, a Sudanese human rights lawyer and activist.
“For 30 years, this is what the Sudanese people have been getting from Bashir: Killing, killing, killing and more killing. People are simply fed up with this and they want to change this regime. They want to get out of the perception of a people lying under an ICC-wanted criminal, as soon as possible.”
The Sudanese story has had a similar start with a modest protest driven by hunger — i.e., economic protest with ecological variables in play — met by escalating means of repression, including live fire that taken or produced martyrs that in turn have become the focus of additional protests.
For Sudanese now active in shutting down Bashir’s goverment and replacing with a government more modern, responsive, and responsible, here is the voice from that other protest against continued (and Russian) feudal political absolutism as once represented by the corrupt and thuggish Viktor Yanukovych:
BackChannels awaits the Sudanese version: “I am Sudanese, and we have tired of the war criminal in Khartoum . . . .
Elmileik, Aya. “What prompted the protests in Sudan: Protests that started over the rising costs of bread and fuel have now widened with calls for the overthrow of al-Bashir.” Al Jazeera, December 26, 2018.
Channel 4’s retelling has a biblical sound to it: “Beatings. Mass arrests. Teargassing . . . .”
Sadly, BackChannels may be able to add the additional seven plagues to what has most recently been ascribed to the less than beloved dictator Omar al-Bashir.
“Death squads” have been given mention as well.
Six more plagues to go.
And God is Greater.
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.
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.
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.”
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!
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.”
The Palestinians may end the occupation any day by ceding Israel to Israel and establishing peace between themselves in the Preoccupied Territories. Decency in governance would follow and the recognition of an authentic Palestinian state would follow on that.
What and who are holding up the Palestinians?
There’s no cliffhanger left in the above question.
On BackChannels —
confused battlespace, dictatorship, flag disorientation, Liwa al-Quds, medieval v modern, middle east conflict, Palestine Hospital Bombing, Phantoms of the Soviet, political chaos, Syria, Yarmouk Camp
The compressed link leads to this apparently unedited or particularly grim header:
BackChannels requested additional information, and this came in:
Most important info missing, the Yarmouk camp is under ISIS. The offensive to liberate the Palestinian Yarmouk camp is led by Palestinian militias, most notably Liwa al-Quds.
Liwa al-Quds is an Assad-aligned Sunni Palestinian fighting organization.
In the Soviet / post-Soviet medieval time bubble, the spectacle attending the bombing of a Palestinian hospital in the Palestinian enclave of Yarmouk in Syria appears that of a Palestinian Sunni force pitted against independent Sunni extremist forces to which, for enmity as viewed by Liwa al-Quds, the western-leaning Free Syrian Army appears appears to have been attached, although western alignment would seem also pitched against ISIS and other Sunni (and Shiite) extremists.
Among Liwa al-Quds allies, the Phantoms of the Soviet Era align: Ba’ath Brigades, Hezbollah, (Syrian) National Defence Forces, Russia, Syrian Armed Forces, Syrian Armed Forces, each defending “political absolutism”, the survival of dictatorship itself — and of dictatorships, BackChannels has long remarked, “Different talks — same walk!”
The walk seems to be that of a march toward the accumulating of wealth and power without end, without limit, and without purpose other than the experience of it (in the political psychology, the malign narcissistic process may begin with “narcissistic mortification” and end with “narcissistic supply”).
Among Liwa al-Quds opponents: minus the Free Syrian Army, defenders of the very same thing!
Missing from the picture: family, financial, and personal relationships. The interlocking details involving persons and personal interests would be another and more granular level down in public reporting, and such investigative work might be unwelcome where it would be gathered.